Saturday, January 31, 2004

Stop touching yourself and get back to work!

Was Max Weber right after all?

Not exactly what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the internet

Best visit to the Llamabutchers from a Google search so far:

goat + heads+ saudi+butchers

Didn't realize santeria was making inroads in the land of Mecca. Someone better alert this guy.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Ben versus Howard Stinker Watch

Amount spent on Dean for America [so far]: $40 million.

Budget to make Gigli: $54 million.

Any bets on which will be the more expensive bomb?

The Weekend

Another heapin' helpin' of bloggy goodness! I defy anybody to find another site that's managed to talk about nekked Kate Hepburn, damn Yankees, needless anti-cannibal bias, Violent Femmes lyrics and exploding whale carcasses while at the same time giving crack (or at least cracked) political analysis of a wide variety of current events today. But that's us Llama Butchers - working for you.

Having said that, I'm outta here until some time late tomorrow. I am sure my fellow LB Steve-O is already perusing the news on the Far Side of the World for your pleasure, so I'll leave the Bridge to him.



Yes. Right. THIS is gonna turn things around for the campaign!

Being Mad Howard

Steve Verdon reminds Diane Sawyer, Chris Matthews and all the other I Have A Scream penitents, that The Doctor has shown he is perfectly capable of shooting himself in the mouth without their help. HT to James Joyner.

Special Bonus Friday Choice Cut

Stephen Green takes doctrinaire libertarians to the woodshed over at VodkaPundit. Go. Read.


The Beeb's fact-challenged reporter is out. Bastard. (HT to Glenn.)

What are the stakes?

Andrew, as usual, has the sensible answer.

The "Frickin' Revolution" hits the brick wall

In the olden days, you had to wait at least six months before this sort of stuff showed up--now it comes the next day. Cackle away.


Just wanted to let Steve-O know that "nekked pics of Katharine Hepburn" has been tatooed on my brain all day, and it ain't a pretty thought!

YIPS from Steve: Just in time for your special weekend with the Butcher's Wife! Pick up some leeches on the way home and maybe you can act out the penulitmate scene from The African Queen!!!

Where the spin is heading

Howard Kurtz has the goods.

Today's After 3:00 PM Half-Price Specials

I'm in quite a good mood this afternoon, in anticipation of a rather special evening: Dinner at the home of some dear friends, followed by night at local Hyatt, completely kid free! Woooo, Ah say, Wooo-Hoooooo!!! Given that, let's get jiggy:


"Citizen Media" is what Jeff Jarvis calls the blogsphere in a long, thoughtful article on its future. I like that. Given the amazing technological advancements of the past few years, we are closer to the pure Marketplace of Ideas than any time in history that I can think of. What does the future hold? Beats me. But as a lowly insect in this new ecosystem, I like to think we're in on something pretty cool.

Meanwhile, congrats to SpinSanity for their new gig with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Whaddaya think, Steve-O, would the C-Ville Review take us on? We could do the personals for them: Tall, curly-haired Andean natives seeking free-spirited partners for snarking. Must provide own cutlery. Then we could head on down to Court Square Tavern and see who looks interested.....

And on the Quis Custodiet Front, check out the Watchers of Weasels, a new site to me. 'Course, they'd be better off watching Llamas, but that's a matter of taste. (HT to Dean.)


Cold Fury and NRO's Tim Graham both zero in on Diane Sawyer for performing a sack-cloth-and-ashes-dance over the media saturation of Mad Howard's "I Have A Scream" speech. I heard Chris Matthews say the same sort of thing when he was jawing with my drive-time radio jocks Tuesday morning before the NH primaries. Real regret? Sincere acknowledgement of biased presentation and possible abuse of power? With their track record? (Think Quayle, Starr, et al.) Puh-leease. I think what we're really seeing here is the collective realization that if Dean craters too soon, it's gonna be a looooong spring.


Eugene Volokh has a report on the latest legal lunacy in the Great White North. Just last night I was asking why we had to spend hundreds of dollars on checkups to keep our cats vaccinated and medicated when the worst possible outcome of not doing so would be that they die. I mean, is that a problem? Evidently, in Canada I'd get arrested just for not giving them kitty-treats when they want them. (Now, if this were a dog-only standard, of course I'd feel quite differently about it.)


Flo King rails about the Invasion of the Duh! People. I clearly remember this one from when it came out in print a few years back. And oldie but goodie, as they say. BTW, Mom, if you opened this link, you'd see another link that would let you buy me Flo's book. Now do you see the importance of these things?


What better for a Friday afternoon than this little gem from Amish Tech Support? Yup, anyone who's ever beer-goggled will know the wisdom of having reservations about this sort of thing....


Okay, which is more disgusting: This picture of the exploding whale Steve-O wrote about earlier this week(HT to Spoons)? Or this photo of the Arch-Bozo of Canterbury Rowan Williams getting pinned by his prom date (courtesy of the Limey Brit)? Tough choice!


Frank J is gunning for Jonah! Man, what a dog-eat-dog world. BTW, if a dog eats another dog in Canada, can it be arrested now? Just askin', eh.


Taranto processing completed. We are the Blorg.

The Vultures Circle

More bad news for Doctor Dean.

Abbott and Costello update

Who is in Paris?

More corruption in Halliburton's Amerika

Gratuitous impersonation of a DemocraticUnderground.com posting:

Stuff like this, man, makes me so ashamed at being an Amerikan! Our politicians are bought and sold like second rate weed at a Phish concert!

That's what you get

Make some random gratuitous cannibal jokes, then come across this five minutes later in the IHT.

Don King and the International Criminal Court

The indispensable Phil Carter has the goods.

Fun with Teaching Evaluations

We just got back out teaching evaluations for the fall. I include a question on the bottom "Did the instructor show bias in favor of, or against any particular political or ideological group or viewpoint? If so, what was this bias in favor of? The answers are usually quite fun, because I spend most of the time playing devil's advocate with them----my real views come out, but so do a lot others.

I put the question in to insulate me at tenure time, something that as a conservative professor you need to think about and that my more liberal colleagues would never really understand. Anyhoo, I've kept it in because most of the answers beyond "no, he encouraged us to think" turn out to be quite hilarious. Only one student has ever pegged me correctly, when she accused me of being a "Damn Yankee!" True enough.

These two gems have made the Hall of Fame [ie my office door]

Yes. Prof. [Llamabutcher] appears to be biased against needless cannibalism!

Well, sure!

This one warmed my heart:

He was biased in favor of students and against useless administrative crap, which was awesome and made class quite funny at times.

I didn't realize it showed.

To the question "Please comment on strengths and weaknesses of this course, and suggest changes that might be beneficial" one student unwittingly provided a good description of the Socratic Method:

The reading was a bit difficult for the class level and since there was so much of it, it was very hard to absorb all the information. The lectures were interesting if sometimes frustrating when no one could come up with the "correct" answer to what seemed like an open-ended question. If you came up with an answer, it was always turned into a new question!"


Today's Choice Cuts

Ya-Hoo, it's Friday!

KAY-O'ED: If Mom is dummy this round, she might want to go straight to
Krauthammer this morning, as he douses the Bush LIED meme with his usual deft skill, ably abetted by the emerging details of the Kay Report. And not a moment too soon. Sure enough, the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts liberal, who by the way served in Vietnam, is now claiming Dubya has "failed" as Commander in Chief. John, I'd be reeaaal careful about using that line. The more the Kay Report is digested, the clearer it is that Bush did the right thing. And I still strongly believe that we're going to find out a whole lot more about just what a psycho nut-job Iraq was becoming over the next few months. You keep that up, my friend, and you're going to wind up looking like this. Heh.

Meanwhile, Claudia Rosett reminds us that the whole Where Are The WMD's? issue is beside the point. My impression is that most Americans still understand this on a gut level. It will be up to Dubya and his friends to make sure that the country (and the voters) continue to keep their eye on the ball. Along these lines, VodkaMan notes that this isn't the first time our intelligence services have been duped. Don't feel too bad about missing this one Stephen. But no more mulligans.

VDH once more reminds us of what really is important and what is not. Punch line: Our efforts in Iraq to remove a genocidal murderer and inaugurate democracy are not a "quagmire," but one of the brightest moments in recent American history — and we need not be ashamed to say that, again and again and again. I hope the White House reads this column, and I hope you do to.

PRIMARY NUMBERS: How 'bout some Steyn on the State of the Race? It's useful to think of the primaries as casting auditions in front of a group of hard-core movie industry types. The actor selected may look good to them, but the question always remains: How will he play to a real audience. After all, someone thought Timothy Dalton would make a good James Bond. Somebody thought Ben Affleck and J-Lo would sell. Right now, Kerry is getting a boost amongst the insiders. But will he play in Peoria? Mark doesn't think so.

