Somebody on this radio show asked a simple question this week--"why are we considering tax cuts of any size when children are hungry and families are homeless?" Good question. (N.B. that person was Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism).
Hey! Another treaty the Bushies don't like! "The United States told the World Health Organization this week that it is unlikely to sign the first treaty to curtail tobacco use worldwide unless the 171 nations that hammered out its language agree to a clause that would allow governments to opt out of any provision they find objectionable." (My italics) Yup. Protect the tobacco companies' right to advertise, and if it creates a loophole the size of RJ Reynolds' HQ, too bad. This country is rapidly becoming a treaty-dissing pariah.
To prove I can find something the President does that I do agree with, he's apparently going to push for his AIDS plan with fewer strings than I had anticipated, or that his fellow conservatives in the House are demanding.
My brother-in-law just got back from Vegas; he always brings me a baseball cap, and this time was no exception. However, this time it was a sort which is pure anathema to a Dodgers fan; he stopped over at SFO and got...a GIANTS cap! Good grief, man! This is the West Coast equivalent of giving a long-suffering Red Sox fan a Yankees cap, for those of you unfamiliar with the gravity of his choice. I'm stunned, shocked and dismayed (but thanks, guy; I'll wear it all the same). What the hell, he's only known me 20 years; I guess he's still unfamiliar with my baseball allegiance.
In case you missed it, a federal court ruled the other day that music file-sharing through Grokster and Morpheus does not entail copyright infringement.
And yes, Batty, the pithy snowflake saying will be gone shortly. (She did a drive-by decorating critique yesterday).
We may have been unable to protect tablets containing missing pieces of the Gilgamesh epic. But somehow we did manage to secure the lavish homes of Saddam's hierarchy, where the cultural gems ranged from videos of old James Bond movies to the collected novels of Danielle Steel.
That's Frank Rich in the NYT today. The most telling line in the article may be this: The Washington Times published (April 21, 2003)
...a March 26 Pentagon memo to the coalition command listing, in order of importance, 16 sites that were crucial to protect in Baghdad. No. 2 on the list was the Baghdad museum. (If that link breaks, there's an excerpt posted here: look for "Pentagon memo."
The blame for this cultural disaster seems to lie clearly with the civilian commanders at the Pentagon, not with the soldiers on the ground. Far be it from me to call Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et. al. Philistines, but... (incidentally, the Philistines appear to have gotten a bad rap; this article tells us they had quite a culture themselves).
Serendipity: that second link in the quoted paragraph above comes from something called The History News Network: if you're a history buff, it has lots of interesting material, including highly opinionated blogs! As you might also expect from an outfit with that name, the Iraqi antiquity fiasco is well covered.
Real time & updating display of weblog postings, around the world
How? Weblogs.com + geocoding + RSS
Is it really real-time? Nearly:). Weblogs.com updates about once per minute. the geo-blog poller checks about once per minute. and flash checks in with the server about once per minute. so at worse, it's 3 minutes in the past, at best 1 minute.
Why so few blogs? Only ~10% of weblogs are geocoded
Kinda nifty, I calls it. It's a world map (Mercator projection, I think) with flashing lights representing newly updated blogs geographically. (If you've already got the GeoURL code, obviously you don't need to add it, and if you're using MT, you probably don't need to muck with the RSS tag; I certainly didn't do that, yet Andy found me on the map). Hey, somethin' for nuthin'! You may already be on the map!
Ladies and gentlemen, we went to war to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, right? Well, not exactly.
"We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
The Bush administration felt that a new start was needed in the Middle East and that Iraq was the place to show that it is democracy — not terrorism — that offers hope.
Beyond that, the Bush administration decided it must flex muscle to show it would fight terrorism, not just here at home and not just in Afghanistan against the Taliban, but in the Middle East, where it was thriving.
The Bush administration wanted to make a statement about its determination to fight terrorism. And officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target.
Makes lying about "sexual relations with that woman" pale in comparison. Clinton only lied to the American people, not the entire world. If his lies were judged to be impeachable, how about these?
