Friday, September 29, 2006

Round the Horn and Back Again

Hey. McIckleson is not available today, as he is on an ocean liner to europe - hopefully we can recalibrate the time communication device so as to have him next week.

This is kind of good though, because it gives me a chance to do something different. As many of you know, the military tribunals bill passed yesterday. This bill preserve the CIAs power to torture without fear of legal sanctions, and it enables the President or his administration to lock up anybody deeemed an enemy combatent and to try them without providing them wth the information that the prosocution and judge can see. But don't worry, I'm sure these special commissions will only be around as long as we are in this War on Terror. Once we defeat all the terrorists, we'll go back to being a constitutional Democracy.

As you can tell this has me a bit agitated - but lets see what other members of the Liberal Coalition think about it.

So Let's get started.

On Losing Habeas Corpus
The people who fail to preserve habeas corpus are not the ones you can count on to protect the nation and preserve liberties.
Collective Sigh, "What the Great Writ wrote"

I need something...stronger than you, my dear habeas. I need tribality and violence. Yes, that's the ticket. You see, we have this new enemy, and it is so barbarian! We can't beat it unless we show that we are barbarians, too. You are many things, my sweetheart, but you are not a barbarian. You would look weak and effeminate to the terrorists, and then they would crawl under my bed. And I can't bear that idea.
Echidne of the Snakes, A "Dear Habeas Corpus" Letter
ironically, insisting that they do something as constitutionally dubious as suspend habeas corpus virtually guarantees more federal court challenges. and i thought the whole idea was to avoid those so-called endless federal appeals.
Rubber Hose, "The Face of Moderation"
Habeas Corpus has been a legal cornerstone since the year 1305. Habeas Corpus "is a legal proceeding in which an individual held in custody can challenge the propriety of that custody under the law." This bill would give the President the right to take it away
Scrutiny Hooligans, "Charles Taylor Votes For Torture, Against Habeas Corpus"

On Continuing Torture
President Bush is trying to pardon himself. Here’s the deal: Under the War Crimes Act, violations of the Geneva Conventions are felonies, in some cases punishable by death. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Convention applied to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, President Bush and his boys were suddenly in big trouble.
Sooner Thought (quoting Cafferty), "Cafferty: “What Are We Becoming?

On Democrat "Opposition" to this Bill
Traitors. To you. To the Constitution. Democrats you must never grant that name nor trust not to sell you out for a handful of silver include , , ,
Chicago Dyke at Correntewire, "The List" (Lists those senators who voted for this bill)
Have we really come to this, where the opposition party will fight no more forever? Is America now the land of aggressive warfare, indefinite detention without charge,, aggressive interrogation with alternative techniques?
Dohiyi Mir, "American Exceptionalism"
The Democrats' excuse for letting themselves get railroaded is that the law will never stand a court challenge. Sorry, but passing the buck to the Supreme Court is a rotten idea, . . .
Bark Bark Woof Woof, "A Bad Law"
Really, there's no other rational conclusion you can come to, other than that the Democrats are deliberately sabotaging their own opposition to the legislation; they want it to pass.
Liberty Street, "Detainee Legislation Likely To Be Approved by House Tomorrow"
. . . it's impossible without leverage. You can't get politicians to vote your way unless they fear you. Making threats you will not carry out makes you look weak and ineffective. And you will not carry them out because no matter how disgusted you, more is at stake. And everyone knows it.
THE NEWS BLOG, "Impotence vs. Power"

On America the Day After
As you know, today the United States of America just dropped down a huge moral ravine when our beloved government legalized torture and unconstitutional detention.
September 28, 2006 is the day our country died.
Rook's Rant, "Remember"
If this bill passes, George W. Bush will have powers greater than the infamous George III against whom we rebelled over two centuries ago: Bush will effectively become a monarch, a despotic monarch, not a figurehead. If this bill passes, America will not be America any more.
Steve Bates, The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, "The Prez Can Do Anything"

On What's We Should Do
Take a moment, feel the weight of it. It's a terrible day. You should feel like hell. I feel like hell. I know, even if we repeal this thing in six months or two years, there's prisoners between now and then who we can't un-torture. There are "detainees" waiting for justice to whom one more day in America's secret prisons is a lifetime.

But this country, once upon a time, voted to deny women the right to vote. We approved of slavery, we declared segregation legal, we marched Native Americans hundreds of miles just because we wanted to and we could. This is not the first time we have made a tragic mistake.

It would be an even more tragic mistake to allow this to stand because of our own disgust and inaction.
Athenae at First Draft, "Take A Breath, Take A Drink, And Then Get Off Your Ass"
I've got a brand-new mantra:

If we have a spine, so will the Democratic Party.

It really is that simple. The biggest reason we've seen so many wishy-washy-wimpy Democrats these last few years? Because Democrats as a whole have been far too busy pursuing other agendas and being wishy-washy-wimpy themselves to force our representatives in Congress, in government, and in the Democratic Party itself, to stand up to their opponents (who are also our opponents).
Musing's musings, "Mehr Licht!"

Anyway, I don't know how to end this. I'll note I don't necessarily agree or disagree with all of these responses.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blogging for Dummies

I love standing in line at the grocery store. No wait. It's that other thing. Hate. I hate standing in line at the grocery store.

Somebody has started putting out Reader's Digest sized Dummies books. I purchased the Cooking for Dummies one. And a few weeks ago I saw the perfect book.

Internet Gambling for Dummies.

I looked inside. It turns out it's not just "go right ahead, dummy."

Today I saw Kittens for Dummies. I have to say my opinion is that if you are a dummy maybe you shouldn't have a kitten.

I might not be in the target demographic for a dummies book.


Douglas MacKinnon throws around the word "treason" in his latest article. He limits his accusation to those who leak classified information and those who print it, specifically referencing the NIE report that suggests that being in Iraq may have made us less safe.
We can’t defeat the terrorists if traitors among us eagerly supply them with intelligence that puts our nation and our troops in harms way. Period.

. . . as one who once worked in a joint command at the Pentagon and dealt with classified information on a daily basis, I am here to beg those in our own government and our own media, to stop this suicidal disclosure of top secret information. If not for reasons of obeying the law and patriotism, then at the very least, for the safety of you and your family. For when the terrorists do visit our shores again – basically at your invitation -- your betrayal of state secrets will not shield you, nor your family, from their fanatical wrath.
I do think we on the left are a little casual about leaks - obviously leaks are bad. That said, of course there's a bit of hypocricy about this debate - when President Clinton was President, Republicans were similarly casual about leaks designed to embarrass the President.

That said, calling for the deaths of reporters, while clearly popular, could have the ffect of chilling our national debate. But that doesn't stop some Townhall readers.
Now, why not post some real dead or alive notices with real money rewards, just like you OUGHT to do IF you really think what your article just said. It might get you in court even and then you could REALLY sound off. After all, WE are the people -remember? NOT the so called government hacks. So let some BLOOD flow for real then see who leaks and sides with our murderers -okay? Otherwise just cap it mac....
So called government hacks?

Anyway some Townhall members want to see reporters blood flow - hopefully the Republicans will resist the temptation to oblige them.

The Game We are Playing

Republicans can't get enough Clinton bashing. Over at Townhall, Hugh Hewitt repeats a long debunked story about the Clinton Administration and bin Ladin. As the story goes, the Sudanese government offered Bin Ladin to the Clinton Administration (on a silver platter, according to Rush). Clinton turned it down because he didn't feel he had legal authority to take him. This proves how weak the Clintons and by extension all Democrats are at fighting terrorism.

Except that's not the whole story. Joe Conason reviewed this (and other slanders) for Salon a couple of years back.
Specifically, the Post reported that during secret negotiations in 1996 between American officials and Sudan defense minister Elfatih Erwa, "The [Khartoum] government was prepared to place [bin Laden] in custody and hand him over, though to whom was ambiguous. In one formulation, Erwa said Sudan would consider any legitimate proffer of criminal charges against the accused terrorist. Saudi Arabia, he said, was the most logical destination." The Post then detailed efforts by the White House and the State Department to induce the Saudis to accept custody of bin Laden, which the authorities in Riyadh adamantly refused.

Nowhere does the Post's carefully worded story state that Sudan agreed to "hand bin Laden over to the United States" -- because that never happened, except perhaps in Sullivan's imagination.

