Wednesday, June 29, 2005

For what it's worth...

Here's a survey you can take if you're the author of a web log. I don't think I have that big a readership yet, but for anyone who does link here and does write for a blog, please do the survey. It's painless.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Happy Moment

So I'm at the local library a few weeks ago, where I hang out sometimes. I used to volunteer there and got to know a lot of the people, so I still go around and talk to them - and check out what books they have for sale.

Well, I'm in the children's department with a stackful of books. I put them down on a table and talk to the librarian in there, and we're chatting away. Problem is, I had placed my stack right in front of the sign-up forms used for their summer reading program, blocking them off.

So a family with two sons comes in there and reaches around my stack - except the older boy, about ten, who picks up one of the books and starts glancing at it. This, in and of itself, makes my day, to see a kid who wants to read and isn't forced into it. I pick up my books and tell the kid that he can look at that book all he wants to.

But it gets better. I move my books over and sit by the librarian's computer, where she has a Harry Potter screensaver running. He comes by and gives me the book back, sees the screensaver, and oohs and aahs over it, naming the scenes and what book they came from. We discuss the books, guessing where we think they're going. (For the record, I feel that either Ron or Hermione will die in the 6th book, setting up a very dark conclusion. However, my backup bet is on Dumbledore.)

As we discuss, he says to me, "You know that some churches want to get Harry Potter out of the libraries?" And here, I get really, really careful. Not only do I know of that, I know personally one lady who attempted to get them removed from the school library where her children attended, two others who feel that reading the series is unholy, and have met several who forbid their kids to read the Harry Potter books on religious grounds in general. (Not only do I live in a red state, I live in a very religious one at that.)

So, I say, "I've heard that."

And he says, "That's just stupid. I mean, what do they think, I'm going to finish reading one and believe in spells and want to be a wizard?"

I still smile when I think of it.

The truth? UN-American!

So a recent survey says that many Americans feel the media is too critical of the United States.

And only 47% of them feels the press helps democracy, while 33% says it hurts it.

The survey didn't ask for examples, but I would have loved to hear some. Too critical? Yes, that was a BIG problem when it came to the media swallowing and regurgitating all the Bush people's spin about Iraq's WMD state. Real critical there, wasn't it? Or how about the fact it took some major drumbeating by blogs to get the media to cover the Downing Street Memos? Or the way that Bush and co. routinely twist and lie about science they don't agree with, and the media has mostly shrugged its shoulders and goes along with it? Or how about the way they twist and lie about Social Security, and the claims just get put in news reports without any indication that, hey, this isn't true? For every story that shows the truth, as the above links do, there are tens of them that don't. This is too critical?

I do have to agree with the 33%, though. Given the way our media is, it isn't doing any favors to democracy by being the sensationalism-seeking, whitewashing, celebrity fetishing, fluff writing behemoth it is. It's becoming the National Enquirer with a higher pedigree and less obviously made-up stories.

The Daily Howler (linked to on my blogroll on right) almost every day shows several cases where the media just doesn't do its job, ranging from bad stories and facts printed by the MSM to talk shows hosts and spokesmen who can't be bothered to know the stories they're talking about. It's a disquieting look at an industry that appears to be rotting away from the inside.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Christian Democrat...IS that POSSIBLE??

One of the things that's annoyed me the most in our current era of politics is how the Republicans/conservatives have annexed religion. The basic idea is that if you're a Christian, you almost by genetic edict HAVE to be a Republican/conservative. Morons like Falwell and Robertson have made this point over and over again, even stating it's the responsibility of Christians to get Republicans in office.

Horse manure.

Now it seems some websites have started up in rebellion to this idea, to try and mute Dobson's Focus on the Family and Perkins's Family Research Council. Here's the links:

As Jim Wallis, the evangelical Christian behind the Sojourners, said: "God isn't a Democrat or a Republican." and "Since when did believing in God and moral values make you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican?"

This agnostic says amen to that.

Rove's Rabidity: Day 2

Well, here's a shock - Scott McClellan says the White House won't ask Rove for an apology over his slurs, and Ken Mehlman states "what Karl Rove said was true". Pretty much what we expected, so let's see how the right/Republicans are handling Rove's remarks and the flak raised by them.

