Wednesday, August 27, 2003

America. Is. the Greatest. Country. Ever.

The French have NO answer for this. I've gotta see if this is franchised. 
Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Well, I finally did it. I finally read David Neiwert's Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis. All... 87... Pages... Whew! I'm tired.

I had to do it. You can't go to the far-left blogosphere without seeing posts about how the republican party is the party of fascists. How we are but one contested election away from the fascists revealing themselves in all of their glory. You see, Bush will never give up his power, and if the voters elect the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, Bush will unleash an army of Freepers who will overturn the election. Or so some on the far-left seem to believe with an utter conviction.

When these folks get going, they start throwing around quotes from Neiwert's Exegesis. Having now read the thing, and paid my five dollar donation to boot, I can see these conspiracy theorists either never read it or didn't understand it. For the sake of clarity, I don't support Neiwert's conclusions, but those who choose to quote him clearly didn't take the time to understand what he is saying.

When reading the document, I did my best to read it with an open mind. Neiwert's a reporter by trade and judging from the fact that he won the "National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000", he also seems to be someone who deserves to have his work read without bringing preconceived notions to the table. As I said I did my best, however Neiwert himself couldn't keep his own biases out of the document such as when he calls Bush "the Frat Boy of Destiny". So now that I've read it I'm still debating how to proceed. It's hard to debate an 87 page document in any meaningful way, and additionally I'm not much interested in defending the moron-contingent that makes up the Patriot movement. Yet there seems to be a need to address some of the excesses committed by Neiwert in the Exegesis he's written.

I suppose I can't let all of that time spent reading the Exegesis go to waste, so expect that I will periodically address various aspects of Neiwert's Exegesis over the next couple of weeks. 

My liberal friends often tell me that Bush will never let the Iraqis create a democracy without interfering in the process. According to them, Bush will force the Iraqis to create a very western-style democracy with no regard to the Iraqi's culture. These liberal friends of mine say all this with the greatest disdain. In their minds, Bush can't deal with cultural differences and this is one of the reasons that his plan to build a democracy in Iraq will fail. Having been regularly lectured about Bush's short-comings on this issue, I was fascinated to read what Howard Dean has to say about how an Iraqi democracy would take shape under a Dean administration.

As a matter of policy, I'm neither for or against this. I'm for women's rights, but I'm unsure just how far we can successfully push that agenda without impeding our other objectives. One thing about which I am confident however, is that if Bush were to say that American policy was to "impose a 'hybrid' consititution on the Iraqis, the majority of the political Left would be all over him for his cultural ignorance and insensitivity. It will be interesting to see if any self-identified liberals take Dean to task in a similar way.

Dean remains an unfailingly interesting politician. Check out this from the same WaPo column

Being against free-trade is not a radical position for a Democratic party candidate, but to say you are directly disagreeing with the man who invented Rubinomics is pretty bold. The biggest accomplishment of the Clinton administration was the success of the economy. To oppose the Clinton approach on economic matters is nothing if not interesting. 
Monday, August 25, 2003

Violent and Property Crime Continues to Drop

I'm stunned by this. I was aware that the rate of violent and property crime had gone down all through the '90s, but I thought the explanation for that, at least by "experts", was that the growing economy, particularly the magnificent job market, was responsible for the decline. Now, we have a job market that has steadily worsened over the last two years, yet we are still seeing a decline in violent and property crimes.

So how to explain the decline?

But of course, some groups have an agenda that makes that explanation unacceptable.

Ah, but is this just cleverly presented spin? On the surface it looks like it. The Justice Department is talking about a drop in ALL violent and propert crime. The Justice Policy Institute doesn't talk about ALL violent and property crime, instead it looks only at homicides and only in specific regions. It looks like they combed through the report to spin the data. That may not be the case, but the reporter seems to only have sought a quote from an opposition party to "balance" the story. In the context of the story the quote from the Justice Policy Insititute tells us nothing, except possibly where its biases lay.

On a different note. Also in the story

Jeebus. He really does want to encourage us all to spy on each other, doesn't he?

