Saturday, May 01, 2004

Your Weekly Rush; Open Line Friday

On Friday, Rush Limbaugh takes what he considers one of the most dangerous risks a host can take, that of letting the callers set the subject for the show. I never bought that it was all that big of a risk, because of course the Rush Limbaugh Show has very proficient call screeners. But an exchange yesterday might prove Rush's point.

"CALLER: I've been hanging on here for a while, back from the discussion of should we pull out of Iraq, or what should we do, you know, the whole Iraq issue earlier in the program. And what caused me to call in was, looking at the Capitol Journal article in the Wall Street Journal the day before yesterday --

RUSH: Hold it just a second. Just a minute. I know I'm tired, and I've admitted this, and I'm running on fumes here today, but have we discussed pulling out of Iraq earlier on this show today? We haven't discussed that -- I'm glad to discuss it with you, but --

CALLER: It was about Iraq and what should we do and what shouldn't we do.

RUSH: That was about Ted Koppel's Nightline show tonight.

CALLER: Well, I'm here.

RUSH: You're here -- if you want to -- that's right, but, fine, I just--

CALLER: I want to talk to you about.

RUSH: I'm not being critical. I'm telling you I'm fatigued. I didn't remember talking about it and if you did it means I'm in worse shape than I think I am. It's okay. Just fire away, man. Go for it.

CALLER: Did you see the article in the Wall Street Journal from Wednesday, the Capitol Journal article, "former general says staying the course in Iraq is untenable."

RUSH: I have that article right here. I'm the host.


RUSH: I don't have it, wait a second, now.

CALLER: This guy makes the point -- . . .

This is, to me, a strange exchange, and it looks even stranger in print. I wonder if Rush's staff really reviewed this enough, or if they just decided it was Friday so they may as well print it and go home.

This conversation concerns the criticisms that Former National Security Agency Director and retired General William Odom has levelled at the Bush Administration. Let's read a little bit more.

RUSH: Wait a minute. Look it, you're going to get all the time you need here. Let's have a conversation. I'm not trying to make you lose your place, but I've got the article, but I don't have it from the Wall Street Journal. I want you to know where it's now appeared. I have it in something called the Khaleej Times, and the logo for the Khaleej Times is a palm tree and an oil well. The Khaleej Times is somewhere in the United Arab Emirates. So this guy --

CALLER: Why do I care about this?

RUSH: It's not why -- you obviously don't. It's why should you. It's that what this guy has said has reached our troops and it's a demoralizing thing for him to say.

CALLER: Well, okay, so the Wall Street Journal shouldn't have published the article originally.

RUSH: Didn't say that. Didn't say that. That's not -- how do you get that? What I'm saying is --

CALLER: What difference does it make where it is?

RUSH: No, no, no. The answer is Odom shouldn't have said it publicly is what I'm saying, but did and the cat's out of the bag.

You see the rhetorical trick being played here? Rush's source on the article is a newspaper printed in the United Arab Emirates. Great. So it's only a hop skip and a jump from there to where one of our soldiers could pick it up and read it.

Or, of course, he could read more in depth and complete articles elsewhere. In the Wall Street Journal for example (which I don't have a link for, unfortunately). Or on CNN. Or on the Internet.

So I guess, we had better never criticize the administrations Iraq policy or else our soldiers will be disheartened and give up.

It's a good thing we don't live in a Democracy where students have the fundamental responsibility to regard their Government and those that govern critically. Oh, wait a minute.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Ann Coulter, Nuttier than Three Squirrels!!!

Yeah, I already used this title once, back in the day, but I like it so I'm using it again.

Anyway, we haven't checked in with Ms. Coulter in a while, so let's see what's she's discussing this week.

". . . oddly, rather than bragging about the charges, the airlines heatedly denied discriminating against Middle Eastern passengers. What a wasted marketing opportunity! Imagine the great slogans the airlines could use:

"Now Frisking All Arabs - Twice!"

"More Civil-Rights Lawsuits Brought by Arabs Than Any Other Airline!"

"The Friendly Skies - Unless You're an Arab"

"You Are Now Free to Move About the Cabin - Not So Fast, Mohammed!"

Worst of all, the Department of Transportation ordered the settlement money to be spent on civil-rights programs to train airline staff to stop looking for terrorists, a practice known as digging your own grave and paying for the shovel.

Of course, if you follow this "logic," wouldn't it make more sense to just ban Arabs frtravelinging (it's unclear whether Ms. Coulter is using the word Arab to mean Muslim, or people of Arabic ethnicity (if the later, I guess she'd be fine with Saddam Hussein flying, since he is of Persian descent)).

