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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, April 30, 2004

Another example of "It's OK if You're a Republican"
(but not if you're Republican Guard)
(with bonus additional rant!)

I called him "the Whopper" for a long time because he's a friggin' liar. Karen Hughes gives him a run for the money, though, lately, but even so, the man seems to have no clear sense of what actually comes out of his mouth. I remember being livid that he could say, in front of Kofi Annan!, that Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in, and that's why we invaded. And today, some more stuff that I just could not make up even if I were more paranoid than I am:
PRESIDENT BUSH: A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier, saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we'd accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein. And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.
Now, we know that the Whopper gets his news from "people who don't editorialize," rather than, you know, news sources, so it might not have come as a surprise that he didn't know that U.S. troops have been caught running torture chambers and rape rooms or that there are more than a thousand Iraqis in graves from U.S. action just this month.

But no! The Whopper actually knows about the rape rooms and torture chambers, because just minutes after saying there are none in Iraq anymore, he is faced with a question from a reporter about the torture. "I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated. Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. And so I--I didn't like it one bit."

It would make my head explode, if I had that kind of cognitive dissonance going on.

(To be fair, U.K. troops may be torturing as well--but these allegations have been being made for nearly a year now!)

And, because he can't just screw up once, he says this:
There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily--are a different color than white can self-govern.
First of all, I guess we should be glad that the Whopper was standing next to Fellow White Man Paul Martin of Canada when he said that, instead of, say, the aforementioned Kofi Annan. Or any one of the leaders from just about any other country in the world.

And where the hell does he get off implying, anyway, that this is a white country? This is how you know he's not really from Texas. You run into far fewer non-whites at Andover* and Yale, and in the Texas Air National Guard (or at your apartment building full or ambitious secretaries, or on your trips to pick up South American "tropical plants" <cough>coke</cough>, or working for white federal candidates in the south) since minorities disproportinately went to Viet Nam instead of the Guard--fewer strings to pull, don't you know. (* In the 1960s, anyway. Dscount the picture there on the homepage.) Combine that with the clearly phony accent, and the campaign-prop ranch, and you've got a huge chunk of lie carved into the Whopper's very biography.

Anyway, I'm rambling (as is my wont). I'm hungry, it's been a long, gray day, and the leader of the god-damned free world can't find an intelligent thought in his head with a flashlight, both hands, and Dick Cheney pulling the strings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Terrorists: Criminals or Soldiers?

In addition to All Things Considered (just below), I caught the last six or eight seconds of Talk of the Nation on the drive home this afternoon. One of the guests was Adam Charnes, who was a lackey in the Ashcroft DOJ and a former clerk for Justice Kennedy. From the little bit I heard, it sounded like he was responsible for taking the Bush Administration's side in the discussion about today's Supreme Court case featuring American citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi. Bush declared the two "enemy combatants" and that, I guess, voids the warranty: No attorneys, no rights, no nothing while they await, in Kafka-esque limbo, whatever legal proceedings are going to happen. Charnes said something, though, that got me thinking.

One of the closer-to-legit reasons the Bush team plays "Blame the Clenis™" is that the Clinton Administration saw terrorism, especially threats of terror attacks within the U.S., as a law-enforcement issue. Bush and crew treat all terrorism, within the U.S. or not, as a military issue. (I'm not saying it's fully legit. Just closer.)

Part of the problem with the Bush team is that it's living in the 1980s. The Enemy™ was That Big Country Over There. Massive. Iconoclastic. Far away. And just as bogged down in bureaucratic bogging-down-stuff as we are. If the attack is coming, they think, we'll see it coming because The Enemy™ is something so titanic we can't miss it. That's why Condi Rice can't recognize a national security threat unless the terrorists spell out the date, time, place, and delivery method. But we stopped living in that world more than a decade ago.

In one of the most inadequate of the fistful of inadequate responses that a military approach leads to is the wholesale declaration of hundreds "enemy combatants" by Bush, and the warehousing of them at Gitmo. Some of them, like Yaser Hamdi, were caught on an actual battlefield; others, like Jose Padilla, were just at the airport. In either case, calling terrorists "enemy combatants" opens up cans of worms that just shouldn't be open.

See, I remember way back when, Howard Dean had a new one ripped for him when he let slip that Hamas terrorists were soldiers in a war. Again, this may be an "it's okay if you're a Republican" moment.

Worse, you have to start wondering exactly how far they will go with this. What are the characteristics of a terrorist group that make its members "enemy combatants"? They obviously don't have to be foreign nationals or apprehended in combat, as the cases under review right now show. Does it have to be a foreign-based network, like Al Qaeda? How about a network that has just a foreign cell or two? What if, for example, Aryan Nation had a couple guys in a cabin in Saskatchewan--would we be able to arrest your friendly neighborhood skinheads as enemy combatants?

What about terrorists that are entirely home grown? If Timothy McVeigh had done what he did under Bush's watch, would he be in Gitmo right now? If a couple of teenagers with a linux box hack DoD computers, would they be held incommunicado in windowless rooms for two years?

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet, but I think I know what's coming. I would not be surprised if the court draws a narrow line, claiming that Hamdi, as he was captured in hostile combat in Afghanistan, really is an enemy combatant, despite his American citizenship, and therefore Open Seasonable. Padilla, on the other had, was just getting off a plane at O'Hare, and the court may well declare him to be a law-enforcement problem.

Even so, none of this will resolve the fundamental problem that the Bush administration has when it comes to fighting terrorists. Tom Schaller summed it up perfectly: These guys only have a hammer, so every problem looks like a nail. And if civil rights happen to be in the way, well, just remember--we're at war.

From the Outbox

From: folkbum
Date: Wed Apr 28, 2004 5:47:21 PM America/Chicago
To: All Things Considered <atc@npr.org>
Subject: David Brooks/ Dick Cheney

Wednesday in your regular segment featuring David Brooks and E.J. Dionne, Brooks rightly corrected host Robert Siegel when he claimed Vice President Dick Cheney had questioned John Kerry's military service record in a speech Monday at Westminster College. Brooks said that in fact Cheney had been questioning Kerry's voting record on military spending and whether the senator supports various weapons systems.

David Brooks--and your listeners--should know that those remarks from Cheney open the door to a serious pot-and-kettle situation. Cheney may be a hawk now, but he
lambasted President Reagan as a leader in the House of Representatives for not cutting military spending back in the 1984. More recently, as Secretary of Defense to the first President Bush, Cheney oversaw deep cuts in military programs.

