Friday, December 31, 2004

More Cynicism from the Star Tribune

Once again, the Star Tribune has devoted two full columns to editorialize against President Bush. This turkey of an editorial cynically uses the plight of the hundreds of thousands (minimum, probably many more) people affected as an excuse for saying nasty things about Bush. They use this disaster as an opportunity to accuse him of taking a horrific toll on Iraqi civilians, for example. Not exactly germane to the subject of tsumani relief, but what the hell any stretch to enable them to say something nasty about the President is a good one, yes?

They say he has been silent about the disaster. Not true. See this statement from 12/26. Although no dollar amount was mentioned, he did say :

The United States stands ready to offer all appropriate assistance to those nations most affected including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as the other countries impacted. Already relief is flowing to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. We will work with the affected governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and other concerned states and organizations to support the relief and response to this terrible tragedy.

This makes it clear to me, anyway, that the $35 million is an initial figure that will go up as the need is determined. Here is the initial breakdown of aid on it's way from the U.S. government. Note the two naval groups that the Star Tribune didn't mention. In a response to a question about the economic damage to the region, Secretary of State Powell had this to say:

This is a very important point because not only do we have to deal with the immediate humanitarian disaster, but the rebuilding effort and doing something about the economic impact of the loss of the tourist industry in some of these places. This will take time.

And so as you prepare for one of this relief operations, it has a certain cycle: an initial infusion of money, initial infusion of humanitarian assistance; and then longer term programs of investment and reconstruction help, loans, and working with the governments concerned to help them rebuild their industries. And the United States is in for the immediate humanitarian relief part of this and also for long-term reconstruction so that the economies can get back up on solid footing and that the people who have lost homes will have assistance in building homes and rebuilding their businesses.

And so this is going to be a massive effort. It's going to take a great deal of money. And I'm pleased with the response that we're seeing from the international community, and the United States will continue to add to the commitment we have already made as the need is known and after we've had a chance to, of course, consult with the Congress.

Note that he didn't say that 35 million was all the aid the US was going to give, and indicated that more would be forthcoming after getting a better idea of the need and consultation with the Congress (I expect that is required, for the amounts of money that will be needed). I don't think the Strib's criticism is fair on this point.

Why else do I think this editorial is cynical and unfair?

  • The Star Tribune criticizes the president for staying in Crawford rather flying immediately to Washington. Apparently the work couldn't be done unless the President is physically in DC. Here's a clue, guys: the President is never really on vacation. He's either working more or working less. The president's entourage has plenty of telecommunications capability to organize our relief efforts from Crawford. Either the Strib has no clue about telecommunications, or they just wanted to be negative. I think the latter.

  • The Strib also implies that since the President spent some of his time doing chores on the ranch, he was indifferent to the catastrophe in Asia. I disagree. First, the President can't act until enough information is available to assess the situation. Until that information is available, why not cut brush? Once an initial course of action is selected, the organizing effort will be directed by subordinates at the agencies involved (in Washington, if it makes the Strib feel better). These actions and activities will continue as better information comes in.
  • The Strib choose us that it disapproves of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Why is this germane to the topic at hand? The Star Tribune doesn't tell us.

  • The Strib again makes the contention that the world reviles us because of Iraq. Why more off-topic stuff about Iraq?

  • At this early date, the Star Tribune is rather careless to be firing rhetorical cannonballs. If their concern had actually been for the tsunami victims in South Asia, they could have just made an argument for more aid and recognized that this is the very beginning of the relief effort. Instead, they attacked the President. Need any more be said?

    Update: The US government has now pledged $350 million of aid to tsunami victims.

    Thursday, December 30, 2004

    The L.A. Times, the Strib's Soul Sister

    Here is a link to a Patterico piece that describes the kind of "journalistic excellence" to be found at the Los Angeles Times this year. A paper with rather similar views to my own hometown Star Tribune. I must admit that the LA Times seems to outstrip the Strib in terms of sheer incompetence, although not in the level of vitriol.

    More on Nick

    As an addition to my post below, an analysis of Nick Coleman's research ability can be found here, at the Frater's place. They are not favorably impressed.

    Wednesday, December 29, 2004

    Nick Coleman: "Professional" Journalist

    I see that Nick Coleman wrote another poison pen column (free registration required)about the gents at Powerline in today's Star Tribune. There has been a reaction of sorts in the blogosphere, and the Insta One has a good roundup. My reaction? Complete unsurprise. In the years I've lived in the Twin Cities and been exposed to his writings it didn't take long to realize that Mr. Coleman does not need any help to make a fool of himself. This latest column voluminous support of that idea. Rather than take the advice I gave him here some time ago, he's once again picked a fight with people who have more readers than he does. This column is probably not worth fisking (and other people doubtless will say it better - see the Instapundit link), but I do want to comment on a few bits of it.

    The end of the year is a time to bury the hatchet, so congratulations to Powerline, the Twin Cities blog that last week was named Time magazine's "Blog of the Year!"

    Now let me get a new hatchet.

    Here's a nice bit of hypocrisy disguised as a lame attempt at humor. Yep, first an insincere congratulations on being honored by time, followed by a "let's grind my axe now" line. How nice. Then we get to Coleman's thumbnail sketch of Powerline:

    These guys pretend to be family watchdogs but they are Rottweilers in sheep's clothing. They attack the Mainstream Media for not being fair while pursuing a right-wing agenda cooked up in conservative think tanks funded by millionaire power brokers.

    They should call themselves "Powertool." They don't speak truth to power. They just speak for power.

    Earth to Nick: the gents at Powerline have never pretended to be non-partisan. Amazingly enough, they are quite proud of being conservatives (unlike our media, which seems to be full of liberals, but is in denial of its effects). They don't pretend that they are presenting anything but their own views on the subjects of the day, and that view is a conservative one. They are stating the truth as they see it and making reasoned arguments in support of their opinions. You ought to try it some time.

    The lads behind Powerline are a bank vice president named Scott Johnson and a lawyer named John Hinderaker. If you read Powerline, you know them better by their fantasy names, Big Trunk (that's Johnson) and Hind Rocket (Hinderaker). I will leave it to the appropriate professionals to determine what they are compensating for, but they have received enormous attention from the despised Mainstream Media and deserve more.

    Nothing like a little personal insult. Right, Nick? More proof (as if we needed it) that you might be a hack. There is one correct statement in that paragraph - Powerline (and other blogs) deserve a bit more Mainstream Media attention. Especially after causing parts of said media considerable embarassment (CBS, anyone?). Oh, and learn how to spell Hindrocket - you are supposed to be a journalist, after all.

    I wish I didn't have to do it, because I already get ripped a lot on the site, which thankfully also has had some nice photos of bikini-clad candidates for Miss Universe to keep me company. But I accept Powerline's contempt; I am only a Mainstream Media man, while Big Trunk and Hind Rocket are way cool. They blog.

    I work for a dopey old newspaper committed to covering the news fairly while Powerline doesn't make boring commitments. They are not Mainstream Media. They are Extreme Media. Call them reliable partisan hacks.

    That's what they call me: A reliable partisan hack, even though they sometimes like columns I write about dumb things Democrats do. I have criticized many dumb Democrats, but Democrats don't matter these days. All the power is in the hands of Republicans, and Powerline's job is to make life easier for them. Mine isn't.

    A story: In 1990, I reported that this newspaper's endorsement of DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich was decided by then-publisher and Perpich crony Roger Parkinson. He had quashed the decision of the newspaper's editorial board, which had voted in favor of the Republican challenger, Arne Carlson.

    The truth got out, the Republican won and the public was served. If Extreme bloggers, who know nothing that happened before last Tuesday, had the same commitment to serving the public, I wouldn't have a problem. But like talk radio, they are dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards.

