Thursday, June 30, 2005

Leave Bugs Bunny Alone : (






Cheery here! :) I am writing to let you know about a travesty going on in the world of Children's Cartoons! They are changing Bugs Bunny! From a cute little friendly rabbit to some angular sort of lightning bold monster! It's hideous.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so! Adam Williams,
writing at Popmatters, thinks that this new Bugs is the final nail in his coffin.
Perhaps the introduction of Loonatics would be less troubling if Warner Bros. was honest with the public instead of trying to cloak its new program in a veil of forced enthusiasm and backslapping ingenuity. Let's be frank: This is not about taking beloved characters to the next level for the sake of creative evolution, but rather establishing a competitive toe-hold in the lucrative toy and video game arena. Cute and cuddly action figures do not garner significant market share as they once did, nor do they dominate the electronic shoot-'em-up circuit.
I think he's right! :-[

He does talk a bit about how they took the violence out of the Looney Tunes. Well, toned it down anyway. He thinks that was probably the beginning of the end. He might be right I guess, but then again too much violence isn't good either. So I don't know what to think about that. >:)

Anyway I do know what to think about Bugs Bunny; leave him alone!

The War and The Journalist





Tne New York Crimes has on it's editorial page today an editorial by a Mr. Bob Herbert. Herbert states authoritatively that the war in Iraq needs more troops. This is an interesting conclusion. Particularly since Herberts background seems to be pretty much entirely in the field of journalism.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this; I'll bet Mr. Herbert was just super good at Capture the Flag as a kid.

At any rate he does quote some Military leaders, possibly hoping their machismo will rub off onto him. Take this section for example.
The Times's Richard A. Oppel Jr. wrote an article recently about a tragically common occurrence in Iraq: U.S. forces fight to free cities and towns from the grip of insurgents, and then leave. With insufficient forces left behind to secure the liberated areas, the insurgents return.

"We have a finite number of troops," said Maj. Chris Kennedy of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. "But if you pull out of an area and don't leave security forces in it, all you're going to do is leave the door open for them to come back. This is what our lack of combat power has done to us throughout the country."
Course it's kind of hard to tell who Herbert respects more, his fellow reporter or Major Chris Kennedy. And, maybe it's just me, but wouldn't President Bush (COMMANDER in CHIEF) have a better idea of what's needed in Iraq than a Major?

It's the Liberalism, STUPID!






Just finished reading a column by Molly Ivins, in which she whines about being mischaracterized.
I am not "you liberals" or "you people on the left who always..." My name is Molly Ivins, and I can speak for myself, thank you. I don't need Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove to tell me what I believe.

Setting up a straw man, calling it liberal and then knocking it down has become a favorite form of "argument" for those on the right. Make some ridiculous claim about what "liberals" think, and then demonstrate how silly it is. Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and many other right-wing ravers never seem to get tired of this old game.
This would be a bit more believable, Ivins, if you occasionally didn't attack President Bush, for example. Instead, you seem to ALWAYS slam into President Bush. So why don't you say some nice things about him for a change and maybe then I'll buy that you can think for yourself.

She goes on to comment on Karl Rove's "controversial" words early this week. Controversial is DEMOCRATIC SLANG for any truthful statement that they find inconvenient. Some Liberals certainly fit Rove's words; not even you could deny that. So what EXACTLY is the problem? If you feel he didn't describe you perfectly, well, than maybe he wasn't talking about you!

Death Penalty Blues






Hi Everybody! : )

I just finished reading Emmet Tyrrell's latest article on the Death penalty. Mr. Tyrrell, like me, thinks executing people is not the best solution to that problem.
I have opposed the death penalty after being persuaded that it contributes to the culture of death that leaves many aspects of our wondrously free and prosperous society quite grim. Nihilism informs our arts. It is a large element in popular culture. It makes fugitive appearances in our discussions of the beginnings and the ends of life. By opposing capital punishment, I have hoped to highlight the glory of life and the vast possibilities for human beings to grow and develop in a civilized way.
See I agree with that. But then Mr. Tyrrell says some confusing things later on his paragraph.
On the other hand, Rader's appearance on television does unhorse one of the great myths held by many members of the intelligentsia, namely, that there is something fascinating about a murderer. For generations, certain easily bored writers have been finding "interesting" facets to crime and to criminals. The murderer was for them perhaps the most fascinating of criminals.
I don't want to be a persnickety persimmon but I just don't think the fascination with the murderer is confined to the intelligentsia. Maybe I don't know in what sense he's using the term, but it seems like many people of all types are interested in murderer. Back in school, that one book on Charles Manson was extremely popular among a lot of different types for example. The metal heads, the scary geeks, and the journalism hacks all seemed to love it. I never read it myself, cause it seemed like a downer. :'-( So I'm not sure about that part of Mr. Tyrrell's article. But the rest seems pretty good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Helpful Harry Reid






Hi again! : ) I was just reading about the help Senator Harry Reid is giving President Bush. Certainly there is some concern on the liberal side of the fence as to what is going to happen when the next Supreme Court vacancy opens up. I'm sure that President Bush is just as worried over a possible showdown.

Well, according to the New York Times, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has offered to help President Bush make up his mind. :-o I'm impressed!
Seeking a possible consensus nominee, Reid recommended Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Reid described them all as bright and able lawyers who would be strong additions to the nation's highest court.

``We have had approximately 10 members of the Supreme Court that came from the United States Senate over the years,'' Reid told reporters.

``There are people who serve in the Senate now who are Republicans who I think would be outstanding Supreme Court members,'' Reid said.
You see. This is a very constructive way to help President Bush pick people to nominate to the Supreme Court. Instead of saying No! all the time, the Democrats can lend a helping hand! : )

It's Impeachment Time!!! NOT!!!!






Just finished an interesting set of rants from Byron Williams latest article. In the first part, he tries to defend the indefensible comments of Dick Durbin (or, as Rush likes to call him, Dick Turbin). Since the comments are patently absurd and since Durbin has already apologized for them, it's kind of of a hard sale.

But it's the second part of his rant, involving the Downing Street Memo and talks of impeachment, where Williams really shines. Apparently some leftist KNUCKLEHEADS are suggesting the time might be right to impeach President Bush. What nonsense! For one thing, the Downing Street proves nothing except that President Bush thought that Iraq was a threat. What a surprise! Fortunately, Mr. Williams agrees that this does not constitute an impeachable offense.
Because a Republican-led House was irresponsible in its use of constitutional power does not beget similar acts.

Martin Luther King Jr. would not stand today as our nation's moral conscience had he called for armed resistance or random acts of violence against whites. Instead, he called upon the country to rise to the level of greatness to which it had originally aspired.

Those appalled by the possible ramifications of the Downing Street memo are burdened with the same challenge.
I wouldn't hold my breath, Williams. Today's Democrats are barely up to the challange of chewing gum and walking down the street at the same time! And anyway there's NO REASON to be troubled by the Downing Street Memo!

Welcome to Babylon






Testing Testing One Two Three.

Hi all. Some of you have come to know me through my previous comments. I helped bring to light the FALLACIOUS information that the previous writer of this blog posted. While I have a certain amount of respect for Bryant, he should have been more careful in his facts. He should also take some lessons in how to take criticism.

The management of this website invited me to participate in this new format, in which I will represent the Conservative point of view and Cheery will attempt to represent the Liberal point of view. Naturally I have a bit of an easier time of it; the Conservative point of view actually makes sense.

At any rate, along with me and Cheery, you can look for continued appearances by the Monster, once he returns from his sabbatical. I must say I admire how he stood up for truth in his post. We will also be using Irwin J. McIckleson a bit more than Bryant did. I think his views on America, coming from a point of time before it was corrupted by the New Deal, are valuable. To start with he will do the Weekly Round the Horn Feature, although he will probably contribute other columns as well.

So look forward to a great new day for this website!

A New Beginning!






Hi all this is Cheery! :)

I have been asked to take over this site for a short period, along with my co-contributor, who will post later.

