ustoo Dead

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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Lies of GWB 

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Mob trial 

I don't know if you Mafia enthusiasts out west (Alex, I'm talking about you) get this kinda news.

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:06 EST | |

Monday, June 28, 2004

Pleasantly Surprised 

So everyone who knows me knows that I didn't like Bowling for Columbine. The unthinkable happened on Saturday night--I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 (F911) and liked it. I don't think Moore is just preaching to the converted anymore. I can see this film having much broader appeal than his past works.

The first part of the film lays out the complicated relationship (which is completely supported by facts) between the Bush family and Prince Bandar and other Saudis. The fact that wealthy members of a corrupt regime (whose citizens kill westerners in spectacular ways while blaming Jews for the world's problems) have such close ties to former president Bush (along with his CIA briefings) and US military contractors is a bit discomfiting. Moore doesn't try to establish any grand conspiracy here. He presents the well documented connections between Bush 41 and wealthy Saudis along with same callous comments by unrepentant war profiteers and a few snide remarks...and that's it. Maybe I'm just cynical, but I think this part of the movie was partially a clever appeal to xenophobia and nationalism (You know you can imagine someone thinking, "Those Muslims in funny hats shouldn't be investing in our military contractors.").

The second part of the film was heart rending. Iraq burn victims and dismembered corpses along with screaming widows were paired with an American mom who lost her son in Iraq. There was a crazy scene where these kids (U.S. soldiers who drive tanks) were laughing about the similarities between the Bloodhound Gang song, The Roof is on Fire--you know, "Burn mother fucker burn"--and the stuff they were blowing up in Iraq. Everyone had to be thinking that these were just kids, but this war had them laughing about killing people.

There was also some Cheney/Halliburton stuff and a few well chosen clips where Bush looks like a jackass. I think F911 is going to be effective at convincing some voters to go against Bush. When I was sitting in the theater I was thinking that eveyrone already knows about the Carlyle Group/Saudi connection and it's just going to be dismissed as old news. But maybe the American public wasn't paying attention to all of those news stories?

It even seemed like Moore had fewer factual problems in this movie than usual. I'm sure conservatives will find a few, but they won't be substantial. That's my stab at reviewing a movie. Not very good. Mostly I just wanted to let my friends know that I liked a Michael Moore movie. I'm not gonna vote for Bush now.

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:31 EST | |

GOP support staff 

From the Daily News:
With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party.

Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

-Daddy Brooklyn  08:05 EST | |

Yellowcake 

The FT reports on new evidence of Uranium smuggling in Niger. Josh Marshall says it might not be what it appears.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:52 EST | |

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Argh!! 

It's bad enough that I have to take a vacation day to protest their convention. Now the city is spending a gangload of my tax money to keep the GOP secure. If I had any reason to go to midtown, the re-routing of pedestrian traffic would piss me off too.

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:14 EST | |

It's Mac meets Onion 

Highlight:
"My hat's off to Apple. They're sending a message to the computer industry and it's 'You mess with us, and you'll be a dead mother-Shut 'cho mouth.'"


Article

-Lucky  15:04 EST | |

Friday, June 25, 2004

Sign #2,348 that the apocalypse is upon us 

TNR has a story online that quotes Dan Savage:

"As the inimitable Dan Savage, author of the sex column "Savage Love," has pointed out time and again, lovers will always have different conceptions of what is sexually exciting and what is sexually strange. An admirable partner is one who, in Savage's words, is "good, giving, and game"--someone who is open-minded, but knows when to give a hard no and respects and recognizes the same from the other. Even if these allegations are true, Ryan was at worst guilty of being a bit of a bully, and that's condemnable. But what American politician isn't a bit of a bully? It's certainly not front-page news."

Now I love and adore "Savage Love" and will read anything Savage writes, but how great is it that TNR author Christopher Hayes quotes Savage? Is it a sign that mainstream politicos are getting sane about sex?

The article itself, about the silliness of sex scandals and the media focus on the "meta-sin" is quite good in its own right, but quoting Dan Savage just lifts it to bloggy-goodness.

-Ziggy Stardust  10:58 EST | |

Dr. Frist and the Cat-Killing 

I vaguely remember this story on the radar during Lott disgrace, but the NY Observer has it in full.

-Ziggy Stardust  08:43 EST | |

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Did you know? 

Conventional wisodm has it that the volunteer armed forces are largely for those without other opportunities or marketable skills. While arguing against the draft Fred Kaplan points out that "the aptitude for U.S. military personnel now exceeds that for American civilians." (I can't figure out how to use my VCR and digital cable at the same time, but I am technologically adept enough to lift HTML source right out of Slate in order to bring Kaplan's table to ustoo.)

 

 Recruits

Civilians

Category I & II
(65th to 99th percentiles)

41 percent

36 percent

Category III 
(31st to 64th percentiles)

58 percent

34 percent

Category IV 
(10th to 30th percentiles)

1 percent

21 percent

Category V 
(bottom 10th percentile)

0 percent

9 percent


It looks funny doesn't it? Why lump categories I and II together? I assume civilians had the edge in Category I and that wouldn't have fit so nicely. It's interesting anyway. Recruits also beat out civilians in reading levels and high school graduation rates.

The most striking thing about this table: there are a lot of civilians in categories III, IV, and IV (and probably category II) that aren't so ready for the the new "knowledge economy" in the U.S.

-Daddy Brooklyn  21:33 EST | |

Stuck between a pickle and history 

The TV ad I just saw for Fahrenheit 9/11 began by defining "Fahrenheit" as "the temperature in the atmosphere at which it boils." Does this make sense? Am I not getting something? Is this supposed to make Moore more credible?

-paul  14:38 EST | |

Philosophical cans of generic nuts that people are strangely eager to see you open  

It has been remarked, most often by idiots, that "God must have a sense of humor". What is a sense of humor, and does God have it? Could He?

I ask because psychologists agree that laughing, the emotive response to humor, is based on surprise. It is very similar to the fear response. Can you be omnipotent and laugh at jokes? Know how you feel when you hear the "why did the chicken..." joke? I imagine omnipotence and jokes would intermingle with similar results. You may find the "chicken" joke unfunny for two reasons (a) you know the punchline, and (b) it wouldn't be funny if you didn't know the punchline.

I know that there are different ways that things are funny, but it usually stems from surprise or a sudden sense of harmless incongruity. I could sit and think for a while about the different ways things are funny, and what a sense of humor is, but I am interested (for reasons I am not clear on) in the thoughts of the dear reader of this blog.

Please remember: Though I am interested in your thoughts, I am more interested in them being translated into words, and arranged into sentences.

-paul  13:42 EST | |

Read any good books about Bill Clinton lately?  

News only if you don't read "Today's Papers" 

Regarding all of the news released yesterday about the official limitations on government torture, here's the key paragraph:

"While most top AQ suspects are believed to be in CIA custody, the released documents focus on interrogations by the military. The Post says the White House's top lawyer "refused to comment on techniques used by the CIA, beyond saying that they 'are lawful and do not constitute torture.'"

