Monday, May 31, 2004

Revealing my Findings

After conducting my research, I have come to the following conclusion.

Dogs have little to no sense of rhythm.

Of course I could be wrong.

So what do you think?

That's the nice thing about a comments section, I get to find out instantly how badly I've screwed up. I still have a few more changes to make this afternoon.

Need to upload my new Logo

Here it is. A sneak preview.

Big Changes today

So if something doesn't work entirely correctly, that's why. Hope to get it all back up soon.

Memorial Day

This is one of Rudyard Kiplings well known poems.


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
.....O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
.....But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play -
.....The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
.....O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
.....For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
.....But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide -
.....The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
.....O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
.....Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
.....But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll -
.....The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
.....O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
.....While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
.....But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind -
.....There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
.....O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
.....For it's Tommy this an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
.....But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
.....An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
.....An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

The Publican is what we would call a bartender, and the Public House is a bar. The Widow of the Widow's Uniform was Queen Victoria.

I've decided not to do any commentary on the poem, only to suggest that readers not assume that my opinions line up perfectly with Mr. Kiplings nor are they entirely dissimilar.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

New Quote

Here's your new quote, and of course, a new Quotes Page.

And for good measure, another Lamp!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

An Interview with Senator Kerry

Light Posting today, because I'm a little out of it, but I did want to point you towards an interview Senator Kerry gave to Salon Magazine.

But you voted in October 2002 to give Bush the authority to use force in Iraq. Was that vote a mistake?

No. My vote was the right vote. If I had been president, I would have wanted that authority to leverage the behavior that we needed. But I would have used it so differently than the way George Bush did.

Would there have been a war in Iraq if you had been president?

I can't tell you that. If Saddam Hussein hadn't disarmed and all the world had decided that he was not living up to the standards, who knows? You can't answer that hypothetical. But I can tell you this. I would never have rushed the process in a way that undoes the meaning of going to war "as a last resort."

And that's what you thought you were authorizing -- war as a last resort?

Absolutely. You know, we got a set of promises: We're going to build an international coalition, we're going to exhaust the remedies of the U.N., respect that process and go to war as a last resort. Well, we didn't.

And not only [did we] not go to war as a last resort, they didn't even make the plans for winning the peace. They disregarded them. They disregarded [U.S. Army General Eric] Shinseki's advice, disregarded Colin Powell's advice, disregarded the State Department's plan. The arrogance of this administration has cost Americans billions of dollars and too many lives.

The argument that the administration disregarded and disrespected the military seems to resonate strongly with the people who come to see you.

Well, the truth is the truth. The truth has a force of its own. I'm just going out there and telling the truth.

Anyway hope you are having a nice memorial day, and you can look forward to a new look on Monday.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Your Weekly Lamp

Although since you already got one or two this week, this might be more often than weekly. Still I sometimes comment on Rush Limbaugh more than once in a week so I guess it's ok.

Something Else You Might Find Interesting

Representative Henry A. Waxman (D, California) has prepared a website to provide, as it puts it, "a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice."

Well worth reviewing.

You weekly Rush

Posted on this in the last post, but now that Rush Limbaugh has updated his website to reflect the contents of todays show, I can post the actual quote.

"Fom the Vietnam War on, the modern era of the Democratic Party does not believe in a victorious America and will undermine a victorious America because they think it's somehow sinful for the U.S. to be the lone superpower. And if you add a political year, an election year, and a president they absolutely despise and hate, then you have them appearing as though they actually are siding with our enemies. Now, they will say, "Don't you dare challenge my patriotism" and I will say we're not, we're challenging your judgment. But you will tell me, how would, if you were siding with our enemies, be any different? From what you're doing now?"

Here's the link.

What I Would Do Differently If I Were Someone Completely Different!

Driving around at lunch today listening to the Rush Limbaugh show. Rush was talking about Democrats and walking a very fine line. See, if Rush comes out and says that Democrats are more or less Terrorists than there would be an uproar. On the other hand, Rush clearly thinks Democrats are more or less Terrorists, or in the same realm as terrorists.

So here's how he finessed the issue today. After making it clear that he wasn't challenging our patriotism, but our reasoning, he commented, "What would you do differently if you were supporting the terrorists?"

Provocative question. When I first heard it, it almost provoked me to jam my fist through my windshield. But let's consider it seriously for a moment.

The flip answer is to contrast what the Terrorists want with what President Bush wants. The terrorists are pretty well convinced that God (or Allah) is on their side. They want to engage the United States in war, because they don't believe that Allah will allow them to lose. So if I were an American believer of this particular Islamist philosophy, I suppose I would strongly support President in his choice to engage the Muslim World in a military struggle.

Of course I would applaud the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison; after all such abuse is only going to bring more recruits to the cause I and Osama bin Ladin believe in (if I were allied with Osama bin Ladin, which in real life I'm not). Why I might even try to minimize it with such statements as, "Who are these guys [detainees at Abu Ghraib]? They're shooting at Americans. They have attempted to kill Americans. You've got to put this stuff in perspective. It has to be put in context."

I suppose if I were in philosophical agreement with Osama bin Ladin I would look upon the candidacy of John Kerry with a certain amount of trepidation. I would think I could count on President Bush to invade Syria or Iran (or possibly both). But John Kerry is a fish of a different scale. I'm not sure I can count on a continual belligerence towards the Middle East with Kerry in the White House. Plus any fool should realize that much of al-Qaeda's funding and support comes from Saudi Arabia, a country with which President Bush has close ties, and one which he is unlikely to get tough with. On the other hand, Kerry, lacking such ties, might be tempted to crack down on Saudi Arabia.

But I suppose that's not really the way I'm supposed to respond to Rush's statement. Instead I'm supposed to think, "My God! What a fool I've been. By trying to get John Kerry in the white house, and by criticizing the mistakes of the Bush Administration, I'm clearly no better than a terrorist. Maybe I'd better call my local FBI office and turn myself in."

'Round the Horn Issue 15 - Lobsters Ate My Femur

Not sure what that title means, but it came to me, so I had to put it up there. At any rate, check out these other bloggers.

Steve Bates, The Yellow Doggerel Democrat has the scoop on another useful technique our soldiers are using to extract information from a people we are trying to liberate. We're taking hostages, apparently.

bloggg has an interesting and well written reaction to Dr. Cosby's speech earlier in the week.

Kick the Leftist has a well reasoned response to those who would argue that we should spend less time on Abu Ghraib and more time on Nick Berg. He also has a great post on the Washington Time's coverage of Bush's falling off a bike.

Ricks Cafe Americaine has a piece on the passing of Doug Pappas.

Sooner Thought has a piece on efforts to get Rush Limbaugh off of Armed Forces Radio. While I generally take a hardline against censorship in any form, this might be a special case due to the lack of balance (there's no aggressively liberal counterbalance to Rush's rantings), and due to the lack of media options available in the armed services.

Echidne of the Snakes has a bit on advertising, and how it sometimes promotes values that run counter to sanity.

Rooks Rant has a comparison of President Bush to a certain Monty Python Character.

Respectful of Otters has an interesting point on the idea of government privatizing their services. Namely, there is a conflict between the companies need to protect it's secret and the publics right to know what's going on with their money. She also has a good follow up post here.

blogAmy has an anecdote on unsolicited phone calls, and an intriguing question related to said anecdote.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Analyzing Ann

I'm taking a bit more scientific approach to analyzing Ann Coulter's latest column. I've broken it down sentence by sentence. Her latest column is generally about how the war in Iraq is going better than we think it is, but it is only Liberal and Media perfidity that keeps you from knowing this. So I broke Ann's sentences (there were forty three of them) into three groups. Those that were attacks on liberals, those that were reports of positive progress, and those that were more or less neutral.

Obviously a tough distinction, but by my analysis, 10 sentences were neutral (or 23%), 13 were positive (or 30%) and 20 were attacks (47%, nearly half). So Ann Coulter is more interested, at least in this article, in attacking liberals than she is in putting forward any positive program or defense of President Bush.

It doesn't help that a number of Ann's positive statements seem factually challenged. For example, she continues to suggest that Saddam Hussein reached out to Osama Bin Ladin, despite the lack of proof (and the pretty consistent debunking of "proofs" her colleagues have put forward.