READY FOR SOMETHING LIGHTER? Mr. Lileks gives us the heads up about a new horror that makes the Teletubbies look like Noel Coward. Never heard of a Boobaah, myself, but now that I know what to look for I can strangle that particular demon spawn in its crib.

AAAAND: Megan Cox Gurden skewers the Capable Mother. Yes, Ma'am, the Butcher's Wife and I both know the type. I got my first look at erotic jazz dance and kiddies in fishnets at my daughter's ballet recital. Here was my dear little five year old dressed up in a princess leotard and tutu, the very picture of Innocence. Two minutes later, out came a gaggle of girls barely a year older than her dressed like prostitutes and Getting Their Freak On on the stage. And their parents were cheering! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what have we come to?


Thursday, January 29, 2004

Like, "Yo" and stuff

Sometime today our thousandth visitor stumbled in, wondering what the heck a "Llamabutcher" is. The debate rages: are we butchers who serve up tasty bits of llama? Or are we fierce high-Andean barbarians weilding sharpened cleavers? You make the call.

Anyway, that traffic rates us as "lowly bug" status, but I say it's pretty good for our first six weeks. According to site meter, we're popping up regularly in eleven time zones, so it's not just Rob's mom hitting the refresh button between bridge hands. Thanks!

PS--And to the viewer who found us by googling "nekkid pics of kate hepburn" my only response is.....EEWWWWWW!


So let me get this straight: journalists need to be given broad margins of error in which to report stories that may be false, but intelligence agencies and governments acting on their analysis must be always right beyond a reasonable doubt?

Rob, you're going to like this

Pejman has some interesting observations on the collapsing state of post-modern humanities departments.

I remember reading once that we gave the French Jerry Lewis, so they gave us Derrida. We responded by giving them Mickey Rourke. Heaven help us for what we are going to get in return...

Howard Dean's New Campaign Anthem

Courtesy of the Violent Femmes:

Y'know that I want your lovin'
But my logic tells me that it ain't never gonna happen
And then my defense'd say I didn't want it anyway
But you know sometimes I'm a liar
Could you ever want me to love you
Could you ever want me to care
Disregard my nervousness please ignore my vacant stares
'Cause just what I've been through
Is nothing like where I'm going to
Give me some sign to pursue a promise
And your unhappi-ness is only a guess

Harsh? The latest cutting edge theories from the political savants at....the Democratic Underground.

From The Mailbag

Re my ranting earlier today about the comic strip "Cathy":

"Cathy" getting married must be an indication the strip is on the ropes, circulation is dropping, and desperate measures are necessary. If the strip was a television sitcom, the main character would be getting married, having a baby, or indulging in lesbian experimentation.

Yes, and Oh, I hope the strip really is going down. More ranting evidently is called for, because someone apparently still reads the bloody thing: This goddam tripe has scraped across my soul like an iron claw on a blackboard for time out of mind. Every time I see a "Cathy" calendar, balloon, greeting card, coffee mug or other piece of cheap merchandise, I feel an overwhelming urge to rip it into little pieces, stamp on the bits, and slap silly the person who was fool enough to buy it. If there is any prospect of dragging this opus out behind the barn and putting a .45 slug in its brain, I will gladly hold the executioner's coat and hat and retrieve the spent shell casings.

Honest to God, I never understood the popularity of the strip. Best I can figure is that Cathy Guiswaite (approx spelling) seems to have tapped into a stratum of women frozen in a horrid late-70's Feminist Hell mindset filled with psychobabblic self-analysis, sanctimonious gender politics and soul-squandering fretting about chocolate intake, dress sizes, "self esteem" and "healthy relationships." Must I say it? NOTE TO "CATHY" FANS: Get OVER it! Snap OUT of it! Get a LIFE and a CLUE! THIS STRIP IS NOT FUNNY! IT IS NOT A CLEVER COMMENTARY ON CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY! IT IS NOT A SAFE HAVEN FROM A MALE DOMINATED WORLD! YOU ARE IN A CO-DEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP WITH A PATHETIC WASTE OF INK! EVEN BARBIE HAS MORE FREAKIN' SELF-RESPECT THAN CATHY!


That is all.

Maybe I should advise him to start wearing earth tones....

Don't doubt the power of blogging!

Yesterday, I wrote the following advice for the Dean campaign:

Between now and March 2, he's got one in the bag in all likelihood: Hawaii, on February 24. Before then, however, he needs to capitalize on three states: Michigan and Washington state on the seventh, and Wisconsin on the 17th. Washington and Wisconisn trend well for him demographically, and while akin in many ways to his home state are far enough west to count for winning out of his hometurf. But second place isn't going to cut it, if it's a continued second place finish to Kerry. This defies his fight in every state strategy articulated in the primal scream speech after Iowa, but it would make political sense: concede South Carolina, put all the chips on Missouri for next Tuesday, but in effect pour it all out in a blitz for Michigan and Washington on the seventh. If he can produce a big win in Washington, that can carry him alive until the 17th when the progressive left of Wisconsin votes. A victory there can keep him at least on the card for March 2. But without winning at least one on the 7th, and the 17th, I don't see how it can be done realistically.

[The link doesn't work because, well, blogger sucks.]

So what does Herr Docktor do?

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Howard Dean will not air ads in any of the seven states holding elections next week, officials said Thursday, a risky strategy that puts him at a distinct disadvantage with high-spending rivals for the Democratic nomination.

With his money and momentum depleted, Dean decided to save his ad money for the Feb. 7 elections in Michigan and Washington state and, 10 days later, the primary in Wisconsin, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dean runs the risk of falling off the political map with seven defeats Tuesday, the officials acknowledged. Dean is gambling that he can pick up delegates with second- and third-place finishes while rivals John Edwards and Wesley Clark spend themselves out of the race.

This makes sense, given the position they've put themselves in. To use a sports analogy, they need the frontrunner [Kerry] and the fluffy puppy [Edwards--ie the candidate being given the crush treatment by the media---and don't cry foul, as Dean was the fluffy puppy all spring and summer] to fail in order to make the playoffs. Their destiny is not in their hands. [Insert master of your domain joke here]

Soooooooooo, what they need to do now is to go error free: let the media swarm around Kerry [did he get Botox? How's his support for the Pats going to play in Carolina next week?], let the media get out of their "win a dream date with john edwards" phase, and reemerge at the end of the month as the "new" Dean---humble-er, contrite, more polished, but still earnest and serious.

But to do that, to survive, they need to be error free: no unforced errors. NOTHING to add fuel to the fire that their guy is the original Raging Porcupine, the glass-jawed prep school bully, the George Wallace of the pierced and latte-ed set.


So what do they go and do?

Same story:

"I think you are going to see a leaner, meaner organization," Dean told reporters Wednesday night.

That officially seals it: he truly is a clueless idiot. First of all, a meaner organization? Is he out of his freakin mind? Does that translate into Al Franken AND Jeanine Garafalo in Hells Angels jackets shoving shivs through the ribs of hecklers? Howard, you need to do everything in your power to dispel the congealing image of you as a, well, mean prick. This isn't the way to do it.

"We had geared up for what we thought would be a front-runner's campaign. It's not going to be a front-runner's campaign. It's going to be a long, long war of attrition."

Finally some candor: you were looking ahead to the general election. Candor is good, it is part of the way to show that you have learned and grown as a candidate. But then you go and fark it up by talking about a long war of attrition! Are you completely unhinged?

Officials hope that Dean emerges later in February as an alternative to front-runner John Kerry and engages in "guerrilla warfare" until he wins the nomination or is mathematically eliminated.

That's great. Purrrrr-fect. Now you've set yourself up for the "Howard Dean getting pulled out of a spider hole" jokes. Seriously, what are they thinking?

Further bad news in the same article:

He replaced his campaign manager with a former Washington lobbyist and one-time top aide to Al Gore and asked his staff to defer their paychecks for two weeks to recover from costly losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.

This folks is what good old Ross Perot referred to as the "giant sucking sound." I guess Howard's about to do his part to add to the jobless recovery.

Further schaudenfraude:

Dean's backers are dubious. In a conference call with members of Congress who have endorsed him, he was told bluntly that finishing second wasn't good enough - that he had to show he could win a primary.

The end is nearer than I thought.

Flying Down To Rio

What an a**hole. Money quote: [F]light attendants had to "restrain other passengers who wanted to beat him up."

Via Drudge.


I was going to work up a post on the differing views of Stephen Green and James Joyner regarding what damage Dubya might be doing to his base with all of his new spending initiatives, but I see The Vodkaphile beat me to it.

