Tuesday, July 20, 2004

[Israel] Two great articles in Salon about Richard Ben Cramer's new book:

Can Israel Be Saved?
"How Israel Lost" Book Review

Saturday, July 10, 2004

[US Politics] NYT- Florida List for Purge of Voters Proves Flawed:

Florida election officials used a flawed method to come up with a listing of people believed to be convicted felons, a list that they are recommending be used to purge voter registration rolls, state officials acknowledged yesterday. As a result, voters identifying themselves as Hispanic are almost completely absent from that list.

Of nearly 48,000 Florida residents on the felon list, only 61 are Hispanic. By contrast, more than 22,000 are African-American.
In a presidential-election battleground state that decided the 2000 race by giving George W. Bush a margin of only 537 votes, the effect could be significant: black voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, while Hispanics in Florida tend to vote Republican.
The paucity of Hispanic voters on the felon list was first reported Wednesday, by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but officials said then that the problem was not systematic. After The New York Times examined the data, state officials acknowledged that the method for matching lists of felons to those of voters automatically exempted all felons who identified themselves as Hispanic.

Hispanic Republicans outnumber Hispanic Democrats by about 100,000 voters in Florida. But more than 90 percent of the approximately one million registered blacks there are Democrats. The exclusion of Hispanics from the purge list explains some of the wide discrepancy in party affiliation of voters on the felon list, which bears the names of 28,025 Democrats and just 9,521 Republicans, with most of the rest unaffiliated.

Sarasota Herald Tribune- Hispanics missing from voter purge list

Tom Lyons- More Fla. democracy: Hispanic felons get to vote, and Jeb stays mum:
About 11 percent of Florida's prison population is Hispanic. So, what percentage of the voter purge list is Hispanic? Rounded off to the nearest percentage point, it is: zero.
That adamantly shouts that, at best, a huge mistake was made. Hispanics aren't just under-represented, or even amazingly under-represented. Statistically, they are gone.

I can't blame anyone who thinks this was engineered purposely. Florida's Hispanic voters traditionally tend to vote Republican in presidential elections, almost as reliably as black voters tend to support Democrats. A purge list with the expected percentage of black felons that omits almost all Hispanic felons is highly suspect. If blacks were absent from that list and Hispanics fully represented, you know what Republicans would say.
The state refused to release the list to newspapers and other groups that wanted to study it to see if it was really better than the wildly inaccurate list that became infamous for wrongly purging legitimate voters in 2000. It took a lawsuit to force the Division of Elections to turn over the 2004 purge list. Hours after getting a copy this week, reporters Doig and Davis saw what should have been obvious to those who put it together: Hispanics were overwhelmingly absent.
Gov. Jeb has made many a statement about his commitment to ending Florida's election nightmares. But when asked on Tuesday about this mysteriously unfair glitch, his spokeswoman was adamant: No comment from that office. It seems Jeb doesn't want to hear or talk about anything amiss in election land. That only fuels the unavoidable suspicion that bizarre election problems, accidental or not, still aren't considered a problem here if they help the governor's brother.

[Palestine] The Washington Post has an interactive feature with video on how Israel's wall is affecting the people.

Friday, July 09, 2004

[US Politics] NYT- Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed:

Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon. It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found ... The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.
The lost payroll records stored in Denver might have answered some questions about whether he fulfilled his legal commitment, critics who have written about the subject said in interviews.

"Those are records we've all been interested in," said James Moore, author of a recent book, "Bush's War for Re-election," which takes a critical view of Mr. Bush's service record. "I think it's curious that the microfiche could resolve what days Mr. Bush worked and what days he was paid, and suddenly that is gone."

But Mr. Moore said the president could still authorize the release of other withheld records that would shed light on his service record.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

[US Politics] The NY Daily News rightfully rips the NY Post for yesterday's embarassing front page:

Not since the Chicago Daily Tribune proclaimed "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN," in the 1948 presidential election, has there been such a colossal flub. Leave it to the New York Post to further tarnish its shoddy reputation with yesterday's front-page "exclusive" declaring John Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate.
The goof recalled the Post's "BUSH WINS!" front page the day after the 2000 presidential election — weeks before the Supreme Court decided the contest. It also brought back the tabloid's wild pitch of last October. Though the Yankees beat the Red Sox in the playoffs, the Post ran an editorial lamenting the Bombers' loss.

[US Politics] Instapundit rounds up the analysis of the Edwards VP pick from a Republican perspective.

