Saturday, December 06, 2003

Florida Democratic Convention

My feelings about Howard Dean are ambivalent--if he IS the nominee, sure, I'll vote for him, but I'm not really a Deaniac. However, let's give credit where credit is due.

This evening, on C-Span, Dean and Dennis Kucinich held a Q and A with convention goers. I think Dean hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the Bush Administration paints the conflict in the Middle East as one between Fundamentalist Islam and the West. Wrong. The conflict is between Fundamentalist Islam and Moderate Islam, and Bush's policies benefit the former, not the latter. Good point, Governor.

Oh--and this link from Atrios is interesting. Check out the "ad" for Congressman Dennis. As far as his chances to be nominated/elected, I think it's somewhere close to absolute zero--but as long as he's in the race, why not use the exposure to attack a fundamentally immoral policy. Al Giordano makes some good points regarding Kucinich here.

And on that note, I'll probably be closing down for the evening. Saturday night is Saturday night, even if there's plenty of chill in the Southern air. At least there's no snowstorm to fight like they've got on the East Coast. I spent enough time battling winter when I lived up in Wisconsin. Don't miss the white stuff at all.

Spent most of the day competing for space near the heater with my cat (he's winning) and reading various postings. Ben Tripp has a good article on Counterpunch:

"Terrorism is running rampant the world over. Meanwhile, in America (you remember that place) we've given up huge chunks of our liberties, our economy is looking lively as a corpse with farded cheeks, the visible holes plugged with mortician's wax; we've got a deficit so big that like a black hole or Donald Rumsfeld's ass it will suck all matter into itself."

Check the rest of it here.

Via Mary via Atrios The Right Christians note : "[Bush aides] point out that Bush is writing [condolence] letters to each of the soldiers families instead of going to the services...[but] They are form letters. With the exception of the salutation and a reference to the fallen soldier in the text, the letters the families shared...are all the same...Bush does sign them all personally. But it would be more accurate to say he is sending all the families letters, a practice that goes back many presidents."

Feel free to look at the article itself--you can judge whether my ellipses are acceptable, unlike those Charles Krauthammer used in his column on Howard Dean.

Someone commenting at BigLeftOutside linked to an excellent article by The Black Commentator on the state of the media, the Democrats running for President, and Civilization in general. Called Two Civilized Men Among the Barbarians, it was written in October, but worth looking at--I read it twice:

"Measured by the most minimal standards of the modern, industrial world, only two of ten Democratic candidates for President passed civilized muster at the September 25 debate in New York City: Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton. The rest of the field, to varying degrees, fail to even comprehend modern assumptions of what it is to be human, living among other humans."

And continuing on the perspective theme, here's something from last month from Bad Attitudes and a link to Back to Iraq regarding Team Bush's sudden concern for human rights in Iraq:

"Of all Bush's justifications for invading Iraq, the most cynical and repellent is his entirely ahistorical one that he did it in the service of human rights."

And, from Christopher Allbritton:

"there is no evidence so far that Saddam was filling graves with hundreds of thousands when he was Public Enemy No. 1. Instead, the evidence points to him filling them when he was an ally of America. Until other or more recent evidence shows up, supporters of the war should realize that by pointing to these graves as justification for invading Iraq and causing the actual deaths of tens of thousands, many of them civilians, they're pointing out that the United States, too, has the blood of Saddam's victims on its hands. Anyone want to bet the Iraqis don't know this?

And, because it's Saturday and I'm lazy, this became my excuse for not taking care of any one of many chores on my list--Timshel posted a link to a text based computer game based on a Hamlet theme. If wasting time paid an hourly wage, I'd be a millionaire.

Oh--speaking of wasting time, watched the Chimp in Chief's Home Depot talk on C-Span. Bush said he thought about buying a chain saw while there, a fitting prop for the massacre he's perpetrated upon--hell, just about everything he gets his grubby little fingers on.

Friday, December 05, 2003


Here's a link to the March 8, 2003 "news conference" held by our President. The major subject was the imminent invasion of Iraq, and the rationale for attacking. It's worth reading again.

