Sunday, November 27, 2005

True Believers Need No Logic

One of the things that scare me the most about fanatical believers of ALL stripes is the way any contradictions in their actions are excused offhand. See religious people who believe it's okay to kill abortion providers, Muslims who kill women and children as prohibited in Hadeeth, and sports fans who scream about fouls against their team but call the other team crybabies when THEY complain about fouls.

I've also written that the Republican party seems to be falling into this abyss, what with the redefinition of perjury, sliding standards for outrage, and things like that. And Brendan Nyhan brings up another excellent example:

Early in his speech, Johnson offered the standard line:
America, and the Congress, must stand behind our men and women in uniform because they stand up for us every minute of every day.
Any talk, even so much as a murmur, of leaving now just emboldens the enemy and weakens the resolve of our troops in the field. That is dangerous. If you do not believe me, check out al Jazeera. The withdrawal story is on the front page. We cannot do that to our fellow Americans over there.
It takes incredible chutzpah to say that "even so much as a murmur" about withdrawal "emboldens the enemy" after Johnson's own party introduced a resolution designed to forced a debate over withdrawal.

Rules and logic are different for true believers. They only exist for the other side. Also note the argument that the withdrawal story being carried by al Jazeera is "dangerous". Does that mean now that there are indications that the Bush people want to draw down troops, if al Jazeera carries THIS news, it's dangerous? Or will that be different?

I see the next press secretary!

Brendan Nyhan, an invaluable blogger, destroys yet some more misleading claims.

Given the source, should we be shocked? Perhaps a better question to be asked is: When people have to stretch the facts this much to justify some claim, how weak are the real facts?

Careful what you wish for

So, Kansas wants IDiocy taught? No problem!

For all those wanting a cheat sheet to this course, here it is:

If there is a gap in knowledge, God did it. No need to look further.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster should sue for equal time.


Back before my son got sick, I posted that now I believe Bush and co. did lie about WMD intelligence. So, the next question is - do we impeach?

There are two ways Bush and co. could have lied. The first is to the public, and I don't think anyone who is honest can say they didn't. Information that was sketchy and incomplete and badly sourced and weak was presented in speeches and claims in public as solid, undenied fact. See nuclear capability, aluminum tubes, Atta meeting in Prague, links to al-Qaeda, and many more. In their P.R. campaign for war, the truth was rarely to be found. They did lie often - an exaggeration is still a lie.

The second way is a combination of pressure on intelligence agencies to come up with the "right facts" and selectively giving information out to Congress - the ultimate deciders of war declarations - to make their case more presentable. As of now, and contrary to the claims of both sides, we don't know if this was done. Bob Graham, in his editorial, says that the information had to be demanded from Tenet and when presented, revealed much more ambiguity and unsureness than admitted before. But the information was there - just unasked for by the White House for whatever reasons. (Graham also gives fairly convincing proof of the lies to the public, showing a vast disconnect between what he saw and what was shown to the public.)

The first lie is P.R., and it's especially reprehensible when used to justify a war. However, all Presidents lie when they're selling something they want done, and they lie the same way Bush and co. did - they minimize the problems, maximize the benefits, shrink the time needed for success and distort the cost. Bush and co. should be held accountable for this, and all their attempts to slither out of responsibility for their pre-war claims should be nailed. But I don't think it's an impeachable offense. The fact it was used for something so huge as the Iraqi war should always be remembered, but I don't think this can be used to impeach.

The second case could, though. If the Bush Admin. was forcing analysts to come up with information it wanted, or if they willingly lied to Congress about the intelligence, that would count. There's a vast difference between selling the points, and making up the points. This would, in my opinion, be an impeachable offense.

Now, did the Bush Admin. either force analysts or lie to Congress? Again, no one knows. The Silbermann-Robb Commission didn't look at this question at all - it wasn't in their charter. Claiming that since they found no evidence of intelligence manipulation Bush is innocent, as some on the right are, is like saying since Starr didn't find evidence of Clinton selling arms to China, Clinton's innocent there. Not quite. Simply put, this question hasn't even been looked at yet. And the way the Republicans and the White House are dragging their feet over it, it's a question whether or not it ever will be.

