Sunday, January 30

Laugh at my low IQ.

It took me nearly a month, but I finally figured out how to use TrackBacks. (Look at me! I'm on Power Line!)

In fact, I signed up for them myself, using HaloScan, so now at the end of each post there's two measures of how many people aren't reading instead of just one.


Blue Fingers

Do you remember the feeling you had the first time you voted? For me, it was a small measure of civic pride, but I never got the feeling that I was participating in history, probably because it was a midterm election and the upticket races were never in any doubt.

But if you magnify that by a hundred — no, a thousand, perhaps more — you have the awesome honor that Iraqis had yesterday when they voted, in a region where the entire concept of democracy is new. Look at some of the pictures, especially those with the voters holding up a single index finger marked blue to show they voted (what a great idea! Paging King County . . .). I'll bet you didn't see similar looks of patriotic pride after one of Saddam Hussein's many bogus "elections." The contented delight on each of their faces is infectious, their blue fingers each symbolizing democracy's core idea of the singular power of many, many individuals. (I wonder what the Arabic translation of e pluribus unum is.)

Early estimates say that nearly three-quarters of Iraq's eligible voters now have blue fingers. Imagine that. That's a higher percentage than Americans who got cheesy "I Voted!" buttons. And consider that we get to drive to polling places; cars were banned from ballot stations in Iraq for security reasons, which means that every last voter risked being a sitting duck for the brutal "insurgents" whose final, desperate hope was to keep as many of them from expressing themselves as possible.

Perhaps nobody captured the feeling better than Mohammed and Omar from IraqTheModel:
How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?"
Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?
Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.

The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis s far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.
I can only humbly echo that voice, but I'm happy to do it. This is your victory, Mohammed and Omar. Savor it all your lives, on behalf of me and everyone else for whom voting seems routine and dull.


Mark Steyn Is A Genius, Edition II

Another dose of brilliance from Mark Steyn: "Iraq is going to be just fine"
The "realpolitik" types spent so long worshipping at the altar of stability they were unable to see it was a cult for psychos. The geopolitical scene is never stable, it's always dynamic. If the Western world decides in 2005 that it can "contain" President Sy Kottik of Wackistan indefinitely, that doesn't mean the relationship between the two parties is set in aspic. Wackistan has a higher birth rate than the West, so after 40 years of "stability" there are a lot more Wackistanis and a lot fewer Frenchmen. And Wackistan has immense oil reserves, and President Kottik has used the wealth of those oil reserves to fund radical schools and mosques in hitherto moderate parts of the Muslim world. And cheap air travel and the Internet and ATM machines that take every bank card on the planet and the freelancing of nuclear technology mean that Wackistan's problems are no longer confined to Wackistan. For a few hundred bucks, they can be outside the Empire State Building within seven hours. Nothing stands still. "Stability" is a fancy term to dignify laziness and complacency as sophistication.


I can admit when I'm wrong.

On Friday I stated that continuing my feature called Translations would be a bad idea because twist-fisking certain things, like Ted Kennedy's recent speech on Iraq, would be inappropriate and not really all that funny.

I was half-right. Blog-satirist Iowahawk delivered a wickedly inappropriate but blisteringly funny parody of Kennedy's bloviating (via LGF):
Like all Americans, I had high hopes for the future of the Oldsmobile and its passengers, as we struggle against the onrushing water and its poorly-designed shoulder belts. But as claustrophobia sets in we must begin to sober up and face the truth: hope is no longer an option.

It is time for us to recognize that our continued presence in this volatile region is a hinderance to the Oldsmobile and its people. Rather than helping the situation we are further weighing down the Oldsmobile, causing it to sink faster and faster into the quagmire of Chappaquidick Bay, creating a dangerous situation for both ourselves as well as its passengers who are desperately seeking an air pocket in which to start a better life.
It's a devastating blow to my idea.

But that's why he's him, and I'm me.


Sosa Trade: Good Or Bad?

ESPN's major league baseball pundits are weighing in on the likely Sammy-to-Baltimore deal. Jayson Stark laments that it had to happen this way but approves of the trade:
We'll almost certainly never know now what the 2005 Cubs would have been with Sammy Sosa. But we do know this:

It's best for everybody that they'll never have to find out.

It was barely a week ago that Sosa's image appeared on the big screen at the annual Cubs Convention, during a showing of the 2004 highlight video. You've probably heard by now what happened next.
(Boos. Lots of 'em.)
On the other hand, Chicago Tribune sports columnist Phil Rogers makes a couple good points when he figures out why the organization would "dump" a Hall Of Famer for a utility guy and two aging prospects:
The simple fact is that manager Dusty Baker convinced Hendry and Cubs president Andy MacPhail his team would be better with Sosa elsewhere when drills begin in Mesa, Ariz., and the front office gave Baker what he and many of his players wanted: Some peace and quiet, albeit at a record price. This deal happened because the Cubs agreed to pay more than $10 million of Sosa's 2005 salary -- an offer that played right into Peter G. Angelos' wheelhouse.
Ten million dollars is a lot to eat out of a contract, especially if you're going to pay someone $17 million to play. But what would the Cubs have gained for that extra seven mil? Rogers asks, "Can they really be better without Sosa, who averaged 41 homers and 97 RBI over the last three years -- not bad numbers for a guy in decline." He took the three-year average because it inflates Sammy's numbers. Here's the real story:

2002: 150 games, .288 BA, 49 HR, 108 RBI
2003: 137, .279-40-103
2004: 126, .253-35-80

Let's dig a little deeper:

2002: 150 games, 103 BB, 144 SO
2003: 137 games, 62 BB, 143 SO
2004: 126 games, 56 BB, 133 SO

I can live with Sosa racking up 150+ whiffs per year if he makes up for it by getting lots of hits and walks. But he's striking out at higher clips and walking/hitting at lesser ones. Think about that when you read this, from Stark:
Nevertheless, when that wild-card lead was disappearing on them last summer, they clearly figured out something very telling about their baseball team:

You don't make the playoffs -- and you don't win the World Series -- just by lofting 235 home runs into the Wrigley breezes. But you can sure do that if Mark Prior and Kerry Wood combine for 35 wins -- as opposed to 35 DL visits . . .

And you can sure do that if, every once in a while, you manufacture a run instead of pitching a tent on the basepaths until somebody pounds one off a brick wall on Waveland Avenue . . .

So the Cubs needed to subtract that approach as much as they needed to subtract Sammy himself.
Did the Cubs dump Sosa for far less than market value? Well, yeah. But it had to be done. The Cubs needed to get faster and smarter (and, even though nobody's really mentioning it, younger); furthermore, they needed to learn what many other winning clubs have: the benefits of keeping overpaid crybabies around isn't worth the cost, in terms of salary or team chemistry. Sosa bristled at such hardships as being moved to the 6-hole. But when you can only drive in runs, especially with homers, and can't set the table by getting on base, the 6-hole is where you'll wind up. I'd rather he be in Baltimore's 6-hole than Chicago's, and I'd gladly eat the $10 million to do it.

However, if what Rogers implies is true, I don't care for the ironfisted managerial skills of Dusty Baker. I thought, and still think, that Baker more than anyone else, including Steve Bartman, cost the Cubs their World Series shot in 2003. Now that he has his lineup feng shui, let's hope Hendry can come through with some worthwhile free agent pickups (please, GOD, not Jeromy Burnitz).

But with St. Louis still owning the Central and the Astros omnipresent, it's a long road to slog.


Saturday, January 29

Sosa to Baltimore?

Yes, I'm a Cubs fan. Yes, I'm somewhat angry at Sammy Sosa's actions at the close of last year. Yes, I think Sosa has peaked and is not worth the $17 million he's due to make this year.

But reports that he'll be traded to Baltimore still sadden me. Sosa was the face of the Cubs for more than a decade, and even if you think, as I have, that his skills are in decline (and after BALCO, plus the corked-bat incident, God only knows what the implications are for his magical 60-homer years), the Cubs relied on Sammy Sosa for their success the last few seasons. Now Moises Alou has left, and Sosa's evidently gone.

While the pitching is still there, I fear the window may be closing for a championship run.


Even more Noonan.

Columnist and telepundit Lawrence Kudlow absolutely shreds Peggy Noonan in an RCP column. James Frederick Dwight at Soxblog suggests, albeit with reservations, that Noonan might be suffering from professional jealousy (via TKS).

For my money, I think Kudlow goes maybe one step too far. Here's where I disagree with him:
Noonan suggests that the overthrow of dictators and would-be tyrants would unleash ugly garbage, creating bigger messes. That’s exactly the balance-of-power détente-ism that failed so miserably in the 1970s before Reagan put and [sic] end to it. It’s the so-called realist perspective that led us nowhere in the 1990s as presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, on the advice of their key advisors, refused to take stern action against terrorist-harboring dictatorship states. It was precisely this failure that led to the 9/11 attacks. Lob an occasional bomb or two? Coddle the terrorist-harboring dictators? That’s the realism that George W. Bush has pledged his presidency to stop.
He's overreaching, just as Noonan and a host of others did when they read Bush's speech as a wish to immediately overthrow tyranny absolutely and everywhere.

