Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Time to change horses

Best (only?) plan so far to clean up W's unholy mess - and on MSNBC, of all places. Col. Mike Turner, who worked for CentCom during Gulf War I, starts with the obvious:
If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:
  • Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or
  • The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam.
We'll never be as safe or respected as we were before W's Oedipal Adventure, and a lot of people will never be as alive as they were, but we can do damage control. Turner lays out a good basic set of steps.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The danger of being unclearly

I'd like to spend a moment unpacking just one of the many mind-boggling things GWB produced at yesterday's press "conference":

I think the world watches America. We're an influential nation, and everybody watches what we say. And I think it's very important for the American President to mean what he says. That's why I understand that the enemy could misread what I say. That's why I try to be as clearly I can. I don't want them to be emboldened by any confusion or doubt. I don't want them to think that, well, maybe all they got to do is attack and we'll shirk our duties. See, they've been emboldened before. They have caused certain nations to withdraw from coalitions as a result of their action, such action reinforcing the ability for suiciders, for example, to effect free societies. I know that. I've seen firsthand the tactics of these killers. And so therefore, I think it's very important for all of us involved in the process not to send mixed signals.

The enemy could misread what he says? He tries to "be as clearly as he can" so the enemy won't be "emboldened by any confusion or doubt?"

I think we may have found the root of the Iraq problem here. I mean, even I can't understand this guy, and I teach freshman composition. His definition of "clarity" is as confused as his understanding of "democracy." But just for fun, let's assume he's right that the enemy needs to understand our intentions if they are to be stopped. Obviously then, his lack of clarity is the very reason for the continued attacks! The president's maladaptive syntax isn't just enraging thinking Americans who want an honest answer, it's actually emboldening the terrorists!

Watching this president speak is like watching a drunk guy try to argue his way out of a traffic ticket.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Toad up, ya'll

New material up at Toad a la Mode (for the first time in a couple of months).

For the blissfully unaware, Toad a la Mode is your one-stop shop for satire, overly-wordy humor, and pie charts, pie charts, pie charts.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Fine old families of Texas

Brad DeLong marvels:

At one time I thought that Mark McClellan would be one of the very few who would manage to get out of the Bush administration with his reputation. It's looking like I was wrong.

Why would anyone think this about any of the McClellans? My husband went to school with them, and the whole family has always been a piratical band of opportunists. Humorous anecdote: Evidently, young Scott McClellan used to harass the sister of one of my husband's friends, until she got tired of it and beat him up.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

There'll always be an England

Conspicuously absent from Sunday papers in the U.S.:

Britain to cut troop levels in Iraq
Jason Burke, chief reporter
Sunday September 19, 2004
The Observer

The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.

The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units.

By the end of October. Interesting timing. Oh, and

The forthcoming 'drawdown' of British troops in Basra has not been made public and is likely to provoke consternation in both Washington and Baghdad.

I'll say.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Poll dance

I'm hoping the three-degree doctor will weigh in on this issue soon, since it's his area of expertise. But it's pretty clear the wildly different poll results we're seeing in the presidential race are the result of wildly different methodologies - some of which seem hard to justify. Here's the gist of it, from the Left Coaster (via Atrios, naturally).

My contribution here is just to add to the general paranoia by suggesting a possible motivation for these screwy methodologies (beyond the we're-desperate-to-make-Bush-look-good rationale). To wit: The more confusion surrounding actual voter preference before the election, the harder it will be to notice, or prove, vote fraud. Get it?

Scared yet?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Leaving Beirut

Atrios notes that Roger Waters has two new songs out, and you can hear them online.

Are these the people that we should bomb

Are we so sure they mean us harm
Is this our pleasure, punishment or crime
Is this a mountain that we really want to climb
The road is hard, hard and long
Put down that two by four
This man would never turn you from his door
Oh George! Oh George!
That Texas education must have fucked you up when you were very small

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tim has a blog

Our friend Tim, who is very smart and can focus on a single topic for more than two or three paragraphs (he doesn't have kids; maybe that's why) has started a blog:

Tim Armstrong's Weblog

We're sure he will meet all your law-and-technology needs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Scared Children

Christopher Allbritton of Back to Iraq responds to those asking him to please report the "real truth" about all the great things going on in Iraq:

In the context of all this, reporting on a half-assed refurbished school or two seems a bit childish and naive, the equivalent of telling a happy story to comfort a scared child.
The inability of Americans to manage their fear, and the ability of the Bush administration to manipulate that fear, is what got us all here. There were other ways to respond to 9-11. Bush thinks we're all children, and he's reading My Pet Goat to us while World War Three gets underway.

As Robert Frost said, "The people I am most scared of are the people who are scared."

