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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

NaNoWriMo

posted by georg at 10/30/2004 03:31:00 PM

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It is time to dust off that novel in the bottom drawer. NaNoWriMo is back again.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's not sponsored by any corporation or some sort of government organization- it's just something somebody thought they would try and spread about by word of mouth, and has managed to survive for the past 5 years. The goal is to start writing a novel November 1 and finish 50,000 words by midnight November 30. I did a count of all the posts I made to all newsgroups on which I was active for a couple of days and added in all of my email- I could create the word count quite easily. It's only 1667 words a day.

But I've tried it for the past two years. My first year I hit 30,000. On December 1, I realized what I had written was total crap and I pitched it. My second year, I hit 18,000, which was worse, but the quality of writing was better. That's the novel I still have sitting in my bottom drawer. This year, who knows. I'm not very optimistic about my prospects- this year I'm actually employed for one thing.

But I love the whole idea. It's a yearly nag in my brain to actively spend time doing something I love to do- namely spend time writing. I wish everyone had some thing that came along every year and reminded them to go spend some time doing something for themselves to help increase their happiness.

But I wish sometimes it was a longer month. About as often as I'm glad that NaNoWriMo isn't in February.

(used lines instead of words- I have to count lines for my job, and for the novel, it's only words, which is much less)

Pundit Review

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 01:59:00 PM

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This afternoon I was able to tune in to an internet radio interview on the show "Pundit Review" where Dean Esmay of Dean's World was the guest. All I can say is, holy cow! If you get a chance to check these guys out, you should. It's hosted by WBIX in Boston, and is apparently a fairly rabid, right wing media outlet. (At the link above you can find internet streaming of their shows. Pretty neat set up from a technical perspective.) Why should you listen? Because, as I've said before, "cocooning" is a bad thing. Here what's being said on both sides so you can not only make up your mind, but so you know what the opposition is saying even if you don't agree with them.

Dean came off pretty well in the interview, but the host was a serious Limbaugh wannabe. There wasn't the slightest attempt to present a balanced analysis of the issues, the election, or the candidates. It was just a twenty minute barrage of Kerry bashing, Michael Moore hatred, (a favorite topic of Dean's it seems) and Swifties loving. I couldn't agree with much of what I heard, but I did feel moved to post these comments at a post about the appearance on Dean's site.

An "interesting" interview to say the least.

First off, you definitely speak well and come off as a thoughtful analyst in interviews. Well done on that score.


I listened, and I just heard you say that you're not a conservative, nor a Libertarian, etc. but that you are, in fact, a liberal. Since you've previously felt entitled to incorrectly call me a liberal (I'm a moderate, and have traditionally leaned toward old school fiscal and social conservative values) I have to call BS. Reading here regularly, you don't just endorse the Iraq war, which is your right. You seem to embrace the full range of Bush domestic and international programs. If you believe in those things, that's fine, and we'll all respect your opinions. However how exactly do you call yourself a liberal? These are theocon agendas.


The radio show is hosted by somebody who apparently is hoping to be Rush Limbaugh when he grows up. Wow, Dean. That interviewer was really objective, getting to the bottom of the story, huh? I missed his first question, by the way. Was it something along the lines of, "Let's be objective and get to the bottom of this, Dean. Which of the reasons that Kerry sucks and is a gay commie sodomite is the biggest one not to vote for him?"

More quotes from the host...

"Reenlistment will drastically decline if Kerry is elected."


(From Dean)"I'd be afraid to enlist if Kerry wins."


"Kerry will just suck the life out of the country. We'll be waiting in bread lines."


... if Kerry wins "we'll be getting attacked by terrorists for the next two decades." (It was going by fast, may have missed a couple words on that one.)


Holy Hannah! That show makes Fox (or Faux) News look almost objective. Fox might not be as bad as I thought.

Another observation: This is an election about Bush and Kerry and the future of the country. Dean, you can't seem to go more than five sentences without mentioning the Swifties or Michael Moore. I don't think it's just me, Dean. You sound like this has pushed you into some serious obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Addendum: I kept listening to the follow-up interview after yours while typing this, and it probably wasn't entirely your fault about the Moore, Swifties comments. The host seems to be even more obsessed with those items. The rather telling thing was, I heard almost zero mention of any current issues of the day that impact this election. Just Kerry bashing, Moore hatred, Swifties love, and being stuck in the past. Oh, and the host of Junkyard Blog (interviewed after you) makes you sound positively rational and unbiased, so all in all, you probably did pretty well.


Update: You may be able to hear Dean's interview later here. They seem to link back to previous interviews and include audioblogging of replays. It's worth a look in any event just to stay in touch with both sides of the current contest. They have a replay of a previous appearance by Dean which is pretty good.

I�m not a pundit but I play one in the Blogosphere

posted by Ron Beasley at 10/30/2004 01:00:00 PM

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The release of the Osama bin Laden tape yesterday brought out all the pundits and pundit wannabe�s who were trying to find the hidden meanings and motivations in the words of Osama. I quick trip to over to MEJ will show you that I was a guilty as anyone. The pundits on the right saw the tape as an endorsement of Kerry while the pundits on the left saw it as an endorsement of Bush. Trying to get into the mind of Osama bin Laden is a bit like trying to get into the minds of Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What motivates a psychopath? Do we really have anyway of knowing? The timing of the release would lead us to believe Osama was trying to influence the election. Like Ted Bundy, Osama bin Laden is a very intelligent and manipulative psychopath. Can we really apply the rules of common sense and logic to determine the motivations of the Osama bin Ladens and Ted Bundys of the world? I suspect not; so in the end it all boils down to spin, but that's what pundits really do anyway isn't it?

Update
Atrios chimes in on this subject.

Carnival of Solutions Concludes

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 11:49:00 AM

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The first Carnival of Solutions, hosted by Pennywit, has concluded. As expected, this close to the election, participation was sparse. I agree with Dean Esmay's prediction, however, that once the election is finally over and done, an idea like this might take off and result in some creative brain juice being applied to domestic problems without all of the partisan hackery.

My solution was included, as was another from Miniluv. Two different views arriving at a somewhat similar conclusion. Miniluv will be hosting it next week. Take a look.

DPS Endorsements

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 11:00:00 AM

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The five members of Dead Parrot Society have finally given their endorsements for the office of President. Their explanations are thought provoking. Take a look. Just by the numbers, one endorsed Bush, three endorsed Kerry, and one can't endorse anyone because of rules at work. (He's a journalist and has to remain non-partisan in public.)

Election Reform in Colorado Looking Bad

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 10:24:00 AM

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Take a peek at this recent entry from Taegan Goddard at Political Wire. Apparently voter support for a reform of national election law there is fading fast. They sought to change the process such that the state's nine electoral votes would be split among the candidates based on their respective showings in the popular vote.

Of particular interest is where the opposition to this reform is coming from. Democrats, liberals, and Kerry supporters seem somewhat split on the idea, with 45% in favor, compared to 37% opposing and 18% on the fence. Among Bush supporters, however, 76% oppose it with only 15% supporting it.

This begs one question: is this an indication that Bush supporters honestly believe that their candidate is incapable of winning an election if all the votes are counted fairly and all the population's views are equally represented? Much has been made lately of the fundamental differences in thinking and information processing between liberals and conservatives. This dates back to the earliest psychological profiles of "left brain" vs. "right brain" thinkers. What we're seeing here could simply be a political extrapolation of these inherited differences.

Left Right Debate

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 10:09:00 AM

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New site (new to me at least) with a really unusual and attractive format for political debate. Give some time to The Left Right Debate. Also, Joe Territo is one of the authors there, adding to its appeal. He has an excellent debate on election form raging over there at the moment.

Cult of Personality

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 09:33:00 AM

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Hat Tip to Josh Marshall. This crosses over the line of simply being frightening.

"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

My question is, when they raised their arms for the pledge, was it with the fingers pointing up and the arm bent at the elbow, or straight arms up at a 45 degree angle?



Halloween Flashers

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 09:31:00 AM

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HT to Dave Barry's Blog for pointing me to this. Well done, Canadians. Well done.

(Click on image for full sized picture at original site.)



It's Pork Pie Time!

posted by Jazz at 10/30/2004 07:24:00 AM

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Saturday... pre-dawn. The nation rests up for the last three day push to the election. Somewhere out on the campaign trail, even Condi Rice has furled her leathery wings about her and hangs upside down, motionless in the basement of a motel. While you sip your first cup of weekend coffee and consider your final election choices, let's take a look at how the stewards of the nation's purse have been spending your money this year.

