January 31, 2004

Energy-Time/Satisfaction Ratio

from - smijer

It's become apparent to me in recent weeks that I have given far too much time and energy to the project of blogging, and not received nearly enough satisfaction in return for it. For now, I will leave up what I have done already, although I'm not sure I see a point in leaving it up indefinitely. I may export it and download to my hard drive and remove it from the web when traffic zeroes out. I'll take some of the intervening time to reflect on whether there's anything here that is of value to the web community over the long-term.

I enjoyed it while it lasted. I'll still be reading the other members of the RTB and my favorite political and scientific blogs regularly.

Peace Out Dawgs.

Posted by smijer at 02:03 PM | Comments (12)

January 30, 2004

Postponed

from - smijer

Today's Boortz response is postponed indefinitely. I will try to get to it tomorrow or over the weekend. There are definitely things that need to be said about the "Nuze". Its just that time is short.

Posted by smijer at 01:21 PM | Comments (3)

Crazy Week

from - smijer

First, ODub ditches Dean, and now this?!

bubba.jpg

I thought Bubba had signed on for Clark!

Posted by smijer at 09:32 AM | Comments (4)

January 29, 2004

A Drama In One Part, by Felbers

from - smijer

Those darn looting Iraqis. I say we get in our War-thogs and bomb 'em again.

Posted by smijer at 09:47 PM | Comments (2)

Envelope, Please...

from - smijer

In the mixed metaphor category, we have John Kerry with "kick down the barn door and then give you a couple of twigs and say 'build it back'."

Tom Brokaw get's the "I got corrected by Al Sharpton" award for confusing the Nation of Islam with Islamic nations.

John Edwards wins the "Boneheaded New Ideas" award for requiring lawyers to certify that they think their medical malpractice case has merit before they bring it to trial.

Joe Lieberman wins the "no duh" award for boldly proclaiming that universal health insurance was one of the things that the Clinton White House and Democratic Congress couldn't get done.

And, finally, Howard Dean wins the "I sound like John Kerry did when I used to be the frontrunner" award.

In short, it was a great night for Big Media Democracy.

Posted by smijer at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

Of Rats and Sinking Ships

from - smijer

I really hate to see Oliver Willis jump ship. He was among the more hep of the Dean supporters. It's looking like more and more committed Deanies are falling out of love. It'll take more than reports of reckless commission payments to lose me, though. I hope enough core support will remain to give the campaign a chance for a second wind.

Posted by smijer at 06:11 PM | Comments (1)

Props to Atrios & the CAP

from - smijer

My favorite is "There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."

Atrios has the whole kit & kaboodle

I get a little nervous just reading the list.

Posted by smijer at 04:25 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday Boortz

from - smijer

It was interesting reading on Thursday's Nuze page (Here today, and here tomorrow). Neal is still trying to defend the stark announcements of the Bush adminsistration: that it was known that Iraq had WMD's at the time of the invasion, that they knew precisely where they were, that the smoking gun was at least conceivably going to come in the form of a "mushroom cloud", etc...

I think its obvious to any grown-up that, if even the fiercely pro-Bush Kay admits that it is unlikely any WMD's will ever be found in Iraq, it is time to recognize that the Bush administration pulled the wool over our eyes. The war was a foregone conclusion at the moment Bush and the gang gained power. The WMD's whether suspected to exist or not, were just an excuse.

The other interesting contention of Neal'z today, is the assertion (as fact) that:

According to documents retrieved from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry, he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the invasion of Iraq.

Once again, Neal doesn't want us to know his source, because he is afraid we will check his facts. I went to the usual suspects, and I found this article from the obnoxiously partisan WorldNetDaily.com. What does it say?

Saddam Hussein used oil to bribe French officials into opposing the U.S.-led war against Iraq, according to documents purportedly from the ousted Baghdad regime's oil ministry.

The U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council is investigating the claim, which was prompted by a report from an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, the London Independent reported today.

From the government documents, the Iraqi paper published a list of 46 individuals, companies and organizations inside and outside Iraq given millions of barrels of oil.

So we have some purported papers reported on by an Iraqi newspaper of unmentioned editorial integrity. We have a history of forged documents emerging to support pro-war views in the Iraq controversy. And we have an accusation from unknown sources about the content and meaning behind these documents., that according to the WorldNet article, appear months after the rumors about the documents were floated.

Yet, Neal Boortz suspects nothing. He's satisfied that the documents must actually exist, must not be forged, and must be incriminating against people high enough in France's politics to have influenced Chirac's decision not to support going war while Saddam Hussein was cooperating.

It's as though the fact of cooperation was not enough to merit such a position to begin with: there "had to be" some kind of conspiracy. Well here's a bit of news for Neal Boortz. I didn't get any oil from anybody in Iraq, and I thought the idea of "not starting a war" was a no-brainer, too. As would you, Neal, if it had been Clinton instead of Bush pulling the trigger.

Needless to say, if anybody accepted oil bribes from Iraq in an inappropriate or illegal way: shame on them. And I'll believe that documents exist to compromise France's position on the war in that regard when they are found and authenticated by the FBI & CIA. Sorry Neal. You'll have to get a better track record before I take your word for it.

Posted by smijer at 01:41 PM | Comments (19)

I Liked the Shorter Version

from - smijer

I liked the shorter version. It looks like Ricky liked the longer version.

It looks like Bush remembered an unfinished task. I have to question the timing, but I'm glad this is being done nonetheless. And, I hope it is successful.

Save the Hubble!!!

... Here's the link.

That's all 'til tonight. Busy Busy.

Posted by smijer at 07:27 AM | Comments (1)

January 28, 2004

Editorial Policy

from - smijer

Just wanted to let everybody know of my new editorial policy. Here it is:

Any time I hear a conservative deride market regulation, international trade regulation, or taxes, using the precept of "other people's money" (or "keep [more of] their own money"), I will reply in kind. I will remind them that "property is theft" and that the "the means of production belong to the workers."

The construct of private property is important and useful, but it is not the end-all. There is no absolute moral imperative behind the idea of private property. Some large portion of my personal wealth derives from the productiveness of others (often children) many of whom were forced to bargain with their very existence for the product of their labors. My home belongs to me because I gave some of that personal wealth (gotten through my own work, and the leveraged work of others) to the descendant of the fellow who killed the people who lived here before.

To treat private property as a moral imperative is to hollow out the important moral principles humanity depends on and to deprive them of meaning.

Private property is a tool. It is a tool that can be used in a free and fair market to empower people and enrich society. It is also a tool that can be used to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the many. Let's try to keep that in sight when we start talking about "other people's money", shall we? In return, I'll leave off the Marxist rhetoric.

Posted by smijer at 10:42 PM | Comments (48)

Bad

from - smijer

I'm not happy to hear that Trippi got canned. Roy Neel had better have a real strategy for Feb 3. This isn't the time to shake up a campaign, or pry loose the guy who got it the needed attention in the first place.

Posted by smijer at 09:21 PM | Comments (4)

Shorter Neal Boortz, Reprised

from - smijer

Shorter worked before. So let's try it again.

Shorter Neal Boortz:

Freedom means freedom to fend for yourself in the job market, even if the job market is substantially smaller than the working age population. Freedom means not being part of a society that takes responsibility for its own people. Freedom means not having to pay taxes: with or without representation.

Longer version can be found here today, and here tomorrow. (Much, much, much longer)

Posted by smijer at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

No Blogging

from - smijer

Until tonight. Busy Busy Busy.

Posted by smijer at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Fat Lady? I Don't Hear No Fat Lady...

from - smijer

I would have liked it better if Dean's second was a little closer to Kerry's numbers, but he's got a ticket out of New Hampshire. Hold on tight, the campaigns move south next.

Posted by smijer at 09:14 PM | Comments (7)

Al "The Body" Franken

from - smijer

Al takes down a heckler WWF Style at the Dean Rally. Great stuff.

Posted by smijer at 06:15 PM | Comments (7)

Stay away from evil

from - smijer

Stay away from evil pharyngula today. He's got evil biology over there.

Posted by smijer at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Debt

from - smijer

I notice the conventional wisdom on the right is that the historic deficits now being run by the government are more a result of increased spending than decreased taxes. I've never bought that. Yes, spending has increased - but taxes have been cut even more dramatically. It is akin to a situation where a person making $50,000 and spending all of it decides he can afford to take a job that only pays $30,000 while increasing spending to $55,000 with the help of a credit card. It's just bad economics. So I had kind of a sense of validation when I read this:

A recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities does the math. While overall government spending has risen rapidly since 2001, the great bulk of that increase can be attributed either to outlays on defense and homeland security, or to types of government spending, like unemployment insurance, that automatically rise when the economy is depressed.

Why, then, do we face the prospect of huge deficits as far as the eye can see? Part of the answer is the surge in defense and homeland security spending. The main reason for deficits, however, is that revenues have plunged. Federal tax receipts as a share of national income are now at their lowest level since 1950.

Of course, most people don't feel that their taxes have fallen sharply. And they're right: taxes that fall mainly on middle-income Americans, like the payroll tax, are still near historic highs. The decline in revenue has come almost entirely from taxes that are mostly paid by the richest 5 percent of families: the personal income tax and the corporate profits tax. These taxes combined now take a smaller share of national income than in any year since World War II.
{emphasis added}

OK, OK, it's from a Krugman op-ed.. However, he's relying on a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who got their data from the Congressional Budget Office. The math isn't all that complex, and pretty easy to follow. I'm not sure where he got the data on who gets all the tax cuts, but what he says makes sense.

I'm not sure I buy into the theory that the policy-makers in the Bush administration are opting in to the "starve-the-beast" philosophy of Grover Norquist and his ilk... meaning I'm not sure whether this is a deliberate sabotage against popular New Deal entitlements. I do know that it is irresponsible, and not just on the spending side.

Something to ponder while we wait on the NH returns.

Posted by smijer at 12:32 PM | Comments (7)

Shorter Neal Boortz

from - smijer

I've been resisting the temptation to jump on the "shorter" bandwagon, but if ever a Nuze page called for it, today's does (today - tomorrow). So, Shorter Neal Boortz:

Democrats are power hungry, and all of them are overly concerned with political correctness, even the ones who are not.

Posted by smijer at 07:24 AM | Comments (3)

January 26, 2004

Invitation For Comments

from - smijer

A few years ago, I had a wonderful friend (initials "S."J.W.) In a discussion about justice, I asked him to distinguish between the ideas of "justice" and "revenge". His answer: they are one and the same. Well, a few minutes ago I found a reminder of that conversation. I was reading Atrios who directed me to this entry at talk left. The comment section there devolved into a discussion of "justice", whether it is equivalent to "revenge", whether it is "absolute", and what, exactly, it "is". I'll withhold my own comments for a while. I would rather like to know what you think justice means, whether you think it is an absolute, and how one can recognize it. So, please leave me some comments and tell me what you think!

Posted by smijer at 09:36 PM | Comments (19)

Primary Eve Predictions

from - smijer

It is with much fear and trepidation that I go on record with my New Hampshire prediction. For Iowa, I adhered to the Kossian wisdom just a mite too much. This time I'm going to buck everybody, put on my rose-colored glasses, whistle past the graveyard, keep my chin up, look on the sunny side, knock on wood, and predict a suprise Dean win. Here are the numbers I cooked up to support that prediction:

Dean: 28%
Kerry: 26%
Edwards: 19%
Clark: 12%
Lieberman: 8%
Kucinich: 6%
Sharpton: 1%

Posted by smijer at 06:31 PM | Comments (1)

Hume's Helper

from - smijer

Neal Boortz is reporting from New Hampshire today (Today's Nuze today, and today's Nuze tomorrow)

Speaking of New Hampshire, you ought to know that there are some anonymous dirty tricks going on there.

In New Hampshire, Neal is working hard on trashing his betters. Specifically, he is trashing General Clark. It seems what has gotten Neal's underwear bunched up is the fact that Michael Moore endorsed Wes Clark, and that Moore talked up the story of Bush's missing period during his supposed National Guard service during Vietnam. He says of Moore, " Moore is a proven liar. His film "Bowling for Columbine" was so full of factual errors that it could only be ranked as a work of complete fiction. Nice to have people like that on your side, isn't it?" That's kind of ironic, because you've seen that Neal Boortz column is pretty full of factual errors itself. Actually, I bet we have more factual errors documented on Boortz than anyone does on Moore.

The moral is, you better not vote for Bush, because one of his most influential media supporters can't tell the truth!

Here, South Knox Bubba (a Clark supporter) gives his take on the Michael Moore non-story.

But Moore's support for Clark isn't Clark's only crime. Apparently the fact that he complained about Brit Hume's recycled "gotcha!" question is enough to make Neal Boortz think the general has gone soft. Neal has the temerity to ask, "Clark says that Hume was asking questions from the Republican perspective. And this guy's military? This is all the heat he can take?"

No, that's not all that he can take, Neal. He took some VC bullets, too. While you were in a dimly lit radio booth playing apologist for the domino theory, he was out there in the rice paddies getting shot. Here's how the story appears on his Silver Star award:

As the friendly force maneuvered through the treacherous region, it was suddenly subjected to an intense small arms fire from a well-concealed insurgent element. Although painfully wounded in the initial volley, Captain Clark immediately directed his men on a counter-assault of the enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Captain Clark remained with his unit until the reactionary force arrived and the situation was well in hand. His courageous initiative and exemplary professionalism significantly contributed to the successful outcome of the engagement. Captain Clark's unquestionable valor in close combat against a hostile force is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

Of all the stupid, boneheaded things for a chicken-hawk to say, that General Clark can't take heat must rank near the top.

