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February 08, 2003

More on that Feb. 15 business

The city of New York is still refusing to grant United for Peace and Justice a permit for their march and rally.

There's an online petition to "Allow New Yorkers the right to say NO to war!" here.

There are 2,189 signatures on it right now. Even allowing for slow Saturday traffic and the reluctance of many of you to compromise your anonymity, I think we can push that number up a little bit, don't you?

For someone with time on their hands...

Hesiod has a suggestion.

Your meme for the day

That "Axis of Weasel" thing that was going around bothered me--not as an ideologue, but as a writer. Axis of Weasel? Singular? It's an axis of one weasel?

Poorly constructed satire always annoys me. Especially when it's so easy to fix: Axis of Weasels. Plural. Not hard to understand--especially when that's how it read on the original (left wing) protest sign, before the phrase was co-opted by the warblers.

At any rate, this works much better, I think (speaking as a writer and an ideologue):



(Lifted from a blog called South Knox Bubba, which I found via Electrolite.)

--------------------

February 07, 2003

Gun advocates shoot selves in feet

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Few were amused. From City Hall to the streets of East Harlem, whose residents are predominantly Hispanic, the Libertarians were branded racists and accused of exploiting an issue and a neighborhood where the toll of gun violence is far from child's play.

Indeed.

Just call me Mister Softee

I know the dog lovers among you have already done more than your share, raising (along with Wil's readers) close to $5,000 for Hearts & Homes (which is still looking for an adequate space, by the way--I'll keep you posted if I learn anything).

And I don't want to turn this site into an online animal shelter.

So, no pressure here. But if you do happen to be feeling charitable, it sounds like these folks could use a little help.

Breaking news

The Center for Public Integrity has just posted this. You'll be hearing a lot more about it in short order, I suspect.

(WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2003) -- The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information.

The Center for Public Integrity has obtained a draft, dated January 9, 2003, of this previously undisclosed legislation and is making it available in full text (12 MB). The bill, drafted by the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft and entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, has not been officially released by the Department of Justice, although rumors of its development have circulated around the Capitol for the last few months under the name of ìthe Patriot II Actî in legislative parlance.

ìWe havenít heard anything from the Justice Department on updating the Patriot Act,î House Judiciary Committee spokesman Jeff Lungren told the Center. ìThey havenít shared their thoughts on that. Obviously, we'd be interested, but we havenít heard anything at this point.î

(Update)--a particularly noteworthy provision:

Section 501, ìExpatriation of Terroristsî: This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated ìif, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a ëterrorist organizationí.î But whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be ìinferred from conduct.î Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a ìterrorist organizationî by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation.

More.

Update:
Bill Moyers is looking at this tonight.

Home again...

...and beat. But I wanted to extend sincere thanks to all the Buffalovians, or Buffaloviators, or whatever you call yourselves, who braved the weather last night to watch the cartoonist rant. Your hospitality was much appreciated.

And a more-important-than-usual Unscientific Poll Watch: some jackasses are trying to rev up the good old days of McCarthyism and blacklists. Go here, right now, and vote in favor of actor David Clennon's right to speak his damn mind. (It's one vote per logged IP, and you have to give an email address. I know that sort of thing is likely to bother some of you, but there's always Hotmail. I think this one matters. Given the cowardice of the networks, this guy's career might well be on the line here.)

Afterthought from a reader: "Please suggest that readers not only vote, but that they add posts to their own blogs to get their readers to vote. Right now it's 2:1 for firing him. Gotta do all we can. First amendment and all that..."

Consider yourselves asked.

Afterthought two: the folks at MWO, who know a thing or two about rallying the troops, suggest contacting CBS directly with support for Clennon. Go here, and then click "feedback" (it's kind of hidden at the very bottom of the page).

--------------------

February 06, 2003

Shuffling off to Buffalo

Contrary to erroneous reports elsewhere on this site, I was not in Buffalo two days ago, but will instead be there tonight. (Woldeman Theatre at the University of Buffalo North Campus, at 8 p.m., in case any of our friends from the frozen northland are reading this).

Blood of the lamb

From the Progressive, via Uggabugga:

"Bush is very much into the apocalyptic and messianic thinking of militant Christian evangelicals...He seems to buy into the worldview that there is a giant struggle between good and evil culminating in a final confrontation. People with that kind of a worldview often take risks that are inappropriate and scary because they see it as carrying out God's will."

