Sunday, October 31, 2004

To quote Snopes:
The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House. When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

This election year, that deciding game takes place on Sunday, October 31 ... vs. Green Bay.

Green Bay just put it away 28-14.

Thursday, October 21, 2004 - Kerry promotes science, technology as job engines - What I want to know is why in the HELL hasn't he been pounding this as a central part of his economic plan from day one? It lets him unify his environmental and economic policies, and gives him an economic plank completely outside of Bush's world. He can say "If the economy doesn't improve, Bush will give the rich another tax cut. And if that doesn't work, he'll try giving the rich another tax cut. And if there's still no improvement, he has an ace in the hole - give the rich a tax cut. I've got a better idea. If nothing else, at least this idea hasn't been proven to be completely useless." He should have been pushing science as a central ideological difference from day one. "I support stem cell research because it could save thousands of lives; he opposes it because of some vague idea that it kills babies, which anyone with even a passing knowledge of the subject knows it doesn't. I support an economic policy based around moving our economy into the future; he supports one based around taking CEOs word for it when they tell him they need a tax cut. I support an environmental policy that will protect the vital ecosystems that keep our planet, and all of us, alive; he supports slashing, burning and drilling our way into a future that may or may not be able to actually support human life. Now, you can take your pick here, but it's not just a difference of opinion. I make my decisions based on evidence; he makes his based on faith."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

With all the absolutely justified celebration about SpaceShipOne and the potential for private space flight, this comic makes a good point that is easy to forget. SpaceShipOne was not designed in a vacuum. It is built with off-the-shelf technology. None of that technology would have existed but for the decades of ludicrously expensive and complex research and development done by NASA. Private spaceflight is a brave new frontier, but let's not get carried away with the "abolish the government" stuff while we're at it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Veep Debate:

Well, here were the fireworks. Edwards and Cheney were at each others throats, at least in the beginning. It got more collegial toward the end.

Advantage first 30 minutes: Cheney. Unlike Bush, Cheney actually has a basic grasp of the issues. And unlike Kerry, Edwards seems much more comfortable talking about domestic than international issues. While I don't agree with what he was saying, Cheney had a coherent message (this is important, the world is behind us, and we can't fail) that he presented forcefully. He manipulated the statistics mercilessly, in terms of the size of the coalition and the proportion of costs and casualties, and Edwards' refutations were lacking. Saying that Cheney is manipulating the statistics isn't enough. Saying he's manipulating the statistics and providing your own is not enough either. You have to say he's manipulating the statistics, provide your own, AND explain why yours are more relevant. Saying "we've taken 90% of the COALITION casualties" was half what he needed to say, but leaving it there did not refute what Cheney said, that it ignored the sacrifices of the Iraqis. The second part of the sentence needed to be "you said we had a grand coalition. That fact that you've also managed to get a bunch of Iraqi police killed does not change the fact that the Republic of Tonga, whose contribution is of course appreciated, is not a substitute for Germany."

Advantage second 30 minutes: Edwards. It all started with Halliburton. Edwards prosecutorial instincts kicked in, and he started drilling Cheney to the floor. When they traded attacks on their records, Edwards came out on top by far. We've all heard about the $87 Billion. But Cheney voted against the Department of Education? He was one of 4 people that voted against MLK Day? He voted against freakin' Meals on Wheels? Edwards was absolutely rolling, and the auditorium I was sitting in was by far the loudest it would get. This segment closed up with the Gay Marraige segment, which Edwards pursued unenthusiastically, but Cheney basically refused to argue. That comes out to an advantage Edwards, as Bush/Cheney is counting on the religious right vote, and if they're no tougher on them immoral gays than Kerry/Edwards...

Advantage last 30 minutes: Draw. No one had anything going here. Cheney was running on a record of failure and he knew it. Edwards, despite his clear comfort level here, was not hitting the issues. He kept saying "we have a plan" and "we'll improve health care", but he didn't say how until the very end, and even that was kind of halfass. The point on TV ads was critical, but totally opaque to anyone who hasn't studied the issue. He needed to elaborate on "standing up to big insurance and big pharma", and he didn't. What does that MEAN? He needed to break out the figures on the money big pharma spends on research versus advertising versus what they bring home in profits, along with big insurance's tendency to jack up rates just because they can, and then say what he's going to do about it.

Advantage closing statements: Cheney by default. Cheney's closing statement was dull and uninspiring. Edwards' was horrid. You never, NEVER say "the light of America is flickering". You say "the light of America is in danger" or something like that. Never, EVER suggest that America has been weakened, because if America has been weakened, then Americans have been weakened, and no one wants to vote for a guy that called them weak. And John? We know your #$(@*%! daddy worked in a mill, OK?

Overall advantage: TBA. A lot of punches thrown, not sure how many landed. This was not the Luke Skywalked/Darth Vader match I hoped for, but neither did Edwards come off looking like a chump. Probably no big whoop either way.

Meals on Wheels!?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My proposed response when Kerry is inevitably asked about his vote in the Iraq War Resolution during the debates:

"President Bush told us that he wanted to hold Iraq's feet to the fire. He told us that without the authority to use force, he would not have the power to force Iraq's hand. He told us that Iraq posed an imminent and growing danger. He told us that the security of the United States was in our hands. I made the mistake of believing him. I made the terrible and inexcusable mistake of assuming that because he was the duly elected President of the United States, with all of our diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military power entrusted to him, that he would act appropriately and with honor. To my everlasting regret, I was completely wrong. Ever since that fateful day, I've given him every benefit of the doubt. But with revelation after revelation, it's become incontrovertibly obvious that he has handled the authority I gave him with astounding negligence. He ignored the advice of our military planners. He replaced the State Department Middle East experts with political flunkies. He mercilessly distorted the available intelligence to support plans he had made years ago. The Iraqis did not greet us with flowers. The war did not pay for itself. We have not established a secure beachhead for democracy in the Middle East. Not only did we not destroy a terrorist breeding ground, we created one. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. I gave the President every possible benefit of the doubt. I stretched and groped in the darkness to believe that he lead us truly, because I was raised to beleive that that is what the President of the United States does. But in this case, I was wrong. I made the mistake of trusting the security of the United States to George W. Bush, and I swear it is a mistake I will never make again."

