Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Monday, March 29, 2004
A previously forgotten report from April 2001 (four months before 9/11) shows that the Bush Administration officially declared it "a mistake" to focus "so much energy on Osama bin Laden." The report directly contradicts the White House's continued assertion that fighting terrorism was its "top priority" before the 9/11 attacks.The Bush campaign is hemorrhaging right now. Their big selling point is their supposed ability to keep us safe from terra-ism. The news cycle of the past few weeks has been all about discrediting them on this point and that's a beautiful thing. Of course, it's only March.. and they do have all that money to lie with... stay tuned.
The coalition's leaders, who converge on Washington each year to advocate for various issues, said they targeted Rove because they could not get as close to the White House as they could to his house.Just a thought.
Perhaps a team of social scientists and historians could explain why over the last century the Pledge of Allegiance has become a major centerpiece in American patriotism programs. A pledge or loyalty oath for children was not built around the Declaration of Independence -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Or the Gettysburg address -- "a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal..."Better yet, why do we subject children to this at all? Is it truly necessary to the survival of the state that it requires sixth graders to daily reaffirm that they are not engaged in active rebellion against it? The pledge is an ugly thing. It reeks of a religious and nationalist paranoia that should seem un-American on it's face. In fact, it sounds a little more like.. well this item from the Baer article kind of says it,
Apparently, over the last century, Americans have been uncomfortable with the word "equality" as a patriotic theme. In 1992 the nation will begin its second century with the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the time has come to see that this allegiance should be to the U.S. constitution and not to a piece of cloth.
"The original Pledge was recited while giving a stiff, uplifted right hand salute, criticized and discontinued during WWII."also see: The pledge powerpoint
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Political junkies are going to love this juicy insider's story about the Dean campaign from the Atlantic. Trippi comes accross as something of a genius with a tragic side.
|His brilliance was obvious to all, and it wasn't limited to his innovative use of the Internet, which defined so much of the Dean campaign. He was also a visionary of the highest order, able to see both the opportunities and the risks with which this campaign was constantly presented.|
|It should have been no surprise that normal petty jealousies and staff rivalries, when combined with a full dose of Trippi, led to a very dysfunctional organization. (Trippi would often joke, "If these other campaigns only knew what this campaign is really like ...") Slights, real and imagined, bred accusations that were hurled back and forth in our Burlington office or in hushed phone conversations around the country. Joe threatened to leave more than once, predicting disaster all along; those who were not fans of his threatened on several occasions to have Dean replace him. At one point he overturned a desk in rage in front of his personal assistant, Kristen Morgante, who not surprisingly walked out of the office and didn't return until two days later, after Trippi had apologized. Another characteristic outburst occurred in a hotel in Des Moines, when Dean balked at Trippi's idea of putting out a pamphlet aping Thomas Paine's Common Sense because he had been given only a couple of days to review it before the printing deadline. Trippi blamed Kate O'Connor, Dean's closest aide, for the holdup; he left the candidate's suite, threw his cell phone down the corridor, and screamed, "That bitch!"|
Now that's fun stuff!!
Step back a minute and look at who has left this administration or blown the whistle on it, and why. Clarke enumerates a half-dozen counterterrorism staffers, three of whom were with him in the Situation Room on Sept. 11, who left because they felt the White House was placing too much emphasis on the enemy who didn't attack us, Iraq, and far too little on the enemy who did.This willful indifference to facts is the defining characteristic of the Bush presidency. Unsurprisingly the main of Bush's defense against Clarke's charges has not consisted of factual refutation so much as it has personal attacks against Clarke. I will not even attempt to express my distaste for this kind of dishonesty and its reflection on the society which permits it. At least, I won't when none other than Mark Twain has already done so for me (see below.) There is a bit of political conventional wisdom which holds that if you can pin a lie on your opponent and make it stick, then you've got him beaten. Bush has certainly provided enough fodder. Let's hope some of it still has weight come November.
But that only begins the list. There's Paul O'Neill, whose recent memoir recounts his ongoing and unavailing battle to get the president to take the skyrocketing deficit seriously. There's Christie Todd Whitman, who appears in O'Neill's memoir recalling her own unsuccessful struggles to get the White House to acknowledge the scientific data on environmental problems. There's Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff, who told Congress that it would take hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to adequately secure postwar Iraq. There's Richard Foster, the Medicare accountant, who was forbidden by his superiors from giving Congress an accurate assessment of the cost of the administration's new program. All but Foster are now gone, and Foster's sole insurance policy is that Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress were burnt by his muzzling.
