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Husky Huckster Michael Moore Goes on a Brunch-Time Death-Spree
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Signs of Hip-Hop Influence on John Kerry
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Signs That David Letterman Just Doesn't Care Anymore
Other Judgments Dick Clarke Made About Condi Rice Based on Her Appearance
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John Kerry's Other Vietnam Super-Pets
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The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
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Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
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Family Pride = Racism, if You're a Republican from the South 

Andrew "Sweet Loads" Sullivan decides that it is no longer politically tolerable for a Southern Republican to be proud of his family tree.

Regarding a book on the Frist family by Bill Frist, Sweet Loads opines:

Some readers have said this is for family consumption only. So why is it on Amazon and available to anyone in the country? It just strikes me as politically obtuse and morally troubling when someone from the South trumpets their good breeding as something morally admirable. What's the betting on the Frist family's old views on miscegenation?

Just more evidence of how truly respectful of family and generational ties gay-marriage proponents are.

If Bill Frist had two daddies, we doubt Sweet Loads Sully would be quite so offended by his familial pride.

If You Liked Mumia, You're Gonna Love Cooper 

And if you're the sort of person who likes to start his day with a dose of raw seething anger at stupidity and injustice, then read this article.

Warning: Contains Clinton spinner Lanny Davis attempting to get a quadruple (and attemped quintuple) hatchet-murderer and knifepoint-rapist freed.

We hate to say it, but we enjoyed his earlier, funnier work better.


We ran into this solid giggle over at

What the hell is going on with blog design, by the way? These guys have a slick corporate-looking logo.

We've got a lame-looking playing card gif we stole off of


Canadians Hopping Mad Aboot "Racism," Eh? 

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Replacing Quebec street signs with joke signs reading "Rue de Pussies."

Now this is a use of the First Amendment we can all really get behind.

Update on Sullivan's "Mystery Disillusioned Conservative" 

Yesterday, we noted the high degree of credulity displayed by Andrew Sullivan in printing a letter from someone claiming to be (as usual) a lifelong Republican who, darnit!, has decided that this time they've gone too far.

Sullivan apparently never considered the possibility this wasn't actually a Republican, but a liberal partisan hoping to make trouble on a web-site read by conservatives.

The Moby strategy, that is.

Today, Sullivan gets hip to this possibility. And he notes the self-proclaimed "disillusioned conservative" writer just happens to have an email address of "disillusioned_conservative@[email provider deleted].com."

Which is, you know, sort of... unusual. That would be like us at AoSHQ having an email address of

It's a bit too on-the-nose, is what we're saying.

What to make of this?

Andrew Sullivan is either stupid or blatantly dishonest. It is simply not possible that someone could be this naive. We do not buy that it simply never occurred to him this could be a plant. He just wanted to print the letter, because he agreed with its contents.

And it didn't bother him that the writer was a plant, because Andrew Sullivan himself has plant-like tendencies, hoaxer that he is.

This episode is pretty much the last straw for us regarding Sullivan.

We're simply not interested in following his thoughts any more. We're not being vindictive; we're just done with him as a commentator.

He's not credible; he seems dishonest and something of a scam artist.

He's intensely and nastily ad hominem, which, to be honest, we wouldn't mind so much; but then he alternates his catty name-calling and smearing with insufferable sermonettes about the need to rise above smears (at least when it involves his favorite subject, sex).

The one (1) thing he's good at -- pounding on the New York Times -- is a skill possessed by numerous other bloggers, and with most other bloggers, you don't have to wade through endless posts about the 3B's, boyfriends, beagles, and bronchitis.

He's an embarassment, whether your buy him as a legitimate conservative-leaning pundit or not. He's either embarassing for your team because he's always making nasty, unsupported charges against you. Or he's embarassing because he's writing "Mash Note[s] to Reagan" and offering to take George W. Bush's loads (rhetorical loads, we mean) -- at least in the weeks in which he isn't calling him a "liar."

That's just our own opinion and our own conclusion. Your mileage, of course, will tend to vary.

Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias 

Hugh Hewitt, via Instapundit, makes the point.

We're not particularly upset if the media chooses to not report on the Kerry affair(s). If the media is taking the position that such things have little to do with a candidate's fitness for office, that's fine with us.

We begin to grow angry, however, when, as usual, one standard-- a tough, harsh one -- is applied to Republicans, and another entirely different standard-- forgiving, protective -- is applied to Democrats.

Compare the media frenzy over the Bush AWOL charge -- a charge refuted by overwhelming documentary and now eyewitness testimony -- and the media's rather breezy reaction to the Kerry Affair(s).

The media always claims that there is some neutral "rule" or standard which requires that they play up Republican "scandals" while refusing to report on Democratic ones. Trouble is, when the situation is reversed -- that is, when a Republican seems as if he should benefit from an earlier "rule" that protected a Democrat -- suddenly the "rule" is no longer in effect, or is, the media claims, rendered inoperative by "different circumstances."

The only "circumstances" which are consistently obvious in any of these decisions is what letter parenthetically follows a candidates name, D or R.

Let's look the "Bush AWOL" charge. The media did its level best to protect Clinton from draft-dodging charges; not only was the story never well reported, but the media was forever writing "context" pieces to mitigate and explain away Clinton's draft-dodging. We can't count the number of pieces which ran in Time and Newsweek by liberal boomers explaining, "You have to understand how truly unpopular this war was at the time..."

Are these context pieces running now in defense of George W. Bush? Of course not. The media is actually underplaying the actual facts which exonerate him, never mind providing "context" to mitigate the charges if taken as true.

Turnipseed's quote about never seeing George W. Bush on base is repeatedly endlessly; his other quotes, where he says he would not necessarily have any reason to remember Bush, and can't say that Bush wasn't on base, and that he can't even recall if he himself spent much time on the base during the period in question, are almost never repeated.

And the media invents a new "rule" to explain why it's so critical that they report on Bush's evidence-free AWOL "scandal," while soft-playing Clinton's actual outright draft-dodging: Because, ummm, oh, because there's a war on! That's it! There's a war! Different circumstances, you see.

Seems to us that there was also a war on when the draft-avoiding Howard Dean was the presumtive front-runner for the Democratic nominee. Strangely enough, this "there's a war on!" rule didn't seem to apply when the likely Democratic nominee seemed to be more vulnerable on the issue than Bush.

Only when a liberal candidate percieved as better on the question than Bush became the front-runner did the "There's a war on!" rule come into sudden existence.

Compare this coverage to that of Kerry's affair(s). George W. Bush's "scandal" has been disproven by documentary and eyewitness tesitmony of those who remember serving with him; Kerry's scandal hasn't been refuted by anyone, except Kerry himself, who doesn't seem to necessarily be a disinterested source on the matter. True, there's no evidence on the record that Kerry has had affairs; but then, there is no longer any evidence on the record that Bush went AWOL, either.

And yet the media keeps digging on Bush, demanding he release his military records to disprove something already disproved; they make no similar demands that Kerry assist in resolving his own scandal.

Are the media now convinced that sleazy sexual conduct has no bearing on a candidate's candor, character, or fitness for office? Could be-- but they seemed to be awfully interested in the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger (R, in case you couldn't guess). Decades-old charges of groping, many from anonymous sources, were reported just before a critical vote in his political career (the recall election).

Compare that with the media's total blackout of the Juanita Broadrick rape allegation against Clinton. Yes, NBC eventually ran a heavily-edited version of the story on Dateline (and not on the regular nightly news, indicating to any viewer that NBC did not deem the story either relevant or credible).

But NBC embargoed that report until after a critical vote in Clinton's political career-- the impeachment trial.

The media is forever making up new rules, and new sub-rules, and new sub-sub-rules, to explain why negative stories about Republicans get great play before elections, while similar negative stories about Democrats get no play at all or are embargoed until after the crucial day of public voting. Their system of "rules," as they claim them to be, are contradictory and nonsensical and apparently riddled with exceptions and sub-exceptions and sub-sub-exceptions.

Meanwhile, there's a simple rule that explains their varying responses with perfect consistency, simplicity, and predictability -- run the story on Republicans, embargo it with regard to Democrats.

