Category: politics


posted by ben on 10.11.01 at 14:14, null, null, math, math, rant, politics, rant, rave, Leave a comment Permalink

So, so wrong. We need more math education. Yes, set theory may not be terribly useful (unless you interact with tuples on a daily basis), but calculus is a prerequisite for understanding the world around us. If we want to understand how many of the automated systems around us work, linear algebra and more is neccessary. The math education that comes with a typical college degree is totally insufficient to understanding the world.

That means only a select few can understand how things work, which in turn means that an even smaller select group can improve on the working of things. This is a problem. Wider math education means the ability of society to build more complex machines. That means great productivity and that means greater wealth.

Some education has value. Some does not. Math has value.

oh crap

posted by ben on 08.11.01 at 13:52, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

"There's nothing that can stop us because that's God's intention."

-Barack Obama, Campaign Footage

there we go

posted by ben on 08.11.01 at 12:48, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

"We are not a collection of red states and blue states. We are the United States of America."

-Barack Obama, Iowa Caucus Victory Speech

Flying Over

posted by ben on 08.10.18 at 08:55, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

I hear a lot about the flyover states. The Americans in London tend to be of that school of thought. The more extreme ones talk about breaking the country in two and going separate ways, showing a respectable disregard for the geometry of the country and the globe.

One of my favorites involves pro-solar environmentalists talking about covering the four corners area in solar panels (enough to power the entire US) because "nobody lives there." Having lived most of my life there, I usually find that a little odd.

So, I figured I'd do a little breakdown to see just how insignificant the less populous wasteland of the interior US is. The numbers are from Wikipedia and reflect the 2007 population of the continental US. Spreadsheet data is here.

The real states are defined on a somewhat ad-hoc basis. It's impossible to do anything else since the idea itself is so mind numbingly stupid. That said, most proponents of the flyover state view of the world don't tend to think there's anything in California other than LA and San Francisco. Washington and Oregon don't typically make their radar... and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida don't typically figure highly on the list of states to retain within the revised union.

Wikipedia then gives the population of the continental US as: 299,654,291.

The real states come to 138,596,729 and the flyover states are a paltry 161,057,562. These means that only a mere 54% of the population of the US lives in the flyover states. Though, I would suspect the percent of people that ought to be flown over is somewhere in the high 80s to low 90s.

I've attached a helpful map with the stupid states colored in a traditional and helpful red, indicative of the political views of everyone within that state. Their more advanced, ocean faring cousins, are colored in a traditional soothing blue indicative of their more civilized political tradition.

Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?

posted by ben on 07.09.21 at 10:22, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

This is insane.

I have been sufficiently brainwashed that I was briefly thinking earlier that she shouldn't have been wandering around with a breadboard like that... then I remembered being 10 and carrying breadboards with hundreds of wires sticking out of them around.

Also, I don't understand how people aren't pissed about this John Kerry taser thing. How does anyone like him? Why didn't he do something, anything? And how the hell is it ok for the cops to taser some crazy guy who's just babbling? The video is really disturbing. Why do people clap at the end?

And, I don't understand about inciting to riot here.

It's a crime to dress as a stereotypical terrorist, babble insanely about how Kerry won an election, and act like a KKK member... all these punishable by fines, imprisonment or torture.

"I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Voltaire

...I seem to think speech isn't just things you say, but things you do, make, write, perform... and that all these should be protected as speech should be protected. I seem to be rather alone in this: another example I remember from arguing with a cop once, fighting words.

What am I supposed to do about all this? Vote for her?

Lenin was a nice man. Stalin was the mean one. It's not Lenin's fault.

posted by ben on 07.05.26 at 11:11, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

I just stumbled into Pathfinder Press, foolishly thinking that it'd be a cute little indie publisher... instead they're a bunch of commies.

The woman I talked to... and kept talking to... and couldn't escape... showed me pictures of the teamster riots, and the police spraying people with firehoses in the civil rights movement... with this glint in her eye...

"isn't it beautiful, aren't these beautiful pictures"

These pictures... of police beating people and people beating the police... of suffering and misery. Yes, good things came from this, but the riots themselves are not good.