Monday, September 06, 2004

An article called Stuck on The Fence from the Washington Post tells the story of 10 rather unenthusiastic uncommitted voters from Erie, PA, and their reaction to the Presidential nomination acceptance speeches (which most of them weren't planning to watch before the Post asked them to.) The responses aren't surprising - Bush wins on straight talk and specifics but is fighting an overall negative impression of his record, while Kerry is seen to have said pretty much nothing. All in all, a wash. However, it's a wash in which Kerry can improve, and Bush is already firing on all cylinders. This is an opportunity, as illustrated by the adage about the two athletes - if they both run at the same speed, jump the same height, and lift the same weight, then draft the one with worse form. If he's already equal to the other guy now, imagine how he'll be once he gets into shape?

Very few people have both the mental capacity to effectively analyze complex issues and the rhetorical skills to distill these issues down to clear, unequivocal terms. Bill Clinton had that talent. Neither Bush nor Kerry does. To speak simply is a gift, but to think simply is blindness; with these candidates it's all or nothing. George W. Bush speaks simply because his mind works simply. It's no trick to speak in simple terms when that's all you can comprehend. John Kerry, on the other hand, has a firm grasp of the world in all its sometimes inexplicable glory, but lacks the ability to process his results into a more palatable form. From Bush, you get a straight, absolutely wrong answer. From Kerry, you get the right answer in indecipherable form. This is where the potential Kerry advantage comes in. If Kerry makes better use of spokesmen - Edwards of course, but also Dean, Obama, and so forth - he can get his message out in plain English. The right answer delivered with flair and charisma - Clinton in two steps. Bush, on the other hand, is already delivering his message as well as it can be delivered. His allies can't improve on what he says without contradicting him. Kerry's message, poorly delivered, is as convincing as Bush's message, well delivered. So let's work on that delivery.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

A blog post that kind of morphed into an open letter to John Kerry

John Kerry has got to go Howard Dean. There's no way around it. His circumlocution and Senatese, his professional courtesy, everything about him that the world sees on a day-to-day-basis is tailor made to be ripped apart by some asshole like George W. Bush. For God's sake, this guy could be saying "let's nuke Japan again" and he'd be winning the battle for the minds of America, because at least he's fighting for them. George W. Bush is campaigning like Patton. He's put all his forces in order, and he's bulling straight ahead with absolute efficiency. Kerry is fucking around like Marshal Petain. A little effort over here, a little over there, oh no, better not fight over here, it might be inconvenient, and I'm sure he wouldn't attack through the Ardennes, so I'll just ignore that. Jesus Christ, John, you're getting slaughtered piecemeal! What in bloody hell is your platform? You've got fiscal policies, environmental policies, social policies, the works, and you just keep sending them into battle once at a time, not connected, not supporting each other, and they're getting murdered. Damn it all, John, you were in the military. You of all people should know that you can have the best troops, or ideas, in the world, and if they're not organized, they're going to get slaughtered! Damn it, John, you have the better ideas. You have the better troops. But where the fuck is the leadership? And then there's foreign policy. That's the battlefield this election is going to be fought on. You tried to draw him into the domestic arena, but it didn't work. That's North Africa. Foreign Policy is Europe. This is where the war is going to be decided. So what the hell is your battle plan? You can beat him on every issue, and he'd still win. Why? Because his army is going somewhere. You?re just playing defense. And it's appropriate that I call him an army and talk about you like you?re playing a game, because that's what it looks like. He comes out and says "we're going to remake the world in our image", and you respond with "yeah, but you're not being sensitive enough while you do it." How about "what the fuck are you talking about, George? Are you fucking insane?" You can't just keep on saying "I agree with everything he says, but we should have done it better." How about "I gave George Bush authority to go to war with Iraq because I love my country and would do anything to protect her from harm. I didn't give him authority to go on some crazy-ass crusade to overthrow the governments of half the Middle East." And if his Swift Boat surrogates go after you one more time, how about you finally say "You know what? You decide for yourself whether I deserved my medals or not. The fact is, I was still fucking there, getting my ass shot at for my country, while George Bush was getting drunk off his ass while AWOL from the Champagne Battalion in the Texas Air national Guard. I'm sick and tired of these idiots telling me I didn't bleed enough to cover up the fact that their guy was a drunken embarrassment to his family. You want to spend any more time digging up my past, be my guest, because anything you find is still gonna leave me 20 miles ahead of George W. Bush." John, I don't know what you're planning. I don't know what you've got up your sleeve. But this is no game. You have to win. I'll back you - we'll all back you - but I swear to God, if you're fucking around, if you lose this thing to that asshole because you didn?t try hard enough, I will never forgive you. Your name will go down in history as "the guy that let George Bush win". What ever wars, whatever misery he is responsible for in his second term will be on your conscience. So pack it up, soldier. We've got work to do.

Update: You might want to note that I posted this at 4:16 AM. That may explain a few things.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Yahoo! News - Russia School Standoff Ends With 250 Dead: BESLAN, Russia - The three-day hostage siege at a school in southern Russia ended in chaos and bloodshed Friday, after witnesses said Chechen militants set off bombs and Russian commandos stormed the building. Hostages fled in terror, many of them children who were half-naked and covered in blood. Officials said the toll was at least 250.

Russia, it seems to me, is in an Israeli situation in regards to Chechnya. Problem is, unlike Israel, Russia is too big to be effectively secured, hence the Chechens propensity for seizing entire schools and buildings, as opposed to the Palestinians habit of blowing themselves up at guard posts. It seems to me the only logical thing for them to do would be to cede Chechnya and get this thing over with. What do they lose? Pride? Does Chechnya have any strategic significance? Does Russia have any moral claim to their occupation? Is there anything other than sheer bloody-mindedness that's keeping Russia embroiled here, that's holding open the gates for these things to keep happening?

Someone's going to say "why don't you blame the terrorists?" If I hear that one more time, about anything, I'm going to lose my temper. I think we can all agree around here that taking over a school and holding the students hostage is wrong. In fact, that it's really wrong, that it's inexcusable, and that anyone who does such a thing with the expectation of a reward in paradise will find themselves sorely mistaken. What I want to do is stop it from happening again. God can handle the vengeance. I just want to stop it from happening again. If that can be done through escalating violence, then great, do it. The perpetrators have given up their rights to peace. But for God's sake, what Russia and Israel should have figured out right now is that they CAN'T do it through escalating violence, and that every time they do that, they're effectively condemning more of their citizens to death. It's insane, it's illogical, it's horrific, and they just keep doing it anyway.

