Monday, June 30, 2003

Who Cares?

In light of the Iraq war, I think it's important to remember that President Bush and his cronies, I mean advisors are wonderful perfect people that we are lucky to have living among us. They are not mean spirited insane trolls that some on the left would portray them as.

For example, see this editorial from Army Times, the periodical dedicated to the Army. The writer states, " . . . the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

Some of the more emotional among you might be tempted to agree with the editorialist's assessment that the Bush Administration is more interested in supporting the troops with words than with deeds, but I urge you to ignore that assessment. Remember the Bush Administration led us to victory in the war in Iraq, and they are the military's best friend. They've said so, themselves.

Edited to add--I was tipped off to this by Bill Harris over at "This Modern World." So can't say I came up with it all on my own.
Good News

Well, the Supreme Court declined to hear NIKE in their quest to make it OK for corporations to lie. For those unfamiliar with the case, NIKE arranged to have several films produced emphasizing the good conditions their workers over seas enjoyed. Unfortunately for NIKE, the films were not entirely truthful. They were sued, by Marc Kasky under California Truth in advertising laws.

NIKE chose, for whatever reason, not to contest the substance of his complaint, but to challenge the very right of Mr. Kasky to complain at all. They stated that to expect NIKE to speak truthfully about their product would have a chilling effect on their speech, and they pointed to the political aspects of their films. This argument was rejected by the court, and the Supreme Courts decision not to hear the case means that it is largely a done deal.

Jeff Milchen and Jeffrey Kaplan comment, saying, "Corporations need not be held to perfect accuracy, but allowing corporations to deliberately deceive is a recipe for disaster. The Supreme Court justices need to reverse the decades-long trend of granting greater legal powers to corporations and make clear that the Bill of Rights was written to protect human liberty, not to shield business from accountability."

Sunday, June 29, 2003

New Quote

Moving from Woody Allen to the gold old days when stories with animals were all the rage, we have a quote by my close personal friend Aesop.

Many of you may not be aware of this, but Aesop is actually a Psuedonym. Aesop's real name is Neil Tennet, and he is one of the Pet Shop Boys. Due to the an accident, scheduled to happen in about six months, involving Mr. Tennet and a protypical time machine being developed by Fritolay, Mr. Tennet wrote "Aesop's" fables.

Here at Make Me a Commentator we strive to entertain as well as educate.
Annoying the Boycotters

Not quite as catchy as watching the detectives but still interesting. Anyway for those who like to boycott stuff produced by people who criticized President Bush, here's something fun.

Pearl Jam, who wrote a song entitled "Bush Leaguer" to point out some of the defects in our current President, and who have repeatedly attacked our president at their concerts, have decided once again to put out bootlegs of every concert in their current tour.

While we are on that subject, this is an idea that perhaps other bands could consider? If you don't want to be as aggressive as Pearl Jam, why not put out two or three great shows from each tour?

But getting back to Annoying the Boycotters, they are annoying, wouldn't purchasing a Bootleg from a show they did at Paris (or Lyon or Marseilles, etc.) be, if not the ultimate annoyance, at least very very annoying indeed to those who enjoy boycotting? But it is not possible--currently they apparently aren't going to Europe. So you might have to settle for a Canadian show.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Moose Milk

Listening to NPR. They were running a fascinating think piece on the benefits of Moose Milk. Apparently it tastes really good right out of the Moose, but it does not taste good bottled. So if you want the best Moose Milk available, remember get a fresh Moose.

Charlie's Angles

Well, for the "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" movie, director McG (who really should buy a vowel) decided to follow up his use of Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" with the use of the other two Prodigy singles "Breath" and "Firestarter." How nice for Prodigy.

Prodigy, in 1997, were one of two big electronic acts that were vying for public acceptance (That being the year record companies had decided to push electronica). The other was The Chemical Brothers, who released "Dig Your Own Hole" early that year. Prodigy's "Fat of the Land" was arguably the bigger hit at the time.

Six years later, Chemical Brothers have released two more albums (the brilliant "Surrender," and the funky "Come With Us." Other electronica acts have appeared in the mainstream such as Groove Armada, Lo-Fidelity All Stars, Dirty Vegas, Underworld and so on. Many of these artists have been recording since before 1997, of course. And Prodigy have released one single, "Baby's Got a Temper." which sounds like an outtake from "Fat of the Land."

So I guess it's lucky that prodigy has such a good friend in McG.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Something to Consider

Paul Krugman writes a particularly scary article at the New York Times, suggesting that Republican bravado about eliminating the Democratic party may be more than bravado. There has been a concerted effort to increase Conservative influence in society, and appears that the influence is starting to flex its muscles.

Krugman states, "In "Welcome to the Machine," Nicholas Confessore draws together stories usually reported in isolation — from the drive to privatize Medicare, to the pro-tax-cut fliers General Motors and Verizon recently included with the dividend checks mailed to shareholders, to the pro-war rallies organized by Clear Channel radio stations. As he points out, these are symptoms of the emergence of an unprecedented national political machine, one that is well on track to establishing one-party rule in America."

Anyway, I'm not sure things are as bad as Mr. Krugman would like us to believe. But it is something to consider.

Edited to add the link, which I forgot yesterday for some reason.
Democracy is Inconvenient

This week poor Prime Minister Tony Blair had to face questions about his government's policy, including his handling of the economy and his support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Well, Debra Saunders wants to point out the inherent unfairness of this situation, commenting, "How it must weigh on Blair to have helped liberate an afflicted people, to have brought down a regime that had been responsible for as many as a million Iraqi deaths, and to have worked to allay the threat that WMD would be used outside Iraq, and here he is stuck answering question after question from petty pols carping about the paperwork."

Of course, Ms. Saunders is right. What could be more undemocratic that questioning the actions of our leaders? Once our leaders are voted in, we have a patriotic duty to support the path they choose. You can't call the British Parliament's decision to question Mr. Blair's choices support can you? And deceiving the British people as to the nature and depth of the Iraqi threat, well, that's just so much paper work.

On the other hand, perhaps if informed citizens are going to get involved in the process of ruling that might have positive effects as well.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Brandy Speaks her Mind

This morning I posted a story linking to a video on the Memory Hole, and both my commentary and moreso the commentary at the Memory Hole was very harsh against President Bush. No need to take my word for it, just look at the story.

Brandy wrote me a letter this afternoon, responding to my article in her inimitable voice, saying, "Are you kidding me!!!! Are you and 'memory hole' actually spending any amount of time or thought process on this...I have many issues with Pres. Bush, but he handled 9/11 the best one could ask for...What exactly would you guys have had him do...The five minutes he sat there he showed that he was not going to let this unravel him, that we maintained a leader that could demonstrate strength, thoughtfulness and an unrash demeanor...Not only in those five minutes, but also in the days to follow...I seriously would love to hear the complainers say what 'they' would have done in this position....Run out and hid like a coward? Run out and unnecessarily show fear, or frighten those around him...Remember NO ONE knew what was going on...Rashness would have been unforgivable."

