February 16, 2009

Supporters Finally Realizing That A Promise From Obama Means Nothing



By Peter Wallsten
February 16, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- Slowly over the last few weeks, some of Barack Obama's most fervent supporters have come to an unhappy realization: The candidate who they thought was squarely on their side in policy fights is now a president who needs cajoling and persuading.

Really? Only over the past few weeks? Seems to me that Obama's back-pedaling has been going on since November. And that's just on the campaign pledges he still held in October after having abandoned his pledge to stick with public financing of said campaign.

But Obama's broken promises, and his supporters' reaction to them, are only half of the subject of this post. I want to point out what gets passed off as "news analysis" in The Los Angeles Times. Take a gander at the second paragraph.

Advocates for stem cell research thought Obama would quickly sign an order to reverse former President Bush's restrictions on the science. Now they are fretting over Obama's statement that he wants to act in tandem with Congress, possibly causing a delay.

Look at how that's worded. That's right. The old "Bush-has-outlawed-stem-cell-research" canard rears its head again.

Apparently it's impossible for so-called "analysts" like Peter Wallsten to comprehend, once and for all, that it was Bush who lifted Clinton's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research -- a ban which was put in place because, among other reasons, the research, unlike adult stem cell research, has yet to show any real progress of producing anything but a tumor.

Since Bush was, in fact, the first president to federally fund embryonic stem cell research, if Obama were to "reverse former President Bush's restrictions" (funding research on existing lines), that would put Clinton's full ban on funding back into effect.
This, of course, has nothing to do with any alledged "restrictions on the science", which are free to go forward sans subsidies.

Wallsten is either ignorant of these facts or chooses not to disseminate them, and neither occasion is condusive to the provision of revelatory news analysis, abject pleonasm notwithstanding.

The next paragraph doesn't reflect on Wallsten so much as on the "critics of Bush".

Critics of Bush's faith-based initiative thought Obama had promised to end religious discrimination among social service groups taking federal money.

But Obama, in announcing his own faith-based program this month, said only that the discrimination issue might be reviewed.

Because nothing does more to eradicate religious discrimination than to codify religious discrimination. I mean, really. Faith-based rehab programs are, by far, the most effective. In the past they've been denied federal assistance because they are faith-based. Some, now, want their funding to continue only if the programs are made to hire outside of their faith -- or any faith -- which is the basis of their success in the first place. Duh.

And Obama's recent moves regarding a lawsuit by detainees have left some liberal groups and Bush critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, feeling betrayed, given that Obama was a harsh critic of Bush's detainee policies when running for office last year.

Aah, but the campaign is over and now Obama has to actually, you know, govern. And, for some reason unfathomable to "liberal groups and Bush critics", unleashing terrorists into the small world-at-large doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore, nor does giving them public trials where covert methods and the identities of informants will be exposed.

The anxiety is also being felt in the labor movement, one of Obama's most important support bases. Some union officials and their allies are frustrated that at a crucial point in negotiations over his massive stimulus package, Obama seemed to call for limits on "Buy American" provisions in the bill aimed at making sure stimulus money would be spent on U.S.-made materials.

Yes, Obama did call for protectionist Buy American provisions in the stimulus bill, until Asia and Europe threatend retaliations leading to an all-out trade war. Some info HERE.

"There is no company that is going to benefit more from the stimulus package than Caterpillar, but I am telling you that by embracing Buy American you are undermining our ability to export U.S. produced products overseas," said Bill Lane, government affairs director for Caterpillar in Washington. More than half of Caterpillar's sales -- including big-ticket items like construction cranes and land movers -- are sold overseas.
"Any student of history will tell you that one of the most significant mistakes of the 1930s is when the U.S. embraced protectionism," Lane said. "It had a cascading effect that ground world trade almost to a halt, and turned a one-year recession into the Great Depression."

Back to The L.A. Times:

Obama has long said his administration will be driven by competence, not political ideology. He has blamed the nation's problems on a failed and highly partisan political system, and has said that solutions should come by building coalitions that cross the traditional battle lines in Washington policy fights.

Gee, that's what Bush said when he first came to Washington. Of course, having bipartisan legislation requires both sides of the aisles in Congress having a meaningful contribution. But as we just saw in the House, with Republicans being shut out of the crafting of the stimulus bill, it was the opposition to the stimulus that was bipartisan, not the support for it. That's not Obama's fault, of course, but he could have announced his refusal to sign a bill that was not bipartisan if only he hadn't spend the past month telling us that the world would end if the stimulus bill wasn't passed immediately.

Regarding Obama's reneging on the "Buy American" provisions:

Obama's new language was "a little disturbing," said Jeff Faux, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, which has received funding from labor unions.

He said the president had "moved so quickly to concede on this question without really drawing the debate out."

"Drawing out the debate"? There's no time to debate! Don't you see that we're in a crisis that's about become a catastrophe if we don't put our great-great-grandchildren's tax dollars to work for us now!!

Now, some labor advocates worry about how aggressively the new president will push to fulfill other key campaign promises, such as passage of the so-called card check legislation that would make it easier to form labor unions.

If by "make it easier to form" you mean "systematize bullying by", well....

Read the full article for more quotes on stem cells, faith-based rehab initiatives, "Buy American", etc, for Peter Wallsten's repeated assertion that staying out of a church's internal business (as opposed to denying them funding on religious grounds) equals "religious discrimination", and for Barry Lynn's despondent conclusion.

A word curiously absent from this article: Iraq.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:47 PM | Comments (273) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Newspaper makes news

Gregor at The World's Reality is on a story about the Oakland Tribune's dabbling in openly partisan politics last year.

Here is the announcement at legitgov.org.

Mail or bring your copies of '1984' to the Oakland Tribune -- they will send them to Congress!! 23 Dec 2005 "We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell. To that end, we're asking for your help: Mail us or drop off your tattered copies of '1984.' When we get 537 of them, we'll send them to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate and to President [sic] Bush and Vice President [sic] Dick Cheney. Feel free to inscribe the book with a note, reminding these fine people that we Americans take the threat to our liberties seriously... Bring or mail your books to the Oakland Tribune, 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612. Doors are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m."
Here is the complete announcement from the Oakland Tribune on 13 Feb 06.

Gregor writes:

I just received a call back from Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune - Politics & Criminal Justice.

Mr. Richman completely admitted that the newspaper editorial board organized, publicized, and activity participated in this protest of the sitting President of the United States. This is unbelievable!

He did inform me that this protest is already completed and started over a year ago, but the most interesting information he gave me was that there were employees of the newspaper actually sitting in an office, stuffing these books into envelopes, addressing them to members of Congress, and then mailing them. This is absurd!

I asked Mr. Richman if the Oakland Tribune had given up their newspaper status and now become a political action committee.

I've been told that I will also be getting a call from the Editor soon, as they seem to be concerned with where this might lead, and if this does happen I will post updates as they come in.

Spread the word. This could get good.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:04 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

And Heeeeere we go again...

Well, it's been one month since Jesse MacBeth had his lying ass handed to him on a stick. Apparantly that commie Chavez shill, Oscar Heck, missed all the fun because he's put out an urgent plea to watch that amazing video.


Oh, and check out the title of his previous article: Would you trust someone whose notions are based on fallacies or on reality?

You can't make this stuff up.

Oh wait, yes you can.

Tip o'the tam to Allahpundit.

March 05, 2006

Babs Makes a Fool of Herself Again

Michelle Malkin points to a post at Beautiful Atrocities that highlights some of the finer qualities of Barbra Streisand's impressive way with words.

"Over the last 5 years, Bush's leadership has resembled that of a dictatorship. The arrogance of this C student [Bush has Harvard MBA, Streisand has high-school education] who maligns his opponents’ crediblity [sic] by calling them flip floppers, is the biggest flip flopper himself! When debating Al Gore during the 2000 presidential elections, Bush spoke against nation building, yet went into Irag [sic] a year later [sic] to national build [sic]…"

And there's lots more.

While taking a cheap shot at the scholastic achievements of the President, Streisand knocks out this paragraph:

. In the 1970’s[sic], during the Nixon Adminstration[sic], serious political curruption[sic] arose and the Republican leadership stepped up and took responsibilty[sic] by holding hearings and subpoening[sic] administration officials. Eventually, the President was forced to resign rather than face impeachment preceedings[sic] that likely would have been successful. It is clear that today's Republican Congressional leaders are not prepared to hold this President accountable. Therefore, it’s critical that people elect members of the Democratic party to the House and Senate so that a new leadership can take control. Only if this occurs, can we even begin to imagine a time when there will be a myriad of investigations so desperatly[sic] needed on so many issues…let alone the ultimate investigation which would involve the conduct of the President of the United States and the determination of whether his actions warrented[sic] impeachment proceedings.


...So it is not surprising to find out that the while the[sic] Bush Administration is trying to quietly slip this port security deal under the radar, they are simultaneously negotiating a free trade agreement with the UAE. Why be surprised? This President, ‘jokingly’ stated "If this were a dictatoriship[sic] it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

I don't even have the heart to address the actual "substance" of her "statement" as much of it has already been discredited in the days following her posting (Feb 28th).

And the award for Best Blog Post Title so far on this subject goes to.... DonkeyCons, with For Whom The Bell Curves.

UPDATE: Drudge has posted on this and links to a "Truth Alert" message from Streisand's "staff" (I guess) in 2002 after the whole "Gebhart" thang. After explaining that Babs dictated the note over the phone to a new staffer, the message assures us of the following:

THE IRONIC FURTHER TRUTH.. Hidden in this example of diverted news priorities is the fact that Barbra Streisand is a great speller, meticulous in her written communications!

Well.... most of the time, maybe. The ironic further truth of this latest missive is that she went out of her way to call Bush an intellectually lazy and/or underachieving "C student" at the same time that she posted a sloppily written, un-proofread thesis.

The 2002 "Truth Alert" also complained about the attention that the "Gebhart" gaffe received:

The incident illustrates how the Democratic message concerning the failures of this Republican administration are repeatedly pushed aside in the media, pre-empted by silly side-issues. The real truth, the really important and relevant truth, is having a hard time getting through.

Heh. Heh heh. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!! The "Gebhart" error got attention not because the seriousness of the issues of the election season were being "pushed aside", but because we don't expect to learn anything useful from the talking points tossed salads&trade that are the predictable, self-important, uninsightful and severely unsourced bloviations of Barbra Streisand.

But, as Sister Toldjah says, "...I don't consider this a 'serious issue' - merely a funny one! :)".

And, to be fair: At least she didn't misspell "potato"!

UPDATE (7 March): After seven days, Babs has finally corrected the errors. Yay!

Now, if only she had some friends who read her blog, she could get it done a lot sooner!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2006

Gettin' 'em while they're young

I just read about a book by Jeremy Zilber called Why Mommy Is A Democrat. There are three sample pages here. I think my favorite is this one:


The big bad Republican elephant is a nice touch.

From the "About the book" page:

Using plain and non-judgmental language, along with warm and whimsical illustrations, this colorful 28-page paperback depicts the Democratic principles of fairness, tolerance, peace and concern for the well-being of others. It's a great way for parents to gently communicate their commitment to these principles and explain their support for the party.

Nevermind that it's pure philosophical dishonesty to assert that Democrats have a lock on things like the principles of fairness, tolerance, peace and concern for others, rather than that they are merely convinced that they know the best way to support them. The real irony here, I think, is that a propaganda book like this would tend to end up teaching children to be intolerant of other political philosophies. Kids kinda just think that way. If Democrats are good, like mommy, then everyone else must be bad!

And from the "About the author" page, Zilber the self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat" writes:

The result, Why Mommy Is A Democrat, reflects my passion for progressive politics, my sense of humor, and my acedemic training in fields such as political psychology and socialization.

Seems t'me that someone with a "lifelong" political agenda would study "political psychology" in order to "prove" that those of another political bent are "psychologically abnormal". Philosophy majors, f'rinstance, are interested in studying the tenets and history of the many philosophies, not in putting forth their own pre-conceived ideas of what reality is. But, of course, Zilber's mission is to indoctrinate the little children (who can't yet begin to understand the complexities of a left or right political bent) while they're impressionable and eager to discern good from evil.
I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin, with my partner Julia, her daughter Isabella (age six), and our cat Zachary -- all lifelong Democrats.

Okay, the cat is obviously a Democrat. That's a given. But,the little girl is just not ready to understand a political debate, nevermind being able to maturely understand why she would agree with one side more than the other -- or even to agree with neither.

Come on, Jeremy. Leave the kiddies out of this.

Tip o'the tam to el Capitan.

UPDATE: Evil Glenn points to a podcast of Northern Alliance Radio's interview with Jeremy Zilber now available at Powerline. The file is over 25 megs in size and I'm on dial-up so I'll skip. Dr. Helen has heard it, however, and has some thoughts here.

I have had a four year old that knew enough about the system to pick up my phone and call 911 to report me for child abuse for asking him to take an IQ test. What makes you think four to seven year old kids don't understand the mesage you are selling. Republicans are thugs who are heartless while Democrats are good people who make no judgements. Well, let's hope the kids are smart enough to see through the irony of your non-judgmental book.

In the comments thread to that post, commenter Luke Holder adds:
In this same segment he tried to use the 'Little Engine that Could' as his example of how "all children's books indoctrinate." The problem is that it ISN'T the 'Little Republican Engine that Could.' The author lets the universal value of perseverence remain universal. Zilber wants to make it partisan. Thats all he did with his book.


UPDATE 2: A couple of parodies here and here. Heh.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

A few days late in linking but that's okay

re: "Merry Christmas" vs "Happy Holidays, etal", Serenity puts it all in perspective.

A taste:

So I have a plan. From now on, you all wear your religion and anything else about you on a sign around your neck, allow me the time to read it as I pass you on the street so that I know what the hell I can say to you and what I can’t say to you without you pissing and crying about it.

Heh. Indeed.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

Sneaky sneaky: the AP does it again

Tip o'the tam to His Rottiness for pointing to an Associated Press article at SeeBS"news".com.

Integrity seems to have been the "word of the year" over at Marriam~Webster's online dictionary. But that's not what's interesting about the AP Article. Not by a longshot.

Some of the other Top 10 most looked-up words in 2005 were tsunami, fillibuster and levee.

"Filibuster" gained in popularity as Democrats threatened to use it to block federal judicial nominees, and "contempt" drew plenty of attention when former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal a source in the CIA leak case.

The election of a new pope following the death of John Paul II left thousands wondering exactly what a conclave is, and news about the spread of infectious diseases brought up the term "pandemic."

While those are perfectly understandable, one word that made the Top 10 was insipid. Why?
Immediately after Simon Cowell, the acid-tongued host of the popular television show "American Idol," called one aspiring singer "insipid," Merriam-Webster noticed a dramatic spike in the number of lookups for the word, which the dictionary defines as "lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge: dull, flat."

"This guy hit exactly the right word for the performance and it resonated," Morse said. "People engaged the word, but they asked themselves `what does it exactly mean?"'

Okay, fine. But what about the word inept coming in at #10? Seems likely that that'd be yet another Simon Cowell-inspired look-see? But, according to AP, as slipped into the middle of the article:
No. 10 on the list is "inept," a word that Morse said was getting a lot of attention in the days after President Bush delivered a live prime time news conference that came to an awkward end when some television networks cut him off to return to their regularly scheduled programs.

Ummm... huh? What's the connection? Would people watching the President's press conference -- and even caring that it was interupted -- wonder what the word inept means?

Not bloody likely. This was most likely, imo, A) another American Idol Simon smackdown moment that sent a bunch of curious teenagers, et al, in search of it's precise meaning and B) a sly and cynical attempt to connect the words Bush and inept in an otherwise innocuous piece about peeple looking up wurdz.

