Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

I'll quit bitching until 2005. Everyone have a safe and happy new year, and remeber to open your wallets and "buy yourself some good karma"

2004 Falsies Awards

...From Alternet.
(Emphasis mine, the text in bold are my favesm with the exception of headers.)

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition for the Center for Media and Democracy. To remember the people and players responsible for polluting our information environment, we are issuing a new year-end prize that we call the "Falsies Awards." The top ten finalists will each receive a million bucks worth of free coupons, a lifetime supply of non-fattening ice cream, an expenses-paid vacation in Fallujah, and our promise to respect them in the morning. The winners of the Falsies Awards for 2004 are:

1. I'm Karen Ryan, reporting
Let's hear it for video news releases finally getting a smattering of the public scrutiny they deserve. A video news release or VNR is a simulated TV news story. Video clips paid for by corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations are commonly passed off as legitimate news segments on local newscasts throughout the United States. VNRs are designed to be indistinguishable from traditional TV news and are often aired without the original producers and sponsors being identified and sometimes without any local editing.
When a VNR touting the controversial Medicare reform law ended with "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan, reporting," Senate Democrats called foul. The VNR, which aired on 40 stations between January 22 and February 12, 2004, was paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ryan, the "reporter," was in fact employed by a production company contracted by the Ketchum PR firm to create the VNR for HHS. An investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office concluded that the VNR had violated a ban on government funded "publicity and propaganda." According to The Hill, a newspaper based in Washington, D.C., "VNRs are standard practice in the public-relations industry and local news reports often rely on them. ... However, the GAO said in its decision, 'our analysis of the proper use of appropriated funds is not based upon the norms in the public relations and media industry.'"
Karen Ryan was back in the news in October, when the liberal-leaning People for the American Way identified another Ryan VNR. This time Ryan "reported" on the Bush Administration's No Child Left Behind law. A Freedom of Information Act investigation revealed that the U.S. Education Department paid $700,000 to the PR firm to produce two VNRs as well as to rate newspaper coverage according to how favorably reporters described No Child Left Behind. "A number of local stations ran the VNR as is, and added a local twist by simply having their own reporter read the script," reported, a journalist watchdog website. "The stations that took the time to have their own reporters record the script of the No Child Left Behind VNR had to have been fully aware of what they were doing: knowingly deceiving their viewers about the origins of the story – not to mention committing plagiarism – by passing off as their own original reporting words actually written by a PR company hired by the Bush administration."

2. War Is Sell
The formerly exiled Iraqi Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress were exposed as hucksters who befriended powerful men in Washington and played an instrumental role in selling the Iraq War. The U.S. major media finally examined the extent to which the INC and Chalabi used funding provided by the U.S. Congress to position themselves as a central source for much of the now-discredited "intelligence information" that the Bush administration used to justify the March 2003 invasion.
“The former Iraqi exile group that gave the Bush administration exaggerated and fabricated intelligence on Iraq also fed much of the same information to newspapers, news agencies and magazines in the United States, Britain and Australia," Knight Ridder reported in March 2004. "A June 26, 2002, letter from the Iraqi National Congress to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed 108 articles based on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq. The Information Collection Program was financed out of the at least $18 million that the U.S. Congress approved for the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi from 1999 to 2003."
"Chalabi appears to have recognized that the neocons, while ruthless, realistic and effective in bureaucratic politics, were remarkably ignorant about the situation in Iraq, and willing to buy a fantasy of how the country's politics worked. So he sold it to them," John Dizard wrote for in May 2004. In a detailed profile of Chalabi and the INC, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer included some fairly candid admissions by Francis Brooke, the INC's PR guru. Without Chalabi, he said, "This war would not have been fought." Beginning in the late 1990s, Chalabi and Brooke had designed a campaign to influence "only a couple of hundred people" in Washington with the ability to shape Iraq policy – people like Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and Dick Cheney. Following 9/11, their marketing strategy switched to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Brooke claimed, "I sent out an all-points bulletin to our network, saying, 'Look, guys, get me a terrorist, or someone who works with terrorists. And, if you can get stuff on WMD, send it!'"
Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. gave Chalabi one of the 25 seats on its hand-picked new Iraqi Governing Council. The Pentagon's $335,000 monthly payments to the INC's intelligence program continued until May 2004, when U.S. intelligence agencies began reporting that Chalabi may have actually been a double agent working for Iran. American troops raided Chalabi's headquarters and home in Baghdad, arrested two of his aides, and seized documents. "Only five months ago," observed Andrew Cockburn, "Chalabi was a guest of honor sitting right behind Laura Bush at the State of the Union. What brought about this astonishing fall from grace of the man who helped provide the faked intelligence that justified last year's war?" According to Newsweek, "Bush administration officials say the latest intelligence indicates [Chalabi] may have been supplying the Iranians with information on U.S. security operations in Iraq that could 'get people killed.'"
Chalabi responded by demanding that the U.S. leave Iraq. "Let my people go," he said, adding, "It is time for the Iraqi people to run their affairs." More recently he has aligned himself with Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose militia battled U.S. troops in August in the Iraqi city of Najaf.

3. The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders
Stories of so-called "guerrilla marketing" abounded in 2004. From martinis to cell phones to TV programs, this stealthy form of advertising usually features paid agents subtly promoting a product to an unsuspecting audience. According to Shawn Prez of the marketing agency Power Moves, stealth techniques are especially effective with teens. "By the time the message gets out, they don't even know they've been hit; they don't know that theyve been marketed to. All they know is that their interest has been piqued," Prez said. Our favorite examples of guerilla marketing include the following:
In New York, attractive men and women flashed their underwear at strangers outside Grand Central Terminal to promote a local health club. The underwear featured the logo of the club along with the words "Booty Call" to promote an exercise class that works the butt muscles. (We swear we're not making this up.)
A fictional blogger, invented by an ad agency, posted blog entries claiming that a new Sega video game caused him to suffer blackouts and uncontrollable fits of violence.
At Fourth of July cookouts throughout the United States, guests brought Al Fresco chicken sausages to throw on the grill, without telling the other guests that they were actually working to earn premiums from a PR firm that was hired to promote sales of the product.
"This idea – the commercialization of chitchat – resembles a scenario from a paranoid science-fiction novel about a future in which corporations have become so powerful that they can bribe whole armies of flunkies to infiltrate the family barbecue," observed Rob Walker in the New York Times.

