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This is an Aaron Hawkins fan site.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
I was hoping to wear shorts today and get some sunlight on these pale legs, but the weather has gone from sunny to dark skies and thunder. You did know the phrase "sun breaks" originated in the Pacific Northwest, right?
•Maybe they should've stuck to comedy
James at A Skeptical is skeptical about Penn and Teller when it comes to environmentalism. He is now on Part 6 of a series about how the duo misunderstands or misinterprets the science behind environmentalism in their reportage.
As I said in the beginning, there are points that I absolutely agree with. I agree that the environmental movement (as opposed to environmental science) is simply chocked full of nuts. I agree that the environmental movement carries with it other agendas (such as antiglobalaztion). I agree that they are sadly misinformed about environmental science. I agree that the last thing a lot of environmental groups want to do is bring science to the table, because it will upset their carefully constructed propagandize house of cards.
Unfortunately, I can say the same thing about Penn & Teller.
One of the issues my relationships with radical associates founder on is the environmentalist movement's extremists -- the ecoterrorists. I say a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. They say a person burning vehicles or bombing a building to teach car sellers or ski lodge owners a lesson is not a terrorist. Seems to me that the intent behind the act is the key. If it is meant to frighten people to achieve a political goal then the act is terrorism.
•Back to the future
Economist and general brain about town Brad DeLong has an interesting entry that harkens back to the 'beginning of history' phenomenon we discussed weeks ago.
Jim Henley explains how Yasser Arafat and company permanently and totally lost their battle for the hearts and minds of him, me, and I would bet most Americans in the summer of 1972. Some of my schoolmates were on the airplanes flown to Jordan and blown up in 1970, so Palestinian terrorism seemed very real as we watched the Munich Olympics Massacre on TV... Unqualified Offerings: ...I was twelve years old at the time of the Munich Olympics and I saw the whole, awful thing, and the experience never left me.
My strongest impressions in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were developed from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s when a solution looked possible. I wonder when younger people developed what may become a solid stance on the issue? Matthew? Julian? Jesse?
•Newt does his duty
Digby is back! (From posing for one of those California nude protest pics, perhaps?) He says Newt Gringrich can't have lost much status by blowing up at Colin Powell. Instead, Gingrich was fulfilling his destiny.
The Republicans understand propaganda and Newtie understands it better than anyone. He fired off a salvo at the behest of the radical imperialists in the administration knowing full well that he would be severely criticized by the Colin Powell faction. It isn't the first time that he has taken a bullet purely for the purpose of injecting a new meme into the discourse. As that great DC journalist Cokie Roberts once said, "It doesn't matter if it's true or not, it's out there."
Digby's argument is convincing to me. However, I do wonder why Gingrich, the man who wanted to be president if he could find a wife pretty enough to be first lady, hasn't taken his ball and gone home. Does he really owe the Bushites anything? Is seeing his reactionary vision of the world come closer to fruition enough to make up for being dissed?
•Who you gon' call, now?
What can an immigrant wife trapped in a marriage to a bigot who abuses her do? Silver Rights considers the problem.
The friends of John Lott
Part III: Abigail Thernstrom and the Florida elections
During the infamous 2000 elections John Lott colluded with Abigail Thernstrom, a U.S. Civil Rights Commission member in misrepresenting data from the Florida polls. The official report of the committee, which found much awry with the way the elections were conducted and ballots counted, can be read on its site. The commission concluded the errors mainly impacted African-American voters.
Lott signed on to analyze the data to determine whether discrimination against African-American voters had occurred. Contrary to the commission, he concluded none had. The outcome fit in with a pattern of Lott finding fault with black Americans, but no discrimination against them that is clear in other 'research' he has done. As Atrios explains, Lott's methodology was so sloppy as to leave little doubt about his motives. He seems to have known his results before he began his task.
Lott's work for the election commission was, to put it bluntly, the most intellectually dishonest piece of work I have ever seen. I started to do a critique of it, but then noticed that it had already been done by others on the commission (Dr. Lichtman). His approaches were laughable, designed to obtain the answer he wanted. In addition to the statistical analysis that he performed, his writeup of it was even more dishonest - picking and choosing various results from various specifications. Quite literally, it was an obvious fraud.
Thernstrom and Lott cooked up a strange stew of disinformation.
Dr. Allan J. Lichtman performed professional analyses of the election data and of Lott's error-filled report. He explained the purpose of his investigation.
I have been asked by the United States Commission on Civil Rights to consider whether the rejection of ballots as invalid for the 2000 presidential election in Florida had a disparate impact on the votes cast by African-Americans. The analysis will consider all unrecorded ballots as well as the subsets of undervotes (ballots not recorded for the lack of a recognized vote) and overvotes (ballots not recorded for including more than one recognized vote). The focus of analysis will be on whether African-Americans are more likely than other voters to have had their ballots invalidated, although some consideration will be given to reforms of the electoral process in Florida and elsewhere.
Dr. Lichtman reviewed data from both the Commission and from Lott's 'study.' In regard to the three most pertinent counties, he made the following findings:
As demonstrated by Charts 5, 6, and 7, the results of extreme case analysis for 90%+ black and non-black precincts confirm the findings of ecological regression analysis. For Duval County, as demonstrated by Chart 5, in precincts that were 90 percent or more black in their voter registration the overall rate of rejection was 22.1 percent, compared to a rate of 5.8 percent for precincts that were 90 percent or more non-black in their voter registration. For Miami-Dade County, as demonstrated by Chart 6, the overall rate of rejection for votes cast by blacks was an estimated 9.1 percent, compared to a rate of 3.2 percent for votes cast by non-blacks. As reflected in Chart 7, in Palm Beach County the overall rejection rate for votes cast by blacks was an estimated 16.1 percent compared to 6.2 percent in the non-black precincts.
The rest of Dr. Lichtman's expert analysis is similar. He found definite evidence of discrimination against black voters that could not be explained away by other factors, such as levels of education. Dr. Lichtman also concluded that mechanical differences in voting apparatuses likely played a role in the disenfranchisement since predominantly black precincts were most likely to have older, less reliable voting machines. The question of why that is true in itself suggests disparate impact, possibly intentional.
Meanwhile, Thernstrom and Lott produced a minority report claiming no discrimination against blacks occurred, except perhaps against black Republicans.
As described by columnist Mike Hersh in "Racism as Republican Electoral Strategy," Thernstrom's conduct during the commisssion's examination of the Florida elections was possibly based on a desire to hide discrimination against black voters by the state's Republican leadership.
Apparently Abigail Thernstrom, a GOP member of the commission, leaked the preliminary report in order to dull its impact. She appeared in the media lambasting and misrepresenting the Commission and its findings.
For example, Thernstrom appeared on the ABC's "Nightline" program, extremely well prepared to accuse her colleagues of lying and bias, while nitpicking minute details. She unconvincingly, angrily denied she'd even read the report, much less leaked it.
Such behavior obviously calls her professionalism into question.
It appears Thernstrom and Lott have quite a lot in common.
She also has a dubious history in regard to race. Like many neo-conservatives, Thernstrom claims white racism is a thing of the past. The continuing effects of state-supported and 'traditional' racism? They don't exist. According to her, the biggest problem of race in America is affirmative action because some whites might be harmed by it.
A fellow traveler, John Rosenberg at Discriminations, a blog that seems to exist to promote bigotry, echoes her position that any potential harm to whites is what matters when considering affirmative action policies.
William Bowen and Derek Bok, in their book "The Shape of the River," look at the nationwide statistics concerning admissions to selective universities. They determined that even if all selective universities used a race-blind admissions system, the probability of being admitted for a white student would go only from 25 percent to 26.2 percent.
. . .The question of whether racial preferences hurt a white student's chances of acceptance is not at all the same as asking whether racial preferences are racial discrimination, and the degree of impact on a white's students chances is not the measure of how much discrimination is involved.
Second, before taking a closer look at the Bowen/Bok argument that preferences have a trivial impact on a white student's chances, I should caution you against assuming that their numbers are correct. Two careful students of this issue, Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, argue convincingly that they are not in a long review essay in the June 1999 UCLA Law Review.
It is always interesting to me how some white people can make people of color disappear like a magician doing a hand trick with a scarf.
After searching in vain for anything at Discriminations that does not fit such an interpretation, I suspect Rosenberg supports the findings of 'scientific' racists, that nonwhites, blacks particularly, are genetically inferior. Thernstrom has stopped short of making such an assertion, but such beliefs would explain her elimination of the aspirations of people of color as worthy of consideration in her work.
I could more exhaustively list friends of John Lott. However, I believe this entry, along with Part I and Part II, provides ample evidence that John, Lott, Jr. is part of a Right Wing movement determined to reshape America in anti-democratic ways.