I mean, the President gets bumped and people rush to look up inept? Rediculous.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 09, 2005

Point / Counterpoint


I have cancelled my subscription to the LA Times, and here is the reason why:

The greater Southern California community is one that not only proudly embraces its diversity but demands diversity. Their publisher's decision to fire Robert Scheer is a great disservice to the spirit of our community.

Many of their loyal readers feel that the LA Times' new leadership, especially that of Jeff Johnson, is entirely out of touch with them and their desire to be exposed to views that stretch them beyond their own paradigms.
So although the number of contributors to their op-ed pages may have increased, in firing Robert Sheer and putting Jonah Goldberg in his place, the gamut of voices has undeniably been diluted, and I suspect this may ultimately decrease the number of readers of those same pages who, like me, do not want conservative opinions infiltrating the once diverse spectrum of opinions published in the LA Times.

In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors, accountants be accountants and entertainers be entertainers, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions that I agree with. Their new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources, as I feel that there is no room for such diversity within the op-ed pages of the LA Times.

Robert Scheer was once nominated by his employer -- the aforementioned LA Times -- for a Pulitzer Prize. Does that fact not speak to the greatness of his obviously a first-rate, unbiased journalistic prowess?!

My greatest fear is that the underlying reason for Mr. Scheer's termination is part of a larger trend toward the corporatization of our media, a trend that we, as American citizens, must fervently battle for the sake of our swiftly diminishing free press. I mean, if an unbiased truth alerter like Bob Scheer can be let go so unceremoniously, are any of our liberties safe?


Irony is a difficult concept.

Throughout my extistence I have endeavored to become more human. But there are many aspects of human psychology that I do not, as of yet, understand. How adding a conservative columnist to the historically liberal-laced op-ed pages of the LA Times results in a lesser diversity within the pool of opinion seems to me to be a less than logical conclusion.

While I have come to expect humans to think, occassionally, in supralogical terms, I have never known them to be completely devoid of reason. At least, not without requiring remedial medication.

Since the points offered for counterpoint have come from a well-respected member of the human popular culture, it would appear now that my efforts to become more human have been misquided, and my loyalties misplaced. The expense afforded to my positronic neural net thought that I have discarded years in an abject pursuit of cultivating Doctor Soong's gift of my potential humanity just makes me want to deactivate myself.

Fortunately, I do recognize a "joke" -- even when I do not "get it". So, and while some say that sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, let me say "congratulations" to Barbra Streisand for her successful exercise in satirical, ironic humor. Even if I don't "get it".

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

Mem'ries light the corners of my fisking

Just when I thought that yet another day would go by when I found absolutely nothing that would inspire a post, I happen upon Barbra Streisand's latest thesis: The Plan To Invade Iraq Before 9/11. (Well, I didn't just happen upon it -- I went looking for it. I really wish she's post more than once every 2-3 weeks!)
[Actually, I started this yesterday and didb't finish until this morning. Better nate than lever.]

As usual, Babs provides no links to her source material. She prolly just reads what she wants to read and fashions a screed from memory. That's fine, I do that a lot myself. But, then again, she seems to think she oughta be taken a lot more seriously than I'll ever expect to be taken.

Enough, already. Let's just dive right in:

Last week Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid shut down the Senate. Frustrated, angry and seeking answers, Reid threatened to delay legislative action until the Intelligence Committee followed through on its promised investigation of prewar Iraq intelligence failures. Democrats are demanding answers...and now, so are the American people.
What Harry Reid did was throw a temper trantrum and shut down the Senate as a purely symbolic gesture. Fercryingoutloud, investigations take time. To think that Senator Reid really wanted to end all Senate business until an investigation and report were completed is just daft. I mean, they hadn't even voted for their pay raise yet.

But more importantly, of course, the Democrats are demanding answers to questions to which they seem to already have intuited the answers. It doesn't resemble the scientific method, but I guess that in political science the absence of proof of manipulation is itself proof of manipulation.

But let's remember... 9/11 and faulty intelligence alone did not lead to the invasion of Iraq. This war was being planned in the minds of some for many years.

You got that right! Regime change in Iraq has been official U.S. policy ever since the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998:

As we all learned in elementary school, the legislative branch writes the laws and the executive branch enforces the law. The only difference on this issue between Presidents Clinton and Bush is that President Bush decided to actually enforce the law.

And this would be a good time to ping the Mudville Gazette's excellent Brief History of a Long War. (One caveat: While it's an impressive chronology of the 12-year lead-up to the war, it focuses only on the history as it pertains to WMD. Let's not forget that things like stopping the feeding of people feet-first into plastics shredders were also significant conditions of the cease-fire in '91.)

George Bush's former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed in his book that at one of the very first National Security Council meetings after Bush took office in January 2001 he discussed the notion of invading Iraq and that he seemed desperate to find an excuse for pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein.

Woah, Babs is diggin' deep! Was he "desperate to find an excuse" or was he, just maybe, interested in finally resolving the crappy state of affairs that had been going on for the previous decade? Assuming, though, that O'Neill's thusfar unique impression was right: If Bush was "deperate to find an excuse" to go to war against Saddam then there could only be one conclusion: It wasn't all about WMD or about Operation Iraqi Freedom; it was all about Operation Ooooiiiiiiillll! To paraphrase what Bubba once said to Paula Corbin: Kiss this. The oil was flowing pre-war. Unfortunately the food wasn't.
Many of Bush's inner circle are members of Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think-tank that promotes an ideology of total U.S. world domination through the use of force.
BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! This is their very brief mission statement:
The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle.

The Project for the New American Century intends, through issue briefs, research papers, advocacy journalism, conferences, and seminars, to explain what American world leadership entails. It will also strive to rally support for a vigorous and principled policy of American international involvement and to stimulate useful public debate on foreign and defense policy and America's role in the world.

William Kristol, Chairman

Babs, regretfully I repeat myself: This is about peace in our time, not peace only in our place and time. Peace will come when all tyrants are deposed and freedom reigns. Unless you believe that America was not founded on self-rule you'll never believe that America is the 229-year-old light that illuminates the dreams of the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. If you believe that the expansion of the American Revolution throughout the world is a thing to be ashamed of, then you must believe that either: a) America does not stand for freedom, or; b) freedom itself is a tyrant. Or, if you are an isolationistn and the welfare of foreigners is none of our concern then -- like I sorta said earlier -- it's Freedom for Me, not for Thee.
Back in 1998, PNAC sent an open letter to President Clinton urging his administration to implement a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power.

Gee, y'think that mighta maybe been a good idea?!
This letter was signed by Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Richard Perle.

Aah, and the message is about to be judged according to the presumably suspect heuristics of the messenger...:
These men, along with fellow PNAC members Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, were the primary architects of the Iraq war 5 years later.

"Architects"? Funny; I always thought Generals were the primary architects of a war. But, I suppose she means to imply that the rationale for war in Iraq was based on the idea that, possibly, maybe, removing Saddam Hussein from power was in our national interest. Dammit, she's onto us.
In 2000, PNAC produced a document entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century. The plan outlined how the US should go about taking military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein is in power.

Maybe -- just maybe -- because it's not all about Saddam Frickin Hussein. Maybe there really is **gasp!** a reason, other than chemicals and oil and mushroom clouds, to get rid of an opportunistic butcher. Maybe the future of the lands of traditional Islam really is, finally, linked to our own future afterall -- just like they always said it was. Babs, yer so peaceful that -- if you were in charge -- the next James Bond title and theme song might be called Die And Let Live. Know what I mean?
Let's remember some of our recent history with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Yes, let's...
The United States' relationship with Saddam has been vastly contradictory. In the 1980's, the U.S. heavily supported Saddam against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

To prevent Iraq being from overrun by Ayatollah Khomeini and his "students". The spread of theocracy in the region was not in our -- or anyone else's -- best interest. You disagree, I see.
Saddam was in violation of human rights laws by gassing the Kurds.

That was in 1988; the same yhear the Iran-Iraq war ended. (This will be an important detail in a moment.)
However, the US turned a blind eye, instead opting to retain a friendly relationship with Saddam in order to access intelligence. The US government furnished Saddam with weapons.

Advice and small arms, at best. I mean, those weren't exactly F-16s that the Iraqi pilots were high-tailing to Iranian airspace in January '91 'cuz they didn't wanna die for Saddam. Those were Soviet MIGs. Don't gimme this crap about how we "built him up" as if we had no duty to knock him down.

If you had a child that you just discovered was diabetic, would you withhold the insulin just because you once gave him some candy? I think we're smart enough to know the difference between philisophical surrender and a larger strategy.

We even have pictures documenting Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, shaking hands with Saddam in 1983!

Woah! 1983!!!?! Do y'mean to tell me that long before Saddam gassed the Kurds our gubmint actually considered that maybe the enemy of our enemy to be an potential ally?! I'm shocked! Shocked and saddened! Where were our chrystal balls when we needed them?!
In 1990, Saddam invaded Kuwait, stating that he believed he had the silent permission to do so by then US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie.

Silent permission. "Silent permission". That phrase just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? I believe that I've successfully dealt with that relic of an idea hyar.
However, the United States, under George H.W. Bush, responded with Operation Desert Storm to quell the invasion. The same weapons we had given to Saddam to defeat the Iranians a decade earlier, were now being used to kill US soldiers.

Name one.
Although the Persian Gulf War was considered a victory for the United States, ultimately Saddam was not removed from power.

Good to hear you lamenting that!

Oh, but ..."considered" a victory...? Get your head out of your pillow, already.
This was a tremendous disappointment for the conservative hawks emerging in the Republican party.

And there we have it: It's "conservative hawks" that want to spread freedom and democracy and "liberal doves" that want to allow opression and dictatorship to flourish. Thanks for the admission, Babs!
Since the Gulf War, there has been a covert but persistent mission by neo-cons to overthrow Saddam Hussein by any means necessary in order to reorganize the Middle East in the name of democracy.

...and thus, peace...
However democracy was not the reason Bush gave to the country when he decided to invade Iraq....it was the presence of WMDs, which UN inspectors did not find.

**bzzzt** Wrong. WMD was only one of many reasons given for the resumption of hostilities. But we've already been through that.
Former US top weapons inspector David Kay testified before congress asserting this fact. And Director General of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, requested more time from the administration to investigate the weapons claims in Iraq before rushing to war. Those in the Bush inner circle had tremendous influence on his final decision to unilaterally attack Iraq in 2003 without the support of the United Nations and the rest of the world.

Because France and Germany (who, by the way, agreed that Saddam had WMD programs) said that they would refuse under any circumstances to support holding Saddam accountable to the UN resolutions. Gee, I wonder why.
The notion of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam was gaining momentum long before the terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001.

About 11 years...
Only once America was attacked did Bush and his war mongering neo-con colleagues have the perfect opportunity to utilize faulty intelligence in order to make a case for war and garner the blind support of most of the American public.

We're all blind! Thank goodness we've got Barbra Streisand to rip out our eyes and shove hers into our sockets!
However, we now know that this war, where thousands of young American soldiers have died, was years in the making.

About 12 of 'em...
Let's hope that the frustration, anger and determination felt by Democrats and the American public continue to fuel this investigation to uncover the truth.

And let's hope that the frustration, anger and determination felt by the Iraqi people continue to fuel (there's that oooiiill reference again!) the establishment and growth of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. When they cast their ballots and elect their first legitimate parliament in 30 years; when they can go shopping in the markets without fear of so-called "insurgents" blowing themselves up and taking as many innocent bystanders with them; when they can talk openly about who they voted for, and why, without fear of ending up in a torture cell or rape room, they'll know who to thank. And it wont be isolationist so-called "peace activists" now, will it?

Sic semper tyranus.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

The strange case of Doug Thompson

Emperor Darth Misha I beats the snot out of Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue for writing this article which, as much of Thompson's work does, seems rather thinly sourced for the extraordinary nature of it's accusations.

Thompson makes the claim that a sooper sekret memo is floating around to Republican leaders that discusses how a terror attack on US soil might be a key to getting Bush's poll numbers back up. All of the significant information in the story was allegedly given to Thompson by unnamed sources in the White House and on Capitol Hill.

Why in the world would such a thing even be discussed, what's more written down?

While the headline and first few paragraphs are about the alleged memo (which Thompson somehow, despite his impecible loose-lipped sources, cannot not produce), the article goes on to address the chaos that the Republican Party is s'posed to be in. Pardon my skepticism but this stuff reeks of bullshit:

The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

The memo says such a reversal in the President's fortunes could keep the party from losing control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

GOP insiders who have seen the memo admit it’s a risky strategy [huh?!!-TS] and point out that such scenarios are “blue sky thinking” that often occurs in political planning sessions.

Other Republicans, however, worry that such a scenario carries high risk, pointing out that an attack might suggest the President has not done enough to protect the country.

The memo outlines other scenarios, including:

--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead);

--A drastic turnaround in the economy;

--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war.

GOP memos no longer talk of “victory” in Iraq but use the term “successful resolution.”

“A successful resolution would be us getting out intact and civil war not breaking out until after the midterm elections,” says one insider.

The memo circulates as Tuesday’s disastrous election defeats have left an already dysfunctional White House in chaos, West Wing insiders say, with shouting matches commonplace and the blame game escalating into open warfare.

“This place is like a high-school football locker room after the team lost the big game,” grumbles one Bush administration aide. “Everybody’s pissed and pointing the finger at blame at everybody else.”

“Cooler heads tried to prevail,” one aide says. “Most knew an appearance by the President would hurt Kilgore rather than help him but (Karl) Rove rammed it through, convincing Bush that he had enough popularity left to make a difference.”

Bush didn’t have any popularity left. Overnight tracking polls showed Kilgore dropped three percentage points after the President’s appearance and Democrat Tim Kaine won on Tuesday.

As Republican political strategists scramble to find a message – any message – that will ring true with voters, GOP leaders in Congress admit privately that control of their party by right-wing extremists makes their recovery all but impossible.

“We’ve made our bed with these people,” admits an aide to House Speaker Denny Hastert. “Now it’s the morning after and the hangover hurts like hell.”

I included some of those non-memo-related "quotes" for the reason that, to me, they don't sound like anything that so-called Republican insiders would say to a reporter; they sound like things that a Democrat would want unnamed Republican insiders to say.

Of course, this is far from the first time that Thompson's well-places unnamed "sources" have given him, of all people, such juicy gossip. Here's a recent article Bush's sooper sekret enemies list.

Spurred by paranoia and aided by the USA Patriot Act, the Bush Administration has compiled dossiers on more than 10,000 Americans it considers political enemies and uses those files to wage war on those who disagree with its policies.

The “enemies list” dates back to Bush’s days as governor of Texas and can be accessed by senior administration officials in an instant for use in campaigns to discredit those who speak out against administration policies or acts of the President.

The computerized files include intimate personal details on members of Congress; high-ranking local, state and federal officials; prominent media figures and ordinary citizens who may, at one time or another, have spoken out against the President or Administration.

Capitol Hill Blue has spoken with a number of current and former administration officials who acknowledge existence of the enemies list only under a guarantee of confidentiality. Those who have seen the list say it is far more extensive than Richard Nixon’s famous “enemies list” of Watergate fame or Bill Clinton’s dossiers on political enemies.

“How is it that you think Karl (Rove) and Scooter (Libby) were able to disseminate so much information on Joe Wilson and his wife,” says one White House aide. “They didn’t have that information by accident. They had it because they have files on those who might hurt them.”

Now, I don't know about any "enemies list", but look at that quote from the anonymous "White House aide". He names Rove when not even the grand jury did that! And what is this "...so much information..." crud? Libby mentioned that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. That's it.
There are "quotes" like this aplenty in the article.

And speaking of comparisons to Nixon, here's a Thompson piece from July, '04 where unnamed sources describe Bush as being a few agates short of a sack o'marbles.

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.