Noonan said that "certain" leaders act as "garbage-can lids." This is undoubtedly true, and the U.S. is forced to deal with such states because they have to. Bush has cozied up to Saudi Arabia's decrepit tyrannical regime so often it makes me want to puke. But the alternative to them right now — even more noxious Wahhabi fundamentalism — is clearly worse. Surely Kudlow knows this.

But here's the thing: if tomorrow, two million freedom-loving Saudi activists staged a revolution, George W. Bush would either assist them openly, or be only too happy to watch the House of Saud and all its 7000+ princes fall. That's the anti-realpolitik that Noonan liked when Reagan preached it, but doesn't like from George W. Bush.

The rest of Kudlow's analysis is spot on: Noonan must have watched a different speech from the rest of us. I argued it through the Kennedy inaugural she loved so much, but Kudlow is much more direct and it's excellent.


Friday, January 28

Marchand Chronicles UPDATE: Hello, Noonan

Last week, former Reagan/Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan critiqued President Bush's inaugural address in The Wall Street Journal. While I disagreed with her analysis, I thought she made some fair points.

Yesterday, she revised and extended her remarks. And now I think she's way off. The money point:
[The address] was badly thought . . . most inaugural addresses are rather badly written, and I would know. We haven't had a truly great one since 1961, 44 years ago. In this case the document seems to me to bear hard the personal mark of the president, and not of writers. But it is not the plain-talking Bush we know so well. It is Bush trying to be fancy. It is a tough man who speaks the language of business, sports and politics trying to be high-toned and elegant.
I admire her reluctance to toot her own horn in this regard, but let's come back to one point: 1961. That was Kennedy's inaugural. As I'm sure I harped on enough, Bush's speech is EXACTLY like JFK's, aside from contextual and oratory differences. Let's count the ways, shall we:

1. The world has changed.
Kennedy: "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life."
Bush: "After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical — and then there came a day of fire. We have seen our vulnerability — and we have seen its deepest source."

2. Our principles haven't changed.
Kennedy: "And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
Bush: "From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth."

3. Therefore, we must stand up for freedom worldwide.
Kennedy: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge—and more."
Bush: "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

4. This will not be achieved solely by military might.
Kennedy: "Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are . . ."
Bush: "This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."

5. This will be a long, possibly neverending, campaign.
Kennedy: "All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."
Bush: "The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it."

6. This is a moral obligation.
Kennedy: "[W]e pledge our best efforts to help [the unfree] help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
Bush: ". . . The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."

7. Statements to others.
Kennedy, in order, addressed portions of his speech to traditional allies; new allies in the free world; citizens of unfree nations; the republics of Central and South America (the Monroe Doctrine at work); the United Nations; and "those nations who would make themselves our adversary," mentioning none of them by name.
Bush, in order, addressed portions of his speech to citizens of unfree nations; "democratic reformers" in unfree nations; the "rulers of outlaw regimes" and "leaders of governments with long habits of control," mentioning none of them by name; and traditional allies.

We reach a schism here, which I'll detail later.

8. Our efforts will lead to a better world.
Kennedy: "I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."
Bush: "[B]ecause we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well — a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world."
(Note the identical imagery of liberty as fire.)

9. This task will need brave volunteers to serve.
Kennedy: "In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty."
Bush: "All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself — and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character."

Another schism here, but it really isn't.

10. This will be our true legacy for future generations.
Kennedy: "With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own." (Oh, no! He mentioned God!)
Bush: "From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"

(In my essay, I said that Bush's speech had "no less than eight" nods to Kennedy's. There's ten big ones and I can certainly find more.)

The problem Noonan has is that she lauds Kennedy's inaugural but doesn't care for Bush's. Fine. Kennedy's speech ranks among the greatest given by anyone in the 20th Century, and Bush sounds a little like he's copying off JFK's test sheet. Given the two, I'd take Kennedy's as well. But every criticism she makes of Bush's speech —not enough emphasis on domestic policy, it mentions God too much, it's too abstract, it commits us to the impossible — goes equal or double for Kennedy's. On the big ideas, they're basically the same speech. But Kennedy's is "great" and Bush's is "badly thought."

Now the differences: first, Kennedy appealed to cooperation with the Soviet Union and its satellites; Bush issues tough talk to our enemies. Noonan doesn't care. She openly dismisses the "kissing Brezhnev" policy of the Cold War, which dates back to Kennedy and this speech, though she doesn't acknowledge it. She lauds the "new and stark candor" of Ronald Reagan's approach to the USSR but thinks Bush's sternness is dangerous. "The temperature of our world is very high," she says, with emphasis, in her column. But how high was it in 1961?

The second is that Kennedy's only mention of any domestic issue at all is incredibly subtle: one reference to "North and South" in asking for an alliance to take on the world's problems. Bush openly derides racism and its "baggage" and calls for an "ownership society." But in a way, that harkens back to the most famous part of Kennedy's speech: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

I love Peggy Noonan, and avidly read her columns. But she's wrong on this one. Way wrong. Her defense of Kennedy's address only proves it.


Lost Translations

I've decided after some thought to ax Translations from the Marchron lineup.

For one, it's just tough to find things that fit the criteria. I planned on it being a twist on a fisking, but you can't just whack any old thing that comes down the pike. The reason why fisking is called "fisking" is because Robert Fisk's articles combined factual inaccuracy with exquisite moral condescension, a package that screamed for somebody to expose their idiocy point-by-point. David Von Drehle's Washington Post article had that last week, and I'd like to think I scissored him up pretty good. But items like that only come around sporadically. I don't wade too far into the murky depths of the left-wing cesspool; I don't currently have a blood pressure condition and I'd like to keep it that way. So I have to get it through my usual channels or not at all.

Here's a good example: the only thing I found that remotely looked promising this week was a transcript of Ted Kennedy's speech on Iraq at Johns Hopkins (via RCP), but the substantive things would take time I don't have for research to rebut, and I'd feel weird pausing every paragraph to say "ha ha, alcohol, overweight, Mary Jo Kopechne, hardy har har." Say what you want about Ted Kennedy — I'm certainly no fan of the guy — but that speech is the wrong time and place to dress him down. (Ew.)

(That 1994 speech in which Kennedy sounded like he was chewing on his own tongue, repeated on Rush Limbaugh ad nauseam? It's still fair game.)

Second, I feel uncomfortable putting words in someone else's mouth. For some purposes, like jokes, I don't feel so bad. But I certainly wouldn't want someone else transcribing every word I wrote and twisting it to make me look like an SS guard in the Neocon Cabal. There's a danger of, as Geraghty warned, imparting too much of my own viewpoints into what was said. By using words such as "sounds like" and "seems" or by asking rhetorical questions, I can impart any dastardly emotion I want into any statement made and still maintain some plausible deniability. "I like puppies." That sounds like "I hate cats." He seems like someone who tosses cats over a balcony for kicks. Does he really want to murder sweet innocent kitties? Lord knows I subjected myself to plenty of that reading the left's straw-clutching following President Bush's inaugural speech. I don't want this to be the blogging equivalent of someone saying "I'm just sayin'": "I ain't sayin' she's ugly, I'm just sayin' she really ain't that attractive."

I'm kicking around a few ideas for a replacement. I'll probably come up with something by the weekend.


How 'bout I just stop promising things??

They're bound to get wrecked by the constraints of my life . . . or whatever's passing for it.

The big surprise today was going to be my entry into Hugh Hewitt's popular Vox Blogoli bloggers' symposium. But, alas, no time, and Hugh closed the window for accepting entries. Shame, really. The subject matter was interesting. Go ahead and click the link anyway. Take a stroll 'round the blogosphere, hold it up to your ear and hear the ocean.

As for poker last night, I broke even: I busted out first in the 11-person tournament some buds and I hold every week, but made it back in a side tourney the losers established.

Here's your Special Presentation Consolation Prize: a free poker lesson!

You hold Q§/Qª in third position at a six-person table. The player in second position, who's smart but fairly loose, raises it to 200 with the blinds at 25/50 and everyone near their starting value of 2500 chips. If you're like me, you figure you have the best hand and want to make him pay to play a weaker one. I raised to 600, forcing everyone else out. The other player calls and the flop comes A¨/K¨/8©. He bets 400. What do you do?

You run like a chicken and fold as fast as possible. Yes, there was a chance that given his looseness, he could have been sitting on a pure draw or perhaps a pair of eights, but a bet of 400 just screamed "sucker bet" to me. He was hoping I had either an ace or a king (but not both) or a draw and would call him down. I showed my queens; he showed Kª/8¨, giving him bottom two pair. Had I raised, he would have put me on at least an ace, possibly aces up, and a flat call would have signaled a draw. A good bet on his part, but a better laydown on mine.

