Thursday, April 08, 2004


Oh, one other thing, nothing new or original, just repeating what a lot of bloggers are saying:

The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone.

Harold Meyerson

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/08/2004 04:21:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE



To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

There's a time to rant and rave, to scream back at the TV, to rail against the idiocy, the incompetence, the stupidity. And there's a time to simply consume the information, to take in as much as one can, in the, probably vain, hope that there will be some glimpse of a hope of a glimmer of a possibility of a way we're going to get through this without suffering really serious harm, and doing even more damage than we've already managed to do.

I don't see it though. I see no sign of a glimpse, or a hope, or a glimmer, or a possibility, or any kind of way-out that doesn't pass us, and Iraq, through a world of pain. Whether that's clear-sighted, clear-headed thinking, or just depression, I don't know. I know that I don't have anything of any value to say about it that would be of any use to anyone else.

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

My only advice is to read the blogs (Cole, Carter, Kos, Billmon, Gilliard, Marshall, Drum, Atrios, Digby, Tapped -- these folks have valuable things to say), read the papers, watch the networks and the cable news. Things are going to develop and we, here, have little or no say about them right now.

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

Oh, and read this, from theoria on Daily Kos.

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/08/2004 02:41:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, April 05, 2004

Crystal ball: Kerry down some (and then back up a little)

As a resut of a new poll, I'm moving Ohio out of Kerry's column back into "in play".

Current count (270 needed):

KERRY: 241 (168 safe + FL-27, IA-7, ME-4, MI-17, OR-7, WA-11) - down 20 from 4/2

BUSH: 186 (148 safe + AZ-10, AR-6, LA-9, VA-13) - no change from 4/2

IN PLAY: 111 (CO-9, MN-10, MO-11, NV-5, NH-4, NM-5, OH-20, PA-21, TN-11, WV-5, WI-10) - up 20 from 4/2

(A new poll in Michigan keeps that state in Kerry's column.)

Update (4/6): Another new poll, this one in Minnesota, provokes another change. I'm moving that state into Kerry's column:

KERRY: 251 (168 safe + FL-27, IA-7, ME-4, MI-17, MN-10, OR-7, WA-11) - up 10 from 4/5

BUSH: 186 (148 safe + AZ-10, AR-6, LA-9, VA-13) - no change from 4/5

IN PLAY: 101 (CO-9, MO-11, NV-5, NH-4, NM-5, OH-20, PA-21, TN-11, WV-5, WI-10) - down 10 from 4/5

Just to be clear, it's not my intention to move states around every time a new poll comes out, but some of them seem so precariously balanced that new information is invariably going to provoke a change. In the case of Minnesota, I was carrying it as "in play" despite a Rasmussen poll which showed Kerry ahead, but inside the margin or error. This latest poll, from the Star-Tribune has Kerry ahead by such a significant amount (50-38 with a margin of error of 4.1) that I thought it was appropriate to move the state.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/05/2004 03:54:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The small fry get caught in the net, but the leviathan passes by unnoticed

In trying to answer the question "Is this presidential election campaign being covered any differently, or any better, than past campaigns?", Susan Q. Stranahan makes this statement on CJR's Campaign Desk:

While there are seven months to go before the initial vote is tallied, there has already been plenty of election sturm und drang, first from the contentious Democratic primaries and then throughout March from the hit-the-ground-running attack dogs of both the Kerry and the Bush camps. [Emphasis added -- Ed]

Whatever is Stranahan talking about? Contentious? This year's Democratic primaries have been the least contentious in my memory, and the Democratic party is more united than I've ever seen it, all on account of Bush, whose sins pale before any intramural disagreements within the party.

It's odd that such a comment, lacking any real historical perspective, should lead off an article which attempts to weigh the current coverage against that of previous campaigns. Stranahan does provide a lot of background, but ultimately fails to provide any kind of answer to her own question.

Ultimately, I think the problem is that sites like The Campaign Desk, Annenberg's FactCheck and Spinsanity, which try to remain as objective as possible and examine the shortcomings of both sides, while very useful to some extent, have become part of the "Gotcha!" culture that permeates politics, and which has lead us to a situation where every politician, pundit and public person is expected to have lead a pure, unblemished and blameless life, an expectation which is, of course, impossible to live up to, human nature being what it is.

