31 October 2004

Amnesiagra's New Bluer Pill

I was formerly quite upset over the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. In particular, I was troubled by the mismatched between my long-term memories of U.S. complicity with Iraq and Saddam Hussein and the accounts of Bush's glorious war against Saddam's evil empire. U.S. complicity is well-documented. For example, Richard Sale, the UPI Intelligence Correspondent, recounted, after numerous interviews with the officials involved, the CIA's assistance to Saddam Hussein and others in their attempted 1959 assassination of Iraqi PM Qasim, as well as financial support and training provided to Saddam while he was in Beirut. It's likely that the U.S. was also behind the coup that killed Qasim in 1963. The CIA then supplied the Iraqi National Guard with lists of suspected communists to be rounded up and killed. The CIA also delivered intelligence to Saddam after Iraq attacked Iran and provided direct military support by blinding Iranian radar (in legal terms, an act of war) in February 1988 in the Al-Fao peninsula. The U.S. also provided the weaponry that Saddam later used against the Kurds.

So in short, the U.S.: (1) supported Saddam's rise to power; (2) supported his large scale massacre of innocent civilians, (3) supported his war of aggression against a neighboring country; and (4) supported his ethnic cleansing campaign.

I found all of this highly upsetting until I discovered Amnesiagra, the new little blue pill, subsidized by the new Bush health plan, that is designed to get rid of all those troublesome long-term historical memories. For months now, I've been religiously taking my daily Amnesiagra dose. And it worked well. Until recently . . .

You see recently, in spite of this new wonder drug, I've been troubled by the incongruity of my short-term memories. You see, just a few days back I listened wide-eyed to Deputy Undersecretary for Defense John Shaw explain that there was intelligence that the French were involved in the removal of the explosives from the al-Qaqaa depot before the war began last year and that some Russian units on the eve of hostilities were running around collecting munitions to haul them to Syria. This made perfect sense to me as something those shifty-eyed French and Russians would do. But then I heard of a video purportedly showing U.S. troops at the site with what appeared to be IEAE seals on the doors of the bunker! Kay, the former chief weapons inspector said on CNN: "The seal was broken [by U.S. troops] and, quite frankly, to me the most frightening thing is not only is the seal broken and the lock broken, but the soldiers left after opening it up." The video has evidently been verified. The Pentagon later cleared up the mess by explaining that the U.S. troops had actually taken the weapons away and destroyed them. Of course, with my short-term memory still intact, I found these stories most confusing, and I was troubling by the question: Where were the Pentagon people when the Bush administration was blaming the disappearance of the weapons on the Russians! This is, needless to say, all very very upsetting stuff.

This was until yesterday. I went to my doctor and asked him if I could try to new Ultra-strength Amnesiagra, designed to get rid of even those pesky short-term memories. This deep blue pill has worked wonders for me. After a single dose, I can now see that that it was U.S. troops who took away the weapons. And the U.S. has, I'm sure, always been opposed to Saddam, has always stood up against political murders of innocent civilians, unprovoked attacks, ethnic cleansing and the like. In fact, now that I've taken my medication, the entire Republican platform makes much more sense to me. So I would like to advise all my former wimpy liberal friends on the Progressive Blog Alliance:

Vote for Bush!

And Try the new Ultra-strength Amnesiagra!

29 October 2004

Some more qaaqa

So now it turns out that the Bush administration's contention that some member of the Axis of Dastardly White Folk (the Russians, French and Germans) rushed into Iraq during the middle of the war and spirited away the Al Qaa Qa weapons is . . . a bunch of qaaqa. It turns out that an embedded Minnesota TV crew video-taped the site, the weapons, and U.S. troops cutting the IEAE seals. Of course during the next few days prior to the election, we'll have to "investigate" whether this video is authentic and listen to the pundits explain that there's a "very real possibility" that the video was staged and the TV station is lying, or that it is "entirely plausible" that the entire video was beamed to us from an interstellar civilization bent on destroying American democracy and our way of life. This is all fine. I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this and discover another cover-up months later when this no longer matters. My question is why does the media have to investigate this at all? Clearly, the U.S. military must have known about this all along. This wasn't some top secret Al Qaeda site buried under a mountain after all, but was a large complex that had been identified and sealed off by the IEAE!

28 October 2004

Some Very Real Possibilities

According to a recent article, the Bush administration now claims that the Russians and/or French spirited away the weapons from the Al Qa Qaa depot prior to the invasion. This is really quite a claim, if you think about it. The weapons were reportedly secured by the UN prior to the invasion, so now we are to believe that a team of Russians slipped into the country and carried away tons of explosives in order to . . . uhmmm . . . provide a story years later during Bush's re-election. Those Russians and French might wander around half drunk on wine and vodka with their nose up in the air, but ya gotta watch-em. They're a sneaky lot. Just when you think you got them under control, they run over and steal explosives from Third-World dictators when we aren't watching (OUR VERY OWN THIRD WORLD DICTATORS--BOUGHT AND PAID FOR!). That's why we need a tough man in the White House. He won't allow such monkey-business, or at least, he'll stomp his feet and curse if it does happen.

Of course, these wild claims about the Russian and French Axis of Dastardly White Folk are not put forth with complete confidence. We are merely told that Saddam's complicity in this Russian bomb-stealing scenario is a "very real possibility." This is an interesting way to hedge one's statement. Of course, millions of things are conceivably within the realm of possibility--an expression that covers a pretty large swath of ground. Semantically speaking, the Bush administration must be praised for its creativity. How can something that is possible be described as "very real"?

Perhaps we need to all adopt the new semantics. It is, I suppose, a "very real possibility" that Bush will keel over tomorrow from an overdoes of mismunched pretzels. And if this happens, it's a "very real possibility" that many of us will go visit his grave and do a little jig before we collectively spit on it. And it's a "very real possibility" that the American people will wake up from their patriotic stupor some day and realize they've been following a con-man the last 4 years.

Homo floresiensis

A miniature human species (thought to be a version of Homo erectus) has been discovered in Indonesia. The bones of this species have now been identified and possibly some hair, raising the possibility that scientists will be able to conduct DNA tests. The previously unknown human cousins barely a metre tall are thought to have survived until at least 13,000 years ago on the island of Flores. Homo floresiensis along with the island's elephants underwent a dwarfing process as a result of living on an island with limited resources (a well-documented phenomenon). Since modern human beings also descended from Homo erectus, remains of this new species may open the way for a genetic analysis of what our ancestors looked like a million years ago. (All the bones discovered so far of Homo erectus have been fossilised and therefore lack retrievable DNA.)

Some have speculated, on the basis of Flores myths, that Homo floresiensis may have survived longer--perhaps even into the modern period. This makes me wonder--Are stories of elves and so on in Britain based on some early memory of similar Homo erectus cousins living in Europe? I'm reminded of the movie Quest for Fire (1982), an amazingly realistic movie that portrays early man as he first discovered how to use fire. (The cavemen in the movie, even have their own primative language--based on early Indo-European, that is left untranslated!) When I first saw the movie, I remember thinking that the existence of multiple species of human being seemed to disagree with what we know of evolution, but it now looks like the movie's creators may have had it right. Incidently, I would highly recommend this film to those who haven't seen it.

