Monday, January 31, 2005

A must-see Tom Tomorrow:

If you get irritated with David Brooks, you should take a look at Tom Tomorrow's latest (subscription or ad wall).



In response to a New York Times Op-Ed about a wild and right-wing book on American history (which we commented on), some letters were printed in Monday's edition. Here is our favorite:
To the Editor:

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History" supports my contention that the real divide in this country is not blue versus red, but blue versus gray.

Larry A. Stevens
Springfield, Ill., Jan. 26, 2005
OFF TOPIC: William Rasberry seems to have woken up to the radical nature of Bush's agenda - which will be evident in the budget he will propose in the coming weeks.

Also, Kevin Drum, the Political Animal, has a good Washington Post Op-Ed on the Republican goal of eliminating Democratic filibusters which, in the Drum style, presents facts in an orderly manner, followed by a solid argument. A rarity these days.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Going smoothly?

If the insurgents want to disrupt the elections in Iraq, then they presumably would stage any big attacks in the early part of the day. That does not appear to be happening as of now. So it looks like the success of the elections will boil down to turnout and the election results themselves.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Glenn Reynolds / Instapundit fact you should never forget:

Max Sawicky over at Max Speak, is justifiably outraged at a recent post by Glenn Reynolds. The Political Animal, Kevin Drum, agrees with Max ("Amen, brother").

Max cites part of Reynold's post, where the professor discusses Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and Michael Moore, as part of a general indictment of Democrats.

But in our view, the really offensive part of Reynold's post goes unmentioned. You should know what it is.

BACKGROUND: After the Al-Qaeda attack on September 11, a University of Colorado professor wrote an essay that upset practically everybody. He was Ward Churchill, Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of American Indian Studies, a Native American activist who is still angry at the conquest of North America by Europeans, and who sees today's current events through the lens of an ongoing racial/genocidal war being waged by the West.

In Churchill's essay he made the folloingassertions :
  • The Sept. 11 attacks were in retaliation for the Iraqi children killed in a 1991 U.S. bombing raid and by economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations following the Persian Gulf War.
  • The hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 were "combat teams," not terrorists.
  • Those in the World Trade Center (WTC) were "civilians of a sort," but not innocent.
  • The 9/11 victims were "little Eichmanns" (not clear if he's referring to WTC deaths or Pentagon or both)
So that's what he said. That view is an extremely rare one, and something that virtually nobody endorses throughout the political spectrum. But here is what Reynolds has to say about Churchill: (emp add)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Various lefty readers email to say that Ward Churchill is not the authentic face of the Left.

I wish I agreed with that. But, sadly, he is its very image today.
Let us clarify Reyolds for you. Glenn Reynolds, Mr. Instapundit, claims that:
The very image of the left is someone who says the Al-Qaeda crew that attacked on 9/11 were not terrorists, that those who died in the WTC were not innocent, and victims of 9/11 were little Eichmanns.
How about that?

There are many other objectionable items in Reynold's post, but we'll stop here.

UPDATE: Okay, we won't stop. Why, at this particular time, is Reynolds making such wild charges? Remember the tribute to the 9/11 victims at the Democratic Convention last summer? If that isn't a repudiation of Ward Churchill thinking, what is?

Reynold's charge would have been more timely (if still inaccurate) in the weeks after 9/11. Why bring up this old-news and widely rejected professor from Colorado? Is Reynold's post a sign of weakness on the right vis-a-vis Iraq? Or has Instapundit gotten more wacky?


Friday, January 28, 2005

Problem solved!

In today's New York Times Op Ed, Paul Krugman discusses Bush's 'reasoning' that leads to the conclusion that blacks don't get a fair shake from Social Security: (emp add)
... Mr. Bush's remarks on African-Americans perpetuate a crude misunderstanding about what life expectancy means. It's true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years - but that doesn't mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years' worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks' low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years - not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.
Childhood death includes infant mortality. But why stop there? Last week Bush, speaking to the "March for Life" participants, said:
We are working to ... promote compassion for ... unborn babies.

[In] The America of our dreams ... every child is ... protected in law ...
Bush considers an unborn baby to be a child. A person.

If so, then life expectancy would have to be adjusted to include fetal deaths along with infant and childhood mortality. Then we can argue about Social Security with the new number - which counts persons who never attain working-age - just like Bush does with blacks.

Here is a quick back-of-the-envelope review:
  • Life expectancy at birth: 77 years (total: m + f)
  • Abortions per 1000 live births: 314
  • Adjustment to life expectancy when including aborted fetuses as children: 1000/1314 = .76
    NOTE: We do not include miscarriages (don't have the data), which would further lower life expectancy.
  • Apply this expanded definition of "persons" to the existing reckoning of life expectancy: 77 years * .76 = 58.5 years
  • Invoke the Tim Russert argument* where the overall life expectancy is what matters (not life expectancy upon reaching age 65). That means that nobody will collect any Social Security retirement, since nobody reaches age 65.
  • No money disbursed means no shortfall, worker-to-retiree ratios are irrelevant since there aren't any retirees. Etc.
  • The system is solvent!
* - "Roosevelt said eligibility 65, which was genius, because if you made it to 65, you were on Social Security for a month or two and that was it."


You gotta see this!

The United Church of Christ welcomes SpongeBob.



Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ignoring the troops helps home-front morale:

Or so says the New York Post. From their editorial about the 31 Marines that died in a helicopter crash, THEY DIED FOR FREEDOM: (excerpts, emp add)
No doubt there will be many who will attempt to make political hay of the helicopter crash — 35 Marine Corps boot-camp photos squeezed onto the cover of Time or Newsweek magazines, or crowded somewhere into The New York Times, all in an effort to undercut home-front morale wouldn't surprise.
The Bush administration doesn't like the press to publish photos of caskets. The New York Post doesn't like people to see photos of soldiers that have died in the war.

If the war in Iraq met with substantial public approval (e.g. WW2), then these images would not affect morale. This war - like so many things the administration does - is a policy that has to be lied about, or hidden, in order to carry it out.

ALSO: Can be banish the notion that opposition to policies is "political" and therefore illegitimate?


Haven't. Didn't. Wasn't.

Only loyalty matters. From the president's press conference yesterday: (emp add)
Q:   Mr. President, Dr. Rice again -- quoting your future Secretary of State, wrote in "Foreign Affairs Magazine" in 2000, outlining what a potential Bush administration foreign policy would be, talked about things like security interests, free trade pacts, confronting rogue nations, dealing with great powers like China and Russia -- but promotion of democracy and liberty around the world was not a signature element of that prescription. I'm wondering what's changed since 2000 that has made this such an important element of your foreign policy.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm the President; I set the course of this administration. I believe freedom is necessary in order to promote peace, Peter. I haven't seen the article you're referring to. I can assure you that Condi Rice agrees with me that it's necessary to promote democracy. I haven't seen the article, I didn't read the article. Obviously, it wasn't part of her job interview.