On a related note... it's been awhile since I had to spend my Sunday mornings listening to Baptist preachers rail on about the evils of the modern world, but an alert reader caught this line in the State of the Union address:

"Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."

As it turns out, the "power, wonder-working power" bit is a reference to an old hymn, "There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb."

Would you be free from the burden of sin? There's power in the blood, power in the blood; Would you over evil a victory win? There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Everybody hypes

I was talking to a publisher at a small press book party not too long ago, and I asked him about the print run of the guest of honor's book. The publisher looked at me sheepishly and said, "Officially, 40,000. In reality, 10,000."

He went on to explain that this was how the business works, as far as he could tell: everybody lies, and everybody knows it. If you announce in Publisher's Weekly that you've got a first run of 40,000, everyone does the mental calculation and says, "Ah, a 10,000 run." If, however, you announce that your first run is 10,000, they assume you've made a couple of copies at the local print shop and you're standing out on a streetcorner somewhere trying to sell them.

I have no idea how true or how pervasive this is--I've been putting out books for twelve years, and my own publishers have never let me in on this little secret, nor, as far as I can tell, have they ever tried to mislead anyone about my own miniscule print runs.

Which leads me to blog stats.

I'm not fixated on numbers, but since the blog just had its first birthday, and a happy bouncing boy it is, I was curious how the traffic was looking these days.

My ISP gives me the different numbers for visitors, page views, hits and so on, but it doesn't make any differentiation for "unique" visitors, something I've seen other bloggers refer to. I'm guessing that some web stats programs log visitors' IP addresses, but even at that, wouldn't everyone on a dial up connection count as a new visitor each time they came to the site, since dial up users are assigned a different, temporary IP address every time they log on? And since there are still a whole lot of people using dial up accounts, doesn't that mean that these numbers are always wildly inflated, no matter what?

So having said all that: for January, 2003, this site had 450,723 visitors and 662,769 pageviews. (I ignore "hits," given that a single visitor to a single page can generate a couple dozen.) In February, 2002, those numbers were, respectively: 138,070 and 314,079.

As I say, everybody hypes. I don't know what these numbers mean. For all I know, I've only got two readers, who have simply grown much more enthusiastic over the past year and now visit this site 225,361.5 times a month apiece. But however many of you there are, I am grateful that you keep coming back, particularly given the sometimes sporadic quantity and quality of the postings here. Which leads me to another point: if you haven't done so already, please go to the links page and work your way through the blogroll. You'll find a lot of people who put a lot more time into their blogs than I put into this one.

Update--one of my two readers elaborates on the blog numbers game:

I'm sure you'll get a lot of opinions on this, but the only correct one is this : There is no such thing as an accurate "Number of unique visitors" stat, unless the host can account for what person is attending what IP address (I can do this for my site, because I know my mom's IP address, and that pretty much takes care of it.) For instance, I generate hits on your blog from 6 different IPs. One of those IPs is shared with hundreds of thousands of T-Mobile customers. The other is shared with the 300 people at my work. The other four are static. And I don't even demonstrate the headache of dynamic IP, which is the biggest problem.

Here's a quote from the documentation for Analog, an excellent logfile analysis tool:

"You can't tell how many visitors you've had. You can guess by looking at the number of distinct hosts that have requested things from you. Indeed this is what many programs mean when they report "visitors". But this is not always a good estimate for three reasons. First, if users get your pages from a local cache server, you will never know about it. Secondly, sometimes many users appear to connect from the same host: either users from the same company or ISP, or users using the same cache server. Finally, sometimes one user appears to connect from many different hosts. AOL now allocates users a different hostname for every request. So if your home page has 10 graphics on, and an AOL user visits it, most programs will count that as 11 different visitors!"

So. It's hopeless. If most of your fans are corporate proles all working for the same corporations behind the same firewalls, then your number of unique visitors will be much higher than your number of distinct hosts. If most of your fans are on dynamic IP, using AOL, or move from machine to machine a lot, then it goes the other way. Most people, I'm assuming, just hope there's a good balance between the two and call it even.

Oh, and I generate significantly less than 225,361.5 pageviews per month, so the other guy must be clicking really hard to pick up the slack.

I suspected as much, which is why I'm not as fixated on the subject as some bloggers seem to be...