4. Food Industry Foxes Guard the FDA Hen House
Food industry lobbyists met repeatedly and privately with Bush administration officials while the administration was drafting rules to protect the nation's food supply from bioterrorism. "The resulting regulations don't fully protect the public interest," stated the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The Grocery Manufacturers of America, Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) and others lobbied to weaken proposed regulations requiring importers to notify the Food and Drug Administration before food shipments arrive from overseas. One GMA lobbyist explained, "We all want regulations to protect against bioterrorism, but in a way to achieve the goals and allow the business to operate in an efficient manner." The Bush administration's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson had nothing to say about the problem until after the 2004 presidential election, when he announced his resignation plans. In his departure speech in December, Thompson warned of possible health-related terrorist attacks. "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," he said.

5. Shell Game With Human Rights
Corporate lobby groups such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) launched a fierce counter-campaign against the proposed Norms on Business and Human Rights, which were developed by a subcommission of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Norms require businesses internationally to refrain from activities that violate human rights, coonstraints that have been vigorously opposed by the ICC and a the Royal Dutch/Shell oil company, a self-proclaimed leader in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement. "Is this not the kind of campaign one could expect only from companies lagging behind and from free-riders refusing to adapt to social and environmental concerns?" asked the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). The motive behind Shell's opposition, CEO suggested, is that "the company generally gets away easily with its inflated claims concerning its social responsibility record." A 2004 report by Christian Aid documented that Shell's operations in the Niger Delta (Nigeria) are still causing serious problems for local communities. The report also found that most of the community development projects presented in various glossy Shell reports on CSR are in fact failing. "Hospitals, schools and water supply systems are built but never start working, and roads are mainly used to boost oil production," reported CEO. "But beyond the debate about the extent to which Shell's CSR claims are actually greenwash and poor-wash, it is clear that the company is determined to prevent the emergence of international mechanisms through which communities could hold it accountable to its pledges."

6. Ghostwriters for Bush
In August, the
Daily Kos weblog uncovered an astroturf (fake grassroots) initiative by the George W. Bush reelection campaign, which generated ghostwritten letters to the editor that found their way into at least 60 newspapers. This wasn't the first time that the Bush administration tried this trick, as we've reported in the past. According to Editor and Publisher, however, the National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW) is now taking the issue seriously. "On its NCEW e-mail listserv, some 600 subscribers who are mostly editorial page writers and editors, can alert one another of suspicious letters," writes Charles Geraci. "In fact, this is the most consistent topic on the listserv."

7. Frank Talk
leaked memo by Republican advisor Frank Luntz advised GOP politicians to avoid the words "preemption" and "war in Iraq" when talking about the Bush administration's pre-emptive war in Iraq. "To do so is to undermine your message from the start," he advised. "Your efforts are about 'the principles of prevention and protection' in the greater 'War on Terror.'" According to the June 2004 Washington Post story, Luntz also recommended that "No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11."

8. Not-So-Democratic Convention
"One cannot conceive of other elements [that could be] put in place to create a space that's more of an affront to the idea of free expression," said U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, after touring the Democratic National Convention's "free speech" protest zone in Boston. The zone is "bordered by cement barriers, a double row of chain-line fencing, heavy black netting, and tightly woven plastic mesh," with "coils of razor wire" along elevated train tracks, the Boston Globe reported. A lawyer for activists challenging the zone compared it to "a maximum security prison, Guantanamo Bay, or a zoo" – comparisons Woodlock called "an understatement," although he upheld the zone for security reasons. That's not to say the Republican National Convention in New York City was a celebration of civil liberties. The New York Police Department engaged in pre-emptive arrest tactics to stop activities planned by demonstrators.

9. Iraq War Supporters Profit From Reconstruction
Several key advocates for the invasion of Iraq are now profiting from Iraq's reconstruction. "As lobbyists, public relations counselors and confidential advisors to senior federal officials, they warned against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, praised exiled leader Ahmad Chalabi, and argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was a matter of national security and moral duty," reported Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ken Silverstein in the Los Angeles Times. "Now, as fighting continues in Iraq, they are collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fees for helping business clients pursue federal contracts and other financial opportunities in Iraq." Among the profiteers are:
former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, Jr., a founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) who used his Pentagon connections to help arrange for a debriefing of a Iraqi defector provided by the Iraqi National Congress who gave false information about Iraqi biological warfare laboratories (see award-winner #2 above);
Randy Scheunemann, founding president of the CLI; and
Washington lobbyist K. Riva Levinson, who while at Burson-Marsteller's BKSH & Associates did PR work for the INC on the U.S. State Department's tab.

10. Wal-Mart Gets PR Help From Hill & Knowlton
"Wal-Mart is working with Hill & Knowlton on a PR campaign designed to rehabilitate the much-maligned company's reputation in California and pave the way for 40 new Wal-Mart Supercenters in the state in the next few years," PR Week reported in October. The world's largest retailer published an "open letter to California residents" in 15 California newspapers on September 23. "As the company has grown, we've become a target for negative comments from certain elected officials, competitors and powerful special interest groups," Wal-Mart wrote. PR Week reported that several of H&K's California offices had been working with Wal-Mart for several months on the PR effort, "primarily handling media relations tasks." Wal-Mart has announced plans to increase retail space by 8 percent. The company, which is also facing a class action suit for sex discrimination, had a record setting in net sales for the six months ended July 31, 2004.

Dishonorable Mentions
PR and advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather tied Fleishman-Hillard, another global PR firm, for sheer audacity at draining the public well.
The U.S. indicted executives from Ogilvy and Mather for participating in an "extensive scheme to defraud the U.S. Government by falsely and fraudulently inflating the labor costs that Ogilvy incurred" for its work on a media campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to O'Dwyer's PR Daily, O&M's anti-drug media campaign work was part of a five-year $684 million dollar project. The government said it was overcharged by O&M from May 1999 to April 2000.
Several former employees of Fleishman-Hillard say F-H routinely overbilled the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power some $30,000 a month. According to the Los Angeles Times, one described F-H's attitude as, "Get as much as you can because these accounts may dry up tomorrow." Questionable charges include $50 for leaving a phone message and $850 for a two-hour business lunch (not including the cost of the meal).