Mission Accomplished at the 10% point:

Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties

NOTE: We are aware of the Iraq civilian casualties and those of the members of the coalition, but most people pay attention to the U.S. military casualties, which is what is charted here.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Picture of Bush from today's press conference:
Refrain from the summer of 1932:
Mellon pulled the whistle,
Hoover rang the bell,
Wall Street gave the signal
And the country went to hell.



1980: (emp add)
... Carter approved an ill-conceived secret rescue mission: Operation Eagle Claw. On the night of April 24-25, 1980, as the first part of the operation, a number of C-130 transport airplanes rendezvoused with nine RH-53 helicopters at an airstrip in the Great Salt Desert of Eastern Iran, near Tabas. Two helicopters broke down in a sandstorm and a third one was damaged on landing. The mission was aborted, but as the aircraft took off again one helicopter clipped a C-130 and crashed, killing eight U.S. servicemen and injuring more than four.
2005: (emp add)
A U.S. military transport helicopter crashed during sandstorms in Iraq's western desert Wednesday, killing 31 people, all believed to be Marines, while insurgents killed five other American troops in the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the Iraq war began.
Worse than Carter. Carter paid a high price. Bush will not.


It must be a "private account" since you already have a "personal" one under the existing Social Security Insurance program:

The Bush administration is trying to get people to talk about "personal accounts" instead of "private accounts". But it turns out that "private accounts" is a better description because you already have a "personal" account. From the Social Security website, the page about your Social Security Statement: (screen shot, highlight added)
Yes, it's true that they are talking about a personal record, but the essence is that it's "personal" and not "private".

Will the SSA change this web page? Perhaps call it an "individual record" so as to keep alive the "personal" terminology Bush prefers?

Stay tuned ...


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Just the facts, please:

The New York Times has an Op-Ed that critically examines a book by Thomas Woods Jr., "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History". The book presents lots of arguments that favor an extreme right-wing view of policy. We won't go into all the issues, but thought a few facts should be presented:
In any event, the reason for this post is to combat the notion that the Civil War was not fought over slavery - something that Woods apparently claims (as do other right-wingers).

What was the Civil War all about? Was it high-minded States Rights? Was it about slavery? Or perhaps economics?

Let's turn to somebody who knows a thing or two about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln. Here is what he said in his famous Second Inaugural: (emp add)
[In 1860] One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war ...


Monday, January 24, 2005

Hubble update:

We're surprised that this news hasn't gotten more coverage (including the blogosphere). Here are some story excerpts: (emp add)
MSNBC The fight for Hubble’s life begins anew

A White House decision to cut funding for a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission and dump the observatory into a remote stretch of ocean waters at a future date is sure to incite debate in scientific, engineering and policy-making circles.


The Bush administration has cut funding for any future mission manned or robotic, to service the Hubble Space Telescope, according to anonymous sources, cited by The Washington Post.

The paper reports that NASA has [scrapped] its plans to send a robot to service the telescope so that it can focus its resources on Bush's Martian ambitions. Unnamed officials, also quoted in The Post, have confirmed that Congress will not approve funding for the mission, and that it does not appear on Bush's 2006 fiscal plans.
This is incredible. The Hubble is an instrument. This is not a contested area of research (stem cells) or public policy (global warming). Bush doesn't want to spend $1 billion to keep one of the most useful (and still promising) scientific tools.

Face it, this administration is opposed to science. Perhaps an extension of their disdain for experts of any type (who are usually called, incorrectly, 'elites').

This is a dark day for American science.


Remembering Johnny Carson:

He was best with the monologue. (From November 1991) [5meg, .wav, 8KHz, mono, 8-bit]

This file will be removed after about one week.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

One question:

In Sunday's Washington Post, Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain, we read: (excerpts, emp add)
The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad ...

The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

Military and civilian participants said in interviews that the new unit has been operating in secret for two years -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places they declined to name.

Pentagon officials said they established the Strategic Support Branch using "reprogrammed" funds, without explicit congressional authority or appropriation.
Q: What has the Strategic Support Branch learned about WMD in Iraq, and when?


Saturday, January 22, 2005


So, big speech, except that nobody is supposed to pay any attention to it.


Will Bush sink?

Recent news would have you believe that Bush is headed for big trouble. The Iraq elections might be a mess. Bush's inaugural speech was cooly received. The dollar is weak. Wall Street is sluggish. So Bush going down, right?

Not so fast. Remember the first four months of 2004?
  • David Kay saying there were no WMD
  • Bush being forced to create a commission to find out "what went wrong" about WMD/intel
  • Paul O'Neill's book, The Price of Loyalty
  • Bush's State of the Union speech considered a dud
  • Bush's National Guard service under scrutiny
  • Gasoline prices on the rise ("only" $1.66, and not as high as summertime prices, but much more than before)
  • Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies
  • The 9/11 hearings
  • Abu Ghraib exposed
  • April was the deadliest month to date with 135 U.S. casualties
  • A drifting economy
Yet Bush survived.

It's going to take a whole lot of somethin' to discombobulate this administration. We still think Iraq will be "it", but only time will tell.


Who the fuck cares? We're turning into an ignorant theocracy anyway.

From the BBC: (emp add)
Hubble rescue 'will be scrapped'

The future of the Hubble Space Telescope is in doubt after the White House refused money for a rescue plan, US media has reported.

US space agency Nasa will announce the decision in February, ending plans to send a human or a robot repairman, the Washington Post reported.

The service cost was expected to top $1bn, but has been cut from the federal budget request, sources told the paper.

For 15 years Hubble has captured some of the most profound images of space.

It was designed to be visited periodically by astronauts who would perform repairs and install new equipment.

Astronauts made servicing visits to the telescope in 1993, 1997, 1991 and 2002, with a final servicing mission - now cancelled - due for 2006.

Despite the funding cut, the telescope is not yet being shut down - just allowed to operate normally until wear and tear take their toll.

Its original mission was supposed to last 15 years, and was extended to 20 years, with a projected end date of 2010.


This is a defense?

Colbert King of the Washington Post has an essay, Why the Crass Remarks About Rice?, where he takes to task various critics of Rice (Barbara Bozer, cartoonist Pat Oliphant, et al). Critics of Rice accuse her of being a weak mouthpiece for Bush. Colbert King disagrees. In fact, he says: (emp add)
As I was leaving a Post dining room after participating in my first off-the-record session with Rice and other Post editors and reporters a couple of years ago, it struck me that Rice could be where Bush gets [his foreign policy doctrine] from. Subsequent meetings only have reinforced that supposition. Rice's notions of preemption, unilateralism and America's responsibilities as the dominant power in the world are not hand-me-downs from Bush. They strike me as very much her own.
First things first. Rice appears to be a person not guiding the ship of state because everything we've learned indicates that the real power is with Rumsfeld and Cheney. Rice did not act to rebuff the bogus intel from the Office of Special Plans (and elsewhere). So the charge that Rice is an administration cheerleader is a reasonable one.

