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30 June 2004

If Art Imitated Life

Imagine that the usual stars of the so-called liberal media were reviewing, say, Spiderman 2. They would surely chastise Peter Parker for waffling on every important issue in his life. Does he want to be Spiderman, or not? Will he profess his love for Mary Jane, or not? Can he protect his saintly Aunt May, or not? He can't decide! Oh, how worthless he is! Meanwhile, that Doctor Octopus is so self-assured, bold, and confident! Never mind how everything he does turns out so wrong; he's the admirable one in this movie.

Posted by Tim W at 6/30/2004 11:04:00 PM

Yankees and Red Sox

My partner in blogging was almost entirely right when he wrote about the Yankees and the Red Sox, except for one very important point. It is not Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling who inspires fear and self-loathing among Yankee hitters. It is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who simply owns them.

Posted by Tim W at 6/30/2004 11:01:00 PM

Yankee Fans Boo Cheney

Dick Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch of the first game of the Yankees-Red Sox series. I am a Bostonian and a Red Sox fan but tip my cap to the Yankee fans. As for the game, the Yankees ability to pressure a weak Red Sox defense with aggressive base-running and timely hitting does not bode well for the Sox catching the Yanks for the top spot in the AL East. Boston fans will be hoping to get into the playoffs via the Wild Card where Martinez and Schilling could dominate a seven game series.

Posted by PAUL at 6/30/2004 01:54:00 AM

29 June 2004

Libertarian Party Spanks David Bossie

Watch out for the circular firing squad of right-wingers.

The attached Free Republic thread on a Libertarian Party press release attacking the attacks on Fahrenheit 9/11 is worth a read. It is comical but, more importantly, also shows the political box any thinking conservative that supports Bush and opposes Moore's film will find himself. They can attack Moore's message but must protect his right to market that message.

David Bossie and his ilk strike right to the heart of the first amendment right to criticize our government. Supporting a crackdown by the FEC on advertising Moore's film during the window before the election should send a chill up any true conservative's spine. It will also be counterproductive because it will push conservatives with a libertarian bent away from Bush. The same political box applies to those on the right that want to censor Moore because we are "at war." Of course, that dog don't hunt for a lot of reasons, including the fact now that we have turned sovereignty back to Iraqis.

Posted by PAUL at 6/29/2004 10:22:00 PM

26 June 2004

A Wake-Up Call

Why do so many people fear Michael Moore and his film, Fahrenheit 9/11? They fear that it can make a difference. That is the real reason behind efforts to restrict its distribution and attack its "fairness." It is also the reason why I hope the movie gets wide distribution.

Fahrenheit 9/11 opened in Boston yesterday and I attended a 4:20 show in a suburban location with my two children. The theater was packed, an unusual achievement for an R-rated film on a work day. The audience was respectful throughout the showing. The quiet was broken at times by laughter at the more humorous moments and sighs at some graphic images of war. I laughed at a number of moments. On more than one occasion I wiped tears from my face. The audience applauded the film at the end. Moore's film speaks to both the hearts and minds of its audience. Simply stated, it is a wake-up call.

Calling this film propaganda is a joke. Moore's bias is clear. He wants Bush to be defeated in 2004. He also wants to delegitimize Bush's rise to the presidency, his administration of that office and his war in Iraq. He exposes the self-imposed impotence of congressional Democrats. Moore attacks corporate war profiteering, juxtaposing it with the real sacrifice of Americans that risk life and limb, and that of their children, in an attempt to escape poverty and limited opportunities. He revisits his theme from Bowling for Columbine that the American public is manipulated by fear into supporting both domestic and foreign policies that are not in the best interest of a great country and a great people. Moore chastises the media for abdicating its role as the people's last resort against the lies and tyranny of government run for the interests of a few against the interests of the nation as a whole.

