Thursday, December 30, 2004

The New State Department

For those interested in the future of the State Department, you might check out Sidney Blumenthal's review of the situation at Salon. He sees it, in part, as a rejection of the foreign policy of Bush the elder. I suspect there's also an element of basic distrust of the State Department on behalf of the Neo Conservatives. The State Department exists to find diplomatic solutions to problems, but diplomatic solutions to problems are not necessarily what this administration wants.

Around the Horn

Missed last week, cause I had a half day at work on Thursday and Christmas eve I was busy thinking about eating Goose and then actually eating Goose. This week I'm getting the jump on it, and then next week we will go back to doing it on Friday.

Anyway to start us off here's Words on a Page with some very well thought out thoughts on being a Liberal Christian at Christmas.

Edwardpig also has a reaction to those people who claim that Liberals want to Destroy Christmas.

Natalie Davis at All Facts and Opinion has a reaction to an article by Michael Moore from a couple weeks ago.

First Draft, which is a new member of the Liberal Coalition I believe, has some thoughts on the Abortion Debate.

Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has a thinkpiece on classic video games. I'm embarrased to say I got none of the answers, although I played like 8 of them. Oh well.

Ricks Cafe Americaine has some piercing questions about the Tsunami and American Priorities.

T-Rex's Guide to Life has a story on a debate in the Left Wing Blogging Community, as well as a feature in which he spotlights new or tiny leftwing blogs that could use a little boost.

In that spirit, you might check out this article from the Washington Underground. I don't have a read on the authors politics entirely, but it certainly raises some interesting questions about how Neo-Conservatives look at America.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Top Five Albums 2004

Here are my top five albums for 2004. I admit I'm doing this a little early, as who knows what great albums might come out in the remining two and a half days of the year.

Number 5. Morrissey, You are the Quarry. This gets the nostalgia vote, but it's also quite a good album. Some of the songs are a little slow, but "Irish Blood, English Heart" and "First of the Gang to Die" are as solid as anything Morrissey has done.

Number 4. Thievery Corporation, The Outronationalist Sound and Armend Van Helden, New York City: A Mix Oddyssey. These two albums rekindled my passion for the mix cd by doing exactly what a solid mix cd is supposed to do. Both CDs introduced me to new tracks and both CDs created a solid defined sound.

Number 3. David Holmes, Oceans Twelve. OK, technically there are a half dozen songs or so on here not by David Holmes, and they are all good too. But this is a David Holmes joint, and it rocks with his ultra cool vibe (Particularly on the awkardly named "7/29/04 the day of"). Better in many ways than the movie itself, which although enjoyable, was kind of a cheat.

Number 2. U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. A bit of a silly title, but still a solid performer, with a lot of energy, a lot of fire and a lot of love. Particular standouts include "Vertigo" and "Crumbs from your Table" which the band apparently wrote while drunk.

Number 1. Fatboy Slim, Palookaville. At some point we all need to grow up and realize that Fatboy Slim, despite a silly name and a party vibe is making some of the best music around right now. "Don't Let the Man Get you Down," "Put it Back Together," and "The Journey" are solid enjoyable smart tracks.

Honorable mentions include Bebel Gilberto's eponymously named second album, Bjork's Medulla, The Prodigy's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, The Cure's eponymously named 13th(?) album, Zero 7's When it Falls, and West Indian Girl's eponymously named debut album. Also rereleased this year was The Name of this Band is Talking Heads, by Talking Heads, which captured the original live double album and expanded it by at least 10 cuts, very well worth checking out.

The Forefront of Conservative Thinking

Walter E. Williams, previous guest host for Rush Limbaugh, writes today, in his timely manner, about the assault on Christmas. So those of you who presumed that the Conservative assault on Liberals for assaulting Christmas would end with the actual holiday were wrong it turns out. As was I, as I also made that presumption.

But in his quest for super timeliness he also refers to the big thanksgiving story of the teacher in California who can't use the Declaration in his class because of the references to God. As you know, we've discussed this story a little bit, and the long and short of it is that the version Williams tells omits a lot of details.

At any rate, apparently Leftist attacks on religion will continue and intensify.
If leftists say they have no such intention to go after television, radio and other public expressions of Christianity, what they really mean is that they haven't softened us up enough yet. I'm not quite sure of just how we should respond to the ongoing attack on Christianity and American values, but we'd better do something quickly.
As is traditional in these "liberal menace" articles (like the "muslim menace" articles) solutions are not really part of the program. Perhaps because the "solution" would be a bit impolite to say out loud.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.

There is an interesting article at the New York Times today on the Bush Administrations Second Term Cabinet, focusing on Treasury Secretary John Snow. It deals mainly with the President's placing loyalty over other considerations in promoting people.
Whatever the roots of Mr. Bush's overriding devotion to loyalty, it partly stems from his disdain for the concerns of old-style meritocrats, the kind of people who wince when the president places his confidence in someone like Mr. Kerik. Mr. Bush has never been comfortable in America's so-called meritocracy. Undistinguished in college, business school and in the private sector, he spent nearly 30 years sitting in seminar rooms and corporate suites while experts and high achievers held forth.

Now it appears that he's having his revenge - speaking loudly in his wave of second-term cabinet nominations for a kind of anti-meritocracy: the idea that anyone, properly encouraged and supported, can do a thoroughly adequate job, even better than adequate, in almost any endeavor.

It's an empowering, populist idea - especially for those who, for whatever reason, have felt wrongly excluded or disrespected - that is embodied in the story of Mr. Bush himself: a man with virtually no experience in foreign affairs or national domestic policy who has been a uniquely forceful innovator in both realms.
Of course the problem is that the President is going to need a strong and forceful person to push through his plans on Social Security. Mr. Snow might not be the guy, but how many are going to want to take up the project given the strings that come with it?

More on the Nuclear Option

Arianna Huffington also has an opinion on the nuclear option as well.
Over the course of his first term, 204 of Bush's judicial nominees received Senate approval; just 10 were blocked. This is the highest number of lower-court confirmations any president has had in his first term since 1980 -- including President Reagan. But, apparently, the highest is not enough. This president wants total approval of his every wish.

One small problem: That's not the way the Founding Fathers designed things. They had these funny notions about three separate but equal branches of government, free and open debate, and the value of checks and balances to ward off the overreaching for power by those in the majority. They built an entire system of government to counteract the abuse that inevitably goes with overreaching.

Yet that is precisely what the plan to do away with judicial filibusters is: an out-and-out power grab by the president and his Congressional accomplices. An underhanded scheme to kneecap the Constitution and take away the only weapon vanquished Democrats are left with to defend against Bush's "ten-gallon-hat" juggernaut.
The problem is that with how we perceive these judges. I see them as conservative extremists; conservatives see them as reasonable and moderate judges. One has to assume that those that President Bush will nominate for Supreme Court Justices will face similar perceptions.

Going Nuclear In Style

As you know there is a big debate in congress right now about the use of the filibuster. Senate Democrats have been using the filibuster to block a very small number of President Bush's nominees to the courts; Senate Republicans are considering changing the rules to make it easier to bring an end to these filibusters and force a straight up and down vote. Senate Democrats don't like this policy, as it means that President Bush can nominate whoever he wants. Some Senate Republicans are uncomfortable with it as well, and everybody seems to think that this is a huge step for the Senate Majority Leader to take.

David Limbaugh, on the other hand, believes that it is no big deal.

He rests his argument on two premises. One is that the Senate has the right to change its own rules. There's nothing Constitutional about filibusters, they are simply permitted by the rules of the Senate. So why not change those rules.

The second is that filibustering President Bush's nominees is a little outside the purview of the Congress. Filibustering a tax bill would be fine, as tax bills are the purview of Congress. This argument doesn't fly for me; the Senate has the duty to approve Judicial Nominees. I don't see a difference between passing tax bills and reviewing Judicial Nominees. Certainly nobody would argue that the President shouldn't have the right to veto tax bills because such tax bills are the purview of congress.

Anyway my guess is that this nuclear option will be utilized. With as many as three seats opening on the Supreme Court, President Bush and Congressional Republicans can't take the chance of having their candidates vetoed by Senate Democrats.

Monday, December 27, 2004

A Story of Interest

Those of you who like modern art may find this website interesting.

