Monday, February 28, 2005

Europe is still Europe...

Dublin, Ireland, March 1: Dublin is a better place than I had imagined; most places outside of the United States tend to be that way, whereas most places in the United States tend to be like most places in the United States, and hence are what one would expect them to be; no more and no less.

But Dublin is like most foreign cities only in that one does not know what to expect. Still there are some things that are now much more prevalent and expected. On the Aer Lingus flight to Dublin from Chicago my Irish “single serving friends” seated next to me referred to the current president of the United States as “that fuckin’ White Anglo-Saxon Protestant,” with absolutely no prompting from me.

Never fly international out of Chicago, by the way; it is a dehumanizing degrading experience; a flake of Abu Ghraib brought to the discerning business traveler courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security. In Dublin I had a long discussion with an expert in computer network security. As engineers, our natural curiosity is to use our lengthy experiences in airport security lines to try to reverse engineer the system, and the conclusion we have is quite simple, and in line with the conventional wisdom of frequent flyers. By now, the fact that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t really have security in mind as they search travelers in airports is common knowledge; witness the government’s stonewalling when asked (have to get the link) in response to someone actually having the temerity to ask, “Why do you have to scan my laptop?” It has long been clear that the purpose of these airport searches is not so much to ensure that weapons are not brought on board- anyone who’s seen anything about prison on TV knows this is not the point. Rather, the point seems to be to mildly terrorize and cow the airport travelers. As such, the whole enterprise is actually somewhat reprehensible- as I’ve noted, it’s more a flake of Abu Ghraib than anything else. We are all Iraqi detainees in a tiny way; not charged with anything, but in order to simply get on with our lives it is demanded that we become slightly naked, slightly humiliated, slightly exposed, and doubly so on international flights.

Dublin is undergoing major construction, partially funded by the EU, with resulting horrible traffic jams. My cab driver was exasperated trying to get me to the hotel from the airport in rush hour; some of his frustration was directed towards the English, who, in his view, had intervened everywhere and messed everything up. The ability of the Irish to let opinions like this freely rip is admirable- and their opinions, in my view, are largely correct. Ireland, perhaps more than any country, has seen the seamy underside of English colonialism, and remembers it, but without the seeming neurosis seen in European Jewry towards the Nazis, or the Palestinians towards the Israelis, or the Koreans towards the Japanese. Perhaps it’s the Guiness, but the Irish, it seems would rather remember their poets and writers and music and revolution than their potato famine genocide.

Ah, the Guiness- it really is better here; not bitter in the least. Despite the obvious boom, it is hard to tell what people actually do here, and why they’d be doing it in Dublin, but like many places in the EU, there is the feeling that people actually live well here. The quality of the food is superb. Not only the beer, but the dairy products, the meats, the fish, etc. are all top-notch. There is a peated single-malt whiskey, Connemara, that is the equal of Scottish single malts.

Yet the thing that is ever present in one’s mind, as an American, is the exchange rate. Dublin prices in dollars make the trip seem like 5th Avenue in Manhattan everywhere. A dinner of pizza and a glass of wine will set you back $24.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Yes, Egypt having "freer" elections is a good thing.


Now, how about freer elections in the United States via the Boxer-Clinton Voting Reform Bill?

If FOTF Critiqued Painting Like Movies..

Focus on the Family has a film review section where they normally review movies; one example is this review of "The Aviator."

Joe Carter has a post on a painting entitled "Jesus Whipped."

Which led me to think...

Jesus Whipped
Edward Knippers
(Oil on panel. 96 x 144 inches)

Positive Elements

It mentions Jesus, and brings us back to scripture, where Jesus was, after all whipped.

Spiritual Content

It mentions Jesus, who is the Son of the Living God...

Sexual Content

Jesus' posterior is front and center, so to speak. It is clear that Jesus goes to work out at the gym frequently from his buff appearance. Roman guards are as naked as Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. Penises are on full display; it is not clear if they are erect. One Roman's nipple appears hard.

Violent Content

Jesus is whipped. But it's Jesus, so it's OK. Remember our glowing review of Kill Christ?

Crude or Profane Language

None. It's a painting.

Drug and Alchohol Content.

None. It appears though as if the men are all well fed.

Other Negative Elements

Scripture is not explicitly quoted, and since the bible doesn't say that all were naked when Jesus was whipped, this painting is clearly not biblical.


Although Edward Knippers is a highly gifted artist, and mentions Jesus, this painting should not be viewed by children or teenagers, becaue even though it mentions the biblical theme of Jesus being whipped, it is not biblical, because everyone's nekkid.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ted Rall vs. the Righties...Rall's in front...

I don't know Ted Rall, don't read him religiously, don't really care that much for his politics, his brand of beer nor whether he prefers Huggies to Luvs...but this post here, as well as this one, should be read when thinking about whether Joe Carter's collection of Rall quotes here constitute the kind of vitriol that Rall is thinking about.

Somehow, saying

Lefties just don't seem to get this fundamental truth of politics: Not only has there never been a revolution without violence, but there's never been meaningful social change without violence or at least the threat thereof.

just doesn't have the raw hatred nor specificity of

"if the opportunity presented itself, I'd kill Ted Rall"
"How about shooting Ted Rall THROUGH the Michael Moore Range Target?"
"Ted Rall was flayed? Why didn't anyone tell me?! Is there a video of it?! "
"Ted Rall just needs to be bitch-slapped."

But I'd be the last person to see anyone disciplined according to God's Word and mercifully silenced myself...

The News of Ireland...

As noted below, I'm headed to Dublin for a wireless I wondered what they think is newsworthy in Ireland....

It doesn't look like much happens in Ireland compared to the US. A little IRA spillover, but nothing much of import; the Irish appear from their websites to be more concerned with making money, thank you very much.

One choice tidbit was all I was able to find:

Govt criticised for women only abuse campaign
26/02/2005 - 10:54:41

AMEN, a group helping men who are physically abused by their partners, has criticised a new Government awareness campaign.

It is angry that the latest TV ad about domestic violence only highlights the problems of abused women, and promotes the Women's Aid helpline alone.

AMEN's Mary Cleary says male victims are being deliberately excluded.

Do not think of Andy not think of Andy Cappp....

Friday, February 25, 2005

"McClellan or Grant?" How About the Lobster?

Hugh Hewitt has a blogging challenge: McClellan or Grant...

I often associate Hewitt with the delusion based crowd especially because his "argument by anti-authority" "blog as reformation" book is easily counter-argued by saying that blogging is a kind of contemporaneous deconstruction, and can be best illustrated by the propagation of an absurd meme in blog-space (such as creating a confusion, association, or correlation between Hugh Hewitt and the late Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf.)

But I digress...

First of all, Hewitt's metaphor is itself twisted into an absurdity reminiscent of, oh, I dunno, Hugh Hewitt or the Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf?

So, let's get to the meat of the matter, shall we?

Should the GOP leadership in the Senate push to a confrontation with the Democrats over the filibustering of judicial nominees, and if the Dems filibuster even one judicial nominee, should the GOP move to the "nuclear option" of a rule change, even if Harry Reid threatens a Senate shutdown?

Now implicit here is the ol' fallacy of the limited menu: this is not a restaurant, Mr. Hewitt.

The best alternative would be for the Senate to actually advise the president- as is their constitutional responsibility- on candidates that best reflect the consensus of the United States, and then consent to those that actually reflect this consensus. Triumphalist overblown rhetoric against people who actually care about civil rights and liberties won't do. Even in red states people are starting to see through this attempt to subvert the very essence of America.

