Thursday, May 27, 2004

bush morphing state election laws to stay on ballots?

Researching this one now. I know it's true for Illinois, although haven't found out whether the law has been changed or is still in the air...

silly weirdness

In the Illinois US Senate race, the Libertarians are putting up a guy named "Jerry Kohn".

Did everyone else have to blink at that one a couple of times?


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

from the man who should be president

"One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as animals, and degraded. We also know - and not just from De Sade and Freud - the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain. It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.

Those pictures of torture and sexual abuse came to us embedded in a wave of news about escalating casualties and growing chaos enveloping our entire policy in Iraq. But in order [to] understand the failure of our overall policy, it is important to focus specifically on what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison, and ask whether or not those actions were representative of who we are as Americans? Obviously the quick answer is no, but unfortunately it's more complicated than that.

There is good and evil in every person. And what makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have lead us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations more than the people any other nation.

Our founders were insightful students of human nature. They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only 'better angels' in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation - especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens.

Listen then to the balance of internal impulses described by specialist Charles Graner when confronted by one of his colleagues, Specialist Joseph M. Darby, who later became a courageous whistleblower. When Darby asked him to explain his actions documented in the photos, Graner replied: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a groan [sic] man piss on himself."

What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.

The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th."
full remarks

photo camera? what's that?

Bush spokesman Terry Holt seems to think possession of a "photo camera" is somehow nefarious or indicative of dubious motives?

Only, I guess, when that someone is fighting in a war, and then thirty years later has the gall to try and run for president.

Is this another half-baked attempt to drum up a non-issue to diss Kerry while providing cover for Bush? After all, perhaps the reason there is so little photographic record of Bush in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) is because he knew someday he would campaign for president and wanted to avoid any possibility of unseemly behavior.

ross attacked by dems and repubs

Seems my earlier belief that all the protest against Dave Ross staying on the air until July is coming from rivals in his own part at least as much as from the state Republican party. This makes sense, by the time the general campaign starts, Dave Ross will be long off the air. But now the primary campaign is in full swing.

One of Ross's opponents is Alex Alben, a very pro-business candidate with strong ties to the "Eastside" community. Alben seems like a good candidate--certainly anyone representing Washington's 8th District will have to be pro-business and high-tech savvy, being home to greater Microsoft-land. (Technically Microsoft's main campus falls in the 1st District--Jay Inslee (D)--forming a little bump on the nose of the 1st as a result of what is doubtless a fascinating political tale.)

Alben is making a major issue of Ross's remaining on the air, even to the extent of purchasing ad time during Ross's morning radio show to complain about Ross being on the air. Takes a bit of hutspa! According to this Seattle P-I article, Ross is refusing to comment on the ads. This seems perfectly consistent with what I know of Ross--he has the highest level of integrity of almost anyone I know. I suspect if asked, Ross would say that things are working exactly the way they should be.

To a certain extent, I think Alben is being a bit disingenuous. His rally cry is: "standing up for fairness in this election, because all candidates need to play by the same rules!" (from his web site). In reality, many political candidates enjoy undue advantage because of their circumstances. No one could realistically claim that incumbents have almost insurmountable advantages by virtue of being able to campaign while in office. Everyone know how much money makes a difference--no candidate has to be well loved by donors if he's got his own deep pockets.

My original take on this situation was that Ross was inviting at least as much hurt on himself as help by staying on the air. Every word out of his mouth is grist for the disinformation mill (as well as providing ample opportunity to commit real gaffes). But I've just been realizing that this is only true of candidates interested in negative campaigning. In fact, by staying on the air, Ross is almost forcing his opponents to go on the attack in order to even the odds.

In addition, in a normal world, Ross would almost certainly spend at least one hour interviewing candidates. How is he going to achieve that? Will we have the surreal experience of hearing one candidate interview another? Not in this reality. So will Alben be left to the almost certainly hostile Dori Monson? (While not really unfair, certainly cruel!)

