Saturday, October 11, 2003

Tom's Reduced To Hyping "The Least Bad Option"  

This is the clown who saw amber waves of democracy washing over Iraq prior to the war while the more sane amongst us were screaming "no, no no, impossible!" Really, there ought to be a law...(joke, fellas)

Strange Days  

I can't quite get the bead on this story but I suspect our news is tainted and so the true import of this is hard to assess. An alternate government to the Iraqi Council may be being born. An Islamist government.
Hundreds marched Saturday to back a shadow cabinet formed by anti-US firebrand Moqtada Sadr after three Iraqis were killed in attacks and the US army launched sweeps in Saddam Hussein's stronghold...

In the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Najaf, 180 kilometres (110 miles) south of Baghdad, hundreds of people took to the streets Saturday to express support for the shadow cabinet announced by Sadr.

The crowd gathered in front of his office next to the Imam Ali shrine in central Najaf, an AFP correspondent said.

``We are ready to sacrifice our souls for you, Sadr,'' chanted the demonstrators as they roamed the streets of the city.

``We are against the American occupation forces and we back everything that Moqtada Sadr says,'' Mohammad Hassan al-Rumaissi, one of the demonstrators, told AFP.

The demonstrators were responding to a call by Sadr during his weekly sermon in the nearby town of Kufa, in which he announced the formation of a shadow cabinet.

``I have decided and I have formed a government made up of several ministries, including ministries of justice, finance, information, interior, foreign affairs, (religious) endowments and the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice,'' the young cleric said.

``If you agree, I ask you to demonstrate peacefully in order to express your support.''

Sadr, a radical who heads the thousands-strong Mehdi Army militia, was ignored by the US-led coalition in the formation of Iraq's interim Governing Council on which he is not represented.

When Great Minds Meet  

Pynchon meets Marge Simpson. It seems to be real:
Al Jean: We have a show coming up where Marge writes a novel and gets endorsements from writers playing themselves, including Tom Clancy, Thomas Pynchon-

IGN DVD: How did you get him ?

[Editor's note: For the unfamiliar, Pynchon is the most reclusive and elusive author in the U.S. He's never does interviews, has never been photographed, and people don't even know where he lives. He makes Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson look like a publicity hound.]

Al Jean: We got him. (laughs) He was really nice.

IGN DVD: Oh well of course, he's not seen, right?

Al Jean: He's wearing a paper bag over his head, but it is his voice.


Ashcroft dragging his feet on the OKC bombing case? What's this all about? Is it the sheer incompetence that Ashcroft is known for? Or is it the far right extremist views Ashcroft is known for?
The state of Oklahoma, in the midst of a death penalty prosecution against federally convicted OKC bombing defendant Terry Nichols, has sent a memo to Ashcroft warning him that the Justice Department's lack of cooperation in the case may result in it dismissing the charges against Nichols.

Poincare and Einstein On Science And Truth  

I just finished a fascinating book called Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps about the enormous effort it took to synchronize clocks around the world and also work out the time zones. Turns out that this is all related to the theory of relativity, which Poincare nearly grasped, and Einstein totally did. Can't say I'm even close, frankly, but one of these days I hope I will understand it. In any event, in the last -and best- chapter of the book there is a great Poincare quote which goes a great deal towards explaining what modern science is about: is only a classification and...a classification can not be true, merely convenient, it is true that it is so not only for me, but for all men; it is true that it will remain convenient for descendants; it is true finally that this can not be by chance. In sum, the sole objective reality consists in the relations of things. [emphasis added]
Yep. That's great. Peter Galison, the author of the book expounds on this a little later:
Poincare's was a hopeful modernism of relations graspable by us, without God, without Platonic fomrs, and (though he was fascinated by Kant's emphasis on structures through which experience becomes possible) without Kantian things-in-themselves. Instead of attending to objects, Poincare was forever after relations, for it was the relation of things that would survive even when the objects that they tied together had faded behind the mists of history. Truth? Given the complexities of conventions, definitions, and principles that went into the law of physics, he preferred the objectivity that came with shared, durable concepts of simplicity, and convenience. True relations, not truth by itself. Visible surfaces, not obscure depths.
Yes again. Truth is not contingent but in relations, an important distinction. And truth is operational, not embodied in metaphysical "objects."

