Princess Diana is Maggot's Meat

The news media insists on reminding us that Princess Diana has been dead for ten years.

Really, who gives a rat's ass?

People are being blown up every day in Iraq, Cheney is pushing us towards another disastrous war (with Iran this time), our government is in meltdown, opium production is at record highs, the ice caps are melting, the standard of living is declining...

Who has the time to care that some privileged princess died in a car crash a decade ago?

I hope the media can get a clue as to what deserves coverage and what is yesterday's news.

Good news from Texas

I try not to think about the more controversial death-penalty cases in Texas, because paying attention always leads to a bout of profound depression when the sentence is carried out. But I couldn't help myself: I've been following the news of Kenneth Foster, who was to be excecuted even though he didn't commit, or even meaningfully participate, in murder.

So, this is a relief:
The state proceeed to execute its 400th offender, as well as two more this week. The 403rd, Kenneth Foster, was set to be executed today—just a few hours from now—but Mr Perry has just announced that, on the parole board's recommendation, the sentence will be commuted to life. Close call, Mr Foster.

Baby steps are all one can hope for in Texas right now, and this was a baby step. But for Foster, it means life. For those who aren't as familiar with Texas-style justice, George Bush would not have commuted the sentence if he were still governor, and he might have even mocked Foster to boot.


Quote of the morning

You know ... I don't know anymore who's going to win the Republican nomination. But I *do* know it will be a really old mean-looking dude in a really bad tie.



Noted for future discussion

Bishop is spot-on, and I’m always puzzled that people think that if Democrats win in red states that they necessarily did so because they converted the red portions of those states. As I have written for the Prospect, though Steve Jarding and other good consultants like him deserve credit for improving the margins for Democrats in rural areas, there just aren’t enough votes there. All these supposed “rural Democrat” winners like Mark Warner and Webb won because thanks to improved support and turnout from urban and inner suburban areas. If the “rural renaissance” is a useful rhetorical fiction for Democratic candidates and their consultants, fine, but it is a fiction nonetheless.


Ireland's biggest secret!

While slaving away in the pleasant Irish summer, my colleagues and I happened across Ireland's biggest secret. It concerns this new skyscraper going up in central Cork:

Across the base of the skyscraper are some silly advertisements:

But the final panel revealed the secret!


Bots still don't get irony

Researchers recently announced that through the use of data mining techniques, they've taught a computer program to recognize wordplay and simple jokes.
"The ability to appreciate humor is an enormous increment in subtlety," said researcher Tom Mantei from the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering in a statement. "You need to know a lot to 'get' humor — a computer does not find it easy."

That's what UC doctoral student Julia Taylor and professor Larry Mazlack have discovered in their project on data mining. They reported on their progress with the project at the American Association for Artificial Intelligence conference in Vancouver this week... |New robot thinks knock-knock jokes are funny - Ars Technica|

Which reminds me of the time a priest, a rabbi, and a computer programmer walked into a bar...

Workplace safety, a fun argument

Honestly, I heard this on NPR. Because I'm a philosonerd, I'll render the argument schematically.
  1. No mine worker would willingly enter a mine unless it were operating safely.
  2. The miners in Utah willingly entered the mine.
  3. Hence, the Utah mine was operating safely.

It seems to me that figuring out where this argument goes wrong turns on the question of how best to understand the degree of freedom of the workers. If you think that the choices workers make about where to work and under what conditions are best described as being uncoerced and fully informed, then I think you have to say that the first premise is false. Which is to say that if you hold the view that becoming a coal miner is the sort of thing which might be freely chosen by someone who understands the risks, then you ought to acknowledge that people sometimes freely choose to do unsafe things. If, on the other hand, you tend to think that the choices made by workers are subject to coercion or are not made in full knowledge of the facts, then the second premise falls under suspicion.


I saw the best minds of my generation do what now?

Luc Sante has a short and interesting review in the Times of the 50th anniversary release of Kerouac's On the Road. The new release reprints the text from the original scroll Kerouac hammered out. There are edits of course, but fewer commas and literary pretensions, apparently.

There are two links to original reviews in the Times , as well as a photo gallery of foreign editions of the book. This is from a 2000 Chinese edition. What the hell? Beats as Brat Pack, is that what I'm seeing? China's funny.

