Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Break Out the Shovels

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 02:39:00 PM

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While I'm sure that it's nothing like the horrors that North Carolina faces, upstate New York is getting hammered with yet another "winter wonderland festival." I'm sure we'll be breaking out the shovel at least five times between today and tomorrow, though it won't stop us from going to our traditional Sunday breakfast. I'm glad to see I'm not the only blogger dealing with this. From Poetic Leanings.
I thought I was being funny when I joked that the winter storm system heading my way would be a foot of snow all hitting at one time. I might not have been that far off from the truth. Now they are calling for over two feet of snow in some areas. My neck of the woods is right on the line between six inches to a foot and a foot and eighteen inches. Yikes! Anyone want to come over and shovel so that my surgically repaired back does not have to risk it?!
Yes, indeed. "It's beginning to look a lot like crap out." (In your head, sing that to the tune of "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.") For any of you bored enough to be cruising blogs on a Saturday, feel free to leave any thoughts, links, tips, insults, etc. I'm sure we're not going far for a while.

Oh... and what do you think of the new buttons in the control panel under the banner? They'll probably change a few times before we settle on a final design, but it's a first stab.

Edit: Here's a nice shot from our front deck looking down towards some of our neighbors' houses. And this was only after the first hour of snow. It's supposed to keep coming for another 24 hours. (Yes, that's actually a road under there someplace. And yes, it's really that dark just after mid day.) Click on image for full size picture.



Loser

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 01:25:00 PM

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Compliments of Doug Petch.


I am 62% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!


We've still got a long way to go

posted by georg at 1/22/2005 01:09:00 PM

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There is a commercial on the TV right now that bothers me. I think it is an abysmal statement of the attitute towards civil and human rights. The commercial sucks you in as Mr. Handsome Guy tells his date that he left "Rusty" at home alone. The date expresses concern, but then he tells her "Rusty" is wearing a shock collar. She looks relieved, but the first time viewer is appalled. One assumes his dog is tied up and getting electric shocks.

Then you see Rusty. He is a white, goofy-looking guy, with his date on the couch, and he is indeed wearing a shock collar that only activates when he reaches for a beer- the product this commercial is incidentaly selling. One gets the feeling that one is supposed to laugh that Rusty is willing to be shocked to enjoy this beer.

I can't laugh. I don't find shock collars funny on dogs or people, or anything else. What kind of a culture are we that we should find that funny? And why is it ok because he looks dorky and is white? If he was handsome, black, Asian, or Hispanic, or a woman, it would have never aired. And if he was middle eastern, I think there'd be even more of a war on our hands.

I don't expect to get answers. But I hope I am not the only one disturbed.

Cat Haiku

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 01:01:00 PM

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Don't even ask how I found this site. (Ok, they linked to us.) There is a collection of good cat haiku here which had me smiling. My favorite.

I am your best friend,
Now, always, and especially
When you are eating.

Some Good Air America News

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 11:48:00 AM

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Over at Seeing the Forest you can find some good news about Air America. It includes this somewhat shocking revelation:
[Air America] Programming will begin today on affiliates of the heavily Republican-oriented Clear Channel Network in Washington, D.C., Detroit and Cincinnati � an irony many listeners will understand.
I'm glad to see they are doing well. As I've said before, I can't listen to too much of Air America in one sitting because not all of the programming is, to my ears, engaging enough to hold my interest. But Al Franken is funny as all hell, and I love Jeneane Geraffalo. (Who's name I am simply too lazy to go look up just now.)

I'm sorry, she's still a liar

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/22/2005 11:17:00 AM

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Colbert I. King a columnist I usually respect takes exception to Barbara Boxer's attack on Condi Rice and completely misses the point. In Why the Crass Remarks About Rice? he wonders why Boxer said
"I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war.
His point being that Rice truly believed in the cause and was not just a parrot. I'm sorry but it doesn't really matter if she is firmly assimilated into the Borg Hive of this administration, she still lied and mislead the American people.

A "woman of color":
Dorothy Height, chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, who wrote in a letter to The Post this week: "Despite the challenges she will face, Ms. Rice's appointment is a time for women of color to smile."
I'm sorry but "women of color" should be hanging their heads in shame that the first of their kind to reach such a pinnacle of power is an incompetent misguided liar. Any attempt by the black community to defend her qualifies as racism.
Mr. Colbert objected to her caricature as a parrot. That's all there is in the Bush administration's hive.

Mortgaging the Future of the Human Race

posted by Mike at 1/22/2005 10:39:00 AM

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I looked at the weblog of my favorite author, Diane Duane, today, only to get some disturbing news:

The White House has eliminated funding for a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request and directed NASA to focus solely on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft at the end of its life ...


Yet ANOTHER thing to be ticked off at Bush about. You know, it just blows my mind that this guy manages to tick me off with nearly every decision he makes. You'd think, just by virtue of odds, that one of these days he would have made a decision I liked.

A blast from the past

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 10:25:00 AM

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This week I've been watching a series of specials on the History Channel called "The Presidents." (Incidentally, if you don't get THC or missed it, you can order them on DVD at that link.) This is one of the best series they've ever produced, and I highly recommend it. In one of the early ones, they cover the presidency of James K. Polk. While not one of the more famous presidents we've had, his time in office was still fascinating. I could not help noticing some very telling similarities and differences between Polk and the lemon we are stuck with today.

For similarities, Polk threatened to attack one country and did, in fact, attack another. The threat was against England who, by that time, were so incredibly tired of fighting wars with us that they just gave up the Oregon territory. The war was against Mexico and eventually resulted in completing the United States "manifest destiny" and claiming all of the Southwest and California. The tendency towards aggression, fortunately, is where the similarities to Dubya seem to end.

Polk's tenure in office was apparently regarded as being the most "open to the public" White House before or since. He is quoted as having said, "I am first, and foremost, a servant to the people of this country."

In those days, the army band used to play on the White House lawn every weekend, and the public was invited to attend and listen for free. Even more amazingly, when compared to today, Polk's office was open to the people of the country. Two days each week, he took visitors in his office. Anyone could request a meeting with the president by simply knocking on the front door of the White House, handing their card to the steward, and waiting in line. People traveled from all over the country for this opportunity, took cheap lodgings nearby or even camped out on the lawn, and waited for a chance to speak to the leader of the country.

I understand that practical logistics prevent our having such a policy today. But it is a startling contrast when we look at Polk in comparison to this least curious or engaged of all presidents who we are saddled with now. Bush is so painfully out of touch with the feelings and sensibilities of such a great portion of the population that it's hard to even conceive of a president who was so in touch in the people he worked to serve.

And work he did! Polk was the president who moved to first have gas lights installed in the White House. The reason? Because he worked late into the night six if not seven days every week. There is apparently little record of Polk leaving the capitol, except on matters of state, and while he was there he was in his office working. Contrast this with Bush, who has spent more time vacationing at his Texas ranch and any president before him. (And likely more than several of them combined.) Polk was characterized as a pure workaholic, while Bush is disinterested and lazy.

In any event, the series covers all of the presidents from Washington to the chimp, and it's really excellent. It also includes tons of really interesting presidential trivia. One example: little known quote from Abraham Lincoln - upon being accused by one of his critics of being two faced, Lincoln quipped, "If I were truly two faced, do you think I'd be wearing this one?" You have to love that guy.

The World Reacts

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 10:07:00 AM

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The Christian Science Monitor (holy cow! Have we ever quoted them before?) offers a pretty good roundup of world reaction to Dear Leader's threatening and saber rattling at the inauguration. There are quite a few good quotes for you to read, but one of the most startling came from a newspaper in Kenya.
Bush's speech focused on the 'power of freedom', saying that the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. On that, not many people will disagree. The differences are over what he understands by 'freedom' and how the benefits of democracy should be spread in the world ? or indeed whether it is any country's business to export democracy to others... It is possible to have the freer world that Bush speaks of, but the idea that those who are strong and have a larger arsenal have an unchallenged right to impose their will on the weak, undermines democracy.
Good grief. Now we're getting lectured by the Kenyans. And to make matters worse, they're right.