Still referring to the same Post article, Sullivan complains that the Clinton administration "didn't even use the negotiations with the Sudanese to disable bin Laden's financial assets in the Sudan." But as the Post reported, the U.S. ambassador to Sudan pointedly inquired whether those assets would remain under bin Laden's control after his expulsion. He got no reply from Sudan's foreign minister, and within a few days after his query, the Saudi terror chief departed for Afghanistan.

The Sudanese have always had their own agenda, by the way, which Sullivan doesn't think worth mentioning. They promised to cooperate against terrorism only if the United States ended economic sanctions imposed to punish their genocidal campaign of murder and enslavement against black Christians.
So there it is. But this pleasing and dishonest story is apparently too good to let go.

Why are Republicans so eager to fight on this ground? As Salon's War Room notes, this isn't exactly a winning issue for them.
As Peter Baker put it in this morning's Washington Post: "The election year debate has triggered a full-blown spat between the camps of President Bush and former president Bill Clinton as the two sides trade barbs over who was more responsible for failing to disrupt al-Qaeda before it could attack the United States on Sept. 11, 2001." But it seems foolish on its face for Republicans to pit their highly unpopular president against a highly popular Democratic ex-president, particularly when it comes to assigning blame for attacks that occurred on the Republicans' watch. And polling data is beginning to illustrate just how foolish of a fight this was for the GOP to pick.

A new Gallup poll, released today, reveals that a solid majority of "the American public [53-36 percent] puts the primary blame on Bush rather than Clinton for the fact that [Osama] bin Laden has not been captured." And while Democrats and Republicans predictably split on this question along partisan lines, independents overwhelmingly blame Bush over Clinton (58-31 percent).
Perhaps the Republicans have decided that the independents don't matter. Invoking the evils of Bill Clinton fire up their base like nothing else (well, with the possible exception of invoking the evils of Hilary Clinton). And if they decide they can win with their base and that's where elections are going to be won, well, this strategy might not be as senseless as it initially appears.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Making the World Safe for White Males

Let's have a moment of silence for all the indignities heaped upon white males (of which I am one).

That's enough. And now let's turn to Walter E. Williams latest article. Walter E. Williams recognizes the vast indignities we white males have suffered (due in no small part to his race, the African Americans). So he is working through a series of articles designed to make us all a bit more comfortable in our resentment of the blacks, the Hispanics, the Asians, the Women, and anybody else we might want to resent. His first one, from last week, told us it's ok to assume that people who look different than us are dangerous.

Today he assures us that it's ok to assume that people who look different than us are incompetent as well.
Imagine an employer plans to hire 20 strong people to manually unload a ship. Fifty people show up for the job, and they all appear equal, except by sex. The employer has zero information about any other attribute, and he would like to hire the physically strongest people in the group. How might he select employees?

I'm guessing the average employer's first approximation would be to select the men in the group. He does so because he surmises that sex is highly correlated with physical strength. Of course, some of the women in the group could be just as strong, or stronger, than the men, but the employer is playing the odds.
He then goes on to discuss under what circumstances an employer might decide on an approach more nuanced than "Boys are stronger than girls. Me hire boys!" First of all he notes that time is money, and so investing in a more rigorous process is an expense for the employer. Actually finding out how strong everybody is takes more effort than just hiring the males. So why would an employer expend that effort? Well he might see some value in finding the best candidates, or the government might force him too. He also suggests that women who want to work as ship unloaders might be willing to work for less money - in that sense they are a bargain, and this might inspire the employer to hire them.

Of course it is one thing for Mr. Williams to say that Men are, on the whole, physically stronger than women. It would be another for employer X to say that Blacks are just not as smart as whites, or Asians just don't have what it takes to be good sales people, or Hispanics just don't have a solid work ethic and so can't be trusted with serious work. But William's logic works just as well in those situations as well, doesn't it?

"Look I'm sorry Mr. Jaurez, but I just don't have a good track record with Hispanics and I'm not interested in taking a chance on you - maybe if you were willing to do the job for 75% of what I'd pay a white guy I'd be interested. But until then, I'm just not."

He then concludes with this justification of his constant support for racism and prejudice.
A few readers, in response to my discrimination discussion, said that my argument justifies the racial segregation of the past. To explain phenomena is not the same as justifying phenomena. You could fall off the roof of a tall building. I explain that your death is a result of the forces of gravity that caused you to accelerate at 32 feet per second and the sudden deceleration when you hit the ground. Wouldn't it be silly if someone accused me of trying to justify gravity and your death?
This is almost as silly as his tiger example. The fact of the matter is that the damage caused to ethnic minorities, women, and others is avoidable, but you argue strongly against any attempts to fix the problem. If people are tripping and falling off of high places, we eventually put up a fence to keep them safe (well, safer). But if people are choosing to exclude some races or religions or genders from a seat at the table, Williams argues that is their right.

Or to put it another way, I can't blame you for describing how the phenomenon grinds people up. I can blame you for your consistent arguments against keeping the phenomenon from grinding people up.

If only everybody were White, Male, Straight, and, preferably, Upper Middle Class

Or at least that is the theory of a new book about how awful we liberals are, excepted at Townhall today. The book is called "How The Left Was Won: An In-Depth Analysis of the Tools and Methodologies Used by Liberals to Undermine Society and Disrupt the Social Order" and it's by Richard Mgrdechian, who chose to sneer in his photo at Townhall. Always a good choice. Here's the section.
Liberals should thank God every day for differences between people because without them, liberalism would be dead in the water. Without them, the country might have some stability. Without them, it might have a chance to survive. Without them, the problems between those who want and those who have might actually be manageable in some meaningful or productive way.
Ok, first of all poindexter, if everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other. But also if everybody looked the same the problems between those who want and those who have wouldn't exist, remember?

While we are at it, those who want? How about those who need? I know it's fashionable for you Conservatoids to pretend that the poor are basically fine, but greedy, but come on.

Also I'm not sure the fact that there are differences are what is keeping this country from surviving. I'm pretty damn sure that Liberals aren't the only ones out there exploiting differences. Conservatives do it almost as much, just from the other side of the fence. Literally, in some cases.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And a Goblin shall point the way

Random Goblin noted in a comment to my previous post that Patrick Buchannens latest article has the distinctive odor of sanity about it. It's pretty well done too. He starts with a quote from Winston Churchill ("To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."), a nearly unimpeachable source, given how often President Bush compares himself to him. He then reviews the case for and against invading Iran and comes down squarely against an invasion. Or at least invading before we've hashed out all the details.
Today, Republicans and Democrats are competing in calling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a Hitler who will complete the Holocaust, a terrorist with whom we cannot deal. But the Iran he leads has not started a war since its revolution, 27 years ago, and knows that if it attacked America, it will invite annihilation as a nation.

Bismarck called pre-emptive war committing suicide out of fear of death -- not a bad description of what we did in invading Iraq.

Today, President Bush does not have the constitutional authority to launch pre-emptive war. Congress should remind him of that, and demand that he come to them to make the case and get a declaration of war, before he undertakes yet another war -- on Iran.
Reader reaction to this declaration seems mixed. Some believe that Bucchanan is right, that we shouldn't invade right off. Others believe Buchannan is a bit off the mark, like Maudrid.
Translation of Pat's Article:

"Let Iran go nuclear, let it go unchecked at its underground enrichment labs, let it stock up and point Shahab 5 missles at Israel, let it develop what it wants because I hate Israel and hate Jews, let Iran develop what it wants while it openly displays its intent to destroy's no skin off my teeth."

Pat's soft on Islamofascism. He writes about the Islamocization of Western values in Europe but doesn't care if Iran goes nuclear while wearing its intentions on its sleeve.

Choke on your vomit, Pat.
Nice. At any rate, it's clear that Bush doesn't even have total conservative support for an invasion of Iran; I don't see how he's going to get it either.

Anyway thanks to Random Goblin - and go check out his site - he'a been quite good lately. Well he's usually good - but even better than normal this last bit.

Why We Can't Trust Republicans on National Security, Part 5 Section D

Just reading David Limbaugh's latest article, and it underlines how the Conservative viewpoint is a hindrance in understanding the world around us. They fail to grasp even basic human nature, preferring to believe Muslims to be Manichean Robots, controlled by irrational passions and not influenced in the slightest by events around them.
Surely you've heard the line many times before: President Bush diverted resources from capturing Osama bin Laden -- the only terrorist chieftain in the non-global war on terror -- to pursue his recklessly quixotic vendetta against Iraq. This unprovoked, preemptive strike on the non-threatening Saddam has caused Muslims the world over to hate us and swelled the ranks of terrorism.