Monday, April 28, 2003
•The ways of white folks
Jesse is on a roll over at Pandagon now that those pesky papers and exams are out of the way. One of the subjects he has in his sights is the various ways some white folks exercise white privilege in regard to people of color, sometimes even as they claim to be seeking enlightenment.
As a multiracial/black person, I run into three schools of thought - the conservative, "color-blind" mantra, which is essentially that I should shut up about race and stop drawing attention to myself. The liberal mantra is twofold - either a sympathy with the plight and a recognition that it can never be truly "understood" except by those who've actually gone through with it, and then Bean's idea (paraphrased):
I want to be a better human being, and since you are (insert opressed group), I'm going to dump it all at your feet and ask you to be responsible for my enlightenment while I pepper you with questions, demand that you explain all things (relating to the opression) to me, and then when I fail to achieve the enlightenment I want, I can blame you for not enlightening me properly.
Exactly! Somehow, most of time, the same old hierarchy of white over nonwhite manages to get asserted over and over again, though I've been assured time and again racism ended ages ago.
I would add another category for conservative whites and the occasional liberal. Let's call it the 'You think what I want you to think or else' position. I most often run into it with conservatives, but liberals sometimes pull the same rabbit out of their hats. The argument is basically that to be acceptable in respectable (i.e., white company) a person of color must be counseled by a Great White Father or mother who helps her keep her unacceptable colored ways in check.
Got a mind of your own, CP? Then expect to be dismissed as either irrelevant or as a radical who wants to (gasp!) destroy America and therefore should be destroyed herself. The Great White Father also assures you he is trying to run your life for your own good and he is not a racist.
•Abortion and fetal homicide
Plucky Punk, who I will be adding to the blogroll right after I finish this entry, dares probe the messy business of why murdering a viable fetus by killing its mother is not equivalent to abortion. I know most of us prefer not to think about something as ugly as the Scott Peterson case, but we're going to anyway.
Is abortion morally wrong? What makes the choice of, say, a teenage girl with her life ahead of her, to have an abortion any different from the the "choice" Scott Peterson made when he killed his wife and unborn child? To me the answer is obvious. To compare the free choice of one person with the robbing of one expectant mother of the choice to have a child is disgusting to me. I'm going to attempt to spell out why to those who find the answer a little less clear.
She then goes on to explain her reason for saying two homicide charges are justified.
So why did Scott Peterson kill two people and not just one? Because Laci Peterson made a choice. She chose to give birth, and that's as sacred as the choice not to give birth. And both choices should be equally as respected. The fact that there are men out there who want to force either choice on any woman is sickening to me.
In legal terms, Plucky is saying Ms. Peterson had an expectation interest in having a child. It would be a reasonable expectation interest once the fetus became viable.
You may have noticed I am focusing mainly on the viability issue. That is because I believe the U.S. Supreme Court was right to grant the state a limited interest in the birth of a fetus once it becomes viable. Arguing for murder charges in regard to non-viable fetuses is more difficult because the younger the fetus the less likely it would ever become a person.
•Who you gon' call?
We like to believe that if or when we call the police, they will at least give us an honest listen. After all, one would not be hitting those three numbers unless the distress was real and serious, right? Think again. Too often, policemen have problems with violence, especially the domestic kind, themselves.
•Moonie man 'solves' gaiety
Sen. Rick Santorum's debacle has conservatives thinking about what to do about homosexuals. Their usual dodge "We hate homosexual acts, not homosexual people" isn't holding up to scrutiny. Seems it is difficult to separate the two. Atrios' informants tell us the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has already come up with a solution to the problem of the homosexual penis.
Tell them that if it really becomes a problem to cut it off, barbecue it, put it in a shoe box and send it to me.
Well, I said these topics were taboo.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
People are saying
•WHO reticent about SARS
WHO is saying people are overreacting to SARS, which appears to be an epidemic in the making. About 300 people, mainly in Asia, are known to have died from SARS so far. The international health monitor acknowledges that, but paints a brighter picture.
Asked on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme whether Sars was the "first global epidemic of the 21st Century", the WHO director-general [Gro Harlem Brundtland] replied: "Yes, this is correct. It will historically be seen that way."
She said the world still had a "window of opportunity to avoid the virus becoming endemic, such as flu and HIV... to contain it - lessen it where it is, and stop it spreading".
One hundred and sixty one new cases have been reported, mainly in China.
I can't help but wonder if WHO is trying to avoid inciting panic by saying the disease is still containable.
Meanwhile, the blogger at All That Jazz has come up with another meaning for the acronym SARS.
. . .SARS reminds us that we are a globally mixing community and what happens in one corner influences us all. If only we would apply the same sentiment to more than just infectious disease.
The real sickness sweeping through mankind -- Selfish Arrogant Retribution Syndrome.
And, it is deeper than any of our physical illnesses.
•A tall, skinny cappuccino for John Paul
Living in Latteland, I'm always interested in news about the beatific bean. At least a quarter of the blog entries you read here are being posted via WiFI from one Starbucks location or another. I don't know whether there is a Starbucks in the Vatican yet, but the Pope is hip to the vibe.
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul (news - web sites) has beatified a 17th-century friar credited with halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process discovering the frothy coffee drink cappuccino.
. . .History books also show that with a vast Ottoman Turk army beating a path to Vienna in 1683, d'Aviano was sent by the then-pope to unite the outnumbered Christian troops, spurring them to victory.
As the Turks fled, legend has it they left behind sacks of coffee which the Christians found too bitter, so they sweetened it with honey and milk.
Cappuccinco was named after d'Aviano's order, the Capuchins.
You may have noticed there is a wealth of good bloggers from the Pacific Northwest, including Barry of Alas, A Blog, Emma of The Oregon Blog, Dave Niewert of Orcinus and Fred at Rantavation. Maybe that's caused by all the caffeine in the air.
•Georgia pols reject Confederate battle flag
Georgia neo-Confederates are unhappy. Well, neo-Confederates are chronically offended, but this time they have a new excuse. The return to the 1956 state flag, which was designed to show opposition to racial integration, they elected a governor to achieve will not occur. Instead, a compromise flag that does not feature the stars and bars will fly over Georgia. Of equal importance, there is no escape clause for Gov. Sonny Perdue. Neo-Confederates will not get a chance to vote the 1956 flag back to life as he promised them.
With the bill that passed not long before midnight Friday night, lawmakers also removed any chance that the Confederate battle emblem will be restored to the state banner.
Black legislators in particular called the Confederate cross a symbol of oppression. If the measure is approved by Governor Perdue, Georgia voters will choose next March between the temporary flag and the current flag.
But there will be no vote on the old state flag and its Confederate battle cross.
The current Georgia flag was also intended as a compromise between the neo-Confederates and progressives.
The Confederate battle flag has been one of the most divisive issues in Dixie for several years now as Southerners struggle to find the rightful place for a painful piece of history . . . The state flags of Georgia and Mississippi are the last two featuring the controversial Rebel cross. The design of the new Georgia flag is a compromise that is intended to placate civil rights groups without alienating Southern heritage buffs bent on preserving the most enduring symbol of the Confederacy.
Perdue is more wiggly than a can of worms, but I don't believe he is going to be able to wiggle out of this.
•Some weighty topics
It has happened again. A man has gone postal and tried to kill his wife and himself with their children looking on. This time, the fellow, who injured his wife and killed himself was the police chief of Tacoma, Washington.
Weight is always a controversial issue, especially when it comes to women. Read two entries about the topic at Silver Rights. One was written in response to a claim SR does not understand the fat liberation movement.
Speaking of weight, have you ever wondered what the lyrics to the song "The Weight" mean? Find out here.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
My opinion: No jail time for Winnie Mandela
The New York Times has the latest developmentin the travails of Winnie Mandela.
JOHANNESBURG, April 25 — Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, was sentenced today to four years in prison on dozens of counts of theft and fraud.
On Thursday, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, one of the most powerful leaders in the fight against apartheid, was convicted for her part in a scheme to steal more than $100,000 from false bank loans and funeral policies.
Many of the loans had been granted to poor people, who would not have qualified without signed letters from Ms. Madikizela-Mandela. In sentencing today, however, the judge, Peet Johnson, made clear that she also profited from the deals.
Ms. Mandela has long been one of my heroines. Married to Nelson Mandela when barely out of her teens, she rarely lived with him during his few years of comparative freedom, when he was being sought by the murderous apartheid era police. During his 27 years of punishment, she became the focus of much of the brutality of the South African apartheid government. She was arrested too many times to keep track of and inprisoned for varying periods under the state's terrorism provisions. In the 1970s, Ms. Mandela and her two small daughters were vanished to a rural area with little more than the clothes on their backs. When they managed to build a makeshift house, it was burned down. Still she managed to create a life for her family there.
