Thursday, March 31, 2005

The End of Civilization

According to the New York Times, Moby's new Album "Hotel" signals the end of civilization. Apparently the fact that Moby's "Play" achieved synergy by having it's songs licensed to commercials, and the fact that this reviewer didn't like it very much, makes some larger point about music as commodity which somehow signals the end of history.

Yeah, it's kind of confusing to me too.

But then I liked "Play." I liked "18" as well. Moby is not as good as, say, the Chemical Brothers or Underworld, and he is kind of on a high horse some of the time, but he's ok.

The Obvious

You know who they are, and they know who they are: Christian or conservative camera hogs beloved by media liberals pleased to broadcast the threatening image of right-wing would-be dictators.

The good news is that they care enough to show up at demonstrations. The bad news is that their belligerence alienates millions.
This is from Marvin Olasky's latest article. I do feel for his prediciment; certainly it's frusterating being held accountable for the fringe elements in one's party. Of course in my sympathetic mind I will not point out that his side has also mastered the technique of pointing to the fringe and claiming they are the center. Read an article or two by Ann Coulter and you will see this on full display. But, of course, it would be churlish to mention that while I'm offering symapthy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Party Divided

Jonah Goldberg in his latest article takes on certain gloom and doom prophecies by libertarian Conservatives over the future of the Republican Party. Some, including popular bloggers Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan are apparently concerned that the party has lost its way. Goldberg, naturally, disagrees. He surmises that the current brouhaha over Terri Schiavo won't really sink the party. I agree with him there; the next elections are a long way away, and memory is short. That said it could derail some of President Bush's short term plans.

The rest of his article is weaker. More or less he comments on how the people have predicted doom for the party, but that doom has not come to past. So the people predicting doom this time around probably aren't right either.

He also references the New Deal coalition that FDR built, and points out the inherent inconsistencies there. He does not, point out, however, that the New Deal Coalition began crumbling shortly after FDRs death and is now barely a memory.

Personally I think we need to define what we mean by the party breaking up or having hard times or whatever. Do we mean that the party will cease to exist? We'll I'd agree that that is unlikely in the extreme. Do we mean that the party will lose the current power it has? I would think that would be inevitable. The American people aren't 100% Conservative or Liberal. On some issues they seem to agree with the Republican Party; on others they agree with the Democratic. So it seems like eventually the Democrats will come back on top.

The thing about being out of power is it makes you focused. And the thing about being in power is it makes you arrogant.

Those kids today

Tony Blankley's latest is about how the gossip industry is apparently being undercut by those rotten internet gossipers. Apparently it's harder than it used to be for the print gossipists. And Mr. Blankley places the blame on, well, guys without basements.
But today, inexperienced youthful readers are willing to consume cheaply produced rumors by unlicensed persons in their basements -- if they even have basements. Knowing the type, they probably only have lofts. Having a basement suggests a substantial building of multiple stories. But today's decadent youth don't care from where they get their rumors.
I should note at this point that recycling the title "Sometimes I Can't Tell the Difference between Parody and Reality" might have been a good idea. Mr. Blankley is either decrying teh internet destroying traditional media outlets or he is "praising with faint damns" those internet guys who are going to dstroy the traditional media outlets. Hard to tell which.

And what's with the bashing of people without basements?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Blogging Blues

I've been trying to get the post below posted for the last three hours. In the meant time I had another post idea. This one from reading Pat Sajak's blog in which he recounts a discussion with a fellow liberal.
Recently, for example, I was discussing the United Sates Supreme Court with on of my many Liberal friends out in Los Angeles when she said, without any discernible embarrassment, that Justice Anton Scalia was "worse than Hitler." Realizing she wasn't alive during World War II and perhaps she may have been absent on those days when her schoolmates were studying Nazism, I reminded her of some of Hitler's more egregious crimes against humanity, suggesting she may have overstated the case. She had not; Scalia was worse.
You'd think this experience (and others he references) might just prove that Mr. Sajak has poor taste in liberal friends, but he's going for a more general principle. Apparently arguing with liberals is a fruitless endeavor.
. . . it served to remind me of how difficult it is to have serious discussions about politics or social issues with committed members of the Left. They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers.
Mr. Sajak's argument about the sorry state of liberalism hinges on us all believing that his experience is typical, that most liberals run around comparing their enemies to Hitler. Now, to be fair, some probably do. But is that the majority of them? And is that mainstream liberals?

An obvious counter to this might be to bring out quotes by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and others. I can find quotes that talk about how liberals in general are just plain bad people. We are called stupid, mushy-headed, death-lovers, weak, spineless, hateful, and so on and so forth. And not just a few of our more objectionable leaders, but all of our leaders and all of us. When you compare that to an idiot friend of Pat Sajak's being mean to Justice Scalia, well, I'm not sure it measures up.

Your Weekly Rush: Salvaging something from the Wreckage

OK this is my third pass at writing this post. While Republicans attempts to politicize Terri Schiavo's situation have, in part, backfired, Rush Limbaugh is still trying to dissuade his listeners from leaving the party.
When this is all over, and it's going to be over someday, are we going to go back to being complacent and are we going to go back to refusing to support representatives and senators who have the guts to challenge some of this judicial supremacy? Are we going to encourage them to reign in these rogue courts? Are we going to stand by Tom DeLay and Santorum and support them, who are at the top of the liberal hit list? Are we going to engage the left when the president nominates a new chief justice as early as June or are we going to let the liberal Hollywood groups continue to run the confirmation show? And are we going to continue to let the Democrats in the Senate filibuster?
So obviousl Rush would like to channel the anger of the Christian right away from Republican Politicians who failed to save Ms. Schiavo and towards "Activist Judges." There's a good chance it will work.

Too Far Gone

President Bush and Governor Bush and their Republican allies are in shaky territory. By taking direct action in the Terri Schiavo case, they have annoyed much of the country, who do not feel that this action was warranted. On the other hand, by not actually saving her life, they risk angering the religious right.

It's gotten so bad, that even some of the pundits are admitting the obvious. Matt Towery admits that the polls show this to be an unpopular proposition (previously Conservatives had suggested that such polls were slanted). He also noted the trouble that President Bush and his followers find themselves in.
The emergency congressional action two weekends ago that tried to save Schiavo's life could potentially have a boomerang political effect on the White House and the Republicans in Congress. My update is that the boomerang has come whizzing back even faster than expected.

. . . It had become painfully clear that much of the nation felt Congress had overreached in its actions.

Even more frustrating to Republicans was the verbal beating that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was taking from fanatical, save Schiavo activists. They urged him to have state law enforcement officers storm Schiavo's hospice and take her into custody. They even accused both President George W. Bush and Jeb Bush of not helping at all!
Cal Thomas, on the other hand, suggests that breaking the law to save Terri Schiavo's life is probably not a good idea.
The Miami Herald reported Saturday that agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park they were going to conduct such an operation. The newspaper said agents backed down rather than confront local police outside the hospice. Certain people seem to be arguing that only those laws and judicial rulings with which they agree are to be obeyed. That invites anarchy.
The problem with this argument (that preserving the rule of law takes precedence over saving Terri Schiavo's life) is that when Democrats pushed it last week we were promoting a culture of death. And when Republicans push it this week, they are not promoting a culture of death. I think you can see what the deciding factor is.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sometimes I Can't Tell the Difference between Parody and Reality

I was reading the DAOU REPORT over at Salon. It's a run down of blogs on the left and the right, and it's worth checking out from time to time. Anyway it linked to a discussion of our relationship with China over at The first part was correct enough, covering how the China are the closest we have to rivals right now, and how we should be somewhat concerned about their growing power. Then there was this interesting bit.
We cannot yield out standard of living to them. We have no reason to. China has always been an inferior nation and deserves to be. We ought not surrender, we ought not compromise. There is no rational reason for us to consider sharing with the Chinese so long as any other option remains open to us. I, for one, am not willing to surrender the least part of my standard of living to help a billion and a quarter Chinese get what they want.
It could be that this intended as a parody of what Conservatism is perceived to be. The the terminology is pretty clear.

Let's say that Mr. Yoshida's standard of living allows him to eat 5 Dove Bars a week. If we could preserve peace with China but it would take him down to 4 Dove bars a week, for Mr. Yoshida that is too high a price to pay. Which, I have to say, isn't probably the most solid foundation on which to build a future foreign policy on.