Remember, there's lots of purple states out there, and even in Kansas, I bet there's people highly peeved at the erosion of civil rights carried out by the anti-democracy, anti-freedom Republicans.

I guarantee you righties: you attempt to take away the filibuster, and karma will badly bite back.

Reid won't do a Gingrich; he'll be more creative.

書道: Feb. 24....

Well, that had to happen...

I really don't believe this karate organization is named after me.


"Carla's Apparent Paradox"...

Carla over at Preemptive Karma, alludes to a phenomenon well known to decision theorists, detection experts, ... IOW, guys like me...

Sharkansky cites a Seattle PI story quoting Democratic lawyer Jenny Durkin as saying the GOP will have to prove that the felons voted for Gregiore in sufficient enough numbers as to push the election to her, away from Rossi. Rossi's spokesperson Mary Lane, appears flustered in the piece, in my opinion. But Sharkansky of course spins it by namecalling Durkin and ignorning any actual substance.

Also cited in the Sound Politics piece is book review of John Fund's tome, Stealing Elections: How Vote Fraud Threatens Democracy. The review was written by Paul Froehlich, GOP Congressman from Illinois' 56th Congressional District. The review points out that 68% of the felons who voted in the 2000 election in Florida were registered as Democrats.

For Sharkansky, this is proof that Rossi won because felons registered as Democratic in Florida means they're voting Democratic.

Pssst....Stephan, which Presidential candidate won in Florida in 2000 despite Democratic registrations vastly outnumbering Republican?...

OK, maybe she didn't allude to it exactly, but here it is, and here's why it's important to realize that this is going to be the argument that puts the nail inthe coffin of Rossi's hopes:

1. In a decsion between any two hypotheses H0 and H1, if the data that is being used is of a statistical nature, and the statistics affect the decision, then there is always a probablity of error; that is pe =P(H0 decided but H1 was actually true) + P(H1 decided but H0 was actually true)

2. But, my conservative neighbors argue, we're not talking about error here! We're talkin' fraaauuuuud!

3. Well, yes and no: you're also speaking of the failure to detect fraud as well as the failure to admit a voter to vote who was rightfully entitled to vote.

Now that last item is analogous to the old English principle of jurisprudence about letting 100 guilty people go free to keep an innocent person from being imprisioned.

Traditionally, we Americans have never had zero tolerance for all guilty people getting away with something because that would mean that innocent people would likely be wrongly denied their rights.

In any election, there needs to be a tradeoff between making sure people who are entitled to vote can vote, and making sure that people who aren't entitled to vote don't or can't vote. Like any hypothesis test, setting the threshold in one area to minimize one kind of error tends to determine the error rate for the other kind of error.

Which brings us back to Gregoire and Rossi...

Note that the above is, as I said, based on a bias assuming people have rights to vote... not, I repeat not the inherent vote outcome of any particular election.

So, Carla's Apparent Paradox can now be stated:

1. Representative democratic systems, when they have elections, have error rates, and these error rates are based on ensuring that the rights of people to vote are not violated below a certain level.

2. Representative democratic systems, when they have elections, award the election to the person who had the most recorded votes, based on the premise that the one who had the most votes was who the most number of people wanted to get elected.

3. But- because of the inherent error rates of the system: Sometimes the right of people to vote, being more important than absolutely minimizing the number of wrong votes to zero means that sometimes the person who gets the most recorded votes is not the person who the most number of people wanted to get elected.

It's only an apparent paradox, though, because in a democratic system, we accept this tradeoff if the law is written - as it is in the case of Washington State- in such a way that the law is completely agnostic to vote numbers recorded by each candidate except where one candidate's percentage is equal to or greater than anothers.

Hmm... maybe I should apply to be an expert witness on this thing... not as a lawyer of course, but as an expert in statistical hypothesis testing...

Note however, that when it can be proved that the outcome would have been changed. , then the courts will indeed void the results of the election, and either seat the other person who really won or call for a new election.

That is the standard in Washington State. If it is "indeterminate," then it is alas for Rossi and the righties, Gregoire's.



What sort of evidence the Republicans will have to offer to win their case on the basis of illegal votes is something that Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges, who is hearing the suit in Wenatchee, has yet to rule on.

Lawyers for the two political parties disagree about what that requires.

[Mary Lane, Rossi's spokeswoman] said the Republicans, despite Bridges' comments, still contend that the number of illegal votes should, on its face, require a new election because it makes it impossible to determine who really won.

"We believe that anything over 129 (illegal votes) should be sufficient to say that the judge can decide to go on a proportionality argument," Lane added, meaning that the Republicans should be allowed to argue that illegal votes from King County, for example, presumably favored Gregoire by the same proportion as lawful King County votes did.

Since 884 of the 1,108 felons voted illegally in King County, which Gregoire carried with 58 percent of the votes to Rossi's 40 percent, "that is not good news for Christine Gregoire," Lane said.

If Republicans try to make their case that way, [ Jenny Durkan, one of the Democratic Party's lawyers] argued, the Democrats can raise questions about "the demographics of felons in Washington state."...

The Rossi campaign said in an e-mail that the GOP was supplying the Democrats with the numbers of illegal voters later yesterday, as required by a court-imposed deadline, and would disclose the names of those voters today....

"If it's anything like the other lists they've produced, it's about 10 percent correct," Durkan said.

They actually have an even better argument: Chebyshev's Inequality. Take a sample of 1300 votes. What are the odds that the difference deviates from the general population? Well, actually there's a reasonable chance that any sample of 1300 could differ enough from such that a margin of, oh, say, 130 votes- either way is possible.

While of course the Repubs want to focus on King County alone, what about the rest of WA?

Poke around enough, and the Type I error (wrong detection) for either candidate becomes large enough...

George W. Bush's Slovak "Montezuma's Revenge" Moment


Feb 24, 5:03 PM EST

Bush's Gloved Handshake a Slovak Faux Pas

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) -- It was a firm presidential handshake. But technically speaking, since he didn't take off his gloves, President Bush didn't press the flesh when he greeted top Slovak officials.

And that was an apparent violation of protocol in Slovakia, where leaders always shake with bare hands. The wardrobe malfunction caused a stir Wednesday night in Slovakia, where Bush's arrival for Thursday's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was shown live on national television.

Deana Lutherova, an expert in Slovak manners and protocol, said Bush's failure to remove his black leather gloves when greeting the country's president, prime minister and other dignitaries was unheard of here.

Bush kept the gloves on even when shaking hands with the Slovak leaders' wives. First Lady Laura Bush also remained gloved at Bratislava's airport Wednesday night, when the temperature was just above freezing...

Still, the president got it better for his departing handshakes at the airport Thursday night. The gloves had come off.

Really, the guy's an embarassment to Americans. It's time he resigned.

Upcoming service interruptions,so to speak...

I will be going to Dublin, Ireland on Sunday, for a week of nice Europe wireless business trip life.

Then it's on to Tokyo, for another few days of wireless business trip life- this time, though, with wireless connectins few and far between.

So posting here will be sporadic at best...from abut Sunday to the 10th of March...

But check in from time to time...I never know what I might write...

Yet another strange editorial from the New York Times...


In Northern California, the steady rain makes no difference to the sea lions and surfers. It seems to make no difference to the cattle grazing the coastal pastures that overlook the surf. The oldest barns along the coast highway an hour north of San Francisco show a pale green, like a wash of seawater over the barn wood. The sheep along the fence lines look almost as if they were fleeced with the Spanish moss hanging from oaks along the highway. The light is as variable as the rain and the salt breeze. Moisture catches in the manzanita and sage. Pastures stream with water, and creeks rumble down the cliff face, making for the sea across open beach.