My goodness, in that list of magazines I forgot National Geographic. How could I have forgotten all those yellow borders?
Here's a first-person account of the last two days of Iraqi control of Baghdad, from the NY Review of Books. It's quite well told, describing both the confusion and the chaos. It also provides a little understanding, for me, anyway, of why the looting went on for four days or so.
More news from the business magazines: are you ready for The Apprentice? It's a new television reality show, pitting new MBA grads against "street-smart" folk with no formal biz education. Shooting starts September 14. Go to the website at NBC and sign up now!
Venture Capital/Blogging news: Ben and Mena Trott (yay, MT!) finally have some cash to play with. They've gotten an undisclosed amount of financing from a Japanese investor.
Over the years I've subscribed to a whole slew of magazines, including, in no particular order, Boy's Life, Baseball Digest, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Business Week, ComputerWorld, Forbes, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, Harpers, The Atlantic, and Fortune. A few years back I let the Forbes, Fortune and Business Week subscriptions lapse, but I'd been reading them for about 10 years. In all that time, I don't recall (and maybe I'm wrong) those three corporate titans being particularly interested in muckraking journalism, at least about their principal subjects. So imagine my surprise when I saw that the cover stories of this week's Fortune are devoted to exposing some of the tricks CEOs have been using to inflate share prices, enrich themselves, and otherwise comport themselves less than admirably.
Take a look at the cover:
Then read the story and the sidebars. If that doesn't give you some concern about the ethics of some members of the Fortune 500, I'll be surprised. I wonder if it's similar to the way star athletes seem to think rules aren't for them; they're selected early as potential up-and-comers, generally admired and praised, and their faults and errors dismissed.
Tax cuts or social needs? Medicare and Medicaid cuts, teacher layoffs, library shutdowns; Missouri, for crying out loud, has resorted to turning off every third light bulb in government buildings. Yet Mr. Bush would rather cut taxes than help fund states (and the people who live there). Click on the "Multimedia" graphic to see how your state matches up with the others.
"sex workers," "men who sleep with men," "anal sex" and "needle exchange." If you want a research grant from NIH or CDC, you're well advised not to use those words. Should you do so, you may well get extra scrutiny from Congress or HHS, and you may well not get the grant. Yet another example of the moralistic ethos prevalent in Washington these days.
Here's an essay from a member of Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet and Society postulating that the blogosphere is part of a "second superpower", meaning the groups of activists coordinating from the ground up. He cites MoveOn.org, Amnesty International, and many other groups with specific agendas as examples. Well, maybe; so far I'd call that view a tad grandiose.
Hmm. Typically I read about 12-15 venture capital and medical newsletters daily. I forward any article a client might find relevant to it via e-mail, but I've wondered about creating a specific blog for each client. It might be a way to avoid filling up inboxes. Anyway, I'm not alone; a few doctors are trying out the same idea. Whaddya think? Would you read a blog your doctor kept?
I was watching a baseball game the other day, and hearing the lineups announced, I got to puzzling about something truly trivial. What ever happened to the art of nicknaming? Did it die with Grantland Rice?
Schoolboy Rowe. Van Lingle Mungo. Dazzy Vance. The Big Train. Pistol Pete. Highpockets Kelly. Hit 'em Where They Ain't. Big Six. Iron Joe. Smokey Joe. Bullet Bob. Old Hoss. The Iron Horse. The Grey Eagle. Catfish. Rabbit. The Baby Bull. Twinkletoes. Schnozz. Slats. The Chairman of the Board. Big D. Sad Sam. Sudden Sam. Frenchy. Germany. The Georgia Peach. The Kentucky Colonel. The Duke of Flatbush. The Wild Horse of the Osage. The Fordham Flash. The Commerce Comet. The Flying Scot.
The Sultan of Swat. Hammerin' Hank. The Say-Hey Kid.
Somehow, A-Rod, K-Rod, and even The Big Unit just don't have the same ring.
