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

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Kerik flunks Newsweek's background check

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/11/2004 02:12:00 PM

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In truth, Kerik was a corrupt GOP politician who happened to have a badge. Everything you need to know about why he was your typical Bush government servant is here, thanks to the Center for American Progress.
I was going to write something on Kerik's exit from the Homeland Security Department before he even entered but Steve Soto did such a good job there is no reason for me to. He has some choice words for the Democratic Senators from New York as well.
But let's also throw a brick at both New York Senators, Hillary Clinton and Chuck (See No Evil With Gonzales) Schumer, both of whom praised the selection of this Oliver North-loving, ethically challenged political hack who has misused his office and his staff for personal gain. So from now on, please shut up Chuck and Hillary. Neither one of you have any guts or real judgment.
That should make those of you who are worried about a Hillary run for president sleep a little easier.

Late Start for Saturday

posted by Jazz at 12/11/2004 11:26:00 AM

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Ooooops!

Our apologies, but some unexpected travel and a sudden invitation to a conference will delay posting on Running Scared today, aside from any guest blogger contributions. Please check back later in the day. In the meanwhile, be sure to check out the blogrolls for some fresher content from other wonderful bloggers.

May I humbly suggest The Buzz Machine and James Wolcott?

Edit: OH NO! The Moderate Voice has fallen into second place in the 2004 Weblog Awards! He's only behind by one percent. Please consider heading over and putting in a vote for this excellent blog.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Vrbana Bridge

posted by Mike at 12/10/2004 12:09:00 PM

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There's a song I've heard quite a few times called "Vrbana Bridge," by Jill Sobule. It was one of those songs which I enjoyed the melody of, and never really bothered to read the lyrics.

Well, today I read the lyrics, and did a bit of Googling, where, to my horror, I learned that it was a true story:

Two lovers lie dead on the banks of Sarajevo’s Miljacka river, locked in a final embrace.

For four days they have sprawled near Vrbana bridge in a wasteland of shell-blasted rubble, downed tree branches and dangling power lines.

So dangerous is the area no one has dared recover their bodies.

Bosko Brckic and Admira Ismic, both 25, were shot dead on Wednesday trying to escape the besieged Bosnian capital for Serbia.

Sweethearts since high school, he was a Serb and she was a Moslem.

"They were shot at the same time, but he fell instantly and she was still alive," recounts Dino, a soldier who saw the couple trying to cross from government territory to rebel Serb positions.

"She crawled over and hugged him and they died like that, in each other’s arms."

Squinting through a hole in the sandbagged wall of a bombed-out building, Dino points to where the couple lie mouldering amid the debris of Bosnia’s 14-month civil war.


What more can you say? I suppose the reason I'm posting this to RS is to share the visceral reaction it gave me in the gut about the human cost of war.

Sarajevo was a long time ago. But the fact is that war breeds tragedy and death. That's not exactly a new observation, but it bears repeating. Saddam Hussein and his regime were monsters. I will admit that. And I think that deposing him was a moral act. But we did so in a hasty and unprepared manner, without enough manpower, and as a result, we f—ked the job up. And because we did the job in a supremely half-assed manner, we created a situation where there is going to be a hell of a lot more tragedy, death, sorrow, and cost in human life. And that, to me, was an immensely immoral act.

"We will serve with the best interest of this country. We will go to war if we need to. We will do whatever it takes to protect this country because we love it so much. But with that comes the obligation to the government of 'don't abuse it.' Don't make what we do a waste. Or don't put our lives in jeopardy if there's not a really good reason. It wasn't a proper use of American troops. It wasn't a proper use of my life, of my friend's lives, or the Marines who I've seen die around me. It's not a proper use." Lee Buttrill, Seargant, Marine Corps, Veteran of Iraq War

The Late Great United States

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/10/2004 11:00:00 AM

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Over at the Left Coaster pessimist lives up to his name this morning. In one of his typically very long posts with lots of links he discusses the rise of China as a World Power. The rapid rise of China as the worlds leader is being accelerated by the Bush administration's unilateral foreign policy and a domestic policy that is resulting in a plunging dollar. Europe is jumping on the Chinese band wagon by initiating trade pacts and talk of lifting the arms embargo. I can't do the post justice with a few copy and pastes so head over to the Left Coaster and check out The Dragon Stirring.

Super Squirrel (Insert dramatic cartoon music here)

posted by Jazz at 12/10/2004 09:36:00 AM

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Dave Rossi really needs to get his column nationally syndicated. Today he talks about an issue that may sound trite, but is near and dear to my heart - squirrels and bird feeders. His rather comical description of squirrels is spot on.

I am not fond of squirrels. They are nature's version of the welfare queens that Ronald Reagan used to denounce, except these furry welfare queens are real. Why the harsh judgment? Simple. There is plenty in the woods and fields for these little rodents to eat if they would only make the effort to find it.

Instead, they prefer to dine at bird feeders. Bird feeders become squirrel feeders unless you take precautions. And let me tell you from experience that just about every precaution you take, a squirrel will overcome within hours; sometimes minutes. If they spent half as much effort figuring out ways to get food in the wild as they do plundering bird feeders, they'd all be fat as shoats. But no, they'd rather free-load.

He then goes on to describe a rather brilliant way to construct a bird feeder using a beer ball which seemed to be virtually squirrel-proof. That is... until he met ... Super Squirrel.

[Y]ou've got a squirrel-proof feeder. Or so I thought until I met Supersquirrel. That was a couple of months ago. I was awakened shortly after dawn one day by the sound of one of the beer balls on a backyard feeder being assaulted. My first thought was a bear; we'd had one in the neighborhood recently.

It wasn't a bear; it was a squirrel. It looked no different from the four other squirrels nibbling at the sunflower seeds that the blue jays had scattered from the feeder tray onto the ground, but this one was clinging to the feeder pole and trying to rip the nail supporting the base of the beer ball from its hole in the pipe.

And when it tired of that it would use its head to butt the beer ball up against the base of the feeder. This was clearly a squirrel among squirrels. After a few frustrating minutes, the squirrel dropped off the pole and ducked under a nearby honeysuckle bush. But five minutes later, apparently refreshed, it was back at it, scrambling up the pole, chomping at the nail and head-butting the beer ball.

I left off watching to take a shower. When I came out, all was quiet in the back yard -- too quiet, as they used to say in those B-movie thrillers. A glance out the window told me why. The beer ball was on the ground and Supersquirrel was sitting on the feeder tray stuffing his furry face with sunflower seeds.

I've had some direct experience with this situation. We have a fairly effective bird feeder in our back yard of the squirrel-proof variety. Without going into too many details, it has a spring loaded "perch" in front of the small slot where the bird seed is available. If anything much heavier than a couple smallish birds sits on the perch, it lowers down, closing a metal cover over the slot and preventing access to the food. A squirrel or any bird of pigeon size or larger, will weigh down the mechanism and block off the food. So, primarily, we only get sparrows and nut hatches feeding in our yard.

An unexpected side effect of this was a social experiment which demonstrated that small birds are just as lazy and greedy as your average human. Instead of a variety of birds just "passing through" and visiting our feeder, we quickly acquired a dozen or so Mafia type avian thugs who absolutely refuse to ever leave the yard, or indeed travel further than an ornamental bush about five yards from the feeder. They protect their treasure trove aggressively, chasing off any new birds who show up.

