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  • Archive for August, 2004

    Two Chicago Boyz, Four or Five Opinions

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 17th August 2004 (All posts by )

    I started posting comments to this thread at David’s Medienkritik, and found out that Ralf Goergens was there before me — he was advocating calm, while I was frothing like one of those talk radio callers.

    The subject was the US pullout from Europe (mostly from Germany). Ralf correctly points out that the US has already drawn down its forces by about 3/4. The withdrawal will include the last American armored division (1st AD) and the 1st Infantry Division. The army strength will probably bottom out at two brigades. The Ramstein AFB is likely to remain. Small installations will probably be built in Eastern Europe as staging areas. There will also be a movement of US forces away from the DMZ in Korea. Seoul is quite close to the line, and the area has become too built up for military use. The US forces will move farther south for defense in depth, but there will also be a net withdrawal from Korea.

    I have to agree with Ralf that the economic impact on Germany is likely to be localized and small. The Bush administration denies that there is any punitive aspect to the decision, which is really just one in a series of adjustments to the end of the Cold War. Maybe, maybe not.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Movable Type Question

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th August 2004 (All posts by )

    How do I configure MT 2.63 so that the blog admin receives emailed notification of ALL comments (i.e., not just comments on his own posts)? If this can’t be done via MT’s menu I am interested in any workarounds, plug-ins or hacks.

    Thanks.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Kerry Hasn’t Changed

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Last night I watched C-SPAN’s broadcast of John Kerry and John O’Neill on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971. Both O’Neill and Kerry came across as very sharp, very good debaters. Both scored rhetorical points. O’Neill was effective at putting Kerry on the spot about his generalizations about U.S. soldiers committing war atrocities. Kerry was smoother, more polished, more confident, and on some occasions was able to use his confidence to make O’Neill look like he was pushing too hard. (Nice trick.)

    I was struck by the substantive differences between Kerry and O’Neill’s worldviews, and by the extent to which their respective arguments have held up since. O’Neill cautioned that precipitate withdrawal of American forces and support from South Vietnam could lead to a bloodbath — a suggestion that Kerry scoffed at. The passage of time reveals that O’Neill was prescient and Kerry was naive.

    Kerry also seemed confident that the Vietnamese communists could be counted on to negotiate in good faith about the return of U.S. prisoners. Again, Kerry looks naive from the vantage of history. And he seemed to miss the big picture: that South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos — imperfect but relatively open societies — were under attack by communist imperialists determined to impose totalitarian rule. Where O’Neill was leery of handing victories to our enemies, Kerry talked as though he believed the communists would stop bothering everyone if only the United States would withdraw from the region, and if only the South Vietnamese government would take some civics lessons. In Kerry’s view it seemed to be all about us. Needless to say, the 1970s and 1980s, with Vietnamese boat people, the horrors of reeducation camps and the Khmer Rouge’s genocide, the communist expansion into Africa and Central America, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the failure of “detente” in U.S.-USSR relations, were not kind to Kerry’s view.

    I don’t know what O’Neill’s like now, but my impression of Kerry is that his worldview hasn’t changed significantly since 1971. He still sounds like that old broken record from the Dick Cavett Show — confidently posturing, making sweeping negative generalizations about the U.S., assuming good motives of other countries, avoiding specifics, and trying to be on both sides of an issue when someone calls him on one of his generalizations. This kind of behavior may be tolerable in a debate, where all that matters is scoring points, but a president has to be able to understand the big picture and make decisions. Kerry didn’t, and still doesn’t, appear able to do that.

    UPDATE: Jim Miller has related thoughts.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    Video: Bald Cow Reunion Concert, Berwyn, Illinois, Memorial Day 2004

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Moo!

    At long last, as promised.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Music | Comments Off on Video: Bald Cow Reunion Concert, Berwyn, Illinois, Memorial Day 2004

    A Literary Note for a Nonliterary Blog:

    Posted by Ginny on 15th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Ted Kooser was named Poet Laureate this week. His quiet poems and observations of Nebraska capture both mood and tempo of small town & farming plains life. A retired vice president of Lincoln Benefit Life, he has, rather quietly, built a body of work. This year he published Delights and Shadows. Ed Ochester, editor of the Pitt Poetry Series, which published his first collection, Sure Signs, in 1980 and three more collections of his poetry, says:

    “His work ultimately deals with the everyday stress we encounter all around,” he said. “His works have a way of bringing a new understanding to ordinary life and, really, that’s what poetry is supposed to do.”