Excerpt: Iraqi operatives continue to hide biological and chemical agents to avoid detection by inspectors. In some cases, these materials have been moved to different locations every 12 to 24 hours, or placed in vehicles that are in residential neighborhoods.

Another excerpt: We'll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted -- (laughter.)

And one more excerpt: Well, Bill, if they believe he should be disarmed, and he's not going to disarm, there's only one way to disarm him. And that happens to be my last choice -- the use of force.

Secondly, the American people know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. By the way, he declared he didn't have any -- 1441 insisted that he have a complete declaration of his weapons; he said he didn't have any weapons.

And here's a link to UN Resolution 1441.

Lastly, I referred to the White House Press Corps as lemmings in my previous post. I apoligize if any lemmings found the comparision insulting.
I'm Feeling Safer Already

"The release of the [9/11] video adds to concern over recent intelligence that has counterterrorism officials increasingly worried about a possible attack against soft targets, such as shopping malls, as the holiday season approaches."

Here's the entire story on CNN. Short version: A video of the 9/11 attack appeared recently on an Al Qaeda website. The particular video is apparently one that authorities were unaware of. And, once again, increased "chatter" is being heard amongst various terrorist circles, although it is not clear if this is something to be genuinely concerned about, or merely diversionary tactics by said terrorists.

Homeland Security--god, what an Orwellian name if there ever was one--probably will bump up the terror alert sometime soon. But don't let that keep you from shopping. Maybe go to your local Target Store. Buy something that matches the terror color code.

It was just a week ago that our President told the soldiers in Iraq that, by fighting them over there, we wouldn't have to face them here.

Which was/is A LIE. We are STILL facing terrorism here. Attacking Iraq was a SETBACK in the War on Terror. It's making the world MORE dangerous, not less. It's amazing how something as simple as that is incapable of being understood by the people in charge. They're either ignorant, or don't care. If they don't care, then they're evil--because the consequences of their actions are putting millions of people's lives in jeopardy all over the world.

Every time Bush takes the stage and does his sound-out-the-syllable act--you know, when he barks out something that appeals to his simplistic brain like "they hate us because trrists hate freedom. You see, they hate freedom. They want to destroy freedom. Because they hate freedom," I want to shake the guy--and then I want to shake the lemmings that call themselves "the White House Press Corps." I mean, what the hell does this guy mean, and why the hell aren't they calling him on it? Why doesn't SOMEONE from the press show a scintilla of backbone and ask the Resident something like, "Mr. Resident, you tell us that the terrorists hate freedom--can you elaborate? Just what exactly DO you mean by this statement?

A thousand people will have a thousand definitions of freedom--some, like a lot of folks in Louisiana, think of freedom as freeway--in other words, they're car worshippers. Others might think that freedom is choice of church, or school, or job, or whatever. To summarize: freedom is a simple word that describes a very complex idea. To dismiss acts of terrorism (or to dismiss acts of resistance to occupation, which is NOT terroristic at all) as simply "they hate freedom" is a disservice to the public. We deserve real explanations, not reconstituted, regurgitated crap unfit for dogs. So, Mr. Bush, tell us what you MEAN when you say this. What freedom do they hate? Why do they hate it? What do you intend to do to protect the homeland from additional acts of terrorism? Do domestic criminals like Tim McVeigh receive the same attention as foreign criminals when it comes to tracking terrorists? Etc. Etc.

All of these are valid questions a genuine free press would ask. But these days, the press corps is worse than Alan Colmes...

Thursday, December 04, 2003

It Was An Extremely Close Vote--In a Sense, All Were Winners
Once again, via Atrios, Jesse at Pandagon presents the 20 Most Annoying Conservatives of 2003. Now, remember, it's the most annoying. Not the most frightening, not the most powerful, not the dumbest--the most annoying. I'd also like to congratulate those who tried, but failed.

Colymbosathon ecplecticos

It means "swimmer with a large penis" in Greek, apparently.
From The New York Times:

"A 425-million-year-old fossil found in Herefordshire, England, may be the oldest record of an animal that is unarguably male. Scientists report today in the journal Science that the tiny crustacean, only two-tenths of an inch long, had an unmistakable penis."