Shame I didn't hold on to that intelligence. On the very next hand, I'm dealt A§/Q§. Now he's under the gun and raises to 400 (did I mention he's loose?); this time I just called and everyone else again folded, staying out of our way. The flop comes K©/J©/6§. He bets 1500 and I, figuring he was simply taking advantage of table image (and probably little on tilt . . . okay, maybe a lot on tilt), went all-in.

He had another K¨/8§. I couldn't catch an ace or a 10 to make a straight and I was busted.

Got my revenge in the side tourney, though; he had K/8 offsuit in two consecutive hands and I beat him both times, once with 9¨/7¨ (paired the 7) and once with A§/J§ (ace-high held). The last one put him out of that tourney and guaranteed me a break-even night.

Okay, no more advice for free. We now return you to your regularly scheduled broken poli-blog promises.


Wednesday, January 26

Poker Night

Off to play some hold'em. I'll let you know how I did when I get back.

DOTW will be preempted tomorrow for a Special Presentation.


Screwed News: More Complaints Against 24

NAACP Objects To Role In 24
Mike Marchand
Screwed News
January 26, 2005

On the heels of objections by Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of ethnic stereotyping in FOX’s hit drama 24, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) now has a complaint.

“In brief scenes in the most recent episode of 24, a Muslim-American is accosted in his car by several people, one of whom is African-American,” said the organization in a press release. “The NAACP objects to this role on the grounds that such ignorant belittling does not portray African-Americans in a positive light.”

One NAACP member who wished his name not be used added, “For years, television shows have reserved the choice roles of bigoted idiots to white people, like Archie Bunker. While we applaud the diversity of the casting, we oppose the use of African-American actors to forward such views.”

Other interest groups representing cultures who some say have been slighted by 24 have not yet commented, such as the National Association for the Advancement of White Rednecks (NAAWR) and the Computer Geek Institute (CGI), but also conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation, who the show connects to a Department of Defense insider who is working with the terrorists.

24, in its fourth season, airs Monday nights at 9:00 pm Eastern on FOX.


Marchand Chronicles: Bush's Inaugural Speech

The Survival Of Liberty
Mike Marchand
The Marchand Chronicles
January 24, 2005

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. — George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005

No sooner did George W. Bush launch his second term with his inaugural speech, a high-minded paean to worldwide freedom, did the arbiters of Conventional Wisdom — who’ve always been wrong about him — try to discover his angle. Their conclusion: Bush had finally succumbed to the will of his dastardly “neoconservative” overlords, and that his call for democracy was a dangerous harbinger of military attacks against Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, France, Antarctica, Mars, et cetera.

It was as if they’d never heard an inaugural address before. Calls for an American-led journey to universal freedom are prominently featured in many inaugurals, most notably John F. Kennedy’s (in fact, if speechwriters were held to the same documentation standards as scholarly journal writers, Michael J. Gerson, who penned Bush’s speech, would owe no less than eight ibids to Kennedy’s oration). Perhaps at the time JFK’s opponents considered his idealism dangerous. With the benefit of four decades’ hindsight, George Will said the obligations involved led to the Vietnam War.

But it was silly to think that by uttering that line, Kennedy had committed us absolutely and always to freedom no matter what the cost. He undid that knot even before the speech ended, promising to work peacefully with the Soviet Union, not to overthrow it with guns blazing. And indeed, immediately after pledging the country to “the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” Bush qualified his statement: “This is not primarily the task of arms.”

The promotion of freedom around the world has been America’s calling for nearly a century; it’s been left to each individual president how best to apply it. This naturally leads to contradictions, as geopolitical realities on the ground cause us to rethink how to apply our diplomatic muscle, or even sometimes force us into relationships with unsavory nations. This leads to Complaint Number Two: that by compelling us to end tyranny everywhere, Bush had committed us to the impossible.

Strangely enough, this criticism was offered by conservative Bush supporter and former Reagan and George H.W. Bush speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who asserted that Bush’s team suffered from a fever of passion she called “mission inebriation.” Bush’s fervor for freedom, Noonan said, left her “yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance.” But even though Bush didn’t offer it in Kerryesque “yes-but” terms, there was subtle nuance in Bush’s speech. Take this key passage:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

This has been misinterpreted, even by people who should know better, like George Will: “The idea that the very survival of American liberty depends on the success of liberty everywhere suggests that America is more embattled and vulnerable than it was during the Cold War. Then the survival of liberty meant the containment of tyranny. Now, Bush says, the survival of liberty must involve the expansion of liberty until ‘our world’ is scrubbed clean of tyranny.”

If one examines the two Bush sentences separately, one finds nuance. “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” This may be arguable, but it’s the diplomatic mission statement of the Bush Doctrine: We are safer when places like Afghanistan and Iraq are free, and by establishing democracy in the broader Middle East, we can hope that their citizens will work on the constructive improvement of their nations rather than the destruction of ours. Will equates “other lands,” a veiled reference to those terrorism-sponsoring nations, with “everywhere,” which would be a clear overreach. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek believes the same when he rhetorically asks, “Is ending Burmese tyranny the urgent requirement of America’s security? Is battling Cuba’s decrepit regime the calling of our time?”

Well, no. But that gets us to the second half of Bush’s premise: “The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” Now he’s talking about the world, and, as he noted several times throughout the speech, the idea of human rights are not the sole dominion of America, but come from God. Or, for those adverse to Bush’s frequent invoking of the Almighty (like, again strangely, Peggy Noonan): Freedom is not just the American dream, but the universal dream.

Since the Bush Administration has used ending tyrannical regimes as a tactical strategy for halting the spread of terror for more than three years, it shocked some of those in the West Wing that people considered the President’s inaugural as a revolutionary new direction in foreign policy. Several White House insiders, including speechwriter Michael J. Gerson, rushed to tell the Washington Post that the address did not represent a shift in foreign policy. Bush’s opponents seized upon this and swung Complaints One and Two the opposite way for Complaint Number Three: well, he really didn’t mean it.

Perhaps no one personifies this rocketing from one extreme to the other like thorny Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. After misinterpreting the speech’s plan as “a long struggle to spread liberty throughout the world -- seemingly without any limits of geography, resources or time,” an “open-ended commitment,” and a “broad ambition,” he began his next column with “Perhaps I owe readers an apology.” For misreading the tea leaves? For failing to see the historical parallels between Bush’s speech and Kennedy’s address? For not understanding the nuances of the oration?

No, of course not. “It appears that I took its promise of an expansive campaign on behalf of democracy too seriously.” Dionne read the Administration’s clarification in the Post and considered it “spinning that all those lovely words didn’t mean quite as much as they seemed to have meant.” Well, not to you, at any rate.

But Bush does mean it; Afghanistan and Iraq are proof enough. In both instances military might was used and, instead of leaving the mess behind only to be forced to clean it up decades later, the U.S. has earnestly attempted to assist them toward the ranks of democratic nations. Georgia and the Ukraine are proof enough, too; in both the Rose and Orange Revolutions the U.S. provided backing that didn’t involve troops, but simply “standing with” them when they declared their own freedom (in the latter case, Bush did so despite the wishes of his ally and friend Vladimir Putin).

Bush meant it just like Kennedy meant it. If one thinks that Bush stepped way out on a limb calling for an end to tyranny, Kennedy’s speech called us to join the “struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” Talk about “broad ambitions.”

In the end, perhaps Complaint Number Two is right: Bush does want to achieve the impossible, or as Peggy Noonan termed it, “perfection in the life of man on earth.” If such idealism is naïve and dangerous, then perhaps the Constitution’s Preamble, which bound us to “form a more perfect Union” qualifies, too. John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush both understand that those ideals serve not just as our goal for ourselves, but as our duty to the world:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution . . . unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. (Kennedy)

Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government . . . Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time. (Bush)

George W. Bush has tied national security to national ideals, and in turn to international ideals. Perhaps his critics could find a way to assist this eternal challenge rather than quibble over the details in one speech.


That does it, I'm getting DSL.

So yesterday Blogger's service hiccuped as I was making my post. Afraid it might be lost in the ether, I retyped and posted the message again only to find that it did in fact go through. So then I deleted the second post.

Last night the server burped again as I was posting The Marchand Chronicles. But not to worry, it still went through, right? Of course not!

So here's that, about President Bush's inaugural speech, and then the inaugural Screwed News.

If you have loads of time, read this essay by John Lewis Gaddis about Bush's challenges in his second term. Gaddis is a Yale historian whose treatises about the Cold War I devoured relentlessly in college. You won't be disappointed.


Tuesday, January 25

I need to learn to write faster.

