Saturday, May 31, 2003

I'm Back

Nothing much else to say--went to a wedding this weekend, and I'm back now. Hope you are all super terrific.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Does it Matter?

So we invaded Iraq to rid the world of Saddam's nuclear missiles. And now we can't find them. In Esquire, Paul Wolfowitz has apparently stated that justifying the war by the Weapons of Mass Destruction was settled on because "it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

We failed to definitively rid the world of Saddam. Iraq is in danger of falling into the same chaos as Afghanistan.

Does it matter? Do we care? Nope, not really. The war played well on TV and that's what counts. Paul Krugman comments, "So what's the problem? Wars fought to deal with imaginary threats have real consequences. Just as war critics feared, Al Qaeda has been strengthened by the war. Iraq is in chaos, with a rising death toll among American soldiers: "We have reports of skirmishes throughout the central region," a Pentagon official told The Los Angeles Times."

So I guess you just have to ask yourself, does it matter?

Turnabout is . . . something . . .

Senator Byrd has been in the news a lot lately for his fiery rhetoric against President Bush. He's become something of a hero to many leftists as the one Democrat willing to stand against President Bush. He's also popular with people on the right for his former (1940's) involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. Brent Bozell doesn't mention that tidbit, but does call him a nut in an article today.

He then trots out this old chestnut, "When Clinton's opponents mobilized against him, when they circulated speeches on the Internet, Time called them "Clinton haters," remember? In fact, anti-Clinton politicians were maligned before they even got started."

Of course there is a difference. President Clinton's opponents were well-financed and absolutely dedicated to ending his presidency. Senator Byrd is a lone man, and, by Bozell's own argument, wields little power or influence within his party.

You also have the spectacle of Democrats giving the President everything he wants in order to invade Iraq whenever he wants, and Byrd being one of the few voices of dissent against this strategy. Can you imagine the Republicans giving Clinton that kind of authority? Neither can I.

Of course there is also the standard rhetoric about how Byrd has been proven wrong about Iraq. Our quick victory over Iraq proves that we can defeat a third world military, which apparently Senator Byrd contested. Of course the larger point that Senator Byrd made over and over again was that this attack would not make us safer and would in fact make the world more dangerous. It would give recruiting opportunities to al-Queda. It would increase tension between the United States and the Middle East. And the people of Iraq would end up more or less as they started. I hope that that last prediction does not end up being correct, but there's evidence to suggest that it will. At any rate, any of those predictions may still come true.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Aerosol is Doomed

Well, we've had a cold winter, so that apparently proves that Global Warming is a bunch of hooey. Got that? One cold winter = no Global Warning.

Ann Coulter brings us this happy news, but there is a sad side to this story as well. As Miss Coulter explains, "The key to the U.N.'s global warming study was man's use of aerosol spray. You have to know the French were involved in a study concluding that Arrid Extra Dry is destroying the Earth. In a world in which everyone smelled, the French would be at no disadvantage. Aerosol spray. How convenient."

So you see the use of Aerosol is doomed. After their impressive diplomatic victory against the United States in which they prevented us from invading Iraq, the French are heady with success and have chosen a new target. Soon all the world will be unable to use deodorant.

Well, except me, I use stick deodorant. So I'll smell good while the rest of you aerosol users will not. Hmmmmm. Maybe there's an upside here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Remember Iraq?

Well Iraq is dissappearing off the front page, which is presumably how the Campaign to reelect President Bush wants it. Rember our glorious victory over the Iraqi army; forget our obligation to the Iraqi people (and the fact that we didn't get Saddam Hussein). Thomas L. Friedman commented on this today at the New York Times.

In Iraq, it's still not clear to me how much the Bush team wants to do nation-building there. The Rumsfeld doctrine of small-force, high-tech armies may be great for winning wars, but you need the Powell doctrine for winning the peace: a massive, overwhelming investment of soldiers, police and aid. We should be flooding Iraq with people and money right now. Start big and then build down — not the other way around. Ditto on the politics side. In destroying the Iraqi Army and Baath Party, we have destroyed the (warped) pillars of Iraqi secular nationalism. We need to start replacing them, quickly, with alternative, progressive pillars of Iraqi secular nationalism; otherwise, Shiite religious nationalism will fill the void.

Jim Carrey and America

Ben Shapiro, writing today at Townhall, stated "America has been renewed. We were tired after the Clinton administration. Indifference had crippled us; scandal had jaded us. But Sept. 11 revitalized us by showing us the face of evil. We were revolted, and we vowed never again to slide into the morass of moral lassitude. If audiences keep flocking to unchic, cheesy, moralistic Jim Carrey flicks, we're on the right track."

Anybody remember Jim Carrey's last ditty, a hepped out groove called the Majestic? About the Red Scare and how it worked to destroy lives? "Peter is called for HUAC questioning, because he once attended a Communist meeting in college, but only in an effort, he protests, "to impress a girl." Suddenly [he is] blacklisted and dumped by Sandy." Yeah I guess that is a good message for America.

Or how about the Truman show, where a guy lives in a totally phony world created for the profit of a cable producer. There might be a message in that as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003


Interesting article at Salon today on the struggle concerning how to tell the history of the Confederacy. Louise Witt traces the changes that have occurred at the Museum of the Confederacy along with Gov. Doug Wilder's ambition to have a National Slavery Museum built. Witt writes;

And yet, where African nations such as Senegal and Ghana, and even the small Caribbean island, Curaçao, have slave museums, the United States does not. This country has a national museum on the Washington Mall to commemorate the Holocaust, a profound global tragedy, but one that occurred in Europe.

To Wilder, it's striking that it seems easier for Americans to confront the shameful history of Nazi-sponsored genocide. "None of it ever happened here, none of it," he says. "To the extent that Jews were persecuted here, they were persecuted along with African-Americans. There was anti-Semitism, anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-anything in terms of people who weren't the true bloods. I want to show that there aren't any true bloods in America. I don't want to talk about what was good and what was bad and who was right and who was wrong. I want to lay out the facts, so you can tell the story for yourself."