--------------------

February 05, 2003

Forget rice...

...that stuff'll just get you arrested.

No, you want to make a statement, clams are clearly the way to go.

United for Peace update

From the United for Peace site:

We are, however, facing a major fight over our basic democratic right to public protest. At our February 4 meeting with lawyers for New York City and the NYPD, our request for a march permit was again refused. We have asked to assemble near the United Nations, march directly past the U.N., and then continue through Manhattan to a rally at Central Park. We are consulting with our lawyers and will announce our next step late on Wednesday, February 5.

With only 10 days remaining before February 15, the continued stonewalling by the police can only be seen as an active effort to prevent us from voicing our opposition to this war. We will not be silenced -- the streets of New York will be filled with a cry for peace.

What can you do? Make more phone calls (numbers below). Make your travel plans. Recruit your friends. Donate some money. Fill more buses, hand out more leaflets -- and we'll see you in New York City on February 15.

**NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: 212-788-9600, 212-788-3010, 212-788-3040
**NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: 646-610-8526
**NYPD Chief of Department Joseph Esposito: 646-610-6710

My fellow New Yorkers, and my fellow leftie bloggers, might want to help get the word out on this one.

Here's more, from the Associated Press:

NEW YORK ó An anti-war group sued the city today for denying it a parade permit to march past the United Nations next week.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeks a declaration from the court that the cityís position violates the First Amendment and for an order permitting a parade of between 50,000 and 100,000 people to take place.

* * *

The court papers noted that the city routinely issues permits for large-scale marches in midtown Manhattan, including the St. Patrickís Day parade, the Puerto Rican Day parade and the Thanksgiving Day parade.

They also noted that the city has allowed huge marches by gay and lesbian groups and groups urging support of nuclear disarmament.

News flash--Bush administration admits tax cuts caused deficit!

From Slate's Chatterbox:

The Bush talking point on the present budget deficit is that it was not caused by tax cuts. To be sure, White House budget chief Mitch Daniels has conceded that the budget will remain in deficit for the next decade. But he has never spoken out loud the words, "Our 2001 tax cut helped create the present deficit." Here is how a Feb. 3 White House fact sheet lays down the Bush line:

The budget would be in double digit deficit if had there never been a tax cut in 2001. The budget returned to deficit because of war, recession and emergencies associated with the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Osama Bin Laden created the deficit by knocking down the World Trade Center. Bill Clinton created the deficit by bequeathing Bush a spent boom. But no way did Bush create the deficit by cutting taxes. Without the stimulus provided by the 2001 tax cut, the deficit would be much bigger.

But whoever wrote the historical tables volume of the 2004 White House budget obviously didn't get the memo. Observe this passage from the bottom of Page 5:

An economic slowdown began in 2001 and was exacerbated by the terrorists' attacks of September 11, 2001. The deterioration in the performance of the economy together with income tax relief provided to help offset the economic slowdown and additional spending in response to the terrorist attacks produced a drop in the surplus to $127.1 billion (1.3% of GDP) and a return to deficits ($157.8 billion, 1.5% of GDP) in 2002 [all italics Chatterbox's].

We have a really strong case and we'll make it someday, honest

No War Blog participant Dr. Slack on Powell's speech:

Funniest talking-head quote on the Powell speech thus far: "sure, there was no smoking gun, but there was tons of smoke." Too true, too true. Maybe a better way of putting it is that there was no smoking gun, but plenty of hot air.

Well, Powell's "case" to the U.N. is, by and large, the same case the Administration has been making for months: a web of circumstantial "evidence," mights and maybes and one days, and attempts to inflate a few decayed stockpiles into something Far More Terrifying.

In other words, pretty much what you expected.

Here's some of the compelling evidence, the reason we need to pulverize Baghdad with more cruise missiles in two days than were launched during the entire first Gulf War:

Iraq is working on developing missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers ó about 620 miles ó or more, putting Russia and other nations beyond Iraq's immediate neighbors in potential danger.

There you have it. Right thinking Beagles everywhere must surely comprehend the clear and imminent danger posed by a nation which might, someday, possibly be capable of launching a missile six hundred miles. (But isn't Russia capable of defending itself--no! stop! mustn't think! thinking is for sissies!)

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to war we go.