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Man Bites Dog

Steve Gilliard defends Ann Coulter, and in so doing, attacks Joe Conason (scroll down to Friday, August 22). This is interesting on so many levels. Having not read Big Lies, I don't know if Steve is right or not, but he deserves credit for having the b*lls to do this given what his readership probably thinks of both Conason and Coulter. 
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Judge Roy Moore of Alabama Is a Theocrat And a Moron to Boot

The man who wants the ten commandments displayed in public buildings had this to say in January of this year.

The man's unfit for a judgeship. I'm not anti-religion. I am anti-moron. 


Howard Dean wrote an article for the WSJ's editorial page(free on the web) and yet there was no comment from Atrios or Kos. I guess the fact that Atrios didn't comment or link to Dean's Op-Ed isn't that surprising. Atrios hasn't come out in favor of any specific candidate yet. Kos' neglect to link or comment is a little more surprising to me, since kos is an explicit supporter of Dean.

Anyway, to me the most radical piece of Dean's proposals was

The 2001 tax cuts? Across the board? That is a political loser if I ever heard one. I think a proposal to repeal the 2003 tax cuts and parts of the 2001 tax cuts could fly with the majority of Americans. But to repeal the tax relief given to the lowest income-earners? That's political suicide. His supporters say he's a centrist. Parts of Dean's record can certainly be held up to show he is a centrist. Repealing all the 2001 taxes? He will be easily branded a far-left nut by his political opponents.

One small nit to pick with another part of Dean's article.

Whose fault is that? Many two-income families are choosing to live beyond their means. Why is that a problem for government to solve? What is Dean's point? That the American ethic of personal responsibility has deteriorated further than ever before? And his solution is to repeal taxes? Whuuuuu?

Americans have chosen to run up their debt. Yes, chosen. There are some exceptions to that statement. Sometimes life hits you with a curve that you simply do not anticipate, but that doesn't seem to be the root of the bankruptcy problem in America today. Two years ago, I was looking for a house in a major metropolitan area. I was stunned at the huge subdivisions of homes where the starting price of a home was over $500,000. I remember asking my realtor, How can people afford to buy homes that are so expensive? That's when she told me that the zip code where all of these expensive houses were located also had the highest bankruptcy rate in the entire state. The people living in those homes knew, or certainly should have known, that a downturn in their job situation would force them into an untenable situation. Yet they chose to close their eyes to potential downsides. When they lose their job and have to declare bankruptcy six months later, Why should those of us who made different choices feel sorry for them? Or as Dean suggests, seek ways the government can help them. 

Hamas Calls Bush 'Islam's Biggest Enemy'

From the Washington Post

Maybe we are headed towards WW4 as former CIA Director Woolsey describes our War on Terror (in Woolsey's parlance WW3 was the Cold War). This is a scary development. In some ways, confronting Hamas head-on seems unavoidable. When we look at root causes for the problems in the Middle East, the first problem is always the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tying up Hamas funding seems to be a logical step in trying to affect change there, but I'm no expert on all of the challenges the conflict presents. I'm not going to pretend to know if this ultimately gets us closer to resolving the conflict, or not.

I just know this new development has me feeling awfully uneasy.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Franken Admits to Lying in Order to Get Material for His Book

So, did Franken have an epiphany that what he'd done was wrong? Is that why he apologized to Ashcroft? Perhaps. Or maybe Franken's apology has more to do with his fear of legal trouble, not from Ashcroft, but from Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for Press and Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that Franken did this to provide material for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

Pot... meet kettle.

UPDATE: The Smoking Gun has the letter available here. I also fixed the broken link.

UPDATE 2: Alright. Fair and Balanced j has swung me on this. Reading the full text of the first Franken letter, I think most people would catch it as a joke. Now, Ashcroft doesn't come across to me as the kind of guy who would necessarily get the joke, but I'm willing to retract the accusation of lying I made against Franken. Using the Shorenstein Center letterhead, well that's a little more iffy. It seems clear that Franken's letter of apology was driven by the fact that the Shorenstein folks were upset with his use of their letterhead.

You Learn Something New Every Day

E.D. Hill, female anchor for the Fox & Friends morning show, is a "primary-voting Democrat".