Perhaps Doug Thompson is an anti-Bush propogandist who's making up quotes to flesh out fantastic storylines. Perhaps he's a dupe and is getting quotes from people only claiming to have the inside scoop. Perhaps this is what inside sources are actually telling him.

He claims to be a non-partisan who, while he has worked for Republicans in the past, is a registered independent. But he did write a strongly worded condemnation of the creation of the Office of Homeland Security here"here.

Capitol Hill Blue has been around for over 10 years, and Thompson authored similar stories during the Clinton administrations, as described here.

Interviews conducted over the past two weeks by Thompson showed an increasingly isolated President whose obsession with his place in the history books has led him to ignore the recommendations not only of career military officers, but also of many close aides. "The President is standing alone on a lot of this," says one White House aide. "He's finding fewer and fewer people who are willing to stick with him over Kosovo. He's backed himself, his administration and his country into a corner."

At the Pentagon, senior officers now call the President the "draft dodger in chief," and sneer at his inability to grasp simple military tactics. "The man is an ass," says one career officer. "He has no concept of a military operation. To him, it's just a video game. What we don't know is how many body bags it will take to make this jerk face reality."

There was a hubbub followed by a curious column some months ago. Thompson had attributed some quotes -- about Bush's alleged desire to prove that Saddam had WMD even it they couldn't prove it -- to oneTerrance J. Wilkinson. When confronted with the veracity of the quotes, Thompson wrote about a 20 year-long relation he had with Wilkinson, an ex-military and CIA consultant, and how he'd used him as a source -- unnamed, of course -- for many years. Then he writes:
On Tuesday, we ran a story headlined "White House admits Bush wrong about Iraqi nukes." For the first time, Wilkinson said he was willing to go on the record and told a story about being present, as a CIA contract consultant, at two briefings with Bush. He said he was retired now and was fed up and wanted to go public.

"He (Bush) said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said in our story. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country."

After the story ran, we received a number of emails or phone calls that (1) either claimed Wilkinson was lying or (2) doubted his existence. I quickly dismissed the claims. After all, I had known this guy for 20+ years and had no doubt about his credibility. Some people wanted to talk to him, so I forwarded those requests on to him via email. He didn't answer my emails, which I found odd. I should have listened to a bell that should have been going off in my ear.

Today, a White House source I know and trust said visitor logs don't have any record of anyone named Terrance J. Wilkinson ever being present at a meeting with the President. Then a CIA source I trust said the agency had no record of a contract consultant with that name. "Nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever heard of this guy," my source said.

I tried calling Terry's phone number. I got a recorded message from a wireless phone provider saying the number was no longer in service. I tried a second phone number I had for him. Same result.

Both of his phone numbers have Los Angeles area codes but an identity check through Know-X today revealed no record of anyone named Terrance J. Wilkinson ever having lived in LA or surrounding communities.

His email address turns out to be a blind forward to a free email service where anyone can sign up and get an email account. Because it was not one of the usual "free" services like Hotmail, Yahoo or such, I did not recognize it as one (although you'd think that someone like me would have known better).

The bottom line is that someone has been running a con on me for 20 some years and I fell for it like a little old lady in a pigeon drop scheme. I've spent the last two hours going through the database of Capitol Hill Blue stories and removing any that were based on information from Wilkinson (or whoever he is). I've also removed his name, quotes and claims from Tuesday's story about the White House and the uranium claims.

If all of that is true then it's truely bizarre. A source gives acurate information anonymously for years; decides to be quoted by name; is found to have, for the first time, given unreliable information; is called on it and vanishes.

Now, I don't know Doug Thompson from Adam West, but it seems to me that -- and I could be wrong -- that Thompson boneheadedly put a name on one of his made-up "quotes"; thought that indentifying Wilkinson as a CIA consultant would keep him from being found out; got called on it and made up a story about the reliable source having duped him for over two decades. I could be wrong, though.

Perhaps Thompson's articles are born out of nothing but a desire to write sensational stories about the behind the scenes White House. Or, perhaps he has an anti-Bush agenda. I'll point you, lastly, to an article he wrote last spring calling for Bush's impeachment.

Democrats staged a "hearing" on the Downing Street memo last week but
it was little more than a photo op. Republicans didn't participate
because the lackey GOP leadership of both the House and Senate
disregards the truth as much as the Liar-in-Chief in the White House.

Privately, Republicans in both the House and Senate say Bush has left
them and their party in a "no win" situation in Iraq and they fear
growing public opposition to the war will cost them control of
Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections and the White House in 2008.

"We got trouble," one long-time GOP consultant told me. "That starts
with `T' and that rhymes with `B' and that stands for `Bush.'"

America might be able to survive until 2006 to replace the scandal-
ridden GOP leadership of Congress but the country cannot afford to
wait until 2008 to get rid of George W. Bush. His criminal acts merit
immediate impeachment and then removal of office.

Then he should be tried as a traitor for his crimes. War criminals
deserve no less.

I report; you decide.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

Take me out to the ball game...

I read this AP item in the New York Post today while on my commute home tonight. In it's entirety:

Shift in gulf area political balance
WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Katrina could also change the Gulf Coast's political landscape.
The early thinking from political consultants is that the evacuees least likely to return to Louisiana may be the poorest -- and thus, Democrats for the most part. That would hurt the party in a state where Republicans already were making inroads.
If most of those leaving settle in Texas, that could help Democrats there, the consultants said.

Hmmm. Notice how the possible political shift is described in terms of whether it hurts or helps the Democratic party, but not the Republican party. This is how sports fans talk about the home team.

Okay, okay, no one's surprised, I know.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 24, 2005

Leave the Politics at the Stump, Ya Hearse-Chasin' Retard

So anyway, this afternoon I went out in search of some source material for, like, an actual post.

I found something!!! But then I found out that everybody else already knows about it. Mudville Gazette is where Evil Glenn found it. Turns out Michelle Malkin is onto it and has some other links,m as well.

Anywho, it's this story.

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.

Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll

"Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us," Goodrich said. "I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign."

I was gonna rant on for a while and give Lt. Gov. Knoll a proper virtual tounge-lashing. But, instead, I think I'll just put up this poster for her (and everyone else's) benefit:



Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

10 Reasons Not to Kill Bush

Drudge linked to this article by University of Oregon co-ed Jennifer McBride. (I tried to read it yesterday, but the site must have been experiencing a drudgelanche.)

That a college co-ed feels the need to point out to her fellow students reasons not to kill somebody is a sign of the state of discourse among young people (and many not so young people) on the left, and Jennifer McBride agrees.
Anywho, Ms McBride lists "10 reasons not to kill Bush". She's a Democrat with some common sense and decency -- not to mention a farsightedness not common among the howling moonbats of the left. She begins by mentioning the grenade incident and her observation that she's "heard enough people on campus proclaiming their hatred of George W. Bush to know that some wouldn't have shed many tears," and then offers the list of reasons why assassining the President of the United States would be a very bad thing.

1) Killing the president immediately generates sympathy for his cause. If the president died tomorrow, there would be no question that all of his nominees for the judicial branch would make it through the Senate.

I'm not so sure about that. I have a hard time believing that Senator Box'o'rocks and some others would be moved to sympathy and comity by much of anything, nevermind the violent death of the object of her viceral hatred. But, she could always fake it, I suppose.

Here's a sharp observation:

4) Any criticisms of the administration will be regarded as more unpatriotic than ever. In the next election, you could expect to see Democratic primary candidates proclaiming that their Republican counterparts aren't "fit to follow in President Bush's footsteps."

And these two:

7) President Bush's status as a martyr would leave the electorate more polarized than ever, especially if liberals were seen as publicly irreverent to President Bush's memory. It would be a little different if natural selection decreed death-by-snacking, but toasting an assassin's success leaves a decidedly bitter taste in the national mouth.
8) Jeb Bush's popularity would skyrocket. He would undoubtedly win the Republican nomination and then the election in 2008. With the Supreme Court full of near-zombies, I would prefer a different man to pick the people who are going to strangle us with laws.

Okay. While I think that it's the lefties who want to "strangle us with laws," I think the gyst of the observations are dead one.

Jennifer McBride saves the obvious reason for last (maybe she meant it to be a countdown), and then makes some closing observations on the liberals that she encounters on campus. One taste:

Liberalism has to be more than a college fad or a collection of loudmouths whose idiotic comments stir headlines. The rabid dislike some people feel for a man they've never even met makes me ashamed to be a Democrat.

Good to know that there are politically conscious left-leaning college students who don't make me weep for the future of the Democratic Party. Now read the whole thing!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:36 PM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2005

Moron Newsweek...

Hey, I just found out that Keef Olbermann has a blog. Welcome to the blogosphere, Keef! And welcome to your first fisking!

(Well, he may have been fisked before. I dunno.)

I smell something — and it ain’t a copy of the Qu’ran sopping wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the ink drying on Scott McClellan’s resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.

Hmm. Now, what could have brought out that aroma?

Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply,

LOL! Rummy lacks gravitas!

Hey, I thought we stopped using the word "gravitas" after the 2000 Republican convention. Dude! "Gravitas" is sooooo 20th century!

told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there , than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong.

Okay. Before we continue, here is the question and General Myers' answer:

Q: Do either one of you have anything about the demonstrations in Afghanistan, which were apparently sparked by reports that there was a lack of respect by some interrogators at Guantanamo for the Koran. Do either one of you have anything to say about that?

GEN. MYERS: It's the -- it's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eikenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran -- and I'll get to that in just a minute -- but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his Cabinet is conducting in Afghanistan. So that's -- that was his judgment today in an after- action of that violence. He didn't -- he thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.

General Craddock, our commander of Southern Command, has been in Guantanamo for the last couple of days digging into this issue to see if there was a time when the Koran was not respected. I can tell you that the version of the Koran that we provide to detainees is approved by the ICRC. So we're very careful about that. They have looked through the logs, the interrogation logs, and they cannot confirm yet that there were ever the case of the toilet incident, except for one case, a log entry, which they still have to confirm, where a detainee was reported by a guard to be ripping pages out of a Koran and putting in the toilet to stop it up as a protest. But not where the U.S. did it.

Now, there -- so it's something we're going to look at. That's still unconfirmed; it's a log entry that has to be confirmed. There are several log entries that show that the Koran may have been moved to -- and the detainees became irritated about it, but never an incident where it was thrown in the toilet.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The experts here are here, if people have questions on BRAC. And I think --
Q: (Off mike) -- talk to tomorrow. (Laughter.)

As to Olbermann's point, General Myers was referring to an assessment by General Eikenberry. Myers was not offering it as his own assessment.
He then sites General Craddock as the confirming source of the detainee flushing the Koran in protest account.

But, the instigating factor of the riots is not in doubt. Just ask the rioters, Keef, they'll tell ya!

Keef continues....

The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whew, changing the subject, eh? The last refuge of demogogue...

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to [sic] damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will — and at what human cost.

And back to the justification argument we go.

This isn't about WMD in Iraq, you idiot, and it never was. It's about changing a culture that is unwillfully bound to it's tyrant overlords who're bent on destroying even the ancient rocky relics of any religion other than it's own. This is a war on the terrorism that springs naturally from an indoctrination and upbringing that teaches that we need to bring "Heaven" to earth. It's a war on religious persecution and all of the insane bloodshed that follows from it. Now, are you going to take this seriously or or are we going to slouch toward our inate love of arrogant smarmy dismissiveness?

Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years — ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations — only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye).

**sigh** You really are tiresome...

All of its other government connections — the ones past which it ran the story — have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’

Two "sources" were contacted. One offered no comment, the other addressed an aspect other than the Koran-flushing. Could it be, oh, maybe, that they didn't comment on the Koran-flushing because, oh, I dunno... they'd never heard of such a thing?!

Of course not, Keef. Their deafening silence is obviously evidence that they were covering up something very sinister; very dark and shadowy; very Rovian. Hell, FrankJ can't make this stuff up!

Now, here comes the barking moonbattery:

Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 p.m. Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts.

Because they were wruuuuh..... Wait, I can say it!

I was wruuuuuhhh... Dang it, that's hard!

Anywho, they retracted because they were wruuuuhhh.....

I’m always warning about the logical fallacy — the illusion that just because one event follows another, the latter must have necessarily caused the former.

Thanks for the warning. Hope ya heard it.

But when I wondered tonight on Countdown if it applied here, Craig Crawford reassured me. “The dots connect.”

This oughta be good...

The real point, of course, is that you’d have to be pretty dumb to think that making a threat at Gitmo akin to ‘Spill the beans or we’ll kill this Qu’ran’ would have any effect on the prisoners, other than to eventually leak out and inflame anti-American feelings somewhere. Of course, everybody in the prosecution of the so-called ‘war on terror’ has done something dumb, dating back to the President’s worst-possible-word-selection (“crusade”) on September 16, 2001. So why wouldn’t some mid-level interrogator stuck in Cuba think it would be a good idea to desecrate a holy book? Jack Rice, the former CIA special agent and now radio host, said on Countdown that it would be a “knuckleheaded” thing to do, but “plausible.”

Paragraphs like this are why I named my blog Blather Review. I mean, Holy Shiite.

First Keef admits that there's no reason, other than folly, to desecrate the Koran. So, he proposes the "real" reason: To deliberately instigate violence among Muslims, where many would die, and have a golden opportunity to blame it on Newsweek magazine and thus to "discredit" them. Blood for ink. If this isn't the most cynical thesis I've ever read then it's close.

But, he wont stop there, nosiree. Keef continues.... .

One of the most under-publicized analyses...

"most underpublicized" usually means "most rediculous"... jus' sayin'...

...of 9/11 concludes that Osama Bin Laden assumed that the attacks on the U.S. would galvanize Islamic anger towards this country, and they'd overthrow their secular governments and woo-hoo we've got an international religious war. Obviously it didn't happen. It didn't even happen when the West went into Iraq. But if stuff like the Newsweek version of a now two-year-old tale about toilets and Qu’rans is enough to set off rioting in the streets of countries whose nationals were not even the supposed recipients of the ‘abuse’, then weren’t those members of the military or the government with whom Newsweek vetted the plausibility of its item, honor-bound to say “you can’t print this”?

Honestly, I've read that paragraph several times and I'm still not sure where Keef is going. So let's move on...

Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet — or has its proxies do it for them.
That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.

Keef can be a funny guy. Sometimes. No, really! (Though, he's no Craig Crawford...) But, what definition of "treasonous" is he applying here?

It’s also not very smart. While places like the Fox News Channel (which, only today, I finally recognized — it’s the newscast perpetually running on the giant video screens in the movie “1984”) ask how many heads should roll at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.

Oh, now even the controversy is phony! No lives were lost! It's all a conspiracy! Nothing happening here, move along....!

Firstly, the principal reporter on the Gitmo story was Michael Isikoff — “Spikey” in a different lifetime; Linda Tripp’s favorite journalist, and one of the ten people most responsible (intentionally or otherwise) for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Spikey isn’t just a hero to the Right — the Right owes him.

Aah, I remember it well, Keef. You hosted The Big Show on MSNBC. But, you couldn't stand covering the impeachment of President Clinton, so you quit the show and went back to ESPN. You blame Michael Isikoff for ruining your first run at a primetime news program. He, therefore, must be "a hero to the Right".

In terms of politics, this isn't well-defined, is it?

Out here in the real world, not everything comes down to partisan politics, Keef. Sometimes it's about truth and untruth; good journalism and reckless journalism; life and death.

I mean Conservatives might parrot McClellan and say ‘Newsweek put this country in a bad light.’ But they could just as easily thump their chests and say ‘See, this is what we do to those prisoners at Gitmo! You guys better watch your asses!’

Yes, we could say either one. It's just that the one that conservatives "parrot" (thanks for respecting others' ability to think) is true and your suggested alternative is a lie. And, "just as easily"? You're projecting again.

Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide.

Didn't I hand you your ass on that point already...?

Either way — and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep — Scott McClellan should resign.