And with them, we also acquired The Squirrel. As animals go on the intelligence scale, this one is certainly bright enough. He quickly figured out that he couldn't eat at the feeder because of the trap door. But he also was quick to realize that birds are fairly sloppy eaters, particularly when they are fighting for a spot on the perch. They knock down all manner of seeds towards the ground and The Squirrel spends his days standing down there like a Yankees right fielder, baseball glove raised up, waiting to catch the treats as they fall.

The next consequence of this chain of events is that the pack of brutish birds (and The Squirrel) have all become incredibly fat. Seriously... both the formerly tiny birds and the robbing rodent have blown up to the point where they absolutely waddle.

Normally neither the birds nor The Squirrel are in any danger. Our cats are strictly indoor felines, though they do all love gathering around the windows near the back of the house and watching "bird TV" as my wife calls it. The dog, upon being let out into the yard, will make a half hearted attempt at catching The Squirrel, but she is old and even in his plump condition, the furry little thief always makes it to a nearby tree before the dog can get close. As for the birds, our dog realized at an early age that birds get an unfair advantage in the chase game by virtue of being able to escape in three dimensions, and now she just ignores them.

So all was well for our feeding visitors until this fall. That's when our new guests arrived. They are a pair of red tailed hawks. I don't know where they nest, but they quickly figured out that a yard with a built in population of fat, slow moving sparrows was a pretty good spot to hang out. So now we're feeding larger birds too. The difference is, they don't eat bird seed.

I just can't figure out why they won't take care of the squirrel, though. Don't hawks eat rodents as well as small birds? Or is this fat bastard just too heavy to haul up into the air, so they stick with the smaller snacks? I don't' have the heart to shoot the squirrel or trap him, so I suppose he can just go on with his freeloading for now.

More Revisionist History

posted by Jazz at 12/10/2004 09:31:00 AM

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Today, Charles Krauthammer (leading Bush apologist and historical revisionist) decided to get an early start on rewriting the history books to make Bush look like less of an incompetent failure. I decided to slap him around a bit over at Middle Earth Journal. While you're there, be sure to check out Ron's entry on the President's penchant for playing dress up. It's worth the trip.

Hold Off on the Kwanzaa Cards

posted by Jazz at 12/10/2004 07:33:00 AM

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Radical Christian Cleric Pat Robertson seems to be at it again. Having become bored with attacking pro-choice liberals, he apparently decided to spice up his holiday agenda by attacking Kwanzaa, calling the holiday "an absolute fraud."

After lamenting that "left wing educators, left-wing judges are stripping every vestige of our Christian heritage," Robertson, host and Christian Coalition of America founder, said: "Kwanzaa is an absolute fraud. You know, there was no festival in Africa called 'Kwanzaa.' I mean, it's made up by a bunch of hippie-types on the West Coast. I mean, it's not something that goes back to Africa. No way."

Boy howdy. It's good to know that this is the sort of high quality fellow who has the President's ear, eh?

Source: Media Matters for America

Just Answer the Question

posted by Jazz at 12/10/2004 07:21:00 AM

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There's an interesting piece up at the Nieman Watchdog today concerning the scarcity of press conferences during the Bush administration, and the President's reluctance to ever answer any straight questions with straight answers. Suggestions are offered for correcting this problem.

George W. Bush has held far fewer solo news conferences than any president in the modern era. And when he does meet with the press, he avoids direct answers so brazenly that there is scant little value in it anyway. It's time the White House press corps did something about it.


How? In interviews, a half dozen of the best White House correspondents of the recent past have offered up some suggestions for the reporters who will be covering Bush's second term. And one place they can start is by reminding the public of a number of important, outstanding questions left unanswered about Bush's first term.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Friday Pet Blogging: Early Start

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 09:09:00 PM

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The Modulator already has the Friday Ark up and running. This week's Carnival of Cats will be held at CathColl.Net.

And today, Colin fips a wrist. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (Click on image for far too large picture.)



Political Blogging and Ethics, Update

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/09/2004 06:51:00 PM

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Jazz had a post this morning on the CBS article on Blogging and Ethics. David Brock of the Media Matters mentioned in the article has written a letter to CBS asking them to issue a correction. He tells them what he thinks of the kind of journalism they are practicing:
This article is journalism at its shoddiest -- both wrong in its facts and unclear in its meaning. Please post a correction to those inaccuracies.
I think that sums it up pretty well.

Don't Waste the Pretty

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 03:10:00 PM

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Right off the bat, I'd like to state my complete lack of qualifications by saying that I've never read the book, "He's Just Not That Into You" (Behrendt, Tuccillo, $19.95) but I've seen it splashed across CNN, the Times, and a variety of talk shows. However, NYC Babylon has seen fit to expound on this allegedly sage tome and even form a set of New Year's resolutions from it. (We'll get to those in a moment.)

First of all, I can not recall a single moment in my life when I ever thought I was in danger of some woman sitting anxiously by the phone waiting for me to call her. It just wasn't something that I could picture happening in my universe. As a younger man I had a far more bludgeoning approach to dating. (And oh God, how I hated the dating scene.) When I first met Georg, it wasn't at some club or bar or bookstore sipping cinnamon lattes. We were both volunteering at a shelter for homeless animals. She was wearing coveralls, shovelling dog poo out of a pen, and belting out an a cappella rendition of "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" by Tom Lehrer. Truth be told, I knew at that moment I wanted to marry her. I took the bull by the horns and simply asked her out.

Having an IQ far above that of most mere mortals, she wisely shot me down. Never being one to let cold, hard reality interfere with my plans in life, I ignored all hints and just kept asking her out every time I saw her - at last count I think it got up in the range of three dozen requests. Finally, out of a sense of exasperation or simply exhaustion, she consented. It was either that, or a desire to punish her father... I've never been sure which. Fortunately I only had to propose once. The rest, as they say, is history.

However, as that book suggests, it seems to be a far bigger issue for women. Now, I'm going to digress yet again and state up front that this blog most definitely does NOT have a "love/hate relationship" with NYC Babylon. It's something more akin to a "fascinated/frightened relationship" if anything. It's a peek into a world that is completely foreign to me - at once strange and wonderful, but on other levels horrifying to someone who leads my bucolic lifestyle.

On to this epiphany which the author has reached and the subsequent resolutions. Here they are, with no snipping or editing on my part:

1. I will not wait for men to call me. Rather than sit by the phone, I will go out with Snacks and enjoy myself.

2. I will not ever let myself become a second-tier woman. I will not accept any dates unless they are made at least three business days in advance.

3. I will not accept or go on booty calls, unless I am the caller. If I do go on one, and the man is passed out from too much Wild Turkey and doesn't open the door, I will not accept any additional dates with him.


4. If he's too busy, I will immediately move on. Bicoastal men are now out of the question.


5. I will not go out with married men.


6. I will stay away from addicts.


7. I will follow my instincts. As Oprah said, "If you ever have doubt, don't do it."


Most of this sounds like some really solid thinking. If I were more rude, I would wonder why those weren't rules that any single woman would have in place to start with. (Not to mention that, until recently, my only concept of anything referred to as a "booty call" would have involved a shoe store.) Be that as it may, and as my nature stands, I have to begin wondering about the "snacking" theory. (You really need to follow the "snack" link and read the essay, "The Joy of Snacking With Younger Men" to follow this next bit.)

I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I would find it hypocritical in the extreme to condemn a woman for dating a man several years her junior. (Georg is a decade younger than me. ) So why not? But the reasons given in the "snacking" theory make it clear that there is no intent of any long term relationship. How embarrassing, then, for both the man and the woman if the relationship should suddenly blossom into something serious? Through the wonders of the internet (oh.. sorry... "internets". Hat Tip to the president) words like that live on forever. And if the young man in question finds out that his beloved originally considered him nothing more than a cheap way to pass an evening? Is he crushed? Or merely happy that she found him interesting at all? I know that I spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to separate young women from their clothing in my youth, and their motives were not much on my mind if they agreed.

