Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Back, Part Deux

And I'm a genius! Ok, so I haven't yet worked out whether I'll keep up this blog, or start a new one. Somehow, writing on Bellhorn At Bat, when I've moved to the Washington, D.C. area and Bellhorn has moved into obscurity, seems a little odd. But, in the meantime, I just want to point out this prescient little posting of mine -- if I may pat myself on the back a little:

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Oh no, all the lobbyists are turning Republican!
In his New Republic article (you may need to be a subscriber) critiquing the advent of "big government conservatism", Jonathan Chait makes the case that this apparent oxymoron is not the accidental result of myriad unrelated policies (like the No Child Left Behind Act or politically-motivated subsidies), but is in fact the new Republican philosophy. He cites, as one piece of evidence, the "K Street strategy" masterminded by Tom DeLay. This is the campaign to force Washington lobbying firms to hire only Republicans, unlike in the past when lobbying firms tried to remain bi-partisan, knowing that either party could be in power at any given time.

The K Street strategy is one of the many things that Democrats hold against Tom DeLay, but personally, I think the Democrats should really take a "briar patch" approach to this idea: Oh no, whatever you do, please don't turn all the lobbyists into Republicans, that will be awful for us! There can't be many more despised professions than that of Washington lobbyist. I'd wager they rank up there with used car salesman or trial lawyers in the minds of most Americans: sleazy, opportunistic, dishonest.

So frankly, I'm delighted by the K Street Strategy. When the inevitable backlash against Washington excesses comes -- and it's looking like it might be happening soon -- it'll be nice to have all the bad guys be Republicans. Plus, as long as the lobbying groups are bi-partisan, you're not going to see either political party really go after them. But if Democrats are already being excluded from the public trough profession, they have no reason to defend it (although they'll gladly re-join when given a chance).

So, no, please, Tom DeLay, don't turn all those lobbyists into Republicans, please!

Friday, November 11, 2005

I'm back!

A huge news story this morning has prompted Bellhorn at Bat to return after my extended sabbatical. (In the interim, Mark Bellhorn finished out the season in Yankee pinstripes and I'm moving out of Boston, so this blog name may have to change soon..). What great news could finally rouse me to post again? The Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq have reconciled and agreed to live together in peace? George Bush and Dick Cheney held a press conference finally admitting that they "really dropped the ball" on the whole Iraqi war reconstruction plan? Katie Holmes announces she's broken up with Tom Cruise in a press release entitled "What Was I Smoking?" No, sadly, none of these, but, in blockbuster news today, scientists have named a newly-discovered lemur species after John Cleese! Five years ago, I watched the documentary where John Cleese was sent to Madagascar to learn about lemurs -- and pass along this information to us in his inimitable way. It was great: lemurs are fascinating and John Cleese is quite possibly the funniest human on the planet. So I'm pleased to find out that he's been honored this way.

You can visit Cleese's website here. There's some fun stuff there, including lemur-related material.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Welcome to RepublicanLand

Been reading responses to Katrina in blogworld, and thought this was particularly amusing:

The Republicans have spent the last three or four decades telling us the government can't help us, then put Dubya in the White House, took over all branches of government and proved it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Evolving Iraq

Two interesting articles about Iraq. I've been having another adjustment in thinking about Iraq, as things continue to, well, not get better, that's for sure. Christopher Hitchens received some attention for his well-written and impassioned defense of the war in the Weekly Standard, entitled A War to Be Proud Of. It's a good read, and he makes many excellent points, as always, about how bad the other options were for dealing with Saddam Hussein, and about how much better it will be for Iraq to be even a highly-imperfect free country than a country controlled by a tyrant. But I must say, to declare that my primary feeling about the war, at this point, is pride, would require a level of shamelessness that I don't possess. I still desperately hope that the end result will be a good one, and it's the only thing we can plan for because the alternative would be terrible, but to say that I feel "proud"? No. Just hopeful that we make sure to turn it into something that America can feel was the right thing.

I'm also frustrated that Hitchens continues to focus his best intellectual firepower on gunning down the likes of Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore, but when he has a chance to publish an article in the Weekly Standard, a publication read by many Washington conservatives, he mostly re-affirms the rightness of the war, instead of blasting the people responsible for making a positive outcome of this war a question mark: the Bush Administration. Seems like an opportunity wasted, as the effect I think is mainly to reassure conservatives who might be feeling a bit uneasy about how things are going that they shouldn't worry, it's still the right thing.

A better reflection of how an idealistic liberal hawk should respond to Iraq is this article by Jonathan Chait called Defending the War: Dove Tale in today's New Republic. This paragraph pretty well sums things up:

Given that things have not gone terribly well to date, a certain degree of humility is in order here. (In 2002 and 2003, I wrote a TNR cover story and a couple of editorials defending the war in fairly strident terms.) I'm tempted to accept the chastening and slink away. The trouble is that things aren't quite as clear-cut as the doves would have it. And more is at stake here than pundit bragging rights. The clear implication of this dressing-down is the view that the Democratic Party needs to nominate a war opponent in 2008 in particular and to stop listening to its hawkish foreign policy intellectuals in general.

One of the bad outcomes of the poor execution of this war is the fact that I look like a jackass to many of the liberals to whom I defended the Bush Administration. Well, ok, that's not really a very important bad outcome, but more broadly, the Bush Administration seems intent on making people like Michael Moore and look like foreign policy geniuses. And this is very bad for the Democrats. Even though things have clearly not gone as I would have hoped in Iraq, I'm still in the "idealistic interventionist" foreign policy camp. And I still hate the "anti-war, anti-US military" attitude that continues to hold much of the Democratic base in thrall. I think this idea that the U.S. is the primary cause of war and violence around the world, and that the world would be a more peaceful place if the U.S. were no longer the biggest military power and willing to exercise that power, is morally bankrupt and based on a leftist fantasy. Prior to the Vietam War, Democratic politiicians were proud to have a forceful miitary and an assertively anti-totalitarian foreign policy. Coincidentally, since the Democrats abandoned this hawkish stance in 1972 with McGovern's campaign, they've gone on to win just three out of the next nine presidential elections. So, not only is the, shall we call it, McGovernite foreign policy wrong, but it's also politically suicidal.