Anyway it's nice to know that things don't change all that much in Coulterland.

Mercenary contractors

By now I'm sure you've all heard about the ABC Story about Iraqi Detainees being tortured. Well the Guardian U.K. has reported a new wrinkle.

"Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.

The scandal has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees.

According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon.

What the hell is going on over there in Iraq? The United States Army hiring mercenaries to interrogate prisoners? Has the world gone mad?

Got the story from This Modern World. We'll see how this shakes out.

Round the Horn

Here we go on another exciting session of Round the Horn, where I point you to other articles you might like.

Echidne of the Snakes has a typically insightful article on Misogyny in our . . ., well I was going to say society but it's a bit more than that.

Moving from Misogyny in theory (sort of)(and I have to tell you those two "y"s are giving me fits) to Misogyny in practice, Trish Wilson has a piece on President Bush's minimizing and recasting of woman's issues. A good overview.

Collective Sigh has a story on those civilian contractors in Iraq. Apparently they aren't going to be allowed to carry guns any more.

Iddybud posts her reasons for declaring her support for John Kerry in his bid for the presidency.

MercuryX23's Fantabulous Blog has a reaction to reports on President Bush's appearence before the 9/11 commission.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has a great recitation on that immortal question, "how liberal is liberal enough?" Something that is well worth reading. Also worth checking out is the Fulcrum's response to it, in which he declares himself a liberal.

For those interested, I am also a liberal.

Rook's Rant reviews the current landscape in the Republican Party, and does find some hope for them, particularly Kerry plays his cards right (you know puts that 10 of diamonds over the jack of spades).

Speedkill has an examination of Kerry's position on Iraq and how it differs from President Bushs (insofar as it does).

There you go--enjoy.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Note of Optimism

I think Tom Tomorrow is one of our greatest political cartoonists. His weblog is quite good. But he is not what one would call a cheerful upbeat voice, usually. He's funny, just not very cheeful.

Today, however, he did a post that cheered me up enormously, on the doldrums we seem to be experiencing at this point in the campaign. The truth is the election is still in the early stages; other than picking a vice presidential nominee we don't have too much going on. Anyway go read the post--it's good.

For those of you who would like to know more about this John Kerry person, maybe you'd like to visit his website.

How come we never hear about Insourcing?

There's a brain teaser.

Anyway just read a good article by Robert Kuttner on ways that we could improve conditions for American workers.

"The majority of jobs in the economy today are in the service sector, and many of these need to be close to the customer. A job in a hotel, a nursing home, a restaurant, a university, or a public school cannot easily be outsourced overseas.

So the first remedy is to make these good jobs. We can do this with higher minimum wages, local living wage ordinances, by enforcing the right of workers to join unions, and structuring these jobs to encourage and reward higher skills and career paths.

Enforcement of the Wagner Act, which allows American workers a free choice to vote in a union, has become a joke. Employers find it cheaper to fire pro-union workers, hire fancy law firms to conduct union-busting campaigns, and pay the very infrequent fine.

One happy exception speaks volumes -- the successful struggle by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees to turn Las Vegas into a union town. Today, the most humble workers in Vegas's hotels -- those who clean the rooms -- are paid middle-class salaries with health benefits and have career opportunities. They are becoming homeowners and starting to live the American dream. The higher labor costs are a drop in the casino bucket.

After all, no inherent economic logic required semi-skilled factory workers to earn middle-class wages. What made the difference was strong unions and federal enforcement of the right to organize. Blue-collar service jobs could pay decently, too.

Makes a lot of sense to me; we have to decide what our priorities. Is it really our number one priority that American Business Owners make as much money as possible, regardless of all other concerns? Or maybe could the need for profit be balanced with the need for stable American families who's fathers make enough money to support the family without having to have two or three jobs.

This Article has no Title

Well I went over to Townhall first off. I read Larry Elder's column where he takes Kerry to task for praising hip-hop and rap. Apparently a few bad apples do spoil the bunch, at least in Elder's mind. N.W.A., Sister Souljah, and Ice Cube pretty much negate all the rest of rap and hip-hop, and Kerry's a jerk for suggesting there might be something there.

I read Emmett Tyrrell's article on how John Francois Kerry (never can get enough of that French Bashing can you, right wingers?) is living in a fantasy world. Tyrrell also, inexplicably, suggests that the fact that this might be 1992 all over again would upset Democrats. I mean, if I remember correctly, President Clinton won in 1992. Wouldn't that be a good thing, from our point of view, if Senator Kerry were to win this year?

