Man Without Qualities

Friday, April 30, 2004

Knock, Knock II

I realize many others have made the point, but I still think it's worth noting that two Democrats on the 9/11 commission ... abruptly walked out in the middle of the Oval Office interview with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In a prior post I noted reports that few Commission members had even bothered to attend Condoleezza Rice's private sessions - and then made a big stink out of desperately needing her public, sworn testimony.

It's also worth noting - although most mainstream media reporters didn't note it all - that when former President Clinton appeared before the 9/11 Commission he was accompanied by Sandy Berger and Bruce Lindsey. The New York Times, its columnists and other mainstream media had, of course, made a big deal out of President Bush and the Vice President meeting the Commission together.
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Disliking John McCain

Arizona Senator John McCain was, of course, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for a very long time - and endured hardship in the service of his country far beyond anything the Man Without Qualities ever has endured or is ever likely to endure. And I respect him for that. I am grateful to him for that. And I really do want to be his fan - if he would let me.

But I just can't stand John McCain, and today's news brings yet another reason why I can't stand John McCain. You see, while there have been a lot of dishonest assertions from various people - especially John Kerry and other Democrats - that others are questioning their patriotism, John McCain has the repulsive gall to actually do it:

A media company whose executives have been strong supporters of President George W. Bush, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., barred its ABC-affiliated stations from airing the "Nightline" broadcast, calling it a political statement that failed to give all sides of the story. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and Vietnam veteran, condemned Sinclair's decision "to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs." He called it a "gross disservice to the public" and the U.S. armed forces. "It is in short, sir, unpatriotic," McCain said.

Allow me to make the obvious point: This simple exercise of First Amendment rights by a broadcasting company in disagreement with the political content of this controversial ABC News broadcast decision is, in short, not in any way unpatriotic. And that remains absolutely and clearly true regardless of any letter from this Senator - who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. John McCain's letter is little more than an abusive and thinly veiled attempt by a well positioned holder of government power to intimidate a federally regulated business for exercising its constitutional right to freedom of expression. With it's improper purpose, the letter's tone of high dudgeon and its postured language tending towards bad Teddy Roosevelt impersonation ("It is in short, sir, unpatriotic.") make it all the more unpleasant.

It reminds me why I really can't stand John McCain.

And all those bad things that John Kerry and the Democrats have been saying would be true of anyone who actually "questioned their patriotism?" All those terrible, terrible things? Well, they are all absolutely and unequivocally true of John McCain.

John McCain owes Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and his own constituents an apology for his repulsive assertion - at a minimum. Those constituents are entitled to a Senator who shows more respect for the First Amendment and for what American patriotism means than Senator McCain's disgraceful claim indicates he possesses.

As the Senator himself might express the thought (see the last line of his letter): I hope he meets with the public opprobrium he most certainly deserves.
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Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXXIV: The Great Beyond

Although this series has been titled Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose, the Man Without Qualities is fully aware of the possibility that John Kerry might actually win. I do not view Mr. Bush as unbeatable. A Kerry win would take a fluke, but flukes happen - they're not even all that uncommon in politics.

But I wonder how many Democrats understand that the worst possible thing for the Democratic Party at this point would be a John Kerry presidency.

After four years of that man as their indubitable face, the next Democratic convention could be held in a closet. The reign of Jimmy Carter would seem like an apocryphal golden age in comparison to the Kerry years. It would take far more than a fluke to stave off that consequence.
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Well, They Got Her

Ninety-seven years old, and here's the mugshot.
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Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXXIII: Another Day At The Races

A prior post noted that John Kerry has no minorities in his true inner campaign organization and that he is not faring well compared to other recent Democratic candidates among Hispanics in national polls. Even more strangely, to my knowledge Senator Kerry has no close advisors, friends or personal acquaintances who are racial minorities.

Of course, Senator Kerry's having no close friends who are minorities may be explainable if Senator Kerry has no close friends whatsoever. Word from the Senate leaves the "no close friends whatsoever" explanation a distinct possibility. Other Senators privately suggest that the closer one gets to Senator Kerry the more unlikeable he cares to be. Of course, that can't be generally true - the rule could not hold for available, with respect to ultra-rich, single, white women, for example.

