Monday, September 18, 2006

Believing Their Own Press Clippings

We've all seen it happen. One team, obviously stronger, better talented, faster, stronger and favored by some amount like three touchdowns walks onto a field of another team that really shouldn't even be in the same sport with them.

And reenacting Cinderella, the weaker team beats the stronger. Sometimes it's after a long fought game where the stronger team can never pull ahead, sometimes the stronger team completely falls apart when the weaker team refuses to roll over and play dead. But the weaker team wins, making the hearts of its fans happy, giving hope to underdogs and those who pull for them, and making bookies everywhere gasp in dismay.

I say the stronger team was 'reading their own press clippings', the ones that had extolled and praised, the ones that had made no mention of any weaknesses or chances of failing, the ones that had frankly suggested the weaker team mail a formal submission and save everyone the trouble. They believed the hype and reality killed them.

I'm sure you can see where this is going by now.

Bush has said he doesn't read too much news and relies on others to tell him what's going on. The people he relies on seem to have a near complete belief in their own superiority, and any evidence of trouble (reality) is explained away by that favorite uber-demon, The Liberal Mass Media. Why, it can't be right, look who printed it!

So like the favored team, reality gets a last laugh. It's just like a politician going out to give a pep talk:

"I know there have been reports that my campaign is running out of money, far behind, disorganized, that my main workers are quitting, that it's going to be revealed that in my youth I was a gay Communist NAMBLA member. I tell you it's not true, none of it! We have plenty of money! We are catching up! We have a plan to move forward, we have helpers aplenty, and there is no such information out there!"

A rousing speech follows. When the candidate goes off stage, his few remaining workers grab him, and say "What are we going to do?"

And he looks at them in confusion. "About what? We have plenty of money, we are catching up..."

After a long break

Well, here I am. After four months, you would hope things have gotten better. (With my writing or the world, you pick.) So let's ask:

Do you feel better off than you did four months ago?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stirrings of life...

Posts may be resuming have been warned...

Friday, June 02, 2006

For your consideration...

We have a new nominee in the category of 'cherry picking quotes'. I had always figured the leaders in this race - Drudge, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh - would be well-nigh impossible to beat. However, one plucky little newcomer has made a Hell of an effort to get ranked with the Big Boys of Bullsh*t, and I can only stand in awe of their entry.

Here's the deal. In an apparent effort to make conservatives 'hip' and 'down wid it', National Review has posted a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs. Now, gentle readers, be honest...when you think rock and roll, you don't generally think of Reagan, Fukiyama, Buckley, or Will. (You may think of the current Bush, but only as a subject...) There are some conservative artists - Ted Nugent comes to mind - but rock n' roll itself, or its songs, really isn't. (With the eminently exceptable Right Brothers, who've done nothing more than place talking points in rhythm.) Country, of course, given the outcry that came about when the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of President Bush. But rock?

Well, a little thing like reality wasn't about to stop the NR! No, with the assistance of careful selections of verses, 50 songs were found that were judged to be conservative. Their standards were, "The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values." (Skepticism of government is a conservative idea? Did I miss NR's condemnation of Bush's actions ANYWHERE?) So, what did they feel were good matches?

Songs like "Sympathy for the Devil", "Revolution", and "Right Here, Right Now". "The Battle of Evermore" and "Janie's Got A Gun". "Godzilla" and "Wake Up Little Susie".

Sure, you may be thinking the same thing I was. "The Hell?" But think of the songs they missed!

"I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" - clearly an ode to capitalism, baby! "I'd like to buy the world a Coke"...they didn't say 'like to have the government promise everyone a Coke and tax the upper class to get them!"

"American Idiot", by Green Day - "Don't want to be an American Idiot" - a blast at the liberal public education system. "One nation controlled by the media" - liberal media! How much more conservative can you get, for Pete's sake?

"Mother", by Danzig - "Mother, tell your children not to come my way." - a call for good old stay at home mothers involved in their kid's lives!

"Beautiful People", Marilyn Manson - In what other words could a call for churchgoing be phrased but: "The beautiful people, the beautiful people/It's all relative to the size of your steeple"

"The Hand That Feeds", Nine Inch Nails - "Will you bite the hand that feeds you?" Do I need to spell it out? Welfare reform now!

"Somebody's Watching Me", Rockwell - Hey, this guy survived a little surveillance! Quit yer bitchin'!

"Fine Line Between Pleasure and Pain", The Divinyls - Who's to say some of the people being abused didn't like it, huh?

"The Real Slim Shady", Eminem - Okay, this one may be a little hard to shoehorn in.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Free Will? Nah...

What's disturbing about many so-called experts is how fragile their reasoning is. There are people out there proclaiming their theories, ideas, plans are firm as concrete when they're as weak as the minds of the people who swallow the audio excrement pumped out by the so-called leaders.

"Well, it SOUNDS good!"

Here's an example.

How weak is the argument, "God won't let the Earth burn up?" It's so frakkin' weak that it's an old joke!

This completely ignores the whole free will deal - if we're Hell bent and determined to destroy the Earth, God isn't preempting The Sopranos/C.S.I. and Grey's Anatomy with An Inconvenient Truth. He/She isn't going to change the litter we throw away into roses and trees in a sweet-smelling puff of smoke, Ip isn't going to make a giant thermometer emblazoned with WWJD? (and if there is ever a Second Coming, Jesus is gonna sue someone for copyright infringement) pop up in the sky showing just how much we've overheated the Earth. Ain't gonna happen.

Keeping in the religious vein, it's almost miraculous in a negative sense just how craven and egotistic that "reason" is.

At one and the same time, it states "We are so important to God that we will be saved from our mistakes!" and "God will save us since we can't do it ourselves." We're so stupid in our importance God will HAVE to save us!

I've seen better arguments floating in alphabet soup.

Though it DOES say a lot about some religious righties out there. They've been Chosen - and they are unanimous in this.

Back, for now...

Yes, yes, it's been a while. But see, the check got lost in the mail after the dog ate my homework, and the car ran out of gas just as the train went by and the tires went flat, and it was Daylight Savings Time but there was a power outage so I missed the alarm while rushing my son to the doctor...

