June 30, 2005

Fireworks

For Justin's birthday, the Rangers decided not to suck for a day. In fact, they pummelled the Angels but good, 18-5. They hit eight home runs in the game, and my favorite Ranger, Kevin Mench (aka Shrek) hit three in a row in three consecutive innings. That has to be a pretty rare feat, I would think. Still, we're six and a half out, and something fundamental is going to have to change about the Angels' team or else we aren't going to catch them. They've got to fall back to around 10 games over .500 for us to have a shot at this, I think, and I'm not sure they will.

On the broadcast, the great Tom Grieve told a funny story while they were watching the fireworks guy at the ballpark heading home after the 7th inning (because he had no more fireworks to shoot off to celebrate home runs). He said one pitcher was doing so badly that the pitching coach came out and said, "Listen, I really don't have anything to say to you. I'm just trying to give the fireworks guy time to reload."

Posted by Observer at 08:19 PM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2005

That Doesn't Cut It

Digby has a good response to the chickenhawks who say they shouldn't have to go over there and fight if they support the war. After all, the chickenhawks cluck, we support firefighters, but that doesn't mean we should join the fire department. You know, that sort of nonsense. Boy, these macho pro-war nutball patriots, these fuckwits who impugned the patriotism of Kerry for his service in Vietnam and his speaking out against the war afterwards, sure can get, uh, Clintonesque, when you get right down to it, can't they?

Seriously, go read that article.

What I hate most are the people (like Jonah Goldberg, for example) who say, oh, I can do my best job supporting the war by writing my columns in this right-wing magazine, etc., as if that's some big fucking sacrifice. Tell you what, asshole, why don't you write an anti-war column in that magazine and see if they keep you on, k? Oh, you can't do that? Huh. So you're getting *paid* to support the war. I see. Well. Thanks for the sacrifice.

If you support the war, the military needs you. Don't let someone else fight a war that you desperately want to see happen. But you won't do it, because in your heart of hearts, you know what this war is about, and you aren't willing to sacrifice your life just to help the Boy King and his buddies save a little face, are you?

Posted by Observer at 12:33 PM | Comments (10)

June 28, 2005

Not Suckered In

We went swimming at the YMCA tonight. It was pretty stressful herding all the kids up, getting them organized, etc. They were all keyed up, too, on the way there and on the way back. It's really too bad that they get so hyper, because I know they want to go and I want to take them. Oh well, it will get easier as everyone figures out what to take, how to get ready on time, etc. Just a lot of moving parts. We got back, and the Ranger game was tied 1-1 going into the ninth, so I sat down to watch a little bit.

I had just watched Hidalgo flail at the plate and yet somehow manage a walk (which should've been called a strikeout) to avoid an 0 for 4 collar (his average has sunk back down to .206 now ... so much for his "hot" streak). Then, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and a notoriously wild pitcher, I just watched our stupid catcher, Rod Barajas, swing badly at the first pitch for a pop-up to end the inning. No "let's see if he uncorks a wild one so we can win" or "let's see if we can run up his pitch count a little further since it is already near 20 this inning". No, first pitch, poor swing, see ya later.

So it was 1-1 in the top of the 10th inning, and I decided no thanks. I would rather watch the TiVo'd "Daily Show" from last night. Sure enough, by the time I turned the TV back to baseball, we were in trouble in the 11th, and now that I look at the score it is 5-1. That'll be the 2nd extra-inning loss in three days, thanks largely to an anemic offense "led" by hot hitters such as Barajas and Hidalgo. That's fine by me, it's for the best. Once they get to double-digits back, I can forget about 'em. This isn't some '95 Mariner team going to come back from 12 behind to catch the Angels in September.

Hmmm, maybe I should pull out that VHS tape so I can remember what it is like to have fun watching baseball. I still have the season highlights compilation VHS tape the M's sold after that magical season, and I have all of game 5, M's vs Yanks, on tape. I was at that one. What a blast.

Posted by Observer at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Collapse

As I write this, we're getting humiliated again by the Angels. 13-3 in the 9th. We're going to be 2-8 against these guys on the season with three more games looming in the week ahead. By the time the Angels are finished with us, we could quite possibly be under .500 with the Angels nearly 20 games over .500, about 10 games ahead of us in the standings. At least if it comes to that, I can happily ignore the rest of the season and not worry about the Rangers.

This is why I don't sympathize with Mariner or A's fans at this point. You guys have it easy. You knew you sucked from early on. There was no false hope other than the usual "hey, we're all tied for first place" on day one. We Ranger fans had to wait until the past two weeks to have the rug pulled out from under us, mostly by an Angel team that seems to be doing it with smoke and mirrors.

The worst that can happen now is that we split the series, preserving some shred of dignity, maybe even go on a little run before the All-Star Break and try to end up just 5-6 games back when all is said and done at the Break. Then we have to suffer through July and August and most of September before we play the Angels again and they finish us off once and for all. It will feel like the poor sap in the horror movie trying desperately to get his keys into the car door to unlock it, but somehow it just won't open, and the moment drags on forever until the killer ultimately arrives, just like you always knew he would.

Posted by Observer at 09:21 PM | Comments (2)

Toles

Link:

Posted by Observer at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

Therapy and Understanding

I guess Karl Rove and the Bush administration turned into a bunch of liberal pussies over the weekend. I mean, last week, they were saying you're either with us or with the terrorists, that there's no negotiating with terrorists. They were saying that after 9/11, the macho freedom-loving conservatives were ready for war and some serious smashing of stuff while weak-kneed flag-burning traitor liberals wanted to offer therapy and understanding.

But now, all of a sudden, it is apparently ok to negotiate with terrorists. Billmon has the scoop on this, and I totally agree with his take. It's not that it's bad to negotiate a way out of this quagmire in Iraq, not at all. It is legitimate to pursue every possible option to end this war and get our troops out of harm's way, and kudos to the Bush administration for trying it (if they're seriously negotiating and not just crudely trying to gather intelligence on the insurgency).

I'm just trying to imagine what the Fighting 101st Keyboarders would be saying today if Kerry had won the election and the story came out that he was pursuing this sort of negotiated "Peace with Honor" with the Iraqi insurgents. But, no, since the Boy King is in charge, all we hear from those fucking halfwits is the crickets chirping. God, I hate these people.

Posted by Observer at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)

Pioneer


The Keeling Curve

I read on Kos that legendary climatologist Charles David Keeling died from a heart attack last week. In memory of this pioneer, do yourself a favor and read Keeling's very interesting history of the first measurements of Carbon Dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

A funny commenter on Kos joked that when the Bush administration was asked to acknowledge the passing of Keeling, they replied that they weren't sure he ever existed and that the matter requires further study.

Posted by Observer at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2005

Comparing Sources

Today's Howler is a good one. Somerby looks at Bob Woodward's famous "Plan of Attack" book, in which Bush is portrayed as this wise and wonderful macho leader, and he compares a lot of the details with the timeline of the Downing Street Memos. To be fair, Somerby was pointing out the same sorts of timing issues on WMD evidence and Iraq and so forth long before the Downing Street Memos spelled it out. Now, though, it seems more accessible to the masses, as long as they aren't listening to the Rush Limbaugh's of the world, who are telling them to cover their ears and clap harder to support the war.

Posted by Observer at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

New Toy

Michelle brought me home a new toy from her workplace. Seems like the system manager there hates Macs and was looking to get rid of a nice blue G3/450 after its user left. She tried to hang on to it for a while just because it was so new, but in the end, she just isn't good with Macs and was frustrated trying to look after it, network it, etc. So she sold it to us on the cheap. It came with a bad monitor, but that's ok because we have a monitor from my old beige G3/233, which will now go into closet retirement for a while because everyone in the house except Cody now has a nicer computer (and Cody has the GameCube).

Since the G3/450 doesn't have dual drive problems, I took it in to have an IDE drive cable installed (it had a super SCSI drive already but no IDE drive cable) and to have them look it over to give me the full scoop on its condition. They had it ready for me same day (Friday) later in the afternoon. I tried to go get it but got caught up in the mother of all traffic jams. It was a nuclear-war-type traffic jam, it seemed like. I tried to go around, but the jam was too old, so all the alternate routes were already stuffed to the gills. I almost made it through, but at the last minute, when I was really close to the Mac place, a crucial exit had been closed off to redirect traffic flow, and that basically undid almost all of my driving to get around the jam. The highway dumped me back out behind the original jam, and I was yelling all kinds of obscenities at the top of my lungs.

Anyway, we went back today and picked it up. Now I've got a monster 80 GB hard drive in this computer, and I've transferred all of my files over, including bookmarks, prefs, licenses, etc. I hope I got everything, because I just reformatted my original hard drive just to clear up all the clutter and make room for some games on there. I'm next going to install a whole bunch of classic games onto that computer (the G3/300) like Diablo, Diablo II LOD, Heroes III Complete, Civ II, and so on and let him go to town in his own room.

I'm also going to steal some of the RAM from my old G3/300 because Justin probably doesn't need it. I doubt he'll be multitasking or anything, because he won't be hooked up to the Internet. The video card in the G3/450 is an ATI Radeon 16MB card, and I'm considering an upgrade, but I really don't know how useful it will be (for playing things like Myst III or Diablo II, etc) or how much of a difference it would make.

Posted by Observer at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

Set Your TiVo

If you want to see a really good "nemesis confrontation" scene, be sure to tune in to the Al Franken show tonight on the Sundance channel (usually on around 1030pm Central, but it repeats at various other times). Ed Klein, the human slimeball who wrote the latest Hillary-trashing book, is confronted by Al Franken and Joe Conason about all the lies in the book. It is a smackdown of the highest order, almost as good as Franken's legendary smackdown of O'Reilly at the LA Book Expo a couple of years ago.