I'm thrilled that the communists will never come to power. The glee with which she described these riots.... she's nostalgic for them in the same way I am for Paris in 1920.

Also, they had a book of Trotsky's essays... one of them tried to cast Celine as a communist... which seemed so so so very wrong.

Can't sleep, must refresh the times, post, cnn and bbc (isn't firefox great).

posted by ben on 06.11.08 at 01:42, null, politics, 1 comment Permalink

I keep reading the poll data. I don't know why. It's not like it changes anything. It looks like Proposition 1 passed, so you can say goodbye to Dunwamish Waterway Park at some undefined point in the future. I keep refreshing my news pages for the Senate race. 49/49 now... Missouri went to the Democrats a while ago. Somehow I suspect nothing more is happening unless I stay up very late. I'm almost tempted to stay up until the Dems retake the Senate, the House, take office and repeal the Patriot Act and anything that looks like the Patriot Act... of course there's probably some unfounded optimism in there somewhere... and I might not be able to stay awake that long... come on Virginia... last time I did this, Clinton was running for office.

Comment from: graham [Member] ·
That's sad. There's even a beach where you can go swimming. I'll miss you, Duwamish Waterway Park.
Permalink 11/08/06 @ 13:55

Vote early. Vote often. Vote no on Proposition No. 1.

posted by ben on 06.11.05 at 00:23, null, politics, seattle, Leave a comment Permalink

I did my election reading today, figured out what I ought to vote for, despite the morons at King County Elections not bothering to send me either a voter information pamphlet or even a voter registration card.


A number of the issues have no counterpoints. The Stranger tells me to just vote for them without thinking about it... which is a horribly offensive suggestion. So, maybe somebody will have some thoughts about it here, since googling proved useless.

Proposition No. 1 - Authorization to Sell or Exchange Certain Real Property

Maybe this is due to being from Boulder, where extra land is magically transmogrified into open space, but I can't understand why the city would sell this. What are they going to use to proceeds for? What is the land going to be built into? I'm reasonably sure there is no better use for extra land than open space... and god knows Georgetown could use it...

Here's one of the properties, down by Georgetown. Is there any reason this shouldn't end up as open space, a park, anything but another crappy strip mall?

Unless there's something profound that I'm missing, vote no on Proposition No. 1.

Why shouldn't this property be taxed? Isn't raising this exemption going to complicate the tax code further? People who know about the exemption won't pay tax. People who can't afford/don't want the hassle of hiring an accountant will continue to pay. Wouldn't a better solution be to tax less that $15,000 in personal property at a lower rate? Which, I guess, is sort of what an exemption is, but in a discontinuous way. Discontinuities bother me.

Update: I decided to mail my county council member, Dow Constantine, to ask about Proposition No. 1

Update: Dow Constantine mailed me back. He didn't really present a case for or against it. He did mention that this gives the county the ability to sell Duwamish Waterway Park... and that seems like a bad thing, regardless of if the county "has no intention" of selling it.

political change stems from economic necessity

posted by ben on 06.10.29 at 22:04, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

...Miles is very bullish on Iran, which, he argues, is the only country in the Middle East that actually has Western-style elections with all citizens, male and female, having equal voting rights. He is bullish on Iran as a country, as an economy, and eventually as a stock market. He points out that the country has a population of 60 million people and is growing rapidly. It actually has an elected parliament, a rarity in the Middle East. In fact, more women are elected to office in Iran than in the United States, and the popuulation is young, dynamic, and very interested in Western culture. They clearly are chafing under the harsh dictums of the mullahs. There is even a rudimentary stock exchange. It is possible that a prosperous, progressive, democratic Shiite bloc of 100 million people that includes Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan could become a counterbalance to the smaller Sunni gulf states. Given an opportunity, Miles would buy shares of Iranian companies even though Iran is part of George W. Bush's axis of evil.

In short, Iran is a dream situation in Miles's universe: big country, aggressive people, evolving toward democratic capitalism. Being a maverick, Miles relishes that it's totally politically incorrect. He maintains that, in the long run, the United States and the United Kingdom are going to have to figure out a way to reach an entente cordiale with Iran. The country is simply too important to dismiss out of hand. Positive change is occurring. Iran belongs to the axis of opportunity, not the axis of evil.