Ms. Coulter also suggests that we have found weapons of mass destruction. Someone should pass that information along to the Bush Campaign so they can trumpet it. I mean if we really did find caches of Weapons of Mass Destruction that threatened the United States, well, that's something the American People ought to know before they go into their voting booths in November. Unless, of course, Ann is referring to discredited reports.

She also spends a lot of time knocking down arguments made by Mr. Nicolas Kristol before the war. Easy enough to do, I suppose. Apparently Mr. Kristol thought our troops would face stiffer resistance from Iraqi troops, but we actually beat the Iraqi army pretty quickly. Apparently Mr. Kristol thought that capturing Hussein would be dangerous and cost the lives of many men, but we caught him easily and without it being bloody. Nice little strawman argument as it doesn't answer any of the questions about the difficulty of occupying Iraq. I mean, I'm certainly glad we beat the Iraqi Army and National Guard, but I kind of expected that, truth to tell.

On the other hand the current phase of our occupation of Iraq is proving to be a bit more difficult.

On the attack side, she calls Liberals and the media (which, just to be clear, are one and the same) Liars, Pusillanimous, womanly, and 1984 style toltalatarians. She also suggests that if the terrorists invaded Manhattan, it would immediately surrender. I wonder why Ann hates Americans so much. Or at least Americans who happen to live in New York City. Or who happen to be liberal.

Our New National Pastime!

What a grabber of a headline! It grabbed me when I saw Larry Elder use a variation on it for his article this week. But it wasn't as good as mine, because he revealed the new national pastime right in the title. See I made you read a few lines before revealing, but his title gives it right away; "Bashing President Bush takes over as our No. 1 national pastime."

He then quotes a number of harsh words spoken by members of the press, but then presents anecdotal evidence that many don't like Bush. The examples are
- A friend's doctor, who compared Bush to a "little monkey."
- A guest at a small house party who said, "That clown, Bush, has to go."
- A house painter, working for Elder, who asked what he thought of our "idiot president."
- A person who refused to talk to a Bush supporter.
- A waiter who was berated as being a Bush Supporter because he was screwing up an order.

These are all pretty regrettable incidents, and I have to say that the people in these stories, particularly the last two, aren't all that great. But, and this is a big but, I disagree with Elder when he places the blame entirely on the Democratic side of the fence. I myself have received mild abuse (along these lines) for my support of the Democratic Party, and there are others who have received much worse.

I have to say that the conservative movement to a much greater extent than the liberal movement has created the intellectual framework that supports such actions. Perhaps Mr. Elder should spend some time reading the works of Ann Coulter, or listening to Michael Savage.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Love Can Damage Your Health

And on that note, here's a picture of a lamp.

Mistakes were Made

I would imagine a lot are going to be pointing to this story in the New York Times, in which they admit they may have echoed the administration line a little to closely in the run up to the war in Iraq. Kind of a sad day for the paper.

Hooray for Hollywood

Linda Chavez writes an article today on the way movies used to be.

"Remember when movies aimed to entertain? You could take the whole family, from grandma to the kids, and escape the quotidian for the silver screen, watching bigger-than-life heroes engage in daring and admirable deeds. Or you could share a few G-rated laughs without worrying about offensive double-entendres or scatological references."

She then rips into three movies. Michael Moores "Fahrenheit 9/11" which many on the conservative side of the fence don't think you should be allowed to see, "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Shrek 2." The first two movies are bad because of their political message, "Shrek 2" is bad because the voice of the ugly step sister is Larry King (which makes her a cross dresser apparently. I don't see it myself, I just thought that was part of being the "ugly" stepsister.).

Her criticisms of Michael Moore's movie as an indictment of Hollywood don't make a lot of sense. Moore has always made independent and highly personalized films. To criticize Michael Moore for doing what he's always done is like criticizing John Woo for having a lot of Gun Fights, or criticizing Frank Capra for his upbeat assessment of the American Character. It's what they do.

As for "The Day after Tomorrow," I'm a bit torn. I mean to me the set up sounds like a great premise for a disaster movie. And the visuals from the previews are pretty astounding. But in for a penny, in for a pound. How do you do a movie with massive climate change without it being an environmental picture? So does that mean that any story that might have political implications shouldn't be filmed? Tricky one that, although I suspect that what it works out to is any story that might have liberal political implications should not be filmed.

As for some wish for us to go back to some Hollywood Golden Age, firstly it's not possible, secondly, movies of that time generated just as much criticism for their political messages as movies do today. Look at good old "Citizen Kane," for example.

While we're on the subject of films, let's check in with good old PABAAH (Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti American Hollywood). Well, Jane Fonda and Barbara Streisand are going to be staring in movies that you aren't supposed to see. In other shocking news, George Clooney held a fund raiser for his father. Just so you know, any celebrity who donates to the Democratic Party or any Democratic candidate is anti American (according to PABAAH). Some Madonna fans weren't satisfied with her latest performance, so she should refund the money she received, and just play her old timey songs. And a couple articles about how much they hate Michael Moore.

Failure is not an Option!

So speaks Cal Thomas today, in an article praising President Bush's speech Monday night for "thinking big." He then goes on to say, in short, "Hey support President Bush or else get blown up, you idiots." But why be short when I can fill up inches quoting him.

"I wonder if those who have switched from approval to disapproval of President Bush in the polls fully understand what is at stake in Iraq. Failure is not an option. If the United States fails to achieve its objectives, we might as well issue printed invitations for the terrorists to turn up the heat. They will surely gain new recruits and be emboldened to stage more outrageous attacks.

It is important for some of those nations that have carped and lobbed rhetorical missiles from the sidelines at U.S. policy in Iraq to participate in rebuilding that country. Terrorism is a threat to every nation, including the surrender monkeys who think they can buy off the killers through appeasement. No free nation is safe from them, and if they aren't coming after certain nations now, they will later unless they are stopped.

The first step to convincing someone to agree with you is reminding them how stupid they are to disagree with you in the first place. That always works. Once people realize how stupid you think they are, they will quickly inquire as to how they can change their opinions to match yours.

Cal Thomas uses this technique by suggesting that those who disapprove of President Bush don't understand the situation, and by suggesting that those nations who don't agree with President Bush are "surrender monkeys" and appeasers. Gosh I feel like agreeing with Mr. Thomas already. But let's look at his argument.

Interesting how Mr. Thomas and some liberal critics of the occupation of Iraq see things differently. Mr. Thomas assumes that al-Qaeda will have an easier time recruiting if we leave Iraq because they won't be afraid of us. I'm not sure how that works (why would suicide bombers be afraid of us anyway. Are they worried we might kill them?). And some liberal critics suggest that if we stop occupying Iraq and, you know, doing the bad things we are doing, that they will be less likely to focus on us. I'm not sure either is a viable option (preferring the plan of the next President of these United States, John Kerry).

His paragraph directed to other nations (by which, we assume he means France) is the same old game. It's called the force. It's an old magicians trick to get you to pick the item the magician wants you to. In this case, Thomas presents exactly two options for fighting Terrorists; complete devotion to President Bush and any plan he chooses to follow or capitulation to the terrorists. Those are your only two options France. And, one would assume, those are our only two options as citizens of the United States.

Of course we can look forward to this argument all summer long; a vote for Kerry is a vote for surrender. But in order for that argument to work, President Bush's conduct in the War on Terror has to be pretty unimpeachable. And, as I'm sure you've noticed, it's not. Even if you think invading Iraq was a good idea, it's clear that President Bush and his foreign policy staff failed to prepare properly for the war. It's clear that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted to fight this war on the cheap, and so failed to plan for contingencies that were predicted before the war, and have since come to pass. So maybe President Bush isn't the only solution to the world terrorism problem.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Another great article by Paul Krugman

I'd advise reading the whole thing, which covers recent economic news. Mr. Krugman takes the novel step of providing a website where one can verify his claims. Not a bad idea.

It ends with these words.

"In April, the economy added 288,000 jobs. If you do the math, you discover that President Bush needs about four years of job growth at last month's rate to reach what his own economists consider full employment.

The bottom line, then, is that Mr. Bush's supporters have no right to complain about the public's failure to appreciate his economic leadership. Three years of lousy performance, followed by two months of good but not great job growth, is not a record to be proud of.

Still I've noticed that Rush Limbaugh and other conservative figures have been suggesting since President Bush took office that the economy was in recovery or had recovered, and the Media was hiding the truth from you.

