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2.28.2004

NYT piece on the hunt for OBL:

President Bush has approved a plan to intensify the effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, senior administration and military officials say, as a combination of better intelligence, improving weather and a refocusing of resources away from Iraq has reinvigorated the hunt along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ten paragraphs later:

Much of the timing now is driven by the weather: as winter snows melt, troops can navigate in the high mountain passes and trails where many Qaeda and Taliban members are believed to be hiding. When that moment arrived last year, many of the forces and American intelligence operatives now engaged in Afghanistan were tied up in the Iraq.

But presidential politics are also at play. Though the White House denies that Mr. Bush is letting the election influence strategy, some of his aides have privately spoken about the obvious advantages of going into the last months of the election campaign with both Mr. Hussein and Mr. bin Laden in custody.


I don't know why this isn't at the very beginning of the article. And how many times has the President "signed off" on plans like these? One would think that the first 'wanted dead or alive' swagger pretty much set the stage for all efforts. Can we all agree, now, that war in Iraq distracted us from finding OBL?


2.25.2004

amazing opinion piece on same-sex marriage from the WSJ displays a wonderful up-is-down-ism in the subhead:"federal marriage amendment would strike a blow for freedom."

the biggest, best argument here is that same-sex marriage would allow childless, tricksy gays to get the same tax benefits as hetero couples with kids who need the extra cash, thereby also depriving the government of it. i agree that folks (gay or straight) with kids deserve a bigger tax cut than folks without kids. oh wait, that's called a 'dependent.'

and hey, i thought conservatives were opposed to paying higher taxes! what's wrong with the american people keeping a little extra money in their pocket instead of sending it to the big wasteful government?

if that is the strongest argument, this one is laughably weak:

"Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don't go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.

...so, is a federal marriage amendment a 'live-and-let-live' policy?


I think this article should be retitled slightly. My suggestion (in bold text):

With election approaching, U.S. military feels renewed urgency in hunt for bin Laden


WaPo's Robert Samuelson says it's not fair to blame Bush for the lagging state of the economy. He also duly notes that
"the Bush administration is ready to claim credit for almost any good economic news."

I wonder how he feels about that? He doesn't really say. Nonetheless, there hasn't been much good news lately. And the president is backing off on his predictions of creating 2.6 million new jobs this year.

Maybe if Bush stopped saying he'd saved the economy it'd be harder to blame him for the continuing doldrums.

from the Meet The Press transcript:

"The attacks on our country affected our economy. Corporate scandals affected the confidence of people and therefore affected the economy. My decision on Iraq, this kind of march to war, affected the economy, but we have been through a lot. And what those numbers show is the fact we have been through a lot.

But what the people must understand is that instead of wondering what to do, I acted, and I acted by cutting the taxes on individuals and small businesses, primarily. And that, itself, has led to this recovery.
....
The economic stimulus plan that I passed, or I asked the Congress to pass, and I worked with Congress to pass, is making a big difference."


Although if you squint when you read it, you can almost see that Bush may actually be admitting his own personal responsibility in the continued doldrums. In the first graf, I'd give Bush credit for 2 out of 3 problems.


2.24.2004

The Onion says it best.

MA Supreme Court Orders All Citizens to Gay Marry.

"Since the allowance of gay marriage undermines heterosexual unions, we decided to work a few steps ahead and strike down opposite-sex unions altogether."

I'd post something longer but I'm off to search Google for ["Constitutional Marriage Amendment" AND "compassionate conservative"]. (As of 8pm a query on news.google.com generates about 169 results, many of them duplicates.)


2.22.2004

zomething different: zippies vs. zippies

Almost ten years after Wired published its infamous 'zippies' cover story, NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman refashions the term, writing on an recent article in Indian mag Outlook.

Zippies are this huge cohort of Indian youth who are the first to come of age since India shifted away from socialism and dived headfirst into global trade, the information revolution and turning itself into the world's service center. Outlook calls India's zippies "Liberalization's Children," and defines one as "a young city or suburban resident, between 15 and 25 years of age, with a zip in the stride.
...A growing slice of them will be able to do your white-collar job as well as you for a fraction of the pay. Indian zippies are one reason outsourcing is becoming the hot issue in this year's U.S. presidential campaign.


And the definition from the May 1994 Wired piece:

...One name stands out, maybe because it was designed to. And for the moment it's sticking: zippies. It stands for Zen-inspired professional pagans, according to 50-year-old Fraser Clark, shamanic zippie spokesperson, club manager and editor of Encyclopedia Psychedelica (EPi), the magazine that first identified the "hippies with zip." According to EPi, a zippie is "someone who has balanced their hemispheres to achieve a fusion of the technological and the spiritual."

