Via N.Z. Bear, I see speculation by Spoons that "the Kerry discharge story (that Kerry received an other-than-honorable discharge) is going to break tonight. "

Once again, I wish Kerry had simply signed Standard Form 180. This is too serious a matter for last minute shenanigans.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay has posted an excellent interview with Steve Gardner -- one of the Swift Boat veterans who actually served with Kerry. Excerpt:

go ahead and have Mr. Kerry sue me. I've asked him three or four times why he won't sue me. He won't do it. I'd be very happy to step into a courtroom because you know what? I'd go on and demand that the hundred some odd pages from his form 180 that he's never signed be exhumed and brought forward. He won't do it and you know what? We obviously know why he won't do it.
Mr. Gardner is referring to a legal process called discovery. As truth is a defense in any defamation lawsuit, anyone who is sued for defamation may compel the production of any records which might conceivably lead to relevant evidence.

There's plenty more in Dean's hard-hitting interview with Mr. Gardner -- and still time for the undecided to read it.

posted by Eric at 09:31 PM | Comments (4)

Ghostly gathering . . .

I visited two old Philadelphia cemeteries today: the very run-down Mt. Moriah Cemetery, and the famous historical landmark, Laurel Hill Cemetery. I thought that in keeping with the season I'd share a few photos.








While I wasn't looking for ghosts today, at least one website does offer photographs of Mt. Moriah's ghosts, and similar claims have been made for Laurel Hill.

(Of course, I got out of there just as the sun was setting, or I might not be writing these words right now.....)

posted by Eric at 07:12 PM | Comments (1)

What the H? Hitch goes for W!

I was talkin with E. from the Dave just the other day about all of these not-so-glowing endorsements for Kerry (E., by the way, has an endorsement of his own), and he noted Christopher Hitchens's apparent Kerry endorsement at Slate:

Christopher Hitchens, Contributor: Kerry

I am assuming for now that this is a single-issue election. There is one's subjective vote, one's objective vote, and one's ironic vote. Subjectively, Bush (and Blair) deserve to be re-elected because they called the enemy by its right name and were determined to confront it. Objectively, Bush deserves to be sacked for his flabbergasting failure to prepare for such an essential confrontation. Subjectively, Kerry should be put in the pillory for his inability to hold up on principle under any kind of pressure. Objectively, his election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq.

The ironic votes are the endorsements for Kerry that appear in Buchanan's anti-war sheet The American Conservative, and the support for Kerry's pro-war candidacy manifested by those simple folks at I can't compete with this sort of thing, but I do think that Bush deserves praise for his implacability, and that Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty.

As E. pointed out, one wouldn't know from Hitch's statement whom he actually supported, and I suggested he was being ironic.

And that appears to be the case. Either that, or Slate got it wrong because Hitchens has actually written two (very similar) pieces endorsing the President: Oct. 21st for the Nation, and today, Oct. 31st, for the Guardian UK.

This is not ironic, but it is worth reading:

I can visualise a Kerry victory and can claim to have written one of the earliest essays calling attention to the merits of John Edwards. What slightly disturbs me is the liberal refusal to admit the consequences of 'Anybody But Bush', now the only glue binding the radical left to the Democratic Party right.

The amazing thing is the literalness with which the mantra is chanted. Anybody? Including Muqtada al-Sadr? The chilling answer is, quite often, yes. This is nihilism. Actually, it's nihilism at best. If it isn't treason to the country - let us not go there - it is certainly treason to the principles of the left.

I was asked if I would also say something here about my personal evolution. I took that to mean: How do you like your new right-wing friends? I can only return the question. I prefer them to Pat Buchanan and Vladimir Putin and the stupid British Conservative Party, to the mendacious populism of Michael Moore, who compares the psychopathic murderers of Iraqis to the Minutemen. I am glad to have seen the day when a Tory leader is repudiated by the White House. An irony of history is when Republicans are willing to risk a dangerous confrontation with an untenable status quo. I am proud of what little I have done to forward this revolutionary cause.

In Kabul recently I interviewed Masuda Jalal, a brave Afghan physician who was now able to run for the presidency. I asked her about her support for the intervention in Iraq. 'For us,' she said, 'the battle against terrorism and against dictatorship are the same thing.' I dare you to smirk at such simple-mindedness as that.

I could take refuge in saying that I was a Blair supporter rather than a Bush endorser, and I am a member of a small international regime-change left[-wing] that originates in solidarity with our embattled brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have received zero support from the American 'anti-war' movement. I won't even consider any reconsideration, at least until Islamist websites start posting items that ask themselves, and not us: can we go on taking such casualties? Have our tactics been too hideous and stupid? Only then can anything like a negotiation begin.

The President, notwithstanding his shortcomings of intellect, has been able to say repeatedly the essential thing: that we are involved in this war without apology and without remorse.

He should go further and admit the possibility of defeat, which might concentrate a few minds, while abjuring any notion of capitulation. Kerry is also capable of saying this, but not without cheapening it or qualifying it, so that he is offering you the worst of both worlds.

I have made my own escape from self-imposed quandary. Once you have done it, there's no going back. I have met a few other former hostages, and they all agree that the relief is unbelievable.

How is it that Hitchens endorsed the President on the 21st, then Kerry on the 26th, and the President again on the 31st? Irony?

posted by Dennis at 11:06 AM

Happy Halloween!

I carved my pumpkin tonight and I took a picture of it in the dark. (No special effects; just sitting on my computer....)



posted by Eric at 01:59 AM | Comments (1)

Time to get serious in the War on Terror!

Fascinating development while I was out; veteran newsanchor Walter Cronkite stated that Karl Rove is behind Osama bin Laden:

Former CBSNEWS anchorman Walter Cronkite believes Bush adviser Karl Rove is possibly behind the new Bin Laden tape.

Cronkite made the startling comments late Friday during an interview on CNN.

Somewhat smiling, Cronkite said he is "inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."

Interviewer Larry King did not ask Cronkite to elaborate on the provocative election eve observation.

What's up with that? Is Cronkite shooting for the Nobel Prize? Back when I was growing up, he was everyone's idea of the reasonable man, Mr. "And That's The Way It Is!"

With the incredible connections he's built up, as well as his superior intellectual firepower, his statement has to be worth taking seriously -- at least as a Democratic Party statement of ideology.

I say, let's for the sake of argument give Cronkite the benefit of the doubt, and treat his statement as true. If Karl Rove was behind the Osama bin Laden tape, then that means Michael Moore was right. It's been Osama Bush all along. And according to the Kerry doctrine, we must track down and kill Osama bin Laden and all of his operatives.

INCLUDING (possibly starting with) KARL ROVE! In fact, if Rove's giving marching orders to bin Laden, then he's a more important target than bin Laden!

Logically, I see no strategic alternative.

No wonder Larry King stopped asking questions.....

MORE: Ann Althouse (guest blogging at InstaPundit) thinks Cronkite was joking.

If so, then I say "Har!" Nice to know we have a a senior statesman with such a provocative sense of humor.

AND MOORE! Glenn Reynolds has returned just in the nick of time, with a link to much-needed food for thought about a very sophisticated three-way partnership between bin Laden, Rove, and Michael Moore: there any doubt that some bootleg DVD or videotape of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" made it to a remote mountain village somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan border?
No doubt about it at all -- and in light of the Cronkite remarks, it's obvious that Rove acted as the Moore/bin Laden go-between!

Is there still time for Kerry to blow the whistle on this treacherous threesome?

OLD UPDATE: Moore as agent provocateur for Rove? It's not a new idea at all. Back in July, Glenn Reynolds offered to provide compelling evidence, but it seems there were no takers. (Can't say we weren't warned....)


STILL MORE: The Tehran Times has chimed in (confirming Walter Cronkite's and Michael Moore's speculations about a bin Laden/Bush partnership) in a piece called "Bin Laden dancing to Bush’s tune":

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Only four days before the U.S. presidential election, suddenly a suspicious tape of Osama bin Laden is mysteriously “dropped off” at the Aljazeera office in Pakistan, warning of another September 11.

As the Republicans have been dogged by criticism of the futile attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the disappearance of hundreds of tons of explosives in Iraq, and rising speculation about the possibility of vote-rigging, the airing of the videotape by the Aljazeera network seems to indicate that a premeditated plan devised by Bush administration neoconservatives is unfolding.

Even though some consider the tape detrimental to Bush, with the immediate confirmation of the voice by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), unlike in the past, and the immediate reaction by Bush, it becomes clear that everything is going according to schedule and that Bin Laden is dancing to Bush’s tune.

And here's their dire warning to the American people:
....if one day it becomes clear that Bin Laden worked for the Bush campaign, then we should pity the American people in particular and the whole world in general.
All the more fascinating in light of credible intel that Iran may be harboring bin Laden....

posted by Eric at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

Why Sweden is safe!

Are they handing out Nobel Prizes like candy or what?

I'm marveling over these remarks from recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, an ecologist and trained biologist:

KENYA'S new Nobel Peace Prize winner believes the virus causing AIDS was a deliberately created biological agent unleashed on Africans.

"Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that," Wangari Maathai told a news conference a day after winning the prize.

Ms Maathai, an ecologist and trained biologist, became the first African woman to win the prize on Friday for her work in human rights and reversing deforestation.

"Us black people are dying more than any other people in this planet.

"It's true there are some people who create agents to wipe out other people. If there were no such people, we could have not have invaded Iraq.

"We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had made, or was in the process of creating agents of biological warfare," said Ms Maathai, also Kenyan deputy environment and natural resources minister, who has gained a reputation as a fearless speaker.

"In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare," she added.

"Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious."

(Story also here.) This is called science? I guess it should be embarrassing for the Prize Committee, but they're probably way past that stage.

Osama bin Laden's recent comments about Sweden are now starting to make sense.

MORE: Here's Kevin Aylward on the Prize Committee's decision: would think they could at least make sure the recipient was not insane.
What? And piss off Osama? No way!

MORE ON SWEDEN: Wretchard at the Belmont Club also thinks that (depending on American voters) Sweden may be the wave of the future:

The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama's terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials 'US' will always mean Unconditional Surrender.
(Via Michael Totten, guest-blogging at InstaPundit.)
Sweden is considered by many on the left to be proof that socialism works -- and also that appeasement works. Hey, ask Jeremy Rifkin!

posted by Eric at 10:19 PM | Comments (4)

Don't go to your grave without a graven image!

It appears that Osama bin Laden is still alive and making statements as logically elusive was the question of his recent mortal status:

"Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic candidate John) Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands," bin Laden said.

"To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster," he said. "I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security."

"If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have dignified souls, like those of the 19 blessed ones," he said, referring to the 19 hijackers.

"We fought you because we are free .. and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours."

While I'm not up to interpreting those strange remarks, I do feel vindicated, because I had a big discussion with a good friend about bin Laden recently. While a lot of pundits I respect had declared the man dead, I never agreed with that, primarily because the demoralization that would create for his followers would, I think, have been discernible. It's tough to keep people quiet about a thing like the death of their highest and most exalted leader. There would have been "death chatter" somewhere. (Witness the recent news of Arafat's poor health, which (as Roger L. Simon notes) has created shock waves around the world.)

As to the absence of videos, it always struck me that bin Laden had more to lose than to gain from making another video. There's always some risk making a video when you're the most wanted (and most expensive) man in the world, because it has to go from person to person, and place to place, and with every link in the chain there's the possibility of being ratted out or someone spotting a clue. Add to that the possibility of having the enemy experts discern hidden details (such as location, or make and model of the camera), and absent a compelling reason, why bother? Better to keep 'em guessing!

Obviously, this time Osama thought it was important enough to trash Bush just before the election that he decided to take the risk. (Either that or the film was older, with the release timed for the election.)

Coming as this does on the heels of the "Azzam the American" video, it does appear that Al Qaida would like to influence the election. Whether they're using double reverse psychology remains to be seen.

posted by Eric at 05:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)

How to photoshop and resize a "still" video....

There's a big flap (which, I am told, made it into today's New York Times) over alleged photoshopping of (or in) this Bush campaign video -- by copying and pasting duplicate images of soldiers into a pro-Bush crowd -- thus creating a digital "clone army" to make it appear that Bush's crowd had more military supporters than it did. As "proof," we are offered this image.

Seeing that David Neiwert has derided in advance anyone who might call this a conspiracy, far be it from me to do that.

However, I have a couple of questions. I viewed the campaign ad several times, and I didn't see the clones. I did see the soldiers who were obviously photoshopped into the linked picture though. Except they weren't photoshopped in the campaign ad (at least not the one that's there now).

So what's going on?

I have a mathematical question. This picture (which I shrunk proportionately to fit my blog; you can see a full size version below and the original here) is 600 by 367.


But when I took a screenshot of the Bush/Cheney ad and made a crop of the screen area as carefully as I could, I got a size of 303 by 227. These proportions do not match those of the alleged "clone army" image at all.

If I adust the height of the actual Bush/Cheney screen to 600, then the width becomes 800. Isn't 800 by 600 a standard size? And if I adjust the 600 by 367 size to try to match the screen size (maintaining the same proportions) I get 371 by 227 -- not even close. [Similarly, if I try a 800 width, I get a height of 489.]

The photoshopped version is FAR too disproportionately wide! Plus, the bulk of the photoshopping is on the left hand side.

I wouldn't call it a conspiracy yet, but I will say that the images do not match!

Photoshopping a video requires more skill than photoshopping an image. Perhaps that's why an image which doesn't match the video is all they can offer!

So where is this the video with cloned, photoshopped soldiers? Forgive my cynicism, but I doubt it ever existed.

(I'm glad I'm not a photoshopping or video professional, because I'm sure I'd be accusing someone of rank amateurism....)

UPDATE: Little Green Footballs already covered this, and I see that a digital army never was photoshopped into the video (even though the link I cited directed readers there). Rather, according to this report, some Republican made a still photo by cropping out the podium where Bush was speaking, then filling the area with soldiers. Where that photo is, I do not know. It is not at the campaign site, nor does it appear in the video. I shouldn't have taken the story seriously, because it's not a story at all. I agree with Charles Johnson's characterization:

This is a gigantic tempest in the world’s smallest teacup.

Continue reading "How to photoshop and resize a "still" video...."

posted by Eric at 10:30 AM | Comments (3)

Making America stronger?

The old news (from April of 2003) is constantly being re-spun -- to the point where I'm almost hesitant to comment on the stories, because as soon as I do, there'll be new "news." Like the latest video depicting 55 gallon drums in a bunker. Where was the bunker? How many drums? Were they full? Exactly what was in them? (Does "thousands of pounds" of explosives mean 377 tons?) Lots of scary questions are posed but not answered, and I don't know how much of a hurry there is to answer them.

But the more I read and heard ominous language about "missing" material (the "highest explosives made") -- which could be used to make "nuclear triggers" -- the more I thought back to April of 2003. Had the soldiers said that this could be used to trigger a nuclear device, the same people who are now stressing the word "nuclear" would have claimed "Bush/Cheney" were misleading the public by using the "N" word in a deceptive manner!

Are the Bush critics trying to have it both ways? Are they trying to invoke the specter of WMDs while simultaneously denying that there were WMDs?

I wasn't alone in marveling over this logic.

Here's James S. Robbins.

Wait a minute -- so there were WMDs in Iraq? The Kerry campaign, the media, assorted pundits, and others are making much of the disappearance of the 380 tons of explosives from the al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad. According to the IAEA, the U.N. watchdog agency now apparently in the service of the Democratic National Committee, some of the explosives could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Wow — nuclear-weapon components were in Iraq? Shouldn't the headline be, "Saddam Had 'Em?"

The opposition really needs to get its story straight. The president cannot be taken to task for inventing the Iraqi WMD threat, and simultaneously disparaged for not securing Saddam's dangerous WMD-related materials.

This story just smells. If they like old news so much, why the under-reporting of the later confirmation of reports that Saddam Hussein had in fact tried to buy the yellowcake uranium in Niger?

What bothers me the most is that this happened during the hottest part of the Iraq war. Kerry is now second guessing of decisions made in the heat of battle in 2003 -- when the primary concern was chemical/biological warfare. Does anyone remember the suits and gasmasks they had to wear in the sweltering heat? Now the military has to spend its time investigating, digging through records which are probably highly classified, interviewing people on the scene, deciding what can be released to the public without compromising intel, and for what? Because an American politician is trying to make political hay out of military decision a year and a half later?

I don't like it, and I hope the voting public will be able to see past this stuff.

(Not that it's the first time Kerry has second-guessed military decisions. If I'd been one of the soliders in the field back then, I don't think I'd be too happy about what Kerry is doing right now.)

Of course, if there's a big (even midsize) explosion in Iraq in the next day or so, we'll know exactly where the explosives came from, won't we?

posted by Eric at 08:26 AM

Late night reading!

Back too late for blogging (although I see Justin's been doin' the Humpty Hump 'thout me knowutmsayin'), but there are two reminders....

  • 1. This week's Carnival of the Vanities has set a blogospheric record for the youngest reviewer ever -- 13 year old Maddy at The Twins Tell the Truth. Maddy does a great job with a large volume of material, some of which would be over the heads of most adults, to say nothing of her peers. Splendid!
  • 2. The 69th Bonfire of the Vanities is hosted by Overtaken by Events. (Very creative writing; wish I'd sent them my "bloggledygook" post as it would have fit in better with the theme!)
  • posted by Eric at 09:53 PM

    HUMPTY, pronounced with an UMPTY

    `... There's fascism for you!'

    `I don't know what you mean by "fascism,"' Alice said.

    Humpty Neiwert smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

    `But "fascism" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,' Humpty Neiwert said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

    `The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    `The question is,' said Humpty Neiwert, `which is to be master - - that's all.'

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Neiwert began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Palingenetic ultranationalist populism! That's what I say!'

    `Would you tell me, please,' said Alice `what that means?`

    `Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Neiwert, looking very much pleased. `I meant by "palingenetic ultranationalist populism" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life. Or, in a word, fascism.'

    `That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    `When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Neiwert, `I always pay it extra.'

    `Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

    `Ah, you should see `em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Neiwert went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side: `for to get their wages, you know.'

    (Alice didn't venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can't tell you.)

    `You seem very clever at explaining ideology, Sir,' said Alice. `Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the political group called "Neo-conservative"?'

    `Let's hear it,' said Humpty Neiwert. `I can explain all the political groups that were ever invented -- and a good many that haven't been invented just yet.'

    posted by Justin at 02:01 PM | Comments (5)


    I'll be gone much of the day but if there's anyone reading this in campaign terroritory, there's something that they can do.

    Download this document (Standard Form 180) and get Senator Kerry to sign it!

    I believe strongly that in order to clear up the confusion over his discharge, he has to sign it. Otherwise, considering the good chance of him being elected, we'll be stuck with four contentious years of this kind of stuff. I have been around politics long enough to assure you that it hasn't even started yet; if Kerry is elected it will get uglier and uglier -- making the Bush hate machine look like child's play.

    You can read more about the questions here.

    It's all easily avoidable, and could be cleared up simply.

    If you call the Kerry campaign HQ as I did yesterday (at 202-712-3000), they'll tell you he has signed Standard Form 180, but they're lying. He hasn't.

    The military records are somewhere, and a signature on a piece of paper is all that's needed to get them.

    posted by Eric at 07:06 AM | Comments (1)

    Lunar coverup!

    Tonight's lunar eclipse was largely ruined by cloud cover in this area.

    This was the best I could do before the whole thing became completely obscured.


    (Taken at 9:27 p.m. EDT)

    posted by Eric at 10:45 PM | Comments (3)

    Do genes of distinction lead to extinction?

    Megan McArdle (guest-blogging at InstaPundit) links to a New York Times article on genetic differences between the races. ("Scientists seem to be converging on the view that there is more genetic basis than one side of the argument had hoped, although less than the other side had averred.")

    What would surprise me would be if there weren't genetic differences between the races. Isn't genetics what defines races?

    Anyway, as if racial genetics wasn't challenging enough, what about a distinct, very different human species which coexisted alongside modern humans until just 13,000 years ago?

    This apparently true National Geographic report was a real eye-opener for me:

    Scientists have found fossil skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child (See pictures). The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia as recently as 13,000 years ago.

    Here's a picture of the little cutie, which they've named Homo floresiensis.


    I've renamed him Homo hobbitis, because they've already been described as a hobbit-like species by the workers who did the digging.

    Species, of course, is not race. The story is so bizarre that I checked to make sure today isn't April 1. Here's more:

    Homo floresienses has been described as one of the most spectacular discoveries in paleoanthropology in half a century—and the most extreme human ever discovered.

    The species inhabited Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago, which means it would have lived at the same time as modern humans, scientists say.

    "To find that as recently as perhaps 13,000 years ago, there was another upright, bipedal—although small-brained—creature walking the planet at the same time as modern humans is as exciting as it was unexpected," said Peter Brown, a paleoanthropologist at the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia.

    Did these, um, man-creatures (said to "out-punch every known human intellectually, pound for pound") ever interact with modern humans?
    There is no evidence of modern humans reaching Flores before 11,000 years ago, so it is unknown whether the hobbit intermingled with modern humans. The researchers found hobbit and pygmy stegodon remains only below a 12,000-year-old volcanic ash layer. Modern human remains were found only above the layer.

    Still, rumors, myths, and legends of tiny creatures have swirled around the isolated island for centuries. It's certainly possible that they interacted with modern humans, according to the researchers.

    "Looked at from a regional perspective, we definitely have modern humans in Australia from at least 40,000 years ago, and in Borneo from at least 43,000 years ago," Roberts said. "So there was temporal overlap between the hobbits and ourselves from at least 40,000 years ago until at least 18,000 years ago—more than 20,000 years minimum. What was the nature of their interaction? We have absolutely no idea. We need more sites and more hard evidence, and that's the next phase of our investigation."

    Hope this isn't another Internet hoax.

    Hey, all I can say is read the rest, and don't blame me if someone's having one at the expense of National Geographic.

    (It probably wouldn't be the first time.....)

    MORE: While it's not yet a big name vacation spot, I see that there's already a small tourist industry in Flores, Indonesia. Perhaps the UN should move now to have the area designated as a "Hobbitat for Humanity."

    posted by Eric at 05:42 PM

    Andrew Sullivan Crosses His Fingers

    Eric H. from the Dave pointed me toward this bit of apparent sense by Andrew Sullivan at the New Republic:

    Equally, his presidency can and should be judged on its most fateful decision: to go to war against Iraq without final U.N. approval on the basis of Saddam's stockpiles of weapons and his violation of countless U.N. resolutions. I still believe that his decision was the right one. The only reason we know that Saddam was indeed bereft of such weaponry is because we removed him; we were going to have to deal with the crumbling mafia-run state in the heart of the Middle East at some point; and the objections of the French and Germans and Russians were a function primarily of mischief and corruption. And what we discovered in Iraq--from mass graves to children's prisons to the devastating effect of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Iraqis--only solidifies the moral case for removing the tyrant. The scandal of the U.N. oil-for-food program seals the argument.

    But Sullivan immediately forgets what he'd just written and proceeds to toe the Kerry line, global test and all:

    At the same time, the collapse of the casus belli and the incompetent conduct of the war since the liberation point in an opposite direction. If you are going to do what the Bush administration did in putting all your chips on one big gamble; if you are going to send your secretary of state to the United Nations claiming solid "proof" of Saddam's WMDs; if you are going to engage in a major war of liberation without the cover of international consensus--then you'd better well get all your ducks in a row. Bush--amazingly--didn't. The lack of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq remains one of the biggest blows to America's international credibility in a generation.

    Is this anything more than an effort to vitiate what has proven at least partial justification for the war effort?

    It still surprises me, though it probably shouldn't, that people continue to confuse pre-war intelligence and post-war findings, and that there are still those who claim that Bush lied about WMDs in order to go to war (which Sullivan implies by saying that Bush sent Colin Powell to the UN 'claiming solid "proof" of Saddam's WMDs') when it was pre-war intelligence -- the same intelligence presented to Kerry as he sat on the Senate intelligence committee, the same intelligence with which Kerry agreed at the time, the same intelligence that fueled his support for the war until Howard dominated early -- when it was pre-war intelligence that indicated the threat of WMDs.

    The fact that the intelligence--which at the time all parties (including Kerry) counted as proof--was faulty does not mean that Bush lied or that he used WMDs as a pretext with some other goal in mind. The fact that the war hasn't followed a hollywood script means that it's a real war, in the real world. Sullivan seems to want to fault the President for the intangibles, but nowhere in his less than ringing endorsement prayer for John Kerry does he indicate why he believes those intangibles would not have arisen under another President.

    Post-war findings, as Sullivan noted, clarified our understanding of the state of weapons programs in Iraq, and it was post-war findings which also showed us the existence of a vast network of corruption implicating the UN itself and individuals, officials, and corporations from a number of nations which opposed the war, corruption aimed to lift UN sanctions and resume unhindered Hussein's weapons programs.

    It simply defies logic for Sullivan to acknowledge this and then fault the President for the aftermath claiming that 'the lack of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq remains one of the biggest blows to America's international credibility in a generation.'

    On the contrary, post-war findings of Saddam's masterful manipulation of the UN as well as his plans to rebuild his weapons programs, coupled with the fact that al Zarqawi's al Qaeda is the Iraqi 'insurgency', indicates that pre-emptive strike was fully justified here.

    The Sullivan piece is meshed together from fiercely polemical anti-Bush strands of dubious interpretation.

    On Abu Ghraib he claims that "[i]n one gut-wrenching moment, the moral integrity of the war was delivered an almost fatal blow," which is nonsense. A handful of jackasses embarrassing a few prisoners? People who make so much out of Abu Ghraib should learn what torture was under Saddam Hussein. It's insulting on countless levels to suggest that what a few rogue guards did either constituted an atrocity or invalidated the moral integrity of the war. (It's equally insulting to suggest, as many do, that not showing the greatest outrage at the events implies complicity or suggests that one finds nothing wrong with the actions. It happens, and it's being dealt with. It's not Auschwitz.)

    Ultimately all that Sullivan says is that Kerry isn't Bush, which we knew. But Bush isn't Kerry, and I'm far more comfortable with that.

    There's more, but I've got work to do. Check out James Lileks whom I'm sure has made a better argument.

    MORE: Just spotted this bit from Lileks, quoting and answering Sullivan, which would make a good candidate for my sporadic 'Classical Reference Watch':

    Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn't.

    This would be a reasonable statement if Sen. Kerry had just popped fully-formed from Zeus’ brow, howling for justice, but there’s the inconvenient matter of three decades of public pronouncements that makes one wonder how he defines “defend(ing) this country,” and what he consider to be an offensive. No? Or am I being unfair? Perhaps.

    Here's hoping Kerry never bears the aegis.

    posted by Dennis at 02:42 PM | Comments (4)

    Terrorizing the election?

    In an exclusive, Drudge reports ABC's possession of an al Qaeda announcement that something HUGE is in store -- a terror attack here in the United States in retaliation for the election of George W. Bush:



    In the last week before the election, ABCNEWS is holding a videotaped message from a purported al Qaeda terrorist warning of a new attack on America, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

    The terrorist claims on tape the next attack will dwarf 9/11. "The streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. Further claims: America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda.

    ABCNEWS strongly denies holding the tape back from broadcast over political concerns during the last days of the election.

    The CIA is analyzing the tape, a top federal source tells the DRUDGE REPORT.

    ABCNEWS obtained the tape from a source in Waziristan, Pakistan over the weekend, sources tells DRUDGE.

    "We have been working 24 hours a day trying to authenticate [the tape]," a senior ABCNEWS source said Wednesday morning.

    The terrorist's face is concealed by a head dress, and he speaks in an American accent, making it difficult to identify the individual.

    US intelligence officials believe the man on tape may be Adam Gadhan - aka Adam Pearlman, a California native who was highlighted by the FBI in May as an individual most likely to be involved in or have knowledge of the next al Qaeda attacks.

    According to the FBI, Gadahn, 25, attended al-Qaida training camps and served as an al-Qaida translator.

    The disturbing tape runs an hour -- the man simply identifies himself as 'Assam the American.'

    That's all there is right now. Whether the tape is authentic or not, it's clearly an attempt to influence the election by terrorism.

    UPDATE: According to this report, the CIA is unable to authenticate the tape:

    ....the senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News that “we can’t authenticate” the tape, a copy of which ABC gave the CIA on Monday. He would not elaborate, adding, “I think that is where we are going to stand.”

    U.S. officials told NBC News that the tape included now-standard militant Islamist rhetoric promising widespread destruction inside the United States. The man cannot be identified, the officials said, because his face is covered by a headdress.

    The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, described analysts’ concern as “low” because it was not clear that the tape was recorded recently and because the man on the tape, who spoke in what appeared to be an American accent, mentioned no details.

    “It’s unclear what this tape is — even whether the person on the tape is an American,” one of the officials said.

    UPDATE (10/28/04): The tape has been authenticated.

    posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)

    The mutability of mobilizing passions

    David Neiwert is serious about defining fascism. (And he doesn't set much stock in dictionary definitions.) Instead, he offers a multi-pronged definition of fascism as involving "palingenetic ultranationalist populism" and certain "traits that remain constant in fascism through all the stages of its development." Nine traits (or "mobilizing passions") are listed:

    1. -- a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions;

    2. -- the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual, and the subordination of the individual to it;

    3. -- the belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against the group's enemies, both internal and external;

    4. -- dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effect of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;

    5. -- the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary;

    6. -- the need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny;

    7. -- the superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason;

    8. -- the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success;

    9. -- the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group's prowess in a Darwinian struggle.

    The problem with the above list is that it's a list of beliefs, feelings, thoughts, motivations, passions. Thoughts and beliefs do not equal fascism, any more than the desire for a "Better World" equals Communism. I don't care whether someone -- or some group of people -- feel that they need authority, or feel they need more money; what I care about is what they're actually doing.

    Take a group of nuts like the Ku Klux Klan. They've got the overwhelming crisis, the primacy of the group, the belief that they're victims, dread of the group's decline, the need for to purify the community, need for (male) authority, superiority of the leader, and the right to dominate others. So what? They're a small group of fringe nuts without any hope of getting power. The same could be said about the Nation of Islam. While groups like that may be said to be fascist, they are in absolutely no position (domestically, at least) to impose fascism. (Islamic fascists -- particularly violent adherents to such things as the Caliphate movement, are far more worthy of taking seriously.)

    So what's the point of Mr. Neiwert's essay? Aside from being a portion of a much longer series of essays (most likely written for a book), it seems clear to me that there are two goals: to link -- as closely as possible -- Republicans to fascism via guilt through association, and to render it socially and politically respectable to call them fascists. Republicans (and the "conservative movement") are said to be, if not fully developed as fascists, then at least approaching fascism, because they (or at least some of their supporters) share many of the above mobilizing passions. Mr. Neiwert goes to great lengths to discuss specific examples of each. Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter ("transmitters" of fascism) are said to be engaged in "eliminationist rhetoric" because they've advocated a world of no more liberals. Ann Coulter's statement that Timothy McVeigh should have targeted the New York Times building is taken literally. Does the following colloquy sound genuinely serious?

    John Hawkins: You've caught a lot of heat for a couple of quotes you made. In your column three days after 9/11, you said, "We know who the homicidal maniacs are.They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." You also said in an interview with the New York Observer, "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." Do you stand by those quotes or do you think that perhaps you should have phrased them differently?

    Ann Coulter: Ozzy Osbourne has his bats, and I have that darn "convert them to Christianity" quote. (Thank you for giving the full quote. I have the touch, don't I?) Some may not like what I said, but I'm still waiting to hear a better suggestion.
    RE: McVeigh quote. Of course I regret it. I should have added, "after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters."

    Now, I haven't the faintest idea whether Ms. Coulter seriously believes McVeigh should have targeted the New York Times building. I'm not one of her readers, but I assumed the remark was an irresponsible form of humor, because if it's serious, then she's not only an extremist, but she's crazy as a loon. My common sense tells me she's not crazy, but I could be wrong. But because she's in the same tent with the Republicans, David Neiwert thinks the Republicans are moving closer and closer to fascism. Similarly, Rush Limbaugh said something like "Kill all liberals!" Does that mean the Republicans want to actually do that? I think both statements are hyperbole. Offensive hyperbole, but not reality.

    Many times in the San Francisco Bay Area I have seen people wearing T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as "EAT THE RICH!" and "DIE YUPPIE SCUM!" I never for a moment thought the wearers seriously wanted to kill or cannibalize people for crimes such as "gentrification." (Nor, until now, did I worry that this "eliminationist rhetoric" was now moving the nation towards fascism. But I'll bet they'd have screamed "fascism" had someone worn "DIE HIPPIE SCUM!" t-shirts!) For the sake of comparison let's look at the "mobilizing passions" of the practitioners of anti-Yuppie Eliminationist Rhetoric. There's certainly an overwhelming crisis, desire for primacy of the group, belief that they're victims, dread their decline, the need to purify the community, the right to dominate others, and a sense that their leaders are superior to the rich yuppie scum leaders. What's lacking, I guess, is the need for authority (whether male or female). Hmmmmm.....

    Maybe if they got power......

    With all due respect to Mr. Neiwert, I think that focusing on "mobilizing passions" doesn't withstand analysis.

    Presidential candidate George Wallace will serve as an example of how fascist-sounding hyperbole plays out in practice. In reference to hippie protesters, he used to say that "The next hippie who gets in front of my car will be the last hippie."

    While I can't find a link to the article (this was a long time ago, folks), it just so happened that Wallace had to eat his words, because a hippie protester did in fact get in front of Governor Wallace's limo. Wallace's driver jokingly offered to oblige and asked whether he should run him over, and this terrified Wallace, who grabbed the driver and yelled "GOD NO!" As to his plans for an American fascist state (if that was in fact what Wallace wanted), history showed that the American people weren't even close to considering him as their Fuhrer.

    I vividly remember that Nixon was called a fascist bent on establishing an American dictatorship. He was going to cancel the elections, suspend the Bill of Rights, all the rest of it. What happened? Instead of seizing power and abolishing the Supreme Court, when the chips were down he went out with a whimper. He resigned rather than be impeached. And "for the good of the country." Some fascist he turned out to be.

    Likewise, "fascist" Bush utterly failed to cancel the coming election (as had been predicted by anti-fascist Ted Rall). And I'll go so far as to predict that he will either lose the coming election and leave office in January, or else he'll be elected and serve four more years.

    Pretty lame form of "fascism."

    In the battle to redefine fascism so that it becomes a legitimate political label to define Republicans and conservatives, Mr. Neiwert has a real uphill struggle. While he has made an argument that certain "mobilizing passions" are shared by certain Republicans and by historical fascists, at most this amounts to guilt by association. Smoke equals fire. For the sake of argument, assume that some genuine fascists listen to Rush Limbaugh, read Ann Coulter, go to gun shows, and are angry. In logic, that does not make angry Limbaugh/Coulter fans who go to gun shows fascists. (Of course, the "mutative" definition of fascism advocated by Mr. Neiwert is so amorphous that almost anyone could be called fascist. But far from defining fascism, it actually renders the definition increasingly problematic -- and increasingly meaningless.)