So much water seems natural enough on the northern coast. Terrestrial life is half-aquatic there. But it's been the same in Southern California, and not just on the coast.

Actually, it's stranger than that: in the Pacifc Northwest we've enjoyed unprecedentedly mild weather, with temperatures in the high 50's - low 60's, and not a cloud in the sky.

It's as if SoCal and Portland OR have flipped the moisture aspects of climates.

We are starting to think of the possiblity of a drought here...

But folks, hey, don't move here, OK? Now that I've been here 7 years after arriving from NY, with its cold winters....

Ah, whatever. I think I'll go out and enjoy the somehwat early plum and cherry blossoms....

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

Well,let's see, Joe Carter, echoing others, wrote earlier this week:

Would bloggers who believe that it’s legitimate to investigate Gannon's personal life be willing to undergo the same scrutiny? If not, why do they consider themselves exempt?

Well, there's a new blogger in town...

And he bloggeth:

Criticism of my work and my journalistic background is fair game, but the intensive scrutiny into my personal life, especially things from the past have startled many in the journalistic community. Now Democrats in Congress are demanding that the White House do more thorough investigation into the personal lives and sexual histories of reporters. Is this what they want, to give the Bush administration a mandate to make this kind of information relevant to the vetting process for journalists? What kind of reaction would there have been if the White House has announced such a plan two months ago?

Well, Joe you should feel honored. Did "Gannon" read me? (Should I be peeved that I don't get credit? Ask Atrios...) Maybe he did...maybe he figured out that blogging is kinda like journalism, which is kinda like what "Gannon" did, right?

This just keeps getting stranger and stranger... if only Monica had a blog 6 years ago...

HT: Americablog

The further self-fisking of "Powerline" [sic]

Wow, look at that...

"deacon" says:

The evidence of our doofism lies in the fact that Rocket Man does not believe that the theory of evolution is correct...Call me stupid (again), but I have a tough time understanding why the views of Rocket Man on evolution are relevant to the quality of our poltical commentary and reporting. But this is the state of so much of today's left -- unwilling and/or unable to argue political issues (or scientific ones, as far as appears) on the merits.

But, "deacon",that wasn't an argument on merit, it was a sweeping generalization combined with an ad hominem attack.

...leftist logic, ...scientific orthodoxy

Not to mention a reverse argument from authority... (that is, arguing against an authority precisely because they're an authority.)

Um, did you have that claim check for your brains?

(HT: These guys here at Pharyngula , and, DarkSyd...)

I didn't know Einstein and Gödel got on this well...


Gödel, who has often been called the greatest logician since Aristotle, was a strange and ultimately tragic man. Whereas Einstein was gregarious and full of laughter, Gödel was solemn, solitary, and pessimistic. Einstein, a passionate amateur violinist, loved Beethoven and Mozart. Gödel’s taste ran in another direction: his favorite movie was Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and when his wife put a pink flamingo in their front yard he pronounced it furchtbar herzig—“awfully charming.” Einstein freely indulged his appetite for heavy German cooking; Gödel subsisted on a valetudinarian’s diet of butter, baby food, and laxatives. Although Einstein’s private life was not without its complications, outwardly he was jolly and at home in the world. Gödel, by contrast, had a tendency toward paranoia. He believed in ghosts; he had a morbid dread of being poisoned by refrigerator gases; he refused to go out when certain distinguished mathematicians were in town, apparently out of concern that they might try to kill him. “Every chaos is a wrong appearance,” he insisted—the paranoiac’s first axiom.

Although other members of the institute found the gloomy logician baffling and unapproachable, Einstein told people that he went to his office “just to have the privilege of walking home with Kurt Gödel.” Part of the reason, it seems, was that Gödel was undaunted by Einstein’s reputation and did not hesitate to challenge his ideas. As another member of the institute, the physicist Freeman Dyson, observed, “Gödel was . . . the only one of our colleagues who walked and talked on equal terms with Einstein.” But if Einstein and Gödel seemed to exist on a higher plane than the rest of humanity, it was also true that they had become, in Einstein’s words, “museum pieces.” Einstein never accepted the quantum theory of Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. Gödel believed that mathematical abstractions were every bit as real as tables and chairs, a view that philosophers had come to regard as laughably naïve. Both Gödel and Einstein insisted that the world is independent of our minds, yet rationally organized and open to human understanding. United by a shared sense of intellectual isolation, they found solace in their companionship. “They didn’t want to speak to anybody else,” another member of the institute said. “They only wanted to speak to each other.”

People wondered what they spoke about. Politics was presumably one theme. (Einstein, who supported Adlai Stevenson, was exasperated when Gödel chose to vote for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.) Physics was no doubt another. Gödel was well versed in the subject; he shared Einstein’s mistrust of the quantum theory, but he was also skeptical of the older physicist’s ambition to supersede it with a “unified field theory” that would encompass all known forces in a deterministic framework. Both were attracted to problems that were, in Einstein’s words, of “genuine importance,” problems pertaining to the most basic elements of reality. Gödel was especially preoccupied by the nature of time, which, he told a friend, was the philosophical question. How could such a “mysterious and seemingly self-contradictory” thing, he wondered, “form the basis of the world’s and our own existence”? That was a matter in which Einstein had shown some expertise.

They could make a movie about this...

“There it was, inconceivably, K. Goedel, listed just like any other name in the bright orange Princeton community phonebook,” writes Goldstein, who came to Princeton University as a graduate student of philosophy in the early nineteen-seventies. (It’s the setting of her novel “The Mind-Body Problem.”) “It was like opening up the local phonebook and finding B. Spinoza or I. Newton.” Although Gödel was still little known in the world at large, he had a godlike status among the cognoscenti. “I once found the philosopher Richard Rorty standing in a bit of a daze in Davidson’s food market,” Goldstein writes. “He told me in hushed tones that he’d just seen Gödel in the frozen food aisle.”

So naïve and otherworldly was the great logician that Einstein felt obliged to help look after the practical aspects of his life. One much retailed story concerns Gödel’s decision after the war to become an American citizen. The character witnesses at his hearing were to be Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern, one of the founders of game theory. Gödel took the matter of citizenship with great solemnity, preparing for the exam by making a close study of the United States Constitution. On the eve of the hearing, he called Morgenstern in an agitated state, saying he had found an “inconsistency” in the Constitution, one that could allow a dictatorship to arise. Morgenstern was amused, but he realized that Gödel was serious and urged him not to mention it to the judge, fearing that it would jeopardize Gödel’s citizenship bid. On the short drive to Trenton the next day, with Morgenstern serving as chauffeur, Einstein tried to distract Gödel with jokes. When they arrived at the courthouse, the judge was impressed by Gödel’s eminent witnesses, and he invited the trio into his chambers. After some small talk, he said to Gödel, “Up to now you have held German citizenship.”

No, Gödel corrected, Austrian.

“In any case, it was under an evil dictatorship,” the judge continued. “Fortunately that’s not possible in America.”

“On the contrary, I can prove it is possible!” Gödel exclaimed, and he began describing the constitutional loophole he had descried. But the judge told the examinee that “he needn’t go into that,” and Einstein and Morgenstern succeeded in quieting him down. A few months later, Gödel took his oath of citizenship.

That Librul Media... Portland Edition...