Or perhaps just shorter. The current Marchand Chronicles is heftier than I planned, and I still haven't finished it. I'll get it tonight after I clock out of the day job. No RE this week; Barnes & Noble's promise of three to eight days to stock the book I'm looking to review has turned out to be a lowball. I could just review America: The Book, but the way I feel about that can keep for a little while.

Oh, Lord, SIRIUS 9 is playing that stupid Nelly/Tim McGraw song. Et tu, Pulsus?


Monday, January 24

Good night, Johnny.

When I watched the final Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, the host fought back tears and so did I.

Yesterday, I cried alone.

I should be writing today's Marchand Chronicles right now. In fact, I should have wrote it yesterday, but I couldn't. I wanted to write about this. But I didn't feel it was appropriate because I didn't have the relationship, and yes it was a relationship, that so many millions of Americans had with him. I was 11 when he bid goodbye in 1992.

But the magical bind he had with all of his adult viewers was, from a kid's perspective, even more awe-inspiring. To me, that was what adults did; when company came over and the kids were sent to bed, they retired to a room and talked over a smoke and a highball (though of course those were eventually frowned upon on-camera). Johnny was able to reduce that to a one-on-one conversation with his guest, but it was all for the audience, both in-studio and at home, who couldn't possibly participate in the talk but somehow always could.

So on those rare occasions when I was allowed to watch, I did so with vigor. Adults watched Johnny and when I did, I felt like an adult. And somehow Johnny was all things to all people: Ed McMahon called him a brother, the regular guests and audience considered him a close friend, and to a kid he was the genial old uncle who let you in on the adult world with a wink and a smile. Johnny once asked a young Joey Lawrence whether he ever watched The Tonight Show, and Joey, with a child's unfiltered honesty, said "Usually when I'm up vomiting." This was hilarious to me, since many nights I was watching for that exact reason, too, and the comfort that came with sitting down to watch the show was so total that no matter how awful I felt I was never able to stay awake long enough to watch David Letterman afterwards.

Letterman, in what could perhaps be the smartest thing he's ever said, reacted to the news of Johnny's death by saying "All of us who came after are pretenders. We will not see the likes of him again." He or Jay Leno would have reacted to Joey Lawrence by trying to riff off it for an even bigger laugh; Johnny was big enough to react to unexpected zingers by letting the audience see him as the butt of the joke once in a while.

But what made him the King of Late Night? An endless stream of humorists have offered myriad reasons: his gentleness and humility; his quick wit; his charisma marked by permanent kindness. And they're all right, but there's a different reason: Johnny's comedy was steeped in the traditions of vaudeville, radio and early TV and he learned and borrowed from all of them. He was Groucho Marx and Red Skelton and Bob Hope all at the same time, five nights a week. Comedy was work to Johnny but he worked so hard at it that, like all of the legends of their fields, he made it effortless. Even in the twilight of his life, he still worked; former producer Peter Lassally said that Johnny occasionally wrote and sent monologue jokes to David Letterman, and he used them. Leno relies on idiots saying stupid things in "Jaywalking" for laughs; Letterman uses Rupert from the Hello Deli or Biff Henderson or his studio audience; but The Tonight Show wasn't With Johnny Carson, it was Johnny Carson, and Johnny Carson was the show. Nobody ever said they watched The Tonight Show. They watched Johnny Carson.

But Johnny's old-school experience tempered his personality as well as his work. He eschewed the spotlight as often as possible, preferring to let the guests shine. He would do anything for a laugh, but not in the abrasive fashion of today's more cutting-edge comics. When he left, he left for good, forgoing the neverending parade of farewell tours that plague aging entertainers. And when Worldwide Pants sent him the standard fee for all the jokes Letterman used, Johnny sent the checks right back.

This all culminated in The Look. Right after Joey Lawrence uttered the word "vomiting," the camera cut to a close-up of Johnny's face, and there was The Look. It's indescribable but instantly identifiable. America recognized it because when the dinner turned out like charcoal or the car got a flat tire in the rain or the kids bathed the dog and got water and suds everywhere, they had The Look, too. Everything has just gone completely unaccording to script, and from a distance, of either space or time, it's hilarious, but for just that moment it's a gulp of sour milk.

The best Look was when one of Jack Hanna's animals peed on him. How completely embarrassing, but yet in perspective, not that bad. Johnny went through three divorces and lost a son to an automobile accident, but in the moment that was the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen. But it was uproariously funny, and Johnny knew it but he couldn't show it; that would spoil the moment. So he put on The Look and let the audience laugh until they couldn't anymore.

It worked on Ed McMahon, too. One memorable moment featuring "Carnac," Johnny's huge-hat psychic, had the "prediction" of "Sis, Boom, Bah." When Carnac opened the envelope to reveal, "The sound of a sheep exploding," Ed completely lost it. And Johnny let him lose it, and let the audience lose it watching him. Any show that's come along in the last decade would not have; they'd have played off it and moved on. They're so convinced that they have to pack as much as possible in to hold viewers that they've lost the je ne sais quoi that Johnny Carson was all about.

Granted, Johnny had that leeway because he had an audience of millions and no real competition; but he also understood that humor comes both from the careful construct of jokewriting and the spontaneous moments. And he held those moments with the loose grip but steady control of a yo-yo artist, letting it hang as long as possible because he knew he couldn't manufacture anything as funny. The old showbiz adage says "Never work with children or animals," because of their unpredictability, but watch a DVD of Johnny's best moments and you'll find kids and critters running all over the studio. Because viewers connect with them. Because they make memories happen at home, Johnny made memories on his show with them.

For three decades Johnny cultivated his relationship with the audience like a master gardener does his perennials. Television doesn't work that way for anyone else; it constantly finds the new, the edgy, the zeitgeist, then burns it out and looks for something new. Lileks, in addition to echoing the kid/adult statement I made (okay, the other way around), says that Johnny wasn't hip. Of course not: "hip" implies both rebellion and evanescence; Johnny built his show to be the exact opposite, comforting and durable if sometimes imperfect.

Which is sad. Letterman said we won't ever see the likes of Johnny again, but that's due to the nature of entertainment that arose from the void he left as much as his unique talent. Johnny Carson married that talent to the time-honored traditions of comedy to create TV's perpetual motion machine. And in life, as in the medium, he was one of a kind.

Good night, Johnny. As America — and I — did so often when or after watching you, may you rest in peace.



Oh, and one final update: you can now hear me on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. But . . . I don't have a show. In fact, I don't even appear as a guest on someone else's show.

A couple weeks ago I put a request in to The Pulse, SIRIUS Channel 9, and, as one usually does when phoning in song suggestions, I took a couple seconds to butter up the station by telling them how much I love it. (And I do: it's my standard blogging background music.) They took that endorsement and use it every now and again.

I'm still waiting on the song. ("Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand). But watch your back, Geraghty, I'm right behind you.


Mark Steyn Is A Genius, Edition I

Somehow I've let three weeks tick by here without mentioning Mark Steyn. This is a complete travesty.

If you read any right-wing blogs, you've surely heard of him, and if you haven't clicked to read his stories, you're really missing out. He combines elegant prose with devastating wit to form an intoxicating mixture unlike any other writer in the world. His columns are regularly printed in no less than six countries on four continents.

Since his website, SteynOnline, is still on hiatus due to what's being rumored as a personal illness, I'll take it upon myself to update the world to his unique talents until he gets better. Why, you might ask? Let's just say I owe him one.

His most recent effort is from yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times, titled
"He's A Worldbeater, All Right". If he's still ill, I wish I could be so sick. A brief taste:

On Sept. 11, the world came unspun: There's no shame in acknowledging, as Condi Rice did last week, that previous policy -- Republican and Democrat -- toward the Middle East is wrong. But there's something silly and immature about a party that, from Kerry to Boxer to Byrd, can't get beyond spin, grandstanding and debater's points.
If you've never partaken of Steyn's heady columnist cocktails, do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. It's smooth and invigorating.


No, I'm not stalling!

It's just tough to do segments like Ask Me Anything or Mike's Mailbag when nobody's asked or e-mailed me anything. Furthermore, it's tough for people to ask or e-mail me anything when I haven't posted my e-mail address. Whoops! It's marchandchronicles -at-

I feel strange writing for an audience that hasn't yet arrived. At times I'm completely impatient and petulant. A while back I e-mailed Hugh Hewitt to fact-check him for what I'm sure was the 19,837th time about a rather insignificant detail in one of his posts and he replied. This impressed me; he must receive thousands of e-mails on a normal day, and on this day he must have slogged through 19,836 other e-mails that basically said "Hey, you were wrong about this rather insignificant detail in one of your posts," and yet he took the time to personally admit the mistake, thank me for reading and wish me luck with this blog that you're reading right now. But when I wrote what I feel was both a generous and thoughtful review of his book Blog and e-mailed him the link and he neither linked me on his site nor responded with a reply, I was upset. I thought about e-mailing him again to say "Hey, why aren't you linking me?" but thankfully didn't.