So, basically, this could mean that the CIA follows the Orwellian OLC memo's reasoning that torture isn't always torture (Prof. Michael Froomkin has been all over the memo--check him out).

Read more here from TP here.

P.S. Doesn't it make you feel a little better knowing that the former head of the OLC and the author of the OLC memo is now Judge ByBee of the 9th Circuit? Yeah, I thought so... and if you google him you can even look at the Federalist's Society's evite for a party.

-Ziggy Stardust  10:27 EST | |

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Very funny 

A time to relax to some of our old favorites... 

Sometime during the last six months I came across this essay, "The Pussification of the American Male," by some crazy South African cum American nut named Kim du Toit. Although I rarely read half-literate right-wing ravings, for the same reason I don't read shrill leftist garbage, or stab myself in the leg with a toothpick,* I came across Mr. du Toit's blog by accident today and I thought I'd share another fabulous (in the sense of such startling inanity as to make me giggle with fear) post on why he will not tolerate dissent on his blog.

Shorter du Toit: we have all the right answers already, so don't comment unless you agree.

And then I saw the comments. Wow. The ability, in seeming earnestness, to casually discuss using nuclear weapons on "ragheads." I'm speechless.


*Although I have on strong authority that watching someone else stab himself is high-class hilarity.

-Ziggy Stardust  20:40 EST | |

Why wasn't this on the front page? 

On page A13 of today's Washpo:

"An allegation that a high-ranking al Qaeda member was an officer in Saddam Hussein's private militia may have resulted from confusion over Iraqi names, a senior administration official said yesterday."

Keep reading the article.

-Ziggy Stardust  20:18 EST | |

Jon Stewart Makes It Very Clear 

What Bush "thinks"* about Al-Qaeda and Iraq...

Via Political Animal.

*I don't subscribe to the idea that Bush is dumb, but to hold that he thinks critically or seriously about most subjects is not really a credible position.

-Ziggy Stardust  20:04 EST | |

The numbers are in 

It was big news a few weeks ago that the State Deptartment figures on terrorist attacks, deaths, and injuries in 2003 were going to be revised upward significantly. Previously the Bush administration seized on this report as proof that their efforts in The War on Terror were working. Now the numbers are in and "global terrorism in 2003 killed or wounded more than twice as many people as the department had reported earlier." Two comments.

1. Bush has repeatedly characterized those attacking coalition soldiers as "terrorists." Now these people aren't terrorists in the usual sense and they definitely aren't the terrorists that we're worried will attack in the U.S., but they're branded as terrorists nonetheless. The State Department didn't include attacks on coalition soldiers in the report because the attacks didn't meet its definition of terror attacks. (It's not a big deal that the State Dept. and Bush have different definitions for terrorism--it's a notoriously tricky concept to define.) I'm sure that Bush will be asked about this report in a debate, something along the lines of, "How can we be winning The War on Terror if terrorists attacks/casualties/deaths are up so much?" Do you think Bush will explain away the increase in terrorism by citing attacks on coalition soldiers? Do you think anyone will call him on it?

2. The huge bombing in Istanbul last November was left out due to "a data collection and reporting error." Did they miss the thousands of newspapers the bombing was reported in? This wasn't hard data to get.

BTW: #1 would be like when Russert asked Bush about a budget deficit of $X and Bush claimed it was because of the Iraq war, even thought that spending had yet to be added in.

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:47 EST | |

Monday, June 21, 2004

Moore is our very own Limbaugh 

Christopher Hitchens, former Nation writer, current Vannity Fair columnist, and the muckraker who wrote the book turned documentary, The Trials of Henry Kissinger (which showed at Makor last year), posted a scathing review of Farenheit 9/11 on Slate.

Now I think it's a great idea to kick down Paul's door and take away his hand guns (not literally of course), so you would think that I'm Moore's target audience, but I hate-hate-hated Bowling for Columbine. All of the half-truths, lies, shoddy reasoning, and over the top imagery in BFC gave liberals a bad name. Hitchens has been a huge hawk over the past few years so he's a natural candidate to pan Moore's movie, but I imagine most of his charges are right on.

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:11 EST | |

Funny hats and robes  

In considering the decision to deny communion to abortion supporters, consider how hard it would be to pick a winner in a John Paul/Ginsberg face-off. The supreme court is near a massive die-off, one that many of us eagerly anticipated as Bush first took office. We conservative Kerry supporters desperately hope this won't happen for sometime, now.

The Church is thinking along these same lines, I would suspect. If you could replace Ginsberg with Scalia jr. and Stevens with Scalia jr. Considering how close "Roe" came to losing out a few years ago (turning on a fickle Kennedy) it was revealed in Blackman's papers, its not difficult to imagine that 4 more years of Bush could mean a victory the catholic church (and many others) have long fought for.

-paul  13:56 EST | |

Great read on Iraq 

This recommendation from TP says it all:

This Sunday's Post had a brilliant, massive occupation obit, at least for the formal part of the occupation. If you can only bear to read one story about the mistakes the U.S. has made—from hiring just 15,000 Iraqis for CPA-funded reconstruction to filling key positions with inexperienced GOPistas—this should be it.

-Daddy Brooklyn  12:29 EST | |

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Rice assigned to correct 9/11 comission's grammar? 

From Reuters via Atrios:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In publishing a report that cited no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, the Sept. 11 commission actually meant to say that Iraq had no control over the network, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said [my italics] on Friday.

As the White House strove to curb potential damage to President Bush's credibility on Iraq, his closest aide on international security denied any inconsistency between the bipartisan panel's findings and Bush's insistence that a Saddam-Qaeda relationship existed.

"What I believe the 9-11 commission was opining on was operational control, an operational relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq which we never alleged," Rice said in an interview with National Public Radio.

"The president simply outlined what we knew about what al Qaeda and Iraq had done together. Operational control to me would mean that he (Saddam) was, perhaps, directing what al Qaeda would do."

Intelligence reports of links between Saddam and the group blamed for the 2001 attacks formed a cornerstone of Bush's rationale for the invasion and occupation of the turbulent Arab country, where 833 U.S. soldiers have died after 14 months of violence.

The chairman and vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission differed with Rice's characterization of their panel's findings in separate interviews with Reuters.

"We don't think there was any relationship whatsoever having to do with 9/11. Whether al Qaeda and Saddam were cooperating on other things against the United States, we don't know," Commission Chairman Thomas Kean said.

Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said he was unaware of anyone ever claiming that Saddam had directed al Qaeda.

"The word 'control' is new," Hamilton said.

"The president talks in terms of a relationship between the two. The vice president talks in terms of a tie between the two. We talk in terms of contacts between the two," he added.

"All of those words are similar, but clearly relationship and ties suggest more than contacts."

The Sept. 11 commission's staff report said there had been contact between Iraqis and al Qaeda members including a Sudan meeting between al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officers.