When will these tone-deaf people get it through their heads that Islamic extremists have hated us since before the flood (figuratively, of course)? When will they comprehend that Osama attacked us before we attacked Iraq?
The assumption here is really quite astounding. Every Muslim who is a terrorist has been a terrorist forever and will be a terrorist forever. Every Innocent Muslim (assuming Limbaugh assumes the existence of such a creature) has been an Innocent Muslim forever and will be forever. Good people stay good. Bad people stay bad.

That doesn't correspond to my observations on human nature. Humans are constantly being pushed one way or another. Muslim humans are seeing the example of an America that invaded a country that was no threat to it, tortured innocent Iraqi civilians, killed Iraqi civilians, and seems poised to invade the rest of the middle east as well. In that climate the arguments of Islamic Terrorists take on more plausibility. Why doesn't David Limbaugh understand this?

Because he chooses not to. Because he would rather see Muslims as irrational creatures, completely different from himself. That is more palatable than admitting that Muslims are humans the same as he is. Kind of sad when you think about it.

But Pity for Mr. Limbaugh's condition (one he shares with many Conservatoids) shouldn't blind us to the kinds of errors and disasters his blindness would lead us into.

New Story

For those interested, I have posteed a story over at The Practical Press - kind of a modern fantasy starring Jean Louis Crowley who posted at this site briefly.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sharks and Defense Lawyers

I don't know how many of you caught Shark, the new show staring James Woods as a defense lawyer who decides to change sides. It's pretty much exactly what it says on the tin - a new lawyer show starring James Woods. Nothing wrong with that. Except for what it says about our justice system.

The storyline is this - Shark helps a wife-beater beat an attempted Murder charge, so he immediately murders his wife. This upsets Shark. So he gets depressed and lays around his house, until the Mayor of LA gives him a chance to work as a prosecution lawyer, who are, as we know, the good guys. Defense lawyers bad, criminal lawyers good. Trying to keep people out of jail bad, trying to put people into jail good. Simple.

It wasn't always that way. Perry Mason was a defense attorney. Ben Matlock was a defense attorney. When they were created, it was still believed that an officer of the court was an officer of justice, even if he represented an accused person. But we live in more combative times now. Just as the Republicans and Democrats can't conceive of a loyal opposition, our society cant conceive of Defense Lawyers as being anything but low-down snakes.

Shark is hardly the only program with this mentality, of course. 24 has it in spades (Jack is never wrong in who he tortures). So do most cop shows (where the villainous Defense attorney is practically a stock in trade). And David E. Kelly's various lawyer shows about quirky lawyers who obviously don't give a damn probably hasn't helped any. Serious lawyers put criminals away, kooky or depraved lawyers defend criminals.

In this world, the innocent have nothing to fear - because they will never be trapped in the jaws of justice.

I need hardly point out that this mentality is bang up along side the power President Bush and his allies want to have over their citizens.

For another view of Shark, you can check out this review at PopMatters, that is more or less dead on.

Kind of Sad

After 6 years of President Bush and a Republican Congress, they've decided that their strong suit is apparently bashing President Clinton. Who's been out of office for 5 and a half years.

That's what they are good at.

So that's what they are doing - first the Path to 9/11 and now this ambush interview on the Fox Network. Limbaugh did a good two hours on Clinton today - and I suspect he's not done.

And they complain that Democrats do't have any new ideas.

Unlikely Voters and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

And this will be the last post on this subject for today.

One of the conceits of a Nader or, really, any candidate who doesn't have much of a chance of winning is that the voters who will put their guy in office are the unlikely voters, those people who have been turned off of the political process. The right kind of candidate could reach those people and pull them into the political process, where they would happily vote for the honest guy who really cares about them. This is all hypothetical and, in some cases, wishful thinking.

It's even more so when you apply it to Television.

Some people would like to believe that if you put on quality TV people who normally don't turn on their TVs will come a-runnin. There are two flaws with this theory. One is that there was plenty of quality TV before Studio 60 on the Air showed up. I admit Sketch Comedy hasn't been doing all that well lately, but a lot of other quite funny and entertaining and quality shows have showed up. Some of them make it - 24 for example, or The West Wing. Some of them don't, like Arrested development. But to say there's nothing good on is just not true.

I suspect it's never really been true. There have been good shows and bad shows at all times and places. When Shakespeare was putting on his plays he had to compete with Bear Baiting. Do we remember Shakespeare or do we remember the Bear Baiting?

Secondly, I think the sort of people you are imagining you can pull in with a Studio 60 probably are watching more TV than you think they are. And in some cases some real crap shows. Because intellectual snobs and discriminiting college kids want the same thing out of TV that everybody else wants. A little bit of comfort, a little bit of entertainment and a little bit of familiarity. That's why a guy who decries television as an intellectual wasteland will seek out old episodes of Hong Kong Phoey - it gives him what he wants.

That said, I don't think the future is entirely bleak for Studio 60 - it does have a precedent that neither Sports Night, nor the West Wing had - he's made it work. The West Wing made it, and people watched it, and got used to the way Sorkin writes. They aren't walking into this thing blind. And people who enjoyed the West Wing might well enjoy this new show, precisely because it tickles a nerve they want tickled. They are familiar with Sorkin now; they speak his language. So I hope that enough of those people will tune in and give Studio 60 a nice long run.

More Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or How To Tell When Someone is BSing You or Winds light to Variable

First of all, Television Without Pity's recap of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is up, and while it's not brilliantly insightful (like Jacob's reviews of Battlestar Galactica (see here, for example), or hilariously funny (like Key Grips reviews of Boston Public (see here, for example), it's enjoyable and has some insights.

Truthfully I think there's a bit of timidity towards Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip that is readily explainable. The show's smart, has good characters, moves fast, and is on NBC. So you have to assume it doesn't have much of a chance. Because people don't want smart - they usually want familiar. Why do you think there are three Law and Orders and two CSIs (one of which, CSI Miami, knocked Studio 60 on the Air out of the water)?

On the other hand, TV critics are inclined to like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for exactly the same reasons TV viewers aren't as likely to cotton to it. TV critics like seeing new things, they like seeing snappy fast dialogue, they want to be challenged by their TV. I mean given the choice between reviewing "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Here's another wacky family" what would you want to review?

On the other hand they don't want to get burned. They don't want to praise another show that NBC pulls the plug on halfway through the season. Which brings us to the second number in today's seminar. Let's give a nice big heading.

How To Tell When Someone is BSing You

One way is when they take a longer time than they should to get across a simple point. If they take 20 words to say something they could say in 3 words, it means they are hoping to shade and color and soften what they are saying out of existence.

Heather Havrilesky, writing for Salon, has a very simple thesis for her review of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Put simply it's "Who gives a crap about TV writers? It's not like they are doing something important." She's got a point.
The trouble is that, when Danny and Matt stop to gaze around the set of their new show, and the camera circles them dramatically like it's the last scene of Werner Herzog's classic film "Aguirre: The Wrath of God," at least one or two cells in our bodies can't help but rebel against the pomp and circumstance of the moment. It feels wrong, somehow, to romanticize TV writers this much, however talented and witty they might be. Meet a few TV writers and you'll see what I mean. It's not that they're bad people -- many of them are charming and smart and extremely friendly -- but they're richer than God, yet they always seem to be jealous of someone who's even richer and more successful than they are. Plus, even the ones who write for really crappy shows, shows that they should pay a tax for inflicting on the human populace, talk about their bad shows like they're saving the free world.
Like I say, it's not like this isn't a valid criticism.

On the other hand, this problem is built into the foundation of the show, isn't it? I mean complaining that we shouldn't be glorifying TV writers is the same as saying Aaron Sorkin shouldn't be writing this show - this particular show shouldn't exist. She makes it clear she'd be happy about a show that was really going to stick the knife into TV writers and make them out to be the full of themselves bastards they are. And presumably she'd be fine with Sorkin writing a show about a place where the people who are full of themselves work someplace important (like, say, the West Wing). So basically, no matter how skillfully this show is written, directed and acted, she would rather that energy and skill go somewhere else.

