February 29, 2004

Who should you vote for?

So for those of you who don't really know who you SHOULD vote for, based upon your opinions of several key issues, here's a link so that you can find your way.

Or worse, so that you can realise that you're voting for the wrong person.

Or even worse, that the wahoos running the site can influence your opinion because you're not paying attention, so you'll drink their koolaid and then vote the way they want you too.

In the end, I'm still voting for Ross Perot, for the 3rd election in a row.

Posted by jaybird at 11:44 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Oscar Predictions

Because I like the idea of people dangling out there in public view with predictions about unpredictable phenomena, here is my ballot, just now prepared, in anticipation of the Oscar-viewing party that will be taking place here in a few hours.

Note that these are not necessarily who I think should win, but just who I think will win. Or at least, my best guesses in my effort to secure bragging rights among the other losers who'll be attending. Follow the link below, or scroll down, for the full picture.


Posted by jbc at 01:43 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2004

Bush: Science? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Science!

One more item in a very long list: Bush ejects two from bioethics panel. What do you do when prominent scientists on your advisory panel tell you your policies are a bad idea from a scientific perspective? Fire them, and replace them with less-prominent scientists who agree with you. Problem solved!

Except, of course, for this: Science, by definition, is all about understanding reality as it is, not as you would have it be. Once you start intentionally stacking the deck to allow "your" side to "win," it's no longer science. It's make-believe.

Maybe if you're the kind of president who doesn't read much, and got a C average in school, and was more interested in partying than studying, you don't mind having a make-believe science panel. But see, it's a problem. Because the president needs science advisors, and he needs them to be honest scientists, not just puppets chosen to repeat back the positions he's already decided will work best for him politically. Because science, for all its imperfections, is the best tool we have for understanding the non-obvious aspects of the universe. And it's important to have that perspective when you're making decisions that will have a direct and lasting impact on a good chunk of the planet's population.

Posted by jbc at 08:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Imaginary Girlfriends

From Janus/onan comes word of this nifty service: Imaginary girlfriends. "The girls are real. The relationship is not."

Posted by jbc at 08:19 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2004

Kerry's Electability

You know I didn't think Kerry came off all that Presidential until I noticed that he may have already been elected previously.

I guess he won't take any crap from the British...

Posted by ymatt at 09:10 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paris Hilton: Porn Director

I saw this the other day, but the significance of the claim didn't really register in my mind untill today. Rick Soloman has filed a lawsuit against "Marvad Corp", for displaying still shots taken from the well known video of he and Paris Hilton having sex on their web site. The basis of his suit is copyright infringement -- which is key to keep in mind, because Marvad's lawyers have responded by claiming that as "The Producer", he is commiting fraud by claiming copyright without the consent of Paris Hilton, "The Director".

From their petition: "Ms Hilton offered directorial comments and physically controlled and directed the camera. Solomon's failure to identify Ms Hilton as a co-author on the application for copyright registration renders the certificate of registration invalid and fraudulent."

Posted by hossman at 02:18 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 23, 2004

Racicot: Bush Volunteered for 'Nam

Wow. From the same team that brought you "outsourcing jobs to foreign countries is good for America," we now have yet another choice election-year sound bite, and yet another reason to keep talking about Bush's spotty attendance in the Texas Air National Guard: Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot's statement to Juan Williams during an NPR interview that Bush's Vietnam-era service "compares very favorably" with that of John Kerry, and that in fact, Bush "volunteered to go to Vietnam. He wasn’t selected to go, but nonetheless served his country very well..."

As with Clinton and Monica, it's not the act itself that's such a problem. It's the lying about it after the fact. I don't have any problem with the way Bush pulled strings to avoid going to Vietnam. But I have a big problem with his attempting to claim that his military service is in any way comparable to John Kerry's. Because it just isn't. And for him to claim otherwise is dishonest, and an insult to the electorate's intelligence.

Joshua Micah Marshall has more: Just when you start debating...

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February 22, 2004

Bush's Poll Problem

I noticed that Professor Pollkatz hadn't updated his very interesting Bush approval ratings graph in a while, and since I'd been reading that Bush was dropping in the polls again, I wanted to get a graphic representation of things. So I went to PollingReport.com's Bush job ratings page, and whipped up the following (click on the graph for a larger version):

(Update: As of 13 May 2004, I've updated the polling data in the graph to reflect the latest figures.)

