Friday, June 18 2004
MORE ON THE MEDIA SPIN:
Andrew Sullivan has the quote from Democratic Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton that I was looking for earlier this morning. It basically destroys the media's attempt to discredit the White House.

I must say I have trouble understanding the flack over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that. What we have said is what the governor just said, we don't have any evidence of a cooperative, or a corroborative relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and these al Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.

Is the New York Times going to apologize? J. McIntyre 10:46 am

PRESS DISTORTIONS ARE OUTRAGEOUS: The press is having a field day trying to spin the story that the 9/11 Commission has conclusively contradicted the W White House on whether there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Yesterday The New York Times began their lead editorial titled The Plain Truth:

It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

The problem is the 9/11 Commission never said there were no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda and President Bush never said that Saddam Hussien was involved with 9/11. The panel's chairman, Thomas H. Kean , said just yesterday, "Were there contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq? Yes."

The President made it very clear following his Cabinet meeting he was not backing off one bit:

Q Mr. President, why does the administration continue to insist that Saddam had a relationship with al Qaeda, when even you have denied any connection between Saddam and September 11th. And now the September 11th Commission says that there was no collaborative relationship at all.

PRESIDENT BUSH: The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

Brit Hume's Special Report exposed the Associated Press line of questioning and their conclusion:

The AP leads off its story on a new 9/11-commission report by saying the document -- "bluntly contradict[s] the Bush administration" by claiming to have no credible evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11th terrorist attacks.

In fact, the Bush administration has never said that such evidence exists. President Bush denied a connection to 9/11 as recently as last September, saying -- "we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11th."

Bush went on to say, -- "there's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties" -- an assertion that the commission's report actually supports.

Paul Mirengoff, over at Powerline does an excellent job of deconstructing similar type spin from the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank.

According to the two Washington Post men, the commission found that "the contacts that took place between Iraq and al Qaeda officials never led to actual cooperation." The two then say that the commission's report thus "challenges one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq" that "there were extensive ties between Hussein's government and bin Laden's terrorist network."

Both claims by Pincus and Milbank are false. First, the commission didn't find that the contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda never led to cooperation. Rather, as Democratic commission member Lee Hamilton is quoted as saying later in the story, the commission was only saying "we don't have any evidence of a cooperative relationship between Saddam's government and al Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States." In other words, the commission is limiting its finding to the issue of cooperation (or lack thereof) with respect to attacks on the United States (although the report also says there "appears" not to have been "a collaborative relationship"). Moreover, the commission is saying only that it has no credible evidence of Iraqi cooperation in al Qaeda's attacks on the U.S, not (as Pincus and Milbank would have it) that such cooperation didn't occur. No wonder Lee Hamilton insisted that this finding is no big deal.

Second, the commission's finding does not challenge the administration's claim that there were extensive ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. The commission found that there were contacts between the two entities, but did not focus on the extent of those contacts, only on their nature, i.e. whether they involved Iraq collaborating with al Qaeda, particularly with respect to attacks against the US

Third, Pincus and Milbank never show that the link between al Qaeda and Iraq was a major justification for the war, and I do not recall the Bush administration presenting it as such. The authors patch together statements by Bush and Cheney (some before the war, some after) discussing the connection, but that is not the same thing as presenting it as a "main justification," on par (in the author's latest telling) with WMD. The mainstream media's line on the nature of the Bush administration's justification[s] for the war seems to depend on which justification[s] can be depicted as the most vulnerable at any given time.

On CNBC's Capital Report Vice President Cheney really unloaded on the duplicity of the New York Times and the press in general.

BORGER: But obviously first the news of the week is the 9-11 Commission report. And as you know, the report found, quote, "No credible evidence that al-Qaida collaborated with Iraq or Saddam Hussein. Do you disagree with its findings?

CHENEY: I disagree with the way their findings have been portrayed. This has been enormous confusion over the Iraq-al-Qaida connection, Gloria. First of all, on the question of whether or not there was any kind of a relationship, there clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s.......There's a separate question. The separate question is: Was Iraq involved with al-Qaida in the attack on 9/11?

BORGER: Was Iraq involved?

CHENEY: We don't know. You know, what the commission says is that they can't find any evidence of that. We had one report which is a famous report on the Czech intelligence service and we've never been able to confirm or to knock it down.

BORGER: Well, let me just get to the bottom line here...

