Saturday, July 31, 2004

"You caught me mending my fences" 

Just in case you hadn't seen this Will Ferrell video yet... it's funny (via Current Events Monitor).

New to the blogroll is the highly informed and polemical Empire Notes.
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Friday, July 30, 2004

...Well, do ya punk? 

After surprisingly low emplyment numbers in June, and today's disappointing report of only 3% GDP growth last quarter, Bush is beginning a furious month of "heart & soul" campaigning with the signature refrain:

"We've turned the corner, and we're not turning back."

That seems quite risky, since a lackluster jobs number next Friday morning would send the markets and the media in a tizzy. Then Greenspan would get grilled by Congress, about the breadth and depth of this "soft patch". The Bush campaign could look terribly out of synch if headlines read "Anemic job growth; economists worried" while he's asserting that we're all in the clear. I'll make no predictions this time, but will simply say to Karl Rove,

You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?
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Thursday, July 29, 2004


A point I'd like to make about the overall Boston convention is how it boxes in the Republicans. This orgy of unity and flag-draped patriotism will not be effectively recast as doom and gloom pessimism. The networks, when not discussing the balloon drop, cited the many rhetorical references within Kerry's words. But Kerry's underlying message to the GOP was: you won't outflank us on optimism, patriotism or security, and when you condemn "gay marriage" you're gonna look divisive.

Favorite quote: "I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."

Side notes: That was good delivery, for Kerry. But it was rushed, and he perspired. The delegates were subdued in far too many instances.

My earlier recommendation for Kerry to address the July Surprise probably wouldn't've been prudent. I thought it would be bigger news than it apparently is, yet I'm sure Rove's happy because the story will share the front page with pictures of Kerry. Perhaps Wes Clark (who gave a helluva speech today) could have done it, but in retrospect my idea probably would have backfired politically. I guess I'm just eager to find a way to innoculate against an October surprise.
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I love surprises 

Announcement of Pakistan's capture of an al-Qaeda High Value Target, just as predicted earlier this month in a TNR report:

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Who thinks this is pure coincidence?
Now, review the implications if it is not.

Update: This was reported so late in the game, what I'm about to propose is a fantasy, but here's what I think Kerry should do tonight. Go off script, and address this specific issue calmly yet forcefully. Refer to the TNR article and make news by publically asking whether the administration has cut a political deal with Pakistan in delaying the capture of dangerous men to suit political ends. Pledge to never abuse the nation's security interests for political purposes.

Also, I realize today is the twenty-ninth, the final day of the convention.
Update #2 (7/31): From the AP story, my emph:
Hayyat announced the arrest after midnight in Pakistan in an interview with Geo television, an unusually late hour considering the arrests were made Sunday and authorities had known but not revealed the man's identity for some days.

Pakistani leaders have rejected allegations they time the announcements of major terror arrests for maximum impact, though several other arrests have come on the eve of important Pakistan-U.S. summits. Al-Qaida suspect Ramzi Binalshibh was nabbed in Karachi on Sept. 11, 2002, the one year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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Professor, what's another word for pirate treasure? 

I agree with Josh that Edwards was not at full strength last night.  The perspiration and hoarse voice indicated he was still under the weather-- but, then, aren't we all?  That's fine, though, because Edwards at 85% is still pretty good, and Kerry won't seem (as) dull by comparison this evening.

Hairy Fish Nuts has an idea about how to frame the choice for the Nick at Nite crowd.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

An aural treasure trove for you! 

From the press release of a new box set of New Orleans music entitled Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans:

New Orleans music has been documented thoroughly on recording and in print -- but never like this. "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" takes the music of the Big Easy outside the history museum and puts it back amidst the total experience of being there -- the hurricanes to go, the crawfish etoufee, the voodoo rituals, the beads, the sultry Caribbean winds -- and mixes it up with four CDs worth of new and old Crescent City sounds. According to reissue executive producer Gary Stewart, "It's one big mess, and we like it like that."