I guess wanting to cut military funding is another one of those things that is only okay if you're a Republican.

folkbum
Milwaukee, WI

Monday, April 26, 2004

What a difference an hour makes
(edited and updated 4/27)

I was going to title this post "Even Local Fox News Sucks," but then I watched the second hour of the local broadcast (yes, a full hour of local news at nine and a half hour at ten!) of the local Fox afilliate's news and a swear to Jeebus it was like watching a different channel.

This afternoon, my teachers' union had a rally to encourage the school board and superintendent to actually, you know, bargain on our contract, which expired last June. (And it's working: Since news of our planned rally broke, the district offered a new version of its BOHICA health-care package and the superintendent himself is back at the bargaining table for the first time in fourteen months.)

Anyway, I pulled media duty, and was assigned to the local Fox guy. They actually mic'ed me and followed me around for a while after the interview. The interview went off without a hitch: I was on message and, I think, friendly and accessible. Our union president was interviewed just before me and, I have to tell you, he has more message discipline than even I do. He hit all the right points: An unsettled contract does nothing to encourage new teachers to enlist or keep the good ones we have; a focus on benefits leaves issues around what happens in the classroom off the table.

And then rally, rally, yay, yay, petition, rally. Probably 1500 people out. Lots of hot dogs. Bad '80s music from the DJ. Tents. All good. (Local print media coverage here.)

So I rush home to set the TiVo to tape the 9 and 10 editions of the local Fox news, cause there's nothing funner than seeing yourself on TV. And after the 9:00 story ran, I was incensed.

It began with Smiley Guy and Hair Woman standing around the studio (the 9:00 news is the, er, casual news). They flashed some stats about the budget the superintendent presented (here's the budget story), including the inflammatory proposed increase in the property tax levy. Then Smiley Guy mentions that we're negotiating our contract--not that it's long-expired--and that asking us to pay for our health care has got us mad. "And, can you believe this?" Smiley Guy asks. "Teachers pay nothing right now for their health insurance!"

And then they go to the video, with nothing of me, and their focus is entirely the angry demonstration. The reporter repeatedly referred to the several hundred protesters, rather than the thousand plus there for the rally. The few moments of our chanting "We want the board!" out of the half and hour we waited in the auditorium before the school board meeting was what made the air, of course, as well as the one moment our union president said that this rally was the chance for teachers to say they were "silent no more." Throw in the outgoing school board president's wondering whether paying teachers is a good use of our money (I'm paraphrasing), and you got yourself a horribly negative hit piece.

Folkbum not pleased.

But I watch the 10:00 piece anyway, prepared to be just as mad, and it was a completely different report, from the content to the tone. First of all, I got plenty of face time, getting in all the right points about the teachers who are leaving and a sense of optimism that maybe now we can settle the contract. The reporter still referred to what we were doing as a demonstration, but this was a much more balanced report, noting some actual facts about the negotiations and a much better quote, too, from our union president. In all, this report spent much more time on the effects of this protracted bargaining process on teachers and the classroom. The reporter even ended the spot with a dig at the school board, saying that at the moment, the board has no intention of getting involved in the negotiations.

Folkbum pleased.

Sarah wondered whether they had demographics telling them that their 9:00 and 10:00 audiences were completely different. I wonder if they didn't get some calls. Or maybe they just are fair and balanced, but not all at once.

(Update, 4/27: One teacher who was at the rally told me today that a board member told her that the bean-counting technocrats running the district's negotiations specifically requested that the elected board stay out of the negotiations and have been purposefully keeping the board in the dark about the proceedings.

Plus, last night's school board meeting was the one where they re-shuffle committee assignments and elect new officers. There is a long history of partisanship and division on the board, and this time the board elected a union ally as president. Plus another powerful new ally joined the personnel and finance committee, averring that "the money is there" and that he would "go over that budget line by line." More news on the board's doings here.)

Hah

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!


If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!


How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Via Misc. Karen, whom I found trolling the bottom of the Ecosystem.)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

You know you've thought it

Via The Talent Show, I have found the wonderfully named (and persuasive) JohnKerryIsADoucheBagButI'mVotingForHimAnyway.com. If you still need convincing, this is the place to go. It's still "under construction" in places, but what he's got now is good.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Happyeth Birthdayeth

In the bard's honor, I made my very own Quizilla quiz:
What Shakespeare Play Are You?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Two for one

I did not actually break my thumb with the bungee cord this morning (don't ask), but it makes it hard to type. So, one each: A Quiz! and a Bottom of the Barrel.


Which Nigerian spammer are You?


(Thanks to Art-Machine. Take this one. Seriously. I laughed all the way through it.)

As for our Bottom of the Barrel contestant today (a quick reminder of the BoB rules: I take the lowest of the low Insignificant Microbes in the Ecosystem and give them a link here, along with something nice to say) is number 10029, Alien Landscape: "Observations concerning the strange creatures that dominate this planet called Earth."

Ken (the main page contains all posts since January 1 of this year--and it scrolls like it!--but there is no convenient "About Me" or anything to make it easy. I had to read, a lot, to figure it out. I shouldn't really say much, since I don't have an "about me" either, but, then again, I'm not last in the Ecosystem) is another of them conservatives, newly moved to Texas for, apparently, the tax benefit. At least, that's celebrated in the April 15 post.

It's hard to say nice things about the conservative bloggers, especially when they're wrong as often as Ken is, despite some occasional disagreements with Bush and even at least one nice Grover Norquist dis--which means, I think, he's got a much more libertarian bent. I will say this, though: When our alien observer (and he does seem to be from a different planet occasionally, like advocating hover cars and such) makes his arguments without hyperbole and with research and historical example.

Again, though, he's often on the wrong side. Take his January 2 post, cleverly defending the obscenely rich as those who "beta-test tomorrow's everyday mass-market items. When they start buying a new toy, the profits fuel further development, which leads to better and less expensive versions. [. . .] So the next time you hear someone decrying 'income inequality,' remember that income inequality is what gives us our beta testers, and reflect that unless the government finds an excuse to prevent it, those toys you envy the rich for having will one day be yours." Aside from the fact that I haven't gotten my Lear jet yet, Ken neglects the thrust of most arguments arguments against obscene wealth (well, the ones I make, anyway). It's the ever-increasing stratification that presents the problem.

