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October 2004 Archives

October 5, 2004

The Ol' Flip-Flopper

Back in 1992, while Bush Sr. was being criticized for leaving Saddam in power in Iraq instead of crushing him like the bug he is, Cheney came to his defense, saying that capturing Saddam wouldn’t be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.

Good thing he’s been so resolute about that one.

The real question: has Saddam become more powerful since Cheney’s 1992 assessment? Yes 9/11 changed everything, but what did it change about Iraq (given that Iraq has no connection to 9/11, as determined by the 9/11 Commission in America and the Lord Butler Report in the UK). Well… since Cheney still thinks Iraq and al Qaeda are linked I suppose he would say he’s been consistent. But… isn’t that just more evidence that he’s completely bonkers?

Die Bold

Things that worry me.

Remember Diebold? They were the company that supplied California with a whole bunch of electronic voting machines, and then were caught doing all sorts of unethical things like install illegal software on the voting machines (illegal because that software is legally required to be inspected and approved by the state). They were prosecuted for that illegal activity (that prosecution is still pending). Now a high-ranking Diebold executive quit his job at Diebold to go to work for the state of California, as the man in charge of voting machines.

Can you say “conflict of interest”?

Wrong On Defense

This is from This Modern World. I found it sufficiently amusing:

  • “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”—Defense Policy Board Member Ken Adelman, 2/13/02
  • “Simply stated, there is no doubt that saddam hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” —Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/26/02
  • “We do know that (Saddam) is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.” —National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, 9/10/02
  • “It is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” —Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfled, 2/7/03
  • “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” —Cheney, 3/16/03
  • “We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” —Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 3/27/03
  • “We know where (the weapons) are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, north and south somewhat.” —Rumsfeld
  • “Iraq will not require sustained aid.” —O.M.B. Director Mitch Daniels, 3/28/03
  • “Major combat operations have ended.” —President George W. Bush, 5/1/03
  • “A year from now I’d be surprised if there’s not some grand square in baghdad that is named after President Bush.” —Former Pentagon Advisor Richard Perle, 9/22/03

October 9, 2004

In Defense of Macs

Everybody knows that Macs are more expensive than PCs. Except Paul Murphy, who begs to differ. He says:

At the low end, therefore, the PC desktops are marginally less expensive than the Macs—if you can do without their connectivity and multimedia capabilities—and considerably more expensive if you can’t. At the very high end, however, all of the design focus is on multimedia processing and the PCs simply aren’t competitive from either hardware or cost perspectives.

But, as he says, the mitigating factor that comes up in most people’s minds is:

The PC community response is, first, that the multimedia features distinguishing the Mac aren’t necessary and, secondly, that the PC is so far ahead of the Mac on speed that the comparisons are pointless anyway.

Paul Murphy discusses this thing as well. (Hint: Macs Kick PC Ass)

October 11, 2004

The Press, Pressed

I recently found this article, pointing out the absurdities of press coverage of the election, and comparing idiots in an attempt to crown the lord-high nincompoop.

If there’s one criticism of the campaign press that has really held true all across the board throughout this race, it’s this tendency to kid-glove politicians, make excuses for them, make them seem more legitimate than they really are. It is important for the public to remember that a campaign reporter who would call the campaign a bogus, shallow farce—who would say, for instance, that the campaign is a mindless exercise in mudslinging diversion held between a pair of toothy millionaires with nearly identical plans for the management of the country—is also saying that his own job is bogus. Therefore the opposite instinct is usually in evidence in campaign coverage. The race is described as something profound, a true clash of ideals, led by two worthy men of unfathomable depth of character.

Thus you will sometimes see a situation where Bush will get up on stage and stumble around for 20 minutes like a man who’s been breathing out of a bag for a year—and when it comes time to actually describe the things he says, someone like Philip Gourevitch will call him a “master of the American vernacular.”

October 14, 2004

Segregation's Last Stand?

Alabama’s constitution currently enshrines school segregation. They’re going to vote to get rid of it. But let’s not assume that just because the state’s constitution’s statute has been declared unconstitutional a LONG time ago that ridding it of thee illegal pieces will be easy. The ever-popular Justice Moore (famous for refusing to remove the 10 Commandments from his court room) is trying to convince people to leave the statute in there. Why? He says that Alabama is currently disobeying federal law, and is not funding black schools as well as it is white schools, and if this part of Alabama’s constitution was revoked, it would amount to a massive tax increase for Alabama’s citizens.

I’m just aghast.

October 16, 2004

Stewart on Crossfire

Crossfire invited Jon Stewart on to talk about his new book, and he took them to task for being, in his words, “partisan hacks”.

My god, I have an unbelievable amount of respect for this man.