The real joke is the last four years. Looking back, how do the Democratic Party and the "So Called Liberal Media" explain why they laid down to a Bush political agenda based on theft, lies, and greed. The failure of the Bush administration is one reality show that networks refused to pump into the homes of Americans. The past week is further evidence that they are still more comfortable talking about Monica than they are Enron, Halliburton and the Carlyse Group, companies led by powerful men that did much more damage to our country than a sexual tryst between two consenting adults. Moore doesn't just expose Bush he exposes the Democrats and the media. Alas, neither is likely to heed his message.

Moore uses a mix of factual evidence, emotion, metaphor, and theory to make his point. Compared to television news, Moore understates his message. At one point, Moore effectively uses a blank screen with audio to portray the horror of 9/11. Moore has been attacked for using footage of bereaved parents. I found his use of an Iraqi mother who lost her son to American bombs and a Flint, Michigan mother whose son was shot down during his service in Iraq to be both powerful and illuminating. How is it that our media has covered the war without giving a voice to such heartfelt loss and suffering? How is it that most Americans have not made the connection between the shared sacrifice of Iraqis and Americans? How do we come to terms with leaders whose willingness to sacrifice others trumps any effort to uncover the truth and negotiate a settlement of risk and differences?

There is nothing to fear in Fahrenheit 9/11 except our own inabilities to heed the wake-up call.

Posted by PAUL at 6/26/2004 09:48:00 AM

23 June 2004

Did You Get Your Paycheck Today

Brad DeLong does it again. Simple facts tell important truths. He compares job growth during the Clinton presidency with that of the Bush presidency. DeLong uses the employment-to-population ratio—which he calls "the best yardstick because of the recent sensitivity of labor force participation to the state of the job market." The ratio spikes throughout Clinton's presidency and plummets during Bush's four years. It also discredits the White House claim that the economy is heating up and that strong labor demand will increase wages significantly for the American worker.

He also has a simple graphic that makes his point clear to any reader. Kerry should be running this graphic in every Midwestern state.

Delong then asks a great question: "Why do I have the feeling that nobody writing editorials for the Washington Post knows or cares about figures like this one?"

Posted by PAUL at 6/23/2004 05:21:00 AM

22 June 2004

Hitching His Horse to the Right Post

Christopher Hitchens comes unglued in his latest attack on Michael Moore. I have been critical of Moore in the past and expect that Fahrenheit 911 will contain plenty of points to criticize. However, despite any shortcomings in the film, Hitchen's over-the-top criticisms and clear need to defragmentize Moore's work is an indication that the film warrants America's attention. For several years, the modus operandi of the right-wing apologists in America has been to tell people what to think before giving us a chance to think. The most viscous attacks are reserved for the politicians (the Clintons) and artists (Moore) that speak to both the hearts and minds of Americans and threaten right-wing ideology.

I often read Free Republic. First, they link to numerous articles across a broad spectrum of culture and politics. Second, it provides me wish realtime feedback on the reaction of the right-wing in our country to current events in politics and culture. I have come to learn that the rightwing in America have a love-hate relationship with Christopher Hitchens. To a lesser degree, they have a similar relationship with Camille Paglia, at least those with a smaill streak of libertarian in their being. Earlier today I laughed out loud at a post of one Freeper's analysis of Hitchens's work:

Bravo Mr. Hitchens. When Christopher Hitchens takes on a liar and a phony he is simply the most devastating writer alive.

When he takes shots at people like George Will, he is amazingly ineffective and weak.

In general when he speaks as a leftist, attacking the right, his writing his thin and his argument lacks force. When he attacks the left his writing is passionate and powerful. I think some deep part of his soul senses the evil and dishonesty of leftist ideology. I wish like David Horowitz he could make a clean break with left wing thinking.

It would be so nice to have such a powerful voice with us on most of the issues, not just some of the issues.

How's that for an open mind?

Posted by PAUL at 6/22/2004 06:36:00 AM

Ipse Dixit

Dick Cheney, long a stickler for transparency in everything governmental, is explaining yet again that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties with al-Qaeda."

Well, I maintain that Saddam Hussein had long-established ties with Donald Rumsfeld, and there are photos and video to prove one particularly friendly meeting between the two.

But that doesn't mean that they were in cahoots in 2001.