Given a choice, I'd rather lose my job to the Indian zippies.

(Aside: as Wired contributor Gary Wolf notes, the zippies story is probably one of the top 3 worst stories Wired ever spilled ink for.)


Punk's not dead....it's exploited!

"Sam Stillman insists that for him and his friends, punk is not just playing dress-up but a way of life, a way to challenge the status quo. "Everybody makes you think if you don't go to an Ivy League school, you're going to die alone," he said not long ago en route to a show at ABC No Rio arts center on the Lower East Side. This particular evening, his Mohawk was gone. In another burst of teenage rebellion, he shaved it off before being photographed for this article."

his parents were probably thrilled that the ny times, of all bastions of normalcy, could get him to cut his mohawk off. and not to chap sam's hide, but i have it on good authority that one may indeed die alone regardless of where one attends college.

readers of a certain age who once considered referring to themselves as 'punk rock' may find said selves snorting with laughter. or nostalgically toasting their departed youth. your mileage may vary.

(nice CRASS t-shirt, btw.)


2.21.2004

I woke up feeling a tad immoral this morning, so I decided to browse through the new Dr. Laura book. I don’t see what’s so awful about it. As a married man who does all of the cooking and much of the cleaning in the house, I think her ideas are pretty sweet. See all I have to do is come home from work and say I don’t feel like a man, and my wife, if she follows the good doctor’s prescription, has to give me all the hot sex and home cooking I want. And I don’t even have to clean up afterward.


Discussions of the aWol issue usually have Michael Moore injecting the notion into the discourse. It’s true, but indirectly. Without Peter Jennings calling Wesley Clark to task in the New Hampshire debate for accepting Moore's endorsement, and the subsequent right-wing pile-on, the issue goes nowhere. At the time it seemed like PJ, in whose forlorn eyebrows the liberal media myth rests, had lost it. It seemed he was using the moment to prove that he was no shill for the lefties.

But maybe PJ was playing both sides. Maybe somewhere he’s sipping on a Molson, no, a glass of Black Velvet, and laughing to himself about all this.

He even let his network give some of the worst imaginable coverage to the story, all the better to cover himself.


Prez or Palpatine?

1. "Your friends have failed!"

2. "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, [we] will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed."

3. "If we have reason to believe someone is preparing an attack against the [Republic or U.S.], has developed that capability, harbors those aspirations, then I think the [Republic or U.S.] is justified in dealing with that, if necessary, by military force."

4. "The [Republic or Nation] is not what it once was—the Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good."

5. "That will be part of the resolution, authorization of use of force. If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force."

6. "Now witness the firepower of this fully operational battle station."

7. "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."

8. "You will pay the price for your lack of vision."

9. "Delaying a vote in [Congress or Senate] would send a message that the [Republic or U.S.] may be unprepared to take a stand, just as we are asking the [international community or universe] to take a stand."

10. "My [country or planet] will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict."

11. "I will not let this [Republic or Nation]... be split in two. My negotiations will not fail."

12. "We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind."

13. "It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy, I love the [Republic or United States of America]. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated."

14. "The [chancellor or president] is authorized to all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force."

I got eight out of 14. I think Tarkin and Cheney, Grand Moffs both, may be an even better match.


They're entering their nose-cutting-off, face-spiting phase:

No matter that Hatch has spent the past three years fighting nonstop to confirm George Bush's judicial nominees. After Hatch declared himself "mortified" by the file-stealing allegations and said he supported a formal investigation, angry GOP activists—who want to downplay down the scandal—accused him of being a weak-kneed appeaser of Democrats. The National Review's Timothy P. Carney even likened him to Neville Chamberlain.


I noticed reading the post below that the White House website calls the Hayes/Tilden election “the most disputed in American history.”

Ah, yes. The stolen election of 1876. That was the year Elijah Ebeneezer Nader, who had done great service to the nation with his book “Unsafe Even at a Trot” exposing the negligence of the carriage industry, threw the election to Hayes. I still marvel at what Tildenian America might have looked like, and how Tildenomics would have pulled the nation out of the Reconstruction doldrums.


2.18.2004

Dick Morris, contributing to Special Report with Brit Hume, said if the President is not re-elected he will be the most successful one-term president in American history, with the possible exception of James K. Polk.

With the possible exception? The size of the country nearly doubled during Polk’s single term. Now there was a man who knew how to do imperialism.