Now, Brit Hume, like Boortz, is a well known apologist for the right and for the Bush administration. His question, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out, was a "gotcha" process question - not (as Boortz would have you believe) a "tough" policy question. In a media environment where issues are beneath contempt, and stupid "gotcha" policy questions are the rule of the day, it may not be obvious to Boortz and the other radio jocks, but there is validity to that complaint.

My big question is why the non-serious candidate (Sharpton) got one of the few serious questions during that debate.

There seems to be little left to cover from the Nuze page today. Maybe Boortz will talk about something substantive tomorrow, and we can have a livelier discussion. But probably he'll just whine about how weak our various war heroes are.

Posted by smijer at 07:45 AM | Comments (5)

January 25, 2004

Adopt-a-Journalist

from - smijer

I've added a couple o' more links to the "Media Watch" box. My question is, why isn't anybody adopting Nedra Pickler? You know, Atrios does such a great job on her stuff...

Update: Wow! that was quick! I must have missed that one before...

I guess my next question is, why doesn't someone make a standardized lay-out for the adopt-a-journalist blogroll, keep it up-to-date, and leave it posted where the rest of us can refer to it?

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

Just a Little Late

from - smijer

I have always had a lot of respect for and faith in Colin Powell. The last 12 months have shaken it badly. I maintain the belief that Powell is doing all he can to make the best of a bad situation, and to be a voice of moderation in an administration filled with ideologues and schemers. Nevertheless, this admission is just a little too late coming:

Powell was asked about comments last week by David Kay, the outgoing leader of a U.S. weapons search team in Iraq, that he did not believe Iraq had large quantities of chemical or biological weapons.

"The answer to that question is, we don't know yet," Powell told reporters as he traveled to this former Soviet republic to attend the inauguration Sunday of President-elect Mikhail Saakashvili.

You didn't hear anything like that from the administration last year. Instead, we heard this:

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.

The truth is they knew no such thing. So, my question is, why couldn't they trust us with the facts? Why couldn't America's leaders stand up on national television and tell us that they were pretty suspicious, but didn't have any reliable knowledge of WMD's in Iraq? Why couldn't we have leaders with enough backbone to tell the truth? Is it because we don't have citizens with enough interest to hold them accountable for the deception?

Update... I shouldn't keep stewing over this, but I've got to add a little more to this post. Remember why we went to war? Click to continue & I'll remind you...

If Saddam Hussein will not disarm, "the United States of America and friends of freedom will disarm Saddam Hussein," President Bush vowed today in St. Louis, Mo.

The Iraqi dictator is "a dangerous, dangerous man with dangerous, dangerous weapons," the president said. "He's a danger to America and our friends and allies, and that's why the world has said 'disarm.'"

Bush said he desires peace and hopes Hussein will disarm voluntarily. He also said he takes seriously "the commitment of any troop into combat."

link

The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

link

I noticed the link also refers to Bush's cherry-picking of intelligence assessments suggesting unmanned aerial vehicles were included in (UAV) in Iraq's arsenal to deliver WMD's: a view disputed by USAF intelligence, and ultimately proven incorrect.

Even with all the deception, American support for the war was soft. From the CBC pre-war link above: "Recent polls show about 60 per cent of Americans support a war against Iraq, but the numbers are much softer when those polled are asked to consider U.S. casualties, or a war without the support of the United Nations." No wonder they felt it necessary to deceive us...

Posted by smijer at 09:12 AM | Comments (1)

Meanwhile, on Mars

from - smijer

Another visitor landed safely on Mars today. Opportunity will be searching for evidence of liquid water in Mars' past, and sends us back a postcard:

Posted by smijer at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2004

Iraq Torture Bad

from - smijer

Syria Torture Good.

Posted by smijer at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Weekend Around Town

from - smijer

I'm very lucky to live where I do. I got up early and had to rush out without even adding a blog entry, so I could join a wonderful family from town and help walk a precint for Dean. Before we were completely finished with the identified Democrats from just that one precinct, I had to excuse myself for an eye appointment. The weather was very fine. I don't envy people canvassing in Iowa and New Hampshire in the frigid weather of the midwest and northeast.

Now it's six o'clock on Saturday and that means its time for A Prairie Home Companion. Tune it in on your local public radio station, or listen live on mine.

Later, we're going to the used bookstore, and tomorrow maybe will take a walk down on the Riverwalk. I hope your weekend is just as pleasant.

Update: Listening to Prairie Home, I learn that Leon Redbone is absolutely fantastic. I hadn't ever paid him attention before. Note to self: buy Leon Redbone CD's.

Posted by smijer at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2004

Friday Boortz

from - smijer

Here's a great question from Neal, about the Democratic candidates: "And one other thing....what are all these guys going to do if the weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq before the election?"
He forgot to include the multiple choices options. Here they are:

a) book a snow-skiing trip for the seventh circle of Hell
b) go find Hans Blix. Shake his hand. Explain why we get a year and half, and he only gets six weeks.
c) grudgingly admit that we've been "misunderestimating" George Bush all along. Be impressed by the ensuing smirk.
d) finally quit playing stupid radio games of the "but what if there really ARE weapons of mass destruction?" variety

Coming back to Earth with the rest of Neal's Friday Nuze page, I find I do have to grudgingly give him credit for a couple of things:
1) His portrayal of Dean's campaign finance proposals was factually accurate!

Also, while he confuses individual free speech with some sort of right to unrestricted solicitation of funds for campaigns, I actually agree with him that Dean's proposal is no good. It does effectively give a group of people the ability to designate a part of the general treasury for a candidate's campaign at no cost to themselves, and I agree that is inappropriate. Not the "stupidest idea ever" by a long stretch (doesn't Boortz listen to his own show?), but a bad idea nonetheless.

2) As a political thinker Boortz is sorely lacking. As an entertainer, he is much better. He shared a video of a young man doing a contortionist dance today. That was very entertaining.

And, Colin Powell get's a big hardy pat on the back from Neal Boortz for saying something that might (hopefully?) fuel anti-French sentiment. I think that's a bit of a stretch, and Powell is actually a quite able diplomat. Contrary to Boortz' expectations, the French actually have a sense of humor. But Neal gives kudos to Colin for doing something that might, possibly, conceivably, offend them. That'll help make America great. Or something.

Nealz Nuze - Today's page, today, and Today's page, tomorrow

Posted by smijer at 07:56 AM | Comments (25)

Format Change

from - smijer

Ricky mentioned in the comments that Americans are pretty serious about Ben and J-Lo... much more so than things that actually affect them. I could complain about how shallow that is, but this is America and people really do have a right to choose what hey care about. So, instead of just doggedly pursuing the irrelevancies of public policy, I am going to start paying a lot more attention to pop culture, and offer some "Junk Food for the Soul" for the readers of this blog. Without further ado, see this exclusive interview with Ben and J-Lo!

Posted by smijer at 07:25 AM | Comments (3)

Tailgate Party

from - smijer

Janet is hosting it.

Posted by smijer at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2004

Hits!

from - smijer

I notice that a lot of my search referrals lately are along the lines of "Howard Dean + shriek + Iowa", or some permutation thereof.

I don't get so many hits from people looking for "war + Iraq + casualties". Funny what people care about.

Posted by smijer at 10:03 PM | Comments (5)

Debate Nite Short

from - smijer

It's good that there isn't much, apart from a possibly premature celebration of Dean's exit from the race, that Boortz has to say to day worth a response. I don't know why it's such huge news to him that a couple of women who filed a frivolous law suit lost... I won't speculate. I'm going to spend my time watching the debate. Before that, I must comment on this:

Boy, it sure would be nice if North Korea would just come right out and show us their nuclear weapons, wouldn't it? Believe it or not, that was the strategy used by Dr. Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos nuclear research laboratory.

Visiting North Korea as part of a private delegation, Dr. Hecker testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that he couldn't be sure Pyongyang had any actual nuclear weapons because they hadn't shown him any. That's right, he actually expected to just waltz right in and see some nuclear warheads. What a dolt.

I want you to examine what is being said here. Dr. Hecker did the responsible thing when he reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his North Korean visit. He accurately reported that he couldn't be certain Korea has nukes. For this, he was subjected to inaccurate ridicule from Neal Boortz. Boortz inaccurately suggested that Hecker expected the Koreans to show him their nukes. Well, no. There's nothing to indicate that. Just a responsibly accurate report that he didn't see them.

So, to make Boortz happy, this guy apparently should have come back & reported that he was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that North Korea had nukes, despite not having seen them. We all suspect that N Korea has nukes, and they claim to have. Why isn't that enough for people like Boortz? Why does he demand that people lie and pretend they know more than they do?

No wonder he so eagerly supports the Bush administration. It's a match made in heaven.

Posted by smijer at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

Howard Dean, A Meditation

from - smijer

Update: Those of you who found this entry looking for the audio or video clip of the "Dean Howl", or just a remix thereof: you can find the entire collection right here. I hope you'll linger long enough to read my take on it...

And heck while you're here, why not just click the link to my main page and fill up on good ideas, acerbic wit, and biting satire..... On to my original post, below:

Ezra at pandagon has found a highly amusing remix of Howard Dean's post-Iowa "war-cry". I just thought I would share that. Now I'm going to talk about this "war-cry".

I find myself asking, how many Americans are unthoughtful enough to accept the media explanation of Dean's vocalization as some primal cry of anguish or anger? Unfortunately, the answer is probably too many. In fact, there's a decent chance that one or two of them are reading my blog right now. So, to those of you who got a chuckle out of the sound and moved on, please skip the next paragraph and click to continue reading below.

Ok, to those who think Dean must have come "unhinged" Monday night, judging by that hideous noise he made during his speech: you are almost certainly wrong. That's the picture painted by Matt Drudge, and a few other of Dean's media enemies (don't you long for the days when a politician's biggest enemy was usually another politician?). After shouting from a stage for months on end, Dean's voice was already shot. Monday night, in an effort to re-energize a large group of campaign volunteers who felt miserable over the Iowa defeat, Dean shouted a long series of affirmations about the campaign, the hoarse quality of his voice evident even before it gave out. At the end of this stream of shouted reassurances, Dean tried to shout something else. Maybe "Yeah!" or "Yes!". Maybe "Yahoo!"... Who knows? What matters is that it was exactly that point when his voice gave out completely, turning his shout into a falsetto scream. A lost voice is not evidence of Dean "flipping out". Nonetheless, Matt Drudge led the audio clip on his page with unflattering pictures of the Governor and the caption "Dean Goes Nuts" (or some such). Others, pundits and reporters alike, piled on...

This is the point where this post becomes a meditation. Monday night, Dean lost Iowa in an historically dismal defeat. On the same night, he lost his voice in a very unappealling way, leaving his enemies plenty of room to spin that he is "out of control." I've followed him and his campaign closely for a half year, and it's readily apparent to me that Dean is far more "in control" than our current President, and some of the other candidates. But that won't keep this sound, and it's repetition by the media (who always prefer a story like this than one of substance) from hurting Dean's chances, and it won't keep Dean's two Monday night losses from turning a number of more shallow-minded voters off of his candidacy.

And so, I have to ask where I go if Dean becomes unviable.

Dean is the anti-Bush. Dean has opposed each harmful policy of the Bush administration, from the very beginning. He has done it forcefully and with passion, and he has a talent for expressing that opposition in a positive and empowering way. His criticisms of Bush are infectious. They appeal to fundamental values that most Americans share. They are attacks, but their effectiveness lies in the fact that they are inherently positive: the attack implicitly defines the possibility for a better way. That's why Dean's campaign is so strong. And that's why Dean's campaign is destined to help the eventual Democratic nominee, no matter who it is.

Dean represents me. He represents anyone who is repulsed by this administration's callous disregard for the truth. He represents anyone who is shocked by this administration's casual departure from traditional American values about war. He represents anyone who is appalled that this president stood on stage and advocated a constitutional amendment designed to nothing more than exclude a group of people from sharing equal rights with the rest of us.

So, even if Dean's candidacy does become unviable, I'll support him in whatever small way I can. Until he drops out, even if he becomes a vanity candidate a la' Kucinich and Sharpton, I'm behind him. If he can't win the nomination (and if he can't I hope Clark does...), he's still the most compelling voice out there speaking up for what's right, and speaking up for me.

Posted by smijer at 07:32 AM | Comments (8)

January 21, 2004

Day Off

from - smijer

I'll be taking the day off today. If (or when) Boortz says something off the wall today, I will try to include a note of it tomorrow. If you are still hankerin' for some good reading, try my blog-roll.

Posted by smijer at 07:26 AM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2004

State of The Union

from - smijer

Following the leadership of the President, I did not watch the State of the Union, because I was afraid it might have some opinions mixed in with it. I will be getting the State of the Union information "unfiltered" from my advisors, after they recover from their drinking games.

Posted by smijer at 11:13 PM | Comments (12)

All Better Now

from - smijer

If you logged on in the past two hours, you may have noticed that I've had some technical difficulties. I believe them all to be resolved now.

{whew!}

Posted by smijer at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Thoughts

from - smijer

Last week, culminating last night, was an amazing show. I've never seen two pols look so, err.. unstartable..., and go on to blaze past the guy with all the buzz and the guy with the home court advantage like they did.

