Observations on the world today.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Texas Officially a Two-Bit State 

Abilene Reporter News: State

The Texas state quarter is now available.

The people of Texas are thrilled because they learned today that their quarter will actualy have the same area as the Alaska quarter.

The quarter also incorporates the state symbol, the Lone Star - also known as the Texas Browneye or the more honest term of Texas Asshole.



Hussein's Nefarious Ties to ... The Dutch? 

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.
Why is it that none of the mainstream sources are carrying this story?

Oh, wait, I know why. Because it's a non-story. Like the Sarin shell and the mustard gas shells and the mobile chemical labs. Hussein scrapped his weapons and some of the old junk wound up in foreign countries. And which foreign countries were they? Turkey (a coalition member,) The Netherlands (another coalition member,) and Jordan (a longtime US ally that would have been a coalition member if not for the way the US had cozied up to Chalabi.)

Hey, right-wing, wake me if you find any real WMD in say Iraq or Iran or Syria or Lebanon or even North Korea. After all, that's where you had said it was headed. Remember?



Anti-Goglebomb Post 

Just doing my bit to help undo a Goolgebomb. Here is the real site of the Democratic National Convention.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Sour Grapes 

Yahoo! News - Putin Takes Bush's Side Against Democrats on Iraq
Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped into the U.S. political campaign on Thursday, saying the Democrats had "no moral right" to criticize President Bush over Iraq.

The Kremlin leader, answering a reporter's question in Sea Island, Georgia, suggested that the Democrats were two-faced in criticizing Bush on Iraq since it had been the Clinton administration that authorized the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by U.S. and NATO forces.

The reporter had asked Putin to respond to U.S. press articles questioning Russia's place at the G8 feast of leading industrial countries.

Putin brushed these off, saying such articles were part of an internal U.S. political debate.

He went on: "I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same.

"It suffices to recall Yugoslavia. Now look at them. They don't like what President Bush is doing in Iraq."

Russia was adamantly opposed to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, as it has been to the U.S.-led military operation Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.
Some right-wingers are tripping all over themselves using this as evidence that Bush has the support of foreign leaders in his war in Iraq.

The thing about that Putin piece is that Putin fails to understand the democrat position. In both cases, Yugoslavia and Iraq, the democrats were consistent. In both cases, we wanted an international and legally recognized broad coalition before action was taken. Putin criticizes the democrats for taking one position in one instance and another position in the next instance, but he's wrong.

Moreover, Putin is actually criticizing both the American action in Yugoslavia AND the action in Iraq. So for the right to suddenly embrace him for this one back-handed compliment tells me that they just don't understand what they read.



Should We Boycott? 

Coke Benefiting From Child Labor in Sugar Cane Fields
Coca-Cola and other large businesses are indirectly benefiting from the use of child labor in sugarcane fields in El Salvador, according to a new report released here Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which is calling on the company to take more responsibility to ensure that such abuses are halted.

From 5,000 to 30,000 Salvadoran children, some as young as eight years old, are working in El Salvador's sugarcane plantations where injuries, particularly severe cuts, are common, according to the report, 'Turning a Blind Eye: Hazardous Labor in El Salvador's Sugarcane Cultivation.'

Under Salvadoran law, 18 is the minimum age for dangerous work and 14 for most other kinds. But the relevant provisions generally go unenforced in part because the children are hired as "helpers," rather than employees that would entitle them to certain protections.
Umm, I'm not sure if this is really a hugely significant issue.

Besides, if we ban Coke for using Salvadoran sugar, does the ban also apply to Diet Coke?



Thursday, June 10, 2004

Bizarro Post 

The New York Times > Washington > Study Ranks Bush Plan to Cut Air Pollution as Weakest of 3
A research firm that the Bush administration commissioned to analyze its plan to lower emissions from coal-fired power plants compared the plan with two competing legislative proposals and concluded in a report released Wednesday that the administration's plan was the weakest.

At the invitation of the environmental coalition Clear the Air, the international research firm Abt Associates, which often conducts studies for the Environmental Protection Agency, used the same methodology in assessing all three. It found that the administration's plan, called the Clear Skies Act, would save as many as 14,000 lives but that the other bills would save more - 16,000 in one case and 22,000 in the other.