    His fine creative non-fiction includes Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Day 11: Mr. Mojo Goes To Washington

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 15th August 2004 (All posts by )

    A few days with no Internet access has left the recent parts of our journey undocumented. Our visit to Cornflake’s new home in Blacksburg Virginia was uneventful, with the mild exception of leisurely visits to the local pubs. I shall spare you any detailed photographic evidence of our somewhat successful carousing, and skip to the next and near-final stop on this grand adventure. Today we reached the capital of the most powerful nation to ever exist on this planet.


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 14th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Brian Lamb’s retirement: he has decided to retire his “Booknotes” on December 5 (his 800th show). Thanks to Mr. Barnard for the link and I suspect many of us will agree with his description of this as “bad news.” Mourning the passing of this lovely end to the weekend,

    Lamb’s idiosyncratic interview techniques were eulogized. “Lamb’s show is the most strait-laced stream-of-consciousness bit of showbiz on a rigidly anti-showbiz outlet in the history of entertainment,” said one author who did not wish to be identified because he had been a guest on the show.

    But, then, I suspect we can also sympathize with Lamb; he has earned both writers’ and viewers’ respect because of his careful reading. He notes with pride he has never missed a show in all those years. Still “It’s been great, but I also think it seemed, in many ways, like I was always studying for a semester exam every week. Even kids in school get the summers off.”
    Saturday: Further on Lamb in Fund’s column.

    This Sunday, however, he remains the host for Booknotes (8:00 p.m. and again 11:00) on C-SPAN 1. This week’s interview is with Dennis Hastert, whose book, Speaker: Lessons from 40 Years in Coaching and Politics is “a true Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story, full of lived-in wisdom, funny anecdotes, and straight talk about what goes on in the “smoke-filled” rooms of congressional power.”

    The featured program from last week is replayed, a panel discussion of life at the fed, with Laurence Meyer’s A Term at the Fed, on at 4:30 Sunday morning. And a popular blogger, Virginia Postrel, is the subject of the “Encore Booknotes” with her The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress which airs at 7:00 Saturday evening and again 11:00 Sunday morning.

    CSPAN2’s Book TV offers seven new programs this weekend. The “Featured Program” is Tommy Franks’ discussion of his American Soldier. This will be Sunday at 2:00 and 10:00 p.m. and Monday at 7:00 a.m.

    Gen. Tommy Franks (Ret.) writes about his life growing up in Oklahoma and Texas and his later life as a career military man seeing combat in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and most recently Iraq as Commander in Chief of United States Central Command. General Franks retired in August of 2003 after more than 35 years in the Army. During a talk at the National Press Club, the author spoke about leading the process leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom and answered questions from members of the audience.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    A Perspective on Kerry

    Posted by Ginny on 13th August 2004 (All posts by )

    As I’ve followed the blogosphere on the Swift Boat Veterans , I realized what I feel isn’t important. But the Iraqis are expecting us to cover their backs. Will Kerry?

    Iraqis can take comfort in changes. As other posts & commentators have noted, the death toll is down. And the future in that particular area seems to be looking up. Sure, Iran stirs the pot with Sadr. Still, an Iraqi knows that Iran’s other flank is covered not by an Afghanistan of the Taliban and Al-Quaeda training camps, but one whose real problems (poppy fields, tribal loyalties) are countered by a greater transparency, an opening economy, elections. That Iraqi realizes the freedoms he now knows to choose among newspapers, to gather with his friends gives hope to the dissidents in Iran. Encouraged, they have little desire to change his country but rather their own. Therefore, his future looks brighter. And an Iraqi might suppose Americans would stay from self interest – a world safer for Iraqis is safer for Americans.

