Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Now they tell me

In reference to Vice President Cheney's remarks to Sen. Leahy on the Senate Floor last week, I'd like to quote President Bush (from an interview with Brit Hume, September 22, 2003)

". . . I don't think we're serving our nation well by allowing the discourse to become so uncivil that people say, use words that they shouldn't be using."

Thank you Mr. President.

Quote from a new book entitled "Take Them at their Words; shocking amusing and baffling quotations from the G.O.P. and their friends, 1994-2004," which I just got today. Expect me to use it again in the future, as there is a lot of great stuff in here.

Mythology and the American Spectator

Here's a section from the Norse Myth concerning the death of the God Balder. Balder was killed by his Brother Hodur. All of the other Norse Gods wept, and one of them, Hermod, was sent to Hel to seek the release of Norse from the Goddess Hel (who ruled the land of the dead.

For nine nights he [Hermod] rode until he came to the river Gjoll and rode across its bridge. Modgud is the guardian of that bridge and she asked him his name and family and said that the day before five troops of dead men had ridden over the bridge, but the bridge resounded as much under him alone, and he didn't look like a man who has died. She asked him why he was riding on the road to Hel. Hermod replied he was riding to Hel to seek for Balder and asked if she had seen anything of him on his way there. She replied that Balder had ridden past over the bridge of the Gjoll.

Hermod rode on until he came to the gates of Hel. Hermod dismounted, tightened the stirrups on Sleipnir, remounted and dug his spurs. Sleipnir jumped over the gate with such energy that he came no where near the gate. Hermod then rode up to Hel's hall and dismounted. Inside, he saw Balder sitting at the high seat there. Hermod stayed that night in Hel and in the morning he asked Hel if Balder might be allowed to ride home with him. Hermod told Hel how all the Æsir wept for Balder and Hel said that this test should be made as to whether Balder was loved as much as people said. If all things in the world, both dead or alive, would weep for Balder the he would be allowed to return to the Æsir, but if anyone objected or refused to weep he would have to remain in Hel.
I have referenced this story before, but I'm referencing it again.

I was driving around at Lunch and listening to Rush Limbaugh and he pointed out an article that appears in the American Spectator (or at least at their website). The basic premise of the article can be summed up thusly; Democrats want to see America fail because that way they can get their power back. I'll deal with that point in a moment, but first let's talk about Vietnam and Iraq.

Vietnam was a mistake from beginning to end. It was entered into under false premises. It was not conducted in a sensible way, largely because the goal was not to win (which frankly we didn't even know what that looked like in that particular war), but to keep from losing. There were regrettably atrocities committed by both sides. And the reason we lost that war? Because some Americans pointed out these failings. Or so says Paul Breston, author of this particular article.

"They [American Liberals] wanted us out of Vietnam, and the way to accomplish that was to demoralize the American public, thereby emboldening the enemy and ensuring a protracted struggle, and more casualties. The body bags they pretended to decry were crucial to their success; they relied on death far more than did the warmakers they demonized. Theirs was the most bloodthirsty peace movement in American history."

Which of course brings us to Iraq. Iraq is not quite as bad as Vietnam. We are making more efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis (although we are certainly making our share of misteps as well). But there is also plenty to critique in how we have handled the Iraqi war. And many of those criticisms can find there way back to the Oval Office or to the Offices of those President Bush has appointed. So the solution? Liberals shouldn't criticize the President's handling of Iraq.

I notice that when Conservatives push President Bush to adopt a harder line with Iraq or to invade Syria or Iran, they are not accused of disloyalty or giving comfort to the enemy. I also note that during our conflicts during the Clinton Years, Republicans didn't feel it disloyal to continue their critiques of him as a Commander in Chief.

As for the suggestion that America has to fail for Democrats to succeed, that's just crap. It's not that we want America to fail; it's that the people who are in charge of this country aren't running it correctly. If you put a guy like President Bush or a foul mouthed guy like Vice President Cheney in power, there are going to be problems. I don't know that Kerry is going to be a flawless president (I'd be surprised if he was) but he has got to be better than those that we have in power now.

If nothing else, unlike President Bush, Kerry has been in combat and has some idea of what the life of an American fighting man is worth.

The Perils of Having a Weekly Column

One peril is when you write a weekly or bi-weekly column, you have to pontificate even if you don't have much to say. I have that problem too, but in theory I could back away and come back when I have something (I don't usually, but I could).

That peril strikes Cal Thomas today who serves up an uncomfortable mish-mash of issues. In one article he covers Dick Cheney's use of the F-Word, Bill Clinton's new book and Monica Lewinsky, Jack Ryan's withdrawal from the race in California, The Broadway play "The Producers," the ad at the Bush Website using Hitler imagery, and Al Gore's mental state. It's almost like a smoke screen of ideas designed to cloud the mind and make his ending argument a bit more plausible.

Thomas starts and ends his article with Dick Cheney's F-Bomb. And his concluding point is banal enough. More or less its that Politicians would be better off if they spoke frankly and in some way this justifies Cheney's comments. That's total crap, of course. We all know that were the conditions reversed and a Liberal stated something similar to a Conservative Senator, there would be no need for this foggy writing. Thomas would spend the entire article talking about how a senator deserves respect and how about this unnamed liberal's potty mouth shows the debased state of the modern Democratic Party.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"Good Servants but Bad Masters"

There's an interesting article by Cynthia Tucker which covers the Clinton Years in some detail (a popular subject right now, what with President Clinton's Book and all). There's some positive - such as here statement that "quite contrary to conventional wisdom, Clinton contained Saddam Hussein."

But there is also some strong negatives. She comments on how his instincts on race and on America's workers might have strongly benefited them, but he wasted that capital when he had his dalliance with Ms. Lewinsky. And then she states, "And then there is the matter of Osama bin Laden and his network of jihadists, al-Qaida. In his autobiography, "My Life," Clinton writes of a difficult period in 1998 when he was trying to salvage his marriage while also confronting al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies. On vacation with Hillary, he said, "I spent the first couple of days alternating between begging forgiveness and planning the strikes on al-Qaida."

That about says it all, doesn't it? Even Clinton, with his legendary ability to "compartmentalize," couldn't possibly have concentrated fully on the threat. He was not only distracted, but he was also boxed in by the scandal. Any attempt to deal more harshly with bin Laden would have been derided by political foes accusing him of trying to divert the public's attention.
"

She ends with this painfully true statement.

"If he genuinely believed that they [conservative Republicans] didn't have the best interests of the nation at heart, he had a moral responsibility to outmaneuver them. Instead, he gave them the ammunition they needed to impeach him."

I have reevaluated my opinions on Clinton in the last year or so. I really had a big problem with his affair with Ms. Lewinsky. Strip away all the rationalizations, and that was an enormous failing. This doesn't negate the attacks by the Right, and the many lies they have told about him over the years (such as the ones about Vince Foster). But it cost him, and more importantly it cost the country the ability to make some vastly needed changes.

"It is with our passions, as it is with fire and water, they are good servants but bad masters." - Aesop

The Transfer of Power

Salon has an interesting article on the transfer of power in Iraq yesterday.

"Forsaking public, self-congratulatory speeches, the much-anticipated transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people did not take place among pomp and circumstance, nor was it captured for history by a throng of journalists. Instead, the transfer occurred nearly in secret inside a well-secured building behind the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, witnessed by a handful of participants in the five-minute service. Coming off a weekend of unending violence, during which more than 100 Iraqis were killed by terrorists protesting the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the pageantry of a ceremony on June 30 suddenly seemed less inviting to both the United States and its Iraqi partners in the interim government, and the transfer of power was quickly moved up to Monday.

It was just the latest U.S. plan for the Iraqi occupation to go awry. That sovereignty is being passed to Iraq against a backdrop of violence so extreme that martial law is being seriously discussed by the new Iraqi government highlights how poor the postwar conditions are and how big of a challenge the new government faces. Indeed, the handover occurs as a wide range of foreign policy experts have concluded that the plan to invade Iraq as well as the postwar-construction phase have failed on nearly every front.
"

President Bush desperately needs American voters to accept this as a triumph. In his own words, "We have kept our word." And those who want to paint our involvement in Iraq with the noblest of platitudes will be able to take some comfort in the fact that we did give them de jure power. They can ignore the fact that the United States kept most of the de facto power for themselves.