    I can't help notice that Mr. Neiwert's focus on "palingenetic ultranationalist populism" (and on fascism's "mutability") largely ignores what I consider the worst features of fascism: suppression of free speech, brutal mistreatment of dissenters, violation of due process rights, and draconian gun control (features also shared by Communism).

    The palingenetic ultranationalist populists (whether on the right or the left) can spout their nonsense all they want, and I won't stop them. It's still a free country. They're crackpots, and I doubt the American people will ever buy what they're selling -- their various "mobilizing passions" notwthstanding.

    (If they made a move to go after my freedom, my right to free speech, or my guns, that would be a different matter. Might even mobilize my passions.)

    UPDATE: David Neiwert says I have confused his thoughts with those of historian Robert Paxton:

    Now, in somewhat better faith (and certainly more honest, not to mention competent) have been the critiques from Eric at Classical Values, especially his most recent entry. But it's hard to take this commentary seriously when it's clear he can't even distinguish between my ideas and those of Robert O. Paxton, or even acknowledge that the entirety of the ideas I'm basing my analysis upon is drawn from serious scholars of fascism. As anyone who's actually taken the time to read my work knows, I'm not drawing these ideas out of thin air. Moreover, he simply dismisses the heart of Paxton's thesis (that fascism is better understood as a set of "mobilizing passions" than as an "ism") without explanation. There's simply no substance to Eric's critique to address.

    Well, as I said, I did expect to inspire a reaction from the right based on a simple failure of reading comprehension, or a lack of reading altogether. That's easy to predict, considering that the right has a well-established track record of distortion based on misrepresentation and non-comprehension. And my personal experience has been that they decline to read or comprehend simply because they don't want to.

    That's fair enough. I don't like having the ideas or thoughts of others attributed to me. However, if I quoted and then agreed with and analyzed ideas of another, then a third party would be justified in taking issue with me. I agree with the Roman motto, "Si vis pacem, para bellum." I don't mind if someone says I think that -- whether idea was articulated by Vegetus, Cicero, or later endorsed by Clausewitz and countless others -- because the point is the same, and the idea is either right or wrong.

    (I admit that I'm more interested in whether an idea is right or wrong than in who had the idea originally.)

    Anyway, I stand corrected to the extent I attributed Robert Paxton's thoughts to David Neiwert. Still, I don't think I have to read the Paxton book in its entirety to disagree with Mr. Neiwert's analysis, which more than speaks for itself. My objection is with the definition of fascism becoming so broad as to include the passions which may or may not lead to actual fascism. One could look at the passions which lead people to Communism too -- but passions are not the same thing as Communism.

    posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (9)

    Is old news a surprise?

    As so many are puzzled over why explosives missing in Iraq since April of 2003 would be big news right now, I thought I'd hazard a guess.

    Because there's most likely going to be a big explosion, not here, but in Iraq.

    BAGHDAD — Leaders and supporters of the anti-U.S. insurgency say their attacks in recent weeks have a clear objective: The greater the violence, the greater the chances that President Bush will be defeated on Tuesday and the Americans will go home.

    "If the U.S. Army suffered numerous humiliating losses, [Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John] Kerry would emerge as the superman of the American people," said Mohammad Amin Bashar, a leader of the Muslim Scholars Association, a hard-line clerical group that vocally supports the resistance.

    While that article is talking about the offensive generally, I think there might be something more specific coming -- maybe this weekend.

    Something big. Something for an American audience. Something maybe like this?


    There may be leaked intel, or they may just be hoping.....

    I'm just speculating, and I hope I'm wrong, naturally.

    (Others hope I'm right, naturally.)

    posted by Eric at 05:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)

    Dick Cheney gets "F" grade on Fascist exam!

    I just realized that in a previous post, I failed to discuss the implications of a much-reported remark by Dick Cheney. Clearly he lost his temper and he shouldn't have sworn at Senator Leahy. Telling people to fuck off or fuck themselves is impolite by any standard.

    But is it "fascist"? To answer this question we must determine whether the use of profanity is one of the attributes of fascism.

    And as it turns out, Mussolini himself -- il Duce, the father of fascism -- was a leader in the fight against profanity:

    Forbidden language is one of the ways we remind children that there are rules to everyday life, and consequences for breaking them. When we forget this principle, or cease to accept it, it is not just our language that begins to fray at the edges.

    What do we do about it? Well, we could pass a law against swearing. Mussolini actually did that. He decreed that trains and buses, in addition to running on time, had to carry signs that read "Non bestemmiare per l'onore d'Italia." ("Do not swear for the honor of Italy.") The commuters of Rome reacted to those signs exactly as you would expect: They cursed them.

    What Mussolini could not do, I am reasonably sure that American governments of the 1990s cannot do, nor would I wish it. I merely predict that sometime in the coming generation, profanity will return in a meaningful way. It served too many purposes for too many years of American life to disappear on a permanent basis. We need it.

    Obviously, for using the "F" word, Dick Cheney can hardly be called fascist.

    An "F" in fascism for Dick Cheney!

    Which is about the same grade I'd give anyone who believes profanity equals fascism.

    The T-shirts designed by Dave Neiwert can't have been serious.

    And I'm greatly relieved to know that the anonymous caller who told me to go fuck myself sideways (after I ridiculed Glenn Reynolds) wasn't a fascist.

    posted by Eric at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)


    Via Drudge (and in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, with a blaring headline) I see that 377 tons of explosives were missing in Iraq when American troops went in:

    According to NBCNEWS, the HMX and RDX explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived.

    "The U.S. Army was at the site one day after the liberation and the weapons were already gone," a top Republican blasted from Washington late Monday.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors last saw the explosives in January 2003 when they took an inventory and placed fresh seals on the bunkers.

    Dem vp hopeful John Edwards blasted Bush for not securing the explosives: "It is reckless and irresponsible to fail to protect and safeguard one of the largest weapons sites in the country. And by either ignoring these mistakes or being clueless about them, George Bush has failed. He has failed as our commander in chief; he has failed as president."

    A senior Bush official e-mailed DRUDGE late Monday: "Let me get this straight, are Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards now saying we did not go into Iraq soon enough? We should have invaded and liberated Iraq sooner?"

    According to this logic, if WMDs were discovered to have been moved to Syria (which some experts have alleged), that too would be just another example of Bush's "irresponsible" blundering.

    Now that I think about it, saying the WMDs were moved to Syria might not be a bad way to promote Kerry as NeoHawk.

    Well? Since when was consistency one of the rules?

    Besides, Kerry could argue that he wasn't inconsistent at all:

    "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

    - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

    See? I told you Kerry knew they were there all along!

    MORE: According to Drudge, "60 Minutes" planned to recycle this news in an election eve report, but that apparently fell through once it was learned that the explosives had been moved before the invasion:


    News of missing explosives in Iraq -- first reported in April 2003 -- was being resurrected for a 60 MINUTES election eve broadcast designed to knock the Bush administration into a crises mode.

    Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 MINUTES, said in a statement that "our plan was to run the story on October 31, but it became clear that it wouldn't hold..."

    Elizabeth Jensen at the LOS ANGELES TIMES details on Tuesday how CBS NEWS and 60 MINUTES lost the story [which repackaged previously reported information on a large cache of explosives missing in Iraq, first published and broadcast in 2003].

    The story instead debuted in the NYT. The paper slugged the story about missing explosives from April 2003 as "exclusive."

    An NBCNEWS crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq.

    According to NBCNEWS, the explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived.

    It is not clear who exactly shopped an election eve repackaging of the missing explosives story.

    We'll have to stay tuned for more last minute October surprise shopping.....

    MORE: The Kerry campaign has responded:

    The reporter who was actually traveling with the 101st Airborne in the report cited by the Bush campaign has clarified that the unit was not there to secure the massive weapons complex and it was merely a 'pit stop' on their way to Baghdad.
    Redstate (Via Michael Totten.) has more, and concludes that the cited NBC story "does not effectively debunk the New York Times."

    It occurs to me that whether the unit was "there to secure the complex" is not relevant to what was missing -- or whether there was anything to secure.

    (I still think Kerry ought to get more agressive with his second guessing -- and say that Bush missed the WMDs......)

    AND MORE: According to this report, Kerry can truthfully state WMDs were missing from al Qaqaa! (Via a comment at Redstate.)

    Fighting over old news is nothing new.

    Continue reading "NEWS BLAST FROM THE PAST!"

    posted by Eric at 12:03 PM

    Kerry Just Doesn't Get It

    But Robert Ariail's latest does:


    The nuisance remark is still haunting Kerry despite the hear-no-evil policy of his staunchest partisan supporters.

    Rudy still hasn't forgotten the remark either:

    "We don't want to go back to the days when Senator Kerry described terrorism as only a nuisance. When they attacked my city for the first time, it was not only a nuisance," Mr. Giuliani said, referring to the 1993 truck-bomb attack on the World Trade Center.
    posted by Dennis at 09:48 AM | Comments (8)


    Here's Megan McArdle on being instapundited:

    A tidbit for bloggers out there: if you've ever had the experience of being "instapundited", you'll know that your traffic (and your bandwith bills!) go through the roof whenever Glenn links to you. I've just had the odd experience of instapunditing myself in my first post here, which feels a little like one of those pictures you see of someone with mirrors both in front and behind them, looking into an infinitely receding series of their face and back . . .
    I'm cynical as hell, and I blog much the same way I do my daily calesthenics; it's serious daily discipline, regardless of whether I get hits or attention or not, and no matter what mood I'm in. (This results in many posts I refuse to publish, but that's another topic.)

    But an InstaLanche, it's a real rush, like riding a rocket propelled by massive, uncontrollable, human force. To have it happen twice to me in the same week was really something. (Both times were when I least expected it -- the "InstaPocalypse" was already looking old to me and the humor had long worn off, and the second (the "Dime") was written more out of a sense of obligation than creative impulsivity.) Glenn Reynolds has been very generous in linking to me over the past fifteen months, and I always feel honored, but this was unprecedented in terms of sheer volume.

    I'm still amazed by it all. Astounded.

    Back in 2002, Glenn Reynolds was astounded when his hits approached 50,000 -- a tenth of what they are today:

    "It's astounding to me," says Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor who launched his site ( last August with the hope of attracting a couple of hundred readers. He hit a new record last Monday with 49,663 visits. "It's the dirty little secret of punditry being exposed, that a lot of people can do it."
    John Hawkins said that to succeed at blogging you have to work hard day after day, year after year, and prepare to be unpaid and unappreciated. That's the way it is, too. I was happy when I was getting 20 hits a day, because I couldn't believe that 20 people would actually read what I had to say. Now it's more like 1000 on an average day, and I'm just as amazed that there are that many people who actually read me. (I want to say thank you, but I can't see you. I have only met one blogger, and never met a single reader except people who already knew me. The whole thing is still new, fresh, and incredibly strange much of the time. And when it isn't, I just steel myself and start cranking out a post. The appearance of the published post on the Internet fills some primal need.)

    I don't talk about hits all that much and I'm rather shy, and not the bragging type. But here's a graph of the past week:


    I think it even looks like a rocket launch.

    Thank you all for being part of the "fuel" that fuels me!

    I'll keep trying to provide as much fuel for your fires as I can.....

    posted by Eric at 10:44 PM | Comments (2)

    Kerry Lied

    'But at least no one died!,' cries the blindfolded choir, echoing their favorite rhyme in their zeal to take the White House, part of their litany of deception and scare tactics.

    But yes, Kerry Lied:

    Newspaper Investigation Uncovers Truth: Kerry Never Had Meeting With Security Council As He Has Described Numerous Times. “U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq. An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.” (Joel Mowbray, “Security Council Members Deny Meeting Kerry,” The Washington Times, 10/25/04)

    And there's video, too, kids.

    posted by Dennis at 04:03 PM

    Speaking of irony....

    The following image appears on a T-shirt offered for sale by a noted commentator on fascism, David Neiwert.

    Orcinus T-shirt back.jpg

    (Image here.)

    I should hasten to add that T-shirts displaying the above (which may be ordered here) are described as "all for fun," which may mean that their designer is in fact engaged in satire. It must be noted that Mr. Neiwert is always very careful never to call anyone a fascist or a racist unless it is deserved:

    Let me be clear: One of the things I frequently charge liberals with is hurling terms like "racist" and "fascist" willy nilly, which not only undermines their case, it seriously dilutes the ability of those of us who deal with genuine racists and fascists to do so effectively. The terms have lost their weight because of their absurd overuse, and liberals, as I've said often, are among the worst offenders.

    I have always, in fact, tried to be extremely scrupulous about using terms like "racist," "fascist," "white supremacist" and "right-wing extremist" with great care; I simply do not apply them without substantial cause, and I don't believe I've ever used them here without in fact substantiating it.

    I'm certainly glad to hear that.

    UPDATE: I know it's old news, but it occurred to me that some readers might want to read the details of the "Who cares what you think? quote attributed to President Bush. Leading debunker Snopes discusses the evolution of the quote, and while unable to determine its accuracy, concludes:

    Our opinion? There are plenty of traditional outlets for expressing dissatisfaction with the policies and actions of elected representatives, but walking up to the President at a public function and telling him he's doing a lousy job isn't one of them. Such behavior demonstrates a lack of respect for the office of President of the United States, an honor that should be maintained whether or not one respects the man who currently holds the office -- just as the well-mannered citizen doesn't express his disagreement with the political views of a American-flag-carrying protester by spitting on the flag he bears, because that act displays a contempt for everything Old Glory symbolizes, not merely for the person carrying it. The President isn't above criticism, but freedom of speech isn't an excuse for ignoring the ordinary civilities of choosing an appropriate time, place, and manner for the expression of that criticism.
    Snopes does not discuss whether the president's reply, if true, constitutes fascism. (I can't imagine why.)

    posted by Eric at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)

    Too many Jews (and other historical ironies.....)

    I just read a horribly anti-Semitic article published last week in Duke University's Chronicle.

    It is well known that Jews constitute the most privileged “minority” group in this country. Among the top 10 universities, Jews enjoy shocking overrepresentation: Only the California Institute of Technology has an undergraduate Jewish population below 10 percent, and four schools have particularly stark Jewish advantages—Harvard (30 percent), Yale (23 percent), UPenn (31 percent) and Columbia (25 percent). Keep in mind that, at best estimate, no more than 3 percent of all Americans are Jewish.
    It's a long and twisted piece, and is admirably fisked by a Duke university student -- writing (understandably) under the pen-name of John Baker. As Baker points out, anti-Semitism at Duke is "enjoying a golden age of sorts."
  • Duke gave a green light to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference, refusing to listen to critics who questioned the appropriateness of Duke hosting an the anti-Israel hatefest (“Zionism is a disease,” and suicide bombing of Jews is beyond criticism according to its speakers).
  • Duke provided over $50,000 (according to an administrator interviewed by FrontPage reporter Lee Kaplan) to make the conference possible. Most of these funds were spent on security, which makes sense when you are hosting a gathering to support terrorism.
  • Duke also allowed the conference to put on one face for the public – a rally for oppressed Palestinians – while holding closed sessions devoted to facilitating the genocidal agendas of Hamas and the PLO.
  • There's plenty more, and I doubt the story will see the light of day in the mainstream media.

    My father (who's been dead for fifteen years; he'd be 95 today) told me that back in the 1930s and 1940s, Ivy League universities used to have quotas to keep out Jews. Considering the boycotts of Israel and the resurgence of anti-Semitism on campuses, I wonder whether we've learned from history.

    As it happens, I've been writing about fascism recently. (An odious form of totalitarianism -- to which some bloggers are doing their best to link conservatives and even liberals with whom they disagree.)

    Anti-Semitism is so closely and traditionally associated with fascism that it could be called one of its historical attributes.

    Today, however, those who defend Israel are more likely to be called "fascists" than those who attack Israel.

    Imagine if the attackers of Israel started calling for restoring anti-Jewish quotas, while the defenders of Israel (commonly called "fascists") opposed them!

    History loves such irony!

    posted by Eric at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

    Is Free Trade a Pyramid Scheme?

    Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer featured a horrifying story about the attempt by Wal-Mart to despoil Mexico's ancient architectural heritage:

    SAN JUAN TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico - A Wal-Mart store rising near the 2,000-year-old pyramids of the Teotihuacan Empire has ignited the wrath of Mexican conservationists and nationalists who say the U.S. retailer is destroying their culture at the foot of one of Mexico's greatest treasures.

    Since news broke in May of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s plan to construct a 71,902-square-foot store near the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, the entryway of the primordial city has turned into a carnival of demonstrators, most protesting the plans though some welcoming the 180 jobs the store will bring.

    Demonstrators wearing long feathered headdresses, bright indigenous costumes, and loincloths dance around fires spewing incense and implore gods and the government to halt construction. Signs shout "Yankee Imperialism," "Foreign Invasion, Get Out!" and "We'll Be Here Until Victory."

    The store, with 236 parking spots, is to open any day, but protests are snowballing and its future is uncertain.

    On Wednesday, protesters blocked the entrance of the National Institute for Archaeology and History in Mexico City because it gave Wal-Mart its permit. They remained there Thursday, preventing employees from reporting for work.

    The same article appears (with a different headline) at the Common Dreams website. It's a war -- a war of symbols:
    Last week, 63 prestigious artists and intellectuals, in a letter published in Mexican newspapers, asked President Vicente Fox to stop the structure. They see it as a battle pitting Mexico's heritage against encroaching U.S. influence. Wal-Mart is already Mexico's largest retailer, with 664 stores in 66 cities, with sales of $12 billion.

    "The struggle for Teotihuacan is a war of symbols," they wrote. "The symbol of ancient Mexico against the symbol of transnational commerce; genetically modified corn against the Feathered Serpent (the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, Kukulcan in Mayan) and Mexico's traditional foods; the Day of the Dead against Halloween; skeletons against jack-o-lanterns."

    Mysteriously abandoned around 700 A.D., Teotihuacan was called "the place where the gods were created" by the Aztecs, who re-encountered the city in 1300. The ethnicity of the builders is unknown.

    "Don't small towns have the right to have access to the same level of quality goods that Mexicans have in larger cities?" Wal-Mart said in a statement late Wednesday. "Today, residents of Teotihuacan have to travel 15 miles to get to the closest department store."

    Opponents see Wal-Mart's modern capitalism as an assault on native culture.

    "Wal-Mart's aim is to destroy our identity, replace our symbols with the dollar sign," said Jaime Lagunez, 44, a molecular biologist. "The construction at Teotihuacan was made by the people who built their homes and temples with dignity."

    That last statement intrigued me, because, I wondered, if archaeologists are without a clue as to who built the pyramids at Teotihuacan (they don't even know the original name), then how can a molecular biologist claim them as part of his identity? How can he know that these unknown people built the pyramids "with dignity?" How can he be so certain that they weren't built by slave labor? (While the Aztecs came later, they were hardly noted for kindness towards their slaves and captives.....)

    Has the molecular biologist read recent archaeological reports like this?

    Fifty miles north of modern Mexico City stands the ancient site of Teotihuacan. Built more than 2,000 years ago, the city’s colossal pyramids of the sun and moon are the largest pre-Columbian monuments in the New World. But who built and lived in these metropolis held sacred by the later Aztecs, and what are we to make of the recently discovered remains of 200 bound and sacrificed prisoners of war? Today, archaeologists believe that this ancient site may have been the seat of a violent militaristic cult whose rampages were determined by the position of the planet Venus.
    Violent militaristic cult? Ye gods! Did they have a killer deity named Bushtilopochtli? (And considering that women are from Venus, might we need to reassess our traditional -- dare I say classical? -- biases?)

    But why quibble over history when symbology is at stake?

    In any case, the plan to build a Wal-Mart at the foot of the pyramids sounded awful when I read about it -- and the point was emphasized by the Inquirer's accompanying cartoon showing the tacky new Wal-Mart sitting atop the Pyramid of the Sun.


    Still, I wanted more information about the exact location of the store, because I enjoy gathering as many facts as I can before I write. I found a Google cache of this article, which includes these additional facts:

    The warehouse-style store is located near the ancient citadel, within the limits of San Juan Teotihuacan, a town that has grown steadily over the past 20 years, to its current population of more than 45,000.

    A recent report by the Mexican chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an adviser to UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), states that the Wal-Mart store meets the requirements outlined by international treaties.

    But, the report adds, local authorities should take a close look at urban planning in the area, where it says there are already "serious alterations" of the landscape due to urban sprawl.

    Wal-Mart won municipal permits and authorisation from Mexico's National Institute of Archaeology and History to build the new discount store.

    In response to demonstrations and protests by local residents, which included the occupation of the construction site by activists in August to try to bring work to a halt, the government of Vicente Fox and local municipal officials agreed to review the permits -- and endorsed them.

    Within the limits of a town of more than 45,000, located a mile away from the pyramid?

    Why didn't the Inquirer tell its readers that the Wal-Mart is being built in a town of 45,000 plus people? Or that many of the locals want it?

    Are symbols more important than facts?

    UPDATE: Commenter Bill Peschel's good faith attempt to correct me about a "fact" raises a disturbing question which only highlights my point.

    He accurately cited this news report, for the proposition that the Wal-Mart is actually "a half-mile" away from the pyramids.

    But was that report accurate itself?

    I try to research these things but alas! There's a conflict in the reports over which I have no control.

    I'd read that the distance was 1.6 kilometers (which I rounded off to a mile), but Bill Peschel's correction led me to look for something more precise. I found this:

    The store will be located some 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the Pyramid of the Moon and 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the Pyramid of the Sun and, according to authorities, "abides" by regulations and the law.

    I may have understated the distance, if anything (although my point remains the same). Has news reporting become so untrustworthy that bloggers will have to travel to described places and take accurate measurements of distance?

    Are laws of physics and math to be suspended in the name of symbology?

    Regardless of bias, you'd think they'd at least get things like distances between places right.


    NOTE: The above quote comes from a supposedly reliable, nonpartisan source, which describes itself thusly: is an information provider for schools, universities, libraries and individuals who need up-to-date information and news on the countries of the world and for the public and private sector organizations with global operations and interests. The management of has extensive international business and academic experience and, using this experience, has created, in a concise and useful form, a key set of political, economic, and business information, daily news and data for its clients in the form of Country ReviewsTM, the Country WireTM and CountryWatch Data.
    Honestly, I no longer know what to believe.

    (And I thought I was cynical about news reports before I started blogging.....)

    MORE: I think I should stress that the distance involved here is hardly a minor "detail" -- as the reporters might claim in their own defense. The proximity to the pyramids goes to the very essence of the controversy! The cartoon which the Inquirer displayed showing a Wal-Mart on top of the pyramid illustrates graphically that distance is the very heart of the story -- and that exaggeration of distance is a vital part of the protesters' claims. So why did the Inquirer fail to even report the actual distance? Why would another "report" claim it's a half-mile?

    Forgive me for saying this, but if I didn't know any better, I'd almost think the demonstrators themselves were writing the news accounts.

    UPDATE: It should be noted that reporter Susana Hayward (who wrote the above story) is not strictly an Inquirer reporter, but is Knight-Ridder's Mexico Correspondent. I point this out because I realize that the Inquirer editors themselves may have no editorial control over the content of her stories. It may be that no one does. If that's the case, considering the number of readers whose view of the world is formed and shaped by the Knight-Ridder chain, it's understandable why so many people keep raising questions about media accountability and power. Why is Ms. Hayward in charge of telling millions of busy Americans what to think? The reason I think this is important is that had I been too busy to check the facts yesterday, I'd have been as outraged as I was over the Iraqi Museum looting story -- which turned out to be false. If Knight-Ridder's reports from Mexico are questionable, what are the implications for reports about Iraq?

    posted by Eric at 12:27 PM | Comments (6)

    A terrorist by any other name is probably in a Reuters story

    You all may want to take out your copies of the Reuters's Manual of Style Over Substance and mark this in the margin at § 4.1.3 terrorists, 'insurgents,' or 'rebels'?

    It appears that now 'execution' is to be softened or, in post-modernist fashion, treated ironically by inverted commas (note my adherence in this very sentence—I sure as heck fire don't want to offend Michael Moore's Minutemen):

    Rebels 'Execute' 49 Iraqi Troops, Kill U.S. Diplomat

    By Faris al-Mahdawi

    BAQUBA, Iraq (Reuters) - Rebels killed 49 unarmed army recruits in one of the bloodiest attacks on Iraq's nascent security forces and, in a separate attack Sunday, killed a U.S. diplomat in a mortar strike near Baghdad airport.

    The bodies of 37 recruits shot dead on a road northeast of Baghdad were found Saturday and 12 were discovered Sunday.

    "They were all executed, we found them executed," Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.

    The attack was another blow to the efforts of the interim government to rebuild Iraqi security forces to tackle a raging insurgency that U.S.-led forces have failed to quell.

    . . . . .

    "It appears that they were ambushed by a large, well-organized force with good intelligence," the source said.

    Insurgents have frequently targeted Iraqis seen as cooperating with the U.S. military or the interim government.

    You can't miss the political bias: well-organized rebels (not terrorists), using great intelligence, 'executed' (if you want to call it that—I certainly don't) a group of traitors who, like children (nascent), couldn't defend themselves (being ill-prepared by the bumbling Americans), further damaging the cause of the U.S. and its puppet regime.


    posted by Dennis at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)

    Little pig squeaks back!

    David Neiwert has replied to my earlier post -- InstaPocalyptic One-Party State? -- which was linked yesterday by Glenn Reynolds.

    I now feel obliged to reply.

    My obvious satire was derided as "a classical case of conservative buffoonery," and I now stand accused of "erecting a straw man and then playing with it for about 20 paragraphs" (in a "time-tested right-wing fashion," no less!)

    Mr. Neiwert wants an "honest conservative" to tackle his argument, which rules me out, as I don't claim to be either. But I will give him credit for admitting that I have proven his point, even if I don't agree with his reasoning about how I did that.

    My point was to take issue with the use of the term "fascists" (or "pseudo-fascists") as a characterization of disagreement. I think it is a heavy-handed appeal to the emotions, because for most people the word epitomizes all that is evil. Focusing on some characteristics of fascism (nationalism and one-party rule), and comparing these features to a supposedly monolithic "conservative movement" ignores such primary features as murderous suppression of all dissent and government regimentation of industry -- which American conservatives simply don't support. This trivializes genuine fascism, and further, by making all who want this country to win the war (or their party to win the election), would implicitly tar many millions of Americans with the "pseudo-fascist" smear. If the fascists made the trains run on time, does that mean anyone who wants the trains to run on time is a fascist? Or a pseudo-fascist? Does the Democratic Party seek control of the White House and Congress? Isn't that "one-party rule?" Why, then, aren't the Democrats "pseudo-fascists?"

    Even more unfair was the attempt to drag Glenn Reynolds into the right wing conspiracy and then (by association) to pseudo-fascism. I actually thought it was so ridiculous as to be laughable, and I responded with the satirical post. Bear in mind that not long ago, Glenn Reynolds was implicitly, repeatedly, called a racist by David Neiwert:

    the root of all evil in Reynoldsland are the twin threads of dark-skinned Muslims and left-wing antiwar liberals.
    I haven't seen this to be the case at all, and Mr. Neiwert supplies no specifics to illustrate the prejudice against dark skin (or Islam) he imputes to Glenn Reynolds.

    Imputing (whether directly or by implication) racism and fascism to people who are not racists or fascists is illogical and little more than an appeal to emotion. I am therefore very skeptical of these statements:

    The conservative movement is no longer capable of winning anything on the merits of its powers of reason. It's all built on an appeal to emotions, and especially anti-liberal derision.
    Isn't that a bit of a generalization? For starters, are bloggers such as I (or Glenn Reynolds) supposed to be conservatives based on David Neiwert's say-so? Is the word "conservative" now supposed to be a smear, accomplished by means of long essays linking conservatives to "pseudo-fascism"? Conservatives call me a liberal, and liberals call me a conservative, so I am a bit puzzled as to how these labels are to supposed to make me feel. Perhaps Mr. Neiwert intends to induce some form of shame. In my case, these labels have lost their sting. (What would be the value in my calling him a "liberal" or a "pseudo-socialist?" Is that helpful in any way?)

    Belittling the intelligence and questioning the honesty of one's critics is of course another way of inducing shame. As readers can see, Mr. Neiwert considers me a mere dishonest buffoon. (Little does he know how true that is, especially when I write satire!)

    Guilty as charged!

    Mr. Neiwert's final target, Dean Esmay, is a more complicated case. Whether he's retarded or just plain guilty, Neiwert won't say; he cleverly leaves it up to the readers. Either way, Dean Esmay is a comical figure:

    [For a little added fun, check out Dean Esmay's comments in the thread below. The post he's referring to is this one. [NOTE: References this link.] Decide for yourself whether or not Esmay has a reading-comprehension problem, or is just projecting a guilty conscience.]
    While Dean can speak for himself, I think most of us would agree that it's good to laugh at yourself -- especially if you live in a house made of straw. (I'm still puzzled over the title of the Neiwert post; are there supposed to be wolves somewhere? Can't imagine what he means.....)

    As to the definition of fascism, I'll stick to history and common sense.

    And here's the dictionary:

    fascism n. 1. [often cap.] The principles of the Fascisti; also, the movement or government regime embodying those principles.

    2. Any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime with severely nationalistic policies, exercising regimentation of industry, commerce and finance, rigid censorship, and forcible suppression of opposition.

    Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Ed., 1958)

    Saddam Hussein's regime was of course a good recent example of fascism.

    As long as we preserve it -- especially the First and Second Amendments -- I think the United States Constitution makes fascism impossible.

    "Pseudo-fascism" is fake fascism, and I don't think the term fosters meaningful dialogue, especially when hurled at political enemies who support wars intended to defeat fascism.

    One last thing: at least one commenter thinks Classical Values champions fascism. Actually, the deluded Benito Mussolini imagined himself to be imitating the ancients when he first used the term "fascism" to describe theories he'd borrowed not from the ancients, but from French philosopher George Sorel as well as others. It is neither conservative nor ancient.

    Confusion results from the Roman symbol of authority from which the word derives. The fasces was a bundle of sticks, often with an axe blade wrapped inside, which was used by Roman magistrates to denote their authority.

    This classical symbol was considered beautiful enough to appear on the back of the American "Mercury head dime" from 1916-1945.

    Here it is:


    (Please, folks, no wisecracks about how there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the United States and Mussolini's Italy.....)

    UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has linked this post -- in language quite appropriate to the Depression Era dime! Many thanks to him, and a warm welcome to everyone!

    posted by Eric at 04:44 PM | Comments (27) | TrackBacks (2)

    Happy Birthday and Happy Blogiversary Jeff!

    Just a quick note to let everyone know that my blogfather Jeff Soyer is celebrating two important occasions right now: the second anniversary of Alphecca, as well as his FIFTIETH birthday.

    Please be sure to pay a visit, and leave Jeff some birthday blogiversary kisses!

    And here's Jeff's cake!


    (To trigger the party, click on the icing and pull yourself a slice!)

    posted by Eric at 12:35 PM | Comments (2)

    No one was really hurt! Besides, it's funny!

    I don't know whether this is a hate crime, but it certainly qualifies as an assault:

    TUCSON, Ariz. - Two men ran onstage and threw custard pies at conservative columnist Ann Coulter as she was giving a speech at the University of Arizona, hitting her in the shoulder, police said.

    University police arrested the men but did not release their identities.

    In her half-hour speech Thursday night, Coulter trashed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and derided liberals and Democrats while saluting conservative students who attended her speech.

    Coulter writes a column for Universal Press Syndicate. Her appearance was sponsored by the UA College Republicans.

    Here are the two pie throwers themselves, looking pretty smug.

    What's the difference between throwing a pie at someone and throwing a rotten egg? Or, for that matter, urine or excrement? Saliva? (Link via InstaPundit.) Is the fact that pies are edible relevant?

    As I read this, I wondered.... When was the last time someone threw a pie at a leftist? Had it ever happened?

    Oddly enough it has happened. In 1998, a pie was thrown at San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown by leftier-than-thou activists (a move which backfired):

    What it did create was a counterattack by Brown's supporters, who, incredibly, claimed that by pieing Brown (an African American) the group exhibited racist behavior. Confronted with attacks on its own politics, the BBB quickly apologized to Brown supporters for how the act could have been perceived, and met with some of them to, as Komisaruk puts it, "try to get some healing out of this."

    The Brown episode is not the BBB's only misstep. Says Pope: "They pied me because they believed I had not opposed the Quincy Library bill," a legislative attempt environmentalists claim will increase logging in California's northeastern forests. But, he says, the Sierra Club did fight it: "[That is] a bill both the Sierra Club and I spent an enormous amount of time and energy opposing." Pope's annoyance with the misplaced anger of the BBB is only exacerbated by what he sees as the short attention span of the media. "The press covering this is not saying, Do these people know anything about the issues they're talking about? They're saying, These pie people threw a pie."

    Well, I guess if it's racist to pie Willie Brown (the pie-throwers did receive jail time) then it must have been sexist for these two young men to have pied Ann Coulter.

    What if the victim is an elderly Jew? According to the pie-throwers themselves, Milton Friedman was pied for the crime of "neoliberalism." In another instance of brave activism, Robert Shapiro was pied for advocating genetic engineering instead of sustainable agriculture.

    The pie in the face draws attention to your cause.
    The video of Mr. Friedman being hit by the pie (which makes that and many other assertions) can be seen here.

    In short, pie-throwing is seen as offering an improved form of political dialogue. If people either do not agree with (or fail to pay adequate attention to) whatever cause is advocated, then the pie not only gets the attention of those with whom the activists disagree, but by injecting drama, it poses as a form of expression. Pie throwers analogize to flag burning.
    During their trial, the lawyers for the Cherry Pie Three argued that pie-throwing is an act of political protest. More than once, defense attorney Katya Komisaruk remarked that "throwing a pie is like burning the flag."

    Actually, says the Sierra Club's Carl Pope, "it's like being slugged. The pie has nothing to do with it -- it's the fist behind the pie."

    (Yeah, they hit the Sierra Club president too. I guess he's also a leftist.)

    While there's nothing funny about being slugged, somehow being hit with a pie is seen as funny. Harmless. Noble.

    Here's another pieing explanation:

    Pie-slinging is the latest implement in a diverse toolbox of global activist resistance. Few things are as effective in subverting shareholders' meetings, conferences and keynote speeches, as a well-placed pie and a captivating press release.

    One aspect of this new campaign is nothing gets hurt except the image and ego of the targets.