Those of you who like classic video games may find this website interesting.

Those of you who fit into neither category, just be patient. The waiter will be around in a bit to take your order.

A War for Intelligence

Bob Herbert, of the New York Times, has a fascinating story on how Donald Rumsfeld's Department of Defense is considering picking up some new jobs. As you know, in the run up to the Iraq war, the Department Defense created its own intelligence gathering group because they were dissatisfied with the information coming out of the CIA. Well that strategy worked so well, that they are going to continue it, and combine it with a new program of sending our soldiers out to fight for information. As Herbert puts it, "That is utter madness. The geniuses in Washington have already launched one bogus war, which has cost tens of thousands of lives and provoked levels of suffering that are impossible to quantify. We don't need to be contemplating new forms of warfare waged for the sole purpose of gathering intelligence."

The guy in charge of this new initiative is Lt. Gen. William Boykin who I always remember fondly. He popped onto my radar screen during my trip to New York last year (2003). So you know it will be good.

Watching the Detectives

Has anybody noticed that the Ads for the new Elektra movie (starring Jennifer Garner) reference X-Men 2. I mean wasn't the character of Elektra (played by Jennifer Garner) in another movie? Or was that just a fever dream I had.

I mean I do have a lot of funny dreams, but I could have sworn . . .

The Rise and Fall

Townhall has an article today by Michael Barone on the rise and fall of Liberalism. As he puts it, Liberalism has faltered because of our own success.
To a considerable extent, 20th century liberals achieved many of their goals. Racial segregation was abolished. An economic safety net was constructed. Government issued regulations were set up to protect the environment. Few Americans want to undo these changes. But they may want others.
Barone makes the comforting point that Liberalism is now, apparently, a conservative philosophy. We aren't about changing the world, but about preserving the programs that already exist.

What Mr. Barone leaves out of his discussion is that those programs, even the ones he notes in that short list, are genuinely under attack. I'll allow as Conservatives generally don't want to reverse civil rights gains, but they certainly wouldn't mind eliminating the economic safety net and they certainly wouldn't mind weakening or eliminating government environmental oversight (and to a certain extent they have).

The problem is marketing; the Democratic party has allowed itself to be labeled as the old guys, while the Conservatives are the young Turks who want to make some serious and important changes to our system. This is a bit ludicrous as the changes they want to make, the step forward into the future, are in fact to eliminate or minimize these programs. Or in other words to take us to a governmental set up similar to the one we had at the turn of the last century. But, presumably, with more neon and holograms.

You see Republicans don't like most Government Programs (law enforcement and the military being notable exceptions (although liking the military and thinking they should have armor all over their humvees are two separate issues)). They don't like Social Security. They don't like the EPA. They don't like Worker's Comp. They don't like the Superfund. They aren't big fans of the FDA. So they aren't about creating more effective, better environmental protections (for example); they would rather eliminate those protections (or, if you will, allow the market to determine how much protection the environment needs (which amounts to exactly the same thing)).

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dark on Light

OK. Here's the deal. Once again I am changing the format. But this time I am going back to having my blog be dark text on light background. That means some of the color choices for setting quotations off in posts from last week will no longer look, well, legible on the new background. If you wish to read a post from last week, and I invite you to do so, click on one of the recent posts along the right there.

Just to confuse things I went ahead and recolored yesterdays post, because it was the first one, and it looked goofy. But all the other ones you are on your own with.

Also a new quote! And a new quotes page.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Hope anybody who passes this way today has a wonderful day. Here's a favorite Christmas Carol. Well one of my favorites; how do I know if it's one of yours?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

'Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ruining Christmas

I thought I would take a break from ruining people's Christmas to let you all know that you can prevent people just like me from ruining Christmas by signing a petition. Christmas Ruiners everywhere fear the long arm of the petition.

You would be fighting against such terrible people as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who called for his workers to use the phrase Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. Mayor Hickenlooper changed the policy, however, after complaints. So I guess this petition won't stop that, as it's hard to stop something that's already stopped.

Macy's is having their employees say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. Ha ha ha. Nothing ruins a Christmas faster than those two corrosive words "Happy Holidays." They just suck the fun right out of Christmas.

In King County, WA, the libraries considered not allowing Christmas trees, but then the library board decided they were appropriate. Oops. This petition won't stop that either.

Target decided to not allow Salvation Army to solicit at their stores, on the grounds that they had a no-solicitation policy at their store, and making an exception for the Salvation Army was problematic. That might seem like a complicated issue to you--you might even feel some sympathy for Target's right, as a private company, to do what they feel best. Ha ha ha. Pitiful mortals, this is strictly another attempt by the evil liberal Target store to ruin Christmas.

By the way, did you know that the words Liberal and Evil are Synonyms? I didn't either, but it turns out they are. Ha Ha Ha!

This petition also cites the ACLU for suing over a Christmas Display. Oops, they lost the case. This petition won't help in that situation either. Also, although the ACLU files lawsuits in dozens of similar lawsuits each year, the only one this petition can find is one in which they lost. Still, remember this. Liberal Democrats are Christmas hating monsters.

Anyway hope you enjoyed this. I have to get back out there saying "Happy Holidays" to people and watching them cry.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Quick Note

I've had company the last several days, and it turns out my company was a lot more intresting and entertaining than the world of politics. But I'm back now. Well I will be tomorrow. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

More On Social Security

This is from an article by Molly Ivans from last week.
The Bushies don't want to mend it, they want to end it -- and they are quite upfront about it.

This is not some leftist conspiracy theory: Grover Norquist of The Club for Growth has been open about it for years. What we have here is a happy convergence of ideology (the Market Can Solve All Problems) and greed. The greed is from the financial industry, which stands to pick up an incalculable sum in profits -- and, of course, the financial industry contributes generously to Guess Who. Just the Bush plan of partial privatization would cost about $1.5 trillion in transition costs over 10 years, and Bush wants to borrow that money.
Interesting. Of course Norquist is famous for saying, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." I guess eliminating social security might accomplish a lot of that.

Monday, December 20, 2004

On the Front Lines

Good editorial by Robert Herbert on how our troops are doing in the Middle East. Not the most upbeat of articles.
Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."

We don't have enough troops because we are fighting the war on the cheap. The Bush administration has refused to substantially expand the volunteer military and there is no public support for a draft. So the same troops head in and out of Iraq, and then back in again, as if through a revolving door. That naturally heightens their chances of being killed or wounded.
Herbert also notes the self evident troop that joining the National Guard is not as attractive as it once was.

Bush is reaping what he's sewn. Well have to see if he has the chutzpah to take on Iran, although my feeling is he probably won't.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Christmas Format

Or at least a vague approximation of one. And a new quote and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Your Weekly Rush: Young Americans

Rush Limbaugh, like many on the right, is pretty convinced that the Democrats are through. ". . . I think the other people on the other side of the partisan divide are in the midst of a self-annihilation. I think they're plunging into depths from which they may never recover, which is, to me, only natural. You might look at time, age-old values, wrong versus right: wrong always catches up with you at some point. When you're wrong, it always catches up." That's convenient for Rush.

His argument is that liberals don't believe in American exceptionalism. We do, but not the way that Rush believes in it. Rush believes that American Exceptionalism means that whatever we do, as Americans, is pretty much the right answer. If we Americans install a crooked dictator in Latin America, well, we had the right to do it. If we invade Iraq for very tenuous reasons? That's our right, and the rest of the world should remember we saved their collective behinduses in world war 2 and cut us some slack.

Liberals believe that American Exceptionalism is a call to do better, not an affirmation of the rightness of whatever the hell it is we decide to do. It's a higher standard we set for ourselves. We are to be an example to the rest of the world. It's enough to just say we are an example--we actually have to set the example.

Friday, December 17, 2004

'Tis the Season

According to the Ledger, First Baptist Church in Polk County, Florida set up a Nativity Scene on county lawns after being denied permission by the County Board of Commissioners. They set it up in the middle of the night, but Barbara Pittman who helped organize the event said, in a completely believable fashion, "We would have done it in the middle of the day, but we did it after our prayer meeting. We didn't do it to hide from anybody."

A couple of questions.

