In celebration of original ideas
I rant a lot about how derivative most ads are, and how dumb the content is. Which means that I should also celebrate beautiful and original ideas, like this one from the UK. A car safety ad with no gore and no tragedy? Amazing.
Uncle Vinny, on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM:
This was gorgeous enough to post twice. Thanks!
Sunfriday, on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 12:54 PM:
christina, on Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 9:17 PM:
That feels like a Bill Viola.
rfkj, on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:48 PM:
Yeah, it's awesome, isn't it? I love the "dining room table" line. I wish more politicians would grow a pair.
Sarah, on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM:
Reductio ad Hitlerum, anyone?
Heather, on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 11:44 AM:
This was awesome. Saw it on the daily show.
Sarah, on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:27 PM:
I had no idea the phenomenon (comparing Obama to Hitler) was so widespread. Mind boggling that a refresher course in 20th century history would be needed by so many, but here's an a propos article on the topic:
Two early morning political posts
First, Frank Rich's essay A President Forgotten but Not Gone is deeply satisfying:
We like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life.
The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Bush’s presidency found that 79 percent of Americans will not miss him after he leaves the White House. He is being forgotten already, even if he’s not yet gone. You start to pity him until you remember how vast the wreckage is. It stretches from the Middle East to Wall Street to Main Street and even into the heavens, which have been a safe haven for toxins under his passive stewardship. The discrepancy between the grandeur of the failure and the stature of the man is a puzzlement. We are still trying to compute it.
That's right, it's "Prop 8: The Musical"
And it's pure awesomeness.
Sarah, on Monday, December 8, 2008 at 4:10 AM:
Isn't anything featuring Neil Patrick Harris?
Heather, on Monday, December 8, 2008 at 10:39 PM:
That just rocked :) Love it.
Man, I love citizen video.
I mean, you know all this, right? But watching it repeat and repeat and repeat is something else entirely.
In which I get a creepy invite from a shill for the local corporate media
I got an evite from the lockergnome:
KOMO-TV and its owner, Fisher Communications, has graciously agreed to serve as host for a blogger meet-up at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday August 2nd. The event will be at Fisher Plaza, 140 Fourth Avenue North in downtown Seattle. Light hors d'oeuvres and refreshments (alcoholic and otherwise) will be served and everyone who attends is promised a cool piece (or pieces) of KOMO swag. That's right; we're digging deep for this.
This is a social event, so come prepared to meet and make new friends. If you know of a local blogger who's not on the list here, please let me know or feel free to invite them, too. We'd like to meet everybody.
If you don't already know me, I'm Chris Pirillo - coffee addict, Seattlite, and a regular ol' blogger. If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact Leanne Dillon from KOMO-TV at (206) 404-6055.
KOMO-TV is interested in getting to know bloggers in the area, and what better way to do that than with a little party? Again, this is a social event; there's no agenda for the station other than helping facilitate this meet-up. Fisher Communications recognizes the significance of the personal media revolution, and they want to listen and pay attention to what you're saying. I think this is a good way to start.
KOMO-TV news anchors will be there, so don't forget to bring your camera! You'll also be able to take pictures of yourself (and your co-anchors) at the anchor desk.
Please use the RSVP function of this Evite to let us know if you're coming. We want to make sure we have enough food for everybody.
We should all use "komomeetup" as the tag for photos, videos, blog posts, etc.
My response: "See, it's funny, because I'm not interested in getting to know Fisher Communications. "
Uncle Vinny, on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 4:31 AM:
I find myself trying to figure out how good the food would have to be to make me want to show up...
Laura Z, on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 7:26 AM:
It's all about the schwag. If they don't have good schwag, forget about it. In this case, even with good schwag, forget about it!
david adam edelstein, on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 7:57 AM:
Honestly I would probably have gone, until I hit the point where they actually lied: "there's no agenda for the station other than helping facilitate this meet-up".
heather, on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 9:46 PM:
Yeah... a social event with no agenda has no need for the lack of agenda to be explicitly called out. That's what makes it... by definition... a social event :-)
Oh, BTW, you are coming to Bobbin's b-day party in two weeks, right? I just want to make sure you know that there's really no agenda for the family other than stuffing you all full of hotdogs and burgers... ;-)
Terry Heaton, on Friday, July 27, 2007 at 2:23 PM:
Contempt prior to investigation is a bar to all progress. Sad.
Periodically I think I'm paranoid
And then I read something like this:
Vet: Chaplains tried to convert me
U.S. Navy veteran David Miller said that when he checked into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, he didn't realize he would get a hard sell for Christian fundamentalism along with treatment for his kidney stones.
Miller, 46, an Orthodox Jew, said he was repeatedly proselytized by hospital chaplains and staff in attempts to convert him to Christianity during three hospitalizations over the past two years.
He said he went hungry each time because the hospital wouldn't serve him kosher food, and the staff refused to contact his rabbi, who could have brought him something to eat.
[ . . . ]
Over the past two years, Miller said, he has been asked over and over by the Iowa City VA medical center's staff within its offices, clinics and wards, "You mean you don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah?" and "Is it just Orthodox Jews who deny Jesus?" He said one staffer told him, "I don't understand; how can you not believe in Jesus; he's the Messiah of the Jews, too, you know." ...
I'll just throw this image from my Flickr stream in as well... a little something I found in the grocery store. I didn't see a copy of the Heart of Wisdom Sutra or the Guide for the Perplexed there next to it.
GeoGeek, on Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 8:03 AM:
Readers of your blog get together frequently to talk behind your back about your paranoia.
anon, on Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 10:35 PM:
That is pretty damn rude.
Today's rules for bus riders
If you race for the bus, and the bus pulls away, and the driver stops for you or lets you on while the bus is out of the stop zone but waiting at a stop light... THANK THE DRIVER.
If you race for the bus, and the bus pulls away, and the driver doesn't stop for you or doesn't let you on even though the bus is waiting at a stop light... DON'T FLIP OFF THE DRIVER.
Look, I don't give a rat's ass if you're late or you had a hard morning or a hard night or your job is hard or your lover just left you or your coffee isn't hot enough or your car wouldn't start or your laptop is slow or your jeans chafe your ass. YOU WILL BE CIVIL TO THE BUS DRIVER.
Why? Two reasons. First, because the bus driver is a human being, and thus deserving of your respect. Second, because the health and wellbeing of the other sixty people on the bus depends on the driver's attention and focus. And I will not risk my damn life because you were a little late to the bus stop.
That is all.
Laura Z, on Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 5:17 PM:
Hear hear! I have seen these things all too often and usually the bus drivers keep their cool extremely well (although I imagine an inordinate number of them might have to be on blood pressure medication due to the stress).
geogeek, on Friday, April 20, 2007 at 7:10 AM:
I'm reminded of an Ani Defranco lyric:
"Well maybe you don't like your job, and maybe you didn't get enough sleep. Well, nobody likes their job, and nobody got enough sleep. So just suck up and be nice."
Game theory probably has some input on this
Here's a question that came to me after running errands today:
Suppose you purchase product A at one store, to solve some need you have. When you're at another store, you see product B, which you realize might actually be the right product, and that A might be the wrong product.
1) Wait until you get home, and then find out either that A was right all along, or that B was actually the right one, which means you're going to have to go return A at the first store and buy B at the second store, or
2) Buy B, so that in case A was wrong, you'll only have to go back to one store -- either to the first store, to return A, or the second store, to return B?
This obviously changes depending on your confidence level -- if you're pretty sure A is right, but have a minor suspicion that B might be, then you'll probably go with #1, above. But if on seeing B, you suddenly have low confidence that A is right, then you'll probably go with #2. Or will you?
It also seems like it changes based on how binary the a/b split is, and whether you have someone at home you can call and ask them to check.
What do you think?
Laura Z, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 8:07 AM:
Which choice I make largely depends on a number of factors above and beyond my confidence level - namely, how tired and/or busy am I now (i.e. do I really want to take time to go to the second store now) or how busy am I going to be during the time period in which I would have to do the two visits later (i.e. option #1). Calling someone at home to check on the item would probably happen if they were there, but again, also depend on my tired/busyness level/time of day (i.e. end of day on my way home from hell-day at work versus middle of afternoon on the weekend).
Laura Z, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 8:31 AM:
Oh, and the urgency of my need for the thing would factor into this as well and I would have to weigh that against how tired/busy I was now and in the near future. For instance, if my electrician told me our house would set on fire if we didn't change from Outlet-of-Doom to Outlet-of-Goodness, it wouldn't matter how tired or busy I was at the time - the urgency of the situation would override both those things and I'd probably get versions A through Z just to make sure when I got home I had the right one. Then I would return all the ones I didn't need later with the satisfaction that I had saved my house (or other dramatic thing here).
rfkj, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 11:29 AM:
Depends on what the items are, how expensive they are, and what stores they're at. If it doesn't cost too much, and the stores are ones that I visit regularly anyway, then buying both and returning one seems to be more efficient. After all, I'll be going back to the stores at some point, so whichever one needs returning will be returned.
That's the theory, anyway. In real life, when this happened to me recently, what I did was: check out store A, then store B, then return to A to buy item A, take A home only to find out that it sucks, return item A, go back to store B to buy item B.
heather, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 1:23 PM:
Depends on how much time I have, how crowded the stores are, how high the annoyance factor would be in doing another transaction in either establishment, and how much energy I have. Also depends on which is cheaper. And I've generally done my research online in advance so as not to run into this dilemma and avoid the wastage of time and brain power in the first place :-)
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 1:59 PM:
For me, there are no other factors that influence my decision. I would always choose option B. In fact, given any choices where I get to choose an 'A' or a 'B', I always choose 'B', because the word 'because' starts with a 'B', and 'agony' starts with an 'A'. Several prominent game theorists that I've met at parties have changed careers after discussions with me on this point.
Cesar, on Friday, December 15, 2006 at 6:03 AM:
If I'm positive that B is the perfect item, I'd have to go with #3... immediately return A (to see if the store returns the stuff at all...) then buy B after that.
Not all of you will enjoy this as much as me...
But those of you who do will enjoy it very, very much.
heather, on Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 12:42 PM:
Awesome! I completely disagree with it, and I still love the holiday and the original Charlie Brown's Christmas, but this was pretty funny. Nicely done :-)
Savannah, on Friday, December 1, 2006 at 6:54 AM:
The guy doing Linus was pitch-perfect. By the end, I felt it moved beyond parody to something existential on the order of "The Lottery."
BlueNiner, on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 10:42 PM:
I would fall into the very, very much category...
ALL YOUR HOUSE ARE BELONG TO US
There's a lot of this entertaining crap going around:
Everybody get your Koran and Burqas. America's end is near. Our government is now securely in the hands of Liberal TRAITORS and our borders will be ransacked. Our nation will be overrun with Mexicans and terrorists financed and trained by Chavez and possibly also Daniel Ortega. What a great time for America to lose the Global War on Terror. The patients are runing the Asylum! God SAVE US! The terrorists will be on CNN and FNC tomorrow celebrating in the streets with DEATH TO AMERICA chants shooting their AK47's. They will be emboldened by this victory to swell their ranks and step up the slaughter of inocent Americans everywhere ESPECIALLY here in the next 6 months or so after we pull out or troops. It's over, y'all. Go home, get on your knees, and pray to God for His mercy. Be especially prepared to meet Him soon.
(thanks to Uncle Vinny for pointing me to that bit of deliciousness)
There's a lot I could say about that, but instead I'm just going to point you to Tom Peters' latest post, which says in part:
Will Speaker Pelosi be "ultra-liberal"? Who the hell knows. What we do know is that if you erased a few "liberal hotbeds" such as Cambridge MA, Boston MA, Pelosi's San Francisco, and Silicon Valley this great country of yours and mine (most readers) would economically be in the tank.
heather, on Thursday, November 9, 2006 at 10:20 PM:
Well, if they bring better grammar and spelling with them, it can't be all bad. Can it?
Steven Colbert opens a can of whoopass on Mr. Bush
Sure, you've probably seen it before. But if you haven't.... click and weep.
Laura Z, on Monday, May 1, 2006 at 9:37 AM:
These are just beautiful!...;->
rfkj, on Monday, May 1, 2006 at 12:59 PM:
Timothy, on Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 5:21 PM:
No longer at YouTube ... but still here
nocklebeast, on Friday, May 5, 2006 at 2:26 PM:
Hey! check out youtube's video of Mr. Bush _watching_ Colbert's video. Sometimes he's amused, and sometimes he's _not_ amused. Heh!
David responds to the headlines
Seattle Times, this morning: Are terrorists recruiting "white muslims"?
Well, of course they are. They'd be fools not to.
And mama didn't train no fools at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, where peace activists have protested for years, many of them predicting exactly this kind of blowback scenario, all the while being dismissed as idealistic hippie whiners who didn't understand modern geopolitics.
Thugs and sociopaths, sure, but no fools.
Not that I'm bitter or nothin'.
Like watching a train wreck
Yes, it's The Video. Experts warning about the magnitude of Hurrican Katrina. Bush lying. I really don't know what to say.
Something like a ray of hope
I was saying to Miz Becky the other day that the Bushies have me right where they want me — I'm no longer surprised by anything they do, so my outrage levels are kept right around the apathy horizon.
It's nice, then, to start my day with a news item that reminds me that, first, it could be worse, and second, that even from that condition things can get better.
Multicutural Hub Restored in S. Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - Strains of jazz echoed through suburban streets Saturday as Sophiatown's former residents returned with a boisterous parade to reclaim the legendary black cultural hub wiped off the map under apartheid.
The destruction of one of Johannesburg's oldest black settlements more than 50 years ago came to represent the callousness and brutality of white racist rule. The new white suburb that emerged from the rubble of Sophiatown was named 'Triomf,' Afrikaans for triumph.
There was dancing, cheering, ululating and the odd tear Saturday as scattered residents returned to see Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo unveil a sign officially restoring the neighborhood's original name in bold black letters.
"'Triomf' meant the victory of white supremacy," Masondo told more than 500 people gathered under a white marquee in the heart of Sophiatown. "Let me hasten to add, however, that Sophiatown was never erased from the hearts and minds of its people."
Despite its overcrowded squalor, the close-knit community was a place where black, white, Indian and Chinese mingled freely on Johannesburg's western edge, It produced some of the country's most famous writers, musicians, politicians and gangsters.
International jazz stars like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba cut their teeth at its Odeon Cinema and in the many illegal taverns. A magazine called Drum was a vehicle for emerging black writers like Can Themba, Lewis Nkosi and Es'kia Mphahlele.
Elizabeth Kallesen, a former resident, could not contain her excitement as jazz legends from Sophiatown's heyday in the 1940s and 1950s took to the stage. While others swayed and clapped their hands in time, she leapt to the floor and started swinging her hips like the young tap dancer she once was.
"I feel I can dance the whole day because they are singing the songs from Sophiatown," the 64-year-old said with a grin.
[ . . . ]
A few current residents also emerged from their homes and were drawn into the festivities.
Among them were 37-year-old Stander Kotze, a struggling white mechanic, and his two young children. Kotze, who grew up in the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement, hesitated to come but was delighted by what he saw.
"You get spoon-fed to hate other people just because they are different," he said. "But this is change. It's beautiful and it can only get better."
[ . . . ]
It's always nice to get confirmation of what you already knew
From today's New York Times:
White House Was Told Hurricane Posed Danger
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.
A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."
The internal department documents, which were forwarded to the White House, contradict statements by President Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, that no one expected the storm protection system in New Orleans to be breached.
"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," Mr. Bush said in a television interview on Sept. 1. "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."
I don't even know why it's worth mentioning when it's proven that Bush lied again... and yet I'm strangely compelled to.
How about a little damn research?
Miz Becky often tells me that I'm an old, crabby man before my time, and that my rants at newspapers prove her point.
Before my time or no, the state of editorial quality in modern newspapers drives me frickin' batshit. The most common example, of course, is papers running spellcheck in lieu of an editorial sweep of an article. The result, of course, is tens of examples in any given day — often nearly one per article — of the incorrect homonym being used. "Riding a slay"? "They gave last rights"? I'm sorry, I thought I was reading a newspaper, but this is obviously a MySpace blog.
Today's rant, though, is inspired by an even more egregious bit of lousy editorship. In what's nominally an article in the science section (The Cute Factor), New York Times writer Natalie Angier writes:
If the mere sight of Tai Shan, the roly-poly, goofily gamboling masked bandit of a panda cub now on view at the National Zoo isn't enough to make you melt, then maybe the crush of his human onlookers, the furious flashing of their cameras and the heated gasps of their mass rapture will do the trick.
[ . . . ]
The 6-month-old, 25-pound Tai Shan - whose name is pronounced tie-SHON and means, for no obvious reason, "peaceful mountain" - is the first surviving giant panda cub ever born at the Smithsonian's zoo.
"For no obvious reason"? Excuse me?
First of all, what is this sentence doing in this article? Is this an editorial? No, it's an article. Does this move the article forward? No, it's an awkward, throwaway hiccup in an otherwise pretty interesting article on what we humans respond to as cute.
Second, if you're going to bring the meaning of the name up, instead of being so cavalier about it (again, in the science section of what the editors like to call our nation's paper of record), maybe Ms. Angier should have taken the same nine seconds it took me to do a google search and find an article that explained where the name came from:
Panda Cub's Birthday Present: A Name
The National Zoo's giant panda cub was officially dubbed Tai Shan yesterday and heralded as a symbol -- a very cute symbol -- of friendship between the United States and China.
Tai Shan, pronounced tie shahn and meaning "peaceful mountain," was the favorite in the zoo's online poll offering five choices approved by the China Wildlife Conservation Association. One of three names suggested by the Panda House staff, it garnered about 44 percent of more than 202,000 votes cast.
[ . . . ]
Chinese officials noted that Tai Shan is the name of a famous mountain north of the city of Tai'an in Shandong Province in eastern China. They embraced the theme of peace embodied in the choice.
"Giant pandas are a valuable resource in China and also a great gift of China to the world and the United States," Yan Xun, deputy director of China's Conservation Department, said through a translator.
Whew. Hang on a sec while I rest up from the effort of tracking that obscure piece of information down.
Now, I don't blame Ms. Angier. She's a writer. It's her job to write. She wrote. But where the hell was an editor to cut that out?
Sure, it's possible I'm overreacting. But it's exactly this kind of lack of effort on the part of editors and fact-checkers that let someone like Jayson Blair (I did the search for you) slip fabrications through.
I tell you, if they come anywhere near me, I'm going to whack them with my cane.
Savannah, on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 4:35 AM:
It's unfortunate, because Natalie Angier is otherwise (IMHO) a very intelligent and insightful science writer. I've read other articles by her and enjoyed them, and not found any lapses like that that I've been aware of. When I have time, I'll have to read the whole article you quote.
As far as her beat-down of the panda's name, I suspect that, in this case, the slant of the article itself might have caused the problem. "Cute" was being evaluated unfavorably, the panda was perceived as "cute," therefore everything about the panda was "fucking stupid." Why inquire into the significance of the panda's name when your topic has defined the panda itself--or all forms of human interaction with it--as meaningless because it's cute? Again, the sad thing is that Natalie Angier does not tend to make that kind of mistake in her writing. She *is* one of the good guys. David, I urge you to seek out some of her other work and give it a chance.
rfkj, on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 7:51 PM:
I agree that it should have been edited out, but for an entirely different reason: the way it's written, it says that "Tai Shan" means "peaceful mountain" for "no obvious reason." That's a pretty damn stupid thing to say about a language. "Berg" means "mountain" in German for no obvious reason, other than that it does.
We're just assuming that what she meant was that the panda is named Tai Shan for no obvious reason. What she actually wrote is stupider by far.
I'm with you, though. I fricking hate all the misplaced homonyms and outright misspellings that are plastered all over the papers and all over the news sites and all over the news channels on TV. I've bemoaned the poor headline writing at the NYT and CNN and before. It's a tragedy.
(My favorite recent example of poor research: "King Kong has always been about the love story between Ann Darrow and the giant ape," a sentence clearly written by someone who has never actually seen the original movie.)
Melinda Co, on Friday, March 3, 2006 at 4:19 PM:
The problem is even more severe than faulty research. We are seeing an epidemic of total cultural illiteracy. This is what happens when people who stole their term papers off the internet throughout college and never bothered to learn anything are admitted to positions of journalistic influence.
I'm really enjoying your blog and recommending it like crazy. As you might suspect, I'm also a blogger and getting tons of ideas from the technology and graphics you use. Don't worry - no plagiarism will occur.
Let's finish off the year right
... with a scary )(!* story about the genetic drift activists against genetically modified (GM) food have been warning us about all along:
GM crops created superweed, say scientists
Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal.
The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago.
The new form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had been used to grow GM rape. When scientists treated it with lethal herbicide it showed no ill-effects.
[ . . . ]
The scientists also collected seeds from other weeds in the oilseed rape field and grew them in the laboratory. They found that two - both wild turnips - were herbicide resistant.
[ . . . ]
To assess the potential of herbicide-resistant weeds as a danger to crops, a French researcher placed a single triazine-resistant weed, known as fat hen, in maize fields where atrazine was being used to control weeds. After four years the plants had multiplied to an average of 103,000 plants, Dr Johnson said.
What is not clear in the English case is whether the charlock was fertile. Scientists collected eight seeds from the plant but they failed to germinate them and concluded the plant was "not viable".
But Dr Johnson points out that the plant was very large and produced many flowers.
He said: "There is every reason to suppose that the GM trait could be in the plant's pollen and thus be carried to other charlock in the neighbourhood, spreading the GM genes in that way. This is after all how the cross-fertilisation between the rape and charlock must have occurred in the first place."
Since charlock seeds can remain in the soil for 20 to 30 years before they germinate, once GM plants have produced seeds it would be almost impossible to eliminate them.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating. I'm not inherently against GM plants or animals for some nebulous moral reason. I think it's a bad idea because I work in the software industry. Software is human created, using human-created and human-readable programming languages, and it's vastly simpler than almost all genetic codes. And yet... there are uncountable instances where mysterious, unfixable bugs occur because we don't really understand how things interact. Most of them are minor weirdnesses; some of them cause spectacular, data-destroying crashes.
Usually at this point someone brings up cross-breeding, AKA "old skool GM". I have absolutely no problem with cross breeding (although of course it does depend on the ethics of the cross-breeder -- see any number of freakish, over-delicate dog breeds). The most important difference here is that with cross breeding, as opposed to direct genetic modification, we're using the "compiler" that's built into the system. Instead of just changing one line of a code that we have an incomplete understanding of, we're giving two inputs with desirable characteristics to the existing compiler, which changes hundreds of lines of code at once in mysterious and complex ways.
It's not that I think genetic code is inherently too complex for humans to understand; anyone who makes that claim is sure to be proven wrong in some period of time. My concern is that until we can clearly and perfectly understand the complexities of software we created, it's pure hubris to pretend that our partial understanding of code we didn't create means that we can tinker with it safely.
Karl, on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 11:32 AM:
A simple comment on systems to go along with David:
I work in finance, the most organic human created system everyone in the western world is exposed to on a daily basis. The main reason we use a free-market based system is it’s apparent ease of use and the simple fact that every attempt to manage the logical and illogical interactions on even a few tens of millions of people has failed miserably (note the UK in the 80’s and all of eastern Europe in the 20th century). It takes decades to realize the repercussions in an immature system and for it to reach equilibrium (e.g. Russia). The sheer number of interactions between a KNOWN quantity of even a million people is so mind-boggling they are virtually impossible to keep track of let alone predict.
Step that up a few million fold and you have genetic engineering, crashing about hoping to get it right in a system that has had thousands of years to develop equilibrium and millions of years to evolve.
If we can’t figure our selves out, controlled genetic modification is so far out of reach many of us fail to even fathom how far.
Today in conspiracy theory
Remember, it's only a theory like evolution is only a theory.
From today's What's New newsletter, stolen verbatim because I'm not going to say it any better than Mr. Park:
3. SHAMIFLU: THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE AND THE WAR AGAINST BIRD FLU.
President Bush went to Congress early this month to ask for $7B to prepare the nation for a possible outbreak of Asian bird flu. The federal government has since become the world's biggest customer for Tamiflu, produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Roche. That was good news for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who doesn't have bird flu. He doesn't have stock in Roche either, but he does have millions of dollars worth of stock in a company named Gilead Sciences, having been Gilead's Chairman prior to joining the Bush administration. Low-profile Gilead Sciences owns the rights to Tamiflu, which it outsources to Roche. There is little evidence that the antiviral drug would help much in a flu pandemic.
kevjohn, on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 12:20 PM:
I know this is old, but it's new(s) to me. None of the 20 or so other people I sent this to had heard of this either.