    In Ann Coulter's case, it is felt that no one will sympathize with her, because she's an outspoken conservative.

    But wouldn't there have been more sympathy had the victim been Michael Moore and the pie-thrower a young Republican? Well, Moore's a big man; how about, say, Christopher Reeve's wife? In any of these cases, "nothing was hurt except the image and the ego of the targets." The thinking seems to be that whether or not pie-throwing is justifiable has something to do with whether the target "deserved it."

    I think that's ridiculously subjective, and certainly not legally relevant. If I throw a pie at a total stranger walking down the street, why is that worse than if I selected someone deliberately? Why is the latter "funny" but not the former? To randomly pie someone simply because the pie-thrower is in the mood (or wants to engage in a little target practice) would seem to involve less malice than deliberately selecting a victim.

    Or is the point whether or not the victim is considered guilty of having bad ideas? Being on the opposite side of an argument?

    Is that it? Are we reduced to blaming the victim in these cases?

    What happens if things start to snowball out of control? It happened here last winter:

    PHILADELPHIA -- Some children playing in the snow in West Philadelphia Wednesday got a scare when a man they hit with a snowball allegedly pulled a gun on them.

    The incident allegedly happened Wednesday morning in the 4400 block of Haverford Avenue.

    Police said the 51-year-old man was hit in the face with a snowball. He then reportedly pointed a gun at several kids involved.

    Police have not filed charges against the man, so NBC 10 News is not releasing his name. Investigators said they are getting a search warrant for his home.

    (I wouldn't want to throw a pie at that guy..... As a practical matter, it's never a good idea to startle people whose mental condition and defensive capabilities are unknown.)

    Just today, Professor Bainbridge quoted two prominent leftist bloggers on the snowballing effect:

    Small acts of nastiness and mean-spiritedness become common, and after awhile begin adding up. There's nothing organized, just an environment where politics actually begin to poison our community wells. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
    I can't think of anyone I disagree with more than Michael Moore (or Noam Chomsky). Yet I wouldn't attempt even to shout either man down, much less throw pies at them. The use of violence to oppose political disagreement isn't justifiable by any standard that I know of. Characterizing it as "funny," far from legitimizing it, only introduces sadism (pleasure from inflicting violence on others) into the equation.

    Professor Bainbridge also observes that "busting up other people's speeches was a classic Hitlerian tactic." While it's true that those who break up others' speeches are behaving like Nazis in that respect, it requires sharing more than one mutual characteristic of Nazis to make one a Nazi.

    Abhorrent though it is, pie throwing is a far cry from Nazism, because Nazism was probably the most morally repugnant political movement in human history, and the accusation of being a Nazi is justifiably considered one of the worst insults which can be hurled at anyone.

    Which means that to the extent that those who throw pies call their victims Nazis, that only renders their conduct all the more heinous.

    UPDATE: Earlier, The Guardian published a piece expressing sympathy with the assassination of President Bush.

    The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?
    (A sentiment the writer would probably think is even funnier than a pie toss.)

    Well I'll be hornswaggled! They've pulled the story! Here's the explanation:

    Screen Burn, The Guide

    Sunday October 24, 2004
    The Guardian

    The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

    "Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind."

    I get it now! Oswald, Booth and Hinckley are, like, a comedy team!


    Here's the Google cache. (I saved the original text for anyone who wants to read it.)

    Continue reading "No one was really hurt! Besides, it's funny!"

    posted by Eric at 05:51 PM | Comments (9)

    Organizational bloggledygook?

    While I have never paid much attention to the Log Cabin Republicans, I am intrigued by the stories (denied here) that the organization's leadership has been taken over by Democratic political operatives.

    It has to be considered a bit odd that an ostensibly Republican organization would refuse to support an incumbent Republican president in wartime, but then, I have no more influence over the Log Cabin Republicans than I do over Pat Robertson. Skullduggery on the part of either would not surprise me.

    (Anyway, if there's no truth to the allegations, why the apparent coverup?)

    Is Blog Cabin Republicans taken?

    More disorganizations are needed!

    UPDATE: Why would any self-respecting gay person vote for Bush?

    It’s not that these gay Bush voters are stupid, it’s that they dissent from the approved gay view of what’s important in the world. It’s not that they don’t care about gay rights, it’s that they define gay civil rights on their own terms. It’s not that they’re easily sucked in by deceptive Republicans, it’s that they’ve been taken for granted by the Democrats. I know this is hard for gay activists in Washington, D.C., to believe, but not every gay person wakes up thinking life would be great if only Congress would pass a hate crimes law.
    Not that a million votes really matters much, but the author was speculating about why Bush got 25% of the gay vote in the last election. (Here's the actual 2000 gay vote breakdown.) Taxes are mentioned, but not a word on the war in Iraq -- and no mention of terrorism. It will be interesting to see how many gay people in 2004 place terrorism ahead of the right to a marriage license.

    Regardless of how the board of a national organization might vote, individuals tend to vote as, well, individuals:

    An informal survey of Log Cabin chapters around the country supported the notion that gay Republicans are angry at Bush for supporting the constitutional amendment. But surprisingly, very few vocalized any likelihood that they would abandon Bush over the issue and unify the gay vote behind Kerry.

    "We support the president, we'll stand behind him without fail, and we'll be voting for the president wholeheartedly," predicted Maurice Bonamigo about the Palm Beach chapter of Log Cabin that he helped found in Florida. Bonamigo said he's met the president several times and finds him "very accepting, not judgmental."

    "He accepts people for who they are," said Bonamigo, who said he has contributed money to the Bush campaign and helped raise "an awful lot of money" for him.

    In another swing state, Missouri, John Rogers, president of the Log Cabin chapter in St. Louis, said he's ready to vote for Bush again, too. As far as he's concerned, Bush and Kerry "cancel each other out" on gay marriage. And he, like Bonamigo, said he decides who to vote for based on a range of issues, including "less government intervention in my life, less taxes, strong defense - those types of things."

    Patrick Killen, president of Log Cabin New Mexico, said he'll vote for Bush again, too.

    "Clearly, a great majority of members are very upset with the president's advocacy of the Federal Marriage Amendment. There are some members who are so upset by the president's support for this amendment that they are not supporting him," said Killen. "There are other members, like me, who will continue to support President Bush on other conservative issues while strongly disagreeing with his position on the amendment."

    Killen, a college student, has given money to the Bush campaign, will be an alternate from New Mexico to the convention, and has met Bush three times. He and others credit Bush with increased funding for AIDS.

    There's been a lot of discussion about gay voters' growing sophistication. I know I can't speak for everyone, but when I think about identity politics, "sophisticated" is hardly the first word that comes to mind.

    UPDATE (10/28/04): Megan McArdle (guest-blogging at InstaPundit) shares a similar opinion voiced by one of her best friends:

    ....I'm inspired by the example of one of my most beloved friends, who has decided to vote for Bush. She was persuaded by the debate in the comments section of my blog, but that isn't what inspires me. The truly inspirational thing is that she is gay. Does she like Bush's position on gay marriage? Hell no. But she isn't voting on gay marriage. She's voting on national security.

    Now, you may or may not think that Bush is the right guy, national-security-wise. You may even think that gay marriage is a more important issue to the nation than the foreign policy questions that the last four years have raised, though you'd get some pushback from me. But my friend decided her vote based on what she thought was most important for the country, even though Bush's stand on an issue that's important to her personally is worse than Kerry's.

    That's why I don't understand complaints from the left that low-income evangelicals don't vote their economic interest, or from the right that high-income democrats are funding the party of redistribution. We should rejoice every time we see someone who is voting on ideology, rather than merely supporting the candidate who puts the most money in their pocket.

    And so even if it means a lifetime of celibacy, I'll try to take the high road, and vote my conscience, rather than my . . . er . . . well, you know what I mean. Unfortunately, that just makes the decision all the harder.

    I wish people could understand that (especially in time of war) the best interest of their country is also in their own best interest.

    posted by Eric at 09:07 AM | Comments (5)

    Storm before the clouds?

    Nick Packwood (the esteemed Ghost of a flea) offers obviously heartfelt words of wisdom for the left as well as for President Bush:

    So here is my plea to the American left: please, for the love of everything we hold dear, choose the course that takes us to those sunlit uplands Winston Churchill spoke of not so long ago. Pick up some economics, credit the sworn words of our enemies and value the humanity of women forced to live under the burka as much as the humanity of urban North American arts council claimants. There is a conversation to be had with the most strident of your domestic opponents. The most fervent evangelical will never approve of your marriage but he will honestly pray for your soul. The most devout Roman Catholic will never condone your views about abortion but she will do her level best for the lives of children. Believe the expression of these views to be misguided or mistaken but accept them for the best of intentions. Perhaps, just perhaps, our own good intentions will be recognized for what they are and some way forward can be found. On some issues there can seem little room for compromise. But through this odd blogging habit I have discovered even the strongest disagreements need not be disastrous and have learned something of how my own progressive bigotry clouds my thinking, offers an excuse for my own obnoxiousness and denies me the wise counsel of people with differing opinions. My experience this last year has not changed my mind about abortion rights, gay marriage or the war on some drugs. But it has opened my mind to differing opinions and opened my heart to the souls of people who disagree with me.

    We have to do better. We have to have honest debate about the most important things. Heaven knows there is plenty to disagree with given the policies of the current American administration (or indeed any administration). But Senator Kerry's misrepresentations are not only going to lose him the election... they are just not helping with the work that needs to be done. It is that or the mushroom cloud and I fear that even working together we are going to lose a city or two before this is done. And Mr. President, if by some fluke you or yours should read this, please remember those of us who disagree with you in your prayers.

    I've had more than my share of disagreements with the left and the right, and I am sure I always will. But the bitter, irrational contentiousness and hatred that's swept across the country in the past couple of years is, I think, based on more than mere disagreement. While the political arguments themselves have not changed, there's now a panic mode which didn't used to be there. Might the collective unconscious share (but be unable to admit) Nick's fear that "we're going to lose a city or two before this is done"?

    If so, there's a lot to be irrational about!

    posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)

    Experience counts!

    No posting this afternoon! (This is hurriedly posted on the road.)

    If everyone's lucky, maybe Dennis or Justin will have something to say. (Is that a hint?)

    Meanwhile, I see that Bill Clinton now wants to be Secretary General of the scandal-plagued UN:

    "He definitely wants to do it," the Clinton insider said this week.
    Wants to do it?

    Would Hillary approve?

    MORE: Hillary aside, Eric Erickson explains why it won't happen. (Via Dean Esmay.)

    posted by Eric at 05:17 PM

    Alternate reality may be closer than you think!

    This really ought to be an update to my previous post, "License to Kill?", but that's way down at the bottom of this page, and I've learned that updates to old posts tend to be ignored in the order they're written.

    Anyway, Glenn Reynolds weighs in on the scenario that the war might escalate (for the wrong reasons) under Kerry:

    Would fear of seeming like a wimp lead Kerry to escalate the war on terror rather than pursuing the cut-and-run strategy that many of us expect will mark a Kerry Presidency? Good question. That might actually dispose me to feel better about the prospect of Kerry winning, though I'd prefer a president who pursued war with cold-blooded focus rather than one who pursued it for egotistical reasons.
    Add to that the fear of seeming like a "civil liberties wimp" in the event of another terrorist attack (ominous in light of Kerry's past support for taking away liberties) and, well there's the left-wing case for Bush in a nutshell!

    I guess one could also call this the right wing case for Kerry. But the real right wing case for Kerry is that electing him now would postpone the otherwise inevitable running (and likely election) of Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. As Michael Moore and countless conservatives agree, Kerry is the number one liberal. If he loses, it may be the last public "hurrah" for the far left of the Democratic Party (or at least what is commonly perceived as that).

    From Hillary Clinton's standpoint, a Kerry defeat places her squarely in the middle. If he loses, she becomes a moderate. Possibly even a hawk.

    That's enough to send shivers up and down the spine of many a conservative. How Kerry might tap into that fear is another question entirely.

    I doubt they'll vote for him (although how to interpret Pat Robertson's recent comments has me puzzled).

    posted by Eric at 09:31 AM

    Stop fascism! Abolish secret voting!

    A woman named Sara Rich is helping Michael Moore in his "slacker" campaign.

    In a question-and-answer period, Eugene family therapist Sara Rich told Moore that her daughter, Suzanne, is a military police officer in Iraq who has managed to share a bootleg copy of "Fahrenheit 9/11" with her entire platoon.

    "Thank you and your daughter for her service," Moore replied, "and we're going to get her home as soon as possible."

    What the piece does not mention is that Ms. Rich is more than a family therapist; she chairs Eugene's Human Rights Commission, where she's something of a homeless advocate, so I doubt her involvement with Moore's "slacker" campaign is accidental:
    Ms. Johnson reminded commissioners that the process was complaint-driven, and that the department did not respond unless there was a complaint from a citizen.

    In response to a question from Ms. Grendler regarding whether the initial contact person could work rotating shifts, Lieutenant Kerns said he had no information on that. He noted that the person in question was an employee of St. Vincent de Paul.

    In response to a question from Mr. Laue regarding whether the action was being taken on the streets only, Lieutenant Kerns said there was also enforcement in the parks.

    Dr. Katul called for a report on the number of citations issued.

    Mr. Kutchai said no one was being cited without it being made clear to them that what they were doing was illegal. He stressed that the actions were not a surprise to anyone.

    Ms. Rich said she had a hard time with telling people with low economic status that they could not be on the street because it was illegal. She stressed that the people had no money, resources or other places to go. She said the homeless were members of the community that were asking for help. She stressed the importance of a safe community where people felt safe and respected.

    Ms. Grendler thanked Ms. Rich for her comments and expressed her agreement. She noted that the homeless camping ban in Eugene had put people in that kind of situation. She said the issue would continue to be explosive until there was a moratorium on the homeless camping ban and the City decided to work on the issue. She expressed her difficulty in listening to Mr. Kutchai because the homeless in the community had no option to do other than what they were doing.

    Ms. Newbre expressed her dismay that people with nowhere else to go were being penalized for that fact. She said the idea of confiscating vehicles for that “offense” was unconscionable. She stressed her strong opposition to taking away the little shelter a homeless person had.

    Mr. Kutchai agreed that the comments being made were indeed valid concerns, but that in some cases, people did have a choice, which included being homeless.

    Yawn. (I used to sit through meetings like that, and believe me, they're boring. No wonder most people hate politics!)

    Let me emphasize that there's nothing wrong with being a homeless advocate. I have known a lot of really good homeless people, and over the years I have taken in and helped shelter more than I can remember. My objection to Moore's brand of activism is that it is heavy-handed, condescending in the extreme, and smacks of dishonesty.

    Homeless have the same right to vote as anyone else. What bothers me is that they are being taken for granted by people like Moore, who assume they'll vote as they're told (which means always Democrat and never Republican). I do not doubt that most homeless and human rights activists make the same assumption. I've seen evidence which convinced me that homeless are human beings capable of independent thought, and here's more evidence from a homeless advocacy group which confirms that:

    According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, voter registration drives show that about 60 percent of homeless people identify themselves as Democrats, 20 percent as Republicans and 20 percent as independents.
    In addition, only 53% of the homeless bother to register, and only about a third of that number ever vote. Which means only about one-sixth of the homeless actually vote.

    Yet twenty percent register Republican.

    This brings up a practical side to this which is being forgotten. Imagine, being a homeless person and actually registering to vote. Based on my own experience in Berkeley city politics, the activists who register the homeless are almost always from the left wing of the Democratic Party. When you register, you have to state a party affiliation. Homeless people have what's called "street smarts," and I think it would take balls for a homeless person to tell one of those activists he's a Republican. I'd be willing to bet most of them just go with the flow and say "Democrat."

    Actual voting, however, is secret.

    The homeless are smart enough to know that. Lots of them are also smart enough to think about things like personal protection and gun control. They remember all kinds of things like the seige at Waco.

    Does anyone remember what happened when they allowed secret voting in Nicaragua?


    Perhaps the left should take a lesson from Nicaragua. One party fascists (much like Glenn Reynolds, who probably loves secret voting) used the slogan "Your vote is secret!" to confuse people into voting for their party against the people's own interests. Secret voting is therefore another fascist method which should be prohibited. Supervised voting makes much more sense.

    "The people" should have nothing to hide!

    Come to think about it, what about all those people who refuse to put signs in their yard? Are they hiding something?

    posted by Eric at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

    Move over, Amerikan Dream!

    Eurofascism? Can such things be? (From L'Ombre de l'Olivier, via Stephen Green.)

    Here's what happened:

    The European Court has quietly brushed aside 50 years of international case law in a landmark judgment on press freedom, ruling that Brussels does not have to comply with European human rights codes.

    In a judgment with profound implications for civil liberties, Euro-judges backed efforts by the European Commission to obtain the computers, address books, telephone records and 1,000 pages of notes seized by Belgian police - on EU instructions - from Hans-Martin Tillack, the former Brussels correspondent of Germany's Stern magazine.

    It is a test case of whether the European Court will adhere to the democratic freedoms and liberal principles upheld for the last half-century by Europe's top rights watchdog, the non-EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or whether it will pursue a more authoritarian line as it grows in power.

    As I noted a few days ago, a guy named Jeremy Rifkin is being touted by some as a possible Kerry cabinet member.

    It turns out Rifkin (an old colleague from Kerry's antiwar days) thinks the European Union is a model for America. He's written a book called The European Dream. From the book description:

    With the dawn of the European Union, Europe has become an economic superpower in its own right-its GDP now surpasses that of the United States. Europe has achieved newfound dominance not by single-mindedly driving up stock prices, expanding working hours, and pressing every household into a double- wage-earner conundrum. Instead, the New Europe relies on market networks that place cooperation above competition; promotes a new sense of citizenship that extols the well-being of the whole person and the community rather than the dominant individual; and recognizes the necessity of deep play and leisure to create a better, more productive, and healthier workforce.

    From the medieval era to modernity, Rifkin delves deeply into the history of Europe, and eventually America, to show how the continent has succeeded in slowly and steadily developing a more adaptive, sensible way of working and living. In The European Dream, Rifkin posits a dawning truth that only the most jingoistic can ignore: Europe's flexible, communitarian model of society, business, and citizenship is better suited to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Indeed, the European Dream may come to define the new century as the American Dream defined the century now past.

    Yes, our primitive conception of the individual is outmoded. Doubtless so are the silly "rights" we complain about, such as free speech, the right to keep and bear arms, and freedom of the press. Haven't we learned that there is a Better Way?

    Europe has a long history with the Better Way, and they're obviously way ahead of us.

    It's interesting that the supporters of this nonsense are so quick to describe others as "fascists...."

    We've seen their dream before, and it wasn't very pretty.

    (I think I'll stick with the American Dream.)

    NOTE: Justin has more on Rifkin here, and discussed his new book here.

    UPDATE (10/21/04): In a piece called "We Are the World," Belmont Club's Wretchard analyzes this mindset:

    NATO and the United Nations appear to be touchstones for the Democratic nominee, not just the troublesome hurdles that they appear to be to President Bush. In speeches over the years, Kerry repeatedly has denounced unilateral action.

    Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."

    This will be cause for joy among those who feel that on principle, America should subsume its national interest to a wider set of imperatives. 'America joins the world', 'No longer alone' is the ticket. The argument is based on a rejection of American "exceptionalism", and indeed the exceptionalism of any individual country or culture. If all cultures are equally valid then the US Constitution is nothing special; simply one arrangement among many and in fact perforce subordinate to a Universal Charter, in the way that a subset is necessarily contained in the superset. Any distaste is written off as sentimental attachment; a false ethnocentrism that will eventually join anthrocentrism and geocentrism in the wastebasket of old ideas. To necessity is added the force of inevitability. Iraq becomes a modern day Scopes Trial, the last hurrah of an insupportable conceit.

    Nor is there anything to be alarmed at, we are assured. 'One World' may be a goal, but a distant goal, comfortably arrived at in stages. Nothing will be missed. Nothing essential really. It will all happen so gradually as to be imperceptible, except to bigots, who are always noticing something. The process will consist of a slow expansion of international understandings and a gradual diminution of individual action. Nations will habituate themselves to deferring to a Higher Good until it becomes unthinkable to do otherwise. We can take our time -- provided, and this is essential -- provided there are no questions about the eventual destination. It is breathtaking as a concept, and might be described as a second American Revolution; one we are witnessing now.

    I'm not the world, and I don't want to imagine!

    posted by Eric at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)

    No bounce?

    It may be none of my business, but I think Kerry's looking a bit fatigued here. (Via Drudge.)


    posted by Eric at 10:51 AM | Comments (5)

    Consumption is evil! Limits are good!

    I hate people telling me how to run my life, and this piece by Thomas Sowell is a perfect illustration of the problem:

    One of the latest examples is a recent ruling by one of the many busybody commissions in California that people who build houses, or just remodel their homes, will in the future have to have more fluorescent lights and even install motion sensors to control lights -- all in the name of saving energy.

    Motion sensors? Yes. If you are in a room where motion sensors control the lights, sitting still for a while will cause the lights to go off automatically.

    The idea of the anointed busybodies is that we lesser people often leave the lights on when we walk out of a room, thereby wasting energy. The answer, as in so many other cases, is to impose their superior wisdom and virtue by forcing us to do a Good Thing -- in this case install motion sensors to turn out the lights automatically when there is no one moving in the room.

    If you are one of those people who just likes to sit still and think for a while, or perhaps listen to music or watch television, look for the lights to start going off if you are in California -- and get used to having to wave your arms or shake your legs in order to get them to come back on again.But it's a Good Thing.

    The world is full of Good Things, which is why there are so many laws and regulations increasingly intruding into our lives and restricting what we can do, even in our own homes. The vision of imposing Good Things means an ever-growing petty tyranny.

    Hasn't it occurred to these people that the more electricity one uses, the more one pays? Pacific Gas and Electric's energy bills charge a higher rate depending on how much energy is used, akin to the "progressive" taxation system. So, people are already penalized for wasting electricity. If they pay more than it's worth for it, isn't that a Good Thing? Obviously, it's not good enough.

    But why stop with electricity? Couldn't body temperature sensors be used to determine how much heat we need? Timers on all faucets so that we don't spend too much time showering or brushing our teeth? A time limit on running all automobile engines, enforced by a shutoff switch after a certain period of time? A limit on how many times a toilet can be flushed during a day?

    It might save even more energy to simply have mandatory power blackouts whenever the bureaucrats see fit.

    The real problem, of course, is humanity itself. There are too many people, and they take up too much space, consume vital natural resources, and above all, they live too long. Surely there must be a way to shut them down too?

    Yes, here it is:

    The future youth-crazed culture goes to the ultimate extreme and people voluntarily (more or less) go to their sweet rest at the age of thirty. A liquid crystal time-out device in the palm of the hand (presciently anticipating RFID implants) shows the world where you are on the short time line of life.
    Thirty is long enough, but of course we can't implement that radical of an idea right now. Perhaps eighty would be a good place to draw the line.

    We have to start somewhere!

    posted by Eric at 09:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)

    Carnival #109

    The Carnival of the Vanities is hosted this week by Jack Cluth's People's Republic of Seabrook. He's a leftish (and recently hairless) blogger, and I must say that I admire his gracious handling of the rightish posts. It's a good-natured, er, catfight, but what I want to know is how the rabbit got into the killing fields?

    A real treat! (The Carnival, of course; still not sure about the man-eating rabbit!)

    A few highlights:

  • In a post of particular interest to this blog, Josh Cohen discusses Hollywood's censoring of Alexander the Great! (Apparently, the producers can't handle the man's well-known bisexuality -- at least they want the scenes toned down..... Reality is only for people who can't handle drugs, I guess.)
  • Dissecting Leftism dissects British anti-Americanism.
  • Charles G. Hill lists ten reasons why Republicans are more satisfied with their sex lives than Democrats. (Seems I remember that hookers were polled back in the 1960s, and they opined that Republican conventioneers were more fun than the Dems.)
  • Watcher of Weasels has some good questions for Kerry.
  • La Shawn Barber offers women AIDS prevention advice, and opines that AIDS is not Bush's fault. (This may come as a shock to some.....)
  • Zero Intelligence reveals that to school officials, a butterknife is apparently an assault weapon....
  • Alan K. Henderson is looking very presidential.
  • Solomonia attended a class taught by Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. This post is well worth reading, and I wish I'd attended. (Fascinating fact: "September 11, 1683 was the day the siege of Vienna was broken.")
  • Finally, some admitted pandering with a link to Glenn Reynolds' post about flu shots. A hopeless panderer myself, I think I'll chime in here and offer yet another suggestion: NO FLU SHOTS FOR TRIAL LAWYERS! But all law professors should be vaccinated first, not just to protect them against infected trial lawyers, but to provide students with a practical lesson in wise career choices.
  • A very, very enjoyable Carnival! Go read it!

    posted by Eric at 08:54 AM | Comments (4)

    Well, sports fans ...

    The Boston Red Sox have done something no other team has done: they've come back from a three game deficit to tie the series and force a game seven.

    I guess you all finally downloaded the Mahow Mahow video.

    Now, there may be some concern over the interference call against Alex Rodriguez in the 8th inning:

    Then in the eighth, after Miguel Cairo's double and Derek Jeter's RBI single off Bronson Arroyo pulled the Yankees to 4-2, Alex Rodriguez hit a ball between the mound and first. Arroyo picked it up and ran toward first, where just before the base the striding A-Rod slapped the ball away.

    Jeter came all the way around to score as the ball bounced down the right-field line. After Boston manager Terry Francona came out to argue, the umpires huddled, discussed the play, then called Rodriguez out for interference and sent Jeter back to first.

    Rodriguez raised both hands and put them on his helmet, screaming about the reversal and the game was held up for 10 minutes while fans tossed debris on the field and Yankees manager Joe Torre argued.

    That puts to lie my friend's favorite line about Yankees fans and class, and Boston's lack thereof. It took the presence of police officers in riot gear to calm the crowd.

    But back to the call. Another friend of mine wanted to see where in the rulebook this was considered interference, and it's probably because most players are classier than NY's A-Rod that we haven't seen this enough to recognize it. But here's the rule:

    INTERFERENCE (a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules. In the event the batter runner has not reached first base, all runners shall return to the base last occupied at the time of the pitch.

    Case closed, and on to game 7.

    Just one more thing to love about America.

    posted by Dennis at 01:20 AM

    InstaPocalyptic One-Party State?

    One of the most fascinating bloggers I've had the fortune to read, David Neiwert -- a guy I really hope is engaged in satire (although I've been disappointed before) -- accuses Glenn Reynolds of unleashing a massive compaign of intimidation, the goal of which is the creation of a one-party state:

    But led by the Drudge Report and a number of [NOTE: InstaPundit link] prominent right-wing bloggers, the right has again unleashed one of its massive intimidation campaigns aimed at forcing ABC News to toe the conservative-movement line, in much the way that Landay described in his Media Transparency piece:
    The apparat's media-attack organizations are charged with keeping journalists in line, mobilizing the base to wage harassment campaigns against media organizations and reporters they dub as too "liberal." Journalists who dare criticize the Administration are priority targets for abuse. For that reason, among others, Americans learn almost nothing from mainstream media about the apparat, whose media-attack operations effectively silenced Hillary Clinton's charges of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" operating against her husband's administration.
    Wow! No wonder I never heard of the vast right wing conspiracy! Not only did the rightist apparatchiks stop Hillary dead in her tracks, but apparently, they have now charged Glenn Reynolds with the task of making the media toe the conservative line, towards of course the ultimate goal: establishing a ONE PARTY STATE!

    Whew! This is almost too much to process all at once. My limited mind just can't quite grasp the full enormity of this very serious situation.

    There's much more, and it's... well, all part and parcel of a larger war. Something truly big:

    .....what it most closely resembles, in fact, is a program of psychological warfare, waged not against opposing nations but the American populace itself.
    I am sure it will come as news to many that the mild-mannered law professor is a key player in the rise of one-party-state pseudofascism, and is charged with waging psychological warfare against.... the American populace itself!

    Why, up until today, I swear, the man had me completely fooled. I believed his slick doubletalk about supporting gay rights, legalized drugs, stem-cell research, and abortion rights! I even believed him when he said he was a registered Democrat. And a libertarian!

    Why, I was even dumb enough to fall for the cute picture of him wearing the "I had an abortion" T-shirt! I now see that this --


    -- was not the real Glenn Reynolds.

    It all figures, in a way....

    "Crushing of dissent" has long been one of the favorite phrases used by Glenn Reynolds to ridicule the left.... Obviously, he's doing what the other pseudo-fascists do when they accuse others of being fascists:

    When confronted with eliminationist fantasies like Limbaugh's, mainstream conservatives are quick to say that it's just intended as humor. (As though suggesting we eliminate about half the country were something to joke about.)
    It's all a diversionary tactic, and now that things are getting clear. I'm starting to -- what's the expression? CONNECT THE DOTS!

    I see the future now, and it's a very scary picture!

    glenno e benito01.jpg

    It wasn't as if we weren't warned.

    It's too late to escape the rise of eliminationist fantasies! I can almost hear them now, the horrid marching slogans of the sinister Blogfuhrer's pseudofascist one-party pseudolibertarianism....

    "Ein volk, Ayn Rand, Ein Fuhrer!"

    UPDATE: Speaking of connecting the dots, Howard Kurtz has uncovered (via Tony Pierce) a very damning quote, which shows what's really on Glenn Reynolds' mind:

    I'm not interested in being anything more than a tool for the right and an echo of their propaganda.
    This damning admission I found via Glenn Reynolds himself. Frankly, I am amazed that he would dare to publicly reveal the inner workings of his eliminationist strategy!

    MORE: One-party rule seems to be catching on among Democrats. Jeff Jarvis has endorsed Glenn Reynolds for Fuhrer President! As for Reynolds, he's promised to appoint another one-party statist, Eugene Volokh, to the Supreme Court.

    Hey, someone has to sound the alarm!

    MORE: I believe in promoting fairness, satire, and goodwill to the extent I can. (I also have a very liberal blogroll policy.) Conscience therefore dictates that I blogroll Mr. Neiwert -- just as I blogrolled Mr. Veit. While these two bloggers appear to have vastly different philosophies, to the extent that their work approaches satire, they might be analogous to being fellow travelers. Besides, I've linked both repeatedly, so I have to be symmetrically consistent.

    AND MORE: Strongman Reynolds now dangles new InstaClues about what he would do if the vast power grab he's contemplating manages to succeed: appointing Randy Barnett "as an Associate Justice" to the Supreme Court! Wow! Does that mean Barnett's a fascist too? Never woulda known.

    You can't be too careful!

    MORE: Wow! An InstaLanche -- with an admission that "THE TRUTH IS OUT!"

    While there's no escaping these dark truths that must be told, I nonetheless warmly welcome all new readers! (Ve know you haf relatifs in Visconsin!)

    Lingering question: can Glenn Reynolds really make the trains run on time?

    UPDATE: David Neiwert has replied to this post and my answer is here.

    MORE: Seriously, folks, electing Glenn Reynolds? An old idea, really. Jay Solo has more. Come to think of it, I signed onto the idea myself (before I knew the truth, of course....)

    posted by Eric at 06:06 PM | Comments (76)

    Don't pick on Edwards! He's adorable!

    Here's something Michael Moore won't include in his films: John Edwards obvious interest in his own hair. (Via InstaPundit.)

    I don't believe in ad hominem attacks, so I won't criticize Senator Edwards either for his hair or for his interest in it. Hair was, after all, a major reason why Edwards was selected in the first place. (Kerry said so.)

    The whole thing is cute.

    And there's nothing wrong with being cute.

    posted by Eric at 04:24 PM | Comments (2)

    A chillingly effective strategy?

    The film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal is having legal problems; in the Philadelphia area a college professor depicted in the film has sued for libel:

    A television group's decision to air a documentary critical of Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam antiwar activities has sparked a backlash from media watchdog groups and advertisers, and a lawsuit from a Vietnam veteran featured in the film.

    Shares in Sinclair Broadcast Group, which intends to air the anti-Kerry film, Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, on all 62 of its stations across the country, traded at an all-time low yesterday on Wall Street.

    Yesterday, Kenneth J. Campbell, a University of Delaware professor who is one of the veterans depicted in the 41-minute film, sued the producer for libel, saying the film falsely portrayed him as a fraud and a liar. The civil lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

    Last week, the Kerry campaign called the film a politically motivated attack that is unfair and inaccurate.

    In his suit, Campbell said the film combined footage of his appearance at a 1971 war protest with a voice-over. The voice-over says that many of the supposed veterans who took part in the event were later "discovered as frauds," who "never set foot on the battlefield, or left the comfort of the States, or even served in uniform."

    "They put me in it as almost a centerpiece example of a fraudulent, lying pseudo-veteran," said Campbell, an associate professor who teaches political science and international relations, including an honors course called Lessons of Vietnam. "I thought about it, and could not let it pass. I nearly lost my life in Vietnam multiple times and to have someone say I am a fake and a fraud and didn't even serve in Vietnam is utterly despicable."

    The movie is scheduled to replace regular programming during prime time in such swing states as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, during a four-day period this month. Sinclair's two Pennsylvania TV stations are in Pittsburgh: WPGH-53, a Fox affiliate, and WCWB, a WB station.

    The film "has taken on a life of its own," its producer, Carlton Sherwood of Harrisburg, said yesterday. "I was told that throughout the country there are hundreds of places where small and large groups are getting together to watch this."

    While it might have taken on a life of its own, so far (at least locally) the defamation suit has stopped the film from being shown:
    The film was to have been shown at the Baederwood Mall theater in Jenkintown tonight, but Greg Wax, the theater's general manager, said last night that it was canceled because of the Campbell lawsuit and because Abington police were concerned about "civil disturbances" if the film was shown.

    Campbell, who has retained Philadelphia lawyer James E. Beasley Jr., said he sent the Jenkintown theater and Sinclair Broadcast Group a letter notifying them that if they showed the film, they would be named in his lawsuit as additional defendants.

    I haven't seen the film, so I can't say whether I consider it to be legally defamatory. Whether Professor Campbell was libeled in the legal sense may turn on:

  • 1. Whether he's specifically called a fraud or a liar;
  • 2. Whether the film falsely states he never served in Vietnam;
  • 3. Whether the film implies the above; and
  • 4. Whether he's a public figure.
  • As to Professor Campbell's Vietnam era testimony, here are excerpts from the original Winter Soldier Investigation:

    CAMPBELL. My name is Kenneth J. Campbell. I'm 21. I'm a Philadelphia resident. I was a Corporal in the Marine Corps. I was an FO, Forward Artillery Scout Observer. I FO'd for Bravo Company, First Battalion, First Marine Regiment, First Marine Division. I was in Vietnam from February of '68 to March of '69. I went straight into the Marine Corps from high school and I am now a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. My testimony will consist of eyewitnessing and participating in the calling in of artillery on undefended villages, mutilation of bodies, killing of civilians, mistreatment of civilians, mistreatment of prisoners and indiscriminate use of artillery, harassment and interdiction fire.
    More from the same hearing:
    MODERATOR. Mr. Campbell, you were, I believe, in the same unit that Mr. Camile was. There was a period of perhaps two months separating the time that he left and the time you came. Was this same unit type policy, was this carried on?