As you can see, the pattern I discussed previously (in The silk-purse president and Bush descending) continues. Bush's poll numbers, in the absence of a big event like 9/11, the premature celebration of the not-quite-end of the Iraq war, or the capture of Saddam Hussein, trend only in one direction: down. Without a national crisis to rally us around the flag, or a dramatic success story with good visuals, people tend to move in only one direction in terms of Bush approval: away from him.

I'm sure this isn't a secret to Karl Rove. Without some big event to bolster Bush's approval at just the right time, he's toast in November.

There's a rumour among tinfoil-hat liberals that Bush actually has Osama bin Laden on ice, either breathing or not, and is just waiting for the right moment to announce his capture and/or killing. I don't know that I buy into that, since the conspiracy necessary to pull off something like that would be tricky, and risky. But if Osama suddenly does appear, just in time to save Bush's second term, say around September or October, I'd be awfully suspicious that there was hanky-panky involved.

Anyway, that's a conspiracy for another day.

Posted by jbc at 12:46 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Mark Green on Bush's Reality

The Bush supporters in my readership (both of them!) having been driven away by my heavy-handed election year partisanship, I'm now free to link unto the following bit of unrepentant lefty snark from Mark Green: W's reality gap.

Posted by jbc at 07:38 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Marshall Gets Letters on Gay Marriage

Joshua Micah Marshall posts some very interesting email he has received since posting about his own wrestling with the issue of gay and lesbian marriage versus civil unions: As probably comes as no surprise....

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February 21, 2004

Send Flowers to the Gay Betrothed

Here's a cool idea: Flowers.

Posted by jbc at 02:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Electronica Quickee Mart

If you like electronic music, or find it baffling, or a little of both (*handraise*), you should check out Ishkur's guide to electronic music. I was amused when I realized I'd been listening to the same 20-second sample, looping, for about 20 minutes, without realizing that that wasn't just the actual piece.

Thanks to Hiro for the link.

Posted by jbc at 01:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marshall on the Stolen Democratic Memos

Joshua Micah Marshall has some interesting scuttlebutt about the ongoing investigation into the theft of thousands of memos from Democratic staffers by Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee: Bad counsel. Apparently the Republicans on the committee have told conservative activists who were spouting off about how the theft really wasn't a big deal that they (the activists) really ought to cool it, because the investigation is turning up lots of wrongdoing that is pretty clearly illegal, and it's likely to result in criminal charges. And Marshall speculates that that could mean the appointment of a special counsel, with the resulting investigation involving not just Republican Senate staffers, but the office of the White House Counsel as well.


Is it just me, or is the confluence of bad karma coming home to roost in the Bush administration reaching Biblical proportions?

Posted by jbc at 01:08 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

How the New York Times Helped Sell the War

From Michael Massing, here's a long but really excellent article on how the New York Times (among other media outlets) helped the Bush administration make its case for war by hyping bogus WMD intelligence and downplaying the concerns of those who thought the administration was giving a one-sided version of reality: Now they tell us.

Particularly interesting to me is the way Massing points out that in the run-up to war, most major daily newspapers in Washington and New York were running front page stories that were largely supportive of the administration's position. Stories that were critical tended to be consigned to page 10 or 15. That's an aspect of the coverage that I didn't really notice at the time, since I was reading most of the stories online, following links from third parties or Google search results or what have you.

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February 19, 2004

RFK Jr. on Bush's Bad Science

Here's a really good article by Robert Kennedy Jr. that contains more detail on the Bush administration's war on science: The junk science of George W. Bush.

Posted by jbc at 02:40 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

McClellan: Sorry, No, I Disagree

Also via Joshua Micah Marshall, you really must read this exchange with everyone's favorite White House press secretary: Press briefing by Scott McClellan. At issue is how the White House is already backing away from the prediction it made a week and a half ago that 26 million new jobs would be created this year. An excerpt from late in the exchange, after McClellan has already sidestepped the question several times:

Q Why -- if you're suggesting that people will debate the numbers, that's kind of a backhanded way to say, oh, who cares about the numbers. Well, apparently, the President's top economic advisors do, because that's why they wrote a very large report and sent it to Congress. So why was the prediction made in the first place, if the President and you and his Treasury Secretary were going to just back away from it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I disagree with the premise of the way you stated that. This is the annual Economic Report of the President and the economic modeling is done this way every year. It's been done this way for 20-some years.