But the panel concluded that Iraq never responded to a bin Laden request for help and said there was no evidence of a "collaborative relationship."

-Ben  18:54 EST | |

Abortion is bad. What about poverty, capital punishment and war? 

From the Times:

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops approved a statement on Friday on "Catholics in Political Life" that brands politicians who support abortion rights as "cooperating in evil" and leaves the door open for bishops to deny communion to such lawmakers.

This statement was approved by the overwhelming margin of 183 to 6.

The Church's hierarchy--definitely Rome and some American bishops--supports exclusionary, anachronistic and hateful dictates. Additionally, many of the church's positions--oposition to unnecessary wars and rejection of capital punishment come to mind--are admirable. I'm going to set aside moral judgements about the church's positions, and just note that their rules on contraception, divorce, pre-marital sex, masturbation, homosexuality, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, censorship (self-imposed, not the government kind), and yes, abortion, are in conflict with popular opinion in the U.S.

Read through the Vatican's treatise on human sexuality and see if you know anyone who follows these rules. Among other problems their rules would cause, the abandonment of contraception would frustrate the growing professional and political contributions that women make to our society.

Sane and compassionate people, and certainly the majority of Americans, would recommend that condom use be encouraged to help fight the crippling AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Last year the Vatican maintained incorrectly stated that "The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom" and thus condoms are ineffective in preventing HIV transmission. Given that the Vatican is full of educated, extremely intelligent, and media savvy men, it's hard to believe that the falsehood was pushed unknowingly; more likely self-righteous dogma trumped the well being of already devastated people.

The point of this Saturday afternoon post is not to pick on Catholics. Survey after survey shows that Catholics in the Global North, much like me, don't practive or believe in most of the extreme stuff foisted on them by Rome. Furthermore, Catholic charity work is absolutely awesome. The point is that it's politically impossible for a politician to loudly toe the Vatican's party line and be elected (or even be in a position to run) to any political office. If the Catholic hierarchy wants to push a political agenda in the U.S., they'll have to pick and choose their dogmas and leave out the bits that are particularly repugnant (or downright absurd) to most Americans.

So why choose abortion as the litmus test? It might be on pragmatic gounds, but even thought it's true that anti-abortion types are making progress, I don't think that four more years of Bush would end legal abortion in this country. (I quite consciously didn't say, "end abortion," because we know that ain't gonna happen)Similarly, having Kerry in office definitely won't change the state of capital punishment in the U.S. The Catholic church, quite laudably, tries hard to alleviate poverty in the U.S. and one could argue forcefully (though I won't here) that Kerry would be better for the poor and especially poor children than Bush is.

I understand that Bush is not a Catholic and therefore he's not subject to Eucharist based charges of hypocrisy, but what of the duty to avoid war that is so important to the Vatican? It seems that Bush's belligerence should draw more wrath from the bishops than Kerry's pro-choice stance. But it doesn't. And I'm puzzled. I'm not a real pundit, so I'm not obligated to answer questions that I throw out. Are Catholic leaders just natural Republicans?

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:25 EST | |

Friday, June 18, 2004

Just Kidding! 

This Rumsfeld quotations comes via Spencer Ackerman who is guest blogging for Josh Marshall (that was complicated). It's worth it to read the whole thing; here's a little sample straight from Rumsfeld:

You know, let me say one thing to follow on Pete's comment. I've been kind of following the headlines and the bullets in the television -- the big, powerful hits on torture and this type of thing that we've seen. Needless to say, I can't read all the articles, and so I'm no expert on what every person says, and I know headline writers and people dramatize things.
But in thinking about it all, and I have to be a little careful -- we know that there's still more investigations going on, and we're going to learn more information, so no one can speak with finality or definitively or conclusively at this stage. But -- and second, I have to be a little careful about what I say because of the risk of command influence. But let me just say this: I have read this -- editorials, "torture" -- and one after another. Washington Post the other day -- I forget when it was -- just a great, bold "torture."

The implication -- think of the people who read that around the world. First of all, our forces read it. And the implication is that the United States government has, in one way or another, ordered, authorized, permitted, tolerated torture. Not true. And our forces read that, and they've got to wonder, do we? And as General Pace said, we don't. The President said people will be treated humanely, and that is what the orders are. That's what the requirements are.

Now, we know that people have done some things they shouldn't do. Anyone who looks at those photographs know that. But that's quite a different thing. And that is not the implication that's out there. The implication that's out there is the United States government is engaging in torture as a matter of policy, and that's not true. Think of the second group of people who see it. All those people in the region and in Iraq and in Afghanistan, that we need their cooperation, we need their help, the people in those countries, the people in the neighboring countries, and think how unhelpful that is for them to gain the inaccurate impression that that is what's taking place.

Third, think of the people who, for whatever -- whenever -- today, tomorrow, next year -- capture an American civilian or American military personnel and will use all those headlines about torture and the impact in the world that people think that's what's taking place, and use that as an excuse to torture our people. So this is a very serious business that this country's engaged in.

Now, we're in a war, and I can understand that someone who doesn't think they're in a war or aren't in a war, sitting in an air-conditioned room someplace can decide they want to be critical of this or critical of that, or misstate that or misrepresent something else, or be fast and loose with the facts. But there's an effect to that, and I think we have to be careful. I think people ought to be accountable for that, just as we're accountable.

I was waiting for him to yell, "Just kidding!"

So if US newspapers don't report this stuff, does that mean that the rest of the world's press will fall silent? And I'm pretty sure that the U.S. government has in fact "ordered, authorized, permitted, [and] tolerated torture." Maybe it depends on what your definition of government is.

-Daddy Brooklyn  12:36 EST | |

A moment to pick in Novak 

Ah, Robert Novak. When he's not abetting treason by revealing the name of a secret agent, he's just being a jackass.
...Reagan had been dead for less than three days when one of President Bush's top advisers last Tuesday forecast to me the political fallout.

Four days later, Sen. John Kerry broke a supposed week-long moratorium on overt political campaigning by delivering the weekly Saturday Democratic radio address.
Someone check my math on this, but four plus three is seven. Counting on my fingers, Reagan died on a Saturday, so sun(1), mon(2), tue(3), wed(4), thu(5), fri(6), and sat makes seven(7). Just to be sure, I checked, and a week is still seven days. So what the hell is he talking about? Addendum: Perhaps Novak forgot that this moratorium was self-imposed by Kerry. He also conviently ignores all of the pandering and Reagan-comparing done by the Bush camp.

Moving on, Novak claims that "In kidnapping Reagan last week, Democrats obscured how tough and how conservative he was." If anything, the "kidnapping" showed how much less conservative Reagan was than our current president, and how much more respected he was on both sides of the aisle.