It's so fun to witness people standing up and not giving a single inch to an asshole.

Posted by Observer at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Motivation

Apparently, Karl Rove recently told a bunch of his fans that a primary motive of liberals is putting our troops in danger. Bloggers everywhere are trying to get our own echo chamber going to reach a sufficient volume that the media might, just might, treat these comments as they would if they came from someone like Howard Dean, who also says strategically foolish things from time to time.

I think Atrios had a good response:

For the record, my motives aren't to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I'd ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment to keep them safe.

Beyond trying to stomp all over war critics, in exactly what tangible way does the right-wing nutball brigade support the troops? Are they signing up themselves? Signing up their kids or their friends?

Posted by Observer at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2005

Crap

I'm starting to think that maybe this Ranger team isn't a 10-games-over-.500 team after all. They made a run at it, but they keep falling back, and the pitching prospects are looking worse every week. Drese fell off the cliff amazingly fast. I was pretty frustrated to see him go out the frikkin' game after being released and pitch a 2-hit shutout against the Angels as a National. We coulda used that, especially after getting shelled these last two days. Small consolation that he went out his next start at gave up a bunch of runs in 3 innings, just like here, I guess, so we weren't necessarily wrong. But the problem is he still sucks and we still need a pitcher.

And now one of our early-season miracles, Pedro Astacio, got released (deservedly). And Chan Ho Park still totally stinks. As Bob Sturm's readers have pointed out, Chan Ho is dead last among regular AL starters in most stats, yet he was 7-1 going into yesterday's atrocious start (8 runs in 1+ inning pitched). He really can't be counted on for anything. His ERA now is higher than either Astacio or Drese, both of whom are now released.

Chris Young and Kenny Rogers are the last two standing, and they've been great so far. But Young is, well, young, and so we really have no right to expect this kind of consistent excellence for the whole season. If he works out to be average, that would be a huge plus. And Kenny has a history of breaking down in the 2nd half of the season. But at least we can count on these two to be average from here on out. The other three holes in the rotation will be patched together from our (good) minor league system and maybe some reconverted starters out of the 'pen. Not a happy situation.

The offense is still good and should keep us with our heads above water (at the .500 level) for the rest of the season. Mench is so fun to watch, and so is the whole lineup minus a couple of holes at the bottom of the order that could (and should) be fixed from within with lineup changes and deserved promotions from the minors. But those damn Angels just keep finding ways to win when all the numbers say they just shouldn't be that good. We're 2-6 against them now for the season, and that really hurts.

Tonight is the last game of a series out in California, and Kenny is pitching, so there is some hope. Then they come here next week for four games. I think we're going to have to win four of the next five for me to regain my optimism, and I can't imagine how we're going to do that with the current state of the pitching staff. It would be nice if cheapskate Tom Hicks, who wants a bottom-half payroll for a top-five revenue club, would go hunting for help while the division is still in reach, but I'm not counting on that. Just another reason to hate the bastard, besides the fact that he's an arrogant Republican prick.

Posted by Observer at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2005

How to Catch Feebas

4/2/2006 Update: If you are looking for a more complete step-by-step guide to catching Feebas instead of just my low-on-details story below, check out a later entry.

Politics is just so damned depressing these days, so time to avoid it again.

I've found that some of the kids' games are incredibly complicated these days, much more so than when I was younger. I remember getting started with Gary Gygax's Chainmail and on into basic role-playing stuff and that was nothing compared to the complexities of Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. The kids still play these games, but they aren't quick enough to unlock all the potential stuff even sometimes with the help of one of these fifteen dollar strategy guides.

I remember when Yu-Gi-Oh started around here. The boys would play all the time, and I finally decided to get involved. Well, I come to find out the boys didn't even know how to play. The rules were just too complex, so they were playing it like "war". Highest attack wins the battle, that sort of thing. So I learned the rules and explained it to them and got them to play properly. It wasn't that bad, not compared to something like Illuminati: New World Order, that great Steve Jackson card game in which a single round of turns took about an hour and a half.

Pokemon has a much higher level of detail but isn't as complex rules-wise as Yu-Gi-Oh. But I'm good at details, so I started playing some of these Pokemon games. I would develop a really good set, then trade with the kids occasionally, but I never really tried that hard. This summer, though, I decided for Cody's benefit to try to really "catch 'em all". That means capture or develop 368 different Pokemon.

Most of them are straightforward. You go to a certain part of the game world (each game allows you to access different parts of the world, so to collect all the Pokemon, you really need at least three different games, maybe more) and hunt for a certain Pokemon, catch it, then evolve it (by gaining experience in battles) and/or breeding it with other Pokemon to get new kinds of Pokemon. Some Pokemon will only evolve if you find certain items.

Some Pokemon are extremely rare. We're talking you have to go all over the place and fight hundreds of battles just to have an off-chance of getting into a battle with one of these super-rares. That's where Cody comes in. When it comes to sinking hours into that game, Cody's the one, so he's captured a lot of the time-consuming ones. I'm concentrating on the difficult ones.

For example, there's Feebas. This is a Pokemon that only exists in one small part of the world, and within that section, there are about 200-250 water squares. Feebas only can exist in six of these squares, and they are randomly picked from game to game. Cody and Sarah didn't realize this. Over the years, they've wasted God knows how many hours trying to fish for this particular Pokemon, but they never had a chance really, unless they got lucky and fished in the right square (most of them aren't accessible easily).

So I looked around on the web, figured out this situation (which isn't explained well at all in any of the guidebooks) and started a search pattern. Within a couple of hours, I found it. Boy, you should've seen the jaws drop on Cody and Sarah. Now *I* am the master. Mu ha ha haaaaa! So by the end of the week, I will have caught probably about 350-360 of the 368 thanks to my own efforts and numerous trades with Cody and Sarah.

The remaining problem is that two of the Pokemon (at least) can only be captured if you wirelessly transmit certain codes into your game using the GameBoy adapter. At least, that's the only way to do it without cheating. So where can you go where you will find these codes being transmitted. Easy! Any Pokemon Center in the real world. Well, I should say either. There's one in New York City and one in Japan (and maybe one in Seattle, I forget). Great. So much for catching 'em all.

Maybe I'll have to get one of those stupid GameShark things after all.

Posted by Observer at 09:09 PM | Comments (20)

June 20, 2005

Baseball Cards

I just finished Buzz Bissinger's "Three Nights in August", a book about a series between the Cubs and Cardinals in August of 2003. This is the same guy who wrote "Friday Night Lights" about Texas high school football. The Cards' manager, Tony LaRussa, read it and decided to do a book about managing with Bissinger.

The framework of the story is everything that happens during this three-game series, but that's just the hook for lots of stories about baseball in general, LaRussa's experience, how the game works, etc. I loved the stories about sign-stealing, beanball wars and manager vs manager, pitcher vs hitter strategy. I remember LaRussa back during his days coaching the hated Athletics, but for me, the biggest drawback of the book is that I really wasn't familiar with most of the characters.

I would pay very good money to see a similar story about the Rangers and Buck Showalter at any point during the past couple of seasons, but it's unlikely to happen. I just don't have enough time as it is to follow the Rangers very closely, let alone the other teams in the AL West, let alone the rest of the teams in the American League. And the National League? Forget it. I guess that's one good thing about the Wild Card. For a brief time during some seasons, I do have an excuse to follow the Red Sox or some other team we're close to in the Wild Card race.

Anyway, this is a great book about the game. More than any other baseball book I've read, with the exception of a book by Keith Hernandez about watching baseball on TV (which wasn't bad), this book focuses more on the game and less on the personal history of one or two people. There's some of that, sure, but most of it has to do with explaining some of the unwritten rules of baseball from a manager's standpoint. The most comparable book is probably Bouton's "Ball Four", but Bouton's is definitely better and ages well.

Posted by Observer at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Father's Day

What better way to celebrate Father's Day than to start trying to have another little rugrat? Woo!

Posted by Observer at 08:59 PM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2005

Slam Dunk

Kevin Drum (aka Political Animal) has a way of gathering together much of the best information about a given issue, whether he agrees with the conclusions or not, and it always makes him a top ten read for me on any given day. This time, he takes on the benefits of universal health care, at least the non-economic benefits:

  • It's, um, universal. Everyone is covered, not just the lucky duckies with good jobs (or spouses with good jobs).

  • It levels the playing field for corporations. Corporations that offer decent healthcare to their employees are currently at a disadvantage compared to both domestic competitors who don't cover their workers as well as to overseas competitors whose workers rely on national healthcare systems.

  • Universal healthcare allows you to choose a doctor and stay with her. You aren't forced to switch doctors whenever you get a new job or your company's HR department decides to change health plans. As Phil Longman points out, guaranteed long-term relationships can have a significant impact on long-term health outcomes.

  • It covers people who are high-risk or who have pre-existing conditions. Employer health plans often don't for certain periods of time.

  • It provides continuing healthcare coverage for workers who temporarily lose their jobs.

  • If the experience of European systems is any guide, both overall health outcomes and satisfaction with health coverage is considerably higher under universal systems than under the U.S. system. Despite spending far less per person than in the U.S., quality of care is high and, contrary to Heritage Foundation legend, waiting times in the well-run systems are generally short.

  • In the U.S., Medicare recipients are far more satisfied with their health coverage than those with normal employer-based health plans. Stunningly, even the poor, who largely rely on Medicaid and emergency rooms, are more satisfied than those with employer plans.

It leaves one to wonder why, if it is such a slam-dunk case, we haven't gotten it done. Oh wait, that's right. Republicans control the Congress. My bad.

