Friday, October 11, 2002

The Vote

If the previous post made me seem a little pissed off, it should have. I've spent weeks agonizing over whether or nor I support overthrowing Hussein forcibly. It enrages me that someone actually in a position to do something about it wouldn't give it the same thought. I'm sure most of the people who voted did so more out of political calculation and/or blind party loyalty than conscience, but that doesn't mean I can't hate the fuckers for it.

Senate approves war with Iraq 77-23 (21 Dem, 1 Rep, 1Ind voted No):
Senate Roll Call Vote


Arlen Specter(R-PA) voted against closing debate, but then voted for the resolution.

Everyone in a tough reelection fight voted for the resolution other than Paul Wellstone (D-MN). As I stated a while back, I think scheduling the vote before the election was aimed straight at Wellstone. He takes less damage with a No vote, since a Yes would have alienated his base and made him look like a craven opportunist. As it is, he takes a hit from independent rural voters, but it will be partially offset by the unexpected endorsement of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It also strengthens his argument that he will act with integrity, and that his vote can't be bought for either money or political expediency.

I wasn't surprised that Lincoln Chafee voted No (go ahead and switch parties, Linc, they hate you over there), but I am a little that Jim Jeffords did too.

Other than Russ Feingold, who may run as the Holier Than Thou candidate, everyone even rumored to be running for the Presidency in 2004 voted Yes. This may have been a genuine expression of belief on the part of hawks like Lieberman, but it was naked calculation on the part of Biden, Kerry, Clinton, Dodd, and Fenstein (note to Biden, Dodd and Feinstein: stop dreaming, it ain't gonna happen; note to Clinton: look at the spread of how Gore did in NY and how you did in NY, that's how badly you'd lose nationwide, don't do it to the Party).

Bob Graham (D-FL) was the only Southerner to vote No (W-Va is a border state), that took some fucking guts.

I was also surprised to see Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) vote No, that took some guts too. Other than Byrd (who will be reelected forever), Conrad was the only Red Stater to vote No.

Torricelli voted Yes, but I have no idea why (he's always gonna be playing an angle, even when there are none left to play).

Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel caved. I wonder how long it took.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Not Fred's Finest Hour

I'm normally a fan of outgoing Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. He's one of my favorite Republicans (and I don't mean that sarcastically). He seems to have come to his positions through a rational thought process and not through reading a fax from the RNC (unlike the truly excrable Bill Frist). I could tell how disillusioned Thompson was when he realized that his fellow Republicans had no intention of cleaning up politics in DC, and that they just wanted to tilt the rules to benefit themselves. I believe this is why Thompson chose to leave politics. The idea of supporting odious crapmeisters like Trent Lott was just too much for him to handle.

This is why I was disappointed by the lackluster speech Thompson gave in the Senate today. In what is likely to be the last substantive debate of his career, Fred Thompson couldn't be bothered to know what the hell he was talking about.

Thompson spoke as if we were deciding whether or not to go to war with Osama bin Laden (whom he named, wondering if we were supposed to just wait for him to attack again). He even said we'd been more than patient since the attack on the USS Cole, as if that anything to fucking do with the matter at hand. Does he even pay attention as much as I do? Does he even realize what the fuck he's voting on? Shit, I agree with the motherfucker and I'm still embarrassed that he gives this so little thought.

Bush v Labor

Nathan Newman and Sam Heldman are all over the legal aspcts of Bush invoking Taft Hartley, so I thought I'd tackle the political aspects: Bush just lost the Senate. Let me explain.

The Bush administration, or (more precisely) Karl Rove, has pursued a two-pronged approach when it comes to organized Labor:
1) Suck up to them on little things as a way to curry favor, since many swing states are also Labor states
2) Fuck them on matters of substance, since they're almost always opposed to the interests of Bush's sponso, owne, contributors.

This has led to things like the Bushies making a big deal of the Teamsters favoring drilling for oil in Alaska (like truckers are gonna be against cheaper oil) and falling all over themselves to pat Hoffa on the back shortly after repealing workplace safety rules that were favored by all unions.

