Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I don't really know what to do with this

In Fallujah, Iraq, today, five soldiers and four civilians were killed. The Soldiers were killed when their vehicle ran over a bomb some 12 miles to the northwest of Fallujah. And the four civilians were killed in an attack on their SUV's. This sort of thing happens all the time in Iraq, so why does this get special treatment? Because the citizens of Fallujah, according to MSNBC, "After ambushing the vehicle carrying the civilian contractors in Fallujah, jubilant Iraqis burned and mutilated the dead, then dragged two corpses through the streets and hung them from a bridge spanning the Euphrates River.

That's going to provide plenty of footage and pictures for both sides to use.

The left gets to comment that these attacks wouldn't have happened if President Bush hadn't put us in Iraq. Some on the left will also comment that our sorrow over these three or four American civilians will be much much greater than our sorrow for Iraqi civilians dead.

The right gets to use this to demonize the Iraqi resistance (not too hard a feat considering) and, by extension, all those who oppose President Bush's programs.

The whole thing makes me sick to me sick to my stomach.

That they died is bad ; but, frankly those are the risks they take (speaking of the Civilian Contractors). Presumably they felt they'd be compensated for the risk they were incurring. From the MSNBC story - "Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said at a briefing in Baghdad that it was not known what the coalition contractors were doing in Fallujah - apparently without a military escort - when the attack occurred." So we don't know what they were doing, but one can assume they didn't go to Fallujah on a whim.

What's worse is the mutilation of the bodies, which is already being compared to what happened on Mogadishu. We all remember Mogadishu, when President Clinton cut and run, which the Right has always portrayed as proof to the Middle East that we are a weak nation. So this action makes it more likely that we will stay in Iraq; there will probably also be calls to pacify Fallujah.

And of course there were five American soldiers who died as well. Unlike the civilians they didn't have a choice about being there. And they don't have much hope of coming out of this situation with the kind of compensation that the civilian contractors would have presumably recieved. It's sad that such events have become unremarkable.

Anyway I wish those familes of the deceased well.

The People's Republic of Kathleen Parker

First of all, allow me to provide a little background. Kerry, skiing in Idaho, apparently fell down and cussed out his secret service agent (calling him a "son of a bitch") who he felt was to blame. It's hard to say more about this story because most of the references I find to it are from conservative bloggists and commentators (like Kathleen Parker), and I suspect their interpretation may be biased.

Here's how the New York Times Reported it (and, remember dear readers, I had to spend $2.95 to get access to this article so you'd better appreciate it!)

"His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis -- just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, ''I don't fall down,'' then used an expletive to describe the agent who ''knocked me over.''

This is the defining moment of the Kerry Campaign, according to many right wing columnists (like Kathleen Parker). In her latest column, she compares Senator Kerry to a 7-year old. Of course she leaves out most of the context (even the little bit of context provided by the New York times). For example, she leaves out the bit where the secret service agent actually knocked him down. She also didn't spend a lot of time contemplating what it's like to fall down in the snow while skiing and have reporters immediately running over to ask for a comment.

She then goes on to fault his choice of leisure activity. "Then you catch Kerry, who shouldn't need to prove his manhood - he served in Vietnam, you know - engaging in preppy sports that require resorts and expensive equipment: skiing, snowboarding, windsurfing. Not exactly the populist sports of choice.

Can't the man shoot hoops? Or toss a football while, say, not skiing in Aspen? Catch much?

There are a lot of skiers in America; all they all preppy wimps? Particularly in northern states like, say, Massachusetts, skiing is a popular activity. And the man was on vacation, wasn't he? After a grueling primary season, he was taking a couple of days off. President Bush, as we all know, understands the value of a vacation; why don't you, Ms. Parker?

Tony Blankely comments on this issue as well, but uses it to springboard into his request, nay, requirement, that Senator Kerry release his medical files.

"In the murky background, national tabloid papers speculate that he may be a victim of more embarrassing diseases. Such nasty rumors are commonplace in American politics (and inevitably have their effects), but they are fueled by candidates who refuse to release all their medical records -- as Mr. Kerry refuses. The limited, general, uncorroborated statements by his personal physician, Dr. Gerald J. Doyle of Boston, only keep the controversy on a slow simmer. The doctor said that "there was no evidence of metastic disease" and that Mr. Kerry's heart function "was above average for a man his age." Is that really the best his helpful doctor could offer up?"

Kind of a tricky technique there, isn't it? Without asserting anything specific, Blankley says a lot. In case you don't get it he's accusing President Kerry of having a Sexually Transmitted Disease while maintaining plausible deniability. Let me give you a parallel version.

"Well it's obviously unfortunate that tabloid papers could write speculative pieces on Mr. Blankley's continual private and ritualistic worship of Pan, the Goat God, despite his professed Christianity. Really the only way to put these rumors to rest is for Mr. Blankley to install security cameras and connect them to the web so that we can watch his house 24 hours a day."

See? Simple. And it works on anybody, because as we all know, tabloid papers will print anything.

Still slamming into Kerry on Health Issues may not earn Blankley any gold stars from the White House. David Talbot of Salon interviewed former Watergate Alumnus John Dean on the Bush Administration's need for secrecy. Among other things, Mr. Dean states, "I would add to the list Cheney's outrageous stonewalling about his health, which we know is bad, notwithstanding his effort to keep the details secret. The Congress lets Cheney do anything he wants because Republicans control it, and Cheney is their heavy in the White House for getting things done. Cheney, so long as Republicans control, will not have to answer, but should we return to divided government in 2004 or 2006 and Cheney is still in the White House, that will end.

There has never been a vice president -- ever (and even including Spiro Agnew who was Nixon's) -- who needed to be investigated more than Cheney. Nor has there ever been such a secretive vice president. Dick Cheney is the power behind the Bush throne. Frankly, I am baffled why the mainstream news media has given Cheney (not to mention Bush) a free ride. I don't know if it is generational, or corporate ownership, or political bias, but it is clear that Cheney has been given a pass by the major news organizations.

The interview is quite good, although you do need to watch an ad to read it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

CGEORC Strikes Back!

This time in an actual review of Mr. Clarke's book. Most people are focusing on his attacks on the administration (including your humble narrator), but there's more to "Against All Enemies" than just slamming the Bush Administration.

Christopher Dicky reviews the book and makes some interesting comments on President Bush's Neo-Conservative advisors and recent events in Isreal.

"Some of their common analysis is useful: the West must show more resolve, more unity, and less hesitation to act against clearly defined threats. Nothing to argue with there. But their absolutist approach refuses to consider the real grievances that help terrorists recruit. Even to raise the issue is portrayed as a lack of moral clarity. The only way to deal with people who are on the other side is to break their will, humiliate them, vilify them, even if that means subjecting whole societies to occupation and repression, first in the name of self-defense and then, curiously, in the name of freedom. This only makes sense over the long term if you think you can keep a lid on those societies indefinitely, or have the money and skills and manpower and blood to transform them completely. Or, if you believe as Netanyahu claims, that "in many regions of the world, especially the Middle East, anger precedes respect."

As a matter of obvious fact, anger begets more anger, more violence, more "inexorable, built-in escalation." Most Israelis understand that, which is why many have had second thoughts, and mounting concerns, since the Sharon government blew the spiritual leader of Hamas to smithereens last week. Will the killing of a septuagenarian paraplegic make anyone safer? Will it disrupt Hamas terrorism? Will it intimidate other Hamas leaders? Not likely. But the rage that followed made Gaza that much harder for any moderate force to govern.

For those of you who haven't acquired the book (like me), or are unable to purchase it, Dickey's article does give a pretty good overview. So go read it.

Krugman verses CGEORC!

Paul Krugman's latest editorial finds him swept up in the unholy power of CGEORC (Cant Get Enough Of Richard Clark)Syndrome. Let's see what happens.

"The truth is that among experts, what Mr. Clarke says about Mr. Bush's terrorism policy isn't controversial. The facts that terrorism was placed on the back burner before 9/11 and that Mr. Bush blamed Iraq despite the lack of evidence are confirmed by many sources — including "Bush at War," by Bob Woodward.

And new evidence keeps emerging for Mr. Clarke's main charge, that the Iraq obsession undermined the pursuit of Al Qaeda. From yesterday's USA Today: "In 2002, troops from the Fifth Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures."

That's why the administration responded to Mr. Clarke the way it responds to anyone who reveals inconvenient facts: with a campaign of character assassination.

Well, what can I add to that? Except that you should go read the entire article.

Incidently, I don't want anybody to mistake my enthusiasm for the acronym CGEORC for a lack of interest in the story or in Richard Clarke. On the contrary, I am just as enthralled by the buffoonishbehaviorr of the Bush White House in their attacks on Mr. Clarke as anybody.

Here Comes CGEORC!

