Friday, June 30, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson is an Idiot

Even though VDH wrote a great and important book,
Culture and Carnage, he is very wrong about Gitmo
issues. Here is an article where he:

-says that the Abu Graib and Gitmo prisons "seem
no worse than what we read about in most prisons"

-says that the current war on terrorism is "undeclared"
even though Bush and Bin Laden have repeatedly
declared war on their enemies

-says that the Moussaoui trial was wrong, even though
it was a tremendous success which showed the US
justice system could handle difficult terrorism issues

-says that europeans criticize Gitmo to distract attention
from their own problems, not because of the human rights
issues, without providing any names or quotations

-calls europeans "ankle-biters" (children) and calls
european complaints about Gitmo "nonstop screeching"
to insult them; by using insulting language like this, he
sends the message that his arguments wouldn't work as
well if he used accurate language, and therefore makes
himself look weak

-on the plus side, he does point out that the french and
germans enabled the bad guys by selling high tech equipment

There's no crying in baseball

From WSJ's Washington Wire Blog:

As usual, Republicans easily won last night’s annual congressional baseball game between Republican and Democratic members of Congress. The Democrats’ pitching woes continued as Rep. Joe Baca of California, a former semi-pro player, threw more than 100 pitches in his debut on the mound. Things didn’t get better when Baca was replaced by Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina, who gave up several Republican runs before recording his first out. By the halfway point in the game, Republicans had built a 10-ru lead. Rep. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat facing corruption allegations, played a few innings at first base as a bench player.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania played 3rd base as a reserve for the Republicans and was the night’s most controversial player. Both Republican and Democratic fans were on their feet when Santorum walked to the plate for the first time with two outs and runners in scoring position. Surprised by the cheers and jeers, Santorum stepped out of the batter’s box to compose himself before the first pitch. Santorum went down 0-2 quickly on two awkward swings. Then he tucked the 3rd pitch just inside the 3rd base for a stand up double knocking in Republican runs.

Republicans cheered loudly. But the damage wasn’t done for Santorum, who is considered the Senate Republican’s most vulnerable member in the fall’s mid-tem elections. When the next Republican got a hit, Santorum was heading for home plate. Democrats had trouble fielding the ball, so Santorum was clear to score easily. But Rep. Tim Holden — the Democrats’ catcher and fellow member of the Pennsylvania delegation — was standing on home plate awaiting a throw that would never come. With a full head of steam, Santorum lowered his shoulder and leveled Holder. Republicans cheered in delight. Holden, on his rear, yelled at Santorum. Democratic managers ran on to the field to complain, but to no avail. But the umps let it go.

To anyone familiar with the commonly accepted definition of Santorum, the depiction of the play at home described above evinces particularly unpleasant mental images. At least it does for me.

Most baseball fans would agree that the play at the plate is "baseball the way it should be played." A similar play by the White Sox's AJ Pierzinski against the Cubs' Michael Barrett a few weeks ago provoked more then Rep. Holden's "yelling" - Barrett slugged AJ, and got fined and suspended for it. The umps were right to ignore the Dems' complaints.

This apparent "tradition" is further evidence of our unhealthy entrenchment in a two-party system. Say a Green gets elected, and he's got a great curveball - whose team does he play for?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do Americans Hate America?

From a detailed poll conducted by USAToday:

Which comes closer to your view? Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (or) decisions about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq should be left to the president and his advisers.

Congress should outline a plan

Leave decision to president/advisers

No opinion

June 23-25, 2006

From Eric Boehlert:

"The newest findings only add to the insult of last week's incredibly dishonest news coverage of the Senate debate regarding Iraq, where RNC talking points were billboarded again and again. "GOP leaders took obvious pleasure in the Democrats' disarray" on Iraq, wrote the Washington Post. CNN reported Republicans were "having a field day" watching Democrats debate resolutions to establish a withdrawal timetable, while conveniently ignoring the fact a majority of Americans supported the Democratic plan (even last week). And Newsweek obediently announced, "Democrats lost the week in the war over the war."

"Folks, we need to pause here and really examine just how derelict the MSM has become, and just how entrenched the entire corporate media enterprise is in terms of allowing the Republican party to dictate coverage on key political issues. The fact that the lapdog press allows it to happen on behalf of a historically unpopular president just boggles the mind. (And yes, the USA Today poll confirmed Bush's much-anticipated June bounce was non-existent.)"