I'm personally not a big fan of either party, but this Administration is outrageous! Look at all that's going on, and what did Clinton get impeached for again...?
A lovely bit of logic
This is the final week of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board trial in a Harrisburg, PA federal court. Back in August, before the trial was underway, President Bush came down on the side of intelligent design, much to the delight of the religious- right (WN 5 Aug 05) . On Tuesday, however, he announced that he would ask Congress for $7.1 billion to prepare the nation for a worldwide outbreak of flu. It's a hedge against evolution. Although a virulent strain of bird flu has killed at least 62 people in Asia, there have been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission. The fear is that the H5N1 virus will mutate (evolve) making that possible. Does this mean that Mr. Bush has changed his mind on evolution?
rfkj, on Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 4:52 PM:
Did you see that all 8 ID-backing members of the Dover school board who were up for reelection got the boot? Hahahaha.
Michael D. Sullivan (avogadro), on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 10:14 PM:
Mutate doesn't mean evolve. It means the Intelligent Designer intervenes to change the genetic code, since it's too complex to be random. God gonna git us! And if we fight back we're fighting da MAN and gonna go to Hell!
So tell me again why George wants to fight God and disturb his intelligent design?
heather, on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 1:50 PM:
Apparently there is some hope...
RIP Rosa Parks, 92
God bless. Enjoy that front-row seat on the bus ride to the happy place.
Rosa's always been personally important to me, as a symbol of the power for change ordinary people can have. Dr. King was already an accomplished minister when he took up the cause of civil rights. Ghandi was university-educated when he was thrown off a train. Rosa? Rosa was a woman who believed in dignity.
"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day.- … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
UPDATE: In her own words, Rosa Parks describes the event in an interview she gave for a Berkeley radio station in 1956.
That's one approach, I suppose
Truth > fiction.
Christian group wants to 'redeem' US states
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Cory Burnell wants to set up a Christian nation within the United States where abortion is illegal, gay marriage is banned, schools cannot teach evolution, children can pray to Jesus in public schools and the Ten Commandments are posted publicly.
To that end, Burnell, 29, left the Republican Party, moved from California and founded Christian Exodus two years ago with the goal of redirecting the United States by "redeeming" one state at a time.
First up for redemption is South Carolina.
Burnell hopes to move 2,500 Christians into the northern part of the state by next year and to persuade tens of thousands to relocate by 2016. His goal is to fill the state legislature with "Christian constitutionalists."
I just wish they had picked New Hampshire, instead, so they could fight it out with the Libertarians.
Sarah, on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 5:48 AM:
Their logo is a cute little porcupine. Heh.
Yet more on intelligent design ...
... but not something that's likely to give regular readers an aneurism: The ACLU has posted an excellent FAQ on Intelligent Design.
Q: How does ID undermine science education?
A: Teaching ID as a so-called “alternative” to evolution would misinform students as to the scientific standing of the theory of evolution and the workings of the scientific method. In addition, it would improperly prepare them for postsecondary science education, placing them at a significant disadvantage to their peers. All scientists and physicians who study such diseases as SARS and AIDS, as well as those who trace how bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics, completely rely on evolutionary theory to understand the phenomena they are examining. We are certain that even ID proponents would prefer to rely on these scientists rather than a scientist who believes that SARS or AIDS was created by intelligent design and can be explained only by intelligent design.
Q: How does ID undermine religious freedom?
A: ID is attempting to insert its particular religious beliefs into science education – as if it were science. By trying to use governments to give the prestigious label of “science” to their controversial theories, they are misleading children and parents. By attempting to elevate a single religious viewpoint over others and situating religion in conflict with science, they are endangering the religious freedom of all Americans. In the words of Theologian John F. Haught, “If a child of mine were attending a biology class where the teacher proposed that students consider ID as an alternative to…evolution I would be offended religiously as well as intellectually.” (Haught, J, rep. App. 3, tab F, at 7.)
Q: What's wrong with the claim that evolution is “just a theory”?
A: Calling evolution “just a theory” is deeply misleading because it confuses the everyday meaning of the word “theory” (a “hunch” or an “opinion.”) with the scientific meaning (requiring an explanation that is testable, grounded in evidence and able to predict natural phenomena better than competing theories). The scientific theory of evolution is one of the most robust theories in modern science. It has been corroborated by hundreds of thousands of independent observerations and has succeeded in predicting natural phenomena in every field of the biological sciences, from paleontology to molecular genetics. No persuasive evidence has been put forward in the last 150 years to contradict the theory of evolution. In the words of Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the most prominent geneticists of the 20 th century, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.”
Q: But what about gaps in the theory of evolution that cannot be explained by scientists?
A: Most important scientific theories have gaps that need to be filled, and unanswered questions do not render a theory invalid. Doubters of Galileo's theory of the earth's rotation around the sun asked, why, if the earth is spinning, don't we all fly off it? It took roughly a half-century for Isaac Newton to develop the theory of gravitational pull, which answers this question. A scientific theory is not disqualified simply because it raises new questions; in fact, the ability of a theory to inspire new questions and experiments is a measure of its quality. Furthermore, most of the so-called “unexplainable gaps” pointed out by ID proponents have in fact been answered by scientists. For many years “creationists” argued that there were serious gaps in the “fossil record” and that there was no fossil record of transitional species. During the last twenty years several such transitional species have been found - something that ID people are reluctant to admit -- making the original assertion more and more dubious.
Savannah, on Friday, October 21, 2005 at 7:35 AM:
I don't even get why the fundies/inerrantists get so worked up about evolution anyhow. Normal believers, like at the Catholic high school I attended, do not have a problem reconciling evolution with faith. They're aware that there's these things called "metaphors," and that creation stories are "metaphors" meant to illustrate a larger point, such as, "God loved/thought/joyed the world into being."
If you want to threaten the idea of God, don't go on about evolution. Go for theodicy, otherwise known as the problem of evil. Human evil (some asshole beating up a baby), natural evil (everything from Katrina to the tsunami to the terror and confusion of a baby elephant being set upon by tigers--why *did* things *have* to be that way, if an allegedly merciful Guy were at the helm?), evil evil evil. Because evil's *not* a metaphor, it's real. And maybe it might come to seem strangely...immoral, to believe that it somehow has a purpose or exists by design or must be borne to win the favor of a father in the sky.
Sarah, on Friday, October 21, 2005 at 10:48 AM:
Evolution isn't a theory. It's an observable phenomenon. The theory part comes into play when you're trying to explain how evolution occurs: punctuated equilibrium, natural selection, etc., etc. ad infinitum.
Savannah, on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 5:32 AM:
Sarah--how come it's popularly known as "the theory of evolution" then? Some clever fundie journalist back in 1950?
I appreciate your definition/distinction. Thanks.
Nice choice for a first veto
Sen. John McCain proposed an amendment to the military appropriations bill that would prohibit "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners in the custody of the U.S. military.
This may strike you as a "goes without saying" proposition -- the amendment passed the Senate 90 to nine. The United States has been signing anti-torture treaties under Democrats and Republicans for at least 50 years. But the Bush administration actually managed to find some weasel words to create a loophole in this longstanding commitment to civilized behavior.
According to the Bushies, if the United States is holding a prisoner on foreign soil, our soldiers can still subject him or her to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment -- the very forms of torture used by the soldiers who were later prosecuted for their conduct at Abu Ghraib. Does this make any sense, moral or common?
So deeply does President Bush feel our country, despite all its treaty commitments, has a right to torture that he has threatened to veto the bill if it passes. This would the first time in five years he has ever vetoed anything. Think about it: Five years of stupefying pork, ideological nonsense, dumb administrative ideas, fiscal idiocy, misbegotten energy programs -- and the first thing the man vetoes is a bill to pay our soldiers because it carries an amendment saying, once again, that this country does not torture prisoners.
That's where we are, folks. What frightens me? That 38% of this country still thinks the man is doing a good job. That's )(#!* terrifying to me.
I knew it would wind up like this, and yet I'm still disappointed
I suppose that's optimistic pessimism.
Liberal Hopes Ebb in Post-Storm Poverty Debate
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 - As Hurricane Katrina put the issue of poverty onto the national agenda, many liberal advocates wondered whether the floods offered a glimmer of opportunity. The issues they most cared about - health care, housing, jobs, race - were suddenly staples of the news, with President Bush pledged to "bold action."
But what looked like a chance to talk up new programs is fast becoming a scramble to save the old ones.
Conservatives have already used the storm for causes of their own, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages. And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.
"We've had a stunning reversal in just a few weeks," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasn't actually happening."
Mr. Greenstein's comments were echoed by Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut: "Poor people are going to get the short end of the stick, despite all the public sympathy. That's a great irony."
[ . . . ]
Indeed, even as he was calling for deep spending cuts last week, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, who leads the conservative caucus, called tax reductions for the prosperous a key to fighting poverty.
Wait... you mean there are other world views? Get out.
Looks like the American Values Tent Revival Tour isn't going exactly to plan. Emphasis mine.
Saudi Women Have Message for U.S. Envoy
JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 27 - The audience - 500 women covered in black at a Saudi university - seemed an ideal place for Karen P. Hughes, a senior Bush administration official charged with spreading the American message in the Muslim world, to make her pitch.
But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and "fully participate in society" much as they do in her country, many challenged her.
"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.
The administration's efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance. For that reason, Ms. Hughes, who is considered one of the administration's most scripted and careful members, was hired specifically for the task.
Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.
The group of women, picked by the university, represented the privileged elite of this Red Sea coastal city, known as one of the more liberal areas in the country. And while they were certainly friendly toward Ms. Hughes, half a dozen who spoke up took issue with what she said.
Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, is on her first trip to the Middle East. She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes.
Is it really even worth commenting on this?
Holy crap, even though he was thrown to the wilderness as a scapegoat, he's still staying on message.
Brown blames locals for Katrina response WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The former head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, who resigned under a hail of criticism over the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, blamed local officials on Tuesday and said his agency had done a good job.
"My biggest mistake was not recognizing, by Saturday (before the storm made landfall), that Louisiana was dysfunctional," Michael Brown told a House of Representatives panel looking into the aftermath of the catastrophic storm.
"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade (Louisiana) Governor (Kathleen) Blanco and (New Orleans) Mayor (Ray) Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together," he said. "I just couldn't pull that off." ...
This really explains a lot
Savannah, on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 at 6:15 AM:
I believe that would be "speechalist." For an intellectual endeavor of this caliber, we must be sure always to use the proper term...termologony...termination....THINGS.
He's doing a great job... at what he was hired for.
David Gans pointed out this column in the SF Chronicle:
George W. Bush Still Rocks!
Stop criticizing! The rich man's CEO president is executing his job requirements perfectly
Everyone is slamming poor Dubya. Everyone is saying, oh my God, he's more inept than we ever imagined, he has no idea what's really going on, he's oblivious and in denial and he pretty much let all those poor black people die in filth and misery, and he basically ignored the massive Katrina disaster for days before finally being pressured into cutting his umpteenth vacation short and actually taking action.
[ . . . ]
But it's so unfair, isn't it, to attack poor Dubya like this? Just a little misplaced? After all, Bush has always been the rich white man's president. He is the CEO president, the megacorporate businessman's friend, the thug of the religious right, a big reservoir-tipped condom for all energy magnates, protecting against the nasty STDs of humanitarianism and progress and social responsibility.
He has always been merely an entirely selective figurehead, out of touch and eternally dumbfounded, a hand puppet of the neoconservative machine built and fluffed up and carefully placed for the very specific job of protecting their interests, no matter what. Repeat: No. Matter. What. Flood hurricane disaster war social breakdown economic collapse? Doesn't matter. Corporate interests über alles, baby. Protect the core, reassure the base, screw everyone else unless it begins to affect the poll numbers and then finger-point, deflect, prevaricate. All of a piece, really. Because Bush, he was never actually meant to, you know, lead.
So maybe it's time to stop with the savaging of poor Dubya. He is, after all, doing a simply beautiful job of kowtowing to his wealthiest supporters while slamming the poor and running the nation into a deep hole and creating the largest deficit in American history, all while his cronies in oil and industry and military supply and Big Energy gain immense and staggering wealth and pay less and less tax on it. This is what he was hired to do. This is why he is in office. Hell, the day after Katrina, Bush flew right by Louisiana and headed straight to San Diego to party with his Greatest Generation cronies. Reassure the masters, first and foremost, eh Shrub? Understood.
A quick survey of other sites show that this is already well-distributed on the web, but for those of you who read my site and don't read many of the politics blogs, this little image is priceless.
Thanks to RFKJ for sending me this little delight.
Pigs flying part 2
Go media! Don't be distracted by red herrings!
Was FEMA's Brown the fall guy?
WASHINGTON — The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned this week, federal documents show.
Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm.
As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina's early-morning landfall on Monday, Aug. 29, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives.
But Chertoff — not Brown — was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents.
An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland-security director.
[ . . . ]
Flying pigs are skiing in Hell
Bush: 'I take responsibility'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush took responsibility on Tuesday for failures in the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility," Bush said. "I want to know what went right and what went wrong."
Savannah, on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 12:15 PM:
Whatever! Smoke and mirrors. Is he going to take responsibility for Iraq now too? Is he going to take responsibility for the 9/11 intelligence/procedural failures? Is he going to take responsibility for Valerie Plame? For the economy? And after those grand rhetorical flourishes, is he going to actually do anything, like repudiate the far-right ideology that led to each and every one of these catastrophes, bring the troops home, cooperate with the UN, and start acting in the public interest? This statement of responsibility means nothing to me. It's a calculated effort to tug on forgiving liberal heartstrings and use them to tie our own hands. Here's something we can learn from conservatives: never drop the bite. Keep shaking that bloody leg in your jaws. Don't matter a damn what words its owner is screaming. Use them only as opportunity for further attack.
Laura Z, on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 2:30 PM:
More to the point, is he going to take responsibility for plaid polyester and Spandex? I mean, really, let's focus on what's important here. Seriously though, I think he is just doing all this to save face. I don't think he really means it or will change his nespotic behavior.
No, thanks, we don't want help from your kind
The thing that struck me the most about this year's anniversary of 9/11 was that, despite all of my expectations to the contrary, despite all of the Bush administration's... well, let's just summarize and say "the negative image they've projected to the rest of the world", we're seeing a repeat of that brief beautiful moment I wrote about two years ago. Offers of help and financial assistance are pouring in from the rest of the world.
And, unsurprisingly, what's the response from Mr. Bush and his camp?
Katrina aid from Cuba? No thanks, says U.S.
HAVANA — Dr. Luis Sauchay is the kind of hands-on physician you want in an emergency.
Though relatively young at 34, Sauchay has chalked up more than a decade of practicing hardship medicine.
Right out of medical school, he spent two years on the high seas, the only doctor for hundreds of fishermen aboard an industrial vessel.
During two other years, he cared for the sick and forgotten in an understaffed African clinic, treating countless cases of tuberculosis and cholera.
For the last five years, he has been the local family doctor for 200 working-class families in Havana’s Párraga neighborhood.
And after last February’s tsunami, Sauchay joined a Cuban medical brigade to comfort the shell-shocked in Sri Lanka.
So it was no surprise when just a day after Katrina decimated the Gulf Goast that Sauchay volunteered to help victims even though it means leaving his wife alone with their 2-month-old son.
“I can do a lot of good there,” he stressed, “because I have years of experience dealing with this type of catastrophe.”
Sauchay, though, may never get the chance to prove his worth. Despite Bush administration assurances that international aid offers will be kept free of politics, Cold War tensions seem to be freezing out help from Cuba.
(MSNBC via Phoebe's dad)
While I'm here, I'd like to recommend this morning's column from Joe Conason:
The bitter lessons of four years
Standing among the wreckage of two national disasters, it is no longer possible to deny the plain truth: Bush and his administration are unfit to wield power.
(from Salon, watch a brief ad for one day's access)
More in the category of "oh, really?", plus an extra bonus quote
First, something to get your blood pressure up. Wait for the payoff in the final paragraph...
Bush faces new questions on relief
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Rescue crews prepared to speed up the retrieval of the dead from Hurricane Katrina on Friday amid reports that President George W. Bush chose unqualified political supporters rather than disaster experts to head the agency leading the relief effort.
[ . . . ]
The Washington Post reported that five of the top eight FEMA officials had little experience in handling disasters and owed their jobs to their political ties to Bush.
As political operatives took the top jobs, professionals and experts in hurricanes and disasters left the agency, the newspaper said.
FEMA director Michael Brown, already under fire for his performance as the disaster unfolded, came under further pressure when Time magazine reported that his official biography released by the White House at the time of his nomination exaggerated his experience in disaster relief.
Brown was a friend of former Bush campaign director Joe Allbaugh, the previous FEMA head. Brown had also headed an Arabian horse association. Last week, as criticism of his response to the disaster swelled, Bush gave him a public vote of confidence, saying, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
Brown's biography on the FEMA Web site said he had once served as an "assistant city manager with emergency services oversight," but Time quoted an official in Edmond, Oklahoma, as saying the job was actually "assistant to the city manager," with little responsibility. The magazine also said Brown padded his academic accomplishments.
"The assistant is more like an intern," city spokeswoman Claudia Deakins told the magazine. "Department heads did not report to him."
"Now, for you people who are saying, 'Well, stop pointing fingers at the president ... left-wing ... the media's being too hard.' No. Shut up. No. This is inarguably -- inarguably -- a failure of leadership from the top of the federal government.
"Remember when Bill Clinton went out with Monica Lewinsky? That was inarguably a failure of judgment at the top. Democrats had to come out and risk losing credibility if they did not condemn Bill Clinton for his behavior. I believe Republicans are in the same position right now. And I will say this: Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. The only difference is this: Tens of thousands of people weren't stranded in Monica Lewinsky's vagina."
rfkj, on Friday, September 9, 2005 at 9:34 AM:
On Countdown last night, Keith Olberman was talking to a reporter at the Astrodome. The reporter was saying that there was some pressure to get the evacuees out of there as quickly as possible--and remember, these are people with quite literally nowhere else to go--because FOOTBALL SEASON was going to start. "Good to know we've got our priorities straight," deadpanned Olberman.
Hey, I know, we'll bribe 'em!
I don't even know what to say about this.
Cash handed to hurricane victims
... The Federal Emergency Management Agency, scorched by criticism that it failed to act fast and fully when the storm hit, was handing out $2,000 debit cards to thousands of survivors. At the Houston Astrodome where 16,000 New Orleans evacuees are being housed, long lines formed to collect the cards. ...
heather, on Thursday, September 8, 2005 at 5:50 PM:
I heard on the radio this morning that they *told* people they were going to hand out $2000 debit cards, and a tonne of people showed up and lined up for them, but they actually never really had them to hand out and no one knew what was going on...
Oh, really? What a )(!*# surprise.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, facing demands for an investigation into what went wrong in the initial response to Hurricane Katrina, resisted any immediate probe on Tuesday into what has become the worst U.S. humanitarian crisis ever.
[ . . . ]
Bush, after a Cabinet meeting devoted to the myriad challenges posed in the wake of the crisis, said he wanted to save lives and solve problems before assessing blame.
"I think one of the things that people want us to do is to play a blame game," Bush told reporters. "We've got to solve problems. We're problem solvers. There will be ample time for people to figure out what went right, and what went wrong. What I'm interested (in) is helping save lives."
So much has happened...
... while I've been switching hosts. I think my response to the last several days comes down to these statements, in no particular order:
I don't know who's fundamentally to blame for the lack of response. I don't know what their motivation was, or if (as usual) it was simply compounded incompetance.
I do know that we could have, and in fact have been predicting just this kind of disaster, since before Memphis Minnie and her husband Kansas Joe recorded "When the Levee Breaks" back in 1929.
I don't know if Kanye West is right. But he did manage to provoke discussion.
It may be true that people in New Orleans should have done more for themselves, either by leaving earlier or by taking more initiative to keep their surroundings as tidy as possible under the situation. However, I have never been in their historical, socio-economic, or immediate circumstances, so I can't really say what I would have done in that situation.
Finally, I know that when there is a congressional hearing, Aaron Broussard's raw, bereft interview must be admitted as testimony.
Karl, on Tuesday, September 6, 2005 at 4:06 PM:
i think that you statement "as usual it was simply compounded incompetance" hit the mental nerve rather well.
david adam edelstein, on Tuesday, September 6, 2005 at 4:12 PM:
Unfortunately my spelling of it also seems to demonstrate my *incompetence*.
(Here are the rants I posted while I was in the middle of changing hosts)
A perspective from outside the US
Passed on by an Australian co-worker:
Thirty years ago after Cyclone Tracy, within 36 hours, including Christmas Day, Australia had a flotilla of planes flying aid and equipment in and people out of Darwin. Almost 100,000 people were evacuated to other capital cities within hours and days, not weeks. The evacuation of Darwin was finished in four days, not started. And in contrast to Katrina, the severity of Tracy was largely unexpected.
Even still more cheery information
Mr. Jahrling, ever the bluebird of sunshine, continues to feed me links like this depressingly-titled article from Scientific American: Drowning New Orleans. Nobody could have predicted it, my ASS. That article is from October of 2001. If you don't look at anything else, check out this chilling illustration.
Next, Rove takes fiddle lessons
It just keeps getting better, or worse, depending on your perspective. The greatest natural disaster in modern American history is happening. Bush finally drags himself away from his vacation, and tells people down there not to be naughty looters and to chin up, it's all going to be OK. And instead of walking back and forth with a concerned look in DC or, say, the FEMA offices in Houston, what does Dr. Condi do?
Breaking: Condi Rice Spends Salary on ShoesCome on, people. New Orleans has become a gruesomely realized scene from Hieronymous Bosch. And Condi goes fucking shoe shopping?
What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
Homeland security, my ass
Well, we're not quite up yet, but I still had to post a link to this article.
Why the Levee Broke
[ . . . ]
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
[ . . . ]
UPDATE: Here's an eloquent piece by Molly Ivins on the same subject, courtesy of Mr. Jahrling.
I'm sure he meant "... on a date!"
I had a long rant written in my head about Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez... but then I saw DC Simpson's much more eloquent and succinct take on the issue: What would Jesus do?
For accuracy's sake, here's the actual quote:
Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a presidential candidate in 1988, said on Monday of Chavez, one of Bush's most vocal critics: "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability." He made the comments during his "The 700 Club" television program.
Anyone want to take any bets on how long it'll take the White House to repudiate Robertson's suggestion? Yes, there are spots in the pool for both "a laughably long time" and "never".
The white house press office says "blah blah blah"
OK, it's a cheap shot, but still funny. Thanks for the tip go to Uncle Vinny, who says "Renewal in Iraq, eh?"
What part of this seems reasonable?
OK, maybe it's because of my long, long week (this last leg of Virtual Earth is aging me somethin' fierce), but I just can't see how someone could justify any of this with a straight face.
White House Calls Editing Climate Files Part of Usual Review
Bush administration officials said yesterday that revisions to reports on climate change made by Philip A. Cooney, a former oil-industry lobbyist now working at the White House, were part of the normal review before publishing projects that involved many agencies.
At his morning briefing for reporters, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, defended Mr. Cooney's participation and said the reports were "scientifically sound."
[ . . . ]
The revisions, many of which cast doubt on findings that climate scientists say are robust, prompted strong criticisms of the administration from scientists and environmental groups after they were reported yesterday in The New York Times.
Mr. Cooney, 45, is chief of staff to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which helps shape and carry out the president's environmental policies. A lawyer with no scientific training, he moved to the White House in 2001 after having worked for more than 10 years for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil-industry lobby. His last title there was climate team leader, and his focus was defeating plans to restrict heat-trapping gases.
[ . . . ]
Seriously, now. What the fuck?
Savannah, on Thursday, June 9, 2005 at 5:27 PM:
But you see, David, they're an empire now. And when they act, they create their own reality. They're history's actors, David, and we, all of us, will be left to just study what they do.
(Paraphrased from the immortal and terrifying "Without a Doubt" article.)
So when they changed the meaning of the report, don't you see, they were changing the facts about climate. Because when they act, they create their own reality. It's simple really.
Don't you feel better now?
Timothy, on Thursday, June 9, 2005 at 6:08 PM:
Back in 2000 bushie said that "they need to do more research" about global warming to have the facts straight - the SAME exact thign he said this week during a press con with his buddy Blair ... When you have "interests" one must be careful - it's his retirement fund you know ....