    Let's see. Coleman is upset at being called a partisan hack, then cites an incident from almost 15 years ago to prove that he's not partisan. One that involved criticizing the paper he didn't work for at the time (I think he worked for the Pioneer Press at the time). Couldn't find anything more recent, Mr. Coleman? As for the partisan thing, when's the last time that a conservative or a Republican (the two are often not the same) viewpoint got a fair hearing in your column? By the way, who/what are Extreme bloggers? He doesn't really say, except to accuse them of being ignorant and having short attention spans. By that description, the Powerline gang doesn't qualify for Extremeness. It makes more sense to refer to Nick Coleman as an Extreme columnist.

    Powerline is run by Ivy League lawyers, one of whom (Johnson) is a vice president at TCF Bank in Minneapolis and works for Bill Cooper, an ex-state Republican Party chairman. Johnson and Hinderaker are fellows at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank that seems to be obsessed with gays and guns and wants to return us to the principles of our founders, although I can't determine if that includes Ben Franklin's skirt chasing.

    Mainstream or Extreme? We report, you decide: Last month, Claremont gave its Winston Churchill Award to that visionary statesman and recovering drug addict, Rush Limbaugh!

    Time magazine's "Blog of the Year" is not run by Boy Scouts. It is the spear of a campaign aimed at making Minnesota into a state most of us won't recognize. Unless you came from Alabama with a keyboard on your knee.

    I guess he meant Powerline, after all. By the way, is there actually something wrong with the principles of the Founders, Mr. Coleman? Which ones would you like to get rid of? Next is a cheap joke on the Claremont Institute, using Rush Limbaugh's drug problem. Would Coleman use John F. Kennedy in the same fashion? I expect not. He then accuses the Powerliners of wanting to turn Minnesota into a vision of Alabama that only Coleman seems to understand. I think this an attempt to insult both Powerline and Alabama. Try harder next time, Mr. Coleman.

    Next, Coleman spouts some stuff about the Ivy League and his early work history that really doesn't bear on anything, unless he's trying to convince his readers that he has downtrodden credentials. Then comes this:

    But Extreme bloggers don't tell truths. They tell talking points. Powerline is the biggest link in a daisy chain of right-wing blogs that is assaulting the Mainstream Media while they toot their horns in the service of ... what? The downtrodden? No, that was yesterday's idea of the purpose of journalism. Extreme bloggers are so hip and cool they can make fun of the poor and the disadvantaged while working out of paneled bank offices.

    I guess this is the paragraph where he explains what an Extreme blogger is. Apparently it's all a function of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I guess that means that Kos and Eschaton are models of objectivity and moderation. These sentences stick out the most: Powerline is the biggest link in a daisy chain of right-wing blogs that is assaulting the Mainstream Media while they toot their horns in the service of ... what? The downtrodden? No, that was yesterday's idea of the purpose of journalism. Mr. Coleman, here I naively thought the purpose of journalism was to report the news accurately and without favoritism, and it's up to the citizens to handle the advocacy part. Silly me.

    Nick Coleman, fact-checker:

    But enough. It's time for auld acquaintance to be forgot. So as a gift to Powerline, let me try my hand at some blogger-style "fact-checking."

    1) "It's totally unexpected," Johnson, the banker, told the newspaper after Powerline won "Blog of the Year."

    But the Aw Shucks Act doesn't fly. Powerline campaigned shamelessly for awards, winning an online "Best Blog of 2004" a week before the Time honor. That online award was a bloggers' poll, and Powerline linked its readers to the award site 10 times during the balloting, shilling for votes.

    2) "We keep it very much separate from our day jobs," said Hinderaker, meaning the boys don't blog at work.

    But they do. Johnson recently had time at his bank job to post a despicable item sliming Sen. Mark Dayton. If I had the money they think I do, I'd put it all in TCF. Then I'd pull it out.

    3) Powerline sells thousands of dollars in ads, including one for T-shirts that say, "Hung Like a

    But does Powerline or its mighty righty allies take money from political parties, campaigns or well-heeled benefactors who hope to affect Minnesota's politics from behind the scenes? We don't know, and they don't have to say. They are not Mainstream. They are Extreme.

    I'll only examine item number 1, since I don't have any useful knowledge about the work habits of the folks at Powerline or the finances of their blog. Check their responses for what they think about Nick Coleman's command of the facts. The first item seems to be an attempt to connect Time's "Blog of the Year" award with the 2004 Weblog Awards poll conducted at Kevin Aylward's Wizbang blog. I'm unaware the editors of Time consulted with Mr. Aylward on their selection but if so, congratulations to Kevin Aylward on becoming Someone of Influence. It ought to be obvious (except to Nick Coleman) the two subjects have nothing to do with each other. Yet he attempts to use them to characterize the guys at Powerline as liars.

    This column was written by a professional journalist? Please, please tell me it's not true.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    Liquid Winter Warmth

    This post at Fraters' reminds me of how a wee bit of spirit is good for same. I fully agree with JB Doubtless' evaluation of Maker's Mark, Knob Creek, and especially his remarks about Booker's. Lovely, sneaky stuff. Wonderful flavor, and then it sneaks back and nails you with that 127 proof. Naturally, I give it as gifts. I do want to suggest another fine bourbon - Basil Hayden's. Tasty and the smoothest bourbon I've ever drank, but at 80 proof not as strong as Booker's.

    It could be that I just missed their ruminations on Scotch (but not their Beer Ratings), but there's nothing like a fine single malt to help one relax a bit at the end of a stressful day. Since I use this blog to write on all sorts of other things I know little about, it's time to keep with that tradition and recommend some single malts. My favorite, The Glenmorangie, is an almost spicy whisky from Tain that has the bonus of a truly wonderful smell to it. To me it's worth it sometimes just to pop the cork off it just for a sniff. Talisker (from the Isle of Skye) has a touch of saltiness and iodine to go with the peat and smoke flavors. The last of my troika of favorites is Lagavulin - who would have thought one could make coal smoke taste good?

    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    Showing Off My Ignorance, #48213

    I have a question about the sturcture of our armed forces. According to this we have just over 1.4 million active duty soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen. As of September this year we have approximately 170,000 people serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom (137,000 as ground forces), a considerable portion being composed of Reserve and National Guard units. Some of these units, I understand, are now preparing or are serving their second tour in Iraq. My question is this: why is what appears to be a significant dependence on our reserve forces necessary to field a 170,000 person expeditionary force in Iraq (a deployment of about 12% of our active duty force)? Is our active duty military so short of support units that the Reserves are no longer reserves?

    My suspicion is that our force structure (is that the right phrase), may be left over from a time where economy was more important that staying power. I freely admit my ignorance however, and am willing to hear better explanations.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    More Garbage from the Strib

    Here's the transcript (via the Corner) of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answering the now famous question about armored Humvees from Specialist Thomas Wilson:

    Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us? [Applause]

    SEC. RUMSFELD: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?

    Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

    SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I’m told that they are being – the Army is – I think it’s something like 400 a month are being done. And it’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.

    As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

    I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they’re working at it at a good clip. It’s interesting, I’ve talked a great deal about this with a team of people who’ve been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.

    And General Whitcomb, is there anything you’d want to add to that?

    GEN. WHITCOMB: Nothing. [Laughter] Mr. Secretary, I’d be happy to. That is a focus on what we do here in Kuwait and what is done up in the theater, both in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. As the secretary has said, it’s not a matter of money or desire; it is a matter of the logistics of being able to produce it. The 699th, the team that we’ve got here in Kuwait has done [Cheers] a tremendous effort to take that steel that they have and cut it, prefab it and put it on vehicles. But there is nobody from the president on down that is not aware that this is a challenge for us and this is a desire for us to accomplish.

    SEC. RUMSFELD: The other day, after there was a big threat alert in Washington, D.C. in connection with the elections, as I recall, I looked outside the Pentagon and there were six or eight up-armored humvees. They’re not there anymore. [Cheers] [Applause] They’re en route out here, I can assure you. Next. Way in the back. Yes.

