Sunday, February 29, 2004

New Quote

Todays quote comes from the Digger Papers. Go check out The Diggers.

Plus a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I've Never Been Happier

I apparently missed Jon Alveraz's appearance on the Daily Show. Jon Alveraz, in case you've forgotten, is the boss of Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood (PABAAH). Trying to bring back the Red Scare.

Your Weekly Rush

We have an exclusive fake interview with Rush Limbaugh. Yes, we caught up with Rush Limbaugh and asked him some questions about the recent presidential debate; and he graciously, but not in reality, gave us the answers we needed.

MMAC: So you watched the Debate the other night; what did you notice?

Limbaugh: Ron Brownstein from the Los Angeles Times really hammered John F. Kerry on gay marriage, and all Kerry could do was stammer, "I was clear!"

MMAC: Kerry stammered? I didn't get that impression. And, in fact, Kerry's position on Gay Marriage is clear. Here was his statement this very week. "While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, for 200 years, this has been a state issue. I oppose this election year effort to amend the Constitution in an area that each state can adequately address, and I will vote against such an amendment if it comes to the Senate floor.

I believe the best way to protect gays and lesbians is through civil unions.
" That seems clear enough to me.

Limbaugh: Brownstein in effect said, "Clear about what? You haven't answered my question. The only way to stop gay marriages, which you're against, is with a constitutional amendment. You agree with Bush!" Kerry and John Edwards finally said they're against gay marriage, but they practically whispered it.

MMAC: Is the only way to stop people who abuse over the counter drugs to eliminate them entirely? Is the only way to stop alcoholism to outlaw alcohol? Obviously no; and in both cases, it seems that adopting the all or nothing approach will not work. John Kerry and President Bush seem to recognize Gay Marriage as a problem, but disagree on how to approach it.

Limbaugh: Remember, don't call Kerry on his flip-flops or cite his record. That's "questioning his patriotism."

MMAC: Actually questioning his patriotism is questioning his patriotism; which you've done plenty of times. Citing his record without distorting it would not be to your advantage, so I assume you are using citing as a replacement word for distorting.

Anyway that's all of the interview we're going to print at this time. But remember to get the "Bryant Broadside" my monthly newsletter full of distortions and unfunny cartoons. Only $19.95 plus another $19.95 plus Tax, Shipping, Handling, Folding, Spindling, Mutilating and Spinalizing. Remember, sending me money in no way guarantees the receipt of anything.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Soundtrack to a Film that Hasn't Been Made

Songs From the City - Los Angeles

For those of you who have Rhapsody enjoy. For those of you who don't, these are all great songs that you may or may not like.

“I Hate My Generation,” Cracker, The Golden Age

Jake stands up as the bus pulls around the corner. He looks around his home town for one last time. He wipes the sweat from his eyes, turns aside and spits. He gets on the bus.

“Rip off Train,” The Pretty Things, Freeway Madness

The bus driver plays some damn hippie music. Jake tunes it out, watching his past disappear over the horizon and his future getting bigger and realer.

“Everybody Pass Me By,” Pepe Deluxe, Super Sound

The city is warm and dry for the most part; there are a lot of transients, which is a fancy word for bums and hobos. Jake becomes one for a while, watching the world he craves walk by him. He wonders sometimes if this is really better than his home town, but then he curses and carries on.

“Life in Laralay,” Love and Rockets, Express

He meets Mr. Alke. They drive around the city at night, and talk. Maybe Mr. Alke will give Jake a job. Maybe he won’t. Mr. Alke is that kind of person; he enjoys playing with hopes and dreams.

He gives Jake a job.

“Hope,” REM, Up

Jake has a job and a place now. He’s trying to care about his work. He’s trying really hard. But he’s not very good at caring about anything, and this job is no exception. Still, nobody else really cares either, so his apathy goes unnoticed.

“Diamond Dogs,” Beck / Timbaland, Moulin Rouge

There’s a party all the time at The Club. Jake starts going every night; now that he has some money. Mr. Alke sees him there and smiles. Jakes picking up some expensive habits, but he doesn’t really notice. He dances badly, but he looks good leaning against the bar.

“Political,” Halou, Wiser

Lorna Stands near the bar too. She has a body that slows thought and a smile that breaks spines. She knows it too. Jake sees Lorna and the contours of the story become much clearer.

“Paco,” Ladytron, 604

You might have noticed that this story is a bit derivative. That’s because it’s happening all the time. It’s happening right now. It might be happening to you. Jake feels better. He feels like the city is opening itself up to him. He wonders if he’s falling in love. He goes back to the club trying to find away to get close to Lorna.

“For All These Years,” Tanita Tikaram, Ancient Heart

This is Jakes story. So we don’t get to know what Lorna’s story is. You can see it in her eyes though, if you're patient. Jake can no more understand Lorna than he can swallow the Pacific Ocean. But he’s going to try.

“Breath In,” Frou Frou, Details

Of course it’s not the first part of swallowing the ocean that’s the hard part, is it? Jake does ok for a little while. He makes Lorna smile. She takes him places. He goes. The city seems beautiful, for a while.

“You’re So Pretty – We’re So Pretty,” Charlatans U.K., Wonderland

Jake is on top of the world. No, really. Things couldn’t be better. He’s in the greatest place of all time, doing the greatest stuff of all time, with the greatest woman of all time. He hasn’t noticed that Lorna’s smile has become a little brittle. A little cold.

“When Two Worlds Collide,” Simple Minds, Real Life

This is Jakes story, but he lives in a world. There are a hundred other stories around him. Stories of betrayal. Of murder. Of despair. Even stories of hope. But Jake doesn’t really see any of them because he has one eye fixed on himself and one eye fixed on Lorna, who told him that she didn’t want to see him any more.

“Runaground,” James, The Best Of

She’s gone.

“I Am Sound,” Dandy Warhols, Welcome to the Monkey House

Jake tries to go to the club and tries to work and tries to do all those other things that he used to pretend so successfully to care about. It doesn’t really work; he can’t pull it off the way he used to be able to. So he gets drunk instead.

“On the Beach,” Neil Young, On the Beach

Jakes world becomes full of long afternoons that don’t seem to end. He goes home every night excited, and then five minutes after getting home dreads the time he has to spend alone. So he goes out with people he doesn’t like to places he doesn’t like. The Club seems dirty and small and the music sucks all of a sudden. Mr. Alke smiles.

“Run (Single Version),” Spiritualized, The Complete Works Vol. 1

Jake waits at the bus stop, standing up as the bus rounds the corner. He looks around at the lights of the city and spits. He gets on the bus. He’s going somewhere else. Somewhere that used to be home.

“Over,” Portishead, Portishead

Turning our eye to Lorna for one last look we see her destroying her apartment. Slowly and methodically. She has a lot of crystal a lot of glass. Her feet get cut. After a while she goes to The Club and dances with Mr. Alke.

“Sleepy Town,” Jim White, Wrong Eyed Jesus

The bus pulls over the hill and turns, giving Jake a view of his hometown. It’s beautiful in it’s own way. The sun is starting to come up.

“For the Trees,” Matmos, The Civil War

That night Jake lays on the roof of his old house with a blanket. He looks up at the stars drinking in the universe. After a while, he turns aside and spits.

Free Trade Stops Wars

A couple of years back, second season of the West Wing, they did an episode in which Toby Ziegler, the Communications Director for the White House, had to give a speech to WTO protestors. He listed all the things that free trade makes cheaper, and then says, "It lowers prices, it raises income. You see what I did with 'lowers' and 'raises' there? It's called the science of listener attention. We did repetition, we did floating opposites, and now you end with the one that's not like the others. Ready? Free trade stops wars. And that's it. Free trade stops wars! And we figure out a way to fix the rest. One world, one peace. I'm sure I've seen that on a sign somewhere."

Paul Krugman over at the New York Times makes a similar point today on the benefits of Free Trade. "Let me spare you the usual economist's sermon on the virtues of free trade, except to say this: although old fallacies about international trade have been making a comeback lately (yes, Senator Charles Schumer, that means you), it is as true as ever that the U.S. economy would be poorer and less productive if we turned our back on world markets. Furthermore, if the United States were to turn protectionist, other countries would follow. The result would be a less hopeful, more dangerous world.

Yet it's bad economics to pretend that free trade is good for everyone, all the time. "Trade often produces losers as well as winners," declares the best-selling textbook in international economics (by Maurice Obstfeld and yours truly). The accelerated pace of globalization means more losers as well as more winners; workers' fears that they will lose their jobs to Chinese factories and Indian call centers aren't irrational.

See that's one of the differences between Republicans and Free Trade Democrats right there. I know a lot of liberals see no difference; but in theory at least the Free Trade Democrats, like Clinton and, presumably, like Kerry, are about solving the problems of Free Trade as opposed to the Republican strategy of ignoring them.

Like Toby said ". . . we figure out a way to fix the rest." And that's Mr. Kerry's job, but it's also our job. It's easier, I admit, to accept Free Trade uncritically or to reject Free Trade uncritically. But it's better to adopt the more difficult task of reforming Free Trade so that it benefits all Americans instead of just those on the top of the pile.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

NY Times Endorses Kerry

They really went out on a limb. Still it's before Super Tuesday, so that's something. Here is there assessment.