The Bush administration and their allies in the Conservative Media have spent a week trying to tarnish Richard Clarke, but up until now haven't really put forward their version of events. So now we have Mr. Rich Lowry stepping forward to clear up the facts of the case.

Clarke assertion #1. The Bush administration paid little attention to warnings of al-Queada and took a long time to commit to a strategy

Rich Lowry's Response. "But policy-making takes time. The Clinton administration's Presidential Decision Directive 39 identified terrorism as a national security concern, and was "signed in June 1995 after at least a year of interagency consultation and coordination." At least a year."

My Response. So you accept the facts as stated, but complain that the placing of blame for a failure to act is wrongheaded. Interesting that you hold up the Clinton administration as a standard for the Bush administration to live up to.

Clarke Assertion #2. The Clinton Administration was more open to suggestions on how to fight Terrorism.

Rich Lowry's Response. "He [Clarke] circulated among Clinton officials an anti-al-Qaida plan in September 1998. "This strategy was not formally adopted, and Cabinet-level participants ... have little or no recollection of it, at least as a formal policy document."

My Response. Who cares? Clinton is out of the White House now, and if you want to go to war over his record on fighting Terrorism all over again, well, I guess you have more time than I do.

Clarke Assertion #6. The Bush administration did not take terrorism chatter seriously in the summer and fall of 2001.

Rich Lowry's Response. "Not quite. In the summer of 2001, "the CIA again went into what the DCI [George Tenet] described as 'Millennium threat mode,' engaging with foreign liaison and disrupting operations around the world. At least one planned terrorist attack in Europe may have been successfully disrupted during the summer of 2001."

My Response. Now to put on my hypocrite boots. After having just declared Clinton verbotem I'm going to bring him up. Clinton claimed to have foiled all sorts of schemes around January 1, 2000, and yet you and yours still claim he didn't do anything serious to fight terrorism.

What's also interesting about this particular article is that the way it sets as it's key theme a deliberate misinterpretation of Clarke's words. "In explaining the discrepancy between previous comments he made about President Bush's anti-terrorism policy and the harsh ones that he is making now, Richard Clarke has said the difference is a matter of "tenor and tone." Indeed."

So then Lowry goes on to talk about how Clarke's current tenor and tone are dishonest. But of course what Clarke must have meant was that his tenor and tone in the earlier interviews (when he was still on President Bush's payroll) was different from his tenor and tone now. Because being outside of the structures of power he is more free to say what he thinks, isn't he? He's less guarded. So the idea that his tenor and tone are today picked very carefully doesn't make a lot of sense.

Monday, March 29, 2004


I have to admit that I might be suffering from CGEORC syndrome. But that's ok.

Anyway good article from Common Dreams, a site I haven't checked in with in months. The author is John Nichols and I guess the article originally appeared in the Nation.

One selection. "No matter what goes wrong, the ironclad rule of the Bush administration has been to find someone outside the administration -- preferably a Democrat or a foreigner -- to blame. And if there is no way to blame someone else, the policy has been to keep expressing an Orwellian faith in the prospect that the failure will become a success, or that the lie will be made true -- witness Cheney's refusal to back away from his pre-war "they'll greet us with flowers" fantasy about the Iraqi response to a U.S.-led invasion.

Supposedly, this refusal to bend in the face of reality is smart politics. But a constant pattern of avoiding responsibility tends, eventually, to catch up even with the smartest politicians.

We can only hope that Mr. Nichols is right.


That's my new acronym for people who "Can't Get Enough Of Richard Clark." For those of you who are going to try to pronounce it, please have a glass of water on hand to sooth your throat afterwards.

At any rate, for those of you who are CGEORC, go check out Speedkill's very solid run down of the charges leveled against Clark by Republicans and Conservatives.

Another Mildly Discomforting Aspect to Diane West's Piece

Ms. Diane West opens her piece with these sentences. "Richard Clarke has very thin skin -- literally. It's the kind of complexion that shows the ruddy glow of a circulation system at work. But when asked a really tough question while testifying before the 9/11 commission, I wondered if the former White House counterterrorism honcho would have the decency to blush. "

Is this a lot different than me saying, "You know Rush Limbaugh isn't that attractive a person. Why does anybody listen to him?"

Or in other words, do you really think the way to bring Clarke down is by taking him to task for his physical appearance?

Some collected bits from around the web

"What we'll never know is how Clarke could say this. He probably assumed his 2002 background briefing would never pop up again. . . .

I was watching this week's hearing very carefully, but while Clarke might have reddened a shade or two when finally asked to square his two different versions of events, I can't be sure. He should have. At the very least, he should not have maintained under oath that his indictment of the Bush administration in his book and recent interviews are "consistent" with his past statements.
" - Diana West, "Which Clarke should you believe?"

"MR. RUSSERT: Is there any inconsistency between your sworn testimony before the September 11 Commission last week and two years ago before the congressional committee?

MR. CLARKE: No, there isn't. And I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony.

MR. RUSSERT: You would request this morning that it all be declassified?

MR. CLARKE: And I want more declassified.
Meet the Press, March 28, 2004.

"The White House acknowledged Sunday that on the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush asked his top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, to find out whether Iraq was involved.

Mr. Bush wanted to know "did Iraq have anything to do with this? Were they complicit in it?" Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, recounted in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Mr. Bush was not trying to intimidate anyone to "produce information," she said. Rather, given the United States' "actively hostile relationship" with Iraq at the time, he was asking Mr. Clarke "a perfectly logical question," Ms. Rice said.

The conversation — which the White House suggested last week had never taken place — centers on perhaps the most volatile charge Mr. Clarke has made public in recent days: that the Bush White House became fixated on Iraq and Saddam Hussein at the expense of focusing on Al Qaeda.
" Eric Lichtbrau, New York Times.

A couple of observations. First of all the White House and their allies in the Conservative Media need to eventually respond to the substance of Mr. Clarke's testimony, rather than simply trying to discredit him sight unseen. This current strategy of portraying him as an unscrupulous careerist just doesn't seem to be working for them. Suggesting that he's really a Democrat is also a meaningless accusation, unless the White House has a different set of stories to tell. But as the New York Times story suggests, they might not.

Second, Condoleezza Rice is really taking the bullet for President Bush in this story, as it's clear that the current "story" is Clark versus Rice. That picture of her angry face is showing up everywhere; and it doesn't compare favorably to Richard Clarke's more calm demeanor.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

New Quote

Continuing my remembrence of things past, todays quote is from a song by the Psychedelic Furs after their career was kind of messed up.

For those who don't know much about the Furs they had kind a gritty cool style through their first four albums (their eponymously named debut, "Talk Talk Talk," "Forever Now," and "Mirror Moves."). Then they made "Midnight to Midnight," which produced a big single, but just sounded terribly poppy (even more so than "Mirror Moves") and bombastic. They turned back to earlier sounds immediately with the Brilliant single "All that Money Wants" from their first greatest hits collection ("All of this and nothing) and then made two further albums that dropped off the face of the planet "Book of Days" and "World Outside") Richard Butler went on to record albums under a new monicker Love Spit Love and had some success there. At any rate, if you are interested, check out "Talk Talk Talk" (recently rereleased) or Love Spit Love's "Tryone Eatsome." Both are really good.

Oh, and I updated the Quotes page.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

For those of you who think I make to many typos.

Allow me to point you to this story from MSNBC.COM

"In his book and agaun this week before the commission, Clarke accused the Bush administration of cutting off his access to senior officials, who he said did not consider terrorism to be an “urgent problem.” In contrast, he said, the Clinton administration gave the terrorist threat its “highest priority.”

Ha! And those MSNBC Pooftahs have a bunch of editors and what not to check up on what they do.

Incidently, the story refers to an attempt by Congressional Republicans to release private testimony from last year that they claim contradicts his current testimony and would therefore make him guilty of perjury. So they aren't going to call him a liar for what he said, but for a failure to be completely consistant. Whatever works, I guess.

Five Albums from the 1980s that are worth a new listen

Here they are, with one line from one song.

Alcohol is your yoga baby. - Love and Rockets, "Express," 1986

She doesn't have anything you want to steal / well, nothing you can touch. - Psychedelic Furs, "Talk Talk Talk," 1981

Brothers and sisters play chinese whispers. - Depeche Mode, "Construction Time Again," 1983

Your father's father's father tried / erased the parts he didn't like. - R.E.M., "Life's Rich Pageant," 1986

It's a red sky tonight. - New Order, "Power, Corruption & Lies," 1983

And here are the five songs in no particular order--as a bonus quiz see if you can match the song to the line.

We All Stand
Pretty in Pink
Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man
Told You So

Did you get them all right? Turn your monitor over to see the correct answer. Or don't. I'll post the answers in the comments section.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Another Telling Truth from David Limbaugh

"President Bush's remarkable record in the War on Terror speaks for itself -- no matter how brazenly Democrats are trying to suppress it."