Or, more recently, about the war, Ken actually says this: "[I]f the occupying foreign power is bringing liberty where there was none before, then freedom-loving people who know the score will welcome the occupation[. . .]. [A] successful occupation would be to the Iraqis' benefit even if it never ends or produces any sort of local democracy, and those who try to cause the occupation to fail do not have the best interests of their fellow Iraqis at heart and are deadly and dangerous enemies to Iraqis as well as Americans." Because, apparently, We Know Better. I wonder if Ken is as shocked as Rummy that there are no flowers.

Showing his libertarian bent, he makes the argument that regulation--from FDA to minimum wage--really hurts employees and consumers, robbing us of choices we could otherwise make. "Please, sir. Let me flip burgers for you and you only have to pay me a dollar. That's all I need to afford those drugs that they sell without rigorous testing to see if they're safe!"

My thumb hurts. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Columbine: Five Years and a Day
(I was hoping it would be just five years, but I've had a busy week.)

On April 20, 1999, I was substitute teaching for the Milwaukee Public Schools, long-term in the building where I finally landed a real job and have been teaching since.

I first learned of the shootings in Littleton, Colorado, from NPR in the car after school on my way to my second job at a Sylvan Learning Center (subs don't get paid that well, and we were living beyond our means on Milwaukee's posh East Side). The news was shocking for two reasons: first, obviously, because of the scope and magnitude of the tragedy, but also because I had been paying close attention to news of such shootings, and there had been nearly a full year without one.

The reason I spent that 1998-1999 school year subbing was that I left the full-time teaching job I held for the 1997-1998 school year. I taught in a suburban Milwaukee high school, a school I have much maligned in other places and so won't name. (I also often malign the Milwaukee Public Schools, but I now have the equivalent of tenure, so I don't care so much.)

That school was almost exactly like Columbine. It was also almost exactly like Heath High School, in West Paducah, Kentucky, where three students were killed in December of 1997. Or Thurston High School, in Springfield, Oregon, where Kip Kinkel killed two and injured dozens more in the cafeteria in May 1998.

That's not why I left the school--there is a whole mosaic of issues surrounding my departure--but I was always keenly aware of the school's sdemographics as the death toll elsewhere (and media frenzy about the issue) rose at a staggering clip.

At my school that year, a year that was punctuated with news of these shootings (though not Columbine yet), there was not a single student of color. At all. The district was really almost exurban, with a few poor farming communities (and a few poor students), but mostly house farms and warehouse churches. A handful of my students had moved out there from the city recently enough to still be interesting, but most of the kids were vanilla in the worst way. Everything was someone else's fault, they lived in a very white box that they never left, and they had no conception of just how insular their lives were.

The only thing, I sometimes think, that might have sufficiently shaken them up, would have been a school shooting.

Did I know kids like Kinkel, or Harris and Kliebold, who I really thought could go through with it? I don't think so. But there is no doubt: If I were going to die at a school, that's the kind of place where it would happen.

The funny thing, of course, is that now I teach in Milwaukee, a city not known for its peaceful, idyllic streets. The murder rate is about 4 times the national average. Violent crime is a constant threat, it seems. And yet, I feel utterly safe here in this urban, majority-minority population school. Far safer than those days in the winter of 1998 when every other day, it seemed, some school shooting or another was in the news.

That's not to say I succumbed to the media hype: I knew well, and often argued with people (sometimes even my students), that children are far less likely to die in school than in their parents' cars on the way to or from school. But, like the Season of Gary Condit, or the Summer of Shark Attacks, or the Year of JonBenet, the media had one story for a long time, and that was how anti-social, maladjusted, oft-teased kids were all set to kill your child at school tomorrow.

But then, respite. That summer was, of course, free of school shootings. And the next fall. Anniversaries of various shootings came and passed without nary a puff of gunpowder. And then the unthinkable happened. Columbine was followed, of course, exactly one month later by yet another shooting, at Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia.

Yet the images that we all have from these shootings, the trauma that we all feel at least a little but of tucked somewhere in the backs of our minds, is all Columbine. Columbine was, if you will allow the stretch here, the 9/11 of school shootings: not the first, not the last, but the most horrific and lasting.

There was not quite the same walking-around-numb feeling on 4/20 or 4/21 that there was on 9/11 and 9/12, but I certainly remember, at least in the high school setting where I was working, a sense of sobriety and somberness that transcended the usual routine, for both staff and students. But at that urban school, that under-served, under-resourced, and under-performing school in the central city, there was absolutely no sense of additional danger.

That's not to say Milwaukee Public Schools students don't have conflicts, don't bring weapons to school, don't fight. They do. They do a lot. But in MPS--at my school, anyway--there is never random violence. Period.

If there's a fight in the hallway, it's between students who have been building up to it for some time, not against victims chosen by chance. I know that when a student brings a weapon, it's usually because they feel that they need protection from a specific person or people, not because they could walk up and down the hallway and attack just anyone. Teachers, especially, who always seemed to be targeted in those school shootings, are almost never the target of intentional violence here. If one of us gets in the way breaking up a fight, we might take a punch (it's happened to me), but the kids just don't come after us. Again, I felt then, and still feel now, safer at school than many other places.

There's an irony to that, I guess. It is, however, an important point to stress: Schools, up to and including urban schools, are safe.

People have mostly calmed down about the issue of school shootings (even though they still happen) and it is no longer driving news cycles or school policy. But out of that spate of school shootings in 1997-1999 came something else that I need to touch on just a little bit before closing this commentary, and that's Zero Tolerance.

Zero Tolerance is the kind of thing that, in theory, it's hard not to get behind. I mean, who doesn't want to keep weapons and drugs and other such evils out of our schools? (The big fight right now at my school is about hats and cell phones. Eeeeee-vil, I tell you.)

But Zero Tolerance, like any inflexible policy, is a bad thing. Besides all the now-too-familiar silly things we hear about (students severely punished for carrying, say Scope or Tylenol; or any of the other dozens of nightmares), it disproportionately affects minorities like the students at my school.

Thankfully, many schools and districts are moving away from it. If I had more time, I'd throw references at you about that, too.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough, as is my wont. But I figure all of you who come around here regularly expect that by now. Back to work . . .

Monday, April 19, 2004

If Saturn really wanted me in their family . . .

. . . then their waiting lounge would have free wireless access. Then I could have blogged from there today.