CHENEY: But it's very important that people understand these two differences. What The New York Times did today was outrageous. They do a lot of outrageous things but the headline, "Panel Find No Qaida-Iraq Tie". The press wants to run out and say there's a fundamental split here now between what the president said and what the commission said. Jim Thompson is a member of the commission who's since been on the air. I saw him with my own eyes. And there's no conflict. What they were addressing was whether or not they were involved in 9/11. And there they found no evidence to support that proposition. They did not address the broader question of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida in other areas, in other ways.

Cheney is exactly right and what the press is doing, led by The Times is truly outrageous. Their collective hostility to President Bush, his foreign policy of preemption and the War in Iraq has caused them to lose all judgment when it comes to their ability to honestly report the facts. J. McIntyre 6:46 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, June 17 2004
KERRY'S VEEP-O-RAMA CONTINUES:
Gephardt's stock rises, Vilsack takes a tumble. Richardson says he's out. And Zogby threw a curve the day before yesterday by publicizing the results of his recent polling for a Kerry-Dean ticket.

So far, the Hotline reports that 69 different people have been mentioned as a possible VP selection for Kerry.

However, there seems to be a general consensus building that John Edwards is the guy. He's a man of the people and of the elite. David Paul Kuhn wrote on Tuesday that a Kerry-Edwards ticket is already a done deal but nobody wants to say it out loud.

But Charlie Cook, quoted in the Hotline, reminds everyone that, "the last time a journalist predicted a vice president was David Broder predicting Spiro Agnew in 1968. It would be a huge mistake to try and predict it. We are always wrong." In other words, nobody has any idea who it's going to be.

CHARLIE'S COUNT: Speaking of Charlie Cook, yesterday he posted his "electoral college scorecard." As of today he has it Kerry 228, Bush 211, with 99 EC votes listed as toss ups (FL, IA, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, OH, WI).

Personally, I would probably move Florida into the "lean Bush" column and Minnesota into the "lean Kerry" column which results in a ........ 238-238 tie. Go figure.

HUMOR FROM THE LEFT - PART ONE: You can't make this stuff up:

BOSTON - In a rare public rebuke, Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has blasted prelates for threatening to withhold communion from fellow Catholic John F. Kerry because of his position on abortion rights.

After all, Kennedy told Boston magazine, "this Pope gave communion to General Pinochet," the Chilean dictator accused of thousands of murders.

The sharp condemnation is a departure for Kennedy, who was largely absent from the public debate over the priest-sex scandal in the Boston archdiocese.

The senator, a key supporter of Kerry's presidential bid, made the comment in an interview with veteran political writer David Nyhan that will appear in the July edition of the magazine, on newsstands June 29.

I have to think the "my guy should get communion because he's better than Pinochet" isn't the sort of sound byte Kerry flacks were looking for.

HUMOR FROM THE LEFT - PART TWO: I sincerely hope this is satire:

The Right is afraid. And when they are afraid, they bring out the big artillery.

And seriously, what's a harsher attack than calling someone a Nazi?

I smell fear and desperation.

If calling someone a Nazi signals fear and desperation, then you'd have to say many on the left are (and have been for going on four years now) the most frightened and desperate people on the planet. - T. Bevan 8:26 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, June 16 2004
CBS NEWS & THE CLELAND URBAN MYTH: CBS Evening News did a small profile on Teresa Heinz Kerry yesterday and in it they continued to perpetuate the urban myth about why Senator Max Cleland lost his Georgia Senate seat in 2002.

In discussing why Senator Kerry's wife changed her party affiliation CBS reports:

I was very upset at the way the party dealt with Max Cleland of Georgia," she says. Cleland is the Democratic senator who lost re-election in a bitter campaign when Republicans attacked his patriotism. In 1968, Cleland lost his right arm and both legs in Vietnam.

So according to CBS News Cleland is the Democratic Senator who lost his Senate seat "when Republicans attacked his patriotism." Now this of course has become a favorite rallying cry for Democrats and they are entitled to spin and manipulate events in any way they want.

But if CBS News wants to be considered a legitimate news organization and not a propaganda arm of the Democrat Party then you would think they would want to try and stay pretty close to the truth.

This isn't one of those subjective stories where the bias against Republicans is more a product of spin, exaggeration or distortion - this is just an outright falsehood. The editors at CBS are well aware that just because some Democrats think Republicans attacked Cleland's patriotism doesn't make it a fact.

I challenge CBS News or Democrats to produce one shred of evidence where the Chambliss campaign, the Republican Party questioned Max Cleland's patriotism. I'm not talking about some man on the street interview where CBS hunted around Georgia for two days and eventually found a few people who attacked Cleland's patriotism. I'm talking about real evidence that the Chambliss campaign, Republican officials, or their surrogates attacked Cleland's patriotism. Of course CBS won't be able to come up with any evidence because it didn't happen.