It is a sad statement for the quality of political argument in America that for almost three years a major political party has been implying on a daily basis that all of America's enemies are by definition allies of one another.

Posted by Tim W at 6/22/2004 01:40:00 AM

Hearts and Minds

The Bush administration hopes to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. But it has clearly lost the hearts and minds of The New Republic, which all but cries "mea culpa" in its latest issue, which re-examines its previous support for the war.

(Memo to Beinart et al.: better late than never, but what took you so bloody long?)

Posted by Tim W at 6/22/2004 01:36:00 AM

Bush-bin Laden in '04?

The Republican party would like voters to believe that its vigourous stance against terrorism casts fear in the hearts of Osama bin Laden and his crowd.

But I have long doubted that Osama bin laden is particularly unhappy with our current leader. Bush has managed to lead his country and its allies into war in Iraq on the pretense of fighting terrorism and standing for human rights. Months of American occupation have meant thousands of dead Iraqis and nearly 1000 dead American soldiers; an essentially chaotic civil society in Iraq, which is now a magnet for outside agitators; and, lest we forget, ample evidence of the American attitude toward human rights when military intelligence is at stake.

Indeed, George W. Bush has done well to demonstrate for Osama bin Laden that the United States is hardly improving the lot of the average Iraqi.

Now it seems that my cynicism is hardly unique. Julian Borger of The Guardian writes that a senior American intelligence officer is publishing, anonymously, a treatise on this very point:

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.

In an interview with the Guardian the official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them....

Anonymous does not try to veil his contempt for the Bush White House and its policies. His book describes the Iraq invasion as "an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantage.

"Our choice of timing, moreover, shows an abject, even wilful failure to recognise the ideological power, lethality and growth potential of the threat personified by Bin Laden, as well as the impetus that threat has been given by the US-led invasion and occupation of Muslim Iraq."...

"I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now," he said....

Anonymous believes Mr Bush is taking the US in exactly the direction Bin Laden wants, towards all-out confrontation with Islam under the banner of spreading democracy.

Spencer Ackerman, subbing for the vacationing Joshua Marshall at Talking Points Memo, has an intriguing interview with the author, who is especially critical of the warping of intelligence data for political purposes and of a foreign policy that has placed access to oil well above other considerations. So far, so good. More importantly, he talks in a gloomy manner about "total war" between American and its European allies and the Islamic world. And right about there is where he goes way off track.

By way of analogy, consider the range of mainstream American foreign policy in, say, 1963, regarding the Soviet Union. On what was deemed the left was an aggressive containment policy that was predicated on preventing any more pro-Western governments from falling under the evil Soviet spell. On the right was a plethora of ways to right the Soviets and kick them out of Eastern Europe or Cuba or Southeast Asia. Thirty years later, both containment and rollback were moot. (Alas, mainstream politicians refuse even today to look back at the Cold War and at least rue the lives wasted and trillions of dollars squandered on anti-Communism, let along rue the concept itself. But they could at least vow not to start Cold War II!)

Posted by Tim W at 6/22/2004 01:02:00 AM

16 June 2004

The Real Fiscal Conservatives

Brad DeLong does a great job of putting the lie to the Republican spin on the Ronald Reagan presidency. He also juxtaposes the success of Bill Clinton at managing federal spending with the failure of our current president. I have to wonder, how could any thinking fiscal conservative vote for George W. Bush in the face of such simple truths.

Here is an excerpt:

Federal Spending as a Share of GDP:

21.6%: Last Carter budget (FY 1981)
20.7%: Last Reagan budget (FY 1989)

-0.9%: Change over Reagan terms

21.0%: Last Bush I budget (FY 1993)
18.3%: Last Clinton budget (FY 2001)

-2.7%: Change over Clinton terms

20.4%: Forecast FY 2005 budget

+2.1%: Change over Bush term*

Why doesn't the AEI report these numbers? Because it doesn't want you thinking. It doesn't want you thinking that the axe Reagan took to the discretionary domestic side was largely offset by increases in defense spending that had relatively little effect on the strategic balance vis-a-vis the tottering Soviet Union (more submarines, anyone?) and by the explosion of interest payments on the debt produced by the Reagan deficits. It doesn't want you thinking that Clinton-era reductions in the size of the government were three times as big as Reagan-era reductions. And it doesn't want you to really focus on exactly how profligate the Bush budgets have been.