    CAMPBELL. Some of the policy was not carried on because of an incident that happened in Quang Tri Province that Scott Camile witnessed and there was a big stink about it. There was some kind of investigation into it and I heard about it when I got to Nam and all the guys that were there before me talked about it and things were kind of cooled down and so a lot of this stuff when I first got there wasn't actually carried out. Bravo Company was to cool it for a while. The whole Battalion, actually, because we had a bad mark against us from the incident previous to the time I got there.

    MODERATOR. One more question on that. The training--What did you consider the Vietnamese? Were they equal with you?

    CAMPBELL. The Vietnamese were gooks. We didn't just call the VC or the NVA gooks. All Vietnamese were gooks and they were slant eyes. They were zips. They were Orientals and they were inferior to us. We were Americans. We were the civilized people. We didn't give a ------ about those people.

    And more:
    MODERATOR. Any of you gentlemen here on the panel, could you release any incidents of fragging that you ever heard of or saw? Mr. Campbell.

    CAMPBELL. In January of 1969, a couple of miles northeast of An Hoa, in the Arizona territory, my unit was temporarily assigned to Operation Taylor Common. We moved out, we waited until dark and moved out into a very heavily booby-trapped area. The lead platoon hit a booby trap. The word was passed back that it was the platoon commander that hit it and then the CO went up to check to see how the platoon commander was and there was another explosion. The initial word came back that the CO hit a booby trap.

    Now from the first blast, the first booby trap that was hit, the platoon commander's radio man was also hit. He went to the hospital and was back to the unit about two weeks later. He told me and several other people, two or three other people privately, that the second booby trap was not a booby trap but that one of the men from the platoon of the commander who hit the first booby trap fragged the company commander because he was very upset about the platoon commander hitting the booby trap. He was upset about the CO waiting until dark to move out. He thought it was a stupid move and figured that got his platoon commander, and the men in that platoon were pretty tight with that platoon commander. I witnessed the explosion. I witnessed the flash, but it was dark. I couldn't see the guy throw the grenade. I didn't know that he threw it until the platoon radio man explained this to me.

    Obviously, I have no way of knowing what Campbell saw or didn't see, and thus there is no way I could call the man a fraud or a liar. Nor do I know whether the film in fact calls him a fraud or a liar. I have a problem with prior restraint, though, because I think the best remedy for offensive speech is more speech. I don't believe there is a right to defame anybody, but once someone places himself in the public spotlight, the standard is not the same as it is for a private person. That's because of the need to encourage robust debate (which is not generally assisted by lawsuits over the truthfulness of assertions made in public settings).

    One of the practical problems with filing a defamation action is that truth is a defense. Therefore, once a lawsuit is filed, the discovery process opens the life of the plaintiff to scrutiny which can often be embarassing.

    I haven't read the allegations in the complaint, but here is an [edited version] of what Professor Campbell said on Chris Matthews' Hardball Politics:

    Sherwood was disputing claims by VVAW member and Winter Soldier witness Kenneth J. Campbell on the September 9 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Campbell said that testimony by him and other Winter Soldier witnesses formed the factual basis for Senator John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When Sherwood attempted to discredit the Winter Soldier investigation, Campbell defended himself and the other veterans who testified:

    SHERWOOD: And as far as what Ken said, everything that came from the Winter Soldiers hearing has been utterly discredited through volumes and volumes of books and not one...

    CAMPBELL: That's untrue.


    There was only one person in the Vietnam Vets Against the War that was uncovered as having been a sergeant when he said he was a captain. Otherwise, the rest of the folks, we all brought our DD-214s [a document issued to military members upon separation from active service] that day. I brought mine today, in case you challenged my credibility. And we were not frauds. And we did do or see or participate in what we said we did.

    Once again, I don't know whether Stolen Honor says that Professor Campbell didn't serve in Vietnam, or whether it takes issue with his testimony. The allegation may be that the film implied he didn't serve, or implied that he gave false testimony. If he in fact served and the film states he didn't, I think he has an open-and-shut case. If his testimony was attacked as false, then the makers of the film will have an opportunity to prove that he lied.

    I'm not sure what the standard is for implied libel. (Considered here in the context of public figures.)

    A primary consideration is the issue of whether or not Mr. Campbell is a public figure. I don't know whether being a published author and longtime activist makes one a public figure or not. He may or may not be; he also may be a limited public figure (here, possibly a public figure in the context of Vietnam War activism).

    Professor Campbell's diary of his trip to the International War Crimes Conference in Oslo might be helpful in this analysis. The following two day excerpt from the diary gives a feel for the trip and what it might have been like to be an international peace activist in 1971:

    Day 3: Friday, June 18th, Moscow

    Up early for breakfast. I went with Tamara to get a photo for my visa. Had a good personal talk with her. Then all of us met with the Chargé d'Affairs of North Vietnam (DRV) at his office. Very good meeting. Returned for lunch. Many of us had been requesting to go to the countryside and this was promised but never fulfilled. Instead, we met with Comrade Tarasov who is the Assistant Head of the International Department of the Soviet Peace Committee. He was very cold and formal, unlike our Soviet guides and translators, Boris and Tamara. We had dinner, then went to the Kremlin on Tarasov's insistence. We met some Russian student vaudeville performers and exchanged gifts and song. Very moving for all! In the evening we went to the ballet. Returned and had supper. Then we went for a walk in Red Square.

    After walking Tamara to the subway stop, Larry, Nathan and I decided to see if we could take off unattended. We walked about a half-mile from our hotel but got tired and stopped in the Hotel Metropol for a drink. Met a Scandinavian pilot and had a short, good talk. He invited us to Stockholm for the 28th of June to his yacht. Went into the bar, had a drink and took in the entertainment. Went back to the hotel and crashed.

    Day 4: Saturday, June 19th, Moscow/Helsinki/Stockholm/Oslo/Utoya

    Left the hotel with the DRV and Pathet Lao delegation on the same bus. Went to the airport and flew out on the same flight during which we met General Sinkapo who led the counterattack on Lam Son 719. (U.S. invasion of Laos, Operation "Dewey Canyon II").

    We arrived in Helsinki about one and a half hours later without my blue bag. Nothing of great value in it, luckily. We went on a sight-seeing tour of Helsinki and established a deeper friendship on the bus with the Laotians. There were three beautiful Lao children with them. Had dinner at a hotel in Tapiola.

    We returned to the airport and boarded a plane for Stockholm and were there just long enough to catch a plane for Oslo. Arrived in Oslo and were met by reps from Norway Antiwar Movement. We were whisked off (just the American vets and Frank) to the Island of Utoya. Utoya is about thirty miles north of Oslo, in the middle of a fjord and it is a picturesque "Democratic-Republic Socialist State." It's maybe one-half mile long and one-quarter mile wide. About fifty guys and girls were waiting for us and they had an entire pig roasting over a pit, named "Nixon II." ("Nixon I" was the year before.) Much beer, vodka, food, song and dance.

    It is of note that "the delegation was put together by Tod Ensign and Jeremy Rifkin of the Citizens Commission of Inquiry, based in New York." (Jeremy Rifkin is of course a well-known public figure, who some believe should be included in the Kerry administration.)

    Professor Campbell's work continues to be internationally known, and his writing has been featured at an Air Force Academy web site.

    I find it ironic that Campbell implicitly seems to agree with at least Stolen Honor's subtitle (that some wounds never heal):

    "Vietnam is our nation's most divisive conflict since the Civil War, which at least had [the South's formal surrender at] Appomattox to resolve it," said Kenneth J. Campbell, a Vietnam veteran and professor of international studies at University of Delaware who co-authored "Give Peace a Chance: Exploring the Vietnam Antiwar Movement."

    Campbell added: "Vietnam had no Appomattox. That's where all the venom comes from. It remains an open national wound covered with Band-Aids."

    I agree that Vietnam is an open wound which has never healed -- which is why I think robust debate needs to be encouraged.

    Quite recently, Professor Campbell has been quoted in the media about the draft:

    Kenneth J. Campbell, a University of Delaware political science professor who served as a combat Marine in Vietnam, said college students would weigh heavily in any political calculus of reinstating a draft.

    "A draft would create a firestorm. These campuses would explode," Campbell said. "That's what's kept a lot of kids quiet about Iraq. They weren't under the gun."

    The controversy over Vietnam remains a huge, ongoing public debate, and I have not seen Stolen Honor. I would like to see it, whether it's ultimately considered legally libelous or not. Has there been prior restraint? I don't know. There's been no state action, and I'm assuming private move theaters remain free to show or not show the film. Whether the lawsuit will have a chilling effect remains to be seen.

    UPDATE: According to this article, Stolen Honor contains new allegations against Senator Kerry which have never been previously reported.

    A former Vietnam War prisoner of war charges that as he was being tortured by his communist captors, John Kerry was preying on his family to denounce the United States.

    The new allegation against Kerry is made in the controversial documentary “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal” by James H. Warner, a former Marine Corps naval flight officer who won the Silver Star after spending more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison.

    Warner’s sensational charge against Kerry is just one of the fresh allegations that Kerry did more than protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War – he also worked to help the North Vietnamese by getting families of POWs to criticize the U.S. government.

    When Capt. James (Jim) Howie Warner was shot down on Oct. 13, 1967, he could hardly have known at the time that his pain and suffering wwould be enhanced by a recently discharged naval officer-turned-war protester named John Kerry.

    As Warner suffered brutal treatment in Vietnam, young Kerry was helping to organize the infamous Winter Soldier hearings held in Detroit, Mich., at the end of January and into early February of 1971.

    Warner recounts that Kerry personally recruited his grieving mother to testify at the Winter Soldier hearings – testimony that Warner was confronted and taunted with while in captivity, testimony that later appeared in John Kerry’s infamous wartime book, “The New Soldier.”

    In “Stolen Honor,” Warner says, “They showed me a transcript of testimony that my mother had given at the Winter Soldier hearing. I read her testimony; it was not particularly damning, but I wondered how did someone persuade her? Then they showed me a statement by John Kerry. I know that he did talk to her and my sisters. It is really a contemptible act to take a grieving old lady and prey upon her grief and manipulate her grief purely for the promotion of your own political agenda.”

    Pretty strong stuff. Another example of the kind of unhealed wounds which are certainly worthy of discussion, and very timely.

    Warner himself is frustrated by the efforts being made to block this film:

    Warner is just one of 17 POWs who appear in "Stolen Honor" and who accuse John Kerry of betrayal.

    Warner is frustrated that his story, and that of the other POWs, is being denied to the American people and efforts have been made to stop Sinclair Broadcasting from airing the documentary.

    For the same reasons I gave in an earlier post (and here), I believe quite strongly that it is better for the public to hear about and debate this stuff now -- before the election -- rather than later.

    UPDATE: The New York Times has more on the story:

    Whether theaters might prove more skittish remained to be seen. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its Web site late Monday that a movie house in Jenkintown, Pa., had canceled plans to show the film Tuesday night. Campbell's lawyer, James Beasley, told The Associated Press that he had threatened to sue the theater if it aired ``Stolen Honor.''

    The segment in the film involving Campbell shows him speaking with another Marine at a 1971 gathering in Detroit, during which Kerry and other servicemen shared stories about horrific acts they had committed or witnessed during the war.

    Campbell asks whether the Marine recalls an assault on a Vietnamese village; the Marine offers to provide more detail. Neither man is identified. Sherwood introduces the conversation by saying, ``Many of the horror stories seem made up on the spot,'' but does not elaborate as to why he believes that to be the case.

    Campbell also threatened legal action against the Sinclair Broadcast Group, an owner of 62 television stations that has announced that it intends to pre-empt regular programming to broadcast ``Stolen Honor.''

    How does a statement that "many" stories "seem to be made up on the spot" constitute libel? It strikes me that if such expressions of disbelief were legally actionable, then much of serious discussion would be rendered impossible.

    MORE: This New York Times account makes it quite clear that the film was canceled because of the legal threat:

    Lawyers for Mr. Campbell sent letters to Sinclair and to a theater near Philadelphia that was planning to show the film on Tuesday, warning them that the film was defamatory. The theater canceled the showing, citing "pending litigation."

    If this lawsuit revolves around a statement that Professor Campbell's testimony was not believable, I can't help wondering whether politics might be motivating it. Here's Bill Carter, also writing in the New York Times:

    Senator John Kerry could find his presidential hopes damaged this week when the 62 television stations owned or managed by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group carry a documentary about his antiwar activities 30 years ago.
    That kind of "damage" (to a campaign) is not the kind of damage which is supposed to be legally actionable.

    UPDATE (10/19/04): Evidence that the lawsuit may be part of a strategy to block the film?

    Facing lawsuits, investor pressure, regulatory challenges, and a $1 million offer to air a pro-Sen. John Kerry film, the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced yesterday that it would run only part of a documentary that calls Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities a betrayal of fellow veterans.

    The Baltimore-based broadcaster said it had directed many of its 62 stations to run a one-hour program Friday night that includes portions of Carlton Sherwood's film Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal.


    A spokesman for Sherwood, who was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper investigation in 1980 and is based in Harrisburg, said the filmmaker was considering legal action against the Baederwood 4 Theater in Abington, which canceled last night's scheduled movie premiere. The theater acted after a University of Delaware professor, Kenneth J. Campbell, filed suit in Philadelphia, contending that the film libeled him.

    Campbell said the movie showed him at a 1971 antiwar protest, while a voiceover says the participants were really not Vietnam vets, and were "discovered as frauds."

    Of the cancellation by the theater, "we had a valid contract," said Charlie Gerow, spokesman for Sherwood's Red, White and Blue Productions.

    "There is no doubt we are witnessing a systematic attempt to silence these former POWs who are American heroes by any definition," Gerow said. "It's equally clear this systemic attempt is being coordinated by the top levels of the Kerry campaign."

    Mark Nevins, a Kerry campaign spokesman for Pennsylvania, denied that. "This had nothing to do with the Kerry campaign. Carlton Sherwood ought to know that if you perpetrate a fraud on the American people, the American people will rise up against you."

    UPDATE (10/22/04): According to today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Professor Cambell's lawsuit has forced Stolen Honor off the air and off the screen:

    public-access cable station in Wayne plans to bar rebroadcast of an anti-John Kerry documentary that ran earlier this month.

    Patricia Booker, a Radnor Township resident, aired Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal on Oct. 4 on the Channel 21 program she produces, Radnor Review. The station reran the film three times.

    Board president Jack Weiner said yesterday the station would not show the film again because of a lawsuit filed by a University of Delaware professor, Kenneth J. Campbell, contending that the film libeled him.

    "At this point, it presents a risk to the station, and we're not going to participate in that risk," Weiner said. "We clearly will not run it again."

    The Baederwood 4 Theater in Abington cited the same reason when it canceled its scheduled showing of the documentary for Tuesday.

    Carlton Sherwood, a Vietnam veteran and journalist, and his Harrisburg production company, Red White & Blue Productions, produced the film. In Stolen Honor, veterans accuse Kerry of prolonging the war and worsening their plight by testifying that soldiers had committed war atrocities in Vietnam.

    Campbell said the movie libeled him because it showed him at an antiwar protest with a voice-over that says the participants were not really Vietnam vets and had been "discovered as frauds."

    Charlie Gerow, a spokesman for Sherwood's production company, called the cable company's decision a result of "the well-orchestrated effort of the Kerry campaign to keep people from seeing Stolen Honor."

    He called Campbell a Kerry "sympathizer" and implied that he may have filed the suit at the campaign's urging.

    The reasons are not as relevant as the constitutional principle involved. It looks more and more like a classic case of prior restraint.

    MORE (10/22/04): Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that even the New York Times comments on the lawsuit, recognizing (if grudgingly) that Stolen Honor has a legitimate story to tell. of the veterans, Kenneth J. Campbell, a decorated marine who is now a professor at the University of Delaware, recently sued the filmmakers, claiming the film was edited to take out clips in which Mr. Campbell made clear that only soldiers who witnessed the atrocities firsthand would be allowed to testify.

    Those kinds of distortions are intended to hurt Mr. Kerry at the polls. Instead, they mainly distract viewers from the real subject of the film: the veterans' unheeded feelings of betrayal and neglect.

    Bad film editing as grounds for libel? How did Michael Moore ever manage to remain solvent?

    UPDATE (10/24/04): Via Roger Simon, I see the the Wall Street Journal has weighed in, noting that the press is so blinded by anti-Bush partisanship that they're reduced to supporting the chilling of free speech:

    What's astonishing here is that this legal-political double team has gone on with barely a whimper of protest from the rest of the media. In fact, it is being celebrated as a defeat for all of those right-wing scoundrels who support President Bush. We understand that most of the press corps is liberal and desperately wants Mr. Kerry to win. Editors and producers may let that distort their coverage, but they usually aren't so blinded by partisanship that they can't see their own self-interest.

    Now that this trial lawyer-government precedent has been set, who's to stop it if it next turns, as eventually it will, on the New York Times, or CBS? One of the most important protections that a free press has is independent corporate ownership, but what if the Nixon Administration had unleashed its lawyer friends and government pension funds on the Times Company when it was publishing the Pentagon Papers, or the Washington Post when it was digging into Watergate? If the standard now is that stirring controversy is a fraud against shareholders because it may cost ad revenue, a lot more media owners than Sinclair are going to become political targets.

    The MSM message seems to be along the lines of "Free speech for me, but not for thee!"

    posted by Eric at 08:52 AM

    Intimidated by a perception yet?

    What is meant by the term "intimidation?"

    I thought I knew, but I keep reading article after article about people who want to intimidate voters (apparently into not voting). Things have gotten to the point that the people whose job it is to prevent voter intimidation are now afraid that they'll be accused of the "appearance of intimidation."

    The Justice Department is dispatching a record number of federal poll watchers around the country on Election Day but is taking care to avoid perceptions of voter intimidation, officials said.

    More than 1,000 federal poll watchers will be on duty Nov. 2, about twice the 516 present during voting in all of 2000, said Eric Holland, spokesman for the Justice Department's civil rights division.

    The agency, he said, "has employed a robust and effective civil rights monitor and observer program to ensure compliance with federal voting rights."

    None of the poll watchers will be federal prosecutors, a decision meant to ensure that voters do not feel intimidated by a federal law-enforcement presence. The poll watchers will be staff of the Office of Personnel Management or Justice Department employees who are not involved in criminal investigations, Holland said Friday.

    What, exactly is a "perception" of intimidation, and who might be intimidated by a perception? Would a police officer be considered an intimidating presence? A poll watcher?

    Who, precisely, would be afraid to vote because there's a cop or some bureaucrat there? A fugitive from justice? Does the entire country have to roll over and play dead just to calm the nerves of a few furtive felons?

    They're acting like this is Birmingham in 1964. It isn't.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume that someone, somewhere, is intimidated by police officers. I know lots of people don't like cops or are afraid of them. (Even I'm afraid of them, especially when I drive.) Is that fear really enough to stop anyone from voting? Somehow, I don't think it is. There are cops all over the streets, security guards in banks, and shopping centers, and airports are now looking like something out of 1984. Yet people still go to the bank, they shop, and they travel on planes. What makes voting so special?

    Moreover, in light of documented threats of election day terrorist attacks, the argument could be made that voters would prefer more, not less, of a police presence at the polls. Hell, many would feel more comfortable having the National Guard there!

    If anything, one could argue that unguarded, unwatched polls -- or the perception that this is the case -- are more intimidating than the reverse.

    posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)

    My friends must be very unscientific!

    What's up with the polls? One week Kerry is ahead by eight points. A week later, Bush is ahead by a similar margin.

    I hope my readers will bear with me in this train of thought, as I am not going to spend the next hour tracking down poll after poll to prove my point, which is that the polls suggest a highly erratic, fickle voting public -- a substantial portion of which changes its mind on a daily or weekly basis.

    I must be running with the wrong crowd. I have friends who are for Kerry, and friends who are for Bush. I don't talk to all of them them daily about politics, and I don't need to. I know who is for Bush, and who is for Kerry. Not one is undecided, and not one is likely to change his or her mind.

    Am I alone in this assessment? Where are all of these fickle, volatile people? (Via the justifiably skeptical InstaPundit.)

    I know a lot of people. How come I don't know one single fickle voter?

    How do the pollsters manage to find so many of them?

    Surely they're not using junk science!

    posted by Eric at 10:01 AM

    Republican! Whiskey! Sexy!

    Here's some vital erection election news (I'll stick to the statistical "meat" of the story):

  • Of those involved in a committed relationship, who is very satisfied with their relationship?
    Republicans — 87 percent; Democrats — 76 percent
  • Who is very satisfied with their sex life?
    Republicans — 56 percent; Democrats — 47 percent
  • The poll analysis also reveals who has worn something sexy to enhance their sex life:

  • Republicans — 72 percent; Democrats — 62 percent
  • When asked whether they had ever faked an orgasm, more Democrats (33 percent) than Republicans (26 percent) said they had.
  • Faked orgasm?

    Is that what's commonly spun as a "dead heat?"

    posted by Eric at 09:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

    Errors mar my war blogging!

    This monstrosity of a story is a perfect example of why I am not now, and never will be, a "war blogger." Today's Philadelphia Inquirer features a huge headline, "Errors mar military win in Iraq" -- underneath of which are two different stories -- one about the "mutiny" (which turns out to be a refusal to drive supply trucks), and the other about....

    Well, what is this about? 1992 or 2003?

    Errors mar military win in Iraq

    Second of three parts.

    This story was reported by Inquirer Washington Bureau reporters Joseph L. Galloway, Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott.

    WASHINGTON - In 1992, the United States launched a covert psychological warfare operation to convince regular Iraqi soldiers that they could keep their jobs if war came and they didn't fight for Saddam Hussein. The pledge was made in leaflets dropped from aircraft, in clandestine radio broadcasts, in covert contacts with Iraqi officers, and in U.S. public statements.

    But when war came, the United States broke its promises.

    As U.S. forces advanced, regular Iraqi soldiers abandoned their arms and ran away in droves. Yet in one of his first orders as the U.S. overseer of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer in 2003 disbanded the entire Iraqi army.

    Bremer's order deprived U.S. commanders of men they had planned to recall to help keep order and secure Iraq's borders. It compounded the problems created by the Bush administration's failure to plan for securing Iraq and its mistaken estimate of how many U.S. troops it would take to do that. It threw legions of angry, defeated Iraqis out of work, handed the budding anti-U.S. insurgency a recruiting windfall, and fueled suspicions that the United States had come not to liberate Iraq but to seize its oil.

    Is this about Bremer's incompetence? Or broken promises in 1992? Authors Galloway, Landay, Strobel & Walcott never quite make it clear. Perhaps they want the readers to make the tie-in themselves without having to really commit to the story.

    Must be tough to have four authors write one article. I can't imagine having to do that in this blog; while there are now three contributors, each one of us writes independently. More streamlined that way; it helps avoid the kind of editorial and stylistic quagmire which Inquirer readers are forced to slog through.

    Bremer may well have been incompetent, but he's out of there. Beyond that, I have no idea what to make of the story. (It doesn't have anything to do with the election in two weeks, does it?)

    As to the supply trucks, there seems to be a problem with armoring them, and with getting the soldiers to obey orders.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. Army Reserve soldiers who refused orders to drive a dangerous route were members of one of a few supply units whose trucks are still unarmored, their commanding general said Sunday.

    The soldiers, now under investigation, had previously focused on local missions in safer parts of southern Iraq and had never driven a convoy north along the attack-prone roads passing through Baghdad.

    "Not all of their trucks are completely armored. In their case, they haven't had the chance to get armored," said Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, commanding general of 13th Corps Support Command, which sends some 250 convoys ferrying Army fuel, food and ammunition across Iraq each day.

    What with Michael Moore orchestrating the shipment of thousands of Fahrenheit 9/11 DVDs to the troops, it's a wonder that any of them will do anything. And considering what I've read about the commanding general, one Brigadier General James E. Chambers, it's understandable why he'd be losing the PR war to Michael Moore:
    Then there's Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, the commanding general of 13th COSCOM in Balad, Iraq, where morale is lower than clam dung. Chambers’ latest exercise in non-leadership was to have a unit in his command reschedule a memorial service for a dead soldier originally set for Aug. 13. The reported reason: The superstitious general was not about to incur bad luck by flying on the 13th.

    I’ve previously blistered Chambers’ command in this column for proposing to charge soldiers three bucks a head to see movies at the newly rebuilt base theater and nine uxorious bucks for a pizza while meanwhile failing to ensure that truckers had sufficient armor on their vehicles to protect them from guerrilla attacks.

    Apparently, these probes are beginning to get to Gen. Jimmie, who recently put out the word reminding everyone serving under him of the “regulatory requirements for Information Security and proper Public Affairs information release and dissemination,” according to a source who’s asked not to be identified for fear of being burned at the stake.

    "I immediately thought, ‘I’ll bet this is because Hack nailed ol’ Jimmie again,’ ” the whistle-blower writes. “Then this morning one of Jimmie’s deputies said at a staff meeting, ‘It’s to remind people they can’t be writing to Hackworth and s***.’ I guess ‘and s***’ includes any attempts to exercise their rights under Article One of the Bill of Rights – as well as embarrassing their CG."

    Jimmie’s big into protection – not only of his career, but also of his own precious butt. To secure the latter, he had a ring of huge, concrete barriers erected around his VIP trailer complex quarters a full two and a half months before even 10 percent of his soldiers had any mortar or blast protection around their digs. The “Texas barriers” were placed with no gaps between them except for two breaks to allow the residents a walk-through – while nowhere else on this general’s base are any other soldiers afforded this airtight quality of force protection.

    Nope. Gen. Jimmie’s soldiers try to survive with only one large ring – with many gaps – around mini-zones consisting of some 40-50 trailers. So only one side of any trailer on the perimeter gets any protection – unless you’re lucky enough to live on a corner. The rest of the trailers are shrapnel magnets, and – since attacks against American forces across Iraq have increased from 25 a day a year ago to 100 a day – enemy mortar attacks are an almost daily event.

    But what do I know? There's also Chambers' official biography here, with a picture. He was a schoolteacher from Oklahoma, and now he's a supply officer who can't get his trucks armored but lives in a fortress, then complains when his men stage a "mutiny" for Dan Rather.

    Look, all I know is I want the war to be won. The job of the military is to figure out how to do that. This is turning into a PR war, and I am at a serious disadvantage, because I am not there, and I am forced to rely on incomplete, constantly changing stories from people with varying degrees of bias. And anything I write is only as reliable as the sources on which I have to rely.

    I'd rather wait till the victory.

    posted by Eric at 08:22 AM

    Keeping eyes on the prize!

    While I don't have as much time as I did yesterday, I updated the God Hates Bush post with more religious news. I'm not a Catholic, but I try to present the various religious twists and turns as they arise, and I thought it interesting to see that Kerry's "Kitchen Cabinet" includes his past political mentor, one Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuitical master of the flipflop.

    Meanwhile, there's more news from hell, where even hiphop is eternally tormented by the forces of flipflop!

    KRS-ONE, the hiphop musician accused of allying himself with al Qaida (more here, link via InstaPundit) has issued an interesting statement in his defense, claiming he was misquoted about al Qaida, and about America's need to commit suicide:

    I am a philosopher and a critical thinker, I speak truth and I urge people to think critically about themselves and their environment. Yes, my words are strong. Yes, my views are controversial. But to call me a terrorist is simply wrong!

    A young lady asked about what we can do beyond voting to change the political state of things in our country? I responded not by irresponsibly stating that “America has to commit suicide if the world is to be a better place” and that’s all. I am a poet and I speak poetically. My full statement was “America has to commit suicide if the world is to be a better place.

    If you want to go beyond voting American interests must put a gun to its head and commit suicide because as long as we are only interested in American interests we go out and invade the rest of the world. The real question is are you a citizen of the United States or are you a citizen of the world? And so for me, I would say voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption.”

    I was asked by the New Yorker magazine to discuss “different and personal beliefs musicians hold and the contribution artists like myself can make to the nation’s political dialog”. My views were indeed different and most were personal. However, when I was asked about why Hiphop has not engaged the current situation more (meaning 911) my responds was “because it does not affect us, or at least we don’t perceive that it effects us, 911 happened to them”. I went on to say that “I am speaking for the culture now; I am not speaking my personal opinion”. I continued to say; “911 effected them down the block; the rich, the powerful those that are oppressing us as a culture. Sony, RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations, Clear Channel, Viacom with BET and MTV, those are our oppressors those are the people that we’re trying to overcome in Hiphop everyday, this is a daily thing. We cheered when 911 happened in New York and say that proudly here. Because when we were down at the trade center we were getting hit over the head by cops, told that we can’t come in this building, hustled down to the train station because of the way we dressed and talked, and so on, we were racially profiled. So, when the planes hit the building we were like; mmmm justice.” And just as I began to say “now of course a lot of our friends and family were lost there as well” but I was interrupted.

    My intent is never to demean or disrespect anyone’s loss or gain; and of course I did not literally “cheer when 911 happened”. I made an objective statement about the feelings of those who were oppressed by world trade policies. I was just as saddened as everyone else on 911. However, for many of us that were racially profiled and harassed by the World’s Trade Center’s security and the police patrolling that area as well as the thousands of American protesters that spoke out against the World Trade Organization months before in Seattle, Washington there was a sense of justice, a sense of change, a wake up call watching the twin towers fall.

    These are not my views only; these views represent a popular truth that few people are really ready to hear. No one wished death on anyone or just sat and “cheered when 911 happened”. But some of us can see through the bullshit! America must change its approach to the world and its citizens. This, I believe is what all Americans should be thinking about. How do we make our country better?

    How, then, do we change our approach and make America better?

    By cheering 9/11 in context, that's how!

    And by committing suicide as a nation!

    But there's more. Suicide is love, and suicide is peace:

    For years my career has been one of promoting peace, love, unity and having fun; such has always been Hiphop’s cultural principles. So how all of a sudden now can I be aligned with Al Qaeda? What happened to honest debate and freedom of speech! I don’t speak for the African American community exclusively, I speak for HIPHOP! And let me be clear here; most of the Hiphop community is against the war in Iraq! But to align me with Al Qaeda is clearly an attempt by the Daily News to interrupt the street voice of our Hiphop community, KRS-ONE’s leadership and the increased momentum of our Hiphop political movement.

    I don’t think Al Qaeda needs my solidarity nor did I ever offer it, so what’s the point. For a major news organization to now align KRS-ONE with Al Qaeda shows the unwarranted contempt that such an organization has for me. Such is grounds for a law suit!

    I know I can't speak for the entire blogosphere (and I wish I had more time for the above gem) but I don't think I am going too far out on a limb if I venture that Father Drinan is the more articulate of these two fighters for peace. Read his recent condemnation of U.S. Imperialism:
    ....the tide of world opinion against the United States is a phenomenon seldom before witnessed with regard to America's foreign policy. This is especially true among the world's Arab and Islamic nations. Some 1.3 billion persons who are Muslims (one-fifth of the planet's 6.2 billion) rage at the ways in which the United States humiliates the leaders of a venerable nation, a society that has been an esteemed cultural center for centuries.

    It may be impossible to overstate the new and fighting antagonism that Muslim societies have to the aggressiveness of the United States. Long-held animosities at the imperialism of the United States may coalesce into multinational conspiracies that could erupt in violence even more hideous than 9/11.

    The belligerence of the United States toward nations like France and Germany and scores of less powerful countries may be a time bomb waiting to be detonated.


    ....The desire for American hegemony is more visible and more imperialist every day.....

    Isn't that a nicer way of putting it than saying we're an evil nation that needs to commit suicide?

    I think it's fair to say that KRS-ONE is in need of a good Jesuit education.

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that another blogger has already raised a good question:

    Who is the cabinet going to be?
    I don't know, but someone's gotta be in the kitchen with Drinan!

    posted by Eric at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)

    Bush voters are too dumb to get it....

    Speaking of emails, I just received the following gem, which came all the way to little old me on the Internet -- from a secret admirer in Eugene, Oregon!

    Date: 2004/10/16 Sat PM 07:05:55 EDT
    To: (I already know my name and email address)
    Subject: More False Documents

    RatherGate proved that bloggers are the best fact checkers. That is why we are writing to a few bloggers asking for help.

    Yes Bush Can has collected several documents that are clearly suspect.

    But we need your help to prove they are fake:

    Let's spring to action before these documents needlessly tarnish the reputation of our Commander and Chief. You know the drill: analyze the handwriting, search for factual errors, and post your discoveries.

    And keep us posted by sending email to

    Thanks in advance for your help.


    It's satire, and some of it's pretty funny! Like preemptive gay divorce. Or clearcutting at Yellowstone and Yosemite! Har!

    Doubtless, those dumb-as-a-post Bush voters will fall for anything. And I'm sure that especially the slower ones (you know, the gullible few who might take it seriously) will see the error of their ways once they realize they're being ridiculed.

    The proprietors of were written up recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Con artists with convictions," the writer concludes.

    Their film, "The Yes Men" (featuring Michael Moore and spoofing the evil WTO), won awards at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. That's because capitalism (like Bush) is bad and evil, which means making fun of capitalism is good -- and funny!

    So you better laugh!

    posted by Eric at 08:13 PM | Comments (2)

    The Nazi Jewish bankers Skull and Bones plot!

    I just received an email asking me some troubling questions (obviously intended to convince me to vote for Kerry):

    Have you ever heard of Prescott Bush? I've been reading a lot about him - a very interesting and nasty character.

    Do you know how the Bush family made its fortune? It wasn't from oil, as most people think.

    Prescott Bush, the grandfather of George W., made the family fortune by financing the German munitions industry. He made millions by linking up Wall Street investors with Hitler. Money from Bush paid for 1/3 of all the explosives made in Germany in World War II. Bush's partner was Herbert Walker. That's where the "W" in George W. Bush comes from.

    All of Prescott Bush's companies were confiscated by the U.S. government in 1942 under the "Trading With the Enemies Act", but Bush got to keep his millions.

    This story is very well documented and is undisputed by the Bush family. They just prefer not to talk about it. There is a lot of material about this on the internet.

    I haven't the time to research this in detail, but I have a few thoughts. Arnold Schwarzenegger's father was an out-and-out Nazi. Henry Ford and Joe Kennedy were Nazi sympathizers. Many Americans are descended from slaveholders, too!

    In any event, the barest research revealed that there's a bit more to Prescott Bush than Nazi munitions money. (While there are numerous sites on "the Internet," most of the Prescott Bush stories are trumped up by the same conspiracy sites which "link" the Bushes to bin Laden via Carlyle.)