-Barton Biggs, Hedgehogging, pg. 190-191

Oh, and they hang you if you're gay.

the guy who bailed out LTCM without spending a dime

posted by ben on 06.10.29 at 21:41, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

In the Oval Office, the President was completely charming. "It's exactly three o'clock," he told me after a glance at his watch. "I've reserved fifteen minutes for this meeting, but I've told my secretary that if it takes longer to convice you to take the job, she should cancel my next appointment. In fact, I've told her to cancel all my meetings right through till ten o'clock tonight, if necessary. So I figure I've got seven hours to persuade you. Where do we start?"

"Mr. President," I replied, "I told George on the way over that if you both still want me, I'll do it. I have a lot to learn, but I'll get right at it."

"Good," the President replied. He checked his watch again. "Well then, we still have twelve minutes left. Why don't we go for a walk in the Rose Garden?"

-John C. Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pg.141

All men.

posted by ben on 06.10.28 at 16:29, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

-The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

When I'm president no ovens will lock.

posted by ben on 06.10.03 at 23:10, null, null, politics, pizza, Leave a comment Permalink

This is a deadly pie. It burns. It is a pizza pie.

It is not like other pies. Before it became a pie, it frolicked free in the air, before it became encased in a pint glass of off-white goo. Now it seeks escape, revenge...

Should we eat this pie? It will be tasty, but is not like other pies. This pie derives straight from the ovens of hell. This is a pie's pie.

I would also vote for the character played by Martin Sheen.

posted by ben on 06.10.02 at 23:34, null, politics, 3 comments Permalink

The candidate I would like, who might well not win:

(i) More social programs funded by:

(ii) Less military funding, massive cuts to the Air Force and Navy. That three prong argument for mutually assured destruction never made any sense to me.

(iii) Pro-choice, it's not an issue for government.

(iv) Foreign investment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur... money and troops... the Marshall plan all over again...

(v) Gay marriage is not a federal issue.

(vi) Obscene increase in federal funding for public schools at all levels. Elementary teachers ought to make 100K, then maybe people would be drawn to the profession who are qualified enough to teach arithmetic and reading... then maybe we could draw people who aren't failures at all other aspects of life into teaching... people who teach because they can do other things and they want to share that knowledge. High schools that teach calculus and read novels written for adults... in addition to Paine, Franklin, Jefferson and Hamilton... chemistry classes that don't involve eye droppers... foreign language classes taught by foreigners... ever increasing research grants at public universities that are funded well enough to keep the Math/Physics library open and the physics journals out of "semi-permanent off-site storage."

(vii) This is comparatively little. The national parks have a budget of $1.6 billion, but cost significantly more to operate correctly. Vast increases in funding and get rid of that miserable $50 annual pass, $10 entrance fees and $10+ wilderness permits. Encourage people who can't afford Marmucci and Patagucci to see what their nation looks like. Parks are public places that ought to be free for public use.

(viii) Attempt to disassemble much of the TSA. The liquid thing is awful. The shoes bit is utterly pointless... it's all the illusion of security as a pitiful substitute for the true thing, something that can probably only be created by the loss of essential liberties... and we all know what Ben Franklin says about that.

(iix) Attempt to curtail the powers of the NSA. Warrants for wiretapping are a good thing. Keep the CIA from spying on us.

Comment from: devin [Member] ·
That's all fine and good, but the goal (my goal, at least) is to get progressives elected, not ensure Republican domination of the all houses of government for the next twenty years.
Permalink 10/03/06 @ 01:19
Comment from: ben [Member] ·
I think a large part of the problem is with this focus on getting to office at the expense of actually doing something. What do I care if a progressive is elected who is too cowardly to put forward any progressive policies? Am I supposed to be comforted by their inaction? I think that was actually a theme running through The West Wing...
Permalink 10/03/06 @ 01:23
Comment from: devin [Member] ·
I think a large part of the problem is with this focus on getting to office at the expense of actually doing something. What do I care if a progressive is elected who is too cowardly to put forward any progressive policies? Am I supposed to be comforted by their inaction?

