Thursday, December 30, 2004

When The Ship Goes Down

Eff Eff Eff, this is horrible. Duh. If you feel the same way you might go here(via Alternate Brain, which has more links to aid orgs etc) and figure out who you're going to give money to.

And yeah, we think now's not a great time for snark, so you won't hear a peep about the amount of US aid or whatever.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

About That Attack On Merry Christmas

So today as my girlfriend and I were fixin' to leave our beloved Hampden to travel west for A Christmas Terror, our next door neighbor came by to ask us something or other. As he was leaving he said - in his marvelous old school style Baltimore City accent(not Bawlmer Cockney Cracker, but the slightly more City sounding one) - "Merry Christmas!" I said the same to him. Now, both of us are Jews, but somehow we managed to utter that poor maligned phrase just fine. If two Jews in Baltimore can happily say it to each other without so much as a second thought, maybe it's not in so much danger after all.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Ugh. Hate Meta-Blog posts, but...

Our snarky post two down from this one generated quite a few comments(only our debunk of Intelligent Design as science generated more, I think). Leaving out the dick jokes, several of them are responses from us to various folks who took exception not to anything we actually said, but to things other people - Democratic presidential candidates mostly - have said about Social Security. This is really annoying. What makes it so irritating is the knee-jerk reaction of people, mostly of a conservative bent, who decide that since John Kerry might have said something, we ipso facto agree with it. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

I guess this comes down to completely differing views of not just politics, but our political process. To us, politics isn't sports. We are not personally invested in the candidates themselves and they sure as hell don't speak for us. Being on the left, the guys who we want to win rarely run anyway and wouldn't have a chance if they did(even FDR doesn't stand a chance today), so we have to view presidential elections as a choice between two people we don't like. And we have to view them as applicants for a job, not heroic or demonic figures. It seems that lots of people are far more invested in the person and are willing to accept that person as their spokesperson, their voice, their hero, whatever. That way lies facism, my friends.

Look, you want to disagree with us or take issue with something we've said, that's fine. But please, if you're going to go after us, do it on something we actually said. We don't go around to your blogs posting Shrubya's mangling of words and then accuse you of being as dumb as he is. We don't go quoting something inaccurate or false that some know-nothing jerk said and then say "Look! Price is a liar!" We don't excerpt racist comments from Free Republic and say "MajorDad is a racist!" And we certainly don't hold anyone but Glen Reynolds responsible for the tautalogies, platitudes and half baked analysis that passes for commentary over at Instapundit. That'd be more than a little disingenuous. So please, argue with us about something we said, not something someone who we never even claimed speaks for us said. And if you think our snark is weak, by all means, point it out, but make sure you're going after ours, not someone else's. And try to be funny. Please.

As for Social Security - the nominal topic of the post - as I wrote in comments and in the one post we've made on Social Security(actually, there's a second one which mentions it only tangentially), we ain't wonky enough to know the ins and outs of the whole deal. However, we read articles by enough wonks and economists to have a general understanding of the issue. We also, being lefties, have an innate distrust of the Wisdom Of The Market to provide everything since we view it as wholly undemocratic. We also have an innate distrust of this administration, it's goals, its ideology and its rhetoric. So it's true that we're likely to come down against privatization, even in a knee-jerk fashion. But you won't hear us saying "George Bush wants to steal your grandmother's pension checks!"

By the way, so far I haven't heard one good reason to privatize. I've heard really empty statements like "We need to bring it into the 21st Century" and "We need to create an ownership society." Neither of these statments carries any meaning at all. Neither of these statments addresses how privatization is going to fix the supposed problem. They do sound an awful lot like someone's campaign rhetoric though.

(And for the record, if I'd been alive at the time, I probably would have voted for Stevenson.)

Holidy Wishes From RUFNKM

Hope everyone has a marvelous time. For us there is travel, drinks, and family and some old friends. See ya'll next year, unless something obnoxious happens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Waiting For The Obvious

So none of the blogs I read regularly - no, not even Wonkette - has so far made the following joke. We gave ya'll 20 hours on it...

Yesterday the President held a press conference, where he said he wasn't going to negotiate with himself about social security reform. This is because - as he and Cheney have pointed out on numerous occaisions - you don't negotiate with evil/dictators, you defeat it/them.

