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December 04, 2004
Paging the reader...
...who recently sent me the really cool handmade sculpture of Sparky. Lost your address, want to say thank you. Email me.
Thanks, Tommy Thompson!
Just in case they hadn't already thought of it...
Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced Friday that he was resigning, and he expressed grave concern about the threat of a global flu epidemic and the possibility of a terrorist attack on the nation's food supply.
December 03, 2004
CORONADO, Calif. (AP) - The U.S. military has launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.
"Hiroshima of the chemical industry"
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. There's a good rundown here.
December 02, 2004
Those crazy kids at Great Lakes are now running a contest--buy a set of Sparky & Blinky ornaments and you're in the running to win one of their fabulous political marionettes. Details here.
These things are selling like hotcakes (at least if one accepts the implicit premise that hotcakes are an item which sell with great rapidity), so if you want a pair you should probably get your order in sooner rather than later. At $19 a pair, they're sure a better bargain than this President Bush ornament.
The boy's a little slow, but he catches on eventually
Friedman, in the Times today:
It is now clear to me that we have followed the dot-com bubble with the 9/11 bubble. Both bubbles made us stupid. The first was financed by reckless investors, and the second by a reckless administration and Congress. In the first case, the public was misled by Wall Street stock analysts, who told them the old rules didn't apply - that elephants can fly. In the second case, the public was misled by White House economists, peddling similar nonsense. The first ended in tears, and so will the second. Because, as the dot-com bubble proved, elephants can fly - "provided it is not very long."
Funny. Some of us had that one figured out two and a half years ago. And without the benefit of jaunting around the world to collect colorful anecdotes from local cab drivers, at that.
Peter Beinart, in the midst of one of those pieces explaining why Democrats need to be more like Republicans (registration required), makes the following assertion:
Moore is a non-totalitarian, but, like Wallace, he is not an anti-totalitarian. And, when Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Tom Daschle flocked to the Washington premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, and when Moore sat in Jimmy Carter's box at the Democratic convention, many Americans wondered whether the Democratic Party was anti-totalitarian either.
(As Roy notes, "I'd like to see the polling data behind that finding.")
Now, I can't speak to McAuliffe and Daschle "flocking" to the movie premiere, but as for the Carter incident--as regular readers will recall, I was hanging out with Michael that day, and I can assure you that his presence in the skybox was not a premediated strategy by Democratic Party leaders trying to signal their allegiance to a radical left agenda, or whatever it is writers like Beinart are trying to imply when they reference the anecdote. The mundane truth, if anyone's in the least interested, is that we were on the skybox level of the Fleet Center because Michael had just done O'Reilly's show in the Fox booth, and we were making our way down the hallway and Michael was getting mobbed, and one of the Carters happened to see us and invited us to take refuge in their skybox. So, if the question is, "Was a liberal/left filmmaker shown spur-of-the-moment hospitality by a once-prominent political family which has very little power or influence over the modern-day Democratic party?", then the answer is "Yes." But that's where it ends. There were no signals being sent, there was no greater meaning implied. It was a completely random event, utterly lacking the significance some people insist on reading into it.
Interesting profile in the New Yorker this week of an anti-Kinsey crusader named Judith Reisman, who is undeterred by the fact that the sex researcher's eponymous reports were published half a century ago:
The recent release of “Kinsey,” a film about the famous mid-century sex researcher, has made this a busy time for the anti-Kinsey movement. Most Americans no longer give much thought to Kinsey as a societal force, but his detractors believe that his significance can hardly be overstated. A recent newsletter of the abstinence-education group Why know? compared the publication of “The Kinsey Report,” in 1948, to the attacks of September 11th, and labelled Kinseyism “fifty years of cultural terrorism.”
Easy to dismiss her as a crank, but she's the sort of crank to whom our Republican overlords give face time. And that's really the point here: if you voted for Bush, then this, too, is part of what you voted for.
End Torture Now
Let your senators know that you're perturbed by the notion of an Attorney General who spends time thinking up clever ways to legally justify the indefensible.
Let's see the receipts
August has a modestly brilliant proposal: conservatives and libertarians who write fire-breathing, liberal-bashing defenses of Wal Mart should be willing to show their own Wal Mart receipts.
December 01, 2004
The American gulag
The truth leaks out in bits and pieces. It's all so depressingly predictable.
A confidential report to Army generals in Iraq in December 2003 warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees, a finding delivered more than a month before Army investigators received the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison that touched off investigations into prisoner mistreatment.
But they were all very bad terrorists, right? They deserved anything that happened to them, right?
Well, not exactly:
Herrington's report also noted that sweeps pulled in hundreds and even thousands of detainees who had no connection to the war. Abu Ghraib, for example, swelled to several thousand more detainees than it could handle. Herrington wrote that aggressive and indiscriminate tactics by the 4th Infantry Division, rounding up random scores of detainees and "dumping them at the door," was a glaring example.
None of this should be a surprise to anyone smart enough to understand that White House Press Secretaries often do not tell the truth. None of this should be a surprise to anyone who reads the news trying to understand the world, rather than trying to spot imaginary examples of liberal bias. In short, none of this should be a surprise to anyone whose head is not lodged firmly up their own rectum.
If you voted for Bush, this is what you voted for.
November 30, 2004
Signs of the times
Three cautionary tales, via Just a Bump in the Beltway...
In 1992, Tonya Stewart left the Army after serving 13 years in uniform, believing her service to her country was over.
Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, who describes herself as “over 50,” says her small frame and some old back pain made it difficult to fire her M-16 in a marksmanship refresher course.
They basically told me that my Marine Corps time doesn't count as military service," Pistorius said. Faced with a threat of AWOL charges, and worried that a spotless military record was about to be stained, Pistorius headed last month to Camp McGrady in South Carolina.
Not exactly a surprise
The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Here's the story. If you voted for Bush, this is what you voted for. Of course, if you voted for Bush, you probably don't care.
David Brooks makes my head hurt
So David Broooks read a book by a guy who seems much more reasonable (to him) than Jerry Falwell, and concludes that everyone is completely misinformed about fundamentalists.
Speaking as one with considerably more experience in these matters than David Brooks (I spent a significant chunk of my adolescence in the heart of the Bible Belt attending Southern Baptist churches), I would politely suggest to Mr. Brooks that wanting a thing to be true does not actually make it true.
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