Monthly Archives: March 2007

Voter Fraud

The Republicans’ obsession with voter fraud illustrates the contempt the Republican party has for voters. Another example that sticks out in my mind is the special election in South Dakota to replace the Republican congressman who was arrested for drunk driving and hitting someone. They pointed out that “except for” the indian reservations they had won the state, as if the indian voters were somehow subject to an asterisk.

And then there’s Ohio and Florida, but….

Correct Strategy on Funding

Bill Scher has it.

Contrary to McCain’s suggestion, setting the timetable will increase odds of success since so much of the insurgency is based on resisting permanent occupation.

Plus, McCain’s “second year Westpoint” student comment about setting withdrawal dates… I wonder what other by the book suggestions Westpoint students would have about this fucked up war!

Why They Hate California

This is genius.

When our neighbors think of “Californians” they’re thinking of Berkeley and Marin County. When Middle America thinks of California, they’re thinking of the Castro and West Hollywood. When New Yorkers think of California, they’re thinking of La Jolla and Santa Barbara. No one’s thinking of Bakersfield, Yreka, Salinas, Victorville, Stockton, El Centro, or Watts.

Honestly, I knew people hated California, but I wasn’t aware that people from other states were real–I thought you just stepped into the matrix out there.

Iraq Supplemental

Here’s what’s gonna happen.

The conference will report out a bill with some kind of withdrawal language, and the President will sign it with a “signing statement.” He will insist that the conduct of war is part of the President’s Article II powers, and therefore the language in the bill is meaningless.

As much as I hate to say it, that’s a non-trivial argument. Full-on defunding is really the only thing I can see that’s Constitutionally perfect.

DVR Strangelove Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombastic TV

It was a rationalization that started it. I was moving and my 34″ Sony Wega was heavy as a hippopotomus and and about as awkward to carry up three flights of stairs. I had just finished my closing ceremony, and after wishing away chunks of the money I had saved here and there over the years in $25 and $35 increments for couriers, flood insurance, and other miscellany putting a grand and a half on a credit card for a new TV and accessories no longer felt foolish.

I did it: the 42″ LG Plasma TV (the better to watch ice hockey on!), the mondo Comcast package (I had no other provider to choose from) and the Digital Video Recorder. I had tried taping hockey games for some time, but it was a pain, occasionally backfired, and the demands of the workaday world kept me in my office cube until well past five most days. A typical Devils game starts at 4 or 4:30 PST. Why put the game on HD only to view it on VHS?

There are signature moments in everyone’s life. You can convince yourself that the decisions that brought you to these moments are more sophisticated than those of Joe SIxpack and Jane Winecooler. Ultimately though, you are either staring at your monsterous HDTVDVR or you aren’t. My first tet-a-tet with the rectangle TV was proof positive that I was a man with a TV megaplex. I was not sure how I felt about that.

There is a common understanding that an excess of TV viewing is bad and that the “more” your television is in terms of size and definition the more of it you will watch.

I believe that at its best TV is about the equivalent of film or radio. The Sopranos or, at times, 24 are as visceral and stimulating an entertainment as a good flick. Real Time with Bill Maher packs more worthwhile commentary into an hour than NPR manages in a month. A TV broadcast of a live event — 95% of the time sports — is the only alternative to being there. Bad TV is watching nothing; that is, zapping through the channels with no purpose while snippets of sound and picture chop at your attention span and the venal catch calls of odious advertisements invade your neurons like brain lice.

After one fortnight I discovered why the DVR is so great. It eliminates Bad TV. No more waiting for the good TV to come on. No more timing meals and chores to end on the half hour. Best of all no more commercials. Just Devils hockey and a few other select choices when I am ready for them. By letting you control TV DVR liberates you from Bad TV.

Labels: TV, HD, DVR

Webb on Iraq vs. Vietnam

After a speech he gave last week at the National Press Club, [Webb] was asked about parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, and said that he must be the only guy in town who didn’t really see any: “I don’t believe there are parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. I may be one of the few people serving who still believes the Vietnam War was sustainable; it was important that South Vietnam not fall to the communists.” Whereas in Iraq, “we have tied down our troops in what I called years ago a strategic mousetrap.”

