Thursday, January 30, 2003

Ongoing Adventurers

You might notice I've been leaving Ben Shapiro (Boy Prognosticator) alone for a little while. Ben is Jewish, and he's been largely commenting on Israel. He obviously feels a personal stake in this and it's improved his writing a bit, up to a point.

But yesterday Shapiro made kind of a goofy argument. Apparently it's this; Islamic people, who as we know are the source of evil in the modern world, are trying to claim all the worlds Holy Sites as their own. Unfortunately for media commentator hoping to mock him, Ben then becomes more reasonable and informative.

His main comment is that the media choses to portray the wailing wall as the holiest spot in Judaism. In fact, the wailing wall is just the only part of the temple that remains on the temple mount, where the Dome of the Rock Mosque currently exists. Although Muslims have been allowed to retain the mosque for now--they will eventually have to clear out so that the Third Temple can be built. As Ben says, "When the Third Temple is built on the Temple Mount, the world must know that it is not Jewish usurpation of a Muslim holy site, but reclamation and redemption of the holiest site in Judaism."

And there is the rub, I suppose. Not much wiggle room there, and I suppose there can't be. It's ok as long as we are talking about things that will happen down the road when the Messiah comes--but it feels more like Ben is talking about something that can and must happen soon. And given the religious basis of his argument, its not something that is negotiable. Such arguments only point to continuing turmoil.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Quote of the Day

From Paul Craig Roberts, apparently a conservative, writing at Townhall.

"An invasion of Iraq is likely the most thoughtless action in modern history. It has the support of only two overlapping small groups: neoconservatives infused with the spirit of 18th century French Jacobins who want to impose American "exceptionalism" on the rest of the world, and foreign policy advisers who believe that the primary aim of U.S. foreign policy is to make the Middle East safe for Israel.

No one else sees the point of the pending conflict. Abroad, there is no meaningful support. Nuclear powers Russia and China are in opposition, as are NATO allies Germany and France. The Bush administration is reduced to boasting of support from Hungary and Poland."

Interesting commentary. Of course Roberts has to ruin it later in his essay by commenting, "Sooner or later, whites will wake up to the realization that they are being marginalized in their own country, and they will cease to support the two political parties that have marginalized them."

2003 State of the Union,

Sorry About This

Light Posting today probably--sorry about that after the exciting State of the Union, which I assure you, I do have strong feelings about. But have computer situation change here, so have to stay focused here.

Hang in there.

For those who missed the address and wish to read it or see it, here it is.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Looks like a very firm resolve against Iraq, but no new information. Here's where he talked about how great the Armed Forces are. And they are.


Well, Bush has made it clear that he will act unilaterally if he has to. So that's good news.
One Positive Thing

President Bush has heard of the African Aids Epidemic. He's talking about fighting it, and calling on the United States, as a "blessed nation," to do our part. I like hearing this.

He just asked for $15 billion over the next ten years i think? Interesting.

The State of the Union

So far he's focused on the economy. Essentially the tax cuts are great, and Government should do a lot less. Sen. Daschele looks pleased.


If you visit Townhall today, you will see this headline.

Is now the time to act?
President Bush isn't sleeping at night, worrying about the Iraq situation. Is now the time to take care of Saddam?

Of all the reasons to invade Iraq, this has to be the dumbest--we need to invade because we're worried about the stress on President Bush? Anyway I'll go read the article and if it says anything interesting, I'll get back to you.

France and Germany and Sheryl Crow

Boy, conservatives sure love it when actors, comedians or rock stars take political positions. They must salivate every time Sheryl Crow or any other activist opens his or her big mouth. Of course they prefer dippy rock stars to eloquent and well researched speakers (such as Janeane Garofalo, who remains, in all honesty, a national treasure). So Sheryl Crow saying "I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow," is like mana from heaven.

You see it's so much easier to argue with Sheryl Crow who, in these quotes at least, sounds like she's maybe been in the sun to long. And commentators (especially me) are lazy.

Diana West, writing today at Townhall utilizes this tactic in discussing France and Germany. "Remember the "huge karmic retributions" Ms. Crow spoke of? Both France and Germany cite a potentially heightened risk of Islamic terrorism as a reason not to go to war in Iraq, a notion that should perplex the average citizen of the Free World now living with an already heightened risk (and reality) of Islamic terrorism -- without going to war in Iraq."

Of course many people have made sound reasoned arguments suggesting that the war on Iraq could increase the danger we face from Middle Eastern Terrorism. But those arguments are complicated and in some cases difficult to argue against. So instead Ms. West would rather pretend that there is no link between American Foreign Policy in the Middle East and Terrorism. The only link one could imagine, in her analysis, is "kharmic" (shorthand for non-existent.)

She also bizarrely fails to realize that things could get worse, both for us and Israel. Is she really that naive?

The war against Iraq may turn much of the Middle East further against the US, particularly if there are numerous Iraqi casualties (One of the architects of the current pentagon invasion plan, Harlan Ullman, stated that the goal of this war is; "We want them to quit. We want them not to fight. . . . you take the city down. You get rid of their power, water. In 2,3,4,5 days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted." To this end the current plan put forward by the pentagon calls for us to launch 800 cruise missiles in the first day. Ullman also discussed the possibility of using Tactical Nuclear weapons, which the Pentagon has also suggested as a possibility. For more info see Ira Chernus's article today at Commondreams.).

What effect will this have on the middle east? It means policemen seeking out terrorists who target Israel and the west will be a little slower (except, presumably, in Israel. It means young men will see the United States and the West as having declared war on the middle east and will turn to the only weapons they believe they have. Is this definitely going to happen? No, but it doesn't take any sort of mystical kharma to believe it might.


If you happen to visit Townhall today, you see the following headline.

Is now the time to act?
President Bush isn't sleeping at night, worrying about the Iraq situation. Is now the time to take care of Saddam?

This has to be the dumbest reason to invade yet. In essense we should invade to relieve the stress on President Bush? And maybe he should spend a minute or two worry about our economy while he's at it.

You might see a ghost post later on that looks like this one--sorry if you do.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Make Me A Commentator Revealed!!!

Here at Make Me A Commentator we've recently had a sit down interviewer with the founder and sole writer of Make Me a Commentator. Here it is.

Make me a Commentator : So what's your website all about, Mr. Know-It-All?

Bryant : Well, I think you have the gist of it right there. I like commenting on the news of the day in such a way as to make it clear that I'm smarter than pretty much everyone.

Make Me a Commentator : Oh yeah! If you're so smart, how come your not on TV?

Bryant : Well, that's a good question, but not one I can really answer--perhaps you should interview some TV news program executives?

Make Me a Commentator : You sound like one of those namby-pamby, brie-eating "journalists" who gets his marching orders from the Democratic National Committee.

Bryant : Oh my. That's not really a question. But I get my orders from a guy downtown who dresses like the Hamburgler, and he's never told me what party he's affiliated with. I thought it was the Hamburgler, but was shocked lately to find that the Hamburgler is a cartoon character and doesn't exist.

Make Me a Commentator : Ok, Bryant, lets get down to brass tacks. Are you a commie pinko?

Bryant : No, I'm just the regular kind of pinko.

Make Me a Commentator : Well, we'd like to thank you for your time. And before we let you go, please let me say that I oppose you and everything you stand for.

