Saturday, October 30, 2004
Friday, October 29, 2004
From A Different Conversation
"So, explain to me again why it's a crime to bribe a poor person with a pack of smokes, but it's fine to bribe a rich person with a tax cut?"
Update: This story has more details.
The spin from all sides will be predictable. I'll simply say that the rumors of Osama's demise seem to be greatly exaggerated. I wish I had the wherewithal to go through every single war blog and magazine article wherein the writer makes some dismissive claim about Osama being dead and therefore not important and therefore we really have to invade Iraq.
Yet More Evil Elitists Attempting To Ruin Our Democracy
The secret ballot and the partisan nature of elections place a huge burden on electronic security — a burden the field is probably not ready to shoulder, according to Barbara Simons, a computer security expert at Stanford University.
"In my view, voting is a national security issue, and I have to say that I fear that what we are going to see with this upcoming election is a huge amount of chaos and a lot of questioning of results," she said. Simons was addressing computer security and privacy issues at an American Institute of Physics forum on the future or information technology this week (Oct. 25-26) at IBM Corp.'s T.J. Watson Research Center (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.).
Go Read Juan Cole Now
But if DiRita thought that this officer would clear the whole thing up, he was clearly disappointed. The major said explicitly that he had not seen any seals of the International Atomic Energy Commission, which means that he cannot testify that his unit destroyed the HMX. Then he was asked if insurgents could have carried off 150 tons of that stuff in a short period of time as a practical matter. He replied that it seems like a lot, but in fact it could be done really quickly.
Then he let it slip that his unit was at al-Qaqaa on April 13, before the KSTP video was shot of US soldiers examining HMX there. So Pearson's unit could not have removed all the HMX at that time. Since he didn't see IAEA seals, it seems likely that his unit didn't remove any HMX.
And yes, "blockquote" is seriously the most evil HTML tag. It encourages laziness in the worst possible way.
Yeah, Let's Make It The Law To Turn Public Funds Over To These Guys
In These Times of Worry
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Clark Today(You didn't read it here first)
General Clark on Giuliani Comments:
"Insulting and Cowardly"
General Wesley Clark issued the following statement today about Rudolph Giuliani's comments about the responsibility of U.S. troops for the missing explosives in Iraq:
“For President Bush to send Rudolph Giuliani out on television to say that the 'actual responsibility' for the failure to secure explosives lies with the troops is insulting and cowardly.
“The President approved the mission and the priorities. Civilian leaders tell military leaders what to do. The military follows those orders and gets the job done. This was a failure of civilian leadership, first in not telling the troops to secure explosives and other dangerous materials, and second for not providing sufficient troops and sufficient equipment for troops to do the job.
“President Bush sent our troops to war without sufficient body armor, without a sound plan and without sufficient forces to accomplish the mission. Our troops are performing a difficult mission with skill, bravery and determination. They deserve a commander in chief who supports them and understands that the buck stops in the Oval Office, not one who gets weak knees and shifts blame for his mistakes.”
The Onion Isn't Kidding
The Smart Folks at Body And Soul
We sure do seem to have an awful lot of rotten apples. Maybe it's time to chop down that old tree.
Why I Trust The Federal Government More Than I Trust The Market Made Simple
If Enron or Worldcom or Mrogan Stanley steal my money, I end up broke and I have no recourse and no one goes to jail.
Update: I do not, however, trust my own spelling or grammar skills when I've been on a coffee tear and am, for some reason, totally furious.
Drowning In The Big Swim, Rising To The Surface...
I'm noticing another old trope that's coming back to haunt us in the last days of this campaign. This morning, opposite a nice summation of the what the eff is wrong with the GOP by Tom Frank , NPR played commentary by one Karl Zinmeister of the American Enterprise Magazine (which appears to be a propoganda arm of the American Enterprise Institute). In it, Mr. Zinmeister offers the by now only slightly less tired trope that the current Republican Party is really the party of the "little guy". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
The funniest part of this compare contrast is that since they played Frank first, you get to hear the refutation, and then the promulgation. But what's truly maddening is hearing the same tired mix match of unconnected facts and spurious logic that allows Zinmeister to draw his conclusion. And given where he's coming from, it's highly unlikely that it's just sloppy reasoning. The AEI is a think tank designed to come up with arguments in favor of "reforms" that essentially place taxpayer money in the hands of unelected money grubbers (this isn't vulgar Marxism, it's what brokerage houses say they're all about) instead of an elected body that is admittedly corrupt, but at least provides a means of recourse.
In the commentary, you hear the usual cultural charactarization of those who prefer democractic institutions to financial ones as "rich elitist liberals". This characterization is then used to make a series of policy arguments. Am I the only one who finds this less than geniune? Let us itemize the inanity.
- Nascar Dads vote Republican because they are rugged individualists.
- The party that passed No Child Left Behind wants choice in schools.
- The question of social security, a question of numbers and analysis is actually a cultural question about market populists versus elitists.
- Some Democrats make 100,000 a year. They should be ignored because...they're not poor.
- Elitists who think that complex problems deserve analysis by people who know something about the specific problem are less reliable and less democratic than common folk. It follows that the next time I need brain surgery I should let Nascar Dads diagnose the problem and perform the surgery.
I have anecdotal evidence to suggest that the real elitists are still Republican, and they ain't Nascar Dads. Since I'm one of those "upper income elitist liberals" I feel it is only necessary to point out that my bosses, who all make literally 10 times my salary are Republicans. Not only that, take a look at the "New Establishment" article in last month's Vanity Fair. There you'll find thumbnail profiles of every major CEO in the country. Guess what? Nearly 70% of them support Bush.
Oh yeah, this friend of the workin' man, Mr. Zinmeister is a senior fellow at the AIE. Do you get senior fellowships without at least a Masters? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
The reason to point out this marlakey again and again is because it's being brought up again. This is exactly the sort of stuff we heard all through the 1990's(see One Market Under God), and it's suddenly being re-hashed again, just like liberal bias. More pre-defense of a Bush loss?
For Those Who Haven't Seen It Already
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
A Message Of Hope To Our Bush Voting Friends
Phew. It feels great to finally have a reason to say "America: love it or leave it!"
They Call Him Crazy
Here's another of the main points I want to make. If we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth-rate military of Iraq and then quickly abandon that nation, as President Bush has quickly abandoned almost all of Afghanistan after quickly defeating a fifth-rate military power there, then the resulting chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.
But if Iraq came to resemble Afghanistan, in its current depleted state, with no central authority - well, they have a central authority, but their central authority, because the administration's insistence that the international community not be allowed to assemble a peace keeping force large enough to pacify the countryside, that new government in Afghanistan controls a few precincts in one city and the warlords or drug lords control the whole rest of the countryside. What if in the aftermath of a war against Iraq, we face a situation like that because we washed our hands of it? What would then happen to all of those stored reserves of biological weapons all around the country? What if the Al Qaeda members infiltrated across the borders of Iraq the way they are in Afghanistan?
I just think that if we end the war in Iraq the way we ended the war in Afghanistan, we could very well be worse off than we are today.
Here we are in the city where the United Nations was established. Even before the U.N. was established, you look back over the last 85 to 100 years, there is lots and lots of evidence about why it's almost as important to win the peace following a war as it is to win the war itself.
You can say "he's lost his mind". I say, ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? More like effin' prescient. Hey ya'll, don't blame me. I voted for him. And for those of you who think he wouldn't have gone after Hussein, read the damn speech. I'm not sayin' I agree with it, I'm just sayin' it's true. By the way, this sorta gives the lie to the whole "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" complain Shrubya keeps trying. He was warned by a serious person thinking seriously about the issue, well before yesterday.