Brandy does bring up some fair points--but more to the point, it is possible that we here (and by we I mean me) at Make me a Commentator did jump a little rashly this morning. While we respect the work that The Memory Hole is doing, their commentary was perhaps a little too patently biased against President Bush. While I think there are lots of reasons to dislike President Bush, including his handling of the economy and his belligerent foreign policy stance, it is hard to know what would have been worse. If he had left the room immediately, perhaps we would be looking at footage of that today, with the question, "See how cowardly he was?"

The truth is September 11th was gut punch to America and to all Americans, and it is perhaps not out of line to be generous towards the President's actions on that day. So we apologize for our attacks this morning.

Thank you and have a pleasant tomorrow.
The Media Borg Stopped?

Great article by William Saffire on the recent attempt by media outlets to gobble up even more power over the information we receive. This is a hot button issue on both the left and the right, as it turns out. And that's as it should be. Giving the large networks more control inevitably squeezes out people who express controversial views, and that's manifestly not good for America.

However there is some good news, according to Mr. Saffire. He states "Over the protests of 750,000 viewers and readers, three appointees to the Federal Communications Commission last month voted to permit the takeover of America's local press, television and radio by a handful of mega-corporations.

If allowed to stand, this surrender to media giantism would concentrate the power to decide what we read and see in both entertainment and news in the hands of an ever-shrinking establishment elite.

To the F.C.C.'s amazement, the Senate Commerce Committee said no. A bill put forward by Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, president pro tem of the Senate and defender of local control, would reinstate the limit of 35 percent of market penetration by any one company. A Democratic amendment reasserted the limitation on "cross-ownership" by stations and newspapers. The rollback bill, with bipartisan support, is likely to pass the full Senate this summer.

This first step toward stopping the takeover of both content and distribution of information was taken because enough of the audience got sore and made it an issue. I'm proud of the part played by The New York Times, which not only ran my diatribes but front-paged the illuminating coverage by Stephen Labaton, including his note that the Times Company was lobbying for cross-ownership.

So good news for the little guys.

The Memory Hole

"Trapped on the other side of the country aboard Air Force One, the President has lost his cool: "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me! I'll be at home! Waiting for the bastard!"

His Secret Service chief seems taken aback. "But Mr. President . . ."

The President brusquely interrupts him. "Try Commander-in-Chief. Whose present command is: Take the President home!"

This is from a forthcoming fall movie by Showtime, being made by Dufferin Gate Productions, Toranto Canada. It purports to be an insider look at the events of September 11th, and I believe I've mentioned it before.

I wonder if they will include the scene where President Bush is told that a second jet has flown into the World Trade Center and sits in a classroom with children for another 5 minutes, thus endangering himself and the children. Five minutes were caught on tape and are being presented at The Memory Hole.

To see the footage, click here. You will need quicktime to view it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I Get Letters

Actually so far I've gotten two or three, but here's one of them.

"So, if we get rid of affirmative action we won't have racism in this country anymore? Ridiculous. If affirmative action stopped tomorrow, my dad still wouldn't want me nor my sisters to marry outside of our race, especially with African Americans and Hispanics. I guess your audience isn't bright enough to see past your sophostry."

I'm not sure what this is response to--but if it is my discussion of Rush Limbaugh yesterday, keep in mind I was repeating his argument. Not my own. My argument would be somewhat along the lines of the one you present, although, perhaps, with better phrasing.

Keep sending me letters though, all of you people out in radioland.
Shop Your Way to Ethnic Diversity

Interesting letter there at the New York Times in response to the decision by the Supreme Court on the Michigan case.

To the Editor:

As an African-American graduate of Michigan Law School (class of '98) who undoubtedly benefited from the law school's affirmative action policies, I was pleased with the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision (front page, June 24).

But I was more pleased with corporate America's loud support for affirmative action, as evidenced by the numerous amicus briefs filed by corporations like Kodak, General Motors and Microsoft, in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative action program.

In this age of corporate greed and scandals, it is refreshing to see businesses support a social cause that helps those who have been, and contrary to popular belief continue to be, discriminated against.

The products and services offered by such corporations are now at the top of my shopping list.

Seattle, June 24, 2003

You said it Nathan. I'm going right out to buy a car, a computer, and a camera.
The Benefits of Affirmative Action

Ben Shapiro, boy prognosticator, writes today on the value of Affirmative Action and how it has benefited him personally. ". . . once you're in, diversity programs are wonderful. Huge numbers of unqualified students walk into lecture each day. They struggle with the material. They ask ignorant questions. They stagger through assigned readings and then realize they've assimilated nothing. It makes the rest of us look like geniuses. For those who are qualified, diversity programs are a bonanza. Didn't study for a big test? No big deal -- those unqualified diversity admittees will certainly help the curve."

So I guess in Ben's experience, only Black and Hispanic students fail to do the reading. Fail to understand the questions. Ask ignorant questions. It is only the Black and Hispanic students who act like they don't give a damn about being educated.

Oh and apparently if you happen to see a white kid who doesn't care, that's because he knows that the Black and Hispanic kids will knock the curve down so that it doesn't matter.

I have to say this doesn't jibe with my personal experience. I worked as a grad student, grading papers in a number of classes, and there were days when it seemed to me that all the students were morons who didn't belong in college. But I never noticed any racial trends in idiocy. And if you want to talk about students who don't give a damn, nothing beats a white middle class girl who's daddy is paying for the classes. But possibly things are different out where young Ben is going to school.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

OK, listening to Rush today as I'm driving back from lunch (where I had home-made potato Salad), and he put forward this argument.

If we were a racist society we would not seek to install programs such as the University of Michigan's affirmative action program. The very existence of such programs prove that we as a society are not racist. Hence such programs as the University of Michigan's affirmative action program are totally unnecessary.

Did you follow that?

Dr. Limbaugh then went on to suggest that the existence of medicine and doctors proved that we knew how to make people healthy, and since we have the ability to make people healthy, doctors and medicine are really unnecessary.

Rush then took a call from John, a 35 year old pilot, who happened to be in the air at that time. He commented that since he clearly had the ability to fly his wings were at this point probably unnecessary. After all wings allow a plane to fly, but he already was flying. So he pressed a button that unhooked his wings from his plane. Rush then went to commercial.

There was one telling Freudian slip on Rush's discussion of the Supreme Court Decision yesterday. Rush stated, "This conservative Republican administration didn't make a strong constitutional argument for abolishing this case of clear-cut discrimination - of transferring bigotry from one group [i.e. blacks] to another[i.e. whites], even though the individuals who suffer may have had nothing to do with past discrimination. "

You see Rush is comfortable with bigotry against Blacks, but doesn't want to see poor White kids afflicted by it. I'll be charitable and assume that Rush didn't mean it, and would oppose bigotry anywhere it raised its head, but it is still telling.

Just so you know the bits about the doctors and the pilot were made up. But the quote on racism is real.