    How does this answer merit this editorial from the Star Tribune that accuses Secretary Rumsfeld of not wanting to support our soldiers in Iraq? It doesn't. A soldier asks a legitimate question about armored Humvees (even if the question was planted by a reporter) and received a candid response. A response, by the way, that the Strib's editors chose to cherry-pick a sound bite out of , robbing it of context. All this to claim that the SecDef is suffering from hubris, calling him 'delusional', accusing him (for the umpteenth time) of direct responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and raise the bogus NYT story about missing explosives again. Oh, and demanding his resignation again (again not for the first time).

    Personally, I find the idea of the Strib accusing the administration of not properly supporting our soldiers darkly funny, given their support of John Kerry, who voted against funding our forces once they were engaged in Iraq. I have my problems with Rumsfeld (fodder for a later post), but this is just another dishonest argument presented by the Star Tribune editorial board.

    Monday, December 06, 2004

    The Star Tribune Takes a Stupid Pill

    Just when I get done actually saying something nice about the Strib's editors someone points me towards stuff that meets my rather low expectations for their work. This editorial sure lowers my expectations. The juvenile, illogical, two-faced substance and tone of this thing is disgraceful, and thoroughly demonstrates why thinking, reasonable people should rarely, (if ever) take anything written by the Strib's editors seriously. I could say more, but Mitch Berg does a far better job of it than I. Go, read.

    Sunday, December 05, 2004

    Will Wonders Never Cease!

    In the brief time that I have been criticizing the Star Tribune editorial pages I've complained about the sloppy thinking, vitriol towards Republicans and conservatives (not quite the same thing), and bias against same that appears there on a regular basis. Well today I was in for quite a shock, since the Strib ran some opinion pieces that actually sound pretty reasonable ( see here, here, here, and here). In fact the way the Strib advocates a move to a trimmer, more accountable government for the city of Minneapolis sounds almost ... Republican!

    Steve Berg's piece describes how the structure of Minneapolis' government is an impediment to effectively and efficiently running the city, and how difficult it can be for citizens and employees of the city of Minneapolis to work with their government. Staff members getting conflicting instructions from supervisors and City Councilmen, and the struggles to reconcile the often conflicting demands of 13 city councilmen, the Park Board, and the Library Board.

    A piece by John Gunyou provides his analysis of why the "weak mayor-strong council" form of government is not working well for Minneapolis and why it should be change. He points out that with 250 contact numbers for city departments, for example, that it can be very difficult for residents with a problem to figure out who the right people to contact are.

    Another article, this time by the occasionally criticized on this blog Jim Boyd, explains the history of how Minneapolis got the government structure it has.

    Today's editorial describes again (in brief) the problems they perceive in Minneapolis governmental structure and lay out their ideas on how to fix it. I don't agree with everything they say, but it's not a bad start. They even admit to needing some Republican influence in how the city is run (has the world ended? - ed, ).

    All four of the pieces mentioned above are well worth reading, if only for the primer they provide on how the government of Minneapolis is (un)organized and the description of the problems it faces. But since there always seems to be one bad apple on the Strib's tree, here's a piece by Lori Sturdevant ( Isn't she the one who's so partisan she makes your hair bleed?- ed. Shut up.) that makes a lame attempt to blame the city's governance problems on the state GOP, despite the fact that the borrowing and pension decisions that are financially crippling the city now were taken during the time when the DFL had complete control of both the city and the state. But even she concedes that much of the city's problems are of its own making (quite a concession for her). Anyway well worth reading, especially for Minneapolis residents.

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    More from the Pioneer Press

    In a couple more items from the Pioneer Press:

    Minnesota faces $700 million budget gap: About the only comment on this that I have is that the legislature sure seems foolish for passing a law saying that budget estimates could not include inflation. Inflation is a fact of life and needs to be figured into the budget, one of the few things the DFL is correct about.

    In other economic news, Ford plans to reduce the production of Ranger pickups. Since the Ranger is the only vehicle built at the Ford plant in St. Paul, this can't be good news for the people working there. Has the market for small pickups become smaller, or is the Ranger overdue for a design overhaul to better compete with the offerings from Toyota and Nissan?

    Blog Stuff

    Just a couple of notes:

    This little blog has managed to evolve to the exalted status of Lowly Insect in NZ Bear's Ecosystem. Imagine. Maybe in 50 more years, it may manage to become a more significant bug....

    I would like to thank Patterico of Patterico's Pontifications for adding me to his blogroll. I regret not noticing sooner, but I don't think to check my referrer logs very often. I'm not sure why he added it, but if you're in the market for sporadic, yet inane commentary on Minnesota and national politics with some occasional Star Tribune bashing, this is the place.

    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    Gun Owners Are People, Too

    I was rather surprised to see this opinion piece in today's Pioneer press. It's purpose is to remind people that horrified at the notion of citizens defending themselves that people who own guns are every bit as human and normal as themselves. I admit to mixed views on concealed carry laws, but it just seems sad that an essay such as Ms. Stack 's is necessary. Such are our times, I guess.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    Another Silly Question

    After seeing a photo like this (via Damian Penny) I just have to shake my head. Have any of these people (whom I'm sure consider themselves to be more intelligent than mere Bush/Bush voters/GOPers) actually tried to develop or promote a better solution to the problems in the Middle East?

    Based on the press coverage of all the anti-Bush/anti-US demonstrations and protests, it would appear the only interest is in competition to see who can best vilify President Bush. Judging by the startlingly unoriginal, historically illiterate stuff I've seen the last four years, I'd say that the required original thinking is not exactly their forte. Also that it shows their estimates of their own intelligence are vastly overinflated.

    I'm sure that there are reasoned critiques of US policy in response to terrorism and the political cesspool of the Middle East, but has anyone actually crafted an alternative policy that would be different and better than the Bush administrations?

    Monday, November 22, 2004

    Silly Questions

    I have a couple of questions to ask the conservatives/liberals that stumble across this little blog.

    First to the liberals: what does "pay their fair share" mean? What rate of taxation would be too high, even for wealthy folk? Who has first claim on the wealth one earns (we'll assume honestly), the person(s) who earn it or the broader society at large (represented by the government).? One last question : what the hell does "social justice" mean? I mostly see the phrase used by liberals attempting to sell a government program or arguing for an unpopular court decision, so you get the question.

    To the conservatives: given that government is a necessary part of being civilized (no one has made an argument that anarchy works), how do we pay for the functions performed by government? If we have an economy that generates a lot of low paying jobs that do not allow families to fund things that conservatives often consider to be areas of personal responsibility (retirement, private school education for children, health care, etc) what, if anything, can/should be done to help these hard-working people out? For the believers in unrestricted immigration: why is it a good thing (by bringing in large amounts of lower-skilled labor) to increase the competition for jobs at the low end of the income scale, even though there is plenty of competition already?

    Just curious.

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    Yasser Arafat, RIP(ieces)

    This is probably stating the obvious, but like Rantisi and Yassin before him Yasser Arafat's greatest benefit to humanity will be as fertilizer and/or worm chow. Goodbye Father of Modern Terrorism and good riddance. Oh, and enjoy Allah's judgement, you murdering bastard.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Do We Really Have to Tolerate These Guys?

    Now, while I understand that Minnesota has a reputation for tolerance and open-mindedness to maintain, do we really have to put up with these idiots? If I were a Minneapolis resident, I'd be more than a little bit embarrassed to have them in town, really. My first impression was that of a parody site, but alas they seem to be serious. A word of advice guys: Minnesota doesn't need Nazis, find another line of work.

    To Revise and Extend:
    Isn't it the height of laziness (along with stupidity) to think that a person's merit can be determined by their skin color, or who their parents are? Part of the proposition that the United States is based on is that each individual will prove their own merit, if given the chance. Another is that individuals have rights (granted by the Creator, no less) that the State cannot ignore and must respect. Of course, membership in the American Nazi Party clearly demonstrates that concept is a bit beyond them... .

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    When Deranged Blue Voters Attack!

    After reading this lovely missive from Jane Smiley, and these two angry rants from Ken Layne, I am slowly becoming convinced that a significant number of John Kerry's supporters have (probably temporarily) lost their bleepin' minds. The meanness, paranoia about religion, contempt for those who disagree, and lack of understanding of them in these posts boggle the mind.