Most Democrats are very happy with Kerry's choice. If it had been Gephardt, there would have been a letdown that it wasn't Edwards followed by explanations of why Gephardt was a good pick. Kerry-Edwards is a ticket that people can support enthusiastically.

The one place where I did find some unhappy Democrats were the Howard Dean supporters who wanted Dean as VP. I admire what Howard Dean did in invigorating the grass roots in his campaign but because of the media's negative portrayal of Dean, Edwards is definitely a better choice and his positive demeanor and populist message is appealing to voters, especially the undecided.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kerry-Edwards '04


[US Politics] Kerry made the right choice in picking John Edwards to be his running mate. There would have been disappointment and antipathy if it had been Gephardt. Edwards might even help him, especially in the South.

Text of Kerry's e-mail announcement to his supporters

(Photo: Reuters)

Dewey Defeats Truman!

[US Politics] Oops! This sort of thing is why I don't read the Post's "news" section.

Update: I'm glad I saved this. The NYPost has now removed this embarassing front page image and headline from their website.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Chicago Tribune- 50 Best Magazines and Best Magazines: Reader's Picks

Sunday, July 04, 2004

[US Politics] NYT Editorial:

People too often get the impression that the only people who use the nation's civil liberties protections are lawbreakers who were not quite guilty of the exact felony they were charged with. Perhaps we should thank the Bush administration for providing so many situations that demonstrate how an unfettered law enforcement system, even one pursuing worthy ends, can destroy the lives of the innocent out of hubris or carelessness.
Virtually every time the Bush administration feels cornered, it falls back on the argument that the president and his officials are honorable men and women. This is an invitation to turn what should be a debate about policy into a referendum on the hearts of the people making it. But this nation was organized under a rule of law, not a dictatorship of the virtuous. The founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights specifically because they did not believe that honorable men always do the right thing.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King ... is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

More ...

[NBA] Mark Cuban explains why he didn't re-sign Steve Nash. Whether you agree or disagree with the Mavs' decision, you have to respect his honesty in letting the fans in on his thought process. His blog is not only a great example of the power of this medium but also shows why he's one of the best and most interesting owners in sports today.

[US Politics] WP- A Clinton biographer reviews "My Life":

A skilled biographer, acknowledging the limitations of his craft, once noted that nine-tenths of a human life remains essentially unknowable to an outsider. It is uncharted land, hidden from view, experienced only in the mind of the individual. The truth of that statement is apparent enough when you think about your own daily existence and all the things that run through your consciousness that you never tell anyone, not even those closest to you.

What people do, where they go, whom they see, what they say, what they create, how they are shaped by the world around them and how they reshape that world -- all these parts of a life are known or can be known. The interior life, however, is harder for a biographer to discover, if not altogether impossible. The closest one gets to this subterranean territory is through oral interviews, diaries, letters and memoirs. Even then, navigating this terrain -- where the subject has a self-interest in creating a certain impression -- can be daunting. It was with these ideas in mind that I began reading "My Life," Bill Clinton's autobiography.

[Blogging] Steve Rubel has breakfast with Gawker Media's Nick Denton and lists a few keys to blog success. Excerpt:

1) It's All in the Name
Clever names are what gives each of Gawker's blogs their brand essence. Nick told me that he and his team of writers and designers spend an extraordinary amount of time coming up with blog names. Once they come up with one, Nick and his team then create content and design for the site that will build the brand personality. In my opinion, very few blogs do this as well as Gawker does.

Saddam on Trial

[Iraq] Roundup of coverage of Saddam Hussein's preliminary hearing:

NYT- Hussein Faces His Reckoning: "How could these utterly unremarkable men, forgettable in any other context, have so tyrannized their 25 million countrymen that they remained unchallenged for 35 years?"

Counterpunch- Transcript of Saddam's Arraignment

Robert Fisk- Saddam in the Dock

Robert Fisk- Pentagon tried to censor coverage of Saddam's hearing

Friday, July 02, 2004

[HK Politics] I was at the July 1 march for democracy yesterday. It was encouraging to see so many people united in their desire and demand for democracy. EastSouthWestNorth has a good roundup of the events. 530,000 people marched. That's a large number in any situation but especially significant in HK, which only has a population of around 7 million people.