Anybody else remember any?
American Airlines, Part 1. Unions object to executive bonuses and pension funding revealed just hours after unions make pay concessions.
American Airlines, Part 2. After an outcry, American agrees to drop some of the bonuses; the pension bailout seems to be in question. The Reuters story says the pension funding is canceled, but NPR's reporter said otherwise.
What the hell was the Board thinking? Greed and avarice are not dead, obviously. How in good conscience can you tell your unions the only way to save the company from bankruptcy is to demand concession packages of $660 million from pilots, $620 million from mechanics and ground workers, $340 million from flight attendants and $180 million from management and other nonunion groups and then turn around and offer between one and two year's additional pay to your top executives? If I were a union member...
About what software could this phrase be used? "...the program's first version for the Apple II computer was only 20 kilobytes in a file that also included the full Apple II operating system." Happy 25th, VisiCalc!
The American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP) appealed to the Pentagon during the run-up to the war, asking for protection of Iraqi museums. Who are its members?? Well, they have no web site under that name, according to Google. This article has some background information on them. If the quotes in the article are to be believed, some of them are art dealers and traders who have made no secret of their desires to get artifacts out of state museums in the past. If that's the case, one wonders how fervent their pleas were (yes, yes; this is how conspiracy theories are constructed. I know that. However, past statements can be indicative of attitude).
That essay has a lot of links at the bottom of the page; this one is a remarkably thorough compilation of news stories about the destruction, collected by someone who's apparently a member of the Archaeological Institute of America.
It now appears that the looting was systematic, with the thieves knowing what to take, and that some lower-level employees may have been accomplices. Art thieves have become more organized since 1991, one expert said.
What was Iraq like, post-Ottoman and pre-Hussein, you ask? I found this thumbnail sketch pretty informative.
An upcoming television ad from the conservative Club for Growth targets Sens. Snowe and Voinovich, along with moderate Republican Rep. Amo Houghton of New York. The Voinovich ad shows the senator's photo alongside a French flag, as the voice-over compares France's opposition to the Iraq war with the [sic] Mr. Voinovich's opposition to the Bush tax package. From ABC News's The Note. The newsletter authors say, "Typical, shall we say, subtlety, from the folks at 'The Club.'"
I swear I had no insider knowledge, but while watching a news clip of President Bush at that Boeing plant yesterday I said (sarcastically, I admit) that Boeing would probably announce layoffs this week or next. Well, according to the president of the local machinists union, "The timing for the president's visit couldn't be worse. On Friday, 238 of my members are getting laid off . . . because of lack of work." This was not stellar advance work on the part of the President's political team, I'd say.
The Note, by the way, is shamelessly campaigning for votes for the Webby award, politics division. There are a slew of other categories to vote in, as well, and the elections run through May 23, so you can pick and choose up till then, if you're so inclined.
One of these guys was crawling across the floor in my bedroom last night; I chased him for a while, then gave up. He reappeared this morning in the office, and I managed to get him with the flyswatter. It's a cane spider, and harmless to humans, but too damned big to let wander around.
Headline: "White House to Start Online Forum". Somehow I don't expect this to last, if only because the volume might swamp it.
Here's an interesting essay about blogging and the "write what you feel" ethos. The author put some thought into it (unlike me; as we all know, I shoot my mouth off).
This is getting too weird for words. Back here I complained about my taskbar moving over to the left side of the screen; today, during a momentary screen lockup, the damned thing moved all the way up to the top! That's fine by me, but it's a puzzlement.
Several different archaeological groups extracted promises from Pentagon officers that Iraq's national museums would be protected, but...Artifacts? Who cares about stinking artifacts? "Bad things happen in life, and people do loot," Rumsfeld said.
From a Veterans Administration press release about a new government Earthday website:
"In the three decades since the first Earth Day celebration, our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our natural resources are better protected," President Bush said. "We have learned from our successes and are putting that experience to work at the Federal, state and local government level." (Italics added)Right. His Administration's emasculating clean air regulations, refusing to support stricter CAFE standards, and allowing increased logging and snowmobiling in national parks, but that doesn't count.