Honorable Mentions
The Center for Media and Democracy would also like to recognize the following efforts to expose and counter spin in 2004:
The post-debate media feeding frenzy where campaign officials talk up their candidates has come to be called Spin Alley. Comedian Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" appeared on CNN's Crossfire in October, calling it as he saw it. "You go to Spin Alley, the place called Spin Alley," he said. "Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?" On Jay Rosen's PressThink weblog, Lisa Stone offered an illuminating history of Spin Alley. Stewart, she wrote, "was hitting on a practice that had grown more and more disreputable. As a designated spot for the practice of spin, the Alley only fell from legitimacy when an alternative practice rose up and called out to conscience of the press. It was one lesson of Campaign 2004: Forget about spinning the outcome, just fact check the debates."
Tami Silicio and the Seattle Times brought the first images of U.S. military casualties to the American mass media in April 2004. Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in the Times, was fired along with her husband. Her employer, a private contractor, said it decided to fire her after receiving a complaint from the military about her violation of the Pentagon's ban on images of soldiers' caskets.

Rewarding Incompetence

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. Below is a letter she wrote to Time magazine, and printed by, after seeing the president named as Time's "Man of the Year".

Dear Time Editors:
My son, Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. This has been an extraordinary couple of weeks of "slaps in the faces" to us families of fallen heroes.
First, the Secretary of Defense—Donald Rumsfeld—admits to the world something that we as military families already know: The United States was not prepared for nor had any plan for the assault on Iraq. Our children were sent to fight an ill-conceived and badly prosecuted war. Our troops were sent with the wrong type of training, bad equipment, inferior protection and thin supply lines. Our children have been killed and we have made the ultimate sacrifice for this fiasco of a war, then we find out this week that Rumsfeld doesn't even have the courtesy or compassion to sign the "death letters"—as they are so callously called. Besides the upcoming holidays and the fact we miss our children desperately, what else can go wrong this holiday season?
Well let's see. Oh yes. George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three more architects of the quagmire that is Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and Bremer, Tenet and Franks are given our country's highest civilian award. What's next?
To top everything off—after it has been proven that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, there were no ties between Saddam and 9/11 and over 1,300 brave young people in this country are dead and Iraq lies in ruins— what does Time Magazine do? Names George W. Bush as its "Man of the Year." The person who betrayed this country into a needless war and whom I hold ultimately responsible for my son's death and who was questionably elected, again, to a second term, is honored this way by your magazine.
I hope we finally find peace in our world and that our troops who remain in Iraq are brought home speedily—after all, there was no reason for our troops to be there in the first place. No reason for my son and over 1,300 others to have been taken from their families. No reason for the infrastructure of Iraq to be demolished and thousands of Iraqis being killed. No reason for the notion of a "happy" holiday to be robbed from my family forever. I hope that our "leaders" don't invade any other countries which pose no serious threat to the United States. I hope there is no draft. I hope that the five people mentioned here (and many others) will finally be held responsible for the horrible mistake they got our country into. I hope that competence is finally rewarded and incompetence is appropriately punished. These are my wishes for 2005.
This isn't the first time your magazine has selected a questionable man for this honor—but it's the first time it affected my family so personally and so sorrowfully.
Cindy Sheehan

The Good.

US citizens have donated over $40 million out of their own checking accounts.

Britons have donated £23 million in 24 hours.

Google's Tsunami releif page.

Tsunami help blog

Tsunami Relief: Charity Efficiency and Transparency Ratings

American Red Cross (Via Amazon)

Doctors without Borders


Let's continue to do all we can.

US to up aid to Tsunami victims.

Back pedle, back peddle...."Wait, umm, no! We are not done! Heres another drop for your bucket!"

Whatever, Prez. Do you realize Phizer has matched your contribution? You know what they do, dont you? One of the largest natural disasters in modern history, and you are "clearing brush" on that "ranch" movie set. which sounds alot like "not running the country" ...AGAIN. You know what? It's getting old. And it's embarrassing.

Eric Alterman sums it up better than I can.

How is it that the U.S. can find 300+ billion dollars for War in Iraq, but cannot muster 1% of that amount to help out in SouthEast Asia?
Isn't Karl Rove supposed to be this PR genius? How did he blow this opportunity? Put aside for a minute the simple motivation to do what's right, and look at this the way he looks at everything else -- as a PR opportunity. For a billion or so dollars, the Mayberry Machiavelli could have reaped a PR windfall for his boy and the U.S., whose rep in the world has never been lower than it's been the past few years.
I guess if it don't help your guy get elected, it don't matter all that much...
Oh, well, another missed opportunity, brought to you by the Crawford gang that can't shoot straight -- unless it's at Democrats.

Speaking of shooting at Democrats, how about this? (see below for quote)
Any oppurtunity to take pot shots at Clinton.

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "
Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
Actions? Anyone?

Goood greif, Charlie Brown.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Oh, well, everything must be ok then.

A headline from CNN in connection with the Tsunami....

Regular guest on 'Oprah' safe, but friend missing in Sri Lanka
Phew! That was close. Almost had a catastrophe on our hands.

Flight 93 "shot down"??

During Donald Rumsfeld's suprise trip to Iraq last week, he referred to flight 93 being "shot down" over PA on 9/11.

"I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten – indeed the word 'terrorized' is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be."

Does Rumsfeld know something we dont? The cockpit voice recordings seem to reflect a suicide by the terrorists in control of the aircraft in response to passengers rushing the flight deck, as they rolled the plane on its back and towards earth. Shooting the aircraft down would still have been the right decision in my opinion, especially if it is heading for the White House/downtown DC. We also know that the president had authorized the splashing of any civilian aircraft that was determined to be hijacked and hostile.