Posted by Observer at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

You Want a Revolution?

Kos talks about How Things Are Changing, and I pray that he's right:

Once upon a time, the media landscape was dominated by 1) the corporate media, more concerned with Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson than with notions of truth, and 2) the Right Wing Noise Machine. And the wingers were so successful in "working the refs" in the corporate media, that conservative voices dominated opinion shows like the Sunday morning talk shows.

The Right Wing Noise Machine, consisting of the entire AM radio spectrum, Fox News Channel, the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, the partisan weeklies, Matt Drudge, etc., worked in concert with each other to push stories into the "mainstream" critical of Demcorats and Democratic policies.

It was truly a thing of beauty. Efficient, effective, ruthless. Everything Democrats and their non-existent machine were not.

In that environment, any Democrat who stuck her/his neck out was sure to get slapped down hard. That Dem would face a barrage of criticism that would climb up the media ladder, across the media landscape, with no support from the progressive community. We didn't have the vehicles to fight back.

So why would a Democrat take a courageous stand? It only led to lots of pain and no reward. Eventually, Democrats got comfortable with that setup. Their lives consisted of avoiding anything that would stir the Right Wing media borg into action.

But then blogging hit the scene. And as our audience grew, and a demand for partisan liberal media was proven, interest in building a left-wing media machine heightened. Air America and Democracy Radio came on the scene, and started growing rapidly despite long-held assertions that liberals couldn't be successful on AM radio.

Now money is flowing into a VC fund that's looking to create an alternative to Fox News on the cable dial, while also building out other elements of a progressive media machine. The idea isn't to recreate what the Right did, but build a better machine tailored for the 21st century.

And suddenly, Democrats aren't sure what to do. Some, like Harry Reid, have recognized that we're now able to provide cover to courageous Democrats. So he takes strong stances, and we help beat back wingnut efforts to smear and tar him. They try to shut Durbin down, and we provide cover fire so he can continue speaking the truth.

But in the same vein, we can now hold Democrats accountable as well. In that old world, Democrats could sell out to the highest bidder, and there was no way to hold them accountable. Now, we can. And many of them don't like it.

Remember this?

John Podesta, president of the progressive Center for American Progress (CAP), faced pointed questions from lawmakers at last Thursday's New Democrat Coalition (NDC) meeting about an inflammatory e-mail his organization sent to liberal activists and bloggers.

In a March 9 e-mail, David Sirota, a fellow at CAP, accused 16 pro-business Democrats of supporting bankruptcy-reform legislation because they received political contributions from the commercial banks and credit-card companies that stand to benefit if the legislation becomes law.

The e-mail coursed through the blogosphere and generated angry phone calls from liberal activists to the offices of the 16 centrist Democrats. Sirota, a former minority spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, criticized 16 of the 20 Democrats who wrote Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) March 7 urging him to bring bankruptcy reform to the House floor.

Things have changed, and they'll keep improving for the better. We're increasingly able to provide cover for courageous Democrats when barraged by the Right Wing Noise Machine, while punishing those who act against the people's interests.

Many Democrats -- especially those that act hurt when faced with a barrage from our side -- don't realize that the rules are changing. We reward the courageous, and punish those too comfortable in the minority.

And as our media machine grows, we'll soon be able to take the fight to the enemy. And then things will change some more.

I'd like to think that one consequence of this new infusion of backbone into the loyal opposition is that we'll actually be able to have a serious discussion about Iraq. On the one hand, I think we have a moral obligation to "fix it" now that we've broken it. On the other hand, I don't think we can fix it. Certainly not with troops.

Why can't we pull our troops out and pour massive infusions of aid and material into the country for use by Iraqis (not American contractors), with the money conditioned on the Iraqi government meeting various conditions. We had arms inspectors. Can't we have "Democracy inspectors" to ensure that certain milestones are reached, and let the Iraqis reach them on their own?

Is it worth a try? If it all goes to hell, ok, we put the troops back in. How can pulling them out and putting them back in result in a mess that's any worse than what we have now? Plus it gives our guys a chance to recover.

Posted by Observer at 06:57 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2005

Through the Committee Hoop

Work-sensitive enough that I decided to delete it. Sorry.

Posted by Observer at 06:41 AM | Comments (9)

June 15, 2005

Another Shocker

Sometimes, making fun of the nutballs is just too easy. Back before Terry Schiavo died, Bill First made a fool of himself by diagnosing her condition based on viewing a few videotapes. Remember this?

Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”

“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”

Well, good news, everyone. The autopsy that the right wing was clamoring for, to prove that we pro-death liberals were ghouls all hot to murder someone, is finished and the results are in:

Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin concluded that…her brain was about half of normal size when she died. …

Thogmartin says her brain was “profoundly atrophied” – and that the damage was “irreversable.” He also says, “The vision centers of her brain were dead ” – meaning she was blind.

I'm sure the apologies from the religious nutballs will be forthcoming to Terri's husband and the rest of us who inhabit this silly reality-based world. At least if we're living in a world in which these fuckwits have a shred of integrity.

Posted by Observer at 12:49 PM | Comments (4)

June 14, 2005

Harry Potter the Democrat

Paul Waldman has more on how the media is treating Howard Dean. He makes an instructive comparison with Dean vs Republican spokescreature Ken Mehlman:

Let’s let David Broder, the walking embodiment of the conventional wisdom, do the honors. On Sunday’s Meet the Press [Read Digby for more on this show], Broder scolded Dean: “By focusing so much on himself, Howard Dean as a spokesman for the Democratic Party has really done a disservice to the party.” He later returned to the point: “By focusing so much on his own comments rather than looking for a way to give the party a policy voice, he’s really done them a disservice.”
 
Which is sort of like me punching you in the nose, then saying, “What you need to do is stop focusing so much on your nose.”
 
And so it goes for Howard Dean. When Wolf Blitzer interviewed Dean recently, he asked five questions critical of comments Dean had made, then posited that the Democrats have been “spectacularly unsuccessful in recent elections…doing very, very badly,” then to close the interview asked four more questions about statements Dean had made. Frustrated with Dean’s attempts to discuss—get this—policy issues, Blitzer at one point said, “One other quote you made that's been—you've been asked about this—you don't have to respond, but I'll just read it.” That’s what passes for journalism on cable news these days.
 
This isn’t to say that Dean bears no responsibility for what get characterized as his “missteps.” But the fact that his every utterance is now studied with Talmudic attention for anything that can be deemed impolite or impolitic highlights Dean's nearly intractable problem with the press.
 
The Washington journalistic establishment just doesn’t like Howard Dean. He’s rough around the edges, and he doesn’t play by the rules, especially the rule casting Democrats as perennially weak and apologetic . And reporters didn’t have to look too hard to find Democrats who would go on record about their displeasure with Dean.
 
Democratic politicians sometimes seem so ignorant about how the news media work, one wonders how they ever got elected in the first place. Here’s a tip: If you want reporters to write about all the things the Bush administration is doing wrong, don’t criticize your party chair to them. Lots of Washington Democrats don’t like Dean much either, but there are plenty of people to whom they can air their complaints—their staffs, their colleagues, their spouses, their dogs. Heck, they can walk over to DNC headquarters and wring his neck if they like. But when they criticize him to reporters, that enables those reporters to write one of their favorite stories, “Democrats are squabbling again.” If the politicians didn’t give those quotes, they wouldn’t be able to write those stories. Then they’d have to focus on something more advantageous to Democrats, like Bush’s failure on Iraq, or his failure on Social Security or his failure on the economy.
 
Think back to the 2002 congressional campaign. Republican Congressman Tom Davis accused Senator Tom Daschle of “giving aid and comfort to our enemies”—that’s the definition of treason—when Daschle pointed out that Osama bin Laden was still at large. Because Democrats preferred a version of the bill establishing the Homeland Security department that didn’t attack labor unions, President Bush said they were “not interested in the security of the American people.” Did any Republicans distance themselves from these remarks or offer sniveling apologies? Of course not. As a result of episodes like these, reporters have come to expect and accept a greater level of viciousness from Republicans than they do from Democrats. When a Democrat begins to get tough, you can be sure other Democrats will head for the cameras to assure everyone that he doesn’t speak for them.
 
Listen to how pundits are offering scolding tutorials to Dean on what he and the Democrats should do, and you’d think that they believed they picked the wrong career. Just as every actor really wants to direct, every pundit really wants to be a political consultant. Just as they instructed John Kerry that, in Andrea Mitchell’s words, “He’s got to talk in sound bites,” now they are telling Dean to keep his mouth shut.
 
One person who will never receive that instruction is RNC chair Ken Mehlman, whose robotic message discipline ensures that a controversial word will never pass his lips. You might think that a character like Mehlman, who in public offers the basest form of political rhetoric imaginable—an endless string of simplistic talking points and Bizarro World paeans to our smashing success in Iraq, the booming economy and public excitement about Bush’s Social Security plan—would receive withering contempt from the Fourth Estate. But you’d be wrong.
 
No, Mehlman is praised to the heavens precisely because of the unceasing tornado of spin he spits out. There are few things reporters respect more than a politician or operative who stays fanatically on message. Repeat the same talking points over and over, and the press will dutifully pass on what you say without making any judgments about what kind of person you are.
 
Everyone now agrees that Howard Dean needs to be careful about what he says. But there may be no way for him to win. Consider the last of Dean’s recent “controversial” comments, his statement that the GOP is “pretty much a white Christian party.” In other shocking news, the sky is blue and the sun rises in the east. According to the 2004 exit polls, 87 percent of Bush voters were white and 89 percent were Christian (by comparison, Kerry voters were 66 percent white and 71percent Christian).
 