Bryant : Thanks, I get that a lot.

So there you have it. We hope this clears up any confusion as to what this website is all about. Sorry for the levity, but we will get to more serious issues later in the week--so stay tuned.

Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq

Three articles on Iraq (so far) today. One an editorial article (sans Author) borrows a leaf from on why we should attack Iraq immediately. Because if we don't show Saddam how tough we are the rest of the Middle East will think we are wimps and will immediately begin building Nuclear Bombs and increasing terrorist activities. Hmmmm. So showing the middle east we don't care about international law and will invade any of them at any time will lesson terrorism? At any rate the main reason the article annoyed me was that it used the phrase, common in conservative circles right now, "the liberation of the Iraqi people." First of all there are dozens of nations around the world who deserve liberation just as much as Iraq, if that is going to be our new policy. And second, lets not forget we comfortably funded Iraq at the time when he was using weapons of mass destruction on the Kurds and the Iranians. I don't bring this up a lot, but it does fit if we are going to get all weepy about "the liberation of the Iraqi People."

That aside, I wish we would fight this war to liberate the Iraqi people. I wish I believed this war would result in better lives for them. But we all know it won't.

William F. Buckley has an interesting take on the exile proposal, discussed last week. "The value of an ultimatum does not rest solely on whether it is acceptable. It defines a position. The accommodationist forces are at high speed mobilizing opposition to a ground war conducted by the United States. One set of reasons against such a war is vivid and undeniable. There would be casualties, including civilian casualties. There would be reprisals, conceivably featuring Saddam's (to be sure, nonexistent) apocalyptic weapons.

So Saddam turns down the ultimatum. In reasonable moral arithmetic, it becomes Saddam who, by the single act of refusing to step down, brought on war.

This actually makes sense--it is unlikely that Saddam will accept it, but it would give a solid reason to go into war, and it would let the US act mercifully. If Saddam rejects our mercy, than what choice do we have? But nobody is taking exile seriously as near as I can tell.

Robert Novak has some kind words for Colin Powell, which I appreciate. It is common to read in Conservative articles or to hear on the radio how wrongheaded Powell is, and how needs to support his president. What they usually mean is that Powell needs to support what I think the president should believe in, out of deference for my view of what President Bush believes. So it's nice to see Novak acknowledging the valuable service Powell has provided as Secretary of State, by pushing the US towards a more multilateral solution in Iraq.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Two New Sites

Picked these up from This Modern World. It turns out the Republican Party has an apparatus where by they send out letters to various newspapers, getting the same "Letter to the Editor" in dozens of papers across the country. The letters are written by the Republican Party, and not by individual citizens as you might expect. This website has been tracking the phenomenon.

Then there is this website that is calling for a boycott of all the products that advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show. I don't know about that. I suppose if some people feel that way that's fine--but I suspect Rush will be fine in the long run, so I'm not going to worry about it. I wouldn't buy most of the products on the list anyway. So perhaps its a grey area.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

"The most important thing to the Democrats is the reacquisition of power. The worst things that can possibly happen to them are a revived economy and a successful Iraq liberation."

"They think they lost the election because they didn't get their message out. They don't understand that they did get their message out, and the fact that they did - and that the voters saw them for who they really are - is why they were so shellacked in November."

"These appeasers will do anything to stop the war, simply because they think it will be a political success."

Just when you thought it was safe to go into a cloak room.

Well Rush makes it clear that the only way Democrats can win is to abandon all the things the believe (that they don't really believe in anyway, but just pretend to believe to get votes) and become good Republicans. In that way they could win elections, but they are too stupid to do it, and so stick to that evil Liberalism. Voters saw who the Liberals were and so the Republicans won a couple of tight races.

It's nice to let the Republicans set the terms of debate because that way the Democrats can't win. Because they are assumed to have the basest most selfish motives for everything they do, well, they are damned if they stick to their principles and they are damned if they give up those principles.

I personally would stick to my principles anyway--but that's not been recent Democratic party history.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Oh No! Commercials! Fast Food! Run awayyyy!!!!

It turns out that the modern world is bad for us. Commercials according to Brent Bozell are now too sexually suggestive. In particular he finds fault with commercials I haven't seen, and one that I have. The Nike ad with the streaker. He comments, "Unfortunately, it's chosen to make a streaker the star of its commercial, albeit with his private parts pixillated. The streaker disrupts a very realistic-looking soccer game broadcast, outrunning security guards and then suggestively twirling his hips around a flag in the corner of the field. If you streak in public, you get arrested for indecent exposure. If you streak on TV, you can be the star of a commercial. To be sure, there are creative flashes to make the viewer laugh, but they would be utterly lost on many 12-year-olds watching a football game."

Oh no! What if the Nike ad sets of a new wave of middle aged guys streaking at Soccar games? Think of the scars that could be inflicted on America's Legions . . . er, Dozens of Soccar Fans. Oh, the humanity! And please Mr. Bozell, can't we do something about Ray Stevens? He's been corrupting America's youth for a long time now.

Plus I hate to say this, but Mr. Bozell has a particularly low opinion of 12 year olders if he thinks they can't get the joke.

Not only do we have to worry about Commercials, but it turns out McDonalds is fascist. They make the place uncomfortable and different from the quiet pleasures of a sit down restaurant, not because they want people to eat and get out, but because they want to impose a fascistic system on their customers. There's danger everywhere. I'm going home to get back in bed. I've tried hiding under my bed, but it's just to hard and uncomfortable down there.

Joking aside, both articles do have some good points mixed in with their fear mongering (from both the left and the right), but I'm tired of being afraid. I was afraid all day yesterday, and it's just too tiring.

Our Apologies

We'd like to apologize for inadvertantly posting Brandys comments twice. We're not going to apologize of course, we'd just like to.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Into Battle With the Art of Noise

The Art Of Noise suddenly realized . . . that he who seeks
to mediate between two thinkers stamps himself as
mediocre; he has not the eyes to see uniqueness to
perceive resemblance everywhere; making everything
alike, is a sign of weak eyesight.

Sometimes its good to remember.

Edited to add, I don't want to imply I had anything to do with the Art of Noise--just a fan of their music in my younger days.

A Time For Fear (Who's Afraid?)

Yes it's time for fear. If you are not afraid you should be. There's a bad moon rising. Old Man Trouble's walking the land. The Grey Squirrel of Doom is gathering its nuts.

Still there are bright spots. Salon has gone back to providing its content for free. The catch is that you have to click through some ads to get to the story. I heartily support Salon (the rest of this article not withstanding), and so I'm happy to see that. I can now link to their site as I see fit.

However, they chose to inagurate this new service yesterday with news of fear. The charmingly titled Worst Case Scenarios lay out all the terrible things that will happen in The Middle East, the Fiscal Crisis, Iraq, The Economy, The Environment and Abortion Rights. Essentially, there's a possibly that if Bush is not stopped, the Economy will crumble, State and Local agencies will turn away deserving poor, Iraq will be recipient of a nucular bomb, the Middle East will become even angrier at the US and will send more terrorists, the entire planet will become uninhabitable and woman will not be able to have abortions.

Oh no! Why this Bush fellow must be stopped before he destroys us all. Let's Get Him! Unless, you know, Salon writers have some sort of political motive for painting such a dark picture.