So what say you? Snacking... is it good, or a recipe for disaster? Perhaps this is yet another of those ubiquitous "men are from Mars, Women from Venus" questions. Or perhaps, as I've long suspected, I'm just tragically unhip. You be the judge.

Possible Fla. GOP Vote Fraud Connection?

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 01:18:00 PM

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This from Jill's blog, Brilliant at Breakfast. The source for this is a pretty obscure one, and I'd like to see some coverage in a more mainstream media outlet before I get to hyped up, but if there is anything to this, I'm going to be very upset. And you wouldn't like me when I get upset.

An exhaustive investigation has turned up a link between current Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney, a customized Windows-based program to suppress Democratic votes on touch screen voting machines, a Florida computer services company with whom Feeney worked as a general counsel and registered lobbyist while he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and top level officials of the Bush administration.

Go read and judge for yourselves.

Uh Oh

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 01:02:00 PM

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The One True Tami is angry. Can't say as I blame her. Intolerant throwbacks beware! Your days are numbered. Mend your evil, theoconservative ways, or you risk a mighty smiting!

Just Keep Laughing at Hillary - Not

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 10:30:00 AM

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For those who keep poo-pooing the idea that Hillary Clinton may wind up in the White House, Peggy Noonan has an unusually lucid piece in Opinion Journal today on the subject. I still have some days when I'm on the fence on this subject. On the one hand, Hillary winning the presidency would at least get her out of my home state of New York, hopefully to never plague us again. But on the other hand, we'd be inflicting her on the entire country. I've pretty much given up hope on seeing her defeated in the 2006 Senate race here. Our only chance was going to be if Giuliani or Pataki ran against her, but frankly they both seem to have their eyes on the White House themselves these days, and taking a seat in the Senate could be the kiss of death for them.

But back to Noonan's essay. She raises a few good Q&A points.

She is taking care of her liberal base while cherry-picking key issues on which she can get to the right of the Republican party. This is most astute and quite effective. For the liberals she produces a steady stream of base-friendly efforts (Special Committee on the Aging, education funding, help for the emotionally disturbed, extended unemployment insurance) and classic pork barrel. To get to the right of the president she talks homeland security and immigration. On homeland security she fights for increased funding, better controls at U.S. ports, tightened security for nuclear power plants and chemical plants. She issues warnings about the use of weapons of mass destruction on American soil. She is a member of the Armed Services Committee and likes to talk about military reform. On immigration she has begun talking tough on border security, accusing the administration of not spending enough, employing enough people, using the best technology.

This is exactly as per previous predictions. I may have a lot of negative things to say about Queen Hillary, but I would never accuse her of being incompetent in terms of politics and campaigning. She's also married to one of the most successful politicians in history and has a built in support staff with a lot of experience.

Look at what Bush did in both of his elections. It was exactly what Peggy Noonan points out about Hillary, except to the opposite side of the aisle. He "spoke in code" to his extreme conservative supporters ("culture of life", etc.) while publicly painting a more moderate face on his party and some of his positions. It was devastatingly effective. Clinton is doing the same thing. She'll keep up the winks and nods to the most liberal elements, while taking strong public stands on some moderate or even conservative issues. If you're not frightened yet, you should be. Some more from Peggy:

If Mrs. Clinton is such a big Democratic star, why didn't her colleagues consider her for majority leader, instead of the less impressive and sophisticated Harry Reid?

She doesn't want it. She doesn't want to lead the Democratic senators. She wants to lead the Hillary for President effort. She wants her independence. She will in fact demonstrate some of that independence down the road by opposing the Democratic Conference when it is insufficiently tough, pragmatic and moderate on some key issues of her concern. Nothing will more underscore her reputation for moderation, and she has nothing to lose, as she doesn't care what the other senators think of her. She thinks they're the guys in the background in the photo-op. Similarly she will take no serious part in telling her party how to turn itself around. She will keep her wisdom to herself.

Betsy Newmark nails it on the head, saying:

She'll woo conservative writers and be seen to be working with conservative senators. But, it may not be enough to wipe out a lifetime's record of liberal positions. The Republicans probably have huge files of statements she's made in the past and they'll get ready to throw each and every one of those at her and challenge her to explain her previous positions. I hope that will be enough.

World O'C
rap charitably comes to Hillary's defense.

[S]ince Peggy has all this great insight into Hillary left over from the book, and Hillary is still alive and doing stuff, Peggy decides to predict Hillary's future. The gist of her all her prognostication is: over the next couple of years, Hillary will pretend to be hard working, sensible, moderate, and smarter than George Bush, so that she can be nominated for President -- and only then will our beloved candidate be unmasked as nothing but a hideous space reptile.

Even though he may be defending Queen Hillary, it's a pretty funny piece. Give it a read.

Please get in line, the rack is occupied right now

posted by Mu at 12/09/2004 09:58:00 AM

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Have you ever wondered about those enlisted men implicated in the prisoner abuse scandal always claiming that they were told that's ok to rough people up? I mean, why would any reasonable man do that in the first place, it's not like you can use the evidence obtained that way. Wrong, that's excactly why they are doing it. CNN actually reports that the military tribunals are allowed to use evidence from torture, since enemy combatants have no constitutional rights.
Just pray you'll never been declared an enemy combatant in the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on AIDS, the was on poverty or whatever else war we're fighting right now.

Political Blogging and Ethics

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 09:15:00 AM

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The blogosphere is abuzz this morning over the latest gaff by CBS concerning bloggers. David Kuhn's piece, "Blogs: New Medium, Old Politics" is unfortunately so full of holes that you could strain pasta with it, but it does raise some interesting questions. First, however, to some of the glaring errors.

The two leading South Dakota blogs ? websites full of informal analysis, opinions and links ? were authored by paid advisers to Thune?s campaign. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign. The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune?s 2002 congressional race. Hypothetically, if The Washington Post discovered that The New York Times had a reporter being paid by the Bush campaign it would report it. If proven, the suspect reporter would be fired and likely never work in mainstream journalism again. Hence, the courts have been satisfied with the industry?s ability to regulate itself.

In the case of Duncan Black, this is what happened. The author of the popular liberal blog Atrios
, Black wrote under a pseudonym. All the while, he was a senior fellow at a liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.


I'll get to whether this is an "ethics violation" or not in a moment, but some of this is just factually off the beam. First of all, I have to ask if Kuhn even opened up a web browser to look at any blogs before writing this. Atrios is not the name of the blog, it's the pseudonym that Duncan Black writes under. The name of the blog is Eschaton. And the phrase "All the while" is rather interesting since Atrios has been blogging for several years, and only started working for Media Matters this summer. Plus, as soon as he did begin working for them, he went public about his blog, who he was, etc. Lastly, while it's certainly a liberal group, Media Matters is not part of the DNC, nor was it part of any Democrat's specific campaign, so Atrios was never a paid election worker in the party. That's a bit different from the Thune bloggers who were, in fact, paid consultants to the Thune campaign but did not indicate that in their blogs.

The article then, however, gets down to some interesting questions about ethics in blogging and how, if at all, it can be compared to the ethical "requirements" on conventional newspapers and the MSM.

?People are pretty smart in assuming that if a blog is making a case on one side that it?s partisan,? Jamieson said. ?The problem is when a blog pretends to hold neutrality but is actually partisan.? That is not a legal problem, however, but an ethical one. Black eventually claimed credit for his blog and fellow bloggers heavily publicized his political connections. But he is still blogging.