World of Warcraft

For those of you who are interested in World of Warcraft you can listen to Blizzard's chief storyteller here at NPR. Among other things he talks about how the medium of video games is still in its infancy and who knows what great works it might produce. Specifically he says that computer / video games have yet to produce their Moby Dick.

I don't know what to think about that, myself. I can certainly think of games that have stuck with me, and other games that haven't. Age of Empires II. Starcraft. Jedi Knight (Dark Forces II). Half Life. Grim Fandango. Some of those games had really interesting stories to tell (Grim Fandango and Starcraft). Some had interesting ways to tell a story (Half Life). Age of Empires II, on the other hand, had no story at all to speak of. And yet I played it a million times. It's game play was smooth and enjoyable (nothing like seeing your archers cut down the enemy before they got close).

The other problem is technological innovation and game play improvements. Anybody playing World of Warcraft and then going back and playing Everquest would notice, of course, the graphical difference. But there are also different design elements. People play each others games, and if one company comes up with an advance, most other games will eventually borrow it. Does that mean that, say, Diablo is no longer any fun to play?

I guess I'm just rambling at this point. How do we judge good art verses hack art? The standards are different in each genre. A great film works differently than a great painting. And reading a great book is a different experience than listening a great symphony. Mull it over and get back to me.

The Amazing Two Headed Country!

Just in case you missed the point to this whole Terri Shiavo story, here it is, coherently summarized by John Leo.
Think of the Terri Schiavo case as another red-versus-blue issue. Congress, Republican-dominated and therefore mostly red, asked the federal courts to take a fresh look. The federal judiciary, in its customary imperial blue, contemptuously told Congress to take a hike. It wouldn't delay the execution for even a few days. For that, you need to be a convicted cop killer.
Yep. Republicans want to save life, Democrats want to snuff it out. "One wants to love; one wants to kill," as the old two headed monster movie poster read.

And there it is. Or, at least, that is what our buddies in the Conservative Movement would like you to believe.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Pictures of Lupita

Here are some pictures of my new buddy.

The bottom is her crate. To me it looks a lot like a cage, but I think we like calling it a crate because we don't like thinking of putting our dogs in cages. On the other hand, she does seem really comfortable with it. Put some water in there and food and a blanket.

Anyway hope you had a nice weekend too.

New Format, New Quote!

Since I screwed up the blog last week, we will be returning to weekly changes for a number of weeks. Also finally updated the Quotes Page.

I have a new dog, which is why this weekend's posting has been sparse, but I will pick up again tomorrow, and will post pictures of Lupita later on tonight.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Around the Horn and the Process (part IV?)

Before we do the Process, let's mention that In Search of Telford has been added to the blog roll over to the right there. Enjoy. I will say that Telford is a word that seems to cry out for me to add in additional unnecessary letters.

OK, to the Process of putting together an "Around the Horn" post. Some bloggers, Bark Bark Woof Woof notably, do blog-a-rounds of the entire Liberal Coalition. I salute them, but I don't think that would work for me. Because I'm somewhat lazy, and also because I'm too talkative. And also because I really enjoy consistency. I want to be able to do a blog-a-round every week, and if I did the entire liberal coalition I simply wouldn't actually do it.

So I've decided to do smaller blog-a-rounds, usually between 8 and 11 websites at a time. This also affords me the opportunity to comment on the posts a bit more than I might if I was doing the entire liberal coalition. In order to ensure that I don't miss any members of the Liberal Coalition, I have a Excel Spreadsheet (entitled, for reasons passing understanding, "Liberal Coalition Jonses") to keep track of how many hits each blog has received from me. For those curious Echidne of the Snakes has received the most hits from me with 18, and In Search of Telford has received the fewest with 2 (including today's). But of course In Search of Telford has the lowest amount of hits because it's new to the list.

Anyway on to this weeks selection of links.

In picking a link from a website, you always start at the top and go down--which means a lot of the time the top story is the one you link to. Just the way it goes. You generally read down until you find something you like and if the first story is something you like, well, that's the one that you use.

And Then . . . has some good commentary on recent attempts by the Bush Administration to blur the difference between government propaganda and the evening news.

blogAmy has a story on stuff that happened over the weekend that may not have been reported in any great detail.

For those interested in Comic Books, Chris "Lefty" Brown has a post on a recent event put together by Warren Ellis on the future of Comic Books.

Collective Sigh has an interesting theory on why President Bush seems to be bouncing around a little bit more than normally.

Dohiyi Mir has the word on the top 20 Monty Python Sketches. He would add the Australian Bruces sketch, which I agree with. I would also add the Election Returns ("May I just say that this is the last time I will ever be on television?"), How not to Be Seen, and The Science Fiction Sketch.

The Gamer's Nook has an interesting poem / song up. I guess it's a song, but it reads like a poem. Might look it up on Rhapsody later if I can.

Rooks Rant has a section on how the war in Iraq has been reported. Or misreported as the case might be.

Trish Wilson's Blog has the news that apparently we are crazier than other parts of the world. Not sure what to think about that.

And that's it for another week. I'll be back later with some stuff about something. Hooray!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Higher Standard

A while back I wrote about the torture issue in relation to Alberto Gonzales being named Attorney General. Today Thomas Friedman talks about the higher standard our troops fought under in the American Revolution.
What is particularly moving is one of Mr. Fischer's concluding sections, "An American Way of War," in which he contrasts how Washington dealt with prisoners of war with how the British and Hessian forces did: "According to the 'the laws' of European war, quarter was the privilege of being allowed to surrender and to become a prisoner. By custom and tradition, soldiers in Europe believed that they had a right to extend quarter or deny it. ... In these 'laws of war,' no captive had an inalienable right to be taken prisoner, or even to life itself."

American attitudes were very different. "With some exceptions, American leaders believed that quarter should be extended to all combatants as a matter of right. ... Americans were outraged when quarter was denied to their soldiers." In one egregious incident, at the battle at Drake's Farm, British troops murdered all seven of Washington's soldiers who had surrendered, crushing their brains with muskets.

"The Americans recovered the mutilated corpses and were shocked," wrote Mr. Fischer. The British commander simply denied responsibility. "The words of the British commander, as much as the acts of his men," wrote Mr. Fischer, "reinforced the American resolve to run their own war in a different spirit. ... Washington ordered that Hessian captives would be treated as human beings with the same rights of humanity for which Americans were striving. The Hessians ... were amazed to be treated with decency and even kindness. At first they could not understand it." The same policy was extended to British prisoners.
Worth thinking about, particularly if you consider in light of the 26 prisoners who have died in United States Custody (as Mr. Friedman does).

Another Voice

I hate to bring up Terri Schiavo, but popular libertarian radio host Neal Boortz wrote on this issue today, taking a somewhat different tack than his fellows on the right.
As Rush opens the hour he has a question; a question for “you liberals.” He wants to know “Why do you want Terri Schiavo to die?”

. . . I want Terri Schiavo to die because I believe she’s earned it.

I don’t view death as the end of the journey of a human soul. I view it as a transition. The God I believe in would not waste the total life experiences of a man or woman made in his image on a total and complete death; a dead end, if you will, with nothing to follow. I cannot believe that it is God’s plan that the life experiences of a man; wisdom gained, lessons learned and love experienced, should, upon death, disappear as if they never were. I believe that there’s something to follow the life we know on this earth; and I believe that most of the people fighting to keep the body of Terri Schiavo alive feel the same way.
A worthwhile article to check out, and at any rate it puts a little bit of a wrench in the argument that Liberals want death / Conservatives want life argument that some on the right are trying to make.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Process - Part III

This is the first column after lunch, and by this time I've generally had all the Conservative Nonsense I am interested in having. So I generally have a few options. I can mine the sources I mentioned earlier. I can extend my search further out, maybe into the Blog-O-Sphere or to other publications I don't read as much. This is also a common point at which to post my observations about life (such as they are) or to try something humorous.

This time I am pulling something from the Nation, on Campus Leftism and Campus Rightism. The article is pretty good at poking holes in the rights arguments about campus diversity, but the most interesting part is right up front.
What fuels the persistent charges that professors are misleading the young?

