It's going to be the flip-flopping hypocrisy that's going to kill Kerry. John Ellis has all the links.
Perhaps the greatest reason why Repubs should
emphasizae the lefty liberal angle
. A Kerry spokesman: "It's a tired and lazy strategy.'' ... They're coopting the anti-Kerry criticism of the GOP's criticism of Kerry's lefty liberal credentials! ... Maybe a one-two punch? Lefty liberal punch -- bang! -- and then the flip-flop punch -- pow! Only problem: President Bush's lefty-liberal spending and deficit policies.
... Regarding all my long-winded posts below on Kerry being a scrapper, a GOP operative in the same link says of Kerry: "He is much better on the attack than when he is sitting on a lead.” That
part I stick by.
... and now Ted Kennedy is getting into the tired-and-lazy act.
-- Reader No. 1 sends in this link to Mickey
, who's refereering the local Jon Keller v. Dan Kennedy
debate over at TNR. ... Dan has a distinct handicap going into the debate: He's taking Kerry's side. Sort of. Hey, you
try to defend Kerry. Wherever you start is quicksand.
-- A reader asks: If Kerry wins it all, does Mitt get to select his replacement? ... Anyone got the answer?
‘Are you joking?’:
One of the few times when Reader No. 1 and I are off on two completely different tangents, this rare one over my Kerry post below on the GOP underestimating Kerry etc. My observations follow. Here’s Reader No. 1:
“Kerry will ‘chew Bush up’ in a debate? OK, if the criteria is who sounds better educated, I agree with you. By those metrics, Gore walloped Bush in 2000. But he didn't win the debates... even people who voted for Gore will agree with that.
“More likely than a chewing-up is the prospect in the debates between two Bonesmen, Kerry's pomposity will stand in even sharper relief to the Bush downhome act. How many pompous people have gotten elected President? I can think of quite a few pompous-sounding ones who lost (Gore to name 1...
Dukakis to name 2...)
“I agree that the ‘left-liberal’ theme doesn't play in Blue America. But it never played in Blue America. For many years this was because Blue America was
‘left-liberal.’ As Blue America hits the middle of middle-age, it is increasingly embarrassed, no, discomfited
by ‘left-liberal’ because it knows the economics are 100% bunk and so are a lot of the politics... but it loves the cultural/lifestyle aspects... and knows that ‘conservative’ economic policies (which 100 years ago were called ‘liberal’) make ‘left-liberal’ lifestyle and culture possible, further schism.
“Incidentally, a lot of good folk in ‘Red America’ figured this out in their college days but did not then, and do not now, angst over it.
“An Illinois journalist sent me an article many years ago which described the many ways in which Left and Right had been flip-flopped. Dust it off and update it.”
Hub Blog’s response
: In a blog post, you try to keep it short, risking misinterpretations, hoping the snappy lines are understood etc. I didn’t succeed in Reader No. 1’s case, obviously. This was my unstated point: Kerry is the king of style over substance. He’s quite capable of pomposity. He’ll try to come across as an ‘intellectual.’ I know that. But he’s also capable of ferocious in-your-face, jabbing-finger, shameless-out-shout, Ray-Flynn-type debates. (Only a Bostonian would understand the Raybo reference, i.e., the post-Kevin White 1983 mayoral election
involving talk-show blabber David Finnegan.) ... I.e., My ‘chew up’ comment about Kerry wasn’t a case of thinking he has more substance, more smarts etc. It was to convey Kerry’s unabashed, shameless, insincere, do-whatever-it-takes-to-win, style-over-substance tactics that he excels at. And Republicans better not underestimate it. ...
: As for the whole ‘Blue-Red’ stuff, I suppose, when dealing with an ideologue who apparently takes pride in not changing his views since college, you’re either one or the other. The Illinois journalist reference is, I believe, to moi, at a time when I realized the Right was becoming/had become as dogmatic as the Left.
Update - 2.1.04
-- Lexington reader: "Do we remember Raybo? 'You called me a reptile.' (Or was it lizard?)"
‘An especially ripe target ...’?:
Now the CSM has a story on the GOP licking its chops
over taking on John Kerry. But Arnold Steinberg, a GOP groupie, warns that the lefty-liberal tag may be true but might not work. A better strategy, he says, is simply depicting JFK as a candidate of ‘contradictions and flip flops.’ Andrew Sullivan
agrees with Steinberg’s assessment, saying the lefty-liberal branding is lame and tired. I think so too. It’s the unrelenting pandering that drives me nuts. ... General impression: Republicans are seriously underestimating Kerry. He’s a ferocious debater and, as we saw over the past two weeks, he’s best when he’s cornered. Don’t think he can beat Bush, but I will make this prediction: If he debates Bush, he’ll chew him up. ...
‘One more thought on the Celtics transition’:
OK, last rant on the Celts. But, really, read this quick note from Reader No. 1 and then his excellent link to Philip Maymin’s take
on the O’Brien-Ainge showdown. Reader No. 1: “Why haven't there been more questions about the dispatching of Assistant Coach Dick Harter? He was Larry Bird's defensive guru at Indiana and that worked out alright. If Celtic management was really startled by O'Brien's sudden departure, they didn't waste much time letting go of Harter. (The Maymin piece) is one explanation -- has someone in Boston already addressed it?”