(Information courtesy of Maxim online, but I'm afraid you need to be a subscriber to their print issue to access it.) Some of the highlights and lowlights:

$6.9 Billion for the Army's Comanche helicopter. But it was worth it, wasn't it? Just look at them. How majestic they seem as a fleet of Comanches swoop overhead, poised to strike devastation upon our... what's that? You've never seen a Comanche? That's because the program was finally scrapped this year without producing so much as a single usable chopper. Incidentally, that rang up another $2 Billion in cancellation fees to contractors.

How about another $15 Billion to go to Boston's "Big Dig" project? Even the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository only sucked up $9 Billion this year, making Boston's public works project the most expensive hole in the ground ever dug. Who says Kerry and Kennedy can't bring home the bacon?

$835 Million went to construct a single amphibious assault ship which the Pentagon never asked for. It's probably just a coincidence that the money was asked for by Trent Lott and the boondoggle of a ship was built at a Mississippi shipyard within sight of Lott's home.

Here's a nice item. $3.5 Million of your tax dinero took a trip down south to Alabama to refurbish the Vulcan Monument. No, that has nothing to do with Spock. It's a depiction of the Roman god of fire and metalworking.

$1 Million went to nearby South Carolina to pay for "Oyster Recovery." When contacted and asked exactly what that means, a representative of the South Carolina State Department said, "I have no idea. Where did you read that?"

I know you were curious about your good friends and staunch defenders of the republic over at Halliburton. How did they make out this year? You'll spend fewer sleepless nights worrying about their survival when you find out that they rang up $6.46 Billion in Federal cash for their troop support efforts in Iraq. This included:
  • $45 cases of soda
  • $85,000 oil filters
  • $100 per bag of laundry
Meanwhile, a new private earns only $13,248 a year, but he gets an extra $225 a month for taking fire in combat!

Feel better? Let's move on.

$9.1 Billion was spent on the "Star Wars" missile defense system, bringing it's two decade total to $90 Billion. This cash is getting flushed into a missile program designed to defend us against the no longer extant Soviet Union's flocks of ICBMs. Today, if we were attacked by another military superpower, it would most likely come in the form of submarine launched, lower trajectory missiles. The greatest threat, of course, is an unexpected terrorist attack on a single target. The missile system will do nothing for either of these scenarios.

Who did the best job of rounding up your cash and herding it back to their home states? It doesn't break down by party lines, if that's what you're thinking. Everyone has been trying to get their porcine little noses shoved into the barrel and run off squealing with your money.

Our winner for 2004... Alaska's Republican Ted Stevens. He sits on the appropriations committee and piled up $524 Million for various local pork funded pet projects, the most of anyone in Congress. This, by the way, is the same guy who recently suggested that New York City cops and firemen give up their overtime pay as a "wartime sacrifice." What a sweetheart.

Coming in second, but not far behind, we find Hawaii's Democrat Daniel Inouye, who snuck away with $494 Million in pork. What does one do with that kind of money in such a small set of islands? Among other things, he rang up $2.3 Million on brown snake control and another half million to "monitor pineapple and papaya crops." I was unable to obtain information for you on where you sign up to be a papaya monitor, but the benefits are out of this world.

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, made a valiant effort in the final stretch and wins the Most Unusual Pork Request Award for 2004. Specter asked for, and received, $90,000 of your tax money to have a study of fruit flies conducted in France. Excuse us, Mr. Senator, but... fruit flies in France? "You don't want to study fruit flies in Pennsylvania, where they might get into our apple crops."

The Lifetime Pork Achievement Award goes to Robert Byrd, Democrat from West Virginia. This year he set a milestone that may stand forever, becoming the first congressman in history to bring home a total of over $1 Billion in pork for his home state. (To be fair to Mr. Byrd, he's been there since the Kennedy administration, so he's had plenty of time to stack up the cash.) His chief fascination seems to be with roads, having arranged for the construction of more than 37,000 miles of federally funded roadways in West Virginia during his tenure. Who knew the state was that big?

Other top pork wagon pushers for this year are Republicans Jim Gibbons of Nevada ($225,000 to fix a swimming pool) and Terry Everett of Alabama ($202,500 for the National Peanut Festival.) For the Democrats, additional top honors go to South Carolina's Fritz Hollings (who wrangled $16 Million for the Hollings Marine Laboratory) and Anthony Williams, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., who grabbed up $181 Million in Federal funds for a city with a population of only 563,000.

Just warms the cockles of your little hearts, doesn't it? Now let's all get out there on Tuesday and vote these guys back into office so they can belly up to the feed trough again next year.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 10/29/2004 07:30:00 PM

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"A political candidate who jumps to conclusions, without knowing all the facts, is not a person who you want as your commander in chief."

- George W. Bush.

The Spin Goes Over the Cliff

posted by Jazz at 10/29/2004 01:40:00 PM

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The wapo comes up with a story about the larger context of the missing explosives story in Iraq. This is something I've been saying since it broke. The main issue isn't when some particular amount disappeared... it's the fact that we lost a boatload of dangerous explosives which are now in the hands of terrorists and Iraqi resistance fighters and being used against our troops. (Possibly in other locations around the world as well, for all we know.)

So rather than focusing on 380 tons of explosives at one specific area of the Qaqaa site, we are told to reflect on the 250,000 tons of explosives and ordinance that are missing overall. Now, this is some important news, to be sure, but here's the kicker. Rather then being bothered about such a massive amount of loose explosives, some of the right wing blogs are taking this as a moral victory for the President. I suppose if we'd manage to lose some nukes over there, Bush would be nominated for sainthood? The mind truly boggles.

Here you tell us that, rather than our poor invasion planning resulting in the loss of 380 tons of dangerous materials, we in fact let almost one thousand times that amount get loose. How exactly is this good news again?

Let's check in, as usual, with a few right and left wingers to see what's on their minds.

Protein Wisdom also thinks this news is cause for celebration, apparently.

Oh, thank you Intel Dump for showing some perspective. I thought I was losing my mind. "The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of tons of missing ammo ? not just 380 tons ? is not a good news story. If anything, this should make us question the Pentagon and the Bush administration more about its efforts to secure conventional weapons after the Hussein regime's collapse, because it it those weapons (not WMD) that are fueling today's insurgency."

I suppose by now I shouldn't be shocked that Capt. Ed sees this as good news for Bush, though how he can will be a mystery for the ages.

Pandagon has not only some good comments, but some alert commentors who point out how the infamous aerial photos being touted by the right wing blogs have already been discredited.

Yes, Virginia, there was an Adam

posted by Ron Beasley at 10/29/2004 01:30:00 PM

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This is a book review for those who don�t still live on a flat earth and are curious about where we came from. In his book The Journey of Man, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the science of population genetics have made it possible to trace the migrations and history of humanity over the last 60 thousand years. The subject is very complex but Wells is able to make it simple without being simplistic. As in any such study there is a lot of speculation but Wells, to his credit, makes it clear when this is the case.

Genetic clues would lead us to believe that there was an Adam in Africa about 60 thousand years ago. Cultural anthropology would tells us there was probably more than one Eve. This Adam had a very important mutation, one that resulted in additional short term memory. This change resulted in a human that was better able to respond to the environment but more important it allowed humans to do syntax. Communication went from one or two words to complex sentences vastly improving communication and changing the human race forever.

About 50 thousand years ago changes in the climate made it both possible and necessary for humans to begin the migration out of Africa. The genetic information would indicate that there were two major migrations and Wells describes these migrations in detail.
If you are curious this is a good read. Much of it is speculation but it seems to fit the evidence.

Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal

The Hatred

posted by Jazz at 10/29/2004 01:22:00 PM

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Take a look at Leonard Pitt's column today. Rather than focusing on who is going to win the election on Tuesday, (or in four to six weeks when the courts get done with it) he joins the growing number of journalists pondering the question of what comes next. One man accepting victory in this race is not going to do anything to suddenly erase the militant hatred brewing on both sides of the fence.

The anger toward George W. Bush is, of course, a residual effect of what many consider the stolen election of 2000. In that view, the Supreme Court installed in the presidency a fortunate son of no great intellectual rigor. The fact that the self-professed ''uniter'' immediately took a sharp turn to the political right and revealed an unerring instinct for flip-the-bird unilateralism certainly didn't help. The anger toward John Kerry is a newer phenomenon; most Americans couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup before this year. But a sophisticated GOP campaign to ''define'' the senator has made up for lost time, painting him as an effete and foppish man of no discernible principles or backbone who lied about his service in Vietnam.