(HuffPo)

The Vietnam war was not sustainable because it had energized the entitled Baby Boom generation to become the first group of young people to mobilize politically. In a military sense, we probably could have garrisoned Saigon for a long, long time.

One problem with these discussions is mixing up hindsight with foresight. In 1973, it wasn’t clear that we would win the Cold War, or that it would ever end. (It wasn’t even clear in 1989!) One thing that should have been clear by then, though, was that in our fight against Stalinist regimes (I’m careful to use the term Stalinist because it reflects the totalitarian version of “communism,” a descriptor you wouldn’t apply to “socialist” France or Sweden) was the terrible allies we chose.

At least somebody knew we had to do better. The CIA funded Castro after Batista had the Mexicans imprison most of his guerillas, and, again later after he returned to Cuba. (Castro was a member of the anti-communist “ortodoxo” party at first.) And we finally turned our back on Diem. But at the same time we supported a whole Rogue’s gallery of tinpot dictators who weren’t Stalinist, but Fascist. Somoza, Pinochet, etc.

Minus that mistake, I think it was the right thing to do, even though they weren’t Europeans, to keep half of Korea out of the hands of Kim Il Sung and his psychopathic son. I think it would have been important to keep South Vietnam out of a similarly brutal regime–except Ho wasn’t worse than Diem!

It’s important for our generation to have a deep understanding of the Cold War. Enough so that the nuances are known to people. Because I believe that the number one mistake (of an overall successful policy) was the strange bedfellows we chose.

We are repeating that mistake in the “war on terror.” We prop up Musharraf to the point where we won’t go get bin Laden. We prop up Mubarrak, the Saud family, et al. Meanwhile, we are barely paying attention to the democratically elected governments in Lebanon and Palestine because someone with those same party names once was a suicide bomber. Imagine if we had tried to rebuild Germany not just by de-Nazification, but by denying the vote to anyone who had been a nazi!

I believe the USSR was a real threat. I believe Stalin and Mao were just as big of monsters as Hitler, if not bigger (just by sheer body count). I also believe that Iran is a real threat today. I am even less comfortable with a bunch of shiite ayatollahs on the nuclear trigger than I am with a bunch of KGB men. But if we are going to win this one, we can’t make the same mistakes.

If I was President, I would support Lebanon and Palestine (and Israel!), demand democratic reform in Saudi Arabia, get a pan-Arab force to keep some peace in Iraq, get the US troops out of there, turn up the heat on that dipshit in Pyongyang (assassinate him), and do something to get leverage over Iran.

It’s like the Bushies are trying to make the world be full of nuclear armed terrorists!

Stoller's Brain Dump

The beauty of blogging is that it is raw. You might edit a little bit, but it basically just comes out. In that regard it is very personal. Matt Stoller today went off about the Iraq war spending bill, and basically dumped his timeline of recent political history.

In a nutshell, he thinks the New Deal Dems sold out to fight the Cold War and didn’t have the nuts to shut down segregation. The result was a “national security state” that has brought us Vietnam and Iraq. That’s an interesting narrative, but his historical turning point is the Taft-Hartley Act.

To me I think this sort of typifies the glossing over of the Cold War by a lot of liberal narratives. It’s easy enough to say with 20/20 hindsight that the Soviet Union was never going to attack us or Western Europe, that the military spending and infrastructure created to stave them off was a waste, and getting into the arms race was nuts.

But I think it’s always instructive to look at how the Cold War ended. It ended when the Hungarians took down their fences, and people began to vote with their feet. Even after decades of tyranny and propaganda, people were willing to leave everything behind them to escape. It’s also tough for liberals to admit that Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were key figures in that victory, but they were. (Reagan remains the only US president to ever publicly call for a worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.)

So, the whole we sold out the poor to fight the commies theory, even if correct, might not have been such a bad trade in the long run, even for the poor. And the selling out the blacks theory? LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, after all. So, I’m not sure how that theory carries much water.