But putting aside such digressions and whatever his lack of close friends who are racial minorities may say about him as a person, Senator Kerry's apparent lack of close advisors and personal acquaintances who are racial minorities is surely just rank political incompetence - whatever one may think of "identity politics." This is a candidate who will probably rely on African-Americans and Hispanics for one in four of his general election votes and the crucial margin of difference in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. The problems failure to attend to such matters will cause any candidate, but especially a liberal Democratic candidate, are completely predictable - and it is nothing short of astonishing incompetence to leave such matters unresolved.

And those problems are in fact emerging. For example, according to the Associated Press (thanks to California Yankee for the link):

A lack of minority representation at the upper levels of John Kerry's presidential campaign threatens to weaken enthusiasm among black and Hispanic voters, two core constituencies, some Democrats and advocacy groups say. Kerry's inner circle - the dozen or so advisers who participate in the campaign's most important decisions - is mostly white. Senior political adviser Paul Rivera said a core group of seven high-ranking staffers participate in a daily, morning conference call to talk strategy and make key decisions. The group includes campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill; deputy campaign managers Steve Elmendorf and Marcus Jardotte; communications director Stephanie Cutter; general election strategist Jill Alper; and senior advisers Art Collins and Rivera. Jardotte and Collins are black; Rivera is Hispanic. Campaign officials say media consultants, pollsters and other top aides are often on the call, including chief speechwriter Bob Shrum, and Tad Devine, an architect of Kerry's general election planning.

Bob Shrum, and Tad Devine are well-known to completely dominate the Kerry campaign. The tone and structure of this article - naming people who participate in the high-level, daily, morning conference calls while pointing out that knowledgeable observers view the campaign as bereft of minority influence - strongly suggests that the minorities in the campaign are without real influence and may even be there mostly for appearances. Did all the really potent Democratic minority campaign advisors (Donna Brazile, for example) demur? - or are they all unacceptable for one reason or another to the Kerry campaign? Maybe Bob Shrum and Tad Devine ego displacement? Perhaps a kind of campaign-staff Pauli exclusion principle? Whatever it is, it's strange.

But even stranger is the quote at the end of the AP article:

"The Kerry campaign certainly at the top definitely needs some African-Americans, needs Hispanics, it needs to be more diverse," said David Bositis, a political scientist at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank focused on black issues. "But he's got plenty of time to address this."

Let's see. Virtually every political commenter in the country is alarmed that at this very moment Senator Kerry is being "defined" in a way thoroughly to his disadvantage. Yet his standing with groups on which he is expects to rely for one in four of his general election votes is something he's got plenty of time to address? Ah-so. As top-notch political advisor Donna Brazile tells it, apparently to nobody at the Kerry campaign who's listening:

"No question, it's a rerun of 2000," said Donna Brazile, campaign manager for the former vice president's 2000 race. "Every Sunday, Team Bush goes in overdrive by outlining the upcoming week's attacks on Kerry. It's followed by paid advertisements and assigning top-notch surrogates," Brazile said. "This is the exact moment in 2000 when Gore was seriously damaged as the Bush team painted the former vice president as a `serial exaggerator.'"

Ms. Brazile's quote above, of course, is not directed narrowly at the Kerry campaign's failures with minorities - but to it's general misperception of the urgency of the moment. Within the Kerry campaign and its immediately adjacent territories, signs of political incompetence keep popping up. There's a stink brewing about minority contracts at the Boston convention, for example:

Organizers of the Democratic National Convention are again being accused of not sending enough business to Boston's minority communities, and activists are threatening to find ways to embarrass Mayor Thomas M. Menino and national Democrats in the run-up to the convention if they don't see the situation turn around.

And inviting known loon and loose cannon Al Sharptonto speak at the Democratic convention doesn't suggest the highest order of political competence in racial matters, either.

