Sunday, November 30, 2003
el - Of course if you read me from before the war you would know that Saddam's 'real nuclear bombmaker' said Iraq had quit it's nuclear program in 1991. He couldn't get most U.S. media to listen. "Emerging from low profile" indeed. Even now less than 30,000 people have read my site.
I had been noticing I couldn't get to some of my archives. I found it trying to investigate any reasons why four weeks ago was my top week. It was hard to see if this was general Blogspot flakiness or something else.
Finally, I realized that the archived days I could usually go to all had no images on them.
My putting on images has been controversial as it uses the hosting site's bandwidth. I justified it by always providing links to the site - where the link image could be thought of as advertising, and by only using commercial site images. Well, perhaps blogspot doesn't like it and won't retrieve the archived pages now. Oddly, some with images show up in google cache.
The problem is I know of no way of correcting this, if this is not just Blogspot being flaky today. If you want archived pages that happened to have images you can't get there from my daily archive index. You will have to try google and use the cache which has about 270 of my 394 archives, some with images!
This is better than Google's Internet Archive Wayback Machine which has only four views of my main page and where the last view of the archive page was February 15.
I am still investigating this and don't know how my Search box is affected.
Added - it is partially Blogspot being flaky, some days where I get 'page not found' will come up if I manually type the url. This includes October 24, 2003 that had two images - I just removed one - and other days with no images.
Still more added: it seems it is general flakiness of blogspot. Clicking on archived day will sometimes generate a 'page not found error.' Often you can get to it directly, easiest by clicking on a day that does work and then inserting the correct date in the url. Search works the same way, sometimes clicking the day from the archive will generate the 'page not found' error. No solution except trying the date manually if it says not found. Today - Monday - Most days are fine, sometimes they generate file not found. This will take a while but I will republish the entire archives to try to correct the links. -- Worked.
Kerry vs. Kerry - He's schizoid about Medicare. By Timothy Noah
Kerry boasts on his Web site that he "has the courage to take on special interests to get health care costs under control." In the Nov. 24 presidential debate in Iowa, Kerry called the just-passed Medicare prescription-drug bill a "special interest giveaway" containing "$139 billion worth of slush fund money that's going to go directly to the drug companies." Kerry criticized the Medicare bill for, among other things, not allowing the federal government "to actually negotiate bulk purchases for states, which would lower prices."
el - Kerry vows to get "health care costs under control" but then attacks Dean for not promising unrestricted growth in Medicare. I originally didn't support Kerry because every time I saw him talk about Iraq he bought into the Cheney lies, since then I realize he is an old-style promise the voters anything politician.
The Observer -- Generating controversy:
'The administration's actions are having the opposite effect by erasing the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons. Russia has already indicated that it will develop new "tactical" weapons in response and no one doubts our enemies will follow suit.'
'Why are they even talking about this now, unless something is planned? It makes no sense to us. America has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but it did not stop 9/11.'
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Expressed by readers at CalPundit.
Libertarianism has two virtues for its adherents, folks who tend to have a high degree of spacial, analytical intelligence and an extremely low degree of empathetic, emotional intelligence:
1. It is simple and clean, architecturally speaking. It offers a small set of building-block axioms with which you can construct political positions--like legos!
2. It makes a virtue of saying "leave me alone," which is what you say when real, messy, emotional interactions with other people baffle and unsettle you. "Just leave me my bubble where I have complete autonomy and no ambiguous obligations." -
The libertarian types I've known have all *thought* they controlled their own destinies, and they all thought they got where they were strictly through their own personal efforts, no relation to the state of society, tax-supported public schools and universities, public highways, anything like that. But why do so many of them work for one or another government agency?
* No government agency has ever asked me to pee in a cup or tried to tell me what sorts of jobs I could take. Private employers, on the other hand, have asked me to take drug tests and sign insane non-compete agreements. In actual practice, the worst threats to my liberty have involved pointy-haired bosses, lawyers, and economic recessions.
Okay, the from-first-principles argument may lead to some economic theories of questionable morality, but it also leads to a firm humanist position on individual social freedoms. (Not all Libertarians are in it for the abolish-the-tax-code stand, I promise.)
If you care about getting more people in your corner to take on the Bush juggernaut -- as you should -- then start from those points of agreement, hold the line on a principled social stance, ACLU style, and gradually chisel away at the economic theory fortress with real-world facts and a solid demonstration that getting the government out of capitalism doesn't always make us freer, happier, or less ripped off.
One hard-left friend of mine in particular has done this patiently to me for a year or two now, and it's really starting to sink in. It also helps, I suppose, that I've been living in California and seeing what a disaster the "starve the beast" stance has become when put into practice.
Both religion and libertarianism impose and reduce rather than remaining open and receptive. Both settle for impoverishment while surrounded by riches.
I looked around and realized that the people I truly admired, the ones who were happiest and who created the most good in the world, were those guided by the instinct to be generous and forgiving rather than the instinct to be correct and consistent at all times. They focused less on what they had to do, on duties and laws, and more on what could do, on what uptight male philosophers call "superogatory" acts. They viewed living among people, in a community and a culture, being bound by a whole web of obligations and restraints, as comforting, not as a drag. They enjoyed being rooted rather than longing for some sort of ideal, airy, unbound--and ultimately empty--libertarian 'freedom'.
Number of `Nones,' Those Who Claim No Religion, Swells in U.S.
Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade, to nearly 30 million. Organized as a religious denomination, they would trail only Catholics and Baptists in members.
They are the "nones," named for their response to a question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion, if any?"
Some nones are atheists, others agnostics, still others self-styled dabblers in a variety of faiths and philosophies. Despite their discomfort with organized religion, many consider themselves quite spiritual.
Nones are especially prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon and Washington, where 21 percent and 25 percent, respectively, claim no particular faith, nones outnumber any single religious category.
"If people are interested in hiking on Sunday morning rather than going to church, that's fine. The culture won't say that's unacceptable. In fact, the culture will say that's perfectly acceptable," said Mark Shibley, a sociologist at Southern Oregon University who has studied and written about nones.
"If anyone in the Bible Belt learns you're a none," said Betsy Lampe, 46, a none from Lakeland, Fla., "they immediately and mistakenly believe that you're either a Satan worshipper or a communist and treat you as such."
Whatever the reason, nones grew from 8 percent of the U.S. population in 1990 to more than 14 percent in 2001.
Young people are more likely to profess no religion. One in three nones is less than 30 years old compared with one in five of all survey respondents. More are single (29 percent) than the adult population as a whole (20 percent). Fifty-nine percent are male. Their education level (23 percent college graduates) is virtually the same as the national average for adults. Seventeen percent are Republicans, 30 percent are Democrats, and 43 percent are independents.
Many nones believe in God. Nearly half "agreed strongly" that God exists. "It is more accurate to describe them as unaffiliated than as non-believers," said Ariela Keysar, study director of the American Religious Identification Survey.
[Catharine Lamm] likes the potential of a new term -- "bright" -- coined to describe people with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. The word has gained popularity through a July op-ed piece in The New York Times arguing for its use.
Leonard, a publicist who works in New York City, came to see religion as "death insurance." She's not willing to pay the premiums.
"I don't worry about it," she said. "I look at it and say, `OK, I know I'm living the best life I can here and now. If nothing happens after I die, fine.
el - I have pagan friends, but I just call myself a heretic. My original headline said Evil but I learned sarcasm doesn't always come across well over the internet.
The White House uses a rotating system for a pool that includes newspaper, wire-service and television reporters when the president travels, but even news executives were uncertain yesterday whether the standard procedures had been followed.
Robert Novak -- Smith, self term-limited, is leaving Congress. His lawyer son Brad is one of five Republicans seeking to replace him from a GOP district in Michigan's southern tier. On the House floor, Nick Smith was told business interests would give his son $100,000 in return for his father's vote. When he still declined, fellow Republican House members told him they would make sure Brad Smith never came to Congress. After Nick Smith voted no and the bill passed, Duke Cunningham of California and other Republicans taunted him that his son was dead meat.