This claptrap was on the front page of the Living Section of today's Oregonian...

Shepherding their arguments

Scientist Duane Gish helps fellow creationists hone debate skills in order to best evolutionists
Thursday, February 24, 2005

The real battle would pit a creationist against an evolutionist on Saturday night, but the strategy unfolded in a workshop the day before. "How to Debate an Evolutionist" drew 100 men and women looking for confidence to a hotel ballroom to hear a decorated hero tell war stories and offer tips.

The hero was Duane Gish, a biochemist with a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, vice president of the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajon, Calif., and, he proudly insists, victor in all 300 debates he's had with evolutionists.

Gish was a featured speaker at the 18th annual Northwest Creation Conference, sponsored by Creation Science Ministries of Oregon. The group's founder, Dennis Swift, billed in the group's brochure as the "Indiana Jones of creationism," said that about 1,800 people attended workshops at the Holiday Inn Portland Airport last Friday and Saturday. About 450 stayed for the big debate on Saturday night.

Creationists are Christians who believe in a literal reading of the biblical account that God created Earth and the life on it in six days and then rested on the seventh. Their issue, which many Americans thought was decided during the Scopes trial in 1925, has recently resurfaced in school board debates around the country. Creationists want creation science to be taught in public schools, alongside evolution, which they argue is only a competing theory about life on Earth.

There is some disagreement about what constitutes creation science. Gish and other creationists argue that there is scientific evidence to support the role of a divine creation that took place in less than a week. Most scientists disagree, accusing creationists of pseudoscience, the practice of bolstering an argument with scientific-sounding language that can persuade a lay audience but won't stand up to scientific inquiry.

The bottom line, creationists say, is that few evolutionists are willing to debate creationists. Swift said he's tried for years to set up such contests and almost always the evolutionist declined or canceled at the last minute....

"We have kids killing kids because they think they're just a bunch of people descended from monkeys, with no one to answer to," he said. "If I took a bunch of guns to the zoo and handed them out to the monkeys, we'd have a bunch of dead monkeys. My problem is not with guns. My problem is with calling my kids monkeys."

Gish of course, is a joke in the scientific community, and a man who's not exactly demonstrated the kind of ethics that scientists that I know would respect.

Of course, to the Oregonian, creationism and evolutionary biology... must be the same thing, because, well people believe one or the other, right?

Well, regardless of what Gish says,there's stars way,way out there, so far away that they came into being before creationists got their creation narratives...

Talon News, Atrios, Blogging, the Universe and, Everything...

Somebody sent Atrios an e-mail; and Atrios repeats some stuff he's said before. Some of which bears reading. Some of which doesn't. Here's one thing I'd like to riff on, and I want to riff on it via the other recent news about Talon News:

One things blogs do is act as news aggregators/filters and places for discussion. You may be an excellent news aggregator/filter, but that's a pretty crowded market. That's one place where being an early entrant helps. If you want to distinguish your blog, you need to have some additional interesting original content.

Now it's clear that Talon News, as others have noted by now, wasn't really a "news" organization. It did not have "reporters" creating content, but rather paraphrasers (plagiarizers?) copying other reports.

Now Atrios could say that he's like Talon News (or vice versa,) but there's a difference: aggregation doesn't imply intelligence.

What blogs really do usefully is they juxtapose information in ways that would otherwise not be juxtaposed. They subvert an order that would otherwise be dictated from a concentrated media that "manufactures consent," albeit mostly unconciously, or with a profit motive inmind.

The notion of Glas comes to my blurring the boundary between news and opinion, between news reporting and newsmaking, between the notion of active versus passive users of media, between transmitter and receiver, by pushing notions of what facts, ideas, opinions, sights, sounds can be pushed against/along/with/on each other, we can create a critique of who and what we are that truly informs, innovates, and if not enlightens, then entertains...

Which is to say that if I write "The New, New Talon News White House Correspondent...," and post a picture of a geisha, it means something, it is a critique, it is an attempt at being funny, and to talk about it becomes far too pretentious. It's just an exploration of "Talon News Reporter as geisha," for chrissakes.

One other thing: I have never met Atrios, nor almost all bloggers, but you know what? When he says, "try to be interesting," it sounds like "Don't be boring." With all due respect to Atrios, I don't think of him as an arbiter of what I should or should not blog.

I have other advice: Don't care so much what Atrios thinks. Truly. If you do that, you'll not see what you need to see nor see other gems out there... I even think Atrios would agreee with me.

What I don't understand about Rossi...

is that if he loses hs bid to overturn the results of the last election, how's he really going to go up against Cantwell?

She actually did something that Repubs might like: with Brian Baird, they started a deduction for WA State sales taxes.

I'd always thought this was impossible, but these two Democrats pulled it off.

So, given the terrain, I'd bet there's at least one tax or user fee that Rossi supported (because of state budget troubles).

So, it looks like Cantwell's in the catbird seat.

"Talon News" Goes Really Dark...


In order to better serve those readers across the country who enjoy Talon News content and look forward to receiving it each day, we feel compelled to reevaluate operations in order to provide the highest quality, most professional product possible.

Thus, Talon News will be offline while we redesign the web site, perform a top-to-bottom review of staff and volunteer contributors, and address future operational procedures.

We look forward to bringing an even better product to our readers in the future.

I'm not an attorney, but I wouldn't be surprised if some attorney recommended something along these lines, at least functionally...

So what's "GOPUSA" using for "news?"

Why, "fair and balanced" (yeah, right) "CNS"...

Sure, they're a real news org, just like "World Net Daily..."

Via: Americablog, but of course you could see it comingt...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If this is true

and, it is way too easy to verify this... then the Bush regime is lying about the casualty counts in Iraq and Suburban Guerilla has the next news story from the blogosphere...

Of course, we're used to them not telling the truth- we in the center and left of center would have massive coronaries if they suddenly started speaking honestly.

(via Yglesias)


I missed this bit from Americans United...

James Dobson of Focus on the Family isn't shy about his increasing involvement in politics. During the 2004 campaign, the Religious Right leader traveled the country, rallying evangelical voters on behalf of favored candidates and issues. He is widely credited with helping to defeat former Sen. Tom Daschle in South Dakota. Since then, Dobson has given several media interviews about his political activities.

Dobson's personal politicking is permitted, but federal tax law does not allow him to use the tax-exempt Focus on the Family (FOF) for partisan purposes. Now a progressive group based in Dobson's own back yard of Colorado Springs says he may have done just that, and it wants the Internal Revenue Service to investigate.

The group, Citizens Project, says FOF's Citizen magazine crossed the line by running a cover story comparing the positions of President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry on three social issues - abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.

The article made it clear that Bush agrees with Focus on all three issues and Kerry does not. It blasted Kerry while praising Bush, making it obvious that the president was the preferred candidate. The bias in the article was clear, and it didn't even pretend to be even-handed.

IRS regulations prohibit non-profit 501(c)(3) groups from comparing candidates in this narrow and biased way. The IRS says non-profits can compare candidates' stands on issues, but they must do so on a broad range of issues and avoid distortions and bias. The Citizen article fell far short of that standard. After consulting with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Citizens Project decided to file the IRS complaint.

I have been calling for this myself for quite a while; it is clear that "Focus on the Family" has an apparent intention to coral well-meaning, but ill-informed people into voting Republican.

The New, New Talon News White House Correspondent...

With apologies to Steve Gilliard.

Why is Rick Santorum waging generational and class warfare?


Senator Rick Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership, campaigning across his state this week, trying to get young people to focus on their retirement.