Russert: "So if the United States government became aware that a hijacked commercial airline[r] was destined for the White House or the Capitol, we would take the plane down?"
Cheney: "Yes. The president made the decision ... that if the plane would not divert ... as a last resort, our pilots were authorized to take them out. Now, people say, you know, that's a horrendous decision to make. Well, it is. You've got an airplane full of American citizens, civilians, captured by ... terrorists, headed and are you going to, in fact, shoot it down, obviously, and kill all those Americans on board?
"... It's a presidential-level decision, and the president made, I think, exactly the right call in this case, to say, I wished we'd had combat air patrol up over New York.'"
So, slip of the tongue by Donny R? Or just bad choice of words? I doubt if we will ever know for sure.

Friday, December 24, 2004

USA Today response....

USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column on Thursday suggesting that U.S forces withdraw from Iraq. Below is a list of responses to the column. Makes for an interesting read.

P. Oliver, commander USN (ret.): “To withdraw troops from Iraq would qualify as the greatest surrender in history and invite direct attacks here in this country and ultimately drastically change the way we live. No respectful American could agree with your illogical conclusion.”

J. Boke, Titusville, FL: “Al Neuharth's war experience crippled his brain, or he's just too old to have much left. War experience doesn't necessarily make one wise. It CAN have a negative effect on one's judgement. It sounds like Mr. Neuharth, as well John McCain, both suffered mentally via their strong emotional suffering.”

Douglas Wickenheiser: "My son served one tour at the time of the Iraq invasion and is slated to return for a 2nd tour in May after only 13 months back in the U.S. This war should never have happened. My son has a deep distrust of all in the goverment. As part of the 101st airborne he will have to serve up to 1 yr longer than he enlisted for due to the stop-loss program. A full and quick withdrawal is the only answer to this gross misuse of presidential power."

Michael Bustamente, Sterling Height, MI: “Tell you what. We leave and the sanctimonious jerks like you and your Free Press, you go there and stay after we leave.”

Richard C. Fairchild: “Al, thanks for your willingness to express your view that we should bring our troops home sooner rather than later, which I as a veteran of service both in the army and Marine Corps also hold. To me, in this case, sooner means right away. I applaud your courage, you will take heat.”

Henry Yang: “Did he really serve in France, Germany and Philippines? Where was he when our tanks were ill-equipped to deal with the hedge rows in France after the Normandy landing? Do we need to count the number of unnecessary casualties because we were not properly armed and equipped in WW II? By the way, how could we send soldiers to fight the Battle of the Bulge with not properly clothed for the winter and does he know how many soldiers froze to death?”

William Billingsley: “There already are way too many without arms and legs. Withdraw. Do it now. I hope we the people have learned from this but we didn't learn from Vietnam. So I guess just more of the same.”

Cliff Hair: “Never heard of Al Neuharth! What makes him so special and who gives a damn what he thinks?”

Dan Conrad: "It is profoundly tragic that the legacy of Vietnam, it appears, was to validate the practice of wishing military failure on America to satisfy someperverse need for political vindication. The left leaning press and all their lapdogs can go straight to hell."

Brenden O'Hanlon, New York, N.Y.: "I couldn't agree more with Al Neuharth's opinions. The war in Iraq was a humongous blunder that was decided upon at around 11:00 am on 9/11. The Bush administration should be ashamed of themselves. Those who financed and planned 9/11 are STILL financing and planning terrorism. What a slap in the face of the families of 9/11 victims."

Alec Jones, Hoover, AL: "As far as I am concerned, Mr. Neuharth's opinion represents the very worst attitude possible in today's geopolitical climate. Nothing more than a unilateral withdrawal would encourage those who are our enemies and wish to do us harm. With all due respect to Mr. Neuharth's past service for this country, he is sadly out of date with respect to patriotism."

Edward L. McClendon: "Finally, a newspaper leader who says what every thinking person in America is saying. Thank you, Al. I am ashamed at how the rest of the civilized world perceives us."

Bob Armstrong, Clayton, CA: "Tell Al that my Pop served on Guadalcanal and they sure as hell were not properly equipped. The First Marine Division stormed ashore with WW I rifles and had to eat captured Jap food for 3 months. War is hell and every war has shortfalls. The M16 first sent to Vietnam was a joke. When the Iraqi elections are held and they demostrate a willingness to fight for freedom this will all worth it. If we fail it will be an Iraqi failure not ours."

Monica Palacios, Wales, MA: "Please let Mr. Neuharth know that he is absolutely right about his views re: the Iraq war. More people in the media should show his integrity and courage. If you all had, we might not be looking at another 4 years of an impossible war."

Galen Heslet, Hemet, CA: “Al Neuharth should butt out. Nobody elected him to run things in this country. His liberal-leftist negativity isn't doing the troops in Iraq any good with this kind of tripe.”

Bill Rollins: “Al, I want to thank you for your bravery and you pegged it correctly, we went into an un-moral preemptive strike that was ill-conceived. We should have at least 500,000 to 750,000 troops well equipped to keep it a moral war. Now we have split our britches and put our men in harm’s way.”

Pat Giuffra: "I have asked the hotels to not deliver USA Today any more to my room because of this type of distorted news reporting that it is putting out these days."

Robert E. Buhts, Maj. USA (Ret.): "Mr. Neuharth is right on with his call to get our troops out of Iraq. I have nothing but contempt for the GOP draft dodgers and their spineless lackeys that got us into this. A bigger mistake I have never seen in my lifetime. What is the goal for 2005? An equal number of dead soldiers?"

Rand Oertle: "If he fought in WW II, which his conclusions make me doubt, he is actively twisting the truths of that conflict. Of course, twisting the truth for Mr. Neuharth is his committed modus operandi. We didn't get out of WW II until the job was finished. The defeat of Germany and Japan took years. Now they are our allies."

David Roberts: "I agree entirely with Al Neuharth. So does Lt. General William Odom (ret.), former head of the National Security Agency under President Reagan, who has said: 'We have already failed. Staying in longer makes us fail worse.' It's time to get out of Iraq."

Al Fowler, Malcolm, NE: "Hero in '44 and traitor in '04. I will never even ACCEPT a free USA Today from a hotel, and will make it a point to say why when staying."

Tracy Dixon: "I am an active duty soldier and I agree that we should have a clear cut goal and set a date to begin pulling out of Iraq. Our goal should be training the Iraqi and pulling out. That country will never be stable as long as the U.S. troops are there."