So, he's only two-tenths of an inch long. Hmmn. But he's called Colymbosathon ecplecticos. I was about to note that's not the first time a guy has, uh, exaggerated--except that apparently it is the first time.

Something else that women would find all too familiar:

"It also offers a striking example of evolution almost standing still. "This," Dr. Siveter said, "is an animal whose basic ground plan hasn't changed in 425 million years." It evolved hardly at all "(my emphasis).

No word on whether or not he sat around all day in boxers and an undershirt, watching tv, and scratching himself. But it wouldn't surprise me.


I'll give a little credit to Ted Koppel of late. On Nightline, successive broadcasts have dealt with the refusal of some elite Israeli Air Force pilots to engage in assassination air-strikes, and, last night, a fairly balanced look at reparations for slavery. Maybe this makes up for last week's punt of the Iraq war in favor of--Michael Jackson.

Reparations are a difficult issue. On the one hand, it's been one hundred and forty years since The Emancipation Proclamation, one hundred and thirty-eight since the Thirteenth Amendment, almost fifty years since Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, and the fortieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act is next year.

However--there are serious allegations of practical, if not actual, cases of slavery which occurred well into the twentieth century. Last night, two individuals made just such an allegation on the program. Additionally, reparations for Jewish victims of the Holocaust have been paid out--with the specific reason being coerced labor, i.e., slavery. There is NO doubt that slavery, and the support structure that underlied it, were a source of profit for corporations which function to this day.

But what is the remedy, if anything? In the case of the Holocaust, the program noted that legal action was never successful in bringing about compensation, although lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits kept the issue in the public eye. In the end, various corporations agreed to settle claims out-of-court, based on very specific criteria (for instance, an individual had to PROVE she or he PERSONALLY was enslaved). Lastly, while a large aggregate sum was deposited into a fund for Holocaust survivors, each victim received a very small amount--much less than, say, a successful tort claim would have brought.

Nightline took pains to point out that a successful tort action--for victims/descendants of the Holocaust/Era of Slavery--is highly unlikely to succeed. The point of such action is primarily to publicize the claims of the victims, with the hope that a corporation can be shamed into making, at the very least, a token gesture by way of apology.

So, why is this important? Well, let me begin by adding my own .00002 cents worth: Slavery was/is an abomination--an example of human behavior at its absolute worst. The first principle of humanity, in my view, should imply at least a tacit recognition that opportunity should be available to all. Slavery, by definition, subsumes one human to the will of another--regardless of what sort of "guarantees" exist, be they codified or tacit. The idea that my ancestors owned slaves (and, at least one record I've seen does indicate that a long dead great-great-great-great grandfather of mine owned almost twenty persons) makes me a little sick. Why just a little? OK, yeah, that's when I try to say things like, "but, that was THEN, this is now," or something just as trite, but true nonetheless. But that's a different point.

OK, back to reparations--I think it might be worthwhile to note a couple of things: first, some people believe that emancipation of slaves in the United States was accompanied by legislation authorizing forty acres and a mule to each freed (male) slave--which is actually not true. Legislation PROPOSING this was defeated by Congress, and while General Sherman did grant plots of land to freedmen in Georgia, the property was soon taken away and retitled to the original landholders. So, in fact, while discussed, reparations were never offered to people who had been coerced into labor.

Roughly thirty years following Emancipation, Homer Plessy challenged official racial discrimination and lost. Consider: if official discrimination is ordained as acceptable by SCOTUS, what chance do you think there would be any serious call for genuine compensation for the years of unpaid labor slaves provided? Slim and none might be a little generous.

The fact is, slavery, an intitution which brought thousands of Africans to this country in chains, robbed these people of their very humanity. When families like the Prescotts, the Bushes, the Cabot Lodges, et al--and, to be fair, the Kennedys, the Gores, and others--we're setting the stage which eventually allowed Dubya to pull a legacy admission wild-card out of his ass to matriculate at Yale, people of primarily African-American heritage were forced to live day to day, with NO way to build the kind of foundation, figuratively speaking, that causes the elites to wail and gnash their teeth at the mention of estate taxes...