And now I feel a little less ashamed to work there. From the NY Times:
In a Reverse, Microsoft Says It Supports Gay Rights Bill
Microsoft, faced with unrelenting criticism from employees and gay rights groups over its decision to abandon support of a gay rights bill in Washington state, reversed course again yesterday and announced that it was now in support of the bill.
Steve Ballmer, the company's chief executive, announced the reversal in an e-mail message sent to 35,000 employees in the United States. "After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Mr. Ballmer said.
He added: "I respect that there will be different viewpoints. But as C.E.O., I am doing what I believe is right for our company as a whole."
[ . . . ]
In yesterday's message Mr. Ballmer suggested that employees' responses had helped persuade Microsoft officials to renew their backing of the measure. More than 1,500 employees signed an internal petition demanding that the company support the bill, and scores wrote in protest to Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Gates.
A Microsoft executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that senior company officials met after Microsoft's widely publicized turnaround on the bill prompted an uproar, and that they had decided to change the company's stance because of pressure from employees.
[ . . . ]
But the company's decision disappointed others, including Microsoft employees who belong to the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. The church is led by the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, who met with Microsoft officials twice about the bill and claimed to have persuaded them to change their position on it.
[ . . . ]
Dr. Hutcherson, whose church offices are near Microsoft's headquarters, said earlier that he believed his boycott threat had persuaded Microsoft not to support the bill. He did not respond to messages left yesterday on his cellphone and at his office.
Oh, the shame
In a move that has made me more angry than any software or technology decision my employers at Microsoft have ever made, they withdrew their support for a bill in the Washington Legislature targeted at preventing discrimination against my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
Why, you ask? Because one hateful pastor at a suburban mega-church in Redmond threatened them. You can read the details here, since I don't have the heart to repost them: Microsoft Caves on Gay Rights.
What's particularly disheartening about this is that Microsoft has historically had a very progressive view of gay rights within the company. They've had domestic partner benefits for years. There's a very strong diversity program within the company. Hell, there's even a page on the recruiting web site crowing about their committment to diversity.
A few years ago, in an effort to make sure the corporate culture was based on something besides "win at any cost", the execs introduced a set of company values that employees were then (among other things) reviewed on in our annual performance reviews. Here they are:
- Integrity and honesty
- Passion for customers, partners, and technology
- Open and respectful with others and dedicated to making them better
- Willingness to take on big challenges and see them through
- Self critical, questioning and committed to personal excellence and self improvement
- Accountable for commitments, results, and quality to customers, shareholders, partners and employees.
Clearly, caving on this issue has given the lie to several of these. Willingness to take on big challenges? Dedicated to being open and respectful? Accountable for commitments? Yeah.
I've written to several of the execs asking them how they think this is a demonstration of our company values. We'll see what they have to say.
Update: Here's the NY Times' report.
The plutocrats activate my latent commie streak
The "screw the poor" bill, AKA the bankruptcy "reform" bill, started the phrase "wage slaves" rattling around in my head, and as I announced at dinner last night I had to do SOMETHING to get it out of my head. Thus, the poster below.
Click the image to download a PDF, suitable for printing as large as you like.
I really don't know what to say about this, except to direct your attention to the emphasized quote, which says a great deal about our current cultural climate.
Lesbian's picture in tux banned from school yearbook
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) County school officials are backing a principal's decision to bar a picture of a lesbian student dressed in a tuxedo from the high school yearbook.
Sam Ward, principal of Fleming Island High School, said he pulled the senior class picture because Kelli Davis was wearing boy's clothes. His decision was debated Thursday at a Clay County school board meeting that drew 200 people, but the board took no action, and Superintendent David Owens said the decision will stand.
Most of the 24 people who spoke at the meeting supported Kelli Davis.
"This is not to be treated as a gay rights issue," said her mother, Cindi Davis. "Rather it's a human rights issue."
Others applauded Ward's decision, including Karen Gordon, who said, "When uniformity is compromised, then authority no longer holds."
Officials at the northeastern Florida school have said the picture was pulled from the yearbook because Davis did not follow the rules on dress. School board attorney Bruce Bickner said there is no written dress code for senior pictures, but principals have the authority to set standards.
The student editor of the yearbook, Keri Sewell, was fired after refusing her adviser's order to take the picture out.
heather, on Saturday, March 5, 2005 at 8:35 AM:
I applaud Keri Sewell - the student editor. Good for her!
Robert Jahrling, on Sunday, March 6, 2005 at 12:23 PM:
Here's an idea for an action item...get as many high schools as you possibly can to publish this girl's picture in their yearbooks and comp her a copy of the book. I otherwise have nothing coherent to say about this item except AAAAAGGGGHHHHHH.
Laura Zeigen, on Monday, March 7, 2005 at 6:49 AM:
Joan of Arc was ostensibly finally brought up on charges by the English, not for defying them in battle, but for wearing men's clothing. I cannot believe that we are still fighting this particular, stupid battle so many centuries later...
Kari Sewell, on Tuesday, March 29, 2005 at 10:57 AM:
I just wanted to say thank you for the support-my name is Kari Sewell, and I'm that editor you speak of.
kaecee, on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 at 1:38 PM:
Twenty years ago in the early 80's, as a lampoon on this awful high school fertility ritual or whatever the hell it is, I ran for homecoming queen in a tuxedo and top hat. (I didn't win, natch.) This set my small No.Cal town all astir. My grandparents begged me not to go through with the awards ceremony because their friends would think I was a lesbian. To their credit, the school allowed it.
Curse those wasteful big-government initiatives
Oh, wait... but this was the President's idea. (Emphasis mine)
Report Faults Bush Initiative on Education
Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that had usurped state and local control of public schools.
The report, based on hearings in six cities, praised the law's goal of ending the gap in scholastic achievement between white and minority students. But most of the 77-page report, which the Education Department rebutted yesterday, was devoted to a detailed inventory and discussion of its flaws.
It said the law's accountability system, which punishes schools whose students fail to improve steadily on standardized tests, undermined school improvement efforts already under way in many states and relied on the wrong indicators. The report said that the law's rules for educating disabled students conflicted with another federal law, and that it presented bureaucratic requirements that failed to recognize the tapestry of educational challenges faced by teachers in the nation's 15,000 school districts.
"Under N.C.L.B., the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in the report, which was written by a panel of 16 state legislators and 6 legislative staff members.
OK, I know I've asked this before... but these plutocrats engage in wasteful spending, and their programs increase the size of government... what part of the Republican party's values do they really represent?
Robert Jahrling, on Friday, February 25, 2005 at 6:32 AM:
Cue the countdown to Little George's press conference announcing that the aforementioned panel has praised the "success" of NCLB. We have always been at war with Eurasia.
NO REALLY everything's FINE just FINE
Yeah. Sure it is.
Marines Miss January Goal for Recruits
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: February 3, 2005
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 - For the first time in nearly a decade, the Marine Corps in January missed its monthly recruiting goal, in what military officials said was the latest troubling indicator of the Iraq war's impact on the armed services.
The struggles of the Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard to recruit and retain soldiers have received national attention in recent months. But the recent failure of the Marines, who historically have had the luxury of turning away willing recruits, is a potential problem for the service.
The Marines missed their January goal of 3,270 recruits by 84 people, or less than 3 percent. The Marines last missed a monthly goal in July 1995, and 1995 was also the last full year in which the corps fell short of its annual recruiting quota, said Maj. Dave Griesmer, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina, said, "It's most troubling because the Marines tend to attract people who are the most macho, seek the most danger and are attracted by the service most likely to put them into combat."
Senior Marine personnel officials say that one month is hardly a trend, that the Marine Corps is slightly ahead of pace for the fiscal year beginning last October and that they fully expect to meet their overall goal for the year. But senior officers acknowledge that the drop in January - and close calls in November and December - could be linked to the widely publicized risks in Iraq.
"Do Iraq and Afghanistan have an impact? Yes," Brig. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, the head of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, said in a telephone interview. "But I am very optimistic we will meet our goal over all."
[ . . . ]
Echo... echo... echo...
TomPaine.com has a rather depressing reprint of a New York Times article from 1967 on their site today:
Plus Ca Change...
The following 1967 New York Times article was forwarded to me by a wry but incisive observer of U.S. misadventures in Iraq, Pat Lang. It is eerily familiar:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to The New York Times
September 4, 1967, p.2
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
According to reports from Saigon, 83 percent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.
A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.
[ . . . ]
Laura, on Wednesday, February 2, 2005 at 9:59 PM:
And now for something even further back, a quote from American Scholar, forwarded to me by one of my colleagues:
"I say we had best look our times and lands searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease. Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us. The underlying principles of the States are not honestly believed in (for all this hectic glow, and these melodramatic screamings), nor is humanity itself believ'd in. What penetrating eye does not everywhere see through the mask? The spectacle is appalling. We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout."--Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas, 1871.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Sunday, February 6, 2005 at 7:55 PM:
Democracy Has to Start Somewhere
"It's now a week since Iraqis flooded the streets for their first free election in decades, and America, midwife to the birth of Arab democracy, is still in relieved thrall. Sunni clerics urged boycotts; the French dripped ridicule; terrorists promised to wash the streets with the blood of anyone foolish enough to cast a ballot. And 6 in 10 eligible Iraqis - roughly equal to the turnout in President Bush's own victory last November - voted anyway.
Honestly, has there ever been an election so inspiring?
Unfortunately, yes. Ponder the first sentences of one dispatch from this newspaper's archives: "United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election," it reads, "despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong."
That appeared in September 1967. Last week, Mr. Bush proclaimed that Iraq tests "our generational commitment to the advance of freedom." In 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union proclaimed a test of American will to "keep alive the hope of independence and stability for people other than ourselves."
But wait: there are other parallels. If Baghdad voters can look disturbingly like voters in Saigon, the building of an Iraqi democracy has its own, sometimes more promising soulmates. Take South Africa, where an oppressed majority reconciled with its minority oppressors, or El Salvador, where representative government weathered a major-party boycott not totally unlike last week's Sunni boycott of the Iraqi vote.
In these and other cases, the democratic road began with a bracing show of popular support - massive turnouts for elections, or throngs of peaceful protesters in a Belgrade square. But as Vietnam and, more lately, the former Soviet Union prove, oppressed people will always show up en masse to choose their own fate, even if that fate turns out to be more oppression. Last week's good news from Baghdad was not so much that voters turned out - history forecast that - as that they did not defy history by sitting on their hands.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Sunday, February 6, 2005 at 8:00 PM:
And then Richard Clarke has an interesting response to the typical media adulations.
The legacy of Dr. King
I didn't have much to say about Dr. King this year, but Rabbi Yonah comes through for us:
... those cretins who seek to ignore, yeh to destroy, the legacy of MLK, and the national holiday which bears his name, are cantankerous ogres in search of legitimacy. They are venomous monsters who aim to not only destroy the good, the absolute righteousness that MLK fought for with words and deeds, but to revert America to a stratified, segregated, white-male dominated society, where women, minorities, and the disenfranchised ride in the back.
As Jews we have a moral obligation, a mitvah, to categorically reject these false-prophets which preach the hate and bigotry, whether they wear a white klan outfit, or a three-piece-suit...
The rest is worth a read, too.
On a somewhat more hopeful note
There's a good article in the Seattle Times' weekend magazine about two local companies that treat their employees well, and (shock and horror) it actually helps their bottom line. You may recognize one of them:
MARY GRAHAM'S morning shift usually starts at 5:30, but some days she's in the food court by 2 a.m., ponytail tucked in her regulation hairnet, spraying cleaner on the crud in the ovens and scrubbing until they gleam, work she must finish by dawn when the bakers come in.
So why is this woman smiling?
How about $13 an hour, waaay-fat for fast-food work in Washington? Full medical and dental benefits for herself and her five children under the age of 14? A scholarship program, and two weeks' paid vacation? A boss who helped arrange a schedule so she could be home to meet the school bus? "They are very respectful, they've been here before," she says of her managers most of whom are promoted from within.
A single parent with a GED, Graham is no stranger to the lowest (legal) rungs of the economy. She's been a part-time receptionist for $7 an hour, no benefits; a waitress at a franchise diner where she had to share meager tips and couldn't afford the health-care plan. At 44, she has, as a service assistant in Costco's Issaquah food court, her first taste of the American dream.
"It's not minimum wage. I can afford a car. I can afford my kids' school clothes without help. I don't have to go to the food bank. I'm not on welfare. I appreciate it. I've never been able to do that before."
One reason, of course, is her employer.
Economists will tell you there are at least two reliable, legal ways to make money in America.
One is to fleece the workers, taking not only their wool but their skin. A proven model resulting, the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., tells us, in CEOs earning in a day and a half what took their beleaguered flock a year to earn in 2003.
Or, there's the Henry Ford model: Pay people well enough that they stick around, cutting both turnover and training costs while boosting efficiency. Better yet, pay them well enough so they can even go out and buy something. Witness Mary Graham, this year able to afford a flute for her daughter in band at school. She took a first-ever vacation at the beach with her kids last summer. Before, it was rides on the state ferries or walking around Seattle Center. She's even started saving in a 401(k) retirement account which Costco contributes to, even if she doesn't.
Check out the rest of the article... it's nice to see that the handbasket isn't moving as fast as it could be.
Of course, it's not all roses: The other reason Costco does so well is because American consumerism is rampant. We don't shop there because they don't carry any of the recycled or organic or free-range foods we prefer to buy. But still... neither does Wal-Mart, and they lock their workers in at night.
heather, on Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 2:15 PM:
I saw that article this morning in the paper and was really impressed. And happy to see Dick's Drive-in was one of the two companies... mmmmm :-)
BlueNiner, on Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 8:52 PM:
As I learn more about the history of western civ. the more parallels I see to modern day. I can't just be making this stuff up in my head. Perhaps it is better to not know history, then it will all seem new. Glad to see local businesses getting positive press for the socially responsible thigns that they do.
Here we go
Damn, I hate re-run season. Check out that last line from the flack:
Report: U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.
The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.
Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."
One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."
The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But it disputed the report by Hersh, who last year exposed the extent of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
"We obviously have a concern about Iran. The whole world has a concern about Iran," Dan Bartlett, a top aide to President Bush, told CNN's "Late Edition."
[ . . . ]
Discussion question: How can you establish a common basis for arguing the future implications of the US jollystomping its way around the Muslim world with people who believe in the End Of Days, and therefore don't believe in the future?
Karl, on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 12:26 PM:
Though it is a common practice for the responsible members of the western world (not France ;> ) to monitor possible areas of trouble, especially with respect to nuclear material. If it were a matter as simple as irrational religious beliefs with regard to misguided Americans, I do not believe the actions of the past few years would have happened. It is far too easy to blame it on or take refuge in religion. The men in power on both sides of the conflict are not likely religious so much as "in power". Whatever mask that must be worn, will be by the people who are causing this mess.
Old cold warriors who were hoodwinked, will use the methods of their youth (force) to ensure their continued power and usefulness. Old mullahs will manipulate any and all to do the same. The difference lies in a quote from a Turkish woman wise in the ways of economics, they have nothing to lose, referring to the population in that part of the world. Dominated from the outside and within for millennia, they will do anything for the idea of self-government, even submit to dictatorial rule if there is the premise that it is their choice.
On the other hand, we have everything to lose, but struggle to find our place in the world nonetheless. These things will continue to happen until Americans collectively realize that they cannot make choices for the rest of the world without reaping the horrible rewards. We give them the money, the power, and the reasons to fight us. Its not just some of us, but all of us. Our influence is not just through force, but our money. Like the dog that bites the hand that feeds it, it will certainly bite the foot that kicks.
And... let's have a bit more doublethink
I don't even know what to say.
White House Fought Curbs on Interrogations
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration urged Congress to drop a legislative proposal that would have curbed the ability of U.S. intelligence to use extreme interrogation tactics, the White House acknowledged on Thursday.
But White House spokesman Scott McClellan insisted President Bush has made clear that his administration opposes the use of torture under any circumstances.
"We've made it very clear that we do not condone torture. The president would never authorize torture and that applies to everyone," he said at a news briefing.
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 12:41 PM:
We have always been at war with Eurasia.
WMDs: the inevitable conclusion
No surprises here... except of course that people continue to believe the opposite.
U.S. Ends Fruitless Iraq Weapons Hunt
WASHINGTON (AP) - The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has quietly concluded without any evidence of the banned weapons that President Bush cited as justification for going to war, the White House said Wednesday.
[ . . . ]
The Iraq Survey Group, made up of some 1,200 military and intelligence specialists and support staff, spent nearly two years searching military installations, factories and laboratories whose equipment and products might be converted quickly to making weapons.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said there no longer is an active search for weapons and the administration does not hold out hopes that any weapons will be found. "There may be a couple, a few people, that are focused on that" but that it has largely concluded, he said.
"If they have any reports of (weapons of mass destruction) obviously they'll continue to follow up on those reports," McClellan said. "A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Bush should explain what happened.
"Now that the search is finished, President Bush needs to explain to the American people why he was so wrong, for so long, about the reasons for war," she said.
"After a war that has consumed nearly two years and millions of dollars, and a war that has cost thousands of lives, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, nor has any evidence been uncovered that such weapons were moved to another country," Pelosi said in a written statement. "Not only was there not an imminent threat to the United States, the threat described in such alarmist tones by President Bush and the most senior members of his administration did not exist at all."
Hang on... wait for the punchline...
"Nothing's changed in terms of his views when it comes to Iraq, what he has previously stated and what you have previously heard," McClellan said. "The president knows that by advancing freedom in a dangerous region we are making the world a safer place."
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 6:59 AM:
Perhaps we'll find WMDs in the ruins of the Social Security system.
Regarding the punchline...I read an article recently that said that nobody is quite sure who the candidates are in the Iraqi presidential "election" because none of them have actually stepped forward. They're too afraid of being murdered. I wonder what Little George thinks of that. If he thinks at all.
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 8:09 AM:
No, wait, it gets better. From another article on the same subject: "When asked directly whether the invasion of Iraq was worth the cost of an increasingly violent war, Bush said: 'Oh, absolutely.'" The implications are mind-boggling.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 11:51 AM:
You seem to forget that, once made, God's mind doesn't change.
Are you ready for the Rapture?
The world knows
The setup: Richard Gere tapes a 15-second ad encouraging Palestinians to vote in the upcoming elections.
They have no clue who the hell he is.
But the best part is the last line here:
... many voters, already struggling with the labyrinthine politics of the West Bank and Gaza, say they have never heard of the actor who swept Debra Winger off her feet as a dashing Navy officer in the 1982 film "An Officer and a Gentleman" and were even less interested when they were told he's an American.
"I don't even know who the candidates are other than Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), let alone this Gere," Gaza soap factory worker Manar an-Najar told Reuters.
"We don't need the Americans' intervention. We know who to elect. Not like them -- they elected a moron."
Full article: Appeal by Pretty Woman Star Perplexes Palestinians.
Andrew, on Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 9:02 PM:
That's a great quote. I particularly like the bit about Americans voting in a moron. :-)
Rabbi Yonah, on Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 11:35 PM:
Washed Up Actor Washes Up in Mideast. Oy Vey!
Sarah, on Monday, January 10, 2005 at 5:26 AM:
My friend Nahil is studying in Jerusalem at the moment, and apparently Richard Gere made a number of visits there last year. I guess it's a cause he's passionate about, even if no one seems to know who he is. I wonder if he's as unrecognizeable in Tibet?
Karl, on Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 7:14 AM:
Just goes to show that at least the rest of the world is smart enough to ignore actors, even if we arent. (mumbles actors and morons stupid Americans)
The urban archipelago
Y'all may have seen this editorial that appeared in The Stranger while I was OOC, but if you haven't, it's worth a read:
To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas. Instead we will work toward winning health care one blue state at a time.
When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. The only time urbanists should concern themselves with the environment is when we are impacted--directly, not spiritually (the depressing awareness that there is no unspoiled wilderness out there doesn't count). Air pollution, for instance: We should be aggressive. If coal is to be burned, it has to be burned as cleanly as possible so as not to foul the air we all have to breathe. But if West Virginia wants to elect politicians who allow mining companies to lop off the tops off mountains and dump the waste into valleys and streams, thus causing floods that destroy the homes of the yokels who vote for those politicians, it no longer matters to us. Fuck the mountains in West Virginia--send us the power generated by cleanly burned coal, you rubes, and be sure to wear lifejackets to bed.
Wal-Mart is a rapacious corporation that pays sub-poverty-level wages, offers health benefits to its employees that are so expensive few can afford them, and destroys small towns and rural jobs. Liberals in big cities who have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart spend a lot of time worrying about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the heartland. No more. We will do what we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our cities and, if at all possible, out of our states. We will pass laws mandating a living wage for full-time work, upping the minimum wage for part-time work, and requiring large corporations to either offer health benefits or pay into state- or city-run funds to provide health care for uninsured workers. That will reform Wal-Mart in our blue cities and states or, better yet, keep Wal-Mart out entirely. And when we see something on the front page of the national section of the New York Times about the damage Wal-Mart is doing to the heartland, we will turn the page. Wal-Mart is not an urban issue.
Continue reading The Urban Archipelago.
One of the better rants I've read in a long time
It starts out like this, all linked and everything:
Fuck the South. Fuck 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.
And now what do we get? We're the fucking Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really?
Cause we fucking founded this country, assholes. Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence? Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?
You really need to read the rest.
heather, on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 7:43 PM:
BlueNiner, on Thursday, November 11, 2004 at 9:45 PM:
Wow.... that was incredibly we'll written and articulate for an outright rant... of course with the changes in our country now some of you might begin to understand why I've always firmly believe that we NEED the right to keep and bear arms. Give it up if you think it won't make a difference, but I still belive it keeps some power brokers in check...
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, November 12, 2004 at 6:59 AM:
Now now... that's exactly what the ranter (and the article from Mother Jones) is talking about. Nobody here is questioning the second half of that amendment; it's just that the NRA finds it convenient to ignore the first half of that amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."
If you hold the second half of the amendment as holy, it is disingenuous to pretend the first half doesn't exist.
Savannah, on Friday, November 12, 2004 at 7:44 AM:
Having a firearm might, if you're lucky, save your life from an intruder or stalker. (If you're not, you won't get to it in time and/or they'll just grab it and say "Hey thanks!") It will not offer you any real protection against the police or FBI or CIA should you happen to be confronted by them in a threatening situation. Has there *ever* been *any* case in which a fugitive won a stand-off or shootout with the police? Never. One individual with a firearm cannot stand against professionals with body armor, weapons of their own, the ability to call for backup from SWAT teams with helicopters that have infrared sensors and can coordinate with the cars and people on foot...I mean, forget it. That is why we all need to vote for bleeding-heart liberals who do not get massively hard at the thought of being in command of such force and fantasize about who they're going to use it against once Alberto "Forget Habeas Corpus And Torture The Hell Out Of 'Em" Gonzales's legislation gets passed.
BlueNiner, on Friday, November 12, 2004 at 9:21 AM:
The fact of the matter is that the controversy focuses on the 2nd half of the amendment. It's not that the first half of the amendment is being ignored its just that no one is really trying to repeal that one at the moment. There are two distinct ideas combined into one sentence. Both important and critical to the development of a free society. We should not lose either one. It's too bad that we can not see the origional draft as it's most likely they were two statements that were combined to get the count down to 10 amendments. I bet it made sence at the time and the writers never imagined what the twist of time would do.
The first half addresses the states rights to maintain a milita, most likely to protect the state from the federal government. The second half addresses the need for individual citizens to defend and protect themselves from both the state and the federal government. One should remeber that a majority of the 'freedom fighters', people who would be classified as terrorists in todays society, were simple farmers with guns. They came from oppressed, disarmed societies and wanted to make sure that no matter what they and their decendants atleast had a chance to band together and fight against an overwhelming force. I don't really know if it would work in the current society we've created for ourselves and I'm not sure losing the 2nd amendment formally will really make a difference at this point. I do believe retoric matters and that when it's all said and done the 2nd amendment is really the only thing the average citizen has to fall back on to enforce the other 9. It may be gone already, but when it goes formally then you are done and you might not believe it or understand it, but history will mark it as the end of America.
As for the 'giving up'/surrender argument, we'll I suppose it could be argued that one person has never made a difference against overwhelming force, but I happen to disagree. Violence is not always the best option or even a good option. Personally I've found many better solutions over the years, but ruling out violence without proper consideration is as foolish as jumping to it without consideration of other alternatives. Appeals to Ignorance are by definition fallacious arguments.
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, November 12, 2004 at 9:35 AM:
The problem with your argument is that a militia specifically refers to your "simple farmers with guns". It doesn't mean the national guard, or an army, it means regular people who may be called upon to help the regular army defend the country.