Then I was going to follow on about the dangers of trying to draw too close a parallel between Dubya '04 and George Sr. '92, but Mike Potemra over at The Corner beat me to that, as well. (Scroll on down to see a lively discussion amongst the Cornerites about Dubya's latest NEA proposal and antagonizing the base.)

THEN I was just going to drop the whole thing and instead say something snarky about Pamela Anderson's, er, assets, but Fark and the Weekly World News beat me to THAT!


Check out this PETA rant captured by the good folks at WizBang.

Hell, the Colonel should have come to us. We'd have shown him how to do it right!


Wow! Must Hide Under The Covers!

Check out this vertigo-inducing tour of, well, everything. And don't tell me this all just "happened".....

HT to Glenn.

Today's Mid-Afternoon Specials

Sorry about this morning's deliveries. Just one of those things, ya' know? And since I'm going to have to plunge back into the fray in just a bit, we're going to go ahead and combine the weightier stuff from this morning with the traditionally lighter afternoon-type items. And if it all seems just a bit disjointed, well it has nothing to do with random thoughts about lanky, husky-voiced actresses.....

(Ed. - AHEM!)

Right. Now, where were we? Ah, yes:

SHRUB WATCH: Over to the Volokh Conspirary, David Bernstein has some musings about why Dubya drives liberals crazy, noting some parallels to conservative hatred of Clinton. I've seen this sort of thing before and think there is something to it. But my own frustration with Clinton "getting away with things" was only one component of my antipathy - I thought the man was simply scum in and of himself.

BAGHDAD BLOGS: Jeff Jarvis talks about several Iraqi bloggers, including Ali, who rips Mad Howard a new one with a demand to know just how the hell Dean can claim that Iraqi standards of living have fallen as a result of the war. But you should check out the other sites as well. These are Iraqi voices, unwashed, uncensored and not filtered through the likes of the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation or CNN.

AND SPEAKING OF BLOGGING: Small Miracle reflects on her third anniversary swimming in the ether. Much thought on the hows and whys of growing one of these babies. Congrats!

HEADS UP: Mindles H. Drek is back up and posting over at Asymmetrical Information - here's one possible cover design for my forthcoming book "Buy This Or Your Child Will Die" (c), available a) as soon as I write it and b) as soon as someone publishes it.

THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!: Gene Weingarten has a hilarious piece in the WaPo about the changing of the guard at the Weekly World News, the source of much hilarity in my college days. My roommate and I used to buy the WWN each week, cut out and rearrange the headlines and paste them on our hall door, much to the amusement of the rest of the dorm. The Butcher's Wife sometimes hears me use the expression "screaming with glee." Well, this is where that came from.

WOW, WHAT A SEGUE!: Speaking of screaming, Classical Values has a piece on Mad Howard's EEEAAGGGH! Moment. I think Eric is a bit off. Dean's eruption was most emphatically not a "Rebel Yell" as I've ever heard it - neither the contemporary Bo Duke "Yeeeeee Haaaawww" or the more traditional Indian War-Whoop that you can link to from his piece. No, upon further reflection it sounded to me more like something screeched by John Candy's Ox in the mud-wrestling scene from Stripes.

AND SPEAKING OF CANDY: Carnival of the Vanities is up over at The American Mind. Go fill yer bag with whatever you like - it's all priced by the pound.

CANDY FROM THE BEARDED-SPOCK UNIVERSE: We could hardly let things go without also mentioning this week's Bonfire of the Vanities over at Southern Musings, where evidently they are playing with matches.....

MASTERING THE UNIVERSE: Taranto has been assimilated. We are the Blorg.


Another Reason To Abolish Valentine's Day...

THIS! We hates it! We hates it! We hates it FOREVER!

Cultural Karma

While watching Armageddon for the umptienth time the other night, I got thinking to myself, "Funny, you never see Deep Impact running on any of the movie channels."

Well, this morning, my secretary, apropos of nothing, walked in and said, "We rented Deep Impact the other night. Man is that a bad movie!"

Guess that 'splains it.

I will say two words in DI's defense: Téa Leoni. Mmmmm......Téa...

(BTW, did you know Elijiah Wood was in it too? Small world. Heh.)


What with the war going on about the plains of Babylon, things have been a little jittery of late for the old Apocalypse Watch. Now End Timers have this to worry about.

Mr. Kerry? It's your turn in the barrel

There's a rather funny old-school joke with the punchline, "Umm, but Saturday's your night in the barrel." I've been amazed and amused how the phrase has crept into the regular lingo and used without any awareness that it's from a ribald oral-sex joke---I blew hot tea out my nose at a meeting last year when a senior administrator used the phrase completely innocuously.

Anyhoo, it's also an apt way to describe the shift in coverage that's going to start to occur for the Kerry campaign. He's the frontrunner, and so frontrunner hyper scrutiny begins. Is it fair? Not necessarily. Is it bias? Not in and of itself. Is it pretty to watch? Um, no, unless you are a fan of WWF Smackdown [yeah, I know, it's the WWE now because they lost that trademark suit to the World Wildlife Fund, but geez] and particularly enjoy when the villains start smacking the heroes upside the head with fake metal folding chairs.

So what's the one sentence media subtext of John Forbes Kerry? Waffler. Hamlet with a pollster. Kind of like Gertrude Stein's Oakland: no there there.

Here's an example of what's to come.

Now what must Kerry do? The key to fight this sort of stuff is not give anything new to feed it. The candidate must seize the initiative on defining the agenda of coverage to the degree that is possible: with the increased velocity of coverage this is basically akin to the act of walking into a firehose. This is where the Dean folks screwed up. It can be done, though: whether you agree with his ideology and antics, one thing you can certainly say about Bill Clinton is that he never stopped pushing forward. I remember a picture from Sports Illustrated of Larry Csonka scoring a touchdown with about six Houston Oilers hanging off him. [no the link isn't to that particular picture, but I know Robbo is a fins fan and wanted to give him something to drool over other than nekkid pics of katherine hepburn]. You've got to keep the momentum going, and you can't show signs that you are flinching. Dean did that last month when he complained to Terry McAuliffe about being picked on, and the "he's a thin-skinned angry nut" watch began soon after when he told the senior citizen to sit down and shut his pie hole. [blogger is not letting me link to our coverage then---DAMN YOU, BLOGGER! TO HELLLLLLLLLLLL!] Kerry's coverage is going to be suddenly much less rosy--but what he's got going for him is that there is a compressed time frame for stories to develop. Structured events--ie the now biweekly primaries--are going to break the line of coverage up, becoming in effect the prime story. Whereas in December and January, a prime and ready story is "the front runner stumbles" in February the prime story line is "can he be caught?" If one of the other candidates doesn't show signs of being able to do that, inevitability begins to set in. This is another place the Dean people screwed up. Remember when Gore endorsed him back in December, and they actually tolerated questions or speculations about Cabinet positions? They should have shot anyone who asked or answered those questions, and put their severed heads on pikes to frighten the villagers out of being overconfident. Now, however, the dynamic is different, which is [I bet] going to cause quite a few Deaniacs to start squawking about "unfairness" towards their candidate, which will further drive down his and their reputations as a bunch of thin-skinned glass-jawed porcupines.

Now all this analysis contains a heft dose of ceritus paribus--ie all things remaining equal. Something big from Iraq--a Beriut style attack for instance--changes the dynamics completely. But for now, the parameters of the course have been defined, and now's the time that the real race begins.

Calling Jackie Childes

I always knew this thing was gonna hurt me!

(Llama Embargo: No smart remarks from my fellow LB, please, about wandering around DuPont Circle in spandex. Never happened. Never will. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Speaking of Got Yer Covered....

Remember that episode of Star Trek where they investigate trouble at a Federation outpost and Spock gets thwokked in the back by a flying wash-cloth looking alien creature thing?

Well, it's back. Bigger, badder and with more discriminatin' taste in victims.....

(HT to Josh Claybourn.)

It's birthday week at the Llamabutchers!

While Robbo is being showered with all sorts of booty by his dearly beloved for his birthday [let's see what google searchers find us for that one!], I made one simple request to my wife for MY birthday and all she did was laugh.

Llamabutchers: someone's slackin' 24/7 so you don't have to!

The good thing about the blogging combo of a regulatory lawyer and a professor is, well, one of us is usually goofing off online at any given point. Kate Hepburn fantasies? We got ya covered. Department of Franco Irrelevancy? Go no further. Dean meltdown watch? Been on the job since before there was a meltdown. Mockery of humanities departments? Who else would you want on the ramparts?