So, to make a long post short, here's my opinion: there are still some people who might be able to file a legitimate tort claim of coerced labor against those who wronged them, based on allegations like the one noted above. Standard burdens of proof should be required in these cases. If the allegation is against a deceased individual, then the estate can or should be considered liable--and should likewise be entitled to settle.

The broader picture, however, that of the "peculiar institution"--must be addressed by ourselves as a country. Consider: some of the very symbols of our free government, like the Capital, for instance, were built with slave labor. In a sense, we are ALL complicit in this crime.

But cash indemnities are problematic. How does one determine who is eligible? This becomes complicated. In my view, the best remedy would be a national consideration that African Americans should be eligible for considerations based on the fact that they are African American: in other words, something like, I don't know, AFFIRMITIVE ACTION? Hell, yes, this should be STRONGLY considered. It is impossible to determine, with certainty, which individual African Americans have been directly harmed by slavery in the sense of awarding compensatory damages, but certainly ALL African Americans have been affected in some manner--and not in a good way. So, why not, in the interests of rectifying past injustice, offer remedies that offer OPPORTUNITY, as opposed to cash payouts. It's a matter of atonement for the entire country. It also is a realistic way to provide compensation without bankrupting the treasury. Finally--for all those conservatives who blanch to an even whiter shade of pale on this--if we can offer sweetheart, no-bid, government contracts to Halliburton, if we can allow crooks like Ken Lay of Enron fame to write energy policy--and game the horribly deregulated electricity market in California--if we can allow a classic "C" student like George W. Bush to enter Yale, even though my OWN damn SAT score was about 60 points higher than his--well, then I think we can start thinking about spending a relatively small sum to rectify four hundred years of injustice.

Or--we can raise the estate tax to one hundred percent on those who are in the upper one percent, income and estate-wise. What the hell's wrong with that? I thought conservative were AGAINST special privileges--what's a more special, and undeserved, privilege than being born on third base? It's not like you hit a triple....
Imperialism, Then and Now
Found this on Atrios last night, and wanted to pass it along. It's from Jerome Doolittle over at Bad Attitudes.

Short Line: Nation Building is Imperialism is White Man's Burden. Don't think America is unique in this regard--soldiers have been forced to conquer then govern with compassion for a long time.

If you visit Jerome's site, also take a look at the "I Needed a Twinkie Defense" post regarding Bill Janklow. I'd be interesting to know if Bill considers himself a law and order type. Funny how laws suddenly become a LOT more flexible when it's their necks on the chopping block. Wonder what Rush Limbaugh is saying about Janklow...

Channel 9 Newscast 12/03/03

Last night I stayed in and did some chores while watching TV. At ten, I grimly tuned in the local newscast--the term "news" in this context is a little generous, if you ask me--but Donna Britt did something that really made my head turn (and my skin crawl). First, to clarify "made my head turn--" I usually try to do SOMETHING while watching the local news. Sorry to keep using the term empty calories, but, damn if it doesn't apply. Local television news is the visual equivalent of a giant Big Grab bag of Cheetos.

Britt read aloud as the teleprompter ran a story on Dru Sjodin, the missing young woman in North Dakota. This is beginning to look like a horrible tragedy. But then, without missing a beat--in fact, I thought she was still on the Sjodin subject--Donna cocked her head, put on a cheerleader's smile, and proceeded to crow about "the news just keeps getting better and better on the economy--worker productivity increased by 9.4 percent!"

I almost expected her to close with a nod to co-anchor George "what-about-motorcycle-helmet-laws" Sells' and a "doubleplusgood, George!"

Newscasting, especially on the local level, is to news what a food product is to food. Yeah, I know it's difficult to conclusively say what a newscaster is thinking when they curl their lip, raise or drop an eyebrow, or otherwise seek to add "emotion" to "content." But I found Britt's change in tone offensive--because it displayed a sense of vacuous failure to understand the relatively simple words in her script. First, I think that if you're going to do the somber tone when reporting something that is, indeed, somber, you should at least give a pause before reading something less so. Second, crowing about worker productivity like it's a football score displays an appalling lack of understanding as to what the statistic implies. Third, why the hell does this Bureau of Labor stat, among all others, become part of the local newscast? I watch WAFB's local news pretty regularly and I never see reports on joblessness, declining wages, decreased availibility of public services, escalating salaries of management, and so on. But there's always room for an awkward joke and an embarassing pause, followed by sports...and the damn productivity index--which, incidently, means that it takes fewer workers to do the same job--which means less money paid out in salaries on an aggregate basis. Who knows? Maybe Donna is all excited because she might see a jump in her mutual fund as a result.