A few factors might be adduced, but none are completely convincing. One is the age-old anti-intellectualism of conservatives. Conservatives distrust unregulated intellectuals. Forty years ago McCarthyism spurred Richard Hofstadter to write his classic Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. In addition, a basic insecurity plagues conservatives today, a fear that their reign will be short or a gnawing doubt about their legitimacy. Dissenting voices cannot be tolerated, because they imply that a conservative future may not last forever. One Noam Chomsky is one too many. Angst besets the triumphant conservatives. Those who purge Darwin from America's schools must yell in order to drown out their own misgivings, the inchoate realization that they are barking at the moon.
I do think there is definetely something to the idea that Conservatives are uncomfortable with dissenting voices, and, in a perfect world, such voices would not exist. This helps one understand Rush Limbaugh's critique of the media. He thinks that if the news media were unbiased and fair, they would sound a lot like him.

The Process - Part II

This is the mid-morning post, running a little later than I'd like, but not much. Usually I try to post again somewhere between 10:00 and 11:30. For this second post I have a number of options. I can go back to Townhall, and if I saw two interesting articles there, I often will I'll pick the easier article to write on for the morning post, and let my mind digest the other one a bit more. Alternatively I will go to a couple of other sources. I might visit Commondreams.Org or Working For Change if I want a liberal article, or I might visit the New York Times Editorial Page or the Village Voice to see if they have anything interesting. Haven't been to the Village Voice in a while come to think of it. Alternatively, I might just stumble across something interesting at another website, and post on that.

For example, this morning I read an interesting discussion of Kurt Gödel over at Salon. I try to keep links to Salon to a minimum. I think it's a brilliant website, but you have to either pay to watch it (as I have) or watch a brief ad in order to gain access to their content. In this case I think the article is strong enough to warrant a mention.

It is actually a book review of a recent book on Gödel's work, which seeks to place said work in the context of the times. Gödel (along with Einstein and Heisenberg) are often credited with having proved the unknowability of the universe. In fact, Gödel would probably have been uncomfortable with that interpretation of his work, which can be seen as a reaction and critique of the Vienna Circle and the Logical Positivists or Formalists.
If formalism were correct, then it followed that mathematics could also be overhauled so that every part of it was "consistent" and the entire system was "complete." It could be boiled down to a set of rules or axioms and procedures so basic and ironclad that a machine -- the computers that were just beyond the historical horizon -- could perform it. It could be finally purged of the paradoxes that had been plaguing the field for hundreds of years. Mathematical intuition, the source of ideas that can't be formally proven but possessing what Goldstein calls, "the urgent cogency that compels belief," has no place in such a system.

Gödel's theorem used the rules of formalism itself to demonstrate that the formalist project could never be achieved. In what Goldstein calls "one of the most astounding pieces of mathematical reasoning ever produced," he demonstrated that in the kind of system that the formalists aspired to, it was possible to make a statement that was both unprovable and yet also true. This works a little like the famous "liar's paradox," in which the statement "This statement is false," can only be true if it is also false and vice versa. But Gödel's theorem was not a paradox, precisely because it pointed to the difference between what could be proven and what was true.
I'm not sure I understand that completely, but I thought it was interesting.

The Process - The Process

Some of you might be wondering how I come up with material for this process. Well today I'm going to pull back the curtain a bit and show you what lies beneath. Or behind. I'm not really sure how that is supposed to work.

Anyway if I am up and around early enough I will take a quick gander at my computer between the time I am mostly ready for work, and the time I actually go to work. My first stop? Townhall. For those of you who aren't familiar with the site, it is run by the Conservative Heritage foundation and collects columns from Conservative Columnists everywhere. I scan the titles to see if one catches my eye, then I give it a gander. Sometimes I'll skim two or three articles. That way I can spend my time on the way to work thinking about how to respond.

If nothing catches my eye than I will pick it up again when I get to work, looking a little bit further into each article, trying to find some aspect that would make a good post. Today Townhall has presented me with 16 articles to review. 8 of these articles deal with the Terry Schavio case, about which I've said all I want to say for now. If you are interested see this and this.

As for the other eight, we have Walter E. Williams on the Minimum Wage, Terence Jeffrey and Herman Cain on Taxation, Jonah Goldberg and Janice Shaw Crouse, PhD on the difference between men and women, Diana West on Lebenon, Ben Shapiro, Boy Prognosticator, on college Republicans, and Brian McNoll on eliminating campaign finance reform.

As an aside, Miles Davis is simply incredible.

Anyway, none of these articles look any good. Ben Shapiro does note that one of the two potential heads of the college Republicans, Paul Gourly, is a pretty sleazy guy.
Gourley, as treasurer under current CRNC Chair Eric Hoplin, allegedly oversaw a series of CRNC fund-raising scandals, most notably a direct mail campaign designed to confuse and bilk senior citizens out of their money. During the 2004 election cycle, the CRNC, through its direct mail firm Response Dynamics (RDI), garnered over $6.3 million by sending misleading letters to elderly donors. The letters often included the headings "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee," and the "National Republican Campaign Fund." During the election cycle, the median age of 49 of the top 50 donors to the CRNC was 85, and 14 of the donors were older than 90.
Of course, young Ben is ignoring Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment. "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."

The other articles are a rather tepid lot. Goldberg's article sees him writing on autopilot about how amazing it is that Men and Women are different, or to be more precise, that feminists and liberals don't Acknowledge that Men and Women are different. But to be fair there is certainly a market for telling people what they already believe.

The articles on Taxation are dull, and I'm sure we will get a lot more of them in April. So I will hold off extensive discussion until then. But if you enjoy a good bratwurst than you will enjoy my discussion. Well sort of.

Anyway tune in later for a discussion of the second part of the Process ("The Mid-Morning Post")

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Minimum of Effort

Convienent how all we can talk about is Terri Schavio. Really draws attention away from the passing of our second year in Iraq and the stalled Social Security bill. I mean if all anybody can talk about is Ms. Schavio's sad story, well, how can we talk about drilling in ANWR for example?

New York Times had an editorial today on the questionable tactics used by President Bush.
. . . in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.
Something to consider.

A Grabber !

Here's a good title to an editorial by Star Parker.
Social Security reform threatened by elitist liberals.
It's clear and concise, and tells you everything you need to know right up front. There's an attempt to reform Social Security, but it is being stopped by elitist liberals. And we all know that elitist liberals are bad. Bad bad bad.

I haven't actually read the article yet--just impressed with the title. Of course, Ms. Star Parker had another grabber of a title a couple of weeks ago. What was it? Oh yes.
End Social Security
See that is a grabber too. Just looking at it you know where Ms. Parker stands. But of course you have to wonder what she means by Social Security Reform there in today's title. I guess, since she is in favor of ending Social Security the version of reform that Liberal Elitists are stopping is either ending Social Security or like ending Social Security?

If that's so, I guess I'm pretty comfortable with liberal elitists trying to stop it.

Moral Ambiguity

How does one explain a good man doing bad things or a bad man doing good things? Well we get a hint of that from Dennis Prager today in a column in which he exonerates both Clarence Thomas and Bill Bennett.
I note this because it brings home a point that is often lost on most people -- religious or secular, conservative or liberal -- that human beings all have what I call moral bank accounts. Just like a real bank account into which we make monetary deposits and from which we make monetary withdrawals, we make moral deposits into and moral withdrawals from our moral bank accounts based on the actions we engage in during our lifetime.

Now, of course, some people make so many withdrawals -- Hitler, for example -- that no imaginable good act they can do will seriously change the balance from extremely negative to positive. But most people need to be assessed based on this bank account analogy. I first came up with this idea when Clarence Thomas was accused by Anita Hill and the Democratic Party of sexual harassment. Needless to say, no one knew for sure which party was telling the truth. But I made the argument on my radio show that given all the good Thomas had done, given the absence of indications of him ever acting indecently toward women employees, his moral bank account was, to the best our knowledge, quite in the black.
Fair enough. And truthfully, something I can see some value in.

But I sense that this sort of logic only applies to generally good people, and, as the old saying goes, no liberals need apply. This is Dennis Prager, after all, who has written in support of a second civil war (between Liberals and Conservatives). Both of his examples are about prominent conservatives, and I seriously question whether he'd extend the same generosity to a Al Gore or a John Kerry.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Schavio Case

I haven't spoken much on this issue because it seems like such a personal issue and one in which I might offend people. But things are quiet today, so just let me say this.

I find it offensive that the Republicans are trying to make political hay over this very personal issue. I can feel for both the parents and the husband in this case--but I see only one party trying to use Ms. Schavio as a club to bash their political opponents with.

