Thursday, September 20, 2007


The brouhaha over's "General Betray Us" ad is ridiculous. This is one of the better responses to it I have encountered.

It's all phony, of course. The war's backers are obviously delighted to have this ad from which they can make an issue. They wouldn't trade it for a week in Anbar province (a formerly troubled area of Iraq that is now, thanks to us, an Eden of peace and tranquillity where barely a car bomb disturbs the perfumed silence — or so they say). These days, mock outrage is used by every side of every dispute. It's fair enough to criticize something your opponent said while secretly thanking your lucky stars that he said it. The fuss over this ad is something else: it is the result of a desperate scavenging for umbrage material. When so many people are clamoring for a chance to swoon that they each have to take a number and when the landscape is so littered with folks lying prostrate and pretending to be dead that it starts to look like the end of a Civil War battle re-enactment, this isn't spontaneous mass outrage. This is choreography.

It's upsetting that real discourse is rarely done anymore in modern politics, although I suppose the cynic would say, "Is it really any different now than it was?" Maybe not, but I still get tired of partisan games. Why can't we just have a civil discussion about important issues?

The Iran Question

Steve Clemons doesn't think Bush will bomb Iran. But he doesn't rule out an "accidental" conflict.

We should also worry about the kind of scenario David Wurmser floated, meaning an engineered provocation. An "accidental war" would escalate quickly and "end run," as Wurmser put it, the president's diplomatic, intelligence and military decision-making apparatus. It would most likely be triggered by one or both of the two people who would see their political fortunes rise through a new conflict -- Cheney and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

That kind of war is much more probable and very much worth worrying about.

The neocon movement has failed. Cheney and his ilk need to pack it up before they do more damage to our nation.

A Space Gap?

More woe from NASA.

I admire the people at NASA. They have gathered some brilliant minds. The problems there I think stem from mismanagement and being a government bureaucracy dependent on tax payer money for support. I think the answer does lie in the private sector.

Pants on Fire

The difference between the blogosphere and mainstream media is at times a large one. One of the big gulfs is when it comes to public figures lying. Bloggers don't hesitate to call pols on it. The MSM tends to gloss it over or bury it in their story. That may be changing.

"We were trying so hard to be impartial we fell down on our responsibility to blow our whistle when they were saying something false," [Adair] says. There had to be a better way to prevent falsehoods from getting out there and sticking, he says. Hence PolitiFact.

About time. We need to hold politicians accountable. They're our representatives.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Slimy Lawyer Ads

Nobody likes advertisements because most of them stink. Lawyers ads are no different. Ransom on Mental_Floss has a post about ads from law practices including videos of a couple of awesomely slimy TV ads. You can't help but laugh watching them (both called "The Hammer") talk about crushing your enemy or getting all of the money (or more!) that you deserve.

What Doesn't Google Do?

Google continues their quest for non-evil world domination with their free presentation builder ala PowerPoint. While I like the Microsoft Office suite and don't have any problems with it, I'm glad to see competition for it. That will only the software for both sides better.

Family Ties

It was my mom's birthday yesterday. It was, unfortunately, not as nice as it should have been. We went to dinner at Applebees. My sister, Sheena, said she couldn't come because her daughter, Aryana, was cranky and crying and her boyfriend certainly doesn't seem to ever babysit. Sharie was her usual angry self and when I tried to get everybody to share some memories of Mom, she said she couldn't think of any. My sweet niece, Alexis, has not been taught how to sit down and behave while eating, so she was making a scene. After dinner, we were all supposed to go out for drinks, but Shawna and Sharie didn't come because they didn't have babysitters or just didn't want to. So, Shawn and I took my Mom out. She has been wanting to play keno for a long time, so we went to a casino that had pool tables so that Shawn and I would have something to do. We didn't end up playing long because Mom's bowels started, ah, acting up and we had to race home to get her to the bathroom. She doesn't see eye-to-eye with public bathrooms, not because they are dirty or anything, but because they are public and she can't always relax enough to go. This seemed to irritate Shawn, but maybe it's just because he feels he is too long from his "true love."

Anyway, I really wish my siblings would make more of an effort for events like this. Sure, things happen, but when it's your mom, I feel like a little extra effort is in order. My brother and sisters are too often enmeshed in their own lives to see what is really going on in other people's lives and to be bothered to go out of their way for someone. I know what it's like because I've been there, but it's still frustrating.

Moody Blues

I had a bout of depression hit me this afternoon. Nothing in particular caused it. I just started feeling that way. It was bad enough that I was hardly able to do any work. I still feel depressed and pissy. Coming home didn't make it any better. I don't want to be bothered by anybody right now or have to think about anything.

It's really a strange feeling. I don't know how people who deal with this on a more regular basis manage. I'd go crazy if I had to handle this more often. Though I deal with fatigue on a daily basis, the emotional roller-coaster ride is the most aggravating aspect of MS that I have to deal with. Thankfully I have no physical difficulties to manage at this point. When those do come, though, I don't think I will be as bothered by them as I am by these bouts of sadness and anger. I treasure my mind above all things that I am and it's frustrating to not always have control of it.

Evangelical Debate

One of the coolest features on Slate are the email debates. Two people email back and forth a few times debating some topic. A recent one, not quite finished, yet, is between Hanna Rosin and David Kuo. Rosin just wrote a book called God's Harvard about an evangelical Christian college, Patrick Henry, that prepares its students to be advocates of Christ especially in politics. Kuo worked for George W. Bush as director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and wrote a book about that and his experience dealing with the Religious Right.

Their debate is about Rosin's book and her claim that evangelicals are pushing for a Christian theocracy. It is well worth the read.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

War With Iran?

Barnett Rubin writes about the similarities between current Bush rhetoric and the things he was saying leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Eli Lake gives a snarky rebuttal. Justin Logan responds to Lake.

I don't think the notion that the Bush administration is desirous of war with Iran is a "liberal fantasy" or spin by the media. I think the signs are there. Whether Bush and Cheney will be foolish enough to go through with it is another question, but I get nervous when I wonder about their connection to reality and ability to think rationally about these things.

Secret of the Week


An Attack on Atheists By...An Atheist?

Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at the University of Virgina and an atheist, writes an article very critical of "new atheists" such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

Reading Harris is like watching professional wrestling or the Harlem Globetrotters. It's great fun, with lots of acrobatics, but it must not be mistaken for an actual contest. If we want to stage a fair fight between religious and secular moralities, we can't eliminate one by definition before the match begins.

Ouch. Haidt claims that Dawkins and Harris take a too narrow view of morality and don't understand the benefits that can stem from religion. It is a very intriguing article.