But, damn, I forgot again--is it the EURASIANS or the EASTASIANS we're fighting these days? I'll check Channel 9 to find out tonight...
Morning Cup of Coffee

Check out this fromCrawlingWestward, especially the link to the reader letters. Based on what some people wrote, you'd think the ACLU has an agenda to destroy the American Way--by forcing the government to honor our right to free speech, free association, freedom to bear arms, freedom from illegal arrest, search, and seizure, freedom from illegal prosecution, and freedom from government intrusion into our private life. What a bunch of commies.

Sadly, I'm beginning to see why some of these folks are such vicious Clinton haters--why, the man had sex--for pleasure. Reminds me of an old SNL sketch featuring Dan Ackroyd as Nixon (based loosely on The Final Days). Nixon/Ackroyd stared at the Kennedy portrait, furrowed his brow, and proclaimed, "You, Kennedy, you always looked so good all the time. They're going to find out about you, too, the President, having sex with women within these very walls. That never happened when Dick Nixon was President. Never."

But that isn't really the issue, in spite of what the ACLU haters say. The child, as far as I can tell, did not engage in any sort of graphic discussion of hot lesbian sex (sarcasm--just making sure you get the point). The child's parents are likely far more representative of a normal lesbian couple than any sort of male pornographic fantasy. To those who are upset by this--too bad. Forty years ago, a lot of folks were upset about African Americans getting all uppity, what with wanting equal protection under the law, voting rights and all that. These days, gay citizens want their rights, including the freedom to be gay without fear of retribution. No, they're not coming to a staid subdivision to have sex on your front lawn--but gay or lesbian couples might hold hand or kiss in public places at times. Just like straight people. They might even have children who attend public school. They themselves might attend functions like PTA meetings, open houses, the school play, and so on. Get used to it, grass-eaters.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Or whatever else you want for a background. Link via Atrios.
4:45 P.M.

Have had a busy morning here. A hard disk on one of the file servers failed, requiring a complete restore from the backup. This was the first server to fail since we made Tivoli our main backup package (replacing Legato).

Fortunately, the server in question was not a particularly large file server--it handles roughly 30 users. Restoration took about 3 hours, and then a few tweaks were needed to bring it back to its original state. More fortunately, the restore worked more or less the way we hoped.

(Update: and a busy afternoon. Crawlingwestward has a post about the new Louisiana Portal, which includes a link to a gis server called wwwlamap--which, incidently, I did the basic setup for. The portal was having problems, which became MY problems because no one else wanted to deal with it).

I meant to post this last night, but instead opted for rest: I came across this VERY VALUABLE AND USEFUL RESOURCE called Today In Iraq. I'll be adding this to my link list soon, and it's now daily reading for me. The person posting at the site goes by the (I assume) nom de plume of yankeedoodle, and the research is thorough. There are links to publications ranging from Stars and Stripes to Al Jazeera, with an emphasis on capturing a range of facts and opinion every day. Posts are headlined with terms War News, Commentary, and Casuality Reports. I spent some time going over the archive, discovering a LARGE number of stories that just don't make it to standard media (or web) outlets.

A big thanks to whoever yankeedoodle is.

Otherwise, while combing through the usual websites (and ones I've just discovered, like Today in Iraq) last night, I happened upon Bernard Kerik on C-Span (link is Real Audio). Kerik is Senior Policy Advisor to Paul Bremer. Kerik gave a speech that was neither unexpected or inspiring--like watching a basketball game where you not only don't care who wins, but it's garbage time by the middle of the third quarter...

I noticed a couple of things, however. Kerik was (maybe still is, I don't know) the Police Comissioner for New York City. I assume he's working on building a police force in Iraq, while fulfilling as much of a Comissioner role as one can, given the circumstances. What I found interesting was a statement he made to the effect that we don't have any records to compare crime, violent or otherwise, vis-a-vis the final year(s) of Hussein's rule and the opening months of occupation. Hmmn. Bush consistantly argues the point that the "world is better off without Hussein," a straw-man argument if there ever was one. However, no one apparently KNOWS if IRAQ is better off, at least by any measure that civilized society uses.