Hell, pick an excuse, okay? All I can say is I'm suffering from a form of blogger burnout. It's hard to get motivated to write for several reasons:

I'm a little lazy.
Many of the other blogs over there on my blogroll say things better and more intelligently than I, so I feel like the guy in the back of the room chanting "hear hear!" and not having anything much to add.
Real life intrusions.
Too many books to read.
Mental exhaustion - I mean, what else can I say about Fred Phelps and his psychologically incestuous Lonely Brain Cell band?
Defending the indefensible: the abovementioned Phelps still has the right to protest, and I don't support various acts to ban his forms. The 1st Amendment had no exception for Leviticus groupies. But damn, defending him is like having to cultivate a huge mountain of cowflop in the midst of a beautiful garden. (then again, isn't that a form of nobility, defending something you personally oppose allowed under something you personally favor? 'cause, frik, I think I deserve some form of a legal-ese Purple Heart here.)
Bush. Do I need to say more?

So I've been exhausted, physically and mentally...not that there's much there to be exhausted with in either case, really. But it's the truth.

So, here I am for now. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

After 5 years, why is this still an emergency?

From The Moderate Voice, this quote:

"Why are we funding Iraq, one of the longest wars in American history—by Nov. 25, 2006, it will be 1,347 days old, the number of days between Pearl Harbor and VJ Day—with 'emergency' bills? To hide, or at least obscure, the costs. Funding the war in dribs and drabs—as if the fact that the war costs money is a recurring surprise—spares Congress from confronting the huge cost and having to make room for it in the budget by shedding lower-priority spending."

It's a damn good question, isn't it? Couldn't be that Bush and co. are following a usual pattern of hiding the true costs of things, so as to pretend we're doing fine?

Bush says he's a Baptist, but he sure as Hell governs as a Christian Scientist, or maybe a Scientologist. To admit something's wrong shows something's wrong with you. Better to act like a drunken dorm roomer, throwing up last night's tequila shots while missing a test and swearing to the parents at home footing the bill that you're doing just fine and studying hard.

Even better for the responsibilityilty-phobic, when these bills come due, he'll be out of office and can pretend that the President who inherited these problems is the person to blame, and Bush continuetine skipping merrily along in his miasma of no blame.

Damn, at least Urkel asked, "Did I do that?"

Here's Something Else

While writing about the signing statements, I made a big deal that Bush was circumventing the law by simply claiming he didn't have to follow it. This is still true, of course, but there's another angle I had missed. Unclaimed Territory brings that up.

When Bush signs a law (sometimes with great, camera-clicking, back-patting, sycophantic press coverage) he's saying "I agree, this should be law." No problem.

Let's say he doesn't think it should be law, for whatever reasons. He could veto it, explain his problems with it, and send it back to Congress for them to work it out, agree or disagree, and either send it back or kill it. This would expose Bush's thinking, his ideas, and his theories.

Or he could pretend to agree with said bill, and then later in the secrecy of the Oval Office, wielding a Signing Statement pen fast running out of ink, he could quietly and sneakily decide he doesn't want to follow it. Then no one knows why he disagrees with it, or even for the most part THAT he disagreed with it. I certainly wasn't aware he had issued over 750 statements.

But all this plays to Bush's mindset. Why be honest? Elide the truth, make slippery claims and loaded statistics, use unclear and vague language, never say anything for certain, always have an excuse ready, and whatever you do, never ever tell the truth, because then you're held to it and can be shown to be wrong.

See, if he announced when he got the bill that, say, he didn't feel obliged to report to Congress on warrantless wiretappings, that would be a statement he could be measured by, argued about, debated with. It would be in public, out there. People could see how he thinks. So instead, he pretends to agree with the bill and then in the darkness says, "Except for this, so I won't follow it."

There is a method he could have used. I feel sure he knows about it, even though he never uses the veto. But he chose to lie about following the bill while in public and secretly say why he wouldn't.

When the Hell are people going to realize that Bush's honesty is about as valid as Clinton's fidelity? How long will it take before people understand that Bush has secretly and sneakily tried to expand Presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts, and is doing so in the most underhanded, snake slithery, lawyerly say-one-thing-and-mean-another fashion it's possible to do outside a broad satire?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Irony Gods Are Full Today

So, after everything Bush has done wrong...

...a decision to invade Iraq that was either based on bad information or pre-decided before any information came in;

...the errors made in the post-war occupation;

...the failure to contain any spending at all while cutting taxes;

...the Medicare bill debacle;

...placing cronies with no experience where they can do the most harm;

...the Katrina implosion and thumb fingered response;

...the wiretapping without court approval and the lack of caring about law;

...the increasing Presidential powers via signing statements;

...the selective leaking and uneven response to leaks;

...the failure to hold anyone responsible for Abu Gharib;

...the continuing "I made the decision and I'm not changing it now!" attitude over Rumsfeld;

...the equating of disagreement with his policies to treason and helping the enemy;

...after ALL THESE ACTS, which were made by the President and enacted by the President; which were active choices of his own volition and discretion; which were actions he did himself and he had control over and chose to do of his own accord...

...the American public is getting mad at him over gas prices, something he has negligible control over.

I can't tell if the little shiver in my gut is from schadenfreude or fear at the American public's view of the Presidency.

It's like a neighbor saying, "Yeah, well, I liked ol' Carl there. I mean, I know he was a thief, and he cheated on his wife, and yeah there was that problem he had with drugs, and the drunk driving, and when he got caught on video with the teenage girl and a shaved ferret and a gallon of olive oil, yeah, that was awkward, but Carl, he was a good ol' guy, you know?

"But dammit, when that storm blew his leaves off his trees into my driveway, THAT'S when I got good and mad!"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An Example

Running these numbers, anyone other than a flack would say that this detention wasn't a success in anything except a way to smear our image. Yet, question the wisdom behind the policy and the next question you'll get from a TBIB (true believer in Bush) will be, "Do you support the enemy?"

A good question back would be, "Given the propaganda victory just handed to them in these actions, do YOU?"