The once and future king

The current disillusionment with Bush is directly linked to the fact that he has not governed as effectively as Reagan. There’s a general sense in this country that if Reagan were in office today, the Iraq War would have been handled more effectively, our economy would be even stronger than it currently is, and more Americans would feel optimistic about the nation’s future.

That's funny... I have a general sense that if Reagan were in office today, there would be more OMFG RUN IT'S ZOMBIE REGAN BACK TO EAT OUR FUCKING BRAINS!!!


Now I'm all alone with just my shadow in front

Item: The other day I came across the entry for 'wetback' in my 1986 edition of Webster's College Dictionary. Everything was pretty much as you'd expect until the end, where the dictionary noted that the term is, "sometimes considered offensive." Sometimes? Seriously?

Item: When I bought my hair clippers a decade or so ago they came with a one ounce tube of mineral oil for use as a lubricant. It only takes about one drop every third haircut, so I've only just now run out. Last night I went to my local Walgreen's to buy another one ounce tube but the smallest size they sold was 16 ounces, so I figure I'm set until about 2117. Except that, according to the label on my new bottle, mineral oil is actually a laxative. That's what I call dual use! Still, 16 ounces works out to 32 doses which, at my current rate of use should last at least through 2117. So.

Item: Apparently the Democratic presidential candidates had a debate yesterday before I even got out of bed. This shit has got to stop.

Item: My quest to understand the hostility toward Bose speakers among self-styled audiophiles continues apace. Part of the answer, I think, is that Bose has a better rep than most audiophile brands, but doesn't actually make better speakers. Fair enough, but to hear audiophiles talk you'd think that Bose made aggressively bad speakers, which they don't. Anyway, here's a clue lifted from Stereophile's 1975 review of the Bose 901. It's the manufacturer's comment on the review, and it isn't exactly friendly:
Our technical analysis of the theory behind the 901 differs from Stereophile's in a number of respects. Since the final test of a speaker is in its sound with actual program material, we urge Stereophile readers to audition the Bose 901 and then judge for themselves whether Stereophile or the 15 other US and foreign reviews, which draw completely different conclusions, is correct. |link|


Are you a martyr to your own lust?

Find out!

Hearts, Minds and Video Games

Hezbollah's internet division has developed a video game called Special Force 2: Tale of the Truthful Pledge |Wikipedia| CNN|MSNBC|. The video game allows players to re-fight the 2006 War in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah.

The Anti-Defamation League takes a dim view of this video game (as you might imagine) and points out that the same open-source game engine was used by a white supremacist group to create a video game called Ethnic Cleansing.

The United States Army has a video game called America's Army |Wikipedia| which simulates life as an infantryman in the U.S. Army.

The fact that governments and terrorist groups both use video games to influence young people illustrates the influence of video games in the modern world.

Below is a movie of Hezbollah's first video game from 2003, a trailer for the new game is available here, which dramatizes the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers which started the hostilities in 2006.

Cross-posted at the Fireside Chat.



Maxwell Lemuel Roach (January 10, 1924 – August 16, 2007)


Just because you're paranoid...

The White House hawks in Dick Cheney's office and elsewhere who want to stage an attack on Iran are clearly winning the internal power stuggle. And an often overlooked sub-plot on the long road toward war with Tehran is this: How could Bush stage an attack on Iran without the authorization of a skeptical, Democratic Congress?

Today, the White House has solved that pesky problem in one fell swoop. By explicitly linking the Iranian elite guard into the post 9/11 "global war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's lawyers would certainly now argue that any military strike on Iran is now covered by the October 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, as part of their overly sweeping response to the 2001 attacks. |Attytood|


One small comment. When the Bush Administration does something that's stupid on the surface (as in declaring Shia Iran to be allied with Sunni Al Quaeda), it's tempting to just mark it up to their transcendant unrealism. It's important to remember, though, that these idiots are very, very clever when it comes to finding means to accomplish fundamentally stupid ends.

Save the bacon

If anybody's trying to figure out what to get me for xmas...

... your search is over!