The responsibility for those tragic deaths rest firstly with the rioters. Newsweek's blame is not foreseeing that a zealous few who refuse to believe anything other than that America is on a jihad against Islam would riot at the "news" of Korans being flushed down terlets. McClellan was right.

The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.

Clever ending, I gotta give ya that!

"Holier-than-thou remarks"? Well, at least they were based on facts, not paranoid conspiracy theories.

E-mail: KOlbermann@msnbc.com
Watch Keith each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET as he Counts down the best, the worst, and the oddest news stories of the day.

I find Keef unwatchable. He's not as funny as Paul Begala, or as amusingly sophist as Phil Donahue. At least he's not as annoyingly smug and humorless as Linda Ellerbee was on her nighttime "news" show some 25 years ago. "And so it goes..." Yeesh, she was infuriating. But, that's for another blather review...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2005

Bush voters banned!

There's an interesting little item over at Newsmax about a place called Ocean Haven.

Their homepage gives a few clues about their location:

"Ocean Haven is located on the Central Oregon Coast just 8 miles south of the village of Yachats & 30 miles south of Newport with Oregon Coast Aquarium, Yaquina Lighthouse & Bird Refuge. 5 miles north, within the Siuslaw National Forest, are Cape Perpetua’s Old Growth Forest with Spotted Owls, Marble Murelets, Spouting Horn & Devil’s Churn. 7 miles south are the Sea Lion Caves & Heceta Head Lighthouse. 18 miles south are the Oregon Dunes & the town of Florence."

Sounds pretty idyllic, eh? A great get-away place where all the wonders of the sea and shore can be enjoyed in a pristine setting.

Now let's have a look at their Practices page. It begins with this pronouncement:

WE WELCOME DIVERSITY Respecting the interdependence & diversity of all nature loving species.

Yay, diversity! Everyone can enjoy the natural wonders that Ocean Haven has to offer!

Oh, wait a minute. What was that about "all nature loving species"? Hmm, now let's see what and who are banned:


For health, safety and conservation concerns, Ocean Haven is unable to accommodate smokers. Cigarette buts represent the largest concentration of beach litter. Ocean fish & birds are endangered from the ingestion of the plastic filters.

Well, if they want to ban smoking on the premises I can certainly understand that. But, should the rule be "no smoking", not "no smokers"? I guess they'd rather just ban an entire "underclass" of people rather than give smokers a little area on a patio somewhere.


No campfires? Okay. But, ferkrisakes, what's a rustic retreat without incense?!


Ocean Haven offers pet allergen free rooms. The surrounding area is home to marine & coastal wildlife which is disturbed by the presence of dogs.


We charge for all persons on premises, regardless of age or length of visit.


Be practical & wear sturdy shoes, bring wind & rain gear & non-perishable foods. We provide beach boots & hiking sticks.

I suppose all that is reasonable. But, what's up with this now?:


Nature-friendly cleaning & maintenance. Committed to limiting human impact on nature. No Hummers, No RVs, No Bush Voters (due to his environmental destructive policies e.g.; nonparticipation in Kyoto Treaty, The Clear Skies Act, continuation of naval sonar in marine mammal habitats...) For more information, see the Advocacy Page . [emphasis added--TS]

Well, they mention Hummers but no other SUVs. I guess a Ford F-250 is okay.

But, no Bush voters?! Over 60 million people are banned from visiting Ocean Haven because they voted for Bush?!

Of course, the ban is impossible to enforce and is there simply as a way for them to throw in some issue advocacy for flavor. (I mean, is anyone going to try to make reservations and, when asked if they voted for Bush, say "Oh, darn it, you got me! I was hoping you'd forget to ask..."?) But let's look at those reasons:

"Nonparticipation in Kyoto Treaty". While President Bush certainly opposes the Kyoto Treaty as an economically destructive policy, only the Congress can ratify a treaty, and Kyoto went down in the Senate by a vote of, I believe, 93-0. Shouldn't all voters of all the Senators who voted it down be banned, as well?

And, for that matter, didn't John Kerry vote against it? Did he support ratifying Kyoto during the campaign? I don't think so, so why aren't Kerry voters banned, too?

"continuation of naval sonar in marine mammal habitats." Did this issue come up the campaign? I don't recall Kerry clamoring for a ban on the use of sonar. So, why do they "ban" only Bush voters?

It's because they're like most wackos. They live in a two-dimentional world where they think we have in a two-party system and it's one party too many. Fooels!

Okay, one other item from the Practices page:


No Room Phones * No Internet * No Television
Office phone & message service. Local calls free.
Quiet Hours: 9 PM to 9 AM

Now THAT I like!!!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

And the rotting from within has hit a fevered pitch...

Oh, I'm loving this!

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut - one-time running mate of Al Gore and lifelong Democrat - isn't a Democratic ideologue, and that makes some on the left mighty upset.

The New York Times reports Lieberman has really irked Democrats by:

  • His Bush-friendly commentary
  • A prominent picture on his Web site featuring Lieberman and President Bush
  • Distancing himself from his party on "security and social issues"

That's our Joe. Thinkin' straight and makin' a difference!
In his home state of Connecticut, some Democrats are getting fed up with Lieberman's perceived increasing disdain for left-wing ideology – so much so, there is an effort just now getting under way to replace him.
"I think he has betrayed his constituency and he is leaning way too far to the right," New Haven resident and Web designer Marjorie Clark told the Times. She and some 30 others who supported Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean's failed 2004 presidential bid met earlier this week to plan a "Dump Joe" campaign.

Think all you want, Marjorie. Hasn't done you any harm yet, I hope. You and 30 others, eh? Sounds like a Lebanese pro-Syrian-occupation rally to me!
But will it happen? Not likely; Lieberman's popularity remains high among both Democrats and Republicans in his state - as in almost-70-percent-approval-rating high. And for now, party officials say he's still one of them.

Seems that a big thorn in their claw is over their refusal to address the problem of the future of Social Security. Some unknown political hack has this sound advise:
"I think that Joe understands that, at this point in time, unity is the most important card Democrats have to play," one Democratic senator told the Times on anonymity. "He is sympathetic enough to that need that he is not going to bolt the reservation."

Erm... Unity is important. But, what unifies you is even more important, no?
I know, I know. Politicians are lawyers and their client is their party, not you or me. I get it. But, jeeze, could they at least prefrickin'tend to care about the issues that they prefrickin'tend to talk about?
An outside observer says:
"If this becomes 'You cannot work with Bush to solve Social Security,' then it will be a death blow to the Democratic Party. You will have more Republicans up here than we can handle," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told the Times.

Sound words, I say. And, guess what:
Lieberman agrees. He, like the president, wants to fix Social Security, not use it as a tool to let the president twist in the wind.
"There is a whole attitude out there, 'Just say No!,' " he told the Times. "In other words, 'Let the president sink with this proposal. We are winning.' But we are not winning because the victory here is to solve the Social Security problem."

Note to the Deanocrats:

Joe looks at policy and then decides which way to go based on principles. You look at politics and decide which way to go based on partisanship. Joe is a leader. You are pouty brats stomping your feet 'cause the adults wont let you have your way.

Lieberman avers he is a proud member of the Democratic Party and "I intend to stay that way."

Get with the times, Joe! There's only one big tent in this circus and yers ain't it anymore!

Neo-libs! That's what we need, folks. NEO-LIBS!!!!

I go sleep now...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 01:54 AM | Comments (3)

January 30, 2005

Democratic Undermineground Bemoans Freedom

The tyranophiles at Democratic Underground are in top form today. ShinerTX is disgusted that Iraqis are voting. Honestly, I don't know what type of nutritional deficiencies are required to allow the ideas espoused in his forum entry titled "The Iraq vote is making me sick this morning". Take a gander at these choice lines:

I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?

Wow. The Ba'athists and foreign terrorists are "freedom fighters" and voters are "puppets". "If you try to vote I will kill you! I am a freedom fighter and you will do as I say!" Er... Shiner? The freedom fighters are voting.
ShinerTX just can't wrap his mind around what he's witnessing:

I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bullshit. They have to know that the Americans don't want them to have power, because they know that Bush is in this for the oil, and now that he finally has it he's not going to let it go. This election is a charade.

Yeesh. That's right, folks. Obviously we're there to, somehow, steal their oil (though, I've never understood the logistics of how that might happen), and thus the elections are moot. Wont matter. It's all a distraction meant to lull the Iraqi people into a false sense of security so we can catch them unaware when we finally enslave them, mwah hah hah hah hah!!

Dazed and confused by the behavior of the duped Iraqis, ShinerTX then wonders if the Iraqis are onto the Americans' evil plans:

Maybe they're afraid and felt they had to vote. That's the only way I can explain it to myself.

See, it's fear of the coalition forces and the new Iraqi government -- with their long histories of feeding people into plastic shredders -- that is frightening them to the polls where they are in danger of being blown up by "freedom fighters". That's the only thing that makes sense, dag nab it!

Or, ShinerTX hopes, maybe they're dancing in the streets because they're voting for anti-democratic candidates...:

They're voting in candidates who they know will widen the resistance, take the fight to the streets, and finally drive the occupying forces out of their country. Perhaps they're smiling because--right under the American's noses--they're planting the seeds of a bigger and more effective resistance movement. Wouldn't that be fitting? Use *'s own tools against them?

Y'know, faith in a false premise can lead you to some really interesting revelations. If God Himself appeared and told a JFK conspiracy theorist that Oswald acted alone, he'd shout "Why, this conspiracy goes even further than I thought!" ShinerTX can't understand what he's seeing because he can't accept that Bush isn't Hitler. Pathetic. I almost feel sorry for the guy.

After spewing some rot about how Bush's inaugural address was an announcement of a world war on all non-democratic governments, ShinerTX concludes:

Let's hope the resistance got voted in, or if not, they only increase the fight and take down those who betrayed their country today by voting in this fraud election.

"Please let them vote for tyrants and terrorists who'll kill more Americans!" This is what "Democratic" Underground stands for, folks. Well... at least the member sobriquetted (sobriqued?) ShinerTX. I'm a-gonna explore a little more and see what else is there...

UPDATE: Thankfully there are some DU'ers who aren't so wacked out. While most of the other posters I've read echo many of ShinerTX's points (ie: the election is a sham), some commenters are genuinely appalled at what some posters and commenters have written. One example from ermoore (a regular with 383 comments under his/her belt) responding to another commenter:

Hey, it's fine to oppose * and repukes, but you need to step back and look at what you're saying. This is sad and ridiculous.

"They are fighting against all odds to preserve the integrity of their country from an occupying force. What is not to admire and respect about that?"

WTF?!!! Are you serious?!

You do realize that we invaded Iraq and not Sweden, right? There's a helluva lot not to respect and admire about people who would rather have Saddam in power than a democracy (yes, even an American-imposed democracy), especially when their means of opposition is killing civilians.

Are you one of those people who think that Stalin was a great hero and that the USSR was people's paradise to be emulated by all?

"Do they make mistakes? I'm sure they do. Do innocent people get hurt? Probably."

What we have here is a failure to communicate. You see, their mistake isn't when civilians are killed. They're trying to kill civilians. Civilians are the targets. "Probably"? You make me sad for the state of DU. Disgusting.

Thank you, ermoore, for restoring my faith in rationality among Democrats.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:10 PM | Comments (4)

December 19, 2004

Another Kinsley Fisking!

It's been almost two years since I undertook my first full-scale fisking. It was of a Michael Kinsley column in late January, 2003 that I wrote as an email to my ol' buddy ol' pal Freedom's Slave. Shortly afterward I started Blather Review on blogspot and made that fisking my first post.

I wasn't on line at all on Friday, and had little time yesterday to read much or to write anything. So, I've spent a lazy Sunday surfing blogs, news sites and stuff, and just found the new Michael Kinsley column via the Instapuppy blenderer.

I haven't read it yet, so this will be a Live FiskingTM! Hang on, folks, I'm going in blind!

Blogged Down

By Michael Kinsley
Sunday, December 19, 2004; Page B07

Yeah, but you obviously didn't write this today, didja Mikey? I publish my crappy works of artifice just after I finish rewriting them!

Okay, maybe I'm jumping into this too fast. Let's see what Michael the K has to say first before I presume that it's gonna torque me off... ;)

If you're going to peddle opinions for a living, self-assurance is essential. If you don't have it, you need to bluff.

Aah, yes. Opinion-making is just an intellectual poker game. The truth may be that all I've got to back up an argument is a pair of sevens. But why admit that when I can convince you that I've got aces backed with eights... as long as I don't blink...

People don't want to read a lot of "Oh dear, this is so terribly complicated, I just can't make up my poor little mind . . . ." Many's the pundit who has retired on full disability after developing a tragic tendency to see both sides of the issue.

Well, it'd certainly make for dull reading for an op-ed column and, I guess, and a columnist might lose readers if he or she couldn't get a rise out of either the pros and cons.
But are you telling me that if you ever found yourself so vexed for lack of certainty, you'd bluff to avoid your column's "retirement"?!

Of course, you didn't say that you'd resort to bluffing. But, beginning a column with this observation makes me wonder if you're projecting. On the other hand, I have no idea where you're going with this, so maybe I'll just wait and see.

Hey, I never promised that live fisking was a good idea. But let's trudge on...

Rarely, though, does even the most self-assured commentator on public affairs (i.e., George Will) inflate certainty to the level of a mathematical proof.

Hey! Why are you picking on George Will?! Is he any more "self-assured" than Maureen Dowd? Walter WIlliams? Jonathan Alter? Okay, Jonathan Alter suffers from acute self-assurance envy (ASAE), so nevermind that one.

So, what's this about a "mathematical proof" now? Persuasion is best achieved through air-tight, rock-solid argument. While logic and fact-based argumentation is not as exact a science as mathematics, it's at least a second cousin one removed.

Premise 1: All green bananas are unripe.
Premise 2: All of these bananas are green.
Conclusion: All of these bananas are unripe.

That's pretty damn near "mathematical" f'yask me. So I'm not sure what you mean by "rarely...does even the the most self-assured commentator...inflate [their] certainty to the level of a mathematical proof." Persuasion itself is the art of presenting a near-mathematically provable argument. Except that it's logic and deduction. We'll call it mathematics of the mind. The trick trick is to keep it from becoming heuristics of the heart or, worse, sophistry of the soul.

But let's find out where Michael is going with this, shall we already...?

It's happened to me only once,

BWAHAHAHA!!! You wrote "only"! You're bluffing!!!

on the subject (unfortunately) of Social Security privatization. Not, perhaps, the most glamorous topic on which to waste the gift of certitude. But, to borrow philosophically from our secretary of defense, you make do with the epiphany you have, not with the epiphany you might wish or want to have.

Way t' blahbiddy blah yer way into a dig at Rumsfeld! Well played!

I won't bore you with my mathematical proof that Social Security privatization can't work. Not quite true: I will bore you with it, but not until next week. Right now I have something more exciting to bore you with.

Aah, that rare "mathematical proof" that only hacks like George Will ever provide is coming. Is there a point to this column other than to dazzle us with your penchant for dry self-assurance?

Like you, I'm sure, I try to be a good sport about the inexplicable fact that other people sometimes disagree with me. What other choice is there? The nonsense that other people think is often amazing and always disappointing -- but at this late date it's not really surprising, is it?

"this late date"? Feeling a little long in the tooth are we? :P

And other people are disappointing in so many ways. What's one more? For all I know, you yourself may even disagree with me about this or that, and I may disagree with you about the other. It's everywhere.

Golly, surely not!

Okay, what have we got so far? We have a Michael Kinsley column that seems to be about disagreement and argumentation and how not to let it destroy your ability to argue and disagree forever, or, how to make a living by shrugging off them pesky, annoying disagree'ersTM. When the $#@& do blogs finally get mentioned?!