1.)One of the memes circulating around some right blogs is that Rove never said "Democrats". He said "liberals". Therefore, the Democrats have misunderstood and are making much ado about nothing. (this seems to be a favorite tactic of the right, to twist and turn language into positions it wasn't meant to be in. See "Fixed means something different in Britain than it does in America" in reference to the Downing Street Memos.)

BUT: Look at his entire speech. Here's some excerpts, from the transcript at The Carpetbagger Report.

Let me end where I began. Forty years ago, Lyndon Baines Johnson, a proud liberal, won the Presidency in a landslide. His party held 68 Senate seats; 295 House seats; and 33 governorships.


These facts underscore how much progress has been made in four decades. It has been a remarkable rise. But it is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party — in this case, the Democrat Party — when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieve the common good. We need to learn from our successes — and from the failures of the other side and ourselves. As the governing movement in America, conservatives cannot grow tired or timid. We have been given the opportunity to govern; now we have to show we deserve the trust of our fellow citizens.


For decades, liberals were setting the agenda, the pace of change, and the visionary goals. Conservatives were simply reacting to them. But times change, often for the better — and this President and today's conservative movement are shaping history, not trying to stop it. Together we are articulating a compelling vision of a better world — and I am grateful to all of you who are making that better world a reality.

(the last two are at the end of a compare and contrast section b/t liberalism and conservatism and all italics were added)

It appears Mr. Rove is equating Democrats with liberals. Therefore, the shots at liberals are indeed shots at Democrats. There may be an argument that he didn't come out and say it, but I'm sorry, that's the level of "It depends on what the meaning of "is" is." It is reasonable to infer from his statements that he meant Democrats and liberals as one term. If he didn't, don't blame the listeners, blame the speechwriter - and has he SAID he was misunderstood?

Here's another quote that's more explicit in the co-mingling of terms:

Has there been a more revealing moment this year than when Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, speaking on the Senate floor, compared what Americans had done to prisoners in our control at Guantanamo Bay with what was done by Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot — three of the most brutal and malevolent figures in the 20th century?

Let me put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts to the region the words of Senator Durbin, certainly putting America's men and women in uniform in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.

No matter how you cut it, Mr. Rove's remarks were not as separated as his groupies try to claim. He directly connected liberals and Democrats - explicitly in the case of Senator Durbin.

2.)"There must be something to the remarks, or else they wouldn't be so upset!" Please. I thought only stunted bullies in grade school resorted to this line of argument - or perhaps they forgot how defensive they were about Bush's National Guard service?

3.)"Why are the Democrats defending, Michael Moore, etc.?" Well, two points - again, the connection was implicitly mostly, explicitly in one case between Democrats and liberals, so he was attacking much more than the names mentioned.

But more importantly, why shouldn't people defend, Michael Moore and etc.? What's the underlying argument here - people who disagree with what we believe are putting soldiers in danger, are weak, are wimps? What kind of cement brained logic is this? The Democrats should defend these people for the fact that, last time I checked, you were allowed to hold different opinions from the government and not be accused of putting soldiers in danger!

4.)"It's just politics, and didn't Dean do the same thing?"

Dean did a pale imitation of the same thing, for one thing. And some Democrats came out and voiced their problems with his comments. Has any Republicans come out and said anything against Rove?

And this isn't politics - it's rabidness. What Rove said and what Joe Wilson said are only set apart because Wilson explicitly said "Democrats." Again, the face of the Republican party.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


As I said in one of my earlier posts, I'm not exactly comfortable with what Dean has said about the Republicans. I was leery of it, feared it showed he spoke before he thought, and gave away sound bites.

I still am. But if I was leery of what Dean said, imagine what this spoken excrement made me feel:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,"

"Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Karl Rove, the senior political advisor to Bush, belched those words. Wait, those slurs and accusations not enough for you? How about this one:

"is just inconceivable and truly incorrigible that in the midst of the war, that the Democratic leaders would be conducting guerrilla warfare on American troops..."

Joe Wilson uttered this accusation. And then he went on to say:

"The American taxpayer is already providing accommodations for detainees, who are currently more comfortable than most of our men and women in uniform..."