I think maybe you are confusing executive political offices and legislative ones. There is a very important distinction in our political system, and that is the caucus. Members of legislative bodies in our system vote to elect leadership from within the body. These leaders are responsible for scheduling votes, deciding the relative makeup and funding for committee staff members (as well as the all-important makeup of conference committees) and have constitutional responsibilities that other members do not. This power allows the leadership to effectively drive the debate, frame issues in their favor, and usually block any legislation or vote they don't want to come to the floor.

This has to be a factor in your voting decisions. It's no good to vote for anti-torture Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee (the only one, by the way) if he is going to caucus with a leadership that will make it impossible to get anti-torture language in any bill that has a chance of passing. A vote for Chaffee is a vote for torture if Chaffee winning will keep the Republican leadership in charge. Similarly, a vote for Salazar, as distasteful as it is that he is pro-torture, is a vote against torture because he will caucus with a leadership committed to ending torture.

This is the kind of calculation you have to make if you are serious about ending torture. You can't be naive about this.

The pro-choice advocacy groups have a similar problem: they keep on endorsing pro-choice Republicans from the Northeast who consistently vote to confirm Supreme Court judges who don't believe the Constitution provides a right to privacy. Their endorsement only makes it worse, because it gives those Republicans ideological cover. They say, "See, we're pro-Choice, vote for us!" even though they in practice they vote against it.

I certainly agree that progressives are no good if they don't put forward progressive policies, but the first step has got to be to get progressives in power. Then you can lobby them to do the right thing. But if every Democrat today in the Senate were as liberal as Russ Feingold, it wouldn't mean a damn thing because they don't have any power.

This is the (apparently not yet learned) lesson of the election in 2000: if you really want progressive policies to be enacted, you have to focus first on getting Democracts elected and then on convincing them to support progressive concerns. To do it any other way is madness. It just won't work.

Permalink 10/03/06 @ 11:39

bull moose

posted by ben on 06.10.02 at 17:07, null, politics, 7 comments Permalink

You can ask nearly anyone what Republicans stand for and they'll give you a reasonable, easy to understand list. It goes something like this:
(i) Lower taxes, fewer social programs.
(ii) Lots of military spending.
(iii) Pro-life.
(iv) For the war in Iraq.
(v) Against gay marriage.

These are not evil values. There are arguments behind all of them. And, while I may disagree with nearly all those arguments, I can understand how an intelligent person might agree with them and unite with other perfectly intelligent people under auspices of the Republican Party.

Now, consider the left as characterized by the Democratic party. Is the Democratic Party pro-choice or pro-life? I don't know. Is it for the war in Iraq? Some days... How about gay marriage? Who knows? The only one of these points that the Democratic Party has a stance on is:
(i) Higher taxes, more social programs.

You'd think, given the mess Bush has made of things, that all they'd have to do is take points i-v and pick the opposite and then things would be ok.

...and this is why I shouldn't write about politics. No more talking heads for me, I'm going to read Iris Murdoch now.

Comment from: devin [Member] ·
Jesus Ben, don't be such a concern troll. You're way too intelligent to actually believe such a facile argument.
Permalink 10/02/06 @ 18:24
Comment from: ben [Member] ·

While I thank you for the confidence, I believe you misunderestimate me. Let's see... Aha:

The so-called concern troll works to disrupt a forum by claiming to support its common cause (electing a political candidate, praising some brand of automobile, or whatever) but posting messages that promote the interests of the opposing cause (the candidate's rival, a different brand of automobile, etc.) For example, in both NJ and NH paid staffers for candidates were recently exposed (by tracing the IP addresses where their comments came from) as "concern trolls" making pseudonymous blog comments in which they claimed to be supporters of their own candidate's rival. In the NH case, the policy chief for Republican Congressman Charlie Bass posted to blogs supporting Bass's Democratic rival Paul Hodes, expressing "concern" that polls showed Bass was unbeatable and urging "fellow-Democrats" to abandon Hodes and transfer their support to more winnable races in other states.