I'll say this: It was a bad day for the people who wanted to see cooler heads to prevail on Iraq. Dean lost big, while Kucinich threw his support to one of the war-bandwagoneers-cum-winners (how's that for hyphenated-word-construction?). So, the only two who had the commen sense or courage to oppose the biggest foreign-policy blunder this side of the Gulf of Tonkin came out without significant anti-war support at caucus. I hope that's just Iowa.

You can count me among those who will punch for Clark if Dean continues to lose steam.

The State of the Union is on tonight. Don't forget to download your free scorecard here (pdf), courtesy of Tompaine.com.

P.S. Props to Adam Felber for the best SOTU drinking drinking game. Also to SK Bubba for having the best SOTU non-drinking drinking game.

Posted by smijer at 06:53 AM | Comments (1)

January 19, 2004

Well...

from - smijer

Phooey.

Posted by smijer at 09:48 PM | Comments (14)

For Today

from - smijer

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land." - Martin Luther King, Jr., December 10, 1964

Posted by smijer at 07:46 PM | Comments (24)

Justice is Duck Blind

from - smijer

A friend of mine pointed this out to me today. It doesn't bear commenting on. It speaks for itself. But, just in case you haven't heard through your own quality news source already, Dick & Tony went huntin', during Dick's appeal to Tony's court.

Posted by smijer at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

Nuze Pickering

from - smijer

Sorry about that header, there.

I'm going to skip the gossip column today, and just talk about the Charles Pickering appointment. Neal Boortz talked about it today, but he missed the mark on a couple of items of fact, and didn't tell the story very well.

George W. Bush made a recess appointment to the 5th circuit on Friday. The judge he appointed was Charles Pickering.

First, Boortz contends that Clinton made a recess appointment of Bill Lan Lee, and then refused to submit him for confirmation upon the return of Congress, illegally keeping him in office. I suppose that all recess appointments are created equal in Boortz' mind. But it doesn't matter becase the fact is that Boortz is incorrect on this point. Clinton appointed Lan Lee as "acting director", a position that does not require confirmation.

Boortz brings up John Kerry's condemnation of the Pickering appointment, then goes on to tell the story of Pickering's advocacy for one of the three defendants in a 1995 cross-burning case. It seems that Pickering either did not understand or did not agree with the sentencing guidelines in the case. He disputed them to the prosecutors, demanding that they consult with Janet Reno directly and report back to him before sentencing (I'd say that's pretty "forceful advocacy", myself). Neal says that the defendant in question just "sat in the truck". I don't have court transcripts, but the obnoxiously conservative National Review On-line edition says of Swan (the defendant), "Swan was found guilty — there was no doubt that he had taken an active role in the cross burning...". That doesn't sound like "just sitting in the truck" to me.

So, the main reasons Swan got a stricter sentence than the other two who participated were: 1) He was not mentally retarded, 2) he was not a minor, and 3) he refused to plea-bargain.

But the question remains... was Pickering's advocacy for the cross-burner something minorities and civil rights advocates should hold against him? Or was he merely doing his job as judge in a tough case where the law was unclear?

We may not know the answer to this, but we can look at the rest of his record and find out why the Democrats are upset about his appointment. According to CNN, he has voiced criticism of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and once wrote a law review article suggesting ways to amend Mississipi's law banning interracial marriage so that it would pass court challenges. That's a pretty rough record for a federal court judge. Appointing this judge is also an ironic thing for a president to do just after dropping some flowers off at MLK's tomb on his way to a fund-raiser. I wouldn't call a person a "demagogue" for condemning this action. Neal Boortz would though. You can find it here today, and here tomorrow.

Posted by smijer at 05:43 PM | Comments (10)

January 18, 2004

GOP Blog

from - smijer

Well, its been about 24 hours since I submitted my mildly reproachful feedback to Ed Gillespie's GOP Blog.

It turns out they don't like feedback that much.

Posted by smijer at 08:26 PM | Comments (1)

Media Watch

from - smijer

Here's the short story. Atrios suggested that bloggers with a little free time should "adopt" a journalist (not pundit) to follow and critique in depth with regard to their their campaign coverage.

He suggested that it be self-organized (or organized by someone other than him).

I mentioned my on-going Boortz project in the comments of that thread, noting that it really wasn't what he was looking for since I was covering a pundit instead of a journalist, and that I was not often willing to go in depth. It seems that Liberal Pride and Eric at BalzBlog picked up on this and added a link to my Boortz stuff to their Media Watch links. So, I guess I will have to get on the ball and start doing a better job.

I think its a good idea. It's good enough that I have included a Media Watch Box on my page on the upper right. I've also included a link to the Campaign Desk, which is an effort on the part of the Columbia Journalism Review to serve as a 2004 watchdog for the media as a whole.

We'll see if these self-organizing bloggers can have an impact on the media process. And I'll continue to do my own little part as the "Nealz Nemesiz".

Posted by smijer at 11:57 AM | Comments (8)

Iowa

from - smijer

Tomorrow the Iowans caucus. Kerry leads in most of the polls now, following a suprising comeback. Edwards is gaining ground and Gephardt has clearly jumped the shark.

Here's the outcome I expect: Dean 25% Kerry 24% Gephardt 20% Edwards 19%. Turnout should be high. This should be good for both the winner and the nominee, because the easiest story for our challenged press to run will be "X's supporters energized!" Barring the escape and re-capture of Saddam Hussein, that should earn us a good few days of positive press coverage for the Dems, including the Iowa winner.

I'm doing what a lot of the Kossacks are doing and giving Dean and Gephardt advantages over their polling status because of their incredible field operations. Rumor has it that one or more of the candidates are enlisting out-of-state day-care workers so more than one family member from favored households can go caucus. It should be a very interesting battle.

Posted by smijer at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)

January 17, 2004

Body & Soul

from - smijer

One of the best blogs out there, hands down, is Body and Soul. I've finally done the right thing and added her to the links (yeah, up there with the liberals).

She's blogged twice lately about the case of Maher Arar. You should go read it, here, and here. I knew a little about the story from the snippets of discussion caught on NPR on my drive home, and passing references to it in other blogs. If you haven't heard about Arar before, you should find out.

Posted by smijer at 08:59 PM | Comments (1)

Straw House

from - smijer

I encourage you to go and read this blog entry, that I came upon while reading NGD. I suggest you read the entry in its entirety, and the other readers' comments. I suggest that each time you encounter the moral argument for war to remove an abusive dictator, you remind yoursef that there was never any diplomatic pressure on Saddam Hussein to reign in the cruelty of his security forces, and that the major atrocities of the Hussein regime happened during times of war long past. I suggest that each time you encounter the argument that war was done in order to remove a future threat of WMD, you remind yourself that Hussein had submitted to a very intrusive inspections regime after only the mere threat of force, and that the best evidence ever presented never suggested he was even close to being able to threaten America or his neighbors with any kind of non-conventional weapon.

I suggest that, if you do so, you will find you begin to recognize just how weak this "shifting justification" for war is. On the other hand, each of the arguments - taken out of the context of our most recent overseas expedition - seems to be a sensible one. And so, instead of further criticizing the procrustean bed these arguments must be made to fit in order to find some post hoc justification for the Bush war, I will present an outlined plan for a more coherent and successful approach to securing the desirable ends of human rights and non-proliferation.

One note before I begin: I will not include in my outline a plan for combatting terrorist groups. I believe that this effort should be a fairly straightforward operation carried out with all intensity in a combined effort from our military and intelligence agencies, and those of our allies overseas. I consider false on their face the apologists' claims that our actions in Iraq had significant effect upon - or were motivated by - our need to be secure from terrorist attack. I won't otherwise address those claims.

The outline:

1) Create a diplomatic policy of furthering human rights around the world. Enlist the cooperation of all allies. Use diplomatic and economic incentives where possible to foment liberal reform, use sanctions where incentives fail, and use force only as an extreme last resort, and only in a case of humanitarian crisis. Above all, apply this policy consistently. Do not allow other, less important, strategic or economic benefits for the U.S. or its allies to create a selective enforcement of the policy.

2) Create a similar policy with regards to non-conventional weapons proliferation. The eventual goal should be the complete disarmament of all parties, without exception. Rigorous international inspections should be a centerpiece of this policy, and the U.S. and all allies should be committed to participation in that program.

3) As more nations come into compliance on these policies, accept their assistance as allies to further the policy goals with nations closer to their sphere of influence. Acknowledge and respect the spheres of influence of other world powers, and the sovereignty of other states.

4) Make these policies and U.S. adherence to them transparent. Leave no room for the enemies of the U.S. to portray us as cultural or geopolitical imperialists.

5) War must only follow a direct attack, imminent threat, or a well-evidenced crisis of human rights or non-conventional weapons deployment and an ultimatum for the resolution of that crisis.

I believe that the U.S., even now, has the moral credibility to take the lion's share of leadership in creating a world climate where the abuse of human rights and the proliferation of WMD's is so discouraged as to become an extreme rarity.

Posted by smijer at 01:11 PM | Comments (3)

Requiem, with a Plan

from - smijer

I'm just as saddened and peeved as everyone else about the DNR order for the Hubble Telescope. Maybe this isn't a realistic thing, but wouldn't it be grand if the Democratic presidential candidate could include the revival of Hubble as part of his 2004 campaign? It would certainly help any candidate, but especially a fiscally conservative one (hint, hint) draw the distinction between himself as a hard-nosed realist, and the President as a spendthrift dreamer who cannot see the connection between his efforts and the future reality for America and the world.

I would love to see a revival of the Hubble incorporated into a positive and responsible vision for America and the space program in the 2004 campaign. That said, I'm probably being overly optimistic. So, here are some old pictures from Hubble to remember it by:


antnebula.bmp
(The Ant Nebula)

deepfld.bmp
(Deep space field)

pillarsnebula.bmp
(Pillars nebula)

whirlpoolgal.bmp
(Whirlpool Galaxy)

planetarynebula.JPG
(a planetary nebula)

Posted by smijer at 08:49 AM | Comments (1)

January 16, 2004

Flat-Earth Radio

from - smijer

The irony overwhelmes. In today's Nuze page (today...tomorrow), the guy who regularly refers to the Mrs. clinton as "Hitlery", and who suggests you visit a website comparing Al Gore to the Unabomber, whimpers and cries over the guys who submitted ads to the MoveOn.org contest comparing Bush to Hitler.

Neal rehashes his desperate battle against scientific reality today, and offers three pages from the political web-site nationalcenter.org for back up. Here's the real science from a private and notoriously conservative university that knows a thing or two about science.

Tax exempt savings accounts top the Nuze today. Neal expects democrats to object that this another tax shelter for those who need it least, and that is a valid objection. But, what with the whole "tax cuts stimulate the economy" tunnel vision, wouldn't you expect him to notice that these savings account tax breaks are a powerful incentive for people to take more money out of the economy?

Last thing. Neal spins on the reported finding of uranium oxide that may have originated in Iraq. Points:

1) May have. Big maybe.
2) So what? When Bush made the SOU address including the uranium claims, he didn't state that "We think there may be uranium in Iraq" - he said that Iraq was actively trying to acquire it from Africa, knowing that this was based on bad evidence. It doesn't matter if Iraq had a 20 pounds of uranium or 20 tons of it. The evidence was wrong. The administration knew it. They had no business presenting it to the American people as fact.
3) 20 pounds of yellowcake is not enough to make a toy pistol.
4) By the way, remember the WMD claims Boortz made a day or two based on the blister agent found on long-buried mortar shells? Wrong again. It's funny in a sad way to see Bush apologists getting so desperate.

Posted by smijer at 09:47 AM | Comments (12)

Bonus Points

from - smijer

It looks like I'm the only one getting any bonus points. So, all awarded to me...

5 points for Rush

15 points for The Washington Times (Those wacky Moonies!)

1 point a piece for these guys, and him

That's 27 points for me!

Ok, take two off, because David Appell thinks Al should have seen it coming. Still, 25 points ain't too shabby.

Update: 5 points for Bob Somberby for nailing Brit Hume. I'm still way out ahead of the Howler though, with 27 points + 1 for noticing Hume after Bob pointed him out. That's 28 to 5 for smijer!

Posted by smijer at 07:09 AM | Comments (4)

January 15, 2004

Coordinated?

from - smijer

You gotta give it to the GOP. They coordinate their message.

This morning, Drudge opined:

GORE TO WARN OF 'GLOBAL WARMING' ON NEW YORK CITY'S COLDEST DAY IN DECADES!

In what political watchers are calling possibly the biggest gaffe in years, former Vice President Al Gore is set to give a speech tomorrow on the perils of global warming -- on what is expected to be the coldest day in New England in nearly half a century!

{found here}

Just a few minutes later, Neal Boortz piped up:

GORE'S BACK ON THAT GLOBAL WARMING NONSENSE AGAIN ...

.... and he picked the coldest day of the year in New York City to do it. The purpose of Al Gore's speech in NYC today is to slam Bush for his "inaction" on global warming. Gore isn't going to be deterred by the fact that the temperature in New York is supposed to be the coldest in ten years .. 1 degree above zero. In fact, he's reportedly going to make the case that this cold weather is actually caused by global warming which, of course, is caused by George Bush.


{located on Neal'z Nuze front page today, and in the archive after today}

Not long after, Roy Blunt (R- MO) joined the chorus:

"It is fitting that Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush Administration's record on global warming. Mother Nature didn't agree with his message and neither do I. Al, it's cold outside.

{Reported here, with hat-tip to scottesposito at kos}

Some observations.

1) These republicans are willing to make themselves look a little bit stupid to people who know the first thing about global warming in order to fleece those who don't. Either that, or they just are stupid. I'm betting on the former. In case there are people who don't know about global warming reading, I'm no expert, but I know that scientists consider it a cause for more severe weather in general: including colder winter storms.