There's more. On Kerry's call for the government to drop the ban on stem cell research, Novak shouts
Democratic restructuring of Reagan also ignored that he, not George W. Bush, originally restricted stem-cell research. As president, Reagan prohibited working on tissues that were products of abortions.
Never mind that Reagan's ban only limited research on aborted tissue and not on, say, embryos from fertility clinics that are marked from termination anyway. Never mind that the term 'stem cell' didn't even exist when Reagan was in office.

Ok. I'm done.

-Ben  06:20 EST | |

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A bowl of strawberries and the 2004 presidential race 

In Igmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, there is a moment were the world-weary knight has lunch with a traveling actor and his family. He remarks that he will remember the brief rest from his cares: ``I will remember this hour of peace. The dusk, the bowl of wild strawberries, the bowl of milk, Joseph with his lute.''

I have thought often similarly about the harmony of politics shared between me and the other posters. A casual reader who happened upon this blog innocently looking for google search "ghb rape boot camp" may well be surprised at the vast differences in political perspective. Soon, Bush will be gone. I will again march off to a place in the republican party, and you freedom hating liberals will have your army of Lenin-bots fully operational. In any case, I will remember with fondness the time we could stand together for a presidential race.

-paul  13:15 EST | |

gone fishin' 

Or to D.C. for a conference... if you're in the area, give me a call.

-Ziggy Stardust  08:23 EST | |

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I am not an authentic american 

I was horrified to find out today that I am not an Authentic American, because I am a moderate republican. Prior to his death, I said bad things about Reagan. Like the insightful Coulter says I was motivated only by a desire to get invited to a swanky party. A party I call "passing intermediate macroeconoics".

I will come back and edit this later. Copy and save this rare collector's edition.

-paul  18:20 EST | |

Beware! Your mobile is not safe 

Now there are computer viruses for mobile phones, too. This is not suprising, since mobiles are just small computers and they have literally no protection for these things.

I wonder how soon we'll be having to pay Norton $69.99 a year to protect our cell phones.

-Ben  05:08 EST | |

Farenheit 9/11 

Interesting trivia:
Moore interviewed American contractor Nicholas Berg, who was later kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Iraq, but removed the interview from the final cut. He said that the interview would not be released to the media and dealt privately with Berg's family.

-Ben  04:59 EST | |

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Condemning Rush Limbaugh for his divorces and drug use 

Legal Fiction has criticized the condemnation of Rush Limbaugh for his, ummm..., moral laxity on the basis that socially tolerant/liberal individuals should be tolerant of the all too human failing of even the worst moral scolds. I don't think that's quite right.

Recently I've begun reading Simon Blackburn's RULING PASSIONS and I want to quote at length from the first chapter of the book:


People who moralize too readily arouse our suspicions. To be able to give somebody a bad conscience is to have a hold over them, and people like this power. They may claim quite spurious authority, from sacred traditions, or convenient pieces of text, in holy books or holy constitutions, or from inner voices. They may be hypocrites, or they may be just stupid, blind to the real complexities of situations people find themselves in, and perhaps they are glib with justifications for their own doings.


Thoughtful criticism of the moral failings of scolds is difficult, but it is important so that the willful simplifications of our moral worlds isn't successful. We need to be on guard against the Manichean ethics of those who cannot understand tragedy and weakness of the will. So to gloat at Limbaugh's difficulties (while tempting) isn't appropriate, it is important to point out when people promote moral codes that do not map onto our actual moral world.

-Ziggy Stardust  23:53 EST | |

P.J. O'Rourke 

Call this a shout-out. I love this man.

In his latest column in the July/August Atlantic, "I Agree With Me", he speaks of his political leanings:

I'm a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.


And again, speaking of Bill O'Reilly's attempts to appeal to a wide audience:

He positions himself as a populist worried about illegal aliens' getting across the border and taking our jobs. (I'm worried about illegal aliens' not getting across the border and leaving us with jobs, such as mowing the lawn and painting the house.)


Maybe conservatives aren't as bad as I thought.

-Matt  21:37 EST | |

Some thoughts on torture 

Sorry if this is random and unfocused. I am tired.

I was reviewing Mark Bowden's excellent piece 'The Dark Art of interrogation' from The Atlantic last October. It got me thinking about this whole torture business.

As pointed out in the article, inflicting severe pain without end is a paltry interrogation method. After a point, people will confess to anything you want them to, just to get the torture to stop. Even threat of physical torture might not be very effective. Faced with such excruciating pain, I imagine that many men would admit to whatever you desire.

coercion techniques are apparently far more effective. Putting the interrogee in a room and forcing him to stand or sit in awkward positions. Disrupting his sense of time and place. Sending meals in odd intervals. Apparently, by eliminating any semblance of routine from a person's life, you can confuse him. You can trick his mind into doing just about anything.

I expect that the lasting psychological impact of these coercion techniques can be so damaging as to also be considered torture.

Where do you draw the line? If an inmate in some jail somewhere has information that could prevent the deaths of many people, what is ok? You want that information. You want to save lives. You want to advance your administration's policy goals and prevent any insurgent attacks which might stall that process.

Some would argue that the individual's human rights will trump anything you might do to him in order to gain that information. I disagree. My own sense of empathy disagrees with me on this, but if human lives are in danger and you can confirm that the person before you has information needed to save those lives, I believe it is ok to do some things to convince him to give up that information. Physical torture? No. As much or more because this does not work as because it is deplorable to inflict such excruciating pain on another individual. But coercion techniques? Yes. I think this is ok, when done by someone who is schooled in some proper technique, who knows when to stop and what is effective verses what is just not nice.

This raises another question: what kind of information is it ok to get out of a person? If a person definitely knows where and when a bomb will go off, there is no question in my mind about what to do. You get the information. But what if he is just a suspected member of some organization that may or may nor be up to something? All you want is some information that may lead the person to give you more information about his group. You don't know what he might know, you just suspect that he might know something. What is ok then? The lines here are pretty blurry.

While I agree with these coercion techniques per se, I think the Bush administration and the military has messed up a lot. For one, they had inexperienced MP's doing most of the work with very little guidance. At one point, the chief intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib had no interrogation experience and no outside orders were necessary to carry out certain methods (there was a pre-approved list). Also, no one has identified what standard was used to identify those prisoners eligible for coercion. It would be cruel to do it to the entire prison population and indeed, only those in one specific area of the prison were subject. Why were they put there and subjected to these techniques? The opimist in me wants to believe there was confirmable evidence suggesting that those subjected to coercion methods at Abu Ghraib were treated as such for a reason. Knowing that the records system at the prison is horrible and that many people are 'lost' in the prison - with no record or paperwork to illustrate who they are and why they are there - leads me to be less optimistic. Piss off the wrong guard and you are going to the torture cells. That is the way I am afraid it happens. Sad.

-Ben  04:46 EST | |

Things you might have missed 

I was just thinking of what a fantastic week last week might have been to bury some bad news. So, I've scoured TP from Sunday through Saturday of last week and come up with this:

Sun 6:
NYT fronts bipartisan concern that the "numerous" investigations into abuse at Abu Ghraib are missing the bigger picture. Surprise: while the party line is "we have several investigations into this pesky torture thing and we will get to the bottom of it...," the reality is that no one investigation has the scope or power to look too deeply.