If Mr. Kerry wins the nomination, the Bush administration will undoubtedly attempt to paint Mr. Kerry as a typical Massachusetts liberal, but his thinking defies such easy categorization. His positions come from mainstream American thought, centrism of the old school. He has always worried over budget deficits. His record on the environment is extremely strong. He is a gun owner and hunter who supports effective gun control laws, a combat veteran who, having seen a great deal of death, opposes capital punishment. A sense of balance comes through when he is talking. Unfortunately, so far in this campaign Mr. Kerry has shown little interest in being daring, expressing a thought that is unexpected or quirky on even minor issues. We wish we could see a little of the political courage of the Vietnam hero who came back to lead the fight against the war."

They write Edwards off as a bit too young, which is fair enough I guess. Of course what we'd all like is some sort of merging of the two. But Dr. Scientistguy says that that isn't possible yet, and even if it was there would be ethical problems and that's as far as I got before tuning him out.

Emmet Tyrell - Fanning the Flames of Hatred

Well, Emmet Tyrell isn't going to go see the Passion. And he has some harsh words for Senator Kerry.

"And so on to the week's other fantasies, specifically the ongoing presidential candidacy of Sen. John Pierre Kerry, the very French-looking frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race.

When I heard that he was being accused of having had an affair with a young woman, I thought to myself, "How very French." And when I heard Howard Kurtz on his CNN media show say that the story was part of the Limbaugh-Hannity conservative smear machine, I went back to the early stories and discovered that they originated not from conservative sources but from people around Gen. Wesley Clark.

Kurtz's panel of experts also said there was no substantial evidence of an affair having taken place. Apparently, they had forgotten that at least one British newspaper quoted the alleged inamorata's father saying Kerry had pursued his daughter in some vague but troubling way. The father called Kerry a "sleaze ball." Later, the father said he would vote for Kerry, but the man's early aspersion is difficult to explain away.

Well whether or not Kerry had a Francois Mitterrand-like relationship with a cutie, he still seems very Gallic to me. Now it turns out he has a cousin who is mayor of a small French town. Mon Dieu, how French is that? Oh, and by the way, did I hear that he served in Vietnam?

Thank you Mr. Tyrell for reminding us all how much we hate France and French people. Why I had almost forgotten that all true Americans hate French people. Thanks to your inspiration I'm going to go slap around the employees of the local french restaurant. Maybe I'll take away their lunch money. After all stupid Frogs don't need to eat, do they Mr. Tyrell.

But as to your specific coverage of the Kerry intern story; well, you didn't get the facts completely correct. For one thing, there are some justifiable questions about whether or not this story started with Clark. Given his subsequent endorsement of Kerry, it doens't seem likely. You also distort the story by failing to report that the woman involved has totally denied the rumors.

But of course the nail in the coffin is that he has a French Cousin. How despicable! I think we should take Kerry and drown him in french wine (red wine, because it's more telegenic). That would show those Frenchies what we think of them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Interesting Contrast

"It's interesting to see movie critics suddenly concerned over what they perceive as gratuitous violence and anti-semitism in cinema. Would they express outrage over the graphic depiction of the Crucifixion if, instead Mel Gibson, the writer/director's name were Oliver Stone or Quentin Tarantino? . . . I think not."
David Horowitz

"Anyway, this is a film review, not Sunday school. The paradox of wishing something horrible to stop even as you want it to continue has as much to do with moviegoing as with theology. And Mr. Gibson, either guilelessly or ingeniously, has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end. The means, however, are no different from those used by virtuosos of shock cinema like Quentin Tarantino and Gaspar No?, who subjected Ms. Bellucci to such grievous indignity in "Irr?versible." Mr. Gibson is temperamentally a more stolid, less formally adventurous filmmaker, but he is no less a connoisseur of violence, and it will be amusing to see some of the same scolds who condemned Mr. Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" sing the praises of "The Passion of the Christ." -A. O. Scott, New York Times Film Critic

I know I said I was bored with this controversy (and I am), but did think these two quotes were interesting. Oh, and apparently any film critic who pans the movie is an evil liberal. Nice how that works out. Of course, I'd be interested to know what Mr. Horowitz thinks of fellow conservative Jeff Jacoby's review of the movie, which was pretty negative.

"If you didn't know that Jesus of Nazareth was born and died a religious Jew, you certainly wouldn't learn it from "The Passion." Almost nothing in this movie connects him with the Jewish people. He does not refer to himself as a Jew or take part in any recognizable Jewish ritual. His reason for being in Jerusalem was to celebrate Passover, but there is never any mention of that Jewish holiday. When he is glimpsed praying or teaching, it is always outdoors, never in a synagogue. Only once is Jesus identified as a Jew: when Judas, about to betray him, greets him with, "Hail, rabbi."

Many Christians will see other gaping holes in what "The Passion" conveys about its main character. The movie has precious little to say about Jesus's life and ministry. There are a few brief flashbacks; occasionally Jesus utters a familiar line; but on the whole there is nothing that makes clear who this Galilean was, why he attracted a following, or why anyone in Jerusalem would have given him a second thought.

And if there is next to nothing about his life, there is even less about what followed his death. The last few seconds of the movie seem to show Jesus walking away from his tomb, but there are no words of explanation, no context, no answers. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that for Gibson, what is most important about Jesus is not that he lived and preached, nor that he rose from the dead. All that matters is that he died a bloody and agonizing death.

Noam Chomsky

Mr. Chomsky is one of those people I have a hard time figureing out. I mean, on the one hand, I think he's a valuable voice in our national discussion. On the other hand, I don't necessarily agree with most of what he says, and he has a condescending tone that suggests that as an acedemic he knows a hell of a lot more than I do. In other words, he's not much fun to actually read.

Kind of a contridiction? No. While I don't agree with Chomsky's conclusions, I do think the evidence he brings forward is worth looking at. More to the point, I might be wrong and he might be right. I don't think that's the case, but it could be.

At any rate there is an interview over at American Amnesia (great name for a site, very memorable) with him where in he did make a very good point I think.

"The most significant aspect of the failure to find WMD is that it has lower the bars for aggression. If you look back to the original security strategy that was used as the justification for the invasion, which claims that the U.S. has the right to invade another country if that country means of destruction that could harm us ? suggesting WMD ? the effect of not finding them has been to lower the bars for aggression. If you read Colin Powell or Condaleeza Rice or the rest of them today, they say ?Well, it was justified because Iraq had the capability and intent of developing WMD, so that means we?re entitled to attack them.? Well just think that through ? every country in the world practically has the capability! Who has the intent? Right now ? probably everybody if they can do it. So that means every country in the world is subject to U.S. invasion and attack if Washington decides. That?s the position that Colin Powell and Rice and Rumsfeld are maintaining."

It is kind of scary to consider the lowered bar for attacking another nation.

And as Mr. Fantastic, Tony Blankley

For those of you are not up on your comics, Mr. Fantastic was this dude from the Fantastic Four who had the super amazing ability to stretch. This power proved useless, so he became a great scientist as well.

Well Tony Blankley's ability to stretch will be unquestioned once you hear about his latest theory on Kerry's mental health. As we all know Kerry served with honor and distinction in Vietnam. Well, now, far from being an asset, Kerry's military service may well have scarred him.

". . . there are those for whom the war becomes the great, personally defining event of their lives. It not only shapes, but also distorts, their perception of the world. Often this sort of man entered combat as an idealistic youth. Shocked by the brutality of war, they spend the rest of their lives failing to come to intellectual and psychological terms with the disparity between their youthful expectations and grim battle. These were good men, once. But they become spiritually damaged. Sometimes the more intelligent of these traumatized former soldiers turn to ideas, rather than liquor or opiates, to numb their troubled souls from their painful memories. World War I produced many such examples -- from the pacifist poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, to the sensitive cultural scholar and novelist Robert Graves, all the way to the demented ideologue Hitler.

Is John Kerry one of these types? Certainly he is not a Hitler.

Well it's good to know that Kerry probably isn't Hitler (but I'll bet that sentence was a last minute addition). But according to Tony Blankely, Kerry's service in combat may have left him with "an irrational obsession to never use force."

Yep there's the stretch for you. Of course having proposed the amazing theory, Tony Blankly offers no proof whatever for it. No examination of Kerry's record to suggest that he's always voted against force, for example.

In other news, I contacted my counterpart on a parallel Earth today to see how things were going over there. Apparently Howard Dean clinched the nomination over there. And wouldn't you know it, parallel Tony Blankley is writing about how Dean's lack of service in the military makes him, apparently, "pathologically afraid to fight." I guess Tony Blankley is consistent; Democrats are messed up in the head and can't be president no matter what universe he is in.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Nothing Going On

I just feel bad because I haven't posted much, but the truth is, nothing interests me today.