    Prescott Bush was also partners with another noted "Nazi," Averell Harriman (a famous liberal):

    He entered business in the organization of George Herbert Walker and Averell Harriman and became an officer in their investment banking firm, W. A. Harriman and Company in 1926. When it merged with Brown Brothers in 1931, he became a partner in the new firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman. Bush called it "my good fortune" to work with close friends, including Yale classmates E. Roland Harriman, Knight Woolley, and Ellery James, as well as Robert A. Lovett and Thomas McCance.

    As a managing partner of Brown Brothers Harriman, he sat on several corporate
    boards, including Columbia Broadcasting System, Dresser Manufacturing Company, Union Banking Corporation, Prudential Insurance, Pan American Airlines, Simmons Company, Massachusetts Investors Second Fund, Rockbestos Products Corporation, Vanadium Corporation of America, United States Guarantee Company, and Commercial Pacific Cable Company. He also served as chairman of the board of Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. The Simmons Company would later be a major financial contributor to the campaigns of both Bush presidencies.

    From 1944 to 1956, Bush was a member of the Yale Corporation, the principal governing body of Yale University. From 1947 to 1950 he served as Connecticut Republican finance chairman, and was the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1950, losing to Senator William Benton by only 1,000 votes. The following year, Bush was Connecticut chairman of the United Negro College
    Fund, and was one of the UNCF's earliest supporters.

    I'm sure there was all kinds of money commingled and laundered (certainly by today's standards) by the Bush-Harriman firm and numerous other firms and banks in which they held interests. Arms companies like Remington sold arms! Arms companies still sell arms.

    The Bush-Harriman firm was also accused of funding the Communists! (More on Harriman here.)

    I'd need to read a serious biography before deciding whether Nazi money accounts for the Bush millions or that "all his companies" were confiscated.

    Skimming this anti-Bush biography, I began to see clever statistical exaggerations -- typical "tie-ins" which don't amount to as much as what is claimed. (The author also ties Bush and Harriman to Dulles, as well as Jewish financiers. Please.)

    I am not impressed, and even if I were, I don't hold grandchildren accountable
    for their grandparents' actions. Otherwise I'd support the "reparations" movement.

    The lesson here is that if you can't prove someone is a Nazi, you should try to prove that his ancestors had financial ties to the Nazis.

    And lest anyone think John Forbes Kerry is innocent, he's descended from a famous drug dealer, and he's related to Bush!

    John Kerry's maternal grandfather, James Grant Forbes, was born in Shanghai, China, where the Forbes family of China and Boston accumulated a fortune in the opium and China trade. Forbes married Margaret Tyndal Winthrop, who came from a family with deep roots in New England history. Through her, John Kerry is related to four Presidents, including, ironically, George W. Bush (9th cousin, twice removed).
    (Here's more on the evil Forbes drug money. Why, they even started the Opium War!)

    I'm shocked to see how little it matters which way we vote. No matter who wins, we will be ruled by evil capitalist family fortunes!

    MORE: Damn! After spending all that time I now see that Straight Dope already debunked this piece of hype.

    posted by Eric at 06:58 PM | Comments (2)

    God hates Bush!

    Dennis told me about a newly defaced sign which I ran out and photographed yesterday. The owner's fault, really; he should have known better than to think he could put up a Bush/Cheney sign on his modest house in a modest neighborhood.


    But his earthly punishment is only a small glimpse of what awaits in the afterlife!


    To borrow from Ted Rall, eventually they'll be crispy brown!

    Anarchists for Bush, Repent Now!

    UPDATE: After a great deal of research, I believe I have found the origin of Kerry's religious threat:

    John Kerry's initial venture into elective office began really in 1970 when he looked at that Democratic nomination for a House seat but the then dean of the Boston College law school, Father Robert Drinan, was clearly the favorite. But Norm, my explanation for why Drinan won that so handily is that he had the best bumper sticker. I don't know how many of you remember the bumper sticker but it said, "Vote for Drinan or go to hell."
    Obviously, Kerry learned!

    MORE: Kerry may have had early lessons in the fine art of political doublespeak from his Jesuit mentor:

    Drinan's activism started well before the Carter presidency and had tremendous impact on other Democratic politicians. His papers at Boston College reveal how Drinan would tell pro-life constituents that he was morally opposed to abortion while he told people on the other side that he was using his influence to block pro-life initiatives—as indeed he was. In June, 1974, Drinan wrote to an abortion foe saying he hoped "everything that is feasible can be done to protect the sanctity and inviolability of unborn life." But in July he assured an abortion supporter that "I have voted the correct way on all of the foolish proposals" made by two pro-life House members.
    (Political junkies will doubtless enjoy noting that after Kerry lost out to Drinan in his early Congressional bid, he became his campaign manager, and later enrolled at Boston College School of Law (of which Drinan had been Dean). Interestingly, Kerry's campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill worked on Drinan's congressional staff. More here.)

    Hellish symmetry in there somewhere.....

    THE LAST WORD: Father Drinan (who's not only still alive, but was recently awarded the ABA's highest medal) counsels Kerry's campaign, and has even been called a member of Kerry's "Kitchen Cabinet." While Drinan says Kerry is "a very good Catholic," he also has advised Kerry to "shut up" about "the Communion thing."

    Well, at least he didn't tell him to shut up about Hell!

    posted by Eric at 03:43 PM | Comments (2)

    Anarchists for Bush


    Remember: a vote for Kerry is a vote for expansive federal government.

    I'll never understand those who wave the anarchist banner for socialism.

    UPDATE: The elusive M. over at the Dave links to, and a section of their FAQ is applicable here:

    Hey, you can't be republican punks - punks are anti-establishment, and republicans are hate mongers!

    This (or some form of it) is easily our biggest question - and God, we're sick of it. Notice it's not even a question, just an iron clad statement made by some snot-nosed troll. The key that so many of these folks miss is that anti-establishment views can vary widely, depending on who we believe is the establishment. Most lefties seem to fear big business above all else - whereas we fear big government. Big business can be a problem, but without the additional weight of Big Government behind it big business can be fought through free-market competition. However, Big Government without Big Business only grows more scary as it dictates our doctors, our incomes, even our freedoms.

    Big Business might limit our choices, but Big Government can remove choice from the equation entirely. Or put another way Big Tobacco can make cigarettes, but it can't make you buy them. Big Government can.

    As for republicans being hate mongers - we don't think it's at all hateful to give people the freedom (and the responsibility) to walk their own paths - for better or for worse. And that should be the purpose of a conservative republican government - to keep government off our backs as much as possible. To allow us to wear suits or cutoffs, listen to opera or rap, own a gun or a walkman, be an executive or a dancer - it's all up to us to make our own choices. And it's up to us to climb that ladder ourselves, not of the backs of others but based on our own merits.

    posted by Dennis at 01:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (2)

    The great right hope?

    WARNING: These are some bitter and ugly thoughts which I probably shouldn't publish.

    It's not often that I've felt this disgusted. Two weeks left until the election, and a major question is glaringly unanswered. It seems that no one cares. At least, the people with skills and connections don't care enough to really investigate this thing and find out whether it's true.

    Might they be afraid that it will turn out Kerry really was honorably discharged, and only once?

    Perhaps all smoke and no fire is what they want. Are they going to wait until Kerry is president, and then start a bunch of INDICT KERRY web sites?

    I'm sorry, but I think such attitudes are helping to put the guy in the White House. I wish to God they'd just put up or shut up with the proof of their claims and accusations -- at least this one time! Because if Kerry wins, I'll be having to put up with their vitriol for at least four years.

    I am so sick of this right wing Kerry schizophrenia that I am beginning to think I should publish this post, and not allow it to languish like so many of my bitter unpublished posts.....

    Because seriously, if you're running a hate machine, what's the bottom line? You need somebody to hate. They might not admit it, but some of these folks want Kerry to win.

    If only the Hate Bush crowd felt the same way! But they don't, because the dynamics are quite different. The left are completely out of political power, and the hard left know that getting someone in the White House means everything else must be subordinated to that end. The hard right, on the other hand, have felt emasculated by "compassionate conservatism" for years now, and they've never really gotten power. With Bush out, they'd be free to vent their spleen, and do what they do best: HATE somebody.

    Kerry is their dream come true. They just can't admit that they want and need him. Why, that would be almost as embarrassing as it would be for the shriller antigay fundamentalists and ardent gay activists to admit their secret mutual needs. Or for the former to admit that they hate the peaceful Jesus, and secretly admire the Bigot God of 9/11.

    I sincerely hope that Kerry does not win.

    I'm just not sure I can say that for all his "opponents."

    To end this sour post on an even more sour note, I'd like to voice a suspicion: I think that some of the better-connected Kerry haters already know exactly what dirt is out there, and they're deliberately holding back on it. While this is normal enough from a strategic viewpoint, my fear is that they might withhold crucial information deliberately until after the election. For example, I think that if a dishonorable discharge exists in the hands of some of these Hate Kerry people, they might keep it secret in order to maximize their leverage later. If Kerry wins, there's sure to be a realignment on the right, and the people who've been snubbed by Republican centrism will be ready for battle against those who (so they'll claim) "did nothing." Such hypocrisy will be hard to endure.....

    Obviously, I can't prove my suspicions and I can't do much about any of this. But I will say this: if Kerry wins, and the Hate Kerry machine starts producing the documents they aren't producing now, I'll say, "I told you so."

    A small satisfaction that would be.

    I'd rather be wrong about my suspicions.

    And I could be wrong. If this thread is true, they're deliberately holding back until the last minute.

    But won't people be questioning the timing?

    UPDATE: Here's Glenn Reynolds on whether the election of John Kerry would increase his blog traffic:

    CONFLICT OF INTEREST? James Miller wonders if InstaPundit will be better off if Kerry wins. Henry Copeland thinks my traffic would increase dramatically, and he's pretty much always right about these things. Nonetheless, I think a Kerry victory would likely be much worse for the country.
    An ugly fact is that I have gotten a lot of Internet traffic from my various posts about the beheadings of Americans, and it's the kind of traffic I don't want. Still, I would have written those posts even if my traffic had gone down, because I feel very strongly about that issue. While there will probably be more beheadings of Americans, regardless of who is elected president, what matters is what is best for the country -- certainly not whether beheadings increase web traffic! Similarly, whether a Kerry presidency would increase the traffic here (or at any other blog) is an immoral consideration in deciding whether to support him. By recognizing this fact, Glenn Reynolds shows that he is not in a conflict of interest.

    I doubt very much that the Kerry haters I mentioned above consciously want Kerry to win. Unconscious motivation, though, is another matter.

    If important information is being withheld from voters, I think my question is a fair one.

    MORE: Exactly why did Pat Robertson become critical of the war effort (and supply ammunition to the left) at the last minute? (OK I'll shut up!)

    posted by Eric at 10:52 AM | Comments (2)

    Global denial?

    Holocaust denial? In Germany? Say it's not true! According to the following report linked by David Kaspar, not only is it true, but Chancellor Schroeder is rolling out the red carpet for Holocaust deniers:

    Would the German Chancellor Schroeder show himself in public with a Holocaust-Denier like David Irving? Would he seek a dialogue with him?

    Last Tuesday has proven that he has at least not that great fear of contact with these kind of people.

    After Chancellor Schoeder held a speech at the opening event of this year Book Fair in Frankfurt, the notorious Mohammad Salmawy delivered a greeting message of Nobelprice Winner Nagib Machfus, who was not able to visit the Book Fair. This year’s guest of honour at the book fair is the Arab League. In advance a variety of Right’s organization expressed their outrage about the fact, that the Fair was planned together with the Arab League, representing Governments in the Arab World, who are all accused of a wide range abuse of Human Rights, promotion of anti-Semitic publications and even Terrorist activities.

    Since years it is well known, that Mohammed Salmawy, editor of the French magazine Al Ahram Hebdo, publicly denies the Holocaust and praises Suicide Bombers in Israel. Al Ahram Hebdo is property of the Egyptian government.

    He wrote in that magazine: “There are no findings to indicate the existence of mass graves, because the size of the ovens makes it impossible for many Jews to have been killed there. According to the lists presented by the Soviets to the Germans, no more than 70,000 Jews were registered as having been at Auschwitz." (emphasis added)...

    In an interview with the BBC Salmawy also said, “that the Israeli Mossad was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, despite the evidence claiming otherwise.” ...

    That's just great. Meanwhile, the European Union is in bed with the PLO, and is busily turning Israel into a pariah state.

    Is there an emerging new global anti-Semitism?

    How will we ever pass the "global test?"

    posted by Eric at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

    Let them drink Cobra venom!

    Teresa Heinz Kerry has offered the country a home-remedy for arthritis: gin-soaked raisins.

    Which made me realize that I needed to get serious, because yesterday was online testing day, and instead of supplying my readers with online tests, I frittered away my time researching irrelevancies like the possibility that John Kerry's discharge might have been other than honorable. Imagine people caring about that! Gin and raisins are of more interest.

    Anyway, I've got Mama T beat, because yesterday I struck paydirt when I stumbled onto a huge cache of online tests at Persnickety's fine blog, Ordinary Galoot.

    The first test -- "What kind of person are you? -- yielded the same result as Persnickety. I am a "Mystical":

    You're a Mystical. You don't fit in in any way and
    most people just find you weird, but you are in
    a group. You are respected by everyone, even
    though you're just really different.

    What kind of group person are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    I agree with Persnickety that "weird" is a better way to describe it.


    But it's not enough to know what kind of person I am. To really know me, you have to understand my "inner animal." I'm an owl:


    What is Your Inner Animal?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    I can't argue with that. I am the only person I know who gets owls to talk. I do a decent Screech Owl call (descending, ascending, or steady), and if there are any around, they'll answer back! Last night I chatted with two of them, and I made my best courtship and breeding calls. Let me tell you, they were very interested!


    Then there's my spirit animal. Mine is the wolf:

    A Wolf!
    "For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and
    the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
    Rudyard Kipling

    What Is Your Spirit Animal?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Again, not suprising. I have tested out to be a wolf twice before, and like the wolf I can work in packs or alone.


    Lasssst but not leassst, I found my inner dangerous animal.

    I'm a cobra:

    Poison, Poison, Poison, is that all you care about?
    Well i would too if it got me dinner and kept
    me from being eaten!

    What Dangerous Animal are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Not only can I identify with the cobra, I've caught and handled a few. Jeff Corwin I am not, but one of the more challenging experiences in my life was when I captured a large African Spitting Cobra, because it isn't enough to grapple with the snake; you have to shield your eyes at the same time because that's where they try to spit their venom. (It's awkward, to say the least. But I've heard the venom is a better cure for arthritis than raisins 'n gin -- especially for those who don't have COBRA coverage!)

    posted by Eric at 07:53 AM | Comments (5)

    Kerry's latest approved ad

    I just saw Kerry's latest ad (complete with obligatory "I'm John Kerry and I approved this ad" message).

    In it a collage of newspaper clippings appears on screen with a voice-over straight out of an ad for the latest Hollywood thriller (you know the type: 'In a world where darkness reigns, one man stands alone ... they took away his family, but they couldn't break his spirit.').

    The sinister narrator openly blames Bush and Cheney for Americans being beheaded in Iraq!

    I think I'll turn the TV off and read some Latin.

    posted by Dennis at 08:03 PM | Comments (1)

    Call me naive ...

    ... but how could Dan Rather open his broadcast tonight with a headline of 'MUTINY' plastered across an American flag, offering as his lead story an unsubstantiated report that American troops may have refused orders deemed too dangerous?

    Rather emphasized that nothing had been proven, and that so far this was merely a rumor.

    So then how does it become the lead story on CBS?

    Oh! Right ... it's CBS!

    The essential point to note here is that the lead in was an excuse to continue the lie that U.S. troops have been complaining about mounting casualties and lack of necessary equipment. These are Kerry campaign allegations.

    I belive the actual opening line began something like, 'Mutiny is supposed to be unthinkable in a time of war, but ...', [emphasis Rather's] the implication being that these are not normal times. The President must be responsible for causing mutiny even if it hasn't been proven to exist.

    That's what really concerns me -- not whether it's true, but the way it's presented and why it's presented that way.

    MORE: Here's an AP write-up on the story. And even more from Drudge.

    It strikes me that this story is less about mutiny and conditions for troops in Iraq than about an isolated situation with his unit. There are a number of odd things in the Drudge piece, and this is a relatively small unit.

    "I got a call from an officer in another unit early (Thursday) morning who told me that my husband and his platoon had been arrested on a bogus charge because they refused to go on a suicide mission," said Jackie Butler of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Michael Butler, a 24-year reservist. "When my husband refuses to follow an order, it has to be something major."

    I've got news for her: refusing orders is not a bogus charge, and every mission in the military is potentially a suicide mission. Depending on the circumstances refusal could have been much more costly to the lives of fellow soldiers relying on the fuel and water they deliver. In such a case selfishness fails to trump the safety of your fellow troops.

    Imagine a house is burning and city firefighters refuse to take the call because this one sounds too dangerous, and the engines need an oil change. It wouldn't happen. You've got a job to do. It's dangerous. Suck it up.

    posted by Dennis at 06:36 PM

    Some things shouldn't be kept in the closet!

    It's late on a Friday and I really don't want to do this. But a nagging question just won't go away, and I don't think it should be allowed to go away.

    There has been a great deal of speculation in the blogosphere about John Kerry's oddly dated discharge. There's also been some reporting in the Main Stream Media, like this report in the New York Sun:

    An official Navy document on Senator Kerry's campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry's "Honorable Discharge from the Reserves" opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.

    The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration's secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry's discharge as being subsequent to the review of "a board of officers." This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.

    According to the secretary of the Navy's document, the "authority of reference" this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry's record was "Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. "This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry's involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn't have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry's status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.

    A Kerry campaign spokesman, David Wade, was asked whether Mr. Kerry had ever been a victim of an attempt to deny him an honorable discharge. There has been no response to that inquiry.

    There ought to be a simple explanation as to why Kerry was discharged in 1978 when he should have been discharged years earlier, in 1972. Why hasn't there been?

    Does the blogosphere have to do everything?

    BeldarBlog has done a great deal of research, and so have Tom Maguire, PoliPundit, QandO, and Ed Morrisey.

    I've left comments to some of these entries because I think the speculation might be easily cleared up by simply looking at Kerry's Massachusetts Bar records. Why not simply ask the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and/or the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers for Kerry's records? These public records are supposed to be available to anyone who wants to see them.

    Kerry became a Massachusetts attorney in 1976, and I know from experience that applications to practice law or take the bar exam typically ask for detailed information (and documentation) about nearly every aspect of your life. For example, when I applied to the California Bar, I had to disclose and fully explain all the details of a misdemeanor conviction from 1975 -- despite the fact that this had long been "expunged" from my record. What matters to the state bar is not so much whether there's dirt in your past (many people have led less than perfect lives), but whether you're trying to hide it. It's the old principle that the coverup is almost always worse than what's being covered up.

    So, had Kerry's discharge been less than honorable, this would not necessarily have stopped him from becoming an attorney. But he would have had to disclose it. Hence, I would think that reviewing Kerry's bar records in Massachusetts might shed a good deal of light on this controversy, which may be a tempest in a teapot.

    Here is the 1978 discharge as it is posted at the Kerry website. Without getting into whether it makes sense that he served that long, the fact is that in simple logic, either he was discharged before 1978 or he was not. This means that what Kerry told the bar in 1976 may be highly relevant.

    I live too far from Boston to check the records myself, but I did telephone the Board of Bar Examiners and I was told that while the records are not available online, all applications are kept on file here:

    Clerk's Office
    Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
    One Beacon Street, 4th Floor
    Boston, MA 02152
    Might it at least be worth a look?

    What bothers me about this is that if this stuff is so easy to clear up, why hasn't it been? It's getting a bit late in the election season for this sort of nonsense. Questions about matters so basic as a presidential candidate's military discharge should not be swept under the rug -- or ignored and dismissed without explanation.

    (Sorry but "no response to that inquiry" is just not acceptable!)

    Once again I find myself asking whether Kerry has ever been properly vetted.

    MORE: Via Mudville Gazette, I found this document (which claims to be a "compilation"), which is puzzling. It shows that Kerry was apparently placed on Standby Reserve - Inactive status on July 1, 1972, and was discharged on February 16, 1978. (Why does the "8" in "1978" look like a "3" whereas all the other 8s are normal? Why does it say "discharged for U.S. Naval Reserve?) What the hell happened between 1972 and 1978? The Standby Reserve Inactive category is temporary -- up to three years:

    Officers transferred to Standby Reserve-Inactive (USNR-S2) status may remain in that status for up to 3 years before they are screened for discharge.
    Three years is not six years. Doubtless there's a reason for the three year cutoff, and I suspect it's to save money:
    Personnel in Standby Reserve-Inactive (USNR-S2) status are not considered for promotion and are ineligible to participate in the Naval Reserve program. However, the years spent in USNR-S2 status still count toward total years of commissioned service.
    It doesn't make sense to have reserve officers "serving" for long periods of time when they do nothing at all except rack up "years of commissioned service." Three years seems awfully long for such a "position" -- especially for a man who signed a contract to serve a total of six years in 1966. But six years in Standby Reserve - Inactive? Is that likely? Is it possible?

    And according to this document, Kerry was transfered to Reserve - Inactive in 1970. Which means he was inactive but still in the Reserves for a full eight years. Why? if there's a simple explanation, I'm all ears.

    MORE: Hugh Hewitt is skeptical, and opines:

    those not persuaded by Christmas-Eve-not-in-Cambodia aren't going to budge because of a complicated conjecture.
    (Via Power Line, who's also skeptical.)

    What irritates the hell out of me is that people knowledgeable about the facts are remaining silent, forcing the blogosphere to speculate unnecessarily. While I wish this could be cleared up, the whole thing illustrates the irreparably broken nature of the system entrusted to keep people "informed."

    posted by Eric at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

    Medieval convolutions in the free world....

    Here's a quote I thoroughly enjoyed.

    I won't live in a country where people aren't allowed to call me a fag.
    So says Brian Tiemann in a very well-reasoned analysis of burgeoning "hate speech" laws.

    I'd almost rather be called a fag than be forced to drive in and around Newark, New Jersey -- and the whole area surrounding New York City! I had to do that earlier in the week (a fate even the most famous of bloggers are unable to escape), and during the drive, Justin remarked how much the roads reminded him of another post (also by Californian Brian Tiemann):

    Back to the subject of driving: the road system, particularly in the environs leading into the city, is so tangled from so many years of evolution that it's a wonder any of it has any consistency at all. There's a kind of disorienting nature to the circulating exit ramps that wind around the tool plazas, and to all the expressways with their "jug-handle" turn lanes (which turn out to work pretty sensibly, as a matter of fact) and their left-hand exits that make it impossible to simply sit in a lane and turn your brain off the way I'm used to in California. I now realize how spoiled we are out West: signage is austere, consistent, predictable; exit lanes are leisurely, always on the right, always giving you plenty of warning. Here, you've always got to be on your toes, lest the fast-lane on the left suddenly turn into an exit that leaps off a skyway bridge into Weehawken or Rahway or some other such quaintly named town, with nary a "San" or "Santa" or "Los" to be seen. I took Highway 1 back from the city tonight instead of the Turnpike, to avoid the tolls as well as to get a better view of what New Jersey looked like at street level. It's far from the industrial wasteland I'd been led to believe it was; it's quaint and charming, and you'll never fall asleep while careening down those narrow lanes trying to keep your place in line and avoid being peeled off into some exit to a town with a Chaucer-esque name that you had no intention of visiting.

    Tomorrow I hit the Upper East Side for lunch at a recommended restaurant, then over to JFK to see what all the fuss over JetBlue is about. And then it's back to the wide open spaces and modestly two-story-at-most business districts of San Jose, which is going to look one hell of a lot different to me now.

    I don't know who or what laid out the roads here on the East Coast, but they're convoluted, illogical, medieval, and incapable of reform.

    And so are the roads!

    posted by Eric at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

    The Truth

    If only there were more of this in the MSM:

    Some Iraqis elsewhere in the country say an offensive is the best thing that could happen to Falluja, a town which has become synonymous with Iraq's insurgency over the past 18 months.

    "Allawi must attack Falluja in whatever way necessary because they are the main reason for instability in Iraq," said Iman Jadoa, 40, a clerk from the southern Shi'ite city of Basra.

    "They must be made to pay," she said.

    Others questioned why no suicide car bombs ever hit Falluja, and said the city needed to be taught a lesson if the Iraq was to be peaceful for the polls.

    "I consider any invasion of Falluja a great step -- that's where the terrorists are," said Samkoo Mohammed-Ali, a university student in the peaceful Kurdish city of Suleimaniya.

    "Why are there no bombings in Falluja? It's because a mosquito doesn't sting itself."

    posted by Dennis at 11:32 AM

    License to kill?

    Jonah Goldberg, noting a common double standard, observed something too often forgotten -- that the MSM's portrayal of a war as "good" or "bad" depends on who's running it:

    I'm not saying there are no good arguments against the war. I am saying that many of you don't care about the war. If Bill Clinton or Al Gore had conducted this war, you would be weeping joyously about Iraqi children going to school and women registering to vote. If this war had been successful rather than hard, John Kerry would be boasting today about how he supported it — much as he did every time it looked like the polls were moving in that direction. You may have forgotten Kerry's anti-Dean gloating when Saddam was captured, but many of us haven't. He would be saying the lack of WMDs are irrelevant and that Bush's lies were mistakes. And that's the point. I don't care if you hate George W. Bush; it's not like I love the guy. And I don't care if you opposed the war from day one. What disgusts me are those people who say toppling Saddam and fighting the terror war on their turf rather than ours is a mistake, not because these are bad ideas, but merely because your vanity cannot tolerate the notion that George W. Bush is right or that George W. Bush's rightness might cost John Kerry the election.
    I want to discuss something that hasn't gotten much play: whether a John Kerry presidency might (because of political realities) result in a war conducted without the type of restraint characterizing the war so far.

    Under this alternate reality scenario, two things might happen:

  • 1. Kerry would be forced to overcompensate for his perception as a peacenik -- and the best way to do this would be a full reactivation of his well-known dark side -- that evil "Ghenghis Khan" past which he claims to have renounced. Nicely symmetrical -- even plausible!
  • 2. Because of the honeymoon generally accorded new presidents (as well as the fact that the MSM are already enormously biased in his favor), Kerry would in fact have a license to kill, to bomb, to lay waste, even (dare I say it?) to go Roman, against enemies like Zarqawi, al Sadr, bin Laden, etc.
  • Lest anyone be put at ease by Kerry the NeoHawk, I also see a much more ominous dark side which could created by the same hypothetical factual scenario. As I have argued before, because another major terrorist attack is likely in the next five years, these same factors (overcompensation plus license from the MSM) would not bode well for civil liberties.

    Hell, I think it's worth repeating what I said in April:

    ....I am less concerned with campaign promises than the practical dynamics of politics. A classic illustration of such dynamics was Nixon's rapprochement with China. Such a thing would have been impossible for a Democrat, because of the "soft-on-Communism" charge. But for Nixon, no problem. Ditto, Clinton's welfare reform, and other instances of his counterintuitive "triangulation."

    I think if Kerry were president during another major terrorist attack, similar dynamics, by making him fear a "soft-on-terrorism" charge, might well cause him to jettison the civil liberties sensitivities he likes to voice. (Contrast his present qualms with the Patriot Act with the fact that he had no problem voting for it in 2001 -- when he was far from being president.)

    With Kerry as president, Republicans would be unlikely to serve as voices of restraint or moderation on the terrorist issue that the Democrats would be expected to be if Bush continues as president. (Most likely, Republicans would be thinking ahead to 2008 and watching Kerry for any sign of weakness or softness, because that's how politics works.)

    Bush, however, in addition to the ACLU wing of the Democratic Pary, would have to contend with disgruntled Republican libertarians as well as paranoid right-wing anti-globalists in his own party.

    Would freedom's chances for bare survival would be better under Bush? My Machiavellian side suspects they would, counterintuitive as this sounds. I may be wrong, but the election's a log way off. Hopefully, so is another September 11.

    And I haven't even touched on Second Amendment freedoms. (It wouldn't take much imagination, though....)

    The October 2004 Reason magazine confirms and heightens my suspicion, noting that in the 1990s Kerry and the dread John Ashcroft were on opposite sides of the civil liberties debate. Ashcroft supported electronic freedom, while Kerry opposed it, instead supporting the Orwellian Clipper Chip. Kerry's words:
    Responding directly to a column in Wired on encryption that said "trusting the government with your privacy is like having a Peeping Tom install your window blinds," Kerry invoked the Americans killed in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. "[O]ne would be hard-pressed," he wrote, "to find a single grieving relative of those killed in the bombings of the World Trade Center in New York or the federal building in Oklahoma City who would not have gladly sacrificed a measure of personal privacy if it could have saved a loved one."

    Change a few words, and the passage could easily fit into Attorney General Ashcroft’s infamous speech to the Senate Judiciary Committee in late 2001 -- the one where he declared, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberties, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists -- for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve."

    Here here! Who better than a liberal to get the job done right and put this libertarian nonsense behind us for once and for all?

    I am beginning to understand why Hillary Clinton was described in 2021 as "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States."

    I hate alternate reality!

    UPDATE: Please read my update to this post.

    posted by Eric at 10:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (2)

    Carnival #108

    I have to run out for the evening, but before I leave I must ask -- nay, demand! -- that any readers who have come here looking for a fresh post please go and read the 108th Carnival of the Vanities. Nick at Conservative Dialysis plays host, and does a great job or organizing a very large collection of excellent posts. Hosting the Carnival has gotten to be quite a challenge, and I don't know how I could ever do it without going crazy (or staying up all night, or both).

    Excellent work, Nick!

    posted by Eric at 06:32 PM | Comments (2)

    Turning little lambs into happy meals!

    Justin supplied me with a link to a marvelous Letter to the Editor which I liked so much that I thought I would share it here.

    In an opinion titled Say no to war toys, one Mary Rudge attacks the climate of guns 'n' burgers, and maintains that Happy Meals aren't happy at all!

    McDonald’s needs to know that there are people in the community who do not think it is appropriate to associate happiness with weapons, killing, destruction, warriors, fighters, world domination and other violence such as the toys currently given to boys as a Happy Meal and as the Happy Meal boxes depict .

    Girls get Hello Kitty in the Happy Meals, boys get a war toy —- since when is selling something about killing happiness at mealtimes? I asked one of the employees at McDonald’s how long these killer theme toys are going to be given out and was told that the toys change about every six weeks and that these will be given to children until the middle of October when the theme toys will change and new boxes and toys will be furnished. Well, I am not happy with violence as theme for a Happy Meal for children.

    I am not happy with these toys and Happy Meal boxes, nor were my friends. McDonald’s makes the decision to bring such items into the community. Their leadership needs rethinking — all who are working there serving up this message to kids need some peace education. This is too violent a world!

    McDonald’s should understand this is terribly offensive to many of us who suffer pain from war to use war toys and symbols of violence for Happy Meals. Why consider G.I. Joe’s exploits a symbol of happy meals for kids today, with so many of our young service men and others dangerously in harm’s way of dying daily and reports of death, destruction and war horrors in the media daily? Who can eat with this reminder before their eyes?

    Children should be educated to know that peace means being creative in a way that brings health, fun for all, getting along together, having a wonderful environment that they can appreciate, and they should receive toys that are constructive, not induce children to focus on violence, horror and destruction of the world.

    –– Mary Rudge

    Justin wonders whether the author has ever seen the looks of avid glee on little boys' faces when they see a gun.

    I suspect she has, and that's why she's so irritated. McDonald's is simply giving young customers what they want, and is hardly to blame for the fact that testosterone makes little boys want to play with guns. While I am sure that many agree with her, it strikes me as unreasonable to force McDonald's to engage in social engineering against the wishes of their youngest customers.

    From time immemorial, boys have played war games with war toys. People who live in a world as they imagine it should be are doomed to disappointment when events like 9/11 take place. Shrill demands that others live according to the standards of an imaginary world of "peace" end up creating wars, for they forget two important lessons of history:

  • 1. Those who seek peace should prepare for war. (Si vis pacem para bellum.)
  • 2. Wars are caused by undefended wealth.
  • They might as well demand the end of gravity.

    posted by Eric at 05:48 PM | Comments (5)

    Not surprised, but still disturbed

    Drudge exposes an effort by Democrats to manufacture a climate of fear and distrust at the polls by targeting minority voters and using 'minority leadership' to manipulate voters:


    It strikes me that this is voter intimidation. It clearly shows intent to agitate fear and distrust among minority voters based not on what is actually happening but rather on what we (i.e. the DNC) know is in the heart of the enemy.

    It's doubly nefarious because while on the surface it purports to support minorities (following the nonsensical assumption that minorities by virtue of being minorities vote Democrat), it is fundamentally about influencing the opinions and emotions of minority voters by phantom threats rather than policy and open communication.

    That's nothing new for the DNC, which has long taken minorities for granted.

    This, however, is utterly reprehensible.

    I can't get the sick feeling out of my gut.

    posted by Dennis at 03:50 PM | Comments (3)

    Pillows of strength....

    Speaking of the choice issue, here's something that made me feel that I had none. Something about the choice of weapons.....


    Dutiful automaton that I am, I just fed it up for my readers, because I'm so fed up myself.

    It seems that no matter what I do, the feathers will continue to fly!

    posted by Eric at 12:08 PM

    A choice, not an echo?

    I want to return briefly as I can to Bob Schieffer's unanswerable question, "Is homosexuality a choice?" The question is loaded with ambiguity, because for starters there is no definition of homosexuality. Are we talking about mere homosexual desires, homosexual sex acts, or homosexual lifestyles? The answer would be very different in each case. To answer the question honestly, you'd have to ask every human being -- and every animal, really -- whether what they do or want to do is a choice. What is choice? In the broad sense, isn't being alive a choice to go on living? Depending on one's philosophy, anything having to do with life including breathing could be seen as a choice.

    Isn't there something morally judgmental inherent in the use of the words "no choice" to describe homosexuality? Why would Bob Schieffer use that phrase? While I am vehemently opposed to judging people as human beings based on the content of their orgasms as opposed to the content of their character, I've wondered before whether there might be a greater moral stigma inherent in labeling homosexuals as automatons incapable of free will. Saying there is no choice implies that there is something wrong -- something to be forgiven or excused by that lack of choice, as if homosexuality is always an irresistible compulsion which "afflicts" people. Nonsense. It is a variant of human sexuality which, if there is to be freedom, may be freely chosen by anyone. And that is true even for those individuals who were born that way, or feel that they were born that way.