Well obviously after reading those tedious articles, I wanted refreshment. So I turned to John Kerrys' website. It's just a breath of fresh air. I turned to this speech, given on March 13, 2004 in Quincy, Illinois.

"But today, campaigns too often generate more heat than light – firing up partisans while leaving increasing numbers out in the cold. Candidates find it easier to exchange insults than to face issues. Commentators and pollsters tell us who’s up and who’s down. On television, talking heads talk and yell past one another. Six-second sound-bites on the evening news and thirty-second attack ads all day long dominate the airwaves.

Everyone in politics shares the blame. But I have come here today, because I believe this campaign should be different. President Bush and I can do better – and America deserves better. And so here, in Quincy, where long ago we saw the best of American politics, I am asking George Bush to agree to a series of monthly debates, stating this spring. This should be a campaign worthy of the great issues before us, a campaign that truly can give the election of America’s president back to America’s people.

Inspiring. I hope President Bush takes up the Gauntlet and really lets us see what he and Senator Kerry are made of.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I love Snopes

Snopes provides a great service to the world; debunking mythology and reporting that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. I particularly loved their debunking of the Clinton Death Count. But that's not what's on the agenda today. Today I am pointing you to a de-bunking of a letter about Kerry's service to his country during Vietnam.

Go check it out; too long to comment on, and I don't want to deprive you of the chance to read the whole thing.

Great Cartoon

At Working for Change Today. I like the coloring, and of course the message.

Tricky Road

For those of you interested in reviewing Kerry's record in the military, here is one account, admittedly from his own website.

I do want to admit that the Republicans are entering this particular field with a couple of strikes against them. First of all, their guys chose not to serve (and there is Vice President Cheney's famous line that he had "other priorities" during this period.) So they can't really compete directly. Once you, the voter, start comparing their experiences during Vietnam, even discounting any medals Kerry received, Kerry wins without breaking a sweat.

Their only hope is to set Kerry up to defeat himself. It would help if Kerry spent a lot of time saying, "Well as a Silver Star and Purple Heart medal receiver I'm the greatest." But he hasn't. Make me a Commentator's crack research staff is in the middle of reviewing Kerry's speeches and we'll present our findings later in the week, but preliminary research indicates that while he refers to his military service fairly often, he doesn't refer to his medals all that much (and usually in the context of discussing his post war activities with VVAW).

Instead they have to pretend that he's relying on his medals to get into office and then try to knock down those medals. It's not the best strategy, as it relies too much on you, the voter, listening only to them and taking no time to listen to Kerry or to rationally consider what they are arguing. But it's the best strategy they have, unfortunately.

Two Accounts

"The superficial details of "Medalgate" are fairly easy to explain for anybody not determined to make Kerry sound consistent. From 1971 until about a decade later, Kerry wanted people to think he threw his medals away in protest of Vietnam.

In a 1971 interview, Kerry insisted that he "gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine" of his medals. Around 1984, when Kerry ran for the Senate, the times changed and he wanted people to believe he kept the medals and "only" threw away the ribbons. Why? Because his union supporters in particular and voters in general were no longer enamored with the excesses of the anti-war movement.
Jonah Goldberg, "Contradictions at the core of Kerry campaign."

"Over the years some have asked why Kerry chose to dispose of his ribbons, not his medals. Critics saw him as trying to have it both ways. It gave credence, they believed, to what A.J. Liebling of the New Yorker once claimed of Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt: He was a "dilettante soldier but a first-class politician." Further confusing the issue was the fact that Kerry did lob the medals of two no-show veterans toward the Marshall statue at their request. "The point of the exercise was to symbolically give something up," Kerry recalled in his defense. "I chose my ribbons, which is what many of the veterans did." The medals he tossed had been given to him by two angry veterans who wouldn't make it to Washington; he was merely serving as their surrogate. Before Kerry discarded his ribbons, he declared: "I'm not doing this for any violent reason, but for peace and justice, and to try to make this country wake up once and for all."

. . . Recent critics of Kerry assert that his Dewey County III ceremony is a metaphor for a lifetime of political flip-flopping. For Kerry, giving up his ribbons -- the objects he had with him in Washington that week -- made perfect sense. To his way of thinking, he was symbolically returning his medals to the U.S. government by tossing his ribbons. Even Sen. Stuart Symington, D-Mo., when preparing to cross-examine Kerry at the Fulbright committee meeting, asked him what the "medals" on his chest represented. They weren't medals, they were ribbons; it was -- and is -- a common mistake. From Kerry's vantage point, there is nothing contradictory about his statement to "Viewpoints" that he had given back "six, seven, eight, nine medals." To have said that he had given back ribbons but that his medals were at home would have simply confused the TV audience.