I suppose I should say I have the utmost respect for the work Mr. Bryant was doing here. I hope, though, that I can represent the liberal point of view in a little bit more of an upbeat and fair manner. We liberals have to have a positive can-do message for America or we are never going to get anywhere! ;)

At any rate I don't have anything to comment on right now. I agree with Bryant that President Bush's speech was not everything it could be. :( He needs to start taking this war seriously instead of just repeating himself in every speech or press conference. I think by now we all realize that the war in Iraq is hard work! :-

Anyway here's to a big bright future for Make Me a Commentator!!! :-D

The Questions Worth Asking

Really good New York Times article on President Bush's speech last night which has this memorable phrase. "Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking."

I can understand why President Bush doesn't want to draw an exact time table with dates and times for withdrawal. That might well be counterproductive. But perhaps Mr. Bush could explain to us what victory would look like? What conditions need to be met before the United States will leave, and what steps are we taking to meet those steps?

Another question, Mr. Bush. In your speech you stated, "Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country." If it is worth it, is it worth considering repealing or shrinking the enormous tax cuts you have passed in order to fund this war? Wouldn't shrinking the wealthy's pay checks a little now be better than passing on an enormous bill for the Iraq war to our children?

On that note I have a bit of sad news. I am taking a short mandatory break from working on Make Me a Commentator!!! Upper management feels I have been a bit too abrasive, apparently. And they are still miffed over the Monster in L.A. thing. So I am taking a short break. In my absence the site will be handled by a few new commentators appointed by the management. I'm not allowed to comment on who they might be, but I will say it should be an interesting time for the website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine

E. J. Dionne hits it out of the park today, picking apart the parsing Conservatives have been doing over Karl Rove's comments.
In the ensuing controversy, Rove's defenders cleverly sought to pretend that there was nothing partisan about Rove's speech. "Karl didn't say 'the Democratic Party,' " insisted Ken Mehlman, the Republican national chairman. "He said 'liberals.' " It must have been purely accidental that one of the "liberals" mentioned was the Democratic national chairman and another was the Senate Democratic whip. It must also have been accidental that both of them, like most other liberals, supported the war in Afghanistan, not therapy. At the time, Durbin called the war "essential."

On Friday White House spokesman Scott McClellan narrowed the Rove attack even more. McClellan found it "puzzling" that Democrats were "coming to the defense of liberal organizations like MoveOn.org and people like Michael Moore," when in fact Democrats were coming to their own defense. McClellan also ignored what Mehlman had conceded the day before -- and what the text of Rove's remarks plainly shows: that Rove was attacking liberals generally, not just these two targets.

That's how guilt by association works. Make a charge and then -- once your attack is out there -- pretend that your words have been misinterpreted. Split your opponents. Put them on the defensive. Force them to say things like: "No, we're not soft on terrorism," or, "I'm not that kind of liberal." Once this happens, the attacker has already won.
Right on.

You see this kind of thing happening even here at Make me a Commentator!!! Management would like to see me apologize for a simple mistake made last week. But what they don't realize is that they are also asking me to apologize for being a Liberal and presenting a Liberal view. And I will never do that.

President . . .er, Senator Kerry Speaks!

From the pages of the New York Times, Senator Kerry makes some suggestions on what President Bush should say in tonight's address. It's certainly a worthwhile read.
So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in "the last throes" leads to frustrated expectations at home. It also encourages reluctant, sidelined nations that know better to turn their backs on their common interest in keeping Iraq from becoming a failed state.
This one is dead on. Vice President Cheney's comments were laughably unrealistic.

He also makes several other suggestions, specifically proposing we set a time-table for leaving. The Bush Administration portrays this as us telling terrorists all they have to do is hang out this period of time and they have the run of the country. I don't know if that is necessarily true - but what such a message also says is that the future of the Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqi people rather than the hands of America.

Recommended

I'd like to recommend this post over at Orcinus. It deals with the recent Rove comments and the mentality of the Right Wing that gave birth to such comments. I would disagree with his conclusion; for one thing I think that American Liberalism has a bit more tools to defend themselves than Japanese Americans had in World War 2. But it's still worth considering.

While I am busy recommending, let me also suggest you continue to give Random Goblin a whirl. Actually one of his recent posts ties right into the above comments by Orcinus.

The Muslim Menace

Here's the story, as near as I can tell. Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, both Australian Ministers, held some meetings on what the Koran teaches. Members of the Islamic Council in Victoria reported on what was said and brought legal action under the religious and Racial Toleration Act. The Judge found in favor of the Islamic Council.

The problem with this story is that it is a Conservative Cause Celebre. Not on the level of Terry Schaivo (yet), but still pretty far up there. And the Conservatives tell the story the same way. These two ministers were just quoting the Koran and repeating what Muslims believe; how can that be construed as an attack? And even if it is an attack, why not let free speech have it's day?

As for the first part of that, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the seminar may not be as innocent as conservatives are claiming.
Judge Higgins said that during the seminar Mr Scot had claimed the Koran promoted violence, killing and looting and that Muslims were liars and demons.

Mr Scot also had said Muslims had a plan to overrun Western democracy by violence and terrorism and wanted to turn Australia into an Islamic nation.
Part of the problem is that there is a core question that can't be discussed but which people have different opinions on. We are trained by society to place religions on a graduated scale. At the top is our religion (whatever it might be) and then there are religions that are like ours. And somewhere down near the bottom of the scale are what we consider Cults and Illegitimate Religions. Muslims (and many others) see Islam as a legitimate religion; Pastors Nalliah and Scot as well as many Conservatives do not seem to. They can't actually state that openly, but if their actions make it clear, what are we to assume?

Actually I think the second argument, about free speech is the better one. Rather than taking these Pastoral Punks to court, expose their nonsense for what it is.

Anyway something to keep in mind. For those interested in a conservative take on this issue, check out this article by Diana West (the article that started me down this path).

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Volunteer Army

Bob Herbert, over at the New York Times, tackles the question of Army Recruitment, and what continued failure might mean.
The all-volunteer Army is fine in peacetime, and in military routs like the first gulf war. But when the troops are locked in a prolonged war that yields high casualties, and they look over their shoulders to see if reinforcements are coming from the general population, they find -as they're finding now - that no one is there.
The article is a little scary in its implications. Maybe President Bush should have thought a little bit more before fixing the data to support a case for invading Iraq.

A Correction

Senior management here at Make Me a Commentator!!! apparently feel that my comments earlier were somewhat over the top. Hence I am offering this correction.

When I wrote "Screw you Mr. Barone," which was apparently considered a little tough, I shoud have said, "Screw you Michael Barone and anybody who likes his brand of crap, particularly boneheaded management types."

Sorry for the confusion.

A Fundamental Split

Michael Barone, in his latest article, lays out the fundamental split in the Democratic Party.
On the one hand, there are those who believe that this is a fundamentally good country and want to see success in Iraq. On the other hand, there are those who believe this is a fundamentally bad country and want more than anything else to see George W. Bush fail.
Or, let's put it another way. The Democratic party is split between weak-kneed cowards who think they can get a better deal by bending over backwords for President Bush and the Republicans and people who love their country, realize what a danger President Bush and his schemes are to it, and are willing to fight him.

I've seen a resurgence recently in the "irrational hatred of President Bush" as an explanation for Democratic policies. It's the same old Conservative trick to delegitimize liberal or leftist points of view. After all if we are motivated by nothing but hatred and antipathy than why bother paying attention to our view point at all?

Two points might be raised in response to this argument one. Well, three if you count a general "well, screw you too, Mr. Barone." But firstly, insofar as Liberals / Leftists hate President Bush it's not an "irrational" hatred. It is, rather, based on what he has done. I hate the policies he advocates. I hate that he's led us into an unnecessary and elective war. I hate that he hates me and all other Liberals (as witnessed by his lapdog Karl Rove's recent comments).

Secondly, we can see what is going on here. I know you Conservatives live in a fantasy world where the Economy is going great and the War in Iraq is a success across the board. So when mean old liberals point out that such beliefs may not exactly reflect reality, you need to puncture such arguments. Hence you argue that our assessments are based on irrational hatred of President Bush. If we were only good hearted Americans (like you), we could see clearly that things are going great.