Quite a long time ago there was a model of planetary motion that put the earth in the center of the universe. The model actually worked, in the sense that you could predict where Mars and Jupiter would be in the sky by using it; but it was hiddeously complicated and had planets suddenly reversing course and doubling-back and turning in strange circles from time to time in order to explain their movements.

Gallileo argued that another theory was almost certainly correct-- that the planets actually moved in fairly simple eliptical orbits, with no bizzare retrograde movement or the like. This theory also worked, and was much more simple and elegant than the old theory. Of course, this theory was very controversial with the establishment, because it forced them to admit something they didn't want to, namely, that the earth was not in the center of the universe.

See, once you accepted that the earth was also moving in its very own elliptical orbit, the newish theory explained, very simply, why Mars would appear to move backwards periodically. It wasn't that Mars was actually moving backwards; it was just that it appeared to do so, because the vantage point-- earth-- was itself also moving, and occasionally overtaking Mars and passing it, like runners on a track.

Once that fact could be admitted, it would become obvious that the simple and elegant theory propounded by Galilleo was correct. In science, as between two theories which both "work" in the sense that they successfully predict and explain observed phenomenon, the simpler theory is usually taken as the true one.

But that fact couldn't be admitted for a long, long time; the establishment was too committed to, and invested in, the earth-centric model.

We have a similar situation today. The media would like you to believe that their various inconsistencies, contradictions, and apparent double-standards are actually all perfectly neutral and natural. Sure, their rules (and sub-rules, and sub-sub-rules, and exceptions, and sub-exceptions, and sub-sub-exceptions) consitute a hiddeously complex system which makes no real sense upon inspection; but they claim these labrythine rules explain their decisions without recourse to political ideology.

On the other hand, there's a much simpler and elegant theory that explains all of their decisions with perfect clarity and predictability, and doesn't involve six thousand "rules" and "exceptions" and "special caveats" and "special circumstances obviating the general rule." That theory is that they're liberal, and slant their coverage to favor liberal candidates and causes.

The establishment doesn't much like that theory. The establishment would like to maintain that "objectivity" and "neutrality" are at the heart of the media world, the earth about which all the media universe revolves.

Gallileo would likely disagree. He'd note the other theory -- the theory the media establishment doesn't like -- explains everything perfectly neatly with one general rule. He'd propose that objectivity isn't the lodestar at the heart of their media universe. Rather, at the heart of the media universe is a core set of potent political and cultural biases.

And, of course, he'd be excommunicated from the liberal church for doing so.

Shock: The Internet Detective Agency's Chief Witness Against Bush is a Liar 

Calpundit's got all sorts of theories regarding how this reversal is all part of the Bush Crime Family Conspiracy.


Responding to Andrew "Flip" Sullivan 

We're beginning to become downright disgusted with Andrew Sullivan. His own sexual pecadilloes and lifestyle have caused him to become, like Al Gore on campaign finance, more holy than the Pope on the issue of sexual privacy (or sexual anonymity in his case, we suppose).

In other words: Because Andy Sullivan got caught doing nasty sexual things and was outed for it (unfairly, we think), he's become an insufferable sermonizing prick on the issue to show that he's not just smarting about his own outing, but that he's "consistent" on the point and decries it everywhere.

Hey, Andy. We're not the ones who leaked it that you trolled for anonymous male ass on the Internet, promising to take and give loads.

In short:

Stop scolding Republicans about sexual privacy in an effort to show how "principled" you are on the issue. No one's buying it. You're very concerned about sexual privacy chiefly for reasons of pure self-interest, not because you've always been such a principled little Boy Scout about it.

Let's review:

1) Andy gets caught trolling for stinky pinky on the Internet.

2) The Gay Left outs him.

3) John Kerry diddles an intern.

4) Democratic hack Chris Lehane and Democratic Presidential candidate Wesley Clark push the story to the press.

And who has to do pennance for these various trespasses?

Why, the sex-obsessed conservative Republican Party, of course!

We had nothing to do with trolling/diddling/outing/smearing in any of the above. Why is it that Saint Andrew always points the quivering finger of righteous condemnation in our direction?

And, pushing that thesis, today Andy "Flip" Sullivan prints a letter from a "Republican" claiming

1) He knows the Republicans are behind the Senator Splooge story, despite the fact that Chris Lehane is fingered in a reporter's email, and Clark fingered by three reporters as pushing the story on background,

and, inevitably,

2) He'll never vote Republican again.

He then goes on to substantially agree with the points. He titles the post "The Lewinsky Path." There's a definite "here we go again" sigh to the whole thing.

Grow up, Jackass. Not every letter by a writer claiming to be from a "Republican" is actually from a Republican. It's a standard play to claim "I used to support politician X, until Y, now I'm supporting opponent Z" in order to encourage other people to do likewise.

It does happen, of course; but let's just say we somehow doubt that "lifetime NRA member Michael Moore" is really a bear for Second Amendment Rights. The Rush Limbaugh show gets a lot of calls from "ex-conservatives" willing to talk at great length about how much they hate Bush (and how they have, rather suddenly, adopted the sum and entirety of the liberal agenda overnight).

This is why we've always considered Sullivan a hoaxer: He seems awfully quick to blame Republicans when all available evidence points to an especially rat-like Democratic operative.

That screed out of the way, Jonah Goldberg responds to Sullivan's baseless speculations in a more sober tone than our own.

His key question: If you're so dead-set against speculation and smears against people, Sully, why are you so game to engage in speculation and smears against Republicans?

Let's dial the Andrew Sullivan Flip Watch forward.

At the tone, the Andrew Sullivan Flip Watch displays a time of


11:53 PM (two minutes closer to midnight)

We're not sure what we find more distressing-- Andy flipping and being feted by the liberal press he's always really been a part of, or eight months more of Andy's moralistic preening and sermonizing about sexual privacy and how he's so virtuously above it all.

UPDATE: Gee, we forgot. Check out this Donald Luskin post on Sullivan.

He makes a good point. For all his preening, Andrew Sullivan's style of argument is intensely ad hominem. Whether he loves or hates the person he's writing about, it's always this gushing emotional jag. "A Mash Note to Reagan" and the rest of it. There were virtual love-letters to Bush he wrote a year ago that made us blush, and we're fairly strong supporters of the President.

Keith Olbermann: Almost as Not-Funny as Margaret Cho 

If you get a chance, and you can bear to do so, try watching or recording the Keith Olbermann ("WHO?") show tonight. Just watch the first twelve minutes.

Not for good reasons, you understand. Just so you can see just how painfully unfunny true unfunny can be.

This is real unfunny, deep in the bones unfunny.

We here at Ace of Spades HQ make this promise to you, the reader:

If we ever receive positive information as to who erroneously first insinuated it into Keith Olbermann's big stupid simp-head that he was "really, really funny" and "ought to get a job on TV, doing smart, snarky news reports," we will hunt the guilty party down and beat him to death with crude bludgeons fashioned from his own severed limbs.

By the Way 

The media, of course, is going to try to spin the Kerry-Hot-Sex-Intern story (that should produce some Yahoo hits!) as being pushed by Republicans in order to "distract" everyone from the scary-important Bush AWOL story.

Let's count the number of times we hear it suggested in the mainstream media that it is also possible that the situation was precisely reversed -- that John Kerry pushed the Bush AWOL story in order to pre-emptively distract everyone from the Hot Intern Sex story he knew was coming.

Any bets on the ratio of the two?

We're guessing, conservatively, 600:1.

Why Is Germany Producing Such Sick Criminals? 

The New York Times wonders:

The worst by far would seem to have been the Internet cannibal, though the beating and murder of a three-year old child whose father intended to crucify her, the videotaped torture of a high school student, the bludgeoning to death of a youth because he was wearing clothes that, his murderers felt, made him look like a Jew-- these incidents too have lately made Germany appear to be a sort of European center for gothic crime, or at least a place of concentrated tabloid sensationalism.

The lurid quality of a few recent crimes in Germany might even make you wonder if the country really deserves its reputation as a well-ordered and low-crime sort of place, though, in truth, Germany is well-ordered and low-crime. Could it be that a kind of horror-film virus has been breeding in the country's thick forests, or someplace in the culture, and has given rise to an especially gruesome series of crimes?

We could point out the obvious, we suppose.