It's all in the Wrist

A Trio of Ralph Nader stories.

The first is by Joe Conason and is posted at Salon (warning, you may have to watch a brief ad). Basically it concerns Nader's efforts to get on the ballot in Oregon and who's helping him achieve this goal.

"According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington -- whose name sounds as if Nader could once have been its founder -- the Nader presidential campaign received illicit assistance for its petition drive in Oregon last weekend from two local conservative organizations, which were "encouraged" by President Bush's campaign committee."

So I guess Nader's fantasy about taking votes from President Bush is justified. Yep, all these people helping his campaign are surely going to vote for him. Or are they?

Secondly here's a dissection of the Green Parties decision to run David Cobb as their presidential candidate rather than endorse Ralph Nader's independent run. Apparently the main reason for the Green Party's rejection of Nader was that they felt like he had ignored them in the early part of this election cycle and was taking the party for granted.

Cobb will distinguish himself from Nader in other ways. "Practically, Cobb plans to campaign for Green candidates in all 50 states, but only to aggressively seek votes for himself in the roughly 40 states where the Bush-Kerry contest is not expected to be close."

Finally here is Ralph Nader's letters to Michael Moore (Letter one and letter two). Truthfully I'm not sure I would have posted these letters on my website, as they sound a bit whiney and a bit pedantic. But as for the issues involved, Michael Moore has been focused on beating President Bush since the last election. Mr. Nader has been concerned with something else (some would say his own self-aggrandizement, but I'm not that cynical).

Crocodile Tears

Well Michael Moore has David Limbaugh pretty riled up.

"I wish we could finally graduate in this campaign year to a debate on the merits of the various issues: foreign policy, national security, the economy, social issues and judicial tyranny.

But that's not going to happen, because the Left can't win this year by playing fair. They engage not in debate but in smear.
"

That's pretty great coming just a few days after President Bush's own website put up a web ad linking John Kerry, Al Gore, and Adolph Hitler.

It's also interesting to note that President Bush has a section of his website called the Kerry Media Center, dedicated to tearing down his opponent. John Kerry has no such section; although he does have the D-Bunker, dedicated to exposing those half truths the republicans keep throwing around.

That's also interesting after he describes President Clinton as a "the granddaddy of all sociopathic fabricators."

It's also interesting in that most liberal attacks are based on steps the Bush Administration actually took.

David Limbaugh is simply crying crocodile tears, hoping that soft hearted liberals pansy out and contest the election on his terms. I can assure you he has no intention of stopping his smears on liberals, but gosh wouldn't it be nice if Democrats stopped even criticizing the President?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Big News

From the New York TImes.

"In a surprise, secret ceremony that was hastily convened to decrease the chances of more violence, United States officials today handed over sovereignty to Iraqi leaders, formally ending the American occupation two days earlier than scheduled.

In a tightly guarded room behind high walls, L. Paul Bremer III, the top United States administrator, presented a formal letter recognizing Iraq's sovereignty to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
"

From Fox News.

"Iraq became a sovereign country on Monday, 15 months after the United States led a coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from power and two days before the June 30 deadline for control to be turned over to the interim Iraqi government.

"This is a historical day," Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (search) said. "We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation."


The opening paragraphs from both articles. Anyway, as always, we'll have to see what happens next.

Bush Survived !!!

That's a current storyline that's making its way around the world of Conservative Commentators. Basically it's this; after a couple of months of terrible news for President Bush, and attacks by Democrats and the "Liberal" media, he has survived politically and that shows just how great a president he is.

Larry Kudlow uses this theory in an article on the Iowa Electronic Market, and how it relates to the race. Apparently the Iowa Electronic Market thinks that George Bush is a safe bet right now (well, safer than Kerry). The Iowa Electronic Market is an interesting idea, and they worry me more than a lot of other polls.

But as for the argument that President Bush has finally weathered the bad news, that all depends on whether or not you believe the bad news has stopped coming. The Fed is going to raise interest rates here in a few days (apparently). We are going to turn "power" over to the Iraqis this very week. So who knows what the future holds?

I have to admit, it sound a little like I'm hoping things go bad for President Bush. I don't. I'd like it if his plans succeeded, if only because his plans impact the United States people, and particularly our military stationed in Iraq. But I don't think they will.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

New Quote - Hurrah!

There's a new quote by G. K. Chesterton. Enjoy. And a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 911 Opening

Went to the Fahrenheit 911 opening last night. Despite PABAAH's encouraging Conservatives to protest the movie theater, I didn't see any conservatives there. Instead I saw a very festive attitude among the local Liberal population.

Billionaires for Bush were in attendance, standing out on the sidewalk holding their signs (as witnessed by the following picture).



This is a good concept. There's a picture (created by the "Liberal" media) that all protesters are humorless and angry. I have to say this doesn't square with my observations.

Anyway there was also this gentleman who was passing out literature.



He was standing behind that fence because if he crossed the line he could be thrown in jail (according to him), but he was passing out a flyer that Michael Moore wanted film goers to have (again, according to him). It is an interesting flyer though, and it makes five general suggestions for film goers.

1. Get Behind the National Voter Registration Effort
2. Raise Hell About Halliburton's War Profiteering.
3. Buy a Ticket to New York City to Protest the Republican National Convention on August 29.
4. Join a Peace Group and Help End the Occupation of Iraq.
5. Educate your Family and Friends.
Personally I really like the first suggestion and the second suggestion. The third suggestion is a bit ambitious, but if you can, why not? The fourth suggestion I can see where reasonable people could disagree on the timing (some want us to leave immediately, some want us to clean up the mess we made, both views have good and bad points). The fifth suggestion is very good.

The movie seemed to be doing brisk business; I've never seen that theater so packed. It's the Miracle 5 here in town, and it was busier than I've ever seen it. This picture shows people waiting to get in the theater (despite the reflection from the window, which I don't know how to correct for).



I didn't end up seeing it myself (for various reasons), but I will go see it next week (probably).

Friday, June 25, 2004

What Women Want

Now normally I think purporting to divine the desires of an entire group of people based on their gender would be a foolish pursuit. I mean women come in all sorts of varieties, which implies all sorts of opinions and ideas on various subjects. But then I read, over at Media Matters for America, Michael Savage's discussion of what women want.

"But women in America don't really like anger. They don't even like the news, I don't know if you know that. They just want it to be calm, and safe -- and they want girl talk all the time. So I'll talk in a quiet, soothing voice today so that women don't get scared and run away. I'll make it friendly for women."

Hmmmmmm.

I don't know, but I'll bet there are some women reading that statement who really want to drive over Michael Savage with a tank.

Achtung Baby!

As many of you know the Bush Campaign has put together a internet commercial. It's not the sort of thing they could get on TV, but they can show it on the internet. Starts out with a black screen and white letters "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party: The Coalition of the Wild Eyed." It then shows clips from speeches by Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, Michael Moore and John Kerry. It also uses those two Nazi ads from MoveOn.Org.

For those of you who don't remember, MoveOn ran a contest called Bush in 30 Seconds which gave people the chance to do ads critical of President Bush. So far so good, but two ads used Nazi Imagery to equate Bush with Hitler. This created a controversy and MoveOn polled the videos from the site and disowned them, saying they were in bad taste (they were).

But there they are right in the middle of all these images of Democrats speaking. I wonder why they are there? I suppose the official reason is that they are another form of Democratic Wild-Eyed-ness. But the real reason might be closer to Salon's analysis.

". . . why resuscitate the Hitler/Nazi imagery if it's so harmful to the national discourse? One can only wonder, and a cynic is left to think that splicing the face of Adolf Hitler between images of leading Democrats was too irresistible for the creators of this web video, no matter how misleading and offensive the end result may be."

Those Darned Memos

While investigating some of the websites from Chenkoff (discussed yesterday), came across this article that presumably Chernkoff would rather I didn't read.

It's about those Memos we've all been discussing for weeks. You know the ones that we inevitably end up talking about in the context of the Geneva Convention? Well this article took a different tack. I particularly liked this section.

"What makes this memo disturbing is how it uses law and legal reasoning in a dishonest fashion to undermine core principles of the American legal and political systems. This includes the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Fifth Amendment's protection of due process, and the system of checks and balances built into the constitution to prevent any one branch of government from becoming dominant.