A tad more sober than Vodkaboy, fewer billable hours than the Volokhs, kind of like LMAO after electro-shock therapy, it's the Llamabutchers!

We Can't Find The Cleaver...

Today's Choice Cuts (TM) is gonna be late. No time to stroll about the 'net this morning, I'm afraid. Well, I do have to earn a living.....

In the meantime, TCM was way ahead of me last night - Kate Hepburn film festival, with African Queen and Lion In Winter back-to-back. How could I resist?

Lion In Winter is an excellent source for the Hollywood Links trivia game. This is where you try and link any two given actors by co-stars and movies in as few moves as possible, with style points going for obscure connections. So for, example, if you wanted to link, say, Colin Firth and Andi McDowell, you would say Colin Firth + Hugh Grant in Bridget Jone's Diary and Hugh Grant + Andi McDowell in Four Weddings And A Funeral. The game is akin to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and provides wholesome entertainment.

Aaaaanyway, as I say, Lion In Winter is a good source because it's one of those inter-generational films. Kate Hepburn and Peter O'Toole have worked with just about everyone in the industry between about 1930 and 1980. Meanwhile both Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton are in this movie, giving one a bridge to the younger generations of actors. And my favorite obscure link: The character of John, Henry II's son, is played by Nigel Terry. He isn't well known in America, except that he also played Arthur in Excalibur. That movie also featured both Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart (bald even then). So there you are. And for your next dinner party or bar bet, here is a link between Cary Grant and Will Smith:

Cary Grant + Kate Hepburn - Philadelphia Story
Kate Hepburn + Nigel Terry - Lion In Winter
Nigel Terry + Patrick Stewart- Excalibur
Patrick Stewart + Brent Spiner - Star Trek Next Generation Movies
Brent Spiner + Will Smith - Independence Day

Feel free to play amongst yourselves until I get back.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

It's gotta be the House Republicans and Dubya's fault!

Well, at least we know they aren't spending it on defense....

Was he Godzilla or Mothra?

What's a mistake? Leaving a pen in your shirt pocket when it goes through the laundry: mistake. Overdue library books? Mistake. Letting your car's inspection expire and getting a ticket? Mistake. Buying Howard Dean futures on Tradesports.com at $72 a share because the Gore endorsement meant the ticket to the nomination? Beeeeeeg mistake.

This however is not a "mistake."

More crushing of dissent in Howard Dean's Amerika

More sad details about how the PATRIOT ACT destroys first amendment rights in Vermont.

Aaaaah...Getting On Towards Time For Omelet-Head (TM)

I've been thrashing about with state corporations statutes all day - a bit out of the ordinary in my comfy little regulatory world. Headache making. And I just learned my usual Wednesday evening church meeting got cancelled. Hmmmm. What to do? What to do? The Butcher's Wife gave me three Kate Hepburn tapes for m' birthday - Adam's Rib, Woman of the Year and Philadelphia Story. IMHO, she was (and is) the Grand Goddess of the Screen. I've seen all of these flicks a zillion times, but not recently, so perhaps it's time for another round.

On the other hand, those fiends at FX, AMC or one of the other movie channels might zing me again. On that front, it looks like I'm going to have to add Armageddon to the list of Movies I Have To Watch Just Because They're On, because it happened again the other night. I'm thinking of compiling a list: Movies That Guys Have To Watch. Feel free to forward suggestions.

Oh, completely random thing (speaking of guys), but I finally realized just the other day that the prescription drug commercial featuring the guy throwing the football through the tire swing is actually flogging, er, male performance enhancers. Ooooooooh. Well, how the hell was I supposed to know that? Nothing in the voice-over gives it away. It's all just the usual FDA-speak: "This will make your life better! (Unless it gives you dry mouth, sweats, hypertension, lassitude, nausea, diarrhea, sleeplessness, drowsiness, "certain sexual side effects" [whatever the hell those are], cancer, heart-attack, blindness and gangrene.)" BTW, zap on over to Liberty Bob's take on the agonies of Reptile Dysfunction. Heh.

Other completely random thought - according to the site meter, we're having a very good day. Don't know why Wednesdays are like that, but it seems to be the case. Thanks very much for taking time to stop in our little shop. Be sure to come back often. And bring your friends. We'll treat them right.


YIPS from Steve--Omelet Head? Wasn't he one of Aquaman's lesser known nemesis? And let's see, grayish jocky-guy throwing balls through the tire in the backyard, then getting tackled by his young and nubile wife.....hmmm, what are they selling?

Today's After 3:00 PM Half-Price Specials

Boy, and it's a festival di snark today! Dig in!

THE BEEB CRATERS: Fall-out from the release of Lord Hutton's report exonerating the Blair Government and blasting the BBC for sexing up its reports that HMG, er, sexed up its reports regarding intelligence estimates of Saddam's WMD program. Glenn has the round up. All I can say is Wow.

EET EES ALL ABOUT ZEE OOOOIIIILLL!!!: Meanwhile, Tim Blair and Vodka Boy, amongst others are following Iraqi allegations that Saddam paid off certain cheese-eating surrender monkeys to stall the U.S. as much as possible before the war. But wait! Why should this be? He had nothing to hide, right? Right? Because we all know that BUSH LIED!!!!!

SPEAKING OF WHICH: James Joyner links to a WaPo op-ed by Peter Feaver regarding the recent David Kay eruption. OpinionJournal also carries today's WSJ editorial on the matter (registration required). Even the WaPo's news coverage of Kay's testimony before the Senate today does not smack of a witch-hunt. I dunno. If I were Kerry et al, I'd start thinking twice about calling Bush a liar. That one may come back to bite the moonbats in the ass.

Ready for something less heavy?

ANYBODY BUT N.E. BANDWAGON: The BitchGirls join me in my damnation of the Patriots.

HEH, D'OH!!: Amish Tech Support bitch-slaps Glenn! Insta - this!

MAD HOWARD's WORLD: Rosemary at Dean's World bitch-slaps the Doc. (I just like saying that!)

G-FILE SIGHTING!: Jonah weighs in on independents and undecideds. Money quote: If you really are undecided between having a bowl of strawberry ice cream and being smacked in the forehead with a garden rake, you're not very intelligent; you're just very, very stoopid. No, that's just the funniest line. To be fair, as always there is a lot of thoughtfulness behind his smart ass. And coincidentally enough, a good bit of what he has to say about partisanship supports my position re Andy Sullivan's doom and gloom prognostications for Dubya.

YIP! YIP! YIP! TIME: I notice we have made TexasBestGrok's list of sites he likes. Thanks, John! (We don't have all that fancy-shmancy blogroller and technorati crap, so if anyone else out there has enrolled us, let us know so we can return the favor.)

LOCUTUS TIME: Taranto has been assimilated. We are the Blorg.

It's so unfair! It's gotta be a conspiracy!

As we've been flog-blogging since before Christmas, presidential selection politics follows some pretty basic rules that aren't really that complicated. If you are good and smart, you can grasp this. However, good and smart aren't defined in a grad-school or salon sort of way. Rather, it's much more of a basic street wisdom. You can be very polished and have it--JFK and Bill Clinton did. Or, you can be rougher around the edges [like Dubya] or not perceived as being very erudite [the Gipper] but still have it too. And it's something that the Adlai Stevensons and Al Gores of the world could give graduate seminar upon dissertation about, but still not grasp. It's really not that complicated.

So if my guy cratered, maybe it's because he screwed up royally. Or, maybe because it's a CONSPIRACY against him!

From TomPaine.com:

But once something like this "meltdown" story gets started, the media go into a kind of inexorable black hole, and the pull is so great it becomes hard for thinking journalists and editors to resist. And not just journalists. It takes extraordinary mettle for anyone in the limelight to resist this. Once the howl of the pack gets loud enough, questioning the seriousness of Dean's so-called 'problems' becomes tantamount to downplaying allegations against Michael Jackson.

Sometimes it's hard to remember, but presidents aren't primarily dinner party hosts or recruiting posters for perfection. They're supposed to be smart people who can make intelligent choices, mostly in private, that serve our interests. And they're supposed to be human.

Ed Muskie probably wouldn't have been a bad president, nor would George Romney or John McCain, all of whom got slammed for showing quintessentially human traits on the campaign trail. Muskie didn't like his wife being attacked; Romney admitted to having been "brainwashed" on Vietnam (obviously less so than those fellow GOPsters who couldn't admit their mistakes), and McCain was charmingly blunt if occasionally brutish. As each could attest, candor isn't a priority in this society. People want to hear what makes them feel good and safe and strong, no matter the reality.