Here's why media consolidation is disturbing; Murdoch's empire expands. If you're a sports fan in Orlando or Minnesota, you lost the ability to see your teams because of a fight between Time Warner Cable and Murdoch's Fox. Consumers lose.
Diabetics, listen up: there may be, within a year, human trials on a glucose sensor which can be embedded into a contact lens.
I have had a few attacks of gout, and I've been laughed at because of it. Read this article for a better understanding of the condition, and spare me the derision, thank you.
I'm not an Arab living in the Middle East, but when I read and hear about a US Administration "warning" Syria, I start wondering just what the objective may be. On "Meet the Press" this morning I heard the following exchange:
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe there’s a potential of war between the United States and Syria?
AMB. MOUSTAPHA: No, I do not believe this. I’ll tell you why. Because we believe that the American values and we believe in American fairness. We don’t think that extremist people will further push the agenda.
Don't hold your breath, pal.
What was beyond contest today was that the 28 galleries of the museum and vaults with huge steel doors guarding storage chambers that descend floor after floor into unlighted darkness had been completely ransacked.
At the Yarmuk Hospital, the largest medical center on the western side of Baghdad, they took not just all the beds, medicines and operating room equipment, but also the CAT, MRI and ultrasound scanners.
Taking over a country and toppling its civil organization with technology and smaller numbers of ground forces appears to have aided this anarchy. I feel sorry for those untrained marines and soldiers trying to cope with this. I wonder if that vase that Rumsfeld was bitching about during yesterday's news conference was an 8,000-year-old amphora? Seeing the wreckage of the National Museum reminded me of a movie; was it Logan's Run that had a fight scene in the chambers of a crumbling US Capitol Building, many years in the future?
Military police by the thousands are needed, obviously. I wonder how many reservists are MPs, and I wonder how many of those are civilian cops who can't easily be called up without further decimating police forces all around this country. What a mess. Brilliant war plan; non-existent peace plan.
Go over to Solonor's house and commisserate with him. Use his tagboard. Offer him a cyber-brew. The poor son-of-a-gun took on the task of running a cyber baseball league, and part of the responsibility included running a live draft via chatroom. At 40 players per team, and 24 teams in the league, that's 960 players he had to select from individually-submitted lists, and woe be unto him if there was a slip-up. Anyway, the whole thing took about nine hours today, so he deserves a beer and a soft cushion upon which to rest his weary keister.
In the spirit of many of the statements in this story, "shh...you didn't hear this from me, but...we want to make the Patriot Act permanent."
Triumphalism would be a mistake, says Robert Kagan in the Post. I agree, but I'll bet it happens despite Kagan's misgivings. The neo-cons are going to crow like crazy and quietly begin planning for Syria and Iran. And with the consummation of this deal, Fox will be cheering them on in even more places. Murdoch has managed to acquire Hughes Electronics and its DirectTV unit from GM. Can anyone spell media consolidation?
Here's an interesting document: a memo to incoming Israeli President Netanyehu written in 1996 by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others. It gives the reader a little more insight into the Perle neocon agenda, in this case thoughts about what Israel should do about the peace process (trash it), Syria (raid it from Lebanon with Israeli proxy forces, or directly if need be), and abandon "land for peace." Along the way it should cut taxes, sell off publicly-owned business, and (here's the cynical one) wholeheartedly agree with missile defense in order to "broaden Israel’s base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense." (Italics in original).
The Baseball Hall of Fame has interjected itself into the political debate over war in Iraq. It had planned a celebration of the 15th anniversary of Bull Durham, one of the best baseball-themed movies of all time. The film starred Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. It has canceled the event, said Dale Petroskey, president of the organization, because "Recent comments by the actors 'ultimately could put our troops in even more danger.' " Tim Robbins, Sarandon's partner, fired back: "He said he remained 'skeptical' of the war plans and told Petroskey he did not realize baseball was 'a Republican sport.' " Mr. Petroskey, the story notes, was an assistant press secretary in the Reagan Administration.