Mon 7:
WSJ piece on Bush administration legal briefs arguing that, damn the international law, treaties, etc, the president has the mandate to authorize torture if he must.

Tue 8:
Follow-ups on the Bush administration's "law need not apply" approach to torture.

Wed 9:
Kurdish leaders threaten to secede from Iraq after failing to have a provision supporting minority rights inserted into the interim Iraqi constitution. Indeed, they sent a letter to president Bush to that effect.

The marines are sending another 5,000 troops into Iraq

Thu 10:
In the wake of torture-brief-gate, the WaPo takes the gloves off . In reference to the Bush administration: "Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of 'national security.' "

Fri 11 (not only the best day to bury news generally, it was also the national day of mourning and Regan's funeral):
President Bush concedes that it is unlikely NATO will contribute troops to Iraqi security.

LA Times poll says 53% of Americans think the Iraq war "Isn't worth it" and 61% think we are "getting bogged down." However, despite the average of one car bomb and 35 to 40 attacks against U.S. forces per day this month (TP 14 June), 52% still think the US is winning.

The WSJ has it that Rumsfeld himself approved the use of drug sniffing dogs to intimidate prisoners at Gitmo

Somehow, the state department got it completely wrong in a terrorism report, saying originally that there was less terrorism last year (45% less) than in 2001 ("clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight," says Richard Armitage ). They are now revising the numbers to reflect some incidents that were not taken into account and, you know, the last two months of the year. Reportedly, last year was actually one of the worst years on record. No hard numbers are available yet.

John Kerry tried and tried and tried to convince John McCain to be his running-mate.

Oh, and Ray Charles died.

Sat 12:
Officials from Bosnia's former Serbian government admited responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre.

The bush administration might take tougher action against Sudan for all of the ethnic cleansing there, as it is becoming apparent that the country's government provided support to the death squads (it was previously asserted that they were independent militias). Tougher action might include U.S. travel bans, sanctions against individual officials, and the freezing of personal assets.

-Ben  03:58 EST | |

Sunday, June 13, 2004

the warning signs of fascism 

Count for yourself: The 14 Warning Signs of Fascism.

Afterwards, stop by Billmon and read this post.

-Ziggy Stardust  01:59 EST | |

Friday, June 11, 2004

VP etiquette  

I know that for my first post I should probably discuss some political issue and say something either brilliant or amusing (preferably both) but instead I am going to share a brief story. If the above must exist in order for the post to have worth, then consider this a shocking reflection on the administration in failing inner-city schools (of course it is about school- please.)

Today I stayed after school with six of my students. Four are young men, and while I adore them, they have a tendency to treat me as a peer, and i'm sure that what happened isn't going to help matters. At one point my vice-principal walked into the room to talk to me about something and as the boys were listening to music, he grabbed my hand and tried to get me to dance. I gracefully slipped from his grasp and went back to shuffling papers in a desperate attempt to look busy. He then asked me if i was going to the end-of-year faculty party. I said no and explained that I don't drive (I would actually rather slit my throat with a dull butter-knife than spend the evening with most of these people). He said, "Here, you tell me your address and I'll tell you what time I am picking you up." My boys are all watching now, and he looks at them and says "Yeeeh, you all should be picking up tips from me." Uncomfortable laughter from the boys. I am now ignoring him completely in the hopes that he will vanish, and with that in mind i go over to help one of the girls with their project. One of my boys asks my VP if he can drink from the VP's water bottle. The VP says, "No, I don't want your mouth on my bottle. I don't want your mouth anywhere near my bottle. I know what you've been eating." Pause. "Fish." Another pause. "Only you've been eating really old fish."

Straight up. I could not make this shit up. I would not want to.

-Jess  18:26 EST | |

Union Busting 

Some guy is trying to turn a Starbucks in New York into a union shop. I read this and I thought to myself, "What would Wal-Mart do?" In order to dispel some myths about the alleged illegality of their anti-union practices, Wal-Mart has an informative link of their website that explains what they will and won't do to discourage unions. As far as I can tell, if Wal-Mart were confronted with the situation now facing Starbucks, they would "go Kaiser Soze." Specifically, they would kill everyone in the Starbucks, customers included, and then burn it down.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:25 EST | |

Thursday, June 10, 2004

please give me free advice  

This post is surely out of type for this blog, but, uh, I don't really know what to add to that.

I am gearing up to apply to grad school. While I have numerous steep barriers to overcome, the one looming largest in my mind is a poor mark I got in a summer school class last summer. This is bad for a lot of reasons, the most biggest being that it says I'm still capable of crappy work, and, particular to certain programs, bad at math.

I feel like I need to redeem myself in the eyes of the world by taking calc 3 and getting an 'A'. The problem: I missed the boat to take it this summer, and if I take it in the fall, it will take 3 months to finish, won't even be on the transcripts I use to apply, and will bind me to this stinking hell hole [boulder] for another several months.

What would you do if, like 'quantum leap', you were me and faced with this problem?

-paul  16:56 EST | |

Qaddafi up to his old tricks? 

According to this, while opening Libya's arms to the US and the UN Security Council, Colonel Qaddafi was making plans to assassinate Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Though the result of years of contempt and dislike on Qaddafi's part, the plot came about after "the two leaders exchanged insults in open session[during an Arab League Summit last year], accusing each other of selling out to colonial powers. An indignant Prince Abdullah glared at Colonel Qaddafi and said, "Your lies precede you and your grave is in front of you."" Abdullah then apparently scuffed Qaddafi's Puma, causing him to back out of the room, throwing up signs and shouting "you gonna get your's, son, better watch out"

Here is what I imagine the US saying to Libya right now:
"Granted, this was a political assassination and might not be as deplorable as, say, blowing up a plane full of civilians, but we thought you'd changed, Libya. You said that it would be different this time and we believed you. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. Now don't ever do this again, or we might have to talk a little about re-imposing those sanctions.

Now give us some more of that sweet, sweet oil"

-Ben  15:00 EST | |

Nader is still a problem 

He's polling at 4% nationally. Do you know any Republicans who are voting for Nader? I don't, but I don't know that many Republicans either. This is from Salon today:

Nader insists his Republican backers are real. To find out more, I spent a good chunk of time over the last few weeks talking to Nader supporters in New England. I attended Nader meetups, Nader volunteer meetings, Nader campaign events and Nader press conferences. I spoke with Nader supporters who are still in high school, and Nader supporters with gray hair. I talked to people who have admired Nader since the 1960s, and others who first heard of him last year. I found Nader supporters who have voted for him multiple times, Nader supporters who have never voted, and Nader supporters who voted for Al Gore in 2000.