    And so, surely, America will offer the support Iraq still needs. Surely America will continue to build roads and wells and power lines; surely America will fund schools. Surely, America wants this country to stand sturdy and free. Surely, that is true no matter who is president. And surely, a man who dived in to save a fellow sailor will dive in to the hard work ahead. Nor could such a man sell out Iraq to the UN of “oil for food” and the France of Elf oil contracts. I suspect, however, that Iraqi might feel some hesitation as Kerry describes America’s need to “reach out” to the “international community.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

    I Suppose we Shouldn’t Even Bother to Vote

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th August 2004 (All posts by )

    It would appear that a new Gallup poll has found that Pres. Bush’s approval rating has just hit 51%. According to the pollsters, this means that Bush has it in the bag.

    The share of Americans who say they approve of the job Bush is doing inched over the 50% mark to 51%. No president who was at or above 50% at this point in an election year has lost.

    But it’s just a poll. The only thing that matters is the voting, both the popular vote and the Electoral College.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    P. J. O’Rourke Interviews Colin Powell

    Posted by Lexington Green on 12th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Good interview from the Atlantic. Powell comes off as a sensible guy, the same sense one gets from his autobiography.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Here’s What I Want to Know

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Can Alan Keyes run for Governor in New Jersey at the same time as he’s running for the Senate in Illinois?

    UPDATE: My question was tongue-in-cheek, but only just. As Sandy P. points out in the comments, the Governor scheduled his resignation for too late a date to make an electoral challenge possible in November.

    McGreevey was politically astute to go for preemptive full disclosure as soon as it became clear that damaging information about him would eventually come out. Now he puts it behind him and does the national Democrats a favor. If he had denied or been evasive, the leaks and scandal would have been front-page news for a long time and would have diverted badly-needed media attention from John Kerry. And by not resigning immediately he makes it much easier for the NJ Dems to replace him (and thereby does them a favor that he can call in one day). I see Oprah and a comeback in his future.

    I’d hate to be his wife or kids, though.

    UPDATE 2: Jim Miller makes a number of good points about media complicity in covering up, or at least not asking obvious questions about, McGreevey’s behavior. The Governor apparently arranged both State and private-sector employment for his lover, who was obviously unqualified for the jobs. Miller argues, I think correctly, that such corruption would likely have elicited much more media interest if McGreevey had been heterosexual.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    Day 9: Deepest West Virginia — Part II

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    No travel today, just some random pictures of West Virginia:


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    An Entrepreneurial Adventure

    Posted by TM Lutas on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    The Mrs. finally bit the bullet today and let her boss know that she will be opening up her own medical practice. This is a Chicago story because we’re swimming against the tide, moving from NW Indiana to Illinois while the big story is the tide of doctors going the other direction. So is it possible for a doctor to open up a brand new (no existing patients) practice in a state in a malpractice insurance crisis? We’re going to find out and I’ll be chronicling the story here and in my individual blog Flit(TM).

    Posted in Business | 5 Comments »

    Chronological enlightenment

    Posted by Andy B on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Forgive me, but I can’t let this one fade into the ether just yet. A previous comment from Akefa stating that “the economy has only gone down since Clinton left office” , and citing “the esteemed economist Krugman’s book The Great Unraveling ” as a reference was certainly well-timed if nothing else. Had I ridden the train this morning rather than driven, I would have already read Brian Wesbury’s piece on nothing other than……the Economy. Wesbury is chief economist at GKST, and has been a voice in the wilderness for the past couple of years, pointing out the undercurrent of strength in the domestic U.S. Economy. As the numbers have steadily improved, he has picked up quite a bit of company. These few lines jumped off the page for me as I consumed a late dinner this evening:

    “After growing at a 14.5% annualized rate in the first-half of 2000, business fixed investment stopped in its tracks and grew just 1% in the second half. The Clinton White House knew this was happening. A member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), Kathryn Shaw, said in August 2001, “economic growth had started to fade in the fall of 2000.” Mr. Clinton’s CEA chairman, Joseph Stiglitz, wrote in 2002 that “the economy was slipping into recession even before Bush took office.” Al Gore said that “the economic downturn really began in March of 2000.”