The findings, included in a report, "Dirty Air, Dirty Power," were immediately attacked by industry groups as a "repackaged" argument that focused on only one source of emissions. The administration's chief environmental policy adviser echoed the criticism, saying that the administration plan provided benefits as part of an overall strategy to meet air quality standards that were more stringent than ever.
And you know what, I'll bet the administration and the industry groups are telling the absolute truth. Damn those crooked independent researchers.

In other news; I've decided to endorse Bush, change my name to Rosebud and have my spine removed. It all just seems to make sense is all.




Alert: Ohio Counties May Purchase Paperless Voting Machines Before November 2004

Apparently, the number of counties which will definitely be using the paperless voting machines still stands at seven, and the counties which are considering having the machines is now down to only four. Those still considering getting the machines are Trumbull, Mercer, Hardin and Lorain. Three of these are very heavily populated counties.



One-and-a-Half to One - No Turn Over 

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rebels Launch an Array of Attacks Across Iraq
Insurgents staged attacks on American forces and their allies on several fronts today, firing mortars at Iraqi militiamen west of here, setting two critical oil pipelines in the north ablaze and ambushing a military convoy in the capital.

In the holy city of Najaf, in the south, fighters loyal to the rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr moved to seize a police station tonight despite a declared cease-fire, the second such attack in two days.

Today, the cleric's militia, the Mahdi Army, still controlled the holiest Shiite site in Iraq, the golden-domed Shrine of Ali. An aide to Mr. Sadr asserted that officials linked to the militia would have the right to take part in future elections despite a recent order from the American administration saying otherwise.

The various assaults underscored the fact that the United States was still engaged in a wide-ranging war, one that American officials say will likely get worse as the White House tries to return some measure of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.
Between this and the Kurds feeling peeved and all, and what with the US initially refusing to allow the new Iraqi leadership to make their own call on US military actions within their borders but eventually acquiescing; one has to wonder what the book in Vegas on an actual June 30 turn over is now.



Mister Cannot Spare the Dime 

WFSB Reagan supporters want his image on money
Getting their hero's face on the dime may be easier than other goals, such as seeing it etched on Mount Rushmore, but that idea still will be resisted by Democrats defending their own icon, FDR.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a speechwriter in the Reagan White House, plans to introduce a bill to put Reagan on the $20 bill, replacing another venerable Democrat, Andrew Jackson.

That would join a previous proposal, by Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., to provide for dimes bearing the likeness of Reagan. The office of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would pursue an idea he has pushed for several years, placing Reagan on the $10 bill now bearing the visage of Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary.

Chris Butler of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which has the goal of seeing a Reagan commemoration in every American county, said its top legislative priority is the $10 bill. He noted that money can be changed administratively without congressional action, and suggested that Reagan dimes could join, rather than replace, FDR dimes.
It doesn't really matter to me. The coin of the realm is already tainted with a pointless God reference anyway. Who cares whose picture is on the front. But tradition dictates that we wait some several years before snubbing the iconoclasts of the world by creating a graven image of a mortal being.

At any rate, the right may yet see one of their heroes on the ten-spot...

...long before they see their other hero on the dinar...



Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Freedom to .... 

Apparently, thanks to George W. Bush, the people of Afghanistan now feel that they have the freedom to turn our worst nightmares and urban legends into reality.
Ismail is only 10 years old, but the horrors of the past three months will be with him to his grave. He was rescued by the Afghan authorities on Friday, after being kidnapped in March with his brother Ibrahim, 6.

Quietly, he told seeing the bodies of four boys of about his age that had been cut open. "They took us to a mountain where I saw the bodies," he said. "They had taken out the organs. They were on the ground at the bottom of this mountain, then the men took them away. They were boys of about our age. I thought I would not live long when I saw them. I was scared."


(The intelligence chief for the south, Dr Abdullah Laghmani) believes the kidnappers, involved in a worrying rise in the number of disappearing children across the country, planned to sell the kidneys in Pakistan, where patients are prepared to pay large amounts of money for healthy organs.
Next thing you know, they'll be sending email rumors that Kandahar Fried Chicken has been genetically enhanced by exposure to DU ... and it will be true!



Yeah Whatever. 

Power Line: Return of the Vile Wretch
No one ever heard of him until he became notorious for making fun of the widows of Sept. 11 and Marianne Pearl. The liberals then adopted him as their favorite cartoonist and co-favorite pundit, along with Michael Moore and Al Franken.
Look, I don't especially like what Rall writes much of the time. And I know that other liberal blogs took him to task for the cartoon he did about Pat Tillman. But, except for the last comment on his Reagan post (which was distasteful) everything else that he wrote was historically accurate and fair. But that doesn't mean that I agree with his technique. IMO, he's the liberal equivilant of Michael Savage.