The President's Big Speech

Here's a link to the speech, if you missed it (as I did). A couple of random thoughts.

The President continues to link 9/11 to Iraq. Obviously nobody's proven a direct link, and it's very frustrating to some to hear the president making this connection. But, if I understand him correctly, the President may not see a direct link, but an indirect link.

Still, given what we know about the build up to this war, it's clear that the Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq regardless of what happened. Kind of like that old saw about Bush's economic policy ("We have a surplus and the economy is going great; thus we should give out tax cuts." "We have a deficit and the economy is stalling; thus we should give out tax cuts.")

There's also the question of how much sovereignty the new Iraqi government is going to have if we continue to occupy that country, and they have no control over our comings and goings. The real power of the new Iraqi government will not be the support of the people, but ability to influence the American occupiers. Which is, in the long term, going to drain legitimacy from the new government like a sieve.

The New York Times has a good assessment I think.

"It's regrettable that this president is never going to admit any shortcomings, much less failure. That's an aspect of Mr. Bush's character that we have to live with. But we cannot live without a serious plan for doing more than just getting through the June 30 transition and then muddling along until the November elections in the United States. Mr. Bush has yet to come up with a realistic way to internationalize the military operation and to get Iraq's political groups beyond their current game of jockeying for power and into a real process of drafting a workable constitution."

There were things to like in President Bush's speech, but there were far more generalities than specifics. One might argue that this contrasts more or less equitably with his democratic rival, John Kerry. The difference is that Kerry has provided more specifics, and, more to the point, he's not the President now. Whatever we may think of President Bush as a candidate, he is, in fact, the current president. And therefore he's responsible for running our campaign against terrorism. So it's more of a problem when he fails to provide specifics.

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Latest Kerry Besmircher

edwardpig has the lowdown on the latest brave soldier to come forward and slander future President Kerry. Go check it out!

I was fighting in the sky

Here's my latest lamp. It's metallic.

If any of you have any cool lamp pictures you'd like me to post or photoshop e-mail them to me. And I'll do the rest.

Hip Hip hypocrisy!

Sam asks Bruno and Connie, "Do you know what we're talking about here?" There's a lot of repetitious back-and-forth here while everyone ascertains that everyone knows what everyone else is talking about, which is, as Sam puts it, "unlimited, unregulated money that can be raised in staggering amounts." Sam states, "Understand, it's not like there's a law that envisions soft money; it's just that there's no law that specifically bans it. It's a loophole so big you could race the America's Cup through it. How could the President be opposed to soft money one year and take it the next? Where's he going to be on campaign finance reform tomorrow?" Bruno replies, "Exactly where he is today: leading the charge against it. In the meantime, Congress and the FEC have been sitting on their hands. Is that our fault?" Connie dutifully states, "No." Bruno continues, "So now Bartlet's supposed to obey a law that doesn't exist? What's next, imaginary speed signs?"
- Television Without Pity, Recap of The West Wing Episode, "Gone Quiet"

Once again we have helpful conservatives encouraging liberals to chop their legs off. You know those helpful folks who have suggested that if you claim to be a liberal and you aren't giving any excess income you earn to the government, you are a hypocrite. Who suggest that any wealthy liberal, or any upper middle class liberal, is by definition a hypocrite. Who suggest that any criticism of the president is dirty campaigning and hypocrisy (after all Liberals didn't like it when they were accusing President Clinton of murdering Vince Foster and raping White House staffers, so we shouldn't go around saying that his plans for post-war Iraq were largely based on fairytales and faulty intelligence).

Well, now that Senator Kerry, who may be our president down the road, is acting like he wants to win this race, well, they think he's a hypocrite. Or so a Wall Street Journal editorialist suggests.

"Even better, this Kerry trial balloon exposes campaign-finance limits as a monumental farce. The Kerry camp is considering this maneuver so it can keep raising and spending money as long as possible without having to abide by spending limits that kick in once a party formally nominates its candidate. . . .

This is always the way with campaign-finance limits. Politicians endorse them to sound holier-than-thou but then immediately turn around and exploit or invent loopholes and exceptions.

Of course, this person presumably has little problem with the Republican party scheduling their convention so late so as to take advantage of September 11th celebrations. The fact of the matter is that Senator Kerry is not suggesting anything illegal or immoral. He's suggesting running his campaign the same way President Bush is running his campaign. Now I might agree that it would be nice if both parties agreed to a set limit to how much they could spend, but I know that they aren't.

Secondly President Bush's campaign staff is channeling his money into flatly dishonest campaign ads. I don't need to go over this again, but the accusations against Kerry's voting record on defense have been met. If President Bush is going to continue to air such negative ads and John Kerry goes off the stump (as this editorialist would suggest) than how is he to answer these charges? The answer is obvious, he won't be able to. I can understand how this Wall Street Journal Editorialist would enjoy that, but I'm not sure it's the best strategy for Kerry to follow.

I mean lets take this argument to it's logical conclusion. Liberals are well known for complaining about the negative influence of money in governing. So why is Kerry spending any money at all running his campaign. Doesn't that make him a hypocrite? He should just spend as little as possible if he's going to be true to what conservatives think liberal ideals are.

On the other hand, maybe I'd best not give them any ideas.

I Told You!

I have always suggested that I was a Centrist Democrat. Others have suggested I was a liberal zombie or a secret freeper. But now I have scientific Proof. According to this test, I am a 32 on Non-Fiscal Issues (with 1 being completely liberal and 100 being completely conservative) and a 24 on Fiscal Issues.

So take the test yourself and see where you stand. You may be pleasently surprised. Or not. What do I know?


In the grand scheme of things this may be a small story, but let's look it over anyway.

Daily Kos reported that Bush fell at the end of a 17 Mile bike ride. One of Bush's flacks commented. "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose. You know this president. He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."

I'm not sure why I should care whether or not the President was whistling show tunes, but let that go. The main point is that it was raining a lot. Except, as the Daily Kos's research shows, it really wasn't.

A couple of months ago, Future President Kerry was skiing in aspen and he took a tumble. He cussed out the secret service agent who, apparently, knocked him over, and the whole incident was, according to right wing columnists, an insight into his character. Among other things it showed that he was an elitist (because he played expensive sports like skiing instead of throwing the football around) and ungrateful (because his secret service agent is sworn to take a bullet for him).

So you have to ask yourself, what does this experience teach us about President Bush's character. President Bush, or one of his handlers, chooses to lie about falling down, particularly this sort of lie that is relatively easy to investigate. Why not just admit error, instead of trying to make this tumble about the strength of his character?

Sunday, May 23, 2004

These Heavy Notions Creep Around

I had the most number of hits in a single day on Friday, and also more hits than normal over the weekend. Things are really lifting off here at "Make me a Commentator!!!"

Don't think I don't know why that is. My new policy of putting up photoshopped pictures of lamps is drawing you like flies to the honey. Not that I intend to insinuate that there is anything fly-like about my readers. No, I've always thought of you as some of those rare Amazonion beatles--the kinds with really intricate shells.

Anyway, here's another picture of a lamp.

New Quote

There's a new quote up at the top, and of course a new Quotes Page. And in honor of this weeks quote, here's a picture of a lamp.

You might also swing over and check out this post at Respectful of Otters. Paints a bit of a scary picture.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Gravity Flows on the Power Lines

The difference between Liberals and Limbaugh Conservatives is this. Liberals think that they're right. Limbaugh Conservatives know that they're right.

This is not an insignificant difference. If you only think you are right, but you admit the possibility of error, well, than it makes sense to pay attention to people who disagree with you, doesn't it? I mean you could be wrong. So why not listen to their arguments.

On the other hand if you know you are right what's the point to listening to anybody but yourself? Well the one value is to use other sources to convince people who don't agree with you to agree with you. But of course that's a very different exercise than reading other sources to see if they have a good argument. I admit it's an exercise I sway into at times, given the nature of this site.

That's why Tony Blankley can speak quite comfortably about sedition laws. He knows the country isn't ready for him, but that doesn't change his opinion that they would be a good idea. I mean if there is one right answer, and he has it, why bother allowing people to express opinions that are only going to hurt our war effort. I mean if it is, to borrow the Kantian Term, a categorical imperative to continue to support the President, than anybody who expresses disagreement with the President or the course of action he's taken is, by definition, a traitor.