At Widener University in Chester on Tuesday afternoon, people over 50 occupied perhaps half the seats at a forum held by Mr. Santorum and asked many of the questions - most of them negative.

At one point, Mr. Santorum looked out at the raised hands and said somewhat plaintively: "I'm seeing a lot of older hands. I'm not seeing any younger hands."

And still they kept coming, the "older hands," with questions that were not really questions.

As both parties take stock of the grass roots on Social Security during this Congressional recess, Pennsylvania underscores the political challenge for Republicans. It is a state with a disproportionate number of older Americans; 15.6 percent of the population was over 65 in the 2000 census, a number exceeded only by Florida.

Social Security has been an important subject here in the past, and Mr. Bush's plan to overhaul it by including private accounts is "a tough issue," said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public policy at Franklin and Marshall College.

Mr. Santorum is up for re-election in 2006, and a recent poll suggests that he could face an extremely competitive race. He acknowledged somewhat ruefully on Tuesday afternoon that "we'd suffer no electoral consequences for doing nothing" on Social Security.

It will be good to get "man on dog" Santorum out of the Senate.

Historical Figures in American Zen: Nakagawa Soen...

Nakagawa was an outstanding poet, who was definitely not among the "war party" in Japan during WWII.

He was head of one of the most important Rinzai temples in Japan, Ryutakuji, and among the adjectives applied to him were these: eccentric, talented, cosmopolitan.

Nakagawa was the teacher of Eido Shimano Roshi, who established the Dai Bosatsu Zendo in New York, and kept the Zen Studies Society flourishing.

Nakagawa's life is interesting not merely because of the above but because of what happened later in his life. He suffered a head injury and was depressed for many years, especially since he could no longer function as head of a temple. One night, after apparently drinking to much he drowned in a pond.

Nakagawa's life and death can teach us many things, if we are willing to pay attention.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Talon News" Does a Karl Rove "Terra Alert!"

You can't make this stuff up...Americablog quotes Raw Story's teaser that top Senate Democrats are going to call for an investigation into Gannongate...and, over at Talon News..., as of right now...

Intelligence Officials Warn of Future Terror Attacks

Leaders of the FBI, CIA, and other government intelligence organizations testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday and warned of future terror attacks, with CIA Director Porter Goss saying that al Qaeda is "intent on finding ways to circumvent U.S. security enhancements to strike Americans and the homeland."

Which when you folow through the links gives you...missing!

Looks like Talon News is running away!

Woo-Hoo! More Gannon! More Talon! Get 'Em While They're Hot....

Those poor righties have to fast on a diet of stale Eason Jordan or Jarvis vs. Keller... meanwhile the soft,mushy center- the center that goes for the sensastional, is all Gannon, all the time...And progressives like it, too!

Americablog reports that Gannon kept...a journal... a diary, I s'pose...

And Raw Story is breaking the plagiarism scandal aspect of "Talon News."

This isn't going away any time soon; the question is how high up does this scandal go.

Follow the money!...

Yeah, folks, it's sensational, but you know, if this were a Democratic administration, the right wing noise machine would make a passing subway car look like a whisper by comparision with what I'm writing...

New blog links...

Visit 'em- most of 'em link to me, and actually have content that I wish I'd considered first...

My Portfolio Shoots Like a Skyrocket on a Late Winter Morning...


FRANKFURT, Feb. 22 - The dollar fell sharply in the foreign-exchange markets today after the Bank of Korea disclosed plans to step up its purchases of securities denominated in other currencies.

The steep decline highlighted the continued weakness of the dollar, which stabilized early this year after hitting a record low of $1.3666 against the euro on Dec. 30 and raised the possibility that the American currency could fall further at any time.

"The markets are so skittish right now that seemingly marginal news can have a big impact on the dollar," said Julian Callow, chief European economist with Barclays in London.

The dollar lost more than 1.5 cents in value against the euro, which rose to $1.3229 in afternoon trading in New York from $1.3068 late Monday. It also weakened against the Japanese yen, dropping to 104.21 yen today from 105.54 yen the day before.

Australian and Canadian currencies also gained against the dollar, as the Bank of Korea indicated, in a report to the South Korean parliament, that it might keep some of its reserves in those currencies instead of the dollar. The South Korean won posted gains as well.

The Korean plan emerged on Monday but had little effect on currency traders, in part because American markets were closed for the Presidents' Day holiday. Today, the news led to a quick strengthening of Asian currencies against the dollar, before washing over Europe and propping up the euro, which as the world's second most widely held currency is the logical beneficiary of the dollar's weakness.

Over the last few years, many central banks have registered a decrease in their dollar reserves, but this decline owed itself to the revaluation of reserves that reflected a weaker dollar. From 2001 to 2003, the euro's share of the world's currency reserves grew to 19.7 percent from 16.7 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, although it is still far behind the dollar.

David Horowitz: Take your meds!

Horowitz has an enemies list that's amazingly outrageous. Here you'll see terrorists intermingled with the likes of Paul Gorman, who, with Ram Dass wrote a subversive, dangerous book about helping people...(and he's done Buddhist retreats, too!) ...Daniel Sheehan... who's dangerous because he takes being a peacemaker seriously...Jim Wallis, because I guess he destroys the stereotype of Evangelicals as fascists...Barack Obama... heck, I can't for the life of me figure out why Obama made the list... maybe Horowitz didn't like his name?... Angela Davis, who really is a Communist, but who did, after all, say "A fair trial is no trial at all," which, to me is quite right...and, finally, yes, that radical, evil, fomenter of all that is unAmerican, Ms. Karen Armstrong herself!

Horowitz is a nut case. Plain and simple.

HT: Jesus' General...

Amusing bit from "Powerline"...

Remember that nastygram "Hindrocket" sent somebody in Minnesota? Well, don't you know, they made him do it! They really did! All of those nasty, nasty lefties just made "Hindrocket" get so out of control!

Look, admitting you made a mistake ain't enough, when you try to deflect culpability by saying "The bad people made me do it!"

The Oregonian on "Gannon" - What "Liberal" Media?


Had it been Kerry whose aide allowed Gannon/Guckert such access to the president, just think of the furor. Conservative Web jockeys, in tandem with talk-radio shouters, would have created a frenzy thrusting the sordid story onto front pages across the land. At the very least, President Kerry's press secretary would be out of a job....

Whatever the case, the "Jeff Gannon" story is legitimate: On Jan. 26, at a time of heightened national security, a phony reporter with a pseudonym and ties to the Republican Party got to sit just a few feet from the president at a nationally televised news conference and was called upon -- ahead of dozens of actual reporters -- to ask an inanely sympathetic question.

How does something like this happen? Frustrated bloggers on the left would love to get the White House press corps -- leery, possibly lazy, but definitely not lefty -- to find out.
Very true indeed. In fact, it is the hypocrisy of right wing bloggers on this issue that makes it all the more interesting...

Monday, February 21, 2005

Movie Review: Pooh's Heffalump Movie

One of the nicer aspects of fatherhood is the ability to take your young son to a movie that you'd never actually see by yourself. Such a movie is "Pooh's Heffalump Movie."

Anyway, this movie is the sort of thing that Disney has produced in recent years that gets bigots, facists, and self-styled "conservatives" to shift into high dudgeon: Pooh's Heffalump Movie is a film about tolerance aimed for the pre-school set.