If you are reading, Hugh, I apologize for even thinking it. He's a giant in this field, and I'm a gnat. He links to people who've been at this for months or years; I'd been blogging seriously for, at the time, less than 48 hours. It was rude and selfish of me to even entertain the notion that he owed me a share of his readership and my big break just because I, though I was completely honest in my review, was still attempting to suck up to him. He doesn't owe me diddly squat.

Therein lies the problem: I want to get noticed. To be noticed I have to get good. To get good I have to practice, and that means repetition, even when nobody's looking. Especially when nobody's looking.

Most of my life I've been at war with patience and self-discipline. I'll need both if I ever want to gain readers.

Of course, some positive reinforcement wouldn't hurt. Or constructive criticism. I'll even take non-constructive criticism; right now I'm not picky. I promise I'll write back. I might even link to you in a future Ask Me Anything or Mike's Mailbag.


Saturday, January 22

Translations: David Von Drehle

Parting The Red Sea
Mike Marchand
January 21, 2005

Last Tuesday, Washington Post writer David Von Drehle wrote a piece called “The Red Sea“, in which he takes the pulse of red-state voters. Some bloggers, like Tim Blair, shredded Von Drehle ruthlessly, while others, like Lileks, cut him some slack. I would agree with Lileks when he states, “You get the sense . . . that he’s gently breaking the news to people who regard the Red Staters as different and separate. The Amish, with zippers.” Except that there are some segments of the piece which, I think, clearly betray Von Drehle's cover as an ex-Red Stater just trying to defend his fellow Flyover Country residents and reveals that he’s a fully converted Blue Stater who does in fact consider the Red Staters different and separate; the Amish with less noble motives. Lileks concedes that’s a possibility, but doesn’t feel like fisking to prove his point. I do, and I'll note when I'm in that mode.

Early in December, with a photographer and his assistant, I drove from Nebraska, near the geographical center of the United States . . .

Translation: Geographic center, yes. Philosophical, political, cultural? Not even frickin' close. Some might say that, looking on a map of the continental U.S., it's quite clear that the geographical center would be in Nebraska, seeing as how it's, well, right in the center. But I'm assuming most of my readership graduated from urban public schools, so I therefore have to mention it.

. . . to the heart of Texas -- more than 700 miles, through empty spaces and sprawling cities and all or part of four states. We headed pretty much due south, no dodging or weaving. And never did we pass within 100 miles of a county that voted for Democrat John F. Kerry in the recent election.

We were voyaging on the Red Sea.

T: Can you believe the Post paid me to do this? Good thing they did, or I never would have taken the assignment.

I feel like one of those conquering cultural thieves they read about in school and still celebrate holidays for instead of changing them to “Indigenous People‘s Day.” Ooh, even better, I feel like that fellow they all watch on TV . . . what‘s his name? Oh yeah, Steve Irwin. Crikey! “Now waaatch, as I fearlessly mingle among the primitive, and veerrry daaaangerous species called ‘rednecks!’”

This Red Sea does not appear on any map but one. Or let's say, it appears most clearly on one particular map. This map is marked with the boundaries of the 3,141 counties or county equivalents in the 50 United States. Counties where Kerry won more votes than President Bush are colored blue. The rest, the counties carried by Bush, are red.


T: Again I must assume you haven't seen this map, either, because it might shatter your idea that John Kerry lost in a close election, probably stolen by Diebold.

Blue islands and blue archipelagos, a blue isthmus here, a blue peninsula there, rise in a Red Sea that stretches from coast to coast. Rise quite literally, in many cases, because blue country is often marked by skyscrapers and high-rise condos and state capitol domes and university clock towers. Red country, as we shall see, is often quite flat.

T: And half the time I couldn't get my cell phone to work because there wasn't a tower around. My God, how do these people LIVE?

Mike Says: Notice the dripping condescension in what Von Drehle is saying: Blue Nation is smart and powerful; Red Nation is not. And I could counter the “flat” part by noting that churches, office parks, and, yes, the awesome natural beauty of mountains several times higher than the tallest skyscraper “rise” out of Red country, but I’ll trade that for the implicit rebuke of the “rich = Republican” argument. Thanks, Dave.

We met dozens of people along the way. We asked them about themselves, about their communities, about their votes. Some were leery of us. Several asked politely: "What are you trying to accomplish?" Others were more blunt: "What's your angle?" Another version: "What are you hoping to find?"

T: Evidently the Dale Earnhardt T-shirt and blue jeans I wore in an attempt to blend in didn't help. That or my cowboy boots and hat are both backwards.

We met Bruce Owen outside Abilene, Kan. He invited us into his home, introduced us to his wife, Donna -- and then seemed to wish he hadn't. He told us he rarely saw people like himself portrayed in "the media," except as objects of derision.

He had a point there.

T: Just wait until you see what I'm going to do to you people.

All I could answer was that we were tired of hearing pundits tell us about "Red America" and wanted a firsthand look.

T: So then I could go back to Washington and . . . tell them about “Red America." Hmm. Perhaps I should have brought a bigger expedition. You know, like those cornfed hat-wearing dopes who tromp through D.C. taking pictures of everything.

A lot of Democrats seemed settled on the belief that Bush supporters were stupid and selfish and sanctimonious, when they weren't downright religious fanatics and bigots.

T: I don't intend on changing their minds.

Whereas the Republican op-ed types seemed to feel that every conservative voter west of the Mississippi was somehow endowed with an innate wisdom and bedrock virtue not seen since the last days of Socrates.

Mike Says: Obviously he doesn‘t read many Republican op-eds. We don't discriminate geographically. We think ALL conservative voters are “endowed with an innate wisdom and bedrock virtue not seen since the last days of Socrates.” ;)

All kidding aside, I notice one thing: left-wingers HAVE, in so many words, called Bush voters stupid, selfish, bigots, et cetera. But I defy anyone to find any right-wing op-ed which states we're the smartest and best humans to walk the planet in 2000+ years. You can’t. But Von Drehle needed something to balance out the ideological fury. Red staters don’t think this way. Why should we? We won! Blue staters are angry and frustrated and lashing out in fits of hysterical polemics.

I do appreciate that he didn't play into the religion argument by using Jesus instead of Socrates, though.

When I first saw that county-by-county map, I felt drawn to go there, to hear for myself why George Bush was reelected.

T: ’Cause we sure as hell can't figure it out here at the Post. I don't know anyone who voted for him.

. . .

Here, on the eve of the president's second inauguration, is an honest effort to set down what I saw, what I heard, what I thought and what I learned.

T: In order: mostly farms; a lot of silence; “God, these people are boring"; and “God, these people are boring" again. Unfortunately, the Post wanted about 8000 more words.

. . .

One of the first things worth noting about the Red Sea is that people live there because they like it . . . This basic fact strikes wonder in some city dwellers, who live in cities because they love cities. They love the bustle, the myriad options, the surprises and the jolts and the competition. It can require a leap of imagination to perceive that there are people who seek precisely the opposite, and not just on weekends and vacations.

T: I still don't believe it myself. Somehow, some way, I think Wal-Mart is responsible.

"I like driving where I am the only one on the road," said Paul Kern. We found him next door to the lounge, scraping the mud from his boots outside the Waco [Nebraska] post office. He is a big man, a Lutheran minister, a native of Milwaukee.

"I like being able to shout and have nobody hear me. I like to be able to throw a snowball as far as I can and not hit anybody or anything. See, I was raised in a city with houses on each side of ours just five feet away, and an alley, and a -- aw, what's the word? A curb! The inner city. My father wouldn't let me have a dog because he said it would bother the neighbors. Out here I can have a dog and a cat. In fact, I have four cats."

He volunteered this as a way of explaining why he voted for George Bush.

T: Good Lord. This idiot voted for Bush because of snowballs? Watch what I do to him in a few paragraphs:

. . .

I couldn't help noticing that among the people Paul Kern won't likely hit with a far-flung snowball are black people, openly gay people and people born in foreign countries. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, York County, Neb., is 97 percent white and more than 98 percent U.S.-born. One of the area's distinctive entertainments is, Kern said, "watching a ballgame where all the kids on both teams are white, if you can believe that.

"Not that there's anything wrong with the other!" he hastened to add. "But just to show you how it is around here."

Kern returned several times to his belief that cities have become dangerous, expensive, disorderly places, in contrast with the safe and dependable countryside. And he seemed convinced that there is some causal link between the unpleasantness of that other America -- the one beyond the Red Sea -- and the variety of people who live there. The idea of diversity appeared to be meshed in his mind with the specter of change, and change is clearly something he prefers to avoid. Monochrome Nebraska, as he put it, is "the last frontier. Where else do you have a place where you don't have to worry about crime, about juvenile delinquency, where you can leave your doors unlocked?"

The sameness of a place like Waco is not limited to race and ethnicity. Religious diversity consists largely in the difference between Wisconsin Synod Lutherans and Missouri Synod Lutherans. Most people you see appear to be of roughly the same economic class. Homes are all modestly scaled; on a random day near Christmas, of 62 houses for sale in the nearby city of York, only one cost more than $200,000. The stories Nebraskans hear of members of Congress struggling to live on $150,000 a year in Washington simply astound them. "I'd own this whole town with that kind of money!" Kern marveled. "I could live like a king."

I wondered if all this sameness created a pressure to conform to prevailing political views.

T: Smile, I just made you famous. Paul Kern, meet John Rocker. Don't try getting on the 6 train in New York anytime soon. Stay here in Monochrome, sucker.

Mike Says: Here Von Drehle lost me, permanently. Everyone knows there's not a lot of blacks in Nebraska, and it seems ludicrous to envision a gay couple starting a farm. But Von Drehle feels the need to post this demographic information as if there's a sign at the York County Line that says NO BLACKS, NO GAYS, AND NO HEATHENS, OR WE’LL THROW SNOWBALLS AT YOU!

All that said, Kern dug his own grave a little bit. Bruce Owen, that guy from Kansas, was smart enough to play it as cool as possible, and while Von Drehle couldn’t believe his suspicion, Owen’s intuition was right. He smelled a rat.

Despite his loose lips, I find it somewhat hard to believe that Kern really equated diversity with crime, though. Since Von Drehle’s quote machine suddenly stopped working, I consider it much more likely that he connected those dots on his own. One benign but semi-racist statement plus complaining about crime equals a poster child for the ignorant anti-diversity hicks in Red America. It shouldn’t surprise anyone: ask a liberal what he thinks of Nixon’s Southern Strategy or Bush 41’s Willie Horton ads. They naturally consider “anti-crime” a supersecret code for racial bigotry.

I also think this way because Von Drehle clearly has a problem with the logic of causality, wondering if all the uniformity in the Red Sea was the reason so many people vote Republican. But all the diversity in major cities didn't stop them from voting for Kerry by clips of 2-to-1 or better. As Tim Blair noted in his fisking, Von Drehle needed to look no further than his backyard of Washington, D.C. to find homogeneity in voting that makes Waco, Nebraska look like the UN Security Council. But Von Drehle insisted on “visiting China and not just Chinatown,” so he must not have noticed that.

. . .

When blue Americans and red Americans talk about each other, a fundamental disagreement has to do with which side is trying to ruin the other side's life. At the risk of oversimplifying, many blue Americans believe that Bush voters are trying to shove conservative morals into liberal bedrooms, to mandate prayer before intercourse, for example, and replace Victoria's Secret with Gladys's Nightshirts.

Conversely, many red Americans believe that liberals seek the spread of promiscuity and license into every village and dell and that they won't be truly happy until vibrators are distributed in grade schools.

T: Which we’d never do, of course, at least not since Jocelyn Elders resigned as Surgeon General.

Mike Says: Again, another strained attempt to find balance on the right for the moonbats’ open hostility. I’ll cut him some slack on this one because it is funny.

. . .

[T]he more people we talked to, the more I realized that Bush was helped enormously in this part of the country by the fact that he ran virtually unopposed. Kerry spent nothing on advertising in the Red Sea states; the unions and other groups that supported him put little or no effort into spreading his message here. Many of those we encountered spoke of Kerry as they might speak of a distant relative they had never met but had merely heard mention of as children at a family gathering.

"I didn't know too much about Kerry," Elaine Bowers said.

"I couldn't get a real feeling he knew what he was going to do," said Bruce Owen.

T: If only Kerry had been smart enough to campaign and advertise here, maybe these idiots might have realized what a wonderful guy he was. *dreamy sigh*

Mike Says: . . . nothing. I'm speechless. Well, one thing: might Bruce Owen not “getting a real feeling what he was going to do” be more an example of knowing Kerry too well, as opposed to not well enough?

. . .

At a gas station in Asher [Oklahoma], we spoke to Joyce Smith, an immaculate woman in a bright red suit with her hair neatly done under a scarf. She was driving her husband, James, from their home in Coalgate to the capital for some medical tests. She smiled when we asked about her vote.

"Well, you know, real Bible-believing Christians are in a minority in this country," she answered, "so I was a little concerned that Kerry could win. I am so thankful that he didn't. See, I believe if our president has good morals, our country will be blessed, and if he doesn't, we won't. That's what the Bible says, in the Old Testament."

Smith has led "quite a life," as she put it -- abandoned by one husband in the Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo; widowed by husband No. 2 with retirement approaching and no nest egg. Through it all, she kept the faith she first professed when she was 12 years old, having been coaxed to baptism by her sixth-grade teacher.

T: Because obviously she wouldn’t have voluntarily become religious. Jesus Christ, haven’t these people heard of the Establishment Clause? If only we’d given her a vibrator.

She was too polite to say, in so many words, that she felt John Kerry was a man of bad morals. Instead, she put it this way: "When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that."

Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter. But Joyce Smith heard it the way she heard it, and voted the way she voted.

T: Obviously she watches FOX News.

Mike Says: And the analogous Democratic counterexample is . . . ? Oh, I guess we don't get one. Von Drehle bends over backwards to come up with some kind of balance whenever he admits that some left-wingers drank too much Kool-Aid. But he either isn’t honest enough or isn’t man enough to, say, offer that some Democrats got suckered by boogeyman draft scares, or constant “Bush Lied Soldiers Died” drumbeats.

I don’t suppose, since Von Drehle did all the research, that he could even admit that despite what Kerry said or what Ms. Smith heard, Kerry actually voted against the partial-birth abortion ban and against the Defense Of Marriage Act. But maybe if he just spent more money in Oklahoma . . .

. . .

Before the trip, I heard a lot about a book that claimed to explain how people like Joyce Smith and Bruce Owen and Paul Kern . . . have been tricked by the moneyed class into voting against their own best interests. I found a copy of What's the Matter With Kansas? at a bookstore in Ada and began reading it as we resumed our southward journey.

The author, Thomas Frank, grew up in a wealthy suburb of Kansas City and received a PhD in cultural criticism from the University of Chicago. His book is a lament for the lost prairie Populism of years gone by -- not the Ku Klux Klan aspect, which he never mentions, but the capitalist-scourging aspect of William Jennings Bryan and the Farmer's Alliance.

In Frank's view, if Red Sea residents knew what was good for them, they would vote for capitalist-scourging Populists today. But they don't know what's good for them, Frank explains, because of "a species of derangement." The deranged people of the Midwest are no longer able to make "certain mental connections about the world," because those once-"reliable leftists" have been deluded into caring about moral issues.

I marveled at Frank's discovery of a strong leftist tradition in Kansas, a state that has voted for the Republicans in 30 of the 36 presidential elections since 1860, including twice against Franklin D. Roosevelt. And I thought maybe Bryan, a fundamentalist Christian who denounced Darwin's theories of evolution at the famous Scopes trial, might have a lot in common with some of the so-called values voters of 2004. But Frank kept me reading until it was too dark to read anymore.

T: And thank God; Your Best Life Now and The Purpose-Driven Life were starting to get real old. Also . . . in that third paragraph, I subtly switched from “Frank‘s view” to a neutral tone. I wonder if anybody noticed?

Mike Says: Yup.

. . .

Unemployed, burdened by student-loan debt, raising young kids -- and voting for Bush because of "his morals and his ethics." Mark Pack seemed like a perfect person to ask about Thomas Frank's theory of deranged hicks who cannot make mental connections about their own best interests.

"Mao said basically the same thing when he talked about religion being the opiate of the masses," Pack answered. "And wasn't it Lincoln who said you can't fool all of the people all of the time? Bush got 54 million votes, and I don't think they were all from blatant idiots. I think we get really carried away by generalizations in this country.

"It's a shame moral values are not taken seriously in the blue states," Pack said, in a generalization of his own.

T: Wasn’t that neat, that little comment? I almost made it seem like he said the “moral values” bit right after he got all uppity, quoting Chairman Mao and Abe Lincoln.

Mike Says: Bush got 59 million votes on Election Day. Von Drehle should be leaping to correct him any minute now.

Any minute now.

Any minu — oh, forget it.

. . .

I wanted to meet a member of that class of people so dear to George W. Bush that he has extolled them in nearly every campaign speech he has ever given: an entrepreneur. In Bush's America, such figures are the engines not only of economic growth but of creativity, opportunity and civic improvement.

T: In Blue America, we criticize them for not giving their employees health insurance, then for selling off stock and leaving their employees without a retirement fund.

Mike Says: “Bush’s America.” “such figures.” It’s obvious Von Drehle regards anywhere that anybody might believe this stuff to be a fantasyland of deluded morons. “In Candy Land, such gingerbread men are the givers not only of marshmallows, but of caring, happiness and love.”

. . .