Thanks. We'll be here through Thursday.

Oh Lord...

After reading this at Atrios I began to curse loudly and bang on my desk. I felt much the same as when the story of Abu Gahrib broke, or when the first beheadings occured: dread, horror, disgust, the realization that whatever just or moral cause we may have had in Iraq is now gone and of course total anger at this administration(unsuprising). Not only does Yglesias have a much better take, he's got a link to a little ray of sunshine.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Digby For DNC Chair!

This post at Hullabaloo is exemplary in it's description of how Democrats ought to fight on the rhetorical front.

Fo fo Phonics.....

This photo and caption is making the rounds. It is funny, but we won't take the cheap shot and say something like "effin' morons". That's because we take the liberty of butchering both syntax and spelling all the time. However, I learned to read (and to some degree spell) with phonics, and we know that the Texans are so crazy for phonics they think it's the only method that should be used. We're willing to bet that it was a Texan who made the graphic, so they ought to be cut a little slack. After all, that's how you'd spell "challenges" fonetickly, right?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I love it...

Sometimes It's Just Too Damn Easy

Fixer over at Alternate Brain has the following short post which incredulously quotes Shrubya speaking what sounded to our ears as word of ultimate truth:

This nation should never settle for mediocrity.

Now you might think we'd ask our usual question, but we won't. Shrubya is clearly laying out a philosophy: If you can't be excellent, don't be mediocre, be a spectacular gruesome failure.

All Kerik All The Time!

No, not really. If you want that, go to No More Mr. Nice Blog, who has been comenting and linking to much of the Kerik news in the blogosphere. However, Steve Gilliard has a post today which details something else that is related but far more interesting. He talks at length (in a vicious tone that can only come from honest disgust) about Giuliani and Kerik, and how they've exploited 9/11 to make big bucks.

I was in SF on 9/11, and so watched much of the horror on CNN. No need to get into the details, but I was struck by how much credit Giuliani got for running around and mugging for the camera. The saddest part was that usually sensible people of my acquaintence would say to me "Giuliani was a hero that day." ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? He managed to avoid putting his own skin at risk while at the same time pretending he was doing something important. And it was obvious then that he, like any politico worth his salt, was going to take advantage of it.

I never understood why people thought Giuliani was any good before 9/11 either. When a big city mayor "gets tough on crime", it isn't normally because he has any interest in serving the populace. He does it because he wants to clear the field of the competition. And hey look! Kerik's been a good Captain(in the Soprano's sense of the word).

The elevation of two-bit hacks like Giuliani and Kerik to iconic status - and Bush's bringing them into the fold for "9/11 Symbolism" - demonstrates yet again what a total joke our politics has become.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

An Effin' Comedy

This article is among many recently describing war crimes trials that Iraq claims it will be holding very soon. In fact, the article claims the first trial could happen as early as next week. On hearing this news over the last day, we could barely restrain our sense of some elation. Justice is coming soon to Iraq, and right will be done, starting next week! "Could this be a little ray of sunshine in the ongoing morass?" we asked ourselves. Well, that mean spirited beast called Reality - with it's breath smelling of Bombay Saphire and cheap cigars - got right in our faces and shouted "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?"

On NPR this morning we heard analysis from one Mike Shcarf, a legal expert who trained Iraqi judges for this very event. He caused the host of Morning Edition to burst out laughing. Why? Well, Mr. Shcarf said that Iraq has no intention of doing any such thing, and they won't be ready till this time next year. He claims he just confirmed this fact with the group inside the Justice Department that's in charge of this sort of thing.

So, as Joe Strummer once asked, "Wadda we got?" Well, we got a major news story that's totally fake, and it's clear it's fake, but despite that, Shrubya will probably mention it as fact in a speech today (if he hasn't already). Now some might claim this is just yet another example of the Orwellian Hell we live in, but I ain't one of'em. I say we're living through a different sort of hell. We're all Mrs. Gloria Teasdale to Rumsfeld's Groucho("That's a good question! Are there any other questions?"), Shrubya's Chico(you can ask "what the hell accent is that supposed to be anyway?" to both of them), Powell's Harpo(oddly silent, and even more oddly complian with Chico's wishes no matter how much trouble it causes him) in a terrifying modern version of Duck Soup. Quite frankly I've been a bit tired of being the stiff, and I'm afraid we're going to end up with far worse than pie all over us at the end of this picture.