Posted by PAUL at 6/16/2004 04:33:00 AM

15 June 2004

Designated for Assignment

Pity the poor sports fans! They know that the teams that they follow and cheer on have often tenuous links to their cities, that many of the athletes are hardly exemplary citizens, and that spectator sports in general are fundamentally much ado about nothing. But organized sports do provide a host of public morality plays. The rules of each sport are known (or at least, as in the case of American football, knowable). A team wins by its achievements against real metrics. And merit has much to do with who gets to participate. And lack of merit quickly becomes obvious to most observers. Pity the poor sports fans because so much else of life lacks the moral structure of a spectator sport.

(Certainly the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provided decades of exceptions to the rule of merit: the so-called American pastime of baseball was a segregated game at its highest levels until 1946. But even the long-delayed integration of professional sports predated the integration of most of the rest of American society. It was far harder for white Americans to argue that only white ballplayers were good enough for the topmost sports leagues than to argue that transportation, lodging, voting, employment, or the like ought to be color-blind as well. But I digress.)

Sports fans know full well that mystique and reputation are no match for actual results. One can claim, for example, that Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens is no longer the pitcher he once was because he does not throw as hard anymore. But what Martinez or Johnson or Clemens actually does on the field quickly becomes public knowledge. If they do well—as all three have done this season—they earn the praise of their fans and the respect of their opponents. If they stink, then they deserve to be benched or demoted.

Would that other aspects of life worked that way. Would that reputation be less important than deeds.

Boston is a sports-mad town, and the Boston Globe reflects that passion for sports in its comprehensive coverage of all things sporting. Boston is, to listen to the national media, a liberal town as well, and its broadsheet paper, the Boston Globe is supposed to reflect that as well.

In truth, Boston is far from monolithic in its liberalism. Social conservatives have dominated neighborhoods such as South Boston for decades. One of the two local dailies, the Boston Herald is unabashedly conservative. And the Globe is hardly a standard-bearer for liberalism. Let us examine the columnists who regularly grace the op-ed page of the paper.

  • Derrick Jackson: Jackson is the columnist who best fits the national perception of the Globe as a liberal paper. He is sharply critical of the foreign and domestic policies of the Bush administration. One of his recurring themes, in columns that he writes every March, is the sorry chances for college athletes, particularly African-American athletes, to graduate with their college classes.
  • Jeff Jacoby: The Globe hired Jacoby away from the Herald several years ago to add "balance" to the op-ed page, and Jacoby didn't disappoint his new masters. Occasionally, he provides some useful insight, but is too often comes across as a hack. He pushes the Likud line on israel, and the Republican line on almost anything else. Taxes are bad; Ted Kennedy is worse; and don't get him started on John Kerry. At the end of every year, he excoriates the "liberal hate speech" in the media.
  • Scot Lehigh: Lehigh generally writes on state and national politics. His politics are mainstream Democratic, but the recent battles over gay marriage seem to have lit a fire in his belly.
  • Thomas Oliphant: Oliphant writes out of the Globe's Washington bureau. he lacks the insider status of someone like David Broder of the Washington Post, but he also seems to care more about outcomes than Broder does. he seems to be to the left of Lehigh but to the right of Jackson, but he's often writing about different subjects than those two.
  • Joan Vennochi: Vennochi used to write for the business section but moved in the past couple of years to the op-ed page. Vennochi is forever decrying the images of politics—Al Gore's "anger," for example—but not the actual politics behind the image. Her political attitude is one of detached cynicism: for Democrats, labor unions are a problem because, well, they might picket at the wring time. While a Jeff Jacoby article might be aggravating, it usually includes a political argument worth considering, a Joan Vennochi article is a poor use of ink and paper. If Vennochi were an infielder, the Red Sox would have designated her for assignment long ago.
  • Cathy Young: Young is supposed to be the libertarian counterweight on the op-ed page; at least her affiliation with Reason magazine implies that she is a libertarian. She isn't a doctrinaire Republican: she wrote begrudgingly for gay marriage rights and forcefully for the rights of the nonreligious. But it's hard to read her without considering her some sort of libertarian manqué. She paints abortion-rights supporters as "zealots." She supports Republican foreign policy from Reagan onward. Unlike her colleagues at Reason, she accused Spanish voters of appeasement for voting for the Socialists earlier this year.