1. Is there any reason to have put this on county lands other than to pick a fight?

2. Are there no churches in Polk County with lands big enough to hold a nativity scene?

3. Are there no private individuals in Polk County with lands big enough to hold a nativity scene?

4. Just how big is Polk County? According to their home page they have 2010 Square Miles. Hmmmm. Pretty big. In fact, according to the county website, "Polk County is larger than the state of Rhode Island and equal in size to Delaware . The total area of the county is approximately 2,010 square miles which makes it the fourth largest county in Florida , exceeded only by Dade, Palm Beach , and Collier counties." Seems like they have plenty of room.

5. How big is a nativity scene? Let's assume 60 square yards (5 deep, 12 lengthwise). That means, if Polk County was given over to nothing but Nativity Scenes they'd have room for 58,960 Nativity scenes. But wait, maybe my scene is too shrimpy. Let's give them 100 square yards. Still they have room for 35,376 Nativity Scenes. Seems like they could find room somewhere else.

6. "But Bryant, all that talk about room misses the point. The point is putting a nativity scene on county owned property makes an important statement about the values of Polk County." I'd be very curious to know what that message is exactly, but I suspect its something along the lines of "Screw you, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, and other non-Christian."

7. This really goes along with the spirit of Christ and Christmas, doesn't it? I mean it's a time of confrontation and sneaky late night tricks to get you way. Kind of like Santa Clause. I'm sorry but I believe in the more giving and brotherhood of man kind of Christmas.

Now I'm all riled up, so I'm going to sing a nice Christmas Carol to calm down. Well type it (not even that really). You know what I mean.
Still Still Still

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

Round the Horn

Hey it's time for another excursion around the horn, my opportunity to showcase bloggers who are better and more successful than myself.

BlogAmy has been gone since last week, apparently--hope she is having a nice vacation.

And Then . . . has a story on buying blue this holiday season, for those who are so inclined.

Chris "Lefty" Brown has an interesting scientific experiment you might want to try. I got "She may have the biggest case of artist's temperament I've seen since I first stepped on a holostage . . ."

Collective Sigh has a thinkpiece on hanging Christmas Lights.

MercuryX23's Fantabalous Blog is apparently back. They posted yesterday on a new Sexually Transmitted Disease.

By the way half way through my "Round the Horn" and more than half of these websites don't in fact consider me a member of the Liberal Coalition (as far as I know I joined sometime in February 2004). Let's see what the final tally is.

Rooks Rant suggests that the Democrats shouldn't give up on the South just yet.

Steve Gillard's News Blog has another bit on the Social Security "crisis" and makes a good point about the hard sell the Bush Administration has in front of it.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat also has some thoughts on Social Security, suggesting that privitization may not end up being cheaper.

Doyihi Mir has some thoughts on the armor used by our troops in Iraq and how those chaotic evil Iraqi Insurgents are cheating.

The Gamer's Nook has some cool star charts.

And the final tally? The blogs who choose not to link to me are in the lead. Kind of begs the question, doesn't it?

On the other hand this does fill my quota for Friday morning posting, a day I'm not as motivated on anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Media Matters for America, MoveOn.Org and a few other groups are attempting to bring pressure on the Sinclair Broadcasting group to provide liberal commentary along with their conservative commentary. Local News on Sinclair often contains a message from the Vice President of Sinclair Broadcasting called the Point.

In response to these critics Sinclair Broadcasting has suggested that if MoveOn.Org will allow them to send a message to all their members, and to have access to their mailing lists they will allow a liberal counterpoint to be added. Media Matters for America covered this and included this little commentary.
"The largest owner of television stations in the country is now equating itself with an advocacy organization, rather than a media outlet," said David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America. "This highlights a pattern we've seen with members of the conservative media attempting to draw false equivalencies in order to support their arguments. The real issue is that Sinclair Broadcast Group is abusing its stewardship of the public airwaves by not providing airtime for opposing viewpoints."
Mr. Brock is dead on when he says that this is a red herring. MoveOn.Org and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group are not equivalent.

Raise the Retirement Age

Or, to be more precise, raise the age at which one can begin collecting social security benefits. It's not just a way to save Social Security, it's a way to help millions of Americans avoid spiritual and mental health problems, according to Marvin Olasky.
Ask yourself about the happiness of the people between 65 and 70 that you know: Are those who are working, perhaps on a part-time basis, perhaps in a different career, less happy than those who wonder how to fill up their days? And if you believe in God, ask whether it's right for a healthy person to stop using the occupational talents God has bestowed on him.
Fair enough and I can certainly agree that it's better to keep busy.

But let's ask a counter question. You say you'd like to raise the age at which one can begin collecting social security in order to force senior citizens to keep busy. So why don't you trust them to make wise choices on their own? I mean what if they don't want to work full time? What if they want to focus on more educational or leisurely pursuits? What if they want to get more involved in their churches or in charitable work? And, more to the point, what if it is the supplemental income from social security that allows them to do this?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Go Read the Daily Howler

I know it seems like I'm always sending you to read the Daily Howler, but there's a good reason for that. I really want you to go read the Daily Howler. It's smart, it's well written, it's funny and it's solid. Today they have a quote by Brit Hume (a Fox News writer) on that reporter who suggested a question one of the troops asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
. . . if you can't ask the question yourself and you can get somebody else to ask it, good for him.We could have probably done without his opinions about whether the lack of armor was appalling or something else, but that was said in a private e-mail, not in his reporting.So my sense about this is—one thing, first of all, that that it was a pretty resourceful job to get the question asked. And the validity of the question, as far as the troops were concerned, was confirmed by the applause that the question got.So, I think good for him, good for the soldier, good for the country, even good for the secretary.
They also have continuing coverage on Social Security. Go read the Daily Howler. But keep readign me too!

Hey Kids Rock and Roll

I meant to link to this yesterday but forgot--too much else going on I guess. Don't seem to have that problem today, so go check out Tom Tomorrow's latest. It's spot on.

Brent Bozell, Champion Hoofer

Remember last week when we presented that amazing Tap Dancing Rush Limbaugh? Well Brent Bozell isn't quite in Limbaugh's league, but he still has some pretty fleet feet.

Bozell wisely limits himself to one distinct argument, rather than the scattershot pyrotechnics of Limbaugh's set. Basically it's this. The media, in the personage of Edward Lee Pitts, tricked the innocent Secretary of Defense by having a soldier ask a tough question. By putting a totally fair, legitimate question in the mouth of a soldier, they made it news. If a reporter had asked the same question, it wouldn't have been news, because the Defense Department has answered that question dozens of times.

Of course there's a few questions Mr. Bozell doesn't answer. Why was the soldier willing to go along with it? Why did the other soldiers applaud the question? Was the question based on a lie, or did the soldier's question reflect a reality in the war in Iraq?

Mr. Bozell, in the process of explaining that up is down, comments that these questions are irrelevant. "No one should buy that the Pitts gambit was not a setup, a sleight of microphone, because the soldier embraced the question, or because the grunts applauded. Let's grant it as obvious that the troops are interested in questions and answers about their safety."

What a jerk. The soldiers thinking it was a good question are irrelevant because they naturally care about their own safety? Well, surprise surprise, I care about the soldiers safety too. And I suspect many of my readers also care about the safety of our troops. If Mr. Rumsfeld isn't taking those actions necessary to protect our troops, than why is he the Secretary of Defense? If he can't handle this kind of question, is he really up to the job?

Oh, and in case you are curious, the company that manufactures the Humvees for the Army says that they can put armor on many more Humvees, but that they have not been requested to do so.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

World Net Daily and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

As we all know the new Senate Minority Leader will be Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). As we might also know Harry Reid is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as a Mormon. So is this commentator.

Senator Harry Reid has criticized Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This naturally triggered the right wing to trot out one of their favorite BS arguments. The criticism of a black person of prominence is automatically caused by racism. If we truly wanted Blacks to succeed we would support them regardless of how they succeeded or how they performed in their positions. That's because to a Conservative the only significant thing about Clarence Thomas is that he is a black.

Liberals, on the other hand, look at blacks as individuals. If a black individual performs well, like say, Keith Knight, he's worthy of praise (by the way, Keith Knight is great). If a black individual performs poorly, than he deserves criticism. It's a little think called looking past the skin.