    First Ms. Smiley. She opens by calling over half her relatives ignorant and greedy. That'll make the next family gathering interesting. But wait, there's more! She attempts to associate red staters with the Confederacy (and all the 'positive' stuff associated with it) in an attempt to vilify them. Setting aside the fact that using the labels 'red' and 'blue' for the two opposing sides of the Civil War is meaningless, she would do well to remember that the GOP was the party of Abolition, and the Democrats who represented the South (and the institution of slavery). 'Twas also the Democratic Party who institutionalized Jim Crow and segregation.
    After that, she moves on to explain that people in the red states are not only ignorant, they are so willfully ignorant as to be uneducatable, so she basically writes off as hateful morons anyone who voted GOP. They were brainwashed by the Cheney-Bush capitalism/religion machine, you see. The combination of unthinking arrogance, condescention, and bigotry (without anything resembling a reasoned argument) in her essay is truly breathtaking. And here I thought that the liberal Left is supposed to be rational, tolerant, and open minded. I don't suppose it ever occurred to her that people who voted for the GOP/Bush/Cheney arrived at their conclusion via a rational process similar to how she made hers. (Judging by her essay, a more rational process than hers. - ed. ) The whole article has the stink of hate and fear about it. Perhaps Ms. Smiley should examine her own assumptions before putting fingers to keyboard next time.

    Ken Layne: Control your anger, young Jedi. Instead of demonizing them, attempt to understand those who voted differenly than yourself. Understand that intelligent people can and do come to reasonable conclusions on the issues of the day that *gasp* are different than yours! Not to mention that insulting people is not a likely way to win them over to your way of thinking. In a bit harsher language - what the hell is your goddamned problem with religious people? Listen carefully you arrogant, bigoted jackass, there are a few facts that need to be considered. First, the person that you call "Jesusland's No. 1 Convert" is not an evangelical. He's a Methodist, and he doesn't really mention his faith all that much more than the White House's previous occupant did. Next, it isn't President Bush's fault that he gets letters of congratulations from idiots like Bob Jones. That's like claiming that John Kerry is a believer in the goals of International A.N.S.W.E.R. . Furthermore your characteriztion of Christians probably doesn't fit the vast majority of those who voted for the President. Additionally, the evangelicals didn't even push Bush over the top - atheists did. So, get off your condescending high horse and grow up. You sound like an angry, angst-ridden teenager.

    On this Veteran's Day

    To those who stood a post where I was not able.

    To the liberators of Europe and Asia.

    To those who fought in Korea and Vietnam, who were for too long unappreciated.

    To those who were vigilant through the Long Night of the Cold War.

    To the liberators of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Thank you.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    Star Tribune Hypocrisy Watch

    It seems that the Star Tribune's editors object to an "anti-Kerry screed" that will be broadcast on 62 TV stations that belong to Sinclair Broadcasting. Apparently from the viewpoint of the Star Tribune, some kinds of free speech should be illegal:

    If the stunt that Sinclair Broadcasting Group is pulling isn't against the law, it ought to be. Sinclair, owner of more American television stations than any other company, has ordered all 62 of its holdings -- which collectively reach a quarter of American households -- to suspend normal programming for one evening just before the upcoming presidential election. The stations are instead to air a one-hour conservative diatribe against Sen. John Kerry. This is a flagrant and cynical abuse of the public's airwaves for a partisan political purpose, an action that should put Sinclair's federal broadcast licenses in jeopardy. For comparison, imagine that WCCO's owner, CBS, ordered it to broadcast Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

    The Strib seems to have forgotten a miniscule thing called the 1st Amendment. Says something about free speech or some such thing. Guess what boys and girls, Sinclair has the same right to editorialize and present their point of view (if that's what they actually are doing - Fox interviewed a representative of Sinclair who pointed out that the content of the program has yet to be decided) as the Star Trib does. If people object to the content, no one is forcing them to watch, and the channel button isn't far away. Perhaps the Strib's editors are just envious of the size of Sinclair's audience.

    The editorial then goes on to describe the film "Stolen Honor" as a conservative diatribe, and attempts to justify why it is far worse than Michael Moore's anti-Bush Fahrenhit 9/11.

    Indeed, Moore's film, while avowedly anti-Bush, is tame compared to the so-called documentary Sinclair plans to broadcast. "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal" focuses on Kerry's antiwar activities 30 years ago. A Web site for the film says it exposes Kerry's "record of betrayal." In the film, one Vietnam POW asserts that Kerry "committed an act of treason. He lied, he besmirched our name and he did it for self-interest. And now he wants us to forget." More than a dozen of the television stations required to air this screed are in the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

    In other words, this film is worse than F 9/11 because it questions Kerry's service, and some of the stations broadcasting it cover battleground states where it might have an impact. Do I need to go into how lame and hypocritical this is? The Strib had no objections to and in fact endorsed the anti-Bush lies and propaganda of "Fahrenheit 9/11" being shown nationwide, not to mention Michael Moore's anti-Bush speaking tour. What is their problem with a dissenting point of view? Heck, Sinclair even offered Senator Kerry a chance to rebut, unlike Moore who evades anyone who would challange him about his movie.

    When Sinclair makes the claim that the program is a news program, the Strib ridicules the claim by saying that 'it wasn't produced by any creditable news organization". Credible like say, CBS? The fact of the matter is, that if the major media had given the accusations of the Swift Vets a proper hearing, and devoted the same resources to investigating their claims as they did to the President's National Guard service, this planned broadcast wouldn't be creating such a stir. The Strib then goes on to restate its initial complaint, that Sinclair shouldn't be doing this because it's wrong to use the public airwaves for political purposes. I've got news for the Strib: as long as Sinclair obeys the rules, they can broadcast whatever they want. It's called free speech. Get used to it.

    Thursday, September 30, 2004

    "Nick Coleman, Real Journalist"

    The Nick Coleman rant concerning bloggers has been covered extensively by other blogs, especially the Fraters', so I only have one comment and one suggestion for Nick.

    Mr. Coleman seems to have not kept in touch with the times. For 18 years he has been able to opine, denigrate, and mock via his column the people whose positions he disapproves of or just plain dislikes without having to worry much about the reactions of those in the audience who disagree. After all, what could they do to him? Problem is Nick old fellow, times have changed a bit. It's easy for the average Joe to publish on the web these days, and when you make an ass of yourself by petulantly trashing the "bloggies" you're picking a fight with folks who possibly have more readers than you do. Of course there is the side benefit of exposing your hackwork to a nationwide audience and providing more embarassment to the citizens of the Twin Cities... .

    Nick, I'm sure you remember Mark Twain's crack about never picking a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel. I suggest that you remember that these days, electrons are cheaper than ink.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    In another post, I asked about how do we get news we can trust. I just want to clarify what I had in mind. One answer to this question is something to the effect of "Use the resources available, especially the internet to check out what the news source is saying". The problem is most of us lack the time to fully research/verify the facts reported about stories of interest to us. After all, most of us do something other than research to make a living. Then there are the time requirements in raising children, maintaining one's home, and/or taking care of the other myriad things that need to be done to maintain one's daily life. That's one of the things that, once upon a time, made the network news kind of attactive. People (rightly or wrongly) trusted Cronkite, Brinkley, et. al. to deliver the important news of the day. Now that we've gotten an inside look at how the sausage is made, so to speak, and now have reason to distrust their descendants at the networks, where will people turn for reliable, accurate information needed to make important decisions (like, who to vote for)?

    A Whiff of Fall

    Fall started for me today (you're about a week late - ed. ) when I left work. When I stepped out of the computer center, I noticed just a hint of the smell the breeze off a harvested corn field has. This despite the fact that there isn't a cornfield within miles and the harvest won't be starting for awhile yet. I lack the words to describe it, but to me, it whispers "Winter is coming..."