In A Perfect World

The thing is, I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. I've always said that overthrowing Saddam was a good thing. I've never argued, as did some stupid or deluded fools, that Saddam was never a problem. I've never called the soldiers criminals or etc., excepting those involved in actual criminal acts such as Abu Gharib. And yes, it would be a good thing if all the name calling, the backbiting and the useless recriminations would stop. And condemning the morons who feel innocent blood is oil for their evil machine is the least we should do.

However, there is a problem there. We have in office an administration that has decided time and again that opposition to their actions - good ones, bad ones, incredibly stupid ones - is equivalent to and tantamount to treason, sedition and aiding the enemy. (All actions as well, but let's just focus on Iraq and its problems.) Any opposition, from the ones that ARE stupid and anti-American to the ones that have reasoned arguments and correct facts - are simply lumped into the most negative category possible.

Forget the whole adrenalin thing in most people that finds it hard to make nice with the other side as the other side continually calls you names at the peace table. Skip over the fact that, to date, the Decider-in-Chief has refused to listen to any other side at all and feels he hasn't messed up at all with anything.

The major problem with trying to be logical and reasonable in debates with people who refuse to be logical and reasonable doesn't work. Try debating a true believer in IDiocy. Doesn't matter how many times you show a shortcoming in their theory, faith sustains them. They just know they're right and any evidence to the contrary is null, white noise in the brain. Faith overrides all. In the case of the Admin, it's faith in their infallibility - Shakespeare would have called in o'erweening pride - overrides any facts they find inconvenient.

As a guideline for how liberals would do things in Iraq if they take control of the Presidency, a statement is perfect - it's what the Democrats need to get away from the central plank of their strategy being an empty space of "We're not them." I support that without reservations. But to say, as the quotes in the above links do, that we need to only focus in Iraq and not domestic factors about the debate - can't be done.

Liberals: "Here's how we think Iraq should go..."

Administration flack: "TRAITOR! AL-QAEDA SUPPORTER! LIAR!"

Liberals: "...we need to..."


I'm sorry, but pointing out the way Administration treats their opponents has to be done as part and parcel of the Iraq debate, because it will be when the opponents get tarred. We can't hold a debate only about Iraq b/c the Admin won't let such a debate start - they'll start screaming from the start. You can't have a debate with someone who refuses to listen. It's even harder when the match the wax-filled ears with a venom-filled mouth.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It was just too good an idea

For every action, there is a reaction.

For every wonked-out paranoid idea from one political side, there's one for the other.

The Vast-Left Wing Conspiracy has come home.

Balance is restored to the whackjobs.

More evidence

Again, as if we need more proof, we find that the intel on WMD wasn't as strong as believed. News? No.

I think after a while we have to ask the question, "How solid does your information have to be to go to war?" There are several angles to take here, of course, ranging from absolute proof (which may come too late, see Iran) to if you have suspicion (which may blow up in your face, see Iraq). After we get through asking that question, I'd ask, "Was the information Bush and co had up to any standard of proof?"

At the very least, for every yes story there was a no story. Some of the sources for the yes stories should have been deemed non-credible from the start - Curveball. Perhaps, as is argued in the comments in the link above, some of the sources for the no angle could be discounted for suspicions of subterfuge. Possible.

But when you shake all of that out, was the information we had credible enough to take us to war, or was there an agenda there that made information at best a helpful tool?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cold Water

The bad news for the Bush Presidency has been coming even faster than their abilities to make excuses for them. You've got his still-low approval rating, with more people strongly disapproving of him than approving of him at all. (h/t Andrew Sullivan) You have the revelations that Bush allowed leaking (which, again appears to be legal here, and there is no mention of Plame as of now - condemn him for what he did, not what people think he did) selectively while getting in high dudgeon about it in public, which doesn't help his credibility at all. You have the New Hampshire phone scandal having possible ties to the White House, and of course as per usual the WH is stalling. You've got Iraq and several once-fierce defenders calling for withdrawal, the most recent being Newt Gingrich. Polls now give Democrats edges in almost all areas, from immigration to (barely) defense. Clinton never had this kind of perfect storm.

But I'm here to throw cold water on hope, kick the fantasy in the groin, and slap the dreamers about the face, saying "It's ain't over yet."

First, like them or hate them, the Republicans can campaign. They may do it dirty, they may Swift Boat Lie, they may sleaze, what have you, but they win. Do not count on the ever-increasing bad news as a bellwether for the election.

Second, and we must be honest here, this isn't an election about right ideas vs. wrong ideas. Mostly, it's an election about wrong ideas vs. no ideas at all beyond opposition. This could very well be a winning hand - it helped in the Republican Revolution (so quickly tainted) of '96, but they also had the Contract w/America as well and they seemed to have a different idea. I don't know if it's a big deal to the electorate at large, but I do know that should Democrat get voted into power, they will have to have some ideas beyond uncovering what the Bush group has done wrong. That's a worthy endeavor, don't get me wrong, but beyond that needed goal,. they'll be in charge of everything else.

Third, anything can happen. There are rumors of a military attack on Iran - I can already hear the echo of "Don't change horses in midstream!" Iraq may, somehow, turn around. bin Laden could be captured. Threat levels could be raised and lowered like tube tops during Mardi Gras. No one knows what the future will bring.

And finally, the Democrats have an unerring talent for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. Someone will do something stupid (for God's and Bast's sake, keep McKinney quiet until after the election!) and the Republicans will leap all over it.

I do feel a change is possible - I just wish the Democrats made more of a slogan then "We're better than Bush." Of course they are, given how pathetic and divisive he's been, that's the "Taller than Mickey Rooney award." Given how the world is, given how badly Bush and co. have screwed it up, and given the massive need to fix things, I'd like to see some concrete ideas (as concrete as one can be during election campaigning, anyway). I trust the Democrats more than Bush's circle of cohorts, yes.

Again, "Taller than Mickey Rooney". That attitude of Anybody but Bush won't last.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I'm So Tired

Yes, it's been a while.

There's many reasons for the falloff. We've been passing around various bugs and germs. We've been bust doing stuff around the house. I've been trying to keep up with the energy blast that is my son. We've been doing stuff outside the home more and more.

So I'm tired. But it's not just a physical weariness.