At any rate Media Matters has a story in which they note that the hard right internet site World Net Daily has attempted to link Senator Reid's religious heritage (and my religious heritage) to the supposed racism of criticising Clarence Thomas.

Nice. Wonder how Mormon readers of World Net Daily (many, if not most, Latter Day Saints are Conservative) reacted to that.

David Limbaugh has a Weblog

David Limbaugh (who'd probably like to be known as the smart Limbaugh brother or the literate Limbaugh brother) has a weblog as well. It's not as attractive as this one is of course. For one thing he made the mistake of putting his picture on it. Mr. Limbaugh isn't capable of having his picture taken without looking like he's sneering.

I wisely choose not to inflict my visage upon you.

Anyway he, in a post from yesterday, calls on the Democratic Party to reject Rush Limbaugh. Kind of like Al From.

In this case he's calling on us to reject Michael Moore, because Michael Moore wrote a letter encouraging the party to stop trying to get along with Republicans, and stick to our liberal principles. In this article he quotes Mel Giles, an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, who compares our party to an abused woman.

David Limbaugh didn't read the article closely enough to realize this, but I can forgive him that. I've made similar mistakes such as that time I said Ponyang was in China instead of in North Korea. At any rate he quotes Mel Giles several times, but attributes the quotes to Michael Moore.

Anyway then he says, in the typical Limbaugh manner, full of calm and reasoned words, "And another interesting thing to watch for is whether anyone in the Democratic Party will have the guts to call Moore to the carpet for his maniacal, extreme, divisive, paranoid, hysterical ravings."

One other point for Al From and the Democratic Leadership council, isn't it nice to have guys like David Limbaugh on your side? I mean there's no better way to convince us you have our best interests in heart as to have David Limbaugh echoing you. There's a name all us liberals can trust.

More on Social Security

For those who are interested, there's quite a good article over at The Nation by Dean Baker. He notes that the Republican plans for Privitizing minimize or ignore the administrative costs required to set up all these accounts. Somebody is going to pay for all those individual accounts and it's going to end up being us, one would assume. He also reiterates that the problem isn't nearly as immediate as Republicans would like us to believe.
Of course, the only reason anyone is even talking about cutting benefits and privatizing the program is that the right has managed to convince the public that Social Security is on its last legs. For more than two decades they have spread stories about the baby boomers bankrupting the system and multitrillion-dollar debts left to our children and grandchildren. In reality the program can pay all scheduled benefits long past the boomers' retirement. According to the Social Security trustees report, it can pay full benefits through the year 2042 with no changes whatsoever. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts the date at 2052. And even after those dates, Social Security will always be able to pay a higher benefit (adjusted for inflation) than what retirees receive today. Those scary multitrillion-dollar debts translate into a deficit equal to 0.7 percent of future income--presented in very precise form in the Social Security trustees report for those who care to look.
Well worth reading. The Republican party is relying on urgency to make their case right now, because they know there is a good chance they won't have the votes later. We'll see how well they do.

That's What They Call Doin' No Wrong

Good article by Byron Williams today, who I seem to be going to more and more lately. He goes over how the Bush administration supports the troops, particularly in light of new information on interrogating techniques at GTMO. The article is a bit confusing though. After going through various documents revealed by the ACLU reflecting prisoner abuses, he concludes his easy thusly.
In the past 10 days some of our troops have sued the government and displayed open discontent on the battlefield; but in the midst of bad intelligence and poor planning, only the troops on the ground have been held accountable for any wrongdoing.

Does our support for the troops extend to those in the aforementioned examples?

If not, perhaps Col. Nathan Jessop from a Few Good Men was on to something when he questioned whether we could handle the truth.
I'm not sure whether Mr. Williams is suggesting that we need to hold the troops accountable for how they act, or whether he's lamenting the fact that the troops who carried out these policies will be blamed, while those who created such policies will get off scot free. I'd agree more with the second interpretation than the first one.

Social Security

Hey remember that quote from Tom Tomorrow yesterday? The one where he commented on the trustworthiness of those who want to reform social security? Well as day follows night we get evidence for his point of view. Star Parker writes an article entitled "End Social Security." Guess what? Ms. Parker has been involved in several planned Social Security reforms. Don't trust me? I don't blame you, but here are her own words!
I have been involved with Social Security reform for almost 10 years, as an advisory-committee member of the Cato Institute's project dealing with reforming Social Security and, more recently, with Jack Kemp's efforts to advance the idea of enacting private retirement accounts.

In my view, there is only one honest approach to Social Security: fulfill obligations to pay benefits to those who have already paid in and allow the rest of us as quick and expeditious an exit out as possible. Then shut the doors forever.

So you see the idea that some of the people working to "save" social security are actually planning to destroy it isn't such a ridiculous idea after all.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This Kind of Thing!

I'm out of it today due to work pressures and other pressures. I swear when I got this job at the bottom of the Mariana Trench they never mentioned the pressure. It's like I'm being crushed by several miles of water, the way my boss expects things done before he even assigns them.

Anyway I did want to point you to this nice summation of why some liberals don't trust social security reformers. The summation is by Tom Tomorrow at this Modern World, who I'm not always extremely complementary of. But in this case he is 100% right. "The short version is: it's not some irrational fear of "the market" driving my opposition. It's the very rational understanding that the forces driving Social Security "reform" have no interest in reform whatsoever. You've got the Grover Norquist destroy-government wing allied with the conservatarian free-marketeers, both of whom would dearly love to wipe out the last vestiges of the New Deal. . . . It's not that I don't trust "the market." It's that I don't trust the "reformers." And for very good reason."

He's not wrong.

Crybaby Conservatives

Just read an article by Paul Jacobs in which he old data to prove that press is liberal. He uses three sources to prove that the Press is liberal.

Number one, a survey by the Pew Research Center in which they queried 847 "media professionals" and found that they skewed significantly left and moderate. Mr. Jacobs does not use the term "Media professional" but rather the more questionable term "journalists and media executives." Many liberals would argue that media executives, such as editors or owners of media outlets are more likely to have a corporate bias. They favor policies that corporations like, such as NAFTA for example. They happily demonize unions and union members, for another example.

Number two, a survey of the American people says that they generally detect a liberal bias. OK. But since the Conservative movement has been screaming about this since the 1970s, doesn't that tend to muddy the waters a little?

Number three, in 1992 89% of the Washington Press Corp voted for President Clinton over President Bush Senior. Hmmm. That's sure relevant to what life is like ten years later.

I have two problems with Conservative Criticism of the Media. One is that their analysis of the situation is usually simplistic. The other is that they always overreach. This is because their goal isn't necessarily to change media for the better, but to cause news consumers to question or reject any story that supports the liberal point of view while swallowing completely any story that supports the conservative point of view.

So if a reporter does a story about how Corporation X is mistreating its employees, that's a bad story, an example of liberal bias, and not worth paying attention to. If that same reporter does a story about how lazy shiftless employees are striking, that is a good story, a rare example of good reporting, and worth pointing out on the Rush Limbaugh show.

I know I harp on this a lot, but it really drives me nuts. So I must continue to harp on it.

Today's This Modern World is quite good and deals with this subject. Here's a link.

Also, by the way, let's all remember these touching words from Ann Coulter. "Liberals are no longer a threat to the nation. The new media have defeated them with free speech - the very freedom these fifth columnists hide behind whenever their speech gets them in hot water with the American people. Today, the truth is instantly available on the Internet, talk radio and Fox News Channel." I guess Ann was a little premature? Or else why would they still be whining about their lack of power?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

New Format, New Quote!

Here we go. Plus we have also provided a new Quotes page for your edification.

Friday, December 10, 2004

That Amazing Tap Dancing Rush Limbaugh

You might not want to read this if you don't like Rush Limbaugh and don't want to get angry.

You remember that scene in Chicago, near the end, where Billy Flynn has to figure out a way to get Roxie Hart out from under her diary? Well Billy Flynn ain't got nothing on that old hoofer, Rush Limbaugh, defending his client Donald Rumsfeld.

As you probably know, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, faced some tough questions from the soldiers in Iraq this week. In particular he faced a question about why our soldiers don't have enough Armor to Armor their vehicles. And the quick-stepping Rush Limbuagh steps to the center of the stage and begins his dance.