Fair enough. I don't agree with Havrilesky, but she's entitled to her opinion. So where does the BS come in? Why does she have to spend three pages on an idea she could comfortably cover on a page and a half (leaving room for one of the many other new shows)? Two possible reasons.

The first is that Havrilesky, like most TV editors, know that the odds aren't in favor of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. So she, like many others, are hedging their bets. While they would like to see four or five seasons of this show, they know their readers might not, and they want to make that the shows fault as much as the readers/viewers. Or to put it another way, some people who write about TV must be tired of telling the public they are stupid for not watching X. And I'm pretty damn sure TV viewers are tired of being told that their failure to save Sports Night or Arrested Development or some other program is indicative of the fact that people who watch TV are stupid. So rather than putting the blame for quality programs failing on the shoulders of those who failed to watch them, both people who write about TV and viewers would like to read about how it's the creative peoples fault. Studio 60's possible failure isn't indicative of an America that doesn't like smart TV; Aaron Sorkin just picked a crap subject, out of vanity.

Secondly Havrilesky clearly resents TV writers, but doesn't want that to be the reason for her disdain for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She doesn't want to say "I don't like TV writers so I don't want to watch a show in which they aren't castigated." It's worth noting that out of the eight principle characters - one is a TV writer. The other seven are two Network Executives, a director, a control room person, and three comedic actors. So maybe the cats out of the bag on Havrilesky's personal biases. The question is whether the rest of America shares her biases.

Hard to know - even if Studio 60 fails, does that prove that people don't like shows about TV writers? Or does it prove that Sorkin's writing style doesn't connect? Or does it prove that CSI Miami is an unstoppable juggernaut of doom, and NBC has no guts?

I have more to say on this subject, but this post is already too long, so I'll cut it here and come back later with more.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Logo, New Quote!!!

Hi all - hope you are all doing great!!!

Hope your weekends are going great! : )

Friday, September 22, 2006

Round the Horn. An Irwin J. McIckleson Production

Greetings all. My name is Irwin J. McIckleson, and I am a fictional 1910's plutocrat. I have been given the assignment to provide a review of various future websites, in exchange for which, I receive a window into the future that I can exploit to bring some of your future inventions back to my time. Specifically I have discovered Pan-Asian Cuisine and Velcro. Velcro surprised me - I thought you future people would be doing it all by magnets.

Why aren't you doing it with magnets?

Anyway let's get to work.

Musing's musings has
some thoughts on a bill that just passed which apparently deals with the possibility of torturing people you detain in your war on terror. I have to say that seems to contradict the values of America. In the last war, we all hated the Hun but we wouldn't have tortured him. Just killed him.

other thoughts on this issue, suggesting that Senator McCain, who is supporting this bill, may not be a pillar of integrity.

Liberty Street has
further thoughts on this torture bill - apparently there is some question about which techniques it allows for and which it does not. He also has a description of torture, which seems quite unpleasant.

Pen-Elayne on the Web has
further commentary on a recent meeting of bloggers and the intersection of race and bloggers.

Rooks Rant has
the news that over 1,100 expensive electronic devices have been lost by the United States Commerce department. I think I would be firing everything in sight if that happened around here - it would be like the great warding of 16 when I got in such a frenzy I ended up destroying the city of Clarksville.

You future people don't expect very much out of your government.

A Blog Around The Clock wishes a
happy birthday to H.G. Wells who is dead in your future time.

rubber hose
has thoughts on a radio commentator named Limbaugh who is upset at the prayers of a Persian religious leader, who spoke in the United States recently.

Sooner Thought
has thoughts on a future plutocrat who is pumping some of his enormous wealth into an attempt to fight global warming. Smart move - it's hard to exploit your employees if they are always keeling over from heat exhaustion.

Scrutiny Hooligans has
some thoughts on the value of protest music. One of my employees wrote a song about me once "The Tyrant on the Hill." I had him sing it at the company Christmas party - and then fired him, and kicked him out the party. I was in a bad mood.

Speed Kill has some thoughts on how adherents of the religion of Islam do not understand Irony. I will note that this is a characteristic of religious people in general, I have noted.

And that is all I have time for this week. Have a pleasant weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

It's not going to be a very good show tonight.

I think you should change the channel, change the channel right now or better yet turn off the TV. Now, I know it seems like this is supposed to be funny, but, uh, tomorrow you're gonna find out that it wasn't and by that time I'll have been fired.

No, this is not a sketch.

This show used to be cutting edge political and social sketches, but it's gotten lobotomized by a candy ass broadcast network. Hellbent on doing nothing that might challenge their audience. We're about to do a sketch that everyone's seen like 500 times. No, no one's gonna confuse George Bush and George Plimpton, yeah we get it. We're all being lobotomized by this countries most influential industry. It just throws in the towel on any endeavor to do anything that doesn't involve the courting of 12 year old boys. Not even the smart 12 year olds, the stupid ones, the idiots of which there are plenty thanks to no small mention of this network. So why don't you just change the channel? Turn off the TV do it right now.

The struggle between art and commerce. Well, there's always been a struggle between art and commerce and now I'm telling you art is getting it's ass kicked and it's making us mean and it's making us bitchy. It's making us cheap punks and that's not who we are!

People are having contests to see how much they can be like Donald Trump. We're eating worms for money. "Who wants to screw my sister." Guys are getting killed in a war that has theme music and a logo. Using both your hands as a crack pipe, oh yeah sure every once in a while we pretend to be appalled.

Pornographers! It's not even good pornography. It's just a side of snuff films and friends that's what's next because that's all there is left. And the two things that make them scared gutless of the FCC is and every psycho religious cult that gets positively horny at the mention of a boycott.
I don't know how many of you watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, on Monday. It's Aaron Sorkin's new show, and it's very good. As most of you know the show starts with the Director (Wes Mende) of the fictional Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (a bit like Saturday Night Live, now that I think of it), getting told that he has to cut a sketch that we later find out is called "Crazy Christians." A sketch, we are also told, is hilarious. We do not get to see such a sketch, because Aaron Sorkin wisely realizes it would have to be brilliant. And by setting the bar so high, well, better off not showing it.

Anyway Mendel gets angry and goes up on stage and cusses out the world, using the words above.

I suspected that Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center would have commentary on this issue, and I was correct. And as I suspected his commentary is full of the standard distortions and pathetic lies.

He frames it around the basic idea that Sorkin is pissed that Christians criticize Television, while he, Sorkin, is perfectly willing to criticize Christians. This is of course nonsense on a couple of levels. The types of Christians Sorkin is commenting, like Bozell's Media Research Center, are clearly not interested in simply criticizing media. Rather, thru the boycott and other pressures, they try to eliminate media that offends them.

There's a clear difference between saying "You shouldn't have said that" and saying "you shouldn't have been allowed to say that" or "you should be punished for saying that." Brent Bozell tends to say the later two, but doesn't want to admit it.

He also makes this nonsensical aside. "The show begins with an improbable "standards and practices" censor telling the producer of the fictional "SNL" that he can't run "Crazy Christians". . . " Again Bozell can't admit that such Standards and Practices people exist because it would expose the game. But they do exist - listen to the commentaries on Simpsons or Futurama or Family Guy and you will here them referenced again and again. Artists want to push the boundaries.

He describes Sorkin as anti-Religious people. Sorking clearly isn't fond of the Dominionists, and takes shots at them regularly (and has everytime he gets a TV show). But if you see episodes like "The Local Weather" from Sports Nights or "Two Cathedrals" and "Shibboleth" from the West Wing, you can see that Sorkin has, if not much respect for religion, certainly plenty for religious people.

Finally, if you ignore the Crazy Christians bit, aren't most of Mendel's complaints exactly the same as many Christians? I mean aren't Christians upset that TV has gotten so mean and cheap? Aren't they upset about reality shows that degrade us? Aren't they concerned that TV is becoming Pornography? In other words, shouldn't there be some common ground here?

But if people found commen ground I suppose there wouldn't be as much work for people like Brent Bozell who make their money dividing us.

The United Nations

There certainly is plenty of red meat out there this week for the Republican faithful. Both Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Chavez spoke at the United Nations, and Chavez's speech in particular was a passionate attack on President Bush (whom he called the devil). So you have lesser countries annoying the United States at the United Nations? Yeah that's a nice nexus if you are a conservative columnist.