And other people are so stubborn! Possibly unlike you, I actually get paid to try to convince people that I am right and they are wrong, and thank goodness I'm not paid on the basis of results. It's almost enough to make you consider the possibility that other people are right and you are wrong. Merely considering this possibility is therapeutic, if you don't make a habit of it.

*yawn* Other than trying to purposefully wrangle yourself into a fetal knot of would-be willful uncertainty, what the fark is your point?! Get to it already!!

But when you're sure of something to a mathematical certainty, everything changes. It becomes supremely irritating that other people continue to debate the issue as if there were some doubt. It is enraging that some people even act as if certainty belonged to the other side. This general failure to acknowledge that the issue is settled and the argument over is even more irritating when you have explained it all in columns and editorials over the years. Nor does it help when the president himself passes up every opportunity to accept your airtight logic, as Bush did in pushing partial privatization yet again at his White House economic conference this past week. The gentle explanation that the president may be unfamiliar with you and your logic is, oddly, not comforting.

Wow! And thank you!

This column isn't about logic or argument or truth or sophistry or social security or, apparently, not even blogs. Nope. It's about Michael Kinsley fretting about why he's not the center of everyone else's universe, too.

Is this something we all are s'posed to be just as angst-ridden over, Mike? "I talk and talk and it seems like I can't change everyone else who talks and talks and so I'm feeling sad and lonely and wondering if maybe I should just go home, feed the cats and withdraw to quiescent uncertainty."
Buck up, man! We're never strangers when we agree to disagree. More sugar in yer coffee...?

That conference was the last straw. Last week, to vent my frustration, I sent an e-mail to some economists and privatizing buffs saying, look, either show me my mistake or drop this issue. Refute me or salute me. Disprove it or move it. Or words to that effect.

As an afterthought, I sent copies to a couple of blogs (kausfiles.comand andrewsulllivan.com). What hap- pened next was unnerving.

Ooo, this is getting good...

A few days later, most of the big shots hadn't replied. But overnight I had dozens of responses from the blogosphere. They're still pouring in. And that's just direct e-mail to me. Within hours, there were discussions going on in a dozen blogs, all hyperlinking to one another like rabbits.

Erm.. "hyperlinking to one another like rabbits"? Now this is just plain vulgar, Mikey. I thought you were better than this.

Just so I don't sound too naive: I am familiar with the blog phenomenon, and I worked at a Web site for eight years.Some of my best friends are bloggers.

Oh, dear. The "present company excepted" disclaimer rears it's ugly head...

Still, it's different when you purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propa- ganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don't get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement -- mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profession -- with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.

Wow! People who aren't actually paid to think actually think anyways?! What a surfuckingprise, Mikey! Next thing you know yer butler might recall his own first name! Maybe gonna hafta rethink the whole pardigm yet again?

Why the difference? Length, for one. I'll be hard-put, next week, even to summarize my own argument, let alone discuss those of others, in the space available to a columnist. Letters get even less space, if they are published at all. Certainty that what you write will get posted is surely another factor. It's nice to know you're not wasting your time. Ease is important, too. You can send your views electronically to a blog in less time than it takes to find a stamp, let alone type a letter.


What f@&$#!*ng world are you living in? I mean, we're at the end and I'm sure you thought you had a point but clearly your well is as dry as mine.

I'd hoped that fisking a Michael Kinsley column could inspire a post worthy of my readers' patience and loyalty. I know now that I was wrong.

Michael, if I may call ya Michael,

You get paid for this; I don't. If I click on yer name then it's because I want to read a salient column, not a wanton slope-shouldered poutfest.

I'm very disappointed, Michael. I've just live-blogged a piece of crap.

Buck up, man. Inspiration is only one less donut away. Just, next time, gimmee something worth arguing about to argue about!


Oh, wait, there's more:...!

Most interesting, though, is how the Web enables people who are scattered physically around the globe, who share an interest in a topic as naturally uninteresting as the economic theory behind Social Security privatization, to find one another and enjoy a gabfest. Webheads like to call this phenomenon "community." I used to think that was a little grand and a little misleading. Populist electronic conversation mech- anisms like blogs and Web bulletin boards are more about the opportunity to talk than about the opportunity to listen. But that may be true of physical communities as well.


The writer is editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times.


Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

Who told Noam Chomsky that he should start a blog?

I just found out, via Rusty (and he was late to the party, too, apparently), that Noam Chomsky has a blog. Or, maybe, had a blog. He posts even less frequently than I do, and his last post is dated July 26th.
If that's all I have to work with then that's all I got...
I present a fisking of Chomsky's last post:

Turning The Tide: An Independent Iraq

For what it's worth, polls in Iraq reveal very
considerable and apparently growing support for withdrawal
of the US occupying army, apart from the Kurdish regions.

Will you source those poll numbers? No.
And I guess the long suffering Kurds have no voice in your world; a world where, hopefully, all people have a voice. So, we'll just dismiss the Kurds voices as so much unwanted static getting in the way of the unstoppable march of tyranny for the rest of this piece...

That doesn't mean withdrawal tomorrow. No one is talking about that, and it isn't even technically feasible.

By "technically" I presume you mean "logistically". "Technically" adresses a specialized reference. Logistics refers to the process of accomplishing a goal. BTW, aren't you some kind of a linguist specialist? I think I read that somewhere...

But expeditious withdrawal, with a clear deadline, and an authentic rather than merely nominal transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis.

Err... That's a sentence fragment. Are you drunk, Mr. Chomsky?

That isn't in the cards, but not because of concerns that the region will be left in chaos; rather, because it would mean abandoning the primary and quite crucial war aim of establishing the first stable military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the energy-producing regions, a major lever of world control, as has long been understood. The US isn't about to do that.

Oh, it's about oil again!
Maybe even 3,000 dead friends can't shake your encrusted pathology loose from your self-aggrandized pillars of philosophical recitude. [WTFWT?!] The oil was flowing. Rich and thundering rivers of oil were barrelling through the pipelines on September 10th and the Americans were sitting prim and pretty, m'kay?
If you think that we're in Iraq and Afghanistan for oil then you need to sit yourself in a corner and ponder on just what pre-adolescent trauma you've suffered that's led you to believe that surrender is a virtue.
Your pathology is not mine, thank you very much.

There are other reasons. An independent Iraq would probably take steps to gain a leading position in the Arab world, which would mean confronting the main enemy, US- backed Israel. hat would mean rearming, probably with WMD, to counter Israel's.

Typos aside; what the fuck are you talking about? The Iraqis are looking for an end to their problem: religeous sovereignty.
Remember the seperation of church and State? They ought to be your heroes, you anti-religeous twink. The Iraqi people are the KEY to bringing the middle east, dragged kicking and screaming of need be, into the 18th century. I have nothing but respect for the Iraqi people, and nothing but contempt for the insurgents who aim to thwart their future just because it'd be a future of Freedom.

You are a tyrant. If not directly, then by proxy. You want to let oppression go on and on just because you wonder whether or not it's your place to stop it. It is your place to stop it. If you give up the will to stop it then you will eventually have to submit to it.

Get it yet?

It might also lead to improving relations with Iran. Not impossible is a Shi'ite alliance with Iran and a majority-run Iraq, which might further stimulate moves towards independence in the nearby Shi'te areas of Saudi Arabia, where the oil is. That would lead to domination of the world's energy resources by an independent Shi'ite alliance. Nothing inevitable about any of this of course, but hardly impossible. Can you imagine the US tolerating anything like this? These are among the reasons why permitting democracy in Iraq, even if the rhetoric were meant seriously by Washington and Western commentators, is hardly a likely prospect.

I'll refrain from snarky commentary from now on because this is just pathetic.
Our friend Noam has not even jumped the shark, he has fallen into the tank.

Noam, if yer listening, come back to us, man. You used to make so much sense. You can't let weed and/or drink and/or crack and/or lonliness dictate your thought processes.

Suppose that internal pressures in the US, and whatever pressures exist elsewhere, led to abandonment of the major war aims, so that there could be plans for expeditious withdrawal of the occupying army and transfer of authentic sovereignty. Would that lead to chaos in the region? Or would it reduce tensions and conflicts in the region? We cannot say much with confidence, of course, any more than we could have said anything with confidence about withdrawal of Japanese armies from much of Asia in the early 1940s, or of Russian forces from Afghanistan, and many other cases. But that lack of confidence is not much of an argument for military occupation.

Posted by Noam Chomsky at July 29, 2004 12:07 PM |

I don't even have the cajones to refute this anymore.

Bless you, ol' bean, but I am sorry for you, Noam. I really am.
Hope yer back soon.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:13 PM | Comments (4)

August 11, 2004

This is so easy it's almost frightening

Fisking Helen Thomas, that is.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when they write something untrue, and imagine they just haven't gotten the lowdown, or are just too dumb-struck with tunnel vision to see all of the facts.
But, when it comes to someone like Helen Thomas, who's supposedly well-read and, thus, "clued in" to the facts, then I gotta wonder if she's either pathologically willfully ignorant, or simply just a lying old hag.

From her most recent column I present:

Kerry Forgot Vietnam Lesson In Voting To OK Iraq War

BOSTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made a name for himself more than 30 years ago as a passionate anti-Vietnam war protest leader. But something happened on the way to the U.S. Senate where he adopted that exclusive club's credo: "To get along, go along.''

So far, so good. The Invisible Senator hasn't accomplished much at all in his 19 years there. He seems to like letting his 99 colleagues do the work, then get the gyst of what they've recommended and vote up or down.
But, I dunno Helen. At times he also seems to be the NASCAR Senator , content to just take his seat and turn left for 500 miles.

Surely he hasn't forgotten he fought the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time in Vietnam and the ensuing quagmire that caused the greatest domestic division in the United States since the Civil War.

Well, he sure hasn't forgotten that he fought in the war. But, fighting (protesting) the war? Funny, he never mentions it.

Why didn't those memory bells ring for him when he voted last year for a resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq?

Actually that was two years ago. But time flies by faster and faster as you get older, so we'll let that one slide.

That resolution was a replica of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution that took the country into Vietnam and gave the president the power to do anything necessary for national security -- with few questions asked.

Yes, it was. And I was surprised that more people didn't bring that up at the time. The resolution passed in the Congress 534 to 1.

Still, the Congress can just as easily revoke it if they wanted to.

Kerry won medals ["won", not "earned"? What was he doin', competing in the Jungle Olympics? - TS] for his heroism in Vietnam and his war record has been proudly paraded at the Democratic Party's National Convention where his Vietnam veteran buddies and an array of top retired military brass skeptical about the Iraq war were in the spotlight.

Like the rest of the country, Kerry now knows that all the major reasons cited by Bush to justify his war of choice -- the alleged weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaida and the imminent threat allegedly posed by Iraq -- have turned out to be false.

Aah, finally, we've come to your first swooping bevy of moonbattery!

"War of choice". Every war is a war of choice -- even a defensive war where the alternative is surrender.

But, of course, what you meant by that was "A war that we started, where our actions ended the status quo of Peace." The "peace" that you so sorely miss was a 12-year cease-fire that existed only because the U.N. and the U.S. refused to hold Saddam to the terms of the end of Desert Storm. It was years of Iraqi anti-aircraft guns shooting at our patrol planes. That "peace" was years and years of the filling-up of mass graves, imprisonment of children, of torture chambers and rape rooms. And "peaceful" payments, from Saddam to you, if your son "martyred" himself for the cause of Islamist theocracy in the garden of Isreal.

More on this later, dear Helen.

"the imminent threat allegedly posed by Iraq". Once again, with feeling: Bush. Never. Said. That. Saddam. Was. an Imminent. Threat. He said that we couldn't wait until he was because that would mean that he -- with his un"alleged weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaida" -- would have the capability of enabling a nuclear "dirty bomb" (or other such device). Maybe you just need to pop a few Cognimax pills and everything'll be fine.

Bush has neither apologized nor offered an acceptable explanation for that immense national deception that is still taking American and Iraqi lives daily.

Maybe because there was no deception. J'ever entertain that possibilty? Of course not; and I doubt that that consideration is imminent.

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry socked it to Bush without mentioning him by name. In several pointed remarks in his address to the delegates, the challenger hit Bush's obvious vulnerabilities and credibility problems.

"I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war,'' Kerry said. "I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.''

Wow, I'm convinced. So much empty rhetoric, so many rote accusations, so little evidence. I guess that just saying it makes it so! What more can a barking moonbat ask for?!

Kerry also took a swipe against Bush's militant foreign policy but stopped short of saying what other senators have said: That if they knew then what they know now, they never would have supported Bush's unilateral and unprovoked decision to attack Iraq. Somehow, Kerry cannot cross that bridge, apparently fearing he will be called "unpatriotic'' or accused of not supporting the troops in Iraq.

Welp, he's actually come out and said that he would have voted for the war anyway. I guess he's even more frightened and uncourageous than you thought! What a lame-ass, eh?

But he has some second thoughts.

read: developing strategy.

He promised the delegates -- and the nation -- that, "as president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.''

read: blah blah blahbiddy blah...

He was obviously referring to Bush's blame-shifting to the CIA for providing him with the flimsy data he flaunted to back up a war he already wanted.

As opposed to what... blaming himself for reading it? Did you skip your naptime again?

"Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so,'' Kerry said. "And proclaiming 'mission accomplished' certainly doesn't make it so,'' he said in another jab at the president's past statements.

Okay, Helen, now I know what you're doing, you clever gal you! You're presenting a farse, right? You're actually making fun of those rediculously partisan idiotarians that want to convince us that they actually believe that "mission accomplished" was one of "the President's past statements"! That those words actually came out of his mouth and not just two words on a banner that the returning sailors on the U.S.S. Lincoln had put up to celebrate their homecoming! Oh, you had me so-o-o fooled for a minute there!

Oh, wait. You're not joshing? That's not a smirk to let me in on the joke? You're serious?!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! dammit, my sides...

Kerry promised that he would "bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.''

Vietnam, Panama, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti... Do any of these ring a bell?

What was missing in Kerry's good [sic] speech was a roadmap to peace and reconciliation in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Reconciliation? Reconciliation?!

Kerry and his nominating convention cloaked him in the Vietnam theme all week long. It's a shame that he seems to have forgotten another lesson he could have learned from Vietnam: He can best support the troops in Iraq by bringing them home as soon as possible.

Let's see now.

We were in Vietnam attempting to drive back the Communist invaders from the north thus to secure liberty in the south. We had no direct national interest, just the sneaking feeling that maybe we should bare any burden to support any friend and oppose any foe in the defense of liberty.

We're in Iraq and Afghanistan because our nation was brutally attacked three years ago. We want to cut the snake of Islamist tyranny off at the head 'cause that's the only way to kill it.

The Islamist movement was driven out of Europe by the Crusades and, to this day, children in the middle east are taught in their schools that that was a setback to the solemn goal: to see that the world submits to Islamic law.

Feeling bitterly outcast, they try to needle their way outward through intimidation and terror. The creation of Isreal 56 years ago is seen as a further tresspass on the territory of Islam. The children of the muslim world are taught to hate Jews, and Jews they do hate. Passionately. Not so much because they're Jews (as opposed to Christians, Hindus or Buddhists), but because they're non-Muslims with a recent foothold in traditionally (to them) Islamic land.
They now populate Europe in astounding and increasing numbers in order to "Islamicize" the west by sheer force of their presence. It's not the past so much as the future that they focus on. Like a laser.

How do we best preserve Freedom from the religeous tyranny that this country was founded to defeat?

The answer, dear Helen, is to go to the source of the problem and do away -- premptively -- with the shallowness of theocracy that infests the entire region, and to bring to it the prosperity that comes with democracy. We are choosing between a future of religeous persecution, medieval Inquisitions, public stonings and misery, and one of enlightenment, liberty and prosperity.