My trusty (ish) 97 SL2 had a mysterious recurring fuse-blowing problem. Apparently, it resurfaced while we were in Mexico--the car was staying with Sarah's grandfather, and it wouldn't start to come to the airport to get us. This was not great news to hear after Our Horrible Flight™, including terrifying winds on the way down into O'Hare and an hour and a half in the plane on the tarmac in Philly. (Again, I'm not sure I saw Atrios. It would help of he'd just tell us who he is and get it over with.)

So anyway, this afternoon was at the Saturn dealership, where they took $170 worth of labor time to take apart my dash and replace a $12 wire.

So, on the trip, I did much good eating, lounging, sleeping, and reading. In fact, I read five whole books. That almost makes up for the books I don't read while school is on and I have other things to do. In order of much I liked them:
That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx. Funny in the right places, sentimental in others, and with bronc-riding monks. Really.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend, by Chris Moore. This is the kind of book that, had I read it in high school, would have made me feel rebellious. But now, some of it just seemed contrived. I won't give away the ending, though . . .
Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Very bleak. I read it first--in one day, mostly on the plane on the way out. Very bleak. Bleak.
The Peter Principle, by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, which I re-read for a particular project.
Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. Not anywhere near as good as the Harry Potter series.
I did not sunburn, nor did I succumb to any intestinal distress. However, some bug or something kept biting me and I have welts on my legs the size of a ten-peso coin. And they itch something awful.

I am, though, very tired. Busy weeks ahead for this boy. Perhaps more later on my travels. For now, one last thanks to JD, who fought dental surgery and John Ashcroft to be with you as stunt folkbum last week. Anytime you feel the itch, Jeff, just let 'er rip!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Mr. Ashcroft: Tear Down that Wall

The "9/11 Commission" is undertaking some of the most critical tasks in the war on terror. These 5 republicans and 5 democrats have, for the most part, placed country over party in undertaking the crucial job of determining what went wrong in the months and years leading up to 9/11. Nothing in the Commission's final report will bring back those we lost that day, but it is imperative that the Commission over turn every stone to see if we can learn anything that may help prevent another disaster of that proportion.

In the last few weeks the Commission's work has clearly bruised some egos - both democrat and republican. But, some have been able to put their egos aside for the good of the nation. Others, however, have shown a willingness to put political survival ahead of the Commission's efforts.

Case in point is Attorney General John Ashcroft.
(note- as a current DOJ employee it is important to note that I write here as a private citizen and my views expressed here are solely my own and do not represent the views of the DOJ)

Already scorned by the Commission and testimony from key witnesses, the man whose job is to search for truth and justice came to the stand and demonstrated that his primary aims on that day were self-preservation and to undermine the Commission's credibility.

With amazing temerity, the Attorney General took the stand and, instead of putting ego and partisanship aside for the good of the nation, Attorney General Ashcroft unleashed an offensive against a respected Commission member temporarily disrupting the Commission's fact-finding mission.

Witness after witness, democrat and republicans alike, have consistently concluded that no single problem could have been addressed in time to unquestionably stop the 9/11 disaster. But, the Attorney General, in amazing arrogance contradicted the bipartisan consensus established up to that point by trumpeting that he had found THE cause for our failure to prevent Osama Bin Laden's attack on DC and New York City.

In what can only be described as kabuki political theater, and bad kabuki theater I might add, the AG summoned his inner drama queen and proclaimed that THE cause for the 9/11 letdown was a so-called "legal wall" built up to prevent intelligence investigators from sharing information with criminal investigators. The AG's soliloquy continued on with the declaration: "Somebody built this wall. ... Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the Commission." Then with self-congratulatory smugness, the AG whipped out a 1995 legal memorandum penned by Commission Member Jamie Gorelick when she was Deputy Attorney General in the Justice Department, which described "the wall" and set forth restrictions on information sharing between intelligence and criminal investigators. Ashcroft called memo "the single greatest structural cause for the September 11th problem.'' In short, Ashcroft's show and tell act attempted to blame Gorelick for 9/11.

Unimpressed, Republicans on the Commission trashed the AG's performance. Commissioner Slade Gorton, a former Republican senator from Washington, rebuked Ashcroft by noting, the Bush Justice Department, led by Ashcroft, actually ratified the existence of "the wall," by noting in its own secret memorandum on August 6, 2001, that "the 1995 procedures remain in effect today." Republican John Lehman, former Navy secretary under President Reagan, also defended Gorelick. "Jamie Gorelick has made a very good contribution and she's one of the really savvy, nonpartisan of the bipartisan members," Lehman said. Chairman Thomas Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, state that in his mind, Gorelick, is "one of the finest members of the commission, one of the hardest working members of the commission and, by the way, one of the most nonpartisan and bipartisan members of the commission." Kean went further and rebuked calls for Gorelick's resignation from the commission saying "people ought to stay out of our business." Kudos to these Commissioners for not being blinded by the AG's stage show. Of course, demonstrating that to some party comes before country, Kean is now being attacked by the right wing slime machine for simply telling the truth.

As Attorney General, with a large staff of learned legal minds, surely Mr. Ashcroft knew, or should have known - and absolutely could have known with a wee bit of research - that in 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA established a secret intelligence court and relaxed the standard Fourth Amendment rule requiring "probable cause" when the government sought search warrants for the "primary purpose" of gathering foreign intelligence. Over the next several years, officials and courts gradually fashioned the "wall" keeping these two spheres largely separate. Indeed, the AG should know that this wall existed during the Reagan Administration and the First Bush Administration. He should know because his own Justice Department eventually - after 9/11 - sought a ruling from a special appeals court that helped eliminate the wall. In that very ruling, the Court, specifically noted that: "It is quite puzzling that the Justice Department, at some point during the 1980s [i.e. the Reagan years], began to read the statute as limiting the department's ability to obtain FISA orders if it intended to prosecute the targeted agents, even for foreign intelligence crimes."

Surely, someone on the AG's staff read the court's opinion? Surely, someone on his staff could have informed the AG that Ms. Gorelick did not serve in the Justice Department in the 1980s. Someone let him down. We certainly can't expect the AG to know all this publically available information himself, right? Wrong. Mr. Ashcroft is a shrewd man. The only reasonable conclusion that can be reached, given all the legal staff at his disposal and his own wealth of knowledge, is that the AG omitted this relevant history of "the wall" from his testimony in a partisan attempt to discredit Ms. Gorelick.