Which brings us to Rush Limbaugh yesterday.

"And I'm going to tell you something, folks, I don't watch mainstream media anymore. And I can't tell you, I don't watch them at night. I got them on in here now, but this is work. The only part of this job that's work is, you know, glancing up as these TV monitors now and then to find out what the hell they're saying when I'm engaged in getting the truth out. When I get home at night I so rarely turn this stuff on. I can't tell you the last time I've watched one of the big three networks and I am not kidding, and I haven't read the New York Times in a long time, and I haven't read the Washington Post in a long time, and I haven't read Time or Newsweek or U.S. Snooze. It isn't necessary anymore. You can cherry pick things from those publications; do a key word search on the Internet. You don't need to go through all the gibberish and garbage that's there. You can find what's relevant that might be interesting or whatever."

Great news eh? Now there's no reason to listen to stories and facts that contradict your opinion. All you have to do is listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Cal Thomas and Glen Beck, watch Fox News, read the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, and you don't run much of a risk of hearing an opinion you don't already agree with. Now to me, because I know I might be wrong, this seems like a somewhat horrifying prospect. I mean once you admit the possibility of error, well, you want to hear what the other side is saying.

But the Limbaugh Conservative admits no possibility of error.

"Let me tell you what is happening here. And I know this because I am living it. You have the red and blue states where the country is supposedly more divided than ever, and more partisan than ever. Well, guess what? You have a red and blue media now."

Rush Limbaugh paints a happy picture of the future victory of conservatism over liberalism, which is nice I suppose.

He might be right, but I don't necessarily think it's going to be his brand of conservatism. Let's face it Rush has been telling his audience that the economy has turned around since 5 minutes after Bush was Elected. He sold them on the idea that to fight terrorism we had to invade Iraq, and now that that's going south, he's trying to sell them on the idea that things there are going great.

The Limbaugh Conservatives have never had a better chance to implement their agenda. President Bush is as close to an extreme right wing president as we've had. They have control over Congress, they have the Supreme Court, they have new and better ways to get their message out, and so on and so forth. It's hard for them to pull of that oppressed minority gambit they used to love so much.

And yet with all this opportunity to win over the American people, the race in November is still neck and neck. I suspect that the Limbaugh conservatives are going to be over taken by the traditionalist conservatives and by libertarian conservatives who are frustrated at the arrogant foreign policy of the Bush Administration. But who knows?

Look into the Stars

Another Lamp Picture, but then we have a long post coming later on. Assuming I don't get disheartened writing it.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Trying to Look Like You Don't Try

It's another lamp. Or it's the same lamp, but different.

Hey remember to check the other people in the liberal coalition; many of them are more articulate and witty and knowledgable than I am. Very few of them, however, have photoshopped pictures of lamps.

You ever have one of those days where you wonder if it would really be all that different if you were to go crazy?

Anyway I did a mini blog around earlier, or you can look at those links on the side.

It's only going to get worse

Great post by Joshua Micah Marshall over at Talking Points Memo.

A selection;

"How'd we get into this? After 50 years of pretty consistently prudential foreign policy, managed mostly on a consensus of bipartisan agreement (yes, there are exceptions, but by and large, true), they decided to bet the national ranch on an idea. Actually it was a series of ideas, wrapped together in an odd tangle that could look like an odd jumble when viewed from outside. The key, however, was betting the national ranch on steep odds.

Only, they weren't confident the country would get behind such a riverboat gamble. So they lied about what they were doing. They didn't trust the people -- which might be an epitaph we should return to.

Now, what do we expect of people who make reckless gambles with other people's money? Of people who can't discipline themselves enough to distinguish between their hopes and reality? What do you expect of that ne'er-do-well relative who's always hitting you up for a loan because he's come up with a sure thing?

Of course it's possible that things will improve in Iraq and everyone will settle down. Who knows what the future holds? But I'm afraid that I don't think that's very likely. The more likely future is that things get worse and conservatives continue to blame people who didn't want to invade Iraq in the first place for their failures.

Around the Horn

And Then . . . has the somewhat shocking revelation that there might be a bit of corruption in the Bush Administration. This case specifically involves a pro Bush Press release presented as actual news.

Bark Bark Woof Woof has a piece on the new Kerry Campaign Slogan "Let America be America Again."

It's Craptastic! has a bluesy little riff involving Diebold's Voting Machines and the movie High Fidelity.

Trish Wilson's Blog has a philosophical exploration of the concepts of envy and jealousy, coupled with Jante's Laws and the intractable nature of human nature.

Speedkill has an article on Kerry's supposed Flip-Flops and how they are not really anything of the sort.

The Fulcrum has a story about how the Abu Ghraib Prison story and the perceived lack of forthrightness on the part of the American Press might taint other stories in the middle east (such as the reported attack on a wedding party).

Steve Gilliard's News Blog has a piece on the aforementioned attack on a wedding party.

Collective Sigh suggests another parallel between Iraq and Vietnam.

Iddybud has a treatise on Michael Savage. I don't deal much with Michael Savage because he kind of freaks me out, but he is just as much a part of the right wing hate machine as Ann Coulter, and important in his own way.

And check out the rest of the Liberal Coalition, as well as our new main page.

Lamp Picture Number 9

I call this one, Nightvision Lamp. Which of course, begs the question. If you have night vision, why do you need a lamp? It's Irony. And that's what makes it art!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Honey Moon is Over

"The U.S. command in Baghdad raided Ahmed Chalabi's home and headquarters in Baghdad at dawn today. U.S. soldiers put a gun to his head, according to his nephew Salem Chalabi, the Associated Press reports. Chalabi aides blame the CIA and Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Why did the Bush administration turn against its former favorite Iraqi? Almost certainly because it realized that Chalabi, maddened by the realization that he was being excluded from the post-June 30 hand-over arrangements, was putting together a sectarian Shiite faction to destabilize and destroy the new Iraqi government. "This all started since [U.N. envoy Lakhdar] Brahimi announced that Chalabi would be kept out of the new arrangement," says an Iraqi political observer who is not only long familiar with Chalabi himself but also in close touch with key actors, including U.S. officials at the CPA and Iraqi politicians."

- Andrew Cockburn, "Ahmed Chalabi's failed coup"

"Reporters who entered the office compound after the departure of the Americans and Iraqi officers found a scene of destruction. Computers had been ripped out of the walls, furniture had been overturned, doors broken down and framed photographs of Mr. Chalabi smashed. Aides to Mr. Chalabi said members of the raiding party had helped themselves to food and beverages from the refrigerator.

According to Mr. Chalabi's aides, the Americans are looking for two men close to the Iraqi politician, one of whom is Mr. Chalabi's security chief and presides over a vast intelligence network.

American occupation authorities declined to comment this morning on the raids.

"This is politically motivated intimidation," said an aide to Mr. Chalabi as he wandered through the debris-strewn offices of the Iraqi National Congress, Mr. Chalabi's political organization. He blamed L. Paul Bremer III, the top American adminstrator here, for the raids.

"Bremer," he said, "has lost his mind."

- Dexter Filkins and Kirk Semple, "G.I.'s and Iraqis Raid Offices and Home of Former Exile Leader."

Of course Ahmed Chabili was a key source of intel during the run-up to the Iraqi War. In particular he helped craft "the roses and candy scenario" under which grateful Iraqis would prove easy to govern. Of course this scenario is partially responsible for several logistical failures including the well known lack of armored vests.

Still I'm sure they'll have this all cleaned up by June 20th, so we can turn control of Iraq over.

How To Save Star Wars?

Christopher Bahn wrote an article (for MSNBC.COM) today about how the last movie in the Star Wars Line (Episode 3) could be saved.

Among the more tongue in cheek suggestions are hiring Ed Wood as director and ripping of Kurosawa again (as Lucas did (although he denies it) for A New Hope). But obviously the key suggestion is getting rid of George Lucas.

It is frustrating as a fan of the series to consider that Mr. Lucas is not producing the movies one would really enjoy. I mean you could find more inventiveness and genuine fun in 15 minutes of A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, than you could in the whole of A Phantom Menace. Attack of the Clones was saddled with a terribly lame romantic subplot involving one of the most unappealing actors I've ever seen (Christopher Hayden). But if you buy the DVD, skip past those scenes and just watch the Obi Wan stuff, it's not too bad. But certainly could have been better.