Salon's a hassle, but the article is quite good. Or you could become a member and not have to click through so many ads.

Paul Krugman on Taxes

So the first story involved Paul Wolfowitz, and this one involves Paul Krugman. Watch for an update on Ms. Pauls fishsticks later on in the day.

At any rate, Krugman has some sobering comments on the current tax cut mania in the Bush Administration.

Here's one way to look at the situation: Although you wouldn't know it from the rhetoric, federal taxes are already historically low as a share of G.D.P. Once the new round of cuts takes effect, federal taxes will be lower than their average during the Eisenhower administration. How, then, can the government pay for Medicare and Medicaid — which didn't exist in the 1950's — and Social Security, which will become far more expensive as the population ages? (Defense spending has fallen compared with the economy, but not that much, and it's on the rise again.)

The answer is that it can't. The government can borrow to make up the difference as long as investors remain in denial, unable to believe that the world's only superpower is turning into a banana republic. But at some point bond markets will balk — they won't lend money to a government, even that of the United States, if that government's debt is growing faster than its revenues and there is no plausible story about how the budget will eventually come under control.

At that point, either taxes will go up again, or programs that have become fundamental to the American way of life will be gutted. We can be sure that the right will do whatever it takes to preserve the Bush tax cuts — right now the administration is even skimping on homeland security to save a few dollars here and there. But balancing the books without tax increases will require deep cuts where the money is: that is, in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

The pain of these benefit cuts will fall on the middle class and the poor, while the tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the rich. For example, the tax cut passed last week will raise the after-tax income of most people by less than 1 percent — not nearly enough to compensate them for the loss of benefits. But people with incomes over $1 million per year will, on average, see their after-tax income rise 4.4 percent.

Something to consider.

Neocon Means Jew

Yep, conservatives are still pushing this one. Joel Mowbry, writing at Townhall today, commented on a recent Business Week article about the Neocon philosophy. Apparently several figures (including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard N. Perle) were identified as Neocons, but Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney were not. This proves that Neocon means Jew, as Wolfowitz and Perle are Jews and Rumsfeld and Cheney are not.

Or it alternatively means that Wolfowitz and Perle have been more articulate and energetic in formulating the Neocon Philosophy than Rumsfeld or Cheney.

"Ironically, nowhere in the article does one find "Jew:" or "Jewish," although Mr. Dunham did manage to cite unnamed critics who have called the neocons a "Zionist cabal." But that's par for the code-word course. People who mean Jew or Jewish carefully avoid use of either word, often allowing the word "neocon" to roll off the tongue, injected with a tinge of disgust." It's funny that the conservatives are finally admitting to understanding the idea of Code Use. For Decades they've used a form of this in the South to talk about African Americans and have consistently denied it, often denying the very idea of talking in code.

Also what does it mean? Are they saying that the only reason to oppose the neocon worldview is because of anti-semitism? Are they saying the writers and editors of Business Week were animated by anti-semitism when they wrote that article? Any disagreement with the policies of Paul Wolfowitz is anti-semetic?

Sunday, May 25, 2003

New Quote

Pretty obvious, but it's still true.

Malcolm X beat out Winston Churchill, who said, "When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home."

Saturday, May 24, 2003

That Seventies Show

Was watching That Seventies Show last night, and it was the "Punk" episode. You know the one where Hyde meets a girl going to New York to start a punk band. Fez asks what Punk is, and Hyde describes it as "The nihilistic outcry against the corporate rock-and-roll take-over. It's the sound track the revolution."

To illustrate punk, They had three punk songs in the show--Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols, Alison by Elvis Costello, and a final song, that did not show up in the syndicated version last night. Namely, "I'm so bored with the USA" by the Clash.

Here are the lyrics

Yankee soldier
He wanna shoot some skag
He met it in Cambodia
But now he can't afford a bag

Yankee dollar talk
To the dictators of the world
In fact it's giving orders
An' they can't afford to miss a word

I'm so bored with the U...S...A...
But what can I do?

Yankee detectives
Are always on the TV
'Cos killers in America
Work seven days a week

Never mind the stars and stripes
Let's print the Watergate Tapes
I'll salute the New Wave
And I hope nobody escapes

I'm so bored with the U...S...A...
But what can I do?

Obviously it could have been cut because of syndication cuts that they always do--but they did keep the montage for the most part, right before, so I'm not sure. At any rate, it's a kick-ass song, whether it fits the current political climate or not.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Twisted Logic

Follow along with Rush Limbaugh.

1. Democrats care nothing for America; they only care about gaining power.

2. Democrats can only recover power by seeing the economy go into the toilet.

3. Democrats are unhappy about the tax cut being passed.

Conclusion; the Tax Cut is definitely going to revive the economy.

Get all that? Unless of course, Rush is wrong about the Democrats caring only for themselves.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a confusing country. They are technically our allies, but a lot of terrorists and terrorist funding comes from that country. How do we reconcile the two? Well Peter Brooks, in an article at Townhall, feels that the problem is that Saudi Arabia has appeased the terrorists. He calls on the royal family to end this appeasement policy.

Saudi officials also should crack down on the terrorists and their supporters. They can start by dismantling the pervasive radical Islamist infrastructure in the Kingdom that has propagated the ideology of hatred and terror at home and abroad, including the mosques and the militant media organizations.

Addressing the root causes of terrorism is also important, and that means the kingdom must reform its social and political system. Declining living standards, increasing unemployment and the lack of basic civil liberties fuel the engine of terrorism. The Saudi people deserve a more open and accountable government.

The problem is that the royal family might agree with the terrorists or with the wahabbi sect of fundementalist muslims. In that case it's not appeasement is it? Anyway I do hope the Saudi Royal Family get their act together.

Your Weekly Rush

Here's something you can expect to see a lot over the next 18 months or so.

Here's the bold part, folks. The Democrats know they have already lost the 2004 election. Privately, every member of the Democrat Washington intelligentsia knows it. Now, some of these candidates think they have a shot, and some rank-and-file Democrats out there think they can win, but among Democrat pros, the election is over. There is not going to be a Democrat victory in 2004, and they know it.