A valid question. From Bush we already know that we will get more of the same. Kerry's people are already talking about putting moderate Republicans in the cabinet, instead of a full slate of Democrats. If people like Tom "The Hammer" DeLay can be shuffled to the back of the bus, bipartisan cooperation may still take root in Congress over the next four years. We can only hope.

To Pass the Time

posted by Jazz at 10/29/2004 07:05:00 AM

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Whether or not you're an aficionado of web cams, I'd like to share one bookmark that my colleagues and I always keep on hand. Particularly if you live in areas where the weather can get inclement in the winter, you may want to check out the Arubacam. It's a pair of cameras set up at the Bucuti beach resort in Aruba. At various times, you'll see people on vacation moving around near the beach, going in and out of cabanas, and very often a cruise ship sitting off the coast. In fact, I just checked right now and there's a large white cruise ship in full view. (Click on image for full size version.)




This is a very early morning shot. Later, the area isn't' in shadow and it's really beautiful. You can see a small white sign in the middle of the sandy area. It says something like "Stand here and web cam will zoom in on you." Occasionally guests will go and stand by the sign and the cam operators switch to a close in zoom shot of them.

When the rain is pounding or the snow falling near my office, I like to click on this link and, just for a moment, drift away to warmer climes. Enjoy.

Friday Pet Blogging - Early Edition

posted by Jazz at 10/29/2004 06:07:00 AM

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Don't you hate being interrupted while you're blogging? Here is our cat, Spider, looking very annoyed as I catch her setting up her new blog, "Tuna or Death." I wouldn't have minded if she'd just gotten the free version, but she sprang for the whole package of options using my credit card.




A quick reminder in case you like pet blogging... later today, be sure to stop by The Modulator for a roundup of pet posts from around the blogosphere. For more feline specific material, stop on by When Cats Attack this Sunday for a weekly gathering of cat blogging. They are this weeks host for the Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How do you like living in a Banana Republic

posted by Ron Beasley at 10/28/2004 09:05:00 PM

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Foreign Observers Ready to Monitor US Elections
On Thursday, short-term observers from the OSCE arrive in the United States. For the first time ever, a foreign organization will be officially monitoring a US presidential vote.

In teams of two, the observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be deployed across the country. They will monitor the opening of polling stations, the voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results at all levels.

The OSCE traditionally observes voting more in ex-Soviet states and emerging democracies. But while the US is a far cry from Kazakhstan, the mission's input is now necessary after a series of balloting problems in Florida sowed chaos and confusion in the US presidential race in 2000.
I don't know about you but I find this is pretty sad and embarrassing. We invented this stuff and now a group that has been monitoring elections in Kazakhstan is coming here to monitor our elections. It is indeed a sad day.


The October Surprise at last

posted by Jazz at 10/28/2004 03:59:00 PM

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We all knew it was coming. Not very surprising that it came from Drudge.

" CIA, FBI AUTHENTICATE NEW QAEDA TERROR TAPE; ABCNEWS EXECUTIVES CONSIDER POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF AIRING"

I won't give Drudge any more credibility by quoting the article, but here's the short and sweet version. Recently, ABC came into possession of a video tape of a person, apparently an American, claiming that the next 9/11 style attack was on the way, and that "the streets will run with blood." It goes on to say that America brought this on itself by electing George W. Bush. Now, supposedly, the intelligence agencies have verified the tape's authenticity.

As has been repeatedly reported, Bush's approval ratings go up every time a terror alert is issued. As long as they can keep people scared, they take their minds off of other issues, and go running to Bush who bills himself as the father figure to protect us from the bad men.

Four days before the election, this tape is suddenly confirmed by our intelligence agencies, eh? Ok... end of blogging for now. I have to run out and buy more duct tape and plywood.

Wait! Update Update! Check out the comments below from Instapundit. Apparently a news organization with a CIA source has disputed Drudge's claim.

Some other voices speak out on this story.

Whiskey at Captain's Quarters predictably wants ABC to run the story.

Instapundit starts out wanting the tape run, but then shares this rather startling message.

A CIA spokesperson whom I spoke to mere moments ago was very adamant in saying the ABC terror tape has ``not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not yet been authenticated.'' Thought you might like to know because, thanks to Drudge, a lot of people are getting this wrong.

Gee... you don't suppose a respected journalist like Drudge would make something up like a terror scare to boost Bush's numbers, do you?

Next, Outside the Beltway is rightly skeptical.

Jim Rutenberg's feelings are hurt

posted by Jazz at 10/28/2004 03:02:00 PM

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NYT's stalwart, Jim Rutenberg, writes today, that bloggers have undertaken a mass attack on the MSM. He quotes Jay Rosen as saying, "I think there's a campaign under way to totally politicize journalism and totally politicize press criticism. It's really an attack not just on the liberal media or press bias, it's an attack on professionalism itself, on the idea that there could be disinterested reporters."

Howard Fineman of Newsweek chimed in with the following lament. "Most of us now realize that this is a constant conversation, and I think that largely that part of it is good. Some of the stuff includes very personal and nasty things about people - they go after people's physical characteristics, they'll say somebody's ugly - and you just have to ignore that. Still, I would be lying if I didn't say it could be hurtful."

Apparently we've hurt Mr. Fineman's feelings too. Sorry, Howard. For what it's worth, I've always thought you were a good egg.

I was prepared to read about the usual accusations against The Paper of Record and the Washington Post as being part of the vast left wing conspiracy. That's why my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw this.

On a Web site named after Adam Nagourney, The Times's chief political correspondent, contributors mix crude personal insults with accusations that Mr. Nagourney and other Washington-based reporters are too easy on Mr. Bush. Bob Somerby, a comedian who runs a Web site called The Daily Howler that often accuses the news media of being shallow, lazy, bullied by Republicans and unfairly critical of Democrats, said a more genteel approach would not be effective.

Here's a brief math problem for all of you high school graduates: Assuming that you haven't spent your entire life, up until this morning, living in a cave and fending off bears, how much crack cocaine would you have to smoke over what period of time before you began to think that the New York Times had a conservative slant in favor of George W. Bush? I think that the NYT can definitely have a bit of a slant at times, but if anything, it's to the left.

And where was all the criticism heading in the other direction? There wasn't a single mention of bloggers commenting on the New York Post or the Washington Times. (A wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton, Ltd. Some restrictions may apply. Offer not valid in Wyoming. "Halliburton... we bring good things to the right.")

There was a solid foundation for Rutenburg to write this article, no doubt. How he wandered off into some surreal fantasy world while writing it will be a question to ponder for a long time.

And you wonder where we get our reputation

posted by Jazz at 10/28/2004 01:59:00 PM

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How do you suppose people keep getting the impression that the Republican party is full of homophobes and bigots?

?"We believe homosexuality is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable ?alternative? lifestyle either in public education or in public policy,? the platform states. ?We do not believe public schools should be used to teach children that homosexuality is normal? We commend private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, which defend moral decency and freedom.?"

Can you guess where I found that? You're probably thinking it's from the manifesto of one of the more radical skinhead groups, right? Or perhaps it was resurrected from something written in the 1800's? Sadly, no. It's from the current version of the North Carolina Republican Party platform.

I'm just going to nip off and go beat my head on my keyboard for a while. More later.

It will take time...

posted by Jazz at 10/28/2004 07:38:00 AM

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... but if we can sustain the effort, we'll eventually piss off everyone. From CNN:

A top adviser to the Saudi royal family dismissed suggestions that money from the kingdom was funding Iraq's insurgents and called reports that his government has not done enough to stop such payments "irresponsible." Adel al-Jubeir, chief foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Adbullah, said the Saudi government had taken "very strong steps" and that reports, such as those from Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, indicating Saudi Arabia was attempting to undermine U.S. interests, were not "supported by the facts." The Defense Intelligence Agency recently reported insurgents received funding from external donors, including sympathetic Saudis.

Are Saudis funding the insurgency? Might they be smiling to our faces while they stoke the flames of war behind our backs? I don't know the answer, but it wouldn't shock me terribly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hello

posted by Ron Beasley at 10/27/2004 10:46:00 PM

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Jazz has invited me to drop in from Middle Earth once in awhile to rant. As it says over on the right sidebar I�m a registered Independent or as we are known as here in Oregon an unaffiliated voter. I�ve already voted, as have about half of the Oregonians, since we all vote by mail, no polls on Tuesday.

