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Saturday, November 06, 2004
Nobody's Perfect

It's all starting to make sense now. For months we've been trying to find Hugh Hewitt's prom picture from the '70s, in which he is a sporting a canary yellow tuxedo. Obviously said photo is being held by Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania and used against Hugh as blackmail. How else to explain Hugh's defense of Specter?

On reflection, it seems to me a very bad idea to try and topple Senator Specter from what in the ordinary course of events would be his Chairmanship. I hope my colleagues on the center-right that embrace pro-life politics will reconsider.

I understand that Senator Specter voted against Robert Bork, and that Senator Specter is not a friend of the pro-life movement. But genuine progress in the fight to return American public opinion to an affirmation of life before birth cannot be made through strong-armed tactics and almost certainly will not be lasting if it is accomplished through a putsch. Institutions that are destabilized for expediency's sake do not regain stability after a convenient alteration.

Yeah, that's what we need in the Senate. More "stability." Remember during the excruciatingly drawn out run-up to the war in Iraq (labeled by leftists as a "rush to war"), when we were told that invading Iraq would "destabilize" the Middle East? The response to that objection was that years of "stability" in the Middle East had produced nothing but dictators, Islamic fundamentalism, and terrorism, and that it was high time to shake things up.

I for one have had enough of the "stability" in the Senate offered by the likes of Specter, Chafee, and Snowe. When Specter was challenged in the Republican primary by conservative Pat Toomey, many commentators on the right (including yours truly) backed Toomey. Unfortunately, President Bush, Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania's other senator), and Hugh supported Specter and helped him fend off Toomey.

Hugh Hewitt is an intelligent, generous man of unquestionable integrity who has done much to help the conservative cause (to say nothing of the blogosphere) through his talk radio show, his blog, and his books. But he was wrong about Specter in the Pennsylvania primary and he's wrong about him now.

C'mon Hugh, is the picture really that bad?


How You Goin' Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

Dave from Indianapolis e-mails to give credit to the cultivators of the earth:

"Farm Aid" founders Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and John Mellencamp campaigned against President Bush. They released anti-Bush songs and videos. Two of them performed at Whoopie Fest.

The farmers of America voted like the salt of the earth they are. One can see this by looking at the final map broken down by county. Farmers had to simply be shaking their heads during the campaign season when they saw how several of their "Farm Aid" icons were behaving.

Family farms were direct benefits of the tax cuts. Inheritance taxes have a direct impact on the family farm. The Senate, sitting on the energy plan, cost the family farmers every time they pump diesel, pump gas, or pay to ship their products to market. Farmers are close families and attend church.

I would love to know the thought of the three "Farm Aid" founders. They have to be disappointed.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004
my one fingered victory salute

[Editor's note: for the most part we refrain from the use of expletives on this blog. In general, using profanity does not reflect well on the writer. It is often nothing more than a juvenile attempt to garner attention and is used as a substitute for meaningful thought (see the vast majority of local lefty blogs). However, on occasion circumstances dictate that its use is appropriate. And this is one of those occasions. If you are sensitive about such matters, I urge you to skip this post and come back tomorrow when the normal family-friendly atmosphere of Fraters Libertas will once again be evidenced. Unless Atomizer gets cut off at another wine tour that is.]

The election is over. The President has been re-elected. The GOP has picked up seats in both the Senate and the House. For those of us on the right side of the aisle, it's a time to celebrate.

We're being told that we should be magnanimous in victory. That we should not gloat or mock those on the other side. And to a certain extent, I agree with that notion. I respect the stalwart Democrats who fought the good fight for their party. Guys like Flash from Centrisity. They are decent, honorable people who just happen to be wrong about most of the issues of the day. While I am glad that their candidate was not successful, I have no desire to rub their faces in their defeat. And anyone who has been at trivia night at Keegan's knows that I am nothing if not a gracious winner.


My magnanimity only goes so far. And when it comes to those on the left who were fueled by irrational hatred and engaged in the most despicable, egregious, slanderous, defamatory, and disgusting attacks on a sitting U.S. president in memory, I have nothing but disdain. This may seem a bit extreme, but I find myself agreeing with sentiments like this:

Let's face a hard truth: this was the bitterest Presidential campaign in living memory. The Democrats and their allies staked everything on the defeat of this President. All of the resources they had accumulated over a generation of struggle were thrown into this battle: and they have failed. Despite all of their tricks, despite all of their lies, the people have rejected them. They mean nothing. They are worth nothing. There's no point in trying to reach out to them because they won't be reached out to. We've got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and out boot above their head. Now's the time to curb-stomp the bastards.

Metaphorically speaking of course. The truth is that ever since the 2002 election (and earlier in some cases) we've had to put with a non-stop barrage of invective directed against President Bush. And now it's time for a response.

To the sneering punks who called Bush a smirking chimp, the conspiracy nutjobs who couldn't say four words without Halliburton dribbling out of their mouth, the goons who tried to shut down GOP campaign offices, the morons who think Bush is an idiot, the defeatists who encourage our enemies while demanding that we don't dare question their patriotism, the thugs who painted swastikas on Bush campaign signs, the sophists spouting "regime change begins at home", the historically challenged fools who compare Bush to Hitler, the "It's all about oil" idiots, the Fahrenheit 911 watching simpletons, the delusional paranoids who claim that fascism is now upon us, the self-important nobodies who fancy that their dissent is even worth crushing, and the disaffected expatriates who trash our president and country overseas to curry favor with their Euro buddies, I have a simple message using the straightforward words of Dick Cheney:

Go fuck yourselves.

I also want to extend my one fingered victory salute to some specific individuals and groups. So here's a big Fuck You victory shout out to:

Michael Moore, The City Pages, Al Franken, National Public Radio, Bruce Springsteen,, Barbara Streisand, the a-holes at The New York Times (big-time!), Dan Rather, Rock The Vote, Garrison Keillor, CBS News, George Soros, The Guardian, Michael Stipe, The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board, P Diddy , Minnesota Public Radio, Nick Coleman, CNN, Paul Krugman, Kim Ode, the eastern half of Canada, Molly Ivins, Whoopi Goldberg, and France.

And I have a further message to all those (especially relevant for Michael Moore) who claim that they'd rather leave the country than spend another four years in George W. Bush's Amerika:

Don't let the border gate hit your ass on the way out.


Friday, October 22, 2004
Happy to Take a Paid Day Off For A Better Minnesota

John Kerry's rally in the Metrodome parking lot yesterday is being hailed as one of the largest in state history. The Kerry campaign's estimate was 30,000. Inflated as that might be by spin, the pictures attest it was an impressively proportioned seething mob.

Big attendance and the pictures provided are the real point of these events. If you can portray an outpouring of genuine support and revved up excitement for a candidate, the independent swing voter might just be swayed. Because deep in his heart, all he really wants to do is support a winner. It's the bandwagon effect and this is partly why polls taken days after an election asking voters "who did you vote for?" typically result in the margin of victory for the winner far exceeding the actual vote tally.

Believe it or not, sometimes the press even helps out in creating the impression of a chosen candidate as Mr. Excitement. For example, the Star Tribune's breathless headline today "Kerry Ignites Dome Crowd" and the objective description provided by the professional journalist on hand was:

Tens of thousands of fans roared their way through an amped-up 34-minute version of the Massachusetts senator's stump speech.

This Kerry fellow does sound like he's some sort of Magic Man. From that description, even I may have to consider voting for him. But I hope his chances aren't hurt by voters confusing him with that other John Kerry. You know, that aristocratic, moribund Democrat we've seen on TV for the past 20 years.

Perhaps the Democratic partisans were really as fired up as the press reports. By their own "Anybody But Bush" philosophy, their standards for excitement are remarkably low. They'd probably be just as jazzed for an appearance by someone as coma inspiring as Walter Mondale. (Oh. Never mind.)

This is the point that is missed in the press reports. The crowd was almost exclusively comprised of rabid partisans. No one was there with an open mind or drawn there on the basis of Kerry's magnetism. The crowd is there to play the game as much as the candidate is. He pretends he's the fresh new voice of optimism and excitement and progress, they pretend they're reasonable, intelligent voters who've conscientiously weighed the issues and realized this man is what the country needs. And it all looks good on TV and in the quotes provided to the newspaper. Things like:

Kerry ignited thousands of supporters, many of whom waited outside the Metrodome in a light drizzle and steady winds for more than two hours. "We need change and we need help and I think he brought that to us tonight," said Marlys Fox, 43, of Columbia Heights.

Getting back to the alleged record crowd for Kerry, I wonder how much of the turn out was due to another event, conveniently being held at the same time. The teacher's union convention started yesterday in St. Paul. These days they call themselves Education Minnesota and their convention is their annual gratuitous demonstration of power to the people of Minnesota. Instead of holding their meetings sometime over their three month break during the summer, they shut down the entire public school system in the middle of the school year. By their own estimates (which again should be looked on with suspicion) 10,000 - 12,000 professional educators attend. This out of their entire membership of 70,000. So the education system grinds to a halt so 17% of the membership can attend a union meeting, while the rest enjoy a nice four day weekend at taxpayer's expense. Showing once again, being a monopoly is good work if you can get it.