Which is why looking at all the things Bush has done that I really hate does not make me reconsider my support for the Iraq war, it just makes me more ticked off that Democrats have continued to ensure that the likes of George W. Bush will be elected president by refusing to re-vamp their foreign policy and their image as, at best, being uncomfortable with the exercise of military power. Used to be, Americans who wanted a strong military could choose between a Repubican or a Democrat. Now, if they want a strong military, they have to vote for the Republian, and our reward is having the country run by the pro-tax cuts for the rich, anti-people welfare, pro-corporate welfare, anti-science, anti-environmental, pro-oil, pro-nuclear, pro-Christian wackos party.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next presidential election.

Aftermath of Katrina

When the United States responds to a natural disaster as though we were a Third World backwater country, something is seriously screwed up. The total incompetence of the response is mind-boggling. Of course, I'm not a Bush fan to begin with, but I think it's perfectly reasonable for people to be pointing fingers at the federal government and Bush in particular. I'm sure some of the incompetence is at the level of state and local officials who aren't necessarily affected by the feds, but I think over the next few weeks we'll see more and more evidence of how the federal government, and yes Bush, screwed up. In a sad way, it's useful as a demonstration to Americans of what happens when the government is run by people who deeply despise government or, at best, are uninterested in basic government functions.

More specifically, this is the result when the country is being run by a Republican party that holds the following (internally contradictory) belief system:

1. The federal government should be shrunk -- in Grover Norquist's famous quote, they've been trying to shrink it until it can be drowned in the bathtub. Specifically, this belief manifests itself in cuts to funding to state governments and cuts to basic social and infrastructure programs.

2. Massive tax cuts. This is, of course, the major goal of shrinking the federal government -- so you can cut taxes. To be fair to Bush, tax cuts were a useful spur to the economy which was starting to go into recession in 2001 and took a huge hit after September 11th. However, I have always objected to the focus of the cuts, much of which went to the already-wealthy. (For what's it's worth, I got next to nothing.) And the wisdom of continuing to make tax cuts a major focus of your domestic policy when you're in the midst of a huge war effort is dubious.

3. Enormous and expanding military power and an interventionist foreign policy. We have the most powerful and technologically advanced military in the world. By far. No one even comes close. This doesn't happen by accident; it happens because we've made a public policy decision to do whatever it takes to make our military the best. If we wanted to have the best, most advanced infrastructure system, we would. It's just not been a policy priority. What has been a policy priority is to undertake a massively expensive war effort while cutting taxes. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I supported the Iraq war, but you can't conduct that type of operation and continue to push for major tax cuts. Unless, of course, you're planning on taking the money from other government spending -- on, say, infrastructure, emergency management programs etc. There is also a tendency in Congress to fund incredibly expensive new gadgets for the military -- some of which have little value.

4. a) Government should be a friend to business; b) pork is politically useful so we will look the other way while it happens (even though our public position is that we oppose federal government spending). Today's Republicans have no qualms about funneling large amounts of public money to various business interests, as well as to stupid projects in their districts. Take a look through the recent Energy Policy and transportation authorization bills and you'll see massive giveaways to conventional energy interests, and funding for ludicrous infrastructure projects that, coincidentally, will occur in the home states of powerful Congressmen (and really, it's mostly men). So what little money is left over after you've lowered taxes while expanding military needs is being funneled toward useless projects and influential corporations.

Not to sound callous, but I'm just pleased it actually happened while the people responsible for this delightful new Frankenstein government philosophy are still in charge and can be blamed for it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Whew, I'm Still Not a Conservative!

Yesterday, I was watching the footage of looters in the hurricane-stricken areas, and, without warning, this thought crept into my head: Geez, there's a major crisis and these people decide it's an invitation to start stealing? What has happened to our morals? I was a little surprised, and thinking what a conservative old goat I had indeed turned into. Until I saw some of the right-wing bloggers' responses, and was reminded yet again that American conservatism has been redefined so far right as to be nuzzling up to, say, Mussolini. Here's some sample commentary brought to you by Ankle-Biting Pundits, the kind of folks who made it necessary for Bush to pretend to create a "compassionate" form of conservatism:

Anyone caught looting (and I don't mean the folks getting food or water or other survival items) should get a bullet between their eyes. Once word gets around that they're being shot on sight, you won't see these human scum going down the flooded street with new Air Jordans or big screen TV's.

How charming. Yes, indeed, we should institute the death penalty for stealing. No really, that's what one of the other posters really thinks:

We have Marshall Law there. I would have no problem with the classic 'shoot looters on sight' kind of Marshall Law.

Marshall Law? Is that like the Marshall Plan?

Monday, August 29, 2005

"The Bell Curve" Revisited

Andrew Sullivan thinks this new article by Charles Murray, one of the authors of The Bell Curve, is a must read. The Bell Curve, for those who don't recall, was the extremely controversial 1994 book that claimed to prove that blacks have lower IQs than whites. At least, that's what I read about the book at the time, and I well recall how the authors were excoriated in the media. I never actually read the book, but have a pretty clearly bad impression of it.

Apparently, Murray was inspired to write this article by the recent contretemps over Larry Summers' remarks that some evidence suggests there are more men than women who score at the top level in science aptitude tests. Since I thought Summers' comments were not particularly outrageous, and witnessed the frequently hysterical response to his comments, and the many ways they were inaccurately portrayed in the media, I thought it would be worthwhile to check out Murray's article. Perhaps he had been similarly slimed and maligned.

Well, first, yes, he really is saying that scientific evidence shows that blacks score lower on IQ tests than whites, and that they perform less well on tests that purportedly test not for academic achievement, which would clearly be more susceptible to environmental factors, but for certain types of mental acuity which are not altered by environmental factors.

Not hard to see why this is controversial. Unfortunately, I'm not particularly qualified to assess the science. While certainly anyone should be allowed to pursue this kind of scientific inquiry, it is not totally clear what one would do with such information. Indeed, Murray himself seems a bit cagey in his article, simply saying that this knowledge would help change social policies designed to overcome black/white inequalities. Does he think we shouldn't bother, as blacks are just stupider? Andrew Sullivan doesn't say either, even though he says that the book "still holds up as one of the most insightful and careful of the last decade." He also says that
the fact of human inequality and the subtle and complex differences between various manifestations of being human - gay, straight, male, female, black, Asian - is a subject worth exploring, period.

I agree, but I am curious as to whether there are any non-white, non-male scientists championing the view that science tells us that non-white non-males are intellectually inferior. Not claiming that Murray or Sullivan are racist or sexist, but it does seem like an awfully conve-e-enient theory for them.

I'd be curious to find out what the scientific arguments against the Bell Curve were. Something I'll have to look into.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

These are the dog days of summer?