First he attacks the soldier. He acts incredulous that a soldier would actually question his commander in chief in this way. "And what struck me odd about this was those of us who have employees, we all have meetings with them and we all let them blow off steam, but we do it in private. . . . You just don't see that kind of near insubordination among rank and file military to the secretary of defense." There it is. If only the soldier was a good American, he would ask things like "So Mr. Rumsfeld, what is your favorite plane?"

Then Limbaugh loosens his collar and makes an attempt to defuse the situation with humor.
So I was going to work out a bit yesterday. In fact, I brought Snerdley in here, and I said, "You've seen this Rumsfeld story?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "Well, I tell you, I want to do something. I want to have a little fun with this today." I said, "At some point I'm going to talk about this story and I'm going to bring you guys in here and say, 'Look, if it's a new policy now that employees have their bitch sessions in public, I'm going to bring you and Dawn and Brian in here and I want you to start complaining about the fact that the ice machine doesn't fill up every day, that you still have to sometimes wait for it, that your new 30-inch computer display monitor hasn't come in yet and you're still slaving away your 23-inch display," seventeen-inch display; sorry, Mr. Snerdley, and Dawn wanted to explain that the dishes in the dining room are not the right shade of white and gold that she ordered, and what are we going to do about it.

All these, you know, crazy complaints, because nobody that works here has any.
Of course the humor hear works a bit better if you think that a soldier requesting more life-saving armor on his vehicle is more or less the equivalent of an office worker requesting a larger monitor. If you think those are two different things, well, you may not find Mr. Limbaugh's tap dance all that amusing. There's a possibility you might even find it offensive.

But Rush isn't done yet. With a stylish throwing of the jacket off stage, he brings out his big guns. A Reporter may have helped the soldier formulate his question! This is proven by an unsourced e-mail reprinted at the Drudge Report, so it's bound to be true. And, as others have pointed out, even if it is true, did the same reporter also coach all the other attendees to the meeting to cheer when the question was raised? Does it make it any less of a valid question? Even Rush concedes that none of this gets Mr. Rumsfeld off the hook for his lousy answer to this question."But, hey, look, secretary of defense, he's going to go up and answer questions. He's gotta be prepared for whatever he's going to get. He can't say he shouldn't be prepared for them."

And then in a final linguistic flourish he moves to one of his favorite points. Based on the tenuous evidence that a reporter was involved, and reporters are liberals, and liberals feign concern about American Soldiers dying, we liberals want more Soldiers to die.
The answer to this is they're just livid -- the press, the leftists in this country are just upset that there are not enough deaths to get people outraged and protesting in the treats against the war. They're mad that these doctors are saving lives. They want deaths! They've been counting deaths up to 1,000, they hoped that would get Bush out of office. They still want Bush out of office; make no mistake about it. They still want Bush discredited and it's all part of coming back in '06 and '08, and so there are too many lives being saved over there.
I don't know what this has to do with the additional question, as this seems the complete opposite. I mean if we really wanted more soldiers to die, wouldn't we be in favor of Rumsfeld not armoring the troops? That probably does lead to more deaths, doesn't it? But of course the dancing is so good, you can't help missing out that the argument doesn't make very much sense.

This is a long post. I guess I'll cut it off here. But this whole post is funnier if you imagine Rush Limbaugh tap dancing.

Round the Horn Dedicated to Jacky Cane

I don't know who Jacky Cane is, but Hooverphonic did a cool song about her, so why not? And away we go.

First up is an article on the intramural squabbles to take control of the DNC, as reported by Bark Bark Woof Woof, who asks some pointed questions about what the previous dudes have given us.
Here's a brain teaser. One of those aforementioned dudes is named Donna Brazile. Who is, in fact, a women. Which is more problematic; calling her a dude, which leaves the implication that she is male, or using the phrase "Dudes and Dudettes, which implies that she is a Dudette?" Tune in to the end of this round the horn for the answer.

Back to going around the horn. Iddybud has some further thoughts on the fight for the DNC chair, and suggests that tearing into Howard Dean may not be the way to go.

Scrutiny Hooligans also has some well thought out thoughts on Howard Dean becoming the DNC head.

Sooner Thought has some words to share about who President Bush has appointed to head the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Speedkill has some thoughts about Bill O'Rielly and Christmas.

The Invisible Library has a take on Gerald Allen a new proponent of Censorship.

Trish Wilson's Blog has a story on new evidence that Fathers, not Mothers, are more likely to falsely claim abuse.

The answer to today's riddle is that the word dudes should not be used. But since I'm probably going to use it anyway, I'd say its much less insulting to call a woman a dude than to call her a dudette (which to me sounds incredibly condescending). If you have a different opinion, please post it in the comments section.

Anyway that's it for this edition. Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Changing the Terrain

The right has these little games they like playing. We saw one earlier this week with the Williams story, which was called, leave out all the context, and hope that nobody minds. And of course, most of their fan base doesn't mind. Another game is changing the terrain. Take this little conversation.
Conservative: In my mind anybody who criticizes this war in Iraq is a filthy traitor and should be strung up.

Protester: Wait a moment, I think if you don't agree with a policy you have a patriotic duty to let your feelings be known.

Conservative: See there you go, pretending that simply protesting makes you patriotic.
Let's call this technique changing the terrain. The liberal thought she was defending against the charge of being disloyal and anti American, and so couched her response in that language. But then, in a rhetorical switch-a-roo, the Conservative (and Rush Limbaugh loves making this argument) instead switches the argument from being about the Loyalty of Protesters, to a debate about the self-involvement of protesters. See how that works?

Of course Liberals can use this technique too.
Liberal Commentator: We have all the evidence we need to suggest that President Bush drives around in an 18 wheeler running over people just for the heck of it.

Questioning Quint: I don't know. This evidence doesn't look all that convincing to me.

Liberal Commentator: So you think we shouldn't even question President Bush's policies, but just believe whatever he tells us?
It's an annoying but effective technique.

Anyway this was triggered by an interesting article on the validity of dissent by Byron Williams.
The formula for deconstructing dissent is as old as recorded history. The leadership continually promotes the idea that an attack is imminent, while denouncing the dissenters for their lack of loyalty and claiming such dissent during a crisis is a threat to the country's safety.

But dissent is the oxygen of democracy. Without it, we would risk choking on the fumes from our own megalomania.
Strong but accurate words.

The Muslim Menace

We used to get these articles a lot. They aren't as popular now, but they are still around. Marvin Olasky's latest, "Beyond Wishful Thinking About Islam," is a good example of the type.

Mr. Olasky doesn't want to appear bigoted, of course, so he does admit to there being a debate within Islam between moderates and militants. He does not acknowledge, of course, that our invasion of Iraq has given the militant side of equation a huge rhetorical advantage.

He makes it clear that the Militant Islamists have at least parts of the Koran on their side, and that Muhammad himself approved beheadings. He doesn't mention how various Christians who lived in Muhammad's time executed their prisoners and criminals, but presumably that's irrelevent.

And he closes his article with this bizarre formulation. "It's certainly time to enter into discussions with Muslims without offering either appeasement or shotgun-blast aggression." How have we appeased the Islamic World? Not at all as far as I know. As for shotgun-blast aggression, one might think that was a reflection of our invasion of Iraq. But I doubt that is an interpretation Mr. Olasky would support.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

And Still More on Mr. WIlliams

Low posting today due to some time constraints, but did think I'd point you to a San Francisco Gate story on Mr. Williams Tribulations.
With many critics saying they heard that the school district is "banning the Declaration of Independence," and a few choice e-mails suggesting that "all of you in the school district can burn in hell," Cupertino's spokesman, Jeffrey Nishihara, somewhat exasperated, said, "The district has not stopped teaching about the Declaration of Independence."

The district denied all the claims in Williams' suit, and said it looks forward to explaining its side in court. Williams, who has taught in the district for eight years, declined to be interviewed for this story.

Some parents, the district's defenders, and civil liberties groups say the suit is an attempt by the Christian right to remake the nation's history. Although parents say Williams "is a nice guy," they say he's created an intimidating atmosphere for students who may be too young to contradict their teacher.