When the President Does It, That Means That It's Not Illegal. 

This is a memo requested by the Bush administration in the lead up to the war in Iraq. The administration was concerned even then about the possibility that their torture plans would become problematic, so they got legal advice on how to avoid being charged with war crimes from the Pentagon's Office of General Counsel. They also had one written up by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and one written by white house counsel. Here is the story as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The advice was part of a classified report on interrogation methods prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained in late 2002 that with conventional methods they weren't getting enough information from prisoners.
These are either the worst and most unethical lawyers in the history of the practice, or every lawyer is now Tom Hagen.

By the way, about the title of this post. That's a quote from Richard Nixon. Think about it.



Tuesday, June 08, 2004

People of Faith - & Me Too 

FaithfulAmerica.org - Torture in Iraq - Let's Tell the Arab World How We Feel

True Majority sent me a link to the above group and their ad. This is a truly great idea. I strongly endorse the ad and encourage even my atheist friends to endorse this ad.



Monday, June 07, 2004

Lying in State 

Yahoo! News - Reagan's Body to Lie in State in U.S. Capitol:
Following an hour-long private ceremony with family members Monday morning, Reagan's body will lie in repose from noon through Tuesday evening at the Main Lobby of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California., Drake said. The body will be flown to Washington on Wednesday.
Well, it's not like there is no precedent.

Hey, I'm just sayin'...



I Scoff 

FrontPage magazine.com :: Liberal Rage by Keith Burgess-Jackson

I was recenty introduced to this article on a message board. The entire article basically screams for a rebuttal, so here I am.
Liberal Rage

By Keith Burgess-Jackson

Why are liberals such as Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, and Howard Dean so angry and aggressive?
You mean aside from the fact that our election was stolen, and we have been lied to on a regular basis to justify the destruction of the entire New Deal and to railroad through programs that we fought against for generations?
I like to think that I have insight into this matter, since I was a liberal for a long time. If you haven't been a liberal, you may be puzzled by what you hear and read from them. They may seem -- dare I say it? -- insane, or at least discombobulated.
Funny, I feel that way about republicans all the time.
The first thing you must realize is that liberals have a program. They are visionaries. They envision a world in which everyone controls the same amount of resources. Nobody is born to privilege or disadvantage; or, if anyone is, it is swiftly neutralized by the state. To allow disadvantage, they believe, is to become a participant in it. Society, to the liberal mind, is a massive engineering project. Most of us distinguish misfortune and injustice. Not the liberal.
This is more a description of socialism than liberalism. Socialism is the far-left ultimate extreme of liberalism, so the author is using a far too broad brush. However, he is right that to the liberal, it is wrong to simply allow disadvantage. I, as a liberal atheist feel that way. How could the conservative not feel that way, if he was also a Christian. After all, it’s one of the principals of Christianity that whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
No misfortune goes unaddressed by the social engineers. It is presumed -- conclusively, without evidence or argument -- that disparities in wealth are the result of morally arbitrary factors (accidents of birth or circumstance) rather than individual character, effort, discipline, work, or merit.
This is simply dishonest. A conservative meme with no basis in reality.
As the philosopher John Kekes has pointed out so eloquentl, liberals disregard or discount concepts that loom large in the thinking of most of us, such as personal responsibility and desert. Most of us believe that responsibility and desert should play a role in the distribution of benefits and burdens. Liberals disagree. Deep down, liberals deny that anyone is responsible for anything.
Is that why we are calling for investigations and indictments in the Plame affair? Is that why we supported the war in Afghanistan after 9/11? Is that why we expect Bush to support his claims in his SOU addresses and his rare (extremely rare) press conferences? Because we don’t believe in personal responsibility?
What we are, in terms of personal character, is a function of circumstances beyond our control. How we behave depends solely on our environment. Our very choices are determined, not free.
Is he talking about homosexuality here? Maybe he’s talking about the fact that more blacks and poor white people are in prison than rich whites. If so, that takes us back to the idea that disparity is an injustice. And, yes, it's true; we oppose injustice. (See the bible.)
Liberalism dissolves the person. To the liberal, we are loci of movement rather than initiators of action, patients rather than agents, heteronomous rather than autonomous beings. Liberals will deny this, of course, but look at their beliefs and policy prescriptions.
I deny it. I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about, but I deny it.