Still, the persistent resurrection of this issue means Kerry should have been more exact in his language back in 1971. Clarity is usually a virtue in politics. But we should also remember that he earned those medals/ribbons. The shrapnel in his thigh should remind us of that sacrifice. It is a tangible souvenir from Vietnam that is still with him every day.
Douglas Brinkley, "Why Kerry Threw his Ribbons."

I would encourage you all to read Brinkley's article, as, in my mind, it cuts through a lot of the right wing crap surrounding this issue.

As for Blankley's article, he goes on to suggest that Kerry's willingness to serve in the Vietnam war shows a lack of judgment.

"Kerry made his political career by saying that Vietnam was a moral and national security disaster. He claims that going to fight for "a mistake" (Kerry's words) was his defining moment. Well, if Vietnam was a mistake, how does it demonstrate Kerry's good judgment?"

Here, of course, Blankley shows himself to be a moron. Allow me to point out the salient hole in this argument. John F. Kerry wasn't in the White House or the Cabinet. He didn't make the decisions that led us into Vietnam.

Instead Kerry decided to answer the call to serve issued by the United States. Do you really want to argue that the decision to serve one's country is wrong, Mr. Blankley? A mistake? I'm not a military man myself, but my general understanding of the life is that you are generally supposed to do what you are told. And that's what Kerry did, with distinction.

No, any honest observer may conclude that the Vietnam war may have been a mistake, but it wasn't Senator Kerry's mistake.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Your Weekly Rush

Like everybody else in the conservative media, Rush isn't a big fan of John Kerry. But he does pick a somewhat unusual thing to hammer Kerry about.

"I hate to be redundant. I keep saying, greatness does not need to be explained. Greatness does not need to be defined and John Kerry continues to have to explain himself and to define himself because who he is doesn't stand out, and who he is doesn't strike anybody as great."

What's funny about this is that every single hour of every single show, Rush starts out by reminding his audience how great his show is. He reminds his views how many listeners he has. He claims that his show is show preparation for the rest of the media. He claims that his views are correct and make more sense than anybody else's, because they are rooted in a daily, relentless, search for the truth. He claims that his talent is on loan from God. So Rush what does it say about you that you need to promote yourself so forcefully?

But of course that's not the point; he's not the president. This is just another in the ongoing attempts by the right wing press to convince Senator Kerry to kneecap himself. Senator Kerry's honorable military service stands in sharp contrast to President Bush's conduct (even if you totally disbelieve the AWOL story); of course Rush wants Senator Kerry to shut up about it. Ever since there was a possibility that Kerry might become the democratic nominee they've been trying to neutralize any political benefit he might receive from his Vietnam service.

Of course you can't talk about Senator Kerry without some gratuitous France bashing, can you? Check out this question, that Rush asks in all seriousness.

"I know the Saudis don't have all of our interests at heart, to say the least, but they do have some of our interests at heart. Let me ask you. In terms of American allies and the role a foreign country can have for the goodness of our future, who do you choose, Jacques Chirac or Prince Bandar? It's not a tough choice here, folks. It's not a tough choice."

You know, in this instance I'll agree with Rush. It's not a tough choice. As far as I know French citizens have never caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Best they have done is acted in their national self interest and acted snooty to Americans.

The Continuing Attacks on Kerry's Military Record

Joe Conoson has some good comments on the issue today.

"For George W. Bush's surrogates to question John Kerry's war record, as they have continued to do in recent days, requires a special Republican brand of super-high-octane gall. Why would the president want to draw additional attention to the most unflattering contrast between him and the Democratic challenger? Why would his flacks reopen the painful issues of that era by questioning Kerry's undoubted heroism? If anyone ever earned the right to talk about what he had seen in Vietnam and why no more Americans should kill or die there, it was the young, highly decorated Navy lieutenant who had volunteered for duty.

Perhaps Bush and his strategists believe that offense is the only way to play defense on his spotty National Guard record. Perhaps they think that with enough money and enough noise, they can erase Kerry's medals and heroism. (After all, according to a recent Harris poll, millions of Americans evidently believe that U.S. troops actually found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so it is reasonable to think they would believe almost anything.) And perhaps they expect the mainstream media to assist in defacing Kerry's character -- just as important media organizations smeared Al Gore four years ago with Republican spin points.

There are a couple of points I'd like to underline. First, does anybody doubt that the desicion to go after Kerry's Military Record was, if not made by President Bush, at least approved by him? I think President Bush finds it to easy to distance himself from his surrogates.

Secondly, it shows how much President Bush and his followers really respect military service; it naturally comes second to loyalty to conservatism. So any soldier who chooses to criticize President Bush or support liberal causes, don't expect your uniform to protect you in the slightest from the smears of conservatives. Just so you know.