"This is the same thing that people have been trying to do for 200 years. The only difference now is that they're well funded, media savvy and litigious, " said Ivory Madison, who has done legal analysis for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It's a shame that our tax dollars have to be used for a school district to defend the Constitution."

Circular Firing Squad

As we all know, Robert Novak revealed that Valerie Plame's wife was a CIA Operative, potentially an act of treason. And now this issue is under investigation. This presents a little bit of a challenge for the right wing. Novak is one of them, and defending the right of Republicans to do whatever they want is important. On the other hand, it's also an opportunity to slam into the Press, which is something every red blooded Republican enjoys. What's the answer?

Well Jonah Goldberg, editor of the National Review, has decided to take the second tack. He does focus on the testimony of Judith Miller (who is not, in fact, Robert Novak). But he does make it clear where he stands.
One of these journalists, Judith Miller of the New York Times, is scheduled to appear before a judge this week and may go to jail if she doesn't spill the beans (this column was filed on the eve of her appearance). She vows that she won't reveal her sources. Miller's case is special because she never wrote about Plame.

But now liberals are furious that journalists might actually have to help the investigation they demanded. Journalists are beyond indignant. As a group, they seem to think asking journalists to reveal their sources is more sacrilegious than using a church as a stable.

. . . Indeed, the reigning talking point from the First Amendment voluptuaries is that lawyers and doctors are protected from revealing secrets, why shouldn't journalists be? Well, lawyers are not allowed to help their clients break the law, and neither are doctors. If it's against the law to ID a CIA agent, why should journalists - including Novak - be automatically off-the-hook?
This is a tricky question in my mind. I can see why journalists would fight it; it's a slippery slope. But this particular case seems pretty open and shut to me. Someone in the White House outed a CIA agent. That's serious.

And of course, there's the source. Jonah Goldberg bites Robert Novak. Wonder how that will shake out.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

More on Mr. WIlliams

If you want to find out more about the documents Mr. Williams was choosing to use in his class, you might want to visit this website. It goes through each of the documents in detail and points out how some of them are bogus and some of them are purposefully incomplete. The author also unpacks why this issue is important.
Mr. Williams' material has a strong bias towards promoting God, Religion and Christianity. Some of the material is bogus or dubious in origin. The material that can be sourced shows a complete disregard for providing young students a well rounded perspective on what the founders of the United States really thought, not just about God or religion, but also about how God or religion should interact with the business of Government. It tells me that the principal may indeed have had good justification for doing what she did.
I agree with this analysis. But the damage is done. Few will take the time to find out the truth of the matter, and those few who do, many will simply shrug and move on to the next liberal "atrocity."

What to do with Michael Moore?

Last week some prominent members of the Democrat Leadership Council, an extremely moderate, pro-business Democrat group took some potshots at Michael Moore. Al From, the organizations CEO, said "We've got to repudiate, you know, the most strident and insulting anti-American voices out there sometimes on our party's left... We can't have our party identified by Michael Moore and Hollywood as our cultural values."

Matt Taibbi of New York Press asked why. Why slam into Michael Moore? For one thing, complaining about how closely allied Michael Moore is with the Democratic Party only highlights that they are allied. If it's a public-relations problem, why draw attention to it? More to the point, the Democratic Party isn't that closely allied with Mr. Moore. To the contrary the candidates, excepting Wesley Clark, steered well clear of him.

Mr. Taibbi has an answer and it isn't very pretty.
It's one thing to avoid public appearances with a Michael Moore, and to accept his support only tacitly. But it's another thing entirely to openly denounce him as anti-American, which is what Al From did last week.

What From, Marshall and the other DLC speakers were doing last week was not just ruminating out loud about the need to shy away from certain demonized liberal icons. They were, instead, announcing their willingness to embrace the other side's tactic?I hate to lean on this overused word, but it is a McCarthyite tactic?of branding certain individuals as traitors and anti-Americans. What they were doing was sending up a trial balloon, to see if anyone noticed this chilling affirmative shift in strategy and tactics.
I can say, as a student of the Red Scare, that he's not wrong. McCarthy would never have been as powerful as he was if President Truman and other Democrats hadn't basically ceded the argument to them.

I also think that this is a pretty distasteful tactic and stands in stark contrast to how Republicans treat their "extremists." As I've mentioned before, President Bush and Vice President Cheney both appeared on Rush Limbaugh's program. And there certainly haven't been calls on the Republican Party to distance themselves from such anti-American people as Ann Coulter and Michael Savage.

Oh and if you want to know how dangerous and anti-American Michael Moore is, you might go look at his book, "Will They Ever Trust Us Again?" A collection of letters from soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yeah, that's definitely something to be ashamed of.

Two Scenarios

As you know, Steven Williams in San Francisco has brought suit against his school board for preventing him to pass out the founding documents in class. Presented are two possible scenarios of the incident which led to that suit.
Mr. Williams: Good morning class. I am passing around the Declaration of Independence in order to make an important point about the founders of our nation. They were religious men. As you can see religion is reference three times in this document, proving that if the founding fathers were here they would be born again fundamentalists. Christianity is a natural prerequisite to being a good American.

Student 1. So you are saying a follower of Taoism couldn't be a good American?

Mr. Williams. Exactly. And I know that if Mr. Jefferson were here with me today, he'd completely agree, that only Christians and supporters of President Bush truly love their country.
Obviously not intending these to be realistic scenarios, but more exaggerations. Ready for scenario two?
Mr. Williams. Good morning class. I am passing around the Declaration of Independence so we can have a discussion of it.

Student 2. Wait a second Mr. Williams. This document references the patriarchal God of Christianity. We can't read this.

Mr. Williams. Well, we don't need to talk about the religious side of the document. I just thought it would be good to consider . . .

Student 2. You'll consider nothing. I'm going straight to the principles office to talk about how you are trying to shove religion down our throats.

Mr. Williams. Oh no. I'm not trying to do that. This is an important document . . .

Student 2. Document Shmocument! This document clearly references God and is a volition of my civil rights!
Now, in case you don't know, the second interpretation is the one being pushed by Rush Limbaugh and Cal Thomas and others. The School Board and others are being pretty quiet about this issue in the public forum, which might be smart from a legal perspective, but makes it hard to figure out exactly what happened.

Reading the "Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages" brought by Mr. Williams against the Cupertino Union School District though we do get a few clues however. One of the documents Mr. Williams selected to present to his class was an President Bush's proclamation on a National Day of Prayer (page 5 of the complaint, item 37). Hmmmm. Spider sense tingling. He also passed out a handout entitled "What Great Leaders have said about the Bible" (page 6 of the complaint, Item 40).

The question obviously is was Mr. Williams proselytizing in his class room? If he was than these steps that the school board take are pretty well justified. If he wasn't than this is a school board that jumped off the handle. Obviously Mr. Williams denies any attempt to proselytize (Page 7, Items 52 and 53). What else is he going to say? I'm not saying that his denial proves that he did it, I'm just saying his opinion on the matter is definitely biased. But without any more information from the parents or the PTA or the school board, there's no way to know, one way or the other.

What's the Matter with Colorado?

As you know, we had an article a couple of weeks ago on Democratic gains in the Rocky Mountain states, particularly in Montana and Colorado if memory serves. Well came across an article by John Andrews, a Republican out of Colorado explaining the results.
It was motivation, above all, that powered this Democrat victory. Democrats were driven and hungry from decades in the political wilderness. Republicans were complacent and soft from too long in power. Their motive for winning was to get in there and do things. Ours, it often seemed, was merely to stay in there. These attitudes translated into discipline and unity for Democrats, indulgence and disunity for Republicans. GOP factionalism was endemic and fatal.
Could be a sign of things to come. Certainly you do have some factions within the national Republican party that are going to expect some stuff. Can President Bush and the Republican Congress deliver? And if not, what becomes the main themes of Campaigns 2006 and 2008? Something to think about it.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The poor state of manhood

Poor Doug Giles. He's a man, and, according to him, it's just hard being a man today.
Nowadays, especially via TV and Hollywood, men are seen as despicable, cruel, pusillanimous, selfish, ineffectual oafs, veritable bumbling idiots who need women or some gay guy with a Queer Eye ? to help us through our primal fog towards metrosexual healing.
Poor guy. I mean it's like there are no positive male role models in America.