What did happen and what the Democrats and CBS are referring to is an ad by Chambliss that attacked Cleland for not supporting the Homeland Security bill, and ad which included pictures of Cleland, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. On October 11, 2002 the AP's Jeffrey McMurray posted this story:

Sen. Max Cleland is angrily defending himself against a rival's television ad that shows pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and implies the Democratic incumbent is soft on homeland security.

The ad, sponsored by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss' Senate campaign, doesn't directly compare Cleland and the rogue leaders but alleges the senator isn't telling the truth when he claims to support some of President Bush's efforts in the war against terrorism. It began airing Friday in the Atlanta market.

The ad's primary focus is Cleland's position on legislation creating a homeland security department Bush is seeking. Although Cleland supports one version of that bill, he says he won't support the president's preference without an amendment guaranteeing labor rights for federal workers.

"To put my picture up there with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and insinuate I'm not fighting hard enough for national security, I just find that this is an incredible low in Georgia politics," Cleland said.

The ad claims Cleland voted against Bush's preferred department 11 times, most in procedural votes as the legislation moved through the committee process. In a statement from his campaign, Chambliss said he appreciates the war record of Cleland - who lost both legs and an arm in a Vietnam grenade blast - but urged him to follow the president's lead on homeland security.

"Georgians deserve to know - all Americans deserve to know - why Max Cleland is more concerned with protecting federal bureaucracy, rules and regulations than creating a department that can respond effectively to future threats of terrorism," Chambliss said.

Was the ad in question harsh, below the belt, over the top? Personally, I don't think it was. The way I remember the commercial at the time and in going back and reading stories about the ad today, it seems to me like the normal type of hard hitting ad you see all the time in the closing weeks of a campaign. Now I don't have a problem with the Democrats complaining and describing the ad as a misrepresentation of Cleland's record or a "low blow," that's fine. I think they are wrong, but that is at least debatable and reasonable people can have a difference of opinion. What isn't debatable is whether the ad attacked Cleland's patriotism. It didn't.

This "how dare you attack my patriotism" is a clever dodge the Democrats regularly resort to when their policies regarding national security and defense come under attack. Senator Kerry and the Democrats have been using this tactic for months now in an attempt to deflect attention from Kerry's vulnerability on defense and security issues.

The Democrats would be better advised to debate and argue the policies in question rather than cop out and attack Republicans for impugning people's patriotism. The American people aren't stupid and they see this is a tacit admission by the Democrats that they can't debate national security issues on the merits of their own policies.

What really happened in Georgia in 2002 was the Democrats had a Senate seat they regarded as relatively safe. In the wake of Chambliss' upset victory and the aftermath of an abysmal election nationally, somebody or something had to take the blame. It was too disturbing to acknowledge that the White House had rolled the Democrats on the Homeland Security bill or to accept the fact that Chambliss ran a much better campaign in the final month of the election, or maybe the people of Georgia agree more with President Bush and Saxby Chambliss than they agree with Max Cleland and Tom Daschle. So with the facts an irritating nuisance, the urban myth was created that the reason Max Cleland lost his senate seat was because the Republicans despicably attacked his patriotism.

We saw the same sort of behavior after the Democrats lost Florida in 2000. The idea that they lost the Presidency by such a small margin was just too much to handle mentally and emotionally. Instead of looking in the mirror and asking, "why did we even let this election get this close when we have all of this peace and prosperity?" Democrats decided that somebody else had to take the blame.

So we get a whole host of urban myths about how evil republicans suppressed the black vote, even though there is no evidence to support that ever happened. They also say had the Supreme Court just let them count all the ballots properly they would have won Florida, even though the extensive post-election study by the nation's news organizations determined George W. Bush still would have won.

Urban myths and conspiracy theories are great tools to excite your base but they don't help win over the voter in the middle who is looking for the party or candidate who is going to deal with the nation's many challenges in a straightforward, commonsense way.

Like I said earlier, Democrats are entitled to say whatever they want, true or untrue, in their attempt to win over the public. CBS News, on the other hand, should not report Democratic allegations as fact that are either outright falsehoods or at best charges that are subject to vastly different interpretations by reasonable people.