There's nothing really bold about that statement. It's just smart politics. If Rush can, in his own small way, demoralize Democrats by telling them this election is a lost cause, than why not?

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Junk Update

Junk Update

Haven't heard back from Emmet Tyrell on whether or not his piece was satire yet. You know what, I think I'm going to stop holding my breath. I'm going to go hold someone elses.

Junk Calls

Here's some commentary from Justin, who we haven't heard from in quite a while.

I don't know how things are where YOU live, but since I moved to my current residence I have been INUNDATED with unsolicited junk-mail and phone calls. Much of this I can do nothing about, but of late I have blown a fuse about one particular group. People who you already subscribe to using your billing information to call and try to sell you more stuff.

THIS I can do something about...

Today I implemented a new policy. I have told two people so far that not only will I NOT accept their current schpiel, but if I ever get a phone solicitation from their company again, that will be the last day that they will have me as a customer. I mean COME ON people. You already have me as a subscriber every month... you can't NOT think that you are annoying your customers when you do this. You have got to know that using billing information that your customer gave you in confidence to annoy them is going you yield you one very pissed off customer. I must say that it is quite gratifying to have someone audibly backpedal on the phone.

I have also started to get information from phone solicitors about how they got my number and who to contact to get my name removed from that list. Amazingly upon hearing the words "how did you get my number" and/or "let me talk to your supervisor" many of these so called phone experts apparently lose all ability at phone operation... to the degree that they are forced to accidentally hang up on me! Wow... if only I could instill that feeling in them BEFORE they dial my number.

I just wish there were some way to fry the circuits of people who spam email.

Junk Mail

Got an offer to become the next of kin of "Late Engineer Mark Otagaki," who was building a Kenyan Airway Bus, and has since passed on. Apparently, instead of keeping money in the corporations name, as I assume would be standard practice, they decided to put it in Mark Otagaki's name. His unfortunate death has frozen this money, and so it is up to me to free this money for the good people of Kenya. My favorite part of the letter is this phrase;

I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one worried and apprehensive but I am assuring you not to worry, as all will be well at the end of this endeavor.

So, I guess there's nothing to worry about.

The Most Repressive Century in History

Emmett Tyrrel has written a piece at, in which he references this as being the most repressive century in history--but what is he talking? Smoking.

Here is the passage.

With regard to the last great persecution of the 20th century, is it possible that we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel?

The last great persecution experienced in this most repressive of all centuries is, of course, the hysterical persecution of tobacco. And the light that I hope we are seeing is the lighting of an elegant Marlboro poised on the lips of a sophisticated sybarite. Is it not about time that discerning adults be free to light up in a proper setting? In the land of the free and the home of the brave, I view cigarette smoking as a First Amendment Right.

OK, so apparently Mr. Tyrell is comfortable comparing the persecution of smokers to all the other atrocities of the 20th century, including Hitler's persecution of the Jews, the South's persecution of Blacks, South Africa's Apartheid, Pol Pot's Killing Fields, Stalin's Gulags, and so on. Boy, Smokers have it rough; they have to smoke outside instead of being allowed to blow their smoke in people's faces.

I also like the idea that Smoking is a first amendment right. What message is smoking intended to convey? "I'm not all that smart?" "I hope that future Iron Lung Models are more fashionable?"

Truthfully this article is bizarre--it's possible that it's satire, and I'm missing the point. Check out this passage; "There are other benefits to be derived from nicotine. It lightens up the gloom now experienced in such unwholesome venues as health food stores and aerobics studios, where the clientele is so morbidly obsessed with health that it has no time for life."

I'll e-mail the author and double check.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Who am us?

Just read a brilliant article by G. William Domhoff. I'd advise reading the whole thing, but these three paragraphs stood out as an explanation of why class warfare doesn't work.

In trying to bring about egalitarian social change, however, it doesn’t make good political sense to frame this picture of economic concentration and class domination in terms of one social class against another. Defining the “opponents” as “the capitalists” or “the rich” is a strategic mistake. Because the problem is developing new policies and gaining political power, the struggle should be framed from the start as a political one, not an economic one. The “in-group” should be all those who come to embrace the program of the egalitarian movement, and the “out-group” should be all those who oppose such changes.

If the conflict is framed this way, an egalitarian coalition has a chance to win over the moderates, neutrals and independents who currently identify with capitalists and might be offended by blanket criticisms of them as a class. It may even attract dissident members of the capitalist class who transcend their class interests and in the process become very valuable in legitimating the movement to those in the middle who are hesitant to climb on board.

But the problem is not just labeling all capitalists as enemies. Once the conflict is framed in class terms, those defined as members of the working class take on all virtue, and those outside the working class are ignored or demonized, whether they are rich or not. Furthermore, doing politics in terms of class categories does not sit well with most of the everyday working people to whom it is meant to appeal. The whole thrust of the average Americans’ experience is to break down class distinctions, not heighten them. They do not like to think of themselves in terms of their class identity, which immediately reminds them that they are not rich and have a lower status than they might like.

It's time the Democrats started thinking of ways to reach out to Americans instead of lecturing them. And, truth to tell, some of the writers at Common Dreams could benefit from this article.

The Failure to Provide a Solution

Cal Thomas writes an alarmist piece today at Townhall. It's one of those "Muslim" menace articles, about how terrible the Muslims are and how we should fear them.

For one thing, they are trying to take over this nation and establish a theocratic state. Cal Thomas states that he has the names of 67 known Communists in the state department. Oh wait a minute, he actually states "What if their intentions are the eventual destruction of this nation through its democratic processes and the imposition of a theocratic state? Would that be enough to get our attention?

In at least 16 states, Muslim groups, by their own admission, are organizing voter-registration drives and political consciousness-raising events for this express purpose.

Of course Thomas provides no names or the opportunity to double check his work--but why would he? We might find out that some of the groups have four or five members. Or we might find out that these groups only want to promote Muslim values, in the same way that Christian organizations want to promote Christian values.