I've been completely immersed in the intricacies of hybrid-electric transit buses for the past few weeks -- yeah, that's as exciting as it sounds. Actually, it is pretty interesting, even if I have to wade through talk about steady state vs. transient engine operation, auxiliary power units, and Mean Distance Between Failures. But the point is, I haven't had time to blog, so thoughts have been building up. Add that to the fact that I'm grouchy about all this work, and I'm one pent-up, irritable blogger.

So let's just review some of the things that have been annoying me over the last two weeks:

1. Americans whining about gas prices: "Hey, we want the free market to allow us to purchase any oversized and ludicrously inefficient vehicle possible, but we don't want to pay free market prices." If these people who oppose fuel economy laws since they "have the right" to buy any car they want...well then, they also "have the right" to pay 80 bucks when they fill up their gas tanks. Suck it up.

2. Pat Robertson, that good Christian, thinks we should kill Hugo Chavez because he doesn't do what we want. Can you believe this fruitcake ran for president? Andrew Sullivan (who's back, thank goodness) says Robertson was on the list of people consulted by the Administration on the Supreme Court nomination. Can you imagine Democrats consulting Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore? How is this hateful, increasingly paranoid person any better?

3. Speaking of double standards, there is no doubt in my mind that if a Democrat were in the White House right now, that the Republican response to how things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan would be absolutely brutal. Remember how respectful they were toward Clinton's military efforts?

4. This blog's namesake was made available for any team to pick up, possibly marking the end of his time in a Red Sox uniform. I'm not mad about that -- he was having all kinds of offensive struggles this season -- but about the disgraceful way he was treated by the Fenway faithless.

That's about it for now. I'll be back for more later! I hope the rest of you are having a better week. :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Huffington Post

I haven't paid much attention the The Huffington Post, that new website for liberal/lefty commentary and blogging, I popped over there today and found two disturbing things.

First, this headline, featured prominently a la Drudge Report (that is, oversized font apparently intended to be visible from the space station):

Pat Buchanan: "Cindy Sheehan May Be The Catalyst Of Crisis For The Bush Presidency"

Ok, listen up fellow liberals. When Pat "Coming Culture War" Buchanan is on the same side as you, it should be seen as a red flag. It's not a sure sign that you're on the wrong side; he is probably pro-breathing, for example. But it's...not good. It's also a bit weird when David Duke is one of your supporters.

Second, they feature this important announcement: Sean Penn's Iran Dispatches To Run Monday... Wow. Sean Penn is going to share his extensive knowledge of the Iranian political situation? I've already made my views on celebrities spouting their political views, so no need to say more on this subject.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dan Savage's Guest-Blogging Stint

Dan Savage has been guest-blogging over at this week. I love Dan Savage. His sex column Savage Love is funny, opinionated and graphic. He doesn't pigeonhole himself into a standard lefty (or righty) stance on all positions. Did I mention he's hilarious?

His stint at has been enjoyable, although I personally could have done with fewer references to dildos and whatnot, but that's just quibbling. (Oh, and he also revealed that he has a good editor for his other writing jobs, as he's made several proofreading errors. I know how easy that can be...)

But what I was really waiting for was his take on the Iraq war. As Dan noted on Monday, he was possibly "the only professional sex advice columnist in the United States, if not the world, to come out in favor of the invasion of Iraq." On Monday, he promised to blog about his current view of things, and then waited until today to give it a try. I sense hesitation due to the difficulty for a lefty to explain a lefty stance on the Iraq as it is today. Clearly, unlike Christopher Hitchens, Dan is not just pretending that everything has gone as hoped.

He reprints a column he wrote for the Stranger (the Seattle weekly he edits) in March 2003, shortly before the U.S. invaded Iraq, which gives a great LEFTIST argument for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and other Middle Eastern tyrants as well. It's well worth checking out (at the top of today's entry.)

But the point of the article is actually to explain why he stopped supporting going to war because of the dismal failure of the Bush Administration to sell the war to NATO and the U.N.

This is almost the exact same view that I had at that time, except that I still supported the war, in part because I thought we would find lots of ugly WMD there. Yeah, that worked out well.

Anyway, reading Dan's stuff today reminded me of something else I was thinking today, while listening to an NPR show about Cindy Sheehan, that mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who is protesting the war. During this hour-long show, no one called in to say they supported keeping the troops in Iraq. One person even called in to sing a protest song -- ugh. This is one of my major gripes with the left by the way. The continuing obsession with 60's style protests with sappy, limp protest songs. And large puppets, for some reason that I cannot comprehend.

But the point is, that while I continue to think, as Paul Berman has said that "the position of the antiwar movement and of liberals should be that the United States fulfill entirely its obligation to replace Saddam with a decent or even admirable system," it's hard to feel sympathy for the Bush Administration since they basically brought this on themselves by selling Americans a product that is vastly different than what Bush et al have actually provided. This is always a recipe for disaster, even if the actual product delivered is not a bad one. Bush basically sold a war:

1. that would remove nasty WMD from the hands of an unstable dictator -- whoops
2. that would overthrow said dictator, and bring about a democracy that would make life better for Iraqis -- check on overthrow, jury still way out on democracy
3. with no defined price tag (remember how Bush refused to give a figure for fighting the Iraq war during that fiscal year's budget process?) -- no effort to prepare Americans for the very high pricetag of this war
4. with no set timetable for removal of troops -- Bush was, at best, cagey about how long and bloody the occupation would be, and at worst, let people who were clearly speaking for him (Cheney, Richard Perle, Rumsfeld) portray the whole undertaking as relatively easy.

Needless to say, this is not the war that has been delivered. Bush failed to produce anything close to the specs he provided, so of course, people are, shall we say, surprised by the product performance thus far.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Sweet Neocon"?! Sweet Jesus.

Mick Jagger has written a new song criticizing the Bush Administration's foreign policy. It's called "Sweet Neocon." <\hack hack> Sorry, got a bit of a cough.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Steven Vincent

I didn't know much about Steven Vincent, the freelance journalist and blogger who was recently murdered in Basra. Possibly in retaliation for his tough reporting on Shia hardliners in Basra. The WBUR show On Point had a great "radio diary" bit "on him today by one of his friends. They also pointed to his blog from Iraq, "In the Red Zone", which is a fascinating read. You get more details about real life in Iraq than you would from the latest suicide bomber story. He was also able to criticize both mindlessly patriotic Americans and mindlessly anti-American Americans.