I understand now how some Republicans and conservatives felt when Clinton was in office and every week seemed to overturn another slimy rock of scandal. It's disturbing at first, to see the scandals. Then it's frustrating to watch more and more things come up. Then it's like Novacaine via repetition. At first you get up and scream. Then you stay seated and scream. After a while your throat hurts, so you pound the table. Then your hand hurts so you shake your head. Then your neck hurts, so you just glare. And after the eyestrain sets in, you just close your eyes.

In the past few months, we've seen from the Bush Admin:

Evidence that while he was proclaiming he hadn't made up his mind to go to war, he was talking about making an aerial Tonkin incident. And from here as well, yet more evidence he wasn't even considering troubles after the war.

Evidence that shows he knew some pre-war talking points weren't as solid as he proclaimed them to be. I'm sure there'll be a huge meaning argument over what lies are, whether exaggeration should count as such, and claims that since Bush meant well this should be overlooked The fact that this makes the President of the United States who ran on promises to restore honor to the White House have the same regard for the truth as the stereotypical used car salesman is, to some people, of no consequence now.

More evidence that Bush feels when the President does it, it's not illegal - see wiretaps and leaking. The wiretapping claims seem to be hubris of the mad-King kind, as does his decisions that keeping Congress informed of what he's doing is just too much of a demand. The recent revelations of Libby may be legal, but at the least they show a man who is Nixonian in his political zeal. And I feel sure the leaking story isn't dead yet, despite the somnolence of the press mixed in with their cowardice at being called liberal when they tell something bad about Bush and his cohorts.

It's all too much. Bush has succeeded in making me completely unsurprised by his ineptness, his power grubbing, his lying, and his general lack of any positive trait besides being an "average man" through some new redefinition. I'm tired of it all and nothing more shocks me from this Admin.

Way to go, guys.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hiatus ending soon, hopefully

I've been having to do a lot of work around the house and with the family, so I haven't been posting for some time. Hopefully this will end this week and I can get back to it.

Thanks for waiting.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

South Dakota declares cells life!


'the discrimination is over'

by Satire News Service

In response to an all-out lobbying effort by the Blastocyst Alive group, South Dakota has passed the most stringent anti-abortion law in the nation. "No more will these cells be segregated," said Gov. Mike Rounds, at the signing ceremony. To show his belief in the idea that undifferentiated masses of dividing cells are as alive as anyone, he announced plans to appoint one Secretary of Pre-Birth Safety, demanding that all uterusi be given yearly inspections for safety and comfort.

South Dakota had long taken the lead in taking away abortions. There is only one clinic in the state that performs the act, there is a mandatory twenty-four waiting period and counseling required to discourage the act, and a parental notification act is in effect that requires people under the age of 57 to tell their parents before an abortion can occur. Should the parents of the abortion seeker (called Hellbound Murderous Slut Harlot Heathen in court papers) be dead, the state appoints parents as a stand-in.

Blastocysts Alive spokesman Division 43 says, "We knew South Dakota was the place for us - but it just wasn't quite perfect. We organized a mass mailing campaign for this bill with a difference, where instead of letters, we mailed ourselves to the legislators. Since about 500,000 of us can fit in a space the size of a period, it was very economical and effective."

One state senator, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was very moved by the letter stating that over 17,649, 856,314,152 blastocysts were right there, on the letter, begging him to save their lives. The male senator, who to date has not carried a child to term, immediately pledged his support for the bill and states it doesn't go far enough, saying next term he will enact a commission to see if sperm and egg cells deserve a similar recognition. Lobbying groups Onanists Anonymous and All The Eggs in one Basket did not have a comment at press time. The state senator, however, admits he did kill all the blastocysts in the letter when he threw it away.

The anti-abortion law passed forbids all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's health, exceptions usually seen as acceptable by most non-blastocysts. The only possible acceptable abortion by the Hellbound Murderous Slut Harlot Heathen would be in case of danger to the mother's life. Bill Napoli, a state senator, offers one such scenario:

"BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

Rape? What Rape?, another lobbying group involved in the passing of this bill, said in a statement, "We are glad to see that Senator Napoli sees a difference between the physical and psychological effects of a really bad rape and just your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill rape. We salute Senator Napoli." Senator Napoli has plans to require churches to document attendance figures to confirm any claims from a raped woman of religiousness and OB-GYNs to sign documents of virginity at yearly checkups as well to keep any Hellbound Murderous Slut Harlot Heathens (hereafter HMSHH) from trying to procure an abortion after a rape that was not as bad as it could possibly have been. "No loopholes here," he proudly proclaimed.

The bill, which states that life begins at conception, tackles some other issues as well:

If an blastocyst, fetus, or embryo spontaneously aborts, the woman can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Any rape that is bad enough to warrant an abortion makes the blastocyst, fetus or embryo into a new category, "Not really alive", and therefore abortion is allowable. "By changing the definition, all moral quandaries are eliminated," stated one Wally Thurman-Smythe Hendley. Also, the rapist will be charged additionally for murder, but the woman, who was raped as badly as one can imagine, will not be. "Nope, no double standards at all, why?" asked Wally.

Women can now be arrested for child abuse if they fail to provide adequate safety and security to the now-alive cells. Signed affidavits of pre-natal vitamin doses and exercise will be periodically required.

One thorny issue is the idea of child sexual abuse. Defined as a "sex act involving a child", the blastocyst, fetus or embryo is now given the status of a child at conception, so therefore sex between a man and a pregnant woman is now an act of abuse as well, no matter how far along the woman is. In fact, it is now possible to be arrested for child sexual abuse immediately following the conception, since at the moment of conception the child is alive and therefore involved in the sex act. In a corresponding law, any depiction of any sex act involving vaginal sex is now forbidden in South Dakota under the "Catch-All Child Pornography Act", just in case the woman partner was pregnant or became pregnant during the act itself. This issue will have to work itself out in the courts, although already some people are asking questions like, "So, now a rape can become child sexual abuse as well, yet if the rape isn't bad enough to warrant an abortion it's not a bad rape but still child sexual abuse, and the mother can be charged with child abuse if after a rape that wasn't as bad as it could have been she doesn't take care of the child, or if she wasn't religious, or..." There was a lot more to that question, but our batteries died about the second hour of it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Congress's Saturday Night Massacre?