: The Maymin piece is impressive. I’m not a fine-point student of the game, so I can’t say if he’s truly right or not. But I did note the ‘nagging thought'
of whether O’Brien had a long-term plan for the Celts offense. Maymin said he didn’t -- and couldn’t -- as long as he employed the sophisticated defenses he loved. ... Makes me feel a little better about Ainge. Just a little. I still think he could have better molded the old team, not flattened it. Harter was with Bird in Indiana, which had a decent offense and was a contender for the title, after all. ... My opinion on the new ownership remains low. Very low. Very Gastonish. ...
likes the current team. Hmmmm. This might sound screwy, but he reminds me of John Havlicek, post-Russell and pre-Cowens -- a star in a bad situation, a star who deserves better, a star who can play both guard and forward, a star patiently awaiting change. His assessment of the 2002/2003 Celts is quite candid.
‘Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Marvin Barnes, Billy Knight ...’:
Depressed yet? Reader No. 1 doesn't think it's that bad in Celts Land, but here he goes:
“A few good things happened in John Carroll's debut last night: 1.) The team got over 100 points (I witnessed the same two teams at the Fleet earlier this month and the Celts didn't break 70). 2.) Brandon Hunter got playing time. I Love Walter, but Hunter should be first power forward off the bench from here on out. This kid can get the boards. 3.) Chris Mihm and Jiri Welsch made Trader Danny look not so crazy.
“A few bad things: 1.) The Pistons also got over 100 and scored more than the Celts. The new defense was not as effective as the aggressive O'Brien rotational system (but I'm not panicking after one game!) 2.) Paul Pierce still looks exhausted and frustrated out there. Probably because... 3.) Mike James is a hard-working guy but NOT a point guard and, as I've said so often, I don't think Marcus Banks will turn out to be one either.
“It's tempting to say these are the late 70s Celts but I don't think we've hit THAT level of rock bottom yet. Bringing in Vin Baker and Ricky Davis still does not compare to this calamitous string of acquisitions: Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Marvin Barnes, Billy Knight, Bob McAdoo...
“I think 'unbelievable meltdown' is going a bit overboard. Severe erosion has been going on for nearly two years since the really bad decisions made in the summer of 2002 (which O'Brien alludes to, although he left out Mark Strickland who was as big a loss as Rodney Rogers). O'Brien has been bailing water ever since. The coach made the team look a lot better than it was.
“The big question: what is
Danny Ainge's vision? What other kind of players might he bring in to build up the team?
“Prediction #1: The ownership starts talking up former Celtics for the coaching job, eg Dave Cowens. Hey, Don Chaney is available! Prediction #2: An actual point guard appears in Celtic uniform before the end of year. Not necessarily a good one, but someone with an assist/turnover ratio of 3 to 1. The real measure of how much the Celts have fallen here: how much less fans are talking about the coaching transition than the non-stories coming out of Super Bowl.”
FYI -- I, too, have the awful hunch that the Thanks Dad II crowd will float the idea of hiring an ex-Celt. Hope the fans hoot it down. Winning created the Mystique. The Mystique didn't create the winning.
‘I don't like politicians who change their messages’: He really said it.
.... Now read this.
Dean says one thing.
Steve Grossman says another. It's the old Vermont Ping-Pong strategy. ... Deano: “It's going to be a long, long war of attrition.” Steve: “We've got to put a ‘W,’ at least one win, up on the board sometime between now and Feb. 7.” ... Deano: “We're going to try everywhere.” Steve: “Nobody's got the money or time to compete everywhere effectively.” ...
‘I have this sinking feeling’:
Lexington Reader thinks the Celts aren’t heading back to the M.L./Pitino years. Nah. Just the late ‘70s. Lexington Reader:
“I have this sinking feeling that we're about to watch the newest version of the 1977-78 Celtics as they implode in front of us. Ricky Davis playing for a lame duck stand-in coach? Sounds like the class troublemaker in the back of the classroom looking over the substitute teacher...all hell is about to break loose and everyone knows it -- including the sub -- but there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Ricky left, Ricky right, Ricky from the three point line. Ricky play defense? Hah! We're headed back to the 25 win category. How many days until pitchers and catchers report?”
: Admire John Carroll
putting two 7-footers in the starting lineup last night. Interesting strategy. Now that’s
one thing O’Brien wouldn’t do. But they still lost. Ainge Era Record: 0-1.
-- Jim O'Brien is a class act
, defending Ainge's right to a vision, standing up for Ricky Davis, making clear he just couldn't get on the same page. No Grady 'Ghosts' Little departure for Jim. ... He sounds more frustrated with the late-Thanks Dad I Era moves than the recent Thanks Dad II Era moves. ... Love the guy, but I do wonder: Did he have a long-term plan for an offense? Couldn't escape that nagging thought while reading the article. ... Here's more O'Brien.
... Couldn't they have rectified the two visions? I mean, isn't a great team about both great offense and defense? I still think they could have taken the 2002 (gutted a bit by the Gaston boys) and 2003 (gutted by Danny) cores and added the big man and strong point guard everyone knew they needed. The team would be dominating the East Conference by now. ... Still shell-shocked. Unbelievable meltdown.
‘A matter of time before it's over’?:
What’s so impressive about Kerry’s NH victory
-- besides being written off here and elsewhere only a few weeks ago -- was that he beat the dreaded, gawd-awful ‘expectation’ projections of the last 48 hours. He not only beat expectations. He trounced them. ... Read the comments of Dean supporters
and you sense the end is near. Perhaps the end is near for all the other Dem candidates. Edwards remains the most dangerous in my book, but it's now shaping up as a Bush v. Kerry showdown next fall. And I don't like either one of them. ... Now to make your day even more depressing: The Celts are melting down. See below.
-- John Ellis’ brutal analysis
: “(Kerry) has to shoot the wounded everywhere they twitch.”
