Thursday, March 11, 2004

Who is that guy?

There is a lot of talk about Bush's new negative ad that targets Senator John Kerry on the issue of fighting terrorists.

In particular, some are wondering who that suspicious fellow is supposed to be in the lowest rectangle (as shoen in this screenshot). Arab-Americans think the ad plays on ethnic stereotypes and want it pulled. Who might that shifty-eyed fellow be?

To find out, move your mouse over the image (Javascript enabled browsers).


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Action - reaction:
Group Calls for Kerry to Apologize

By STAN PELSON Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON March 10 - The president of a national fraternal organization says Senator John Kerry should apologize for his remarks about Republican critics. On Wednesday, after an appearance with supporters at Chicago's Union Station, Kerry described his political opposition as "the most crooked ... lying group I've ever seen."

Henry Belston, president of the Fraternal Association of Crooks and Liars (FAOCAL) said that the statement by the senator was "totally uncalled for and an insult to thousands of Americans." The organization, FAOCAL, has in recent years tried to separate themselves from being associated with what they consider far worse examples of human behavior. "Look," said Mr. Belston, "We're crooks and liars and make no apologies for it. Since 1996 we've been running a campaign to define ourselves in the public's mind."

"But now Senator Kerry says his political opponents are just like us. That's outrageous. We may be crooks and liars, but we have a certain amount of respect for our craft. For instance, we think a lie has to be deployed carefully and with restraint in order to maintain its potency. Yet Bush and his political allies lie again and again and again - and that's just in five minutes time. Also, who the hell lies about WMD in order to start a war that doesn't even bring political benefits the aggressor? It doesn't make any sense. Please, don't associate crooks and liars with the White House. We may not be honorable, but at least we're competent."

The organization's leadership is expected to meet later this week and vote for a resolution calling on Kerry to apologize. However, there is some division within FAOCAL, and the vote will probably not be unanimous. Almost every member thinks that Bush is a sorry example of a liar, but hard-core crooks may abstain from the vote. That's because, in the words of one of them, "When it comes to crooked behavior, Dick Cheney has retired the trophy. You've got to be impressed by the man. He's got his fingers in every pie: Haliburton, the Iraqi War, outing CIA agents, cozying up to Supreme Court justices, threatening Hans Blix - the list goes on. And then, in a stroke of brilliance, when he comes under scrutiny, he claims he’s acting in the nation’s best interest by hiding out in a 'secret undisclosed location'. I admire that inventiveness. He's a crook par excellence. You can't deny it."

Despite the fact that some members consider Cheney the ‘quintessential crook,’ the organization’s top priority is to refute Kerry’s charge that the president and his supporters are a ‘lying group’. "One thing at a time," a FAOCAL official said. "Right now it's lies. A year from now when Bush is out of office, we'll deal with the administration’s crooked behavior. It’ll be a huge task."


White House way off-message:

We were surprised to read that, as part of his presidential campaign, Bush is touting the benefits of free trade. Now, while that may be a good policy in general, there may be times when trade regulation is appropriate. Perhaps there are instances where trade is unfair. Or perhaps regulation of trade (i.e. protectionism) may be needed to help transition workers (or the economy) to a different mix. And of course, there is always the virtue of appearing to care about people affected by free trade. So it was surprising to read this story: Bush Touts Free Trade, Warns of 'Isolationists' And of course, the jobs picture isn't pretty, so the administration is pretty quiet on that front. But why has Bush ignored one genuinely bright spot in the economy, that "overall home ownership levels have hit record levels -- nearly 70 percent of heads of household own their homes"

Let us be clear. We don't want Bush to win this year, but strictly as an exercise in political judgement, why hasn't the administration touted the home ownership angle? Why wade into the free-trade/outsourcing swamp?

Is the White House political apparatus broken?

NOTE: Yes, we know that ownership is largely the result of low interest rates (courtesy of Greenspan), but that shouldn't prevent the White House from trying to get credit for the situation.