Smells like a blacklist to me.
Update: the Hall of Fame has been awarded $750K of federal taxpayer dollars for 2003. That means it's your dollars and mine being used to have this guy espouse his point of view. See Thomas; do a search for "baseball hall of fame." When you get the results, select H.J. Res 2 ENR, then click "Best Sections" on the resulting page. You'll get a section for Museums; click it. Look through the highlighted words on the next page until you see an appropriation for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
I find this absolutely reprehensible, just as I do Ari Fleischer's implicit threat to Bill Maher a year ago that he should "watch what he says," or Ashcroft's remark in open committee hearings that dissent "aided the terrorists." These people are entitled to hold their own opinions, but if they get a paycheck from me, they damn well shouldn't be pushing said opinions in the formation of public policy.
R.I.P., Cécile de Brunhoff. I remember reading the Babar books long, long ago. I couldn't pass a quiz on the content, but I remember the illustrations. I couldn't find any text on the web, drat it.
Storrs doesn't have a paper, and I don't know what city in Connecticut is closest to the place, so UCONN has to be satisfied with the NYT article. 37 wins, 1 loss. Congrats to the Huskies. Sorry, Tennessee Lady Vols. You gave 'em a good scare.
Where the hell did I put last year's 1040 and 1040X? Not to mention the N-12 and the N-12X...taxes are a pain. For one thing, putting it together reminds me of how absolutely lousy an income-producing year I had. I've got lots of receivables but very little cash. This stinks. Anybody need a trained researcher who writes damned good reports? See resumés at left. Apply only if you can pay me when the invoice is presented.
Because of the time zones, we in Hawai'i often have national sporting events tape-delayed until evening; the theory is that our local television stations are performing a public service by putting the games on at a time when more viewers can watch them (the fact that they can sell advertising for higher rates during prime-time is, of course, inconsequential). This has had its benefits, of course, but it's also meant that the potential viewer has had to avoid sports and news broadcasts on the day of the event. Over the past couple of years this practice has abated somewhat, although Monday Night Football still airs at 6:30pm locally, even though it actually begins at 3:00pm and is nearly over by the time it airs. Why am I bothering with this? Today our local CBS affiliate is giving us the best of both worlds; the Kansas-Syracuse game is live at 3:00pm today and replayed at 8:00pm tonight. Since Kansas defeated Arizona, I suppose I shouldn't root for them; guess I'll be for Syracuse.
Any entrepreneurs or wannabes out there? I found a new blog written by three venture capital investors from Sand Hill Road (that's the main money street in Silicon Valley).
It's 1630. At 1330 my sister, brother-in-law, and niece were here swimming in 80-degree weather. At 1500 the dog was under the bed hiding from thunder and buckets of rain. It's now overcast but no longer raining.
(This weather update brought to you in a feeble attempt to make the Northeasterners feel better about their freakish spring snowstorm).
These outfits keep cropping up. The speech Woolsey gave at UCLA on Wednesday (below) was under the auspices of Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (henceforth referred to as AVOT), a nice innocuous name and goal. However, if you look at their Statement of Principles, one finds some rather chilling stuff. It's aimed squarely at radical Islam, but its principles have some disturbing aspects:
- 2. The radical Islamists who attacked us did so because of our democratic ideals, our belief in, and practice of, liberty and equality. AVOT will take to task those who blame America first and who do not understand--or who are unwilling to defend--our fundamental principles.
- 6. Because of the threat posed by radical Islamists and others, Americans will have to rethink many of their preconceptions about fighting terrorism. AVOT will defend policies that preserve civil liberties without sacrificing common sense and our common defense.