So as of now, I don't think there should be impeachment charges. I do think they should pay a price, but not before Congress.

(*) - from Andrew Sullivan, I found this piece, which may make impeachement charges more possible, given the fact that these PDB's refuting links between Iraq and al-Qaeda were never shown to Congress. I don't recall if that claim was made before Congress in justifaction of the war. If it was, here's some evidence of a lie.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Well, after a horrific stomach bug hitting my son that caused four trips to the doctor in a two week period, it seems like the stomach sturm und drang is finally over. It's been three days plus now that the l'il guy hasn't thrown up or had major accidents, and he's eating and being his usual hyper self. He was so sick that I willingly gave up the Alabama-Auburn game so he could watch TV instead - and down here, that game is the equivalent of Holy Mass on Easter Sunday or Jimi Hendrix coming back from the dead. (Of course, my team got stomped anyway...) Hopefully, I'll be able to gear back up the blogging now.

To everyone that checked in here, thanks, and I know you understand that real life trumps cyberlife.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sick Leave

The blogging has been less than prolific recently, and as those of you with kids can guess, it's due to illness. My apologies. When we all feel better I'll vent more.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bush Lied?

Regarding the Iraqi war, I've always said Bush and company didn't lie; they fell prey to groupthink - a case in which the "answer" to a problem is already decided, consciously or unconsciously, far ahead of any evidence shown. This results in any positive evidence for the wanted conclusion being inflated and any negative evidence being minimized.

I think I need to restate this conclusion in a few ways. It's a good time to do so, given the President's recent speech where he says, "It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," and ""These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."

Firstly, some of what the President said was, well, rewriting history. Once again, it was indirectly claimed the Silbermann-Robb Commission found there was no political manipulation of intelligence, so any claims of "misleading" is wrong, to wit:

"Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration "manipulated the intelligence" are "fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments."

This is, at best, deeply irresponsible to say and at worst a lie. Once again:

And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry." (italics added)

One of my favorite authors is Harlan Ellison. You probably know him best for writing "City on the Edge of Forever", a classic Star Trek episode. It led to a huge, public feud between him and Gene Roddenberry, because Gene continually claimed the original script was badly written and had to be saved. (There happens to be a book about this from Harlan, and if you like well written rage, check it out - but buy it through the side link please!) Now, Gene once made a claim that the episode was, as originally written, far too expensive to shoot (not true) and that Harlan had Scotty dealing drugs (also not true). Harlan, at the time attempting to make peace, contacted Gene and mentioned those facts were wrong. Gene said oops, and promised he'd not make those claims again.

He did so for the next twenty years or so.

There comes a time when a mistake morphs into a lie. Bush and the Republicans are there in the claims of vindication from the Silberman-Robb Commission. I can allow one or two errors, but continual ones means they don't want to tell the truth here. You also have to ask why they're so desperate to claim they've been cleared.

The President also claimed that Congress saw the exact same intelligence he did, and therefore any claims he and others twisted intelligence can't be true:

In the same speech, Bush asserted that "more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

Except once again, reality tells a different story:

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers.


In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE.

(italics added)

That last point is the most important. As we've seen, there were a lot of people saying the intelligence was iffy, badly sourced, and plain wrong - such as the claims of Iraq training al-Qaeda in chemical weapons, to name just one. But those doubts were not reported to Congress. So, if the person telling you information leaves out doubts about said information, he can't claim you saw the same stuff he did. When you cherry-pick what you tell people, you can fairly easily get them to vote how you want them to.

Taking this into account, and remembering how frantically people of the Administration tried to link al-Qaeda and Iraq, and how Cheney and Rice drastically overstated the nuclear reach of Iraq against the intelligence estimates, and how 9/11 was always somehow close to Iraq in all pre-war speeches, and how they are desperate to claim they've been exonerated...