But when it came to time, Poincare still felt that there was a "true" time. He couldn't wrap his brain, like most of us can't, around the fact that local times are all equally "true." Einstein went a bit further than Poincare. Again, Galison explains:
Poincare never gave up his assignment of local time to the status of "apparent" in contrast to "true..." Einstein wouldn't touch such a theoretical dichotomy. Time and space in one inertial frame were as "true" (or "relative") as in any other; clocks were clocks, rulers were rulers...When Einstein handled the light quantum heuristically, without reference to the wave equations understood within the ether, it left Poincare fearing that the young physicist and his supporters had jettisoned the very conditions that made possible real understanding of the physical world. In his terms, Poincare was right: Einstein was perfectly willing to use intellectual devices as stop-gaps - heuristics that tied elements of theory to elements of the phenomena, even if that meant violating intuition (in Poincare's particular sense).
And so we arrive at the depth of Einstein's ambition:
"In a certain sense," Einstein later insisted, "I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed." Einstein believed that a proper theory would match the phenomena in austerity. In that depth lay a contemplative theology. Not the religiosity of a personal, vengeful, or judgemental God, but a mostly hidden God of an underlying natural order:"The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future to him is every whit as necessary and determined as the past...His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law which reveals an intelligence of such superiority."
Of course, Einstein isn't advocating anything as crude as Intelligent Design here. And furthermore his notion of determined future would fall by the wayside as the probablistic nature of the quantum world became, um, clear.

UggaBugga On Limbaugh  

Uggabugga lays out what is becoming the Standard Model riposte to conservatives pushing liberals to go easy on Limbaugh:
Our position is:

We believe in equal treatment under the law.

We support a change in legislation about drugs - to reduce or eliminate penalties and, where appropriate, to treat use as a medical problem.

That's it. Conservatives can agree with us or not on those two items, but beyond that we will not engage in a discussion about our liberal principles as they might apply to Limbaugh.
Yes. Of course. I agree with both. But with all due respect to my betters (Atrios agrees with this position as well), Uggabugga's response skirts the issue by focusing only on the legal.

I have no opinion as to whether Limbaugh should be arrested. Only in some alternate universe will such a thing ever happen so it's rather a moot point. I do have an opinion, however, about using the law to wreak vengeance on one's opponents. I think that is not what the law is designed to do, or it should not do so. The purpose of the law is to protect society, period. It is not to dole out revenge. The use of the law for such purposes may be common but that does not make it right. If UggaBugga can wish for a world where Limbaugh has the same chance of going to prison as a poor black kid, I can wish for a world where the law is applied dispassionately.

But "liberal principles" don't stop with the law. Limbaugh is an odious character, as I've said many times, and he's truly harmed this country. However, a Limbaugh without a microphone to rant into is just a pathetic (formerly) fat oaf. It is my goal to see him acquire such status as quickly, and as permanently, as possible.

This does not require wishing ill on him physically. Indeed, to do so merely plays into the cynical hands of the Hannity types who can use it to point out inconsistencies in our position. It is more consistent to hope that Limbaugh manages his addiction somehow (he is likely to relapse for the rest of his life, however) and, without skipping a beat, point to his hypocrisy as a terrible moral failing. (Atrios has been quite excellent on linking to examples of Limbaugh's hypocrisy.)

As mentioned, if revenge is part of one's desire in this case, then to refuse, even for a moment, to play with Limbaugh's principles, has the potential to be far crueller a response to his addiction than schadenfreude.

I certainly share with UggaBugga and Atrios the desire to have Limbaugh's influence destroyed for good. We simply disagree on how that might be best done. But in the end, I really don't care how it is done as long as Limbaugh has zero chance to recapture his mainstream influence. As it is, it is unlikely that Bush will invite him to the White House anytime soon, as his father did.

It's possible that Limbaugh will use the God card: I found Jesus, he saved me from drugs, yadda, and that way "redeem" himself. There are ways to counter that and to do so with ease. Remember, Limbaugh's an addict who's already relapsed twice. It is more than even odds he will do so again. The God card only works once.

