Political Action Blogs
Here You Have It:
To the Left:To the Right:
(In the order I read them)
Special Focus - Iraq
Info Clearing House
Talking Points Memo
Best of the Blogs
The Pragmatic Progressive
Left-Side Blogger Indexes:
My own HUGE blog index
Junk Yard - Preston
Apparently so - according to Reuters. Sometimes is is quite entertaining to put oneself in the shoes of our political opponents and imagine what freaks them out. Is it Homeland Security, the possibility that the economy will NOT turn around just in time for the '04 election, or just WHAT is it that sends cold chills of fear down their spines.
Well, Senate majority leader Bill Frist lifted his skirt just enough to let us have a peak.
It is the frightening prospect of Gay Marriages which they see as the "threat to our nation's Western values" - but that is not PC-speak. So, instead, the HMO doc ran a different flag up the flagpole - concern that the 'privacy bubble' which the US Supreme Court validated indeed does exist inside the bedroom walls of two gay Texas men engaged in consensual sex, could ultimately bar authorities from interdicting other illegal activity, like prostitution, illegal gun sales [abortion, anyone??]- perhaps even terrorist conspiracies.
It is proper concern, but not even remotely connected to the US Supreme Court ruling - but even if he doesn't quite grasp that concept, the good Doctor nonetheless had the perfect remedy. Leave the Fourth Amendment intact, and instead organize a Constitutional Amendment banning gay unions.
What a non-sequitur!!
As though banning gay unions will maintain the ability of authorities to make reasonable searches.
If you see the nexus here, please let em know.
(March 25, 2003 -- 9:40 AM EST // link)
Cliffnotes: Morality of War - via Tacitus.
'I lost a scout this morning to sniper fire and my first sergeant was hit by a mortar round yesterday. That means I am taking it a little bit personally. How am I meant to protect my men when the generals are denying me the ability to bomb enemy positions?".Original source: news.telegraph.co.uk
I'm glad we aren't targeting civilians, but it seems like there is a fundamental problem. If the goal is to minimize U.S. and civilian casualties, is that fundamentally incompatible with waging war? If you assume that the enemy will not fight, then it will work. Now that it has become clear the Iraqis will fight, what do we do?That's it, folks - the Iraq War in a Nutshell. Neat, compact package. I can't add a thing.
Comment - except for one simple observation. Up until now, war has been war - and all wars are horrible.
We now must make the ethical distinction between a WAR - everything and anything goes within limits - and LIBERATION -
where, it now is obvious, a greater sacrifice is called for. If all wars are horrible,
what new word must we coin for the wars of liberation where
the to-be-liberated, civilians and privates alike, fight us with dirty tricks of a nature shocking even Donny Rumsfeld.
There you have it. Thirty minutes of reading. If you follow the instructions, you and your friends will change the White House and Congress in '04.
If you skip the reading, status quo will remain.
It's up to you.
What follows below gives me the creeps.
While stylistically, purists used to publishing journals in the traditional media, are apt to use style sheet conventions harking back to such 'hard copy' days, the retention of such publishing standards wreak havoc in a digital media where text is displayed on computer monitors. The combination of italics, especially, and a fixed small font, can be a real challenge to read. Combine this, then, with a choice of font colors and background which do not offer optimum contrast, and the piece becomes unbearable to read.
Giving the User control over the size of the text appearing in the main blog is probably the feature taken away mostly by bloggers using Blogger. And it is the feature most desired by blog readers with lousy eyesight or monitors. The reason this happens - often inadvertently: the blog body font size is fixed in most of the Blogger templates I have looked at.Hi, today is
And yet the solution is so simple - remove the pre-set [unalterable] font-size parameter from the limited style sheet controls included in the template(s) - and voila - you've got user-defineable text. Even better, make all font sizes relative , and you have empowered the user to the max.
Try it out here - go to your browser, and try this site out using different View settings. You will notice that the main blog section text increases or decreases in size, depending on your wishes - except the grey background box immediately above which has been 'typeset' in fixed 7 point type.