    I happen to think some homosexuals were born that way, while others enjoy homosexuality for any number of reasons. For some, it's curiosity. For others it's enjoyed in the same way a man might enjoy a fetish. (I certainly don't think fetishes are inborn.) For others, it's money, a place to stay, or career advancement. And for others, it's a cheap substitute for the sex they'd rather have (maybe outside the joint). For others, it's love!

    Human dignity is at the heart of this argument, and Kerry's answer makes me suspect that he sees homosexuals as fodder to be exploited for partisan political gain.

    Here's Kerry's answer to Schieffer's thoroughly impossible question:

    KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.

    I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

    And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.

    I think we have to respect that.

    If you talk to anybody? I must be a nobody, because Kerry never talked to me. He never talked to the ancients -- who didn't even have a word for homosexuality (which was nonetheless widely enjoyed). Or lots of modern Americans who might properly be described as "bisexual" but who might fall in love with another person only to find themselves labeled and forced into lifestyle categories of dubious value to anyone except self-appointed leaders.

    What about Mary Cheney? Why does Kerry assume to speak for her? Does he think she's one of his claimed minorities to be told that just as she has no choice about her sexuality, she has no choice about how to vote?

    I think Kerry may be anti-choice.

    posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

    Bright and cheery optimism on a rainy day!

    Am I the only person who is sick to death of this election? I have been sick of it for a long time, and I am dead tired of writing about Kerry this, Kerry that. Yet now, after the latest debate, I feel obligated to write about Kerry. Or else not write at all. It's Kerry or nothing!

    The problem -- and my bigger worry -- is that if Kerry is elected, then I'll be writing about him for the next four years, and that would be worse. Kerry has yet to repudiate his far-left, anti-American legacy, and frankly I think he's proud of it. Bush won't call him on it either. So it just festers away, leaving critics to nitpick away at more petty things like flu shots, as if that's what people are thinking about.

    The other problem is that there's nothing I can say which hasn't been said by others -- and repeatedly. It's boring the hell out of everyone, and it's as if I have no choice anymore about topics.

    When this happens I feel forced to return to the theme of this blog: Classical Values. How might an ancient Roman, hypothetically pulled out of a cryogenic storage vault, react to all of this? I think it's quite obvious: those guys were very prowar and didn't take kindly to any sort of attack on Rome. Kerry, had he been a Roman citizen unfortunate enough to have been caught negotiating with the enemy, would have been put to death for his turncoat behavior. Of course I'm not advocating anything like that, but people are already circulating petitions -- like this -- demanding that Kerry be prosecuted for treason. If he is elected, I'd be willing to bet that the resultant Kerry Hate Machine would dwarf anything ever done by the anti-Clinton forces. There is, after all, a huge difference between dodging the draft and meeting with the enemy while accusing your fellow soldiers of war crimes and gruesome atrocities worthy of Ghenghis Khan. The revived Roman might be astounded that a man like Kerry would get the nomination of a major political party. (I'd be astounded myself if I didn't know how thoroughly the radical left has insinuated itself into the machinery of this once-mainstream party.)

    This is not to say I am a gung-ho fan of Bush. Come to think of it, I've never endorsed him, and there's no Blogs4Bush logo here. My thinking right now is more on the level of Anyone But Kerry. Well, almost; I'd vote for Kerry over Michael Moore.

    Realizing that I don't want four more years of daily anti-Kerry blogging, I am not foolish enough to imagine that reelecting Bush would end acrimony in this country. Incivility in American politics is now institutionalized, and the Hate Bush forces are gearing up for all out war. I worry that Bush will be impeached in his second term, because the Bush haters are motivated by a need to avenge Clinton's impeachment.

    So my prediction is no matter who wins, things will probably get nastier.

    Hope I am wrong, as usual.

    posted by Eric at 09:05 AM | Comments (4)

    Debate to Dubya ... big time.

    Looking around I see some hardnosed bloggers complaining about nothing new here, but trust me. Remember, I was none too impressed with the second debate which many people thought Bush won handily. This was a dominant performance which will resonate with voters.

    Democrats tend to assume that domestic issues are their strength, and many seem to think that Bush hinges entirely upon hawkish foreign policy, but he built his political career on domestic issues and came to the presidency as a relative novice on foreign policy.

    Bank on it: Bush wins big.



    Even Kerry agrees. (Photo stolen from Drudge.)

    posted by Dennis at 10:56 PM | Comments (1)

    Blogging the debate....

    What inane questions!

    Will our children and grandchildren grow up in a world as safe as the one where we grew up in?

    Safe? World War II, Korea, Vietnam?

    Only the dead have seen the end of war.

    Flu shots?

    Show me where the Constitution gives the president the power to vaccinate!

    Then there's the sensitive hot-button issue.... How on earth can Scheiffer ask with a straight face whether homosexuality is a choice?

    I can't answer that unanswerable, unqualified question any more than Bush -- who said he didn't know.

    Kerry: "It's not choice. I've met people who were struggling with this for years."

    Maybe it wasn't a choice for them, but for others it was.

    No one can answer such a question or speak for such a diverse group of people -- the reasons for existence or nonexistence of "choice" being as varied as the number of people in the group.

    Bush seems more rested and vigorous in this debate than in the last two. More articulate too. Unless something changes, so far this looks like a Bush win.

    Abortion, healthcare, nothing new said by either man.

    Bush looks livelier, smilier....

    Whatever happened to the "conservative scowl?"

    MORE: Immigration. Bush wants guest worker cards. Kerry (after first continuing -- shrewdly -- to talk about the ruined middle class) wants to toughen border enforcement. Kerry mentioned "people from the Middle East" coming across the border. Says he'll make the borders secure which they're not.

    Minimum wage: Tired of family values without taking care of families. Fundamental right to raise minimum wage. He'll fight "tooth and nail."

    Overturning Roe v. Wade: Lots of knowing smirks by Kerry as he writes and waits..... He may be waking up a bit. Both keep returning to education theme. I don't think they like the abortion question any more than the gay marriage question.

    Blaming the wealthy is a favorite theme for Kerry, and education is a favorite for Bush.

    "BACK DOOR" DRAFT: Kerry complains of bad judgment, Bush being overextended. Need to have "real alliances." President "broke faith."

    There is an optimism versus pessimism thread running throughout, and tonight Bush has a corner on the optimism quotient.

    Bush alludes again to the "global test" and Kerry seems defensive. Why should he have to say that he'll never fail to protect America? It's undignified, and Bush has the upper hand here.

    ASSAULT WEAPONS: Bush said he was in favor of the ban (yecchh!), supports background checks at gun shows, Kerry not smirking. Kerry the hunter says he wants to "respect" the Second Amendment. Says prosecutors support the AWB. Terrorists will go to gun shows and that will make us less safe. The AWB made us "safe" against terrorism because bin Laden wants his guys to go to gun shows.... Please.

    Affirmative action..... Again, please.

    MORE: Today more minorities own their own house. [Bush] That's positive!

    Prayer. Bush -- prays a lot. His faith is personal. Prays for troops, his families. Its a free society. You're equally an American regardless of how you worship. Prayer sustained me. "I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency." Religion important but don't want to impose it. Love our neighbor as we love ourself. Believe God wants everyone to be free, and freedom in Afghanistan is product of the Almighty.

    [Kerry] I respect everything the president says. Everything is a gift of the almighty. Higher Being. All find ways to express it. Love your neighbor. We have more loving to do. Separate but equal school system.

    (Not much of a disagreement there.)

    9/11 question. [Kerry] Unity. President did a terrific job initially. Not Dems or Repubs. Now we are divided. "I've never seen such ideological squabbles." Committed to changing that. Need to come together. Find common ground. I'll meet openly; not secret meetings in the White House. Get campaign finance reform going.

    Bush: divided nature of Washington is his biggest disappointment. Tough town, entrenched special interests. Bitterly divided. We need to work to bring it about. McCain is for me; Kerry's plan is "RETREAT AND DEFEAT."

    Strong women; what have you learned? Bush: "To listen to them." "To stand up straight and not scowl" (!) Wife "speaks English a lot better than I do." Talked of how he met her. Love at first sight.

    Kerry jokes about lucky people who've married up. Good joke: "Me more than others!" (Laughter.) Mom left him with words "Integrity. Integrity. Integrity." Admits he takes himself too seriously. (Both men are self effacing and polite to each other here.)

    CONCLUSION: Both men ended on optimistic notes, but again, Bush sounded like more of an optimist.

    Kerry gave the clenched fist salute after Bush left the stage. To great cheers. Why?

    I think Bush won it, and I wasn't expecting that. Kerry looked tired. Bush looke vibrant. Nothing new was said, which means the way they said it is everything.

    UPDATE (10/14/04): Regarding "the way they said it," the Belmont Club's Wretchard discusses what the way they said it reveals:

    Even today many of our most important decisions -- who we will trust as a prison cellmate, combat buddy or wife -- are based on an indefinable pattern recognition. We may choose a lawyer on his resume, but we will choose our allies in barroom brawl on personal assessment. Polls show that half the American public has found what it wants in John Kerry and an equal number have found it in George Bush. But what each has sought may be strikingly different. Although the general populace was split evenly between Bush and Kerry, a Military Times survey showed soldiers preferred President Bush by a 73:18 ratio to Senator Kerry. That suggests those seeking allies in maintaining Roe vs Wade may see a welcoming visage in Senator Kerry; while those looking for someone to trust in a foxhole will take one look -- and fly. Which is no condemnation of Senator Kerry: elections are only secondarily about candidates, they are primarily referendums on ourselves.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    The fact that looks can be deceiving further compounds rational analysis. Are we left with instinct? Gut feelings?

    posted by Eric at 09:29 PM | Comments (5)

    A new low?

    Here's something fascinating: according to a story I'm so far unable to confirm, Tennessee Republican congressional candidate Dave Dahl has complained that Republicans are being compared to Special Olympics children:

    Dahl says the flyers have been distributed for at least two weeks from Fitzhugh’s campaign office in Ripley, Tennessee. It also serves as the Kerry-Edwards headquarters. “At first, I really did not believe that Fitzhugh and the Democrats would stoop to such gutter politics, but then people started bringing the flyer to me at the end of last week. I was shocked and disgusted.”

    Here's the flyer:


    Again, I cannot confirm this, and because past experience has given me cause to doubt the reliability of the reporting web site, I emailed the candidate Dave Dahl himself, and will post any reply I receive.

    I'll say this, though. If the story is true, it's yet another example of outrageous bigotry by Democrats, and it needs to be reported more widely.

    UPDATE: The story has been confirmed in a press release at TeamGOP (Tennessee's official Republican news and commentary site).

    MORE: Tom Maguire discusses the possibility that this may have been a hoax. Look, as soon as I saw the TVC was involved, my antennae were up, which is why I cautioned readers accordingly.

    Still no word from anyone at the Dahl campaign.....

    Continue reading "A new low?"

    posted by Eric at 01:42 PM | Comments (4)

    Shades of Caracalla again?

    Here's something I think will turn out to be one of those now-you-see-it-now-you-don't stories -- a report that Chechen terrorists may be crossing into the United States via the Mexican border:

    U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.

    The Chechen group is suspected of having links to Islamist terrorists seeking to separate the southern enclave of Chechnya from Russia, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.

    Members of the group, said to be wearing backpacks, secretly traveled to northern Mexico and crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona that is difficult for U.S. border security agents to monitor, said officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    The intelligence report was supplied to the U.S. government in late August or early September and was based on information from an intelligence source that has been proved reliable in other instances, one official said.

    A second U.S. official said the report is being investigated, but said it could not be determined whether the group of Chechens actually entered the country, as the intelligence source reported.

    "We don't know whether or not that report is true," this official said.

    A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the intelligence report was provided by another government agency, but said Border Patrol agents were unable to verify its accuracy.

    I suppose if the report turns out to be true, it could be exploited by Kerry, assuming he wanted to discuss border security (hardly one of his strong points). Otherwise, I don't think we'll hear much more about it.

    The terrorist issue aside, many would agree that open borders lead to dilution of citizenship. This is not a new phenomenon; in 212 AD the emperor Caracalla diluted Roman citizenship (a decision I analyzed in the modern context). Are open borders and easy citizenship a good idea?

    (We can't ask Caracalla!)

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds's link to Mickey Kaus, I found another story no one wants to discuss: a direct relationship between poverty in the United States illegal immigration.

    The Census statistics are both better and worse than advertised. They're better because the middle class isn't vanishing. Many middle-class families achieved large income gains in the 1990s and—despite the recession and halting recovery—have kept those gains. They're worse because the increase in poverty in recent decades stems mainly from immigration. Until our leaders acknowledge the connection between immigration and poverty, we'll be hamstrung in dealing with either.
    Why not limit the gathering of official statistics on poverty to actual United States citizens and legal residents? That would be much more fair during the election debates.

    After all, illegals by definition can't vote, can they?

    (I think I should have said "may not vote".....)

    posted by Eric at 08:21 AM

    Free speech is not a "campaign contribution!"
    The effort to censor Sinclair seems to me to be a bigger -- and more significant -- assault on free speech than fines against Howard Stern for using dirty words. I wonder if the free-speech defenders will turn out for Sinclair like they did for Stern?

    So asks Glenn Reynolds about the airing of an anti-Kerry program called Stolen Valor. I defended Howard Stern repeatedly, and I defend Sinclair Broadcasting even more vehemently, because this involves an actual invocation of government censorship, whereas the Howard Stern flap was quasi-governmental in nature.

    This is the real, unadulterated thing:

    WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The Kerry campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Friday asking that ads being broadcast by the 527 group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" be taken off the air. The Democrats allege that the Bush campaign is behind the political spots that question the version of events for which John Kerry received his medals during the four months he served in Vietnam. Coordination between independent "soft money" groups and political campaigns is illegal.

    The ads have had a significant effect on Kerry's poll numbers among veterans. The Massachusetts Democrat has suffered a double-digit plunge in support among the key demographic since the Democratic National Convention where the presidential candidate announced that he was "reporting for duty."

    The Kerry campaign released a television spot of its own over the weekend challenging President Bush to denounce the ads and demand that they be taken off the air. It repeats the Democrats' assertion that the ads are a part of a "smear campaign" being waged by the Bush campaign.

    The DNC's legal position is that Stolen Valor is an illegal "campaign contribution":
    Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the documentary is an illegal contribution of airtime to President Bush's campaign, a committee spokeswoman told CNN/Money.

    DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe told CNN the complaint charges that Sinclair's plan is an "illegal in-kind contribution to the Bush-Cheney campaign."

    "This is a group that is going to preempt their airtime to run a 90-minute documentary attacking Senator Kerry," McAuliffe said on CNN's American Morning. "This is a use of corporate funds. Under the law, you cannot use corporate funds to go out there and advocate for a party or a political candidate."

    The FEC has civil authority to enforce the Federal Election Campaign act, which prohibits a corporation or union from making a contribution or expenditure to a candidate in a federal election.

    Censorship occurs when the state uses its power to prevent speech or control the content thereof. I can't think of a more classic example than censoring opinions about a particular candidate's fitness or unfitness for office.

    As far as I'm concerned, when the Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold, they violated the Constitution they were sworn to uphold -- every bit as much as if a president or Congress had committed an unconstitutional act.

    Of course the Democrats don't want the program to air. But that's as irrelevant to constitutional considerations as is the question of whether or not the Stolen Valor program is a smear. The Democrats can (and probably should) try to get their own program on the air, and the Republicans would have no more right to stop it than the Democrats do theirs.

    Free speech ought to be a no-brainer. It's a shame there's no remedy when unconstitutional laws like McCain-Feingold are upheld.

    Imagine the uproar if Republicans argued that Howard Stern is an illegal "campaign contribution" and demanded he be taken off the air for that reason!

    If they can get away with this stuff, will blogs be next?

    UPDATE: I was not engaging in hyperbole when I asked whether blogs will be next. The FTC has now declared that they intend to regulate "political activity" on the Internet!

    A recent federal court ruling says the FEC must extend some of the nation's new campaign finance and spending limits to political activity on the Internet.

    Long reluctant to step into online political activity, the agency is considering whether to appeal.

    But vice chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said the Internet may prove to be an unavoidable area for the six-member commission, regardless of what happens with the ruling.

    "I don't think anybody here wants to impede the free flow of information over the Internet," Weintraub said. "The question then is, where do you draw the line?"

    Sorry, Ms. Weintraub, but the founders of this country drew a line long ago. It's called the First Amendment.

    Is this still a free country?

    posted by Eric at 11:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)

    A Reader Weighs In From Beijing...

    ...and tells us that Classical Values is one of his daily reads. Be still, my racing heart. I'm still new enough at this business to enjoy the idea of having a reader in China. Embarassing, but true.

    At any rate, reader Scott Hillis wanted to point out that John C. Wright's newest novel is now out and ready for purchase. He also points us toward an interview with the author available here.

    The book is not space opera, but fantasy. If you enjoyed "The Golden Age" you might find the change of pace disconcerting. Caveat Emptor.

    Personally, I enjoyed it. I had quite forgotten the existence of Randolph Carter and Celephais, but this book brought the memories back. Night Gaunts over Inquanok, yeah! I shouldn't be surprised. One of Wright's cacophiles was a rugose cone with tentacles. So, I am yet again indebted to Mr. Wright, who was kind enough to leave a complimentary comment here at Classical Values.

    posted by Justin at 11:01 PM

    A Break From Election Politics

    When I was much younger, I envied my older brother's air of suave accomplishment. Along with a few of his other talents, I thought his facility with shadow hand puppetry was too cool for words. Not only could he do the alligator and the butterfly (as who among us cannot?) he could do the barking dog. I felt humbled.

    Well, it's a new day comrades. Ancient wisdom, unearthed anew, shows that my elder sib was only a mewling novice. Check out this wealth of lost shadow forms and remember to warm up before attempting the more ambitious examples.

    via Paul Hsieh, at Geek Press

    posted by Justin at 10:40 PM

    Sox and Yanks tonight!

    It's baseball time folks, so here's luck to the Red Sox, who really don't need it because they're the better team!

    But just in case (no, not you Justin), I've decided you might aid Pedro Martinez's cause by watching Nelson de la Rosa, Pedro's personal good luck charm, do a little dance called Mahow Mahow. Download and enjoy.

    UPDATE: Not enough of you downloaded the Mahow Mahow video, and it's your fault the Sox lost!

    posted by Dennis at 07:20 PM

    Every poll must count!

    Don't miss this CNN poll parody! (Via

    This is the very same parody which had been posted by Robert Cox at The National Debate, which CNN forced the ISP to remove.

    I like it so much that I decided to copy the html in case those mean-spirited people at CNN make them take this one down too...

    Robert Cox, of course, famously parodied the New York Times corrections page, and my mirror of that is here.

    posted by Eric at 09:23 AM

    Kerry's Secret Plan?

    Blogging up a storm? Well batten down the hatches, 'cause it ain't over yet.

    Dave Kopel of FahrenHYPE 9-11 fame (which also features former NYC mayor Ed Koch and former Clinton advisor Dick Morris) has a report on the reporting of false reports: the draft hoax:

    Both papers, and CBS, would have done better to point out that the congressional draft bill sponsors were not really people who wanted a stronger military, but were 16 far-left Democratic representatives who wanted just the opposite. As the excellent rumor debunking Web site put it, the draft "bills were introduced not by legislators genuinely seeking to reinstate the draft, but by Democrats seeking to make an anti-war statement."

    That even the sponsors did not really want a draft became indisputable on Oct. 5 when the draft bill, HR 163, was called up for a vote on the floor of the House, and was crushed by a vote of 402-2 - with most of its sponsors refusing to vote for it.

    . . . . .

    Rather than giving so much space to lies of e-mail hoaxsters, the Denver papers and CBS should have contacted the anti-draft, anti-war organization Alliance for Security. The group has written a report, "Debunking the Myths: Getting the Draft Story Straight," which refutes the e-mail claims that a draft was coming next spring because of HR 163.

    And when doing stories about young people who are worried about being forced into government service, the Denver and national media should have pointed out that John Kerry is the only candidate who has proposed such coercion. As detailed in Kerry's proposal "100 Days to Change America," Kerry's "plan will require mandatory national service for high school kids . . . As president, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation." The plan appeared on Kerry's Web site at www.johnkerry. com/issues/100days/. Like many other pages on Kerry's Web site, this one has disappeared without explanation, but you can still find the page by entering the original URL into the "search" box at

    You know, I think I understand now how Kerry plans to increase the military by 40,000. How can you guarantee a number like that if not through a draft?

    Oddly the search feature times out on, and the page in question doesn't appear to exist at the mirror site Surely there's nothing fishy going on here...

    UPDATE: Googling the phrase '100 Days to Change America' and 'John Kerry' one finds a link to a press release linked to the plan that had appeared on Kerry's site. The page is no longer on the Kerry server, but Google has (for the time being at least) a cached copy:

    Make national service a way of life by requiring mandatory service for high school kids and giving Americans the chance to earn four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of service.

    I also see that numerous sites had written vociferously on this issue when it first arose, many taking it to extremes (Kerry Slavery?).

    But the point that can't be missed is that Kerry is essentially a socialist who wants to increase the federal government, and that necessarily puts limits on freedom by requiring service to the federal government.

    If we want to look at the extreme though the unexplored corollary I think would be the creation of a heretofore non-existent class divide. Kerry's plan would require service in exchange for a high school diploma, and would reward those who comply with money for college. Ultimately such a plan threatens to create a class of 'educated patriots' and uneducated second class citizens.

    Frightening stuff.

    posted by Dennis at 08:51 AM

    Village Highlights

    I am delighted that Dennis has been blogging up a storm in my absence so I don't have to force myself to write anything. Instead, I thought I'd upload a few photos from today's trip to New York's Lower East Side. (Yeah, last time was Upper West Side; I'm making my way around....)

    Here's an ivy-covered building in an arrested state of deterioration. (I don't know what they do there, but I couldn't leave it alone.) IvyBldg.jpg

    A classic old firehouse best described as charming:

    And finally, a cat taking charge of a store's inventory:

    (It will all add up, I'm sure....)

    posted by Eric at 10:58 PM | Comments (2)

    John 'the Killer' Kerry?
    Those who saw Kerry that morning recall mainly that he was furious, an emotion, those close to him say, that comes easily to him in times of trial. He thought it was a mistake to shut down the Capitol, to show terrorists that they had the power to send the United States government into hiding.

    ''You know, my instinct was, Where's my gun?'' Kerry told me. ''How do you fight back? I wanted to do something.''

    And George W. Bush is the reactionary cowboy?

    This is something I haven't noticed anyone else talking about: Kerry's phony machismo. It's the unexplored angle of his recent NYTimes mag debacle.

    How many times do I have to hear Kerry and Edwards force out the word 'kill' when discussing terrorism? 'Of I course I will kill the terrorists.' It sounds like a talking point hammered away at intervals to assure the people at home that the Dems can be tough too.

    The other unexplored story here is in the writing itself. Democrats have 'instinctive concerns over civil liberties?' Were they born that way? Is there a gene? Or is it a life-choice?

    The President 'recast himself as the accidental protagonist of a new and dramatic national narrative?' You mean he made a conscious decision to do that after 9-11? What other roles were open to him? Hamlet?

    I think I need to stop reading these kinds of schlocky pieces. The bulk of it is sweeping and generalized retelling of recent history replete with the hidden emotions and motives of whole classes of people.

    Can you really stomach it?

    posted by Dennis at 08:57 PM

    Recount '04?

    I've been told about a mailing to registered Democrats from James Carville requesting donations to aid in the recount in the upcoming Presidential election.

    You read that correctly. The Democrats are fund-raising to finance recounts for an election that hasn't happened yet.

    This is not apocryphal. My mother had one of these letters in her possession but seems to have inadvertently thrown it away.

    If any of our faithful readers can point us toward scans or more detailed information, it'd be greatly appreciated.

    UPDATE: Kerry is accepting donations through his website to cover the cost of a recount:

    Contributing to the Kerry-Edwards 2004 General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance Fund (GELAC) provides important support for our campaign. The Federal Election Commission has just granted our request to raise funds now to cover recount expenses. Your contribution to Kerry-Edwards 2004 GELAC will provide the resources to make sure we are prepared to win the post election day battles.

    Emphasis theirs.

    Disgust mine.

    posted by Dennis at 05:27 PM

    Do you know what's in the Duelfer Report? Does the Media?

    I recently talked about how to read the news. Now I'd like to talk about what's clearly not the news.

    David E. Sanger is the White House Correspondent for the New York Times. I hadn't realized that correspondents wrote op-ed pieces, nor had I realized that op-ed pieces were now called 'news analyses.'

    That's exactly what Sanger's latest piece is, A Doctrine Under Pressure: Pre-emption Is Redefined:

    But the C.I.A. report released last week, written by Charles A. Duelfer, described the evidence as anything but clear and the peril as far from urgent. Mr. Hussein's military power began waning after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the report concluded. While Mr. Hussein most probably wanted to rebuild his illicit weapons, there is no evidence he had started by the time Mr. Bush was delivering that speech.

    The speech referred to was that made by the President on October 7th 2002, a speech made when John Kerry, who had seen the same intelligence as President Bush, apparently agreed with and supported him.

    Sanger's column continues the narrow reading of the Duelfer report that is patently being used to support the Kerry Doctrine, while completely disregarding the language of the report itself. Oddly enough he quotes the President giving a fair assessment of the Duelfer Report:

    "We did not find the stockpiles we thought were there," Mr. Bush told supporters in Waterloo, Iowa, on Saturday. "But I want you to remember what the Duelfer report said. It said that Saddam Hussein was gaming the oil-for-food program to get rid of sanctions. And why? Because he had the capability and knowledge to rebuild his weapon programs. And the great danger we face in the world today is that a terrorist organization could end up with weapons of mass destruction."

    One of the main things that separates bloggers from the old media is that we don't simply interpret data or pass judgment on events: we also deal with open data, share our sources, and challenge others to read or investigate for themselves what we're writing about.

    Sanger and his editors fail to provide his readers with links to check his claims. And this stuff is easy enough to find. The entire report is accessible at

    Let's just glance at a portion of the CIA's handy 19 page 'Key Findings' PDF which offers an overview of some of what's most important in the 1000+ page report (which, incidentally, I sincerely doubt Sanger read):

    One aspect of Saddam’s strategy of unhinging the UN’s sanctions against Iraq, centered on Saddam’s efforts to influence certain UN SC permanent members, such as Russia, France, and China and some nonpermanent (Syria, Ukraine) members to end UN sanctions. Under Saddam’s orders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) formulated and implemented a strategy aimed at these UNSC members and international public opinion with the purpose of ending UN sanctions and undermining its subsequent OFF program by diplomatic and economic means. At a minimum, Saddam wanted to divide the five permanent members and foment international public support of Iraq at the UN and throughout the world by a savvy public relations campaign and an extensive diplomatic effort.

    Hm ... seems that much was a success.

    Another element of this strategy involved circumventing UN sanctions and the OFF program by means of “Protocols” or government-to-government economic trade agreements. Protocols allowed Saddam to generate a large amount of revenue outside the purview of the UN. The successful implementation of the Protocols, continued oil smuggling efforts, and the manipulation of UN OFF contracts emboldened Saddam to pursue his military reconstitution efforts starting in 1997 and peaking in 2001. These efforts covered conventional arms, dual-use goods acquisition, and some WMD-related programs.

    So why are people like Sanger lying about the Duelfer report?

    Because the alternative would be to report its contents accurately while claiming it to be a pack of partisan lies. Then, instead of competing 'interpretations,' the talking heads would be fighting over whether the report is accurate. The story would be about the details, and people would be forced to discuss the Oil-for-Food scandal, the involvement of French and Russian officials, and whether Saddam Hussein really posed an impending threat to Mid-East stability.

    What Kerry supporters have chosen to do, to repeat mechanically that there were no WMDs at the time of invasion, is a rhetorical game played by smart alecky children. It's like missing the forest for the trees, but doing so because the forest isn't good politics for your guy.

    There's more chicanery in Sanger's opinion piece:

    Traditionally, pre-empting an enemy is all about urgency, striking before the enemy strikes. In the prelude to the invasion in March of last year, Mr. Bush and his aides stopping short of saying Saddam Hussein posed an "imminent" threat. Still, they used urgent-sounding language at every turn to explain why they could not afford to wait for inspectors to complete their work, or for the United Nations Security Council to come to a consensus on authorizing military action. "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud," he said in a speech delivered Oct. 7, 2002.

    Emphasis mine.

    The argument of the piece is that President Bush is redefining his own definition of pre-emptive war, that there's some sort of back-pedalling in the face of the 'damning' Duelfer report. But what this passage shows is that Sanger himself has defined the terms of pre-emptive war and has even acknowledged that the president never used the same terms. How then is there a redfinition on the President's part? But his statements sure were urgent-sounding.

    Next Sanger will turn the urgent-sounding language against the president:

    But the C.I.A. report released last week, written by Charles A. Duelfer, described the evidence as anything but clear and the peril as far from urgent.

    This is more chicanery. Or ignorance. And really the question isn't about a redifinition of pre-emptive war. It's about pre-war intelligence opposed to post-war findings, and manipulative conflation of the two on the part of partisans.

    The evidence which Sanger refers to in the Duelfer report is not the same evidence that led to the President's decision. Here Sanger is playing on ambiguity to unfairly prejudice his readers. If he'd read just a few pages of the Duelfer report he'd have to know that this evidence was largely culled from interviews with former members of Saddam's regime. I think it's safe to say that all or nearly all of this evidence could only be gathered after the war. It did not exist before the war.

    Pre-war evidence was limited to intelligence reports, not direct testimony and physical materials gathered in post-war Iraq.

    To try to equate the information in the Duelfer report with pre-war intelligence reports is misleading and intellectually irresponsible. Sanger tries to give this an air of respectability by quoting a Harvard man and former NIC director under President:

    Taken at face value, Mr. Bush appears to be saying that under his new standard, a country merely has to be thinking about developing illicit weapons at some time. "He's saying intent is enough," said Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor who under the Clinton administration headed the National Intelligence Council, the group that assesses for the president when countries have trespassed that hard-to-define line.

    "The classical definition for pre-emption was 'imminent threat,' " Mr. Nye said. Then, with the development of the president's "National Security Policy of the United States," that moved to something less than imminent, because, as Mr. Bush argued, it is often hard to know when a country is about to attack. Now, said Mr. Nye, "the Duelfer report pushed him into a box where capability is not the standard, but merely intention."

    Sanger was careful enough to preface the professor's statement by saying, "Taken at face value, Mr. Bush appears to be saying that under his new standard, a country merely has to be thinking about developing illicit weapons at some time."

    The politics of appearance rears its head and we hit the heart of Sangers piece: it's not what the President mean, but what we can interpret it to mean. What does it seem to say on the surface?

    But beyond that quoting Dr. Nye is a kind of game. This appeal to authority is meant to disqualify those who lack the experience and academic standing of the expert witness. But prestige and experience never trump logic.

    You can not take the president's decision out of time, or apply what we know now to decisions made in the past. The claim that intention is enough to launch pre-emptive war is a stretch because the President made his decision based on intelligence that said the weapons were there. He didn't make that decision based on the Duelfer report.

    That report can not be applied transhistorically to invalidate or vitiate the decision to go to war when the intelligence that had existed then, and which John Kerry had also seen and agreed with, justified the decision.

    The President's argument today—that the Duelfer report demonstrates Saddam's plan to manipulate the Oil-for-Food program, to bribe world officials toward ending sanctions, and to renew WMD programs in the future—does not replace a decision made in the past. That's not how history works.

    This is a simple:
    (a) We thought Saddam had WMDs.
    (b) We agreed to use force to remove a threat.
    (c) With the threat removed, we discovered that the he did not have WMDs, but that he was manipulating the system of sanctions with the goal of reconstituting his weapons program.
    (d) Ultimately, though the intelligence was faulty, illegal activity channeled through the U.N. was stopped, the future threat of WMDs in Saddam's hand was removed, and his brutal regime was removed.

    History moves forward, and you can't fault the President for not being omniscient.

    And you can't claim that the President has opened the door for pre-emptive attack based on a post-war assessment of new evidence.

    MORE: I've been glancing at Volume 1 of the Comprehensive Report, and found this very instructive about this so-called damning document:

    Readers will draw their own conclusions about various national and international actions and policies. This report will, hopefully, allow a more complete examination of these events by showing the dynamics involved within the Regime and where it was headed as well as the status of the WMD on the ground in 2003. The events surrounding Iraqi WMD have caused too much turmoil to be reduced to simple binary discussions of whether weapons existed at one moment in time versus another. They deserve at least an attempt to look at the dynamics rather than a description of a single frame of a movie. It deserves calculus not algebra. This report will deny the reader any simple answers. It will seek to force broader and deeper understanding from multiple perspectives over time.

    A lesson for the likes of Sanger.

    posted by Dennis at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

    See attachment

    I'm taking advantage of the holiday to take a road trip, so there won't be anything until possibly later. For now, here's some Autumn color, a photo I took yesterday of a tree growth:


    These things are usually symbiotic.

    posted by Eric at 08:14 AM | Comments (2)

    Late night testing of the globe....

    Last night, in an undisclosed but secure location, all three of this blog's writers assembled and held the first Classical Values summit.

    (Which is another way of saying that Dennis, Justin and I got together to drink beer and watch DVDs.)

    After the first DVD, I realized that we wouldn't make it through another entire film, and it occurred to me that we might watch a very short film -- a film within a film, really. I just got hold of the DVD version of "The Battle of Britain" and the first five minutes shows the prelude -- in which the Nazis smash effortlessly through French defenses (or is that an oxymoron?). I jokingly said that if we watched "The Battle of France," that it would only take a few minutes and then we could adjourn the summit.

    Whether it's historically accurate even to refer to the near-total rout as the "Battle of France" is questionable, as Churchill made clear in his speech at the time:

    What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.
    Despite having bragged beforehand about the impregnability of the Maginot Line, the French surrendered (and capitulated) in about a month. Britain then stood alone against the Nazi invasion.

    Naturally, deep and disturbing questions arose as we watched the crazy English launch their hasty, ill-conceived plan.

    Considering that virtually all of Europe was now part of the new Nazi order of things, wasn't this unilateralism irresponsible? How could it ever be expected to lead to anything but a quagmire, and more death?

    Why didn't Britain realize that war can never be the answer?

    Can it really be said that Europe was better off without Hitler? Isn't that an oversimplification?

    I don't mean to sound ungrateful, or anti-French. After all, had it not been for France, we'd have never had the Normandy invasion.

    Or Vietnam.

    posted by Eric at 08:12 PM

    Dangling Afghani Chads?

    The votes are being counted now in Afghanistan, and some, smelling defeat, have taken a page out of the Al Gore book:

    What was supposed to be a historic day in the war-ravaged nation turned sour Saturday when all 15 challengers to interim President Hamid Karzai withdrew in the middle of voting, accusing the government and the United Nations of fraud and incompetence because of faulty ink used to mark voters’ thumbs.