The Wisdom of Brandy

Sorry for the light posting yesterday, for those who follow this site closely. In response to yesterdays posting on the Peace Movement we have comment by the entirely unreticent Brandy.

Ok, I MUST comment on the topic of these ignorant 'peace people':

First off, YES some people are hurt. Talk to any Vietnam vet who was spit on after arriving home or couldn't get a job because they fought. Whether or not one agrees with the war, these boys go and put their life on the lines and then because so many of these ignorant protestors can't separate the two, the military boys do get injured.

Second, did you LISTEN to what any of the peace ralliers said? I heard ONE thing on WHY we shouldn't fight. Everything else was on blacks, bush and bullshit. I have yet to hear why we shouldn't fight. (And believe me, as the love of my life is sent to Iraq, I would LOVE to hear a reason to not have our military over there.)

Third, does nobody study history? In the mid 90's Saddam was putting together nuclear weapons...if you watched the History channels program on 'After Desert Storm' they SHOWED the evidence. Do people REALLY think that once Saddam kicked the UN out he got rid of all that stuff...oh, I'm sorry, I'm sure he kicked them out and hasn't let them in till now because he wanted to clean house without anyone watching...yes, he IS a good, man. (sorry for the sarcasm, but nothing gets me going more than ignorance).

And last...This is why we are going to war...Saddam is close, or does have nuclear capability. Is he going to hit American soil? Of course not. Is he going to hit Israeli soil. YES (by evidence of him bombing Tel Aviv in Israel in 1991. Well let me tell you something about the Israeli army -they are FIERCE. They will NOT allow this to happen. Saddam just has to aim his weapons at Israel and they will DESTROY Iraq...then the rest of the Arab nations will turn on Israel...BLOODBATH!, both sides fight dirty. Now then, whose side will the US be on? How about other world powers? This is NOT a war ANYONE wants to be involved in. Therefore, by ousting Saddam we SAVE so many people.

PLEASE PEOPLE, pick up some history books, don't be so naive, and LEARN for yourselves what's going on, really LISTEN to what people are saying...most of those talking were SO ignorant it was frightening.


A few responses from yours truly, Resident to a Friend.

1) Some protestors are stupid, and equate the soldiers fighting the war with those within the Bush administration and Congress who are pushing for war. That being said, I don't see widespread attacks on our soldiers. And it's not right to equate the entire peace movement with those few morons who choose to attack Soldiers.
2) I didn't actually attend the rally so can't comment. It's true that Bush is a rallying figure for the anti-war movement--his arrogance in pushing for war unilaterally is very polarizing. And any political movement is hip deep in bull****.
3) Although it is often said on both the left and the right that Saddam kicked the inspectors out--but that is not actually accurate. The truth is that President Clinton was planning on bombing Saddam, and so the head of the UN inspector team pulled his team out for safetys sake.
Changed the Quote on Top

Should have done this before--but in honor of Joe Strummer who recently died we present a new quote at the top of the page. We'll get to Rousseau eventually.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The Peace Movement

Due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to investigate the peace movement this last weekend here in Tallahassee. However as well all know there were massive demonstrations in Washington D.C., San Francisco and many other places around the world.

David Horowitz took a moment this week to give his view of the situation. Horowitz was, once upon a time, a far left liberal. And now he's a pretty staunch conservative who runs a website which focuses, last time I looked at it, on black racial violence against whites. He's pretty dull most of the time, unless he's being attacked. Then he really gets interested and engaged and writes a lot better.

Well his take on the peace movement is interesting. "During the Cold War, the radical "peace" movement bullied right-thinking Americans into silence. Our government lost the ability to stay the course in the anti-Communist war. The result was the Communist slaughter of two-and-a-half million peasants in Indo-China after the divisions at home forced America to leave.

"Once again, the hate America left is attempting to silence right-thinking citizens. It is attempting to divide the home front in the face of the enemy. Even as we go to war. It is stabbing our young men and women in the back even as they step into harm's way to defend us."

The standard canard from the right. The only reason we lost in Vietnam was because of the peace movement. If people had supported the war wholeheartedly and not been swayed by evil protesters, we would have won. Of course this ignores the very real concerns about China possibly getting into the war. It also assumes that the United States could have convinced the Vietnamese people to support an out of touch elitist dictator. It also assumes that if it had not been for the protesters the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations would have prosecuted the war to its fullest. It assumes a lot of things. But it's a pleasant fiction for the right, so let it go.

But let me ask you this question; how is the peace movement attempting to silence right thinking citizens (a phrase so poisonous I could spend an hour on it)? Do supporters of the war run the risk of losing their jobs? Of being thrown in jail? Of being publicly ridiculed? No. The most you can say is that they might have to occasionally deal with someone who disagrees with them. That's part of life. And perhaps David Horowitz still has a little growing up to do.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The Wall Street Journal Makes News

Here's a front page story on Monday's Wall Street Journal.

So the X-men and other super humans are no longer human. This will make it easier for us normal humans to enslave them. Soon super people will be cleaning our rain gutters, and making our Cherry Pies. But some humans resist this glorious future. The Wall Street Journal goes on to print;

In case you are wondering the story is really about how Marvel got it's action figures reclassified as non-human so as to get cheaper tarrifs. Apparently the judge concluded that the Mole Man--Foe of the Fantastic Four--was the most human. And perhaps Brian Wilkinson needs a little firmer grasp of reality.

Last Weeks Weekly Rush for You

Well, I didn't post on this last week, but should have. Rush repeated it today. Al Sharpton is seeking the Democratic nomination for President and many other Democrats (including your humble commentator) don't want him to get it. So that makes the Democratic party, all of the other Democratic nominees, and yours truely, hypocrites. See if we really believed in racial justice and in upholding the black man, we would immediately nominate Al Sharpton, and all other democratic nominees would drop out of the race.

That's because all black people are functionally identical. The only important characteristic of Al Sharpton is his skin color. For the Democratic party to look past his skin colors to his stance on the issues is hypocritical at the least and possibly racist.

At least according to Rush Limbaugh, who also took time today to proclaim himself America's Leading Citizen.

A Coup

Well there's a new plan being put forward, primarily by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In it, Saddam Hussein leaves Iraq for sunny Tripoli or someplace else, for an extended vacation. The US has supported the plan, seeing as it fulfills their request for a regime change without the expense of a war.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. opposes this plan. Calling it a coup, he says that it will just bring the next man to the top of the list. And anybody who's served in Saddam's Iraq is tainted, and probably evil. He basically assumes that if we put someone new in, we are going to do it sight unseen. While surely the Saudi's might like such a plan, the US isn't going to do that. Anybody who takes over will have to follow a more peaceful line, and accept the continued presence of UN inspectors.

He argues that accepting a coup will have betray the Iraqi people. ". . . we would lose not only the opportunity to free one of the most industrious and capable populations in the Middle East, perhaps transforming Iraq into a prosperous and peace-loving nation. We would also squander the chance to create a model for bringing real democracy and economic opportunity to a region desperately in need of both."

Oh how I wish I could believe that the long term goals of the United States involved helping the Iraqi People. I would be one hundred percent behind this war if that were the case. But we know that that's not true. President Bush has made his feelings on nation building clear, during the Presidential debates. ". . . .we can’t be all things to all people in the world. I am worried about over-committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. I don’t think nation-building missions are worthwhile."