Bill Frist, he of the "nuclear option", is at it again. When the rules don't do what you want, change the rules! This appears to be a mantra for the Republican President Enablers in Congress (remember the arm-twisting hours added on to the MediDebacle bill?), who seem to feel that rules are for suckers.

This is one reason I'm against much of the Republican's current agenda - when they can't find ways to get it done through the rules, they ignore the rules. Like it or not, guys, it's a two-party system, and the minority Democrats don't even put up that much of a fight in the first place, but even the feeble and unusual times they do manage to get some backbone, you just switch around the rules so it doesn't matter. Democracy? They've heard of it, mainly along the "one-man-one-vote" idea, which they're ALL for - as long as they get to pick the man that gets that vote.

If Frist is going to follow the suspected plan of removing those Republicans who dare to follow the rules and replace them with more pliant, limber moraled people, it's going to look at lot like the Saturday Night Massacre. Just the kind of image needed.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Female Frey

James Frey's fictional autobiography - call it Munchasen, Interrupted - was bad for so many reasons, but one of the more awful ones, to me, was when he rewrote the death of a girl in his school to make himself seem "badder". Hard to sink much lower than changing the facts to give yourself a better angle for a book...

...or a TV series.

First Impressions, You Know What They Say

As more and more comes out about Katrina, it seems clear that Michael Brown - who I disparaged and called for his firing - was actually much more involved than he seemed to be. It evens seems that he was doing his damnedest to get stuff done, going over Chertoff's head to the White House direct, and saying he would take the blame.

That he did, and there was much blame to go around. He came in for a whole lot of it, and now he deserves some praise for what we now know.

So, Michael Brown, I was too hard on you. You were much more involved than I thought, you did more than I thought, and you deserved much less crap from me.

I apologize.


The original poster that supposedly blamed myself and other critics of the war has an update and a follow-up. His argument is now that he never was saying people who criticized the war were at fault for the problems; it was people who use false information while criticizing the war that are the problem. That's a position that very few sane people would argue with, of course, and it should be the standard for the pro-war side as well - they should condemn misleading statements like these.

Well, far be it for me to condemn badly thought out prose, as my original blog entry on this very subject had to be edited itself; see below.

But reading the original entry and the follow-up, the confusion was more than understandable. Look at these sections from the original post that started the fire:

"But why be glib? One of the important points made in this excerpt (the entire piece is available to subscribers only) is that a goodly portion of our success or failure in Iraq has ultimately to do with how we react in terms of either lending our support or leveling our criticisms against the campaign.
And this is (and has been) a crucial component of the war—one that many on the anti-war side are loathe to admit: that their constant naysaying, though it is well within their right to voice, has objectively hurt the war effort, particularly when the criticism incorporates carefully-crafted falsehoods many of the war’s critics
know for a fact to be objectively untrue" (italics added)

And then from his update:

"First, my essay doesn’t concede that we’ve “lost the war”—and in fact, by offering a counter to Buckley, it argues precisely the opposite. Second, it doesn’t “whine” about how some folks didn’t clap hard enough; instead, it makes the observation that relentness naysaying beyond initial disagreement—particularly when those daily critiques involve knowingly perpetuating falsehoods as part of a strategy to undermine the war effort—is objectively damaging, as it meets one of our enemies’ stated goals of dividing the American electorate." (boldface added, italics in original)


"Critics of my essay are free, of course, to misinterpret or refigure my argument any way they’d like (I envision action figure stories or kitty pictures). But it won’t change what I wrote, nor will it alter what are indisputable facts: namely, that the enemy relied on breaking our will, and it relied on doing so by applying the kinds of pressures to which many on the left—already predisposed to disagree with the intervention of US forces—would succumb.
It is also true that, regardless of what we each felt about the wisdom of the intervention, showing a united front against the terrorists (who are now fighting against an elected Iraqi government and the vast majority of those Iraqis who voted for democracy) would weaken the insurgency and show solidarity with a fledgling democracy. Doing so at a time when civil war is possible thanks to the provocations of terrorists is particularly important if our goal is to win the war in Iraq (and not just political control of a future, toothless foreign policy)." (italics added)

In his update, he posts a straw man letter to show the kind of arguments he feels are at fault, which is fair...if he had been much more specific in saying he only meant these kind of Ann-Coulter-on-the-left arguments. But then:

"Whether or not it is appropriate for war critics to criticize the war so vocally and so consistently is for them to decide, ultimately; however, it was my position that the more hyperbolic and vicious critiques—based too often on falsehoods and ideologically-weighted arguments that failed to provide adequate context for their criticisms—were doing damage to troop morale, to the morale of the US electorate, and were helping in the propaganda efforts of the insurgents (who have no legitimate claim in Iraq)—and they were working in this harmful capacity far moreso than they were weakening the President’s resolve or helping the people of Iraq. I suggested that those who were anti-war—having registered their disagreement—are therefore doing no good by working hard to bring about our defeat at this point in the campaign, or by openly crowing for a civil war. But they are making it more difficult for our troops, our State Department, the DoD, and our allies." (italics added)


"What I don’t understand is, why can’t you and your friends on the left who are so quick to (mistakenly, and in my opinion, intentionally) assert that I have laid blame for the failure of the war at the feet of the left take responsibility for what YOUR actions have wrought—even if you believe those actions were justified? The best and worst of (subjective) intentions, after all, have empirical consequences. And to deny that the anti-war campaign, coupled with a media that concentrates on calamity rather than success, hasn’t had a deleterious effect on US will—and a positive effect on the persistance of the insurgency—smacks to me of willful blindness and, frankly, a rather patently obvious defensiveness." (italics added)

The whole essay reads like he can't decide if it's ALL the people against the war, or only those who use false statements in their criticisms, who are causing problems for morale and etc. Yes, he says a few times he only means the hyperbolic people - and then uses the subset while condemning the whole, using words like particularly. If I said stuff like:

And this is (and has been) a crucial component of the war—one that many on the (PRO)-war side are loathe to admit: that their constant (DRUMBEATING), though it is well within their right to voice, has objectively hurt the war effort, particularly when the (SUPPORTING STATEMENTS) incorporates carefully-crafted falsehoods many of the war’s (SUPPORTERS) know for a fact to be objectively untrue

I would understand why people would be confused over who I meant to condemn there - all supporters, or the ones who used false statements in their claims. I'm also troubled by other things, like his questioning if war critics should criticize so often or so vocally (so, less often and more quietly...why?) and the fact that "relentless campaign" has had a deletrious effect on U.S. morale - again, not just the ones using false statements. (I'd also ask how divided is the blame as well - promises of easy victory, less cost, fewer people needed and a short time over there being broken would also cause a loss of morale.)