Such a silly stunt is both juvenile and disappointing. Perhaps Mr. Ashcroft should tear down the partisan wall dividing his duty to serve the public and his desire to serve himself and his party. Indeed, all witnesses should check their egos and partisanship at the door and let the Commission do its job. The American people are not well served by these types of antics and attempts at obfuscation. Luckily, in this instance, we had Mssrs. Kean, Lehman, and Gorton to set the record straight since the AG was obviously unwilling to do so himself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Greetings from the Island!

Well, it seems JD is doing a fine job keeping you all busy, so I will not take up much of your time (plus I'm paying by the minute here), except to say that my batteries are indeed charging, and I'm a little freaked out by the new updates to Blogger. Certainly not expecting that while on vacation . . .

I'm purposely not keeping up with politics while away, so if anything big happens, I'll have to find out later. The advantage, of course, is that I get to keep my hair. That, and these Spanish language keyboards make it real easy to type a ñ. Tee hee!

Anyway, I am working on a project, probably for publication at Open Source Politics, while I'm away. And I will have a nice trip report for those of you anxioulsy awaiting to hear if I saw Atrios during the layover in Philly (short answer: I don't know) or wondering what the weather is like here. In the meantime, keep enjoying JD's work!

Monday, April 12, 2004

"Do Not Spam List" is a misguided waste of money

With the tremendously favorable public reaction over the national "do not call list" flocked to by millions of Americans seeking refuge from annoying telemarketers its no surprise that politicians are pushed through a similar registry for spam. It's a "money issue" as the consultants say. Who wouldn't be against spam? I am. So is everyone I know. But, as usual, being for or against spam is not the real issue. Like many issues facing us, the choices on how to address the problem are more subtle than the black and white approach to problem solving that is en vogue with many of our leaders.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to establish a national do not spam list and President Bush happily signed it into law to try to make people think he's paying attention to "domestic" issues. Its good politics to be for the list:over 75% of Americans favor the creation of such a list. Shamelessly basking in the glow of his political point scoring, Senator Shumer stated: "Americans scored their first major victory today in the effort to take the Internet back from spammers...The vast majority of Americans say they want a do-not-spam registry, and today the Senate is granting them their wish." The campaign consultants love this kind of feel good, please-the-public politics. But, good politics does not always make good policy.

There is no question spam is a problem. It hampers small business and annoys most of us. In worst cases its used for fraud. The most common forms of spam include advertisements, most of which are fraudulent in nature. Some experts estimate that spam costs American businesses, including many small businesses least able to pay, $10 billion a year in productivity losses, equipment expenses and employing technicians on computer help desks. So, yes we need to do something. But, creating a do not spam list is not the answer.

The Can Spam Actl calls for the Federal Trade Commission, the agency maintaining the popular and useful do not call list, to deliver a plan to Congress for creating a no-spam registry this summer and to implement the plan sometime this fall - yep, around election time. One problem there is that the FTC Chairman, appointed by President Bush, doesn't believe the do not spam list is a good idea. Is he pro-spam? Of course not. He's simply recognizing that creating and maintaining the list will cost tons of money that could be better used elsewhere.

There are two major problems with spending millions on what byaccountscconts will be a useless effort. First, many spammers are already breaking laws by engaging in deception and/or fraud. People already breaking laws are not likely to follow a new law. Second, up 40% of spam comes from outside the U.S. and the perpetrators outside the country are extremely difficult to track down.

This is one problem where the private sector is the group to lead the charge. Internet Service Providers are already putting forth technological solutions for fighting spam. I use Microsoft email and their spam filter does a decent job of keeping my inbox clean allowing me to navigate through my real email. The private sector will no doubt continue to invest resources in fighting spam because its in their bottom line interest to do so. Nothing prompts a good solution like making a buck!

And, certain parts of the Act, will make take a bite out of spam. Under the new law, Yahoo, Earthlink and AOL recently filed suit against hundreds of defendants using provisions of the Can Spam Act. Some of the defendants were described by the companies as "the nation's most notorious large-scale spammers." Those provisions along with jail time for repeat offenders who use spam for fraudulent purposes make absolute sense.

But, our government leaders need to put the "spam list" in the can and spend less time and money on feel good legislation and more time on real solutions.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Does Size Matter?

Throughout modern politics, partisans have engaged in a false fight over big government vs small government. We hear this big v. small debate all the time and no doubt it’ll be a constant theme as we head deeper into the 2004 election season. George W. Bush is already throwing the phrase around.

A look back in time provides a great example of the pointlessness of the rhetoric surrounding this ongoing debate. In an editorial published not long after 9/11, Sen. Charles Schumer attempted to make the case that a return to "big government" is the only way to confront the challenges that lie ahead for our nation post September 11th.

First, let me note that big government is one of those terms, like "liberal" for example, that is recklessly slung about to the point that no one really knows what it means. Does big government mean 1) too many federal employees/officials, 2) too many federal agencies/programs, or 3) too much
spending by the federal government?

For an illustrative example of the ambiguous nature of the phrase, Sen. Schumer noted that President Clinton did more "shrinking [of the federal government] than any other President." This statement is partially true. But, it reflects the minimal value of this ambiguous rhetoric no matter who's using it.

It is true that President Clinton did reduce the size of government. However, it is also true that the federal government spent a lot of money during that time period. Much of it on the military. As Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, then chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the time and then Defense Secretary Cohen noted, it was President Clinton's "fiscal policy that allowed, and his pen that signed, the largest increase in military spending in some 15 years -- historic investment in the next generation of tools and technologies, and the largest increase in military pay and benefits in a generation." Now that our troops are spread across the globe and we are still trying to track down Bin Laden and other shadowy foes, I for one am glad we spent that money and made that investment in America. So, did the government get smaller because we cut its size or bigger because we spent more money?

By utilizing a rhetorically empty phrase like big government Sen. Schumer - and others like Bush, Limbaugh, etc. who recklessly toss it around - does nothing to advance the real discussion that should be taking place. Instead, rhetoric like this sparks more needless race to the bottom debates on the size of government as opposed to the real issues of how government is run and what exactly is happening in government. Case in point is the right-wing tabloidesqe National Review’s piece published the very next day entitled, “Is Chuck Schumer on Crack?” Typically, that piece contained no real discussion on the actual issues, but plenty of personal animus for Schumer and a never ending spew of useless rhetoric. Partisan ideologues get a kick out of this type of exchange, but it does nothing to help our national debate or benefit Americans.