I'm sick of the Passion Controversy, such as it is. Like many controversies in the world of arts it just seems annoying. Gibson made a movie about the Death of Jesus Christ and he made it how he wanted to make it. Some people feel that it's too anti Semitic. You know what, even with that brief recap I'm already bored. What's funny to me is that I can name about 10 people who have defended and not that many who have attacked it. What's also funny is that it is basically being cast in the Liberals verses Christians story that Conservatives love. I have to say my Christianity isn't threatened because a Jewish person or organization (and it seems that most of the attacks on the movie have come from Jewish groups) feels that a movie made by a Christian is anti-Semitic. But, being a liberal, I suppose I'm not the right kind of Christian, anyway.

Let's also take a moment to comment that this is a Biblical film in Aramaic, described as very bloody. I wonder if the publicity from the controversy helped the movie or hurt it? Particularly since the Limbaugh Brothers and their allies have been selling the movie for months.

"The Passion" directs us to Christ's death so that we might understand the meaning of His life -- and ours. - David Limbaugh

Anyway to sum it all up; the controversy bores me, and I am not going to go see the movie. But I will be in Church on Sunday, and probably won't feel any additional guilt for not going to see it (if anything I'll feel guilty for stealing those Girl Scout Cookies from . . . Well better I don't go into any details).

To conclude, nothings going on.

The Big Lie

According to Thomas Sowell, who is usually pretty brainy, the big lie is that we have working poor in America. Yep the working poor in America have basically disappeared; we have the unworking poor and the middle class. "While there are working people who are poor, most poor people are not working full time, not working very long, or not working at all." He then quotes a complicated formula used to determine this.

"Census data make it unmistakably clear. When it comes to full-time year-around workers, there are more heads of households who fall into that category in the top 5 percent of income earners than in the bottom 20 percent -- in absolute numbers."

Yep. Nothing could be clearer. Of course a suspicious person might wonder at all those qualifiers, and question whether or not Mr. Sowell is being entirely forthright. It would seem his figures would disqualify people who are working nearly full time (as many are; businesses like employees who work 35 hours a week so they don't have to pay overtime or medical). They would also disqualify seasonal workers or workers who have been laid off, no matter how long (or how short) they were out of work.

Of course it's all in the definition of working poor. Sowell, sensing, perhaps, that even a cusory glance around most communities will reveal the existence of working poor, then defines the term for us. Apparently the Working Poor are those who remain poor for a long period of time, for one thing. Consistently poor. So if you had a good year a couple of years back, got out of poverty for a little while, well, you aren't part of this category.

The other factor is what number are we using to determine working poor? Is it $22,000 a year? $15 an hour? Or is it the ability to pay for enough groceries, health care, housing? It's not the latter, by the way. That would raise the bar a little higher than is politically prudent.

Monday, February 23, 2004

More on Nader

From the New York Times Editorial Page.

"Their concern seems overblown. If Mr. Nader didn't learn anything from the 2000 election, the voters certainly did. People might have voted for him once under the impression that sending a message was more important than picking the next president. We doubt very much that they will make the same mistake twice.

So much has happened in the last four years that it's hard to remember how low the stakes seemed when Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were running. . . .

. . . It's not surprising that in 2000 many people thought they could afford to express their irritation with a vote for Mr. Nader. If they did that again this November, it would be a repudiation of the Democratic nominee so thorough that the party would certainly have bigger problems than third-party candidates to worry about.

This is probably about right. The liberal base is energized, and it seems unlikely that they will be willing to cast protest votes unless they really believe that their vote will have no effect on the election.

It's the Little Things along with the Big Things

In all this talk about whether or not the Bush Administration decieved the American people about Iraq or questions about forcing the CIA to come up with the "right" answer, there are other aspects to President Bush's Foreign Policy that are getting overlooked. Such as the fact that the entire Bush foriegn policy can be summed up on a postage stamp.

Do what we say or else!

Yep. The Bush administration apparently sees diplomacy as a way of presenting our demands to the world. We will tell other nations what to do, and they will do it. That's why Neo-Conservative thought calls for us to treat France as an enemy; because we asked them to do something and they didn't do it.

It's all pretty sad really. I love this conversation. "So why does President Bush want to act unilaterally?" "What do you mean unilaterally, more than 20 nations supported us in Iraq." The proper response is "Yeah, but how many of those nations got even the slightest input on how and when? Great Britain we listened to as long as they told us what we wanted to hear.

I've covered this ground before, back when Newt Gingrich attacked the State Department and tried to measure himself for Colin Powells job.

Which brings us to the man in charge of our diplomatic apparatus, Mr. Colin Powell. Fred Kaplan, writing for Slate, covers his current woes.

From the start of this presidency, and to a degree that no one would have predicted when he stepped into Foggy Bottom with so much pride and energy, Powell has found himself almost consistently muzzled, outflanked, and humiliated by the true powers—Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (Bureaucratic battles between Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon have been a feature of many presidencies, but Powell has suffered the additional—and nearly unprecedented—indignity of swatting off continuous rear-guard assaults from his own undersecretary of state, John Bolton, an aggressive hard-liner who was installed at State by Cheney for the purpose of diverting and exhausting the multilateralists.)

Kaplan notes that it is unlikely that Powell will be part of a second Bush Administration (assuming he gets one, and following Rooks advice over at Rooks Rant, I'm assuming he won't). So in the unlikely event of a second Bush Administration, well, maybe Gingrich will get to try on that new job he wants after all.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

New Quote

From good old Alexander Hamilton. And a new Quotes Page too.


Saturday, February 21, 2004


Fox News is reporting that Ralph Nader will announce his campaign this weekend.

I know this is an impolite question, but is it telling that Fox News, which loves Republicans and is, at best, lukewarm towards Democrats, has broken this story?

Of course it might turn out not to be entirely accurate.


"Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles. - George Jean Nathan

"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober." - G. K. Chesterton

When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

. . . while Woody Guthrie was many things - even admirable things (he carvied an an indelible place for himself in American culture for example ) - the one thing he was not was a patriot. He was a patriot of the Soviet Union and the Communist dream. But a patriot as someone who loved and would defend the capitalist democracy he was born in he was not. - David Horowitz

David Horowitz wants an America where everbody accepts that the only true patriotic Americans are Conservatives, so it's not surprising that he doesn't like Woody Guthrie. Patriotism does not, however, necessarily mean a loyalty to the exact country you were born in. America changes every minute, and it shouldn't take September 11th to hammer that home.

Woody Guthrie as I read him, and I'm hardly an expert, wanted America to prosper for all it's citizens. He believed in democracy so much that it offended him to see the un-democratic tendancies of some of our wealthier citizens. He believed in Socialism, and with the benefit of hindsight, I believe that he was wrong. But I'm not sure I wouldn't have made a similar call in his place, particular with the misinformation being put out by Stalin.

More to the point, this is part of Horowitz's and other Neo-Conservatives efforts to define liberalism as unpatriotic. Thank goodness they haven't succeeded just yet.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I'm Pointing Over There

Good article by Echidne of the Snakes. Actually two. The first is a lamentation on an empty lot and the second is a discussion of the current state of feminism. Go check them out!

Songs of the Struggle

This has been a fun project and a first for "Make me a Commentator!!!" We have set up a selection of classic protest tracks for you to listen to and enjoy. Below is a link to Rhapsody which is a music service set up by Real and other people apparently. They now have quite a bit of music (as opposed to when these counter Napsters started when you basically had the $.99 bin of music to pick from). Anyway if you have Rhapsody you can click on the link below and listen to the set.

Protest Songs on Rhapsody

And here's the track listing.

Pulp - Common People “I said pretend you've got no money, / she just laughed and said, / "Oh you're so funny." / I said "yeah? / Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.” – This is a song that I discovered fairly recently, though it came out back in 1995, I guess. But this is probably the best song on social class that I can think of (with the possible exception of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.”) Plus it’s damn fine tune and funny as hell. From Hits.

Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers “Look what's happening out in the streets!” I still don’t know if we are meant to take this seriously or not. It is, however, the classic acid rock revolution song. From Volunteers

U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday “How long Must We Sing this Song?” This was one of the first political songs that really sunk in when I was back in high school. I didn’t pick up on the references to Ireland, but I did pick up on the angry despair in the line quoted above. From Under a Blood Red Sky.

Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. “Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville / Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and / women will not care if Dick finally gets down with / Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people / will be in the street looking for a brighter day.” This is a classic revolution song that everybody sort of knows (at least the title, anyway). I first heard Gil Scott Heron on the Underworld “Back to Mine” album (the track was B-Movie) and was impressed; and then put one and one together and went looking for his other stuff. From Pieces of a Man.

The Clash - The Guns of Brixton, “His game is called surviving.” Continuing in the paranoid revolutionary vibe, here’s the Guns of Brixton by the angry Clash. It beat out “London Calling” (which I love, but decided was not direct enough) and “Know Your Rights” (which was the song that I loved as angry teenager, but hasn’t aged as well as “The Guns of Brixton.)" From London Calling.

A3 - Mao Tse Tung Said, “I will fight. Let them hear it in the night” The quotation that opens this song is, as you probably know, from the Reverend Jim Jones. Revolution doesn’t always work out the way you expect it to. The other one I might have used here was the Beatles “Revolution” but decided I liked this one better (and because I’m using Rhapsody “Revolution” wasn’t available). From Exiles on Coldharbour Lane.