2) These republicans have absolutely no respect for science.

3) They are either a gaggle of plagiarizers, or they are obnoxiously on-message. Where do they get the script? Is drudge their go-to man, or does he get the same memo as everyone else?

Bonus points to anyone who can provide transcripts from other right-wing talking heads spewing this same non-sense line.

Posted by smijer at 07:00 PM | Comments (29)

Boycott Brazil Nuts

from - smijer

I couldn't help notice that the opening segment of today's Nuze (Today...Tomorrow) was basically an appeal from Boortz for America to become the sort of nation that can dish it out but cannot take it. He salutes the pilot who gave the Brazillians a sample of what Boortz must consider American class and moral dignity, using a single-fingered salute of his own. And he thinks they should grow up.

Boortz wants to play scientist again today. He says, "We're not going to go through the evidence again here ... suffice it to say that their is absolutely no scientific evidence out there which shows that any measurable increase in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere is being caused by the actions of man." Hint to Boortz... when you are playing make-believe scientist, try citing the scientific literature. What? No, that doesn't mean "like Robert Heinlein." ... oh, never mind.

Boortz fans, here's a hint for you. Don't ask Marx about Capitalism, don't ask a creationist about evolution, and don't ask a radio Flunky for the GOP about global warming.

Neal disrespects Carol Moseley-Braun, perhaps the most statesmanlike of the Democratic candidates. Cut away his coughing, wheezing, race- and gender-baiting, and we are left with one basic statement. I will quote directly - "And how could this woman spend four months on the campaign trail without someone pointing out the aura of corruption that surrounded her when she had her local government job in Chicago?" Notice that: an "AURA of corruption". Not corruption. Not actual misdeeds. Not actually being corrupt. But because she had the nerve to let her political opponents paint her with an "aura", well then - they are just going to keep doing it. By the way, did you hear? George Bush has an "aura" of incompetence. Spread the word.

When doing his poll-reading schtick, Boortz opines: "Bill and Hillary do not, under any circumstances, want to see a Democrat win in 2004." Don't ever play a drinking game in which you must drink each time you hear this from the GOP spin machine.

And Boortz, who just yesterday made the bald-faced claim that liberals couldn't deal with facts and logic, makes the horrid argument that Dean must have an identical stance on Iraq and Bosnia, despite the fact that the two cases were different in basically every major respect. Think, people.

Posted by smijer at 08:10 AM | Comments (13)

Ill Wind

from - smijer

Alas that I chose to make Thursday "bad news day". Yesterday, it could have been "Ill Wind Wednesday". There is good and bad news out of late, but I'm going to focus on the bad today. For one, Mrs. smijer has the flu. That means its probably the flu that has got me down in the doldrums, too. But the worst "news" of the day is this:

Georgia "Democrats" on board for Bush

Zig Zag Zell's apostasy is old news by now. The fact that other Georgia democrats have climbed onto that band-wagon is bad news. Let's be clear: George W. Bush doesn't give real support to any core Democratic principals. To endorse him as president is to to endorse the apotheosis of liberal principals as the governing philosophy for this country.

This is bad for Democrats, of course. Georgia is already solidly Bush anyway, but this provides the GOP a little more ammunition nationwide. Perhaps more importantly, will make the democratic candidates' coattails very short in Georgia and the region. Besides being bad for Democrats, though, this is bad for Georgia. These are the early signs of Democratic party capitulation in the state. That means Georgia no will no longer have an opposition party. In Georgia, you have two Republican parties. That's not a politically healthy situation. Maybe its time for the greens to take up the banner of liberal politics in Georgia.

Another small item. Via Cal Pundit: smaller government my foot.

And that's some of the news that's bad news. I hope your day is better.

Posted by smijer at 07:24 AM | Comments (16)

January 14, 2004

Support Your Independent Bookseller

from - smijer

I'm not saying you should, but if you planning to buy The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind (the one Paul O'Neill was a key source for), please support an indee book store. Find one near you:
If you wish to direct this purchase to your closest independent bookstore with Book Sense, enter your Zip code below before pressing the button. (If you do not enter your Zip, a Book Sense store will be chosen for you at random.)


Posted by smijer at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

Kosovo vs Iraq

from - smijer

I don't think Oliver goes far enough in drawing out the differences between Iraq and Kosovo inthis post. (I know, I know - enough Oliver Willis, already! Ok, I'll give him a break after this one).

He makes an excellent start of pointing out the differences. But he fails to make a point or two explicit. For instance, when he laments that much of the Iraqi body count was being created when the U.S. was still giving Iraq clandestine support, he neglects to make it explicit that there was no on-going mass-murder on record at the time of our invasion. In other words, unlike Kosovo, we were not doing this to stop a mass murder. There were human rights abuses and torture still going on in Iraq (as in other countries we still support), but not mass-murder.

Of course, the shifting justification for the war has been apparent for some time to all but the most teary-eyed of Bush supporters - who only remember that he definitely mentioned "other reasons" besides WMD for going to war. But even those most dedicated of Bush apologists must acknowledge that, whether or not Bush really entertained human rights violations as a reason for war, he certainly never took the bold step of demanding they be stopped, and threatening to stop them by force if they were not stopped otherwise.

When Clinton decided to intercede in Kosovo, it was after NATO issued an ultimatum addressing the humanitarian crisis. Milosovic and the KLA had a chance to end the atrocities and avoid war. The Iraqis never had that option. That's a huge difference.

I'll assert now, and I'll stand by this with regard to any conflict the U.S. has engaged in. Furthermore, I believe my thinking to be representative of mainstream and traditional American and European thought on war not provoked by imminent threat or actual agression: The need for intervention must be compelling and transparent, and there must be an option for avoiding the war by eliminating the need for it.

There was nothing the Iraqis could have done to avoid this war.

Posted by smijer at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

Science Blog

from - smijer

I've just discovered that PZ Myers, of the University of Minnesota, Morris, has an excellent web-log dedicated to biology and evolution. Give it a read. Here. (It'll be on the blog-roll to yer left, too).

Posted by smijer at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday

from - smijer

I'm sorry, fans of Boortz. I have not been feeling well for the past couple of days, and I haven't wanted to put the time or energy needed into keeping up with Neal. Here's a half-hearted effort for today. Today's Nuze Today, and Today's Nuze Tomorrow for those who like to follow along.

Neal is apparently nervous about the fact that we bed-wetters are about to break into the radio market. With Al Franken. Well, I guess we'll see if his prediction is borne out:

Let's cover just one more time why liberals fail in talk radio. First, listening to talk radio is an individual exercise. Liberals are at war against the concept of individuality. Individuals call talk shows, not groups. Secondly; the liberal agenda cannot withstand exposure to logic or fact. About the first time Al Franken regales us with stories of Bush's warnings of an "imminent threat" from Saddam Hussein, some caller is going to ask Franken to back it up with one direct Bush quote. He can't. Credibility lost.

Interesting concept though. The pre-emptive radio call-in dialogue. I hope Al Franken reads this and just saves himself the trouble. Obviously, "logical" conservatives have already concocted the "fact" that he will get creamed with questions he isn't prepared for. I won't generalize to all conservatives, because it is my experience that there are some smart ones out there. But I will point out that if Neal was representative of them, then the proper rejoinder would be that they have a very difficult time sticking to the facts, and logic is good for them insofar as it can be twisted. We have these propensities well enough documented right here on this blog.

People like Neal succeed on the radio, not because they have some special relationship with "logic and facts" that is unavailable to those who do not subscribe to his social theories, but because they are slick. They have oily tongues. They prefer a sound-bite to in-depth debate. And it's as simple as that.

Next. Speaking of logic, a homeowner and his son were killed. The homeowner chose not to own a gun. The "predator" owned one. Fine, these are facts. You can put them together with a few more facts, using a certain careful methodology, and you can start to compile statistics that are useful for debating public policy. If that's your goal. Not Neal, though. He skips all the facts (except just this one), skips the careful scientific research, skips the rational and logical debate, and jumps right to a conclusion: that gun-control activists are responsible for the deaths. What? No, I'm not kidding you. It's the disgusting truth. Direct quote from Neal Boortz: "I hope some of you anti-gun nuts read this bit today. Here's a predator who had a gun, and a homeowner who didn't. The homeowner is dead. So is his son. What great work you anti-gun people are doing. Are you proud?"

This is the same guy who was trash-talking liberal's ability to handle logic just a few paragraphs above.

I'll confess that I don't take sides in the gun debate. I think most of America is, like me, fairly happy with the status quo. There's still room left for debate (there always will be). The simple fact is, those on either side who care the most are the extremists and ideological purists. Right now, I can buy any gun I need to have with a minimum of difficulty, and I feel relatively safe in my home and my person. Ideologies and slippery slope arguments are not likely to sway me to a strong position on gun control. So, don't bother- I guess that's what I'm saying. Just note the stupidity of the Neal Boortz patented logic-free statement above. That's all.

Sorry, I'd love to rehash all the O'Neill stuff here, but I can't. Read the rest of my blog. Read Brad DeLong. Or, read all of Brad DeLong. (Dang-it with me and the wrong links today. This one is fixed).

You'll get an earful. If this is us liberals "licking our wounds," let's just keep licking them right up to the general election!

Until tomorrow, or I get energy again...

Posted by smijer at 07:08 PM | Comments (4)

I'm Just Not Sure I Approve

from - smijer

I'm just not sure I approve of putting a cool billion and half on my grandkids' credit cards just to make sure that gay people don't get to do what we get to.

Oliver has the scoop.

I was hasty. I'll have to hold out & see what that bil & a half pays for.

Update: I fixed the Oliver link...

Posted by smijer at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

from - smijer

From The American Street (shiny, new, liberal, collaborative blog):

deficit.bmp

Posted by smijer at 07:31 AM | Comments (3)

All Politics, All Ideology, All of the Time

from - smijer

Via Cal Pundit (w/ summary), we have yet another testimonial to the current administration's willingness to place politics and ideology above evidence and informed policy.

You may have supported the war in Iraq, and still see that it was almost purely ideologically driven - that cherry picked evidence was used and the truth was massaged in order to blast through any opposition to the pre-ordained policy.

You may believe that tax cuts (even the last round) were the most effective means of boosting the economy, and still hear the testimony from White-House insiders that the administration is not willing to entertain real concerns from their own economists (and sometimes Cabinet members). Even if you agree with this or that policy, you still see the White House characterized by those inside and out as uncurious, and politically motivated.

You may even be willing to forgive radically bad policy, like the medicare corporate give-away bill. The 2004 election should not be a referendum on any particular action. It should be a referendum on the correct approach to goverment. Facts should matter.

Posted by smijer at 06:57 AM | Comments (4)

January 13, 2004

Lite day

from - smijer

It's Tuesday, January 13, 2004. For those of you who don't know, that is the day officially designated as a "light day of blogging" and lots of nice rest for smijer. So, no Boortz today. And for your edification, please check out some of these other stories and entries from news and blog sites around the web:

Remember when I told you, yesterday, how I hoped O'Neill didn't have a wife in the CIA? Kevin comments on just how quickly the White House Vendetta Team moves.

Remember when I told you, yesterday, how I expected more reporting to further vindicate Ho Ho against Sharpton's attacks? Sure 'nuff.

Go here if you haven't already heard what the Army War College is saying about Iraq.

Here's a little more outrage.

Somebody out there has some love for the Bush immigration plan. (I personally cannot comment. I've never understood immigration well enough to evaluate the merits of an immigration plan.)

From the Daily Howler, get ready for the 2004 Fashion Extravaganza and Beauty Contest, coming to a polling booth near you.

Come back tomorrow, when I've had time to think.

Posted by smijer at 06:47 AM | Comments (10)

January 12, 2004

Damage Control and More

from - smijer

First: today's Best of Boortz entry will be updated throughout the day. This entry will grow over the course of the day. I just want to talk about a couple of things that jumped out at me from Neal's inevitable damage control on the O'Neill factor.

I agree with Boortz that it isn't all that suprising that operational plans had been drawn up for the invasion of Iraq. As a matter of fact, I remember that General Zinni talked about them in his famous interview a few weeks ago. You see, Rumsfeld saw fit to toss aside the planning work that came before him and fly by the seat of his pants in Iraq, and that's one of the complaints.

But really, Boortz must not have been paying attention if all he got from O'Neill was that there existed operational plans for Iraq. Why, I'd almost think he was dodging the issue. Excuse me, while I peruse news accounts for the relevant quotes. Oh good, here's one now:

Though O'Neill is careful to compliment the cia for always citing the caveats in its findings, he describes a White House poised to overinterpret intelligence. "From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out and change Iraq into a new country," he tells Suskind. "And, if we did that, it would solve everything. It was about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The President saying, 'Fine. Go find me a way to do this.'"

Yeah, the Pentagon under Clinton had operational plans drawn up in order to face possible contingencies. That's not quite the same as begging your staff to find an excuse to use them. And I think that this, more than the mere existence of plans, is the news of the O'Neill story. It's possible that O'Neill is mischaracterizing the President's war fever. But you wouldn't even know about it if Neal Boortz was your only news source. Thankfully, we still have a semblance of a free press in this country (although most of it is free in the sense of being owned and operated by billionaire conglomerates). So we can learn other news from the O'Neill exposé. Like this:

In an economic meeting in the Vice President's office, O'Neill started pitching, describing how the numbers showed that growing budget deficits threatened the economy. Cheney cut him off. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said. O'Neill was too dumbfounded to respond. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms. This is our due."