Second, since when did being an architect of preemption become a good thing?


Friday, January 21, 2005

Did you ever think you'd see this?

Look at the title of Noonan's essay on Bush's inaugural speech (from the main page of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal):


Data point:

William Safire applauds Bush's inaugural speech. Nothing new there. But we were surprised to read this:
On his way out of the first Cabinet meeting after his re-election, President Bush gave his longtime chief speechwriter the theme for the second Inaugural Address: "I want this to be the freedom speech."

In the next month, the writer, Michael Gerson, had a heart attack.
How old is Gerson? Turns out, 39 or 40. That's pretty young. Cheney had a heart attack at an early age. How common is that?


Thursday, January 20, 2005


... we have lit a fire ...
It warms those who feel its
burns those who fight its progress,
and one day this
untamed fire of freedom
will reach the darkest corners of our world.


Got him!

One of our hobbies is finding instances where David Broder of the Washington Post reveals his political inclinations. Most of the time he writes in a bland manner, citing Conventional Wisdom, or framing Republican mischief within a "let's hope we'll all be better behaved in the future" approach.

But in his OpEd column today, he makes it pretty sure he likes Bush. Look at one line: (emp add)
Supporters and critics can agree that the nation is fortunate that its leader is a man prepared to cope with radically changed circumstances, a person of fixed principles but not one wedded to policies of the past.
That statement is meaningless. "Not wedded to policies of the past" is a virtue or a vice, depending on which policies you are talking about. It's one thing to not be wedded to the male-only suffrage policy of the past. It's another not to be wedded to the "innocent until proven guilty" policy of the past. Oh, and we're supposed to be fortunate to have GWB in the White House? Please.

But then Broder really gets going with this passage: (emp add)
Bush ... boldly (!) set out to recast many fundamental institutions and doctrines. At home, he engineered far-reaching changes in the scale and distribution of taxes, redefined the relationship of the federal government to local schools, ...

Policies for the environment, law enforcement, regulation of business and a dozen other fields were turned around.
Let us translate:
  • Bush changed the tax code
  • Bush changed something about the school system
  • Bush changed environmental policy
  • Bush changed regulation of business
  • Bush changed other stuff
Broder is touting Bush for merely changing things, but without the courage to say how they were changed (in the instances cited here, elsewhere, in a few cases he describes the nature of the change).

What does it say when a leading pundit heaps praise on Bush without going into the specifics?


Not one effin' dime:
USA Today: On Jan. 20, war protest will turn on a 'Dime'
It's called "Not One Damn Dime Day," and it means just that. Proponents urge Americans not to spend any money on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, to protest President Bush's policies in Iraq and the estimated $30 million to $40 million cost of the inauguration.

You might already have received the plea in your morning e-mails. If so, it probably was sent to you by friends or family, because the e-mail encourages everyone to share the contents with as many people as possible. And people have.

The message is simple: "Those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending."

But no one seems to know who fired off that initial e-mail. Not even retired PBS host Bill Moyers, whose name was attached to some of the missives.

Despite his well-known liberal leanings, "I wouldn't sign a petition if it was one asking Jesus to come back," Moyers says. "It's just not something journalists should do."

The creators of, Laura Carmen Arena and Jesse Gordon of Cambridge, Mass., don't have a clue who wrote the message either. They received it in their inbox like everyone else.
NOTE: The website is (there is another site, with a different agenda.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Everybody's doing it:

So we will too.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Good one:

From the (NYTimes) Confirmation Hearing of Condoleeza Rice transcript: (emp add)
U.S. SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): ... As the nominee for secretary of state, you must answer to the American people and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve. So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, on July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill, if you continue to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war. In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote: It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year. So that's what you said to the American people on television: Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year.

Well, that wasn't true. Because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said? President Bush at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center: If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little longer than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later, you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when, in fact, the president said it.

And here's the real kicker: On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear programs; that left unchecked he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year. So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people. ...


U.S. SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN, CHAIRMAN): Yes. Let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement, that's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes (inaudible) time.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NOMINATED TO BE SECRETARY OF STATE: RICE: Senator, I am more than aware of the stakes that we face in Iraq, and I was more than aware of the stakes of going to war in Iraq. I mourn the dead and honor their service. Because we have asked American men and women in uniform to do the hardest thing, which is to go and defend freedom and to give others an opportunity to build a free society which will make us safer. Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said, without impugning my credibility or my integrity. The fact is that we did face a very difficult intelligence challenge in trying to understand what Saddam Hussein had in terms of weapons of mass destruction. ...
Then this: (emp add)
RICE: Senator Boxer, we went to war, not because of aluminum tubes. We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who threatened his neighbors, who threatened our interests, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators and it was high time to get rid of him.
UPDATE: Two things. First, we read the transcript and thought we found the Boxer/Rice exchange worthy of bringing to our reader's attention. But it turns out that it was one of the highlights of news reports later that evening. So our 'scoop' wasn't. Also, even though we found an instance (cited above) where Rice said the reason for going to war was WMD, apparently at other times in her testimony she said something to the effect that there were reasons other than WMD which justified going to war. So perhaps Rice was trying to have her cake and eat it too.

As to the Rice testimony, we reccomend a Tom Oliphant cartoon on the subject.


... he may well turn ...

Taking a break from reporting events in Iraq, Juan Cole gives us some analysis. Most recently, about Bush and his "Accountability Moment". Teaser excerpt:
If Bush doesn't find a way to resolve the Iraq mess, and if he is so foolhardy as to pursue direct confrontation with Syria and Iran that proves just as disastrous, he may well turn the US public decisively against the Republican Party for decades, as the party of adventure, war and ruin.


Monday, January 17, 2005

What a moron:

On Monday evening, all three networks had a correspondent interview Bush for a few minutes. We watched all of them and in every instance, Bush came off as a fool. Here, for instance, is what Bush said to John Roberts of CBS news:
ON THE IRAQ VOTE: "Obviously we want everybody to vote and there are some who aren't gonna vote because they're afraid for their lives, but they want to vote and that's important..."
Yeah, everything is okay except for the fact that people are scared shitless. By Bush's standard, life was good in Stalin's USSR. Citizens there would be scared of speaking out, but they'd want to, and "that's important."
ON BUSH'S LEGACY: How do you want your presidency to be recognized in the history books? "Oh, John, ya know, first of all I don't think I'll be around to really see the history," Mr. Bush said.
Spoken like an End Timer!

That was followed by a weak statement by Bush that his legacy is that he "used the great influence of America to spread freedom at home and abroad."