We could note that beneath the veneer of orderliness (a slightly creepy orderliness, we might add), Germany has always had a very dark and barbaric heart.

We could mention Hitler.

But we won't. We won't stoop so low to mention such things, and we certainly wouldn't attempt to smear an entire nation.

Even if they were complicit in the most lurid evil in all of history 50 years ago, and even if they, to this day, continue to whisper justifications and mitigations for that monstrous barbarism and occasionally suggest that they were the "true victims" of Hitler, and of allied bombing as well.

We're quite above that. After all, Germany is our close ally.

That 1998 Boston Herald Item About Kerry's "Intern" 

Just about everyone has this. We're just posting it because, hey, it's bound to result in increased traffic.

We got this from Kausfiles, but like we said, we've seen bits of it in a lot of places.

September 2, 1998 Wednesday



LENGTH: 811 words

HEADLINE: Inside Track; Job seeker is model constituent


Question of the day: Who was the statuesque blonde strutting out of Sen. John Kerry's palatial Louisburg Square manse late Monday night when Kerry's wife, heiress Teresa Heinz, was on Nantucket?

We are told she is [name omitted] a 22-year-old Harvard student and former model who, Kerry's people claim, was dropping off a resume.

Our spies on the Square say the stunning Southern gal, dressed in oh-so-chic black, arrived at Kerry's townhouse around 11:15 p.m. and left just before the clock struck 12.


Which leads us to ask: In the age of Monica Lewinsky, is it smart for a senator with presidential aspirations to be entertaining attractive women when the wife is away?

"He was very kind to me. He offered to pass my resume along," [the student] told the Track.

The Georgetown grad said she was not at Kerry's home at midnight - more like 10:45 p.m. - and that she would have dropped off the resume earlier except that it was locked in her brother's apartment.

Both [the student] and Kerry's people insist the encounter was completely innocent. They said the senator met [the student] on Nantucket earlier this summer, then again last weekend. ...


Kaus hates Kerry more even than we do. So he's got to be feeling pretty happy.

Give him credit for connecting this scandal with the Kerry campaign's previous statement about which of Bush's "scandals" or personal problems might be on the table as far as negative attacks:

Another Kerry adviser was more blunt. "This is not the Dukakis campaign," the adviser said. "We're not going to take it. And if they're going to come at us with stuff, whatever that stuff may be, if it goes to a place where the '88 campaign did, then everything is on the table. Everything."

Well, Senator. If everything is on the table, you can't claim that this is off-limits, now can you?

Yes, we know the Kerry staffer couched it in the form of "Everything's on the table if they get nasty with us."

But that's the way they always frame their negative attacks, isn't it? That they were only forced to go negative by their meeeeeeaaaan opponents.

And Kerry's idea of going nasty apparently includes simply questioning his votes and statements on public issues.

As we noted last week: The standard liberal playbook is to attempt to take legitimate, substantive issues which cut against them off the table by casting them as "divisive politics," "personal attacks," or "questioning the patriotism" of the liberal.

Not only do they attempt to deem such questions off the table, but they claim that being so rude as to broach the subject of a liberal's voting record invites and justifies a personal attack in response.

from the Home Office in Butte, Montana...


10. "Push-polling"

9. Getting a little "cloture"

8. "Forming an ad-hoc fact-finding exploratory committee... to tap that ass"

7. "Constituent Service"

6. "Exciting the base"

5. "Taking a position"

4. "Throwing Ribbons Over the White House Wall"

3. "Dodging the Teresa Tax"

2. "The Politics of Personal Satisfaction"

and the Number One John Kerry Euphemism for Adulterous Sex...

1. "Pissing away the Presidency"

Today's Top Ten 

From the Home Office in scenic Butte, Montana...


10. "You remind me of a young, supple Maxine Waters."

9. "Let's you and me go someplace quiet where we can talk about the Internet tax exemption."

8. "You know what the intial 'F' stands for? Fucktastic."

7. "My face isn't the only thing that's 'Lincolnesque.'"

6. "What say you, me, and six or seven pantless Kennedy men go hot-tubbing?"

5. "You want one reason to sleep with me? All right, here's a reason: Electability."

4. "I'd like to take you back to my place and show you a little trick Chris Dodd taught me."

3. "I respectfully yield the floor to... your beautiful eyes."

2. "Pre-Nup? Schmee-nup. Baby, you're so fine, you make me want to risk actually having to support myself for once in my adult life."

and the Number One John F. Kerry Pick-Up Line...

1. "Sleep with me; I served in 'Nam."

AWOL Story Rubbished, the Hysterical Left Again Turns to the Bush Bisexual-Rape/Murder Scandal 

At least that's what we glean from looking over our latest referrers. We've had about ten referrals from Google or Yahoo for the Margie Schoedinger Presidential Pansexual Rape & Murder Spree in just the last three days.

Which is a record. For us.

Ahead of Andrew Sullivan 

We called his Democratic drift before he became aware of it. Now he follows us again:

PARANOID AFTER-THOUGHT: I was always a little suspicious about Terry McAuliffe's raising of the Bush National Guard AWOL issue. I wondered: why are they doing this now, rather than wait till later? Now I wonder if it wasn't a pre-emptive strike. Was it an attempt to ensure that Bush and his aides had decried "gutter politics" in the week that the Kerry story was going to break? I don't know. But the timing is suspicious.

Ace of Spades HQ: We make obvious connections three seconds ahead of the competition!

AS continues:

Hyper-paranoid thought: were the dreaded Clintons behind this? It certainly makes the Kerry candidacy less secure, raises the likelihood of a brokered convention, etc etc... Take it away, Dick Morris! Here comes Rodham?

This thought is percolating through the conservative circles. (Um, in other words, Free Republic.)

Honestly, let's stop crying "Clinton!" in a crowded theater all the time.

Bill and Hillary aren't responsible for everything that happens in the world. We diminish ourselves and, worse yet, inflate their importance by forever seeing Hillary's chubby calves and Bill's whitefish belly behind every event that transpires on the political stage.

Maybe, maybe, maybe there is some connection. But why don't we just all cool out and wait for some, you know, actual evidence before jumping to such conclusions?

The Left is "Already Tired" of the Senator Splooge Story 

Wonkette is, at least.

It seems the left can get itself quite worked up about evidence-free claims about Bush's whereabouts thirty years ago, but the marital infidelity of a liberal is forever "old news" from which we need to "move on."

But perhaps she's just a special case. After all, she's also bored with the War on Terror, opining on 9-11, as Kashei so elequently paraphrased it:

blah blah, 3,000 dead, blah blah blah.

If there's just one liberal posture that annoys us to know end, it is this pretentious pose of being so damnedably hip and jaded and, well, bored by everyfrickingthing.

It's a thoroughly juvenile pose. Only adolescent children, or those trapped forever in the eighth-grade mindset, spend so much time and effort to convince the world that they just find life itself so terribly banal and passe. Juvenlie, hair-flipping flippancy may have its occasional uses, but it is not, in fact, a philosophy of living.

She continues shamelessly imitating the shallow, posturing schtick of her hero,

in every single respect. Can a Pulitzer be far behind?

Why Smart People Believe Weird Things 

Why do otherwise-sane liberals go in so big for ludicrous conspiracy theories? This guy has some thoughts:

In April 1999, when I was on a lecture tour for my book Why People Believe Weird Things, the psychologist Robert Sternberg attended my presentation at Yale University. His response to the lecture was both enlightening and troubling. It is certainly entertaining to hear about other people's weird beliefs, Sternberg reflected, because we are confident that we would never be so foolish. But why do smart people fall for such things? Sternberg's challenge led to a second edition of my book, with a new chapter expounding on my answer to his question: Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.

Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.

This phenomenon, called the confirmation bias, helps to explain the findings published in the National Science Foundation's biennial report (April 2002) on the state of science understanding. . .

Because smarter people are better at abstract thinking, they therefore often have little problem using that thinking to defend patently ludicrous, if not genuinely insane, notions.

Giving rise to the famous quip (so famous we don't know who said it): "Only an intellectual could believe something so stupid."

A hearty thank-you to globehopping archaelogist/adventurer Frank Black for tipping us to this at the Perfect World.