I wonder how many in the crowd yesterday were teachers, fresh from their Excel Center meetings and seminars. Or simply teachers who had the day off, and no work the next day either, thus allowing them the luxury of taking hours to participate in a political rally on what is a work night for everyone else.

There's no direct evidence to support this speculation (the local press sure isn't on it), but the teacher's union unyielding support for the Democrats is well established. According to George Will:

one in 10 delegates to the Democratic [National] convention was a member of a teachers union

According to Free Republic (via the AP), the 2.7 million member national teacher's union (NEA):

... has never endorsed a Republican for president and typically spends $9 out of every $10 it raises on Democrats.

All of that money, by the way, provided by YOU. From your property taxes to teachers' salaries to the union to the campaign of John Kerry. Yet another reason to demand school choice - defund the Left!

For these reasons, I think it's entirely reasonable to assume the Metrodome parking lot last night was lousy with teachers. But in actuality, they didn't even need to go to Minneapolis to participate in a partisan political rally. There was plenty of that going on at their convention. Flash from Centrisity was there:

Bob Woodward was the keynote speaker at the Education Minnesota convention. I was fortunate enough to make it in time to get a nice center aisle seat, 5 rows from the front. He opened to a standing ovation, receiving a warm greeting from a crowd who wasn't really sure what he was going to share. He waved us down stating "Please sit down, it's not that good", which was greeted with a room full of chuckles.

Giving a newspaper reporter a standing ovation is a bit much (which even Woodward seemed to realize). But never underestimate the love of this crowd toward those who helped bring down a Republican. The Education Minnesota promotion of the Woodward appearance tends to support this:

Woodward first gained national attention when, as a young investigative reporter for the Washington Post, he teamed up with Carl Bernstein to investigate the burglary at the Watergate office building that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Bravo! Bravo! Sure, maybe they were only applauding that whole 'speaking truth to power' thing. If so, I expect Matt Drudge to get a standing ovation for instigating the Clinton impeachment, next time he's invited to address Education Minnesota.

More from the Flash at the convention:

This spiel was no rah rah speech like those that preceded his keynote. Prior to him, both Senator Mark Dayton and Garrison Keillor pumped up the crowd in a 'Political Forum'

While it's good to see Mark Dayton has crawled out from his concrete bunker to make a public appearance, the whole idea of a "Political Forum" during a public employee union meeting, featuring a shameless hack like Garrison Keillor, is a little depressing.

Remember, these are the people taking your tax dollars, demanding more and more every year, so they can turn around and give millions to John Kerry's campaign. Who knows how much more of your money they spent on Bob Woodward's and Garrison Keillor's speaking fees. Good citizens, these are the people teaching your kids!

At least they will be on Monday. Remember, they have today off too.

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Thursday, September 30, 2004
Highly Debatable

Welcome to live blogging of the first presidential debate of the season. We're having a Summit with allies including Hindrocket from Power Line, Mitch from Shot In The Dark, King from SCSUScholars and a host of others.

8:10pm John is wearing silk pajamas. King is wearing pajamas made from the fur of
Armenian lemurs. Mitch is wearing...Good God Sir! Put some pants on!

8:13pm Kerry looks like Captain Pike. W droppin' his g's.

8:16pm This is perhaps the geekiest thing I have ever participated in. Bloggers all around, blinging away on their laptops. Thank God we have beer.

8:18pm Rush to war? This is one of my favorite lines from Kerry. More like a slow, agonizing crawl to war that very well may have made the insurgency we are facing today much worse.

8:21pm Atomizer is wearing a seer sucker shirt. Kerry is BSing about cops, tax cuts, chemical plants, loose materials (sounds like a personal problem).

8:23pm David Strom appears to be surfing for porn.

8:24pm Killing 'em over there draws cheers. Troops will come home when the job is done. When the Iraqis are ready to take care of their own bidness. Nice line with "artificial deadlines."

8:27pm Saint Paul says that watching live blogging is like watching sausage get made. Mmmmm...sausage.

8:28pm Fresh cred from Kerry. Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. Questioning Kerry's cred for voting against $87 billion.

8:29pm First menttion of Vietnam. Everybody drink!

8:32pm First mention of Haliburton. Drink! New game: every time Kerry says "summit" we drink. Could be a long night.

8:33pm John just spilled his drink. Grape juice on David's white couch. Ouch.

8:34pm This live blogging is making me thirsty.

8:37 Chad the Elder has fled to the lavatory, St. Paul filling in. I offered to live blog his experience but he claims he needs some "me" time in the biffy.

8:40 (I think, I'm not wearing a watch). Just noticed the Elder walked off with David Strom's copy of the Sunday New York Times. He clearly intends to be in there for a while.

8:45 Kerry: "I believe I'll get this job done" - we'd appreciate a little more certainty John. 'I WILL get this job done'- that kind of determination and conviction I can vote for.

8:50 A returned and refreshed Elder wonders: "How does the Peace Train/Wellstone! crowd react when Kerry vows to crack down on Falujah?" Any Butcher but Bush, perhaps?

8:54 I'm sitting next to King Banaian of SCSU Scholars. If I'm not mistaken, he's wearing Brut. Or possibly Aqua Velva. There is something about him. (Something that makes my eyes water.)

8:56 A nuanced arguement by Kerry about preemption, sounds suspiciously like the need for a UN permission slip. Maybe my nuance comprehension ability is flagging. I have been drinking.

9:00 Iranian Moo-lahs - I like it. Sounds like something new at Dairy Queen. Something with ice cream and falafel.

9:08 I smell cookies. I assume that's someting Margaret Strom is whipping up for dessert, and not the further nuancing of King's cologne.

9:10 I admire John Kerry's manicure.

9:15 Dueling dad talk by the candidates, a new low for American political discourse.

9:20 Sorry for the delay in comments, the cookies are being dished up and I'm distracted.

9:25 The Elder refuses to jump in for the last 5 minutes. It's me from here on out.

9:27 The Elder is hoping against hope Ghengis Kahn gets brought up. He thinks the varying pronunciations could seal the deal for Bush. Jenjis Kahn, indeed. Closing statements, historical precedence shows less than 10% chance of Ghengis Kahn making an appearance at this point. Unless Bush cares to bring up Kerry's wife.

9:30 It's over, Bush wins, using the 10 point must system in a 10 round bout, score 100 - 94.

The Elder Adds: That's Saint's call. I give it to Kerry by a small, and in the long run, completely insignificant margin.


Saturday, September 25, 2004
Unsafe At Any Frequency

Listening to the Art Bell show on KSTP, now hosted by some guy named George Nouri. But it's still devoted to the the weird and the bizarre. For example, right now he's interviewing Ralph Nader. Seriously, he's on right now and for the rest of this hour. Late night blog readers tune in now.

He's rantin' and ravin' and plugging his book and throwing around wild, unsubstantiated charges at both Kerry and Bush. It's outstanding. The highlight so far, moments ago, Nader referred to President Bush as a "dodge drafter."

Is that the new rear-engine coupe from the folks at Daimler-Chrysler? Or has ol' Ralph been nipping at the ouzo tonight?

UPDATE: Ralph doesn't believe in UFO's. His reasoning: "if they come here, why don't they ever stay?" Hard to argue with that. No wonder they won't let this guy in on the debates.

UPDATE: Ralph is concerned about Bush and Kerry's Skull and Bones membership. Secret oaths and all that, who are they beholden to? Now he's talking about potential initiation rites and rituals, and he said, I quote "they bond in a very uncensored way." It seems this show is about to take a very ugly turn.

UPDATE: Phhhhew, he's back to bitching about the minimum wage.

UPDATE: On to Mad Cow Disease. A leading, non sequitur question by Nouri. Ralph seems momentarilly fazed. Now he enthusiastically concurs, it's a very serious matter. He says if there ever is an epidemic of it, that'll be the end of the meat industry. Move over John McCain, there's a new Straight Talk Express at the station.

UPDATE: And that's it, the hour ends, fittingly, with the Eagles "Take it to the Limit". Desperado might have been more appropriate.

UPDATE: Now a Menards commerical. It's the Octoberfest sale! Big savings on tarps! I'll stop now.


Friday, September 24, 2004
Parroting the Puppet Propaganda

The Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Sunday, 8 August 2004 through Wednesday, 11 August 2004:

Iyyad 'Allawi, the US-appointed puppet "prime minister" visited an-Najaf on Sunday and demanded that the Jaysh al-Mahdi withdraw from their city to allow the US aggressors full control.


Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry adviser yesterday:

"The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips."

Can you imagine if a senior advisor to Thomas Dewey had appropriated labels employed by Joseph Goebbels and used them to describe one of our allies in 1944? Is this how the Kerry campaign demonstrates how "I want victory, I want to win [in Iraq]"?

The longer this campaign season drags on, the more disgusted I become with the Kerry camp's willingness to do anything to win the election, regardless of how it might affect the outcome of the war.

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Friday, September 17, 2004
Kerry Is So Very...

David from Our House Blog has posted a rather hilarious photo essay on the many moods of John Kerry.

Since I don't have two hours available to allow my dial up connection to download it all, somebody will have to let me know if it's as good as I've advertised. I can read the text though, including this barb from David:

In tribute to Saint Paul of Fraters and his dial-up access to the web, I have decided to do another of my very very very famous photo essays.