As for Dean, one doesn't need to take sides to see that the treatment of this man is unbecoming of the media. It's also going to be seen in retrospect as colossally one-sided, not in any way balanced by comparable scrutiny or criticism of his rivals.

He gets it right about how stories develop, but instead of accepting the reality of it and using it to your advantage, he rails against the inherent injustice of it all. I wuz robbed! I coulda been a contender!

From Slate magazine ("Mean Dean Loses Steam") to The New York Post ("Dean's Ballot-Box Conspiracy Theory"), it's all about painting him as unseemly, unstable and irrationally angry, rather than focusing on his ideas. And yet, carefully scrutinized, virtually everything the man has said accords with the beliefs and understanding of a significant portion of the American populace, and, significantly, of what has been reported in the media.

Yes it was. And who was to blame for it? Look no further than the doctor's own mirror. They had the advantage--money, polls, buzz--and they got sloppy, they lost their focus, they looked ahead to the general election, and they took their lead for granted.

It's not complicated, really. Read this, this, and this [for laughs], and you've got everything to explain what went wrong for the good doctor.

Basically, if you can't survived being mugged by the media in Iowa and New Hampshire, how are you going to handle the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that descend upon one who is the President of the United States of America? This aint junior league soccer. Are you going to complain to Koffi Annan that foreign leaders are being "unfair"?

An interesting take on the road from New Hampshire

Doug Ireland in TomPaine.com slices and dices the results from yesterday's primary and finds that Dean got crushed by union and religious voters. Given that Michigan is one of the states he's going to need to do well in before the big enchilada on March 2, this is not good news for the Deaniacs:

As the exit polls show, Kerry aced Dean in all demographic categories. Particularly significant for the Dean camp as they head to even less hospitable territory: the doctor was rejected by union households by significant margins. The religious said an even larger No to Dean: not simply Kerry’s fellow Catholics consigned Dean to the political cemetery (by a whopping 47 for Kerry to 19 for Dean), so too did Protestants (37-25). And there was a significant gender gap in Kerry’s favor among women.

These numbers spell the end for Dean, since it is not until he gets to Feb. 7 and Michigan—which has been voting by Internet since the beginning of the year, when Dean’s popularity was at its peak—that Dean might have hopes for a last stand. And Michigan, with its female governor and its legions of aging industrial union members, is stuffed with Catholics and evangelical Protestants who carry union cards. Whatever small cushion Dean might have from the early voting there won’t be enough to overwhelm the Kerry demographics.

Now Dean heads to the visible primaries in South Carolina—where half the voters will be African American—and Missouri, also home to a weighty number of black voters. In these states, Dean will be hobbled by his earlier declarations about wanting to be the candidate of folks with Confederate flags on their pickups—a turn-off for black voters, and a gaffe of which Al Sharpton is there to remind them (as he’s been doing in his extensive South Carolina campaigning in black churches for weeks). Dean is now on a slippery slope downward, and there is no state voting next week on Feb. 3 in which he can hope to find a handhold by which to brake his fall and haul himself back up.

His mixed messages on religion, Osama and Saddam are going to hurt him with these constituencies.

Science goes woof

Dingo discovers basis for life on Mars, from the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mad-lib blogging

Insert Bill Clinton joke here.


My country for a DSL line!

Howard Dean finds who is to blame for getting his Dukakis kicked in New Hampshire.

Department of French Decline, Ministry of Growing Irrelevance


Tomorrow's news today

The Straights Times is reporting a rebellion breaking out in a remote Saudi province that's the ancestral home of the al-Sudiary branch of the royal family.

Could be nothing....but then again could be tied to this somehow.

HT to Glenn.

From The Mailbag

A minor disagreement on your comments re [Mozart's] Prague [Symphony, No. 38] in LLamaButchers.

Technically, the symphony cannot be classified as the
apex of the classical symphony. Although the first
movement is nearly perfect (as perfect as art can be),
the work lacks a third movement, characteristic of
German/Austrian writing. No one knows why. It
certainly was not for lack of time, considering that he
wrote #36 in FOUR days WITH a third movement. Some
musicologists think that it was because the Bohemians
(and Italians) were used to hearing three-movement
symphonies from their native composers and Mozart
wanted to "fit in." Too bad because I think it lacks
something without it.

For a teaser, how many "mature" symphonies of
Mozart lack a third movement?

Technically, this is true, however it doesn't change my opinion. I have always considered the third movement of the four-movement classical symphony to be its weakest point, too often tailing off into something like Haydn's infamous "barnyard minuets." Of course, Mozart never descends to that level (at least in his mature works, by which I assume my correspondent means Symphony No. 34 and later), but I still find myself rolling my eyes and feeling restless through these movements. So the fact that the Prague doesn't have one does not detract from the work's outstanding quality, IMHO. (P'raps this is because I was trained as a pianist - the three movement form is much, much more prevalent in the solo keyboard work of Haydn and Mozart, as well as their piano concerti. In fact, off the top of my head, I can't think of any exceptions. On the other hand, Beethoven introduced scherzo/trio third movements into some of his earlier keyboard pieces (Opus 2 Nos. 2 and 3) that I quite like.)

YIPS from Steve: Yeah, but could he write anything like this?

Sullivan Hissy-Fit Watch

Andrew weighs in with a group of entries this morning that fit an on-going trend I've seen in his views: Bush Is In Trouble! But what a bunch of Loser Dems!

My working theory about this is that Sullivan is still so consumed by the whole gay-marriage issue and the lack of White House support that he is letting it cloud his judgment of Dubya. (I'm not the only one who has noticed this.) I really think Andrew is an intelligent guy who says many wise things, but I wonder whether he's seeing too much red to be objective about Bush at the moment.

Sure, there's plenty of in-fighting and fracture in the GOP over a host of issues: the budget, immigration, Big Government conservatism, and so on. This is, in fact, a good thing, and Dubya seems to be pulling back from some of his earlier positions re spending and the like. But does Andrew really think that, come this fall, the base is going to sit on its hands (or even go for a Perot-like 3rd Party guy) and allow someone like Kerry or Dean to win? I rather doubt it. Maybe in some times past (read pre-9/11), but there's just too damn much at stake this year for that kind of thing.

Look, the reason we see a fired up Dem base right now is that they're in the middle of a very sharply contested primary season, a battle, as Andrew and others put it, for the soul of the Democratic Party. Nothing incites passion like Civil War. But for all that fire, there sure seem to be an awful lot of doubts floating around as well.

On the other hand, Dubya is running unopposed for the nomination. So where is the focal point for any GOP passion? We're pretty much confined to sitting on the side-lines, sniping at the Dems and at each other. That'll change later on. Is Bush beatable? Sure. Anyone is. Is Bush wrapped in a Cheney/Rove cocoon, oblivious to the Presidency crashing down around him. G'wan, geddoutahere!

Our man on the scene

Josh Marshall reports in from Dean HQ last night with some interesting observations about what's next for the good doctor.

Key quote:

When it was over, the reporter standing next to me, turned and said: "If he would have given this speech last week, this would be a very different story."


It's not that last week's concession speech by Dean will go down in the history of American political oratorical boners, along with "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion"--in all likelihood, it will be forgotten or footnoted in a dissertation twenty years hence. Still its a great example of how the type of action that can define media coverage in such a way that can wreck a candidacy, or at least wreak havoc with its ability to get its message out. And that's a lesson that was repeatedly lost on the Dean camp since right before Christmas.

Let the turkey shoot begin!

Yes, that's really the headline Mickey Kaus leads with this morning re the new coverage to come for John Kerry. An amusing read as always, although Mickey does have the record of putting his mojo out for Kerry's coifed scalp.

Now that I'm actually awake....

let me make a revised strategic scenario for Howard Dean. Between now and March 2, he's got one in the bag in all likelihood: Hawaii, on February 24. Before then, however, he needs to capitalize on three states: Michigan and Washington state on the seventh, and Wisconsin on the 17th. Washington and Wisconisn trend well for him demographically, and while akin in many ways to his home state are far enough west to count for winning out of his hometurf. But second place isn't going to cut it, if it's a continued second place finish to Kerry. This defies his fight in every state strategy articulated in the primal scream speech after Iowa, but it would make political sense: concede South Carolina, put all the chips on Missouri for next Tuesday, but in effect pour it all out in a blitz for Michigan and Washington on the seventh. If he can produce a big win in Washington, that can carry him alive until the 17th when the progressive left of Wisconsin votes. A victory there can keep him at least on the card for March 2. But without winning at least one on the 7th, and the 17th, I don't see how it can be done realistically.

Today's Choice Cuts

WMD AND GBW: Jonah has evidently been reading this blog, because he makes exactly the same point I have been about how the White House needs to deal with the WMD issue.