‘That was Ainge plunging a dagger in O'Brien's heart’:
The Celts franchise is in utter shambles.
It’s not just Danny. It’s also the new Thanks Dad II owner(s). And we all know it. Or should have known it when they yapped of ‘bleeding green’ when hiring Danno and then cynically retiring a player’s number for purely marketing/sentimental reasons. ... Only three players remain from last year? Can anyone say how this current team has a better core for rebuilding than last year’s non-rebuilding team? And now without one of the best coaches in the NBA? It’s like we’re back at the start of the Pitino years. Or worse: the M.L. Carr years. That’s how bad it feels. ... Here’s another more optimistic view of things.
I don’t buy it, but throw it out for argument’s sake.
-- This nails it.
Everything's here: The bad trades, the arrogance, the lack of vision. Yep, we're back to the late M.L/early Pitino years. Unbelievable.
Going to miss old New Hampshire:
Predictions: Kerry, Deano, Edwards. All bunched together. Perhaps not in that order. One of them doing better than expected. Lieberman or Clark could surprise. Then again and on the other hand ... Who the hell knows?
... A brokered convention in Boston?
C’mon. Of course it will be. The Trav will get 13 summer DNC jobs, Matt Amorello will get ...
Did you see how Massachusetts placed only 26th
in a ranking of the most corrupt states in the nation? It’s an insult. Then it hit me: They’re basing the rankings on corruption convictions in federal court. Like: FBI
. ... That pretty much explains things, right? ... Don’t tell the Corporate Crime Reporters. It’ll boggle their minds. ...
-- Brian's fired the voters
on behalf of the old media.
Nantucket Page 1 Watch:
News alert: Cold weather is tough on those living on islands.
... Congdon's Pharmacy is out of sliced turkey? Oh my God!!! ... The big question is why.
‘A place of perfect memories’:
You’ll never believe who wrote a great column this morning
. ... I thought for sure he was going to pen an ode to a patch of land on the Common where an anti-war rally was once held. But, no, it’s about Maison Robert. Don’t know a lot about Boston’s culinary history, but there seems to be little doubt Maison Robert played a pivotal role in pushing Boston out of its Dark Durgen Park Era.
‘The U.S. government must admit ...’: Kenneth Pollack’s
long piece about WMD is finally online at Boston-based Atlantic Monthly. (It’s the article with the now somewhat well-known ending: “When the United States confronts future challenges, the exaggerated estimates of Iraq's WMD will loom like an ugly shadow over the diplomatic discussions. Fairly or not, no foreigner trusts U.S. intelligence to get it right anymore, or trusts the Bush Administration to tell the truth.”) ... FYI: The article is not the hatchet job the headline suggests.
-- One thing you take away from Pollack's article is how confusing intelligence data can be. Take a gander at this 'Voice of Osama bin Landen'
article in MIT's Technology Review. The author thinks Osama is dead, despite recent audio recordings. His theory: Osama died at Tora Bora (or soon after) and one of his sons might be making the recordings. But who knows? ... Now back to Kerry bashing. I mean, Kerry analysis
-- 1.27.04 - ‘White House Is Less Certain Now About Iraq’s Arms.’
... Considering what we know, and considering what we know they know we know, this is a strange unfolding of a very difficult spin.
Kerry says he isn’t writing off anything, but it sure looks like he covets Missouri
and, if gumshoe McDonald's surveys are any indication, he could do well there
-- Check out this old Doonesbury
strip circa early '70s (via Instapundit
). They had him pegged even then.
‘Rivals mine Kerry Senate years ...’:
The NYT is also looking at the Kerry-voting-record issue
, a day after the Herald’s own ‘Left jab’ piece
. But the NYT shows how Kerry, for now, seems to be caught in a vice: Republicans hammer at the liberal-record theme, while Democratic opponents hammer at the inconsistent/character-record theme. Hmmm. Has anyone asked: What if they’re both right? ...
Interesting piece on the changing demographics of New Hampshire.
Luckily, the NYT reporter didn’t stumble upon Boston’s secret world-conquest
plan -- all in preparation for the climatic spring showdown with the Evil Empire. ... If asked about it, just say, ‘Oh, Massachusetts residents are moving to New Hampshire because of lower taxes and the housing crisis.’ Do NOT mention the word ‘colonize.’ ...
-- John Ellis
has tons on Kerry in New Hampshire. Aside: Reader No. 1 below ('Enjoy beating up Mad How') asks about the 'Warshington Insiders' taking glee in Dean's woes. John has been all over this issue -- and reports Deano may be doing better than expected in NH.
-- John also mentions how many Mass. lawmakers are heading to NH to help Kerry, even though many of them probably despise the guy. Logical question: How many hack-favor lists have they presented to Kerry so far? ... But this story
also shows that 13 Mass. reps are in NH stumping for Dean. Thirteen.
It doesn't disprove John's point. It merely buttresses it: They're not backing their own homestate candidate.
‘Kerry perceives the complexity of the world ... but’:
Reader No. 1 makes a grand return, with observations on both Kerry and Dean. I’ve split his comments into two posts. Here’s Kerry, with Deano following:
“Thank goodness David Brooks is at the NY Times, even if he has to keep his act somewhat in line. I suggest this magnificent excerpt from a Vietnam-era Kerry letter (appearing in Douglas Brinkley's Atlantic bio
) gets to the heart of the matter:
‘I have not lost faith -- on the contrary -- I have gained a conviction and desire greater than ever before -- and now, a sense of inevitability -- a weighty fatalism that takes worry out of the small actions of late and makes the personal much more important.'