The Seattle P-I story referenced above, used the term "impropriety" several times, as in the impropriety of Ross's decision to stay on the air. Although this term is technically correct (meaning "not proper"), it tends to have connotations that are irrelevant here, and so it feels like too harsh a term. I think this issue is quite complex; it isn't a simple matter of fairness or unfairness, but rather of finding the right balance of fairness/unfairness to a number of different parties.

I will probably support Ross no matter what he does (I earn my living in his district). But, on reflection, I think it would be best if he got off the air as soon as possible. Boo hoo! My mornings will never be the same!

Monday, May 24, 2004


In the last post there's a line about a quality decline of King County "crime fighting". I wasn't stating this as fact or an opinion. This was merely an off-the-cuff and badly phrased hypothetical about a dirty trick that could (but I'm sure won't) be played. I really have no idea what kind of opposition message Dave Reichert will draw, I just assume, since he's sheriff, law enforcement will come into it somehow.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

dave ross for congress

So my favorite talk radio host, Dave Ross, has thrown his hat into the Washington 8th District race to replace Jennifer Dunn. I have mixed feelings: guess I'll be switching back to NPR for my morning commute, assuming they move Dori Monson to mornings.

I think Dave makes a terrific talk host--people trust that either working his way through an issue or taken a stance based on facts, not on party affiliation. That's a good thing. But now what he says will be attacked as pure politics. He'll have lost that precious power to persuade, not by hook or crook, but by fact.

I don't know if he'll make a good congressperson. He sometimes displays a certain grasp of harsh reality (read cynicism) that may enable him to make those necessary evil votes. We'll see.

Re the mini-flap about him staying on the air until officially registering in July, this feels like a pseudo-flap to me. I really can't believe Washington State Republican Chair Chris Vance, isn't licking his chops at the opportunity to attack every word out of Ross's mouth for the next two months. Frankly, it feels to me like Ross's decision to stay on the air has more potential to hurt him than help.

Or perhaps Vance, so steeped in the political arena as he is, thinks Ross will pull some dirty tricks with his show--such as running show after show about how the quality of crime fighting in King County has so drastically declined in the past few years--coincidentally since opponent Dave Reichert became King County Sheriff. Knowing Dave Ross as I do--as a longtime listener--it's my bet he'll avoid all issues that smack of negative attacks. I think he will have to be ultra careful of both Repub and Dem operatives trying to bait him into partisanship, though. We'll see if he can do it.

see this movie

Today I braved the local multiplex, crammed with small children and their parents, to see the Shrek sequel. The theater I went to was running three cycles of Shrek 2, about a half hour apart, and all of them were selling out, so I won't be surprised if this movie breaks some weekend records.

I'm not sure what the attraction of Shrek is for me personally, except, of course, its basic core of snorting at sentimentality. One could say that it is an anti-fairy tale, but at the same time a fairy tale is exactly what it is.

It makes me suspect that--all this time I thought I was one of the minority of cynical thinkers willing to take a hard look at the reality behind the illusions of love--actually lots of people see what I see. They're just a lot more well adjusted about it, willing to enjoy the advantages of the illusions without being completely suckered into them.

Anyway, I enjoyed Shrek 2 almost as much as the original. A certain amount of surprise was gone, replaced by a sense of expectation. When you get down to analyzing it, the basic plot is quite simple: Princess Fiona drags Shrek home to meet the folks, Shrek and king don't exactly hit it off, tension ensues between the newlyweds, and they both try to make the other happy by sacrificing their own happiness. As with the original, the devil (or in this case the angel) is in the details. I don't want to mention any because it would spoil the surprise, but there are a lot of them and you really have to pay attention to get them all. I had the rare experience of wanting to turn around and watch the movie all over again.

Not being married and not having manipulative parents, I didn't have a strong sense of connection to the couple's problems in this movie (didn't really in the first one either, being neither a prince/princess nor in love with one, although have to say I did identify with Shrek, so draw your own conclusions). There were more main characters in this one, and I didn't really care much about most of them, so I didn't have quite the visceral reaction to this one that I did with the first. I've read reviews that say Puss in Boots stole the movie, but I'd say that's only because--Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey aside--all the others were either too bland or too predictable. Once again, its the minor characters--the ugly step sister, the gingerbread boy, Pinnochio, that really make things shine.