Homo floresiensis, in spite of a miniature brain, was able to hunt, use fire and tools, and could probably travel at least short sea distances by bamboo raft.

Pharyngula and Scrutiny Hooligans have nice posts on the story.


Last night, I watched the lunar eclipse. I was amazed at how red the moon turned. At one point when the sunlight was hitting only the outermost edges, the moon looked like a three-dimensional balloon just a couple 100 meters up in the air. I have a question for the more scientific-minded folks. At certain points, I saw what looked like sparks in the space just off the dark end of the moon. Were these stars that suddenly became visible due to a sudden dimming of the moon's luminescence? Or were these firecrackers lit by some stranded astronauts? (Or perhaps a mining operation in preparation for future drilling operations in Alaska?)

26 October 2004

Them sneaky bulldozers at Al Qa Qaa

Talking Points Memo provides a good summary of the Al Qa Qaa story: "Iraq's Al Qa Qaa bunker and weapons complex had roughly 350 tons of high explosives under IAEA seal. After the war, for whatever reason, the complex was either not guarded at all or inadequately guarded. And all those explosives (primarily RDX and HMX) were carted away. What we're talking about here isn't just a bunch of dynamite. This encyclopedia entry says RDX 'is considered the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives.' And not 350 pounds, 350 tons."

The Sydney Morning Herald passes on reports that the weapons removal took about a year and "was carried out by experts with heavy machinery and demolition equipment." After the invasion, the weapons were no longer watched by the IAEA. To remove the weapons dozens of sites (large numbers of buildings, etc.) were dismantled!

Rook's Rant rants, "Now, you'll forgive me, but our ports are inadequately guarded as well. And since 350 tons of RDX and HMX just waltzed out of Iraq, I can easly imagine some of this explosive material waltzing into our country. Tell me again how invading Iraq makes us safer? On top of this, there is also the fact of our administration knowing this material was gone, and did not report it to the IAEA! And they further ordered the Iraqi 'government' to not report the missing explosives as well. Gee, can you spell 'cover up?'"

Ratboy's Anvil properly asks, "The question is how could any invading force NOT secure such a huge and dangerous stockpile of explosives? Does it not prove beyond doubt the degree of incompetency with which the Bush adminstration has prosecuted this war?" Mouse Musings provides a timeline for this story.

Steve Gilliard, in a "letter to a security mom", has the following to say about the story: "The President is not fighting an effective war on terror. He has left America more dangerous than how he found it. From ignoring the warnings of an attack before 9/11, to the war in Iraq, President Bush has let your family down and placed them in more danger. Not only from terrorism at home, but in fighting his war in Iraq, a war which has not made one American safer. I know you're busy, but instead of giving you a bunch of links, google the topics here, get your own information and make up your own mind. You will be surprised at what you aren't seeing on the nightly news and on cable."

This incident has of course added fuel to Kerry's criticism of Bush's incompetence in Iraq. It's almost laughable now to think of Bush and Powell, advising us with all seriousness that the U.S. had to invade Iraq since the weakwilled U.N. would never be able to prevent the spread of Iraqi weapons.

Tacitus, in a recent post, disputes the quantity of weapons. Spontaneous Arising, Lazy Left, Redwood Dragon, Thudfactor, Greg's Opinion, At Ease, Hullabaloo, the LA Times, and Relevanta have some related posts on those sneaky militants who bulldoze in the night.


I recently read Daniel Altman’s new book Neoconomy (2004). Altman provides an excellent analysis of the Bush administration’s economic policy. The book chiefly deals with the Bush taxcuts and their lasting significance for the U.S. economic outlook as well as their constraining influence on future decision-making.

Bush taxcuts were aimed at priming the stagnant economy. The American people were told that these mammoth cuts would lead to a significant increase in spending, which would help to jumpstart the economy. But an exhaustive study by Karen Dynan (Federal Reserve), Jonathan Skinner (Dartmouth) and S. Zeldes (Columbia) has clearly shown that spending by the wealthy tends to increase very slowly with increased income, with the implication that the federal government would have been much better off providing tax cuts for the poor—especially the working poor. This great handout to the wealthy—which will costs Americans a decade worth of surpluses—also seems to have done little to spur investment. Wealthy Americans, receiving this bonus during a stagnant period, often invested this money in overseas operations, earning them income that will probably go untaxed.

In the book, Altman laments the opportunity costs of the Bush taxcuts, pointing out that the same surplus could have been used to increase the number of teachers by 50% or to make the first year of college free. There are some great gems in Altman’s book, such as the following remark about the unfairness of the cuts:

“A person making $500,000 got a tax cut that was 59 times the size of the one for the person making $20,000 . . . Does the person who earns $500,000 a year need to pay 59 times the rent in order to live in a place that makes her just as happy? Or eat food that costs 59 times as much?” (Neoconomy)

Altman goes on to predict dire consequences of the cuts in the future, suggesting that these taxcuts, in addition to being intrinsically unfair, lead to economic inefficiency:

“. . . access to opportunities may differ. That can be a problem. In a world driven solely by economic efficiency, the young people with the highest aptitudes for leading productive lives would receive the most education and training, so that society might best exploit their talents. In America, it doesn’t always work that way. Children who grow up in poor areas typically have access to fewer resources . . . than their wealthier counterparts . . . As long as money mediates access to opportunities, inequality will continue to create economic inefficiencies.” (Neoconomy, pp. 238, 239)

* Incidently, Neoconomy is the first book I've run across that actually uses a blog as a source. We bloggers are coming up in the world, eh?

25 October 2004

Another species on the endangered list!

I recently read Sykes book Adam's Curse. Sykes has an excellent talent for explaining important discoveries in the field of genetics in a way that laymen can understand. Unlike Syke's earlier book that traced female lineages through mitochondrial DNA, Adam's Curse looks at the male Y Chromosome. Pointing out the disproportional distribution of specific Y Chromosomes in the modern population, Sykes comes to some startling conclusions, such as the fact that huge swaths of modern populations are probably all descended from Ghengis Khan. In the books final chapters, Sykes claims that the Y Chromosome is in pretty sorry shape and will completely fall apart in the next 100,000 years or so making men extinct barring some technological fix--the most likely of which is to take the key parts of the Y Chromosome and graft them onto a healthy X Chromosome (creating a male with two X Chromosomes!) So anyway, to all you men out there, enjoy having the upperhad while you've got it: we're going extinct!

Syke's The Seven Daughters of Eve is another excellent book that traces virtually everyone of European descent back to 7 women.