This is the subject of Matt Towery's latest article - in which he explicitly argues that the United States should quit the United Nations. We aren't getting anything out of it, and continuing to be a member of it only legitimizes the people who are running it (one of which is the United States, of course, but let that slide).
But when we've finally reached the point that a room full of international freeloaders are applauding wildly as our president is called the Devil and our demise is predicted, then it's time to seriously reassess whom we want to deal with, in what manner and in what international forum.
He proposes a new coalition - presumably something like the coalition of the willing. In fairness he seems to be a bit of an isolationist, so he probably doesn't see the need for as much international cooperation as a Bush policy of invading the crap out of everything would.

But I don't think the United States is a quitting nation. While the United Nations has problems (and Chavez really did go to far), I don't think we are going to walk away from it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Aiding and Abetting

Carol Platt Liebau's latest article accuses Senator McCain (and others) of aiding and abetting the enemies of freedom, i.e. Democrats and Terrorists.
Certainly, it would be wrong for the United States to condone behavior that routinely transgresses the boundaries of humanity and the traditions of civilized warfare. But those who would tie America’s hands likewise must understand that it’s unconscionable to place the lives of their fellow citizens at risk because of their own moral vanity, excessive concern about world opinion, or unrealistic hopes about how our treatment of detainees will impact terrorist behavior. It’s time for Senators McCain, Graham and Warner to demonstrate that they care as much about the safety and security of everyday Americans as they do about the “dignity” of terrorist detainees.
I think it's clear that Conservative Punditry would like to see McCain not run for President in 2008. They are likely to be dissapointed in this desire. But I do encourage Conservative Punditry to continue fighting for torture - it really does put their ideals on display for us all to see.


Walter E. Williams is recycling a column he wrote about 4 years ago. I was out visiting my brother that thanksgiving weekend, and picked this story to write on (because it was kind of a no-brainer to comment on and I was on vacation). Here's a bit from this weeks column.
Imagine heading off to work, you open your front door, only to be greeted by a full-grown tiger. The uninteresting prediction is the average person would slam the door or otherwise seek safety.

Why they do so is more interesting. It's unlikely that person's decision is based on any detailed information held about that particular tiger. More likely his decision is based on tiger folklore or how he's seen other tigers behave. He prejudges, or stereotypes, that tiger.

If a person didn't pre-judge tigers, he would seek more information prior to his decision. He might attempt to pet the tiger, talk to him and seek safety only if the tiger responded in a menacing fashion. The average person wouldn't choose that path, surmising that the expected cost of getting more information about the tiger is greater than the expected benefit and concluding, "All I need to know is he's a tiger, and he's probably like the rest of them." By observing this person's behavior, there's no way one can say unambiguously whether the person likes or dislikes tigers.
Once again we have the embarrassing prospect of a black man shilling for racism. If you want to think blacks are more dangerous than whites, go right ahead. Apparently.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Implications of the Muslim Menace

As regular readers know, Cal Thomas argues regularly to convince others of what I call "the Muslim Menace." In other words, rather than being at war with a relitively few Islamic Terrorists, we are at war with the Muslim War, a specifically religious war, which we must win or be destroyed. Usually he stops right about there, before actually giving many suggestions on how we defeat the hated Muslim. Which makes sense, of course. He wants to gin up hate, but doesn't want to be responsible for any actions that hate might lead to.

His latest article is about the naive and stupid people who fail to recognize us as being at war with the Muslim World. He savages Ed Rendell - a former general chair of the DNC - for suggesting our presense in Iraq might not be beneficial. He then savages John McCain, who will be presumably running for the presidency.
Several Republicans last week exhibited a similar deficiency in wisdom. John McCain, Arizona Republican senator, may have severely hurt his chances for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination by suggesting the United States should be bound by the Geneva Conventions in dealing with stateless terrorists determined to murder civilians. Murdering civilians is condemned by those same Conventions, but the jihadists are not persuaded to conform to these treaties.
This is a wierd argument - the fact that somebody else breaks the law does not give you the right to break the law. Islamic terrorists are murderous bastards, but the solution isn't for the United States to become a nation of murderous bastards. Is it?

He ends with this class based arguement.
It's easy for the elites to talk warm and fuzzy, as if being nice to killers can persuade them to be nice to us. That's because most of the elites have escape routes or bunkers in which they can hide during a future attack. The rest of us are on our own. We should not have to pay for their naivete.
What total nonsense. I for one don't have a bunker. I suspect many of the people who oppose Cal Thomas's particular brand of insanity don't have bunkers. It's well known that the places most likely to be hit by terrorist attacks, our major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and so on, are not filled with this type of madness. Rather to find people who loudly agree with smashing Islam, you often need to go to places that frankly aren't high on the terrorists attack list.

The Rove Question

How worried should we Democrats be about our buddy Karl Rove? Clearly he has some talent, but does he really warrent us discussing him in hushed whispers? Walter Shapiro, writing on several books that relate (in some cases tangentially) to Mr. Rove says no.
Fixated on the Cult of Karl, hagiographers, like the authors of "The Architect," constantly miss all the ways that Rove's gambits end up doing little more than mobilizing the Democrats in opposition. Moore and Slater lavish considerable attention on Rove's fantasy of wiping out the fundraising basis of the Democratic Party by crippling unions and trial lawyers and wooing wealthy Jewish donors with the administration's pro-Israel tilt in the Middle East. There is even a hint of anti-Semitism when the authors trot out the odious dual-loyalty charge: "A president who'd famously bragged that he didn't read newspapers or deeply study policy had surrounded himself with advisors whose interest in Israel's sovereignty and safety might have outweighed their concern for the United States."

Rove, in his efforts to defund the Democrats, apparently forgot about the law of unintended consequences. Bush's conspicuous efforts to pander to his social conservative supporters prompted a fundraising backlash from partisan Democrats. As Edsall writes in discussing the financing of the 2004 campaign, "[John] Kerry not only came within striking distance of Bush, but he also tapped into the small donor universe to a degree that had never been even approximated on the Democratic side of the aisle." This year, although Internet-based small giving is apparently down, the Democrats are in surprisingly strong shape for a party that reaps none of the obvious rewards from controlling Congress or the White House. All this prompts the obvious question: If Rove is so smart, why are the Democrats so comparatively rich?
I think Rove is a great media creation, and he has some skills. But mostly he's been lucky, as Shapiro points out. Lucky that Gore ran a crap campaign, lucky that the Media waged a 2 year war against Gore, lucky (if you can call it that) that September 11th happened, and so on and so forth.

I don't think his luck will hold forever

On to Victory

Jonah Goldberg's latest article is an interesting concession. He concedes that Republicans hold on Congress and the White House hasn't been all that great for conservatiivism.
The rub of it, from a conservative perspective, is that Republican control of the House doesn't equal conservative control. It may not seem that way to liberals who think Joe Lieberman is right wing, but from the vantage point of the conservative movement, GOP dominance has been an enormous disappointment - good judicial appointments and tax cuts notwithstanding. Our hopeful joy upon the 1994 takeover of Congress was like finding a new pony by the Christmas tree. Now it's more like finding it slumped over dead on top of the presents.
He also believes that watching the Democrats take over might be beneficial in the long run.
. . . as a matter of rank partisanship, letting the Democrats run wild could be good for both the GOP and conservatives, as my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru recently pointed out in the New York Times. If you think Americans are itching for change now, wait until they break into hives after two more years of Republican monopoly on power.

But a Pelosi-run House could so horrify voters that it would probably prepare the soil for a Republican presidential candidate in 2008. Pelosi is, if anything, a moderate in the Democratic caucus, but she is indisputably far to the left of the American center, in part because she and her colleagues mistake angry bloggers for the mainstream. Letting voters see this crowd try to have its way for two years would only help the GOP in the far more important 2008 election.
It's nice to believe your political opponents are going to automatically fail the moment they take power. Don't know if such a belief reflects reality, however. We'll find out, I hope.

Monday, September 18, 2006

How to Get Ahead in Iraq without really Trying

It turns out there's a secret path to success - be a Bush Lovin' Republican, according to an article at the Washington Post.
To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.
Isn't that nice? Kind of a pity that this bold experiment in ideological governance hasn't paid quite the dividends President Bush would like to see.

Lifted this from Salon's War Room.