Ok, here's something

This seems relevant to a dispute we've had in these parts before:
But it has been apparent for many years that the Democratic base is growing faster than the Republican base. The numbers of the unmarried and the non-churchgoing are growing faster than the numbers of married and church-going Americans. The nonwhite and immigrant population is growing at a faster rate than that of white native-borns. The Democrats are the party of the top and bottom of American society; the Republicans do best in the great American middle, which is losing ground. |David Frum|

If Frum is right, the implication is that Democrats can win by going left and turning out the base, but I'm not so sure that his understanding of the demographics is as widely shared as his rhetoric makes it sound.

I got nothing...

...but I've been listening to a lot of Bartok lately. I especially like Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Major. Y'all?


And if frogs had wings...

By leaving, Rove could be doing his last bit of service to the president: If it's a successful last year, the myth of "Bush's brain" may be laid to rest.

If it's a successful last year.... Good one, K-Jo. That's a knee slapper.


What the heck

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Seriously, take a look at those questions, and if you get less than 100 percent, tell me on which question you didn't strongly agree. This quiz is stacked, I think, because it doesn't address any of the trickier questions about gender equality. Which brings up the question. How the heck did Liz Mair come up with only 79 percent?

UPDATE: Just for clarity's sake, I should add that I am a strong believer in gender equality, and I do consider myself a 100-percent feminist. But several feminists I know would disagree with that consideration. Those feminists would write a much tougher test, I think.

New frontiers in newspeak

When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001. |George W. Bush|

Emphasis added. For more, read Balkin.

You call that proof?

Jason's previous post about Matthew Ygelias stakes out an interesting (but fundamentally flawed) view of epistemology.

A post of Donald Braman's articulates why one's worldview dictates what conclusions are drawn from facts.

A little editing will hopefully make the illustration even more clear.

Americans not only prize different principles, they view the world as working in fundamentally different ways...using [any] emotionally laden illustration of just how good or bad [the Army is] at protecting or harming people is certain to not make headway in the [Iraq war] debate.

Because people conform their understandings of the way the world works to their deepest cultural commitments
, claims [of reduced sectarian violence] clearly supporting one side of the debate strike opponents as profoundly deceptive and disingenuous because to them the opposite inference is just as obviously supported by the same facts.

Opposing parties come away from this sort of debate not just believing that their opponents prize different values (say autonomy, martial prowess and individual self-reliance v. collective responsibility, pacifism and reliance on the state for protection, for example), but that the other side is decidedly deluded or untrustworthy when it comes to the facts.

And the less trustworthy or more deluded the opponents in this debate believe each other to be, the less willing they are to make even reasonable concessions for fear that if they give an inch, they'll be taken for a mile.

As a result, those claiming that [conditions in Basra] "prove" something are having the paradoxical effect of hardening their opposition and further polarizing the debate. And that's a shame because it decreases that chance that reasonable, moderate measures will prevail. |Concurring Opinions|(emphasis added)
Jason's mistake is that he has spent too much time studying science, logic, and music where facts are relatively immutable. In politics and history, facts are slippery things that mean vastly different things to different people.

Donald Braman was talking about gun control in the quote above, not warfare... but the positions people take on the Iraq war and on gun control are influenced by the same set of unspoken assumptions.

Hawks have an unspoken assumption that superior firepower will eventually crush the spirit of the resistance. These people believe that the US could have won in Vietnam if only the politicians hadn't tied the military's hands. Total unmitigated ruthlessness is what wins wars. These people contend that to win in Iraq, we merely need to kill every man, woman and child who opposes us. If that means eliminating 90% of their population... well, that strategy worked for us well in the Indian wars.

Those who want to withdraw have an unspoken assumption that everything the military does simply alienates the civilian population more and no amount of firepower will prevail in this struggle.

Facts are analyzed through people's view of the world, their lens. This doesn't mean that we cannot engage with people using facts and reason. But it does mean that in order to really change a person's opinion, you must engage them not just with facts but with internal inconsistencies in their worldview as revealed by "facts" they are willing to acknowledge as true (even if you believe them to be total falsehoods).

Thus arguing about the effect of surge with hawks is not fruitful, you need to engage war proponents on their entire constellation of militaristic views.

Proponents of the doctrine counter-insurgency (such as General David Petraeus) understand that no amount of guns and bombs can win the war without political progress. Political progress is the key metric, failure to make political progress renders the military situation meaningless.