Of course the empty rhetorical question of big v small government is really irrelevant. Government is one area of human existence where size doesn't matter. The important point isn’t whether government is big or small, the real question is whether government is working efficiently and positively impacting the people who permit it to exist: us, the American citizen.

Much of the rhetoric is driven by people who claim to love America, but consistently deride our form of government. At its core, their attack is based on a false claim on what government is. They claim government is some person-less machine that runs every aspect of our lives. Obviously that is false.

Government is people. If everyone who worked in government walked off the job, government would no longer exist. Government is not a machine, rather it is people getting together to make decisions about collective responsibility and how to best deal with needs and issues that impact us as individual citizens, but are impractical for us to address in our individual capacity. Snowplowing is an example. Instead of all of us taking turns shoveling our neighborhood streets, we pitch in and buy a big plow and pay someone to come to our streets to take care of the problem.

Homeland Security is another prime example. President Bush has spent millions of tax dollars to produce and promote the color coded terror system. Yet, firefighters and other first responders are still shortchanged on proper equipment. Equipment they desperately need to protect us better then we could protect ourselves. The point is that collective money must be spent on many important services that we need, but can't afford to effectively provide for ourselves.

JFK himself summed it up as follows:

“I know that there are those who want to turn everything over to the government. I don't at all. I want the individuals to meet their responsibilities. And I want the states to meet their responsibilities. But I think there is also a national responsibility. The argument has been used against every piece of social legislation in the last twenty-five years. The people of the United States individually could not have developed the Tennessee Valley; collectively they could have. A cotton farmer in Georgia or a peanut farmer or a dairy farmer in Wisconsin and Minnesota, he cannot protect himself against the forces of supply and demand in the market place; but working together in effective governmental programs he can do so. Seventeen million Americans, who live over sixty-five on an average Social Security check of about seventy-eight dollars a month, they're not able to sustain themselves individually, but they can sustain themselves through the social security system. I don't believe in big government, but I believe in effective governmental action. And I think that's the only way that the United States is going to maintain its freedom”

Indeed, those who attack every single government program attack freedom itself. We need to be organized to strive towards the twin aims of our republic: national defense and domestic tranquility. That’s all government is, citizens coming together to work toward common goals. To get there, we don’t need big government or small government - just good government.



Thanks Folkbum

for letting me take over the reigns while you hit the beach! For those celebrating Easter today, I give you this Woody Guthrie tune written around 1940 to ponder.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Adios, mis amigos!

Well, I'm off in a couple of hours, but I have just enough time to introduce your stunt folkbum for the week:

Jeff (I think he'll be posting as JD) is a commenter here, a regular at the Daily Kos and a blogger (though of the sports variety) in his own right in at the Post Game.

He is also, I'm afraid, immenently more qualified than I to write about politics. Me, I have a Creative Writing degree and a checkered past in student governments and failed insurgent presidential campaigns. Jeff is a graduate of Temple Law School where he did all kinds of Good Things that I'm sure he can tell you about. So he, you know, knows stuff. I don't.

So, welcome aboard, Jeff, and I'll see everyone else in ten days or so . . . Hasta la vista!

Two Things

First of all, Tim Carpenter's campaign website is up and improving daily (he's running for WI-4). By Monday, he assures me, you'll be able to contribute online (hint, hint). He's running for a safe Democratic seat, so it's not a question of who can beat some hypothetical Republican. It's a question of who will be the best Dem we can muster to represent progressive values and ideas in the Congress. Carpenter has the right idea on sound fiscal policy (including progressive taxation), health care, education, equal rights for all, and more, all those things that drew me (and Carpenter, by the way) to endorse Howard Dean. He's a tremendous believer in talking directly to constituents (the man walks his district almost constantly) and he's got the legislative record that some other, more establishment Dems in the race lack. Check him out.

There's a long rambling post buried somewhere within me on the whole 9/11 Commission/ Richard Clarke/ Condi Rice thing. But I haven't had time to actually write it, and I won't before I fly out. So here's the gist.

I think that we all must stop, now, saying that Bush deserves ouster because 9/11 could have been prevented. It's the wrong tactic, the wrong path. We must not politicize 9/11. And don't give me any hoo-hah about how Bush already has so we should to, or start crowing about hypocrisy. Plain and simple, it's an argument that we can't win and if we did we'd look bad for doing it.

Even if the 9/11 Commission says that 9/11 was preventable, I think it would be in John Kerry's best interest to rebut the Commission, and say that, in fact, he thinks the commission has it wrong and 9/11 was not predictable or preventable.

Why? Well, because Clarke and, inadvertently, the Bush Administration itself, have given us the best two approaches to this issue, and they are the ones that we can pursue without looking opportunistic or slimy.

Clarke, who we must continue to prop up as credible, laid out one line--and it is, by the way, Dean's line from way back:
"If we catch him (bin Laden) this summer, which I expect, it's two years too late," Clarke said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "Because during those two years when forces were diverted to Iraq ... al-Qaeda has metamorphosized into a hydra-headed organization with cells that are operating autonomously, like the cells that operated in Madrid recently."
In other words, Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time. The USA Today article finds more: "Bob Andrews, former head of a Pentagon office that oversaw special operations, says that removing Saddam Hussein was a good idea but 'a distraction.' [. . .] Stan Florer, a retired Army colonel and former Green Beret, agrees that Iraq diverted enormous military and intelligence assets."

The second line of attack is the one best articulated yesterday by the Jersey Girls, 9/11 widows, as reported by Tom Schaller:
Kristen Breitweiser [. . .] said she voted for Bush, and considered him her "biggest ally" but now believes he is her "biggest adversary." She calmly said she would "give" the Administration the fact that they could not prevent 9/11, but was miffed because of the subsequent stonewalling, and that they should not be taking credit for their candor now because it was only after efforts by people like her to force out any of this testimony. All four widows were asked if the president's and vice president's insistence on a non-public, not-under-oath testimony was motivated by a need to protect national security or because it was political. All four unhestitatingly said: "political."
Call out the Republicans for playing politics with 9/11, I say, and for delaying, stonewalling, and whitewashing. This should be easy enough when they're meeting in NYC for their convention within days of the third anniversary.

Turns out I rambled on anyway. Sigh.