I've come to the it probably started out as groupthink, and perhaps for a good defense reason overall - change in the Middle East, taking out a possible danger, what have you - but at some point it seems the people in charge decided to make sure everyone thought they way they did through misdirection, selective presentation of intelligence, falsely dramatic claims, and using intelligence they knew was weak. The mistakes, possibly innocently, made at the beginning have now evolved into a lie to justify the mistakes. They chose to present intelligence to the American people in a deceptive way, painting iffy information as rock solid. They chose to leave off doubts and questions in the information supplied to Congress. They chose to link al-Qaeda and 9/11 in all speeches about Iraq.

The groupthink turned into a lie to justify the groupthink. They've become Gene Roddenberry, misstating stuff over and over to make themselves look good.

Friday, November 11, 2005

From the Mouths of Morons

Well, Pat Robertson certainly helps the IDiot's case that IDiocy isn't about religion:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.


"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."


"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

Okay, so we have Behe stretching the definition of science so much it includes astrology to fit ID in, we've got Pat "Throw the first stone" Robertson saying a vote against IDiocy is a rejection of God, we've got the Dover school board calling the sane people who argued against the IDiocy "atheist"... it pretty obvious now that IDiocy isn't a science, but a thinly veiled (tissue thin in Patsie's case) attempt to get creationism in education?

Let's also keep in mind that Patsie, for all his stupidity and calls for assassinations, was someone reached out to by Karl Rove for opinions on Supreme Court judges. Yes, Karl thought Patsie's opinion was one to be sought out. For bonus points, which person is more stupid?

(renamed to morons b/c I saw a bunch of links looking for "boobs". I bet there are some disappointed linkers out there.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dorothy, Toto awarded professorships


Strange aftereffects seen

by Satire News Services

The Kansas State School Board has once again voted to question evolution, this time going so far as to allow for "non-natural phenomena" in scientific explanations. This is seen as a victory for the Intelligent Design movement, which had helped rewrite the proposed standards, and for also medieval recreation societies throughout the state. However, there have been some odd things happening throughout Kansas.

- Plastic surgeries have increased fivefold. "Most people are coming in here to get their moles removed," says one surgeon. "Also webbed feet and odd skin markings as well." One customer who asked not to be named gave as her reason, "Better safe than sorry."

- Residents along the border of Kansas have reported massive waves of black cats streaming out of the state in oddly straight columns as well. "They seemed to be moving with a purpose," said Ellen Baum. "Like they just wanted to get out as fast as they could." The ASPCA and Humane Society have found homes for most of the runaways.

- Many bookstores have been quietly removing some now controversial books from their shelves. "The Origin of Species...what's that?" asked one owner in response to a question from this reporter. "Sorry, never heard of it." Another store had replaced their entire science section with Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. "You figure it out," he said.

The strange effects are easily explained by the professors at the University of Kansas. "It's just the natural reaction of people opening their minds," says Uri Gellar, new professor of Physics over a light lunch. "Sometimes when people are freed from artificial boundaries, like science that can be measured and defined, odd things can happen in responses. Damn, can you get me another spoon?" Tom Cruise and John Travolta, professors of Dianetics at Kansas State University, stated in a press release that, "Everything can be explained by bad engrams. Go and see our next movies to be cured."

John Edwards, Dean of the brand new Scientific Healing, Intuition and Thaumaturgy college in Topeka offered his opinion. "What it probably is, is all the spirits that had been blocked from communicating by the "logic" and "meaning" of "science" are now overwhelming the public with their calls to be heard. I'm available to hear them for you, and a low special rate."

For everyone worried over the strange things happening, Kevin Trudeau, head of the Medical College at KSU, says everything will be fine once his new regimen of coral calcium is made mandatory.

Surprisingly enough, the kids are happy over the new standards. "How can I fail now?" asked one. "I mean, you can write ANYTHING down! Unicorns, aliens, psychic spies from China...4.0, here I come!"