These values have been part of the US since its inception. Moreover, they are the basis for other US statutes such as the federal anti-torture statue enacted in 1994, which provides for the prosecution of an American national or anyone present in the US who, while outside the country, commits or attempts to commit torture. A person found guilty under the act can even receive the death penalty if the violence results in a victim's death.

By extending the jurisdiction of the prohibition on torture in such a way, but also by ratifying major international treaties forbidding torture under any circumstance and by regularly issuing statements against torture, the US has shown a commitment to the value that torture is absolutely forbidden and prosecutable. The Pentagon memo argues, in essence, that there are loopholes in this ban and, therefore, loopholes in American values.
"
The whole article is well worth reading.

One counter argument that I can hear some making is that the Constitution only applies to United States citizens, which is technically accurate. But I would argue that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence reflect American principles and Ideals that exist independently of the Documents themselves. While the 8th Amendment may only protect American Citizens it is a reflection of our belief that such techniques are immoral and un-American.

Right in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." All men.

Something to consider.

Round the Horn Part 1,334,002: Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

T. Rex's Guide to life has provided a list of the last 256 service men and women killed in Iraq.

Kick the Leftist has the scoop on a recent affront by the "liberal" media.

Sooner Thought has a post on a more analytical approach to "Bush-isms."

The Gotham City 13 has an article on who might really get help from the terrorists in the fall election.

blogAmy has some rather strong, but well deserved language for those Republican Congresspeople who are complaining about the 9/11 commission.

Dohiyi Mir has a story on Farenheit 9/11 that I missed. Apparently some of those opposed to the movie are trying to use the Federal Election Commission to shut it down.

Congratulations to Pen-Elayne on the Web for getting what looks like a pretty nice car.

Bloggg has a piece on how some people have too much money and vindictiveness. Not recommended for extreme cat lovers.

And that concludes this episode. Tune in next time when we almost guarentee someone will have explosive amnesia.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Good News From Iraq

Was directed to Chernkoff today, who has provided a list of positive stories coming out of Iraq, along with the argument that these stories aren't being reported in the news. Of them, 22 or 43.1% come from American Media Sources (National Papers, Local Papers, TV Websites, Yahoo News and so on).

13 (or 25.5%) come from Middle Eastern Media sources, mostly Iraq Press and the Daily Star.

5 stories (or 9.8%) came from the British press and another 5 (or 9.8%) from the American Conservative Press. Separated out the Conservative Press (i.e. Fox News and the Washington Post as well as an editorial from National Review) because the point is that the liberal media is hiding the truth, and to mix them in would skew the numbers.

4 stories (7.8%) came from US Governmental stories, and 2 of the links (3.92%) were to websites that didn't fit into any easy category (specifically a link to the Iraqi Stock Exchange and another to a project to help Iraqi Children).

As far as content, 40 of the articles, or 70.4%, are straight news articles. There were 7 editorials (13.7%) 1 interview (2.0%), and 3 that I couldn't classify (5.88%). Overwhelmingly they were published since the beginning of June, the majority being put out in the last week.

There are a few questions that this analysis raises, that I don't have solid answers for.

1. Is he cherrypicking? A number of articles are Reuters articles or AP articles that might very well appear in the New York Times. Is he looking for those articles at local papers, so as to promote his story that the New York Times (bastion of the so called "Liberal Media") is ignoring good stories coming out of Iraq? For a lark I might go through and see if I can find some of these stories on Iraq.

2. How do you weigh these stories? Among others we see stories on how Baghdad Policemen are cracking down on Traffic Violations. We see stories on how Viagra sales are up in Iraq. We see stories on how Jordan is training Iraqi Bankers. I'm not sure these are stories that deserve big headlines. Although I do understand the argument that a lot of little positive stories add up to a larger, more positive picture of Iraq.

Anyway worth checking out.

Interesting Logic Chain

From Gary Aldrich's latest article in which he dutifully attacks Bill Clinton's New Book. I'm sure you're all sophisticaged enough to know that the next week will involve numerous articles on Bill Clinton's book from people who haven't read it. That's part of the methodology; Bill Clinton's book is so full of lies and crap that even reading it for a review is a waste of time. Instead all the articles will focus on how Clinton is a liar and therefore there is no reason to read his book. Plus it's long and boring. And Clinton's not a very good writer.

It's all the conservative editorialist version of "Pay no attention to what is behind the curtain."

But you knew all that already.

Gary Aldrich's article does contain some interesting statements.

"I think liberals tend to admire somebody who can lie and make their statements sound so believable."

Interesting.

"We loved that movie [The Sting} because on some level we admire people who have the skills to fool others. They can twist facts around so that a rube doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. A con man has a devious mind and does it without thinking. Lawyers need to develop those types of skills; otherwise how would they ever get a killer acquitted?"

Interesting.

But of course just because liberals like people who lie, and "we" like people who lie, you can't jump to any conclusions. Oh, and occasionally lawyers get innocent people acquitted too.

On a related note, I love the movies "Oceans 11" and "The Italian Job," both of which involved a lot of lying.

Back for More

There's an AP story out there on Abu Ghraib, entitled "Bush Claimed Right to Waive Torture Laws." There's a catchy title. It is on memos released by the White House about how the issue of torture is to be handled in the War on Terror.

A couple of key points jump out from the article.

1. It's unclear whether or not the prisoners at Guantanemo and Abu Ghraib are entitled to any protection from the Geneva conventions. What is clear is that the White House, without any application to specific issues, was considering eliminating such protections for enemy combatants captured in the War on Terror. For a bit more on this subject, here's a New York Times piece on the subject.

2. The White House has reportedly stated that the Geneva Conventions apply in Iraq. It is unclear what they mean by that, however, particularly in the light of the insurgency.

3. It is hard to read these memos or the excerpts provided in the media and get a clear sense of what the administration believed, exactly. Certainly there have been some troubling statements, but we do not yet have a clear picture of how these attitudes and ideas in the White House translated into what happened at Abu Ghraib.

4. It's also unclear how much of this debate is motivated by political motives and how much is motivated by a genuine desire to get at the truth. But then again I'm not sure it matters much. I think the American people should have a clear picture of how the Abu Ghraib prison scandal came to pass, and if Senator Patrick Leahy is working to get that picture, than I'm not sure if I care if part of this is politically motivated. After all, this is at least as important as President Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. We heard about that for a couple of years, and we've barely spent four months on this.

I Think I'm Getting Eye Cancer

But enough frivolity. Now let's turn to Ann Coulter's latest article, "Moby's Dick." In case that "clever" title didn't grab you, here's a synopsis of it. Conservatives could care less about Clinton and don't bother reading his new book.

More and more I am convinced that Ann Coulter's entire life is a myth. How else can you explain her arguing that Conservatives aren't pretty focused on Clinton? She offers as proof the fact that several books have been written on the impeachment by liberal, and she can only think of one written by a conservative (Rich Lowry's book which she fails to give the title for, but which I have discovered is titled Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years. (You may wonder if Ann Coulter has an animus against Lowry that would cause her to leave off the name of Lowry's book. Apparently Lowry and Jonah Goldberg dropped her column from the National Review in the wake of her statement that we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity (quote from memory)." She responded by calling them Girly Boys, showing typical Ann Coulter Wit)).

Of course I can think of several other conservative books that touch on the impeachment scandal. I could also point out that Ann Coulter herself mentions Clinton in 2 out of 3 columns. But why be churlish. If Ann wants to live in a fantasy world in which Liberals are obsessed with Clinton and Conservatives aren't, why not?

Ann Coulter takes several shots at the length of the book. Apparently really long books aren't Ann's favorite. Kind of figures.

She also takes issue with Clinton covering other parts of his life outside the Presidency. I'm not sure what to make of this. My standard response to this kind of critique (which boils down to "Why didn't you right the book this way.") is that that's the artists perogative. But in this case, the complaint is so disingenuous as to be nonsensical. Had he written a 300 page book, she would have written "Clinton didn't want the book to be too long in case he forgot his lies." If the book had focused just on the presidency, she would have written, "He focuses strictly on the most triumphal part of his life, another example of the classic Clinton ego." Simple.

Anyway, I should probably go get this eye cancer looked at. I'll be back later.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Take it to the streets!

From Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti American Hollywood comes this suggestion.