On the whole, two things stand out about the Globe's op-ed page. First, the notion that the paper is a bastion of liberalism is belied by its columnists (never mind how its news coverage, which has its own set of biases, belies that notion as well). More importantly, the columnists who are supposed to bring balance to the page are its weakest contributors. There are surely better conservative, libertarian, and even just plain cynical writers, even in the Boston area, than Jacoby, Young, and Vennochi. If they were baseball players, it would be obvious.

Posted by Tim W at 6/15/2004 12:36:00 AM

14 June 2004

Hagiography Made Simple

Just how did your favorite media outlets publish so much about Ronald Reagan so quickly after his death? Yes, some was actually produced on deadline, but much of it was prepared years ahead of time. And we have some evidence in this case.

In February 2002, Scripps Howard offered its newspapers 12 full pages of hagiography:

Due to the ailing health of former president Ronald Reagan, Scripps Howard News Service has produced 2 paginated tributes to the celebrated actor/politician. A 12-page section and an abbreviated 2 facing pages are available.

Kudos go to Doug Henwood for noticing this trove shortly after its creation. As Jeet Heer later noted on the LBO-Talk list, most newspapers have canned biographies of living and ailing personages that make for good reading by the employees. Is it any wonder, then, that pundits who work at these institutions have nothing bad to say about Saint Ronnie? Everything they know about him comes from his longstanding obituaries!

Posted by Tim W at 6/14/2004 01:37:00 AM

13 June 2004

A Real Reagan Legacy Project

The indefatigable conservatives at the are trying to get Reagan onto the $10 bill, and therefore replacing the man conservatives used to love, Alexander Hamilton. Jimmy Breslin, by contrast, proposes that Reagan's visage appear on a $3 bill.

I have a better idea. One of Reagan's most enduring legacies was a vastly expanded national debt. When he left office, the Grover Norquist wing of the Republican Party was convinced that Reagan had forever changed the federal government; deficit spending would be unstoppable and even a generation of Democratic administrations would be unable either to balance the federal budget or to enact the programs that they wanted. After four years of George Bush I, the revolution was truly complete. Except that Bill Clinton, aided in no small part by a booming stock market, managed to balance the budget within seven years.

With the national debt in mind, I propose that Ronald Reagan appear. not on our currency, but on a new denomination of United States Savings Bonds, which would feature extra-low interest rates to reduce the burden on American taxpayers to service America's public debt. (We would not want to cause Reagan's enduring legacy to be a burden on the government.) I propose $1987, in honor of the Iran-Contra scandal, but I would settle for any other value. Conservatives could vote with their pocketbooks to reduce the size of the federal government. But somehow, I don't think that many of them will.

Posted by Tim W at 6/13/2004 01:09:00 AM

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat

Leave it to the New York Times to provide the most delicious irony in the space of a solitary newspaper headline, let alone an article.

A couple of weeks ago, the Times profiled Reginald Foster, a fellow at the Vatican who tries to keep Latin a living, spoken language. This is especially fascinating here at Bear Left World Headquarters, which includes one certified teacher of Latin and classical humanities.

The headline: "Forget 'Hic, Haec, Hoc.' Try 'O Tempora! O Lingua!'" An A for effort goes to the editorial staff for a clever allusion to Cicero's critique of Catiline. Alas, exclamations like this take the accusative case. O Tempora! O Linguam Temporum!