Beginning next year, the F.E.C. will institute new rules on the restricted uses of the Internet as it relates to political speech.
?I think those questions are going to have to be asked and answered,? said Lillian BeVier, a First Amendment expert at the University of Virginia. ?It?s going to be an issue and it should be an issue.?

There was a time when questions like this would never have crossed my mind. The idea that any reader could browse through Atrios or Power Line or, God forbid, Michelle Malkin, and somehow confuse that with "real news" as if they were looking at CNN's site seemed patently ridiculous. Now I'm not so sure. I had that opinion before I found out how many people in our country think that God created people in their present form six thousand years ago, and the shocking number who think that the sun revolves around the Earth. Creationism is on the rise in public schools across the "heartland" and a small majority of Americans voted for Bush. Who am I to say what they might or might not believe?

So... should blogs be required to provide some sort of disclaimer in their banners stating who the author is, who they get paid by, (if anyone) and reinforcing the fact that the blog is providing opinions rather than "hard news?" Most newspapers and television networks have some sort of slant to one side or the other, and they are still theoretically serving up "unbiased" news. Blogs just happen to be more drastic about it.

Nate Nance seems to think that the blogs, like newspapers, are capable of regulating themselves.


I'm fairly certain that readership is competition is enough to keep blogs honest just like newspapers. I mean, we all know when Josh Marshall says something it's probably true and we all know when Michelle Malkin writes something in her blog she's just being a Nazi. Simple as that.

Predictably, Captain Ed takes this as nothing but one more opportunity to trash CBS and claim that he was somehow partly responsible for the downfall of the evil Dan Rather. But he does ask the valid question of whether or not such "regulation" could wind up impeding free speech and first amendment rights, rather than protecting it. An odd position for CBS to take, indeed.

Steve Gilliard probably sums it up best in a long, but definitely worthwhile post on this subject.

[T]he idea that the courts have ruled on the idea that newspapers are "self-regulating" are specious at best. Nothing he suggests is legal or even defendable in a court of law. I don't remember that as part of my J school coursework. Kathleen Jamieson, who is a boring as she is useless, missing the Bush campaign's abuse of the facts must have been hard, isn't a First Amendment lawyer. I don't think the FEC is going to be able to do much against the First Amendment.

I'm not sure where this will end up... possibly in the courts. Ensuring the rights of the "citizens' media" will probably trump any concerns over accuracy or bias in reporting when it comes to blogging.

Grave Robbers!

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 08:20:00 AM

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Normally you think of that term as applying to some scurrilous individuals who dig up graves and steal the possessions of the dead. In England, however, they apparently just steal the grave itself.

Burial plot occupied by stranger

A woman from Essex is desperately trying to trace the relatives of a stranger who was mistakenly buried in a grave with her mother.

The error means there is no room for other family members, including a man who died last week.

Barbara Wilson, of Maldon, was hoping to bury her brother Robert in the family plot at Luton Church Cemetery in Beds, only to find it occupied.

The blunder - and burial - apparently took place more than 30 years ago.

But the mixup but only came to light when Mrs Wilson tried to make funeral arrangements for her brother and discovered that a man named John Porter had already been interred at the gravesite.

She said: "I am really upset and quite often just burst into tears.

"I had the option of cremating my brother or putting him in a grave somewhere else or in the same cemetery - or the other option was to have him stored until the problem could be solved.

"We cannot afford to do that, so we have opted to cremate him, which was against our wishes."

The Reverend Canon Nick Bell, chairman of the cemetery's trustees, said: "We sympathise with Mrs Wilson and are taking all possible steps, legally, pastorally and practically to try to resolve this situation."

That must come as a pretty nasty surprise. Imagine having workers start digging the grave for your relative, and having the shovel make that awful "thunk" sound when they hit the casket of a squatter.

Bring Out Your Dead

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 07:07:00 AM

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... but don't count them. At least not if you're Tony Blair.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected demands that he set up an independent inquiry into the number of civilians killed in Iraq. Some 46 campaigners, including former British ambassadors, eminent academics, a bishop and a former British military chief, on Wednesday sent an open letter to Blair saying Britain and the United States have a duty to count the number of people killed in the ongoing violence.

The letter, which was also signed by human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger and writer Harold Pinter, said the government was "obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population during military operations in Iraq."

"However, without counting the dead and injured, no one can know whether Britain and its coalition partners are meeting these obligations," it added.

Blair immediately took the Bush stance of insisting that it was just the "terrorists" killing civilians, not the American and British forces. As I've said before, Blair is a disgrace, and the people of England need to give him the boot. Perhaps he can move to Crawford and live on Dubya's ranch.

Pale Male Evicted

posted by Jazz at 12/09/2004 06:52:00 AM

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_I don't think this had anything to do with a rent control situation, but it's still a very sad story. In case you hadn't heard, Pale Male is one of a pair of red tail hawks who took up residence in Manhattan along with his mate, Lola. They built a nest near the top of a tall building which overlooks Central Park and had been living there since 1993, hunting in the park and surrounding areas.

It seems that on Tuesday, the owners of the building unceremoniously removed the birds' nest along with some metal spikes that were holding it up. Apparently they were concerned about "bird droppings" on the sidewalk.

On Wednesday, Pale Male and Lola, his female companion, could be seen circling the building and bringing back twigs to try to rebuild the nest, which bird watchers said would be futile without the metal spikes to support it.

This story makes me absolutely sick.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Another Gem From The O'Reilly Factor

posted by Mike at 12/08/2004 01:32:00 PM

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A Jewish caller into Bill O'Reilly's show complained that the Christmas-centric activities in schools set kids up towards conversion to Christianity. I'm not so sure I'll grant the caller their premise, but then again, I've celebrated Christmas all my life. I might feel very different if I celebrated Hanukkah. (And for those who do, hey, happy first night of Hanukkah.)

But, true to the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, Good Old Bill™ invited the caller to emigrate to Israel.

You have a predominantly Christian nation. You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] — if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then. I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo — and that's your guys' — Christian, that's my guys' philosophy. But overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.


Yes, Bill. I'm sure that this was what was on that man's mind. Not that he didn't want his child celebrating another faith's holiday — it was that he wanted to insult Christians.

Oy.

The Michelle Malkin Awards

posted by Jazz at 12/08/2004 01:12:00 PM

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I don't normally read Andrew Sullivan, but today he's got a winner on his hands. He's holding the "Michelle Malkin Awards" for really bad blogging. If you read this blog at all regularly, you know that Malkin is one of my favorite bloggers. Not because I agree with her; not because of superior style or writing ability; not even for that cute little button nose of hers. No, she's one of my favorites simply because she's so bad that it's almost impossible to look away. Even if you're an aficionado of great classic film, you'll occasionally turn aside from Citizen Kane and watch part of Gigli, if only for a reality check. Much like a car wreck, some things are too horribly fascinating to avoid.

Here's how the contest works:

THE MALKIN AWARD: Every now and again, you have to hand it to a polemicist. Here's one single sentence from Michelle Malkin's latest column:
Perhaps too much drug-addled '60s nostalgia has burnt out the bleeding-hearts pacifists' brain cells.
One sentence; four cliche-ridden, playground insults. Can you beat it? Contestants can be nominated from either right or left; but the sentence must be entirely devised to insult; it should be completely devoid of originality; it must have at least two hoary, dead-as-a-Norwegian-parrot cliches; and it must assume that readers already agree with the writer. Arbitrary mean-spiritedness wins extra points. Nominations for the Malkin Award are now open.