Why is that? No one asked, even though a Q & A followed Kerik's speech. Presumably, crime records were kept--or were they? NO ONE ASKED...we're the records looted? No one asked...Kerik noted mass graves--but NO ONE ASKED if the graves were recent (i.e., since, say 1998) or if they were from the 1991 uprising--and, yes, it makes a difference. NO ONE is defending Hussein--he was/is a thug. But mass graves from 1991, at the very least, should cause every American to take pause. Our government told Iraqis to rise up against Saddam, then allowed Hussein to mow these people down when they did just that. Like it or not, we are complicit in this massacre.

So, yes, when the massacres took place, when the mass grave were dug and filled with the bodies of Iraqis, DOES make a difference.

Kerik mentioned the overall deterioration of the Iraq infrastructure--for example, power plants have antiquated equipment, the sewer system of Baghdad consists of five separate sets of drains, which are NOT interconnected, and he caustically noted that Hussein opted for "band-aid" solutions--and more palaces. But while the AEI crowd seemed to nod their heads in unison, I began to think about this.

Now, why on earth would Hussein engage in building palace upon palace when it was obvious his country was going to hell in a handbag, and was taking the express train in getting there? Oh sure, there's the whole aspect of Hussein's meglomania, but then I thought: what about all the sanctions against Iraq? Might THAT have something to do with it? If I recall, the sanctions blocked infrastructure upgrades like new equipment for power plants, on the grounds that it could be converted to military use. Sewer system infrastructure could well have had the same restrictions, but we don't know. Why? Because the so-called free press allows their collective sheep-brain to take over whenever an Administration official solemnly invokes the Saddam card. In fact, I'm now guessing that Hussein embarked on major palace building, and major palace upgrades not only because he was a maniacal creep, but probably because that was the only public works project he wasn't specifically prohibited from doing.

Does this mean Saddam Hussein was a good guy? Of course not! Was he a SMART guy? Don't think so either--otherwise he never would have invaded all of Kuwait. No, Saddam was a despot (sorry to have to keep saying it over and over, but it seems like all those who had a hard on for war accuse thinking people of being Saddam lovers. So, let me ONE MORE TIME FOR THE RECORD NOTE: We don't love Saddam Hussein. We DO APPRECIATE the efforts of our men and women in uniform. In fact, we appreciate their work SO MUCH that we'd prefer they ONLY have to actually DEFEND the United States and/or it's allies, not INVADE A FOREIGN COUNTRY that wasn't threatening us).

Anyway, it seems a likely reason Hussein embarked on massive palace building and upgrades is because it provided jobs to ordinary Iraqis. And anybody in a position of power, even a raving despot like Saddam Hussein, knows that you need to provide sustenance to the population, which means JOBS. Duh. If all other avenues for public construction are cut off, then the only thing left is to build up the palaces...we'd need a place to stay post-invasion, right?

And in case anyone thinks I'm confining my blame to Team Bush, think again. Team Clinton is equally culpable, and it goes further back. Iraq has been a case study in miserable long term planning for at least the last FIVE administrations, beginning with the millionaire peanut farmer himself, Jimmy Carter.

How many more despots will it take before our public officials begin to realize or understand that YOU DON'T CODDLE overseas despots in an attempt to run an end around for the sake of business and "stability." In the end, you will get neither. Geez, Iraq is case front and center for why this is such a mistake. Oh, and in case you think it's our first mistake, look again. Right next door is case front and center number 2, Iran, where a policy "success" (minus the appalling human rights situation under the Shah) blew up in our face in 1978, while down the road a bit, Vietnam is case number 3. Korea is another example. Indonesia is only now emerging from the nightmare of Suharto. South America has an ugly legacy of military dictatorship, courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.

Who's next? Ourselves?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Bush--I give thanks for the existence of the Champagne Brigade when it was my turn to serve--and more thanks that they didn't notice I went AWOL when they began drug testing.