In the first movie, I think I was bowled over by the music more than anything else. Seguing from Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" to "I'm On My Way From Misery to Happiness" was grand, and it brought me to one of my now favorite songs: John Cale's "Hallelujah". And of course who could forget Fiona singing the opening lines of "Like a Virgin"?

The music in this movie is somewhat less inspired, although it could be it needs some growing time. One of the main musical scenes features the song "I Need A Hero", which some people will remember from the movie Footloose. Although I thought it was a great song to use, I was quite disappointed in its presentation. I didn't much like the singer, it was too weak and made me pine for the original Bonnie Tyler rendition. Aside from a little snippet of Hawaii Five-O, I don't remember any of the other music, which is too bad. I can go for days with "Stay Home" or "All-Star" happily ringing in my head.

Aside from the nitpicks, though, I found Shrek 2 utterly satisfying, and can't wait to drag some friends so I can see it again.

Oh--be sure to stay in your seat while the credits roll!

time's michael duffy on washington week in review

I'm a regular watcher of this program--one of the few tv new shows I watch. And Michael Duffy, of Time Magazine, is one of the regulars I most enjoy hearing from.

I was shocked to see how solemn he appeared this week. He's been covering the Abu Ghraib hearings, so perhaps this isn't that surprising. But it is a radical difference from his usual TV personality. Usually he's smiling, talking about people and events with a good light objectivity and a healthy cyncism. For example, talking a few weeks ago about Condi Rice's 9/11 testimony, he joked a bit about her ability to talk her way through an interview ("running down the clock").

But the last couple times I've seen him, he's been obviously downspirited, and this week was sorrowful to watch. Later in his presentation he did muster up a small laugh about something (about how no one in the military is taking responsibility for anything not written down, I think). But it was more like the kind of laugh you get at a funeral--that involuntary kind to break the tension without forgetting the tragedy of the moment.

Gwenn Ifill was extremely solemn as well this week, particularly during Duffy's segment. Abu Ghraib seems to be weighing extremely heavily on some of our seasoned journalists. Although sad, this is far preferable to Ifill's unseemly "isn't this exciting" sparkle the week of the "Mission Accomplished" speech. (Note: I tried to find this in the WWIR archives but couldn't find it. I may be remembering wrong--I'm sure I'm not--or that little clip has gone down the memory hole.)


On Bush's cycle spill Saturday, apparently on Drudge (I site I choose not to link to): "Kerry told reporters in front of cameras, 'Did the training wheels fall off?'... Reporters are debating whether to treat it is as on or off the record... "

Now this is an agile mind, to link the incident back to Bush's amazingly patronizing "training wheels" comment made last week to the Iraqis.

How long before Kerry gets a demand for an apology? The Republican outrage words of the week appear to be "reprehensible" and "grotesque" (see the response to Pelosi). Frankly I was glad to see these, having gotten tired of the same old same olds: evil, unpatriotic, hateful, disgusting, offensive, un-American. Any others they could use to hyperbolically characterize their enemies? How about repugnant, destructive, traitorous--oh wait, we've already had that one, haven't we? We'll here's a new one bound to show its tail by November: Satanic.

By the way, here's choice little DeLay quote from 4 months ago...

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) today responded to U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy's speech about the war on terror.

"Ted Kennedy has explained to the American people why the Howard Dean Democrats cannot be trusted to protect the national security of the United States," DeLay said.

"His hateful attack against the commander-in-chief would be disgusting if it were not so sad. In his speech, Ted Kennedy insulted the president's patriotism, accused the Republican Party of treason, and resurrected the weak and indecisive foreign policy of Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis.

"Kennedy said there was 'no compelling reason for war.' There are 25 million Iraqis no longer threatened by torture chambers who might disagree," DeLay said.
When did senior congressmen begin hearing about Abu Ghraib???