The bill providing prescription drug benefits under Medicare would have been easily defeated by Republicans save for the most efficient party whip operation in congressional history. Although President Bush had to be awakened to collect the last two votes, Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Majority Whip Roy Blunt made it that close. ''DeLay the Hammer'' on Saturday morning was hammering fellow conservatives.
Republicans voting against the bill were told they were endangering their political futures. Major contributors warned Rep. Jim DeMint they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina. A Missouri state legislator called Rep. Todd Akin to threaten a primary challenge against him.
Intense pressure, including a call from the president, was put on freshman Rep. Tom Feeney. As speaker of the Florida House, he was a stalwart for Bush in his state's 2000 vote recount. He is the Class of 2002's contact with the House leadership, marking him as a future party leader. But now, in those early morning hours, Feeney was told a ''no'' vote would delay his ascent into leadership by three years -- maybe more.
el - the old conservative GOP perspective on the new GOP. FYI - Novak is on my better-off-dead list. More about that soon.
Noam Chomsky -- Recall that the self-appointed rulers of the world -- Bush, Powell, and the rest -- had declared forthrightly that they intended to carry out their war whether or not the United Nations (UN) or anyone else "catches up" and "becomes relevant." Old Europe, mired in irrelevance, did not catch up. Neither did New Europe, at least if people are part of their countries.
Poll results available from Gallup International, as well as local sources for most of Europe, West and East, showed that support for a war carried out "unilaterally by America and its allies" did not rise above 11 percent in any country. Support for a war if mandated by the UN ranged from 13 percent (Spain) to 51 percent (Netherlands).
Particularly interesting are the eight countries whose leaders declared themselves to be the New Europe, to much acclaim for their courage and integrity. Their declaration took the form of a statement calling on the Security Council to ensure "full compliance with its resolutions," without specifying the means.
Their announcement threatened "to isolate the Germans and French," the press reported triumphantly, though the positions of New and Old Europe were in fact scarcely different. To ensure that Germany and France would be "isolated," they were not invited to sign the bold pronouncement of New Europe -- apparently for fear that they would do so, it was later quietly indicated.
Happily for Washington, former communist countries too joined New Europe. Within them, support for the "United States' view," as defined by Powell -- namely, war by the "coalition of the willing" without UN authorization -- ranged from 4 percent (Macedonia) to 11 percent (Romania).
Support for a war even with a UN mandate was also very low. Latvia's former foreign minister explained that we have to "salute and shout, 'Yes sir.' . . . We have to please America no matter what the cost."
Most of the windfall from both fiscal years is packed into the 12 months that started last summer and will end next summer. Not surprisingly, this front-loading of the tax cuts coincides with the improving economy. But then the payout declines gradually, snuffing out the stimulus - unless there is another big tax cut.
A big chunk of the $200 billion will come to people as tax refund checks in the next six months - a timely shot in the arm in a presidential election year. Then the shrinking begins as the tax cuts run their course. For fiscal 2005, which starts next Oct. 1, just a month before the election, the tax windfall for individuals will total only $168 billion.
The $117 billion in fiscal 2003 gives birth to only $40 billion in effective stimulus. Much more of the cuts, perhaps every nickel, would have been spent if the money had been channeled to the states instead, to pay the salaries of teachers who were fired to balance budgets. The economy surged in the third quarter, but as Mr. Slemrod notes, "the tax cuts were not a major part of that growth.''
Molly Ivins -- Wow! Not one, but two huge, horrible, last-minute life-changing bills, and the second is even worse than the first! Record-shattering bad legislation immediately eclipsed by record-shattering bad legislation. These Republicans have talent: It is not easy to do this much damage to people's lives with a straight face and that unctuous air of piety.
Oh, and as for you senior citizens who believed that amusing little claim that you would all benefit from this bill -- suckers! According to Public Citizen, pharmaceutical companies have given $44 million since 1999 -- 78 percent to Republicans, 22 percent to Democrats -- and spent millions more hiring an army of lobbyists that physically outnumbers the 535 members of Congress. The Health Reform Program of Boston University estimates that of the bill's $400 billion price tag, $139 billion will go to increase drug-company profits over eight years, a 38 percent increase in what is already the world's most profitable industry.
But forget about the Medicare bill -- it won't take effect until 2006 anyway, so you won't even notice what it does ‘til them. Regard the even more amazing energy bill. In case you haven't been keeping up (and you do have to race to keep up), there is a gasoline additive called MTBE that has polluted groundwater across the country. So naturally, the Republicans have put in a provision that would limit the liability of the manufacturers of MTBE -- that means you can't sue them for ruining the water -- and the bill would give the companies up to $2 billion in federal aid.
No wonder the energy companies have given over $71 million in contributions to politicians, over 80 percent to Republicans, since 1999. They're getting a $20 billion return on that little investment just in direct subsidies, and there is much more in the bill in indirect subsidies. Folks, it is time to get serious about fixing this system.
David Brooks - The Democrats, meanwhile, behave just as the Republicans did when they were stuck in the minority. They complain about their outrageous mistreatment by the majority. They are right to complain. The treatment is outrageous. But the complaints only communicate weakness.
Circa 1975 it seemed that the club of nations with decent living standards was no longer accepting new members.
Now we know that the club isn't that exclusive, after all. South Korea and several smaller Asian economies have made a full transition to modernity. China is still a poor country, but it has made astonishing progress. And there are signs of an economic takeoff in at least parts of India. I'm not talking about arid economic statistics; what we've seen over the past generation is an enormous, unexpected improvement in the human condition.
How was this improvement achieved? Whenever I give talks about my latest book, someone asks whether I still believe in free trade. The answer is yes — not because I have any fond feelings about multinational corporations, but because every one of those development success stories was based on export-led growth. And that growth is possible only if rising economies can expand into new markets.
Latin America has signally failed to replicate Asia's success: Latin nations have liberalized, privatized and deregulated, with results ranging from disappointing (Mexico) to catastrophic (Argentina). Open world markets, it seems, offer the possibility of economic development — but not an easy, universal recipe.
Meanwhile, competition from newly industrializing economies does hurt some workers in advanced countries. I could tell you how sensible government policies could minimize this cost, but since we don't have those policies and aren't about to get them, free trade is, in reality, a morally ambiguous issue.
Yet I keep coming back to the big good news of the past 25 years: in a world with more or less free trade, development is possible. We are not, it turns out, condemned to live forever on a planet where only a small minority of the global population has a decent standard of living.
Will this good news continue? Growing tensions over world trade worry me. The steady trickle of U.S. protectionist moves, against everything from steel to Chinese bras, hasn't yet become a torrent. But there's a definite sense that the grown-ups have left the building.
I was on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Reagan administration (those were nonpolitical jobs back then); one thing I remember was that if the experts said a proposed trade restriction violated international trade law, that was that. By contrast, just about every protectionist step taken by the Bush administration has been clearly in violation. And if the major economic powers stop honoring the rules that preserve open global markets, the chances of future development in poor nations will be much reduced.
But none of this cancels the fact that over the past 25 years more people have seen greater material progress than ever before in history. That's something to celebrate.
He Ain't Kinky, He's My Governor
As a campaign slogan, it leaves something to be desired: "Why the hell not?"
Anyway, the job — heavy on ceremony in Texas, where the real power lies in the lieutenant governor's authority to control the Senate agenda — does not daunt the curly-mopped Mr. Friedman, whose real name is Richard and who gives his age as 59, though adding, "I read at the 61-year level." Given those who have come before him, he said, "how hard could it be?"