George Bush will receive only a small percentage of the African-American vote regardless of how incompetent Senator Kerry and his people prove to be - but even a slight uptick in Republican performance with this constituency will be enough. Mr. Bush's position with Hispanic voters is much stronger. Although he is extremely unlikely to carry a majority of such voters, carrying a good minority of them would be more than enough to put him back in the White House - almost by itself. Of course, what is an even bigger problem for Senator Kerry is that a low turnout of minority Democratic voters will allow Mr. Bush to win in a walk.

At this moment, Senator Kerry seems to be doing everything he can to give Mr. Bush that walk:

"The reality is that we're entering May and the Kerry campaign has no message out there to the Hispanic community nor has there been any inkling of any reach-out effort in any state to the Hispanic electorate, at least with any perceivable sustainable strategy in mind," Alvaro Cifuentes, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic Caucus, said in an e-mail message to party leaders provided by a recipient who insisted on anonymity. "It is no secret that the word of mouth in the Beltway and beyond is not that he does not get it, it is that he does not care." Separately, in a letter addressed to Mr. Kerry, Raul Yzaguirre, the president of the National Council of La Raza, denounced the "remarkable and unacceptable absence of Latinos in your campaign." .... Much of the hubbub began with Ms. Cahill's listing, in a newspaper article this month, five white men as Mr. Kerry's closest advisers, and an announcement of new staff members in which only a handful of the 30 names belonged to blacks and Hispanics. A follow-up naming the outreach team, filled with a rainbow of races, only seemed to make it worse.

Ball two!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Completely Burned Out II: The Widening Conspiracy!

OOPS! Looks like a majority of the Supreme Court Justices are expected to vote to turn the United States into a kind of dictatorship - just as Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman feared! He's such a prescient genius!

Only the Justices seem have a different view of the matter than Herr Doktorprofessor. They seem to think - in fact everybody involved in the case seems to think - that the case concerns a law passed in 1972 ("Federal Advisory Committee Act, an obscure open-government measure enacted in 1972. It says that when the government sets up advisory committees to seek outside advice, the committees must meet in public.") that the plaintiffs say requires (together with the federal rules of civil procedure) the President to turn over documents in judicial discovery. Herr Doktorprofessor says the plaintiff's interpretation of the law is needed to keep the US from being a kind of dictatorship. That means that before this law was passed in 1972 the United States was a kind of dictatorship. Who knew before Herr Doktorprofessor cleared that all up?

But the foolish majority of Justices seem to be indicating that they either don't think the 1972 law even applies - or that it's unconstitutional if it does apply! How can they have gone so far off track? Aren't they reading Herr Doktrprofessor's column that bypasses all that silly constitutional law and statutory construction nonsense and gets right to the heart of the matter- whatever that is after all the law is gone.

Of course, the President does not agree with the plaintiffs - and neither did President Clinton when the exact same law was used to challenge Hillary Clinton's health care task force:

In 1993 ... First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton ... set up a task force to seek ideas and to formulate a legislative proposal. But Mrs. Clinton was accused by Republicans of violating the same advisory committee act ... A federal judge and the U.S. court of appeals ruled in 1993 that the advisory committee act was violated... But the Supreme Court did not take up the dispute.

That must mean that Bill and Hillary Clinton were also trying to turn the United States into some kind of dictatorship! Worse and worse! The conspiracy detected by Herr Doktorprofessor just keeps spreading!

Thank goodness we have Herr Doktorprofessor to warn us. And thank goodness the New York Times has the courage to print his kind of quality analysis!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Daschle Descending IX: De-Krantzing South Dakota

There is increasing evidence for an incestuous relationship between much of South Dakota media and Tom Daschle's organization, a relationship that may well have distorted reporting of his record for many years.
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The Main Event

Amid all the fussing about Iraq and medals and ribbons and voting records, it's important to keep in mind that this election - like almost all Presidential elections - will be dominated by the performance of the domestic economy.

So, with a steady stream of good and improving economic news establishing itself, including an obviously improving job market, it is almost a sure thing that President Bush's approval ratings will go up.

That trend will continue if the economy keeps improving. And there are still more than five months to go.

The rest is just spin and secondary effects - with the most important being Senator Kerry's supremely unlikeable personality and personal political incompetence.