Take, for example, Jack Bauer of 24, played by Kieffer Sutherland. He's saved the world on three separate occasions, all the while being a totally bad dude, and a manly man. But maybe that's a bad example. I mean Jack Bauer isn't exactly an ineffectual oaf. He can be cruel, but only in the line of his duty.

Or how about Benjamin Franklin Gates, star of National Treasure, played by Nicholas Cage, in theaters now. He foils a bunch of criminal crime guys who want to steal the constitution and use it to get to a treasure. He's patriotic, heroic, and a snappy dresser (without any visible help from the Queer Eye Guys).

Of course there are occasionally shows about guys where they look silly. I suppose that really in America the only people who should be allowed to look ridiculous are women and possibly minorities.

Frankly I'd put my concern over Mr. Giles complaints up there with people who claim that Conservatives, despite controlling the white house, the congress and the supreme court are a persecuted minority.

Art in America

This post is brought to you to the strains of the Asian Dub Foundation, a very cool band.

Today's post concerns the wonderful world of Art, as you might imagine. Now I'm not an Art Critic, but I play one on TV ("TV Show Made up to serve the purposes of this quasi-joke," Wednesdays, 9:30 PM, UPN). So Larry Kudlows latest article, a pean to the work of his wife (Judith) struck me as just a little self indulgent (not that I'm going to make a stink about that) and a little wrong headed.
Judith and her associates, especially Andrea Smith from the Florence Academy, are leading lights in the return to classical painting. Sometimes it?s called natural realism. I just call it conservative art. Let me tell you what it?s not ? it?s not modernistic, abstract, self-centered expressionism. It?s not just throwing paint at a canvas. It doesn?t tear down art, or the rest of the world, for that matter. It?s not the negative pessimistic crap that too often passes for art in blue states like New York and, well, you know where else. These are just beautiful, calm, pleasant pictures. Stuff you can enjoy looking at, which is what I think art should be.
Conservative art, eh? Smart of you to put your mark on it. That way everytime you see a naturalistic painting that pleases you you should think, "Thank you, conservatism."

But wait a second, what if you see something in a modernist style that pleases you? Like this for example.

I can assure you this is modern art as I lifted it directly from the Museum of Modern Art Website. So if you find this pleasing, should you think "Thank you Liberalism?" Probably not.

It's worth noting that both Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia had very similar ideas about what art should be and what it should not be. We are all familiar with Hitler's crusade against Modern Art. In Russia, the emphasis was on creating art that the peasants would enjoy. Of course, I'm not insinuating that Mr. Elder is a totalitarian dictator or a totalitarian of any stripe.

Personally I like Modern Art. Other people don't like Modern Art. That's fine. But the Artistic Spirit is a wandering spirit. You can basically expect that it will go places that a lot of people don't understand initially. Trying to fence it in will just produce dull and stagnant art.

But then again I'm not a fan of landscapes.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Friday, December 03, 2004

Talkin' Church and State Blues

I was all set to direct you to an article in the New York Times on how "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan got the approval to be a single, but then I came across this tidbit. Apparently November 23 of this year the man most likely to be our next Chief Justice argued that separation of Church and State led to the Holocaust.
The Associated Press reported on November 23, 2004, "In the synagogue that is home to America's oldest Jewish congregation, he [Scalia] noted that in Europe, religion-neutral leaders almost never publicly use the word 'God.'"

"Did it turn out that," Scalia asked rhetorically, "by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America?" He then answered himself, saying, "I don't think so."

Scalia has an extraordinary way of not letting facts confound his arguments, but this time he's gone completely over the top by suggesting that a separation of church and state facilitated the Holocaust. If his comments had gotten wider coverage (they were only noted in one small
AP article, and one in the Jerusalem Post), they may have brought America's largest religious communities - both Christian and Jewish - into the streets.
Interestingly ahistorical perspective. Of course Jews were persecuted for centuries with the full approval and encouragement of the various European Christian denominations. Some would argue that the Holocaust was just the next step in that line. Certainly it didn't come out of nowhere.

Around the Horn Part IV A New Hope

And here we go again. Missed last week due to Thanksgiving nonsense, but I'm back now.

Archy has some comments on Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson's comments on Canada and the potential treason involved.

BLOGG has some suggestions on simplifying your Christmas shopping.

Corrente has a good discussion on an post by Kevin Drum on Presidents Truman and Bush.

Echidne of the Snakes has some very good home decorating advice; unfortunately following it requires me to evict myself, as I do occasionally shed hair.

Kick the Leftist has a piece on a certin Austrian who might consider possibly running for President but now apparently won't.

Musing's Musing has some reflections on seasonal music and "The Rebel Jesus."

Continuing the Holiday Theme, we'd like to wish Pen-Elayne on the Web a Happy Birthday and point you to some cool pictures of Christmas-y houses.

Respectful of Otters has some comments on President Bush's tax initiatives, particularly the one that makes it harder for workers to get health insurance.

Birthday congrats also go out to Rubber Hose who is now 2/3rds of the way to being our President.

The Fulcrum has some reports coming out about how great Fallujah's going.

And that's it for another week. Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Good Old Ann Coulter

Another website for media criticism is Media Matters for America, which has some really good stuff. For example, they have these comments from Ann Coulter on our neighbor to the north.
There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent of the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol.

They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.
Nice stuff.

Now some of you might be wondering what Ann is talking about when she mentions that Canada didn't support us when we were attacked on our own soil. As you know, Canada did support our efforts in Afghanistan, and continue to support rebuilding efforts their. So they did support us against those who attacked us, but did not support our efforts to invade Iraq.

You see in Ann's mind Iraq is an Arab Nation and a Muslim Nation. And Arabs and Muslims attacked us on September 11th. Ann wants us to destroy all political entities in the Arab world (Kill their leaders) and forcibly convert them to Christianity. So if President Bush wanted us to invade New York to convert the cab drivers tomorrow, and Canada didn't support us, well, that would be another example of Canada's infidelity.

There are some nice anti-Canada sentiments by Tucker Carlson too, for those interested in the great white north.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

That's the tune that they are singing over at the Media Research Center about Brian Williams, who will replace Tom Brokaw at NBC Nightly News. It turns out that Brian Williams is a hated liberal as well, and therefore unfit to deliver the news. The examples they select, however, aren't entirely revelatory.

Take this example.
The United States spends billions on foreign aid, and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers gave their lives to bring freedom to the citizens of other countries, but Williams glibly suggested the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was enough to make the U.S. a global bad guy.

Anchoring the May 7, 2004 Nightly News, Williams intoned: "The damage is clear: After no weapons of mass destruction showed up in Iraq, the U.S. justified the war by saying that at least the human rights violations would stop - the torture, the abuse and the murders. Tonight, although the scale of this is much different, it is increasingly difficult for the U.S. to make that moral case around the world."
OK, let's break this down. The Media Research Center claims Mr. Williams claimed that Abu Ghraib was enough to make the United States look like a global bad guy. What Mr. Williams actually said was that if we are claiming to have invaded Iraq for humanitarian reasons, than the pictures coming out of Abu Ghraib make that a tougher sell. Seems like that's a pretty good analysis, even if it isn't something that conservatives want to see repeated. Is it really the Media Research Center's opinion that the pictures coming out of Abu Ghraib are going to improve America's image around the world?

And then theirs this popular technique.
When he was covering the White House for NBC, Williams gushed over then-President Bill Clinton. "He's perhaps the most intellectually and physically active person to have held the job in decades," Williams told the Late Late Show's Tom Snyder on November 17, 1995. "I've also said that if Americans were paying Presidents by the thought, we're getting a bargain in this guy because, my God, he's just always moving, his brain's moving, he hardly sleeps."
Did you catch that old switcharoo? They are penalizing him not for what he said as a newscaster during his newscast, but for what he said on a talk show, where he is naturally expected to give his own opinion. In effect they are penalizing him for admiring President Clinton's workaholism as a private citizen.

I don't know whether Mr. Williams is going to be a good host or not. I'm unlikely to find out as I don't really watch evening news (preferring to read my news). But not sure that these criticisms are anything to get my dander up over.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I'm Back

This stupid Blogger, that has functioned very well for me over the time I've used it, didn't work for me this morning, thus deserving my condemnation. I choose not to pay attention to the litterally hundreds of mornings I have been able to post without problems, and instead I am focusing on the one time they screwed up. Because that's the way I am!