    Obviously, the esteemed economist Paul Krugman holds views that are in direct conflict with the very people who presided over the start of the recession, illustrating that Mr. Clinton & Co. were the beneficiaries of some very fortunate timing, and that my friend Akefa is decidedly not.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Sarbanes-Oxley Again

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    According to the Washington Post, the SEC is thinking about delaying some of their other corporate reforms because of the effect Sarbanes-Oxley is having. The documentation, testing, and evaluation of internal controls is costing more money and taking more time than predicted. Everything does, doesn’t it? Among the initiatives that may be delayed are treating stock options as an expense, another dubious reform.

    As previously noted, the Chicago Boyz are not big fans of Sarbanes-Oxley. Maybe the only thing worse than shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is shouting “Don’t just stand there, do something!” in Congress.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    New CIA Chief

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    One thing that immediately struck me about the nomination of Porter Goss for Director of Central Intelligence was that he spent decades as an operative, running agents and working undercover. He was neither an analyst nor a bureaucrat; he worked in human intelligence. Other than as an item in his capsule biography, none of the news sources I’ve read has considered why this might be significant.

    Back in the 1970’s, the American intelligence services were cut back and placed under additional restrictions. A combination of Vietnam fatigue and a series of weak presidents created the opportunity for Congressional mischief, and Congress took full advantage. Partly as a result, the intelligence services switched to signals intelligence. Signals intelligence is gathering information by intercepting communications, monitoring energy signatures, and visual surveillance from a distance. It was cheaper, it was more palatable to the politicians, and it had less chance of turning into an international incident. Human intelligence — the kind Goss practiced — got less attention and money. You probably remember the boasting about how this satellite or surveillance airplane could pick out a license plate from umpteen miles up in the whatchamacallitsphere. It sounded good and made a great slide show.

    The problem is that while a spy satellite can read a license plate, only a human on the ground could know where the car was going next. An agent needs to be present, dealing with other people who may have one precious nugget of information. It’s messy and dangerous, and absolutely essential. When the Islamist threat came into being, we had no one in place to notice what was going on. No one on our side had gained entry to their camps or was privy to their planning. Al Qaeda even began using our electronics against us. For example, one Al Qaeda member boasted after being captured that he had taken Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone out of Tora Bora to act as a decoy. They have notoriously stayed away from cell phones lately. Human messengers are considered more reliable. Also, steganography, the technique of hiding messages in minute changes to images, is very difficult to detect. Images containing messages can be posted to a website like eBay, then accessed and decoded by the intended recipient. The image would look normal to anyone, or to any computer without the key (usually the unaltered image). Al Qaeda and its allies have been using this technique. As far as I know, there is no effective countermeasure for this.

    I take it as a good sign that Goss was nominated. Good intelligence requires human intelligence, signals intelligence, and analysis. We have been deficient in all three, but the human factor is in the worst shape. Bush made an excellent choice.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Taste of Chicago

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Ewww.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Day 8: Deepest West Virginia

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 11th August 2004 (All posts by )

    We drove from Petersburg to Clarksburg West Virginia today. Not much change in the type of scenery from yesterday, but much more of it.

    Here we are leaving Petersburg this morning:


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Day 7: Welcome To Appalachia

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 9th August 2004 (All posts by )

    The Indiana-Ohio border


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Death to Our Enemies

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Comment spammers, that is. I installed MT-Blacklist and so far it seems to work. This particular solution, like any response to a threat in an arms race, is likely to be only temporary. However, it’s better than doing nothing and then wasting a lot of time deleting garbage.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Huh?

    Posted by Andy B on 9th August 2004 (All posts by )