I'd also like to point out that this is what I meant yesterday about idealogy vs empircism in governing. Gore didn't have to ask the lord what would happen in Iraq. He looked at the evidence, the situation in Iraq, and he looked at administration policy, and he concluded there was a danger. And then, horror of horrors, he gave a speech about it. And those little effer's at Faux News and the rest of the echo chamber mocked him for it. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Eat your goddamn words you tiny peices of floating human waste.
KERRY: Well, two leading national news networks have both said the president's characterization of my health-care plan is incorrect. One called it fiction. The other called it untrue.
BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about -- oh, never mind....
So, we're not supposed to trust major news organizations, unless it's an outdated report that's been shown innacurate by subsequent reports. ARE YOU EFFIN KIDDING ME? Stupid reality flip flopping.
We're really not trying to be HitchWatch but...
1. /n./ Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.
2. /n./ An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.
3. /vt./ To bear emotionally or physically. "I can't hack this heat!"
4. /vt./ To work on something (typically a program). In an immediate sense: "What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In a general (time-extended) sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack TECO." More generally, "I hack `foo"' is roughly equivalent to "`foo' is my major interest (or project)". "I hack solid-state physics." See Hacking X for Y.
5. /vt./ To pull a prank on. See sense 2 and hacker (sense 5).
6. /vi./ To interact with a computer in a playful and exploratory rather than goal-directed way. "Whatcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking."
7. /n./ Short for hacker.
8. See nethack.
9. [MIT] /v./ To explore the basements, roof ledges, and steam tunnels of a large, institutional building, to the dismay of Physical Plant workers and (since this is usually performed at educational institutions) the Campus Police. This activity has been found to be eerily similar to playing adventure games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Zork. See also vadding.
Constructions on this term abound. They include `happy hacking' (a farewell), `how's hacking?' (a friendly greeting among hackers) and `hack, hack' (a fairly content-free but friendly comment, often used as a temporary farewell). For more on this totipotent term see " The Meaning of `Hack'". See also neat hack, real hack.
I guess we now really need to add one for "Political pundit who makes a political endorsment based on the readership of the publication in which he's writing the endorsment."
Atrios has the compare/contrast. I will simply ask, was the endoresment for Bush in the Nation the ironic endorsment, or a cheap attempt to piss off friends on the Left? A serious intellectual. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
Sad: John Peel died yesterday. I credit John Peel with large parts of my musical taste. He probably has a session out with over 60% of my favorite bands. Back when I was in high school, "Peel Sessions" were always eagerly awaited treasures - lots of the time it was the only way to hear a band you'd only read about, or hear what your favorite band "really" sounded like. Damn, the punk era really is leaving us fast...
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
In Prince George's County, the schoolchildren have had a new boss for the past year. One Andre Hornsby was recruited from New York to be our very own superintendent. He accepted heartily, mostly because he was being booted out of his current position but also because P.G. was nice enough to let him change his job title to CEO. I guess superintendent smacks a little too mucha socialism for old Andre..or something. Mind you, the people of NY tried to warn PG of Andre's past exploits. Seems he favored certain companies for big, fat educational system contracts if they happened to send him on a trip or buy him a new Palm Pilot. But, the good folks of Prince George's County (just a few, that is, no one asks anyone who really has a stake in the matter) decided to bring him down anyway to salvage our school system from the wreck Iris Metts left behind. Iris Metts was the former superintendent. Quick bio: Recruited from Delaware, gave her personal aides six-figure bonuses upon her hire, was almost ousted by her own board in a very exciting coup. Too bad the ending was not so exciting and we ended up with...
Well, it turns out Dr. Hornsby is about to give a big, fat educational system contract to a software company who sent him on an all-expense paid trip to South Africa last year. Gasp! How could he! Never mind the fact that many schools in PG County have few to no operational computers, have had to lay off tech teachers in budget crunches, have no time to use fancy-ass software due to new Third Reich-esque testing requirements (Thanks again to that littlest mind left behind). But, I digress.
I'm sure this story is familiar to Baltimoreans who have lived through several imported police commissioners who started more scandals than they put down. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? What the fuck is the deal with the carpetbaggers? Why do we spend all of this time and energy finding people from far away who have no vested interest in fixing the place we done brought 'em? What ever happened to someone coming up through the ranks, learning a particular system, becoming familiar with its peculiar problems, remembering what the hell it was like to work in said trenches..and so on, and so on. Here's hoping that a week from today one particularly odious, carpetbaggin' motherfucker (and you too, Alan Keyes!) is packing his bags and heading back to that other state he doesn't really come from.
We Only Link To This Out Of Spite To David Brooks
Today's Must Read Post From Another Blog
A Horrible Ol' Condition
- What follows is a bunch of rather disconnected thoughts about the election, so I apologize in advance for it being disconnected. It's mostly a ramble on "who I'm voting for and why". Although it's obvious, my reasoning may not be.
- In the following I will have occasion to quote H.L. Mencken. Before anyone gets offended, I am aware that he is considered an anti-Semite. Given that there are members of my family I never met thanks to Mr. Hitler, I am well aware of the despicable nature of any form of racist thought. However, given that we are meant to accept (and in some cases, hero worship) the founders of our country despite the fact that many of them were slave holding misogynists, can we also accept that even if people have some things horribly wrong, they may also have other things right? The great thing about dead people who wrote is that you can evaluate, agree and disagree with different portions of the written work without having to think about whether you'd let them anywhere near your home (in the case of Mencken and Jefferson, for me the answer would be a resounding "No").
First, a few disclaimers:
With that out of the way...
...The deduction I propose to make from it is simply this: that a like increase [in human happiness] would follow if the American people could only rid themselves of another and worse false assumption that still rides them - one that corrupts all their thinking about the great business of politics, and vastly augments their discontent and unhappiness - the assumption, that is, that politicians are divided into two classes, and that one of those classes is made up of good ones.
- H.L. Mencken, "The Politician" from Prejudices: A Selection (Originally in Prejudices: Fourth Series for you pedants).
I accept this judgment on politicians - at least those who run seek and attain national office - as axiomatic. Even if one starts out in an attempt to do good, once commencing the run for national office, all bets are off - the entire process is too corrupting. And once national office is achieved, retaining the office requires even more corruption. I don't have a program to fix this, and I'm not complaining, I'm just saying those are the rules of the game as I see them. So, to beat another dead horse, character, nobility, honesty, honor - these are not things I look for in a politician. Doing so is like walking into a McDonald's and trying to find where on the menu they list the filet mingion. Besides, most of our best presidents were men of extreme "moral" failure of one kind or another. So when people start talking about character, I just ask:ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? They're all corrupt, they're all scoundrels, they're all effin' jerks.
"Great. So what do you look for, you effin' cynical jerk?" The answer to that is "Unfortunately a mish mash". There aren't that many rock solid indicators I can look to - and being something of an empiricist, I find that intensely frustrating - but there are a few I have found useful.