He states, "If politicians succumb to pressure from Muslim activist groups and equate Islam with the religious and political heritage of this country, we will know that an important beachhead has been attained by our enemies. From their behavior in other parts of the world, one can safely predict they will use this beachhead to advance their cause."

And what does he propose we do about the crisis? Nothing. Well, not nothing, he does want us to close the borders. But he doesn't propose any real solution to the "problem." Instead his purpose seems to be to make us worried. To scare us. To make us think twice before welcoming Muslims into our lives. Perhaps to think about letting Muslims know they aren't welcome here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Male Sexuality

Do you like strippers? You must be a male.

Dennis Prager in his latest article comments that woman just don't have the ability to enjoy a good stripper. They apparently aren't wired that way. His proof? "I asked young women listeners to my radio show to call and tell me if, moral values aside, they could imagine themselves excited by a bunch of gorgeous men taking their clothes off and rubbing their bodies on them as female strippers do for men. Overwhelmingly they called (and wrote) to say that such images actually turned them off."

Well that settles that. Of course the listeners to Dennis Prager's radio show would be a natural cross section of America.

Of course, according to Dennis Prager, this is yet another example of woman pretending they are equal to male. "The false attempt to act like males also explains the current phenomenon of the female sexual predator -- whatever men can do, women can do better. But such behavior, like the bachelorette party, is all pretend, created by a generation of women deliberately confused about their sexual identity by feminism and the university."

I have to say I don't know what bothers me more, Dennis Prager's smug assumptions about women and their sexuality or the way he totally lets men off the hook for wanting to look at strippers. Does he really want to go back to the whole boys will be boys theory where a man's sexual infidelity is totally excused by the difference between the two sexes?

Monday, May 19, 2003

More on Jayson Blair

From the New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert.

Mr. Blair was a first-class head case who was given a golden opportunity and responded by spreading seeds of betrayal every place he went. He betrayed his readers. He betrayed his profession. He betrayed the editors who hired and promoted him. But there was no racial component to that betrayal, any more than there was a racial component to the many betrayals of Mike Barnicle, a columnist who was forced to resign from The Boston Globe in 1998 after years of complaints about his work.

Although Mr. Barnicle is white, his journalistic sins have generally — and properly — been seen as the sins of an individual.

But the folks who delight in attacking anything black, or anything designed to help blacks, have pounced on the Blair story as evidence that there is something inherently wrong with The Times's effort to diversify its newsroom, and beyond that, with the very idea of a commitment to diversity or affirmative action anywhere.

And while these agitators won't admit it, the nasty subtext to their attack is that there is something inherently wrong with blacks. . . .

A black reporter told me angrily last week, "After hundreds of years in America, we are still on probation."

Republican Questions

Great article by Robert Novak today at, about growing Republican Concerns with how President Bush is handling the Middle East. "It takes a brave soul to look the president of the United States in the eye and talk about the sour taste in Iraq following the stirring military victory of Anglo-American forces, but a few Republicans are doing just that."

Novak explores how Republicans are troubled with how the Administration is handling Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel / Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. One common complaint is that we have the strength to topple oppresive regimes like the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, but we lack the fortitude to help in the rebuilding process as we should.

This is a problem for Republicans--because the victory over Iraq has been closly identified with President Bush, and President Bush has been closely identified as a conservative Republican. If we don't follow through on our promises to the Middle East, than Republicans may end up shouldering the blame.

More to the point, helping to rebuild Iraq (and Afghanistan) is both the smart and the right thing to do.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

A Farewell to Pictures

Not all pictures. Just an end to my impromptu gallery of images. Most of the base images came from, although a few came from other sources. Hope you enjoyed them.

Obviously this was sort of a time killer while I moved. Tomorrow we will get back to the normal political commentary this site is known for.






Friday, May 16, 2003

Free Pizza Day

There's a new commercial that's on the air for some Pizza Chain. Here's a picture of it.

For those who haven't seen it, I'll summarize; It's Stupid.

But in order to appreciate my point, a more in depth summary is probably necessary. The guy who's not in a Pizza Delivery gets hit in the head with a ball from street Hockey (the game of champions). He falls down, and the pizza guy runs up (but doesn't drop his pizzas), to determine if normal guy has possession of his mental faculties. So he asks him what day it is. Normal guy says "Free Pizza day." Pizza guy says, "and the next day?" "Free Pizza Day." "Fascinating, and the day after that?" "Free Pizza Day" "Don't worry kids, your dad is going to be fine."

So you see, according to certain pizza chains, the only mental faculty they care about is your ability to buy their product. Why do I think this attitude might be elsewhere in the commercial world as well?

Thursday, May 15, 2003


Well, it's no secret that Ann Coulter hates the New York Times. You have to sort of expect that. And so naturally she's overjoyed at the Blair fiasco. And she trots out the normal hobby horses that all conservatives are trotting out. For example, this proves that affirmative action fails, and should be abandoned. And the canard that "If mismanagement at Enron had been this clear-cut, the Times would be demanding the death penalty for Ken Lay." Of course, you can't expect the relatively privileged Ms. Coulter to understand the difference between thousands of people losing their life savings and their jobs, and a few stories at the Times being false.

What strikes me about Ms. Coulter's piece is it's viciousness. She talks about "Soviet Style Reporting." She calls both Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman liars (Her accusation against Krugman is particularly bizarre. Apparently he's a liar because he wrote articles predicting a quagmire in Iraq. Does she claim that anybody who's prediction turns out to be wrong is a liar?). And she states, "As this episode shows, the Times is not even attempting to preserve a reliable record of events. Instead of being a record of history, the Times is merely a "record" of what liberals would like history to be . . ."

Nothing like kicking someone when they are down, is there, Ms. Coulter?

Of course Ms. Coulter's own work has proven somewhat factually challenged, but I'm not going to call Ms. Coulter a liar. That's not my way.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

On Afghanistan

Some of you might remember Afghanistan. It was the country we invaded because of September 11, before we invaded Iraq (because of September 11). For those interested in an update on how the country is doing, here's a nice description.