24 October 2004

Soldiers follow Shrub's example

Pesky' Apostrophe reported the following news:

Speaking of soldiers, there’s a report out today that more than one third of former soldiers in the Ready Reserves recalled to active duty recently have failed to report to duty. 4,166 former soldiers have been called so far. 1,671 in the Ready Reserves have requested delays or exemptions. 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. Looks like the military had better get busy recruiting. After all, with the military action in Iraq and the need for increased troop pressure, the military action in Afghanistan and the increased violence there, and all the preemptive strikes we would have to make should there be another four years of Bush, well, let’s just say it seems like the military would come up short for its needs.

One aspect of the current administration's heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve soldiers that is often ignored by the media is the heavy costs shouldered by businesses, which are required to keep the soldier's job open until they return. These businesses must therefore hire and train temp workers only to let them go later. In many cases, the reserve soldiers run businesses themselves. Needless to say, most businesses can't maintain operations if the person disappears for a year and a half or longer (while many deployments are technically one-year long, the training prior to deployment often takes 3 to 6 months.) The refusal to report to duty probably reflects many soldiers' frustration with the Shrub administrations use of reserves for policing operations instead of for a major crisis (I don't see how pre-emptive attacks can count as a major crisis).

My advice to anyone thinking of joining the military would be to ignore the enlistment period. If you sign on the dotted line, you'll be in the military indefinitely as the government extends your enlistment with an assortment of stop-loss provisions and other nonsense. Many of the people getting extended on stoploss are technically in for another 30 years, or until their stop-loss is rescinded. Even after you think you're out and placed in the so-called "Inactive Reserves," you stand a very good change of being called up. The only way you're going to serve only your original enlistment period in the current climate is to declare yourself a CO (in which case you might get out or might end up in prison) or follow Bush's example and simply not report to duty. (I wonder if the National Guard and Reserve units will be as understanding with these soldiers as they were with Bush.)

23 October 2004

It's the water, and a lot more.

Blanton's and Ashton's has an excellent post on the hypocrisy of Armitage's recent defense of Allawi, who has been accused of personally carrying out summary executions of prisoners. Myself, I don't get it. Has the U.S. government placed a historical amnesia elixir in our drinking water? How is it possible for everyone to collectively forget U.S. support for Saddam, Saddam's support for Allawi, Chalabi's conviction for bank fraud, Armitage and other administration hack's involvement in Iran-Contra, and Bush and company's ubiquitous connections with Big Oil? Evidently, I'm not drinking enough water.

21 October 2004

Where have all the shrublings gone?

According to a poll cited in an AP article, Kerry is preferred by the citizens of 22 of 23 countries featured in the survey. Poland, the one country that didn't pick Kerry (Was this payback for his failure to mention them along with other countries in the debate?), showed a mere 3% margin of support for Bush. And yet we're told that the U.S. needs Shrub's leadership because he's going to stand up and lead the world to democracy! What's next? Will the U.S. be sending troops to Germany, France, Mexico, Portugal, Greece, Canada, and the other 16 countries because "they hate us." If Shrub is such a lover of democracy, why doesn't he stop referring to support by the few inept leaders who are out of touch with their citizenry and instead refer exclusively to that half of the Polish population that still supports him.

Morning Rundown

Lenin's Tomb has some excellent posts on racism and the state of Israel which offers considerable detail and analysis.

At Ease has an excellent point-by-point rebuttal of the latest Right-wing screed (the one that begins: Clinton awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Yugoslavia - good...Bush awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Iraq - bad...)

The Liquid List has some good examples of pro-Bush media bias and some good rants on rightwing hypocrisy.

And then this, from No Capital:
Just a reminder: The word "casualties" does not mean soldiers (or civilians) killed in battle, but people who are killed or wounded. Our casualties are approaching ten thousand, with over a thousand soldiers killed and over eight thousand wounded . . .

19 October 2004

Shrub vs shrubs

I Live in Minnesota has a good post titled "What's In a Name?" about the Orwellian titles Shrub and co. have given legislation such as the USA Patriot Act, the Clean Skies Initiative, the Healthy Forests Initiative, and now the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (another corporate subsidy). Of course, this is the same administration that bragged of a novel environmental initiative that would put roads through wilderness areas! As someone who hikes, I know for a fact that you can estimate the distance to the nearest road simply by the amount of trash by the path. Within a mile from the nearest road, you see the discarded styrofoam of cheap ice boxes along with shattered beer bottles. Within the range of a short day hike (4 or 5 miles), you constantly run across Fritos wrappers and plastic coke bottles. But finally after a full day's hike into an area, the trash becomes very sparse. Even the more irresponsible hikers don't feel like lugging massive amounts of plastic to the top of some mountain. Of course if you're Shrub and your sole contact with the world has been coke parties in mansions and sipping cognac in oil company offices, it's probably pretty hard to appreciate the beauty of coastal redwoods and mountain streams and it's nigh impossible to appreciate the perspective of those of us who don't look at the world with dollar signs in our eyes.

Bush Greenwatch (an excellent site!) had the following related article:

Temporary Setback for Bush Plan for Roadbuilding Across Wilderness

The first test of a controversial Bush Administration rule designed to ease highway construction through wilderness areas, national parks, and other protected federal lands suffered an embarrassing setback last week. The rule opens the door for states to claim that long-abandoned trails and paths are under state -- not federal -- jurisdiction, meaning that states could therefore develop them as highways.

It turns out that a "state" roadway, which Utah seeks to take over under the new Interior Department rule, was built in the 1930s by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps for the U.S. Grazing Services.

Until this revelation, the case had been widely regarded as the perfect test for the new "disclaimer" process, which could in effect block wilderness protection and open millions of federal acres to road development, off-road vehicles, and oil and gas exploration. Last January at a news conference announcing the filing of the state's claim, Utah Governor Olene Walker predicted that the return of the 99-mile-long Weiss Highway would have "national significance."

Utah's claim has proved to be considerably off the mark. By reading a widely-available history of Juab County, where the Weiss Highway is located, Kristen Brengel of The Wilderness Society got the first hint of the road's federal history. Her research even turned up the irony that the highway carries the name of the federal employee who supervised its construction-Henry L. Weiss of the Department of the Interior. With notable understatement, Brengel observed that the state of Utah missed "key evidence".

Whatever the fate of this particular bid, the state of Utah intends to pursue at least 10,000 other claims. Alaska is reportedly pursuing at least 2,000 claims, and other western states will make similar bids to obtain ownership of old right-of-ways, which often don't amount to more than old wagon ruts, cow paths, and stream beds.

This surprising discovery in such a high-profile claim underscores the irresponsibility of the rule change-- a prime example of many administration moves to undermine environmental protection quietly but powerfully through changes in arcane rules and regulations.

In this case, the administration resorted to an 1866 mining law -- known as R.S. 2477-- to circumvent the need to prove the validity of a claim in court or undergo environmental review and public participation. The new rule shifts the decision-making from the courts to the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, and eliminates the public's traditional right to challenge whether a valid right-of-way exists.