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    CBS's Betrayal

    The scandal now called "Rathergate" has moved a lot of electrons while I have been away. Kudos to the folks at Power Line , Little Green Footballs, and others for doing the heavy lifting that exposed this thing. I don't have any facts to add to this, but I do have a few thoughts about the fallout. Briefly covered are the Kerry campaign, CBS, bloggers, and the public at large.

    First, Kerry and Co. . If it turns out that there were contacts between the campaign and CBS News before CBS broadcast the story, Kerry's poll numbers will sink faster than Michael Moore in a leaky rowboat. Even though President Bush is not what I would call wildly popular with the voting public right now, an opposing candidate involved in a fraudulent smear job on the president will rapidly become the villain. I find it difficult to believe they could be this stupid, but if the docs are traced back to someone in the Kerry camp, it's all over but the postmortems.

    CBS. CBS loses on two counts. First they've squandered whatever trust that remained from the days of the big Three networks. Given the degree of sloppiness shown in their rush to get this story on the air, why should anyone trust any of their investigative work? Their eagerness to ignore information that didn't agree with the storyline (Bush was given special treatment, Bush pulled strings, Bush didn't serve honorably) also demonstrates that they do not merit trust as well as showing CBS News to be unprofessional. Second, if it turns out that people inside CBS News were in cahoots with people in the Kerry campaign on this story, then any pretense of the media being objective is finished at CBS. It won't be Fox News that's the poster child of media bias anymore. Oh, and by the way CBS should fire Dan Rather and everyone else connected with the decision to air the National Guard story without vetting the evidence.

    Bloggers. A well-deserved pat on the back. I have noticed a few mentions of the idea that the mainstream media is no longer relevant, because of the presence of the citizen journalist/blogger. I just want to caution that most of the factual reporting is still done by what is referred to the mainstream media (newspapers/TV/magazines), henceforth known as the MSM. Interviews with the Killian family, information about the warnings given to CBS by their own document experts, a statement from the Col. Staudt accused of pressuring the TANG denying Bush was given special treatment, etc. were discovered by the professional press, for example. Bloggers have become a very useful adjunct because there are so many people taking an interest in the controversial stories of the day that mistakes made by the press are found fairly quickly (much to the chagrin of CBS). They also provide additonal, often interesting analysis/citicism of the stories produced by the MSM.

    The public at large. The days of Uncle Walter are over (if they ever existed). People are going to have to get used to the fact that news organizations are not as trustworthy as once believed. This process has been going on for awhile (Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair, Mike Barnicle, etc.) but this is probably the last straw. This leaves the problem of vetting the news reports (often conflicting or incomplete) that people will see from multiple sources, none of which can be guaranteed trustworthy. How will we know which parts of which reports are true?

    Friday, September 03, 2004

    Random Musings on the RNC

    Just a few thoughts about the Republican National Convention, in no particular order:

    Best Speech: John McCain. He laid out the case for taking the fight to the Islamofacists better than than anyone I've heard up to now. His references to "our Democrat friends" made a subtle point about which party reallly is being divisive this year. I don't recall any speakers at the DNC referring to Republicans that way. The ending was a passionate reminder that we are one nation that needs to be united in the face of those who want us destroyed - something else the Dems didn't bother to do. Plus, a wonderful, bonus bitch-slapping of Michael Moore!
    Honorable Mentions: Rudy Giuliani for making a case against the Democrats' being able to properly defend this country, done with a relatively light-hearted touch.
    Arnold Schwartzenegger for giving the most positive speech at the convention (in prime time).

    Zell Miller: Fiery and over the top. He clearly is speaking from the heart and in a style that is reminiscent of decades past. But the rhetoric was too harsh, even if the delegates loved it. I can understand the anger, given the tone used by the Dems in criticizing Bush, but although it was entertaining it was too angry. However, it did not deserve the kind of reaction as quoted from Ken Layne:

    No kidding. I grew up in the South, surrounded by sons of bitches like Zell Miller -- bitter old nigger-haters who couldn't possibly understand why they weren't right about anything -- and this dixiecrat piece of shit is probably the best advertisement for the Bush Administration's Compassionate Conservatism we've ever seen. Thank you, Zell

    Just another example of that famous lefty tolerance and respect for others, I guess. Then we have Andrew Sullivan's view, summarized in his first paragraph here:

    Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

    I fail to see how that is any worse (or even as bad) as Democrats referring to the GOP as fascists, bigots, murderers, etc. . He basically calls Miller a racist without any real evidence, other than 40 year old stuff that at the time was unfortunately a staple for southern Democrats (in which case what does one say about Robert Byrd?). His record as governor of Georgia does not indicate racism, nor does his Senate record. Unless you have real, recent evidence of racism Andrew, shut yer gob or find some other grounds for criticism.

    Andrew went on to officiallly jump the shark after Bush's speech even though he liked it, because Sully is now a one issue voter - gay marriage - and that is more important to him than dealing with the folks who want to kill us. Mr. Sullivan, I just want to point out that Bush's position on the subject (although not mainstream) is closer to the mainstream than yours.

    Bounce: I don't know. The polls I've seen indicate anywhere from a 4 to 6 point boost for Bush, but let things simmer for a few days. So far, neither of these guys has convinced me to vote for him, although I find that I dislike Kerry more.

    Saturday, August 14, 2004

    59 Years Ago Today...

    Japan surrenders. Thank you, Pacific veterans.

    The Strib joins the (tiny) Chorus

    Well, the Star Tribune has finally printed a story about the Swift Vets attempt to present their opinions about John Kerry's Vietnam service. Predictably, the emphasis in the story was on the controversy surrounding the claims and the reactions (mostly by critics of the SBVT) to them instead of actually investigating their substance (and veracity). This behavior pretty much conforms to the rest of the media reporting on the subject.

    In my opinion, this creates a credibility problem for the mainstream press. They fell all over themselves demanding every last detail of President Bush's Air National Guard service when Democrats tried to use it to discredit him. Now, when a group of vets who served in the same unit as Senator Kerry criticize the way he describes (outright lied about, in their view) his service, there is no rush to investigate their claims and Kerry's. This just reinforces an already existing perception that the media is both liberally biased and in the tank for John Kerry. The media would be doing us (and themselves) a major service by paying the same kind and amount of attention to this story about Kerry's service as they did to Bush "AWOL" story.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Steve Sack's Sack Full o' S---

    Once again, the Star Tribune lives down to my expectations, this time via a cartoon by Steve Sack, depicting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth as a group of GOP elephants in a barge dumping garbage into the water under the banner "Operation Smear Kerry" (Unfortunately, no link available at this time. It will probably show up online in a few days.). I guess this is Mr. Sack's audition for the Ted Rall scholarship at the Stupid Cartoonist's Institute. It fails at that too, if only because Sack is a much better artist. In terms of content, it lacks the true malice necessary to aspire to Ralldom. What it does not lack, however, is ignorance and hypocrisy.

    Let's start with the ignorance first. What factual justification could he have for this cartoon? Since no one has actually debunked the claims of the Swift boat vets, how does he know what they are doing is a smear? So far, the Kerry camp's reply to the Swifties has been ad hominem attacks and legal threats. Perhaps he should have waited for his compadres in the press to actually, you know, investigate the Swifties' claims? Maybe, before drawing this cartoon he should have actually looked into their claims and the motives for making them, like this letter (via the Captain) from John O'Neill sent to TV stations in reply to a threat from the Kerry campaign to sue if the stations ran the Swifties' ad attempts to do. But that would involve work and even intellectual honesty, qualities often missing from the Star Tribune editorial pages. It's much easier and faster to suck down a Kerry Kool-Aid instead.

    Hypocrisy. Sack (and the Star Tribune) spent some considerable effort reporting and opining on the bogus Bush AWOL 'scandal'. In fact, here's a Sack
    cartoon on the very subject. What is it about the Swift boat vet's claims that allow them to be so easily dismissed, as Kevin Drum does by calling them lunatics? Thier claims are at least as good as the ones that got the press in a tizzy for weeks trying to prove President Bush was AWOL. Is the swift boat vets' Vietnam experience somehow less valid or less valued than Kerry's, so they can be discounted? Or, doesn't our objective press want to investigate credible claims against their favored candidate?