Matter of fact, why don't you just read the Time Magazine piece and be done with it.

Ok, I'm not done on this. I'll be back to talk about the U.N. Resolutions and Boortz' lawyerly spin on them, later today.

Update: Installment #2 is in. Click to continue below.

Neal Boortz is a lawyer, so he should have some insight on the legality of the war on Iraq. On the other hand, it was a lawyer that convinced a jury to acquit OJ Simpson. What's interesting to me is not the odd language Neal uses to build his case. Here, I am referring to this: "Resolution 678, you see, is specifically incorporated into both Resolutions 687 and 1441 by reference." I guess that's how he figures one of these other two resolution authorizes war -- since only 678 contained language authorizing war, and only in the event that Hussein didn't voluntarily withdraw from Kuwait, but the other two "incorporate it by refernce". That's odd logic.

Well anyway, that's not the interesting part. And it isn't all that interesting to me that Neal thinks he knows more about the legality of the war than, for instance, the U.N., who wrote the resolutions under discussion... or than the weapons inspectors who were on the ground in Iraq monitoring compliance.

What's interesting to me is that Neal differs from Richard Perle, one of the architects of the war, who plainly admitted that the war was illegal.

I tend to disagree with both Perle and Boortz. I think we should remain diplomatically neutral on the legality of the war. After all, when American lives are at stake, there are much bigger questions than whether a war was "legal". Like, whether it was "necessary." Other interesting questions include whether the administration would have allowed the war to be avoided under any circumstances whatsoever.

That's the last update for this post. If time allows, I'll come back to talk about minimum wages and what-not later this evening, but in a separate post.

Posted by smijer at 08:04 AM | Comments (36)

News Bonanza

from - smijer

Lot's o' news this a.m.

The Bush administration wants to appoint the leaders of Iraq's new shining beacon of democracy. A shiite cleric (those radicals) insists that leaders in a new shining beacon of democracy should be elected. Talk about tangled webs.

Glenn Reynolds asks, "Where's the outrage?" My answer: right here. And here, and here, and here, and... well, you get the point.

We'll be hearing a lot more about Paul O'Neill; General Clark feels vindicated by the old supply sider.

Prime Min. Sharon has some 'splainin' to do to the 100,000 protestors who are upset about the moderate-and-sensible plan to dismantle some settlements. No, they aren't protesting because the plan doesn't go far enough.

Dean gets scathed in last night's debate. This attack may not stick so well. The fact that Dean did have African Americans on his staff, the fact thave Vermont has an almost all-white demographic mix, take the sting out of it. The fact that Carol "Bless Her" Mosely-Braun stepped up to the plate for Dean helps. I think there will be new information emerging in the coming weeks that will further de-fang this issue.

I guess it's always something. In news a little closer to home, there's a new link on the blogroll. Economist and political liberal Brad DeLong is usually worth a read.

Posted by smijer at 06:52 AM | Comments (3)

January 11, 2004

Teacher! He's RUDE!

from - smijer

Heckler: "I don't like him 'cause he hurt my feelings!"

These are the same people who call liberals "whimps". Well, as Dean said: they already had their turn.

Posted by smijer at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Indulge me

from - smijer

I know y'all are tired of hearing about Dean's ju-jitsu campaign. So I'm going to put the rest of this post on the back page. If you're interested, click on Continue below.

The rest of you, notice the new link on the right... scroll down.. down.. right there. See "Not Blogs"? See the link for FAS (Scientist Defense-Proliferation Think-Tank)? Click that. That should keep you busy for a while.

Continue reading for what I love about the Dean campaign...

Good. You're here. Ok, you remember the Club For Growth ad? The one that goes like this?...

Announcer off-screen: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HOWARD DEAN’S PLANS TO RAISE TAXES ON FAMILIES BY NINETEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS A YEAR?
Husband: WHAT DO I THINK? WELL, I THINK HOWARD DEAN SHOULD TAKE HIS TAX HIKING, GOVERNMENT-EXPANDING, LATTE-DRINKING, SUSHI-eATING, VOLVO-DRIVING, NEW YORK TIMES-READING . . .

Wife: . . . BODY PIERCING, HOLLYWOOD-LOVING, LEFT-WING FREAK SHOW BACK TO VERMONT, WHERE IT BELONGS.

Husband: GOT IT?

So the volunteer army of Dean supporters reacted. And, if anything, they are getting more sophisticated in their responses. By the general, the opponents are going to be afraid to attack Dean for fear of making him look good. Here are the answering ads that have been formulated since the CFG ad from last week. I'm sure more will follow.

farmer.bmp

union.bmp

toddler.bmp

senior.bmp

fish.bmp

driver.bmp

There will be more. These people are so wonderful. They're really changing the rules.

Posted by smijer at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)

Ben Arnold

from - smijer

There's been a lot of buzz about Paul O'Neill turning state's evidence against the Bushies. Here's the hot-off-the-PHP Time Article.

Most of the buzz is about O'Neill's revelations about Iraq and WMD's. But it's a different theme that caught my eye. This language looked a little familiar:

So, what does O'Neill reveal? According to the book, ideology and electoral politics so dominated the domestic-policy process during his tenure that it was often impossible to have a rational exchange of ideas. The incurious President was so opaque on some important issues that top Cabinet officials were left guessing his mind even after face-to-face meetings. Cheney is portrayed as an unstoppable force, unbowed by inconvenient facts as he drives Administration policy toward his goals.

It seems that I remember a knee-capped John DiIulio falling over himself to apologize after filing similar complaints.

It will be interesting to see whether O'Neill can now take the heat. It will also be worth discovering whether he is a loose cannon, or just a loose screw. Right now, I'm leaning toward the former.

I hope his wife isn't a spook for the CIA.

Oh yeah. If you want to support Atrios, you can buy the Suskind book about O'Neill from Amazon, through his link in this post, though I'd prefer you make you support the Book Sense affiliate of independents. In theory, this would support my site as well, should they ever get enough proceeds from here to pay a commission. Trust me that this is unlikely, and the commission will not be large. Since the book is to be released next week, I'll post my link then.

Posted by smijer at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2004

Tennessee's Finest

from - smijer

With much chagrin, I present today's "Stupid Commentary of the Day" award to a fellow Tennessean: Glenn Reynolds for this entry.

The President said the Iraq war was done in order to "disarm Saddam Hussein". Glenn says, "And I don't intend to make a big deal out of this discovery, because I never regarded WMD as the main reason to go to war." This would seem to indicate that Glenn thinks President Bush is a liar. If you are going to think Bush is a liar, there are other ways to go about it, but let's see what else Glenn has to say:

"The real reason to go to war was (1) to establish a military and democratic presence in the Arab world (which we've done);"

Am I to gather that Reynolds, a law professor, doesn't know the difference between a military government and a democratic one? Because we've sure enough got a military presence in the middle east now (as before in Saudi Arabia), but the Iraq war hasn't borne the fruit of democracy there yet. What else does he think Bush really wanted out of Iraq?

"(2) to make an example of Saddam to intimidate other Arab leaders (which we've done); "

Yeah, we've intimidated Arab Leaders. That's gotta hurt Al Qaeda. "Look, guys, the Americans used to be waging war on Islam, but now that they are making fools out of your governments, we really have to drop our complaints," said Osama bin Laden's parallel in the Bizarro-universe.

"and (3) to cut off Saddam as a source of support -- both existing and potential -- for terrorists, which we've also done."

Hey, at least its sort of a good reason. After all, Saddam did provide a pittance of financial support to Palestinian terrorist groups. Not as much as some private individuals, maybe, but he did give pensions to the families of suicide bombers. 'Course, if this was good enough reason to depose him by force, Bush would never have had to use the WMD ruse. Also, we would have some more business to be taking care of out in that neck of the woods.

Anyhoo, Glenn thinks that the war was cost-effective in terms of money and lives spent in order to intimidate the Arabs, re-establish a military presence that we already had in the middle east, and cut off a single source of financial support for terrorists.

To me, it would have been more cost-effective to take a different tack: maybe neutralizing Hussein rather than invading, then fighting the war on terror against the people who were a direct threat to us. Intelligent people can disagree, and so can Glenn and I.

Posted by smijer at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

Help Me Out Here

from - smijer

Ok, this guy is in a room with a President First Term (alignment: chaotic) a Governor Term Five, General Four Star, Dwarf Of Great Enlightenment, and a fair assortment of Media Moguls. Here's his stats:

Dissemblers & Dandies


Character Sheet


Player Name: _SMIJER_ Class: _Town Cryer _


Character Name: _Kneel Borscht_ Alignment: _Faux Libertarian_


Abilities:


Acerbic Wit : _8_ Ambiguity: _6_


Charm: Rattlesnake__ Hypocrisy: _100__


Self Righteousness: _100__ Zeal: _20__ Sincerity _0_


Basic Characteristics:


Smear Points (SP): _20__ Special Interest Points (IP): _20__


Base Attack Points (BAP): _40_ SCLM: _10_


Skills:


Pandering: +1

Misdirection: +1

Straight Face: +5

Besmirching (character): +1

Equivocation: +2

Misquotation: +3

Blatant Hypocrisy: +5

Attacks/Spells

Baldfaced Lies+1

LittleWhite Lies+2

It's Neal's Turn. What's his move?

Posted by smijer at 09:53 PM | Comments (5)

New to the Blog Roll

from - smijer

CJG has decided to do some blogging of his own over at his new Moveable Type paradise. Since I know from his comments here that he's a pretty smart conservative, I link him under the Pretty Smart Conservatives heading over there to your left. Ok, it's the Conservative/Libertarian heading, but you get the idea.

Posted by smijer at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

An Imminent Threat

from - smijer

This looks serious. If confirmed, we will finally have proof of the real threat that was hanging over the heads of Americans before George Bush boldly moved to neutralize that threat. Yes, lurking just out of reach of the weapons inspectors and the consciousness of all but the shrewdest policy-makers in Washington and London, were:

(drum-roll please)

36 mortar rounds with blister gas, buried in the desert a decade ago, but not forgotten

Imagine if that had fallen into the hands of the terrorists!

Thank you George W Bush! I'm sorry I ever questioned you!

(Hat tip to the triumphant squeals of ecstasy from HRH Andy)

Update: Atrios came through with some pictures of the dire threat:
wmd.bmp

Updated Update: Jesse finds humor in this atrocity. His take: "Now, more than ever, we must go to war with the Axis of Axis and stop the dangerously pro-Saddam rotation of the planet."

Ohhh.. how right he is.

Posted by smijer at 04:15 PM | Comments (15)

I'll Sell You My Bad Argument Rock. It's Broke.

from - smijer

At a pre-Christmas get-together, I had a conversation wherein I opined my feeling that the war in Iraq was detracting from more serious efforts to ensure America's safety by securing our borders and breaking up al Qaeda worldwide.

The person with whom I had this exchange was someone who is fairly close to me, and not someone who is very politically engaged. However, she replied that Bush must be doing something right, since there hasn't been a terrorist attack on America's soil since 9-11. I didn't argue that point, because I thought it was sort of absurd. But I did think that it was maybe just an off-the-cuff remark that she hadn't put much thought into. I didn't realize that she had absorbed it from the Bush punditry.

Later, I found that it was an actual argument being advanced on the right, and I realized that they are getting their message across pretty well, if even this person had absorbed it well enough to repeat it. This person, like I said, is not a very politically active person.

Of course, the argument is bleedingly stupid, and doesn't deserve a response. But, if we are to give it one, I say give it one that is funny and biting (even if the analogy falls apart if you try to draw a one-to-one correllation between the elements).

I don't know where Oliver Willis dredged this up, but it certainly fits the bill. Yeah, Bush's plan has done some good things toward fighting terrorists. But when the debate is whether he is doing enough of the right things or too much or the wrong, it is absurdly disingenuous to suggest the absence of successful attacks for just two years is evidence of the former over the latter.

Posted by smijer at 10:30 AM | Comments (5)

January 09, 2004

Night Off

from - smijer

I guess I'll be taking the night off blogging. I have a new niece. I've had new nephews and nieces before, and though I love them all, I've rarely visited the hospital just after they were born - and these are my sisters' children. This time she is the child of my brother-in-law, and I make an exception. The reasons, in no particular order:

  • I live close-by at the time of birth
  • The mother is making me feel guilty
  • My wife is pining away for her new little girl
  • Emily is the one paying for our expeditions to Iraq, the Moon, and Mars, and my $1,000 tax cut, under the Bush plan. That's enough to buy her some gratitude from Uncle Smijer.

    Posted by smijer at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)
  • Guest (CJG)-Global Warming

    from - CJG

    I have benn invited by smijer to guest blog on the topic of global warming. There are numerous arguments which claim to refute the evidence of global warming. I will try to discuss some of the more common points. First of all, the following points are well supported by out current knowledge:

    1. The global temperature is increasing
    2. This temperature increase is due to excess CO2 in the atmosphere.
    3. The CO2 excess is anthropomoric in origin.

    The consequences of global warming is certainly debateable at this point, but clearly, there will be consequences. As an objectivist, I feel that is better to react to what I feel is an inevitable eventuality.

    So, here we go

    Point 1. and 2.

    Very few people who have engaged in rigorous debate disagree with point 1. However, some contend that the data is skewed due to measurements taken in metropolitian areas, which for a number of reasons, generate massive amounts of artificial heat.

    This is true, but these effects are well known, and the data in these cities are adjusted, if needed. moreover, the data taken in rural areas supports the warming claim.