Thoughts on Senator Splunge's Sex Scandal 

First of all, do we have to stop calling him Senator Splunge, and begin calling him Senator Splooge?

Second, Jonah Goldberg is probably right when he writes:

Personally, I don't relish another one of these "debates" over adulterous sex by a Democratic politician. Not because I condone it or anything. But, I'm just exhausted with the topic. It is entirely possible, and perhaps probable, that most Americans will view it the same way and this story will have few legs.

The nation is suffering from Scandal Fatigue. Even we here at AoSHQ are sort of "eh" about the Affair Affair. We can't imagine non-partisan swing voters are much more worked up about it than we are.

Of course this is a problem for Kerry. And of course, if there's more to it -- if he sent this woman out of the country to keep her away from the press -- it gets worse.

But as it stands, we doubt a simple affair is not enough to destroy a candidacy at this point. Damage a bit, yes. Destroy, no.

Finally, Kausfiles puzzled us the other day with these enigmatic thoughts:

The AWOL Mystery: Why are Democrats bringing up the Bush/National Guard/AWOL issue now? Sure, the press is playing along and it's having an impact--but by November, when the Dems need it, it will seem like very old news. If you want to win the election, the time to start a media AWOL frenzy is in August or September, no? Yet commentators continue to look for the anti-Bush logic in the Democratic strategy. Tim Russert was just on Hardball saying the AWOL issue is a "warning shot" from the Kerry camp telling Bush he shouldn't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense.

Huh? there any chance Bush won't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense? No. And how would Bush be dissuaded by a "warning" that Kerry might raise the AWOL issue when Kerry's already raising the AWOL issue--and by doing so is diminishing, not enhancing its November effectiveness? It doesn't make sense....

That is, it doesn't make sense unless you view the AWOL issue as a primary election strategy, not a general election strategy. Its purpose is not to boost the Democrats (in November), but to boost Kerry (now). By getting the press talking about the chest-full-of-medals vs. slothful Guardsman issue, Kerry has helped convince Democratic primary voters that Bush is beatable...

Puzzling. Kausfiles' point, as actually expressed, seems sort of weak. Why not bring up the bullshit AWOL story now, and in November, too?

What was he getting at, we wondered at the time.

Was Kausfiles hinting around? Was he suggesting that perhaps Kerry was pushing the "AWOL" story because he needed Washington abuzz with talk about someone else's alleged scandal?

Is that why Kerry needed to bring this up now, rather than in the summer? Because he knew what was coming, and needed the country's attention bifurcated as regards scandal?

What more does Kausfiles know he's not telling us?

Compare with this Kaus gem:

Bubble Boy: At this point in the 1992 campaign, Democratic voters had known for a month about Bill Clinton's most glaring character defect--his philandering. They may have denied it or rationalized it, but they knew about the charge, and they voted for Clinton anyway. This year, I'm constantly struck by the number of otherwise informed Democrats who are totally unaware of basic Kerry vulnerabilites--who are surprised, for example, to learn that he threw someone else's medals over a wall in his famous anti-Vietnam protest. ... When Clinton's early Gennifer Flowers troubles didn't stop him, he was inoculated on the womanizing issue for the remainder of the campaign. Kerry is so not inoculated. The antiseptic primary has left the Democrats not knowing whether their likely nominee has a healthy immune system or none at all. ...

Emphasis ours.

Was Kausfiles prescient?

Or was he not prescient, but simply possessed of actual knowledge?

It certainly seems the latter is likely. How could a media guy like Kaus, with ample connections to Democratic politicians, not have known about this?

Here's What Separates Us 

We just read this, in the context of a debate over the War on Terrorism:

What do you want to hear from a candidate [about his plan for taking on terrorism], Annie?

-- "I can beat Bush."

There's the difference between them and us-- we want to beat the terrorists; they want to beat Bush.

If you don't know what that siren means, then you-- wait. Of course you know what that siren means. There's no way you can be a conservative-leaning Internet news reader and not know what it means.


Okay. So Kerry was gone. Then he was invincible.

We were just getting our heads wrapped around the notion of Candidate Kerry, realizing he was flawed and beatable.

And now... maybe he won't be the candidate after all.

Who's left?

Only Dean and Edwards.

Edwards would be a much stronger opponent than Dean. A lot of people think he's the strongest possible opponent, period.

Evolution of a Smear 

Well, it didn't take long.

For years the Hysterical Left's smear about Bush's alleged "AWOL" status relied upon a lack of documentation.

Actually, as we now know, George magazine had all the documentation now available in 1999; all the "new documents" exonerating Bush were in the public record since then.

And we know someone else had the "new document" showing Bush's service for 1972-1973. Who? Bob Fertik, proprietor of the vile, who got a hold of a pristine, untorn copy of Bush's service record via a FOIA request in 2000 but didn't tell anyone about it, because he wanted to maintain that the record didn't exist.

But anyway. Previously, the theory relied upon a lack of records.

Now the records have been produced. End of the claim?

As James Bond might say, "But of course not, darling."

Because we now proceed to the next inevitable step: "The documents were forged and 'cleansed.'"

As usual, Calpundit gets the first feeds from Fertik and the like, and then Talking Points Memo dutifully retypes them for broader consumption.

Let's watch the new smear develop over the course of just over 12 hours:

Calpundit, 9:26 AM:

WERE BUSH'S NATIONAL GUARD RECORDS "CLEANSED"?....Atrios links today to a Dallas Morning News article that quotes a guy named Bill Burkett as charging that George Bush's National Guard records were tampered with back in 1997. Here's a quick note to explain why I haven't posted about this before.

The reason is simple: I'm not sure Burkett's story hangs together. It started with an article in November 2000 in which Burkett claimed that Bush's files had been "cleansed," followed by a London Times story that interpreted Burkett's remarks as saying that Bush's records had been "doctored." If true, the charges were Watergate-level serious.

However, in a press release the next day clarifying his remarks, Burkett said he was "extremely careful not to point an accusing finger" and then said this:

>Did you allege that the Governor's staff "doctored" the records?

>No, instead I stated that the way this had been handled by the Bush staff including knowledgeable military officials at the Texas national guard, that it left the implication that the Bush staff had first incompetently provided an incomplete military file for the Governor which was consistent with his autobiography....

In other words, Burkett was saying only that the Bush campaign had been careful to release some files but not others. But then last year he told Greg Palast [a different story].


Obviously I don't have any inside information and I've never spoken to Burkett. But I've got a few problems with his story:

It's awfully convenient. He just happened to be in General James' office when Allbaugh called? And despite the fact that Burkett's job was investigating irregularities in recordkeeping, James decided to put this call on the speaker? And then Burkett just happened to see the offending documents in the trash a few days later? This is a remarkably sloppy job on the part of Bush's people.

When he clarified his remarks in his press release in 2000, why didn't he tell the story he's telling now? It's pretty sensational, and surely deserved an accusing finger.

Burkett said of the scrubbing, "For most soldiers at Camp Mabry, this was a generally known event." If that's true, why hasn't anyone else come forward to confirm his story?

Burkett has a big time axe to grind. He was a whistleblower regarding problems in the Texas Guard and was later denied medical treatment for an illness he contracted in Panama, an incident that he blames on retaliation by Bush. He sued the National Guard over this incident but lost the case.

Bottom line: Burkett's story might be absolutely true. I don't know. But there are enough red flags that I'm skeptical of it without further backup. In the meantime, caveat emptor.

You can check Calpundit's site for the actual charges. Then decide for yourselves how plausible you find it that this guy was somehow always around to accidentally overhear people discussing "cleansing" Bush's records, to see those discarded records in the trash, to hear people talking about law-breaking over unguarded speakerphones, etc.

Apparently when the Bushies want to break the law, they're so collegial as to include obvious enemies in their nefarious schemes.

But anyway: Note the Internet Detective's concluding Memo to File. He doubts it's true.

But he'd sure like it to be true, wouldn't he?

Our Intrepid Internet Detective Is Still Hot on the Case at 2:37 PM:

MORE ON BILL BURKETT....I've got good news and bad news. I've been trying to reach Bill Burkett for the past couple of days, but after this morning's post about him I decided I should try a little harder. The good news is that I finally got hold of him a little before noon and we talked for nearly two hours about his story.