"-Concern Troll," Wikipedia

So, I'm apparently pretending to be a Democrat despite the fact that I am really a Republican. Despite whatever legitimacy this may have, mostly concerning the future where my frozen body floats in space for 1000 years before I vote for the disembodied head of Richard Nixon, I think my point still stands: the Democratic Party needs a platform.

Break my facile argument!

Iris was entertaining at least.

Permalink 10/02/06 @ 20:24
Comment from: devin [Member] ·
Concern Trolls - "Marginally more clever, they pretend at being progressive Democrats, but at every turn seem to suggest the most obviously damaging or boneheaded or offensive thing they can. These are easier to catch than you might imagine: since it hardly matters whether someone is an obvious concern troll or just an unmitigated idiot, sometimes it doesn't pay to think about it too hard."

I guess you're not a concern troll then, just an idiot?
Permalink 10/02/06 @ 21:05
Comment from: ben [Member] ·

But, an idiot with admin privileges... so it's unlikely my account's going to be deleted for trolling.

Also... I saw that definition first, but didn't like the source. They seem to have somewhat of a bias, for instance:

George W. Bush (Lost: 2000, Won:2004)
"-Republican Party," dKosopedia

This sort of shit from a serious site that "caters to progressive Democrats" makes progressive Democrats look bad, and as such is a liability for those hoping to draw support away from the right. It's fine for Jon Stewart to make those sorts of jokes, but if you're attempting to provide information, it's best to behave.

I haven't seen the Zogby numbers, but one would also think the Democrats could win by running on a no torture platform.

Permalink 10/02/06 @ 22:58
Comment from: devin [Member] ·
You don't accept a progressive blog to define a term specifically created by progressive Democrats to address people who claim to have progressive Democrat interests at heart but don't really?

Are you serious?

I haven't seen the Zogby numbers, but one would also think the Democrats could win by running on a no torture platform.

Between fifty and sixty percent of registered voters oppose the use of torture. But this number is very dependent on the wording of the question ("Do you support torturing terrorists?" gets a very different response than "Do you oppose torture?").

In any event, this is not a high enough percentage to make it a successful wedge issue and because of the dependence on wording it is very susceptible to attacks via framing (which President Bush can choose to do because when he gives a speech of more 45 minutes the media pretty much has to cover it).

Also, the people who oppose torture are not even distributed around the country. In particular, they are under-represented in most Democratic pickup opportunities in Congress.

There is a reason that Karl Rove scheduled the torture vote to be right now. This was a manufactured crisis -- they realized that if they could get endangered incumbents to vote against torturing terrorists this would be a very potent two-by-four to hit them over the head with. These midterm races are primarily decided by turnout. Anything that energizes the Republican base (like, say, a month-long democratic filibuster against torturing terrorists) endangers a Democratic takeover of Congress.

The leadership of the Democratic party is very anti-torture (in fact, all the leading Democratic Senators from the center (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama) to the moderates (John Kerry, Pat Leahy) to progressives (Russ Feingold) gave impassioned speeches opposing the Bush-McCain Torture bill). The only Democrat of any stature who voted for it was Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

I'm not happy that 10 Democrats voted in favor of torture and I'm even more angry that my own Senator, Ken Salazar, did so -- but I believe the single most important thing about this election is getting Democrats in a role where they can provide some oversight and frame the debate. The consequences of letting Bush get away with breaking the law (as I believe he has, especially in regards to domestic surveillance) and letting him appoint the next one or two Supreme Court justices are simply too great.

The blame shouldn't go on the conservative Democrats who caved, but on the craven Republicans let habeus corpus and torture become election year stunts.

We need to keep our eyes on the prize -- the goal is making sure the Democrats will be in a position to check the President's power, not to enforce an ideological purity test.

Permalink 10/03/06 @ 00:47
Comment from: ben [Member] ·

I wasn't serious about the torture bit, but you would think it would work to the advantage of the left. What if they show so many ads with pictures of Abu Ghraib that people vote Democratic just to make them go away?

I believe the single most important thing about this election is getting Democrats in a role where they can provide some oversight and frame the debate.

I believe the most important thing is voting for positions that make sense, in this case not torturing people. If that is done, then the license to govern should follow.