Forgive me for presuming to intrude on the internal affairs of soverign nations, but I've just seen too much of this all over this Earth. Leaders everywhere with the best intentions take the task of judge and executioner upon themselves, when all they need to do is protect their people. In the name of vengeance, they stoke the fires, and the cycle starts again. Too many people die in the same cycle that presents itself so plainly, and it's just such a sorry sight to see. I know no one's listening, but I still feel the need to shout this into the ether.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush told a roomful of top Pentagon brass on Thursday that his administration would never stop looking for ways to harm the United States.
Amazing that I never thought of this. The BBC is reporting that scientists are digitally copying the police audio tapes of the JFK assassination (the tapes have been too fragile to play for the last 10 years). Once they're digitized, they'll be able to remove background noise, static, and so forth. Point being? They'll finally be able to tell how many shots were fired (and possibly whether they all came from the same place.) If the answer ain't 3 shots from one place, then it wasn't Oswald acting alone.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Jane's Defense Weekly and Reuters are reporting that North Korea has 12 nuclear launch-capable missile submarines of Soviet origin with the range to cruise off the California coast. Oh yeah, and they were furnished by our own industrial magnate-cum-North Korean sympathizer-cum-Messiah Sun Myung Moon. I wonder if they'll mention that next time they coronate him?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Been a while, hasn't it? Maybe it's what The Onion described as "Outrage Fatigue", but I've just had no motivation to write lately. I stay just as ludicrously up-to-date on current events as ever, and certainly have not lost my opinions on on the matters of the day, but somehow I've just felt no impetus to put those things into words and put them on the internet for the whole world to see. Maybe it's the summer. I work all week and sleep all weekend. Additionally, outside of college, there isn't nearly the political stimulus that there is on campus.

In the mean time, just go here.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Two researchers have just released a study highlighting the danger of allowing your 18-year-old to take Tylenol without parental supervision. OK, seriously, the study was about "the overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers by children and teens", but if you read the article I think you'll agree with my snark. I have rarely seen such a mix of obvious facts being presented as cutting-edge research and those results provoking such chicken-little-style panic. Observe:
Most likely children and teens are taking this medicine because they think it will relieve their headaches, and not to get any type of "high," study author Dr. A. David Rothner of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio told Reuters Health.

"If you have (children), and you give them medicine when they have a headache, why shouldn't they think they can do it on their own," he said.

There are many reasons why kids shouldn't overuse these medicines, Rothner explained. Some pain relievers contain aspirin, which puts children under the age of 19 at risk of Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal disorder, he said.

Other risks of overuse of over-the-counter pain medicines include kidney failure, liver problems, and intestinal and stomach bleeding, he said.

OK, here's my suggestion: "use as directed." How's that?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A guy in Granby, CO, had a grudge against certain members of the town planning commission and the local newspaper. So how did he handle it? The same way any red-blooded believer in truth, justice, and the American way would: he built himself a tank and obliterated downtown

Friday, June 04, 2004

You know, work is, like, hard. But the good news is they pay you to do it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Looks like George Tenet's resigning. It's not effective until Mid-July, and they're all citing "personal reasons", while the President praises him, saying (to use one his new favorite turns of phrase) that "he's done a superb job on behalf of the American people".
New book out by author Rebecca Wilson called "What Makes a Man". The type of thing I'd ordinarily stay away from, except when order to read it for some English or maybe Poli Sci class (after which I'd tear it to pieces) - It's one of those ones about what masculinity means, which for some reason always seem to be written by women. Some people think Violet Brown and Gloria Anzaldua are geniuses who see the world how it ought to be, transcending the patriarchy and the stereotypical machismo of modern society; personally, I think they sound like a couple of bitter lesbians (and I can say that, because they, um, are lesbians), whining "If I can't have a penis, no one else should either!" Of course, then there's the other end, like "The Surrendered Wife" by whoever-the-hell-wrote-that, by women who never made it out of the 19th century and think that all of society's problems are caused by uppity women being all cutesy and getting "jobs" instead of cooking dinner for their big strong husbands. But, as far as this Salon interview with the author goes, this one looks like it might be something different. The book draws from sources well outside of the bitter lesbian academic echo chamber - try death row inmate Jarvis Jay Masters, NPR host Doug Rushkoff, and big fat guy Michael Moore. Not only that, but she seems to be willing to say what's on her mind, even if it runs counter to Paleo-feminist orthodoxy.
Q: In your intro you call on women to help men reconfigure masculinity. You say, "If we want men to be different we must eroticize that difference." What do you mean?

A: Women say we want these integrated, beautiful, sweet men. Then we run off with the macho guy. All these years of feminism and we're still looking for the knight in shining armor. There's a way in which our impulses haven't caught up with our intellect. What I'm saying is, we know that men are often socialized in their sexuality through pornography. I can eroticize this table if I work hard enough at it. Well, women need to flex that power and begin to eroticize what's truly healthy for us and for our partners.

Q: Nice guys finish last -- but at least they finish.

A: Being turned on by macho guys who aren't good for us has to do with us wanting to be the feminine über-counterpart. I like those guys 'cause I can curl up and be little. I can be pure sensuality. But those extremes only work in the realm of sexuality. Real relationships are much more multidimensional. I want a partner, male or female, who can be the cool tough guy to my damsel in distress and who can also be the damsel in distress to my cool tough guy. I want to have the full range of my humanity in a relationship. I want to experience life fully, not just a sliver of it. That's why I did this book -- because men are being allowed just this tiny part. I was interested in the ones who are breaking out of that paradigm. I'm interested in knowing what's that like for them.

Now, you can say what you want about that viewpoint, but it's original. It's logical. It's compelling. Now, I haven't read this book. Chances are, my being a schlub, I never will. But for the moment, I have a glimmer of hope that someone out there is doing some thinking for themselves. That's more than I've come to expect from anyone.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Wear Red for Freedom Fridays. I hope Katt of Oddlots Irregulars won't mind my jacking her post:
I have received email about this great idea from several people today. In a nutshell, a growing number of Americans, concerned about current U.S policies regarding individual civil liberties and freedoms in the U.S. and abroad, are going to wear RED every Friday until the November election. That?s it ~ that simple. A ?quiet revolution.? A simple way to identify (and identify with) the growing number of concerned citizens in our country.