The Bushies thought they could have it both ways on the Dockworkers lock-out as well. They made all sorts of noise about breaking a strike with National Guardsmen, knowing that this would keep the dockworkers from striking and make them more likely to compromise. That way, Bush would head off a possible strike (and subsequent confrontation with Labor) while still favoring management. It didn't work.

Management, knowing they had Bush in their hip pocket, took the opportunity to push the Union as hard as it could. Instead of Labor and management working out a compromise on terms that favored management but weren't a total capitulation (what the Bushies were aiming for), we ended up with management digging in its heels and locking out Labor. Bush was then faced with an unenviable choice, don't interfere and watch the economy crumble or interfere and watch Labor get mobilized politically.

Bush made the choice he had to. Millions of layoffs right before the election would've hurt worse than a pissed off Labor vote. Still, he's gonna suffer. The Senatorial elections in Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota are all gonna be affected by Bush publicly backing management, as a lot of socially conservative Union members will vote for Democrats as a way of showing Bush they're pissed. I'm guessing that Bush just ensured Harkin's reelection in Iowa and gave a real boost to Carnahan in Missouri. It may even (combined with the VFW's endorsement) cancel out Wellstone's no vote on invading Iraq.

If Bush had left things alone, Labor and management might have struck a deal. But his jawboning on behalf of management only emboldened them not to compromise. Good job. This, combined with Bush's insistent fucking of veterans with health problems, is really putting states like Missouri and Ohio into play for 2004.

Note to those confused by how ending a lockout favors management:
The Taft-Hartley invocation actually orders everyone back to work at a normal pace, which stops the Work to Rule work slowdown the Union had been running. Sam Heldman has a good explanation of why management wanted Bush to interfere.

Sniper News

Jim at Unqualified Offerings is keeping up with the latest info on the asshole sniper in Maryland, including any relevant blogger bullshi speculation.

I'm having trouble believing that
1) Some people seem to think that it's Muslim fanatics (this ain't their M.O.)
2) People have trouble with the concept that it's still terrorism even if muslims aren't involved

Listen folks, the shooters are terrorists whether they have clearly stated political agendas or not. They have obviously decided that they want to cause panic and terror up and down the Eastern seaboard, and they have. They're terrorists. That's the whole point of their sick fucking little game.

That said, it's unlikely they're muslim terrorists. If they were, we probably would've heard about it by now. Frankly, I just see lone sniper attacks as a more American form of terror. In fact, there's a book named Hunter by the same piece of shit who wrote the Turner Diaries (Timothy McVeigh's inspiration). Hunter's book description reads in part:
Hunter is an action novel about race that asks the question, "How should an honorable man confront evil?" Oscar Yeager, a former combat pilot in Vietnam, now a comfortable yuppie working as a Defense Department consultant in the Virginia suburbs of the nation's capital, faces this choice. He surveys the race mixing, the open homosexuality, the growing influence of drugs, and the darkening complexion of the population as the tide of non-White immigration swells. He finds that for him it really is no choice at all: he is compelled to fight the evil that afflicts America in the 1990s; his conscience will not let him ignore it, and joining it is inconceivable.
The way he choose to fight evil is to randomly gun down mixed race couples and Jewish Congressmen. It's much more likely that the killers have taken inspiration from something like this than from radical Islam. I do remember reading that most of the victims were non-white. Anyone know if the white victims were dark-skinned? It could help narrow down the suspects.

If I were going to idly speculate with no evidence whatsoever (and I've got a blog, so you know I will), I'd say that the scumabgs we're looking for fit roughly my description:
Unmarried heterosexual white males in their 30's or 40's, possibly veterans and probably not from a big Northern city, with a history of crappy blue collar jobs, some experience with firearms, a sense of alienation from society at large, and the suspicion that life hasn't turned out as well as it should have.
Basically, we're looking for crackers with a chip on their shoulders and a familiarity with firearms. That was Timothy McVeigh, that's Terry Nichols, that's the assholes who're shooting up Maryland, and (unfortunately) that's me. Shit, they probably have my ultra-short axe murderer haircut and dress in khakis and blue t-shirts too. When they find the guys (and they eventually will), I'll bet one of them would get confused with me in a lineup.