I could comment on the apparent lack of confidence the Republicans are displaying in their own beliefs that this and other actions reveal. They feel that their ideas cannot stand up to criticism or to opposition and therefore the only solution they see is to totally humiliate and eliminate their political rivals. And this is just another example of how they are trying to accomplish this goal.

Anyway just some random thoughts. Oh and I guess you all knew that President Bush signed a state statute, as Governor, that allows a hospital committee to, over the opposition of the family, terminate further life-support if they feel such life support would be futile. Yeah. But when continuing life costs a hospital money, well, that's a different situation.

The Lyrics to "Jehovah Made this Whole Joint for You"

Yeah this is indulgent, but on the plus side, nobody is paying attention right now anyway. Plus they are funny lyrics.

Jehovah Made this Whole Joint For You
by The New Radicals

Meet a girl named Carolina
Her parents jumped off niagara falls
She broke her hips when she was a baby
Trying to hop the Berlin wall
It's not that she's anti american
Although she shot a mayor at nine
He looked just like the prez on t.v.
But didn't know in '63 he had died

Does she think this world is all wrong
Does she think i'll rob her and run
When i ask her she gets her gun
And simply says "scat boy scat scat"

But isn't it a wonderful world carolina
Look at the birds in the sky
Jehovah made this whole joint for you carolina
And isn't it wonderful to be alive?

So original in her black lipstick
Listening to some obscure band
But isn't she pissed that all the other non-conformists
Listen to that same obscure band
That's OK she's helping the environment
By sipping pure water and such
Then she screams we better start thinking about
The ozone layer
While tossing out a styrofoam cup

Does she think this world is all wrong
Does she think I'll rob her and run
When I ask her she gets her gun
And simply says "scat boy scat scat"

But isn't it a wonderful world Carolina
Look at the birds in the sky
Jehovah made this whole joint for you Carolina
So isn't it wonderful to be alive?

Real deep shit on her mind
"Let's kill the world
Take over everything"
She says we don't need politicians
"They breed mistrust
And as a matter of fact did you steal my purse?"

Yeah, but isn't it a wonderful world Carolina
Look at the birds in the sky
Jehovah made this whole joint for you Carolina
So isn't it wonderful to be alive
Huh isn't a wonderful world to be a...
Isn't it wonderful to be alive.....
F*** Yeah, it's so wonderful I feel like...

Idiot Sarcasm

Paul Jacob's latest column, entitled "John Kerry, inventor, wizard" is crafted to appeal to an audience of sarcastic morons. Look at this opening paragraph.
To allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or not? It is an easy question for Senator John F. Kerry . . . because he's magic!
Yep, the idio-sarcastic riff that Mr. Jacob has selected for this weeks column concerns a popular series of books involving Harry Potter. Because it's easier to just make fun of someone who disagrees with you than it is to put forward your own opinions as an intelligent contrast.

Or, to put it another way, it's easier to make someone else look stupid than to make yourself look smart. So when Senator Kerry suggests that drilling in ANWR is a short term solution or that maybe we need to find some new form of energy, well, he's being magical. Or something.
You see, Kerry has a better plan: Let's invent something spectacular to replace oil completely! Something that never causes any environmental concerns. A perfect energy source.

. . . Enough of big oil. Let's opt for magic from John F. Kerry and the wizards in Washington, let's spend a few extra trillion on new, perfect technology. Then - hocus, pocus - in a week or two, that silly ol' oil-based economy will be a thing of the past.
Yep, it's just silly to think that we will ever come up with anything better than Oil, and people who suggest that are deluded. Like John Kerry.

Oh, and anybody who uses the word "idio-sarcastic" owes this site a nickel.

Torture : Is it Good?

Apparently not, according to Conservative Jeff Jacoby, writing at Townhall. He suggests four detriments to torture. Torture is unequivocally illegal. Torture is unreliable. Torture, as a practice, can be applied to the innocent as easily as the guilty. And, finally, torture is a slippery slope. Mr. Jacoby concludes his article with this paragraph.
No. Torture is never worth it. Some things we don't do, not because they never work, not because they aren't ''deserved," but because our very right to call ourselves decent human beings depends in part on our not doing them. Torture is in that category. Let us wage and win this war against the barbarians without becoming barbaric in the process.
So all in all I salute this column. Now Mr. Jacoby does stretch the truth a little when he puts the argument for torture in the mouth of a prominent liberal (Mr. Jonathan Alter, writing directly after September 11th, who said, "In this autumn of anger, a liberal can find his thoughts turning to -- torture."). One has to assume that Mr. Jacoby is well aware that gentlemen on his side of the aisle have gone much further than this in justifying torture. But, setting aside that rhetorical sleight of hand, a very noble article.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I ruined the blog again

New quote.

But somehow I republished the entire blog, so all of the older posts look exactly like this weeks. I know it seems like a small thing, but all those previous formats and logos are gone.

Anyway trying to figure out what to do about this. Possibly this is perfect time to take this down and start over. Anyway considering.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Everyday People

David Brooks writes today, in his typical "state-the-obvious" style, that while there are large problems facing America, the political parties don't seem able to come together to solve them. Yep. Really rubbing the old brain cells there together at the New York Times. Still they keep Krugman on the page, so they aren't all bad.

He also seems to think that the political parties might change in the future.
At the same time, Americans will grow even more disenchanted with the political status quo. Not only will there be a general distaste for the hyperpartisan style, but people will also begin to see how partisan brawling threatens the nation's prosperity. They'll read more books like "The Coming Generational Storm" by Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns and "Running on Empty" by Peter Peterson. They will be more aware of the looming disaster. As the situation gets worse, the prospects of change get better, because Americans will not slide noiselessly into oblivion.

The party alignments have been pretty stable over the past few generations, but there's no reason to think they will be in the future. The Whig Party died. The Progressive movement arose because the parties seemed stagnant a century ago. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-politician emerged - of the Schwarzenegger or Perot varieties - to crash through the current alignments and bust heads.
It's, of course, possible. But there are lots of reasons to think that this is unlikely. For one thing, you have huge media networks who are pretty well invested in the parties as they are now. For another we haven't had a serious third party challenger in years. Probably the most likely potential outcome would be for the parties to change themselves to better fit what they think people want.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Difference Between This and That

The other day Salon posted an interesting column by Ayelet Waldman about her experience blogging her life. Apparently one night she had a suicidal impulse (what is called "suicidal ideation") and discussed it on her blog. Her husband was on a trip and her friends rallied around her, getting her to talk to her doctor, who changed her medication and solved the problem. Sort of. Anyway she writes about what blogging is doing to her family or what it could do to her family.
My blogging has been cathartic; my self-exposure served some kind of purpose, but there is no doubt that it exacted a cost. One of the problems was that there are a whole lot of people huddled under my particular dirty raincoat. There is my husband, a gracious and good-tempered man, and one who has himself wrestled with the self-exposure business. More important, because they are more defenseless, there are my children, two boys and two girls, ranging in age from not quite 2 to 10 years old. I have always used my children as material in my fiction, and even occasionally in essays, but never with the immediacy demanded of a blog. My daughter shouted at her father, "You like being mean to us; you're nothing but a hatred machine." Half an hour later, it was in print online.
I read this article and it stuck in my mind. I considered blogging on it (with the obvious joke about how I would never subject my life to you people (other than random observations on Jesus Scented Candles and New Soft Drink Products)), but ended up not doing it.

I was somewhat uncomfortable with it, truthfully. And today's letters in response to that article seem to share a similar lack of comfort. One that particularly hit me was from Name Withheld by Request (poor guy. A name like that has to make it hard to order Pizza).
In the era of gossip and Google, this public airing is exactly what Waldman is condemning her kids to, as well as eventual scrutiny by dates, potential mates, summer employers and college admissions officers to the "things they said" or how, like her son in the article, they try to cope with her illness. My heart went out to that little boy as I read. He does not deserve to have that moment of terror served up for anyone's curiosity, amusement, titillation or even, God help us, "education."

Please do not give this woman a forum to write about her children's lives. They have done nothing to deserve what they are dealing with now. This airing of their lives in one of the most popular magazines online is a punishment they just don't deserve. Their mother is self-described as mentally ill. Perhaps you should think about what you are doing here.
I have to say I agree with Mr. by Request. It is, in some ways, pretty cruel what this woman is choosing to do, and what Salon is choosing to let her do.

Round the Horn With Extra Extras

I'm not sure what those extras will be but they will be extra.