The problem with all this is that, at the end of the day, it's Lucas's franchis. I mean he created Star Wars, so as much as we might wish it otherwise, he'll create Star Wars III (Title to be named later). That's part of the price we paid for the enjoyment of the first trilogy. In the same sense that the thrills of the Matrix also contained the disappointments of the Matrix Revolutions.

But I still think they ought to recast Anniken Skywalker.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Hey! It's a Lamp!

Yep, another picture of a lamp. I just can't get enough of this theme I've selected.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Ms. Kathleen Parker isn't happy with the current state of affairs.

"When I was a kid, we were taught a few rules, among which was never talk about religion or politics in polite company.

Rarely have such quaint rules felt more timely. The heat of recent months amid increasingly bad news from Iraq has divided Americans as never before.

. . . These days I'd rather spend a night in Abu Ghraib, preferably absent Lynndie England, than talk politics at a dinner party. Friends report crossing streets unnecessarily to avoid a Rumsfeld debate. Longtime acquaintances take a silent measure of one another: Are you one of "them" or one of "us"?

I don't get the chance to go to many dinner parties, but I take Parker's point. I mean you read the articles of Ann Coulter or David Limbaugh or Tony Blankley, you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage, and it's clear that there's a large segment of the conservative punditocracy that hates liberals and wants to see us eliminated.

But of course that's not what Parker is talking about is it? Instead she's mad that Senator Edward Kennedy is still around and able to criticize President Bush for the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison (Senator Kennedy's line was deliberately shocking, and may have surpassed the bounds of good taste). She concludes her essay with this line.

"When public discourse degenerates to hate speech, when friends cross streets to avoid one another, when Americans can't tell the difference between Bush and Saddam, the terrorists may well be winning."

So the upshot of this is, that liberals should shut up and stop trying to get John Kerry (or anybody else elected). If we liberals would just give it up and become conservatives, than all the bickering would end.

You see if she was in favor of actually getting along and improving the discourse she would discuss the excesses of Ann Coulter or Michael Savage (to pick two). But she's not. All this talk about getting along boils down to one simple truth; conservatives know they don't have much of a leg to stand on right now and they don't want liberals to point that out.

Still, maybe Mr. Blankley's sedition laws will take care of this for her.

Cheery News from Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley's picture always makes me think he'd be happier if he could just punch people who disagreed with him rather than trying to argue with them. And I might be right. Today's article has a curious little statement.

"It is heartbreaking, though no longer perplexing, that the president's political and media opposition want the president's defeat more than America's victory. But that is the price we must pay for living in a free country. (Sedition laws almost surely would be found unconstitutional, currently -- although things may change after the next terrorist attack in America.)"

We can only hope, eh Mr. Blankley?

It's all Clinton's Fault

Bill Clinton, not George Clinton. I wondered how soon we'd see Abu Ghraib blamed on Bill Clinton, and John McCaslin doesn't disappoint.

"Just how deep into bureaucracy will the Iraqi prisoner abuse probe reach?

That's what a concerned higher-up at the Department of Interior wants to know. The official noted at a recent Interior meeting that the department's National Business Center (NBC) developed the contract for the Pentagon's hiring of interrogators in Iraq.

NBC, a branch within Interior's office of the secretary, provides various services for a fee to other federal agencies.

"The NBC was formed during the Clinton administration as a government business venture," says our source, among other services running a "lucrative" drug-testing program for several federal agencies.

Yep--see it's all Clinton's fault. I admit this argument is a bit esoteric, but the key point is clear enough. It's all Clinton's fault.

Brown Vs. Board of Education

As you know the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision was Monday. Democratic Presidential Candidate, John F. Kerry, gave a pretty good speech.

". . . how do we honor the legacy of Brown? That question was answered some 20 years before that decision by a son of Lawrence, Kansas and one of America’s greatest poets – Langston Hughes. In one of his most soul wrenching poems, Hughes challenged the nation to “Let America Be America Again.” He called that generation to fulfill the unmet promise of America:

O’ let my land be a land where liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

And so we honor the legacy of Brown by letting America be America – by reaffirming the value of inclusion, equality, and diversity in our schools and across the life of our nation. By opening the doors of opportunity, so that more of our young people can stay in school and out of prison. By lifting more of our people out of poverty, expanding the middle class, providing health care, and bringing jobs, hope and opportunity to all the neighborhoods of the forgotten America.

We must let America be America again.

Inspiring words; I hope that Mr. Kerry lives up to his promises.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

More Art! Sort of

Actually here's the second in a series of pictures of lamps. Enjoy.

I get Letters

For example, I got this advertising for a new high speed internet service yesterday. It's a slide out sort of thing, almost like a childrens book. Here it is, unslided. I took off the name of the company, for various reasons.

Pure internet exhilaration, eh? You can imagine the excitement with which I chucked it onto the passangers seat of my car, only to pick it up again and fiddle with it at a stop light. I pulled the tab and this is what I saw.

So the obvious question is, how many of these people are looking at porn?

How Can I Apply?

Media Matters for America is a new website that has a very similar schtick to what we do here. In other words they react to conservative media, pointing out flaws and inconsistancies with their arguments. However, they have the name David Brock and considerably more money than I do. They have poor souls listening to Rush Limbaugh and other radio hosts (Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Glen Beck) to name a few. Worth checking out.

Flailing around

It's interesting watching continued conservatives response to the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal. I mean the liberal position is pretty straightforward; that abuse was unacceptable, and should be investigated to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

The conservative response is that of course the abuse was wrong, but let's not pay too much attention to it. Oh, and apparently it's now time to get all the woman out of the military (or at least most of them).

That's Cal Thomas's argument today.

"The one dirty little secret that no one appears interested in discussing as a contributing factor to the whorehouse behavior at Abu Ghraib is coed basic training and what it has done to upset order and discipline."

Actually plenty of people have discussed it, but it's hard to talk about coed training causing this problem without analyzing exactly what happened. Several of the soldiers have claimed they were under orders to do some of the things they did. There is a New Yorker article that suggests that Rumsfeld might have written a memo approving of the abuse.

Such abuse might arise from another systematic problem; Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's disdain for the CIA and, apparently, caution. Prior the war for Iraq, the CIA and the State Department made some wild predictions. Something about conquering the country with ease, but finding it difficult to hold on to? Rumsfeld believed instead what we might call the flowers and candy theory, which is that the Iraqis would be so grateful to us that they would give us flowers and candy.

Seems like the CIA and State Department were a bit more right than Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

But getting back to the matter at hand; did woman serving in the military cause the Abu Ghraib Prison Abuses? No. Was it Former President Clinton's misbehaver with Monica Lewinsky that taught our soldiers that a little hanky panky was ok? No. Was it the constant negative news reports by the liberal media that disheartened our troops so that they would misbehave? No. Was it Cartoon Shows like Family Guy or The Simpsons that portray an anarchic and post modern world that caused abuse? No.

In fact we don't know for sure what caused the prison abuse scandal; although there are some indications that the rot may have climbed a little bit higher on the chain of command than Mr. Thomas would like us to consider. At any rate, certainly seems like it's worth investigation.

Of course it's hard to investigate and ignore at the same time, but I guess that's the price you pay.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Wandering Around

Hmmmm. I haven't checked in with PABAAH (Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti American Hollywood) in a while. Let's see what they've got.

Well, apparently all good conservatives should avoid seeing "Raising Helen," "Baadassss!" "The Day After Tomorrow," and any film from Miramax. Oh, and look, some commentary on the tragic Daniel Berg slaying.

"Well, here's the appropriate response to beheading an American: For every town where an American contractor or soldier is abducted or harmed, we should enact a roadblock to prevent any militants from departing said town. After a 24 hour grace period for women and children to leave said town, the United States military will drop a MOAB or tactical nuke on said town. In other words, it's time to begin systematically destroying the havens of these madmen and send a strong message to all of the world. . . .

We will never win this war if we wage it as a politically-correct war. Dust off the nukes, it's time for some BBQ.

Yeah, I'm not sure what I could add to that.

Good news

Many of you may be worried that an uniformed dope like me could affect the election coming up. Well not to worry. A recent New York Times story says that most people still get their news the old fashioned way; from paid political advertising.