This is one of my favorite entries -- it's long but worthwhile. He's talking about bringing his translator, Layla, to meet an American air force captain involved in developing the bidding process for construction projects. Sadly, Layla was also shot in the attack on Vincent, and is still in the hospital in critical condition.

I'd wanted to introduce Layla to the Gary Cooper side of America, and I felt I'd succeeded. Instead of the evasive, over-subtle, windy Iraqi, fond of theory and abstraction, here was a to-the-point Yank, rolling up his sleeves with a can-do spirit of fair play and doing good. "I want to have a positive effect on this country's future," the Captain averred. "For example, whenever I learn of a contracting firm run by women, I put it at the top of my list for businesses I want to consider for future projects." I felt proud of my countryman; you couldn't ask for a more sincere guy.

Layla, however, flashed a tight, cynical smile. "How do you know," she began, "that the religious parties haven't put a woman's name on a company letterhead to win a bid? Maybe you are just funneling money to extremists posing as contractors." Pause. The Captain looked confused. "Religious parties? Extremists?"

Oh boy. Maa salaama Gary Cooper, as Layla and I gave our man a quick tutorial about the militant Shiites who have transformed once free-wheeling Basra into something resembling Savonarola's Florence. The Captain seemed taken aback, having, as most Westerners--especially the troops stationed here--little idea of what goes on in the city. "I'll have to take this into consideration..." scratching his head, "I certainly hope none of these contracts are going to the wrong people." Not for the first time, I felt I was living in a Graham Greene novel, this about about a U.S. soldier--call it The Naive American--who finds what works so well in Power Point presentations has unpredictable results when applied to realities of Iraq. Or is that the story of our whole attempt to liberate this nation?

Collecting himself, "But should we really get involved in choosing one political group over another?" the Captain countered. "I mean, I've always believed that we shouldn't project American values onto other cultures--that we should let them be. Who is to say we are right and they are wrong?"

And there it was, the familiar Cultural-Values-Are-Relative argument, surprising though it was to hear it from a military man. But that, too, I realized, was part of American Naiveté: the belief, evidently filtering down from ivy-league academia to Main Street, U.S.A., that our values are no better (and usually worse) than those of foreign nations; that we have no right to judge "the Other;" and that imposing our way of life on the world is the sure path to the bleak morality of Empire (cue the Darth Vader theme).

But Layla would have none of it. "No, believe me!" she exclaimed, sitting forward on her stool. "These religious parties are wrong! Look at them, their corruption, their incompetence, their stupidity! Look at the way they treat women! How can you say you cannot judge them? Why shouldn't your apply your own cultural values?"

It was a moment I wish every muddle-headed college kid and Western-civilization-hating leftist could have witnessed: an Air Force Captain quoting chapter and verse from the new American Gospel of Multiculturalism, only to have a flesh and blood representative of "the Other" declare that he was incorrect, that discriminations and judgment between cultures are possible--necessary--especially when it comes to the absolutely unacceptable way Middle Eastern Arabs treat women. And though Layla would not have pushed the point this far, I couldn't resist. "You know, Captain," I said, "sometimes American values are just--better."

It's Official: Yankee fans really are dumber than Red Sox fans

It's a close call, what with the Red Sox fans who think it's more fun to catch a ball than to have your home team get an important out...but 18-year old Scott Harper of Westchester, NY has now provided the definitive proof that Yankees fans really are dumber than Red Sox fans. Yesterday, Harper jumped from the upper decks in Yankee Stadium onto the netting behind home plate. According to this NY1 News story,

"Witnesses say Harper just jumped over the railing during the bottom of the eighth inning after being overheard saying "you think the net will hold me"? "

Uh yeah.

Group Audition for "What Not to Wear"?

No, just members of the Bush Cabinet in their casual weekend wear (accompanying WaPo story here, probably requiring sign in). Geez, have you ever seen a more unimaginatively and dumpily dressed bunch? Actually, this is pretty typical D.C.-wear, I'm sorry to say, as a native of the D.C. area.

More disturbingly, what's with the halo over Bush's head? I know conservatives think Bush is infallible, but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Funny headlines

As I've been too busy to post lately, and still don't have time right now, I'll just put up a link passed along to me by the fiance: this is a real headline, apparently.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What's Going on with Karl Rove and Valerie Plame?

I have been trying my darndest to follow the Valerie Plame/Robert Novak/Judith Miller/Karl Rove et al scandal -- and lord knows I'd love to find Rove exposed as the reborn Lee Atwater that he appears to be -- but I just can't make heads or tails of most of it. Who did what, was it illegal or improper, is it a government scandal or a press scandal or a .... I just don't know. Of course, I'm also unable to follow the complicated plots of those movie thrillers where people are double or triple-crossing each other, so maybe this scandal is totally clear to someone a bit smarter. I probably would have had trouble figuring out why the Washington Post was so obsessed with a minor break-in at a posh Washington, D.C. hotel... It does seem as though there are an awful lot of "Clintonian-style" defenses being used, which is strange since I thought Republicans were returning honor and integrity to the government...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No Rick Santorum?

Boo! Rick Santorum has decided not to run for president. (Tip to "The Has-Been" over at Slate.) It's so much more fun when crazy people run for president. Like Alan Keyes, for example. He was easily the best debater of the Republican presidential candidates; he was seemingly the only one able to respond to questions extemporaneously, rather than just reciting canned answers. Of course, he was also completely insane.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mitt Romney Forgets Which State He's Governing

For those of you waiting for me to complain about Republicans, wait no more. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney -- he of the strong white teeth and perfect hair-do -- just vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would expand access to the so-called morning after pill. I actually voted for this guy, because, at the time, I was tired of having to vote for uninspiring Democrats (see Al Gore) and because Romney didn't seem all that bad. Massachusetts was facing a major fiscal crisis with the downturn in the economy, tax revenues were way down, and having a reasonably competent business man as governor seemed like a good idea. He also made a good case for being pro-environment, a promise that he has actually done reasonably well in fulfilling. And, while I had no illusions that I would be likely to agree with a Mormon Republican on social issues, I figured he would be limited in his ability to do any real damage, partly because Massachusetts isn't Utah, and partly because a governor just doesn't do that much to set policy on major social issues.

That has proved basically true, as his completely ineffectual opposition to gay marriage demonstrated. However, in the past year, Romney has basically stopped governing Massachusetts in favor of running for president of a political party that likes to use Massachusetts as the poster child for all that's evil in the world (see Rick Santorum). So he decides to veto a bill that was passed by an overwhelming majority of the state legislators. It would be nice if he actually tried to look after the interests of Massachusetts, rather the interests of South Carolina's Republican primary voters.