This argument finds its most pernicious permutation when applied to the war in Iraq, because instead of just faith in our commander in chief, conservatives can also claim faith in the troops. Liberals want to believe in torture because they hate President Bush that much, while Conservatives have faith in our Commander in Chief and in the American Troops. What goes unsaid is that Liberals, in this formulation, don't have faith in American troops.

I can't speak for anybody else but I do have faith in the American Troops. It is their Commanders, particularly civilian commanders who I lack faith in. And I don't really understand anybody who looks at the Iraq war and says it's been a success.

So to sum up, screw you Mr. Barone. I already said that, but I think it's worth repeating.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

New Format, New Quote!

Hey you all. New quote and new format. And I updated the Quotes Page. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Monster Speaks

I just got a message from the Monster and I am bringing it to you unedited, once again by the directive of Senior management.
Hello this be the monster. Monster understand that there be some confusion as to the timing of some of the pictures taken during Monsters Trip. Monster want to say monster not aware of any wrong doing. Monster had some test pictures taken at scripps college the night before the tour. Monster never imagined that one of these pictures would be used in the final story. Monster shocked and saddened that such a mistake was made, but monster places the blame on Bryant. Surely the management of Make me a Commentator would never make such a mistake. Monster think such a mistake could only come from Bryant.

Monster apologize for his role in this terrible incident.
Monster taking sabbatical to think about situation.
I have to say I find the Monster's words baffling, but I am not allowed to editorialize on this situation.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Statement

I would just like to assert that I am aware of the allegations made by Grumbly Muffin over our series of stories involving the Monster. I am trying to get in contact with the Monster to clarify a few points, but he went on vacation immediately after filing that story, so I am having a bit of difficulty. I assure you I will not rest until this mystery is cleared up.

I remain committed to serving your commentary needs with integrity and honesty.

Edited to add. The link directly to Grumbly Muffins doesn't work, so here is a link to the post and then you can pull up the comments from there.

Irwin J. McIckleson Comments

I am presenting the following letter from Irwin J. McIckleson (a fictional 1910's plutocrat) unedited under the direction of upper management here at Make me a Commentator!!
Hooray! Hooray! All is right with the world.

When I heard that the Supreme Court had finally struck down the tyranny of the small home owners in their latest decision, I was overjoyed. For years, enterprising business owners and plutocrats such as myself have been faced with other peoples ownership of land as an obstacle to our success. It has been terrible. Having to change building and business plans to take into account the rights of insignificant insects! It is like asking a grizzly bear to respect the living space of a mosquito!

But now, thanks to the Supreme Court, the rights of the developers to build where they see fit are too be respected! No longer will they have to change plans based on the pleadings of hysterical ethnics and womenly types. Instead they will simply compensate the current land owners and move in. I prefer to throw a big pile of money into the middle of the landowners and watch them squabble over it. Entertaining, and the strongest get the most. Which is as it should be.

On another note, I note that a character known as Grumbly Muffin has raised some
salient points about the accuracy of certain pictures posted at this website. I suggest that Mr. Bryant, who has served as the chief scribe at this site, answer these allegations. Ignoring them serves no purpose.
I am in discussion with the owners of this website and with the Monster who may have a statement later on today or tomorrow. Hopefully we can get this cleared up by Monday.

Round the Horn - Rookies 2005

We've apparently looked over the Liberal Coalition Lineup and seen some positions that need some shoring up. So we've added a few new players to the roster over there on the right. Let's take a look at them.

Dodecahedron delivers a might right cross with a bit about science films and how some apparently believe they are corrupting the minds of our young people.

firedoglake clears the bar with ease with some thoughts on Senator Durbin's comments and a comparison of how Democrats and Republicans deal with being attacked.

Liberty Street hits a drive to deep left field with a post about Karl Roves comments and the reaction from the internet.

Science and Politics gets out of the penalty box with an article about a real dope, who apparently can't tell a liberal protest from a conservative protest (sorry about the Penalty Box - it's the only specfically Hocky reference I could think of (I'm from Florida)).

Welcome to Gilead makes a hoop shot from the mid court with a post on Dominionist Television. He also asks a provacitive question of Liberal money men.

Of course some of our older players can still wollop the ball pretty good too.

Scoring a field goal with a brilliant piece about Flag Burning which references The American President, is Musings Musings (they and The Invisible Library have recently changed sites, so I hope I have updated the links correctly).

Hitting one of those tricky lobs where the ball kinds of spins up in the sun and you swing at it and miss by two feet is Bark Bark Woof Woof with some thoughts on David Brooks spinning like a top.

Corrente wobbles a tricky snorter with a story about a recent protest that didn't go all that well.

Bloggg, breaking the tape moments before competitors, writes about the decision of the House to restore funding to public broadcasting.

Respectful of Otters makes a fient and then lunges in to score the point with an article on Men, Rapists, and Feminism that I urge all to read and consider.

Finally, hitting it out of the park, we have All Facts and Opinions with some thoughts about Fathers and Fathers Day.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Our Wise Supreme Court Rules!

Yes, no one can deny that they have ruled many times. Like in today's case. Apparently some Connecticut residents did not want to move after New London had decided to destroy their homes, compensate the residents, and throw up a hotel and shopping area. Apparently these selfish New Londonians wanted to continue living in homes they had purchased and owned. This case made it all the way to the supreme court where our wise justices (five of them, anyway) made it clear that those New Londonians do not have the right to put their homes above the good of the community.

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner made this perfectly clear in her dissent. "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,'' O'Connor wrote. ''The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Surely we can all trust big businesses and local governments to use this power responsibly.

Severed Heads

For those of you who are fans of old timey industrial dance music, you might check out the Severed Heads website. There you can purchase MP3s of their albums (or his albums. Severed Heads is kind of a one man operation, although others have shown up from time to time). For starters you might enjoy Bulkhead or Rotund for Success. Bulkhead is their best of, and Rotund for Success was probably their most poppy album. Enjoy!

Townhall Report

I just read every article over at Townhall for Thursday, June 23 (as of 9:10 in the morning, more articles may be added later).

There were articles by Brent Bozell and Ann Coulter about Dick Durbin's comments from last week. Apparently he said something along the lines of "you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners." Republicans do not like this being said, apparently. They are pushing the idea that we are, in fact, too nice to our prisoners (Ann Coulters article is entitled "Guantanamo loses 5-star rating."

Emmet Tyrell and Robert Novak both wrote on Senator Biden. Novak reveals that apparently Biden uses political means to achieve his ends. Shocking. Emmet Tyrell's article is devoted to calling Biden (and any other Democrat he can think of) a liar.

Ak'Bar A. Shabazz also writes on congressional matters. In this case he covers an official Senate apology for failing to pass anti-lynching laws back in the day. He did make a minor misstatement in his article though. "Many have blamed 'southern conservatives' for filibustering anti-lynching legislation. They would be more accurate if they attributed the opposition to 'southern Democrats'. For, it was the Democratic Party that was most active in opposing civil rights legislation during that movement." While technically accurate, this formulation gives the impression that there were separaterate groups - Southern Conservatives and Southern Democrats. In fact, at that time, they were one and the same. It would be most accurate to say "Southern Conservatdemocratsrats." But perhaps accuracy isn't Mr. Shabazz's point.

Suzanne Fields rights on the sanctity of Marriage. Debra Saunders writes on PETA (wembarrassinglyngly enough, recently had some of their charges die). Larry Elder writes on how Senator Kerry's grades show him to be a dummy (compared to President Bush). Alan Reynolds writes a somewhat confusing article on why Oil Prices aren't controlled by demand for car gasoline.

This is tiring.

Terrence Jeffry comments on a subcontractor at Oak Ridge Nuclear facility who hired undocumented aliens. As you might imagine, he's opposed to that.

Cal Thomas comments that PBS and NPR are too liberal. And by too liberal, he apparently means liberal at all.

Both Ross Mackenzie and Tim Chapman do columns that collect a lot of different short themes in them. Kind of like this post really.