The relentless naysaying comment is a little confusing as well. Much of the reason I've been pretty constant in my criticisms of the war is because the criticisms haven't been addressed - the lack of planning in the beginning, the failursectarianning Iraqi troops, the secterian conflict we should have seen coming and have yet to figure out how to deal with. When the problems get addressed, then the criticism can be muted.

His comment about showing a united front against the terrorist also gives me pause - why is my criticizing, say, the lack of body armor in Iraq not a united front? Does he only mean the people who want the terrorists to win, and if so, who are they specifically?

As I said, I'm not one to condemn unclear writing. It just seems like this writing may be more clear then intended, with the mixing and matching of problems of false statements and the honest criticisms. Yes, he does say a few times that rational debate is different - and then in the next paragraph includes all war critics as a lump. Perhaps it's just he knows what he means, and the people who are regulars on his site knows what he means...but it doesn't come as a surprise to me that other people don't know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pointing out isn't hoping

A sub-meme of the whole "liberals caused the Iraqi problems" is the whole idea that pointing out problems with stuff in Iraq is indicative of wanting the U.S. to lose. The argument seems to be that by saying stuff is wrong we're hoping we're correct and therefore want to fail.

Never have understood this argument. I once used this example in an e-mail group:

Say you're about to go on a long car trip with a driver, oh, let's call him Beorge Gush. As you get into the car, you notice it's almost out of gas.

"Um, Beorge, we need gas."

"Quiet, I know what I'm doing!"

The trip starts. You happen to glance at the map and see that the course marked out takes you well out of the way and through a desert.

"Beorge, I think we should go another way."

"Don't interrupt me!"

So, twenty minutes later, you run out of gas in the middle of the desert. Would it then be fair for Beorge to turn to you and say, "This is YOUR fault!"?

Another example. I had a birthday last week, which turned out to be the only REALLY good day that week, due to insomnia and various other problems. Thanks to my loving wife, the birthday was excellent - so excellent that I completely forgot we were having visitors the next day and I needed to do a lot of cleaning up. The house wouldn't have been condemned by the Health Department, but still and all.

So the next morning, as the realization hits me early, I'm running along doing my best ten-minutes-per-room-straighten-up-and-make-do cleaning treatment. One of my cats manages to get under my foot (said cat, Shadow, wishes it to be known that I interfered with his important duty of twining about my ankles) and I trip, flying forearm first into a wall corner hard. I honest to God thought I had broken my arm. I had a small strawberry mark but immense swelling and tenderness in it. My wife, my family, and several things told me that yes, I could have a broken arm - hairline fracture - and urge me to go to the doctor. I haven't yet, for several reasons ranging from I hate drugs in general to I don't want to be embarrassed by going them and having nothing more than, in medical terms, a boo-boo.

My wife still thinks I may have broken my arm, and still tells me I should still go to the doctor. Does this mean she really wants my arm to be broken? Do I need to worry that she'll decide she really wants to be right and will take a hammer to my arm to BE right?

I Know Who Did It!


"...the clear causes of our failures"

by Satire News Service

Following the revelation on some blogs that critics of the Iraq War led to its many problems, several other companies have come forth and announced who was to blame for several of their errors and mistakes.

The TV networks were first to announce their recent unveiling. ABC, whose much-hyped "Emily's Reasons Why Not" was hurriedly yanked from the schedule this year, now says the problem wasn't the plot, acting, script and general lack of humor. The true problem was TvLAd5542' s (real name unknown) posting on a website, who wrote "Emily's Reasons Why Not is teh suxxor!"

Joseph Difner-Apeoat, spokesman for ABC, said "Clearly this little piece of opinion caused the massive reaction against 'Emily'. It could have succeeded but for this one violent attack on it."

NBC, whose attempted Americanization of "Coupling" was one of the network's biggest embarrassment a few years ago, has discovered that the show itself was excellent and should have been a success, 'except for the vile slanders of one David Jimson of New York, who was overheard to say in a Starbucks, "I dunno, I thought the British one was better." I ask you, what could we have done against such power?" pleaded Robert N. M. Yfault.

CBS was quick to add its own findings that several of its shows should still have been on the schedule but for the acts of people such as Janine Carlson, Luvs2WatchTV, and Ernie Rock, all of whom uttered disparaging opinions of their shows at one time or another.

The movie King Kong was also the victim of a vicious attack upon it, causing it to underperform at the box office. "We won't mention names," said a Universal spokesman, "but we have affidavits stating several people came out of the premiere saying this movie 'wasn't what I expected' and 'seemed too effect laden'. Once that rumor spread, all the marketing power we had was helpless."

Businesses outside the entertainment industry also pointed out they had found several villains responsible for some of the biggest problems. Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm that was disbanded over obstruction and enabling during the Enron scandal, now says the problem wasn't the accounting tricks, the collusion to lie and misstate profits, the paid auditors nor the actual illegality of many of their acts. All the blame rests with one Xavier Cranston, mail room employee, who would often vent about the lousy job Arthur Anderson was doing about fixing the men's room. "Once he began spreading his poison and bile, the fall was only a matter of time," read Paul Dodger.

Enron itself made a motion to call janitor Eddie "Bud" Creeger to the stand to testify of his often negative comments about the company, perhaps to show another reason for the downfall. "We have a few others we can call as well...this negativity was widespread!" says their attorney.

So it's MY Fault?

From Balloon Juice, we get a link that exposes which people are accused of causing problems in Iraq. You might have's me.