Q So why not -- why aren't you standing behind it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think what the President stands behind is the policies that he is implementing, the policies that he is advocating. That's what's important.

Q That's not in dispute. The number is the question.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but the President's concern is on the number of jobs being created --

Q My question is, why was the prediction made --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and the President's focus is on making sure that people who are hurting because they cannot find work have a job. That's where the President's focus is.

Q Then why predict a number? Why was the number predicted? Why was the number predicted? You can't get away with not -- just answer the question. Why was that number predicted?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've been asked this, and I've asked -- I've been asked, and I've answered.

Q No, you have not answered. And everybody watching knows you haven't answered.

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree.

I like that because it reminded me of a great piece that ran in The Onion back in March of last year: Point-counterpoint: The war on Iraq.

Posted by jbc at 11:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marshall: Blowing Up the WMD Buck

Joshua Micah Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo makes a good point on the way Bush is trying to deal with the WMD "intelligence failure" these days:

Knocked on his heels by increasing evidence that he willfully deceived the American public, President Bush is off to a new strategy of spreading around the blame. Let's call it the anti-buck gambit. Don't pass the buck. Just get an M-80, light it, put it over in the corner with the buck on top of it. Then no more buck, no more problem.

Marshall goes on to cite some of the blatant revisionism in Bush's current attempts to say that hey, we were wrong, the CIA was wrong, the Congress was wrong, the UN was wrong; everybody was wrong. So what are you picking on me for? Anyway, here's the whole thing: Back to the tangled web files...

Posted by jbc at 10:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush National Guard Woes Post-Mortem(?)

Righties are tiptoeing very, very quietly away from the issue of Bush's National Guard service, in hopes that the story has really been done away with. And the shock troops of the right are already hard at work smearing Kerry, anyway (the best defense is a good offense, and all that). But in the meantime, a few more-thoughtful types have some final words on the subject.

Kevin Drum at Calpundit has a great roundup of what we know, what we think we know, and what we know we don't know: National Guard finale? And he has an interesting followup to the Calhoun assertions (from the guy who claims Bush did his Alabama Guard service sitting in his office reading airplane magazines): More from the Memphis Flyer.

Meanwhile, Bill Maher makes some excellent observations about the way Bush is trying to equate his own service, such as it was, with the perils faced by Guardsman today: Bush draftdodger.

Posted by jbc at 10:39 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Bush Science Bites: Film at 11:00

So, a group formed of many of the top scientists in the country, including 20 Nobel prize winners, are making a stink about the Bush administration's systematic and wide-ranging undercutting of the scientific process in cases where the findings of science are in conflict with Bush's political agenda: Scientists: Bush distorts science.

This is pretty much the heart of the case against Bush. His administration is all about twisting facts to fit a priori conclusions, rather than basing conclusions on the available facts. Which is why I think he's toast in November: Because the more successful he is at making the case that this is a dangerous world, with scary people out to get us, the more obvious it is that someone who ignores inconvenient data, refuses to acknowledge and correct for his own failures, and strenuously pretends that ideologically preordained policy positions are the perfect answer to every problem, regardless of that problem's specifics, is not a particularly good choice for president.

Posted by jbc at 08:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Authors Review Own Books on Amazon

Somewhat interesting story, made more interesting (well, for me) by the fact that I have personally had to grapple with the moral issue raised: Amazon glitch unmasks war of reviewers. An excerpt:

John Rechy, author of the best-selling 1963 novel "City of Night" and winner of the PEN-USA West lifetime achievement award, is one of several prominent authors who have apparently pseudonymously written themselves five-star reviews, Amazon's highest rating. Mr. Rechy, who laughed about it when approached, sees it as a means to survival when online stars mean sales.

"That anybody is allowed to come in and anonymously trash a book to me is absurd," said Mr. Rechy, who, having been caught, freely admitted to praising his new book, "The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens," on Amazon under the signature "a reader from Chicago." "How to strike back? Just go in and rebut every single one of them."