Still, garbed in cowboy black, bearing a large silver Star of David on a chain and tooling around in an old white Nissan pickup with a Don Quixote statuette on the dashboard and chewed stubs of Cuban cigars in the ashtray, Mr. Friedman does acknowledge some ambivalence about his quest. This is his second run for elected office; in the first, he campaigned in 1986 for justice of the peace in nearby Kerrville, where "my fellow Kerrverts returned me to the private sector."
This is a man who, once he makes up his mind, is riven by indecision. So, he is often asked, is he serious? "Serious is not a word I would use, because I'm never serious," he said. "Some things are too important to be taken seriously." But, he said, "an alarming number of people think I could win."
Disdaining computers and the Internet as "the work of Satan," he writes it on an electric typewriter, rarely revising as he goes. (Thanks to a computer-literate friend, he does, however, maintain a sophisticated Web site, www.kinkyfriedman.com.)
His new campaign, he said, has won some encouragement from President Bush, a previous occupant of the Statehouse, whom Mr. Friedman calls a great admirer of his books, mostly comic mysteries with titles like "The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover." He quoted the president as calling Mr. Friedman his favorite fiction writer. " 'Course," he said, "George is not all that voracious a reader." He said Mr. Bush had also volunteered to be his "one-man focus group" for the campaign.
At a recent White House dinner, Mr. Friedman indeed told the president that he was running, the official said, but Mr. Bush replied that he could not endorse him until he knew Mr. Friedman's platform.
That, Mr. Friedman said, is an easy one. He wants to make the declawing of cats illegal.
"People who think this is frivolous should come back as a cat," he said. "I'd be a Buddhist, except for Richard Gere."
He was originally for the war in Iraq, he said, and argued with Willie Nelson about it. "He's a tyrannical bully," he told Mr. Nelson, "and we got to take him out."
"No," he says Mr. Nelson objected, "he's our president, and we got to stick by him."
In a Friedman administration, he said, Mr. Nelson would lead the Texas Rangers, unless he was called to Washington to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The campaign has won the support of the author Molly Ivins, who inspired his slogan when she asked why he was running. "Why the hell not?" he replied.
Ms. Ivins said in an interview, "I'm a great believer in entertainment in politics," adding that Texas had a tradition of singing governors. Mr. Friedman may not have much of a shot, she said, "but it's clear he's running, because he recently straightened his hair."
The success of his music and writing career has left him free to devote time to his Utopia Rescue Ranch, which shares the 500 acres of the summer camp left him by his parents and is a haven for some 60 homeless dogs, cats, donkeys, pigs and chickens. He supports it with fund-raisers, including one recently with the first lady, Laura Bush, and profits from his new Politically Incorrect brands of salsa and coffee.
His political campaign is a no-lose proposition, he said: "I'll either come out of it with a book, a wife or be governor."
Beliefnet had this interesting article.
Myth 1: Evangelicals all vote Republican.
People often confuse the words "fundamentalist" and "evangelical." Fundamentalists are very conservative and almost entirely Republican because they view the deterioration of traditional morality as the primary public policy crisis. But fundamentalists are a subset of evangelicals, which is a more diverse group.
There are about 8 million to 10 million [moderate evengelicals]. This group went for Bill Clinton 55 percent to 45 percent over Dole in 1996 and 55 percent to 45 percent for W. over Gore in 2000. That's a swing of about a million votes.
Myth 2: The religious right flooded the polls for George W. Bush in 2000.
Turnout among the members of the "religious right" (that's the goofy way pollsters make people self-identify) was 56 percent, says Green, only slightly higher than the national average-and actually lower than that of devout Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Jews.
Myth 3: Bush's religion talk has appealed to his base but has alienated moderate swing voters.
Myth 4: In this era, no candidate would lose votes just based on his or her religion.
The groups with the most political baggage were atheists, evangelicals, and Muslims.
Myth 5: Most religious extremists are in the GOP. --
Statistically speaking, secular people (atheists, agnostics, etc.) are extreme, too, in the sense that they are well outside the public opinion norm. They tend to be Democrats.
Myth 6: Hispanics are conservative.
Professor Green has found a big difference between Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic Protestants, with the latter group more conservative than the former. American Hispanic Catholics, it turns out, aren't that religious. Professors Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio put voters into three groups according to religious intensity-"traditionalists," "moderates," and "secularists." Only 10 percent of Hispanics turned out to be traditionalists-this fraction in the African-American community was much larger. So, Republicans shouldn't assume that issues like abortion will lure large numbers of Hispanic Catholics.
Myth 7: The key to the Catholic vote is abortion.
John Kennedy beat Nixon among Catholics by 54 percentage points, and Hubert Humphrey beat Nixon by 26 points; but Reagan won them by 21 points, and from that day forward Catholics were "in play." Clinton won them by 20 points in 1996, but Gore did by only 6 points. So, figuring out how to appeal to swing Catholics is important. For Bush, then, it's important that he still tout "compassionate conservatism," not so much to appeal to conservative evangelicals as to appeal to swing Catholics.
So far Republicans have been far more sophisticated at understanding religious voting patterns than Democrats have. I suspect it's because religion gives the willies to a lot of secular liberals, who just happen to be the folks who run political campaigns and cover them for the media.
Former Vice President Al Gore told college students last night that the Bush administration is ''using fear as a political tool'' unworthy of the presidency.
''For the president of the United States to claim in a television ad that those who disagreed with the decision to go to war with Iraq are against attacking terrorists is a disgrace,'' said Gore, who lost the 2000 election to President Bush.
''It is a cheap and petty political tactic not worthy of the presidency. It is something you would find in a down-and-dirty sleazy campaign for city council,'' Gore added, drawing laughs from the partisan crowd at Middle Tennessee State University.
''I'm concerned (Bush) is turning out to be a divider, not a uniter,'' Gore told MTSU students and those participating in the 90-minute discussion via satellite at about 30 colleges.
During the discussion, which centered on race and democracy, Gore said it is outrageous that some Arab-Americans have been seized and thrown into prison because one person, Bush, has decided they are enemy combatants.
Spinsanity reviews the issue and says conservative pundits are spinning and "ignore questions about the reliability of the evidence contained in the memo, and unfairly generalize what the evidence suggests. In such a heated debate, commentators must note caveats about such information and fairly represent it to the public rather than making sweeping claims that distort the facts."
Christopher Scheer in the LA Times goes further - 'Evidence' for Link Is Administration Ploy
The leak and publication of the Feith memo, which selectively presented a few dozen raw intelligence items plucked from more than a decade of debriefings by national and foreign intelligence agencies, not only shows a certain desperation on the part of the administration to shore up support for the occupation, but it also fits squarely into the cynical pattern of abusing Americans' trust we have seen since 9/11.
"This is made to dazzle the eyes of [those] not terribly educated" about intelligence methods, said Greg Thielmann, a longtime veteran of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence who retired in late 2002.
For those who have watched this pattern, the modus operandi is familiar: Leak to the media or place in speeches intelligence nuggets of questionable value — aluminum tubes, Nigerian uranium, the undocumented Prague meeting — then retreat when pressed. Keep the story alive in the friendly pockets of the media, like William Safire's column or Fox News. When the factoid's cracks start showing, replace it with a new one. Repeat as needed.
Feith, who has been playing the cherry-picking role as an amateur intelligence chief for two years, could have just as easily gone into the mountains of intelligence data assembled every year to paint a picture of the much stronger links between Al Qaeda and the Saudi royal house, for example, or the Pakistani intelligence agency — both from nations that are our allies.
Al Qaeda didn't need Iraq to pull off 9/11 or any of its other savage attacks, and even if all the anonymous statements in Feith's memo panned out, there still would be no evidence Iraq significantly aided the extremists. We are, whatever the neocons might want us to believe, waging the wrong war in the wrong way.
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, hawks and doves alike had a tough time encouraging citizens to take any pedestrian, non-heroic action, without warning that if these actions weren't taken, the terrorists will have won. Over the summer, as we were continuously assured by the administration that the bad guys were desperate and on the run, we could not turn on our television sets without hearing that "the noose is tightening."