Hamid Karzai seemed like the perfect leader to head the transitional government of Afghanistan. He was well-educated and media-friendly, with family and extensive experience in the United States. He was a member of a key tribe of the country's Pashtun-speaking majority. He was duly installed as president in December of 2001, and began the job of constructing a post-Taliban nation.

Mr. Karzai is now in deep trouble. The post-Taliban era is on hold because the Taliban, apparently including their one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, are still around. Taliban guerrillas killed more than 30 Afghan soldiers and a Red Cross worker last month, and Mr. Karzai appealed to neighboring Pakistan to crack down on cross-border marauding.

The Afghan President's so-called allies are at least as worrisome as his enemies. Warlords who helped U.S. forces oust the Taliban regime were rewarded with control over vast tracts of territory. They have their own armies and collect their own taxes, which Mr. Karzai has sought in vain to have remitted to the central government. In Herat province, on the Iranian border, governor Ismail Khan has reimposed Taliban-style restrictions on women, including -- according to a recent Newsweek account -- "forced virginity checks." In Kandahar, governor Gul Agha Shirzai is winning notoriety for his corrupt, eccentric ways.

Mr. Karzai holds sway over very little territory outside Kabul, the capital. Even there, he has been forced to make concessions. He welcomed Sima Samar, the courageous physician who became a symbol of women's resistance under the Taliban, into his government as women's affairs minister. They traveled to Washington in January of 2002, for George W. Bush's post-9/11 State of the Union address. But six months later, Mr. Karzai booted Dr. Samar out of the government at the insistence of Muslim leaders, after a false press report said she had rejected Islamic law.

William Safire on the New York Times

I haven't commented much on the Jayson Blair story--obviously the whole thing is reprehensible. But I find it equally reprehensible that conservatives are trying to turn this into proof that affirmative action doesn't work. The basic assumption, apparently, is that a white person could never get away with scamming the system this way.

William Safire made some good comments on the situation, coming from the unique perspective of being a Conservative who works for the New York Times.

"Then to the affirmative-action angle: See what happens, they taunt, when you treat a minority employee with kid gloves, promoting him when he deserves to be fired? Oh, we know your editors insist that "diversity" had nothing to do with it. But remember what Senator Dale Bumpers said about our impeachment of Clinton: "When you hear somebody say, `This is not about sex' — it's about sex." This is about diversity backfiring.

Here's my reply to their Kulturkampf: For exactly 30 years, I have been supported handsomely for disagreeing with The Times's editorial page, which is dovish on defense, leftist on economics and (with the exception of civil liberties) resolutely wrongheaded. Never have I been silenced, and conservative thinkers have an ever-fairer shake on the Op-Ed page.

As for news coverage being influenced by editorial policy, I evoke the name of my predecessor: that's a Krock. On occasion, a leftist slant on a story slips through the backfield, but with conservatives boring from within and fulminating from without, the news side soon straightens itself out. What is "fit to print" is the truth as straight as we can tell it, which is why Times people are so furious at this galling breach.

Now about the supposed cost of diversity: A newspaper is free to come down on the side of giving black journalists a break if its owners and editors so choose. What's more, this media world would also benefit from more Hispanics and Asians coming up faster.

Wise Words.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

New Dollar Bill.

Apparently there's a new Twenty Dollar Bill coming out.

Great. Now the next step is to replace Andrew Jackson with Jimi Hendrix.

Your Government at Work

Went to the White House Website to see if they had posted President Bush's comments on the terror bombing in Saudi Arabia. Couldn't find anything on that subject, but I did find these comments at a photo op.

Q How's the game?

THE PRESIDENT: I need a lot of work.

Q Better than yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT: Equally as feeble. Equally as feeble. It's been a fabulous weekend here in Santa Fe. I'm now ready to get back to work. Got some travel to do tomorrow. Be talking to the country about the need for an economic stimulus package. And then we're going to go see, Tuesday afternoon, we're going to go to see some of the tornado sites. And it will give me a chance to tell the people who suffered great loss how much a lot of the nation prays for them and how we're concerned about them.

It's good that our President is focused on the things that really matter.

The Fourteenth Ammendment

Do you remember the 14th Ammendment? It was passed in the wake of the Civil War to declare African-Americans Citizens. Let's look at the first section of the Ammendment. (For those interested in a more complete version, here it is)

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

However, this law has also been used to protect coorporate interests. In particular, the part which states, "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . ." has been useful. You see, if a State passes a law saying corporation X has to improve worker's safety conditions, than, the argument goes, that State has violated the Corporations power over its property.

So, to make a long story short, Corporations are people, and thus the government cannot place any restrictions on their behaivior that they would not place on an individual. At least that's the argument.

This argument reached a certain level of absurdity lately, when Nike claimed the right to lie to its customers. The issue was reported on at "While Nike was conducting a huge and expensive PR blitz to tell people that it had cleaned up its subcontractors' sweatshop labor practices, an alert consumer advocate and activist in California named Marc Kasky caught them in what he alleges are a number of specific deceptions. Citing a California law that forbids corporations from intentionally deceiving people in their commercial statements, Kasky sued the multi-billion-dollar corporation.

"Instead of refuting Kasky's charge by proving in court that they didn't lie, however, Nike instead chose to argue that corporations should enjoy the same "free speech" right to deceive that individual human citizens have in their personal lives. If people have the constitutionally protected right to say, "The check is in the mail," or, "That looks great on you," then, Nike's reasoning goes, a corporation should have the same right to say whatever they want in their corporate PR campaigns."

Well, today Doug Bandow writes about World Com's current problems. Apparently, they are in danger of losing lucrative government contracts, because of their previous dishonesty. "Obviously, WorldCom is culpable for gross misconduct in overstating its earnings. The market rightly judged the company harshly. Credit dried up and suppliers cut shipments. So WorldCom went into Chapter 11.

However, today's WorldCom is not yesterday's WorldCom. CEO Bernie Ebbers, CFO Scott Sullivan and four others were immediately dismissed; inquiries by the Justice Department, the SEC and the media have identified no other miscreants. . . .