Website accessibility is one of my main interests. Website accessibility deals with issues as adverse as color contrasts (to permit visually impaired persons an easier read, using the 'alt' attribute on clickable graphics (critical for a blind person who uses text-to-voice conversion software to help him/her navigate a website), down to trite subjects like use (or rather, non-use) of italicized text (often very hard to read), and finally, user-defineable text size.Hi, today is
I am an old geezer, with weakening eyesight, and although I use 19' and 21' monitors, some of the fixed font-size blogs are hard to read, and the combination italics with 8 point type is practically impossibe to read.
One of my ambitions is to make this website a kind'a showpiece for what can be done, with the basic Blogger software, and the customizable templates Blogger permits you to use, to make a blog 'user friendly' - while still retaining some originality in terms of the 'look and feel'.
For starters, take a look at the one-page tutorial which speaks to a so-called web-based manual of style, differing from traditional 'hard copy' publication manuals primarily insofar as it discourages extensive use of underlining and italiziced text. It is a worthwhile read.
For some background on the use of styles, there are essentially three kinds of bloggers - oldtimers like Andy Rooney who still uses a manual typewriter - and hence is very fond of underlining text (since that is the only way you can differentiate text on a typewriter - other than ALLCAPS WHICH LOOKS TERRIBLE)
The next class are those professionally trained in 'hard copy' journals or articles, where quoted text is often italicized. While their retention of the perfectly proper use of italicized text is laudable, in a browser environment the result is less than perfect, primarily as a result of monitors' layout of pixels which favor straight lines, rather than cursive or tilted characters which often take on a jagged look in cursive mode.
Lastly, there are folks who shun conventional publishing wisdom or norms and find graphically pleasing ways to set off text from 'normal'.
More on this in the tutorial referenced above.
I will continue to post [identical] content on both of these sites, while I find out which suits me better, Blogger, or my own free-form site.
Thanks for looking in.
If you want a quick look at what's 'appening in the Blogosphere, go check them out.
Apparently, US military planners have given up all thought of attempting to board the ships, for fear that the crews are under orders to scuttle the ships, resulting in possible 'unimaginable' ecological disaster.
This needs more looking into. Give Hans Blix a life preserver and dock shoes and send him out on the high seas.
UPDATE. Apparently the US Navy is boarding ships. Only problem is: these are ships plying the waters within the Persian Gulf where the US is busy enforcing the embargo. The real smoking-gun-carrying vessels, are cutting large, lazy circles in the vast Indian Ocean.
Korea Can't Wait - thus intones the headline of a must-read article by Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush.
Of equal importance, Sam Nunn weighs in with his own advice.
The price of retaining global alliances certainly is on the rise. Turkey is holding out for $32 billion to rent a few airstrips to the US. But there is more to the story. Apparently, Turkey has its own, very unilateral agenda if and when it is permitted to send its troops into Iraq, outside of the coordination with any US troops.
UPDATE - apparently, the insouciance of the Turks [imagine, turning down an offer of $26 billion, for doing nothing] is causing all kinds of logistical problems for the war effort. Troops and war assets intended for deployment on Turkey's three air bases and en route to Turkey now apparently have become 'lost at sea', and must be shipped via the Suez canal to bases in Kuwait.
Speed-dial Diplomacy - is it losing the war?? Two opinions that should matter, by the Washington Post and the New York Times's own Tom Friedman, an exquisite analysis which deserves to be read, regardless of the reader's political leaning.
Powell Scolds France - but is he losing political clout abroad?? Find out here.
"It cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because some nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community," Powell said in comments that followed weeks of increasingly irate exchanges across the Atlantic.
The problem lies in the fact that these same nations Powell is accusing of cowardice, are, themselves, part of the 'International Community' - and one of them, in particular, has veto powers in the Security Council.
There are times when one can accomplish one's objectives by attaining a simple majority - that environment is called a 'Democracy'
There are other forums where unanimity is required. The UN Security Council voted 1 5-0 on Resolution 1441.
What has changed - have Germany and France suddenly done 180's??