It's no wonder he's so popular around town.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Say It Ain't So Mr. Lifto!

Michael J. Nelson details some of the efforts aimed at defeating President Bush that you may not have heard about before:

The most famous of the terrifying Euro-circuses, Cirque de Soleil is strongly anti-Bush and will be dedicating a large portion of their profits to various "soft money" 527s. As the centerpiece of their cross-country tour, they're going to dress up Terry McAuliffe as a delightful, puckish, ragamuffin elf, shoot him out of a canon onto a trampoline and then through a flaming papier-mâché elephant.


Gearing Up

For all your election needs stop by The George W. Bush Online Store: Official Bush-Cheney '04 Logo Merchandise. The URL of the site is:

If you happen to miss the W, you end up here which is probably not what you had in mind, although some of those Antichrist t-shirts are nice. I guess we can rest easy knowing that GW's got the Satan-worshiping vote locked up.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Danny Boy

Noted wordsmith Russ Vaughn has a request:

Chad, will you post this? They won't be stonewalling long if their advertisers start complaining. Money walks and BS talks, right?

No problem Russ.

These companies advertised on 60 Minutes last Sunday. Let them know how you feel about that network interfering in the American electoral process.





requires registration








American Express (Note: e-mail address correction. Thanks Steve.)

Tell these companies what you think about Dan Rather, 60 Minutes and CBS.

Russ is kind enough to send in his latest poetic offering as well:

Danny Boy

Do you know what I would rather think?
I'd rather think that Dan will blink.
Unable to defend his blather,
From pajama'd fiends that round him gather,
With keyboards blazing out their scorn,
As this great Samson's locks are shorn.
This first Sequoia, hacked into logs,
Won't be the last felled by the Blogs.

Dan's faux reports were belied by the science
Deployed by our robed and unshaved alliance.
We rendered them fakes by letter and line,
This Pajama Brigade, so up yours, Mr. Klein!
Ol' Dan must admit he's been outcomputer'd,
Taken to the Vets and journalistically neutered.

One question remains that indeed does perplex us
Must we take him back, out here in Texas?

Russ Vaughn

Texas Hill Country


The French Connection

David from Texas e-mails to point out a surprising source of donations to John Kerry:

I did a search on our ZIP code, 75006, at to see how my neighborhood was contributing to the Bush and Kerry campaigns. First, the good news is that we at 75006 have contributed about twice as much to Bush as to Kerry.

However, I found another interesting little nugget...Our ZIP code, 75006, is also a ZIP code in PARIS!! YIKES!!! After digesting this horrible, horrible fact, I examined the data a little closer. Of the $12,415 contributed from "75006" to John Kerry (this does not include Dean, Clark, the DNC, etc.), over 1/3 of the amount was donated by Frenchies! ($4,573, or 36.83% to be exact.)

Not surprisingly, there were no French donations to GWB or the RNC.

Okay maybe it's not all that surprising after all. I suspect that most of the donations were made by American ex-pats living in France, but still this is further reinforcement of the notion that Kerry is the favored son of the French. For some reason I don't think that's going to help him much on this side of the Atlantic.


Voting With Their Coin Purses

My wife passed on this story that could throw a wrench into the Bush re-election machinery:

Medicare has suddenly emerged as a volatile issue in this year's elections, as Democrats are vowing to roll back a sharp increase in premiums announced this month and the Bush campaign is seeking to blame lawmakers, including Sen. John Kerry, for the rise.

The trading of charges reflects attempts by both parties to seek an advantage with older voters.

Democrats, hoping to reclaim an issue central to their success in past elections, said they would try to block the 17.4 percent increase that will come out of Social Security checks next year.

If Congress does not intervene by passing legislation, premiums will rise in January to $78.20 a month, or $938.40 a year. That is 56 percent more than in 2001.

Combine the entitlement philosophy that most senior citizens have (best exemplified by Grandpa Simpson's, "I'm old: gimme, gimme, gimme!"), their proclivity to be suckers for fear based scams, and their high voter turnout rates, and you have the makings of a perfect political storm for the Dems. Look for a slate of "scary" ads seeking to exploit this issue in the coming weeks.

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Call A Repub, Win A Prize

I went down to Bush HQ here in town to inquire about some yardsigns and tickets to see The Man. They told me if I dialed a list of numbers and encouraged those who answered to send in their absentee ballots that not only would they give me a yard sign and all the bumper stickers I cared to take to later affix to Subarus, but also VIP dukats to see Bush!

With the Doubtlessette assisting, I called approximately 40 people. Reached several dems, some old people who thought I was selling something and even a few of Our Own who told me they could be counted on to seal Bush's victory.

The beautiful thing was to watch 25 adults--most of whom seemed very uncomfortable calling strangers--blasting away at these lists with a pile of cellphones. Being an old phone pro from my college days, I insisted upon and received a land line and proceeded to burn the numbers off the keypad.

There was a teenager dude who was kind of running the show. And by that I mean he handed you a list and said "If you call all these people you get a ticket."

Some of the phoners seemed put off by what we used to call "refusals" or those that hang up in your face or worse. "They told me the people would be nice" a woman said with her young child in tow.

All in all it was a good time and there was something calming about being in a room with a bunch of other Right Thinking People. I'll be heading down to do my part more in a few days and I would hope y'all would do the same.


Saturday, September 11, 2004
Case Closed

Hurricane Jim Styczinski continues to cut a swath across the Twin Cities political and cultural landscape. Not content to sit back and bask in the glow of his one man wrecking crew victory at Keegan's Thursday night trivia, he apparently is back in Washington D.C. tirelessly mining the Pentagon's document archives. This morning he sends in his latest find, another disturbing memo related to 1 st Lt. G.W. Bush's alleged "service" in the Texas Air National Guard:

I've uncovered another memo that seems to clear up all the recent controversy. I've confirmed its authenticity by comparing it to other memos by the same author which have already been authenticated by a major network news anchor.

Memo to File


1. I'm having trouble handling Bush. He keeps talking about what a waste of time it is to fly in circles over Austin. He says we ought to "fire up these bad boys" and "bomb Baghdad." At first I thought he was just using Baghdad for the alliteration, but then I realized he doesn't know what that means. Instead, he seems to have some strange obsession with Iraq. I do worry what may happen if he achieves higher rank, say Commander-in-Chief.

2. I'm writing this memo to cover my ass because I've observed that Bush has a tendency to smear other officers, especially highly decorated war heroes. His preferred method is to utilize a shadowy cabal of surrogates.

3. If I should die before Bush is elected, please hand this over to Dan Rather, he is a real pro whom I've always admired. But, wait until Bush is running for reelection to his second term. Incidentally, my wife and son are liars, so don't ask them to authenticate this.

4. I have more bad things to say about Bush, but apparently TANG has sold this typewriter to some kid named Gates who wants to use it as a model for some word processing program or something.



I think that puts an end to the "bogus document" theory once and for all. My only worry is what the effect may be on the credibility of Powerline--which was repeatedly promoted last night on Fox News as the definitive source of the story. It's hard to believe they'll be able to continue blogging after this scandal breaks. I pray those young whippersnappers have some other marketable skill or trade to fall back on, hopefully in an area less concerned about honesty than the blogosphere.


Thursday, September 09, 2004
Secret Bush Memos Revealed

Those wondering what ever happened to Jim Styczinski can cease their worries. He has emerged. Turns out he's been involved in a research project that may shake this Presidential election to its foundation. Here's Jim's report.

I have done some research of my own through the Texas Air National Guard archives at the Pentagon, hoping to uncover some information exonerating President Bush. Unfortunately, I found two memos that are troubling to say the least. Although I'm a supporter of President Bush, I want to see the truth out there, so I urge you to post them.

Memo 1 is Dated 21 April, 1972

SUBJECT: Bush, George W. 1st Lt. 3244754FG
Unauthorized Hitler's Birthday Pimps and Hos Party

1. I conveyed a verbal reprimand to 1st Lt. Bush for his use of a USAF/TexANG hangar for his "Hitler's Birthday Pimps and Hos Party". Although the pimps all seemed to be frat brothers of 1st Lt. Bush, the Hos seemed to be actual prostitutes.

2. I reprimanded 1st Lt. Bush for unauthorized use of controlled substances on government property, including, but not limited to, crack cocaine, ecstasy, smack, and Elmer's Wood Glue.

3. I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush cease wearing unauthorized adornments to his uniform including, but not limited to, his KKK hood, his swastika arm band, and his "I Like Adolph Eichman" button.

4. I recommend the transfer of this officer to a more red-neck squadron, if one may be found. I also suggest that we fill this critical billet with a true hero from the list of qualified Vietnam vets that have rotated. I've heard good things about a Lt. Kerry who would be a breath of fresh air for this unit.

Lt. Colonel Killian

Memo 2 is dated 14
June 1972

Memo to File
SUBJECT: Discussion with 1st Lt. Bush

1. Phone call from Bush, discussed options of how Bush can get some friends of his and his dad on base for some informal basic flight training. I told him that foreign nationals, even if they are from respected Saudi Arabian families, and even if they aren't interested in learning how to land, are not allowed on base except under official training exchanges.