Public Enemy - Night of the living Basheads. “And brothers try to get swift an' / Sell to their own, rob a home / While some shrivel to bone / Like comatose walkin' around” Really didn’t consider any other Public Enemy Song; this one still sounds as urgent as it did when it was penned. Largely, I suppose, because the issues haven’t really changed. From 20th Century Masters - Public Enemy

Rage Against the Machine - Guerilla Radio. “It has to start somewhere / It has to start sometime / What better place than here / What better time than now.” This was originally The Ghost of Tom Joad, which I really like as well. But decided that Guerilla Radio was more concise and direct. Rage Against the Machine is the most important political band of the 1990s. From the Guerilla Radio single.

Wyclef Jean (with Prodigy of Mobb Deep) - Rebel Music. “You get yours and I get mine and we’ll help each other through the bad times” – This song had a lot of competition. Obviously in doing this I wanted to hit certain artists and certain genres and certain time frames, and one of them was modern hip-hop. So I put a lot of songs in the hopper and this one and “Rock the Nation” by Spearhead kept popping out on top. I finally went with Rebel Music, but Rock the Nation is a very cool song as well. From The Preachers Son.

Joan Baez - We Shall Overcome. “Deep in my heart, I do believe” This is almost more of a prayer than it is a song. I find Joan Baez’s voice alternately annoying and beautiful, but on this one she comes down on the beautiful side. From Joan Baez in Concert.

Bob Dylan - The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. “Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane / That sailed through the air and came down through the room, / Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle. / And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger.” If this song doesn’t get you angry, you may not be human. It beats out it’s album mates “Masters of War” and “The Times They are A-Changin’” by virtue of it’s specificity and it’s implications. From Live 1975.

Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit. “Pastoral scene of the gallant south, / The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,” The earliest song on the list, and one that Lady Day was always passionate about. Not surprisingly it wasn’t as popular as her less political numbers. I particularly like the powerful trumpet on this version. From the Complete Billie Holiday . . . (Box Set).

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - 49 Bye Byes/ America’s Children. “And I don’t know if I want white America to remember or forget / that Jesus was the first non-violent revolutionary.” This song was selected more for America’s Children than 49 Bye Bye’s, of course. It contains some great piano playing by Steven Stills and powerful lyrics about where the revolution is going. Or where it should have gone. From 4 Way Street.

Pearl Jam - Fortunate Son. “Some folks are born made to wave the flag, / yeah the red, white and blue.” Creedence Clearwater Revival is another band who doesn’t appear on Rhapsody, but this is a pretty credible version of Fortunate Son. From May 28 03 #38 Missoula.

Pete Seeger - Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. “I’m Not Going to point any moral, I’ll leave that to yourself.” My first exposure to this tune came from watching “Smothered” a movie about the censorship troubles of the Smothers Brothers TV shows. Among the many things censored on that show was a performance of this song by Pete Seeger. So when it came time to look at Seeger, an artist I am not as familiar with, but one who clearly is important in the history of protest music, I found this one, loved it and stuck with it. From Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs.

Marvin Gaye - What’s Going on?. “You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate.” This one beat out “Exhuming McCarthy” by REM which was a song I have had more of a history with (R.E.M. remains on my top four or five bands ever). But at the end I had to give the nod to Marvin Gaye. From What's Going On?

The Byrds - Draft Morning. “Take my time this morning, no hurry to learn to kill” A deceptively beautiful song; the subject of some strong arguments between David Crosby and his former band mates. Still once you realize what’s going on, well, the song has some teeth. From The Notorious Byrd Brothers.

The Police - Driven to Tears. “Seems that when some innocent die all we can offer them is a page on some magazine.” – It’s hard to do an album of political songs without Sting, and he’s never cut harder or deeper than on this track. Truthfully most of his songs are so tightly and deeply produced, you usually miss the forest for the trees (the other exception being “Fragile”) From Zenyetta Mondetta.

Sinead O’Conner - The Lamb’s Book of Life. “Out of hopelessness we can come / If people just believe it can be done.” This is undoubtedly on of the tracks that will have most of you scratching your heads. I don’t know if you can sum up what rebellion, revolution or protest means with one song or with one sentence. The truth is that revolutions often don’t work or bring around a set of conditions a lot like the ones that just left. If there is going to be a revolution (of any sort), what will make this one any different than the ones before? Perhaps the only real revolutions are the ones we make as individuals. From Faith and Courage.

Bob Marley - Redemption Songs “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery / None but ourselves can free our minds” – I considered both No Woman No Cry and Get up Stand up but ended up with this track as the ideal closer. There’s a line from an old Love and Rockets song (actually the title of the song as well) called“Be the Revolution There it is. From Legend.

Other songs that almost made the cut include "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon, "Talking About a Revolution" by Tracy Chapman (both unavilable on Rhapsody, unfortnately), "War" by Edwin Starr (which is ultimately a bit annoying, which is why they usually use 30 seconds of it), "Exhuming McCarthy" by REM, "Rock the Nation" by Spearhead (both mentioned above), and "One by One" by Chumbawumba (a nice pro labor song but a bit obscure I decided. Anyway enjoy the list; be back later with some commentating.

Candidate Selection

I did want to take a moment to comment that I've been writing a lot about Senator Kerry lately. One might conclude that I have made up my mind for the election; but that would be incorrect. Due to the format of this site (mostly responding to articles in the right wing press), I have to write about what the Conservatives are writing about. A couple of weeks ago that was Dean; this week and presumably for the rest of the year it will be Kerry.

I like Kerry, but I like all the Democratic Candidates pretty well. Moreover I am pretty solidly in the "Anyone but Bush" camp.

Anyway just wanted to clear that up.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Great article by Robert Poe over at Salon. It is about the significance of many Vietnam veterans willingness to support the Kerry Campaign, and what that means to President Bush's campaign strategy. Well worth reading in its entirety, but this section near the end seemed particularly relevant.

"Vietnam veterans have the authority to argue that by trying to sell Americans such a simplified, divisive worldview, the administration is doing the nation a huge disservice. It is not helping us get over the Vietnam era, as it claims to be, but rather dragging us back into the Nixonian heart of it, by reviving the polarized thinking that tore America apart during that war. Back then, one was either pro-war or antiwar, pro-communist or anti-communist, courageous or cowardly, moral or immoral, pro-America or anti-America. It was all black and white, you were either one or the other, and the pairs of opposites were all rigidly connected.

Perhaps only those whose lives floated serenely above the turmoil of Vietnam -- such as the Bush conservatives -- can utterly fail to understand, or care, how damaging and fundamentally incorrect such a simplified, divisive worldview is. That is, perhaps only such people can utterly fail to grasp the lessons of Vietnam.

Vietnam veterans understand those lessons best. They suffered the most damage -- to their bodies in Vietnam, and to their souls after they returned -- without ever painting themselves as victims. And they witnessed, more intimately than any others, the fundamental defects of the politics of oversimplification.

More credibly than anyone else, veterans can testify that fighting in a war doesn't automatically mean supporting it, that supporting it doesn't automatically equal heroism, that opposing it doesn't automatically equal cowardice, and that fighting a global enemy doesn't automatically require taking every global opportunity to go to war.

More authoritatively than anyone else, they can argue that an oversimplified view of war and foreign policy wasn't right during Vietnam, when the global enemy was easy to identify, and had the weapons to annihilate all Americans hundreds of times over, and it's not right now, when the enemy is far harder to pin down, and the mix of political and cultural conflicts is even more complex than during the Cold War.

Novak after Dark, Episode 34, Ghosts of the Fred

It was five o'clock on a Friday afternoon. I had just killed a bottle of scotch and was trying to add punctuation to my report on the Plame Case. Reports always go better with punctuation.

There was a knock at the door, and my favorite client popped in, Mr. Rove. Rove wasn't much to look at, but he had a fat wallet and an inside line on many of my cases. He sat down, and said, "Look Novak, we've got someone we need you to do some background work on." He slid a picture across the desk.

It was Hanoi Jane at a rally, and there, three rows back, circled, was the Kerry. "This guy giving you trouble, chief?"

Rove spat. "You could say that. Just get to work on him."

I did some research and found "A 34-year-old flier [that] lists speakers for an anti-Vietnam War rally at Valley Forge State Park, Pa., Sept. 7, 1970. Included were two of that era's most notorious leftist agitators, the Rev. James Bevel and Mark Lane, plus actress Jane Fonda, a symbol of extreme opposition to the war. Leading off the list was a less familiar name: John Kerry."

"A-ha" I thought to myself, "this proves that John Kerry knew and approved of Hanoi Janes trip to Vietnam in 1972. No, wait a second, that only works if Kerry has precognition." I took a drag on my cigarette. "But it does prove that Kerry opposed the Vietnam war." I pounded my fist into the desk and said "I've got him. I'll bet nobody knows that Kerry protested against the Vietnam war."