Or have the US policies, increasingly dictated to the rest of the world from the bully-pulpit, and one-hurried-phone-call-is-all-we-can-manage-in-the-interest-of-diplomacy attitude made them dig their heels in??
US considers use of tactical nuclear weapons - always refreshing news.
Using Chemical Weapons on Our Own Troops? - yes, if you believe this.
Protests don't sway policy. Judge for yourself.
"Democracy is a beautiful thing, and that people are allowed to express their opinion" but "it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security, in this case security of the people," the president added.
But then this??
President Bush often brags about how in his administration, "we don't take a bunch of polls and focus groups to tell us what we ought to do." So it came as something of a surprise to learn that before advising Americans to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to survive terrorist attacks, the administration ran the ideas by . . . a focus group.Will Iraq Pay for its Own Reconstruction?? Says who? We do.
Trying to Figure out France Got You Stumped?? - here are some answers by the Agonist which put everything into proper perspective. If the small print of the linked article drives you crazy, we have archived it here.
And another thing - what's the story with the sweetheart deal concerning Poland's purchase of F-16 fighter jets?? Enough to stir up Chirac's gall?
Maturity of Military Planners - speaks for itself.
Your Tax Dollars at Work - how the Cheney inquiry was squashed by threat to cut funding of the GAO.
We, ourselves, commented on this subject in the context of participants in the New York City anti-war protest march being potentially in danger of losing their US citizenships.
It Ain't What It Used to Be - Redefining Citizenship. Read what H.R. 190 is all about.
A Martian in search of intelligent life within the solar system lands in New York City, on February 15, and sets down on the corner of 1st Avenue and 49th street, just as the anti-war protest demonstration gets underway.
"What's the hubbub all about," he asks. "I first thought it was a street fair, but I see no food booths, only hand-made signs."
"It is actually an anti-war protest rally," one of the UFP organizers tells the Martian. "Our country is about to go to war, and we disagree with our Government's decision."
"So you are demonstrating in front of your government offices, I take it," the Martian asks.
"Well, not really, we are showing our disapproval to the people living in that tall building down there, see the tall green building about five blocks South of here? It is occupied by delegations of all 133 nations inhabiting this Earth."
"Wow, that is a lot of countries. On Mars, we only have two nations, the Greens, and the Reds."
"Yeah, I see the tall building down there - but why aren't you demonstrating in front of the building?"
"Well, you see, the Imperial Wizard of this City is afraid that our enemy will take advantage of our rally and sneak people into our midst who could then throw grenades at the international delegations."
"Hmm, I see. So who are you going to fight a war against," the Martian asks, "one of your neighboring countries because you need the territory for your growing population? A country who would find it easy to sneak its agents across the border to infiltrate the protest march?"
"Oh no," the organizer explains, "we are going to war against a country clear on the other side of the planet."
"Why would you do that?"
"Well, they are supposed to have some terrible weapons, so-called fusion bombs, and rockets that can deliver bombs 150 kilometers. You familiar with the term 'kilometers'?""
"Oh yeah, we use the Metric system on Mars. But 150 kilometers don't seem like much. How does this far-away country... how do you refer to it?"
"Let us call it the 'I' country"
"So this 'I' country has short-distance rockets. How do the neighbors of 'I' country feel about their security?"
"Oh, they do not feel threatened."
"So they are allies of 'I' country?"
"Not really, they want to remain uncommitted. But they are allowing us to use their territory so that we can land our flying aircraft close to the 'I' country."
"That is very generous of them."
"Oh, I don't know - our country pays them a whole lot of money for the privilege."
"They are pretty cagey, aren't they?"
"Sure, they are getting the best of all worlds."
"How about your own neighbors, do they feel threatened by the 'I' country?"
"Oh no, they are pretty calm about it - if anything, they feel threatened by another country, let us call it the 'NK' country."
"And why would that be?"
"Well, the 'NK' country has powerful fusion bombs and long-range rockets."
"But they are friendly towards you, I suppose?"
"Oh no, they have announced plans for a preemptive rocket delivered fusion bomb attack against our country."