Do all the people who favor the profiling of swarthy young men based on Sept 11th also favor the profiling of white male veterans based on Oklahoma City? If not, why not?

Me, I favor the profiling of young men in general (they shouldn't throw us in concentration camps or anything, just keep an extra special eye on us). Face it, we commit most of the crime and pretty much all the terrorism. Instead of searching little old ladies and former Vice Presidents at the airport, how about searching every guy under 50?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Real Good Dog

My Mother got Winnie, a Keeshound, twelve years ago from a drunken sea captain in Florida who abused her. She was very skittish and shy around strangers, and would retreat to the back yard when people came over or things got too noisy. Over time she got used to her new home and became very possessive both of her territory and her family.

Winnie was a water dog, and would spend hours sitting happily on the prow of the neighbor's fishing boat. She didn't really know why she liked it, but she was never happier that sitting on that boat, gazing across the bayou. She'd occassionally jump into the water and swim around. Only then would she remember that there wasn't an easy way back onto the shore. She'd swim down the bayou to the house of my Mother's neighbor (conincidentally that of a recent Heisman Trophy winner for the Gators) and swim ashore. Winnie would then walk down to my Mother's front door and bark, wanting to be let back in. She lived through two hurricanes, and didn't seem to care for either one (rough weather was always a problem, causing Winnie to reveal her inner scaredy-cat).

When they moved back to Nashville, Winnie traded the neighbor's boat and the bayou for the steep wooded hill behind my Mother's new house. She'd spend most of the day there, sometimes refusing to come in even late at night. This is the time when Winnie first accepted me as part of her famliy, and stopped running away when I approached. She'd wait for me to scratch behind her ears, then she'd bolt for the woods once again. She was still skittish enough that she'd go right through the shock of the invisible fence if scared by a strange noise or person, but she was getting used to her new home.

One day, a shouting family member scared Winnie out of the yard and down the street. She apparently became disoriented and wandered for days. We put up flyers at local golf courses, grocery stores, and gyms. People called, having seen Winnie by the side of the road. My Mother, my Stepfather, and I spent all our spare time wandering around the spot of Winnie's last sighting, calling her name. She never came. Each sighting showed Winnie farther and farther from home. After a big storm blew through town, we'd almost given up.

Over two weeks after Winnie ran away, we got a call from a retired couple 30 miles away. They'd found Winnie or, more appropriately, Winnie had found them. Their Keeshound had died the week before, and Winnie had apparently been drawn by the scent. One night when it had been raining, the couple was startled to see another Keeshound scratching at their back door. That was Winnie. They took her in and fed her, then called the number on her tag (they hadn't seen any of our flyers).

After her big adventure, Winnie didn't spend as much time in the woods and became less afraid of strangers. Suddenly, home seemed like a pretty nice place. When I'd dogsit, she'd come inside as soon as it started to get dark or whenever rain threatened. She'd jump up on the bed and curl up next to my face as I slept, and she'd follow me as I wandered around the house as I walked. That was one dog who never wanted to be alone again. I'd take Winnie walking in the park, and she'd just glow with all the attention paid to her by both man and dog (but especially by kids).

Winnie was the sweetest, happiest dog you'd ever want to know. People would always ask How old is your puppy? because she was so cheerful and bouncy on our walks. They'd be shocked when I told them she was fourteen years old, because few old dogs are were so cheerful and so ready to meet new people (this, the same dog who used to hide in the woods at the approach of a stranger to the house). My Mother had worked a miracle with Winnie, who became sweet and patient, always happy to be loved and to love in return.

A few weeks ago, she started having problems breathing. She never snapped at us, as often happens with sick dogs. Winnie just looked at me with those big sad eyes as if asking me to help her. I'd always been able to help her in the past. I'd give her food and water, take her for walks, remove ticks, scratch her ears when she was lonely. Why couldn't I make her feel better now? I didn't have an answer. I'd just scratch behind her ears and whisper her name. She didn't even want to go for walks anymore. As it turns out, Winnie had cancer and nothing could be done. She's gone now, and my life will be poorer for it. Winnie was a living example that love can bring wondrous changes. She'd gone from an abused and scared young dog, afraid of any noise or disruption, to an old dog secure in the love of her family and always ready to meet fun new friends. Winnie was a real good dog, and I'll miss her deeply.