“Kerry perceives the complexity of the world (‘weighty fatalism,’ is there a better description for his characteristic hangdog look that went away the last 2 weeks?) -- but it is hard for him to make choices (‘the small actions of late...’) -- except choices that are in his self-interest (‘the personal much more important’) -- which explains why he has been so good at winning elections the last 20 years.
“BUT... it is a lot easier to operate like this in the US Senate. Presidents don't have the opportunity to work on ‘small actions of late.’ (More below on what that means for the election.)”
‘Enjoy beating up on Mad How’:
Now Reader No. 1 on Deano:
“Are Howard Dean's personality traits exactly news to New Hampshire primary voters? I haven't read every blogger, but hasn't someone noticed how much the ‘Warshington Insiders’ are enjoying beating up on Mad How? Howard Fineman was positively giddy on the Imus program Tuesday morning about Kerry & Edwards rising to the top. Diane Sawyer's theatrically arched eyebrows during the Dean family interview Thursday said one damning word: ‘rookies.’ Note how Fineman in this Newsweek column
framed Dean and the Dems in an ‘Internet start-up’ / ‘old media’ way. Fineman has become the king of old Political media! Are bloggers next?
“I'm no Dean supporter and I fully acknowledge public ambivalence about our President, but if I'm Bush, give me a race against Warshington Insiders instead of a Governor any day of the week, especially with national security at risk. This excellent American Enterprise article
indicates historical odds are much in his favor. It has something to do with the difference between ‘speechifying and leadership.’ ”
Here comes the GOP, all set to label John Kerry a flaming liberal lefty.
I personally have trouble believing it, even though the liberal Americans for Democratic Action’s scorecard does show Kerry with a higher lib rating than even Ted Kennedy. Why can’t I believe the stark facts of roll-call votes? Because of astute columns like this from David Brooks
, fresh off his not-so-astute column labeling critics of neoconservatives as anti-Semitic. Kerry has shown signs of breaking out of the liberal ideological mold, making some daring speeches and even votes that ‘unleashes his inner Moynihan,’ Brooks writes. The problem? "The problem is that he almost never follows up," says Brooks. ...
My latest theory is that Mickey Kaus and other moderate liberals and moderate conservatives despise Kerry precisely because he flirts with these moderate ideas, then retreats. Or worse: Believes in these moderate ideas, then flirts with the far-left. Hell holds no fury like ...
Republicans better watch out
-- Kerry will ferociously fight back on the ‘far-left’ charge, pulling out every Vietnam medal and photo he has in his bag, bringing up the ‘patriotism’ issue even before Repubs bring up the ‘patriotism’ issue, scoring direct hits on the vulnerable George ‘Top Gun’ Bush, assuming he ever gets the one-on-one match-up he so dearly wants. This guy has lived and dreamed his entire adult life about becoming president, a scary but still formidable fact. Kerry still has to get by Edwards/Clark/Dean et gang, but he's ready for the GOP on the wimp front. ... But the comparisons between John Kerry and John McCain on the character front? Simply and undeniably devastating. Brooks hit a home run on this one.
The Mother of All Surges: It’s a surge!
... Both the Globe
and the Herald
are endorsing Comeback Kerry. The phrase ‘cats and dogs sleeping together’ immediately jumps to mind. The Globe sneezes then purrs. The Herald scratches at some Kerry fleas before saying he’s the best Democrat for the party’s nomination. ... Hub Blog isn’t wobbling: No endorsement for Kerry! ...
Cosmo is already anticipating Kerry’s big health care speech.
... Dan Kennedy
tries to explain to out-of-towners the different strains of local anti-Kerryism. ... Andrew Sullivan
is admirably shoving back at the Bush diehards for, well, daring to criticize Bush. It ain’t easy being a moderate these days. Can’t we all get along? Can’t we unite on something like, say, French bashing
Update - 8:40 p.m. -- Mickey
gives a nod to Joan Vennochi
for his resurrected Kerry Mystery Contest, not to be confused with his abandoned (temporarily at least) Kerry Withdrawal Contest.
‘At this point I am voting for Edwards’:
Brighton Reader, a true-blue Dem, weighs in on the Iowa caucus results:
“Howard Dean's record as governor of the Ben & Jerry state attracts me, his demeanor puts me off. His speech the other night was a big turn-off. What is he, the Eminen of generation X, Y, whatever? ...
“Kerry has become my least favorite of the major contenders. Such an awful campaign, criticizing the other pro-war candidates on Iraq was just the latest example of what I do not like about him. I was disappointed to see his chances revived and Gephardt do so poorly. Gephardt just struck me as having real heart.
“At this point I am voting for Edwards. I think he can win and has stayed optimistic and positive throughout the ups and downs of his campaign. Not a whiner, unlike the lord of Louisburg Square.”
Update -- The Manchester Union-Leader
is trying to find/reassert its past king-maker glory. Don’t think it will work this time, though Lieberman happens to be my favorite lovable-loser candidate. ... Adam Gaffin
has tons of Iowa reacts from local bloggers.
A terrible omen for the Pats: Tom Brady
was at the president’s State of the Union address last night? It strikes me as dangerously establishment. The type of thing to pump up underdog Panthers. ... Another bad omen: The Sox may have restarted Round 3
of the A-Rod talks during the pre-Superbowl lull/manufactured hype. Just the talk of talk is annoying. ...