Bully Bill

I caught a bit of the O'Reilly Factor during dinner last night, during which Bill berated Jeremy Glick, a signatory of the Not in Our Name ad whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. I couldn't find a transcript on the Fox site, but happily, one came in over the transom (probably pulled off Lexis, so no link available).

This is how Bill O'Reilly behaves when faced with genuine disagreement:

O'REILLY: You are mouthing a far left position that is a marginal position in this society, which you're entitled to.

GLICK: It's marginal -- right.

O'REILLY: You're entitled to it, all right, but you're -- you see, even --I'm sure your beliefs are sincere, but what upsets me is I don't think your father would be approving of this.

GLICK: Well, actually, my father thought that Bush's presidency was illegitimate.

O'REILLY: Maybe he did, but...

GLICK: I also didn't think that Bush...

O'REILLY: ... I don't think he'd be equating this country as a terrorist nation as you are.

GLICK: Well, I wasn't saying that it was necessarily like that.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are. You signed...

GLICK: What I'm saying is...

O'REILLY: ... this, and that absolutely said that.

GLICK: ... is that in -- six months before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush's father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Turaki government.

O'REILLY: All right. I don't want to...

GLICK: Maybe...

O'REILLY: I don't want to debate world politics with you.

GLICK: Well, why not? This is about world politics.

O'REILLY: Because, No. 1, I don't really care what you think.

GLICK: Well, OK.

O'REILLY: You're -- I want to...

GLICK: But you do care because you...

O'REILLY: No, no. Look...

GLICK: The reason why you care is because you evoke 9/11...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care.

GLICK: ... to rationalize...

O'REILLY: Here's why I care...

GLICK: Let me finish. You evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide.

O'REILLY: OK. That's a bunch...

GLICK: You evoke sympathy with the 9/11 families.

O'REILLY: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: So you keep your mouth shut when you sit here exploiting those people.

GLICK: Well, you're not representing me. You're not representing me.

O'REILLY: And I'd never represent you. You know why?

GLICK: Why?

O'REILLY: Because you have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country.

GLICK: Well, explain that. Let me give you an example of a parallel...

O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to debate this with you, all right.

GLICK: Well, let me give you an example of parallel experience. On September 14...

O'REILLY: No, no. Here's -- here's the...

GLICK: On September 14...

O'REILLY: Here's the record.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: All right. You didn't support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, OK.

GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father!

GLICK: The people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father.

GLICK: ... didn't kill my father.

O'REILLY: Sure they did. The al Qaeda people were trained there.

GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghan people?

O'REILLY: See, I'm more angry about it than you are!

GLICK: So what about George Bush?

O'REILLY: What about George Bush? He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: The director -- senior as director of the CIA.

O'REILLY: He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: So the people that trained a hundred thousand Mujahadeen who were...

O'REILLY: Man, I hope your mom isn't watching this.

GLICK: Well, I hope she is.

O'REILLY: I hope your mother is not watching this because you -- that's it. I'm not going to say anymore.

GLICK: OK.

O'REILLY: In respect for your father...

GLICK: On September 14, do you want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up! Shut up!

GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.

O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians...

GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government...

O'REILLY: Out of respect for him...

GLICK: ... not the people of America.

O'REILLY: ... I'm not going to...

GLICK: ... The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

O'REILLY: Cut his mic. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father.

We will be back in a moment with more of THE FACTOR.

GLICK: That means we're done?

O'REILLY: We're done.

The last few seconds of that exchange were really something to watch. I don't think I've ever seen a shouting head actually tell his guest to "Shut up! Shut up!" or to tell his producer to "cut his mic."

--------------------

February 04, 2003

Protecting our delicate sensibilities

Presented as a small public service: an artist's conception of the news photograph they didn't want you to see tomorrow.

The "Guernica" work by Pablo Picasso at the entrance of the Security Council of the United Nations has been covered with a curtain. The reason for covering this work is that this is the place where diplomats make statements to the press and have this work as the background. The Picasso work features the horrors of war. On January 27 a large blue curtain was placed to cover the work.

* * *

A diplomat stated that it would not be an appropriate background if the ambassador of the United States at the U.N. John Negroponte, or Powell, talk about war surrounded with women, children and animals shouting with horror and showing the suffering of the bombings.

Sounds like truth in advertising to me.

From artdaily.com (via Ruminate This).