The audio portion of "Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" takes the vibrancy of New Orleans music clear outside of academic chronological and mixes the originators and the progeny of New Orleans music. Featured are 85 songs by such artists as Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, The Meters, Jelly Roll Morton, Marcia Ball, Geno Delafose & French Rockin. Boogie, Sonny Landreth, Little Richard, Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler, Clarence .Frogman. Henry, Chris Kenner, Buckwheat Zydeco, Shirley & Lee, The Neville Brothers, The New Birth Brass Band, Dave Bartholomew and the Radiators. Compiled and annotated by KCSN-FM "Down Home" show host Chuck Taggart, a native, it's an open-all-night rockin' N'awlins dance party. Grab a hurricane in a go cup and roam the city's legendarily diverse and influential sounds.

Order the boxed set ($59) and plan at least one party around it.  Creator and compiler Chuck Taggart deserves hearty congratulations and thanks.  Visit him daily at Looka!

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Where in blazes is Tom Benson? 

Da Paper on the proposed convention center/new stadium combo:

The team has been silent since [Governor] Blanco floated the proposal. And it's not clear whether the team would be willing to pay the $100 million it pledged in the past or to give up a portion of its $186 million cash inducement.

Saints officials would not comment Tuesday.

"Tim Coulon and I have talked about what do the Saints really want?" [restaurateur Ralph]Brennan said. "And I don't know the answer to that." (my emphasis)

Sportstalk expert and Crescent City lover Kaare Johnson  has forcefully urged Saints owner Tom Benson to speak up about the new stadium.  What does Benson think?  How can he contribute? Is he still willing to put $100 million towards it?  More importantly, will he talk to the NFL about some "G3" loan financing, which Johnson estimates at between $80-100 million?  (Such loans are offered by the NFL for renovations and new construction.)  Benson could literally tip the balance on this whole matter, and if he invests enough verbal support (and financial commitment) at this crucial moment, he (or his family) will see hundreds of millions added to the value of his team.

Benson's silence right now is inexplicable, especially when it affects his own long-term interest.  Get in the game, man!  Your assertive hand could make this happen!

(Ricky has more on the story.)
Speaking of inexplicable acts, Peter Finney's column on Ricky Williams is not to be missed.  He accurately compares Ricky's "search for truth" to the tragic case of ex-Saint Joe Don Looney, who gave up football to "sail around the Far East, in the company of LSD, marijuana and Peruvian cocaine, finally landing in India where he would spend four years scrubbing elephants. "   (my emph)

If I see or hear another person mention head-case Williams in the same sentence with Barry Sanders or Jim Brown, my barbaric yawp will reverberate over the rooftops.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My three favorite things about President George W. Bush (non-sarcastic edition) 

1. Famous scene at ground zero September 14, 2001.  Intuitively perfect: 

With bullhorn in hand, he spoke to the crowd, but the noise of the work kept many from hearing the president and they repeatedly shouted they could not hear him. Mr. Bush looked out across the firefighters and volunteers and replied, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

2.  His speech on democracy (11/06/03) is one of the best by any president in modern times.

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time... We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind. 

3. Selecting Colin Powell , the first African-American Secretary of State.

(Positive and non-sarcastic commentary for this post would be preferred.  Since the man is going to get repeatedly waylaid by YRHT for the next three months, I thought I should post my favorite things about him.)

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Monday, July 26, 2004

Just as Elvis inspired a thousand imitators... 

Really, does anyone do it better than Bill Clinton?  Even when he has to race through a speech due to time constraints, he can still effortlessly weave the oratorical magic... I swear, afterwards, even Brit Hume and the Fox "All-Stars" were noticeably loopy from Elvis' ether.  

Marvelous.  The best politician you'll ever see. 

Retail suggestion:  whenever trolling through those godforsaken outlet malls I've always been mystified by the persistence of the Big Dog sportswear brand.  It always seems so dated and boring.  What in heck is the appeal of "Big Dog" attitude, anyway? 

Well, if sales ever decline and they  need a celebrity tie-in... I think the choice is obvious.   The Big Dog was large and in charge tonight.

Update: The rude pundit exults: Sometimes you just wanna tell Bill Clinton, "Fuck it. I'd've blown you, too."   Classic, killer line.

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If I was there, my sign would say: 

Texcommunicate Bush!
Not bad.  Combines my antipathy for the man and (much of) his state.  What's your sign?

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