If as mundane an observation as that can be twisted into the question, “Does Howard Dean hate white Christians?” (as Fox News did), no amount of care on Dean’s part will stop Republicans and the press from turning what he says into a “controversy.” Because he came to the job as a public personality in a way his predecessors were not, Dean is subject to a standard no other party chair has ever had to labor under (when then-RNC chair Rich Bond said in 1992, “We are America. Those other people are not America,” no one much cared). As CNN’s Candy Crowley said about the recent Dean flap, “This is one of those stories we will not let go easily.”
 
You bet they won’t. So Democrats might consider taking a page from the Republican playbook. Think of the dozens of direct, provable lies the administration told about Iraq during the run-up to the war. How many of them actually generated critical coverage? Just one: Bush’s State of the Union claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa. Why? Because the administration admitted its error. When that blood was in the water, reporters felt they had permission to become more openly critical and describe the claim as false. The lesson is that the press rewards you for sticking to your guns. In private, reporters may have issues with many of the Bush administration’s policies, but they have only the greatest respect for the Bushies’ persistence and ruthlessness.
 
When Howard Dean throws a punch at the GOP, Republicans tend to act like wounded children, crying “Mom! He’s making fun of me!” to the press. Democrats, never missing an opportunity to look simultaneously weak and opportunistic, respond with backtracking and apologies. And so far, this strategy has not exactly been what even political consultants would call effective.

It's funny how this parallels with the bickering book I read recently. The media is acting like the dumb parent. The Republicans are the tattling sibling, always trying to find some way to get the stupid brother who they hate because he's stupid Democrats into trouble. So the media listens with a sympathetic ear, and some idiotic part of the Democrat personality keeps 'fessing up, saying I'm sorry, this whole situation was my fault. I should be nicer.

And the stupid parent, now knowing for certain who bears responsibility, feels great about scolding the Democrats. And so the Democrat, downcast, listens to another lecture while the Republican brat looks over the shoulder of the parent, approvingly, pointing and laughing. Think of the Democrats as Harry Potter, the Republicans as Dudley Dursley, and the media is Mr. and Mrs. Dursley who think their little Dudum's can do no wrong, and it would be such a wonderful, peaceful perfect world if it weren't for that damn Potter boy always causing trouble.

Everyone on the outside wants to be friends with Dudley. He's the one with all the goodies while Harry always is wearing rags and looking beaten down. Dudley's the one getting all the praise from his parents while Harry is always criticized. Pundits like Pumpkinhead Russert are the mean aunt coming over for supper, scolding Harry at every opportunity for being such a ne'er-do-well.

Posted by Observer at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Fightin' Words

So lots of people are getting on Howard Dean lately for speaking his mind. Dean is the former governor of Vermont who was a presidential candidate until the media started ridiculing him and characterizing him as having some kind of anger management problem. This guy ran Vermont for eight years for crying out loud. He's not some Jesse Ventura wannabee. He's a serious, intelligent political mind, and pretty much everything I know about him makes me think he would be a great leader.

Anyway, he excites the masses, and on the strength of that and his fundraising ability, he was elected to be the chair of the Democratic party. A lot of insiders (the guys who led Gore and Kerry to two lost elections against one of the most unqualified major presidential candidates in history) weren't happy about that, and they are continuing to criticize Dean. For example, Dean made a comment last week in response to Republican criticism that a lot of those Republicans have never worked an honest day in their lives.

Naturally, the Republicans went into their natural mode: Mortally Offended. These guys are pros at acting like a victim when they hold all the cards, including the media, in the palm of their hand. Oh gosh, they said, how dare Dean pretend we don't work for a living! Why, lots of Republicans hold good jobs, start businesses to create jobs, etc.

How should Democrats respond? Don't explain. As soon as you explain, you lose. No. Instead, respond by surveying the leadership of the Republican party and asking what non-political jobs (which includes lobbying) they have held, how much they made, etc. Let's get that out on the table.

But instead, Democrats from all over the place scrambled to distance themselves from Dean. Well, he doesn't speak for us, we wouldn't be so offensive. Like that matters. All that does is make Democrats look like pussies. Like people who have convictions but are too afraid to stand up for them. If there's any positive quality about Bush, it's that he isn't afraid to stick to his guns even as he drives the American bus over the cliff. People (stupidly) respect that and see that as a sign of leadership. You have to stand up for what you believe in, confidently.

I don't think a day has gone by during which my local paper hasn't repeated Dean's comment as part of the continuing narrative about how crazy and out of control this Howard Dean guy is. Just yesterday, he dismissed Fox news as a mere propaganda outlet of the Republican party, and I'm sure today all kinds of Democrats will be running from that statement.

You know what? Don't run away. Because the media is going to keep repeating it and Republicans will keep playing the victim card to milk everything they can out of the media on this. No. Instead, when someone asks some Democratic senator what they think of Dean, the senator should say, "Well, he may not be very diplomatic, but I think he's got a good point. Show me a news network that is the equivalent for Democrats, that doesn't bow down to Bush or participate in scripted press conferences. Show me a network that is pursuing the Downing Street Memo, that is reporting on the new version of the Patriot Act. Show me a network that has a balanced panel of liberals and conservatives. Not two conservatives, a host and some neutral journalist which just enforces the liberal media myth."

If the papers want to report on Howard Dean, great. Let's shine the spotlight on him and have some of these discussions. Just how out of touch is the Republican leadership and the class of people sleeping over at the White House compared with your average middle class American? Exactly what are the networks reporting on? Exactly whom did most newspapers endorse for president? Let's talk some more about the famous Fox News memo that has the day's talking points and compare that to Republican talking points.

For more, better-written complaints about the behavior of Democrats and the media, I invite you to read Athenae at First Draft and Digby.

Democrats need to stop apologizing and start standing up for themselves. When there are bullies around, you need to stand up to them to stop them. Cowering and running just makes the bullies point and laugh and continue their behavior. And all the people around naturally tend to side with the bullies because they don't want to be laughed at. You need to face down the bully. The Moron Americans will notice. We hope.

Posted by Observer at 11:43 AM | Comments (15)

June 12, 2005

Trade Fever

Glad the Rangers stopped their five-game losing skid today. They haven't been playing bad, just not getting the breaks. I still think the Angels will fall back to .500 or even below at some point. Numbers-wise, they just aren't that good, and that has to catch up to them. The Rangers, on the other hand, belong at about 10 or so games over .500. They got there briefly, and now they're back to six over, but they'll get back. I think the only way we'll get separation from the Angels is for the Angels to start playing like the sucky team they are (which they have started to do in the past two weeks, going about 5-7, I think).

I was surprised the Rangers gave up so completely on Drese. It's going to look really bad on them if Drese gets it together with the Nationals, especially given how thin the Rangers have been historically on starting pitchers. I thought for sure Drese would work things out here and return to a halfway decent form, but when I was shown his numbers from the past 20 or so starts, it looks like his "norm" is crappy (compared to past seasons, not the most recent). I just hope some other starters come on. Kenny Rogers is bound to fade in the 2nd half like he always does, so I'm hoping we can hold on at about 10 games over .500 until the All-Star Break, then coast to the end playing .500 ball. That should be good enough to get into the playoff crapshoot.

I spent about two hours today with Cody trading Pokemon. He's done about all he can on his Emerald game. Meanwhile, I had really collected a whole bunch of rare ones on my LeafGreen game last year. So I offered to trade with Cody so we could fill some mutual holes. 70 trades later, we both have a much more complete Pokedex, and Cody will be happy for the next two weeks developing all of his new Pokemon, breeding new ones, etc. Such are the highlights of summer in this heat. We'll do anything as long as it keeps us entertained inside in the air conditioning.

Posted by Observer at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

Bickering Resolved

On a recent trip to the bookstore, I had a whole bunch of bookstore gift certificates to burn, but I couldn't decide what to buy. It's really hard to splurge on current affairs books when I can find them all in the library. It's also really hard to buy fiction books (except from certain authors I collect religiously like Brust or Donaldson) just because I have a shelf absolutely packed with unread fiction, probably upwards of 100 books. I'm really a compulsive book buyer, and I'm trying to stop.

So anyway, after going all over the bookstore, I finally settled on the parenting and child care section and immediately spent about 50 bucks, no problem at all. Of the books I bought, I think my favorite author is Anthony Wolf, and the first book of his that I read is called "Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me!" (The Solution to Sibling Bickering). Sibling bickering is a pretty big problem around the house, so I was hoping to read something enlightening.

I did. What a great book. I recognized a few of the things we're doing right, and I also recognized about a zillion things that we (mostly I) are doing wrong. Basically, Wolf's rule is that you ignore it unless it annoys you, and if it does, you separate the siblings. You don't worry about fairness (except in the long run). You just act quickly, decisively and consistently. A corollary of this is that you ignore all tattles unless serious harm is involved (like a potential trip to the hospital sort of harm).

Tattles are considered inadmissable evidence (hearsay) in the Supreme Court of the Parent, and so basically, if a kid comes in and says another kid hit them, your response is to sympathize but no more. "Do you need a hug?" has become popular around the house, and the kids quickly picked up a good retort, "You're just saying that because it's in that stupid book!" When we started this, unfortunately for Sarah, it was just before Justin smacked her good on the arm out in the yard. She came in immediately to tattle, and she couldn't BEEEE LEEEEEVE Justin wasn't going to get into trouble.

She called us every name in the book, and we just ignored it. It wasn't that difficult. One of the great things about this book is that it explains the logic behind the tattle and the logic behind the proper response. That makes the proper response a LOT easier (for me, anyway). Did someone spill something in the kitchen? Don't bother trying to get to the bottom of who did it. Unless they confess immediately, you will only create more problems than you solve by starting an inquisition (my usual mistake). Just make them all clean it up and explain that you're disappointed that it happened. The result is that the guilty party will feel guilty about it and the mess will get cleaned up, and what more can you hope for?