Monday, January 20, 2003

I'm Disenchanted

I go out to walk the dogs--and what do I see by the Mailboxes? A copy of that special letter that they prayed over specially to me. And on a hunch, I look in the trash can there--and see two more. So I guess i'm not as special as i thought.
One More Thing

As you can see from the bottom card, this letter was scent to "Resident to a Friend." So here's my question, how did they know my name?
I Get Mail

Well, here's some more mail--but this mail came into my mail box instead of into my e-mail box. Lets take a look at it.

So here's my image--some guy at a printing press--reading out the addresses and saying a quick prayer over each one. Why do Iget the impression that's not what happens? Inside there is a card you can fill out.

Hmmmmm. Do I want better blood pressure? Or maybe a continuous money blessing? It's so hard to decide.

I'm not irreligious myself, but I'm not really into people who are using Christ to make a quick buck.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

We Now Turn to our Military Correspondent

Well you’ve probably all heard about the pilots who fired their weapons in error and killed some Canadians. We checked in with Justin Gries, our military expert (and my brother). Justin has credentials. He commented;

They need to be prosecuted for not following protocol. Obviously they didn't mean for anybody to die, but they got egotistical and over stepped their bounds. It sets a bad precedent if you don't persecute them. The whole reason ground-air combination forces work is that they are disciplined. Military service is not like the real world; mistakes can cost lives. So mistakes or disobeying of orders must be punished.

So there you have it.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Over at Commondreams

Realism does not seem to be the order of the day over at Commondreams. You have a nice article by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman in which they visit a policy discussion seminar and disrupt it because it fails to sufficiently address corporate crime, corporate welfare, and corporate violence. They relate their experiences in a question and answer session on the magazine.

"Here you have The New America Foundation and the Atlantic Monthly taking money from Shell, and ADM, and Lockheed Martin, The Hartford, and the Nuclear Energy Institute to write about the real state of the union, and you ignore corporate power -- just don't talk about it?

At this point, one of the young New American kids takes the microphone from our hands and won't hand it back.

We pry it from his hands and continue to address Fallows.

In the essay about crime, why do you write nothing about corporate crime and focus solely on street crime, ignoring that corporate crime and violence inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined?

And in the essay on welfare, why do you focus solely on black Americans, and ignore corporate welfare, which costs more than all individual welfare combined?

The lousy part is that they do have some good points. Corporate crime and corporate welfare are serious issues. But it's clear that these two chaps are far more interested in provoking a response than in changing anybody's minds. The truth is that Mokhiber and Weissman don't think that these people are capable of changes. So why bother? More fun to just fight.

In lighter news, Max Page, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, suggests that Democrats unpack the court. Yes, they should interfere with the President's power to appoint people to the court. "Democrats should now stall all new appointments to the Supreme Court, as they come available, in what many still consider an illegitimate Bush presidency." There's no way that scheme could backfire on the Democrats. That scheme just doesn't have the potential to play into the President's hands. And the case he references--President Roosevelt's Court Packing scheme--worked out perfectly for the Democrats.
One Other Thing

The President did tell the bone chilling story of a Scranton, Pennsylvania who was hounded by Pennsylvania malpractice laws, forced to move to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Dan Perkins over at This Modern World picked this up first--clever lad.
Tort Reform - Presidential Style

President Bush has called for the following steps to deal with Medical Malpractice suits.

- Secure the ability of injured patients to get quick, unlimited compensation for their "economic losses," including the loss of ability to provide unpaid services like care for children or parents.
- Ensure that recoveries for non-economic damages do not exceed a reasonable amount ($250,000).
- Reserve punitive damages for cases where they are justified, and limit punitive damages to reasonable amounts.
- Provide for payments of judgments over time rather than in a single lump sum, to ensure that appropriate payments are there when patients need them.
- Ensure that old cases cannot be brought years after an event.
- Reduce the amount that doctors must pay if a plaintiff has received other payments from an insurer to compensate for their losses.
- Provide that defendants pay judgments in proportion to their fault.

This is better than some of the proposals I've seen. There's no provision that allows for the intimidation of those who would bring suit. But this set up does emphasize once again that American Juries are incapable of handing out appropriate damage in these cases. You will also note the lack of mention of Insurance companies in this framework. Unusual that he would choose to leave the insurance companies out, as we all know they play a role in this.

Listening to Political Crap on CNBC last night (the show may not have been called Political Crap, but I was having a hard time sleeping and so may not have been paying proper attention) some dude made the point that Senator Edwards (quoted earlier this week) is a trial lawyer. This bill, which has little chance of passing the Senate, is more of a political shuffle, taking a swipe at Edwards, without having to defend insurance companies (who are not loved much more than lawyers in the US).

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Those Stupid Voters

It's interesting to note a real strain of elitism creeping into Conservatism lately. They have always been against elitism--or at least a certain type of elitist. The pointy head intellectual type. But they recently are showing they don't trust the American people.

- Many arguments in favor of tort reform contain the idea that American Juries can no longer be trusted. They often prefer to focus on trial lawyers (unless they happen to be a trial lawyer, like David Limbaugh), but they make it clear that "juries made of people too stupid to get out of jury duty" are irresponsibly giving money away.
- They are taking pot shots at the american working class for not carrying his fair share of the load. You know those lucky duckies who don't pay enough income tax.

Well today Cal Thomas attacks polls. This is nothing new--Republicans have doing this for a little while. And given the news that the Presidents approval numbers have dropped to pre-September 11 figures, perhaps its expected.

Thomas complains that the pollsters are asked questions that they really can't answer because they are stupid and ill-informed. He states, "The first question in the Gallup survey asks, "Based on what you have heard or read, please say whether you favor or oppose each of the following economic proposals."

Heard or read? Heard from whom and read in what? Do we know where the respondents are getting their information? If it is from the broadcast networks, or newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, the likelihood is they will reflect the bias against Bush's domestic and foreign policies contained in those media.
" Yep, and if they got their news from unbiased sources like Cal Thomas or Rush Limbaugh they would know better.

He repeats the conservative mantra that Bush is going to do what he believes in, not what the polls tell him. That may be true--but I have no doubt whatsoever that Karl Rove is watching this like a hawk. After all if the polls accurate reflect what the American people think (which is another question entirely), than Bush may not get that second term he wants so badly.

Lazy article by the Madison Capital Times editorial staff today, published at They spend several paragraphs reminding us of who Martin Luther King Jr. was, and discussing his comments on war and the United States. They then quote him at length. Lazy way to write an article, but still very good. They quote MLK as having said;

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken - the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. ...

Sobering Words

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Juries - Are they Good or Evil?

Here is David Limbaugh arguing that American Juries don't know what they are doing.

"We must understand that the problem is not just trial lawyers preying on society -- though more than a few of them are. They can't file suit without willing plaintiffs, and they can't sustain their cases without receptive judges and sympathetic juries.

Sadly, these plaintiffs, judges and juries are simply a reflection of a society that has lost its fundamental appreciation for liberty and is following an inexorable path toward forfeiting all of it.

Interesting that he lets the Lawyers off the hook, considering that the Law is his chosen profession. But here to argue that American Juries can be trusted in matters of life and death, we present David Limbaugh.

