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Thursday, April 15, 2004
Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen
Atrios has left the building, ending an era in the left-hand side of the blogosphere.
Leaving aside all the praise that many others will be giving, there’s a big question to answer: who’s the new Atrios? Whose site will become the new Eschaton?
Well it’s too early to tell, but here’s one guy’s suspicions, in order of likelihood:
The Boys at Pandagon
Pros: Update fanatically. Hilarious writers—but they don’t get bogged down in trying to be funny. Two guys working on the blog=twice the content.
Cons: A little sophomoric at times (which is fitting, given that Ezra’s still in college), but hey, so is every other site on the blogosphere. Two guys working on the blog=inconsistent brand identity.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 3:1
Kevin Drum, Political Animal
Pros: Shiny, professional website. Calpundit has a long history and well-defined brand. Good writer with good insight.
Cons: Kevin’s cashed in. Not that I blame him, but it does detract slightly from the “independent voice” of the blogosphere. Updates are somewhat inconsistent.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 5:1
Pros: Very funny writer with good insight. A proud partisan who still has time for Britney Spears.
Cons: Spends a lot of time on Britney and Beyonce, et al., and while I’m not knocking that (believe me, I’m not), it doesn’t make for a purely political blog.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 8:1
Markos Zuniga, The Daily Kos
Pros: Easily the second-biggest lefty blog. Has a number of guest posters and the diaries to build content to epic levels. Proudly partisan.
Cons: Has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. Easily the most liberal of the major lefty blogs, which tends to alienate more moderate lefties, like, say, me.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 10:1
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo
Pros: Probably the best pure journalist blogging on the left. Consistently good insight into the world of politics. Very plugged in.
Cons: Doesn’t update nearly enough, because he has a daytime job.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 20:1
Jeff Fecke, Blog of the Moderate Left
Pros: Yes, I am just kidding. Still, why not me?
Cons: Because I currently have about a 60-visitor-per-day readership.
Odds of being the next Atrios: 1,000,000:1
UPDATE: I got punk'd. Artios put together a nice parody, the schmuck. Ah well, the world is better with Eschaton.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Perhaps the worst response in the history of Presidential press conferences:
Question: Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?
What doesn’t come through in the official transcript is the utter inability of the President to wrap his brain around this question—the stammering, the stuttering, the long, awkward pauses.
Look, mistakes have been made. Nobody--nobody--is perfect. Dubya would be helped, not hindered, by admitting his mistakes. (Indeed, for half a second, I thought he was going to. “Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons…” sounds an awful lot like an admission that no weapons are there. Of course, he undercuts what would be a frank admission by yammering about mustard gas and turkey farms, but whatever.)
One more time, Mr. President: we know you aren’t perfect. Hell, Iraq is a mess right now, and it only looks to be getting worse. Somewhere, somehow, someone dropped the ball. Once again, though, this isn’t a “Buck Stops Here” President. When it comes to George W. Bush, the buck stops somewhere over there.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
All of a sudden, I'm very concerned:
Bush will be in real trouble if the situation in Iraq deteriorates. The reported boast of one anti-American demonstrator that he and his ilk "cannot drive America out of Iraq, but we can drive Bush out of the White House, like we did to Carter" is not far-fetched.
--Dick Morris, April 13, 2004
You're crazy, Dick! There's no way that Bush can lose! Come on, Dick, show me that patented Morris magic to be perfectly, ineffably wrong all the time!
If Morris say Bush can lose, the landslide reelection is assured.
From Dan Cole's show on KFAN: "Is [Bush] going to announce tonight that major combat operations have resumed?
They're Not Even a Real Country Anyway
I'm tolerant of homosexuality, and I think the small-minded bigots who attack gays will someday join the pantheon of the small-minded bigots who attacked African-Americans, the small-minded bigots who attacked the Jews, and the small-minded bigots who attacked the Irish.
But this isn't the right way to make that happen:
"Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country," Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada. Law Prof. David Bernstein, in his new book You Can't Say That! wrote that "it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex." Or traditional Jewish or Muslim opposition, too.
Now I can go on a rant and tell you why I think that opposition is wrong. That's the great thing about free speech.
But it doesn't advance anything to make the mere discussion of whether homosexuality is right or wrong illegal. Our society, through fits and starts, is becoming more gay-friendly. But it's becoming so because we're convincing people one-by-one that it just isn't a big deal to be gay. Slowly, over time, we will reach a tipping point, and the anti-gay forces will seem to the vast majoriy to be wrong. Even then, they should--they must--be allowed to speak their minds.
Leo takes a bridge too far by arguing that the right is a better defender of free speech than the left--one need look no farther than the flag-burning debate to see the lie in that. But there's no doubt that many lefties in America have long ago given up on the give-and-take of free expression. Neither side is pure in this, or any debate.
But our ability to speak freely lets us know this, lets us argue and rage and scream and attack. And while I agree with the pro-gay sentiments of our Canadian neighbors, I find their lack of support of the most essential liberty to be dismaying.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Jeff's Top Five
Top Five Awards in Sports:
5. The Heisman Trophy, College Football
Classic--the running back giving the stiff-arm, it ties the past with the present elegantly.