Nor were Ms. Mandela's tormentors always "the Boers," as she would say. Some leaders of the anti-apartheid movement considered her as not knowing a woman's place and plotted her downfall. The legalization of the ANC did not end her troubles. She barely escaped being sent to prison for a kidnapping and murder carried out by associates in 1991.
Ms. Mandela's life has been a continuing series of attempted degradations and stunning recoveries. She is still proud and beautiful at 66. We are now told Ms. Mandela should be treated like a common criminal, not the Mother of the Nation. I say, "No." She has already more than paid her dues, spending more time behind bars than rapists and murderers when she had committed no crimes whatsover.
Meanwhile, most of the people responsible for the enormous suffering of the South African citizenry escaped any meaningful justice. To this day, they still meet at their all-white clubs to complain about the 'Communists' who now rule South Africa, while calling the servers "boy" and "kaffir."
A backer of Ms. Mandela puts her situation in perspective.
"If you understand her history and her background and what she went through, and the impact of the (anti-apartheid) struggle on her, you might understand some of things she ended up doing. It was not because she wanted to, but the circumstances at the time. It was for her survival," one supporter told allAfrica.com.
It is well known that trauma impairs people's reasoning skills and impacts their personalities. A single incidence of trauma, such as an assault or rape, or even witnessing stressful events, can result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ms. Mandela's life as been a secession of traumatic events.
My views are not shared by all. McGehee of Blogosferics, a far Right blogger who wonders why he lost his job in mainstream journalism if I remember correctly, suspects Ms. Mandela of witchcraft.
Then there was that witch cult in Africa fairly recently -- was it Winnie Mandela? -- where a special kind of shirt was supposed to make people invulnerable to bullets.
Let's hope the Washington Times doesn't realize he is available.
Another reactionary blogger takes it farther, echoing lies from the supporters of apartheid.
Winnie Mandela as a Human Shield in Iraq?
Would this be the same Winnie Mandela, former wife of Nelson "How to be a Good Communist
” Mandela, who had three teenagers tortured to death?
Mike Hanson of The Razor's Edge is one dull blade.
It is against a similar background of resentment apartheid ever ended that Ms. Mandela's appeal will be heard. Most of the judicial officials in South Africa are left over from the apartheid era. Some see nothing wrong with having served those governments. I hope someone will have the spine and moral clarity required to reduce the sentence if not overturn the verdict. However, I have little faith in the justice system in South Africa.
As the world churns
Capazzola becomes richer
Jim Capazzola of The Rittenhouse Review has cancelled his subscription. Yes, blogophiles, he has finally had it with The New Republic. After years of watching what was once a grand magazine decline, Jim is free to spend that bling bling at WaWa instead. The last straw for him was the TNR's full fanged attack on David Brock's book Blinded by the Right. The same folks who helped elevate Brock as a hatchet man for conservatives went for his jugular.
Whether he lied in his latest book is, in some ways, beside the point: It is a toxic smear job of nearly everyone who wandered into Brock's careerist orbit in the '90s -- sources, employers, colleagues, friends.
Jim, who has apparently picked up some street skills since moving to Philadelphia, slugs'em hard.
You have it wrong, Messrs. Peretz and Beinart: By printing this tripe, this inexplicable display of animosity toward Brock, you have joined the liars, smearers, and disreputable hacks who cannot muster the courage -- or facts -- to refute any meaningful element of Brock's book.
It is striking how Brock went from being their favorite caudillo to vampire bait when he came to his senses. Conservatives can be very strange.
Niewert fisks Limbaugh
Dave Niewert at Orcinus explains why Rush Limbaugh's mischaracterization of presidential candidate Richard Gephardt as supporting fascism is ludicrous.
Utterly lacking are the genuinely definitive aspects of fascism: its populism, particularly its claim to represent the "true character" of the respective national identities among which it arises; and its mythic core of national rebirth -- not to mention its corporatist component, its anti-liberalism, its glorification of violence and its contempt for weakness.
I have thought since the 2000 election that the current regime has some fascist aspects to it. That became extremely clear before and during the invasion of Iraq. The warmongering was nothing if not a claim to represent the true character of America as the ugly American, as if anti-imperialism has no place in the American psyche. The regime is now wallowing in a populism born of a "war" that was like a boxing match between middleweight champ Roy Jones, Jr., and scientist Steven Hawking. (Scroll down to 'The other "Incredible Victory."')
Niewert also sees fascist aspects to the conservative agenda.
One of lessons I've gleaned from carefully observing the behavior of the American right over the years is that the best indicator of its own real agenda can be found in the very things of which it accuses the left. (Remember how during the Florida fiasco it regularly accused Al Gore of attempting to steal the election through court fiat?) When it accuses liberals of "fascism," it almost always is done so in an effort to obscure its own fascist proclivities -- and it reminds the rest of us just whose footsoldiers are in reality merrily goosestepping down the national garden path.
Too often liberals react in a Pavlovian way when the Right hurls accusations at us. Some of us rush to prove we are not whatever false name we've been called. I believe that partly explains the broad-based capitulation to supporting the war on Iraq once it was a fait accompli. From thinkers like Niewert we can learn to temper that impulse. It is not necessary to disprove an accusation if one knows that it was never true in the first place.
Dean: Ain't nuthin' but a party
Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest tells us that today is house parties for presidential candidate Howard Dean day. These events are meant to be kick-offs for other forms of rallying for the candidate. He notes that Dean has been an advocate of gay rights. Revealing at a time when a major Republican politician has confused homosexuality with incest. Take that Log Cabin Republicans.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is National House Party Day for Howard Dean, starting several days of events to, as the campaign puts it, "Celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of Governor Dean signing the Vermont Civil Union Law and his stand as a Democratic Presidential candidate for equal rights". House parties are local events in people's houses to bring together supporters and raise funds for the campaign. There are also larger (fundraising) events in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York during the week. I know that in San Francisco there is a "Greet Dean" rally outside before that event, Tuesday. That's at 6pm in front of the Ferry Building.
You can still make it to one of those parties if you live on the West Coast.
See Seeing the Forest to learn more about what Dean's supporters are up to.
The Diva and presidential candidates? Still uncertain. I promise to let you know when I decide.
Reporter and blogger: Tales of two hats
Maureen Ryan, a Chicago Tribune reporter, has delved into the edgy relationship between print and broadcast journalists and bloggers. She suggests mainstream journalism doesn't know what to do with the interlopers, especially when they among its own ranks.
First she observes the high points and low points of warblogging.
Many people turned to the Web for war reports and analysis and found some of the best work available online was being done by thoughtful bloggers who seemingly updated their sites with fresh news and commentary every 15 seconds or so.
It was a shock to the tight-knit blogging community when two respected blogs written by frontline reporters for CNN and Time magazine were shut down by the journalists' employers, and when another hugely popular war blog was found to have lifted several [sic] postings from another source.
CNN reporter Kevin Sites had his blog shut down by the brass at CNN. Time reporter Joshua Kucera suffered the same fate. Though the two are not at liberty to say so, I don't believe they had much bargaining power with their employers. As necessary as journalists are to news operations, they tend to be the most expendable of the resources involved.
A CNN spokeswoman said Sites' bosses wanted him to concentrate on his TV reporting, while a Time spokesman wouldn't comment on the assertion by freelancer Joshua Kucera that his editors "demanded" that he shut down his blog, The Other Side (www.serendipit-e.com/otherside), which featured the kind of thoughtful, personal diary entries that rarely make it into mainstream newsmagazines. "They pay the bills, so what can I do," said Kucera in one of his last posts (Kucera declined to comment for this story).
Josh Marshall, who, like me, knows both sides of the fence, is more expansive.
"These organizations are just risk averse," says Joshua Micah Marshall, whose 2-year-old blog TalkingPointsMemo.com is a daily stop for more than 20,000 political junkies. "What good does it do them to have someone they are identified with saying things that they can't control, that by the nature of the medium are going to be provocative?"
When I was a reporter, one of the newspapers I worked for insisted on journalists giving a portion of any freelance writing fees they earned to the it. Is it any wonder former Washington Post reporter Jill Nelson called her memoir Volunteer Slavery? The corporate types in media do often think they own reporters, or at least anything reporters produce.
Ryan also discusses traditional media and blog relationships that seem to be going well, such as the one between Dan Gillmor and the San Jose Mercury. However, Gillmor's web log is basically a newspaper technology column written in blog form. It does not give the brass any cause to be nervous. Other bloggers with corporate connections tend to be defenders of the status quo, such as Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus. As such, they are not likely to call into question anything that matters enough to offend their bosses.