Holy Lame-O Correction Dept:I should be shot, Zeppo should have been Chico, and I made the mistake due to beer. That's my excuse, I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Oh So Minor

Yesterday I read this post on Sadly, No!, and stupidly followed their link to this post at trying to grok. The sentiments voiced in the post and the comments crawled so far up my nose that I felt compelled to respond, just to get the irritation out of my head. I really really tried not to care, but...

In the post, she quotes a penis measuring contest incited by Little Green Footballs(no link, but I'm sure you can find it) regarding how much money can be raised for the Friends Of Iraq Blogger Challenge. Something about how they'll raise more money than liberal blogs, blah blah. Then she gets down to business:

If you oppose the war, shouldn't you support helping Iraqis put their country back together? Regardless of whether Bush looks like a chimp or not, shouldn't the idea that someone is raising money to help the common people of Iraq be a good thing? If you believe the war was wrong, shouldn't you believe the people of Iraq were right and thus want to help them?

It's warmongers and chickenhawks who have raised $62865.72 so far for the people of Iraq. As far as I understand, there's not a lefty blog among the participants. I find that very sad.

My old roommate writes anti-war poems. I donated to Spirit of America. Which one of us has done more to help the people of Iraq?


Put aside the phony "can't we all just agree to do the right thing?" platitudes. Where were all these supposedly compassionate jerks in 1996-1999 when we were protesting the humanitarian catastrophe brought on by the sanctions and giving money to Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross, or any other number of NGO's that directly benefit Iraqis and others? What about when we donated to help refugees after the first war? Did they even care about the plight of the Iraqi people then? Of course not. More likely they were concerned with something far more petty and selfish, like their failing musical careers, or whether that shade of pink lipstick really did match those cute little boots(just to take two of them at random). Or maybe they were just too tied up in knots about the horrible thing Mr. C did with his dong to notice that the Iraqis were not doing all that well. And when people like me suggested to people like them that something needed to be done, or requested that they give a little bit of money to an organization that might help, they laughed: "Nuke'em till they glow! What do I care if those camel jockeys are starving? Why should I give MY HARD EARNED MONEY to them?" They needed explosions in their own country before they'd even pretend to notice that the world outside of their comfortable little exurbs might be a little bit troubled.

And how the eff do they even presume to think that I haven't been giving money to humanitarian NGO's ever since I've had a salary? What, just because someone doesn't give money to the NGO of these people's choosing, suddenly it's ok to just plain make crap up about a whole spectrum of people just because you didn't like your roommate? Grow the eff up.

I will conclude with the obvious: Miss Trying To Grok, continue with your valiant efforts. You're not there yet, but nothing good comes without struggle.

Nota Not-a Bummer: Luckily, people in comments there actually made similar points to what's written here, but it still needs repeating. People that populate places like TTG and LGF are phonies, pure and simple.

Get Up Up Get Down, DHS Is A Joke In Our Town

Sorry Chuck, that was bad.

And actually it's our little neighbor to the south, not Baltimore, where the jokes are funniest. Yes, we're talking about the whole Kerik thing. Earlier we wrote about how the head of the DHS really isn't all that important, because the agency doesn't do what people think it does. After the rumpus with Kerik, it's clear the Whitehouse agrees with us. And for me, the fact that he was schtupping Judith Regan makes it even more delicious(I mean, I thought having Dick Morris to represent honor and integrity on her show was a wonderful irony - but this? Words do fail...) People say that this is incompetence on the part of the administration. We say, ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

This is not incompetence. This is just yet another example of how there is no war on terror, or if there is one, ShrubCo ain't fighting it. With Kerik, it's not that they didn't properly vet the guy, it's that they just don't give a damn about homeland security. Before any of the scandalous material came out it was time to ask RUFNKM. They wanted to appoint a guy of no significant achievment in national security to a position of authority over a department they didn't even want in the first place. They likely didn't care what was in his background, because they have so much contempt for - (deep breath) - we the people they just couldn't help themselves from attempting to reward a campaign stooge with a cush job.