Again, the NRA finds it convenient to talk about two entirely separate meanings, but it's a pretty fragile rhetorical construct.
Savannah, on Friday, November 12, 2004 at 12:04 PM:
Hmm, I thought "State" in the 2nd Amendment referred to the country as a whole. I don't interpret it as insurance for the other nine amendments, but as insurance against foreign attack (which, given the proximity of the British, French, Spanish, and unconquered Native American tribes to the shaky new nation, was a constant threat).
So I find it highly unlikely that "State" is supposed to be interpreted in the way BlueNiner described. Americans are not supposed to meet attempted oppression by their own government with force, but with recourse to law. That is why we *have* the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights doesn't *contain* insurance, the Bill of Rights *is* the insurance. Its clear attempt is to render anti-state violence *unnecessary* by creating an interlocking grid of absolute legal protections for all citizens. It enables us, if (god forbid) faced with wrongful arrest, to *avoid* a desperate attempt at self preservation by violence, but to take a deep breath, go forward, and say "It will be all right; they *can't* arrest me for having a copy of Das Kapital/Mein Kampf/How To Survive The Bush Years/The Story of O/Whatever; I can get a lawyer and we'll sort this out." That's what civil society is all about. And that's why the attacks on civil liberties by the Bushies are so scary.
In all of this, I agree: guns are a symbol. But if they could really help us be free or safe, believe me--the Bushies would be leading the charge to take them away. Like they took away our right to know if the police have searched our homes. The fact that the Bushies have done that, but have not bothered with our firearms, suggests to me that they consider firearms completely irrelevant to the exercize of our rights and freedoms--and that we should, too.
Derek, on Tuesday, November 16, 2004 at 8:29 AM:
I think one point we are forgetting about guns is they also have uses outside of home defense or holing up in your bunker while holding off the ATF and/or FBI. A lot of law-abiding citizens use guns for hunting. I have no problem banning handguns, since those are really only good for one thing - killing people, but we shouldn't tar shotguns or hunting rifles with the same brush. Or more specifically, let's not tar all gun owners with the same brush; some are anti-social whack jobs and some are just folks who enjoy hunting.
However, 'assault weapons' or any military-grade weapons (submachine guns, battle rifles, etc.) should be banned outright. There is no need for anyone to have an AK47 with a 30-round banana clip for home defense or otherwise. Anyone who claims that this sort of weapon is for home defense or hunting is an idiot. If you try and shoot an intruder with a military-grade round such as a 7.62mm or 5.56mm, for example, it will go through the intruder, through the next room and most likely out of the house (maybe hitting a casual bystander). Alternately, these guns are totally unsuited for hunting because they do not have the accuracy needed for hunting.
Still. We've been through worse as a planet. We'll get through this.
If you consider that the current political spectrum, from center to right with no mention of left, is the result of 20 years of work by the neocons to pull the country to the right -- with footsoldiers like Rush and Ann scaring the country like Mr. and Mrs. Sprat incarnated as sheepdogs moving a herd -- then getting nearly 50% is actually a pretty significant success.
Not, of course, quite the success we had hoped for.
I don't quite know what comes next. But once the shock wears off, and the planning begins, I think shrub is going to find the 50 million people who voted against him a bit of a distraction.
BlueNiner, on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 9:18 AM:
Just don't buy into the reconcilliation retoric this time. I'm already appaled at how many honest citizens have simply forgotten what happened last time when they bought into it. People... you're not dealing with rational people no matter how much you want to be. Yes we need to 'suck it up' and move on, but that shouldn't for a moment mean 'endorsement' or 'support'. You've got to stand up for Truth regardless of what fox news is telling you. Bigotry only happens when good people stand by and do nothing.
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 11:27 AM:
I don't think he'll find us a distraction at all. I think we'll continue to be as irrelevant to him as we are now. As long as he continues to pander to fear and bigotry, and as long as that is successful, truth essentially has no meaning to this administration. "We're an empire. We create our own reality."
heather, on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 1:12 PM:
Especially since, as Debra pointed out in her email, he's only going to be reaching out to the people who share his goals (and ignoring the rest of us).
Sigh. I wish I could have voted. I feel kinda lame bitching about what's happened when I don't even actually get to vote.
Sarah, on Friday, November 5, 2004 at 7:01 AM:
I have often thought that, since the leader of the U.S. is usually touted as the leader of the free world, that the REST of the free world (especially those of us who share your border) should have some say in who that leader should be. Paul Wells had a nice little diatribe about that in this week`s issue of MacLean`s.
Laura, on Friday, November 5, 2004 at 10:47 PM:
No - he's just going to ignore us just as much if not more so as he did in 2000 ("I have a mandate". What the f--).
A friend sent me the following link. Check out the "Concession" speech section down the page: http://www.felbers.net/mt/archives/2004_11.html.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Shenanigans and joy
OK, first, a beautifully understated line in our broker's quarterly letter to investors. After listing all the reasons there's a shortage of oil on the market right now -- leading to high oil prices -- he lays this one on us:
The last joker in the deck is the President ordered the Department of Energy to fill up the salt domes containing the country's Strategic Reserves. Perhaps that was a good idea, but the timing seems problematic..."
Yeah, I'll say. Oil's at a historic high, and Shrub takes the opportunity to line the pockets of his buddies in the oil industry by buying high. Nice one.
This was one of the most moving, meaningful days of my life.
My job is to get people to the polls and, more importantly, to keep them there. Because theyre crazily jammed. Crazily. No one expected this turnout. For me, its been a deeply humbling, deeply gratifying experience. At todays early vote in the College Hill district of East Tampa -- a heavily democratic, 90% African American community we had 879 voters wait an average of five hours to cast their vote. People were there until four hours after they closed (as long as theyre in line by 5, they can vote)
Heres what was so moving ...
Yes, I'm going to make you go read it for yourself.
Uncle Vinny, on Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 11:57 PM:
Bring it on home, folks.
The crabby, rambling, pre-election "I've had a cold for a week and I'm mad as hell" post
Yeah, I've had a cold for a week. I was totally useless at work on Monday, and have been home ever since. La how jolly, and boy has it done wonders for my outlook.
Exhibit A: The other day, RFKJ, Mich, Dim and I were crabbing about politics and economics in general, provoked by one of our loser classmates having floated to the top of the Hawai'i GOP. RFKJ sent us a link to a post by Rude Pundit that set me off:
The problem with that RudePundit post is that all of the heroics he cites (there's a pluralism problem in there somewhere but I can't find it right now) are things that the loonies on the other side either
1) don't believe (they still think iran-contra is purely conspiracy theory, because nobody in the Reagan whitehouse got smacked for it, and that whatsisname who took the fall is a hero of the conservative side, and thus perfectly good as a talk radio host)
2) don't appreciate -- see Iran-Contra as well; they still think whatsisname who I still can't remember was a lone gun operating alone, and that The Greatest President In American History, Ronald Rambo, uh, Raygun, whatever, that he had nothing whatsoever to do with it because after all he was such a hero, right?
3) really don't understand, like the whole BCCI fiasco. I personally never got it until I saw an essay in a book on information design by the guy who was tasked with designing an infographic on it for, I think, the Wall Street Journal (truly a heroic act of information design, but I digress) which showed his graphic, and clarified the relationships for me in a way that I had never gotten before.
If the last four years have proven anything to me, it's that, no, despite all of my liberal "people are fundamentally smart and good" views, really, the great bulk of Americans are fucking numbed sheep who are only a half-step away from needing someone to wipe the drool off their cheeks while they slump semi-conscious in front of fox news.
You want America? This is America. (RIP Garry Winogrand).
STOMP STOMP STOMP
Now, I've gotten a little better since Wednesday and I'm no longer semi-hysterical, so I have a slightly more reasoned perspective... although, frankly, I don't see anything in that statement that I would disavow (or, you know, I wouldn't post it on the web for the whole world to see).
But what I'm more interested in today -- and what's been interesting me for a few months now, really -- is a simple question for 50% of likely voters in the US:
At what point did you part ways with reality?
I'm not talking here about simple disagreements, or unverifiable statements -- was Bush's election legitimate, did his administration drop the ball on Al Qaeda before 9/11, should he have leapt to action instead of hanging out in the classroom, does his tax cut serve only the wealthiest of Americans or is that actually a reasonable strategy to improve the economy, etc. etc. And etc. I'm willing to put all of that aside.
What's really been fascinating me during this election (because I'm a human cognition nerd) has been the ability of the human animal to endure and absorb cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance, if you'd like a hugely overgeneralized explanation, is what you experience when your expectations of the world don't match up with what some schools of psychology call "here and now reality". For example, if you expect something to be heavy, and when you pick it up it turns out to be light, that jolt of confusion you feel is cognitive dissonance. If you've ever known someone who is certain that they're a star performer, even in the face of their manager telling them they need to shape up, that's someone who's masterful at absorbing cognitive dissonance.
Human beings are, strange to say, designed to absorb cognitive dissonance. Why? Because it's a good long-term survival strategy.
If my world view says that all sharks are dangerous, and I meet one that's friendly and likes to cuddle, it's better for my long-term survival if I'm still wary about the next shark I meet. Sure, the here and now reality of Cuddles The Tiger Shark might have contradicted my world view, but that doesn't mean I should change my world view immediately.
There's a house on my walk to the bus that is plastered with signs proclaiming their faith in the current administration, and exhorting passers-by to support our president and our troops, etc. Lately I've been entertaining a fantasy about knocking on their door, sitting down with them, and trying to understand what makes them tick. Not to convert them... I just want to ask them the same simple question:
At what point did you part ways with reality?
Can I support the president and the troops at the same time? He doesn't, clearly, or he wouldn't have cut veteran's benefits, hazardous duty benefits, family medical benefits, etc.
What makes you think the war in Iraq is still a good idea? I know plenty of people who supported the war at the beginning who have changed their minds in the face of mounting evidence. Do you still think there was a relationship between Hussein and bin Laden? Do you still think there were WMDs in Iraq? If not, why are we there? Do you really believe there's some "terrorist army" that we can defeat on the field of battle? Have we forgotten the lessons of our own revolutionary war* so quickly?
* Remember that part about the Redcoats liking to fight in long, clean lines, marching at an opposing army that was firing back at them the same way? Remember how we kicked their asses by not playing by their rules? Anyone? Anyone?
What makes you think Shrub is helping make America more safe? There are fewer first responders on the street now than there were before September of 2001. Homeland Security money was spent in areas where there's a low likelyhood of terrorist attack, and on expensive hotels for HSA officials. And now, of course, his administration has simply lost 300+ tons of explosives.
I hate the idea that the answer to all of this is "we get our news from Fox". I would hate for it to be that simple.
Robert Jahrling, on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 12:40 PM:
c.v. Ron Suskind's NYT Magazine cover story a couple of weeks ago. "Reality" is something that Bush feels that it's up to him to create. So there is no diverging from reality in this weltanschauung, because reality is what Bush says it is. For them, it's all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. They have won the victory over themselves. They love George Bush.
Robert Jahrling, on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 12:42 PM:
Yes, by "c.v.", I meant "c.f." It's been a long day.
Laura, on Friday, November 5, 2004 at 10:51 PM:
What's really been fascinating me during this election (because I'm a human cognition nerd) has been the ability of the human animal to endure and absorb cognitive dissonance.
I agree. I think, in order to accept the truth (i.e. that came out with the 9/11 commission) people would have to 1) accept that the President (to whom I think many have weird father-attachments) lied to them and 2) to accept they were f--ing stupid enough to believe him for a couple of years on this.
Yep. Cognitive dissonance rules the day. I just hope the D's get their heads out of their butts and start to understand more about the psychology of elections and voting. I think emotion will trump logic any day of the week and Those That Are Evile (aka Karl Rove et al) know all too well how to manipulate this.
I am glad you are over your cold by now and on your well to Italia. Save a space for me over there if you decide to stay a while...
RS, on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 3:06 AM:
Remember that part about the Redcoats liking to fight in long, clean lines, marching at an opposing army that was firing back at them the same way? Remember how we kicked their asses by not playing by their rules? Anyone? Anyone?
Not sure David's analogy with our own Revolution is entirely appropriate, given that the Redcoat plinking tactics were phased out rather early on in the war. The kind of sniping David is referring to probably had more psychological impact on the British troops than anything else. The smooth bore muskets then in use were just too inaccurate to do much actual damage when not massed. And the few rifles that were available took about a minute to reload, meaning almost no volume of fire. Although we had some limited success with unconventional operations in the early days of the war, it soon became apparent that the only way to win was to copy European tactics and go toe to toe with the Redcoats using their rules. It was really a function of technology. The only way to effectively put lots of led on target with muskets was to have one's troops stand shoulder to shoulder and pump out as many rounds as possible, creating a sort of "wall of lead." It was messy, but it worked. We even hired European soldiers to train our own troops in the art of linear warfare. Eventually the continentals became quite an effective force, easily the rival (at least in terms of professionalism) of the Europeans. Basically, by the time of Yorktown, there was very little difference in the tactics of both sides.
A joke for you
Q. What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?
A. George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.
eJuan, on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 5:16 AM:
Dude, you like haven't posted since forever. Entertain me.
Mr. Jahrling passed on this slogan yesterday, and I decided that it was my responsibility to make it flesh.
Click the image to download the PDF (300kb).
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, October 7, 2004 at 8:31 AM:
Nice. I just wish I could remember where I saw it in the first place!
The shoe is on the other foot, now
One of the differences I see between the left and the right is a sense of the future -- that sooner or later, we're going to have to pay an entire wind section of pipers, and maybe we ought to give some thought to that earlier rather than later. Now, this isn't true of true conservatives -- a vanishing breed -- but it is true of the greed-driven plutocrats who have largely taken over the right.
Here in Washington, for example, we have a timber industry that wants to cut trees on a 40-year rotation, because it gives more profits now. Never mind that cutting trees on a much longer rotation -- say, 80 years -- is more profitable long-term, and also happens to benefit the wildlife, water purification, and recreation uses of the land. The simple truth is that they don't have many 80-year trees "in stock" right now, and they do have a bunch of 40-year trees, so they claim a "40 year rotation" to justify their greed. Do they care what happens when they don't have any 40-year trees left? Nope... that's someone else's problem.
Every once in a while, however, you get to see a plutocrat get a little perspective. Today's bit of joy is from an article in the NY Times: Pension Failures Foil 6-Figure Retirements, Too.
Now, I do actually have sympathy for most of the people mentioned in this article. If you've worked your ass off heading towards some sort of retirement agreement with your company, and after you finish your end of the bargain they don't pony up, that's immoral. But sometimes the people who aren't paying up are just a little bit too much like you were when you were there...
When government officials proposed creating the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in the 1970's, corporations lobbied against it, arguing that few would require its benefits, while all companies with pension plans would have to pay its premiums. Some unions fought it, too, because they thought the funding requirements would divert money away from wages.
Bill Wickert, now 72 and living in Virginia, lobbied against the proposal on behalf of Bethlehem Steel. Now he is one of its beneficiaries. "Thank goodness we lost," he said.
When Bethlehem Steel's pension failed in 2002, the government covered most of Mr. Wickert's standard pension, though he lost an executive compensation package that was not covered. He and his wife have had to give up their car, a Chrysler Sebring, replacing it with a less expensive truck, and at the moment they have no life insurance.
Gee, Bill. Maybe you ought to have thought about what might happen when you got old, you dumb )(!*(#*. What about all the people who weren't going to have your reserves? What about all the people who )(&*)(! started with that less expensive truck? What cushion do they have?
What did they ever do for me?
Not original to me -- just passing it on, via Tom Tomorrow.
"A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN"
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.
If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.
The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
Here we are again.
I honestly don't have anything to add to what I said last year, except to add underlines, maybe.
The country is even more divided. We have sunk deeper into the tar pit of an unwinnable "war", our wings flapping around sickly in an attempt to get free. The rest of the world distrusts us even more. The White House and their proxy liars have gotten ever more overt about their fabrications, no longer even bothering to hide where they're getting their ideas from.
If you're looking for a more coherent rembemberance, the Bakerina has some good words on the subject.
Finally, I'd like to encourage all Bush supporters to remember to make it to the polls on Wednesday, November 3. Your vote is important!
I'm filled with confidence
Again with the politics
OK, I'm going to break my promise to myself to stay out of the whole "swift boats for truth" bullshit fest, with this beautiful document tracked down by the good folks at The Smoking Gun:
Swift Change Of Heart
Critic once saluted Kerry's bravery, loyalty, moral courage
AUGUST 20--The broadside against John Kerry's war record is particularly bizarre in light of what one of the leading bomb throwers had to say about the Democrat while both served in Vietnam. George Elliott, a key member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who appears in the anti-Kerry group's virulent TV commercial, recommended Kerry for a Bronze Star in 1969. In the below Navy report, Elliott, a lieutenant commander, recounts how Kerry was "highly courageous in the face of enemy fire" during a fight on the Bay Hap river in March 1969. During that skirmish, Elliott noted, Kerry dodged sniper fire to save a colleague who was knocked overboard when a mine detonated. In a March 1969 evaluation, Elliott reported that Kerry was involved in "several enemy initiated fire fights" and "exhibited all of the traits desired of an officer in a combat environment." A December 1969 fitness report was equally laudatory, with Elliott giving Kerry the highest possible grade available ("Is not exceeded") in most categories, including loyalty and moral courage.
Furthermore, I'd just like to quote Mr. Jahrling here again:
Let's get one last thing straight. George W. Bush was a REMF during the Vietnam war, and he couldn't even hack that. His Echelon was so far in the Rear that nobody even remembers SEEING him for several months! Kerry took fire and was decorated. And they're casting a shadow on Kerry's war record?
More coherent than I
Those who still have the stomach to follow this year's US political campaign should go read Robert's post from this morning, and the article he's linking to, for a much more coherent rant about the Bush campaign than I have yet been able to manage -- my commentary to date being more along the lines of "Aughhhhhhhhhhhhh! Aughhhhh! Eeeeeeeeeeeeee. Aughhhh."
It's not just me
Overheard just now on the elevator up to the meeting I'm early for.
Guy holding a motorcyle helmet and wearing a leather jacket, talking to another guy:
"Yeah, it's not quite the bike I wanted, but I figured it was good enough until I figured out which bike I do want -- of course, it's been two years now. I tell you, though, it's a hell of a lot better than those eco-terrorist SUVs people drive around here... I could drive to work via Spokane and use less gas than those things. But they're scary, too, especially riding a bike. People get behind the wheel in one of those, man, and they put their damn brain on the passenger seat, because they're sure as shit not using it when they're driving those things."
Nerds against Bush
OK, first off, I need to confess that I stole this from somewhere. But I can't remember where... so I decided I needed to make my own.
Download and print out this convenient 2-up PDF! Post everywhere!
Jerry Kindall, on Saturday, July 31, 2004 at 7:58 PM:
Succinct, but the 99.44% of people who don't know HTML will surely assume it's in support of Bush.
Eet eez too, 'ow you say, beautiful
Here's a fine example of humor against evil.
Our story begins, as so many of these do, with Fox's Bill O'Reilly lying. In this case, he lied about the success of a boycott against France, as our friends at Media Matters report:
Host Bill O'Reilly threatened Canada with a boycott like the one he advocated against France, then cited a phony statistic about the success of the French boycott.
[ . . . ]
O'REILLY: ...they've lost billions of dollars in France according to "The Paris Business Review."
[ . . . ]
Media Matters for America found no evidence of a publication named "The Paris Business Review." A Google.com search revealed no mentions of "Paris Business Review," "Revue des Affaires de Paris," or any similar French name. A LexisNexis search for "Paris," "France," or "French" within five words of "business review" produced no relevant results. There is a journal called "European Business Review," which is published in England; however, over the past two years, "European Business Review" has not mentioned an American boycott of France.
Furthermore, contrary to O'Reilly's claim that France has lost "billions of dollars" due to an American boycott, American imports from France have actually increased since international tensions with France began in the months prior to the start of the war in Iraq in March 2003. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in February 2004, the United States imported $2.26 billion in French goods and services, up from $2.18 billion in February 2002.
Which, OK, is great enough as it is. Not only did he lie about the existence of a publication, but our imports have actually gone up. No doubt there are plenty of us on the other end of the political spectrum trying to drink away our worries about the world on French wine... but I digress.
So. No "Paris Business Review". But wait ze minute. What eez zees URL? http://www.parisbusinessreview.com/?
Oh, mais oui. Eet eez true! Le Disastaire Economique!
Moore's little film is doing OK
By now, you all know that Fahrenheit 9/11 did very, very well in its opening weekend -- US$21.8 million, #1 at the box office, the biggest opening weekend for a feature-length documentary ever.
But I wanted to point out this paragraph from the New York Times report:
"We sold out in Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg," in North Carolina, Mr. Moore said on Sunday. "We sold out in Army-base towns. We set house records in some of these places. We set single-day records in a number of theaters. We got standing ovations in Greensboro, N.C.
"The biggest news to me this morning is this is a red-state movie," he said, referring to the state whose residents voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. "Republican states are embracing the movie, and it's sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country."
And you know what that means? That means hope.
(You know, Michael Moore's new film)
The trailer is online now. Go see it. Go see the movie when it comes out. That is all.
Richard Beers, on Thursday, June 3, 2004 at 12:12 PM:
I don't always agree with Mr Moore, but I will see this film and buy it when it's available on region 1 DVD. We need to encourage people to make and watch these kind of films.
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, June 3, 2004 at 6:44 PM:
I agree with Richard.
Moore's skills as a documentarian are kind of overshadowed by his instinct towards outlandishnes stunts--witness the truck driving through the streets, Moore's voice blaring through the loudspeaker. This makes his movies and books and TV shows much more about him than about their ostensible subjects. I've heard, though, that this movie contains comparatively less of that sort of thing.
Of course, I'm biased. I tend to gravitate towards the Errol Morris school of documentary filmmaking, which is exactly the opposite of Moore: the documentarian's voice is almost entirely absent, at least in all of the Morris films I've seen. (Another way to put it is that Morris uses only the subject's words and his images to put a point across; he doesn't inject his own physical presence into the film.)
Robert Jahrling, on Thursday, June 3, 2004 at 6:45 PM:
Argh. "Outlandish stunts," of course; I guess I didn't erase enough of "outlandishness." Or any of it, really.
Larsen, on Sunday, June 13, 2004 at 9:54 AM:
Michael Moore is a capitalist; just like those he targets for his documentaries. He films what sells. Right now his negative diatribe about President Bush is more about Michael Moore making money and proliferating the left wing agenda than it is to proliferate the truth as he has done in the past. Where is the Moore documentary about the Clinton's escapades in office? Where is his scathing review of their debacle of military command in Somalia that needlessly killed Americans? Where is his documentary about the Pork Barreling habits of SEN Robert Byrd for West Virginia? Byrd is clearly a man who abuses his position to the financial benefit of his state. What about Grey Davis's financial scandal in the rolling blackouts of the West Coast? These blackouts caused the deaths of senior citizens through heat stroke!! Of course, this wouldn't be fitting of Michael (or his wallet) anymore because it turns the cameras on those who pay him. He is glorified paparrazzi in a frivolous baseball cap. From the street dog everyone was scared of to the trained pitbull of the left, Michael clearly has sold his soul.
Michael Moore has gone from being the social conscious of America to being the wallet conscious Hollywood greed freak producing trype films for profit. The hard times that befell him and lended to him greatness in his documentary's gritty realism is left behind in the dirt as Michael went from a Plymouth to a Mercedes.
What we need for producers of documentaries are those with a social conscious and the ability to hold on to their morales and ethics. Sorry Michael, but you have sold out to the buck. Left Wing or Right Wing, the ability to stick to your beliefs is all that matters once you are dead.
Tarantino Fan, on Friday, June 18, 2004 at 10:07 PM:
Just because you want to suck Bush's cock doesn't make him right. Now I understand a Right wing conservative like you with no real education or arguments to defend your beloved President, would have to go destroy and try to defame the character of Michael Moore as a back up plan. Why didn't he make a documentary about Gray Davis? Well because, unlike Bush, the people of California fought back and said "Hey this guy is a jackass who doesn't know shit" and unlike with president Bush, the facts were presented publicly. Why not a documentary about the Clinton Admin? Well, if you knew how or even bothered to read his book "Stupid White Men" or "Downsize This" You would see he does attack the Clinton Administration, quite fiercely I might add. Unfortunatly most of Clinton's actions were overlooked with his affair and impeachment proceedings.
The reason he is fighting against Bush is because Commander in Chief there is a God damned idiot and a threat to the whole fucking world.
