Archive for July, 2004

An Open Letter To Max Cleland

July 29, 2004

I tapped the following together early this week after reading yet another media eye-roller about the alleged ill-treatment of a former senator from my home state (and trust me, you’ll hear these tall tales again tonight, as he’s introducing John Kerry in Boston), and sent it in to the Atlanta paper as an op-ed. They’ve run my stuff on occasion in the past, but as Cleland’s “smearing” is apparently an article of faith among the editorial staff, I didn’t expect to see this one in print, and to date, I have not been pleasantly surprised to the contrary. At any rate, here it is:

An Open Letter To Max Cleland

Dear Mr. Cleland,

I’ve been seeing your name in the news a lot lately, and much of what I’m reading is very disappointing. Your public statements regarding the end of your political career (“Republicans attacked my patriotism”) and the current Presidential race (“[President George W. Bush] decided to be Mr. Macho Man”) are unworthy of both you and your previously-honorable record of public service.

Nobody ever questioned your patriotism, Mr. Cleland. That was an old Dukakis-campaign straw man your flunkies cooked up to smear your opponents; even the liberal web site Slate admitted as much after an examination of your complaints.

What we did question was your good sense–and judging by your recent descent into the leftist fever swamps, those questions were well-founded. Just two years ago, you were running campaign ads that proclaimed, “Max Cleland supports President Bush on Iraq,” but today, out of power with no hope of being elected again, you’re parroting conspiracy theories that don’t pass that laugh test.

The bitterness in your comments since being defeated are difficult for us to hear, particularly given the sacrifices you made for your country, but that doesn’t make your recent wild claims any more accurate, or your removal from office unjustified. The voters’ decision on you was based on how you served in the Senate, not how you served in Vietnam.

You seem to believe that your lost limbs entitled you to that senate seat. They didn’t, any more than Bob Dole’s WWII wounds entitled him to the presidency. Come to think of it, I must have missed it when you endorsed Dole and fellow war heroes George H. W. Bush over Bill Clinton based on their combat records.

You weren’t cheated out of your seat by George W. Bush, Mr. Cleland. You were removed by us, the Georgia electorate, because you chose to represent Tom Daschle and the Democratic Left instead of Smyrna and Macon and Bainbridge. If you really need somebody to blame for your defeat, you can blame us. Or better yet, you can take a look in the mirror.

You were defeated because you talked like Zell Miller in Georgia, but voted like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in Washington. You were defeated because we didn’t trust you any more, and we didn’t want you wielding power in our name.

You lost, Mr. Cleland. You lost because like your new best friend, Senator Kerry, you are simply too liberal for Georgia. You need not like those facts, but you do need to accept them, for your own well-being.

According to OpenSecrets.org, one of your most generous campaign donors in 2002 was California musician Don Henley, of the Eagles. Regarding your electoral defeat, you should take Mr. Henley’s advice and, at long last, “Get Over It.”

Paranoia, The Destroyer

July 29, 2004

I have to admit, I’ve been wondering what the big deal was over the Kerry “bunny suit” picture that popped up this week. I just didn’t have the same reaction everybody else had (i.e., cracking up); my thought was, “Oh, he’s in a clean suit.” That’s it. Then I read this today:

The pictures have prompted chuckles and jokes among political pundits covering the Democratic National Convention in Boston because, to people unfamiliar with shuttle operations, the head-to-toe light-blue suits look goofy.

However, astronauts, workers or anyone else getting inside a shuttle or near other spacecraft and rockets being readied for launch wears such coveralls to protect the delicate vehicles from contamination.

Exactly right. If you’re familiar with clean-area procedures, the “bunny suit” wasn’t that much of a giggle-inducer (and what the heck, Kerry looks goofy in normal clothes).

Of course, all of the above just reinforces how dumb it was for Kerry flack Mary Beth Cahill to freak out and accuse NASA of a “dirty trick” in releasing the photos. I’d bet you dollars to donuts (mmm, donuts) that nobody at NASA even thought there was anything weird about those pictures.

But now the Kerry campaign has pissed off the vast majority of a large workforce in the most crucial electoral state on the map. Bad move, Mary Beth.

UPDATE: Oh, good grief. Now a silly legal threat has forced NASA to remove the photos from their site. Maybe Rove really does have moles embedded on the other side–why else would the Dems be so dead-set on turning a non-story into an embarrassing black eye?

If this is an indicator of the Kerry campaign’s political savvy, Bush should be sleeping very well these days.

