Saturday, December 18, 2004

Your Weekly Rush: Young Americans

Rush Limbaugh, like many on the right, is pretty convinced that the Democrats are through. ". . . I think the other people on the other side of the partisan divide are in the midst of a self-annihilation. I think they're plunging into depths from which they may never recover, which is, to me, only natural. You might look at time, age-old values, wrong versus right: wrong always catches up with you at some point. When you're wrong, it always catches up." That's convenient for Rush.

His argument is that liberals don't believe in American exceptionalism. We do, but not the way that Rush believes in it. Rush believes that American Exceptionalism means that whatever we do, as Americans, is pretty much the right answer. If we Americans install a crooked dictator in Latin America, well, we had the right to do it. If we invade Iraq for very tenuous reasons? That's our right, and the rest of the world should remember we saved their collective behinduses in world war 2 and cut us some slack.

Liberals believe that American Exceptionalism is a call to do better, not an affirmation of the rightness of whatever the hell it is we decide to do. It's a higher standard we set for ourselves. We are to be an example to the rest of the world. It's enough to just say we are an example--we actually have to set the example.

Friday, December 17, 2004

'Tis the Season

According to the Ledger, First Baptist Church in Polk County, Florida set up a Nativity Scene on county lawns after being denied permission by the County Board of Commissioners. They set it up in the middle of the night, but Barbara Pittman who helped organize the event said, in a completely believable fashion, "We would have done it in the middle of the day, but we did it after our prayer meeting. We didn't do it to hide from anybody."

A couple of questions.

1. Is there any reason to have put this on county lands other than to pick a fight?

2. Are there no churches in Polk County with lands big enough to hold a nativity scene?

3. Are there no private individuals in Polk County with lands big enough to hold a nativity scene?

4. Just how big is Polk County? According to their home page they have 2010 Square Miles. Hmmmm. Pretty big. In fact, according to the county website, "Polk County is larger than the state of Rhode Island and equal in size to Delaware . The total area of the county is approximately 2,010 square miles which makes it the fourth largest county in Florida , exceeded only by Dade, Palm Beach , and Collier counties." Seems like they have plenty of room.

5. How big is a nativity scene? Let's assume 60 square yards (5 deep, 12 lengthwise). That means, if Polk County was given over to nothing but Nativity Scenes they'd have room for 58,960 Nativity scenes. But wait, maybe my scene is too shrimpy. Let's give them 100 square yards. Still they have room for 35,376 Nativity Scenes. Seems like they could find room somewhere else.

6. "But Bryant, all that talk about room misses the point. The point is putting a nativity scene on county owned property makes an important statement about the values of Polk County." I'd be very curious to know what that message is exactly, but I suspect its something along the lines of "Screw you, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, and other non-Christian."

7. This really goes along with the spirit of Christ and Christmas, doesn't it? I mean it's a time of confrontation and sneaky late night tricks to get you way. Kind of like Santa Clause. I'm sorry but I believe in the more giving and brotherhood of man kind of Christmas.

Now I'm all riled up, so I'm going to sing a nice Christmas Carol to calm down. Well type it (not even that really). You know what I mean.
Still Still Still

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

Round the Horn

Hey it's time for another excursion around the horn, my opportunity to showcase bloggers who are better and more successful than myself.

BlogAmy has been gone since last week, apparently--hope she is having a nice vacation.

And Then . . . has a story on buying blue this holiday season, for those who are so inclined.

Chris "Lefty" Brown has an interesting scientific experiment you might want to try. I got "She may have the biggest case of artist's temperament I've seen since I first stepped on a holostage . . ."

Collective Sigh has a thinkpiece on hanging Christmas Lights.

MercuryX23's Fantabalous Blog is apparently back. They posted yesterday on a new Sexually Transmitted Disease.

By the way half way through my "Round the Horn" and more than half of these websites don't in fact consider me a member of the Liberal Coalition (as far as I know I joined sometime in February 2004). Let's see what the final tally is.

Rooks Rant suggests that the Democrats shouldn't give up on the South just yet.

Steve Gillard's News Blog has another bit on the Social Security "crisis" and makes a good point about the hard sell the Bush Administration has in front of it.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat also has some thoughts on Social Security, suggesting that privitization may not end up being cheaper.

Doyihi Mir has some thoughts on the armor used by our troops in Iraq and how those chaotic evil Iraqi Insurgents are cheating.