Basically, he confirmed his account and answered several of my questions about it. He says he accidentally overheard the conversation in General James' office about cleaning up George Bush's National Guard record and then discussed it with a friend who subsequently led him to the building where he saw 30 or 40 Bush documents lying in a trash can. He agrees that his "clarification" in 2000 went too far and says that he got scared by all the attention and backed off more than he should have. And he's quite frank about his run-ins with Dan Bartlett and the medical problems that he blames on retaliation by Bush's staff.

Overall, then, his story hangs together reasonably well — but whether his story is true is still a judgment call and I think the only way for people to judge the whole thing is to hear it in his own words....

However, it sounds like Burkett has talked to dozens of reporters in the past few days, so I wouldn't be surprised if his name starts popping up more frequently in news accounts. Keep your eyes peeled.

Hmmm-hm. Sounds like the Internet Detective was a real bear to convince.

And Now Even the Intrepid Internet Detective, a Claimed Skeptic at 9:26 AM, Has Been Convinced by the Overwhelming Evidence at 9:41 PM:

"CLEANSING" THE FILES....Back in late 2001 Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard of USA Today wrote a series of articles about "ghost soldiers," soldiers who were kept on National Guard rolls even though they were no longer attending drills or getting paid. One of their sources for the article was Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett, who had investigated this problem in the Texas National Guard several years previously.

Which is just a bit of background to show that Moniz and Drinkard have worked with Burkett before and feel comfortable that he's a reliable source. At any rate, comfortable enough to publish his allegations that George Bush's National Guard records were "cleansed" back in 1997...

Well, why didn't you say so, Kevin! This man has spoken to reporters in the past, making the same allegations; surely there can be no further doubts about his credibility!

And now the hand-off to the equally vile Josh Marshall:

There are several new story lines opening up tonight on the Guard issue. In addition to the bizarre dental records release noted below, a number of news outlets are running with the allegations of former Texas Guard official Bill Burkett, who has said for some time that the president's Guard records were "cleansed" by campaign staffers back in 1999.


Kevin Drum notes how the authors of the piece have a (good) history with the source, Burkett, thus arguably lending his story more credibility.

Arguably? He talked to a couple of reporters at a minor newspaper. This, ahem, boosts his credibility how, precisely?

But just look at how we've come in a short span of time.

At 9:26 AM today, there were bright red flag's about this man and his oft-changing story. (Which didn't stop Calpundit from passing along the smear, notice.)

At 2:37 PM, Calpundit got on the phone with this guy (there's a knock on his credibility right there-- he talks to Calpundit) and Calpundit is just about a True Believer.

At 9:41 PM, Calpundit declares that there's every reason to believe his tale, because two reporters from the Dallas Morning News quoted him a couple of years ago.

At 1:47 AM tonight, Josh Marshall declares (perhaps even he's starting to grow bored with his constant predictions of Apocalypse for Bush) that the story "arguably" has newfound "credibility."

And there you go-- the left-wing conspiracy-theory transition belt, the liberal smear machine in action. From a faintly ridiculous comedy of errors told by a partisan lunatic in the morning to a "credible" story by midnight.

Think about that: For Calpundit and Marshall, these stories went from dubious (or first-time hearing of them, for Marshall) to "credible" in just over 12 hours' time.

Were there any new actual facts along the way?

No. What made the story "credible" over the course of the day was Drum's and Marshall's need to nurse their bruised little egos and to engage in further venomous slander.

It's quite clear neither man particularly cares about the truth of any of their smears.

All they seem to care about is maintaining some sort of plausible deniability-- or perhaps a legalistic defense against claims of malice.

If they can hang these idiocies on some slender reed and claim that the charges are now "arguably" "credible," that's enough for them.

An Internet Detective Gets Coshed on His Pointy Little Head 

Oh, we had some fun over the last two days.

We noted that Calpundit and Talking Points had seemed to become emotional, angry, and slightly unhinged at seeing their cherished Bush AWOL slanders go up in flames.

But it's even worse than that.

RealClearPolitics busts Calpundit hard for passing on the speculations of one "Bob Rogers" about the unit acronym at the top of Bush's payroll sheet. Rogers claims "ARF" is some sort of "disciplinary unit" or "paper unit," which, by the way, it's not.

Talking Points then links to this very-nearly made up claim and says that Calpundit's "research" could "turn this whole story upside down."

Who is Bob Rogers, anyway?

Well, gee willickers. It turns out he's a writer for the ineffable

Calpundit forgot to mention that when passing on Roger's tidbits.

As Real Clear scolds:

Even worse, you're demanding perfect transparency and absolute accountability from the President for things that happened 32 years ago, yet you aren't fully disclosing details that have a direct bearing on the biases and motivations of the people providing you with information that you're disseminating through your blog.

Why not tell us up front that gave you the documents which were, as you say, available to the public for years under the FOIA? Why not point us to the article by Bob Rogers? Both certainly seem like germane pieces of information that readers would be interested in, if not entitled to, to make informed judgments about this story.



A Budding Young Maureen Dowd... 

Wonkette is a new blogger in the style of Maureen "Money" Dowd. Which is to say, she is perfectly vapid but attempts to get by with girlish cuteness and snarkiness.

For some reason, the moment she started blogging, a bazillion established blogs hailed her as a new distaff messiah. Ah, well-- never doubt the capacity for socially-inept men to make idiots of themselves the moment a real-life girl happens to poke her head into their AV Club/Dungeons & Dragons mixer.

So, given all this attention lavished on Mz. Wonkette, what sort of cutting edge commentary is she churning out?

Well, check out this take on her utter boredom with the War on Terror.

There is a very potent meme out there among the liberal and the unserious (two largely overlapping groups): That this is some sort of "fictitious war" we're engaged in, as Husky Huckster Michael Moore notoriously put it. And there is also the simply mindnumbing tendency for certain people in our country to evaluate a fucking war (sorry for the profanity) as they were judging a contestant on American Idol.

You know what this war lacks for the Wonkettes and Dowds of the world? Star quality. An It Factor. A certain pizzazz, an undeniable Wowie.

It's being fought largely by non-college educated, not-quite-our-class-dear men they wouldn't date.

It's being fought against hairy, dirty swarthy foreign folk who they don't even like to acknowledge in reality (although they're quite happy to praise them in the abstract in the interests of being "multicultural.")

And, worst of all, it's being commanded by a religious conservative Republican.

We seem to remember that the Kosovo War had enough va-va-voom for Ms. Dowd, for example.

We're terribly sorry if all this dispiriting and depressing boystuff of war and the like puts a crimp in the style of shallow cutesy commenters like Wonkette and Dowd. We understand there are more important issues, like the upcoming Sex & the City finale, or gay marriage. Or protecting Janet Jackson's first amendment right to expose herself to children.

Kashei of Alarming News/Spot on alerted us to this, with the arresting and quite apt headline:

Blah blah 3,000 dead, blah blah blah

For many people out there, the War on Terrorism is just so passe, and September 11th, 2001 is just so, well, 2001. It's old; we're bored.

They need new gaudy public outrages and spectacles to chatter about. Surely these pretty chirping birds cannot be expected to pretend to care about 9-11 forever.

They've pretended to care for two and a half years already. When will they finally be permitted to just drop the pose?

For Whom are Al Qaeda and Hizz'bollah Voting in 2004? 

We don't need to speculate about Hizz'bollah; they've specifically announced their favored candidate in November. Hint: It's not George W. Bush.

Jay Redding's post is just full of great bits pulled from various sources. You'd think Mark Steyn and James Lileks quotes-and-links would be enough for one post.

But no: He adds more, at no extra cost to you, the reader.

Beaten to the Splunge! 


We (egotistical creatures that we are) were searching to see if anyone had linked our John Kerry-- Splunge! Candidate piece yet.

We were doubly disappointed. Not only has no one yet linked it, but we're not even the first to make the connection.

Viking Pundit beat us to the Splunge!

Okay, okay. So he was first. But who was wordier and belabored the point for ever and ever?

Exactly. This "Viking Pundit" person merely treated the Splunge observation as a minor, throwaway line, whereas we wrote a freaking novel on the thin, disposable premise.

Advantage: Ace of Spades HQ.