C’mon, We’re Not That Dumb

July 29, 2004

Sometimes you just have to shake your head:

John Kerry’s family dumped millions of dollars of foreign holdings as he launched his White House bid, gobbling up Made in the USA stocks in a huge politically savvy international-to-domestic shift.

The investments, mostly in the name of Kerry’s multimillionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, sold stock in massive overseas players like Heineken, Sony, British Petroleum and Italian Telecom for red, white and blue companies like McDonald’s, Dell and Kohls.

In all, the Kerrys dumped as much as $16 million worth of international stock and bought between $18 million and $32 million in domestic holdings between 2002 and 2003, records show.

Okay, so far, so what? This kind of thing happens all the time in politics; innumerable politicians of all parties have traded in their Mercedes or Lexi for Chevys and Fords just before (or after) declaring their candidacy. It’s done to avoid being labelled as “helping them furriners,” and really, it’s no big deal. But then you read something like this:

Marla Romash, a senior adviser to Kerry, said the financial decisions aren’t political.

“The trustees and Mrs. Heinz Kerry have asked these investment managers, who make their own investment decisions, only to take appropriate steps to ensure that investments are responsible and financially prudent,” Romash said. “The trustees review these investments periodically with the managers to ensure that these investments are responsible as well as financially prudent.”

Oh, please. Ms. Romash, you’re lying, and it’s patently obvious that you’re lying. It’s not smart for a campaign spokescreature to assume that her audience is just mind-bogglingly gullible, particularly when it’s so easy to fact-check your ass:

[T]he timing of the sales appears to be an anomaly among a relatively consistent investment pattern.

Through most of Kerry’s federal disclosure forms, the Heinz Kerry trusts – which invest some of the massive inheritance after the death of her first husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, more than a decade ago – show steady investments and sales of overseas assets.

In the spring of 2002, as Kerry seriously began weighing a presidential run, there appeared to be a marked increase in sales of overseas holdings.

Those stocks were sold because Sugar Mama’s hubby was running for president, and didn’t want to be embarrassed by his wife’s being invested heavily in foreign companies (on the other hand–what are Kerry’s overseas backers going to make of that?).

C’mon, Kerry campaign. Be honest enough to admit it. If we can’t trust you on something this obvious, why should we trust you at all?

King Mattress Update

July 29, 2004

I listened to a little bit of Hugh Hewitt’s Tuesday interview with French “journalist” Regis Le Sommier on a replay yesterday. One of the funnier bits (and there were a lot of them; Sommier clearly had no idea how much Hewitt was leading him along) came when Sommier dismissed a caller’s challenge about the French-built and Israeli-destroyed Osiraq nuclear plant being part of a weapons program, saying, “I know what I am talking about here. My father was a nuclear engineer.”

Hey, Regis! My dad is a dentist. Feel free to drop by anytime, I’ll give you a root canal, on the house.

That is, if you ever get over the one administered by Steven Den Beste today…

Speaking Truth To Appeasement

July 28, 2004

Via Roger L. Simon, Mohammed from Iraq The Model lays his cards on the table:

Can you answer the question what will be the response of Iraqis towards these horrible attacks? I

Post-Mortem

July 28, 2004

I was going to Fisk the multiple idiocies of Regis Le Sommier, as catalogued by Lileks, but then realized there was no point; Lileks had already imbedded links to enough hard facts to thoroughly debunk Sommier’s nonsense.

Still, the breadth of Sommier’s ignorance and/or dishonesty (take your pick) is rather staggering, to say nothing of his apparently unshakable belief in things that aren’t remotely true. France was Saddam’s leading European trading partner and second-largest armorer. The French-built Osiraq plant–personally negotiated by none other than Jacques Chirac–was capable of producing bomb-grade nuclear materials. France’s Fina-Elf did have a huge financial stake in a Saddam-controlled Iraq’s oil business, having signed sweetheart deals with the dictator before the war.

None of these are opinions. They’re all established, documented facts. All denied, with the vehemence of the worst partisan spin doctors, by a guy who’s the American bureau chief for one of his country’s major magazines. This dude has the gall to complain about Fox News? He’s not a reporter, he’s a cheerleader. And a baldly dishonest one, at that.

Think about that little exchange with Lileks the next time you read about American “ignorance” vs. European “sophistication,” or the alleged high level of French education and/or “open-mindedness,” to say nothing about Euro charges that the US media is “unbalanced” compared to the completely equitable and fair-minded press in Old Europe. Ask yourself whether the opinions of people so devoted to flat-out lies are actually worth anything to you, or your country.

