Friday, July 29, 2005

Whose Administration?

From USA Today, on the recent Iraq poll:
For the first time, a majority of Americans, 51%, say the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the reason Bush emphasized in making the case for invading. The administration's credibility on the issue has been steadily eroding since 2003.
But not the Clinton Administration? Was it the Bush Administration that prompted Congress to pass the Iraqi Liberation Act, affirming Iraq's WMD noncompliance, in 1998?

It's interesting to me to note the frustration of the media with this poll. They are pleased to report people don't trust Bush and think we're going to lose--but dammit, too many don't think Iraq was a mistake! The yellow press has a mighty row to hoe.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Back In the Saddle Again

Had not realized it was a full week since my last post.

The kitchen is being demolished and rebuilt, and I stayed away from home to escape the noise and get deep, restful sleep. At least I had five hours straight each night, at least.

I've been more active on other sites than on my own. That is because I do a lot of posting elsewhere from my workstation, which I am expected to man as often as possible on my shift. If that means Internet surfing, so be it. A generous perk. But, I hestitate to open my own site or my own email account to contamination through somebody's else's computer.

This means that many things I notice in passing on the job get ignored on this blog, because I won't send myself an email and I can't recapture the link from home.

I will make a very concerted effort to pin down the latest poll on Iraq, where yellow journalism takes note of its own pollution of the American public.

Probably tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

BFL Summer Conference

I'll edit to add the photos later.

I have been ruined by all those history seminars at the Huntington Library. I wore a suit; so did Flap; so did Bob Hertzberg. Most of the rest wore the BFL uniform of tees and shorts.

I enjoyed meeting the actual people behind the blogs. Even Irish Lass, who roots for the Foe. It turns out that IamDoubt from BodyParts once had to read my essays as one of my professors. I got a chance to assure Dafydd ap Hugh that I'm not trying to dogfight him off the Net. Really.

Scott Schmidt kept the meeting running briskly, once we moved off the blazing patio into the air-conditioned meeting room.

Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee spoke at length of his quest for critical inside information from Sacramento. At first, when he set up his site through the Bee, he enjoyed publication without critical review. The status-conscious staff at the Bee objected to Dan's possession of this unique privilege, and he was subjected to the usual editorial review.

Dan feels that a private citizen can set up a blog, get themselves placed on mailing lists from all Sacramento legislators, executives, and PACs, and through confidential email and conversation with sources, keep more current with the situation in Sacramento than most officials. The fact that this blogger would not have editors above him would not necessitate a poorer quality product.

There was an odd exchange when somebody asked Dan if this blogger could automatically print and archive these press releases. From the reaction of the Sacramento veterans in the room, I take it these communiques are most definitely not quite ready for prime time. Interesting.

Dan suggested that this blogger either seek 500 $100 contributors or 5000 $10 subscribers to fund operations independently. I asked Bob Hertzberg if he'd pay $50,000 for this sort of operation as part of a campaign, and he felt it was cheap for what it could deliver.

Dan's ideal, however, is that this blogger be beholden to none, neither campaign nor party nor corporate contributor.

Bob Hertzberg said that internet and email had brought his mayoral campaign to the brink of victory, and if he had to do it over again, he would have put more money into Internet campaigning. He is promoting BigIdeas4LA.com, where he will float themes and build a consensus of interested, experienced opinion as to a timetable ("How to improve garbage delivery in 2 years"), and then from online, direct efforts to achieve reform through the political process within the timetable.

Joseph C. Phillips received the most boisterous response of the day, when he stated his desire to serve in the Assembly but felt he could not win his district at this time. Howls from the floor, including Allan Hoffenblum and Bob Hertzberg, that he very well could. This continued, in public, the online wave of enthusiasm Joseph said he received when he first mentioned a run on his site. He promised to reconsider his options.

Ted Costa made brief comments regarding Prop. 77. He explained the problems with the various drafts as due to submitting texts to a committee for review, and filing to two separate state offices, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General. Patterico pressed him to offer copies of both drafts on his site, and he agreed that should be done. Today, Thursday, the court ruled against Ted and ordered Prop 77 off the special election ballot. He expected to engage in some legal battles this summer, and said the same situation had been faced with the recall, so I expect an appeal. Further updates should be available at his site, FairDistricts.com.

Allan Hoffenblum is the author of California Targetbook and a 40 year operator in California politics. He said the blogs currently will only sway a committed 14% of the electorate that dominates off-year elections, but will have little influence over the '86%ers' who dominate major elections. At present. But due to the extreme speed and affordability of Internet campaigning, and the increasing number of people who use the Internet regularly, bloggers will not lose their sway over the 14%ers and will only gain influence over the 86%ers. He expects this process will explode once a Party chairman commits to Internet campaigning year-round, and expects to see the cost of campaigning plummet as a result.