Update -- Off On a Tangent
asks: “Does Laura Bush Want Tom Brady to Date Her Daughters?” ... You know, he might be right on that one. Very suspicious. Very motherly. ... He’s also right about how Brady might better spend his time, like, preparing for the Superbowl
Traveling from Boston to New York: JJ Daley
has a post about the best way to travel to New York. His preference: Drive to New Haven, take the Metro North commuter rail into the city. Hub Blog agrees 100 percent. There are four advantages to this: 1.) You can leave when you want. 2.) The parking is secure and super-cheap at the off-highway New Haven station. 3.) The equally cheapo commuter line leaves every half hour and takes you right into Manhattan 4.) Pepi’s pizza is in New Haven.
‘It will be a wild ride for everyone’: PoliticaObscura
nails it with a quickie winners-and-losers analysis of last night’s stunning Iowa caucus victory by John Kerry. ... John Ellis
has lots of good observations, too, both before and after the caucus. His big winner: Edwards. ... Mickey isn’t terribly impressed.
... Here’s the Herald
stories, with a N.H. analysis
thrown in. ... Imagine: It was only 10 days ago
that Kerry bet it all on Iowa, throwing cynics like yours truly off guard. It was his only hope. And he played it. And he won. Very impressive. But don’t forget: Kerry ran a truly putrid campaign up until earlier this month. The prospect of losing really did seem to loosen him up. So the question is: Which was the real Kerry? Pre-Iowa bet? Or post-Iowa bet? The question never goes away! ...
Howard Dean: The Eugene McCarthy of 2004? He can still pull it off in New Hampshire, but it looks rough for him (and
Kerry) heading south afterward. ... I kind of like Howard, hyperventilating and all. Didn’t Harry Truman hyperventilate after learning of FDR’s death? Not that Dean is Harry Truman.
has more on the big shocker -- and how Joe Sciacca called it before the caucus.
A sophisticated analysis of our Homeland Defense:
A potpourri of posts today post-Pats game and post-New York weekend visit. ... As for the Pats, Kevin Mannix
analyzes the Pats’ Homeland Defense yesterday. Buried in Michael Holley’s column
is an excellent description of what Denver and KC didn’t do to stop Manning -- and what the Pats did do, i.e. blitz and jam the receivers at the same time. ... Cosmo
is showing no mercy toward the Colts. But are they really whining -- or just babbling incoherently? ... Tom Boswell
on poor Philly fans: ‘Their lust for judgment, their blighted anticipation of misfortune and their ominous silence hung over this game.’ One complaint about the article: Was Boswell simply clueless when comparing Philly fans to Boston fans on the very day the Pats won their second trip to the Superbowl in three years? Has he ever been to Foxboro/Gillette stadium and heard the non-ominous silence hanging over games? Maybe he was tired and had a cliché to stretch about Sox fans. ...
Speaking of the Sox: My trip to NYC, as usual, was awesome. The oysters at PJ Clark’s, washed down with Bass Ale, simply can’t be beat. The best part was the detailed debriefing given by Hub Blog’s Manhattan-based WMD spy, who reports Yank fans are very nervous about the Sox’ off-season moves. ...
... ‘There’s no soft peddling this team’s problems.’
That says it all about the Celts. I still don’t understand the Danny Ainge trades that brought us to this. The Celts were fun
the past two years. Now what? Where’s Danny Boy taking this team?
‘With nary a thought of power or glory ...’: Christopher Lydon
has a talk with Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. ... Sir Tim on the worldwide popularity of the web: “It tells me something about humanity. The hope for humanity is that people do want to work things out. They do want to come to common understandings, and they will do it by constantly refining the way they've expressed their own ideas -- and occasionally, on a good day, listening to the way other people have expressed theirs.”
Those lying sacks of French Michael-Powell expletives ... : French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie
: “Where in that is there a rivalry with the Alliance or the United States? I sincerely don't see one.” ...
Old salesman adage: Whenever you hear someone say ‘frankly’ or ‘sincerely’ or ‘I’m going to be honest with you’ during negotiations, assume you’ve just been lied to -- or about to be lied to.
‘Romney renews push to eliminate Turnpike Authority’
: Eliminate it
. There’s no need for it. We all know it. ...
On the other hand, while eliminating it, don’t discard some of the somewhat bold ideas that managed to seep up to the top of the brain-dead hack haven. Why is a monorail running down the middle of the Mass Pike a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ idea? I happen to like it. I also think we should create a pie-in-the-sky monorail/commuter line that mimics Route 128. I also think we should create a pie-in-the-sky monorail connecting the North Station and South Station. ... I can’t figure out the administration’s attitude toward rail transit in general. They barely approved the Greenbush line. They’re in the process of killing off the New Bedford/Fall River lines, etc. etc.
‘Now look at them, whoring after the lad mag crowd’:
Hub Blog has discovered a fellow Time magazine-despising soul: The Chimes At Midnight
. John: “I think there must be a secret Olympics sponsored by Time-Life-Fortune to find the worst and most patronizing writers in the nation. Once they have selected the absolute worst of the worst, Time clearly works the poor bastards to death turning their smart-aleck, cliche' ridden mentalities loose on God, Man, or Sex.” ... I had my own feeble Time rant
last month. I tend to place most blame on the trend-desk editors/consultants who long ago shoved aside the hard-news grunts at Time and elsewhere. ...
: I caught up with Chimes At Midnight via Coz,
who caught up with Chimes’ dissing of Brian McGrory’s new book. I haven’t read Brian’s books, but I admire him for just writing them. I, alas, have only one co-authored book
to my name, based on a compilation of those 1,000-word articles/columns Chimes talks about. But I’ll take it. Hub Blog: Book author!