Question: Senator Kerry has ducked out of the public eye at odd times and for for oddly long times. Supposedly, a vacation and surgery. Is he taking acting and persona lessons in the basement - a la Naomi Wolf? If he is, they aren't showing an effect yet.

But if he's not taking such lessons, why not? Are his advisors so incompetent that they can't see the need? Or do they just view the matter as hopeless?
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Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXXII: Medal As Mnemonic

The always insightful Mickey Kaus cites to an excellent John Podhoretz column that includes:

The problem is that the conventional wisdom hasn't taken a proper accounting of John Kerry. Here's the truth that Democrats don't want to admit and that Republicans are fearful of speaking openly because they don't want to jinx things:

Kerry is a terrible, terrible, terrible candidate.

It's not so much the policies he proposes, although they don't add up to all that much. The problem is Kerry himself. He no sooner opens his mouth than he sticks first one foot and then the other right in there.

Perhaps the words "Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose" are those for which you search, Mr. Podhoretz? Please. Take. Enjoy! Tell your friends.

But Mickey says that he doesn't think the Podhoretz's column's discussion of the Kerry medal fiasco "has a lot of truth in it," which propmpts this trademarked Kaussian dialogue:

[What's wrong with Pod's medal discussion?-ed [Podhoretz] seems to think the issue is whether Kerry actually threw his medals over the wall (or merely his ribbons). I assume Kerry didn't throw his medals, and think the issue is whether he let people think he threw them when really he played it safe by holding on to them...

With all due respect to both of these worthies (and I use that word without nuance or irony), I must disagree with each of them on this point. The most serious thing about the Kerry medal episode is the thing that is most representative of his character: after more than 30 years of his explanations and despite the fact that the Capitol decoration-toss has been held out by Senator Kerry as one of the most important and defining moments in his life, we just cannot feel we know whether John Kerry actually tossed his medals or didn't. Viewed another way, no thoughtful person could be truly surprised to find at this point that the medals went over ... or that they didn't. If Senator Kerry keeps medals on the wall of his office in a frame, no thoughtful person could be truly surprised to find at this point that the framed medals are his ... or aren't.

For all its garish attention-getting, the Capitol decoration-toss is by itself mostly just an anecdote. It gains meaning to the extent it is a representative anecdote - a mnemonic for something deep and troubling in Senator Kerry's character. And it surely is all of that.

To see that clearly, consider another anecdote: The Man Without Qualities recently attended a talk by at which the speaker was asked about how she thought the "gay marriage" issue would affect the campaign. The speaker responded by asking everyone in the informed and energetically interactive crowd who did not feel they knew where George Bush stood on "gay marriage" reasonably well to raise his or her hand. No hand went up.

Then she asked the same of everyone in the same crowd who did feel they knew where John Kerry stood on "gay marriage" reasonably well. Same result.

She could have played that game with a lot of issues.

That's why the medal fiasco is a revealing anecdote. And, in my view, that's why this story is never, ever going to go away.

It is worth asking how Senator Kerry differs from Bill Clinton in respect of the above. To my mind, it is this: Bill Clinton could waffle and say quite inconsistent things on an issue and still make a lot of people feel that they knew where he "really" stood on that issue ("Let's end welfare - as we know it!"). Often, that "feeling" was bogus, the product of an eccentric but very skilled politican in flying rhetorical mode. His worst victims were accordingly quasi-self-deluded Friends of Bill.

Senator Kerry can't do any of that. Not even close. He is just pathetic when he tries. And there are no Friends of John.

UPDATE: Astute reader MT e-mails another choice example:

I can usually silence Kerry supporters by asked them whether or not they can figure out whether or not Kerry would be (a) happy or (b) unhappy if the Saudis announced tomorrow that they would turn the oil spigot to "gush" tomorrow. As I recall, last week Kerry, either on the same day or within a two-day period, criticized Bush (a) for purportedly having a deal with the Saudis whereby the Saudis would pump oil to keep the price down to help Bush's re-election and (b) for high oil prices and Bush's inability to get OPEC to increase production.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I think the words that the Village Voice is searching for are "Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose."

Link from DRUDGE.