Joe Gandelman, saying "Hell has frozen over", has some good thoughts to offer, and a gathering of other opinions from around the web.

Coalition of the Willing downgraded to "Those other guys"

posted by Jazz at 1/22/2005 09:37:00 AM

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No longer needing to worry about being elected again, The Worst President Ever � has finally scrapped one of the biggest jokes of the tragedy in Iraq.

The White House has scrapped its list of Iraq allies known as the 45-member "coalition of the willing," which Washington used to back its argument that the 2003 invasion was a multilateral action, an official said on Friday.

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the White House replaced the coalition list with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.

The official could not say when or why the administration did away with the list of the coalition of the willing.

That was just in time, apparently, since we lost one of the heavy hitters.
On Friday, an organization from Iceland published a full-page advertisement in the New York Times calling for its country's withdrawal from the coalition and offering apologies for its support for U.S. policy.
How they managed to keep using that phrase with a straight face for so long will, I fear, remain a mystery for the ages. But now that the pressures of election have eased, one by one we are seeing the trappings of this travesty stripped away.

As you can imagine, a move like this has gathered some howling reviews around Blogtopia.

Atrios: "Memories... how they fade so fast."

Oliver Willis: "Anybody who still supports this administration is either an idiot or a jackass."

Pacific Views: "That ever-shrinking list of 'allies' that Dubya's administration used..."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Freedom 27, liberty 16

posted by georg at 1/21/2005 07:15:00 PM

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That's the score according to Jon Stewart of how many times Bush mentioned those 2 words during his 21-minute speech.

One thing that disturbs me greatly- the more Monkey Boy mentions Freedom and Liberty, the more liberties we loose, and the more freedom gets impinged elsewhere.

Just Shoot Me

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 03:25:00 PM

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Prophet or Madman proves once and for all that if you employ enough critical thinking and extensive analysis, you can suck the life out of anything. Even professional football.

*sigh*

(Ok. I probably wouldn't have posted this if I wasn't still in mourning over the Jets.)

I am obviously too quick to judge

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 02:34:00 PM

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I know that I've said some fairly harsh things about The Worst President Ever� and his black tie and boots, dance while your soldiers die, $40M (and don't forget the extra $20M of taxpayer funded extra security) party. But until I read this article from Joe Gandelman, I believe that I did, in fact, fail to grasp some of the true historic moments of note from yesterday. For example:

This marked only the second time in four years that George W. Bush...

(wait for it....)

had his hand on a book.

The Scariest Moment

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 11:22:00 AM

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Mahablog has asked that readers contribute their suggestions for what the absolute scariest, jaw dropping moment was from Dear Leader's inaugural speech. Help her out. There is just so much material to work with in that long winded missive.

On a related note, while snooping around her site, I discovered something new. (I just love being nosy, don't you?) By now I'm sure most of you know that Martian Ambassador Hugh Hewitt has published a tedious tome on blogging. (I'm not going to sully this blog by posting a link to that loon's book, but you can search for it if you like.) But did you know that the owner of Mahablog has published a book on blogging too? It's called "Blogging America: Political Discourse in a Digital Nation." No, I have not read it yet, but I plan on shaking the budget tree and seeing if enough loose change falls out to order a copy. From what I've seen of the author's blog, this book could be a winner.

Touching Nerves, I Suppose

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 10:19:00 AM

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Yesterday, feeling in an unusually light hearted mood for "Black Thursday", I published a short, fun spoof of an interview with God about the recent nasty turn of the weather in North Carolina, where conservative blogger Betsy Newmark lives. It seriously was only intended to be good clean fun, and I even stopped by Betsy's comment section to indicate I was just kidding around and that I was glad she had made it home ok.

Well, apparently she took offense at that piece anyway, going so far as to call me "less than kind." (ouch.) As I said, it really was intended solely as a bit of fun combining politics and the weather (which none of us can do anything about anyway) so I was sitting down and preparing to send an apology for any unintentionally hurt feelings.

That's when I saw this:
I'm watching the Inaugural now and thinking with elicious (sic) spite of all the people who are so furious now and how consumed with bitterness they must be. Heh.

I wonder how much Clinton and Carter are enjoying this. Double heh!
Let's see... you sat in a car for seven hours.

I get to sit through four more terror inducing years with The Worst President Ever ™ in Washington.

You know, since we seem to be willing to let the schadenfreude flow freely during inauguration week, I'm suddenly not feeling so apologetic anymore. Not mean spirited, not hateful, not inclined to say anything else out of malice - just ... not very apologetic.

Lose-Lose situation

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/21/2005 09:11:00 AM

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Today, that crusader against the privitization of Social Security, Paul Krugman, shoots holes in the idea that it is a good idea.
President Bush is like a financial adviser who tells you that at the rate you're going, you won't be able to afford retirement - but that you shouldn't do anything mundane like trying to save more. Instead, you should take out a huge loan, put the money in a mutual fund run by his friends (with management fees to be determined later) and place your faith in capital gains.
Wouldn't be the first time this crew tried to sell us something that was going to benefit a few of their friends.
The whole scheme ignores the most basic principle of economics: there is no free lunch.

There are several ways to explain why this particular lunch isn't free, but the clearest comes from Michael Kinsley, editorial and opinion editor of The Los Angeles Times. He points out that the math of Bush-style privatization works only if you assume both that stocks are a much better investment than government bonds and that somebody out there in the private sector will nonetheless sell those private accounts lots of stocks while buying lots of government bonds.
If it's such a good deal why would private investors sell you stock and buy treasury bonds? See the faulty logic here? So are stocks really a good secure investment?
Fifty years ago most people, remembering 1929, were afraid of the stock market. As a result, those who did buy stocks got to buy them cheap: on average, the value of a company's stock was only about 13 times that company's profits. Because stocks were cheap, they yielded high returns in dividends and capital gains.

But high returns always get competed away, once people know about them: stocks are no longer cheap. Today, the value of a typical company's stock is more than 20 times its profits. The more you pay for an asset, the lower the rate of return you can expect to earn. That's why even Jeremy Siegel, whose "Stocks for the Long Run" is often cited by those who favor stocks over bonds, has conceded that "returns on stocks over bonds won't be as large as in the past."

But a very high return on stocks over bonds is essential in privatization schemes; otherwise private accounts created with borrowed money won't earn enough to compensate for their risks. And if we take into account realistic estimates of the fees that mutual funds will charge - remember, in Britain those fees reduce workers' nest eggs by 20 to 30 percent - privatization turns into a lose-lose proposition.

Sometimes I do find myself puzzled: why don't privatizers understand that their schemes rest on the peculiar belief that there is a giant free lunch there for the taking? But then I remember what Upton Sinclair wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
The only winners in the private accounts scam will be the stock brokers. That's what happened in Britain and now they are trying to undo the mess they created.

Dancing the War Away

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 07:24:00 AM

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Incredibly, with more than 1,360 American troops dead and more than 10,000 wounded, and with scores of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded, the president never once mentioned the word Iraq in his Inaugural Address. He avoided all but the most general references to the war. Lyndon Johnson used to agonize over the war that unraveled his presidency. Mr. Bush, riding the crest of his re-election wave, seems not to be similarly bothered.

This is just one section of Bob Herbert's column today. I'll warn you ahead of time, there is really nothing in this piece which hasn't been brought up before, both in MSM columns and left wing blogs. Bob's entry, however, puts it all together so perfectly that I thought it worth mentioning. He paints the true picture, without using the same analogy, of Bush as Nero - playing his fiddle while the world burns down around him.