The reason it took so long to get the US out of Vietnam was simply that “peace” was not a comprehensive foreign policy at the time. It was the misidentification of the organic revolution in Vietnam with Maoist and Stalinist totalitarianism that was the problem. Hell, the Vietnamese communists even went to war to stop the most evil regime in history, the Khmer Rouge. Would we really wish to let millions of people succumb to a totalitarian, genocidal regime like that of Hitler or Stalin or Mao? As unpopular as the Korean War was at the time, it is not easy to see what the end result was for those in the North.

In other words, Vietnam was a botched, failed, and misinformed implementation of an overall sound, winning policy: containment of “communism” (by which we meant totalitarian communism).

The Iraq war has no such grounding. It is not grounded in an overall sound policy, nor in a winning one. It is not the logical extension of a 20 year historical arc serving America’s interest in promoting a bizarre yet stable world order.

It is just a vehicle for the enrichment of the few.

Dems show they know how to govern.

Let’s put aside the issue of whether or not today’s supplemental bill was principled or whether or not it will ultimately become law.

It shows that the Democrats can move the ball in their direction, can unify their notoriously single-minded groups into one larger whole, and can do so in a smart politically savvy way. In a word, they have mastered governing in only a few short weeks.

This, and the refusal to back down on oversight is a good sign. It means that the Bush agenda is dead and the decades long process of repair can begin.

Alito Roberts Scalia Kennedy Thomas

Those are 5 names that will affirm keeping Executive Office of the President from being called to testify before Congress. There will be some hair split between the President’s personal subpoena in a trivial civil matter, or in a criminal matter, rather than just “some investigation.” Clinton v. Jones and U.S. v. Nixon could also just be overruled too. One important distinction? Court-ordered subpoenas versus Congressional ones.

Of course, they might change their minds if there’s a Democrat in office.

U.S. Attorneys 2

Like I said, to me this is like getting Al Capone for tax evasion, and I’m not sure if any criminal laws have in fact been broken (except maybe conspiracy of some kind). It’s pretty clear that the backstabbing powerful people (Bud Cummins was an elector for Bush in 2000 in Arkansas) element is what makes this tick.

But what will be interesting to see is if Americans still see this as a country of laws and not as men, as they did in 1974, when all is said and done.

My guess? No one will give a shit.

Gonzo will be gone, but we won’t really be talking about this in 6 months. (One Friedman Unit.)

Out of Iraq

Dear Democrats,

If you don’t force Bush out of Iraq before he leaves office, you will not be able to blame him as much. Remember–Nixon got blamed for a lot of Vietnam even though it was LBJ’s war. No one cared when Saigon fell except for Birchers, just like no one will care when Basra becomes part of Iran, and Kurdistan is occupied by Turkey. No one says Ford lost Vietnam.

It will probably be ugly there, but we can’t do anything anymore. If Obama or whoever is president when Iraq falls apart after 10 months of this current government, it won’t either (a) be Obama’s fault, or (b) matter at all to his approval rating.

This is the most basic political argument I can think of. Of course, there’s also the fact that it’s the right thing to do.

Maybe send some of them to Afghanistan.

I'd put it this way.

Alterman:

David Brooks puts it this way: “Say what you will about President Bush, when he thinks a policy is right, like the surge, he supports it, even if it’s going to be unpopular. The Democratic leaders, accustomed to the irresponsibility of opposition, show no such guts.” Here ($).

I’d have put it this way: “Say what you will about President Bush, when he thinks a policy is right, like the escalation, he supports it, even if it’s going continue to kill thousands of people, including our soldiers, for no good reason except to excite further hatred of this country and our citizens as his policies have done so far. The Democratic leaders, accustomed to the irresponsibility of opposition, show no such delusions.”

Me: Say what you will about President Bush, when his advisers convince him a policy is right, like the escalation, he supports it, even if it’s going to be unpopular and kill thousands of people and serve no benefit to the U.S. Democratic leaders, accustomed to the responsibility of opposing his imperiousness and being defeated, cannot even corral their own members to support a token withdrawal pledge, and continue to tolerate the egomaniacal shenanigans of Joe Liebermann.