I think explaining counter-insurgency to the Hawks has a better chance of getting them to change their worldview, but arguing about "facts" in isolation will not get through their ideological defenses.


Arctic Tale

Meh. Do not go to see this movie. Even if it's free. Even if it's really hot out and you don't have air conditioning at home and the fire department showed up at your office because the air conditioner on the roof caught on fire. Do not go see this movie.

A true and harrowing tale of Windows

A little while ago I set out to reserve a zipcar for tomorrow morning. I went to the website, plugged in the date information, and got nothing but an error message. "Pickup time is in the past," it said. In red. I double checked. It looked right. I clicked on the calendar gizmo. It only showed dates from September. I confirmed with a co-worker that the present month is, in fact, August. I frowned.

Because I didn't just fall off the turnip truck it occurred to me that the problem might be with my computer rather than with Zipcar's website. So it was off to the Date & Time control panel for me. Just as I thought, my computer had the date wrong. Easy enough to fix manually, but as I like to have everything as accurate as possible I decided to use an internet time server. I clicked on the appropriate button and my computer checked things out with Microsoft's internet time server.

There was only one problem. The time server -- time.windows.com -- had the date wrong. No worries. Microsoft thoughtfully gives you the option of using the time server run by the naval observatory. So I clicked on the appropriate button and waited. And waited. And waited. "An error occurred," Windows helpfully informed me.

Sober up

Ugh. I gotta think Yglesias will regret writing this:
When I read this story about conditions falling apart in Basra after British troops handed practical control over to the locals, I thought it was yet-more ammunition for my quest to persuade whoever will listen that the US ought to end its tragic military engagement in Iraq. Somehow, though, I never got around to writing the post and it occurs to me that, of course, the article could be used to prove the precise reverse -- that we can't afford to leave lest we wind up with a country-sized Basra.

This sort of thing, ultimately, is why no conceivable September report will make any real difference to the Iraq debate. It's not that ideological blinders prevent people from seeing the facts, it's that the facts don't really determine anything. Signs of improving conditions can be a reason to stay or a reason to leave. Signs of deteriorating conditions can be a reason to leave or a reason to stay. Ultimately, the issue doesn't hinge on fine-grained appreciation of the facts, nearly so much as it hinges on broader questions of how you look at American interests in the region and whether or not the prospect of spending tens of billions of dollars a day for an indefinite period of time on maintaining a military presence in a foreign country against the will of the population is the kind of thing that makes you queasy.

The most charitable reading of this I can imagine is that he does not think that there will be enough real, new information in the September report. But really I come away thinking that he meant: "I'm sick of all these facts. Policy decisions should be made from core values alone, without pesky facts interfering."

UPDATE On re-reading, I find there is another way to take what he says, and that is simply that it is a foregone conclusion that we should leave Iraq, because we are spending "an indefinite period of time on maintaining a military presence in a foreign country against the will of the population." No new facts about the situation on the ground are going to change those overarching conditions. I disagree with this point of view, but it's not so head-in-the-sand as my first reading.


Did the Simpsons sell out?

Ben Adler is disappointed that the Simpsons movie isn't as liberal as the show used to be. I think that a) he's misremembering the show, and b) he's got an odd take on the movie. He doesn't provide a lot of examples to back up his contention that Simpsons have "sold out,"* and the ones he does provide don't hold a lot of water. Click past the jump (by which I mean, click "Read More") to see some spoileriffic rejoinders.

1. Lisa is no more of a busybody than she was in the show, and she gets a typically cool response from the shortsighted Springfieldians. Even the lady who owes her slams the door in her face. Typical yellow trash.

2. Despite this, Lisa nearly saves Springfield. If it weren't for Homer, the town would never have been en-domed.

3. Mr. Adler objects to the EPA chief being made the villain rather than, say, the Sec Def. But I don't think he'd mind if the movie had poked fun at a specific EPA chief (such as Christie Whitman). There is simply no reason to think that an EPA chief in a (Simpsons version of a) Governator administration would be an actual environmentalist. In fact, Cargil admits he's only in it for the power.

4. With regards to the plan to blow up Springfield, he writes:
Obviously it is meant to be hyperbolic. But the irony may be lost on the average viewer.