- 8. Improving our gathering and effective utilization of intelligence is a necessity. AVOT will support responsible efforts by our nation's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to collect and utilize more -- and more pertinent -- information and to facilitate interagency communication. (Italics added)
The advisors to this organization (which is an offshoot of William Bennett's Empower.org, the education and research arm of Empower America) include Bennett, former Attorney General William Barr, former Ambassador-at-Large L. Paul Bremer, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security (under Richard Perle) Frank Gaffney, Lawrence Kadish (described on the website as an industrial real estate developer), assistant professor at Florida Atlantic U. Walid Phares, Harvard professor Ruth Wisse, and ex-CIA Director Woolsey.
The vision these people have is of an America pre-eminent, astride the world by virtue of military might and the power of its ideas. Apparently the idea that other parts of the world might be less than enthused about this vision is shunted aside as an unworthy belief held by foolish benighted children, in need of discipline and instruction.
Hey, soldier, git yer bath here! Nice cold bath! Small fee!
I don't want to believe this. I absolutely do not want to think that some supposed "Man of God" would barter a clean bath to combat soldiers and support troops in exchange for baptism. WTF is his commanding officer thinking? There was a Marine colonel relieved of his command yesterday; this chaplain should immediately be cashiered, or whatever the current term is.
Challenging politicians is not unpatriotic
A March 27, 2003 letter to the editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
Good grief! Letters to the editor are saying Jesus supports war and that to challenge a politician is both unpatriotic and shows you hate freedom.
Calm down, folks. Bush the Junior is not calling forth the Second Coming, he just wants to recreate the Roman Empire.
Jesus was pretty clear on violence: "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." Maybe when Bush disarms, he will have the moral right to demand it of others.
The essence of our democracy is to speak up in defense of life, liberty and justice for all. It is courageously patriotic to do so in the face of tyrannical attempts to squash rights, stifle freedom and intimidate dissent -- attempts like the Patriot Act and conservative control of the press.
It is politicians and ill-considered wars of conquest that are being opposed -- not the country, not the Constitution or the principles our ancestors and elders fought to guarantee. No matter how Bush wraps himself in flags, he is still nothing more than a politician.
Truth is powerful. It is up to you to educate yourself and your neighbors. Be patriotic for our democracy and remember, Jesus would never hurt anybody.
Want some more? (This one courtesy of Scott, who posted the link the other day).
The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
This is America
Paul Weyrich of the Reaganite conservative Free Congress Foundation, on Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks: "The Dixie Chicks may be entitled to their opinion, but for them to give aid and comfort to the enemy when we are on the edge of war is just outrageous. . . . I guess there's no loyalty to this country any more."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)'s critical statement on the Bush administration's failed diplomacy: The remarks "may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close."
Columnist Daniel Pipes in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post: "Why the Left Loves Saddam (and Osama)."
In the same issue of the Post, the newspaper's gossip column, "Page Six," helpfully gives a list of what it calls "appeasement-loving celebs" whose work should be boycotted: Samuel L. Jackson, Janeane Garofalo, Sheryl Crow, and, of course, Susan Sarandon.
While Sen. Joseph McCarthy is long gone, blacklisting never goes out of style.
Maines never said a word about the troops. She never said a word about "America." She simply expressed the opinion that she and her band were embarrassed that the president of the United States is from Texas.
For this, she earned the wrath of the nation's conservatives, the enmity of a large segment of country music fans (the Chicks are the No. 1 country music act in America), the burning of their CDs, and a demand from the South Carolina House of Representatives that the Chicks perform a free concert for troops from the state and their families.
It's unclear whether pressure from fans, Maines' record label, or conservative media forced her to apologize, even though she really had nothing to apologize for. But you have to wonder what it will do to the Chicks' bottom line when a company that owns 1,233 radio stations in America (including at least two in Baltimore, one being the pop station that used to play the Chicks' song "Landslide" almost interminably) is also financing patriotic rallies where people brought signs blasting the band. (Not that there's any connection, but the aforementioned station conglomerate Clear Channel Communications, also syndicates Rush Limbaugh.)
In case you haven't gotten it yet, here it is in a nutshell. Criticizing the president is not the same thing as criticizing the troops. Criticizing the president is not the same as criticizing America. And criticizing the president is not "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," which is the classic definition of treason, a federal crime that earns felons the death penalty.