Yes, my questioning of Bush's actions in post-war Iraq has caused the mission to be in danger of failing. It was inevitable...after all, when I questioned the pre-war intelligence pre-war, I was already sowing the seeds of disaster. They just bloomed as I pointed out mistakes Bush and co. made/were making. The flowers of defeat are so powerful, the aroma has enticed and swayed people like Bill Kristol and William F. Buckley. And you thought burnt garlic permeated!

It's amazing how much power I have. I mean, the lack of body armor for soldiers, the now clear lack of postwar planning by the Bush Admin, Rumsfeld's refusal to bring in more troops when asked, the Abu Gharib scandal and its impact on our image in Iraq, the Sunni-Shiite violence and death squads and all that...

...and it all comes down to me. I did it.

So if you're reading this now, and want to blast me for my right opinions and thoughts on the war, just remember how powerful I am - and be careful.

(Edited to show that Balloon Juice isn't doing the accusing)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

David Irving

You may have already heard about David Irving's case. The synopsis is that David Irving is a Holocaust denier - he believes/believed Jews were not killed in the usual claimed amount during World War 2; claimed that the gas chambers at Auschwitz were built after the war, by the Poles, to match the "fantasies" of survivors; that Hitler never had any idea at all about the Holocaust...pretty much the rants of the unshaven man in the subway handing out blurry Xeroxes on some theory spoken by a guy in a nice suit. (Change guy to gal and you get Ann Coulter, by the way.)

Okay, so Irving's got issues. Should he be put in jail for his opinions?

In Austria, the answer is yes.

Let's be frank up front - I have little sympathy for this man and less respect for his ideas. He's a loathsome little screecher. Perhaps the best argument I have for belittling him is when he was called a Holocaust denier in print, in a book by Deborah Lipstadt, he sued her for Britain. This is because the libel laws in Britain mean the accused must prove what they said was correct, which is a vast difference from the laws in America, where the burden of proof rests with the accuser to show the statements are incorrect. James Frey would be dead over there, if someone chose to sue him for his fictional biography. (Of course, Frey would be dead over here as well, but at least over there he may be able to get some sightseeing in.)

So Irving sues Lipstadt, which means Lipstadt not only has to prove that Irving denies the Holocaust, which is pretty evident, she has to show that he's wrong in doing so. And Justice Grey finds for Lipstadt, calling Irving "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist". You can call that a rather big loss.

He's scum.

But he's been arrested for comments he made in 1989, under a law passed in 1992, if the AP story is correct. I mean, beyond the whole concept of the freedom of speech ideal, there's the disquieting thought of being nailed for something you did that was completely legal at the time. (There is a good chance there was a law in 1989 making denying the Holocaust illegal; it's a fairly prevalent law in Europe...but he pled guilty to a law passed since his "crime", which seems odd.) He's been sentenced to three years in jail for having an opinion in public. He now says he believes the Holocaust DID happen (way to hold to ideals there!) and that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz. It's like when people over here in the United States find God after they're convicted; he just happened to find an open history book.

As Glenn Greenwald says, this decision has been met with universal condemnation over in America, leading him to posit there are values that all Americans agree on. I do think that's true mostly - most people who condemn idiots like Fred Phelps don't want him in jail for his beliefs, just out of their particular community. I myself go with the saying "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" - tell people the facts about both sides of an argument (and not in the pathetic "balanced" style - don't parrot one group's completely wrong statements as gospel truth) and let everyone see where the evidence lies.

Of course, you DO have the people who say that disagreement with Bush's policies are treason and should be responded to with imprisonment, a la Michael Reagan's ""Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" On a lesser note is the idea that people who disagree with Bush are liberal - people like Andrew Sullivan and, recently, William Buckley. So imprisonment, nah...but condemnation for not being lockstep is fine.

Not nearly as bad as imprisonment and not nearly what it should be.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Once More Into the Retch, Dear Friends!

Yes, I know, it's a Hell of a way to start a Saturday, but I thought I'd link to another Ann Assault. Here's the "best" line from it:

"Or is NATO -- like the conventions of civilized behavior, personal hygiene and grooming -- inapplicable when Muslims are involved?"

This is the person many conservatives hold as a foremost thinker, making an insult that is basically a schoolyard taunt by the kid who aced an "Increase Your Word Power" quiz and thinks he's a genius. I mean, even her diehard fans can't think this morsel contains any wit, "biting insight" (a usual defense of people who like her, breaking down to 'threat/slur/rumor/death wish/hyperbole/lie spoken in big words'), or anything close to debate. It's an insult, plain and simple, and it's uttered by a woman held in esteem as a great thinker, a woman invited to conservatives conferences as the keynote speaker, a woman who is, in short, a leading figure in conservative thought nowadays. It's like the Democrats inviting Louis Farrakhan to come on up at the DNC meeting and speak some words of wisdom about the Jews.

But on the plus side, she got to take an easy shot at an easy target. Good job, Ann.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Image, victim in bad shape

from Satire News Service

Vice President Cheney, while on a quail hunting trip, accidentally shot his image and the ratings of the Republican Party in the face, as well as Harry Whittington, a major donor to the Republican party. Within seconds after the misfire, image consultants and Karl Rove were notified and raced to the scene, almost beating the ambulance and medical personnel. The prognosis was not good.

"This will be a tough thing for him to get over," said Harley Gamie. "The damage looked bad from here, and we will have to exert all our efforts just to keep the situation stable. The slightest slip and things go will downhill and take a turn for the worse, inflicting possibly fatal damage. Oh, how's Harry, by the way?"

The White House was notified of the incident soon after the image consultants were and there was a conference on how to handle this. The end result was, as one person in the White House put it, "Cheney, YOU shot the guy, YOU tell people about it." Cheney, famed far and wide for his openness and non-secrecy, immediately let the word be known that nothing really important had happened.

Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the property and a witness to the image incident, was designated as the liaison to the press on Sunday, a mere eighteen hours or so after the possible accidental manslaughter. In a totally unrelated coincidence, Karl Rove had been on the phone with her ninety minutes after the shooting "exchanging biscuit recipes," claims Armstrong. So far, Mrs. Armstrong has been just as forthcoming and open as the Vice President has been, mainly saying, "Hmmm?"