This link brought to you courtesy of an author whose own book's Amazon page contains only legitimate reviews, as far as he's aware.

Posted by jbc at 08:32 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Purty Pictures of Networks

Just some random net.kookery to liven up your morning: Gallery of network images. I especially like how the "teen dating" image shows one blue dot who dated both a pink dot and a blue dot. Yay diversity!

Posted by jbc at 08:23 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rumsfeld Photo Phun

What are we going to do when we no longer have Donald Rumsfeld to entertain us? Anyway, enjoy him while you can: Rumsfeld fighting techniques.

Posted by jbc at 07:44 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2004

2003 Stella Awards

A recent email forward containing a bunch of made up lawsuits prompted someone to reply with a link to "The True Stella Awards" -- which caps off with a real gem of a winner: City sues Taser International because a cop shot a handcuffed suspect with her firearm by mistake.

My favorite new "duh" quote: "...said in a telephone interview that officers no longer carry their handgun and Taser on the same side -- something that contributed to the Torres shooting."

Posted by hossman at 03:20 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conason on Coulter on Cleland

There was some great stuff about the Ann Coulters of the world in that David Neiwert piece I linked to earlier today, and here's another item to add to the list of reasons to despise her. From Joe Conason, a debunking of Coulter's attacks on the patriotism and courage of Max Cleland: Vile Ann Coulter smears a war hero.

I so want Coulter to be gone from public life. She just drags the whole species down.

Posted by jbc at 01:33 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Klein: Being a 'War President' Is Complicated

Joe Klein has a column in the latest Time magazine that points straight at a significant problem that I, and I suspect a great many other people, have with Bush's "I am a war president" routine: Why the 'war president' is under fire.

Posted by jbc at 01:27 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

What Did You Do In the War?

I saw this a while back, and meant to link to it, but forgot to. But it's still definitely worth a look. From Mother Jones, a timeline showing what our two favorite Yale men were up to during the time they were eligible for service in Vietnam: Brothers in arms?

Posted by jbc at 01:23 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Onion's Ongoing Satire-Related Program Activities

I really, really love The Onion. No, really.

The latest shining beacons of sanity, brought to my attention by ymatt, are these: Fuck everything, we're doing five blades. And in a more tender vein, reminiscent of the great God angrily clarifies 'don't kill' rule: Osama bin Laden found inside each of us.

Posted by jbc at 10:23 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Neiwert's Political and Personal

I hadn't seen this before, but the Koufax Awards listed it as a finalist in the Best Post category, and I really, really like it. From David Neiwert of Orcinus: The political and the personal.

Posted by jbc at 10:16 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 16, 2004

This Machine Kills Fascists

AlterNet has a nice piece by Siva Vaidhyanathan about failing to live up to the legacy of his idol, Woody Guthrie ... "This Machine Kills Fascists".

This is the third or fourth time I've been forwarded something from David Faber's Interesting People mailing list. I'm starting to think I should just subscribe.

Posted by hossman at 01:22 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 15, 2004

Anybody want to CUDDLE with me?

This link care of my buddy Wess, who's always curious about what laws he's breaking: C.U.D.D.L.E -- Cousins United to Defeat Discriminating Laws through Education.

Posted by hossman at 12:03 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 14, 2004

Tyler Cowen on Self-Deception and Political Failure

I'm not sure anyone in my readership is actually going to be interested in this, but that's never stopped me before. One last item (I promise, for now at least) from Prof. Tyler Cowen: Self-deception as the root of political failure.

Granted, I majored in political science, which gave me some exposure to, and resignation in the face of, sentences like, "The endogeneity of voter participation holds back convergence at the median." But even for non-poli-sci geeks, there's some interesting ideas being discussed here, at least if you have a thing about self-deception and politics, which I obviously do.

Posted by jbc at 07:37 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indicators of Whether Your Marriage Will Last

As a special Valentine's Day public service announcement for those in the Lies.com readership who suddenly have the ability to actually marry their chosen life partners, here's another one from falsehood-obsessed Professor Tyler Cowen: How to stay together. The short version? Don't grimace and roll your eyes when looking at your partner. Or, more to the point, maintain those rose-colored glasses that let you overlook your partner's flaws and criticisms, while noticing his/her nice legs and sweet nothings whispered tenderly in your ear.