In January 1945, with World War II still raging, Franklin Roosevelt insisted on a low-key inauguration. Already gravely ill, he began his address by saying, "Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will understand and, I believe, agree with my wish that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief."

Times have changed. President Bush and his equally tone-deaf supporters spent the past few days partying hard while Americans, Iraqis and others continued to suffer and die in the Iraq conflagration. Nothing was too good for the princes and princesses of the new American plutocracy. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on fireworks, cocktail receptions, gala dinners and sumptuous balls.

Ugh. No matter how many times people keep making this reference, I will not be able to adapt to hearing about the president's "sumptuous balls."

As the well-heeled Bush crowd was laughing and dancing in tuxedos and designer gowns, the situation in Iraq was deteriorating to new levels of horror. The Black Tie and Boots Ball was held on the same day that 26 people were killed in five powerful car and truck bombs in Baghdad. With the elections just a week and a half away, American commanders, according to John F. Burns of The Times, are seeking "to prepare public opinion in Iraq and abroad for one of the bloodiest chapters in the war so far."

A photo at the end of Mr. Burns's article showed an Iraqi National Guard member carrying the remains of a suicide bomber in a garbage bag.

The disconnect between the over-the-top celebrations in Washington and the hideous reality of Iraq does not in any way surprise me. It's exactly what we should expect from the president and his supporters, who seem always to exist in a fantasy realm far removed from such ugly realities as war and suffering. In that realm you can start wars without having to deal with the consequences of them. You don't even have to pay for them. You can put them on a credit card.

Say it, Bob. Somebody had to.



Friday Pet Blogging

posted by Jazz at 1/21/2005 04:21:00 AM

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As always, stop by The Modulator for the Friday Ark - a roundup of lots of animal pictures. Also, on Sunday, check out the Carnival of Cats, which this week will be held at Music and Cats. (I love the Schweitzer quote in the upper right corner for which the site is named. Had not heard that one before.)

Today we find Spider in one of her favorite spots... on the top of the back of my office chair. She would actually make a wonderful head rest if I could just train her to lay with her claws towards the back. (Click on image for ridiculously large full size picture.)

Edit: Oh my. Go look at this cat and read the quote!



Thursday, January 20, 2005

Another Beautiful Inauguration Moment

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 07:51:00 PM

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"Mr. President, I do believe your pants are on fire."

Go talk to Shakespeare's Sister.

A Beautiful Moment on Faux News

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 04:32:00 PM

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Brilliant at Breakfast brings us a link to a priceless piece of footage from Faux "News" and some commentary which I won't spoil by pasting it in here. (You can go read it for yourself and click through to the video.) The film clip is of Faux host Bridgette Quinn interviewing an editor from Vanity Fair who has the audacity to criticize The Worst President Ever ™ for holding a megamillion dollar ball while soldiers die in Iraq. Quinn has an absolute meltdown.

An e-mail address is provided at the video's hosting site for Quinn. I already wrote to her.

Nice melt down. I simply love the way that Faux news manages to shout down and shut up anyone who ever has anything negative to say about the worst president in American history. Please keep up the good work. Faux news is more amusing than Comedy Central most days, even though the reporting quality is well below that of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Thursday Afternoon Reading

posted by Mike at 1/20/2005 03:24:00 PM

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Here is your Thursday afternoon reading.

Daily Kos: Latest wingnut target: SpongeBob SquarePants

Rockridge Institute: It's Not Just Abortion, Stupid: Progressives and Abortion (boring title, but insightful content)

Salon: "Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency -- every one of them worse than Whitewater." (Very worthwhile reading.)

Mr. Pataki Goes to Washington

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 03:07:00 PM

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Regardless of the scandals he has faced back home in New York, George Pataki heads out to DC this week to "press the flesh" (careful, George. You know where that got Clinton) and put out feelers for his chances at a 2008 White House run.
The crowd from New Hampshire milled beneath thick crystal chandeliers, nibbled on crab legs and shrimp, and listened as New York's governor, George E. Pataki, offered congratulations on Wednesday for the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series.

It might have been a scene from any presidential primary season in New Hampshire, with an out-of-state official trying to curry favor with voters who will cast their ballots in the nation's first primary. And in a way it was.

Mr. Pataki may have his hands full in New York, where he is wrestling with budget shortfalls and a state government considered among the most dysfunctional in the nation. But in this room, he was a bit of a celebrity. People treated him warmly, clapping his back and chucking the shoulder of a man whose presidential ambitions were clearly on display.

What was really on display was a smarmy attitude and our good Governor sucking up to the hard line conservatives in Washington. He's trying to figure out if he can every garner enough support among the Bush faithful neocons to take him seriously.

Remember... Pataki is a GOP governor in one of the bluest states around. Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than five to one in New York. You only get elected here as a Republican if you are pro-choice, pro-gun control (at least to some degree) and fall closer to the "librul" side on many social issues. That plays just fine in New York and has served George well. However, when he leaves the small pool and tried to make the jump into the deeper waters on the national level, many eyebrows will be raised.

Plus, it will be hard to build up a broad base of support for a national ticket run when the party knows that the Dems will have a field day airing a bunch of dirty laundry from Pataki's hamper. (see below.)

Related:
  1. Pataki Canal Coverup Explored in Detail
  2. The Country's Most Dysfunctional Government
  3. Not So Happy New Year for Pataki
  4. Pataki Rewards Howard Mills With Sweet Position
  5. Pataki's "Prayer Breakfasts" Lead to Hot Water With State Employee

If You're a Polipundit, You'll Go Ape On This One ...

posted by Mike at 1/20/2005 01:55:00 PM

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I recently found a rather incredible website if you're a politics buff like most of us here are.

After visiting it, I have a full head of hair, boundless energy, a buff physique, and I'm a real hit with the ladies!

Well, not really so much. But it is still nevertheless a pretty cool website: GovTrack.Us.

Essentially, consider it an incredibly user-friendly interface to Congress -- everything Congress' official interface should be and isn't. For a starting place, here are the entries for my Congresscritters: Durbin, Obama, and Schakowsky.

See what I mean?

It blows my mind that this is up and functional. Hell, it even seems to parse the Congressional Record PDFs (see the "speeches" tab for each person's entry), believe it or not, so you can read what your representatives are actually saying in Congress.

I just can't see how this functions so perfectly, and I'm frankly skeptical — if anyone seems to find any trace of it being B.S., I'd be curious. In the meantime, I'll be rather happy that someone actually built something like this.

(If you're wondering why the front page stuff seems stalled out on the 5th, it appears that Congress hasn't met since the 6th. And I thought Cook County judges had a nice vacation schedule.)

Go. Have fun. Let us know cool stuff you've discovered about this in the Comments section. I'm really surprised this hasn't exploded huge in the blogosphere yet -- aside from transcribing and posting the Vanity Fair article on Ashcroft a year or two ago, I'm usually not the first one to introduce stuff to the blogosphere.

Edit #1: From the site's About page: "Updates are delayed by several days because the U.S. Government Printing Office often takes several days to post the full information for government bills. GovTrack is generally two days behind in all information."

Edit #2: Even cooler ... you can have updates on your senators' and representatives' activities in Congress e-mailed to you, or served to you as a RSS feed. Coooooooooooooool.

Carnival of the Not Feeling So Terribly Liberated

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 11:47:00 AM

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It's time once again to stop in to visit with our friends from the Iraq blogs and see how their "liberation" is going.