He's referencing Durbin's comments, where he (Durbin) mentions a FBI report about a prisoner who was shackled for twenty-four hours, and urinated and defecated all over himself. I don't think Mr. Wilson honestly believes the American soldiers aren't allowed freedom of movement of or bathroom facilities, so I can only guess he's rock-stupid, a liar, or both.

The face of the Republican Party, folks. Right there. Here's the test to watch out for - who will come out and condemn these statements on the Republican side? At least some Dems raised a cry when Dean made his VASTLY more innocuous comments - which Republicans will come out and decry these vile, disgusting, asinine, venomous attacks?

And the most frightening question - will anyone?

Wait a minute

After Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, a few magazine articles mentioned the reasoning that his strict theology would be a benefit to Catholicism, since it's the more strict religions that are increasing memberships and the looser ones that are not. The general reasoning was that people wanted their religion to stand for something, not for everything.

However, in two separate articles on back-to-back days in my local paper, I saw that the Southern Baptists - a fundamentalist, strict church - have had five straight years of declining baptisms, which is a requirement of church membership. This seems to say that a fairly large, strict church is in fact losing memberships, the opposite of the general theories being bounced around. I think we'll have to wait and see for a few years what happens to the Catholics, but I am not hopeful. I think it'll just take one more implosion in the sex scandals for people to be reminded that Cardinal Ratzinger soft-pedaled the abuse and felt it was being blown out of proportion. When you add this to his moves to shut down opposition voices, well... I don't think you can be too happy.

A Sad Achievement

I'm a cynic; I freely admit it. Like Harlan Ellison says, "I love humans - it's the human race I can't stand." So I always feel that no matter how low some person goes, someone else will manage to get out a shovel, a pick and a jackhammer and go lower.

However, I had imagined that John Edward, the fake psychic, had managed to claim the tarnished crown with regards to using 9/11. He achieved this by announcing he would have a pay-per-view special where he would contact the victims. (He also managed to grab a place of dishonor in the Terri Schiavo ordeal, when Fox News interviewed him to see how Terri was feeling. As my wife pointed out, "Doesn't that mean she's dead already?" However, even allowing for the logical gaps, we must be impressed that he managed to ooze his way onto the dishonor list, given the high pedigree and low decency of people already on it. Social climbing for slime.)

My faith in humanity's bottom seeking should have been firmer. Now, Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham has made a bold move to take that crown, stating: "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center,"..."Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

The amendment that Dukie wants to Ouija the 9/11 victims about? Flag burning. If you feel cold, it's the rush of spirits racing over to Dukie's house to smash the vases and vomit pea soup everywhere.

Oh, and about Dukie's house? There's some controversy about it - like how DID one of his major campaign supporters overpay for Dukie's old house by some 750,000 dollars? And why are they helping to pay for his new housing? It do make you wonder don't it? Talking Points Memo has been all over this story.

Maybe Dukie's hoping the uproar about his comment will overshadow his real estate dealing.

Of Site Changes and Marriages...

I've often said I have the perfect marriage - mainly because I married the perfect woman. But in addition to her beauty, her intelligence, her sweetness and her patience in putting up with me, we complement each other in many different ways. One of which is how we handle doing new stuff.

I jump right in and just start doing it. Instructions manuals are used for basic setup, and then it's time for, "Ooooh, what does THIS button do?" So when I set up this blog I just learned the basics and started to type, which has been good so far. But there is a lot more I could have been doing.

Enter the smart, beautiful, sweet, patient wife. She's going through blogspot's instructions and seeing all the bells and whistles that I can do. So hopefully, with her help, I'll be doing some new stuff on here - a counter, some polls, and other things..

I did manage add the blogroll over there on the left on my own, under the blogger image. (Hopefully with the queen's help, I'll be able to make it better soon.) The sites listed are the ones I go to every day, and often more than once. I hope you check them out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What claim? Oh, THAT claim...

The Clintons seem able to raise their detractors to heights only reached by the truly paranoid. Bill and Hillary have been accused of murder, stock fraud, and probably child cannibalism as well.