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Completely Burned Out

It's no surprise that Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman doesn't like the Administration's claim to evidentiary privilege in connection with the Cheney energy task force. The Administration has advanced its constitutional policy arguments in the courts, and now before the Supreme Court. Reasonable minds may differ on those policies and the correct balance of constitutional imperatives - but Herr Doktorprofessor has nothing to do with any of that. No mention of any of the policy arguments or balances or the constitutional structure that the Court must construe, or an informed citizen should consider, is mentioned by Herr Doktorprofessor. Indeed, he gives no indication that he even understands that any of those things matter - or even exist.

So what? Why would one expect Herr Doktorprofessor to discuss or understand such things? He's a kind of economist, not a constitutional lawyer. He has absolutely no special claim to understanding what is driving this case - despite his bizarre, amorphous claim to speak for Those of us who have been following such things. He is neither trained nor a natural legal talent. But neither his complete lack of competence and facility in constitutional law, nor his lack of insight in this case in particular, keep his most recent column from arguing for a single, completely whacko conclusion:

What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes.

I'll be frank: His assertion is just nuts. It is not worth a detailed response other than to point out that it is nuts. Herr Doktorprofessor's publishing such a claim suggests that he, personally, is more than a little nuts. Nor is there any chance that anyone who does not already share a figurative padded cell with Herr Doktorprofessor will be influenced one iota by his rant. This column is a symptom, not a syllogism.

Why won't Herr Doktorprofessor - or his handlers at the Times - take sad columns like this one to heart as indications that he should stay much closer to home. As already noted here, there are plenty of international trade matters to write about - and he's supposed to actually know something about that - and have some ability to understand it. The same clearly cannot be said of his aptitude for constitutional law. How about a column on "outsourcing," Herr Doktorprofessor? How about some "home market effect" insights with respect to software, say?

How about some columns that aren't so completely and obviously paranoid, ignorant and humiliating for their author? Isn't that something you'd like?


A lawyer for Judicial Watch, Paul Orfanedes, noted that some critics of the lawsuit had said that it was based "on nothing more than mere unsupported allegations."

"That is a false statement, in our view," Mr. Orfanedes told the justices. A moment later, he said, "We know that the vice president met with the chairman of Enron, Ken Lay. The vice president himself, in an interview he gave on `Nightline,' said, `We met with all kinds of folks. We met with energy groups. We met with environmental groups. We met with consumer groups."

"What does that prove?" Justice John Paul Stevens interjected. "What does that prove?"

"The point is," Mr. Orfanedes replied, "this shows the involvement of outside — "

"They talked to a lot of people," Justice Stevens broke in again. "Got a lot of advice. Does that make them de facto members of the committee?"

He may surprise us, but this interchange doesn't make Justice Stevens sound very sympathetic to demands that the Cheney task force data be disclosed. If Justice Stevens votes in the manner suggested by this interchange, is Herr Doktorprofessor going to insist that Justice Stevens is part of a conspiracy that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship?

Nuts. Just nuts.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Was It "Easy Come?"

Business Week:

Chalk up another lesson in the $12 billion education of Paul Gardner Allen. In the last five years, the "other" Microsoft Corp. co-founder has squandered more than a third of his fortune, which peaked at an estimated $30 billion.

Interesting. But not for the weak of stomach.
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Worth The Copyright Infraction

An actual article from the British newspaper The Independent - but why blame Hollywood and not the schools?

1066 and all that: how Hollywood is giving Britain a false sense of history
By Cahal Milmo
05 April 2004

The Battle of Hastings never took place and Adolf Hitler is a fictional character. Robin Hood really existed, Harold Wilson saved Britain during the Second World War and Conan the Barbarian is a bona fide figure from early Nordic history.

It might sound like the latest attempt by revisionist extremists to pervert the past but the reality is perhaps more disturbing: this is how a significant chunk of the British population, muddled by Hollywood films and unmoved by academia, sees history.

A survey of the historical knowledge of the average adult, to be published this week, has uncovered “absurd and depressing” areas of ignorance about past events, and confusion between characters from films and historical figures.