Ok, so he makes money from his films. WELL DUH! But that is not why he makes the films, he doesn't do it purely for money. You shouldn't let the fact that you get paid less make you jealous. Is envy not a mortal sin? Steven Spielberg made a movie about World War 2, I dunno if you'd heard of it it was called Saving Private Ryan. Let's blame him or Jerry Brukheimer with Pearl Harbour from profiting from tragedy.
You are just afraid of what you don't understand
Richard (Not the other Richard), on Sunday, June 27, 2004 at 9:50 PM:
To Tarnatino Fan:
While I agree with much of what you have said, you should know that the way in which you opened your statement is no way to get your point across. It will only serve as fodder for "Larson' and others who believe in the same.
Perhaps you should've stated that while Mr. Moore freely admits that he keeps enough money for he and his family to be comfortable (and kept in Fast Foods) that he also puts much of it where his mouth is by supporting organizations that help the people that have been misplaced or unemployed.
You also might have stated that the same cannot be true of the high ranking members of our current administation and their friends. That while Moore hasn't put anyone out of work or started any wars in the name of "God" or "freedom", and continues to help those people with his money, our administation and their friends in the corporate world are getting richer and greedier from the pain they have caused... and using OUR tax dollars to do it with!
To Larsen: As an American citizen, it is your right and your duty, as well as mine, and Mr. Tarantine fans to be aware of what our government is doing, because without knowledge you can't make an informed decision in the voting booth... and as most of us know it's already very hard to pick a candidate that will attempt to do what they say while campaigning and that they are truly looking out for the best interests of our people and our country... the WHOLE country and ALL of the people.
If you believe that it's the right of corporations, American corporations, to make money any way they can, then why do you question Mr. Moore's right to do the same? You simply can't have it both ways.
Richard (Not the other Richard), on Sunday, June 27, 2004 at 10:08 PM:
Oh, and by the way Larsen, Moore and his crew do not work out of, or from, Hollywood. These days he lives and works from a base in Manhaatan, New York city, though I do understand that he's visited there. Something about an Academy Award...? }:-))
Rick, on Monday, June 28, 2004 at 12:25 PM:
I agree. I've seen the movie and it sucks. It is simply more fodder for Hanoi John Kerry's hatchet men.
David Adam Edelstein, on Monday, June 28, 2004 at 12:54 PM:
OK folks... while I am gratified to see people commenting here on my little site, I'm imposing a new rule: any post following this one that simply says the movie sucks, without some kind of coherent analysis of why the author thinks it sucks ("Moore's framing and pacing leaves something to be desired," perhaps, or "This specific detail is inaccurate") will be deleted.
I'm going to leave the previous two posts, since I hadn't imposed this rule yet -- but again,
Richard (Not the other Richard), on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 at 12:15 PM:
As David has already stated, saying only that the movie sucked means nothing by itself.
But to those that are saying this, how do you explain the fact that Disney thought it to much against Disney's politics and dangerous to it's own well being to distribute if they weren't trying to have it lost in the archives. In fact, if they had been smart enough, or at least smarter than Michael Moore, they could've bought the movie and all of it's rights, put it in a vault until sometime later when all this would be history.
The fact is, gentlemen, is that Disney is a large, highly conservative corporation with lots of clout in our Federal Government and they didn't want to risk losing it. Boy, if only ole' Walt could see his company now... he'd be spinning in his grave, I'm sure.
Also, how can you explain an award given to Moore, one that hasn't been given out in years and NEVER to a documentary, by the largest and most respected film festival attended by the greater world movie going audience as well as the critics?
Yeah, you're right. This film sucks all right. I'd be willing to bet that neither of you even saw the film because if you had, even if you are Bush supporters, that you would have been moved by something in it.
When Paul O'Neill's book first came out, a fellow conservative I might add, people were posting negative reviews about it on Amazon.com the day BEFORE the book was even released!! Now com'on, are we that stupid to believe that these people got the book a day before it was released, read the whole thing through in less than 24 hours and formed enough of an opinion to write a review? I, for one, will never be THAT gullable. At least you should SEE the film before writing these stupid (yeah, your word) uninformed critics.
Richard (Not the other Richard), on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 at 12:35 PM:
One more thought here: I am not the kind of person that disrepects a conservative opinion if it's well thought out and the person has his/her reasons for feeling that way. I have had many a stimulating conversation with someone that's had opinions other than my own and continue to. But the "sheep" of the world, those that follow because they have been told to and are too lazy to get their own facts and form their own opinions, these are the people scare me to death... and it's all too common, especially in the United States.
jm, on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 at 12:52 PM:
I found Christopher Hitchens article on the movie to be very helpful. It can be found at slate.msn
RS, on Friday, July 2, 2004 at 3:05 AM:
Just downloaded F911 from BitTorrent (dont worry, Michael Moore approves downloading the film) and I have to say it is entertaining and at times hilarious. Michael Moore is a great film maker, and he probably deserves his Palme d'Or for his past work. (I think Roger & Me is an absolute work of art). But F911 is no documentary. I work in the intelligence field and I consider myself somewhat familiar with the issues surrounding 9/11 and our invasion of Iraq. Yet while watching this film I was amazed at how many things he either grossly misconstrued or just plain got wrong. In fact, I don't think Moore got a single "fact" completely right. Here are just a few of the obvious examples of that came to mind while I was watching the movie:
1. Moore maintains that the invasion of Afghanistan was a plot to help the Unocal company get a contract to build a pipeline. Please...Unocal gave up it's planned construction of a pipeline in Afghanistan in 1998...three years before the US invasion.
2. Theres no evidence directly linking the Bush and bin Laden families. Even if there were, so what? The bin Laden construction company is a legitimate Saudi construction company and has never been linked to terrorism. The Clinton DOD even hired them to build what was in the late 90s our largest Middle East military base, Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, SA.
3. The whole Carlyle Group connection and the $1.4 billion figure Moore cites at several points in the film is grossly overstated. Democrats are just as involved in Carlyle as the Republicans and most of the figure actually went to the company long before George Bush joined Carlyle.
4. Bush had nothing to do with authorizing flights out of the US for members of the Saudi royal family and the bin Laden family. Those flights were approved by the former counter-terrorism czar (and well-known Bush detractor) Richard Clarke.
I wont even get into the many minor falsehoods depicted in the movie (like the now disproved AWOL charge). Im not sure what accounts for Moores venom, other than he may feel some sense of guilt about his unintentionally helping to elect George Bush in 2000 by his support of Ralph Nader. I highly recommend you see the film for yourself. Its great cinematic art but definitely not history.
Nini, on Sunday, July 4, 2004 at 2:03 AM:
Yes, I read the Christopher Hitchens article as well. It just seemed to me more a difference in perspective rather than offering solid facts that directly contradict the film. I didn't take from the film that Moore was trying to draw a direct link to Bush and the bin Laden family, other than their mutual connection in the corp. But there was a lot of information flying fast and furious. The main thing I took from the film was the Bush administration tried to imply a link between al-quada and Suddam Hussein but offered no solid proof, how Halliburten is profiting, and he reiterated facts laid out in the film Unprecedented about how Bush stole the presidential election in the first place. I'm still waiting for the Republicans to offer any concrete proof that those claims are bogus. I think I'll be waiting a long, long time.
RS, on Sunday, July 4, 2004 at 9:01 AM:
Of course he's trying to make a direct (and sinister) connection between the bin Laden family and Bush. Otherwise, why even bring it up?
I think the "Bush stole the election" scenario has already been refuted by the Republicans (and the press, and the Florida Voter Commission). I mean they recounted the votes there how many times now? I can't understand why Moore even brought up that tired canard of the Left.
I'm sure Halliburton, through their Brown and Root subsidiary, is profiting and probably profiteering. It's not right, but I've learned through experience that that is how most defense contractors operate.
No question but there were definite links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida going back as far as the early 90's. The few documents that have just come to light proving this connection are just the tip of the ice-berg.
lisa, on Tuesday, July 6, 2004 at 4:48 PM:
I applaud Michael Moore for making a movie that says what a lot of Americans are thinking. Many knew from the get go that the war in Iraq seemed all to familiar to Daddys Gulf War. Bush is a war president who has never run this country for the people. I know this from working in social services and dealing with all the cuts to programs benefiting this countries needy as well as our childrens schools. It's a shame many are so closed minded as to just refuse to see Farenheit 9/11. It is a well put together movie that portrays the self centered big business government we all live under. As well as gives respect to all the poor american soldiers fighting a war for bush, by bush and benefiting bush. And sypathizing for the innocent women, men, and children of Iraq. Our nation, sadly enough has been built on the exploitation of poor nations and the masacre of innocent people. After all if the pilgrims hadn't masacred the Natives of America, where would this country be? It may still contain ample resources and wildlife, lack horrible pollution and disease, and contain a population of people that respect life and one another.
beto, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 12:22 AM:
i can't believe some of you don't see the truth. Michael has balls and puts it in film. He's not a sell out. he knows what to say and how to say it. If you don't like it watch Disney's pocahontas and keep living in Limbo trying to justify an idiot coke head running business this way. Do some reading and do the homework to know the truth. Start with Reading National Geographic and try to fit in Lies my teacher told me.
RS, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 3:07 AM:
Thanks Beto for your helpful insight. Calling the President an "idiot coke head" clears things right up for me. Also, thank you for the recommended reading as well. I've done the research and even took the extra step of visiting Iraq and Afghanistan (although I confess I did that much earlier). Here are my findings in a nutshell: We've done a good thing by getting rid of Saddam and the Taliban, and the Iraqi and Afghan peoples are grateful for it. Our troops and civilian employees are hard at work in both countries building roads, schools, and hospitals and repairing damage caused by the war but even more so by decades of neglect and corruption. Oh, I almost forgot, we're there at the request of both countries' sovereign governments. I agree with lisa that F911 is a well put together film, but its fiction. Moore's explanation of America's participation in the war on terror is cartoonish and grotesque. It features Bush and the US in the role of international outlaw, invading multiple countries to secure oil rights for large American corporations. Give me a break. The undeniable fact is that now, thanks to President Bush and the US military, 50 million people no longer live under oppressive dictatorships. Another undeniable fact (no matter what the Pilgrims did) is that the US is most humane democracy that has ever existed. WE ARE NOT THE BAD GUYS. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for the best of reasons, asking nothing in return except they establish democracies and become productive and peaceful members of the community of nations. And, by the way lisa, I can say with certainty that the "poor soldiers" you mention support their Commander-in-Chief wholeheartedly.
chris, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 11:04 AM:
Just a thought...if this whole movie is built upon lies as many are claiming... wouldn't there be lawsuits flowing in against Moore?
tholtz, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 1:22 PM:
RS stated "..the US is most humane democracy that has ever existed". Now I cannot give evidence to the contrary as I have not researched it but what I can say is: Though we MAY be the "most humane democracy that has ever existed" it does not make us entirely humane - case in point the prison abuses and absolute embarassment of all American soldiers for the outrageous actions of what I hope to be only a few...I said what I hope. I don't want to live in simply the "most humane democracy that has ever existed"...I want to live in a humane democracy.....and I don't believe that I do. Depending on who's land you stand - you just might see US as the bad guy....I think I remember seeing a few mothers in the film that were devestated that the US killed their children (on both sides of the borders)....I can tell you that if it happened to mine...whomever was responsible for whatever reason...I would see them as the bad guy...the enemy. I love my country...or rather I love the potential my country has to do good....I just don't like that we are not living up to that potential right now....Show Bush the Door in 2004!
tholtz, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 1:31 PM:
Beto - you just keep calling it like you see it - the truth might hurt but it must be told. RS the soldiers and civilians (we) are not the bad guys at all - soldiers are good people doing their job as they are told...the shrub and those who have made him President...they are the bad guys because they lie to line the pockets of the wealthy with the lives of the poor - here and abroad. I believe we saw in the movie "...bad for people but good for business"...to me this sums up the shrub regime.
thotlz, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 1:42 PM:
RS (?republican senator?)- I think you might see some American soldiers in the film that disagree with your statement "And, by the way lisa, I can say with certainty that the "poor soldiers" you mention support their Commander-in-Chief wholeheartedly." Unless you are saying that these were not real soldiers...or somehow Mr. Moore must have dubbed over their voices and digitally manipulated the movement of their lips....not all soldiers support this war - and yet like good soldiers they are following orders and putting their lives on the line. I know this for a fact...as I know one soldier that did not. And it only takes one to render your statement false.
lisa, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 5:15 PM:
I guess I must clarify "poor Soldier" . I mean Poor soldiers who must be convinced that the war they are fighting is for the people of america. Isn't that who they are suppose to be protecting from the unfounded nuclear threat? Isn't Osama the real threat?! Well, I for one am an american who opposes war and the loss of young lives for the benefit of big business. escecially without the support of the UN! Go France for holding your own and not buying into Bushs' b.s. Many of the soldiers that were interviewed were young men, hyped up (brainwashed) by our goverment to believe they are fighting for the people. But don't you recall the one soldier whose family recieved a letter prior to his death stating he disagreed with Bush. Or the soldier who stated he would not return to Iraq and fight a war against poor people, for a cause he didn't believe in! More power to his independent thinking. Many soldiers are brainwashed just as many of you are into thinking Bush is working for the people! Yes, poor soldiers, who must loose their lives for the good ol' american dollar. And how much publicity is given to the soldiers who have commited suicide! Yes, poor soldiers! And once again we send off an army of young people who use the military as a way out of poverty, and to achieve higher education. Sent off to fight for the white capitalist benefit. Believe me I sympathize for the soldiers plight and I pray that all the young men and women fighting in Iraq return safely! And I pray for the families who lost their sons, fathers, sisters, brothers....
RS, on Thursday, July 8, 2004 at 3:23 AM:
Do you people live in Bizzarro World? Do you honestly think that the Iraqis would have been better off under Saddam Hussein? Why didn't Moore interview any of the families of Iraqis murdered during the Saddam regime? Considering there were hundreds of thousands of them, one would would think he could find someone to talk about it. The humiliation of a few dozen POWs by American soldiers pales in comparison to what went on there prior to Iraq's liberation. Under the Saddam regime, over 4000 prisoners were summarily executed at Abu Ghraib. This doesn't include those who died while having their eyes guouged out or being dismembered with blow torches. Let me say this again: 50 million people now live free who didn't prior to Sep 11, 2001 thanks to us...the good guys. Freedom is not free. And BTW Lisa, we did have the support of the UN (see UN resolution 1441).
tholtz, on Thursday, July 8, 2004 at 6:56 PM:
I do believe that we live in a strange world indeed but I think that I'm fairly well grounded in reality. I'm not saying that the world was better off with Saddam in power (don't put words in my mouth) nor do I believe it is better off now. The problem is that we were sold a war and I question why we were manipulated..and the way we are still being manipulated...what was the real reason? I don't buy that it was WMD or terror threats...or to free the people of Iraq...though you can type it until your fingers fall off....I think the agenda was in place long before....the shrub even said prior to 9/11 that we needed to get in there and do something...If we are worried about governments killing their people then why aren't we fighting a war in any number of countries in Africa? I think we need to worry about our gov't killing our people and setting the stage for more hatred and violence for our children and their children. And I don't care that "only a few dozen POWs" were mistreated - NOT ONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISTREATED - I think if we are going to wage a war on moral high ground than we best be moral. One civilian dead - is too many...one soldier dead - is too many...and the problem that I have most of all is for what - not for moral reasons but another M word...I don't believe it was to free the people of Iraq...I believe it was for OIL and MONEY. Again...lining the pockets of the wealthy with the lives of the poor. And the worst part is - we could kick our oil addiction (maybe with a step-like patch program) with technologies far superior and they would be more cost effective if we paid the real and full price of oil....factor in the lives lost and the environmental damage and imagine the sticker shock....but we don't see that because a few too many of the "haves and have mores" would loose in that deal...and we can't have that now can we?! FREEDOM IS NOT OIL and OIL ain't CHEAP but it is NOT WORTH the lives of even one soldier or civilian! Do you live in Bizzaro World where it is somehow okay to send ours to die? Are you not distrubed by the mistreatment of humans regardless of where they are from and what they believe?
RS, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 12:08 AM:
OK I promise I won't type that much this time. I'll just give you a few little known facts. You're right, there was an agenda in place prior to 9/11. In fact, freeing Iraq from oppression has been a US objective since 1998 when Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. Furthermore, Hanoi John Kerry supported invading Iraq and has no intention of pulling our troops out should he become president. In fact he's suggested he'll probably increase the number of forces over there (and maybe get a few from NATO). Hanoi John agreed we should interveen in Iraq, so did the UN (resolution 1441), and so did Bill Clinton. Abu Ghraib is dead. No one but you and a few other "blame America first" people actually believe there is any moral equivalency between what a few of our soldiers did and the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Saddam.
tholtz, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 10:42 AM:
You assume quite a bit RS - I'm not saying that I'm pro - Kerry either. Yet you attack him and for what reason - fine state your opinion about Kerry but this isn't about Kerry it is about shrub and his people. I am simply anti-shrub and all the people that worked against the masses of this country to gain power in politics and money. I don't care that only a few people have a problem with Abu Ghraib - I do and I'd like to know where you get your facts "no one but you and a few" - have you polled the country and investigated the error in your poll? How do you know how many have a problem with it - or are you guessing simply because it is another item we do not talk about? And never assume I "blame America first" - No the people running our gov't do not represent America - so I'm more along the lines of blame the shrub admin first - for lying. I believe that several administrations are to blame for what led up to 9/11 and the war in Iraq...not just shrub. Do you wonder why we are so hell bent to free Iraq when there are othes are also killing their people - but we haven't paid attention - Ruwanda??? Sudan??? Why Iraq? Why do need to free them first? I think it is because of the natural resources there. You think it is because of the people....I disagree. No don't blame America first - blame the liars who stole and election and claim to represent the masses when they represent only a small few - the haves and have mores. And what will Kerry even be able to do if he does win....the winner of the election has their hands tied behind their back no matter what - because this war was waged in the first place. Yes now that we have destroyed the country it is our responsiblity to rebuild. I simply disagree with the real reasons for taking it to that extreme in the first place. Don't attack me as anti-American - THAT I AM NOT. As I said before I love my country - I love the diversity of this country. I love that we can have this debate about our views and neither one of us has to worry about death as a result - though maybe I need to fear the FBI coming to my door. I don't love the government and politicians...I think that their priorities are more than slightly skewed in favor of money for the rich and sraps for the poor. Maybe you feel it has to be that way - but I love that I can stand up and say that I don't believe that is true - I think that there are better ways...there must be better ways.
madjik_man, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 11:15 AM:
RS sounds like the typical scared Retardican who will always look elsewhere to blame and slander, yet never look at his (or her) own affiliation.
Just a few things I'd like to comment on
RS said, "The undeniable fact is that now, thanks to President Bush and the US military, 50 million people no longer live under oppressive dictatorships"
This is the stereotypical brainwashed response Baby Bush wants you regurgitating. Notice how you mention nothing of WMD (the primary reason given to us for going to war) or "imminent threats" - but now you have had your attention shifted by others to preach "oppressive dicatorship". I laugh at this. I laugh at how easily manipulated you are and how weak minded you must be. If you are now so concerned about liberating people who live under oppression - shouldn't you be more concerned about Sudan or other countless African nations? Oh wait, I forgot, Baby Bush could care less about those people, therefore you could care less.
I'm impressed with your inability to think for yourself.
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 11:19 AM:
OK, guys... flattered as I am that this debate continues on my site -- let's not be calling names, please. Keep it civil.
madjik_man, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 11:22 AM:
the second RS line I'd like to touch upon:
RS said, "the US is most humane democracy that has ever existed. WE ARE NOT THE BAD GUYS."
are you kidding me? Are you really this short-sighted? I see you lack the ability to see ourselves from other perspectives and rather stay within your cozy haven of never seeing us casted in bad light.
Most humane? So consuming over 25% of the world's resources and contributing to countless nations' environmental degredation on behalf of our consumption is "good"? You can't be serious. We have 13 year old girls making our sneakers getting paid less than a dollar a day for their wages. Meanwhile, we're polluting their air, their water and culture while the shoes are shipped back to our 13 year old children to wear.
And meanwhile the world is STILL waiting for us to sign the Kyoto Treaty... let me guess, our hesitance (due to a potential major blow to our economy) is a "good thing"
Please don't be so short-sighted if you are going to call other people strange because we don't gobble up the spoon-fed rhetoric as voraciously as you.
madjik_man, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 11:29 AM:
the last comment of RS I'd like to retort:
RS said, "Do you people live in Bizzarro World? Do you honestly think that the Iraqis would have been better off under Saddam Hussein?"
Do you honestly think that the Iraqi people's well-being was Baby Bush's focus? Remember, that was the third, and most desperate, argument given to us for reasons to go to (and justify) the war.
Reason 1: go after OBL in Afghanistan... well that became SNAFU
Reason 2: WMD... don't think I need to comment on this
Reason 3: "ummm, er... the Iraqi people need us!"
please - again, try viewing this situation without the rose colored lenses on.
And now getting back to your assessment that Michael Moore didn't even get a single fact correct in his movie...
...are you going to deny all the connections between Baby Bush's cohorts, business partners and Saudi Arabia? You can't deny that, that's all fact. Now take those connections, forget about what Moore perceives them as, and FORMULATE YOUR OWN assessments and tell me you can't see the fact this is all about money and taking care of his "people"... and let me tell you something, those "people" isn't the American Public.
FinallyTheTruth, on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 12:44 PM:
Posted by: Finally_The_Truth
I loved this movie....
Some of the movie was Moores opinions, but for the most part I think he let the film speak for itself. I also found it to be very patriotic. I don't think Moore is un-American. I think that anyone who says that is stereotyping who Americans are. Race, religion, family values and the fact that we are all individuals, unique and timeless makes us who we are today. Since when did Americans start thinking that this is exactly who "we are" and what "we stand for". If that were the case then we wouldn't need an election. We would all share the same views, Therefore being the "All-American people" that we are, we would vote the same way.
I think for once the public got to witness another side of a so far one sided story. There is not one fact in that movie that I can find to be false. I've been sitting in front of my TV. Screen (here and there) for the past 4 years looking on in disgust. I was thrilled that finally someone had enough guts to say and answer most of my "what abouts?"
I THINK THE WAR WAS UNNECESSARY!
Moores movie or not I agreed with his opinions long before he stated them.
I hate the fact that bush is dishonest, unapologetic, war happy, and he's a "Christian?" Please! It makes me sick.
Through this entire war I have been more concerned about Iraq and their families. This war did not have the information it needed to go any further then paper work.
This is coming from a Canadian who is damn proud of her country for not getting involved in such an indecent act of human history that will not be forgotten.
Kim age:20 B.C. Canada
Kim (FinallyTheTruth), on Friday, July 9, 2004 at 4:57 PM:
Must you see in color?
blinded by your creed
In my image I created man
Life I gave to thee
You shout my name at night
Curse my people in your days
I'm the painter of such colors
Your ignorance I save
Your borders mark my land
I mend the scars of yesterdays wars
Too love; I wish you would
A little bit of wisdom
The country of your birth
Is not a man made dream
Its a little place called earth
I am the alpha; the omega
Take heed in what you do
For after life is paradise
All this I give to you
Hate is not the answer
Love is best when it is shown
This is a small reminder
Of what youve always known
Mike, on Saturday, August 14, 2004 at 2:37 PM:
If Bush wanted to free people from the oppressor why didn't he invade CHINA ?
It's the last largest hardline communist regime in the world which kills people by the thousand every year with the old bullet in the neck routine, torture tibetans in its jails, and it's got plenty of nukes and WMD in store, they can even play Star Wars now if they want to.
But hey, wait! they're also our best business partner !(along with our Saudi friends of course, who by the way enjoy chopping heads off in public too).
They've got a fourth of the world population ready to queue at Chinese Mc Donalds', while US companies can manufactures goods there for peanuts. American workers can't live on peanuts, but Chinese can...so let's move Nike overseas!
(http://www.saigon.com/~nike/nike-china.htm) then sell everything back to americans (don't we love that exotic feeling reading of "made in China" on most of our household items?).
Besides there's no oil for us there anyway and they're a good billion people who unlike Iraki women and children can do kung fu !!!
Uh... Let's free Iraq boys.....
dude, on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 1:40 PM:
screw Michael moore and kerry. they both are liars, and Moore is nothing but a fatassed loser porpagandist. kill them all!