THK AND HRCR: Meanwhile, Michell Malkin has an interesting portrait of the potential next First Lady that makes Hillary Clinton look almost respectable in comparison.

YEEEAGGGH!: My inestimable fellow-LB Steve has already blanketed our site with a crack analysis of the Dem primaries to date, so I won't say anything else at this point. However, Glenn has a big round-up of what other punditistas are saying. Take your pick.

SERIOUS: A horrifying account of the final moments of the Columbia. Thank heavens I'm not scheduled to fly anywhere any time soon. (HT to Stephen.)

COMIC RELIEF: Obviously, Frank J. and I were watching the same movie last night. He goes into great detail about why, under the Pistachio Model of Marginal Taxation, the person sitting next to you on the sofa is not your wife.

BACK TO THE WAR: Hate to begin and end on the same topic, but big, huge news for our man Tony Blair regarding the charges that HM Government "sexed up" reports re Iraqi WMD and the suicide death of David Kelly. OxBlog has it covered.

Random Thoughts

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my first recorded foray into the Dismal Science since my junior year in college. Here for your pleasure is what I like to call the Pistachio Model of Marginal Taxation.

This idea came to me as I sat with a bowl full of pistachios watching For Your Eyes Only for the umptienth time. I love the things. I love fishing through the bowl looking for that next unshelled nut. (I have another theory that the number of pistachios in a bowl can be represented as an integer, n + 1, where n= the number of nuts it appears are left. There is always one more than you think. You just can't find it amidst the empty shells.)

Anyway, as I hunted unshelled nuts, it occurred to me that this was a useful way to think about taxation. Let's say you've got yer bowl of pistachios and you have just started diligently consuming them. Let's also say that someone (not your spouse*) is sitting with you. You agree to give that person every other nut. As long as they are easy to find, this is not a problem. But eventually, it's going to get more difficult to find unshelled pistachios amidst the empties. You want to work harder and harder. But the knowledge that having every other nut confiscated puts a drag on your efforts. You soon reach a point where it just isn't worth it. Seeing this, your companion says "Alright, how 'bout you just give me every third nut." Suddenly, your yield is doubled. Woo! Hoo! Incentive is reestablished, and you go back to work industriously shifting through the debris. However, not only do you benefit (through getting to keep more nuts), your companion does also (because you haven't given up searching and are still finding new ones.)

Now all of this points to a basic law of taxation that is rigidly ignored (and, in fact, often denied) by a great many people, namely, that changes in tax policy have a direct impact on tax-payer behavior. Increase the incentive to work for that extra dollar on the margin, and people will do so. Decrease the incentive and people will say screw it. The other side of this coin is that greater incentive also increases tax revenue. In my example, the companion keeps getting additional nuts because I keep working for them longer. This works on a macroeconomic scale as well. Pro-growth tax policies encourage, well, growth, both in the base of folks paying taxes and in the net tax yield from individual payers. (This is true. The Wall Street Journal frequently runs a graph of tax revenues during the Reagan years. After an initial adjustment following his tax cuts, government revenues increased substantially. The trouble was that government spending increased much, much faster.)

All this leads me to the bashing of Dubya's tax cuts. The Dems are shouting to the rafters that these cuts are leading to huge budget deficits. This is, to use a scientific term, bunk. To the extent deficits are being run up, they are the result of ballooning government spending. But since the entire Democratic Party governing strategy is to buy off various interest groups, ain't no way in hell the Dems can credibly attack Bush on this. So they have to drop back to soak-the-rich tax demagoguery. In a rising economy, in which more people feel a greater entitlement to their own bowls of pistachios, I'm not sure that this strategy is going to help them very much.

So, message to Dems - Keep your hands off my nuts!

(* Can't use the spouse in this model, because of course I'd give her anything she wanted. Think she'll buy that? Ed. - Nah.)

Chanelling the late-great Lee Atwater

John Ellis has some strategic advice for John Kerry.

Don't click on the link while drinking a hot beverage

or you might spray it out your nose all over the screen.

Remember the Republicans for Dean website? Take a gander at this.

That durn corporate Amerikan conservative media's piling on the Democrats again!

This time, it's Garry Trudeau making fun of John Kerry.

Of course, it was thirty three years ago....

Big picture thoughts

Jack Balkin has a nifty essay on the meaning blogs in political life that's worth taking a gander at over a hot beverage.

[HT to Phil Carter]

Up before the sun with the Llamabutchers

I just finished doing a radio bit for the local AM talk show. It's a fun group--on the spectrum between Morning Edition and Don & Mike they fall on the side of seeing the humor in things.

Looking around getting ready for the show, I noticed that VodkaPundit has the bumper sticker motto for the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

Nature Strikes Back!

Apparently, other parts of the animal kingdom have become emboldned by last month's sucessful attack on a mountain biker by a mountain lion.

Me, I'm going to make sure to have a big glass of milk for breakfast, along with some breakfast meat and cheese, just to show them who is boss[ie]!

Everyone remain calm!

Remember the scene in Animal House where Kevin Bacon, trying to control the crowd, gets run over by a marching band?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the wisdom that is the Democratic Underground.

The Zoo Hits the Road

The New Hampshire/Iowa portion of the presidential is now finally over.

I must confess I hate this part of the presidential election cycle. Perhaps hate is too strong a word, yet if you were going to pick two states to have the closest scrutiny in starting the process of picking a president, it sure as heck wouldn't be these two. The problem is besides their idiosyncrasies that they have come to relish too keenly their being catered to. Why should the Concord Monitor have such weight in the process of picking the leader of the free world? Then again, we owe the folks at the Concord Monitor thanks for giving the good doctor enough rope to hang himself during Christmas week, which helped the process of deflating the lead he was sitting on.

What do the results mean? What matters now is that the velocity of events is going to increase dramatically. Next Tuesday, its South Carolina, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, Arizona, Delaware, and Missouri, followed that Saturday by Michigan and Washington state. Two weeks from today, its Tennessee and Virginia, followed by two relatively quiet weeks building up to the day that should clinch the nomination: March 2, when California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont have their turns in the barrell.

South Carolina is going to garner the attention over the coming week, as it is the vestige of the original "SuperTuesday" of the 1988 campaign, Lee Atwater's [twisted]brain child. Obviously, with the exception of North Dakota [where the candidates will spend little to no time], next Tuesday's contests are all below the Mason-Dixon line, but also are areas of the country [except Delaware] experiencing demographic growth as America's population shifts south and west over time.

Kerry is clearly the winner, and is peaking at the right time. Now is the time to be the front-runner, because although there's a dramatic increase in scrutiny with being the perceived leader, there is also less time for single story lines to develop, given the compressed and frenetic pace about to begin. The worse time to be the front runner is in the period between Thanksgiving and the Iowa caucus. Time's aplenty for story lines to develop, a process accelerated by a critical mass of the political reporting class congregated in the same small areas. There are not that many bars in Des Moines and Concord after all, and plenty of nights to spend speculating, waiting for something to happen. That's not to say a front-runner can't collapse after New Hampshire, it's just to say that a Dean-like collapse, the slow motion trainwreck isn't going to happen. Unless he doesn't win convincingly at least twice in the next two weeks, Kerry's good to go until March 2 as the presumed leader. He's won outside of his comfort zone [Iowa] and he one a major coming from behind [something Tiger Woods has yet to do]. What he has to do now is raise serious cash in the next couple of days [perhaps 51 flavors?] and get on the air to make a serious showing in Virginia, to show he can win somewhere in the South.

Dean finished second, but he is, to put it politely, screwed: he lost a huge lead in his backyard state. This was a collapse that would make even Phil Mickelson blush. Sure, you'll hear a lot about how Clinton "won" New Hampshire by coming in second, but here's why that comparison is specious: first, Clinton was a born natural campaigner, which Dean clearly is not. Dean has a hell of a stump speech that can toss red meat [or raw fish] to fire up his crowds, but he's demonstrated a complete lack of ability to translate this in a televised format that's not heavily scripted. Second, he never had the lead that Dean had in New Hampshire, and last but certainly not least New Hampshire was as far outside of his regional base you could get without actually being in the Maritime Provinces. You can't lose on your home turf in the primaries without raising serious questions as to your electability. Sure he's got a ton of cash, but he's got the temper and lack of political sense to say "Hell, let's give John Kerry a little taste of what I got over the past month!" The problem is, this will further cement his media frame of Doctor Nasty, a reputation that's not going to play well on the stages he needs to compete over the next two weeks. Look for lots of replay of his "George Bush is not my neighbor" type stuff. Bottom line: he needs to win in either Michigan or Washington state on February 7th , or he's officially [whole wheet, stone ground, free range] toast. You know, Mike Dukakis does teach a seminar in health care policy at Northeastern....