Clue us in, what freedom are we spreading at home?

Meanwhile, over at ABC, we watched Terry Moran ask Bush about the credibility of the U.S. if in the future a case had to be made that such-and-such is a threat. He replied (no transcript avail now) by saying that Saddam was a bad man - or words to that effect. This required Moran to say that he was asking about the future, and then Bush offered up a standard reply.

Finally, on NBC, Dick Gregory had some time with the president.
ON THE IRAQ VOTE: "...when it happens America will be more secure for the long run."
We'll see about that.

This was the Bush we've come to know in the rare press conferences he has: Extremely lightweight. The question in our mind is this, "What are people like David Gergen, Paul O'Neill, and yes, even Tim Russert, thinking when they watch this guy?" Bush is about as much on the ball as a first-level manager. Maybe they don't worry because they assume that everything is under the control of Cheney and Rumsfeld, and that Bush is strictly a salesman.

Still, it's cause for concern when you've got somebody as dim as Bush in the White House.


Today's fun fact:

You've probably all heard about Sy Hersh's latest article in the New Yorker. The one about the Pentagon planning for a strike at Iran's nuclear facilities, and possibly more (general military infrastructure). The method? "commando operations".

There's all sorts of good stuff in the article, like letting Pakistan off the hook for A. Q. Khan's nuclear exports. But the thing that caught our eye was this item, near the end of the report:
Rumsfeld and two of his key deputies, Stephen Cambone, the Under-secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, will be part of the chain of command for the new commando operations.
Boykin, the "My god is bigger than his god" general.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

A. M.

In the news: The voters ratified his Iraq policy, Bush says
President George W. Bush has said that his re-election in November ratified the correctness of his approach in Iraq and provided an "accountability moment" for those behind flawed judgments regarding the war there.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Abraham W. Bush:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

But that was in the past. Today I want to talk about a crisis that will hit this nation forty years in the future.

It will be 1903 and our country will be faced with enormous problems.

The United States will have a much bigger population, spread widely throughout the land. Communications will be restricted to Morse Code over wire, because it's impossible to transmit intelligible speech and there is no way to send signals through the air. Limited contact between distant, or hard to reach, parts of the country will isolate them from each other, leading to division.

Not only that, but in order to have a unified country, we must have the ability to travel long distances quickly. That means we'd have to be able to fly! We can only do that with balloons, but they aren't a solution. You'd have to have a fast, heavier-than-air machine, which surely won't be around in 1903 - if ever.

As for ground transportation, we will have to depend on the railroads, but that has its limitations. And the only other way of getting around by machine will be with cumbersome steam-powered vehicles, since there is no way a compact, lightweight, internal-combustion machine can work. Another reason we will grow apart as a nation.

In addition, our population will be suffering from epidemics, weakening our bodies, and the body politic. We won't have the faintest idea what causes tuberculosis or cholera and therefore will be unable to do anything about it. The result will be social discord.

Now that I've made the case for a national crisis by 1903, I hope you all joing me in my proposed solution. I say we should give up hope on the progress of mankind. Instead, we should retreat into our own personal spheres - facilitated by privatizing every government asset and every government program. For you see, there is no possible way that we as a people, nation, or state can ever solve the problems that will face us forty years hence.


Really ugly:

Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote an OpEd in today's Washington Post. The topic? Why liberals oppose Gonzales for Attorney General.

It's the worst form of ethnic politics we've seen in a long time.

First of all, Navarrette "reverses the charges" as it were. Gonzales has been accused of being a force allowing the torture of prisoners. But in the OpEd, it's the Democrats and liberals who are the bully boys:
  • ... were hoping that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee would treat Gonzales like a punching bag ...
  • But in the end they pulled as many punches as they threw.
  • ... left-leaning organizations ... [have urged] Senate Democrats to "scrutinize" (read, trash) the Gonzales nomination.
Then, Navarrette dismisses the abetting torture charges with:
  • [Gonzales' actions] hardly makes Gonzales responsible for everything that occurred
  • ... the final say about what would be permissible in interrogating prisoners was the president's alone.
  • ... I'm not convinced that any of this had much to do with why the goons on the night shift at Abu Ghraib staged their horrific frat party.
That last item is straight out of the Republican's talking points. Here is what David Brooks said a week ago on the News Hour:
Abu Ghraib, those people were not interrogating anybody. They were just torturing people. That was just sadism. That wasn't part of any interrogation process. It was the middle of the night.
You know, at night, when all senior officers are tucked in bed, unaware of the goings on.

Navarrette continues his essay with a bald-faced lie:
... liberals ... are only interested in minorities' success if they can claim the credit.
Finally, if that isn't enough, Navarette concludes with a threat:
The message ... offered up on behalf of a large portion of the Latino community [is]: "Hurt him, and we'll hurt you."
A threat directed towards "punching-bag-friendly" liberals not to "hurt" Latinos.



Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Broke ranks:

We present key items from a report, Top Democrat slams Bush after inspectors find no WMD in Iraq: (emp add)
"After a search 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," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.


Another senior Democrat in Congress, Joe Lieberman, broke ranks with Pelosi, saying that even though no WMD were found in Iraq, the invasion of Iraq was justified.

"The fact that we didn't discover large stocks of weapons of mass destruction doesn't mean that Saddam Hussein didn't have them," the Connecticut Senator told the Fox television network.

...A Republican senator, Johnny Isakson, appearing with Lieberman on Fox, agreed that the Bush administration made the right decision in overthrowing Saddam, even without hard evidence of WMD.
We all to often forget it, but four years ago Lieberman was the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate. Not just any Democratic politician. For him to repeat the thinnist of logical excuses, the kind that Safire regularly peddles, is truly amazing.

Oh, and nice touch of appearing on Republican media (Fox). Bush is surely pleased. "There's bipartisan agreement on the WMD issue," is what the president can now say. And major-league bipartisanship. We're talking VP candidate in 2000.


Different kind, different color:

In reaction to a Yahoo story, Bush Talks of Crisis to Sell U.S. Retirement Plan, someone said:
Now we have SOCIAL SECURITY alerts instead of TERROR alerts.

This is one GREEN however, cause all bush's crooked banker pals are gonna make money hand over fist ...


Incredible if true:

Several webloggers have commented on or linked to an American Prospect report on Britain's attempt to privatize old-age pensions back in 1984. We thought the article was interesting, but this excerpt got us wondering: (emp add)
For all the fanfare that surrounds the Bush administration’s efforts to present a bold new idea on pension reform, the truth is that it is not new at all. In fact, the proposal looks suspiciously like the plan set in train during Thatcher’s ?rst term in 1979 and which has since led Britain to the brink of a crisis. Since then, the nation’s basic pension, which is paid for out of tax receipts, has shrunk dramatically. The United Kingdom has the stingiest state pension program of any G8 nation ...
Any G8 nation? Here is the list of G8 nations:
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
More "stingy" than Russia's? It's not clear what this means. Later in the report, we read:
the basic state pension in the United Kingdom ... is today lower than that in all but four other European countries: Portugal, Greece, Belgium, and Ireland.
Is Russia considered part of Europe? Generally, no. So it looks as if we can conclude from the report that the state pension in the United Kingdom is lower than that in Russia. (Russis is nowhere mentioned explicitly in the article.)