So, what do you think? Is the majority in our great nation comprised of liberal, cut and run, John Kerry loving pansies, or are these merely the talking points of the corrupt Republican machine?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fatuous poppycock

This piece of nonsense is from today's WSJ editorial page. My comments are interspersed in italics.

He Who Whines First Laughs Last

June 26, 2006
; Page A14

Republicans are a bunch of stiffs. That, at least, is the portrait the Democrats are trying to create. A key to making gains in the 2006 and 2008 elections is to convince Americans that Democrats are fundamentally more positive and attractive than conservatives. And a study in the news over the past month appears to provide evidence that this may be true.

"A study in the news" = red flag. My moron sense is already tingling.

In 1969, two psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley evaluated 100 Berkeley-area preschoolers. Decades later, they followed up with these former toddlers, and asked them about their politics. In a recently published article, the researchers report the results: The politically liberal young adults in this group had been the more resourceful, autonomous, expressive and self-reliant children. In contrast, the people that turned into conservatives had been judged as children to be "visibly deviant," susceptible to guilt feelings, easily offended and rigid. In short, the research -- gleefully embraced by many liberals -- makes conservatism sound as if it stems from a childhood personality disorder.

If referencing a study (as well as a "recently published article") without providing sources on either isn't a clear violation of Tim's Laws of Engaged Debate, it should be. (This reminds me: Tim, would you be kind enough to post on the blog the list you shared at last week's book club?) Brooks's comments about liberals "gleefully embracing" the research is also an egregious offense: besides not defining "liberal" (does the study even do that?), he does not deign to share with us the gleeful embracers.

This view of conservatives is consistent with the picture painted by bestselling author George Lakoff, who has personally advised Democratic leaders, including Howard Dean, on how to frame political messages. According to Mr. Lakoff, conservatives have a "strict father" model of life, in which "the world is a dangerous place. It's a difficult place. And kids are born bad and have to be made good." A portrait of Republicans as the American Gothic is the one most likely to be marketed by the Democrats.

Does he mean that painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood? I don't get the connection. Is the pitchfork guy a Republican, "protecting" us from terrorists?

Will portraying the Republicans in this way ring true with Americans? It may not, because there is actually no evidence that political conservatives, no matter how whiny they were at age three, are especially rigid or grim as adults. On the contrary, the best data available show that conservatives have a clear edge over liberals in terms of happiness and emotional fortitude.

Whoa, whoa - "on the contrary" means you are about to present THE OPPOSITE of what was just claimed. Since when are happiness and emotional fortitude the opposite of rigidity or grimness?

For example, data collected on Americans in 2004 by the National Opinion Research Center show that self-described political conservatives are almost twice as likely as political liberals to say they are very happy with their lives. These differences are not due to demographics such as education, income, age, gender or race. Indeed, if two adults are identical in all these ways and only differ in their politics, the conservative will be, on average, 14 percentage points more likely to say he or she is very happy than the liberal.

This is the "best data available" referenced in the previous paragraph? The very name of the data's source - the National OPINION Research Center - makes calling this "data" a bit of a stretch.

Political conservatives are also far less likely than liberals to express maladjustment to their adult lives. For example, adults on the political right are only half as likely as those on the left to say, "at times, I think I am no good at all." They are also less likely to say they are dissatisfied with themselves, they are inclined to feel like a failure, or they are pessimistic about their futures.

OK, now Brooks has totally lost me. George Lakoff was expressing what PJ O'Rourke said better: God is a Republican, Santa Claus is a Democrat. Brooks's "data" seems to be more about self-image determining political values - which is the kind of shaky intellectual ground you'd expect to see in a Communications major's thesis. Says a lot for the WSJ's editorial standards, I suppose.

Whether they start out "visibly deviant" or not, what accounts for the fact that conservative adults end up happiest? One answer is probably religion. Today, religion is the most important cultural faultline between the left and right: In 2000, for example, conservative Americans were twice as likely as liberals to attend a house of worship every week, and half as likely to have no religion. Voluminous research on happiness has shown that religious people are much happier about their lives and futures than nonreligious people, and that it is religious faith per se that causes at least part of this difference.

Ah, here we go: the true colors come out! "Probably"; "most important"; "voluminous research on happiness" - these made it past the editor's knife because this piece is not meant to be considered critically. Rather than the hypothesis-supporting data-conclusion editorial it claims to be, this editorial is merely a hack job on the "gleefully embracing liberals" straw man invented above.

