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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
By Steven Taylor

Here’s a lengthy AP story on the show’s debut: Yahoo! News – A Liberal Voice Debuts on Talk Radio.

And here’s why the whole process is probably doomed, at least if the goal is to find the “liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh”:

“I don’t think of it as a business, but I know it has to make money to be sustaining,” Franken said in an interview, perching his feet up on the desk after a rehearsal session for the show. “A lot of it is mission.”

Given that Limbaugh had a passion for broadcasting (and whether you love him or hate him, he is good at the craft of radio) and that his goal was to make a living at the enterprise, the issue of understanding that he was in a business was key. This idea that Air America is a bunch of crusaders out to change the world is all fine and good, but isn’t a particularly good business model.

However, it does have a stereotypically liberal mindset: that good feelings and wanting to “do the right thing” will conquer all–ignoring the fact that there are other versions of what the “right thing” is in the minds of other people as well. And that if one is going to engage in what is ultimately a business venture, then a sound product is needed.

And while Limbaugh notes that his success isn’t predicated on who wins elections, this appears not to be the case for AA, at least in terms of their motivations:

“We are flaming swords of justice,” Franken told a cheering crowd at a party to launch the network Tuesday night. “Bush is going down, he is going down, he is going down. And we’re going to help him.”

Again, I welcome more talk on the radio, and would love for there to be a panoply of options on the AM dial in terms of political diversity. But this enterprise has always seemed too contrived to work, and I still have a hard time taking Franken or Garofolo seriously as political analysts. They strikes me more as dilettantes.

Still, I guess we will see. I wouldn’t predict a rating bonanza, however.

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By Steven Taylor

He may not like it, but he has inserted himself into the political process. Further, since his statements are part of the public record (you know, by writing a book and all and appearing on TV and such), I don’t think he has any recourse: Clarke wants anti-Bush ads bearing his name pulled

President Bush’s former counterterrorism adviser objected Wednesday to the use of his name and critical comments about Bush in a new broadcast advertisement from a political group supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Richard Clarke said he instructed his lawyer to ask the MoveOn.org Voter Fund to stop broadcasting the ad, which Clarke said was created without his knowledge or permission. The group said it wouldn’t pull the ad, and one outside legal expert said the ad was clearly permissible under U.S. copyright laws.

“I just don’t want to be used,” Clarke told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to be part of what looks like a political TV ad. I’m trying hard to make this not a partisan thing but a discussion of how we stop terrorism from happening in the future, keep this on a policy issue. I don’t want this to become any more emotional or personal than it has already.”

First, while strictly-speaking he hasn’t been “partisan” he certainly has been political, so this comes across as a tad disingenuous. Second, he worked in Washington for thirty years and he is surprised by this? He should have expected it.

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By Steven Taylor

I listened to the last twenty minutes-ish of the new Al Franken radio show this afternoon. It is one of the new Air America shows (i.e., the new “Liberal Talk” network–not to be confused with the Mel Gibson-Robert Downey, Jr. flick).

Now, I am a radio talk show junkie and my basic attitude on this new Air America network/the attempt to find the “liberal Rush Limbaugh” is two-fold. First, I figure, the more the merrier. I like choices, and would likely listen on occasion, and if it was good more often than that, to these shows if they were on the radio when I was driving. However, I mostly would be flipping around. Second, I do think that the idea of simply creating some kind of liberal radio juggernaut out of thin air is a bit silly and one wonders as to the degree that the pesky ol’ market is being taken into consideration here.

I will also say that I think that Al Franken can be funny, although I find his skills as a political commentator to be lacking. I think he relies a bit too much on the overly cutesy-gee-aren’t-I-cleverly-skewering-the-other-side-sardonic. For example, take the name of the show: “The O’Franken Factor”. Okay, we get the joke, do you really want your show’s title to be a joke? For one thing, it has to get old at some point. Further, as I have noted before, I find it amusing (and not in the way intended) that Franken continually feels the need to utilize O’Reilly and Limbaugh to get attention.

At any rate, here’s what I heard in the relatively brief

-Interview with Al Gore, and some in-studio guest (Mike somebody) talking about how Gore really won and pontificating as to how much better we would have been if Gore had been president. Now, that’s all fair enough-a liberal show ought to be allowed to muse about their preferred counterfactuals. But in re: 2000, Florida and the Supreme Court-could we please get over it?

-A bit where they ‘locked Ann Coulter in the green room” and she freaked out and tore up the place. It didn’t strike me as especially funny-indeed, it came across like a somewhat lame SNL bit-and I am not a big Ann Coulter fan. Indeed, they seemed overly fascinated by Coulter.

-He had some elderly family friends and his daughter and the principal from the school she works at as guests via phone. Now, all sweet and all, but hardly riveting radio. And apparently he plans for all of them to be regulars.

Highights of that segment: to the older gentleman: “You’re liberal and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Ann Coulter says liberals hate America. What do you think about that?” And his daughter’s boss carrying on about how great Franken’s daughter was as a teacher. Somehow I ain’t smelling a Marconi Award at this point.

-Guests later this week: Senator Clinton, Robert Reich and Richard Clarke.

Note: Andrew Cline of Rhetorica has an interesting post on the subject.

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By Steven Taylor

Somehow, I am guessing that this: Court: U.S. Violated Mexicans’ Rights won’t come to much.