Edwards has the serious "Joementum" coming out of New Hampshire, as the scene shifts to his home turf over the next two weeks. If he can run up the score in South Carolina, this will change the tone on the coverage of Kerry; if he can't, Kerry gets a bye going into March 2. This is where Al Sharpton is going to factor in: if he's going to alter the dynamics anywhere in a way that will gain him influence at the convention and afterwards, it will be by delivering votes and turnout in South Carolina. Edwards has one distinct advantage there: he's been endorsed by Hootie and the Blowfish, which is more influential an endorsement in the Palmetto state than that of the Des Moines Register and the Manchester Union-Leader combined.

Note to Senator Kerry and Governor Dean: you are now entering the part of the campaign that when they ask about reform in the SEC, you need to answer by bashing the Bowl Championship Series, not suggesting changes on Wall Street. Also, BBQ is eaten dry or wet, rather than being the implement of cooking upon. And believe it or not, the mascot of the University of South Carolina is a rooster that fights to the death, so don't feel weirded out by lots of folks wearing black hats that say "COCKS" across the front.

And what of the General? Skipping Iowa to focus on New Hampshire was a tactic worthy of, er, George McClellan. He's already taking to the airwaves and the mailboxes in Virginia: look for him to try to make his stand next Tuesday in Oklahoma and Arizona, and the week after in Tennessee and Virginia.

And poor old Joe? I like Joe, I really do. Decent guy. Unfortunately, the lovely Carol Merrill will have some fabulous departing prizes. Perhaps if he's lucky, it will be the lifetime supply of Riceroni, the San Francisco Treat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Note To Our Readers (Or One Of Them, Anyway)

Mom? Read the links!

That is all.

Today's After 3:00 PM Half-Price Specials

Mother Nature is striking again, with snow, sleet and freezing rain moving back into the area. In a show of resolve worthy of these post-9/11 Can Do times, The Office has gone to White Alert Status and is closing down. I shall probably scoop up an armload of files and beetle out of here soon as well.

But before I go, here are this afternoon's offerings. We're going to try and rank them from serious on down to silly. That way, when you reach your "Aw Jeez" moment, you won't have to waste any additional time scrolling down because you already know it won't get any better. That's us Llama Butchers - always looking out for you!

BUSH LIED!: Lots of political hay is being made over David Kay's recent remarks concerning the Iraqi WMD threat. The best thoughts I've seen to date on what Kay actually said (and what it all means to the WMD threat assessment) come from John Hawkins at Right Wing News. (HT to BlackFive, who also has intelligent things to add.) I say again that Dubya and the White House have got to come out swinging on this whole business and cannot back down in the face of the Moonbats on the Left. One of our ongoing themes here is that in politics, the perception becomes the reality. If enough people believe Bush fibbed, the results will be catastrophic, not just for the GOP, but for the country.

PATERNALISTIC LIBERALISM, PART I: Joanne Jacobs has comments about the frustration some Liberal Academics face in attempting to brainwash, er, "enlighten" their student charges today. In a way, I guess this is a kind of "Dog Bites Man" story, except that it is refreshing to see student resistence. Note in particular the "What is wrong with these people" tone of the good instructor's remarks. (BTW - I got yer "wakeful political literacy" right here, Lady!) Takes me back to my youth at Middletown Reeducation Camp No. 06459 - I still remember the day I innocently asked what use it was to read The Merchant of Venice in light of the Holocaust when Shakespeare had died some 300 years earlier. Boy did that get a rise! Stooopid kid.

PATERNALISTIC LIBERALISM, PART II: Meanwhile, Jane Galt Fisks an interview of an Episcopal Rector who attended a screening of Mel Gibson's The Passion. Sigh. I am an Episcopalian myself and am very well acquainted with this sort of Superior Clergy in the Church. To these folks, Jesus was the Original Social Worker, Faith is for fools and rednecks and the New Testament commands that we do Whatever Turns Us On.

Okay, now we're beginning to slide down the scale a bit.....

SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL: The Krugman Truth Squad bitch-slaps the World's Most Dangerous Economist again. You'd think Luskin has to spend all of his off hours with his hand in an ice-bucket, he's done this so often....

GRATUITOUS FOOTBALL SEGUE AND PREDICTION: TMQ is up with all sorts of interesting stats ahead of the Big Game. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a Carolina win in a close, grueling, defensive game. Am I biased because I'm a Dolphins fan? P'raps, p'raps. DIE PATRIOT SCUMBAGS!

Are you ready for a bit of fun now?

USELESS POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY TEST: Right here, courtesy of Kate, whose site design creeps me out more and more. I'm beginning to imagine those eyes are following me around. As for my test results - My top three: Aquinas, Aristotle and Augustine. Cellar-dwellers: Cynics, Nel Noddings and Thomas Hobbes. Yup, seems about right. What puzzled me was how the hell Ayn Rand made it to 7th place. I'm about as much a libertarian as is George Will.

WEIRD WINE RANT: Dr. Schloktopus over at Amish Tech Support slams a critic of his Zinfandelic Knowledge. Okay, I think this is funny....

COULD POTUS BLOW IT?: Frank J offers a Top Ten List of possible scenarios.

TODAY'S POP ART/GENEOLOGY QUIZ: Try and draw this tree without breaking your wrist. I imagine everyone in Appalachia is having a good laugh over this one.

AAAAAND: There's this. 'Nuff said. (HT to Hugh).

(Ed. - Taranto thinks he's escaped assimilation today, but he's wrong. Resistance is futile. We are the Blorg. Watch this space.)

TARANTO BLORG UPDATE: Assimilation complete.

AGGGGH! Blogger just ate a rather long [and dare I say bitchin'] post, which started with gratuitous domestic blogging re the snow, explained basic physics to SUV drivers, made predictions about New Hampshire, gave my views on the whole Episcopal bishop stuff and ended with a nice fisking of Jerry Falwell. Somewhere, an evil minion in the bowels is laughing, "we have you now. blog! Blog, monkey boy! Blog like your life depends upon it."

That's it for me today: back to painting the bedroom, clearing the snow, and downing the hot toddies!

Happy Birthday, Gangerl!

Just so you know, today is the 248th anniversary of the birth of Mozart, probably my all-time favorite composer.

An interesting thing I've noticed is that there are basically two kinds of biographies of Mozart: those that indulge in all the treakly hoo-ha about his precocious youth, his pitiful requests to friends for loans, his inability to overcome Court intrigue and competition, his death in obscurity Just Before He Was Discovered, and so on; and those that seek to rip all these stories to shreds and stamp on the bits. Why it is that Mozart's life seems to arouse so many passions amongst musical historians is beyond me - but you (well, at least, I) certainly don't see that kind of treatment (pro or con) of Bach, Handel, Haydn or any of the other pre-Romantic greats.

As for his music, what can I usefully say? As a general rule, I don't like opera - I find it long-winded and tedious - but Mozart's Big Three, Le Nozzi di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan Tutte are so utterly above anything else ever created in the medium that I could listen to them forever. No one, NO ONE else has ever come close to achieving the same balance of music, language and character as did Gangerl in these works. (I dearly wanted to do a senior thesis on the place of Giovanni in the whole Don Juan myth cycle, but alas, there were so many English majors at my school that the department had to have draconian thesis qualifications just to keep from getting swamped.)

What else? Hoorah for the period instrument movement for releasing Mozart from the shackles of the likes of Furtwangler and Karajan, and the insipid pedestrianism of Neville Marriner! If you can get hold of the piano concertos as performed by Malcolm Bilson, with J.E. Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists (on the Archiv label, I think), do so - they are the best performances I have ever heard. As for the symphonies, I believe No. 38 in D Major (the "Prague") is the very apex of the classical form, and one of the very best symphonies ever written. I have a good performance by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. I also have a rather poor one by Charles Macarras and a group who's name escapes me at the moment. I understand Christopher Hogwood has also recorded the symphonies, but have not heard him. If it is anything like his Haydn, I'm afraid he might be a wee bit bloodless. Do NOT listen to Bernstein's performances! If you do, I will hunt you down and beat you.


I've been tagged by a reader for a recent comment I made regarding Evelyn Waugh. Specifically, I erroneously described him as "Anglo-Catholic" which is not at all the same thing as an English Roman Catholic, which is what he really was. My apologies. What I meant to say was that I was a warm admirer of Waugh's embrace of English Roman Catholicism, expressed very strongly via his description of the Crouchback family in his Sword of Honor trilogy. I know, I know, Waugh was a convert, and therefore something of a zealot (or, if you prefer, a nut-case). And, of course, the Catholic Church in 21st Century America is completely different from what it was in post-WWII Britain. But, as I said, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am guilty of romanticizing here. So sue me!