Addressing concerns over FEC regulation of blogs, Allan said such limitations on democracy are a regular part of politics, and the only course is to fight them head-on in a coordinated effort.

At which point we dispersed into the tropical smog. I look forward to the next conference.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Throwing the Baby Out Too

Clark Smith at Calblog gives a good roundup of links regarding Rep. Tancredo's musing that Mecca might be a good place to retaliate for a nuclear strike against the US by "extremist Muslims".

Clark thinks its a dumb statement by a smart guy, and I'd agree. Tancredo said we'd hit "holy sites"; the reporter specifically asked about Mecca. What about the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Or the "Footprints of Adam" in Sri Lanka?

If the IRA, with the help of the Republic of Ireland, nuked San Antonio, should we strike the Vatican?

It smacks too much of "Failsafe", to suggest we play mindgames by choosing indirect targets for nuclear strikes.

However...

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters says Tancredo's wrong, because we'd never kill civilians in retaliation for an attack.

And Hugh Hewitt says Tancredo's wrong, even if the Saudi Arabian government were responsible, because we don't dare upset 1.1 billion Muslims by slagging their favorite town.

I Am Doubt from Body Parts reminds us that retaliation for nuclear attacks on the US is something we thought through long ago.

I believe it was that raving xenophobe, Eisenhower, who said we'd meet nukes with nukes, and not necessarily proportionately. And the flaming reactionary, JFK, who said a nuclear attack on a NATO ally would be considered a nuclear attack on the US and would trigger the Eisenhower Doctrine.

This has been the core policy of the United States ever since. (MAD is technically the subsequent acknowledgement that the other guys would adopt the Eisenhower/Kennedy Doctrine for themselves.)

To make an operable nuclear weapon requires the support of a real government. If a nuclear weapon exploded inside the United States, we would be looking to remove a criminal regime, the same way we had to remove the Taliban. A nuclear-capable state like the Taliban.

To suggest that we'd never, ever bomb cities to do that is foolish. It depends on the enemy's depth of air defense and dispersion of nuclear facilities. The University of Chicago built a reactor under a tennis court...

To suggest we'd deliberately avoid targets with a high cultural/religious value is also foolish. We've seen the Muslim notion of sanctuary is one-sided. The faithful can visit a mosque to pray, or store arms, or direct artillery; but God smite the infidel who visits with a camera! (The only photos National Geographic can obtain of the Qaaba are taken by Muslims.)

At a time when the top brass in China is talking about nuking our West Coast if we stop the conquest of Taiwan, we definitely don't need to give the wrong impression about our resolve to retaliate thoroughly, effectively, at those directly responsible.

Monday, July 18, 2005

BFL Summer Conference i

It was a blast meeting actual bloggers from the BFL and beyond. I'll get my notes in order and post a thorough account tomorrow.

Try A Half-Pail of Molasses

France faces drought, locusts
Jul. 17, 2005 at 9:41PM
On top of a severe drought, France is fighting a plague of hundreds of thousands of locusts.
The locusts are devouring everything from crops to window-box flowers, reported the Observer.
"At the beginning they seem small, insignificant insects but they grow very quickly," said Aveyron region farmer Gerard Laussel. "They eat everything that is green, leaving only stalks, and when they have finished they leave some kind of scent so the cattle do not want to graze on what is left."
The French environment ministry said drought could be felt across most of France, but it mostly impacted from the Atlantic Ocean to Paris.
"There is nothing we can do for the 700 or 800 farmers affected," said Patrice Lemoux, an agriculture official. "The locust has no known predator and the only insecticides which might make a difference are banned."
You hear so much about French protectionism of their agribusiness. I guess that just means pieces of paper get shuffled the right way in Brussels. Apparently it doesn't translate into actual preservation of crops.

This is mindboggling. These guys are a bare three days as the locust flies from the Sahara, where locust swarms predate the wheel, and they had absolutely no contingency for a locust infestation? Just get eaten and let the banque sell the farm to fresh adventurers?

There are tacit tests for First World membership, and mastery of the insect kingdom is one of them. France just failed by default.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Am 20% Hippie

I am 20% Hippie.
So Not a Hippie.
What? Am I a Republican? Why did I even bother taken this test?! I guess I’ll back to my George W. Bush fan club and tell them I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. At least I don’t stink, man.


Hat tip to Lex Communis, who I suspect never made a tie-dye. I spilled bleach on a black tee, what else would I do? Which reminds me I do have some old tees and some bleach...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hour 30

That's how long I've been up, wrestling with a scalding hot Uninterrupted Power Supply at work. Thankfully today is an off-day.