Posted by Tim W at 6/13/2004 01:08:00 AM


The events of the past few weeks, most notably the resignation of Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, should have made Al Gore a political prophet. Well before George Tenet actually resigned, Gore was calling for his resignation and the resignations of other key Bush administration officials. Don't wait for the gormless so-called liberal media to retract what they said about Gore in the days after his speech.

Bob Somerby's consistently excellent Daily Howler website performed the generally thankless task of reviewing what pundits on television said about Gore and his speech. To his dismay, albeit not to his surprise, they focused on his manner and not on his words.

But then, that’s the shape of your post-affluence press corps. Overpaid, pampered, perfumed and powdered, they're good at one thing—reciting spin. There seems to be little in which they believe, and they seem to get nervous someone shows "passion." They know they're supposed to "make fun of Gore," and it bothers them when a speech gets too loud. Empty, vacuous, dumb to the core, they rise up in righteous fury when a speech gets too loud—or too lengthy.

Somerby has always been an overt fan of Al Gore, but his critique of the press corps is objectively right. It is far too easy for pundits to stick to established notions about politics, the facts be damned.

Joan Vennochi, the consistently insipid columnist of the Boston Globe managed to prove Somerby's points, in a web-only column for the paper's associated web site. In the column, she critiques Gore's speech. Remember that she is writing for the web site, so she has free rein to talk more about policy or politics than she might otherwise. And unlike television pundits, she has several hundred words to present a nuanced or tricky argument. Alas, she followed the same script as Somerby's worthies.

Gore's over-the-top delivery is a warning to all less-than-eloquent speakers striving to be Tony Blair. It is better to be dull than to remind people of Dean after the Iowa Caucus. Losing your audience is preferable to losing your dignity. Preacher-style speechifying is best left to preachers.

The saddest part for Gore is that what he said got lost in how he said it. Calling for top Bush administration officials to resign is not unreasonable, given the disclosures about intelligence failures before the invasion of Iraq, poor planning afterward and the breakdown of discipline in Abu Ghraib prison. Ranting that Bush is "the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon," along with other overloaded rhetoric, is not the way to return a Democrat to the White House....

[Gore and Kerry] are both cut from the same stiff, white guy rhetorical cloth, and efforts to fire up their speech ring false. The country doesn't need more impassioned rhetoric from its leaders, it need more leaders offering well-reasoned, well-articulated policy.

The second paragraph there is the only one in which Vennochi actually mentions the content of Gore's speech. The rest of the screed is devoted to Gore's style—not to the worth of his call for resignations, not even to his notion of Bush being the most dishonest president since Nixon. Only six men are eligible for that title, and it's at least arguable and hardly overloading rhetoric to argue that Bush, who pushed hard to a war under the feeblest of pretenses, fits that description. I'd like to report that Vennochi had a bad day under deadline, but this sort of vapid claptrap is par for her. So goes the punditry at what is supposed to be a liberal newspaper.

Part of the problem that Somerby describes is the primacy of television: actual reporting of complex issues takes time, and few television outlets offer anyone enough time to build a complex case for anything. But a big part of the problem is the complacency, dishonesty, and general indolence of the press corps. How else do we have a portrayal of the Reagan presidency in retrospect that manages to avoid any of the huge controversies that roiled the country during his years. Where is the New Right and its social agenda? Where are the debates about nuclear weapons? Or trickle-down economics? Or a foreign policy that ranged from inspired to blinkered to flat-out illegal? All of that is apparently dwarfed by his electoral success in 1984.

Posted by Tim W at 6/13/2004 12:38:00 AM

11 June 2004

1982 Press Briefing

While the major media spend the better part of a week transforming the Reagan years into a Norman Rockwell illustration, Dan Kennedy's Weblog of June 10 brings us back to reality. Dan reminds us of that "one of Ronald Reagan's most shameful legacies was his indifference toward the then-emerging AIDS epidemic." The 1982 press briefing Kennedy documents was conducted by Reagan spokesman Larry Speakes. It speaks for itself. Shame on the major media for draping a curtain over reality while shamelessly spinning history.