2. Bush was very insistent on this, and I think he's also talking to someone upstairs, as he says that his dad is Vice President of the United States and that he'll have my job. He then took a swig of whiskey, asked me how my attempts to get him transferred have worked out, and called me his beeotch.

Lt. Colonel Killian


Shocking stuff. Somebody alert Matt Drudge to this. Actually, Dan Rather may be a more appropriate outlet. People tell me he'll believe anything.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Compare And Contrast

Last week, the AP falsely reported that the audience at a Bush rally booed President Clinton after the announcement that he had been hospitalized and that President Bush "did nothing to stop them". The audio from this event clearly demonstrates that this was not the case.

Curious as to how left leaning audiences reacted to the announcement of President Reagan's death earlier this year, I did a bit of Googling and discovered this in the show archives of NPR's A Prairie Home Companion. Fast forward to around the 3:15 mark of Segment 1 and listen to the sounds of liberal civility. Pay particular attention to host Garrison Keillor actually doing nothing to stop it.

Funny, I don't remember an AP story describing that.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 06, 2004
Read All About It

The complete version of John Kerry's tome "The New Soldier" is available online here. The cover alone should be enough to give you pause, but here are a few quotes from the man who would be president:

In JOHN KERRY's own words: "And so a New Soldier has returned to America, to a nation torn apart by the killing we were asked to do. But, unlike veterans of other wars and some of this one, the New Soldier does not accept the old myths. We will not quickly join those who march on Veteran's Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the "greater glory of the United States"." "We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars...." "We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim"

In fairness to Kerry, he didn't say "We will not shamelessly exploit our military records for political purposes, going so far as to snap off a salute when we accept our party's nomination for president."


Veterans' Day

On Labor Day, we give you "Veterans' Day", the latest from Russ Vaughn, who is fast on his way to becoming the Bard of the Blogosphere (sorry Joe):

How liberals do defy the mind
For nothing in theirs' can we find,
That willingly will look with reason
At how their man committed treason,
Skulked off to Paris this effete
To grovel at the Madame's feet,
Betraying his sworn officer's oath
To become the turncoat we so loathe.

Our law is clear you shall not treat
With America's foes nor their cadres meet;
Give aid nor comfort to enemy forces
Nor espouse a view from hostile sources.
Without a mandate from the state
Wherefrom your right to negotiate?
Was treason, John, and is treason still
To this very day your unpaid bill.

Don't try to hide behind your youth.
You knew the law you knew the truth.
You knew your faux negotiation
Would further tear our war-torn nation
And all for what, John, your career
So you can shameless brazen here,
And claim now that you're fit to lead
The very nation you made bleed?

And yet before us there you stand
With medals blazing you demand
Such treachery we must ignore
Your treason that lost us our war.

But hold on, John, we veterans say,
You had your turn, now comes our day.
You thought we slept, forgot your crime?
Oh no, John boy, it's come our time.

Some say let you apologize
But that won't do it in our eyes.
A man astride of each position
Could we believe your true contrition?

The vindication we'll accept
In settling up this long-held debt,
Is each of us will do his best
To deny you, John, your lifelong quest.

Listen carefully John to what we say, November 2d is Veterans' Day.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66


Friday, September 03, 2004
Runnin' With The Devil

Last night, we immensely enjoyed watching President Bush's acceptance speech at a Party for the President, hosted by David Strom. Strom is the big kahuna of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and has become one of the most controversial figures on the local political scene. The Minneapolis Star Tribune and The City Pages, the local "alternative" paper, have vilified Strom in recent years, and he was named 2004's "Villain of the Year" by the City Pages.

For a man who's taken more than his fair share of slings and arrows, Strom is amazingly upbeat and jovial. In fact, you get the impression that he revels in his role as Minnesota's right-wing bad boy. The large banner hanging in his home celebrating his City Page's villain distinction certainly reinforces this perception.

Unlike some "new urbanists" who rail against suburban sprawl while living in Minnetonka (a posh suburb west of Minneapolis) and driving SUVs, David Strom is keeping it real. He resides in a recently built home in North Minneapolis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Twin Cities, the neighborhoods of North Minneapolis are not exactly the most sought after properties in the metro area.

David and his lovely wife Margaret have built a beautiful home in the 'hood and were gracious hosts last evening. The only part of the house that we didn't get to see was the basement, which must be the place where they make ground beef out of puppies and orphans (if the local media organs are to be believed anyway). They laid out a spread of delicious vittles, had a wide selection of fine spirits, and even their choice of beer was appropriate for the circumstances (Shiner Bock and Blonde).

It was a festive evening of fast-paced, fun-filled political conversation (no, that is not an oxymoron) as I mentioned yesterday. In addition to David and Margaret, the crowd included my wife and I, Saint Paul, The Warrior Princess, John R. LaPlante from Policy Guy and his wife, Peggy Kaplan from what if?, David's next door neighbor and his wife, the Strom's three birds, and Atomizer.

Before the speech we watched a DVD supplied by the RNC for the occasion (you see we DO get our talking points from them!) that chronicled John Kerry's ever shifting position on Saddam Hussein's Iraq through video clips going back to the early '90s. Even with Saint Paul's caveat that some of the clips probably did not include the complete context of Kerry's remarks, the impact was devastating. It is far too long to be used as a campaign commercial, but as a device to demonstrate Kerry's crass political opportunism and lack of conviction, it is extremely effective.


Moving On From Reality

I challenge you to read this excerpt from a e-mail that I received today without laughing. At least three times.

Dear MoveOn member,

Republicans hoped that their convention would strike a ringing tone that would echo through the media for the next week. But between the speakers' nastiness and belligerence, John Kerry's swift and tough response, and our hard work, the momentum they're banking on is nowhere to be seen.

At a midnight rally last night, John Kerry stood up to Bush's attacks. "For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief," he said. "Here is my answer to them: I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq."[1]

Now that the convention bubble has burst, we have an opportunity today to focus the media on the soap scum that remains. Commentators have been surprised at how ruthlessly negative and bitter the convention was - from the Purple Heart band-aids that Karl Rove's mentor handed out on the stadium floor [2] to Zell Miller's rabid attack on John Kerry [3]. Whether or not that perception solidifies into conventional wisdom depends on the conversation in the nation's editorial pages, where our letters to the editor can make a big difference. We've loaded up our letter to the editor tool with all the information and talking points you need to write a letter -- all it takes is a few minutes of your time.

Yeah, that "swift and tough" response from Kerry has really reversed the momentum hasn't it? It must have been that witty line about the RNC standing for "really not compassionate" that turned the tide. I look forward to reading the Strib's letters to the editor page tomorrow and spotting the canned MoveOn entries.

And that convention bubble really has been burst hasn't it?

For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.


Not Just Another Pretty Face

The best part of having bloggers cover the political conventions has been the injection of some personality into the dry pundit mix. For example, I can't imagine any of the mainstream commentators taking time to do a GOP Babe of the Day feature. But with the presence of the bloggers, we've had not one, but two guys filling this market niche. Both Wizbang and the Northern Alliance's own John Hinderaker have been on the case this week. Now that's new media progress!

Yesterday, Hinderaker's choice was Brooke Adams, an aide to Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) (and if it's possible to be a babe who's over 60 years old, I guess Rep. Dunn would be it.)

I must say, it's a good call by Hindrocket, Adams does have the stuff election night dreams are made of. Looking at her apple pie face and seeing that name rang some vague bells of recognition for me. At first I thought I might have run into her at the raucous election night party for the Stearns County District 3 Soil and Watershed Commissioner race last year. Upon further review, it turns out that party girl was actually Mildred Orswanger.

Instead, a quick keyword search on Blogger reveals Ms. Adams graced the pages of Fraters Libertas before. Believe it or not, she was an independent candidate in the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California. Back on October 2, 2003, in my Recall Election Preview Spectacular, I gave her my o-fishul endorsement.

Unfortunately, Hinderaker kind of left us hanging here. He didn't query Brooke on her ill-fated gubernatorial run. Nor did he ask about her reign as homecoming queen at Huntington Beach High school, or her cheerleading exploits as a 4 year letter winner. It appears he just kind of gawked at her, like some drooling cub reporter from Spike TV.

Sure, I think Hindrocket has done yeoman's service in NYC and I applaud his efforts. But for future convention coverage, the Republicans really ought to be sending somebody with a basic knowledge of political history.

UPDATE: Looks like Brooke has discontinued her election site, but these fine folks archived it for us. Click on over and enjoy the memories. (Note to Hindrocket--there are lots of pictures too.)



My wife's parents have just told her that they plan to vote for President Bush come November. This may not mean anything at all, but I take it as a good sign. Although both of them live very conservative lives and her Dad is a Korean war vet, they are not reliable Republican voters.

They share a populist streak, which is very common here in the Upper Midwest (and the subject of much longer future post). This streak often manifests itself in a distrust of those in power, and a strong dose of suspicion of anyone with wealth. A lot of it is based on class envy and the belief that those at the top did not really earn their place there. There is also a tendency to embrace conspiracy theories.

Which explains why they voted for Jesse Ventura in 1998. In 2000 they decided that they could not vote for either Bush or Gore. I think they went for Buchanan, but they could have gone for Nader as well. It didn't really matter who they were voting for; it was a protest vote against the two major parties.