"And your country, again, is ....?"
"We call ourselves the 'US' country."
"I see. So the 'US' country is threatened by the 'NK' country, but the 'US' country instead is planning war against the far-flung 'I' country; meanwhile, what are you doing about the 'NK' country?"
"Diplomacy is what we have to count on. They are too powerful an enemy to attack."
"Now, you mentioned before that the Imperial Wizard of your city was afraid of enemy infiltration into your rally. Is he talking about the 'I' country or the 'NK' country?"
"Sorry, this gets complicated. The people he is actually worried about, we refer to as the 'AQ' group - an international group who has hurt us before."
"So what is he doing about the 'AQ' people?"
"I am terribly sorry, but it gets even more complicated. You see, two years ago, the Emperor of our country declared war on the 'AQ' group."
"So your country is actively engaged in one war, against the 'AQ' group, and is now starting yet a second war, against the 'I' country, while doing nothing about the threats from the 'NK' country, have I got that right?"
"Not really, maybe this would make sense on Mars, but here on Earth, we have actually deemphasized the war with the 'AQ' group - we haven't really shot any of them in the past several months, and we are spending all our money building up towards the war against the 'I' country."
"But I take it, then, that you have essentially won the war against the 'AQ' group, so that you can deploy all your resources and personnel to the new threat from the the 'NK' country, sorry I misspoke - I meant to refer to the 'I' country."
"I wish I could tell you, but the 'AQ' group is still as strong as ever - their leader is in the news fully as much as our own Emperor."
"And yet the Imperial Wizard of your city is not worried about agents from the 'I' country infiltrating your march, but instead only agents from the 'AQ' group, a group you have stopped fighting, and nobody does anything about the threat about fusion bombs raining down on your country from the 'NK' country.
"Yeah, I am afraid to tell you, that just about explains our situation."
"I think I have seen enough. My government sent me on a mission to investigate if there were intelligent life on the other planets. In so far as planet Earth is concerned, that certainly does not seem to be the case. Goodbye, and good luck on your protest rally."
And off he took, headed for Venus.
It reads like a Seinfeld Episode - three intertwining plots about 'nothing'. Except this is deadly serious. But 'plots' they may well be.
We are talking about
It makes sense, for several reasons. With the programmed onslaught of the Liberation War and the timing of yet another Muslim religious week coalescing in the February 15 time frame, there is a statistical likelihood that if any renewed terrorism uprising should take place, that's when it will happen.
Secondly, now that the invocation of Osama bin Laden's name as the boogeyman clue to give a lift to the Boy Emperor's popularity ratings, appear to have petered out (Bush has not publicly uttered Osama's name since July 8, 2002), the Administration has found several suitable alternatives.
In order of effectiveness, opinion panels at the White House have given weight to the following list of mention-at-will boogeyman chill-words, as follows:
Recognizing that all boogeywords, like "Osama" lose potency over time, the White House is also developing the next group of chill-words, to be used in the March-April time frame.
Insiders tell us that Germany, France and Belgium figure prominently in the next list. Could this be a harbinger of future Administration intentions to bust up NATO and add those 'Old Europe' nations to the Axis of Evil??
NY City Mayor Throws Up the Gauntlet Against Anti-War Protestors
Here is a reference to what this controversy is all about.
While this battle between Freedom of Expression and New York City's 'Police Powers' has drawn the expected division between liberals and hawks, the right to march has been defended by Eugene Volokh, a political conservative blogger well known for his hawkish attitude.
As a constitutional scholar and law professor, however, he commendably defends the right of protestors to exercise their First Amendment privileges
Read what New York's own Jimmy Breslin has to say about Bloomberg's Attempted Squelching of Protest Marchers.
Patriot Act - II
For background information, read one of the online articles pointing to this new [infringement of personal freedoms] terror threat:
A scathing and insightful critique can be found here.
Another conservative intones with yet another 'let us not lose our heads' admonition.
So how do these three plots intertwine??