This would explain a lot

Dementia and the voter:

As swing states with large elderly populations such as Florida gear up for another presidential election, a sleeper issue has been gaining attention on medical, legal and political radar screens: Many people with advanced dementia appear to be voting in elections -- including through absentee ballot. Although there are no national statistics, two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Maybe if we ignore him

Perhaps it's just me, but listening to Kerry attack Bush over the expiring assault weapons ban today, I had this sudden awareness that I'm just tired of hearing about how bad Bush is. I mean, I think he's awful. He's so bad you can't even begin to scratch the surface, so why bother? Those of us who don't like Bush are voting for Kerry anyway. We have evil fatigue. It might be nice to just hear about the future - a bright, shiny future with no trace whatsoever of George W. Bush. I think Kerry needs to be painting a bright, hopeful, vivid, picture of a strong and safe America - a picture from which Bush is pointedly absent. Wouldn't that resonate with swing voters and avoid the "negativity" trap?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

CNN twitters its way into oblivion

Just saw Candy Crowley sitting next to some big blonde hair on CNN, and the hair was twittering that "coming up, is the press being too critical of Pres Bush?". Presumably, Candy was going to talk about it.

We were wondering where the Big Concern over Being Too Critical of the President resided when CNN and everyone else was doing 24 hour coverage of Clinton's sex life, reporting as truth anything Ken Starr's office leaked, etc. That, of course, is just good journalism, we assume.

So, when will Candy do a story on whether they were being too Uncritical of Bush as they simply repeated verbatim everthing this administration said about WMD, etc. in the lead up to our invasion of Iraq?

Just another sign that what used to be called journalism - investigating real important issues and trying to figure out what is going on (some kind of "truth") - is no longer with us. That concept nears oblivion, pushed there by the right wing scream squad and pushover media workers who wont stand up to them . Hey, "news" is so 80's. Now, "journalism" is just reporting what someone says.....and it does take so much effort to actually investigate whether their statement is actually correct. Better to just report they said it. Then we can add more blonde highlights in the dressing room.

Where's Scott?

My husband, the three-degree doctor in the family, keeps putting off learning how to use Blogger. It may be the kind of thing only someone with four degrees can do.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Max redeems himself

OK, he used to be a typesetter. I can kind of see why he'd get sucked in. Now he's using his powers for good.

My grandpa was a typesetter too, before he became a C.P.A. (the tax kind, not the imperialist kind). Family legend has it that before he was admitted as a full-fledged member of the typesetter's tribe, he was hazed. His colleagues threw a full tray of 12-point type on the floor of a dark room, locked him in, and wouldn't let him out until all the type was properly sorted - by touch. Can't say it's true, but it's a good story.

I call bullshit

So, how much electronic ink has been spilled in the last two days over the 60 Minutes documents' authenticity? Even normally sane people like Max are weighing in on this bullshit distraction. CNN, that powerhouse of reasoned reporting, solemnly informs us that "Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software." Then they go on to offer the dumbest piece of evidence possible: "She produced a nearly identical document using her computer's Microsoft Word software."

Well, that convinces me. Of course, I could also produce a fair copy of the Gutenberg Bible in MS Word too - or at least a fair copy of a fax of a photocopy, which is what Lines was working from. Clearly, the Gutenberg Bible is also a forgery.

NB: Sandra Ramsey Lines may work independently, but I doubt she votes that way. A quick Googling reveals that she has made two donations to The Wish List, a 527 raising funds for Republican women running for office (not that I think that's a bad thing to do, by the way).

So. CBS News prepares a major, much-hyped report on the President's disputed National Guard service, they get first-hand testimony on tape from Ben Barnes, and then they supplement this ground-breaking news by having someone toss together a couple of forgeries on a desktop computer? Look, it's bad enough for the mainstream media to get distracted by these shiny objects Karl Rove keeps dangling before them. The rest of us need to act like grownups, and stay on task.

Kudos to Dan Rather last night - he looked righteously pissed, and I say it's about time.

Friday, September 10, 2004

On the other hand . . .

Practical isn't everything.

How about a targeted campaign of civil disobedience? The only problem would be choosing which law to disobey. So many bad laws to choose from.

Speaking of civil disobedience, you too can be an international arms trafficker!

Todd Gitlin has a plan

Read about it in Washington Monthly.

So, politics altogether will seem to be blocked. Dropouts will multiply. In this overheated atmosphere, I would not be surprised to see outbursts of political violence the likes of which we haven't seen since the Weather Underground of the 1970s. The commitment to marginality in much of the antiglobalization movement would take on a tang of negative logic. The master argument will sound like this: What else you got, you so-called practical types?

The practical types had better be practical.

Via Cursor.

If Bush Wins

. . . or steals, the election, here are what I consider our options:

  1. Leave the country
  2. Set stuff on fire
  3. Demand impeachment
#3 probably makes the most sense, but it doesn't feel very satisfying.

What's your plan?