( local, high-res copy is here (84MB) - you may need to download the 3ivx and DIVX video codecs to view it. )

October 20, 2004

Stewart Follow-up

TheStar.com has a decent followup to Jon’s appearance on Crossfire. Here too is Stewart’s own followup on the Daily Show.

(the following is mostly from an email that I sent)

Crossfire is an interesting show to start a crusade on (if that’s indeed what he’s doing) because it’s probably more like what Jon would like to see than not. I mean, if you’re out to call someone a political hack on a debate show, you’d be far closer to the mark if you did so on something like Fox’s Hannity & Colmes (Hannity’s a douchebag and Colmes is a wuss). But on the other hand, if you’re going to go somewhere to call the media on it’s rather blatant mis-handling of important political news, you need to do it somewhere where people will not simply quickly go to commercials and escort you off stage as soon as they realize what you’re up to.

I don’t know much about Tucker Carlson—when I watched Crossfire, it was Novak that was the regular contributor, and he really is a douche-bag (hey, he published the whereabouts and identity of an undercover CIA operative: major doucheitude). But in terms larger than just Crossfire, I think he’s got a perfectly valid point about where media is going these days. I mean, when, for example, fact-checking the political debates, the media figures will research and find 3 problems with Kerry and 3 problems with Bush and call it “balanced”—when in fact, the three problems with Kerry are not knowing Pell grants, not knowing that Bush did meet with the Congressional Black Caucus once, and having left the word “projected” out of one of his sentences about the surplus in the budget in 2000, and the problems Bush had were lying about the recipients of his tax cuts, lying about his position on the man who attacked the United States (Osama), and taking credit for protecting Americans from contaminated vaccine when it was in fact the British who protected Americans. They’re NOT equal gaffes! And more than that, the media doesn’t even have reasoned discussions about the pros and cons of the actual policy suggestions. Instead they prefer to focus on the facial expressions (Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004) and similar ancillary crap (Mary Cheney, for example).

I think Jon’s point is that, regardless of how “balanced” Crossfire may seem to be, they aren’t actually providing much of a service to their viewers, they’re just providing entertainment. One side goes “rah! rah! you suck!” and the other side echoes it back—nobody’s mind is actually convinced or changed. At best, you’re simply aware of a headline you weren’t before—and if that’s all you want, you can watch Jon’s show to get the same thing. Jon gets away with simply listing headlines and making fun of them, because his show is on Comedy Central, whereas more mainstream news outlets, like CNN, have more of a responsibility to be actually useful. (It may be a fair argument to say that CNN’s responsibilities are to it’s investors, and it should show whatever to maximize their income, but let’s be honest: the porn industry pays better, and really maximising their income would result in something like Naked News. If they refuse to stoop that low, then they must have some other agenda than pure money.)

Politicians go on shows based on reputation, and what it will do for them. I think (and this is just my, very obviously whacked out, opinion) that if a show developed a reputation for scrupulous attention to detail, absolute honesty, and religious devotion to manners and aversion to personal attacks or other debate fallacies, then a politician’s willingness to go on such a show would be a benchmark of honesty and openness, and they’d do very well. And when they don’t have guests, they can reasonably discuss the issues amongst the regular contributors. This Week with David Brinkley, back in the early nineties was just that kind of show, I think (the show has since gone downhill)—but maybe I was just young and impressionable. Crossfire is an interesting case, because it was designed specifically for little more than one- or two-line zingers, shouting over each other, with no real mandatory fact-checking except what the hosts decide to do to call the other on it (so, only fact check it it’s really important to your argument that the other guy was fibbing). I really doubt that they could really change much, which is why I think (and hope) that Jon was simply using it as a platform to launch a more fundamental crusade for quality journalism.

It disturbs me that people no longer (can?) trust the media to actually do factual reporting. Everyone has a spin, a slant, whether they admit it or not and these days one has to either admit that you only want to hear one side, or you have to go out and seek a dozen or more sources in order to get anything even approximating a balanced view. That’s crap! I don’t want to have to do the research—that’s what the news agencies are for. Why on earth should I have to go to several different news agencies and read several different stories about the same event just to be sure that I know all of the major facets of that event? I mean, there ought to be some bigger distinction between Al Jazeera and Fox News or CNN than simply political leanings and budget size! And we’re sliding in that direction, sadly. And I can understand why we might be sliding in that particular sad direction—in my email conversations with people I disagree with, the conversation starts out reasoned, but by not carefully monitoring the contents of the conversation, over time it degenerates into name-calling and “well, you’re guy sucks even more” arguments instead of real substantive discussion. Quality political discussion is really hard, and factual reporting is even harder. Its success is largely based on reputation, which takes a long time to build (particularly in this day and age of widespread suspicion of talking heads).