White Knight-Ridder:

Two bloggers have some interesting things to say about Knight-Ridder's coverage of the news:
Matthew Yglesias in TAPPED
For my money, the most interesting part of Michael Massing's review of media coverage of Iraq intelligence before the war was the revelation that while most of the press fell down on the job, Knight-Ridder's Washington Bureau was far better. Unfortunately, since the chain doesn't own any papers in the nation's major news markets, no one noticed. Now I check for their coverage of the issue all the time and it's still the best.
Kevin Drum of Calpundit
... read the last seven paragraphs of the Knight-Ridder piece. Those are unusually bald assertions for a straight news piece, especially since they don't include the usual "according to sources" or "some critics say" pretense.
We plan on making Knight-Ridder's Washington Bureau webpage a regular part of our reading. You might want to also.



As part of a campaign to encourage Americans to exercise and lose weight, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new website:, where one can find a list of 100 "small steps" to get you started. If you have seen one of the public service announcements, you might have seen the list scrolling (very quickly) down the screen. Most of the suggestions are reasonable, but these caught our eye:
40. Pace the sidelines at kids' athletic games.
41. Take wheels off luggage.
47. Bike to the barbershop or beauty salon instead of driving.
52. Avoid laborsaving devices.
80. Stop eating when you are full.
98. Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling them.
100. Use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower.

24. Skip seconds.
88. Don't take seconds.
Sure, most of the 100 suggestions are reasonable, but "Take wheels off luggage"? That would probably lead to more physical problems than less. And using a snow shovel is a quick way to get to Heart Attack City. And how many women are going to bike to and from the beauty salon? Not many, we bet.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Innovation - Tom Friedman style:

Get 'em while they're hot. Only $19.99 each.


Sunday, March 07, 2004

One more time: (inspired by this TF column)
March 7, 2004

There Is No Secret Sauce

I am delighted to write to you today as the new foreign-affairs columnist for the New York Times . My name is Tam Veeraraghavan.

Ah, you say, you've never heard of Tam Veeraraghavan, but the name sounds vaguely Indian. Well, I am an Indian. I live in Bangalore. And I'm now the pundit you read in this newspaper.

Now some of you might think that I'm an example of how outsourcing is hurting American workers. Well let me introduce you to Yamini Narayanan, an Indian-born 35-year-old with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma. She recently moved back to Bangalore with her husband to be closer to family. When I asked her how she felt about the outsourcing of jobs to India, she responded with a revealing story:

"I just read about a guy in America who lost his job to India and he made a T-shirt that said, `I lost my job as the New York Times foreign-affairs columnist to India and all I got was this T-shirt.' And he made all kinds of money. Five dollars here, ten dollars there. But it was nothing like his former salary at the Times. "Only in America, she said, shaking her head, would someone be foolish enough to think that anecdotal stories of success could be applied to everyone. And that, she insisted, was the reason America might not fear outsourcing to India: America has more deluded columnists than any other country."



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"There is a reason Americans shouldn't worry, said Mrs. Narayanan. "America allows you to explore your mind," she said. "And now that you've taken over Tom Friedman's job, he'll be spending plenty of time exploring that vacant universe.Although what good it will do, remains to be seen."

In the coming weeks, I'll be telling you why we shouldn't, in Tom Friedman's words, "protect ... the 1 percent of jobs that might be outsourced." They are merely knowedge-based jobs that people have spent a lifetime learning how to do. But now America is poised to triumph in the non-knowledge-based economy. That should translate into big savings for parents who won't need to send their children to college. And if they don't like it, they can hope for a better deal when they get reincarnated in the next life.
Mr. Veeraraghavan joined The Times last week after submitting his resume from an Internet cafe and curry shop. His latest book, "I'll Be Driving Your Lexus and You'll be Planting Olive Trees" (2003), won the 2003 Overseas Press Club award for best in-your-face book on foreign trade and has been published in 20 languages.


How old?

Back on 20 October 2003, Josh Marshall of TPM made the following observation:
... this weekend ... I watched the discussion panel on Meet the Press. With the exception of Robin Wright, who’s a real pro, the group has become as perfect an example of Washington’s geriatric and right-leaning insider culture as you’ll ever see.
We can't find the guest list for that day, but whatever it was, it couldn't compare with the pundits on MTP last week. They were:
David Broder11 Sep 192974
William Safire17 December 192974
Robert Novak26 Feb 193173
Doris Kearns Goodwin4 Jan 194361