That war has been fought and won before, but only because we knew that it was worth it. We now have to drag a backward, narrow-minded, tyranical sandtrap kicking and screaming into the 17th century, 'cause it's either that or a return to darkness.

In this day, at this time, the crossroad has been reached and we have a choice. Don't cower away and hope that everything'll work itself out. If you do then yer just in denial.
Persecution and terror, or; liberty and peace. That's our choice today.
Which shall it be, Helen? Which shall it be?

Which shall it be?

(Helen Thomas can be reached at the e-mail address hthomas@hearstdc.com).

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:32 PM | Comments (3)

August 06, 2004

There's no shame in being a mental contortionist

I haven't done a full-scale fisking in a while and it's high time I got my dander up! So, let's have a little look-see at Jesse Jackson's latest op-ed piece from the Chicago Sun Times.

There's no shame in being liberal
August 3, 2004

There they go again. Devoid of ideas, running from the record of failure on the economy and national security,

Wow, is Jesse criticizing the Democrats for once?! Nope, he's just projecting their characteristics onto "the enemy".
President Bush and his campaign are going negative again, trying to label John Kerry rather than level with Americans.

Bush will expose John Kerry because Kerry wont show you his true colors like the fact that he hasn't produced one bit of legislation with his name on it in 19 years. This is called levelling with Americans
Now the refrain is that Kerry and Edwards are too ''liberal'' for America.

Yep, the 1st and 4th most liberal members of the Senate. I'd say they're pr-r-r-etty darn liberal.

Democrats tend to duck when such charges are leveled. Clinton dressed up as a ''New Democrat,'' trying to separate himself rhetorically. Reformers now call themselves ''progressives,'' trying to avoid the label. Frankly, I think it's time for people to stand up.

Stand back for a lesson in how today's leftists are just like our God-fearing founding fathers! Oh, boy, is this great...!

Think about it: A conservative Christian is a contradiction in terms. Christ wasn't a conservative. He fed the hungry simply because they were hungry. He didn't require that they go to work first.

Okay, let's just set aside the fact that it's rediculous to apply modern definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" (of which there are several -- even within the paragraphs of this op-ed piece) to a 2,000 year-old society governed by Kings and Emperors.

The hungry that Christ fed were his followers. He was not their government and they were not his citizens. You can argue, I suppose, that they were in the Kingdom of God and Jesus was their King, but then you get into a dangerous area if you want to compare Christ to the Federal government and Christians to American citizens. Okay? Okay? Okay.

Christ fed his followers with bread and fishes that he produced under his own divine powers, not by taxing society and it's citizens into economic stagnation.
And that line about "He didn't require that they go to work first" sounds like you not only have forgotten the context of where and when and how He fed them, but you almost sound like Jesus was an enabler for the deadly sin of Sloth. That may be a liberal attitude for a "king" to take, but it's certainly not a Christian one.

He healed the sick, simply because they were sick. He didn't push them into an insurance company, or let the drug companies gouge them on prices. Jesus was a liberal; Herod was the conservative.

Maybe I know now why you didn't include the title "Rev." before your name at the head of this article. This isn't the writing of a Reverend, it's the writing of a demagogue.

The sick who were healed were healed by their Faith in Jesus. There were plenty of sick and crippled people around him who were not healed in His presence.
The bit about insurance companies and drug companies at the time of Christ is just too incoherent to address. But I suppose your message is that modern doctors and pharmaceutical scientists ought to be forced to work for the government because, dagnabbit, King Jesus did!

Moses was the liberal; Pharaoh was the conservative. Abolitionists were liberals; slave owners were the conservatives. Mandela is a liberal; the South African apartheid leaders were the conservatives. That's why conservative Dick Cheney supported apartheid over Mandela, and approved of keeping Mandela in prison.

Wow. Talk about a nonsensical string of conclusions that have to basis in rationality. (That was redundant, I know.)
I suppose you could say that Moses, abolitionists, etc were liberals because they were liberators -- much like today's conservatives. But what in tarnation is conservative about Herod, Pharaoh or any other tyrant? You clearly have no understanding of what a conservative is.

And Dick Cheney did not support apartheid or keeping Nelson Mandela in prison you lying sack of shit. He opposed economic sanctions on South Africa because it only hurts the people we wanted to help liberate -- much as you opposed sanctions on Iraq, Cuba, and anywhere else your favorite tyrants choke the livelihood out of the People.

Cheney also voted against drafting a meaningless Congressional resolution calling for Mandela's release. My memory is that he thought it was a confrontational tactic at a time when we were trying to convince the SA government to do away with apartheid. I wished he voted in favor of it, because, frankly, I like confrontational tactics when you know you're in the right about something. But claiming that Cheney "approved of keeping Mandela in prison" is a vicious lie that undermines, in my mind, everything that comes out of your mouth. Liar.

The Suffragettes were liberals; those who opposed the vote for women were conservatives.

Would you stop it already?! What the hell is the rationale for these statements?!

Martin Luther King was a liberal; the segregationists were conservatives. He wanted to end racial discrimination; they wanted to conserve it.

Ah ha! So, you're taking the literal meaning of "conservative" and using to define Conservatives! I should have known it'd be this simplistic!

Advocates of national health care are liberals; George W. Bush, the HMOs and drug companies are the conservatives. They profit from the current system and want to conserve it from reforms that would make health care affordable for all Americans.

Finally, a paragraph that's, at least, mostly true!
What the drug companies want to do is conserve a system whereby they can actually turn a profit and thus actually create the drugs that you want to take from them and hand out like condoms in a schoolyard. Without the money flowing in there ain't no more R&D and thus no more nifty miracle drugs.

What the insurance companies want to do is stop the creation of a system that drives up the cost of healthcare by further removing barriers to price gouging and abuse on the part of physicians and hospitals, or driving up the cost by providing a system where mommy carts little Billy off to the government run clinic everytime he gets the sniffles. [See: Nationalized Healthcare]

America was a liberal idea. Washington and Jefferson were the liberals; King George was the conservative.

Again: a Tyrant is not a Conservative, m'kay? Oh, but I suppose that, once again, you're invoking the irrelevant meaning from the root word "conserve". That would mean that supporters of school vouchers are liberals, while those that want to conserve the anti-choice status quo are conservatives?
Or, if I really wanna be a jerk, I could say that Hitler rolling over Europe was the liberal and the Allies were the conservatives. See, isn't demonizing philosophical opponents with illogical argumentation fun?! :D
God yer dumb.

America was founded on the proposition that ''We the people'' were endowed with inalienable rights -- including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when oppressed by an unjust ruler, we had the right to declare our independence and establish our own form of government.

Hurray! A paragraph completely devoid of lies, sophistry and idiocy!
But I always wonder why you "liberals" always stop short at "...and the pursuit of Happiness." Don't you like what immediately follows: "And that, to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed"?
Not too fond of that phrase, are ya, Rev...?

And America was built by liberals -- by dissenters, by those persecuted for their religion or their race. The Statute of Liberty doesn't say, ''Send me your privileged, your wealthy, your powerful yearning to conserve their fortunes.'' It says, ''Send me your tired, your poor, your humble yearning to breathe free.''

Damn right. But are you under the impression that the tired and the poor were coming here to remain tired and poor? Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, they came here to be free and, oh I dunno, become wealthy? Or, at least, wealthier?
Of course, once they made a little money they might actually be interested in "conserving" it rather than handing it over to the UberState -- like the one that they just got themselves the hell out of. [See: Eastern Europe]

Today the choices are equally clear. Bush and Cheney argue for tax cuts for the wealthy; they want to consolidate the wealth and power of the ''have mores'' that the president calls ''my base.''

Welp, I just lost what little respect I (may have) had left for ya, Reverand J.J.
Now you're parrotting Michael Moore's use of a tongue-in-cheek address by Bush at an Al Smith dinner as if it were a serious address.

And, fercrisakes, you don't "consolidate" wealth, you create it and invest it in expanding business which then expands employment. I can accept that you don't agree with the economic philosophy, but I can't believe you don't, by now, understand it.
Or, maybe you don't.

Or, maybe you do, and just find it easier to call people "evil" than to have to actually, oh I dunno, debate the issue honestly.

Liberals are for rolling back tax cuts for the rich and investing in education so every child gets a fair shot.

And, I guess Ted Kennedy's a conservative then, 'cause he wrote the Education Bill that Bush signed. No, wait, he's a liberal because he voted for the change that it brought. No, wait, he's a conservative because he voted against the tax cuts when Bush wanted to change... ...aw crud, you make my hair hurt...

Conservatives would conserve the two Americas: one system of education, health care and retirement security for the powerful, and one for the rest of us.

Great, now yer channelling John "crossing-over-in-a-pleasant-pink" Edwards...

Liberals would make certain that everyone has the right to a high-quality education, to affordable health care, to a decent retirement.

Well, that wouldn't be a "Right", it'd be a charitable contribution, no? Some eligible people get these things for free, in whole or in part, right now. The trick is to get assistence to those who can't afford insurance (because prices have gone through the roof due in large part to doctors and hospitals having to pay skyrocketting malpractice insurance premiums because people yer buddy John "Two Americas" Edwards like to sue doctors and hospitals into destitution over chicken shit).

Bush wants to cut guaranteed benefits under Social Security while privatizing it;

Another lie. Hey, wow!! Yer on a roll, eh?!!!

Bush's plan for partial privitization (about 2%) would be voluntary, and all promises made in the past will be kept.

liberals want to save Social Security so that all Americans have a basic floor beneath their feet.

...by "conserving" the status quo which will bankrupt the country within 30 years...

Bush is against a minimum wage; liberals want to raise the minimum wage. Bush wants to weaken the 40-hour week and reduce those eligible for overtime; liberals want to make certain workers get paid overtime if they have to work more than 40 hours a week.

All of this is news to me. I don't know where you got these "facts", but, if the rest of the article is any indication of their veracity then I'll just assume that they're lies.
Par, meet Course.

You can pick your side -- liberal or conservative, for change or for the status quo, for the poor or for the privileged. For me, I stand with Christ against Herod; Moses against the Pharaoh; the abolitionists against the slaveholders; King against the segregationists, the Suffragettes against the male politicians; the many against the few, and liberals against this crowd in the White House.

Why didn't you throw in "The Hymies Jews against Hitler"? I guess you thought it might cause a ruckus if you were comparing conservatives to Nazis, but that if you just left it at comparing liberals to Christ and conservatives to Herod, Pharaoh, slave masters, racist Democratic segregationists, sexists and any other tyrant you could think up that no one would notice. You really are a whackjob, aren't ya?

But whatever you choose, the next time Bush and Cheney rail about Kerry being too liberal, remember that America was a liberal idea from the start.

Yep. We pushed out the European world of religious intolerance, anti-semitism, slavery (okay, that took nearly 100 years... I know, I know), speech codes, warrantless searches, economic tyranny, the State-run press, and a whole host of other things that I, for one, am eager to "conserve" for future generations of Americans.

I suppose you might want to, at this juncture (or any other juncture that happens to come along), implore me, in your vein-poppingly socialist fervor, to look at what Jesus meant when he said "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and give unto God what is God's".
Great, I say! Caesar gets Nothing!

When it comes to wealth that's created, and how and why it's created, all you can see is the "evil" of "selfishness". You might like to be a cog in a wheel or a drone in a hive, but receiving only what we need does not inspire US to produce according to our ability. Y'get it yet? I've said it before and I'll s-s-s-ay it again: We're strong because we're rich, and we're rich because we're free.

Sapping the very individualism that has made this country great is exactly what will would if it could (almost got me there!) destroy our greatness and send us down the spiral toward mediocrity and the apathetic sloth that Europe currently "enjoys".

And right there's the uncommon ground between us, "Rev."
As Henry David Thoreau wrote (and I think we can all agree that he was a "Liberal"): "That government governs best that governs least".
It seems that I see Greatness in America where you only see "neglect", almost as if you see government - not Freedom - as the cure-all for whatever might ail us.

Be careful, my friend. Remember the axiom "That government that can give you everything you want is a government that can take away everything you have".

If that axiom doesn't cause you pause then you, finally, and unfortunately, like so many modern "progressives" before you, have decided to give everything unto Caesar because you have mistaken him for God.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:06 PM | Comments (9)

January 06, 2004


Drudge alert:

A state auditor's report found that the administration of former Vermont governor Howard Dean failed to take steps to prevent the appearance of impropriety in negotiating a contract for processing health care claims of state employees.

Now, I'm no big fan of Howard Dean, but, what the hell does this mean?
"...failed to take steps to prevent the appearance of impropriety...?" Is this the great undiscovered secret of the locked-down Dean records?
More info on this story is definately needed, Matt...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:42 AM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2003

MoveOn.org going global?

There may not be much anymore to this Drudgereport item that MoveOn.org would solicit foreign donations only to funnel them into Democrat campaign coffers, but one interesting point is made by the fact that the possibility seemed so apropos:

Foreign contributers -- who don't have the interests of the United States at heart -- support Democrats. Who'd a-thunk it?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2003

Homer MacCauliff, Chairman: DNC.

There's a Simpson's reference for every occassion!

I've been trying to come up with an analogy for the MacCauliff-Clinton-Daschel approach to politics. They see their house is on fire and think "Hey! gasoline is wet! Let's throw some of THAT on it!"

Ever since Al Gore started the War in the Courts in 2000 we've had non-stop sophistry from the Demagogic Party. Blather and Brimstone. No ideas, just a reactionary game of Sit n' Spin.

They were on the ropes in the '02 mid-terms, and threw gasoline on the fire at the Senator Wellstone memorial service. They went into free-fall and lost big.

They've been trying to regain some of the lost support by becoming increasingly shrill and hostile, and then wonder why they're about to lose the biggest Democratic stronghold in the nation: California.

If all indications are correct then there are about to be a slough of lawsuits aimed at negating the recall vote and, in the process, disgust Americans even further. More gasoline on the fire.

Oh, The Simpsons!
Here's the life lesson reference:

It's the episode that begins with Homer and Bart using explosives to fix everyday problems around the house. That end-table's drawer is stuck, "No problem!" says Homer as he stuffs an M-80 into the drawer. "BOOM!!" and the drawer flies open, but destroys the end table. "Can't argue with results," chimes Marge!

There's a problem to be solved in Lisa's room (I forget exactly what), and Homer and Bart end up charring the bedroom.
"Hmmm," mutters Homer thoughtfully, "It's gonna take a lot of explosives to clean up this mess."

Unless the Dems get rid of the attitude of MacCauliff-Clinton-Daschel and everything they really stand for, the Democratic Party, sooner rather than later, may suddenly find themselves extinct.


Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2003

the law of unintended eco/nsequences

I never thought I'd link to Newsmax.com, but here it is.

I don't link to them because a) they tend to inflect silly partisan invection that only hurts the message (I guess they assume they're preaching to the choir and thus don't care how over the top they sound); and b) they never link their sources.

But, take it from me (ROFLMAO!!!), this is legit.
The insulation of the thin steel webbing of the WTC, and the eco-safe insulation of Columbia's external tanks, are what caused their untimely destructions.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:35 PM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2003

Jonathan Alter sucks at his job

I just want to say right off: Jonathan Alter is not only a partisan, he's an ignoramus. Every time I've seen him on a cable news show, or heard him on Imus, he's never failed to make some bone-headed comments that show how little he cares for keeping up on the news/topics he shows up to yammer about.

For instance; I listen to Rush Limbaugh during my lunch hours, and often hear Rush criticizing President Bush about this and that (usually his bloated budgets and his State Dept.). But does Jonathan Alter hear that?
Here's the text (from memory) of an appearance on Imus last week (talking about conservatives in talk radio) :

Alter: "I mean, Rush Limbaugh is right-wing. Do you think you will ever hear him criticize the president or any Republican? (chuckling) It's just not going to happen."