RS, on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 at 10:15 AM:
Hey guys. RS here making one last stop at noise-to-signal to chat with you left wing loonies. Ahh, sweet victory. Thank God the normal people prevailed and we won't have another hippie in the White House. I gotta hand it to you bed wetting Leftists though, it was close. I can't even imagine how much you guys spent on handing out cigarettes and crack to street people to get them to the poles. Thought I'd check back in and offer some advice for next time: First, try to get a real war hero to run. A guy with four months of questionable combat time and a bunch of fake medals is doomed. Also, with moral values playing such a role this time, try to get some big name supporters who have some. People like Whoopie "Heart and Soul of America" Goldberg, Michael "Sodomizer" Stipe, and P "Vote or I'll bust a cap in yo' ass" Diddy just scare normal people. Anyway, that's all I can think of right now. See you in four years. Iran here we come! Hanoi John has left the building.
Larsen, on Monday, December 6, 2004 at 4:56 PM:
Farenheit 9/11 did exactly as it was supposed to do. Make Michael Moore some money, whip the far left into an Anti-Bush frenzy then detract from Kerry's failings as a presidential candidate. Not only were we able to elect the President to another 4 successful years, we also booted Tom Daschle for good measure. Listen up if you think America wants the far left agenda.
You are wrong. Those of us who voted for Bush want compassion in the judicial system without legislation mandated by activist judges, care of the infirm without a financially draining national health care plan, the ability to be legally successful without penalty, Social Security Reform and empathy for the under- and un-employed with a demonstrable training program for self improvement and the personal responsibility to feed your self and your family no matter where you have to work to do it.
Please don't lecture me about outsourcing; it is an economic fact of life. If your employees demand more and more without contributing a like amount back into the company's productivity, then you have two choices. Close the business or take it where it will be profitable.
We also want personal responsibility for your actions. A fair and equitable tax system that doesn't impugn the wealthy. Since when it is a crime to be wealthy? The far left doesn't have a problem with George Soros and they really need to do a background check on this guy. He's conducted more shady deals than a thrice convicted used car dealer.
Kerry never admitted any responsibility for his actions at any point. Character is a cornerstone of someone who had served admirably in the military; Kerry was and is lacking in character.
If the Dems really want the support of America; and you can look at the map to see it isn't there, then you need to look at the Democrat Party under FDR. He understood the people and their needs IN GENERAL, not as a component of some great political agenda. Learn this trait and you will find success.
Four more years. Life is good.
The view from the ground
During their year in Iraq, all of them here have missed important things, things they say they can never get back.
"My brother just got engaged to his new fiancé who I haven't met yet," says Bronx native Corporal Juan Rosa, "and my parents are moving to Philadelphia which I haven't seen yet."
"It's like missing a half of a life," says Private Vitaly Sorokin, who emigrated with his family from Russia to the U.S., then joined the Army. " The more you've been here the more you realize time pretty much stops here you're missing everything. It's all taken out of your life for that period."
"The biggest thing is missing my daughter," says 26-year-old David Anderson of Mississippi, "since I've been here she started walking and she started talking. She's two and half now. I've missed all the good stuff--I've missed all of it."
"I'll have been married two years in July," says Corporal Timothy Turner of California, "this is going to be the second anniversary I've missed. My wife's birthday is tomorrow and I won't be able to call her to say happy birthday."
Turner shakes is head, "my life has stopped back home. Some people are going to go back and they're not going to have a life. Some people are going to get divorces. Lives ruined."
Ray Hernandez says it's anger that allows him to kill, "The only thing I think about when I go out there and pull the trigger is revenge--for every guy that fell down doing the same thing I was doing. I'm not going to let him die in vain. The object of this fucking war is to let the other guy die for his country, because I'm not dying for mine."
Well, that's a relief.
From the Reuters wire:
Bush Says He Has Cure for Illegible Prescriptions
May 27, 9:22 PM (ET)
By Caren Bohan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - President Bush, taking on Democrat John Kerry over health issues, pitched a plan on Thursday to expand the use of technology in medicine -- including a cure for doctors' illegible handwriting.
Bush touted a goal of storing most Americans' medical records in electronic form within 10 years, saying that would reduce paperwork costs and cut down on medical errors.
"Docs are still spending a lot of time writing things on paper. And sometimes it's difficult to read their handwriting," Bush told an audience at Vanderbilt University in the election battleground state of Tennessee.
Well... isn't that nice. Sure, Bush has made a few mistakes, and we have a few other things to worry about right now, but at least those pesky docs (note the folksy term) won't be scribblin' them perscripshuns no more.
Oh yes -- and anyone who's spent time fighting with a customer support rep whose answer is "well, it's that way in the computer..." will share my healthy skepticism that computerization will inherently cut down on medical errors.
Robert Jahrling, on Friday, May 28, 2004 at 6:41 AM:
My former HMO switched to electronic records about a year ago. Even though the software itself was pretty horrible, and the doctors all hated it (I never heard a nurse complain about it), it did actually make the process of going to the doctor a lot easier. There was no more "Take this to the lab, bring back what they give you, check in again, then the doctor will give you the referral you need for the specialist, but you'll need to go to the specialist's office to make an appointment and don't forget the paperwork."
But this doesn't need to be legislated, fercryinoutloud. Republicans are supposed to be in favor of LESS legislation. This is just another case of hurling technology and government intervention at something that just plain doesn't need either one.
OK, so it's flogging a dead horse ...
... but if you need a quick shot of Bush-bashing to perk up your day, you need look no further than the Slate article The Misunderestimated Man:
A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is that he doesn't want to know anything in detail, however important. Since college, he has spilled with contempt for knowledge, equating learning with snobbery and making a joke of his own anti-intellectualism. ("[William F. Buckley] wrote a book at Yale; I read one," he quipped at a black-tie event.) By O'Neill's account, Bush could sit through an hourlong presentation about the state of the economy without asking a single question. ("I was bored as hell," the president shot back, ostensibly in jest.)
Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush's mentality: laziness. Again, this is a lifelong trait. Bush's college grades were mostly Cs (including a 73 in Introduction to the American Political System). At the start of one term, the star of the Yale football team spotted him in the back row during the shopping period for courses. "Hey! George Bush is in this class!" Calvin Hill shouted to his teammates. "This is the one for us!" As governor of Texas, Bush would take a long break in the middle of his short workday for a run followed by a stretch of video golf or computer solitaire.
A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it does not think. The president can't tolerate debate about issues. Offered an option, he makes up his mind quickly and never reconsiders. At an elementary school, a child once asked him whether it was hard to make decisions as president. "Most of the decisions come pretty easily for me, to be frank with you." By leaping to conclusions based on what he "believes," Bush avoids contemplating even the most obvious basic contradictions: between his policy of tax cuts and reducing the deficit; between his call for a humble foreign policy based on alliances and his unilateral assertion of American power; between his support for in-vitro fertilization (which destroys embryos) and his opposition to fetal stem-cell research (because it destroys embryos).
A little righteous anger helps to freshen the spleen
This morning found me screaming "I HATE RICHARD WELLHOUSE" at my computer:
Gasoline prices in Northern Virginia have hovered at record highs for weeks, as they have all over the country. But Richard Wellhouse has yet to wince.
A 35-year-old computer engineer, Mr. Wellhouse visited the J. Koons Pontiac-GMC Truck dealership here one recent evening to test drive a Denali, a $50,000 sport utility vehicle bigger than some third world houses. The Denali, which gets 13 miles to a gallon in city driving, would replace Mr. Wellhouse's aging Suburban, which shares his garage with two Ford Explorers.
All of Mr. Wellhouse's vehicles consume prodigious amounts of gasoline. But Mr. Wellhouse is untroubled by high fuel prices that show few signs of falling soon. "If it goes to $3 a gallon, it may hurt," Mr. Wellhouse said, "but it won't really change anything."
From the NYTimes article Drivers Tend to Shrug Off High Gas Prices, for Now.
(Now I'm going to get more e-mails about my FUV-hatin' :-)
Robert Jahrling, on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 at 11:27 AM:
And you know that he drives it all by himself, too.
And that not one of his vehicles has ever been used for either "sport" or "utility". The most it's probably ever carried is him and his damn laptop.
Who the hell needs three cars, let alone three SUVs?
I hate him too.
Joshua Edelstein, on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 at 3:36 PM:
I think there's a boat being missed somewhere.
While I won't argue that *most* SUVs are fossil burners, not all are. Additionally, it isn't just SUVs that guzzle gas. It appears to me, as the reader, that your hatred is more of the form factor than the gas tank.
For example, if I were to buy an SUV--particularly something like a Honda CR-V that gets relatively good gas milage--I'd actually be moving to a greener car, since I drive a 6-cylinder cargo van with the engine capacity of a V8 (legacy from playing in a band). But I don't hear anyone ripping into vans in this blogspace. I mean, crikey! Moms and their broods polluting the environment--facists!
Plus, what happens when something like the Jeep Commander (http://tinyurl.com/2smr6) goes on the market in the next couple of years? A fuel cell SUV whose only emission is water? Will you hate it as well, and continue to drive your sub-compact gas burner?
Don't get me wrong, I know that the ire in this post was directed at someone who knowingly drives a vehicle that burns so much gas that it's akin to a loaded gun at the temples of a baby harp seal, but this isn't the first anti-SUV rant there's been. Not trying to be a pain in the ass, I just want to make sure that there is proper perspective in our terminology here.
But then, I write dictionaries for fun so I may be a little obsessive about semantics.
Robert Jahrling, on Wednesday, May 5, 2004 at 7:27 AM:
I was going to mention soccer moms and minivans, but decided to go with brevity. However...personally, I take issue with minivans, too, especially for a family of four or fewer. I don't see anything wrong in theory with a minivan or an SUV, if you have a legitimate need for one--i.e. if you're hauling cargo or going off-road, or if you're like my cousin and have to haul around five kids.
Then again, for me, it's not really about the pollution or the waste.
(And as for the Jeep Commander...I'd hate it if some single guy had three of them and was considering buying a fourth, because he'd be an idiot.)
Richard Beers, on Thursday, May 6, 2004 at 12:39 PM:
There is one bright side to this specific example... there is only one of him... so 2 of those gas hogs sit idle while he is driving the 3rd which means they are not being driven by someone else. Ok.. so you can argue the market driven sales figures makes them build more, but still at lest those 2 are idle most of the time. (I can't confirm if he leave them running in the garage when he's not actually driving them, but that still burns less gas then when actually on the road).
As for pro/con SUV... we'll I'm more focused on milage than form factor. We're seeing luxury cars with worse milage than a hummer and that makes no sense. There is no reason any car built today should get less than 40mpg. The fuell cell/H-fuel idea smells too much like a vapor ware pre-release announcement a company I won't mention uesed to use to keep people from moving into certain markets or consumers from moving to better products until they were ready... Specifically why buy a hybrid (http://www.toyota.com/prius/ for example) when fuel cell is comming? So people stay with the gas guzzlers while they wait for a technology that's years out rather than moving to hybrid today. Here's hoping gas hits $5/gal by October!
Reduced to listing facts
Maureen Dowd's column this morning in the New York TImes is quite good -- but I can't help but feel frightened that we've been reduced to listing facts because commentary is too subtle.
It's their reality. We just live and die in it.
In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.
In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.
In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.
In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.
In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.
In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you're insisting you're not planning.
A salvo back at the Pollutocrats and their lackeys in the media
Drew pointed me to a great essay by environmentalist and journalist George Monbiot in today's Guardian, titled Beware the fossil fools. I won't try to summarize it; instead, I'll excerpt and let George speak for himself:
Picture a situation in which most of the media, despite the overwhelming weight of medical opinion, refused to accept that there was a connection between smoking and lung cancer. Imagine that every time new evidence emerged, they asked someone with no medical qualifications to write a piece dismissing the evidence and claiming that there was no consensus on the issue. Imagine that the BBC, in the interests of "debate", wheeled out one of the tiny number of scientists who says that smoking and cancer aren't linked, or that giving up isn't worth the trouble, every time the issue of cancer was raised.
Imagine that, as a result, next to nothing was done about the problem, to the delight of the tobacco industry and the detriment of millions of smokers. We would surely describe the newspapers and the BBC as grossly irresponsible.
Now stop imagining it, and take a look at what's happening. The issue is not smoking, but climate change. The scientific consensus is just as robust, the misreporting just as widespread, the consequences even graver.
If it is true, as the government's new report suggested last week, that it is now too late to prevent hundreds of thousands of British people from being flooded out of their homes, then the journalists who have consistently and deliberately downplayed the threat carry much of the responsibility for the problem. It is time we stopped treating them as bystanders. It is time we started holding them to account.
[ . . . ]
[Debate on the validity of global warming] is not - or is only seldom - taking place among scientists. It is taking place in the media, and it seems to consist of a competition to establish the outer reaches of imbecility.
During the heatwave last year, the Spectator made the case that because there was widespread concern in the 1970s about the possibility of a new ice age, we can safely dismiss concerns about global warming today.
This is rather like saying that because Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's hypothesis on evolution once commanded scientific support and was later shown to be incorrect, then Charles Darwin's must also be wrong.
[ . . . ]
That some of the heat from the sun is trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by gases (the greenhouse effect) has been established since the mid-19th century. But, like most of these nincompoops, [Peter] Hitchens claims to be defending science from its opponents. "The only reason these facts are so little known", he tells us, is (apart from the reason that he has just made them up), "that a self-righteous love of 'the environment' has now replaced religion as the new orthodoxy".
Hitchens, in turn, is an Einstein beside that famous climate scientist Melanie Phillips. Writing in the Daily Mail in January, she dismissed the entire canon of climatology as "a global fraud" perpetrated by the "leftwing, anti-American, anti-west ideology which goes hand in hand with anti-globalisation and the belief that everything done by the industrialised world is wicked".
This belief must be shared by the Pentagon, whose recent report pictures climate change as the foremost threat to global security. In an earlier article, she claimed that "most independent climate specialists, far from supporting [global warming], are deeply sceptical". She managed to name only one, however, and he receives his funding from the fossil fuel industry.
George gets in several more choice slams, including taking the BBC to task -- but I'll let you read the full article for that one.
I will finish with this logic exercise, though, because I can't bear to leave it out:
If ever you meet one of these people, I suggest you ask them the following questions: 1. Does the atmosphere contain carbon dioxide? 2. Does atmospheric carbon dioxide influence global temperatures? 3. Will that influence be enhanced by the addition of more carbon dioxide? 4. Have human activities led to a net emission of carbon dioxide? It would be interesting to discover at which point they answer no - at which point, in other words, they choose to part company with basic physics.
This clears everything up.
Not mine, and not sure who to credit, but it came to me from Scott:
Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?
A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction, honey.
Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.
A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.
Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?
A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.
Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?
A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2004 election.
Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?
A: To use them in a war, silly.
Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?
A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.
Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?
A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.
Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.
A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.
Q: And what was that?
A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.
Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?
A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.
Q: Kind of like what they do in China?
A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.
Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?
Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?
A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.
Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?
A: I told you, China is different.
Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq?
A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.
Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?
A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.
Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?
A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.
Q: Like in Iraq?
Q: And like in China, too?
A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.
Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?
A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being capitalists like us.
Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?
A: Don't be a smart-ass.
Q: I didn't think I was being one.
A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.
Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?
A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.
Q: What's a military coup?
A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.
Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?
A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.
Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?
A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.
Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?
A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.
Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan? A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.
Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.
Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.
Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?
A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.
Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.
Q: Fighting drugs?
A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.
Q: How did they do such a good job?
A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.
Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?
A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.
Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?
A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.
Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?
A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.
Q: What's the difference?
A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of Patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.
Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.
A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.
Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.
A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.
Q: Who trained them?
A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.
Q: Was he from Afghanistan?
A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.
Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.
A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.
Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?
A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.
Q: So the Soviets, I mean the Russians, are now our friends?
A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.
Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?
A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.
Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.
Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?
A: Well, yeah. For a while.
Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?
A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.
Q: Why did that make him our friend?
A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.
Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?
A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.
Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?
A: Most of the time, yes.
Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?
A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?
Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.
Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?
A. Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.
joe, on Saturday, April 10, 2004 at 10:02 PM:
Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.
Jevon, on Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 5:08 AM:
I love it! Hope you don't mind but I stuck it on my journal, too. Your blog rocks, keep up the good work! ;)
Some thoughts on closets
I was thinking about closets, and identity, and gay marriage this afternoon, triggered by an unlikely source.
What started this line of thought wasn't the latest developments in San Francisco, or Oregon, or New York, or Massachusetts; it wasn't the paragraph from Margaret Cho that Russ quoted. It was actually my friend Ted's going-away party.
I worked with Ted for nearly four years in the MapPoint group, before he left us about a year ago to move to MSN. He's one of the finest Usability Engineers I've had the opportunity to work with, with great depth of knowledge and empathy for users. Ted is also... (dramatic pause) a Mormon.
Now, this isn't something Ted exactly hid, but it's not something he really talked about much either. We talked about it, of course, exchanging greetings on each other's holidays, filling the time waiting for usability test participants to show up by having theological discussions, and so on. But it wasn't something that came up a lot outside of Ted's office.
Microsoft is not an easy place to be a person of faith. While we do work hard to keep a diverse and open workplace, it's no secret that the culture is pretty confrontational, hard-driving, and hard-partying. People swear in meetings regularly. It's also dominated by atheistic or at least agnostic science types who are more likely to worship at the altar of intellect than in a religious congregation. As a result, most people of faith keep pretty quiet in public there.
All of which is why I was amazed to see the change in Ted's demeanor today. Ted's leaving Microsoft, you see, to do usability work for the Mormon church, primarily on their web sites. Which he talked about at great length in his going away e-mail. He talked about having wanted to move back to Utah for some time. He mentioned his several children.
And he was so relaxed when I saw him this afternoon. He mentioned religious holidays. He accidentally said "denomination" when he meant "division". He wasn't spending the whole time talking about religion, but he wasn't hiding it any more.
In a very real sense, he had come out of the closet. Not the gay closet, to be sure, but a closet nonetheless.
And so I was thinking about gay marriage. Because the point isn't the marriage, really, is it. Becky and I were effectively married years before we stood in front of our friends and family and said so. Tom and Mike were as married as any of my parents' other friends were when I was growing up -- more than some, as it turned out. Britney and her childhood friend weren't married, really, even though they had signed on the dotted line. Some of the couples who've been getting married in San Francisco and Portland have been truly married for years; some of them won't ever be. A piece of paper doesn't make marriage happen one way or another.
Marriage, and equal rights laws, and not using "gay" as a pejorative term, and all the rest -- what they really do, and will keep doing, is allow our gay brothers and sisters, and parents and children, to just... be themselves. To not have to hide a huge part of themselves. To sit around, like Ted did this afternoon, and not have to watch what they say, or how they say it, or who they refer to. To be themselves, in all their glorious beauty and flaws. Like everyone else.
Uncle Vinny, on Friday, March 19, 2004 at 12:08 AM:
The first thing that comes to mind is the nurse from South Park (she has a dead fetus attached to the side of her head), who says "We just want to be made fun of like everyone else! Don't treat us any differently!"
Part of the difficulty of bringing up religious issues at Microsoft is, as you say, the confrontational culture. If people have an instinct to call 'Bullshit' on some Mormon ridiculousness, they're going to go with that instinct. 'Coming out' as a person of faith in a world of facts means you need to be ready to deal with some pretty difficult questions about your own threading of the fact/faith needle. Mormons may very likely self-censor at Microsoft to spare themselves these questions, I don't really know.
Am I blaming the victim here?
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, March 19, 2004 at 6:15 AM:
And proving my point nicely, thanks. :-)
Even gay penguins are good for families
The Columbia News Service reports:
Wendell and Cass, two penguins at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, live in a soap opera world of seduction and intrigue. Among the 22 male and 10 female African black-footed penguins in the aquarium's exhibit, tales of love, lust and betrayal are the norm. These birds mate for life. But given the disproportionate male-female ratio at the aquarium, some of the females flirt profusely and dump their partners for single males with better nests.
Wendell and Cass, however, take no part in these cunning schemes. They have been completely devoted to each other for the last eight years. In fact, neither one of them has ever been with anyone else, says their keeper, Stephanie Mitchell.
But the partnership of Wendell and Cass adds drama in another way. They're both male. That is to say, they're gay penguins.
Yeah, baby. They've been together for four years, exclusively. And what about raising a family?
Last mating season, they even fostered an egg together.
"They got all excited when we gave them the egg," said Rob Gramzay, senior keeper for polar birds at the zoo. He took the egg from a young, inexperienced couple that hatched an extra and gave it to Silo and Roy. "And they did a really great job of taking care of the chick and feeding it."
Surely, though, they're only paired with each other because there aren't enough females at the zoo, right? Wrong.
Of the 53 penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy are not the only ones that are gay. In 1997, the park had four pairs of homosexual penguins. In an effort to increase breeding, zookeepers tried to separate them by force. They failed, said Gramzay.
Only one of the eight bonded with a female. The rest went back to same-sex relationships, not necessarily with the same partner. Silo and Roy, long-time homosexuals, got together (or pair-bonded, in official penguin lingo) after that failed experiment.
And what about their relationship? Surely gay relationships are doomed, because... uh... well, actually, I've never heard a coherent version of that argument from the fundies. Anyway, it's not true.
Today, they are one of the best couples at the aquarium. "Sometimes they lie on the rocks together," Mitchell said. "They're one of the few couples that like to hang out together outside their nest."
Joshua Edelstein, on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 at 9:45 AM:
See, this just goes to prove what I've always said: that . . . wait a minute . . . oh. I've never actually said anything about gay penguins. But it sure rips a hole in that "but it's not natural!" argument. As well as the gay = promiscuous argument.
Although the visuals are a tad disturbing . . .
Robert Jahrling, on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 at 11:03 AM:
I liked this line: "Rumors that they keep the neatest nest at the aquarium because they're gay are not true."
I'd sure like to know who came up with the "homosexual relationships are neither serious nor permanent" line of attack. It's ridiculous.
As you probably know by now, the Basque separatist group ETA is alleged to have set bombs in Madrid that killed at least 182 people and injured 900 today.
I'm posting the image below in solidarity with the people of Madrid, because Europe stood with us after 9/11. Hopefully Spain won't make the same mistakes we've made since.
Has anyone seen an actual argument on the anti-gay marriage side? I'm not talking about the "oh, gay marriage spells the end of the institution of marriage" general whiny statements -- I'm looking for an actual argument as to why they think that's the case.
'Cos, you know, I haven't seen one. And I'm curious if there is one.
rfkj, on Thursday, February 26, 2004 at 7:46 AM:
I have. Most of the arguments are either gratuitous assertion or baseless sophistry, and as you know, any gratuitous assertion may be equally as gratuitously denied.
Some of the ones I've seen:
"Marriage is for procreation"--ridiculous on the face of it, for obvious reasons. Neither requires the other.
"Homosexuality is immoral"--also ridiculous on the face of it. And even if you buy into that argument, the moral sphere and the legal sphere don't necessarily interact.
"Heterosexual marriage is a tradition"--okay, that's true. But so what? This is an example of baseless sophistry, in my opinion.
The Santorum/slipper-slope argument--fear-mongering at its worst, equating homosexuals with pedophiles. Doesn't even deserve discussion, but needs good refutation when brought up.
"We're not going to grant special rights"--argh! Protecting the rights of citizens is not granting anybody a "special" right. The current situation is the exact inverse: it's a "special" denial of rights that everyone else has.
It's worth noting that these are probably a lot of the same arguments that were made against interracial marriage, and as both product and perpetrator of same, I find them especially heinous.
Andrew, on Thursday, February 26, 2004 at 1:50 PM:
I too have not encountered a valid argument, based upon true premises, that concludes gay marriage should not exist. Honestly though, I've not sought them. So now you pose the task of finding them.
Outside of my imagination, I could go to the usual suspects, those vocal protestors, strangely unified against gay marriage. (Strangely unified, because their claims thus far observed are an incoherent collection that simply testifies to the fact that the irrational and non-rational means to arrive at a conclusion are myriad. If they should converge on one conclusion, they can masquerade as one sound argument, but this is accidental at best. One could not claim they converge on one conclusion by all following the same valid process. In other words, if I were to pick any two of these protesters at random, I'll bet there's a low likelihood one could reconstruct the "argument" of the other. The "arguments" are idiosyncratically comprehended, and thus not arguments at all. This assumes their reasoning is sufficiently mutually intelligible; one need only common sense, not a priesthood, to interpret any one "argument".)
I could also seek arguments from other sources, places that may surprise me. Antithetical ones, like members of the gay civil rights community, come to mind. But let's look for sources less identifiable by logic. (I'll pop a crisp $20 bill in the mail to anyone who can construct an admissible Google query for this.)