There's a new book out that sets a low standard for smears - it claims Hillary's a lesbian and Bill raped Hillary, which resulted in her pregnancy with Chelsea. Ed Klein is the author and has caught a lot of flack for it, but at least he has the courage of his convictions and good sources.

Oh wait - he doesn't.

A Form of Nobility

Let's start this missive by stating what should be obvious: Defending something or someone does not equal acceptance or approval of that thing or person. In today's hyper-patriotic culture of "with us or against us" any form of defense for something held to be "bad" (or criticizing any action considered to be "good") is taken as proof positive of some deep flaw in your character. "Right answer, wrong subject," in my opinion. In other words, look in the mirror...

Once again the feel-good Amendment to ban flag-burning is skipping its way up the Congressional ladder. Usually, the more demagogic House has been the one to pass it and the slightly more mature Senate has been the one to be sane. But now, with Republicans out to prove they love their country more than the next person (even if most of them couldn't be bothered to fight for it when they had the chance) being in control of the Senate, the chance is good that the bill will be passed, at which point the states will vote on it - and it will most likely pass.

I'm against it. It's trying to legislate patriotism, something that never worked in states that could throw you in jail for not being patriotic enough. The flag is a symbol of our country. Some people don't like our country, and therefore don't like the flag. So they burn it. Some burn it to be cool, or rebellious. This upsets other people who do love our country, and some of these people are so offended by it that they want the flag to be declared sacrosanct. (In other words, they're like the people who are so offended by religion that they protest things like people wearing crosses in government buildings - what they don't like should be banned.)

But it's just a symbol, folks. You can't force people to like the country behind the flag by refusing to allow them to burn the flag. It don't work like that. If you could force people to like things by forcing them to do it, or not like stuff by forcing them not to do it, Shakespeare would always be a bestseller even to this day and the drug war would have been a knockout in the second round. Passing this Amendment won't do a blessed thing but allow some people to pat themselves on the back - and sadly, point to people who opposed it and call them unpatriotic.

But isn't the point of having ideals and beliefs defending actions that are allowed by your ideals and beliefs, but are ones that you don't agree with?

Captain Preston was the man in charge of the British Soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. He was tried for murder in October, 1770. One of the men who defended him was John Adams - you may have heard of him, second President of the United States. He got off. A few months later, the soldiers themselves were on trial, and again John Adams was one of the men who defended them, and again they went acquitted. Nowadays, this would have been enough to recommend censure, have him vilified by the press and talk radio, be called a traitor, and what have you. But he did it, because he believed them to be innocent. He was all for independence, but also saw that these men weren't guilty.

On a much less important level, my own experience. When I was in high school, the whole 2 Live Crew cuss-fest happened. For those of you who can't remember, 2 Live Crew was a rap band whose main accomplishment was rapping - badly - about sex. Badly. These guys could make teenagers turn into monks from their rhymes. Broward county, in Florida, declared them obscene, arrested a record store clerk for selling the album "As Nasty As They Want To Be", and also arrested the band for a concert at a local store.

I had heard the album, and it was bad. Awful. Not even funny-bad, but bad bad. It's wasn't even my kind of music to begin with - I preferred, and still prefer, loud music. (In fact, as I type this I'm listening to System of a Down, and Microsoft Media Player says I would also like Ashlee Simpson, No Doubt and Kelly Clarkson. I hope they code better then they recommend...) The only reason these 2 Live Crew sold so many albums was because of all the fuss raised about them; a lesson which has STILL not taken hold. But I argued against the actions of Florida because, hey, to me they were wrong. I wouldn't have bought the album if you had paid me to do so, and never listened to it when it wasn't in my friend's tape player and he wouldn't turn it off, but declaring it obscene was the wrong act to do and I had to argue against it.

It's very easy to hold your beliefs and ideals when you never find yourself defending something you personally don't like. It's harder to do so when it IS something you don't like but you feel should be allowed, and it's more noble. Your ideals hold above your personal likes and dislikes. Flag burning should fall under this category, and should be allowed. But in today's world, it's more important to wrap yourself in the flag instead of following what it stands for.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How True

The only thing I would add to this post by Brendan Nyhan is the open collusion for political gains of the religious right and the conservatives. Religion does have its place in public policy, and people can be moved to do things for religious reasons. However, when they begin to view people who are not for their actions as evil, or heathens, or what have you, religion ceases to be a guide and becomes a dividing line, where everyone on the other side is wrong by defintion, and any hope of compromise goes out the window. Terri Schiavo leaps to mind, and the attempts to remove jurisdiction from Federal courts over the "Pledge of Alleigiance" case, and the introduced bills to state "God is the source of our laws" - which must surprise those who felt the people were.