You've gotta be kidding me. 
Monday, August 18, 2003

Spinsanity has the latest roundup of Democratic "rhetorical excesses and falsehoods"

In the last two weeks, Spinsanity catches Howard Dean, Molly Ivins, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and Robert Scheer going over-the-top in their efforts to attack Bush. A sampling

The hypocrisy continues from both sides of the fence. 

Recycling Urban Legends

Matt Bivens, writing for the Daily Outrage, tries to get some mileage over George Bush's complaint that reporters viewed the CA governor's election as the "biggest political story out there". In the process, he writes

The myth of Bush I's reaction to a supermarket price scanner belongs in the pantheon of urban legends that stick, even though untrue. Just as Gore was wrongly accused of saying he invented the internet, Bush I is wrongly accused of being shocked and delighted by supermarket scanners. Snopes has the goods.

The Snopes article has more details, all properly sourced. But you get the picture. 

Racial Politics Hurting School Children

Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Because this opinion piece is about race, it seems relevant to mention that Ms. Tucker is black. And her politics would make her comfortable writing for The Nation. It goes without saying that a non-black writing the article below would likely have no effect on the situation. It's hopeful to see an influential black leader like Ms. Tucker dare to go after other black "leaders" in this way.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

More Smearing in the CA Governor's Race

A few days ago, I wrote a post denouncing Slate's smearing of Arnold Schwarzenegger . Now, Cruz Bustamante is getting smeared . Apparently, Bustamante once was associated with the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA. MEChA is a pretty nasty organization, but the connection to Bustamante seems small and no longer relevant , if it ever was. It's also come out that Bustamante used the N-word during a speech . He publicly apologized multiple times for his mistake.

A lifetime of evidence shows that Schwarzenegger is no Nazi sympathizer. A similar lifetime of evidence shows that Bustamante is no bigot. Both men have been forced to deny accusations that were never believed to be true by the people who made the accusations in the first place. Normally smart people, either blinded by ideology or cynically ignoring reality, have chosen to promote the worst smears against Schwarzenegger and Bustamante if it furthers their political agenda.

The truly sick thing is that the only reward for Bustamante or Schwarzenegger will be to govern a state that is broken almost beyond repair. It makes you wonder why a sane person would ever seek political office.

UPDATE: Tacitus who is linked to under "smart people" above has responded in the comments thread.

UPDATE: David Neiwert has responded to Tacitus' comments. Between the two of them, we are witnessing a very high level of debate. The blogosphere should be proud. 


The BBC has an article today that covers some rough territory. A blown up oil pipeline. A blown up water pipeline. More coalition deaths. More Iraqi deaths. A blown up sewage treatment plant.

The fact that all of the above news is bad is something that anti-war and pro-war people can agree upon. From there the perspectives diverge. To me, a supporter of our efforts in Iraq, I see the attack on the Baghdad water line as direct evidence that we are not fighting the "Iraqi people". The "Iraqi people" would never intentionally blow up a water line that supplies water to 300,000 Iraqis each day, nor would they have reason to blow up a sewage treatment plant. No, the line was blown up by a small number of extremists who need the "Iraqi people" to suffer in hopes that the "Iraqi people" will turn there anger against the coalition forces.

Anti-war folks read the article and all they see is the blown up oil pipeline. They see it as proof that the "Iraqi people" don't want the U.S. in Iraq. Two different perspectives. Two different assumptions. Little room for compromise in the debate.
Friday, August 15, 2003

See If You Can Spot Everything That Is Ridiculous About This Story
(Daily Howler readers should have a leg up here)

Monday, August 11, 2003
  Folks, this is the last post you will see on this blog. I have neither the passion nor the gifts for blogging. It's the lack of passion that makes this unsustainable for me. I knew going into this that I didn't have a gift for writing And the sarcasm and snarkiness that is a part of so many blogs is not part of my nature either. Yet, I would soldier on if I had real passion for it. It's clearly passion that informs the best blogs. While I feel strongly about many issues, I don't feel a burn to "win" on those issues. When I look at the output of Andrew Sullivan or Atrios, the intensity of their beliefs comes shining through.

Thank you to all who did me the honor of stopping by. I hope to run into you on the message boards of some of the web's better blogs. 
Friday, August 08, 2003

Guantanamo Inmate 'Wants to Stay'

From the BBC  

Slate Performs Hatchet Job on Schwarzenegger

Let me be clear. I've seen Schwarzenegger on television a few times since he announced his candidacy for governor of Califonia, and he's been an absolute disaster. He doesn't know the issues. He doesn't have a vision. He is a miserable choice for governor.