Democrats Doom

Well Conservatives haven't warmed to Senator Kerry as a candidate and now, Bruce Bartlet, Conservative Commentator, has attacked Howard Dean.

Now you might be saying that Conservatives have been mocking Dean for months, ever since he suggested that this war was being taken under false pretenses and might not end up the best for the United States. You'd be right. But Bartlett, as opposed to most other attacks, takes Dean a bit more seriously.

But not too seriously. He sees Dean as a combination of McGovern and Goldwater. The McGovern analogy is obvious (he wants us all to believe that Dean cannot win), but Goldwater comparison might be a little less obvious. He states, "Republicans did the same thing in 1964, when they nominated Barry Goldwater on the slogan, "a choice, not an echo." They saw that Lyndon Johnson was unbeatable that year and preferred to lose with someone who would represent principled conservatism. However, although Goldwater lost as expected, his long-term impact on the Republican Party was profound. Never again would the party nominate a candidate for president who ran as a moderate. . . .

"Therefore, Democrats should be wary of supporting Dean as a protest against the blandness of Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, et al. They could end up putting the Democratic Party on a course from which it will be difficult to change, one that will make it extremely difficult for an electable candidate to get the nomination in the future. "

Interesting theory by Bartlett. In other words, what turned out to be a good thing for Republicans (i.e. getting back to their core principles and ideals) would be bad for Democrats. Democrats can only win if they run as Republicans, apparently. Kind of works out well either way for Mr. Bartlett.

I also think it's fascinating that he says no Republican since Goldwater has run as a moderate. What exactly was "compassionate conservatively," if it wasn't an attempt to appeal to the moderate liberals? Of course we know that President Bush's version of Compassionate Conservatism was much more a slogan than a reality, but it's still a feint towards the middle.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Americans for Tax Reform

Tax Reform would allow wealthy people to be taxed at the same rate as impoverished people. It means that things should be harder for people making $10,000 to $20,000 a year and easier for people making $100,000 to $1,000,000 a year. Not only should those making $10,000 to $20,000 a year pay more in taxes, but they should receive fewer services.

Grover Norquist head of the organization entitled Americans for Tax Reform, and recently wrote an op-ed discussing their strategy for achieving this "reform." "The Bush administration -- wisely -- has not proposed fundamental tax reform in a single piece of legislation. But the president has been taking deliberate steps toward such reform with each tax cut. There are five steps to a single-rate tax, which taxes income one time: Abolish the death tax, abolish the capital gains tax, expand IRAs so that all savings are tax-free, move to full expensing of business investment rather than long depreciation schedules and abolish the alternative minimum tax. Put a single rate on the new tax base and you have Steve Forbes and Dick Armey's flat tax. . . .

In crafting its agenda for economic reform, the Bush administration has the luxury of being able to think and plan over a full eight years. This is because the 2002 redistricting gave Republicans a lock on the House of Representatives until 2012 and the Founding Fathers gerrymandered the Senate for Republican control.

It is pleasant to see Mr. Norquist openly admit that his party has realigned the districts to ensure a continued Republican domination of the Federal Government, but I would advise him not to count his duckies before they hatch.

Quote by Joel Mowbray; A Contest!!!

"Many people at State want to embarrass the President," explains a State Department official, a comment echoed by others at Foggy Bottom alarmed that some of their colleagues are so brazen as to openly plot against the commander-in-chief. Some of those wishing to politically harm President Bush are now in Iraq, where the President's vision of a free Iraq is being fought by State officials on a regular basis.

Anybody who can find the source for Mr. Mowbray's assertion that the State Department wants to embarrass President Bush and is willing to put that goal before the safety of the American people gets . . . Something cool. Haven't worked out the details yet. But it will be cool. I guarentee it.

Positive Note

I've decided to start a new trend of making my first article reviewed each week be a positive review, in contrast to my normal snarkiness. I expect this trend to last till about noon so enjoy it while you can.

In keeping with that strategy I'd like to point you to Robert Novak's article at Novak argues persuasively that there is danger in pursuing a strategy of continually expanding the scope of American Military operations without pursuing a strategy of increasing the capability of the Army.

Novak writes, "At the heart of both men's unhappiness, the Army has been stretched thin to execute the nation's foreign policy. Shinseki and Rumsfeld were in continuous tension over how many troops were needed to pacify Afghanistan, to subdue Iraq and then occupy Iraq.

With over 370,000 soldiers or 70 percent of the Army now deployed in 120 countries, President Bush's capability to pursue his doctrine of pre-emption is constrained.

Novak makes several correct points, but I think you have to look at the logic of the Bush reliance on smaller size forces as a reflection of his desire to keep taxes down. While President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld do want the power to exercise American military might at will, they also want to cut taxes dramatically. They are apparently willing to compromise our military strength in order to keep taxes low. Speaking just for myself I might suggest a different set of priorities.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

New Quote

Changed the quote at the top to an old Woody Allen quote, back when he was a comedian.

Your Weekly Rush : An Acceptable Bigotry

Reading Rush Limbaughs comments on Senator Kerry's call to oppose judges who will overturn Roe vs. Wade, and noticed this key phrase.

The French-looking, French-speaking Vietnam veteran, said, "I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose or the Constitution right to privacy on civil rights to individual liberties and the laws protecting workers and the environment."

Initially his choice to emphasize Senator Kerry's Frenchness bugged me, but the more I think about it, the more OK I am with it. There's nothing wrong in America with hating someone because of how he looks or because he speaks a certain language.

Just a quick reminder--I speak French, and half of my birth parent parentage is French. So if some of you were wondering why you hated me, well that's why.

Well that does it!

First we had the Operation Iraqi Freedom decks which I thought were ok. I mean it's not something I would buy, but I can understand why others would. I think it's great that such a "collectible" item is available in pretty much every drugstore in America.

Then you had the Axis of Weasels deck, which was a lame attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Operation Iraqi Freedom decks. Although obviously a successful attempt.

Now you have the Deck of Hillary from those people at News Max. Always in a hurry to turn a profit. First became aware of it through an add on that "liberal" website So in response I pledge to you to go out today and buy a copy of Hillary's new book. I am going to see if I can get it on tape which puts even more money in Hillary's pocket and allows me to listen to it while I drive around. So there!

Friday, June 20, 2003

Harping on it

An article by Joel Mowbray today, expressing an opinion on the state department he's expressed before and that I've commented on before--so stop me if you've read this before.

He is writing about some student demonstrations held in Iran, and, more to the point, how lousy our State Department is for continuing to talk with the government of Iran.

Here are the standard points

-- President Bush is the President of the United States and he has the power to control the State Department if he wants to. He can remove Colin Powell should that be his wish, and he can put a stop to these meetings. He has chosen not to. I know you want to, Mr. Mowbray, but you cannot attack the State Department without also attacking our beloved President.

-- You state, “Engaging” leaders in any way is a tacit acknowledgement of legitimacy, particularly when their very basis for rule is being challenged from within." This is patent nonsense, and would basically eliminate the need for a state department, except in so far as they can round up support for the next country our military is going to invade. It commits us to a policy of war with all countries who we disagree with, as any discussions with them would lend legitimacy to their Government.