The time has finally come, where the rubber meets the road. Fahrenheit 9/11 will be released this Friday, be sure to check with your local theatres to make sure they ARE NOT airing this anti-American propaganda. You can also check here to see if it is playing near you.

We need patriots like you to stand outside theatres to protest on June 25th and pledge to boycott those theatres that carry this vile film. Contact your local tv, radio and newspaper to let them know of your planned protests, invite others to join you. Visit and join Free Republic to find others in your locale to join your protest. Make a sign to carry, to alert possible movie-goers that they may be supporting an anti-American film and rewarding a known liar and war profiteer.

It's time for the silent majority to be silent no more. Let's stand up for America! This will be a big week for us and hopefully, a bad week for Michael Moore as he gets egg on his face, not in his big mouth.

Our efforts are being noticed as we fight to take back America from the America-haters in Hollywood. Help us get the word out!
I'd say their efforts are being noticed largely because they have failed. But I will probably go to the premiere to document any protests.

Suspect methodology!

And if that title doesn't get your toes a tapping, I don't know what will.

Bruce Bartlett's latest article is titled "A little rightward tilt is a good thing." It helps to have the writers opinions stated right there in the title.

Anyway he refers to a study by Tim Grosedose and Jeff Milyo that I imagine will get a lot of play over the next couple of weeks which suggests that the most unbiased sources of news are Fox News and the Drudge Report. However, as I subtly indicated above, I'm not sure about their methodology.

Here it is.

Step one is to divide all the Senators and Representatives into liberal and conservative camps based on their votes. I'm not sure how this is done, but as one person at Democratic Underground pointed out, Congress is somewhat dominated by conservatives right now. It's not hard to imagine this methodology moving the center a bit to the right.

Step two is to note which think tanks each side quotes from, and in this manner label said think tanks liberal or conservative. There doesn't seem to be any means of determining validity or partisan ship of these various think tanks. If a liberal senator quotes a non-partisan think tank, it becomes a liberal think tank. Which is par for the course; "liberal" think tanks are non-partisan, conservative think tanks are fiercely partisan. So it all balances out.

Step three is finding out how regularly news broadcasts quote from the same think tanks. If a news source quotes from a "liberal" source than it moves left on the scale. If a news source quotes from a conservative source than it moves right. Simple. And based on this methodology Fox News's "Special Report" and the Drudge Report are the closest to the middle of the road.

Grosedose and Milyo also regurgitate the statistic that only 7% of journalists voted for President George H. W. Bush in 1992, as opposed to 37% in the general populace. They out to go back and look at how editors and publishers vote, because that might tell a different story. And editors and publishers have a lot more control over what goes on the air than the reporters.

But remember, "A little rightward tilt is a good thing." So perhaps the answer is more important than the methodology used to get there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Somewhat Troubling

New article from Paul Krugman on Attorney General John Ashcroft starts out with the following paragraphs.

"In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon - a cyanide bomb - big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Strangely, though, the attorney general didn't call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn't even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomber," didn't have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world.

. . . it sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist.
"

Kind of an interesting story about how ideological the Attorney General really is.

The Era of Declining Expectations

A little context. Before the war on Iraq, one of the reasons advanced for the invasion was that Saddam Hussein was an ally of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and might hand over some of his Weapons of Mass Destruction to them. This was not taken as seriously as other charges (mainly that Saddam was dangerously unstable and that he had access to Weapons of Mass Destruction which he might use on the United States).

We now move to the present day. The Weapons of Mass Destruction argument has largely fallen apart. It's not off the charts, but the only person who believes that Saddam had large stocks of WMDs that threatened the US is Ann Coulter. Now we are supposed to content ourselves with the idea that instead of having Weapons of Mass Destruction, Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction programs.

So in light of that, pro-Bush commentators and administration officials are trying to find a new rationale for the war, and they've apparently found one in the theory that Iraq and al-Qaeda were collaborating. This revived tack, however, has a few built-in expectation diminishers.

I was listening to Fox News this morning on the way in to work (the local radio station plays the audio feed from Fox and Friends). As I drove along I listened to Stephen Hayes who has apparently wrote a book on the connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

Here's the game. Claim that future President John Kerry and other Democrats claimed that there was no link (of any kind) between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. In so far as any Democrats said that it would have been a foolish statement. So now that you've got your strawman up, all you have to do is find links between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organizations. Simple.

But of course a more important question is were the links that Saddam Hussein had with al-Qaeda a direct threat to the United States (such that we had to invade by the spring of last year or else we would have been sunk)?

A second question, if these vague relationship links are enough to wipe out Saddam, what do we make of the links that al-Qaeda has with a half dozen other nations (including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, two allies)?

The trouble is that the Bush administration needs desperately to make the decision to invade Iraq unimpeachable. And that's not proving to be as easy as they'd like it to be.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Putin Connection

Zev Chafets writes an editorial for the New York daily News on Russian President Putin's statement that he had warned the United States of a potential terrorist by Saddam Hussein. Here's how Chafets puts it.

"President Bush got some very good news last week from one of the key 2004 battleground states: Russia. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin confided that he warned the U.S. after 9/11 but before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein was preparing terrorist attacks on America and its interests abroad."

An AP story prints President Putin's words and gives some more shading to this story.

"Russia gave the Bush administration intelligence after the September 11 attacks that suggested Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was preparing attacks in the United States, President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Putin said he couldn't comment on how critical the Russians' information was in the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. He said Russia didn't have any information that Saddam's regime had actually been behind any terrorist acts.

"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services, the intelligence service, received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin said.

He said the United States had thanked Russia for the information. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.

"It's one thing to have information that Saddam's regime is preparing terrorist attacks, (but) we didn't have information that it was involved in any known terrorist attacks," Putin said in the Kazakh capital Astana after regional economic and security summits.

Putin said the intelligence didn't cause Russia to waver from its firm opposition to the war.

"Despite that information about terrorist attacks being prepared by Saddam's regime, Russia's position on Iraq remains unchanged," Putin said.
"

A little context.

Early last week Vice President Cheney commented on the links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

On Thursday, if memory serves, the 9/11 commission issued a report that debunked said links.

On Friday Rush Limbaugh claimed that the report lent credence to the Prague Meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi Intelligence when in fact the report stated the opposite. But that's neither here nor there.

Also on Friday, Mr. Putin made his statements. Mr. Putin had also stated, on an earlier occasion, "I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same. It suffices to recall Yugoslavia."

So let's not have the illusion that Mr. Putin is a disinterested observer.

But let's look at the scope of his claim. First of all, it says nothing about any contacts that may have existed between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Vice President Cheney and President Bush claimed that such connection existed; the 9/11 report claimed that such connections didn't exist.

It's very very unspecific. We don't know the seriousness of these plans or how far they had advanced (if they had advanced at all). We do know how Russia acted during the run up to the Iraq war; they opposed our invasion. I'm not sure what to think of that. I mean if Iraq was planning serious terrorist activities on the same level as September 11th, why wouldn't they support President Bush's choice to take out Iraq? Did President Putin want us to suffer those casualties? It just seems somewhat conflicted.

Of course the other answer is that these supposed Iraqi terrorist plans didn't amount to much.

A few other points from Chafets article.

"One answer is that there was no warning, that Putin is lying to curry favor with Bush. But this explanation raises an uncomfortable question. One of Kerry's main themes has been that Bush can't get along with foreigners. But how does that square with the accusation that the president of Russia is actively campaigning on Bush's behalf?"

It's nice that President Bush is able to get President Putin to lie for him (following the logic of this paragraph). But words are extremely cheap, aren't they? I think I'd be more impressed if President Bush talked President Putin into sending troops into Iraq.

"But right now, I'd say that John Kerry is in big trouble. If he can't carry Russia, he's not going to win in November."

This statement is fascinating on so many levels. But unfortunately the election is unlikely to be held in Russia, but here in the United States. And I think President Bush is going to need more than vague statements by the Russian President.

What Photos Should be Shown?

Diana West has an article today on the reporting on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and how it contrasts with reports on Saddam's torture chambers. I think the argument goes some like this.

1. Saddam's torture chambers were far worse than what we did.

2. The media has spent considerably more time on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal than they have reporting on recently released videos of Saddam's torture (which, apparently, included Saddam feading a prisoner to his dogs.