So here's a few questions. When the Clinton administration sent troops to quell the ethnic cleaning in Kosovo, we can presume Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) was giving "aid and comfort" to mass-murdering tyrant Slobodan Milosevic when he said, "The administration's campaign has been a disaster. . . . [It] escalated a guerrilla warfare into a real war, and the real losers are the Kosovars and innocent civilians." What a traitor to America.
When then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said of the intervention that "Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode," we can presume that his criticism of the president's foreign policy provided clear and forthright evidence that DeLay hates America.
You see, "freedom" is funny like that. Of course DeLay and Nickles were no more unpatriotic for denouncing administration policies while U.S. troops were in the field back in 1999 any more than Maines or Daschle are today.
There's no shortage of it, and it's not new to this period of conflict, either. Recall White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's veiled warning after colossal boob Bill Maher remarked on the cowardice of U.S. fighter pilots--that Americans need to "watch what they say."
And remember when critics asked Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett exactly what information the government had prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Bartlett said that asking pointed questions like those "are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do."
Last September, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) posed the ludicrous question, "Who is the enemy here? The president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?"
The simpleminded, the Know-Nothings, the John Birch-style über-patriots like to create a "slippery slope"--a classic logical fallacy--to support their contention that the president equals the troops, which equals the flag, which equals the Constitution, which equals freedom. There's no daylight, no wiggle room, between any of them--as long as it's their guy in power.
There was no shortage of criticism of Bill Clinton during his presidency, and it hasn't abated since he left. The far Right has tried to draw a metaphor from an act of consensual sex to everything from fiscal policy to the refrain that the Clinton administration somehow bankrupted the U.S. military. Funny how this criticism never was seen as treasonous. I suppose it's all depends on whose ox is gored.
When a government seeks to paint any opposition as unpatriotic and any dissent as treason, when it uses its allies in industry and the media to hound skeptics and blacklist celebrities, when it attempts to paint legitimate questions of policy as either a vote for America or a vote for dictatorship, that's not freedom any more.
That's fascism. Smart people know the difference.
Today's wrinkle on the Nigerian scam:
First permit me to introduce myself as Minister Of Development (Joumani Larabas) of the Western Sahara State known as the Republic of Saharawi.
The what? Does this guy think I'm so dumb as not to know there's no such place? There is such a place? Oh. Not only is there such a place, it's got a pretty miserable history, as the links found in that story will tell you. That article is the most recent the BBC has, and it's dated August 29, 2002. A quick search on the web gives me hits for various religious ministries attempting to help the situation, but not much else. Amazing how little I know, sometimes.
"I don't look at this as a pro-war matter at all. As far as I'm concerned, it's figuring out how to help the Arab people," Woolsey said. "The issue of democracy is also an issue of peace, and what we ought to be focusing on is helping to bring democracy to the Arab world."
"We want you nervous. We want you to realize now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you -- the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family -- most fear: We're on the side of your own people."
I don't particularly like Mubarak's Egypt; I don't particularly like the House of Saud's Saudi Arabia. I don't like Assad's Syria; I don't like half the tin-pot dictators in Africa. That doesn't mean I think the United States of America has either the need or the right to go to war with each one of those countries to make them over into democracies.
This crowd is leading our country down roads I don't want to go, and I suspect there are a lot of people out there like me. I don't want to spend lives and fortunes in a perpetual state of war for a vague goal of "democratizing" countries. These people would do well to read some British history, particularly post-WW I histories of the Middle East. It didn't turn out well then, if A Peace to End All Peace is to be believed; I see no reason why it should be different now.
Did you know that the Mercury Theater on the Air radio program (playlist) lasted only five months? Yup, the program that aired H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in 1938 in news-bulletin format was short-lived. This and other fascinating facts can be found at the Radio Hall of Fame. The list of members has some very familiar names. Whether you listen to current talk-radio or NPR, old-time dramas, music or sports, you'll recognize some of these folks. From Wolfman Jack to Susan Stamberg, Rick Dees to Paul Harvey, they're in there.