-- What about the 9,000 pound gorilla in the room? Isn't there a nation we don't really agree with that has nuclear weapons and a similar size army to the United States and internal dissent? Somewhere in Eastern Asia? What do you propose we do about the Chinese, if we are not going to engage them?

Mr. Mowbray might be willing to throw away the lives of American soldiers in a mad effort to deny "legitimacy" to the mullahs of Iran, but perhaps President Bush feels differently. I know I do.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Ben Shapiro, Boy Prognosticator, Makes Yet Another Prediction!

Those of you with weak hearts might want to skip down to the next article. Ben Shapiro, writing, as every conservative must, on Hillary Clintons new book, Living History. Well, according to young Ben, this book signals the end of Hillary's career. As he puts it, "But finally, Hillary has hit her Watergate. Her new book, Living History, is a cover-up in purely Nixonian fashion."

He goes on to predict, "Like Nixon, she will fall. Unlike Nixon, she does not have the personal strength to rise alone." Quite a prediction there, Ben. So she will fall, but if she comes back, it will be because she has help. That's going out on a limb there, Ben. Anything that happens to Hillary now you can claim is an answer to your vague prophecy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

My Secret Life as a Non-Hillary Hater

Interesting article by the conservative writer Linda Chavez in which she admits that she doesn't hate Hillary Clinton. I'll pause a moment while you try to get your heads around the idea of a conservative not hating Hillary.

At first I was skeptical myself, figuring it was some kind of rhetorical trick. But then I got to her last few paragraphs (where one would expect the old switcharoo to take place). Instead I found this;

Frankly, I've often thought that conservatives might be partly responsible for Hillary's success. Conservatives and liberals are locked in a weird, symbiotic dance with Hillary. By demonizing her, we've elevated her importance and encouraged liberals to rally around her. And there is no question that all the vituperative attacks on her book have increased sales.

In truth, Hillary Clinton hasn't been nearly the wild-eyed radical some predicted she'd be if elected senator. From a policy standpoint, I doubt she'd be a worse president than John Kerry or Howard Dean or John Edwards, or any of the other Democrats running.

Ms. Chavez's comments have the virtue of being largely true, but still it is gratifying to see.

What the Democrats Should Do

Some Good Advice from Tony Blankley, conservative commentator. He points out a flaw in the Democratic strategy. "To add to the sense of unreality, the Democratic Party seems to be staking the remnants of its national credibility on behalf of the crackbrained project of trying to convince the public that the most trusted, straightforward, honest president the country has seen in quite a while is actually a devious manipulator of mass opinion."

You see the Democrats would be better served by ignoring the deceit issue. They should instead spend time praising the President, while offering constructive criticism on some of the presidents minor points. That way they are sure to regain the White House.

Wait a second; which team is Tony Blankley playing for?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

The Deceit Issue

Helen Thomas has an important point about the run up to next years election, which is, should the Democrats make the failure to find weapons of Mass Destruction a key debate in the next election. "Democratic presidential aspirants might have a monumental issue for their 2004 campaign against President George W. Bush -- if they don't go wobbly.

It's based on growing doubts that Bush was on the level when he tried to whip up public support for a U.S. attack on Iraq by claiming that the Saddam Hussein regime had a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

What's interesting about the way Ms. Thomas thinks is the way she phrases her assertion. "If the Democrats pass up the chance to make the war an issue in the campaign, they will be playing into the hands of the Republicans. And the voters will lose out on a much-needed debate."

The voters would miss out on a debate? Even a much needed debate would be less welcome than a sane foreign policy (and economic policy, for that matter). I like Ms. Thomas, and think she has done some excellent work, but there is an element of inside the beltway bias in that statement that I hope is plain for all to see.

It also contrasts with the Republican way of looking at things. For Republicans (and to be fair, some hardcore Democrats), all the answer shave already been settled. What is needed is not debate, not discussion, not exploration; but an acceptance of the truths that have already been discovered. In that climate, the Democratic desire for debate seems week when compared to the Republican zeal for action.

That said, I do hope, that if WMD's are not found in the next six months or so, that the Democrats do make an issue of it.


I have to admit to being a bit confused in my reaction to Mona Charen's latest article.

On the one hand she says things I agree with, and that are, by inference, very critical of the Bush Administration. She rights about the overly incestuous relationship we have had with Saudi Arabia. No person better exemplifies that relationship than President Bush, who seems unlikely to ever hold Saudi Arabia to task.

On the other hand her article is filled with the "Islamic Menace" rhetoric that drives me up a wall. In particular she points to the African American Islamic community as something fearful. And, parenthetically, her article begins with the standard, "I know what really happened to Ms. Clinton better than she does, even if I haven't read the book."

The problem is that some conservatives seem unable to understand that one can support actions against Islamic Terrorists without wanting to condemn Islam.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Pat Buchanan and Sour Grapes

Pat Buchanan wrote an interesting article at Townhall about Media Bias. He uses the same flawed test that conservatives always used to prove media bias; which percentage of the newspaper community endorsed Gore vs. Bush? Of course, as you all know, that's not an ideal test. In truth, the main conservative bias is a bias in favor of corporations and against workers. But let's let that one go, and move on to the interesting part of Buchanan's essay.

He writes, "The House of Conservatism is a house divided. Conservatives of today are not the conservatives of yesterday. Many embrace the foreign policy of Wilson, the trade policy of FDR and the immigration policy of LBJ. They have made their peace with Big Government.

Can anyone name a federal agency George W. Bush or his father shut down, or a single federal program they ever abolished?

Some of you may not remember it, but Pat Buchanan ran against President Bush and Gore in the last election. He didn't get as much press as Nader, but he was there. He left the Republican party to seek the Reform nomination (and had the honor of presiding over the Reform Party meltdown). Some would say, including Rush Limbaugh, that he left conservatism behind when he did that (of course he also had the nutty idea that shipping jobs overseas willy-nilly might be bad for America). So it's easy enough to read in this condemnation of President Bush an attempt to be more conservative than thou.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Commentation by Caleb

Here is some more political science talking by Caleb.

People have been whining about taxes for as long as I can remember. Income taxes are unconstitutional, blah, blah, blah. Who cares, if rich people, as an organized group, didn’t want to pay taxes they wouldn't, and the government would crumble. Yes, everyone wishes they could keep just a little more money, and who can blame the rich for cringing every time that money that they with good conscience gave the government in order to maintain an ordered society is handed to a chronic ne'er-do-well, or public menace. For clinching fists at the thought of feeding, clothing, entertaining, providing state of the art medical care, educational training to the dregs of society because they chose to BE the destabilizing force that they pay the government to hold at bay?