Pat Robertson Threatens To Nuke State Department  

This has been much blogged, of course, but it never hurts to do so again to expose the murderous, irrational rage of the religious right:
Robertson, who has been a frequent critic of the State Department, made the offending comments during an interview with a like-minded critic of US diplomacy, columnist Joel Mowbray, who has written a book entitled "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens American Security."

"I read your book," Robertson said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on his Christian Broadcasting Network's website (

"When you get through, you say, 'If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer'," he said.

"I mean, you get through this, and you say, 'We've got to blow that thing up.' I mean, is it as bad as you say?" Robertson asked.

Mowbray responded: "It is."

Mowbray's book accuses the State Department of endangering the security of the United States by allegedly cavorting with sponsors of terrorism, negligence or incompetence in the visa issuance process and ignoring the travails of US citizens abroad.
Let us not forget, however, that Newt Gingrich has been mouthing a lot of the same nonsense as Mowbray, even if he doesn't conclude that nuking the Federal government will solve the State Department's problems.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Quote of the Day  

Dick Cheney:
"As long as George W. Bush is president of the United States, this country will not permit gathering threats to become certain tragedies."
Um, Dick? Remember September 11, 2001? That's exactly what George W. Bush permitted.

Krugman Reads Tristero  

Nah. Impossible. But the subject of Krugman's latest is none other than the one I blogged about on May 20, the clever little technique known as:
Be Reasonable, Liberal Scum! And it's fantastically effective. It's often combined with non sequiturs to bash liberals, as in, "Ok, let's just cut down on the overheated rhetoric and look at the facts here. Liberals don't have a leg to stand on because in 1962, when JFK said [fill in the blanks]."

The only thing to do, as far as I can tell, is call them on it immediately:

- Wait a minute. We're all supposed to believe you're objective when you change the subject for no other reason than to bash liberals again and again?

- I'm not changing the subject. I'm merely saying that in 1962...

- There you go again! We're talking about 2003. Let's stick to that and let's lay off the liberal bashing. Otherwise, you won't get a chance to make your point because I 'm not going to sit here while you duck the subject just so you can beat me up.

- I'm not beating you up! That's ridiculous! I'm just trying to inject some needed objectivity here.

- Good. Start by knocking off your liberal bashing and we'll take it from there.

Now, the situation can get complicated because there actually are rightwingers who genuinely believe no objective person would seriously entertain a liberal idea
In any event, Krugman's column was a lot better and a lot more focused than any of my scribbles. And it was aimed squarely at fellow columnist David Brooks. All of which are good things.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

CNN Poll Or More Fellatio?  

Let's give them credit. At least they didn't ask if we liked Schwarzenegger's Nazi-philia.

Is This Kristof Fact Real  

In the past, I've noticed some strange contortionings of the facts in Kristof's columns, but nothing that was out and out wrong. But does anyone know if this is so, and why?
In fairness, Mr. Bush is doing more about AIDS in Africa than President Bill Clinton ever did.

Quote of the Day  

Digby: "The lesson isn't that we aren't liberal enough. And, it's not that we are too liberal. It's that we are naive about the modern political landscape. That's what we need to change."

Unmitigated Disaster  


There is no other way to describe the recall of Davis and the installment of a Nazi sympathizer as governor of California. There is enough blame to go around - the most, of course, going to the unspeakably stupid fools who voted for this ugly piece of human garbage. Herewith, a j'accuse and some predictions, in no particular order.

Oh, and 'my esteemed righty colleagues?" Don't kid yourselves. Anyone to the left of David Duke should be worrying about the future of the country, not celebrating. A Hitler-lover as Governor of California helps your cause not in the slightest.


1. The defeat of Bush and the destruction of Bushism has become immeasurably more difficult. Why? In 2000, California's 54 electoral votes went for Gore. That's 20 percent of the votes needed to get elected president. Now what would you do if you were George Bush right now? Hint: Pigs get killed and turned into it. Another hint: Jews and Muslims don't eat it, but Hitler-lovers thrive on it. All of which seques nicely to prediction #2.