But none of that excuses Timothy Noah's article in Slate, titled Arnold's Nazi Problem .

Now if you’re going to write an article titled Arnold’s Nazi Problem, you better know that there is something real behind the accusation. The consequences of hinting that a public figure has a “Nazi problem” are severe. It’s not something with which you should play games.

The article details Arnold's relationship with Kurt Waldheim. The first third of the article details Waldheim’s participation in WWII. Details that seem pretty terrible to me, but the Austrian people, of which Arnold is one, still chose to elect him to be their president.

The next section of the article quotes Arnold twice in the ‘80s saying positive things about Waldheim. It also mentions that Arnold sat next to him in 1998 during the inauguration of another Austrian president.

Now here is where I became convinced that Noah is playing dirty pool. Noah writes

Like that bit tacked on at the end? Nice. Noah says he’s sure that Schwarzenegger isn’t a Nazi sympathizer, but he still needs to tell you Arnold said something foolish about Hitler during the ‘70s.

Next spot where it became even clearer that Noah was performing a hatchet job.

Nice. Smear the man with the sins of the father. Remember, Noah has already written that Schwarzenegger is not a Nazi sympathizer, but he still, you know, thought you ought to know about Arnold’s dad.

Then Noah reverses all of the Nazi accusations in the next to last paragraph.

The man was given the National Leadership Award by the Wiesenthal Center for goodness sake!

Noah then provides the big finish.

Very nice. Noah says that Schwarzenegger is not a Nazi sympathizer. The Wiesenthal Center’s rabbi says Arnold’s “done more to further the cause of Holocaust awareness than almost any other Hollywood star”. And yet, Noah decides he should still write an article full of innuendo, and then insist that NOW Schwarzenegger needs to refute it. In other words, he’s forcing Arnold to DENY he’s a Nazi sympathizer, when he, Noah, already knows that Arnold is not.

That is one first-rate hatchet job.
Thursday, August 07, 2003

Cats and Dogs Living Together


Josh Marshall's Exclusive Reporting on the WMD Issue

Josh finally breaks the story he's been teasing us with for a couple of days. It's interesting, but somehow unsatisfying. If you supported the war because you felt Saddam was a menace who would pursue nuclear weapons, it looks like you were right. If you opposed the war because you felt that the threat from Saddam was not imminent, well... you were right. 
Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Daniel Drezner in the New Republic on why there is reason to be optimistic that the U.S. will succed in helping Iraqis create an enduring democracy. 

Gilliard Repeats Debunked Meme that Thumbs Up in Iraq Means the Opposite of What It Means in the U.S.

Balloon-juice has the goods
Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Bear Witness

Since the beginning of the War with Iraq, the television networks have purposefully prevented us from seeing the carnage that the war, and post-war, produced. We see the smoking hulks of destroyed equipment, but we don’t see the dead. We don’t see the wounded.

The networks choose their visuals based on their interpretation of standards of decency and with an eye to how their choices will affect the bottom-line. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Yet, the result of these decisions is a sanitizing of our news. We’ve been spared the worst. It strikes me as wrong.

Supporters of our efforts in Iraq, like myself, should not be spared from viewing the results of our choices. In the final analysis, the War with Iraq was a war of choice. President Bush could not have fought this war if he didn’t have the support of the majority of the American people.

A couple days ago, Steve Gilliard at DailyKos linked to a slideshow of American soldiers that were wounded or killed during the war. In an eloquent post on his own blog, Tacitus accused Steve of violating themis. Tacitus’ post is worth reading in its entirety, but the short version is that he did not approve of what Steve was doing. This is an argument I will leave between them.

I believe that supporters of the war should not spare themselves from viewing these images. We owe it to those who are dying in Iraq to bear witness to their sacrifice. We owe it to ourselves to view the fierce reality of our choices. Everyone will have their own reaction to these images. Some will feel an overwhelming desire to bring our soldiers home. Others, like myself, will feel that we can’t let the sacrifices of these soldiers be for nothing. That we must see this effort through to the end. That we can’t simply flee Iraq and leave a power vacuum to be filled in the aftermath of a bloody civil war. That we need to stay the course and make sure we leave behind a stable, free and democratic Iraq.