Thursday, May 20, 2004

ultimate conspiracy theory

Just had an evil thought (I'm sure its not original but its new to me).

We've spent so much time in the past year or so marvelling out how appallingly shortsighted the administration has been in its post-war Iraq planning. I mean, who could imagine a group of people who had achieved almost total control of the US government could be so blindingly stupid?

Maybe it is stupid (and crazy) like a fox. To a significant extent the chaos in Iraq has worked for those whose primary interest is controlling oil. A stable and secure Iraq would have some leverage. It would also have time to pay attention to issues other than personal survival. But right now the fears of impending civil war are trumping concern over who's manning the gas pumps.

I've never bought into the theory that oil was the sole motivation behind this war. But you'd have to be a moron, or completely disingenuous, to claim that oil politics didn't play a major role in this drama. More specifically, that lust for oil didn't at the very least push people in a direction they were already leaning.

I don't think Abu Ghraib was on the official agenda. I think it was a natural and forseeable outcome of an undisciplined leadership.

supporting US in iraq?

I'm at a loss how to answer this IBD/CSM/TIPP poll question:

"General speaking, do you support or oppose the U.S. military action in Iraq?"

If I answer yes, what am I actually saying? That I supported the war in the first place? That I think we're doing a good job there? That Iraq is actually better off because we invaded and because of our efforts?

If I answer no, am I saying I think we should take the Kucinich line and get out right now?

The truth is, none of the above are accurate. I marched my little heart out last year trying to prevent the US invasion. I don't think we've brought any real improvement to Iraq--not without trying but certainly without succeeding. On the other hand, from the moment our troops invaded I've felt a strong sense of responsibility. We have to stay and clean up our mess. Unfortunately, we seem to be staying and making an even bigger mess.

So I guess I'd have to say that, at this moment in time, I oppose the current US actions in Iraq, but I support what they could be. Too bad polls don't allow for such "nuanced" answers. I wonder what the question writer intended?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

kerry's message

I've let the Kerry fact of the day idea slide, but here's a good overall point from the man himself in this AP article:

"I've heard some people say, well, what's the message? What's he doing? The message is clear, folks: We're going to make America stronger at home by being fiscally responsible, investing in health care and education, becoming energy independent, and we're going to make ourselves stronger in the world by restoring America's respect and influence with a better foreign policy. It's that simple."

Sounds good to me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

few jobs for iraqis

This AP Article describes how few iraqis are actually finding reconstruction-related jobs, seven months after the initial call for emergency funding expressly for the purpose of preventing instability and widespread poverty.

Of course virtually all of this money went to major American firms like Halliburton and Bechtel, which are supposedly subcontracting to other firms from Britain and Europe, and in some cases Iraqi firms.

I have to note that the AP article states that the job situation is 25,000 people employed by reconstruction programs out of a total Iraqi workforce of 7 million, and characterizes this as "less than 1 percent." It states later that the "hope" is to double this number within two months. The math seemed a bit overgenerous. With my trusty calculator I discovered that "less than 1 percent" actually translates to .36 percent. Even if the job numbers do get doubled, the total will still be less than 1 percent: .72 percent.

The good news is that most of those 25K jobs have been achieved in the past month, so there is hope.

chalabi off the official payroll

Yahoo! News - Pentagon Stops Payments to Iraq's Chalabi

About frigging time.

You'd think these words would have been a clue Chalabi wasn't returning value for his pay: "We are heroes in error," he told the Telegraph in Baghdad on February 19, 2004. "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."

Monday, May 17, 2004

here in seattle...

Fremont scuplture gets war-themed update

This statue is a Fremont fixture, it portrays a group of people waiting at a bus stop. It is regularly decorated with birthday/graduation celebrations and other, usually pleasant messages.