    On Sunday, at least one of those candidates appeared to pull back a bit, saying he wanted a commission to rule on whether the election was fair, and indicated he would accept its decision.

    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement Sunday that the demand to nullify the poll was “unjustified.” The U.S. International Republican Institute said the ballot had been “a triumph” and accused the 15 of trying to make up excuses for why they were likely to lose.

    Now let's parse that, as Eric says. 'Faulty' ink indicates fraud and incompetence? How might that be, you ask? Well,

    The opposition candidates claimed the ink used to mark people’s thumbs rubbed off too easily, allowing multiple voting.

    I wonder who masterminded this plot. Paul Wolfowitz? We'll doubtless find in the next debate that President Bush owns a disappearing ink factory that he uses as a tax write-off.

    Now one of the primary lessons here is how to read the news. Jon Stewart was interviewed by Ted Koppel recently and shed his familiar non-partisan comic persona. It was time for Jon Stewart to be serious, to say what needed to be said, and that was that the Swift Boat Veterans were liars and that people like Ted Koppel were in a position to do something about it.

    Koppel then taught Stewart a lesson about what the news is:

    Ted: I think you are arguing about the difference between fact and proof [sic]. Which is the great problem with journalism. Let me explain.

    Jon: Fact and Truth?

    Ted: Fact and Truth.

    Jon: Are you going to tell me that the Holocaust didn't happen?

    Ted: For the sake of argument, Let's say President Bush comes out there Thursday night and out of the blue talks about that well-known drug dealer and pedophile Ted Koppel and my colleagues then...

    Jon (breaks into the frame and talks to the camera): Are you getting this?

    Ted: And my colleagues then, the next morning say the President of the United States last night in a surprising diversion from the rest of his speech accused ABC host Ted Koppel of being a pedophile and a drug dealer. Are they factually correct in reporting that the President of the United States said that? Is it news that he said that? Sure it is. Is it the truth. No. The truth may not emerge until...

    Jon (breaks into frame again and addresses the camera): Or is it...

    Ted: Or is it...

    Jon (still full frame in the camera): We'll be right back...tomorrow on Nightline, Ted Koppel's resignation.

    Ted: Come back here, Stewart. But do you get my point?

    Jon: Right.

    Ted: There is a difference between facts which are reported immediately.

    Jon: Right, Right. But here is where I think news is going to go...

    Ted: Its a fact, these veterns [sic] were in Vietnam, they themselves were on Swift Boats...They are saying these things. The truth may not catch up for another week or two.

    Stewart was visibly uncomfortable when Koppel began the lesson as the constant hamming to the camera shows. (I almost wonder whether the leftist in him wasn't a bit threatened, hence the joke, "Are you going to tell me that the Holocaust didn't happen?")

    But what this was really about was the function of the news media. Jon Stewart wants it to be something it's not, and he's not alone. Millions of people want the news to be an arbiter or a crusader, or at least expect the media to tell them the "facts." But as Koppel demonstrated facts and truth are not the same thing.

    It is a fact that candidates in Afghanistan allege fraud and incompetence. That's doesn't make it true. And it's not the job of the news media to decide whether it's true or not. Stewart's view seemed to be that there was danger in reporting what was no known to be true, but to report an allegation is not to report that an allegation is true.

    In many ways the most venerable members of the Old Media recognize their job and trust in the intelligence of the people to take the news for what it is. Increasingly though people look to the news for truth.

    Because the Left doesn't trust your intelligence, it sees danger in media without agenda. As Stewart also said, imploring Koppel, "The media is getting creamed. They need to take a more active role in safeguarding the public trust."

    UPDATE: After the media pushed the notion that these supposedly free elections were marred by controversy, the controversy appears to have ended:

    The crisis surrounding Afghanistan's historic presidential election appeared to end on Monday as President Hamid Karzai's chief rival said he and other candidates were withdrawing their rejection of the weekend poll.
    posted by Dennis at 08:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)

    Update on Ken Bigley beheading video

    The grisly video of the beheading of Ken Bigley can be downloaded here and here.

    It's a disgusting thing to wake up on a Sunday morning and watch this, and I'd much rather see reports that the beheaders are finally captured or killed. What bothers me even more is that there are a number of Americans who want the U.S. soldiers to leave Iraq and hand the country over to the tender mercies of people who revel in sawing off heads of civilians while dancing around and singing to their "god". Michael Moore thinks they're the "revolution." His fans think he's a patriot. Nice world they'd create.

    I prefer civilization.

    posted by Eric at 08:38 AM | Comments (3)

    the Politics of Confrontation

    My working class father—who enlisted to fight in Vietnam and never nominated himself for anything—was just in Las Vegas spending the money he's not supposed to have in this supposedly horrendous economy. He was at a table wearing his 'Veterans For Bush' shirt when he was confronted by an angry leftist charging 'THAT SHIRT IS A LIE!'

    Aside from the fact that the phrase 'Veterans for Bush' does not admit of falsehood (we'll leave philosophy for another time),

    (a) My father is a veteran,
    (b) he's for Bush,
    (c) and he's not alone.

    That's a simple equation.

    But that guy confronted the wrong cat. When my dad snapped back, though I wasn't there, I'd bet my life he took the guy's heart.

    You can't tell a Marine from North Philly that his convictions are a lie and walk away the same as you came.

    But really this is reflective of what Eric has already said about Berkeley, and what has been happening to signs (and little girls holding signs) supporting the President.

    This is about the politics of intimidation, about efforts to shout down those with whom you disagree, to create a climate of fear, shame, and confrontation.

    It's also about the complicity of the left in its silent support of the most virulent and anti-social elements.

    You will see more and more of this ugliness rearing its head until the leadership of the left unequivocally denounces it. Of course, that won't happen as long as the DNC keeps adopting the Moore Doctrine.

    When a man like my father shouts back, though, cowards crumble.

    But wouldn't we all rather live in a civil society? The choice lies with the Left.

    posted by Dennis at 07:02 PM | Comments (2)

    Treat? Or trick?

    I am seeing more and more of a "sign wars" phenomenon, in which competing neighbors put up signs in response to other neighbors. You can tell what's going on when you see a bunch of Bush/Cheney signs in a row, then a house will spring up with a lot of Kerry/Edwards signs on it as if to compensate. Or vice versa depending on the neighborhood. But in general there are far fewer Bush/Cheney signs. Where I live, they're outnumbered by the Kerry/Edwards signs by ten to one even though the voter registration is roughly fifty/fifty and the district is represented by a Republican congressman.

    You can spot the Bush voters around here by the absence of any signs at all. I think the no-signs people have more power than they realize.....

    Anyway, earlier today I drove out to an area which is heavily pro-Bush, and therefore safe to display Bush/Cheney signs, and I saw lots of them. But as I drove back towards "civilization," the Kerry/Edwards signs started to appear. The odd thing was, I kept seeing them posted on vacant lots, and I wondered, "What's the statement here? These trees are for Kerry?" And the thought struck me that as a political prank one might stick a Kerry sign on the worst-maintained house in an otherwise nice neighborhood.....

    A true "sign" of despair?

    But alas, someone stole my idea!


    What a treat! (But is it a trick?)

    The house has obviously been abandoned for some time. It's falling down, and I just can't imagine that its absentee owner, if he or she really supported Bush, would put up that sign. The explanation must lie elsewhere.

    I had thought the ghosts would be voting for Kerry this year.....

    posted by Eric at 05:50 PM | Comments (2)

    More on What Bush Should've Driven Home

    The Oil for Food scandal and all its implications should be the headline coming out of the Duelfer report.

    Instead it's that Iraq didn't have WMDs at the time of invasion.

    So here's a roundup of things worth reading on the subject:

    David Brooks @ the NYTimes: The Report That Nails Saddam.

    Jim Bencivenga @ CSMonitor: UN oil-for-food: Hussein's 'piggy bank'

    Joyce Howard Price @ WashTimes: Post gets it all wrong in Page One headline

    And William F. Buckley says that Dissimulation Reigns.

    posted by Dennis at 01:14 PM


    Nick Packwood at "Ghost of a Flea" reminds us why we fight. Thank you, Nick!

    posted by Justin at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)

    Live blogging a Berkeley rerun.....

    Here's Margaret Cho of all people, defending Michelle Malkin:

    Malkin tries to speak louder in to the microphone to drown out the chants of the protesters. The American flag taped up behind her falls down. This gets a smattering of ironic applause among the confused and scared looking audience. I don't blame them for being scared. I am scared for her. The protesters keep breaking into the hall at intervals, interrupting Malkin's train of thought. She hunkers down and keeps going, tough and diligent. She is a lot like me I think, an "Anti-Cho." They chant "SHAME!!!SHAME!!!SHAME!!!" but she refuses to be shamed by their taunts.

    I feel kind of proud, that racial politics have progressed to the point where we can have a young Asian American woman who doesn't have to live within the constraints of a minority identity, which presumes liberal bias just by nature of the fact that if you are oppressed by the majority, you would want to place yourself against the majority. Malkin's position is actually a kind of genius, and a new way to look at our role in American politics. We don't have to take on the mantle of distressed minority. We can be as prejudiced as whites!

    Race really doesn't matter. Malkin is both a revelation and revolution. It is fairly obvious that she is being courted by conservatives, fussed over and groomed as the all new Manchurian Candidate. She fits their need to diversify like an orthopedic shoe. It is a match made in GOP hell. The unholy union works to everyone's advantage. The right wing gets a brand new bag, a Skipper to Ann Coulter's Barbie. Not only that, she's Asian, so that liberals will have a harder time calling her a racist even though she has completely racist views. Malkin gets a lot of publicity and talk time for her book, which will generate sales on both sides. The right will buy it to support their own, the left will buy it to see what all the screaming is about. Boy, there is a lot of screaming. Not since Salman Rushdie released The Satanic Verses have people been so pissed off at an author. I would love to issue a fatwah against her, but I am not sure how to go about it.

    The protests are counterproductive, because the right wing loves it when the left gets angry. The off camera shouting makes us look like savages, and that is the exact image that they love to show again and again. Malkin bravely pushes forward. She seems like an intelligent and interesting young woman, albeit misguided, and I feel protective towards her. I hope the right treat her well, and don't throw her away once the fury has died down. Perhaps she will write a follow up book about how the Holocaust didn't happen.

    (I rather doubt Malkin will say the Holocaust didn't happen, and I think that gratuitous assertion was tossed out by Cho for her crowd.) While I am opposed to detention based on racial grounds, Malkin's complaint that Americans are not being given the full story about internment is correct. German and Italian Americans were also interned, yet you'd never know it.

    I'm writing this as I watch a tape of Malkin on C-SPAN2, and it's a bit shocking to see an obviously sincere young Asian woman being shouted down in a free country by people who cannot tolerate having anyone even hearing her. The Berkeley audience actually listening to Malkin applauded periodically, and quite a lot at the end. Ms. Malkin was just asked whether "if all the 9/11 hijackers had been short Filipino American women" (she's that!) she would support racial profiling. The audience applauded enthusiastically. Her answer was that she'd be screaming for it, and angry if she wasn't profiled. More audience applause. (I guess I'd say the same thing about short middle aged Americans of Norwegian descent.)

    Nice to see the audience show annoyance with the hecklers who regularly make it into the room with the sole purpose of disrupting.

    Berkeley. Much as I love the place, I hate the intolerance of the leftist ideologues (and their unthinking followers) there.

    Of course, it's no longer limited to Berkeley....

    The irony is that Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech movement -- something originally joined by student conservatives. It wasn't long before it became a "free speech for me but not for thee" movement.

    MORE: Just heard that Malkin's book signing had to be canceled for security reasons.

    Welcome to the world of free speech in Berkeley, folks.

    MORE: If I could add a tidbit, I would note an often-overlooked historical fact: J. Edgar Hoover opposed the internment program:

    There was one lonely voice in the Roosevelt administration opposed to the Japanese internment - that of J. Edgar Hoover. The American Civil Liberties Union gave J. Edgar Hoover an award for wartime vigilance during World War II. It was only when he turned his award-winning vigilance to Soviet spies that liberals thought Hoover was a beast.
    This was because the FBI knew who the spies among the Japanese-Americans were. I would have agreed with Hoover, and I have long stated my annoyance with the national kindergarten approach to government.

    posted by Eric at 09:27 AM | Comments (4)

    The unknown is always more fun than the known!

    At least partially because of the election madness, Classical Values has been neglecting the classical theme a bit too much. Why more readers haven't complained, I do not know.

    But Justin Case reminds me that Michael McNeil at Impearls certainly has not been neglecting the ancients. Mr. McNeil (a true scholar whether writing about classical or scientific matters) has authored a couple of marvelous posts, both well worth reading. "The Builders of Hadrian's Wall" furnishes photographic documentation of the names of the actual builders of the great wall separating England and Scotland.

    And Sex in Antiquity is a must-read, especially for those who cling to an overly romanticized view of the sex lives of the ancients. While they didn't think of sex itself as sinful in the Christian sense, they had plenty of hangups.

    Among the Romans (at least according to Paul Veyne), such things as sex in the daytime, "planned pleasure" (?), and male passivity in homosexual intercourse were frowned on. (Only the partner got to do the latter, and he'd better have been a slave or low born. Got that straight?) Hmmmmm........

    Might Hadrian have violated a taboo when he deified Antinous? Or was making a low-born lover into a god as a way of competing with early Christianity? (The latter I have speculated about in this blog.) There are of course many things we don't know.....

    Here's an excerpt from Michael McNeil's longer citation of Paul Veyne:

    Petrarch's praise of passion would have scandalized the ancients or made them smile. The Romans were strangers to the medieval exaltation of the beloved, an object so sublime that it remained inaccessible. They were strangers, too, to modern subjectivism, to our thirst for experience. Standing apart from the world, we choose to experience something in order to see what effect it has, not because it is intrinsically valuable or required by duty. Finally, the Romans were strangers to the real paganism, the at times graceful and beautiful paganism of the Renaissance. Tender indulgence in pleasures of the senses that became, also, delights of the soul was not the way of the ancients. The most Bacchic scenes of the Romans have nothing of the audacity of some modern writers. The Romans knew but one variety of individualism, which confirmed the rule by seeming to contradict it: energetic indolence. With secret delight they discussed senators such as Scipio, Sulla, Caesar, Petronius, and even Catiline, men scandalously indolent in private yet extraordinarily energetic in public. It was an open secret among insiders that these men were privately lazy, and such knowledge gave the senatorial elite an air of royalty and of being above the common law while confirming its authentic spirit. Although the charge of energetic indolence was a reproach, it was also somehow a compliment. Romans found this compliment reassuring. Their brand of individualism sought not real experience, self-indulgence, or private devotion, but tranquilization.
    Again, some of this is puzzling when contrasted with Hadrian's idealization of Antinous, but such apparent contradictions may highlight the problem. As co-blogger Dennis (a classical scholar in his own right) has said, most classical sources are fragmentary in nature. Mere glimpses of moments in time. Snapshots. It's tough for anyone to really understand an overall culture based upon what one particular writer (of unknown biases or motives) may have said. Speaking of fragments, this was Dennis's initial reaction when I apprised him of the Veyne book:
    Where do we begin, and who defines our age? Do we examine the architecture of my apartment, or the White House? Do we read epigrams, political histories, comedy, love letters, or tax receipts to recreate the 'world' of a people? Who is our Victoria, the token paradigm that relieves the historian of doing any real work? The Greeks and Romans had a uniform morality as much as we do, and are we really to assume that artistic fashion is the proof? The fact that smiles aren't represented in a period of art tells you about artistic practice and nothing more. What would we learn from the fact that almost everyone today poses with an artificial smile everytime sometimes says 'cheese?' I'd love to see Veyne recreate modern morality from that fact, a scrap of Robert Frost, and a few pages of the Congressional record.

    I may have more later.

    Hope so. Of course, the well known propensity of the Romans for satirical writing complicates things even further. (If readers are lucky, one of these days Dennis might be persuaded to write a big long post about Juvenal....)

    I don't think the ancients -- especially their private lives -- will be fully understood anytime soon. One thing is certain: they were quite different from us, and neither the romanticized Hollywood portrayals, nor the reflexive "pagans were totally cool" stereotype (itself often a kneejerk reaction against "Christian morality") have helped much in serious analysis.

    Anyway, whether you like the classics or the latest in scientific discussions, you should check out Michael McNeil regularly!

    posted by Eric at 06:37 AM | Comments (2)

    Big Red Letter Day

    I guess it's time for the big debate round-up ...

    But you won't find it here (try Instapundit, where Glenn Reynolds blogged along through the night). Quickly, Bush's brightest moment was something like a sparkler on the Fourth of July. He mentioned the Oil for Food scandal very briefly--in connection with Saddam Hussein's efforts to bribe his way out of sanctions toward renewing weapons programs--and never went back to it, as often as the opportunity presented itself.

    He should have said something like this:

    Although everybody's talking about weapons of mass destruction, the story that's not being reported --you'd almost think the press "wants Kerry to win"-- is the complete collapse of John Kerry's foreign policy case, and the reason for that collapse.

    And as often as Kerry hammered away at the notion that Bush gave massive tax cuts to the rich, Bush missed opportunities to counter that all taxes were lowered and that the rich are actually responsible for a larger percentage of the tax burden than they were before the cuts. He did get points though for his remarks on spending bills and discretionary funds.

    It's not that it was all bad, but it should have been a decisive victory. The ammunition was there.

    But something much more important happened today: the Boston Red Sox swept the Anaheim Angels to move on to the ALCS.

    And if you don't care about that you're un-American!

    Speaking of which ... I'm suddenly reminded of one of Kerry's most puzzling statements of the night. He said that it seemed the President was living in a world of fantasy, and that was alright if you were a Red Sox fan, but not if you were the President.

    Now what was that supposed to mean, and how will it play in Red Sox nation, which happens to have its base in his home state?

    posted by Dennis at 11:41 PM | Comments (3)

    Ken Bigley beheaded

    Via Kevin at Wizbang, I now see that British hostage Ken Bigley has been beheaded.

    The barbarians who did this are an affront to civilization. They are terrorists. Fascists.

    But not according to Reuters! The word "terrorist" is politically incorrect, and Reuters has vowed to take action if it is used in connection with their stories. (This echoes the philosophy of Michael Moore, who likens the beheaders to early American patriots.)

    No word on the release of yet another sickening video. I am as tired of these videos as I am of dedicating them to Michael Moore, but until he says otherwise, I have to assume that Moore continues to believe in the victory of the "Revolution" of the beheaders.

    UPDATE (10/09/04): I will be away most of the day, and I thought I should advise readers that Dr. Rusty Shackleford is a good source for ongoing updates on this matter. When the video is released, I am sure he'll have more news about the awful video itself. (I'm sure it will be found here eventually too.)

    UPDATE (10/10/04): The grisly video of the beheading can be downloaded here.

    posted by Eric at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (3)

    Eliminating weakness! Through power!

    If you thought the expression "girlie men" was bad, check this out:

    In a fit of rage, Fumo (D., Phila.) had lashed out at the top Republicans in the Senate, referring to them as "faggots" several times.

    "It was a very unfortunate word choice," Fumo said in a prepared statement yesterday. "I am especially sorry about using the term because it is not the way I feel in my heart toward gays."

    The incident occurred Wednesday night during a break in the Senate's consideration of a bill to prohibit public officials from owning any stake in gambling ventures. What set Fumo off was a move by the GOP to abruptly cut off debate on the measure. Republicans, Fumo said, had promised Democratic leaders that they would have a chance to offer amendments to make the bill even stronger.

    With that opportunity denied, Fumo approached President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair) and Majority Leader David J. Brightbill (R., Lebanon) when the Senate was at ease and at least four times called them "faggots."

    Exactly what was said is unclear, but several witnesses said that Fumo screamed "faggot" so loud that it could be heard throughout the upper chamber.

    Four times? I guess once is not enough.

    I'm not quite sure why there hasn't been as much uproar over this remark as there was about Arnold Schwarzenegger's "girlie men" reference. I know that the Pennsylvania legislature is not as important as the California legislature, and obviously, Fumo is hardly as famous as Schwarzenegger.... But I don't think you have to be suffering from paranoia to imagine that there'd be a little more criticism had a Republican state senator called his Democrat opponents "faggots" at the top of his lungs, four times.

    I don't expect to see much attention paid to this by leftish bloggers, but many of them were all over the girlie man remark (even though it's by no means settled that the phrase is an anti-gay slur). One such example appeared in David Neiwert's post about fascism:

    While anyone audacious enough to protest the proceedings outside was subject to the classic lockup treatment, often in scenarios straight out of a totalitarian state, those partaking of the big pep rally inside were treated to a whole menu of classically fascist mobilizing passions, played out on national television.

    Foremost among the appearances of these passions was the convention's most memorable moment: When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the assembled faithful, "For those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy -- don’t be economic girlie men."

    Sidney Blumenthal remarked in Salon on the deeper implications of this speech:

    Having established his citizenship, Schwarzenegger felt entitled to articulate the Republican credo -- of power over weakness. "If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican." Thus the immigrant blasted internationalism. "If you believe that we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a Republican." Thus he declared the Democrats soft. "And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie men."

    So beyond unilateralism, jingoism and social Darwinism lies sexual apprehension. Those who aren't with the program are queer. But the anxiety is even deeper than that of homosexuality. "Girlie man" is a peculiar accusation for being effeminate. It reveals fear of women and their complex values. The name-calling is a frantic effort to suppress nuance, which the action hero fears he may harbor within.

    Like Cheney's remark, this brief moment neatly captured a range of emotional appeals from the fascist blueprint: contempt for the weak, the superiority of instinct over reason, the efficacy of will. It also raised the virtue of virile, masculine leadership, as opposed to "effeminate" policy built on wisdom. This mindset disdains intellectual rigor as an affectation of vacillating liberalism.

    Seen in this context, Senator Fumo's "faggot" reference makes me wonder whether Mr. Neiwert's analysis may be a bit limited in its scope. It's only fair to ask whether the "fascist mobilizing passions" and the "eliminationist rhetoric" he describes are in fact limited to the right wing. Or am I guilty of "fascism" myself for posing such questions?

    The "power over weakness" theme went to the heart of Senator Fumo's righteous passion in his demand that Republicans stop acting like economic sissies in regulating ownership of gambling machines.

    Fumo, the ranking Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, often speaks passionately for the party on important policy matters. Having been in the minority for most of his 26 years in the Senate, he has often railed against GOP leaders for ramming through legislation. Rarely has it risen to this level of anger.

    "The use of the word came with such force and invective behind it that it almost sounded like someone yelling at a football stadium," said Ray Smith, a reporter for the Radio Pennsylvania Network, who was in the chamber at the time.

    The words were so out of place that Smith looked around the chamber to gauge the reaction of senators. Many appeared shocked, he said.

    Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R., Dauphin), the majority whip who was just feet from Fumo at the time, said in an interview yesterday that the look in Fumo's eyes was "almost as frightening as the comments."

    "He was a man possessed and on the verge of getting out of control," he said.

    Fumo, a tough-talking politician who grew up in South Philadelphia, explained yesterday that he "lost his temper in the heat of the moment" because he believed he was lied to about debate procedures on the bill.

    After the Senate broke late Wednesday night, Fumo, when asked about the remarks, said, "I made a mistake. I should have called them 'girlie men.' They have no integrity, no guts and no class."

    Should have called them girlie men? Too little, too late!

    Compared to screaming "faggots!," "girlie men" would have been very weak. Spineless. Equivocal. About on the level of the sissy Republicans who use phrases like that because they're so intimidated by the homo-fascists.

    This country needs more real men like Vincent Fumo who dare to stand up to the Republican faggot fascist scum! They must be eliminated -- by any means necessary!

    Remember: those who aren't with the program are queer!

    posted by Eric at 08:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)

    Speaking of fried memories.....

    Does anyone remember the term "South Park Republicans?" I can still dimly recall it, and it had something to do with unconventional, outside-the-box, free thinking:

    South Park Republicans are true Republicans, though they do not look or act like Pat Robertson. They believe in liberty, not conformity. They can enjoy watching The Sopranos even if they are New Jersey Italians. They can appreciate the tight abs of Britney Spears or Brad Pitt without worrying about the nation's decaying moral fiber. They strongly believe in liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. However, they do not live by the edicts of political correctness.

    The South Park Republicans are an incredibly diverse group encompassing a variety of nontraditional conservatives, such as the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis supported Republicans because of their commitment to lower taxes and fiscal discipline. Rap artist and movie actor LL Cool J recently endorsed NY governor George Pataki.

    In one South Park episode, the kids went to Afghanistan and blew up Osama bin Laden. (Cartman in drag enticed the bastard....)

    Where are they now? There's a new film [by the makers of "South Park"] called "Team America: World Police."

    Here's a sneak peek at a favorite animated asswipe of evil:


    They're still saying he's got WMDs, too!

    UPDATE: Following the dreams (and the logic) of this heady intellectual post, the foul-mouthed pronouncements of Eric Cartman (and possibly all South Park Republicans) may be just as fascist in nature as those of Dick Cheney.

    Remember, only you can prevent the fires of rhetorical eliminationism:

    There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh....
    (More here, from Bill Quick.) Hey, I was just talking about fried brain cells, wasn't I? And I think I have uttered the "F" word a few times.... I know I also said Communism sucks. What if I say "fuck fascism"?

    Hey, how about the guy who told me to go fuck myself sideways? It sure sounded like eliminationist rhetoric to me!

    It's not enough to call someone a fascist, you know. One must prove it by first defining fascism scientifically, then documenting the charge. Only through the careful and meticulous use of language and metaphor can the "fascists" be eliminated.

    UPDATE: Actor (and Saddam Hussein guest) Sean Penn does not like Team America's or its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Why am I not surprised?

    posted by Eric at 11:02 AM

    Did Cheney lie? Or did brain cells die?

    I remember many things in my life.

    In fact, just the other night I remember watching the Cheney Edwards debate, and I being impressed by the fact that Cheney (a guy demonized as a "junkyard dog") kept his cool, and for the most part seemed to have a better command of the facts.

    My memory of my reaction was that Cheney had won it, but for the past couple of days there's been enormous outrage and great controversy over the "real" issue of the debate: whether Vice President Cheney had met Senator Edwards before the debate. Cheney said he hadn't, and it turned out he had. (Much discussion at Blogspirator.)

    So now there's a grand national chorus of "Cheney lied!"

    We must all put aside and (purge from our memories) whether there are more important issues before the voters. (Never mind that the debate itself focused largely on them.)

    Did Cheney lie?

    Are we agreed on a definition of what constitutes lying? His statement that "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight" was made after Cheney had highlighted Edwards' poor attendance record, and that was right after Edwards had lambasted Cheney over the Halliburton stuff. It is never wise to categorically use words like "ever" or "never" because it is very hard to know to a certainty what you might have ever done. Memories fail. In all honesty, I cannot state categorically whom I've met in my life and whom I haven't. Thus, whenever you use a word like "ever" or "never," you leave yourself exposed.

    Why didn't Cheney use the lawyerly weasel words, "to the best of my memory?"

    At least then, it could be said that his memory failed him. At the risk of sounding like a junkyard dog-defending fascist, I think that may be exactly what happened. To accept that Cheney knew that he had met Edwards, and deliberately lied about it, you have to also accept that Cheney is incredibly stupid -- which is inconsistent with his performance, his demeanor, and everything else that is known about him. I don't think he is that stupid (nor do I think even his enemies think he's stupid) and thus I think it was a failure of memory.

    Which isn't all that great of a defense, but then it's not my job to defend Dick Cheney!

    But there's a fairness aspect of this, and I think that if Cheney lied, then I routinely lie in this blog, and lots of bloggers lie in theirs. My memory does fail me from time to time, and I get facts wrong, as I did last summer when I misattributed the authorship of a film to a guy who wrote a book about the film. I did this even though I had seen the film and should have known better. Now, you can say that I lied, and while it might be true that I made a statement which is false, is that really what we mean by "lying?" I think that cheapens the word "lie."

    What's important is to recognize and acknowledge errors. Cheney did that as soon as it was brought to his attention that he had met Edwards. And this is a big lying scandal?

    Had their meeting been "memorable," why didn't Edwards remember it? He was standing right there.

    I'm doubting that it was significant memory for either one of them.

    But it's now the most significant memory of the debate?

    I'm having trouble remembering the rest.....

    Where's my coffee?

    MORE: It may be too early in the morning for him, but I just spoke to co-blogger Justin Case about this, and he expressed concern about whether either Cheney's or Edwards' memories were truly "seared - seared!"

    Did you have to say it twice, Justin?

    If Cheney lied, my memory's fried!

    posted by Eric at 08:16 AM | Comments (4)

    Two very important things!

    I have to leave -- in a hurry right now -- for most of the day, and I'll probably return late, but there are a couple of items I can't ignore, even though they merit more than this quick post.

    Remember Kerry's Global Test? According to Bill Whittle, he's already failed it, because France and Germany will not assist in the war Kerry labels as "wrong war in the wrong place in the wrong time."

    Second, you cannot even throw the cloak of wishful thinking over Senator Kerry’s strategic nakedness, because as those of us in pajamas are well aware, the governments of the Grand Rescue Alliance – that is, Germany and France – have both announced publicly and in the most clear language available that regardless of who wins the election in November, they are not coming to Iraq.

    That is not my opinion, that is not a product of the Republican Smear Machine…that is an official statement from the governments of the nations in question, stating unequivocally that they are not going to be a part of a coalition that is against their interests even if it is lead by an American who went to Swiss schools and speaks fluent French.

    Is it possible to put this any more plainly? They do not have any meaningful capability, and they are publicly pledging that their lack of meaningful capability is…not…coming.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    That essay, like Bill Whittle's earlier Strength masterpiece, is a must-read.

    What's also a must-read (and a masterpiece in its own right) is today's Carnival of the Vanities, hosted by Beck at Incite. Beck reviews over fifty entries, and his beautiful writing is matched only by the striking graphics. It's real art all the way through, and the sheer quantity and quality of the posts is evidence that the blogosphere is a potent force which is here to stay. (Ignore us at your peril, Old Media!)

    Beck put a lot of work into this, which I won't spoil by reviewing any of them myself (besides, I don't have time!).

    The kind words about Classical Values are deeply appreciated. (But when I read Bill Whittle, or the current Carnival, my entry hardly seems gargantuan!)

    posted by Eric at 03:33 PM

    "Let them eat Tostitos!"

    I see that Michael Moore is offering free underwear and such things as "a clean dorm room, a year's supply of Tostitos and a package of Ramen noodles" in exchange for a pledge to vote for John Kerry.

    (Interestingly, pajamas were not part of Michael Moore's offering.)

    Because illegal contracts are unenforceable, there's nothing to stop the "bribed" voters from taking the underwear and either not voting at all, or voting for Bush as a way of protesting this obvious power imbalance. Michael Moore is a rich Hollywood fatcat who travels everywhere with bodyguards. While the "slackers" to whom he appeals may be in no position for arms-length bargaining (and thus might be tempted to take whatever Moore offers them), it's a little condescending of Moore to imagine that just because someone is down on his luck, he'd automatically be for Kerry. I knew a homeless man who voted for Bob Dole in 1996. He happened to be an intelligent, well-read human being who just couldn't handle the pressures of society, and opted to live in a carefully hidden tent. He saw big government and butt-into-your-life, welfare state bureaucrats as the enemy. (So do a lot of people -- whether or not they manage to cope with society's pressures.)

    Michael Moore's assumption that he speaks for "slackers" everywhere is incredibly condescending. This is not to say that those he calls slackers should vote for Bush; only that they are human beings -- and as such they are entitled to the dignity of at least being allowed to think for themselves.

    Slackers, just say no to the tyranny of identity politics!

    posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (5)

    You heard it ... John Edwards said that Kerry is the one candidate who puts people behind crime.

    MORE: Did you catch Edwards pretending to be confused when Gwen Ifill mistakenly gave him 30 seconds to respond though he'd already had his time? He tried to get away with it for a bit, then flashed his phony smile, asked if she'd figured out that she was wrong, deferred "in fairness."

    That doesn't sound like fairness, but rather sleeziness caught red-handed.

    posted by Dennis at 10:19 PM

    A convoy (for want of a better term) of ten military helicopters just passed low overhead.

    It's times like these when I begin to think seriously again about terror threats and realize if only minutely what our friends elsewhere in the globe are experiencing everyday.

    I hope all I ever experience is a transport or a training maneuver.

    posted by Dennis at 07:43 PM

    Some people just hate free speech!

    Things sure are heating up in the blogosphere!

    Kevin at Wizbang is being threatened with a lawsuit for attacking the veracity of a Utah State professor's rather valiant attempt to prove the forgery is not a forgery after all:

    ...the newly proclaimed journalists of the blogosphere might want to pause for a moment and consider some advice from a journalist who has been through a few document wars and court threats: If you're going to level serious charges of unethical or scandalous or especially criminal behavior, then you had by God better be ready to back it up in court.

    There remains in full force today a body of libel law that makes it posssible for aggrieved parties to file civil actions against persons who level such charges in public and in print, and the mere fig leaf of free-speech rights will not protect you if you have failed to meet basic standards of truthfulness, fairness and factuality. This is as true for bloggers as it is for the ink-stained wretches who man the front lines of actual print publications.

    Now, it's true that for public figures -- thanks to New York Times v. Sullivan, libel laws are nearly unusable for anyone who rises to the level of "public figure." That's because public figures now must be able to establish "malicious intent" on the part of the libeler, and such proof is a real rarity. However, this limitation does not hold for private figures such as Dr. Hailey (though it may, in fact, for the university).

    So here's what is probably about to happen: USU's attorneys will send legal letters to the Wizbang authors demanding a full retraction (and, if justice is served, a full apology to both Hailey and the university), upon pain of facing a civil action for libel. If the authors refuse, then they'll be served with more papers detailing the civil lawsuit filed against them.

    It's ugly, but it's a hard, cold fact of the real world of journalism.

    In any event, the Wizbang authors may soon find themselves wishing they had applied a little old-fashioned journalistic prudence before rushing to print with their manifestly reckless accusations.

    But in the process, they may provide a useful object lesson for us all.

    (Gee! Maybe they should ask John Dean for useful object lessons....)

    According to Kevin Aylward, it's Neiwart who's stirring things up:

    Neiwert is also the one spreading the story that the university is going to sue Wizbang. I was not unaware of these claims, as Hailey called me out of the blue last week, but I choose not is going to sue Wizbang. I was not unaware of these claims, as Hailey called me out of the blue last week, but I choose not to publish them because Hailey does not speak for the university. My contact with university officials and local reporters who have interviewed university officials has satisfied me (for now) that we are not being targeted by the university for legal action. For loudly and publicly providing a forum for Hailey to issue threats of litigation on behalf of Utah State, wouldn't it be ironic if it is Neiwert who causes the most harm to Hailey reputation at the university.
    People who contemplate or encourage defamation lawsuits should remember that truth is a defense. And that a legal process called "discovery" can be most unpleasant.