3. Therefore the Media is a bunch of traitorous hypocrites for which hanging is too good.

There are a few ways to puncture this argument.

1. This is a weak argument which is why it is up front, but it is a factual argument. You can't show pictures of a dog eating a man on TV. You can show pictures of a dog threatening a man on TV. This accounts for a percentage of it.

2. This is, in fact, old news. Those few who need to be reminded that Saddam Hussein was a monster probably aren't the sort to be convinced by these pictures ("You mean you actually believed that film was real? Look at teh watch on the third soldier over--see it's reflection? When you blow up that image it clearly shows a smiling Dick Cheney.")

3. More to the point, we aren't competing with Saddam Hussein. I don't hold the American government or the American Military to the standard of Saddam Hussein. I expect us to be better than him, and not just a little better. Instead I hold our government and military to the standard set by their past performance.

4. The American people are responsible for Abu Ghraib; they are not responsible for Saddam's tortures. This argument can be taken to far, but we need to know what our governmental and military officials are doing because they represent us. Saddam Hussein does not.

So I think Abu Ghraib is a more important story than Saddam's torture chambers. But that's just me.

1-800-DOCTORB; the B is for Bargain

"Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint. However, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack." - Richter cartoon caption

Bob Herbert over at the New York Times has a story on Medical Malpractice. As we know from allegorical evidence the Medical and Medical insurance industries are a falling apart due to the costs imposed by Medical Malpractice. Well, actually that may not be the whole truth. Mr. Herbert reports that, according to the Center for Justice and Democracy;

"It may be hard to understand why `tort reform' is even on the national agenda at a time when insurance industry profits are booming, tort filings are declining, only 2 percent of injured people sue for compensation, punitive damages are rarely awarded, liability insurance costs for businesses are minuscule, medical malpractice insurance and claims are both less than 1 percent of all health care costs in America, and premium-gouging underwriting practices of the insurance industry have been widely exposed."

Well, that's a bit of a different picture than the one usually painted isn't it? Hmmmmm. Herbert also exposes the standard, almost cartoonish disinterestedness of people in the medical industry (most notably the Doctor from South Carolina, who stated, referring to a woman that had had both of her breasts removed in a medical mix up, that "She did not lose her life, and with the plastic surgery she'll have breast reconstruction better than she had before." Mr. Herbert chooses not to give this dingbat a name, showing greater restraint than I would have).

Anyway the article is worth checking out. I stand by my long term policy of trusting the American people. I don't like laws which tell judges and juries that they are too dumb to figure out legal cases (but a bunch of Congressmen can figure out the appropriate responses to any case that might come down the pike).

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Your Weekly Rush; Fahrenheit 911

Rush Limbaugh echoes the PABAAH line about Fahrenheit 911. You should call your local theater and ask them not to show it. Or to put it in his own words . . .

"So what you should do, and it would probably be more effective, is to get as many people as you can to bombard a local theater in Omaha, if there is one that's going to screen the movie and say you don't think that this is right because this movie is not a movie. It's not a documentary. It's being misrepresented as to what it is. It's just nothing but propaganda and that you think a responsible theater owner wouldn't lend his screen to this purpose."

I am a bit stunned to find out Fahrenheit 911 isn't a movie. I guess it must be a Slide Show? An Interpretive Dance Performance? A Staged Reading of Haikus? I mean if it's not a movie, I guess Rush has a point. You show movies in a movie theater, so if Fahrenheit 911 isn't a movie, that wouldn't be the appropriate venue for it.

Oh, wait, apparently it is a movie. It's on film and everything.

As for it being propaganda, well Rush thinks that any presentation of the liberal position is propaganda (as opposed to what he does). Contrast his opinion on whether or not people should be able to go to the movie theater and see Mr. Moores movie vs. his opinion on whether or not his extremely conservative radio show should be balanced by something liberal on Armed Services Radio.

He also follows another aspect of the PABAAH line; we're guaranteed to fail, so it doesn't matter if we try. ". . . the odds are that we're not going to stop it. Nobody is going to able to stop it from being seen . . ."

So it's ok to try to censor a movie, so long as it doesn't seem likely that you will actually succeed. Not sure about the logic there, but what do I know. I'm just another liberal propogandist.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Messing around

Nothing to see here.

A bit on Fahrenheit 911

1. The movie will be shown in my home town of Tallahassee, Florida. Thinking of going the night it opens to take pictures of the crowd and any disturbances that might arise, although I doubt there will be any.

2. Those liars at Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti American Hollywood told another lie (how's that for moderate sensible dialogue). Well it's not that bad; I mean it's hard to believe that anybody would believe the lie since they link to the article that has the truth.

Here's the Lie. Moore's latest film project, Fahrenheit 9/11, is being supported by...terrorists.

Here's the Truth. Apparently after the movie had been made, some groups affiliated with Hezbollah have offered to help in distributing the movie in the United Arab Emirates. The original article where those PABAAH liars got their information from appeared in the Guardian U.K. and gives no indication that anybody connected with Mr. Moore accepted said help.

Still I don't want to be too hard on those liars. I mean this is a tough time for them; they've failed. The movie is going to be released and many Americans are going to see it. This is a real defeat for PABAAH, so I would imagine they are feeling pretty sorrowful.

3. Finally here's an interesting discussion of the role of criticism and Fahrenheit 911 by Roger Ebert.

Around the Horn; Part 34/37 The Day the World Turned Purple

Incidently that's part thirty-four thirty-sevenths, no part thirty four of thirty seven. Just in case it's not clear.

Words on a Page has a little article on fanatacisms. They're not just for Osama any more.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has the somewhat bone-chilling news that the Pentagon may be increasing its ability to spy within the United States.

Chris "Lefty" Brown has the scoop on Vice President Dick Cheneys true nature. Be prepared to be horrified and amused.

Speedkill has a missive on a recent poll taken among the Iraqi people that doesn't look that good.

Collective Sigh would appreciate it if you would not bring snakes around to any bars you might be going to.

And Then . . . has a great discussion of an article that appeared at Salon on the antipathy that many nations seem to feel for the United Statse.

Steve Gilliard's News Blog has a story on Signal Orange, an organization dedicated to raising American Awareness of those who have given their lives in President Bush's Iraq War.

The Fulcrum has a bit on Monty Python Alumnus Terry Jones and his reaction to the abuse / torture at Abu Ghraib Prison.

Rooks Rant has a somewhat redesigned web page and a piece on how we, the people, run the Government. So rather than complaining maybe we should make it better.

iddybud has a nice little humerous story; one filled with a bit of hope.

Anyway I'll be back later with a front page Wall Street Journal piece, so there's something to look forward too.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

If the President Says It, It Must be So!

The New York Times has a good article today on a recent embarrassment the administration suffered.

"Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. While it's possible that Mr. Bush and his top advisers really believed that there were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, they should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. No serious intelligence analyst believed the connection existed; Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief, wrote in his book that Mr. Bush had been told just that.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration convinced a substantial majority of Americans before the war that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. And since the invasion, administration officials, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, have continued to declare such a connection.
"

The Bush administration needs to figure out away to do what they've done with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Before the War they were claiming Hussein had WMD's that could threaten the United States at a moments notice, afterwards they claimed they had always been looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. That strategy has largely worked with the WMDs ("We're all actors in this I suppose."); they need to find a way to make it work with the Saddam/Al Qaeda link.

A Poem by Gil Scott-Heron

B-Movie

Well, the first thing I want to say is…”Mandate my ass!”

Because it seems as though we've been convinced that 26% of the registered voters, not even 26% of the American people, but 26% of the registered voters form a mandate – or a landslide. 21% voted for Skippy and 3, 4% voted for somebody else who might have been running.

But, oh yeah, I remember. In this year that we have now declared the year from Shogun to Reagan, I remember what I said about Reagan…meant it. Acted like an actor…Hollyweird. Acted like a liberal. Acted like General Franco when he acted like governor of California, then he acted like a republican. Then he acted like somebody was going to vote for him for president. And now we act like 26% of the registered voters is actually a mandate. We're all actors in this I suppose.