I first heard this story on the local news (NBC affiliate). It seems at one point someone decided to remove the hoods and did so. Some bystanders questioned the man on whether he was the artist, and when he answered no, they protested his action, even to the point of chasing him down the street when he took off running (the NBC affiliate played footage of the chase!). The man threw the black hoods into the nearby canal, but someone fished them out and the bystanders put the hoods back on the statue. Their main comment was that they felt the decoration was a right of free speech, and whether they agreed with it was irrelevant.

It should be noted that Fremont is well-known liberal bastion in a relatively liberal city. Where else in the US could you find an authentic statue of Lenin, salvaged from a Czech junkyard after the fall of communism purely for its aesthetic value?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

powell: out of the loop again or just disingenuous?

Seemingly in the same breath, Secretary Powell apologized for the Abu Ghraib torture and took to task the Arab world for not expressing sufficient outrage over the Nick Berg beheading.

With regard to the Berg murder, Powell was quoted as saying in this AP article: "there can be no comparison to the actions of a few who are going to be punished and brought to justice as a result of what happened at Abu Ghraib".

He's right, there can be no comparison between the acts of a terrorist group and the sanctioned policy of the most powerful government in the world.

If Powell really believes Abu Ghraib was the product of a few individuals, as stated in the quote above, then perhaps the comparison would be reasonable. For this to be true, however, Powell would have to be completely ignorant of the facts behind the latest Sy Hersh article in the New Yorker. If he was, that's just sad. Personally, I think if anyone needs to resign, its Powell, if only to satisfy his own sense of honor.

However, same AP article states: "Powell said he has made clear, specifically to Arab leaders, that systematic torture of prisoners is unacceptable anywhere."

So which is it Mr. Secretary?

And really, what does it say about Powell when he takes the entire Arab world to task for not accepting responsibility for the acts of a terrorist group they have already condemned? Here's a revealing quote from the same article: "Torture of any kind is unacceptable, and Arab leaders need to look at what's happening in their own societies. They need to reform their societies."


Friday, May 14, 2004

300 iraqi prisoners released

I found it interesting that General Miller claims that 300-400 prisoners are released or transferred to Iraqi authorities every week. Is this true? How many were released or transferred last week? The week before? If this is true, how are the releases this week and next supposed to "thin out" the population, as Rumsfeld apparently requested?

And if Rumsfeld is asking for a thinning, then he is implicitly acknowledging that he believes many of the prisoners are being unjustly held. Right? This is a different issue than the abuse inside the prison, and couldn't be due to anything other than a systemic problem.

One more point. Apparently the question was raised to Rumsfeld whether Abu Ghraib prison should be destroyed. His position is maybe, but that the Iraqis should do it. I'm not saying he's wrong, but it does seem questionable from a public relations standpoint. Is it really preferable to have Iraqis making this symbolic act, perhaps framing it in an anti-American message? And why exactly is it better that the Iraqis do this? I mean the statement sounds good, but what is the rationale?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

cut them some slack?

OK, not to cut the administration any slack or anything, but the fact that Nick Berg was held/questioned/noticed by the coalition/Iraqi authority/FBI doesn't really have any relevance to his death. It's a sad and darkly ironic note, but there is no intent or negligence involved here. Just a tragic sequence of events. Let's move on, shall we?

After all, we've barely begun analyzing how, since nobody's apologizing for this atrocity, our handling of the Abu Ghraib tortures must be reaching new heights of nobility and courage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

torturing & killing in iraq

The video of Nick Berg's death is horrific: Yahoo! News - Al Qaeda Leader Beheads U.S. Civilian, Web Site Says. It will not be surprising if it incites further atrocities committed by American/coalition forces in Iraq.

But in the end, the only ones hurt are the innocents caught in between two mortally angry groups of people. Nick Berg was presumably innocent of everything except being an American. The tortured civilians at Abu Graib and other prisons certainly had never been found guilty of anything except possibly ignorance, and, according to the Red Cross, fully 70-90% of Iraqi detainees are innocent of any crime.

So will we up the ante, increase the midnight raids on homes, round up stray pedestrians on the street, steal their possessions and threaten their families, all in the name of Nick Berg?