    Every one of those lefty bloggers and newspapers that were demanding every effort be made to verify Bush's Air National Guard Service should be demanding that the allegations made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth be given the same type of attention. Anything else is a demonstration of their hypocrisy.

    Sunday, August 08, 2004

    "Nice" going, Star Tribune!

    Here's another fine example (free registration may be required) of a cutesy-attempt-to-be-funny, but ultimately crappy editorial from the Strib. In it, they try to use the fact that Dr. Stephen Hawking has changed his mind about the properties of black holes to score cheap points against President Bush and St. Paul mayor Randy Kelly for allegedly flip-flopping. In the case of Mayor Kelly, it was his announcement that he was supporting GWB for re-election this November. As far as GWB is concerned, the Strib considered his desire to be a "Peace President" to be a flip-flop. Let's examine:

    In the case of the Mayor, he couldn't have flip-flopped on this issue because he never said he would support John Kerry in the first place. Sure, he's a Democrat, but I don't see the Strib castigating Republicans who support Kerry for choosing the candidate for the other side, so that can't be it, could it?

    In the case of President Bush, well, all presidents want to be a "Peace President". Nothing new there. I suspect that Bush prefers that we arrive at that peace through victory in the Middle East. I'm not sure we can say the same about his opponent.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    Thanks, MnDOT

    I'd just like to take a moment to mention my total lack of appreciation for the efforts of the malevolent, sadistic bast- er, fine traffic engineering professionals at the Minnesota Department of Transportation in making my daily commute to work from St. Paul such a thing of pleasure this summer.

    They have provided me with plenty of time to catch up on various in-car activities that for some reason I had fallen behind on, such as listening to traffic reports that tell me I'm stuck in traffic. I have to curse bow to the kind of evil genius that timed our summer construction such that not one, not two, but all four major routes across the river into St. Paul from the southern suburbs have construction-related constipation at the moment, thus turning a 20 minute trip into a leisurely hour's drive. Is it not too much to ask that these things be staggered, thus not creating miles-long traffic jams on both sides of the river bridge on I-35E, Hwys 5, 52, and 61?

    Sunday, August 01, 2004

    Positive Campaigning, Democrat Division

    I saw an article in the August 2nd, 2004 edition of the East Side Review ,a weekly newspaper delivered to our neighborhood here in St. Paul, that highlights one of the things I hate about the political season.  I've reproduced a few paragraphs of the article here (typos are mine, there was no link available). 

    Politically motivated graffiti has been popping up on stop signs throughout the suburbs of North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale, and overlapping into the Battle Creek area of St. Paul.
      Vandals have been painting "Bush" at the bottom of stop signs to create the phrase "Stop Bush". The graffiti appeared last Thursday morning on main thoroughfares around the area.

    This turns out to be more than a petty prank, since there is a problem with removing the graffiti:

        The type of ink or paint used must be removed chemicals, making the signs unable to reflect light and extremely difficult to see at night. As a result , all signs with graffiti must be replaced.
        "Basically, they're ruining the signs," said Mark Bartholomew, North St. Paul public works superintendent.
         Signs, which cost $50 apiece, and when city workers' time and equipment are factored in, the total amount to replace each sign comes to at least $70 and could cost as much as $100.

    One would think that if these folks had any respect for the taxpayers of this area, they wouldn't indulge in stupid acts of vandalism that undermine the point they are trying to make.  Even if the point is stupid and juvenile.

    Thursday, July 29, 2004

    No Steps Taken Yet

    After reading this Star Tribune editorial, I must regretfully disagree with the Elder at Fraters Libertas. The Strib won't take the first step until they actually say "We were wrong and we apologize".They are very free with irresponsible accusations (when they can accuse Republicans), it's about time they actually apologized for one. C'mon you editors, suck it up and do the right thing.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004

    Well, another hiatus

    Once again, I've had some posting problems. One set due to being out of town on a short but fun visit to the Windy City, and the other problem being a change to Blogger that broke my (up to now) trusty Mozilla browser. Now armed with a newer version 1.7, it's time to give it another try.
    I do want to offer congrats to Governor Pawlenty for taking the Star Tribune to task about their recent editorial criticising him for visting our National Guardsman in Kosovo. My favorite part:

    Half a world away, in a country few Americans can find on a globe, more than 800 Minnesota citizen soldiers are hard at work. They're keeping the peace in a country that has been torn by war, dictatorship and genocide.

    These men and woman keeping the peace are not full-time soldiers -- they're volunteers in the Minnesota National Guard. And they're the bulk of the U.S. peacekeeping force that stands between the people of Kosovo and violence.

    The First Lady and I are going to Kosovo to thank these brave, selfless men and women and the families they leave at home. The public is understandably focused on places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not forget, however, the tremendous service that members of our military provide in other places such as Kosovo.

    That's why it was so disheartening to read the Star Tribune editorial that criticized our trip to Kosovo this weekend. I normally don't bother to respond to the criticism I receive from the Star Tribune editorial writers. Their perspective is hopelessly imbalanced, increasingly shrill and often just simply inaccurate or incomplete.

    They have an angry and dismissive attitude toward conservatives or Republicans -- unless, of course, the Republicans are the sort who are nearly indistinguishable in their views from Democrats.
    Although I agree with the governor's assessment of the lack of quality of the editorial writers work, important part is where he reminds the Strib about priorities:
    The trip to Kosovo requires that I be gone one business day. I left Thursday evening and return this evening. To criticize being gone one business day to thank our troops when nothing has happened at the Legislature for months is ridiculous and represents a new low even for the editorial writers of this newspaper.
    (paragraph about Minnesota domestic stuff snipped)
    One thing is for sure -- I won't be letting the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard and their important mission in Kosovo take a back seat to partisan theater at the State Capitol. I would also hope that, when it comes to supporting and thanking our troops, the Star Tribune editorial writers would at least pretend to be fair for one day.
    Well said, Governor.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    The above is to remind the Star Tribune what President Bush really said in his 2003 State of the Union address, because in this July21 editorial they seem to think he said something else....

    From loud -- and erroneous -- claims that a link finally had been established between Niger and Iraq, you'd think the entire case for invading Iraq had finally been validated. That's hogwash.

    Everyone recalls the issue: Prior to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration claimed -- most famously in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech -- that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium ore from Niger. Later, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times saying Bush was wrong and that the CIA knew it. The basis for Wilson's claim: He had traveled to Niger at the CIA's behest to investigate the claims and found them baseless.

    The real problem is that Joseph Wilson lied about how he got the task of investigating uranium claims in Niger, and he misrepresented what he reported to the CIA, then publicly accused the President of lying. Earth to Star Tribune: Wilson lied, move on to something else.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2004

    Dana Milbank's Point of View Problem

    I saw this Washington Post story in this morning's Star Tribune and was planning on commenting about it, but Captain Ed beat me to it (and probably did it better anyway). The only thing I have to add is a question: Why did the Star Tribune print this non-story? The only thing that comes to mind is that they printed it for the same reason that Milbank wrote it: to imply to the public that a president they both hate discriminates against women. Why else does the story not supply comparable figures for previous administrations? My completely unresearched guess is that Milbank didn't want to provide a basis for comparison becuase it might work against what he was trying sell.

    Sunday, July 11, 2004

    From Today's Star Tribune

    There were two items of interest to me in today's Strib. The first (free registration required) is a piece by Jim Boyd about how there should be a compromise on abortion, to wit that elective abortions be banned after five months. What interests me is how he justifies the proposal. First, explains how he is personally pro=life, but:

    In my personal life, I am strongly prolife. As I look back on the birth and growth of three sons, and now the efforts of young people to birth my grandchildren (the newest due today, the last arriving a month ago), I can't conceive of a scenario in which I would have embraced optional abortion (optional meaning without the life of a woman hanging in the balance).