What has happened is that in the last 20 years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune…the consumer has got to dance. That's the way it is. We used to be a producer – very inflexible at that, and now we are consumers and, finding it difficult to understand. Natural resources and minerals will change your world. The Arabs used to be in the 3rd World. They have bought the 2nd World and put a firm down payment on the 1st one. Controlling your resources we'll control your world. This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now. They don't know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan. They don't know if they want to be diplomats or continue the same policy - of nuclear nightmare diplomacy. John Foster Dulles ain't nothing but the name of an airport now.

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can – even if it's only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse - or the man who always came to save America at the last moment – someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in “B” movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan – and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at – like a “B” movie.

Come with us back to those inglorious days when heroes weren't zeros. Before fair was square. When the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway to the days of the wondrous “B” movie. The producer underwritten by all the millionaires necessary will be Casper “The Defensive” Weinberger – no more animated choice is available. The director will be Attila the Haig, running around frantically declaring himself in control and in charge. The ultimate realization of the inmates taking over at the asylum. The screenplay will be adapted from the book called “Voodoo Economics” by George “Papa Doc” Bush. Music by the “Village People” the very military "Macho Man."

“Company!!!”
“Macho, macho man!”
“ Two-three-four.”
“ He likes to be – well, you get the point.”
“Huuut! Your left! Your left! Your left…right, left, right, left, right…!”

A theme song for saber-rallying and selling wars door-to-door. Remember, we're looking for the closest thing we can find to John Wayne. Clichés abound like kangaroos – courtesy of some spaced out Marlin Perkins, a Reagan contemporary. Clichés like, “itchy trigger finger” and “tall in the saddle” and “riding off or on into the sunset.” Clichés like, “Get off of my planet by sundown!” More so than clichés like, “he died with his boots on.” Marine tough the man is. Bogart tough the man is. Cagney tough the man is. Hollywood tough the man is. Cheap stick tough. And Bonzo's substantial. The ultimate in synthetic selling: A Madison Avenue masterpiece – a miracle – a cotton-candy politician…Presto! Macho!

“Macho, macho man!”

Put your orders in America. And quick as Kodak your leaders duplicate with the accent being on the dupes - cause all of a sudden we have fallen prey to selective amnesia - remembering what we want to remember and forgetting what we choose to forget. All of a sudden, the man who called for a blood bath on our college campuses is supposed to be Dudley “God-damn” Do-Right?

“You go give them liberals hell Ronnie.” That was the mandate. To the new “Captain Blighe” on the new ship of fools. It was doubtlessly based on his chameleon performance of the past - as a liberal democrat – as the head of the Studio Actor's Guild. When other celluloid saviors were cringing in terror from McCarthy – Ron stood tall. It goes all the way back from Hollywood to hillbilly. From liberal to libelous, from “Bonzo” to Birch idol…born again. Civil rights, women's rights, gay rights…it's all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

Nostalgia, that's what we want…the good ol' days…when we gave'em hell. When the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it. To a time when movies were in black and white – and so was everything else. Even if we go back to the campaign trail, before six-gun Ron shot off his face and developed hoof-in-mouth. Before the free press went down before full-court press. And were reluctant to review the menu because they knew the only thing available was – Crow.

Lon Chaney, our man of a thousand faces - no match for Ron. Doug Henning does the make-up - special effects from Grecian Formula 16 and Crazy Glue. Transportation furnished by the David Rockefeller of Remote Control Company. Their slogan is, “Why wait for 1984? You can panic now...and avoid the rush.”

So much for the good news…

As Wall Street goes, so goes the nation. And here's a look at the closing numbers – racism's up, human rights are down, peace is shaky, war items are hot - the House claims all ties. Jobs are down, money is scarce – and common sense is at an all-time low on heavy trading. Movies were looking better than ever and now no one is looking because, we're starring in a “B” movie. And we would rather had John Wayne…we would rather had John Wayne.

"You don't need to be in no hurry.
You ain't never really got to worry.
And you don't need to check on how you feel.
Just keep repeating that none of this is real.
And if you're sensing, that something's wrong,
Well just remember, that it won't be too long
Before the director cuts the scene…yea."

“This ain't really your life,
Ain't really your life,
Ain't really ain't nothing but a movie.”
Great poem / song. I'm reading so many articles on Reagan. Some of them about how President Bush is just like Reagan. Some on how we Liberals hated Reagan and are now faking an admiration for him. And a few on stem cell research and how Reagan wouldn't have wanted it. Just made me think of this song, which I was first exposed to on Underworld's contribution to the Back to Mine Series (a darn good series by the way). So I posted the lyrics to it.

One of the stories I find interesting is that apparently while President Reagan was President and obviously a political figure Senator Kerry made some staunch criticisms of Reagan. Now part of this is the whole shell game of "See Kerry's trying to claim the Reagan legacy, but really he didn't like Reagan's policy." Well I'm not sure Kerry is trying to claim the Reagan legacy. But it's an interesting conundrum, isn't it? I mean everybody I criticize is going to die someday.

What if Ann Coulter died tomorrow (and let me clarify that I hope she doesn't because frankly I need the material), I would probably say something about how she had a lot of passion and wrote reasonably well. Isn't that what people do? If someone dies you say nice things about them. But obviously that's not the whole story, is it?

Anyway reading all those articles made me want to post B-Movie.

Nice Moderate Discourse

Gary Aldrich chose to write his article this week on good old Hillary Clinton. Actually it's about the unveiling of the Presidential Portrait of President Clinton, but mostly it's about Hillary Clinton.

Apparently Hillary was wearing the following outfit.



Of all the indignities that women in our Society suffer, this is one that would drive me nuts. Basically Aldrich's article is an analysis of what Ms. Hillary Clinton is thinking based on what she is wearing. The assumption is that what a woman wears is automatically worth commenting on because it is a window into her soul.

Of course it's harder with men. "Here we see Dick Cheney wearing a dark suit and a white shirt with a tie, basically the same outfit every politician has worn since the turn of the century (not counting the brief cardigan dark ages). It looks like Mr. Cheney is a mindless conformist just wanting to do what everybody else does."

Nope it's just women that get to be analyzed based on what they wear. Fortunately, with Ms. Hillary Clinton it's a little easier, because Mr. Aldrich can assume a core of pure evil. Yep he already knows Hillary is evil (and, for good measure, a communist) so analyzing that blue dress isn't all that hard.

"I found it interesting that she came to the White House on Sunday dressed in a bright pastel - still a pantsuit - but one that would be suitable for a nationwide photo-op.

She was not disappointed. Saint Hillary's smiling puss graced the front page of the conservative Washington Times, in living color. Editors, perhaps attempting to shelter readers from too much exaggerated glee, tightly pulled facial muscles, and arched eyebrows over saucer-sized eyeballs, chose a colorful car bomb for the above fold.
"

Aldrich ends his article with these lines.

"The other day, I watched a cat stalk and torture a helpless mouse - just before she killed and ate it. I swear I saw her grinning. The lesson? The mouse should never drop his guard because the cat has no sense of mercy and the cat is always hungry."

Nice. Not much subtlety there, is there? Hillary is Evil with a capital E, apparently.

What was that that someone was saying about how mean spirited our national discourse was getting?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Build a Better Light Bulb

Salon has a fascinating article on the efficiency (or lack there of) of the lightbulb today. The article is well written and easy to understand, plus it has a subject that seems dull until you read it.

The Part is not the Whole

Ben Shapiro's latest article is one that I have a hard time reacting to. It is basically an argument that Jews must support President Bush. He presents a lot of vague sounding statements about how the current anti-Semite members of congress are all liberals. Of course he's careful to throw Robert Byrd in there, due to his affiliation with the Klan of about 60 years ago or so. I know that in one or two instances he is quoting the Senator or Representative out of context.

Ben then makes the following hyperbolic statements;

"For all the Jews who fear American Christianity, the most tolerant and philosemitic ideology the world has ever seen . . .

President Bush and the American right have been the best friends to the Jewish community in the annals of modern history.
"

Kind of over the top statements. As for American Christianity being the most tolerant ideology the world has ever seen. Well, as an American Christian I'm not sure I agree with this.

Oh and Ben does repeat the historical distortion that Fascism is a left wing phenomenon. Fascism, for those who don't know, is a right wing phenomenon. That's not to say that President Bush is a fascist or anything like that; just that fascism sprang from the ideology of the right (in the same way that the horrors of Stalinism sprang from the left).