All Iraqis--all Arabs and Muslims--are not alike. They are not, as I've heard several mouth-foamers scream, all dirty animals. Just as Nick Berg was not a surrogate for people who have brought (or enabled) death and destruction to the Arab world over the past 30 years, neither are random Iraqis acceptable stand-ins for the people who wielded that knife on camera.

The saddest part of all this is this secret fear that not one of the people caught up in the Abu Graib atrocities had done anything to deserve the treatment they got.

Monday, May 10, 2004

bumper sticker observed

"Practice Compassionate Impeachment"

what's the use in talk?

Josh Marshall has it pretty much right: the words get stuck in the throat--or in the wrist--about this Abu Graib torture situation.

I mean, really, what words can convey emotion more eloquently than those photos? Isn't universal condemnation a no-brainer? Sadly, it seems no (see Rush Limbaugh, et al, along with a host of people who seem to think this stuff is business as usual when you're fighting a war).

But incidents like these are always revealing. It's quite educational to get politicians' unvarnished reactions at the outset, before someone's figured out some acceptable damage control talking points.

Such as pointing out that the Iraqi's never apologized to us for defending their own country against invasion.

When we're willing to set the bar lower and lower to justify our past mistakes (such as installing a wrong-doing, useless president interested in all the perks but none of the responsibilities), I guess this is about as low as we can go. We can only hope.

the reason we're where we are now

A telling quote: "President Bush issued a strong endorsement of embattled Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, telling him after a meeting at the Pentagon, 'You are doing a superb job.' "

Remember Bush's original "idiot" defense? That he'd surround himself with brilliant and capable advisors so it really didn't matter that he wasn't the best and brightest mind? (Of course that went by the wayside once they were in the White House.)

I think we now have proof positive why surrounding yourself with good aides is simply not sufficient. Because good is only in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

confessions of an alternate delegate

I just spent the day at the King County Democratic Convention, listening to speeches and spending an agonizing 6 hours discussing the platform. (For those keeping score, there were 74 planks on the platform, divided into sections such as civil rights and foreign policy. We deliberated 12 of them--all the civil rights planks--added another 10 or 12, and finally approved the rest in one fell swoop as 5pm approached and we were nowhere near enough for a quorum.) My precinct delegate had called in AWOL, which is why I attended. There were 1015 delegates seated.

As well as hearing from Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Jim McDermott and a host of others either running for something or stumping for someone else, we also heard from the two Dems running for governor: Ron Sims and Chris(tine) Gregoire. I paid attention here because I've been shamefully ignoring this backyard election. Gregoire gave the best speech, but that's pretty much the last point on which to pick your candidate. McDermott promises to continue sticking his neck out (or his foot in, depending on your point of view) and got standing applause.

I'd half expected to find myself being among the more conservative minds there, but alas no. We had vigorous fights over both reproductive rights and gay marriage. But overall I have to say that in almost every case when a question came up the more liberal view prevailed.

Shameless self-promotion: I singlehandedly saved the King County Democrats from accidentally advocating wholesale murder by doctor. During the course of amending a plank on medical assisted suicide, the plank was nearly passed as: "We believe in medically assisted death with dignity, with appropriate safeguards." I At one point it occurred to me to wonder if we really wanted to advocate our doctors and nurses gently assisting us into the next realm regardless of whether or not we asked for it. So I gathered up my spoonful of courage, went up to the mike and proposed adding the phrase "[We believe in] an individual's right to choose..." A murmur passed through the assembly as people appreciated the narrow escape (or perhaps they were just muttering, in unison, "Oh, god, another pedant!"). The motion was seconded and passed without argument.

Friday, May 07, 2004

popular baby names same as last year

Another indicator that we continue to be in a conformity phase rather than an individuality phase. Was this one wholly induced by 9/11?