In A Puritanical World

Lack of a smoking gun the smoking gun

From Satire News Service (SNS)

Today, a jury of his peers specially selected by Jeb Bush, Tony Perkins and Charles Dobson convicted Michael Schiavo with an unanimous count of 3-0. "I didn't even need to hear the evidence", stated jury member Jeb T. Dobson, "It was a clear case of murder. Even if it took us six tries to convict him."

Michael, who had been previously been five times before arrested on suspicion of murder due to getting the time he called 911 wrong in an interview in two interviews 11 years apart, not crying enough when he talked about Terri, refusing to admit he killed Terri, still refusing to admit he killed Terri, and "just because", was arrested this latest time for committing the perfect murder.

"The fact that the autopsy showed no evidence of abuse means he must have killed her leaving no evidence," says Bernie McCabe, prosecuting attorney. "After all, we can't be wrong so many times, can we?"

Court Reporter Francis Kafka was instructed not to take any notes in the trial, as a moneysaving measure by Jeb Bush ("paper and ink cost money you know"), but we were able to get some statements from people involved.

The trial was one of the fastest recorded, perhaps to due the odd findings by judge Jarles T. Perksonush that Michael would not be allowed an attorney in defense "since he'd had one so many times before" and that Michael would be bound and gagged in the courtroom "for fear he'd add perjury to his list of crimes - not that we've prejudged this."

After a list of all the findings that vindicated Michael, McCabe then asked, "How else could he have had so much evidence exonerating him - unless he had planted it? Gentlemen of the jury, the fact there is no smoking gun proves what a vile and clever murderer Michael is - he did it in such a way that no proof was left behind!" Bernie McCabe, who leaves for his new job in Jeb Bush's government next week, was glad he could "end his career on a victory so long in coming."

Randell Terry, a witness for the prosecution, states he wasn't there when Terri was killed, "...but if I would have been, I could have seen how he did it. How clever Michael was to not have me around at the time!" Terry, who brought his own Bible to be sworn in on, also stated that even though the autopsy report showed Terri couldn't have been as aware and feeling as he and others had claimed, "We all know science has been wrong before. Unlike me and the members of the jury."

Another jury member, Tony J. Dobson, mentioned that he was really glad they looked into the fact there was no evidence against Michael. "I feel that was a significant question that was overlooked - he was just too innocent to be innocent."

Charles T. Bush, the last member of the jury, says that, "While it was important for us to go into this trial with an open mind, it was more important that we get the bastard for what he did - even if he was so good at it to leave us no proof."

Michael Schiavo was dragged to a jail cell somewhere in the state of Florida. He was not available to be interviewed, but the members of the jury say he confessed the murder after the conviction was read, screaming through his gag of his guilt and remorse. "At least, that was what WE got."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

In A Perfect World

Opponents Apologize to Michael Schiavo
"We allowed our beliefs to overshadow our thinking"


The final autopsy report on Terri Schiavo was made public today, showing she had massive and irreversible brain damage. Her brain was just half of its normal size, and her vision centers had dissolved away, making her unable to respond to visual stimuli, contrary to the tapes shown often in the news. In addition, there was no evidence of physical abuse, contrary to claims made by several opponents of removing the feeding tube. The response has been overwhelming.

In a public press conference, many of the major people who had led the opposition to the removal of the feeding tube stepped forward and offered apologies to Michael Schiavo.

James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council stood at the microphone together, with shaved heads and wearing sackclothes and ashes. "We acted shamefully in the matter in attacking Mr. Schiavo," stated Mr. Dobson, weeping tears of regret. "We went over the bounds of decency and civility. We allowed our beliefs - what we thought was true - to overshadow our thinking. We wholeheartedly and completely apologize." He was then overcome by racking sobs and pounded his chest.