Maybe the others are mad at having to clean up a mess they didn't create, but it all works out fairly in the long run. Eventually, the kids come to accept that as long as you make an effort to be fair in the long run (that's the biggest adjustment to our kids who love to get hypercritical and offended if we aren't being "fair" at the tiniest little level). Wolf is big on distinguishing between "baby self" and "mature self", and he successfully explains a lot of the kids behavior, in my opinion, with a fairly simple philosophy. He deals with a lot of other common problems using the same themes, so we're giving his philosophy a try. It's very exciting for us, and I think the kids will soon realize that it's pretty cool for them, too, but there will be an adjustment period because they have to (Yoda)unlearn what they have learned(/Yoda).

Posted by Observer at 07:08 PM | Comments (7)

June 10, 2005

X-Files++

I'm glad to see that "The 4400" has returned. Michelle and I both realized simultaneously tonight (rather creepy, actually) that the rich real estate guy running the 4400 center is the same guy we both liked who was one of the leads in "Once and Again". Anyway, it looks like they're picking up where they left off, quality-wise. This reminds me of really good X-Files episodes. The big difference here is that, unlike the X-Files, parts of the overall purpose are already being revealed. Everything hangs together, plus we get to follow a lot more characters than just the investigators.

Posted by Observer at 10:16 PM | Comments (2)

June 09, 2005

Summer Days

If you're looking for a really good political link here, go read what Art Silber has to say not only about the abuses going on at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib but in our own prison system here at home for Americans. Stuff like this makes reading blogs today (and many days) really tough.

Sometimes the sheer crappiness of everything just overwhelms me, and the worst part is all the morons out there who cheerfully deny anything is wrong in Iraq, who think everything Democrats claim is complete crap, etc. They jeer and taunt about some new right-wing nutball judge, and all you can do is shake your head in pity at their appallingly shallow ignorance and then shout some more into the wind in the hopes of someday being heard. How can people who religiously quote the old "those who sacrifice a little liberty for a little security deserve neither" when a gun issue comes up ... how can these same people be on board with a Republican party about to expand and renew Patriot Act legislation (in secret, of course)? I mean, holy fuck.

Oh well...

It's been busy around the house lately. Poor M*chelle has been going to Dallas back and forth for work training this week, so the kids are bouncing off the walls looking for me to entertain them. They're mostly good, but sometimes C*dy gets a good Bart Simpson (not in a good way, I mean a good impersonation) going and drives us all up the wall in frustration. The bright side of having only one class so far this summer is that my day is very short and very easy, so I've had lots of time to spend with the kids.

We've been trying out the new poker chips. I try to force the kids to always keep their chips in stacks of 10 for easy counting and betting, but sometimes it still takes forever for them to bet. Look, if you bet a nickel and some guys raises it to a dollar, fer chrissakes just put a dollar chip out there yourself and take back a damned nickel. Don't try to count out ninety-five cents in various chip colors.

Daniel is getting closer to his big 2nd birthday, and he's growing an enormous vocabulary. He just babbles and babbles all day long. Unfortunately, we can hardly understand a word. He is clearly making word-like sounds, different words for different things. He just doesn't have the whole pronunciation thing down yet. He says J*stin, C*dy, Daddy, juice, fishes (for goldfish or the fish on his wall, which probably confuses the hell out of him), cookie, night-night, etc. He's definitely got some 2-5 word sentences going, too.

He loves craft time with the watercolors or the play-doh set. My mom was here today to help watch the kids while I went to run a workshop (ch-ching!) about an hour away. The kids just love her to death, and the feeling is mutual. I know they had a great time. Last summer, Mom offered to take the kids on little overnight trips, and I hope she offers it again. It was the highlight of their summer.

My dad is coming down tomorrow to help out for a few hours while I'm at work and M*chelle is in Dallas. Dad is more distant from all the kids, but that's just his personality. He's a loving guy, but he sometimes has a hard time showing it. I imagine the kids will rope him into a poker game or something.

I'm taking the kids to the library twice a week just to keep them fresh on movies and/or books. Justin has been plowing through all the Star Wars books on my shelf in chronological order. He is now working through the Thrawn trilogy by Zahn, which is the best of the bunch in my opinion. C*dy's trying to complete his Pokedex on Pokemon Emerald when he's not bugging for something. Either that or C*dy and J*stin are out in the backyard having water wars. S*rah just hides in her room and plays or watches movies most of the time, but boy is she religious about meal times. Hungry girl, look out!

We're trying to decide whether to put Cody and Sarah into a camp for a week or two this summer. We really want them to have the experience, but it's like a thousand bucks for the two of them for around 7-10 days, if memory serves. It's very tough to part with that money when we could do so many other things with it.

Posted by Observer at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

Muddy Waters

This article really just says it all about how this administration views science.

A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In most cases, the changes appeared in the final reports. [...]

Before going to the White House in 2001, he [Cooney] was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

There's a shocker. He has no scientific training and yet he has the power to edit climate reports issued by professionals. And it's really very cynical. See, you can almost always successfully argue for inserting uncertainty into any report about something so complex as the global climate. This guy Cooney certainly wasn't qualified to do it, but I'm sure the Bushies will be able to trot out some Fred Singer type who really doesn't give a crap as long as he gets paid and gets to poke a stick in the eye of other scientists who routinely make a fool of him. And this Singer clone will then defend with important-sounding technical words why we can insert uncertainty into the report, even though all of his arguments have already been addressed in the report.

And the goal is very simple: muddy the waters. The Moron American who doesn't pay attention figures that if two experts are arguing over something, then it hasn't been figured out yet, so it's best just to not pay attention. And while they aren't paying attention, Bush's pals get rich and too bad for the rest of us saps who get to enjoy the fucked-over climate for the next million years.

Posted by Observer at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

Framing History

Just a couple of really good links today. First from Atrios is this great article about how David Rosen was dropped like a hot potato after he was acquitted. You may not have heard of this guy, but he was a campaign flunkie associated with the Clintons years ago. Someone tried to prosecute him for some shady financial dealings associated with one of their fundraisers. For all I know, I suspect he's probably guilty.

But what got the nutballs into a lather was the possibility of getting Hillary caught in Rosen's penumbra of guilt. They figure she must have known about the screwy finances and so she would be brought down with Rosen. The fuckwits wrote letters to the paper demanding front page coverage of this enormous scandal, which was absolutely equivalent to all the stuff DeLay has been busted for in their eyes (uh, sorry, not a chance, DeLay has taken personal charge of all his corrupt shit, and it goes way beyond the norm). Forget about front-page coverage for all of our dead and wounded soldiers in Iraq. Let's Get Hillary!

When the prosecutor in the Rosen case explicitly said on the first day of the trial that Hillary had nothing to do with this and that he wasn't going to bother exploring that angle, you would've thought that would slow down the "Kill Hillary" parade that was going on. Nope. It only picked up steam because now the actual trial had begun! But then, oops, turns out Rosen was acquitted. Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect takes it from there:

Though the event took place more than a week ago, it’s worth taking a moment to remark upon the May 27 acquittal of David Rosen, the fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign who’d been charged in a New Orleans federal court with hiding about $800,000 worth of costs for a gala Los Angeles event thrown for the then-first lady during her campaign.

Why is it worth remarking upon? For two reasons. First, in the weeks leading up to the jury’s decision, one could hear the galloping accelerando of wing-nut anticipation; FOX, for example, did more than a dozen segments devoted mostly or partly to Rosen’s fate in the three months leading up to the acquittal.

Walking point on this matter, of course, was Dick Morris. He wrote in his New York Post column nine days before the acquittal that the case against Rosen was “getting stronger, increasing the odds the aide will start cooperating with the government”; about a week earlier, he had appeared on a Hannity & Colmes segment -- titled “Are Hillary’s Presidential Chances Over?” -- outright accusing Clinton of having known about the underreporting of the event’s costs. I’d love to see the memos that were going around FOX during the trial planning the on-air party in the event of conviction.

But ho! The party was canceled, and, thus, the second reason for pointing out Rosen’s acquittal: It’s not exactly as if everyone has. FOX, after all the buildup, has mentioned Rosen’s acquittal just twice, and both times as quickly and grudgingly as if being forced to report that global warming really did exist. MSNBC, which discussed Rosen five times in the months leading up to the acquittal, has not mentioned him since. (Most of those five were on Chris Matthews’ Hardball ; gosh, do you think Matthews would have been silent on the matter if the jury had found the other way?) In addition, the viewers of NBC News and the listeners of National Public Radio, if each group relied only on that source for its view of world, would not know of Rosen’s acquittal, according to databases. And Matt Drudge, according to his archives, did not mention the acquittal.

Now watch over the course of the next week or two, as Ed Klein, known most recently for sniffing around the tombstone of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, unveils his new Hillary “book.” You’ll be reading a lot about Klein’s “Pulitzer Prize,” which refers to the bauble won by The New York Times Magazine for an article on toxic-shock syndrome that appeared while Klein was indeed its editor. I’d imagine you’ll be hearing far less about the plagiarism episode that took place under his tenure, when a young reporter named Christopher Jones fabricated scenes from purported travels with Khmer Rouge guerillas, stealing them from Andre Malraux, of all people (Alexander Cockburn -- at the time, he was a widely read press critic for The Village Voice , probably the most popular columnist in New York -- recognized the lifted passage).

Wanna bet that the cable shows will be a little more enthusiastic about Klein’s news than they were about Rosen’s?