Now there are other factors in play here: Private (employer supplied) pensions; the private accounts themselves. So it's hard to say for sure what a retiree in the United Kingdom is getting (compared to a counterpart in Russia). But still, comparing state pensions alone, it's remarkable that Russia's is better than the UK's. (If true. We still find it hard to believe.)


Monday, January 10, 2005

Explain this:

We went to Rush Limbaugh's website to see what he's up to. Turns out it's the usual stuff: defending Gonzales, attacking Democrats, etc.

But there was a small image for a link to his Limbaugh Letter subscribe page. Take a look: (2x orig)
It reminded us of 1940's Coca-Cola ads in winter-month editions of National Geographic. It's cold outside, but the family is cozy indoors and looking out at something. Perhaps something inspirational. And the pose of Limbaugh is strange, like he's in rapture with the Lord - who in this case is George Bush.

And is Bush winking at Rush?



Sunday, January 09, 2005

Yahoo message board post:

U.S. Considers Elite Hit-Squads for Iraq -Report - 01-08-2005
The Pentagon is debating whether to set up elite hit-squads to target leaders of the Iraq insurgency in a new strategy based on tactics used against leftist guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago, Newsweek magazine reported on Saturday.

Recommend this Post Ignore this User  | Email this Posting | Report Abuse
Can we do the same to Liberals?
consarebetter (98/M/Heartland,USA)
01/09/05 05:07 am
Msg: 268 of 358
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Hunt the Liberals down.
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Because of Bush's tax cuts:

The Washington Post has an editorial where they advocate reducing benefits for Social Security recipients. What struck us as bizarre was this passage: (emp add)
Some argue that this isn't a problem. Upping past salaries allows pensioners to share in the general rise in prosperity; besides, if Social Security taxes were raised on salaries above the current cutoff of $90,000 a year, the growth in benefits would be affordable. But given that future tax increases are inevitable to pay for soaring medical costs and for the deficits brought on by Mr. Bush and the Republican Congress, it's not responsible to fix Social Security's funding shortfall exclusively by raising taxes.
So, why doesn't the Post advocate undoing the tax cuts that resulted in "the deficits brought on by Mr. Bush"?

Then there was this gem: (emp add)
If workers aren't happy with a pension that, while generous in relation to the living standards of their younger years, feels stingy in relation to their earnings immediately before retirement, they can, if not in the lower brackets, save privately to supplement their Social Security benefit; if healthy, they also can postpone retirement.
In other words, if you are in the lower tax brackets (brackets !) or unhealthy, then you're in big trouble.

And what's this about healthy people postponing retirement? That's an evasion. People deserve retirement. Taking the Post's logic another step, we could argue:
  • If you own a car, you could sell it for food and rent.
  • If you like eating cat food, then lower benefits won't be a problem.
  • If you've got a spare kidney, you could trade that for cash.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

George Will wants to mess with your head:

In an OpEd entertaingly titled, Let's Not Count on Projections, George Will tries to make the case for privatization of Social Security. After obligatory praise for Bush ("bold"), disdain for Democrats, along with the inevitable Churchill reference, Will makes his case.

Since we can't know the future, any claims that the Social Security program is not in trouble are suspect: (excerpts, emp add)
  • [Democrats] may be right but cannot know that they are ...
  • The size of the solvency problem is unknowable.
  • [There is] a familiar form of political fiction, the 10-year economic projection.
  • ... we cannot ... know the future GDP
  • [We cannot know] America's future birth and immigration rates...
  • Surely the beginning of wisdom is to begin not with such speculations ...
Well now. George Will is saying that it's pretty murky out there. Best not predict anything. But then he does something strange. In an effort to make the case for investing in stocks, he makes some forward projections of his own:
  • In no 15-year period in the past eight decades has the growth of stocks ever been negative;
  • in no 20-year period has the average growth been less than 3 percent ...
You see, non-Republican projections are to be ignored, but Republican projections are okay.

Bonus "Cat out of the bag" element: In a sign that privatizers are getting desperate, Will concludes by making the case for Bush's plan a moral one - not financial. Even if the existing plan is in reasonable shape, it should be abandoned. To wit: (emp add)
[Bush believes] believes such reform would be conducive to civic virtue, as conservatives understand that -- individualism, self-reliance, limited government.
Privatization - good for civic virtue!

Will praises "individualism" and "self-reliance"; he doesn't like pooling of risk. So much for insurance of any type.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Is this what he means?

Bush, 4 November 2004
Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style.
Today, 7 January 2005
The Bush administration paid a prominent commentator to promote the No Child Left Behind schools law to fellow blacks and to give the education secretary media time, records show. A company run by Armstrong Williams, the syndicated commentator, was paid $240,000 by the Education Department.


In the footsteps of his master:

One of Slate's Bushisms
14 June 2001 - "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." - Gothenburg, Sweden
Dick Morris in a New York Post essay, responding to a recent NYTime's Op-Ed by Kristof on US charity
07 January 2005 - By opening our markets to Third World trade more than any other nation, we create far, far more wealth in poor countries than all the governmental foreign aid in the world put together.     [...]     Eventually, we plan to open our markets to imports from all of South America. We even passed a special exemption from our import quotas for textiles from Africa to foster jobs in that beleaguered nation.
In the event that the editors at the New York Post correct this passage, we've captured a screenshot of the sentence.


What more do you need?

Let's review. The President has chosen, and Congress is about to approve, a man for the position of Attorney General, who:
  • Approved the use of torture. (For a large number of people over a long period of time.)
  • Argues that the President is above the law.
  • Doesn't believe in the Constitutional rights of the citizen. (Habeas Corpus, right to council, speedy trial, due process.)
Four years ago we did not like the selection of Ashcroft for AG, but he at least operated within limits. Gonzales - and others like him still in the White House - is for an unrestrained executive that can do anything it wants. Check your history books for similar instances (here and abroad) and see what it all adds up to.

We have fascism operating within what the CIA calls, a constitution-based federal republic with a strong democratic tradition.

