WE WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY IN WHICH POLITICIANS ARE REPRESENTED IN THIS PROGRAMME. IT WAS NEVER OUR INTENTION TO IMPLY THAT POLITICIANS ARE WEAK-KNEED, POLITICAL TIME-SERVERS WHO ARE CONCERNED MORE WITH THEIR PERSONAL VENDETTAS AND PRIVATE POWER STRUGGLES THAN THE PROBLEMS OF GOVERNMENT, NOR TO SUGGEST AT ANY POINT THAT THEY SACRIFICE THEIR CREDIBILITY BY DENYING FREE DEBATE ON VITAL MATTERS IN THE MISTAKEN IMPRESSION THAT PARTY UNITY COMES BEFORE THE WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE THEY SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENT NOR TO IMPLY AT ANY STAGE THAT THEY ARE SQUABBLING LITTLE TOADIES WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF CONCERN FOR THE VITAL SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF TODAY. NOR INDEED DO WE INTEND THAT VIEWERS SHOULD CONSIDER THEM AS CRABBY ULCEROUS LITTLE SELF-SEEKING VERMIN WITH FURRY LEGS AND AN EXCESSIVE ADDICTION TO ALCOHOL AND CERTAIN EXPLICIT SEXUAL PRACTICES WHICH SOME PEOPLE MIGHT FIND OFFENSIVE.
WE ARE SORRY IF THIS IMPRESSION HAS COME ACROSS.
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin)
"The War Against Pornography" (11/23/1972)
Six Democratic Senators voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales for U.S. Attorney General:
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
Bill Nelson of Florida
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Ken Salazar of Colorado
Lieberman's already on my shit list -- I'll support almost anyone who goes up against him in the next primary. Whether the others end up there as well may depend on how they vote on privatizing Social Security. I have no particular interest in "purifying" the Democratic party on the basis of ideology (one dogmatic party in this country is enough), but I do think that an opposition party that doesn't stand in opposition on important issues is next to worthless.
The message that needs to get through to all elected Democrats is that at this point, given Bush's track record and the damage he's already done to this country and the world, everything Bush does is to be opposed at first blush, unless there are otherwise overwhelming reasons not to. In other words, I -- and the vast majority of other Democrats, liberals and progressives in this country, I believe -- have passed judgment on Bush, and found him guilty on all counts. Given than, all his policies are to be considered worthless until proven to be of value, using a very high standard of proof.
Those who do not adhere to some version of this standard -- general opposition and worthless until proven useful -- aren't doing what this country and the Democratic party needs and requires.
The net was buzzing with the story that there was a "do not admit list" banning certain local people -- including a city commissioner, "two high school students, a librarian, a Democratic campaign manager and several university professors" -- from attending Bush's speech in Fargo, North Dakota. Now, the Republican powers-that-be have found their scapegoat, an "overzealous volunteer" that (most unfortunately) they just can't seem to identify.
I guess we'll probably never know who did it. What a shame.
Can you say "implausible deniability"? I knew you could!
By Dave Roepke,The Forum
Published Friday, February 04, 2005
An "overzealous volunteer" created a list of 42 people to bar from attending President Bush's speech in Fargo, White House and state party officials said Thursday.
"It was the result of an overzealous volunteer," said White House spokesman Jim Morrell of the list. "We weren't aware of it here at the White House."
Republican Party officials and Morrell said they do not know the identity of the volunteer.
"I don't know if we'd ever be able to find out what overzealous volunteer it is or anything like that," said Jason Stverak, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party. "We'll talk to people and stuff, but it will be impossible."
Morrell said do-not-admit lists are not standard practice for the White House.
No one on the list was denied a ticket or entrance to Thursday's speech, Stverak said.
Despite being included in the rolls of those who were not to be admitted, Fargo City Commissioner Linda Coates walked through security gates at the Bison Sports Arena without incident shortly after 11 a.m.
With a crowd of protesters chanting "Go, Linda, go," Coates joked, "I'm shaking," as she neared the entrance.