One is ideology, and how much a candidate is enslaved by it. For instance, I viewed the Bush Presidency and the state of the country today as inevitable from the day he announced he was running, solely based on ideology. His - and his crew's - was an unholy mixture of the worst parts of Ayn Rand, Pat Robertson and Theodore Roosevelt - the "Greed, God, and Guns&Glory" platform. What terrifies me most about this platform is that each plank requires that you take it's efficacy on faith and on faith alone. So we were going to have massive tax cuts, deregulation, erosion of the barrier between church and state, and war, no matter what the facts of the day might be. One of the reasons I haven't blogged about the Suskind article that had the blogosphere so a-titter last week was that it wasn't a revelation. When everyone went apeshit with indignation and suprise, all I could think was ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? That was obvious. Say what you want about Clinton and Gore, but they were different. They did have faith in government to do certain things, and they wanted to use government to solve problems. If they saw that something wasn't working, they'd be willing to change direction to try something else.
A very distant second indicator is "the record". Often that's difficult to discern, or at least it's difficult to extract useful data, but it's there. Bush's record in Texas could give us a decent flavor of how he would govern, and Clinton's in Arkansas did the same. Kerry's is a bit harder to figure out, mainly because he's been a senator, but there are certainly things you can determine aside from political opportunism.
However, it seems to me that Kerry's going to be the less brazenly idealogical, less enslaved to one limited set of impotent ideas, the one less likely to get us into trouble and then ask us to "have faith". So I'll be voting for Kerry.
BTW, I'm pretty damn far left - in case anyone cared - but I don't think it's possible to have my particular set of values represented in the country at large, so you take what you can get and participate in other ways when possible, which for me is a far more satisfactory and sensible method than what Hitch proposed.
Suprise! Weekly Standard Endorses Bush For Reasons Lamer Than Hitchen's
Notes From An Old Conversation
My Brother: "Did you know that Texas is the only state in the Union that is a member voluntarily?"
My Mother: "Yes. And I wish they'd secede and take their carpetbagging President with them."
Update: It bears repeating here that Shrubya is a Connecticut Yankee Blueblood. Anyone who thinks otherwise should promptly secede from the Union and take their carpetbagging President with them.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Bastion Of Liberal Fear Mongering Degrades Our Democratic Process
In particular, many electronic voting systems have been evaluated by independent, generally-recognized experts and have been found to be poorly designed; developed using inferior software engineering processes; designed without (or with very limited) external audit capabilities; intended for operation without obvious protective measures; and deployed without rigorous, scientifically-designed testing.
I've got tons of confidence in our election this year. Guess that's why I'll be signing up for to be a poll watcher here, instead of someplace userful like Pennsylvania.
Keep Those Mangy Paws To Yourself, Fraternal Or Otherwise
Gee, thanks for ever so deftly slicing the electoral Gordian Knot for us Hitch. I get it. The trick to getting over disgust with the corruption of our political system is to pick a single issue, ignore the facts, policy complexities and anything else inconvenient, then suck it up and judge The Man based on...What?
Does anyone honestly believe Bush did an about face on his foreign policy goals? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? A man uses a politically convenient disaster to bolster up a failing presidency and cynically sell the public on his goals - which he did manage to obscure throughout his first campaign - and this is illustrative of something important to Hitch, Sullivan, whoever(I'd include Horowitz in this list, but he never had any reservations about Bush). I don't understand it. I thought these men were supposed to be incisive critical thinkers, serious minded and so forth. But since they can't even be bothered to read what these people were actually proposing back in 2000 and before, it seems to me they're lazy opportunists.
Which reminds me, Wolcott has already dispensed with the fatuous "anyone but Bush, even Al Sadr?" argument, twice so far(and with much more wit than is managed here). Color me unimpressed with Hitch's willingness to even put that in print, however. Not only is it a cheap shot, it's nonsensical - no one is suggesting solidarity (no, not even Naomi Klein - yet another masterful stroke of missing the effin' point) with these kinds of leaders. It's yet more evidence that it's not Hitch's politics that are disappointing, it's his substitution of second rate rhetorical hair pulling for reason and wit. Wipe away the fraternal paw extension and all you have is Ann Coulter with a little more grace, a fatter ass(though same size tits, it would appear), and a diminishing English accent. See? We can do it too.
As far as the company we keep, wasn't it Hitch who wrote in Letters To A Young Contrarian that you shouldn't judge your positions by who happens to agree with you? Maybe some of us who didn't want the Iraq war didn't want it because, unlike the serious intellectual "liberal hawks", it was obvious to us where that would lead. If you wanted nation building done right, Gore was your man, and since it looks like it's going to be mostly people who would have made up a Gore cabinet in Kerry's, maybe you've got the wrong man?
As for the pointless suggestion that no one really wanted a second Carter term, or a Dukakis presidency(which, by the way, is at least the third time I've seen this claim in print, along with the equally pointless "no Democrat is really that into John Kerry"), ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? The reason hard core peacenik leftists don't like hawkish Democrats is because they're hawkish. Doves can't be single issue because no matter who you elect, the foreign policy is going to be imperial to a greater or lesser degree. So when faced with the choice of an intolerable(and possibly immoral) foreign policy and despicable domestic aims or an intolerable(and possibly slightly less immoral) foreign policy and a slightly less brutal domestic agenda, you go with the guy who gets it sort of half right over the guy who gets it totally wrong. I'd also prefer to ask a different question of Hitch. If we're stuck with the policy we have - and we are - then why does anyone really care if it's Kerry or Bush? They're both cynical political hucksters(and both quite clearly insane). The only difference is while one has the capability to be competent in the current situation, the other has demonstrated quite clearly otherwise.
It seems to me the "relief" offered by slightly favoring Bush is cold comfort.
More Bush On The Stump Inanity And Also NPR Still Not Liberally Biased
Shrubya's latest is a short description of Zarqawi , the man who has clearly replaced Osama as The Guy Shrub Spends His Time On. Shrubya makes the obvious statement of fact that Zarqawi was in Afgahnistan until Coalition Forces arrived - cue cheers from the jingo boneheads in the peanut gallery - and then moved to Iraq, where he is fighting us today. Shrubya then asks the question: "If Zarqawi and his allies weren't fighting us in Iraq, what does Senator Kerry think they'd be doing? Peaceful small business owners?..." ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Aside from Shrubya's failure to be funny, he really ought to be careful on this one. As MSNBC via Steve Gilliard makes clear, we really ought to be asking a second question. If we had a competent administration with a real counter-terrorism policy instead of a cynical imperial agenda, wouldn't Zarqawi and his people already be dead, and not fighting us in Iraq? The NPR commentators, blinded with liberal bias, couldn't bother to point this out.
However, when they contrasted Shrubya with Kerry, they really let that libreal bias hang out for all to see. Kerry has been going around to churches, giving speeches infused with declarations of his religious faith. NPR then managed to pose the obvious question. Why now? They then quoted some Democratic strategist as saying that Bush is obvious about his "faith", and Kerry needs to get out the Christian Dem vote, or something.
So what do we have? On one side a presentation of a string of ridiculous claims left uncorrected and uncontradicted, and on the other an obvious critique of a cynical electoral ploy. Liberal bias? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
Update:For some reason, today we keep crossing blog post topics with Laura Rozen , who has more details from the WSJ.
Laura Rozen Almost Steels From Us
In an effort to avoid the usual "why hasn't someone fired Rumsfeld?" let's do some random snark.
- Perhaps all of you who make the "personal responsibility" joke about this administration have misunderstood the intent of the phrase. Instead of meaning that the President takes personal responsibility for the massive screw ups of the entire administration, it actually means the low level person who screwed up gets the axe. See, it's personal responsibility.
- Maybe next time we decide to invade, occupy and "democratize" a country, we ought to put some people with the necessary expertise in charge, instead of corporate hacks, idealogues and effin' rich kids with no relevent expirience (driving ice cream trucks doesn't count).