What I did not find, however, was a single supporter of Ralph Nader who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, or who had been planning to support Bush this year before Nader entered the race. After a while, I felt like a stymied naturalist stalking a rare species. Sure, Naderus Republicanus must exist somewhere, but it is an unusual creature, capable of eluding human observation for long stretches of time.

P.S. You have to play a stupid car ad to get a Salon day pass, but you can just start the ad and then minimzie the browser until it's done.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:03 EST | |

Could it be? 

"I never thought I'd be sitting next to an Iraqi president of a free country a year and a half ago," said Bush. "It's been a proud day for me."—NY Times, June 10

"I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world."—The Associated Press, September 22.

A proud day? If he only gets news from his "objective sources", maybe he really doesn't know what's gone in Iraq, what a joke the appointed government is, or how bad the security situation looks.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:32 EST | |

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Well, duh 

According to this, Beatles classic "Lucy in the Sky with Dimonds" may actually be about, gasp, LSD.

Strangely, Beatles song "Got to Get you Into My Life" is about marijuana.

-paul  13:33 EST | |

Making Torture Common 

From a WashPo editorial:


There is no justification, legal or moral, for the judgments made by Mr. Bush's political appointees at the Justice and Defense departments. Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of "national security."...The news that serving U.S. officials have officially endorsed principles once advanced by Augusto Pinochet brings shame on American democracy --even if it is true, as the administration maintains, that its theories have not been put into practice. Even on paper, the administration's reasoning will provide a ready excuse for dictators, especially those allied with the Bush administration, to go on torturing and killing detainees...

Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures -- which were unclassified -- established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law...What if a foreign leader were to decide that the torture of an American was needed to protect his country's security? Would Americans regard that as legal, or morally acceptable? According to the Bush administration, they should.

-Daddy Brooklyn  12:43 EST | |

Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskrit

This has been a test of Google ads and their stupidity. This is only a test.

-Matt  12:42 EST | |

So who's goin? 

After a little inconvenience and much support from the Frenchmen, Michael Moore got it done.

I was thinking about how silly this guy is at times, his over-exaggeration at least and misrepresentation of facts at worst. But then I said to myself HEY, if it gets the Bman out of office then let's show the flick all over. Then I thought that was wrong, given that I would be pissed at someone with different views who acted deceitfully to sway an election (politicians aside - that's a whole nother ball).

-Lucky  12:40 EST | |

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The dumbness of Google ads 

These are two ads typical of those that appear at the top of our blog.

"Build a Stronger America Support the RNC and the President's Compassionate Conservative agenda."

"Protect Your Family Keep your family safe on the Net with the Top Rated Internet Filter"

I know we discuss Republicans a lot--like many other bloggers--but you would think that Google, with their multi-billion dollar market valuation and Stanford Ph.Ds could design an algorithm that would give us ads that are (more) likely to be clicked on.

-Daddy Brooklyn  22:58 EST | |

Kerry Gives a good High School Commencement Speech 

Conservatism, the right way  

This week marked the passing of Ronald Reagan. Despite his accomplishments, its hard for me not to dwell on his failures as I consider my place in conservative America in 2004. Reagan did a great deal to muddle the notion of conservatism. It's strange to think that the president who helped popularized conservative thinking again was not particularly conservative in many of his policies. Those who long to follow in his foot steps are even further removed from the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, for whom Reagan was a major fundraiser and from who he borrowed many ideas used in speeches, but not in policy.


Being conservative to me means: (1) Following the bill of rights (2) keeping the government small {gov't size and gov't evil move in the same direction}(3) placing a premium on individual liberty (4) making policy guided by facts, utilitarianism and economic reason that is real (5) keeping an emergency exit to maintain these values under exceptional circumstances

I put this off because I thought it would require a lot of careful thought. People have been surprised to find out I'm a republican, and my credentials were doubted by Aubrey's roommate when I was in D.C. Oh well. If this explanation is unsatisfying, feel free to e-mail me.

-paul  11:17 EST | |

Another memo 

It's late, so I'm not going to try to write anything substantive. The article these excerpts are from appeared in the Journal yesterday.

Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The advice was part of a classified report on interrogation methods prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained in late 2002 that with conventional methods they weren't getting enough information from prisoners.

The report outlined U.S. laws and international treaties forbidding torture, and why those restrictions might be overcome by national-security considerations or legal technicalities. In a March 6, 2003, draft of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, passages were deleted as was an attachment listing specific interrogation techniques and whether Mr. Rumsfeld himself or other officials must grant permission before they could be used. The complete draft document was classified "secret" by Mr. Rumsfeld and scheduled for declassification in 2013.
...
The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture, the report argued. Civilian or military personnel accused of torture or other war crimes have several potential defenses, including the "necessity" of using such methods to extract information to head off an attack, or "superior orders," sometimes known as the Nuremberg defense: namely that the accused was acting pursuant to an order and, as the Nuremberg tribunal put it, no "moral choice was in fact possible."
...
Methods now used at Guantanamo include limiting prisoners' food, denying them clothing, subjecting them to body-cavity searches, depriving them of sleep for as much as 96 hours and shackling them in so-called stress positions, a military-intelligence official said. Although the interrogators consider the methods to be humiliating and unpleasant, they don't view them as torture, the official said.

The working-group report elaborated the Bush administration's view that the president has virtually unlimited power to wage war as he sees fit, and neither Congress, the courts nor international law can interfere. It concluded that neither the president nor anyone following his instructions was bound by the federal Torture Statute, which makes it a crime for Americans working for the government overseas to commit or attempt torture, defined as any act intended to "inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." Punishment is up to 20 years imprisonment, or a death sentence or life imprisonment if the victim dies.

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in chief authority," the report asserted. (The parenthetical comment is in the original document.) The Justice Department "concluded that it could not bring a criminal prosecution against a defendant who had acted pursuant to an exercise of the president's constitutional power," the report said. Citing confidential Justice Department opinions drafted after Sept. 11, 2001, the report advised that the executive branch of the government had "sweeping" powers to act as it sees fit because "national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress."

The lawyers concluded that the Torture Statute applied to Afghanistan but not Guantanamo, because the latter lies within the "special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and accordingly is within the United States" when applying a law that regulates only government conduct abroad.

Administration lawyers also concluded that the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 statute that allows noncitizens to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law, couldn't be invoked against the U.S. government unless it consents, and that the 1992 Torture Victims Protection Act allowed suits only against foreign officials for torture or "extrajudicial killing" and "does not apply to the conduct of U.S. agents acting under the color of law."

Nothing shocks me anymore.

-Daddy Brooklyn  00:39 EST | |

Monday, June 07, 2004

a warning to all 

Though I don't think I'm well suited for elected office, I'd say it's more likely than not that I'll work in government at some point in my life as some kind of technocrat. There's also an outside chance that I'll need a security clearance for a job or two.