"I want to state for the record all my accusations of Mr. Schiavo were totally wrong," stated Mr. Perkins, with red eyes. "I repudiate all of them, and everyone in my organization who made them. We were wrong," he stated slowly and emphatically. He and Mr. Dobson then announced that all the money raised during the Terri Schaivo fight would be taken and split in two, with half to go to Michael Schiavo and the other half to go for an equal amount of media coverage of their apologies as there was of their accusations.

Next at the microphone was Senator Bill Frist, who was one of the U.S. Congress leaders in the fight to intervene in the Schaivo case. "Firstly, let me state that as of now I resign my medical practice," he stated, ceremonially ripping his medical degree into pieces. "I can no longer claim to be a doctor when faced with the fact that I stated Ms. Schiavo was as alive as any of us, a claim clearly contradicted by the autopsy. I made a claim that should have resulted in my removal from the medical profession for sheer incompetence in less than five minutes." There was a pause as he regained control.

"I would like to offer my sincere apologies to Florida, for bringing federal involvement in a state case that had been rightly decided multiple times. I have no excuse. I hereby resign my post of Senate Majority Leader in favor of someone - anyone - who can act with more restraint and decorum."

Representative Tom DeLay said, "I am resigning also, in light of my foolish and inexcusable comments about the judges in the Florida and Federal courts. I have no words to express my sincere regret and embarrassment over my actions."

Randell Terry, the leader of Operation Rescue, was next. He read from a prepared statement.

"The final findings in this case shows all of us to have been wrong, to a most foolish degree, both in our accusations of Michael Schiavo and our actions. We have been shown to be nothing more than people who grab at spotlights for our own gain and glory." He broke down in sobs and could no longer finish reading. Later on, he announced that he would, as an act of penance, go from state to state carrying the autopsy report on a cross on his back.

Jeb Bush closed out the conference, with a Florida deputy at his side. "In light of the fact that there had been no abuse, and also with the fact that Terri Schiavo was indeed as medically injured as the reports had said, my actions in ordering the Florida police to seize her from her nursing home cannot be seen as anything more than an egregious coup de etat. I place myself under arrest, awaiting both impeachment and criminal charges." The deputy than handcuffed Governor Bush, who was led to the back of a police car.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On Dean

Okay, to start, I actually like Howard Dean. I thought he would be a better candidate than Kerry (yes, the "Taller than Mickey Rooney" award) mainly because there would be a definite choice between Bush and Dean. That impression was solidified throughout the lackadaisical campaign Kerry ran - imagine Dean not responding to a charge akin to the Swifties idjits, for example. HOW he would have responded may have been bad, but there would have been a response, all right.

Since I like him, I wasn't too worried when he won the DNC chair. I thought it would be worthwhile for the Dems to have someone who would fire back at the Republicans when they made some of their "with us or against us" statements. And I admit that on a visceral level, I even like some of his comments that have drawn ire recently - Tom DeLay ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence,", and the Republicans being a "white, Christian party." (By the way, the whole quote give some context: Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party." However, see below.)

So I'm not ready to demand he step down, nor am I that worried yet. (As Media Matters notes, Democratic contributions have been rising, contrary to what many in the media have said.) But there are some qualms.

Firstly, even granted some visceral pleasure that the Republicans are finally getting hit by some of the same stuff they throw (for example, Frist and Justice Sunday), it's still something that unnerves me. Politics is degenerating into a shouting match rather than a debate, and while I like the fact that the Democrats aren't being mute, I wish that they could be the voice of reason in the mob rather than the mob on a different side.

(Unspoken fear: Not only is this what the Democrats will become, be it under Dean or whoever, it's the only thing that will work. After all, the Republicans have mostly been this way for some time and have managed to win elections fairly regularly. I have trouble thinking of serious initiatives the Republicans have put forth that hasn't been rife with snarls, snaps and just churlish behavior. See Sensenbrenner for one of the latest scenes.)

Secondly, Dean's statements are just gold nuggets for the next campaign. I live in a Republican state, and I can hear one of the next ads: "Dean says the Republican party is a white, Christian party. We proudly admit we're Christian - what does that make THEM?" And the Democrats will have very little room to complain here. So even if it scores points in the short run, it will be used against them in the long run.