I'm also not show how I would react if a person of my faith were to write this article. Scratch that. I know how I'd react, and it would not be positively.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Conservative Judges

Robert Sheer's latest article reveals that apparently the person who wrote the memo in defense of torture is now a judge on the 9th circuit court of appeals.

"Conservatives once were identified with protecting the rights of the individual against the unbridled power of government, but this is not your grandfather's conservatism. The current brand running things in D.C. holds that the commander in chief is above all law and that the ends always justify the means. This has paved the way for the increasingly well-documented and systematic use of torture in an ad hoc gulag archipelago for those detained anywhere in the world under the overly broad rubric of the "war on terror."

Kind of a tough situation. What we have is a memo at the beginning of this process that appears to be an intellectual justification for the administration to allow torture. We have the actual abuse / torture occurring in Abu Ghraib. It's hard not to believe there wasn't some sort of connection between the two. But I'd feel a little more comfortable seeing a flow chart of exactly how the decisions that led to torture were made.

But I understand that that is unlikely.

Let's see what happens

Well Cal Thomas has an article today reporting that the Southern Baptist convention is considering discussing an amendment that would suggest that all Southern Baptists take their kids out of public schools.

All Southern Baptists would either home school their kids or send them too a religious school.

". . . it has been the decision by too many parents to allow government to shape their children's worldview and values that is responsible for spiritual and intellectual disorder that now inhabits the souls and minds of too many offspring of Christian parents."

Tricky one that; how do you educate children of different religions and intellectual backgrounds without giving these poor Baptist kids some exposure to different philosophies and ideas? Of course later on in the article he talks about returning to intellectual standards, which one assumes means either corporal punishment or bible reading.

Of course in the long run this is just going to return Baptist Church Members to the days in which education was the privilage of those who could afford it. I mean if you are a poor Southern Baptist family who can't afford a religious school, you must teach your children at home. Fair enough; maybe with "Hooked on Phonics," poor Southern Baptist kids will learn how to read which would be a step up. A few might be educated even better than those kids in public education. But it seems excessively optimistic, even foolhardy, to assume that most parents possess the skills to teach their children effectively.

That is in fact why we have teachers, isn't it?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Confusion Beats

You might want to swing by the old Daily Howler website. Old man Daily Howler put up an item about them polecats of the press, particularly that old Grizzly Bear Russert. 'Cording to Old Man Daily Howler, Russerts claws might not be as sharp as they used to be. Or, it's possible Russert might not realize that there are 12 months in a year. Thankfully, Old Man Daily Howler is fighting for the 12 month year against them pesky varmits in the Bush Administration who prefer the 10 month and 1 week year.

Confusion Reigns

There is an interesting interview over at Salon which deals with the inter-agency squabbles over Iraq between the Department of Defense and the Central intelligence Agency. The subject of the interview is Thomas Powers, author of "Intelligence Wars; American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda." The interviewer is Mark Follman, who has done good interviews in the past. This one isn't bad, but it's clear that Follman is trying to take the interview a certain direction.

Anyway the focus of the interview and the book (apparently), as mentioned above, is the conflict between the CIA and the DOD. Near the end of the interview is this exchange.

Is the war inside the U.S. intelligence system completely off the charts historically? Is there any precedent for this?

I can't think of any. It's not uncommon for the various secret branches of the U.S. government to be at odds with each other. The CIA quarreled with the Defense Department for years over Soviet missiles, but I don't remember anything like this. The CIA was present when that team of Iraqi police went in and ransacked Chalabi's compound. I mean, that's amazing. The only thing that would've made it more amazing was if it had happened in Washington.

In a way it reminds me of the "Night of the long knives" in 1934, the night when Hitler got rid of the Brown Shirts, the street fighting organization that had helped the Nazi Party come to power. It was a highly organized institution bitterly hated by the army. It was run by a bunch of people who were politically ambitious and were direct rivals of the group that came into power with Hitler. Literally in one night the offices and headquarters of this group were raided and many of them were killed in their beds. Immediately all kinds of propaganda came out about their low behavior and betrayal. It was an internal government bloodletting where one faction just simply swept the other off the scene.

What the CIA did to Chalabi isn't exactly the same, but it makes me worry even more about the level of covert fighting inside our own government.
It is a bit troubling, particularly after the Bush administration and their supporters have assured us repeatedly that "now the adults are in charge."

Eliminating Confusion

After perusing Mike S. Adams latest article, we, the secret masters of everything have determined that it is just too difficult to distinguish between Arabs who are guilty of terrorist acts and Arabs who are not guilty of terrorist acts. So we are holding the entire Arab "race" responsible for the actions of any terrorist.

Now some of you are wondering, "What about people who aren't ethnically Arab, but are Muslim? And what about people who aren't ethnically Arab but look like Arabs?" Well, in the interest of further simplification, let's just say that all Muslims or people who look like Arabs are in fact Arabs and thus guilty for all the acts of terrorism committed against the United States.

This simplifies things considerably. Adam's skeptical attitude towards the Torture at the Abu Ghraib prison (he puts abuse in quotation marks, suggesting not only does he question whether it was torture or not, he's not sure it's even abuse) is excused because they were Arabs and clearly guilty of something. We can disregard the Red Cross Report which suggested that 70 to 90 percent of the population of Abu Ghraib was arrested by mistake.

Also the tortured logic to his article resolves it self. He claims to be writing an apology to the Arab World for the abuse at Abu Ghraib, and yet he includes such phrases as this.

"I am sorry that Muslim extremists have not yet apologized for the U.S.S.
Cole, the embassy bombings, and for flying a plane into the World Trade Center, which collapsed in part on Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is one of our Holy Sites.
"

See the apparent conflict resolves itself; the Arab world is clearly Arab, therefore they are guilty for September 11th. So when Mr. Adams suggests dropping at least 100 Daisy Cutters on the Fallujah region, killing thousands of civilians, well, they are Arabs aren't they? Therefore they are guilty.

We, the secret masters of the world, hope this clears everything up. By the way you might be wondering why we choose to use an obscure website like this to announce these deep truths. Well it's cause the Author just made us up, and he didn't want to let us give free publicity to some other site.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

New Quote

And here is the New Quotes Page.

Enjoy.

Once upon a DreamCon Pt. 4

Well yesterday was the costume contest; a nice little affair. Here's some of the costumes; according to a more constant attender of Games, costumes were not that incredible. They looked pretty good to me, but what do I know?





Also played a game of Deliria last night, and it was a lot of fun. Deliria is apparently a game of modern horror and fantasy, somewhat like Mage and Changeling if you are familiar with those games. Here's the website if it sounds interesting; I can tell you the rules were easy enough and the set up was interesting.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Once upon a DreamCon Pt. 3

Well I'm here at Dream Con still. Attended panels this morning without annoying any of the panel members. I'm losing my touch. But went to panel on H.P. Lovecraft which was not the most exciting. And walked past the line of people waiting to get autographs from Ron Perlman.



Those musicians to the left sounded pretty good actually. Soothing.

Anyway back at it.

Once upon a DreamCon Pt. 2

Well yesterday was interesting. Went to a panal discussion with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, which was a bit depressing. Like all writers they stood up and said "Well, nobody makes any money in the writing game (except us of course), so you might as well give up right now."



Interesting to note the dynamic between the two; Pournelle is obviously a bit more of a businessman than Larry Niven.

Then I went to a room on where comics are going where I got under the panelists skin by mentioning CrossGen. What are you going to do?

Then I played a five hour game of Vampire the Resurrection which was annoying. There was a lot of good stuff, but it turns out little annoying kids come to these science fiction conventions as well, and one of them played with us.

They are also having some sort of boating convention here in town. So I took a picture of a boat. Here it is.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Once upon a DreamCon Pt. 1

Well I have arrived at Dream Con, got my room, parked (more difficult than it signs) signed in at the Dream Con, and now I'm up in my room writing to you, my loyal fans.

Also I've seen the truth, as emphasized by this sign.



In other news it's pretty quiet so far; although we have hopes that it will pick up. Caleb, who is providing libertarian commentary, stated, "As long as they are providing a service that people are willing to pay for, it will be a great event. I realize that's a stupid statement, but I had nothing."

Here's a picture of the creepy eye they make you walk past to get in.



More to come!

Around the Horn, Vol. XVI of XXVII; The Rise of the Hamburger

Quick blogaround today; for reasons I will explain at the end of my post.