The Gamer's Nook has some cool star charts.

And the final tally? The blogs who choose not to link to me are in the lead. Kind of begs the question, doesn't it?

On the other hand this does fill my quota for Friday morning posting, a day I'm not as motivated on anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Media Matters for America, MoveOn.Org and a few other groups are attempting to bring pressure on the Sinclair Broadcasting group to provide liberal commentary along with their conservative commentary. Local News on Sinclair often contains a message from the Vice President of Sinclair Broadcasting called the Point.

In response to these critics Sinclair Broadcasting has suggested that if MoveOn.Org will allow them to send a message to all their members, and to have access to their mailing lists they will allow a liberal counterpoint to be added. Media Matters for America covered this and included this little commentary.
"The largest owner of television stations in the country is now equating itself with an advocacy organization, rather than a media outlet," said David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America. "This highlights a pattern we've seen with members of the conservative media attempting to draw false equivalencies in order to support their arguments. The real issue is that Sinclair Broadcast Group is abusing its stewardship of the public airwaves by not providing airtime for opposing viewpoints."
Mr. Brock is dead on when he says that this is a red herring. MoveOn.Org and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group are not equivalent.

Raise the Retirement Age

Or, to be more precise, raise the age at which one can begin collecting social security benefits. It's not just a way to save Social Security, it's a way to help millions of Americans avoid spiritual and mental health problems, according to Marvin Olasky.
Ask yourself about the happiness of the people between 65 and 70 that you know: Are those who are working, perhaps on a part-time basis, perhaps in a different career, less happy than those who wonder how to fill up their days? And if you believe in God, ask whether it's right for a healthy person to stop using the occupational talents God has bestowed on him.
Fair enough and I can certainly agree that it's better to keep busy.

But let's ask a counter question. You say you'd like to raise the age at which one can begin collecting social security in order to force senior citizens to keep busy. So why don't you trust them to make wise choices on their own? I mean what if they don't want to work full time? What if they want to focus on more educational or leisurely pursuits? What if they want to get more involved in their churches or in charitable work? And, more to the point, what if it is the supplemental income from social security that allows them to do this?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Go Read the Daily Howler

I know it seems like I'm always sending you to read the Daily Howler, but there's a good reason for that. I really want you to go read the Daily Howler. It's smart, it's well written, it's funny and it's solid. Today they have a quote by Brit Hume (a Fox News writer) on that reporter who suggested a question one of the troops asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
. . . if you can't ask the question yourself and you can get somebody else to ask it, good for him.We could have probably done without his opinions about whether the lack of armor was appalling or something else, but that was said in a private e-mail, not in his reporting.So my sense about this is—one thing, first of all, that that it was a pretty resourceful job to get the question asked. And the validity of the question, as far as the troops were concerned, was confirmed by the applause that the question got.So, I think good for him, good for the soldier, good for the country, even good for the secretary.
They also have continuing coverage on Social Security. Go read the Daily Howler. But keep readign me too!

Hey Kids Rock and Roll

I meant to link to this yesterday but forgot--too much else going on I guess. Don't seem to have that problem today, so go check out Tom Tomorrow's latest. It's spot on.

Brent Bozell, Champion Hoofer

Remember last week when we presented that amazing Tap Dancing Rush Limbaugh? Well Brent Bozell isn't quite in Limbaugh's league, but he still has some pretty fleet feet.

Bozell wisely limits himself to one distinct argument, rather than the scattershot pyrotechnics of Limbaugh's set. Basically it's this. The media, in the personage of Edward Lee Pitts, tricked the innocent Secretary of Defense by having a soldier ask a tough question. By putting a totally fair, legitimate question in the mouth of a soldier, they made it news. If a reporter had asked the same question, it wouldn't have been news, because the Defense Department has answered that question dozens of times.

Of course there's a few questions Mr. Bozell doesn't answer. Why was the soldier willing to go along with it? Why did the other soldiers applaud the question? Was the question based on a lie, or did the soldier's question reflect a reality in the war in Iraq?

Mr. Bozell, in the process of explaining that up is down, comments that these questions are irrelevant. "No one should buy that the Pitts gambit was not a setup, a sleight of microphone, because the soldier embraced the question, or because the grunts applauded. Let's grant it as obvious that the troops are interested in questions and answers about their safety."