Excited with this fruitful line of investigation I quickly started combing through the records of an organization entitled Vietnam Veterans against war that Senator Kerry had some connection to. I found some minutes to a meeting Kerry attended where they ominously planned to coordinate their schedules with Jane Fonda. Perhaps this proved that he had traveled to Vietnam with her, if their schedules were "coordinated?" No, unfortunately. By 1972 he was running for office and had little to do with Ms. Fonda.

I found minutes to another meeting where they decided not to hang an American flag in their offices, but it's unclear whether Kerry attended that meeting. Still by placing the two together in my report I can imply that the Kerry approved of not hanging the flag.

Then I got a call from Rove. "Look Novak, you gotta make Kerry look worse than my . . . interests." I slammed the phone down, but I wasn't angry. It's just that slamming the phone down makes for good television. I reviewed Rove's man's record, and it turned out there was some flap about him being a national guardsman while Kerry was off in Vietnam and then protesting. It looked to me like the matter was cleared up, but some of my less responsible colleague's were still sniffing around.

The fools didn't know who was calling the shots; always better to work for the big dogs, even if they leave you out to dry on occasion.

Taken from Robert Novaks column today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Dean's withdrawal

Prince Geoffrey: You fool. As if it matters how a man falls.
Prince Richard: When the fall is all that's left, it matters.

- From The Lion in Winter (1968)

Saw Dean's withdrawal speech at good old Hardees. Thought it was pretty good. I have to salute his campaign for invigorating the Democratic Party. Even if he didn't win, the liberal wing is awake and they are not going to put up with crap for much longer. I hope Senator Kerry (assuming he wins the nomination) realizes that.

Also heard Rush Limbaugh coming to terms with his feelings. Apparently up until recently, Rush has felt that feelings were for others (and one assumes, pansy girly men). But now he has to come to terms with feelings of being deceived. You see he's been pretending like the Democratic race matters; when in fact it doesn't. So he's angry because he's been wasting his time and energy pretending like Democrats matter. Poor guy. I guess when Operation Crush Liberals is approved by Attorney General John Ashcroft he'll be able to sleep better.

Danger! Low Posting!

I'm sorry but it turns out we've got a Vortigon Wormcruncher in the Bi-Poler Plot Discontinuity device, and I'm having to spend the morning working on it. So if you see something that doesn't really fit your definition of reality (say, a guy walking down the street in a full suit of armor (and don't say it can't happen, cause it happened to me (I still am annoyed with myself for not saying anything to him, although I suppose wearing a suit of armor is a pretty good sign that you don't want to be bothered (come to think of it, how do I know it was a him? He had the mask down. Maybe it was a her? This requires more thought (Actually it probably doesn't, what's really worrying me is making sure I put in all the close parantheses (particularly since, now that I brought it up, you'll probably count them.)))))), don't worry, trained webloggists are working on it.

Ben Shapiro, Boy Prognosticator

Yep Ben is back with another breaking column. And Ben has decided to try a new stylistic technique, making references to pop culture in a political article. In this case, he's decided to compare John Kerry to the long running Budwieser Frogs. How timely! Can't be too hard on young Ben though, since he lifted the line from Gov. William Weld, who ran against Kerry in 1996.

Touching to that he called the "French looking" John Kerry a "frog." He also reports the slur that John Kerry has taken more money from special interests than any other candidate. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Kerry ranks 92 out of 100 senators for taking special interest money. However, both Kerry and his opponents are quoting the same body so I need to examine this issue in greater detail, and will later on. I hope.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A Musical Question from Rush Limbaugh

Took on one Limbaugh this morning, and now another this afternoon. Listening to Rush as I drove around and he asked these three questions about a possible Vice President slot for Senator Hillary Clinton. Paraphrasing the questions are as follows.

1. Do you think that if Hillary is the Vice Presidential Candidate she'll let Kerry be President?

2. Do you think that if Hillary is the Vice President and Kerry the President they'll win?

3. Do you think that if Kerry and Hillary win the White House that Kerry will complete his term?

Well for those curious the answers are as follows.

1. Probably she won't have much choice since he is the front runner and she is a junor senator. But I doubt that this scenario will play out.

2. I don't know, but I'd like to think so.

3. Are you frickin' nuts? You mean to suggest that Hillary Clinton would have Kerry either rubbed out, mafioso style, or provoke a scandal that drives him from office, don't you? Well, I think that Hillary Clinton, while prey to the same moral problems that plague all politicians, is far from being that demonic.

Another helpful service

The latest David Limbaugh column, "Several Questions for you, Senator," is out. To save time here's a condensed version of it.

I'm continuing to pretend that the Democratic Candidates, particularly Senator Kerry, have only criticisms for President Bush and no ideas of their own. I can't be bothered to look at Senator Kerry's speeches or his website to see what he's proposed, and frankly it plays better if I describe Senator Kerry as being strictly negative. But now i've got some question for Mr. Kerry.

Given that President Bush has trashed the economy how do you plan to play for some generic health care plan I got in my head after listining to you and the other Democratic Candidates?

We're all aware of the efforts President Bush has made to get along with Democrats, even going so far as to appear in photo ops with Democratic Congresspeople. And yet you people don't seem to completely support our wise and wonderful president; what makes you think you'll get on any better with other nations?

Conservative economists have worked hard to make the Bush Tax Cuts look like they aren't a windfall to the rich ; why then don't you just accept our analysis and ignore the evidence of your own eyes?

How are you going to balance the budget when we know for a fact that raising Taxes will slow the jobless recovery that's bringing happiness and chartered jets to Wall Street and little to nothing to the rest of America?

Probably there were some other questions too--something about Education and about how Kerry's a flip-flopping hypocrite. My guess is that Senator Kerry go up to David Limbaugh, slam him against a wall, yell the answers to his questions into his face, and tomorrow Limbaugh would be complaining about how Kerry has no positive program but just attacks on President Bush.

I mean, why say anything else?

Monday, February 16, 2004

More on the New Red Scare

Actually read this last week, but didn't end up linking to it (to the best of my memory. Now it seems more relevent.

Michelle Goldberg there at Salon wrote a pair of articles on the harassment of protesters that seems to be on the rise. One bit in the second part struck me then, and came back to me today.

""In the 1950s and '60s, police departments all over the country had 'red squads,'" says Chris Pyle, a politics professor at Mount Holyoke College and one of the country's foremost experts on domestic surveillance. "Although their work was never as well documented as that of the FBI and the military, it was far more extensive. There was considerable swapping, and it tended to go from the locals to the nationals."

Pyle saw it firsthand at the national level. A former captain of Army intelligence, Pyle exposed the military's domestic spying operations and went on to work for Sen. Frank Church during the congressional investigation of COINTELPRO. Today's domestic spying, he says, isn't nearly as extensive as it was at the height of the movement against the Vietnam War, largely because there aren't as many protests. Yet the surveillance we're seeing now, he says, is likely to increase if the antiwar and anti-Bush movements grow, and it may imperil civil liberties more than J. Edgar Hoover ever could.

"What we're seeing is something much larger in scale and danger than anything that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s," he says. "That's because of computers. Now, instead of having these agencies working in semi-isolation or occasional cooperation, there's the equivalent of the great Alaska pipeline running between them, and the information flows in both directions. In addition, in the 1950s or '60s, it took weeks of pavement pounding and doorknobbing for the FBI or police or military to collect personal information about people, the kind of information you need to put them under surveillance. Today that kind of information can be obtained by a few computer keystrokes. The harassment potential is much greater."

Meanwhile, information that's put into the system tends to spread. "Today, you have at least a dozen American agencies contributing information to each other's computer, and scores of foreign intelligence agencies contributing information," says Pyle.

Something to keep in mind. A lot of you might be saying, well that's not very likely. I'll agree, that I don't believe that we are looking at a full on red scare (directed at liberals) in the short term. But saying it can't happen here is not very reasonable because it has happened here. And some in our society are laying the ground work for their version of the red scare.

History in the Repeating Part Two

Finally found an example of the old Spider Web Chart. See if this doesn't look familiar (I got it from here).

Someone needs to e-mail Horowitz the following letter.

"Mr. Horowitz

I've recently become aware of your plan to track known liberals. I would like to know if such data will be available for employment purposes. I run a local hardware store and I would much rather hire good upstanding law-abiding people for my job. Liberals, in my experience, are trouble. Are there any plans to make your data base available for employee verification purposes?

Still, maybe he'd see through it.

History in the Repeating

"Ben Johnson's lead feature on today's was made possible as the result of a new project we have been working on for almost a year and which will be ready for launch later this spring. The project is a massive database on the left to be called The research that went into Ben's article was the work of many hands engaged in putting together this database, but in the immediate case Mike Bauer's more than others. - David Horowitz from Front Page Magazine.

Got this from a guy at Democratic Underground who got it from Rocky Mountain Progressive Network.

It's a website entitled "Follow the Network." Apparently it's not done yet, but the idea is pretty straightforward. It's to keep track of Communists, er, liberals. And the connections between the groups. I love the graphic on the first page relating back, as it does, to the red scare of the 1920s (the one we don't remember as much). In those days they had complicated Spider webs showing the connections of individuals to organizations to show the creeping red menace.