Great moviemaking it may not be, but it's useful to have this lesson taught, especially after 9/11: all "foreigners" are not to be feared. Simply because someone or their background or culture is unknown does not mean they are evil, ferocious, or going to cause us harm. Helping out "the other" can lessen the fears we have of the "other."

BTW, those people at Disney have really tight control over their intellectual property... I wanted to include an image in the review, but can't find one.

However, I am able to find the review from "Focus on the Family" [sic], which isn't actually too bad, for them at least.

Of course, the movie gives a generic message, and as long as there are no concrete referrants to the world in which we live, I suppose FOTF wouldn't have an issue. But, say, if Heffalumps were atheists...

One last word on "pseudonyms"...

"Joe Carter" writes in this post,

Does anyone else find it ironic that pseudonymous bloggers like “Atrios” and “Mumon” criticize Gannon/Guckert for using a pseudonym?

Actually, Joe, "Mumon" is not a pseudonym. It's my Buddhist name, received after taking the precepts.

I don't actually find it ironic that you'd level a false accusation against me.

But while I'm at it, I am rather well known in my profession- or at least better known than many folks, and the content of this blog is sedulously separate from my professional life.

I do that to maintain a professional ethic. I can explain the concept to you sometime...
Just so you know...

Hunter S. Thompson's dead...

It's too bad. I especially don't like the fact that he shot himself.

It's odd that this happened amidst "Gannnongate."

Thompson was a real journalist who could write hyper-surrealistically, and yet get the facts into his story.

Gannon was a right wing hack that conservative evangelical "Christians" have to defend with half-truths, innuendo, and slander because they have a specific political aganda and possibly sold their souls to the Republican Party ages ago. If there's a heaven, I think Thompson will be there, the other guy likely won't.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Guess which forum the Nazis prefer to recruit from?


If you said "Democratic Underground" you'd be wrong.

Yep, even the Nazis think that conservatives are much like them.

Meanwhile, even some conservatives are worried about the drift towards fascism in "conservatism."

It's not only liberals who have noticed that Bush's most committed followers are caught up in the fact-filtering force field of a personality cult. In January, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal's far-right editorial page, published a damning column in the progressive Z Magazine about fascist tendencies in the conservative movement. "In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush," he wrote. "Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush … Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy."

This kind of ground-level devotion was key to the volunteer-driven get-out-the-vote campaign, and the administration sent important emissaries to convey the president's gratitude
[to this year's CPAC gathering]. Although the Republicans always have high-powered representatives at CPAC, this year the lineup at the three-day conference is particularly impressive. On the first day alone, attendees heard from Karl Rove and Sen. Rick Santorum as well as Cheney. Tonight, there will be a speech by Zell Miller, the former Democratic senator who delivered the vein-popping keynote address at this year's Republican National Convention. He'll be delivering a "Courage Under Fire" award to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Tomorrow, we'll hear from Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman and Newt Gingrich.

Shame, shame on you Media Matters...

for suggesting that Rush Limbaugh may be the next Armstrong Williams for not being upfront about who's paying for his upcoming trip to Afghanistan.

Besides, everyone knows, he's just going there for the opium...

It just gets better and better...

So Howie Kurtz gets on a rightie to "defend" Gannon...and it turns out that the guy they get is John Hinderaker, who, on his blog, calls himself "Hindrocket" ..."Hindrocket" is speaking out in favor of a male prostitute.

Ya gotta love it. (HT: This diary on Kos.)

Yep, "Gannon" is getting to be Bush's Lewinsky...

Bill Maher makes the point: this story has legs.

This is not going to go away, merely because of the joke potential here makes the Monica Lewinsky affair look like a wonkish debate on whether capital gains taxes should be lowered, and if so, by how much.

On edit: I see even Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf, er, I mean Hugh Hewitt, can't ignore "Gannon" any more.

This baby's gonna be a good ride if it can be done correctly. I suspect that, unlike "Monicagate," this will have only one outcome: a further erosion of support for the president. Whereas Clinton's standing only increased with each attack by Starr and the right-wing media, in this case, religious conservatives will have to come face to face with the moral hypocrisy coming from their own party.

Oh, Bill Bennett, degenerate gambler that you are, where is your outrage?

Good question.

Best bit of "Gannon" BS for today...


Mr. Guckert said Saturday that he had no journalism experience before arriving at Gopusa, apart from working for his high school and college newspapers. Asked why he did not, in his function as a White House reporter, even try to interview White House officials, he said, "I thought there was a lot of meat that came out of the press briefings."

"You may say that lacks some kind of journalistic ambition," he added.

While others have focused on the Plame issue (see below), the fact is, White House briefings are designed to be content-free; Scottie McClellan's non-answers are entertaining because he's not very good at it (which is why many have suggested he needed a "Gannon"); he can't hold a candle to the psyopathic Ari Fleischer.

The fundamentalist mind....

This post, from RazorsKiss, illustrates the fundamentalist mindset rather well, and is rather chilling precisely because the writer simply has no idea of how his words read to another...

Some key features of this post:

  • OK, he's aping C.S. Lewis, and it's highly unoriginal, but the fact that this writer can attempt to adopt the persona of Satan, well, to me says that this person is well at home adopting a persona of evil. That in itself is chilling. How can I say it?

    It is truly a masterpiece of self-deceit and ambiguous outrage against he knows not what.

  • What is striking is the presumption that he's in the "right" camp and the other guy isn't. This type of hubris is close to what real Christians would call "sinning against the Holy Spirit," especially since he's directing it against an individual who is making a charge based on the immorality of the religious hypocrites he has witnessed.

  • This bit of babbling bears repeating for its sheer essence as a sequence of non sequiturs - especially in light of the fact that there's folks like Kierkegaard and Barth who have in essence defined Christianity as subjectivism of the most important and fundamental kind. But then this is the rub that these types of fundamentalists don't get - preciesly because if they did they'd bump up into true Christianity. By denying and denigrating the subjective, they deny and denigrate the very authority - theirs- to accept the premise of Christianity.

    From there, he makes the leap from “since I have said you lost all moral claims” to “thus, you have no claim to morality". Infernal! Do you see what fruits our patient work in the “subjectivism” field have brought? There is no “ethics” - there is “a” set of ethics!

This is what is apparently encouraged in fundamentalist congregations. And it's so foreign to anything I remember Christianity being. I thought they had gotten over the hate.

Thanks, darksyd...

who today points us to this slapdown by Ed Bayton of a rather rude conservative fundamentalist.

This part especially bears repeating:

when ...informed that this domain is private property and therefore if I prevented him from commenting here it would no more be censorship than if I stopped him from coming into my home and insulting me, he responded with this delightful little non sequitur:

Oh, so now morally degenerate or ignorant and stupid ideas are private property?

This particular post (read it in its entirety) had to do with gay parenting, but this really applies to much of the demeanor I've seen from conservatives, and religious conservatives in particular, talking about pretty much anything.

It is one reason why I think the Republican Party, as we know it today, must be relegated to the ash-heap of history. That party welcomes with open arms some of the most deluded, hateful, spiteful, bigotted, ignorant mean folks on the planet.

The Democrats used to, but it's been about 40 years since they all left and went Republican.

If "Jeff Gannon" was really innocent re: Plame...


(as Digby documents)

  • Why does he keep changing his story?

  • Does it really matter if it was "reported in the Wall Street Journal?" The real issue is why would this man be shown classified material in the first place? What was his need to know?

The first question is important because it's a common behavior seen by criminals. And not for nothing, but "Gannon's" performance with Cooper was the classic "lying body language" - if you compare "Gannon's" demeanor to Anderson Cooper's, it's obvious that "Gannon's" hiding something.