Yep. President Bush's record is clear. Since September 11th, he squandered the national good will we had built up, failed to capture Osama Bin Ladin, invaded Iraq on false premises, and stretched our military almost to the point of breaking. He's made so little progress at fighting Terrorism that Spain suffered a tragic loss recently and his loyal pundits have to remind us almost daily that we will suffer another attack, and that when we do we had better not blame President Bush for it (one presumes they will continue to blame it on Clinton). I guess success is in the eye of the beholder; since President Bush did successfully lower taxes, he's a success regardless of how well the war on terror is going.

Anyway if you want to read the rest of Limbaugh's column and all his slams on Richard Clarke, here it is.

Round the Horn Part XVI The Maddening Confusion

Fortunately to combat the maddening confusion we have a passle of links to great articles by other members of the Liberal Coalition.

Steve Gilliard over at Steve Gilliard's News Blog has asked the question men dare not ask. Namely, did impeachment have something to do with Bill Clinton's inability to crush al-Queada. Judging by the quality of pinheaded commentators slamming into him, the answer may be yes.

Rook's Rant has a bit on how Maureen Dowd's latest column and a local clear channel radio personality might spell doom for President Bush.

Respectful of Otters has an interesting story on The Center for American Progress's research on President Bush's supporters claim that Kerry is a big denier of money to the military and law enforcement.

H.L. Victoria over at New World Blogger has a nice rundown on recent events in Latin America. You'd think being so close to us geographically that Latin America would affect us more and we'd pay more attention to it.

It's Craptastic! has a tidbit on Bill O'Rielly's opinion of himself (for those of you who are unaware, Mr. O'Rielly has a very high opinion of himself.

blogAmy has a poem; a take off on the 23rd Psalm, for our current reality. It's Good.

The Gotham City 13 has a discussion of a recent interview with that old tapdancer, Donald Rumsfeld.

Mustang Bobby, over at Bark Bark Woof Woof has reminiscences on the car of Champions, the Mustang and his love for it.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

A Letter to the President

In response to a story earlier this week about Vice President Cheney's visit to the Rush Limbaugh Program, my Brother wrote a letter to the President (at the White House website), which he has graciously allowed me to reprint (which is nice because it allows me to take the afternoon off).

Well, since my comment did not fall directly into one of the categories available, I chose "taxes" because I am questioning the government's use of my tax money.

I noticed today that the White House's tax-funded website was used to display Rush Limbaugh's interview with the Vice President. To my knowledge (and I may be wrong in this) media sources which are governmentally sponsered are required to give equal time/space to opposing viewpoints as well. I'm simply wondering weather or not any space has been made available for opposing commentary.

My problem with this is the same problem I have with Rush in general. The general public wants something to trust in, and when they log on to the White House's website, or listen to Mr. Limbaugh, many tend to believe every word they see or hear. It's unfortunate, but many americans can hardly be bothered to do a bit of basic research to find out weather or not they've just been fed only a few selected words out of a larger, more revealing quote, or if the source that was just cited was even remotely reliable. By presenting only one rather distorted viewpoint you betray the most basic ethical standards of journalism. It may not be lying, but it's hardly telling the truth.

Mr. President, I have served in this country's military, and I respect the office you hold. If you want me to respect you as a person, please treat me, and all americans, with the respect we deserve. It just seems like lately one thing after another has piled up and made my government look shameful. Please just clear this up one way or another. Putting spin on things and covering mistakes up only makes the nation look worse when the truth eventually comes out.

I sincerely hope that you know what you are doing. I want to trust that democracy works and that our leaders, while not necessarily perfect, have the whole nation's best interest in mind. I want to believe that you are a good person, and will not sacrifice my well being in favor of corporate and political power. Please do not let me down.


The Sudan

Echidne of the Snakes has a great story on the current inhumanity to man that is going on in the Sudan. Enjoy.

Scientists Say : Ann Coulter is the Center of the Universe

Scientists at the Advanced Intellectual Mechanics lab have recently made a startling discovery; Ann Coulter is the center of the universe. More surprisingly, this world is but a figment of her imagination, a sort of game she is playing with herself.

What implications does this theory have in the field of political commentary? Well take this statement in her latest column, which concerns Richard Clarke. "As long as we're investigating everything, how about investigating why some loser no one has ever heard of is getting so much press coverage for yet another "tell-all" book attacking the Bush administration?"

Prior to this scientific discovery, I might have commented that it doesn't make Coulter look very good to assume that because she hadn't heard of Richard Clarke, he must be a "loser." But now I know that in fact he might very well not have existed before last week or the week before when he started appearing in the news. He might just be another delusionel villain that Ms. Coulter has imagined up to face her chosen champion, President Bush.

Thank you Science, for once again improving our lives.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Sometimes I Don't Know What To Think

I know this is not the sort of thing an internet commentator is ever supposed to admit. I much prefer my normal stance of furious sarcasticty, but sometimes the world is a bit too confusing even for me. I'm speaking of the recent assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli Government.

On the one hand, it's hard to imagine that this will have positive reprecussions. As Dennis Ross at the New York Times suggests, "For the short term, Sheik Yassin's killing on Monday in Gaza is almost certain to foster retaliation by those eager to have Israelis suffer pain as well. Already yesterday, the Israeli military said it foiled a rocket attack on Israel by militants in southern Lebanon, killing two of the militants in an air strike."

On the other hand I'm not immune to the argument that Yassin was a bad man and needed to go. It's a bit inconsistant to argue that Israel should be willing to negotiate with a man who's basic position is that Israel should not exist. Hammas is a terrorist organization; if we reserve the right to kill Usama Bin Ladin, can we deny Isreal the right to kill terrorists that pick on them?

The Utilitarian argument is perhaps the most persuasive. Yes, Israel had a right to do what it did; but assuming Israels goal is peace (and I believe it is), was it the smart thing to do?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Your Tax Dollars at Work

For those interested in reading Rush Limbaugh's interview with Dick Cheney, you can view it at the White House Web Site that you helped pay for. Yep, at a website paid for with your tax dollars you can read an interview conducted by Rush Limbaugh (who is a skilled broadcaster but a terrible interviewer (basically for the same reason; he loves the sound of his own voice)).

Here's a good bit from El Rushbo, "No, I understand -- I understand. I just -- we see things in the paper, and it irritates supporters of the President who may not understand in a time like this where the administration is involved in a struggle for the future of the country to see some Republicans not totally on board that struggle puzzles people."

Read that outloud and see if it makes sense.

Anyway if you, like me, are frusterated at this misuse of government money, please send an e-mail to the white house and request your $0.000000004312 back.

David Limbaugh, Master Pervericator

But perhaps I'm giving him too much credit. In his latest article, Mr. Limbaugh suggests that the election may turn on the perceptions of the voters as much as on the reality of the situation. For example, the economy is doing great according to some. A glance at today's NY Times Business Page tells the story. The first story is entitled "For Wall Street Chiefs, Big Paydays Continue" and the second story is entitled "Stock Indexes Fall to Lows for the Year." So maybe a strong economy is in the eyes of the beholder, as Limbaugh suggests. If we were to accept his perception of the world, instead of the data relayed to us by our own eyes, then we'd vote for President Bush.

He then comments on Democrat opposition to the war.

"But the major weapon Democrats used to discredit Bush's performance on Iraq, prior to their orgy over the WMD issue, was the misrepresentation that we had attacked Iraq "unilaterally." Though we didn't succeed in persuading every recalcitrant nation to join the coalition, we did have scores of nations participating, making the charge of "unilateralism" objectively untrue."

This again reflects how David Limbaugh's perceptions may be at odds with reality. While he sees a unified coalition happily moving to fight Saddam Hussein, the real world notes that the United States, Great Britain, Poland and Australia provided all of the initial troops, with American troops making up the vast majority. We note that, unlike the first Gulf War, the United States is footing the bill almost completely. We note that many of the nations in the Coalition of the Willing are nations who owe us a considerable amount of money, and presumably would like to avoid having us send around the equivalent of a guy called Guido to collect.

More to the point, it is clear to any body who spends even a moment studying the Bush Administration that no nation has or had anything but a support role in formulating this policy. It isn't like the "Coalition" got together and decided what to do; Secretary Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, and President Bush told the other members of the Coalition what we were going to do; their only choice was to serve as our lap dogs or to act as independent nations and do what they felt was best (as stated above, that was not a viable strategy for some of these nations. I also don't want to insinuate that all nations disagreed with our policies; some, like Australia, may have supported our plans whole heartedly).

Anyway getting back to Mr. Limbaugh, I guess the moral to this story is just believe what he tells you to believe and everything will be ok. Sort of.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Round the Horn

I am not doing complete Blogarounds the way some of my colleagues in the Liberal Coalition do; I'm very lazy. Instead I am doing seven to ten cool links, usually on Monday or Friday for your perusal, and keeping track of how many times I hit each of my collegues.