2. It is likely that California's economy will turn around rapidly as it magically receives money, tax breaks and enormously valuable aid from the federal government. Think it won't happen? Well, yes, the economy sucks and California's really bad. Also, it's true that Schwarzenegger's announced plans would, in a rational world, make things even worse. So it just may be that California sinks along with the rest of the country. But not if Bush can help it. Go here to find out how Bush treats the brother who fixed 2000. (I'd find more links to Florida pork but my blood pressure is high enough this morning.) In short, Bush will do whatever he can to bribe Californians into voting for him. Will he succeed? Who knows? But California which has the most electoral votes by a wide margin is crucial to his strategy. Why do you think he's been trying to ram right wing Hispanics up the rectum of the American judicial system and sliming opponents to them as racists?

4. It is unlikely that Schwarzenegger will stay for an entire term. At the very least, he probably will not get elected at the end of it (term alert: Schwarzenegger was not elected, except in the most technical sense. Therefore, when an election is held, he cannot be re-elected.) Why? It is one thing to want to star in your own remake of Triumph of the Will. It is quite another to run a state, especially when you're a Hitler-loving stooge for a bunch of anonymous Republican sleazeballs. Schwarzenegger certainly wouldn't listen to anonymous studio execs when making a movie. He sure as hell won't be taking orders from a no-name politico.

5. Anti-Semitic and misogynist incidents will increase around the country, especially in areas where neo-Nazi sentiments already have a hold. We can expect a rise in other, related hate crimes: anti-gay, anti-black, anti-liberal. Schwarzenegger has made Hitler into a role model for his fans. You can expect many of them to want to get in touch with their own inner Nazi. Think it unlikely? Then why do ad agencies spend huge fortunes on celebrity endorsements. "Hello, friends. My name is Arnold and I'd like to tell you a little about the unknown Hitler, the little kid who rose from nowhere to become the leader of Europe, the kind man who was a vegetarian, tolerated gays in the highest circles of his government, and who has been falsely accused of exterminating a mongrel race of degenerates."


1. Those who voted for Schwarzenegger and those who stayed home. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

2. The American media. Will the next Terminator movie star Gray Davis? Think that's a silly question? Well, Davis has as many qualifications to act in Hollywood as Schwarzenegger has to be a governor. Schwarzenegger got worse than a free ride from the media. He was given a world class session of Tantric-style fellatio by the media. Leno's and Winfrey's lips are seriously chapped from their yeoman's efforts. And why did they do it? Simple. Schwarzenegger sells movie tickets, tv entertainment shows, and movie fan magazines. Surely, Governor Schwarzenegger will continue to sell media products, especially television product.

3. Anyone who called Schwarzenegger "Arnold" or "Ahnold" or any other pet name after he announced his candidacy. That includes every liberal blogger who thought they were sneering at him for using a nickname, or affecting a sardonic postmodern pose of contempt at the circus. Wrong. You were showing, in classic Hollywood style, fake intimacy and affection. After all, her name's Sandy to her fans, not Ms. Bullock (and she's far more qualified to be an FBI agent than Schwarzenegger is to run a state.).

Folks, every time you called him "Arnold", you voted for him. His name is Schwarzenegger. If you're strapped for space in a headline, his name is "S'negger".

Think I'm making a politically correct mountain out of a molehill? Well, do you call Hitler "Adolf?" or is he "Dolfie" instead? Is Mussolini "Benji"? The kind of informal pet names attached to movie stars has no business whatsoever in politics. Schwarzenegger is a dangerously stupid Nazi-lover and serial groper. Arnold's a lovable guy who couldn't hurt a fly. So's Joey. But Stalin's a different story.

It is one thing to have fun with the often enjoyably bizarre circus that is American politics. It is quite another to humanize Nazi sympathizers. And even when it's not that bad, you should never concede informality -which Americans see as a sign of familial affection - to your opponent.

Why haven't liberals learned the lesson that you never, ever, ever let your opponents define themselves except when they are self-destructive? He is "Bush," never "Dubya." He is "Trump," never "The Donald." Likewise, he is a crook and a quitter, not President Nixon.