But enough on that. My subject is not Hillary. My subject is history. The Klein book, like Morris’ recent Rewriting History , is produced in the first instance to damage Hillary Clinton in the short term. (Well, actually, point No. 1 is to make money; hurting Clinton is a close second.) But there is another reason these anti-Clinton tomes still appear with regularity, and liberals who criticize the Clintons from the left need to recognize it: The right knows that if its historical interpretation of Clintonism can prevail, liberalism as a project can be killed for decades. That is, if they can convince America over the next few crucial years (crucial because historical interpretations of Clintonism are just really beginning) that the Clinton era was not one of prosperity, peace, and a demonstration that government can deliver common goods but was, instead, one of corruption, turpitude, and a fat and happy people discarding moral values for the sake of higher mutual-fund values, they will have won an extremely important argument with serious long-term ramifications.

Tomasky goes on to talk about Mark Felt, the now-public "Deep Throat" informant from the Watergate scandal, and how he's being spun. Just when you think the ConservaBorg can't get any more galling...

The past week should remind us just how seriously those on the right takes their historical interpretation -- and the outlandish things they’ll say to get their point across. The Wall Street Journal ’s editorial on the legacy of Mark Felt was a jaw-dropper. What sort of audacity did it take for the Journal , of all organs, to write, “In their zeal to be the next Woodstein, many in the press have developed a ‘gotcha’ model of reporting that always assumes the worst about public officials”?

The Journal ?!? I guess it’s not counting Vince Foster as a public official. What shameless, debauched people.

Also came Peggy Noonan on the same subject, directing our attention toward the same Cambodia that once figured into Ed Klein’s ignominy: “What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. ... Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.”

La Margaret was trying to imply here that Felt, by ratting out Richard Nixon and assisting in his downfall, is partly responsible for “a cascade of catastrophic events,” including the rise of Pol Pot. Actually, she didn’t imply it. She said it.

Um, for the record. Nixon, that serious president, quite seriously and secretly bombed Cambodia in direct contravention of international law and the rules of war. This created a massive refugee crisis (in addition to creating a bunch of innocent, dead Cambodians).

The crisis was too much for the government of Lon Nol, a repressive and corrupt potentate whose repression and corruption were very much backed by Nixon and Gerald Ford. The heavy U.S. bombardment of the country, and Lon Nol’s collaboration with the United States, sent recruits running into Pol Pot’s arms; his forces had grown to number 700,000 men (10 percent of the entire population) by the time of his takeover in 1975. Neither Mark Felt nor Bob Woodward nor Carl Bernstein nor John Sirica had a thing to do with it.

Noonan presumably knows all about this, because the White House for which she scribbled, Ronald Reagan’s, backed the Khmer Rouge in the early 1980s, after the regime had completed its murderous rampage and the facts were well-known. This support -- which included voting to seat a Khmer Rouge official as Cambodia’s representative at the United Nations -- continued until 1985, when the administration finally changed course. The change came after a House foreign-affairs subcommittee -- in Democratic hands at the time, remember -- pushed for the change and voted to send aid to anti-Khmer Rouge forces.

That is the factual history. Thank goodness they haven’t yet managed to rewrite Watergate except in the pages of their own sheets. But they’re rewriting the 1990s, and they’re working overtime to ensure that they will control how the history of the current administration is written. Young people who don’t care about Mark Felt should at least be moved, one hopes, to care that history remains history and is not subverted into propaganda. The future depends on it.

Can you believe these fuckers? I don't know which alternative is worse! Do they honestly believe that Vietnam would've been won and the Khmer Rouge a failed regime if only Nixon had been allowed to fully flower for his second term? Does anyone really believe that is a possibility? Seriously, I wish I knew. And if not, what kind of evil shit do you have to be made of to blame the whistleblower for everything when you know it isn't fair?

For more on Felt, Josh Marshall points me to this fine summary of how Deep Throat was treated in pundit-land.

Richard Nixon's ex-convicts - who did jail time for their crimes against democracy and then profited from their crimes by writing books and becoming celebrities - had returned to work one more con. Nixon's former senior White House assistant, Charles Colson, and the Nixon team's burglar-in-chief, G. Gordon Liddy, worked the cable news circuit, expressing moral indignation that the FBI's former deputy director, W. Mark Felt, was Deep Throat.

He was the source who had blown their cover by feeding facts to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward - truths that helped land many in jail and drove Nixon from office.

"I was shocked because I worked with him closely," Colson said on MSNBC. "And you would think the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you could talk to with the same confidence you could talk to a priest." Then on CNN: "I was shocked, because ... I talked to him often and trusted him with very sensitive materials. So did the president. To think that he was out going around in back alleys at night looking for flowerpots, passing information to someone, it's . . . not the image of the professional FBI that you would expect."

Ah, image. Conjure Colson, with Nixon and others in the Oval Office, as Nixon orders a burglary at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Meanwhile on CNN, Liddy tells Paula Zahn: "I view him [Felt] as someone who violated the ethics of the law enforcement profession." Then, back on MSNBC, Liddy brags that not only had he plotted the burglary of the Democratic Party's Watergate offices but, "I planned the Brookings break-in." It wasn't done, Liddy said - "too expensive."

When the face of Nixon's speechwriter Pat Buchanan appeared on our looking-glass/screens, some viewers might have expected a refreshing, ruminative literary perspective about Felt and the Watergate era. Then Buchanan spoke: "I think he's a snake."

"Here is an individual," Buchanan explained, "sneaking around at night leaking things to damage the president of the United States in the middle of a campaign. And I don't see what is heroic about ... that."

The sound you hear is the sound of one journalistic mind boggling because this was never about heroics, just a helping hand. Those of us who were journalists investigating Watergate - and there were many, from a score of news organizations in addition to The Washington Post - understand the importance of having the FBI's No. 2 man on call and willing to confirm things we'd heard yet couldn't quite prove.

Lost in the wailings of Nixon's men is the one thing Americans need to know to understand Felt's dilemma. Felt couldn't go to his boss. J.Edgar Hoover had just died and Nixon had replaced him with an unqualified Nixon loyalist - L.Patrick Gray III, who proved his worth by destroying documents and slipping others to officials running the White House cover-up. Felt couldn't go to the attorney general; John Mitchell was attorney general when he presided over the Watergate break-in planning and, after leaving to run Nixon's campaign, was replaced by a Nixon loyalist not trusted by many FBI hands. Felt couldn't go to Congress - the Senate Watergate Committee didn't exist yet. Felt certainly couldn't go to Nixon or all the president's henchmen.

So he helped his young reporter friend, Bob Woodward. And, three decades later, these Nixon criminals popped up on our looking-glass/screens, doing their shtick. They wailed like pro wrestlers pounding the mat in feigned pain.

Jon Stewart had a good line about this on his first day back from vacation last week. Basically, he showed clips of various people lambasting Felt, like Liddy and Buchanan, and he said that basically you can't have a better, more positive character reference than to have these guys like this talking about how much they loathe your values and ethics. (Video is here.) How can Liddy, who planned this operation in the Oval Office with Nixon and then carried out the burglary ... how can this fucking idiot with a straight face say that he's unimpressed with the ethics of some FBI guy who ratted him out to the press?

Is there anything a ConservaBorg pundit can say (aside from praising a Clinton) that will get them publicly shamed out of the media business? Anything at all?

Posted by Observer at 07:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Tilting the Playing Field

Spokco's Brain reports on Janeane Garofalo making a good point. This has come up before about male vs female political bloggers. For example, virtually every time there is some kind of major important panel discussion that includes bloggers, those on the left are represented by the likes of Wonkette.

Wonkette's blog is great. Very entertaining. Snarky. Funny. Not something I like enough to read every day or put in my sidebar. So why should people have a problem with her representing lefty bloggers? Well, Wonkette is known more for basically being a "bad girl" blue humorist than she is for her political acumen. When it comes to opinions on the important issues of the day, I turn to the blogs in my sidebar first, and so does most of the blogosphere looking for a fairly representative sample of the liberal point of view.

So why is Wonkette on the panels? Basically, because she's one of the few bloggers who has found enough of a niche and developed enough contacts to get a lot of mentions in the mainstream media. She's a blog celebrity. And that's why she's there. She's a draw, as seen by the people who put together the panels. The problem, though, is that on the conservative side, you don't necessarily have "draws". Instead, you have straight down the line conservatives. I'll let Spocko's Brain continue:

I find the wheeling out of Wonkette annoying. I don't find her interesting or relevant, but what bugs me is that is asked to represent the "liberal' blogger. It is under the same deal like when the TV stations wanted to talk about the buildup to war.

They would have a bunch of retired Generals, think tank PH.d.s and actors! Image if they had a pro-war Actor up against Anti-war Think tankers or just two actors or two think tankers? Or General vs. General? It was a not so subtle way of marginalizing the anti-war movement at the same time getting "ratings".

Before I gave up on TV altogether, I used to watch debates in various formats, and a disturbing trend I noticed was that shows would put ConservaBorg pundits up against liberal celebrities. Man, this is red meat for the right wing nutballs. They get the trifecta of hate: First, they get to hate a Hollywood celebrity who thinks they're better/smarter than them. Second, they get to hate a liberal. Third, they get to watch a liberal just get totally creamed in a debate by a conservative who does this sort of thing for a living (instead of as a hobby, like the actor usually does).

Garofalo herself used to be a victim of this. Prior to the Iraq War, she was one of the most recognizable faces of the anti-war movement. That's because most politicians were afraid to come out against the war (still are). So networks were looking to book someone for a debate who had some name recognition but would still be comfortably classified as kooky Hollywood liberal. The problem is, she did it enough that she got good at it, and then something funny happened: they stopped asking her on their shows. They would say she was too rude or whatever, but basically, she didn't let the host or her opponent make a fool out of her, and the wingnuts who watch all the shows started getting pissy and changing the channel (or at least writing letters ... they love to write mad letters, just like me).