Since my Thankgiving vacation coincided with Mr. Bush's layover at Baghdad International, I didn't post regarding this. Sure, my initial reaction went something like gee, that's hard to believe, followed by, well, damn, he really DID go (when I saw the footage), followed by, yeah, I guess you can't really complain too much about a Presidential visit, and the soldiers sure did give him a fine round of applause--but instant analysis isn't my strong suit--as if instant analysis IS anyone's strong suit.

But further reflection and review of the media suggest this quick trip is simply more empty calories. Sure, there will likely be a quick bump in the opinion polls, and it gives the So-Called-Liberal-Media a chance to fawn over how "smart" Bush really is (the initial news reports invariably depicted various members of the press corps displaying an "aw shucks, he sure pulled one over on us" look when reporting or recounting the trip).

But, Wayne Madsen has some genuine questions--the kind a free press might ask.

In addition, you've got to ask yourself if the Hillary Clinton trip factored into Bush's decision. It's one thing to lose (face) to a girl--but to her? A free press would ask this question as well.

There was a report that Air Force One was spotted by a British Airways jet, but that the pilot deftly deflected a radio query by announcing he was instead "Gulfstream 5," the equivalent of a Humvee driver saying that he's really in a Ford Taurus--but this appears to be more classic Bush hyperbole, i.e., his team lied. Coming on the heels of an audio modification of Bush's SOTU to make it sound better for a television ad, you've got to ask yourself, if he'll lie about such trifling matters, what WON'T he lie about?

An aside: there has been some discussion as to whether the editing of the SOTU clip is a valid issue for the left to raise. I've given this some thought--absolutely, in my opinion. The right would holler and bitch and moan to no end if this was done by anyone speaking from the progressive side of the aisle. Sure, if it didn't catch the media wave, so to speak, they'd let it go (and then bring it back whenever it suited, forcing progressives to admit that, yeah, maybe we went a little far in that)--sort of in the same manner that a good coach works the referees. Now, is this fair? Technically, yes. Is it ethical? That's where things get a little gray. Does the right do this? Absolutely--they work the media like a coach works the refs. And that's one reason why they get the calls come crunch time. The left better learn how to do the same--well, the real left does this, but the "left" that actually holds elective office is so busy trying to play by the right's rules that it's like playing five on seven--or worse, as the elected "left" has given up on their bench.

So let's make sure that Bush is actually asked some tough questions--that is, if we can EVER get close enough to him to ask. In case no one's noticed, they've isolated him to an extent that no president in a free society has ever been isolated. Hell, maybe it's just a Bush double who we "see" on television--that is, if he even makes an appearence on television. I'll give Rove some degree of credit--he knows that his guy is such a piss poor performer that all sorts of measures are taken to keep the Bush visage from gracing the media, unless under the most carefully scripted and staged occurrences. The Baghdad International layover was just that--the press pool was halved, Fox News was the only broadcast outfit, only highlights of the speech made it to the broadcast news...

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
Entertainment as News

I'll assume that anyone who wanted to watch The Reagans did so. It was never front and center on my radar screen, and I don't have Showtime anyway, but I've read a little about the "controversy" and decided to catch the C-SPAN discussion (still looking for a link on their website--update: found it).

Some of the headlines capture my own opinion, that it was much ado about nothing, and the few clips shown seemed to confirm this. James Brolin's portrayal was ok--indeed, better than I thought, capturing some of the mannerisms of the man without becoming a caricature. Judy Davis made Nancy look better than her public image suggests, if you ask me.

To be fair, here is an opinion from the right side of the aisle. Vince says he didn't vote for Reagan. His bio is unavailable, but his photo suggests the non-vote might be an age thing...

Lou Cannon, Linda Chavez, and Martin Anderson alternately played waterboy/waterperson for the Administration, while Carl Anthony and Hilary Rosen did their best to defend what seems to be, ultimately, a pretty tedious show (three hours--side note--something that takes three hours of my time should either include food and drink, or pillow talk). Marvin Kalb and Frank Sesno rounded out the panel--why they were chosen, I have no idea. Maybe they were the cheapest to hire...