The Mrs. and I will be celebrating our 20th next month. Hooray for the power of long-term self-deception!

Posted by jbc at 07:25 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advances in Lie-Detector Technology

This economics prof named Tyler Cowen at George Mason University seems to have a thing about lying. Anyway, he has lots of interesting postings at the Marginal Revolution weblog on various aspects of the phenomenon. Like this one: No baby, you really ARE beautiful. It's about some nifty little goodies that will do real-time voice analysis to help you figure out, among other things, whether the special someone whispering sweet Valentine's Day nothings to you really means it.

Thanks to reader Rick for the link.

Posted by jbc at 07:16 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Morford: What Are You So Afraid Of?

Columnist Mark Morford has a great piece running at SFGate.com: What are you so afraid of? It talks about how artificially enhanced fear is used to sell us everything from politicians to SUVs. And he talks about the antidote to fear, which is, appropriately enough on today's artificially manufactured commercial holiday, love.

Posted by jbc at 06:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 11, 2004

Sullivan (!) on Bush's MTP Performance

Yes, I'm linking to Andrew Sullivan. What can I say? He makes a good point about Bush's weak performance on domestic issues during the second half of his Meet the Press appearance. Anyway: Attention deficit.

Posted by jbc at 07:03 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

McClellan Under Fire on Bush's Guard Duty

I've been following the coverage of the Bush-AWOL story at CalPundit and Talking Points Memo, so this information wasn't really new to me. But it's still pretty wild reading the transcript of yesterday's White House press briefing, in which presidential spokesperson Scott McClellan was taking fire from all sides, and responded to all of it with a broken-record "nothing to see here, move along": Press briefing by Scott McClellan.

Thanks to reader Steve D. for the link.

Posted by jbc at 03:30 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Gore on the Politics of Fear

Another great speech from Al Gore: A coalition of fear. (From Salon; subscription or free one-day pass required). An excerpt:

Over the past 18 months, I have delivered a series of speeches addressing different aspects of President Bush's agenda, including his decision to go to war in Iraq under patently false pretenses, his dangerous assault on civil liberties here at home, his outrageously fraudulent economic policy, and his complete failure to protect the global environment.

Initially, my purposes were limited in each case to the subject matter of the speech.

However, as I tried to interpret what was driving these various policies, certain common features became obvious and a clear pattern emerged: In every case there was a determined disinterest in the facts; an inflexible insistence on carrying out preconceived policies regardless of the evidence concerning what might work and what clearly would not; a consistent bias favoring the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the broader public interest; and a marked tendency to develop policies in secret, avoid accountability to the public, the Congress or the press; and a disturbing willingness to misrepresent the true nature of the policy involved.

And no matter what the issue, it is now clear that in every instance they have resorted to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit debate and drive the public agenda.

Thanks to Yian for the link.

Posted by jbc at 09:42 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 09, 2004

Drum Goes Down the National Guard Rabbit Hole

If you haven't been following Kevin Drum (of Calpundit) as he tries to get to the bottom of just what it was that young fighter pilot George W. Bush was up to in 1972-73, it's pretty interesting stuff. Check out this latest item, in particular: Arf!

Thanks to reader Barry for reminding me that I hadn't mentioned this here.

Posted by jbc at 09:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saletan on Bush's Platonic Relationship with Reality

Slate's William Saletan has an interesting commentary on Bush's performance on Meet the Press: You can make it with Plato.

Thanks to Yian for the link.

Posted by jbc at 09:50 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 07, 2004

Bush, the Guard, and Drug Testing

From Salon's Eric Boehlert (via Hiro): Did Bush drop out of the National Guard to avoid drug testing? (One-day pass commercial, or Salon Premium subscription, required to view the whole story.)

A very good question. There certainly is a lot of secrecy about Bush's days in the Guard. Apparently no other president with any sort of military record in the past 50 years has attempted to keep that military record secret, as Bush has. What's he hiding? The evidence is circumstantial, but especially when you take into account the specifics of just what Bush has denied, and how he has denied it, the desire to keep a cocaine habit under wraps seems pretty darn plausible:

During the early stages of his 2000 campaign for president, Bush was dogged by questions of whether he ever used cocaine or any other illegal substance when he was younger. Bush refused to fully answer the question, but in 1999 he did issue a blanket denial insisting he had not used any illegal drugs during the previous 25 years, or since 1974. Bush refused to specify what "mistakes" he had made before 1974.