4. Davis and Bustamante. Great campaign, fellas. Defeating this thing was easy and it could have been fun to boot; you could have ridiculed Schwarzenegger, attacked his Nazi-loving, but nooooooo. Instead, you made supporting your campaigns the political equivalent of giving Sergeant Pepper's a bad review.

Okay. Enough.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

What A Liar  

Liar. Liar.
President Bush said Monday he has "no idea" whether the Justice Department will catch the person who disclosed an undercover CIA officer's identity.

"This is a large administration," Bush said.
There seems to be no level of lying to which he won't stoop.

Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner, Eh?  

What kind of a person thinks like like this?
To commemorate the fifth anniversary of gay college student Matthew Shepard's gruesome death, the Rev. Fred Phelps wants to erect what he calls an 'absolutely beautiful' monument in Shepard's hometown of Casper, Wyo.

About 6 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide, Phelps' monument would bear a brass plaque reading: 'Matthew Shepard entered Hell October 12, 1998, at age 21 in defiance of God's solemn warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22.'

Shepard died in a Fort Collins hospital five days after two men lured him from a Laramie bar, drove him to a remote spot outside of town, robbed him, beat him and left him for dead.
There's no point in listening to any Christianist on any subject who doesn't immediately, and loudly, denounce this obscene man and his hateful plans.

3 More US Soldiers Die  

Awful. But remember Bush says all the killing will stop in March 2004 so it won't interfere with his election bid.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Life Imitates Monty Python  

First, a guy keeps a 400 pound tiger in his apartment. And now this:
A man claims a woman wrongly adopted his lost parrot -- and he can prove it if given a chance to question the bird in court.

Loulou, an 11-year-old African gray parrot, flew out of David DeGroff's apartment on April 12 after a guest who wasn't wearing her glasses accidentally walked into the screen door leading to the balcony.

On May 11, Nina Weaver, of Newburg, Pennsylvania, adopted an African gray from the D.C. Animal Shelter.

DeGroff, convinced the bird is Loulou, filed a lawsuit seeking an opportunity to depose the parrot. He is seeking $15,000 for pain and suffering if the bird turns out to be Loulou.

Toothy Flake Says...Well, I Can't Figure It Out  

Does anyone know what he's saying here?
He started off playing a chauffeur in 'Driving Miss Daisy,' and then they elevated him to head of the CIA, and then they elevated him to president and in his last role they made him God. I just wonder, isn't Rush Limbaugh right to question the fact, is he that good an actor or not?'

-- Pat Robertson on his '700 Club' television show, using the example of black actor Morgan Freeman to defend Limbaugh's jab at Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Thanks to Atrios for the heads up.


Totally insane:
The Supreme Court today let stand a ruling by a federal appeals court that Arkansas officials may force a convicted murderer to take drugs to make him sane enough to be executed.

The court also let stand a ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court upholding a murder conviction for a woman who used crack cocaine and then delivered a stillborn baby.

Bush Puts The Grown Ups In Charge. Not.  

Now Rice will be in charge of both quagmires.Translated: let's give this to the only person left in the administration that the press can be easily intimidated into giving a free pass.

As if that will make a bit of difference. She's as incompetent as the rest of them. Now, the country is about to find out in detail just how lousy she is.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Fox: Unfair, Unbalanced, and Wrong  

They Knew Beforehand Iraq Oil Wouldn't Cover Costs  

In other words, in September 2002, the Bush administration knew Iraq did not have nukes, did not have infrastructure, and had nothing to do with 9/11. Geez.
The Bush administration's optimistic statements earlier this year that Iraq's oil wealth, not American taxpayers, would cover most of the cost of rebuilding Iraq were at odds with a bleaker assessment of a government task force secretly established last fall to study Iraq's oil industry, according to public records and government officials.

The task force, which was based at the Pentagon as part of the planning for the war, produced a book-length report that described the Iraqi oil industry as so badly damaged by a decade of trade embargoes that its production capacity had fallen by more than 25 percent, panel members have said.

Despite those findings, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told Congress during the war that "we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."
This was, as mentioned, used as justification as early as December, 2002, in a private conference to counter arguments against the war.

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