Anyway I had a lot of cool stuff, but i've decided to punt and pick it up tomorrow. So have a nice evening.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Supporting our Troops For Real

I intended to post this on Monday but did not in fact do so. I consider it well worth considering as Mr. Deitrick makes a number of really good points.

Supporting Our Troops for Real
by Conrad Deitrick

There’s much talk these days of Supporting Our Troops. It’s a buzzword (buzzphrase?), like Saying No to Drugs used to be in the 1980’s or Tolerance in the 1990’s. In the reality that is now, if you support the troops you’re patriotic and a true American with values, but if you don’t support the troops, you’re unpatriotic, loathsome and maybe even a terrorist sympathizer. Not Supporting Our Troops in the 2000’s is like being secretly a Communist in the 1950’s. Political suicide at the least. Accusations of treason.

So everyone has to say they support the troops, vocally and publicly. You see it on bumper stickers, on t-shirts, on buttons. Politicians bandy it about; it’s the preemptive defense that you have to erect, especially if you’re a Democrat, lest someone point the finger and yell j’accuse and you’re hauled off to meet Mme Guillotine. The accusation alone is proof of guilt.

The problem is that really, it’s a bunch of rhetoric. I see a bumper sticker that says “Support Our Troops,” and I wonder what that person really is doing to support the troops. I’d wager nothing at all. Sure, they may write letters to some soldier in the family who they love and are proud of and hope makes it home safely, but that’s not Supporting the Troops. It’s supporting a troop.

The bumper stickers and rhetoric amount to little more than cheerleading, but even less effective. At a football game, the cheerleaders are right there on the sidelines. This “Support Our Troops” stuff is on the other side of the world from most of our troops in combat. Does it bolster their morale? Maybe a little. Knowing that people back home are proud of you does help a little, but when things are really bad and you’re cold, wet, hot, scared, and feeling pretty puny, cheerleading is pretty low on the list of what raises morale. It almost feels like a slap in the face sometimes. It’s hard to explain, but getting one warm shower and something to eat and a good night’s sleep will do more for your morale than all the bumper stickers and t-shirts in the world. And you know what would really help? Going home.

So it’s a little irritating because Support Our Troops is an ever-present droning mantra here in the states, but it’s almost worthless. An empty gesture. Even worse, sometimes it seems like a slap in the face: America pats them on the back and tells them they’re in its prayers and then places them in harm’s way and asks them to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the burden over and over again. “We love you and we’re proud of you, but guess what? You don’t get to go home to your wife and the daughter you’ve never seen because we’re involuntarily extending your enlistment and keeping you out here.”

So, here’s my point: If you want to Support the Troops for real, here are some things you can do.

1. Support measures that increase the military’s manpower, especially active duty manpower. Write to your congressmen. Yes, the generals say there are enough troops on the ground, but how long do they have to stay there? And how many times do the same troops have to come back? Given the current situation, the military is stretched pretty thin. Multiple deployments, even back-to-back, are becoming the rule instead of the exception. Deployments are getting longer. Especially for the reservists and Guardsmen who make up roughly half of our military strength, this is a terrible trial. If the need were dire, we’d suck it up and do our duty- out duty is what we signed up to do. But the need isn’t dire. The USA has a population of nearly 300 million, and our current military strength is tiny in comparison. Increasing the size of the military is simply a matter of spending the money to make it happen. With more manpower, there would be no need for back-to-back deployments. After soldiers, especially Guardsmen and reservists, have done their duty they would be able to go home, secure in the knowledge that they have done their duty and served with honor but now it’s someone else’s turn.

2. Encourage young men and women to enlist. How many military-aged men and women are hanging out on college campuses, living it up on mom and dad’s credit card and getting drunk every night while the same reservists and Guardsmen have to leave their wives and families over and over again? If you are the right age and medically capable, enlist. Yeah, you’ve got plans for your life, you’ve got places you want to go and things you want to accomplish, but so do all of those soldiers whose dreams and plans are being put on hold while they do their duty. Are your dreams better or more worthy than theirs? I doubt it.

3. Find out what things soldiers need, and send them packages. It doesn’t have to be just your son or daughter or brother or aunt. That relative you have in the military probably has battle buddies that might not get care packages- it would be incredible for a whole squad to find that one of their mothers had sent them all things like baby wipes, cheap but durable sunglasses, DVDs to kill the boredom, books, etcetera.

4. When the troops come home, cut them some slack! They’ve been living a life that is fundamentally different from what they’re coming home to. There’s going to be an adjustment period- it might involve a short temper, and there might be all kinds of trouble. Don’t be a fair-weather friend and turn their back on them when they don’t fit in right or when they lose their temper easily. Don’t nail them to the wall the first time they tell a tasteless joke. Please realize that this young man or woman has just had their entire world shaken up in a way you can’t even imagine and they’re doing the best they can to adjust. They’re transitioning from a world where a whole different set of norms and expectations are in place. If they don’t fit the socially acceptable mold you think they should, give them some time. Give them some leeway. Be patient. Be understanding.

5. Support expanded financial and other benefits for soldiers. Again, the Guardsmen and reservists are making a big sacrifice; many times they’re leaving a good job with a high salary to serve and make a whole lot less money. Things like pay raises, increased separation pay, increased combat pay, and other non-money benefits like Tricare are a way the Troops can really be supported. What can you do about it? Write to your congressman.

6. Support political candidates who seek to strengthen America’s alliances in the world. The more the US tries to go it alone, the more our Troops have to carry the burden. Weighing Down Our Troops and Spreading Our Troops Too Thin are definitely not the same thing as Supporting Our Troops.

7. Find out what businesses deal fairly with their reservist and Guardsmen employees, and make sure you patronize them. At the same time, find out what businesses give their reservist and Guardsmen employees a raw deal and boycott- and let them know why you’re boycotting them.

There are probably more ways than that, and in fact, there should be a number 8: look for ways you can Support Our Troops for real. Toss the t-shirt and the bumper sticker and let your actions speak for you- actions are so much louder than words.

The Other Side

Of course criticism of the New York Times isn't limited to just the Right Side of the dial. FAIR has some criticisms of how they have reported the war as well. Take this story on how they have dealt with Civilian casualties, for example. Basically FAIR argues that the times minimizes the numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths.
In three recent reports about the military invasion of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the New York Times has misreported the facts about the April 2004 invasion of the city and the toll it took on Iraqi civilians.

On November 8, the Times reported: "In April, American troops were closing in on the city center when popular uprisings broke out in cities across Iraq. The outrage, fed by mostly unconfirmed reports of large civilian casualties, forced the Americans to withdraw. American commanders regarded the reports as inflated, but it was impossible to determine independently how many civilians had been killed."

The next day, the Times made the same point, reporting that the U.S. "had to withdraw during a previous fight for the city in April after unconfirmed reports of heavy civilian casualties sparked outrage among both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis." And on November 15, the Times noted that the current operation "redressed a disastrous assault on Fallujah last April that was called off when unconfirmed reports of large civilian casualties drove the political cost too high."
FAIR's opinion is that these stories portray the casualties as unconfirmed. My read is that they are placing the stories in time; at that time that the United States withdrew from Fallujah, those reports were unconfirmed. That said, I would be interested to know if the original stories had some message about the information on Iraqi Casualties that has come out since then.

This issue does, however, underline the point that we know a lot more about how many American Soldiers have died verses how many Iraqi civilians have died during our occupation.

There are some difficult questions that have to be answered before you can start counting Iraqi Civilian Deaths. Do you count just those deaths caused by the Coalition forces? Do you count those caused by insurgent movements? How do you count insurgents? Obviously President Bush and his supporters would like a standard that minimizes the number of Iraqi Casualties. Opponents of President Bush want a standard that shows the maximum number of Iraqi casualties. So you see a pretty wide range of numbers.

But it strikes me that the media has largely chosen to face this issue by avoiding it. Which I'm not sure is the best strategy. If we are to judge whether the Iraq war is a success or failure we need to have at least some idea of the cost of the war.