I'll be keeping an eye for out for Romney's activities as he continues to operate as Shadow Governor.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bringing some much needed credibility to the anti-war movement

Jane Fonda is going to start a bus tour calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Can you imagine a more ill-conceived idea than this? Personally, I don't get the continued animosity toward Jane Fonda. As far as I can tell, a silly actress did a very stupid thing a long time ago. I don't know why so many people are still so burned up about it. But they are, and she's particularly reviled among military veterans. This almost sounds like a joke -- maybe something a Republican would dream up to make the left look bad.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Hey, I Got Noticed!

I don't know how it works, but somehow Technorati tracks blog links to Salon stories, and it picked up old Bellhorn at bat talking about that John Roberts story. Also mentions this "Compare and Contrast" post on a blog called Fagistan (good name). This guy also notices how unpleasant it is to have a Black Seat and Lady's Seat on the Supreme Court. Maybe he'll notice me now that I've linked to him; according to Technorati, he has 23 links while I have zero.

Do I sound desperate to be noticed? Ok. Because I am, you know.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Is John Roberts too white and male?

In this Salon article "Not Another White Man!" Farhad Manjoo argues that Bush should have nominated a woman or minority candidate to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, to keep the Supreme Court from becoming too homogenous. I agree with his point that, sometimes, symbolism is important, and that it's disturbing when an "entire branch of federal government [is] ruled by a body composed of only one woman and just one member of a racial minority." However, he's being short-sighted here, and a little naive about the political climate. Bush is likely to have the chance to nominate another justice, quite possibly the Chief Justice. And, as Manjoo acknowledges, Bush has an excellent record of appointing women and minorities to high office. But Manjoo thinks that, for his first justice appointment, "diversity" should have been Bush's first priority. But this makes no sense. Bush's base has not been busily taking over the federal executive and legislative branches over the past decade so they can have more women and minorities on the court (although I don't think they object to that). They want a solid conservative like Scalia and Thomas. That's their reward, and that's clearly Bush's first priority.

And speaking of Thomas, I was annoyed when the first President Bush -- that's George H.W. -- nominated Clarence Thomas, a black man, to replace Thurgood Marshall, the coincidentally black Supreme Court justice. Particularly laughable was Bush Sr.'s assertion at the nomination announcement that Thomas was "the most qualified person in the country." Wow. Since Thurgood Marshall was made the first black Supreme Court justice, presidents had had a chance to nominate new justices nine times, without once nominating a black one. Yet, when the only black judge retired, the person at the top of this supposed List of People Most Qualified to Become Supreme Court Justice was...another black guy! Imagine the odds!

The problem I had with this was not with the intent to ensure that the Court continued to represent (sort of) the American population, but that the implication seemed to be, this is YOUR slot, black people. And you just get the one. What I'd like to see is serious consideration of all types of people -- minority, female, Jewish, whatever -- every time, not just when one of those "special spots" opens up.

So I have no problem with Bush choosing not to select a woman and send the message that "this is the chick judge slot." Assuming that the next time around he seriously considers candidates who are not white and male. And given his apparent love of Alberto Gonzales and desire to play to the Hispanic vote, there's a good chance he will.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It's Our Anniversary

Not me and my fiance. Me and my dog, Holly. Two years ago I became a member of the quirky, and just plain weird, Club of Dog Owners.

Holly, who is a fun and cute West Highland terrier, is actually my mother's dog. My mom can no longer look after Holly, so, rather than give her away, I took her in. My fiance very kindly agreed to this arrangement, even though his idea of a proper dog is one that can leap into the air to catch Frisbees. If you throw a Frisbee at Holly, it'll just bounce off her nose while she gives you a puzzled look.

Anyway, it's been interesting to join this club, which is filled with an awful lot of people who seem to have too much time on their hands and an unhealthy obsession with their dogs. For example, check out this fun article by Emily Joffe in Slate on a weird new pet trend: canine freestyle, or dancing with your dog. Yes, people and their dogs, dancing together. According to the Canine Federation website:

Canine Freestyle is a choreographed performance with music, illustrating the training and joyful relationship of a dog and handler team. Watch for the dog to be moving to the beat of the music and look for the bond between the dog and handler.

Or take a recent Boston Globe society page story about a local foodie hot spot that now holds dog and owner cocktail events. They offer such dog treats as a dogmopolitan (lamb broth with beet juice) for $1.50. And people are actually going to these events. Me, I ain't paying $1.50 for a dog treat when Holly spends most of our walks truffling for dirt and wood chips and other mysterious detritus.

And yesterday, during the afternoon dog walk, I chatted with a woman is a dog massager. Yes, she goes to people's homes to massage their dogs, apparently to cleanse the dogs' lymphatic system and keep their joints limber.

I don't know, maybe city-dwelling dog owners are weirder than suburban or rural ones. It's a much bigger decision to have a dog in the city. It's not like you look outside and say, hey, we've got a big yard, let's buy a dog to put in it. No, for us city dwellers, owning a dog takes a bit more effort. Three times a day, my dog and I troop down the four flights of stairs in our building so that Holly can take care of her doggie business. And you can't just skip one of these walks when you're not in the mood. So, if you're going to make that kind of commitment to an animal, you have to be pretty darn committed. Or possibly, you just should be committed.

Monday, July 18, 2005

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

More evidence of how disturbingly obtuse Hollywood liberals can be. Apparently, the screenwriter for Spielberg's remake of War of the Worlds thinks that the invading aliens can be seen as representing the U.S. military, while the besieged citizens of earth represent Iraqis. (Tip: This story comes via Libertas, a conservative website and Mickey Kaus.)

I don't share Libertas' outrage at the insult to the U.S. miliary -- in fact, I'm tired of this idea that anything anti-U.S. military policy should be taken as a direct insult to actual individuals in the military. But I am disturbed by the continuing moral obtuseness demonstrated by outspoken Hollywood liberals. Here's a guy who apparently feels strongly about opposing forces of evil and oppression, so he casts his eye about the world and sees...Iran's Islamic fundamentalists working to acquire nuclear weapons...moves along to terrorist-training camps sending young men to blow up civilians on subways and buses...ok, no sign of recognition yet...and then alights on the U.S. military overthrowing a dictator, and then struggling -- however badly -- to establish some kind of free, democratic, stable state. And he decides, aha, here is the force of evil I've been seeking to destroy.