Let's join in, shall we? I readily admit that you'd have to troll long and hard across the vast expanse of the blogosphere to find anyone as low as Michelle Malkin, but surely there must be some contenders. I wonder if Sullivan is giving out any prizes? I won't even touch on her rather despicable piece about Jeremy Hinzman. As usual, it's caustic, pretend patriotism at its worst.

New Right Blog, same nonsense

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/08/2004 10:44:00 AM

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There is a new right leaning "academic" blog, The Becker Posner Blog, which being the always optimistic guy I am I added to my blogroll before a post had been added. Well the first entry is a justification of pre-emptive war by Judge Posner. I think I would have been better off to add "Judge Judy" to my blogroll. I was going to comment on it but I think I will leave that to Medium Lobster over at Fafblog. Sometimes unabashed satire is the best response.
The Medium Lobster is proud to welcome another enlightened being, Richard Posner, into the world of internet discourse. Today Judge Posner favors readers with a discussion on preventive war, and how to justify such a war in the absence of any imminent threat:
But what if the danger of attack is remote rather than imminent? Should imminence be an absolute condition of going to war, and preventive war thus be deemed always and everywhere wrong? Analytically, the answer is no. A rational decision to go to war should be based on a comparison of the costs and benefits (in the largest sense of these terms) to the nation. The benefits are the costs that the enemy?s attack, the attack that going to war now will thwart, will impose on the nation. ...

Suppose there is a probability of .5 that the adversary will attack at some future time, when he has completed a military build up, that the attack will, if resisted with only the victim?s current strength, inflict a cost on the victim of 100, so that the expected cost of the attack is 50 (100 x .5), but that the expected cost can be reduced to 20 if the victim incurs additional defense costs of 15. Suppose further that at an additional cost of only 5, the victim can by a preventive strike today eliminate all possibility of the future attack. Since 5 is less than 35 (the sum of injury and defensive costs if the future enemy attack is not prevented), the preventive war is cost-justified.
Ah, but why keep things in the abstract, Judge Posner? The Medium Lobster has a more concrete example to illustrate your point: a preventive attack on the moon.

Once again, the probability of an attack from the moon is less than one - indeed, it is miniscule. However, the potential offensive capabilities of a possible moon man invasion could be theoretically staggering. Indeed, there is a distinct, if remarkably slim, chance that a hostile moon man civilization is currently in possession of a Death Star capable of destroying Planet Earth in a single shot. The Medium Lobster has calculated this probability to be 5x10-9. Nevertheless, should this weapon exist and be used against the earth, the resulting costs would include the end of civilization, the extinction of the human race, the eradication of all terrestrial life, the physical obliteration of the planet, and the widespread pollution of the solar system with a mass of potentially radioactive space debris. The Medium Lobster conservatively values these costs at 3x1012, bringing the expected cost of the moon man attack on earth to 1500 (5x10-9 x 3x1012), a truly massive sum. Even after factoring in the cost of exhausting earth's nuclear stockpile and the ensuing rain of moon wreckage upon the earth (200 and 800, respectively), the numbers simply don't lie: our one rational course of action is to preventively annihilate the moon.
When you need a good laugh I suggest a quick trip over to the alternate universe of Fafblog.


Illegal Immigration Solved Once and for All

posted by Jazz at 12/08/2004 10:13:00 AM

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I have to thank Joe Gandelman for pointing this one out. Apparently Malaysia has had a problem with illegal immigrants, much like we have in America. Their solution to the problem, though unique, is probably not one we'd want to adopt here. (Of course, judging by her normal rantings, Michelle Malkin would probably endorse this.)

Over 18,000 illegal immigrants in Malaysia whipped

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- A total 18,607 illegal immigrants in Malaysia were whipped under an amendment to the Immigration Act introduced in 2002, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Tan Chai Ho said Wednesday.

The number comprised 11,473 Indonesians, 2,786 Myanmars, 1,956 Filipinos, 708 Bangladeshis, 509 Indians and 1,175 other nationalities, Tan told reporters at the parliament lobby here.

"Most were whipped for entering without valid documents but the women and men above (50) years who were caught were spared," he said.

Tan warned that illegal immigrants who refused the current amnesty to leave the country that they would be flushed out when the authorities launch a large-scale operation next month.


The Wisdom of T.R.

posted by Jazz at 12/08/2004 09:56:00 AM

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No... not Tim Russert, though he's pretty wise also. Today we are talking about Teddy Roosevelt. I was reminded of him following a visit to The Bull Moose. Old Theodore was, without a doubt, one of the more colorful, inspirational, and well spoken people to ever inhabit the White House. One of his quotes was very inspirational to me this morning. Whether you are a campaign worker, a volunteer for some social cause, or just another blogger, your mouth full of pebbles, shouting at the ocean, these are good words to remember. It's not only important to be humble in victory, but to be resolute in defeat and learn from your failures.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Weblog Awards Site Repaired

posted by Jazz at 12/08/2004 09:40:00 AM

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Following some really sad occasions of people cheating on the 2004 Weblog Awards by using scripts to stuff the virtual ballot boxes, it looks like everything is straightened out again. Previously, during the first "fix" for the problem, AOL users and those behind corporate fire walls were unable to vote. Now, I can confirm that at least the firewall problem is fixed, and they have zeroed out the stuffed votes to get everything back on an even keel.

While we're on the subject, I'll put in my usual pitch to encourage you to take advantage of this little project by Wizbang, no matter what you think of his site normally. Broken down by category, you'll find a ton of blogs which you may never have heard of before, with links provided to all of them. In fact, in the "best of the rest" category, just this morning I came across a really intriguing one which I plan on looking into further. (Bitch Girls? Really?)

And, as always, should you be willing, I'll ask you to consider supporting some of my personal favorites. The Moderate Voice is holding on to a lead in the 2500-3500 category, but could still use some support. Betsy's Page is taking a good lead in the 250-500 competition, but faces some stiff competition, so I'm sure she'd appreciate a few votes. (Her husband's blog, Newmark's Door, is also in the running in the 1750-2500 slot.)

Lots more great (and not so great) blogs in many categories. Even if it's just to kill some time, give it a shot.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Christmas Carols for the Blogosphere

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 08:15:00 PM

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With the interminable Christmas season upon us already, it seems only fitting that the bloggers get down to the inevitable business of singing some Christmas Carols. The traditional ones, sadly, don't seem to fit. With that in mind, I've adapted an old tune to be more suited to our purposes. Please sing this to the tune of "My favorite things" by Julie Andrews.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs
by Jazz Shaw, Copyright 2004

Middle Earth Journal, right wing from Betsy,
Brilliant at Breakfast who's a bit too far lefty,
the wise Joe Territo and some snark from Tbogg,
these are a few of my favorite blogs.

Atrios' scandals and of course One True Tami,
James Wolcott is wise as your dear sainted mammy,
even Michelle Malkin who lies like a log,
these are a few of my favorite blogs.

New York City Babylon and then there's Jeff Jarvis,
the Moderate Voice, rich as fall's first good harvest,
Bull Moose and The Modulator with their pictures of dogs,
these are a few of my favorite blogs.

When Power Line's spin, when Captain Ed's crap,
gets me feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite blogs,
and then I don't feeeeeeeeeel, sooooooooo bad.

Happy Holidays, all you bloggers.