What a jerk. The soldiers thinking it was a good question are irrelevant because they naturally care about their own safety? Well, surprise surprise, I care about the soldiers safety too. And I suspect many of my readers also care about the safety of our troops. If Mr. Rumsfeld isn't taking those actions necessary to protect our troops, than why is he the Secretary of Defense? If he can't handle this kind of question, is he really up to the job?

Oh, and in case you are curious, the company that manufactures the Humvees for the Army says that they can put armor on many more Humvees, but that they have not been requested to do so.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

World Net Daily and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

As we all know the new Senate Minority Leader will be Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). As we might also know Harry Reid is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as a Mormon. So is this commentator.

Senator Harry Reid has criticized Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This naturally triggered the right wing to trot out one of their favorite BS arguments. The criticism of a black person of prominence is automatically caused by racism. If we truly wanted Blacks to succeed we would support them regardless of how they succeeded or how they performed in their positions. That's because to a Conservative the only significant thing about Clarence Thomas is that he is a black.

Liberals, on the other hand, look at blacks as individuals. If a black individual performs well, like say, Keith Knight, he's worthy of praise (by the way, Keith Knight is great). If a black individual performs poorly, than he deserves criticism. It's a little think called looking past the skin.

At any rate Media Matters has a story in which they note that the hard right internet site World Net Daily has attempted to link Senator Reid's religious heritage (and my religious heritage) to the supposed racism of criticising Clarence Thomas.

Nice. Wonder how Mormon readers of World Net Daily (many, if not most, Latter Day Saints are Conservative) reacted to that.

David Limbaugh has a Weblog

David Limbaugh (who'd probably like to be known as the smart Limbaugh brother or the literate Limbaugh brother) has a weblog as well. It's not as attractive as this one is of course. For one thing he made the mistake of putting his picture on it. Mr. Limbaugh isn't capable of having his picture taken without looking like he's sneering.

I wisely choose not to inflict my visage upon you.

Anyway he, in a post from yesterday, calls on the Democratic Party to reject Rush Limbaugh. Kind of like Al From.

In this case he's calling on us to reject Michael Moore, because Michael Moore wrote a letter encouraging the party to stop trying to get along with Republicans, and stick to our liberal principles. In this article he quotes Mel Giles, an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, who compares our party to an abused woman.

David Limbaugh didn't read the article closely enough to realize this, but I can forgive him that. I've made similar mistakes such as that time I said Ponyang was in China instead of in North Korea. At any rate he quotes Mel Giles several times, but attributes the quotes to Michael Moore.

Anyway then he says, in the typical Limbaugh manner, full of calm and reasoned words, "And another interesting thing to watch for is whether anyone in the Democratic Party will have the guts to call Moore to the carpet for his maniacal, extreme, divisive, paranoid, hysterical ravings."

One other point for Al From and the Democratic Leadership council, isn't it nice to have guys like David Limbaugh on your side? I mean there's no better way to convince us you have our best interests in heart as to have David Limbaugh echoing you. There's a name all us liberals can trust.

More on Social Security

For those who are interested, there's quite a good article over at The Nation by Dean Baker. He notes that the Republican plans for Privitizing minimize or ignore the administrative costs required to set up all these accounts. Somebody is going to pay for all those individual accounts and it's going to end up being us, one would assume. He also reiterates that the problem isn't nearly as immediate as Republicans would like us to believe.
Of course, the only reason anyone is even talking about cutting benefits and privatizing the program is that the right has managed to convince the public that Social Security is on its last legs. For more than two decades they have spread stories about the baby boomers bankrupting the system and multitrillion-dollar debts left to our children and grandchildren. In reality the program can pay all scheduled benefits long past the boomers' retirement. According to the Social Security trustees report, it can pay full benefits through the year 2042 with no changes whatsoever. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts the date at 2052. And even after those dates, Social Security will always be able to pay a higher benefit (adjusted for inflation) than what retirees receive today. Those scary multitrillion-dollar debts translate into a deficit equal to 0.7 percent of future income--presented in very precise form in the Social Security trustees report for those who care to look.
Well worth reading. The Republican party is relying on urgency to make their case right now, because they know there is a good chance they won't have the votes later. We'll see how well they do.

That's What They Call Doin' No Wrong

Good article by Byron Williams today, who I seem to be going to more and more lately. He goes over how the Bush administration supports the troops, particularly in light of new information on interrogating techniques at GTMO. The article is a bit confusing though. After going through various documents revealed by the ACLU reflecting prisoner abuses, he concludes his easy thusly.
In the past 10 days some of our troops have sued the government and displayed open discontent on the battlefield; but in the midst of bad intelligence and poor planning, only the troops on the ground have been held accountable for any wrongdoing.