It's also helpful to remember that, in both Red Scares, the private sector did more than it's share of the "witch hunting." There were organizations set up to both clear people and provide lists of known communists and communist organizations. So if this data base gets set up in earnest, well, your local employer can, anonymously, punch a name into a computer and find out if an individual has been a member of a liberal group. Of course such a network wouldn't be used for wrong purposes; but do you really want that Green Party member working in a bank?

Of course, they might just focus on intimidating big name liberals. I'm not sure that's much better. I mean if they can get the big name liberals to back down, well, what hope do grass roots liberals have? None, which is presumably the point.

I'll have more to say on this subject in a bit, I'd imagine.

Over Simplification

There's a new article from Ms. Suzanne Fields entitled, "It's the Context, Stupid." For the most part it's an article about how the Democrats running against President Bush don't understand that we are at war and are therefore traitorous monsters.

She does take a much more intellectual approach than others who have made the argument, but it falls to the same problem; she equates the entire anti war position as "the war in Iraq was bad because liberals don't like President Bush."

I'm not going to deny that President Bush is a polarizing figure on the left; but there's a bit more to the position of those who opposed the Iraq War and those who, today, think the president made the wrong call. It's hard to know what Kerry (or Gore) would have done differently as President, but it seems sure that he would not have pushed to invade Iraq on the same timetable as President Bush. It strikes me as probable that he would have continued the containment strategy, that at this moment seems to have been successful.

The oversimplification is the excluded middle. Suzanne Fields suggests that the two proposals are to either fight the war on terror in exactly the same way as President Bush or to do nothing. Unfortunately for Ms. Fields and President Bush, I suspect that most Americans are able to see that there are ways to fight terrorism without turning our allies against us (to take one example).

Sunday, February 15, 2004

New Quote

New quote (in honor of our new comments feature) and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

New Post

Had a place holder post here for a little while while I was trying to get my comments to work. Anyway also putting a nice picture on the comments page to label it.

It's actually from an anti war performance of Lysistrata back in the spring of last year (2003). Obviously made it a bit more painterly.

Trying to add comments

After hogging all the attention up till now, trying to add a comments section. We'll see how that goes.

For my vast audience of economists

Apparently the Bush Administration is doing something bad with economics.

"No one should be surprised when economic or budget forecasts coming out of Washington are influenced by politics, especially during an election year. But when economic history is rewritten -- with political consequences -- that's going too far. President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, chaired by Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw, is trying to get away with exactly such revisionist history. The CEA's Economic Report of the President, released Feb. 9, unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush's reelection bid. Instead of using the accepted start date of March, 2001, the CEA announced that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000 -- a shift that would make it much more credible for the Bush Administration to term it the "Clinton Recession." In a subsequent press conference, Mankiw said that the CEA had looked at the available data and "made the call."

This simple statement masks an attack on one of the few remaining bastions of economic neutrality. For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER], a private nonpartisan research group based in Cambridge, Mass.

You know what, even if I buy the idea that the recession is all Clinton's fault (which I don't), isn't it still Bush's responsibility to clean it up? I mean the reason we had a recession in 2001 might be Clinton's fault, but the reason we still have a recession in 2004, well, I'm comfortable saying that that's President Bush's fault (in so far as any president is responsible for the economy, which i don't believe is very much, actually).

Friday, February 13, 2004

I'm Think I Has the Answer

To my problems getting empty wallet economics up and looking the way it should. So enjoy.

Poor Mr. Lowry

Rich Lowry has a certain malady which I might catorigize as inability to understand that the part is not the whole. Now, I'm not a psychiatrist, but I feel confident that I can diagnose the medical conditions of people I have never met.

Inability to understand that the part is not the whole syndrome (or I.T.U.T.T.P.I.N.T.W. Syndrome) is rampant among conservative circles. It sees its fullest expression in the idea that one cannot protest the Iraq War and the decisions of the Bush administration in leading us into the Iraq war without attacking American Soldiers. In other words, President Bush is the Commander and Chief and Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense, part of the American Military Apparatus. Therefore to attack them is to attack the American military, and in turn attack each individual soldier.

Now a child could explain to Mr. Lowry and other proponents of this sort of argument what is wrong with it. The part is not the same as the whole; particularly in this case. Nobody sensible thinks that each individual infantryman made the decision to go to war. Such decisions were made at the top; and by very few.

By the same token Rich Lowry takes exception with Senator Kerry playing up his past as a Soldier in Vietnam because of his post service anti-war activities.

"Asked about the testimony the other day by Knight Ridder, Kerry said he relied on the Winter Soldier Investigation "because some of it was highly documented and very disturbing. I did in my heart what I thought was correct to help people understand what was going on. I've always honored the service of people over there. I never insinuated that everybody fell into one pot. I was looking forward to telling the truth about some of the things that were happening."

This is a statement shot through with mendacity. Let's take it sentence by sentence: 1) The Winter Soldier testimony was not "highly documented," but -- as Mack Owens of the Naval War College has reported -- totally unsubstantiated. The fantastic stories of atrocities should have been unbelievable to any Vietnam vet.

Taking it sentence by sentence is a good idea Mr. Lowry. Need I point out that the military exonerated itself for the atrocities on numerous occasions. Yet there are still records of them having occurred. I'm not sure if the Winter Soldier was true or false, but the fact that the Navy claimed it unsubstantiated isn't exactly a nail in the coffin. I'm also curious as to why you chose to pick up Senator Kerry's quote mid-sentence.

2) Kerry didn't "help people understand what was going on," but rather helped publicize lies.

That's only if you believe that such atrocities did not take place. But they did. Frankly even using your last sentence the best you can say is unsubstantiated. That's not the same as a lie.

3) Kerry didn't "honor" the service of vets, but said, "We are ashamed of ... what we are called on to do in Southeast Asia," and maintained that in the vets, America "has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence."

Again a quote that has been cut to ribbons, but this points back to Lowry's I.T.U.T.T.P.I.N.T.W. Syndrome. Some soldiers committed atrocities; many did not. And at any rate, I doubt Kerry ever argued that the Soldiers in Vietnam went there to commit atrocities. Instead they went there to serve their country, but due to the failures of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon presidential, they were thrust into a hell. It's not surprising that some of them became monsters.

4) Kerry did insinuate that the atrocities were widespread, noting that they were "not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." These crimes tainted the nation -- "the crimes threaten [the country], not Reds," as "America lose[s] her sense of morality."

Kerry may have over stated his case back when he gave his testimony. But the rest of your statement only makes sense if, once again, you assume that the atrocities did not happen.

5) If Kerry wanted to tell the truth, he shouldn't have traded in falsehoods.

Again, only relevant if you believe there were no atrocities.

Unfortunately for Conservatives, outbreaks of I.T.U.T.T.P.I.N.T.W. Syndrome have remained relatively rare in the general public. Hence, many might see through the argument that because Kerry related reports of atrocities, he smeared every single soldier. Particularly with so many of these smeared soldiers are willing to join him at events.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

For more on Kerry

Check out Counterspin--some good comments on it today. Particularly on how this really is most likely Karl Rove rather than Clark.

Empty Wallet Economics Update

I've finally decided to update the page that contains my economic theory, Empty Wallet Economics. Previously it was a jpeg or some stupid thing because of my limited computer skill and then my laziness. But now it's a normal old web page, with a new addendum. Enjoy.emptywallet explained.gif


Well, if you don't know it now, you will know it soon. Kerry is being accused of Marital Infidelity (fancy words for foolin' around on his wife) by the Drudge Report.

We'll see how this plays out; so far Kerry hasn't responded (as far as I know).

In a related story the Enquirer has a front page story on Kerry's loose morals, drug use, and plastic surgery (the unholy trifecta). Rush Limbaugh was complaining about this during lunch, presumably because the Enquirer had a similar story about him that they all picked up on. Maybe it's because the story about Rush had more proof and the stories about Kerry are less provable.

Common Sense Person

Gary Aldrich writing today asks the following musical questions.

"If a decorated firefighter becomes an arsonist, is he still considered a hero?

If a dedicated FBI agent leaves his agency, then attacks it – and becomes a professional witness for the defense - is he still a “hero?”

The answers are obvious to any common sense person.

But, if a Vietnam-era soldier comes home, blasts his country, gives aid and comfort to our enemies, and tosses his war medals over the White House fence – in this unique circumstance – then he’s apparently still a hero in the minds of many, including the mainstream media.

Hmmmmm. So let me see if I follow the logic here. Kerry served with distinction in Vietnam and then after leaving the service protested against it. This is equivelant to an FBI agent leaving his agency and becoming a witness for the defense.

Well, I'd buy that. I mean let's consider why the FBI agent might have left the agency. If he goes to work for the defense, is it possible that he's found holes in FBI cases that the agency refused to address? Yes it's possible; it may even be likely. So this poor FBI Agent decided he had to leave a system he believed had become unjust and work for people he knew to be wrongfully accused (perhaps in Mr. Aldrich's America, nobody is falsely accused).