Actually, I do understand it. It’s an assumption with no basis in fact. What he’s saying is that liberals believe that people are mindless drones who are manipulated by the powers that be. He’s describing conspiracy theory, and most conspiracy theorists are paranoids, not necessarily liberals.
Liberals, unlike conservatives, are zealous. Like all zealots (true believers), they are eager to implement their program, but when they attempt to do so, they meet resistance. This resistance frustrates them immensely and eventually leads to anger toward and aggression against those who stand in their way (or are perceived as standing in their way). Ideally, liberals would rationally persuade those who resist in the hope of bringing them around. But this doesn't work. Belief in personal responsibility and desert is widespread and entrenched. Time and again, liberals run up against it. Since it seems obvious to them that the belief is baseless, they tell themselves a story about why it's pervasive.
This description applies more to fundamentalism than liberalism. And again, most fundamentalists are conservative.
It's a multifaceted story. First, the liberal imagines that the belief in question is rooted in ignorance. Opponents of the liberal program simply don't know the facts about responsibility and desert. But when liberals try to convey these "facts," they get no uptake. Indeed, they get denial. This leads to the stupidity hypothesis. Opponents of the liberal program aren't so much ignorant of facts as incapable of reasoning from and about them. In other words, they're stupid or unintelligent. They're incapable of thinking clearly or carefully, even about important matters such as equality, justice, and fairness. This explains the liberal mantra that conservatives, such as Presidents Reagan and Bush, are stupid. Note that if conservatives are stupid, liberals, by contrast, are intelligent. It's all very self-serving.
I don’t think anybody ever called Reagan stupid. Senile maybe, but not stupid. And certainly nobody has called Cheney or Karl Rove stupid. If a conservative doesn’t agree that unfairness should be avoided when possible, then he is not stupid necessarily. He may just be selfish or mean.
Deep down, liberals know that conservatives are no less intelligent than they are. It just makes them feel good to say as much. So they attribute the pervasive belief in responsibility and desert to greed. Opponents of the liberal program are greedy. They won't admit the truth because they don't want to share the wealth. They take the positions they do, on matters such as affirmative action and welfare, to solidify their social position. Greed is bad, of course, so if you reject the liberal program, you're evil. You put self-interest ahead of justice.
There are several valid arguments against the welfare system. It is not a perfect system. It is, however, a necessary system. So if there are problems in the system, fix them. Abolishing the system because it is flawed is not a tenable solution. It creates more problems than it fixes. And from a simple pragmatic position, that’s fool-hearty.
Here, in one neat package, we have all the liberal platitudes. Conservatives are ignorant, stupid, and evil, or some combination of the three. Either they don't grasp the obvious truth or they're incapable of thinking clearly or they don't give a damn about anyone but themselves. Liberals, of course, are the opposite of all these. They're knowledgeable, intelligent, and good. Note that if you believe your opponents to be stupid or evil, you don't try to reason with them. Stupid people, like animals and children, need guidance by their superiors. Evil people need suppression. It's often been remarked that liberals are less adept than conservatives at arguing for their views. Now you see why. They don't practice.

That, in a nutshell, is the liberal mentality. It explains why liberals are so angry, hateful, and spiteful and why they resort to courts rather than to legislatures to implement their vision of the just society. They have given up hope of engaging their adversaries on rational ground. They know that they can't muster a majority for their causes. To liberals, only the outcome matters, not the process.
Quick note; isn’t this why Bush made recess appointments - to circumvent the process?
Without power, their egalitarianism is mere fantasy. But conservatives should be careful not to dismiss it as such, for liberals have demonstrated that they will do whatever it takes to secure and retain power. We saw it in the case of Robert Bork. We saw it in the case of Bill Clinton. We see it in the case of war in Iraq.
So will conservatives. We saw it in Florida, we see it in Diebold, we see it in this article.
To the liberal, the end justifies the means.
Machiavelli was a liberal?
Take it from me, a former liberal.
If it wasn’t so funny, it would be sad.

The writer avoids such issues as the ecology and gay marriage bans. It would be entertaining to see him try to argue that self-interest and paranoia drive the liberal mind in these issues.



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