Since then they have been fairly muted in their political views. They strongly supported the President after 9/11, but haven't been as keen on Bush since then. I do suspect my father-in-law loathes John Kerry. However, until today, we were unsure how they would vote this year, and thought that there was a decent chance they would go the way of a third party candidate once again.

As I mentioned earlier, this may signify nothing at all in larger terms for the election. But, coming on top of what was a very bad month for Kerry and a very good week for the President, it is yet another indication (micro) that, for now at least, things seem to be going Bush's way.


The Illustrated VDH

The Friday column by Victor Davis Hanson today on NRO is, per usual, outstanding. I was particularly heartened to see this clear eyed student of history look ahead to November 2 with this prediction:

If Bush wins in November, and I think he will, then there will be recriminations and fury of the like we have not seen since the Right imploded after 1964. For many of us lifelong Democrats, the very sight of Michael Moore perched next to Jimmy Carter at the convention in Boston says it all - the sorry coming together of conspiratorial anti-Americanism and self-righteous appeasement.

Also interesting to note his reference to being a life long Democrat, something I didn't realize about ol' VDH. With the likes of him and Zell Miller supporting the Bush candidacy, and assuming they represent a broader, pro-robust national defense, pro-American wing of traditional Democratic voters, I'm starting to believe Bush may pull away with this thing yet.

Perhaps because he's a Democrat, Hanson does a superb job in identifying the essence of the modern Democratic party and why they have the potential to alienate so many voters in their traditional base.

When upscale protestors swear at delegates and parade obscene signs in New York while John Kerry goes windsurfing in shades and racing gloves, you have a recipe for disaster for wannabe populists.

Americans instinctually are repelled by these images and right now this is what the party of the Left offers. The more the people get to see this, the more votes they are going to lose. So, I say rage on children of the revolution and sail on John Kerry. Just continue to be yourselves and everything should be all right. At least as far as the election goes. Because, as VDH reminds us, come Nov. 3, the world will still be there waiting for us:

We are not at the end of history, but rather at its new beginning. All the old truths--conventional warfare, the Atlantic alliance, petroleum-based affluence, conventional political debate, etiquette, principled disagreement, and the old populist Democratic party are coming under question. And the only thing that is clear from what will follow is that it will all be loud, messy, full of surprises - and occasionally quite scary.


Thursday, September 02, 2004
In Livin' Color

9:12pm Live from sprawling Strom compound in North Minneapolis we are watching the President's speech. Here is a chronicle of our reactions. Lots of flag waving: jingoistic patriotism is running rampant in the room.

9:15pm The crowd here eats up the Reagan reference. Maybe we should name a highway after him...

9:17pm Strom boos progress in education.

9:18pm Crowd down on prescription drug coverage.

9:19pm Atomizer boos American workers.

9:20pm Crowd wildly applauds tax cuts.

9:21pm Tepid reaction to working moms at MSG. Flag waving continues here.

9:22pm Flags waving like crazy here. Permanent tax relief is very popular.

9:23pm More flag waving. "Kill the lawyers now," chant begins.

9:25pm It's safe to say that any talk of tax cuts and simplification is playing to a receptive crowd here.

9:27pm Cheaper health insurance plan greeted with skepticism. HSAs much more well received. Portability is key.

9:29pm Bureaucrats booed lustily. Medical malpractice reform is cheered.

9:29pm Atomizer says he has a home.

9:29pm Saint Paul sips his beer.

9:31pm Strom calls for more war talk.

9:32pm Social security reform and personal accounts are very well received.

9:33pm Possible Jack Kemp sighting.

9:34pm More education funding booed.

9:36pm Saint Paul demands to know where the Mexican flags are. Strom and Atomizer are getting in an education pissing match.

9:38pm No live blogging from Power Line or Captain Ed. What are we paying these guys for anyway?

9:39pm Shots at Kerry as an old-school tax and spend Democrat are applauded. Enough with the chanting though.

9:41pm Fatigue setting in for Saint Paul. Shot at activists judges raises him out of his slumber. "Screw the libertarians," Strom cries. Strict constructionist judges play well.

9:42pm Hollywood bashing and trashing Kerry's conservative values have the crowd in a frenzy. Or maybe it's just the Scotch.

9:45pm War talk brings the flags out again. Can someone please crush that dissent now?

9:48pm Quiet now as Bush talks of Iraq and the rationale for the war. Good tie in with 9/11 and the madman. Defend America every time line is crowd pleaser.

9:50pm Progress on democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq cheered.

9:51pm Good explanation of why democracy in those countries is important to halting terrorism.

9:52pm Nice shot at Kerry with troops returning home with honor. Letter from soldier in field is effective. Flag waving for the troops. I told you it was a jingoistic crew.

9:56pm Don't tell me Kerry voted against the $87 billion? An oft used line, but still quite good.

9:57pm A Sarah Janecek sighting?

9:59pm Good defense of the coalition. Strom calls for more French bashing.

10:00pm Freedom good. Evil bad. I need another beer.

10:01pm Brief mention of Israel. More coming? I hope.

10:03pm Bangin' on the New York Times? Beautiful. And there was much rejoicing.

10:05pm Call to duty. The country requires us to stand together. To stand with Bush.

10:07pm Nice use of self-deprecating humor. Swagger line is killer. A nod to mom. Shortcomings and strengths nicely interplayed. Saint Paul scratches his eye.

10:08 Somber reflection on challenges of being a war time president. Loss is difficult, but for a higher purpose. Tears from the women here.

10:09pm Back to 9/11. Resurrection of NYC. Religious undertones. The hard core left must be hating this.

10:10pm A time for every season. Atomizer mentions the Birds. Some people.

10:11pm He opens my beer. All is forgiven. Bush wraps speech up. Strom thinks Laura Bush is a babe.

10:13pm Positive reports in the immediate aftermath on MSNBC.

10:14pm Our grades:

Saint Paul: B- Not enough use of foreign languages.
Margaret: B Clintonesque
My wife: B Good jokes, good slams
Atomizer: B+ Needed more hellfire.
Policy Guy: B- Too long, too disjointed.
Peggy: A Best speech she's ever seen him give.
The Warrior Princess: A+ I am a shameless partisan hack
David: A Ended on a high note.
Next door neighbor guy: B+ Good beat, easy to dance to
The Elder: B+ A bit wandering, but overall strong.


Don't Believe The Hype

Can we please quit with the talk about how this speech or that speech will impact the precious "undecided" voter? Zell Miller's speech last night was red meat for Republicans and demagogic fascism for the Democrats. Do you really think that legions of undecided voters were watching it? Not bloody likely.

Look, if you've made it to this point of the election cycle without making up your mind, it's probably because you don't care about politics all that much. And if politics isn't your bag, the chances of you pulling up a chair and watching speeches by anyone other than the candidates themselves are slim to none. Hell, I'm as big a political geek as the next guy, but last night I was flipping the channels between convention coverage, the Twins game, and South Park.

Today Republicans are howling with delight about Zell's zingers and Democrats are howling in self-righteous anger. Both sides are trying to convince themselves that the speech will somehow swing the election their way. I enjoyed watching Miller rip into his party after having endured months of Bush bashing from the Kennedys, Carters, Gores, and Moores. However, the reality is that the Miller speech just doesn't matter, no matter how much the wonks try to tell you that it does today. It might be hard for those of us who live and breathe this stuff to accept, but the whole world is not watching.

If Bush grips it and rips it tonight or if he slices into the deep rough, it may move the polls slightly. But if he delivers what I expect; a solid but unspectacular effort, the impact will likely be minimal.

Kerry received little if any bounce from the milquetoast DNC. From what I've watched so far, the RNC has been very well run and has gone pretty much exactly according to the GOP plan. But, I still don't see it doing much for Bush. Those who loathed him before will still loath him tomorrow. Those who loved him going in will love him going out.

The undecideds? They're busy with the pennant races and Trading Spaces. Oh, they'll make up their minds sometime between now and November 2nd. But they likely won't be thinking about Zell Miller's speech when they do it.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004
GOP Down With OPP

Funny, no mention of bloggers in this row:

Aside from the guy who held a lollipop up to a dancer's breast and sucked on it, the Republicans were generally well-behaved tonight.

Now, at a strip club being well-behaved entails heavy drinking and consistent lap dances. One group of three men who confessed to being in town for the convention bought at least $400 worth of lap dances, which breaks down to a little over five dances each. They were equal opportunity employers, sampling every race and body type, giving the dancers--many of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants--the very shot at fortune Arnold spoke of in his speech. But as one man told me around 2 a.m. that he had been drinking for eight hours straight, it's quite possible they missed the speech.

I'm disappointed that we haven't been getting any crack reporting that seeks to expose the naked truth and get to the bottom of the matter, as this blog does, from Hindrocket and Captain Ed so far. At the 2008 RNC, I think the Northern Alliance will have to send a duo with a better nose for uncovering such news: Saint Paul and The Big Trunk.


Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Kids Say The Darndest, Most Stupid Things

I listened to this evening's RNC speeches while doing some touch up painting in my office at home. Not as glamorous an assignment as the boys in Bloggers Row (why do I think of strip clubs everytime I hear that?) have perhaps, but we all have our role to play.