Travis Snyder: "He dishonors those who died by inviting American surrender. This is no Vietnam. We can never have another Vietnam."

Ken Smith: "I am also a WW II vet who served in all three theaters. After eliminating all the false reasons put forward for invading a small and defenseless country the only one that stands is that George Bush had a personal dislike for Saddam Hussein. In short Americans and Iraqis are dying because our President had been given the power to use our military at his own pleasure."

John Andrew Prime, Military Affairs Reporter, The Times At Shreveport, La.: "With all due respect to Mr. Neuharth, who once led the chain for which I now work, I must say his remarks regarding World War II are off the mark. As for being well-equipped and well-prepared in (WW II) ...that is hogwash. Our soldiers entered it using tin helmets from World War I, 1903 Springfield rifles and in many cases uniforms that still had leggings....Does Mr. Neuharth recall the botched mass bombing in France in July 1944 where our own air forces bombed friendly troops, killing thousands, including Lt. Gen. Leslie McNair, one of the highest-ranking Allied general officer casualties of the war? I am sorry, but as a military reporter and the father of a soldier now over in Iraq, I have to say Mr. Neuharth is talking nonsense."

Phil Miller: “Bush and the Republican congress will do more to defeat Bush and the Republican congress throughthis invasion than ANYTHING the Democrats could do. If Iraq actually gets a free election it will demand U.S occupation troops leave asap, and then what will Bush say?”

Thursday, December 23, 2004

War Crimes?

Read this Washington Post article:

(emphasis mine)

THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.
Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba, including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. "On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. "Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more." Two defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June. When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were confiscated.

Other documents detail abuses by Marines in Iraq, including mock executions and the torture of detainees by burning and electric shock. Several dozen detainees have died in U.S. custody. In many cases, Army investigations of these crimes were shockingly shoddy: Officials lost records, failed to conduct autopsies after suspicious deaths and allowed evidence to be contaminated. Soldiers found to have committed war crimes were excused with noncriminal punishments. The summary of one suspicious death of a detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison reads: "No crime scene exam was conducted, no autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation because copy machine broken in medical office."
Some of the abuses can be attributed to lack of discipline in some military units -- though the broad extent of the problem suggests, at best, that senior commanders made little effort to prevent or control wrongdoing. But the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld. One FBI agent reported on May 10 about a conversation he had with Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who defended the use of interrogation techniques the FBI regarded as illegal on the grounds that the military "has their marching orders from the Sec Def." Gen. Miller has testified under oath that dogs were never used to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, as authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld in December 2002; the FBI papers show otherwise.
The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge
. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated. The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be ongoing in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government.

Alarming. Even more so when you realize that, as the L.A Times states, "Many Held at Guantanamo Not Likely Terrorists".

"WASHINGTON — The United States is holding dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who have no meaningful connection to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and were sent to the maximum-security facility over the objections of intelligence officers in Afghanistan who had recommended them for release, according to military sources with direct knowledge of the matter.At least 59 detainees -- nearly 10% of the prison population at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- were deemed to be of no intelligence value after repeated interrogations in Afghanistan. All were placed on "recommended for repatriation" lists well before they were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, a facility intended to hold the most hardened terrorists and Taliban suspects."
Another in the long list of examples of how Rumsfeld, and this administration have lied to the American people, refused any responsibility, and continue to create an anti American climate throughout the world. Its interesting to think back to when the WMD's didnt show up, and the adminstration has to switch its talking points, or blatant lies, depending on how in touch with reality you are,.. to things like "Saddam tortures and kills people! he must go!"

"Will any single prisoner be treated humanely? You bet. Will they be restrained in a way so that they are less likely to be able to kill an American soldier? You bet. Is it inhumane to do that? No. Would it be stupid to do anything else? Yes." -Donald Rumsfeld.

Airline scurity, and hiding the salami.

Earlier this month, baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted -- and then proceeded to lose track of -- a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed several hours later.
"This really underscores the importance of the TSA's ongoing training exercises," said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for screening passengers and baggage for weapons and explosives. "At no time did the bag pose a threat and at no time was anyone in danger."

Lovely. But clearly, it could pose a threat. You know, if it was...real.

Tag team New Jersey Senators got on the case of the TSA shortly afterwards....

"We find this incident to be alarming and believe it merits the immediate attention of your office," the senators wrote.

The bomb had sounded the alarm at the airport checkpoint, but then, the bag was -amazingly-"lost".

This story crossed my mind again today when I read this story.

A Swiss national discovered that when he was caught at Perth International Airport trying to smuggle a salami in his luggage. Dylan Pascal Graves, who was studying English in Western Australia state, was fined $3,057 at the Perth Magistrates Court.
Australia has strict quarantine laws, and customs officials inspect all incoming flights for agricultural pests and food that could carry diseases. Sniffer dogs patrol airport terminals and luggage is passed through X-ray machines.
Graves twice told customs officials in November that he was not carrying any food, but an X-ray revealed salami meat concealed in his luggage. When asked why he had not declared the salami, Graves said he had planned to eat it.
Graves was charged with making a misleading statement to an officer and knowingly importing prohibited food into the country.
Well, as long as we can find the salami, I guess its ok to fly! Either that, or Newark Airport needs to start hiring luggage screeners in Australia.

As a late entry to the "Headline of the year" Bunker award, I beleive "Hiding the Salami Costs Traveler"wins 1st prize.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Talking Presidents.

Check these bad boys out. Talking President dolls. sweet.

Personally, I like "Turkey dinner Bush" the best.
I Insist on a Michael Moore doll, or a Susan Sarandon doll to counter the Ann coulter and Dennis Miller doll.
Here is a hilarious interview with the doll master.

He's just an old man.....

Rumsfeld still has a job.

Rumsfeld told the troops that shortages of armor did not stem from a lack of money but were "a matter of physics." The manufacturers of add-on armor are producing it as fast as humanly possible", he said.

Two companies producing armor plating disputed that assertion and said they could produce as many as double the number of armor kits in a month.