Monday, April 26, 2004

A Suggestion

Interesting commentary by Sean Gonsalvas on debt slavery.

"That's all well and good, I suppose, but if they truly believed in the concept of "No Child Left Behind," wouldn't they be fighting to make basic accounting and financial management a core curriculum class?

I'm finally reading the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," and it points out that rich people teach their kids things about money that poor and middle-class parents don't; namely, how to make money work for you and not the other way around.

Now, if any of us truly believe no child should be "left behind," as No. 43 likes to say, then we've got to see to it that working class students are financially literate. Of course, that would mean cutting into the profit margin of credit card companies and God forbid loan sharks would have to come up with a new scheme for hoodwinking the masses.

As big a fan of western civilization classes as I am, the subject of how not to be subjecated by the man might be important too.

Round the Horn

Steve Gilliard has a post about the current mantra of finishing the job in Iraq. I don't necessarily agree with his take on the issue, but it is well written and reasoned.

Echidne of the Snakes has another one of those heart-warming stories about capitalistic inventiveness.

Musings Musing has a great, well, musing on being a Christian Liberal. Anybody who thought "Isn't that an oxymoron?" please go put your nose in a corner for a half hour.

New World Blogger also has some thoughts on the subject, relating to how deeply we really construct our beliefs or philosophies.

Archy has further comments on the subject of religion and politics, and also provides a handy guide to understanding why this is an issue all of a sudden.

Respectful of Otters got the rare privilege of visiting an alternate reality where Josiah Bartlet (of The West Wing) is president. Sounds pretty cool.

Edwardpig has another interesting tidbit about our most heroic of presidents and his appearence before the 9/11 commission.

The Invisible Library has a great story about that monsterous terrorist, Morrissey. It's horrific, the things he can do. I remember how depressed I was listening to "Heaven Know's I'm Miserable Now" (I remember how much I identified with the line "I was Looking for a job and I found a job, and Heaven's know's I'm miserable now.") Isn't depression another way of being terrorized?

And that's it for this session; tune in later when we'll be playing the greatest hits of 1973.

Political Correctness - My Thoughts

1. It seems to me that the issue of Political Correctness was vastly overstated, if not outright created, by conservatives. They took a few incidents, such as the questionable one involving Professor Stephan Thernstrom, and extrapolated from them a crowbar to try to pry liberals out of the college.

2. Paradoxically, the suggestion that their might be a liberal bias (or any other kind of bias) in teachers will have a chilling effect on student's willingness to discuss issues, whether or not such bias actually exists. The grading process is far from transparent to the student, despite the teachers best intentions. It is assumed by students that college professors have a certain amount of lee way in giving grades. It is further assumed that College Professors will use that perogative to benefit those students they like, and will use it to the detriment of those students they don't like (In one way this is largely true. Students who show a genuine interest in the course material are both more likely to enjoy a favorable relationship with the professor and are more likely to do well in the class). So if we have created on campus an atmosphere in which it is assumed that all professors are liberal until proven not, and if we further assume an ongoing movement to punish conservatives in the name of "political correctness," well many conservative students are naturally going to hedge their bets by keeping their mouths shut.

3. Conservative organizations, such as Young Republicans Clubs, are growing on our college campuses, both in numbers and in influence.

4. Most commentators who attack political correctness are infuriated at the existence of liberal organizations or feminist movements being on campus, while having no problem with conservative or corporate entities molding our young minds.

5. The subject of speech codes or a harassment policy is a landmine, but here's a pair of branches I'm willing to go out on. Freedom of Speech and discussion improve a college; students should be able to explore what they will. Anarchy, however, is not freedom.

6. The Canon is not going to crumble if some students and professors choose to study subjects outside of the canon.

7. Making students take multicultural classes may or may not be a good idea. Offering such classes, however, is 100% a good idea.

8. When someone complains about political correctness, ask the following questions. a. What actual consequences do you think you will suffer if you express your view point? b. Why would your viewpoint cause such problems?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

A Public Service Announcment

I'm really sorry about this, but that braintrust promoting those new "Swoops" candys has chosen to liscence the song "Whoop there it is" for their commercials (although, in braintrust-like fashion, they have changed it to "Swoop there it is"). I'm sure like me you have sworn off any product that advertisizes using that song; so I guess this means no more swoops. For a little while. Until I forget they used it.

New Quote

And an updated Quotes Page.

More to come on political correctness, a big sum up post and all. Also the weekly 'round the horn' exercise, though that may end up my first post of tomorrow