Bounty

I will personally pay $100 to whoever brings the fucking son of a bitch who did this to justice. This is an enforceable contract, which unfortunately means it doesn’t apply to peace officers.

If it were legal, I would put a price on his/her head. I’ll have to be satisfied with whatever butt rape this person ends up tolerating in prison.

Sam's Club Republicans

Time, lamenting the conservatives’ fuckups:

In a forthcoming book, conservative authors Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam identify these voters as “Sam’s Club Republicans,” who could benefit from market-friendly health-care and tax policies that are aimed at families and especially at at-home parents.

Sure, that might be their next marketing theme. Democrats hate you because you’re married and you have kids, kids that they want to teach evolution to (and, god forbid, make sure that they have acceess to health care). That will fail because there are now more unmarried people, and people with kids want education and health care for them. And “could benefit from market-friendly” is just code for industry tax breaks and more useless programs like “Health Insurance Savings Accounts” that are really just tax shelters for people like me who make more money than they deserve.

Anyway, this will be nothing more than a marketing approach. Any GOP initiated health care plan will screw patients and prop up the health care industry, because that’s who controls the GOP.

Sam’s Club Republicans are Republicans because they like guns, ATVs, NASCAR, and army shit. Make them think they’re getting health care, “market-friendly” or otherwise and they’ll just be more loyal, but they’ll still be dupes, class traitors, and poor.

Gays in the Military

Crank up the Boyz II Men, because it’s 1992!

General Pace’s comments about the “morality” of homosexuality have ignited a shitstorm about the long dormant “gays in the military” issue. Of course, there are those who are pretending that they have no anti-gay animus yet “admire” Pace’s forthrightness, and, on the other hand those who are just all over him for expressing what, unfortunately, quite a few, if not most, people actually think.

It’s of course a sad barometer of where America is on this issue, but it’s not news to anyone. We all know that the military isn’t exactly progressive; we all know that Americans still feel mostly comfortable picking on gays; and so why this is such a big issue I don’t know.

Yes, of course, the sacrifice of gay soldiers should be acknowledged, and, yes, in an ideal world this kind of overt bigotry wouldn’t exist. But if you’re under the impression that you’re going to wake up tomorrow and there will be a reversal in this policy and a sudden acceptance by this crowd of gays, then you are pretty dumb.

What’s the most sad about this kind of flap is that it carries the implication that we live in a country where things like this are subject to progress. Well, maybe that’s the it’s 1992 feeling… but it’s 2007, and hope is a joke in 2007.

U.S. Attorneys

Isn’t this sort of like putting Al Capone in jail for tax evasion?

Washington has its own rules, I guess. You can stretch the Constitution to its limits, but proceed at your own peril after mildly powerful people’s jobs.

I’m not exactly sure how I would handle a corruption case against a member of another party if I was a U.S. Attorney. If you speed it up before an election it’s political, but not doing so just to avoid looking “political” is unethical. Same problem with people in your own party. It’s a tough call.

What’s not tough is doing it differently because you get a call from a purely political member of your party asking you to do it differently for their partisan advantage. At minimum, doing so should result in disbarment. Anyway, if the politicians don’t like how you do things–something you should have plenty of time to establish before you get nominated to such a high post–they should not vote to confirm you (assuming that vote occurs).

Honestly, to me it’s less shocking that this kind of thing goes on that, say, Ken Blackwell making sure heavily Democratic precincts don’t have enough voting machines, but this is clearly against the Washington code, and it could result in big people going down.

Bush and Cheney are immune from impeachment because Clinton was impeached (and so if it was wrong to do to a Democrat, yet it’s done, it’s wrong to do it to a Republican, so don’t do it), but this time Rove might go down, and Gonzo is probably toast.

06-07 Predictions Update

So, how are my NHL predictions faring?