"Society has a vital moral interest in punishing wrongdoers (as prescribed by the jury). And can you imagine the wasted effort, energy and agony that went into working up these cases, prosecuting them and deciding them?"

So did you get that? If Juries are going to decide against corporate interests, they can't be trusted. But if they are going to send a man to his death, they must be the deciding word.
New Link

Added a new link along the left there--reload the page if you don't see it--for Eschaton. It's another Blog, but it's pretty well done. Check it out.
I Get Mail

Today I recieved a letter from Dr. Billy Agu of Nigeria. He states, " the process the sum of US$27M (Twenty Seven Million US Dollars only) was found lying in the tatal suspense account after the foreign contractors had been paid their We all agreed that this over-invoiced amount be transferred (for our own use) into a bank account provided by a foreign partner, because we are government workers and the Code of Conduct does not allow us to operate foreign accounts." Apparently the Code of Conduct does allow them to embezzle $27 million, but not to operate foreign bank accounts. I also appreciated that this $27 million was only in US dollars and not in that bizarre foriegn money.

Apparently they've already lost $5,000,000.00 on trying to run this scam, I mean, affect this transfer. The poor dears. So they turned to the one person they knew they could trust. Mean Joe Green. No wait, make that everybody in this office building.

He also warns me against trying to verify any part of his story. "So far, much have been said and due to our sensitive positions, we cannot afford a slip in this transaction neither can we give out identity as regards our respective offices, but whereby cordial relationship is established, smooth operations commences, you will be furnished with details of all you deserves to know."

So all I have to do is give him my bank account and i'll get $22,000,000.00 in it, and then split with the six chums and all will be well. Wait a moment. Commentator-sense tingling! I sense deception! Oh no. Maybe i'd better not get involved.

For those interested in the entire text of the lettter, here it is. For those who have recieve similar letters--it is scam.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


For those who have heard the Parable of the ten men who went to dinner ("Ten guys went to dinner, and they decided to pay their dinner bill. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. So you see if we don't coddle the rich they will leave America and society will collapse."), there's an excellent analysis of it at

Here's my version.

"Ten men went to dinner. The first five had the complementary bread and water. The sixth had a side order of fries and water. The Seventh had a small house salad and water. The eigth had a chicken fried steak, some fries and a soda. The ninth had a nice steak and salad, with a glass of wine. The tenth had a five course meal with salad, soup, lobster and steak, desert and coffee.

"When the check came, the tenth picked it up and said, "Well there are ten of us and the bill is $100.00. That will be $10.00 each."

This is of course a terribly flawed parable, but it's no worse than the other one.
Bryant Startles All By Posting on a Non-War Subject

Bryant Gries, an Internet Commentator, took a moment on Tuesday, January 14, 2003 to post on a subject that had little if nothing to do with the forthcoming war with Iraq. He posted a brief discussion of Presidential John Edwards, whom he described as "exceedingly hopeful." Bryant confirmed that he had done little to no research on the Senator, describing him as having hair that is about the same color as Dan Quayle.

This bizarre-non war post concerned itself with a quote the Senator had made in The Senator stated, "I believe people who sit on juries are the same people who decide elections in America. Juries are a microcosm of America. People who don't like juries deciding a case don't like regular Americans. In this country, the power has always been with regular Americans deciding elections. I have enormous respect for regular Americans. They decide elections and I certainly think they should be allowed to settle disputes between Americans." Bryant commented, "I don't know much about the Senator, but I agree with him on this issue. And on his choice of hair color."

Bryant did stress that he was still 100% focused on the war, and would return to posting vaguely worrying depressing posts on the war as soon as possible.
More on the Forthcoming War

The Pentagon wisely decided to leak their war plans to MSNBC today. Apparently they plan on bombing Bahgdad intensively for about a week, then sending in ground troops. They might send in an Army/Marine combined forth across land from Kuwait, or they might have Marines land along the coast of the Persian Gulf, or they might have Marines take advanced positions, using Helicoptors to get them there. They expect the fighting to be largely over within three weeks.

So three weeks to the war, and then three weeks of the war. We'll check back in six weeks and see how these plans go.

The article does contain this potential wrench in the works. "Military officials predicted that the worst of the fighting could be over in two to three weeks, assuming Iraqi President Saddam Hussein doesn’t try to prolong his control by using weapons of mass destruction."

Nothing to worry about. After all we've said repeatedly that we will eliminate him regardless of what he does--what incentive would have have to use them? The kicker is that if and when he uses weapons of mass distruction on American Troops, well, that will in retrospect have justified everything we did to provoke him.

Yeah and Saddam is going to try to "prolong his control" by using weapons of mass distruction. Yep, that's his goal. He's a reckless idiot. Well, he is a reckless idiot--but anybody paying the lease attention should realize that using what he has will be an act of revenge, not control.

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Friedrich Nietzsche

We are entering a brave new world of international diplomacy--a world where we can invade any country we want at any time. I'm sure the world will breath easier.
Are You Experienced?

Oliver North said on Fox News's morning show, as Fox News specialist on the military, that he believes that war between Iraq and the US will officially start within three weeks. He believes that the commitment of troops that the US has made necessitate that.

So get ready.

Monday, January 13, 2003

More on Race

Just read an article by William B. Allen entitled Why Race Atheism Fails. The article begins by saying, "Recurrent nightmares come to notice as opportunities for new dreams." I read that sentence some 10 times before finally giving up. I think it came from a fortune cookie. (Had chinese food today myself; my fortune-"You are given the chance to take part in an exciting adventure.")

Anyway the rest of the article is something about how the Conservatives, believing that race should not matter, don't adaquetly defend themselves when attacked by Liberals. They should instead embrace the label "Black Republicans," by which Allen means, "to pursue an aggressive strategy of calling upon American blacks in the positions of highest visibility and highest influence—not to deal with "black issues" but precisely to deal with the life and death issues of American democracy." It actually makes some sense, as the positions of Condeleeza Rice and Colin Powell demonstrate.
Those Lousy Democratic Senators

Alcohol is bad, apparently. It's legal in this country, and so companies are allowed to manufacture it. But the fact that some companies choose to manufacture it is immoral. And the fact that black Senators and Representatives don't fight against alcohol with every breath they have is proof that they've been bought off with dirty alcohol money. This is the thesis of Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, in their latest article.

They report the horrifying news that Hennikin has committed $250,000.00 to create the Louis Stokes Health Policy Fellows Program to help narrow the gap between the health status of black people and white people. Hennikin also produces alcohol for profit. Some of that alcohol goes into the African American community where it fuels African-American alcoholism. You see the problem? Here is a company making money selling a legal product that some people misuse--of course the African Americans who choose to drink themselves are blameless, it's Hennikens fault. And even if they are willing to pump hundreds of thousands of money into helping African-Americans, that money is dirty and evil.

They complain that promotional material that Henniken puts out discussing this program doesn't focus on the ravages of alcoholism. This just in, Congress has passed the Mokhiber-Weissman resolution requireing all coorporate promotional material to attack the company producing it.