Corporate misbehavior needs to be punished and it has been in the case of WorldCom. The market forced the firm into bankruptcy; corrupt executives lost their jobs and have been prosecuted.

The company still might not survive. But government shouldn't make that decision. WorldCom's future should be left up to the marketplace.

As they say, you can't blame them for trying. If an individual in the United States is convicted of committing a felony, he loses the right to vote forever. He doesn't get to come back a year or two later and say to the judge, "Your Honor, I've been really good for the last couple of months, and I'd like my right to vote back." Why should WorldCom get that privilege?

More to the point, how do we, as Americans, know that World Com has changed?

Good news. I was just informed that the Supreme Court, in Marc Kasky v. Nike Inc., ruled against Nike, stating, "Our holding, based on decisions of the United States Supreme Court, in no way prohibits any business enterprise from speaking out on issues of public importance or from vigorously defending its own labor practices. It means only that when a business enterprise, to promote and defend its sales and profits, makes factual representations about its own products or its own operations, it must speak truthfully. Unlike our dissenting colleagues, we do not consider this a remarkable or intolerable burden to impose on the business community. We emphasize that this lawsuit is still at a preliminary stage, and that whether any false representations were made is a disputed issue that has yet to be resolved."

Momentary confusion

Was trying to get the logo up at the top--and I succeeded--don't know if i'm going to leave it like that or fiddle some more later--but for a day or so it looks ok.

What do you think?

Monday, May 12, 2003

New Logo

Just came up with a new logo here at Make me a Commentator!!! Hope you like it.

Maybe a little cheesy, but it's a better than nothing.

Bread and Circuses Redux

According to CBS radio news, apparently the plant in Omaha has since changed their plans. They are going to pay their workers for requireing them to go hear President Bush during a plant visit. So good for them.

Now More than Ever

Just a note to those visiting the site for the first time--remember to check out Empty Wallet Economics Explained there on the left. It's great.

And have a nice day.

Bread and Circuses

Workers at an Omaha plastics factory are getting a special treat next week. They get a chance to see our President speak, and a specially coreographed media event. Their work is generously shutting down the factory so that President can visit and drum up support for his tax cut, and is generously offering to open on Saturday so they can make up the hours they missed. Isn't that great?

Story here. Got it from Tom Tomorrow.

Are you Afraid?

I just read an interesting article by Chuck Colson on the culture of fear in the United States.

"Despite living in the "safest society in recorded history, many people feel as though they have never been more at risk."

Why? There are institutions in American life that have an interest in pointing out, if not exaggerating, the risks associated with everyday life. These include researchers, trial lawyers, environmentalists, and even the government.

The media, in its quest for viewers and readers, then hypes these risks—often without any qualification or real-world context. Since most people lack the necessary skills to make sense of these so-called threats, the result is a feeling of vulnerability that is out of proportion to any actual threat. And the government declares alerts over every indication of danger for fear of being criticized that it failed to warn people.

Well, Colson makes some good points. And as noted before we have an Administration that has every reason and desire to keep the American People afraid.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

And now, the Big Finish

For my final post of the day, in this special day of ten posts--I'd like to announce that I changed the quote at the top of the page.

Not the biggest of finales, but it has a certain charm.

Yes, but What Does it Mean?

Guess what this means? Send your best answers here and the winner will get mentioned on this very website.

One to go.

Some Thoughts on the Military

Read an article from Mackubin T. Owens on the current readiness of the Military. He states, "The Clinton administration paid lip service to readiness and transformation while under-funding both. Unfortunately, the under-funding continued under the Bush administration. Until 9/11, OMB refused to provide money to fund both current readiness and transformation, forcing Pentagon planners to choose between them. Most of the increase in defense spending since 9/11 has gone to the war on terrorism and to pay for personnel costs. It has not for the most part gone to increase U.S. capabilities . . .

In discussing the planned invasion of Iraq, he states, "Soldiers always want to hedge, and for obvious reason. They want to reduce risk and uncertainty. But they are not always right. (Take the case of George McClellan in 1862.) Leaks leading up to the war indicated that the military was only lukewarm about attacking Iraq. There are many recent cases in which the uniformed military has provided high estimates for what it would take to do a particular job in an effort to dissuade civilian authorities from undertaking it. Colin Powell did it in 1990-91. There is some indication that the uniformed military was doing the same thing this time.

On the other hand, some civilian technophiles wanted a much smaller force, some going so far as to tout the "Afghanistan model" of special forces and long-range air strikes. And, of course, air-power advocates argued that a "shock and awe" air campaign would make ground forces unnecessary.

The resulting plan was indeed a compromise, and that’s not a bad thing. It was a bold plan; it was also a flexible one. It is too bad that Helprin associates himself with the arguments of the second-guessing pundits and reporters who were quick to claim that the plan was flawed and that the force assembled for the war not large enough. This claim is essentially meaningless without considering "risk," which is measured in terms of the possible costs (time and casualties) of a given course of action.

His points are interesting, but he neglects one political aspect of President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfelds desire to run a more efficient, cheaper Military. They don't want to spend money that could be going to a tax cut.

Two to go.

I Go Pogo

While there is a strong effort right now to rehabilitate McCarthy, and update his methods for the modern world, I thought it might be fun to revisit that era with a favorite Pogo Comic Strip.

Something to think about. But again, lets remember what the Conservatives are saying about modern day traitors. They are not accusing them of treason or of betraying their country (in a literal sense), but of HAVING THE WRONG OPINIONS!!! And they'll get away with it too, unless people stand up to them.

Come to think of it, I am in the mood for some pistachios.

Three to go.

France Redux

Bought a new CD today--New York Lounge. Made in France.

Also bought a pack of those little cheese cubes from "La Vache Qui Rit."

You know what gives me cheese a special savor and my music a nice tingle--the fact that some people don't want me to listen to them.

Four to Go.

The World is A . . .

You know, Billy Corrigan aside, I'm not so sure that the World is a Vampire. I think it's more like a Frankenstein.

Five to go


Good article about how the French have been scapegoated to draw attention away from the questions of the Iraqi conflict. Particularly telling is this passage.