Does our support for the troops extend to those in the aforementioned examples?

If not, perhaps Col. Nathan Jessop from a Few Good Men was on to something when he questioned whether we could handle the truth.
I'm not sure whether Mr. Williams is suggesting that we need to hold the troops accountable for how they act, or whether he's lamenting the fact that the troops who carried out these policies will be blamed, while those who created such policies will get off scot free. I'd agree more with the second interpretation than the first one.

Social Security

Hey remember that quote from Tom Tomorrow yesterday? The one where he commented on the trustworthiness of those who want to reform social security? Well as day follows night we get evidence for his point of view. Star Parker writes an article entitled "End Social Security." Guess what? Ms. Parker has been involved in several planned Social Security reforms. Don't trust me? I don't blame you, but here are her own words!
I have been involved with Social Security reform for almost 10 years, as an advisory-committee member of the Cato Institute's project dealing with reforming Social Security and, more recently, with Jack Kemp's efforts to advance the idea of enacting private retirement accounts.

In my view, there is only one honest approach to Social Security: fulfill obligations to pay benefits to those who have already paid in and allow the rest of us as quick and expeditious an exit out as possible. Then shut the doors forever.

So you see the idea that some of the people working to "save" social security are actually planning to destroy it isn't such a ridiculous idea after all.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This Kind of Thing!

I'm out of it today due to work pressures and other pressures. I swear when I got this job at the bottom of the Mariana Trench they never mentioned the pressure. It's like I'm being crushed by several miles of water, the way my boss expects things done before he even assigns them.

Anyway I did want to point you to this nice summation of why some liberals don't trust social security reformers. The summation is by Tom Tomorrow at this Modern World, who I'm not always extremely complementary of. But in this case he is 100% right. "The short version is: it's not some irrational fear of "the market" driving my opposition. It's the very rational understanding that the forces driving Social Security "reform" have no interest in reform whatsoever. You've got the Grover Norquist destroy-government wing allied with the conservatarian free-marketeers, both of whom would dearly love to wipe out the last vestiges of the New Deal. . . . It's not that I don't trust "the market." It's that I don't trust the "reformers." And for very good reason."

He's not wrong.

Crybaby Conservatives

Just read an article by Paul Jacobs in which he old data to prove that press is liberal. He uses three sources to prove that the Press is liberal.

Number one, a survey by the Pew Research Center in which they queried 847 "media professionals" and found that they skewed significantly left and moderate. Mr. Jacobs does not use the term "Media professional" but rather the more questionable term "journalists and media executives." Many liberals would argue that media executives, such as editors or owners of media outlets are more likely to have a corporate bias. They favor policies that corporations like, such as NAFTA for example. They happily demonize unions and union members, for another example.

Number two, a survey of the American people says that they generally detect a liberal bias. OK. But since the Conservative movement has been screaming about this since the 1970s, doesn't that tend to muddy the waters a little?

Number three, in 1992 89% of the Washington Press Corp voted for President Clinton over President Bush Senior. Hmmm. That's sure relevant to what life is like ten years later.

I have two problems with Conservative Criticism of the Media. One is that their analysis of the situation is usually simplistic. The other is that they always overreach. This is because their goal isn't necessarily to change media for the better, but to cause news consumers to question or reject any story that supports the liberal point of view while swallowing completely any story that supports the conservative point of view.

So if a reporter does a story about how Corporation X is mistreating its employees, that's a bad story, an example of liberal bias, and not worth paying attention to. If that same reporter does a story about how lazy shiftless employees are striking, that is a good story, a rare example of good reporting, and worth pointing out on the Rush Limbaugh show.

I know I harp on this a lot, but it really drives me nuts. So I must continue to harp on it.

Today's This Modern World is quite good and deals with this subject. Here's a link.

Also, by the way, let's all remember these touching words from Ann Coulter. "Liberals are no longer a threat to the nation. The new media have defeated them with free speech - the very freedom these fifth columnists hide behind whenever their speech gets them in hot water with the American people. Today, the truth is instantly available on the Internet, talk radio and Fox News Channel." I guess Ann was a little premature? Or else why would they still be whining about their lack of power?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

New Format, New Quote!

Here we go. Plus we have also provided a new Quotes page for your edification.