Viking Pundit also links to this interesting Economist piece on how Bush can shred Senator Splunge, which we hadn't seen linked anywhere else.

"Senator Splunge," by the way, is Viking Pundit's joke. We kinda like it.

Stupid Viking Pundit.

UPDATE: It just gets worse and worse. Here Dean is compared to the Splunge sketch in a comment on The Daily Kos, back in November.

So, okay, we're not so terribly clever as we thought.

Dow At 2 1/2 Year High; Less than 1,000 Points From All-Time Record 

Greenspan's rosy economic report helped: "The Fed chairman also said the GDP is now expected to grow between 4.5 percent and 5 percent in 2004, up from a July forecast of 3.75 percent to 4.75 percent."

That is a fairly big upward revision, and the forecast, if true, would represent amazing sustained growth. The Clinton economy grew by an average rate of 3.7%, remember. And that was considered gangbusters by the liberal media (and, to be fair, to the nation at large).

A year ago, we began the Dow Jones 10,000 Watch at The Perfect World.

Looks like we might need to start the Dow Jones 11,700 Watch soon.

Bush "AWOL:" A Letter From a Fellow TANG Pilot 

Must reading.

Knocks down every claim, speculation, and slander from Marshall, Drum, MacAuliffe, Kerry, Moore, and the rest of the Vile Brigade.

We expect the information in this letter to be widely read by our intrepid press corps and duly reported.


Dr. Bob Arnot Leaves NBC 

Let's admit something right up front: Dr. Bob Arnot is either Republican or at least Republican-friendly; or maybe he's just pro War on Terror.

We love the guy.

Does being Republican-leaning disqualify one from getting one's stories reported on NBC?

Apparently it does:

In a 1,300-word e-mail to NBC News president Neal Shapiro, written in December 2003 and obtained by NYTV, Dr. Arnot called NBC News' coverage of Iraq biased. He argued that keeping him in Iraq and on NBC could go far in rectifying that. Dr. Arnot told Mr. Shapiro that NBC had alienated the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad...

"I'm uniquely positioned to report the story," he wrote. "NBC Nightly News routinely takes the stories that I shoot and uses the footage, even to lead the broadcast," but "refuses to allow the story to be told by the reporter on the scene."

In other words, he suggested, NBC News did not like putting him on the air.

Dr. Arnot included excerpts from an e-mail from Jim Keelor, president of Liberty Broadcasting, which owns eight NBC stations throughout the South. Mr. Keelor had written NBC, stating that "the networks are pretty much ignoring" the good-news stories in Iraq. "The definition of news would incorporate some of these stories," he wrote. "Hence the Fox News surge."

Reached for comment, Mr. Keelor said that he was "not lambasting anyone" and that NBC News "indicated they were sensitive to the issues." But he added, "Of course it's political. Journalism and news is what unusual [events] happened that day. And if the schools are operating, they can say that's usual. My response to that is, 'The hell it is.' My concern there is that almost everything that has occurred in a Iraq since the war started is unexpected."

That pretty much summed up Dr. Arnot's attitude as well. In his letter to Mr. Shapiro, he wondered why the network wasn't reporting stories of progress in Iraq, a frequently heard complaint of the Bush administration. "As you know, I have regularly pitched most of these stories contained in the note to Nightly, Today and directly to you," he wrote. "Every single story has been rejected."

Same old, same old: Liberal reporters are "objective" and "mainstream;" conservative-leaning reporters are, on the other hand, full of partisan bias and "extreme."

Thanks to Instapundit.

Saddam Took Kerry's Advice 

Discoshaman points out that Kerry's constant bleat -- "Call in the UN to solve all of our problems" -- was actually attempted by Saddam Hussein.

It didn't work for him.

Also check out the post before this one. It's about Russia, and the end of democracy there.

Internet Detectives Still Snitting Their Pants 

The vile Josh Marshall knows that Bush is going to propose a Federal Marriage Amendment in order to distract the nation from the AWOL story.

They're forever saying the same thing about every issue. Everything this President has done, apparently, was intended as a distraction from something else.

War on Terror? Distraction from the economy. War on Iraq? Distraction from the failures of the actual War on Terror. Marriage Amendment? Distraction from the AWOL story that actually just blew up in the Internet Detectives' faces.

The real problem for Marshall and his vile ilk, of course, isn't that these issues are distractions from Bush's problems. It's that they underscore liberal Democrats' problems.

On each of these issues, the liberals lose politically. So it becomes critically important to attempt to avoid debating the actual issues involved. Ad hominem attacks are the maneuver of choice-- anything, anything, to avoid a straight-up public referrendum on liberalism.

Marshall is again unintentionally funny when he drops this little bomb:

White House leaks the story that the president will endorse a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

A) Coincidence or B) An effort to change the subject?

We imply; you decide.

(Oh, by the way, a bunch of the reporters asking McClellan the questions think it's B. But don't let that influence your choice.)

It says quite a bit about Marshall, and quite a bit about his readership, that he feels what "a bunch of reporters" think could and should influence public opinion.


Calpundit also has his Talking Points in hand on the Federal Marriage Amendment. The word "distraction" is used.

The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 3,891: High School Honor Rolls Are Now Illegal 

Posting an honor-roll student's name apparently subjects non-honor students to unconstitutional levels of "ridicule."

Saddam Rules Over Cell With Iron Fist 

From The Onion, which generally spends its time these days making unfunny and predictable lefty slams against the War on Terror. But this one's good.

Thanks to Frank at The Perfect World. Frank's also got himself a blog about archaeology.

Internet Detectives Still On the Case 

Somebody who understands this stuff really needs to take a look through these records and explain what they mean. At first glance something seems to have happened in mid-1972, with the records changing format and a chunk of time missing. But only an expert can say for sure.

Kevin Drum, Internet Detective

Hey, Kevie. Why bother with an expert? You know the conclusion already. You know the "right answer," and no amount of documentation or expertise is going to sway you from that.

John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate 

We're all big fans of Monty Python here at AoSHQ. At least, their earlier, funnier works, before they began churning out nothing but slavish Bergmann imitations.

One sketch we always liked, despite the fact we've only seen it once or twice, was the Splunge! sketch.

It went something like this.

Graham Chapman plays a Big Angry Unstable Movie Executive. He sits at the head of a table; his five corporate flunkies are arrayed around him.

He wants to know someone's opinion on his latest idea for a film.

"Great idea!" chimes one.

Chapman angrily calls him a Yes-Man. "If there's one thing I hate," he says, "it's a yes-man."

He asks for someone else's opinion. Someone else says he doesn't like the idea.

This infuriates Chapman, who screams at the man for daring to disagree with him.

Another man is so scared he wavers between "Yes... No... I mean Yes... I mean no." Chapman screams at him -- because if there's one thing he can't stand, it's being indecisive.

Now Michael Palin (we think) is asked, "And what do you have to say about my latest idea?"

Michael Palin's head is about to explode due to the pressure. No answer is a good answer. So he answers, "Splunge!"

"What's 'splunge'?" Chapman wants to know.

Palin takes a deep breath and answers in a rush. "It means, it's-a-great-idea-but-possibly-not-and-I'm-not-being-indecisive!"

"Hmmmm," Chapman ponders. "'Splunge,' eh? I like the cut of your jib! Perfect answer! Splunge! it is!"

And now he asks around the table for everyone else's opinion. Everyone offers "splunge" as their opinion. "Mark me down for Splunge, sir," says one.

"I see it as a clear case of Splunge!" says another.

"Splunge! all around," the table agrees.

It's funny, of course, because it's absurd. Not to get all Professor of Comedy here, but the humor resides in the fact that Palin is attempting to have it two ways at once -- three ways, actually, if you count his claim that he's also not being indecisive -- which is of course an impossibility.

Your answer can be Yes.

Your answer can be No.

Your answer can be "I'm not sure; I have no strong feelings either way."

But it can't be Yes/No/And I'm quite passionately sure of that Yes/No.

If there really were an answer called "splunge," it would be the answer to every test-question you've ever taken.

The SAT's would have been an absolute snap.

Which of the following is true regarding the above-diagrammed parallelogram?

A) The internal angles add up to 360 degrees

B) Angles A and B are complimentary

C) Angles A and C are equal

D) All of the Above

E) Splunge!