    So it is a gorgeous day in Chicago and I leave my office and go for a walk down LaSalle Street to Torrefazione Italia for a mid-day coffee. Truly the best in the city, they don’t burn the beans. As I leave the shop, a young lady approaches me and says in a polite and perky tone, “Would you like to help us stop Bush in November?” This is the third time in 2 months that I have been asked this question by a young kool-aid drinker on the street, and God bless them for getting involved. I respond by saying, “with 20 years in the Senate, can you point to any of John Kerry’s accomplishments that stands out and makes him a good presidential candidate?” The response: That John Kerry will stand up for the people of this country, blah, blah, blah, and George Bush has done irreparable harm, blah, blah, blah….. Just the typical spoon-fed talking points, not a hint of extemporaneous thought, nor any attempt at an answer to my question. How disappointing that was. I’m not spoiling for a fight, just for an honest effort, but all I get is pap. Most of what I see this election cycle is a largely uninformed, “undecided” segment of the electorate being pursued by largely uninformed campaign volunteers. I think I will have to resort to wearing my W 2004 baseball cap to ward off the flying monkeys (ooooh, he said MONKEYS, we know what that means) when I venture out onto the streets of my hometown.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 63 Comments »

    Day 6: Chicago And The Next Leg

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 9th August 2004 (All posts by )

    Today started out in the outskirts of Chicago and ended up in a suburb of Indianapolis.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hook up with my good friend Seed, from over at the Mint400.net due to a scheduling conflict. Also, the sage tourist advice given to us by Lexington Green was wasted due to poor follow-up and research, which left us lost no matter where we went in the Chicago area. However, we still managed to have a lovely time in Chi-Town.

    From our suburban start we made our way to the city center:


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    For You Fans of Architecture

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th August 2004 (All posts by )

    I came across a website devoted to the work of John Parkinson, a California architect who’s famous for his work in Los Angeles around 1900.

    How famous? Well, Parkinson is credited with building the first skyscraper in downtown LA, but I suppose that agreement depends on your definition of what a skyscraper is.

    The website has a really neat map of downtown LA which lists the survivng buildings that Parkinson worked on. Just the thing for a walking tour.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    This Isn’t Going to Work no Matter How Much Sense it Makes

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th August 2004 (All posts by )

    So US Ambassador John Danforth has urged the UN to avoid making one-sided resolutions against Israel at the organization’s annual session.

    As for the dozens of non-binding, anti-Israel resolutions adopted by the General Assembly annually, “these multiple resolutions are redundant, and at best tedious and boring and not a fruitful use of time,” Danforth said. “And something should be done to fix the situation I would hope that the Europeans in particular would join us to say enough is enough for these crazy resolutions.”

    I’m not holding my breath for this one.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    A Political Job

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th August 2004 (All posts by )

    The police have one of the most political jobs in this country. The voters elect politicians to the State legislature who pass or amend laws, judges who are voted into office by the voters or appointed by the elected politicians interpret those laws, and local politicians such as mayors set policy.

    See, what did I tell you? It’s lousy with politics.

    But the individual cop is powerless to promote his views past the voting booth. In most jurisdictions, police officers are barred from endorsing one candidate or political party over another. Even if they’re off duty they’d better not be caught doing something as innocent as passing out fliers or collecting signatures door-to-door. If they’re found out they’ll be fired, and if they don’t like the rules they can quit. Either way I hear McDonald’s is hiring.

    There’s a very good reason why this is the way it is. Police officers have way too much influence in the community. It would simply be unfair for them to directly meddle in the decision making process, even if there’s PAC’s like the FOP to sidestep the rules. It wouldn’t be fair to the people they have sworn to serve, and it would sully the profession.

    I’ve just read a blog post that makes a similar arguement, except the author is talking about news reporters as opposed to police officers.

    Those who work in the news industry are supposed to be non-partisan, but it’s indescribably obvious that this is simply not the case. The attempts by the mainstream media to shape public opinion has grown increasingly tiresome in recent years, and the customers who buy their product have responded. Heck, one of the main reasons I started to blog was to get some news that hadn’t been filtered or spun. (I think the same is true for most of you.)

    So what to do about this? How could the news outlets gain some credibility and respectability?

    They should do what the police do. Start firing a few of the jerks who try to spin a story.

    I’m sure that most reporters would consider this to be outrageous, unfair and draconian. After all, they like to say, there’s always going to be some bias in any news story. Reporters are human like everyone else, and their own way of looking at the world will always creep in.

    To this I say that police officers are often called upon to uphold laws that they don’t personally agree with. They do it anyway. Imagine what would happen if we allowed the cops to operate with the same double standard that the news media has decided is reasonable for their profession.

    (Hat tip to Glen for the heads up.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »