Debate Wrapup

Overall, a much more interesting discussion than I had expected. I think it is fair to say that this discussion earned the title “debate”, to my surprise. I’ll give Lehrer credit for running a tight (but not too tight) ship — while standing by my (and Hewitt’s) dismay at the Kerry-slanted nature of the questions.
In the end, though, I don’t think it will be enough to help Kerry. Viewed objectively, this looks like a draw to me. Both candidates did solid jobs, but neither “broke through”; at the same time neither had any serious gaffes. Each side’s pundits will spin the debate as a win, and the overall CW (driven by Kerry-leaning Big Media) will be that Kerry was the winner (just because he didn’t self-destruct). But I’m betting that the polls over the next week will show perhaps a slight tightening in the race: but nothing more.
PS: Great, Jeff Greenfield (on CNN) just quoted “a conservative blog” as a source of concern that Bush wasn’t doing great. Curses, foiled again!
PPS: So which network is going to include a “tour of the blogs” in their post-debate nattering? Anybody who sees such a beast, shout it out in the comments!

TTLB Debate Coverage

Hey! My server appears to be behaving, at least for the moment. So that means debate coverage!
No promise of continual drunk liveblogging (only just started the beer), but I’ll toss a comment here and there if the urge strikes.
1) And there’s the first violation of debate rules by CNN — showing a split screen with Kerry’s reaction while Bush speaks…
2) Overall I think Kerry is coming out strong and Bush has ground to make up thus far….
3) Bush’s strongest response yet: quoting Kerry back at himself and pointing out the uselessness of the U.N. — very good stuff.
4) Not that this is a revelation, but thus far, it looks like this will be a draw. Both candidates are doing ok, no obvious gaffes, no big moments (yet). I don’t see a lot of minds being changed by this…
5) The first hint of Bush getting Kerry twisted around himself, with Bush pointing out Kerry’s vote in support of the war…
6) Ouch. As a vaguely libertarian type, I’m not thrilled that Bush is mistaking spending lots of money for accomplishments as he’s listing his homeland security achievements.
7) “A free Iraq”. A powerful phrase, and one that Bush used well.
8) OK, I’m not hypersensitive about such things. But these questions are turning out to be extraordinarily biased. Every question seems to be “so, let’s talk about the mistakes Bush has made…”
9) Kerry just stepped in it… we’re now debating whether Kerry’s position on Iraq has been consistent. Kerry insisting that he has had “one position” was a pretty obviously silly statement.
10) Yikes. Bush bitching about how it’s “hard work” to console a war widow didn’t come out quite right.
11) But Bush finished strong on that question, answering definitively that the war was worth the cost. Kerry is about to try to dodge the question… by proposing a summit! Again!
12) The grand plan becomes clear. Bush is going to hammer Kerry on that “wrong war wrong time” statement all night. It’s a good plan.
13) Bush is going to nail Kerry on his Alawi statements…. bing! And he references Joe Lockhart’s “puppet” comment… and again back to consistent messages. Bush has a consistent message tonight about sending consistent messages. What more could you want?
14) Bush is really hitting his stride now. The consistent message consistent message is a powerful theme, and I think it has more traction that Kerry’s theme, which is simply, “I can do better.”
15) Bush says “Saddam Hussein would have been stronger” — -Kerry says this is “just factually incorrect. Er, how can a prediction about the future be “factually incorrect”?
16) Excellent answer from Bush on how we’re working multilaterally on North Korea…
17) Oh my god. I can’t believe Kerry just brought up his suggestion to “give nuclear fuel” to Iran, and “see if they would use it for peaceful purposes”, or something like that. I will grant, for a microsecond, that there might be a coherent argument why this is a good policy (although I’m extraordinarily skeptical). But handing nuclear materials to Iran to see what happens ain’t gonna play well in the heartland…
18) Bush does an excellent job gracefully answering the hand-grenade question whether he thinks Senator Kerry has character flaws. A series of gracious complements, and then a transition into the Consistent Message Consistent Message.
19) I can’t believe I’m actually watching an honest-to-goodness policy disagreement and debate (on whether to have bilateral talks with North Korea). Who said democracy was dead?
20) Kerry missed an opportunity to slam Bush for his slightly-too-chummy references to Putin as “Vladimir”. Unforced error…
21) And oh lord, Kerry is coming back to his one message of the night: I’m smarter than Bush, and I can do everything better!
Final thoughts: Overall, a much more interesting discussion than I had expected. I think it is fair to say that this discussion earned the title “debate”, to my surprise. I’ll give Lehrer credit for running a tight (but not too tight) ship — while standing by my (and Hewitt’s) dismay at the Kerry-slanted nature of the questions.
In the end, though, I don’t think it will be enough to help Kerry. Viewed objectively, this looks like a draw to me. Both candidates did solid jobs, but neither “broke through”; at the same time neither had any serious gaffes. Each side’s pundits will spin the debate as a win, and the overall CW (driven by Kerry-leaning Big Media) will be that Kerry was the winner (just because he didn’t self-destruct). But I’m betting that the polls over the next week will show perhaps a slight tightening in the race: but nothing more.
PS: Great, Jeff Greenfield (on CNN) just quoted “a conservative blog” as a source of concern that Bush wasn’t doing great. Curses, foiled again!
PPS: So which network is going to include a “tour of the blogs” in their post-debate nattering? Anybody who sees such a beast, shout it out in the comments!

Memo to Steven Levy: Bugger Off

Perhaps Mr. Levy might recall that while “Taking the low road is a well-trodden path to big readership,” so is twisting source’s quotes so they fit your predetermined-and-yet-oh- so-charmingly-contrarian-storyline.
Glenn says “I’ve always thought well of Levy, and I’m sure that he didn’t intend to misrepresent my meaning,” but I think he’s being too charitable by far. How else to explain this sentence from Levy:
“True, there are indeed constructive, thoughtful Web-log commentators online. But they don’t draw crowds like Glenn Reynolds, whose Instapundit site recently peaked at about 445,000 daily page views.”
Is there a way to read that other than that in Mr. Levy’s exhalted opinion, Glenn is not a “constructive, thoughtful” commentator?
Levy’s piece is self-righteous twaddle from a journalist who should know better. Nothing more, nothing less.

TTLB Server Status

Folks:
You may have noticed that we are having some intermittent server problems around these parts: every now and then, the site will become completely inaccessible for a short period of time.
The good news is that the folks at Hosting Matters are on the case. While we still aren’t sure exactly what the issue is, they’ve decided to migate TTLB over to a new, beefier server. That will occur sometime later this week, so until then, we may see problems, but going forward, the new server should help keep things running smoothly.
I don’t say it enough, but I definitely appreciate the support and flexibility I’ve received from Hosting Matters. The Ecosystem is a bit of a beast, and they’ve worked with me to try to ensure it stays up and running. So to Annette and the rest of the gang at HM: thanks! And to anyone out there looking for hosting services: check them out!
-NZB

Cahill: Send the French!

Just caught Kerry campaign manager (one of ’em, anyway) Mary Beth Cahill speaking to NPR’s Steve Inskeep on the way in to the day-job this morning.
Inskeep asked a good question:
Inskeep: “One of the things that Senator Kerry has said repeatedly is that he would speed up the training of Iraqi forces, that’s one of the ways he’s says that he would get some American forces and eventually all American forces out of the country. The White House has also said that it would attempt to speed up the training of Iraqi forces, and the major criticism of the Administration’s plan is that it takes a certain amount of time to build an army from scratch. It’s hard to speed up that process. What makes you think the change in the White House could change what is actually possible for military trainers to do on the ground?”
Cahill: “Well actually I think that some of the people who have done the most with this around the world are the Irish and the French, and that if we could draw them into this, helping us train Iraqi nationals, that would be a huge step in the right direction. But they won’t do it so long as we have the leadership that we have right now.”
Inskeep, wisely, had no response to this.
With all due respect to the Irish and French militaries — and unlike Senator Kerry, I do suggest we treat our allies with respect — I just don’t see the significant problems of, as Inskeep quite rightly put it, “building an army from scratch”, melting away at the first sign of French and Irish boots on the ground. (Not to mention my considerable skepticism that either nation would actually suddenly decide their national interests have changed and alter their policies simply because Mr. Kerry had taken residence at 1600 Pennsylvania.)
Unless, of course, the main problem in training the Iraqi military is a lack of good beer and fine food, in which case, my objection is withdrawn.
But that’s Kerry’s plan. It’s the best he’s got to offer, and it summarizes in a nutshell his approach to Iraq: he doesn’t have a plan. He’s just got a plan to ask other countries to come up with a plan.

Northern Alliance Radio: A request

I’m a bit of an Internet-radio addict; my usual habit is to turn on a show while doing just about anything around home. Left, Right and Center is a particular favorite, as are Don Imus’ interviews, and Fresh Air, when the guest is of interest.
So it should come as no surprise that, having now discovered how to record the Nothern Alliance’s weekly radio show for later playback (with the help of the handy ReplayRadio), I’m enjoying it quite a bit.
But I do have one request for the NA gang. I understand that the Internet stream is sponsored by the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota, and that explains their PSA’s filling the breaks in the show. But having only listened to two weeks’ worth of programs, I have now memorized the entire content of every single one of their promos. For the love of God, please get them to cut down on them!
As a libertarian type myself, I’m sympathetic to their message. But I’m starting to lean towards big-government liberalism just out of the sheer negative conditioning I’m getting from having to listen to the damned things over and over again…

NYT Magazine Discovers Bloggers

Glad they could join us. Disappointed that I only had to read Page 1 of 10 before hitting a factual error:
“Then in 1999, Mickey Kaus, a veteran magazine journalist and author of a weighty book on welfare reform, began a political blog on Slate. On kausfiles, as he called it, he wrote differently.”
Wrong. Kausfiles was independent until the spring of 2002, at which time Kaus “took the Boeing” by merging Kausfiles into Slate, and I started bitching about his lack of permalinks. Which he still doesn’t have, now that we mention it.
On to Page 2…
Update: Wow, this thing is really pretty bad. In fact, I think it deserves a full-blown, semiFisking. I won’t include the entire article text, but here’s my page-by-page list of objections. — go to ‘More…’ for the full ugliness.

Continue reading “NYT Magazine Discovers Bloggers”

Like AWACS for Memes!

Time Magazine, pg. 30 of the September 27th dead tree edition:
Bush staff members rely on technorati.com and truthlaidbear.com, which track political blogs and websites to see what items in local papers, on websites and in blogs are getting the most hits. “If a story moves up through the rankings and linking, we can know,” says one of the Bush staff members assigned to alert the rest of the team about which stories are moving through the blogosphere. “We can get indicators about stories before they break elsewhere. It’s like an early-warning system.”
No worries, George: just consider me your white, furry canary in the deep dark coal mine of the blogosphere!
I had thought that Time had mentioned TTLB in their edition this week, as I saw a few hits in my referer logs from them. But since they’ve got their content behind subscriber-only lines, I wasn’t sure. They made me buy an actual hard copy to find out, darn it…
Update: This is actually a rather interesting experiment in old media power. Take a look at my traffic history for the past month. (That’s my “blog only” counter, by the way, which excludes visits to the Ecosystem and other stuff unrelated to my personal blogging on TTLB). The Time piece above hit newstands yesterday, and the online edition showed up on Monday, I believe. See that huge spike in my traffic this week?
Well, of course you don’t, because it’s not there. So a direct, positive mention in one of the largest-circulation news magazines in the country doesn’t result in any really major increase in my traffic.
There’s no way to identify specifically who is visiting the site because of the Time dead-tree edition, of course, since they will just show up with no referer. But I can track those coming from the online edition. And although I did notice a handful of visits, as I mentioned above, it is a tiny, tiny trickle. Right now, for instance, there are no visitors from Time.com in my last 100 visits.
All of which makes you wonder: ignoring Time’s claimed circulation statistics, how many people actually read that paragraph I quote above, either online or in print? Granted, many of Time’s readers probably have no interest in the Internet, or in blogs, and so wouldn’t bother typing in my URL. But it is still pretty striking just how little juice “big” media seems to have when compared to a link from Instapundit or other major bloggers.

Burkett To Sue CBS

Drudge has the news we’ve been expecting: Burkett will sue CBS:
CBS DOC SOURCE SET TO SUE NETWORK FOR LIBEL
Wed Sep 22 2004 00:05:20 ET
Bill Burkett, the man identified yesterday by CBS as the source of the controversial documents used in its September 8

Not Long Now

The NYT says The End Is Near:
After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a “60 Minutes” report that raised new questions about President Bush’s National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night.
Those officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents’ origins, and that it was mounting an intensive news investigation of where they came from.

And there’s this, all-but-confirming Burkett as the source:
But officials decided yesterday that they would most likely have to declare that they were misled about the records’ origin after Mr. Rather and a top network executive, Betsy West, met in Texas with a man who was said to have helped the news division obtain the memos, a former Guard officer named Bill Burkett.
Mr. Rather interviewed Mr. Burkett on camera this weekend, and several people close to the reporting process said his answers to Mr. Rather’s questions led officials to conclude that their initial confidence that the memos came from Mr. Killian’s own files was not warranted. These people indicated that Mr. Burkett had previously led the producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, to have the utmost confidence in the material.
It was unclear last night whether Mr. Burkett told Mr. Rather that he had been misled about the documents’ provenance or that he had been the one who did the misleading.

Remember the end of ‘All the President’s Men‘, where the news wire slams out a series of updates showing the Nixon administation’s collapse?
I keep picturing an equivalent sequence for the CBS news team:
***NEWS ANCHOR RATHER ANNOUNCES IMMEDIATE RETIREMENT, DENIES TIMING TIED TO FORGERY SCANDAL…
***VETERAN ’60 MINUTES’ PRODUCER MARY MAPES SACKED BY CBS, CLAIMS SHE’S “TAKING THE FALL” …
***CBS NEWS PRESIDENT ANDREW HAYWARD FORCED OUT; TOP BRASS DECLARES ‘HOUSE IS CLEAN’…
***END***
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Ecosystem Maintenance

I’m doing some maintenance to the Ecosytem.
Everybody chill.
Update: Maintenance is complete. Everything should be back to normal, and a little bit shinier now.

Warbloggers vs. Space Nazis!

Here’s a blogging first, at least in my experience: use of a “blogger” as a main character in a science fiction novel:
“Ah! Hmm.” A thoughtful look creased the short guy’s face. “You a journalist, then?”
“No, I’m a warblogger,” Frank admitted, unsure whether to be irritated or flattered…
…”You’re a fucking anarchist, and your next drink’s on me, right?”
“Um.” Svengali sighed. “You’re making presumptions on my honesty, and I’ve only known you for five minutes, but I thank you from the bottom of my bitter and twisted little ventricles. What kind of blogger are you, to be giving precious alcohol away?”
“One who wants to get drunk as a skunk, in company. Hard fucking editorial, the copy fought back, and there are no politicians to beat up on until we get wherever it is that we’re going…”

That’s from Charles Stross’ fine novel, Iron Sunrise, which I’m about halfway through and enjoying quite a bit.
Iron Sunrise is a sequel to Singularity Sky, which was also quite good; I recommend them both. Stross reminds me of Ken MacLeod at MacLeod’s better moments, with a bit of Iain Banks thrown in for good measure.
And did I mention that Iron Sunrise has Space Nazis? It’s true. Future-bloggers and Space Nazis — it’s got everything, I tell you.
Given that Iron Sunrise has a warblogger as a main character, it should be no surprise that Stross himself has a blog. Although I think we may have to hold a template design intervention for him sometime soon…

NZB on Northern Alliance Radio

I just called in and surprised Captain Ed, John Hindraker, Scott Johnson, and Mitch Berg on Northern Alliance Radio. I started with a question on PowerLine’s latest news that Big Dan is heading to Dallas, and they not surprisingly had a few questions for me on the Ecosystem.
My first radio appearance, as it turns out, and a most enjoyable experience speaking to the fine Northern Alliance gentlemen. My only complaint is, as far as I know, the Northern Alliance doesn’t offer any online archives, so I can’t go back and listen to how silly I sounded…
Update: The Northern Alliance folks are now talking to Jed Babbin about his book, Inside the Asylum, which discusses the ongoing horror-comedy which is the United Nations. Jed’s position is that the U.N. can’t be saved, as we’d never get the votes needed to kick out the despot states that are the true problem. I’m right there with him; and have said many of the same things:
It would be possible to establish an international body that does not suffer from this flaw, of course. The basic requirement would be simple: to join the club, a nation must be a democracy, with truly free and fair elections, and in particular, membership must be requested directly by the people of that nation through a referendum (no EU-style communities of elites here).
Personally, I

Blogger Jammies: Soon!

No, I haven’t forgotten about creating actual blogger jammies. With my major work deadline successfully survived on Tuesday, I’ve gotten some sleep and am now more or less caught up with laundry, watering plants, and similar life functions. And I’ll be devoting some attention to the Pajama Project this weekend.
Suggestions on possible vendors who might be able to create such jammies remain welcome…
-NZB

MoveOn’s Quagmire: What could have been

The problem with MoveOn.org‘s latest ad, ‘Quagmire’, is not what is shown.
The problem is what isn’t shown. The ad ends with a powerful final image of an American soldier trapped in quicksand, his hands held over his head in a position of surrender.
But that shouldn’t have been the final image. The final image should have been of that soldier being pulled to safety by the hand of John Kerry. And, though it might irk the MoveOn crowd, an even better final image would be that soldier continuing his jog towards battle, intent on completing his mission.
The ad is effective: it creates a deep desire in the viewer to see that soldier rescued. But MoveOn is too obsessed with defeat to take advantage of the psychological payoff their own ad sets up. They aren’t interested in showing rescue for that poor soldier, let alone victory. And by focusing on the soldier’s defeat, they wade into dangerous waters, where the very integrity of their position is dependent on the failure not of George Bush — but on the failure of the men and women who are on the front lines in this war.
This is a deeply unhealthy attitude. It’s not new, but never has been it expressed so clearly (ok, almost never). And it’s not a position that a U.S. Senator aspiring to the office of Commander in Chief should want anything to do with.

What, no cake?

Quick, call Shrum: Somebody let Teresa out!
NEW YORK – Teresa Heinz Kerry, encouraging volunteers as they busily packed supplies Wednesday for hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean, said she was concerned the effort was too focused on sending clothes instead of essentials like water and electric generators.
“Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids,” said Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news – web sites). “Water is necessary, and then generators, and then food, and then clothes.”

It takes a special kind of lady to generate negative publicity while supporting relief efforts. You go girl!
Hat tip: Drudge

CBS Asking for Defamation Lawsuit?

Conventional wisdom over the past week has been that the actual target of the CBS story — President Bush — could certainly try to sue CBS for slander, but that he obviously won’t due to the political implications of such a move. But observe this passage from from the full CBS statement:
“Two of the examiners, Mssrs. Matley and Pierce, attested and continue to attest to their belief in the documents

Deja Vu


“We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television. There was a great deal of coroborating [sic] evidence from people in a position to know. Having said that, given all the questions about them, we believe we should redouble our efforts to answer those questions, so that’s what we are doing.”

Nothing to see here. Move along!