    Now here's the but:

    And yet, it is not my right -- nor the right of any American -- to use the state to impose that prolife value on another during the early months of pregnancy. That's because the belief that life begins at conception is not a belief arising from reason and science, but a belief religious people take from their understanding of God. In a land based on the rights of humankind, such religious beliefs do not have a place in the laws that govern human behavior.

    The same test applies to definitions of marriage, to the use of stem cells in scientific research, to most questions of sexual behavior and to many, many other issues that vex the nation because of this latter-day confusion over secular state vs. religious nation.

    So, in his view the idea that life could start at conception can only be a religious idea that can have no basis in reason and science. Well. How breathtakingly arrogant, condescending, and patronizing. I don't suppose the fact that conception is the 1st point in the process where all the genetic material that defines the new human being is present (and starting to build the new body) has any scientific meaning, at least not in his view. After making such a definitive statement, it wouldn't be too much to ask to back it up with say, facts, or reason, or some sort of logical argument? Apparently not. (But isn't it his personal belief?-ed Sure, but he's the one claiming that it's based on science and reason, so it behooves him to back up his beliefs with, say, science and reason!) So where does life begin for Mr. Boyd?

    And yet reason also tells us that somewhere in about the middle of pregnancy, a unique human life does emerge, a life deserving of the rights of humankind the state is organized to protect. We can't nail down precisely when this new life appears; the closest we can come is the age of "viability," when a fetus has developed the ability, with proper nurturing, to live outside the body of its mother.

    So much for reason. All he has demonstrated that he doesn't know when life begins any more than I do. I've chosen a more conservative position, he has specified a moving target. If technology advances to the point where a fertilized egg can be grown to childhood outside of the womb at one week, does that mean that life really begins at conception, then? (Yes,that makes abortion a moot point, but this is a hypothetical question used to make a point, so spare me the nitpicking.) I think his actual criteria is, When is it OK to inconvenience a woman who does not want to be pregnant?

    The 2nd item is one concerning my least favorite filmmaker/propagandist/liar/manipulator, Michael Moore. This story describes the way Moore misrepresents Congressman Mark Kennedy in Farenheit 9/11 by omitting his actual answers to questions about family serving in Iraq. I don't have much to add as the article speaks for itself, but I do have one question. If this is the kind of dishonest filmmaking that Moore is known for, why did the Star Tribune endorse his movie?

    Saturday, July 10, 2004

    Yet Another Screed from the Star Tribune

    Today's lead editorial in the Strib accuses (with little proof) the Senate GOP of protecting the president's backside over the intelligence problems in Iraq. (Note the Star Tribune editorial board never complained about the Democrats covering president Clinton's backside during his troubles...). The occasion for this piece apparently is the release of the Senate Intelligence committee report about Iraq. As the conclusions of the report (the full report is too large for me to download over a dial-up connection) do not even address the Strib's complaints (the next part of the investigation will), it is hard to find any meaningful content in this little screed. This report attempts to document and analyze the intelligence failures prior to the Iraq war. The only thing in this mess that approaches an argument is the Star Tribune's complaint, before it jumps directly to the blame Bush vitriol, is that the investigation should not have been in two parts, but a single investigation along the lines of the 9/11 Commission. Yep, that fine example of a fair, impartial, non-politicized investigation (/sarcasm). The Strib conveniently forgets that a complete investigation probably wouldn't have been completed by the November election. To me, it makes more sense to address the intelligence gathering/analysis failures first. Why? Because it seems to me that any president's decisions are only as good as the information he/she/it bases them on. Therefore, getting reliable, complete (as possible) intelligence is absolutely vital. Placing the political blame is rather secondary. Of course that doesn't fit the Strib's agenda - getting John Kerry elected in November.

    Oh, and by the way if you guys at the Star Tribune want to learn how to write a proper, entertaining screed, just look to your own James Lileks.

    While I've been away...

    I've been on hiatus the last month or so for a couple of reasons, mostly due to troubles controlling asthma but also due to a lack of ambition to write anything. That's one of the good points of having a blog that no one reads - I can step out anytime and no one will notice. (So why this bloviation if no one reads it? -Ed).

    Quite a lot has happened in the last month and a half, so I'm going to quickly spout opinions on a selected portion of events.

    First, Iraq. Sovereignty has been more or less restored to the Iraqi people, and now the real struggle for the future of Iraq has begun, its outcome to be ultimately determined (as has always been the case) by Iraqis. Saddam Hussein has been turned over to the Iraqis and will be put on trial. Robert Scheer takes another opportunity to make a jackass of himself in this piece in the LA Times (free registration required). He seems upset that Saddam was not charged with the actions that precipitated the invasion of Iraq. Well Robert, despite your rock-solid but clueless convictions, I would like to point out that an Iraqi court probably has a different idea about what the important crimes are. They are probably more concerned about his role in populating the mass graves being found all over Iraq and the torture and rape of his own citizens than they are about his support of terrorists and attempts to build WMD. Keep in mind that Saddam's trial does not parallel the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal all that much. At Nuremberg, the Nazis were primary charged with crimes against the peoples of other nations (excluding the German Jews murdered in the Holocaust). In Saddam's case, the crimes he is charged with are primarily crimes against his own people. It is perfectly just and appropriate that he be tried by Iraqis and punished as they see fit. Claiming that the Iraqi government is just a US puppet (without much evidence) does not change this. In any case, Saddam is getting magnitudes more due process of law than any of his victims.

    The Kerry campaign demonstrates more unfitness for high office by his endorsement of the vile, uncalled-for personal attacks at a fundraiser at Radio City in New York. The Democratic Party needs to get its crazies under some semblance of control. For all their complaining about the way the GOP and conservatives treated Bill Clinton, they have gone far beyond that. Various high-profile Dems have accused the president of being a deserter(disproven), a liar (so far unproven), a drug abuser (again with no proof), a dummy, a puppet, etc. since Bush became the GOP nominee for 2000. If Kerry actually has some leadership ability, he should be using it to chastise these intolerant Hollywood hatemongers and morons instead of endorsing their remarks. Example of the stupidity - Meryl Streep castigating the Bush administration for "dropping megaton bombs" on Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq. Since there were no nuclear weapons used in Iraq (fortunately), there were no "megaton" weapons used. My suggestion to Ms. Streep is that she acquire an education before spouting off on foreign policy. She would be less likely to sound like a twit that way.

    The Senate report (in pdf format) on the intelligence efforts in Iraq was released today. Conclusion: the intelligence community screwed the pooch and gave the President bad information and analysis. The spin from some Democrats - Bush/Cheney pushed the CIA to produce the erroneous results because they wanted to wage war. Republican spin - Although the intelligence was inexcusably bad the invasion was still correct policy, but we had better fix the intelligence problem. To me, the important bit is the 'Fix the intelligence' part. How do we fix it? I don't have the slightest idea, other than put more emphasis on getting people in on the ground and relying less on technical intelligence gathering.

    The death of former President Reagan seemed to generate lots of reverence and respect just short of worship from conservatives and the predictable vitriol from the folks on the left. Personally, I don't know where to rate him as president, other than I think he was above average, especially compared to the folks who served just before and just after him. I think it's really too early to pass historical judgment on his Presidency just yet. I suspect that history will be kind to Ronald Reagan.

    Ah, now for my friendly local newspaper. The Star Tribune did indeed live down to my expectations during my hiatus, publishing the usual Bush-hating editorials while ignoring inconvenient facts. The item that most bemused me, however, is a piece by Lori Sturdevant (free registration required). In it, she seems shocked and surpised that two Republicans running in a Republican primary for State Senate would actually um, sound like Republicans and like, mostly agree on how to govern the state. Shocking! She also takes a cheap shot at the Republican leaders in state government, implying they are unable to do the business of government. I suggest she take a look at a Senate DFL leadership that decided that obstruction and inflexibility was the order of the day. They blocked the bonding bill and the budget deal in the last legislative session, and are making a special session impossible through their intransigence.