The public is well aware of the spin and distortion the mainstream media use against Republicans, and the continued ascent of FOX News is a direct result. CBS News needs to wake up and start reporting the news more honestly or they will continue to lose market share, viewers and legitimacy as an independent objective news organization. J. McIntyre 8:26 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, June 15 2004
FATHER GREELEY'S REAL PROBLEM: Thanks to all who took time to write emails to Father Greeley regarding his column last week. At last count I've been copied on more than 70 emails (about five or six in favor of Greeley, btw) but so far I haven't seen anything posted to the letters page at the Chicago Sun-Times.

I did my part as well, submitting a rebuttal to Greeley's column yesterday to Steve Huntley, editor of the Sun Times editorial page. We'll have to wait and see whether it gets published or not.

Either way, we will format and publish my piece later this week, but I did want to take a moment to share some of the details of my research from yesterday.

As it turns out, this wasn't the first time Father Greeley equated someone with Hitler. Back in 1992 Greeley twice attacked Ross Perot as a Hitlerian fascist using the same disingenous 'he-isn't-but-he-is' formulation:

Chicago Sun-Times,May 31, 1992: The name of the Perot danger is facism...Take away the anti-Semitism of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and the Marxist ideology of Fidel Castro, and Ross Perot fits the model of the facist dictator perfectly - complete with plans for long television harangues once he takes office.

Chicago Sun-Times, June 14, 1992: "Does that sound like a description of the late, lamented Ross Perot campaign? In fact, it is a description of the Nazi party's campaigns in Germany in the early 1930s taken from Alan Bullock's book, Hitler and Stalin.

To be fair to Mr. Perot, he does not believe in violence or terrorism - only intimidation through private espionage. Nor is he by any wild stretch of the imagination a rabidly racist anti-Semite. Nevertheless, even though he quit the race, Perot's strong appeal to a third of the American people proves that the fascist temptation is alive and well in America.

So who's the other person Father Greeley deemed worthy of comparing to Hitler? You probably won't believe it: Saddam Hussein.

That's right, back in early 1999 Father Greeley wrote an op-ed defending Bill Clinton's decision to bomb Iraq after Hussein expelled UN weapons inspectors.

Greeley absolutely lit into the Pope, European intellectuals and American leftists for condemning the the bombing and he justified the use of force again Hussein by citing - catch your breath here, folks - the threat of weapons of mass destruction:

The Pope is a European intellectual. So are most of his staff. The Vatican paper is a European newspaper. Most European intellectuals don't like America. Nor do most European journalists.

Even such a moderate newspaper as the Irish Times uses the model of the American Goliath beating up on the Iraqi David. The United States is a bully. Iraq is a brave country resisting the American bully.

That this David is preparing not slingshots but chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons seems to escape the European intelligentsia. Their resentment of the enormous power of the United States blinds them to the danger that Saddam Hussein represents to his neighbors and to the world. The reports of the U.N. inspection team about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are airily dismissed as American propaganda.

 He has stood up to the United States and that makes him a kind of folk hero to the Europeans. They can also dismiss his atrocities against his own people as American propaganda.

In fact, Saddam differs from Adolf Hitler only in the degree of his evil. If he once develops deliverable weapons of mass destruction, Tel Aviv would disappear overnight. So, too, might Kuwait, Istanbul and Tehran. Not quite the size of the Holocaust perhaps, but the same general idea: Kill Jews and anyone else that gets in your way, but especially Jews.

He wouldn't do that, the Europeans say. That's what they said about Hitler, too.

You'll remember that in last week's diatribe Father Greeley derided Bush administration officials who cited the WMD threat in Iraq as "practitioners of the Big Lie."

There's a bit more. Though Greeley was opposed to the first Gulf War, throughout much of the 1990's he was an outspoken advocate for the use of military force - for humanitarian purposes in the Balkans. Greeley wrote a number of columns castigating President Clinton for not intervening militarily and admonishing the Pope and others for remaining silent in the face of ethnic cleansing.

In June 1999 Greeley penned a column praising the US-led air campaign in Kosovo - conducted without the approval of the UN and resulting in an estimated 500 to 1,500 civilian casualties - as morally just and he berated those who opposed the war as being driven by selfish partisanship and a hatred of President Clinton:

"The American media -- reporters and commentators, though in this case not editorial writers -- were hoping against hope for the defeat of NATO, the United States and Bill Clinton, partly because it would have been a great story, partly because they hate Clinton. Hence they are reluctant to admit that the end of the war and liberation of Kosovo is a victory and quite probably an epoch-making victory.

   So great was their falsification of the war that they had almost succeeded in turning the people against it before it ended in victory.

   Teams of experts -- former generals, former admirals, military experts and historians, former diplomats and a wide variety of talking heads were trotted out to explain to the public that the air war wouldn't work and it would be necessary to commit ground troops. They were wrong but few of them have admitted it. One general even said it shouldn't have worked.