When somber-faced Ashcroft ratcheted the terror code from Yellow to Orange on Saturday (followed by the newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Defense, Governor Thomas Ridge), there was a moment while they exchanged places on the podium when the mike on off-camera Ashcroft remained ON, and he was heard musing that the
'safest place in America undoubtedly is in the middle of an anti-war rally'since it would be unlikely that Al Qaeda would set off bombs in the midst of a large gathering of 'Pro-Saddam" protestors.
The Attorney General of the United States is not known for having a sense of humor, but undoubtedly this unrehearsed comment was an expression of his bitterness about being unable to do much to kill these rallies, as opposed to giving American citizens genuine advice how to 'be vigilant.'
The most chilling of the proposed Patriot Act Amendments certainly deals with the mechanism for expatriation of citizens.
Under the proposed amendments, the "mere act of giving comfort to the enemy" would be deemed to be an assertive relinquishment of the sympathizer's United States citizenship. This is, what the law calls an overt act, inferred from the sympathizer's conduct.
We will restate the provision below:
Section 501, “Expatriation of Terrorists”: This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated “if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a ‘terrorist organization’.” But whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be “inferred from conduct.” Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a “terrorist organization” by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation.
The doomsday scenario therefore unfolds thusly:
But you know what??
In a country with a constitution based on a balance of power between the United States Supreme Court, Congress and the President, the weak link here is the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
What guarantees do we, the citizenry, have that a former drunk and drug addict, still suffering the after-effects therefrom in the speech-department, does not have some lingering, pent-up mental imbalance which could set him into acute paranoia and revengefulness. What if the president of the United States should happen to be a bilious control freak, with a misdirected sense of patriotism? If he ever stepped over the line, not a single person, not Congress, not even the unanimous US Supreme Court, could undo the damage done by a deranged commander-in-chief acting under the unprecedented powers of the Patriot Act.
We all better hope and pray that Bush's speech impediment is the only scar he carries from his drunken drifter days.
-- Paul Helgesen
Here is a Who's Who among the many distinguished or well-known political authors or bloggers I make it my practice to read every day (listed in alphabetical order).
If you wish to skip the bios which follow below, and proceed directly to the analysis portion, click here.
Thomas L. Friedman won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for commentary (his third Pulitzer for The New York Times). He became the paper's foreign-affairs columnist in 1995. Previously, he served as chief economic correspondent in the Washington bureau and before that he was the chief White House correspondent.
Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed Page and continues as Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Krugman received his B.A. from Yale University in 1974 and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He has taught at Yale, MIT and Stanford. At MIT he became the Ford International Professor of Economics.
Andrew Sullivan has been around.
James Taranto is editor of OpinionJournal.com and former deputy editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal. He joined the Journal in 1996 as an assistant editorial features editor after spending five years as an editor at City Journal, the Manhattan Institute's quarterly of urban public policy. He has also worked for the Heritage Foundation, United Press International, Reason magazine and KNX News Radio in Los Angeles. He attended California State University, Northridge.
I read these guys because I have the strong feeling that within their respective camps, they take on leadership positions of editorial dictum. Yet their demeanors couldn't be more different.
Hardly a day goes by without the OpinionJournal and Sully going postal over something published by the New York Times writers. Very much a one-way street. I don't recall Tom Friedman ever taking potshots at anything James Taranto wrote.
Given the difference between being a three-time Pulitzer winner and a hardworking Wall Street editor, still working on his College Degree, who has been anointed with a high-pulpit position within the WS Journal organization, I find it amazing that the latter invariably has to seek refuge on the moral high ground while the guy who copped the Pulitzer three times just can't even bother with a clever riposte.
It begs the question - if James Taranto or Sullivan are not worth the investment of even a minute a day by Messrs Friedman and Krugman, for them to write rebuttals to the continual onslaught they receive from the righteous right, should I make it worth my while to read these supinely elevated bloggers, particularly those whose only claim to fame lies not in their academic excellence or honors bestowed, but solely by the truculent tremor of their voice??