The inspiration for wearing red comes from when Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in their country, that they didn?t like having their freedom taken away by the Nazis.

The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes?to go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country. As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history?everything that happened began simply by wearing red!!!!

So, hey, you probably look good in red and/or need a good excuse to go shopping ~ spread the word:wear red every Friday until Election Day!
Seems like a good idea to me. Wonder if it will catch on?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

There's a construction site in Downtown Los Angeles surrounded by razor wire. I was walking past it this morning when I saw a tiny bird, perched right on one of the razors, merrily warbling away. Somehow, it seems like this is symbolic of something, but I can't think of exactly what.
Would you beleive that Al Gore just gave a really great speech? Full text is here. His critique of the President's leadership hits more powerfully than any of the partisan flak that both sides are throwing at each other. He sounds downright statesmanlike. The man has grown an impressive spine over the past four years to go with his already formidable brain.

Too bad the Dems' candidate this year is a practical clone of his 2000 self. John Kerry is going to flip-flop himself right out of contention if someone doesn't knock some sense into him. And don't tell me that "flip-flopper" is Republican spin - Let's face it, John Kerry hasn't held a consistent position in years. The ability to change is an absolutely critical quality that deserves praise, but you've got to believe in SOMETHING, right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Apologies for the posting lull - work rears its ugly head.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

While reading Greyhawk's entry linked to in my last post, I came a across this. It's pretty long, but the point is that Micah Wright, one of the internet's most prolific producers of propaganda remixes, has long been justifying his art by claiming to have spent four years in the Army Rangers, including participating in the invasion of Panama, during which he discovered the utter corruption of the US Government and Military and devoted himself to spreading the knowledge. Except that, uh, he never was in the Army Rangers. Or anywhere else in the military. In the fine recent tradition of American journalism, which is apparently now available to non-journalists as well, he made the whole damn thing up.

It's really too bad, because the art stood on its own. I think I had one of these up on my wall for a while. The hell was he thinking? Anyway, his current book contract has been cancelled, and a long section of his previous book in which he described in great detail his experiences in Panama is being excised for any future editions. This kind of thing just isn't limited to any particular corner. There once was a high-ranking executive at Transamerica Corporation, Bill Simms, who, having ousted his last rivals in a boardroom coup, was forced to resign in disgrace after the discovery he had made up pretty much all of his qualifications and credentials. How was he caught? He claimed, in casual conversation, to have been an olympic gold medalist.
I've been waiting to hear someone condemn 60 Minutes for running the Abu Ghraib Prison photos, saying that to criticize the Americans was equivalent to complimenting "the terrorists". And, finally, here it is: Jonah Goldberg on the National Review Online:
Instapundit links to a post from a blogger Greyhawk who has some useful scorn for "60 Minutes'" posturing over the torture photos. This was not sleuthed-out by "60 Minutes" it was already being investigated by the army.

I agree with everything Greyhawk says, but I would add something. Whoever leaked these pictures to the press was not doing anybody any favors. Since the case was already being handled, the release of these pictures did more harm than good. I don't blame 60 Minutes for running them -- though I don't applaud them either. But a person would/could be morally obligated to leak these pictures if the army was covering it up or refusing to investigate. It doesn't sound like that was the case. So releasing the photos isn't prodding the government to do the right thing, it's encouraging millions of Arabs to hate us. That's not whistle-blowing, that's sabotage.

Indeed, recall that what happened to the Belgian peacekeepers in Rwanda was censored because to reveal the full story -- it was believed -- would cause more harm than good. I don't know about that decision. But someone will need to explain to me why releasing these pics now -- as opposed to a year from now -- didn't do more harm than good.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

What to say about those pictures from the Iraqi prisons? It's like those soldiers are from some other world. I don't even need to say that abusing prisoners for your own personal amusement is absolutely beyond the pale. Everybody knows that, and the soldiers responsible are being court-martialed. But what I want to know is how this was allowed to happen? Assume, for a moment, the patently false argument that the average enlisted soldier is a rapacious scumbag whose idea of war is the victors looting and pillaging the defeated. Even in that case, their officers, knowing full well that this war is being fought primarily not on battlefields but in "hearts and minds", ought to be doing everything in their power to ensure absolutely exemplary conduct on the part of their troops. And yet, we see one of the seven soldiers currently facing suspension or court-martial is the Brigadier General in charge of the offending facility. What was she thinking? How could she let this happen? These photos might have just destroyed our last chances of reaching rapprochement with the Iraqis.

Tom Tomorrow also points out that the British press is starting to run with Kos' "mercenary" trope. Apparently, this prison, though nominally under command of the aforementioned Brig. Gen. Karpinski, much of its day to day operations, including interrogation, were handled by the "security contractors" we've been hearing so much about, and while those soldiers currently under investigation were all actually US Army SOLDIERS, not mercs, these investigations have brought allegations of similar conduct on the part of some of the contractors, and those guys won't be subject to court-martial. That's a problem. To go back to my earlier point - this is a campaign where absolute Rules of Engagement discipline is essential, and there's nothing to hold hired soldiers to the same standards as real ones.

Anyway, I don't know what else there is to say. This is just another cock-up in a long series of the same, in this campaign of blunders some of which could have been prevented by better planning, some of which could have been prevented by better execution, and all of which could have been prevented by competent leadership. At this point, I have no idea whether US presence in Iraq is the only thing keeping the country out of civil war, or the factor most likely to lead to one. I'm halfway inclined to say both.

The poem about Saddam Hussein that some unknown Iraqi scrawled on a Baghdad wall in the aftermath of the US invasion may well come to symbolize us as well:

"Saddam Hussein:
His coming was a disaster,
his staying was a disaster,
and his leaving was a disaster."

A fitting epitaph for this ill-begotten mission, but an unfitting one for the hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis who have died in its name.
Of all the things... Supreme Court Justice David Souter seems to have been attacked and beaten while jogging last night. Fortunately, no major injuries. He wasn't robbed, and so far his assailants' motives are unknown.