Ahnold was Ahnold. What he says doesn't matter as much as the way he says it, although tonight's speech had plenty of content to match his charisma. A-

Hearing the Bush twins pathetic attempts at self-deprecating humor (could not they find someone to write some decent lines for them? Give us a ring next time girls and we'll talk.) was painful. The less we hear from these two the rest of the way, the better. D-

Laura was Laura. Plain-spoken, modest, and nice. And boring. She's a wonderful woman and makes a great First Lady. But a headline speaker she ain't. C+

Other that Ahnold, a rather unimpressive evening. I still wonder why they stacked McCain and Rudy on the opening night, instead of saving Rudy for Wednesday. I'm sure that Zell Miller will do a bang-up job, but I can't imagine that he'll be able to approach the rhetorical heights reached by Giuliani. Tomorrow night will tell.


Monday, August 30, 2004

Russ Vaughn, who served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, was kind enough to e-mail this beautiful verison of a Kipling Classic. Enjoy:

(With apologies to Mr. Kipling and the British Army)

Johnny went public with 'is boasts, an' 'ero without fear,

'Til sudden like the Swifties say, "We got a turncoat 'ere."

The Libs they just ignored 'em, sayin' "Ah, it's all a lie!"

Then Johnny's outted by their ads an' to myself says I:

Oh it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, 'e's the 'ero of the day.

But it's wait now, Mr. Kerry, what's that record really say?

The horns are loudly blowin' boys as our band begins to play,

An' it's goodbye, Mr. Kerry, as they blow your arse away.

Johnny goes to Cincinnati sober as a man can be,

An' they give ol' George a "Bravo Lad!" but John no sympathy.

They give 'im plain their message, sittin' silent in the 'alls,

That when it comes to fightin' men, they know oo's got the balls.

For it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, but wait, he might 'a lied

From the platform of his campaign train an' on the Boston tide.

His ship is on the tide, my boys, his ship is on the tide,

An' it's plain as day she's sinkin' boys, because the turncoat lied.

Yes Johnny mocked our uniforms that guard you while you sleep.

He cheapened all our medals throwing his upon that heap;

An' rustlin' up his phony troops, he led them for a bit,

Until his aspirations and theirs no longer fit.

Now it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, an' Johnny how's yer soul,

In that brave front rank of 'eroes as our drums begin their roll?

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

An' they'll keep right on a rollin' boys, 'til we chuck 'im in the hole.

We make no claim as 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,

But 'onorable men an' warriors fightin' once agin for you.

An' if your 'ero's record, our charges soundly taint,

That's what we're tryin' to tell you blokes, your 'ero ain't no saint.

For it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, an' "Check him out, the Loot!"

Was 'e the "Savior of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot?

Now it's Johnny's turn to prove us wrong, an' make us all out liars,

By signin' that one eighty form an' puttin out the fires.

Oh it's Johnny this an' Johnny that, 'e's the 'ero of the day,

But it's hold on, Mr. Kerry, what's that record really say?

The horns are loudly blowin' boys, as our band begins to play,

"Cheerio, Old Man," to Johnny and blows his arse away.


Thursday, August 26, 2004
Smackdown the Vote

Regarding my post yesterday on the political implications of professional wrestling, a couple of astute observers of the scene have chimed in.

First, John Hawkins from Right Wing News has an insightful post on the lessons politicians can learn from professional wrestling crowds and their reactions to various hyperbolic characters (a description that equally applies to grapplers and campaigning politicians). Excerpt:

...wrestling fans, particularly American fans tend to be very nationalistic. You will never go wrong talking up America or waving a flag around. Furthermore, the WWE made a big show of supporting the soldiers in Iraq.

On the other hand, there's no easier way to gin up "Heat" than to trash the US as villains like the Iron Sheik, "The Russian Bear" Ivan Kolov, and the latest annoying foreigners, La Résistance (they're French, but shocker there, I know) have proven.

Application: If you can point out to people how people like Ted Rall, Michael Moore, & Noam Chomsky trash America, you will permanently turn people off to their ideas.

I also received an email from Josh Almas, a professional wrestling aficionado. He applies the skills of a journalist and historian in this fascinating look at the background of the wrestler JBL and his political implications.

I just read your article on WWE superstar John 'Bradshaw' Layfield (JBL) and it's possible reflection on the Presidential race. As a Republican and an avid pro-wrestling fan (I hold a BA in History and Political Science, and have traveled the country to attend WrestleMania (the super-bowl of pro-wrestling) each of the last four years), I thought I'd point out a few things.

Overall I was impressed by your analysis, and researching, a lot of bloggers wouldn't have done the research to find out that Layfield has a background as an investment analyst for CNBC, or the details of his termination. Although Layfield's time with CNBC was short-lived, he had previously served in a similar role with Fox News Channel for a much longer period of time.

However there were a few points in the article that contained mistakes and I thought I could shed some light on these points.

Taking it from the beginning MFSM recounts Layfield's use of the phrase "God Bless the United States of America" to end his speeches. MFSM is correct that this phrase has been met with great hostility from audiences. However, what he fails to inform you of, (or perhaps was unaware of himself,) is that fact that Layfield uses this type of language when performing before crowds in Canada. Such was the case this past week when JBL used the phrase at a show taped at Hamilton, Ontario. Prior to using the "God Bless" phrase as a sign-off JBL had riled up the nationalist fervor of the Canadian crowd by referring to Canada as America's "little sister," saying he was better than them because he was from the United States, and saying that they shouldn't boo this because, "we protect you."

Insulting Canadians and playing up to anti-Americanism in Canada just like goose-stepping in Germany, is, in wrestling vernacular, referred to as "cheap heat." Layfield in his is no stranger to this practice, his Buchanan-esque anti-immigrant railings were a part of his character when he was feuding with Mexican-American WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. Now that he has moved on from this feud with Guerrero, JBL only pulls out the anti-immigration part of his character when performing in areas with large Hispanic populations. When performing in the Northeast he emphasizes his Texas heritage, but when performing in Texas he proudly proclaims that he now lives in New York City and had to leave Texas to become wealthy.

This reliance on "cheap heat" stems largely from the fact that Bradshaw is generally not liked by the fans (and by not-liked I mean not only in a "we don't love him" way, but also in the "we don't love to hate him" way). Never an accomplished singles-wrestler JBL was given his new character and immediately pushed into a headlining role this past April, due to the departure or injury of an astonishing number of main-event superstars. The fact is in the eyes of most fans JBL as a main-eventer has been a huge failure. WWE continues to push him, and has even made him WWE World Champion because they simply don't have much of a choice right now on Layfield's Smackdown! brand.

You cite an article by Phantom Lord talking-up the potential of the gimmick to be a success. I have never read anything by this particular columnist before, but know he is not one of the more well-respected wrestling columnists currently writing on the Internet. However since that column was written in mid-April most of the potential seen by Phantom has not been realized due to general fan disinterest for the character of JBL. (Interestingly enough, Phantom also gets it wrong on the other new gimmick he discusses, "Special" wrestler Eugene Dinsmore. While JBL has floundered as a main-eventer Eugene quickly was embraced by the fans, and although he was intended as an under-card wrestler recently found himself in a main-event feud with Triple H, who due to his status as Vince McMahon's son-in-law always is able to attach himself to the WWE's hottest stars.)

A couple other notes to touch on.

The mock political commercial that MFSM references is a pretty accurate portrayal except for one huge problem. The commercials targeting Foley had nothing to do with John 'Bradshaw' Layfield. They were part of a storyline between Foley and Randy Orton, those commercials even ended with a "Paid for by friends of Randy Orton" tag.

WWE, much like Major League Baseball is divided into two distinct leagues, referred to as brands; Raw, and Smackdown! Each brand has its own TV shows, announcers, referees, title belts, and wrestlers with very little cross-over between the two brands. Both Orton and Foley are a part of WWE's Raw Brand, while Bradshaw is a part of Smackdown! Moreover, the fake ads in question ran in December, when JBL was still beer-drinking Bradshaw of the APA (a gimmick which actually did last for the better part of five years). The description of the ads is accurate, however, and it is worth noting that the program between Foley and Orton was instrumental in building up Orton's character to the point where he has just recently won the World Title for the Raw brand, and is in the midst of turning face (becoming a good guy).

Although Bob Mould did indeed spend a period of time as a writer for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and WWE did indeed buy WCW in January of 2001, Mould has never, to the best of my knowledge, been employed by WWE. The last word in WWE writing is and has always been Vince McMahon, and while McMahon does indeed employ a team of writers lead by his daughter Stephanie, the buck stops with him.

The JBL push in particular has been identified by insiders as something of a pet project of Vince's. (Hence the top of the card status despite general fan apathy, nobody could back that type of a push except the boss.) But I don't think this is a part of some project by McMahon to advance liberalism. While he has never publicly announced his political affiliation, the North Carolina born-and-raised McMahon certainly doesn't look like a Democrat to me. Consider that this past December McMahon personally led a WWE tour to perform live for the troops in Baghdad. Additionally a quick search on the Federal Campaign contribution database through Newsmeat, shows that both Vince and Linda McMahon (Vince's wife and WWE CEO) have generally, though not exclusively, supported Republican candidates.