Next time you see a genuine debate about the war, take a look at who is cast in the anti-war position. What are their credentials? How are they portrayed and introduced? And who is on the other side? How are both sides treated? Or if you want to hang on to your belief that the media is liberal, don't bother.

Posted by Observer at 07:08 AM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2005

Where Are the Refs?

Armando over at Daily Kos, makes a great point about the media in response to "liberal" columnist Matt Miller. Like most "respectable" liberal columnists, Miller makes a point to periodically bash all liberals for being unreasonable and/or wrong, and after a while, it gets pretty fucking old. Armando sets Miller straight:

Matt Miller , who is subbing for Maureen Dowd, writes an interesting column on political discourse and the ability to persuade with an argument. Unfortunately, Matt fails to address the central reason why political discourse has floundered, the complete lack of respect for the truth exhibited by the referees - the Media. Matt writes:

Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling "talking points." Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let's face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash.

By contrast, marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what's right in the other side's argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.

With due respect to Miller, a smart guy, politicians and partisans have never respected facts UNLESS they are required to do so. That is what a free press is supposed to do and simply does not anymore. Miller considers it a problem of a Media focused more on heat than light. I believe the problem goes much deeper than that. The utter disrespect for the truth exhibited by all media is the heart of the problem. Liars are not called liars. Falsehoods are not called falsehoods. What passes for reporting these days is "Republicans say _. Democrats say _ __." When someone spews falsehoods, there is not a Media outlet in the country that will say 'that is false.' Not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not any of them.

For crissakes, the former hack who had the title of Ombudsman for the Times claimed to stand up for truth by issuing slanderous falsehoods. Who is outraged? The Lefty blogs. Anybody else? Jay Rosen? Anyone?

Armando is referring here to the famous (among political bloggers) show that NY Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent took at Paul Krugman in Okrent's parting column. Basically, Okrent called Krugman a liar, and Krugman's only chance to even ask about the details of the accusation, let alone try to rebut, was in a little-read forum online. More details and a transcript here.

I got bad news for Miller. The "beardstrokers," with few exceptions (Herbert, Krugman) have not demanded the truth. Miller has written on social security and instead of demanding truth from the Bush Administration he chose to chastise Democrats for not being open to discussion. And you believe you can be persuasive with such an attitude? Not a mention of the pack of lies that Bush has peddled?

It is pretty simple, there will be no meaningful political discourse as long as lies are tolerated and ignored. To lament the loss of political persuasion while ignoring the elephant (pun intended) in the room is to insult the intelligence of your audience. And that is never persuasive.

As a scientist, it doesn't surprise me to see objective truth take a back seat when the right wing is ascendant. After all, these creationist wingnuts have never had a problem with ignoring factual evidence when necessary. They'll quote Amnesty International when they need to, for example, when trying to point out what a horrible guy Saddam is. But then they'll turn right around and with a perfectly straight face talk about how Amnesty International is a traitorous organization filled with lying liberal scumbags who hate America because AI has a problem with the way we're torturing people at Gitmo or Abu Ghraib.

These right wing fuckwits have no earthly idea about the concept of credibility. To them, the only way you get and maintain credibility is to say something they already agree with. When such people are in power, when such people are in a position to control or otherwise cow the media, is it any wonder that inconvenient facts get, at best, deemphasized and at worst (usually) just plain unreported?

The worst part is that when the facts finally collectively grab these goddamned morons by the scruff of their neck and rub their nose in their own shit, they have zero problem blaming the shit on liberals. When we pull out of Iraq someday, I will challenge you to find me a right wing spokesfuck who doesn't lay a large part of the blame at the feet of liberals. And the Morons will believe them! Every fucking word!

Oh, and Avedon Carol over at "The Sideshow" found a funny comment about this that kind of puts the absurdity into perspective:

I just have this image of Mustafa, wild-eyed radical Moslem, sitting in his little bombed-out house, staring at his destroyed crops. Mustafa says to himself, "Well, I'd sure like to get the mofos who did this to me. I'll starve to death this winter. What do I have to live for? Should I become a suicide bomber? Hmmmm, let me go on the internet and see if the liberal blogs show an insufficient amount of support for George Bush. If they do, that's it, I'm strapping on the dynamite."

Posted by Observer at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2005

Our Bad

TBogg predicts the scary future, and I believe him:

Like Viet Nam, we are losing in Iraq. That's a fact. You cannot beat an insurgency that seems to have an unlimited amount of "martyrs" willing to walk into the public square and blow themselves up taking twenty or so citizens with them. The American military is bunkered into the Green Zone behind blast-proof walls and razor wire because; if they walk out into the streets...they're going to die. It's Fort Apache the Bronx. Those who are supposed to be in control of the streets are the Iraqi policemen, but if they are in control, then why do they have to wear masks ? Because, if they don't the insurgents will come to their houses and kill them. Iraq is probably the only country in the world whose entire police force is in the Witness Protection Program.

With every American death, with every request for more billions for Iraq, the American public that initially supported the war starts to edge away from it as if it smells like last weeks garbage. Military recruiters are currently doing everything short of shanghaiing high school kids and they still can't meet their recruitment goals. Soldiers are being kept in Iraq for too long. We are running out of money, soldiers, patience, and more importantly, the will to fight in Iraq.

Which is exactly what happened in Viet Nam.

So when we finally bow down to public opinion and admit defeat (only we won't admit defeat...we'll just call it a tie) and pull out of Iraq, and the power vacuum that ensues results in tribal warfare and more death and destruction, who do you think the rightwing echo chamber is going to blame? Not the neo-cons who sent us on this fools errand. Not the generals who were whistling past the graveyard when they should have been telling Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to fuck off. Not the 101st Fighting Keyboarders who waved their little flags and their well-thumbed copies of Sun Tzu and pointed out that it looked a hell of a lot easier on the Risk board.

No. They're going to blame us because we didn't wear little flag lapel pins and slap yellow ribbon magnetic stickers on our SUV's and we subverted the cause of democracy in the Middle East and that's why 1600 and counting American soldiers are dead, and the blood of every Iraqi killed in the wake of our leaving will be on our hands.

And it's all because we didn't stop them before they killed again.

Shame on us.

Is there any doubt that liberals will be blamed when we finally have to accept the inevitable humiliating end in the Iraq adventure? Just remember who controlled all three branches of the federal government (and most of the states) during this whole time. Oh, wait, I forgot: we have a "liberal" media, which is so all-powerful that they have to ask daddy for permission to say something truthful that might not make us look like the City on the Hill.

Posted by Observer at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2005

Lessons of History

They say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Well, the Republicans have done a good job on their history. They've learned so well from past mistakes that they've made sure it won't happen again. By "it", I mean a scandal like Watergate, in which anonymous sources are used to help uncover a deeply corrupt, criminal administration.

The Sideshow has some good links to writers trying to put the whole Deep Throat/Watergate retrospective thing into its proper frame. Bottom line? It shows you just how for the media has gone down the toilet. First, from Greg Palast:

I've been gagging all morning on the Washington Post's self-congratulatory preening about its glory days of the Watergate investigation.

Think about it. It's been 33 years since cub reporters Woodward and Bernstein pulled down the pants of the Nixon operation and exposed its tie-in to the Watergate burglary. That marks a third of a century since the Washington Post has broken a major investigative story. [...]

Today, Bob Woodward, rules as the Post's Managing Editor. And how is he "managing" the news? After the September 11 attack, when we needed an independent press to keep us from hysteria-driven fascism, Woodward was given "access" to the president, writing 'Bush at War', a fawning, puke-making fairy tale of a take-charge president brilliantly leading the war against Terror.

Woodward's news-oid story is a symptom of a disease epidemic in US journalism. The illness is called, "access." In return for a supposedly "inside" connection to the powers that be, the journalists in fact become conduits for disinformation sewerage. 

And woe to any journalist who annoys the politicians and loses "access." Career-wise, they're DOA.
 
Here's a good place to tote up part of the investigative reporter body count.  There's Bob Parry forced out of the Associated Press for the crime of uncovering Ollie North's arms-for-hostages game. And there's Gary Webb, hounded to suicide for documenting the long-known history of the CIA's love-affair with drug runners. The list goes on. Even the prize-laden Seymour Hersh was, he told me, exiled from the New York Times and now has to write from the refuge of a fashion magazine.

And notice someone missing in the Deep Throat extravaganza? Carl Bernstein, the brains and soul of the All-the-President's-Men duo, is notably absent from the staff of the Post or any other US newspaper.

Why don't we read more "Watergate" investigative stories in the US press?   Given that the Woodwards of today dance on their hind legs begging officialdom for "access", news without official blessing doesn't stand a chance.

The Post follows current American news industry practice of killing any story based on evidence from a confidential source if a government honcho privately denies it. A flat-out "we didn't do it" is enough to kill an investigation in its cradle. And by that rule, there is no chance that the Managing Editor of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, would today run Deep Throat's story of the Watergate break-in.

And that sucks.

This is another big problem with the corporate media that I don't talk about very much. The most obvious thing that makes me mad is when they do a "he said, she said" thing in stories. You know, like, there's this memo from the British along with this other stuff that shows the Bush administration intended to go to war with Iraq no matter what as of 6-12 months before the war began, but administration officials say such charges are "absurd" and "old news" and so blah blah blah we don't know what to conclude and hey, look, Britney's pregnant!