It's bizarre. And deeply sad.

So please, ignorant Hollywood liberals, do us a favor and just be quiet. Please. I beg of you. We just can't take any more of the stupidity, wilful ignorance and moral blindness.

No, I am not a Republican

I've been told recently that my blog entries suggest I'm turning Republican. Not true, and a news story today makes an excellent "exhibit number one" for why I'm not and won't become one. From the Associated Press:

A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

As soon as I saw this, I thought, hmm, bet that's a Republican. And indeed it was: Republican congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado (nope, never heard of him either). While not all Republicans are this offensive and stupid, people who are inclined to make these kind of dumb ass comments tend to identify as Republicans. And statements like these are what an awful lot of Republicans say behind closed doors. I've heard Republicans, when they think no "outsiders" are listening, refer to Muslims as towelheads. During the recent Rick Durbin flap, outraged Republicans writing on conservative blogs wittily dubbed the the senator "Turbin Durbin," revealing themselves to be not only racist but illiterate!

While obviously not all Republicans are like this, you can tell something about the differences between the two parties by the fact that belligerent and racist yahoos like this don't sign up to be Democrats. This is one major reason why I bang on so much about how liberals and Democrats need to toughen up on foreign policy. The fact is, as long as liberals refuse to regonize any legitimate use of American military power, there is no credible alternative for most Americans who do want a strong, forceful foreign policy. The only people offering them that are Republicans, who as we see when they inadvertantly reveal their true selves, are not going to uphold the kind of standards for decency and respect for other cultures (NOT for terrorists, for Muslims generally) that liberals rightly uphold.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The other shoe drops...

It only took four years, but the other shoe finally dropped on flagship WBUR talk show "The Connection." It's being cancelled as of August 5th, its timeslot filled by moving "On Point" from its evening slot. The show never fully recovered from the loss of its founders, Chris Lydon and his producer Mary McGrath, in my opinion. Dick Gordon was a perfectly competent host -- a wide-ranging intellect and fine interviewer -- but, myself, I never warmed to him. His style was a little too, well, Canadian: a bit aloof and milquetoast-y and, at times, vaguely smug. He represents the worst side of NPR hosts in this respect. I used to argue with friends who said Chris Lydon drove them crazy...that this is part of what makes him good. He's opinionated and passionate about things, such that he sometimes gets on your nerves. But he's not dull. I wonder if Chris is pleased that he was finally vindicated?

You talking about Boston? Boston, Massachusetts?

The outrage (real or manufactured) continues over Sen. Rick Santorum's column blaming liberal Bostonians for the Catholic Church pedophilia problem here. Apparently, Santorum said that the problem was partly caused by the city's "sexual license" and "sexual freedom," which nurtured an environment where sexual abuse would occur. Huh? Sexual license and sexual freedom? In Boston? Where, exactly? And, I mean, I'd like the senator to be specific. Give me addresses. And business hours, if he's got them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Supreme Court nomination

I know I'll be accused of rolling over for Bush, but I think that Democrats and liberals should just get used to the fact that Bush is going to nominate someone that he believes will be a reliable conservative voice on the court, and get over it. He is not going to pick a moderate, like Sandra Day O'Connor. He is not going to pick someone that is vague on Roe v Wade, because he really owes his Christian activist base and doesn't want to rile them up by picking someone like Alberto Gonzalez. I know, I could look stupid with this prediction, as Bush keeps talking about Gonzalez, but I don't think he'll pick him to replace O'Connor. Not as the first Supreme Court justice Bush has been able to nominate. Now, as a Rehnquist replacement...

But Bush isn't going to go all cautious or centrist on us, not with a Republican Senate -- why would he? And he hasn't shown any inclination to operate as a centrist to avoid media or public criticism. You have to give him credit for that: he doesn't hold back on pursuing bold policies for fear that some people won't like him.

So, look he's going to do, there's not a lot we can do to stop it, and frankly, I don't really know why we should. I don't understand interpreting the Senate's "advise and consent" role as giving the Senate power to stop the president nominating people to government posts or the judiciary who share his ideological perspective. I mean, the guy won the election; he gets to pick people who agree with him on Roe v Wade to sit on the Supreme Court, wouldn't you think? (And I won't even start with why I am not so sure it would be such a bad thing for him to pick an anti-Roe judge anyway....)

I admit, I am not basing this opinion on any knowledge of how the Senate historically has adopted its advisory role, or knowledge of what the founding fathers actually wrote about this. It just seems like common sense. Of course, the founding fathers originally had the loser of the presidential election becoming vice president, which totally defies common sense, so hey, what do I know?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

"No" to Oliver Stone

I agree with Mickey Kaus about some things occasionally -- including today's entry about the truly horrendous idea of having Oliver Stone direct a movie dealing with September 11th. Kaus rightly points out the likelihood that Stone will insert some lefty conspiracy-theory type element, given his history with the JFK movie. Kaus doesn't mention Stone's execrable stroking of fashionable communist dictator Fidel Castro in "Looking For Fidel." Check out this interview with Stone about his controversial documentary. Particularly despicable is his blase description of his interview with eight prisoners, arranged by Castro, where Stone asks them whether they're being treated well and seems satisfied that they are being honest in their reassurances of acceptable treatment. The interviewer, who is trying hard to get Stone to question what he experienced in Cuba, starts this exchange:

ALB: Did it strike you as interesting that at one point in the scene with the prisoners, Castro turned to the prisoners' defense lawyers, who just happened to be there, and he says, "I urge you to do your best to reduce the sentences"?

OS: I love that. I thought that was hilarious. Those guys just popped up.

ALB: Is there a show-trial element here?

OS: Yeah. I thought that was funny, I did--the prosecutor and Fidel admonishing them, to make sure they worked hard. There was that paternalism. I mean "father knows best," as opposed to totalitarianism. It's paternalism, that's what I meant. It's a Latin thing.

Replace "Castro" with, say, "Ceaucescu" and you can see how disgusting -- rather than funny -- this scene is.

Of course, Stone shares this inexcusable mythologizing of the Cuban revolution with many others in Hollywood. As a counter to the dreamy, picturesque portrait of Che Guevara painted by "The Motorcycle Diaries," a movie which was widely hailed in Hollywood, the New Republic has a fascinating article on Che ($$$), describing how he, not Castro, was the Stalinist of the Cuban revolution. Probably old news to people who know about this stuff, but I know little about Che, other than that he took a good picture and has become a popular revolutionary symbol.