I saw groups of what appeared to be pissed off Christian evangelicals protesting the torture mess downtown today. If the right starts to lose them, I'd think they're truly fucked.

As for dKosopedia, something about creating a political encyclopedia with a liberal bent just seemed so wrong. I don't think something claiming to be encyclopedic ought to have such a bias. That may make me a purity troll in addition to a concern troll, assuming such a thing is possible.

Permalink 10/03/06 @ 00:56
Comment from: devin [Member] ·
I believe the most important thing is voting for positions that make sense, in this case not torturing people. If that is done, then the license to govern should follow.

No, no, no. The sad thing is I think you actually believe this. But then you're responsible for this mess (you voted for Nader, after all -- what a triumph of progressive principles that has been!).

By advocating electoral strategies that make it harder to get torturers out of office you are enabling torture and should be ashamed of yourself. What good is opposing torture while pursuing a strategy to keep torturers in charge?

Winning elections is not about stands on particular issues but about the viability of positive and negative narratives about the candidate and party.

There is a vicious cycle in Democratic politics that people like you enable. It goes like this:

Republicans say something they wish were true about Democrats (e.g. "They don't have a plan about what to do in Iraq, and they'll need one if they want to win the election."). The media , in following their standard MO of dueling quotations, looks around for a Democrat to comment on the issue and finds a concern troll, looking to bolster their "Look at me, I'm a maverick!" credentials from either the right, like Joe Lieberman, or the left, like you, who says something like: "The Democratic party has lost its way -- in order to win the election, we need a plan to win the war in Iraq."

So now the media has a Republican and a Democrat saying the same thing and even if it is demonstrably false they run it as the gospel truth: "It's widely believed that Democrats will need to propose an Iraq plan in order to win the election." Boom, the circle is closed. Now everyone believes that 1) the Democrats don't have a plan about what to do in Iraq and 2) they absolutely need one to win the election when neither of these assertions is true.

All I'm saying is that you should be aware of how this works. Having principles is about a lot more than pronouncements from up on high -- you have to be concerned about getting those principles into practice.

Permalink 10/03/06 @ 10:48

I need to stop watching the talking heads.

posted by ben on 06.10.02 at 16:40, null, politics, 2 comments Permalink

So, there's a Christian group protesting gay marriage at city hall. That's perfectly reasonable. Then a bunch of gay rights people show up to protest the protest. Ok. Still perfectly reasonable. Except the gay rights people make asses of themselves. The Christian Evangelicals stand there with their signs... and the gay rights people show up and yell "Christian fascists go away. Rascist, sexist, anti-gay." So, the gay-rights side looks a little bad because they're yelling and angry while the Christians are standing around looking confused, but it's a protest, so a little yelling, while not exemplary, is perfectly appropriate.

So, that all sounds fine until Sunsara Taylor of the "World Can't Wait Advisory Board" goes on O'Reilly and denies that the Christian evangelicals have any right to protest in favor of their beliefs. Thanks for taking the gay-rights, pro-choice, women's-rights stance and failing to remember that so many of the ideals that inspire those movements stem directly from freedom of speech. Thanks for making us all look good.

Comment from: collin [Member] ·
Am I still allowed to call Nazis fascists?
Permalink 10/04/06 @ 14:28
Comment from: ben [Member] ·
...only if it's written on your guitar.
Permalink 10/17/06 @ 22:12

making bigger problems out of smaller ones

posted by ben on 06.10.02 at 16:12, null, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

So, Bill O'Reilly randomly mentions Malmedy. I assume he was confusedly thinking about the Chenogne Massacre. At any rate, he said the wrong thing and sort of admitted it, saying he meant "after Malmedy." Since Chenogne happened after, it seems reasonable to think that's what he was referring to.

Anyway, Olbermann rants and demands an apology, all of which seems perfectly reasonable, except that he never mentions Chenogne, even after showing the clip with O'Reilly correcting himself, saying "after Malmedy."