1. I still like my final four. Anaheim, San Jose, New Jersey, Buffalo.
2. I seriously erred picking Los Angeles and Edmonton to make the playoffs, but got the other 6 in the west. It might be too early in the East, but I’m not holding my breath for the Rangers to be back.
3. I did OK on the coaching deadpool this year, but not great.
4. There were rumors but none of those players were traded. The big names were Forsberg and Smyth.
5. Atlanta is still darkhorsing, but LA ain’t.
6. Each of those teams is still overrated. Pittsburgh simply doesn’t have enough defense and goaltending (yet) for the playoffs. They’d win the cup in 1987, but not in 2007. They wouldn’t even make the playoffs in 1997.
7. Atlanta improved a lot this year, but Columbus didn’t. Bummer.
8. Dallas, Ottawa, and Tampa didn’t downturn, but those others did.

Crosby

I was pretty convinced that Crosby was the real deal a while ago, but his recent performances have been clutch–and that’s the difference between a truly great player and a stat whore (like Jagr).

He would be well advised to shut his yap and let his play do the talking, but he’s apparently been working on that. (The oft-cited defense that he was young would work if all of those his age were yappers…)

Anyway, I think Crosby has the potential to be a super star and an ambassador for the game. But I have to wonder if transplanting him to Las Vegas or Kansas City before he is laden with Cup rings will really work, or just beat him into obscurity.

Cheney Isn't Resigning

From the HuffPo:

My prediction about Dick Cheney is one step closer to coming true. My clock gives it three weeks before his resignation letter lands on Bush’s desk. What does your clock say?

If I’m wrong that’s cool, but just asking this question is almost cutely naive. My clock says 1/21/09 at the earliest.

Style

I’ve noticed my posts have turned into Atrios/Nietzsche type snarky aphorism. I guess I’ve more or less given up arguing with people. I’m basically at the point where I think this country is screwed, at least for a while. Maybe I expected too much from the congressional Dems.

NHL Neanderthals and Troglodytes

Just asking–have any of the Figure Skating Keyboardists (FSK) made a compelling case as to why the instigator rule decreases non-fight violence? Maybe I’ve been hoodwinked by the “Troglodytes” ($10 says no hockey columnist in North America can define that word without looking) but it does seem to me that fear of getting your ass kicked might make you think twice about dirty hits.

Even the Figure Skater in Chief, Wayne Gretzky, thinks that tough guys aren’t the problem, it’s the non-tough guys trying to act tough, at least that’s what he said to TSN when asked about the Georges Laraque trade.

Anyway, they’ve used the so-called loosening of the instigator rule as “proof” that the Neanderthals have won. So, I’m just asking.

Coulter

Ultimately, liberals are going to have to discover that putting fatwas on everyone who uses the word ‘faggot’ or ‘nigger’ or the term ‘feminine vapours’ is not going to help either women or blacks or gays, and it’s not going to help get any Democrats elected, either.

At this point, Ann Coulter is like cigarettes. Everyone knows it’s poison, so if you consume it, it’s your problem.

Say what you will, but I always believed that the 1994 election had more to do with the left-wing’s totalitarian attitudes about identity politics than people would admit.

Ultimately, the right wing is able to race and gay bait because average Americans who have an innate distrust of thought police have nowhere else to go. It plants doubts in the minds of people as to whether racism exists, or is just liberal overreaction to anything that is said about anyone in any minority.

Racism, sexism, etc. definitely exist, but not in the same way as in the 1960s. There are so many meta-layers to it. I haven’t seen anyone in the MSM say they think Obama can’t be president because he’s black, but they ask the question. Then they ask whether he’s really black. It’s all very odd.

The reality is, most of white America’s “racism” is actually fear or misunderstanding of different cultures. David Brooks’s bobos might only find a fresh-out-the-ghetto black family only slightly more distasteful than a fresh-out-the-trailer redneck one. What they really want are more Rotarian breeders regardless of race. This puzzle just gets more and more complicated than a bunch of whites thinking blacks are monkeys.