In conclusion, while I more than anyone, would love to be able to draw political understanding from the world of pro-wrestling, I think that JBL is not such a case. If anything I would say that it just goes to show that the concept of an Evil Capitalist Republican wrestler isn't nearly as hated as WWE bookers seemed to think it would be.

Wow. I'm confident in saying that ends the debate about what the JBL phenomenon really means. Now Man From Silver Mountain can go back to watching WWE Smackdown! with an untroubled mind. I wish all controversial issues were so easily resolved. (Easy, in that someone else did all the work).

Maybe we can get Josh to investigate this whole Kerry in Cambodia mess and get that solved once and for all. Until he does, you can catch more of Josh's work at his home site and he's involved with another site called


Wednesday, August 25, 2004
The Politics of the Fore Arm Smash

For the last few weeks, our correspondent Man from Silver Mountain has been getting nervous about the upcoming Presidential election. He's a Bush supporter and he thinks things are looking bleak. But it's not the polls that bother him. It's not news from Iraq or updates on the rate of job creation or even the endorsement by Bright Eyes that haunts him. What has him near despondency is what he sees while watching professional wrestling.

Apparently there's some guy on WWE parodying a rich Texas Republican and the crowd hates him. MFSM comments:

An update on my theory that W will lose because bad guy wrestlers are imitating him. One was wearing a suit and a cowboy hat, complaining of high taxes and ending his speeches with the phrase, "God bless the United States of America." The people boo him and throw things at him.

The plot has developed to the point where he is now pretending to take out advertising to smear his opponent. The ads are a parody of a well known Bush ad campaign. The "ad" starts like this (Mick Foley is his opponent and the name of the show is Hardcore): "Mick Foley claims to be a Hardcore legend. But let's look at the facts: Mick Foley . . . "

It goes on to accuse Foley of various non Hardcore legend offenses before concluding with: "Mick Foley claims to be a Hardcore legend. But in reality, Mick Foley is a little p-word."

I'd personally like to see W use that last line in his advertising.

Foley himself was on Air America's morning show this week. It is kind of funny to hear pro wrestlers talk about their scripts. He claims to have actually dreamed up the smear campaign against himself. He also pointed out that politicians have been stealing from wrestling for years. "CNN's Crossfire is really just an old wrestling interview."

Does MFSM have reason to worry? Professional wrestling is an excellent barometer of the mood of the middle and lower socio-economic strata. And I've never heard of a wrestling crowd turning on a true blue, flag-waving son of the South. Could this be evidence of a growing anti-Bush backlash among the blue collar heartland?

Short answer, probably not. Remember, this is professional wrestling we're talking about, where the crowd reactions are played like a Duane Alman guitar solo. Google research shows the much hated cowboy hat wearing wrestler in question is a masterfully conceived and well executed heel (heel, in pro wrestling parlance, meaning predetermined villain). He also happens to be the WWE Champion of the World. Goes by the name JBL or Bradshaw. Real name is John Layfield. His history:

John Layfield first appeared as Justin Hawk Bradshaw in the mid 1990's as the tag team partner of Barry Windham in The Blackjacks. Bradshaw was then 'sacrificed' by The Undertaker and became an Acolyte, alongside Faarooq and shortened his name to Bradshaw. After this 'dark side' gimmick, he turned face as a cigar-smoking bar-brawler. This gimmick was an evolution of the Acolyte gimmick and continued his teaming with Faarooq as the Acolyte Protection Agency (or the APA). Their motto: "We need beer money."

Based on that timeless, universal theme, it's hard to believe that gimmick didn't last. But Layfield has moved on and his current shtick is based on being an obnoxious rich guy. According to some observers, it is an act that could become a ratings bonanza:

Despite what others are saying, I think [WWE Chairman Vince McMahon] has struck gold with him. Here you have a big bad republican capitalist who happens to be a wrestler. It's a thing of greatness. The skit last night where he offered $1,000 to a kid who could wax his Limo's hood in a minute brought me back to my childhood and the good old days of The Million Dollar Man screwing over someone at the last second so he didn't have to pay them. That my friends is great heelwork and because of that, it's going to be a very good year for JBL.

So JBL's persona isn't so much playing on ideology, as it is playing on the issue of class (and classlessness). This is a time tested rasslin' crutch. Making him a Republican is a new wrinkle, which leads me to wonder if the promoters of WWE may have a political agenda of their own. Or maybe it's the bias of the script writers. Could this story line be the product of former Twin Cities punk legend, now liberal activist and professional wrestling script writer, Bob Mould?

If you're going after the arrogant RICH in this political season, you wouldn't necessarily have to make him a Republican. Making him a hypocritical Massachusetts aristocrat, who wears lycra shorts with a daisy zipper and blames his body guards for every loss he suffers would seem to work just as well. You could even have him flip flop between being a heel and being a hero, depending on the situation. It would be brilliant satire.

Making Bradshaw a Republican does have one thing going for it - accuracy. John Layfield is a Republican in real life, scheduled to appear the Republican National Convention next week. He's a successful investor, author, and former investment analyst on CNBC. Although that last position was terminated early based on this episode, during a match in Germany:

Three weeks after announcing it had hired WWE wrestling bad boy John "Bradshaw" Layfield as a financial analyst for the network, CNBC said yesterday it was shocked to learn that JBL was in fact a WWE bad boy and it sacked him for doing the Nazi goose step and stiff-armed salute during a World Wrestling Entertainment match in Munich.

In Layfield's, defense he was in his villain character, doing a routine guaranteed to rile the Teutonic masses to rage (at least we'd hope it would profoundly offend them). Desperate partisans on the Left may latch onto this as supporting evidence in their Bush = Hitler quest. But they'd be wrong. According to the Washington Post, Layfield's persona is based on a Bush opponent from the 2000 election:

"Most of my promos are straight out of Pat Buchanan's run for election. That's where I got it from -- preaching against immigration, the fact that they're teaching in Spanish in public schools, and I say 'Spanish' with a despicable look, like I want to throw up. I got all of this from Pat Buchanan."

All things considered, it probably doesn't make sense to have this guy showing up at the Convention next week. There's already a bad precedent set with Pat Buchanan antics at Bush nominating conventions.


An Open Letter to Senator John McCain from a Vietnam Veteran

Russ writes to Senator John McCain:

Senator McCain,

I begin this missive with an embrazo, as we call it here in Texas, for your service to our country, as a warrior, as a prisoner of war and as a United States Senator. You have served far better and endured far more in the service of America than most men will ever do. For that, this old sergeant salutes you.

That said, as a Vietnam ground combat veteran, I must take issue with you on the situation of John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans. You have labeled these men "dishonest and dishonorable," and that, Sir, is nothing more than your opinion based on no direct knowledge of the events they dispute. For you to so condemn these men publicly, without any firsthand knowledge of John Kerry's performance in their midst and under their professional observation, is unfair to them and all veterans who share their view that John Kerry is unfit to command. Who was best qualified to evaluate you as a naval aviator, those senior officers who flew with you or the enlisted men who serviced your aircraft? Who had the experience, training and knowledge to make a professional military judgment of your performance in the air, the trained naval aviators on your wing or the enlisted flight crew back on the carrier? Certainly the enlisted men were vital in performing the mission but observing and rating your performance was not their role.

It is my understanding that you originally shared our animosity towards John Kerry, but during your senatorial service, you came to know John Kerry more personally and chose to forgive him for his labeling you a war criminal. That you are able to forgive a man even though he had denounced you and your fellow aviators as you languished in North Vietnamese prisons, with your captors using his testimony to try to break your will, is truly commendable. I admire you for your ability to turn the other cheek. However, I must point out that your forgiveness of John Kerry is purely personal and imposes not one iota of obligation to forgive him on those of us who still consider him contemptible.

You carry no mandate to speak for us. Your personal feelings are yours and yours alone; but, emphatically, you do not speak for us. You spoke up to defend your friend and your friend has turned your words into talking points. It is truly reprehensible how the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media are hiding so cynically behind your condemnation of the Swiftvets, using your statement as an excuse to dismiss their claims as baseless, smear politics. Honestly, Senator, did you really intend to provide this kind of cover for those who are so desperate to prevent the truth from coming out?

With all do respect, since you weren't there to observe John Kerry first hand as were these Swiftvets, may I humbly suggest that the honorable thing for you to do, is to stay out of this fight and allow them and us to have our voice. Moreover, there is one thing you could do to level the playing field: acknowledge that you have no true knowledge of events the Swiftvets describe and that your immediate condemnation of these men was premature. Call on the mainstream media to investigate all parties fairly and determine whose version of events is true. I understand John Kerry is your friend, but that places him neither beyond accountability nor above the truth. You have a unique ability at this moment in America's history to make a difference. You have long been a dutiful warrior and servant of the people.

Please, do your duty now.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

I would request that all who agree with the sentiments expressed here copy this letter and send it to:


Friday, August 20, 2004
...and a dollar short

On Wednesday my wife and I were at the Xcel Energy Center (home of the Minnesota Wild) with fellow Frater Saint Paul, Ed from Captain's Quarters, and Mitch Berg from Shot in the Dark. We were attending a rally for President Bush. Accounts of the event have already been provided by Ed, Mitch, and Derek from Freedom Dogs. I don't have a heck of a lot to add to their recollections, so instead I've elected to provide my views on what went down in the form of grades.