I expect the relationship between mainstream media and bloggers to remain fraught with tension. About half the reporters I know who are currently bloggers have chosen to keep their web logs secret from their employers and, sometimes, their employment secret from the blogosphere. In doing so, they are able to wear the appropriate hat at the appropriate time without being subjected to trouble by either group. I would probably do the same thing.
The Agonist watch
The other major blogging episode alluded to in Ryan's story is that of Sean-Paul Kelley, who was caught plagiarizing from the intelligence information service Statfor. Currently, the Agonist is ranked thirty-third among blogs by Truth Laid Bear. He has fallen from among the top bloggers. The reasons for that are likely mixed, including less interest in the invasion of Iraq now that most of the shooting is over and the scandal.
Friday, April 25, 2003
On the web
•Aziz: A mirror image
Blog Left points out something in regard to Tariq Aziz that I've been thinking about the Iraqi information minister. He cites Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy on Aziz.
"With Aziz in custody, top U.S. officials are patting themselves on the back. But they have only proven that victors are able to imprison the vanquished. . .Aziz epitomized the urbanity of evil. He was articulate and deft at rationalizing government actions that caused enormous suffering. His similarities to top U.S. officials are much greater than we're comfortable acknowledging."
Has anyone else noticed the much mocked Iraqi information minister is the mirror image of Ari Fleischer?
•The placebo effect
Pen-Elayne zeroes in on an important aspect of civil rights analysis. Should people who are not similarly situated be treated as if they are in the name of gender blindness?
Well, you wouldn't know it to look at it, but today was Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. My thoughts on this can be found here - essentially, that I feel the Ms. Foundation people completely capitulated on this issue to anti-feminist corporate morons who whined, "well, what about the boyyyyys?" Instead of saying, "Hey men and boys, it's not always about you!" and re-emphasizing the original point of the day - "to introduce girls [my emphasis] ages 9 to 15 to the workplace, and to help them feel that their future participation in the labor force is both expected and welcome" - backed up by studies which have shown that girls' self-esteem plummets at that age, whereas boys' self-esteem is just fine and dandy, they just blanded the hell out of it. So not only don't I know any businesses commemmorating the day now that it's fairly pointless and toothless, but I don't care.
The same reasoning should apply to the color-blindness argument in my opinion. It does not make sense to pretend minorities are similarly situated when they are not.
Poverty rates for African-Americans, however, remain well above white poverty rates. At 22.1 percent in 2000, the poverty rate for African-Americans was nearly three times the non-Hispanic white poverty rate of 7.5 percent. The story among Hispanics is similar — poverty rates declined in 2000 but remain comparatively high. Some 21.2 percent of Hispanics were poor last year.
That is a world of difference. Yet, conservatives, and unfortunately, some liberals, want to pretend it is not there for their own selfish reasons.
•Not a friend of John Lott
I haven't been a consistent reader of Jim Henley. So, when I read an entry saying "the Lott affair shows us the reliability of Lott's
scholarship," I read it to mean Lott was a reliable source. Jim writes to say that because of lack of background, I misinterpreted his position:
When I said the Lott affair shows us "the reliability of Lott's
scholarship," I mean it has shown us that Lott's scholarship is
_unreliable_. In the context of other things I've written about the Lott
case specifically, I think that's clear. But it looks like I phrased things
better for regular readers than occasional ones. Regardless, I first said in
January that gun rights supporters could no longer trust Lott's work to
prove their points and reiterated that judgment within the last month.
I sit corrected and will be reading Jim Henley's blog more often.
As the world turns
•A Moonie moves up
Rob Humenik at get donkey informs of us of a political appoinment in the United States that has its roots in South Korea. A former employee of an excreable excuse for a newspaper has been elevated by George. W. Bush. NBC has the story.
FOR HIS NEW Deputy of U. S. Trade, Bush has selected Josette Shiner, a longtime member of the Unification Church, whose members are sometimes derisively called “The Moonies.” Shiner was also the managing editor for Moon’s Washington Times newspaper.
. . .If appointed, Shiner will have tremendous influence over trade in Africa and Asia, including, of course, [Rev. Sun Myung] Moon’s homeland of Korea, where he has extensive business interests.
Shiner claims to have left the Unification Church, but has never repudiated its bizarre leader.
•Winnie Mandela may go to prison
In South Africa, Winnie Mandela, known as mother of the nation because of her leading role in the fight against apartheid, has been convicted of bank fraud. She and an associate are said to have diverted $120,000 from part of the African National Congress.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, could be sentenced to 15 years in jail today after being convicted for fraud and theft in a bungled banking scam.
A Pretoria regional court yesterday found South Africa's anti-apartheid campaigner guilty of exploiting her position as head of the African National Congress's women's league to defraud a bank and dozens of ordinary people.
Though popular with the poor, Mandela has often clashed with leaders of the country, including President Thabo Mbeki. She has said the post-apartheid government has not done enough to help the millions of black South Africans living in poverty.
Mandela will be sentenced Monday.
•Toronto remains on SARS list
Canada is involved in a spat with WHO over SARS. While maintaining strong advisories against travel to other countries impacted, the government wants an advisory against travel to a Canadian city lifted.
OTTAWA (CP) — Canada has failed to persuade the World Health Organization to lift its SARS warning against travel to Toronto, despite the personal intervention of Health Minister Anne McLellan.
The [Canadian health] minister said WHO based its decision on outdated information, particularly with respect to the "export" of cases of SARS from Canada.
"The information they are operating on is at least 10 days old," she said.
Dr. Paul Gully, Health Canada's senior director general of population and public health, told a news briefing that the outdated information has to do with cases where people carried the SARS infection from Canada to other countries.
A WHO official said the Canadians seemed to be uninterested in SARS cases once they leave Canada.
The Canadian blogger at the G-Spot, Kim, is incensed.
Is there SARS in Toronto? Yes. Have people died of SARS in Toronto? Yes. Are there many people in quarantine over the outbreak of SARS? Yes. Should we be alarmed and avoid Canada's largest city? No! The World Health Organization warned travelers to stay away from Toronto if at all possible. I can't believe they would go so far as saying that without even being here to see what is going on and to see how the doctors and officials are handling this.
WHO says it has based its decision on the pertinent medical information.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
N.Z. Bear rejects tainted honey
Zounds! A conservative agrees that the looting of Iraqi museums and cultural sites with little or no intervention by American troops is a disgrace. That is more surprising than today's earthquake. Saying Mickey Kaus does not go far enough in his criticism, N.Z. Bear follows through.
Following the chain of evidence and logic Kaus himself lays out, it's clear to me that the looting of the Iraqi National Museum in particular, and the chaos following Baghdad's fall in general, must unavoidably be chalked up in the "screwup" category for U.S. forces.
Don't misinterpret, Bear has not cashed in his Bush chips. He still supports the invasion of Iraq and believes the Iraqis were "liberated." However, considering the unwillingness of many conservatives to admit the administration can do anything wrong, I am surprised to see a blogger from the Right take this stance.
The war is still a tremendous success. But: it is crucial that those of us who supported the war be willing to stand up and actually acknowledge when some things genuinely do go wrong.
The Right Wing blogger at Tobacco Road Fogey is still ducking the issue, as I would expect.
It probably was a situation of not enough soldiers to do too many things at one point in time. And I'm inclined to give our troops the benefit of the doubt in this kind of situation.
He claims, after looking at a few maps of Baghdad, that U.S. forces must not have been able to get to the National Museum and protect it, or perhaps it was low priority. Right. Fogey ignores the looting of other buildings.
Hesiod at CounterSpin, the liberal blog with attitude, is also impressed with Bear's clear-sightedness. (Make that attitude, but no link to the Diva, which is shameful.)
. . .Even prominent warbloggers like N.Z. Bear are now admitting that not securing the National Museum [and hospitals!] from looters was a major screw up by the Bush administration.
But, he doesn't believe Bear goes far enough. He saves his stronger ammo for a bigger target.
Hesiod is not at all pleased with Glenn Reynolds, who he accuses of what amounts to dereliction of duty as a leading blogger. Noting the Instapundit's blindness, he says:
By focusing ONLY on the looting, Glenn is deliberately obscuring the major problems the United States has in post war Iraq. He ridiculously claims that we who opposed the War of Bush Aggression are focusing on the looting because that's the only thing we can complain about!
In "Where's the new regime?" Ming the Mechanic clearly and concisely cuts to the chase.
Yeah, it is a bit of problem when you engineer a coup in another country, but you're trying to pretend that you didn't. Or maybe rather that you brought down the government in that country, and you destroyed its infrastructure, and now you're bringing in a few expats who you think you can groom to run the country instead, but you're still trying to pretend you're not the new government.