Now, the most fashionable pre-fab rationalization to use when the news isn't going as swimmingly as we want it to, is to select a place in Iraq, then a corresponding place in America. If the two places start with the same letter, all the better. Next, state baldly that no matter how lousy things are going, you'd rather fight the terrorists / Baathists / whoever-it-is-we're-fighting in the first location, rather than the second. Lastly, sit back with a self-satisfied smile, as if that settles the matter.
Once you get the hang of the Where You'd Like to Fight The Terrorists game, it's easy to play, and lots of fun. Let's try it. Match the Iraqi cities where you'd rather fight the terrorists on the left to the U.S. cities where you don't want to fight the terrorists on the right. Then, check out the answer key below and see how good a terrorist-fighter you are.
(A) Umm Qasr.......................... (1) Kansas City, MO
(B) Nasiriyah............................ (2) Tifton, GA
(C) Karbala.............................. (3) Umnak, AL
(D) Basra................................. (4) Nacogdoches, TX
(E) Tikrit................................... (5) Beaver Falls, PA
A little practice, and you'll know exactly what to do if you find yourself down-wind on some Sunday morning gasbag show. Whenever the Iraq catastrophe of the day is brought up, just look the moderator in the eye, and tell him that you'd rather fight the terrorists in Salman Pak than in the Salmon River of Idaho. That you'd rather fight the terrorists in Safwan than San Antonio.
For there's two things to keep in mind when declaring where in Iraq you'd rather fight the terrorists.
The first, is that we're not altogether sure we are fighting terrorists, in the al-Qaeda sense of the word. As Newsweek recently reported in a piece entitled "War In the Dark," "what the Americans don't know is who, exactly, they're fighting." In a week in which four suicide-bombing attacks in Baghdad killed more than 30 people, one general told reporters "that the attacks were the work of 'foreign fighters.' Yet just 24 hours earlier his division commander . . . told a news conference that he had not seen 'any infusion of foreign fighters in Baghdad.'" A recent Washington Post story reported that at one Baghdad briefing, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, in the dark himself as to the identity of the guerillas, said that 90 percent of the fighters the U.S. had killed or captured were Hussein loyalists or Iraqi religious militants--and only 10 percent were freelancers from abroad. Meaning that, according to his calculations, there's a decent chance that if we weren't fighting these particular terrorists in Babylon, we wouldn't be fighting them in Bakersfield.
The second thing to remember, for most of the people declaring where they'd rather fight the terrorists, is that they are not personally doing much of the fighting.
George Packer writes in a painful reminder from Baghdad, "All the soldiers suffer from the stress of heat, long days, lack of sleep, homesickness, the constant threat of attack . . . and the simple fact that there are nowhere near enough of them to do the tasks they've been given."
Not to mention the fact that nearly 200 of them have been killed since major combat operations ended. Fight the terrorists where you will. But it's probably best to avoid diminishing the sacrifice of soldiers, by burying them with respectful silence, rather than with idiotic clichés.
Friday, November 28, 2003
On the campaign trail, Dean's throw-down-the-gauntlet mantra is woven with another message, one strikingly different in tone, that preaches the virtue of community and the evil of corporate behemoths unconcerned, he says, with the collective good.
"Bigger and bigger corporations might mean more efficiency, but there is something about human beings that corporations can't deal with, and that's our soul, our spirituality, who we are," Dean told a breakfast crowd in Sidney, Iowa. "We need to find a way in this country to understand and to help each other understand that there is a tremendous price to be paid for the supposed efficiency of big corporations. The price is losing the sense of who we are as human beings."
Dean's message is tactically sharp, capturing what his campaign believes could be an important factor in the 2004 presidential election: Americans' anxiety about the future -- about jobs and financial security -- born of corporate mistrust and an attendant craving for more control over their lives.
The message dovetails with a larger critique of "special interests" -- a loosely-defined group of rich, powerful, entrenched corporations, institutions, and lobbyists -- that virtually all the Democratic presidential hopefuls have been assailing. In California, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned against special interests in unseating Gray Davis as governor.
Dean, in particular, has used the anti-special interests idea as a battering ram. At a rally in Houston this month, the former governor of Vermont railed against the bankrupt Enron and called for greater regulation of industry.
But in the quieter settings, Dean often launches into the theme of uncontrolled power to highlight social policy issues. He points out the importance of structuring the sale of Canadian drugs in the United States without enriching middlemen, so that Main Street pharmacies can be saved. He talks of the need to do away with "No Child Left Behind" legislation, to give control back to local school boards.
Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, insists Dean's call for community is not a message dreamed up by political consultants. "He was talking about how we had lost a sense of community in this country," Trippi recalled of a talk Dean gave in Iowa last spring, one he said propelled him to sign on to the campaign. "How it's not good enough for me to want health care for my kid. We as Americans have a responsibility to fight for every kid in this country to have health insurance."
Dean points to a visit of his own to Iowa as the genesis of the theme, recalling the eureka moment at a recent brunch with reporters, "I couldn't believe that here was this solid group of Iowans and they are not ranting and raving . . . about evil corporations. They were just calmly telling me the underpinnings of their lives were collapsing under them.
"There was a fundamental fear for the future. They felt that American corporations weren't American anymore and the people they work for didn't value them. They could move their jobs anywhere in the world for the bottom line. It was a complete revelation to me."
Of course, she can always have me. I'm told I'm cheap.
He is, I surmise, a tough and savvy politician of the old school--a shrewd, intuitive pol who develops his own sense of where the people are and where events are likely to take public opinion, then has the guts to act on his perceptions. That approach--leading, it's called--seems dangerously unscientific in this era of high-quality polling and focus groups, the data interpreted for politicians by expensive consultants. The press corps has not had much experience with Democrats of this type, so reporters read Dean's style as emotional, possibly a character flaw. He reminds me of olden days when Democrats were a more contentious bunch, always fighting noisily among themselves and often with creative results.
The explanation that Washington candidates voted for the war on principle or were misled by Bush doesn't help them. Their blindness to the potential consequences (now unfolding) is another reason to be for Dean. He, meanwhile, speaks plainly to the error of US imperialism. "America is not Rome. We do not dream of empire. We dream of liberty for all."
The man also stands his ground in a fight. When someone jabs him, he jabs back. Pundits describe this quality as dangerous, and no doubt it gets him into trouble occasionally, but what a refreshing departure from the rope-a-dope calculations of the Clinton era. This trait is what I like about him most. In my experience, it's more revealing than a politician's positions on issues. With issues, Dean is pretty much what he says: a middle-of-the-road moderate, neither left nor right, though middle in Vermont is liberal ground.
Dean is opening the possibility of transforming politics--shaking up the tired, timid old order, inviting plain-wrapper citizens back into an active role--and that's why so many people, myself included, are for him. Full disclosure: I am among the throngs who have been invited to contribute "forward-looking ideas" to his campaign (I was flattered to be asked and pleased to oblige, with no naïve expectations).
Dean, I suspect, learned in the up-close-and-personal politics of Vermont that you don't win elections by keeping the people at a safe distance. You can't do it in that state, even if you try.
Washington's smugness was shattered in the past few weeks as Dean picked up pathbreaking endorsements from Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and SEIU and AFSCME, the two largest unions and heads-up, aggressive organizations. Dean continues to up the ante for his rivals--calling for reregulation of key industries and confronting the concentrated power of corporations and wealth. These are solid liberal ideas others are afraid to express so directly. The guy is a better politician than the insiders imagined, indeed better attuned to this season than they are.
"Electoral raid on Baghdad" read the caustic headline in the left-wing Paris daily Liberation which summed up European newspaper editorial reaction to President George W Bush's Thanksgiving Day visit to US troops in Iraq.