- I already thought Grover Norquist was disgusting, and this weekend I watched Greg Palast's movie . In it, he interviews Norquist, who says something to the effect that ensuring property rights was the highest policy priority once we got to Iraq. Exactly. We ensured an angry populace the rights to obtain literally tons of explosives as property.
Friday, October 22, 2004
The Humble Blogger or Why We Shouldn't But Will Talk About Social Security
We avoid this topic (and others like it) because in order to intelligently discuss it, one has to have quite a grasp of the numbers and specific policies and their implications. In other words, you have to be an economist and a policy wonk, and we're neither. However, there are a few things to be said about privatizing that are safe bets without needing numbers or wonkish tendancies. It's impossible for us to get into the nuts and bolts of the various schemes to privatize. However, it's possible to ask the obvious question of the starve the beasters who claim privatization is the only way to go: ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
These guys don't have any interest in saving Social Security. In their minds it's evil, so why would they want to "save" Social Security in the first place? The only possible reason would be to render it ineffective. There may be a case to be made for privatization, but I wouldn't look for it from The Heretige Foundation, The Cato Institute, or Americans For Tax Reform. They'll more than likely give you the line that "The Market Will Take Care Of It Better Than The Government", which may be true now(although I doubt it), but that's because they've worked so damn hard to render the government ineffective in the first place. These think tanks are an integral part of a movement that's spent decades attempting to roll back the New Deal, the Great Society, and anything else that might be construed as a social safety net. I don't understand why, and, reading Mr. Krugman's Opus (the paperback version of which we finally got our hands on yesterday), it's apparent that even some free market economists don't either.
So what we have to offer the discussion is pretty simple. The drive to privatize Social Security is an idealogical one, not a practical one. Much like Krugman, we find it self evident that the the administration spends its time finding arguments to convince the public that what the administration wants to do is what the public has to do. So our gut reaction to Social Security privatization is much the same as it was to the Iraq war: don't let these guys do it.
How To Make Your Republican Friends say "RUFNKM?"
Speaking of talking points and the general destruction of discourse, I've discovered an admittedly obvious but great method to tell when someone is unprepared for an interview, and also lying. Bill Frist was on NPR this morning complaining about Demcratic Partisanship (RUFNKM??? Besides the whole pot and kettle thing, I thought partisanship was just part of how it all works) in the Senate. He used as an example the "historically unprecedented" blocking debate for the confirmation of 10 justices. When the interviewer, to his credit, countered with the fact that the Republicans had done much the same to Clinton, he simply repeated his statement, nearly word for word, but slower, as if the interviewer hadn't heard him. So there it is. Not only was Frist not prepared to be challenged (lazy bastard that he is), he knows he's just been caught in a lie, because he can only repeat the talking point.
Couldn't have happened to a nicer girl...
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Turn And Face The Stranger
9-11 didn't change ShrubCo at all. If you look back over the agenda from the 2000 campaign, from all aspects of policy, the goals haven't changed, and much of it is implemented. On the domestic front they wanted to cut taxes for the wealthy, favor business interest over the environment, give gifts to corporate donors, and further blur the line between church and state. All of these aspects of policy have remained invariant, have been implemented, and we'll get more of it (he promises!) if there's a second term.
As we never get tired of pointing out, the foreign policy is utterly consistent too. There has never been a "War On Terror", the administration has not, and will not ever have an interest in making the country safer. If they were, they might have paid a little more attention to Richard Clarke. What they have been interested in is the boondogle known as missle defense, and an invasion, occupation and Friedmanization of Iraq. 9-11 did what they needed: it scared all hell out of the American people. This gave them the cover they needed to implement a long standing policy aim. The little boys playing real-life Risk knew what they wanted, and when 9-11 happened, they knew they could get it.
As for Kerry, I imagine he wasn't changed by 9-11, because he'd been in government and foreign policy circles long enough to know that a 9-11, if not THE 9-11, was inevitable. He was likely ahead of the curve, as any thinking person who lived through the Reagan years would have been. I have to agree with McCain on this - Radical Islam WAS going to war with us, even if we weren't going to war with them, and I'm sure Kerry was aware of the potential for a 9-11 style attack. So maybe he didn't HAVE to be changed after 9-11.
I'm still left wondering what was supposed to change for Kerry, if nothing changed for ShrubCo.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Does Anyone Remember Laughter???
At one point in the Horowitz interview, he was challenged on a point of fact. He then attempted to be cleverly dismissive and say, "Yeah well, the sky is blue." The caller pointed out it's been raining all day, and maybe he should look out the window. The caller was right, by the way.
I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite bits from the Jack Benny radio show. The orchestra director is offering critiques to the band, and says, "Hey fellas, that was great, but next time try and play it with a little more piz...piz..Pistachio." Benny, flustered, screams, "It's 'Pizzicato'!! Jeez. When you GIVE YOU the wrong word you can't pronounce it!"
Predictable Is As Predictable Does
I hate his style of argument. He insists on absolute accuracy from his opponents, but he's allowed to make grand generalisations and when called on it, gets flippant and petulant. It was like that when he was on the left, too. I wish we lived in different times, where guys like this weren't taken seriously.
I will have to give props to Steiner, however. He is a master at politely calling people on their b.s. I wish I had his ability to sift through inanity without suddenly shouting "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?". His interview style in this conversation is a lost art to our mainstream media. He let the simple truth come out by asking straightforward questions, allowing his subject to tie themselves up. I also enjoyed his comment that "You've just re-written history." I get the feeling that's why he let Horowitz on, which isn't so bad.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Stupid Liberals And Their Interest In Balance
David Horowitz is a man made famous by once being on the extreme (dilettante) left, and now being on the extreme (chickenshit cry-baby) right. It's a typical journey constantly replayed by extremists who are more in love with their own voices than with constructing a good society(Marvin Olasky, another clueless sociopath, made a similar trek).
He made early splashes in the late civil rights era editing "Ramparts", being a Stalinist and hanging out with the Black Panthers. His writings from that time - pseudo-revolutionary hyperventilations to justify a simple premise - have dated pretty badly. All the dope smoke in the air of California college campuses made it easy to conflate gangsterism with a form of legitimate revolutionary protest. Plus, he was raised as some form of Communist, ergo the attraction to revolution in general.
In 1980 he decided to change sides and announced he'd voted for Reagan. He spent a large part of his time making speeches on college campuses, driving home the usual movement conservative talking points about tenured radicals and the evils of leftist oppression in universities. I think he's trying to protect students against being as dumb as he was. He's been toxic to race relations as well, going on record that certain black students got to college because of "handouts". As recently as last year he published a book laying out the case against slavery reparations.
His new beat is the now tired connection between the "radical left" - as typified by Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton it would seem(RUFNKM????) - and "radical Islam". The basic argument is that if you oppose the war in Iraq, you are in league with the Islamofacist movement. He tenously reasons that if you're against the war, you're a spawn of the 1960's counter-culture that reflexively sides with the enemy. You got that way because of the brainwashing Brave Mr. Horowitz has managed to break through using his unique ability to lurch rightwards. This is, actually, his standard pattern of reasoning on any given topic.