I do remember the Hollywood folks swooning over "The Motorcycle Diaries" at the Academy Awards, undoubtedly because they loved the revolutionary spirit of Che Guevara -- who, it appears, would have had each and every one of these rich, pampered stars summarily executed or, if they were lucky, sent to concentration camps. This is one reason why I am so intolerant of celebrities lecturing the public about politics: Hollywood seems to be this little bubble which has no contact with the real world and yet encourages its residents to expound on how to solve the world's problems.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London bombing

There's not much I can say about the London bombing other than the obvious: that it's horrible, and I express my solidarity with the English, as they expressed theirs with the U.S. on September 11th. There may be a few who will blame Bush and Blair for this attack, but I think that, for most, it's a reminder of the barbaric ideology that we are fighting against. It's also a reminder of how important it is not to indulge in lazy or self-indulgent characterizations of these Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as "freedom fighters" or advocates for some reasonable political cause. I believe that al-Qaeda has miscalculated yet again if they think the response to this incident will be a retreat from Iraq or from the broader fight against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

London in 2012

Quite a week for Tony Blair. First the G8, now London has been selected as the 2012 host of the Summer Olympics or, as I like to call them, porn for women. (Oops, I hope my English fiance isn't reading this.) My only question is, does it make sense to hold the Summer Olympics in a country that doesn't really have a summer? At least not as most of us understand it. You know, with sunshine and heat and all.

Friday, July 01, 2005

How Not to Fight World Poverty

Live8 (LiveEight?) takes place tomorrow, and world leaders are gearing up for the G8 summit, so there's lots of discussion about how to end the terrible poverty that has gripped much of Africa for so long. Well, honestly, I don't know, but I do feel pretty certain that many of the simplistic solutions bandied about by idealistic activists are not the answer. You know, the sort of, for just the price of a daily cup of Starbucks coffee, we could feed someone in Africa. Or, for a fraction of what we spend on the military, we could eradicate world poverty. These are the sorts of conscience-tugging lines that impress you when you're young, but you really should know better once you're past 30.

A really good, and frankly depressing, article in the New Republic offers a brief analysis of some of the current anti-poverty campaigns. Particularly interesting is this assessment of the impact of LiveAid: has only to consider Geldof's previous endeavor, Live Aid, which raised $100 million for relief of the Ethiopian famine in 1985. It's an open question whether Live Aid did more harm or good. As David Rieff explains in the British magazine Prospect, organizations involved in delivering relief became complicit in the Ethiopian government's Stalinist program of forced agricultural collectivization and relocation, which helped create the disaster. Today, Ethiopia is significantly poorer than it was 20 years ago, and, as David Plotz explained in this 2003 dispatch, perpetually dependent on charity. This is, sadly, the story of aid to sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. While the developed world has contributed more than $500 billion over the last 40 years, Africans have continued to fall farther behind.

What a bummer. I loved LiveAid (still think U2 was the best thing about it), and was into the whole idea.

Of course, talking about this stuff is what tends to get me labelled as a "conservative" by my old friends...but it's not "conservative" to want to be effective at solving problems. Anyway, ironically, this article says that the Bush Administration's Millennium Challenge Account is a really good idea, but that it has been woefully underfunded and inept at spending what money it does have.

Christopher Hitchens and I agree

Perhaps I was a little rash in saying that I "used to like" Hitchens. Mostly I'm just frustrated with him because I hold him to a higher standard of moral and intellectual clarity, based on his willingness to call out rigid old lefties like Noam Chomsky or Katha Pollitt. But here is Hitchens explaining why it makes no sense to call Blair a poodle:

The commonest liberal and Tory jeer against Tony Blair—that he is George Bush's "poodle"—is self-evidently false. Far from being a ditto to Washington, it was Blair who leaned on Clinton and Albright to intervene in the Balkans, putting an end to the long and disgusting Tory appeasement of Slobodan Milosevic. Without asking for any American approval, Blair also decided to stand by Britain's treaty with Sierra Leone and to send troops to put down the barbaric invasion of the hand-loppers and diamond-dealers, based in Charles Taylor's Liberia, who were among other things the regional allies of al-Qaida. In 1999, when Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas, Blair made a speech in Chicago pointing out that Saddam Hussein's defiance of international law made a future confrontation with him inevitable. After Sept. 11, 2001, Blair told Bush that he would send ground troops to Afghanistan even if the United States would not.

So there.

Tony Blair, Poodle?

Is there any more boring and banal idea than the notion that Tony Blair is George Bush's poodle? So many Iraq war opponents enjoy repeating this dumb idea, which seems to strike them as witty and insightful. I think it actually reflects an absolute utter incomprehension that someone might look at the same facts and draw a different conclusion. I'll admit, I'm biased, as Blair's speech immediately following the September 11 attacks made a huge impression, and I'll always feel grateful to him for it. He demonstrated that he immediately and fully "got it," that this was not justified blowback for bad US policies or a cry for help from the oppressed, but rather a clear statement from an anti-liberal, anti-secular, and anti-democratic political movement. And, I might add, Blair gave this inspiring speech before Bush had managed to gather himself together (although Bush recovered with his excellent speech before Congress later that week).

It seems obvious to me that Blair really believes in the fight against Islamo-fascism (to use Christopher Hitchens' term). Now, whether he has been given sufficient reward from the Bush Administration for his support is unclear, but the idea that he went along with it all as Bush's lapdog is absurd. It should have been clear to anyone who paid attention to his response to September 11 that he was committing himself fully to the fight against the war on the West by Islamic fundamentalists.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I used to really like Christopher Hitchens

Is Christopher Hitchens actually stupid or he is just faking it?

Shortly after September 11th, I became enamored of Hitchens, as he took it as his calling to fight the far left's reflexively anti-American response to the attack itself and the Bush Administration's response. He notably took up this cause through his "Contrarian" column for the Nation, until he quit because, as he memorably put it, "[The Nation] had become an echo chamber for those who were more afraid of John Ashcroft than Osama Bin Laden." An accusation, by the way, with which I agree. And, as that quote shows, when he's good, Hitchens has the ability to cut to a central point concisely, elegantly, and entertainingly. I even cornered the poor guy on an airplane going from D.C. to Boston, blabbering about how much I liked his writing and his public opposition to the Nation's mindlessly anti-war position.