Or this from about a year and a half ago (I like this so much because Imus seems to realize how pathetic a commentator Alter is, and shows it in his voice):

Imus: "So, what do you think is going to happen to John Walker Lindh?"
Alter: "Well, he's going to have to go through one of these military tribunals..."
Imus: "Well, Lindh is an American, Jonathan."
Alter: "...and..."
Imus: "And the policy doesn't apply to US citizens."
Alter: "..uh..."

And this is from Britt Hume's show on FoxNews:

Alter: "...and now we've learned that some of the hijackers didn't even know that they were going to die in a suicide mission when the planes hit..."
(Fred Barnes and others jumped in, but Britt took it from there:)
Hume: "No, no. It was that they didn't know precisely WHEN their missions would take place, but they knew they going on a suicide mission at some point."
Alter: "Well...whatever."

But the biggest proof that Jonathan Alter doesn't pay attention to the news -- that he allegedly expounds on -- was when Bush picked Dick Cheney as his Veep.
For days and days all we heard was the word "gravitas." Everywhere. All day and night it was "gravitas gravitas gravitas."

After three or four days of this, Jonathan Alter was on TV (I think it was on John Gibson's old MSNBC show), and, when asked what Cheney brought to the ticket, Alter actually said (in his most smugly arrogant elitist let-me-teach-you-something tone):

Alter: "Well, John, there's something that someone of Cheney's expertise brings to the Bush ticket, and there's a word for it. And that word is 'gra-vi-tas'."

I nearly through my cat at the TV.

I had a point to make other than bashing Jonathan Alter as the useless pundit that he is. What was it? Oh yeah! I read this. It's his latest column (though a couple o'weeks old, and it's co-written with Karen Breslau. At the very bottom it says "With Jennifer Ordonez in Los Angeles."
I mean, the guy needs two co-authors, probably to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't embarrass NBC with his random idiocies.

I was going to fisk the whole thing but I realize that my blood pressure would rise and I just had a bowl of Ramen's Sodium Bisque.

UPDATE: Just out of curiosity I did a google search on "Jonathan Alter sucks". Wow! I'm not the only one who's noticed! Pretty please, read this!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:17 PM | Comments (5)

August 23, 2003

Liberal Interpretation

I went to college in New Haven, Connecticut: the birthplace of Pizza! (Well, at least, it's reputed to be.)
Pepe's, Sally's, Modern, and a host of other joints -- seemingly established and unchanged since not long after the earth cooled -- offer the best coal-fired brick oven apizza (pronounced ah-BEETS) in the world.

Unfortunately, none of the great pizzerias in town deliver, and none of us in the off-campus apartment had a car. So, whenever the craving for 'zah hit us we always ended up ordering from *gagh* Domino's.

"Three large pies with [insert lengthy litany of assorted toppings here -- pepperoni and jalepeno for me!]".
"to be delivered to Fitch-Warner, apartment B-4."
"D-4?" the girl on the line asked.
"No, 'B-4'."
"D-4, that's what I said!"
"No, B-4. B as in 'boy'."
"Doy? What's 'doy?'."
An inability to understand foreign words isn't the only kind of language barrier. She and I spoke the same language, but she couldn't hear me!

I just read Walter Cronkite's latest (in fact, first, I'm made to understand)column in which he addresses the Liberal bias in the broadcast and print media.
While he asserts that the bias exists, I disagree completely with his hypothesis of why that is. He wrote:

"I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities -- the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated."

I don't believe that for a second. Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Libertarians and all other manner of political stripe see the same problems. But they have different ideas about the solutions based on their already held ideas about liability, rule of Law, and the role -- and jurisdiction -- of the Government that might address those problems.

According to some polls [that I can't site nor link to, but I remember them occurring]: most journalists (at least those that entered the field in the past 30 years or so -- though maybe it doesn't apply to Walter's generation) say that they wanted to be journalists so that they could help to change the world.
I believe that; because that's exactly the reason that I spent a semester taking a journalism course in the year between High School and my full-time matriculation to college.

But, that's not the part of Cronkite's essay that I wanted to blog about, nosiree.
It was his citing of a dictionary's definition of the word "liberal."
At the very end of the column, Uncle Walt quips:

"Incidentally, I looked up the definition of "liberal" in a Random House dictionary. It gave the synonyms for "liberal" as "progressive," "broad-minded," "unprejudiced," "beneficent." The antonyms it offered: "reactionary" and "intolerant."
I have always suspected those fine folks at Random House of being liberals. You just can't trust anybody these days."

This is where the language barrier comes in. Liberals would be proud of themselves after reading that definition. But, the accurate definition of "liberal" and the functional definition of "a Liberal" have become two different things.

"Progressive," supposedly in the advancement of civil liberties; but nowadays more about the centralization of authority. On the issues of smoking on private property, driving an SUV, buying a cup of piping hot coffee; I am liberal, and Liberals are "progressive."

"Broad-minded," when it comes to social-engineering, I guess. On the issues of taxing (read: punishing) freedom of choice through Targetted Taxation, placing partisan interests above Liberty (too many examples to site), or acknowledging cable and talk-radio's freedom to become whatever it will by no forces other than market forces; I am liberal, and Liberals are "broad-minded."

Incidentally, definition #5 in my American Heritage Dictionary defines "liberal" as:
"Favoring civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of public resources to promote social progress."
That's a more accurate definition than the one offered by Random House, so long as we understand that it's private property that's referred to as "public resources", and centralized governmental authority is the "social progress."

When we debate each other we need to agree on our definitions. When we call Liberals "Liberals", we allow them to consider themselves to be "liberal," and thus to wonder why anyone is agruing with them. 'Why, you must be a Fascist!'

If we think we do - but DON'T - understand each others' nomenclature, then we only end up talking past each other, dazed and confused about why we're not being understood. The sounds seems disconnected from any meaning, and we can't even seem to hear each other.
"Irresponsibility is bad," we'll say, "BAD!"
"Dad? Whaddya mean 'irresponsibilty is Dad?!'"

The Liberal elite, lately, seem to be not at all motivated by love of Liberty, but by transparently partisan opportunism; driven by a hatred -- fueled by resentment -- toward George W. Bush and, by association, anything he says, does or might be thinking.
Everytime Bush moves toward the "center" on an issue he forces the Democrats even further to the Left; not because they want to go there, per se, but because they - by pure Pavlovian conditioning re: being an underdog in the next election - have to oppose him.
It's called "the never-ending campaign," the lifestyle of a politician.

So, it's time to take back the word "liberal" from our friendly neighborhood "Liberals," and re-christen them with a moniker that's a bit more fitting.
I suggest "Tyrant."

UPDATE: scrappleface has a neato twist on the column, though the comments get a little brutal. Hey, I love Walter the C!!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:38 PM | Comments (2)

August 11, 2003

Al Franken-Fracas?

Ooookay, here's a headline -- courtesy of Drudge -- for ya: "Fox News sues humorist Al Franken over 'fair and balanced' slogan ... "

Is there anything we can waste our time on more?
FoxNews claims:
"Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality," according to the complaint. "He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight."

So, we've established that he's a fringe personality, a comedian of sorts.. a tick in the wrist of fair and balanced discourse; Fine. But then we have this:

Lawyers for Fox who filed the complaint also take issue with Franken's book cover because it "mimics the look and style" of two books written by Bill O'Reilly.

First they dismiss Al Franken as a loony, unserious, fringe curiosity. Then they claim that he's libel for usurping the familiar colors of his target.

Umm, hello! Has anyone heard of "fair use" for the purpose of parody and satirical?
Isn't the very reason they are dismissing Al the same reason he gets to use the "fair and balanced" mark?

I mean, disagree with him all we want; but let's not turn the debate into a slimematch of biblical distortions.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:57 PM | Comments (21)

July 31, 2003

Uh-Oh, America Caused 9-11 again...

What is it with Colleges and Ignorance these days?
See this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Waukesha - Convinced that American racism played a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Waukesha County activists are planning a major new effort to promote racial and ethnic harmony."

American racism played a role in the Sept 11 attacks?! American racism?!

" We need to understand the world; we need to accept the world."
- Mary Baer, co-chairwoman of the Waukesha County Diversity Task Force

..or maybe parts of the world need to accept and understand that suckling at our proverbial teat while simultaneously kneeing us in the proverbial groin kinda makes us wonder if they deserve to be "understood."

"The kickoff date: the second anniversary of the day of horror."

Yep. And their three-year mission: to explore strange new ways of blaming America first; to seek out new lies and new civil distractions; to boldly go deeper than any ass-helmet has gone before!

"Organizers say the connection to terrorism is simple: If Americans were more tolerant of racial and ethnic minorities, we would not evoke hostility abroad and would not have been attacked Sept. 11, 2001, by Islamic extremists from the Middle East."

Newsflash for the dim bulbs: Any social, systemic, personal or narrow-minded racism that may exist among Americans has nada to do with the Middle East. Racism has Everything to do with the Middle East.
Can a muslim in America walk down the street with a copy of the Koran?
Can a Christian or Jew walk down the street in Saudi Arabia reading the Torah or the Bible?
America stands for Individualism, Numb-lobe. It is not any intolerence on the part of America that caused Sept 11; it was the intolerence FOR American freedoms by the homocidal Islamist terrorists.

"Some of the reasons it happened are our arrogance and our ignorance," said Mary Baer, co-chairwoman of the Waukesha County Diversity Task Force. "We need to understand the world; we need to accept the world."

As a society we do, Mary. We shovel billions of dollars a year into the collective oil-hole of that all-too-common political dinosaur known as Tyrannus Rectus.

The Islamist terrorists who rule and pollute the Middle East don't fear Racism, they practice it. They hate Freedom. It interferes with their utopian goal that all-men-are-muslim-or-they-shall-die. They fear free elections, freedom of expression, freedom of religeon, free exchange of ideas. They are isolationists and tyrants who fear that any influence of Western culture threatens their own influence on their countrymen.

They ban Western music, movies, television, news...
They want nothing more than to keep those Evil influences away from their huddled masses lest an idea as strong as Liberty actually begin to ring true to them, thus loosening the hold the screeching ululators have on Power.

I remember that there was some issue about President Bush calling the 9-11 terrorists "cowards." "Oh, no! They're so brave and selfless to give their lives for Allah! They're not cowards!"

But, they are. Because they pathetically shake themselves to sleep in a cold sweat in fear that free people -- making their own Independent decisions about life and God -- might come to differant conlusions than they have. A True Believer who secretly doubts his own certainty, when certainty is required, would fear and reject anyone and any culture that does not share or promote his beliefs with his own zeal. Funny thing is; these skidmarks on the shorts of humanity want to take it to murderous extremes. Call me "crazy", but I don't think any group hugs are in the offing.

9-11 was caused by some Islamists' hatred and paranoia of "foreign" (i.e. 18th century) influence, not by any racism that may exist in the hearts of some of the diverse and free people of America.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:20 PM | Comments (5)

July 30, 2003


Well, last night I spent about two hours working on a bad-ass, vitriolic, loaded for bear, no frogs barred disection of the asshatted partisan blather that constitutes that Berkeley "study" on Conservative Cognition. Then I hit the Return by mistake. Then something weird happened. Then I hit Backspace. Then my entire post vanished, never to be returned again. *sob* (I gotta start taking wise men's and women's advice and start posting in Word and copy/pasting the finished post.)

Luckily, thanks to Rachel Lucas, I've learned that Jonah Goldberg did a great job addressing the very same topic! You go read now!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:48 PM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2003

Brad Sherman: Partisan Jerk

Talk about yer blatant partisanship...

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Ca, actually told Hannity & Colmes that it's not Geo W Bush that should get any credit for the successes in Iraq, but rather Bill Clinton. Huh? Yep.
Addressing the 101st Airborne's elimination of Uday and Qusay Hussein he said:

"When President Clinton put together a magnificent military and handed it over to Bush, that's the person who deserves our credit."

Clinton "put together" our military? The way I remember it, Clinton slashed the defense budget because "the Cold War is over."
Of course the weapon system upgrades gave us an arsenal that is more accurate than the first generation smart-bombs of the Desert Storm era due to technology available to defense contractors, and the recommendations of the Pentagon. Clinton, as any President could reasonably have been expected to, signed off on these upgrades.

But Clinton's most profound legacy is that he decimated the CIA's ability to gather Intelligence by forbidding agents from engaging persons of shady character.
Now, explain to me how we're going to gather information about shady characters without getting involved with shady characters. Why are we relying on British Intel about Saddam's dealings with Niger? Because Bill Clinton handcuffed the CIA for eight years.

All this aside, Brad Sherman's claim that it's Clinton, not Bush, who needs to congratulated on the successes (but, presumably, Bush will be blamed for any set-backs), is, he admits, a purely partisan stance.

He told Sean Hannity that he would give credit to Bush only "if you can show me where you congratulated – or whether Bush congratulated – President Clinton on whatever successes we had, and especially on the magnificent nature of what he turned over to him."

I'd be the first to congratulate Bill Clinton on the military successes of Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc if I thought that we had any national interest in the success of those missions. (see: Nixon Doctrine.)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 03:16 PM | Comments (3)

February 02, 2003

Fisking Kinsley


A "fisking" of "MORALLY UNSERIOUS"
by Michael Kinsley
Friday, January 31st, 2003

a.k.a Robt.Warren Jones
Slacker Laureate Of Bridgeport
Sunday, February 2nd, 2003

This is my parsing, or "fisking", of Michael Kinsley's recent column in it's entirety. Since Kinsley took it upon himself to evaluate the inherent "logical consistency" and "intellectual honesty" of George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, I thought it would be fun to use the same standard to him. I've always been fascinated by differing personal perspectives on issues of the day--especially among politicians and pundits; where they come from, what they show, and how they're advanced. It is not my purpose here to make a case for an invasion of Iraq, nor for anything else discussed herein, but rather to examine the way in which a certain gifted political writer made the case against such a mission. In short: this is about method, not madness.

KINSLEY: "The second half of President Bush's State Of The Union speech Tuesday night, about Iraq, was a model of moral seriousness, as it should be from a leader taking his nation into war. Bush was brutally eloquent about the cause and--special points for this--about the inevitable cost. It may seem petty to pick apart the text."

SPORK: Not at all.......

KINSLEY: "But logical consistency and intellectual honesty are also tests of moral seriousness. It is not enough for the words to be eloquent or even deeply sincere. If they are just crafted for the moment and haven't been thought through, the pretense of moral seriousness becomes an insult."

SPORK: Bravo!, so far. Michael will now attempt a logically consistent and intellectually honest critique of the logical consistency and intellectual honesty of some selected passages from the State of the Union address (SOTU).

KINSLEY: "In his most vivid passage, Bush listed practices of Saddam Hussein such as destroying whole villages with chemical weapons and torturing children in front of their parents. 'If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning' he said, telling 'the brave and oppressed people of Iraq' that 'the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.'"

SPORK: All well and good, but we shall presently witness the way in which Michael the K either misrepresents or just plain misunderstands why Bush would invoke such human rights atrocities...

KINSLEY: "This is a fine, noble reason to wage war against Iraq. It would have been a fine reason two decades ago, which is when Hussein destroyed those villages and the United States looked the other way. It would be a fine reason to topple other governments around the world."