Last year more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton protesting that the new rule was not only objectionable but "directly contrary to law." Such claims, the letter noted, "are seen by some as the vehicle of choice for those who would bulldoze thousands of miles of new roads across some of the country's most sensitive Federal lands."

Abuddhas memes had the following to say about the environment and how environmental issues will soon constrain the choices of whoever wins:

The schism of the coerced and the clear, each believing the other is the "other", now comes down to the wire. In order to understand the order of the coming Order we need to recognize that regardless of which candidate wins, the fundamental requirements of maintaining an American Lifestyle, far beyond a sustainable Earths' means, will set Kerry or Bush's agenda.

This implies a general steady-as-she-goes policy on just about any issue, but especially energy. Consumed by an energy addiction that directly fuels insane foreign interventions so as to ensure a steady flow of carbonaceous elixirs, America's governing council must float all the dream bubbles it can inflate.

25 cent smiles (or "Prostitution for the Masses")

The other night I was in a restaurant and when I ordered the waiter told me, "That's a fine choice." What in the hell does that supposed to mean--"I made a fine choice." How patronizing can you get? I'm still waiting for a waiter to say, "Ah, the Veal Cutlet. You've made a terrible choice, sir. We're actually just keeping the veal on the menu until we get rid of the last few packages that have freezer burn. But that's okay. Someone's got to eat it. Would you like a glass of strong wine to wash that down with?"

To tell you the truth, the whole American restaurant experience turns me off. Worst is the tipping. It's as if we have to pay for every smile and bit of friendliness that someone shows us. How exactly is tipping supposed to work, anyway? As the waitress approaches my table, am I expected to keep a constant tally on her acting abilities, the genuine quality of the greeting, the perky walk, the feigned interest in my enjoyment of the meal? Maybe someday Microsoft will be able to hook us up to a devise equipped with a running meter that pays a small dividend everytime someone nods a morning greeting or asks how we've been. We'll get a dime for waving to our neighbor, 15 cents for a smile (25 cents if we show our teeth).

If it's all right with Dick . . .

Today I saw the headline Cheney: Terrorists May Bomb U.S. Cities. Evidently, the vice-prez, seeing the pervasive support for the Democrats in urban areas, decided to allow the terrorists to bomb the cities. As Dick likes to say, "If ya can't persuade 'em, kill'em."

18 October 2004

At Ease

I think another PBA mentioned this blog somewhere, but I'd also like to recommend that everyone take a look at At Ease, the blog of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who provides an excellent assessment of the situation minus the normal political hyperbole.

Sublimal News

I came across a site called Subliminal News that has good sets of links to a number of important sources on Shrub's War including the Taguba Report.

Wassup with Bill (No pun intended!)

I haven't wanted to weigh in on O'Reilly as Swerve Left has a strict agreement with the tabloids to stay free of their traditional domain. Yet it does strike me as a bit hypocritical that the man who expressed such deep moral consternation about the sexual foibles of Clinton seems to have own lurid life filled with phone sex and vibrating dildoes (sp?). (Help me out here, what's the plural of dildo? Where's Bill when you need him?)

Cut to the Chase has a good post on O'Reilly that concludes:

While the right is busy trying to convince everyone that allowing homosexuals to breathe will destroy heterosexuality and marriage, just thinking about a dirty talking, hump-eager Bill O'Reilly could be powerful enough to send hordes of women - myself included - to lesbianism.

The Journal News.com, Newsday and USA Today have recent articles on the scandal. There are also related posts on Talk Left, Town and Planet, By Beauty Damned, The Spoons Experience, Les Jones Blog, and SoCal Law Blog.

P.S. The latest news via Diggers Realm is that Andrea Mackis (the woman who made the complaint) is being fired.

P.P.S. The Smoking Gun has some of the source material covering the accusation.

16 October 2004

Seizure of Indie Media Servers

I've been trying to figure out the details of seizure of servers used by UK Indie Media. According to Reporters Without Borders:

The servers were seized from the US-owned web hosting company Rackspace operating in the UK on 7 October 2004 at the request of the US Justice Department, which apparently acted at the prompting of Italian and Swiss authorities...The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) apparently requested the seizures of the Texan-based Rackspace that hosts Indymedia websites in the United States and in the UK. The company complied with the 7 October court order, shutting down around 20 Indymedia sites including those in France, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Italy, Brazil, Portugal and the UK. Ed Gibson, legal officer at the US Embassy in London, strongly denied to Reporters Without Borders on 8 October tbat the US federal police had played any part. However, according to a statement by an FBI spokesman to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the bureau did order the seizure of the servers but "on behalf of another country...The Swiss authorities reportedly sought US intervention after some Indymedia sites posted photographs of two Geneva police officers charged with identifying rioters who took part in demonstrations against the G8 summit.

The servers were later returned (BoingBoing). The seizure has been discussed by the UK-based Spy Blog. The Register suggest that the raid was performed either "under extra-territorial provisions of US legislation or the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)." If the former, would this mean it was performed without the explicit consent of UK authorities? Rackspace says it was "acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT)."

Woman, Thou Art Loosed

Yesterday, I watched Woman, Thou Art Loosed (directed by Schulz). This is probably the only movie I've ever seen that is based on a positive Christian theme that wasn't religious propaganda. The movie flips back and forth between a woman on death row and the events leading to her arrest. Much of the narrative comes from a three-day religious revival at a black church. The characters are all very realistic devoid of the heavy stereotypes so frequently seen in Hollywood films and the acting of the entire cast in absolutely amazing. This will probably be the best film of 2004. A recent USA Today article says it's doing surprisingly well at the box office, particularly in the South. The movie's rated R--although it contains few scenes that would be inappropriate for young viewers.

Troops refusal to follow orders

According to the L.A. Times, members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, an Army reserve Unit based in SC, evidently refused to undertake a mission in Iraq. The unit members claimed that the state of their equipment and the lack of armored support made the mission too dangerous. The Army seems to be trying to downplay the conflict, saying that the members had some valid concerns. Families deny Army accounts and say that the soldiers have been arrested. This incident, along with recent bombings in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, bring back memories of Vietnam where U.S. troops had to be concerned about movements even within their lines of control. The increasing number of U.S. deaths would also seem to indicate a deteriorating situation.

Pesky' Apostrophe also discusses the 343rd and there's a short post at Informed Comment as well.

14 October 2004

Eleven-point Critique of the Final Presidential Debate

I’ve posted my commentary on the presidential debate. I feel like I’ve covered every substantial point minus the fluff. Of course, large portions of both candidates discussion were pure fluff and thus weren’t allowed the privilege of appearing on Swerve Left.

1. National Defense

Kerry claimed that the president (1) rushed us into a war, (2) got sidetracked in Iraq, (3) relied too heavily on proxy armies, and (4) pushed alliances away and thereby increased the burden on the U.S. and reduced effectiveness of action. He then claimed that Bush has failed to address homeland security issues such as port safety, borders, and airline cargo inspections. Kerry claimed that he wouldn’t make these mistakes.