    Considering what he said about Glenn Reynolds, I don't think Mr. Neiwert is in the best position to be delivering moral lectures.

    UPDATE: Armed Liberal comments on the uproar, and adds these words of wisdom:

    Niewert and his commenters seem to believe that it's right to hide behind lawyer's skirts when challenged in the marketplace of ideas. I'm positive that they wouldn't feel the same way if the shoe was on the other foot....
    And I'm positive that's an understatement!

    posted by Eric at 04:46 PM

    Moore sensitivity awareness?

    One of the things which traditionally distinguished the "politics of the street" from the politics of those in positions of responsibility was that the former tend to use insulting personal language, while the latter generally behave in something approaching a civil manner. Similarly, children are more likely to call each other names than are adults.

    This was on my mind last month as I attempted to analyze Teresa Heinz Kerry's statement that anyone who refused to support her husband's health-care plan was "an idiot." While I did write a post about that, I found myself thinking that it really wasn't worth much time, as it was probably an aberration brought on by mounting campaign pressures and emotion.

    Certainly, I thought, they won't do that again.

    Today, I am stunned to see an even more outrageous statement from John Edwards:

    ....if you live in the United States of America and you vote for George Bush, you've lost your mind.
    Edwards is not an emotionally distraught candidate's wife, and this is no longer the first time.

    Once may be aberrational; twice is policy.

    While it's true that Michael Moore described Americans as possibly "the dumbest people on the planet," and it's also (unfortunately) true that his politics have entered the Democratic mainstream, has it been forgotten that Michael Moore wasn't running for high office when he said that?

    Don't the Democrats realize that by calling them idiots and mental cases, they've slandered and insulted at least half of the American voters, and demonstrated a clear intent to intimidate the rest? More than an attack on American voters, it's an attack on civility in American public life.

    Of course, without a doubt it's also the dumbest campaign strategy I have ever seen.

    (Perhaps that's just as well.)

    UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds shares a photoblog report on Republican victims of a political drive-by shooting in his town, and wonders,

    Perhaps tonight someone should ask John Edwards how he feels about such violent behavior.
    Well, Edwards has already made it clear that the "victims" in this incident suffer from mental health problems, and Glenn Reynolds admits that "many of them were armed." Shouldn't they at least have their guns taken away in order to prevent escalating cycles of violence?

    posted by Eric at 03:36 PM

    Not much time left for questioning the timing!

    Kerry and the Democrats have finally decided to play the Saudi card:

    In the final month of the campaign, Democrats are increasingly tying the White House to the Saudi Arabian royal family, a line of attack that they say is highly effective, but it has stirred concern among Saudi officials.

    Senator John Kerry and the Democratic Party introduced two new advertisements this weekend that criticize President Bush's administration as giving the family "special favors" and as having an overreliance on Saudi Arabia for oil.

    And the Media Fund, a Democratic group, said yesterday that it would spend $6.5 million to run advertisements hitting the Saudi theme still harder in Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin during the next couple of weeks.

    Officials with the Media Fund said they decided to do so after a test run in St. Louis late last month produced what they said were unexpectedly good results with voters.

    The line of attack is reminiscent of "Fahrenheit 9/11," the anti-Bush documentary by Michael Moore that highlights what it call Mr. Bush's ties to the Saudi royal family.

    Mr. Kerry's new advertisements imply that ties between the president and the Saudis have caused Mr. Bush to take a slack line against the Saudis on oil prices - a message Kerry aides say they hope will resonate particularly well in the days before Mr. Kerry's Friday debate on domestic issues with Mr. Bush.

    "The Saudi royal family gets special favors, while our gas prices skyrocket," an announcer says in one spot as the screen flashes a picture of Crown Prince Abdullah. In another, Mr. Kerry says, "I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation, not the Saudi royal family."

    Tad Devine, a senior strategist for Mr. Kerry, said in an interview: "The heart of their policy is to benefit the powerful and the privileged. Bush is beholden to powerful interests and not the American people."

    Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for Mr. Bush, said: "It's the mainstreaming of Michael Moore. What's unusual is that conspiracies would be adopted as mainstream messages by John Kerry, who's running for president of the United States."

    The problem for Bush and the Republicans is that if they sit back and do nothing, this could be a successful strategy. The problem for Kerry is that Saudi money has been pouring into Democrat coffers for just as long -- making the Kerry campaign's accusation disingenuous.

    Personally, I'd like to see Saudi money entirely out of U.S. politics. I'd also like to see regime change in Saudi Arabia, although it's a valid concern that many alternatives to the present setup could turn out to be worse.

    These last minute hardball strategies invite similar tactics, and, while the Democrats are also infected with Saudi money (and thus in no position to play the Saudi card successfully), there's also the issue of entanglement and funding of radical Islamist causes. And why does Kerry have such a pliant attitude towards the Iranian mullahcracy? Might it be that he doesn't want to offend certain top contributors?

    Perhaps the last-minute Saudi strategy is meant to coincide with today's release of Michael Moore's latest DVD. As a longterm campaign theme, it wouldn't have worked.

    Still, I think this is just a warmup.

    The last minute attacks have yet to begin in earnest.

    posted by Eric at 08:58 AM | Comments (3)

    Moore Lies?

    Michael Moore is quoted at RatherBiased as saying that he had been offered the faked CBS memos during the production of Fahrenheit 9-11:

    "Back when I was making Fahrenheit, I was offered the same documents that were given to CBS but I didn't use them because we couldn't verify them," Moore said following a speech at the University of Central Arkansas.

    Dr. Rick Scott, the university's honors program director, told that Moore said he had a three-tiered-system of fact checking which led him to believe the documents were not valid.

    But I smell a rat.

    For Moore to claim that he'd rejected the same memos allows him to create the illusion that everything that made it into his film is pure fact, confirmed by a rigorous "three-tiered system." For those who stand opposite him politically to repeat the claim threatens an air of legitimacy. It may not mean much to have higher journalistic standards than CBS these days, but there's no sense inadvertently aiding the reputation of a lunatic.

    His motive is probably a combination of self-promotion and damage control:

    The anti-Bush filmmaker said that he was unhappy with CBS for using the fakes in a report, implying that the Memogate controversy had aided the president's reelection campaign.

    I see that one anonymous commenter at RatherBiased noted something posted by Moore on his own site that seems to contradict the claim:


    If Moore's telling the truth about rejecting the CBS docs, how does he explain this on his own site?

    Later today (Wed.), the Boston Globe, the A.P. and Dan Rather all present new and damning information about how George W. Bush got moved to the front of the line to get in the Texas Air National Guard, and how he then went AWOL. I am putting every ounce of trust I have in my fellow Americans that a majority of them get this, get the injustice of it all, and get the sad, sick twisted irony of how it relates very, very much to our precious Election 2004.

    posted by Dennis at 12:52 AM

    Unenumerated extensions

    Here's a wonderful quote with which I wholeheartedly agree:

    GUNS AND GAYS: It's often struck me that opposition to gay rights, and opposition to gun ownership, have a lot in common.
    So says Glenn Reynolds, whose remark that he'd be "delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons" made this blogger happily spill his coffee!

    The strange logic at the root of both gun control and penis control was a major reason I started blogging. Gun control and penis control are extensions of the same, um, uh....

    I didn't mean for it to come out that way, but I think readers will understand!

    It just so happens that in our Bill of Rights, guns were enumerated and penises were not. That does not diminish freedom, nor does it in any way justify those who'd take it away.

    My blogfather Jeff weighed in on the enumerated rights issue:

    .......common sense is not enumerated in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights and judges do not have to invoke it to support or deny rights based on current beliefs or mores.

    This is why there was such an outcry about the Supreme Court decision overturning the sodomy statutes in Texas. I'm glad it happened but I can understand why many were disturbed by it. The natural defense is that the law there violated the right to privacy. I agree with that. The natural opposition to the ruling was that it violated home rule. I almost agree with that.

    All too often, people think freedom should be limited according to their own tastes. A friend once told me, "I don't like guns, so I don't think they should be allowed!" Many people feel the same way about gay sex. But freedom isn't about merely doing what you like or allowing others do what you like; it's acknowledging that just as others shouldn't stop you from doing what you like, so should you not stop them, as long as they don't mess with you.

    Of course, many people are threatened by the concept of freedom.

    As an afterthought, I guess we should count ourselves lucky that at least some rights were enumerated, because with the restrictive view some have of freedom, what would there be left?

    In Federalist Number 84, Alexander Hamilton scoffed at the idea that this could happen:

    .....bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?
    States alone had most of the power in those days. I am not a states rights fanatic, but it is naive to imagine that the police power once held by the states would just disappear once the kindly and magnanimous federal government took over. It always struck me as safer to see power diffused. Even tyranny, if spotty and localized, is less totalitarian in nature than federal power decreed from above. Drug laws are a perfect example. There is no drug amendment, so under Hamilton's reasoning the federal government is without power to regulate drugs. Which should mean that New York could in theory prohibit marijuana and New Jersey allow it. (Just try that today!) A federal government which bestows freedom in one setting can take it away in another.

    (This issue is of course far from settled, even if I'm settling for sleep now.)

    posted by Eric at 11:04 PM | Comments (3)

    Breaking into Osama's mind!

    A friend who insists that Henry Kissinger is planning to vote for John Kerry (he won't reveal sources but claims they're reliable) has emailed me a link to something even more interesting -- John Dean's claim that Osama Bin Laden favors the Bush/Cheney ticket:

    Without Doubt Osama Would Like Bush and Cheney Reelected

    Can there be any doubt about who Osama would like to see in the White House?

    I think not. Let me explain.

    In my book, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, I included a detailed examination of the Bush-Cheney record on terrorism from 9/11 to February 2004 (when the book went to press). I noted much tough talk, and over-reaction by Bush and Cheney. I also concluded that such tactics will only entice and encourage terrorists "to up the ante toward a worse-case scenario."

    Today, that reality is only clearer, as I have continued to examine the goals of the terrorists. As prolific writer Joseph Coates explains, terrorists have clear goals: they "seek to prove that governments cannot protect their people." By committing terrorist acts, they hope to provoke an extreme response, "the more extreme the better" - for such a response aids them in recruitment, and arouses hostility toward the responder.

    In his recent essay, law professor Oren Gross described a similar dynamic: he believes that by forcing excessive response, terrorists seek to destroy the fabric of democracy, discredit the government, alienate citizens, and undermine the moral basis of the government's actions.

    What better way to convince other Islamic fundamentalists that the West shouldn't be in the Middle East, than for a Western country - in an extreme response only tenuously connected, if at all, to a terrorist attack - to wage a preemptive bloody war in the Middle East? Even better, that this war would be justified by the need to prevent the use of dangerous weapons that turn out not to exist.

    Bush and Cheney have to be Osama's dream team for November. They have all but promised even more extreme responses in the future, which surely must please Osama.

    John Dean has long fascinated me, especially since I researched his true role in Watergate. I'm convinced that the order to burglarize the Watergate came from Dean, and that he sent the burglars in on his own personal business. As I've mentioned before, Dean disavowed his book Blind Ambition, long considered the leading "true story" of Watergate, and not only denied writing it, but claimed ghost writer Taylor Branch made key portions up "out of whole cloth" (which Branch, a Pultizer Prize winning author, denies).

    Dean is the last person I would believe about anything, much less matters beyond his knowledge and expertise. His assertion that Osama wants Bush elected is typical fare.

    And, as also typifies Dean, his assertion is unoriginal. Back in June an anonymous CIA source made much the same argument, saying that al Qaida wanted Bush relected so badly that they'd commit a major act of terrorism to unite the country behind him. It doesn't make sense now, just as it didn't sense in June:

    This ties in quite well with the well-worn canard that Bush supports al Qaida, of course. It sounds as if someone wants to pre-empt any damage that a terrorist attack might cause the Kerry campaign.

    But if the theory is right, then that must also mean that if al Qaida fails to launch a pre-election attack, that they pulled their punches to help Kerry.

    By making the voters think what? That everything is OK now, so there's no need to keep a hawk in the White House? Then what? That there'd be no more attacks -- in order to keep Kerry in?

    Somehow, it's not making a whole lot of sense to me.

    It's making even less sense now.

    Assume for the sake of argument that Osama bin Laden really and truly wants Bush to win. How might Osama assist? By means of the terrorist attack others have predicted? The problem with that argument is that in Spain, the al Qaida attack intimidated voters to reject the incumbent government. Americans are not as easily intimidated, though, and bin Laden knows this. Thus, it could be argued that refraining from terrorism right now would be the best way to defeat Bush! (This assumes, of course, that al Qaida has decided to implement a new strategy of refraining from terrorism!)

    Such arguments will continue to go in crazy what-if circles, and encourage new speculation. (If the major terrorist attack is too difficult to pull off now, then why couldn't Osama simply endorse Kerry as reverse psychology?)

    Implicit in the central premise that the terrorists seek to provoke the United States into overreaction is the idea that we should do nothing which might be seen as a provocation, lest that help the terrorists' cause.

    That makes about as much sense as not provoking Hitler, lest his complaints about provocations be validated. "Not provoking" Hitler didn't work. Nor did not provoking bin Laden. We had plenty of time to try defeating the enemy by not-provoking him. Since 9/11, it's been too late. Anything and everything we do is seen as a provocation.

    Could it be that John Dean doesn't believe in winning wars?

    posted by Eric at 04:14 PM | Comments (2)

    Coping is not always honorable
    ....sometimes honor consists in admitting you fucked up.

    -- Gary Indiana

    None other than the author of the above words recently advised me that I fucked up in a previous post, by misidentifying him as the author of Salo.

    Gary Indiana, it should be noted, is NOT the author of Salo the film, but of Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom -- an important book about the film.

    He's also been described as "one of the most important chroniclers of the American psyche" by the Guardian, so I think I should take his criticism seriously enough to warrant this separate post.

    Here's Mr. Indiana's email to me:

    > Sweetie,
    > I think you should go back to school for a while:
    > Pier Paolo Pasolini
    > made the film "Salo," a landmark of film history, in
    > 1975, not me.
    > Before you start faulting other people's logic,
    > perhaps you should have
    > a more direct encounter with the world of facts than
    > you seem to have
    > had thusfar.
    > Best,
    > Gary Indiana

    I apologized to the author in an email, in an update, and here again. I repeat, he is not the author of the film! I should have known that, because I saw the film in the 1970s, and knew that it was a Pasolini film. So, I can't even offer an excuse. I was in a hurry, I guess.

    As to Mr. Indiana's advice, I would certainly love to go back to school for a while. But I'm not sure that even that would prevent me from making such factual errors. All I can do is note them as I become aware of them.

    So much for the direct part of today's "direct encounter with facts." As to "faulting other people's logic" I'll continue to do that, and if I make mistakes (with logic or facts), I'll be glad to acknowledge either. In any case, the logic of my post was not dependent on whether Mr. Indiana's wrote Salo; only his unquestioned familiarity with the subject material.

    Here were my assertions (not all of which were based on logic):

    1. I just can't seem to take "the systemic and implacable evils of maintaining an empire that is inherently vampiric and suicidal" as a "given." Might as well parse out a sentence begining with "given that you are a child-molesting crack addict...."

    I still can't take it as a logical presupposition that the United States is an inherently vampiric and suicidal empire. Or a "terrorist oligarchy." These and other assertions are offered without proof, and none of them depend on Gary Indiana's status as author of any film or book.

    2. I have never seen so many unsupported ad hominem attacks in a book review.

    Well, I haven't. This is not to day that there may not be another review which contains more; just that I haven't seen it. Which may be more evidence that I need to return to school for a while.

    3. But perhaps he pulled a few punches, for the reviewer didn't accuse Bush of torturing children at parties. ("Gary Indiana", it should be noted, authored the famous fascist-erotic child torture film, Salò.)

    This is not a logical argument, nor is it an attempt to fault Mr. Indiana's actual logic. It's just my speculation he might have pulled punches. Hey, I pull punches all the time, for what its worth. It's not even a criticism. My mistake about Salo, while inexcusable, does not affect my speculation; hence, if I said, "'Gary Indiana', it should be noted, authored a book about the famous fascist-erotic child torture film, Salò," my speculation would probably have been the same. But looking back, I admit that it was unnecessarily argumentative (and insinuatory) for me to suggest that Mr. Indiana pulled punches by not saying that Bush tortures children. I was probably irritated at the time, and I apologize for that too. In my defense, I note that when I'm blogging, being argumentative and even suggestive, are, well, part of the flow, and just expected! I am sorry for suggesting that Mr. Indiana might think (but not state in writing) that Bush tortures children. At parties or anywhere else.

    4. Plus, he was fair enough to chide Bill Clinton -- if only for being gracious to Barbara Bush, the new queen of evil.

    While what I said was true -- Mr. Indiana did chide Bill Clinton for being gracious to Barbara Bush -- my tone was sarcastic, and sarcasm is one of my habits. It may be a bad habit, and maybe I should work on it. But once again, that is one of the things that makes blogging what it is. Sarcasm abounds. It might not be up to the standards of George Washington, but I'm not George Washington! (Useful Washington link via Glenn Reynolds.)

    I ended that post with a question, "Are things getting nasty or what?" I did think that the things Mr. Indiana wrote were nasty, and I may have weakened my argument by treating such nastiness in a sarcastic or offhanded manner.

    I was getting a little tired of it all, and I still am. Sarcasm is just a coping mechanism. (I once imagined that blogging was too.)

    posted by Eric at 08:08 AM | Comments (1)

    Classical reference watch

    I thought about posting this at the Campus, but I haven't posted here in awhile and the subject seems to be leaning this way.

    In David Brooks' assessment of the debate there was my friend Kristin's favorite classical reference, Archilochus fr. 201:

    πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα.

    "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog one big thing."

    On second thought maybe that's an archaic reference ...

    That's all that survives of the fragment. There's no context which means that scholars and many others can do whatever they'd like with it.

    It's become so popular that Brooks can cite it as a cliche and move on. He cast Bush as the hedgehog (as others have done of Bush and even Reagan) and Kerry as the fox.

    Traditionally interpreters give the hedgehog the advantage.

    posted by Dennis at 09:15 PM | Comments (2)

    And in this corner!
    Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?


    So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.


    ....the craftier and shrewder someone is, the more envied and mistrusted he becomes when his reputation for honesty has been lost.


    I patiently held my tongue while Cicero was compared unfavorably to Kerry. (As a debater, Kerry was called "better than Cicero" by Bush strategist Matthew Dowd.)

    But now that I see that accusations of cheating by Kerry have become mainstream news, I feel obligated to defend Cicero's honor, as ridiculous as that might seem.

    I say "ridiculous" because Cicero is considered to be one of the most honest men in history (honest to a fault, really):

    It may be doubted, indeed, whether any individual ever rose to power by more virtuous and truly honourable conduct; the integrity of his public life was only equalled by the correctness of his private morals; and it may at first sight excite our wonder that a course so splendidly begun should afterwards so little fulfil its early promise.


    His merits are of another kind and in a higher order of excellence. Antiquity may be challenged to produce a man more virtuous, more perfectly amiable than Cicero. None interest more in their life, none excite more painful emotions in their death. Others, it is true, may be found of loftier and more heroic character, who awe and subdue the mind by the grandeur of their views, or the intensity of their exertions. But {257} Cicero engages our affections by the integrity of his public conduct, the correctness of his private life, the generosity [Note 35], placability, and kindness of his heart, the playfulness of his wit, the warmth of his domestic attachments.

    Kerry is of course a skilled debater, but he and Cicero are not cut from the same cloth. Cicero,while a great debater, was nonetheless concerned with ultimate truths -- and thus his writings and philosophy have withstood the test of time. Kerry is concerned with winning.

    I must ask: precisely what is the purpose of debate? To win a contest or arrive at truth? What does it have to do with the presidency of the United States? If winning a debating contest is the goal, then it's all a game.

    Might as well have Bush and Kerry each throw a javelin. We already know which man is taller; should we see who can run the fastest, jump the highest?


    How might Cicero weigh in?


    (I think he's not amused....)

    UPDATE: This is highly un-Ciceronian!

    Obviously, it's time to keep all eyes on the ball, and not lose perspective.....


    posted by Eric at 04:54 PM | Comments (2)

    Finding -- and defending -- the underlying truth!

    I've been bothered by what seemed like an apparent lie by Kerry, but the more I looked at the underlying facts, the more I realized it wasn't all that much of a lie. Just a little error in explaining the timing of the error in the timing, more or less. A cultural misunderstanding which can be easily put to rest. Not even a contradiction, really, despite what some people might think.

    So (albeit with a heavy heart), now I am forced to defend Kerry!

    Let's start with Kerry's most famous quote to date:

    I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it"
    Yes, he did say that.

    But here, (via Tom Maguire) is his explanation of the flub:

    It just was a very inarticulate way of saying something, and I had one of those inarticulate moments late in the evening when I was dead tired in the primaries, and I didn't say something very clearly," Mr. Kerry said on the ABC program "Good Morning America."
    As Tom Maguire shows (by citing ABC News, AND the official schedule) the statement was made at high noon.
    West Virginia - Huntington, WV - Doors open at 11:00 am
    John Kerry will host a Town Hall Meeting with Veterans at the Francis-Booth Experimental Theater at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.
    If we take a narrow view of the above facts, it does appear that Kerry lied about when he made the statement, for it cannot have been both High Noon and "late in the evening" at the same time.

    But isn't that a little superficial?

    After all, as most of us know, no "lie" can be viewed in isolation from the truths which underlie the lie! So, once it is shown that Kerry's statement substantially conforms to the real underlying truth, then it cannot truthfully be a lie, right?

    By providing the key underlying facts, Tom Maguire once again proved most helpful:

    Many of Mr. Kerry's oldest friends express exasperation at his willingness to drift at times in his campaigns. His tendency to focus best in the crunch is a longtime habit, dating at least to his days as a champion debater at Yale, and one that cannot be explained as a result of mere procrastination or inattention.

    "He was so incredibly overcommitted to activities, it was hard getting him together," said Bradford Snell, one of his debate partners in those days. "At 11 or 12 midnight the day before, I'd finally be able to corral him. When his back is up against the wall, the adrenaline starts flowing and he just does phenomenal things. It's a last-minute, rush-type operation."

    What this means is that Kerry is at his best late at night when the pressure's on. It would be unreasonable to expect him to be at high dudgeon in the middle of another boring day at another boring event in another boring state which happens this time to be called "West Virginia."

    Obviously, what Kerry meant to say was this:

    It just was a very inarticulate way of saying something, and I had one of those inarticulate moments in the middle of the day when I was incredibly overcommitted to activities, not in the crunch, and willing to drift, and I didn't say something very clearly.
    Here's the problem: Kerry has to deal with an ignorant mob of unwashed middle class and working class Americans, most of whom wouldn't understand the complexities of a man whose attention span wanders when he's forced to meet and greet them at boring events in the middle of flyover country. So, if Kerry told the strictly literal version of the truth, they might find it harder to believe than the same truth would be were it packaged in a manner more appopriate to their tastes.

    Seen in this context, it becomes clear that Kerry was merely putting the explanation into words ordinary people would understand.

    To call it lying is a typical example of a mean-spirited, right-wing lie!

    posted by Eric at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)

    An old story made new?

    60 Minutes original creator and producer Don Hewitt says he wouldn't have run the Rathergate forged memo story at all:

    Speaking on a South Dakota Public Broadcasting radio show, Hewitt said the story was an old one that had already been dealt with in the 2000 presidential campaign.

    "I never would have done the story," said Hewitt, who retired in June as the show's executive producer after 36 years.

    "I would have been very wary injecting myself into a campaign. You've got to be very careful that you're not perceived as doing the job that one of the two candidates should be doing himself."

    True. It's old. The allegations themselves were raised and debated in 1999. (See my previous post.) Perhaps Rather thought that the American political memory is so short that he could spin this as new.

    But, thinking it over, is it really fair to accuse Rather of regurgitating old news?

    Haven't the forgeries been shown to be new memos?

    posted by Eric at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

    Unfriendly ghosts? At the Washington Post?

    Dianne Feinstein has asked -- and others want to know -- who wrote Allawi's speech?

    "I want to express my profound dismay about reports that officials from your administration and your reelection campaign were 'heavily involved' in writing parts of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's speech," California Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote in a letter to President George W. Bush (news - web sites).

    "You may be surprised by this, Mr. President, but I viewed Prime Minister Allawis speech as an independent view on conditions in Iraq (news - web sites)," she wrote.

    "His speech gave me hope that reconstruction efforts were proceeding in most of the country and that elections could be held on schedule."

    "To learn that this was not an independent view, but one that was massaged by your campaign operatives, jaundices the speech and reduces the credibility of his remarks," Feinstein wrote.

    Intrigued by these assertions, I decided to read the quotes alleged by the Washington Post's Dana Milbank to have been scripted for "puppet" Allawi by Bush's ghostwriting minions. (For reader ease, Bush/Allawi similarities from the Milbank catalogue are in red.)

    "The world is better off without Saddam Hussein." -- Allawi

    "The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power." -- Bush

    But Kerry himself said the same thing:

    'those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein and those who believe we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgement to be president or the credibility to be elected president'"
    Who's the real plagiarist here?

    "There are terrorists . . . who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization." -- Allawi

    "The killers know that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror." -- Bush

    Nice try, but not close enough. The quote Milbank attributes to the Bush "ghostwriters" is quite dissimilar compared to the one Allawi obviously STOLE -- not from Bush, but from Democrat Joe Lieberman!

    Lieberman noted: "The battleground in Iraq is the main battleground in the war on terror."
    More recently, here's Tony Blair, borrowing from the Lieberman quote,
    "What this latest terrorist outrage shows us is that this is a war. Its main battleground is Iraq."
    Aren't Lieberman and Blair important enough to be credited when Iraq's president quotes their words? To drag Bush into this -- when his words ("central front") were so different from Lieberman's ("main battleground") -- makes me wonder whether Mr. Milbank is (dare I say it?) stretching the facts to fit an agenda.....

    "It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding." -- Allawi

    "It's tough at times . . . but there is steady progress." -- Bush

    From what I can see, it was Dennis Hastert who coined the very unique expression, "steady progress."

    "The president and I agree that we need to bring closure to the remaining differences between the House and Senate," Hastert wrote, adding that negotiators have made "slow but steady progress" and are "very close to completing a balanced bill."
    But as my research reveals, it was none other than Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan who first used both "tough struggle" and "steady progress" in a speech:
    A retrospective look at the conception and subsequent development of the state of our forefathers graphically substantiates the fact that they waged a historically difficult and tough struggle for the benefit of their descendants and for the preservation of their statehood.

    The main prerequisite for our sustainable, steady progress is consolidation of our society in achieving the goals we've set, unity of all the walks and groups of population as to the strategy aimed at settling common problems.

    I'd say Bush and Allawi are both in President Nazarbayev's debt on this one.

    Next we come to the disturbing images:

    "I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing." -- Allawi

    "The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens." -- Bush

    Again, not a historic first for either world leader. The very term "horrible scenes" was used by Bill Clinton to deter Americans from joining religious cults:

    I hope very much that others who will be tempted to join cults and to become involved with people like David Koresh will be deterred by the horrible scenes they have seen over the last seven weeks.
    Perhaps echoing Clinton Saudi Prince Abdullah used the identical term to describe 9/11!
    Pledging a "merciless war" against terror and recalling a day of "horrible scenes of carnage," Crown Prince Abdullah sent an emotional letter to President Bush Tuesday assuring him of the continued friendship and cooperation of Saudi Arabia a year after the Sept. 11 attacks.
    Not only that, but even some of the people who support the other side have used the term:
    After the horrible scenes from Fallugah Iraq we see clearly that the Imperial mis-adventure of the U.S. will bear the most bitter fruit. It may be hard at this time for many on the progressive side of the fence to confront, but it is our duty to recognize the legitimate right of the Iraqi people to struggle to throw out the foreign occupiers who have denied them their sovereignty and who wish, under the cover of a “good deed,“ to plunder that nation‘s wealth. As was the French resistance to the Nazis a just cause, the efforts of Iraq’s citizens is equally justified. We will not, of course, rejoice in the barbarity that has been unleashed. But we know by whom and for what motives this has all come about.
    In any case President Allawi (much to his credit, despite the accusations of being a Bush ventriloquist dummy) did not use the term "horrible scenes." Rather, he spoke of images which were disturbing.

    In light of further research, I am surprised that anyone working for the Washington Post would ever attribute such language to Bush! The Post used the exact same words -- a full nine months before Bush was president! -- to describe the federal kidnaping of Elian Gonzalez:

    It is one of the most disturbing images of the year: a burly federal officer, helmeted, goggled, wearing a flak jacket, battle fatigues and shooter's gloves designed to protect the hand but permit the prehensility of the trigger finger, confronting a screaming child and the man who protects him.
    And if the Post read their own film reviews, surely they'd know that "disturbing images" was the reason Fahrenheit 9/11 got an "R" rating:
    The Motion Picture Association of America's appeals board rejected the film distributor's last-ditch effort to reduce its R rating for "violent and disturbing images" and a few curse words. Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films Releasing, argued that 15- and 16-year-olds, who might end up fighting in the war on terrorism, should be able to see the anti-Bush polemic, which shows gravely wounded Iraqi citizens and U.S. troops.
    Why wasn't Allawi accused of being a Hollywood MPAA puppet?

    Iraq is "emerging finally from dark ages of violence." -- Allawi

    "Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny." -- Bush

    "Dark Ages of violence?" Once again, all signs point to the Washington Post as ghostwriter! A Post ghost used the term in 2001 -- ironically in reference to "Western Christendom" during Baghdad's golden age:

    For if Western Christendom was sunk in the Dark Ages of violence, ignorance and superstition, the Arabic world of Islam was in its golden age. Baghdad was the most cosmopolitan city in the world -- the Baghdad of Aladdin, Sinbad and "A Thousand and One Nights" -- with gilded mosques and unrivaled centers of learning.
    Sigh. Times change, I guess. (But the Post really ought to study its own language.)

    For the most recent, pre-Allawi use of the term "dark ages of violence," credit goes not to Bush, but to a blogger, Rob at Strike the Root, for using the term in July, 2003:

    If the Brights want to help bring about a new Enlightenment that will lead us out of the Dark Ages of violence and coercion, they should reject the religion of statism and embrace non-violence.
    Of course, it may be argued that the use of terminology such as "dark ages" in a speech is not plagiarism at all, but then, I'm not writing for the Washington Post!

    "Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one." -- Allawi

    "We made a tough decision when it came to Iraq. . . . And we made the right decision when it came to Iraq." -- Bush

    Shall I go on? No one is paying me to do this, you know. I hope people will appreciate how tedious it is to Google every reference to "tough decision" (83,000 hits) and "right decision" (342,000 hits!)-- but these words are standard rhetorical fare in so many contexts that it's almost laughable. Googling "tough decision" and "right decision" together didn't help much. Over 2300 hits -- most of which involved athletic competition. However, I did find this 1996 remark from Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on arming Bosnia:

    We bought time for a combination of American diplomacy, NATO airpower, and Croatian and Bosnian military victories to reach an historic peace agreement under U.S. leadership at Dayton. The United States is leading an international effort to arm Bosnia today. The Iranian presence there is down to a handful and is increasingly marginalized.

    In short, a tough decision turned out to be the right decision.

    It should be noted that Kerry has himself grappled with substantially similar terminology:
    The oxymoronically gifted junior senator from Massachusetts perceived an equivocation between the modalities, "The choice for the United States of America is not between two alternatives only: Staying in or getting out. There are many other choices in between which better reflect the aspirations and hopes of our country."

    Kerry backed a policy of interventionist withdrawal, which jibed with the "third way" option embraced by President Bill Clinton himself. As Kerry noted, "I think that the president today made the right decision to try to establish a process which will maintain the capacity of our forces, protect them, and to disengage while simultaneously upholding the mission we have set out to accomplish."

    The Balkan crisis emerged, and again the Congress seemed to face a tough decision, whether to authorize the use of American force. But then the Boston Fog Machine rolled in: "It is important to remember that this resolution does not authorize the use of American ground troops in Bosnia, nor does it specifically authorize the use of air or naval power. It simply associates the U.S. Senate with the current policies of this administration and of the Security Council." The vote, Kerry concluded, was over whether to associate with a process that would determine certain necessary conditions involving uncertain modalities, which must be explored, in order to reach certain desirable ends.

    The Boston Fog Machine? Who's his ghost writer? And why does Kerry get to blame his mistakes on ghostwriters, while Bush's are held to a standard higher than the Post itself?

    Iraqi forces "are striking their enemies wherever they hide." -- Allawi

    "We're fighting these enemies wherever they hide." -- Bush

    While the Post doesn't get it, both men are obviously paraphrasing (whether unconsciously or tongue-in-cheek I do not know) a well known phrase from the Koran,

    Seize them and slay them wherever you find them....
    "Wherever they hide" is probably a more humane approach to enemies than "wherever you find them" just as "strike" and "fight" are preferable to "seize and slay." I can't be sure, but because I suspect Allawi is a Muslim, I'd be willing to bet that he was aware of the original expression even before Bush.

    "I have come here to . . . promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain." -- Allawi

    "We will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain." -- Bush

    Died in vain? If that doesn't sound familiar, you must have never read a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered in 1862:

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
    (Hint to the Post: it's known as the "Gettysburg Address.") Innumerable speakers have quoted these same words. I heard the phrase countless times in reference to Vietnam. Why wasn't the evil Bush blamed for every such occurence?

    "I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . . We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves." -- Allawi

    "Because we acted, torture rooms are closed, rape rooms no longer exist, mass graves are no longer a possibility in Iraq." -- Bush

    Let's see. Torture, mass graves.... You've got to be kidding. Should I start with Stalin? (2300+)Hitler? (6300+) Cambodia? (3000+)

    There's more, of course. Standard phraseology about the "perversion of Islam" (which neither Bush nor Allawi invented). Statistics about the rebuilding of Iraq (which were doubtless compiled by various experts and are available to the public). Terrorists as a relative percentage of the population. (Duh! It's relatively small, and always has been!) Comparing them to 9/11! (As if no one ever made that comparison before....)

    And finally, Bush stooped so low as to force Allawi to thank America! (I'll just bet no foreign leader has ever done that before!)

    Thank you, America." -- Allawi

    "You need to thank the American people, that's who you need to thank." -- Bush

    That's ghostwriting? Gee, thank God Allawi didn't say "thank God!"

    Holy ghostwriter!

    (Thank God this ordeal is over....)

    posted by Eric at 10:08 AM | Comments (2)

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