I cliche that. Until the Right realizes it has made a mess that will take decades to clean up, it is still missing most of the point about the invasion of Iraq. The destruction of Baghdad's museum and other public buildings is disgraceful, but so is the entire occupation, if it turns out the way I expect to it to. It doesn't look like conservatives are going to see the greater light anytime soon.
Support Mike Hawash
Fellow Oregon blogger Emma of Notes on the Atrocities is very concerned about Maher "Mike" Hawash, the American citizen of Arab descent being detained without much explanation here in Portland. Hawash is now being held in solitary confinement, usually reserved for prisoners who have broken the rules or become violent. There is no evidence Hawash has done either. The bare-knuckled treatment may be intended to get him to implicate himself with the Portland Six, who are accused of attempting to aid Al Qaida. Five of them traveled to China in an alleged effort to enter Afghanistan last year. The most damning evidence against them so far is from an informant with credibility problems.
Emma has asked that people in the area join a protest at the federal courthouse April 29th. However, you don't have to live in Puddletown to protest Hawash's inprisonment without charges. Other cities are also planning rallies on his behalf.
To learn more about the Hawash case, visit Emma's blog and this site set up by Mike's friends.
I haven't said much about the Hawash case because it has been covered so well by other bloggers. I will have more to say about it, and the Portland Six, in the future.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Beautiful cards on the table
There is a new Iraq-related card deck. It does not focus on Baath Party leaders sought by United States. This deck of card features "Iraq's most wanted" -- looted treasures and historical artifacts. See these historic objects of beauty and value here.
Gun manufacturer shot down in court
But Right has more ammo
Gun makers have lost a case in which a child was paralyzed by gunfire.
An Oakland jury has found a California gun maker, its designer and its main distributor partly liable in an accidental shooting that left a 7-year-old boy a quadriplegic.
. . .The jury found that Bryco Arms, the maker of the .38-caliber semiautomatic used in the shooting; Bruce Jennings, the gun's designer and the company's founder; and the company's main distributor, B. L. Jennings Inc. 35 percent liable for the injury to the boy, Brandon Maxfield, who was shot in the chin by a baby sitter in 1994.
Gun makers are rarely found liable for shootings because they argue that any negligence was on the part of the persons involved and the weapon worked as intended. The opposing argument is that guns serve only one inherently dangerous function, therefore there is a duty to make them as accident proof as possible.
The facts of this case suggest a redesign of the gun that made it more dangerous. Brandon's attorney described the problem.
"You have to disengage the safety and put the gun in a dangerous position to unload it," Ms. [Victoria] Ni said. "That is a defect in the design."
During testimony, it was shown that Mr. [B. L.] Jennings had changed the design of the gun to make it operate that way.
The verdict could be Pyrrhic victory. A bill currently before the Senate would prevent gun manufacturers from being held liable for injuries resulting from the use of their products.
The bill, which passed the House earlier this month, is expected to be taken up in the Senate after the Easter recess. The bill, sponsored by the National Rifle Association and the gun industry, has 52 co-sponsors in the Senate, enough to pass.
Gun control activists are heartened by the verdict, but emphasize the importance of opposing the immunity bill before Congress.
"The gun lobby says that suits against gun makers are frivolous. This case proves them wrong," said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the organization spearheading the Justice for Gun Victims campaign. "If gun industry immunity becomes the law of the land, there will be no legal recourse to hold the industry accountable for its irresponsible actions."
In his article, "Pistol Whipped: Baseless Lawsuits, Foolish Laws" Cato Institute resident Robert A. Levy asserts lawsuits such as this one are frivolous. In addition, he declares lawsuits brought by the states to be part of a conspiracy against gun-owners.
Levy says that "the American public, especially voters and jurors, must be warned that our tort system is rapidly becoming a tool for extortion by a coterie of politicians and trial lawyers."
He considers suits by victims of gun violence part of a two-pronged attack on the arguable right of private citizens to possess weaponry. According to him, "Meritless litigation brought by government plaintiffs in multiple jurisdictions are just part of a scheme to force gun makers to adopt policies that legislatures have wisely rejected."
Blogger Kim du Toit of The Daily Rant would probably agree. After noting two of Bryco's Saturday night specials are on the BATF's list of guns most likely to be used to commit crimes, he says inexpensive guns are a good thing.
Guns should be cheap, because then poor people (the most common victims of crime) can afford them. Yes, it makes them more affordable to criminals as well, but most guns used in crime are stolen anyway, where price is not an issue. There are more law-abiding poor people than there are criminals, and poor people have as much right to defend themselves as anyone else does.
I believe poor people have just as much right to be safe from gun violence as anyone else does.
One of the groups fighting for people like Brandon is Justice for Gun Victims. It can be accessed here.
Dangerous Metal gets it. The blogger says of this case and blanket immunity for gun manufacturers:
This is exactly why a blanket immunity is unwise. Manufacturing or design defects would no longer be actionable. Corporations are looking at their bottom line, not your safety. . .history has proven this time after time.
Write your Congressperson. I've written mine.
Back in Bloggersville
•The new kid
The Wily Filipino is new to my blogroll. Wily's blog is an olio of news, entertainment, poetry and material about the Philippines. Today, Wily has new and semi-nude information about the Dixie Chicks. Wily also links to statements by Tim Robbins and Bruce Springsteen regarding the right to dissent. The Boss says:
The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American.
Direct. Unequivocal. Cool.
My blog brother, Roger Ailes, has an item from The Boston Globe about a reporter being caught with stolen artifacts from Iraq by U.S. Customs. A large painting that a Boston Herald journalist, Jules Crittenden, brought back as a souvenir from the war in Iraq was confiscated along with smaller items. His response?
''He didn't think it was a big deal,'' the [Customs] official said of Crittenden. ''He said all the embedded reporters were doing it.''
Roger's links are thoroughly bloggered, so you will need to scroll down. I'm going to send him a how-to on how I fixed mine.
•For whom the bell tolls
Death is a depressing subject. But, it can also be an intriguing topic. At Silver Rights read a tribute to musical goddess Nina Simone and an entry about the death penalty. Simone, a voice for civil rights as well as an entertainer, died this week at 70.
An oddity about Oregon is that we have nearly twice as many family murders as the national average. Family murders are those in which at least one related child and one adult is killed by a family member. During each of the last two Christmas seasons a family murder occurred. Should these men be executed?
Another friend of John Lott
Jim Henley of Unqualified Offerings has a really different take on a group I pan in part two of "The friends of John Lott." He likes Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
In other gun news, I've made the links page of the very hardcore Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and couldn't be happier.
A sympathizer, Karen Selick, explains the reasoning behind JPFO.
An organization called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc. (which bills itself as "America's Aggressive Civil Rights Organization") has done extensive research on seven major twentieth century genocides. JPFO concludes that gun control is a necessary, albeit not a sufficient, condition for genocide. (JPFO defines genocide to include mass murder based on political views, not just racial or religious factors.)
. . .In all seven cases studied, gun control laws were in place before the genocide occurred. In five cases, it was not the tyrannical government itself that had enacted gun controls, but a previous, "benevolent" regime, sometimes acting under the theory that such measures would reduce crime.
Henley is an advocate of the dubious position that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership by private citizens. He also believes the John Lott scandal has shown "the reliability of Lott's own scholarship." He doesn't get specific about that, which is a good idea.
Update: See correction here.
Thinking about think tanks
Barry (I don't know which Barry) said something over at Ted Barlow's that reminded me I've been meaning to ask a question:
Tim, Jane's projecting. Lott is looking worse and worse as time goes by. He's probably given up even trying to look good. His 'Chicago research methods' don't look so good. Judging from his short bio at AEI, he doesn't seem to have much current connection with academia -- he's not listed as even a 'visiting assistant lecturer wannabe' anywhere.
Barry is referring to Megan McArdle's, aka Jane Galt's, kneejerk rabid Right Wing support of John Lott.
My question: Is working for think thanks a good career path?
I sometimes used 'experts' from think tanks as sources as a reporter. I knew they were selling their employers' political biases, so I was careful to balance them with other sources. But, I never actually thought about people opting to join AEI, Brookings, or some other outfit until I began reading blogs a few months ago. Now, I correspond with several professional pundits. In fact, I've gotten the impression that philosophy majors seek out that kind of position.
But, it seems to me that John Lott, Jr.'s situation suggests that for a middle-aged person, at least, such employment may be a dead end, unless he has an alternative career. His credibility as an academic has gone from not being tenurable to not being hireable. His employment with AEI is probably at will. If it decides to dump him, he will have no recourse. If he were a tenured professor, he would. Furthermore, Lott seems to have become AEI's 'say anything' guy, the person sent forth to support any far Right position, no matter how loony. That means his standing is being further compromised even as he rolls over and jumps through hoops for his employer.