Today's Choice Cuts

Another day of slosh and muck here in Your Nation's Capitol.

Be that as it may, Virginia Postrel has an interesting link to an outfit called SpeechCodes.Org that rates 300 college campuses around the country on the basis of how far their speech policies infringe on students' freedom of expression. Of course, this doesn't much surprise me. Nor does this. Professor Steve? How come is it that "liberal" schools is always more, like, intolerant, n'stuff? [YIPS from Steve: You mean like how 50 years after Brown many Warren Court fans still point to the prevalance of de facto school segregation, whereas the military, 56 years after Truman's order, is the most integrated entity in American life?]

Speaking of Academics, Professor Bainbridge has sensible things to say about the recently-dismissed class-action slave reparations suit. However, I'm not really sure that it's fair to say society encourages this sort of thing. Rather, our society in general and our legal system in particular are simply such that a small group of motivated, energetic individuals (e.g., the activists, lawyers, etc.) can take action without either the encouragement or permission of anyone else. We read about these suits in the papers and shrug, thinking perhaps "Jeez, what a bunch of nutters," but realistically speaking, what can we do about them? Sure, individual judges are going to stop some of these suits, but sooner or later one is going to get all the way through. And this says nothing of the cases that are settled by business defendants in order to make them go away, regardless of the merits. The only real permanent answer would be some kind of massive legal reform. (Class action limitations? Statutory prohibition of reparations claims? Increased corporate liability protection? Dunno. I haven't paid enough attention to the legal arguments underpinning the claims to know where these guys are coming from.) But in order to do that, you have to persuade up to 50 state legislatures plus Washington to do something. That requires an almost superhuman amount of effort and organization, certainly far more effort than it takes to put together a lawsuit. And there simply is nowhere near a sufficient amount of public outrage to take that kind of action. I think the bottom line is: They care. We don't. They win.

How about some politics? Steyn advises the Dems not to start making Inaugural Ball hotel reservations just yet. He also thinks the New Hampshire vote today is a toss-up between Kerry and Dean.

Gotta go - More later.

UPDATE: How could I forget to link to Peggy? Today's theme: Clark is a Weirdo. Mmmmm.....Peggy!

Monday, January 26, 2004

Today's After 3:00 PM Half-Priced Specials

May need to keep it short today, folks. Ice pellets are coming down and folks in DC are being advised to pick up and head home early. So! Choose Fast! (If anyone is reading, that is. Blogger seems to be having some kind of temper-tantrum about opening our webpage. Damn you, Blogger! Damn you to Hell!!)

KERRY ROCK-THROWING WATCH: The Volokh Gang has some thoughts about Kerry's post-Yeearrggh bounce. Money quote: The "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" buttons don't fully communicate the dynamic, not without some tweaking. After dating a fiery, passionate guy who now seems a little nuts, these voters are lovelessly marrying the nearest single guy who seems basically grown-up and stable-- someone who is boringly familiar but at least a known quantity. Will this work in November? The article suggests you ask Bob Dole about duty-driven nominations. Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has some thoughts on Kerry's half-assed dismissal of the South.

'E'S NOT COMPLETELY DEAD: Hugh picks up on the Dean-Resurgent theme. Please! Oh, Please! Oh, Please! Oh, Please!......

SHIP OF FOOLS: Viking Pundit has a round up of New Hampshire predictions. Remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have this down on the record. This amateur blogger reaffirms his determination not to call any race beforehand. I don't like crow.

POPE J-HEAVY-P AND DA VATICAN CREWE: Uh....okay. What's next? Moonwalking Bishops?

GIGLI WATCH: Can't let the day go by without mention of the Razzies. C'mon, Ben-Lo! We're rooting for ya!

THIS WILL HELP: Feeling a little whacked by getting the Pope, breakdancing and the whole Ben & J-Lo fiasco thrown at you at once? OxBlog is here for you.

YIP! YIP! YIP!: Big thanks to James Joyner for mentioning the addition of this Lowly Insect of a Blog to his B-roll. We have, of course, done the same for him. This is one of the things I really like about the blogsphere, the willingness to spread the word about other folks' little efforts. Sure, it's getting to be automatic, what with Blogrolling, Technorati and all, but no one has to do it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INDEED: Whaddaya know? It's BlackFive's as well. Click on over and bolster his numbers. It's a nice present.

BAD THINGS: Jeff Jarvis has a link to one of the worst websites I've seen in a long time.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: Taranto has been assimilated. We are the Blorg.


Not only is today my 39th Birthday, I was also informed by my girls this morning that it is, in fact, Australia Day, as well. So altogether now:

Australia! Australia! Australia! Australia! We love you! Amen!

Crack tube!

Right. The kids seem to have picked up this fact due to their devotion to The Wiggles. I've often said that I rather like these guys. They simply sing, dance and do silly little skits. No preaching, no PC-isms, no reading of diktats from the Soviet of Nice like a certain large purple Nancy Boy.

But I begin to sense there is a Dark Side to these beaming Bruces. First, we have one of their books, entitled "Let's Spend The Day Together." It's a silly little picture book in which each character identifies some object commonly found at the seashore. Well, one of the pictures is of a pair of surfers. Here is where I sense a stirring in the Force. These aren't just surfers. They are a pair of fabulous surfer-babes sitting astride their boards on the water. Both of them are wearing sort of half-length wetsuits that are cut way, way up their hips. Yow! I leave the rest to your imagination. (Isn't that what Barney wants us to do?) The Butcher's Wife thinks that photo was put in as a little incentive to Dads to keep reading the book over and over. She may be right, but I'll need to do further research before coming to my own conclusion.

The other recent clue involves the videotape Wiggles on Safari. In it, they team up with the Croc-Hunter guy and go 'round the Australian Zoo. But what is startling comes up in a little section of outtakes at the end of the film: Greg (aka Yellow Wiggle) always, always has a smile plastered on his face. But one of the outtakes is a clip of him sitting in The Big Red Car waiting for filming to begin. He looks peeved. He looks annoyed. He looks quite impatient about something. B'lieve me, when you're used to seeing him in 24/7 Happy Mode, this clip is rather the equivalent of watching that scene in Once Upon A Time In The West where bad guy Henry Fonda calmly shoots a little boy in cold blood because one of his fellow bandits blurted out his name in front of the kid.

Well, there you go. If any other Wiggles Dark Side examples come to my attention, I'll be sure to pass them on. In the meantime, to celebrate Australia Day, I leave you with the Philosophy De-paht-ment of the University of Walamalay:

Eeeeemanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable,
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table,
Davy Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
and Wittgenstein was a beary swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nitsche couldn't teach about the raisin' of the wrist.
Socrates himself was peh-menantly piiiiiissed.......

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shandy was pah-ticularly ill,
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
and Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: "I drink therefore I am!"

Yes Socrates himself is particularly miiiiised - a lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed! (boing!)


Read this article by Brian Preston of the JunkYardBlog. (HT to Glenn.) It is important for at least two separate reasons.

First, as I have said, it is premature to write off the claims about Saddam's WMD. We simply don't know yet what happened and it's going to take a long time to piece everything together. (My advice to Bashar Assad, btw, is that if he is hanging on to some of Saddam's goodies, he'd better come clean fast. If we find them in Syria on our own, he's going to be in a world of hurt.)

Second, while this issue of what David Kay really says or believes is getting batted about in the blogsphere, most of the rest of the population doesn't see it. Instead, they are informed only by what they pick up from television and the newspapers. Kerry's "Bush LIED!" meme is going to have much more resonance among folks who get all their news analysis from the Times, WaPo or Sunday Talking Heads circuit, both because of the inherent bias in the mainstream press and because "Top Iraqi Weapons Inspector Says No WMD" is a sexy headline that sells newspapers. I could see this even while talking to my parents yesterday. Intelligent, educated, but confined mostly to mainstream media, they have a completely different understanding of what is going on in Iraq than I do. Not that they would vote Democrat (perish the thought!), but they believe that Dubya is getting into increasingly deep political trouble over the matter. And in politics, perception has a funny way of becoming reality, even if there is no actual basis for it.

As I noted re Andrew Sullivan's comments below, the Bush White House has to come out swinging on this issue. It is just too damn important to let Kerry and his ilk demagogue it.

UPDATE: Justin Katz is all over this, too. (Again, via Glenn.)

One thought that occassionally wanders into my brain: Is Dubya rope-a-doping the Left again?

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