The great thing about this administration is they demonstrate politics as usual, but with amps on eleven.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Someone Smart Said It Before The Election

I think it was a sporadic poster to this blog said:

Eff John McCain! Why do Democrats pretend like they need him anyway? He ain't done one thing that warrants any respect paid! But they all have to run around and act like he matters. Eff him!

This article just demonstrates why one feels justified in saying so. Yes, he has no confidence in Rumsfeld, but he's not going to call for his resignation. Why? Because he thinks it's the President's right to have as many total effin' losers in the cabinet as the President darn well feels like. Hey, sure, he sits on a Senate committee that has oversight, but exercising part of his authority would just be oh so partisan. What a jerk. Hey John! People are dying and the mission - as they say - is in trouble and you have some modicum of power to do something about it. Why not use it? Saying you have no confidence without acting on it when you have the opportunity to do so makes you look like a backsliding fork tongued politico, not the outspoken maverick reformer we are all supposed to love in spite of ourselves. There is a pot on which you are seated, and there is a choice to be made.

Gary Webb, RIP

Went to Marc Cooper's blog today and read with sadnessthat Gary Webb committed suicide. This sucks. There were many of us in the Bay Area who canceled subscriptions to the Mercury News because he got screwed as badly as he did. "Dark Alliance" was a brave piece, and all the more so because it was published in The Mercury, which was a pretty middle of the road paper at the time(it may still be, I haven't read it since, well...)

A Moose's Bone Needs Picking

Ever since BullMoose came back on line from his hiatus, we've read him with interest, but mild annoyance. I thought that the mild annoyance came from his attempt to re-diefy Teddy Roosevelt. There are great things TR did, but as Mencken* writes:

The issues that won him the most votes were issues that, at bottom, he didn't believe in; there was always a mental reservation in his rhetoric. He got into politics, not as a tribune of the plain people, but as an amateur reformer of the snobbish type common in the eighties, by the Nation out of the Social Register.

In other words, we don't regard him as a principled reformer, but as a guy who achieved good things despite his best intentions. Moreover, the good things he did achieve were due not to his internal desire for "reform", but came as a result of raw political necessity. In order for him to cultivate the adulation and power he craved, he had to make a good show of giving the people what they demanded.

This doesn't quite explain our distaste for the Moose, however. Americans diefy the wrong guy for the wrong reasons all the time. The Democrat's march to turn Bill Clinton into our last great president is another perfect example (Hey, we love Clinton, but he was - in the words of a greater mind than ours describing a really out of this world cat - "just this guy, you know?") And as a friend recently pointed out to me, the national myths about our historical figures are more important than their humanity insofar as they give us ideals to live up to. Besides, it doesn't really matter to us how you arrive at the obvious conclusion that a healthy dose of sensible populism would benefit our democracy.

No, what irks us to no end was finally summarized recently by the Moose himself. In the conclusion of a post summarizing a Weekly Standard article on Republican lobbyists, he laments the "perversion of the Republican Revolution". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

This attitude - also reflected in the article he summarizes - that the Republican Party was at some long lost time the great white hope of reform, that the Republican Party has ever had core principles other than transfer of large sums of money from the taxpayers into private hands, that the Conservative Movement in this country stood on great principles such as "limited government" is at last as phony as TR's populist reflex. The Republican Party was indeed out of complete power for a short while, but their "reformer" pose was simply a ruse to reclaim what they thought was rightfully theirs.

I remember the Republican Revolution well. I didn't vote in that election, and on being informed of this, my brother called me and said, "Thanks a bunch jerkoff. You just gave us Newt Gingrich." This wasn't strictly true, but it stung. I also remember the "Contract With America". The policy aims in this document were quite simple. It sought to roll back as much social spending as possible, while making sure that people who didn't need economic protection got it in spades. That's always been the essence of the "small government" movment. The matter of principle at stake is not that "freedom" is ensured by "limited government", but that the rich in this country deserve what they have, and they shouldn't have to pay any taxes even when it's in their long term best interest to do so. If "small government conservatives" stand for anything, it is the desturction of the country. They showed it when they shut the government down "on point of principle". Need anyone be reminded that when Congress does anything "on point of principle", it should be translated as "we're doing it because we stand to make something on the deal"?