    The claim that the sun has been hotter over the last fifty years is also taken into account not only in the measurements, but also in the global climate models. This effect is insignificant compared to the effect of greenhouse gases.

    Point 3.

    This is backed up looking at Carbon 14 levels in the atmosphere. The excess CO2 that we see in the atmosphere over has isotopic concentration of C14 akin with fossil fuels, rather than elemental carbon (from inside the Earth).

    I am more than happy to discuss any points beyond these that you may have.

    Now, with that said, here is what is debatable: We simply do not know what the consequences of global climate change are. The system is way too chaotic to know. However, it seems certain that glacial ice will melt, causing the oceans to rise, at least over the short term. We do see evidence of this happening currently (note that the crucial figure is glacial MASS, not area).

    Another point that I would like to make is that if we ceased fossil consumption completely, the current global warming trends would still continue well into the next century. The Kyoto treaty is bad policy, and terrible for the world economy, and will prove to be completely ineffective. It is akin to flapping your arms as the plane is going down. A reasonable person would put on a parachute and bail out (i.e. adapt to the situation).

    As a self professed "objectivist," Boortz is failing to use any reason on this issue. What would Ayn Rand think?

    Posted by CJG at 02:52 PM | Comments (7)

    Another Reason To Hate the French

    from - smijer

    Their money is still good.

    Posted by smijer at 01:56 PM | Comments (1)

    Go.

    from - smijer

    Read. Now.

    Posted by smijer at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

    Would You Buy a Vacation Package From This Man?

    from - smijer

    Bush: We can go to the Moon and Mars! No Payments for 4 Years!*

    *No Credit? No problem!

    Posted by smijer at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)

    Boortz: "Too Much Slime on My Hands"

    from - smijer

    Do you think Neal Boortz is aware of the ironic impression he creates when he says stuff like, "COME ON, FOLKS. SHOW A LITTLE RESPONSIBILITY HERE", and goes on to show that he is quite capable of fact-checking an e-mail chain letter. Shouldn't it occur to him to fact-check his own column? Wouldn't that be "showing responsibility?"

    I'll have to give him credit. He broke a rule and told the truth today. He said that Howard Dean has flip-flopped on (gasp!) the relative importance of the Iowa caucus. Actually, the tapes in question document a pretty bad gaffe, and a pretty mediocre flip-flop. Dean will (rightly) pay a political price for the gaffe. I thank goodness that this is the worst the opposition can come up with on Dean without making stuff up. That's good news.

    The bad news is the opposition has made it clear that they cannot run against Dean's (or Clark's) policies and will be making the desperation move of running a campaign of character assasination. "Hey," they seem to be saying, "Everybody in Vermont thinks Dean did a great job, but we found one sherriff in the state who thinks he's a little bit two-faced." This is ironic, too. Dean and Clark are politicians, so they surely have some character flaws. The irony is discovered when you look at the careers of the people who are running the smear campaign. Neal Boortz, for instance, can't let a day go by without at least misleading his readers (I assume that would go for his listeners, too).

    I've noticed something about Boortz. Sometimes, when his source is the Weekly Standard or World Net Daily, he will divulge to his audience where he got a piece of information. Other times, he won't tell. I've finally discovered the pattern. Can you guess? The times that he refuses to divulge his sources are the times when they include information he doesn't want you to find out about.

    For instance: today he says this of the Howard Dean tapes, "That should make good fodder for the first debate if he is the nominee. He also lamented in February 1999, regarding Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat, that 'The next great tragedy is going to be Arafat's passing, believe it or not.' Oh joy..just the man we need in the oval office.

    Now, why didn't he give you the source of this quote? Because he doesn't want you to know the rest of what was said:

    Yasir Arafat, he said, "is going to leave the scene." He continued: "When that happens, I think Hamas will probably take over. There will probably be good and bad out of that. The bad, of course, is that Hamas is a terrorist organization. However, if they have to run a quasi-state they may actually have to be more responsible and start negotiations. So who knows what will happen."

    In February 1999, he said, "The next great tragedy is going to be Arafat's passing, believe it or not." He said the Israelis had thrown away an opportunity to negotiate with Mr. Arafat. "Next comes Hamas, comes far more radical government in Jordan," he said. "I think it's a frightening proposition."

    I could play the Neal Boortz 'lying-sack-of-canine-excrement' game with this, if I wanted to. See, Dean thinks Hamas is worse than Arafat. The page from the 'lying-sack' playbook is to take the fact that Neal is bitching about (part of) what Howard Dean said and extrapolate the conclusion that Neal must disagree with Dean on this point. He must therefore think that Hamas is better than Arafat, we would spin. We would then state as fact that "Neal Boortz doesn't think Hamas is all that bad." And we would repeat it daily until the election. But we are the good guys, so we won't.

    Oh yeah, one more thing from the tapes: Dean really dented himself way back in the year 2000 when he apparently believed, along with 49% of the electorate, that "George Bush ... is in his soul a moderate." (You would only find out that this was the year 2000 if you read the source.) That's another reason he didn't tell you the source.

    I must reiterate. I love it that the right can't get traction on anything. They can't find any real chinks in Dean's Vermont record, can't be taken seriously in their attempts to smear Clark's character, and when they finally find a point to try to make, its usually something we are pretty clearly right about. Perhaps the most illuminating thing ever said by a radio republican operative is this, from today's Nuze:

    You may have read that Dr. Dean was a big supporter of gun rights while he was Governor. Not if you ask the people actually involved. On a questionnaire a gun rights group sent him in July of 1988, Dean wrote at the bottom: "I, as always, reserve the right to change my position if compelling evidence warrants it." Oh..how nice.

    There you have it folks. Neal Boortz actually thinks its wrong to change your position based on compelling evidence. It must be much better to ignore the evidence, and just read off the talking points handed to you from on high.

    That's your free press at its best, folks.
    Today's Nuze, Today
    Today's Nuze, Tomorrow

    P.S. Hell, one more thing: Anybody else think its funny Boortz is ready to pronounce the whole Democratic Party splintered because Steve Murphy (of the Gephardt Who? camp) decided to throw a low-ball? I like seeing them desparate.

    Posted by smijer at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)

    They're Scared of Clark, Too

    from - smijer

    While we are waiting on today's Nealz Snuze, its worth taking a moment to reflect on the audacity of some of yesterday's spin. It seems that General Shelton and General Clark had a little bit of bad blood between them over toppling one of those bloody dicatators like Saddam Hussein, and Shelton engaged in some office politics. Here's Neal's spin from yesterday:

    A quick word about the surging candidacy of Weasley Clark. Remember, he was fired. Not your ordinary retirement from years of service in our armed forces. He was fired. He lost his command in the Kosovo/Bosnia campaign because of what his superior defined as issues involving "integrity and character." Perhaps some of you have heard the rumors. We'll just say, do we need more of the Clinton-type scandals in the White House?

    Ok, here are some excerpts from the Clark resumé, about his "integrity and character":

    His stellar work led James T. Lynn in the Office of Management and Budget to state, "Major Clark is the most able White House Fellow I have known during my seven years in Washington. He brought to his work a brilliant mind and rare common sense. He has initiative, style, imagination, moral courage, and integrity each in extraordinary degree. He has a rare sensitivity to others and a remarkable ability to motivate and lead them. He is totally dedicated to public service as a military officer."
    ...
    Two years later while Clark was the Commander of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado, Colonel Lester E. Bennett praised him, "Clark exhibits the best balance of professional ethics of any officer I know. Particularly noteworthy is his demonstrated selfless dedication to his men, his unit, and the Army. He exhibits absolute integrity of word, deed... he establishes and observes scrupulous ethical and moral standards."

    ...

    "Professional and moral attributes are impeccable," stated General Edwin Burba, Jr. during this time. "Strong in all areas. Best leader-thinker in the Army... a great leader who takes care of soldiers and families... He has it all and has done it better than anyone else."

    Oh yeah... I left out the mushy parts about his courage in the face of enemy fire, his selfless dedication to his men, the Army, and his country. I left out how he formed an international coalition and toppled a bloody dictator and stopped an ongoing genocide without the loss of American life, and everything else that didn't explicitly use words like "integrity" and "character". These performance reviews were not written while Clark was running for President. They were written while he served. Kinda' makes you wonder why Neal Boortz is so eager to repeat Shelton's political ploys, doesn't it?

    Not me, 'cause I know who Boortz is working for. And I know they're "yellow" about running against Dean or Clark.

    P.S. - I wouldn't expect a mere radio hack to know it, but Clark wasn't fired. He retired from the Army voluntarily, at the time of his choosing, and with a distinguished resumé. He was relieved of command over the Kosovo operation, due to some of the inevitable differences between a field commander and pentagon Brass. That's not the same as getting fired. He retired from the Army with honor.

    Posted by smijer at 06:35 AM | Comments (2)

    January 08, 2004

    Oh yeah, and....

    from - smijer

    It looks like SK & Mrs. Bubba's endorse-ments of Wesley Clark worked.

    Congratulations SK & Mrs. May the best candidate win. Just for the record: Mr. & Mrs. smijer endorse Howard Dean. But you already knew that.

    I won't cry, though, if Clark takes the nomination. Have you seen his resume??? No wonder Neal Boortz is scared of him. His Daddy Rove, without a doubt, told him to be.

    Posted by smijer at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Interesting

    from - smijer

    Mrs. smijer was on the phone with her friend, when her friend witnessed the police chase that resulted in the capture of this SOB and the safe recovery of the three girls, all of which took place just down the road a piece. I guess its a small world. I'm glad those girls are safe.

    Posted by smijer at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Good, Something is Wrong

    from - smijer

    First: notice the new entry under my Science blog-roll. I happened on Quark Soup long ago, and planned to keep track of it. Well, I forgot.

    Today, Zimmer reminded me by linking to David's post on global warming. By the way: CJG took me to task in the comment section for giving Neal Boortz a pass on his global warming spin from today. I can't say much, but I could have at least said this: Neal is a lawyer and a oily-mouthed radio hack. He has no business second-guessing scientists on issues of science. Hopefully there will be more to come, but since I am no scientist myself, it will have to come from somebody more knowledgeable than me.

    Anyhoooo... I was browsing Quark Soup, and came across this recent entry. Apparently, the standard model is finally making a prediction that doesn't agree precisely enough with experiment. That's huge. When a theory doesn't agree with experiment, three things happen:

    1. Creationists cry "gotcha! See, evolution is disproven!"
    2. I feel remorse about career and education decisions.
    3. Scientists learn something they didn't know before.

    It's the third thing that makes this so huge. You see, the standard model is (even now) the most accuarate predictor of experimental results in scientific history. It just doesn't get things wrong. When it does, there is hope of unpeeling another layer of reality's onion. These sorts of problems shape the debate for years to come. That's how science moves forward. Asking the right questions is even more important than giving the right answers. Disagreement between a fundamentally sound theory and sound experiment shines a bright spot-light on the right questions, where they may have lain hidden in murky shadows before.

    This is cause to be excited.

    P.S. I'm a new Uncle. Emily Brianne was born today, and Mrs. smijer is tickled pink to be an aunt. Its the first baby girl in her family. Cheers!

    Posted by smijer at 08:01 PM | Comments (2)

    Crazy liberals

    from - smijer

    This guy doesn't think Saddam is guilty. He thinks it's a judicial matter.

    Birkenstock wearing freak-show, indeed.

    Posted by smijer at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

    Redux

    from - smijer

    I had a horrible dream last night. In my nightmare, it was already this morning, Neal had posted to his "Nuze" page (today, today - today, tomorrow), and I discovered that he had become relevant, factual, and interesting. Slowly it dawned on me, the awful truth - he had switched to our side. Thank goodness, I woke up, and Nealz Nuze is still guaranteed 100% truth free. I'm not going to waste much of my time on it (why should I? Where's the credibility of the guy who still believes peddles the Hillary's Running conspiracy theories?) I'll just run down his bullet point list, and give him back some of the stupid spin he's giving you. Remember folks, this is tongue-in-cheek. I'm just stealing a page from the faux Libertarian radio stars:

    Neal on Dean / smijer on bush:

  • Wants to raise taxes on every single living American who actually pays taxes. / Only wants to raise taxes on the grandchildren of current taxpayers. Next years voting public get a free ride on Little Johnny's dime.
  • Can't say that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 .. but can say that Bush may have known about it beforehand. / Can't tie his own shoes. Can start reckless and pointless wars with a flick of the pinkie.
  • Tells us how happy he would be to to use our military to defend our interests ... but only if the United Nations give his "permission." / Tells us how happy he would be to use our military to defend our interests ... but only if they are not already busy taking care of Dick Cheney's special projects.
  • Has a campaign driven by a hoard of know-it-all, bulletproof young adults who know the ins and outs of the Internet, but who couldn't write a cogent paragraph on economic policy if their tongue piercings depended on it. / Has a campaign driven by past-their-prime radio jockeys who couldn't tell the truth if their marketing department had it sewed into their underwear
  • Wants Osama bin Laden tried in an international court for attacking Americans on their own soil. / Prefers to try Saddam Hussein: its easier than rooting out Osama and the people who attacked Americans on their own soil
  • Shares his amazement with the rest of us that people in the South actually practice their religion openly. / Goes behind closed doors with Pat Robertson, gets out on the campaign trail with the personal endorsement of God Almighty

    I think, with a little bit of practice, I could become a greasy-tongued radio hack, myself. What do y'all think?