While I don’t know what Crossfire can do about it—probably nothing in the short term—I think it’s a valid criticism of the media that many people are recognizing, and it should be addressed (we’ll need some real strong editors with thick skin, spine, balls of iron, and a herculean sense of journalistic ethics). I dearly hope that Jon is actually going to work for that goal, and that it wasn’t a one-off to get some laughs while being rude to another show.

My observation was that while I watched him say that I was thinking “oh my god, he’s saying what I’m sure everyone is thinking”. I mean, the audience was laughing their asses off, and they were there because they LIKE the show! Perhaps they recognized that they were attending more for the theatre of it than to actually hear something that might convince them to change their minds on some topic?

October 21, 2004

Creationism and the Grand Canyon

You read that right. Here’s the first paragraph from the article:

The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Sure, the article was probably written by a bunch of tree-huggin’ hippies, but… come on.

October 22, 2004

NYTimes Endorses Kerry

Now, I will be the first to say that Kerry isn’t the first candidate that comes to my mind as the fellow I want as the next president. I am entirely unimpressed by his vote on the Iraq war. I’m not talking about the second vote on funding—-I agree with his stance there, and I don’t know if he voted against the second iteration of the bill on principle or not, but it doesn’t matter to me, because he proposed the first iteration of the bill (read: the version that actually made sense, in that it funded the war by repealing tax cuts for the wealthy). What I’m unimpressed with is his vote to authorize the president to use force in Iraq, combined with his explanation for it and subsequent distaste for the war. Either he’s deluding himself, or he changed his mind, or he’s a political opportunist. Did he really think that giving Bush the authority to use force in Iraq if he felt like it meant that Bush would only use it as a threat? Like hell. I see his point, and I raise him a baloney.

On the other hand, I despise Bush. I think he encourages unthinking, uninformed, blind followers with his unthinking, uninformed, blind leadership. He’s been a dick about education, stem cell research, science, and the environment, to name just a few things.

The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education’s handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world. [1]

On the third hand, I’m impressed with Kerry’s performance in the debates, and I appreciate that he was one of the first politicos to recognize the potential for trouble in international organizations without country bonds—-he saw it in the drug war, and wrote a book about it in 1992 or so.

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America’s appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination. [1]

And, on top of that, I have a generally liberal social view, and Bush irritates the hell out of me on that front (gays, women, education, separation of church & state, etc.).

(NOTE: I am ignoring the war here. I despise the invasion of Iraq, always have, but now that we’ve gone and done the stupid invading we need to clean it up and not jump ship as soon as they have elections.)

I heard a while ago that the New York Times had endorsed Kerry for president, but I just recently found the text of the endorsement. I think they phrase it exactly the way I was thinking, and more. Go NYT!

This is the second-to-last paragraph, which I particularly like:

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better. [1]

1 NYTimes original article or mirror at truthout.org

Reality-based Viewpoints

One of the more typical accusations that Kerry supporters will make against Bush supporters in moments of pique is that Bush supporters simply do not live in a world of reality. Of course, this is part of a series of name-calling and nasty personal attacks in both directions, and nobody wins.

Interestingly, a new study has come out that lends some weight to this particular personal attack. Now, I’d like to state right up front that I don’t generally subscribe to this position, and at worst I blame the leadership for misleading (lying) to the rank and file… but it certainly is an interesting result. Remember, this speaks to the statistical average, and not any particular Republicans by name.

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Why do you suppose this is? Why do such large segments of the population believe factually incorrect things?

… how would the race for president look if everyone actually understood what the true facts of the matter were?

October 26, 2004

Faith-Based Voting


heh, it’s too true to be funny.

Eminem's Mosh

Eminem is attempting, like Howard Stern, to enhance his populist power, and encourage people to “vote the scoundrel’s out”. Proof? Here: ifilm or GNN or local copy

October 29, 2004

Jews and Jesus

On this day, in 1965, Pope Paul VI forgave the Jews for killing Jesus.

Nearly two millennia after the fact.

Yeah, that’s about what I thought too.

I ask you, what sort of moral authority can a church have to speak about “forgiveness” when they carry that kind of a grudge that long?

Why Bush Must Go (100 Facts)

In case you needed a reason to vote against Bush, here are 100 facts, backed up with sources. This is essentially a reprint of the “article” by Judd Legum on theNation.com which can be obtained as a PDF for easy dispersal. My comments on each are in italic. (click below for the full posting - it was a little too long for the front page)


1. The Bush Administration has spent more than $140 billion dollars in a war of choice in Iraq. source: American Progress

War of choice? We were attacked… but not by Iraqis. Saddam, in fact, had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden (among other reasons, because Osama backed people trying to unseat Saddam).

Continue reading "Why Bush Must Go (100 Facts)" »

About October 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Kyle in October 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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