I'll post about the conference next week, possibly by Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why Conservatives "Deny" 'Torture'

Torture is those practices and techniques which do lasting damage for the purpose of doing damage, which never have any legitimate function.

Mutilation, induced hallucination, soft-tissue injuries, organ damage are all forms of torture.

Sleep deprivation, restraint, denial of air conditioning, and many physical punishments are forms of coercion that may be justifiable.

Even when those techniques are applied illegimately, without justification, they are not torture. They are abuse.

For example, handcuffing a citizen while issuing a jaywalking citation may be abuse, depending on the situation, but it isn't torture. Sodomizing a suspect is always torture, regardless of 'context'.

Acknowledging the possibility of abuse, while denying any charge of torture, is a substantive distinction and not a semantic evasion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ultraridiculous

Independent Sources has the good word: the ultraerroneous Los Angeles Times now stands ultracorrected.

The London Independent lets us know the BBC is promoting understanding:
The BBC has re-edited some of its coverage of the London Underground and bus bombings to avoid labelling the perpetrators as "terrorists", it was disclosed yesterday.

Early reporting of the attacks on the BBC's website spoke of terrorists but the same coverage was changed to describe the attackers simply as "bombers".

The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments".

Consequently, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding" and its use should be "avoided", the guidelines say.
I've looked over the Beeb today, and they seem to totally avoid using "terrorist", but my understanding is barricaded by the value judgments implicit in words like "injured", "dead", "victims", and "outrage".

I'm left with the subconscious impression that what happened in London was a bad thing.
Is that what my understanding should be, Beeb?

What proper understanding would be clouded by the notion that the person who commits an act of "terror" (which is used) is a "terrorist"?

Seems to me that red-lining a word, appropriate in its definition but suspect in its connotation, is a bit "ultraconservative".

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fully Deserving of Jail

Drudgereport has flurries about MSM and Democrats push to get Karl Rove to resign over the Judy Plame flame.

This is why I oppose the shield law.

I don't see Rove calling Cooper and telling him its okay to sing to the grand jury, but not doing the same for Miller. If he's the source.

I don't see the NYT suddenly going on the warpath against their essential source, after bringing down a contempt charge against one of their own, and insisting to the whole world that protecting sources is the most important thing in life. If Rove's the source.

My conclusion is that Karl Rove is not the super-sensitive source for either Miller or Cooper. Which means this whole brouhaha is a disgusting attempt at character assassination.

The MSM know they've lost the legislative battle for the shield law, the judicial battle to keep the sources secret, and the public opinion battle to win a popular exemption from civic duty. They're now out to wreak as much damage before the big names are outed, as possible.

And if they had a shield law, they'd probably play out this mess another two years.

Bush should stand by Rove.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pointless London Bombings

What a senseless slaughter.

I'm struck by how incoherent the news from London seems. I learnt of the explosions some hours after they occurred, and put CNN on. They repeated the 2 killed estimate for several hours, and reported Tony Blair's statement that it was a terrorist attack as a 'claim'.

Powerlineblog.com notes George Galloway emphasized the "working-class" origins of the victims. The left-wing mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said much the same thing. American references to 'average Americans' on 9/11 was not a comment on class, but on the random destiny that befell people of all walks of life who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. At least, through their own red-tinted lens, the British Left is condemning the attacks, although Galloway blames the government for provoking it.

Our prayers for the British in their time of sorrow.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jail The Washington Two

The US Senate is aiming to pass a resolution arguing that reporters Cooper and Miller don't belong in jail, and their activities are covered by the First Amendment.

Say what??

There's a reason a grand jury is looking into the Plame name dropping: it's a crime.

There's a reason this is being handled by a special prosecutor instead of the usual federal district attorney: it's been alleged that the Bush Administration is guilty of political crime.

The New York Times can pretend that the "free flow of information" is at stake here; what's at stake is press censorship and calumny.

Denouncing a citizen of a crime carries with it the responsibility of cooperating with the authorities in investigating and prosecuting the offender. Time and the New York Times want to let the matter end with a headline. Nuts.

It's especially impossible when the citizen accused is the President of the United States.

There's a name for reckless denunciation of officials as criminals and threats to national security: McCarthyism. I'd think the Senate would be a little more sensitive about allowing it, and praising those who promote it as essential free speech.

But I feel confident that if the source of the leak turns out to be an Administration official, Democrats will suddenly see it my way, and demand the press cooperate fully with the grand jury probe.

Bear Flag League Summer Conference

Only two weeks left to get your tickets!