The Republicans at that time actually managed a rhetorical feat that would have made TR both jealous and proud. They couched their brutal agenda in terms of "libtery", "freedom" and other colorful language invoking the founders and our great documents. Because of this brilliant con they didn't succumb to the necessity of doing anything good. Instead they were able to implement their agenda almost unvarnished, all in the name of preserving the great principles of our country.

So the Moose is disillusioned with the elephant. This is good news, but how is it that he ever bought the lie in the first place? Why is it that political "experts" like the Moose aren't allowed (or refuse) to say the one obvious thing about our system? Reform is impossible as long as government is bought and paid for. People who run on the issue of "reform" have little interest in it since reform wouldn't serve them any more than it serves the current crop of hucksters. What's needed is not a "reform party", but a populace that is cynical and educated enough to know who is leading them, and angry enough to force them to quit screwing around. Neither party wants this, because it would really shake things up, so away we go with business as usual.

The worst part of this is the Moose's opening salvo:

As one of the Moose's favorite philosophers, the Who's Peter Townshend aptly said, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Well, the new boss in 1994 was the old boss of 1988 and 1984 and was the new boss in 1980. How is it the Moose missed it the first 3 times?

*We'd like to claim we're the proginators of the blogosphere's "The 21st Century: Mencken, Now More Than Ever" movement, but only because it's nice to know we beat Wolcott to something...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

If You Haven't Already...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Try To Be More Sensitive

So the via Atrios we read that the ADL has written O'Reilly asking him to be more sensitive about Jewish issues in relation to Merry Christmas etc. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

Don't misunderstand. I totally agree - in fact, I totally relate to - what they're saying. But you don't win fights with jocko-hypocrite wannabe tough guy cry babies like O'Reilly by asking him to be sensitive. Why isn't anyone asking him why he and the rest of the save merry christmas crowd are being such whiney babies about it? I say it's time to stop demanding sensitivity and start demanding that people over the age of 18 who are free of economic hardship act like responsible adults.

I Think You Ought To Know...

Not to be a downer or anything, but this article from Kos, well. Look, you can say we can't cut and run. Send your kids to replace this one who died, or join up yourself. Money -> Mouth : Bang.

More On Dean

The speech today was good. Standard issue Dean, but worthwhile anyway and if you're not overly familiar with his stuff, you should read it.

I Scream For Dean

There's been lots of talk on the Dem partisan blogs about who will head up the DNC. Evidently Howard Dean is considering a run, and is considered the early front runner. This piece in The Hill claims the race will go much like the presidential primaries.

I haven't offered much in the way of commentary about this. Although I was a huge Democratic supporter this time around and I'm a registered Democrat(becuase in Maryland, even Republicans are registered Democrats), I'm not a Big D Partisan. I'm not very interested in the insider component of party politics, unless it's in Baltimore - we have a great old fashioned Machine Politics here which makes for great entertainment even if policy wise it's horrific - because I don't care about the party, I care about the ideas it expresses.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, I was a Clark supporter in the presidential primaries. I thought he would make a great president. I didn't like Dean for the job. He was a charismatic demagogue, in love with his own voice. I don't think people like that should be in government, they should be on television. Or they should perform the function he did - acting as a change agent and mobilizing people who wouldn't otherwise be mobilized. It is in this repsect that I think he'd be a fantastic head of the DNC. I think his dual commitments to grass roots organizing and a strong message are the perfect tonic to what the party has been doing since Clinton. The party needs a strong message, and it needs a rank and file, and Dean understands this.

I also love what he's been doing with DFA. The meetups, the community involvment, the sponsoring of candidates way down on the ballot - all of this is stuff the Right has been doing for years, and it works. I think DFA is far more relevant than the party itself, so I'm screamin' for Dean as head of the DNC. It's the right job for him, and he's the right man for the job.

Kids Today

More than one person that spent their teen/young adult years in the 1970's has told me "That stuff you kids stick up your noses today isn't real cocaine." I'm not sure why they included me in that statement, but the point is that coke today just ain't what it used to be. Maybe this will offer redress.