Or maybe another question. Instead of, "What are the arguments?", how about, "What are the fatal contradictions?". One fertile area to explore is how profoundly anti-family American culture has become, and if this evolution is tied in any causal way to the rising religion of capitalism. In the long run, maybe one shouldn't expect a culture to evolve that values marriage (of any kind) and maximal profit seeking. America occupies an unprecedented position of power in the world. Like any good chemical reaction, could the energy that drives this engine derive from the broken bonds between its social atoms?
What was that about global warming being laughable lefty paranoia?
OK, I have to prep for a meeting, so I don't have time to comment on this, except for a very self-righteous "Goddamn RIGHT!", but here's the link to the article in The Guardian and a few choice excerpts:
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
[ . . . ]
Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.
An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.
[ . . . ]
Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'
Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.
'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.
And, for the record, the irony of being happy that the Pentagon is reporting that we're screwed has not escaped me.
rfkj, on Monday, February 23, 2004 at 1:30 PM:
(I'm just playing devil's advocate here.)
Isn't that the report that's basically a security analysis of what could happen if rapid global climate change becomes a reality? I don't think it's saying that global warming exists--I think it lays out a scenario of what might happen if there is rapid catastrophic climate change.
It's kind of like a nuclear war survivability scenario: you know, all the Halliburton execs into hardened bunkers, everyone else is SOL.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 5:59 AM:
From the annals of insecurity -- pity us New Yorkers:
By the way, the Atomic Archive root page is outstanding.
The democratic caucus, Saturday morning, was a weird, dreamlike experience. Roughly 70% of the people attending their caucuses in Washington had never been to one before; I'm guessing that in our legislative district it was more like 90%, and it was definitely 100% in our precinct. We all drifted around, following hollered instructions from our big-voiced district officer (in a snappy red, white, and blue tie), eventually ending up at the appropriate tables with the appropriate packets of information.
I was surprised, delighted, and relieved that our little precinct table (19 neighbors) managed to be on its best Seattle Liberal behavior -- not whiny and contentious and bogged down in petty ideology, but pragmatic and respectful and focused on the point.
Several people made quite eloquent speeches in favor of their choices, which we all listened respectfully to; the Dean and Kerry people didn't try to choke each other, which I was a little afraid of; and (most importantly to me) we all agreed that at this point, even a special interest junkie who voted for Bush's tax cuts and his little war will be better than this administration.
I'd have been happier if Dean did better in Washington (30% of the delegates chosen, as opposed to 48% for Kerry), but he did quite well in our precinct, with three delegates for him, and one for Kerry. The Kerry delegate is married to one of the Dean delegates; I'm married to another one.
As we were leaving, the surrealism of the morning was capped for me by seeing a young woman holding a pile of LaRouche literature passionately trying to explain to a small cluster of people why Kucinich is a total sell-out.
The Fog of War
Mr. McNamara, among his other positions, was Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. I'm not qualified to speak about his deeds and/or misdeeds while he held that post -- judging from his comments in the film, he thinks it's a mixed record at best -- but I would like to mention one thing he said in hindsight about the Vietnam war.
Mr. McNamara said that while we were in Vietnam, none of our allies supported us in that action. And he said that when you're the most powerful nation in the world, it's profoundly immoral to act unilaterally.
"If we cannot convince nations with comparable values to our own", he said, "of the rightness of our actions, then we'd better re-examine our reasoning."
At that, the audience -- silent through most of the film -- applauded.
Is anyone in the current administration, I wonder, a student at all of history? We've seen this movie before. We know how it ends.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Friday, February 6, 2004 at 11:22 AM:
NY Times, 7 Feb 2004:
"A Berkeley Lecture on Power's Limits, by an Expert"
Anyway, the burning question in the wake of last night's televised extravaganza is: why the hell wouldn't CBS air MoveOn's ad? Remind me? For God's sake, nearly every other commercial they showed was about penises. (Levitra, Cialis, the crotch-biting dog, Cedric's bikini wax, Wallace the bagpiper, & c.) Now, I cannot personally claim to be anti-penis per se, but I do feel obliged to ask: penises are acceptable family entertainment fare, but politics are not? We can engage in a national discourse about erectile dysfunction, but not the budget deficit? Nelly and P. Diddy can implore us to take our clothes off, Kid Rock -- well, never mind, I have no idea what Kid Rock was saying -- but Nelly and Kid Rock are more wholesome public figures than a group of citizens concerned about national economic policy? I feel a little baffled, frankly. Couldn't we, you know, have dropped Budweiser's farting horse ad in favor of a little political commentary? I can't believe that farting horses and alcoholic beverages make for excessively high-toned Sunday night family television.
But perhaps there is some greater motive for which I am failing to account. Who knows? I do hate to be such an old fuddy-dud.
rfkj, on Tuesday, February 3, 2004 at 8:50 AM:
Conspiracy theory: Anheuser-Busch, along with Pepsi, pretty much owns Super Bowl advertising. If Anheuser-Busch were not propping up the Super Bowl, the ad rate would not be nearly as high, so it's probably in the networks' best interests to keep AB happy.
Anheuser-Busch also makes large campaign contributions. They give money to both sides, to hedge their bets, but they give three times as much to Republicans as they do to Democrats.
All AB has to do is place a bug in somebody's ear about the MoveOn ad: run this and we pull all our advertising. AB doesn't need the Super Bowl--the Super Bowl needs AB. So what AB wants, AB gets.
(Disclaimer: this is mostly gratuitous assertion, not grounded in fact. But it's a theory.)
All I'm sayin' is...
It's a sad freakin' day in this country when this is a political statement:
(If you can't tell from the picture, General Clark is holding his lunch of a croissant and an eclair.)
OK, rather than go through each and every idiot commentary on Al Gore's recent speech on global warming (the general message being, "what a lefty idiot, what kind of reactionary gives a speech on global warming on the coldest day in NYC in years?") I'm just going to address it once, here, in my own damn forum.
These two things are true:
1) No credible scientist disputes the conclusion that human activity has increased the "greenhouse" effect, trapping heat in our atmosphere. Many scientists in the pay of global corporations dispute the conclusion, though, as does the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
2) Global "warming" isn't a good name for the effect. It's more accurate to think of energy being trapped in our atmosphere. What this does is increase the amplitude of weather changes. Hot weather is hotter, it's true, but the recent extreme cold weather that walked across the US is probably also an effect of global "warming". The increase in violent hurricanes and other storms in the last ten years? Yep, global "warming" also. Remember, it's just more energy in the system.
A.E. Sundstrom, on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 8:55 AM:
Apropos, in the 28 Jan 2004 NY Times:
David Adam Edelstein, on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 9:33 AM:
For those who try to follow Drew's excellent link after it expires on the NYT site, here's the meat of Mr. Epstein's essay:
"Normally, water circulates in the North Atlantic like this: Cold, salty water at the top sinks; that sinking water acts as a pump, pulling warm Gulf Stream water north and thus moderating winter weather. But now, fresh water from the thawing ice and heavier rain is accumulating near the ocean's surface; it's not sinking as quickly. (The tropics are faced with the opposite phenomenon. According to Dr. Ruth Curry and her colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the tropical Atlantic is becoming saltier; as warming increases, so does evaporation, which leaves behind salt.) The "freshening" in the North Atlantic may be contributing to a high-pressure system that is accelerating trans-Atlantic winds and deflecting the jet stream changes that may be driving frigid fronts down the Eastern Seaboard. The ice-core records demonstrate that the North Atlantic can freshen to a point where the deep-water pump fails, warm water stops coming north, and the northern ocean suddenly freezes, as it did in the last Ice Age. No one can say if that is what will happen next. But since the 1950's, the best documented deep-water pump, between Iceland and Scotland, has slowed 20 percent.
Why now? After all, the planet's previous periods of global warming resulted from changes in the earth's tilt toward the sun, and recent calculations of these cycles indicate that our hospitable climate was not due to have ended any time soon. But because of the warming brought by the buildup of carbon dioxide, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, the equations have changed. We are entering uncharted waters. It's something for New Yorkers to ponder as they bundle up."
I just don't know what to say about this
The Subaru Outback sedan looks like any other midsize car, with a trunk and comfortable seating for four adults.
But Subaru is tweaking some parts of the Outback sedan and wagon this year to meet the specifications of a light truck, the same regulatory category used by pickups and sport utilities. Why? Largely to avoid tougher fuel economy and air pollution standards for cars.
It is the first time an automaker plans to make changes in a sedan like raising its ground clearance by about an inch and a half so it can qualify as a light truck. But it is hardly the first time an automaker has taken advantage of the nation's complex fuel regulations, which divide each manufacturer's annual vehicle fleet into two categories. Light trucks will have to average only 21.2 miles a gallon in the 2005 model year. By contrast, each automaker's full fleet of passenger cars must average 27.5 miles a gallon.
All I know is, when Becky and I buy a Prius later this year, I want to get a license plate frame that says "Eat my 55 mpg's, you FUV-driving suckah!"
To stupidity and beyond!!!
(Note that I have no intention of turning this site into a continuing political screed; however, two really juicy bits in one day was too much to pass up.)
All day, I've been trying to figure out what to say about the rumored announcement Mr. Bush is supposed to make this week about a moon base and a human mars mission.
Fortunately, Robert L. Park relieved me of that task by nailing all of my issues in one lovely paragraph of today's What's New mailing:
3. MARS: "LIKE COLUMBUS, WE DREAM OF SHORES WE'VE NOT YET SEEN."
Those stirring words were spoken by President George H. Bush on the steps of the Air and Space Museum on July 24, 1989, the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. He called for a return to the Moon, and on to Mars. President George W. Bush, who seems driven to complete his father's unfinished work, is expected to issue a similar call next Wednesday. It's a curiously old-fashioned dream. Progress of society is measured by the extent to which work that is menial or dangerous is performed by machines. The scientists that command telerobots like Spirit, having become virtual astronauts, are the explorers of today.
Show me the... oh, nevermind
Surely you all remember back in February, when Colin Powell presented to the UN?
After studying intelligence data, he said that a "sinister nexus" existed "between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder."
Without any additional qualifiers, Mr. Powell continued, "Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants."
He added, "Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials are simply not credible."
Well, yesterday he finally admitted it: At best, they grossly overstated any evidence they had.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell conceded Thursday that despite his assertions to the United Nations last year, he had no "smoking gun" proof of a link between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and terrorists of Al Qaeda.
"I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection," Mr. Powell said...
In their defense, however, Powell went on:
He said that Mr. Hussein had used prohibited weapons in the past including nerve gas attacks against Iran and Iraqi Kurds and said that even if there were no actual weapons at hand, there was every indication he would reconstitute them once the international community lost interest.
"In terms of intention, he always had it," Mr. Powell said. "What he was waiting to do is see if he could break the will of the international community, get rid of any potential future inspections, and get back to his intentions, which were to have weapons of mass destruction."
Which is undoubtedly true, except that the big question at the time was "Is there an immediate danger to the USA that requires that we move from peaceful, inexpensive weapons inspections to a deadly, expensive, and protracted military engagement?"
One answer, which probably prompted Powell's admissions:
A report released Thursday by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan Washington research center, concluded that Iraq's weapons programs constituted a long-term threat that should not have been ignored. But it also said the programs did not "pose an immediate threat to the United States, to the region or to global security."
Oh yes, and despite the administration's continued assertion that there are WMDs hidden somewhere, they're not looking so hard any more:
The administration has quietly withdrawn a 400-member team of American weapons inspectors who were charged with finding chemical or biological weapons stockpiles or laboratories, officials said this week. The team was part of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group, which has not turned up such weapons or active programs, the officials said.
The Carnegie report challenged the possibility that Mr. Hussein could have destroyed the weapons, hidden them or shipped them out of the country. Officials had alleged that Iraq held amounts so huge hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons, dozens of Scud missiles that such moves would have been detected by the United States, the report said.
So, in summary, one more time with feeling:
1) There was NO RELIABLE EVIDENCE of a link between Al Qaeda and Sadaam Hussein.
2) There was NO RELIABLE EVIDENCE of the current existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
Full story at the New York Times: Powell Admits No Hard Proof in Linking Iraq to Al Qaeda.
rfkj, on Friday, January 9, 2004 at 10:00 AM:
War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Iraq has massive stockpiles of weapons. I am serving turkey to our troops.
Worst. President. Ever.
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, January 9, 2004 at 11:05 AM:
Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for this even better quote:
"I want to bring to your attention today [to] the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network...al-Qaida affiliates based in Baghdad now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for Saddam's network, and they have now been operating freely in [Baghdad]."
- Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2/5/03
Where's that quote from? Some lefty rag? No, it's on the Secretary of State's web site: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/17300.htm
A little old-fashioned war profiteering
So we're here at Becky's parents' house. They watch TV, specifically the Fox News network (I'm guessing it's a 24 hour cable network? Anyone?).
Fox News just had their Christmas Eve signoff -- shots of everyone on the team, the editing booth singing badly, dog schtick, etc.
The part that disturbed me was the repeated references to the "Cost of Freedom Business Group". "Happy holidays from all of us at the Cost of Freedom business group." "Thanks for helping us have a happy and, above all, profitable year."
Am I just crabby and reactionary (always a possibility) or is that creepy? Is it disturbing that they acknowledge so publicly that our unpleasant engagement in Iraq is good for their bottom line?
Shrub is 120% of Saddam
Ted Rall knocks it out of the park.
(Via Uncle Vinny)
I wish I had one of these last week
Inspired by my incessant and annoying whinging about my back last week... I give you this update of a classic office poster:
Joke. Origin unknown.
While walking down the street one day, George "Dubya" Bush is shot by a disgruntled NRA member. His soul arrives in heaven and he is met by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem: We seldom see a Republican around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in; I'm a believer,' says Dubya.
"I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from the Man Himself: He says you have to spend one day in hell and one day in heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."
"But, I've already made up my mind; I want to be in heaven."
"I'm sorry, but we have our rules." And with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse. Standing in front of it his dad and thousands of other Republicans who had helped him out over the years: Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Jerry Falwell.
The whole of the "Right" is here, everyone laughing, happy; casually but expensively dressed. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at expense of the "suckers and peasants." They play a friendly game of golf, then dine on lobster and caviar. The devil himself comes up to Bush with a frosty drink and says, "Have a Margarita and relax, Dubya!"
"Uh, I can't drink no more, I took a pledge," says Junior, dejectedly.
"This is Hell, son: you can drink and eat all you want and not worry, and it just gets better from here!" says the devil. Dubya takes the drink and finds himself liking the devil, who is a very friendly guy who tells funny jokes and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like a Yale Skull and Bones brother with real horns. They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it's time to go.
Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Bush steps on the elevator and heads upward.
When the elevator door reopens, he is in heaven again and St. Peter is waiting for him.
"Now it's time to visit heaven," the old man says, opening the gate. So for 24 hours Bush is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or frat boy joke among them; no fancy country clubs and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor; he doesn't see anybody he knows, and he isn't even treated like someone special!
Worst of all, to Dubya, Jesus turns out to be some kind of Jewish hippie with his endless 'peace' and 'do unto others' jive.
"Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself, "Pat Robertson never prepared me for this!"
The day done, St. Peter returns and says, "Well, then, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity."
With the 'Jeopardy' theme playing softly in the background, Dubya reflects for a minute, then answers, "Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, heaven has been delightful and all -- but I really think I belong in hell with my friends."
So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to hell. The doors of the elevator open, and he finds himself in the middle of barren, scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste...kind of like Houston. He is horrified to see all of his friends dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.
The Devil comes over to Dubya and puts an arm around his shoulder.
"I don't understand," stammers a shocked Dubya. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar and drank booze. We screwed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!"
The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly, and purrs, "Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us."
I've been blacklisted
... voluntarily, that is.
Did you hear about the NRA blacklist?
It's a 19-page list of organizations, entertainers, and other public figures who have in some way offended the NRA. As NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre said, "Our members don't want to buy their songs, don't want to go to their movies, don't want to support their careers."
Here's the good part:
Actor Dustin Hoffman was so dismayed to find his name missing from the NRA's shadowy 19-page list of U.S. companies, celebrities, and news organizations seen as lending support to anti-gun policies that he wrote to the powerful pro-gun lobby group begging to be included.
"As a supporter of comprehensive anti-gun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered my name was not on the list," Hoffman wrote in a letter to the NRA that was released on Tuesday.
"I was particularly surprised by the omission given my opposition to the loophole that makes it legal for 18- to 20-year-olds to buy handguns at gun shows," he added.
Hoffman's name has now been added to the list which reads like a Who's Who of American business, culture and religion and which ranges from the American Jewish Congress to A&M Records, ABC News and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.
Now there's a site for you to add your name to the blacklist and join the distinguished group of people the NRA will no longer patronize.
Oh, and a note to answer some of the e-mail I will surely get. I do in fact support the second amendment to the constitution, and the rest of the bill of rights. However, it is a source of constant amazement to me that the NRA, for all their excitement over the text of that amendment, seem to never read the second and third words of that text:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
I'm not for banning all private ownership of guns. I am for making sure that their sale, use, and ownership is... that's right, "well regulated".
I'm not sure this is going to help
Here's a move sure to re-assure non-radicalized Muslims that the USA is only interested in targeting terrorists, not all Muslims:
The Pentagon has assigned the task of tracking down and eliminating Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets to an Army general who sees the war on terrorism as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.
Ooooops. Maybe not.
Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence ... the former commander and 13-year veteran of the Army's top-secret Delta Force is also an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan."
Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Boykin said last year.
On at least one occasion, in Sandy, Ore., in June, Boykin said of President Bush: "He's in the White House because God put him there."
(I particularly enjoy the fact that it was Oregonian loonies that he was speaking to. Why is it always Oregon? Sure, they've got guns and compounds in Idaho, but they're not as weirdo as the Oregonians. Must be the rain.)
Not to say we told you so...
but, you know, we told you so.
Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says
Oct 15, 7:32 AM (ET)
By Peter Graff
LONDON (Reuters) - War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report.
The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the war on terror were "over-confident."
The report, widely considered an authoritative text on the military capabilities of states and militant groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction effort that has followed in Iraq.
Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the country from "ripening into a cause celebre for radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded. "Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might require more troops than initially planned.
"On the plus side, war in Iraq has denied al Qaeda a potential supplier of weapons of mass destruction and discouraged state sponsors of terrorism from continuing to support it," the report said.
"On the minus side, war in Iraq has probably inflamed radical passions among Muslims and thus increased al Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least marginally, its operating capability," it said.
"The immediate effect of the war may have been to isolate further al Qaeda from any potential state supporters while also swelling its ranks and galvanizing its will."
A healthy sense of self-mockery ...
... is a beautiful thing.
Gary Coleman divulges the top 10 things that would be different if he had been elected governor. (Realvideo)
Lies and damn lies
A couple of excerpts:
Let's start with Dick Cheney. He appeared on Meet The Press and was asked by host Tim Russert if there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. He replied, "Of course, we've had the story that's been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack. But we've never been able to develop any more of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don't know." This was a deceptive answer. Shortly after 9/11, Czech intelligence officials did say they had a report from a source--a single source--that Atta had met with this Iraqi intelligence official in April 2001. Subsequent media reports in the United States noted that the source was an Arab student who was not considered particularly reliable. The FBI investigated and found nothing to substantiate the report of the meeting. In fact, the FBI concluded that Atta was most likely in Florida at the time of the supposed meeting, and the CIA questioned the existence of this meeting. (Even if there had been a meeting, one could not tell what it meant unless it was known what was said--and no one, not even Cheney, has claimed to know what might have transpired.)
Moreover, on October 21, 2002, The New York Times reported that Czech President Vaclav Havel "quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports" of the meeting. And it seemed that Atta had gone to Prague in June 2000, not April 2001. "Now," the paper noted, "some Czech and German officials say that their best explanation of why Mr. Atta came to Prague was to get a cheap airfare to the United States."
[ . . . ]
Last, but not least, George W. Bush. September is back-to-school time, and Bush hit the road to promote his education policies. During a speech at a Nashville elementary school, he hailed his education record by noting that "the budget for next year boosts funding for elementary and secondary education to $53.1 billion. That's a 26-percent increase since I took office. In other words, we understand that resources need to flow to help solve the problems." A few things were untrue in these remarks. Bush's proposed elementary and secondary education budget for next year is $34.9 billion, not $53.1 billion, according to his own Department of Education. It's his total proposed education budget that is $53.1 billion. More importantly, there is no next-year "boost" in this budget. Elementary and secondary education received $35.8 billion in 2003. Bush's 2004 budget cuts that back nearly a billion dollars, and the overall education spending in his budget is the same as the 2003 level.
Sometimes the politics of the grand ol' US of A really gets me miffed. So I let off some steam this summer by creating this little comic called George's Journal.
My memory of 9/11/2001
I was sitting right here, in my bathrobe, reading e-mail. The phone rang. Debra said "I knew you'd be awake and I had to call someone." I hadn't seen the news, but a quick scan of the news services chilled and confused me. We chatted for a few minutes, then she hung up.
I watched the news progress, and decided that the best thing for me would be to act as normally as possible. I went to work, but spent most of the day watching the live feed on MSNBC.
The next day, I wrote a letter to the editor, and sent it to several newspapers. The Seattle P-I published it on the 14th:
The events in New York and Washington, D.C., are a terrible tragedy for our country. My heart is with the families and friends of all those who were affected.
The deaths and injuries people sustained are all the more tragic because the blame for their deaths should be laid on the decades of U.S. foreign policy that created an environment where an attack of this magnitude could be mounted.
The United States has spent years going into South and Central America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, destabilizing governments, supporting thuggish dictators and playing games. When people didn't quite have the skills needed to spread terror most effectively, we brought them to Fort Benning, Ga., to train at the School of the Americas.
For years, our arrogance allowed us to believe that the chaos and fear we created would stay inside the countries we wanted to affect. Tuesday, that arrogance was proven tragically hollow.
We may eventually track down the people who directed this individual attack.
But the blood of the victims is on our own hands.
In the weeks after it was published, several people I knew well or casually came up to me and thanked me for my letter. "I thought I was the only person who felt that way" was a common comment.
Miz Becky and I headed out on a previously-planned trip around northeastern Oregon the day the letter was published. A few days later, in Halfway, I checked our answering machine at home to see if there were any messages. There were two: one from someone I had never met, thanking me for my letter, and another one that was less positive:
"Your, uh, letter indicates that you are a pacifist anti-american motherfucker, and as an old Navy SEAL, I can guarantee you I know where you live, and you're a fucking dead man."
You can hear my first death threat for yourself, if you like.
Now, at this point it's obvious that it was nothing more than a crank call designed to scare me. And it did — I've never been quite as comfortable sending a letter to the editor since.
But even more disturbing is how clearly it defined the deep divide that was going to split the USA over the next few years — how blindingly angry people on both ends of the political spectrum have become. If someone had told me at that moment that we were going to unilaterally engage in a New Vietnam in Iraq 18 months later, I wouldn't have been surprised.
What's saddest to me, on this anniversary, is that for one brief beautiful moment, we had the sympathies of the rest of the world. Vigils were held all over the world. We had a chance to join with the rest of the world, and to start working on real solutions to the anti-american hatred we had been stirring up for years.
Sadly, we went in the opposite direction. Instead of containing anti-american sentiment, it's spread. Instead of reducing the power of the hateful minority of radical Muslims, we've helped their recruiting programs. Instead of joining together as a country to move forward, we've become more deeply divided than ever before.
Shame on us for dishonoring the memory of the people who died in the terrorist attacks two years ago.
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, September 12, 2003 at 11:29 AM:
As a visual aid, Tom Tomorrow points to a gallery of photos taken around the world in September of 2001: http://www.privilogic.com/wordsfail/
This is cheap...
but damn funny. Origin unknown.
Early this morning, a devastating fire burned down the personal library of President George W. Bush.
Tragically, both books were lost in the conflagration.
More poignantly, the President, due to his hectic schedule, had not found time to color in the second one.
I STILL have a dream
Today is the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. I thought it would be a nice treat to remember him by reprinting the text of the speech here. Enjoy!
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Bill Moyers on the Environment
Grist: Has the Bush administration been more effective at pushing their environmental agenda than the Reagan and Bush I administrations before it?