Coates, who got her ticket from Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness, said the experience was chilling.
"I was shocked," she said. "I couldn't believe it. It was just bizarre."
Adam Hamm, chairman of the Cass County Republican Party, said he did not know anything about the list before reading about it in The Forum on Thursday.
Hamm, who helped organize volunteers for the event, said even if some of the people on the list had been considered security risks, there was a considerable police presence at the event.
"There could have been other ways to deal with that than to create this list," he said.
Besides Coates, the 42-person list includes a glass blower, university professors, the producer of a liberal radio talk show, two high-schoolers and the deputy campaign manager for Joe Satrom, the 2004 Democratic candidate for governor in North Dakota.
Many of those named in the list, which was leaked to The Forum Wednesday, joined Howard Dean's failed campaign for the 2004 Democratic nomination for president.
More than 75 percent -- 33 people -- are members of the Fargo-Moorhead Democracy for America Meetup Group, which formed in the wake of the Dean campaign.
Cara Taylor, 26, volunteered for the campaign before moving back to her native state of Maine in December.
"I didn't realize that made me dangerous," she said of her involvement in the Dean campaign.
Taylor said many friends ribbed her Thursday about being on the list.
"I've been getting a lot of e-mails from friends who didn't know I was a terrorist," she said.
While she finds the incident amusing, Taylor said it is also troubling.
"Unfortunately, this is very characteristic of what I've noticed from the Bush administration," she said.
Brian Gibson, a planner with the Metropolitan Council of Governments, said he was also involved in the Dean campaign.
"I wear it as a badge of honor," Gibson said of being included on the list. "My crime seems to be wanting fiscally responsible, socially progressive government at all levels."
Others have no connections to the Dean campaign and are not sure how they ended up on the list.
The glass blower, Jon Offutt of Fargo, said his inclusion baffles him.
"I had a Satrom sticker on my van. Not even a Kerry sticker -- a Satrom sticker," he said. "I don't know whether to feel honored or deeply troubled."
News of the list spread quickly Thursday, receiving some national media attention and ending up on numerous Web sites, such as www.michaelmoore.com and www.buzzflash.com. Coates said Thursday afternoon she was getting many calls from reporters from out-of-town publications like Harper's Magazine.
"It's been an interesting little side show with some troubling implications," she said.
Hamm said he understands why the list troubles some.
"If the role was reversed and I was on a list like that, I would be pretty upset as well," he said.
What a shock, an understanding Republican -- haven't seen one of those in a position of responsibility for a while. (But, of course, this guy's merely the head of a local county GOP organization, so it's not like he's very far up the right-wing food chain.)
State of Union address hits 5-year rating low
By Rick Kissell, Michael Learmonth
President Bush's first State of the Union address of his second term attracted 40% of the available primetime audience Wednesday night, making it the least-watched such speech in five years.
According to Nielsen estimates, the seven English-language broadcast and cable nets airing the address live (9-10:03 p.m. ET) combined for 38.32 million viewers, while Spanish-language outlets Telemundo and TeleFutura attracted an additional 1.05 million.
The combined audience of 39.37 million viewers is down nearly 10% from last year's 43.41 million and off sharply from Bush's prior two State of the Union addresses -- 62.06 million in 2003 and 51.78 million in 2002. State of the Union crowd is the smallest since President Clinton's final address in 2000 (31.48 million).
One of my correspondants provided me today with my first sighting of a new usage: "to snope," meaning to check the veracity of an urban legend, internet circular, computer virus threat, supposedly factual humorous story, rumor or other suspect information by checking with the Urban Legends Reference Pages at Snopes.com. The model is, of course, "to google," which is in widespread use in the online world, but "to snope" seems relatively new: I googled it and only got about a thousand hits (some of which were not on target).
Right after googling "snoped" I blogged it (hence this post).