Bush, denying Kerry’s claims, argued that he was fighting a broad war and thus was making progress against Al Qaida while creating democracy.

Kerry's point #1, #2 and #4 are solidly supported by what we now know. We've been told by everyone, include U.S. government sources, that the Iraqi threat was diminishing when the U.S. attacked. The view that Iraq has diminished U.S. ability to fight the war on terror has been put forth by intelligence professionals throughout the intel community. Recent disclosures from France also suggest that France would have been willing to cooperate if Bush had been more patient and cooperative in his approach. The 3rd point is also interesting since a number of historians have pointed out that the overreliance on proxies was the downfall of many major civilizations in the past (Rome in particular).

As for Bush's contentions, there are a couple major weaknesses in the argument. The idea that Bush will support democracy in the Middle East requires us to all simultaneously enter a state of historical amnesia. The U.S. has intervened in the Middle East and supported governments up until now without any regard whatsoever of these governments' democratic record. So we would have to believe that Bush marks a sharp break with previous U.S. policy. But then we look at who the White House has chosen for its democratic leadership. In Afghanistan, we have a former oil company advisor (Why does this sound so familiar?) and in Iraq, we had Chalabi, a felon convicted of bank fraud (To be installed in power by the U.S., a country that doesn't allow its excons to vote!) and then Allawi--someone from the Saddam government who the U.S. CIA claims to have been an Iraqi hitman. If anything has changed, its the depths of cynicism regarding democracy.

Of course, we must also believe that the CIA has ceased to fund its favorite parties or intervene in critical overseas elections. We don't allow external funding to enter the U.S. political process since everyone knows it corrupts democracy, yet the CIA has intervened in elections all over the world up until the present point of history. But who knows. With Bush in charge, maybe things will be different this time...

2. Flu Shots

Bush discussed the government's response to the recent flu vaccine shortage.

Verbal trips at this point were telling. Bush started out saying, “We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a” but then quickly reworded his statement “-- help us realize the vaccine necessary.” I don’t know what “realizing a vaccine means.” I suppose the question was a bit embarrassing for Bush, who hasn’t allowed imports of Canadian drugs since the U.S. government can't ensure their safety (if only Bush was so proactive concerning the environment). Bush tried to turn the discussion to his advantage when he said, “One of the reasons I'm such a strong believer in legal reform is so that people aren't afraid of producing a product that is necessary for the health of our citizens and then end up getting sued in a court of law.” This principled advocacy of laissez-faire economics would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that Bush is an advocate of government interventionalism when it comes to the import of drugs from Canada—even if this means people won’t be able to afford needed medication.

Kerry painted a dismal picture of the worsening U.S. health system. Of course, it isn’t clear how Kerry would fix this either. His idea of allowing the free market to operate and thereby reduce drug costs might have positive effect but doesn't tackle the full extent of the healthcare crisis. Understandably, Kerry doesn’t seem to be willing to take on the sensitive issue of fixing health care in a fundamental way during an election year. On this issue, we voters have failed the system by not holding both candidates feet over the fire.

3. Economic Security: Taxes, the Deficit, Outsourcing of Jobs

Kerry would reinstate the taxes on the wealthy, shut some corporate loopholes to big oil, govern with greater fiscal discipline and work harder to create jobs and keep jobs in the U.S.

Bush ranted and kept switching the subject to talk about education. This was perhaps the funniest part of the debate. According to Bush, America’s ballooning deficit, sluggish economy, and job drain will be solved by giving children a couple tests each year! Test designers, who serenditously occupy the one sector of the U.S. economy booming since the advent of No Child Left Behind, must have been jumping in glee at the thought that the entire nation’s economy hinged on their ability to make a good multiple choice exam!

Kerry cited a donkey-cart full of statistics about the sorry state of the economy. In this, the numbers are definitely on Kerry’s side. For 99% of us, the economy of the last four years was abysmal and Bush’s give-aways to the rich and the oil companies certainly didn’t help. I don’t think Kerry presented any great strategy to turn things around but we can at least find solace in the possibility that he won’t follow the Bush strategy of constantly tossing bolts into the workings of the American economic machine.

Bush tried to say that his tax-cuts really benefited the poor and middle-class. This is bullshit. American conservatives have been deceived into feeling great sympathy for the “overtaxed” wealthy. Let’s put this in perspective. All of us who worked during the last 3 decades managed to create astronomical increases in wealth. No one disputes this. If you look at U.S. productivity and the number of widgets leaving the widget factory, everything is way up. Pretty much all of this wealth that WE created has gone to the top quintile. Actually, this top quintile didn’t produce a single widget. They sat around in the Cayman Islands and the Riviera complaining about how the numbers in their bank accounts weren’t doubling fast enough. The widget-makers themselves (the other 95% of us) didn’t get even a pat on the back for our hard work. Bush, feeling sorry for these poor buggers on the beach in the Cayman Islands gave THEM a break. Things have got worse for everyone else no matter what statistic you care to look at. Health costs are sky-rocketing, pay isn’t increasing, and hours worked have been rising. Kerry’s strong point during the evening was when he hammered home the idiocy of this tax-cut for the wealthy.

5. Gay marriage, Abortion, Stem-cell Research

Bush is against gay marriage; Kerry is too but adopted a friendlier tone. As on economic issues, we have a paradoxical opposition here: Kerry is for state rights while Bush is for strong central government intervention (How do Libertarians force themselves to like this guy?)

Kerry explicitly said that he would support abortion rights and stem-cell research. His reasons sounded corny and didn’t make sense—all this stuff about respecting people’s choices in spite of his disagreement with them. (If he was trying to appeal to Christians here, he probably failed). No one in the U.S. on the left or right seems willing to state the obvious: we all become human beings. There’s certainly no switch somewhere that instantly turns on when we’re conceived or when we leave our mothers’ womb. My take on this is that the stance of Americans on both sides of the issue is simply due to people’s discomfort with the idea that human beings are embedded in nature and the general ecology of the universe. It’s a scary thought with frightening implications, yet one that confronts us every waking moment. (Okay, okay. I’ll get off my soapbox now...)

6. Religion

Both candidates repeated some nice fluffy lines about their mainstream views. Bush’s discussion of religion was a bit striking for the selfishness we all felt as we listened. Bush talked about how hard his job was (ahhhh, poor wittle wich pwezident) and at how he felt everyone praying for him. Evidently his spiritual feelers are a bit dull, cause a lot of us might be praying but it isn’t for Mr. help-the-rich-and-oily Bush.

7. Medicare and Social Security

Both candidates are in complete agreement on this one—do nothing and maybe the problem will go away or the world will come to an end before the check bounces.

8. Illegal Aliens

Kerry hems and haws about letting a few people get citizenship while Bush wants to accept Mexicans as cheap labor and second-class citizens.