Who Needs the Onion?

Candidate Turned Himself Blue
Montana's Libertarian candidate for Senate has turned blue from drinking a silver solution that he believed would protect him from disease.

Either With Us Or Against Us

Demosthenes replies to all those who confuse disliking George Bush with disliking America:
I'd like to come out and say that, yes, I'm against Bush. Many people are, both inside and outside the United States. We don't want his agenda passed, we want his policy initiatives checked, we think that his (s)election was a sad mistake, we want the Democrats to take Congress so they can frustrate his attempts to remake America in the image of his neo-conservative handlers, and we think his foreign policy is deadly dangerous. We don't want him to be president a minute longer than he is constitutionally entitled to, and will bend our every effort that we legally can to ensure that he follows his father's legacy of a single-term presidency.

We are not, however, against the United States. If we were, we wouldn't work against him, and the harm he would do to the United States. We'd let him do it, and reap the rewards of the chaos, inequity, economic ruin and lowered standard of living that he could leave the United States in.

I think it's pathetic that people actually have to explain that they don't hate America just because they oppose invading Ir, violating civil libertie, packing the Federal cour anything Bush wants to do. Criticizing the government and suggesting alternatives is the fucking basis of our democracy. It's not unAmerican; it's as fucking American as you can get.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Teddy Roosevelt


A Liberal is a Conservative who's been arrested.

A Conservative is a Liberal who's been mugged.

A Social Conservative is a Liberal with a daughter in High School.

Giving Money to Politicians is Participating in the political process.

A Tiny Marked Off Area Far From Anyone is a First Amendment zone (apparently the rest of the country isn't).

A Strict Constructionist is Someone who doesn't believe that the 4th and 5th Amendments apply to suspected drug dealers, but that the 14th Amendment does apply to Corporations.

A Liberal Activist is Someone who doesn't believe that Congress can overrule any Amendment to the Constitution other than the 2nd.

Bipartisanship is People in the other Party voting the way I want them to.

Partisanship is People in the other Party not voting the way I want them to.

A Federalist is Someone who doesn't think the Federal government should interfere with States' Rights, except for Drugs, Assisted Suicide, and Presidential Elections.

Counting All the Votes is Stealing the election.

UPDATE: A Libertarian is a Conservative who smokes pot.

Hope this clears things up.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Open Letter Blogburst

Regardless of your feelings about war with Iraq, you should definitely read through the letters in the Open Letters Blogburst organized by Ampersand. Reading thoughful and intelligent pieces are always good for you, especially if you disagree with them. Some samples:

From Unqualified Offerings:
Many mild critics of the administration have worried that the Iraq war "could spin out of control." They are missing the point. It is supposed to spin out of control. It is very, very easy to start a war. It is very, very hard to end one. The prudent country therefore starts few, and for the direst reasons only. Once you, by your vote, put us in, you will have no leverage toward getting us out. "Support our troops!" you will hear. "Finish the job!" The job will grow progressively larger as the war lengthens. It will take much more courage then to stop the process than it will take now to keep it from starting.

From Body and Soul:
We have come to a moment in our history when the very essence of who we are as a country is at risk. Will we be a democracy or an empire? A country that believes in the rule of law and respects other nations' rights, or the toughest gunslinger on the planet? Will we wage war only after careful consideration by Congress, or on presidents' whims?

From Through the Looking Glass:
With that in mind, it is disturbing to see how much stress the administration puts on potential risks of nonmilitary action, and how little, if at all, it addresses the risks of war. Even if American forces do succeed in quickly and effectively displacing the current Iraqi regime, what replaces it? The Iraqi population is riven with sectarian divisions, including sectarian groups which might well attract military support from others in the region --- not to mention the ethnic Kurdish region in the north with ambitions to independent statehood. It is unlikely that, after the displacement of Saddam Hussein by American action, these groups will decide to resolve their differences by the unprecedented procedure of holding a fair election and abiding by the results. It is more likely that the result would be some level of armed conflict on the ground, with the potential to spill over the border.