... It’s going for $39.75?!?
Snowball fights and Comeback Kerry?: I’ll believe it when I see it
-- assuming the Iowa results are deciphered somewhat promptly and accurately. ... Three obvious ways to look at this: A.) This is a genuine Iowa comeback for Kerry or B.) Merely a last-week surge that will give Kerry a face-saving way to exit the race with his head held slightly high after N.H. or C.) None of the above. ... The recent snowball fights
with staff/reporters/anyone-in-sight seem so typically Kerry contrived, sort of like Billy Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’ recreating, again and again, the Snow Angel/Snowball Fight scene with Andie MacDowell. It worked once -- and only once.
Here's more on the Gephardt/Clark/Kerry surging phenomenon.
is a little astounded/befuddled too by the Kerry surge, not to be confused with the Gephardt/Clark surges.
Iraq war was a political marketing 'product'?:
Poor Ted Kennedy. He's now saying the war in Iraq was a 'political product'
marketed for the 2002 and 2004 elections. His latest blast follows last September's ''made up in Texas" diatribe. But here's what he was saying last spring during the war
“Our thoughts and our heartfelt prayers are also with our president. ... We join our president in pledging our commitment to victory, to disarm Saddam and to bring freedom and opportunity to all the people of Iraq.”
Ignore my comments back then about Kennedy's class act, for it sounds like the Kennedy of today has found his own 'political product.' ... FYI: His comments today weren't too off the wall in terms of his description of 'misguided ideology' running rampant through the White House. It's the claim that Bush cynically went to war for political reasons that sets off the cynic alarm bells.
is on Kennedy's case, too, with a far more biting head: 'Kennedy screws Kerry.'
The 'Popsicle Bowl,' Revisited:
Freeze Bowl. Popsicle Bowl. Whatever. Coz was there
and gives an alarming account of what happens to stadium beer at 4 degrees.
‘There are some worrying themes about the way this administration ...’:
I assume the vast majority of those who peek at Hub Blog also read Andrew Sullivan, but you really should check out Andrew this morning.
He just nails the ‘worrying themes’ partially brought up by the weird Paul O’Neill. This isn’t non-nuanced criticism coming from the loony left, folks. ... I fall into the It’s-Really-Not-A-Surprise camp when it comes to O’Neill’s revelation/non-revelation about the administration’s pre-9/11 planning to take out Saddam. What I still shudder about, though, is how there were so many in the administration who adamantly wanted to go after Saddam in the days immediately after 9/11. Fortunately, they didn’t get their way, after much intense debate. But I do think there’s an argument to be made we didn’t finish off Osama, partly because of the pre-9/11 obsession with Saddam. That’s
the story. Hell, we know/knew roughly where Osama (or his henchmen) are hiding out (in the border mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan). ... The Frenchman hawks love to cite, Jean Francois Revel,
is one of those who think we erred by not immediately focusing east after the Afghan campaign, though he ended up supporting what he considered an ill-timed move against Saddam. ... And, yes, Hub Blog remains a Wobbly Warrior held firm by Anything to Save Tony Blair resolve. ...
Also check out Andrew’s Email of the Day.
Remember: The majority of Massachusetts voters now count themselves as Independents. There is a great dissatisfaction out there with the extremes presented by both parties -- and I do think there’s a ‘silent majority’ fed up with old left-right culture wars and arguments, despite the reader’s concerns about a lack of said majority.
A reader wrote in to note that Andrew Sullivan doesn't get into the rationale for waging war against Saddam, just the president's 'glib' response about not finding WMD after the war. Point well taken. The rant about the timing of the war was my
rant, not Andrew's. I thought that was clear, but apparently it wasn't.
‘No more Nazi or Hitler analogies ...’:
Am I the only one who’s not surprised by all the Nazi and Hitler analogies flying around? Guess I’ve just grown accustomed to extremists acting like extremists. Still, Cathy Young
jumps in with one of her lectures. Mark Jurkowitz
looks at MoveOn.org’s
‘Knew they couldn’t beat New England’:
Check out the whining, disparaging remarks about the Pats by the Titans’ Zach Piller
and then skip over to the The Nashville Tennessean site
, look to the right at ‘Today’s Sports Poll’ and click on ‘results.’ Last count, about 51 percent of readers voted for ‘Knew they couldn’t beat New England.’ ...
Looks like someone on the Herald sports copy desk reads Boston Dirt Dogs.
The phrase ‘Eskimo Up!’ appears in the Herald headline
, with quotes around it, even though it’s not mentioned in the story. Obviously an unspoken credit tip to BDD!
OK, here’s my only disappointment about last night's game. The playoff game against Oakland two years ago was dubbed The Snow Bowl. So why wasn’t this playoff game dubbed The Freeze Bowl? It's so catchy-phrase obvious. Next week: Freeze Bowl II?
-- Boston Sports Media
was using 'Freeze Bowl' as early as Saturday, pre-game.
The book was better:
Hub Blog escaped to Copley Plaza for a pre-Freeze Bowl matinee of ‘Mystic River.’
Quickie review: The book was better. If I hadn’t read the complicated Boston-set novel by Dennis Lehane beforehand, I probably would have been confused. Still, Sean Pean deserves every ounce of praise he’s received for his role in the movie. If he doesn’t win Best Actor, a great injustice will be done. If Tim Robbins doesn’t win (or get nominated for) Best Supporting Actor, ditto. The scene in which Robbins talks about the demons inside that never leave is simply amazing. ... Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden fill out one of the best-cast movies in years. ... Hollywood has always had a hard time nailing down Boston accents -- and Mystic River was no exception. But Clint wisely didn’t force it and, in most cases, actors tended to fall back on a more general Northeast working-class accent -- which worked. ...