You know there is not an activity on earth that isn't improved with the addition of an Excel spreadsheet.

Ok, well, maybe one.

Anyway here we go! Kick the Leftist has coverage of the strange case of Ms. Sandra Tsing Loh, latest frontline in the war against free speech.

Rick's Cafe Americaine has some comments on the Possibility of John McCain joining the Democratic Ticket as Vice President.

Rubber Hose has a really solid analysis of the Spanish Elections and our own misconceptions on them; wish I had come across this (and linked to it) earlier.

Speedkill has a thought on the old idea of Tort Reform.

Steve Gillard (Of Steve Gilliard's New Blog) has a scathing but well deserved attack on the Bush Administrations reaction to 9/11.

T.Rex (T.Rex's Guide to Life) considers the so-called Coalition of the Willing and finds it somewhat wanting.

The Fulcrum examines President Bush's laser like focus on . . . I can't even finish that sentance. He actually examines President Bush's lack of focus on Usama Bin Ladin.

That's all for now, but tune in next time when Mr. Peabody says "Woof."


Dennis Miller's performance (or lack thereof) reminded me of an old Dilbert.


If ever there was an argument for why I should be on TV instead of some of these dimwits who are on TV, this is it.

The Dennis Miller Show, guest Eric Alterman.

Miller barely engages Alterman, and acts like a jerk. I don't know how even Conservatives can watch that interview and be proud (unless of course they think that liberal view points don't need to even have the occasional mention they currently get, as some do).

Via This Modern World.

Spanish Fly to be rename Freedom Fly

Yes, in a stunning move, the Congress of the United States, following the slap they gave to France a couple of years when they renamed French Fries, they have decided to give a similar blow to Spain, after the Spanish peoples decision to vote out the Pro-Bush Government.

As we all know, Congress keeps extensive supplies of Freedom Fly, the well renowned aphrodisiac; this has to come as a blow to the Spanish people.

Other things to be renamed include that great song "Freedom Flea" by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass and the Freedom Omelet (one medium Potato, two eggs, quarter cup salsa, quarter cup cheese, salt and other spices).

Paul Krugman

I haven't checked up on Paul Krugman in a while; but last week he wrote a brilliant dissection of President Bush's handling of the War of Terror.

"The truth is that Mr. Bush, while eager to invoke 9/11 on behalf of an unrelated war, has shown consistent reluctance to focus on the terrorists who actually attacked America, or their backers in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

This reluctance dates back to Mr. Bush's first months in office. Why, after all, has his inner circle tried so hard to prevent a serious investigation of what happened on 9/11? There has been much speculation about whether officials ignored specific intelligence warnings, but what we know for sure is that the administration disregarded urgent pleas by departing Clinton officials to focus on the threat from Al Qaeda.

After 9/11, terrorism could no longer be ignored, and the military conducted a successful campaign against Al Qaeda's Taliban hosts. But the failure to commit sufficient U.S. forces allowed Osama bin Laden to escape. After that, the administration appeared to lose interest in Al Qaeda; by the summer of 2002, bin Laden's name had disappeared from Mr. Bush's speeches. It was all Saddam, all the time.

This wasn't just a rhetorical switch; crucial resources were pulled off the hunt for Al Qaeda, which had attacked America, to prepare for the overthrow of Saddam, who hadn't. If you want confirmation that this seriously impeded the fight against terror, just look at reports about the all-out effort to capture Osama that started, finally, just a few days ago. Why didn't this happen last year, or the year before? According to The New York Times, last year many of the needed forces were tied up in Iraq.

It's now clear that by shifting his focus to Iraq, Mr. Bush did Al Qaeda a huge favor. The terrorists and their Taliban allies were given time to regroup; the resurgent Taliban once again control almost a third of Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda has regained the ability to carry out large-scale atrocities.

So maybe the fact that many liberals think we need a new leader in the war on terror isn't a sign of cultural suicide some of our hysterical friends on the right make it out to be.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


As you know there were protests yesterday, around the world and right here in Tallahassee. To quote Salon's report on the protests. "Asked how many people were expected, Bill Dobbs, spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, one of the protest's organizers, said, "not anything like the huge numbers when we all believed we could stop the war."

Well the protest numbers were smaller her in FL, but what also struck me was the demographics. It was a much much older crowd it seemed to me. But we did have a number of protesters and speakers. Anyway see for yourself.

A Quick Pan Across the Protest.

New Quote

And A New Quotes Page.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Do you want to know what your Neighbors are Doing?

I mean they could be doing any number of things, couldn't they? Secret things. Scary things.

For example, your neighbors could be donating money to candidates you don't agree with. Think of that. If you are a Bush Supporter, they might have given money to Kerry or Dean or Edwards. If you support Kerry or Kucinich or Dean, well, somebody right across the street might have given money to President Bush.

Well, now you can know thanks to the responsible people at Fundrace 2004. Just go to this page and plug in your zip code. Scan down the list for people that don't share your political convictions and go and visit them. You might want to take some eggs or maybe even some bricks to hurl at their cars, houses, etc.

Attention employers; now you can get a surreptitious lead on the politics of any potential employees. Just fire the ones who give to candidates you don't agree with.

Thank you Fundrace, for your responsible website. But you forgot to track my contributions to the Edwards and Kerry campaigns.

Arianna Huffington's Words of Wisdom

This is from a speech she gave recently, and the whole thing is worth reading.

"In politics, he who controls the language defines the political debate. So we need to take back from the conservatives certain magical words that they have appropriated and perverted: Responsibility, values, family, security, strength and, yes, morality, which the right wing has reduced to sexual morality. Look at Wal-Mart, which considers itself so moral it made a huge fuss of pulling three men's magazines off the shelf at the same time it treats women like second-class citizens, fires workers who try to unionize, and is being sued in 30 states for refusing to pay overtime. So we've come to the point where laddie magazines are immoral, but cheating your workers is not.

We have to change this. And we need to start by taking "responsibility" back. Indeed, in the book I just finished on the subject, I call this moral vision "The Vision of New Responsibility." Personal responsibility is essential, but so is developing a sense of responsibility for others. I have two daughters, 12 and 14, and that's what I teach them -- that's what we all teach our children, unless we want to see them growing up to be Ayn Rand fanatics celebrating "the virtue of selfishness," like, say, Alan Greenspan. Social responsibility is also the essence of extended family, so central to the immigrant experience.

Once Round the Horn

I don't know if you all know what the phrase "Round the Horn" means. It originated in Welsh Farming country, where sometimes young rowdies would go out and run around the corn fields with their arms outstretched knocking down corn and causing trouble. In the parlance of the local gentry, such youths "Ruined the Corn" and the phrase came to mean some purposeless activity.

When Magellan sailed around Africa's Cape Horn, he had with him a very cynical Welsh Sailor who commented that around the horn was as purposeless as "ruined the corn." This didn't make any gramattical sense, but it didn't matter as all the other sailors were Spanish and didn't understand what old "Welshy" was saying.

From there the phrase travelled to some of the early baseball games, back when there were fifteen bases shaped roughly in the head of a cow. Bases 6 through 12 would throw the ball along in quick rapid succession. One of the players, Jonathen "Welshy" Banks thougt the idea stupid and again compared it to "Ruining the Corn." This time, however, his fellow ball players spoke english, and so the phrase entered the english language. Today to throw the ball round the horn is for it to go from First to Second to Third to the Catcher and back to the Pitcher in quick succession. Or something like that. Anyway I use it to refer to a swing round the Liberal Coalition to see what's popping.

And Then . . . has a letter from a grad school on urban education that is well worth considering. It turns out that some of our preconceptions might be wrong.

Collective Sigh posted a reaction to the recent story on Clinton and Bush's pre-September 11th battles against Osama Bin Ladin.

I'm Listening to Tranquility Bass's "They Came in Peace," which is a great song.

Corrente has a great little bit on the infallibility of Karl Rove. Oh, read that wrong. Should be excessive fallibility.

Dohiyi Mir has a very involved but solid read on the moral and practicial implications of the deceptions surrounding Iraq.

Iddybud has a factoid about how our next target, after the election, will almost certainly be Iran.

Meanwhile, over at It's Craptastic, they have a section on Bill Maher's mocking of President Bush's outsider status. I have to say Bill Maher's dead right on this one; President Bush is no outsider.

The Invisible Library has a fascinating critique of the term "War on Terror" and how it may not be entirely accurate.

Trish Wilson highlights President Bush's apparent inability to tell a man from a woman. Or in this case a woman from a man. Or should it be the other way around. I'm confused.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Something To Consider

The President and his party have decided to go on the offensive early. Don't believe me? Well then I'm going to personally punch you in the face.