From Sisyphus Shrugged:
I also find it somewhat obscene that as Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?) tries to claw itself out of the smoking lawless rubble that wave after wave of outsiders have reduced it to, we have chosen to walk away without fulfilling our commitment, freely - and loudly - entered into, to help rebuild.

There's lots more.

The Bush Doctrine

Ara Rubyan expressed his opinion in the comments section to an earlier post:

Bush's black and white position on the war on terror is mostly talk.

He should be held to account for his failure in living up to his own Bush Doctrine. I keep waiting for a Democrat to lay it on the table.

I'm a liberal and I can say that I take a very tough line on the war on terror compared to my peers.

I think the Bush Doctrine is correct. I just wish Bush would act instead of just talk.

I also take a very tough stance on the war in Israel.

Again, I think the Bush State Department is making a mockery out of Israel's war on terror, making it into some blood feud between Sharon and Arafat. Wrong again.

So, like I said, I actually like the Bush Doctrine.

What can I say? I can also walk and chew gum at the same time.

My position is this: Since Bush has betrayed his own Bush Doctrine by cozying up to the likes of the Saudi ruling class and by doing ANYTHING other than plastering Arafat's face on a wanted poster, then I think the Dems (like Lieberman has already done) should occupy the space to the right of Bush on the war on terror.

I wouldn't mind it if one of them accused Bush of being "soft on terror."

This would frame the foreign policy debate. It would force Bush to defend his record. HE invented the Bush Doctrine. Let him answer for why he has shot it full of holes.

It would also drive a wedge between him and the rest of his party reps in Congress, especially the House.

For example, I think Kerry's analysis of the battle of Tora Bora was correct, i.e., we blew it -- we let al Qaeda get away...........

..........I can't tell you how often I've been in the strange position of defending the Bush Doctrine when conservatives are instead defending Bush.

As far as I can tell, the Bush Doctrine can be summarized as
1) If you're a terrorist, we're gonna get you
2) If you harbor or aid terrorists, we're gonna get you

The House of Saud has in the past harbored terrorists and is still involved in funding them. Yet Bush has a Saudi Crown Prince to his "ranch" in Texas. How is this consistent?

Not only has the PLO carried out terrorism itself, but it continues to harbor those who do. Yet the White House rips into Ariel Sharon (incidentally, one of my least favorite Israelis) when he attacks the PLO and isolates Arafat. How is this consistent?

There are far more obvious ties from Sept 11th to Saudi Arabia than to Iraq, yet we plan to invade Iraq (not that this may not be a good thing for completely different reasons). How does this match the Bush Doctrine?

Terrorists and their supporters are still scumbags even if they've got lots of oil and fat contracts with Western oil companies. Does anyone think we'd be inviting a bunch of intolerant, terrorism funding, Wahabbist monarchists over for a BBQ if they didn't have oil?

The two guys who've spoken the most sense on this appear to be Joe Lieberman, whom I don't like for other reasons (especially his position as the premier corporate suckup in the Democratic Party) and John Kerry (who I agree with on most stuff other than trade and his Godawful hair).

Oddly enough, about the only thing Sharon has done in his entire life that I agree with is to move into the West Bank and Gaza and take out the terrorists that Arafat won't touch. It also happens to apparently be the only thing that Sharon has done that Bush doesn't like. Like Ara, I find myself in the weird position of agreeing with the Bush Doctrine far more than I agree with George Bush. As best as I can summarize my opinion, Israel has as much right to self-defense as we do, and we should help them with it whenever possible.

More About Guns

Armed Liberal is all over the Guns vs Terror issue, with a half dozen posts and dozens of comments by others (all the posts between 10/3 and 10/7). A few key graphs:
It’s no more true that 2nd Amendment absolutists want ‘no regulation’ than that gun control advocates want ‘no guns’. The reality is that both political organizations are increasingly radicalized. Sadly, because I know that the large majority of gun owners would accept some reasonable regulation (I know I’m handwaving a bit here), as long as it was tied to some irreducible right rather than being this year’s slice of the salami.