A report from the front

Salon's Michelle Goldberg attended the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend:

To attend CPAC is to crash through the looking glass into a world where passionate worship of the president is part of a brave rebellion against government, where Sweden is a hellish dystopia and Tom Daschle a die-hard Marxist. It's to realize that, despite the conservative hold on the White House, the Congress and the Supreme Court and the utter dejection among Democrats, right-wingers still fancy themselves an embattled minority facing an army of wily, ruthless leftists, who they hate with the righteous fury of the downtrodden.

* * *

That may be why there were so many college students in attendance, since university campuses are perhaps the only places left in America where conservatives might legitimately feel marginalized. Many students spoke of being radicalized by the hostility they face as Republicans at liberal schools, much as David Brock did in his book "Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative." Given the p.c. hysteria that has choked the intellectual life of so many institutions, it's likely they really have been mistreated. Still, some of the examples they proffered suggested something rather less than an epidemic of college Stalinism. At the panel on campus liberal bias, for example, Roger Custer of Ithaca College's Young America's Foundation spoke of the oppression he suffered when his group advertised a speech by Pat Buchanan's sister Bay with signs saying, "Feminazis beware: Your Nuremberg has come."

"We received a barrage of criticism," Custer said indignantly. "Leftists said they felt physically threatened."

* * *

Rev. Lou Sheldon, the founder of the Traditional Values Coalition and sworn enemy of homosexuality, put it best. Asked if Bush was in sync with his agenda, he replied, "George Bush is our agenda!"

But Sheldon, a plump, pink man with pale blue eyes, wasn't out celebrating the Bush presidency. Instead, the man who has pledged "open warfare" against all things gay, stood in the exhibitors hall before a makeshift carnival game called "Tip a Troll," in which players were invited to throw gray beanbags at toy trolls with the heads of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, or trolls holding signs saying, "The Homosexual Agenda," "Roe V. Wade" and "The Liberal Media."

Sheldon, like the rest of the right, isn't letting success distract from a monomaniacal focus on its foes. Indeed, the overwhelming message at CPAC was that it's time to toughen up.

Much more.

Please stand by

Once again, there appears to be some problem with the scheduled Tuesday appearance of the cartoon at Working for Change. I'm looking into it, but they're out on the West Coast, where it is currently 6:30 in the morning, so it'll probably be a few hours before things are straightened out.

I remember when I lived in California, people on the East Coast thought nothing of calling me at 6 or 7 in the morning. They seemed to believe that the world revolved around them, that it was nine or ten in the morning, for chrissakes, so why the hell wasn't the lazy Californian even out of bed yet?

Now I'm on the other side of the time difference, and it'll probably be noon, for chrissakes, before we get this thing taken care of.

Update: it's up now.

--------------------

February 03, 2003

FYI

There's a peace rally scheduled for NYC on Feb. 15, but they're having a little trouble getting the necessary permits:

The reason we have not yet been able to provide a location for this event is simple: With less than two weeks left before Feb. 15, the City of New York has still not granted our request for a permit to march and rally. We have another meeting with the police on Tuesday, Feb. 4, and remain optimistic that an agreement will be reached.

Please support us in this process by immediately contacting the following officials and urging them to grant our request:
**NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: 212-788-3040, 212-788-3210, and/or 212-788-9600
**NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: 646-610-8526
**NYPD Chief of Department Joseph Esposito: 646-610-6710

More. Given that February 4 is tomorrow, some of you may want to help get the word out on this today.

Ann's got some books to sell

As noted previously in this space, Ann Coulter's next book is called "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism." Which means that you can expect to see a certain, er, recurrent motif in her work for awhile, I suspect:

The Democrats' jejune claim that Saddam Hussein is not a threat to our security presupposes they would care if he were. Who are they kidding? Democrats adore threats to the United States. Bush got a raucous standing ovation at his State of the Union address when he announced that "this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles." The excitement was noticeably muted on the Democrats' side of the aisle. The vast majority of Democrats remained firmly in their seats, sullen at the thought that America would be protected from incoming ballistic missiles. To paraphrase George Bush: If this is not treason, then treason has no meaning.

Democrats don't support a boondoggle missile defense system? Then they're traitors, by god, traitors! They're guilty of, ahem, treason!

Ann just wants to sell books. But the slippery slopes of history are always greased at first by opportunistic slimeballs.

--------------------

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