Yahoo! News - Emily, Jacob Most Popular Baby Names Again

turning off the TV

Funny, I have exactly the same reaction: Politics: "'I don't waste my time listening to Bush. I don't believe a word he speaks. He's the enemy of all Muslims and Arabs,' said a Saudi businessman, Waleed al-Mus'ab. 'Every time I see him on TV I switch it off or change the channel, because he just talks nonsense.'' "

Thursday, May 06, 2004

seattlebird one-month anniversary

Ready for prime time yet? Methinks no.

reality check

Hmm--looks like someone else has been contemplating the reality of war: News | Reality check. A definite must-read.

why war images are important

I just have one thing to say about war images--the brutal, messy battlefield portraits as well as the solemn and stylized pictures: we need to see them because it forces us to confront our decision to wage war in the first place.

I don't agree with people who seem to see these images only as weapons to break the will of pro-war Americans. In fact I thought this view was a straw man until I actually heard people reiterating it. But if the pictures are not weapons, neither are they shameful evidence of mistakes.

They are reality. If we choose to wage war, we need to face the consequences of our choice. And I don't mean to characterize this reality check as any kind of punishment. I do not say that war is always wrong. But it does, always, result in death and destruction, and we should never try to pretend it doesn't (even if--especially if--all the death and destruction is suffered by the other side). Because the opportunity to declare war will come again, and we need to the tools--the memories and the hard-won understanding--that will give us pause before making a cavalier decision. The worst thing we could ever become is a people who believe we can wage war with impugnity--forgetting the suffering we both cause and receive.

I would expect, for those who believe a war is just, that these people would be strengthened by evidence of sacrifice for a just cause. And when the cause is truly just, we should celebrate that this son or that wife did for all of us. We need to recognize that because they went and stood in front, we didn't have to.

And that's my point. The reality of war gives us understanding about what we, as individuals, stand for. And when the cause is just, it firms our will because it makes us confront the fact that our values carry a heavy price, and what we value becomes more real and more precious to us. Of course, we might also end up realizing that what we originally valued was empty, or at least not as valuable as the final price.

let's pray kerry reads liberal oasis

Once again, LiberalOasis hands Kerry the right script, gratis.

The only thing I'd add is that Kerry needs to provide at least a few specifics, if not a serious plan, for what he believes should be passed. (This doesn't mean he needs to lay out a spending plan, just propose some accountability and general guidelines.) Because we can't be for continuing or upgrading military presence in Iraq without acknowledging the cost.

[Well, we could promise improved services while cutting both taxes and spending, but then we'd be republicans.]

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

bush talks to the arab world

The AP seems to be leading with the absence of a Bush apology: Yahoo! News - Bush: Iraqi Prisoner Abuse 'Abhorrent', but Reuters doesn't report this angle at all.

Personally I think its a little disappointing. I doubt I would have noticed the absence if not for the fact that Scott McClellan felt the need to make up for the loss. How sad is it that our president can only take responsibility through surrogates?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

war atrocities

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago we were hearing certain people claim that the US had never committed atrocities in Vietnam--the assumption being that that was just not an American trait, I guess.


Now it becomes relevant. Do we laud the people who reported on the despicable acts in Iraq? Do we condemn the people who testified in court and before congress about despicable acts in Vietnam? Are the people who blew the whistle on Iraqi atrocities materializing jeopardizing our efforts in Iraq?

bush speaking to arab world

I think this is a good thing: Yahoo! News - Bush to Speak to Arab TV on Iraq Prisoner Abuse.

It seemed like the obvious right thing to do, but I'd wondered if the Bushies would see it that way too. Let's hope this is a true gesture and not some political maneuver.

Monday, May 03, 2004

why "being sure you're right isn't the same thing as actually being right"

See this Kevin Drum (Political Animal) post in the Washington Monthly.

Haven't we all suffered under a mediocre CEO or top manager? Haven't we all seen that manager let good people and ideas go in preference for that inexplicable favorite person or notion? That's a rhetorical question.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

kerry fact #1

Kerry opposes opening the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. And he has the facts and figures to explain why it is not only unwise, but unnecessary.