It's frustrating because Olbermann has a point here, but ruins his credibility by intentionally misinterpreting O'Reilly. It's frustrating because it could have been a solid rant about O'Reilly's poor style of journalism, but is instead something much weaker. O'Reilly said something wrong and foolish and should have admitted it more plainly, but he was referring to an actual event even if he named it incorrectly. He didn't apologize for his mistake, but it doesn't follow that he "hates our troops."

not the post you were hoping for

posted by ben on 06.10.01 at 02:29, null, politics, 1 comment Permalink

I've been obsessively watching the talking heads on youtube. I vaguely like Olbermann, but he usually ruins his well composed arguments by ranting angrily toward the ends of his segments. I suppose it increases his ratings.

I like this:

Then, I was reading the Drudge Report... again, not sure why... and, without really thinking, I clicked on Ann Coulter and found myself reading this:

Clinton yelled at Wallace: "What did I do? What did I do? I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since."

This is so crazy it's worthy of an Air America caller. Clinton has consistently misrepresented the presidential directive about political assassinations. Clinton did not order bin Laden assassinated. He did not even lift the ban on intelligence agencies attempting to assassinate bin Laden.

What he did was lift the ban on political assassinations — provided that assassinating bin Laden was not the purpose of the mission. So if U.S. forces were engaged in an operation to capture bin Laden, but accidentally killed him, they would not be court-martialed.


I know I probably shouldn't try to understand what Ann Coulter writes since she's crazy and exists solely to offend people, but this sounds vaguely sensical... never mind the all caps article title... but it seems like someone, Clinton or Coulter, is very wrong here. Given her love of strife and a vague recollection that the political assassination directive applies to heads of state, I'm inclined to believe it's her.

Comment from: devin [Member] ·
What bothers me the most about Olbermann is that his "rants" seem so calculated. Olbermann posts the text of his "Special Comment" sections on his website before they run, and it is odd how much more genuine he appears in print. It just doesn't seem real when read off of a TelePrompTer. For that kind of thing to work, the outrage has to seem organic and the delivery must be Sorkinian. We have to see his indignation seething from his tip to his toes. The anger should come in waves, building on itself as the absurdity of the opposition becomes more and more apparent until finally it crests with an outburst of righteous indignation. And then it's on to the the next outrage. A rant just doesn't work in the measured demeanor we expect from our newscasters.

One thing that Olbermann does do very well is use the last vestiges of our regard for the national media to credibly rebut some of the most obviously false claims made by the Bush administration. Now that the media has abdicated its role in determining the truth and replaced it with the strict post-modern policy of he-said, she-said, it is rare for any journalist to call a lie a lie. Olbermann successfully uses the credibility and resources of a major cable news channel to do so.

Permalink 10/01/06 @ 11:48

“Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he’s black.”

posted by collin on 06.09.27 at 19:51, null, nonsense, random, politics, 1 comment Permalink


That guy's black?

Yeah, yeah, I saw it on boingboing.

Comment from: devin [Member] ·
I got dibbs.

Permalink 09/27/06 @ 21:09

I believe the word is irony.

posted by collin on 06.09.02 at 15:25, null, nonsense, random, politics, Leave a comment Permalink

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.

-Dick Cheney, Vice Presiddent of the United States

Studs Terkel

posted by ben on 06.07.26 at 17:17, null, books, politics, books, Leave a comment Permalink

Terkel doesn't really lend well to quoting. I have Division Street: America and "The Good War," and both are more about zeitgeist than a particular philosophy. The stunning part about Terkel is that the philosophy falls directly out of what he describes. Read a few stories about industrial workers in Chicago and you can't help but become a socialist...

I recognize that his work is brilliant, but I can't decide if it's still relevant. The industrial economy he built his career describing doesn't exist anymore... Do the human interest stories still apply?

I've been asking this question about much of my reading lately. Look Homeward Angel is a particularly potent example. I'm certain that 50 years ago it was quite poignant. It hasn't dated that well though... much of the plot centers around a form of institutionalized racism that doesn't exist anymore.

I had a much better time reading Sophie's Choice, where WWII figures largely. Somehow WWII has stayed more in our minds than segregation. I suppose there's the simple explanation that we like to think about WWII because we did largely good things and prefer to forget about segregation for the opposite reason.