Um, aren't we talking about a Simpsons movie, here?

5. This is where we really disagree, however.
But don't expect to leave the theatre feeling that the film did something larger, something the show so often did in its heyday: using over the top comedy to tell the truth about the real world.

I know that feeling: I get it when watching the Daily Show, sometimes. But I almost never got that feeling from the Simpsons. It was mostly throwaway gags at anyone's expense. If anything, the pervasive social critique was, basically, that people are dumb, yo.

In closing, however, I will present my favorite political joke from the show:

KRUSTY [in the voting booth]: Well, Sideshow Bob did try to kill me... but I'm aching for that upper-class tax cut!

* In fairness, Mr. Adler didn't use the phrase "sell out" in the column. It's in the headline, but I don't know if he writes the headlines.

To boldly go

To cap it all, and the undisputed chief of everyone's bitch list, were the visits to the disposal utility chamber. It wasn't just politics that hadn't made much progress over three hundred and fifty years. Taking a dump in space still involved a disturbing arrangement of straps and suction pumps. At least having a pee was relatively straightforward--that's if you were a man. The women on board had all undergone a little cellular reprofiling procedure to make suction tube use more convenient and less prone to slippage. It was a supreme test of character to ignore that during sex.

That passage is from p. 718 of Pandora's Star and should serve as a warning to anyone tempted by the attractive prose decorating the back cover.

Look past the volleyball

Greetings from the land of super basic cable! Like the rest of you, I've been swept up in the late night M*A*S*H revival. Sometimes I even use the flash back button on my remote to watch two episodes at once, though that only works when two channels happen to be simultaneously showing episodes with the same cast. You just can't integrate M*A*S*H circa Frank Burns with M*A*S*H circa Charles Emerson Winchester. No sir.

But here's something that's been bothering me. I distinctly remember that, in my childhood, Hawkeye subscribed to girlie magazines prominently featuring nude beach volleyball. As near as I can tell, though, no records of those magazines exist in the syndicated version of the show. This leads me to doubt my memory, so here's a question for all of you. Did those magazines exist in the original run, or did my adolescent mind conjure them up? Also, for the historians and cultural critics among you, I'd appreciate some information about the cultural phenomenon of nude volleyball girlie magazines.


Mitt Romney sucks, episode 23

Here's a tiny piece of the debate I mentioned below. Here you can see Ron Paul making sense, and Mitt being a douchebag:

Toward a typology of American conservatives circa 2007

In a comment below, I wrote of Ron Paul that, "He's the candidate with the views most attractive to traditional conservatives." I spent a lot of time worrying about what adjective to use before settling on 'traditional', and now that I've had another twenty minutes to think about it, I'm still not sure if I made the right choice.

What I wanted to get at was that Ron Paul is the guy you'd most expect a 1960s vintage Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley to support. The only point of disagreement I can see is that Goldwater (and Buckley for all I know) seriously bought into the cold war and Paul, at least recently, has been pooh-poohing the Vietnam domino theory when talking about getting out of Iraq.

One of the odd things here is that while we take it as read that the coalition on the left is fractious and divided (we don't even know if we're progressives or liberals anymore!), even in the face of massive evidence to the contrary we tend to talk about conservatism as if it were a single coherent movement. Or maybe another way to put this is that we tend to see disagreements on the left as disagreements between ideologies and disagreements on the right as disagreements within an ideology.

Or maybe that's completely wrong. Anyway, I was thinking about this today and I came up with the four claims that seem to me to carve up the major varieties of conservative thinking. In no particular order, they are:
  • The United States should consolidate its status as a hyper-power, and should use this status to further its interests.
  • The United States is first and foremost a Christian nation, and our laws should reflect and promote this fact.
  • All government action, and most especially taxes, are restrictions on individual liberty and and so should be restricted to the greatest extent possible.
  • The most proper function of government is to serve the interests of the owning class.

The first three correspond roughly and respectively to neoconservatism, social conservatism, and libertarianism. The last probably isn't something that anyone other than Conrad Black would publicly avow, at least not the way that I've worded it, but I think it's out there nonetheless.

One last thought. While there are certainly conservatives who emphasize one or the other of these principles, it's also clearly the case that these ideologies overlap quite a bit. For example, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, would seem to subscribe to all four. My Uncle Bob, on the other hand, thinks that the first and fourth are batshit insane, but agrees wholeheartedly with the second and third.