Splunge! for me. Splunge! for you. Splunge! all around.

Splunge!, Splunge!, everything wonderfully Splunge!, everyone joyously Splunge!-ing their way through their Splunge!-happy lives.

In a world where many answers are simple, easy, and wrong, it has to be the case that Splunge! is the simplest, easiest, and wrongest of them all.


Now what does any of this have to do with anything else?

Well-- glad you asked.

It occurs to us that John Kerry is the most perfectly-realized Splunge! candidate the world has ever known.

Name the issue, and he takes Splunge! as his announced policy position.

On the war?

He was against it, but he voted for it. He supports the good things but not the bad things. He would have taken Saddam out, but "in the right way," the "right way" defined as "death due to advanced old age." He voted to authorize war, but only as a threat; and he also thinks the world should take his threats seriously, despite his prior announcements that "threats" are only "threats" and never anything more. He's a committed, passionate patriot, but he also voted against funding our troops, to "send George Bush a message." He's a tough-guy who'll scare Osama into surrender, but he also wants to take a "wait and see" attitude and worldwide terrorism.

In a word: Splunge!

How about the Patriot Act?

He voted for it, but he always had reservations about it. He thought the Administration needed it to fight terrorists, but he always was suspicious that this Administration would use the Act to impose tyranny on the country and thereby "let the terrorists win" by giving in to them. He wants to do everything within his power to safeguard our citizens, so long as "everything" does not include looking at someone's library records, or seizing their bank records. And no, he's not being indecisive.

Now that's some serious Splunge!

And on gay marriage?

Well, once again, it's a very complex issue. (Aren't they all?) He does not support gay marriage, but he supports civil unions which are identical in all but name. He wants to "let the states decide," but he "bravely" voted against the law (DOMA) which would allow each state to actually decide, rather than having another state's decision forced upon it through operation of the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause. His position is exactly the same as Dick Cheney's, although Dick Cheney is a vicious homophobe that gays and gay-friendly independents certainly shouldn't vote for. They should vote for Kerry, because he is more progressive on these issues, although, remember, he has the exact same position as Cheney. If you want to get to the right of Kerry on gay marriage, you can't, because he's right on the far right with Dick Cheney; if you want to get to the left of him, you also can't, because he's very progressive and interested in equality for gays, which Cheney isn't.

A hat-trick Splunge!

The liberal media is fond of deeming Kerry's Hamlet act "complex" or "nuanced." The implication is that he is a deep, serious thinker, unlike that Yee-Haw six-gun shootin' cowboy arriviste in the Oval Office.

But his positions aren't "complex." They're simply incoherent. And they are calculatedly so.

He does not announce his various incoherencies to share his thinking with the American voters, but rather to hide it from them. His statements are not clear announcements designed to enable voters to make an informed choice about his candidacy, but rather deliberately inconsistent ones calculated to deny voters the opportunity to make that informed choice.

His "complexity" and "nuance" are entirely contrived and artificial. They're not positions-- they're simply positionings.

Being pro-war is a position.

Being anti-war is a position.

Being both pro- and anti-war, pro-peace but pro-preemption, anti-terrorist but not overly so is not a position. It's purely a positioning, the public-policy equivalent of the square root of negative one, imaginary and fanciful if occasionally useful for a specific purpose (in this case: to get John Kerry elected).

There are several large questions, and one absolutely critical question, facing America over the course of the next decade.

Unfortunately for Senator Kerry, the answer to none of those questions is Splunge!

But unfortunately for our nation and our world, the American public is not above occasionally believing that Splunge! is a real and legitimate answer.

See 1992.

Larry Saltzberg, unfortunately an American voter.


Bush Edges Upwards in Polls 

Job approval back up to 52% after having fallen to 44%; edges Kerry 49-48 after having fallen behind.

It's going to be a close one, unfortunately.

These polls are heartening for anyone concerned with America's security and remaining steadfast in the War on Terror, however. One analyst (perhaps Fred Barnes) suggested that Kerry's big bump was partially due to a very early "convention bounce" effect.

That is, because Kerry had suddenly come out of nowhere to become a political winner (at least inside the Democratic party), he was effectively receiving the wave of favorable coverage usually reserved for convention time, and therefore part of his rise in the polls could be deemed as ephemeral as most post-convention bounces (or most post-SOTU bounces).

We should remember that Democrats originally were mildly positive towards Kerry because they thought he could beat Bush; then they despised him as they grew to know his waffling and evasive style and fundamental lack of character or principled conviction; and then they grew to lukewarmly approve of him when they again decided, sheep-like, that he could beat Bush.

In other words, it seems the thing that Democrats like about Kerry isn't Kerry, but that they think he can beat Bush.

Which is fine.

But independents in the general election aren't supporting candidates because they think they could beat an opponent. They support candidates because they actually like them and their policies.

Democrats already know they want Bush out of office; so "ability to beat Bush" is a key consideration. Independents are not sure they want Bush out office-- that case needs to be made to them.

Kerry can't just tell swing votes "I can beat Bush." Of course he could beat Bush-- if swing voters embrace him. The question swing voters ask is, "Why should I give you my vote so that you can beat Bush?"

We wonder if Kerry is the man to do it. He sure wasn't persuading anyone over the past year on any substantive issue; he only sold his "electability."

Is anyone out there, liberal or no, persuaded by Kerry on any point at all?

What precisely does the man actually stand for? It's a mystery. His core political belief seems to be that he should always avoid any statement, vote, or position which could give rise to the suspicion that he has core political beliefs at all.

(Apart from being a Massachusetts liberal. He's obviously that-- he just doesn't want voters to know this fact.)

Josh Marshall Has Hisself a Little Snit! 

Marshall is particuarly funny today. He's been flogging this AWOL story for a year or more, as passionately as any shut-in hyperpartisan leftist jackass on the interent.

Given that we now have conclusive documentary evidence disproving Marshall's little pet theory, he indulges in several laughably-transparent defensive mechanisms.

First, he quotes McClellan press conference at great length, never pointing out specifically what point the reader is supposed to derive from the lengthy exchange. Marshall implies it's proof of something; he leaves it up to the reader to figure out precisely what.

It's pretty transparent. When your case is in tatters, pound the table, and just start throwing shit against the wall.

The fact that the quote is so lengthy -- ridiculously lengthy, really -- helps to 1) bury his mistakes in verbiage and 2) convince the casual reader that gee, there must be something in that long exchange, even if the reader doesn't bother actually reading through it at all.

Next up:

He strongly hints that the AWOL case is as strong as ever, without explaining precisely how that could possibly be:

A couple quick points. First, if you're following this Bush military service issue, you should be reading Kevin Drum's column. Kevin's all over the nitty-gritty details of the relevant documents. And while some of his points -- as he himself says -- remain speculative, he's on a trail that could turn this whole story upside-down.

What is this "trail" Kevin Drum is on, a "trail" which could "turn this whole story upside-down"?

Beats us. We read Drum (Calpundit), and we have little idea of what he's getting at. He claims the unit Bush was in was a either a "paper unit" or a "disciplinary unit." Well, even if that's the case, he was still serving. And we're not given to taking this Internet Detective's word on things at this point.

Perhaps Marshall refrains from explaining Calpundit's claims because they are so thin and speculative and, frankly, incoherent. Marshall figures if he can just imply that Calpundit's got a great, coherent theory, you'll buy it.

Just don't bother to actually try to pin that theory down, or explain it to your friends.

Finally, Marshall is so bruised by being proven wrong he types up this little sour-grapes snit:

Given the president's record as a businessman, and since he's now run the country hopelessly into debt, isn't it about time he sells the country off to some rich friends who will swallow the loss so he can move on to greener pastures?

Ahhhhh...! That's Bush's scheme-- he's going to "sell[] the country off!"

And that's the sum and entirety of that post-- that's the scary-important thought he just had to commit to electrons and pipe out all over the world.

Seems to us that someone is nursing a badly wounded little ego and is lashing out a bit.

What a nasty piece of work.

Give It a Rest, Idiots 

Here is the torn document showing Bush's reserves record for the alleged "AWOL" period.