Regardless, if you are a supporter of what we are doing in Iraq, you owe it to the soldiers and yourself to bear witness.

We've had 4 straight days without losing a soldier in Iraq.

Thank God.

UPDATE: After I posted this, it was reported that a soldier died of a heart attack today. Sadly, we are back to 0 days since the death of one of our soldiers. Damn. 
Monday, August 04, 2003

For my money, the last 20 minutes of Special Report with Brit Hume is the smartest, most entertaining news segment around. This is the time when the "FoxNews All-stars" do their round table. Fred Barnes is there to represent the right. Mort Kondrake represents the left-center, and Mara Liasson represents the left. Let me acknowledge that some members of the Left feel that Mara isn't truly Left at all, and they would laugh at the idea that Mort is on the left as well. Regardless, it usually is an opportunity to get some sharp debate about the issues of the moment. Today the debate was particularly sharp. Fred Barnes was talking about the possible election of a gay bishop. After some back and forth, Fred said (paraphrasing here) that if this bishop gets elected the church will see an increase in priests having sex with young boys. When Brit Hume was wrapping up the segment, Mort jumped in and said that it is absolutely ridiculous to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Time was up for the segment so Mort's word was the last and the show wrapped up.

The segment was crackling with debate and ended sharply divided. Yet there was none of the fake strawman debate that is standard fare on Crossfire, Hannity and Colmes and Buchanan and Press. There is also some interesting back story here. Over at Eschaton, Atrios readers thinks he's uncovered a smear job around the gay bishop story that centers on Fred Barnes. I don't know if he's right or not. Yes, Barnes received a controversial e-mail that broke a story about the gay bishop. And yes, Fred is on the board of a conservative Episcopalian organization that receives funds from the usual suspects. Perhaps there is a conspiracy here. Or perhaps, the writer of the e-mail simply wanted to send it to someone who would be sympathetic. Regardless, it makes the FoxNews segment that much more interesting. The other thing that made it interesting is to note that Mort and Fred strongly disagreed. The disagreement was so strong that you would never suspect they attend the same bible study together.

If your political views have caused you to give up on all things Fox, give the last 20 minutes of Special Report a try. You're missing some good stuff. 
Sunday, August 03, 2003

Ahh... Those Tolerant, Free Speech Loving Democrats

Ward Connerly is a black man who successfully used the ballot initiative process to give Californians and then Washingtonians (the state) the opportunity to vote to outlaw the use of racial preferences in a number of categories including education admissions. The voters of California and Washington both voted the initiatives into law. Mr. Connerly has now trained his eye on Michigan whose state Constitution allows votes to be taken on ballot initiatives. In response, Michigan congressman John Dingell , a white Democrat, wrote the following open letter to Mr. Connerly.

Daughters of ousted dictator say he has a 'big heart'

In 1995, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid, left Iraq with his family and provided intelligence information to western agencies. In 1996, Saddam "pardoned" Hussein Kamil Hasan al-Majid and asked him to come back to Iraq and again be part of the family. Saddam then executed him . The man with the "big heart" also executed an estimated 200,000 Iraqis in his prisons


Steve Gilliard over at Daily Kos wrote this post saying

Huh? Pro-war people think that Iraqis want war in their lives? We think Iraqis sit around wishing for war? From where does Gilliard come up with this ridiculous statement?
Friday, August 01, 2003

I don't agree with Atrios on much, but on this he's dead right .

Special exemption for those whose religion explicitly forbids the above, but only if you follow your religion's doctrine in every other matter on which it rules.


On Tuesday, I wrote that "The RNC is caught in the clutches of hubris" using as my source a CSMonitor article where the RNC was envisioning a sweep of the '04 elections. Today, FoxNews released a poll showing

Only 47% of voters think Bush "deserves reelection". I know that polls at this point in an election cycle are pretty meaningless, but these numbers ought to warn every Republican that it is ridiculous to be talking about election "sweeps" in '04.
email me at erik_cons-at-hotmail.com
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 /

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