No, the issue isn’t that we’re a ‘violent country’ so we should do nothing; it’s just that we are a violent country and this piffle about gun control gets in the way of finding and fixing the problems that make us so.

Well, we’re in agreement – the target is gun crime. But then why does everyone focus on the one variable that is a) relatively uncontrollable – there are more than enough guns in the world today to provide for criminals for the next millennium; and b) shown not to have major impacts on the gun crime we are concerned with?

Meanwhile, Tim Dunlop (who is understandably worked up over this, since he lives near where the shootings have occurred), is really pissed that Armed Liberal and I have asserted that an armed citizenry would be more effective against random shootings than the police are. He's even taken offense at South Knox Bubba and his readers forguessing what kind of weapon was involved (but not, oddly enough, with another blogger forspeculating about exactly how skilled the shooter really is):
But when it comes to having an opinion on who should and shouldn't own a gun, Americans in general should shut the hell up. They don't know what they are talking about. They have nothing useful to contribute to any wider debate on the topic.

This is because Americans in general have not lived in a country where there isn't an (arguable) constitutional right to bear arms. Where there isn't an incredibly well-funded lobby group who makes it there business to help elect people who want the ownership of guns as uncontrolled as possible. Where there isn't a gun manufacturing and retailing industry who are similarly motivated. Where there isn't a gun culture.

In short, Americans have no experience of what the world can be like without the centrality guns, and all their thinking on the subject is therefore tainted.

Tim is right with his suppositions, but wrong with his conclusions.

Americans have never lived in a society in which crime and violence are not primarily gun related, nor will we. Because of this, we have a better perspective than do people who live in places without many guns (Denmark, Sweden) or even places with a shitload of guns but very little gun crime (Switzerland). The Danish example of a society with few crimes and few guns doesn't help us any more than the Swiss one, with every household containing an automatic weapon.

Like it or not, there are more guns than people in the United States. There's virtually nothing we could do (short of becoming a police state) to change this. Like it or not, most violent crime is committed with a gun. There may be things we could do to change this.

First, we could make it harder for people who aren't supposed to get guns (convicted felons, the mentally ill) to get them. This is not the same thing as making it harder for people who aren't mentally ill or felons to get them. If our laws make it much harder for law abiding citizens to get guns when they're supposedly targeting other people, then we've just managed to make millions of people ready to oppose and/or subvert those laws whenever possible. That's not going to work.

If we want to limit gun ownership to people who aren't a proven threat, then the first thing we have to do is guarantee to law abiding citizens that they do have a right to bear arms. That's right. If we affirm, once and for all, that the 2nd Amendment gives a personal right to gun ownership, this would be the best way to garner support for gun control. Let me explain.

Many gun owners see every gun control measure, no matter how benign, as another step towards taking away their right to bear arms. This is true both because of paranoia whipped up by right-wing politicians and pundits who want to manipulate gun owners into supporting their other causes (regressive taxation, reversing environmental laws, et al) and because some gun control advocates sincerely do want to ban all guns. As long as a complete ban on gun ownership is even a possibility, then many (if not most) gun owners will oppose any attempts at gun control.

Once we've affirmed that the 2nd Amendment does confer the individual right to keep and bear arms, we will have taken a gun ban off the table. Once this is done, the majority of gun owners, knowing that their rights are safe, won't object to reasonable gun control measures. A few will, but they'll be much easier to overcome when their hysterical ravings are ignored by the majority of gun owners.

2nd, we need to make punishments for violent crimes (especially those involving guns) much, much stiffer. A large part of this can be accomplished by reorienting the police, the courts, and our limited prison cells away from the disastrous War on Drugs and towards controlling violent crime. Those prisons currently full of nonviolent drug offenders would much better serve our interests if they were full of murderers or rapists. One of the real shames of our criminal justice system is that we can't incarcerate truly dangerous felons long enough because the space is being used for people who pose no danger to anyone but themselves.