Researchers, who conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 2,000 people, found that almost a third of the population thinks the Cold War was not real and 6 per cent believe The War of the Worlds, H G Wells’s fictional account of a Martian invasion, did happen.

Some 57 per cent think King Arthur existed and 5 per cent accept that Conan the Barbarian, the warrior played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1982 film, used to stalk the planet for real. Almost one in two believe William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish resistance leader played by Mel Gibson in his film Braveheart, was invented for the silver screen.

The study raised new questions about the teaching of history after it found that 11 per cent of the British population believed Hitler did not exist and 9 per cent said Winston Churchill was fictional. A further 33 per cent believed Mussolini was not a real historical figure.

Lord Janner of Braunstone, the chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Such findings show that in our schools we are not conveying sufficiently the recent past - a past in which many of us lived and so many people died.

“If we are to prevent the return of Hitlerism in our present or future, we have to know what happened in the lifetimes of so many of us.

“It is a terrible indictment of the level of knowledge of the general population.”

The detractors of the survey’s findings blamed Hollywood and television, which have gained a reputation for skewing historical events to fit audience profiles and lift profit margins.

The film U-571, starring Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi, sparked fury in Britain four years ago when it told how American servicemen altered the course of the Second World War by capturing the Enigma code machine from a German U-boat. In fact, it was British and Canadian sailors who captured the machine in May 1941, before the US had entered the war.

The survey of 2,069 adults aged 16 or over was conducted for Blenheim Palace to mark the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim.

Some 27 per cent of people interviewed thought Robin Hood, whose story has been featured in films by directors such as Kevin Costner and Mel Brooks, existed whereas 42 per cent believed Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was an invention. More than 60 thought the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings trilogy actually took place.

Michael Wood, the historian, said the “dumbing-down” trend was damaging people’s knowledge of the past.

He said: “If you don’t give an audience a clear idea of how we know things, I believe this is a problem. Hollywood distorts history the whole time and once you get that far down the line it’s not history, it’s entertainment.

“History is there to give value to the present as well as to entertain. You do diminish it if you take the mickey out of it in an attempt to make it “accessible”.”

More than a quarter of people do not know in which century the Great War took place and 57 per cent believe that the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazi counter-offensive in the Ardennes in 1945, never happened.

A further 53 per cent think the military leader who lead British troops at Waterloo was Lord Nelson whereas a quarter think the admiral’s fatal triumph at the Battle of Trafalgar did not take place. Nearly one in five believe Harold Wilson, not Winston Churchill, was Prime Minister during the Second World War.

John Hoy, the chief executive of Blenheim Palace, said history had become boring. He said: “People associate history with dry and dusty dates and facts. Once they realise that history is about people, the way we used to live and the way we live now, it becomes more relevant and more exciting.”

Others pointed to the popularity of history programmes. Francis Robinson, the senior vice principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, said the delivery of history to a wider audience was a worthy goal.

He said: “I have no problem with using different media to get across the message to different sections of the audience. There is always a chance of misrepresentation, but you have to weigh up that against the broader good of encouraging more people’s interest.”

But Andrew Roberts, the right-wing historian, said: “We have abandoned the teaching of history according to dates and context - if you don’t know that the Tudors came before the Stuarts then you can’t understand anything of that period.

“Within a generation we are going to lose our national memory and for Britain, which has such a unique and complex history, that is a complete tragedy.”

Sstranger than fiction: Disraeli, Hitler and the Cold War

Real people that some believe never existed
Ethelred the Unready King of England 978 to 1016 - 63 per cent
William Wallace 13th-century Scottish hero - 42 per cent
Benjamin Disraeli Prime minister and founder of the modern Tory party - 40 per cent
Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror - 38 per cent
Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator, 33 per cent
Adolf Hitler - 11 per cent
Winston Churchill - 9 per cent

Real events some people believe never took place
Battle of the Bulge 52 per cent
Battle of Little Big Horn Scene of Custer’s last stand - 48 per cent
Hundred Years’ War 44 per cent
Cold War - 32 per cent
Battle of Hastings, 15 per cent