So, why should anyone care what this crank thinks? The only consistency he's shown is that of a political hack, attempting to maintain a position on whatever political vanguard is most profitable this year. His oft-admired "keen intellect" produces obvious truths(civil rights: good, Islamic fanatics: bad) dressed up with so called facts which are either incorrect or don't actually support his argument. Aside from polemics, he has no intellectual legacy(his political "nemesis, Chomsky, has a body of work outside of politics that reaches far beyond linguistics). His is a public life that for all its noise and gyrations should have remained private. We don't need him, we never did. So why do his tantrums matter at all?
Because he's dangerous. He's been floating just outside the mainstream long enough to be considered a respected writer and public intellectual. He gets props from people just for being who he is, and he has part of the national ear. So he gets to be on my favorite radio show and spout off. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME???
Update:If this post appears to have a personal edge to it, that's because there is one. Back in junior high, I had to read back issues of "Ramparts" as part of a class project, and I've never forgiven the horrible prose that wasted two days I could have spent reading William F. Buckley, who, though I disagree with him, is a much better writer.
I'm sure there's a company policy against ammoral behaviour too, but if you own the company, of course the rules don't apply to you.
This is one of the unpleasant facts of unregulated free markets Grover doesn't want you to hear. You allow this kind of consolidation, and it'll always be effin' jerks who take advantage of it. Noble Businessman my effin' ass.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Yes, Oh Yes
Stop, Stop, Stop, Stop worshipping Jon Stewart (or Why We Need More Brown States)
Begala and Carlson sputtered helplessly, and every time Stewart took a sanctimonious swipe at The Media, the studio audience applauded. Breathless, slobbering praise of Stewart’s coup spread around the blogosphere before he had even left the studio. Finally, we all thought, here’s someone with the guts to speak truth to power, to say what we responsible citizens had known all along: that these celebripundits are so concerned about their own careers that they are willing to take what should be our democracy-sustaining public discourse and turn it into an infomercial for their own egos. They are all exclamation points where they should be question marks. What a disappointment, right? What a moral failure, a dereliction of duty. Right?
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s true that Ann Coulter, Al Franken, Michael Moore, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and all the other screaming heads are sullying an opportunity for a public discussion of ideas for the sake of their own success. But how is it that they are able to do this? Who’s fattening their wallets? I’ll tell you: the very same people who were applauding Jon Stewart’s indignant digs in the Crossfire studio.
Why was Stewart going after Carlson and Begala when the real culprits were right behind him? These people spend hard earned money and take precious time out of their day to attend these impotent screaming matches, then applaud when Stewart tells them they’ve been had?
The “partisan hacks” wouldn’t be able to serve up their slop if millions of Americans weren’t licking their plates and asking for more. It’s these people that Stewart should be indicting, not the coiffed, suited service workers who are simply giving them what they want. As long as people are hungry for vacuous partisan bickering, the networks, cable, and any other electronic medium of communication will surely have it on the menu.
Speaking of giving the people what they want, let’s consider this presidential election. We complain about the candidates, we complain about special interests, we complain about a “divided America.” Well, we’re giving the people what they want. The blabberati (which, by nature of this post, I hesitatingly claim membership in)—especially the liberal blabberati—is quick to forget the simple principle of supply and demand. Americans who want to feel like they are involved in democracy but are too lazy to rub together the brain cells necessary to comprehend it demand a politically-themed distraction, and that’s what they get with shows like Crossfire. They see the haggling in the marketplace of ideas, and they are convinced they’ve gotten a good deal. They’ve done their duty—they’re informed enough to participate.
This is a scary enough picture of the mechanics of American democracy, but we’ve only considered Americans who purport to give a shit. What about Americans who don’t give a shit? They aren’t watching Crossfire. I can’t even venture a guess as to what they are doing. They’re certainly not informing themselves.
The very existence of these people pulls the rug out from under the “divided America” canard. America is divided, but not between red states and blue states, between the left and the right, between Patio Men and Bobos, no matter how cleverly stand-up sociologists like David Brooks* may try to convince you otherwise. No, America is divided between People Who Give a Shit and People Who Don’t Give a Shit. Sorry to reduce this to a John Waters-like metaphor, but I am a Baltimorean, and you have to admit—Waters has a way with turds.
In each of the last two presidential elections, only 54 percent of the voting age population bothered to vote, and turnout for local elections and presidential primaries was even lower. If more people don’t turn out for the 2004 election, that means about one quarter of the voting age population—one out of four people—will elect our president. Approximately 25 percent of the adults in this country will decide whether and why we are going to send our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances off to die. Fifty-four percent voter turnout—this nation is just about perfectly divided between People Who Give a Shit and People Who Don’t Give a Shit.
And don’t be so quick to include yourself in the former. Among the Shit Givers, people tend to commit the ecological fallacy—we surround ourselves with people who agree with us, and generalize that out to the rest of the population (“Hey, everyone feels this way!”). When we actually stumble across people from “the other side,” we caricature and demonize them. Every liberal has a conservative caricature; the liberal will chisel away at any real live conservative until he fits that mold. Conservatives do it, too.
But how well do we know our own ideas, much less those of the other side? For example, if you and I were to sit down and hash out whether unilateralism or multilateralism is better for foreign policy, it damn well better take at least a couple hours before we come even close to a conclusion.
Anyway, it’s not enough to simply give a shit. It’s not enough to register voters—who may be extremely uninformed on the issues—for your side. We have to make sure that the citizens of this country are informed, and they have to know that becoming informed is their responsibility—not Tucker Carlson’s, not Paul Begala’s, and certainly not Jon Stewart’s.
How do we do this? In two simple steps. First, never stop questioning your own beliefs. Sharpen your critical thinking skills. Converse respectfully and curiously with those who oppose your views. Get good information, and get it from each side. Challenge yourself. Make sure that the ideas you take into the voting booth are as sharp as they can be.
Second, don’t be timid. Despite all the boisterous, boorish confrontation on shows like Crossfire, in real life we have a very backslapping, tip-toeing culture. We’re very respectful of others’ freedom to not give a shit. So if you know people who aren’t planning on voting, try and convince them to get informed and vote. If you think someone hasn’t thought something through, engage him respectfully. If you see hypocrisy, call it out. (Just because you might have been hypocritical at some point doesn’t mean you are not allowed to point it out. It’s healthy for our system.) If you see apathy, call it out. Don’t be pedantic (I know, I know); just show apathetic people your passion for American democracy and hope that it's contagious. This doesn’t mean we should start talking politics at the dinner table, but certainly we can discuss it later over drinks.
Most of all, don’t forget that any problems with our system originate with the citizens who sustain it. Although the symptoms of the disease plaguing our democracy are most conspicuous at the top, they make their way out from the bottom.
* Personally, I’d like to see another Brooks—a.k.a. Comicus, the stand-up philosopher—replace David Brooks in the Times.
Pleasures of the text...
Apologies to all who came in over the weekend on recomendations from various other folks, including(but not limited to):
Democratic Veteran ,
Bolo Boffin , Dunner and Skippy , who are all on the roll...
I'll make a real post here
Friday, October 15, 2004
The Nature Of A Diss
Thursday, October 14, 2004
How Low Can You Go? Everybody Limbo...
Wonkette and Ken Layne, among others, have claimed that this last debate was boring, and on NPR this morning some undecided voter(why the eff do we care what these people think? Oh yeah, they're supposed to decide the election) complained that there were too many "wars of fact." ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? You people don't deserve representative democracy. We finally have a moderator asking questions that preclude mindless repetition of talking points. We finally get a debate where the candidates actually have to speak with some knowledge on topics of import to the country, and the best thing people can say is that it was bad TV. We listened to it on the radio - a matter of principle round these parts - so maybe I don't get the joke.