Thirdly ties in with the above - the statements he makes seems to show that he speaks first and thinks later. Surely there was a better way to make the point that the Republicans are fairly monolithic in terms of makeup, for example, instead of giving the next sound bite away. (And as I sit and try to write one, I find it's not so easy as all that...but to my mind, my attempts ("The Republicans seem to be pretty much the same, don't they?" or "It seems like you must meet certain requirements to be a Republican in their power structure." for example) at least aren't so obviously soundbite friendly.)

As I said above, the horrible thing is Dean may be exactly what the Democrats need in this political environment. It's bringing in the money, for one thing. It seems that reasoned debate and good facts can be swept away by hyperbole and insults, and if Dean can at least bring us to the table using that method...well, is that a good thing or a bad one?

I don't know.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


From The Carpetbagger Report, this article:

" One abstinence program, for example, tells teens they should "be prepared to die" if they use condoms because the contraceptives are likely to slip off or break..."

What kinda condoms are they using?

NITRO BRAND - Have a Bang!


Containing a tradition of closing their eyes and covering their ears when facts trump ideology, the Bush Admin. again edited out those annoying facts and adjusted phrasing in papers about global warming.

The culprit with the black highlighter this time was Philip A. Cooney. Brace yourself for a shock - he used to be a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. Brace yourself for ANOTHER shock - he has no scientific experience and yet somehow is now the Chief of Staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality! How DO you suppose he got THAT job??

Mr. Cooney inserted words like "extremely" and "significant and fundamental" before any expression of uncertainty or qualifications. He also decided that a paragraph about the projected reduction of glaciers and snowpack just shouldn't be there - must have dragged down the plot or something. Here's a paragraph from the article to show how Mr. Cooney tilted the words:

Mr. Cooney's alterations can cause clear shifts in meaning. For example, a sentence in the October 2002 draft of "Our Changing Planet" originally read, "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change." In a neat, compact hand, Mr. Cooney modified the sentence to read, "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."

Cardinal Ballarmine's groupies - excuse me, the Bush Admin. once again shows that when it comes to science, there are no facts that matters less than those they disagree with. Chris Mooney - whose blog I visit daily - has a book coming out about this and other Republican evasions of the truth when it goes against ideology. Check it out, and pre-order it.

Too little, too late

So now, after the election and accusations, Kerry releases his military records. No smoking gun in them at all, of course - contrary to what the Swift Boat Veterans of Deceit had to say.

So why in the hell did he wait so long? Some people, like this person (hat tip: Eschaton) says it wouldn't have mattered if he did - SBVs and their crawling ilk would have demanded more and more and more. There is some truth to this - after the Navy had looked at the medal citations and declared them factual (which should have, at least, tamped down the fire a bit) the accusations went on and on anyway.

BUT - the fact that the records were out there would have made a difference to people who hadn't made up their minds to begin with. Without the records, some people on the fence - the ones who hated Bush and didn't like Kerry - may have been persuaded to just skip voting, since Bush was awful but Kerry was hiding something. This is all guesswork - I haven't analyzed voting patterns or anything. It seems right though - this was a close election, mandate claim idiocy notwithstanding, and if just a few people would have known SBV were liars being embraced by Republicans...that could have made a difference. There's also the fact that when people continue to cling to beliefs in spite of all evidence against them, they tend to look rather insane, so if the SBV had continued to scream about Kerry's military record when it was out there, they would have quickly been ranked w/the Flat Earthers. Here's a case in point, from the above link.

So why did Kerry wait? His claim that he didn't want to sink to the level of the people demanding the records rings false, since I don't feel he would have accepted that claim from Bush and the NG records flap. Maybe it was because he likes being able to say "Told you so!" and get some vicarious relief later. Maybe it was to bring down the SBVs and show them to be at best grossly misinformed and at worst liars supreme. Maybe he's an idiot. Maybe he didn't feel the press would treat these records accurately. There is some fairness in that claim - here's the records that show the SBV claims made against him weren't factual, and what does AOL and CNN highlight? The transcripts that show he and Bush did about the same in college.