The Kansas School Board issued a statement through the Discovery Institute that this would be the last modification they made to the curriculum until next year, when they will tackle making pi equal to 3 and declaring the Bible an official textbook in science classes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Churches can't have opinions

Apparently, the IRS thinks so anyway. Now, I suppose you can argue - with some justification - that a church that doesn't directly mention a candidate by name yet condemns various positions is, in fact, taking political sides, a la Rove and not mentioning Valerie Wilson by name but by everything else. Fair enough. (Of course, this does mean the Catholic Church will be checked out for their rather strict death penalty stand. Or, as Pope John Paul put it, "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady immprovement in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.")

Does this mean people like James Dobson and Tony Perkins will soon get a knock on the door for their roles in Justice Sunday 1 and 2, the anti-Democrat parade with Bible floats and 10 Commandment medallions? Pat Robertson, for his comments on his 700 Club program saying God had told him Bush would win in a blowout and "the Lord has blessed him"? How about churches handing over membership lists to the Republicans in 2004? Like the example listed for reasons of recusal below, I would argue that any of these are much more blatant.

But nah, let's go after one church for ambiguous statements. There's nothing more OBVIOUS to go after, you and the SEC.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Can we say Brown Sucked NOW???

Okay, every defender of "heckuva" Brownie out there - and there were some - explain these e-mails. "Didn't I look good?" "Yes, Brown, you sure did - all the people in New Orleans aboveground and dry said so."

Paging Marie Antoinette!

Judge Shopping

I'm of two minds of the judge swapping going on in the DeLay trial to be.

Firstly, I was a little surprised and upset at the reasoning behind the original removal - the judge had given to This was supposed to show a bias against DeLay. Well, for one, a person can give to a group for many reasons. For example, I may contribute to the ACLU for their efforts against IDiocy, yet still condemn them for other acts they do. Even ignoring this idea, how is it that a contribution is evidence of bias, yet duck hunting with a defendant in a case isn't? If "Social contacts with high-level executive officials (including Cabinet members) have never been thought improper for judges who may have before them cases in which those people are involved in their official capacity, as opposed to their personal capacity," as Scalia said in that case, how come a impersonal monetary donation IS improper? Or maybe comments from a Supreme Court judge that showed clear bias in Bush v. Gore, and Scalia's mentioning he would like to be Chief Justice and that could only happen under a Republican President, or Scalia's sons working for law firms that represented Bush, or Justice Thomas's wife e-mailing people telling them to send resumes to the Heritage Foundation for assistance of consideration for positions in the next Presidency AS Bush V. Gore was being decided? I would argue strenuously that any of these show clear bias much more so that a blanket contribution to an organization - perhaps not enough for recusal, but enough where it should have been noted and brought out and proven not to be too influencing. Had the MoveOn contribution been earmarked specifically for anti-DeLay campaigns, okay, yes. But it wasn't. Somehow, this act is more egregious in bias than any of the ones mentioned above. The back-and-forth that's developed now between the defense and the prosecution is silly in the extreme - it's a judge/jury of your peers, not one of your ideological clones.

But on the other hand, now if DeLay is convicted, it will be very interesting to see him scream about bias (which you KNOW he will). One less plank for the martyr to dance on. That's to the good.

I can't wait for some Democrat to try this maneuver and the Republicans to scream. Rest assured, both cases WILL happen. Probably sooner rather than later.

(As a side note, I still feel Bush v. Gore was a horrible decision, but I would feel the same way if it had been Gore v. Bush. For one case and one case only, standards were seen to be overridingly important - yet the second the gavel fell, no lasting effect was had. It was a one-time-only case involving something used in many other states (hand counting and no set state standards), yet only in Florida was it seen to be bad - and again, only for 2000. If it was so bad, why wasn't a standard demanded in all states, much less in Florida?)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Not too improbable


"People get well and do bad things...better they go to their judgment early."

by Satire News Service

Today, President Bush announced plans to combat the growing threat of an avian flu pandemic, calling for spending to stockpile medicines and for accelerated development of a new vaccine. The hope is to get the United States prepared for what could be a repeat of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed over 500,000 people, young and old, sick and healthy. However, in a surprisingly blistering attack, some of the President's usual allies criticized the plan.