A Star from Mosul has survived a perilous journey to Baghdad where she will be spending her break from school work and celebrating the upcoming holiday with family members there. Recently she unfortunately made the decision to shut off comments for most of her posts having been attacked pretty viciously by a group of Bush supporters who thought she shouldn't dare question the American invasion and occupation. She and her classmates have had some problems, though.
During the exams, a girl's aunt got killed by the Americans and I told you about it.. And shortly after that, another girl's uncle got killed by the Americans. So, I guess I'm so thankful God for keeping my family healthy and alive!! Thank you..
Riverbend has gotten wind of the ending to the search for the WMD's. Needless to say, she's not terribly happy.
The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now.
She also does us a huge favor by pointing us to a new Iraqi blog (just added to our blogroll.) Welcome to "Free Iraq" (which Riverbend describes as being "more of a command than a description of the conditions in the country just now.") The owner of the blog is Imad Khadduri, author of Iraq's Nuclear Mirage. He has a few opening comments.

"When dozens of suspected fighters showed up for a so-called peace conference in Baquba on Tuesday, they told the governor sponsoring it why they would not lay down their weapons ahead of elections."

.... Many of the men - from clerics and tribal leaders to ex-army officers and professionals - just wanted to know when U.S. forces would leave. .. "I would have signed it [an oath printed in Arabic and English] if it said no attacks on Iraqi forces, but no attacks on U.S. forces when they are occupying the country?"

.... "This pledge commits you to not even speak against the Americans. I cannot sign it," said cleric Fouad Attiya, 40."If I call from my mosque for occupation forces to leave my country does that make me a terrorist? Is this the freedom and democracy they are bringing us?"
Rose speculates about whether or not she will vote in the elections this month.
For me, my decision till this moment is not to participate. I don�t think it worth to sacrifice my life for it, it will not make any difference and you will see. It will make things worse than before. when the Americans passed the government to DR. Alawi everyone wished that things would be better, because he is Iraqi, but things are still not, they became worse and now it is the same thing, we have many terrorists in our country and they will not leave us whether we have elections or not. and we are still not ready to defend our own country and we don�t have qualified people to do it. every thing is a mess here. Till now my balance goes to my family.
Abu Khaleel has a fascinating look inside the traditions and rituals of funerals in Iraq, detailing how they are observed and how the services differ for men and women.

In his other blog, he has a fairly lengthy list of complaints about some things happening in his country. You may argue as you like whether some or all of these complaints are true or rumors, but the fact that this is the perception of ordinary Iraqi citizens is likely a large part of the reason why we are failing. This is only a short excerpt.
1. Soldiers steeling money from houses they searched.

2. Soldiers, when faced with anything like a threat, firing at random�killing women and children in the process. Hundreds of such incidents!


3. Soldiers forcing open doors of stores and government establishments to looters.


4. Soldiers shooting and killing thousands of innocent civilians in their drive to take over unresisting Baghdad.


5. Soldiers forcing old, retired people and disbanded army officers to stand in line for most part of the day under the Iraqi summer sun and using truncheons to keep them �well-behaved� when receiving their pensions.


6. Soldiers shooting and killing people in a peaceful demonstration protesting against the use of a local school as military barracks� because they claimed they thought someone had fired a shot at them. None of those soldiers was even scratched. They left 13-17 unarmed dead bodies.


7. Scandalous, inhumanely sick behavior by personnel wearing US army uniform, including torture and the rape of women, men and small boys.
That's enough for today. There were a few more entries I could include, but I'm suddenly feeling ill.

Of Two Minds

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 11:38:00 AM

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The One True Tami is conflicted. Send her some love. (Chocolate or cash would probably be acceptable substitutes if you're short on love.)

Value Voters think Bush twins are too slutty

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 10:31:00 AM

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Courtesy of Tbogg. This was simply priceless. Apparently the "Coalition for Traditional Values" (as if that name isn't frightening enough by itself) has sent a letter to President Bush. They are admonishing him to step up to the theocon trough and put the smack down on his daughters who plan, according to the authors, to dress up like some sort of cheap floozies for the inauguration.

...But already there is a challenge to the biblical norms that you stand for, and it comes from within your very own family. This Thursday, your two daughters, Jenna and Barbara, will appear before the earthly world in attire that cannot be described in any sense as modest.

As you know, dress and appearance are an important reflection of our Christian values. "We are what we wear," as the saying goes, and according to this edict, your own daughters, bejeweled and bedecked in garments that plunge of neckline and cling of fabric, cannot be said to reflect the deeply-held believes (sic) of the tens of millions of "values voters" who sent you back to that highest office in the land.

As you prepare to lead this country for another four years, remember your role as leader of your own family. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." (Ephesians 5:23)

I don't know if The Worst President Ever ™ even gets to see letters like this, but it's fun to imagine the look on his face if he read it.

An Amazing Blog Entry from the Blogroll ...

posted by Mike at 1/20/2005 10:16:00 AM

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This is an entirely nonpolitical post, but that's okay occasionally -- especially when I'm pointing you towards something amazing.

At Least George Will is Honest

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/20/2005 09:50:00 AM

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George Will does something today Bush and the Republican lawmakers can't do. He told the truth about the Social Security non-crisis and told the truth about why he doesn't like the current system and is in favor of private accounts. Number one, he admits there is no crisis.
What constitutes a crisis is a matter of opinion, and everyone is entitled to his or her own. But not to his or her own facts. Here are some:

Social Security outlays may exceed revenue by 2018 -- that date almost certainly will recede further into the future, as it has before, as the economy outperforms expectations. After that, the government bonds that Social Security surpluses have bought (money used to fund the government) will be entirely redeemed, as the Social Security Administration calculates, by 2042. Or 2052, according to the Congressional Budget Office, using different assumptions about the rate of economic growth. That depends partly on the rate of productivity growth: Might a growth rate unusually high by historical standards become normal? Immigration rates will affect the ratio of workers to retirees.

Some people warning of a distant Social Security crisis postulate 75 years of 1.8 percent annual growth. But if America has 75 such sluggish years, Social Security's insolvency will hardly be the nation's largest problem -- and personal retirement accounts will reflect, not compensate for, the stagnation.
Good for you George, it's nice to see some honesty from the right for a change. He still believes in replacing the current system with private accounts.
But the best reasons rise from the philosophy of freedom:

Voluntary personal accounts will allow competing fund managers, rather than a government monopoly on income transfers from workers to retirees, to allocate a large pool of money. This will enhance the economic dynamism conducive to an open society. Personal accounts will respect individuals' autonomy and competence and will narrow the wealth gap by facilitating the accumulation of wealth -- bequeathable wealth -- by people of modest incomes.
Well that sounds real good but we know now that even educated Americans don't have the skill, time or inclination to "manage" their 401k plans. What Will is suggesting is a "freedom" to retire with even less "security" for many if not most Americans. While I may disagree with George Will I applaud his honesty, something that is very rare from the right.

God demonstrates His displeasure with red states

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 09:04:00 AM

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As expected, God has continued in His implacable way sending comments to the United States indicating His opinion of the 2004 election results and upcoming inaugural gala. Yesterday the target for His Divine Wrath was the red state of North Carolina. Betsy Newmark reports live from the scene.
Well, I just had one of the most stressful afternoons of my life. We had a freak snow storm in Raleigh that no one predicted. All they thought was maybe that we'd get a dusting of flurries. But it started and came down hard. After an hour they cancelled school and sent us home. I left at 1:30 for an 8 mile drive that takes usually about 20 minutes. I straggled in at 8:30. It took SEVEN hours to drive home! The cars are bumper-to-bumper mostly not even moving. We were lucky when we could go one or two miles an hour. Literally. Cars were slipping and sliding into each other. Finally, at about a mile from our house we left the car in an office parking lot and walked home. It was a real odyssey, but we're safe now and our new car wasn't even damaged.
Reached for a brief interview by Running Scared, God showed no remorse and felt that some of the red staters were simply overreacting.

Running Scared: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Lord.

God: My pleasure. I get so few interviews these days.

RS: Really? It seems like Pat Robertson is talking to you every week.

God: Robertson? HA! The last time I tried to actually talk to Pat his secretary had Me on hold for ten minutes.