Some of you may be aware that I have at various times voiced my support for a more Roman system of citizenship in which the right to vote is granted through military service, or wealth, although in the early days wealth was not a free pass. Many of you will now complain that that is not democratic, but lets face it. YOU DO NOT LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY. That's just a utopian pipe dream. This is a republic, and in a republic we have the right to reject the right to vote to any who do not qualify. We rejected slaves as property, minors as mentally and socially deficient, foreigners for obvious reasons, and for a long time anyone who couldn't read. (How could they fill out the ballot?)

Don't like that? Well let's see if you like this. Rome in addition to being a Democratic Republic in its most successful days was a Patrician Oligarchy. In other words, all of the poor, the week, the huddled masses could walk up to a rich man and beg for financial or material aid. (Not the government until Rome took a downward turn.) This rich man had the right to snub you, or grant you your fondest wishes. If you got snubbed you went to the next rich guy. These rich men kept hordes of commoners fed, clothed and sheltered in return for; you guessed it, a constituency. The richer, the kinder, the gentler the man was, the greater his constituency. This likely wouldn't get him elected, his constituency couldn't vote, but I did make him an effective force in business, the arts, and culture in general. Is there a difference here?

There wasn't in the early days of the United States. At the turn of the century a seat on the senate was a bought position. That's how the robber barons got there, although later when the dissolving of their life’s dreams left them plenty of time for more humanitarian pursuits.

The difference now is that the government has made this an inhuman function of society in which the hopes and dreams of the masses fall through the cracks of massive bureaucracy. He/She whom destroys our future no longer has to look us in the face to do so.

Talking with Caleb later, he clarified that his key point was that the wealthy and powerful have always had to support the systems within which they live. That is the nature of society. In America, we may have diffused the power a bit more through society by giving everyone the vote, but it is still the wealthy and the powerful who we vote for.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

This just in; Hillary Clinton is a Liar

From what I've read about the book and seen of her interviews I know she is still peddling the whopper that she was shocked to find that Bill had broken his marital vows.
David Limbuagh

Miss Hillary recounts my favorite of her lies when she tells of how she told her lawyer in August 1998, when he warned her that there may be something to this Monica business: "My husband may have his faults, but he has never lied to me." . . .

After all, her statement is about as plausible as saying Adolph Hitler may have had his faults, but he always loved and admired Jewish people. "Bill Clinton never lied to me" is one of those statements that polygraph operators could use as a benchmark of a certain lie.

Tony Blankley

That's one interesting set of quotes--and there are other examples. Hillary claims she believed her husband when he told her he wasn't having an affair, and any one looking at the situation would know that she was totally lying. Because woman who's husbands' cheat on them never live in a place of denial. She's clearly lying.

Here's another common trope in conservative reviews of the book;

I haven't actually read her book yet (I may spend money like water, but I have my limits). - Tony Blankley

As for Hillary and her book, I doubt I'll read it. - David Limbaugh

I haven't read her book but, like a lot of other women (and men), I've read the excerpts and watched the interviews. - Suzanne Fields

Friday, June 13, 2003

The Earned Income Tax Credit

Interesting article by Bruce Bartlett today on the Earned Income Credit Tax Credit, and the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Tax Credit. He admits that the original purpose of the tax credit was to, as he puts it, "reinforce work incentives and help get people off welfare." Sounds like a worthy goal to me.

However there is a downside. Some people apparently aren't paying taxes at all. As Bartlett puts it, "Those with earnings below $10,000 pay no income taxes and get a check from the government for 2.6 times their payroll tax liability." Those lucky $10,000.00 a year making jerks. I wish I were only making $10,000.00 and had several kids to support. Then I'd have to pay no taxes (except sales tax, of course. And pay roll taxes). That would be wonderful.

What's also nice is the gloating tone about how all these lucky duckies don't bother to vote. So people who do pay taxes have voted in Republicans in order to shift the tax burden back to people making $10,000 a year.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

The Pam President

It turns out that President Bush is invulnerable to scandal, according to Ben Shapiro, Boy Prognosticator. The stolen election, Enron, the flight to the USS Abraham Lincoln; President Bush has survived them all. As Shapiro puts it, "He might as well be called the Pam President. You can fry him, you can grill him, but nothing will stick to him." For those who don't know what Pam is, it's a "Non-Stick cooking spray."

Yep. The Pam president. You see when you cover your frying pan with Pam, it is briefly resistant to having food stick to it. And it looks shiny. And if you touch it, it feels oily. And it eventually wears off. You see Pam isn't part of the frying pan--it's just a temporary surface. All it takes is a little water and a little soap and the protection washes right off.

Come to think of it, I'm not exactly sure that young Ben really meant to call President Bush the Pam President.

But then again, we live in an age of lowered expectations. Where once the Republicans fielded a Teflon President, I guess we need to settle now for Pam.

Back with a Bullet, It's Brandy!

Yep, Brandy who posts here from time to time is posting and we'd all like to welcome her.

First off, I agree that Hilary's book sounds dull...I don't think it's full of 'lies' just rhetoric...check out the NY Times review...almost funny.

Second...those infamous weapons of mass destruction...are you seriously suggesting that you don't think there were any there??? Come on Bryant...The UN reports (and lets remember here these are NOT American reports) CLEARLY stated the weapons Saddam had that he was NOT suppose to...many of which are under that ridiculously large cover of 'WMD'...we ALL know he had them! But since Powell wasted so much time with the UN he moved's like telling a kid -"ok, in 3 weeks I'm going to come check your room for the pot that I saw you bring in there"...even the dumbest of kids is going to move it to their friend Syria's house. And lets not forget the scud missiles he fired on our troops, or the gallons of liquid saraton (I'm sure I misspelled) that were found . . . what 'exactly' do the naysayers think they are going to find??

Lets look at this from another angle...let's 'say' Saddam never had any of the stuff reported from the 90's UN inspections...why wouldn't he let in the inspectors again?? Why would he have risked being over thrown or given away the chance to make the US look he really that much of an idiot. And the last thought...Where is Saddam, oh, wait, we can't find him...hmmm, I'm beginning to think he was never really there, just something Bush made up so we could attack poor Iraq.

Now, then...I actually have other concerns about, what is the next step (remember this was my concern 'before' the war) I feel our military will be unnecessarily harmed due to lack of the administration setting up a better plan for post-war. And What the hades is up with Bush criticizing Sharon for targeting a 'known' terrorist....Bush really gets me upset the way he half helps Israel and then ties their hands...I thought Bush said 'you're on one side of the line or the other...helping terrorists or getting rid of them'...and then he pulls this??

A few comments.

First, Powell did not go to the UN by himself--he went at the direction of President Bush. It's inconceivable that he would do what he did without the full knowledge and approval of President Bush, and if there is to be any blame for the delay it should be appropriately ascribed to President Bush.

As near as I can tell the "Saraton" that they found (I don't know the correct spelling either) was found at a munitions depot, and on further testing turned out to be chemicals used to maintain their rockets (story here). In addition, the mobile laboratories recently found are not clearly weapons factories either. Of course there for a while we found weapons of mass destruction every couple of days--if they definitively found them would Ari Fleischer be back peddling, claiming now that President Bush was using the terms "weapons of mass destruction" and "weapons of mass destruction programs" interchangeably?