There is one reason I'm sorry I didn't see it on TV. My brother called about 45 minutes in and asked if we were watching it. I said no, we were listening. He said, "Well, then you won't get this joke." He then went into Bill Cosby's "hoof and mouth" riff for about 3 minutes, doing "they're gonna shoot us?" in Shrubya's voice, and "wipe that foam from around your mouth" in Kerry's. While he was doing this, his yuppie lawyer fiance could be heard cursing like a sailor in the background: "Bush you mother effin' liar!! Son of a...". When my brother finished his little comedy bit, he said, "Just a sec. Put the shoe down honey, we don't wanna buy another TV." DC Yuppies are cooler than SF yuppies.
It was nice to hear Shrubya stumble all over himself attempting to justify his positions. He can't talk about jobs, so he talks about education. I do wish he'd asked some teachers what they thought of No Child Left Behind. My understanding is that it encourages teachers to teach the test, not the material, which defeats the whole purpose of education, doesn't it? He can't talk about the economy so he talks about tax cuts. His suggestion that tax cuts put money in people's pockets is insulting. He managed to bring up the already discredited stats about Kerry's tax votes more than twice, which is irrelevant and silly and has lost it's terror effect. 1980 this ain't. We're in an economic decline due not to profligate spending and budget busting by liberal Democrats, but irresponsible tax cutting and ridiculous wartime spending. Big business, ShrubCo's real constituents, have gotten gift after Reaganomic gift for the past 3 years, and things have only gotten worse for most of us.
The Osama Gaffe was for me the quintessential indicator of how much ShrubCo hates us. When Shrubya says "I don't think I ever said 'I'm not worried about Osama'", he is spitting on every citizen. We know he said it, it's on the record in as many places as you care to look. Be he denies he said it, so he must not have, no matter what the record - never mind the liberal (RUFNKM???) media - says. Sound like divine right of kings anyone?
On the question of the Federal Marriage amendment, Kerry gave me the only reason I have so far heard for voting for him and not just against Bush. It was, in fact, as eloquent and succinct defense of liberalism that's been offered since that other Catholic JFK. In essence, he told us he is a man of faith, and his faith dictates certain things, like Gay Marriage Is Wrong. However, in our society we should not legislate faith, we should provide equal rights under the law. I say welcome back to the enlightenment, suckas. This leads us to...
...this whole Mary Cheney flap. I did think referring to the vice president's gay daughter was incautious and unnecessary. However, he wasn't outing her - she's probably the most high profile lesbian in the country. She did provide a decent point of reference for the aforementioned defense of liberalism. Lynn is now out making the rounds calling Kerry "not a good man". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? He used her as an example of those we should extend rights to. Remember, it's YOUR GUY and HIS PEOPLE that hate her for what she is. It's YOUR GUY and HIS PEOPLE that proposed the FMA. I don't think Lynn's really mad about that though. The Cheney's, like the rest of ShrubCo, think they are above public scrutiny. Sullivan actually(I know, I know) makes a good case for how the wingnuts making this complaint is demonstration of blatant homophobia. This is probably the last time I will compliment him on anything.
The last 15 minutes of the debate were pointless. I don't go for the emotional "how human are you? how religious are you?" questions. I know some people think how a candidate answers questions like these indicates something important, but I don't. I did like Kerry's "marrying up" joke, and my girlfriend sneered at Shrubya's "I listen to them and stand up straight" joke. Hey Shrubya, it's the 21st century, most adult women don't think it's their job to mother grown men. But maybe you do need mothering. It might be the only way you can sleep at night.
In Case You Felt Like Showing Up
The Jitterbug With Foxy Judith, Wes And My Canadian Malt Liquor Hangover
Back in SF I did have cable for a while, so I watched Fox a few times. My reaction was always "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?" How anyone could watch Hannity or O'Reilly or Hume without feeling like they'd just had their intelligence insulted was beyond me(later I realized that I was in what appeared at the time to be a small minority). They even treated Newt Gingrich as if something other than offal exited his mouth when he opened it. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? However, my heavy heart during BushCo Year One was made light any given sunday with Judith Reagan - a fragrant all grown (and wised) up Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex In The City" - bemoaning the loss of honor, strength and truth in American life, then turning around and having a long segment with Dick Morris.
Clark is the effin' man. My father had a good laugh at my expense when I told him I was involved in the Clark campaign. "You realize you've just thrown yourself into the campaign of a man slightly to the right of Eisenhower?" Well, yeah, but we live in Goldwater Times, so those distinctions don't make sense anymore. Clark is probably the smartest(if not the most cunning) man in our public life. Plus, he has the cred and the physical prowess to boot all these phony He-Men who make up the current administration and its admirers back to their momma's apron strings where they can whine and cry. It was like having Colonel Nick Fury(Steranko '69 version) running for president.
Now I'm sure some could accuse me of pulling a Sullivan here("Oh my he's so tough and hard it makes me just want to whip it out and jerk it whenever you say 'war on terr'!!!"), but they'd be wrong. First off, my girlfriend would be pretty pissed with me if she thought I'd gone gooey for Clark. Second, it's pretty damn rare that you get to engage in hero worship of a public figure whose hero status isn't completely a product of a marketing department. Third, if we're gonna be at war, I figured it'd probably be a good idea to have someone who actually ran a successful war in modern times, and understands the (OH NO!) nuance of fighting a war with non-state actors. You know, the whole "right man for the job" thing.
An aside: I got a letter from James Lee Whit and Associates yesterday. Evidently the effin' man works for them in their new Arkansas office. Good for him.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Shock And Aw Shucks
I've stated it before, and I'll state it again. The foreign policy in which we are currently engaged was completely predictable before BushCo took office, 9/11 or no 9/11. There wasn't some shadowy conspiracy of neo-con theorists secretly plotting under cover of night to take us to war in Iraq. The PNAC and their policy positions have never been secret. On the contrary, since its inception it has been an intellectual clearinghouse for exactly what our foreign policy has become. They publish their reports on their website in public view and state their positions in a frank and open manner in the pages of such papers of record as The Weekly Standard, Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post.
The reasons to point this out aren't to create some scary bogeyman Michael Moore style conspiracy paranoia. When someone tells the entire public what they intend to do with power the public might give them, it's a little ridiculous for the public to act surprised when that someone goes and does it. What is scary is not that eight people have taken over the government - that's the way things have been running since Nixon at the very least - but that we didn't have a debate on the merits of what those eight people wanted to do when it was quite obvious from their stated positions. As early as 1998, both Cheney and Rumsfeld, at that time members of the PNAC, had urged Clinton to attack Iraq without proof of WMD and without provocation. It's not paranoia to take people at their word even if it's not on the front page of the NYT.
To discuss why this wasn't part of the discourse is to walk onto Somerby's beat. However, in case you missed it, while Bush was out on the campaign trail advocating a more humble foreign policy, the people he intended to put in charge of foreign policy had very different ideas. It was a simple question. "Governor, how do you reconcile your more humble aspirations with the stated goals of Secretary Cheney and his colleagues?" Did anyone ask? Frankly, I don't remember. There certainly was guarded discussion of it in the debates in 2000, but from a skim of the parts of the transcripts that mention Iraq, there's lots of equivocation from both sides about needing a "stronger position" and "toughening the sanctions". There's also some statements to the effect that if Saddam had WMD, we would "take him out".