No More Mr. Nice Blog's post about troops questioning Rumsfeld had me burst out laughing at the same time I was appalled.

Appalling! Why do our troops hate our troops?

Tee effin' hee.

Two Cultures(and a Third)

BaySense is meant to serve as an environmental resource blog for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area. Normally that means it's pretty Maryland-centric. Today, however, they have an interesting post about the interplay between "development" and "conservationist" movements.
It closes with the following:

Developers and conservationists need to understand and work with each other.

The article is well worth a read. I'm not sure whether I think the sentiment is one of sensible pragmatism or weak-knee'd spineless Clinton style "third-way" compromise(that always ends up giving more to those who have much...). But it's worth reading regardless.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

At Last! A Successful Hearts&Minds Win!

As one of our favorite blogs might say, "Actually, sadly, no." This ain't funny like them, though. Via Laura Rozen we learn of yet another instance of shooting unarmed captives. It's horrific. Yes, our soldiers are in a war zone. No, I don't understand all of what's going on over there, what it's like and what their orders are. No, I'm not saying our soldiers are evil. I am saying that what they are being asked to do - if indeed they are being ordered to do this sort of thing - is morally degrading to them, the rest of us, and our cause. And yeah, it's really not going to win any hearts and minds either.

More Hearts And Minds

As an update to yesterdays post regarding our failure to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, here's the whole report. So it's available on line, yet we still haven't heard much about it in the major US press. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I will by the end of today.

Viva Krugman(Some More)

As we've said before, we're not that well versed in Social Security, but Krugamn takes a break from his vacation to offer some useful tidbits about why privatization has nothing to do with good economic policy. Oh yeah, he says "class warfare" too.

Things That Make Us Laugh

DemVet's got a great story posted. Sounds apocryphal, but still funny as hell.

Pearl Harbor and Pearls From Friends

Good lord, sorry for the horrid puns. But here's the thing, it's written into the Programmers Contract With God that once you become a programmer your sense of humour is instantly replaced with an urge to pun - badly - that is only comparable to an alcoholic's urge to drink.

Anyway, we were going to have a post today about Pearl Harbor, it's relationship to 9/11 and all that, but the good folks at Alternate Brain say pretty much everything that could possibly be said.

Update: Fixed the link, thanks and sorry Fixer!

A Moose That Quacks

We're regular readers of The BullMoose even though we don't blogroll him. When he's right, he's right about obvious things, and when he's wrong, well...Today however, he has a prescription for Rumsfeld that is both hilarious and accurate.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Picture And Some Words

This here post and accompanying picture from Kos is gratifying on the values front. I will point out that it's sad Maryland is on the list, but it's unsuprising. Maryland is really more purple in temperment if not voting patterns.

Push-Me Pull-You

Yeah, sometimes watching this administration is like seeing that two headed llama from the original Doctor Dolittle. Everything's going fine in Iraq, and we're winning the war on terror, but then, via Raw Story there's this. We've lost the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq. Of course, the conclusion drawn is not that we totally screwed up the occupation, but that we just didn't do a good enough job selling the Iraqis on the idea that we're killing them and blowing up their houses for their own good. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Leave it to ShrubCo to put abject policy failures down to ineffective salesmanship. Maybe if the Muslim World just read more Tom Friedman...

Nota Bummer: As Roger Ailes notes, The Washington Post had the story(scroll down), but in the ombudsman's section. Given the real-life sacrifices over 1200 Americans have made on behalf of ShrubCo, and one of the major justifications for that sacrifice was to win the hearts and minds, you'd think such an admission of failure might warrant a slightly more public airing.)

Decking The Halls

More humbug, this time from Roger Ailes, who is almost always funnier than we are.

Hawks And Doves And Thinking People

Chris Bowers at MyDD has a great post summing up why one guy - who is an interventionist - opposed and continues to oppose the Iraq war. His political evolution actually sounds pretty close to mine(which may be why I'm linking to it), although at the time I was more knee-jerk dove on Kosovo, for which I am currently ashamed - not that my opinion had any relevance to anyone at the time but it was still wrong, and given what was going on, shamefully so.

Demented Who?