In summary, it appears that he who whines first laughs last. Americans may not buy the Democratic portrait of grim Republicans because it is simply not accurate. On the contrary, it appears that American conservatives have a formula for happiness that liberals might just want to emulate, instead of caricature or mock.

But I like caricatures!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Your cat vs. Hitler

A blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler.

Coulter vs. Hitler

Can you tell the difference between Ann's and Adolf's hateful, right wing invective? Find out - take the quiz!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

WMDs Found!

That's right, in IRAQ!!

From the "Fair and Balanced" report:

We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

I figured after three years, we just gave up looking for them.

Hey, wait a minute - did Santorum say "pre-Gulf War"?

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

I guess the second sentence of that paragraph is supposed to mitigate the first one. Funny, I don't remember "punishing Saddam for lying" as one of the hawks' rationales leading up to our invasion.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

Well put, Pete.

Asked why the Bush administration, if it had known about the information since April or earlier, didn't advertise it, Hoekstra conjectured that the president has been forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq.

This reminds me of Bush's infamous comment on 13 March 2002, when he said of Osama bin Laden, "I truly am not that concerned about him", describing him as "a person who has now been marginalized." When confronted with the glaring failure to achieve the stated objective, the administration strategy is just to brush it off, because that's all in the past now. Whatever happened to accountability?

Of course, this is not just some isolated event. The Pentagon is giving members of Congress a 74-page briefing book about how to spin the War in Iraq to their constituents, and Santorum and Hoekstra are just the first GOP drones to pull it out in front of news cameras.

The vociferous opposition to Kerry's withdrawal timetable proposal - accusing Democrats of "retreat and defeatism" - makes me wonder just how war supporters think we're finally going to leave Iraq. If timetables are the tools of cowards and hypocrites, how do you do it? Spontaneously, overnight, after The Decider decrees that the Mission has been Accomplished?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Book Idear

I was absent from June's discussion in which this was most likely discussed. If a book has already been designated for July, perhaps we could dive into this in August?

Siva's comments on the author/book:

"Eric Rauchway will be your host here on Altercation tomorrow. You might have noticed that he has a lot to say about the movements of people and capital across borders and around the world. As a historian, he understands that today's anxieties are echoes of those from about a century ago, when the United States was more globalized and its labor markets in more transition than anything we are experiencing today. His research for this book is just astounding. His insights are powerful. I could go on, but I have only just started reading the thing. For now, just trust me that it's an impressive work and you will never think about the development of the United States the same after reading it. Here is the basic question: How did the United States grow into such a unique political culture and economic state? By all measures, the rise to power of the United States was sui generis. This country did not mimic the United Kingdom. It did not sway with postcolonial tides the way Mexico and Brazil did. Its welfare state differs from every other developed nation. Its military might is unrivaled in human history. Its people are more diverse and more connected with the rest of the world than anyone could have imagined at its founding. Ever wonder how we got this way? Eric Rauchway will guide you through it."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Boycotting American Academia

for their chicken little antics.

"Many of my fellow American academics have failed to prevent our government from doing these and many other bad things. So we deserve to be punished. Clearly, we are craven collaborators."

America's problem is again a usurping king called George

The Guardian's Martin Kettle on the American version of "democracy" :

"The Bush administration has often been charged with unilateralism in its conduct of foreign affairs. But a similar disregard for the rule of law underlies this domestic strategy. Article 1, section 1 of the US constitution states: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Section 7 says that if the president refuses to sign a law, the Congress can override him. But Bush has never vetoed a bill. Instead he signs bills into law and then unilaterally redefines them his way."

Friday, June 16, 2006

'Changing the Tone'

Op-ed piece on the general tone of hypocrisy emanating from the Bush team, with particular focus on the Mr. Zinmeister feller.

"Zinsmeister has long been a virulent critic of the American press, which he has described as being composed of little more than “left-wing, cynical, wiseguy Ivy League types, with a high prima donna quotient.” But like so many other “regular guys” who populate the Bush administration, Zinsmeister himself is a pointy-headed Ivy Leaguer who is a product of Yale University, and who, despite his oft-professed hatred of Washington, put in time staffing for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and serving on an Education Department advisory board before taking on the editorship of The American Enterprise magazine."

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength with these hacks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Girl, You Know It's True!

A great story from the Washington Monthly on the abandonment of Bush by "true conservatives." The Trotskyite analogy is particularly apt. Here's a great little chestnut:

"Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Neocon Diplomacy

Our belligerent, self-imposed alienation from the world community continues:

In a critical speech Tuesday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Malloch Brown accused Washington of failing to stand up for the UN against domestic critics and observed that it was using the world body as a "diplomatic tool."