Bark Bark Wolf Wolf has some info on two figures on the right who might get dragged into the Tom Delay debacle. Grover Norquist in particular is a baddy, so I wouldn't mind that at all.

iddybud has some thoughts on the potential for a second run by John Edwards and the news that Edwards will soon be Podcasting.

LEFT is RIGHT has some comments by Senate Minority Leaders Harry Reid on the Blogging Phenomonen.

Republican Sinners has a bit on Tom Delay and the sin of Greed.

Hey Respectful of Otters is back. We should all take the day off to celebrate. And by all I mostly mean me. But anyway let's se what she's got. Hey she's got an article on the Libstadt Case (which involved denying the holocaust and bad sportsmanship) and "media balance." Seriously, though, it's good to have her back.

Scrutiny Hooligans has some news on Oil Production in the Middle East which is not that hopeful, I'm afraid.

Sooner Thought has an article by a former Congressional Candidate on the lack of a Democratic Message.

Speedkill has an explanation of how one is nominated for the Nobel Prize. Apparently it really is all political.

THE FULCRUM has some thoughts on the opening of ANWR to oil exploitation.

The Invisible Library has some thoughts about boys reading and about access to information that are well worth considering.

And that's it for another week. Oh, those of you who enjoyed the Gothem City 13, the dude has a new blog called In Search of Telford. Go give it a gander.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Soda Time

For those of you are in the know than you already know that a new soda has appeared on the horizon, Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. Yep. They looked at Wild Cherry Pepsi. They looked at Cherry Coke. They looked at Vanilla Pepsi and Vanilla Coke. And they did the logical thing.

Only one flaw with the product. Still tastes like Dr. Pepper.


Propoganda is a big word right now. I mean after the Armstrong Williams et al. situation has come the news that the Bush administration has been creating news segments and distributing them to news groups. Andres Martinez comments on this news in a recent column.
As the New York Times reported Sunday, at least 20 federal agencies have been peddling TV news segments to local stations across the country. Viewers have been treated to news reports of happy farmers, happy air travelers and happy beachgoers without ever knowing that these happy but fake news reports were produced by the Agriculture Department, the Transportation Security Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.
One question I have about this is how many of these are designed to make us feel good about Bush's policies and how many are legitimate PSAs? I mean the Government does have to talk to us on occasion. That said, this certainly doesn't look good. And, as Martinez points out, it doesn't make us look good.
This clumsy branding of George W. Bush's vision of America to Americans will not only backfire at home, it invariably subverts efforts to brand America overseas. Public candor and transparency are supposed to be one of the American brand's distinguishing assets.
Anyway something to think about (which is my favorite way to end an article when I can't think of a zinger).

Media Bias

Ari Fleischer has just come out with a book on his time as the Bush White House Press Secretary. Brent Bozell, who's dedicated his life towards fighting Media Bias, reviews the book for Townhall. Unsurprisingly, he sees it as further proof of Media Bias. And he has a word for those of us who deny Media Bias. "Delusional oddballs."

Apparently the press, especially Helen Thomas, asked a lot of really tough questions of Mr. Fleischer. And that proves it! Or would, if Helen Thomas were somehow representative of the White House Press Corps.

Bozell also takes on a recent review of the book by Salon Magazine, choosing to single out one paragraph as proof that there is so a liberal bias.

Short version. Fleischer claims that the media never uses the term "Social Liberal." Eric Boehlert says that there are 725 stories that use the term between 2001 and 2003 (the term that Fleischer was in the press room). Bozell calls this "lazy, sloppy criticism," as he believes you should have whittled that down to exclude letters to the editor, or small town newspapers, or editorials. He then reviews 2004 to show that the mainstream media outlets did not use the term (except NPR and CBS which used the term once each). Not having Nexis Lexis I can't verify this myself.

On the other hand Bozell doesn't challenge others of Boehlerts critiques, such as this one.
For instance, riding a favorite conservative hobby horse, he complains that while reporters routinely label Republicans as "conservatives," they shy away from tagging Democrats as "liberals." "Why have they largely stopped using the word 'liberal'?" Fleischer wonders.

Stop using? Just within the last year, according to Nexis, the New York Times has published 325 articles that contained three or more references to "liberal," followed by the Washington Post (with 283 articles), Los Angeles Times (266), Associated Press (227), Chicago Tribune (165), and USA Today (71).
But of course the real point is that the press is liberally biased because it's liberally biased. Spending a lot of time explaining that is kind of beside the point. The claim that the Media is liberally biased isn't designed to get you to study the news more carefully. It's designed to get you to reject stories that conflict with a conservative point of view. It encourages not more thought, but less.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Press Conference - The Importance of Air

President Bush gave a press conference today and closed with this interesting line.
Listen, whoever thought about modernizing this room deserves a lot of credit. (Laughter.) Like, there's very little oxygen in here anymore. (Laughter.) And so, for the sake of a health press corps and a healthy President, I'm going to end the press conference. But I want to thank you for giving me a chance to come by and visit.
"Damn. I knew there was something I forgot to do. I forgot to poke airholes in the White House Press Room. This is just like that time I built a terrarium for my pet frog. Poor Rodney."

Probably read the Press Conference tomorrow and comment on more substantive bits. Or not. Who knows?


I love scented candles. My favorites are Vanilla and Apple Cinnamon. But now there is a new candle on the block. And it smells like Jesus.

Boy, with a story like this, there are literally hundreds of ways to offend people. So I guess I'll shut up now.

The Old Bait and Switch

Matt Towery has an interesting article today that suggests that President Bush's real goal with his Social Security plan is to keep attention away from other things that he and Congressional Republicans want.
Yes, the president is stubbornly bulldozing ahead on his quest to modify the Social Security system. And yes, the proposal is so convoluted and full of holes that it has engendered criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats. Take this open GOP dissent as a tip-off that the whole passion play over Social Security reform may have been authored with a hidden method to the apparent madness.

Even as the White House chases its tail and takes a lashing from top Republican brass over the reform policy, it is at the same time starting to cash in chits on other issues from Republicans -- and from many red-state Democrats who are scared about their re-election chances next year.

A prime example was the recent passage of new sweeping bankruptcy laws.
This is an interesting theory.

On the other hand, he suggests that Democratic Senators who supported the Bankruptcy bill are afraid of red-state voters, and so supported the Program out of fear. I kind of hope that none of them are stupid enough to do that, because it plainly wouldn't work. For one thing, the Republican Party and the President are going to try to unseat them regardless of how they vote on this measure. For another, the Bankruptcy bill is not something that is going to win them votes. Campaign contributions, yeah, probably. But not votes.

What's the Congressperson going to say? "My fellow citizens, I helped pass a law that ensured that if you have a medical emergency, you'll lose your house!"" Not sure how that will play out on the campaign trail. Truthfully I'm pretty sure there is a good reason the vote was held as far away from the next time these guys have to stand for election as possible.

Towery does also say some nice things about Dan Rather, at the end of his article. So that's nice.

[Edited because I forgot the link like a Dunderhead]

Go Do This Now!

Look at this video and consider the future. Also, I'm not going to summarize it, and the rest of this article won't make much sense if you don't watch it (but if you are pressed for time, there is a transcript there too, towards the bottom).

First of all, Googlezon sounds a bit like a German cheese. And not a very tasty one.

Secondly, I'm not sure if the Supreme Court would really rule that way. It would depend on how invisible the technology were. If what it created were something like a blog post, with a link to the original story and clearly marked quotations, than the New York Times would have little grounds to sue. Or to put it another way, there'd be no reason not to sue Atrios or, well, me, as well as Googlezon.

I also think they spend too little time on the advertising side, and the potential synergy between advertisers and news providers.

Still worth thinking about. So go see the movie and think about it. And then post your thoughts in the comments section. And then go have an ice cream sundae (or whatever treat is appropriate).

Judicial Review

Ben Shapiro, "Boy Prognisticator," writes today on whether or not the principle of Judicial Review has outlived its usefulness. His argument is that the courts have expanded this principle to force judgments beyond what the constitution intended (this isn't exactly an original argument).
The Supreme Court has consistently, for the past 50-odd years at the very least, substituted its judgment for the judgment of the people, without regard to the Constitution.