But that was then. The Afghanistan war was a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned, but Iraq really isn't, even though I did (and mostly still do) support it. But given how many things have gone wrong, even strong supporters of the war would have to look at aspects of how it's been carried out and question the Bush Administration's policies. But for some reason, not Hitchens, and it's been disappointing to see someone that smart debase his intellect by acting as though the discussion now is still as simple as it was immediately after September 11th. His on-going theme is that critics of the Iraq war are exactly the same as the Nation's -- nevermind that Iraq war critics (as opposed to war opponents) now include the likes of Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria and Andrew Sullivan.

Hitchens has picked a single theme for all discussions of the post-September 11th war on terror and he's holding onto it like a dog with a bone. No matter what the issue under discussion -- sufficient troop levels, Abu Ghraib -- he's got his theme and he'll force the facts into it. Unfortunately, he's also smart enough to realize that sometimes that just doesn't work -- explain again how the fight against Islamo-fascism is helped by publicly exposed prisoner torture by US interrogators? -- so he focuses with a laser-like intensity on a particular aspect of the issue which will still support his pre-existing theme. Of course, since most issues have some level of complexity -- for example, using torture is bad, but the US is clearly not the equivalent of the Nazis or Saddam Hussein -- this will work.

His latest work of pedantry? An attack on "anti-war" types (his description) who accuse the Republican architects and supporters of the Iraq war of hypocrisy for not sending their sons to Iraq. Hitchens argues that people don't "send" their sons to war; their children are adults who make these decisions for themselves. Well, yeah, but he's off on a tangent while ignoring the central point. While it's obviously true that parents can't force their children to enlist, parents do work hard to influence what choices their children make after high school. Particularly the upper classes, which is where the Republican politicians who create and support the war primarily reside. How many of their kids ended up at college, do you suppose? How many ended up at prestigious colleges? I'll bet most. Unless he's just impossibly stupid, Hitchens knows darn well that these parents would have used as much influence as possible to make sure their kids ended up at college -- which, by definition, also means they were not urging their kids to serve their country by enlisting. But so what? We've got a volunteer military, so who cares? It only matters because Republicans are constantly grandstanding on the issue of the military, making sure they always praise military service as the highest and greatest good, and then using this exaltation of US soldiers to deflect criticism of their actual record on the war. So it's reasonable to see if their private actions support their self promotion as the party that reveres the military, and one way to figure this out is to see whether they've urged their children to join up. And frankly, for most of them, their private actions don't support their public statements. But Hitchens surely realizes that, right? It just doesn't fit his pre-determined message.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


First, I have to admit: I didn't actually watch the speech. I spent the evening at the local pub's trivia quiz and didn't get home until after 9:00. And we didn't even win (why don't we know where Boutros-Boutros Ghali is from and who the heck is Thomas Cromwell...).

I did read the the transcript, so am commenting on that -- and assuming Bush didn't stray from the script for some of his famous extemporaneous speech-making. Hee hee, just a little humor to break things up.

Anyway, not too surprisingly, the parts I liked best were the sections where he got a little specific about the next steps for establishing security and easing the responsiblilty for security from US to Iraqi troops.

I particularly liked his argument against timelines. I agree with it already, but I thought it was a good example of making an argument concretely and concisely, like you actually want to engage your audience, rather than talk at them with vague but high-flying rhetoric.

Otherwise, it seemed not very inspired, but I am missing out on the actual delivery. However, I'm not sure he was trying to convince the likes of me. On NPR yesterday, someone commented that a summer evening speech might not attract too many viewers, except for the true believers. Which suggests that perhaps Bush was only trying to buck up his base, not convince the wider public. And based on what some right-wing bloggers are saying, the speech may have done the trick. This blog entry from PoliPundit (as linked through Salon's Daou Report) was a good example of the kind of content-free twaddle that gets high marks among many in the Republican base. These folks may well have been thrilled by the speech, and that may mean it's achieved the Administration's goal.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tonight's speech, continued

What is really needed is an honest assessment by the President of where we are and a thoughtful, nuanced but well-argued case for staying the course. Unfortunately, I have no faith that Bush can do this. This Administration is simply allergic to admitting it's not all knowing and all powerful. And it seems to truly believe that the best way to assuage the public's fears is to pat us all the head and say, tut tut now, don't you worry your little heads about these grown-up matters, we'll take care of everything. Just go back to shopping or whatever it is you little people do. Daddy and Uncle Dick will take care of everything.

I'm tired of being talked down to by this Administation and frustrated at their inability to properly defend their own foreign policy. I don't think you'd see so much anxiety about Iraq if the Administration had been more upfront about what to expect. You know that cliche about how to perform at work: underpromise and overperform? The Administration has continued to overpromise and underperform (based on the expectations set by their promises) on Iraq, so no wonder people are frustrated.

What we really need from the President is strength, but strength supported and tempered by an honest evaluation of where we are and how difficult the path ahead may be. If we get that, though, it'll be a first. I predict more platitudes ("the insurgents hate freedom"), banalities ("I think about Iraq every day"), and unsupported assurances that everything will be all right.

But we'll see...maybe after this rant, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Tonight's speech

Important speech tonight for Bush, as he tries to ease fears about how things are going in Iraq and convince the public that we need to keep our troops there. Unfortunately, the difficulties in Iraq -- the fact that the insurgency continues apace in spite of the January elections, efforts by newly-trained Iraqi forces to help quell the insurgency, and Dick Cheney's insulting predictions -- is leading some politicians to grandstand on Iraq. Calling to remove US troops at this point is both stupid and cowardly, and I wish Democrats would stop suggesting it. And the Republican "freedom fries" guy, who first mindlessly supported the war because the president said so, and who now mindlessly calls to abandon Iraq before we're done with our responsibilities there. For a better analysis than I can offer of the problems that would likely ensue if we left too soon, see here (hint: think Lebanon).

Wasting Time, Sitting Still

Check out this Flash Mind Reader (tip from Andrew Sullivan). It worked for me three times. Why, why, why?! Anyone smarter than me care to figure it out? I did notice a few interesting features, but won't mention them so as not to influence anyone trying it out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Good news from today's Supreme Court decision

No Ten Commandments in Courthouses

Single displays of the Ten Commandments have no place on courthouse property. Unlike, say, the frieze of the ten commandments found in the Supreme Court building itself -- along with depictions of Hammurabi and Confucius. That display clearly is meant to depict the history of the law and legal systems. What baffles me is why Christian activists are so hot to put the ten commandments up in courthouses anyway. Perhaps I'll start a campaign to tack up the U.S. constitution in churches across the country...

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