They castigate the Black Senators and Representatives for failing to fight alcohol. Of course there's no point wasting time speculating that perhaps the Congressional Black Caucaus has better things to do than focus on this particular issue. And at any rate, what are they supposed to do? Are Mokhiber-Weissman suggesting we give prohibition another go? Maybe just for black people?
The Film Critic, the Historian, the Pundit, and Democracy

There's an excellent article today at Salon about film criticism. I love Salon. They have great articles, and solid writing. They are broke, unfortunately, and have had to require subscription to see much of the site, particularly politics. So rarely comment on their site. Today however, Charles Taylor, writes an article on the necessity of FIlm Critics. He is responding to an article in Daily Variety, which slammed critics as being elitist and unnecessary. Taylor, as a critic, comes back with a somewhat nebulous argument on the value of criticism. He points out that movie makers would love to get rid of criticism as a bad review could and does hurt movies.

However he also grapples with one of the key problems with film criticism; anybody can do it. He tries to defend the critics, say, "It risks the elitist label to say that critics should know more than their readers about movies, but it's really just common sense. Don't we expect a foreign correspondent to know more about the Middle East or equatorial Africa than the readers do? Do we second-guess our plumbers about our clogged drains, or our doctor about our clogged arteries? But expertise in an area where everyone assumes they are an expert is assumed to be snobbery."

This idea, that anybody can be an expert in films, applies elsewhere. Anybody can be an expert in history for example. I've had historical discussions with people based on half remembered high school classes, stories their grandpa told them, and theories picked up on the internet or elsewhere. It is difficult in those discussions to say, "Well, nothing i've read in the dozens of books i've reviewed, argues that or provides any information to support that position." When argueing with a Historian, he or she would be required to point to evidence, and that gives one a solid point to pound against. But argueing history with a non-historian is often like punching fog--there's nothing solid to latch on to, no proof, just an opinion. And tearing down someones opinion based on your own personal authority does make one feel like a bit of a snob or elitist.

Politics is another area where this problem exists. We are all citizens of the United States, and as such we should all be experts in the politics of the day. But of course many of us aren't. And both parties and their spokesmen have a vested information in obfuscating certain facts. Perhaps we should have a special class of people, designed to study the issues of the day, and present to us their opinions, which we normal people could then follow. We could call them Pundits or Commentators. Wait a minute, we already have Pundits and Commentators. And they obfuscate as much as anybody. So what's the solution? How do we negotiate between the scylla of Expertise and the Charybdis of Democracy? Anybody with a definitive answer, e-mail me.

Incidently, movie critics and commentators aren't picked for their knowledge, however much Mr. Taylor might want to suggest that. They are picked for their ability to present their information well. Either they write well, or they look smart on tv. But you already knew that.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

Well, as i'm sure we all know, Tom Daschle has dropped out of the race. As he said at his announcement, "I’ve concluded that at this moment in our history, with so many important decisions to be made about our nation’s future, my passion lies here in the Senate." While you may not like Daschles politics, his statement seems clear to me. He thinks he can accomplish more in the senate.

But that was until I read Rush's take on the situation. He reported that he had dropped out, but then went to a Washignton post story that reported that his wife was staying with Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, as an airline lobbyist. Look at the way he words this story. "The Washington Post reports that Linda Hall-Daschle told her law firm that she would leave to stand by her man in any presidential campaign. If she'd left her job to advance her husband's career, it would've been the first time in a quarter century that she would have not been working."

Did you catch the subtle code there? I know that not all of you have recieved your Rush Limbaugh Decoder Rings, but to make it clear, Republicans don't like women working. Woman working are bad, unless they are writing diatrabes against Democrats (also known as the Ann Coulter Loophole). Women who work can't be trusted. Also Tom Daschle is unmanly to let his wife work, and apparently make more than he does. We wouldn't be surprised if the wussy Tom didn't drop out so his wife could keep her salary.

That's Rush, always willing to tackle the tough progressive issues facing 1947.

Here are some definitions for you, to guide you as you wander the wacky world of commentary.

Descredited Plan (as used by John Nichols yesterday) - any scheme which most people within your party or political bent don't believe in. See for example, discredited Democratic social programs or discredited Republican economic policies.

Terrorist (as used by conservative pundits) - Al Queda, Hamas.

Terrorist (as used by liberal extremists) - the United States, Isreal

Rogue Nation (as used by Conservative Pundits) - Iraq, North Korea, any non Western Europeon nation that challanges the United States or any Corporation based in the United States.

Rogue Nation (as used by Liberal Pundits) - the United States, Isreal.

New Tone (as used by David Limbaugh, today) - President Bush's bizarre and wrongheaded plan of working with Democrats to pass legislation he obviously doesn't believe in, such as the education bill. Alternatively, it means not crushing the democrats like bugs but instead realizing that they have political power and must be worked with not against.

Policies of Racial Equality (As used by David Limbaugh) - Making sure that America is safe and fair to white people.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Further thoughts on Cloning

Here are some thoughts from Brandy, an exceedingly clever lady who reads this site and wrote me a letter on cloning. Enjoy.

Here is my 2 cents on the cloneing subject: I could really care less if people are cloning themselves...people who shouldn't reproduce at all, let alone mix 2 bad DNA together to do so have been having kids for centuries...the world seems to go on. My problem with the cloneing issue is what will happen to all the babies born deformed? In animal cloneing the number of deformed babies is so much higher than any that aren't. And even of the more successful clones has many problems.
Australian Spiders to be Sent into Space

Yes, famed indie group, Australian Spiders, are going into space, where their inventive mix of funky basslines, electric zither, and melodious cat scratching will be a real lift to those people stuck up there.

No actually it's real spiders--30 Golden Orb spiders are in the program, but only the eight friskiest will make it into space. The Orb Spiders build particularly symetrical webs so that will enable researchers to discover whether or not spider webs would make a particularly good beverage holder. It has so far proven difficult to find the ideal beverage holders for those long nights when the orbitor orbits the earth about a thousand times.

In truth I think they already have something involving velcro--but it's still kind of a funny bit. More politics soon.

Well it's hard to write an article about cloning. It's the sort of subject that invites grandiose soul searching--but that's not for me. I vacuum my soul twice a week so its hard to find anything there. But in my attempts to understand cloning I've come to one conclusion. It's very very annoying now, and it will get worse.

Make a list in your head of the people you know who think the most of themselves. Now consider a list of who you think the most likely to clone themselves might be. I stipulate that list A will look a lot like list B. Just what the world needs, more people who are stuck on themselves. (On a related note, Blogspot, which powers my weblog, has just pased the 1,000,000 mark.)

It does pose troubling questions. One position, taken by Jacob Sullum, is largely that if the technology exists it will happen. He cautions against thinking a clone inferior to a human. We already have examples of people with identical DNA in identical twins--many of whom turn out quite different. He states, "As Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey has observed, a person and his clone would in fact be less alike than identical twins, since they would be separated in time, probably by a generation or more, and would therefore have quite different experiences. In any case, there is no question that they would be distinct individuals, each with his own rights and his own life to lead."

James Carroll takes a more pessimistic track--asking what does cloning say about the age old question--what does it mean to be human? Some people might feel that that question is a new one, but it isn't. It goes back to our earliest times, when villages looked at other villages down the river and asked "Ughh Ughhhh Argghhh ughhhhh." Or to put it another way, do those people down the river--are they basically like us? Or are they totally different? Do our laws and accepted mores apply to them? Or, if they aren't human, what does it matter if we cheat them or lie to them or kill them?