"Gotcha" politics pumps up small peccadilloes and personal failing to the level of great moral and ethical failures, which they are not, and blinds us to the fact that the quality of a transgression is its most important aspect. The apotheosis of contemporary "Gotcha" politics was the right-wings attempt to force Bill Clinton from office over his personal failure to keep his sex life neat and tidy.

Pointing out small failures and mistakes is useful, as I said, but it rather assumes that all parties are playing by the same rules, which is most certainly not the case with the Bush administration. Certainly, their advertising and public pronouncements can be (and should be) scrutinized for errors, but making this the only emphasis misses the big picture, which is that while normative political behavior is to bend and stretch the truth as much as possible while still adhering to the primacy of factual reality, the Bush people are practicing a concerted program of disseminating The Big Lie, of asserting, vigourously and aggresively, that up is down and black is white, and against that kind of behavior the watchdog sites are helpless, because they can never step back far enough from the immediacy of the fray to see that they're being played at a much higher and much more serious level.

(For specific examples of the Big Lie in action, keep an eye on Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo where he frequently notes instances of Bush's "topsy-turvy world" in action.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/05/2004 03:09:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Who are you?

Take this test to see which New York Times op-ed columnist you are.

Apparently, I'm Maureen Dowd:

You are Maureen Dowd! You like to give people silly nicknames and write in really short, non sequitur paragraphs. You're the most playful of the columnists and a rock-ribbed liberal, but are often accused of being too flamboyant and frivolous. You tend to focus on style over substance, personality over politics. But your heart is in the right place. Plus, you are a total fox.

but there were a number of questions I hesitated on, so I took it again, and guess what?:

You are Thomas L. Friedman! You're the foreign affairs expert. You're liberal on most issues, except you're a leading voice in the pro-war movement. You're probably the most popular columnist at the Times, but probably because you play both sides of the Iraq issue and relish your devotion to what you call "fanatical moderatism." You sure can write, but you could work on your sense of humor.

But I don't want to be either Dowd or Friedman, so I took it again and carefully answered every question with one goal in mind, and, YES!

You are Paul Krugman! You're a brilliant economist with a knack for both making sense of the current economic situation and exposing the Bush administration's lies about it. You somehow came out as the best anti-war writer on the Op-Ed staff. Other economists hate your guts for selling out to the liberals. To hell with 'em.

Great test, very accurate and discerning.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/05/2004 12:42:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, April 04, 2004

5,000 visits

As the saying goes, "Give the people what they want, and they'll beat a path to your door." Which, perversely, probably explains why it's taken 7 long months for unfutz to reach the 5,000 visit mark.

I'd love to say that it doesn't matter, that I'm just writing for the sake of expressing my thoughts (and cutting down on the amount I scream back at TV news programs), and that it makes no difference to me if people are reading or not. But, as much as I hate to admit it, it does matter, and it's a source of disappointment to me that more people don't come here, and that more of those that I do manage to lure onto the site don't seem to come back again.

Partly, I guess, it's a problem of being in a crowded marketplace: there are a lot of very good liberal/left blogs (which, come to think of it, really is a blessing), so many that I don't have time to keep up with them myself, and therefore I only go regularly to those few that seem to me to be the best of the best, the ones that appeal to me the most. I imagine many people are in the same position as I am, and if a blog doesn't have the right whatever to attract them, they have many other choices avaiable to them where they can try to find it.

That means, looking at it from a standpoint of marketing, that I need to actively position myself in some distinctive way to make unfutz stand out from the crowd, but even though I recognize the truth of that, I still have just enough of the spirit of the 60s in me to say "Screw that, I don't want to engage in an exercise in marketing, I just want to write whatever I feel like writing." And that means that I live with the low rates of visiting, and keep trying to suppress my envy at other sites which do (much) better.