I do applaud your concern over Iraq--The Bush administration seems torn between the absolute necessity of rebuilding Iraq and the conservative's long-standing animosity towards "Nation-Building." Makes what they are doing sort of half hearted, in my eyes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Slow News Day

There are two big stories right now in the political world. One is that we may or may not find Weapons of Mass Destruction, and what are the ramifications of either outcome. I already wrote on that this morning, but you might also want to check out Debra Saunder's latest article, in which she suggests that the fact that we haven't found the weapons of mass destruction will help President Bush win reelection. Apparently we Americans are too smart to believe that Presisdent Bush just overstated his case when trying to sell the war--we really believe that those Weapons of Mass Destruction have been moved into Iran or Syria (depending on who we want to invade next), and our fear of them will cause us to support President Bush even more. However, all of these articles, as interesting as they are, have one flaw--we don't know yet for sure what the answer is. It's still a bit early to declare that the weapons won't be found.

The other big story is the veracity of Ms. Hillary Clinton's memoirs. I cannot begin to express to you how little this story interests me. Anyway Conservatives continue to write staggeringly vicious attacks on Ms. Clinton. The entire book is assumed to be lies, and an attempt by the Clintons to knock the legs out from any liberal candidates in order for Ms. Clinton to run in 2008. At any rate, it's just dull to me. If you have any suggestions for an interesting idea or political theory or writing I could take on, please e-mail them here.

A Good Question

Well there are several interesting articles today on the lack of Weapons of Mass Destruction story. Terence Jeffrey suggests that presidential candidate Bob Graham of Florida, who was on the intelligence committee, knows that the evidence presented was good. In his argument he presents a discussion with Paul Anderson, Graham's communications director, who says of his candidate, "He believes that the intelligence that was presented suggested that." Theres the rub right there--was the intelligence presented complete enough to paint a full picture? Paul Anderson, Graham's communications director suggests that Graham believed it was honest information, but that's a) his opinion and b) still doesn't answer if the picture presented was complete.

Then David Limbaugh takes a different tack and simply presents the evidence gathered so far, denies it, and asks, "Whom do you trust, and who truly has the nation's best interests at heart?"

That's the $64,000.00 question.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

Sorry, I haven't been keeping up with Rush as much lately. But yesterday he said something really interesting. "This is no criticism of the working poor, by the way. I'm probably the strongest voice of support they have." Great! Well let's go down how Rush expresses this support, but before we do, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Although the temptation is great, I will not be using the phrase "With friends like these . . ." or any variation on it. Its a temptation, but I will stay strong.

Here is what Rush wants to do for the working poor.

- Make them pay more taxes by eliminating the Earned Income Credit, and by repealing the recent child credit.

- Allow corporations to pay them less and to provide fewer benefits. Eliminating the minimum wage.

- Ensure that the working poor always receive minimal service from the American health care service.

- Eliminate the unemployment safety net. If a member of the working poor loses his or her job, he or she can go hungry until he or she finds work again. He's fond of saying, "When you are out of work, you have a job; to find another job."

And so on and so forth. With Friends like . . .. wait, I must resist. I'll think of some other phrase. A stitch in time saves nine. There, that's good.

A Time For Peace?

Townhall printed a good article today by Doug Bandow on the need for a rapprochement between the United States and our allies. He states;

The mutual snarling serves no one's interest. Repairing the relationship first will require honesty. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently argued, "This is a conflict that we did not ask for, we did not seek, we did not want, we did everything to avoid."

No serious person could believe him. Washington was determined to go to war; that very determination won President Bush popular support in the United States. The administration needs to justify its decision, not run from it.

Washington should acknowledge that it overstated its case. The failure to find any weapons of mass destruction is deeply embarrassing. If Iraq wasn't willing to use such weapons to defend itself, they apparently didn't exist or weren't worth using.

At the same time, Washington's critics should acknowledge that their stance reflects less commitment to international law than concern about American dominance. Moreover, they need to recognize that Bush is no crazy cowboy, as evidenced by his circumspect response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Both sides need to regain a sense of proportion toward multilateralism. If the United States believes that its vital interests are at stake, it should not wait for U.N. approval to respond.

Yet multilateralism has value. Washington is likely to find that the difficult process of creating a stable democratic Iraq would be easier with wider international support.

Wise words, well worth considering.

On Boycotts

I've been having a debate with myself since yesterday, on this Savage controversy. is, among other things, a boycott site. It lists at the top of its website various products that advertise on the Michael Savage Show and encourages you not to buy them. In other words, they are trying to get Michael Savage knocked off the air, by pressuring his sponsors to drop him. While the methods are different (and, for the record, suing those you disagree with is a lot more sleazy in my book) the end result is the same. The Coalition for Human Decency (who run doesn't like what Michael Savage says so they are trying to silence him.

Similarly they are also trying an end run strategy. They apparently believe that attempts to convince Savage's listeners of the wrongfulness of his arguments would not work. Organizing a boycott of the show would have little effect. So they are going for the weak link so to speak. Advertisers do not like associating their products with controversy of any kind and so will fold much more quickly than the public might.

I e-mailed my thoughts to the Coalition for Human Decency, and received a very condescending letter. I e-mailed back for clarification, and received an even more condescending letter. I gather that I'm just wrong headed for questioning the tactics of the Coalition for Human Decency. Find it interesting that in with an opportunity to convince someone of the rightness of their cause, they basically didn't bother. This is pretty common among the true believers, I've noticed though.

Anyway to sum up, Make me a Commentator!!! reserve's its strongest condemnation for Michael Savage, who is using his wealth to silence his critics. But we feel compelled to point out that some of his victims are not entirely clean on the issue of free speech, either.

Monday, June 09, 2003

When Savages Attack!

You may or may not have heard of Radio/TV personality Michael Savage. He's a right wing radio guy who has adopted a novel technique in winning the American people over to his side. He's sueing those who disagree with his views. In particular, he's suing, as well as and

I just want to let you know that we at Make Me a Commentator!!! refuse to be cowed by such ham handed techniques. Although I haven't critiqued Savage's show or ideas as of yet, I can assure I will in the future, as and when I encounter them.

In a sign of good common sense, he did not, in fact, sue "" but instead he sued the founder wife. The Founder commented, "It's harassment pure and simple -- going after my wife instead of the Take Back The Media, a California corporation is sleazy. But it's the kind of thing I'd expect from this clown. It's either intentional or a stupid mistake by the lawyers he's hired. The other sites mention how his lawyers tried to take away their domain but screwed up the paperwork. They were laughing at them and it was kind of funny. Going after someone's wife? Real cute. As a Veteran (enlisted in 1971 during Vietnam) I fought for their right of free speech, but not their right to harass and intimidate and we will not back down."


Good news, music fans. According to Suzanne Fields, the failure of Madonna's latest album and the success of Diana Krall, proves that we are turning away from all this new fangled kind of rock music and getting back to the classics.