In the Bush administration, you're an empiricist at your own peril. Plainly, this has placed any number of conscientious civil servants -- from Foster, who totaled the costs on Medicare, to Clarke, who charted the al Qaeda leads before Sept. 11 -- at risk. In a White House where ideology trumps information time and again, you run the numbers at your own risk. Nothing so attests to the fundamental radicalism of this administration as the disaffection of professionals such as Foster and Clarke, each of whom had served presidents of both parties.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
HOLBROOK (as Twain): You know when I talk about the decay, in the art of lying, I'm talking about the silent lie. It requires no art. You simply keep still and conceal the truth.
For example it would not be possible for a humane and intelligent person to invent a rational excuse for slavery and yet in those early days of the emancipation agitation in the North, those agitators got small help from anyone, argue and plead and pray as they might, they could not break the universal stillness that rain from pulpit and press all the way down to the bottom of society.
The clammy stillness created and maintained by the lie of silent assertion, the silent assertion that there wasn't anything going on in which humane and intelligent people ought to be interested. Well when whole nations of people conspire to propagate gigantic mute lies like that one in the interest of tyrannies and shams, why should we care anything about the trifling ones told by individuals? Why make them undesirable? Why not be honest and honorable and lie every chance we get? Why should we help the nation lie the whole day long and then object to telling one little, insignificant private lie in our own interest? Just for the refreshment of it and to take the rancid taste out of our mouth. No there is no art to this silent lying, it is timid and shabby.
[END VIDEO CLIP]
MOYERS: The silent lie.
HOLBROOK (as Twain): Man is the only animal that deals in the atrocity of war. He is the only one that for sordid wages goes forth in cold blood to exterminate his own kind. He has a motto for this, 'our country right or wrong'. Any man who fails to shout it is a traitor. Only the others are patriots. Say, who is the country? Is it the government? In the republic the government is merely a servant, a temporary one. Its function is to obey orders not originate them. Only when the republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it's wrong. Otherwise the nation has sold its honor for a phrase.
[END VIDEO CLIP]
|MOYERS: What is it about Mark Twain that frightens people, even as he makes us laugh?
HOLBROOK: Because he is riding so sharply on the edge of truth. He is balancing right on the edge of truth. And we don't have truth delivered to us very often. Especially in this very commercialized world we live in. Where half-truths are commercialized into truth. And half-lies, which is the other side of half-truth, is commercialized into truth. We live with this, day and day, every day, every time we turn the TV set on. Every time we pass a billboard.
And Mark Twain cuts right straight through that with a knife. And people recognize it. And it scares you a little bit, but there's something exhilarating about it and daring and funny.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
A new poll suggested yesterday that Ralph Nader's independent presidential bid represented a serious threat to the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry.link
The New York Times and CBS News poll revealed a tight two-man race for the White House between President George Bush and Mr Kerry. Mr Bush had a narrow lead of 46% over Mr Kerry's 43% - within the poll's margin of error.
But when Americans were asked about a three-man race including Mr Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist attracted 7% support, mostly at the expense of the Democrat. In that contest, Mr Bush led Mr Kerry by 46% to 38%.
President Bush marked International Women's Day by touting his military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming they have liberated thousands of women from lives of tyranny and oppression.Then there's the deliciously ironic, but by now all too familiar, bait and switch move.
But the speech actually obscured actions the Bush administration was taking almost simultaneously in Santiago, Chile, where it dropped its commitment to the health and survival of millions of poor women abroad.Add to that a touch of misogynist religious nuttery
But in Santiago, US diplomats tried to rewrite the Cairo agreement, eliminating all references to "reproductive health" and "family planning services." The Bush administration's hostility to the Cairo plan is well known, but rarely is it aimed so transparently at contraception and women's health. The proposed revisions were roundly rejected.and I'd say you've got a pretty nice review of the good old Bush playbook we've all come to know and love. Hope you're paying attention. This will be on the test.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Pretty much the next step after this actual show. Link via Naked Furniture
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
"The hand I fan with" by Tina McElroy Ansa: What is this crap, I asked the cat sleeping on my chest. The lady uses twenty adjectives to every noun. After the first twenty pages all I knew was that the main character was curvy and luscious with a narrow and copper colored face, copper also the color of her one-of-a-kind Mercedes Benz, her lipstick, her short skirt, and her downy soft cashmere sweater and...Hello! Editor? Was there even supposed to be a story here?More here. It helps if you can read Swedish.