But a deeper problem occurs when these "he said, she said" things occur off the front page, and so without a 100% slam-dunk and un-denied case, you can't run anything controversial. I mean, even Newsweek got burned and they supposedly did it the way the nutballs want by which I mean they ran their story past the government censors ... uh, officials ... to make sure it was ok to publish, and they said "sure, no problem, just change this one thing but everything else looks fine." So they change what they were told to change and nothing else, and they are *STILL* the anti-Christ of the news media.

From now until the end of time, anything Newsweek reports that is critical of any conservative will be dismissed out of hand by "Yeah, remember that Quran in the toilet thing?" Billmon has the scary truth about why this is true: apparently, because that's what the Moron American wants, and they're voting Republican:

But reading all the liberal pundits and bloggers moaning and groaning about the death of investigative reporting, and the pusillanimity of the corporate media, and the pure Nixonian evil of the Bush administration, and the crying need for more hero-patriots like Mark Felt, made me feel like screaming Buster Keaton's anti-nostalgia line from Limelight : "If one more person tells me this is just like ol' times, I swear I'll jump out the window."

The truth is that we do have heroic whistleblowers such as Mark Felt today. Their names are Richard Clarke and Sibel Edmonds and Ray McGovern and Scott Ritter -- and even Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury Secretary.

You want well-placed anonymous sources? How about the military officers who fed CBS and Sy Hersh their Abu Ghraib scoops, or the lawyers in the Judge Advocate General's office who spilled the beans on the torture memos, or whoever leaked the Downing Street memo.

You want ordinary Joes and Janes willing to risk the wrath of the powers to do what's right? How about the enlisted man who walked into the Army IG's office in Baghdad and told them the Marquis de Sade was making house calls at Abu Ghraib prison, or the Pentagon auditors who refused to sign off on the Haliburton payola, or the former detainees and the families in Afghanistan who risked their lives -- not just their careers -- by talking to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

You say we need indefatigable investigators, willing to follow the truth no matter where it leads? How about General Taguba or the International Red Cross or the ACLU lawyers who've been using the Freedom of Information Act to pry out far more information than I thought we would ever know about the inner workings of the Guantanamo gulag. you could even thow in David Kay -- the WMD true believer who tried mightly to prove Bush's case, but finally accepted and admitted that the primary rationale for the Iraq invasion was completely false.

Even the corporate media, for all its fawning cowardice, hasn't been as derelict as blog rhetoric would paint it. The Watergates of our time have been covered -- yes, timidly and halfheartedly, not to mention incompetently, but not nearly as timid and halfhearted and incompetent as the Nixon-era media establishment, which left the Post hanging out there, almost entirely alone, for almost a year before reluctantly accepting that the original Watergate was a real story that had to be covered.

And they didn't have Fox News, a Republican puppet Congress and a mob of crypto-fascist bloggers breathing down their necks. [...]

What the health of the Republic requires, in other words, may not be a new crop of leakers and whistleblowers, or a fresh young generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins -- or even a more independent, aggressive media. What it may need is a new population (or half of a population, anyway), one that hasn't been stupified or brainwashed into blind submission, that won't look upon sadistic corruption and call it patriotism, and that will refuse to trade the Bill of Rights for a plastic Jesus and a wholly false sense of security.

That's a much taller order than asking the Gods to send us another Deep Throat -- or even a Luke Skywalker. It's also not an easy thing for liberals, with their old-fashioned faith in democracy, to face: That the Evil Emperor might have a majority (a narrow one, but still a majority) on his side. But a truth isn't any less true for being politically unpalatable.

Which is why right now it's easy for me to imagine Richard Nixon, looking up from the inner circle of hell and lamenting his immense bad luck in being elected to the presidency 30 years too soon.

I'll believe the part about the Morons being in the majority when I feel like I can trust the voting process. Right now, I'm sorry to say, I can't.

Posted by Observer at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

Summer Blahs

For the 2nd time in a month, I have some infection raging in my upper respiratory. I've been on and off since last week, and I finally gave in after another mostly sleepless night and went in for some antibiotics. Last time I had this, I'm not sure the meds totally got rid of it. Maybe it has just been lying in wait, gathering strength for a new attack. Anyway, it hasn't made for a fun vacation.

And I found out today that one of my summer classes isn't going to make. Not enough students are attending summer school these days. I'm going to try to reschedule it for a later part of summer, but I imagine it will be difficult to fill on short notice. Sucks because those summer classes are a very nice chunk of extra pay I've gotten used to. I don't know what I'll do with myself over the summer if I don't have any decent work responsibilities.

Oh well, crap.

Posted by Observer at 10:53 PM | Comments (9)

June 01, 2005

War, Ho!

It's worth catching up on Art Silber over at "The Light of Reason" once in a while. He's one of the most eloquent and consistent libertarian writers out there, and he never fails to unmask the fake libertarians infesting the Right Wing Nutball Brigade. He tells us what he thinks of the current state of affairs today:

The evidence of the ascendance of a uniquely American version of fascism , in the form of a virulent and spreading corporate statism which has expanded the military-industrial complex into an all-consuming monstrous behemoth , is all around us and increases every day. This incipient fascism (which began its most recent rise with Reagan and the New Right in the 1980s) has been provided with an invaluable and incalculable boost by Bush’s purposely never-defined and intentionally never-ending “War on Terror.” Bush and his many defenders can only deny these obvious and profoundly dangerous truths if they are remarkably unintelligent, if they wilfully blind themselves to basic political principles and their logical implications, and/or if they are willing propagandists for the all-powerful Welfare-Warfare State. The only “innocent” explanation is stupidity. Bush’s accomplices and enablers are welcome to avail themselves of that explanation if they wish. [...]

The fate of those who dissent —that is, those who dare to question or, heaven forfend, even to criticize the government’s propaganda line about the “War on Terror” or any of its many facets—has been clear for some time now. All such people are demonized in advance : they are accused of undermining our “national will ,” of undercutting the fight against our enemies at a time of great national peril, and even of treason—of being “on the other side.” In this theology, to question the exercise of government power in any serious manner at all is to place oneself in the camp of the enemy, and to make onself a traitor. Similarly, if any cowardly member of our media should momentarily forget his or her place and report a story which calls into question any item of government propaganda, then the reporter and the newspaper or magazine is a killer . Be sure to grasp the complete inversion of the truth involved here: our government waging an entirely unnecessary war against a country that never threated us does not result in death and destruction, but publishing a small item in a magazine does . And our media, with very, very rare exceptions, is happy to accommodate and mold itself to the government’s demands, thus ensuring that it deserves no respect at all from anyone capable of serious thought.

Mr. Bush himself takes part in this attack on anyone who dissents whenever he has the chance, no matter how massive the evidence supporting anyone’s criticisms of his administration. Thus, in the midst of his press conference yesterday—during which occasion, I note, not one member of our courageous press dared to ask a single question about the Downing Street Memo (and sign Conyers’ letter , if you haven’t already—he needs 100,000 signatures)—Mr. Bush said the following :

QUESTION : Mr. President, recently Amnesty International said you have established, quote, a new gulag of prisons around the world beyond the reach of the law and decency.

I’d like your reaction to that, and also your assessment of how it came to this—that that is a view not just held by extremists and anti-Americans, but by groups that have allied themselves with the United States government in the past, and what the strategic impact is that in many places in the world the United States these days under your leadership is no longer seen as the good guy.

BUSH : I’m aware of the Amnesty International report, and it’s absurd. It’s an absurd allegation.

The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world. When there’s accusations made about certain actions by our people, they’re fully investigated in a transparent way.

It’s just an absurd allegation.

In terms of, you know, the detainees, we’ve had thousands of people detained. We’ve investigated every single complaint against the detainees.

It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of and the allegations by people that were held in detention, people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble, that means not tell the truth.

BUSH : And so it was an absurd report. It just is.

A very brief aside: does it bother other people that we have an illiterate war criminal as president? Not that many other people, or at least not nearly enough, it would appear. At least he managed to memorize the word “absurd.” [...]

Bloggers, too, get into this act—informing us that on Memorial Day of all days, we shouldn’t criticize our government in any manner at all, since that would be “unpatriotic” and would undercut the sacrifices made by our military personnel. (“Memorial Day is not a time to separate out which of the dead served and died for good reasons or bad; to second-guess which decisions to declare war, launch a campaign or charge a hill were justified or not ...”) Not surprisingly, such comments came from The Volokh Conspiracy —Central Headquarters for those Court Intellectuals who willingly propagandize for the government on all the points that matter, while they delude themselves that they maintain their “credibility” because they question the government on issues that pale into insignificance by comparison. Other Court Intellectuals might be impressed, but those people capable of thinking for themselves should not be. (Keep in mind that that the blogger and law professor for whom the Conspiracy is named recently revealed himself to be nothing more than your common everyday sadist . Well, hopefully not all that common, although that may be a losing battle at this point.)

I continue to be amazed that people who otherwise would seem to be in command of their faculties are unable or unwilling to acknowledge that two entirely separable issues are involved. On the one hand, one can deeply admire and be profoundly grateful for someone’s military service, and his (or her) willingness to even give his life on behalf of his country. On the other, one can recognize that the government itself engaged in a series of blunders and lies, and that this administration (as well as a number of previous ones) has no compunction whatsoever about killing those people it is sworn to protect in an unnecessary and counterproductive cause. Are these concepts truly that complicated? For some, it would appear that they are.

Lots more at the link, including a common-sense case for impeachment and conviction, the only chance of which would come with a miracle mid-term election in which Democrats are elected to majorities in both houses. Not that Democrats would do it, the spineless cowards, but it's sure fun to dream of the train wreck.

Posted by Observer at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)