RS: So... not that we would ever question Your judgment and wisdom, but it seems like You've sent some awfully foul weather to North Carolina.

God: What did they expect? They voted for Bush. It's not like I didn't warn people. There were signs.... oh, so many signs. And besides, it's not like it was even that much Wrath. [At this point, God breaks into a spot on, perfect Chris Farley imitation.] Oooooo, my car's sliding off the road. Oooooo, my town doesn't have an plows. [End Chris Farley imitation] For My sake, people... buy some road salt. I filled up half the Earth with the stuff and it's not that expensive. I hit Texas with more snow than that after that gerrymandering debacle and they shoveled out just fine. Didn't change anything, of course. I swear to Me, some people just can't take a hint.

RS: So You're saying they were simply unprepared?

God: It was a few inches of snow. As I recall I just laid down about two feet of it up where you live in New York this last week, didn't I? And yet everyone is at work, the mail's getting delivered... I think one school opened two hours late.

RS: I see. So we're guessing that Ohio is in for some serious blizzard activity soon?

God: No, no, no. Not Ohio. Ohio shall be spared.

RS: Oh. It's good to see that You're in a forgiving mood.

God: It's not a question of forgiveness. Ohio actually voted for Kerry, or at least tried to. I can't very well punish the entire state for the actions of a few Republicans.

RS: That's very fair minded of you.

God: It's in My nature. What can I say? But if you want to send out a nickel's worth of free advice, that J. Kenneth Blackwell should look into upping his flood insurance.

RS: We'll be sure to pass that along. So how about Florida? Ice storms, we assume?

God: Ice storms in Florida again? Hardly.

RS: Ah, more Divine forgiveness.

God: You must be kidding. No, it's all a question of timing.

RS: Timing?

God: Yes, timing. [God pauses for a moment and seems to get a gleam in his eye.] You think the last hurricane season was bad?

RS: Wow. (Note to self.... sell condo in Tampa Bay this week.) Well, we won't take up any more of Your time, since You're probably very busy. Before we wrap up, any hints of what's to come? Any more Righteous Visitations of Wrath on other red states?

God: Don't be snooping around for hints. I don't work that way.

RS: Sorry. Thanks again and have a good day.

God: I always do.

Updated Terror Alert System

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 08:58:00 AM

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Many thanks to Tata for sending this to me.

Homeland Security Advisory System

We have simplified [the terror alert system]. Using monsters from classic Japanese monster movies, we have created a system that mirrors the the DHS's system, but in an easier to understand format. We have also added the DHS suggested activities when that threat level is present.


Confusing hyperbole and hypotenuse

posted by Jazz at 1/20/2005 08:03:00 AM

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It's hard to laugh while America's new Nero is playing his fiddle as Iraq burns, but today Maureen Dowd gave me a smile. Seemingly a bit incensed at the recent gaff over Lawrence Summers' comments about women being genetically disinlined to math skills, Dowd decides to keep a sense of humor about it and questions Condi Rice's math skills.

She's clearly a well-educated, intelligent woman, versed in Brahms and the Bolsheviks, who has just been rewarded for her loyalty with the most plum assignment in the second Bush cabinet. Yet her math skills are woefully inadequate.

She can't do simple equations. She doesn't even know that X times zero equals zero. If you multiply 1,370 dead soldiers times zero weapons of mass destruction, that equals zero achievement for Ms. Rice, who helped the president and vice president bamboozle the country into war.

Our new top diplomat has obviously not mastered fractions. When she asserted during her confirmation hearing that 120,000 Iraqi troops had been trained, Senator Joe Biden corrected her, saying she was off by a bit. His calculation of trained Iraqi troops was actually 4,000 - hers was 30 times that. Maybe she's confusing hyperbole and hypotenuse.
There's plenty more in the same style. The numbers she uses for her math class examples are horrifying, but she still finds a way to laugh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It can't be true. But it is.

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 08:00:00 PM

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When I finished laughing, I wanted to cry. This is apparently a real news story. (Thanks to Waveflux.)
Forty-nine percent of 1,007 adult Americans said in phone interviews they believe Bush is a "uniter," according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday. Another 49 percent called him a "divider," and 2 percent had no opinion.
Go read for yourself. I couldn't make this type of crap up if I tried.

1216 Days

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 07:57:00 PM

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Short, but a harsh bit of reality worth remembering.

Odd Quote of the Day Found

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 07:40:00 PM

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"I am back. My plane was filled with Bush fans headed for the inauguration; sadly, it did not crash. (I would have sacrificed myself for the greater good.) "

Found at Why I Hate DC


Dying in Search of the Mythical

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/19/2005 06:06:00 PM

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The following commentary is a must read for all and especially for all who voted for George W. Bush and the spineless Democrats who voted for the confirmation of Condiliar Rice.
Why My Brother Died
This week, the White House announced, with little fanfare, that the two-year search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had finally ended, and it acknowledged that no such weapons existed there at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003.

For many, this may be a story of only passing interest. But for me and my family, it resonates with profound depth.

My brother was Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a year ago with his unit out of Wilkes-Barre. He said goodbye to his wife and his 9-year-old son, boarded a bus and went to Ft. Dix, N.J., to be hastily retrained. His seven years of Guard training as a forward observer was practically worthless because he would not face combat. All he needed to do was learn how to not die.

He received a crash course in convoy security, including practice in running over cardboard cutouts of children. We bought him a GPS unit and walkie-talkies because he wasn't supplied with them. In Iraq, Sherwood was assigned to the Iraq Survey Group and joined the search for weapons of mass destruction.

David Kay, who led the group until January 2004, had already stated that they did not exist. Former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix had expressed serious doubts about their presence during prewar inspections. In fact, a cadre of former U.N. inspectors and U.S. generals had been saying for years that Iraq posed no threat to our country. On April 26, 2004, the Iraq Survey Group, at the behest of the stubborn administration sitting safely in office buildings in Washington, was still on its fruitless but dangerous search. My brother stood atop his Humvee, securing the perimeter in front of a suspect building in Baghdad. But as soldiers entered the building, it exploded; the official cause is still not known. Sherwood was struck by debris in the back of his head and neck, and he was killed.

Since that day, my family and I have lived with the grief of losing a loved one. We have struggled to explain his death to his son. We have gazed at the shards of life scattered at our feet, in wonder of its fragility, in perpetual catharsis with God.

I have moved from frustration to disappointment to anger. And now I have arrived at a place not of understanding but of hope � blind hope that this will change.

The Iraq Survey Group's final report, which was filed in October but revealed only on Wednesday, confirmed what we knew all along. And as my mother cried in the kitchen, the nation barely blinked.

I am left now with a single word seared into my consciousness: accountability. The chance to hold our administration's feet to that flame has passed. But what of our citizenry? We are the ones who truly failed. We shut down our ability to think critically, to listen, to converse and to act. We are to blame.

Even with every prewar assumption having been proved false, today more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers are trying to stay alive in a foreign desert with no clear mission at hand.

At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading with fate to spare them.

Change is vital. We must remind ourselves that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant abuse of power by our leaders � and a case of shameful negligence by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our national treasure � our soldiers.

We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.
Re-read those last two paragraphs, especially if you voted for George W. Bush because you don't approve of abortion or don't think gays should marry.
We must remind ourselves that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant abuse of power by our leaders � and a case of shameful negligence by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our national treasure � our soldiers.

We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.
Tell me all about moral values now.

Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal

Better late than never, I suppose.

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 05:07:00 PM

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America, or at least some portion of the 51% we've been looking at dubiously since Nov. 2nd, finally wakes up.