Or to shift gears--are Muslims human? Are Iraqis?

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Quote Change

Can't find much more to write about today--so changed the quote at the top
War may no Longer be Inevitable

Steve Chapman, writing at, published a column today on the potential of war in Iraq. His conclusion--unless the Inspectors come up with something soon, we might not be able to invade. By committing himself to working through the United Nations, Bush opened himself up for this. He comments, "the administration would have to justify going to war to punish Hussein for transgressions that no one has been able to prove. To the rest of the world, Bush would be in the position of holding a trial and then hanging the defendant after his acquittal."

Conservatives have certainly laid the ideological groundwork for him to attack without provocation and to ignore the UN. In this sense, however, I don't think that's what Bush will do. He and his advisors must realize that such an action would be terrible for how the United States looks in the world.
That can't be right

Last not on NBC's The West Wing, one of the charectars was throwing around the figure that less than 1% of the United States Budget went to foreign spending. I did some research this morning, and it appears that information may be correct. The US spend about $25,227 million on conduct of Foreign Policy. When you take out $7,154 Million for the running of foreign policy, and an additional $910 million for communications efforts, you are left with $17,163 million or a little over $17 billion. The entire Budget is $2.1 Billion. That works out for about 0.86% of the national budget. So for every $100 the Government collects, people in the rest of the world get 86 cents.

Now it looks a little worse if you take foreign policy as a subset of Discretionary spending. The United States budget is divided into two halves--discretionary and non-discretionary. The non-Discretionary includes Social Security and other programs that Congress, in it's wisdom, has declared that they will not touch. Non-Discretionary spending makes up 63% of the annual budget--leaving just 37% for programs that Congress has to approve each year. Out of that, Foreign aid accounts for 3.25%.

National Public Radio, which I love, and many would like to see closed down, will get $454,000,000 or about 0.021%. In other words for every $100 the government collects, NPR gets 2 cents.

Those interested in finding out more can check out the White House site where I collected this info. For those who watched the episode, I agreed when it was said that we don't sell foreign aid right. It's not giving money to poor people, it's not charity. It's investing in making the world a safer place.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

E-Mail Me

I changed the format a bit ago and apparently screwed up the e-mailing capabilities. Sorry about that--anyway, for those interested, the correct e-mail address is above and is
The End of Dividend Taxes

Two things about this issue--first of all, Republicans are fond of saying that more than half of America has money in the stock market, and therefore a cut in Divident Taxes will benefit all. In fact, most small investors now have their money in 401k's or company IRAs that are already untaxed. Secondly, those who benefit from this tax the most are going to be those who's portfolios are large and diverse. I don't invest for dividends myself--and I don't know anybody who does. I invest because I think the value of the stock is going to go up. If I had much more money than I do, perhaps I would feel different, and I would drop money into blue chip companies who always pay dividends--but so far that's not been my plan. So William F. Buckley's postering aside, this is a tax break for the wealthy.

Second, it's clear to me at least, that this is not going to stay part of the plan for long. It's half of Bush's plan and it's terribly easy for Democrats to criticize. So he "compromises" and eliminates this part of his plan to take it down to the more manageable $3 to $3.5 million.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

The Future Is Crap!

OK, so here we are in the future right--and what a rip off. No Lasers, no flying cars, no space ships. And then they mess up the things we do have.

Like Seven Up--this probably happened a while ago and I didn't notice but I noticed tonight. When I was growing up, Seven Up was the Un-Cola. "Crisp and Clean and no Caffeine." was their slogan. Well, look at the picture below.

You note the complete lack of a "Crisp" clear color. And although you can't see it, it says right over Seven Up--Caffeinated. So they are no longer Crisp, and they are no longer lacking caffeine. I haven't come up with a way to test if the soda is "Clean" as of yet, but until I do I'm not drinking it. After visiting the 7-up Website, all the bottles there look normal--so perhaps this is reverse Seven Up--you can see that the label is on upside down. Or perhaps I've entered Bizzarro world.

One thing hasn't changed--Dogs come running for the delicious taste of Seven Up. It helps that they are color blind.

For those concerned, he only got a sip.
Where the Dollars Go

Great article today by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, on why giving tax breaks to the middle class makes more sense than giving them to the wealthy. Essentially the argument is that the problem with the economy is that there's not enough spending. Our industries are producing in great amounts and are capable of producing more--but if people can't buy the products, well, that production doesn't do us any good.

He stated " . . . the members of the royal class are spending about as much as they want to spend. No amount of extra money in their diamond-studded pocketbooks will cause them to spend much more. . . . The president's plan responds to the nation's two overarching economic problems -- overcapacity and widening inequality -- by worsening both."
And We'll Have Fun Fun Fun

Cal Thomas has revealed in his column today the secret to Conservativism's success. "Conservatism is optimistic and fun. Liberalism is pessimistic and dour." What could be simpler? Thinks look so great when you stick your head in the ground, but the sand often gets in your ears.

He also continues the current Conservative mantra--if only the Democrats would embrace conservatism they could win. Well, they sort of did, and got widely and correctly attacked for abandoning their principles.

Monday, January 06, 2003

This Just In; Civil War Won by North

Some facts to begin with.

1. The South fought the civil war in order to defend their rights; specifically their percieved right to own other human beings as slaves.

2. The South began the war by attacking Fort Sumter, inflicting a war on the North that caused 360,222 deaths to Northern troops, which also cost the South 258,000.

3. Most confederate soldiers may have been valiant noble men--but they were duped by rich land and slave owners into a war to preserve slavery.

The National Park Service has decided to put a monument at Gettysburg to talk about Slavery, and Pat Buchanan is mad about it. I'm happy about it. I'm tired about hearing about how the war had nothing to do with Slavery. I'm tired of hearing about how the North were the villians in that war. The South began the process of Succession before Lincoln had done anything. The South began the war based on what they thought Lincoln would do. Basically, the only way the north could have acted morally in these little playlets the South has constructed is to basically let the South do what ever it wants. It's like a child who throws a tantrum, and afterwards blames the parent for pushing her over the edge.

After the war, the south initially acted as if nothing had happened, some tried to hold on to their slaves, and they enacted laws to ensure the former slaves keep their "proper place." The North imposed some Democratic principles, which held during the period known as reconstruction. They did such horrible things to the South as letting the Blacks vote. So the South began a reign of terror against Blacks and Southern Republicans (both born in the South and transplanted) that involved arson, murder, and terrorism, as referenced last week.
The Standard of Proof

You ever notice how if you come across a story that reflects what you already believe, it's very easy to believe that story. Or conversely, if a story contradicts your views, you take your time to examine the story in depth to find the flaws you know must be there.

Last week, at a press conference, President Bush was asked whether or not we could really go to war with our economy in its current condition. He responded saying, "Well, an attack from Saddam Hussein or a surrogate of Saddam Hussein would cripple our economy. . . . This economy cannot afford to stand an attack. And I'm going to protect the American people. The economy is strong, it's resilient. Obviously, so long as somebody is looking for work, we've got to continue to make it strong and resilient. My most important job is to protect America and Americans, and I take that job seriously. " Not Shakespeare but clear enough in my mind. President Bush believes that the US economy would be hurt if Saddam Hussein were to attack us or (more likely) were to use terrorist surrogates to attack us with weapons of mass destruction. He believes that Saddam Hussein has the potential to do just that. Therefore he feels it his duty to protect us by eliminating the threat of Saddam. Now one can question factually these statements.