Kofi Annan Shrugs

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 05:23:00 PM

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In a well deserved response today, UN chief Kofi Annan told Norm Coleman to "bend over and kiss his own arse." Ok... not literally, but it was the same message. The Bushies are insanely angry that Annan knew the invasion of Iraq was a horrible mistake, and would like to have that painful reminder erased from the public forum. Currently they are trying to hide their angst behind the oil for food scandal. As some of our more rural friends like to say, "that dog just don't hunt."

We messed up on Iraq. Annan called us on it before the bombs started falling. Once he was proved correct, it's been an American right wing jihad against him ever since.

One More Reason that Red Staters Hate the French

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 01:06:00 PM

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Freedom is on the march, Fallujah style

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 10:28:00 AM

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Laz at Ungodly politics is back from hiatus with a lovely, touching piece on the spread of Democracy in Fallujah.

The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.

Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Marine commanders working in unheated, war-damaged downtown buildings are hammering out the details of their paradoxical task: Bring back the 300,000 residents in time for January elections without letting in insurgents, even though many Fallujans were among the fighters who ruled the city until the US assault drove them out in November, and many others cooperated with fighters out of conviction or fear.

One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.
As the ubiquitous blogger saying goes, read the whole thing.

I learned something new today

posted by georg at 12/07/2004 10:27:00 AM

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Did you know that the index finger and pinkie extended and other fingers in a fist gesture of which George W. is so fond does not mean W in Italy? So when he had all of his followers doing the gesture to show their support of him... they were all calling him a cuckold. Thank you, Isabella Rossellini, on the Daily Show.

This dragon kill sponsored by Nike

posted by Mu at 12/07/2004 09:57:00 AM

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Quite surprisingly, the industry has learned that there is a whole group of folks who don't use a TV as their main source of entertainment anymore. And all in that desired age group of 18 - 35, where brand impressions that last a lifetime are formed.
No, I'm not talking about the young baptist fellowship, but about PC gamers. These people just ignore your properly sancitioned enjoyment and flee into an adevertisement free half world of darkness, dungeons and, most of the time, a handfull or five of assorted chainsaws and other MWDs.
But industry is catching up . Now your racetrack will have customized advertising (just hope your mom isn't the one on the profile, or you'll get a lot of billboards for pantyliners), your dragon will wear a sponsor t-shirt, and the ammo for your machine gun will naturally be a premium brand.
Somehow "interactive" wasn't supposed to mean more fun.

Wolcott Alert

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 09:35:00 AM

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James Wolcott comes up with another winner today, taking the Al Franken radio show on Air America to task for having a Rush Windbag dittohead on as a guest nearly every day. He also succeeds in describing Rush's radio show in a way that I certainly wish I'd written.

Dittohead Mark may be Al's friend, but he never caught a rabbit and he ain't no friend of mine or anyone who appreciates good radio and a modicum of intelligence. Worse, every time Mark appears, it means we're subjected to soundbites from Mark's idol Rush Limbaugh, chunks of triumphalist snorting and chortling that are the reasons I spare myself listening to Rush in the first place.

Incidentally, did you know that you can listen to Franken's show from your computer for free? The Air America web site has live internet feeds of all their programs. You can select either RealPlayer or Windows Media Viewer and tune in whenever you like.

Wolcott also waxes eloquent on the Iraq situation and the difficulties one encounters when trying to speak reasonably with Bush apologists.

Al should have told his dittohead friend that it's too damned late to be sprinkling sugar on the mound of corpses mounting in Iraq, but instead he persisted in this exercise in futility, trying to persuade someone who's unpersuadable, winkle a mind that's proudly, defiantly clam-shut. It really is liberal masochism trying to find common ground with someone who believes liberals barely deserve to occupy the same earth.

Best ... Blogger ... Ever.

Krugman on Social Security

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/07/2004 09:31:00 AM

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Although the Bush administration tries to convince us there is not a crisis in Iraq when there is they are trying to convince us there is a crisis in the Social Security system when there isn't. Paul Krugman takes a break from his break this morning to explain that when it comes to Social Security the administration is Inventing a Crisis.
Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis.

There's nothing strange or mysterious about how Social Security works: it's just a government program supported by a dedicated tax on payroll earnings, just as highway maintenance is supported by a dedicated tax on gasoline.

Right now the revenues from the payroll tax exceed the amount paid out in benefits. This is deliberate, the result of a payroll tax increase - recommended by none other than Alan Greenspan - two decades ago. His justification at the time for raising a tax that falls mainly on lower- and middle-income families, even though Ronald Reagan had just cut the taxes that fall mainly on the very well-off, was that the extra revenue was needed to build up a trust fund. This could be drawn on to pay benefits once the baby boomers began to retire.

The grain of truth in claims of a Social Security crisis is that this tax increase wasn't quite big enough. Projections in a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (which are probably more realistic than the very cautious projections of the Social Security Administration) say that the trust fund will run out in 2052. The system won't become "bankrupt" at that point; even after the trust fund is gone, Social Security revenues will cover 81 percent of the promised benefits. Still, there is a long-run financing problem.
The problem isn't with Social Security, it's with the budget deficits caused by the Bush tax cuts. So how dies this create a Social Security crisis?
It's true that the federal government as a whole faces a very large financial shortfall. That shortfall, however, has much more to do with tax cuts - cuts that Mr. Bush nonetheless insists on making permanent - than it does with Social Security.

But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one.

My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.

If the trust fund is meaningless, by the way, that Greenspan-sponsored tax increase in the 1980's was nothing but an exercise in class warfare: taxes on working-class Americans went up, taxes on the affluent went down, and the workers have nothing to show for their sacrifice.

But never mind: the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.

There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.
"They come to bury Social Security, not to save it." The neo-feudalists who are now in charge have been trying to kill Social Security since it was started in the 30's and what upsets them the most is it's success. A government program that actually works and actually helps people runs contrary to their philosophy of Social Darwinism.

Your Monday Iraq Update - Carnival of the Not Feeling Quite So Terribly Liberated, Thank You.

posted by Jazz at 12/07/2004 08:34:00 AM

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Things just seem to get better and better! Ok... that was just propaganda to brighten you up on a Monday morning. It's still going to hell in a handbasket. Here's some observations from the recently released CIA report concerning the situation on the ground.

A classified cable sent by the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Baghdad has warned that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon. They said [the cable] warned that the security situation was likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there were marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.

I don't know about you, but I sure feel safer. (Sorry... my sarcasm filter is in the shop this week.) Never one to allow annoying facts to rain on his parade down the center of Fantasyland, Der Bush fired back with another one of his optimistic, rose colored sound bites.

At the White House on Monday, President Bush himself offered no hint of pessimism as he met with Iraq's president, Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar. Despite the security challenges, Mr. Bush said, the United States continues to favor the voting scheduled for Iraq on Jan. 30 to "send the clear message to the few people in Iraq that are trying to stop the march toward democracy that they cannot stop elections."

Thanks, George. Now, on to some people with at least one foot in reality.

There were apparently running gun battles in the streets of Baghdad this weekend, with other scattered fighting across Northern cities. At least five more dead US troops and hundred of Iraqi casualties. That particular reports indicates that the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are starting to take heavy casualties. This is exactly the fuse we don't need to see lit.

Raed in Iraq has apparently gotten to the point where he is calling the January polling efforts "fake elections" now, and points us to this Al Jazeera news item on that subject.

Abu Khaleel brings us a sad story of two cousins who were killed this week. One was a member of the resistance, and one was a member of the new Iraqi police force. It's worth a read, and the truly ironic part is that the cousin in the resistance was a Shiite and the policeman was a Sunni. Here's a brief portion.