For some reason, when I read this article, the first thought into my mind was "abortion protestors". There's absolutely no reason for me to believe that's who did it, but I have a pretty good track record with my hunches. Regardless, there's not much to this story at the moment - just best wishes to His Honor.
I seem to be the Sticky Site of the Moment over at Neat! To anyone visting from that august institution: Hiya.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Update on the Sinclair/Nightline story: Sinclair Broadcasting Group is a big proponent of the Bush FCC deregulation, has given a total of about $120,000 over the past 4 years to the Republican party and it's candidates (0 to anyone else), and is hailed thusly by NewsMax, America's premier internet purveyor of Fair and Balanced reportáge: "One of the nation's newest and fastest-growing TV news networks says it's tired of left-leaning news reporting and wants to offer Americans a fair and balanced perspective, just as Fox News Channel does. Fox News eschewed politically correct news to become the dominant force on cable news. And now the Sinclair Broadcast Group has been following in Fox's footsteps to do the same for broadcast news in news markets across the nation."

Gee, who didn't see this coming?
ABC has decided to do a special edition of Nightline tomorrow night - the entire hour will be a tribute to our soldiers fallen in Iraq, a simple reading of their names and showing of their faces. In response, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns eight ABC affiliates (along with 54 other stations), has refused to run the episode, stating it "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq" due to the fact that "he [Ted Koppel] chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001", and that they "do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content", as such rubbish is "contrary to the public interest."

Remember, kids, if it's not an administration talking point, it's probably seditious!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Who was it that decided this flag would go over well in Iraq?

First of all, every Iraqi flag since 1924 has been black, green, red, and white, with the 1959-1963 flag (the last one pre-Saddam) also having some yellow. This one's more than half white, with the rest composed of two shades of blue and a thin gold stripe. So, symbolically, Iraq is to be cut off not only from it's Ba'athist past, but, uh, all of it's past. Getting rid of the green was an especially odd move, seeing as that's the sacred color of Islam. On top of that, you know what the only other Middle Eastern state with a primarily blue and white flag is? That would be Israel. It turns out many Iraqis actually do not like israel very much, and Israel-American conspiracy theories abound. So, you know, if I were trying to dispel said theories, I wouldn't go about it by tearing down the Iraqi flag and replacing it with what could be described as a derivative of the Israeli one.

Monday, April 26, 2004

There's a fairly bad looking movie slated for an imminent release by the name of The Day After Tomorrow. In the greatest tradition of overblown disaster movies, this one uses $125 Million to create a highly implausible scenario - overnight global destruction by freak weather phenomena - out of a real threat - Global Warming. And (as Kevin Drum draws our attention to), in the best tradition of Bush-variant Nixonian politics, the administration has banned NASA from answering any questions about it, including to assure the public this is not going to happen, presumably because in doing so someone might admit that Global Warming actually is an issue, even if this isn't how it's going to manifest itself.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

It's always fun to look at my counter statistics and see where I'm getting hits from. Today, I see four lucky people found this site by doing Google Searches for the following strings:

  • strategic multilateralism and tactical unilateralism
  • haverfest 2004
  • "challenged instead of retarded"
  • operation pussy galore iraq

Well, you can't say there's no diversity to this site's contents...
Via Kos, we see this newest bit of creative concept linkage - Since 'abortion is murder', and Al-Qaeda commits murder, support for abortion rights is equivalent to support for Al-Qaeda:
"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life." -Karen Hughes, political adviser to President George W. Bush
Worst Excuse Ever. Being asked to explain himself after claiming there was a vast Islamic conspiracy for world domination and saying "I've got an idea, let's kill all Muslims.", a Boston radio host responded that he wasn't talking about American Muslims, he was talking about Muslims outside the US. Oh, well that totally justifies him! Genocide is fine as long as we do it somewhere else!

Is this for real?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Oh, and on the topic of Mr. Kucinich, I got the opportunity to ask him a question on his way out:

Me: "Mr. Kucinich, in a no-holds-barred cage match between yourself and Tom DeLay, who would win?"

Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): *Blank Stare* "Uh... I don't think... a cage match? I don't... uh... think I would... engage... in that... so I would win... by not engaging."
Saw Dennis Kucinich speak today. I can certainly understand why he was really never able to gain better than 1% of the primary vote, despite the fact that certainly well over 1% of the population agrees with his views (heck, Ralph "pariah" Nader is still polling about 5%). The reason is that he's just too much philosopher, not enough leader. He talks about "dichotomies" and "the unification of humanity" and "holistic structures of government". Well, you know, I really don't want to hear that from politicians. I want to hear what's the problem, and what are you going to do about it. Howard Dean had this one absolutely down, and Edwards too, to an extent. George Bush is excellent at this, even if what he's actually saying is complete BS most of the time. Kerry will have to learn this skill if he wants to go anywhere. It's not a matter of dumbing things down; that's certainly a way to accomplish this goal, and the one in favor with the current White House, but not the one I'd advocate. What it means is only saying things that mean something. Can you picture what "unifying humanity" or "creating holistic structures of government" look like? I know I can't. Now, if someone says "lowering taxes" or "withdrawing from Iraq" or even something a little further out there like "destroying evil" or "declaring war on poverty", can you picture that? "Two Americas" was a brilliant line, because you can very easily picture what the Two Americas look like. Anyone, in politics or otherwise, who wants to get anything done needs to think about that before they start. It's the difference between leadership and bloviation.
I remember the fanfare when Pat Tillman, strong safety for the Arizona Cardinals, left the NFL in 2002 to join the Special Forces in the newly declared War on Terror.

He was killed today in Afghanistan.

From Reuters

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Well, someone's finally starting to pay attention: Panel: Don't use Diebold touch-screen voting machines.
California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended Thursday.

By an 8-0 vote, the state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County.


Panel member Marc Carrel, an assistant secretary of state, said he was "disgusted" by Diebold, which has "been jerking us around." The company, he said, has disenfranchised voters in California and undermined confidence in the new and developing technology of touch-screen voting.

Diebold, if you recall, is the company whose voting machines have been proven impossibly easy to hack, whose internal memos show that they make a practice of changing their machines' software without authorization after installating them, and whose CEO has promised he is "committed to helping Ohio [his home state] deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."
The title of the article is Bush Hails His Environmental Record on Earth Day. Well, at least someone likes it: the Earth Day founder, Political Science professor, former EPA head, collective statement by 20 Nobel Prize winners, and Sierra Club director quoted in the article all say his environmental record is, uh, really, really lousy.