SPORK: There are two relevant conclusions one could draw from these three lines about Michael's world view, and they are both, for the most part, more characteristic of a Liberal world view than the Conservative.
Firstly, he responds to the current US President's speech with a hobgoblin's eye on the policy of past Presidents. He doesn't say it explicitly, of course, but by noting that "the United States"--rather than "the Reagan Administration"--looked the other way two decades ago, he is implying inconsistency or even hypocrisy in the policy of Bush today, the current "President of the United States". This may seem to be reading too much into it, but since this column's topic is the "logical consistency and intellectual honesty" of Bush's SOTU speech, I think Kinsley's mentioning of the events of two decades ago is no haphazard aside. It was placed to imply at least some suspicion of said inconsistency and intellectual dishonesty of the current President. What is identifiably "Left-liberal" about this is that it generally doesn't consider a person's identity, chiefly, to be individual...but rather to be defined more accurately by it's larger associations. George W. Bush then is not simply a man whom is currently the President of the United States, rather the implication is that he is "The President Of The United States" as was Reagan, Clinton, Carter, Bush the Elder, etc For Kinsley, this broadly conceptualized "President" is thus fairly criticized as being inconsistent and hypocritical if his 2003 approach to Hussein contradicts Reagan's 1983 approach. As I said, I don't think this is reading too much into it when you consider the topic and purpose of the column. Kinsley's left-leaning world view colors, if not controls, his perception of Bush as Kinsley himself states HIS world view.

Secondly, MK's opinion that Saddam's internal human rights abuses would be "a fine, noble reason to wage war against Iraq" and "to topple other governments around the world" as well, is also characteristically Left-liberal in that I think it stems from the idea that any and all "local" sovereignty should be denied when such sovereignty results in policies that seem to assault our collective notion of right and wrong policy. The characteristically Conservative approach to war (at least since the Vietnam inspired "Nixon Doctrine") was that Americans would be sent to fight ONLY if there were a vital or vitally strategic national interest in doing so (funds and materials could be provided to others, whom we support, in the absence of the vital national interest). Reagan went against the Nixon Doctrine in the case of Lebanon, Bush-41 in the case of Somalia (to the cheers of the Left mainly). Clinton, of course, went 180 degrees and actually boasted that there were, in the operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, no national interests at all at stake. While there were many on the Conservative side who did support the missions in Bosnia and Kosovo (and initially Somalia), those closer to the left seem more apt NOT to support military actions when there IS a national interest. I think this is because it is, by definition, "Nationalism", and that's a dirty word to those of more socialist bent. Therefore, sending Americans to fight and die for the Human Rights of people in other "nations" is noble and just, while sending Americans to fight and die for "America" is self-serving Nationalism. The fact that "America" is constituted of individuals whom happen to be Americans is lost to the logic because, as I noted earlier, of the propensity of social idealists to conceptualize people as members of larger un-personal groups rather than as individuals.

Okay, okay, I've gone on long enough about three seemingly inconsequential lines, but I think it's an interesting exercise to decompose Michael's perspective. Anyway....here is how, as I promised earlier, he either misrepresents or misunderstands Bush's purpose in invoking Saddam's human rights abuses:

KINSLEY: "Is the Bush Administration prepared to enforce the no-torturing-children rule by force everywhere? And what happens if Hussein decides to meet all our demands regarding weapons and inspections? Is he then free to torture children and pour acid on innocent citizens without fear of the United States?
"If Hussein's human rights practices morally require the United States to act, why are we waiting for Hans Blix? Or if the danger that Hussein will develop and use weapons of mass destruction against the United States justifies removing him in our own long-term self-defense, what does the torturing of children have to do with it? Bush was careful not to say explicitly that Iraq's internal human rights situation alone justifies going to war--though he was just careful enough to imply that it does. But Bush has said clearly and often that Hussein's external threat does justify a war all by itself. So human rights abuses are neither necessary nor sufficient as a reason for war, in Bush's view, to the extend that it can be parsed. That makes the talk about the torture of children merely decorative, not serious."

SPORK: Essentially, Michael has chosen here to put words in Bush's mouth by assigning a meaning to them that wasn't intended, and then to knock down that very house of cards that Kinsley himself erected. Of course Bush never said "explicitly" that human rights abuses alone justified going to war, because Bush never meant to say that. But MK suggests that Bush's words about that were meant to be misunderstood with the aside "--though he was just careful enough to imply that it does." I think we can safely presume that Michael, prior to writing the column, had already parsed the language and discovered no announcement that Iraq's internal human rights situation alone justified invasion; that makes the succession of rhetorical questions that preceded the "was just careful enough to imply" line a rhetorical trick, likely designed to arouse a wellspring of suspicious indignation. He surmised no answers to those questions; not because he was too dull to imagine what they could be, but because he already knew the questions themselves were incorrect.
So, just "what does the torturing of children have to do with it?" MK wouldn't tell you--that would stifle the cynicism he is attempting to elicit--, but I will. The riveting account of Iraq's atrocious human rights situation, to anyone who listened and felt the words uncynically, was "illustrative", not "decorative". He is answering questions like "What kind of a leader is Saddam?" "Would he REALLY hurt anyone with nukes?" "What has he ever done to forecast this?" "Just what is the danger of not acting?" A laundry list of past crimes against humanity, the sovereignty of his neighbors and his connections to global terrorist cells and networks, illustrates the seriousness of the threat he would pose to the world were he to acquire nuclear weapons of any grade. So the "talk about the torture of children" was not "merely decorative, not serious", it was instructive about Saddam's approach to problem solving, and is very serious.

KINSLEY: "And tell us again why we're about to invade Iraq but we're "working with the countries of the region" to pinion North Korea, which is further along the nuclear trail and can't even be bothered to lie about it. Bush's "axis of evil" coinage last year and recent flagrant North Korean nose-thumbing made it almost impossible for him to avoid addressing this logical conundrum. His solution was artful but mysterious: 'Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula, and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq.' He seems to be saying that the United States should have invaded and conquered North Korea years ago. But as Bush sets it out, the "lesson" of Korea seems to be that if you don't go to war soon enough, you might have a problem years later that can be solved through regional discussions. That doesn't sound so terrible, frankly. So what exactly is the lesson the Korean experience is supposed to offer?"

SPORK: He begins here with "Tell us again..", implication: we haven't been told at all why North Korea is so similar to Iraq that it offers up "lessons" that we can apply, yet so dissimilar that the two should be treated differently. The differences between the two situations are no secret and are readily available to anyone, especially the chronically curious like MK. The uncreative device Michael uses is not to offer the reader any evidence that there are differences while, then assuming that there are none, simply wonder at the "conundrum" of the differences in the approach to the two situations. Another house of cards built and knocked down by Kinsley himself. It's simply a feigned obliviousness of reasoned and plausible counterpoints that might fetter the otherwise cogent persuasion of his presentation...the better not to have to address them. You can usually spot when an author is using this device by noticing how many question marks litter the essay. Blanks are presented; and since a fully honest thesis might be cluttered with underwhelming vagueness, the blanks are left unfilled.
For instance: The differences may be many, but the "lesson" of North Korea, as Bush presented it, is applicable to Iraq precisely BECAUSE of those differences. Iraq has oil to leverage with, North Korea has nothing, and plenty of it. The U.S. trades with Iraq for their oil, and has agreed to trade with North Korea for their commitment not to have a nuclear weapons program. Iraq occupies central real estate in a troubled region, North Korea is surrounded by China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan; all major global traders.

North Korea will be dealt with diplomatically because a war with a nuclear power is a dangerous option, and in such cases diplomacy is almost certainly always and forever the default method of engagement. North Korea's bargaining position hasn't changed really; it's still all about WMDs; whether in it's potential to create them or in the potential that it has them. But that's all they have...no oil, no electronics, no contracts for flip-flops...not even bananas. N.K. at worst has a relatively drop-in-the-bucket sized nuclear program that (hopefully and expectantly) can be dealt with by applying pressure from the Democracies that surround it and, most importantly, from China.

Iraq, on the other hand (buffered by a neighborhood of, at best, liberally ambivalent neighbors), possesses a great supply of oil and leadership with a deep abiding hatred of the West. With nuclear weapons and other WMD Saddam can, if he made up his mind to do so, create havoc, economic and political, regionally and even globally. If we were to learn that Saddam has acquired nukes---either by his admission or through our discovery---and our options for engagement thus were to be largely reduced to that same default method of diplomatic negotiation, then the best position we would be in is exactly the one we are in today: attempting to "contain" a prevaricating, stonewalling, murderous sociopath using an under-effective weapons inspection regime in a perpetually inconclusive game of hide-and-seek.
So the "lesson" of North Korea would be that you don't follow the Carter-Clinton weapons-inspection model of wishful finger-crossing and neglect in the hope that your unverified trust in a tyrant is not misplaced.

MK closes the paragraph with a presumed interpretation of Bush's words, that "the 'lesson' of Korea seems to be that if you don't go to war soon enough, you might have a problem years later that can be solved through regional discussions." He then, accepting that this interpretation, from the side of the ledger of SIMILARITIES ("can be solved", as opposed to the obviously intended "unfortunately in the case of North Korea will be attempted to be solved"), announces that he prefers it and wonders again what the "lessons of Korea" could be. The point Bush was making, of course, centered on the DIFFERENCES between the two cases, and is that the "problem" of Saddam is precisely that it CAN'T be solved diplomatically. It hasn't been, it isn't being, and likely wont ever be.

It's interesting that M the Kinsley seems to prefer endless threat, uncertainty and tension to pro-active engagement; the same weak leadership style that kept the Cold War simmering for over four decades.....anyway;
After all that confusion about why Iraq and North Korea were being handled differently, Michael writes this:

KINSLEY: "There are actually plenty of differences between the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the one in the Middle East, and good reasons why you might decide to bring Iraq to a crisis and steer North Korea away from one. But all of these reasons cut against the Manichean notion of an absolute war against an absolute evil called terrorism. Bush is getting terrific credit for the purity and determination of his views on this subject. But either his own views are dangerously simplistic or he is purposely, though eloquently, misleading the citizenry."

SPORK: Wha...? He now concedes that the differences between the Korean and Iraqi situations may indeed demand different approaches, UNLESS you believe, as Bush does, that terrorism is "an absolute evil." (btw, I have no idea who or what "Manichean" refers to, but it's just an offhand metaphoric adjective and if you leave it out, the sentence reads the same.)
We can draw a major conclusion here about Kinsley's world view in that this entire paragraph presumes that moral relativism is synonymous with moral seriousness. The thrust of MK's observation is that since Bush has an idea about the existence of Evil, then Bush ought to combat It identically in all situations (i.e. not by dealing militarily with Iraq while dealing diplomatically with North Korea). While, in the broadest sense, Kinsley must agree that Bush IS, by Bush's definitions, combatting Evil (though in different ways in different circumstances); Kinsley now seems to imply that by combatting Evil in ways tailored to the risk, threat and consequences specific to each situation, Bush (for which "there are plenty of reasons you might want to" [and none offered for why you might NOT want to"]) is compromising his moral consistency and intellectual honesty.
MK concedes that Bush's more complex multifaceted approach is more sound, which must then mean that "evil" is not "absolute", and therefore terrorism cannot honestly be claimed to be "evil". Michael le K, of course, isn't attempting to make the case that "terrorism isn't evil" (that much is supposed to be understood as base a priori knowledge by the sophisticated reader), he is trying to make the case that either Bush's "moral unseriousness" (a belief in absolute evil) is "dangerously simplistic" [which already has been discredited by the admittedly multifaceted, and MK-preferred, approach], or that Bush himself is "misleading the citizenry" when he asserts that evil exists. And this, my friends, is exactly the case the column is attempting to make: the implications of Bush's "morally unserious" belief in Evil. If moral relativism is, as Kinsley holds it to be, the only serious approach to public policy, then Bush's obvious "moral unseriousness" must impugn his entire agenda; foreign and domestic.

KINSLEY: "Proclaiming the case for war as the second half of a speech that devotes it's first 30 minutes to tax cuts and tort reform also makes the call to arms seem morally unserious. Why are we talking about cars that run on hydrogen at all if the survival of civilization is at stake? Bush declared that the best thing to do with government money is to give it back to the taxpayers, and then put on his "compassionate conservative" hat and propose billions in government spending on the environment, AIDS in Africa, a program to train mentors for children of prisoners and on and on. The dollars don't exist to either give back or spend, of course, let alone both, so we'll be borrowing them if Bush has his way, a point he didn't dwell upon."

SPORK: The first sentence accuses Bush's morality (or perhaps just the speech's morality) of being unserious because, as he writes in the second sentence, "the survival of civilization is at stake." Michael does not explain why he "believes" that civilization itself is at stake.....undoubtedly because Bush never made such a claim. It's hyperbole and sarcasm infused to belittle, once again and without coherent argument, the case for war, - tellingly ending with that anti-committal question mark. Unserious.
He then shifts in mid-paragraph to some of the domestic agenda. This, too, is important not for any factual accuracy or inaccuracy, but for the left-liberal character of the language.
For instance: strictly speaking, tax cuts (as opposed to rebates) are not dollars that the government "gives back", they are dollars that are never collected in the first place--and those dollars do exist. The economic theory behind this, which MK does not present, is that tax cuts will put more money in the economy thus growing the economy, creating jobs, creating wealth which expands the tax base which grows revenue. I'm certainly not going to argue that case at length, as trying to figure out just to what degree a tax cut of X$ would instigate meaningful growth gives me a headache.

KINSLEY: "This orgiastic display of democracy's great weakness--a refusal to acknowledge that more of something means less of something else--undermined the moral seriousness of the call to arms and sacrifice that followed."

SPORK: Here is where Michael's left-ness is blinding. By "democracy" he means "capitalism". There is, it's fair to say, a curious misconception that the Left cling to (or maybe just haven't learned to unlearn) about free market economics: that a poor man is poor because a rich man is rich. Kinsley and others will eagerly maintain that in a falling stock market wealth is being lost, but rarely seem to understand that it had to be created in the first place. Economic activity doesn't just shift wealth from place to place in a zero-sum game. The very activity incites productivity--and wealth is created from that labor. Economic growth exists precisely because "more of something" does NOT necessarily means "less of something else."
Again, I don't mention this in order to advocate any particular magnitude of tax cut or spending initiative--I am not an economist, but rather to note how Kinsley offers not even a cursory mention of the economic theory that underlies Bush's proposals.

KINSLEY: "Sneering at the folly of tax cuts spread over several years instead of right away, Bush failed to note that those gradual tax cuts were part of his own previous tax bill."

SPORK: Kinsley finally cites an inconsistency that indeed exists. But since one could argue that as the economic forecast is updated, so should economic initiative. Bush's current proposed tax cut schedule could semantically be called inconsistent from his previous, but it is quite another thing to call it LOGICALLY inconsistent. Michael makes no case that it is, so the sentence makes no case for the column. So the sentence rings true, but hollow.

KINSLEY: "Bragging that he would hold the increase in discretionary spending to 4 per cent a year, it probably didn't occur to Bush to wonder what that figure was under his tax-and-spend Democratic predecessor. Short answer: lower."

SPORK: Michael doesn't mention that Clinton had a Republican congress, nor that Bush's first congress was split and he made some effort to compromise with Daschel's Senate and negotiated a budget increase of, I believe it was 8% (a large increase perhaps, but less than the Senate wanted).

KINSLEY: "These are venial sins in everyday politics, but Bush was striving for something higher. He had the right words for it. But words alone aren't enough."

SPORK: Words are certainly enough to deliver a morally serious address. Assessing the logical consistency and intellectual honesty of a policy speech should inspire the same in the assessor. Just as a true believer in UFOs might scoff at the "inconsistency" and/or "dishonesty" of someone who claimed openly that space aliens never crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico, Kinsley, in his column, fails to take seriously the lens through which Bush has come to--and has presented--his vision.
Some writers will reject the validity of Bush's base frame of reference, and explain why. It may not occur to some others that different personal perspectives even matter. But Kinsley is smart enough to know these things as he's evidenced by carefully citing Bush's words, creatively assigning arbitrary interpretations to them, and finally re-presenting them through the lens of his own world view. A believer in the Loch Ness monster could be excused for this. But from someone as clever as Michael Kinsley it is seems to be an exercise in unserious, purposeful sophistry, replete with intellectual dishonesty.

Michael Kinsley's text copyright 2003 The Washington Post Company

Posted by Tuning Spork at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)
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