The 2nd question is important, too, because nowhere is Gannon denying this crucual point - that he received classified material without a clearance or need to know, and possibly because he can't for some reason. There's another shoe waiting to drop, perhaps on this point.

This story just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This can't be good for whoever might have put Gannon up to this in the White House.


What Logic is and isn't...

A good reference is here.

I quote from the first part of the first tutorial:

Consistency and Validity

The subject matter of Logic

The Logic we are dealing with is concerned with the sorts of things which can be true or false, such as beliefs and declarative sentences.

Truth and falsehood are truth-values.

Logic is not, however, concerned much with the actual truth-values of beliefs and sentences, but rather with such questions as:

Is such and such a set of beliefs or sentences consistent?

Is such and such an argument valid?

Too often, people confuse these things: logic is in essence a language, with a particular very strict syntax. Logic may or may not produce results that correlate with a given aspect of reality- it all depends on how one chooses one's axioms, and whether the particular aspect of reality under consideration is, in fact, logical.

Is all of "reality" logical? Heck no, in the sense that it can be encapsulated without paradox or "completed." We can say "reality has some undecidable propositions." Now sometimes somebody (usually a religious "apologist" of dubious intent) will size on this aspect of existence, and say "X doesn't hold to the 'Law of the Excluded Middle'" with the implication that those who adhere to X are raving lunatics for not seeing that, ahem, they're just not being rational. In fact, there are times when the "Law of the Excluded Middle" simply doesn't apply: Suppose

Ω = ÈkSk ; Sk~=Sj for j~=k.

If an Sk can't be broken down into a smaller set, then there is no excluded middle of Sk and appeal to the Law of the Excluded Middle is simply an error of logic, not a virtue.

The, um, truth is though, that there are things logic and reason cannot encompass (it is possible to demonstrate this logically). The language of logic has limitations which logic itself freely admits. My question is: why doesn't the apologist admit this?

(As for references, see also the famous GEB; if you haven't read it by now, shame on you. Or, if you want something less technical - you can read The Illusion of Technique. If you want something more technical, I can recommend any number of books on logic and switching theory and automata as well...)

We know that.

So to summarize:

1. Logic is a language.
It can be very useful for resolving simple propositions.
3. Logic may or may not correspond to reality.
4. Reality has certain "undecidable propositions"
5. The law of the excluded middle "works" depending on the axioms/assumptions.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Jeff Gannon" asks, "Why should my past prevent me from having a future?"

In his interview with Anderson Cooper, "Jeff Gannon" falsely claims that his private life has been put on public display, and has ruined, (I guess) "his career."

Now it wasn't his private life that was exposed- merely what he had publicly put on the internet: his advertising of his services as a "male escort."

Gannon concludes the interview with the question that's the title of this post, which, I guess for Republicans, - especially conservatives- goes really to the heart of the matter (and might have been suggested by a publicist).

The question deserves an answer, and goes to the heart of the basic critique of the (auto)didactic folks (like Joe Carter on "Intelligent" "Design") who would prefer to denigrate real knowledge and expertise.

Shunryu Suzuki said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

Your past makes you an expert in your life, and in the skills which you use to carry out your life. Your past doesn't prevent your future, but certainly constrains it. That's why we don't want child molesters to work with children, we don't want tennis instruction from those who have never played it, and we don't take to heart moralizing conservative rhetoric and press releases introjected into print without surrounding context from people who claim a background as sex workers. Likewise, if I want to know about biology, I'll ask a scientist who hasn't spent a great deal of time trying to turn biology into religion, because his attention has not been on biology, but on trying to turn biology into religion. And I certainly won't rely on those not skilled in the art to get an answer that requires skill.

You have a future "Gannon." Do not waste your time by night or day. You don't even have to be a sex worker.

Friday, February 18, 2005

書道: 無


More Gannon fall out...

If this is kept up by the blogosphere, the whole thing may make the Bush regime go blooey!

Latest links...

"Gannon" connected to forged Bush TANG memos...

And, apparently, "Gannon" had access to other classified material.

This is amazing. While the righties are working Eason Jordan, progressives have been looking for the chink that would bring down the whole stinking, rotten, corrupt bunch who stole the 2000 election.

And it looks like they're onto something here...

Giving a Republican Credit When Credit is Due...

I still believe that it is in the best interests of the United States of America to see the Republican Party relegated to the ash-heap of history. The fact that the Republican Party is riddled with demagogues, moral degenerates, wannabe spies, torture afficionados, traitors, incompetents, toadies, psychotics in need of supervision, and patrons of terrorists and death squads leads me to believe that the one-time Party of Lincoln has become in need of dissolution.

However, every now and then, somebody in that party actually does some number crunching, takes Bob Dylan's advice from Subterrainian Homesick Blues, and actually makes a pronouncement worth considering.

Such a person is Lindsey Graham, who seems to be making a proposal that echoes in part how I would have Social Securty as we know it funded well.

This week, Graham claimed to have found one solution to the problem of paying for the transition from the current pay-as-you-go system to a personal accounts system. Graham would raise the “cap” on earned income that is subject to the 6.2 percent Social Security tax. Currently the first $90,000 of a worker’s earned income is taxed.

Graham touted the idea of a “donut hole” in the Social Security tax. Graham hasn’t worked out exact numbers yet. But as a purely hypothetical example, the Social Security tax would apply to the first $90,000 of income, the next several thousands of dollars of income would be exempt, but then the tax would resume on all income above $300,000.

The “donut hole” would let upper-middle class Americans off the hook, yet would force higher-income people to help pay the cost of transitioning to private accounts.

Actually, once you make those changes, you don't really need "private accounts" and their attendent risk, because this would "save" Social Security in and of itself. But, to be honest, I could live with private accounts in addition to the traditional payroll based annuity/income insurance program if this method of funding was used to shore up said annuity/income insurance prgram.

It also has the added benefit of making sure heavy earners of unearned income are performing their civic duty by ensuring social stability.

But give Graham a star for coming up with a plan that, at least before the numbers are crunched, looks progressive, as long as there's no devil in the details.

Oh, one other thing: the donut's good because it represents Christmas spending.

Yep, that's what folks who are in the upper 35% do with their excess income after Social Security maxes out. They buy Christmas presents. They stimulate the economy.

This hole is interesting, because it on the surface might appear to split middle class people, but to be honest, as somebody who already maxes out, it's not a bad thing to have middle class people max out Social Security if it's made up by really high earners of unearned income.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Repeating right wingnut lies often enough does not make them true

Mossback tries to repeat this lie about Brit Hume, cribbing from this other wingnut site. Hume's probably going down soon for this lie just the same way that George W. Bush and Jeff Gannon...well, do I have to draw you a picture...?

Well, turns out David Brock and Al Franken are still right as rain...

Now read the whole context of their cited article.

It's absolutely false that Roosevelt intended to include "private accounts." Rather, he intended "voluntary contributory annuities," which were to be in addition to the present Social Security system. To imply that volunaary contributory annuities are the same as private accounts is a lie. It was, clearly what Roosevelt was thought to be an additional contribution to a public fund like Social Security as we know it today. That's not like Bush's "private accounts," especially in that Bush's concept would help bankrupt Social Security.

Hume's other lie is that he neglects to mention that it was the old-age pensions - paid to people before there was enough money- that Roosevelt was advocating phasing out.

Repeating a lie often enough does not make it so.

These clowns should be ashamed, but then again, if they're Republicans, lying is sort of 2nd nature to them...