You can read about all of this at places like Common Dreams but since that was published in 2003, that isn't the point. The point is that although wonky policy papers are often boring to read, it's the job of the press to coalesce them into something we can all understand. The failure of the press to do so is a failure that goes back years. It's not liberal bias or conservative bias. It's the fact that until there are explosions in the cities and corpses in the streets, our media doesn't want to cover it. They had a chance to warn us, and they didn't. Now that's scary.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Yet more Sin Lair
Wait, wait, I realized that not everyone here reads all the other blogs on the blogroll, so, quick context: Sinclair Broadcasting is a media company owning some 62 television stations nation wide. They are located right here in Hunt Valley. Their CEO, David D. Smith was arrested in 1996 in a sting for getting a blowjob from a prostitute on Falls Road. The company is owned by Smith and two of his brothers, and they are avid Republican donors. They have gotten certain contracts for their generosity. Earlier this year they forbid their ABC affiliates from broadcasting Ted Koepel reading the names of all the soldiers who had died in Iraq up to that point. Now the are forcing their affiliates to broadcast some crazy piece of propaganda produced by the same people who brought you Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. One of the reps has been on CNN comparing the major news networks to holocaust deniers.
However, all us Baltimoreans can help stop this abuse of media privilege by calling the local businesses listed here and following the instructions here .
The Sin Lair
The article from the Sun is a pay article in their archives.
By the way, I'm not a big proponent of the politics of personal destruction. As I've said before, anyone who runs for office is already a psycho and a liar. However, David Smith isn't running for anything, and he's abusing my airwaves that he gets to use for free. So eff him.
Also, I had a post up yesterday, which I deleted, calling for some sorta lame protest at their headquarters, since they're so close to me. However, I realize that sort of civil action just don't cut it anymore. Better to hit'em where it hurts.
Update: For what it's worth, our local Sin Lair affiliates are represented at this site, which I must say is one of the slowest sites I have ever visited. They have a poll asking whether or not they should run the documentary. When I took the poll it was something like a 63%/36% against running it, which I imagine is a good sign.
Monday, October 11, 2004
In their article, they quote a co-worker of theirs with some derision. "Anyone who's anyone lives there[Federal Hill]". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? As Baltimore's Finest Trash points out, no matter what you do, it's still Baltimore. I would have to add that no one Who Is Anyone aside from maybe John Waters lives anywhere in Baltimore. There's not a ton of "movers and shakers" in the irritating hipster sense. That's one of the reasons I love this place so much. You almost never have to deal with people who think that residence in a city immediately apportions the glamour and history of that city to them. Maybe that's because, as Baltimore's Finest points out, the glamor here isn't of the Channel and Prada veriety. Can you imagine "Sex In The City" taking place in Baltimore? I can't, thank god.
Their article is also well worth reading for a description of yet another form of the market steamroll effect, this one not in an urban center. Of course, free-market theoritsts will say that it's the fault of the legislated affordable housing that created this boon to development which caused the steamrollers. I totally disagree with this, but that'll have to come later.
In Praise Of...
Friday, October 08, 2004
why surfing through the blogosphere makes my head hurt
"And all of this rage and fury and spitting and tearing up of signs, all of these insults and spinmeisters and forgeries and all the rest, seem to come down to the fact that about half the country thinks you deter this sort of thing by being nice, while the other half thinks you deter this by being mean.
It's really just that simple."
ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?? Is this what people really think the whole debate is about? Since I like to set straw men on fire....
I'm part of that half of the country that thinks Iraq was a mistake. Yet I have no interest in being nice to anyone, least of all anyone who doesn't live in Hampden, so clearly that includes "the terrorists". I'm sure many of my lefty friends feel the same way(with probably a little less parochialism towards people who don't live in Hampden - I tell them "spend a month in SF, you'll feel differently"), as they've said as much. There isn't a niceness advocate among them. Most of us would prefer that the Islamofacists were all dead or in prison, or at least would leave us the eff alone. You noticed they aren't? You notice there are more of them everyday? You wondered why?
The debate about "the war on terror", and thus the presidential election, alas, isn't about being effin' nice or being effin' mean, it's about how we should best devote our limited resources to preventing another 9-11. It really comes down to the fact that half the country thinks you deter this by being smart, and the other half of the country thinks you deter this by being stupid.
There are some people who think that the best thing to do would be to secure our borders, enact policies for defense of the "homeland"(oh christ), and then kill the bastards in their sleep.
Then there are people like this Bill person who have fallen for an effective demagogue and think that, because Mr. Bush made a nice speech that was written for him by someone else, somehow invading Iraq was a great way to show that you do not eff with us. 9-11 managed to release his inner tough guy that just wants to come out swinging against any and all comers. I agree with the sentiment, but it's incomplete.
I got no love for any of the Axis of Evil. I don't think we should pet them or give them flowers, or let any members of their governments date my daughter. I do think that there's a better way to deter them from attacking us than by invading a country and pissing off everyone who lives there. See, the whole Islamofacist movement is a movement and is therefore driven by numbers. The more people get driven to their ranks the worse it gets. The best way to kill it is to starve its base of support, not increase it. The Bush Doctrine hasn't done that, it's done the reverse. Thanks Mr. Bush!
Oh, and by the way, Mr. Tough Minded, I should point out that I have no interest in shipping off the half of the country that disagrees with me. Maybe that's where we differ? I think the minute you start talking like that, you may as well convert to Islam and join up the Al Queda, because that's the same kind of bullshit they want the right to practice - different flavor, but it's the same brand.
When Politics Is A Drag
On Tuesday the Republican House leadership made a cynical decision to bring my national service legislation (H.R. 163) up for a vote with no notice, no hearings, and no consideration.
This is legislation that I introduced at the beginning of last year that would instate a draft -- requiring all young people to perform some sort of national service and subjecting them all equally to the possibility of military service.
I felt that too much would be asked of our so-called "volunteer" army made up primarily of young men and women from inner cities and small towns who join the service for economic and educational opportunities not available to them in their disadvantaged communities. I also opposed the war and felt that if the wealthy and privileged were faced with the possibility of having to send their own children to war, the political support for this elective war would disappear.
I always knew the issue of a draft would be controversial and it should be. But what the Republican Leadership did was to bring up the bill on "the Suspension Calendar" -- normally reserved for ordinary, non-controversial bills such as the naming of local post office branches. They did not bring the bill up because they supported it or even because they opposed it. (Most of them never read it even though it's only 12 pages.)
The reason they brought up the bill was to make a cynical political statement a month before the election. They thought they could address the public's suspicion that a draft will be necessary if Bush and the Republicans are re-elected if they held this surprise vote a month before the election.
Not only was this an abuse of the House of Representatives, but it also won't work.
The rumors of a draft are not due to my bill. They are due to the Bush Administration's failed Iraq policy. It is now clear that they did not have a plan when they went into Iraq. This week we learned that former US Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer has even declared that the lack of enough troops on the ground created "an atmosphere of lawlessness" that has made it difficult to stabilize Iraq. Recently, the Commander of the Iraq forces, General John Abizaid said that more troops are needed to secure Iraq's scheduled January elections. And The New York Times (Sept. 27) reported the Army is preparing to keep troops at the current
levels in Iraq through 2007. All this when we all know that the National Guard and Reserve members have been recycled over and over and a back door draft is forcing people to re-enlist.
Where are we going to get all of these troops? I don't know. And neither do millions of Americans. So, they are rightly worried about a draft.
They deserve more than just an empty gesture. So do our troops, who are still on the ground, and left with the message that we couldn't take the time to discuss their situation and what should be done to relieve them. That's why I voted against this cynical ploy and told my fellow Democrats that this was not a serious vote.