Now I haven't written anything on here that I would completely disavow--a few things have been logically screwy or factually wrong--but I have written things that could be broadly construed as inflamatory. ("Daddy Brooklyn hates Republicans" is a nice example.)
This might cause me some trouble later in life given that there are many projects underway to archive the Internet. While this may be useful for historians, I'm a little worried that in 20 years a bunch of bloggers are going to be shut out of important positions in government by impertinent political muckrakers who have access to Internet archives and thus access to a lot of writings that may be defensible, but aren't exactly politically palatable.

Is anyone else a little bit worried? I'm pretty sure the CIA will comb through your blog postings before hiring you.

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:58 EST | |

locked up 

The Times reports that "320 prisoners had been released from Abu Ghraib during the day and that 3,100 remained under detention." Given that army reports presume that 70%-90% of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib are innocent, maybe they should have released 3,100 people.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:37 EST | |

Growing Up (according to Toni Morrison) 

In Sunday's NYT there is an article on commencement speeches that includes an excerpt from Toni Morrison's speech to Wellesley:
I'm sure you have been told that this is the best time of your life. It may be. But if it's true that this is the best time of your life, then you have my condolences. Because you'll want to remain here, stuck in these so-called best years, never maturing, wanting only to look, to feel and be the adolescent that whole industries are devoted to forcing you to remain...

There is nothing more satisfying, more gratifying than true adulthood. The process of becoming one is not inevitable. Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard-won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.
The comment touched a nerve because, well, in a lot of ways I think I've been trying to do just what Morrision warns of: wanting to remain who I was in college. Admittedly, college was a damn fine time with damn fine people, but it lacked a seriousness of purpose that still eludes me.

Several of the readers/posters of this blog have expressed--with varying degrees of seriousness--a desire to join the military. I believe that military service is appealing insofar as it is commitment to something (our country, your fellow soldiers) that is larger than oneself. You grow up when you make that commitment. Perhaps one of the tragedies of our generation is that so little has been asked of us, so little commitment--hell, much of my life has been one sweet, commitment-free ride.

And so I remain fundamentally unserious. Sure I am in law school and do serious-type things like read a newspaper and think about politics, but in the end my life remains primarily about me and that worries me.

-Ziggy Stardust  00:19 EST | |

Saturday, June 05, 2004

CIA 

Where can I find the latest gossip, scuttlebutt and conspiracy theories about the CIA? The two top leaders of the CIA stepped down and I want some semi-credible rumor mongering.

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:38 EST | |

Reagan and the Weekly Standard 

Minutes after Reagan's death the Weekly Standard posted FIVE stories about him on their website.

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:19 EST | |

Friday, June 04, 2004

One Helluva Night 

What would you do with $129,000? Here's what this man did. Ah, hormones and alcohol...

-Matt  16:07 EST | |

Sorry for the delay... 

But I have been nearly fatally choked by malaise this week. I will clarify my position by this weekend.

-paul  13:14 EST | |

Since some of you don't read Slate every day 

More on the schism 

This is Aubrey's friend Matt's very welcome reply to my slapdash blog post a couple of days ago. I'm assuming that "feel free to forward it on" means I can post it. Let me know if that's not true.

Paul: I'll put you on the spot again. What kind of conservative are you? I'm assuming that you're a little of V (values conservative) along with some some LG (limited government for reasons of freedom).


mark,

this is matt's reply to your blog posting today. feel free to forward it on- he would like feedback.

talk to you soon,

aubrey

________________________________

What does it ever mean to be a conservative in this
country? The way ideologies like 'liberal' and
'conservative' can morph from their roots can make it
confusing, especially in the murky waters of American
spin politics.

First, a word should be said about values, since I
think the neo-cons are just as value-driven as the
'value conservatives.' If there's anything that's
helped join right wing religious factions of the
Republican party together with former New Dealers
since the 1960's, it's the intolerance for what they
perceived as weakness and moral equivalency from the
left.

In other words, most of the vociferous conservatives
dominating our government are driven idealists. The
neo-cons, not to oversimplify what Mark said, are not
just out to remake the world in America's image. What
defines a neo-con is the belief that America should
have an idealistic and aggressive foreign policy.
Their forefathers are the Scoop Jackson Democrats who
took a hard stance against the Soviets and later
defected to the Republican Party when they felt the
Dems went soft on defense. They assert a belief about
America's unique place in the world and relish making
proclamations between right and wrong. In fact, they
are almost Wilsonian. You can count Richard Perle
among them. This is where they can bond with the
'value conservatives.'

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are more assertively
nationalistic than neo-conservative. I think Ivo
Daalder is close in this characterization, and Bush's
speeches about democratization are expedient or
subsidiary to a core agenda.

The V group is a more recent phenomenon. I would
identify them more with the evangelical group that
makes up the energetic base of the Republican party.
They've been in rising prominence with the inevitable
countermovement to the 1960's and 70's, and their
importance was discussed in that celebrated Frontline
documentary about Bush's faith. They're the ones who
responded to Reagan's revival of America as the "City
on a Hill" rhetoric, and they were happy so long as he
tossed them a few token gestures.

What changed things was 1988, when Pat Robertson upset
Bush, Sr. in Iowa. The Bush camp reorganized and
discovered that it was possible to win the election
just by rallying the evangelicals. What distinguishes
this group is not just that they vote on religious
values, but in the belief that laws should instruct
people how to live. They also share they same itching
to remake the world, but within a Christian model.

There are other conservatives who are religious and
traditional. George Will, if I remember correctly, is
a good example. But there is a different between
being a moral conservative and a radical evangelical
reformer. Look at Tom Delay, Ralph Reed, and John
Ashcroft for the contrast.

Limited government conservatives are tricky, too,
since there is a difference between being pro-business
and anti-government. The pro-business types have been
likely to vote Republicans for obvious reasons, but
Clinton also won many of them; the 90's were good for
business. When I say anti-government, however, I
mostly refer to the starve-the-beast tax cutters.
Grover Norquist and company, who spit on the ground
when they hear the name FDR, hate government
encroachment on the private sphere and generally don't
recognize public goods.

There are libertarians, who resemble more of the
classical liberal, Adam Smith mode of thinking. But
it's hard for me to swallow the premise that you can
support non-interference in the market while
redistributing wealth upwards and subsidizing rich
campaign contributors. So I don't give Bush/Cheney
the credit of being free marketers.

As for hopes of the great schism, I don't think it's
that hard to see. These groups are mostly a loose
alliance under the new big tent of the Republican
Party. The difference between this coalition and
FDR's is that I see less of a unifying incentive.
Unlike the New Deal, when even Southern Democrats
could join Massachusetts liberals, the conservative
coalition must constantly speak in different accents.
Once you realize that even Bush is struggling to
secure the right wing of his party, then you know that
it will eventually be impossible to keep everyone
happy. Fiscal moderates, internationalist and realist
foreign policy leaders, and civil libertarians can
easily sour in the face of ideological, debt ridden
leadership. What's prevented them so far is a lack of
a viable opposition party. Then again, conservatives
are more likely to hold their nose when they go vote.