I can understand young college grads putting in a couple years at one or two think tanks, but such employment does not strike me as a good longterm goal. Many think tankers have or had more substantive careers and appear to have taken on their think tank positions later in life as easy money. That seems more feasible.
Is it that I don't understand this field of employment? Let me know.
From my mailbag
•Marcus wrote to make a suggestion:
I don't think this serves as an explanation of many of the people who choose not to have computers, but if you haven't read it, Cliff Stoll's Silicon Snake Oil is worth a look. Here's a geek who has taken fairly sharp step back from computers and computer advocacy.
I read Silicon Snake Oil years ago. Like Marcus, I recommend it to anyone thinking about why he, she or we are online.
•Jim provided a very reasonable answer to the question about why people have so often worshipped idols that has been nagging me.
I'm not an idol-worshipping guy, but it shouldn't be quite so mystifying as you find it. We find people essentially worship the flag for instance -- they invest the thing itself with special value even over and above the viewing of it as a symbol. One could argue that Christianity has idols as well, in the forms of altars, crosses, and fish symbols. The idols are symbolic, and they are constructed, but once constructed, the thing itself is given the power of that which is symbolised. So idol-worship such as the golden calf is not necessarily different from that seen in flags or religous symbols nowadays.
•Angry Bear is going to try to leave his blog archives alone, considering rebuilding them could be a disaster.
•Larry emphatically disagrees with my assertion that the U.S. is being imperialistic toward Iraq and France is not.
France took exactly the same imperialistic stance. To protect its TotalFinaElf oil futures contracts already signed with Saddam, it was necessary to oppose U.S. conquest. It's just that France's imperialistic interests conflicted directly with the U.S. imperialistic interests.
It's notable that France is the first to propose to the UN to support the U.S. demand for lifting sanctions. Their oil contracts are vaporized and they need to make up with the U.S. so that a few million barrels might flow their way some day.
•Someone wants to sell me Viagra.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
The friends of John Lott
Part II: His strange bedfellows
As I previously said, John Lott, Jr., has ties to anti-Democratic persons and groups in several ways.
Among the foremost of those voices supporting white supremacy, secession and John Lott, Jr., is Robert Stacy McCain of the Washington Times. An ardent Lott supporter, McCain has tried to claim the inquiry into Lott's likely fabricated research was resolved in Lott's favor.
Mr. [Daniel] Polsby says Mr. Lott was vindicated last week, when a Minnesota lawyer came forward to say he had participated in the 1997 survey.
Northwest University professor James Lindgren, who was one of Mr. Bellesiles' main critics, also became involved in the investigation of Mr. Lott's survey. But the question appears to be at least partly resolved, according to Mr. Lindgren.
"Happily, as the concerns became more widely discussed, David Gross, a Minnesota lawyer, came forward to say that he thought he'd been surveyed by Lott back in 1997. I interviewed [Mr. Gross] at length and found him credible," Mr. Lindgren said.
However, both Polsby and Gross are Right Wing gun advocates just like Lott. In my opinion, neither seems very credible.
Those of us who follow the neo-Confederate movement know McCain well. A leader in the overtly racist and secessionist League of the South, McCain's ideal America would strip everyone but property-owning Christian white males of participation in political life. He supports secession of the Southern states from the U.S., so that persons of his perspective can set up a Christian theocracy that would be run by. . . well, them. Women would be stripped of political rights and returned to their 'rightful' submissive roles. Nonwhites and Jews would be allowed to live in the new Confederate states only if they agreed to be second-class citizens by not claiming equal rights to those of white Christian men.
Members of the racist and anti-Semitic Vanguard News Network are also spoken favorably about John Lott.
Ironically, InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, who refers to members of Vanguard as "Nazi scum," has something in common with them, support of John Lott.
Mainstream supporters of Lott are hard to find. The shrill harridan Ann Coulter is about as close as one gets. His sometimes lunch companion has political aspirations for him.
There was, however, a nice new Republican president. One of the liberal arguments against Lott's study is that no one should hire him. Not universities and -- just in case a Republican administration might be interested in hiring an economist who is not intimidated by liberal censors -- not the Bush administration either.
Another group that has found common cause with Lott in regard to gun advocacy is Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The radical group believes Jews should own guns to prevent the next Holocaust. Aaron Zelman, its leader, takes mainstream Jewish leaders to task for not agreeing.
Have these Jews forgotten their own history?
Have they forgotten that, from Pharoah to Stalin and Hitler, powerful governments have been their worst tormentors, their slave masters, their ghettoizers, their inquisitors, their slaughterers?
They certainly have forgotten that, throughout history, the "benevolent" government that courts Jews one day turns on us the next and sends us into exile, suffering, and death. For two millennia, that's been the reality of Jewish existence.
Do they want Jews to be victims? And worse, do they want us to become, in reality, the nation of victims that populates their imaginations?
Obviously, these people are in direct conflict with Lott supporters such as Robert Stacy McCain, who do not consider Jews part of their ideal world. However, such conflicts tend to be ignored among Right Wingers. I gather they simply don't discuss the contradictions that make them strange bedfellows.
More American merde for the French
This is the kind of thing that will forever make it impossible for me to become a Republican.
Senior aides to US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) met this week to consider ways to punish France for its opposition to the war on Iraq (news - web sites), including sidelining Paris at NATO and limiting its participation in transatlantic forums, officials said.
. . .Participants in the meeting, held Monday at the White House after a similar gathering last week was postponed, did not arrive at any decisions but are expected to gather again, possibly next week, in an effort to reach consensus, the officials said.
The officials, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office had been particularly vocal in pressing for some kind of punitive measures to be taken against France.
I believe most of the Bushites are incapable of considering the French have as much right to reach their conclusions on the invasion of Iraq as the Bush administration had to reach its own. More, in my opinion, since France rejected the imperialistic stance the United States took.
The only bright spot in the situation is state department officials do not support the additional bullying of France.
The State Department, however, wants to move beyond the split over Iraq and focus more on areas of future cooperation with France, including in Iraq where Boucher said there would be "opportunities" to work with allies on reconstruction.
I would not be surprised if any of them who remain stubborn pay a price for it.
William Quick, the Daily Pundit, disagrees in that smooth, sophisticated way Right Wingers so often express themselves:
Good. Make an example of the frogs. Done properly, it will tend to discourage anti-American treachery in the future.
Such deep analysis of the issues. Reminds me of the InstaPundit.
Cloy Harlequin believes the U.S. should have learned better in grammar school.
Remember back in elementary school when kids had little clubs? And remember that one kid who was a real jerk and would try to force everyone to play his games, and if you didn't want to play he would call you a wuss? And then remember how that jerk would stop inviting you to play and say "you're kicked out of the club because you're stupid"? Well, most kids grow out of that, but. . . .
You decide who is making sense.
Some things I don't understand
There are so-o-o many things I don't understand, but I am not going to lay them all on you at once. Let's consider.
•Australian race relations. I know the country used to exclude nonwhites from immigrating. However, there is now a sizeable Asian-Australian population. And, a white supremacist anti-immigration movement. I have read most of Peter Carey's works. I also saw The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith. However, I don't feel remotely qualified to tell any Australian about the race relations situation there.
•Worship of idols. Let me preface this by saying I am not a religious person. As a child I attended churches ranging from Baptist to Seventh Day Adventist because grown folks made me. It is difficult to grow up in the South and not get some religious indoctrination. As a young adult, I was briefly involved with the Quakers and Unitarians and did some reading on Bahais. But back to idols. I was thinking about the golden calf the Israelites built while Moses was conferring with God. How could they have considered it holy, awe inspiring and possessing supernatural powers? It seems to me that if people construct something, from a precious metal or not, they know what its properties are. Furthermore, by making it, the humans assert dominance over it. For example, we know that no matter how 'smart' computers get, designers and programmers are still their bosses, right? Yet, worldwide, many cultures have worshiped idols. I don't understand.
•The blog ecosystem. When I look at the various analytical data for my own blogs and other people's, it often doesn't correlate with what I know already. For example, Mac-a-ro-nies should be in Atrios' Eschaton 'blog neighborhood,' but isn't listed there. Instead, some Rightwing blogs that are not on his blogroll and he rarely or never links to turn up. I've also noticed that Technorati's data is usually out of date. However, the question I wonder most about is what the blog ecosystem means. Since blogs must register to be tracked, couldn't there be blogs that are more popular than the ones that have registered? If there are, are we who read the ecosystem data participating in a group delusion?
•Men. Never mind. That issue would take up the entire blog.