George W. Bush. Worst. Environmental. President. Ever.
Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

Via Atrios

Monday, April 19, 2004

Spain's new government has, as promised, begun to Withdraw its troops from Iraq. This is a real bad time, not only because we need every boot on the ground that we can get, but because Spanish troops are actively engaged near Najaf. Their withdrawal will leave a hole in the American/Coalition blockade. In that second article, you'll also note that Al-Sadr ordered his militias to cease fire on Spanish troops as they are in the process of withdrawal. This will almost certainly be reported as a quid-pro-quo or Spain "giving in to terror"; whether or not that's accurate, this whole thing is going to strain trans-Atlantic relations even further.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Well, you can't fault them for not being conscientious, anyway. Most of the Los Angeles porn industry - which is to say most of the US porn industry - has shut down after an actor and an actress failed their mandatory tri-weekly HIV tests. All production is stopped until at least June while they wait and make sure no one else is infected. These are all industry standards, by the way, not government-imposed. It kind of makes you wish any other businesses were so concerned for the health and safety of their employees.
Here's something out of the ordinary: A photojournal of a Ukranian biker's trip through the ruins of Chernobyl. Asphalt, you know, does not absorb radiation, so if you stay to the middle of the roads and keep your eye on the geiger counter, you can fairly safely navigate a part of the world in which it will always remain the 26th of April, 1986.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

From The Agonist
The following letter was distributed on the streets of Baghdad today:

To our families in Baghdad:

Do not leave your homes and do not go to school, universities, offices. Do not walk around in the markets and to all supermarket owners and commercial markets: close your shops from April 15 2004 to April 23 2004, since your brothers the Mujahadieen in Ramadi, Khaldiya, and Fallujah will transfer the resistance fire to Baghdad, the capital, to help out Mujahideen brothers from the Al-Mahdi Army to free you from the darkness of the occupier, and so you have been warned.

Your Brothers the Mujahideen companies

From God victory and success

(Name of source withheld)
Some of Mark Fiore's cartoons have been a bit subpar lately, but this week's is him in his top form. The Buck Stops Where?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Oh my lord. This is the most disgusting photo supposedly depicting an attractive woman I have ever seen. Upper left corner.
Speak of driving with one's eyes closed, I would direct everyone to this Slate Article by William Saletan. As time has gone on and evidence has amassed, intelligent onlookers have been better and better able to identify just what is going on with our current administration. People who want to call the president evil are wrong. He's not even nuts. He has some nutcase advisers, but the president himself is in my opinion, a reasonably clearheaded, reasonably intelligent man. His problems are ones of personality - his arrogance, his stubborness, his complete and utter credulity and incuriousness. Get something in this guy's head, and damned if he won't do it, regardless if he has to push the country off a cliff in the process. And as he sees it, doing anything else is a sign of weakness, a lack of resolve. Or, as Saletan puts it:
To Bush, credibility means that you keep saying today what you said yesterday, and that you do today what you promised yesterday. "A free Iraq will confirm to a watching world that America's word, once given, can be relied upon," he argued Tuesday night. When the situation is clear and requires pure courage, this steadfastness is Bush's most useful trait. But when the situation is unclear, Bush's notion of credibility turns out to be dangerously unhinged. The only words and deeds that have to match are his. No correspondence to reality is required. Bush can say today what he said yesterday, and do today what he promised yesterday, even if nothing he believes about the rest of the world is true.
Philip Robertson is back on with his reportage from Iraq. His last series, in which he reported unembedded from Kurdistan during the invasion was really excellent, and this new one from Baghdad seems to be the same. Despite Salon's left-leaning tendencies, Robertson has always appeared to be a man of impeccable objectivity - basically, he doesn't bother trying to support the liberal consensus, the conservative consensus, or even anybody's idea of what the real issues are. He just reports what he sees. Unfortunately, what he sees now is a step down from what he saw in the immediate aftermath of the war:
The city I remembered from a year ago, with its long palm-lined boulevards and frantic markets, no longer exists. It has been replaced by something that echoes of shell-shocked Kabul, in Afghanistan. On the way toward Sadoun Street and Paradise Square, I was turned around and couldn't locate the river. Baghdad has become a tangle of concrete barriers and barbed wire; officialdom and the press have retreated into an archipelago of fortified islands... Of course, it is far easier to hate strangers who live behind a maze of walls. This is what is happening in Iraq now."

I decided to check back on his previous work to see if it bore out his assertion. I found the following:

Philip Robertson on May 7, 2003:
Amir speaks English with a weird fluency, like many Christians in the Arab world, and loves the West and America so much that it will drive you crazy. I had to tell him to stop, that he was killing me with his patriotism, and tried to get him to tell his own stories.

Philip Robertson on April 14, 2004
Baghdad is a city of talkers, and I knew this neighborhood as a place where even strangers used to greet one another. Now, though, this convention has become obsolete. As I walked down the street, the city's new personality came through, and it was bitter and sullen. It didn't want to talk.

This is a... disturbing situation. I feel that there's not much I can do here. I wonder if there's much anyone can do now. The writing's on the wall that the approach we're using is just not working, but the guys that need to see that message are driving with their eyes closed.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Minor template change - Links should now open in new windows, instead of making this blog disappear if you click on anything. Always hated it when that happened.
Finally found some free image hosting from I'm guessing that, like all good things, they'll probably start charging by next week, but for the moment they get my hearty endorsement. Heck, with a name like Photobucket, they wouldn't even have to DO anything to get my endorsement. Anyway, the ability to add images should give me a little flexibility here, though God only knows if I'll actually do anything with it. For the moment, you might notice some of my life philosophies proudly displayed in the left-hand navigation bar, courtesy of the fine creative folks at Two free services on the internet on one day? Why, who would have thought they still existed?

Monday, March 29, 2004

I could have sworn this was from The Onion. But, unsurprisingly, it's not. John Kerry gave a campaign speech at a church and quoted the Book of James to describe the Bush administration: "The Scriptures say: `What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" The Bush campaign responded by saying this was "beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse, and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack.'' Really. Captain Jesus and friends say religion is out of bounds.
Atrios watches the O'Reilly Factor so you don't have to:

O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In THE FACTOR "Follow-Up" Segment tonight, we've been following the various demographic shifts throughout America, and now the Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2050, white Americans will make up less than 50 percent of the population...


WILLIAM FREY, PH.D., BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I really think what's happening is going to be this phasing out or fading out of the white baby boom population. It is a 50-year time period we're talking about...