To me, though, not releasing them sums up Kerry's campaign - on a par with Dole's as worst modern campaign. Bush should thank God he only had to deal with Kerry in this election - someone competent would have destroyed him.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bolton, Bolton, he's our man!

He'll get you fired as fast as anyone can!

You may recall one of the reasons the Democrats held up the confirmation hearing for Bolton was to - again - ask that certain documents about him be released. The White House said this was "delaying", and slightly whispered the now-anathema word filibuster.


It comes out today that one of the accusations leveled against Mr. Bolton - that he tried to fire people who didn't agree with him - is true. As Democrats had claimed for a while, and as those papers being held back may help prove, Bolton has at least once engineered the removal of someone whose opinion didn't match his own. Making it worse, this person was making moves to prevent the invasion of Iraq. The removal was later condemned as an "unacceptable violation" of principles protecting international civil servants - which does lead one to wonder what these principles are. To add fuel to the firing, this happened two weeks after Blair agreed to help Bush invade Iraq in 2002.

Bolton has at least once done what people were accusing him of doing. The White House should release those papers it's holding back to let Congress - and us - see if there is any other things in there that would be important.

Hey, guys, you still messed up

With the usual Friday dumping of bad news from the Bush Admin (done so b/c supposedly people don't look at Saturday's paper/watch news, so the bad news won't have an immediate impact) comes the news that some soldiers did abuse the Koran, although not by flushing it down the toilet. Many people seem to see this as an exoneration of Newsweek's original story.

I don't think so.

Saying you got the essence of the argument right, but the facts wrong, is still a wrong argument. (for example, isn't that what the argument about Iraq switched to once it became clear there were no WMDs? "He would have eventually gotten them...") You aren't allowed to say that because something similar happened, that makes your wrong story okay. Newsweek still blew it big time, and needs to get better.

By the same token, the Bush Admin's holier-than-thou attitude towards Newsweek took a giant knock. Acting as though nothing at all was wrong with how the soldiers were acting, and now having to retreat not so gracefully, was a big misstep - something that seems to be more common in the second term. Fatigue setting in already?

Friday, June 03, 2005

He was just misunderstood

Some of the funniest cartoon strips I read was just after Nixon's death, when every paper and commentator gave him a respectable and laudatory sendoff. Now, there is nothing wrong per se with that, and the man did do a lot of good in many areas - to take one example, foreign affairs. We need a man with his talents now badly. However, in all the tripping speech and fulsome praise, Mr. Nixon's baser acts were given short shrift. It was almost like reading the obituary of a man who loved his mother, wife, neighbors, gave to charities and attended church faithfully, pet stray dogs lovingly, and never cursed. Then the last sentence reads, "If not for the two people John Smith killed while driving drunk, he would indeed have been the perfect man."

Well, Gerry Trudeau found some humor in it, and went back and dug up his Watergate strips, blotting out the original line and replacing it with a more kind one. After a list of Nixon's misdeeds that originally ended with the line, "If he'd only knock over a bank, we'd have him!", now came the line, "BOY, he's an original guy!"

With W. Mark Felt coming out as Deep Throat, the right wing of the party is in full-on Doonesbury mode. Felt is the villain, Nixon - why, Mr. Nixon was just a great ol'guy! Didn't do nothing wrong besides lie (which, apparently, was viewed much worse under Clinton). You know, people who took him out, they're responsible for the of Vietnam and Cambodia! (Which must make Gingrich et al. responsible for al Qaeda.)

Oh well. Read The Moderate Voice's post on this, and watch how he eviscerates one of the revisionists, Ms. Noonan. Keep in mind that while some people yapping are on the outskirts of the Reps - Buchanan, Liddy - Ms. Noonan and Ben Stein are usually viewed as in the mainstream.

Also keep in mind that Nixon was indeed guilty of, at the very very least, ordering a coverup. The columnists singing his praise now don't even bother to mention that in the last sentence.

LATER THOUGHTS: This column by David Broder makes excellent points. (Hat tip: The Moderate Voice) The attitude of "loyalty above legality" still holds firm for many of the Watergate convicts and alums, to the exculsion of reality. Here's a tip, guys - when you have to retreat to the old adage, "My side right or wrong", you're usually arguing about something that's considered WRONG in the first place.