That's what I found:

After a campaign in which the Democrat made very little effort to seek their votes, the Red Sea folks decided to cast their ballots in large numbers for George W. Bush. Something he said or did struck a chord with some note of their own political music. Maybe it was the feeling that bureaucrats just don't get it. Or the idea that elitists hold the heartland in contempt. Maybe it was the worry that traditions are under attack. Maybe it was the view that coastal culture is an enemy, not a friend, in the effort to raise children. For some, it was the feeling of authenticity and apparent horse sense. The attitude toward land and resources that comes from living amid an abundance of both. The significance of personal faith.

T: Came all this way and still didn’t figure anything out, except that Democrats can even win over these sorry fools if they invest the time, speak the language, and then get the hell out before they go mad. Basically, just what I did, only plus kissing babies. They eat that crap up here.

In short, I found ordinary people with various motivations, sundry stories, personal beliefs, custom-made decisions.

I suppose there are no great surprises there -- these views represent many of the strands that have been collected over the past generation into the political camp we call "conservative." But the focus on this common label may obscure the individual nature of these voting decisions. I met regular churchgoers and people who attend church seldom if ever. I met young libertarians and elderly prims. I met a wealthy man and a man unemployed and deeply in debt. I met people who admire Bush and people who have little regard for him.

I imagine this might disappoint those people who seek a large and unified explanation of something as important as a presidential election. How much more satisfying it is -- especially for those who make a living from explaining elections in catchy sound bites -- to conjure up overarching themes, towering trends, looming like alps over an election. Nothing sells like a big trend story, whether the trend is "right-wing backlash" or "values revival."

T: Don't believe any of this. I just needed a good, writerly conclusion. In truth, they are really all the same: white, religious, heterosexual, bigoted, stupid, and bland, so horribly banal I wanted to scream. Remember my "overarching theme": the lack of diversity? Think of that instead. Hopefully that'll sell.

One afternoon, about 3 o'clock, we turned off Kansas highway 15, down a mud track in an expanse of nowhere. We stopped and got out of the car. . . . Turning slowly where I stood, I took in the whole 360-degree horizon, which bisected the curve of sky like the base of a snow globe. And for a moment it felt like we were in a world apart, so distinct and separate did this lonely sheet of earth appear. But I knew that if we set off and kept going, we'd meet up eventually with Blue America.

T: As long as we didn’t run out of gas. Please tell me you filled it up. Please, for the love of God. They’ll kill us all if we stay, or make us watch NASCAR or The Passion Of The Christ, in which case I'd rather they killed us.

In a tangible sense, even after this bitter election, something connected this land to that one, something more durable than fear and loathing, though it was beyond my view.

T: All I got is the fear and loathing. Are we still seceding?

An industry has been set up to convince us otherwise, but I'm here to tell you that a person can get from there to here, and here to there. Maybe next time, the Democrats might give it a try.

In that light, I looked again, and the world seemed to float off in every direction toward new beginnings and fresh possibilities.

T: When these become part of Blue America, we’ll change it all. Skyscrapers and university clock towers as far as the eye can see. My God, it will be beautiful.

Mike Says: Red America: pessimistic and dead. Blue America: optimistic and alive with promise. Don't wake him. He's obviously having a wonderful dream and I'd hate to spoil it.


Urp. More snow.

Lots of it. The weathermen say we're going to get more.

Weather in this area is completely unpredictable, especially in winter, when the winds of Lake Michigan play havoc with forecasters' prognostication tools. If the weathermen could just say "We don't know," that would at least be honest. But instead we get differing forecasts: one says 4-6 inches, one says 7-10 inches, another says 8-12.

South Bend is defined as a mid-level news market, but we're still small enough that many days, the news is the weather. When no one bleeds, the weather leads. Journalistically speaking, we haven't grown so large that we've transcended the image of the old men playing checkers in front of the general store.

But because the weather's so important, the local news channels are engaged in an arms race that can only be described as — what's the phrase? — myopic zeal. One station gets a huge Doppler radar network, the other contracts with their sister station in Chicago to co-opt their Doppler and expand their radius, and the small stepbrother station's chief meterologist promises all of his forecasts will be accurate to within five degrees or he'll give away money. (Yeah. Real tough when the high is 14º.)

So the first station expands their Doppler to update in real time ("Ten minutes ahead of the rest!"), the second station upgrades their Doppler to project in 3-D, and the small station makes all their meterologists promise accuracy to within five degrees or they'll give away money. Next year, the first station's Doppler will start its own blog, the second station's will acquire advanced weaponry and enslave the employees of the first station, and the small station's chief meteorologist will slit his wrists live on camera.

(And I'm not even talking about the presentation aspect. First station: carved half their studio out for the Weather Center. Second station: retro-fit a mobile weather lab out of a Hummer H2. Small station: now has animated sun, rain, and snow graphics, in front of which the chief meterologist cries nightly.)

It hasn't actually made them predict what's going to happen any better, though they have snappy commercials when they actually get it right. Most of the time, they have sinister music and say something like "Now, Will B. Dependable's AccuPerfect UberDoppler Forecast!" They give their forecast, and the exact opposite happens. They say three inches and we don't get enough to make a snowman the size of Gary Coleman. Or we get a foot.

The predictions are always scary, too, so that way you'll believe them. But how believable is it when they blare warnings whenever the radar looks the least bit ominous? We already go through two tornado watches a week in the summer. It wouldn't surprise me if soon we had an extended forecast that looks like this:

MONDAY: Partly sunny. High 65º.
TUESDAY: Fair. High 42º.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly apocalyptic, with a 70% chance of fire and brimstone. High 451º.
THURSDAY: Colder, with a 50% chance of snow. High -2º.

It's ridiculous. Even more so when there's tsunamis in South Asia, mudslides in California, and temperatures in Minnesota of -54º. Yes, I said FIFTY-FOUR BELOW ZERO. But because of these stupid warnings, we ransack the grocery stores and stockpile ammunition every time some station's MegaDoppler attains sentience, grows a sense of irony and screws with us.

If tomorrow weren't Saturday, I'd wager dollars to doughnuts there wouldn't be enough snow on the ground to cancel school.

The upshot of all this is that it delayed my Translation. But by now I'm sure you figured that out. You're smart.


Friday, January 21

Unfinished Thoughts Finished: Tim Roemer

I actually have some free time — I'd almost forgotten what that was — and decided to post a few things that I would have done in and around the essays, if I had a spare moment. In other words, I'm actually going to, you know, blog.

I wrote Monday's Tuesday's early Wednesday's Marchand Chronicles about Tim Roemer not just because I'd been deprived of almost any other relevant topic. Roemer was my Congressional representative for a dozen years, and politically speaking, I know a lot about him despite voting against him every chance I could.

I would have done a personality profile, but unfortunately I was absent that day in class.

Let me explain.

In the fall semester of 2000 I had a course at Notre Dame called "Persuasion, Commentary & Criticism." In other words: "How To Write Op-Ed Columns." Given the historic events in the fall of 2000, it was the perfect time to be enrolled in such a course, and I'll always remember it. One day my future children will be bored to tears as I relate anecdotes about how I got the chance to write about everything from the presidential election and the ensuing recount mess to Tim Russert's markerboard and the popularity of a show called "Survivor" (as I surely hope "reality" television will be considered an odd fad by then).

My professor was South Bend Tribune writer and chief columnist Jack Colwell, who has a name that makes him sound like a grizzled cigar-chomping hard-headed old-school journalistic scribbler but in reality, he was one of the kindest, most genial professors I had at ND. Even with the polarizing events taking place outside our twice-weekly enclave, our class was a model of professionalism and thoughtful discussion, and I have no doubt it was Jack's steady stewardship that brought that out in us.

Jack's position and influence helped him offer us a very unique opportunity that October: on the two days we had class the week after fall break, we would be able to hold a mock press conference with each of the candidates for the U.S. House from Indiana's District 3: Tim Roemer and the man who's our current Congressman, Chris Chocola. The following Monday, we would be required to submit a newspaper-style editorial endorsement for one of the two candidates. (As in the eventual election, Roemer won narrowly among my classmates. He retired from Congress after that term; Chocola defeated Jill Long Thompson in the 2002 House race and was re-elected last November.)

Unfortunately, my reliable pickup truck broke down on the way back from my fall break trip. My dad had to come fetch me and I missed the Monday class where everyone else interviewed Tim Roemer. I've always been disappointed by that, as I really would have liked to have the opportunity. I didn't really know much about him.

However, my father did, being in the same high school graduation class. My dad didn't hold a high opinion of Roemer. Still doesn't. If Roemer is elected to the DNC chairmanship, I promise I'll post his yearbook photos. Keep in mind, they graduated in 1975, so Roemer looks positively groovy.