As the Arabic media saw the secrecy of Bush's visit as a sign of weakness amid spiraling violence in Iraq, newspapers in Israel said the stunt was bound to help the US president's ratings in opinion polls that had been falling alarmingly.
President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq was the talk of Baghdad's teahouses, kebab shops and mosques Friday, with many Iraqis asking why he didn't take advantage of his trip to see firsthand how his rule has treated them.
Many complained that Bush met with few Iraqis during his secret, two-hour stay Thursday evening and never left the grounds of a heavily fortified U.S. base. Several called the trip an electoral stunt, and took offense that he would use their country as his stage.
Bush's biggest threat is the anger American's feel over government and the direction of the country.
Schwarzenegger's campaign song was "We're Not Gonna Take It;" Clinton's was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." Democrats need to craft a message that includes both themes in order to tap into one of the most powerful forces in American politics.
Voters who frequently attend religious services tilt 63-37 percent to Bush and those who never attend lean 62-38 percent toward Democrats.
President Bush is a churchgoing Christian who often mixes theology with public policies ranging from the war on terrorism to a ban on a specific type of late-term abortion. (el - Sorry, he doesn't often attend church. He is surrounded by a chruch-going staff but he himself goes only several times a year)
In contrast, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, said recently that he prayed privately, but quit being an Episcopalian in a dispute with his parish over a bike path, recently linked God with guns and gays in a list of issues that shouldn't influence voting and doesn't regularly attend church. Nor do most of his chief rivals.
Lieberman, who does speak the language of faith and religion, said his party should set aside its aversion to religion and embrace it as a message harmonious with its core principles. But he insisted that any such stance must be born of principle, not politics.
"I didn't become religious because of a focus group," he said. "I have a sense of mission. ... Republicans act as if they have a monopoly on values or faith-based values. They don't."
Orcinus had a long essay on what is happening on wingnut blogs.
His more recent entry is about his political evolution and how conservatism has morphed from old-fashioned solid values to rampant corporatism with increasingly fascist overtones. He has many conservative friends and often voted for moderate Republicans. No more, I believe he thinks the GOP has shown it cannot be trusted with power.
"I no longer much trust in the moral strength of my conservative friends. Whereas once I believed that the basic decency of average, mainstream conservatives was more than an adequate bulwark against the possibility of right-wing fascism from ever manifesting itself, I have been forced to conclude that, when swept along by the combination of a movement and the fearmongering of public officials, they are as susceptible to doing the wrong thing as their ancestors were in 1942, when they shipped off 110,000 Japanese Americans to concentration camps."
The Hamster noticed Sen. McCain pointing out the Energy Pork Bill is actually subsidising opening a Hooters restaurant in Louisiana.
"One of my favorite green bond proposals [in the energy bill] is a $150 million riverfront area in Shreveport, LA. This Riverwalk has about 50 stores, a movie theater and a bowling alley. One of the new tenants in this Louisiana Riverwalk is a Hooters restaurant. Yes, my friends. Here we have an energy bill subsidizing both hooters and polluters."
The Hamster also saw that Leno is repeating the episode with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and John Kerry on Friday, FYI. - This was wrong but I was repeating it from the Hamster.
That I wasn't as hated as Bush or suffering his karmic burden. Morford has this and many more reasons to be thankful.
11) Molly Ivins. Gore Vidal. Michiko Kakutani. David Foster Wallace. Don DeLillo. Maureen Dowd. Caroline Myss. W.G. Sebald. Tom Robbins. Starhawk. William Rivers Pitt. Rob Brezny. David Attenborough. Dave Eggers. Joseph Campbell. Lewis Lapham. Haruki Murakami. Katha Pollitt. Et al. Thank you.
14) Here is where you make you own list. Here is where you set aside the cynicism and the sighing and the bitterness, just for a moment, and get quiet, look around, look inside, check the karmic inventory and offer up heaping pies of gratefulness for what you find.
Sure it seems clichéd. Of course you don't need some holiday to be deeply thankful for the radiance in your life. But, hey, an opportunity is an opportunity. Just remember, big meaty drumsticks of general gratitude are absolutely fine. But the divine, personal gravy is where the real flavor is.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that nondefense spending rose 7 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, nearly double the 4 percent discretionary spending caps that President Bush insisted Congress honor.
The $31 billion energy bill also has stalled, largely because many in Congress object to the price tag. The president is itching to get the bill to his desk even though it is four times more expensive than what he had proposed.
Even radio host Rush Limbaugh, an unwavering booster of the president and his policies, told listeners Tuesday that after passing the Medicare bill Republicans no longer can contend they are the party of smaller government.
The two great myths that have settled across the nation, beyond the Hussein-9/11 connection, are that Clinton did not do enough during his tenure to stop the spread of radical terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, and that the attacks themselves could not have been anticipated or stopped.
Starting in 1995, Clinton took actions against terrorism that were unprecedented in American history. He poured billions and billions of dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community. He poured billions more into the protection of critical infrastructure. He ordered massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack. He order a reorganization of the intelligence community itself, ramming through reforms and new procedures to address the demonstrable threat. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure. In 1996, Clinton delivered a major address to the United Nations on the matter of international terrorism, calling it "The enemy of our generation."
In America, few people heard anything about this. Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the massive non-secret actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the dog" tactics.
Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement.
This laundry list of partisan catastrophes goes on and on. Far from being inept on the matter of terrorism, Clinton was profoundly activist in his attempts to address terrorism. Much of his work was foiled by right-wing Congressional conservatives who, simply, refused to accept the fact that he was President.
Had the Bush administration not continued this pattern of gross partisan ineptitude and heeded the blitz of domestic and international warnings, instead of trooping off to Texas for a month-long vacation, had Bush's National Security Advisor done one hour's worth of her homework, we probably would not be in the grotesque global mess that currently envelops us. Never forget that many of the activists who pushed throughout the 1990s for the annihilation of all things Clinton are now foursquare in charge of the country today.
The $400 billion prescription drug plan for Medicare is so flawed that Congress opted out of the plan.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said the law reminded him of the medieval medical practice of leeching. “Every special interest in Washington is attaching itself to this legislation and sucking Medicare dry,” Sen. McCain said in a statement before the bill passed the Senate Tuesday. “We do not need leeching. What we need is reform.”
The big losers are taxpayers. All of the money used to pay for the prescription drug benefit will be borrowed. We’re talking $400 billion over the next decade — for starters. While grandpa might get a break on his Zocor, his grandchildren, and their grandchildren, are going to be paying for it.
Demographics will be shaping the economy in unexpected ways the next twenty years. Business 2.0 had the best article - not available online without a subscription. But Google doesn't let me down. Time has a light look:
Though the average retirement age is creeping up--and a growing share of Americans, by choice or necessity, are planning to work at least part time well past 65--demographers say there still will not be enough qualified members of the next generation to pick up the slack. So with 76 million baby boomers heading toward retirement over the next three decades and only 46 million Gen Xers waiting in the wings, corporate America is facing a potentially mammoth talent crunch. Certainly, labor-saving technology and immigration may help fill the breach. Still, by 2010 there may be a shortage of 4 million to 6 million workers.
Motley Fool Covers the Business 2.0 story here: By 2010, analysts in the article estimate a 5.3 million skilled-employee labor "gap," and the shortfall is estimated to balloon to 21 million by 2020.
el - Of course American business has the answer - outsourcing. My brother at Kinko's says they are now going to eliminate over a thousand position and sent computer graphics to India.
Also remember, if this link lasts: Last time there was a labor shortage as deep as the one that looms today, the peasants revolted.
The official story of the assassination remains pretty much unchanged from just a few days after events of forty years ago: one man with an almost broken-down rifle, no expertise, no resources, and no motive killed the President, and he was himself killed by a man with the darkest background simply out of sympathy for the President's wife. Those with no vested interest and critical faculties intact can never accept such a fable explaining the brutal work of a well-planned conspiracy.