Republicans dont even like the guy. He lies to soldiers when they ask him questions, and the rest of us even when we dont ask. This is not to mention the debacle in Iraq. How does this man still have a job?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Merry Christmas from Fox News.

The Salon peice is here....but i thought id print out the whole column in case you have to sit through some stupid ad for a cell phone or something.....

The Grinch who saved ChristmasBattling the homosexuals, liberals and Jews, Bill O'Reilly and friends are making America safe for Christmas.
- - - - - - - - - - - -By Eric Boehlert

Dec. 16, 2004 For most people, Christmas may be a time of peace and joy, but for Bill O'Reilly it's another chance to wage an us-vs.-them cultural war. O'Reilly and Fox News, along with a cadre of hard-charging right-wing talkers, have declared war on the anti-Christmas crowd, that dangerous mix of radical secularists and school board do-gooders determined to "bring about their own Godless version of this nation," as Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote in a column published Monday on the conservative Web site
The thorny issue of striking the proper balance between America's predominant Christian population and the country's historic separation of church and state returns every holiday season like unwanted fruitcake. But as ABC News recently noted, "This year, people in red, or Republican America -- particularly Christian conservatives -- are in an unprecedented uproar."

Fresh off Republican wins in November, O'Reilly and company have ratcheted up the rhetoric. Mixing a kernel of truth with a grab bag of unconfirmed anecdotes, as well as some outright falsehoods, and then repeating the dire warnings, they've helped manufacture the impression that a tidal wave of anti-Christian activity, fueled by Democrats, is threatening to drive Christmas underground in America.

"All over the country, Christmas is taking flak," O'Reilly recently announced, as he complained about "the anti-Christmas jihad" that's gripping the nation. "If they could, secularists would cancel Christmas as a holiday. That's how much they fear the exposition of the philosophy of Jesus." During his syndicated radio show O'Reilly intoned darkly, "The small minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority is so vicious, so dishonest -- and has to be dealt with."
Fox News pundit Morton Kondracke recently argued, "The logical extension of what [secularists are] saying is [to] ban Christmas." Meanwhile, his colleague Tony Snow concocted stories about how "you're not allowed to say 'Merry Christmas' in a lot of department stores" and then complained it was part of an elaborate "attack on Christianity." (Snow was apparently referring to a decision by Macy's to change its official store greeting to "Happy Holidays." Obviously people are still allowed to say "Merry Christmas" -- or whatever else they want to -- inside the stores.)
Throughout December, O'Reilly has positioned himself as the lone ranger, willing to step up and defend the baby Jesus. "Nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? No."
Since O'Reilly began chronicling how Christmas was "under siege," the host has been using a slew of vague catchphrases -- "those people," "these creeps," "secular progressives," "the secular bunch," "extremists" -- to describe the lurking, godless forces who want to take Christ out of Christmas.
But during his Dec. 3 radio show, O'Reilly got more specific. When a caller identified himself as Jewish and began to complain about "the secularization of Jews and about Christmas going into schools," O'Reilly shot back that "overwhelmingly, America is Christian. And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus. So, you don't wanna hear about it? Impossible. And that is an affront to the majority. You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about."
At one point, O'Reilly told the caller, "Come on, if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then." (
Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring organization, quickly posted transcripts from the radio show.) "It was offensive and over the top," says Steven Freeman, associate director of the civil liberties division at the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish civil rights organization.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., is circulating a letter among colleagues on the Hill that urges O'Reilly to apologize for his remarks. "By suggesting that Jews do not have a place in American society unless they accept without comment its 'predominantly Christian' nature, you are brushing aside the basic freedoms guaranteed to all by our Constitution," she writes. Lowey tells Salon, "Bill O'Reilly's comments were the tip of the iceberg from some conservative news outlets that are suggesting minorities should keep quiet or leave the country. It's really dangerous and I'd hope wiser heads would understand this and cease and desist."
"O'Reilly crossed the line to overt anti-Semitism," adds Michael Lerner, head of the progressive Jewish organization Tikkun. "He's trying to tell his audience that Jews have no legitimate role in public life except as second-class citizens."
O'Reilly is not alone in singling out Jews this Christmas season. In a column for the conservative Web site FrontPage, former Boston Herald writer Don Feder mocked the notion that "Myron may fear the onset of another Crusade if he hears the strains of 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' drifting through the hallways." He added, "The brave men who fought and died for America in every war from the Revolution to Iraq, overwhelmingly were Christians. Count the number of crosses in Arlington National Cemetery (on federal property, no less). Add the Stars of David."
Things got even uglier during a segment on MSNBC Dec. 8, when William Donahue of the arch-conservative Catholic League insisted, "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes."

"Nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? No." -Bill O'Grinchy.
"The 2nd funniest thing ive read this week." -The Bunker.
More fun with the biggest dope on TV here.

Fox News appeals to the left..hires Democrat.

Fox picking from the bottom of the barrel again....

Miller, who made a memorable TV appearance when he challenged MSNBC host Chris Matthews to a duel, will be seen on a variety of Fox News programs starting Jan. 6, a Fox spokesman said Tuesday.
"I am excited to be joining Fox News Channel and am eager to contribute to the continuing success of the network," Miller said in a network release.
In a raucous interview last fall on "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Miller, 72, angrily told Matthews, "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel."

This exchange is still the highlight of the election year for me. Among the funniest things i have ever seen....

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bush's "Yes" men. Could it be worse?

Good article from The Nation suggests the president's attempt to build a no-questions-asked Cabinet makes America even more vulnerable to policy misdeeds. Sure, the future holds plenty of opportunities to write about how rediculous the new leader of the Justice department is, (and how scary....torture? suuure.)...But man, im gonna miss Ashcroft. With Ashcroft gone, who will write the songs the staff must learn? Will anointing by cooking oil become mandatory in the White House? Who will drape the obviously offensive bare breast of the Spirit of Justice? Will tabby cats be banned from Washington? What about the cool coloer coding and stuff?

Hopefully not, now that this wacko is gone. Cuckoo!

"Reality TV" hits an all time low. Again.

So what do you do next as a reality TV producer? Of all the shows that have come out in the past year, from swapping wives to lying for money, this is my new favorite for our morally correct nation.