Monday, March 08, 2004
Released detainees have said that U.S. forces severely beat them, doused them with cold water and subjected them to freezing temperatures. Many said they were forced to stay awake, or to stand or kneel in painful positions for extended periods of time.And all this time I thought our boys were there to defend freedom, human dignity, rule of law, good personal hygiene etc etc. Maybe they were just a little drunk.
"There is compelling evidence suggesting that U.S. personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment," said Adams.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
Note: Corrected. Ha ha, your conquering hero here actually wrote Argentina where he meant Venezuela. What an ass!
Thursday, March 04, 2004
At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that "people are poor because they are lazy." He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watch dog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to "free market competition." To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was "socialism." Recently, President Bush's Federal Appeals Court Nominee, California's Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown, repeated the same broadside at her Senate hearing. She knew that her pronouncement would please President Bush and Karl Rove and their Senators. President Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal.So you see it is possible for someone to remember acquaintances from 30 years ago... maybe this doesn't apply to national guardsmen.
via bad attitudes and 2millionthweblog where Micheal appends the line of the day : Bush is about as likeable as a drunk who won't leave you alone, but insists on barking things like "hey, pull my finger" at you while at the same time mugging and slapping everyone's back.
Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
The most disgusting thing about the 2000 Florida debacle is that it has been used to badger state after state into "modernizing" their polling systems. The results have been catastrophic for the most fundamental function of a democratic system of government. Our very right to vote has been severely compromised. In California, Georgia, and Maryland, voters are already feeling the effects.
In California, where Tuesday marked the first statewide elections without any punch-card machines, touchscreens in San Diego County made by election equipment giant Diebold Inc. failed to boot properly. The mishap caused delays up to two hours and forced some voters to other polling places to cast paper ballots.
Other counties in California, Georgia and Maryland reported problems with encoders, the devices that allow touch-screen computers to display candidate and ballot measures specific to one county.
In Maryland's Howard County, a computer server could not receive electronic data over a conventional modem, forcing a 90-minute delay while poll workers hand-delivered data cards to the registrar.
Computer scientists say electronic systems expose elections to hackers, software bugs and power outages -- with potentially catastrophic consequences. They're upset that hardly any voting terminals include printers or produce paper records, making accurate recounts impossible.In addition to being unnecessary, unsecure, and unreliable the new voting systems are unfair. On a daily basis, I am confronted with the frustration of library patrons who are increasingly forced to use the computer to apply for jobs or financial aid, contact elected representatives, file taxes, etc. A great majority of these patrons are woefully computer illiterate. Many are poor to middle class. Most are African American. These folks generally come to us out of absolute necessity. If they had and option to do these things another way (or not at all) they would take it. The new equipment, much like a Jim Crow style literacy test will undoubtedly deter people from exercising their right to vote. This is unacceptable. The denial of franchise to any one of us at any time constitutes a critical failure of our very democracy. Try telling that to these people.
Kimball Brace, president of Washington-based political consulting firm Election Data Services, said it's unrealistic to expect thousands of poll workers nationwide to get up to speed on complicated equipment immediately. Most states require several hours of training for volunteer poll workers, who are often scarce and aren't required to have particular computer skills.So I guess we lose a couple of elections to progress. What passes for representative government in the meantime? Perhaps a council of elders?
"It's usually a couple of elections before you can get the bugs out of a new process," Brace said. "Eventually, things will go smoother, but the first couple times will have bugs, no matter what system you switch to."
Also: Helping America Vote?
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
The core assumption is that economic forces determine culture and shape behavior. As William Julius Wilson wrote in "The Truly Disadvantaged," "If ghetto underclass minorities have limited aspirations, a hedonistic orientation toward life or lack of plans for the future, such outlooks ultimately are the result of restricted opportunities and feelings of resignation originating from bitter personal experiences and a bleak future."This is absolutely true. A single, childless, college educated white male like myself must only be living paycheck to paycheck (barely) as a result of his hedonistic, valueless, futureless lifestyle. A more responsible, industrious sober fellow would never have wasted so much time in public service searching for some semblance of a fulfilling vocation and instead would have gone straight into investment banking. Everyone knows that if you're not playing the acquisition-of-things game with your life then your priorities simply are not in order. You got me, Brooks. I'm just not trying hard enough, you asshole.
Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that liberals have it backward. In reality, culture shapes economics. A person's behavior determines his or her economic destiny. If people live in an environment that fosters industriousness, sobriety, fidelity, punctuality and dependability, they will thrive.
I could go on about what this means for people with fewer "choices" than I have been blessed with.. but that would validate Brooks' argument as somehow worthy of a rebuttal.
Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is popular among casual drug users for its reputed capacity to engender feelings of love, trust and compassion.My God the horror!!
Another golden nugget from this story
.....millions of young ravers and others have since tried the substance, which can induce what enthusiasts describe as up to eight hours of empathic conversation, contemplation and energetic sociality.First of all, "ravers and others?" Second, the "energetic sociality" is not all it's cracked up to be. Particularly when it's being directed at you by a raver or other continuously from 3:00 A.M. until noon the next day when all you want to do is sleep and have clearly indicated this intention through the act of being in bed. But no, I'm not bitter.
Monday, March 01, 2004
Your room's a mess. Your house is a mess. Heck, your life
is a mess. It all used to be really beautiful, and someone even compared you to Paris once, but that's all been replaced with heartache and struggle. You're small, have been influenced by outsiders for too long, and don't know what to think about religion. At least you smell rather pleasant!
the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid
As usual, eerily close to accurate
- A lady came in this afternoon under the impression that the library was giving away free tickets. I have no idea where she got this.
- Aaron says
Take a deep breath, people. You're squabbling about the details of an event that may or may not have taken place 2,000 years ago, and a film whose script was based on accounts (the Gospels) written 40-50 years after the event itself, by people who were not eyewitnesses. There's no way to know if the Romans or the Jews were the ones really responsible for Jesus' death, whether he was really the Son of God or just an extraordinarily gifted political leader, or even if he ever really existed. So get a freakin' grip, will you.This is infinitely saner than anything I've read on the subject to date.
- Leave it to the wingnuts who are flocking (literally) to church screenings of this film to notice the mark of the beast on their ticket stubs. Of course, who am I to judge these people. I also tend to find manifestations of the satanic in film-related events. This film, for example, could not have possibly emanated from anywhere but the studios of the ninth circle.
But then, you were not brought up by Mel Gibson's father, who has repeatedly and recently stated that there was a population explosion among European Jews in the years 1933-1945 and that the Holocaust story is mainly "fiction." Young Gibson, when asked about this by Diane Sawyer, told her not to press him (which she obediently did not). But when asked by Noonan, he replied by saying that "My father has never told me a lie." It's not fair to expect Mel to trash his father. But he could have said that the old man was a fine daddy, albeit with a few odd ideas of his own. It was his very decided choice, however, to say that his male parent was an unvarying truth-teller. Why pick on that formulation? It's unlikely that Gibson Sr. has made a secret of his viciously anti-Jewish views when talking to his son, who shares with him a fanatical attachment to the Latin Mass and a deep hostility to the "liberalism" of the present pope.
link via Timshel
Rabbi David Wolpe's contribution to beliefnet points out where this attitude is manifest in the film, although it ultimately gives Gibson the benefit of the doubt.
What were Mr. Gibson's intentions? One cannot see inside another's heart. The evidence of the movie is predominantly that he sought to make a movie that showed the suffering of Jesus to the world, and that it was sufficiently important to him to make it no matter the institutional obstacles.As for me, I am less inclined to be as forgiving of Gibson. The fact that Christian organizations throughout the country have organized to rent out entire theaters for group screenings and to promote the film in general highlights the hunger these people have for open discussion of spirituality. There are many reasons for this having mostly to do with our current fractured social malaise which I will not go into here. Suffice to say that thinly veiled neo-fascist hate propaganda should not be the conduit through which this need is met.
But a movie about the death of Jesus is not a stone dropped into a clear pool. There are thousands of years of history, of anguish, and of hate. The answer is not to boycott the movie or to anathematize Mel Gibson. There is a better way.
When I returned from the screening my wife said to me that if he really wanted to combat hate, Mel Gibson should establish a fund, the Passion Fund, to aid all those who might come to be the Jewish victims of violence surrounding the showing of this film. If the fund is untouched, so much the better. But when I see a Denver Church proudly parading a sign that says "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus' 1 Thess. 2:14, 15 Settled!" I begin to wonder if the children of Denver, and other cities, might not be in need of Passion fund.