For more on this general topic, we suggest a visit to Orincus, especially this recent post.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

For the record:

We don't like doing this, but what's on Limbaugh's webpage must be noted: (excerpts, emp add)
Out of Power Democrat Senators Side with Terrorist Murderers Against Gonzales, Bush

... the Democrats in the Senate, in order to defeat Bush's attorney general nominee are going to take the position that those who blew up the World Trade Center in '93, those who blew up the World Trade Center in 2001, those who have routinely committed acts of torture against Americans at home and abroad including the U.S. are to be treated with kitchenettes, dormitories, canteens and advance pay as Geneva Convention prisoners of war even as they plot further acts of murder against U.S. citizens. That is the position the Democrats in the Senate are going to take. They are going to take the side of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners who they are going to I guess demand have lawyers, be able to have their rights read to them as in Miranda, all the while American soldiers are being kidnapped, tortured, and butchered.

The thing that we all need to ask, and it's a serious point here: "What is it about liberalism that compels liberals to come to the defense of mass murderers, whether they're home grown murderers or terrorists?" This is a very sick and perverse mentality.

The same people who are beheading civilians in Iraq, who are kidnapping and capturing American prisoners and butchering them, the same people, are going to be defended against the United States by Democrats in the Senate ...

We're conducting a war on terror -- finally. [...] The left in this country have decided that their purpose is to undermine that effort, wherever it takes place: Iraq, Afghanistan, or the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales.

... we'll just see come this Thursday when ... Democrats in the Senate start after the destruction of Alberto Gonzales, as they take up the defense of prisoners who are Al-Qaeda and Taliban members, who butcher Americans, kill Americans, and plot to do it again, right on our own soil.
That was yesterday. Today, we heard Bill O'Reilly talk about the kind of torture he would inflict (while taking a leisurly dinner and other recreations).

Yup. Fascism is here.


Repeat post:

This got buried under subsequent posts these last few days. Here it is again.
Democratic Veteran on the air:

There is an Internet show "Subject to Discussion" that is based in Las Vegas. Democratic Veteran, a favorite blogger of ours, is scheduled to appear on Wednesday the 5th of January at 11PM eastern. To listen, go to and click on the "live events" button.


Vox Populi:

We took a look at many posts under a Yahoo story about Bush's proposal to change Social Security, White House Eyes Social Security Accounts. Here are some of our favorites, the last one being the most heartfelt: (as posted, with spelling and other errors)
  • Will money be guaranteed? If it is guaranteed I don't care what the govt does with it. If it isn't then it's a money grabbing sham by bush.
  • Bush won't be happy 'till Granny is living in a doorway and scrounging through Dumpsters for food.

    61 million Americans are STUPID and get what they deserve. However, they are taking the rest of us down with them
  • Republican Logis is so Bizarre
    Repub Leadership: You Social Security rate of return is a pittance. It's only 1%. (a lie, BTW)

    Repub Ditto-Monkey: I believe you, and I am upset.

    Repub Leadership: So we will cut your promised benefits by 40%, okay?

    Repub Ditto-Monkey: Yes sir.
  • What a Shell Game! Repubs trained their sheep to say that Social Security is a "Ponzi Scheme." It's not, but that's what Repubs were trained to say.

    And now Repubs are saying, "You know all that extra money you paid over the past twenty years to make SS solvent into the future? We gave it to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts, and we can't raise taxes on the wealthy to redeem the money they borrowed, so we'll have to cut your benefits.

    What a shell game.
  • Bush payoff to Wallst. sucker play 2U I did the research. This is the best gov't program where no one takes advantage. Not the gov't, or its employees, not suede shoe hustlers on Wallst, not "privatizers" who hope to get their hands on the loot. Right now, they can't and that's the problem, isn't it? The biggest fund in the world is hard to resist. Wake up! You and I are being sacked by our own ignorance and the lack of integrity repeatedly demonstrated by this gang of thieves and liars in the White House.
  • If You Want This, Fine But don't come crawling back to those of us who told you better, begging for a tax subsidized bailout after the Republican con you like they did with the Savings and Loan Debacle of the late 80's ...
  • 1ST STEPS OF GOP GOAL TO END SS The more that people are set up to be responsible for their own retirement, the more quickly the GOP can faze out SS entirely. It will take place over years but eventually will be fazed out completely, however individuals and employers will still have to make payments. What will be missing will the govt.'s involvement. I think that's sad because you just know some people will mishandle their individual funded accounts and become homeless in old age.
  • What's stopping the GOV from Investing SS money in social security now? A Law, why congress can change that. Why not benefit everyone if putting money in the stock market is going to be such a windfall?
  • LET'S PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING Why not just close the doors of the White House and say, "Hey folks you are on your own. No govt. programs whatsoever and no taxes either". We can all just go back to fighting each other for what we can get, and the losers will die on the streets. What will also happen is there won't be any jackasses running this country. I like that part the best and would be willing to take my chances without their help just to see them lose their power over us.
  • Privatize Auto Insurance What's your rate of return on your Auto insurance?

    Your family's rate of return?

    The nation's average rate of return?

    Yeah people I hear ya! Why don't we simply skip purchasing auto insurance and just start a private savings account in case of an accident? Just think of all that money making money and the best part is we can cash in when we get to old to drive!

    Say to really get the ball rollin let's privitize fire insurance! Your house burns down NO PROBLEM you have your own private account! Why we can have our own unemployment, sick days, vacations and even buy our very own tax cuts!

    Sounds too good to be true? Well for 2 trillion dollars I might give you the details.
  • SS a phony crisis George Bush is like a cushion in that he bears the imprint of whoever just sat on him. In this case he has the ass print of Grover Norquist. If Bush is in to do some fiscal crusadering he might want to consider Medicare, his perscription drug plan, and the now 7.500,000,000,000 deficit. Social Security is backed by a trust fund that is solvent for many years to come. Cons like to point out that the trust fund is full of IOU's but this is based on the idea that Government bonds are IOU's They are not and the Chinese hold about 617 billion worth and the Japanese about 800 billion. If bonds are bad then this whole country is in big trouble way beyond anything in Social Security. Social Security is more efficiently run by the public sector as administration takes up about 1% of it. There is no way the private sector is going to work for that low a commision. To privatize it would be far more expensive (between 1 and 2 trillion) than to decrease benefits over the years to come or maintain current rates . Privatizing it is an asinine idea in light of the other dangers facing this economy ; an idea brought to you by the guy who brought you Arbusto Energy and other failed business, no chold left behind and the Iraq war
  • Why is the such a priority for Bush? We know that Bush is totally committed to the business community and is very loyal to his friends there.

    Having more private accounts in social security will benefit investment bankers, big brokerage houses, and other big supporters of Bush.