4. The Jug of Milk, Indianapolis 500 (IRL Racing)
While not the trophy, the celebratory swig of milk upon completion of what used to be the most prestigious win in motor sports is an indelible image--at least until IRL becomes a feeder league for NASCAR.
3. The Gold Medal, Olympic Games
So simple, so basic, so classic. Who wouldn't want a gold medal hanging around their neck?
2. The Green Jacket, The Masters (PGA Golf)
Yes, it symbolizes honorary membership in Augusta National, which is why I hope some day, some how, Hootie has to put it on Michelle Wie. Nevertheless, it's history personified--and everything golf about golf.
1. Lord Stanley's Cup, National Hockey League
The Vince Lombardi trophy is fine and all; the NBA championship trophy is okay, too. The championship trophy for Major League Baseball is just plain ugly, but it's all about the pennant you get to fly the next year. (Or so I understand. I'm a Cubs fan. What is this "championship" you speak of?)
But there's no trophy in all of sports as alluring as the Cup. Every name of every player ever to win it is inscribed there. Every player who wins it gets to take it home for a day. It's every hockey fan's greatest dream. The NHL may not be the greatest league in pro sports, but its trophy can't be touched.
Mmm, that's what his mother said...
Jon Stewart isn't funny. Never mind the adoring fans, the multi-million dollar contract, the crowd roaring with laughter. Lee Segel thinks he isn't funny because...
...well, it's not so much a reason, per se, as a series of disconnected mumblings. He uses bits from Carson! One of his jokes wasn't funny once! He actually seems to care about the world and hope it's okay! He isn't always trying to be funny!
Of course, what does Lee know from funny? Calling Robert Novak a "douchebag for liberty" was one of the most inspired things I'd ever heard.
Friday, April 09, 2004
My Own Alternative History
WASHINGTON, APRIL 9, 2004: A hush fell over the city as Albert Gore, Jr. today became the first President of the United States ever to be removed from office by impeachment. Meeting late into the night, the Senate unanimously voted to convict Gore following a trial on a bill of impeachment from the House.
Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president, Joseph Lieberman said that the disgraced Secretary of Counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, would be asked to resign immediately.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, killing thousands in simultaneous attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the United States Congress. Though passengers managed to down a plane believed to be heading for Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, the deaths of 194 Congressmen and 22 Senators caused massive chaos for the Federal government.
President Gore declared war on Afghanistan two days after the attacks, and was immediately excoriated by Republicans. "It is crazy that our nation would choose to attack a backward nation when it is clear that Iraq is behind these attacks," said Senator George W. Bush (R-TX), who had appointed himself to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. "While our nation chases a ragtag group of thugs, we ignore the real enemy."
Gore protested that evidence pointed to the terror group al Qaeda, but he was forced to back off plans to invade Afghanistan by the outcry from the Republican party. Gore steadfastly refused to invade Iraq, however, stating that he saw no evidence that Iraq was involved.
In January of 2003, a small thermonuclear device was detonated in Minneapolis, killing eight thousand and making much of the city uninhabitable. The House of Representatives immediately began impeachement proceedings against the President, citing his failure to invade Iraq as the reason.
The President argued again that evidence pointed to the shadowy terrorist Usama bin Ladeen, but Rep. Glenn Reynolds (R-TN) argued that such an assumption was "ludicrous," and stated simply that "Gore is another Chamberlain--willing to stand by while Saddam Hussein destroys our nation."
When a third strike against the US occurred in September, this time in New Orleans, Gore's fate was sealed. Though he stated in a raw speech on Monday that "I will not send American troops to oust a thug who has nothing to do with these terror attacks," most Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks.
Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Democratic nomination, Georgia Senator Zell Miller said, "Al Gore was a coward. He refused to invade Iraq, and that's why we're in this mess. We need to go in and get rid of that thug once and for all. Then, and only then, will the attacks stop." Miller gave his speech from the deck of the USS Cole.
Hey, if Easterbrook can come up with a crazy, implausable alternate reality, I can too.
What I'm Not Mad About
Gregg Easterbrook envisions the impeachment of President Bush for reacting to the terrorists on 8/7/01, before any attack happened.
Leave aside how facile this is (invading Afghanistan in August of 2001, even if we had lead-pipe-cinch evidence, would've been overkill; doing what we had to do to stop Mohammed Atta and the Gang would not have been. And God knows, there were military options short of a full-scale invasion that would have worked.) Nobody is saying that Bush should've invaded Afghanistan in January of 2001.
Indeed, I'm not even saying that Bush bears any responsibility for 9/11.
Oh, it looks like the Bush administration made any number of mistakes, but hindsight is 20/20. The Bush administration failed, but so did the Clinton, Bush pere, and Reagan administrations.
When Congress created the 9/11 commission, I never thought of it as a means to hurt Bush. I thought of it as a way to figure out how and why we failed to prevent the attacks--and how we can successfully stop them in the future. By determining what went wrong, we can hopefully fix it.