By the same token, Senator Kerry apparently returned from Vietnam and believed that the war was unjust. So he began protesting against it. One might consider that his patriotic duty.

The problem for Mr. Aldrich is that they haven't successfully rewritten history quite yet. I mean they would like us to remember Vietnam as a just war unjustly protested by drugged out hippies and communists. But they aren't there just yet. The pictures are still in our national memory.

Calling All Voters

Want to know how Conservatives really see you? Check out Emmett Tyrrell's latest article, "The Moron Vote." This is because only an "the angry, stupid, political neurotic who has proceeded into middle age convinced that the world is against him-her" would support Howard Dean.

So his latest article is on how Senator John F. Kerry is going to win the Moron Vote over to his side. Apparently it's through gross distortion. Oh wait a second, that's Tyrrell's method for turning people against John F. Kerry.

This ties back to the whole National Guard issue you may have been following. Tyrrell paint's a picture of Kerry as having been the leader on this issue and as using it against President Bush. "Now Sen. John Pierre Kerry is the frontrunner, and he has developed a fine ploy for corralling the moron vote. He and McAuliffe have stirred up this controversy about how frequently the president attended National Guard meetings three decades ago. And they have transformed their entire party into the most heroic congeries of patriots and GI Joes ever seen on earth. The morons are entranced."

Yep. American voters; any of you who are interested in seeing George W. Bush's missing national guard time cleared up, this whole scandal has been cooked up to trick you, the Moron Voter. I so wish more people knew about Tyrells opinions. Wouldn't it be nice if, just as they asked Clark to defend Michael Moore, someone asked President Bush, "Do you agree with Emmit Tyrrells assessment that people who are supporting Democratic candidates are morons?"

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Kerry's War Protesting Record

It's clear that the Right will make this an issue. Apparently Kerry, after having fulfilled his duty to the United States Military, thought the Vietnam War was an unjust and criminal war. So naturally that makes him a traitor. In particular there is a picture of Kerry at a protest with Jane Fonda in 1970. Joe Conason breaks it down in today's post.

"On Monday, Rush Limbaugh published a photograph of Fonda at what appears to be an antiwar rally, under the headline "John Kerry With Hanoi Jane in September, 1970." And indeed, a blurry face about two rows behind her does resemble the young Kerry.

But Limbaugh, like so many who attack Kerry for working with Fonda against the war, distorts reality. Fonda didn't travel to Hanoi until August 1972. Obviously that was two years after the September 1970 rally and, more important, a year after she joined demonstrations led by Kerry and his fellow vets in Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

So I guess the accusation is that Kerry's failure to predict that Jane Fonda would visit Vietnam and steer clear of her should make him ineligible for the Presidency.

Rush does (as Conason points out) sound a little nuts discussing this. "You want to go out there and you want to attack George W. Bush, the commander-in-chief, in charge of the war on terror, fine.

We've got pictures of Jane Fonda in Hanoi. We've got pictures of Kerry throwing those medals of other people over the fence. We got Tom Hayden. We got the Chicago Eight. We've got all those people spitting on the soldiers when they came back. We've got all the Democrats calling them "baby killers." We've got it all, if you want to bring it back up.

I really really really doubt that Rush has pictures of all "those people" spitting on soldiers or all the Democrats calling them "baby killers." Really, all the Democrats? That doesn't make any sense.

Can Kerry Win?

Well Geov Parrish writes today on why Kerry might win after all. Two weeks ago he wrote on why he thought Kerry was a sure loser, but today he's not as sure.

"My mistake was in assessing the ability of George W. Bush to run, successfully, against John Kerry. That hasn't changed. But what I left out of the equation is that Bush must also run against himself. That is the race that will define November. And, as we've seen in these last few days, when Bush confronts himself, it's his prospects for a second term that lose.

Bush's unprecedented appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday was a revelation to the political junkies who watch Sunday morning TV. We now understand why this president has avoided news conferences that aren't pre-scripted, or any other environments where hard questions might be asked. Put simply, he can't answer them.

I strongly disagree with Parrish's assessment of Kerry; I think the man has a lot of strengths to go along with a few weaknesses. But I agree that this election will hinge on what President Bush does or fails to do more than on what Kerry (or whoever our final nominee is) does.

For another look at President Bush's performance on Meet the Press, check out Archy's review of Peggy Noonan's review.

And Now I'm not Sure What to Say

Reading Bill Murchinson's article today on The Disunited States of America. Nice article. Says directly what many of his colleagues are dancing around. Running against President Bush for President gives comfort to the enemies of the United States.

"Maybe, provided you believe polls produced nine months before the election, the president is about to retire in disgrace: a political Bernie Ebbers. Whatever the case, we should brace for the possibility of a campaign in which the leader of the war on terrorism is daily called, by many of his own constituents, a fraud and a betrayer.

If you were an Iraqi Baathist or a Shiite ayatollah, an American infantry corporal or a potential Islamic suicide bomber, a French foreign secretary or a United Nations diplomatist, how would you receive the news that Americans are fed up, potentially, with the president who started this war? Would this encourage or discourage you concerning prospects for the drip-drip of American hands being washed, Pontius Pilate-style, of a deadly and burdensome commitment?

Well there it is. Although Murchinson turns to attacking Kerry specifically, doesn't this line of reasoning apply to any Democratic candidate? Presumably any candidate who loved their country would chose to set this out, and the fact that we've had 10 candidates running for the Democratic ticket shows the depravity of the Democratic Party.

That is, of course, if you believe that President Bush has done a good job on the war on terror. If you believe he's done such a good job, that to criticize him is a willful act of blindness stemming from a disdain for America. I don't. I think President Bush has done good in some areas (small ones), but for the most part he has not handled the post September 11th world very well at all. His invasion of Iraq in particular appears to have been a blunder in a number of ways (the rationales for the war have crumbled like crumb cake, they insufficiently planned for victory, and so on).

I mean if you thought President Bush was doing a bad job, well, wouldn't it be your patriotic duty to in a democratic fashion remove him from power?

In other news, those of you who read yesterdays article on David Brooks might be interested in James Pinkerton's take on the article from Salon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

What I meant to Say Was

I haven't tracked the ongoing story of how poorly the President did on "Meet the Press" because so many others have. But David Brooks' latest deserves a bit of comment. In it Mr. Brooks admits what a poor performance the President gave by marking down how he would have done it.

He gets to September 11th in 20 words. "Tim, I know I'm repeating myself, but I am a war president. Do you remember how you felt on Sept. 12, 2001?"

Oh, wait a second, I meant September 12th. I felt pretty bad on September 11th myself, but maybe it took a little longer for it to sink in for Mr. Brooks.

But anyway that gives you the argument; if we don't vote for President Bush, if we don't support his policies in the war on Terror than we are not remembering September 11th. "I look around and observe that many of my fellow Americans don't seem to be living on Sept. 12, the way I am. And if they don't feel in their bones the presence of war, I don't know what argument I can use to persuade them.

I look on the Democratic side and see that primary voters last Tuesday ranked terrorism last on their issues of concern. I see John Kerry accusing me of stoking a "culture of fear." On the Republican side, I notice conservatives are panicked and peevish toward me over spending and immigration.

Of course this argument doesn't work so well if you believe that the Democratic Presidential Candidates will fight the War on Terror with the same passion and a bit more common sense.

The New Pollution

Well now that Kerry is the front runner there's a ready made mantra against him, one that both the left (meaning those who support other Democratic Presidential candidates) and the right can use. But of course the right will use it more aggressively.

The mantra is this; Kerry supported the war on Iraq and based his conclusion on the same information the President got, so it's hypocritical of him to not support the war now. Here's a few examples.

"So let's be honest, if President Bush lied about the threat, so did Democrats in Congress, including Kerry and Edwards. If he exaggerated the threat, those Democrats were conspirators in the act. If he made a mistake in attacking Iraq based on available intelligence, so did Kerry and Edwards."
-David Limbaugh, "Kerry, Edwards and company: Have they forgotten?"

"The leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, presents an inviting target of inconsistency, hypocrisy and opportunism when his statements about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction are examined."
-Cal Thomas, "Time to take the offensive"

So let's take a moment and consider. Kerry has explained his vote with the argument that he underestimated President Bush's desire to invade Iraq. He believed that a show of force was necessary; but that President Bush went further than he expected. I buy this. Back when Saddam was forced to let inspectors back in; I had hopes that war could be averted. But then it turned out that President Bush had no intention of playing fair with Iraq or the United Nations. So on that level Kerry's statement makes sense.

The other argument is that President Bush and Senator Kerry looked at the same information and came up with the same answer. Well, that's nonsense. If there was institutional pressure to come back with a specific answer in Iraq, that pressure took place in the executive wing of the Government. By the time the information got to Kerry, the damage had been done. I suspect that most of us, looking at what Kerry was shown, would have signed off to a certain extent on the idea that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. But that doesn't answer the question of whether or not the information was not painting a complete picture in the first place.