Perhaps realizing that explanation pointed reporters toward possible drug use during his time as a guardsman, Bush insisted he hadn't taken any drugs while serving in the Texas Air National Guard, between 1968 and 1974. "I never would have done anything to jeopardize myself. I got airborne and I got on the ground very successfully," he told reporters on Aug. 19, 1999. But today we know that for his last 18 months in the Guard, from April '72 to late '73, Bush didn't have to get airborne, because he simply quit flying.

Apropos that, see this juicy speculation, from Bad Attitudes' Lead Balloons: Yes, Barbara and Jenna, there is a snuffleupagus. Basically, he wonders if, by virtue of having been a Skull and Bones man at Yale just a few years behind Bush, John Kerry might have some dirt on just what was involved in the Underachiever-in-Chief's hard-partying days in college. (Or, a few years ahead of Bush, actually, per Tim Russert in the MTP interview.)

Posted by jbc at 08:01 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Blast from the Past

Dave Winer (among others, but he's the worst) likes to backhandedly brag about how long he's been doing this weblog thing by running "One Year Ago Today," "Two Years Ago Today," (and so on) pieces. Well, suck on this, Dave:

Eight years ago today, on Lies.com: So it begins.

Posted by jbc at 09:49 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Bush Zeitgeist

I've been thinking back some more to the Superbowl broadcast (no! anything but that!), and it occurs to me that it may point the way to the story we are eventually going to be telling ourselves about the Bush years.

What prompted the reflection was a conversation I had with my 12-year-old daughter while driving her to school. I forget how it started, but it ended up with my giving a capsule summary of each of the presidencies I'd experienced personally. In my case that meant from Nixon on, since I don't really remember Johnson, who left office when I was six. (It's kind of a long drive, so we had time.)

So I talked about Nixon, and Ford, and how the first was eventually revealed to be a shockingly foul-mouthed and generally Very Bad Man indeed. And Ford's apparent quid pro quo of the pardon pretty much doomed him, and how we then elected the most honest, sincere, humble, and virtuous man we could find, Jimmy Carter, only to realize afterward that maybe we really didn't want the most honest, sincere, humble, and virtuous man we could find as our president.

So then we had Reagan. And I think you righties would actually have been pleased with the treatment I gave him. Yeah, I talked about secret negotiations with the Ayatollah during the campaign, arms-for-hostages, funding the Contras, James Watt, and stuff like that. But I also talked about winning the Cold War and the general perception that overall, Reagan was actually pretty effective as President, at least in the eyes of non-ideologues. "Morning in America," and all that.

And then I talked about Bush the First, and Clinton, with the latter's presidency being basically the mirror image of Reagan's: hated by opponents, revered by supporters, and effective enough to deliver the middle and win a landslide re-election.

Which brings us to the current Bush, and my glimpse of the underlying zeitgeist of his presidency in last weekend's Superbowl broadcast. And if Reagan's time in office was "morning in America," Bush's is more like 1:00 a.m. at the frat house, with the fifth or sixth kegger having been tapped and things well into the ugly stage.

You couldn't miss it. The way the profit-is-everything types at CBS ran all those teenage-male-oriented Bud Light commercials (after refusing to air MoveOn's "Child's Pay" issue ad because it was "too controversial"). The way the halftime opened with that video montage of various pop-culture icons urging viewers to exercise their freedom of choice, to choose, choose, choose... segueing into Jessica Simpson on stage, completing the sentence for us: "...to party!!!" The way CBS used its mega-media-conglomerate MTV lackeys to produce the ensuing halftime show, which ended up as a monument to lip sync, raunch, and the spectacular failure of an ill-conceived plan.

The more I think about it, the more appropriate a symbol of Bush's last year that Justin/Janet fiasco was. The decision to have Justin rip off Janet's leather top at the end of the song was made without consulting older, wiser heads, professionals who would doubtless have expressed grave doubts about it. Yeah, you think it's going to turn out great, but you aren't exactly known for your deep thinking, are you? What if something goes wrong? That's why you have professionals to plan these things. You're the performer. You're not the brains of the outfit.