O'REILLY [who's not xenophobic! Really!]: Yes. We'll all be dead. Thank God, right?
According to USA Today, Bill Frist's demands to declassify all of Richard Clarke's classified testimony from the Bush administration in hopes of finding something to discredit him have been joined by - Richard Clarke. Except, I have to imagine his reasons are more along the lines of proving he DIDN'T perjure himself at any point. Anyway, I value full disclosure, so the fact that he's willing to provide it makes me more likely to beleive Mr. Clarke's story. Assuming, of course, there's nothing in these soon-to-be-released documents that DOES contradict it.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Apparently Canada has so much uninhabited land in the far north that they have to occasionally sweep through with troops to make sure no one else is planting a flag and claiming it in the name of Spain. Such a plan, code name Polar Epsilon, is underway now.
Cambodia's newest plan for economic recovery - Blow away a cow for $400.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

According to a 60 Minutes interview with Richard Clarke, chief White House anti-terrorism adviser at the time of the September 11th attacks, not only had the Bush administration been uninterested in the issue of terrorism right up until it made itself evident on American soil, they wouldn't even schedule a meeting between his department and the president or cabinet. When they finally did give him an audience, no one above the rank of Deputy Secretary was present. And when he presented the intelligence estimates of an Al-Qaeda threat, Paul Wolfowitz, the Defense Department representative at the meeting, responded "no, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States." And when he plans began to take shape on September the 12th, they didn't involve Afghanistan. The arrows on the invasion plan all ended in Baghdad. According to Donald Rumsfeld, Al-Qaeda might be in Afghanistan, but it would be easier to find targets to bomb in Iraq. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the strategy of the civilian head of our military - if you drop your keys in the dark, go look for them somewhere where the light's better. Clarke suspects that the reports first of the Al-Qaeda threat and later of Iraq's non-connection to the September 11th attacks never even made it to the president's desk. Apparently, every time he or anyone in the intelligence community would submit such a report, it would come back from Condoleeza Rice's office bearing a stamp somewhere along the lines of "wrong answer."

To be fair, the White House denies everything. According to Stephen Hadley, from the National Security Council, Al-Qaeda had been a top-tier concern of the Bush administration from day one, and it was in fact the intelligence community that failed. In this version, the President met daily with George Tenet, whom he instructed to make Al-Qaeda a top priority. Additionally, Hadley suggests that this was entirely the president's initiative - there was never any intelligence that Al-Qaeda might strike the US, but George W. Bush just had this prescient hunch that the CIA was missing something (and had they looked harder on his instructions, who knows what they might have found?)

This last line of reasoning actually may be consistent with Clarke's account. Had the intelligence been suggesting an Al-Qaeda attack, but his aides had been screening the intelligence, he might have seen just enough to make him suspicious, but not enough for him to consciously recognize what was going on.

The current White House line of Clarke is that he's a disgruntled employee who quit when the Bush administration downgraded his position from cabinet-level, and is trolling for favors from a future Kerry administration. Outside of the fact that downgrading the anti-terrorism czar seems inconsistent with an administration bent on the elimination of terrorism, it's worth noting that he didn't quit until two years after the downgrade, making it seem more likely he resigned in protest over being ignored, rather than in a fit of pique. Either way, though, I suspect Mr. Clarke will soon be involved in some sort of scandal. If he is, I will take it as gospel that he is speaking the absolute truth. I wonder if his wife works for the CIA?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Add Jack Kelly, formerly of USA Today, to the list of "journalists" who've just been making shit up. The paper's excuse for letting the inaccuracies slip through? He was a good Evangelical Christian, and we all know they don't lie! The New York Times caught hell because Jayson Blair was black, thereby definitively proving the Times was putting "Affirmative Action" ahead of the news. But when USA Today out and admits that evangelicals get special treatment, my guess is the story's gonna pass with a whisper.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Kevin Drum of Calpundit has been hired to write the Political Animal blog for the Washington Monthly. His pontifications will henceforth be found in the new location.
Here's an absolutely amazing piece from Slate: A compendium of graffiti that has appeared on the walls of occupied Baghdad. Well, maybe absolutely amazing is a little strong. There may be nothing there that surprises you. Nevertheless, it's a look into the situation that no embedded reporter could hope to provide.

From these scribblings, it is clear that there is significant support for the Americans. In fact, there's significant support for everyone and everything - Americans, killing Americans, Iraqis, Shiites, Jews, Jewish Conspiracy Theories, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Saddam, brutally executing Saddam, Baathists, Suicide Bombers, Chalabi, kicking Chalabi's ass, you name it. As you can probably gather from that list, an awful lot of this support is mutually and violently contradictory. The obvious implication is that the fate of Iraq is still totally up in the air. It remains to be seen whether we can hold it all together long enough for the situation to shake itself out. I am confident it can be done - or, at least, could have been done, had this war been handled properly from the start. I fear the Iraq of the near future may not be the one that anyone, from the neoconss to the peaceniks, wanted. But no one ever got anywhere by saying "I can't." What's important is that the men on the ground in Iraq are reading these things and reacting accordingly. If they do, we might pull this thing out after all.
One of the problems with blogging is that there's just so much stuff out there in the world. It can be daunting. Why bother saying anything when you know a thousand other people are saying the same thing better? And sometimes, the question is just why bother saying anything at all? When trains explode and people die, my rantings into the blogosphere aren't going to do anything. But, I guess that's not the point. I'm a citizen of the US, and a citizen of the world. A citizen has a duty to keep himself informed and to contribute to the public discourse. That's what I do, here and in the real world both. God only knows what it accomplishes, but I feel like somehow it's the right thing to do. One day something useful will come out of it.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Quick housekeeping update: Fixed the links to Where is Raed? and The Homeless Guy. Their URLs had moved, and I had forgotten to change 'em in the template.
The Daily Kos tagline for the Bush Missile Shield, for which most testing was cancelled and the funds diverted into immediate deployment before the election: Faith-Based Defense. "Faith-based defense"... do I sense a Kerry attack ad in the making?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Kerry-McCain 2004? It could happen. I mean, it's not going to, but it sure would be cool if it did. That would be a ticket I wouldn't want to be up against. Although speaking of Sen. McCain, he seems to be taking a lead in the Senate's crusade to rid Major League Baseball of steroids. Do these people not have anything better to do? Oh well, if it makes him happy. At least it's not hurting anybody, unlike certain other political hobby-horses.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Just added HaloScan commenting. Notice the little "Comments" link under this post? And all the other ones? Well, if you click on it, you can (surprise!) leave comments for all the other little boys and girls to read.
Indecency fines. This is the most important thing our government has to worry about? Someone's gotta check their priorities. MSNBC contributor Michael Ventre may put it best: usual, the booby prize goes to our government watchdogs. Because they’ve spent entire careers suckling off the taxpayer teat, these elected officials are uniquely qualified to preside over this matter.
So, it looks like Ford is (finally) going to build some hybrids - based on licensed Toyota technology. It's about time an American manufacturer stepped up to the plate here, although it's sort of disappointing to see that they're too lame to actually figure out how to do it on their own. So much for GM's vaunted electric-car program. Sooner or later, the government is going to regulate greenhouse emissions, and it would be a shame if foreign cars suddenly became the only economically viable option at that point. Of course, I'm also just happy to see more hybrids out there. The less oil we burn, the better.