The proper ranking for our one-termer will be somewhere between fellow illegitimate Rutherford B. Hayes, and William Henry Harrison, who, as those who know the “Mediocre Presidents” song will remember, died less than a month after taking office.


recommendation: do nothing, say it's something.

it's a sad day when i'm dipping into andrew sullivan's mailbag for content, but here it is. as a san franciscan who lives very close to the Castro, it's been surreal and rather sweet to see newly-joined gay couples walking back from city hall hand-in-hand. most of the legal hoo-ha has yet to happen around mayor newsom's orchestration of same-sex marriages at city hall, but it's interesting to see conservatives compare it to judge '10 commandments' moore's statue in alabama or to the recent flap over taking the word/science of evolution out of textbooks in georgia.

while sully and his readers have been puzzling over which metaphor for this civil disobedience, a recently published snippet of reader mail starts out cogent and then goes completely inane. and yet sully is 'persuaded' by this claptrap? here's the portion that caught my eye:

The proper way for Newsom and others to have made a symbolic showing on this issue while conforming to the law would have been for thousands of gay/lesbian applicants to have appeared day after day at his office seeking marriage licenses, and for him to have publicly and reluctantly denied their individual requests. This would have three immediate results. First, enormous public relations boost for the movement in question. Second, would have created grounds for suit in state courts under the state constitution's equal protection clause, which is the proper forum for deciding if the statute in question is unconstitutional. Third, it would create an enormous disruption of other governmental business, thereby making the protest have a practical impact.

color me puzzled. if newsom had refused to allow same-sex marriage, he could have made a great 'symbolic showing' that would have...done what, exactly? the first point above is a throwaway - how would newsom's reluctant refusal have been good PR? i can't see it. the second point has legs, but there's zero need for newsom to pull some sort of stunt to stimulate a suit under the CA equal protection clause. those could be filed at any time, and hopefully they will be or are already. the third point, while perhaps true, does not tie a 'practical impact' to a 'positive impact.' i would suggest that this writer participate in SF's monthly Critical Mass bike ride to see what i'm suggesting - not all 'practical' disruptions in public space create positive PR or opinion, and in this case picketing or effectively shutting down city hall would have done nil for advancing the case for same-sex marriage. (this writer also fails to mention that city hall's daily weddings have easily jumped five-fold in the past week, and are putting a strain on resources as-is.)

i didn't vote for newsom and i can't think of what would convince me to. having him pull out my fingernails with needlenose pliers, perhaps? i'm not sure. but in this case, he's done a startling thing, as sully notes, by putting "real human faces on an otherwise abstract discussion." which has had much more impact on the national debate than the MA court decision or any other action in recent memory.



2.17.2004

snippet of the Peggy Noonan pre-Valentine's Day transcript from WaPo:

"We are living in a time -- it cannot be said enough -- when madmen with weapons that can take out a million people are roaming the earth."

another WaPo columnist notes,

"a rereading of the "Meet the Press" transcript suggests that Bush's most critical quality -- certainty -- has oozed from him like helium from a balloon. Here was a man who was continually trying to pump himself up. He used the word "dangerous" over and over again, applying it to Saddam Hussein without ever quite saying why. He repeatedly called the former dictator a "madman," which is to say that he was capable of anything. In fact, though, he was capable of very little and in recent years had attempted almost nothing."

clearly, Noonan is rubbing salve on Bush for his fumbling, theatre-of-temporizing performance with Tim Russert a week or so ago. but really, "millions of people"? methinks Noonan does Cheney's "stovepiping" or Bush's SOTU one better! pikers, they are, for merely invoking 'thousands' of deaths! as the weapons become more difficult to find, so does the potential death toll escalate.

perusing MSNBC's transcript, appears that Bush called SH a 'madman' five times and used the word 'dangerous' about the same number of times in the edited 1-hour broadcast. so, is calling a ruthless dicatator a 'dangerous madman' now enough to constitute military action, or invasion? let's hope so!

blah blah, test-post.


2.13.2004

let's call this a test.

let's pretend that while i'm waiting for my gerrymandered pizza to cool on the kitchen counter with mojave 3 on the stereo, i'm sitting in the same stupid chair i had in college ten years ago tapping away with josh marshall's post on bush's alabama vacation open in another window. and i'm wondering: is it some sort of accident that the white house decided to release many hundreds of 'surprise' documents about bush's stint in the national guard at about 6pm ET on a friday before a 3 day holiday (and let's not get started on it being Presidents Day)?

scott mcclellan was dancing as fast as he could all week long. let's hope he has a restful weekend.


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