Wait a minute.

Apparently I am no longer allowed to punch people in the face. In a surprisingly quick court action, every single person in the United States, Canada and Guam has, in a class action action, been protected by a restraining order against me punching them in the face. So instead of punching you in the face, I'm going to have to resort to quoting the New York Times.

"Mr. Cheney's speech was scathing and was the White House's most detailed and pointed criticism to date of Mr. Kerry. The vice president's delivery was notable, too, for the sarcasm within its measured tones. It was his first major policy speech of the campaign, which has begun direct attacks unusually early for a general election."

So let's all take a moment and consider what it means for the President to go so quickly on the attack. One thing it could mean is that the President is holding a pair of deuces (one called the Economy, one called Iraq) and he doesn't want to run on that hand. So instead of running on his own record, he's going to run against Kerry's.

There's a related story at the Times about President Bush's eagerness to begin the attack.

"He likes campaigning, and he likes combat," said Charles Black, a consultant to Mr. Bush's campaign. "He doesn't like sitting back and taking a lot of punches from anybody. It took a lot of discipline the last few months for him to do that. There were times when he wished he could respond, but you can't go fight nine people at once."

Mr. Bush, by all accounts, is relieved that he has finally engaged his opponent, and is happily making day-to-day campaign decisions as well as setting long-term strategy about defining Mr. Kerry.

If only he'd turn his energy towards doing those sorts of things that would give him something to run on, but I suppose you have to stick with what you're good at.

Differing Points of View

"The New York Times called the Spanish election "an exercise in healthy democracy." And an ATM withdrawal with a gun to your head is a "routine banking transaction." Instead of vowing to fight the people who killed their fellow citizens, the Spanish decided to vote with al-Qaida on the war. A murdering terrorist organization said, "Jump!" and an entire country answered, "How high?"

One Spaniard who decided to switch his vote in reaction to the bombings told the Times: "Maybe the Socialists will get our troops out of Iraq and al-Qaida will forget about Spain so we will be less frightened." That's the fighting spirit! If the violent Basque separatist group only killed more people, Spain would surely give them what they want, too.

After his stunning upset victory, Socialist Party leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero vowed to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq if the United States does not turn over Iraq to the United Nations. He also vowed that all of Spain's remaining trains will run on time.

Zapatero said the war with Iraq had "only caused violence" and "there were no reasons for it." One reason for the war, which would seem to be a sufficient reason for a more manly country, is that the people who just slaughtered 200 Spaniards didn't like it.
- Ann Coulter

"Too many Americans too easily ignore the contributions made in blood and treasure by our European allies in the Afghan conflict. Early in 2002, Spain sent 120 peacekeepers to the International Security Assistance Force. Last May, they lost 62 of those soldiers when an airplane bringing them home crashed in Turkey. There were no mass demonstrations demanding the end of Spanish participation in that international coalition.

Neither ideological inconsistency nor moral cowardice explains why the Spanish electorate dumped the discredited conservatives. The Bush administration’s reckless drive to war in Iraq, against majority dissent in Spain and elsewhere, undermined support for the United States. Since then, people around the world have been confirmed in their worst suspicions about the purported causes of that war. Now we are discovering the destructive impact of the lies told by our own leaders and diplomats, about Baghdad’s weapons of mass destruction and cooperation with Al Qaeda.
- Joe Conason

Just something to consider. Of course putting Ms. Coulter up against Mr. Conason might not be the fairest of competitions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Warning. Low Posting Ahead.

But here's a really old Tom the Dancing Bug to Cheer you up

And if you like that cartoon, go buy a Tom the Dancing Bug Book.

Differing Opinions

"Don't give me this public airwaves business, either. The public airwaves argument vanished long ago with what they're putting on the public television airwaves.

Radio cannot compete with the smut that's on television. I don't care who on radio is out there. They don't compete with the crap that's being televised every night into everybody's home with little teeny bops watching it and so forth. Now if we sit idly by and let a federal government start to define what is okay for somebody to say on radio and what isn't -- and in this area it has to do with decency regarding obscenity and smut and so forth -- what happens if a whole bunch of John Kerry-John Edwards-Bill Clinton-Terry McAuliffe types end up running this country someday again and decide that conservative opinion is indecent, decide that that causes violence, decide that that is somehow damaging to the culture?
Rush Limbaugh, February 26, 2004

"In the free marketplace, you're welcome to say whatever you like, but if people don't want to buy whatever you're selling, no whines. As long as the airwaves remain in the public domain, the public has a right through its government to stifle the profane rants and juvenile outbursts of our lesser-evolved brethren. Ain't democracy grand?"
Kathleen Parker, March 17, 2004

Of course Rush's comment is pretty self serving; he makes his money in radio, he doesn't want anybody messing up his meal ticket. But these two do show the essential split in the Republican Party; between those who would destroy the mechanisms of government and those, like Ms. Parker, who would use those mechanisms against viewpoints and positions and entertainment they don't like.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Never Mind

Apparently there has been correction. Last week, it was reported that Senator Kerry stated ""I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly but, boy, they look at you and say, 'You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that."

It turns out that what he actually said was ""I've met more leaders who can't go out and say this publicly but, boy, they look at you and say, 'You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that."

So that changes everything and we can expect a lot of articles from conservatives admitting that although this particular story turned out to be false, that's exactly the sort of thing Kerry would say.

Got pointed this way from This Modern World.

A vote for the Democrats is a Vote for Al-Qaeda

"Voters in Spain pulled the lever for al Qaeda on Sunday, and it may only be a matter of months before Osama bin Laden tries to replicate the results in the U.S."
- Joel Mowbray

"When the next bomb goes off--perhaps this time in Poland--the families of the dead should blame the people in Spain who voted to run from terrorists and cower before them instead of standing strong against them.

Sound cruel? Perhaps, but it is the sad truth. The majority of Spaniards decided to follow the illogical path of blaming their President for the attack in Madrid instead of the people who actually carried out mass murder. In doing so, they handed the butchers a victory. Terrorism and murder have been handsomely rewarded this day.
- Barbara J. Stock

"From the standpoint of a political campaign, the Popular Party of Spain made one of the gravest screwups in history, one that spells nothing but trouble for Spain, the United States and the security of the world.

They let al-Qaeda decide who will lead their nation.

- Jay Bryant

Isn't Democracy terrible? I mean without Democracy we wouldn't have to worry about the opinions of the people. Think how much President Bush could accomplish if he didn't have to worry about the election in November. Think about how much more Al-Queda would fear us if they knew that President Bush would be in office for the rest of his life, coming after them. Maybe it's time we as a nation reevaluated what democracy means to our enemies. To them it is weakness. It shows how weak our society is. Perhaps if we abandoned Democracy it would show them how dangerous we really are.

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

What's striking in the discussion of the tragedy of Spain is the constant repetition by the right that such things can and probably will happen here again as well. In other words, if you support President Bush because you hope there will be no more terror attacks, you have hoped in vain. He hasn't the power to stop terrorist attacks. And yet no conservative president should be held responsible for such attacks, because the alternative is capitulation.

The conservatives propose that there are two alternatives and two alternatives only; the belligerent go-it-alone policy of President Bush and his advisors or total surrender. But, here in reality, there are other alternatives.

"One year ago, I came here to say that the most basic responsibility of government is to provide for the common defense. But that thus far the Bush Administration had "provided too little support, provided too little leadership, and provided too little vision for the common defense of our homeland." One year later we gather again - and the same is true. Whether it has been providing funding and equipment for firefighters, ensuring that cargo in our ports is screened, guarding our chemical and nuclear facilities, or working with local communities across the country to give them the resources they need - this Administration has given our homeland security efforts short shrift. And you deserve better.

I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he's done too little. When the focus of the War on Terror was appropriately in Afghanistan and on breaking al Qaeda, President Bush shifted his focus to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. He's pushed away our allies at a time when we need them most. He hasn't pursued a strategy to win the hearts and minds of people around the world and win the war of ideas against the radical ideology of Osama bin Laden. And time and again, George Bush has failed to give those fighting the War on Terror - whether they're overseas or over here - the weapons, equipment, and support they need.

In dangerous parts of Iraq, our helicopters are flying missions without the best available anti-missile systems. Un-armored Humvees are falling victim to road-side bombs and small-arms fire and the Bush Administration waited through month after month of ambushes to act.

And tens of thousands of other troops arrived in Iraq to find that - with danger around every corner - there wasn't enough body armor to protect them.
- John Kerry

Monday, March 15, 2004

Rush Limbaugh Speaks

"All you have to do is look at the headlines and the news stories in their partisan media, which is, in this case, the mainstream press. They're all ecstatic and excited about this. The headlines talk about how Bush has lost an ally, Bush in trouble on war on terror, blah, blah, blah. Well, the opposite of that is, Kerry not in trouble, Kerry aided by Spanish election. And the terrorists are the ones who won that election, so what's good for Al-Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party."