Its called "Whos your Daddy?"

The Idea?

"The Fox network said Tuesday it will air a special next month, "Who's Your Daddy?", where a daughter given up for adoption as an infant attempts to guess the identity of her birth father for a $100,000 prize."
"The woman who is the focus of the show, not identified by Fox, and her birth father were both involved in simultaneous searches for each other.
Her natural dad will be one of eight men presented to her, all claiming to be her father. She will be given opportunities to observe and interview the men to narrow the field, the network announced.
If she correctly guesses which man is her father, the woman can win as much as $100,000. If she is incorrect, the imposter that she chose will win the money, Fox said."

Costa Rican Cab Driver for President!

At least he's trying to kill Osama....

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Since no one else holds Rumsfeld accountable, Soldiers decide to do it themselves.

Read it here.

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (AP) -- After delivering a pep talk designed to energize troops preparing to head for Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got a little "talking to" himself from disgruntled soldiers.

In his prepared remarks, Rumsfeld urged the troops -- mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers -- to discount critics of the war in Iraq and to help "win the test of wills" with the insurgents.

Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own -- not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly three years after the war in Iraq.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.

Rumsfeld replied that, "You go to war with the Army you have," not the one you might want, and that any rate the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.

And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.

Asked later about Wilson's complaint, the deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Kuwait, Maj. Gen. Gary Speer, said in an interview that as far as he knows, every vehicle that is deploying to Iraq from Camp Buehring in Kuwait has at least "Level 3" armor. That means it at least has locally fabricated armor for its side panels, but not necessarily bulletproof windows or protection against explosions that penetrate the floorboard.

Speer said he was not aware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap mental and used bulletproof glass.

During the question-and-answer session, another soldier complained that active-duty Army units sometimes get priority over the National Guard and Reserve units for the best equipment in Iraq.

"There's no way I can prove it, but I am told the Army is breaking its neck to see that there is not" discrimination against the National Guard and Reserve in terms of providing equipment, Rumsfeld said.

Yet another soldier asked, without putting it to Rumsfeld as a direct criticism, how much longer the Army will continue using its "stop loss" power to prevent soldiers from leaving the service who are otherwise eligible to retire or quit.

Rumsfeld said that this condition was simply a fact of life for soldiers at time of war.

"It's basically a sound principle, it's nothing new, it's been well understood" by soldiers, he said. "My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used."

In his opening remarks, Rumsfeld stressed that soldiers who are heading to Iraq should not believe those who say the insurgents cannot be defeated or who otherwise doubt the will of the military to win.

"They say we can't prevail. I see that violence and say we must win," Rumsfeld said.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ahh! i found the liberal media!

Clear Channel owns over 1,200 radio stations and 57 television stations in America.

The above picture was taken in Orlando, FL. The text at the bottom reads, "Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. A political public service message brought to you by Clear Channel." This from one of the largest media companies in the country. Below is another Clear Channel billboard.

Oh, THAT liberal media.

CBS, NBC rejected United Church of Christ ad...where is our liberal media?

Go here to see the ad.

CBS, UPN, and NBC have refused to run an advertisement for the United Church of Christ (UCC) that promoted inclusion of gays, racial minorities and people with disabilities because they consider it "too controversial" and "unacceptable for broadcast," according to a UCC press release. The ad depicts bouncers outside a church turning away gay, minority, and disabled parishioners, followed by the text: "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." Both CBS and NBC have aired advocacy advertising in the past -- including an ad put out by the George W. Bush administration and political infomercials by former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot.

Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks." It is not clear from the excerpt quoted by UCC what CBS could possibly think is the connection between the administration's endorsement of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and the promotion of inclusiveness by a church. But even if there were such a connection -- that is, even if the UCC's "position" could be reasonably deemed in opposition to that of the administration -- the question remains: How does CBS justify rejecting an ad that purportedly conflicts with the Bush administration's views, given CBS' apparent willingness to air advocacy ads that support administration policies? As Media Matters for America documented, in criticizing the network for refusing to run a progressive group's ad critical of the administration during the 2004 Super Bowl, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) noted with approval that CBS ran a "risky, edgy, controversial" but "important" ad sponsored by the Bush White House-operated Office of National Drug Control Policy during the previous year's Super Bowl broadcast. "

There's that liberal media again.

"Well, it features a church with mean-looking bouncers outside turning away gay, minority, and disabled parishioners, and concludes with the message "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." Hey, wait a minute - that actually sounds like real Christianity!

But I guess the whole "love thy neighbor" thing is a bit passé these days, what with the triumph of George W. Bush's gay-hating "moral majority." Kudos to CBS, UPN and NBC for preventing a church from promoting the old-fashioned Christian tenet of inclusiveness. We won't be needing any of THAT in George W. Bush's America, thank you very much."

Still MORE fun with the wacky right!

Did you know god was an American? Did you knw Jerry Falwell is an American religeous extremist who beleives in Jihad? Of course you did! Quote(s) of the day taken from this article.

In a televised debate on CNN, Falwell said President Bush should "blow them (the terrorists) all away in the name of the Lord." It's unfortunate no one asked how that ideology is any different from that of a terrorist engaging in Jihad, or holy war.

"The message of Christianity is not war, hatred or murder. It is love, unconditional love. That is the nature of God. The war on terror is not a war between Christians and Muslims. It is a war between those who want peace in the world and those who want to destroy peace. To imply God has a side, other than peace, is poor theology.

"It defames Christianity to imply God and the United States of America have some kind of special relationship. It defames the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for every person, regardless of race, nationality, sex or religion. It defames Christianity to use the name of God as a motivation to kill others. It defames Christianity to imply Christians--who are only saved because they admit their sinfulness and need of a savior--are morally superior to persons of other faiths."

"His remarks implying that this is a war between Christians and Muslims invite persons of other faiths to look at all Christians with suspicion,"

"Ahh yes. You are very fat."

Introduction to the Becker-Posner Blog


Blogging is a major new social, political, and economic phenomenon. It is a fresh and striking exemplification of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis that knowledge is widely distributed among people and that the challenge to society is to create mechanisms for pooling that knowledge....The internet enables the instantaneous pooling (and hence correction, refinement, and amplification) of the ideas and opinions, facts and images, reportage and scholarship, generated by bloggers.