By the way, am I planning to just start writing again with absolutely no explanation of where I've been? Yep. Am I sure I actually am going to write on any sort of regular basis for the forseeable future? Nope.

It's good to be your own publisher.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Excellent Washington Post article about religion in politics.
Distorting a candidate's religious views is not a new hobby. In 1800, supporters of John Adams campaigned against Thomas Jefferson on the grounds that he was an atheist. He wasn't. He was a deist, a believer in a God not involved in current human events, but his views were easily caricatured. In his 2003 book, "The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America," historian Frank Lambert documents the smears, including one campaign diatribe that ran: "God -- and a religious president . . . or Jefferson and no God."

Imagine the TV ads that would run today against Jefferson -- a man who actually edited the Bible to cut out the miracles:

(Cue video)Two hands extend out of ruffled 18th-century sleeves. One hand grips a pair of scissors, the other a Bible. The scissors start cutting.

Voiceover: Thomas Jefferson says the Old Testament is full of "dung." He says the Gospels are a pack of "fabrications" put together by "fanatics."He seems to think he knows what should be in the Bible and what shouldn't be. Whom do you trust: Thomas Jefferson or the Good Book?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Cancelled my New Republic subscription the other day. I was getting tired of reading the same article on the glories of the Democratic Leadership Council over and over. The fact that they were recently bought out by the DLC's guru and a Republican supply-sider didn't really cement my loyalty. My decision was validated today when they endorsed Joe Lieberman.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Yeah. OK then. Dennis Kucinich just tried to explain himself using a pie chart. Over the radio.
Kind of odd that it's a crime against humanity when some guy submits an ad comparing Bush to Hitler in a contest, but it's OK when an editorial in the New York Post compares Hitler to Howard Dean.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Boy, this whole Bush/Hitler ad thing is going nuts. You remember my talking about MoveOn's Bush in 30 Seconds contest? The one where 1500 people submitted 30-second anti-Bush spots, and MoveOn's member base voted on them? Well, among the 1500 entries, there were obviously some really godawful ones, including two making connections between George Bush and Adolph Hitler. Now, it's well known that in all arguments, someone will eventually bring up Hitler. It's a Usenet convention that when Hitler finally does enter the thread, the argument is over, and whoever brought Der Fuhrer up loses. Anyway, the point is, the comparision is stupid as all hell, and the ads ended up with an average rating of about 1.2 out of 5. But for whatever reason, the media has latched on to these ads as if they meant something, following the prodding of RNC chief Ed Gillespie and Abraham Foxman of the ADL (ever-vigilant for anything he can call anti-Semetic.) At the moment, Google News lists 40 articles on the controversy, sourced not only from the expected right-wing organs, but from established members of the "Liberal Media". The SF Chronicle's AP Report and the Toronto Star's editorial are two of the better ones. I just can't figure out where the fire is. 1500 ads were submitted by anyone who wanted to submit an ad. Some of them were patently offensive. They died in the first round. Sounds like democracy in action to me.

As to the ones that did make it on to the, I like some, and others I don't. One of my personal favorites (a collage of various service and industrial jobs being performed by small children, ending with the question of who is going to pay off the Bush Debt) made it, while another one (an earnest-looking guy talking about his troubles but expressing his confidence that the president was working on them, while subtitles revealed reasons why this man ought to put his faith elsewhere) did not. Most of the really shrill ones got killed, thankfully, but far too much triteness got through. Too many of these spots would just piss off Bush supporters rather than get them thinking. Well, it's up to the pros now to pick the winner. Hopefully they'll remember not to preach to the choir with this thing. Either way, though, this was a great and successful experiment in direct citizen action. Hopefully it's a sign of more to come.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Jimmy Breslin of Newsday points out, in reference to the widespread condemnation of Howard Dean for his "old-fashioned notion" that Osama bin Laden should be tried before he is sentenced, that the Nazis all received fair trials at Nuremburg. Breslin quotes attourney David Greenfield on the matter: "This is insanity. I thought everybody knew that no matter how high the crime or the criminal, the punishment phase always must follow the trial. These people, they want off with his head and we'll see if he's fit to stand trial."

Friday, January 02, 2004

The intersection of religion and politics really bothers me. Not necessarily because I disagree with anything they're saying, but because the way they say it makes me cringe. From the public sanctimony of GWB and Joe Lieberman to the newfound faux-religiousity of Howard Dean, these guys just don't get it. They think religion is an all-or-nothing propostion. They think the world is split into pure secularists and religious fanatics, and they pick a side and then try to "reach out" to the other. Folks, it don't work that way. Any of these guys would benefit mightily from a high school level World Religion course. Maybe then they could see that "religion" is not some monolithic concept that you're either a part of or not. My guess here is that your average voter (not all of them, but certainly enough of them) isn't so much interested in having a President who shares their faith as having a President who understands and respects their faith. I think if a guy could walk into a church, mosque, synagogue or buddhist temple at will and discuss how their plans relate to the tenets of that faith, he'd be pretty much irresistable, despite the fact that such a candidate would obviously not be a believer in most, if not all, of those faiths. It seems to me that more people would vote for the candidate who they knew was willing to look at things from their perspective and disagree than the candidate who splits the world into us versus them. You can try to keep everybody happy by constantly shifting the bounds of "us" to fit whoever you're talking to, but eventually you have to fix the lines, or the press and the public will do it for you. Once those lines are carved in stone, it is is well-near guaranteed that compared to "them", your "us" will be a puny group indeed. It's just a matter of whether you picked a better one than the other fellow.