So it was with Bush, choosing to invade Iraq, arrogantly confident, ignoring the cautions of his dad, the intelligence community, the French. He invades, and rips off Saddam's leather top, live, on camera, for all the world to see the red bustier of his vast stockpiles of WMD. Except, just like Justin, his reach exceeds his grasp, or rather the other way around: his grasp exceeds his reach, the reach of his foresight, and he gets more than he bargained for, or rather less, and now he stands on stage with the leather and red fabric clutched in his hand, a colossal fuckup, all eyes on him.


Yeah. It's party time in America. But the fun part's over, and we're well on our way to the hangover that follows.

Posted by jbc at 08:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 04, 2004

Rumsfeld Breakdances at Senate Hearing

You can't really call it "tapdancing," because it's more energetic than that, more exuberant. He doesn't just put his spin on things; he flips himself upside down, flings his legs in a wide arc, and before you know it he's whizzing around like a top, leaving even the most critical onlooker breathless with admiration.

Anyway: Rumsfeld: WMDs may still be found.

Posted by jbc at 03:35 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Post-Saddam Death Toll Up Slightly

I've updated my Iraq-Vietnam comparison graphs with the numbers of US dead in Iraq during the month of January.

Again, I'm getting these figures from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville's page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the first twelve months of the Vietnam war, and the first eleven months of the Iraq war. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the same chart, with the Vietnam numbers extended out to cover the first four years of the war:

Finally, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

Obligatory note: I am not claiming any military significance in this particular comparison. I'm just talking about the wars' respective political histories. See lengthy discussion in my previous postings here, here, and here.

The latest figures reinforce the view that we'll continue suffering 1-2 dead soldiers per day (and some larger number of severely wounded soldiers per day) pretty much forever, or until we decide to declare peacewithhonor and leave.

Posted by jbc at 11:14 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 2004

You Must Speak Spanish -- But Not On Your Break

As seen on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is sueing the company "Sephora" on behalf of several employees of their NYC store. The five women say they were hired because they were bilingual, and are required to assist spanish speaking customers; but they were told they couldn't speak spanish to each other -- even during their lunch break.
Sephora denies having any form of "English Only" policy, so there's not much detail for the article to go into on this particular case, but it does mention some interesting situations from the past relating to such policies, why some companies have them, who thinks they are good, and how other companies thrive without them.

Posted by hossman at 12:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 02, 2004

Vitello: Where's the Outrage at Presidential Lying Now?

Newsday columnist Paul Vitello has a great opinion piece running: New president, new lie. Does a good job of summing up the double-standard that many in the "Clinton must be impeached!" crowd are displaying toward Bush's Iraq WMD lies.

Thanks to reader Immy2g for the link.

Posted by jbc at 01:26 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Janet Jackson's Right Breast

There's something really cool about seeing someone expose her breast to about 130 million TV viewers, live, without (apparently) meaning to. It's cool because all those viewers had their moment of satori, when the world suddenly stopped, and their brains shut down, and nothing made sense, giving them the barest (!) moment in which to appreciate the infinite possibilities of existence. Anyway, it probably isn't possible that you've missed this, but in case you clicked past the followup, here you go: Janet Jackson's breast exposed during halftime show.

So, CBS and the NFL are pissed at MTV, which they say will most likely never be in charge of putting on a Superbowl halftime show again. MTV says it is really, really sorry; that the incident was "unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional." Justin Timberlake says it was a "wardrobe malfunction," that it was "not intentional" and was "regrettable."

I'm guessing that the idea was that Timberlake would pull off the leather cover, leaving Janet's red bra exposed. But he grabbed a little too much, leaving nothing but a silver piercing (nice contingency plan, that) between a global television audience and (gasp!) an actual unobstructed view of a human areola.

A few more links: From the Washington Post: NFL: No place for titillation on Super Bowl menu. The story mentions that FCC Chairman Michael Powell has vowed to launch "an immediate investigation"; given his previous remarks about how much he loves his TiVo ("It's God's technology!"), something tells me he's done some investigating already. Apropos that: Justin and Janet steal Super Bowl show, according to TiVo.

Finally, the link you've all been waiting for: A certain disgusting rightwing weblogger has detailed images.

Anyway. Onward.

Posted by jbc at 01:12 PM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)