    Anyone who thinks that Bush is pushing this as hard as he is because he wants to benefit the American people just doesn't know Bush. He is totally corporate. Period.
  • Get educated. Ask any SS recipient Ask your ma, ask your pa. Ask grandma, grandpa or that disabled person down the block. They will tell you how important this last vestige of FDR is. Paid everything expected of it since 1937. So now we have the guy who told us we had to fight Iraq becuz' it was a threat, lying thru his teeth, let's face it, what could Iraq do with overflights of 2/3 of his country, beaten to a pulp in 1991 by half the world and sanctioned for 12 years do to us? So, now, they cry "Wolf" again, don't be fooled. Educated yourself in the library. Find out just how good this is. That WallSt. will tear it apart even if it were intended to do any good which it isn't. Why do I say that? Because you can't help a program by defunding it. That is what these jerks are telling you to do. And why? Because it pays off the wall st. campaign contributors, gives them a chance to rip it off. They can't do that now, can they? As far as these jerk rulers are concerned, they have plenty of $$ they've ripped off to be benefitted by dumping SS in the stock market, bound to increase its value, but not for the little guys. We are all being sacked, don't let them do it by going along. Read up and discuss with those who get it. They can't protect anyone once they start taking from it before retirement or disability. Wake up!
  • ATTENTION YAHOO POSTERS! The time you spend here, writing cutsey little snide remarks to impress one another is WASTED!

    Put half an hour into writing a "too the point" note to your Congressman!!

    That will be far more productive, for everyone!! And, it is the only way for us to reclaim OUR GOVERNMENT.

    In case any of you have forgotten the fact...THIS IS OUR COUNTRY, AND OUR GOVERNMENT that rules and acts in OUR NAME! If you don't like the actions they take or propose to take...the stop them from doing it!
  • Sucker Punch to Soc. Sec.. and you. Yeah, and I can back it up. I researched the issue. Soc. Sec. can pay to 2042 just as it is programmed to. CBO sez' to 2052. THE GOP never liked it, smacks of socialism. Guess they don't like insurance either. Both Soc. Sec. and insurance pay when a contingency occurs. In insurance a loss must occur. In Soc. Sec. you retire or are disabled. The money you pay in stays in the pool to earn interest. Right now, the fund has over $1.7 trillion. The GOP sez' yeah but that's in IOU's. So, are they saying they won't pay their own IOU's. Of course not. Unless you let them by showing enough public sentiment in their favor to allow their congressmen to vote for it and still keep their seats. They have the votes, but Congress is worried they will lose their seats. There are now over 47 million Americans receiving social security. It hasn't missed a payment since 1937 complete with cost of living increases built in. Only Medicare has a problem. But any problem can be easily remedied by increasing the taxable income cap from $87,000 to say, 92,000. There is no crisis at present or for another 30+ years. What do the GOP get? Happy campaign supporters from the wall street community who will get their hands on the largest fund in the world. They have been laying plans for this for years and it has nothing to do with a "crisis." Just like they sold Iraq to unknowing Americans they hope to sell this. To allow Americans to take their contributions out before the contingency will hurt everyone, and cause unjustified suffering particularly in the middle to lower classes. That is evil. 42% of retirees depend 100% upon Soc. Sec. for retirement. Listen to on web, turn off the cablelies, no ads, real news, not smear, propaganda and lying. Wake up! We are all being sacked. If GOP wanted to help Soc. Sec. all they had to do was move some of that surplus over. Or forgo the "war" and occupation. Wake up! We are all being sacked!
  • W Hand Is In Your Pocket Has been all along, but this one makes it official.
  • THEIVERY Simply put, the President is stealing the birthright of all working Americans.

    Thank you Red State dimwits who support this criminal without even stopping to think he's playing you for a fool.
  • ROBBIN' BUSH STEALS FROM POOR TO GIVE TO THE RICH! Just think back to his tax breaks...which he insists to have made permanent. Personally, my piddly $300 didn't amount to f'ing hill of beans!!

    Get your goddamned hands out of the Soc Sec trust fund, ALL YOU lying, thieving, creeps in Congress...and simply put, there won't BE a problem with Soc Sec!

    But the truth is, Bush is not interested in "saving Soc Sec"... He really wants to bankrupt the system, to save more dollars for his "base"...the wealthiest top 2% of this country...on the bogus assumption that if they get this additional funding, that they will create "more jobs".

    Bush is BOGUS! And his policies are TRASH!
    And anyone that believes for one moment that he has the best interest of the American middle class at heart, is deluded beyond redemption!

NOTE: A couple of posts above were by the same person (but we lost track of which and by who).

Clearly, people are alarmed. While reading Yahoo posts isn't a perfect measure of the zeitgeist, it sure looks as if raw emotion is being unleashed. For some, Social Security is all that they have (retiree or disabled) and the notion of losing it (or even a portion thereof) is terrifying. If the Democrats don't defend this program, they will have thrown away any claim to care about the average citizen.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005


A number of webloggers have commented on mega-libertarian Lew Rockwell's essay The Reality of Red-State Fascism, and a related essay by conservative and occasional contributer Paul Craig Roberts. We've been extremely hesitant to use the term "fascist" to describe the current political atmosphere. Perhaps we're waiting for the Silver Shirts to march down the street before declaring that it's arrived.

In any event, we found the following points made by Rockwell and Roberts thought provoking:
  • ... the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.
  • It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state.
  • Along with this goes a kind of worship of the presidency ...
  • It doesn't sympathize with the downtrodden, labor, or the poor.
  • It is for all the core institutions of bourgeois life in America: family, faith, and flag.
  • [It] adores the head of state as a godlike figure who knows better than anyone else what the country and world's needs, and has a special connection to the Creator ...
  • In the ranks of the new conservatives ... I see and experience much hate.
  • ... self-professed conservatives ... literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.
  • The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America.
  • This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits of no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules.
  • [Back in the 1930's, the Brownshits] were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction.
A bit overheated, perhaps, but interesting coming from a libertarian/old-style-conservative viewpoint.

What caught our eye was the last item about the Brownshirts worshiping "a man of no known distinction". Think about the current occupant of the White House. Think also about the endless attacks against an undefined "elite". Is there something about Fascism that, as part of it's populist component, demands that the leader be nothing special? (For all the talk of Hitler being a genius, he wasn't. He was a bully with oratorical skills. If you read his Table Talk and other comments, he comes off as boring and unimpressive.)

To review: gung-ho support of the military; hate; worship of the leader; family, faith, and flag; no sympathy with the downtrodden; disdain for knowledge.

Looks like we are getting very close to declaring fascism an active, and significant, element of today's politics.

A final note about hate. It's one thing to be a quiet hater - there is a (slim) chance for dialogue. But look at the behavior of top-flight haters like O'Reilly and Hannity and Limbaugh. They shout and stomp (and occasionally walk out) as part of their act. It's bullying-hate we're witnessing. Totalitarianism on the set. Totalitariansim in the radio booth. Force, not facts, rule these domains.


Isolation of the gene pool:

Yup, that's the logo for Conservative Match. And they've got an endorsemant/message for women:
"...despite the liberal lads you've been dating, there is hope out there."
—Rush Limbaugh
Is that really the most appropriate person to use? Limbaugh has a pretty checkered record when it comes to romance.