I was a manufacturing engineer for most of my life but since I don�t speak Chinese I couldn�t follow my job there. I am now able to do what I really wanted to do anyway, digital art. If you are interested a few of my pictures can be found here. Go to Search by Artist find Ron Beasley and click on GO.

Like Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers I don�t hold organized religion in very high regard. I find the Christian right in this country to be a frightening phenomenon and can�t understand why anyone would want to return to the 14th century.

In addition to being an engineer I have a degree in Earth Sciences (geology) which I find fascinating. Because of that understanding of Earth History I have some views on global warming that make me unpopular on both sides of the issue and will probably discuss it at some point here. Living in Portland I am about 40 miles from a volcano that is currently erupting. You will find updates on that over at Middle Earth Journal. It gives me a break from politics.

A brief rundown on how a feel about some current issues can be found here. More latter.

And now for Something Completely Different

posted by georg at 10/27/2004 10:10:00 PM

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I suppose I should introduce myself as well. Unlike Jazz, and the other gentlemen, I don't read a lot of blogs. I don't read a lot of the news. I just don't like to. What goes on tends to make me worried and depressed, and then I'll fret. So I tend to ostritch about what is going on. I watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and I read the editorial funnies. If I find myself going, "huh?" in response, then I go research what I am not understanding. Or I'll peek at pertinent link that Jazz or Mu feel like sharing with me. Otherwise, I avoid the news.

I used to work for a newspaper. I was a copyeditor and page designer. I mainly did the Living Section, but I've helped with every section. I have watched the newsroom while a big story is breaking, and chatted with the editorial staff. Yes, I still have nightmares. But I did love doing that kind of work on a deadline like that.

As far as my beliefs go, I do think that if you don't vote and you are able, if you don't vote, you shouldn't complain. Even if you are just writing in Bill and Opus, like I did for the first election I was able to vote in, at least I exercised my right to vote. I strongly encourage everyone to do the same.

I have three layers of belief. The nearest and dearest to my heart is the ideal way things should be. How things really ought to be if everyone just followed the rule of being nice to one another. I try hard to get things more like this, but I'm only one person. I can't move a lot of things, but I what can do, I usually do. It is easy to talk about the ideal situation and how things should be. But this isn't very realistic. The 2nd layer tries hard to blend what my ideals are with what is. And the third layer is more along the lines of Jonathon Swift.

For example, I do not like the death penalty. What right have we to kill anyone? How does that not make us a killer too? And what if they were wrongly convicted? (Yes, I realize you've seen all of those arguments before). The realist in me understands the costs involved in separating the convict from the rest of society for the protection of society and the hope of reformation, and I'm willing to pay it. And yes, I still have hope of reformation. And the cynic that can agree with the death penalty as a deterent to other crime, thinks that these criminals ought to be executed publically and to heck with cruel and unusual punishment laws. Perhaps we could have them do some sort of extreme sport with messy results, or just pay per view hangings ala concerts. Unfortunately, I think that would only encourage really stupid people to commit more crimes, in order to appear on television. Perhaps allowing the victims' families to determine punishment may be a better option- it may be even better television.

Carnival of Solutions: Wrongful Conviction

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 06:10:00 PM

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The following entry is in response to a challenge posed by Pennywit. The assignment is to consider a problem facing our society, and to deliver a solution to said problem. With luck, the Carnival of Solutions will become a running event by Pennywit. Hat tip to Dean's World for pointing me to this. This week's problem:

Compensation of those wrongfully imprisoned

Given: A person who has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned for a period of several years has been set back significantly, both in terms of lost wages and in terms of lost years.

The Problem:How should such individuals be compensated for their wrongful imprisonment? What factors should be taken into account in setting such damages? What venues and procedures are appropriate for handling these claims?

My Answer: Oh, dear. I certainly hope I have one. Tough question.

There are several elements to consider regarding remuneration for the wrongly convicted. There is first, on the most unemotional level, the issue of compensation for lost wages. The second is the favorite of trial lawyers across the land - "pain and suffering", or the compensation for non-monetary damages. The third issue, and perhaps the most politically risky, are the social considerations. Never being one to shy away from tough questions, that's the one I'll tackle first.

Any such compensation given to a wrongfully convicted person is not going to be paid for by the accuser. It shall be paid for out of taxpayer money by the people. And "The People" have a history of wanting to know that their money is being well spent to good purpose, and that they are getting something of value in return.

Not every person who is wrongfully convicted is a clone of Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. Very often, the incorrectly accused are brought up as suspects because they are persons who have already led a life of crime, been convicted of previous offenses, and are not viewed by more law abiding citizens as particularly worthy of sympathy. This does not in any way excuse the fact that they were incarcerated for a crime they did not commit, but it complicates the political reality of rewarding them. It's a factor we have to take into consideration when deciding on the best way to compensate such victims. No solution is likely to be accepted if it is applied flatly across the board to each convict. At the very least, any consideration of "pain and suffering" damages, which are more tenuous in nature and definition, will have to be tempered by the character of the person to whom they are being awarded. So with that in mind, fixed monetary sums don't work and a judge and/or jury has to be allowed some latitude in determining damages.

The base compensation is probably easier than you might imagine, though I'm sure some will call my solution unfair. Everyone carries a record of their earnings through their life. It's in your tax records and social security account. It's not difficult to examine any person's past earnings record and then extrapolate out how much they might have earned over the period of their incarceration, taking into account raises they might have received via merit or job changes. Cost of living can also be taken into account. Using those figures, it's not difficult to come to a figure that would reflect what the person might have earned while they were in prison and award them lost wages compensation based on that - possibly with a "fudge factor" thrown in on the positive side just to be safe.

The last issue is the hardest. I am not a fan of huge settlements in court to people who don't have, in my eyes, a legitimate grievance. (Insert your own "old lady spilling McDonald's coffee in her lap" joke here.) However, people wrongly sent to a correctional facility clearly have a legitimate beef with the system. Horrible things can result from such an error. Prison rape is rampant, the psychological effects of incarceration are potentially devastating, and the stigma on post prison life of having been a "con" can ruin you. Surely some compensation is in order.

Unfortunately, since that compensation comes from the pockets of the mass of taxpayers, it can not be an immediate windfall such as winning the lottery. I believe that a fair baseline for any person in such circumstances needs to be established which can be modified by the judge and jury based on circumstances. While no amount of money could ever fully counter the effects of being wrongly jailed, a base amount of "pain and suffering" should be established. Something in the range of 50,000 dollars per year of incarceration seems valid, and would add up quickly. For cases of truly law abiding persons, with no previous record and a good reputation in their community, it could be increased, at the discretion of the court to as much as 150,000 dollars per year.

Having thought my way through this, I'll admit that my answer might seem cold and inhuman. However, I also think it addresses the realities of the world and goes some distance towards being fair to all parties.


Introductions are in order

posted by Mu at 10/27/2004 05:45:00 PM

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Thanks Jazz for letting me add to your blog, I will try to not let the standard you set sink too much. Here's a short description of my political views, so that the esteemed reader can decide what to hate me for.
If you're right wing, that will be because I'm not fond of people that use the bible to argue a point. I support legal abortion and think that it would be cheaper to have a basic universal healthcare system than people getting free service in the emergency room paid for by my taxes or health insurance bills. My support for a minimal guaranteed social security that prevents people from starving is nearly socialist. I also don't think a tax cut that pays me $400 by adding several thousand dollars to my share of the federal deficit is realy making me richer.
If you're a liberal you will love to condem me for my views on the death penalty, use of corporal punishment in child education, my moral stand on abortion, and that I see nothing wrong in making people on social security work for free.
As for "what is he going to add to this site", I'm a news junky, browse a lot of technical blogs and news services, especially from Europe, and have a strong interest in technology legislation like the INDUCE act.
So you can expect posts on subjects not normally covered by Jazz. He's also much better in ripping the politicians of the day, so I leave that to him.

Fair Warning: Guest Bloggers

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 05:22:00 PM

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After flying this plane solo through the blogosphere for the last year or so, I'm tired. Also, I've gotten just enough e-mails from people indicating that I might... just maybe ... be a bit single minded in my pursuit of the reformation of the Republican party to more moderate standards and the elimination from it of George W. Bush and all the neocons and theocons currently hijacking our platform.