Link here.

You all know this is going to be a dirty campaign, don't you?

Negative Ads

Hot on the heels for my somewhat humorous attempt at a Kerry Commercial, Salon has a story on Alex Castellanos, master of the negative ad who is now working for our very own President Bush. Actually, since their story came out first thing this morning, and my "ad" came out this afternoon, they beat me to the punch.

For those of you who don't know Alex Castellanos (like me before I read this story), here's a little taste of what he'll bring to the Bush Campaign.

"It was during that 1994 Florida campaign, working for Jeb Bush's first but failed bid for election, that Castellanos showed why he's considered one of the fathers of the modern attack ad.

Castellanos launched a classic October surprise. Less than two weeks before the election, with his candidate ahead in the polls, Castellanos produced a raw, emotionally charged spot featuring a Florida mother whose 10-year-old daughter had been murdered in 1980. On camera, she complained that Chiles had refused to sign the killer's death warrant, "because he's too liberal on crime." Addressing the people of Florida, the mother said, "I know Jeb Bush. He'll make criminals serve their sentences and enforce the death penalty. Lawton Chiles won't."

The accusation produced panic inside the Chiles campaign. "We had done all the research [on relevant death sentence cases] and we couldn't figure out how we missed this guy," says Krog. Aides quickly unearthed the answer: Florida courts were still hearing the killer's appeal, making it impossible for Chiles to act.

The Palm Beach Post condemned the attack ad as a "despicable lie that proves again why Jeb [Bush] is unfit to be governor." The Orlando Sun-Sentinel accused Bush of demagoguery, protesting the spot was "shamelessly false, irresponsible and tasteless," while the Miami Herald complained it had "sunk to new depths."

The ads backfired on Bush, allowing Chiles to win one of the closest gubernatorial races in Florida history.

The article is great, although it does suffer from a little too much of the horse race. The tone of the article is essentially that its ok to go negative and deceptive in your ads if they are effective. Effectiveness is the only criteria for judging political ads; and therefore the only reason to be honest is that over dishonesty might hurt the campaign (if the people catch on). I understand the view point, but still think honesty is good in and of itself.

One other thing. If Kerry wins, we are going to see the end of Campaign Finance Reform for a while. President Bush has an enormous amount of money, and if he can't parley that into an electoral win, than the argument that money buys elections will disappear.

My Idea for a Kerry Campaign Commercial.

Fade in on a group of Al-Queda Terrorists practicing something.

Voice over - "We are all afraid of Terrorist attacks, and we all recognize the need for a tough president to deal with them."

Camera switches to clip of John Kerry who says, "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen."

Voice over - "Tough Words Mr. Kerry. Let's look at how the Republicans respond."

Clips of various Republicans calling on Kerry to apologize.

Extra Smarmy Voice Over - "Oh my, it seems that Mr. Kerry's tough talk has upset these Republicans. They think he should apologize."

Switch back to Al Queda shots.

Voice over - "Remember these guys? They say some pretty hurtful things too, Mr. President. If you and your buddies are so scared of a little tough talk, how can we trust you to stand up for America?"

Switch back to Kerry, flexing and looking super tough.

Voice Over - "Vote for Kerry if you want someone tough. Vote Republican if you want a bunch of crybaby apology-askers."

There it is. I'll trust the Kerry campaign to compensate me fairly for my super brilliant idea.

Paul Greenberg asks the Tough Questions

Apparently France is still evil. And Greenberg assumes in his latest article that the foreign leaders that Senator Kerry was commenting on last week (when he said, "I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly but, boy, they look at you and say, 'You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that.") were from France. He suggests, as I did, that Kerry's use of the term leader may not mean the same thing as the head of the state.

Unlike me, however, Greenberg broadens the definition of the term leader to include newspaper editors. "Of course it doesn't have to be a government leader who's been whispering into John Kerry's ear. How about an insufferably smug editor like Jean-Marie Colombani of Le Monde, France's snootiest journal?" Hmmmmm. That doesn't make a lot of sense actually.

Greenberg then offers this touching (and by touching I mean stomach churning) historical analogy.

"Suppose, for example, that John Kerry hadn't been born in the United States but in Paris a generation or two earlier. What with all those Czech Jews in his family tree, would he have been rounded up with the other Jewish children and handed over to the Gestapo for transport to Buchenwald?

And today, would John Kerry's name and memory be as forgotten as the rest of France's collaborationist past? Instead of France's favorite candidate for president of the United States, would he be just one more part of a forgotten era? And one the French are only too happy to forget.

Well, we can suppose all sorts of things, can't we? Suppose Mr. Greenberg had been a pilot in World War II and had been stranded in France. And suppose he became one of the many pilots aided by the French Resistance to find safe escape back to England. Would he still be as critical of France as he is? Yes, of course he would. Past actions are really irrevelant; what matters is a nations ability to do whatever America (and by America I mean George W. Bush) says. If the French would just follow our lead blindly we'd let up on them. As long as they insist on acting like an independent nation that thinks for itself, well, they won't be on our Christmas Card List.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

What I can see from My Window

Here's what I can see from the window in my "computer room."

So as you can see things are going great. Sort of.

New Quote

And a New Quotes Page. Share and enjoy.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Your Weekly Rush, Again

Rush revealed this week that he wasn't raised very well. Apparently nobody ever taught him that wasting food was wrong and stupid; on Friday he related a story about going to a restaurant and leaving so much food behind he got questions from the waitress. What about all those starving kids in Africa and China Rush? You ever think of them?

He then, in a fan pleasing gesture, revealed that he never carries anything less than a $50 dollar bill. And somep people claim that he's out of touch with the common man. He had a $58 dollar lunch and gave the waitress $120 and let her keep the change (not sure how you get to $120 with out bills less than $50, but what do I know). Just in case you are not sure what to think of that that little story, Rush explains it to us.

". . . your observation should be, "you know, we misunderstand this Limbaugh guy. We think he's a racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe because he's conservative, but look how generous and caring and thoughtful he is about somebody who's not doing as well as he is!"

Thank you for telling us what we should think, O mighty one. Please keep regalling your fans with stories about how loaded you are and how much better off you are than all the rest of us poor slobs.

No I'm serious. I want to hear about how rough it is to be a drug user in America who never carries bills smaller than a $20.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Once 'Round the Horn

Good story from Archy on corruption in Texas. I particularly like the threat "You don't want to have the freakin' president of the United States mad at you for the rest of your life." Well yeah, but really, he's not going to be President the rest of his life. Is he?

Interesting discussion over at The Yellow Doggeral Democrat involving a sonic weapon recently deployed to Iraq.

In other news there are two new bloggers in the liberal coalition (which is kind of like the Superfriends, only with better parties. One of them is Bloggg. I don't know what the extra two g's stand for. Groovy Guy Perhaps? And he has an interesting article on Granny D, who if you don't know who she is, you should.

The other is called Musing's Musings which is very allitrative. He has a great explanation of why the Bush Attack Ads crumble in the face of reasson, which, unfortunately, does not make them unique in the history of Republican Attacks.

New World Blogger and Echidne of the Snakes both have well written and touching responses to the terrorist actions in Spain.

Pen-Elayne on the Web has comments on our wise and noble President's campaign stops. Turns out cheering crowds may occasionally not know what they are cheering for.

Words on a Page has uncovered a little tidbit on how President Bush's opinions have evolved since Law School. Like most evolution, his opinions will take hundreds of thousands of years before they evolve, apparently.

Respectful of Otters reports that Lauren Slater, who I had never heard of before, is a liar. The details are interesting though, as they involve behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner and uban legends.

Sooner Thought has an interesting article on how Republicans are controlling the terms of the debate by controlling the terms of the debate. Hmmmm. That could have been more clear. What I mean to say is that they are controlling the debate through controlling the language used.

Sometimes I worry that I'm over using the phrase "Interesting Article." But the feeling usually passes. More this afternoon. Maybe. Unless I get lazy.

Blast from the Past

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship. . . . Bipartisanship is another name for date rape." - Grover Norquist.

Something to keep in mind during this election season.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Your Weekly Rush!

Apparently if the election were held tomorrow, President Bush would win.

"I'm telling you if this election were held tomorrow Bush would win this by a much bigger majority than anybody in the media and any poll is showing right now. The fact that the election isn't tomorrow means that the polls that show John Kerry is up by four, eight, 12, or down by four don't mean diddlysquat. Because these polls are nothing more than a reflection of media coverage, media propaganda, if you will. And so everybody is all hot to trot here about all this, and it's unnecessary and it's irrational, because what's happening to propel this so-called John Kerry story is irrational."