And also remind yourself: this guy, who apparently reflects a large majority of opinion in his country, is rooting for John Kerry. Hard.

DIY HDTV DVR, OK!

July 28, 2004

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has launched a neat project. They’re putting up instructions and information on how to build your own DVR (aka, Tivo, ReplayTV, etc.) for HDTV programming. The Digital Liberation Front aims to get as many of these homebrew boxes in circulation as possible before the Hollywood-backed and FCC-ordered “broadcast flag” becomes manditory in HDTV receivers just over a year from now.

As things stand today, you can buy an HDTV capture card for a computer that does not recognize the broadcast flag, meaning you should be able to view, record, and save unlimited copies of any program that comes in through the card. These cards are perfectly legal today, and are not going to become illegal under the current law, but their production (at least for US sales) will end on July 1, 2005. After that, the networks and movie studios will be able to prevent you from making recordings or copies of recordings, depending on how the broadcast flag is set, and any new HDTV hardware will have to obey those rules.

This kind of project isn’t for a complete computer novice, but it’s not like building a flux capacitor, either. Anybody who’s comfortable installing software and a few PCI cards should be able to get a rudimentary HDTV PVR working on standard PC or Mac hardware.

As a confirmed DVR addict (ReplayTV in my case, a platform that makes extracting digital recordings for burning to DVD trivially easy), I’m planning to pick up a couple of pre-flag HDTV cards myself, even though I don’t own an HDTV monitor yet. Sooner or later, I’m going to want to burn an HDTV Auburn-Alabama game to high-capacity DVD, and I’m not going to depend on the goodwill of CBS or ESPN to graciously “allow” me to do so.

That’s Right, I’m Not From Texas

July 28, 2004

… but I did pay tuition there a decade or so ago.

Okay, that was a pointless aside, and not-very-artful way of saying that I didn’t watch a lick of Mrs. Heinz-Ketchup, Governor YEEEEAAAAGH!, or Senator Chappaquiddick last night. Instead, I got to enjoy a blissful evening at Atlanta’s Chastain Ampetheater hosted by the one and only Lyle Lovett (who, to the everlasting gratitude of his audience, remains blessedly apolitical in public).

Lovett’s shows are always a highlight of the summer concert season at Chastain, and this year was no exception. He’s stripped down the Large Band to an all-strings ensemble for this tour (two guitars, mandolin, violin, lap steel, cello and bass, plus drums and piano), dropping the horn section and most of the backup singers. The result is a leaner, more rootsy sound that emphasizes Lovett’s country and blues roots while maintaining a healthy dose of the jazz influences that make him such a unique perfomer and songwriter.

Personally, I love the sound a great horn section brings to much of Lovett’s music, and I have to say I preferred the 2003 set to the 2004, but these are quibbles. It was a marvelous evening, and nobody on stage ever so much as blushed at the thought of hitting a wrong note.

As has become the standard for Lovett’s local appearances, the show was stolen by Atlanta’s own queen of the blues, the luminous Francine Reed. It only took one song with Reed on backing vocals for my friends to say, “Now we know why you keep telling us to go see her!” Reed’s a gem, and a great performer; if you ever see her name on a marquee, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.

Prelude To A Screed

July 28, 2004

As noted below, James Lileks got mugged by a French magazine editor yesterday; Hugh Hewitt has posted a brief rundown, just to whet your appetite for Frog Fricassee while we await today’s Bleat:

Spending a lot of time today with Regis le Sommier, U.S. bureau chief of Paris Match, a sort of Life meets Time meets People. Great exchange between Regis and Lileks, which I hope James writes about tomorrow. Regis acted towards Lileks as all French diplomats acted towards Bush Administration people throughout the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2003. It wasn’t pretty, but it should inspire Lileks to some pretty good writing in tomorrow’s Bleat. Basically, Regis confirmed that the French would vote overwhelmingly for Kerry if given the choice. We knew that, but hearing it confirmed by a senior French journalist somehow makes Kerry’s politics much more distinct.

I maintain that the most devastating one-liner the Bush campaign could use would go something like this: “John Kerry–the French love him, and the feeling is mutual.”

“Hey, Doug! We need to get jobs as visa inspectors, eh?”

July 27, 2004

From the Great White North, proof of Reagan’s Economic Dictum:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.

I think we can assume from this bit that a certain Canadian, ah, industry, is still moving. To say the least.