If you can write false history of an event so large as a Presidential assassination, what truly are the limits?
el - Part of how I spent Thanksgiving evening was talking with my brother about the showing on the History Channel of the six hours of The Men Who Killed Kennedy. I reached the conclusion before 1974 that Oswald could not have killed Kennedy based on a Dan Rather hosted television investigation that was supposed to prove he had. The best evidence they could come up with to even make it possible for Oswald to kill the president was that an expert rifleman after much practice was able to use a similar rifle but with a corrected sights to place 3 bullets in moving targets one meter square targetat that distance, ignoring tree leaves, in the amount of time Oswald had. It was a coverup. Since then there is much more evidence that there was an evil conspiracy. I had recorded the History Channel special for him and Amy but the decision to visit him was at the last minute and the tape wasn't available.
You should be able to order the best of the episodes I saw here here - Final Chapter - but comments on both Amazon and other forums says that sales have suddenly been suppressed due to "legal issues." This could relate to Oswald's New Orleans mistress, the mysterious Dallas , or the evidence linking LBJ to the assassination. Other episodes, here or from Amazon here are available.
You might try Blood, Money and Power: How LBJ Killed JFK for a very recent popular book on this subject.
The clitoral stimulator designed by Liz Paul from Ilkley, Yorkshire, offers hope to the estimated five million women in Britain who have trouble reaching orgasm.
The device, called Vielle, is a small plastic stimulator with eight nodules which fits over the finger - picture, news article.
Speaking at the award ceremony in Cafi Royal central London, Mrs Paul said clinical tests had proved the device could halve the time it takes for a woman to climax and intensify the orgasm.
3 for $19.95 includes shipping.
Daniel Kurtzman's Late-Night Political Jokes and Funny Quotes
"Today President Bush pardoned the White House turkey. Of course the turkey had to donate $100,000 to his reelection campaign first." —David Letterman
"The White House announced that this year the president is going to pardon two turkeys this Thanksgiving. He didn't issue that many pardons when he was governor of Texas!" —Jay Leno
"Let's say they do use suicide donkeys, now would that be 'weapons of ass destruction'?" —Jay Leno
"Wait, is he quoting Hamlet? I'll tell you, for a guy who once equated gayness with bestiality, he's sure awfully familiar with the theater." —Jon Stewart, on Sen. Rick Santorum's remarking, "Methinks thou dost protest too much" during the 30-hour Senate filibuster
"Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will refuse his $175,000 salary and will work for free. I believe he will be worth every penny." —Craig Kilborn
The Boston Globe on the late night appearances by candidates:
"Letterman is the Tim Russert of the talk shows. He's the actual test," one Democratic insider says. "On Leno, you can go on and do your bit. Whereas on Letterman, he isn't afraid to ask you legitimately tough questions. He'll do his part to trip you up."
Letterman has done his best to hone that reputation in this new, semiserious phase of his career. His somber post-Sept. 11 interviews made him a sort of national catharsis machine. And his 2000 interview with Republican nominee George W. Bush -- in which he grilled the candidate on the death penalty and the air quality in Texas -- gave him a measure of infamy in the political world.
The Bush interview was "deadly," the equivalent of a harsh grilling on a Sunday news show, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "It is a very, very effective piece of journalism."
A Leno appearance, by contrast, is seen as a chance for shtick -- a place where John F. Kerry sharpened his man-of-the-people chops by riding a motorcycle onstage on Nov. 11. A Kerry adviser says that the Harley spin was the Leno writers' idea and that the show wanted Kerry on for Veterans Day, all good for his campaign message.
But the visit proved that Leno can be devastating, too. Because Kerry, it turned out, was the second-billed guest, following a cigar-chomping, trash-talking puppet named Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. And the dog, voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, delivered a sharper critique of Kerry than any rival is likely to muster. His humor tends to center on dog waste, and this time he compared it to the Kerry campaign's momentum.
In May, Senator Joe Lieberman, who had just announced his presidential bid, came on the air to read a Top Ten list. There were complex negotiations over the wording, a Lieberman aide said, but the results were suitably goofy: Number one was "Look at me. Do you honestly think there'll be a sex scandal?"
And Clark, the first candidate this year to be a full-fledged Letterman guest, went on after the "Top Ten Perks of Being a Playboy Playmate" (number one: "I bought a house with the money I saved on pants") and the guy who hoped to break a world record by balancing beer glasses on his chin.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
From the New York Times -
The New AARP and Novelli
Some Experts Forsee Revolt by Elderly Over Drug Benefits
"There's a real chance of a replay of 1988," said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. "It's a real big risk that backers of this legislation are taking."
The Washington Post has the Most Comprehensive Look At the Details
Average recipient would pay $1,745 for drugs costing $3,245 (estimated drug costs in 2006 for average person on Medicare.)
Article does not discuss non-drug costs parts of the bill. Like the Medicare Part B going up for many people.
CalPundit - BURIED....I noted in passing this morning while reading the LA Times that the story about the theft of Democratic computer files was limited to a Reuters dispatch on page 14. The Washington Post ran a few paragraphs on page 23. And the New York Times also limited itself to wire service copy.
Which lead to this comment -- Kevin, reading all the blogs covering this story, I find myself wondering if we haven't entered a new model for a free democracy. Instead of a free press watching over government and business, we now have free bloggers watching over government, business and the news-entertainment conglomerate. - ch2
It has been noted this is against federal law and they know who did it.
From Atrios ...18 USC 1030(a)(2) fits this perfectly:
"Whoever . . . intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains . . . information from any department or agency of the United States" commits a crime.
"Department or Agency of the United States" is defined in the statute as including "the legislative . . . branch of government."
The penalty for violating 1030(a)(2) can be five years if "the offense was committed in furtherance of any . . . tortious act in violation of the Constitution or law of the United States or of any State."
And the dubbing might violate campaign laws.
When President Bush laid out the potential threat that unconventional weapons posed in Saddam Hussein's hands last year in his State of the Union address last year, he became tongue-tied at an inopportune moment.
The line read, "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate, slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." But Mr. Bush stumbled between the words "one" and "vial." And when at the word vial, he pronounced the "v" as if it were a "w."
Yet in a new Republican commercial that borrows excerpts from that speech, Mr. Bush delivers that line as smoothly as any other in the address, without a pause between "one" and "vial," and the v in "vial" sounds strong and sure.
The difference between the speech and excerpt was noticed by strategists for former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. They saw it as they put together their own advertisement attacking the spot, which presents the Democratic candidates as undermining the fight against terrorism. Word trickled back to Democratic officials, who retrieved the tape and confirmed that there was, indeed, a difference.
The Democrats asked whether the Republican National Committee had gone to the White House with sound equipment to have Mr. Bush recite the line anew for what was the first Republican commercial of the campaign season here. That might have meant that the party was not being truthful when it said it had not coordinated with Mr. Bush when it made the advertisement, a possible violation of law.
If you can't go to Dallas or the 12 other cities across the country for the live class.
The goal of this school is to help as many people as possible with the nuts and bolts of grassroots campaigning. So take a few minutes to survey it, or set aside an hour and go through every course.
For some of you, this information is all new. For others, you may already know it well. Over the coming months we will be adding and changing these courses, so keep coming back and have fun!
Course 1: Reaching Out in Your Community
Figure out who to talk to about the Dean campaign
Course 2: How to Build your Personal Precinct
How to approach your friends and neighbors about Governor Dean
Course 3: Legal Guidelines for Volunteers
What you've got to know when you start telling your friends about Dean
Course 4: Understanding PACs
What you should know before thinking about forming a PAC.