So it's a good thing the election isn't being held tomorrow. In his own way Rush seems about as delusional as Ralph Nader. There's been a number of pools talking about how President Bush is in trouble; but they are irrelevant because, in Rush's Mind, there's a vast silent majority that is just waiting to vote for President Bush. Reminds me more than a little of the idea that Nader has put out that most unregistered voters would vote for him, if he got his message to them; they aren't part of the process because they don't like either party.

In both cases what's important isn't any statistical data; neither side has very much. Rush points to a poll that says that the number one issue is Homeland Security, and apparently that's a slam dunk issue for President Bush (Personally I'm not sold on that theory myself), but that's it.

There's a famous story the right wing likes to tell about Pauline Kael, New York Film Critic, who was surprised when Nixon beat McGovern because nobody she knew was going to vote for Nixon. One wonders if Rush might be falling into a similar self delusional trap. I personally hope so.

Ann Coulter's Latest

You remember back a year ago or a year and a half when Ann Coulter was writing about how Liberals who opposed the war on Iraq were basically traitors? One question that I and many others had was what about Anti War Conservatives and Libertarians (The Cato Institute at the time was putting out a steady stream of articles attacking the plan to invade Iraq)? Are conservatives who attack the war traitors too? Unfortunately, what with her busy schedule and all, as far as I know Ann never answered that particular question.

Well, in the issue du jour, The Passion, Ms. Coulter is apparently determined not to make the same mistake twice. So she slams into William Safire for his criticisms of the movie. She makes this wonderfully ahistorical argument. "With all the subtlety of a Mack truck, Safire called Gibson's movie a version of "the medieval 'passion play,' preserved in pre-Hitler Germany at Oberammergau, a source of the hatred of all Jews as 'Christ killers.'" (Certainly every Aryan Nation skinhead murderer I've ever met was also a devoted theater buff and "passion play" aficionado.)"

What a characteristic response! Ms. Coulter, the passion plays were a phenomenon of the Hitler regime (and the middle ages of course) and were used to incite that culture to hatred. Modern Skinheads wouldn't use them, because we now have Racist music and video games and, of course, the wonderful internet to bring them together. And we have "The Passion" which if one were a Skinhead, one might find it a confirmation of one's beliefs. Not that Mel Gibson should be held responsible for what viewers of his movie might bring into the theater with them, of course.

Ms. Coulter encourages Liberals to "get over" the Spanish Inquisition, because only 30,000 people were killed and Stalin killed a lot more than that. Although to be fair, Stalin did have the advantage of modern technology to assist him in his killings. I'm sure the Spanish Inquisition did the best they could.

What's also interesting is that I see no indication that Ms. Coulter has seen the movie. Instead of taking on what Mr. Safire says about the movie, she chooses to move the conversation to a discussion of what Christianity is; a story of salvation. That's all well and good, but it doesn't really answer the question of whether Mel Gibson's movie, along with telling that Jesus died for all mankind, also tells us that Jews did it and therefore they basically deserve what ever we chose to do to them.

Ms. Coulter begins her article with this paragraph, "William Safire, the New York Times' in-house "conservative" - who endorsed Bill Clinton in 1992, like so many conservatives - was sure Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" would incite anti-Semitic violence. Thus far, the pogroms have failed to materialize."

Well, I guess since we haven't started rounding up Jews and executing them, that there's nothing to worry about. Unless you live in Denver, perhaps (although it should be noted that hundreds of people from Denver also turned out en masse to help clean the Synagogue).

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

More on Gary Aldrich

I began the day with Tom Tomorrow so let's end it there too. For those of you who don't know Mr. Aldrich's past, he was the subject of this cartoon by Mr. Tomorrow. It's at Salon, so you might be subject to watching an ad before you can see it.

All this and Gary Aldrich Too!

Had quite a busy day today, for me anyway, and I didn't get to a story I came across first thing.

Here's the argument. "We must remain strong and respond smartly to attacks against American interests. We cannot simply open a new FBI investigation – we tried that tactic before, and it proved a deadly failure.

Three-thousand killed should provide sufficient “DNA evidence” supporting George W. Bush’s military approach.

Hmmmmmm. I'm not sure it does. I mean it provides data that the previous approach of President Bush ignoring terrorism because he hated President Clinton so much was a failure. It doesn't necessarily prove that any specific new approach will work.

I mean turn that around. What if some kooky liberal were to say, "We tried antagonizing other countries and pushing them around, and that approach proved a deadly failure. Three thousand killed should provide sufficient "DNA evidence" supporting a new approach in which we actually try to get along with other nations." Somehow I doubt that argument would convince Mr. Aldrich.

But wait, you say, there haven't been any terrorist attacks since September 11th. Doesn't that prove that President Bush's get tough approach is working? Again, not necessarily. Allow me to let Lisa Simpson explain.

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's spacious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
[Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]

Now who do you believe more, Gary Aldrich or Lisa Simpson?

Aldrich has more, mostly slanders on Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam, which I might get to later. Or not. We've heard it all before, so it may not sustain my interest.

A Quick Thought on Teaching

"To improve teaching, we must attract people of higher intellectual ability and we must make teacher salaries related to ability and effectiveness." - Walter E. Williams

In a surprising move I agree with Mr. Williams on this point. The problem comes in how you attract people of higher intellectual ability and how you make salaries related to ability and effectiveness. First of all, let's pay teachers more; that will attract people. Ambitious smart people don't go into teaching unless they are motivated by something besides money.

Basing salaries on how well they teach is a sick joke unless you raise the amount the can potentially earn well past what they currently earn. If the range is such that a dedicated hard working creative teacher can make a comfortable living; well than you will attract more people. If on the other hand you structure the system so that the best teachers make it to the lower middle class, and everybody else makes less, well, I know I wouldn't want to stick around in that system.

Tony Blankley and World Opinion

Just so you know it took me four minutes and eleven seconds to find out that the Prime Minister of Belgium is Guy Verhofstadt. Remember that. Four minutes, eleven seconds. It will come up later.

Blankley informs us today in his column that apparently Senator Kerry was talking to foreign heads of state who suggested that he needed to defeat President Bush in November. Mr. Blankley then asserted that he figured this was probably a lie since after an extensive review (more on Mr. Blankley's prowess at research later) Mr. Kerry just didn't have time to meet with any foreign leaders.

I suspect that this conversation turns on what foreign leaders mean; but to Mr. Blankley they mean heads of state, apparently. I mean it is far fetched to suppose that Kerry could have slipped in a meeting with Prime Minister Chirac, or chancellor Schroeder or Prime Minister Verhofstadt. But if he met with the French Ambassador? Is that a foreign leader? Or a member of the British parliament? Well you get the idea. By narrowing his search criteria Blankley makes Kerry look like a liar.

He goes on to eliminate our allies such as Britain, and states " . . . one has to assume that he (Mr. Kerry) is referring to France's Chirac, Germany's Schroeder, Russia's Putin, Belgium's whoever, etc. Mr. Putin is far too smart to bad mouth the president. So Sen. Kerry must be referring to Chirac, Schroeder or some of their lesser Euro-running dog lackeys."

Too bad Mr. Blankley didn't have an extra four minutes and eleven seconds, he might have been able to include Prime Minister Verhofstadt's name instead of the demeaning and insulting "whatever." Of course you might wonder if this lack of time also hampered his ability to determine if Sen. Kerry met with other foreign leaders.

He also states, "The American public rarely has put a particularly high value on the opinion of foreign leaders." This is true enough I suppose. I'm not sure, however, that we Americans are interested in being known as pushy jackasses. I mean if we could justifiably say we were keeping to ourselves, I guess that'd be one thing. But we aren't. Even discounting our military actions in the Middle East, we are involved in trade agreements with half the world, and in military alliances with a large part of them as well.

Mr. Blankley concludes with this crude imagery. "I am sure that M. Chirac will be glad to continue to kiss Mr. Kerry's hand -- as long as Mr. Kerry will kiss a lower, dorsal part of M. Chirac's anatomy. But I rather doubt John Kerry will get elected president by American voters while in that posture."

Let's imagine what Tony Blankley would be like as a neighbor, using his unique diplomatic style.

You hear a banging at the door in the middle of the night. You open the door and see Tony Blankley.

Blankley: "Look whoever you are . . . "

Verhofstadt: "My name is Verhofstadt. We've been neighbors for a couple of years."

Blankley: "Yeah, whatever. Look I'm going to beat the crap out of that guy down the street. Come with me."

Verhofstadt: "Why? What has he done?"

Blankley: "You remember when my car got stolen don't you?"

Verhofstadt: "You think he had something to do with that?"

Blankley: "Just come with me, dammit. I don't have time to argue. You're either with me or against me."

Verhofstadt: "You didn't really answer my question. I don't think this sounds like a good idea."

Blankley: "I'm not going to kiss your butt, jack! When I ask for help I expect you to give it."