"Members of the Bush administration continue to attack people whose crime is being born French, and it’s clearly the administration’s duty to undo the damage before it’s too late. Responsibility for the first deadly atrocity—a possibility seemingly far-fetched until I witnessed the rapidly rising tide of irrationality drowning common sense and decency—will rest squarely on the shoulders of our leaders who unsubtlely signaled that patriotism should include animosity toward the French. A few well-chosen words from the president could halt this deplorable species of race-baiting, just as abruptly as a few well-chosen words fanned the flames."

Something to consider, although so far violence against French has been largely rhetorical.

Six to go.

The Propoganda Remix Project

Here's a picture from the propoganda remix project--I suppose it's a little simplistic, but in general terms, I think it's accurate.

Edited somewhat later in the day to add the link.

Seven to go.

Red White and Blue

An editorial at the New York Times, talked about a recent appearence of Karl Rove, in which, "[h]e made the Bush strategy clear: It's the terror, not the economy, stupid, even if the nation is suffering rolling deficits and relentless unemployment, and despite Mr. Bush's serial tax cuts for the captains of industry. Democrats may want to talk health care and other economic issues, but they will have to grapple their way through a patriotic blitz of a campaign, if Mr. Rove has his red-white-and-blue way. Democrats can rightly fear an "October surprise" coming color-coded by Tom Ridge next time around."

Here's the question Republicans want to be able to ask by next October. "If you love America, and don't want to see any further terrorist attacks, how can you not vote for Bush?"

Eight to go.

The Saturday of Ten Posts

Since I've been gone the last two days and haven't posted as much, I feel that I must now make it up to you--and hence I am annoucing that today I will be posting 10 different posts. Some will be political (of course), some will be humorous (as close as we can make it), and some will have pictures (message: I care).

9 to go.

Friday, May 09, 2003

The Cutting Dividend Tax Plan

Check out this chart, from a report prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman.

Link via This Modern World. Lot's of links, not much writing--I'm on the road, you should be lucky to get this much.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Good News (From My Perspective)

In Ann Coulter's latest article she clarifies that all the ladies apparently don't want Senator Kerry. "American girls aren't good enough for Frenchy [Kerry]. We don't think he's so hot either." Parenthetically, I guess calling Kerry Frenchy is supposed to be a terrible insult. I don't see it myself.
But the good news--Ms. Coulter does not disillusion me. I'm still free to imagine that all the ladies want to get with me. And truthfully, I'm even more vulnerable to that Frenchy slam, as my natural father was apparently French.

In other news, I'm on the road today and tomorrow--so may not be available. Have a great Thursday and Friday if you don't hear from me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The Memory Hole

Added a new link to the left there--the Memory Hole. Among other things they have revealed that an AP story suggested an Iraqi banner stated to the American Troops that "Sooner or later US killers we'll kill you." The Banner actually said, "Sooner or later US killers we'll kick you out." Not an irrelevant difference. Anyway, check them out.
The Election's Over

I know you were looking forward to an exciting and busy campaign season, watching our candidates debate the issues and articulate their vision for America. But it turns out that conservative columnists have determined that all the Democratic candidates are jokes and that President Bush has no chance of losing the election.

Consider these words from Ben Shapiro. "Just as in 1972, today's Democratic Party is a party in flux. But unlike 1972, there's no Watergate on the horizon. George W. Bush could hardly be mistaken for Richard Nixon. Nixon, a moderate, regulated wages and prices, pursued a soft-line foreign policy of detente and pulled out of Vietnam. Most of all, Nixon was paranoid about his political opponents.

George W. Bush, on the other hand, is a committed conservative and is fearless in staring down his political opponents. If Bush had been president in 1972, Republicans would have enjoyed two decades of uninterrupted presidential power. With the Democrats partying like it's 1972, today's Republicans have an opportunity to begin a new era of conservative dominance.

And Brent Bozell, noting that none of the Democratic candidates appears to be conservative, writes, "This whole field is outside the mainstream, collectively on the fringe left. . . . Democrats worry that none of the candidates is well-known enough to beat President Bush. Instead, they should worry that their candidates will become too well-known."

So you see, according to Conservatives, this election is already over. Democrats may as well pack it in, and if you pay attention to Ben Shapiro, you might not get another shot at it for 20 years. Unless of course, conservative columnists might have some vested interest in disheartening the Democratic party.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

Listening to Rush babble on about Tax Cuts over lunch. He was ragging on the Democrats for not pushing Tax increases. After all we believe the recover of 1992-1993 was due to Clinton, whose only contribution economically was the Tax Increase, so why wouldn't we propose tax increases now?

Well, maybe because conditions were different in 1992 and currently. But let's not let that stand in our way.

Oh, and despite the fact that Rush had to admit that the Democrats are pushing for a tax cut now, he still felt comfortable trashing them a few minutes later for standing in the way of a tax cut. I guess Rush relies on his listeners having an attention span of about 30 seconds.

More Election News

Matt Towery, writing today at, says, "Bush's only potential Achilles heel remains the economy. That possibility has political pundits wondering whether they can go ahead and script a Bush post-war nosedive -- a la Bush senior in 1992 -- or if the president's re-election campaign will more closely resemble the GOP landslides of Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '84."

I don't know, I see another couple of potential roadblocks. It's clear that there is a power struggle going on between Colin Powell's State Department and Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department. If either side wins decisively, than it could have negative repercussions. If Rumsfeld wins, than Bush will lose one of the few moderating forces in his presidency, and if Colin Powell is humiliated, and Bush Lets it happen, well, the Democratic candidate doesn't have to be a political genius to exploit that. If Colin Powell wins, which, let's be honest, has no chance of happening, than Bush will lose his base, and might lose the war as an issue--Rumsfeld has cleverly positioned himself as the military face of this administration.

The other potential problem is that Bush may have ceded the centrist position. He may be forced to run as an ideological conservative, which liberals may be able to turn into an issue. This is more of a long shot though.