An Explanation

In reference to a post yesterday, I do think this blog will change after my 4th year anniversary - probably take a week off and start a new blog (probably called Stupid Enough Unexplanation or legal daisy spacing or rational hypocrisy or No, Frankenstein! No! I'm still debating.) On the other hand, I might just soldier on another year with this blog.

it's my wife and it's my life

Apparently Afghanistan, the country we liberated before we liberated Iraq, has a great bumper crop, according to Robert Scheer's latest article. Heroin.
The good news, for drug fiends, is that Afghanistan has just harvested its biggest opium crop ever, up a whopping 59 percent from last year and big enough to cover 130 percent of the entire world market. The street price for illegal heroin, 92 percent of which now comes from Afghanistan, should be way down from Bangkok to London, and for those shooting up in the back alleys of Chicago. The bad news, for the rest of us, is that in Bush-liberated Afghanistan, billions in drug profits are financing the Taliban.

Remember them, the guys who harbored the al-Qaida terrorists, who gifted us with the 9-11 attacks five years ago, that President Bush promised to eliminate? Well, it turns out that while he was distracted with Iraq, the patrons of terrorism were very much in business back where the 9-11 attack was hatched, turning Afghanistan into a narco-state that provides a lucrative source of cash for the "evildoers" Bush forgot about.
Nice to see people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

Which question do you want to answer?

Supposedly you can beat any lie detector by simply rewriting any question you can't answer in your head to one that you can answer. That's what the Republican party is trying to do going into the 2006 elections. The Democrats want people to ask "Had enough?" referencing the Iraq war, Katrina and other Bush debacles. The Republican question is "Do you want to get blowed up?" which apparently favors them, at least according to Michael Barone's latest article.
And it's a rule that he and Bush -- and events -- have put into operation over the last few weeks. For months, the central issue of the off-year election has been, Hasn't Bush kept us too long in Iraq? Now, the issue seems to have become, Who can keep us safe against the Islamofascist terrorists who want to kill us and destroy our society?

The first question tends to help the Democrats. The second tends to help Bush and the Republicans.
The answer to this is to tie our troubles in Iraq back too the Global War on Terror. Has invading Iraq made us safer from the terrorists? To paraphrase Joshua Micah Marshall, is there anybody who, upon hearing of the foiled London bomb plot, thought "Thank goodness we invaded Iraq"?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Way the World Works

Here's a fundemental rule of the universe; if you fail you probably deserve to fail. You aren't smart enough or strong enough or persistent enough or good enough to succeed. If you were good enough or talented enough or creative enough, you would not have failed. There really is always room at the top - if you aren't at the top, you probably suck.

This blog is a failure.

This won't come as surprise to most of you, obviously. But it was underlined by a recent post at Firedoglake by Kenneth Quinnel who writes T. Rex's Guide to Life (and just to keep those link's coming, I was directed to it by this post by Pen Elayne on the Web, who had some reactions of her own). Edited to correct: this was not in fact Kenneth Quinnel's post, it was another guy named David Fergusons. I apologize for this mistake, but both go by the moniker of TRex. You should still go check out T. Rex's guide to life though.

Short background. Someone named Liza wrote a post about how she was not invited to a blog gathering at which the Big Dog (President Clinton) was present. She chalked that up to the fact that she is non white and non male. Quinnel took umbrage at this and wrote the following.
It seems she is forever bitching that Atrios, Kos, et al never link to her and she hangs the blame for this on the fact that she’s a woman. Whereas, everyone I spoke with assured me that if she would actually WRITE SOMETHING PEOPLE WANTED TO READ, they’d be more than happy to send her some traffic. It’s so much easier, though, to invent conspiracies and wail about The Man rather than accepting that she’s just not a very good writer and kind of a muddled thinker.
I don't spend a lot of time bitching about the lack of links I get from the big names in the field. Almost all of my traffic comes from my consistent posting at Democratic Underground. That said, I don't get links from any of the big dogs in the blogging world. I get links from Pen-Elayne on the Web and Bark Bark Woof Woof, for which I am grateful, but that is due to my membership in the Liberal Coalition, and not due to any specific talent on my part.

So following Quinnels logic I am left to conclude that I am just "not a very good writer and kind of a muddled thinker." If I weren't, one presumes I would be getting links from my betters.

I don't know what the implications of that are - I am approaching the 4th anniversary of this blog (10-28-06), and it might be time for some second thoughts.

New Format, New Quote!!!

Hi all! Another week and another update.

Hope you are all having a great weekend. : )

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Presumed Guilty

Republicans don't like our judicial system. They have been banging on about "tort" reform for a couple of years now, which largely means "corporations shouldn't have to pay when they screw up." They are also, in a reversal, very upset that criminals don't get punished enough. So if you are a white guy in a suit who poisons hundreds, Conservatives want to protect your rights. If you are a black guy who deals dope, they want to lock you up and throw away the key.

Burt Prelutsky feels like the guilty don't even think criminals deserve much of a trial.
Although I understand that our legal system is based on the presumption of innocence and the notion that every person, however vile his history, is entitled to the best defense his money can buy, I can’t help believing that he wouldn’t be in hot water if he hadn’t committed the crime.
Why bother with trials at all, if you are so sure that everybody on trial is guilty?

What is the greater crime, punishing an innocent man or letting a guilty man go free?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cal Thomas Giveth and Cal Thomes Taketh Away

In his latest article, Cal Thomas talks about how some Republicans and Democrats see the Clinton and Bush presidencies, respectively.
Make your selection: President Bush needlessly took us into an unwinnable war in Iraq based on false intelligence, which he later hyped as trustworthy, leading to the deaths (as of Sept. 8) of 2,656 service members and the maiming of many thousands more; or, President Clinton was so preoccupied with his groin, politics and legacy that it prevented him from adequately responding to the growing terrorist challenge on his watch, leading to the slaughter of nearly 3,000 Americans five years ago.

. . . Neither position is completely credible, yet there are people on both sides who embrace these beliefs. That is because the object of modern politics is not to say and do things that benefit the country and promote the general welfare but to gain or maintain political power. Gaining power, including the means to getting it, is all that matters.
Two points - there is obviously a difference between saying that Bush knew Saddam was no threat and fixing the information so we would invade anyway and saying that Bush believed Saddam was a threat and so ignored or minimized any conflicting information. But both courses show a lack of judgement.

Secondly, if the Republicans give up Clinton Bashing (which seems unlikely) they are really giving up very little. That may change in 2008 (if Hilary runs for President) but for right now, their Clinton Bashing gives them very little. Bush criticisms on the other hand are crucial to winning back power, because we have to convince people that the people who are in power right now shouldn't be. Simple.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Non Partisan Speech

Thursday - "I'm the President, we must defeat the terrorists, the American people must unite behind me and the Democratic Party needs to be behind me or they are appeasers"

Friday - "I'm the President, we must defeat the terrorists, the American people must unite behind me and the Democratic Party needs to be behind me or they are appeasers"

Saturday - "I'm the President, we must defeat the terrorists, the American people must unite behind me and the Democratic Party needs to be behind me or they are appeasers"

Sunday - "I'm the President, we must defeat the terrorists, the American people must unite behind me and the Democratic Party needs to be behind me or they are appeasers"

Monday - "I'm the President, we must defeat the terrorists, and the American people must unite behind me."

In reference to the President's speech commemorating September 11, 2001, last night. For more commentary check out this post at Salon's War Room, and this article, also at Salon.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Top 16

I'm on the road tomorrow which is why there will be low posting today and very low posting tomorrow. As is my tradition I made a CD to listen to, the 5th in the Road is Where You Are series. The theme for this one is live cuts, which is why there are fewer of them.

Everything In It's Right Place (Live) - Radiohead
Cities (Live) - Talking Heads
London (Live) - The Smiths
Ballad of Easy Rider (Live) - The Byrds

Cooling (Live) - Tori Amos
Space Oddity (Live) - Nathalie Merchant
Disintigration (Live) - The Cure
Man of the Hour (Live) - Pearl Jam

You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies (Live Acoustic) - Simon and Garfunkle
Pocahontus (Live) - Neil Young
Bullet the Blue Sky (Live) - U2
She Just Wants to Be (Live) - REM

When Tomorrow Comes (Live Acoustic) - Eurythmics
Tangled up in Blue (Live) - Bob Dylan
The Soul Cages (Live Acoustic) - Sting
Warehouse (Live) - Dave Matthews Band

I will note that this version of Bullet the Blue Sky is from the Stay (Faraway, So Close!) soundtrack, and is from the Zoo TV tour.