On their Preview page(s), they have a sample account along with other goodies like a catch-all News and Announcements. Click on that, and you get this charming story:
A Republican and a Democrat were walking down the street when they came to a homeless person. The Republican gave the homeless person his business card and told him to come to his business for a job. He then took twenty dollars out of his pocket and gave it to the homeless person.

The Democrat was very impressed, and when they came to another homeless person, he decided to help.

He walked over to the homeless person and gave him directions to the welfare office. He then reached into the Republican's pocket and got out twenty dollars. He kept 15 for administrative fees and gave the homeless person five. Now you understand the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
Wow. That's extremely clever!


Monday, January 03, 2005

Operation "Tin Cup"

Elder Bush, Clinton to Lead Relief Effort (excerpts, emp add)
"In the coming days, Presidents Clinton and Bush will ask Americans to donate directly to reliable charities already providing help to tsunami victims," Bush said. "I've asked the former presidents to solicit contributions both large and small."

The president urged Americans to give money instead of other items. "Cash donations are most useful," he said.

Bush himself has not yet made a contribution to the relief effort, but plans to give an unspecified amount, McClellan said. The president did not mention his own plans for giving in his remarks.
If you watched the announcement, Bush left with the body language of somebody who was not fully engaged in the situation. We suspect that's partly apathy, and partly the result of growing strain due to Iraq.

UPDATE: We liked this Yahoo message board post in response to the story:

If things work well he credits his daddy. if something screws up, he blames Clinton.

Well done Karl Rove. Once again you display what an evil genius you are.


Decline over time:




We found this morning's editorial in the Washington Post about Bush resubmitting 20 judicial nominees to be on point. Here are excerpts: (emp add)
IT WOULDN'T HAVE been hard for President Bush to set a new tone in judicial nominations. A little magnanimity and some understanding of the wrongs the president's own side has committed ... could have gone a long way.

Since taking office, though, Mr. Bush has behaved in a way that makes it harder for Democratic senators to act responsibly. He has largely failed to acknowledge their legitimate grievances about how a Republican-controlled Senate treated President Bill Clinton's nominees for six years. Instead, he bullheadedly sought to fill appeals court judgeships left vacant because of the recalcitrance of his own party, and he did so with scant consultation. What's more, he sometimes rubbed salt in the wound by nominating people to those seats who have staked out highly controversial and provocative ground, thereby apparently rewarding the misbehavior of his own party.

He might have troubled himself to offer a single conciliatory word. Instead, the White House simply announced that he would renominate 20 judicial candidates who did not receive votes: "The Senate has a constitutional obligation to vote up or down on a president's judicial nominees, and the president looks forward to working with the new Senate to ensure a well-functioning and independent judiciary."

The childish message to Senate Democrats could hardly be clearer: I dare you to try filibustering them again.

Mr. Bush's insistence on total victory -- a victory that simply isn't possible in a functioning two-party system -- will only ensure that the war goes on.
Changing the tone? Not with this guy. Oh, and who needs a functioning two-party system? Not Bush.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Jared Diamond is a "historian"

Jared Diamond has a new book out (and a NYTimes OpEd). We haven't read it, nor do we plan to. We read his "Guns, Germs, and Steel" book several years ago and had lots of problems with it. Before we go into that, let's start out with a short story:
The Foster brothers broke into the unoccupied house and set to work immediately. They first went to the bedroom and ransacked it, looking for jewelry. Then they went into an adjacent room, found a safe hidden behind a bookcase, opened it, and snatched several bundles of hundred dollar bills. They got what they had come for, and left as quickly as possible. But somebody had tipped the police and the chase was on. The brothers drove to the nearby mountains, ditched the car, and ran uphill through heavily wooded forest. They were headed for a tiny shack where they could hide until the heat was off. But the police were determined as ever, and in less than a couple of days, they discovered the hide-out.
Question: Did the police discover the hide-out? Not according to Diamond. You see, according to Diamond, if somebody is already someplace, nobody can discover it. What they do is "discover" it. From his book, GG&S:
  • ... for practical purposes the collision of advanced Old World and New World societies began abruptly in A.D. 1492, with Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of Caribbean islands densely populated by Native Americans. [pg 67]
  • ... a comparison of Eurasian and Native American societies as of A.D. 1492, the year of Columbus's "discovery" of the Americas. [pg 354]
A small point, but it irritates.

Now to more substantive problems with Diamond. He writes:
... the Americas had only one species of big domestic mammal, the lama/alpaca, confined to a small area of the Andes and the adjacent Peruvian coast. [pg 355]
That is incorrect. There was another large domestic mammal in the Americas - homo sapiens (they had slaves in the Americas - e.g. the Aztecs).

Why didn't the Americas develop a substantial agricultural economy? According to Diamond:
... domestic mammals interacted with domestic plants to increase food production by pulling plows ... [pg 88]
Hey! No large domestic animals, so there's your excuse for a failure in the Americas. But there was a domestic mammal throughout the two continents: man.

Then there's Diamond's excuse for the failure to develop the wheel in the Americas:
The wheels invented in Mesoamerica as parts of toys never met the llamas domesticated in the Andes, to generate wheeled transport for the New World. [pg 367]
See homo sapiens above.

There are more instances where we could complain, but we'll stop here.

Diamond sums up his outlook in GG&S in this passage:
... the striking difference between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environment.
What does Diamond mean by "the peoples themselves"? Nobody is seriously claiming that there are genetic differences. If that's what Diamond is attacking, then he's attacking a straw man. Our view is that geography does matter, but not nearly as much as Diamond claims. It's the culture that makes the difference. Diamond, in GG&S, is minimizing the contributions of "dead white males" and "Western Civilization", which is another way of attacking the Renaissance/Enlightenment. Count us as supporters of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Those were cultural developments that really made a difference.

In an attempt to play to the Post-modernist crowd (he even cites Levi-Strauss!) he engages in Just-So stories to make his case. For example, he says that Europe benefits from a rugged coastline, which helped spur trade, as opposed to China which suffered as a result. But what about the fact that Europe is a cold place, and it was only the development of technology (e.g. chimney, iron plow) that made it possible to progress? Throughout GG&S, one reads something that sounds plausible, but when you think about it some more, you realize it's not as convincing as you first thought. (Sort of like evolutionary psychology in that regard.)

Jared Diamond presents his readers with lots of facts, is correct in a number of instances, but cannot get himself to admit that science and technology - cultural elements found most prominently in Western Civilization - are responsible for much of the differences between societies.

In our opinion, one of the problems with the left is their affinity for the Rousseau / Margaret Mead infatuation with the Noble Savage and a concomitant devaluation of science and engineering. Diamond is treading in their footsteps.

We hate to sound like George Will here, but there you have it.