. . . The time has come to do away with judicial review as a whole. The judicial branch has been politicized to such an extent that judges who fulfill Hamilton's qualifications -- judges who compare legislation to the actual Constitution -- are dubbed conservative extremists, while judges who legislate from the bench are termed moderates. The system has become so thoroughly corrupt that the only choice left to us is a Constitutional amendment ending judicial review of legislative acts.

"How can legislatures be trusted not to violate the Constitution, if there is no check upon them?" many will ask. The check will be the people themselves. If our elected lawmakers violate the Constitution, they will be answerable to us.
The trouble with this theory is Brown Vs. Board of education (which was reviewed approximately 50 years ago (1954). Hey, how about that? In that case a region (the south) was forcing black children to put up with inferior education and denying them access to equal education. Putting this injustice to a vote would have accomplished nothing, as blacks had limited freedoms at that time. So the matter was brought before the courts. The case made it's way to the Supreme Court and "separate but equal" was overturned.

You see there is such a thing as tyranny of the majority, which Ben's solution would do nothing to address.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dirty Little Lies

Herman Cain's latest article is called Dirty Little Secrets. Here are some sections from it.
First, Democrats want President Bush's proposed personal retirement accounts off the negotiation table because Congress has already spent your money. That is because, in reality, there is no Social Security Trust Fund.

The Trust Fund is merely an accounting maneuver by which the government replaces your payroll taxes with IOUs to be redeemed at a later date.
This is a lie, as you all know. The Social Security Trust fund is invested in Government Treasuries.
The second dirty little secret is that personal retirement accounts do not really constitute privatization. Privatization means someone else owns your account. Bush's Social Security plan provides younger workers their own accounts that they control, not the government.
This is at best a half truth. The Bush Administration has suggested that with the money in your accounts you will be required to invest in an annuity upon retirement. Any excess money is yours to spend or give to your heirs, but the Annuity (which will be a big chunk of your account, anyway you look at it) will be non-transferable.
The third dirty little secret concerns the personal retirement add-on accounts some Democrats have hinted may bring them to the negotiation table. These add-on accounts would be available to workers on a voluntary basis, but do nothing to solve the solvency crisis or put workers in charge of their own money.
Another dirty little deception. The truth is that the President's accounts do nothing to solve the solvency problem either, as anybody with a basic understand of math could understand.

One new wrinkle, Mr. Cain prefers the word Long Term Solvency to permanent solution, but the effect seems much the same.
Obviously, long-term solvency of the Social Security system is not the Democrats' true long-term goal. Solvency cannot be achieved by reducing benefits, increasing taxes, and increasing government spending.
Technically this may be true. There is nothing the Democrats can do right now to ensure that Social Security remains permanently solvent. It's possible that small corrections right now could fix the problem for a quite a long time. Lifting the Payroll Cap for example. But will that really fix the problem forever? Can a problem like Social Security be solved on a long-term basis (Depending on what long term means. Removing the Social Security Cap fixes the problem for the next 75 years according to recent study by the Social Security Office. Is that long term enough?

Not if your real goal is to see Social Security as a program eliminated.

The Con Man Cometh

Another great Krugman article. I swear I looked at Townhall before coming here. But they had nothing interesting.

I do think it's interesting that Mr. Krugman takes Senator Lieberman to task, and in this case, it seems Mr. Lieberman deserves it. I'm not a Lieberman hater, although I think he's made a lot of wrong moves over the years. That said, Krugman convinces me that this was a particularly bad screw up.
My guess is that Mr. Lieberman thought he was being centrist and bipartisan, reaching out to Republicans by showing that he shares their concerns. At a time when the Democrats can say, without exaggeration, that their opponents are making a dishonest case for policies that will increase the risks facing families, Mr. Lieberman gave the administration cover by endorsing its fake numbers.

The push to privatize Social Security will probably fail all the same - but such attempts at accommodation may limit the Democrats' political gain.
There it is. If we admit the problem is as the Republicans pretend it is, than our unwillingness to accept their solution to the problem makes us look like obstructionist nincompoops. Instead we need to be very clear about how the Republican Party are pushing phony numbers and, more importantly, be clear about how their "solution" isn't a solution at all.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Everybody Knows what Everybody Knows

Not that this will come as much of a surprise to those of you who follow the Bush Administration, but apparently President Bush is using the tried and true formula of giving speeches only to those people who already agree with him. The Washington Post has the story.
The White House follows a practiced formula for each of the meetings. First it picks a state in which generally it can pressure a lawmaker or two, and then it lines up panelists who will sing the praises of the president's plan. Finally, it loads the audience with Republicans and other supporters.
Nothing particularly wrong with this strategy, but important that we all be aware of it. When Republicans want to pretend that the American people support President's plan, we shouldn't let them use these cheering crowds as proof.

Spinning the Spinning of the Spinning

As many of you know, John Kerry did not in fact defeat George W. Bush last November. This spawned a series of stories in which both sides tried to figure out who's fault that was. Did Kerry run a loser campaign? Did Bush run a great campaign? Was it MoveOn.Org's fault? And, most importantly, have the Democrats lost their way?

If you ask a conservative Republican this last question, the answer is clear. Democrats have lost their way, and we should all be like Zell Miller. Obviously, for a Conservative, the best answer is for America to have two conservative parties and no liberal parties (well maybe we can keep the Greens, since nobody pays that much attention to them anyway).

On the other hand, many liberals also believe we have lost our way. Frankly I doubt there is one liberal in a thousand who is completely satisfied about where the party is going. If that many. And since we just lost an election, it's time for a reevaluation.

The New Republic, a semi liberal magazine, recently ran a series of articles on the future of liberalism, which inspired Michael Barone to respond with his own thoughts. Basically he suggests that since a lot of individual liberals have different ideas on how to move the party forward, and some of those ideas are unfocused (as he presents them), Liberalism is dead in the water. Kind of like that old game of Telephone, only more done on purpose. Liberals are trying to figure out what to do next, so that shows they clearly don't know what to do next. Which is somehow damning.

Oh and Barone gets extra points for continuing to pretend that Liberals have no ideas on Social Security.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

New Quote New Format

I haven't heard from the monster this week, although I have my feelers out.

Anyway in other news a new quote and a new format. Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Round the Horn and Funky Days are Here Again

They may not have arrived at your present location; if not, please stay on the line and be assured that funky days are coming your way.

Natalie Davis' All Facts and Opinions (who I need to rename over in the blogroll) has a really nice review of some of the events around the world of the day, and also a look at the next Harry Potter Book.

archy has some info on the ubiquitous cat-blogging and what is being done about it.

Ubiquitous Cat-blogging would be a good name for a band.

blogg has a story on the possibility of a draft coming to a youngster near you. Worth checking out. It's worth noting that if there is a time when President Bush can institute a draft with a minimum of political backlash, now is that time. That said, I don't know if he actually will.

Echidne of the Snakes provides a very good rundown of the Bankruptcy Bill that just passed. Say, is it any wonder that the word bankruptcy kind of has the word rupture right in it?

Corrente has a nice round up of the weak for President Bush. Yeah, I noticed it too, but I meant to say weak, cause that's what this President is.

Musing's musings reviews a recent withdrawal of the United States from an international treaty; one that has long range consequences.

Pen-Elyane on the Web has a stumper of a philosophical question.

rubber hose has a nice coda to the whole Gannon Guckert mess.

Also for those of you who need a quick rundown on the Presidents Cement-headed plan to "reform" Social Security, check out this post by edwardpig.

And that's it. We now return you to the Funky Days, already in progress.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A tearful goodbye

Yes, my readers, I'm afraid that all good things must come to an end. I've really enjoyed running this website over the last two years, but recent events have forced me to reevaluate my commitment to this website.

The straw that broke the camels back is this article by Ann Coulter in which she lays out that we liberals are in full retreat.
So now, the entire country is ignoring liberals. I'm the canary in the coal mine. Twenty-six congressmen have signed a letter denouncing me for a column I wrote two weeks ago; for the past two weeks, I've been attacked on MSNBC and CNN, in the Detroit Free-Press and on every known liberal blog and radio show. (I especially want to thank Pacifica Radio in this regard.) I personally have shouted their complaints from the rooftops. Liberals had fallen into my trap!

But there was no point in responding because no one had heard about the liberal denunciations in the first place.
Of course Ann Coulter is referring to a racist slur against Helen Thomas she dropped into her column two weeks ago.

So I guess if nobody is paying attention to liberals, there's little purpose in me carrying on. So once again, I'd like to thank all of you who have stuck with this website through the hard times and through . . . Wait a moment, someone just handed me something.