I don't think we can reasonably hope for a "great" schism anytime soon. If any large sections of the Republian party cleaved off into their own party, they would cede control of government to the still united Democrats--and all of the previously mentioned groups under the Republican umbrella are clearly better with Republicans in power (maybe with the exception of the LG Libertarians).

Right now big business is just fine with the Republican party, neo-cons and Democratic Imperialists couldn't be happier*, and the Libertarian Party is too impotent to matter (they had their convention over a week ago--did anyone notice?). The best hope for a minor schism would be a popular candidate from the Constitution Party, the largest third-party in the country. This would require some major frustration on the part of religious conservatives and and I don't know if they're yet fed up with Bush's all talk and no action record on "values" issues--my ear isn't really attuned to the "Evangelical Street" so to speak.

Right now Republicans are pleasing many, throwing the right bones to the V conservatives with lots of rhetoric, and ignoring, at very little cost, the guys in Wyoming who are riled up about the Patroit Act.

*Well, maybe that's not true. They could blame Bush for screwing up their showcase democratization of Iraq.

-Daddy Brooklyn  10:11 EST | |

A good electoral vote counter... 

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

somebody find me a job! 

I am sitting at work, writing this post so I don't stand up and ask my boss what it feels like to have a severly diminished mental capacity and a failed life. More than a wordy insult, it is a dark possiblity I will face if I find myself here for much longer.

I will do almost anything (no sex industry); I just need to do it soon.

For "off the books" jobs, name your price.

-paul  15:27 EST | |

For those of you who like to think about free will 

And who doesn't, at least during the darkest of nights? So check out this new blog by a philosopher and his grad students.

Via Brian Leiter.

-Ziggy Stardust  00:34 EST | |

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

What does it mean to be a conservative these days? (in response to Paul...kind of) 

This is definitely not my original thesis, but to some it seems that contemporary political conservatives feed the base lots of rhetoric about culture wars, abortion, prayer in school, and traditional marriage, but they don't get much done here--all they really serve up is tax cuts (mostly at the upper end of the income distribution). It's debatable that conservatives aren't making progress on abortion--close inspections shows that they're pretty successfully chipping away at abortion rights, but it's pretty clear that the current administration has come up big in tax cuts but not so much in the culture war area.

I see three distinct groups in conservative America (there is some overlap obviously) that are not necessarily compatible. Off the top of my head there are:

(J) neo-cons (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.,) who want to send the military everywhere and re-make the world in our image.

(V) values conservatives whose religion dominates their political thinking and who vote mainly on abortion, prayer in school, traditional marriage, etc...

(L) limited government conservatives, but these guys break into the LM group who want lower taxes so they can keep more money (all those people in the Goldman Sachs Building across the street from me who led Republican donors come to mind) and the LG group who want more guns so they can shoot the guys from the EPA.

J and V may be for occupying other countries, but their motivations are different. Eventually V will get sick of the government always delivering for LM and spending money on J when there are problems at home. In some cases, legislation to satisfy V may anger LG. Also, bankers from LM and ranchers from LG aren't so compatible when you think about it.

Sorry for this haphazard political theorizing. The point of all of this was to ask the following questions.

1. Paul: you called youself a conservative in a previous post. What do you mean exactly? Feel free to use my categories or to make up your own.

2. Has anyone read anything interesting lately about the coming conflicts between J, V, and L and possibly more intelligent slicing and dicing of conservative Americans? I do so hope for a major schism.

Okay, I'm done working for the day. I'll be home in 15 minutes.

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:45 EST | |

If I can't see it, it can't hurt me!  

Much to my surprise and horror, an art gallery in San Francisco is closing due to harrassment over a painting depiciting torture. Via Tom Tomorrow. {who looks like an older James [last name unknown]}

-paul  16:32 EST | |

shouldn't need saying... 

...but I'm glad John McCain is saying it in the WSJ where many readers might need convincing.


There are, of course, some enemies who will never be constrained by the Geneva Conventions, and who will never permit ICRC access to captured Americans. If al Qaeda beheads kidnapped Americans, some argue, why must we be bound to treat detained members of al Qaeda humanely? When the principle of reciprocity does not apply, we must instead remember the principles by which our nation conducts its affairs. America is a nation of laws, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than those of the terrorists. We distinguish ourselves from our enemies by our treatment of our enemies. Were we to abandon the principles of wartime conduct to which we have freely committed ourselves, we would lose the moral standing that has made America unique in the world.


I'm pretty sure we alreadly lost this "moral standing".

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:07 EST | |

A conservative mag, no neo about it (still sucky) 

There was a time when I was distinctly at odds with the voices of this blog. There was no blog at the time, and Clinton was president. Between being misconstrued as threatening murder and consuming hearty doses of THC, I established myself (I like to think) as a "tolerable" conservative voice in this particular circle.

Some posters may remember when I called with glee at 2:30 am in November of 2000 to gloat over Bush's "victory". Of course, the honeymoon is over, and I am trying my darndest to file for a divorce. But, as is generally the case, a simple divorce is not going to lead to a sexual re-orientation.

I am still a conservative. I am not a "Neoconservative". I am not sure when or were this term came into being, but I imagine it started like this: you can't say "asshole" or "f#ckface" in church, so you say "whoa! Mr. Hensley is a real neoconservative".

There is a new magazine that claims to cater to types like me, with one major problem. Pat Buchanan is not the kind of "change" I was hoping for. One thing I love, though, it that the editiors of this magazine describe neoconism as a "tendancy" which it is (sociopathy), and not an "ideology" by even the most tortured definition of that word.

Like Christmas at the orphanage, I was initially delighted only to be sorely disappointed. To see some life in the conservative world not owing to the properties of black magic was very exciting. To see that it's the same old bullshit [pre-WW1 isolationism, People from the laughable New York post]is indeed disheartening.

In any case, hopefully Buchanan can be as megalomaniacal as Nader, and the cause of serious infighting in the GOP this fall. If the Republican Party is to remain in my old age [as a non-fascist party in a 2-or more party system in a free America]the Neocancer has to be cut out fast.

I thought about starting a new political party, but the best names I could come up with were (a) The American Communist Party {already taken, and badly misleading} or (b) the New Republican Party {not really creative or attention-getting}. Any thoughts, you liberal wackos (ah, that feels good)?

-paul  13:37 EST | |

Democraticly-minded: How to get "closer" to democracy? 

In today's NYT article: "President Bush on Tuesday welcomed the formation of a new Iraqi interim government, saying it brings that country ``one step closer'' to democracy."

Umm... huh?

-Ziggy Stardust  13:18 EST | |

Soliciting your opinions 

I'm back from Europe.

How many days do you think it will be before
a) someone attempts to kill Ghazi al-Yawar?
b) someone attempts to kill Ghazi al-Yawar with a car bomb?
c) someone kills Ghazi al-Yawar?

Sorry for the morbid post. I wouldn't take this job.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:36 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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