9. The Military

Kerry thinks it’s overextended and wants to expand forces and Special Forces units. Bush advocates more of the same.

10. Other Crap

The moderator had to ask about the candidate’s wives—who will of course become queen after we crown our next king. And we fought two wars with England to have royalty minus the white horses?

11. Intonation Patterns

Regarding “style” and “personality” and all that other fuzzy stuff that keeps our radio talk-show hosts employed, Bush continued to use those petulant intonations he’s so famous for. After the debate, I kept repeating his phrases out loud, trying to figure out what the tone contours were really saying. Finally, it came to me. Bush uses two main intonation patterns. One is the “victim” intonation used by a child complaining to his mother, “But Mom, Jimmy keeps stealing my ball? He won’t stop? Do something about it?” This is that rising intonation we hear every time Bush tries to elicit our sympathy because that tall mean Kerry keeps picking on him. The other intonation pattern is the flipside of the former: a mother in a Walmart verbally abusing her kid. “Now you get this straight young man. I am not going to put up with this any longer. Get your foot off the cart this minute!” Maybe Bush’s intonation is meant to get us in the mood for family values. We feel sorry for poor Jimmy who lost his ball while we also feel put in our place as our mother screams at us. Bush’s voice is thus a familiar “American” voice from our childhoods—but definitely not the voice of someone I want leading the country.

Some links to excellent post-debate analysis can be found on the Progressive Blog Alliance site.

13 October 2004

Just 10 commandmants? Shame on thee!

King of Zembla has a hilarious (yet politically apropos) post about the 10 Commandment debate. To thee I sayeth it (actually just part of the original post) so that ye may also know mirth (parenthetical comments have been added by me):

We have always been willing to roll with public display of the Ten Commandments -- as long as the rest of Mosaic law is placed on exhibit alongside them. It's all God's law; why pick and choose?

  • And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. (This would eliminate most of the young rebellious iconoclasts planning to vote for the Greens or Kerry).
  • And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever touches her shall be unclean until the even. (This might be a way to reduce the number of female voters who tend to vote Democrat!)
  • They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh. (This would eliminate the punks and Goths who tend to vote for the left.)

And so on... Looking at the list, I think the Republicans have it right: God is a Republican.

12 October 2004

Massacre in Iraq

War and Piece and Tiny Revolution have interesting information on a recent massacre in Iraq that was discussed by Seymour Hersh at Berkeley on October 8.

P.S. In somewhat related news, Empire Notes has a post about bombing of civilians in Falluja.

The Kennebunkport Hillbilly song

Wallstreet Jackass has a funny little ditty about Bush on his site.

Ratting out the rats

Ratboy's Anvil is evidently up to date on the new discovery of would-be time (see my previous post). Prior to the final debate, he has already disproved all of Shrub's points. If Shrub's smart, he'll skip the debate and just do a photo-op on the golf course.

11 October 2004

Movies with seoul

A recent news article talks about how Korean teledramas are quickly becoming a hit all across Asia. Japan now even has fan magazines specializing on Korean shows. This doesn't surprise me at all. In terms of quality of script and acting, Korean TV series are now much better than anything U.S. TV has to offer. In place of the crass sexuality and the white-hat black-hat mentality that pervades U.S. TV fare, Korea has developed smart series with subtle character development, intriguing plots, and clever dialogue. The sound tracks for Korean TV series are outstanding and often become hits in their own right. Korea and Japanese companies are now offering international tours that take fans of the dramas to the shooting locations. For those of you who would like to try watching a popular Korean TV hit, I'd recommend the famous series (all unrelated) that happen to be named after seasons (Autumn Story, Winter Sonata, Summer Fragrance). Some or all of these have now appeared in subtitled versions. Hollywoods' days are numbered.

Japanese blogs discussing Korean films include: B-log Cabin TP and Kankokuno Kaori.

10 October 2004

Discovery of new time dimension

Guy Taylor, in the October 7th edition of The Washington Times, announced his discovery of both a new dimension of time and new grammatical tense. The new time dimension, called "would-be" time, was featured in Guy's story of how Saddam worked secretly on WMDs. In the story, Guy describes how Saddam had wanted to restart work on WMDs after achieving an end to sanctions. This hypothetical "end to sanctions" existed in the future for the then-dictator Saddam, but as Guy points out, this time is actually in the past from our current perspective. Guy thus reasons that Saddam in fact "worked secretly on WMDs" in would-be time. In addition to Guy's amazing discovery of this hidden time dimension, Guy has also developed a unique method for grammatical reference to would-be time. When writing short phrases or headlines, would-be time looks much like the simple past. Thus, Guy tells us that "Saddam worked secretly on WMDs." In longer prose such as the body of news articles, on the other hand, would-be time is expressed using the infinitive. For example, we are told that Saddam wanted "to re-create" WMD after sanctions were lifted. The new discovery of would-be time opens up previously unimagined possibilities only hinted at in science fictions movies such as Minority Report. Bush, grasping the importance of this new discovery, has pointed out that the current war was justified in order to eliminate the weapons of mass-destruction and terrorist threat that clearly existed in would-be time. Gearing up for another four years, Bush has surrounded himself with experts able to peer into the would-be dimension to pre-emptively attack all would-be enemies. Some critics, however, look into would-be time and see an America that would be a hell of a lot safer with much less debt.

9 October 2004

Debate #2

I listened to the debate last night and wasn't very impressed by either candidate, to tell you the truth. I think Kerry's low point was when he called Bush a flip-flopper for allowing experiments on the stem-cell lines that were already in existence. It was a cheap shot that ignores Bush's argument, which is entirely rational (even if idiotic). Bush, on the other hand, occasionally resorted to emotional outburst in which he repeated simplistic one-liners designed to appeal to the Joe-5-pack crowd. The most disappointing aspect of the debates for me was listening to the people calling in on C-Span. When asked what particular point of the debate led to their conclusions, no one could remember anything that had been said just minutes before. Instead, they all repeated the inane one-liners from both candidates. I am now convinced that the majority of American voters are only able to maintain their concentration for a span of 30 seconds--the length of a TV add.

Blogosphere pundits takes on the debate:
Redwood Dragon--Kerry stumbled through much of the debate, Xtra Rant--Bush was a petulant frat boy.

8 October 2004

Bias by Bernard Goldberg

I recently read Bernard Goldberg's book Bias. Goldberg, a CBS news correspondent for 28 years, claims that a liberal media bias pervades the news put out by the mainstream TV broadcast stations and, by extenstion, the elite print media (TV news source of ideas for stories). The book provides a number of good examples of bias, to include the coverage of:
  • Homelessness during the Reagan era
  • The threat of AIDS from heterosexual sex
  • The Forbes flat-tax proposal
  • The absence of mothers from the home and latchkey kids
Goldberg doesn't feel that the news slant is part of an explicit conspiracy but rather claims it is due to:

(1) the cultural background of the people who go into news reporting, and
(2) the current marketing of news as money-making infotainment.