Finally, Michael Furtado writes a column filled with links on how Scientists will defeat Germs. Because Scientists are smart and Germs are not. And Marvin Olasky writes an article recommending his five favorite Civil War Battle Grounds for you to visit.

None of those articles is really jumping out at me to comment on so I present them all. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monster Say Goodbye



Monster say Arrgghmarchgan. Monster words of fond goodbye to California. Monster be hitting that old dusty trail and wandering up and down the byways of America. Monster right wrongs and wrong rights!

Monster say he be glad to have shared this trip with you, and he hope you all have happy times and you enjoy wherever you are.

Monster say Goodbye! And Monster also wonder why nobody ever picks him up.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monster make Environmental Point



Monster know this no be normally a site for site seeing travelogues. Normally this be a site where Bryant complains about things that no make much difference. So monster will continue in the same tradition by complaining about things that do make a difference.

Monster travel all over Los Angeles and he not see one Gazelle. Where are the Gazelles? Monster look all over. Under cars and over buildings and in trees, but there be not one gazelle anywhere!




Monster say look at those hills. Those are beautiful grayish yellow hills with stuff for gazelles to eat. There should be hundreds of gazelles leaping over those hills, but monster not see even one gazelle. This is a shame.

Gazelles be delicious. And they are good for the environment. You happy when you have a gazelle around. You know you are not going hungry. So Monster advocate the adoption of a gazelle based economy for Southern California. Monster hear big chief of California a strong man. So monster will go and see him to present my pro-gazelle agenda.

Monster say he be back later for big wrap up.

Monster Visit Jay and Bobs Secret Stash



Monster visit Jay and Bobs Secret Stash. It not so secret. It right on the street where anybody can come in. See, Monster make it inside without any difficulty.



Monster think store is pretty neat with lots of cool futuristic geegaws but not so much raw gazelle. Monster guess owners worried that raw gazelle would ruin the comics. Humans very fastidious about their painted pictures. That not the monster way.

Monster think store is pretty neat, though. Monster try to put on wings, but store people say nobody is allowed to try on the wings except Ben Affleck. Monster say I am Ben Affleck, but they say they know better. So monster bite store clerk on the knee. Monster very hungry, but not bite hard. But they kick monster out of store anyway.

Anyway the store is pretty neat for those of you who can put up with fastidious humans.

Monster Visit Ameoba Records


Monster need comforting, after rejection at Scripps College, so go to Amoeba Records to look for great tunes. Monster know you are never sad if you have song in your heart. Monster look for CDs by good Monster Band, Throbbing Gristle. Monster also like SPK and Machines of Loving Grace.

Monster encounter difficulty - High Counters. But staff at Ameoba Records helpful and friendly. Monster think Amoeba Records is the Bomb. Monster not know what that means but Monster hear others talking about it, and think it sound cool.

Monster be hungry now, go find gazelles to eat. Monster have other picture, but monster not in it. Monster can't fly, foolish humans. So it just picture.

Monster say Goodbye!

Monster Say Bah Scripss

Monsters might heart be broken. Scripps people say that they no accept males, monsters or humans. I ask to see where that written down, but they just make a laughing at me.

They also say my SAT scores no good. Well I got hungry in the middle of the test. It hard to concentrate when you are hungry. So monster get out gazelle, and all the other test takers freak out. It was like they had never seen gazelle carcass before.

Plus even if monster no have much book smarts, monster have other skills. Monster can hunt and catch own food. How many freshmens can do that?

Monster say he no need go college. He got style. Monster got class. But most of all monster have gazelle eating technique.

Monster say be back later.

Monster Goes to College


Monster visit beautiful Scripps College. Monster think he will register here.

Scripps be all females college. Which means they don't allow males. Human males. Monster bet they don't have any rules about Monster Males.

Besides Monster have passion for learning. Monster want understand the quadritic formula and the First Battle of Bull Run and the Phone Book. Monster feel that only scripps can teach him.

Monster have good feeling about this. Soon Monster will be joining the collegiate life! Monster say Go Scripps and good-bye.

Monster in Los Angeles

Well I've finally managed to get contact with the Monster. Apparently he has just arrived in Los Angeles and wanted take you on a Monster's tour through Los Angeles. Naturally I agreed to his suggestion, so for the rest of the day the Monster will have control of the site, more or less.



Monster Say ARRGURRBARGGERR

Monster in Los Angeles, great city. Monster smart. He know that LA Monsters and Peoples judge a man or a monster by his wheels. So Monster make sure to drive a vehicle that nobody can look down on. Monster the greatest! Plus, it handles really well.

Monster staying in this hotel, the Ayres Suites. Monster say, good hotel this hotel be. Stay there all the time, Monster advises. Monster love free morning bacon policy. Hooray for Ayres Suites.

Monster going to get on the road now for our first stop. Monster say getta outta me face.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

New Format, New Quote

Yep. That's right. A new quote and a new format, but since I am on the road, no new Quotes Page. Maybe later on this week, maybe next week. You never know.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What's Next?

I've read two articles in the last little bit about the Democrats lack of a positive program - a subject I touched on earlier this week. The first was from the Economist and the second was at Salon. In both cases you have to watch a short ad to read the articles, and in both cases I advise you to do so.

The Economists article opposes the Democratic strategy of opposing President Bush's plans.
Whether it is George Bush's ideas for Social Security (pensions) reform, the free-trade agreement with Central America (CAFTA) or efforts to control the rise in spending on Medicaid, the Democrats in Congress are offering nothing but blanket opposition. No alternatives, no negotiation. Just say no.
The Economist acknowledges some of the difficulties in coming up with a positive program of our own. For one thing we have zero chance of getting it implemented at the present time. For another we don't all agree on what the best program should be. The Democratic Party has both those in favor of Free Trade, those advocating "Fair Trade" and those would like to see Trade severely curtailed. Who is going to harmonize those view? And more to the point, why fight that particular battle right now? Since we can't implement a specific trade policy, why fracture the party fighting that one out right now?

And who would benefit from such an inner-party squabble?

Anyway I don't think the Economist is really all that pro-Republican. But they are coming at from a Business point of view. And the one thing that businesses prefer above all else in a government is predictability. Right now it's difficult for businesses to know what Democrats are going to do once we regain power. Some things are obvious (repealing at least part of the Bush tax cuts, for example). But other things aren't. And I hate to say this, but that's sort of the way things go right now.

The Salon article looks at the opposition strategy from a more political angle, and so makes the obvious point that there are political advantages to it.
As Democrats regroup from the electoral drubbing of 2004, they intend to portray Republicans as they themselves were cast a decade ago: a majority corrupted by political hubris gone awry. If a unifying strategic theme can be found among Democrats as they prepare for midterm elections, it is their intention to run as the alternative to what they claim is Republican legislative overreach and abuse.
And there it is. As it says later in the Salon piece, the upcoming elections have to be about the party in power, not the party out of power.
"It is preferable and desirable to have a positive agenda, but I think it is absolutely necessary as the out party to make the election about the in party," said Stu Rothenberg, of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. "The Republicans in 1994 blocked Democratic initiatives and complained about gridlock. They also already had negative stuff, such as the Clinton healthcare plan, and it worked pretty well. The atmospherics are right for a Democratic year in 2006. The voters are dissatisfied with the direction of the country and not particularly pleased with the president."
So should we continue our opposition strategy or come out with some serious plans of our own? I don't know for sure; I think we do need some issues to stand on. Reforming Health Care for example. Even if we don't have a specific plan to propose, just talking about it will put Republicans on the defensive (since they don't want to talk about it). But I think there's nothing wrong with focusing on the guys who actually have power in this country.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

An Announcement

I was just listening to old Rush Limbaugh, and it appears that there is some confusion over what we liberals stand for. Apparently there is some confusion over whether we liberals are opposed to beheadings. Some people have the notion that we liberals see insurgents and terrorists beheading prisoners as just a simple cultural folkways.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Why I don't know a liberal who isn't horrified at the thought of someone being beheaded.