"Each generation searches for its own voice in popular music, but maybe we're finally passing through a particularly degrading time, when both lyrics and rhythms articulated anger rather than love. Maybe we want to be touched with a little tenderness again. Maybe nihilism and narcissism have finally reached the dead end they deserve."

Well we'll have to wait to see if the next Eminem album to see if we've really rejected nihilism. And does Ms. Fields really think that pop stars will ever reject Narcissism?

In other music news, Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" comes out tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

Responsible Advertising

I got an e-mail today from a company advertising that they could provide me any drug over the internet. According to their copy, "One of our US licensed physicians will write an FDA approved prescription for you and ship your order overnight via a US Licensed pharmacy direct to your doorstep, fast and secure!"

And the E-Mail tagline to entice me into reading this e-mail? "Are you a junky?" What??

This is irresponsible advertising of the worst kind. The company and people involved should be ashamed of themselves. I would imagine they are all in a room somewhere, dressed like seventies TV pimps (I don't know why I imagine them dressing this way, but why not?) reading this website and laughing at my naivete, but maybe one or two of them will be shaken and will decide to not push drugs.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

New Quotation

I've been busy this weekend, so haven't been able to post much--but I am changing the quote on top. Because I care.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Police Cops

Robert Novak has lost it unfortunately. He's wandered off the reservation in his latest piece. It's a piece that lauds the Police Corps, an elite crime fighting organization. He contends that the program has largely been a success and could be useful in fighting terrorism. He comments that it is in danger of collapse due to lack of funding.

And this is his mistake. You see, Americans need tax cuts, and our President, among others, has assured us that we can cut taxes and still completely meet our obligations. Now that seems a dubious premise, but it is the only way these tax cuts will work.

So if Police Corps gets cut, I'm sure it was because it turned out to be a less effective program, not because this Administration is determined to cut taxes no matter what the cost.

All joking aside, the Police Corps program does sound like a good one, and I hope it gets funded. Write your congressperson.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

More on Jim Carrey and Bruce

Well, it's hard to hold onto this story. Now Maggie Gallagher, also a Conservative, has suggested that Jim Carrey's movie proves that America is on the right track.

"Holy cow, Bruce, have you seen the new Jim Carrey flick? What do you get when a movie crosses a) respect and reverence in a cinematic portrayal of the God most Americans worship and b) fart jokes?

You get $135 million bucks in less than two weeks, that's what.

Ms. Gallagher also comments on how great it is to see Jennifer Aniston playing a women Gallagher describes as "the adorably blond good girl who works with children, volunteers for her community, cooks (!) for her boyfriend, and wants nothing more than to settle down, get married and make babies with the man she loves." She even compares Aniston's character to Doris Day. Of course the difference is that Doris Day's characters were never presented with an option. There's nothing wrong with choosing to get married and have children, but she should have the choice.


Ben Shapiro wrote an open letter to President Bush today, speaking of his love and admiration for President Bush, but also attacking his current course of action in regards to Israel.

You are losing your moral vision. Perhaps the State Department has finally convinced you that moral foreign policy is passe. Perhaps you have repeated the mantra "Islam is a religion of peace" so many times that you are willing to stake your entire administration on that dubious claim. But whatever happened, you have lost your way. . . .

You say that Israel's "occupation" has fostered despair in the "Palestinian people" and that Israel must foster hope in order to bring peace. This is backward. It is Palestinian hope, not despair, that causes terrorism. There were no suicide bombings before the Oslo Accords; only after Oslo did terror escalate to its present level. Concessions breed terrorism. In fact, you yourself have rejected the "despair causes terrorism" argument with respect to Al-Qaeda. Islamic terrorists are evil, and neither poverty nor despair causes them to hate us.

Let me repeat one phrase, I found particularly telling. It is Palestinian hope, not despair, that causes terrorism.

What a despairing statement. I wonder what sort of future Shapiro envisions for the Palestinian people, if they are, as he says, basically evil. Does he favor the plan that will end up with them abandoning the land entirely and moving to Lebanon? Or does he favor a mass grave? Like most writers on this subject, he fails to provide an outline.

I certainly condemn Palestinian Terrorists and their terrorist acts against Israel, but I personally believe the bulk of the Palestinian people are just that. They are people. They have kids and work jobs and want to provide a good life for themselves and their children. Removing all hope, as Mr. Shapiro seems to advocate, would make things worse, not better.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Jim Carrey Update

You remember Bruce Almighty. It's the movie that a majority of Americans find unfunny and blasphemous, according to Rich Tucker. Well, that film, despised by the Majority here in America, came in at number 2 over the weekend.

Just thought you'd like to know.


Thomas L. Friedman has an interesting article today at the New York Times. I'm not sure I follow his logic completely, but he ends with a paragraph and a sentiment that every American, particularly those in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department, needs to understand.

But my ultimate point is this: Finding Iraq's W.M.D.'s is necessary to preserve the credibility of the Bush team, the neocons, Tony Blair and the C.I.A. But rebuilding Iraq is necessary to win the war. I won't feel one whit more secure if we find Saddam's W.M.D.'s, because I never felt he would use them on us. But I will feel terribly insecure if we fail to put Iraq onto a progressive path. Because if that doesn't happen, the terrorism bubble will reinflate and bad things will follow. Mr. Bush's credibility rides on finding W.M.D.'s, but America's future, and the future of the Mideast, rides on our building a different Iraq. We must not forget that.

Remember that.

Black Exploitation

Walter Williams, in his quest to become the nuttiest conservative has done it again. In his latest piece, Williams argues against a National Slave Memorial. He states, "If a slave memorial is built on the National Mall, it will simply become a media backdrop for the likes of race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Black Congressional Caucus to spew their anti-American venom and call for quotas and reparations for slavery."

OK, let's follow that logic. So a day honoring Martin Luther King Jr. is bad too, I assume? I mean that provides a focal point for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson doesn't it? Same with Black History month. Same with paying any official attention to African American history. African American History is best forgotten, due to it's potential for exploitation by liberals. I'm surprised he didn't call on us to tear down all monuments to Black Americans.

The problem with Williams is that he is a prominent black Conservative, and thus calling him nuts may or may not bring forth calls or racism. But unlike Thomas Sowell (who obsesses an incisive mind) and Armstrong Williams (who writes very well, and possesses an empathy that many conservative writers lack), he seems determined to push an America in which Blacks are basically told that we've solved all their problems, and that any further problems they suffer from are their own fault.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003


There's been a lot in the news about the 19 men that the United States released (out of 664). In particular conservatives have been complaining about the fact that the prisoners had gained an average of 13 pounds. Manny Howard has an excellent article today in which he injects the odd notion of common sense into the debate. He points out, for example, that the Taliban probably didn't provide the best food to their troops, so this is almost certainly a step up for them. He also points out that prisoners often gain weight upon entering prison, due to the loneliness and dislocation. He comments;

Lisa Dorfman, a nutritionist who has counseled inmates in federal prisons in and around Dade County, Fla., says that in prison, food isn’t just about calories; it takes on a special significance. “When you are incarcerated, food becomes one of the few sources of social pleasure available to you. Meals are an opportunity to communicate with other people. Not insignificantly, it also becomes an outlet, like sex,” she says.