Of course there's a downside to that as well.

"Even people who say they learn nothing from the advertisements believe the claims made in them, the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey shows. At the same time, people are remarkably unfamiliar with the candidates' true positions — the stuff that hasn't been advertised much.

The Annenberg survey recently interviewed 1,026 adults in the 18 battleground states where the campaigns have been showing commercials since March. In those states, 61 percent of respondents believe Mr. Bush "favors sending American jobs overseas" and 56 percent believe Mr. Kerry "voted for higher taxes 350 times." Both of those statements have been repeated countless times in commercials — but neither is accurate.

I will say that Kerry voting for tax cuts 350 times is probably closer to a lie than President Bush favoring sending jobs over seas. After all the Bush ad makes a very specific claim; that Kerry voted for spending increases 350 times. The Kerry ad's claim is more general, and we certainly haven't seen much action on the part of the administration to stem the movement of American jobs overseas.

Still the fact that most Americans get their political facts from advertising has to put a smile on Karl Rove's face.

Did you Hear the One About Repression?

Last night's Simpsons was a decidedly strange affair.

Here's a synopsis, via TV Tome.

It's shot day and Bart tries to evade the needle. Dr. Hibbert manages to get the job done but Bart suffers a side effect of temporary hearing loss from the shot and he takes advantage of it for all it's worth. At Springfield Elementary the annual Donkey basketball tournament is being held. During the playing of The Star Spangled Banner Bart has his shorts eaten by a donkey, leaving his bare ass exposed towards the flag. Martin snaps a picture and everyone present is outraged at this behavior. As a result the Simpson family becomes very unpopular. They go on a cable news channel and only manage to dig themselves into a deeper hole when the host manages to twist Marge's words into saying that Springfield hates America. The negative publicity causes Mayor Quimby to change the name of the town to Liberty-Ville and they make everything patriotic. The family is arrested under violation of the "government knows best act" and they are brought to a reeducation center. The last registered Democrat tells them how they can escape. During their musical number they escape through a tunnel but find they were on Alcatraz. They are rescued by a passing French freighter and taken to France. After being there a while they decide they miss their life in America and go back as illegal immigrants.

OK. A couple of thoughts.

1. This episode is not anti-Bush Administration, as it appears at first. Anti-War celebrates haven't been rounded up and sent to education camps. Bill Clinton is still a free man. The repression of dissent hasn't reached the comically absurd levels demonstrated in "Libertyville." So that leaves us with two options. Either the writers are warning that things could get that bad, or they are underlining the fact that things aren't that bad. I think the second answer is far more likely; the show reminded us that things aren't that bad.

2. France Bashing is of course popular, as the French rescue the Simpsons only because they too hate America, despite our having saved them from Germany twice.

3. Stereotypical Arab Street loving the Simpsons. No shades of grey here, folks, Arabs hate America too.

4. The actual disagreement is pretty inane. Bart moons the flag, but not on purpose (the way that they set that up, Rube Goldberge style, is pretty funny, though). The family is innocent of hating America. The closest they get to a saying something is Marge saying that if everybody in America is a loud mouthed talk show host, than she hates Americans (or something like that anyway). Not that controversial, although of course it can be edited for television.

On the other hand the episode does underline the idea that one can disagree with one's country and still be patriotic. So I guess that's a good message--just a weird episode. One that I wish had been stretched to an hour, actually. I get the sense that we might have gotten a better resolution in that case.

Another review is here. Argueably better than mine.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Lamp Picture

Here's a picture of a lamp. It's not three feet away from where I am sitting.

Of course it's been artified.

Of course there is an argument to made that messing around with Paint Shop Pro isn't art. To those people who would make that argument I say, "Beware or I will unleash my Chaos Tiger Kung Fu on you!"

New Quote

A very succinct quote today. And, of course, a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Another picture

For some reason I labelled this a shotgun house. I downloaded it when i was doing research on New Orleans. Then modified it.

And Yet Another Picture

This is from a protest held a couple of months back, one I didn't use--but the lighting is quite good, I think. Made it look arty as well.

I love art. It hides a multitude of flaws.

Here's a Picture of My Dog

He's very shy and retiring (except when he hears a funny noise or sees another animal, then he flies into a murderous rage), so I don't put his picture up much, but he said I could put this one up.

Another picture

Why not? I call this one, "Ghostly Man Surveys the Ocean for no good reason."


Joshua Micah Marshall, over at Talking Points Memo, has a story that dovetails a bit into what I was saying on Thursday in relation to Ms. Coulter.

Of course I can already hear my conservative friends saying "Well, don't you think the President of the United States (Leader of the Free World) is a bit better informed than some reporter for the New York Times?"

Also, as previously discussed, here's a picture.

Picture time

Going to be putting up a lot of pictures today, mainly because I haven't done that in a while. Here's one I took in Tampa of a manta ray. I recolored it a bit, as you can tell. To make it more arty.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Countering Distortions

One of the lies that the Republicans / Conservatives are going to tell about Senator John F. Kerry is that he opposes military spending. Already President Bush has put out ads suggesting that John Kerry opposed funding weapons that have proven necessary in the war on terror.

Fortunately there are plenty of opportunities to find out the truth. The D-Bunker at John Kerry's site compares and contrasts Kerry's record with Dick Cheney's. It's a long read and a bit dry but there's a lot of interesting stuff in there.

Meanwhile, the Daily Howler, an incredible site, has done a series of articles on the ad and, more tellingly, the complete lack of interest by America's Press Corps in setting the record straight. It is yet another example of how Reality is Partisan. Accurately reporting the facts, putting the Bush ads in context, would be partisan. So it's best if America's reporters keep their mouth shut.

The Howler also reports on an appearance by John McCain on the Sean Hannity show. Apparently the future Secretary of Defense (I hope) strayed off script a bit.

"I would be accused of voting against numerous weapon systems, because I voted against defense appropriations bills, because they're loaded down with pork. And they're obscene today with all of the pork-barrel spending and multi-trillion dollar deficits. I'll probably vote against the defense appropriations bill this year."

Hmmmmmm. Still Mccain also said that President Bush was still his guy when it came to defense, so I guess that's ok.

Round the Horn Part 4b. The Undeadening

Echidne of the Snakes has a very interesting and typically well written exploration of the media and punditocracy's limited perceptions of what Lynndie England's involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal means.

Respectful of Otters considers the difference between consensual and non-consensual acts in relation to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Turns out there is one.

Rubber Hose has an item on how the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal might affect some prominent American Legal Cases.

Remember Lt. Gen. William ?Jerry? Boykin? Neither do I. But I wrote a pair of stories about him back when I was in New York for a week (here and here). Well blogAmY has the news that Lt. Gen. Boykin may have a connection to Abu Ghraib. So that's good news for Cal Thomas and Gary Aldrich who just have to trot out their cliches on religious persecution for another article.

Musing's Musings has an interesting account of rumblings in the House of Representatives against the Bush administration. Since the House is supposedly under Republican control, this is interesting.

edwardpig reviews those Generals and other Military leaders who have come forward anonymously to criticize the Bush Administrations handling of the Iraq War. Long story short; he's not a fan of the anonymous bit.

The Invisible Library considers how we should proceed in Iraq. Hint: it involves the United Nations.

Corrente has quite a bit on the Burg Execution, and on what Mr. Berg was doing there in the first place. Several great stories, but this one was the longest (and had a lot of good legal information). But once you get over there, look around and read the others too.

archy has an interesting discussion on the Western strategy which is apparently a political strategy somewhat connected (in name only) to the infamous Southern Strategy.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Truth

37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
The Gospel of St. John 18:37-38

Something has been troubling about my review of Ann Coulter's article earlier in the day. Ann Coulter may very well believe what she writes. She may believe that we have found the weapons of mass destruction President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld was selling us on before the war. She may believe that there was an undeniable link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin. I've always assumed that Ms. Coulter was a political huckster who's found a good gig, but let's say she really does believe everything she says.

Well how could you really have a debate over Iraq with Ms. Coulter? Some of the most basic facts, facts that many of her collegues have conceded, she does not accept. I don't buy many of the Administrations defenders' arguments these days, but at least with many of them you can understand the argument. The terrain is the same. With Ms. Coulter, you are talking about two different worlds.

Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wander whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid. - Soren Kierkegaard

The problem with debating with Ms. Coulter is that simply stating the facts as nearly everyone accepts them ("No link between al-Queda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq has been proven." "We haven't found Weapons of Mass Destruction that could have been an immediate threat to the United States.") become Liberal Arguments. So you have two sides to a debate, one side expressing extreme right wing partisan beliefs and the other basically stating the facts of the case. Doesn't leave much room for a leftist argument does it?

Ms. Coulter is hardly alone in this phenomenon. Salon has a great article today on Karen Hughes, close friend and confidante of President Bush. In it, the author (James C. Moore) repeats an oft recounted tale involving Ms. Hughes and Tucker Carlson. Tucker Carlson wrote the famous (or infamous, depending) account of President Bush swearing in private and mocking a woman he was about to have executed. After the article, Ms. Hughes confronted Mr. Carlson.

"It was very, very hostile," Carlson said. "The reaction was: You betrayed us. Well, I was never there as a partisan to begin with. Then I heard that [on the campaign bus], Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane. I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness."

So it turns out that reality itself is partisan. Not, all in all, a very comforting conclusion.


You know what's nice about being a fancy pants editorialist like Ms. Ann Coulter? There's little to no need to do any research at all. Just present the world as you would like it to be, and mock anybody who disagrees with you as dangerously out of touch.

Take Ms. Couter's latest thesis, "Crazy-Like-A-Fox News Viewer." In it she reminds us of two salient facts, that you might have forgotten. There was definitely a connection between al-Queda and we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Yep. I know some of you might have the impression that the link between al-Queda and Iraq was unproven, but Ms. Coulter has the answer to that.

"Interestingly, liberals refuse to believe Czech intelligence on the Prague meeting ... because the CIA doesn't believe it. Apparently, this is the lone, singular assertion by the CIA that liberals wholeheartedly trust."

So you see, because we have some reservations about the CIA (reservations based at least in part on their inability to see 9/11 coming and the way they totally screwed up the pre-war WMD evidence) we are required to disbelieve everything they say.

Oh wait a second, maybe that pre-war intel was good after all. I mean, according to Ann Coulter, we have found weapons of mass destruction. And Liberals are crybabys. Well, you probably would have guessed that one anyway. You see us liberals mistakenly believed that when President Bush was talking about the need to invade Iraq right away, we assumed it was because these Weapons of Mass Destruction were an immediate threat to us. What children we were. Or to quote Ms. Coulter, "By "weapons of mass destruction," what liberals mean is: missiles pointed at Washington, D.C., with their "Ready to Fire" lights blinking ominously and their warhead payloads clearly marked "Weapons of Mass Destruction! Next Stop, The Great Satan America!" -- basically what you might see on an episode of the original Batman TV series."

What fools we were. What President Bush clearly meant was that we had to invade immediately in order to stop experimentation that might one day lead to weapons of mass destruction (although even that was tricky, given the sanctions).

So, there you have it. According to Ms. Coulter, journalists are whores (I forgot to cover that earlier, but it's in there), Saddam had connections to al-Qaeda (despite the fact that pretty much everybody else on both the right and the left disagrees), and we have found Weapons of Mass Destruction (despite the fact that almost everybody on both the right and the left disagrees). Tune in next week, when we'll find that in Ann's delusions, the Iraq Occupation is smooth selling, Abu Ghraib never happened, and the United Nations declares their new Chairman, Beelezebub.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

John Kerry Speaks!

John Kerry is out on the campaign trail, and on May 8, he spoke to the Democratic Leadership Conference and said the following.

"We all know: The first responsibility of the President is to keep our country safe and secure. That means honoring America's calling to be the strongest force for freedom around the world and the greatest engine of opportunity here at home. That is why I am running for President. And I will never cede the issue of strength to the other party.

Strength means working with our allies to win the war on terror, not going it alone. Strength means taking responsibility. Today, Secretary Rumsfeld apologized on Capitol Hill. But the chain of command goes all the way to the Oval Office. Harry Truman did not say “The buck stops at the Pentagon.” And after 241 Marines were killed by terrorists in Beirut, Ronald Reagan had the strength to say, “If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this Office and with this President. And I accept responsibility for the bad as well as the good.

America does not merely need a new Secretary of Defense. We need a new President. One who is strong enough to give our brave troops the allies and the armor they need; and one who is strong enough to take responsibility and, when necessary, correct course. We need a President who knows the difference between strength – and stubbornness.

Kind of tough on old President Bush. But the truth is there is a difference between strength and stubborness.

In other Kerry news, he has apparently suggested that Senator John McCain could be approached to be his Secretary of Defense, according to MSNBC.

War and Technology

Often times when you combine the words war and technology, you get warnology. I mean you get discussions about how technology makes it easier for us to kill each other. Better weapons and so on. But that's hardly the only potential effect of technology on war.

Consider this article, from Salon, on the recent advances in information technology on war.

"Pedro Meyer, a veteran photographer who has embraced digital technology, points out that in 2005, technologists expect more than 60 billion pictures will be snapped on cellphone cameras alone. "Imagine what the number will be 10 years from now?" he asks. What will this ubiquitous documentation do to our will to fight wars? How will wars change if people can always see what's on the front? Will they become cleaner, or dirtier? Will we have fewer atrocities, or more?

. . . The lesson from Abu Ghraib, or from Nick Berg, is that you never know what technology can reap. Digital cameras were never meant as a tool for documenting torture, and the Web was not invented as a way for fanatics to broadcast pictures of their murders. But here we are. "They've become tools of war," Winslow says.

The article is well worth checking out, and the background issues are well worth thinking about.

Let's Send Ben Shapiro to Iraq

Ben Shapiro's latest article is one that he probably thinks is pretty clever (but in reality it's not nearly as clever as my article taking on the Ohio State Quarter). He starts out by quoting Presidential Candidate John Kerry's words in support of American Law Enforcement agents.

Young Ben then asks the oblivious question. If Kerry likes the U.N. so much, why not invite them in to manage America's inner cities. After all the American criminal system has clearly broken down, according to Shapiro, so why not?

He then manages to tie it back to the fact that Senator Kerry listens to Rap Music. "John Kerry does, and he wants to remind us that the criminal class has legitimate concerns. Rap is its voice, and we must listen to it. "I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important ... I'm still listening because I know that it's a reflection of the street and it's a reflection of life, and I understand all that," Kerry told MTV."

Rap is not only black music (as Rush Limbaugh described it), but now it's the voice of the criminal class. That's a lot of work for one musical form to do. Just reading young Ben's words makes me want to go out and get the latest People Under the Stairs album.

What's great about this entire article is that it's not even remotely anchored to reality. "It's one thing to hold a middle-class person accountable for his actions, but we can't expect the same from someone in a different cultural context. John Kerry will fight for such a double standard."

Oh he will? Hmmmmmm. That doesn't sound like the John Kerry I know. In fact the John Kerry I know. On March 18, 2003, Kerry said the following.

"We need to put our faith and trust in the people on the frontlines ? and back it up with real resources. We need to make sure first defenders have the gear and support they need, and the benefits and protections they?ve earned. With new technology and ingenuity, by doing more to sustain our first defenders and calling on Americans to do more for their country, we can make our country stronger, safer, and more secure."

Sounds like, unlike young Ben, Mr. Kerry has a lot of faith in our first defenders, including local police departments.

Of course the real point of this article is to point out Kerry's supposed hypocricy in Iraq. Because, you see, Kerry treats Iraq and our inner cities as if they were distinctly different problems. Which, according to young Ben, they aren't. Except in the real world, it turns out they are.

Unprovoked Ohio Bashing

I was driving in from work today and I saw an Ohio liscence plate. Birthplace of Aviation was what it said. That's also what they chose to put on their state quarter.

Now, no offense Ohio, but I really think you are missing the boat hear. First of all, it doesn't take much brains to notice that although the Wright Brothers and Neil Armstrong might have been born in Ohio, they had to go somewhere else (North Carolina or Florida) to actually fly.

Secondly, why focus on flight, when you have something else that is frankly much more important in our daily lives. Namely cheese. I eat cheese something like 4 or 5 times a week, and I've never eaten an airplane. I only ride airplanes every so often, and I can't tell you the last time I've been on the Space Shuttle (for National Security reasons, natch).