Support for war in Iraq hits new low
Support for the war in Iraq has continued to erode, but most Americans still are inclined to give the Bush administration some time to try to stabilize the country before it withdraws U.S. troops, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found. The poll, conducted Saturday through Monday, found that the percentage of Americans who believed the situation in Iraq was "worth going to war over" had sunk to a new low of 39%. When the same question was asked in a similar poll in October, 44% said it had been worth going to war.
Thanks, guys. It might have been nice if you'd put down the Koolaid and figured this out before the election, but hey... glad to have you onboard.

American Ambassador to Mars, Hugh Hewitt continues to gulp down the drugs and seems to feel that these figures mean nothing. "Funny how this is timed for the day before the Inauguration, and how such an unpopular war's leader was resoundingly re-elected two months ago"

Resoundingly? Please allow me to direct you to an online dictionary. You need help. Seek it. Seriously. Go now.

It is, as is so often the case, difficult to determine which side of this story Outside the Beltway is coming down on. I'll let you be the judge.

I have to ask, however... if you support keeping troops there longer after the "elections" on Jan. 30 as opposed to allowing the Iraqis to ask us to go home, how many American troops have to die for this disastrous mistake before you are satisfied?

Your Dream Job

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 04:25:00 PM

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Want to make a living by blogging? (Or at least sheparding bloggers?) Joe Territo may have the answer for you.

Save the Squirrel Gliders

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 04:21:00 PM

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Flying Squirrels get reprieve in Australia.

Ok... I'm happy for the squirrels in a general sort of way, but man...

These are some frightening looking animals.

Damn You Ron!

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 04:00:00 PM

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I was going to post a link to There Is No Crisis about the sham Bush is trying to run on Social Security to cheer up Ron, but he beat me to it.

My other blog

posted by georg at 1/19/2005 01:53:00 PM

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Some of you more observant folks have noticed that on the right, it says Georg (mail) (blog1) (blog2). Thank you Mike for the changes. Other minor cosmetic changes should continue to happen.

But I thought I'd mention what you might find under blog2- that's my research blog, where I intend to put the fun stuff I've been doing in the non-fiction department for the joy of learning and writing and sharing. So far, it's calligraphy, cheese, and privies. I hope to write up my quilt research and have it there too. It will get updated, but not as often as the Dear Dear Diary, which gets updated not often enough at all.

And of course, my email is there. Not that I expect lots of fanmail, mind. But if you want to chat- hey, There I am.

Women in Combat

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 01:35:00 PM

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Bush doesn't get much right, but in this case, I'm forced to agree with him.

Army affirms its ban on women in combat
Army Secretary Francis Harvey has told Congress that the service will keep the Pentagon's ban against female soldiers in ground combat, including no assignments to units that routinely embed with war fighters. Mr. Harvey sent a memo to four senior members of Congress on Thursday, a day after The Washington Times reported that the president had said in an interview that he opposes any move to change the ground combat prohibition. The president was emphatic: "No women in combat."
I've heard a lot of arguments against women on the front lines that I didn't agree with. Going back to my own Navy days there were huge fights over the idea of putting female sailors on non-combat ships. The reason, behind all of the bluster and arguments, came down to an ancient superstition. It had been held since the days of the earliest explorers in tall ships under power of sail that women on ships were simply bad luck. Horse hockey, of course, but I guess old superstitions die hard.

I've heard it said that women in fast moving combat units present a host of logistical difficulties, such as latrines and shower facilities for two genders, and similar complications. We seem to have gotten over most of those concerns.

So what's my reason for opposing women in combat? Well, to be honest, I really don't have a reason. Not one that I could logically defend, anyway. But to me, it's just wrong. I don't want our country to be a place that sends women out on the front lines to get shot. It's just not right. Plus, women in combat face additional risks that men don't. The rape of female prisoners is a pattern that goes back to ancient times... the "spoils of war" as some used to say. I've yet to see it confirmed by her or her family, but I recall reading that Jessica Lynch was raped when she was captured. That's reason enough for me.

There are plenty of career opportunities for women in the military without putting them on the front lines. I think, in this case, things should stay as they are.

Outside the Beltway contends that it's no longer possible to even define where the "front lines" are in modern warfare. A point I must also agree with.

Mighty Casey looks at Iraq the Model and .... strikes out?

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 10:02:00 AM

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I suppose I'm going to need some help understanding exactly what is going on with the firestorm currently sweeping Blogtopia regarding Sarah Boxer's NYT Arts piece today about one of the authors of Iraq the Model. She is being attacked from a number of sides over this piece, and frankly I'm just not seeing it.

For those of you who haven't been following the story, Iraq the Model is a blog which is run by two Iraqi brothers (formerly three) who are doctors. The site is extremely pro-American, pro-Bush, pro-invasion, you name it. In fact, while they are certainly free to write whatever they wish, I removed ITM from my Iraqi blogroll last year. The reason was simply that I no longer felt confident that we were getting a true look at the personal feelings of these Iraq citizens. Their "opinions" began to look more and more as if they were not only writing in flawless English, but had been cut and pasted from White House press releases and Scotty McClellan press gaggles, complete with all of the current talking points to try to run up support for the invasion.

As I mentioned, and we'll get to a number of examples below, the author is being excoriated from blogs all over for writing some sort of "hack" piece which is biased, and "smearing" the authors of the blog, with some going so far as to say that she was endangering the blog authors' lives.

Before getting to the attacks on Ms. Boxer, let's look at a few key pieces of what she actually wrote. The first section of her article is being criticized by everyone. It reads as follows:
When I telephoned a man named Ali Fadhil in Baghdad last week, I wondered who might answer. A C.I.A. operative? An American posing as an Iraqi? Someone paid by the Defense Department to support the war? Or simply an Iraqi with some mixed feelings about the American presence in Iraq? Until he picked up the phone, he was just a ghost on the Internet.
Nowhere does she state that this is the reality of who the author is. It's a literary device (and a very common one at that) to pique the reader's interest and give a hint as to what will be discussed. Please note also that she offers an alternative to Ali being a shill for the Americans. In fact, she immediately goes on to say the following, which is conveniently ignored by all of her detractors.
I went online to see what Iraqis think about the war and the Jan. 30 national election. I stumbled into an ideological snake pit... The blog, which is quite upbeat about the American presence in Iraq, had provoked a deluge of intrigue and vitriol.
That doesn't sound to me as if the author is giving credence to Ali's accusers. Quite the opposite, in fact. One big aspect of her story isn't so much the blog itself, but rather the massive ado surrounding it and how it worked out in the debate between left and right.

The other horrible allegation being made against her by a number of bloggers, shockingly including Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, is that she endangered Ali's life (and the lives of his brothers) be revealing their names in her article. First of all, two of those brothers showed up for a supposedly "unplanned" meeting with President George W. Bush last month which was covered in all of the major media outlets. Their names were already well known. Besides that, they had been "outed" long before that. Mahablog makes the case for this very well.
Jarvis would have a point, except that Mr. Fadhil plainly said in the interview that the brothers had already been outed. And that outing was by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post.
On December 20, Kurtz began his Media Notes column, headlined "Iraqi Bloggers, In the News and Critiquing It," by naming the brothers, identifying them as the authors of Iraq the Model, and revealing that two of them met with President Bush in the Oval Office.

Omar Fadhil says the media are painting far too dark a portrait of Iraq. ...

Fadhil, 24, is a dentist in Baghdad. He and his two brothers are doing more than just griping about the coverage; they are at the forefront of the first wave of Iraqi Internet bloggers, engaging in a form of expression that was impossible under Saddam Hussein.

On a visit to Washington earlier this month, Omar and his sibling Mohammed, 35, who is also a dentist, found themselves ushered into the Oval Office for a meeting with President Bush after a last-minute invitation. The president asked their views on Iraqi politics and assured them that the United States will not leave until the job is done. ...