My guess is that Judge Posner has not, understandably, spent much time actually reading the blogs that are out there. There is relatively little evidence I have seen of correction and refinement of ideas, facts, and scholarship, and much more amplification and repetition of existing prejudices and ignorance, or, occasionally, feeding frenzies on trivial mistakes in the mainstream media (only in the U.S. blogosphere would you come away thinking that the media in the United States tilts to the left).

The exceptions--that is the bloggers who genuinely refine and advance ideas, facts, and scholarship--are almost entirely bloggers who have pre-blogosphere expertise and competence: the historian Juan Cole, for example. The only virtue of the blogosphere is the same as the general virtue of the Internet: it makes it easier to disseminate genuine expertise and knowledge. But that is rather different from saying the blogosphere provides evidence "that knowledge is widely distributed among people." Ignorance, foolishness, prejudice, parochial bias, irrationality are widely distributed among people (maybe even more widely distributed among those who blog!); knowledge does not appear to be.

Perhaps all Posner has in mind, though, is the phenomenon well-illustrated by the thread on journals, where the experience of many different individuals with the editorial practices of many different journals were collected. In some sense, this represents the refinement and dissemination of facts and information that would have otherwise been harder to collect (everyone would have their random horror story about this or that journal, but when you collect them, you see patterns that otherwise would have been invisible). This, of course, is just an instance of the virtue of the Internet noted above; my guess is Posner had a more ambitious claim in mind.

Confessions of a liberal professor

I CONFESS. I am one of the liberal Democratic professors that Jeff Jacoby is so concerned about in his attack on politics in academia ("A left-wing monopoly on campuses," op ed, Dec. 2). I do avoid bringing politics into the classroom. In fact, I confess to the following liberal beliefs:

* Government policies should be based on the best available evidence, and evidence should be presented in an honest manner. Open and honest debate on issues is valuable and important.

* The United States should honor its own laws and its international agreements, including the Geneva Conventions.

* Policies should be chosen to benefit the American people as a whole and not special interests.

* The government should maintain regulations to protect our environment, and in some cases it should strengthen regulations.

* Global warming caused by human activities is an accepted belief by most in the scientific community and should be taken extremely seriously. We should start actions immediately to mitigate its effects.

* The deficit, and ultimately the national debt, needs to be decreased, even if part of the solution lies in raising taxes.

* People should be treated with respect and fairness regardless of their gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc.

I find it unfortunate that Jacoby finds my liberalism objectionable. But it is indeed fortunate for academia that Jacoby is not setting the policies.

MIT Sloan School
of Management

The long haul.

1 more hour! 1 more hour!

This peice in the WNJ discusses the idea of keeping Delaware bars open until 2 a.m instead of the current 1 a.m.

Ive seen it many times. 1 a.m rolls around, and you have alot people who live in town who have walked to the bar getting into cars to head down 202 to Mckenzies or any other bar that supplies an extra hour of sloshing. And, at the beach, as people pack up and head down to Seacrets to take advantage of the later "last call" in Maryland. Opposition, which is...probably everyone in DE government, beleive a later close time may encourage drunk driving. While there is an argument to be made there, It seems unfair to let the DUI cases rule here. In the spirit of the biggest cliche since since "It's not about the money, its about the music", If we cannot have a more appropriate and mature close time for our local watering holes, the drunk drivers have truly won. (tongue firmly in cheek). Wilmington is often "sealed off" at 1 a.m these days. DUI check points sit on PA ave heading into Greenville, and out towards I-95. Judging by the cllection of empty cars by the roadside you can observer while going through a check point, they are succesful. It seems to me that drunk drivers have a good shot at getting busted. DE is doing a good job of cracking down on DUI. Will doing the same thing at 2 a.m be any different? I dont think so. You can still bag the same number of un-easy riders , (maybe more! woo!) and you can take the PA/MD defectors off the roads by taking away the reason they are heading for the border.

The number one reason I can see for doing this is so I can be a little less embarrased when telling friends that come down from New York, or up from Baltimore, or, pretty much any other state or city, that we close our bars just as most other bars in the country are coming into full swing. This, of course, will never happen, as the owner of "Smith's" points out.

"I don't understand their motivation," said Nancy Vadvarken, Smither's owner. "We have tougher DUI laws and the Legislature's banned smoking in bars. As conservative as they're getting on social issues, I don't see why [lawmakers would] do this."

Seriously! Im still amazed we got the package stores to open on Sunday.
Plus the cops would have to stand at checkpoints for an extra hour, and its cold in front of Tower Hill school this time of year.

Here is a state web site the shows the success of DUI checkpoints.

Monday Night Football becomes a target night for DUI stops.

So im screwed then? Lovely. Thanks.

Turn out that People born in May in the northern hemisphere have a higher than average risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Sweet. Of all the months on all the calanders in all the world, MS has to walk into mine.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Farenheit 451.

Read it here.

MONTGOMERY - An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

"Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle," Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.

When asked about Tennessee Williams' southern classic "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," Allen said the play probably couldn't be performed by university theater groups."

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad.

"Frightening in its implications... Mr. Bradbury's account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating."
The New York Times

"A chilling work about a dystopian society."
Washington Post

"A landmark book."
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

"A modern classic."
Washington Post

Need a software developer?

This may be the man.

Score one for a risk-averse, disciplined White House: Question asked, answer avoided, see you later.

Great article here on how G.W has dodged questions for 4 years, and the soft balls the so called liberal media likes to toss him. Our president has held the fewest formal news conferences of any president beginning with Eisenhower. It really must be "hard work". The article also provides some good quotes for the day, from dubya himself.

"I do believe Ariel Sharon is a man of peace,"

In April, Dickerson asked one of the most famous questions of Bush's presidency: "In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?"

Bush did not have a tape ready to stick into his VCR and he struggled to improvise. "I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it," Bush said. He went on to say he could not think of a mistake he had made, providing months of fodder for his critics. "It's an excellent question that totally stumped me. I guess looking at it practically, my biggest mistake was calling on John."

Fun, fun fun!