3rd, we should acknowledge that the police cannot be everywhere all the time, and that reasonable people should take some steps towards self-protection. For some, this would mean martial arts training. For others, it would mean being allowed to carry a firearm, but only after a background check and thorough training. Not only would the amount of stranger-on-stranger crime decline, as criminals wouldn't be able to guess if a potential target was armed or not, but domestic violence would decrease as well (who's going to beat a woman who has access to and the training to use deadly force?). We would also find ourselves better equipped to deal with the rare but very real shootings like those on the Long Island railroad or in the San Ysidro McDonald's.

Tim is correct in that we are a nation truly flooded with guns. However, this doesn't mean that we can't see what we should do to protect ourselves. It means that we're the only ones who can.

Update: Reader John Tuttle wrote in to point out that Denmark is one of the European countries in which gun owning is relatively widespread. I'd had some Swedish friends explain all the hoops they had to jump through just to buy a pellet gun, and I'd assumed the same held true immediately across the Oresund. Glad to be set straight.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Separated at Birth?

Legal Notice

If Major League Baseball picks as their alleged Most Memorable Moment the sight of Mark McGwire's suspiciously pumped up body hitting his 62nd home run of the year, I will projectile vomit directly onto Bud Selig.

Don't say you weren't warned, Bud (and have lots of fun watching the Twinkies do better than the Brewers ever have).

Got Their Number

Atrios found a great quote from Norman Davies:
Theorists of propaganda have identified five basic rules:

1. The rule of simplification: reducing all data to a simple confrontation between 'Good and Bad', 'Friend and Foe'.

2. The rule of disfiguration: discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies.

3. The rule of transfusion: manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one's own ends.

4. The rule of unanimity: presenting one's viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star-performers, by social pressure, and by 'psychological contagion'.

5. The rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations.

Sounds a lot like the Limbaugh/Sullivan/Hannity theory of argumentation.

My question: Did they just stumble upon these techniques, or did someone actually sit down and decide to limit their message to phrases short enough to be shouted and to personal insults?
(yes, I'm familiar with Gingrich's writing on the subject, but this predates him)

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Petard, Hoist, Own

Mark Kleiman posts a NY Times story and adds some analysis. Apparently, Doug Forrester, the Republican nominee for the NJ Senate, sued and won during the Republican Primary to be allowed to take the ballot position of a candidate after that candidate had withdrawn from the race. This happened after the 51 day deadline for substituting candidates had passed. Now Forrester has the exact same lawyer arguing an opposite interpretation of what he'd argued earlier this year.
Mr. Genova also uncovered a legal memorandum from Mr. Forrester's lawyer written in April, when State Senator Diane Allen, one of Mr. Forrester's opponents in the Republican primary, was trying to block him from taking the ballot position of James W. Treffinger. Mr. Treffinger, the Essex County executive, had resigned from the race because of scandal three days earlier, or 40 days before the primary.

Senator Allen maintained that moving Mr. Forrester's name to Mr. Treffinger's place on the ballot would come too late under Title 19 of the state election law, which sets a deadline of 51 days before an election for ballot substitutions. It is the same argument that Mr. Forrester's lawyer, Peter G. Sheridan, made before the State Supreme Court on Wednesday, opposing Mr. Lautenberg's placement on the ballot. The Democrats said that the deadline was merely a guideline.

In April, Mr. Sheridan read the law the way the Democrats do today.

"Strict compliance to statutory requirements and deadlines within Title 19," Mr. Sheridan wrote, "are set aside where such rights may be accommodated without significantly impinging upon the election process."

Not that Forrester or his lawyer will feel one bit of embarrassment in this at all.

BTW: If any of you really think that Lautenburg should be kept off the NJ ballot, do you also think that Katherine Harris should be kept off the Congressional ballot in Florida (for missing the deadline to resign as Secretary of State) and that Mitt Romney should be kept off the Governor's ballot in Massachusetts (for failing to change his legal residency in time)? If not, why not?

UPDATE, Note to Mark: Bill Frist is a venal wingnut. Don't expect anything good or decent from him. He's much too busy currying favor with the powers that be in preparation for his 2008 run for the Presidency (and he will definitelyrun) to bother with being anything but a partisan hack.