IN 1897, Britain celebrated Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee with grand ceremonies, lavish parties and parades that stretched for miles. It was all in tribute to a monarch who had reigned for 60 years, but it was also a celebration of Britain's unrivaled world power and success. Never before had an empire been as wealthy or as vast, spanning a quarter of the world's population and land mass. Yet within 50 years, the British Empire would vanish.
No living memory survives to compare the speeches, parade and celebrations surrounding President Bush's inauguration with those of Queen Victoria's day. But the president's triumphal tone in his Inaugural Address was just one of a growing number of factors that evoke shades of empires past.
Today the United States is the unrivaled world leader in commerce and political and military force. As such, it faces many of the same questions that have concerned powerful nations for centuries.
Obviously, it is not destined to undergo precisely the same experience as, say, imperial Britain or the Soviet Union. But the history of great powers, particularly in the modern era, offers lessons worth considering in navigating the future.
Economists and historians have long recognized the importance of balance in a nation's spending priorities. Over time, those spending decisions help determine the trajectory of a nation's prosperity and power. A country can run into trouble, for instance, if it consumes too much in military spending and starves its economy of investment. If such a pattern continues, that country's economy won't be productive enough to support further military spending; ultimately, its military will weaken and its power will decline.
In a 1987 book, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Paul Kennedy, a history professor at Yale, formulated the concept this way: "Without a rough balance between these competing demands of defense, consumption and investment, a Great Power is unlikely to preserve its status for long."
The British Empire was crushed by its unsustainable spending on World War I and World War II. For the Soviet Union, the cold war ultimately proved too much for its planned economy to support.
Today, the United States faces its own difficult choices between the competing demands of security, consumption and investment. Abroad, the Iraq war lingers painfully while other potential conflicts loom in Iran and elsewhere. Domestically, privatization of Social Security could cost a cool $2 trillion or so. And in global commerce, the offshore threat to the labor force and competition for business profits are increasing. Up-and-coming companies based in Asia and elsewhere may one day rival even our most successful corporations. That prospect makes increased investment in research and development and in education a pressing need for the economy. Put all that against the backdrop of the country's already substantial debts, and it is clear that tough decisions need to be made.
Now for those practical lessons.
For starters, nothing lasts forever. The eventual decline of the United States in relative terms is inevitable. But managing measured change is profoundly more desirable than suffering a precipitous fall.
Niall Ferguson, a history professor at Harvard who has written at length about the British Empire, put it this way: "There's a very big difference between declining in the next five years and the next 500 years," he said. "I shouldn't think Americans would like to live through what the British did."
Avoiding a rapid decline has something to do with picking one's battles. According to Professor Ferguson, wars among near-equals can be particularly destructive. Had Britain been able to use its influence to head off World War I, its ensuing decline would have been far less abrupt. But even if avoiding war with Germany might not have been possible, it appears that Britain seriously overestimated its chances of achieving a quick strategic victory. It's a good reminder that military actions are among the most risky a nation can undertake. So far, the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, much weaker nations, are not in themselves likely to seriously injure the United States' position. But concluding the conflict in Iraq has not proved as easy as prewar estimates suggested, and opening a front in Iran or elsewhere could add significant burdens.
It goes without saying, of course, that the Neo-Imperialists of the Bush Administration will only see what they expect to be the positives of a new Pax Americana established by force of arms (if it ever can be, which is doubtful given the power given to smaller opponents by the realities of asymmentrical warfare), and never even consider that probability of negative outcomes. (Call it the "They'll throw roses" syndrome.)
The horror of living through Bush II is not just that their policies are so utterly wretched, but that they're so monumentally bad at implementing them as well. Not at putting them into effect -- that they can do. They've got reality-based Karl Rove for that. But once they push through what they're committed to doing, they have no sense at all how their estimations and analyses differ from reality.
With Bush, we've got the worst of both worlds: total deception, and total incompetence. (It's that old thing about reality biting you in the ass when you ignore it.)
Just what the world needs, incompetent neo-imperialists in control of the largest armed force anywhere on Earth. Just what we need, to be ground into the dirt and bankrupted in the process.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
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.