Posted by PAUL at 6/11/2004 04:43:00 AM

08 June 2004

Transparency and Justice Be Damned

The Bush administration is defending itself against accusations that it sanctioned the type of torture that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison. Irate Democratic senators, including Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, made the accusations. The senators pointed to memos from 2002 and 2003, approved by senior lawyers from the justice and defense departments, that concluded that torture may be legally permitted as part of the war on terrorism. Biden, who has a son in the military, was especially concerned that such a policy could endanger US soldiers by weakening the international prohibitions against torture. The politically sensitive memorandums were not provided to Congress or to the committee investigating 9-11 but instead were leaked from an administration that hates leaks.

The memorandum appear to contradict statements by President Bush that the torture at Abu Ghraib prison resulted solely from the isolated acts of lower level personnel. Reading closely Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's prior comments indicates that members of the administration may have chosen to parse their words carefully:

We have recently seen abuses at the prison under U.S. responsibility. It has been "a body blow" for all of us, but it does not represent America, nor does it represent American values. The people who engaged in the abuses will be brought to justice. The world will see that a free, democratic system functions and operates transparently.

"The people who engaged in the abuses will be brought to justice..." Clearly, that does not include the policymakers that concluded that torture may be legal. Transparency and justice be damned.

Posted by PAUL at 6/08/2004 10:55:00 PM

Admire the Political Skills, Reject the Myth

I am not one to speak ill of the recently departed, but I do believe we need to protect the historical record from revisionist history. Ronald Reagan transformed the selling of the president from a campaign strategy to the major priority of holding office. In life, as he is now in death, Reagan was an American myth.

As candidate and president, Reagan promised to reduce government's size, free individuals from the tyranny of government intrusion, and promote and protect democracy throughout the world. In fact, he expanded the size and scope of government, used the power of government at home and abroad to force individuals to submit to power and authority, provided weapons to terrorists in the Middle East and Central America, refused to even acknowledge the existence of AIDS while incubating its growth through neglect, and pretended that America did not have a history of racism. In short, Reagan was a hypocrite.

Reagan's policies did not, by chance, differ in substance from his rhetoric. They did so by design. The design, if we are to believe David Stockman and others, was both shrewd and calculating. It matters not whether the cunning was his work or the work of those to whom he delegated power.

All Americans should admire Reagan for his political skills. The Right should be grateful for the gains those skills have helped them achieve. The rest of us owe it to future generations not to bow down to a myth.

Posted by PAUL at 6/08/2004 07:24:00 PM

06 June 2004

Shame On The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe's modest coverage of Ronald Reagan's death includes a photo captioned: "Mr. Reagan cut in on Frank Sinatra as the singer danced with Nancy Reagan during a 1981 White House party." The editors of the Globe should be ashamed of themselves. The photo clearly intends to recall unsubstantiated rumors of an infidelity between Sinatra and Mrs. Reagan. The photo would be inappropriate if there were an admission of a relationship. Absent such an admission, the photo is cruel and hurtful to the memory of President Reagan, his wife Nancy, and his supporters.

Posted by PAUL at 6/06/2004 08:09:00 AM

04 June 2004

"Nothing Crazier Than a Crazed Ex-Freeper."

It appears that Doug Thompson, the guy who wrote the
piece on Bush's erratic behavior for Capitol Hill Blue, is a Freeper and the rest of the Freeper's are going ballistic. My favorite line from the thread: "Nothing crazier than a crazed ex-Freeper."

Thompson was excoriated by his fellow Freepers in February of 2003 when he left the reservation to attack Bush's war in Iraq in a column entitled, The Madman of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Thompson tried a little revisionist history to get back in favor, deleting his column from the archives of Capitol Hill Blue. Thankfully, to Thompson's and other Freeper's chagrin, the age of the Internet captured the column for eternity.

In telling fashion, moderators on Free Republic initially pulled the thread on Thompson's recent column three times before deciding to restore the link and posts.

Posted by PAUL at 6/04/2004 11:10:00 PM

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