Optimistic or pessimistic

As we close in on November the Conservative commentators face a dilemma. Certainly they would like to see the Republicans retain their majorities. But if they predict that the Republicans will retain their majorities and they don't, they look like chumps. On the other hand, if they predict Republican defeat, and the Republicans retain possession of the House and Senate, well that makes them look like chumps as well (and pessimistic chumps at that). So you have some conservative commentators painting the Democrats as dunderheads who nobody will vote for and some conservative commentators who are claiming that Republicans (and particularly President Bush) have screwed up enough that the game is over.

Well you can put Debra J. Saunders in the second camp, at least based on her latest article.
Two factors will work against Republicans trying to retain control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in November -- and they both have to do with the downside of being the party in power in Washington.

First, there's President Bush. I've covered politics long enough to have lived through this cycle before -- the scorn that insiders in both parties heap on a White House in its second term, when every mistake made by an administration has been magnified and dissected. . . .

Then, there is the GOP House, which clearly saw its leadership corrupted by power. The prosecution of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed unholy ties between K Street lobbyists and congressional staffers.
She does go on to note that the Democrats don't have anything positive to answer - not exactly true, but plenty of Conservatoids feel compelled to say it.

Donald Lambro takes the opposite tack; he believes that the Republicans can pull off victory by, well, doing what they are already doing.
Last week's speech, part of a series of speeches to remind Americans of the increasing threat terrorism poses to this country, demonstrated several things that will have an impact in the war on terror -- and on the midterm elections. It showed how the president, despite his political weakness in the polls, can use his bully pulpit to put the spotlight on an issue -- in this case, the war on terror -- that his critics have tried to play down and diminish, but on which he and his party still command their strongest approval ratings.
It is clear what the Bush Strategy is - all terror all the time, and hope that nobody asks too many questions about Iraq and how it fits into the War on Terror. This could be a effective tactic. But my sense is that they are pulling this out a little earlier than they should (of course this is somewhat mandated by their desire to tie into the fifth anniversary of 9/11), and that it could backfire by making this very specifically an election about President Bush.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Format, New Quote!!!


Hi all!!!

A new format and a new quote for you all. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The New Stalinism

I don't know whether or not the ABC movie has been tanked or not - there were rumors yesterday, notably in variety, that it was on the road to cancellation. I hope it is not cancelled. I don't think much of it - it strikes me as simple minded propaganda, but seeing it knocked off the air would not be good either morally or practically.

Practically it makes us the story instead of this simple minded propaganda. Take this example from Rush Limbaugh.
If you want to think about a conspiracy to deny the truth and to present a lie, take a look at the willing accomplices in the Democratic Party, the criminal justice system, and the Drive-By Media. And now you've got these Stalinists in the Democratic Party threatening ABC's broadcast licenses.
That's the story. I don't think it is accurate; but there it is.

I don't think the show will actually be cancelled, but we'll have to see.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Round the Horn. An Irwin J. McIckleson Production

Hi all. This is Irwin J. McIckleson, fictional 1910s Plutocrat, here to bring you a glance round the world wide web and the variety of websites out there.

The Countess has a post by the Count which features an Aeroplane. It seems very compact. Apparently it is supposed to be flown indoors. I think it could be very handy in my factories. If I see from my office that an employee is not living up to my requirements I could deliver his firing via minature aeroplane and never have to leave my office.

Dohiyi Mir has five questions he'd like to ask you. I can't be bothered to answer most of them, as I am a busy plutocrat, but I would like to comment that if I were a tree I would be a mighty Redwood.

First Draft has a review of the gaggle, which is apparently an interaction between the President's representative and the Press. It seems like the Press Secretary is not as good at dissembling as he thinks he is.

That's all I have chosen to do today, some important firings have come up, and lacking an airplane firing system I have to go and attend to them personally. Have an enjoyable weekend all.

Counter Offensive

This was pretty predictable, actually. After a few months of Democratic success, the Republicans are swinging back. They have decided that the best ground on which to fight Democrats is the War on Terror. Which is why President Bush is giving speech after speech on the War on Terror and possibly why this ABC movie is being shoved out. They want to change the momentum now; they need to. And that means they also need to recast Iraq as a success.

Enter David Limbaugh, the "smart" Limbaugh brother.
I wonder if Democrats are getting the slightest bit nervous about the news -- hot off the presses -- that Iraqi security forces are actually taking over primary control of defense operations in Iraq.

. . . Things can change weekly in the war, which is why it is risky for Democrats to put all their campaign eggs in the Iraq basket.

Actually, a more accurate metaphor would be that they have put no eggs in the war policy basket, but have been trying merely to destroy the eggs President Bush has placed in the basket. They are relying exclusively on deriding President Bush's policies, while conspicuously and defiantly offering no alternative policy agenda of their own.
We'll have to see whether or not these reports of Iraqi Security forces standing pan out or not - but certainly the American people have seen these sorts of reports before.

As for Democrats not having any eggs of their own - Limbaugh then admits that we do have some eggs - but they are far too general and so don't count. In other words he wants a detailed plan of exactly what we would do in 6 months time, when, as he notes, conditions on the grounds might change dramatically.

But then again we all know why he wants this "plan." He sees how much fun we Liberals are having picking apart President Bush's poor planning in the War on Terror and he wants to get in on the action.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Democrats Vs. Republicans

I realize I have somehow posted the same post twice - I'll fix it in a moment.

This is in response to Random Goblin's comments on a post I made yesterday, about the strains within the Republican party.
Could the Left have a lesson to learn from the foibles of the Right?
I don't know precisely what RG means here, but I will comment that in this particular area I don't think the two parties line up very well.

Since the 1970s and before the Republican Party has grown progressively more conservative so that now Conservativism is the official philosophy of the Republican Party. Conservativism is a relatively compact philosophy - smaller government, lower taxes, traditional values. Now obviously there are fractions who believe that smaller government is the key and others who believe that traditional values are essential, but the similarities are more important than the differences (usually).

On the Democratic side of the fence, on the other hand, we have liberalism as our philosophy. Modern American Liberalism is not a compact philosophy. And Liberalism has balkanized so as to include dozens of submovements. For example, Civil Rights for Blacks, Civil Rights for other Ethnic Minorities, Civil Rights for Homosexuals, Feminism and Woman's Rights, Environmentalism, Small Business, Labor Unions, Farmers, the Inner Cities, Consumer's Right Movements, the Aged, and so on and so forth. All of these different groups have different goals and different plans.

So when the Republican Party is fractured it's a bigger deal. They aren't supposed to fracture, whereas the Democrats are almost always fractured.

Or at least that's my take.

The Path to 9/11 - Conservatives don't have to worry

Apparently ABC and Disney are a little worried about a backlash arising from their hit piece on the Path to 9/11. But not to worry, they've already reassured Hugh Hewitt that he has nothing to worry about.
The Disney execs met all through the weekend - unheard of in this business - debating what changes would be made and what concessions should be given. Here is what looks to be the conclusion:

- There will be a handful of tweaks made to a few scenes.
- They are minor, and nuance in most cases - a line lift here, a tweak to the edit there.
- There are 900 screeners out there. When this airs this weekend, there will be a number of people who will spend their free evenings looking for these changes and will be hard pressed to identify them. They are that minor.
- The average viewer would not be able to tell the difference between the two versions.
- The message of the Clinton Admin failures remains fully intact.
Catch that last line?

It's nice that they are reassuring the Conservatives that this movie will paste President Clinton right against the mouth, while being unwilling to provide copies to President Clinton, Sandy Burger, or Madeleine Albright.

This from Think Progress, who have really been on top of this story.

I do intend to post on other subjects today - particularly an intriguing question from the mysterious but beneficent Random Goblin.

The Path to 9/11

This is the name of a docudrama coming to ABC to be showing on the 10th and the 11th, presumably to commemerate September 11th. The right wing is very pleased with it, as it lays the blame for September 11 right where it belongs (in their minds). Consider this passage from Hugh Hewitts latest article.
As a very accurate docudrama, "The Path to 9/11" has drawn the deep anger of the Clinton political machine. Representatives of that era have been demanding at a minimum edits and some outright cancellation of the program. Monica Lewinsky makes an appearance, you see, as does Bill Clinton's videotaped testimony about his perjury. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is portrayed as indecisive, Madeleine Albright as misdirected, George Tenet as sputtering.
And here's Brent Bozells take on this program.
Both Clinton and Bush officials come under fire, and if it seems more anti-Clinton, that's only because they were in office a lot longer than Team Bush before 9-11.
Brent Bozell doesn't show his cards as much as Hugh Hewitt. Obviously the program has to seem to be fair to be credible; otherwise it can be attacked as propaganda. Brent Bozell, being somewhat media savvy understands this. Hugh Hewitt doesn't. And Rush Limbaugh really doesn't.