With that in mind, I am adding three guest bloggers who may provide some different points of view and find other items of interest to engage you. There are two being added right now, and a third to come on board shortly. It's possible that later there will be one or two others. These are people who's opinions and writing style I respect, even if I don't always agree with them.

The first, who has already posted here once before, is my wife, Georg. (You may remember the commie loving, tree hugging, blood drinking, nihilistic liberal from previous posts.) The second is Mu. He is a unique person with a unique perspective on life in America, since he is a German who now lives in our country. Mind you, that's not easy... being a German living here during the Bush administration. I can't help but imagine that his one consolation is that he's not French. The Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast were already too much to take. If the Congressional cafeteria began serving Freedom Potato Salad I'd likely vomit.

More to come on this, but for now, please treat them kindly.

Edit: That was faster than I thought. Our little band is complete. Please welcome Ron Beasley, the editor of Middle Earth Journal. Ron is a quality writer with a great blog, which I have been a fan of since I first found it. He brings a different perspective on life that I can appreciate.

Oh, hell... tear them apart for all I care. You do it to me enough.

Enjoy.

Carnival of Solutions

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 02:41:00 PM

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I recommend strongly that all readers check out Pennywit's Carnival of Solutions. This is a project to force bloggers to step away from negative attacks on candidates, litanies of complaints, and the depressing poisonous atmosphere of this election season and focus their energy into something positive. Pennywit poses a problem and challenges other bloggers to come up with solutions to that problem. It's a noble cause and might generate some mental heat to address real problems.

And now it's "Ammogate"

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 01:37:00 PM

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I can't take it any more. Does everything have to be a "gate" during election season? Yesterday I caught my dog, Kenya, nosing around in the cupboard while I was on the computer, trying to sniff at the box of treats we keep in there for her. I hereby dub this, "biscuitgate" and you MUST credit this blog as you all rush to report on the story. To make it even better, unlike those cheesy Ammogate reporters in the MSM, I've got PICTURES! O'Reilly won't be discrediting my story, I assure you. Here she is, backing slowly away from the cupboard with some of her ill gotten gains.




Now, on to the actual story, such as it is. We're faced with another classic case of "he said, she said." All you can really do is look at the facts and then try to judge the credibility of who it is that said what. What facts do we know?

First, we know that at some point there were 380 tons of extremely dangerous explosives in a bunker at Al Qaqaa. The IAEA had been guarding them for some time and told the US to keep an eye on them.

Now they are gone.

The New York Times came out with a claim that they had disappeared after we took over the area. This looked very bad for Bush's war planning, and Kerry quickly jumped on it like a dog smelling an unattended sirloin. Liberal bloggers went gaga over it.

Next, NBC came out and claimed that they had reporters embedded with troops who searched that area at the time of our arrival, and the explosives were already gone. Karl Rove trumpeted the news that it was just a gotcha story. The conservative blogs went gaga.

Now, the Times comes back with a counterpunch and interviews the commander of that unit who supposedly discovered the missing explosives. It seems he was a little busy at the time, what with marching his troops through hostile terrain towards Baghdad, and hadn't actually inspected the bunkers at all. Finding that much high explosives, or more to the point, finding them missing, seems like something that would stick in your mind, no?

It looks to me like Bush's cover is blown on this one, but what everyone is failing to pick up on is that the effect of this story on Bush is not the big story. It's not the bad news. The bad news is that 380 tons of high explosives are missing and undoubtedly in the hands of terrorists and/or Iraqi resistance fighters who are using them to blow our guys up.

This might be a good time to run around and do a quick inventory of the rest of the munitions over there and make sure somebody is guarding any remaining weapons that the looters might have somehow missed thus far. That is, if you're not all too busy giving interviews.

When Mass Mailings Go Horribly Wrong

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 11:51:00 AM

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Ed Gillespie and the good ole' boys down at the national Republican Party center have launched yet another mass mailing campaign, this time sending out letters to former members of the party how are no longer registered. I can see that as a sound strategy, but when you do a mass mailing of that kind, you run some risks. One of which is that your letter may wind up in the hands of the wrong person.

In this case, you couldn't have picked a more wrong person. The former member of the party in question turns out to be a now very liberal Kerry supporter who also happens to be the editor of a fair sized newspaper that is distributed not only in Upstate New York, but across the nearby border and throughout the Northern section of battleground state Pennsylvania.

Dave Rossie is Editor of the Binghamton (New York) Press & Sun Bulletin. After getting the heartfelt letter from Mr. Gillespie, he couldn't resist having a bit of fun. In case you don't want to register for the online version of their paper, I'll just paste the column in here. It's priceless.

Republicans in pursuit of lost sheep

"He can run away, but he can't hide." Heavyweight champion Joe Louis, talking about his coming fight with a younger and more agile Billy Conn.

Joe Louis was right. I should have known they'd find me, even after all these years. Discovery came in the form of a letter from Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, addressed to me at my home, but with what I took to be a rather impersonal salutation: "Dear Friend."

Could they have the wrong party? I wondered after reading the opening sentences: "Your name has been given to me as a strong grassroots Republican in New York. Our records show that your membership in the Party is listed as 'inactive' -- although we have tried several times to reach you at home in Binghamton without success."

A likely story, Ed. It's true that the Republican Party and I parted company in 1966 at the behest of Fred W. Stein, then publisher of The Press, who had a rule that any reporter who might be covering politics could not be a member of a political party. I thought it was a good rule and readily complied. But I don't recall anyone from your outfit trying to lure me back into the fold over the last 38 years.

"I hope that everything is okay and your membership is just delayed because you haven't gotten around to renewing it yet. I urge you to take this moment to join the Party and help us create record voter turnout to support President Bush and Republican candidates at every level of your ballot. This election is going down to the wire. Every vote matters and we are counting on your help as we work to keep the White House in Republican hands and strengthen our narrow majorities in the United States House and Senate."

Ed, there may, indeed, be a record turnout on Nov. 2, but not the kind you're looking for. Prospective new voters are registering in great numbers in Ohio, Colorado and Florida, and your party people in those states are doing everything they can to stop them.

"The Democrats and liberal interests have shattered fund-raising efforts by raising historic sums to defeat President Bush and our candidates."

C'mon Ed, the Democrats have raised a lot of money this time out, but they'd have to hijack a hundred Brinks trucks to come close to the money your people have squeezed out of corporate America for this election.

"Our report card is clear: since you helped our Republican candidates win both Houses of Congress for five straight elections, interest rates are at historic lows, inflation is stalemated, record numbers of families own homes and crime rates have fallen."

Ed, if your report card shows I had anything to do with that, then it's about as clear as George Bush's National Guard service record.

"You can bet that John Kerry, John Edwards, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton are hoping you choose NOT to renew your membership in the Republican National Committee at this most critical time."

Okay, I get it. Now you're not just trying to get me to renew my party membership. Now you're offering me a place on the national committee. Well, you're too late. John Kerry has already offered me a free lifetime supply of ketchup. Edwards has promised me pro bono representation if the law ever catches up with me. Ted Kennedy has offered to take me sailing on the Cape and to a picnic later on Chappaquiddick. And Hillary. Well, never mind.

"So please act today. If you fail to renew your membership now -- the Democrats will get off to a tremendous head start and President Bush's long-term agenda for America will be threatened."

All right, Ed, you've won me over with that argument. Never let it be said that I failed to help support the invasion of Iran and Syria and maybe France. The check's in the mail. Please send me an autographed picture of George in his flight suit on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln.

Sincerely, D. Rossie, born-again Republican.



Brief Moment of Geekdom

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 10:56:00 AM

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I just downloaded and installed the new Firefox web browser. If you want to try it out, you can find the free download here. I'm not positive yet whether or not I'll be switching to this as my default browser, but I have a few early observations and they are all positive.

First, the installation was incredibly fast. I had the whole thing done in a couple of minutes. You are asked if you want to import your bookmarks, cookies, web site registrations, passcodes, etc. when you install it. If you say yes, it seamlessly and quickly imports them with no other actions on your part, and sets up your personal toolbar, preferences, etc. before it first opens up. Most impressive.

The reviews thus far give this browser high marks on security vs. spyware, and it has an almost foolproof pop-up blocker.

The interface is very intuitive and users of both IE and Netscape should have zero trouble working with it.

The entire application is tiny compared to IE and Netscape, so it takes up less room on your drive, and opens and closes extremely quickly compared to those other browsers.

I'll play with it some more, but so far I'm liking it.