I just wanted to clear that up. We liberals do not like people being beheaded.

But, as it turns out, we also don't like people being tortured.

Leaders, Liberals, Laggards, and Liars

Herman Cain's latest article is entitled Leaders, Liberals and Laggards, and covers Social Security. Specifically it covers how Liberals and Laggards are hampering President Bush's attempts to Lead the debate. Mr. Cain, as is traditional, spends little time wondering if President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction.

We are winning this debate in the short term, which is good. Better than letting President Bush's plan to destroy Social Security go forward. But it does leave us open to the charge of obstructionism. One great rhetorical sleight of hand is to present your prescription to a problem as the only solution. Here's the problem; here's the solution, why don't Democrats want to solve this problem? Hermain Cain uses this formulation continuously.
The first critical thing that real leaders do is remove barriers to understanding a problem and its solution. Liberals create barriers to cause confusion. . . .

The second critical thing that leaders do is ask the right questions. Liberals ask the wrong or misleading questions. . . .

Third, leaders inspire the best in people, which is to believe in themselves. Faith in individual liberty and choice produces solutions to problems for the common good of the people. Liberals incite the worst in people, such as jealousy and envy. This produces divisiveness, dysfunctional social systems, and bigger government for the good of their political party. . . .
This pattern works, in a sense, because he successfully minimizes any Democratic Plans to fix Social Security. Thus we have one side maturely putting forward their plan to fix America, and the other side digging in their heels, seemingly out of sheer maliciousness. The truth is that both sides have put forward plans. Democrats have been putting forward plans for years. One involves raising the cap on Payroll Taxes, and it seems like that would work. But we haven't publicized our plans as much.

I'm of two minds about this call. Part of me says that if the Republicans want us to do something so unanimously (and the Republicans have been pretty darn unanimous in their advocation that we should put forward a plan), well I can't think that it's a good thing. After all once we talk about raising the cap (if that ends up being our proposal), Republicans phrase it as a tax increase and slam into us. President Bush's plan has yet to be fleshed out in any detail, presumably for the same reason (although in his case it might be the program cuts that he would get slammed over).

On the other hand if they paint us as simple obstructionists, well, that's not much better. And how bad would admitting we want to raise taxes hurt us? If a program is running short of money, there are two answers. Raise more money (through taxes, or, in theory, President Bush's private accounts) or spend less Money (through cutting services).

I know Commentators aren't supposed to admit this, but I killed a guy in Buffalo. Also I don't know exactly what the right answer is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Can we win the War in Iraq?

A couple of years ago, before the invasion of Iraq, Thomas Friedman's articles particularly convinced me to support the war in Iraq. My support was thoroughly lukewarm, but I acknowledged that it might end up ok, if we did it right. I also agree with Friedman's oft stated complaint that we have failed in Iraq because Donald Rumsfeld wanted to fight the war on the cheap. The most important priority in this administration is protecting the tax cuts, not the safety of the American people or even American soldiers.

With his latest article, however, we part ways. He suggests doubling the troops in Iraq.
Maybe it is too late, but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground and redouble the diplomatic effort to bring in those Sunnis who want to be part of the process and fight to the death those who don't.
The problem with this line of thinking is two fold. One, where are the new soldiers going to come from? Are we just going to double the lengths of stays for national guard and army reserve units? Army recruiting is down.

Secondly, and more important, there's that "maybe." Maybe it is too late. Without a winning strategy, how do you ask more American troops to die for a victory we've already lost.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Let that Freak Flag Fly!

Pandragon has a story on a secondary American flag suggested by Marcia Thompson Eldreth. A Christian American Flag, to be hung right under "tradition" non-Christian flag. Weird looking thing, truthfully. Anyway go check it out.

The modern conservative movement does seem very symbols oriented. I suppose because with the economy still faltering and the war in Iraq losing popularity, symbolic victories look a bit more feasible.

Let's Make David Limbaugh Retch

David Limbaugh's latest article is total crap, as you might expect. He starts it with this sentence.
If I hear one more time how the United States better clean up its image in the world so we don't further alienate foreigners and generate more terrorists, I think I'm going to retch.
Hey Mr. Limbaugh, we need to clean up our image so we don't further alienate the other nations of the world and generate more terrorists!

Instead of caring about world opinion, Mr. Limbaugh suggests that the real problem is Democrats and Journalists reporting on these issues. If we liberals didn't harp on things like the Downing Street Minutes or the torture at Gitmo, well, our international image would be better. In other words, the problem isn't the abuse, it's the report of the abuse.

Incidentally, if any leftist starts complaining about the number of dead tortured to death, make sure he sticks to the official figure. Only 27 people have been tortured to death, and not one person more. Or at least those are the current official figures.

Anyway David Limbaugh is living in a fantasy world where we can win against the Iraqi insurgency without paying any attention to getting the Iraqi people on our side. All we have to do is kill enough Iraqi Insurgents and we will win. You'll forgive me if I don't find that entirely believable.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Qu'ran and Najis

Diane West's latest article covers the rules American troops have to abide by in handling the Qu'ran in Guantenemo. She opposes them handling the Qu'ran in the specified way.
The fact is, under Islamic law, non-Muslims are deemed unfit to touch the Quran. That much is generally known. What is not usually considered is the reason: According to the Islamic law, we are unclean.

The term is "najis." . . .

In effect, then, with its official policy of clean cloves and detainee towels, the United States military is promoting, enabling and accepting the Islamic concept of najis -- the unclean infidel -- a barbarous notion that has helped fuel the bloodlust of jihad and the non-Muslim subjugation of dhimmitude. Our soldiers are many things: self-sacrificing, bold, loyal and true. They are not unclean.

Is this political correctness run amok? Not exactly. It's something else again, a new threat from within that needs vigilant redress. P.C. is about victimology, the elevation of perceived victim groups to the canonical pantheon. The Gitmo rules are more blatantly about surrender, a voluntary self-extinguishment, a spreading condition of denial of what is right and worth standing for. Not what you expect from the United States Southern Command.
I'm not sure I buy that Ms. West. For one thing, there are practical concerns involved. Guantenomo bay is essentially a prison - how riled up do you want the prisoners to be? You might have fantasies that our troops can offend dozens of prisoners and suffer no consequences, but I'm pretty sure that is not the case.

Secondly I think the article presents a false dichotomy. It posits respect for Islam as submission to it. I don't know if that is necessarily true, and it hasn't escaped my notice that Conservatives argue regularly that paying respect to Christianity in America isn't submitting to it.

Anyway an interesting but wrongheaded article.

Darn links!

I screwed up my last Round the Horn Column. Instead of linking to Pen-Elaynes comments, as I had thought I was doing, I linked to Scrutiny Hooligans twice. What a dingbat I am. So I apologize for this error, and assure you I will make this kind of mistake again. So please go read Elayne's words as they are smart and she is right.

Equivalence and Deep Throat

Obviously, now that Deep Throat has been revealed to be Mark Felt, they must do what they can to minimize our memory of the excesses of the Nixon White House. One method is to suggest that what this story really shows is that the Press likes Whistleblowers who tell on Conserveratives and is not a fan of whistleblowers who tell on Liberals.

After all, Linda Tripp did basically the same thing as Mark Felt, and yet she's pilloried. Jay Bryant makes this argument in his latest article, but he's far from convincing. Frankly I'm not sure he's even trying. Watergate involved government misuse of power on a massive scale; the Lewinsky scandal involved a President having inappropriate sex. Now I'm not a fan of what Clinton did, but to equate the two, well it's a joke. Even with the mention of AIDS and fathers abandoning their kids in the ghetto, it's still a joke.

Mr. Felt is part of the Nixon scab that blemishes the Republican party, apparently forever.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mea Culpa

Sorry about the no posts yesterday, but I was busy. Sort of. In a way.

Anyway to make it up to you, here's an updated Quotes Page.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Comic Books and Misogyny

Paul O'Brian (of the X-Axis) takes on a recent article in the English Press on Sin City in his latest article at the Ninth Art. The article on Sin City suggests that Comic Books are guilty of a certain amount of misogyny. Well worth checking out, particularly for the way he trashes the article while admitting a grain of truth to the thesis.