"On a very wide number of areas, from Lebanon and Afghanistan to Syria, Iran, and the Palestinian issue, the U.S. is constructively engaged with the UN," said Malloch Brown, the number two official at t
he United Nations. "But that is not well known or understood, in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to [the UN's] loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News."

US Ambassador John Bolton, a self-styled ultra-nationalist who is known for his feverish ideas in support of the U.S. stance on unilateralism, called the remarks, "a very, very grave mistake," and asked UN chief Kofi Annan to repudiate his deputy's speech, which Bolton branded as anti-American. "Otherwise I fear the consequences, not just for the [UN] reform effort, but for the organization as a whole," Bolton said.

Kofi Annan stood by his deputy's remarks, according to a UN official, who said Malloch Brown had been appealing for "engagement" from Americans.

"'Engage here, engage consistently, and go out and engage with the American public to say the UN matters'; for the life of me, I cannot understand how that can be construed a
s an anti-American speech," Malloch Brown told reporters Wednesday.

Why couldn't we have put a charming, diplomatic American in that seat? Someone like, say, Michael Bolton.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

From the Atlantic Monthly I bring you this.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Report to Congress on Iraq War Borders on 'Deception'

Who cares if the Defense Department is lying to Congress, we got the boogie man Zarqawi, almost banned gay marriage, and nearly repealed the estate tax forever.

What a political sham this is, the insurgency won't wilt because of Zarqawi's demise, the family won't perish because Adam loves Steve, and taxing a rich bastard's inheritance won't lead to his or her said destitution.

Zarqawi's death is purely a symbolic kill. The damage has been done, Bushie should have picked him up when he had the chance.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No good tyrants?

Is the vaunted Bush Doctrine being violated?

The United States has been funneling more than $100,000 a month to warlords battling Islamist militia in Somalia, according to a Somalia expert who has conferred with the groups in the country.


The U.S. operation, which former intelligence officials say is aimed at preventing emergence of rulers who could provide al Qaeda with a safe haven akin to Afghanistan, appeared to be seriously set back on Monday when an Islamic coalition claimed control of Mogadishu.


CIA-operated flights into Somalia have been bringing in $100,000 to $150,000 per month for the warlords. The flights remain in Somalia for the day, he said, so that U.S. agents can confer with their allies.

that's $20,000 for warlord Lenny... that's $20,000 for warlord Karl...

A U.N. team monitoring an arms embargo against Somalia has also said it is investigating an unnamed country's clandestine support for the warlords alliance as a possible violation of the weapons ban.

Weapons? But those nice Somali warlords promised me they were going to use that money to buy baby formula! And maybe some deodorant!

"By circumventing the new government and going straight to individual warlords, the U.S. is perpetuating and even deepening Somalia's fundamental problems, and compromising long-term efforts to combat extremism," some so-called expert was quoted as saying.

Somalia sounds ripe for a little Bush Doctrine® treatment.

I know, I know... our unpopular leader is busy hating fags right now.

So let's just put someone responsible and respectable in charge of fixing Somalia.

Someone who will awaken in the Somali people the true yearning for freedom and liberty and democracy which all men share.

Someone unburdened by the corrupting influences of realpolitik and partisanship.

There's only one man who can get the job done.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Our Illegitimate Dictator

Look what RFK jr has gone and done.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Burnt Offering

Insight into how the Bush Admin failed to respond to Iranian overtures in 2003.

From the American Prospect:

"The story of that Iranian negotiating proposal and the U.S. failure to respond, which has never been covered by major U.S. media, reveals the underlying pragmatism driving Iranian policy toward an agreement with the United States. It also reveals a fierce struggle between realists who wanted to engage Iran diplomatically and the inner circle of advisers who were determined to avoid it. The stubborn rejection by President Bush and his neoconservative advisers of normal diplomatic practice in their dealings with Iran, detailed for the first time here, raises grave questions about the Bush administration’s real motives as it maneuvers through the present crisis over Iran’s nuclear program."

Evidence of a Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum

From today's Tribune:

"The findings, published Thursday in three separate papers in the journal Nature, fill in a blank spot in scientists' understanding of climate history. And while they show that much remains to be learned about climate change, they suggest that scientists have greatly underestimated the power of greenhouse gases to warm the Arctic."

This piece seems to bolster the claims of those wacky eco-terrorists like Al Gore.