"Who are we to interfere in God's work?" demanded Goodman H. Thumper, the spokesperson for Families Out of Focus, pounding the table with a Bible. "If there is to be a vast destruction of human life, it is God's will. Who are we to develop drugs that could cure people, even if we are perfectly able to?" The press conference was briefly interrupted when the Bible bounced off the table and smashed into Thumper's head. After he was revived, he continued his thoughts with his forehead emblazoned with PSALMS 75:4.

"People, if we dare to block God's plan, look at the consequences! Every sin the healed do is on OUR head. Every iniquity shall be our fault. When they're ill with the flu, fever spiking, limbs aching, they won't be sinning then, no sir, can I get an Amen? They will be good, and they will call to the Lord! Why should we stop this act? Try and usurp God's authority, and the people will get well and do bad things and sin and condemn themselves into the pit! No, I feel we let God be the final doctor, and if He decides so, better to let them go to their judgment early. Anyone got an aspirin, my head is killing me."

Elsewhere, Parisee J. P. Stoner, speaking for the Family Study Group, said, "I think we need to look long and hard at the consequences of making a vaccine. First of all, if we lose a good proportion of the United States's population, you've got the whole Social Security problem solved right there. Crime will go down as well. And the money we saved from not making this vaccine could be placed into several other worthwhile endeavors - fighting to keep gay marriage illegal, say, or even mandating school prayer. I know which causes God would bless, and I would hope that President Bush does as well."

The Minister Priestly "Pastor" Reverend Jr., speaking on behalf of American Family Alliance, read from a statement. "We at the AFA are opposed to the creating of a new vaccine. The virus is one of God's creature, intelligently designed and created from scratch for a purpose. Surely, He will use His creation for only good...say the killing of liberals." The statement was also signed by members of the Institute of Discovery.

President Bush said in reply that he was firm in his conviction about the vaccine, and the fact he was going to appoint these three people to lead the Center for Disease Control in no way was a denial of the need for the vaccine.

You've got to be kidding...

From Andrew Sullivan, we see that the "Christians" who presumably revere life - as long as it's attached to an umbilical cord or feeding tube, has not been found guilty and given the death penalty, or is not in a war that was launched on bad information - have decided that a vaccine for cervical cancer just isn't kosher. Apparently, these people feel that cervical cancer being drastically reduced could encourage kids to have sex. Because you know, there have been several times when the reasons "You could get AIDS", "You could get another VD", and "You could get pregnant" were blown away in the heat of passion until the teenage girl cried, "Stop! What about cervical cancer?!"

Gimme a break. What's next, eliminating anesthesia during childbirth so it can be as God intended - punishment for the fall of man?

And continuing on my comments from yesterday about the Republican party dancing to the shrill tunes of these morons, one of them has been installed at the the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC. I'm sure he's just as good as expert as everyone else on the committee - like Philip Cooney was.

The argument that a mandatory vaccine will make kids decide go and screw like bunnies just doesn't ring true. I doubt many kids even knew about cervical cancer and the link to sexual activity - as I said, I don't think it played a part in people deciding not to have sex before, the triumvirate of AIDS, VD and kids taking precedence. And this was the same argument that conservatives made about free condoms being available - isn't teen pregnancy DOWN over recent years? (Except in some Texas counties that only teach abstinence...)

The only reason these people seem to fear actually, you know, not letting people die is because in some form, fashion or fantasy it will increase teenage sex. Not necessarily pregnancy or VD rates, but teenage sex. In short, they'd rather have kids be monks and die then be active and live. Just like Jesus wanted: "Suffer the children to come to me...unless they be hos."