Course 5: GOTV Basics
Understanding the basics of Getting Out The Vote
Course 6: GOTV: Get to know your area
Get to know your area to most effectively get out the vote
Course 7: Outreach Events
Organize supporters effectively to pound the pavement for Governor Dean
Course 8: Speaking up for Dean
Talking points for the front lines: responding to questions and challenges
The Houston Press, Houston's metropolitan independent weekly, has an article on Dean and the Dean rally. The Houston Chronicle, in fact all of Houston media, buried or ignored the rally. There was an excuse. Houston was recovering from flooding and tornadoes the night before. As if that doesn't happen at least twice a year. Well, the weather did disrupt most of the leadup PR events and transportation to the rally planned by the Dean volunteers.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Federal health officials are debating if it’s time to put emergency contraception — also called the morning-after pill — on pharmacy shelves right next to the aspirin, available without a prescription.
Contraception advocates are pushing hard for no restrictions. They say easy over-the-counter access could spur wider use of emergency contraception, in turn preventing up to 1.7 million unplanned pregnancies each year and hundreds of thousands of abortions.
“Emergency contraception is extremely safe. It needs to be on the shelf beside aspirin,” says Dr. Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood.
An Easter Lemming digest of another history lesson from Thom Hartmann. The religious right is again spreading falsehoods on the history of our country. The founding father's wanted a clear separation between political power and religion. All religions and even no religion was to be equally respected but none recognized as superior or funded in any way.
This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached and the title is unchanged.
The Founders Confront Judge Moore
The Founders clearly divided power into four categories: military, religious, wealth/corporate, and political. The interaction of these types of power produced the three historic types of tyranny - warlord kings; theocratic popes; and wealthy feudal lords or monopolistic corporations like the East India Company.
Every past tyrannical government in the history of civilization, our Founders realized, had oppressed its citizens because it had combined political power with one or more of the other three categories. This, they believed, was the fatal flaw of past forms of governance, and they were determined to isolate political power from each and all of the other three to prevent America from repeating the mistakes of previous nations.
Thus, political power would only be held by "We the People," and never again shared with military, corporate, or religious agencies.
el - I am a seperationofpowersacrat.
Ben Franklin fled Boston when he was a teenager in part to escape the oppressive environment created by politically powerful preachers, and for the rest of his life was openly hostile to the idea of secular political power being wielded by those who also hold religious power. Although he was enthralled by the "mystery" of the spiritual experience, Franklin had little use for the organized religions of the day. In his autobiographical "Toward The Mystery," he wrote, "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."
Franklin - like most of the more well-known Founders - was a Deist, a philosophy made popular by early Unitarians who held that the Creator made the universe long ago and has since chosen not to interfere in any way, that neither Jesus nor anybody else was divine (or, alternatively, that we are all divine and shall all do as Jesus did and said we would), and that there is only one God and not three.
Another founding Deist who resisted giving political power to those with religious power was George Washington.
President George Washington supervised the language of a treaty with African Muslims that explicitly stated that the United States was a secular nation.
The Treaty With Tripoli, worked out under Washington's guidance and then signed into law by John Adams in 1797, reads: "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
On February 21, 1811, President James Madison vetoed a bill passed by Congress that authorized government payments to a church in Washington, DC to help the poor. Faith-based initiatives were a clear violation, in Madison's mind, of the doctrine of separation of church and state, and could lead to a dangerous transfer of political power to religious leaders.
In Madison's mind, caring for the poor was a public and civic duty - a function of government - and must not be allowed to become a hole through which churches could reach and seize political power or the taxpayer's purse.
Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most outspoken of the Founders who saw religious leaders seizing political power as a naked threat to American democracy. One of his most well known quotes is carved into the stone of the awe-inspiring Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny imposed upon the mind of man."
el - He made this quote in a letter in opposition to preachers hoping to establish some recognized American Christian religion.
In later years, Jefferson would put together what is now called "The Jefferson Bible," in which he deleted all the miracles from the New Testament and presented Jesus to readers as an inspired philosopher. His Jefferson Bible is still in print, and well received, if amazon.com sales and readers' comments are any indication.
But it wasn't just religious tolerance that was the issue for Jefferson - it was preventing any one religion from claiming it was uniquely the American religion, and then using that claim to grasp at political power. Thus, secular government must allow even pagans and pantheists to coexist, while at the same time rigorously preventing any of them from gaining power over it. In his "Notes On Virginia," Jefferson laid it out clearly: "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
Because our system of laws was founded on the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments, the religious leaders said, they and their Commandments should play a large and powerful role in government and be able to both take from the public purse and influence the courts and laws.
This assertion - that British common law and American law derived from the Ten Commandments - was particularly infuriating to the Founders.
First, there's the simple fact that there isn't that much overlap. Our laws don't specify a single god who must be worshipped, ban graven images, require us to take a day off work every week, mandate that we "honor" our parents, make it illegal for men to "covet" other men's wives or sleep with unmarried women, or make it illegal to lie (in fact, corporations have recently asserted the explicit "right to lie" under the First Amendment). The only things in common between the Commandments and most state or federal laws are prohibitions on killing and stealing, which most people figure have always been pretty obvious.
In a January 24, 1814 letter to John Adams, Jefferson went through a detailed lawyer's brief to show that the entire idea that the laws of both England and the United States came from Judaism, Christianity, or the Ten Commandments rests on a single man's mistranslation in 1658, often repeated, and totally false.
In a modern revival of religious leaders seeking political power, emails fly around the internet saying that Founders like Madison claimed the United States was founded on either Christianity or the Ten Commandments. Many originate in the writings of a right-wing group whose president helped prepare the History and Social Studies standards for Texas and California schoolchildren, and are so badly taken out of context that they can only be called deliberate attempts to fool people. Others are simple fabrications, quotes created from nothing.
The United States and our laws were not founded on the Bible, or even on biblical principles. Moral precepts against killing or stealing are found not only in the Bible, but exist among every tribe on earth, some of whose cultures and languages date back over 60,000 years. They're part of the social code of animals ranging from prairie dogs to gorillas. They're rooted in the biological imperative of survival.
The campaign against "political hate speech" originates with the Republican National Committee. But last week the committee unveiled its first ad for the 2004 campaign, and it's as hateful as they come. "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists," it declares.
Again, there's that weasel word "some." No doubt someone doesn't believe that we should attack terrorists. But the serious criticism of the president, as the committee knows very well, is the reverse: that after an initial victory in Afghanistan he shifted his attention — and crucial resources — from fighting terrorism to other projects.
All this fuss about civility, then, is an attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming — into being demure and respectful of the president, even while his campaign chairman declares that the 2004 election will be a choice "between victory in Iraq and insecurity in America."
And even aside from the double standard, how important is civility? I'm all for good manners, but this isn't a dinner party. The opposing sides in our national debate are far apart on fundamental issues, from fiscal and environmental policies to national security and civil liberties. It's the duty of pundits and politicians to make those differences clear, not to play them down for fear that someone will be offended.
Salon - I believe the evidence now available shows that Kennedy had decided, in early October of 1963, to begin withdrawing 17,000 U.S. military advisers then in Vietnam. One thousand were to leave by the end of 1963; the withdrawal was scheduled to be completed by the end of 1965. After that, only a military assistance contingent would have remained. The withdrawal planning was carried out under cover of an official optimism about the war, with a view toward increasing the effort and training the South Vietnamese to win by themselves. But Kennedy and McNamara did not share this optimism. They were therefore prepared to press the withdrawal even when the assessments turned bad, as they started to do in the early fall of 1963. This was a decision to withdraw without victory if necessary, indeed without negotiations or conditions.
Did the U.S. Military Plan a Nuclear First Strike for 1963? The answer turns out to be: Yes, it did.
Though Johnson told Russell that a war could cost "40 million American lives in an hour," in late 1963 the Soviet Union did not have a nuclear force that could have destroyed more than a few major cities in the United States (and possibly not even that much). But we did possess, by that time, an overwhelming first-strike power. There were those who wanted to use it.