Monday, April 21, 2003
Ampersand changes his mind
Barry, or Ampersand, an actually unique person, is saying something I have not heard anyone else say either on or offline. He opposed the war against Iraq, but with reservations. He feared sanctions would be ongoing without it. Now, he thinks maybe the war was for the best.
My worries could still prove correct - it's possible that Iraq will disintegrate into chaos and civil war. Happily, it seems more likely that stability (in the form of a US-appointed puppet government) will rule the day. Assuming that's the case, I should have been pro-invasion; the harms of the invasion - huge as they are - are far less terrible than the harms of ongoing sanctions for another decade or two would have been.
I don't believe the war was for the best. A neo-colonialist government that exploits Iraq's oil resources while keeping the Iraqis in poverty could be worse than Saddam Hussein's rule. However, I am willing to give Barry a listen. You should, too.
My reason for choosing to browse Alas, a Blog, next? Barry never has broken links and churned archives. He uses Blog, not Blogger. The Diva could not take three bloggered blogs in a row.
A lounge act John Lott would love
I hope John Lott, Jr. and Mary Rosh are free for a trip to Florida this week. TBOGG reports the National Rifle Association is having a get-together there. Uh oh. Looks like there could be a misfire, though.
If you are attending the NRA's Annual Meeting and Shootapalooza™ in Orlando this week, remember to leave your "manhood" back at the hotel if you're planning on attending the Toby Keith concert Friday night. While Florida recognizes most state's conceal carry laws, they don't allow guns in the Orange County Convention Center.
John Lott leave the hotel without his gun? Something would have to be really tempting for that to occur I reckon. Like. . .a Toby Keith concert for a man who likes to dress in drag.
TBOGG may have both gaydar and poor taste in musicians. Read his additional musing about Keith to see what I mean.
Another bloggered link. Golly, this is frustrating. Go to the main page. The item, "All butched up" is at the top for now.
Over at Avedon's
The very much back in business Avedon led me to this column by William Raspberry. Bill believes he was really taken in by Colin Powell in regard to weapons of mass destruction. I can tell he is madder than a wet hen.
I believed it -- and for much the same reasons I believed the prosecution's DNA evidence against O.J. Simpson. That is to say, I didn't understand most of it, but I was terribly impressed by the certitude of those who said they did.
. . .And here's what I can't get out of my mind. Those weapons of mass destruction that our intelligence sources had pinpointed and that became the principal rationale for our preemptive war on Iraq haven't turned up. The inspectors couldn't find them while Hussein ruled, and our military, with virtually free range of the country, can't find them now.
Avedon seems to feel about like I do. When the cold let up, my allergies started up. So, I still have clogged sinuses I am trying to manage with saline drops.
I wish I could wake up feeling light like Elayne says she did yesterday, but I'm currently convinced that my head alone weighs 65kg.
Me too, and my nose seems to be most of it.
Her links are bloggered, so give the whole page a read.
For someone who gave her all
MB of Wampum Blog has written to inform me the planned memorial fund to help Pfc. Piestewa's heirs is now a fate accompli.
Memorial fund created for Piestewa children
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2003
A memorial fund has been created for the two children of Lori Ann Piestewa.
Donations can be made to the "LORI PIESTEWA MEMORIAL FUND" at any Wells Fargo Bank. The account number is 0464633783.
The account was set up by the Hopi Tribe of Arizona.
Arizona to honor Piestewa
Prometheus 6, a brand new blogger, has good news about Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, who died in combat in Iraq. A mountain top in her home state will be renamed for her.
PHOENIX (AP) --After prodding from the governor, a state board
Thursday decided to rename a prominent mountain peak after an
American Indian servicewoman killed in Iraq.
The change did not occur without controversy. Some people on the panel that considers geographic names wanted to wait. That seems odd considering the national controversy over the word "squaw" in the names of some places.
Some members of the Arizona Geographic and Historic Names Board
had resisted Gov. Janet Napolitano's push to rename Squaw Peak in
honor of Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, noting that federal policy requires that
people be dead five years before their names can be used on
Through a resignation and an absence the measure passed.
Piestewa, a Hopi from Tuba City in northern Arizona, is the only
American servicewoman to die in the war. She was among nine
members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company killed when their
unit made a wrong turn near Nasiriyah and drove into an ambush March
23. Six members of the 507th were taken prisoner but ultimately
I agree with this abrogation of procedure. In five years, the invasion of Iraq will be history to most people. The likelihood the young woman would be honored then is nil.
Now, I want to see something that is more than symbolic done for the living -- Pfc. Piestewa's two young children. Funds should be raised to assure their upbringing is the economic equal of those of middle-class children, as well as for their college educations eventually.
I suppose, as someone who is part Indian, I should say something about the "squaw" controversy. I don't have strong feelings about it. Linguists say the racy meaning sometimes ascribed to the word is not accurate. But, if "squaw" has taken on a negative inference over time, that might be reason enough not to use it.
Take Moore's Oscar back, conservatives say
Someone has started a drive to revoke filmmaker Michael Moore's Oscar. The rabid Right Wingers at FreeRepublic have picked up the campaign, but it seems to have started at a weblog. According to the site set up to convince the Academy to snatch the sucker back, Moore is guilty of some rather quaint incursions.
The 75th Academy Awards handed the Oscar® for "Best Documentary" to Michael Moore for Bowling for Columbine. Bowling is a nasty bit of anti-American propaganda. Viewers are taught that:
America was founded on violence and fear, as quarrelsome pilgrims fled to the new world, where their paranoia led them to massacre the Indians, then the British, and then each other;
The Columbine murderers' violence might have its roots in the fact that one had a father in our military (American soldiers are presumably murderers, and it must rub off on their kids) or that there was a defense contractor in the area;
Charlton Heston (one of Hollywood's few upstanding men) is a callous fool;
The terrorist attack on 9/11 is related to past American foreign policy -- in short, America's own fault;
(No need to go farther, you get the drift. No wonder it got a standing ovation at France's Cannes Film Festival.)
I can't help but wonder who this person thinks the upstanding men in Hollywood, in addition to Charlton Heston, are.
One supporter of the campaign to revoke Moore's Oscar well-known in the blogosphere is Dave Kopel, the gun enthusiast currently embroiled in a scandal over apparently helping fellow Right Winger John Lott falsify information in his new book. Kopel says Bowling for Columbine was not really eligible for the Oscar because it isn't a documentary, but a 'mockumentary.'
. . .The fact is that a mockumentary larded with untruths and brazen self-contradiction is gobbling up documentary prizes: a special award at the Cannes Film Festival, the National Board of Review's "Best Documentary," the International Documentary Association's choice for best documentary ever, and the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Kopel's complaint is unconvincing since the persons awarding those prizes know much more about filmmaking than he does.
The Wall Street Journal's web zine, the Opinion Journal, may have initiated the cause. In fact, it would be difficult to find a far Right cause it hasn't taken up. John Fund began the drumbeat before the Oscars, claiming Moore would win because of political correctness in Hollywood. (Yes, that John Fund. The same fellow with a scandalous reputation for sexually exploiting women.)
With Hollywood in a fever pitch against the war in Iraq, Michael Moore is likely to win the Oscar for Best Documentary at Sunday's Academy Awards. Bowling for Columbine, Mr. Moore's work of anti-American propaganda, has grossed over $15 million, an amazing sum for a film billed as a documentary. But the film, a merry dissection of America's "culture of fear" and love of guns, is filled with so many inaccuracies and distortions that it ought to be classed as a work of fiction.
InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds has mentioned the revocation drive on his blog, which attracts the attention of thousands. Like Kopel, he has questions to answer in regard to the new John Lott scandal.
So far, the revocation drive is a creature of the Web and, seemingly, fellows with troubles of their own. Time will tell whether it spreads to mainstream media and the hoi polloi.
I would consider it ridiculous for the Academy to seriously think about taking back an Oscar because of a political attack on the recipient. However, the drive has picked up steam at conservative sites and blogs since I became aware of it Friday.
Moore is either oblivious or undeterred. He again stated his opposition to Pres. George W. (Shrub) Bush and his plans for the country in Texas, the state Bush claims as home, Tuesday.
The filmmaker told students at the University of Texas that the United States was at war with Iraq because Bush was trying to direct attention away from his domestic failures.
"It's not about the weapons of mass destruction; it's about the weapons of mass distraction," he told 4,400 students and guests.
Moore says he mainly receives messages of support and jokes about Right Wingers who target him for boycotts -- or worse.
Moore told the Austin American-Statesman before his lecture that 90 percent of the response he's gotten has been positive and that, despite having investigated the roots of violence in his most recent documentary, he hasn't received any threats.
"Should I be getting death threats?" he said, jokingly. "It is pretty risky of me to be coming to Texas, don't you think?"