According to this, Ann Coulter is full of crap! I guess I won't shut down this website after all. I guess I should have realized it, considering I've been mocking her for two and a half years now. But even failing that, her description of the Democratic Party as "the party that supports murder, adultery, lying about adultery, coveting other people's money, stealing other people's money, mass-producing human embryos for spare parts like an automotive chop shop and banning God." Yeah, describing the Democratic Party as supporting Murder might just barely be out of the realm of reasonable discourse.

So anyway I guess we won't be shutting down. At least not today.

OK I think I Has the Solution

Blogger seems to have cooled down and we will resume our regular blogging schedule. After lunch. I'm having a blonde chili with sour cream and cheese.

Jumping Through Hoops

Ross Mackenzie writes a very deceptive article today on that subject of subjects - Social Security.
In 1998, President Clinton, noting, This fiscal crisis in Social Security affects every generation, said famously: Save Social Security first! Three years later the revered Democratic Sen. Patrick Moynihan of New York endorsed as a partial Social Security solution small personal "add-on" accounts for which public enthusiasm would grow as the size of the accounts increased.

As President Bush picked up the Social Security cudgel, Democratic sentiment to fix it began running fast the other way. Maybe the Democrats grew faint at the very idea of Republican repair of the most hallowed Democratic program. Maybe they began blanching at even the suggestion of working with Republicans and the despised Bush. Or maybe they went to their cupboard of ideas and found it bare.
Let me explain this very slowly, Mr. McKenzie. The current debate is not over how to save Social Security. It's over whether or not to save Social Security. The President has made his intentions clear. He wants to replace Social Security with a program that is not Social Security. Others on the right would like to see the Government get out of the retirement business altogether. To pretend like the President's plan is an honest attempt to save social security is to shoot ourselves in the foot.

More to the point we do have plans on how to save Social Security - and you and everybody knows them. For one thing we should stop pretending that the Social Security Trust Fund is a fiction. For another thing, we could raise or eliminate the cap on Payroll Taxes. So to pretend that liberals don't have any thing to offer is flat out disingenuous.

Finally why should Liberals be the first to put out their plan? I mean President Bush has yet to put out his plan (although elements of the likely plan have already emerged). Why? In part because no plan that includes the elements he wants is likely to fly right now. And in part because then that would give Democrats something more concrete to challenge. Why shouldn't liberals follow the same pattern? You know what sorts of things we want.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Where America's At!

Go check out this post at The Liberal Oasis for a portrait of where we are, and why you shouldn't count the Democrats out just yet.

MoveOn and the Center

Interesting article over at Rolling Stone, on MoveOn. It's very critical of the organization, arguing that they have failed to meet any of their goals (The war in Iraq went on as planned, for example, and President Bush got a second term). It then discusses why it's presumed power in the Democratic Power is a potential doubled edged sword.
So who is MoveOn? Consider this: Howard Dean finished first in the MoveOn primary. Number Two wasn't John Kerry or John Edwards -- it was Dennis Kucinich. Listing the issues that resonate most with their membership, Boyd and Blades cite the environment, the Iraq War, campaign-finance reform, media reform, voting reform and corporate reform. Somewhere after freedom, opportunity and responsibility comes "the overlay of security concerns that everybody shares." Terrorism as a specific concern is notably absent. As are jobs. As is health care. As is education.

There's nothing inherently good or bad in any of this. It's just that MoveOn's values aren't middle-American values. They're the values of an educated, steadily employed middle and upper-middle class with time to dedicate to politics -- and disposable income to leverage when they're agitated. That's fine, as long as the group sticks to mobilizing fellow travelers on the left. But the risks are greater when it presumes to speak for the entire party.
I do think accepting MoveOn as the leader of the Democratic Party would probably not be the best idea. That said, they aren't the leader of the party. They are a voice; a voice that was shut through most of the nineties. I think they should have a place at the table.

Unfunded Liability

Well there's a wrinkle in the Social Security Debate. According to Tony Blankley, the Unfunded Liability is $3.7 Trillion. That's a lot of money. I wonder how one gets that $3.7 Trillion Number. Just think if we want to solve the Social Security crisis, we would need to raise taxes by $3.7 Trillion. Think of that drain on the economy. $3.7 Trillion gone in a flash. As Mr. Blankley puts it, "That would be the largest tax increase since … well, since tax increases were invented by the pharaohs at the dawn of civilization. And we wouldn't even have a bunch of pointy buildings to show for it, because such a tax increase would slam the breaks on a growing economy, including the construction industry."

So I guess the only logical solution is to enact a program that will cost at least $3 trillion (according to Vice President Cheney), Private Accounts. Oh and don't question that $3.7 Trillion number.

Actually there are a few things I would like to know. Is Mr. Blankley carrying it out to infinity to get that $3.7 trillion? Does he assume that the Social Security Trust Fund does not exist? It's hard to know. But on a completely unrelated note, I have discovered that implementing President Bush's account will cost more than $300 trillion. I arrived at this figure through the tried and tested method of "making stuff up."

So you see if you follow the President's plan we will be in the hole almost a hundred times more than if we do nothing! If you believe my numbers. Which, frankly, I wouldn't. But then I wouldn't believe Mr. Blankley's numbers either.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Krugman has it right - again!

His latest article concerns the new Bankruptcy law, designed to make it harder to go into bankruptcy, and easier for those who find themselves in debt to stay in debt.
The credit card companies say this is needed because people have been abusing the bankruptcy law, borrowing irresponsibly and walking away from debts. The facts say otherwise.

A vast majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are the result of severe misfortune. One recent study found that more than half of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies. The rest are overwhelmingly the result either of job loss or of divorce.
True story. I get a lot of calls from credit card companies offering me credit cards (all of which I turn down, as I already have a credit card, and my life is hard enough). Once, in a mood of playful frustration, I told the guy on the phone "Look, I'll take the card, but I have to tell you I will run up bills and then not pay them off." He still seemed pretty comfortable giving me the card, but I ended up saying no.

The Credit Card companies have followed a policy of issuing a card to anything with a pulse, and now they are upset that these policies aren't paying off as much as they would like. A few fishes are escaping the net through bankruptcies. As Krugman puts it;
Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.

And any senator who votes for the bill should be ashamed.

Damning with Faint Praise

Joel Mowbray takes on the problem of Social Security today, in a way that makes me think that even many conservatives realize that it is likely dead in the water. In particularly he points out a significant gap between how the President and his surrogates are trying to sell the plan and how it will actually work.
The widest gulf between rhetoric and reality, though, was on Bush's best selling point: "In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children and/or grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away."

But if you read the fine print, the government can - and will - take it away.

Depending on a number of factors, between 60 - 80% of the money accrued in someone's personal retirement account will be gobbled up by the government. Sure, the person will get it back, but only in the form of an annuity, a fixed monthly payment that lasts until death.

In the technical sense that you still receive your money, then yes, it's yours. But in the sense of property that we all know and love in America, ownership is about choice and control. Forced annuitization leaves you with neither. It also strips away your ability to leave a sizable nest egg to your children or grandchildren.
Now Mowbray is very careful to remind us of how groundbreaking President Bush's plan is. Over and over again. No President in the history of mankind has been willing to give so much to the financial industry. But this is a sticking point.

Mowbray justifies this annuity, sort of, on the grounds that it is a legislative move designed to pick up Senate Democrats, but you can tell that even he doesn't really believe this theory.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I finally got the first three movies (Episodse IV-VI, to be clear (and isn't that a pain in the tuckus)) in the Star Wars DVD collection this weekend. Got up to the third movie (Return of the Jedi) and have a question for those who know more about robots or droids than I do. Is taking hot metal and pressing it against a droids feet really more effective than, say, simply reprogramming the robot?

Those kids today!

Apparently a big public radio station in Washington D.C. has switched away from Classical Music, and apparently more and more classical music stations are changing formats or going off the air, according to an article written by Diana West. What's interesting about the article is how it goes against the grain of much conservative thought, which is not to praise NPR (even inoffensive classical music), but to bury it. She also laments the loss of Musical education, although she pretends it has been cut to make room for recycling.

Anyway, it is an interesting article.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Postcard From the Monster

Well here's the new postcard. Those of you with tender feelings may not want to read it.