The game plan in defending this movie is pretty straightforward though. Portray those who criticize the movie as a small clique of Clinton Loyalists, unwilling to allow their hero to be tarnished even slightly. Even though the movie takes shots at both the Bush's and the Clintons, Democrats aren't willing to shoulder their part of the blame.

That's not exactly the problem. The problem is that the movie distorts the Clinton Years. One key scene involves Sandy Berger receiving a call that Heroic and Manly CIA agents had Osama Bin Ladin in their sights and they requested the White House give them permission to open fire. The White House, personified by Sandy Berger, dithers and eventually fails to give permission to off Bin Ladin. Sheldon Rampton gives a more accurate version of what happened in an article at AlterNet.
The only problem with this "perfect example," which Murty praises because it "honestly depicts how the Clinton administration repeatedly bungled the capture of Osama Bin Laden," is that it didn't happen. In reality, it was CIA director George Tenet, not Berger, who called off the operation, which never got anywhere near "surrounding Bin Laden's house in Afghanistan." According to the 9/11 commision report on which the movie is supposedly based, Tenet told us that, given the recommendation of his chief operations officers, he alone had decided to "turn off" the operation. He had simply informed Berger, who had not pushed back. Berger's recollection was similar. He said the plan was never presented to the White House for a decision.

The CIA's senior management clearly did not think the plan would work. Tenet's deputy director of operations wrote to Berger a few weeks later that the CIA assessed the tribals' ability to capture Bin Ladin and deliver him to U.S. officials as low.
For another review of the Clinton record on fighting terrorism check out this article by William Pitt at Truthout.

It's also worth noting that the film has been screened for dozens of conservatives, down to such extremists as the gang at Frontpage Magazine. However when President Clinton requested a copy of the film, he was denied one. There's also the timing - they are showing a film which teaches that Republicans are better at understanding and fighting terrorists than Democrats pretty close to the election. Good timing, eh?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Mother of All Coalitions

Specifically, I'm talking about the coalition between the Religious Right and the Libertarian Right. Bruce Bartlett's latest article is about a book that suggests that this coalition is on the rocks.
The gist of the book is that the coalition of religious conservatives and libertarian free-marketeers is breaking apart. The basic principle that held them together throughout the postwar era -- the idea that morality and virtue need to be freely chosen to have meaning -- is breaking down. The traditionalists have gotten the upper hand and increasingly reject the idea of freedom when it comes to things like gay marriage, pornography, drugs and abortion.
He attributes this break down to the fact that Religious Conservatives now feel like they are in a position to dictate to the party; they don't need the libertarians anymore. And the libertarians haven't gotten very much at all out of the Bush Administration. They got lower taxes, but no reduced spending, and increased Governmental power.

The problem with extremists (of any stripe) is that they can't help going farther than they should. When they have other parts of their movement to hold them back, their drive can be a positive thing (sort of). But when they are unchained, well, they always go further than most people are comfortable with. Right now the Republicans are letting their extremists go - and the results are going to come back and bite them.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


David Limbaugh has a new book coming out - which means we can see a few columns pushing it, like this weeks. Nothing wrong with that; probably wont' be able to tell the difference to tell the truth. His book's thesis is that the Democratic Party is bankrupt, both intellectually and morally. However it is Limbaugh who is bankrupt.

Limbaugh continues to push the lie that Democrats have put forward no positive program, but only criticisms of President Bush. If you visit Democrats.Org you can see our 6 point program. To say we don't have anything positive to fight for is a lie.

He then has this heartrending paragraph.
It is the party of elites who look down their noses at red-state America. It is the party that snubs Christians and "values" voters yet claims to be their authentic representatives. It is the party that can't decide whether its electoral difficulties stem from its failure to effectively articulate its message or from the wholesale stupidity of an electorate that's too Christian, too much in favor of traditional family values, and too patriotic.
We'll have to see about those electoral difficulties in November. I can say though that I don't think the problem is that people are too religious or too patriotic. I'll also note that this is more or less the same group of people that gave President Clinton two terms in office, so they might not be as virtuous as you think they are.

The Republicans have been in charge for 4 years now - and they've held the White House for 6 years - they've seen what Bush Republicanism is all about. And it doesn't seem like they like it very much.

A Godless Constitution

Good article today at Townhall by Carol Platt Liebau, on Katherine Harris's remarks from a couple of weeks back.
That’s why recent remarks by Rep. Katherine Harris, a Republican candidate for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, were so remarkably offensive. Playing into every stereotype that the left has purveyed about religious conservatives, Harris insisted that America was not intended to be a “nation of secular laws,” called separation of church and state a “lie we have been told” and asserted that, “If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.”

Rep. Harris’ statements run counter to the text and plain meaning of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” By insisting that “sin” will be the essential byproduct of the work of non-Christian legislators, Harris falls into the worst kind of religious bigotry – and conveniently overlooks the unorthodox positions on social issues assumed by Christians like Teddy Kennedy and Mario Cuomo.
It is a bit unfortunate that Ms. Liebau chooses to portray Ms. Harris has a rhetorical lone gunman. Unfortunately that is not accurate. The dominionist movement would agree with everything Ms. Harris said, and, like her, seek an America where non-Christians do not hold public office.

But, rather than dwelling on the negative, let's give Ms. Liebau credit for dealing with Ms. Harris honestly, something many of her fellow Republicans have failed to do.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Format, New Quote, New Quotes Page

Good morning all!!!

I have finally updated the Quotes Page and changed the look of the blog once more - Enjoy!!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Do You Believe?

"It was poisoned, Peter," she told him softly; "and now I am going to be dead."

"O Tink, did you drink it to save me?"


"But why, Tink?"

Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she alighted on his shoulder and gave his nose a loving bite. She whispered in his ear "You silly ass," and then, tottering to her chamber, lay down on the bed.

His head almost filled the fourth wall of her little room as he knelt near her in distress. Every moment her light was growing fainter; and he knew that if it went out she would be no more. She liked his tears so much that she put out her beautiful finger and let them run over it.

Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.

Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.

"Do you believe?" he cried.

Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.

She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then again she wasn't sure.

"What do you think?" she asked Peter.

"If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."

Many clapped.

Some didn't.
Do you believe we can win the war in Iraq?

If you dont you are a defeatist and can't be trusted with the future of this country. Or at least that's the bill of goods our friends on the right are trying to sell us. Consider, for example, Rich Lowry's latest article.
On Iraq, the Democrats are the party of defeat. That's not a partisan smear, but a fact.

The further we slide toward defeat, the higher the Democrats' political fortunes rise. To the extent they offer any clear policy alternative for Iraq, it is either -— depending on your point of view -— to admit, or to guarantee, defeat with a rapid drawdown of American troops. So, their political self-interest objectively coincides with a defeat, and the kind of pullout endorsed at times by high-profile leaders in the party would hasten it.
Or to put it another, if we Democrats would just clap our damn hands, hopes for victory in Iraq would still be alive.

Problem with that is that victory in Iraq isn't really determinant on American faith in the cause. Like Vietnam, victory in Iraq is largely dependent on factors that are outside our direct control. Things like the factions in Iraq figuring out how to work together. Or the Iraqi army and police getting strong enough to quell insurgents. Or the Iraqi government providing basic safety and services to the Iraqi people. Can we influence these things? Yes. Can we directly cause them to happen? Nope. That's up to the Iraqi people. And they may never come. My assessment is that they won't.

In a sense it's like playing roulette. The Republicans are wanting to stay at the table till the winning number pops up, no matter how unlikely that is. The Democrats don't want to piss away any more money on a losing wheel. Us clapping our hands or not clapping our hands has nothing to do with the wheel itself, any more than knocking on wood really keeps bad luck away.

Republicans are still hoping that enough Americans are willing to clap their hands to keep them in power.

Oh and for those interested in Peter Pan, from which the top section was taken, here's a link to the text.