    Posted by smijer at 08:07 AM | Comments (23)
  • Well Said

    from - smijer

    This is old news. I hate to keep re-hashing it. This Wisconsin editorialists really gets it, though. Via BFA, the Capital Times

    ...But, from the sound of what some of the other Democrats were saying, it appeared that they were more interested in beating Dean than Bush.

    What else can explain the objections to Dean's assertion that the United States is no safer as a result of the capture last month of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?

    Only over-the-top enthusiasts for the Bush administration's misguided rush to invade Iraq ever tried to suggest that country, or its leader, posed a serious threat to the United States. For all of his thuggery, Saddam was a secularist who was always at odds with Osama bin Laden and the fundamentalists who make up the al-Qaida terrorist network. And after a decade of bombings, sanctions and United Nations weapons inspections, it was obvious to anyone who cared to consider the facts that Saddam and what remained of his military forces were incapable of mounting an attack even on his neighbors in the Middle East.

    As it turned out, Saddam and his minions were not even capable of mounting a credible military defense of their own country.

    Despite the facts, the White House tried to spin the line that the beaten mess of a man hiding in that hole near Tikrit posed a threat. In doing so, they strained what was left of their credibility. The same must be said of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who repeated the Bush administration line on stage during Sunday's debate. Along with John Kerry and several of the other candidates who are trying to catch up with Dean, Lieberman has been taking Dean to task for failing to embrace the White House spin that says capturing Saddam made the United States safer. Lieberman claimed that he could not understand how anyone could say the nation was not safer after the apprehension of Saddam.

    Dean responded by saying, as he always has, that Saddam is "a dreadful person," and by explaining, "I delighted to see him behind bars, and I hope he gets what he deserves." But, Dean added, "The fact is that since Saddam Hussein has been caught we've lost 23 additional troops. We now have for the first time American fighter jets escorting commercial airliners through American airspace."

    Dean's point was clear, and clearly correct.

    What is different and interesting in this election cycle, at least that I haven't noticed before, is that there is an unprecedented number of attacks on the Democratic front-runner from the other candidates and from the incumbent, that all seem to focus on the parts of policy where he is most clearly right. Ordinarily, your opponents ignore you when you are right, and go after you when you are wrong.

    I think this is an optimistic sign for a Dean candidacy. This is an obviously biased view-point, but I see that as a sign that Deans opponents are having a a lot of difficulty finding a weak point in Dean's views upon which to mount an attack.

    On a related note, Kevin notices another optimistic trend. The GOP seems to want to run on generalities from the liberal platform.

    Posted by smijer at 07:01 AM | Comments (0)

    January 07, 2004

    In Code

    from - smijer

    Flannery
    In Code: A Mathematical Journey, by Sarah and David Flannery

    I simply cannot say enough good things about this book. Sarah Flannery, with gracefully acknowledged help from her father David, describes for readers her own brush with academic fame and the single-minded research that only comes from a heart-felt passion. It brought her to the pinnacle of scientific success while still a teenager in Dublin, Ireland. The passion is infectious, and Ms Flannery knows just how to tease out the logophile in each of us.

    She introduces us to herself and her familiar (if still quirky) family, and the education she received by saturation at home. One cannot help but make comparisons between the Flannery's precise mathematical instruction and the Weasely family's (that's of the Harry Potter line, if you don't know) ubiquitous use of magic. Rigorous, maybe. Boring? Never. A fantasy suitable for youngsters and oldsters alike: yes, but, unlike the Weasely's, a potential reality as well.

    After sharing some of the favorite logic puzzles and teasers that she was suckled upon, Sarah moves on. With humility and good humor uncharacteristic of a person of the same age in America, Sarah introduces her readers to the basics of number theory and its application in computer cryptography.

    She tells us of her interest in creating a cryptographic method for a regional science competition, and how it dovetailed nicely with the extracurricular studies where she was immersed. She traces the project from its beginnings as a hunch she shared with a collegue in her cooperative education program to its culmination as a mature piece of scientific research and a potentially earth-shaking discovery.

    She shares with us the unearthly exhilaration of earning accolades and awards for her work, without ever giving the appearance of unseemly pride or of false modesty.

    This book is a fascinating and educational read for anyone - including the "math challenged", and including people you would normally consider might be too young to care much about whether a number is prime.

    Buy it. Read it. Leave it out for the youngsters to get their greedy hands upon. This book receives a 10 out of 10. Buy from your local independent book-seller.





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    Posted by smijer at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

    Real Libertarians, Help!

    from - smijer

    Actually, anyone who advocates for individual rights and the rule of law, whether ye be liberal/ACLU, small government conservatives, or real libertarians... there's something I am not understanding.

    While I was researching libertarian views of Boortz, I ran across a liberal/ACLU type giving Neal a real thrashing here. The author (Justin is his name) quotes extensively from a recent Boortz "Nuze" page where Boortz is decrying objection to FBI snooping at anti-war demonstrations. The quote ends with this question from Boortz: "So, who wouldn't want them investigated by the FBI?" Justin answers, "Oh, gee, I don’t know: maybe a self-described 'libertarian' who advocates strictly limited government and regards such surveillance as impermissible, in principle."

    Now here is my question. It is a sincere one - not rhetorical. I really want to know. What is fundamentally wrong with the FBI snooping at anti-war rallies, or around their organizations, so long as they observe due process where it is called for?

    I'm all for due process, and I'm all for civil liberties without intrusive government. But law enforcement and defense intelligence has to do its job, right? And as long as they are observing due process, we shouldn't be too upset about that, right?

    I mean... the main point of Justin's article, and probably the part a liberal like me should be the most agreeable to is the only part I don't get. What am I missing here, folks?

    Posted by smijer at 08:19 PM | Comments (11)

    Critters

    from - smijer

    Amazing.

    Posted by smijer at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

    Owie Uotes Trios

    from - smijer

    Ut e an't et is ame ight.

    It think the funniest thing about this was "Love, Atrios".

    Posted by smijer at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Boortz Truth Watch

    from - smijer

    Here's the quote from Neal Boortz, bald-faced lies are in bold. Little white lies are underlined:

    Howard Dean has said that he isn't sure that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. He has also said that he finds the theory that George Bush had advance warning of the attacks "interesting." Boil this one down ... Dean doesn't know if Osama knew the 9/11 attacks were coming, but he thinks George Bush might have.

    That's called a problem with the truth.

    Posted by smijer at 01:33 PM | Comments (17)

    Awwwww.....

    from - smijer

    Disclaimer: I'm a dog person. Don't like cats.

    Also, this is an anonymous cat, got it off a cat e-mail. It's not my cat. Just so you know.

    cat.bmp

    Posted by smijer at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)

    "Class Warfare" Revisited

    from - smijer

    I've been rethinking the cynical note I sounded last night on this topic, and I think I would like to change tone. Last night, I conceded to the conservatives that Americans have created a kind of "class warfare", and that as long as a class system was an entrenched part of our society and economic system we would never be rid of it.

    That really is true: as long as there are smart people willing to work nearly every waking hour who will not have much opportunity to achieve true financial security for their families while their families are still growing up (and there are plenty of them now) - and as long as there are still people who work much less or not at all, don't have any special abilities, and are able to steadily increase their wealth - and as long as this system self-perpetuates, there will always be some unfairness in the system. As long as there is unfairness in the system, there will always be people trying to protect the interests of the poor and working people, and there will always be people looking out for the interests of the very wealthy. That's all very true. But it isn't the most interesting fact about American society. It isn't the most illuminating thing that can be said.

    What is interesting and great about Western society (and most notably American society) is what happened when that awful crossroads came, nearly 100 years ago: when unregulated capitalism created an economy of, by, and for the wealthiest... when laissez faire capitalism in democratic and authoritarian societies returned the working people to a state of virtual or actual serfdom all around the world... when those mini-economies of the wealthy began to crumble and when the workers decided to be work without reward no longer. That's when the west truly became great. When other societies found their answer in brown-shirt imperialism or red-shirt communist revolution, America found the solution that has made us a superpower today: capitalism, but regulated artificially and progressively by a democratic government to create fairness and equity in relatively free markets. Private property, but not without asking something of everyone, whether it be their labor, their usage taxes or a percentage of their income.. and asking the most of those who benefit the most from the American way.

    As a result of the unique way Americans have discovered to wage their "class-warfare", we see fewer casualties from it than almost anywhere else in the world. We have fewer people starving, or dying of exposure to the elements... fewer having to get their medical care from emergency rooms, fewer who lose everything because of a lay-off at work. At the same time, we have the single most robust middle-class economy that exists in the world, and the wealthy are still, somehow, managing to get wealthier day by day and hand over fist.

    There is still inequity in the system, but I'll take American style class-warfare over the Bolshevick or Nazi style any day.

    So, "Bring 'em on".

    Posted by smijer at 07:42 AM | Comments (16)

    January 06, 2004

    Eat The Working People

    from - smijer

    I said earlier that I would return tonight to comment on Clark's tax plan and the right's response to it. I changed my mind.

    The conservatives are correct: it is class warfare. The wealthy want unhampered freedom to leverage wealth for the creation of new wealth, even if it creates an unfair burden on the poor. The poor don't care if the rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes, just so long as they have a fighting chance to keep their families fed, and maybe achieve a little bit of economic security in life.

    The right fights for the rich, the left fights for the poor, and Providence fights for the good of all the people. This "class warfare" will not end so long as the class system is entrenched in our society and economy. The best we can do is agree to fight it with honor and to give due recognition to the humanity in our opposition.

    Posted by smijer at 08:43 PM | Comments (4)

    Want Regime Change?

    from - smijer

    I was reading parts of today's Boortz Nuze today, and ran across this marvelous bit of information:

    Well, set the table and get the crow ready, because according to intelligence sources cited by an exiled opposition party, Syria is hiding Iraq's WMD in 3 locations. They say they were smuggled in wooden crates and are being hidden by a relative of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Are you an opposition party in exile? You want regime change? Tell the Americans your president has WMD's. They'll be happy to shoot first and ask questions later. They did in Iraq.

    And it seems certain Bush apologists (I can't say who, but their names rhyme with "Feel Shorts") are now willing to grasp at any straw of hope that the answer to their increasingly nervous questions will miraculously be "Yes, Virginia, there are WMD's."
    Today's Nuze Today
    Today's Nuze Tomorrow

    Posted by smijer at 04:10 PM | Comments (15)

    Hypocrites

    from - smijer

    I found this on the Boortz Nuze page yesterday:

    demtoon.bmp

    Guess where I found this:

    clintontoon.bmp

    And speaking of exploding into an irrational, ranting paranoia, remember this jewel?:

    For those of you who think that Islamic Terrorism is the greatest threat to our country ... you're wrong. The greatest threat to the continuation of freedom and economic liberty in the United States right now is Hillary Clinton.

    'Course, if its irrational, ranting paranoia you want - all you ever have to do it CLICK.


    I'll try to post about Wesley Clark's tax plan tonight, when I've had time to look more closely at it.

    Posted by smijer at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

    You'll Be Hearing about This

    from - smijer

    Apparently the anonymous e-mail war has begun. Stick this in your back pocket, and save it for when you get your own copy of the "Dean Hates Israel" chain letter.

    Posted by smijer at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

    New to RTB

    from - smijer

    Welcome aboard to Orfinanny. Reckon they don't like Howard Dean? It's OK though: They are from Tennessee, and they aren't Glenn Reynolds.

    Welcome, folks.

    Posted by smijer at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

    Go Read Oliver

    from - smijer

    Go now.

    (You, too, Boortz folks -- your boy has already gotten the memo).

    Posted by smijer at 08:03 AM | Comments (2)

    And Now For Something Completely Different

    from - smijer

    Israel's own Dick Gephardt?

    Posted by smijer at 06:36 AM | Comments (0)

    January 05, 2004

    Sir, Your Pants Are Ablaze

    from - smijer

    What Boortz says:
    'Well ... the news of Howard Dean's exclusive upbringing seems to be a bit upsetting to Andee Maitland Dean, Howard's mom. Last week Mama Dean told the New York Times that "Howard didn't have the least bit of a glamorous upbringing. When he was growing up, we didn't even treat the servants like servants." '
    After today, the link to the article containing the above text should be here.

    The Truth:
    Paragraph 2 of the article (subscription or single article purchase required):

    ''Look around,'' Mrs. Dean said in a recent interview, gesturing at the quarters where her boys grew up. ''Howard didn't have the least bit of a glamorous upbringing.''

    MMMhmmmm..

    Paragaraph 3:
    Explaining that every time she had a baby, the dining room would serve as a bedroom for the newborn and his nurse, she concluded, ''I don't think we could even keep up with the Bushes.''

    Paragraph 12:
    ''I don't hide who I am,'' Dr. Dean said. ''I am not in the least bit embarrassed about how I grew up. But, now, it wasn't quite as opulent as everybody might think.''

    Paragraphs 28 and 29

    Mrs. Dean sees her son's unpretentiousness as something he learned at home, pointing out that her own parents taught her to treat people in an egalitarian way.

    ''When I was growing up,'' she said, ''we didn't even treat the servants like servants.''

    If we can't trust Neal Boortz to tell us the truth about something so simple as a little old lady's statement, can we trust him to tell us the truth about the impact of a bill being debated in the British Parliament? I wouldn't.

    By the way, I'm still getting moved in good here. I am having a little bit of trouble making the format work for all browsers and screen-layouts. If you are having problems, please be patient. I also haven't added the links that I need to bring from the old Boortz page. I appreciate your patience.