Dorfman explains that overeating, hoarding, and what she calls Night Eating Syndrome are a real problem and a significant cause of dramatic weight gain among prisoners she has counseled. “We found that most inmates gain an enormous amount of weight when they first arrive in an institution. They tend to be depressed, lonely, and stressed out and alienated from loved ones,” says Dorfman. “It’s kind of like being in college your first semester.”

I personally don't fully understand the complaints myself. Should we have starved them? What would that have accomplished, apart from proving that we can sink to the same state of barbarism as everybody else?

Fear of Lawyers

Dennis Prager is afraid of Lawyers. "I have come to fear almost everything having to do with law. Though there are many fine people in the legal profession, and though law is necessary to protect society from descending into chaos, I now fear the legal profession more than I do Islamic terror. I am far from alone. I believe that more Americans rightly fear being ruined by the American legal system more than being killed by a terrorist."

He runs down the standard complaints. Lawyers can sue anybody, and are always encouraging people to sue. Judges like to legislate from the bench. Jurors are too dumb to really bring out justice.

However, like those who spend volumes attacking Islam, he proposes no solution. I suppose that's because we've already got several. The main one, proposed by dozens of conservatives is Tort "Reform" in order to deny American Citizens their rights to compensation under the law. We would just defang the lawyers abilities to hurt corporations, while maintaining their ability to enforce corporate power over individuals. In that way, Mr. Prager, at least, need have no further fear of lawyers.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Comments by Gary Hart

Since Hart apparently can't run for President again, he is free to make statements that would disqualify any real candidate for President. Statements like the following.

But the war on terrorism is now the excuse for America to assume imperial powers and to employ those powers even when our traditional allies oppose our actions. The war on terrorism is fundamentally altering our global policies. We have discarded our half-century reliance on the Atlantic Alliance for collective security. We have marginalized the United Nations at the precise time it should have been empowered to undertake peacemaking roles. And we have alienated key regional powers, including Russia, China, and India, at a time when we should be encouraging them to assume greater responsibilities for regional stability.

All this has transpired in the space of a few months without congressional hearings or review, any comprehensive statement by the administration, serious editorial discussion, or public debate over this new foreign policy. Throughout American history major departures in foreign policy have been the occasion for lively, even contentious debate. This has not been the case as the war on terrorism morphed into the centerpiece of a new imperial foreign policy.

The kicker is that this is in part correct. Congress largely abdicated their role in restraining the President. The President and his supporters have made it clear that they will not accept any limits to their ability to wield power.

Talking is Bad

You heard it hear first. Joel Mowbray has revealed that President Bush has no control over the State Department. When it comes to getting the State Department to do as he says, President Bush has completely failed, at least according to Joel Mowbray.

Of course it could be that President Bush has different expectations than Mr. Mobray. Perhaps President Bush feels that the State Department should work to change the behavior of other nations without the necessity and expense of going to war. Mr. Mowbray takes Richard Haass, the State Department's top policy official to task for failing to implement a policy that the white house hasn't announced yet. According to Mowbray, the White House is about to disengage from the Iranian government, but Mr. Haass is continuing his work as if this policy hadn't been announced yet. Which it hasn't. But it will be.

"As the biggest booster for continuing "talks" with the Iranian mullahs—which invariably give legitimacy to the ruthless regime—he has the most incentive to carry on secret negotiations."

So talking with the Iranian Mullahs would be bad, because it gives them legitimacy. Hey, aren't we talking to Uzbekistan (A country where, according to the State Department, "Security force mistreatment resulted in the deaths of several citizens in custody. Police and NSS forces tortured, beat, and harassed persons. The Government invited the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the country, which he did in November. Prison conditions were poor, and pretrial detention often lasted several months. Police routinely and arbitrarily detained citizens to extort bribes.")?

Also I hope you all caught the "secret" method of using quotation marks to "indicate" that what you are typing isn't "true." You see it's clear from the above passage that what Mr. Haas and the Iranian diplomats are engaging aren't talks. They might be literigic dances. They might be nude love-ins. They might be ultimate fighting challenges. But they aren't talks.

At the end of the day it's hard to understand what some of these hard line right wingers expect the State Department to do. It feels like they see the State Department as a sales department, getting the world ready for whatever new war the Department of Defense decides to engage in. But that is not, perhaps, the best use of the State Department.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Jim Carrey and America Redux

Before getting to the rest of the story, let me just take a minute and mention how much I love the word redux.

Well, you might remember earlier this week, an article by Ben Shapiro praising America's decision to go see the latest Jim Carrey movie Bruce Almighty. He said that it showed our happy upbeat personality. Well, Rich Tucker of the Heritage foundation disagrees.

"Consider the new Jim Carrey movie, “Bruce Almighty.” In a film that’s supposed to be a comedy, “God” gives his powers to Carrey’s character, a failed reporter. “God” then steps out, allowing Carrey to wreak havoc on earth.

Imagine, the very idea of an omnipotent God going on vacation. Of God allowing his power to be used by a human for vengeful purposes. Only in Hollywood would that be considered funny. For most of us, it’s merely insulting.

Tucker's main point is that there should be majority rule. Since obviously the majority of Americans would find Bruce Almighty insulting, I'm sure it must have largely bombed at the box office. Let's check.

Well it was the number one box office draw over memorial weekend, pulling in $85.7 Million. I guess some people must have thought it was all right.

But what's even more interesting is how he opens his article. "Our country was supposed to be based on a simple principle: Majority rules."

Majority Rules.

Like many of you I thought that this nation was founded on the principle of freedom. But I guess I was mistaken. We are instead founded on the principle of majority rules. Which means that we Democrats should just roll over and die, as the majority is clearly republican (Rush has assured me of this).

But then again, I kind of think I like the idea of our country being founded on freedom better.

Interesting Story

This story initially got me a little worked up, but then I read it again and realized that I'd been had. It is from MSNBC. Here's the full text, and here's the bit that got me worked up.

"But some analysts believe Bush may still be intent on sending messages about Chirac’s vigorous war opposition and the decision by Schroeder, the German leader, to make his antiwar stance a major plank in his successful re-election campaign.

Chirac and Schroeder said that U.N. weapons inspections should have continued in Iraq and that diplomatic options had not been exhausted before the war.

Bush wants to convey to France and Germany that “there is a price to pay for defying the United States in the way that they did,” said Ivo Daalder, who was a National Security Council Europe expert in the Clinton administration.

The bit that got me worked up was the phrase, "There is a price to pay for defying the United States . . ." But check where that quote is coming from. A Europe expert in the Clinton administration? Hmmmmm, I wondered why the language was so provocative. It's not like being a European expert enables you to understand the inner workings of an American presidency, particularly one who's philosophical leanings are presumably different from your own.