From a June 16, 2003, speech Energy Security is American Security:

"Nothing is more indicative of old thinking, special interest policy than the attempt by the Administration to falsely sell to the American people a rationale for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Big oil and its allies have lusted over the refuge for two decades. With each attempt they make up new arguments for despoiling a unique and irreplaceable arctic environment for a quantity of petroleum that simply will not reduce the fact of our dependency on high risk foreign oil."

Saturday, May 01, 2004

and then there's real a choice to be made

Another reason why choice versus life is so complicated: Uncommon Misconception: My Part in History. As it should be.

But if ever choice must exist, surely it's here. Who else? Who better?

our surreal political reality

Check out this Globe & Mail article by Canadian Heather Mallick. Incisive and witty.

Reminds me of something I've been thinking about on and off for at least the past year. Its this idea, related to what Josh Marshall calls up-is-downism, that if someone comes up with an explanation, no matter how outrageous it is, we must give credence to it, regardless of the fact that the simple truth is quite blindingly obvious. Can we all say Occam's Razor, in unison?

A criterion for deciding among scientific theories or explanations. One should always choose the simplest explanation of a phenomenon, the one that requires the fewest leaps of logic. (see occam's razor) ]

war and the flip flop

Okay, i'm getting pretty sick of hearing people repeat and repeat and repeat the same damned words about Kerry voting against the 1991 Iraq war and for the 2003 Iraq war.

Think about this for a second, people. I mean, really think. Why exactly is it more important for someone to vote the same way for two wars, twelve years apart, with radically different circumstances? Do we want a leader who can always be counted on to plumb for war as an answer to every ill, or do we want someone who actually weighs the current options and makes a decision based on the facts? Which sounds more reasonable, more responsible?

This matters. The republicans are drumming up every clever-sounding argument they can to paint Kerry as unreasonable and fickle--that's their job--but that doesn't mean people have to swallow it without putting a little thought into it.

And this is when I get so angry at the press. Its one thing for average people like you or me to take things at face value. We don't necessarily have the analytical equipment to understand the crossed wires behind the point. But the press do--or certainly should. Journalists get told a hundred distortions before breakfast by people trying to influence their message. How can they do their job without having some faculties for wading through the bunk?

And can we talk about the 87 billion vote, and Kerry's so-called "abandonment" of our troops? People based their arguments on the false premise that there could be only one vote on the issue. If you voted No you were consigning our troops to a purgatory without adequate equipment and supplies. But what actually would have happened, people? I mean in the real world?

Kerry and others advocated some reasonable accountability for the massive spending supplemental. Their admendment failed. But if the main vote on the supplemental bill had failed, Kerry and his colleagues would have had a much stronger bargaining position from which to fix some of the many major flaws of the bill.

This is a material point. Kerry is perhaps not highlighting it sufficiently, focusing on his amendment work before the main bill vote, mentioning vaguely that his no vote advocated more time to work on a bill that was being rushed through. Perhaps Kerry's people don't believe that average people can understand bargaining positions. If so, they are wrong.

flip flop and gored?

Ron Fournier details Kerry's so-called flip flops in this report about Dem fears that Kerry is getting "Gored". Once again we get another catalog of the alleged concerns about Kerry (as accused by the RNC) without any analysis or even statements of truth or falsity.

[Even more egregiously, Fournier reiterates the Gore exaggeration claims without a hint of how thoroughly debunked those claims have been. Fournier mentions the "Love Story" incident, saying Gore had admitted wrong-doing and blamed a "miscommunication". This is a gross distortion of the facts--Gore had simply repeated what had been in an interview published in a newspaper--it was the newspaper that got it wrong, saying that both Gore and his wife were models when in fact it was only Gore himself.]

Fournier's actually only catalogs two Kerry "missteps", making the argument of the article pretty thin. Fournier does provide some interesting information about the Rove attack machine (Sunday the machine goes into overdrive for the next week). But he spends much more time discussing Dem fears that Kerry is falling into the same trap, while at the same time detailing conflicts among Kerry's campaign management.

The article feels like a real stretch to make a point.