Regarding homelessness, Goldberg discusses the media's attempt to portray atypical examples (e.g., white families who have become homeless due to sudden job-loss) while remaining silent about what most people know to be the case--that the majority of the homeless are in that condition due to addictions or mental problems.

My own observations of homeless people completely agrees with Goldberg's observations. Over several years, I watched homeless people who frequented the same coffee shops that I did and found that 100% were clearly delusional. This was a surprising finding since many seemed highly intelligent and coherent much of the time. Of course, my sample wasn't very scientific and I don't want to cast dispersions on the homeless who don't fit this profile. Even so, I do agree with Goldberg that the media do us a great disservice when they distort situations in order to create stories featuring only people that their audiences can relate to (good looking white people).

Goldberg's analysis of the coverage of the AIDS epidemic is also right on. In fact, I remember years ago having conversations with friends in which we discussed how our observations of the epidemic's spread was completely at odds with the portrait painted in the media. News stations at the time (and pretty much any information source) were claiming that AIDS was going to spread at the same rate among heterosexuals and homosexuals. The gay lobby, and those sympathetic to its cause, had a great stake in the dissemination of this misinformation since it created more willingness to fund a cure for AIDS. What many of us noticed was that the disease wasn't spreading among most heterosexuals, and as Goldberg points out, the data also clearly shown that the vast majority of cases have been the result of either homosexual anal sex with an infected person or sex with someone who was injecting drugs. The small slice of the statistical pie that doesn't fit these two categories could very well be due to people lying (many people don't want to share certain facts about their sex-life or drug use, after all). I would agree with Goldberg here that truth does matter. If someone is sympathetic to the gay cause, it seems to me that instead of distorting facts, they should show stories that demonstrate to the public that these are indeed many wonderful people who are being ravaged by an awful disease and the public should therefore be doing more to help them.

The third example (actually first in the book) is Forbes flat-tax proposal which was described by Dan Rather as "wacky." I think that we can all agree that Rather wasn't remaining neutral (although, in all fairness, "wacky" and other such terms seem to be in no short supply on Fox network). On the other hand, the flat-tax proposal, and Forbes discussion of it, was truly inane. The idea that the wealthy would pay fewer taxes and somehow the poor would benefit (the same wealthy class that has taken virtually all the profit generated in the last 3 decades leaving the bottom quintile without a single cent)--it's hard to place such mathematical acrobatics in a good light. Perhaps Rather should have called the proposal "creative" or "interesting" (in the way my cooking is "interesting"). I would also like to point out that the Green Party platform, which is distinct and original and, I feel, very worthy of being part of the national debate, has never even been mentioned anywhere in the news to the best of my knowledge. We Greens would be quite happy to be called "wacky" if that's what it took to get people to consider our ideas.

 The fourth example Goldberg discusses--women in the workplace--is where I have some real problems with his analysis, and I think his discussion of this issue shows that he is a bit further out there in right field than he wants to admit. Goldberg discusses the media's coverage of the problem of latchkey kids--children who sit around at home as the parents work. Goldberg claims that the media fails to discuss research showing the problems such kids have compared to kids with a mother at home. The solution Goldberg proposes is to give equal time to conservative voices calling for women to quit working and go back into the home.

There are major problems with this entire argument, but I'll just discuss a few. First, why does Goldberg assume that this issue has two alternative viewpoints (1-women should work, 2-we should return to the 1950s with women baking cookies)? One could imagine countless other alternatives, such as having men stay home, or having extended families living together (an idea ridiculed throughout the media), or ensuring that childcare is integrated with the workplace so that people can see their kids more frequently throughout the day (an idea that was effectively tried in Russia).

Goldberg also clearly doesn't understand how research works. He ridicules the media portrayal of one major study as "controversial," but I remember the study he refers to, and it was controversial. Actually, most studies that make strong causal claims about complicated social phenomena tend to be controversial.

The last problem of course is the lunacy that the media could sit down one day and demand that women leave their professions to go back home and bake cookies. How are we going to get all the women to go along? We'll be fighting an insurgency here at home! (Although I guess we could ask Bush to rehire the Taliban. They fought well against Russia and there are probably a few Taliban clerics out of work that could do the job.)

Last but not least, Goldberg repeatedly cites Fox News as an objective news source. Yes, you heard me right. Fox News! I used to watch clips of Fox News at the gym while working out and I must say, you can watch 24 hours of the stuff and not get a single concrete fact beyond the most obvious event (a bomb went off somewhere) and without hearing a single bit of analysis by anyone qualified. Fox News is simply the broadcast equivalent of semi-intoxicated puffed-up know-nothings talking in a bar. The bias at Fox is so obvious that the transcripts could be used as textbooks on media bias. 

Goldberg's book does provide some good discussion of particular examples of bias, and his analysis is probably partly correct. However, I much prefer the more thorough-going and scholarly analysis of Chomsky in the documentary Manufacturing Consent. Chomsky, by analyzing U.S. media coverage of the Timor crisis, demonstrates in a very convincing manner that the elite media outlets such as the New York Times fixes the narrow parameters of debate which other print news and broadcast news then follow. (Actually, Goldberg makes similar statements.) Goldberg's solution of hiring more conservatives to news stations seems to miss the whole point. Until news stations develop high standards for fact-finding and analysis, I don't see how a change in employee demographics is going to fix the problem. Goldberg suggests (in an interview) that the head of a TV station could just give everyone a talking-to, telling them not to be biased. Don't we wish it was all so simple. If we hired more conservative news casters, instead of "liberal" garbage (CBS?) we'll end up with conservative garbage. There are numerous reviews of the book: Ryan Zempel (positive), Fair (negative), Vinod (Libertarian) and Zombie Hotties and Vampire Vixens.

7 October 2004

Count backwards from 10 to 1...You are getting sleepy...

If we can't convince Republicans by presenting reasoned arguments backed-up by thousands of reports from the 9/11 commission, the CIA, and the weapons inspectors, we'll have to resort to subliminal images, I suppose...

Moore using his noodle

Arran's Alley has a humorous post about the possible arrest of Michael Moore for giving away free noodles and underwear! (Moore's original letter about this can be found at Ratboy's Anvil.) I'm all for stopping such revolutionary activities. And who knows? He's probably receiving kick-backs from Fruit-of-the-Loom.

Cheney Edward Debate

A Summary of the Cheney-Edwards Debate: The War in Iraq

In the first part of the vice-presidential debate, Edwards and Kerry were asked about the hows and whys of Shrub's War. Cheney, citing administration sources, claimed that the war was necessary to eliminate the danger posed by Iraq's current and potential links with terrorism. Cheney views the war as part of the grand project of establishing global security. Edwards, citing key government and administration sources, denies there are firm links between terrorism and Saddam.