Amir was a young military officer. He was a captain in the old Iraqi army before it was disbanded. He joined the resistance in July of last year. A few days ago, he and eleven others set up an ambush for a US army convoy. It was said that they had hit and destroyed six Hummers. It so happened that another, unexpected convoy came from the opposite direction and the group was over-powered. There was a lot of fire from both sides. The team withdrew. All the others made it to their rendezvous point except Amir. They couldn't go back and check on him while it was light, so they waited for nightfall. They found him dead. Shakir was a young police officer in the old police force. He joined the new Iraqi Police force several months ago. A few times he was warned by the "resistance" to quit. He didn't pay attention. Last month, his brother was kidnapped and then released a few days later with a warning message to Shakir, but Shakir didn't pay heed. A few days ago he was attacked while at home by several masked men with guns. They killed him and set fire to his car. Amir and Shakir were distant cousins.

In his other blog, Abu paints a rather stark picture of how the Iraqis currently view the occupying American forces. He offers a rather stirring quote.

Those people painting rosy pictures have for some time run out of colors. Now, they are using blood to paint their roses. The problem is: the color of blood turns ugly after a while.

One bright spot... A Star from Mosul actually seems in a much more chipper mood. She is focusing on her studies in the classes that have resumed, and she is aware that she's up for a 2004 web log award! (Give her a vote, eh?) They even have television at their house on a somewhat regular basis, and she reviews some of the channels she gets.

That's enough for this morning. Be sure to browse through all of the Iraq blogs in my blogroll when you get a chance. You tend to learn some things you'll never read in the Washington Post, and you'll certainly never see it on Faux News.



Monday, December 06, 2004

Getting "laid"

posted by Jazz at 12/06/2004 05:10:00 PM

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I'm always happy to see anyone getting laid... even "blame." Go check it out. I'm too lazy to say more, but it's worth it. (Hat Tip Tami)

Of course, our kissmoose tree...

posted by georg at 12/06/2004 04:29:00 PM

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Will not be put up again this year. I have kindly explained to others that as we have cats who view any decorated tree as a fancy cat toy holder regardless of location and/or size, I feel it would be just as efficient to decorate our tree with catnip and freshly cooked bacon, as they would be perhaps only slightly more entertained. Either way, the tree would come down quickly, decorations would be everywhere and we would have happy cats looking smarmy. Of course the nice thing about using bacon is we don't have the little tinsel dangles out of their butts. Please be aware of this danger when you decorate your own tree. Many cats have serious injuries because of ingesting tinsel, particulary when the owner is chasing them down because their butts have gone sparkly. No wait- that's many owners are injured when chasing cats with sparkly butts. Please, be careful out there.

Christmas Trees 101

posted by Jazz at 12/06/2004 03:14:00 PM

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I have, in my day, made all of these mistakes. Here is a short but instructional post from Joe Territo on how to get your tree home and up without killing yourself or winding up sleeping on the couch. Nice picture, too.

1. That it's best to bring the tree stand to the place where you are buying the tree, so that the sellers can use their chain saw to help trim the trunk and branches to fit the stand;

2. That it's best to attach the tree stand to the tree while it's still tied to the roof of your car, rather than struggle with it while balancing the upright tree in the stand in the middle of your living room;


3. That you should not get a tree that is exactly as tall as your ceiling, because it will not fit in your house.

More Revisionist History

posted by Jazz at 12/06/2004 01:52:00 PM

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Today we can see yet more revisionist history being proclaimed from the right, particularly in this post from Betsy's Page referencing a column by Joel Mowbray. This one is less about the Bushies trying to claim that WMD's weren't our only substantial reason to invade Iraq (which we're seeing on nearly every Bush blog out there) but in this case, focusing on one of Colin Powell's speeches to the UN, making a parallel claim. Betsy joins in describing it as the media's "mischaracterizing" Powell. Here's a small piece to demonstrate the tact being taken.

Joel Mowbray has a great column about how the media is mischaracterizing Colin Powell's speech before the UN. Mowbray is turning out to be one of our best new investigative reporters and columnists.

General Powell did not rest his entire case on Saddam?s possession of WMD. Nor was his primary argument founded on Saddam?s extensive ties to terrorism or his clear, savage history of human rights abuses, though both were included near the conclusion.


No, Mr. Powell tailored his message for his audience. His first and foremost argument was that Saddam was in violation of UN Resolution 1441, which warned Baghdad of ?serious consequences as a result of its continued violations.? Saddam was, in fact, in violation of Resolution 1441?and Mr. Powell proved it.

Let's remember some important facts, people. (And I think all readers should continue to trumpet this every time they run into it on these right wing blogs.) Both the President, when speaking to our country and our global allies, and every one of our reps that we sent to speak at the UN and elsewhere, including Colin Powell, made the WMD's the first, biggest, and only viable reason for launching that invasion. Yes, Powell "tailored his speech to the audience" to talk about violations of UN resolutions, but the resolutions, again, were about the WMDs.

The parallel to this - and this is the biggest point to address here - was that we were the ones who went back on our agreement. We have linked, in this blog, to that little slip-up so many times I won't bother doing it here, but again... John Negroponte gave his infamous "no automaticity" speech, both in public, and in private meetings to all of the members of the security council before they agreed to sign that resolution. And we lied in their faces about it. The spinmeisters on the right will keep harping forever, saying that "no automaticity" and "two step process" meant the exact opposite of what they really meant, but all the lipstick in the world won't make that pig look any better.

This leads us to yet another clear example of why the Bushies (and their supporters in the blogosphere) are so intent on attacking the French and the UN in general, and taking such glee in the oil for food scandal, calling the UN "irrelevant" and calling for it to be disbanded, etc. It's not because they "didn't support our president" at all. It's because they (the UN) were right. And there is nothing that this crowd hates worse than being proven wrong, so now they want to punish them for being right.

They simply can't stand the thought of France and all of those "Old Europe" (always said with a sneer, by the way) countries sitting around saying, "Oh. Ok. Smoking gun is a mushroom cloud, eh? Nice how you completely broke the country of Iraq and the reason you gave turned out to be ... what's the word? Oh, yes... WRONG." The Europeans aren't exactly crowing that in public, mind you, but the Bushies can feel in their bones the stares from the EU and hear that mocking in their lizard brains. So now we'll just go punish "Old Europe" and the UN, eh? This is behavior more fitting of an eight year old having a snit than a superpower.

The Revolt of the Clerics

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/06/2004 11:31:00 AM

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Bull Moose discusses the revolt of the House Republicans. He points out that it was the Democrats that were supposed to fall apart but that it's not too surprising it's the Republicans. The first of many contentious issues is the intelligence Reform Bill. A majority of the House support it and the President supports it but it can't even get a hearing.
The Moose wonders whether the President will be forced to call in the 82nd Airborne to quell a rebellion in a nation's capital.

This time, the site of these disturbances is not Baghdad but rather D.C. Several rebellious congressional clerics are apparently challenging the Grand Ayatollah's authority in Washington over the intelligence bill. The first graph in the lead story in yesterday's New York Times told the entire story,
"President Bush sought to stem a near-rebellion by members of his own party in Congress yesterday by describing a sweeping intelligence-overhaul bill they oppose as an effort "to do everything necessary to confront and defeat the terrorist threat" and calling for its passage during a brief Congressional session this week."