I truly believe that if we continue Bush's failed policies in Iraq, a military draft will be unavoidable. Certainly, the idea that sacrifices should be shared in time of crisis is an issue that we must address. The Republicans want to sweep the sacrifices of the war in Iraq under the rug for their own political gain. We cannot let them get away with it.
Please pass this message on to your concerned friends and encourage them to visit www.charlierangel.org and click on he "Learn More" section near the poll for more information.
Charles B. Rangel
Member of Congress
I think that this is a prefectly sensible position. Given all the talk about troop strength, how can either candidate say that we'll be staying in Iraq and at the same time promise there won't be a draft? I hope this is something talked about in the debate tonight.
Liars, Flop-Flippers Etc...
It is impossible for any candidate to be correct - let alone be in agreement with a majority of the population - on the sheer number of issues. Not only that, given the preponderance of litmus tests as shortcut indicators for how they'd implement policy, can you blame any candidate for either lying about their position if they have one, or nuancing a position if they just don't care? If candidates actually said what they thought, no one would get any votes, or at least not get enough to actually win any particular election.
So when people start talking about "character", I immediately want to say ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? The guy is running for president, it's obvious he doesn't have any! If he had any decency at all, he'd go out and do something useful with his time, especially something he might be qualified for. So Kerry and Edwards should be lawyers, Shrub should be a bartender and Cheney should be a sports commentator. I think we'd all be better off.
I know it sounds like I'm trivialising the grave times in which we live, but I'm not. My point is that for some reason, our culture has internalised the notion that our elected leaders are supposed to be "better" than us, in some way. This hero worship is dangerous, at least in my mind, because the same line of reasoning leads to divine right of kings, which we should despise. Instead, we should look at their ability to formulate and implement policy that would be good for the country. It's an elective office for a reason.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Is It Really So Strange?
Then I realized it's not so strange after all. The Howler folks actually GIVE A SHIT, and Wonkette doesn't. DUH. So we're takin' Wonkette off the blogroll, because we ain't got time for people who don't give a shit. Of course, this won't effect anyone's traffic, but it's a statement anyway.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
On Our Way To RIches
Did it ever occur to anyone who constantly claims the media has a liberal bias that a liberal bias might be a good thing? Coulter, Limbaugh, and the rest have opinions that are without merritt. They're wrong about everything except that there used to be a bias against them. Why should the media give them any coverage at all(ON MY AIRWAVES)? Oh, because a very loud minority of the country agrees with them? Great.
So when do us Trosts, Marxists and Bakunanists get equal time?
I'm sayin' it once and I'll say it again. Anyone who promulgates, accepts, or gives credence to the "liberal bias" critique is an effin' moron, and a hack and needs shut the eff up and get a real job.
This is precious.
What's The Matter With Hampden? Intro: Or Urban Class Tourist Helps Destroy Heaven Even As He'd Like To Preserve It
This August marked the beginning of my third year living in Hampden. When I first moved to Baltimore, I didn't know anyone, and I didn't know much about the place except that "Homicide" took place here, the crabs were good, and Martin O'Malley was profiled in Esquire because he was, among other things, handsome and white in a city that was majority not white(shades of Jerry Brown in Oakland? - more on that later).
I spent the first six months living in the county, since I wanted some time to get a feel for the city before I took the advice of a native Baltimorean I had known in SF and moved to Federal Hill. I wasn't about to do that, because given the type of guy he was, it was obvious that he was recommending the area of town that every city must now possess in order to get the upwardly mobile cash flow. It's the area of the city whose construction appeals to upper-middle class folks who want city life without the mess. It's the area of town with a plethora of upscale bars with over-priced micro-brews, lots of overly styled white folks who walk the streets with what a cab driver in SF once described as that "arrogant swagger of entitlement only rich people who've never worked a day in their lives can have"(I swear I didn't make that up - you want lucidity on the topic of displacement, ask a native who's reduced to driving a cab). It's the area of town where suddenly every old building has been converted to "loft style apartments". It's the area of town where someone has gone to a lot of effort to create the appearance of something "happening". In short it's Disnurbia, and it sucks.
The guy who made the recommendation could be forgiven for thinking I should move to a place like that, because at the time I was making plans to move I was living in a loft in SOMA(this is a long complex story that involves heartbreak, psychosis, 9/11, financial dissolution and betrayal, but it's not nearly as interesting as that might sound). Although in SF I did live South of Market for a year and half, my real home was always the Lower Haight, where I lived the majority of the 10 years I spent in that city by the other bay. The rent was cheap, the houses were old, the people who owned the houses had been there for years if not generations. Sure, it was dangerous - the joke was that before the earthquake destroyed the Central Freeway you didn't even DRIVE into Lower Haight - but it was a simple matter to let the local thugs know you weren't going to upset business and they'd leave you alone. The Lower Haight never faced the problems of the Mission(where tons of upper middle class white hipsters moved in the mid 1990's and managed to displace pretty much half the working class Mexican population, and now is so expensive not even your average $100,000 a year tech worker can afford to live there). I think partly it was because at the time I moved it was still considered the second most dangerous place in SF, and was surrounded by Hayes Valley, Cole Valley, The Castro, and the Upper Haight, which were all far safer, far cleaner, and far more hip. The Lower Haight, on the other hand, contained bars, interesting people, some great old buildings, and the best view of the city possible.
When I did finally meet people in Baltimore, it turned out that although they didn't know each other, they lived a block apart in a neighborhood I'd never heard of, called Hampden. I did a little research, discovered that it was mostly white, mostly working class, and cheap. I was a little freaked out by the "mostly white" part, since I'd never lived anyplace "mostly white". But it has bars, great architecture(have you seen the old churches here?), and a reputation for being "heaven for anyone". And since I was down and out and hoping to find a home, it seemd(and still seems) perfect. When I met a married couple who'd just bought a house here, and they needed a tennant for their basement apartment, I took the opportunity and haven't looked back.
But of course, there are problems. Hampden is now going through its own gentrification, and because of that, property taxes for a population that goes back generations are rising. Families that could once afford a comfortable life on fairly meagre means are having to sell their homes and rent(who knows where?). This state of affairs is breeding a fair bit of resentment. I haven't felt it personally(my skills as class tourist are by now impeccable so no one sees me as the enemy, at least not yet), but you can hear it discussed in the local bar, and evidently the Community Council has lots to say on the matter. This is a replay of what happened in SF 6 years ago, and if I'm right, it's going to get damn ugly.
So what's the matter with Hampden? From the local's point of view, those damn rich kids, yuppies and elitists are coming in, making things expensive, being drunk and obnoxious, taking up all the parking, and driving up the cost of everything, making it harder to raise their children, take care of their elderly and look out for one another. They're starting to get mad, and they're right. Why should I live in Hampden and wreck their hood when I can afford to live in the Disnurbia O'Malley built just for people like me? They'll want me out because when the market starts to roll, it rolls over them and puts me on top.
I'm not sure who they blame in the large sense yet, but it'll probably be "those liberals" before too long. I have heard more than once that "Hampden used to be a great place until all those art people showed up and made it weird". So why not? Baltimore has been a one party town for nearly a century, so it's the Democrats who haven't done anything to stop this, and more than likely the Democrats won't do anything. Gentrification of this sort is considered an urban success, not a failure, and since government has been willfully stripped of its power to work for people in this situation, nothing can stop it.