Regarding the general conduct of the war, Cheney praises current administration policies to include the training of Iraqi troops and preparations for elections, whereas Edwards, referring to the dire situation portrayed in much of the media and even described by many Republican leaders, claims that the Bush Administration has dropped the ball in its failure to provide adequate troops and training, and more importantly, in its failure to form an effective international coalition.

Swerve Left's Analysis: Cheney, while tepidly repeating earlier assertions of a link between Iraq and terrorists, is switching to an end justifies the means sort of argument for the war. We get the sense that the war, whatever its original justifications, is justifiable in terms of the dawning democracy taking root in Iraq. The problem with this argument is that it attempts take the focus off of the administration's incompetence or duplicity (take your pick) leading up to the war in order to place focus on a potential good that is still clearly unrealized. We all need to keep in mind that regardless of how we want to feel about the issue, Iraqi democracy is clearly unrealized at this point. Allawi is a dictator. The U.S. calls the shots. And probably will for decades. It follows that the future prospects for true democracy in Iraq are extremely grim. Of course, Cheney did not spend too much time trying to sell us on Iraq's flowering democracy. Instead, we got vague promises of "global security." Of course, the watered-down concept of global security doesn't fare much better than abstractions such as "democracy" if we search for concrete benchmarks to evaluate the administration success. I know of no American deaths due to Iraqi terrorist attacks prior to the war. It's hard to see how the administration could improve on this record.

Edwards, I think, did a good job of firmly stating what everyone in the world except Dick Cheney realizes at this point--the connection between Iraq and terrorism was tenuous at best. The promises to get more troops into Iraq or provide more training are more of the same rhetoric we hear so often from Kerry's camp, as when Kerry promised to secure nuclear weapons and so on. It sounds like just so many election year promises to do everything Bush is doing but better.

Cheney's ability to utter complete falsehoods without even a subtle change of expression is truly remarkable. Our fellow bloggers have been busy tallying the long record of deception:

6 October 2004

Supererogatory link

I came across a couple of interesting articles during the morning blogsurf. At Lenin's Tomb, we come across the interesting argument that the Left should attempt to "harness the might of the American state." Lenin's Tomb has thus won a link on this site in appreciation of the bold presentation of a truly bizarre idea (Why would we support a war that is being used as a facade for neocon politicl machinations?) and its use of the term "supererogatory" (Is this really a word or merely something mis-uttered at a recent Bush news conference?) Lenin hopes for some "confluence" between the interests of "the imperialists" and "those suffering under autocracy." Confluence? I figure there's as much chance as the Mississipi and Nile intersecting. Needless to say, I can't see any reason to "tactically support the war." In spite of the lack of confluence between my views with those of Lenin--this seemingly perverse political doppelganger, I have provided a link to his sight...supererogatorily.

The other tasty morsel in this morning's blog-soup was the discussion of "special renditions" on Making Light.

2 October 2004

Mexed Missages

I listened to the debate on the radio, not being able to afford one of those expensive image transporting devices. This, of course, left me bereft of many gestures and facial ticks used to decipher the candidates' true character and fitness to be daddy of the nation. To compensate, I've developed an uncanny ability to detect Shrub's smirk merely from the rising lilt in his voice. In all fairness, both candidates did quite well, according to the standards we've set for them. Kerry limited himself to no more than two relative clauses per sentence while Shrub managed to add only a few more words to the already overburdened English lexicon (two of them found their way into the title of this post, you'll notice).

Some are ready to pre-emptively give up on Bush, but I think if we are little more patient and allow him to continue to reign as the American king for another 8 or 12 years, we just might be able to get him from the phrase level ("You've gotta understand," "Well, flip-flopping, you know...") to form actual sentences, although I grimace as I consider what Shrub's education is costing us in terms of U.S. economic viability, the national debt, international standing, or the environment. Even so, I guess we need to "bite the bullet," having all vowed to leave no child behind...

We lefties like to tease Shrub and it really isn't fair, you know. I would even agree with those conservative voices that say Bush didn't really need to show up to grace us with his presence. He's running on his record and his "core" values, after all. Personally, I'd rather he got in touch a little more with some of his "peripheral" values, but I guess we'll have to wait for one of his future incarnations to see that happen.

During the debates, Shrub, being the tough Texan daddy that he is, pounded that whimpy war-hero Kerry on a number of issues. Shrub insisted, for example, that we can't criticize the war because that might discourage troops in Iraq. Perhaps I'm also one of those poor left-behind-children but I can't quite follow the intricate meanderings of the neocon brain at this point. Someone help me out here. Don't a lot of the arguments we hear lately seem a bit circular:

(a) We can't criticize the war.
(b) So the troops must stay in Iraq.
(c) And since the troops are in Iraq.
(c) We can't criticize the war.

or how about:

(a) The U.S. government now has the ability to arrest American citizens in the U.S. because they're terrorists.
(b) They're terrorists because we've determined them to be terrorists.
(c) But if courts or other U.S. citizens want access to determine who should be held (or even more importantly, who's been arrested), they can't have this information.
(d) Because the people being held are terrorists.

I think we need to add an extra category to Aristotelian logic, something called the Shrub Syllajizm (or mexed missages, for short).

Pinko Feminist Hellcat talks about the debate and some of Shrub's "mexed missages." For a good Esperanto article on the debates, see Gxangalo.

P.S. Far East, a leading Japanese blog, has an interesting Japanese-language post on the implications of a Kerry win for Japan.

Record on record against Shrub's War

Jeffrey Record, a prominent national security analyst with a Ph.D. from John Hopkins, has come out with a new book titled Dark Victory: America's Second War Against Iraq. In the book, Record offers an analysis of the war and its aftermath, concluding that the war was pointless. Record goes on to argue that the war has ultimately damaged America's longterm security interests, opening up a new front for terrorist attacks on the U.S. while aiding terrorist recruitment efforts. This analysis, coming from a recognized expert, butresses the current criticism of Shrub's War.

Roger A. Paine talks about Record's book, and the Salon article on the book, on his blog.

CBS is feeling rather outfoxed . . .

Simply Appalling discusses recent gaffs by Fox News showing that conservatives can be rather biased themselves. Fox News evidently posted what they said were quotes of Kerry, only to quietly apologize later when it was discovered that they were made up. I don't know what's worse--Rather's possibly being duped by someone or Fox's outright lying. Of course, I'm getting all of this second-hand. I don't watch TV at all. From the sounds of things, I'm not missing much. From what little I've seen of Fox News, there's less substance and investigative work than one finds talking to the crowd in a local barbershop or bar. The other news stations don't seem to do much better.

P.S. And this just in...

"Paul Schur, a spokesman for the network, said Fox's chief political correspondent Carl Cameron had been disciplined for posting an item on FoxNews.com that included several made-up quotes attributed to Kerry."

Netiquette in the blogosphere

I need to listen to more talk radio. Rox Populi has nominated me as one of the most polite political bloggers! Can someone speak up for me here? Politeness on a political blog is like the kiss of death!