Mahablog goes on to make a number of other excellent points and addresses some highly intriguing questions, so I strongly suggest you read the entire post. These include the issue of exactly how Iraq the Model got so much ink in so many MSM outlets, but anti-invasion sites like Riverbend and Star from Mosul got no such attention. Also, many right wing blogs, including ITM, keep referring to the brothers' meeting with Bush as "accidental" and "unplanned." Ah, what a nice surprise for them, then. But seriously, folks... does anyone ever have an "accidental" or "unplanned' meeting with POTUS? You can't get within a country mile of the man without signing an oath of fealty. Please.

So much for that. I read a number of these attacks trying to make sense of where this anger was originating. The first ones came from predictably rabid, right wing Bushies, so I was willing to blow it off as the usual "Nothing must be printed which makes Dear Leader � look bad" type hyperventilating.

Leading the pack, of course, was Mr. "Everything is coming up roses in Iraq" Art Chrenkoff. He takes up the cry of "smear" first and loudest. "the same media has now built a major quasi-investigative article on the "grassy knoll" theorizing of one minor left-wing blogger and hunches and opinions of his anonymous commenters." Excuse me, but... "quasi-investigative"? It was a piece in the Arts section that asked questions rather than answering them, and looked at the bitter war between the sides in the blogosphere.

Patterico takes up the same ridiculous accusation that the author was putting the authors' lives in danger, apparently unaware that the several conservative papers had already published their names. I thought all of the rightwingnuts read the Post?

You'll find plenty more of the same ranting at Power Loons, Polipundit and many more.

But I was very surprised when I saw some harsh criticism of Boxer's article coming from some normally far more rational speakers. Joe Gandelman took her to task, saying "...reflecting biases out of the starting gate, telling assumptions that put it in the category of "advocacy journalism" and leaving you with an overall feeling that you need to take a mental and physical shower arfter reading it." Honestly, I didn't get that feeling at all.

And Jeff Jarvis goes absolutely ballistic on Boxer. (Too many attacks to pick out a few to quote.)

So there you have it. I'm open to hearing some sort of non-partisan explanation from people who feel otherwise. Everyone seems to be quoting the same text from the article, but it sounds as if few of them read the entire thing. They got as far as the first paragraph and made up their minds. Where is the smear? As I pointed out above, I'm just not seeing it.

Good Tyrants

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/19/2005 09:32:00 AM

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For all of the talk of spreading democracy the US government really only objects to tyrants who won't stick to the program. Remember those pictures of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in the 80s. And yes, the Democrats have been just as guilty of this as Bush and the Republicans. A case in point is the charming dictator of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang. Mother Jones brings us the details on how the US props up the government of this ruthless dictator in A Touch of Crude.
American bankers handled his loot. Oil companies play by his rules. The Bush administration woos him. How the pursuit of oil is propping up the West African dictatorship of Teodoro Obiang.
Mr Obiang likes to be called "El Libertador". He came to power in a bloody coup which overthrew Equatorial Guinea's first dictator, Obiang's uncle Francisco Macias Nguema. And although Obiang did liberate them from that dictator he has proved to be just as bad.
Equatorial Guinea sometimes seems a parody of an oil kleptocracy -- a Blazing Saddles of the world of petroleum. Yet it has emerged as an all-too-real example of how a dictator, awash in petrodollars, enriches himself and his family while starving his people. His conduct has been aided by American companies: As detailed in Senate and Treasury Department documents, Riggs Bank helped Obiang shuttle millions into offshore accounts. Oil companies, meanwhile, made payments to his regime that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now scrutinizing under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

If America?s interest in foreign countries were predicated on human rights, Equatorial Guinea would have seized our attention long before its 1995 oil boom. Francisco Macias Nguema, whose self-bestowed titles included "Leader of Steel," "The Sole Miracle of Equatorial Guinea," and, of course, "President for Life," was a morph of Idi Amin and Pol Pot. He killed or forced into exile nearly a third of the population, decimating in particular the small educated class. Some of his victims were crucified on the road leading to the airport. It was one of the 20th century's most brutal genocides, but no foreign power except for Equatorial Guinea's former colonial ruler paid attention to it, and the fascist regime of Spain's Francisco Franco was not overly troubled by human rights abuses. Obiang's coup was a welcome event, and his rule has not been nearly as ruthless as his uncle's. Of course,that's not much of an achievement.
The US embassy was closed they in 1995 because of human right violations after the life of the ambassador was threatened. But all that changed a year latter.
The country might have disappeared from our geopolitical radar had Mobil not struck oil in the waters off Malabo later that year. It quickly became clear that the Zafiro oil field was world-class. After a decade of development, oil production in Equatorial Guinea stands at more than 300,000 barrels a day, which at current prices translates to nearly $5.5 billion a year. A gas field owned by Marathon Oil has also become a major producer, and the ocean beds off Equatorial Guinea are being combed for additional deposits. Energy companies have invested several billion dollars in Equatorial Guinea, and Marathon is building a major liquefied natural gas facility. It is now possible to fly nonstop from Malabo to Texas on a weekly flight known as the "Houston Express."
[...]
U.S. corporations are now investing more in Equatorial Guinea than in any other African country except for Nigeria and South Africa. In 2003, the Bush administration reopened the embassy, a move sharply criticized by human rights groups as a favor to the oil companies and to Obiang. Frank Ruddy, U.S. ambassador to Equatorial Guinea in the mid-1980s, decries current U.S. policy, saying that Bush administration officials are "big cheerleaders for the government -- and it"s an awful government."
So much for freedom and democracy when oil and oil companies are involved.
Yet to Western oil companies, Equatorial Guinea is an ideal partner. Nearly all of its oil and gas reserves are offshore, which means securing the fields is relatively easy. ExxonMobil and Marathon workers live in gated compounds that operate their own electrical, water, and communication systems. Unlike in Nigeria or Saudi Arabia, foreign workers do not face major security threats, and the government's brutish security apparatus has kept the violent-crime rate low. Expats freely cruise the rutted streets of Malabo in their pickup trucks and hang out at the most popular bars, like La Bamba and Shangri-La, among an abundance of professional women, known as "night fighters" because they bicker over prospective clients.

Most important for oil companies, Equatorial Guinea is a profitable place to do business. According to a 1999 report by the International Monetary Fund, oil companies received "by far the most generous tax and profit-sharing provisions in the region." The state received only 15 to 40 percent of the revenues from its oil fields, while the norm in sub-Saharan Africa was 45 to 90 percent.
And what do the people of Equatorial Guinea think?
"Obiang doesn't care about the people, only his family," the man said. "He doesn't want to share the money. He says he wants democracy, but if I say to him these things, I will go to jail and be killed. It is our brother who is killing us. The whites, they should help us. Saddam Hussein, he was a dictator, and the whites decided to get rid of him. They should help us, too."

By "whites" he meant "Americans." We are the ones offering jobs to a lucky few workers. In his eyes, we are the ones who stand for democracy and a future that is not filled with theft and violence by a government mafia. We are a good people who will do what is right -- or should do what is right.
Is it any wonder that the world sees the US as hypocritical imperialists?

No Mind of Her Own

posted by Jazz at 1/19/2005 08:17:00 AM

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Who would you rather have for your Secretary of State... an independent thinker with strong diplomatic skills? Or a lap dog? Go read Ron's editorial on Condi Rice called "No mind of her own" over at Middle Earth Journal. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

This could almost make me move to California

posted by Jazz at 1/18/2005 04:02:00 PM

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God bless Barbara Boxer. Also here. During her interview at Condi's hearing, she came in with a number of heavy hitters, including the following:

Boxer pointed out what she said were inconsistencies in Rice's statements about the imminent threat of nuclear weapons in Iraq.

"This is a pattern here of what I see from you," Boxer said. "It's very troubling. ... It's hard for me to let go of this war because people are still dying." She said Rice has not acknowledged those deaths, has not laid out an exit strategy for Iraq and has been unwilling to admit mistakes -- including going to war over weapons of mass destruction found later not to exist.