‘These guys are going to be so keyed up ...’:
The article is talking about the fans
, not the players. ... T-minus 9 hours, 40 minutes until kickoff.
‘If you want to see a slice of the Real Boston ...’:
The Holy Grail of Classic Boston Blogging may have been found, via Adam Gaffin's Boston Common
. What is the Holy Grail of Classic Boston Blogging? The post that best captures the character and nature of Bostonians. Here its is, from Thornography
, who describes the horror show of waiting in a Dunkin’ Donuts line:
“Bostonian, dripping with sarcasm: ‘Oh! Oh, well EXCUSE ME! Excuse me buddy, alright? Excuse me buddy! I didn't know, buddy! I didn't know there was a certain level that I had to talk above! Alright?! Excuse me buddy, I didn't know I had to talk above a certain volume, alright?’”
Introducing ‘shades of purple’ to those Red and Blue maps:
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill sends in this link to a CommonWealth magazine article
on why the political ‘Red and Blue’ analysis of state voting trends can be simplistic and misleading. Savin Hill: “It's fantastic stuff -- explains presidential elections in a genuinely new and interesting way.”
After reading (most of) the article by Robert David Sullivan, I have to agree, though I suppose anyone could slice and dice political maps to reach different conclusions. There's just a tad bit of whistling-past-the-graveyard analysis of the red-and-blue thesis. But I get Sullivan’s main point: “Given that more than 40 percent of voters in the blue states backed Bush and more than 40 percent of voters in the red states backed Gore, doesn't the red vs. blue model seem, well, a bit black-and-white?”
Obviously, I was drawn to voting trends in New England and the Northeast. But I found the analysis of the so-called ‘Southern Lowlands’ the most pertinent in deciding/assessing the outcomes of presidential elections. ... There’s an interesting map and detailed explanations accompanying the article.
‘Tomorrow's deep-freeze duel in Foxboro’:
Hub Blog is psyched for tomorrow’s game.
... Hub Blog’s deep-freeze game plan: Big vat of chile, six-pack of Heinekens, covered by blankie on the couch.
Mad How vs. Gone John: Mickey Kaus
peeks at John Kerry’s not-so-terribly-far-fetched last gasp stand in Iowa. Worth paying attention to. If only so we can say we noted it if Kerry defies all odds and does better than expected. ... Mickey is fascinated with Austin Bay’s tab reference to Dean as ‘Mad How.’ The Herald should have thought of it, too. ... John Ellis
also has a quickie post on the Kerry last-stand Iowa strategy. ... Speaking of John, who’s blogging a lot more these days, he points out a great column by David Ignatius
on the mystery of Asians gobbling up greenbacks. Another Bretton Woods in the making? Interesting. Ignatius manages to take an arcane topic and make it an enjoyable read. Ignatius in general has been in top form lately. Check out some of his recent columns.
. -- “Kerry is ‘bringing it on,’ his staff says”
.... Hmmm. Is there something to this? The article (and headline) does go out of its way to attribute this growing confidence to, well, Kerry’s staff. And this graf is just weird: “Three times recently, he has started late-night snowball fights and football tosses with aides. He strums tunes on his guitar at his daughter's request.” ... JFK playing touch football! It shows vigah! ... Still, the prospect of losing does appear to have loosened up the uptight Kerry. A new strategy that finally works!
-- Here's another story
on how Kerry's 'plaintive note' seems to be resonating a bit.
‘Consumers may have difficulty distinguishing ...’:
Oh, for Christ’s sake. Another alleged scientific debunking
of a good-for-ya food product just as Hub Blog hops on the salmon-eating bandwagon. ... What will be de-debunked first? The study comparing farm-raised salmon vs. wild salmon or government claims to ignore the study’s findings? ... I eat salmon only once or twice a month anyway. So screw ‘em both.
'The Era of Distortion,' Part II: Mickey Kaus
is on Brooks' case with his usual devastating bites. Mickey:
"The parallel between conservatives who cry 'anti-Semitism' at legitimate criticism from the left (in part by lumping it together with real anti-Semitism) and liberals who cry 'racism' at legitimate criticism from the right (in part by lumping it together with real racism) is itself almost too obvious to mention. But not quite!"
‘The Era of Distortion’:
David Brooks has, so far, been a mild disappointment as the new official NYT Conservative in Residence. This morning’s column doesn’t help.
In an attempt to debunk distortions about neoconservatives, Brooks promotes an equally loony distortion that there’s no general intellectual coherency and history to neoconservativism and suggests criticism is rooted in anti-Semitism. ... The ‘Planet Chomsky’ types most certainly fall into the conspiracy-minded category Brooks talks about. They don’t understand anything to the right of their far-left views. But to suggest there isn’t/wasn’t a somewhat coherent neoconservative movement is ludicrous and, well, a distortion in itself. ...
Of course, I’ll stand corrected if someone proves to me that my avid reading of Commentary in the 1980s was merely an illusion.
Update - 01.07.04
-- Dan Kennedy
has some more on the Brooks column, coming at it from the left. My criticism is coming at it from the right. What is Brooks going to assert next? That there's really no Christian Right on the right? Or no William Buckley/Michael Novak Catholic conservativism? Brooks all but dismissed the notion of the existence of neoconservativism -- a vitally important and very real intellectual movement that saw many former left-leaning intellectuals (many of them Jewish) switch allegiances in the 1970s in the face of the Soviet threat. They proudly called themselves 'neoconservatives.' The sons of neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol and Normal Podhoretz are now fighting the fight of their fathers. I happen to admire the intellectual contributions of neoconservatives in the 1980s, the true heyday of their movement. I have less admiration for today’s selective Wilsonian neoconservatives. Am I anti-Semitic for saying that?