Another Video

posted by Jazz at 10/27/2004 07:26:00 AM

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Many thanks to Lima for the tip. As with the previous post, there is another rap based video of interest to Bush opponents on the web. It can be seen here.

Warning to the easily offended: This one, called "Supadubya", has some very coarse language, so don't watch it if such language would bother you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Holy Mother of Hannah

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 05:56:00 PM

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I just finished watching a music video by Eminem, of which much has been written today. It's called "Eminem's Mosh" and you can see it, should you wish, here. Of course, you probably won't need to view it online if you don't want to, because as soon as I got up, wiped the sweat from my brow, and walked into the living room and turned on MTV, I saw it playing there. It is a rap video by the artist Eminem which states his views about why people should vote for John Kerry. I had to download a new plug-in for my media player for i-Tunes, but it only took a minute or so and was worth it because I understand a lot of media is coming in this format now.

I will preface this commentary by telling you that I am, by the accounts of most of the youngest generation I'm sure, a stodgy old man. I don't listen to rap music or hip-hop. It's not that I have some sort of bias against it. (What am I saying? People I know read this blog. Ok, I do have a bias against it. I'm an old white guy and I listen to Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and Led Zepplin. Get over it. I don't do rap music.)

In any event, I watched the video twice. This is one extremely angry young man, and he's angry at Bush. The music was haunting. The video was disturbing. The message was piercing in the same way that Bob Dylan used to get young people righteously pissed off back in the sixties. It borders on frightening, but I can see how this is the sort of message that might get some of the extra young voters off of their butts on November 2, 2004 and into the polling places.

I have to wonder, however, if anyone on the Bush team will have the unmitigated audacity to wander up to the President today, tell him to put down his copy of "My Pet Goat" and say, "Mr. President. You're under attack, sir."



More Ugliness from Florida

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 04:02:00 PM

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Courtesy of Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast. (Hat tip.) According to the BBC, there's more scurrilous activity afoot in Florida. (Why do we have to hear about this from the BBC? Where is the MSM on these things?) Apparently the GOP in Florida has been maintaining a list of primarily black (read "Democratic") voters in Florida to challenge at the polls, just like they are doing in Ohio.

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals. Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."


Also, somebody seems to be staging private detectives outside of early vote polling places to monitor who's voting and what color they are.

In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.

The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services.

On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the Republican Party to intimate and scare off African American voters, almost all of whom are registered Democrats.

Jill's comment on this? (And I have to agree.)

"One thing you've got to say about Jeb Bush: his family loyalty knows no bounds, and if at first he doesn't succeed in purging likely Democratic (read: black) voters, he tries, tries again."

At some point we have to publicly acknowledge that there is an organized national effort to suppress the vote.

Bush and Religion: Part XXVII

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 03:41:00 PM

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Allen MacKenzie has a short but very thoughtful analysis of the relationship between George W. Bush as president and his religious beliefs. He ties it in to the recent Suskind piece on this subject. Take a look.

"True religion leads to self-criticism, deeper reflection, repentance, and accountability which allows us to reach for something higher than ourselves. Religion which leads to easy certainty, self righteousness, and lack of self-reflection is false indeed."

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 03:30:00 PM

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From Dennis, the host of The Moderate Republican.

"Sometimes gay politics can be like the crabs in the barrel; one crab works hard to keep the other one from climbing out."

Jarvis's Issues 2004 Returns

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 01:47:00 PM

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This time it's 30 issues in 30 seconds. This is a really fun game. You have to overlook the fact that it's really only fourteen issues, and it would probably take longer than 30 seconds to read all of Jeff's answers aloud. But the point is, there are a number of issues to lay out and you have to give a very brief (one line if possible, but more if you need - keep it short) answer as to where your stand is on each. Read Jarvis's answers, (he and I hardly agree on all of them) and I'll give it a shot here. If you feel inclined, hit comments or e-mail me your own list, and I'll add them on to this post if they look interesting, or start a new one.

Judicial Appointments: Largest reason to not elect Bush. The court is already far too conservative. Nod to Kerry.

The Deficit: STOP CUTTING TAXES UNTIL YOU CUT SPENDING. Nod to Kerry, though typically I think the Democrats are no better at it, if not worse. Clinton was good, though.

Gay Rights: 100%. I'm angry that we even have to discuss it. How about "same rights for everyone, period?" Nod to Kerry.

The Death Penalty: I'm all about the Death penalty. Should be expanded to include serial rapist/torturers and serial child molesters. Nod to Bush.

Freedom of Speech: Pretty much all the time, with the understanding that the normal restrictions must remain in place. e.g. yelling "fire" in the crowded theatre, releasing secrets and the names of spies, etc. Nod to Kerry.

Abortion Rights: I used to be 100% pro choice. Now I want abortion rights in 98% of the cases, but would support restrictions on abortions when the child was old enough to survive on its own if you induced labor and the mother's life wasn't in danger. Nod to Kerry.

Stem Cell Research: All stem cells, all the time. Go through the trash cans of abortion clinics if you have to. HUGE nod to Kerry.

Social Security: I have no idea how it can be fixed, but it certainly has to. Neither man has a plan I believe. Nod to neither.

Immigration: Close the damned borders. Stop talking about giving licenses and voting privileges to illegal aliens. They're called "illegal" for a reason. Not everyone has an automatic right to live here. Bring something of value to the table and make an effort if you want to be a citizen. Nod to Bush.

Israel: I'm sick of the entire area. I respect Israel's right to be a nation. I also respect the fact that the Palestinians want a nation (and used to have one.) I'd like to see us less involved in Israel's affairs. Nod to Kerry.

Gun Control: I support the 2nd amendment, but want a definition of "guns" and "weapons of war." Everyone who remains a law abiding citizen should be able to get a gun, and not be offended if they are asked to register it and have a record of it in case it's stolen. Nobody needs a damned mortar in their house. Nod to Bush.

Trade: Free global trade is a wonderful dream, and should be pushed for where it's possible, while remembering that we have to protect American interests or we'll get slaughtered in a completely borderless global market. Nod to neither. They're both liars on this.

The Environment: Pro-environment, but not to the extent that you harm people's lives in the defense of it. We need more secure wild lands and stricter pollution controls, which we had for a few minutes at the end of Clinton's term, but lost immediately under Bush. Nod Kerry.

The Draft and National Service: Don't want one, but if we have to, make sure it's fairly applied to all people at all economic and "power" levels without all those exemptions, and fair across all other demographics. Nod to neither. They're both in denial about it.

Your turn. Ready? Go!

Those Undecided Voters Again...

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 01:37:00 PM

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I think both sides can stop pursuing them. The ones who've not made up their minds yet may not exactly be the kind of people you want voting for you. From the article linked above, one young woman who has still not made up her mind explains why she's leaning towards Bush:

Even so, Ms. Parmer said, she thought she might vote for Mr. Bush. "If you actually look at him, and he stands up next to Kerry, you just kind of feel sorry for him," she said. "I feel he's more of an underdog, he's had a hard go of it in the last four years."

I may have to join in with Tbogg on this one... "Too stupid to live, much less be allowed to vote."

I mean, please. Vote for Bush if you really think that's the best thing for this country, but at least make the effort to come up with some sort of reason.

Oh Look! More War Money Needed!

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 01:29:00 PM

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Can somebody remind me... which debate was it when Kerry mentioned something about the cost of the war being $200B and Bush chided him saying that it wasn't nearly that high? It appears that numbers in excess of 200 billion only look acceptable after November 3rd. From today's wapo.

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

You know, it might just be my memory failing with old age, but didn't the Bush team originally tell us that Iraq's oil revenues were going to pay for the lion's share of this mess? One more piece of news that Rove didn't need slipping out the side door during the last week of the election. Bend over, America. The bill is coming due.

I was going to offer some comment from the right, but I can't find a single right wing blog talking about this. Here's a few comments from the lefties.

Oh, look. Oliver Willis seems to recall something about those oil revenues also.

The Left Coaster brings up the link I couldn't find to people lambasting Kerry's comments about the war costing $200B.

The Liquid List reflects on what else we could buy with another $70B.

Mathew Gross has some interesting questions about where Poland's contribution to the bill is.

Atrios simply calls it "cute" and lets the staggering budget numbers speak for themselves. Perhaps they really do, at that.

The Trouble with the DNC...

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 01:03:00 PM

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... is that it's full of Democrats. Recently I've had people continue to ask me, "If Bush wins, are you finally going to change your voter registration to Democrat?" The short answer is, no. I'm not.