Rice insisted the war in Iraq was not launched solely over WMD. Saddam Hussein, she said, welcomed terrorists, attacked his own neighbors and paid suicide bombers in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

But Boxer said the bill passed by Congress authorizing the war in Iraq was, "WMD, period."

"Let's not rewrite history, its too soon for that," she said.

I have been waiting so long to hear ANYONE in a position of authority call out the Bush neocon cabal on the ongoing rewriting of history. The Bushie bloggers have been rewriting this already on a 24/7/365 basis ever since it became evident that the WMD story was a hoax. Boxer is living up to her name. She's a fighter in every sense of the word and shining a bright, painful light on these cockroaches.

Some more input from around Blogostan:

The Left Coaster has information on how Kerry is working this.

Political Wire reports a rather shocking quote from Joe Biden.

February 12, 2005 -- A Day of Reckoning

posted by Mike at 1/18/2005 01:19:00 PM

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Astute observers of this blog will notice that Jazz recently left the Republican party. On Saturday, February 12, 2005, or very shortly thereafter, I'm going to learn whether I will be leaving the Democratic party.

The race has rarely been so clear between those who want to make the Democratic Party "Republican Lite™" and those who want to make the Democratic Party return to its core progressive principles. One side believes that the reason Democrats lost in November was because our values don't mesh with the public's; the other side believes that the reason Democrats lost in November was because we never came out and told people what we were for, we just expressed ourselves as a negative, the "Not Bush" candidate.

I firmly believe that the reason we lost was because of the latter. Kerry never came out and said who he was for. He gave voice to the criticisms of Bush we were all feeling, but I really feel that most of the passion people felt for the 2008 campaign was fueled by the thought of "let's get this homicidal psychopathic drunkard out of the White House" rather than "oh yeah Kerry! he'd be a great leader for the country!".

When I learned that George Lakoff (who I wrote about here) had Dean's ear and that Dean had firmly embraced Lakoff's teachings in his campaign, I got even more excited. A DNC that embraces the ideas about political and cognitive thought that Lakoff is teaching would be a very successful movement. The turnaround would be a frickin' wonder to behold. It is for that reason that I wrote to all of the DNC representatives from Illinois, asking them to vote for Howard Dean.

Yesterday, thanks to Daily Kos, I learned who the alternative to Dean is: Martin Frost, the former Congressman from the state of Texas.

And I was absolutely horrified.

From the Dallas Morning News, via Kos:

Mr. Frost — running in a mostly Republican district — is trying to appeal to GOP voters in North Dallas.

Some of his campaign commercials show Mr. Sessions being in opposition to President Bush, while portraying himself as a tough, moderate Democrat.

He uses popular Republicans like Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and John McCain of Arizona to make his point. And one ad even casts fellow Democrat Ted Kennedy in the same liberal boogeyman role as some Republicans do.


Kos also points out the following excerpt from Frost's 2004 campaign website:

I am [...] proud to stand with President Bush whenever he is acting in the national interest. I broke with a majority of my own party to support the President's decision to send American troops to Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime. Two years ago, I was the only Democrat on the Select Committee on Homeland Security to vote to create the new Department of Homeland Security and, unlike my opponent, I supported President Bush's bipartisan 'No Child Left Behind Act' to improve public education.


The choice is so very clear. This man here is most likely the most prominent competitor of Dean for the DNC chair, and he pretty much embodies the "Republican Lite™" concept of the Democratic Party.

If the DNC candidates vote him in, then I know that the Democrats are not going to offer up any useful resistance to the neocon movement of the Republican party. At that point, I will probably give up on the Democrats and officially become a "former Democrat." Especially if the Democrats are stupid enough to either put Kerry back up again in 2008 (want to know why he conceded so damn quickly? to save his future political career) or to put the ever-polarizing Hillary Clinton up (who would, no doubt, get the lowest popular vote a Democrat could get in the 2008 election).

Where I would go from there, I don't know. Maybe Dean'd spin off the Democracy for America movement into a third party? Or something entirely different. I'm not environmentally conscionable enough to become a Green, I think. Hell, this is enough for me - a very civically minded person, mind you - to consider giving up voting for President.

I am surprised, folks, because I hadn't expected this to be so important to me, but it is. The Democratic Party is deciding which path it wants to take to the future, and the paths being considered are a hell of a lot more clear than you'd expect them to be. If the party adopts Frost, the Democrats will become Republican Lite™, and there'll be no difference between the parties. If the party adopts Dean, the Democrats will re-envision their party and return to their core values much as the Republicans did in '68, and they'll have the support of tens of thousands of grassroots people who simply want someone to believe in. It could be a transformation amazing to behold ... or we could instead witness the Democrats firmly stand together, and with one voice, look America in the eye and say, "Same old. Same old."

Election Day2. February 12, 2005.

Hold your breath. This'll be a doozy.

NRO - if you love a good laugh

posted by Mu at 1/18/2005 10:42:00 AM

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In case you didn't know, "The U.S. Budget Deficit Is Shrinking Rapidly." .
According to Larry Kudlow at the National Review Online, this is a sure sign of Bush's new emphasis on Budget discipline:
At this pace, the 2005 deficit is on track to drop to $355 billion from $413 billion in fiscal year 2004.
Well, it is better than last year. Just worse than the 227 years before that.

Selling Social Security

posted by Ron Beasley at 1/18/2005 09:32:00 AM

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We had discussed a few weeks ago how the administration planned to sell Social Security Reform like it sold the Iraq war. Today Paul Krugman addresses this topic. After a brief summary on the selling of the war he talks about Social Security and discusses how the same tactics may not work this time.
White House officials themselves concede - or maybe boast - that their plan to sell Social Security privatization is modeled on their selling of the Iraq war. In fact, the parallels are remarkably exact.

Everyone has noticed the use, once again, of crisis-mongering. Three years ago, the supposed threat from Saddam somehow became more important than catching the people who actually attacked America on 9/11. Today, the mild, possibly nonexistent long-run financial problems of Social Security have somehow become more important than dealing with the huge deficit we already have, which has nothing to do with Social Security.

But there's another parallel, which I haven't seen pointed out: the politicization of the agencies and the intimidation of the analysts. Bush loyalists begin frothing at the mouth when anyone points out that the White House pressured intelligence analysts to overstate the threat from Iraq, while neocons in the Pentagon pressured the military to understate the costs and risks of war. But that is what happened, and it's happening again.

Last week Andrew Biggs, the associate commissioner for retirement policy at the Social Security Administration, appeared with Mr. Bush at a campaign-style event to promote privatization. There was a time when it would have been considered inappropriate for a civil servant to play such a blatantly political role. But then there was a time when it would have been considered inappropriate to appoint a professional advocate like Mr. Biggs, the former assistant director of the Cato Institute's Project on Social Security Privatization, to such a position in the first place.

Sure enough, The New York Times reports that under Mr. Biggs's direction, employees of the Social Security Administration are being forced to disseminate dire warnings about the system's finances - warnings that the employees say are exaggerated.
Just like the run up to the war dissenting opinions are being silenced and lapdog officials are being used to spread the lies and spin. But will it work this time?
Still, there are two reasons why the selling of Social Security privatization shouldn't be another slam dunk.

One is that we're not talking about secret intelligence; the media, if they do their job, can check out the numbers and see that they don't match what Mr. Bush is saying. (A good starting point is
Roger Lowenstein's superb survey in The Times Magazine last Sunday.)
The other is that we've been here before. Fool me once ...
It would appear that some of the MSM is doing it's job this time. Of course you have that Republican hack rag the Wall Street Journal which will continue to tow the party line and what can we say about FOX. Disney owned ABC continues to give us news from Fantasy Land but there have been some bright points from the Times and MSNBC.