But the Bush administration most assuredly saw the 9/11 commission as an enemy, and they have fought it tooth and nail since its inception. From the Will Condi Testify? flip-flop, to the bizarre Stuck on You II: George & Dick on the Town plan for testimony, to the parsimonious way in which the administration has doled out bits of information, it's evident that the Bush administration fears this commission.
That's sad. Because I mean this: I don't blame George W. Bush for 9/11. Nor Condi Rice, nor Rummy, nor Dick Cheney. They all made mistakes, and that's evident. But I don't care about recrimination. I just want us to stop this the next time.
What I do take exception to is the way the Bush administration has shown, again and again, that it is more interested in political success than letting the commission do its job. I don't blame Bush for 9/11. But I will certainly blame him if by his actions, we fail to learn our lesson.
Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. I am not a crack-pot.
Nothing reminds me more of Condi's testimony yesterday than the words of the immortal Abraham Simpson:
We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell them stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe. So, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. 'Give me five bees for a quarter', you'd say. Now, where were we? Oh, yeah...the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war; the only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.
Abe also said, "I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missoura." God bless him.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Who's for Roy Moore? These guys. And me. A Roy Moore candidacy would be good for America.
Check out the site. Sign the petition. Support Roy Moore's candidacy.
Vote for him? Well, if you're a Republican, you should.
Run, Roy, Run!
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Lies, Damn Lies, and McClellan
He just doesn't have Ari's ability to make falsehoods look like the truth. And that tends to dent his credibility somewhat.
Nice Work, Pierre
So the United States is now begging France to help us in Iraq.
I'd gloat, except that would be counterproductive.
Instead, I'm going to say this:
About freakin' time already!
Look, we need help in Iraq. It's pretty much blindingly obvious to anyone whose name doesn't rhyme with Saul Lolfovitz, Rick Haney, Hondo Leeza Tice, Ronald Mumsfeld, or Rorge Mubya Tush. Asking the French to help is what we should have done a year ago. So while it's a bit late, better late than never. I hope we can convince them to help; certainly, Old Europe has little incentive to haul our collective butt out of the fire.
I'm waiting for the Good Professor to stop shouting "Iraq is too going good! La la la la la la la la la...." long enough to tell us how this was Bush's plan all along--let things in Iraq get so bad that the French had no choice but to help us. Sadly, I rather suspect we're going to see something along those lines.
It may be a while, though. As noted elsewhere, Glenn is too busy praising anti-Semites.
Chicken Salad On Wheat Bread, Untoasted, and Tea!
Dick "Mmmm....Toes...." Morris, April 6, 2004:
The latest daily tracking polls by Scott Rasmussen show that President Bush has moved up six points in the past week to take a three-point lead over Sen. John Kerry. The Bush surge is catalyzed by his negative ads, which castigate the Democrat's record on taxes and terrorism, and by the Kerry camp's abysmal failure to answer the charges effectively in paid advertising.
Rasmussen Tracking Poll, April 6, 2004:
And as already noted, today:
My God, at least a stopped clock is right twice a day. Dick, you need to go chat with George Costanza. Every instinct you have is the exact opposite of reality.
Given that Morris is predicting a Bush blowout, I'm already planning on getting my Kerry/McCain '08 buttons together.
Anyway, as I was saying....
I'll be actually making an effort to write and stuff, even every day, because I've discovered a new, crazy thing:
Imagine if there were a Web site where, at a glance, you could find out what was going on right that minute in the world of politics -- anytime.
Oh my God, what would that look like?
Look, I like The Note as much as the next obsessive political junkie, but come on, folks: the concept of a site giving rapidly updated news and commentary wasn't born with you. And as Wonkette snarks, "The Note is now officially the Dave Eggers of political newsletters: Long-winded, cutesy, self-refential, and mysteriously immune from criticism. Oh, and no one actually finishes reading their stuff."
That's not to say I'll never read it, but come on guys. Take down the self-congratulation a notch. You've got a long time before you'll catch the behatted wonder.
Longtime BotML sparring partner Mitch Berg is...missing. And this is all I know:
The domain mitchberg.com is currently on REDEMPTION HOLD status.
UPDATE: He's still around. Good. It'll give me something to complain about ;)
Latest Rasmussen General Tracking (April 3-5):
Kerry 48% (+1)
Bush 42% (-2)
Kerry is also winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio...and Florida.
The 6-point spread is the largest in the Rasmussen survey--the survey has tended to underreport Kerry's strength relative to other polls. That's why this spread is so remarkable--and should be scaring the bejesus out of Karl et. al. Of course, one would be tempted to suggest the onset of civil war in Iraq may have something to do with this. One would be right.
It Ain't Pretty, But Eh....
I've restored the site to functionality. Now, maybe I'll even post something.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Back, Fo' Shizzle
Okay, I'm going to have to start posting again in short order, 'cause the world keeps turning.
So tonight, I'll be posting a few thoughts on the increasing disorder in Iraq, stupid things that Kos wrote, and the start of the baseball season.
And stuff like that.