Moyers: Ronald Reagan came to power with the same agenda, but made a mistake when he appointed James Watt head of the wrecking crew at the Department of Interior. Watt made no attempt to disguise his fanaticism. He was outspokenly anti-environment and he inflamed the public against him with his flagrant remarks. But he took over a bureaucracy of civil servants who had come of age in the first great environmental wave of the l970s -- people who believed they had a public charge to do the right thing. When Watt stormed into office, these civil servants resisted. Now, 20 years later -- after eight years of Reagan, four years of Bush the First, and three years of Bush the Second -- that generation of civil servants is gone. The executive branch is a wholly owned subsidiary of the conservative/corporate coalition.
[ . . . ]
Grist: The irony is that despoliation doesn't just wipe out the verdant land, it makes it impossible to have a healthy, diverse economy.
Moyers: It stuns me that the people in power can't see that the source of our wealth is the Earth. I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a capitalist. I don't want to destroy the system on which my livelihood and my journalism rest. I am strongly on behalf of saving the environment [in no small part] because it is the source of our wealth. Destroy it and the pooh-bahs of Wall Street will have to book an expedition to Mars to enjoy their riches. I don't understand why they don't see it. I honestly don't. This absence of vision as to what happens when you foul your nest puzzles me.
[ . . . ]
Grist: Yes, it seems as though on some level Bush is lacking some kind of emotional intelligence on these matters -- as though he's sort of tone deaf to the environment.
Moyers: We had Devra Davis, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon, on the show recently. She described how Laura and George Bush designed their ranch at Crawford to be environmentally efficient, with solar paneling and lots of new technology. She pointed out that they seem to understand these issues somewhat on an individual level, and yet they don't understand that the personal is not enough. It takes policy to translate. There is a disconnect between how they live privately and how they act publicly.
The doctor was in last night
Miz Becky and I, and an estimated 15,000 of our closest friends, were at Westlake last night for the Seattle stop of Howard Dean's Sleepless Summer Tour.
Waiting for Dr. Dean allowed some of our colleagues in the crowd to show their best sides... heckling the activists who are doing the incredibly hard work to elect the man you were supposedly there to see is not in the best of taste, even if you are in a hurry to see the celebrity so you can get back home to your teevee and stop thinking.
But I digress.
Eventually Dean did show up, and was fired up -- apparently we were the largest crowd he's gathered at a rally yet.
I won't bother to recap the speech -- you can listen to that afternoon's speech in Portland, which is largely the same text -- except to say three things.
1) As Miz Becky pointed out, it's rare to hear a politician speak and actually learn things you didn't know before.
2) Aside from the more general comments about Mr. Bush, he also took the President to task for describing the University of Michigan as having "racial quotas" for enrollment. Dean argued that the word quota is a racially charged word, and that using it is designed to appeal to our basest fears about losing our jobs to racial minorities. "President Bush campaigned by saying that he was a uniter, not a divider -- possibly the least truthful thing he said during the campaign!" (He also pointed out that even the conservative Supreme Court who put Bush in the White House disagreed with the President on this.)
I thought this was a beautiful thing. He didn't speak in vague generalities; he took the President to task for a specific act: deliberately sowing fear instead of appealing to Americans' better natures.
3) As Kirstie said after attending Dr. Dean's formal announcement of his candidacy back in June, "It has been a long time since I felt truly proud to be an American. Howard Dean made me proud to-day."
Is this man the right person to be President? I think so, but several of the other candidates have good points. Would he be a better person for the job than the current president? Absolutely.
The bottom line for me is that I like the man. I don't agree with him on every point -- the death penalty, for example -- but he's willing to say hard things in public. He's willing to say that change is going to take hard work and sacrifice. And he's willing to say, in a time of mindless patriotism, that the current government's actions -- unilateral war on false pretenses, turning a massive surplus into a massive deficit, huge corporate handouts, and attacks on our civil liberties -- is not how we should do business in America. And I agree with that.
rfkj, on Monday, August 25, 2003 at 9:52 AM:
What's interesting to me about Dean is that, at least from what I've read about him, he seems to be having a Reagan-like effect on people. That is to say, Ronald Reagan was able to swing a lot of centrist Democrats in '80 and '84, and it looks like Dean can do the same, in the other direction, in a way that Clinton never did. I'm still nominally a Republican (I did NOT vote for Bush in the last election, TYVM!), but I fully intend to vote for Dean at every opportunity.
Friday's anti-Bush protest in Bellevue
On Friday, Vince and I headed over to Bellevue at around noon, to go to the anti-Bush protest that was scheduled. Vince was handing out flyers for today's Howard Dean rally at Westlake; I took pictures, of course.
It turned out that there were two separate intersections where the action was: one, with just anti-bush protesters, where we ended up; and another, with mixed groups, which we didn't make it to.
Unfortunately I had some camera confusion when we first got there, so some good pictures were totally blown out, but I've salvaged a couple here.
I can say that some of the signs are getting more creative. Clearly under the adversity of this president, peoples' creative juices are flowing.
joe buscemi, on Tuesday, December 7, 2004 at 10:19 AM:
I need your help! I have developed A great t-shirt
It depicts bush behind bars with bold text calling him a "WAR CRIMINAL", and calling for
"IMPEACHMENT NOW". We should get this shirt into the hands of our protest groups ASAP,
especially with the inauguration coming up. If that's you that's great. I'm a one man operation ,so I can keep costs low. After screen printing and postage, the cost per should about
$8.00 I'm at a disadvantage because I don't have access to a web-site. I feel like I'm spinning my
wheeels. This shirt should be out there.
I made a few for a friend in New Orleans, He said he could have sold them by the dozens.
Please reply ASAP.
Don't we wish
Kirstie indulges in a little fantasizing:
Maybe someday it will turn out that everyone is just kidding about Ann Coulter. She is like some big national practical joke. She will stand up one day in the middle of a T.V. show or something and say, "People! Lighten up! I am totally just kidding!" And we will all feel silly and laugh a little sheepishly, and she will donate the proceeds from her books to Greenpeace and the ACLU and then go off to sit in an endangered redwood somewhere. Yay, Ann Coulter, you big kidder! Oh, I'm so relieved -- I totally fell for it, I confess.
A futures market in terrorism?
Somebody please tell me this is a hoax.
WASHINGTON, July 28 The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.
Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the "broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks." Two Democratic senators who reported the plan called it morally repugnant and grotesque. The senators said the program fell under the control of Adm. John M. Poindexter, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser.
[ . . . ]
The Pentagon, in defending the program, said such futures trading had proven effective in predicting other events like oil prices, elections and movie ticket sales.
"Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information," the Defense Department said in a statement. "Futures markets have proven themselves to be good at predicting such things as elections results; they are often better than expert opinions."
According to descriptions given to Congress, available at the Web site and provided by the two senators, traders who register would deposit money into an account similar to a stock account and win or lose money based on predicting events.
"For instance," Mr. Wyden said, "you may think early on that Prime Minister X is going to be assassinated. So you buy the futures contracts for 5 cents each. As more people begin to think the person's going to be assassinated, the cost of the contract could go up, to 50 cents.
"The payoff if he's assassinated is $1 per future. So if it comes to pass, and those who bought at 5 cents make 95 cents. Those who bought at 50 cents make 50 cents."
More at the New York Times.
David Adam Edelstein, on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 at 9:47 AM:
Update: Looks like the thing is going to be scrapped:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon plan to get information on the Middle East by setting up an online futures market where investors would bet on the probability of war, terrorism and other events is going to be scrapped, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Tuesday.
"My understanding is it's going to be terminated," Wolfowitz told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
OK, I know I'm paranoid, but...
Body Found in Woods Matches UK Weapons Inspector
Jul 18, 10:47 AM (ET)
By Gideon Long
LONGWORTH, England (Reuters) - British police found a body Friday matching that of a mild-mannered scientist who disappeared after unwittingly becoming embroiled in a furious political dispute about the Iraq war.
The softly spoken 59-year-old had been thrust into the limelight by a row over whether the British government hyped the threat from Iraq in order to justify joining the U.S.-led war.
[ . . . ]
Kelly's family reported him missing overnight after he went for a walk in the Oxfordshire countryside Thursday with no coat and stayed out despite a rainstorm. Police found a body in a wood near his home Friday.
"We can confirm that the body matches the description of Dr Kelly. The body has not been formally identified," a police spokeswoman said.
Kelly, a microbiologist at the Defense Ministry who had worked for U.N. inspectors in Iraq, had been grilled by parliamentarians Tuesday after admitting he spoke to a reporter for Britain's BBC radio.
The reporter, Andrew Gilligan, said in May a senior intelligence source had told him the government "sexed up" data to emphasize the threat from Iraq.
[ . . . ]
Kelly's wife Jane described him as deeply upset by the hearing, family friend Tom Mangold, a television journalist, told ITV News. "She told me he had been under considerable stress, that he was very, very angry about what had happened at the committee," Mangold said.
Note it says "angry", not "depressed".
"supporting our troops"
Today's Army Times (which is exactly the periodical it sounds like) carries this editorial harshly condemning Bush and the GOP:
Nothing but lip service
In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.
Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.
-- snip --
Translation: Money talks and we all know what walks.
Doing the math... Bush thinks not seeing your kids for a year and getting your ass shot at halfway around the world isn't worth an extra $7.50 a day.
Let that sink in. The AWOL Lieutenant can dress up in a flight suit to Support Our Troops, but the guys wearing 35-pound packs in 100-degree heat aren't worth an extra seven and a half dollars a day. And while billion-dollar contracts go to administration cronies, their deaths -- their deaths -- aren't worth an extra six grand for the families they leave behind.
It seems that although Shrub pretended not to understand that I can be against the attack on Iraq and still be supportive of the troops, he is able to support the attack on Iraq, and still be against the troops. Charming.
rfkj, on Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 8:28 AM:
Bush is the worst President ever. Military pay cuts, cuts in veterans' benefits, lying out of his ass to get us into war--and mind you, I don't have any particular problems with war: just this one. In one year, GWB has singlehandedly made me do something that fifteen years of yelling at me by my wife has failed to do: I'm voting (D) in the next Presidential election. What the hell happened to "Help has arrived", or whatever he said to imply that he was going to push through pay raises for the people who defend our country--so that they don't have to go on FRIGGING WELFARE. Now I'm starting to ramble and lose coherence in grammar and punctuation, so I'll stop.
David Adam Edelstein, on Monday, July 14, 2003 at 9:06 PM:
It struck me a few days ago that this should really be a source of cognitive dissonance for the people with the "Support Our Troops" lawn signs and bumper stickers -- how can they support the troops and Shrub at the same time? Shrub doesn't support the troops. (In my fantasy world, this means they have to make a choice -- which doublethink neatly absolves them of.)
I'm just going to post this little excerpt from Unqualified Offerings:
What has the appeals court authorized?
Please say those words aloud. "Secret detentions." Now use them in a sentence:
The US government engages in the practice of secret detentions.
The US government has broadly asserted its right to engage in the practice of secret detentions.
A federal appeals court has affirmed that the US government may engage in secret detentions.
Here's a more complex sentence, for the bonus section: There is nothing in the logic of Judge David Sentelle's affirming opinion that the United States government may engage in secret detentions that would limit the practice to illegal aliens, naturalized aliens or foreign visitors to our shores. And another: With its decision allowing the US government to engage in the practice of secret detentions, a federal appeals court has left citizen and non-citizen alike at the mercy of federal discretion.
Now, you go read the rest.
(via Brad DeLong)
Understating instead of "overstating"
From the New York Times, today:
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs.
The report, commissioned in 2001 by the agency's administrator, Christie Whitman, was intended to provide the first comprehensive review of what is known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding exist and how to fill them.
[ . . . ]
The editing eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems.
Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches that year. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion.
In the end, E.P.A. staff members, after discussions with administration officials, said they decided to delete the entire discussion to avoid criticism that they were selectively filtering science to suit policy.
You can read the whole article on the Times' site.
Let's make that perfectly clear: The agency charged with protecting our environment accepted edits on a document about the state of the environment, and specifically on the subject of pollution, from a White House with explicit ties to several highly-polluting industries.
Now, I know I'm a whiny lefty, but is there anything about this that's OK?
A reasonable question
I was reading this morning's news with an increasing sense of dread and deja vue, particularly this quote from Donald Rumsfeld:
"Of course, they have senior Al Qaeda in Iran, that's a fact ... Iran is one of the countries that is, in our view, assessed as developing a nuclear capability, and that's unfortunate."
To rehash my reductionist argument in the days before we opened up hostilities in Iraq: "We all agree that Mr. Hussein is an evil man. But why this war now?"
The answer, of course, was the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument. Secretary Powell:
Our conservative estimate is that Iraq has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agents. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets ... We have first-hand descriptions of biological-weapons factories on wheels and rails. We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological-agent factories...
I won't bore you with any more quotes; you either agree with me, in which case you've heard them, or you don't agree with me, in which case you won't hear them.
This morning I again asked myself, "Self, how can we best poke holes in the veneer of victory? How can we start asking questions to add some intelligent debate to our all-but-inevitable attack of misdirection somewhere else in the Middle East?"
And like a vision, it came to me:
And now I give that to you, in a downloadable version, suitable for printing, copying, cutting, and pasting everywhere. Please do.
I should add, in a sort of painful realist addendum, that in truth I know the answer to the question. I doubt very much whether anyone -- whether the Bush administration or the, what, 80% of the American people who supported the war -- ever believed the "Iraq has WMD" argument, or at least believed that was the reason to go to war. We went to war because, after the tragedy of 9/11, we wanted to kick someone's ass. We wanted to flex our military might, no matter the consequences. Think I'm too cynical? Read on:
Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans.
"We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
Rustifer, on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 8:00 AM:
Wow. You must have seen the downloadable posters / pdf files that look much like your "show me the weapons" poster - at http://www.unamerican.com/ . :)
David Adam Edelstein, on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 10:05 AM:
Hah! No, I hadn't, although I did immediately download the "TV kills braincells" one. They're cool!
Hmmm... and who was in office at the beginning of each of those spikes? Let's see... could it be... Why, it appears to be Reagan/Bush, Bush41/Quayle, and Bush43/Cheney. Must be a coincidence.
On a related note, another link via John's Jottings has someone very interesting debating Bush43 on the Daily Show.
Your friend, the patriot act.
Two weeks ago I experienced a very small taste of what hundreds of South Asian immigrants and U.S. citizens of South Asian descent have gone through since 9/11, and what thousands of others have come to fear. I was held, against my will and without warrant or cause, under the USA PATRIOT Act.
[ . . . ]
That night, March 20th, my roommate Asher and I were on our way to see the Broadway show "Rent." We had an hour to spare before curtain time so we stopped into an Indian restaurant just off of Times Square in the heart of midtown.
[ . . . ]
We helped ourselves to the buffet and then sat down to begin eating our dinner. I was just about to tell Asher how I'd eaten there before and how delicious the vegetable curry was, but I never got a chance. All of a sudden, there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.
Time to start signing over 1/3 of my paycheck to the ACLU.
(Via Tom Tomorrow)
I just ran across this classic in my long string of "posters to melt your co-workers' minds". I'll probably post a few more over the next few days now that I've found this cache.
(Click on the image to download the PDF. Print! Display! Cause pain!)
music posters, on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 at 7:02 AM:
Cool! Posters sometimes show us full of wisdom!
Creating a culture of fear
There's a frightening article in the New York Times (free registration blah blah blah) today about scientists who study AIDS and other STDs being warned to avoid certain "key words" in their grant proposals to avoid "unusual scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services or by members of Congress".
The scientists, who spoke on condition they not be identified, say they have been advised they can avoid unfavorable attention by keeping certain "key words" out of their applications for grants from the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those words include "sex workers," "men who sleep with men," "anal sex" and "needle exchange," the scientists said...
... an official at the National Institutes of Health, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said project officers at the agency, the people who deal with grant applicants and recipients, were telling researchers at meetings and in telephone conversations to avoid so-called sensitive language. But the official added, "You won't find any paper or anything that advises people to do this."
The official said researchers had long been advised to avoid phrases that might mark their work as controversial. But the degree of scrutiny under the Bush administration was "much worse and more intense," the official said.
This article is as deeply frightening to me as any of the other recent examples of the climate of groupthink and hatred we've seen.
The insidious thing about creating this kind of climate of fear is that it's self-perpetuating and self-running. Once enough people have been frightened, once enough scientists have been grilled by grant boards, and once a few grants have been turned down for mysterious reasons, the community will become much more repressive than any outside agency could be. Community censors will steer people away from even doing research in these areas: "Come on, you don't want to screw things up for everyone, do you? They might pull the funding for our entire field! Couldn't you do a project on something less controversial?"
For more on the climate of fear, here's a transcript of Tim Robbins' excellent speech at the National Press Club.
Then again, there's always this treatment of the issue.
rusto, on Friday, April 18, 2003 at 3:11 PM:
It kills me that concurrent with the overthrow of a totalitarian regime abroad (and all the attendant hoopla about "liberation"), the very same administration at home is steering our country in the towards totalitarianism.
Who are you talking to?
I read a strange editorial in the Seattle Times yesterday, syndicated from the Orlando Sentinel, called Saving Pfc. Lynch from an artificial legacy, by Kathleen Parker.
Here are some generous excerpts from the editorial:
It didn't take long for ideological scavengers to descend on the storyline of rescued POW Jessica Lynch. The spunky girl-soldier who fought with grit and survived was a gift to the surface-skimmers who now will subvert her heroic status to their own political ends.
Already the 19-year-old soldier-clerk is being heralded as incontrovertible proof that women are as capable as men in combat. The fact of her endurance and survival, hoo-ah, provides the missing quotient, they say, in America's perplexing gender equation. Harrumph, harrumph.
Then there's Florida, home of the ironically challenged, where Jessica's name is being used in vain to justify resurrection of the colossally superfluous Equal Rights Amendment. If ever there were a time when the ERA has been proven irrelevant, it is now.
Suffice it to say that Pfc. Jessica Lynch didn't need a constitutional amendment to join the Army, to become a prisoner of war, and now to become an icon for people who before this brief intersection of Fate and Politics wouldn't have given her a nickel bag of Lance's peanuts to go with her Nehi grape.
[ . . . ]
No question about it: Jessica Lynch is a star, a darling young woman who deserves our hearts and admiration. But she is also something else that we fail to note at our peril -- not a product of the feminist oligarchy, but the offspring of a traditional American family with a strong father and a big brother who says he'll probably tackle his sister when he sees her.
People who have grown up Southern and country with a father and brother don't need a screenwriter or gender-studies expert to explain how Jessica Lynch survived her ordeal. It had nothing to do with loins girded by feminist dogma. You can bet your satellite dish that Jessica has never studied "The Vagina Monologues" or gone in search of her inner goddess.
Outdoor girls like Jessica often know how to shoot a shotgun and bait their own fishhooks; they can locate water by studying treetops and know how to a tie tourniquet, as well as cut a cross in their own flesh to suck a snake's venom; they've been taught to tell on sight what's poisonous and what's not.
One can reasonably wager that Jessica Lynch can, too.
Having grown up under the tutelage of a brawny brother and an admiring father, she also probably knows how to read a man's eyes, knows when to fight and when to shut down. If she was brave and tough and determined, it is because she had a father who gave her those gifts, which only a father can provide. The same father, incidentally, that the feminist guard, now breast-beating around the ERA campfires, has tried determinedly to eradicate from the American home.
Yes, Jessica Lynch took it like a man -- or like a strong girl bred from good American stock.
[ . . . ]
Finally, on the matter of women's combat worthiness, any visitor to the obstetrics ward knows that women are as tough as men. But an environment that puts women unwillingly at the disposal of men is never an argument for equality. It is quite vividly the opposite.
I'm not sure I have anything coherent to say about this. Or even that there is anything coherent I can say about such a weirdly structured editorial.
Is there anything wrong with the idea that because Pfc. Lynch handled herself well in combat conditions, it's a good argument for allowing women who choose to, to join the army in a combat capacity?
Is there really anywhere in the country that the kind of old-school feminist dogma that Ms. Parker refers to still exists, outside of a few ineffectual holdouts in academia?
The whole thing sounds like a long exposition of the Rush Limbaugh epithet "feminazi", without any added substance -- using the spectre of the castrating feminist to, what, argue that women should stay home and be tough in their own context? Barefoot and pregnant, but with a shotgun in their hands?
Despite whatever illusions Ms. Parker has about country life -- demonstrating her own "egalitarian" attitude towards Pfc. Lynch's West Virginian home -- cutting a snakebite and sucking the poison out is also an antique idea that doesn't work in practice.
Finally, whether the ERA is superfluous at this time or not, the fact that Ms. Parker has a syndicated column that isn't about home economics is a direct result of the work of those same feminists she derides.
If she doesn't like it, she can always go back to the kitchen.
Pick any two
Look, the first of a series of posters for you to print out for yourself. Thanks to Drory Ben-Menachem for the inspiration for this one.
Click on the image to download a high-resolution PDF suitable for printing.
Don't be a sucker
The introduction to the film says:
Like The House I Live In, this film warns that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into "suckers" by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. This thesis is rendered more powerful by the ever-present example of Nazi Germany, whose capsule history is dramatized as part of this film. There's a great deal of good sense in this film and more than a bit of wartime populism: "Let's not think about 'we' and 'they.' Let's think about 'us'!"]
With all of the hatred and war-mongering in the media these days -- Our old friend Rush, and his bastard children like O'Reilly and Savage -- it's nice to be reminded that mutual respect is a long-honored American value.
Newsflash: French's mustard is, in fact, American
OK, things have gotten even further out of hand. French's Mustard has issued a press release:
THE ONLY THING FRENCH ABOUT FRENCHS® MUSTARD IS THE NAME!
ROBERT T. FRENCHS ALL AMERICAN DREAM LIVES ON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Recently there has been some confusion as to the origin of Frenchs mustard. For the record, Frenchs would like to say, there is nothing more American than Frenchs mustard.
Born in New York by the R. T. French company, Frenchs Cream Salad Mustard made its debut in 1904 at the St. Louis Worlds Fair along with its side kick, the hot dog. Both were an instant success! By 1915 the Frenchs pennant became the brands official logo, symbolizing Frenchs affiliation with baseball and American celebration.
Throughout the years consumers have professed their lifelong love of Americas number one mustard. For many Americans, Frenchs mustard IS Americana. Its all about baseball, hot dogs, family and fun, says Elliot Penner, president of Frenchs mustard.
[ . . . ]
Oh, leave it alone, folks. This latent Francophobia is getting more disturbing daily.
(via This Modern World)
Follow the money
From the music activists over at BLiP recordings in the UK comes a list of entertainment companies and their defense industry connections. (via NTK)
Apparently EMI is clean, or better at hiding their connections than the other companies...
The grand old flag
Like all married couples, Miz Becky and I agree on some things and disagree on others. We don't have identical views on the world, and that's what keeps our discussions interesting.
A surprising and particularly strong point of unity, however, is that we're both major sticklers for flag ettiquette. Seeing someone (as we did today) with two flags attached to the back of their SUV, hanging on the ground, really gets our goat.
The crux of the biscuit is this: If you're feeling patriotic, and you're flying the flag to show how patriotic you feel... then TREAT THE DAMN FLAG WITH RESPECT. Otherwise it's a particularly annoying form of hypocrisy: I want to look patriotic, but I'm too lazy to do it properly.
(Some more cynical than I might argue that those people are therefore displaying the perfect symbol of America... but not me, no sir.)
1) Don't let the flag touch the ground. This should be an easy one. Don't hang it off the back of your SUV. Don't hang it off your balcony railing, dragging on the ground. If it touches the ground, you soil it. That's disrespectful.
2) Don't fly it at night, or in the rain, unless you've got a light on it, and it's an all-weather flag. Remember "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there"? You're supposed to be able to see it if you're flying it. It's not up there for it's health, folks.
3) The big one. When the flag is torn, soiled, faded, or otherwise "in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display", then it "should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." Yes, that's right. You don't keep flags hanging around forever, tattered and faded and pathetic. You contact your local VFW post and arrange for them to burn it at a proper, respectful ceremony.
Protest photos from Seattle
Jingoistic ice cream, kids!
With flavors like "I hate the French Vanilla" and "Nutty Environmentalist", as well as the limited edition "Iraqi Road", who could resist?
(via Tom Tomorrow)
Eve of Destruction
Dave Winer has posted an article by Scott Rosenberg on the coming war, called Eve of Destruction.
It's one of the more coherent distillations of the issues we're sitting on top of right now that I've seen.
It's particularly gratifying to see since I haven't been able to formulate a response more coherent than "gaaaaaaaaaaaah" to any of the badness happening now (whether the Bush administration's war-mongering or the recent backlash against the French -- also here).
Maybe I'll try to come up with a coherent response in the next few days. I'll have plenty of time while we're watching Iraq get bombed.