Fictional characters who we believe were real
King Arthur , mythical monarch of the Round Table - 57 per cent
Robin Hood - 27 per cent
Conan the Barbarian - 5 per cent
Richard Sharpe , fictional cad and warrior - 3 per cent
Edmund Blackadder - 1 per cent
Xena Warrior Princess - 1 per cent

Fictional events that we believe did take place
War of the Worlds , Martian invasion - 6 per cent
Battle of Helms Deep , Rings Trilogy - The Two Towers - 3 per cent
Battle of Endor , The Return of the Jedi - 2 per cent
Planet of the Apes , the apes rule Earth - 1 per cent
Battlestar Galactica , the defeat of humanity by cyborgs - 1 per cent

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXXI: Maybe He Tossed His Medals Down The Memory Hole?

I haven't seen the tape, yet, but ABC News is reporting:

Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam.

[Link via DRUDGE]

The ABC News story also states:

Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his 11 medals during an anti-war protest in April, 1971. His campaign Web site calls it a "right wing fiction" and a smear.* And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."

The Kerry campaign website also includes a "debunking" of what it terms another RIGHTWING FICTION: John Kerry wasn't seriously wounded in Vietnam and didn't deserve his medals. Oddly, the "debunking" does not claim that Senator Kerry was seriously wounded in Vietnam. Senator Kerry certainly seems to have deserved his medals. But the criteria set out in the "debunking" for award of the Purple Heart does not on their face require a "serious" wound. I've never even understood Senator Kerry to maintain that he was "seriously" wounded. Is he now claiming that he was? Isn't it enough that he was wounded under fire in circumstances of extreme danger while displaying bravery and leadership?

[Correction: * An earlier version of this post stated that the Kerry campaign website had removed the "smear" post. I couldn't find it last night, but it's there now - or at least something is, with a note that it was "updated" today. Perhaps last night the Kerry campaign post was down for "updating."]

Los Angeles Times:

Kerry says he never claimed to have thrown the medals as his own. But as his reputation grew as a shrewd political operator after his 1984 senate election, Kerry was dogged by a troubling political myth.

He was accused of discarding his ribbons and the medals of others in 1971 to appear as an antiwar hero, while keeping his own medals for use as political props years later — a charge echoing this election year.

"It's so damn hypocritical to get these awards, throw them in the dirt and then suddenly value them again," said B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and author who critiques Kerry's antiwar stance.

"I never ever implied that I did it," Kerry says wearily, adding: "You know what? Medals and ribbons, there's almost no difference in distinction, fundamentally. They're symbols of the same thing. They are what they are."


By the way, the Kerry campaign "D-Bunker" page has separate categories for his "Military Service" and his subsequent "Vietman War Protests." Hasn't Senator Kerry waxed poetic that one can't separate these two? For example, the Senator has made abundantly clear that anyone who criticizes his Vietnam War Protest record (even his Senate voting record) is really and automatically criticizing his Military Record and questioning his patriotism. Yet, here in the campaign websit he maintains two quite separate categories. The rightwing fiction John Kerry wasn't seriously wounded in Vietnam and didn't deserve his medals. is tidily filed under "Military Service," where the rightwing fiction John Kerry lied about throwing his medals during a Vietnam War protest is tucked away under "Vietnam War Protests."

But then, as the Maguire points out (don't miss the comments), even such things as the dates of the Senator's military service seem to defy categories.

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The Real "Misery Index"

Is historically low.
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A New Front In The Cola Wars

A culturally alert reader e-mails:

Apparently no subject is too benign to escape the Left's propagandizing, where supposed world hatred of the USA is concerned. In this piece (from the Atlanta Constitution), the diminished appeal of Coca-Cola, of all things, is held up as yet another indicator of the world's disapproval. But what if the appeal hasn't really diminished, which would demolish the point? No problem:

"Europe, however, is a big market, and anti-American sentiment ran high through much of 2003. But Coke's sales were strong there last year, thanks to a massive heat wave."

So, take our word for it, USA hatred is as intense as ever, never mind the strong sales of Coke. Those are skewed by the hot weather, you see.

Coca Cola, victim of political tautology - and from it's home-town paper. Who would have thought? What will Warren Buffett say?

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