The Republican party seemed at a loss on how to handle this emergency. At first, they said it was Mr. Whittington's fault for not calling attention to himself and going on a hunt with a sixty-seven year old man in the first place. They also hinted that perhaps, in spite of all the donation to the Republican Party, Mr. Whittington may have been influenced by Democrats to get himself shot for a cheap and easy political point. "It would be just like them," said an anonymous press release.

This policy of blame the victim, seen to great effect in the Katrina aftermath, surprisingly failed to work here and left the consultants scrambling for a new escape hole. One idea was to gather people who had been shot by similar ammo and shotguns to show that the injuries weren't really that big a deal. Borrowing from the "snowflake babies" label, this group would have been called the "Pellet People". The idea was dropped when no one stepped forward to join the club.

The NRA offered its own campaign, built around the idea that, hey, these things happen. This motion was tabled.

Another idea was to retroactively make the terror alert for Mrs. Armstrong's ranch "red" for that hunting weekend and saying that the Vice President thought he saw a terrorist. This plan met with great enthusiasm until it was realized that the White House press corps, even today, had a better than fifty percent chance of catching this lie.

It was finally decided that in return for Mr. Whittington taking the blame for the whole incident, President Bush would push through a tax break just for him.

Democrats were quick to leap on this incident, claiming if THEY had shot someone accidentally, they would have called the ambulance first and their health care plan would have taken care of the bill, but they wouldn't have shot anyone since their gun control laws would have stopped such a tragedy.

In related news, the quail Mr. Cheney missed in this incident has been placed on the Terrorist Watch List. He is considered feathered and dangerous, and is probably Muslim, according to eyewitness descriptions.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blogroll Note

Chris C. Mooney's blog has been merged into Science Blogs for a little while now, and I just updated it over there. He hasn't been dropped.

Ann Here We Go Again!

Ann Coulter, leader of the race to the bottom in debate, has moved a few more lengths out in front. She's going down in history as the woman who could sprint all the time in this marathon of lowering standards.

Let's not waste time throwing pies of logic at her (the ony kind of pies that should be thrown) nor redefine futility by pointing out that if any on the left had said these things my e-mailbox would have been flooded by condemnations and calls for banning (to their credit, some of the rightward blogs have been busy condemning Ann as well - follow the above link to Donkelphant, and he'll link you to Right Wing Nuthouse's collection of links - however, more below) and since it's Sunday and I feel like crap and didn't sleep well last night, I don't want to once again try to move the ocean with a spoon and say that her comments add nothing to any form of debate besides a razor-spitting raspberry.

Let's just skip all that. Those who find her witty, intelligent, and reasoned won't believe any argument I could make.

Let's explore WHY she has so many followers. In the above mentioned Right Wing Nuthouse link, you will see that there is the inevitable comparison to left wing comments, which is fair to some degree, although I disagree with the idea that comments at the Coretta Scott King funeral are the same thing. (At most, you've got a case of wrong place and time, and I think Rev. Lowery's comments were at the wrong place and time. Jimmy Carter's I don't have a problem with for two reasons - the King's WERE wiretapped, and everyone should know both parties did it. Just because history may shine a mirror into current acts, it doesn't magically wipe out the people at fault in the beginning. But to say the comments at the funereal are similar to Ann's is saying that arguing in a church is the equivalent to making death threats and using the term "ragheads" in a public forum as a joke.) But look at the comments and you see people defending her. Look at the other blogs listed, and you will find people defending her comments there as well.

Some defend them as her right to talk. No problem there. I've never said she should be banned - I've often said I wish she could tell the truth and not go so over the top, but never ban her.

Some people say the left is just as bad, so what's the problem? The problem, shared on both sides, is that if you condemn egregious remarks on the other side, but not the same style of remarks on your side, you're a hypocrite and should be judged as unworthy for debate. You have no standards, you only have sides. However, in today's world, you're more likely to get a radio or TV gig and get a rabid fan base.

And some people say that Ann can make these remarks because she's right. Here's the real issue.

I'm reading several books on arguing and logic, and one of them - "Truth, Knowledge or Just Plain Bull", by Bernard M. Patten - states it clearly in the introduction. "The Simple Truth Ain't Simple". Later on, it gets even more plain:

"Because there are no simple answers, a simple answer is likely to be wrong."

But that's not what people want to hear nowadays. Many people would rather swallow what the leaders of one party say and accept it as truth handed down from Sinai. And the leaders, especially the ones currently in office, make the "truth" even easier to swallow by saying, "It's our side and the wrong side". Why think about it? It's easy! We're right and they're wrong.

Ann does make it easy. There's no thought to much of her invective. It's all riffs on the major key of "They're wrong and evil" with some minor trills in the key of "Look at how much better we are". A simple tune, easy to whistle while you vote and hum while you look at blogs that agree with your side. People want it that way. Why struggle to understand something complex and deep when there's this ready made, easy bake answer over here, just waiting for you to turn off your brain.

And you know you're right, you can call the other side "ragheads" and rue never taking a shot at Bill Clinton. 'cause that's easy - they're wrong, and deserve any and all evil we can wish upon them.

And since they're evil and we're right, there's no need to actually listen to them or question our acts. No! Wanting it to be easy never means having to wonder about your side.

So, maybe Ann's appealing to the people out there who just don't want to wonder about things. And she's got a lot of followers.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

TH-th-th-th-th-th-that's NOT all folks!

As the riots over the Muhammad cartoons continue, we find out some more.

Andrew Sullivan give us a link that shows these cartoons causing more violence than Acme did to the Road Runner were printed in Egypt - a Muslim country - some time ago, and there were no riots nor protests then. This tells us that apparently not every single Muslim feels the need to throw rocks and light fires, in the much lighter way that not all Christians felt the need to protest "The Book of Daniel". It's only those who refuse to admit any other view than theirs has validity that get so offended. It also raises the interesting question of why U.S. papers, for the most part, are refusing to print these cartoons, given that they've printed other images offensive to some Christians without any qualms - remember that painting of Mary in elephant dung and Piss Christ? Fear of fanning the flames of anti-Americanism, fear of being accused of putting the troops in danger...there could be some good reasons, but I'd like to see the answers to see if they match the good reasons.