My favorite part of the "discussion" involved just what Reagan did or didn't say about the AIDS crisis, and when he said it. Initially, a scene in the movie had Brolin/Reagan suggesting Diving vengence was responsible for the illness, but this apparently was akin to sticking a thumbtack into the collective backside of the right wing--as so ably demonstrated by Ms. Chavez, who spent the entire discussion acting as if the bug up her ass wasn't figurative.

The movie, incidentally, was edited prior to its airing--Brolin/Reagan now says nothing to Davis/Reagan as the latter makes a solid case for why he SHOULD say or do something. Which is apparently not good enough for the likes of Ms. Linda, who had the temerity to suggest that a cabinet briefing in 1985 (which apparently was never acted upon, and certainly not publicized at the time) is indicative of R. Reagan's pro-active agenda on the crisis--nevermind that the CDC was urging action to be taken as early as 1982.

But, as I say often, this is a digression. The point to be made is that the movie is just that--a movie. Kalb and Sesno notwithstanding--both 'journalists' suggested their own work was moot, i.e., the public might view the movie as history, instead of drama--the fact is that historical figures are often made into dramatic characters. Mr. Anthony, who otherwise was unmemorable, made just this point--do we holler at William Shakespeare because of inaccuracies in his historical plays? Of course not. And televised drama, even drama featuring figures in recent history, should be viewed as drama. Chavez, Cannon, and Anderson wanted a documentary--and not just any documentary, but a documentary that serves to further their aims of eventually adding the Ronald to Mt. Rushmore, or the ten dollar bill--indeed, to something in each of the fifty States...and they're throwing a collective hissy fit because the figure whom they worship might, in actuality, be a human, and, horrors, a flawed human at that.

You know, I don't object to hero worship, even if I tend to avoid it these days--"heroes" of mine whom I've met often turned out to be quite human, and any worshipful tone of conversation tended to cheapen the meeting anyway--but if that rocks someone's boat, good. But it's a fine line between such adulation and blind zeal to sanctify for all. Often, you get the dangerous tendency to believe your own propaganda--which should be avoided at all costs. In the case of the Reagan MOVIE--that's right, MOVIE, not documentary, not biography, not term paper, thesis, or dissertation--the carping about every minor detail is indicative of how the right these days is not merely annoying but completely asinine.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Gertrude Ederle 1905-2003

I first read about her in a children's book many years ago. Her obituary adds details.

Via Atrios.

Summary: A teacher at an elementary school in Lafayette punished a second-grade student for telling his friend that his parents are lesbians. Actually, the child used gay to describe the relationship between his mother and her partner. The child was forced to arrive early and write lines ("I will never use the word 'gay' in school again") for an entire week.

johnx provides school details in comments.

I've sent email to the principal and counselor.

Equal rights without regard to sexual orientation is just that: equal rights. It's not don't-ask-don't-tell. The kid's answer to his friend's question showed far more maturity than the teacher or principal--both of whom should be required to atone for their ridiculous action...

Maybe they should be required to write lines. My suggestion is "I will learn to be more accepting and tolerent of all individuals in modern society."

And the school system should consider conseling for these people.

Update: Here's a link to the entire AP story.
I'll be posting for real a little later, but I wanted to put something down just for the sake of good habits. The vacation from web logging was nice, but I didn't set this up to be a once-in-a-while project.

Have also been a little out of the loop on current events--that's what happens when you spend a few days away from an Internet connection.

My car survived the trip to New Iberia--just barely. There is a problem with the transmission which prevents it from shifting into overdrive on the highway, so I was stuck going between 55 and 60 for the round trip. On the way down, that wasn't much of a problem. The heavy rains and high winds made for treacherous driving conditions. Driving back was fine, weather-wise, but other factors made for issues.

Other factors=the large number of ignorant drivers here in Louisiana--between tailgating, not maintaining safe clearance when passing, and just plain driving too damn fast for the conditions (watched a couple of people spin out on Highway 90 aka Blood Alley on Thursday). You'd think flood conditions (more than a half foot of standing water in some places) would impress upon folks the necessity of adjustments for weather. But, as my sister noted, too many people use their squirrel-brain once behind the wheel.

I told her that was a terrible insult to squirrels...