I find Moore a bit much at times, but believe he did the right thing at the Academy Awards. For everyone to pretend there was no invasion of Iraq occurring would have been ludicrous. If a person isn't going to take a stand on issues he cares about, what is the value in caring about them?
(1)Some of this material appeared in a previous blog entry.
(2)The nature of my template makes it difficult to focus attention on more than one entry at a time. I also urge you to read the more serious entry "Meet Bill Regnery," below.
Sunday, April 20, 2003
Orchids, onions and in-between
I've been reading some blogs that many of you may not yet be aware of.
•If you are not yet a fan of Gen. JC Christian you should be. He is the source of some of the deepest belly laughs in the blogosphere. Christian takes on the Right on its turf and gives it no quarter. Humor is difficult to write. I admire the General enormously for writing it so well.
•Smart Genes, Rick Heller's blog, is a compendium of everything from his observations about the invasion of Iraq (he was pro-war with reservations) to thoughts about the centrality issue to informative writing about being Jewish that does not deteriorate into Arab/Muslim bashing.
•A Democrat in South Carolina has his work cut out for him. The Wyeth Wire is up to the task. Today, Wyeth takes on a big medium in regard to the claim Presidential candidate Al Sharpton may do well there.
AL SHARPTON WILL NOT WIN SOUTH CAROLINA: The Village Voice has an article that regurgitates the Beltway conventional wisdom - that Sharpton is a shoo-in to win [the] South Carolina primary, and that this prospect is making Democrats nervous.
Read that item and more at the Wyeth Wire.
Off with the old
I've decided to no longer participate in Tim Lambert's compendium of material about gun fraud John Lott, Jr. I have written him an email asking that he not cite my blog entries anymore, though I will continue to write about Lott. My reason for doing so is Lambert's apparent lack of knowledge about race and gender relations in the United States. Lambert, an Australian, has informed me and others that there are no gender discrimination or racist aspects to Lott's research. I disagree, as would anyone with a good understanding of those issues. Furthermore, the day I need an Australian to explain things of that sort to me I will take out an ad in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Whatever. . .
I have learned from Jeralyn Merritt that I will no longer be group blogging at the watch. Natasha, the proprietor, has not contacted me. For those not in the know, she used my material with no recompense (not even a thank-you note) for months. I suppose this is kind of rude, but it is also typically Natasha. Having been a student of human nature for a long time, I can't say I'm surprised. As the popularity of Mac-a-ro-nies increased, I realized it might be considered a competitor. However, at the low end of the blogosphere, I don't believe competition matters much.
I have continued to write guest columns for friends because I am always having ideas that don't necessarily mesh with what I am doing here. I will now have more opportunities to guest blog. That is going to be fun. My most recent guest column is for Dominion at A Skeptical Blog. It is something really different. I hope you will read it. After you've read "Intractable," take a look at Dominion's entry about the Branch Davidians. It is superb.
The Blogger blues revisited
Blogger stopped working entirely last night. All one got in any browser was a Pyra error. I wrote the three-part John Lott piece in Blogstudio and transferred it to Blogger this morning. And, yes, I know that is rather ridiculous.
Angry Bear has been having a problem with bloggered links:
The permalinks seem to go down a lot, so that if you follow a link here from another site, you don't go to the right place. The solution seems to be to republish the archives after every post, but that's a hassle. Anyone have any tips?
That is supposed to be the solution. When I tried it, all but one week of my Archives was erased. I had to get really creative to repair the damage.
The media's role in Iraq
Douglas Kellner analyzes the role of media in both wars against Iraq at Blog Left.
In this paper I argue that both Islamic Jihadists and two Bush administrations have deployed spectacles of terror to promote their political agendas. Both also deploy Manichean discourses of good and evil which themselves fit into dominant media codes of popular culture.
The paper is abstracted on the site. You can also go to the document in its entirety via a link.
Everything but Matthew Yglesias
Silver Rights has both the expected and the far out. Read about an attack on a black pol for allegedly using a racial slur, the digital divide and lead poisoning as a cause of reduced IQs in children. Feeling adventuresome? The "When is sexual attraction a fetish?" entry may be one-of-a-kind.
The friends of John Lott
Part I: Meet Bill Regnery
John Lott, Jr., gun 'fancier' in more ways than one, is now published by a company with ties to the white supremacist Right. The Southern Poverty Law Center observed in its Intelligence Report for Spring 2003.
Academic racists also added a new and important organization to their ranks. The Charles Martel Society, with its journal Occidental Quarterly, has an editorial board stacked with leaders of anti-immigrant organizations and hate groups like Taylor's New Century Foundation and the Council of Conservative Citizens. The society, which plans research on how government programs negatively affect white families, is partly funded by William Regnery II, heir to a publishing fortune.
It has added the Charles Martel Society to its list of hate groups.
In the summer of 2002, the SPLC noted.
The recently created society puts out a slick, academic-looking journal called The Occidental Quarterly, edited by a Who's Who of the radical right and bankrolled by William H. Regnery II, the reclusive Chicago millionaire who is heir to the Regnery publishing fortune.
The tables of contents for The Occidental Quarterly confirm that. The list of longterm racists on it includes Enoch Powell, Sam Francis and discredited academic Chris Brand. Regnery himself kicks off the inaugural volume with an essay that makes no pretense in belief in racial equality, "For Our Children's Children." In it, the then 60-year-old elitist elaborates on why he supports secession from the United States by most, if not all, white Americans.
I am for the United States ceding territory to Prime Number states drawn from the existing North American population that are indivisible by reason of race, religion or mutual interests and want to form a more perfect union than that in which they now live. These sovereign entities at their discretion could form a confederacy of equals to facilitate trade and secure their borders.
Puerto Rico would become a free state. Native Hawaiians might be granted an island or two. Blacks would get a separate homeland and economic support from Israel, apparently premised on a belief African-Americans are incapable of self-support and somehow the responsibility of Jews. Some arrangement not described would be made for Native Americans.
The Occidental Quarterly's editorial advisory board is also a roll call of well-known racists.
The publication has not waded into advocacy of gun ownership, though it is part of its supporters' constellation of beliefs. Brother white supremacist voices, including American Renaissance, Chronicles, The Patriotist and groups such as the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens have taken up that drumbeat, instead.
Bill Regnery's brother, Alfred, is in charge of the operation of Regnery Publishing, Inc. Though he is less loose with his tongue, he does not appear to be less Right Wing. Regnery publishes a collection of far Right voices. John Lott. Jr., fits right in. I would not be surprised to learn that his contacts with other reactionaries, perhaps Robert Stacy McCain or Ann Coulter, led to his relationship with Regnery.
This entry is the first in what I expect to be a three-part series. The goal of the triune will be to place Lott in context with other enablers of the far Right. My positions are:
• Lott moves in far Right circles in which sexism and racism are the norm.
• His 'research' has been used by persons who are radically anti-democratic.
I realize that by writing about Lott in context I risk being criticized. Perhaps I will hear from an Australian who thinks he knows more about racism in the United States than I do. In fact, I, an American writer, have already been filled in on American publishing by him. I suspect I just might know a little something about the Regnerys he doesn't.
Or, maybe conservative blogger Chris of Flyover Country will drop me a line to say I have totally misinterpreted the Charles Martel Society -- that it is actually a group interested in horticulture. Such are the risks of blogging.
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Some Jews are wary of Kucinich
The folks at Forward.com say some Jews are peeved with Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio.
The newest entrant into the 2004 Democratic presidential field started out as a distinct long-shot, and his first major salvo
of the campaign isn't likely to increase his odds of success. But Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is sticking to his, um, guns.
"Why is the U.S. going it alone? I say it's about oil," Kucinich flatly declared in a telephone interview with the Forward. "An overwhelming amount of evidence points to an interest in oil, but scant evidence points to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
The excerpt is from a February 28 column currently being circulated via email.
Kucinich's statement is not exactly novel. Many observers, including me, believe the invasion of Iraq is at least partly about oil. In the time since the publication of the column and the present, there has been additional evidence we're right. The question is: Can Dennis Kucinich afford to take a position some will consider anti-Semitic?
For many Jewish voters, already skittish about the Middle East, Kucinich's views can be alarming. "He's a minor player who could be a major disaster for Democrats," said New York political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Kucinich's desire to be perceived as 'the peace candidate' could be impacted by even a hint he might not be an acceptable choice for Jews. (I believe any suggestion he is anti-Semitic is not supported by the evidence, including that in the Forward article.) He has already lost some moderately conservative voters by altering his position on abortion and a claim he played racial politics early in his career may have tarnished his name among liberal Democrats and minority voters. I believe Kucinich has become quite marginal. If he loses some Jewish voters over the "war for oil" position, it will be another brick in the wall.
Note: I have edited this post to include more information.