But that's not enough for Linda McQuaig, writing in the Toronto Star, reprinted at In President Bush's statement is the clear statement of purpose. As she puts it, "It may have its drawbacks but, according to George W. Bush, nuclear war could prove an indispensable tool for maintaining a buoyant economy."

Later in her essay she states, "At what point does the personal comfort level of Americans and their allies cease to be the most important thing on the planet, for which everyone else in the world is simply expendable? And we wonder why they hate us?

What will be next? Biological warfare against any nation exporting scratchy sweaters or food that gives us gas?

Again, unless you read Bush's words with the special binoculars that Ms. McQuaig is wearing, it's clear that Bush was asked an economic question, and he responded with an answer on economics. The disruption of the economy that Bush is referring to would be a terrorist attack using weapons of mass distruction. Whether or not that's likely, it is a ligitemate concern for the Commander in Chief to investigate. And he believes the threat is real (as President Bush apparently does), then he has a responsibility to take action.

Edited at 3:48 because I screwed up some words.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

Listening to Rush during my lunch break, and caught the tail end of a story about a jury finding against a corporation. I didn't catch any of the details of the case, but twice caught Rush using the phrase "juries made up of people too dumb to get out of Jury Duty."

Rush has had problems with the Jury System for a long time. He apparently sees it as untrustworthy. In essense he doesn't trust the American people. The only reason, in Rush's mind, that a person would serve his community by serving on a jury, is stupidity. The idea that some might see it as a patriotic duty apparently doesn't occur to him.

Perhaps he would prefer cases be decided by Judges. Often well off, they would sympathise more readily with the wealthy. Perhaps they would have little empathy with any who would bring suit against corporations, and if they did, well, a judge is a public figure, and in many cases has to run for election.

I believe in the American people. I believe in the Jury System. I believe in the Bill of Rights. But everybody's entitled to their point of view.
Those Ivory Tower Unmanly Lily Livered "Deep Thinkers"

Thomas Sowell, in his article at today, follows the standard conservative policy of attacking some vaguely defined political left for not understanding the world situation and seeking to appease Iraq. He has appointed Senator Patty Murray as a spokesmen for the left after some foolish remarks she made. (She stated apparently that Osama bin Ladin's generosity in the third world was what made him so popular.) Sowell makes the comparision to the United States after Pearl Harbor, saying ". . . when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans woke up -- and grew up. The September 11th terrorist attacks have had a similar effect on the American public at large, but not on the American left in politics, the media, and academe." For those who are not aware, the chief opponents of World War II were Republican Isolationists, not pointy headed academics.

This is standard Conservative ideology. Academics cannot be trusted (unless of course they develop the "correct" opinions.) Sowell, like so many others, tries to play off America's natural dislike of any group of people who think themselves better than the rest of us. But he offers no proof. Senator Murry's comments were not made in a spirit of I know better than the rest of you, but in a discussion with high school students. I suppose Sowell doesn't need to prove Academia's moral failings; certainly many believe that anybody who chooses Academia as a way of life is weak kneed and lily livered. As he says, they are "consumed by their own sense of wonderful specialness."

This issue hits particularly close to home as I have a Master's degree in American History, and have considered returning to the Academic life. I've always had a hard time with the proposition that my interest in History makes me less of a man, less of a person, and unfit to comment on the issues of the day. On the other hand, I also struggle with whether or not to correct the misrepresentations and half truths generally believed.

Here's a bonus question;

Reconstruction failed after the Civil War because;
1. Nothern Carpet Baggers and Scalawags ran enormously corrupt governments, aided by foolish Blacks who proved incapable of Governing themselves.
2. Southern whites launched a campaign of terror against Unionist politicians (Northern or Southern) and blacks, involving murder, lynching, bombing, arson, and other forms of terrorism.

Thursday, January 02, 2003


Like Ann Coulter I am upset at the state of Modern Journalism. Why just today, I opened my newspaper of choice (largely because I get to look at it for free) and there on the front page was a multi-column opinion piece/editorial masquerading as journalism. It looked at an issue facing the American people and clearly argued one side of the issue.

Of course my newspaper of choice is the Wall Street Journal. One the front page one sees this article.

So in case you missed it it is the position of the Wall Street Journal that Bush would increase the efficiency of the system, but might not because he would be attacked for championing the rich over the poor. Gosh, do you think so? If Bush pushes for a repeal of the estate tax, a tax break for investment earnings, and accelerating the income tax reduction already in effect, some might see that as putting the interests of the rich over the poor.

If this article were a presentation of the issues, an attempt to give both sides of the story, than perhaps it would belong on the front page. But it doesn't. For example no mention is made of the opposing argument that exploring income taxes without an analysis of payroll taxes (Social Security) and sales taxes paints an unfair picture. When payroll taxes and sales taxes are factored in, our tax system flattens out quite a bit. Now I certainly appreciate that there are reasons (and not all of them selfish) that conservatives want to limit this discussion to income tax, but to not even address the question makes it clear that the Wall Street Journal has made up its mind on this issue.
Some Thoughts

"Most journalists are so stupid, the fact that they are also catty, lazy, vengeful and humorless is often overlooked." - Ann Coulter

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Journalists' quotes are as accurate as feminists' statistics about anorexia." - Ann Coulter

"If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend." - Abraham Lincoln

"Apart from being a college professor, there is no easier job in the universe than being a journalist. For 99.999 percent of writers, there is no heavy lifting, no physical danger, no honest day's work." - Ann Coulter.

I suppose it's unnecessary to point out the immense difficulty in being Ann Coulter. Aside from writing a column a week (here's this weeks, from which I lifted the above quotes) and appearing on TV regularly, she also does other stuff. So you can see her life is much more difficult than being a journalist.

More to come on a real newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, and their front page editorial on the Lucky Duckies of the world.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

A Picture

Just to present both sides of the issue, without having to think or write. Plus pictures are cool.

An Honest Environmentalist

There are three kinds of environmentalists in the world, loosely speaking. The first group try to get businesses to pollute less, and are focused on community issues and the direct impact of pollution and waste. The second kind are the animal activists, who have some points but some extremism as well.

The third kind promise a worse life for you and your children. They promise that either we will change our ways to live austere lives, possibly returning to 18th century technology, or the world is doomed. Most prefer not to put it that way, but that is what they are promising. George Monbiot is this third kind of Environmentalist, and he's written an article entitled, "Our Quality of Life Peaked in 1974. It's All Downhill Now."

In it, Manbiot basically says that everything sucks and will continue to suck. He is firmly anti capitalist, calling capitalism "a millenarian cult . . . built upon the myth of endless exploitation." He concludes his article by saying "We need to reverse not only the fundamental presumptions of political and economic life, but also the polarity of our moral compass. Everything we thought was good - giving more exciting presents to our children, flying to a friend's wedding, even buying newspapers - turns out also to be bad." It's all very cheery, and according to Mr. Manbiot, should begin happening in the next 5 to 10 years.

Environmentalist have to figure out a way to sell their point of view as something positive, not this terrible end of time situation. But they don't seem interested in doing that--I suppose it's less morally pure.