My letter to George W. Bush...

Dear Mr. President,

I understand that the White House has been having an apparently intimate relationship with one James Dale Guckert, even though the rest of the world knew him as "Jeff Gannon."

I, like many Americans, am wondering if Mr. Bush liked Mr. Gannon, and if so, what he liked about him. Was it his military style? Was it, as many have suggested, his shaved head?

I am also wondering if Mr. Bush shared Mr. Gannon with anyone else in the White House- maybe Mr. McClellan? Or perhaps Karl Rove invited Mr. Gannon in for secret meetings. Or maybe, Mr. Bush was on more intimate relations with his staff than we Americans have been led to believe- after all, there might be a multitude of reasons why Mr. Bush has called Mr. Rove a "turd blossom."

I think it would be great for Mr. Bush to boldy proclaim his love for Mr. Gannon, and support him in his efforts to make sure that people like Mr. Gannon have continued access to Mr. Bush, so to speak to provide comfort to Mr. Bush when he needs it.


Speaking for myself...

Matthew Yglesisas states in response to Powerline's further bloviating about Carter

I don't admire the Power Line bloggers, but I don't think they're on the other side. I don't admire George W. Bush, but I don't think he's on the other side.

What's being elided here is the all-important distinction between political disagreement and warfare. So I'd be interested in hearing the views of the "responsible" right out there. Power Line is not an obscure site by any means. Indeed, it's become one of the most prominent nodes in the conservative blogosphere. Do others out there think Jimmy Carter is on the other side? Working in league with Osama bin Laden and others who seek the mass murder of American citizens?

Sorry Matthew, but I think these neocons, conservatives, theocrats, protofascists, fascists, cryptonazis, and out and out Nazis are the enemy. I think they're the greatest threat to American freedom and democracy. I think they've done considerable damage to the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I think they've eroded the national security of the United States. I think they have destroyed the ability of our armed forces to get new recruits and reenlistees by not providing enough for them.

Yeah, speaking for myself they are the enemy, they are in a symbiotic relationship with the terrorists. And the sooner they're defeated politically, the sooner we can make the world safer from terrorism.

Update: Powerline for some reason won't allow trackbacks...and for some reason bolsters their argument with a quote from "Newsmax," which is about as reliable a news source as "Jeff Gannon" was truly not a male prostitute. In other words, it's propaganda nonsense they use, a cheap rip-off of the actually documented October Surprise.

Geez, what nonsensical wankers.

"Jeff Gannon" qua male prostitute makes the NY Times...

but of course there's thundering silence on that point in the parallel universe...Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd have broken the silence at the Times...From Rich:

"Jeff Gannon" had decided to give an exclusive TV interview to a sober practitioner of by-the-book real news, Wolf Blitzer. Given this journalistic opportunity, the anchor asked questions almost as soft as those "Jeff" himself had asked in the White House. Mr. Blitzer didn't question Mr. Guckert's outrageous assertion that he adopted a fake name because "Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce and easier to remember." (Is "Jeff" easier to pronounce than his real first name, Jim?). Mr. Blitzer never questioned Gannon/Guckert's assertion that Talon News "is a separate, independent news division" of GOPUSA. Only in a brief follow-up interview a day later did he ask Gannon/Guckert to explain why he was questioned by the F.B.I. in the case that may send legitimate reporters to jail: Mr. Guckert has at times implied that he either saw or possessed a classified memo identifying Valerie Plame as a C.I.A. operative. Might that memo have come from the same officials who looked after "Jeff Gannon's" press credentials? Did Mr. Guckert have any connection with CNN's own Robert Novak, whose publication of Ms. Plame's name started this investigation in the first place? The anchor didn't go there.

The "real" news from CNN was no news at all, but it's not as if any of its competitors did much better. The "Jeff Gannon" story got less attention than another media frenzy - that set off by the veteran news executive Eason Jordan, who resigned from CNN after speaking recklessly at a panel discussion at Davos, where he apparently implied, at least in passing, that American troops deliberately targeted reporters. Is the banishment of a real newsman for behaving foolishly at a bloviation conference in Switzerland a more pressing story than that of a fake newsman gaining years of access to the White House (and network TV cameras) under mysterious circumstances? With real news this timid, the appointment of Jon Stewart to take over Dan Rather's chair at CBS News could be just the jolt television journalism needs. As Mr. Olbermann demonstrated when he borrowed a sharp "Daily Show" tool to puncture the "Jeff Gannon" case, the only road back to reality may be to fight fake with fake.

More nonsense from the Discovery Institute... repeated breathlessly by EO

Creationist Joe Carter
is at it again- breathlessly repeating the BS from the Discovery Institute...

What is amusing is that both of them neglect to link to the original article by Zimmer.

Like Scientologists who want to limit the information their followers see, apparently Carter and his fellow creationists don't want their followers to see to what I just linked above.

Makes you wonder doesn't it? Why are they so chicken?

To be honest, for someone in my background (probability, statistics, communication theory and information theory) nothing in that article is surprising at all. The Avida folks have created a computer model for evolution, which is equivalent to showing that a probability space can be constructed to show that natural selection and common descent provide an evolutionary model.

This is obvious to anyone skilled in the art, as they say.

So why do Carter and the Discovery Institute have to lie by omission about it? Is their faith that shaky that they have to distort what others do and say?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hugh Hewitt/Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf: Lying Liar...

As usual, I am not saying Hewitt is Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf- that would be besmirching the latter's memory.


Ezra quotes Hank/Hugh:

The Blogosphere is about trust. CNN lost the trust it once had and its fall has been sudden and shattering. FOX News is trusted by millions, so its numbers have shot up, much to the dismay of lefties who don't understand why viewers would trust Fox News.

Here Hewitt didn't even need to do research (or be particularly sane), he just needed to watch commercials. That "CNN: The Most Trusted Name in News" tagline? That comes because CNN still beats FOX by 7% in trustworthy ratings, 32%-25%.

The shrill baying of the fascist hounds...

Digby has a nice piece that segues well with Brent Rassumussen's recent abuse over on Evangelical Outpost (and check out that nice Christian RA's comments). From Digby:

If it is as Lincoln said, that they cannot feel they have won unless we are "avowedly with them" then we truly are dealing with people who are undemocratic. Evidently, they believe that if they control the institutions of power in Washington that the other side is required to say "Uncle" and disappear, which strikes me as a case of believing your own hype. Just because Rush finds it useful to play to the rubes with the "Democrats are wimps" theme it doesn't mean we would never wake up and realize that we were being played. In our system of government there is no provision for surrender. You can pass legislation by strict party line majority or you can compromise and try to find common ground with the other side. When you use such scorched earth tactics such as comparing your opponents to terrorists don't be surprised when they get fed up and decide that there's no margin in cooperation. You'd better be prepared to do what you want to do with no cover from the other side and plenty of criticism.
There truly is no surrender; for if we were to be silent, it'd be that whole "They came for the X's first..." scenario. I must, therefore demand that as a minimum:

  • Hindraker publicly apologize to President Carter.
  • Joe Carter should take some steps to enforce some decorum amongst his bloodhounds. His smugness and silence in the face of the bloodthirsty baying of his co-religionists is apalling.

Digby recomends looking at CPAC to see the kind of vitriol and lies they're spouting this year.

I noticed that "the real guy with the dead intern," Joe Scarborough, is going to get a "journalism" award. Was that because they were going to give one to Guckert but now, they have to give him a "male prostitute posing as a journalist" award?

Just aksing.