And at any rate, we have nearly a year before the actual campaign starts, so we'll see what happens in between now and then.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Jingoistic Self-regarding Conquer Monkeys

You should really check out Sunday's Doonesbury. As an unabashed Franco-phile, I liked it.

A Subject Done to Death

This story has been done to death, but in case you missed it, here's Maureen Dowd's comments to President Bush, on his photo op last week.

"The Abraham Lincoln was practically docked, only 30 miles off shore, after 10 months at sea. They had to steer it away from land for you. If you'd waited a few hours, you could've just walked aboard. You and Rove are making a gorgeous campaign video on the Pacific to cast you as the warrior president for 2004 . . ."

And, as several have pointed out, can you imagine the comments if Former President Clinton had done this?

Free Speech Comments by John Leo

Great article today by John Leo about Free Speech. He comments on how "Free Speech" zones on colleges and in other areas are limiting free speech. "At least 20 campuses have set up "free speech zones," thus effectively converting 99 percent of each campus into a giant censorship zone. The authorities usually explain that noisy protests can interfere with classes, though disallowing bullhorns during certain hours would take care of this alleged problem." His initial argument refers to a sign held at an appearance by President Bush. Because the sign was not in the designated protest area, the holder is facing federal charges (the state charges have been dropped.

Mr. Leo ends his article with this comment. "Protecting the right to protest doesn't have to be one of those dread right vs. left "Crossfire" issues. If we want to improve the level of political debate, each side has to guard the other's right to speak." Inspiring words, and I hope all Americans share those sentiments.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Alternative Comic (Books) Part 5.723

Do you remember the first couple of episodes of the X-Files? When there was this huge mystery and it seemed remotely possible that you could eventually figure it out? Well, there's a comic book that is pretty similar. It's name is Planetary, and it's pretty brilliant. And like X-files it's becoming increasingly clear that there is no big mystery out there, just individual issues. But it's still pretty brilliant--here's a page from the one about a secret cold war military base, where "the monster movies were made."

So check it out.

Helpful Household Hints

This story is just a little bit scatological. So you've been warned.

I am in the process of changing domiciles. Yesterday I went to the new place and filled out a bunch of paperwork, and then went and inspected it with the apartment people. Anyway, after they left, I stayed in the new place a moment, and, as often happens, I realized I had a special function in the bathroom I needed to perform.

So I went in there and performed my special function, and realized something. Unfurnished apartments are not furnished with dozens of things. And one of the many things unfurnished apartments don't come with is Toilet paper. So I had to improvise. They did provide a phone book, or I suppose the phone company did--so I opened it up, and took care of my problem.

Suffice to say, Law firms or attorneys form Bea to Fle should probably not expect a call from me.

Have a nice Saturday.

Friday, May 02, 2003

President George W. Bush and Mount Rushmore

Interesting article today at Salon about "Profiles in Courage," a book "written" by John F. Kennedy, and how it applies to President Bush. While I certainly would encourage checking the whole article out(although it does require you to see several ads if are not a member), one paragraph jumped out at me particularly.

" . . . when it comes to his domestic agenda, his programs are as unwise as any can be. Missing from the way in which Bush argues on behalf of his tax cut is any sense that the prospects of future generations will be severely crippled by the fantastic sums the government will have to expend in interest payments to cover the deficits his policy seems designed to produce. No tale of fiscal woe from governors, even those of his own party, moves him. No knowledge of what has happened in history when governments have acted with fiscal irresponsibility matters to him. It is as if the actual country, its families and their lives, are secondary to his inward determination never to back down on a promise that only the extreme right wing ever recalls him making. His policies are those of a man more concerned with the strength of his political base than the strength of his country."

Anyway pretty scathing--although the article is not unfair. It does mention his success in the foreign policy arena.

Loyalty Day Redux

Here's a picture of Early Americans celebrating the values and virtues that made our country great, a determination to be free and a willingness to challenge authority. Fights right in with Loyalty day, doesn't it?

Oh, and I know it kind of looks like some of those guys on the right have tails--but those are really the ropes they are pulling. Our early American Patriots did not have tails.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Happy Loyalty Day

I hope you are all having as fun a loyalty day as I am. But, amidst all the joy, let us remember what loyalty day is all about. Our president, George W. Bush, put it this way, "Our children need to know that our Nation is a force for good in the world, extending hope and freedom to others. By learning about America's history, achievements, ideas, and heroes, our young citizens will come to understand even more why freedom is worth protecting. . . .

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2003, as Loyalty Day. I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance. I also call upon government officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Loyalty Day.

Yep, in order to celebrate the freedoms this nation was founded on, we are called on to be loyal. I know that each of us will celebrate this momentous day in our own way, but when I think of loyalty, I think of dogs. Consider these words of Samuel Johnson, "I would rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world."

That's why, this Loyalty day, I'm going to spend the evening crawling around on all fours and peeing on the furniture. And, of course, not worrying about the Government and what it's doing. Isn't that what loyalty is all about?

Secretary for Life Rumsfeld

I guess I shouldn't joke about this subject, but more than any one cabinet member in history, Donald Rumsfeld has consolidated power unto himself. Robert Novak, in his article today, traced Rumsfeld's recent consolidation of power in the Army, culminating in his dismissal of the Secretary of the Army, Thomas White.

He closes his article saying, "No previous secretary of defense has approached Don Rumsfeld's authority or audacity. He brought exile Ahmad Chalabi to Iraq against Colin Powell's wishes and without his knowledge. He is regarded as the hidden hand behind the assault on Powell by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has become Rumsfeld's confidante. Now, Rumsfeld's Army adversaries soon will be gone."

Novak does use strikingly non-judgmental language to describe Rumsfeld's takeover.

I also find it ironic that Rumsfeld is doing all this in order to force upon the military a smaller more-streamlined army. As Novak puts it, "Rumsfeld is forcing a thinner Army, and does not want a service secretary allied with "dinosaur" generals backing "heavy" forces with plenty of armor and artillery." Kind of a different view than you normally get from conservatives, who talk about Clinton starving the Military, while President Bush has restored it's honor.