Verhofstadt: "Well, I appreciate you not kissing my butt, but I'm not going to kiss yours either. I'm going back inside now."

Blankly stomps off muttering under his breath about what a bad neighbor Verhofstadt is. Any resemblance to people (other than Tony Blankley) or nations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Free Trade Madness

Well there's a sort of a feud going on between NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, which you can read all about here.

At the heart of the conflict is the debate over Free Trade. Free Trade is a complicated issue and like many complicated issues the loudest arguments are heard from the extremes. Friedman is 100% behind Free Trade and seems to have dedicated the last several columns to proving the outsourcing is great and doesn't hurt anybody (despite the obvious fact that it does. Tom Tomorrow's position is a bit more nuanced, but I can't recall a time when he was pro-free trade.

Let me stop for a moment and admit that I am combining several issues into one under the blanket term Free Trade, and I know it. Outsourcing is the current fulcrum for Free Trade discussions, as the WTO was a couple years ago.

I think that this issue is one in which the Moderate Liberal has an occasion to shine. On a lot of issues the moderate liberal inevitably looks like a watered down version of a "real" liberal. In this issue, however, the moderate liberal can take the more viable middle path. One that accepts free trade as part of the world, but one that rejects the laissez-faire head-in-the-sand approach of the conservative. Free Trade needs government oversight to ensure that it works for everybody and not just guys with corner offices in Manhattan.

Here's a fun conversation to have with Conservative Free Traders.

Bryant: So if I understand correctly, all the poor people are poor because they are lazy and have poor family values?

CFT: Yep.

Bryant: And that therefore we need to cut welfare and food stamps and unemployment insurance and so on?

CFT: Yep.

Bryant: And you favor companies moving their operations overseas and throwing their employees out of work in mass layoffs?

CFT: Yep.

Bryant: And you don't see any conflict between these views?

CFT: Nope.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Apparently I was wrong

Last week I posted a little story on an article by Dennis Prager that, I thought, equated Terrorists with those who support Same Sex Marriage.

Well apparently I wasn't the only one to come away from Mr. Prager's story with that impression, so this weeks article is about that article.

"So, for the record, I consider the great majority of supporters of same-sex marriage to be thoroughly decent people, and the great majority of supporters of Islamic terror to be loathsome.

But the fact that most supporters of same-sex marriage are thoroughly decent people with loving intentions, as opposed to supporters of Islamic terror who are filled with hate and love death, in no way denies my premise that both are waging war against Judeo-Christian civilization. And that was the subject of my article.

Any further insinuation that I morally equate the people who support same-sex marriage with those who engage in or support Muslim terror is either deliberate distortion or an indication of an inability to think critically.

That's convenient. He goes on, however, to divide the Pro Gay Marriage group into three groups. First you have the Secularist religion hating Liberals. Secondly, fuzzy headed dopes who have been duped by the first group with their talk of tolerance and fairness. Thirdly, Religious Liberals who are practically schizophrenic.

Of the religion hating liberals, he states, "They are animated by their fear and loathing of Bible-based Christians (and Jews) whom they regard as religious fanatics. Destroying the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage is one part of the secular Left's assault. Every vestige of Judeo-Christian America is targeted . . . " Hmmm. These sound like pretty bad guys. I wonder if Prager considers them part of the "vast majority" of Gay Marriage Supporters who are decent people? Or if he considers them the other part?

But for the record, nobody distorted you Mr. Prager. You knew how that article would read, and that's why you wrote it that way. You were clearly equating supporters of gay marriage and terrorists. You may not have consciously meant that (although that's hard to believe), and you certainly don't want people to think you meant that (which is understandable I guess). But that's what you were doing.

Damned if you Do, Damned if you Don't

David Limbaugh has helpfully set the limits of dirty politics in his latest article.

"We must understand that dirty campaigning is lying about or distorting your record or your opponent's record. It is not dirty to expose the truth about your policy positions and record or that of your opponent, even when it puts him in a negative light. Such an airing of the record is not only not dirty campaigning, it is essential to inform the electorate."

Let me unpack that for you. It's Dirty Campaigning when Senator Kerry attacks President Bush; it's clean campaigning when President Bush (or his many surrogates in the right wing media) attack Senator Kerry.

Let's take a couple of examples. Is it clean politics for President Bush or his surrogates to attack Senator Kerry's votes on defense spending? Apparently it is, according to the D. Limbaugh theory of Clean Campaigning. But just to be sure let's see what Fred Kaplan of Slate Magazine says about Kerry's voting record on defense.

"In other words, Kerry was one of 16 senators (including five Republicans) to vote against a defense appropriations bill 14 years ago. He was also one of an unspecified number of senators to vote against a conference report on a defense bill nine years ago. The RNC takes these facts and extrapolates from them that he voted against a dozen weapons systems that were in those bills. The Republicans could have claimed, with equal logic, that Kerry voted to abolish the entire U.S. armed forces, but that might have raised suspicions."

Hmmmm. Now I'm no expert in Dirty Campaigning the way Limbaugh is, but to me, this seems to indicate that perhaps some Republicans are not exactly presenting Senator Kerry's record accurately. I wonder if this counts as "lying about or distorting your record or your opponent's record?"

What am I thinking, these are Republicans!

Monday, March 08, 2004

More on the Passion

For those interested--here's an humorous article on the Passion.

Got it from the wonderful Pen-Elayne on the Web.

Blasts from the Past

"Our citizenry must remain armed to protect itself against its own poor judgment in electing such tyrants as President Clinton." - David Limbaugh, April 26, 2000

"It is really rather amazing that when the left is given a choice of attributing Al Gore's historic loss either to the unpopularity of Democratic ideas or to a pervert like Bill Clinton, it's Clinton they decide to save." - Ann Coulter, January 4, 2001.

"From corruption in the White House and Wall Street fraud to phony Middle East "peace accords," the unstated but guiding principles of the Clinton Era were that truth didn't matter, wealth needn't be earned and national security wasn't important." - Oliver North, October 4, 2002.

"Clinton announced he would take an office in Harlem.

As one of my friends remarked, that should be nice: Having escaped a mugging on the way to work, Clinton's female employees will then have to face an accused rapist in the office.
" - Ann Coulter, February 19, 2001.

Just in case you, like Mr. Greenberg (see below), were under the impression that we Liberals had somehow invented the idea of disdaining the President. Oh, and as we are entering the electoral season, let's remember these words from David Limbaugh.

"The candidates most critical of "negative campaigning" are generally those with the most to hide." - David Limbaugh, March 14, 2000

Television without Pity

"In a truly, truly great line, Assorama says, "Well, Heidi speaks her mind, but what's on her mind isn't always that appealing." HA HA HA! Brilliant. Thank you, Assorama, for rather succinctly explaining to this particular kind of personality -- the "you can't criticize me for anything I say as long as it's what I really think" kind -- that you are not interesting just because you are sincere."

If you like laughing and stuff, you should check out Television without Pity. Not every recapper is hillarious, but many of them are. My personal favorites are the Recaps for The Apprentice and for Boston Public. Both are very funny.

The line above comes from the recaps of the Apprentice.

Irrational Hatred

Paul Greenberg, demonstrating his ability to write the same article as everybody else, uses a popular Republican meme. His article is entitled "Will Hatred Be Enough?", and it contains this paragraph.

"The glue that holds Senator Kerry's campaign together will be a visceral dislike - no, a sheer hatred - of George W. Bush, his policies, his personality, his accent, the way he walks and talks and smiles and wears his belt buckle . . . [ellipses from original]

You see what Greenberg did there? He cleverly equated our disdain for Bush's policies with our dislike for his accent, personality and so on. In that way our disdain for his policies gets equated with our hatred for his belt buckle. Well I can't speak for any of my fellow liberals but I am way more concerned about President Bush's policies than his belt buckle.

I am concerned that President Bush's economy seems to reward those at the very top while the middle class and the lower class have to be constantly in fear of losing their job.

I am unconcerned about President Bush's accent.

I am concerned that President Bush's administration has basically abandoned Diplomacy as a tactic to achieve our global goals. The only negotiating we want to do is with the bayonet at our bargaining partners throat.

I am unconcerned about President Bush's wardrobe.

I am concerned about misdeeds done by Republicans including the outing of Valerie Plame and the stealing of confidential memos from Democratic members of congress (which may or may not have ties back to the White House, it turns out).

I am unconcerned about President Bush's smiles.

But of course I understand why Mr. Greenberg is doing this. The problems with President Bush's policies are so numerous and obvious, they need desperately to keep us from looking them over. One technique is to suggest that we are irrational haters, moved by insanity. Some intemperate comments made by a few liberals have given them fuel for this argument. But of course they have to pretend ferociously that we are all irrational in our disdain for President Bush. But most of us aren't. And your attempt to keep the failures of Mr. Bush's policies off the table will not work.

But, please, keep trying.