He also points to Gail Simone's Women in Refrigerators website which deals with this problem in more depth. Well worth checking out, and it's particularly interesting to look down the responses by Comic Book Professionals.

Around the Horn Part 9. Not Responsible.

Still listening to Gorillaz by the way. Not as much as last week, but still once a day or so.

The Invisible Library has a bit about changes in the Mac Chip set, which is a bit out of my technical reach, but of some interest.

Speedkill has a reaction to the Medical Mary Jane decision earlier this week.

Scrutiny Hooligans has a rather disturbing discussion of the concept of Peak Oil.

Pen-Elayne on the Web has further thoughts on that age old question of where female bloggers are.

You know when you think about it, this is a weird question. I mean we accept (or are aware) that woman get certain roles on TV, in the movies, in books, in comic books, in news rooms, and elsewhere because of age old customs that belittled woman and smacked of misogyny. In other words, the history of the medium explains, if not justifies, the limitations placed on women (and others).

And yet here is a brand new medium. The pioneers of this medium might have been doing it for, what, a decade at most? There is no history to blogging, except the one we are making day by day. And yet we apparently have the same old problem. Kind of makes you wonder if we are really as non-sexist as we would like to think.

Anyway back to the blog-a-round.

Rubber Hose has a piece on renting Germans. Remember, no one who speaks German could be evil.

Musings Musings has a reaction to a New York Times Report of Mr. Greenspan's recent comments on our fabulous economy.

LEFT is RIGHT has some thoughts about Howard Deans fundraising strategy, and what a man's word is worth.

ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES has some words to share on Howard Dean as well, this time talking about his public pronouncements.

Iddybud asks some tough questions about the latest batch of photos from Abu Ghraib and those who supported the war in Iraq.

And that's it for another week. Be back later, as far as you know.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

News from Albertsons

I'm shopping at Albertson's a lot right now, because they sent me some coupons and, due to my recent financial belt tightening, I am interested in coupons. But Albertsons has done something interesting. According to Talk Left and Crooks and Liars, an e-mail from James Dobson's Focus on the Family (Right wing Group) reports the following.
Albertsons Corporation agreed to accommodate its pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their religious or moral beliefs.
I have to admit that I am not that worked up about this particular issue. I probably should be, but I'm not.

What I am waiting for is for some clever pharmacist to refuse someone's medicine because the patient is a jerk. "Look, it violates my moral code to give insulin to jerks like that punk there. He cut me off in the parking lot three times! Three Times!! Not once, not twice, but thrice!!! Therefore I can't, in good conscience, provide him with insulin."

Could President Bush be Impeached?

That is the question asked by a lead article at Salon today (warning! If you aren't a member you have to watch a short advert before reading the article). They asked four legal scholars to evaluate the legality of impeaching President Bush for having lied to the American people in the run up to the Iraq war. All four basically said that from a practical standpoint there is no chance. Republicans control the House and no way are they going to pass articles of impeachment.

That said the argument seems to be over what the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" was intended to mean.
"But, to the Founders, the answer to that question was obvious. The impeachment provisions referred to behavior that amounted to extraordinarily serious political misconduct -- selling out the country to a foreign nation (treason), selling out the national interest for private gain (bribery), and similar political misconduct. You can have arguments around the edges of the category -- could a president be impeached for murdering his wife's paramour? (Sure, because even though the misconduct is not in itself political, it demonstrates an inability to lead sufficiently serious to justify removal prior to the next election) -- but lying to the American people to gain support for a foreign adventure that they wouldn't otherwise endorse isn't even a close case." - Mark Tushnet

". . . Nixon's misconduct did not justify his impeachment and removal merely because it was a bad act. What tipped the balance against Nixon was that it became clear, through the Watergate tapes, that he had malicious or criminal intent. The Constitution requires more than just a bad act to merit removal from office; it also requires bad intent. This requirement derives from the framers' explicit use of criminal terminology to describe the scope of impeachable offenses.

Yet the framers never suggested impeachment and removal were appropriate to address political leaders' mistaken judgments." -
Michael J. Gerhardt
Personally my interest in impeachment drops significantly once I realize it's a political impossibility, but it's worth considering as a theoretical issue, if nothing else.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Rebellion

The Star Wars Rebellion, that is. I've been thinking about it, and I think it's just a little bit sanitized. I mean rebellions or revolutions inevitably end up getting their hands dirty now and again.

In Star Wars they take on one military target (the Death Star) which conveniently has no non-Military personnel on board (at least none that we see). In Empire Strikes Back they are hiding out in the Hoth System when the Empire shows up to pound on them. It's not until Return of the Jedi that we see them actually doing something a little ethically gray (recruiting the Ewoks to help fight the Empire (but, then again, the Ewoks sort of volunteered)).

Certainly rebellions and insurgencies on earth haven't acted with the same discretion. To be fair, it's entirely possible that other rebels are out blowing up munitions plants or kidnapping planetary governors. Who knows?

Medical Marijuana

For those who don't know, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government and against medical marijuana. This has raised a certain amount of ire on both the right and the left. Kathleen Parker (Right), for example, waxes sarcastic in her latest article, which covers the ruling.
I've got that all-over tingly feeling not felt since Martha Stewart was put away and America's mean streets made safe again.

I'm talking, of course, about Monday's Supreme Court ruling against state-sanctioned medical marijuana use that will keep the terminally ill and chronic pain sufferers from firing up a marijuana joint, getting stoned and, in addition to risking acute munchies, enjoying a temporary reprieve from hellish suffering.

Thank G-d we've got that particular homeland security problem under control. Why, in the age of terror, one can never be too careful with dying people who have nothing left to lose.
Her column continues in that vein, wondering why, with so many law enforcement problems facing America, the Federal Justice system is focused on this particular issue. A question I've wondered as well. I've concluded that it's for political reasons; John Ashcroft would like to get elected to something someday. And he thinks getting tough with pot heads (even terminally ill pot heads) will endear him to a certain segment of the voters. He might be right.

Over at This Modern World, which now features a variety of bloggers, Greg Saunders (Left) discusses the issue in relation to the movement to legalize Mary Jane for recreational as well as medicinal use. His feeling is that, for those who really want to see Weed legalized, this was kind of a wrong turn.
Like I said before, I think the "war" on drugs is awful, but I thought we were talking about the ways marijuana helps ease the enormous pain and suffering of cancer patients. Yes, the two issues are related, but nobody should be exploiting the sympathy for the terminally ill to piggyback the larger, but tangential, issue of the excessive criminalization of narcotics onto this particular fight.

Furthermore, I can't think of a worse way to pave the way for medical marijuana than the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment as described above. I think doctors should be allowed to prescribe pot to chronically ill patients, but the idea of allowing bad laws to remain on the books while passing additional laws that make it illegal to enforce the existing laws seems like a big, big mistake. Sure, it may provide the necessary results, but the means to that end would probably be a legal mess that could end up confusing the issue even further.
That sort of makes sense to me. I think that combining the medical marijuana issue with the larger issue of drug legalization just ends up trivializing what is really an important issue in and of itself. That said, both sides have good reason to continue combining the two, unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Looking backward

Thomas Sowells article earlier was entitled Looking Back, which reminded me of the great book by Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward. It's a utopian novel set in the far off time of 2000. Anyway I looked up the project Gutenberg version of this novel and started reading it when I came across this passage. See if it reminds you of anything in our modern world.
The great city bazaar crushed its country rivals with branch stores, and in the city itself absorbed its smaller rivals till the business of a whole quarter was concentrated under one roof, with a hundred former proprietors of shops serving as clerks. Having no business of his own to put his money in, the small capitalist, at the same time that he took service under the corporation, found no other investment for his money but its stocks and bonds, thus becoming doubly dependent upon it.
Like I said, does that remind you anything in particular?