Even if a Bush win brings a sense of righteous validation to the neocons and theocons currently ruining our party and warping our platform into the confused, bigoted, homophobic, spendaholic mess that it is now, that doesn't mean I'll run to the Democrats. Why? Five reasons, really.

1. Democrats tend to be redistributionists vs. reconstructionists
2. Hillary Clinton.
3. Democrats always favor expansion of the Federal bureaucracy.
4. Democrats almost always oppose the death penalty and favor gun control.
5. Hillary Clinton.

"Ummm... you listed Hillary twice."

Yes, I know. But I really don't like Hillary.

Item number one, however, is our focus today. What do I mean by those terms? Essentially, in an open market society which is based on capitalism, there are always going to be some people who are far more successful and achieve larger gains than most other people. You can call them the haves and the have nots if you like. Or, as Bush once jokingly said at a roast (which was then taken totally out of context by Michael Moore) the "haves and the have mores."

Democrats tend to treat this as some sort of social disease, and the knee jerk response is to immediately begin taxing the most affluent people while continually cutting the taxes of lower wage earners in an attempt to redistribute the wealth around the country. Obviously this is a very popular idea with a lot of the "have nots" so the concept gains traction. That's why it is referred to as a populist theory. Sadly, it's also self-destructive and serves as poison in the well of capitalism.

In England, for example, where they have taken this theory to extremes, you can get to a certain level of income beyond which, all of the money you make will be taxed at a rate of 80%. Why on Earth would anyone bother trying to achieve more if you're going to be taxed at that staggering rate? The answer is, many don't bother, and their economy suffers for it. (Why hasn't' anyone thrown some tea in the harbor over there by now?)

People who exert the drive, effort, energy and risk assumption required to be extremely successful deserve to reap at least a reasonable harvest from their achievements. We already tax the extremely rich at an incredible rate compared to modest wage earners. (Getting them to actually pay it is another question, and badly needs to be dealt with.) Conversely, my taxes are already fairly modest on the Federal level. You could cut my Federal taxes in half and not make a significant change in my lifestyle or spending habits. These tax shifting, redistribution proposals are a political trick by the Democrats to win great favor with the majority of Americans while returning very little material gain in exchange.

A better theory is to allow the successful to keep a bit more of their earnings, but put systems in place that reward them for using those resources in a way that produce more, better paying jobs here in the United States, and improving the quality of life for people across the spectrum. At the same time, the Federal government needs to get it's massive spending addiction under control, reduce the size of the bureaucracy, and let the individual states maintain the power to handle more of their own affairs.

When the Democrats start coming up with proposals along those lines, I'll consider turning in my GOP card. Until then, I'll fight the lonely fight against Bush and his theocon cronies, and try to help steer the party back towards it's moderate, sensible roots.



You Almost Have to Feel Sorry

posted by Jazz at 10/26/2004 10:46:00 AM

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No... not for me. I mean that I'm nearly to the point of having some sympathy for Karl Rove. He must not not be getting more than a few hours sleep per night these days. First we had the sad news about the Supreme Court Chief Justice being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This is supposed to be one of the more treatable forms, and they caught it early, so that's a hopeful sign. However, it's still very serious and he needs everyone's prayers for a full and speedy recovery.

The problem with this for Rove is the timing. With less than a week to go to the election and the battleground states in a dead heat, the last thing he needs is a news headline reminding the women of America that the next president will very likely be rebuilding half of the Supreme Court. That's one battle that the conservatives will always lose.

Plus the economics numbers continue in freefall. Consumer confidence has dropped to another frightening low, even worse than the drop predicted by the always underselling White House. Talk about headaches.

And then we have the missing explosives story. The timing couldn't be worse, and frankly, there is little doubt in my mind that it was far from coincidental. There are plenty of folks in the UN community, the IAEA, and the Dem side of Congress who are not exactly in love with GWB, and letting a story like this slip out eight days before the election can't do much to hurt their cause. The breaking of that story put Rove's minions into full scramble mode and they began a zig zag run across a broken field that would have made NFL star running back Curtis Martin green with envy. The problem is, they may have moved too fast on that one, and not everyone got the same talking points before they threw themselves to the lions of the press.

There were representatives of both the Pentagon and the Iraq Ministry of Science telling the press that the explosives were there well beyond the time when the American invasion arrived. But at almost the same moment, spokesman Larry Di Rita was out there telling the press that the explosives might have been gone before we even arrived. (An opinion later backed up by NBC News who had reporters embedded with one of the units that supposedly searched the facility on or about April 10, 2003.)

Meanwhile, the White House Press Secretary was busy saying that the Bush administration knew nothing about any of this until October 15... less than two weeks ago. Unfortunately, while he was telling the press that, the Iraqis were busy reporting that they had told the head of the coalition about the missing materials in May of 2003.

What a mess. Rove likes to run a very tight ship... everyone has to be on message all the time. No deviation from the talking points is allowed, lest a crack appear in the holy armor of Bush's unassailable belief in his own Divine Infallibility. Having all of these loose cannons running around telling contradictory stories about the fate of these explosives must have had him breaking out the Xanex early and often.

Make no mistake, though... this is bad news. I don't mean bad news for Bush, or for Kerry, or for the UN. Hundreds of tons of a material that can be used to take down a jet airplane with only one pound has gone missing. As IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, our winner of this week's "Restating the Unbelievably Obvious" award told us yesterday, "One would have to assume it's been stolen by someone who has some sort of nefarious purpose for it."

You think?

Time to look at the spin, as usual giving fair time to both sides.

Michelle Malkin immediately toes the conservative, "It's all a plot by CBS and the nyt to defame our president" line. "Yet another anti-Bush bomb has exploded and the shrapnel is firmly embedded in the foreheads of the CBS producers and New York Times editors who have recklessly lobbed their weapons of journalistic destruction on John Kerry's behalf."

Arthur Chrenkoff points out the side story on the Bush reaction, saying "It's obviously also an administration that never admits a mistake, no matter how fictional."

Captain Ed, I'm sure you'll be surprised to see, is claiming a vast, liberal media conspiracy as well... "This agenda-driven journalism threatens to deflate the Paper of Record's reputation just as surely as Rathergate did CBS, fake documents or no."

Is anyone starting to see a pattern here? This (Captain's Quarters) is the same blog who, when the story about "ohmygawd Kerry lied about how many UN delegates he talked to in 2002" broke, immediately began poking fun at lefty bloggers who pointed out the fact that the "source" was the Washington Times. However, when something critical of Bush comes out, their first line of defense is to claim that CBS, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and who knows how many other media sources are all part of a vast left wing conspiracy.

Mind boggling.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Update on the "KERRY LIED!" Story

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 04:07:00 PM

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Regarding my previous entry on the Washington Times "bombshell" earlier today, I was advised in comments by Tacticus to go check out redstate.org for the truth of the matter. I have done so. (Brief aside... I'd never seen the Tacticus blog before, but it looks pretty good. A variety of contributors with different points of view, largely on political topics, which I'll be taking a longer look at this week and probably blogrolling. Check it out.)

What I found there gives some indications which might add some weight to the right side's argument, but it still seems far from conclusive. I hate being put in the position to act like a politician, but I can address some of their quotes. Please take a look at their quotes to decide for yourselves.

Almost all of the quotes talk about meeting with "members of the security council" and "the security council" but at no point does it specifically say that it was a meeting of the entire security council at one time. Also, in many of the quotes which redstate lists, Kerry specifically says, I met with "... the Germans, the French, the British..." which, to me, still sounds like it would be referring to individual meetings.

To give fair play to the other side, however, he does say on more than one occasion, (and I'm just giving redstate the benefit of the doubt, assuming that each and every quote is 100% dead on accurate without fact checking them) that he met with the "entire security council."

Now, a case could still be made that he was referring to all of the members of the permanent council, none of which have denied talking to him. But for the moment, let's play devil's advocate and assume that he fully intended to imply that he had spoken to all fifteen members of the council who were onboard at that time. Fair enough. He claimed to have met with fifteen of them while in reality he only met with eleven or twelve. Here, we have caught Kerry in at least an exaggeration, or if you prefer, and outright lie.

What was he lying about? He's talking about the fact that he took the time and effort to go meet with the members of the UN Security Council to discuss the important Iraq resolution before the vote. The number of people he talked to may have been off, if he skipped the all important Bulgarian delegation, but he did what he was claiming to have done.