Let's begin with the MC, talk radio hostess Laura Ingraham. From what Laura has said on her show, I gather that she didn't get much notice for this appearance. And it definitely showed. She seemed ill-prepared, unfocused, and at times downright confused. It didn't help that the sound system made her voice sound extra screechy. She is also not a naturally funny person. Her attempts at humor fell flat and she was generally uninspiring. Hewitt, Prager, and especially Medved could have done a much better job. I also found it odd that was she was never formally introduced. It was just assumed that we would all know how she was, and, judging by the reactions of people around me in the crowd, that was a faulty assumption. Grade: C

The opening invocation was short but sweet and didn't offend those of the non-Christian persuasion unlike the long-winded prayer dirge that opened the second day of the MN GOP State Convention. Grade B+

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly merits a spilt score. On his political gamble to back Bush I give him an A-. On his performance on Wednesday I give him a C+. Charisma thy name is not Randy Kelly.

Memo to the doofus from the College Republicans: You are trying too hard son. Way too hard. Take off the "power" tie, unbutton your shirt, and stop with the histrionics. Grade: C-

In fact he should spend some time watching Colonel Joe Repya. The man is the real deal. He spoke from the heart and he spoke with passion. Plus great visual aids with Bush and Kerry bobble heads. Grade: A-

You're the Republican Party. You're having an event for the President. In St. Paul, a city where you desperately need to broaden your appeal. So when the time comes for someone from the local Bush/Cheney campaign team speak you choose a business owner from the wealthy suburb of Edina? Huh? Despite the speaker's assurance that the Edina vote was safely in the Bush column (whew-I was worried about that one) this was a terrible call. Why not put a blue collar guy from St. Paul up there? Grade: D+

Congressman John Kline did a fine job in the time he had. I think by the time he spoke the schedule was off and he had to rush a bit. Still overall he performed well. Grade: B+

Congressman Mark Kennedy brought some emotion to the event with the touching story of an Iraqi woman who visited him in Washington DC to learn about democracy. Grade: B+

Congressman Gil Gutknecht on the other hand was pathetic. And I'm ain't just talking about that silly excuse for a hair piece either. In a time when Republicans are trying to focus the electorate on the big issues of the day (the war and the economy) Gil chose to discuss four of the most trivial issues imaginable. And after we had just been told that Bush was a strong leader because he didn't base his decisions on opinion polls, Gil cited survey after survey showing that Americans supported the meaningless issues he was pushing. Gil from the Simpson's could have given a better speech. Grade: D--

Norm Coleman got the crowd out of their seats (those who had seats that is) with his list of ten reasons to vote for Bush. It wasn't a perfect performance, but even when Norm is not 100% he's still better than most. Grade: A-

And finally the big guy. W. I had been expecting a boilerplate twenty minute stump speech and so was pleasantly surprised when Bush's talk lasted nearly forty-five minutes. For the most part, I was buying what he was selling. Bush laid out the best post-invasion justification for going to war with Iraq that I've yet heard from him. I looked over at Captain Ed a couple of times during it, and we nodded in agreement that this is what voters need to hear over and over, from now until November. Bush also delivered a strong message on ownership and responsibility for all Americans. These are areas that I believe are critical in appealing to those Americans who consider themselves liberal, but tend to lead conservative lives. And he made me very happy by mentioning Social Security reform and how important that issue is for the younger, post-Boomer generations. There was some overlap and returning to previously discussed issues during the speech, and, with a bit of editing, he could probably have trimmed five minutes out without losing any context. But overall I was quite impressed with the man and his message. Grade: B+

The big question is, was it worth it? Worth the half-day of vacation that I took from work? Worth the wait outside to get in? Worth standing for close to five hours with no relief for my feets?

Undoubtedly yes.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Help Is On The Way

Via the Kerry Christmas in Cambodia story and our efforts to find out why the local press isn't covering it, we've learned a couple of new things about the media. (And if this stuff was widely known already and I'm exposed as a naive hayseed, then so be it).

First, it's completely acceptable for reporters to cut and paste verbatim items from other sources (in this case, the AP) and dump it into their own articles, without direct attribution. I had no idea this was going on, but according to the reporters in question, it is standard operating procedure. How many other professions allow this to occur? Besides maybe academia, I don't know of any. And I'm envious, since this marvelous short cut to actually working isn't available to me.

Secondly, the researching efforts of the mainstream media (at least the Pioneer Press) are pathetic. They can take weeks to unsuccessfully find background information that's widely available elsewhere, via common sources.

The common thread between these two points seem to be laziness. Reporters blindly rely on certain resources to do their jobs for them. And when they fail (AP Wire copy, Lexis/Nexis), the story, and the facts, are lost forever. Although I suspect these are more often ills of smaller papers and less commonly afflict the more ambitious news gathering engines at the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

These issues have resulted in some great reader emails, all of them offering helpful advice to the gang at the Pioneer Press on they can do their jobs better. Vicki Gowler, if you're out there, listen up:

Regarding the Pioneer Press's inability to find the Kerry 1986 speech in the Congressional Record, Brad from Iowa points the finger at Lexis/Nexis:

I spent the better part of two hours the other day trying to track down Kerry's speech - the one Glen Reynolds posted- on my firm's Lexis/Nexis database access. I wanted to find it so I could read the entire speech so as to get the context he was talking in. Especially since he was using the example to try to influence votes in the Senate to defeat a proposal of President Reagan's. But I could not locate it. I used many variations of key words, as per the Reynolds post and no luck. I don't think it is on the Nexis/Lexis website.

I have a guess as to why Lexis does not include the speech. It was related to a defeated amendment to the Resolution that was eventually passed. I have reviewed the CR-Digest for 3/27/86. It notes the Senate passed SJ Res 283, relating to Central America pursuant to the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1985 (Nicaraguan Resistance Assistance), after taking action on amendments proposed thereto. The cite for this is 132 Cong Rec S 3564.

There were 7 amendments to the SJ Res 283 that day. By 33 yeas to 67 nays (Vote No. 48), Sasser-Gore Amendment No. 1718, in the nature of a substitute was rejected. Cite 132 Cong Rec S 3584. I ran both the cites mentioned above, as well as the cites for the other 4 amendments. None appear in the Lexis database. Lexis apparently does not include 100% of everything in the CR.

Interesting to note that Al Gore sponsored the amendment that Kerry spoke on.

If the Pioneer Press was relying on Lexis Nexis for their research, they now know it's not a comprehensive resource and they may have to consider other options.

Brad from Colorado has some more questions about reporters? use of Lexis/Nexis:

Just read your most recent posts. A couple of questions have been brewing in my mind for quite some time with regard to reporters and research: Is there a restriction most news organizations have when it comes to use of Google? Are those organizations in some way contractually obligated to using Lexis/Nexis as a sole Internet database for research purposes?

I consider such an exclusive agreement unlikely. But their failure to use Google as a primary resource is very strange. If they're not contractually forbidden to use it, their reason for not doing so must be an appalling lack of awareness or pure laziness. That is, they've always used one resource in the past and they see no reason to try something new.

Jim writes in to tell us that Google isn't the only alternate resource that could be used by reporters:

The craftsmen at the Pioneer Press are probably justified in blaming their tools if they use an inferior product like Lexis/Nexis for their online research. A quick search in the Congressional Record database on Westlaw (a homegrown, longtime nemesis of Lexis/Nexis) retrieves the full text of 132 Cong. Rec. S3564-02, containing Senator Kerry's delightful Christmas fantasy.

Another tip for the Pioneer Press, expand your horizons and go with local heroes Westlaw next time.

Finally, Kent has some other tips on successful media researching:

It's possible that they're looking in the wrong place. Vicki Gowler's email says ?I know the allegations center around Kerry testified before Congress in 1986, but so far our KRT researcher can't find anything in congressional testimony records to that effect.?

In fact the statement was not made in "testimony", but on the floor of the Senate. It's possible the "KRT researcher" (they have only one?) has been diligently poring over the archives of each Congressional committee looking for such "testimony" for the past week and coming up empty. But as Glenn Reynolds found out, finding a Senate floor speech is a relatively easy matter.

Interestingly, the same day that you posted the correspondence between "The Kernel" and Vicki Gowler, the Pioneer Press' sister Knight Ridder publication in Kansas City published this article dealing specifically with the Cambodia allegations.

But it also makes the same mistake, quoting Kerry "in 1986 at a Senate committee hearing during a debate on U.S. policy toward Central America."

There are other minor quibbles with the KC Star story, but on the whole it's a reasonable article on the substance of the allegations specifically about Cambodia, rather than a smear piece on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Unfortunately, the story was buried on page A10. I glance at the Star every day, and Saturday had a chance to read it in more detail than usual, but still missed that story until I saw a blog reference to it.

Yesterday, the Kansas City Star's Reader's Representative had this to say:

"The Star had been waiting for credible sources to move stories over the news wire, which is how most of the news about national politics gets in the paper. When these sources were slow to act, editors felt they had to."
She says Scott Canon wasn't assigned the story until Friday, and it was published Saturday. So much for Vicki Gowler's "the next week or two".

Reviewing today's Pioneer Press, there's still no coverage of the story. The clock on their credibility continues to tick.

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