Now I understand that it's a little annoying to be called "cheese heads" all the time, but still, Cheese is what you guys do really well. So focus on that, is all I'm saying.

I might have made this joke already; I can't remember.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Poetry Appreciation

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
by Randall Jarrell

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

People claiming to be Agents of Al-Queda have released a video tape of an American contractor in Iraq being executed by beheading. Dohiyi Mir has a good and succinct commentary on it. So does Tom Tomorrow.

Hang in there, I'm sure that light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train.

When the fall is all that's left

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

David Brooks writes an unusual article today, in which he calls for the United States to lose the war in Iraq. Not that he's calling for withdrawel, precisely. Just that we permit the Iraqi people to defeat us.

"We went into Iraq with what, in retrospect, seems like a childish fantasy. We were going to topple Saddam, establish democracy and hand the country back to grateful Iraqis. We expected to be universally admired when it was all over.

We didn't understand the tragic irony that our power is also our weakness. As long as we seemed so mighty, others, even those we were aiming to assist, were bound to revolt. They would do so for their own self-respect. In taking out Saddam, we robbed the Iraqis of the honor of liberating themselves. The fact that they had no means to do so is beside the point.

Now, looking ahead, we face another irony. To earn their own freedom, the Iraqis need a victory. And since it is too late for the Iraqis to have a victory over Saddam, it is imperative that they have a victory over us.

For the record, he seems to be calling for a democratic victory over us, and, as part of this plan, for moving the elections up. That way they can have an election, denounce the American occupation, somebody can win and invite us to leave. I'd be interested to hear Rush Limbaugh respond to this idea. Perhaps he did; I'll check his website later.

I'm not sure what the quote has to do with this story; but it is a good quote and something to keep in one's mind.

Left Wing Media Bias

Just in case there's a few of you who believe that the media is biased toward the left, here's a great article by David Brock.

"A young writer for Rupert Murdoch's neoconservative Weekly Standard named Matt Labash -- whom I hired into right-wing journalism at The American Spectator -- was probably laughing, too, when he was interviewed by Columbia Journalism Review partner Web site The interviewer asked, "Why have conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard and FOX News Channel become more popular in recent years?" In his answer, Labash conceded that conservatives reject in their own media the standards of fairness, accuracy, and unbiased coverage that they demand from the "liberal media." He unmasked the hypocrisy at the heart of these endeavors:

"Because they feed the rage. We bring pain to the liberal media. I say that mockingly but it's true somewhat ... While these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media like to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective ... It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket."

Just to underline that, the conservative media is determined to force liberals to be even handed and moderate and, need we say it, spineless, while they themselves are comfortable being subjective and partisan and, need we say it, dishonest.

Your Weekly Rush; More on Abu Ghraib

Well, in his flailing around for an excuse for Abu Ghraib (which included slams at the NEA and comparing torture to a frat hazing), Rush has finally hit on a convincing argument for why we as Americans should be not worry too much about what happens at Abu Ghraib Prison. And here it is (the first part is a quote from Rich Galen, a former employee of GOPAC).

"It should be pointed out that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib are not Boy Scouts rounded up for jaywalking. These are bad guys who either blew up or shot a coalition member; or were caught assembling an explosive device; or were caught in a place where the makings of explosive devices were found; or were caught with a cache of weapons. See the pattern here?

"In short they were trying to kill me and others like me. And if they succeeded in doing that, they were going to come over here and try to kill you. Ugly thought? You bet. But that is the kind of prisoner being held in the terrorist section at Abu Ghraib."

That's exactly what I was asking everybody last week. Who are these guys? They're shooting at Americans. They have attempted to kill Americans. You've got to put this stuff in perspective. It has to be put in context.

Gosh that is pretty damning isn't it? I mean if those guys really were terrorists coming to get us, well, I guess I'd be a lot more comfortable with our guys making nude pyramids of them. Not completely comfortable (I still think torture is a bad thing, no matter the circumstances). It's a pity than that the facts don't support Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Galen's theory.

Alexander G. Higgins, of the Associated Press, unfortunately burst that bubble in a story reprinted at the Long Beach Press-Telegram (the newspaper so great it needed two names).

"Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake,' according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday. It also says U.S. officers mistreated inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison by keeping them naked in dark, empty cells."

Hmmmmm. That paints a very different picture than the one that Rush paints. Fortunately for Rush, it doesn't seem like very many press outlets are that interested in pursuing the story of why people were detained in Abu Ghraib prison. Perhaps he'll get to keep on pretending they were all terrorists.

You Just Can't Trust Us

And by us I mean Liberals. David Limbaugh makes that point in his article today. This has got to be a tough time for him and other defenders of the President. Iraq seems to be falling apart, the Dow is below 10,000 again (which affects me personally, so don't think I'm happy about that), and you have the Abu Ghraib Prison abuse scandal coming to light. It's hard to pretend that we have to stick with President Bush, when he's clearly having a bad couple of months.

Of course the answer to that is not to defend President Bush (except with vague generalizations), but to slam into liberals.

"The Left is intrinsically appeasement-oriented. You have to club them over the head with evidence before they'll acknowledge the evil and threat of terrorism. September 11 was such a club, but they've already forgotten about it, with their leader John Kerry saying we're exaggerating the threat.

Their appeasing nature leads many of them to agonize over what we did to cause Osama to attack us, to prefer isolated cruise missile attacks, sanctions or endless weapons inspections to full-scale military assaults, and to ignore Saddam's multiple violations of U.N. resolutions. It deludes them into believing that terrorists can be negotiated with and mollified and that the Arab press could be won over but for our infractions.

Better President Bush's idiotic belligerance than the terrible option of actually listening to the Middle East and trying to figure out why so many Muslims are willing to kill themselves to kill us. At least according to David Limbaugh. I personally think that we ought to consider President Kerry. I remember his inspiring words, ones that I've quoted before, on fighting Terrorism.

"I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he’s done too little.

Where he’s acted, his doctrine of unilateral preemption has driven away our allies and cost us the support of other nations. Iraq is in disarray, with American troops still bogged down in a deadly guerrilla war with no exit in sight. In Afghanistan, the area outside Kabul is sliding back into the hands of a resurgent Taliban and emboldened warlords.

In other areas, the Administration has done nothing or been too little and too late. The Mideast Peace process disdained for 14 months by the Bush Administration is paralyzed. North Korea and Iran continue their quest for nuclear weapons – weapons which one day could land in the hands of terrorists. And as Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has admitted, the Administration is still searching for an effective plan to drain the swamps of terrorist recruitment.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Pay no Attention to the Atrocity behind the Curtain

Perhaps I'm being a bit cynical. I was listening to Rush while driving around at lunch a bit and caught bits and pieces of a discussion about Abu Ghraib. And he posed, indirectly, an interesting question; who should we be madder at, those who performed the torture or those who recorded it (leaving aside for a moment the fact that they were largely the same individuals).

In other words would it have been better if the torture had occurred without being revealed to the world.

That appears to be Diana West's opinion, and she throws in a little media conspiracy to back her argument up.

". . . Abu Ghraib is, more than anything else, the fulfillment of the media dream, the Vietnam they think they never had (or had a very long time ago), the aberration to obsess about, the disgrace to exult in and the opportunity -- and this is key -- to shift the political landscape. That is why 30-some instances of abuse at Abu Ghraib, which range from acts resembling extreme fraternity hazing to actual sexual assault, have sucked all the oxygen from the conflict's urgent questions of life and death, truth and falsehood, and civilization and barbarism.

But isn't Abu Ghraib just such an urgent question? No. The humiliations and assaults perpetrated by a "handful" -- and how the media hate that non-collective word -- of American servicemen and women are already against both our laws and our sense of decency. There is nothing here to settle (but please -- no more women in combat theaters). Criminals will be punished. That is why this is not a Big Story, at the top of the president's list, the focal point of the world.

Short story; there's nothing there, but the media is determined to imagine something up for themselves. In order to win the argument over Vietnam. Simple enough, if she's correct that this was a handful of monsters who were acting largely on their own. The story changes a bit once you question whether or not they thought they were supposed to be doing this. Once you wonder if they had orders that led them to believe that this was an appropriate way to act. Once you wonder about the role civilian contractors were playing in this scenario.

But if you think about that kind of stuff at all, than obviously Diana West's article hasn't had the desired effect.