Note that the document shows service throughout the period in question. Josh Marshall, Calpundit, and other lefties have been claiming that, because the document is torn and the name illegible, it is probably from someone else's file, and thus proves nothing.

This despite the fact that the Social Security Number at the top of the page, while blacked out, is of course readable in the original, and therefore would instantly prove that it is Bush's record -- or that it is not.

Is Bush so stupid and evil to attempt such a ludicrously-dangerous and easily-disproven deception? If you ask the right sort of leftist hacks, of course he is.

But whatever. There is no name on the document, although the "W" initial is suggestive. Perhaps the leftist hacks have some reason for skepticism... at this point.

We'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Seems charitable.

But along comes a copy of Bush's service record-- this time, INTACT, and with his full name and rank clearly visible. The pristine document matches the torn document perfectly:

Well! That should end the speculation, yes-yes? After all, the predicate for the earlier dubiousness was the fact that the earlier document was torn and therefore not proveably Bush's. Now we have an intact, pristine copy of the document, and it says precisely the same thing.

But no.

Calpundit and Josh Marshall are true Internet Detectives, and they see further skullduggery afoot. Calpundit opines:

"Either you accept these ARF records as evidence of attendance at National Guard Drills or you don't. If you do, then they show Bush attending drills in late 1972 and then all the way from January through July of 1973. If you don't, then they don't show anything.

"My guess is the latter: they don't show much of anything related to the National Guard. Rather, they are records of something that counted as drills in the Air Reserve, although it's not clear what."

So: The entire reason for past skepticism is yanked away from you, like a carpet beneath your feet.

The evidence is destroyed. The conclusion, ostensibly based on that evidence, survives, not only perfectly intact, but arguably increased in intensity.

Now Bush is perhaps guilty of forging DOD records!

After all-- how do you explain his records showing that the did what he said he did all along, to wit, serving his time in the Guard?

Once you eliminate the answer "Because he did serve his time in the Guard" -- as Calpundit and Marshall so clearly do, right out of the gate -- what other possibility remains but that there is a massive cover-up going on here?

It could be that Bush has been lying for thirty years and has recruited numerous clerks in the Pentagon to forge him up some old documents to cover his "AWOL" status.

Or it could be that Bush has actually been telling the truth, and that the documents are genuine, and that all this endless speculation based on one torn document was for naught, given that we now have the complete document.

Which have Calpundit and Marshall chosen?

Hint: Leftists never confess error. If it appears that they're wrong, that's probably just because you're just too stupid to understand what's really going on. (And what's really going on is this: They're right, facts be damned.)

UPDATE: Internet Detectives are still busy on the case!

Compare both versions of the document. At the top right hand side, where it lists Bush's unit as L9 etc.

See that?

Compare the unit-designations for both.

What does each say?

Well, one says L9CMPY. The other says... the exact same thing, although one could question whether the "M" on either is actually an "H."

That's sort of what happens to old documents, probably which have been transferred to microfiche and back again. They gain a little extra blackness in a letter, or lose some.

Now, an ordinary person would just sort of assume that whether Bush's unit is L9CHPY or L9MPY, it's the same on both; if it appears to be different on one, it's due to an artifact of re-copying. M's and H's are pretty damn similar looking.

But not Calpundit, who is an Internet Detective of the first order. He thinks the unit-designations are actually DIFFERENT on the documents! Not an unclear letter, but two different letters!

There's nothing necessarily unusual about this [making a side point about where the records were found], aside from the fact that the torn document designates Bush's unit as L9CHPY and the Denver version designates it as L9CMPY. I don't know if there's any significance to this.

Hey! Calpundit! Let us suggest a possibility to you which you apparently have dismissed as too incredible to contemplate:

It's the same effing letter on both documents, moron.

You're looking at a copy of a thirty-year-old photostat. You're looking at a little artifact of copying, either a little extra blackness in one or a little less in the other -- not two entirely different letters.

Step out of the Interenet Dectective Agency office for two minutes and take in the sweet air of reality.

A Jaw-Dropping Confession of Media Bias 

Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.

The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war -- in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.

It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.

It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.

It believes President Bush is "walking a fine line" with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between "tolerance" and his "right-wing base."

It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush's base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him -- and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.

Of course, the swirling Joe Wilson and National Guard stories play right to the press's scandal bias -- not to mention the bias towards process stories (grand juries produce ENDLESS process!).

The worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.

From ABC's "The Note." Via Instapundit.


This is all conservatives are ultimately asking for: admission of guilt. We know you're going to continue spinning for the liberals and, while we might say we'd like more balanced coverage, we know we will never get it.

So what we're asking for really is just the simple admission that you do what you obviously do.

But the liberal media is like a spouse caught in bed with a hooker. We never get "I'm sorry" or "I'll try to be better in the future." We only get these incredible denials of the obvious. "You gonna believe me, or your own lyin' eyes?"

Take this Idiot, For Example 

This jackass was singing a different tune three days ago.

Three days ago, he was favorably citing another blogger for the following proposition: That even if military records were incomplete, as they often are, there will be proof other places, if it exists, that Bush served. There will be pay records, which are much more well kept than military call sheets.

Thus, this moron concluded three days ago: If Bush really served, there will be pay records of him being paid, which will prove it. If he didn't serve, there will not be pay records of him being paid.

Because, at that time, he didn't expect pay records to show up. He figured Bush skipped out on his service.

So: Let us recap. Three days ago, military pay records were urged by this jagoff as the Rosetta Stone of proof of service. Either you have them or you don't, he baited.

Well, it turns out that Bush does have precisely those records.

His new spin: It's easy enough to play hooky and still get paid.

Oh? Is that right?

Tell me dear-- how many jobs have you not shown up for for a year and yet been paid throughout?

When he thought the records did not exist, the existence or non-existence of the records was completely determinative and probative, Q.E.D., case closed.

Now the records exist, proving him wrong... well, who cares about some stupid payroll records anyway? It proves nothing!

Truth No Longer AWOL 

What's amazing to us is how the left never lets go of a "theory." And don't expect them to let go of this one, either.

It should be pointed out that there has LONG been evidence that Bush served in the Guard during 1972. There was a torn document showing service throughout 1972; but Bush's name wasn't visible on the document.

His middle initiatial was visible, where you'd expect it to be, and there was social security number at the top of the page, which was said to be Bush's.

The left, however, began spinning like tops over this document, wondering "How do we know that's Bush's Social Security Number?," and hinting that the document probably came from someone else's file.

Well, now we have proof. Now all the records are in. Bush served, precisely when he said he did, all along.

Is that the end of the matter?

Of course not. The Globe article is subtitled, "But Time Frame Leaves Questions."

Note that it was the lack of clear documentation that begain the Bush AWOL theory. The lack of records gave rise to the suspicion.

Ergo, now that we have all of the records, the suspicions should lift, right?


This has happened a dozen times before. The left claims that Bush is guilty of crime Y; they cite "Fact" X as evidence of that. Later, it turns out that "Fact" X, predictably, isn't a fact at all; it is disproven. But Crime Y remains just as hysterically shrieked about as before. The fact that no evidence exists to prove Crime Y is viewed by the left as, at worst, a minor inconvenience; they'll just find proof for Crime Y somewhere else.

And if no proof can be found-- why, that's all the more evidence that Bush is covering up the evidence.

"Fertig called for an independent investigation. Noting that the new documents are contradicted by other public documents, and statements by Bush's Guard superiors, Fertig said the public has a right to know whether Bush received credit for duty he did not perform."

So. This whole silliness began when 30-year-old records turned out to be incomplete. Based on the lack of records, you accused Bush of being AWOL. Now there are multiple records proving he served.

Do you retract your charge?

But of course not. Now we simply shriek the charge in an even higher register. The fact that there is no longer even a hint of evidence for it just shows how devious Bush is.


Sorry, A Suspicious White Powder Turned Up in Our Offices 

With the Hazmat teams blundering through our luxurious 103rd-floor corporate offices, we're unable to blog today.

We'll be back tomorrow.

NOTE: We intended this as a deadpan joke. After thinking about it, we realized that "deadpan" doesn't necessarily come through the computer screen, especially not regarding "suspicious white powders."

So, let us clarify: There is no white powder in our offices, suspicious or otherwise. We're just busy.

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