Second, and in my opinion, far more important point - let's say you are the Washington Times and you are looking to bring up an October Surprise to help your guy out. And "your guy" is the Bush-Cheney team. Is the issue of lying, honesty and credibility (because that's all there really is left to this story once you concede that Kerry really did meet with most of the UN delegates to talk about the resolution) really the issue you want to bring into a fight? If Bush is your boxer, you're going to walk into the ring and lead out with a jab saying, "Kerry said he met with 15 members and he only met with ELEVEN!"

Your opponent is now going to pull back his right fist to the vicinity of Omaha and unleash a set of haymakers that will break every bone in your body. Both Bush and Cheney have been caught dead to rights on so many blatant lies over the course of their administration that it's staggering. We don't' even have to search back past the last few weeks and the debates!

Bush: "I don't think I ever said I wasn't concerned about bin Laden. That must be one of them, what ya call'em?.. ex zag ree ayshuns!" (Cut to film of Bush saying exactly that at a press conference.)

Cheney: " No, no. I never said that it was pretty well confirmed that Saddam met with Al Queda terrorists..." ) Cut to "Meet the Press" interview where Cheney is saying, "...it's pretty well confirmed that he met..."

Seriously now. Is this the fight that you want to drag Bush into with eight days to go? The Washington Times may have done more harm to Bush than good in their effort to help him. I'm not going to argue that Kerry is some sort of pillar of honesty. He's a politician and, facts be known, I still don't even like him. Living in a blue state where my vote doesn't count anyway, I'm still tettering on the edge of voting for the Libertarian candidate just to make a statement. But this "revelation" by the Washington Times is still, I'm afraid, a real yawner.

Yes, Another Politics Self-Evaluation Test

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 01:15:00 PM

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Hat Tip to my friend Windy City Mike, at Musings of a Chicagoan, for pointing me to the OK Cupid Politics Test.

I found this one a bit frustrating, because I don't like tests where you have to agree or disagree to some extent, but are not offered the option of being neutral or "no opinion." However, it still covered a lot of subjects. It's 42 questions but it goes by fast. Shouldn't take you more than a few minutes. I definitely don't agree with the answer I received, but in the interest of fairness I'll share it.

You are a:

Social Liberal (60% Permissive)

and an

Economic Moderate (56% Permissive)

Yikes. That's twice in two weeks that somebody called me a liberal. (Even if one of them was a computer program and not a person.) I'd better go burn some Nader 04 signs or something.

A Correction

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 01:08:00 PM

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Earlier this weekend I published a piece on the fun situations you encounter when husbands and wives or other members of families live in the same household but belong to different political parties during such a contentious election season. In that essay, I apparently allowed a slight typo to make it through the spell checker and accidentally referred to my wife, Georg, as a "commie loving, tree hugging, bloodthirsty nihilistic liberal."

Several of you were kind enough to e-mail me last night inquiring if I had been comfortable and able to get enough sleep on the sofa bed. (Thanks for the concern.) It never came to that, but after reading it, my darling spouse did offer a correction which, in the interest of journalistic accuracy, I shall pass along here. Surprisingly, it wasn't the type of correction you might expect. She simply said, in that deadpan, Democratic way,

"I'm a bit more liberal than that."

So... consider that a correction. The original sentence should have read, my wife is "...somewhat to the left of a commie loving, tree hugging, bloodthirsty nihilistic liberal."

We apologize for any errors in original coverage.


Tax Cuts for Regular Americans

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 11:46:00 AM

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Right.

Bush Quietly Signs $140B Corporate Tax Cut Bill.

Notice that they slipped that one in on a Friday evening to try to keep press coverage to a minimum. Turnspit Daily has all the details. Go read it. I'm too ill to expand on this much more. I'll just let John McCain speak for me on this pork ridden piece of legislation.

"the worst example of the influence of special interests that I have ever seen."

Electoral College Meltdown

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 09:51:00 AM

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Hat Tip to Taegan Goddard for this link to one of the more recent looks at the Electoral College breakdown (or meltdown) by Eric Black. While it provides a fascinating variety of scenarios, all involving battleground states that could still swing either way, Eric's final analysis is best summed up thusly:

"There are too many moving parts in the Electoral College to make a reliable projection of the electoral votes. That means there are more than enough tossup states to turn the final outcome into a rout for either side or a nail-biter that won't be decided until weeks after Election Day."

One trouble aspect, as he points out, is that "There also are quite plausible scenarios in which there would be an Electoral College tie, throwing the final decision into the House of Representatives."

This is a haunting specter hanging over the collective shoulders of the electorate like a buzzard sniffing soon to be expired prey. A number of the scenarios which Eric outlines resulting in a tie are not far-fetched at all. And if this happens, it could be the last laugh for Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. True, DeLay is, thankfully, looking like he's on is way to either being out of office, or seated in the back of the bus with little influence over the future of the GOP. But his legacy will always be the gerrymandering of Texas and getting the conservative courts to back him up on it.

No matter how well or poorly the Democrats do in the race for the White House or in trying to regain control of the Senate, there is simply no way they are taking the House in this election cycle. One of the main reasons is the seven extra seats that Tom was able to purchase with cold, hard cash down in Texas. And if the Electoral College did end in a 269-269 tie, there are more than enough red states to ensure that they would select Bush to retain the presidency, regardless of the will of the populace.

Sleep tight, moderate America.

Analysis: Future of the GOP

posted by Jazz at 10/25/2004 09:18:00 AM

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There is an analysis in the New York Times by Elisabeth Bumiller which is a must-read for all moderate Republicans. In this piece, she examines commentary from a number of respected observers of American political evolution regarding possible future shifts in the Republican party should Bush (hopefully) lose this election. The outlook, as Ms. Bumiller paints it, is not rosey for us.

After some prognostication about the inevitable finger pointing and who the fall guys would be, she gets down to the meat of the article. She sees John McCain as coming into great influence as a bridge builder between the parties during a Kerry presidency, but sadly not as an influencer of the direction of the party.

"But on the central question of whether a loss would shift the party more to the center, Republicans say no. Yes, there would be a huge fight over Iraq. Yes, there would be bigger fault lines between the tax-cutters and deficit hawks. And yes, the party would experience a massive depression as it picked itself up from the loss. But Republicans say that a defeat of Mr. Bush would not usher in a moderate new era."

Newt Gingrich continues to be one of the most destructive forces in the party's downward spiral. I fail to understand how he continues to wield so much influence. The man is living in denial of America's clear rejection of the theocon agenda.

"I don't think we have to overhaul the Republican party under any circumstance,'' said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who is writing a book on America in the 21st century. "We have the governors of the four largest states, we have the House, we have the Senate, and the senator from Massachusetts is going to Ohio to hunt two weeks before the election. John Kerry is having to pretend to be us.''

David R. Gergen, a professor of public service at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a veteran of the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton White Houses said "I don't think that is going to happen. Conservatives will argue that it's not because of our conservatism that we lost. They'll look for scapegoats on the national security team. They'll say the war was a good idea, it was just poorly executed.''

"Bush lost because of Iraq - O.K., but that doesn't suggest a change in policy because Iraq was not central to any part of the Republican party or its philosophy,'' said Grover Norquist. "It was a judgment call. It may have been a good idea, it may have been a bad idea. So the Republican party will decide not to do more Iraqs. If you weren't the president, you weren't doing Iraqs anyway. The party will continue to be anti-tax and push for more. We will still be the deregulation party, and still the free trade party.''

Apparently, according to Norquist (who has been drinking somebody's koolaid, though I'm not sure who's) the best we can hope for from a Bush loss is no more Iraqs?!? Is this a tacit confession that they are planning "more Iraqs" if Bush wins?

Walter Russell Mead, a Democrat who is the Henry A. Kissinger fellow in United States foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, gave perhaps one of the most depressing forecasts.

"Brent Scowcroft represents the center right of the old foreign policy establishment, and that establishment has no real future in Republican Party politics. Part of it is just the sheer passage of time. While people like Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage could carry on that tradition, that would only happen in a Republican administration in 2008. These guys only come alive when a president picks them.''

There's plenty more, but I'll leave you to read it yourself. It is exactly these types of attitudes among the largest mouthpieces of the GOP which make it imperative that moderate Republicans take up the call for reform very loudly over the next four years. If we fail in this, you're going to see a clone of George W. Bush running against Hillary Clinton in 2008, and we're going to get stomped soundly, a minority party wallowing in a rejected sea of ultraconservatism.