Milwaukee Mayor Wrap

I have to get a few last posts online today before I take off and leave this blog in the very capable hands of frequent commenter here and The Post Game co-host Jeff. First, some final perspective on this whole mayor thing.

I started this series, if you will, on the mayor's race last December with talk about Milwaukee County Sherriff David Clarke, who was also in the primary for mayor. He, like finalist Marvin Pratt, is a relatively popular (with a certain Republican-leaning crowd--Pratt's base is Democratic) African American office-holder. But his campaign, which had national Republican money behind it, fell apart when it turned out he just barely got the necessary signatures to get on the ballot, especially after having bragged about more than tripling the minimum number. The media and other candidates had a field day with it. In retrospect, I think it may have meant something more than I thought at the time. But I'll come back to that.

In the end, Pratt and Tom Barrett--who won Tuesday--were the two to survive the primary. The trouble was that Pratt and Barrett were running the same campaign: There was little substantive difference on the issues. Reading about their ideas, visions, and proposals, you couldn't tell which candidate you were reading about without looking for a name. They were really different in only one way: Barrett is white; Pratt is black.

Then Pratt's campaign started coming apart, too: The DA filed civil charges related to campaign bookkeeping, Pratt knowingly broke the law by campaigning at a polling place on primary day, and, it turned out, he was delinquent on his water bill. Again, the media had a field day. Barrett was no better, taking advantage of the lapses--and implicitly tying Pratt to recent City Hall scandals, including three aldermen under federal indictment for corruption--to make a final push in a race that just ten days before the election was a dead heat.

In an race where your opponent may as well be you, those stupid, petty, and inconsequential things get magnified, because they are the only things up for debate, I figure.

But Pratt and his supporters have a good idea what really happened:
Sheila Payton, a local black businesswoman, talked about her disappointment with what she called the negativity of Barrett's campaign.

She first planned to vote for Barrett because of his background in Washington, D.C., which Payton thought could be an advantage for a new mayor.

Then, things got ugly.

"I was disappointed with the negative tone of Barrett's campaign," she said. "This is already a racially divided city. I think the tone of Barrett's campaign made things even more divided."
The night after the election, I was talking to an African American friend of mine who provided a perspective none of my other black friends had yet pointed out, perhaps because she is an active political maven. "It's so racist. It's another example of 'You can't trust that black man with your money,'" she said. And while I firmly believe that had it been Barrett who didn't pay his water bill, I would have endorsed Pratt, she said, "If Barrett didn't pay his water bill, it wouldn't make the papers." And she's probably right.

Pratt himself has not held back any criticism, making kind of the same point: "Pratt lashed out at Barrett, the news media and District Attorney E. Michael McCann, among others. [. . .] Pratt also accused the news media of racial bias in its coverage of the contest, though he didn't cite any specific evidence. He has previously said heavy coverage of his missteps was unfair. "

In the end, the city did prove pretty divided: "Pratt became a standard bearer for pride of black voters and played to that with his "It's time" campaign theme. Voting divided strongly on racial lines, with Pratt getting some 92% of the black vote and Barrett winning 83% of the white vote, according to an exit poll done for WTMJ-TV (Channel 4)."

But more interesting to note is this nugget from the bottom of that story on the exit polling data: "Clarke voters overwhelmingly went to Barrett, according to the WTMJ exit poll." Remember Clarke? He's the other high-profile African American whose campaign fell apart and was jumped on by the media (and, I admit, your humble folkbum). Reading that tidbit about Clarke made me realize that Clarke may very well have fallen prey to that same "You can't trust a black man" mentality. I mean, there were plenty of reasons not to vote for Clarke--his latent Republicanism in this non-partisan election being chief among them--but the reason I bashed him, along with much of the media, is that he couldn't be trusted.

Now, was that because Clarke was black? I'd like to think not. In the same way, I feel that my endorsing Barrett had nothing to do with race. (My endorsed candidate in the primary, Leon Todd, was African American. He also finished dead last of ten.) But it may very well be true that had Pratt not been black--or had Barrett not been white--the DA, the media, and Pratt's rivals would have made no bones about his finances in the first place.

Anyway, there will be some self-reflection on the beach next week by your humble folkbum. And, I hope, by the city. But not on my beach.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Some actual election analysis

Last night I got you the basic results from Tuesday's elections; I want to think out loud a little bit today as well as do some analysis of the numbers, if you'll bear with me.

I'll start with the easy one: Scott Walker was re-elected as Milwaukee County Executive. You know, I was never crazy about David Riemer: He's a lackluster technocrat and much more of a "manager" than a leader. This was, in fact, his first electoral battle, if I'm remembering right. But Riemer at least was on the right side of the line--not too far on that side, but the right side nonetheless.

Scott Walker, on the other hand, is one of them tax-cuts-or-die, balance-the-budget-on-the-backs-of-the-poor conservatives. He was a Republican mover and shaker in the state assembly before a scandal left the top job open in Wisconsin's biggest and (nearly) most Democratic county. He's left a trail of laid-off parks workers, closed public pools and parks, emaciated health services, and expensive bus rides (if the lines aren't shut down) in his wake.

One county supervisor described his hack tactics: "Across-the-board cuts are the lazy man's approach to budgeting and do not and will not position an organization to take advantage of future opportunities." Milwaukee's alternative weekly, when endorsing Riemer, wrote, "The main difference between the two candidates--and it is a huge difference--is that David Riemer actually has a plan he's sharing with the voters. Incumbent Scott Walker doesn't even pretend to offer solutions for reducing the property tax. All we know is what his record has been in the past two years, and that's troublesome enough for us not to trust him."

In short, Walker has no respect for municipal workers or residents who rely on county services to live a tolerable life, and wants only one thing--cuts. Period. Trouble is, he's young and photogenic; he's also the biggest threat the Republicans have to current Jim Doyle. I would hate to see the Walker reign of terror go statewide.

On the other hand, in a rare example of someone I endorsed actually winning, Joan Kessler, who unseated a sitting appeals court judge. Much like the mayor's race, we had to candidates who were basically decent folk. But Charles Schudson had some issues with case backlogs--some people figure because he's also got a pretty lucrative speaking career as an expert on the criminal repercussions of child sex-abuse (he's quite proud that he went on "Oprah" once to promote his book. But as the local weekly pointed out that "since two-thirds of the cases before the court deal with criminal cases, that makes it all the more likely that many of the plaintiffs (some innocent) are in jail pending their appeal. This is simply an unacceptable way for the judicial system to act." I concur.