But, that's all very negative, and unfair to those who have been visiting regularly. I used to refer to my two dozen regular readers, but I think I've reached the point where I can number them as at least three dozen, which, when you think about it, is a 50% improvement in the course of just a few months! I thank all of you who do stop by regularly, or semi-regularly, and hope that you'll all continue to do so as I work out, day by day, what it is that I'm about here. My only request is that those who are here on a repeat basis might think about dropping a comment now and then, just so I know that someone's out there.

I'll try not to publicly indulge in this particularly obsession again until we reach 10,000 visits.

Postscript: I'm not blind to the possibility, maybe even the probability, that people aren't flocking here because the contents of the site just isn't good enough, for which there is no one to blame for myself -- but I don't plan on beating myself up because of it. At the very least, I write what I think, and I believe that what I think has value, to myself if no one else.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2004 11:57:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Daily Kos down?

Speaking of coincidences, five or six hours ago, Kos of Daily Kos posted an entry in which he said to those trying to hurt his site by organizing a boycott (in retaliation for his emotional comments about the mercenaries who died in Fallujah) "Bring it on!", daring them to do their best.

Now, his site seems to be down completely, just a blank space.

Coincidence? Is the site down for repairs, or has it been hit by a hacker attack?

Update: I've looked at the comments areas of Daily Kos alumni Billmon and Steve Gilliard, and posted my concerns there (and have done the same on Kevin Drum's site and elsewhere), and I've also sent out some e-mails to those people and to Kos's business partner, Jerome Armstrong (who runs the newly re-opened MyDD), but (I assume due to the lateness of the hour) no one's reported anything. Or, it could simply be something very wrong with my system, and I've been inadvertantly crying wolf.

I probably won't know anything until tomorrow.

My concern is not only for Daily Kos, which is an excellent site, very informative and generally extremely rational, but because if this is the result of an attack, and not simply an anomaly on my system or an unrelated outage on dKos, then we're all of us vulnerable to this kind of retribution should we say anything that gets the wrong people pissed off.

Talk about your "chilling effect".

Update: A commenter on Political Animal reported getting a "Site down for maintenance" when trying to post a comment on Daily Kos earlier tonight, and then, later, the same blank white screen I'm getting. I don't recall Kos writing about any planned maintenance.

Also, I tried to navigate to a specific URL instead of to the main address, and I got a 404 "Not found on this server" error message.

Update: Jerome Armstrong says, in an e-mail, that he thinks the site is down because of a "migration", presumably to a new server. I hope that's the case, even though if it is, it will tend to make me look like an alarmist idiot.

Update Daily Kos is back up:

Sorry about the brief downtime. It was not a vast right-wing conspiracy, merely a server administration error during the changeover.

Obviously, my paranoia got the better of me.

Actually, if the whole thing had gone as planned, there never would have been that white-page scare. There was a page up on the old server explaining what was going on, and in theory you'd get that page until the DNS switched, and then the new site would be live. What actually happened was that you go the explanation page until the DNS switched, and then the new site wasn't there.

Should this situation, or one like it, arise again, we will make a regular post about it first if we can. Live and learn, I guess.


[Note: I retroactively put in some links that I couldn't access while the site was down. -- Ed]

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2004 04:15:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Those March job figures

In general, economic issues baffle me, so I have to rely on the work of others to understand what's going on. Three analyses of the March job figures report that I found helpful came from World on Fire, Billmon, and Job Watch.

I've asked, and I'm assured that it would be extremely difficult to "cook the books" and fiddle with the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers -- my suspicions being raised by the fact that 306,000 new jobs was the goal and 308,000 new jobs were reported, which seems pretty damn convenient for Bush. But even if the numbers are accurate, it seems from what I'm reading unlikely that the March figure is a harbinger of a sustained upturn in jobs, since so many ancilliary indicators point the other way. In addition, Bush has put us so deeply into the hole with jobs lost, that a single good month barely makes a dent in the problem.

But, of course, he does get to reap the benefit of the positive press the numbers will get, because the media can't seem to wrap itself around the notion that information doesn't exist in a vacuum, it needs to be put into proper context to be understood. Without that context, the history of what's occured, 306,000 new jobs sounds pretty damn good. With it, it's just a drop in the bucket, and the bucket is probably still leaking, since nothing's been done to repair it.