Matthew Yglesias - who is clearly more edumakated, more of an insider, more wonkish, and of much better stock than I - had a post on Friday afternoon which talks about drug policy and The Wire. Since RUFNKM is a blog from The Greatest City In America, we get tickled pink when people ruminate on high quality TV shows set here. For what it's worth, we don't have cable, so we've only seen the first season (which, typical of David Simon, is brilliant). The point of this post isn't to further laud David Simon, however. Nor is it to attempt to out-wonk Ygesias, which for us would be impossible. No, we'd just like to respond to this particular bit:

As a result of the Episode One commentary by David Simon it now seems clear that the show's creator has what I consider the outlook of slightly demented leftwingers on the topic of the "war on drugs."

Yeah, the "demented leftwingers" thing really rankles, prompting the usual question. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

If David Simon's career is any indication, his opinion on the drug war is not the product of blind libertarian ideology or endless stoned yet angry nights spent ranting round the hookah. The guy spent years following the open air drug trade in Baltimore. He and Ed Burns did it up close and personal, which lead to The Corner, a rather harrowing account. Anyone who has lived on or near "the corner" of any major city(my personal experience was the Sixth Street Corridor in San Francisco) doesn't need to read it - they experienced it first hand. Furthermore, they might end up being lead to similar conclusions as Simon - the drug trade is indeed degrading and horrific, but waging a "war" on it might not be the most effective way to get rid of it. In other words, this is a very good instance of a "reality based" conclusion. The fact that many Baltimoreans I know won't watch The Wire because it is "too real, too raw, too right on" seems to me to support this. The same was true of The Corner mini-series, incidentally, and it wasn't Baltimoreans then. I had plenty of friends in SF who asked "Why the hell would I watch that when I can look out my front window and see it?" when asked if they'd seen or read The Corner. Anecdotal, I know, but still a more accurate view than from behind a keyboard.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Even A Theological Computer Scientist Thinks So...

Donald Knuth is another geek hero of mine(see the EWD archive link on the right side below the blogroll for the major one). He's one of the godfathers of computer science in many respects. He spent a long time at Stanford teaching and doing important research. The "theological" part comes from the fact that while taking a break from finishing his opus he took time to write Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, which is an investigation into his own faith, of a Lutheran variety, if I remember correctly. Just goes to show faith&reason are allowed to exist together. This is not the point of this post however...

I was surfing around his homepage and found this. I like that he prefaces his link to it with the following:

After the depressing outcome of recent elections, I've decided to post my letter to Condolezza Rice written in September 2002.

The post script rings eerily prescient(seeing as he wrote it in 2002).

P.S. This is the second time in my life that I have written a letter to a U.S. government official. The first time was during the Vietnam war.

Now I'm not sure he'd care to be made strange bed-fellows with foul mouthed chain smoking drunks of no discernible character, but I for one am proud to be able to say I'm on his side on this issue. I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that smart people of all stripes seem to agree. You don't have to be Noam Chomsky to not want this war.

I Don't See No Quagmire

Marc Cooper has a great post on Iraq today. He also links to a rather disturbing column by Lt. Col Karen Kwiatkowski which piles on yet more evidence that this war was a mistake.


Steve Gilliard has a nice compendium of critiques on the guy tipped to be the new head of DHS, Bernard Kerik. Personally, I am starting to find the notion of a "9-11" aura pretty tacky. We can't celebrate any real victories in the war on terror, so we have to go with the symbolic.

What's The Matter With Texas?

A friend sent us a link to this story. A woman sentenced to the death penalty in Texas actually got a reprieve. There are a few interesting things to note about this.

First, the woman granted the reprieve, Frances Newton, suffered from the Texas-Typical incompetence of her defense attorney.

Her original defense attorney, Ron Mock, interviewed no witnesses before the trial. He has since been suspended three times by the Texas Bar Assn. and is no longer allowed to take court-appointed capital murder cases.

This is not even the worst Texas can do. Bob Herbert at Common Dreams mentions one Joe Cannon, a defense attorney who slept through significant portions of a trial where his client was convicted and given the death penalty. The Texas Appeals court didn't think this was reason enough to over-turn the death penalty ruling. Read the whole article. It's a good summary of the savagery that passes for justice in Texas.

The second thing to note is that governor Perry felt compelled to announce that he saw no evidence of innocence in reviewing the court papers, and that justice delayed was not justice denied.