Monday, February 09, 2004

A whole flock of new links

Well I've joined the Liberal Coalition (although you wouldn't know it from my posts today, which have been less liberal than normal). They haven't sent me my secret decoder ring or the keys to the liberalmobile, but as soon as they do I will spring into action, stricking fear into the hearts of conservatives (with the astounding power of snarky posts).

In other news, I continue to have a rich fantasy life.

At any rate, that explains the new list of links, right below my other list of blog links; Pen-Elayne on the Web gets to be on both lists because, frankly, she's just that good. Anyway check out the other websites--many of them seem quite good, although I haven't reviewed them all in detail.

Bush / Hitler Comparisons

Byron Williams, who I've quoted a couple of times recently, is apparently in hot water because of his opinion that comparing President Bush to Hitler is not accurate. So his article today explains his position.

"My reluctance to make the Hitler analogy was due in part to my own experience at the childrenÂ’s portion of the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem. Although the experience dates back 14 years, the memory still reverberates in my soul. The childrenÂ’s portion is, very simply, a 100-yard corridor surrounded by darkness with the exception of a few lights and mirrors that give one the impression of being beneath the stars. There are no photos, artifacts, or words, just a voice that echoes the names of children who died under the Nazi regime. Upon completion, one is left only with the futile attempt to understand what would prompt such evil.

Everything that Hitler did in 1933 was geared to the end product in 1945. We must never forget that among HitlerÂ’s sadistic objectives was the elimination an entire group of people from the face of the earth. By 1945, he had reached 66 percent of goal.

I am not an apologist for the antics of the Bush Administration, but as a theologian as well as a writer I cannot allow loose, insensitive historical analogies to go by without a response. If the comparison is based on the consolidation of power and the rollback of civil liberties, then history has provided myriad individuals who fall into that category, including Franklin Roosevelt and the treatment of Japanese Americans post-Pearl Harbor. There are many applicable analogies between this president and those who sought to rollback freedom more appropriate than the mass murderer of millions upon millions of innocent people.

I have to say that I find myself in complete agreement with Mr. Williams. Also I think it's fair to ask who benefits from an extended discussion in the Democratic party of whether or not President Bush is a lot like Hitler? This is an election year; perhaps one of the more important election years of our lifetimes. diluteute our message with this discussion is, in my mind, not the wisest course of action.

Advisors to the President

Well, Bob Herbert, in his latest article, has a suggestion for the President. "If I were advising the president, I'd suggest he form his own truth squad to vet his policies and public statements and advise him on ways to maintain a high level of credibility..

Good advice, but probably unnecessary. President Bush is going to govern according to a hardline conservativism; he's made that clear. People who agree with his philosophy don't see most of what Herbert points to (Iraq, the Deficit, etc.) as problems, but as evidences of President Bush's strength. The only places where President Bush is going to have a difficulty with his base is in programs like "Leave No Child Behind" or the recent Prescription Drug plan. When it comes to growing the government, they will care that a program initially estimated at $400 Billion (the Prescription Drug Plan) will now cost $583.

And it is doubtful that such a committee would really win over Mr. Herbert who closes his article with this comment. "It's time to put an end to the fantasies and the deceit, which have landed us in a quagmire overseas and the equivalent of fiscal quicksand at home.

It's not too much to ask that the president of the United States speak the clear truth about his policies and their implications. Mr. Bush would do himself and his country a favor by establishing a closer relationship with reality and a more intense commitment to the truth.

Those Americans who have put their trust in the president deserve nothing less.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

New Quotes

This week's quote comes from my favorite album of last year (one of them anyway), Neil Young's Greendale. Thoroughly brilliant and well worth checking out.

Also updated the Quotes Page.

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Good, if brief, editorial there at the New York Times today, on the continuing economic problems. Although some would like us to believe that the economy is in recovery, the truth is that the employment numbers don't lend themselves to that conclusion. The editorial runs throught this and talks about how each party's desire to mold the economic news into their narrative works.

"Because the White House's view of the economy is driven by a political narrative, little effort is made to grapple with some of the thorny questions posed by the slow job growth. Has technology-driven productivity growth and outsourcing placed a new speed limit on the rate of job creation? Can the government raise this speed limit?

The Democrats are enamored of their own narrative of corporate robber barons' conspiring with low-paid overseas workers to destroy the American middle class. So the Democratic candidates also fail to engage the complex reality and are too quick to resort to protectionist demagoguery.

Well, yes, but i do think the author of this one underestimates the corporate bias against the American Worker.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Rich Lowry - Not Entirely Trustworthy

He writes an article today that proports to be an interview the John Kerry. However, it is probably a satire on the fact that Kerry served in Vietnam. An honest satirist makes sure that his readers know that it is satire. But in this case Lowry doesn't bother to do that.

His point is, of course, that Kerry shouldn't bring up Vietnam. Stories about Kerry's Vietnam Experiences should remind us how vain and shallow he is (and not presumably how George W. Bush sat that one out).

David Limbaugh's Electoral Advice

In a nutshell, drop Kerry and run Edwards.

Limbaugh says that "all the polls" show that support for Kerry is solely based on our love for a winner, and definately not due to anything he's bringing to the table. So we will have buyer's remorse down the road. But of course, he's happy about that (in fact he names hs article "I'm Glad They're Nominating Kerry.")

He thinks we should run Edwards because although Edwards isn't that tall (nice of you to take the high road, mr. Limbaugh), he has the "appeal to the stupid masses" shtick down to a science. "Nevertheless, Edwards' smarmy pseudo-populism scares the heck out of me. Beginning in the courtroom, he has refined to an art the knack for victimizing and polarizing, pitting injured plaintiffs against evil defendants, and wage earners against entrepreneurs. Just like he convinces juries he cares more about the plaintiff's injury than his share of the verdict, exit polls reveal he has fooled primary voters into believing he cares more about "working folks" than his own lustful desire to be president.

If he truly cared, he wouldn't try to poison people's souls with envy and he wouldn't ignore the evidence so cogently presented by the brilliant Thomas Sowell that there are not nearly as many poor people in America as some would have us believe.

Yep times are great in America for everybody who matters. Following Limbaugh's style, this is a message President Bush and his legions push all year long. Everything is fine, and the only people suffering are lazy slobs who deserve it. Still, I suspect that Karl Rove has a bit better grip on reality than Limbaugh so my wishes may not be realized.

I also like the phrase "his own lustful desire to be President." Yep, that horny Edwards, always wanting to be President. Not like George W. Bush who had the Presidency forced upon him.

Your Weekly Rush

Well Rush was talking about the George Tenet Testimony yesterday, and he got one of his few liberal callers. Rush is careful to screen out any intelligent liberals with good arguments, so the liberals who do show up on his show are usually nitwits. This person made the point that George Tenet has had 5 years since being appointed by Clinton to rebuild the CIA. Rush explained Liberals' true feelings about the CIA.

"The correct answer is he shouldn't be rebuilding the CIA. We hate CIA. The CIA is the focus of evil and the CIA is why we're in trouble, we've got to get rid of the CIA and the reason we've got to get rid of the CIA is because of this Iraq debacle. This is what a true good liberal would really say if he were telling the truth. You don't call here and start defending the CIA. You don't call here and defend Clinton and the CIA. You don't do that. You're denying us who you really are. And I'm just not going to let it happen. You people got psychological problems, I'm going to try to help you."

Luckly for us all, Rush is an even bigger nitwit than his caller. Let's break this down.

1. Liberals hate the CIA and want it destroyed.

Truth: Many liberals do feel ambivelant towards the CIA, but few serious liberals want to see it destroyed.

2. If a Liberal defends the CIA he is denying who he is.

Truth: Only if you accept the first premise.

3. Liberals have psychological problems.

Truth: Huh? Don't I remember the old Soviet Union using supposed mental disorder as a means to get rid of people they didn't like? I would think Rush would not want to emulate the Soviet Union, but perhaps I've misjudged him.

Anyway I personally like the CIA although I do want to see it reformed in some areas.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Mr. Kerry

Although the Primary Season is far from over, currently Senator Kerry is out in front. So naturally he's drawing fire from Republicans (in much the same way that Former Governer Dean was drawing them three weeks ago).

Joe Conason examines Kerry and some of the charges against him in an article at Working for Change. He states, "If he wins the Democratic nomination, Mr. Kerry will pose certain challenges that aren’t so easily solved: He’s a decorated war veteran, a hunter and a politician who doesn’t hesitate to fight back when attacked. Those qualities distinguish him from the soft targets that Republicans enjoy hitting most."

I hope he's right. It would be nice to have a Democratic Candidate take the fight to the Republicans; but we'll have to see what happens down the road.

Great News for the Economy

Well, it looks like the Wall Street High Life is roaring back. I deduced that from the front page of yesterdays Wall Street Journal, where I spied (with my little eye) a headline saying "With the Market Up, Wll Street High Life Comes Roaring Back."

Apparently a year ago poor Bret Grebow, 28 Hedge Fund Manager, had to take cheap flights on JetBlue airlines. Luckily now that the markets back up he's able to charter flights to whereever he wants to go. Isn't that great?

Yep, we should all be happy that although the economy still sucks on the bottom, people on the top are doing wonderful.