Johnson knew this. His task, overriding all others, was to prevent even an event so grave as the murder of the president from becoming the pretext for a preemptive nuclear war. J.Edgar Hoover had told Johnson, who told Russell, that an effort was underway to blame Castro and Khrushchev – an effort that involved falsified evidence linking Oswald’s trip to Mexico City in September, 1963 to the KGB. Johnson says of Khrushchev, truthfully: "He didn't have a damn thing to do with it." The stated task of the Warren Commission was to save the world from a punitive nuclear war, by exculpating the innocent. It did as much, by inculpating a dead man.
What does this prove? So far as what actually happened in Dallas, only one thing long obvious to many others on many grounds: that the Warren Commission report cannot be trusted. Whatever the underlying history, the commission acted under orders, for reasons of state.
Did Lyndon Johnson participate in a plot to kill Kennedy? Though this view is getting play on cable television this week, I don't believe he did. Was Castro or Khrushchev involved? Of course not. Did Lee Harvey Oswald fire three shots, from an old rifle, along a difficult line of sight, striking Kennedy at least twice and Texas Governor John Connally at least once, as well as a bystander some distance away? No serious person can believe that, either.
From Center for American Progress - The GOP gets it's way in votes late Friday nights where the stories get buried in low circulation Saturday newspapers.
On Friday, March 21 at 2:54 AM , the House voted to cut veterans benefits by 3 votes. On Friday, April 11 at 2:39 AM , the House voted to slash education and health care funding by 5 votes. On Friday, May 23 at 1:56 AM , the House passed a tax cut for millionaires by 31 votes. On Friday, June 27 at 2:33 AM , the House passed a Medicare privatization bill by 1 vote. At 12:57 AM on Friday, July 25, the House passed a controversial Head Start bill by one vote.
Cory Farley - Things you have to believe to be a Republican today
o Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you’re a conservative radio host. Then it’s an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
o The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
o Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.
o “Standing Tall for America” means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
o A woman can’t be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
o Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
o The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.
o Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.
o If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.
o A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
o HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.
o Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
o Global warming and tobacco’s link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
o Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a “we can’t find Bin Laden” diversion.
o A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
o Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
o The public has a right to know about Hillary’s cattle trades, but George Bush’s driving record is none of our business.
o What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the ’80s is irrelevant.
o Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
Republicans in Congress are on a spending spree -- and they're sending a half-a-trillion-dollar bill to their grandkids this year.
el - More and more Dean as both tough and fiscally-repsonsible makes sense as the nominee.
Senate Approves Medicare Overhaul
el - The one good thing about the Medicare bill is that it establishs that drugs should be covered. How they are covered and how it is paid for are very bad things in this bill.
E. J. Dionne Jr has it right.
The battle over a Medicare prescription drug benefit proves that Republicans are ruthless and determined and that Democrats are divided and hapless. Republicans have changed the rules in Washington, but some Democrats still pretend to be living in the good old days.
"It's a combination of political stupidity and substantive gutlessness," said one influential Democratic congressional aide.
What Democrats failed to understand, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said in an interview yesterday morning, is that Republicans "are on an ideological march. They have no intention of playing fair. They want what they want when they want it." And they get it.
If anyone doubted the rules had changed, House Republican leaders ended all illusions in the early hours of Saturday morning by holding open a 15-minute roll call vote for an unprecedented two hours and 51 minutes. At the end of the normal time for voting, Republican leaders faced defeat on the drug bill by a two-vote margin. Eventually, two Republicans were hammered into switching their votes.
"I don't mean to be alarmist, but this is the end of parliamentary democracy as we have known it," said Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. The new system amounted to "plebiscitary democracy" in which leaders of the House have imposed such a strong sense of party discipline that they will ultimately pass whatever legislation they bring to the floor. "The Republican Party in the House is the most ideologically cohesive and disciplined party in the democratic world," Frank said. In response, House Democrats were more united in opposition to the bill than Democratic senators, who are operating as if the older system of give-and-take were still in force.
Whatever discontent liberals expressed toward Kennedy [for initially trying to work with the GOP this summer] was mild compared with their irritation toward Sens. John Breaux of Louisiana and Max Baucus of Montana.
Breaux and Baucus were the only two Democrats allowed to negotiate the Medicare bill with the Republicans, House Democrats having been totally excluded. Would Republicans have put up with such an arrangement?
el - This is another demonstration of why Democrats need a fighter like Dean and not one from Washington like Gephardt or Kerry.
Getting Pregnant on TV. Swedish Big Brother contestant is pg from intimate encounters shown on TV.
Doctors confirm fakir had no food or water for ten days. He claims a fast of decades.
'You Shouldn't Have' Executives Reveal the Most Unusual Business Gifts They've Received
-- "A gold tooth."
-- "A pick axe."
-- "A ketchup bottle."
-- "A container of fake worms."
-- "A dancing statue of Hank Williams Jr."
-- "A pair of shoes with a hole in the bottom."
-- "One shoe."
-- "A hat with a fish sticking out of it."
-- "A baseball helmet with holders for beer cans on top."
Chaplain Charged With Assisting Terrorists Recharged - with adultery and having pornographic material.
Free to return to work as long as he avoids terrorists. So instead of an Islamic extremist he is a Western philandering pornmeister?
Salon has a review of two books on Washington and Jefferson grappling with the issues of slavery and liberty. The slow Washington ends by being more moral and noble then the brilliant Jefferson.
Story on Nightline tonight.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of 'Kosher Sex,' has a combative conversation with Playboy's 2001 Miss November, Lindsey Vuolo.
SB: How does your rabbi feel about the pictures in the centerfold?
LV: That's why I want to go see him when I come home for Thanksgiving, because I haven't spoken to him. I was home for Yom Kippur services, but we have such a large congregation that there was really no time to speak with him after services. I did talk to some of the ladies in my congregation. The rabbi was the one to tell them [about me being Playmate] because they came to me when I was outside. I was getting a drink of water. And they said to me, you know, the rabbi told us that you were in Playboy. Congratulations. I was, like, really nervous. I'm going, what does he think? Does he hate me? Is he mad at me? What are his views on it? And they were just, "Oh, he seemed really happy when he told all of us." So when I go home, I plan on speaking with him and asking him, because I do want to know what he thinks.
The Rabbi continues the hostile interview in Part 2
Another rabbi's opinion.
Q: So this is a true watershed for American Judaism?
Absolutely. It forces us to put down all the weird self-loathing about Jewish bodies and all the Woody Allen-Phillip Roth routine about the fact that the Jewish mind of Jewish men, of course, are superior...but it's hot gentile bodies that we want.
And, of course, part of what's important about getting past that is...is it's actually not just bad for what it says about what Jews feel about ourselves; it's also implicit there that Gentile women are essentially objects to be used.
That's the whole thing. I don't know whether you've ever heard this before, but growing up, like in Jewish camps and Jewish youth groups, it was always kind of a joke that "shiksas" were for practice. And in all honesty, I don't want to be part of a community that can think that way. And there is a direct line between saying, "Jewish girls shouldn't be in Playboy" -- subtext: it's okay for Gentile girls -- and raising a whole generation of Jewish men who think shiksas are for practice.
So in that way, yeah, I think it's a real step forward. When you can go to Yad Vashem [,the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem,] and see [photos of] naked Jewish women who really were thought of as vermin and then you can open up Playboy and see a beautiful Jewish body that's actually being fantasized over by millions of men. I absolutely understand this is not the highest level to reach, but it is the next level in our development.
Lindsey Voulo Playboy picture. And Here. Or Google Image Search.
USAJewish online tabloid (photo) and Forward - Playboy Playmaydl of the Month.
Sexy at Last - The pendulum has swung - Jewish girls are sexy.
This story had gotten lost in the post 9/11 coverage. I decided to play it up because Jewish women have always been sexy. So are Arab women. So are agnostic liberal women. So are...