The third thing to note is that because Newton's reprieve is so rare, it's considered newsworthy. As Herbert notes, Texas is more or less a death penalty assembly line. And why not, when its previous governor - one incompetent businessman and loser who became President - thought mocking a woman on death row was a perfectly reasonable thing to do?

I'm sure most people are tired of going over this and over this (I know I am), but it still bears repeating. Aside from being a morally criminal (state sanctioned killing outside of war is murder by any other name), it is ineffective as a deterrent. The conflation of thuggery with justice - Texas style clamoring for it, not a last resort - is not rough and tough justice. Now that it's nationwide, it's the real indicator of our decline.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Now I've Got A Reason...

Do please check this Media Matters post out. Evidently the reason people become (or in some cases like yours truly, choose to intensify their natural impulse to be) depressed alcoholics around the holidays is because "the meaning is sucked out" by the multi-cultural machinations of huge upscale retail chains who wish their customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Did you know that our culture is so coarse it's attacking Christmas itself? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

I'm so glad that's been cleared up for me. I always thought the reasons for holiday inspired depression, anxiety and alcohalism had something to do with the sudden requirement that people jam themselves into over-crowded shopping malls, spend money they really can't afford to spend in the hopes of not emasculating themselves in the "who's the better consumer sweepstakes", and fight for space with thousands of other anxious and depressed drunks in over-crowded airports in a vicious struggle to spend time with people they don't take the time to see any other time of the year. As if that weren't enough, all of this is supposed to make people happy and if it doesn't there really is something wrong with you, you ScroogeMcDucky Jerk! Yes, bah-effin'-humbug to you!

Of course, one could make the argument that the meaning has been sucked out, but it's not clear anyone wants to get into the old "celebration of the birth of Christ moved from April to December to better market Christianity to pagan's who were celebrating the winter equinox by slaying beasts and having a grand ol' time" saw, because that's just rude and offensive.

But hey, look. There's a war on and American's are dying and all that. BUT WE MUST PROTECT CHRISTMAS!!1!!!11!1! Look over here! Rich people are being oppressed by Macy's!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Once Again...

Naomi Klein goes and nails it, again.

Update: Pardon the double post. Blogger went and told me this one failed, when in fact, it didn't.

Why Aren't We Cleverer And Posting More And Generally Being More Useful?

Everybody Tells Me Everything
by Ogden Nash

I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons


Excellent interview with Thomas Frank over at Alternet. At the risk of "me too me too!" I must say that I totally agree. The Democratic Party is nothinh without economic populism. I'd prefer to call it "economic justice", but that's just me. Yes, economics is hard, but message is so damn simple. People have a right to protection against the savage side of capitalism. If there's a use for government, it's that.

Things That Don't Fail To Surprise...

This post may be somewhat obtuse, but read on. We think it's interesting.

Of course many people have commented on Tom Ridge's resignation. We didn't bother yesterday, because of recent events which made it seem obvious that he was at best an inconsequential figure. We don't know enough about Ridge's previous history to know if he's a political hack or what, but we do have - for probably the first and only time - an insight into how the DHS runs.

We've heard the DHS desribed in rather cynical terms as yet another tax payer funded money sinkhole with very little interest in - or mandate for - formulating public policy and as much oversight as the Defense Department had in the 1980's. In fact, the parallels to the Reagan era defense department are pretty astounding.

Apparently the DHS's main purpose is to take taxpayer money and "research" and "develop". What this entails is "the usual suspects" - ie defense contractors - making money off of the taxpayer. No suprise there. As far as any actual policy goes, if something is proposed that might involve regulation or making laws (you know, the whole "governing" thing), the DHS doesn't want to hear your ideas. As for Ridge, it apparently doesn't matter who runs the place. The mid level guys - good sound ideologues to a man - know what they are supposed to do and will do it no matter who's theoretically in charge. Getting placed as head of an agency like that sounds like the ultimate political appointment really, but it probably needs to keep circulating in order to make it appear that progress is being made. Hence Ridge leaving the job sooner rather than later.

So take heart ya'll! We have yet more evidence that our government is working hard to keep us safe and secure, spending our money on only the best possible people and programs. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?