    Monday, May 31, 2004


    For various reasons that are unimportant at this time, I never served in the military. This means that I cannot completely know or understand the sacrifices made by the people who serve in our armed forces. So rather than bloviate at length, all I've got to say this Memorial Day is:

    For those who stood a post, who have placed their lives on the line in defense of our nation, for those who have chosen to serve where I cannot, thank you for your service.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2004

    Praising the Factually Challenged

    The Star Tribune ran this mentally-deficient editorial about Michael Moore's latest "documentary", Fahrenheit 9/11 today. The first paragraph gives one a pretty good notion why I called it that:

    We haven't seen Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and so cannot praise or criticize the film on its merits. But enough is known about its ambitions and general thrust to establish that this is something Americans should have a chance to see, and so congratulations are in order -- not only to Moore, but to the Cannes International Film Festival jurors who gave it their top award on Saturday.

    The Palme d'Or is of dubious commercial worth, it is said, but in this case it has removed any doubt that deals will be struck to distribute Moore's latest project in the United States, as they already have been struck for every other territory on the planet. Certainly the prize has already increased audience interest in advance of the film's release later this summer. And, as a side benefit, it has added to the deserved embarrassment that Michael Eisner, the Disney chairman, is suffering for having tried to suppress it.

    Don't they do any research before they write these things? First they recommend this film without, by their own admission, having seen it and judging on its actual merit. Apparently ambition and the point of view it expresses (trashing the current US administration) is enough. Second, they repeat the discredited story about Disney attempting to suppress this work of 'art'. The facts are a bit different. Disney told Miramax (and Moore) over a year ago that it would not permit Miramax to distribute the film. Moore was always free to peddle his movie elsewhere, so Disney was not trying to suppress it. They just didn't want their name associated with it. Given Moore's strained relationship with the truth, that sentiment is understandable. The Star Tribune even admits that Moore is a less than honest filmmaker:

    His "Bowling for Columbine" was shot through with fakery, from the staged gun giveaway at a Michigan bank to the soundly discredited notion that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had gone bowling before slaughtering their high-school compatriots. Nor did it probe deeply into the most troubling aspect of American gun violence: its disproportionate visitation on people who are not white and not wealthy. Moore built the film to look like a documentary, and so no matter how vigorously he rejects that label, he can't easily excuse the liberties it took with facts.

    But no critic has yet tagged such a distortion in "Fahrenheit 9/11," which, by all accounts, moves in a very different direction.

    The reason that no critic has tagged any distortions in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is that people interested in actually critiquing the film haven't had a chance to see it yet. The audience at Cannes was not likely to be one critical of his efforts, given that is an attack on George W. Bush.

    The editorial goes on to list events in the movie it heard about in an attempt to make the case that it is factual. Then it makes the following comment about Moore's effort:

    Yes, Michael Moore makes polemics in the form of popular films. So what? The points he is raising deserve to be raised, and they demand answers from a president and an administration who remain dedicated to evading the ugliest truths about this war with a combination of secrecy, denial and blithe changes of subject.

    Setting aside the unwarranted shot at administration (they don't bother to tell us what "ugliest truths" are being evaded for one thing), the editorial writers go on to praise this factually-challenged clown for making polemics. Since the Star Tribune has now officially endorsed the presentation of distorted facts and misrepresented events as useful and desirable, I'll be looking forward to a positive review of Ann Coulter's next work. I just won't hold my breath while I'm waiting.

    Sunday, May 23, 2004

    Why Abu Ghraib is more important than Nick Berg's execution

    Earlier this week my less-than-favorite newspaper published an editorial explaining why the Abu Ghraib is much more important than the story of Nick Berg's execution at the hands of Arab terrorists. Since I disagree with their take on things, I'd like to make a few comments about it. The complete editorial can be found here (free registration required). What follows are quotes from the editorial (in italics), followed by my comments.

    Editorial: Berg, Abu Ghraib/Why the focus is on the prison

    Not even the barbaric beheading of Nicholas Berg, seen in sickening photos and video worldwide, has derailed the scandal over U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. That has left some Americans puzzled, especially those who found in the gruesome murder of the innocent young idealist from Pennsylvania a justification for Abu Ghraib. Why focus on the abuse, they ask, when what happened to Berg was infinitely worse and wholly unjustified.
    For some, the question is disingenuous; they want the focus away from Abu Ghraib for political reasons, and Berg's death became a lever they could use. But some truly are puzzled about why such energy is going into the prison scandal. There are several reasons, some of them mundane, some more complex.

    The main problem here is the attempt to discredit the people asking the question. First is the implication that a significant number of Americans believe that Nick Berg's murder justifies the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. I haven't seen that opinion anywhere, so how did the Star Tribune get the idea that kind of opinion is widespread enough to matter? They are also implying that the people who are most questioning of the focus on Abu Ghraib are those who approve of the abusive conduct there. Rather a nasty thing to say about folks who disagree with them, what?

    At the level of mundane is this: The prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib weren't the same people as those who killed Berg. They weren't even from the same country. Berg was butchered by Al-Qaida, the real enemy in the war on terror.

    The fundamental answer is simpler: Americans are not like Al-Qaida, and we're not like Saddam Hussein. The United States simply doesn't behave as they do, and efforts to find some moral comparison between the prison abuse and the murder of Berg suggest that it should.

    Moreover, Al-Qaida doesn't worry about its reputation, but the United States must. It was Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser, after all, who lamented that the Abu Ghraib scandal will take decades to undo in the Arab world. That damage has serious implications for the American economy and American security.

    This part isn't totally unreasonable, except they continue to propagate (along with the Democratic Party) the idea that Al Qaida is the only enemy. The Bush administration has made it clear all along the enemy is all terrorist organizations with international reach. From President Bush's address to both houses of Congress on September 20th, 2001:

    "I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.

    Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."

    -George W. Bush, September 20, 2001

    Then they continue on with the following:
    But there's another reason this story is gathering, rather than losing, steam: Top civilian and military officials in the U.S. government, many of them Republican, are fueling it. They were sickened by the abuse and the stains it has left on institutions they care about, and they are fed up with the arrogance and incompetence of the Bush administration. They have resented for a long time the cabal of neoconservatives who call the shots in this administration and who are responsible for the failures in Iraq.

    The editors at the Star Tribune seem to think this story is fueled by government disgust with 1.) the Bush administration and 2.) neoconservatives. First, they just state (without a shred of supporting evidence) that the Administration is incompetent and arrogant, as if those opinions are established fact. The voting public will decide that in November. Second, I don't think they would recognize a neoconservative if one walked into their offices, introduced him/her self, and presented them with 'Neoconservatism for Dummies'. After this stuff, they present a semi-chronological account of the events in Iraq, basing some of it on the Seymour Hersh story in the New Yorker. They finish up with the following:

    The most fanatical supporters of Bush have started beating the drum that the whole mess is a creature of liberals and the media, who would like to see Bush lose more than they would like to see the United States win in Iraq. Some also add that the International Committee of the Red Cross is a liberal outfit whose reports on prison abuse can't be trusted.

    All of that is patent nonsense. Abu Ghraib and the failing Iraq occupation get conflated into a general charge that the Bush administration has shown itself to be wholly incompetent. Much of the harshest criticism is coming from old-line conservatives and Republicans. That's why Abu Ghraib remains in the news: Washington leaders of various political stripes are finding common ground in rising up against the neoconservatives and their delusions of grandeur that have bequeathed the United States the looming disaster it now confronts in Iraq.

    The last couple of paragraphs is a contentless attack on the Bush administration. The Star Trib responds to criticisms of the media's handling of this affair by accusing their critics of being fanatical Bush supporters. Well, the Star Trib editorial board is a group of fanatical Bush haters, given the content of their editorials. That hardly makes them objective observers. They then say Abu Ghraib plus the 'failing' Iraq occupation proves Bush to be incompetent. (Of course, the well-executed invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq can't be evidence to the contrary.) They state their opinion of the occupation (that it's failing) as fact, when jury is still out on the question. And then we have the standard 'evil, deluded neocons' argument. Sloppy,sloppy, sloppy.