Those be monster words of lamentation. For I the monster have been rejected. My female monster friend has rejected me. She say I try to giv her chickens or cows p but I just give her gazelles that Bryant finally gave me. Good gazelles. And Bryant, being thoughtful despite what me say earlier, even cut the off all the bones and fur and just gave chunks of delicious gazelle.

But Female Monster say it no taste like Gazelle but like Chicken.

And she say Monster too small for scarying people. That be not true. Monster normal size not too big, but monster can change size. Like in photo above, when I was at Spartenburg in South Carolina in 1908. Look at how big monster be. You know laugh if you see a monster like that walking down the street.

Monster say he was tired of girl monster anyway. Plenty of Monster Fish in the Sea!

Monster say he sick of looking at you people. Monster say goodbye.
Anyway I . . . well obviously I am shocked at what happened with that Gazelle Meat I sent the monster. We'll have to hope the monster can pull it together enough to appear in next weeks logo.

New Quote

I have a new letter from the monster, but that will have to wait until later. Kind of some bad news, so brace yourselves.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Round the Horn and Into the Black

My My Hey Hey

Anyway, edwardpig has some thoughts about the new Iraqi government and some of the many difficulties it will face.

Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has a very solid rundown on the recent Bankruptcy bill that will make life a lot harder for lots of Americans just like you.

T. Rex's Guide to Life has another tidbit on the Bankruptcy bill. It also makes life harder for soldiers (about whom I would have thought their lives were tough enough already).

Ricks Cafe Americaine is looking really sharp and has a really amusing story of a person who comes to visit. These slice of life style posts are actually kind of tough, and this one comes out perfect and perfectly funny.

The First Draft has the scoop on some particularly incoherent remarks the President made earlier this week.

Words on a Page has further evidence that the Right Wing in this country may not really want to save Social Security.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has some further thoughts on the upcoming blog crackdown hinted at yesterday.

Anyway that's it for today. See you later.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Future of Blogging

Well, to be honest, it may not have a future. Apparently changes in the way that the Federal Elections Commission looks at the internet could have serious implications in how political bloggers operate.

One issue concerns the monetary value of a link to a candidates website. During the campaign I linked to both President Bush and Senator Kerry's websites. Should that have been declared as a contribution?

What about the owner of a mailing list? If that is used to coordinate support for a candidate does that count as material support for the campaign?

According to Bradley Smith (one of the FEC Commissioners), " . . . if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, "Keep your hands off of this, and we'll change the statute to make it clear," then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger. The impact would affect e-mail lists, especially if there's any sense that they're done in coordination with the campaign. If I forward something from the campaign to my personal list of several hundred people, which is a great grassroots activity, that's what we're talking about having to look at."

We'll have to keep our eyes on this one.

Coulter and the Gay-Outing Article

One of the more bizarre ways for Conservatives to deal with the Gannon/Guckert story is for them to claim that this proves that we are homophobes. This makes about as much sense as the argument that because we have failed to embrace initiatives put forward by Black members of the Bush Administration, we must really hate blacks. That is to say, it says more about how conservatives see color or sexual preference than about Democrats.

Sensing, I guess, that this line of attack isn't going to work, Ann Coulter tries to find more evidence. Two weeks ago, Dan Savage, writing on the New York Times Editorial Page, commented on the coming out of Maya Keyes, adopted daughter of Alan Keyes. Ms. Keyes did this publicly at a gay rights rally in Annapolis, Md. Mr. Savage wrote an article on the emotions and issues around having a relative of a prominent conservative (who has called homosexuality "shameful hedonism") come out of the closet. Near the end of his article, he makes these points "The next time someone like Maya Keyes comes tumbling out of the closet, we should all try to be gracious and not succumb to our baser instincts."

So how does Ann Coulter deal with this article? By deception. First of all she fails to give any details that might enable a reader to track down this article. Probably smart, since her description of the article doesn't really line up to the actual article.
. . . another Times op-ed article the same day gratuitously outed the children of prominent conservatives.

These are not public figures. No one knows who they are apart from their famous parents. I didn't even know most of these conservatives had children until the Times outed them.
Again to reiterate, if you didn't read the article. Ms. Keyes outed herself publicly at a gay rally. It's hardly like she intended it to be a secret. She also implies that the article outs more than one gay relative, which is not true.

I guess it's not news that Ann Coulter is kind of a liar.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

All Hail Conservative Bloggers!

Let us all sing the praises of the Conservative bloggers who's triumphant arrival on the stage of history is the culmination of a battle that has stretched for decades. For behold William F. Buckley said let there be National Review, a place where conservative thought can come forth. And there was a National Review. And yet the Conservatives were not satisfied, and there mouths were full of grumblings.

And then Rush Limbaugh said "Let there be three hours of me each day." And there was the Rush Limbaugh Program. And the Conservatives were not satisfied. Indeed listening to Rush, they became even hungrier.

And then there was Matt Drudge, who's thunderous typings brought down a president (or would have if they had not failed to bring down a president). At this the right wing was still angry and hungry.

And then came the day of the 24 hour news network. And the rise of the punditry. And the appearance of Fox News. And, lo, it was not enough, for the hunger of Conservatives had only grown.

So then was conceived in the mind a new way for conservatives to communicate one with another. The Blog. And Glen Reynolds said, "let there be Instapundit." And there was
Instapundit. The Conservative Blogger had arrived on the stage. And behold, the Conservative Blog-O-Sphere did take down Dan of the house of Rather and he was brought low for reporting a story about which there is no need to remember.

But behold, the liberal is crafty. And copying. And Jonah of the house of Goldberg did write an article to praise the Conservative Bloggers but also to sound the trumpet of warning. "Left-wing bloggers believe they are part of the same "revolution" as right-wing bloggers are. They're not. . . . They represent - much like the still lame liberal talk radio and the new liberal think tanks - an attempt to copycat conservative successes. Their fight is not with the monolithic mainstream media (or academia) but with the usurpers. Politics is not a battle of technology. It is a battle of ideas, and therein lies all the difference."

And thus there was great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the lefty Blog-O-Sphere for they had been brought low by this mighty criticism. For behold the monolithic liberal media of which Mr. Goldberg reference must surely exist. Had not the National Review and Rush Limbaugh and all the great speakers of Conservatism agreed on this point?

Therefore it was clear that there was little difference between Dan Rather and
Atrios, or between Chris Matthews and Joshua Michah Marshall (Talking Points Memo). All were as one in the words of the Conservative scribes. Surely the way that the Monolithic Liberal Media jumped on the Jeff Gannon story to humiliate President Bush revealed that the depth of control that Liberal Bloggers had over the Monolithic Liberal Media.

The American Indian and the American Baptist

Terence Jeffrey writes an interesting, but confused article over at Townhall today. He starts out reiterating the point that Christians should be allowed to put up monuments to the Ten Commandments any where they please by referencing a case in Kentucky.

Where it gets confused is that then Mr. Jeffrey takes on an exhibit at the Smithsonian on the American Indian which apparently presents American Indian religious beliefs uncritically (or, at any rate, not critically enough for Mr. Jeffrey). Unfortunately, as in many of these sorts of arguments, Mr. Jeffrey can't quite decide what his point is. Is it that this American Indian museum is crap? Or is it that the monument to the Ten Commandments is being unfairly discriminated against?

It seems clear that, in Mr. Jeffrey's world, the American Indian exhibit would be very different (focused on the ennobling nature of Christianity, and the perceived evils of Native American life before being conquered), and the statue of the Ten Commandments would be uncontroversial. Or in other words, Mainstream Christians have their beliefs enshrined in the public square and other religions can wait on the back burner (if at all).

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On those add on accounts

Which I mentioned previously. Apparently Joe Biden made some references to them in his Meet the Press session, and the Daily Howler discussed them in today's article (March 1, 2005). They made a piont I hadn't considered earlier (although Krugman referenced it as well. Must have had a brain melting alien ray pointed at me when I read that part).
. . . a point of simple logic—an “add-on” account is only “added on” if traditional Social Security is fully preserved before the “adding” is done. After all, if future SS benefits are cut, then any additional savings account isn’t an “add-on”—it’s a replacement for the lost benefits. In short, before “add-on” savings accounts make sense, Congress will have to solve future funding problems with traditional Social Security. First, Congress has to make sure that future promised benefits are secure. Then, it could figure out how to create additional savings accounts.
Interesting. Of course it seems like it would be a lot easier for them to cut benefits and pretend that these accounts were not replacing Social Security.