War is the only Solution

Here's another rhetorical trick you might use. State the problem in strong terms. Propose a solution. At the appearance of any other proposed solution, reiterate the problem and suggest that this proposed solution is the equivalent of doing nothing. This is similar to what magicians call a force, where you give the mark what he thinks is a choice but it's really nothing of the kind.

Thomas swell, who is usually a more reasonable guy, uses this technique to somewhat chilling effect in his latest article. In it he postulates how a future America might look back at this crucial time in our nations history, and they will wonder, apparently, why we didn't take the opportunity to be even meaner and crueler to our Muslim prisoners and why we didn't invade North Korea and Iran.
What will the generations of the future say if we allow Iran and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, which are then turned over to terrorists who can begin to annihilate American cities?

Our descendants will wonder how we could have let this happen, when we had the power to destroy any nation posing such a threat. Knowing that we had the power, they would have to wonder why we did not have the will -- and why it was so obvious that we did not.
That is definitely a call to action. But not, apparently, to diplomacy. He quickly mocks the idea of using diplomatic methods, and, as mentioned above, equates them with doing nothing. So one is left with the assumption that Mr. Sowell is calling for some kind of military action with Iran and North Korea.

Adventures in the Amazon (reviews)!

This from a review of the Moby single "Lift Me Up." Version 2 for those who keep track of such things.
ENTIRE FILTH!! = 0 STARS!, June 5, 2005
A Kid's Review

This is the music more horrible to that earlier he had never listened., I do not understand as the people can please this GARBAGE!.
MOBY YOU ARE AN ENTIRE GARBAGE!!, INSTEAD OF SINGING GO TO THE DENTIST, BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE NOT NOTICED YOUR TEETH ARE ROTTEN!
Anyway, I don't think that Moby has rotten teeth. For one thing, he's a vegan, and their breaths tend to be minty fresh (unless they are really into curried lentils). For another, he just doesn't look like he has rotten teeth. His teeth look ok.

Secondly, I'm not familiar with the sentence structure displayed in the first line. I think this is supposed to the convey the idea that this music isn't as good as his earlier music while also commenting that he had not listened to his earlier music. I think. Hard to say really.

Polls are Proof of the existence of Polls

This might be a bit rambling. I'm running late because of a car battery problem, and need to get to work. But I was just reading an article by Bruce Bartlett (on the recent spate of stories on class in America (social class, not the opposite of Paris Hilton Class)) and it reminded me of a particular tick by the right wing. They are constant poll watchers. Read this paragraph.
The American Enterprise Institute compiled a useful compendium of data on this subject a few years ago. According to this study, in 1964 people were first asked what economic class they had grown up in and what class they belonged to today. Pollsters asked this question again in 1978, 1984 and 1996. In every case, there was solid evidence that people were living in a higher economic class than the one in which they were raised.
What I find interesting is that the methodology the Right has adopted to prove that class isn't that big a problem is asking people what class they think they are in.

This methodology is suspect. Would it be possible to measure peoples living space, track their paychecks, track what they are able to spend on food and where they shop, track available credit and from that place them in a class? Yes. Would this method be superior to just asking people what class they think they are? Yes. For one thing, individuals may not wish to admit what class they belong to for a multitude of reasons. For another, they may simply not know.

This is similar to a trick they use in the debate over Media Bias. Empirical studies on Media Bias usually don't show that much bias. Certainly not enough to warrant the claims of a Rush Limbaugh. So they go to surveys that ask whether or not people think there is media bias. And, not surprisingly, all such surveys show that people think there is media bias (which may just prove that if the right wing says something enough times people will buy it).

I've also seen Rush and a few others use this argument on global warming and other environmental issues, although not nearly as much. I suspect they realize that the opinions of a poll really aren't the same as the opinions of trained scienticians.

Anyway something to watch for when you see a stastical argument being presented.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Religion and Politics

I got nothing against religious people being into politics. And, by the same token, I got no problem with religious people using religious speech as they discuss their politics. The behaivor described in this letter to the editor, on the other hand, I'm not so much in favor of.
Amember of my church gave to me a copy of the Ohio Restoration Project. This project is led by so-called Christians who have a plan for Ohio. The project will target 2,000 pastors throughout the state to become "patriot pastors." These patriot pastors will be briefed on a specific political agenda and asked to submit names of their parishioners in order to increase a database to 300,000 names. These pastors will be asked to place voter guides in their church pews.

Ken Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state and a governor hopeful, is named throughout the document. Blackwell will be featured on 30-second radio ads promoting this group's agenda and supporting the "Ohio for Jesus" rally set for the spring of 2006. At the end of the document are the words, "America has a mission to share a living savior with a dying world."

This is not America's mission. This is frightening, diabolical stuff for non-Christians and Christians alike. It is blasphemous to claim that any earthly kingdom is God's kingdom. The theological foundations of this movement are vacuous. They are set on the sands of opportunism, self-righteousness and greed.
This type of operations strikes me as bad for Christianity and bad for America, and I hope those involved rethink their plans.

Deep Throat Redux

Interesting article by Armstrong Williams (yep, that Armstrong Williams) on Mark Felt and Frank Willis. Frank Willis for those who do not know was the security guard who discovered the Watergate Break-in, and didn't get much for his efforts.
After the scandal broke, Willis resigned from his security guard position. He had difficulty finding work after that. Most institutions feared the government would cut their funds if they hired him. In 1990, Willis returned to South Carolina to care for his sick mother. They lived together off her $450 a month Social Security check. When she died in 1992, Willis was too poor to pay for a funeral, and had to donate her body to science. Willis spent the next 10 years living in obscurity. On September 27, 2000, the man whose phone call changed history, died penniless.
I'm not sure why Williams chooses to repeat Willis's story, but it's probably good to remember.

William's overall argument is that Felt is unworthy of our praise. If he was unhappy with what was going on he should have gone public rather than doing his work through Bernstein and Woodward. Standard conservative text (he even quotes Pat Buchanan, although not the bit where Buchanan calls Felt a traitor who's actions led directly to the Khmer Rouge.

It's important that the right wing destroy Felt and erase the significance of Watergate from our minds. Why? Because Watergate was on of the triumphs of journalism, and the right wing isn't a big fan of journalism. They want adversarial journalism when their political enemies are in power, and celebratory journalism when they are in power. And, right now, they are in power.

So a return to the spirited journalism that uncovered Watergate, well, you can understand why they might not be so keen on that.

Dirty Harry

I've been singing the praises of the new Gorillaz album for a little while. For the record, I think it's pretty good. Dirty Harry, a sequel of sorts to a single off their first album (Clint Eastwood) has a rap provided by Bootie Brown. Here is a section of it.
Chill with your old lady at the tilt
I got a 90 days digit
And I'm filled with guilt
From things that I've seen
Your water's from a bottle
mine's from a canteen

At night I hear the shots
Ring so I'm a light sleeper
The cost of life,
it seems to get cheaper
out in the desert
with my street sweeper
The war is over
So said the speaker with the flight suit on
Maybe to him I'm just a pawn
So he can advance
Remember when I used to dance
Man, all I want to do is dance
Good lyrics, and I think they have a bit of a message in them.

Hannity and Turner

The Nation has an article tracing the career of a frequent caller (named Hal Turner) to the Sean Hannity show. I'm not sure about these kinds of articles, by the way. In a way it's guilt by association; Hannity has nuts call him so he must be a nut to. In another way, Hannity chooses to argue or disagree with people that call in, and, at least according to this article, he usually didn't challenge or correct Mr. Turner nor did he keep him from appearing on his program.

The article posits that Mr. Hannity needed Turner to connect with a certain segment of his audience while maintaining personal deniability.

Mr. Turner has some interesting opinions. For one thing he praises the killing of illegal aliens suggesting that if enough illegal aliens die they won't want to come to the United States anymore. He also argues that without the graciousness of the White Man, "black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa." So that's nice.

Eventually Turner turned out to be a liability to Hannity who stopped taking his calls. Fortunately Turner got a shortwave radio station and so still has a venue in which he can spread his particular brand of hatred.