(More tax cuts, anyone?)

What's the quote about hammers and nails?

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.
Abraham Harold Maslow
The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance (1966)

Bush & Company's ideologically-related blindness only allows them to see one tool in the economic toolbox available to them, and they use it whenever they see a nail.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2004 03:56:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Terrorism in Texas? How would we know?

Is there really no connection between this:

March 26, 2004
Refineries taking appropriate safety measures
Monica Perin
Houston Business Journal

Houston-area and Gulf Coast oil refineries and pipelines have heightened their security this week in response to an FBI warning that al-Qaida may be planning terrorist activities here in a bid to influence the presidential election.

Plant officials in the Houston region, home to four of the nation's 10 largest refining facilities, said Thursday they are taking appropriate measures in response to the FBI advisory that oil refineries in Texas may be targeted for terrorist attacks, the Associated Press reported.

Government officials are meeting with industry representatives in Washington today to discuss tighter security precautions

"The FBI has received uncorroborated information that al-Qaida plans to blow up oil pipelines and refineries in Texas in an effort to affect the outcome of the presidential election," Rick Hagar, a spokesman for the East Harris County Manufacturers Association, a group that represents 125 area petrochemical facilities near the Houston Ship Channel, told the AP.

Bob Doguim, an FBI Houston office spokesman, told The Baytown Sun that the alleged threat came from a single source and it could take place sometime between now and the election.

Doguim said the agency's Houston office has been meeting with local law enforcement agencies and oil refineries.

But Bill Carter, FBI spokesman in Washington, emphasized that the information on Texas is in the same category as an estimated 7,000 alerts sent from the FBI to state and local authorities in the past year, according to AP.

"We are giving out information that there is a potential threat to oil and gas and pipelines," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, chief of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council. [...]

and this:

BP explosion puts city on edge

By Michael Clements and T.J. Aulds
Texas City Sun

Published March 31, 2004

TEXAS CITY — A furnace at the BP Refinery in Texas City burst into flames Tuesday night. No injuries or deaths were reported in the blaze that lit up the Gulf Coast sky.

Bruce Clawson, the city’s emergency management director, said the furnace exploded around 6:30 p.m. He said the fire was fueled by Naptha, a petroleum feed stock used at the refinery. He said that after two head counts, BP had accounted for all its personnel.

The city was placed under Level 4 alert and a shelter in place warning and roads leading to the plant were blocked. The shelter in place warning and roadblocks were lifted by 9 p.m.

The Industrial Mutual Aid System was implemented around 7 p.m. Under that system industrial and public firefighters are called upon for assistance.

"Every piece of fire fighting equipment in the area is here right now," Clawson said at around 8:45 p.m.

BP spokesman Annie Smith confirmed that all workers had been accounted for and that no injuries were reported.

Marti Snyder, another BP spokesman said that as of 10:30 p.m. the fire was "pretty much under control" and close to out. She said an investigation team will begin its work today to find the cause of the blast and fire.

Regulatory agencies will also conduct investigations.

The situation was downgraded to a Level 1 around 10:45 p.m.

After recent reports that refineries in this area might be targeted by terrorists, Clawson said there was some concern. However, he said that at this time there is no evidence of that.

"That was one of our first concerns," Clawson said. "But there is no indication of that, none at all."

Residents in the city were a bit on edge when the incident first took place. [...]

Of course, there's no necessity for there to be a connection, it could very well be a coincidence, but the timing seems suspicious.

The problem is, if the FBI or Homeland Security was to find out that the explosion was a terrorist attack, would the Bush administration allow them to tell the public? All in all, wouldn't it be best for Bush to keep our fear of attack very high, while suppressing reports of any actual attacks whenever possible, because a successful attack would look very bad for their efforts at preventing terrorism, while continuing fear of attack encourages people not to make any change in the government.

Ed Fitzgerald | 4/04/2004 03:10:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
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Here I am...
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03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
2005 koufax awards


Carpetbagger Report
*Crooks and Liars*
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2004 koufax winners
2003 koufax award
"best blog" nominees
the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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