[Sports] Slate- The Capitalism of Soccer:

When you look at the business of professional sports—in both Europe and the United States—American sports are virtually all socialistic while the European soccer leagues more closely resemble the entrepreneurial capitalism we Americans fetishize ... Every year, the worst-performing teams—three in England, four in Italy—check out. Relegated, they must play the following year in the next-lower division. Meanwhile, ambitious upstarts who have succeeded at lower levels check in. They are promoted.
By contrast, the American professional leagues are like a Marriott Residence Inn—once you're allowed to check in, you never have to leave. There's no great punishment for consistently propping up the standings year after year. Yes, the market value of losing teams often suffers in comparison to those of winning teams. But once you're a member of the cartel, there's a floor under the price.
To different degrees, Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA are examples of European-style socialism among billionaires and Fortune 500 companies. They share revenues, tightly regulate admission to the cartel, and bargain collectively with powerful European-style unions, which act as barriers against reform. Losers not only can prosper, but they get first dibs on next year's crop of talent. In America, someone who wishes to start a major-league sports team, or who wants to upgrade a minor-league team into a major-league one, is essentially out of luck. Not so in Europe.
The European system rewards ambition and ruthlessly punishes sloth and incompetence ... In Europe, the successful and rich teams grow richer. (For assembling and stockpiling talent, the New York Yankees have nothing on Spain's Real Madrid.) The poor get poorer, some teams fail entirely, and those intent on self-improvement have an opportunity every year to rise above circumstances.

[NBA] News in brief:

Dallas loses Steve Nash to the Suns: " They also might have lost whatever hope they had left to get Shaquille O'Neal."

Coach K to Lakers?: "ESPN's Jay Bilas reports that Lakers free agent guard Kobe Bryant has made it clear to the team that he wants Krzyzewski to be his next coach."

David Aldridge highlights the top free agents.

Given that Nash has been dangled as trade bait for Shaq, I'm not too surprised that he agreed to sign with Phoenix. However, I am surprised that Dallas let him get away with nothing in return. They don't have anyone of his caliber to replace him at point guard and they also needed him in any possible deal for Shaq. If they want Shaq now, they'll probably have to give up Nowitzki.

As for Mike Krzyzewski, Shaq would probably prefer Tomjanovich, who has previously coached Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming. Unfortunately, whatever Kobe wants, Kobe gets these days. Coach K would bring some excitement to the team next year though as people will definitely be curious as to how he does.

[Tour de France] The Associated Press has an informative flash-based guide to the Tour de France. One thing I didn't know is that each stage is not connected to the last. I always thought it was a continuous tour but it actually jumps from place to place, even flying by plane.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

[US Politics] Slate looks at the "instant reviews" of President Clinton's autobiography and asks "Can you really review a 957-page book in 24 hours?". Turns out most reviewers didn't really read the whole thing.

[US Politics] Drudge quotes a "top D.C. insider" who thinks Kerry will choose Hillary Clinton as his VP.

The Democrats feel like health care is the domestic issue. But how to make it the dominant topic of conversation -- break through war and terrorism? Hillary Clinton. She catapults it out front with her commission ... So now you have the number two person on the ticket who is a 'health care expert' ... By the way, it puts prescription drugs on the back burner, the Republicans health care ace. You will have a fully engaged national debate on health care from now until the election.
The Democrats economic plan is to say Bush sucks, it's never enough, we must get back to the Clinton Era when 22 million jobs were created. You can't do much better at making that point then-- Kerry/Clinton 2004.
But what about impeachment and Monica -- wont that overshadow her being picked? It' now been covered in the book. Not only that, but she is a women scorned who has dealt with what so many American women deal with and stuck it out to keep her family together. And Whitewater? It's in the book. Vince Foster? Book. Billing records, White House travel Office? Book, book. All have been covered. All Republican slime tactics.

This sounds OK. With the recent hype about President Clinton's book, it's clear there's still a lot of love for them. She would be a strong candidate and it would also position herself for a run in 2008 or 2012. Announcing Clinton as VP would be a big surprise. Whereas there might be disappointment if Gephardt or Vilsack were picked instead of Edwards, picking Clinton would generate a lot of excitement. The only issue is what effect does she have on swing voters? My feeling is the Clintons remain highly popular with middle America. These voters also care most about the economy. Healthcare? Perhaps. In any case, this pairing would indeed probably turn the focus to the domestic agenda. A good move if they think they can beat Bush on that issue.

[Iraq] Stuart Hughes:

As I sat there, headphones clamped to my ears and listening to the news conference, the temptation to speak out was overwhelming. What would happen, I wondered, if I removed my artificial leg, waved it in front of Bush and Blair, and proclaimed "See this. This is the outcome of your war. Iraq may have been liberated, but I -- and hundreds of others like me -- will be burdened with this artificial limb every day for the rest of my life because of the conflict you created."