Bible Literacy

Suzanne Fields has an alligator tears column in which she cries about the fact that American kids don't know the Bible as a literary work. Her article can't quite decide whether it's a pro religion tract or a critique of our failing schools. But fortunately she has a a solution.
No one proposes teaching the Bible as a sacred text or to promote religious faith in public schools. With three kinds of Jews, a dozen varieties of Methodists and countless flavors of Baptists, just for starters, we could never agree on what, exactly, should be taught as doctrine even if that's what we set out to do. But in a less-than-perfect world there can be no harm, and a lot of good, in well-informed surveys of the Bible as literature, showing how the Bible has shaped history, philosophy, the law, art and other subjects, inspiring our earliest settlers, Founding Fathers and presidents unto the modern day.
My school did have an optional Bible as literature class if memory serves. But I'm not sure this is intended as a solution or as a foot in the door. Once the Bible is being taught as literature, are Christian communities going to be satisfied or frustrated? Do they really want the Bible to be treated in the same way as, say, the Sonnets of Shakespeare? Do they want the words treated as having come from a human mind or a divine intelligence? Who should teach the course? That young bright atheist or that equally young, equally bright believer?

One can certainly assume that Christian communities do not want to see the bible taught in such a way as it would hurt their young peoples faith. Which presents the school and particularly the teacher with a bit of a challenge. Because, as Ms. Fields says, the teacher also can't promote a specific faith (or set of faiths) in her teaching either. I don't think negotiating this particular mine field can be done in a lower lever or a required class. On the other hand, I think Ms. Fields thinks that her more traditional values would eventually emerge victorious in this particular debate. Or, to return to the crocodile tears metaphor above, she's less worried about teaching kids from a specific point of view than she claims.

On the other hand, exposing our young scholars to the Bible certainly seems like a good idea. So how does one do it? In an upper level optional class where all the students choose to be there. Even that's not perfect (as there are well-intentioned atheist and Christian parents who will put kids in that class in order to pick a fight).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

New Format, new Quote

Well I'm not feeling great today. So that's why the delay, and also why no updated quotes page. Still it looks nice, no?

Bryant.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Star Wars is pro Bush?

The Huffington Post has a lot of good posts, but you can't hit the ball out of the park all the time. This post, by Billy Kimbell, shows a certain antipathy towards the Star Wars films, but fails to entirely get their facts straight.
Finally, although Padme may lament the impending collapse of democracy, we should not forget that she herself if a princess and was once a queen, entitled to privilege and deference. Her children will be hereditary aristocrats, even if one of them, for a while, will be unaware of the fact. The retrograde allure of dukes and counts and princesses adds swash to Star Wars' buckle just as it explains the political appeal of Bush's campaign to repeal the Estate Tax.
OK, that's a bit goofy, since it's clear that Naboo has an elected monarchy. The term Queen is more or less synonemous with President, as near as I can tell.

Of course, I get the sense Mr. Kimbell would make fun of me for knowing the planet Padme came from, so maybe it's a wash. But I don't have to worry about that, as he explains at the end of his post.
Anyway, hopefully, the Huffington Post will rally geek legions to defend this idea and also to attack it and if it's already a cyberspace commonplace, then please accept my apologies in advance. I never read blogs except, of course, this one.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Obstacle Military Recruiters Face

It's no secret that these aren't the best times to be a military recruiter. Joining any branch of the military could lead to combat service. But one military recruiter was surprisingly upfront with te New York Times about one of the biggest obstacles Military Recruiters face.
"Parents," said one recruiter in Ohio who insisted on anonymity because the Army ordered all recruiters not to talk to reporters, "are the biggest hurdle we face."
It's scary to consider what the Bush Administration has done to our military prepardness.

Round the Horn - Part 6.5% Feel Good Inc.

Listening to the new Gorillaz Album which is hella tight. Go buy it today.

Archy has some math fun for Dick Cheney, involving the phrase "last throes."

Mercury X23's Fantabulous Blog has some thoughts on posting the first commandment on public property.

Ricks's Cafe Americaine has a bit on Harry Potter and freedom of expression.

The News Blog (formally Steve Galliard's News Blog) has a piece on how the Southern Army was integrated. Or wasn't integrated.

First Draft has a story on military recruitment, grenades, and baseballs.

T. Rex's Guide to Life looks at his potential to intimidate.

The Podunt Press (previously Words on a Page) has some reactions to the revelation that Mark Felt is Deep Throat.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat also has a reaction to this revelation, considering the possibilities.

And that's it for now. Maybe I'll be back later.

Fruedian Slip at Fox

I am running a bit behind on my Friday Around the Horn feature, so here's something to tide you over. A Media Matters story in which the news anchor makes a bit of a fruedian slip.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I'm Just Sleepy and Cranky

I couldn't get to sleep last night, which is always good. There's no better mental state than the one you get in starring at the ceiling, angry cause you can't fall asleep. Anyway that makes me cranky today. I've already had to delate five or six posts for excessive profanity. So instead I'm just going to point out this particular passage and you can fill in your own profanity.

It's from Emmett Tyrell's latest article. His first paragraph in fact.
Our war against terror is in trouble now. Lawyers from some of our most prestigious law firms are trundling down to Guantanamo Bay to represent detainees. If any group in America can bring a project to foozle it would be a group of American lawyers intent on humanitarian service. It is only a matter of time before a new Ramsey Clark Jr. emerges to fill American courts with bogus legal charges to stoke international anti-Americanism. Then accomplished poseurs such as the Clintons and Jean-Francois Kerry can chirp about how the whole world is increasingly hostile to us. They will, of course, urge the Bush Administration to heed the concerns of "the world community."
The rest of his article covers the reliable anti-Muslim and anti-Lawyer bases. In other words those bastard muslims deserve to be tortured. And anybody who thinks the rule of law is important is some pinko commie freak. Or something like that.

Troubling Question

Randall Robinson over at the Huffington has a question he'd like to ask President Bush. A troubling question. And, therefore, not one that is actually going to be asked.

The Problem with Torture

Is the problem with torture that we do it? Or is it that people are reporting on it?

As you know Amnesty has produced a report that strongly indicts the United States for our torture policies (along with holding people without representation or without being able to contact their families). This report has proven less than popular with the Bush Administrations, which I suppose none of us should find all that surprising.

Sidney Blumenthal, in his latest article for Salon, covers the Bush reaction.
By the moment of Bush's press conference, every nuance of his response on the issue had been carefully configured and rehearsed by Cheney, Rice, Myers et al. "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd," the president began. Then he repeated himself: "It's an absurd allegation." The country, he declared, is virtuous, and therefore, he suggested, his motives must be innocent. "The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world." Under him, the rule of law prevails: "When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way."

Bush repeated himself again: "It's just an absurd allegation." Once again, he claimed nothing had gone amiss. "In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees." Every complaint, he assured his audience, was false because the motives of the detainees are as evil as his are pure: "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations by -- people who were held in detention, people who hate America." Here, Bush turned lexicographer: "people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth." In conclusion he banged again on his drum: "And so it was an absurd report. It just is."

It may be of minor ironic interest that before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration cited Amnesty International's reports on Saddam Hussein's violations of human rights as unimpeachable texts. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld often claimed Amnesty as his ultimate authority. Now, inexplicably, Amnesty has gone over to the side of the devil. (On Wednesday, Rumsfeld assailed Amnesty as "reprehensible" and losing "any claim to objectivity or seriousness." But he admitted that some detainees have been mistreated, "sometimes grievously." Thus, according to the secretary of defense, they were not all "disassembling.")
America is clearly the good guy in this conflict.

Good guys don't torture.

America, therefore, doesn't torture.

Amnesty international must be full of crap if they accuse America of torture.

I think that covers it.

Meanwhile over at This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow continues to belittle the blogs (as is his wont). And Greg Saunders has a clue as to what the Bush Administration hopes to accomplish with their assault on Amnesty International.
. . . it's clear what's going on here. The Bushies are focusing in on a single word and are going to hit back at Amnesty International until they say something even vaguely conciliatory. At that point, they'll declare victory.
That kind of fits the pattern, when you think about it.