Hey, there was a presidential debate this morning

Sunday morning seems a strange time for a republican presidential debate. Aren't the people to which they are pandering all in church?

Anyway, I'm blogging from my phone, so I'll be brief. But what struck me more than anything else was this: The "top tier" candidates in this field are substantially worse at the format than the "fringe" candidates. Indeed, even Duncan Hunter comes off as more serious than Mitt or Rudy. Is this Bush's legacy for republican politics?

P.S.: Ron Paul is awesome.

Hey, there was a presidentiaeba

Update: Yeah that sucked.


So, when does Baghdad get its first roller derby squad?

I had no idea until I came across a blurb on the Austin Chronicle's website today.

I wonder if President Bush knows that the name of Austin's qa'im makam--sorry, mayor--is Will Wynn. Hell, maybe that's the reason!

I can see it now: erecting another Stevie Ray Vaughn statue just like the one on Town Lake--again, sorry, I mean "Lady Bird Lake"--only bigger, and in Fardus Square.

p.s. Does anyone else find it hopelessly tragic that a combat brigade, who serves at the mercy and whims of foolish politicians and furthermore is primarily skilled at, you guessed it, combat, is trying to establish proper working local governments?

A rare complaint about Apple

Look, it's 2007 and I'm a Mac user; if I can't put my brand new computer to sleep and into its bag in less than 10 seconds, something is seriously wrong.

He's talking about "Safe Sleep," and he's exactly right.


Across the frozen white wasteland

Exciting stuff happening at the North Pole this week:
Russian scientists hope to dive in two mini-submarines beneath the pole to a depth of more than 13,200 feet, and drop a metal capsule containing the Russian flag on the sea bed.
The symbolic gesture, along with geologic data being gathered by expedition scientists, is intended to prop up Moscow's claims to more than 460,000 square miles of the Arctic shelf -- which by some estimates may ontain 10 billion tons of oil and gas deposits. |CNN|

Let somebody else deal with the geopolitics. I'm fascinated by the idea that dropping a flag on the sea floor has something to do with the legitimacy of a territorial claim. Is the practice really that well entrenched in the international order? And does this mean that the USA owns the moon?

Also, I'm pretty darn sure that Admiral Peary planted an American flag on the pole back in ought nine. Does it really make for a stronger claim to plant a flag on the sea bed underneath the ice shelf? It's hard to figure which entrenched practice would make it so.

Bill Richardson as the "electable" candidate?

DLC types love to tell Dems that they should play for middle-of-the-road independents instead of taking firm progressive stances. Well, according to David Weigel, it looks like those independents love them some Bill Richardson:
That's been going on for a while. Pollster.com, which tracks the primaries and averages all the surveys, has noticed Mr Richardson gaining everywhere. In Iowa he's gone from negligible numbers to the low teens, near Mr Obama. In New Hampshire he's moving past Mr Edwards into third place.

But the internal numbers in that Smith-featured poll are fascinating: Mr Richardson's making the biggest gains with independents. In South Carolina only 1% of Democrats support Mr Richardson, but 9% of independents do. In New Hampshire it's 6% of Democrats and, again, 9% of independents. The Iowa poll's the real blockbuster: Mr Richardson has an outright lead with 25% of the independent vote. That's what's pushing him into the first tier.

The Iowa and New Hampshire numbers matter; those are both states where independents can show up to the caucus or primary and signal their intention to vote Democratic. When I reported from New Hampshire in June, Ray Buckley, the state's Democratic chairman, crowed that two-thirds of independents are planning to vote in his party's primary. Nearly half (44%) of New Hampshire voters are registered independent. If Mr Buckley is right, there'll be as many independents voting in Mr Richardson's race as there will be Democrats.

Personally, I think that the reason Richardson is climbing with independents is that people are tired... Richardson's most attractive quality is that he exudes non-partisan compentence. However, Weigel offers up another possibility:
Mr Richardson has the most extreme Iraq pullout plan in the race—all troops out of the country, no permanent bases. A lot of those non-Democrats and ex-Republicans who ditched Bush in 2006 like the sound of that.
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