   It was also argued that even if the air war did work it was immoral because so many civilians had been killed in Serbia and because NATO had hit the Chinese Embassy. The impression was created that the NATO planners were careless and incompetent bunglers. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy, but if one enters a war to prevent genocide, mistakes will be made. Indeed, it is remarkable there were so few civilian casualties."

So the trouble, you see, isn't that Father Greeley doesn't get it. He does. Deep down Father Greeley's problem isn't that we used military force resulting in the liberation of 25 million Iraqis, or even that we did so based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein had WMD's. Father Greeley's problem, it seems, is much more simple than that: the party affiliation of the person currently occupying the White House.

MAYBE MEANS TROUBLE: The interesting tidbit in this article isn't that Jack Ryan called-and-raised Barack Obama's offer on the number of debates between the two candidates for U.S. Senate but rather Ryan's response to questions about his sealed divorce files:

Ryan said that no matter what is released, there will be "no problems for the campaign. Would there be something that might be embarrassing to me? Maybe.

"But that's not the criteria by which I'm judging the release of those documents."

How do you suppose a pack of bloodthirsty reporters will respond to the idea that "maybe" there is "something that might be embarrassing" in the details of Ryan's divorce files?

QUESTION: What is Robert Mugabe's government going to do with $240 million worth of arms from China?

R.I.P.: Robert Teeter, former pollster and strategist for Bush 41. - T. Bevan 9:26 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, June 14 2004
IS THE CENTER SOFT OR HARD?:
You may have noticed that this month we're featuring Michael Barone's new book, "Hard America, Soft America, Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future" (Buy a copy here). And by the way, we'll also be featuring an interesting question and answer with Michael Barone later this week.

The reason I bring all of this up is because Pete DuPont references Barone's book today in his Wall Street Journal column. DuPont finishes with an interesting observation:

Spring polls are notoriously inaccurate predictors of fall voting, and Reagan's middle-class voters are in the end unlikely to support Mr. Kerry. But still, Mr. Kerry is soft and doing better than expected. Maybe the American people are just sending the president a message that his hard policies aren't working well enough. But perhaps America will decide to turn soft. A return to the economic and social policies of the 1960s would be a terrible mistake--Reagan was right that liberty is more important than equality--but perhaps that is what the American people are considering.

This is something I've been wondering about for some time now.

Four years ago George W. Bush sold America on the idea of "compassionate conservativism." It was an ideology that sought to infuse some of the "Hard" policies inherent in conservativism (free market competition, etc) into some of the "Softer" areas of domestic policy without coming off as too radical or Draconian.

Instead of an 'in your face' revolutionary conservatism like the 1994 'Contract With America', Bush chose to peddle a "Softer"-edged conservatism that advocated things like school choice and standards testing for public education and reforming Social Security to include a small percentage of private investment accounts. Even Bush's signature issue, tax relief, wasn't viewed as a particularly "Hard" policy at the time given the huge surpluses we faced.

Indeed, looking back on Bush's first term you see that aside from his accomplishments of cutting taxes (which are significant) his record on domestic policy is far "Softer" than many would have anticipated. Bush signed an education bill that was gutted of a provision to include vouchers, slapped protectionist tariffs on steel, engineered passage of a massive new Medicare entitlement program virtually devoid of free-market reforms, and endorsed what amounts to an amnesty program for illegal immigrants.

This time around, however, things are much different. Instead of discussing the marginal hardening or softening of domestic policy we are involved in a big debate over how "Hard" or "Soft" our foreign policy should be.

Specifically, we're nearing a referendum on whether Bush's robust approach to battling terrorists and his aggressive promotion of democracy around the world as an important component of U.S. national security is worth all of the mess that inevitably comes along with it, including the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and the employing of some tough new tactics against our enemies.

In other words, this year Bush has put "compassionate conservatism" more or less on the shelf. Instead, he's trying to sell the public on the importance of continuing to pursue a "Hard" foreign policy, and John Kerry is countering this by offering a "Softer", more world community-centric foreign policy similar to that of the Clinton administration.

Most Democrats are unified behind Kerry's "Softer" approach to foreign policy. Most Republicans believe in the choices and actions of President Bush and want to see his "Harder" policies continue.

The question of the moment is what that small slice of voters in the middle want, especially those residing in a few key swing states. It looks as if Bush is betting the political center in America is, at its core, more "Hard" than "Soft." We'll see whether he's correct. - T. Bevan 9:26 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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