I happened across the site while looking for the name of a 1960s television show; it was a crime/legal drama with a catchy theme song. I remember the first part of the name as H-A-double R-I, but I can't remember the rest. I found a match called Harrigan and Son which sort of matches the genre I was thinking of, but it was only on for two seasons (1960-1961), and that seems an awfully short time to have embedded the song in my memory (late update: I found the theme on SitcomsOnline; sure enough, it was Harrigan and Son!) It starred Pat O'Brien as the lawyer/father.
Speaking of theme songs, if you're looking for .wav files of movie and television theme music, try this site; the guy (as a hobby!) has over 8,200 themes in zipped format, and he'll take requests. Poke around a little; he outlines the process of mailing them. The amount of mail he gets is staggering.
I'm suffering from acute exhaustion after jelly bean research (well, that and a tummy upset from eating all that candy given me as a bribe by the suppliers to mention them in the article). So just read this material instead.
Ashcroft outrage number something (I've lost count): Here's a guy who's an engineer at Intel, a naturalized American citizen, a husband and father, and apparently a guy whose charitable impulses have just landed him in jail as a material witness. His "crime" appears to be that he donated some cash a while back to an organization which has just been put on the potential terrorism-funder list. He is being held in solitary confinement, with limited access to his attorney. All the court documents pertaining to his case are being kept secret; he may not even have been charged or interrogated as yet.
This is not the way American justice is supposed to work. Please go over here to read more. If you're as dismayed at the way this case appears to be taking shape, write to your Congresspeople. Here's a sample letter.
Jelly Belly's roots can be traced back to a family named Goelitz. Two young brothers emigrated from Germany to make their mark in America and set the family on its candymaking course in 1869. Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz are still carrying on the tradition of making candy. The Goelitz family got its sweet start making hard candies. Then the second generation of the family jumped on the band wagon of candy innovations by making what were then called "buttercream" candies. These candies carried them through the Great Depression and two world wars and included Candy Corn, a sweet we've made since about 1900 (and still use the same recipe). The great-great jelly bean ancestor also appeared in the 1800s, but jelly candies of one kind or another have been around for thousands of years. "Turkish delight," a citrus, honey and rosewater jell, has been putting smiles on kids' faces since biblical times.
Fast forward 2500 years. When the penny candy craze came along in America during the late 1800's, candy makers began experimenting with tricky sugar candies, like gumdrops, jelly beans and jawbreakers. The jelly candy inspired by Turkish delight was shaped into a bean and given a shell using a French process called "panning." Here's the science, and here's a virtual tour of the manufacturing process.
The first jelly bean was created by an American candymaker whose name has since been lost in time.
Although the penny candy boom waned a bit when America fell in love with chocolate in the early 1900's, there was a real chocolate shortage when most chocolate went to overseas troops during World War II. So patriotic Americans once again discovered their urge for non-chocolate sweet treats like the common candy store jelly beans.
The English jelly baby, it's claimed, was founded by George Bassett in 1842, Bassett's are world famous for their Liquorice Allsorts, introduced in 1899. Allsorts were not born from an inspired idea but rather from a happy accident. The story goes that one of the firms salesmen, a certain Charlie Thompson accidentally knocked his boxes of samples of liquorice sweets onto the floor in front of a buyer. The buyer, seeing the colourful mixture of sweets asked Bassetts to produce just such an assortment for him to sell. Bassett asked Charlie to name the sweets and the rest is history. Today Bassett's produce 14 million Allsorts a day and the sweets are sold all over the world, and of course at The Sugar Boy. Naturally such a successful sweet has been copied but none of the imitators come close to the real thing and we will only stock the best! Another famous line produced by Bassett is Jelly Babies; these were originally a Victorian development said to have been devised by an Austrian confectioner working for Fryers of Lancashire in the 1860's and marketed as Unclaimed Babies!