Plus, I've known Kessler for a while now, as she was a Dean supporter from way back, and I'm glad to see someone's making hay from that whole thing.

I have to start prepping for the Meetup tonight, but if all goes according to plan (and why wouldn't it?) I'll do a bit of work on the mayor's race tonight.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

New Milwaukee Election Post

After four updates, I may as well start a new one!

Barrett: 55%
Pratt: 45%
97% Reporting. Full analysis of exit polling tomorrow. I promise. (Mostly because, while I've seen some slipping by on TV, there's none yet in print. It's not sleepiness.)

Kessler: 51%
Schudson: 49%
96% Reporting. I should have gone to Joan's party. Congrats to her!

Milwaukee Election Analysis

The polls have been closed ten whole minutes, and they're giving me nothing!

In the meantime, I'll make predictions:
Mayor: Barrett (but it will be within five points)
County Exec: Walker (cue the Darth Vader music)
Court of Appeals: Schudson (sadly--I agree with everything they said here about Schudson and his opponent, Joan Kessler)

Update 1, 8:30: Early returns--in the 1% range--show Schudson and Walker both routing. But City of Milwaukee returns are not in yet, and we tend to be a more liberal lot.

Update 2, 9:15: The Schudson-Kessler is turning into a barn-burner: 31% in, and it's 52-48. Barrett's up 60-40 with about a third in. Walker is at 59-41 with 36% reporting. More local to me, my county supervisor pick, Richard Nyklewicz, is cruising to a victory, but my choice for my alderperson, Lori Lutzka, is down 59-41 to Orange Sign Man (long story there).

Update 3, 9:50: I'm calling my aldermanic district for Orange Sign Man, Tony Zielinski--it's still 59-41 with nearly 90% in. Sigh. I'll also call my county supervisor district race--with 91% in, Nyklewicz has a 58-42 lead. The mayor's race is proving me wrong about the closeness: Barrett's at 59% with 72% reporting. On the County Executive front, I hate to say it but Walker is also at 59% with more than 70% in. The appeals court race is the only interesting race I'm watching--just 115 votes (out of ~160,000) separates the two, and Kessler's on the winning side right now; yay!

Update 4, 10:30: The press is calling the county executive race for Walker. Well, say goodbye to the county parks, affordable bus rides, mental health services, and an easy ride for Governor Jim Doyle in 2006 . . .

Kessler and Schudson are still neck-and-neck. Schudson is 300 votes up (out of 170,000) with 87% reporting. This one may keep me up all night!

The press is not so quick to call it for Barrett: The lead is getting smaller, currently 57-43 with 81% reporting. Depending on what wards are still out, it may yet get to that 5% I predicted, but I don't think Pratt's got much of a chance.

That leaves me wondering two things: One, what kind of exit polling data are we going to get? In other words, what was turnout, and did votes break down along racial lines? Second, will Pratt jump into the race for Jerry Kleczka's seat?

I'm off to vote!

Jes' doin' mah civic doo-tee. Wish me luck. I'll be around tonight with analysis and appropriate levels of Cassandra-ism depending on who won.

In the meantime, here's a quickie, combining my two loves: "Queer Eye" and winger-bashing. That's right: It's "Right Wing Eye"!

Monday, April 05, 2004

Doing My Part

Many alert bloggers are promoting various and sundry new Googlebombs, and I figure I should help as much as I can.

First off, an important one I found through Julia at TAS: It seems that the first hit on Google for the word Jew is some hate-filled anti-semitic site. I just wrapped up a unit on the literature of Jews and the Holocaust, and I would hate to think what would happen if a student of mine Googled Jew and got a site that was not about Jews but about hating Jews.

Next up is the web-wide Air America project, where we want to make sure Googlers know that Air America is not some bad Mel Gibson movie, nor is Air America something about paintball. Air America is good old-fashioned liberal radio!

There's word that conservatives are still trying to link miserable failure with Michael Moore. I'm not Moore's biggest fan, but we all know who the real miserable failure is, don't we? The miserable failure I'm thinking of lives in a big white house and likes to hear his miserable failure self smirk.

Finally, given the flap around Kos (of Daily Kos) and his recent comments--summarized well here by Matt Stoller of Blogging of the President--I think I'll start a new one: patriot. Kos is a veteran, which certainly qualifies him for patriot status. Kos is also concerned about the state of our democracy, which makes him a patriot. The patriots who are always asking us to support our troops should think Kos is a patriot, too, since it was very patriotic of Kos to question why mercenaries' deaths rate more outrage than the death of real patriots, our American soldiers, more than 600 of whom have patriotically died for our country in the current fighting. What say you? Shall we make Kos a patriot?

Update: Fresburger tipped me off to another good one: Intelligent Design. Some of you may know that I wrote a little bit about Intelligent Design at OSP a while back. The proponents of Intelligent Design keep trying to claim that they're promoting a real "science," but Intelligent Design is nothing but warmed-over creationist pablum. By the way, I never announced it, but I have linked to The Panda's Thumb, written by actual scientists who spend a great deal of their time de-bunking Intelligent Design. Check them out.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Keeping with tradition

A Quiz! (Real posts again next week, I promise. And congratulate Jeff (JD from The Post Game) for winning the prize (?) and getting to be guest folkbum while I'm away next week. Anyway, on to the quiz:


I am the number
2
I am friendly

_

what number are you?

this quiz by orsa


Via Ghost of a Flea.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Help Wanted

First of all, let me apologize for the crap-for-posts that's been masquerading as my blog for the last week or so. I mean, two quizzes in a row? That's nothing like the, er, quality you have come to expect. Bad folkbum, bad!

Anyway, it's like wicked busy at work for me, though spring break is just around the corner. Which means two things: There's not a lot of blogging going on now, and there won't be much blogging going on over break while Sarah and I are in our undisclosed location for a week. So if any of you regular readers who are not bloggers yourselves would like a taste of the big time, email me and you, too, can post pointless quizzes, explore the bottom of the barrel, and whine about how crappy your life is as a guest blogger.

I, on the other hand, will be on a beach.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

You say you want a . . .


What revolution are You?
Made by altern_active


Via Brian's Study Breaks

Insert April Fools Joke Here

Man, these things just write themselves!