‘Uncivil discourse blights online debate’:
This story on ‘uncivil’ chat rooms
hosted by/linked to municipal-run web sites seems so dated. The pre-blog terminology is almost painful to read. ... Behold government agencies trying to run and regulate ‘chat’!
To defrock or not to defrock?:
Sounds simple: Priests caught up in the sexual abuse scandal should be defrocked.
But others wonder if the church is merely foisting its problems on society. ... Interesting quandary. They should be defrocked. We all know that. But now the church, after statutory limits have conveniently passed due to repeated church cover ups, wants to toss priests out on the streets and let us deal with predators the church itself nurtured and coddled? No way. We already saw what Paul ‘Thailand’ Shanley did after he ‘retired,’ i.e. he sought earthly paradise at a sex camp in Southeast Asia. Another ended up as a ‘greeter’ at DisneyWorld etc.
... Conclusion: Defrock the bums, but force the church to continue paying for the basic livelihood and monitoring of perverts it helped create. ... Ah, the church’s concern about ‘the children’ is always so merciful.
‘It will change things if implemented ...’:
Actually, the new Afghan Constitution
changes things simply by being adopted. ... This is a big victory because, whether there’s a civil war four-score-and-seven-years hence or sooner, the document will flicker hope for generations of many Afghans. ... Interesting point: It was language, not gender representation, that was the final hurdle. ...
'I . . . I can't explain it': Tim Wakefield:
"I was terrified ... that I would be remembered like [Bill] Buckner.” ... One can sense the cold-sweat trembling in his voice, like he’s still waking up with a jolt each night, his wife caressing his forehead, gently whispering, "It's OK, Tim. It's OK. ..." ... Red Sox Flashback Syndrome. Pure and simple. ...
Tim on researchers desperately trying to find a cure for Red Sox Flashback Syndrome: "Our new ownership has turned the organization around 180 degrees. ... They are by far not only the best ownership group but the best people. Tom Werner is just a super guy. Mr. [John] Henry is a super guy. Larry Lucchino is a great guy. They make you feel like coming to work is fun.”
'I'll go out on a limb and predict 2 upsets':
Reader No. 1 with some New Year questions and short-term NFL predictions:
"When do the A-Rod trade talks start again?
"What is the next Boston institution to be sold to an out-of-towner? Are there any left to be sold?
"Got a feeling the Howard Dean campaign will make Red and Blue America redder and bluer than ever before... also that he will lead to many confirmed cases of Clinton Nostalgia (capital websites will be kausfiles.com
and Talking Points Memo
-- don't get me wrong, I like both of those sites very much). Time heals all wounds. But will Hilary be able to capitalize?
"NFL playoffs: I am very rusty on the pointspreads but:
" -- The NFC are easy picks: The Pack and Carolina. (But I am impressed with how Parcells brought the Cowboys back in December from their mid-year dip).
" -- The injury list will mean a lot in the other games. I'll go out on a limb and predict 2 upsets: Baltimore and Denver. The Ravens are a bit better than most think... "
‘Speaking of ecstasy ...’: Christopher Lydon
perhaps goes overboard by saying the web “might be as big as the development of spoken language.” But, in a Happy New Year post, he does nail it in terms of the lessons he’s learned from average readers and listeners in the context of his own big-media background:
“Lesson #1: the country observes media more astutely than media observe the country. Lesson #2: that the country is hipper, flipper, more constructive, more democratic, more articulate than the one-way media ever deign to acknowledge.” ...
As an added bonus, here’s a ‘Christmas bon-bon’ interview with Gore Vidal
, who Lydon describes as someone who “can't be taken straight, but it's hard as well to shake his scathing contempt.” ... FYI: I gleefully can't shake Gore's scathing description of 'that cheerleader from Andover,' but I'm still trying to figure out which one of the Bill of Rights the cheerleader allegedly swiped from me.
Howard Dean enters Mars' orbit:
I’ve figured it out: John Kerry spends too much time covering up what he said yesterday. Howard Dean spends too much time covering up what he thinks you’re going to be saying tomorrow about yesterday.
‘Pulp Fiction by Women With Protofeminist Roots’:
It’s hard to make a story boring when it's about pulp fiction writers focusing on a serial killer stalking a femme fatale, lesbian love circa 1950s, and a sassy gold digger in the heart of Wall Street. But the NYT manages it.
How? By letting college professors deconstruct their meaning. ... Maybe ‘theory’ isn’t dead. See Monday post.
FYI: A Herald editor recommended I read Mickey Spillane to bone up on my muscular verbs. So I went to a local bookstore and found ‘The Mike Hammer Collection.’ The following is a blurb from Mickey:
“She twisted away and there was a loud whispering of cloth and the gown came away in my hands. She went staggering across the room stark naked except for the high-heel shoes and sheer stockings. She rammed an end table, her hands reaching for the drawer, and she got it open far enough for me to see the gun she was trying to get at.
“I had mine out first.”
‘A response to cancer forged by Vietnam’:
The first line out of John Kerry’s mouth
after being asked how his prostate cancer effected his outlook on life: "The cancer, frankly, was -- it's strange. I think it's a reflection of the experience that I went through in Vietnam ...” ... The guy is becoming a parody of himself.