The basics:

The International Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that the United States violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row and ordered their cases be reviewed.

[...]

Mexican officials praised the ruling as “a triumph of international law” and said they were confident the United States would comply with the court’s order.

Arturo Dager, a legal adviser with Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, said it will be an important legal tool for Mexican inmates in the United States.

“Of course we have full confidence that the United States will comply with the court’s ruling,” Dager said, adding that if it doesn’t, Mexico could ask the U.N. Security Council to issue a resolution urging it to do so.

“Mexico was not vindicated. The rule of international law was vindicated. Of course we are confident the United States will fully comply with the ruling,” said Juan Gomez Robledo, Mexico’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

I’m not so sure. For one, I am not a big supporter of the ability of an international court to make rulings on our judicial system. However, the bottom line is that whether one supports this process or not, it will demonstrate the power of international law, as the US will almst certainly ignore the ruling. The only question will be if it does so politely or not.

For example:

In 2001, a similar case came before the court filed by Germany to stop the execution of two German brothers who also had not been informed of their right to consular assistance. One brother was executed before the court could act. The judges ordered a stay of execution for the second brother, Walter LaGrand, until it could deliberate, but he was executed anyway by Arizona.

When the court finally ruled in 2001, it chastised the U.S. government for not halting the LaGrand execution, and rejected arguments that Washington was powerless to intervene in criminal cases under the authority of the individual states.

It demonstrates why it is absurd to speak of international law in the same way we speak of domestic law: there is no enforcement power in the international arean, and therefore strong states can ignore institutions like the World Court and weak states only listen when the strong states make them.

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By Steven Taylor

Hence, basically no posting.

Until posting resumes, go check out:

  • Outside the Beltway: Clarke Fallout.
  • Outside the Beltway: Gas Prices
  • Confessions Of A Political Junkie: Nonsense
  • camedwards.com: More Pictures of Washington, D.C.
  • Arguing with signposts…: Clarke, 9/11, zell miller and assorted stuff
  • Cox & Forkum: Steamed Rice
  • ScrappleFace: Kennedy, Daschle Fined for Celebration Over Rice Testimony
  • The blogroll and links on the left in general.
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  • Tuesday, March 30, 2004
    By Steven Taylor

    This appears to be a literal suicide bombing, not an attack per se: Man Blows Himself Up in Bolivia Congress

    An angry miner with dynamite strapped to his chest blew himself up in Bolivia’s congress Tuesday, killing two police officers and wounding 10 others, authorities said.

    La Paz Police Chief Guido Arandia said the suicide bomber whose demand for early retirement benefits underscored the grievances of many low-paid miners in Bolivia stormed into congress around midday and went to a part of the building away from the congressional chambers.

    The miner detonated his vest laced with at least five sticks of dynamite as congressional security police tried to negotiate. Arandia said he killed himself and fatally wounded Col. Marbel Flores, head of the congressional security police, and an officer who wasn’t immediately identified. Col. Carlos Za, head of the country’s intelligence service, was critically injured.

    Arandia said there was no doubt the man had intentionally blew himself.

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    By Steven Taylor

    Nader Advises Kerry to Loosen Up

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    By Steven Taylor

    You’re obviously tired + I am tired of your behavior = early bedtime

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    By Steven Taylor

    The Kerry campaign has been teaching me a lot about the economy. First, the President controls the number of jobs in the economy. And now, we find out that he controls the price of gasoline.

    No wonder he wants the job: those are some pretty cool powers.

    And no wonder the Democrats think Bush is a dolt: because if he would just use his Magical Presidential PowersTM and create about 15 million new jobs and lower the gas prices to about 50 cents a gallon, re-election would be a breeze. What a maroon.

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    By Steven Taylor

    TV ads score big in Bush turnaround Kerry’s wide lead erased in states targeted by both

    A week of hearings on Capitol Hill and criticism from a former counterterrorism aide have eroded President Bush’s poll standing on fighting terrorism. But that’s nothing compared to the damage that Bush’s campaign ads may have done to Democratic candidate John Kerry.

    A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows a remarkable turnaround in 17 battleground states where polls and historic trends indicate the race will be close, and where the Bush campaign has aired TV ads. Those ads say Bush has provided ”steady leadership in times of change” while portraying Kerry as a tax-hiking, flip-flopping liberal.

    The ads have been one factor in wiping away an inflated lead Kerry held in those states. Most of them have had primaries or caucuses that allowed Democrats to dominate the news and Kerry to emerge as a victor. In a survey taken in mid-February, Kerry led Bush by 28 percentage points in those states, 63% to 35%. Now Bush leads Kerry in them by 6 points, 51% to 45%.

    Of course this also shows that Kerry’s leads in these states were at least, in part, a function of the media attention given to the primaries.

    And, as expected:

    The Bush campaign also has begun defining Kerry before he has defined himself. In the states where the ads have run, Kerry’s unfavorable rating has risen 16 points since mid-February. In the other states, it’s up just 5 points. The margin of error for each group of states is +/–5 percentage points.

    ”For Kerry having won the nomination, voters came away not knowing much about him,” says Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institution, author of a study of re-election campaigns titled Presidents as Candidates. ”He’s a blank slate to a lot of people, so negative ads can have a big impact.”

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