And several decades of this approach haven’t solved the problem. Why don’t we try lifting real wages for everyone. My bet is that improves the lot of plenty of minorities without building the blowback resentment from rednecks.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure this post will get me my Democratic party registration card returned to me, but that’s fine.

Montreal Paper on Janssens Suspension

Depends where you play: Let’s see now – Chris Neil’s hit to the head on Chris Drury drew a suspension of exactly zero games, like most of the other head-hunting in the NHL this season. Cam Janssen’s hit on Tomas Kaberle, however, was good for a three-game suspension.

We’ve just reviewed the two hits on YouTube and if anything, the Neil hit looks worse. We would like to see suspensions in BOTH cases, but why did Neil get off and Janssen did not? Couldn’t be because Kaberle plays hockey in the Centre of the Universe, now could it?

It couldn’t be!

Figure Skating Advocates Resort to Name Calling

The Darcy Tucker Leafs and their fighting keyboardists have reacted like abused Millhouses to the Kaberle hit. Here the intrepid David Shoalts, using the power of arithmetic complains that Janssens’s three game suspension wasn’t even a “slap on the wrist” because he’ll only miss a handful of actual minutes on ice.

Of course he blithely ignores that Janssens will sacrifice pay for those games, and he is barely a non-minimum wage player.

So, I asked Mr. Shoalts the following:

Dear Mr. Shoalts:

Could you point me to any article you penned condemning similar actions by Darcy Tucker or Tie Domi? Please advise. If so, you would be one of the few in the Toronto-specific media to been singing the same tune in both regards.

To date, of course, I have received no response.

Of course many of the same typing tyrants condemned Todd Bertuzzi. But he wasn’t a Leaf. At that time, much of the condemnation revolved around the fact that Bertuzzi got treated a certain way because he was a “star player” and Steve Moore was just a jobber. (In reality, he was an enforcer, just like Janssens.)

Now, because it fits the facts, we’re getting minutes on ice comparisons. When it was Bertuzzi, who probably averaged close to 20 minutes a game, versus Moore, who maybe skated for 5 max, this kind of logic was inapt. Funny how the rules always are different for the Leafs.

The reality is that players get punished based on the injury that results, not their intent or recklessness. If Kaberle hadn’t spun into the boards, no one would be saying a thing. That’s something you can’t say about Darcy Tucker’s intentional knee to knee hits. But he seems to get away with it.

But the funny thing, the real telling thing, is that the anti-accidental violence jocksniffers never seem to make a compelling case. Indeed, Mr. Shoalts even resorts to “troglodytes”–others have referred to the nefarious pro-injury caucus as “neanderthals.”

This, of course, is the classic ad hominem. Sometimes, pointing out the deviousness of a source is worth pointing out. But it is only compelling if you have a cogent affirmative point to make on your own.

So, what to do Mr. Shoalts? Take all hitting out of the game on the theory that it would prevent all accidental (and intentional) injury?

There’s a name for that sport–it’s called figure skating. Good luck selling tickets to that.

Kaberle

Let the Toronto whine machine begin. Of course, I am sure that there are hundreds of ways that Darcy Tucker’s Tie Domi’s playoff hit in 2001 on Scott Niedermayer, or Darcy Tucker’s knee on Peca or Hecht, or etc. etc. were entirely different than this.

Extremism

The majority of Americans and I are extremists. Dirty freakin’ hippie libruls.

I disapprove of President Bush. Only 29% disagree with me.
68% of Americans and I believe America is on the wrong track.
I support universal healthcare, even if it means more taxes. Me and 62% of America.
I want out of Iraq. Now. Along with that fringe of 56%.
Abortion should be legal. I’m with 55% on that.
I, like 82% of Americans, believe global warming exists.
I’m with the 68% of dirty hippie peaceniks on Iran. No military action.
I think Bush is doing a shitty job on deficits. Me and the other 70% of tax and spend liberals.

I guess the real issue that makes me a pinko commie green blooded al qaeda sympathizer is the fact that I favor same sex marriage. Me and the terrorists are in a fringe 45 to 54 minority there.