Echidne of the Snakes has a very thought provoking article on the Mummy Wars and the expectations that are placed upon women.

It's Craptastic is doing a series on Medicare and Medicaid, of which the latest post is here. Interesting political ramifications.

Trish Wilson reveals that there are some sharp tacks out there who don't want women to have the vote.

Respectful of Otters has some typically well thought out comments on the memos which laid the "intellectual" ground work for Abu Ghraib.

musing's musings has a bit on a very scary bit of information coming out of the White House. Unsure how accurate this is, but it is definitely scary.

Bark Bark Wolf Wolf has a review of some recent poll numbers that look good for Kerry and bad for President Bush; although he also cautions against being to optimistic.

bloggg has a picture of a wombat. Not a very flattering picture.

Corrente has a section on President Bush's mental health. Such as it is.

Anyway I'm off. I am on the road to DreamCon which is a science fiction type convention. I will be doing reports from the convention, complete with pictures and additional commentary. Look forward to it. And yes, I am kind of a geek. Why do you ask?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Meet Michael Badnarik

Apparently the Libertarian Party has selected their candidate in Michael Badnarik. According to the Economist (which I purchased this very day, and so can't link to), he was kind of a dark house candidate, but won over the convention.

Did he think al-Qaeda was behind the September 11th attacks? He was not sure; "I know I don't necessarily believe everything the federal government tells me." From a Libertarian's point of view, an excellent answer. Elsewhere Mr. Badnarik has promised, if elected, to wear his handgun during state-of-the-union addresses, blow up empty United Nations buildings and require violent criminals to lie in bed all day for the first month of their incarceration.

Sounds like an interesting guy, and I wish them all the best.

Does Torture Work?

One of the arguments in favor of torture is the practical one; if we need the information to save lives, why not torture to get it? Donald P. Gregg, Former National Security Advisor (to George H. W. Bush) and Ambassador to Korea has an interesting answer to that question.

"In 1951, as a young paramilitary officer trainee in the C.I.A., I heard my instructors say that to win the cold war, "fighting fire with fire" would be required. I remember asking, how, if we did that, we could maintain any distinction between what we stood for, and what our communist opponents represented. I was told to sit down and shut up.

But the agency, I am gratified to say, took a strong stand against the use of torture in Vietnam. Under William Colby's direction, interrogation centers were set up, under American control, and coercive techniques were forbidden. I learned from my experiences in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972 that by treating prisoners humanely we frequently (though not always) gained valuable intelligence from them. This was particularly true of battered prisoners who had held out against prolonged South Vietnamese torture, but responded to being treated with compassion by Americans.
"

Something to consider.

President Reagan and President Bush

Interesting article by Arianna Huffington on the difference between the vision of America presented by President Reagan and the vision presented by President Bush.

"Reagan built his legacy on hope; Bush has built his on fear. And no matter how hard Karl Rove tries, he'll never be able to cloak Bush in Reagan's mantle. It just doesn't fit."

Good article all the way through; she also covers hedgehogs and fox's. I'm a fox who wants to pretend to be a hedgehog. But I'm really a fox.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

A Note

I'm kind of out of it for various reasons today; hopefully I'll be back up to full speed tomorrow.

A Poem by Emily Dickinson

’T WAS just this time last year I died.
I know I heard the corn,
When I was carried by the farms,—
It had the tassels on.

I thought how yellow it would look
When Richard went to mill;
And then I wanted to get out,
But something held my will.

I thought just how red apples wedged
The stubble’s joints between;
And carts went stooping round the fields
To take the pumpkins in.

I wondered which would miss me least,
And when Thanksgiving came,
If father ’d multiply the plates
To make an even sum.

And if my stocking hung too high,
Would it blur the Christmas glee,
That not a Santa Claus could reach
The altitude of me?

But this sort grieved myself, and so
I thought how it would be
When just this time, some perfect year,
Themselves should come to me.

- 1924

Life and How to Live It

This is the rule I care about today. Do not buy puppies from a chain Pet Store without doing some research.

Most puppies in chain Pet Stores (PetSmart being an exception) come from what are called puppy mills. Here is PETA's description of a puppy mill.

"Recently, PETA found dogs at one puppy mill living on hard wire with no bedding, little protection from the searing hot summers or the frigid winters, and little to no veterinary care. Crusted, oozing eyes, raging ear infections, mange that turned skin into a mass of red scabs, abscessed feet from the unforgiving wire floors—all were ignored or inadequately treated. Some dogs injured their feet by catching them in the wire of their cages, and they hobbled painfully around their small space, trying to keep their balance. The collar on one Labrador retriever had not been adjusted as the dog grew and had become embedded in his flesh. Even though the gangrenous skin fell away as the collar was removed, his neck was treated with nothing but a worm-repellant spray.

Timid dogs were terrorized by their more aggressive cagemates, who often prevented them from eating and drinking. Sadly, many of the old mother dogs had gone mad from confinement and loneliness. They circled frantically in their small cages and paced ceaselessly back and forth—their only way of coping with their despair.

These conditions are typical at hundreds of puppy mills across the country. Laws offer little protection and are poorly enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"

Since the government is apparently powerless to affect this situation; it is up to us as consumers to remove the demand for Puppy Mills. Instead of getting a puppy that way, why not contact your local vets or animal shelters. Consider adopting an older dog; I can speak from experience that they are often very good companions. PetSmart (who I am not affiliated with in anyway) has a program whereby you can adopt an older dog. I plan on availing myself of it in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway you all probably know this already; but I thought I would remind anybody who didn't know.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Danger! Danger!

There was an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal on a new memo that has come forth in which the Bush Administration explored the legal jungle created by the administrations willingness to consider using torture as a tool in the war in terror. Bad enough already, but one part of the article is particularly frightening

To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."

You'll see this discussed around the blogosphere today. The phrase is pretty chilling, but thankfully, the Wall Street Journal buried it pretty deep in the article.

Still the implications are clear enough. The Bush administration, or parts of it, consider the President above the law.

Talking Points Memo (from which I lifted the quote, although I do have the paper and could have typed it out myself (if I weren't so darn lazy)) has a great discussion of this, tying it back to Jefferson.

The press needs to ask President Bush or his press secretary what this means and if the President himself believes it. I suspect the answer will be something like "I will do everything I can to protect the American people." Which is an answer, more or less. Still, the odds are, he'll never have to answer the question.

Even Better than the Real Thing

Paul Krugman has an article today on Reagan (as does everybody else). In it he looks at the Mantra that Reagan lowered taxes and therefore we had an enormous boom. As it turns out the facts don't exactly bear that out, and the true story is a bit more complicated than that.

". . . Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.

The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase.

The contrast with President Bush is obvious. President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts.
"

The world is almost always more complicated than it first appears. But I guess you knew that.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A Poem By E. E. Cummings



Had to make this a picture so as to get the spacing right. Plus makes it stand out. Enjoy.

Not that this wasn't Predictable

But Media Matters has a bit on how the right wing is trying desperately to connect Ronald Reagan and President Bush in our minds.

You can kind of see why; I mean I'd rather run on Reagan's record than President George W. Bush's. No Contest.

History

"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity." - Cicero

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we made today." - Henry Ford

I just want to say that the true evaluation of Ronald Reagan's life will not happen for a couple of months at best, and more likely it will take a couple of years. A lot of people are going to try; some are even going to try hard. But right now there's too much emotion invested in his passing for anybody to think straight.

Right now a lot of the discussion is centered on a childish black and white level. Reagan was either totally great or terribly terrible. It should be obvious that those two options can't really contain the fullness of even a normal life, let along one like Reagans.

Plus you have politics thrown into the mix. If you thought that Democrats politicized the Paul Wellstone memorial, you haven't seen anything yet. For the Republican party and their media buddies (like, say, Fox News) this week is going to be about reminding us that President Reagan was one of the two great presidents of the 20th century and that President Bush is a lot like him. So watch for that.

The difference being, of course, that President Bush's and the media's enthusiasm for Reagan is genuine and heartfelt; what happened at the Wellstone Memorial was a cynically staged political rally (for a good dissection of this, check out "Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them" by Al Franken.

Anyway I guess I agree with John W. Gardner (as quoted by Bill Moyers).

"History never looks like history when you are living through it."