Renegade clerics Hunter and Sensenbrenner are leading the insurgency. Hunter objects to the invasion of sacred congressional ground, otherwise known as turf. Sensenbrenner wants to crack down on infidels receiving driver's licenses. Both perhaps worthy objectives - but they do call into question who is in charge in the G.O.P.
Who is in charge of the Republican Party? Apparently not the "lame duck" President.
This probably is indicative of what the future holds for the G.O.P. as long suppressed tensions in the party come to the surface and their leader is increasingly viewed as a lame duck. Social moderates vs. the religious right, neo-cons vs. the foreign policy traditionalists and fiscal hawks vs. supply siders all may be feuding in the coming months and years.
We can only hope this infighting will neuter much of their agenda. This is one of those times when nothing is probably the best we can hope for.

Not Terribly Political, but...

posted by Jazz at 12/06/2004 10:43:00 AM

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You'll want to set aside a block of time and go read this. Just trust me. I won't even tell you who she is, but you'll want to bookmark it. I've been horribly remiss in locating and linking to this, but I expect no forgiveness. Before you follow it, though, repeat the phrase "cheesy goodness" to yourself about five times. Take a deep breath and... click... Poor Impulse Control.

You shall either thank me, praise me, curse me or try to assassinate me later. (Blogrolled!)

Not quite Ivy league

posted by Mu at 12/06/2004 10:37:00 AM

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To my surprise (it's not the kind of stuff you find on CNN, or FoxNews for that matter) the new Homeland Security head will not quite be your typical Ivy League cabinet member. According to this british source his upbringing was quite humble:
Kerik, a high-school drop-out abandoned at age four by his prostitute mother in the gritty town of Patterson, New Jersey, served as an Army MP in South Korea, and later worked in private international security rackets, most interestingly in Saudi Arabia.


Will he be allowed to sit on the same table with the good old boys, or does he have to eat with the secret service guys in the kitchen?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

2005 Reading List

posted by Jazz at 12/05/2004 10:37:00 AM

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The Times has published their annual list of the top 100 books. They are broken down alphabetically by both fiction and non-fiction. Lots of good entries, a few of which I already have, some I was planning on getting, and a few that looked intriguing which I'd missed before. (I just added Beasts of Eden to my wish list. It looks incredible.) Check out their list. You never know... you might find something to pass some of those long winter nights.

Questions about Osama bin Laden

posted by Ron Beasley at 12/05/2004 10:07:00 AM

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Over at the Left Coaster this morning Steve Soto speaks of bin Laden, Bush and Musharraf and the alleged inability to track him down.
A little over a month ago, a less haggard-looking Osama Bin Laden dropped into the eleventh hour of our presidential election and reminded all of us that he was not only still around, but also quite well versed apparently on current American culture, spouting references from Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911". Far from looking like a man on the run and hiding in a cave like he was in the months after 9/11, Bin Laden looked like a man who had the time to be talking from what looked like a TV studio, speaking in a relaxed manner as if he wasn?t threatened by anything. There has been anecdotal evidence since then that the Kerry team felt that Bin Laden's timely appearance crippled them over the final weekend.

Now, less than six weeks later, President Musharraf of Pakistan visits Bush today, and in essence tells us that Bin Laden is nowhere to be found, and is truly on the loose. He tells this to Bush, Cheney, Rummy, and Rice, our new foreign policy team in the second term, who provide no sense of alarm or dissatisfaction at this news. In fact, it seems like a collective sense of "ho hum" is now the new attitude from this administration at the news that after billions of dollars in intelligence spending and a catastrophic waste of a war allegedly against terrorism in Iraq, the man responsible for 9/11 is still running free apparently far from any imminent threat from anyone.

In less than two months, Bin Laden has managed to get out from under Musharraf's alleged hounding long enough to stop at a TV studio, and now vanish. By the way, how many TV studios do they have in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan anyway?
Osama's appearance right before the election did have an impact and although Steve tries to avoid donning the tinfoil hat he does suggest it is suspicious. James Powell in the comments section is not so restrained:
Of the many unexamined episodes from this election campaign the sudden appearance of Osama on the eve of the election is the most striking. It isn't the tape that is striking, it's the widespread lack of interest in it.

How did it get from Osama to American television? What trail did it follow?

How long was the tape available before it was broadcast?

Wasn't the appearance of the tape just before the election a little too convenient? Doesn't that raise suspicions even with people who don't wear tin foil hats?

Why would Osama give a shit about the American elections? What would be his interest in either candidate? President Kerry would be no different from President Bush with respect to the policies that are opposed by Osama, and by people to whom Osama is appealing for support.

Osama is not stupid, he knows this. So what was his goal in making the tape?
So what was with that tape? How can a fugitive make it to a TV studio looking comfortable and at ease? I don't expect these questions to be asked in the US MSM but I don't hear anyone else asking them either.

The King and I

posted by Jazz at 12/05/2004 06:20:00 AM

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One of the last people I expect to see writing op-eds in the New York Times is the comedian Steve Martin. This week, however, he does just that. The famous collection of Egyptian artifacts from King Tut's tomb will be making another tour of the United States shortly, and Martin was apparently asked to comment on it. He is definitely one of the funnier comics to come from his generation (remembered very often, as in this case, for his song, "King Tut") and he shares some amusing thoughts.

It does strike me as ironic that the song has become the standard reference work on the subject of King Tut. Many of the lines in the song are now believed to be fact. In this article I should - as a serious scholar - set the record straight:

King Tut was not "born in Arizona."

He did not live in a "condo made of stone-a."

King Tut did not "do the monkey," nor did he "move to Babylonia."

King Tut was not a honky.

He was not "buried in his jammies."

The song does, however, make a valid assertion that scholars still regard as a breakthrough: King Tut was, as explained in the song, "an Egyptian."

When I got a call from a high-level Egyptian museum official saying that his country was upset that my song "King Tut" was not being played worldwide as much as it should be, and asking me if I would endorse an American tour of the artifacts in order to increase awareness of my song, I humbly agreed. The gentleman said, "If we thought that our exhibit would, in some way, introduce your song to even one more person, then the whole enterprise would be worth it." I am proud to be of service.



Words are power

posted by Jazz at 12/05/2004 05:15:00 AM

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Words are actually weapons, be they pixels on a screen, scars burnt into newsprint by a laser, ink soaked into parchment or reed glyphs pressed into clay tablets. A case can certainly be made that the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was barely a dust up compared to the number of people eventually killed from Martin Luther nailing some pages to the door of a church. No matter how badly you beat someone, assuming you don't kill them and adequate medical attention is available, they will recover. But harsh words at an inopportune time can scar a person for life.

Politics in our country today is nothing short of war, and words are the weapon of choice. A group of "Swiftvets" hissing things like "traitor", combined with Karl Rove's Waffle House choice of "flip flop" combined to change history and may well lead to the invasion and downfall of more nations.

As has been pointed out by every MSM source under the sun, blogs played a larger role in the American dialogue this year than anyone could have anticipated. Four million blogs and counting are filling up minds with words, informing, misinforming and shaping opinions across the country and the globe. As the influence of the old media on public mindset continues to wane, this effect is likely to be exacerbated.

I only point this out today because ownership of such a weapon comes with an inherent responsibility. If you are going to step out onto the battlefield of discussion, you'll want to be mindful of the possible collateral damage. In the prescient words of Sid Barrett, oh so long ago, "careful with that ax, Eugene." You never know who's head you might be taking off.

Just something to chew on with your Sunday morning breakfast.

We have a possible winner

posted by Jazz at 12/05/2004 05:03:00 AM

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... and the odd part was, I didn't even know we were running a contest. But apparently we're going to see who can do something interesting using Photoshop and the pictures of yours truly which were posted here yesterday. Here's your early leader - and I must confess I was laughing too hard to post this when I saw it last night. Nice job, Ron. :-)