If by chance any of you DNC delegates took a wrong turn in Albuquerque and wound up here, I'll have you know that if you think he's a pseudo-conservative cream puff who can't play hardball with the Republicans, you're dead wrong. In 1990, he defeated popular Republican incumbent John Hiler in part because of negative attack ads aimed at Hiler's previous occupation: banking. The ads featured animations of coins and bills stacking with cash register sounds, implying that Hiler was a wealthy robber baron who wouldn't do right by regular-Joe Hoosiers. After Roemer won the election, NBC's Today show singled out those ads as some of the most brutal of the campaign season.

In 2000, Chris Chocola mounted a surprising challenge by using a tactic almost unheard of in federal campaigns: when Roemer's team aired a standard, positive, I'm-from-here-and-I-represent-you television ad, Chocola attacked those ads by saying that Roemer actually resided in an affluent D.C. suburb in Virginia, no longer had an Indiana residence or even drivers' license, and spent only the minimum 40 days in the district to qualify for residence for the election. Roemer beat back the challenge by hammering Chocola on Social Security privatization, using a pullout quote that Republicans insisted was off-the-cuff and out of context. In any event, it worked: Roemer won by a narrow 52%-48% margin.

Just wanted you all to know a little more about the guy whose intellectual and political diversity will probably be his undoing, as the Democrat rank-and-file closes their ranks and files around Howard Dean. Shame, really; you won't realize it until much later if at all, but you'll be far better off if you choose Roemer.

Hmm. That was a rather long unfinished thought. It seemed a lot shorter in my head. I'll get to the rest of them later. Look for the first Translations tomorrow.


Thursday, January 20

Douchebag Of The Week: Barbara Boxer

Boxer Rebellion
Mike Marchand
Douchebag Of The Week
January 20, 2005

Wow. Nothing like getting served up a hanging curve in your first at-bat.

For displaying all the cordiality of Mike Tyson and all the intelligence of, well, Mike Tyson, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wins this week’s Douchebag award.

After wasting Congress’ time and insulting America’s intelligence by being the only senator to object to the certification of President Bush’s electoral votes on January 6, her douchebaggery reached fresh depths this week, when she rabidly assailed former National Security Advisor and Secretary Of State nominee Condoleezza Rice. Guess the words “good clean fight” mean nothing to her.

Boxer spent 12 minutes delivering blows to Rice, and yet did not ask a single question. She mostly harangued Rice for statements she and Bush made concerning the war in Iraq, specifically on the issue of WMD’s.

“Your loyalty to your mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth,” Boxer said to Rice, simultaneously calling her both a stooge and a liar. When Rice defended the administration, Boxer counterattacked: “Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.”

As many in the blogosphere have noted, Boxer was completely wrong. The congressional resolution authorizing war contained no less than six different reasons for regime change in Iraq.

Rice eventually got sick of having her honor trashed by a hack like Boxer and twice interrupted her grandstanding to steadfastly demand she “refrain from impugning my integrity.” At that moment, Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) ordered a recess before they literally came to blows.

As Boxer stated earlier in the hearing, “let's not rewrite history. It's too soon to do that.” Well, not if you’re Barbara Boxer.

A close runner-up to Senator Barbara Boxer is New York Times writer Sarah Boxer, who quite casually suggested that the bloggers who run IraqTheModel were, oh, you know, working for the CIA. Jeff Jarvis has the best response.

Bad week to be a Boxer.


Wednesday, January 19

REread: Blog, Hugh Hewitt

Don’t Be A Bump On A Blog
Mike Marchand
REread: Blog: Understanding The Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, Hugh Hewitt
January 18, 2005

Writing a book about blogging would seem to be a futile exercise, an oxymoronic anachronism. The whole purpose of blogs is to establish and serve a readership in real time, or as close as humanly possible. New information zips around the blogosphere at light speed, so to encapsulate the history and purpose of blogs in the form of a book, which can only update slowly with future editions if at all, would be as if in 1969 NASA decided to take the plaque Apollo 11 was to plant on the moon and instead install it at Kitty Hawk. Radio host, author, and blogger Hugh Hewitt spends 200-plus pages arguing that the new medium of blogs is making the old medium of print at least partially obsolete, and yet offers that argument in print.

But that’s entirely the point. Anyone who already believed in Hewitt’s thesis and has witnessed the power of the blogosphere doesn’t need convincing. Blog is for the people who doubt, and for those unfortunate people living under rocks who’ve yet to be exposed to the concept. Furthermore, Blog is for the people who might have tapped into the blogosphere once or twice and concluded that it was nothing more than just another political snowball fight, a long-distance Crossfire using binary code. It’s not. As Hewitt proposes in the subtitle of the book and stresses throughout its pages, the blogosphere not only will change the world — it already has.

Hewitt begins with brief refresher courses on four events in which the blogosphere played an important, if not the most important role: Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) stepping down from his post of Majority Leader, the resignations of editor Howell Raines and assistant Gerald Boyd from The New York Times, the debunking of some of John Kerry’s Vietnam fables, and the exposé of fraudulent documents used by CBS’ 60 Minutes Wednesday. In each, the lesson is the same: not simply that the blogosphere is a powerful enemy (it can be, but it’s far too decentralized to operate as a collective in that fashion) but that those in power can no longer get away with trying to sucker the people, and certainly that you can’t attempt to cover up that suckering with further deceit. It’s an age-old problem, but now the victims have high-tech remedies.

With recent history established, Hewitt takes us in his wayback machine to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to demonstrate that the blogosphere and everyone who operates within it are the rightful heirs to the legacies of Johannes Gutenberg (who invented the first movable-type printing press in 1449, prompting rapid dissemination of information and eventually a blog publishing platform) and Martin Luther (who used that new paradigm to start the Protestant Reformation in 1517).

Sound farfetched? It might. But consider that the Protestant Reformation took thirteen years, from when Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Church at Wittenberg in 1517 to when the Council of Augsburg finally split with the Catholic Church in 1530 (of course, the foundations for the schism were centuries in the making). Watergate took two years, from the original hotel burglary in June 1972 to President Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. But 60 Minutes Wednesday was brought down in less than a day. Technology has finally caught up with the speed of human thought, and it’s now so inexpensive and user-friendly that anyone can bypass the old channels to instantly publish facts, opinions, thoughts, reviews, recipes, designs — literally anything one can think of. The first books took months for their ideas to disseminate. Woodward and Bernstein could only update their news daily. But blogs exist in real time.

The idea of an open-source universe may be frightening, but Hewitt explains that it’s here, and anybody who doesn’t take advantage of it will be hopelessly behind the curve. Fortunately, as a successful blogger himself, Hewitt is willing to assist anyone who wishes to spread their message — whether it’s the message of a company’s products, an artist’s work, an author’s book, a hobbyist’s activity, a guy in pajamas’ political opinions, or even, yes, the message of the gospels of Jesus Christ or any other faith. There is literally no category of life that a blog can’t assist, or even if one doesn’t believe that, then the specters of Lott, Raines, Kerry, and Dan Rather should at least convince the unbelievers of the need for a blog even for strictly defensive purposes.

Blog isn’t a perfect book. It’s admittedly rushed: while the blogosphere has grown rapidly since 1999, it flew under the radars of the world until 2004, and in order to provide the non-blogging world with this information as immediately as possible, Hewitt had to step on the gas. He’s stated that there are “at least nine proofing errors” (I’ve found five so far), and on page 36 (hardcover), he uses, but does not define, the term “fisking”: a neologism which has a rich tradition in the blogosphere but would leave everyone who’s out of the loop scratching their heads. (Here’s the definition, if you don’t already know.)

But in its own way, that just adds to the urgency of Hewitt’s point. How will these inaccuracies be corrected? By the blogosphere, who right now is devouring Blog and offering their comments, corrections, and opinions in their own blogs. So now we’ve come full-circle.

You’d have to be extremely clueless not to understand that the Internet has changed the world. Blogs are simply the zenith of the form: a message posted (and then, hopefully, linked to by others) that can echo around cyberspace in an instant and be accessed by anybody in the world for virtually free. If you don’t understand how that system can help you, then you deserve to be left behind.

But then again, if you read and understand Blog, you won’t.


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

marchandchronicles -at-

Fair warning: I reserve the right to post any and all criticisms and flames, in their entirety. Seriously. Just ask this guy.

July 2006
May 2006
April 2006
January 2006

January | February | March | April
May | June | July | August
September | October | November | December

Essays on whatever I feel like writing about.

August 8, 2005: High Gas Prices
August 1, 2005: Judge Roberts' Hearings
June 20, 2005: Senator Durbin's Comments
May 23, 2005: Newsweek & Pepsi
May 2, 2005: Al Gore's MoveOn Speech
April 25, 2005: Lebanon
April 18, 2005: The Nuclear Option
April 11, 2005: Pope John Paul II
March 5, 2005: The Domino Effect
January 31, 2005: Iraqi Elections
January 24, 2005: Bush's Inaugural
January 17, 2005: Roemer, Dean & The DNC

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marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
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Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

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