    Posted by smijer at 01:35 PM | Comments (8)

    Mind-Numbing

    from - smijer

    OK, so I was reading Instapundit last night, and I followed the shortcut in this post to see the counter Glenn uncritically describes as the "number of lives saved each day by our invasion of Iraq".

    After a very slow loading process, the link brought me to an archive from this blog, called Blog o'RAM, which I browsed incredulously, noting that the facile calculations that led to the phony "NoBody Count" ticker were dwarfed by other "unthoughtful" entries.

    This one took the cake. The author quotes the lead grafs of a Reuters piece, and I will excerpt from what the author quoted:

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military raided a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad and said it had seized arms and explosives in an operation that sparked an angry Muslim protest after Friday prayers. {emphasis added by smijer}

    So, what's the author's beef with the Reuter's story?

    That the article waited until the sixth paragraph to start talking about the seizure of weapons. Yep: that's it. Can you see how boneheaded this is? The article carefully placed a reference to the weapons and explosives in the lead graf. This "UML Guy" guy has to completely ignore that so he will have something like a point.

    Oh yeah, UML Guy bitches about the headline. Referring, I suppose to paragraph 11 where it is mentioned that 32 attendees were detained and that "several" of them were foreigners, he says, "And I might have run with a headline like 'Foreign jihadis, terrorists, criminals using Iraqi mosques for cover.' But I guess that's why I'm not a 'reporter'."

    The reason UML Guy isn't a reporter is that he would have reported a headline naming the captured insurgents "terrorists" (even though there is no indication they were involved in "terrorism"), and would have used the headlines to blur the fact that only "several" of the insurgents were foreign. Buzz words like "terrorist" in place of "insurgent" are spin. Blurring the facts to suit an ideological need is spin. Reporters should not spin, though Lord knows most of them do.

    Call them insurgents, resistance, the enemy, even "dead-enders" (if you must stretch facile historical comparisons). Save "terrorist" for people who target non-combatants. To target an occupying military is not terrorism. It is guerilla warfare. By conflating the terms to suit your argument you are making Bush apologism smell even worse.

    Back to Glenn Reynolds, and Instapundit: please raise the standards for whom and what you approvingly link.

    Posted by smijer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

    January 04, 2004

    The Man Who Warned America:

    from - smijer

    Weiss.bmpThe Man Who Warned America: The Life and Death of John O'Neill, the FBI's Embattled Counterterror Warrior

    I chose this book to be my first on-line review based on a number of expectations I had of it before I read it. I list them:

  • It dealt with public events but wasn't overtly partisan
  • It promised an heroic personal story
  • I hoped to gain a certain insight into the inner workings of American Intelligence
  • I hoped to have questions answered about how much was known and by whom before the 9/11 attacks
  • Great dust-jacket

    I had hoped my first blog book review would be a "10", and a must-read for every American. Click to continue reading.

    On some points the book was everything I hoped. On others, I was disappointed.

    The author, Murray Weiss, is a journalist by trade. To the best of my knowledge, this is his first book as sole author. It is a shame he didn't have better editors for his first book. There were a number of editor's mistakes, including repetition of entire passages verbatim in separate chapters. This also pointed at an over-all problem of construction Weiss seems to have experienced: a difficulty in organizing a coherent whole from the pieces of John O'Neill's life and work.

    We learn too much about O'Neill's grooming and dating habits, but receive only a two-dimensional treatment of the character of his relationships. He was "sometimes brusque", but we are left to wonder where and how those sharp edges were manifested. We learn that he had a lot of women in his life, and that they (probably) didn't know about one another. We don't learn much about what he meant to each of them, or what they meant to him - just that he "needed" all of them. We learn about O'Neill's view of the Clinton administration (negative), and we learn of some of Clinton's failings, but we learn nothing about Bush (except that he reacted "boldly" to the events of 9/11). It seems the author was unable to tell the story without allowing his own politics to color it.

    Unfortunately, John O'Neill was not part of the story of pre-911 threat assessment, so my hope of getting a clearer picture of that process was not satisfied.

    That's the negative. Now the positive:

    We do learn, not only about the workings of American Intelligence, but also about how John O'Neill changed those workings. We do hear the compelling personal story of O'Neill, and see his career traced through the major events in American and International terrorism from the early nineties all the way to the September 11 attacks. We discover how much obstructionism a single self-important ambassador overseas is capable of in the investigation of the USS Cole bombing. Weiss deploys a sense of suspense relating the unearthing of the millenium plot.

    I'm going to score this book an 8 out of 10. You can learn more about O'Neill by reading this transcript of a Frontline episode about him.

    If you choose to purchase the book, please consider shopping at an independent bookseller. Amazon.com is wonderful, but no one thought much of such phenomena as Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel Communications a few years ago, either. Use your zip code on the form below to find an independent book-seller who stocks The Man Who Warned America:





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    Posted by smijer at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)
  • In response to the inevitable

    from - smijer

    If you haven't heard about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant yet, you will. If you feel that this damages Dean's credibility on security issues (any more than it does the two Presidents', anyway), please take the time to read Dean For America's response.

    When the pundits howl about this, please take the time to phone in and remind them that securing the privately owned Vermont Yankee Nuclear plant is and was a federal (not state) responsibility. Please remind them that Dean took what action his authority made possible in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.

    Continue reading by clicking below to see the campaign press release.

    The Dean Record on Nuclear Security in Vermont


    "In Vermont, Gov. Howard Dean heightened security consciousness by posting the Vermont National Guard at airports and limiting access to the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility. The governor also urged the federal government to increase production of antidotes to bioterrorism agents. The governor's activism helps give Vermonters confidence that proper authority is in charge in Montpelier."


    -- Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 10/9/01


    As many have said before, the hindsight from the terrorist attacks of September 11th is twenty-twenty and no was prepared for the events of that terrible day. In retrospect, every state in the country could have been safer and Gov. Dean took swift and bold action to respond to make Vermonters safer. Governor Dean showed leadership and took responsibility by saying the buck stops here in terms of security by creating a cabinet-level agency to respond to security threats. Dean actions included: placing state troopers and National Guardsmen at the plant, demanding a federal no-fly zone over the plant, increasing funding to prepare for an attack, and devising anthrax preparedness.




    Background: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authority for the regulation and inspection of America's power plants.

    * Tom Ridge: "Well, first of all, as you know, the nuclear facilities are under the control and regulated for both safety and security purposes by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." [Testimony before Senate Governmental Affairs committee, 5/1/03, emphasis added]

    * Tom Grumbly, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy: "With respect to commercial nuclear plants, as I think you know, Senator Graham, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is fundamentally responsible for ensuring the safety of those facilities." [Senate Energy Committee hearing, 2/5/97]

    * NRC Mission Statement: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates the civilian uses of nuclear materials in the United States to protect public health and safety, the environment and the common defense and security. The mission is accomplished through: licensing of nuclear facilities and the possession, use and disposal of nuclear materials; the development and implementation of requirements governing licensed activities; and inspection and enforcement activities to assure compliance with these requirements." [www.nrc.gov]

    Fact: Bush Budget Cut Funding For NRC, Undermined Inspections. The NRC's "budget has been cut every year since '93," David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and industry watchdog for the Union of Concerned Scientists said. "That means it has less inspectors." The Associated Press reported, "This year, the Bush administration proposed cutting funding for nuclear plant inspections even though the NRC's overall budget would increase. ... The agency's commitment to safety has been questioned even among its employees." [Associated Press, 3/3/03]



    Governor Howard Dean: Protecting VT Yankee


    1. On 9/11, Governor Dean Secured the Priority Targets, Including Vermont Yankee. In direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Gov. Dean increased security in state buildings, shut down Vermont airports and limited access to Vermont's nuclear power plant. increased its security status. Dean also made sure that the state's electrical utilities had proper security measures in place. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/12/01; Burlington Free Press, 9/12/01; 10/9/01]


    2. Dean Called for No-Fly Zone Over Nuclear Plants. Two weeks after 9/11, Dean called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to increase an air safety around Vermont's nuclear power plant. Dean asked that the FAA "establish a five-mile radius no-fly zone over Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station" and that "all aircraft flying over Vermont airspace be required to file flight plans with the FAA." [Associated Press, 10/1/01; Dean letter to FAA, 10/31/01]


    FAA Rejected Dean Request for Increased Security Around Vermont Nuclear Power Plants. The FAA ordered a national temporary no-fly zone policy shortly after Dean's request. However in December 2001, the FAA refused to fulfill Dean's request to make the no-fly zone permanents and Administrator Jane Garvey said in a letter to Gov. Dean, "the need for specific restrictions is being constantly reevaluated." The FAA rejected the request for flight plans saying the agency "is not planning to implement this regulatory action." [FAA Letter to Dean, 12/11/01]

    3. Dean Called on NRC to Reassess Security at Vermont's Nuclear Power Plant. In September 2001, Dean wrote to NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve asking for a reassessment of security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Dean wrote, "Considering last week's terrorist action, I would like the confidence that an overall review of Vermont Yankee security and security culture has been undertaken." [Associated Press, 9/22/01]


    4. Doctor Dean Issued Response Plan for Anti-Radiation Medicine. Less than two months after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Dean announced a security initiative to distribute the anti-radiation medicine potassium iodine to all residents within a 10-mile radius of the Vermont Yankee. The announcement was made in advance of planed federal recommendations by Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration Nuclear Regulatory Commission plan. [Associated Press, 11/30/01]


    Drug Distribution Part of Broader Education Response Effort. "Dean and Health Commissioner Dr. Jan Carney both cautioned that potassium iodide would protect only against one of the numerous radioactive materials that would be expected to be included in a release from a nuclear plant. 'We shouldn't pretend this is a solution,' to all threats of radiation poisoning that could result from a nuclear catastrophe, Dean said." [Associated Press, 11/30/01]



    Governor Howard Dean: Protecting the State of Vermont


    FEMA Commended Dean Response to Terrorist Attacks. FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh commended Dean for "continued support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and your guidance and assistance during the aftermath of September 11. FEMA is greater for the leadership you have displayed in the midst of these trying times for your constituents and for the nation as a whole." [Letter from FEMA Director, 3/21/02]


    Dean Elevated Task Force from Volunteer Board to Cabinet-Level Authority. In November 2001, Gov. Dean signed an executive order elevating the chairperson of his terrorism task force to a cabinet level position. The change gave "the governor more direct authority over the group," the Associated Press reported. Kate O'Connor was named Dean's Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs and became the new head of the task force. [Associated Press, 11/2/01]


    State Task Force Report Asked for $19 Million in Preparedness Funds. The Vermont Terrorism Task Force issued a report called "A Conceptual Synopsis of Vermont's Homeland Defense Program" asking the federal government for $19 million over six months to prepare to respond to acts of terrorism. The plan called for $7 million for emergency service responders and public safety, $4 million for public health, and $8 million for to general government security and communications improvements. [Associated Press, 11/6/01]


    On 9/11, Governor Dean activated Terrorism Task Force. Gov. Howard Dean called a meeting of the Vermont Terrorism Task Force to discuss possible terrorism scenarios and contingency plans. The Task Force includes representatives of the National Guard and American Red Cross of Vermont; and health, transportation and state police officials. [Burlington Free Press, 9/12/01]


    Dean Testified Before U.S. Senate Committee on Border Security, Called for Increased Manpower. In December 2001, Dean testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury & General Government on border security. In his testimony he briefed the committee on the security challenges that a border state like Vermont faces. Dean called for additional border manpower to address the increasing traffic and level of scrutiny that border-crossings deserve. Dean said, "Additional security at the border will not only keep security tight, but speed the inspections to ensure that tourists and others seeking legitimate sentry can cross quickly and safely into Vermont and other border states." [Testimony of Howard Dean, 12/5/01]


    Called on Bush to Increase Preparation Against Chemical Attacks and Protect Water Supply. According to the Associated Press, "Gov. Howard Dean last week appealed directly to President Bush to step up preparations against the threat of chemical and biological attacks. He ordered stepped-up security at public water supplies across Vermont and questioned the safety of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant." Dean called for more frequent security checks at public water supplies and planning for a more coordinated response by state police and emergency management officials to any problems. [Associated Press, 10/11/01; 9/24/01]


    Dean Called on Bush to Increase Vaccine Production. Dean called on President Bush to direct federal attention to request drug companies to increase production of vaccines and antidotes to anthrax, botulism and bubonic plague. [Associated Press, 9/24/01]



    Posted by smijer at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Can't Beat This Picture

    from - smijer

    Yep, and that's exactly how I would feel if I landed a robot on a planet 300 million miles from the house.

    I guess Opus will just have to find another way back to L.A. Maybe he can skate the ANWR pipe-line.

    Posted by smijer at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

    Welcome To The Boorg

    from - smijer

    Those of you joining us from the old Nealz Nemesiz page: welcome. Everything is now going to be on the same masthead: smijer. But I've set aside this archive to continue my nebulous work as the nefarious nemesiz. I hope you will stay and enjoy.

    Posted by smijer at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

    January 03, 2004

    Leave It To Oliver

    from - smijer

    Leave it to Oliver to put the newest Heathers' scandal in perspective.

    Thanks. Remind me to blogroll this fellow.

    Once again, Dean is bullet-proof because the opposition can't find anything on him. Bush is bullet-proof because the opposition can't get published.

    Posted by smijer at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Hey, is this thing on?

    from - smijer

    There will be kinks. That is to be sure. I'll resist the urge to place a huge mission accomplished banner at the top of the page and then blame it on the sailors.

    Posted by smijer at 01:45 PM | Comments (1)