Much has been said about the interview of Saddam Hussein by Anthony Wedgewood Benn, who is Britain's counterpart to Connie Chung. Andrew Sullivan feels giddy enough about Colin Powell's strong presentation at the UN today, that he actually quotes a parody takeoff of the Benn interview:
SH: Let me tell you my friend - and through you the world - that Iraq has never possessed such weapons. And those we had, we never used. And even when we used them it was purely in self-defence. And then we destroyed them. Except for some warheads and bombs that got lost. And if President Bush knows where they are then he should come here personally, as you have, and find them. That would be helpful. But he will not, and the world knows why. Because he wants Iraq's oil.
What the media did not report, is that Saddam, waxing poetic, penned a sonnet for the Western bloggers to publish. Here it is:
How do I bleat thee? Let me count the ways
Brain surgeons they are not - I am talking about NASA.
By now, it is highly probable that the Columbia disaster was caused by the following chain of events:
Could the crew have been saved?? NASA says "NO". There was 'zero' NASA could do.
Follow me through this analysis of NASA's official explanation.
Columbia could not have traveled to the international space station because the orbiting platform was too far away. The shuttle was circling about 170 miles above the Earth, while the station was 240 miles high and in a different orbit. Columbia did not have enough propellant to bring it to the station, say NASA officials, only enough to push it into reentry.Given the fact that some $3 billion of NASA's annual expense goes to salaries, is it unreasonable for us non-rocket-scientists to expect that the NASA planners would think out a "Plan B" scenario before a second space shuttle disaster prompted this casual remark (and I paraphrase):
"you know, in hindsight it would have been right clever of us if we had put in a simple emergency contingency which might have saved the crew".
Yes, 16 days into the flight, perhaps the shuttle's resources would be so limited as to prevent an effective rescue plan.
But how about assessing the potential damage on DAY 1?? Looking at high-resolution http://gummibear.netfirms.com/weblog/Images, rendered in almost 100% scale, would have enabled the planners to observe the condition of individual tiles.
How about leaving a few science experiments out of the payload area and packing an emergency roadway kit??
Like enough fuel to make it to the International Space Station, and the docking apparatus to enable the crew to check in for a stay which, in theory, could last six months or longer.
After 9/11, there was a lot of recrimination and finger pointing whether someone in an official capacity could have predicted the WTC attacks.
This is a different scenario - the planners absolutely knew the risks, and had memo after memo outlining the potential and dangers associated with tile damage during blastoff.
All they'd have had to do, was freaking LOOK, together with packing the fuel and supplies for an emergency linkup with the ISS, and the world's population would today be larger by a count of seven, and we would have three fully functional space shuttles, plus a fourth one, docked 240 miles up, with a six month or longer window for determining its separate fate.
If you like spine-tingling thrillers and sophisticated political plots, read Jerry Bowles' blog today on this interesting question: Who audits the automatic vote-counting equipment and results from our national elections, and should such audits be open to the public? Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has an interest in the largest manufacturer of vote-tallying equipment, an issue the Senate Ethics committee probably will pussyfoot around like it is not one of the most obvious conflict of interest slamdunks to hit it since the 'Pizza-for-Congress' laugher.
-- Paul Helgesen
Speaking about the WSJ isn't it nice that opinionjournal's James Taranto lives in a glasshouse?? By maintaining an image-free website, the opinionjournal can pooh-pooh as "crass" other papers' graphic depiction of Space Shuttle debris. Even the Financial Times showed a piece of space debris on their front page this morning.
moreover , the opinionjournal has elected itself the Official Arbiter of the Nation's Mood. Under the heading America Sucks It Up James takes issue with the NY Times' sad, poetic sentiments of the Columbia disaster.
As James sees it, in these 'times of war' there is no room for maudlin sentimentality - as a matter of fact,
yesterday's disaster, while intensely sad, was not traumatic -- except of course for those whose loved ones died or who suffered some other direct loss.The rest of us, presumably, take James Taranto's lead and suck it in, while toughening our mental attitude to get used to the notion of bodybags. Meanwhile, James' colleague at the Wall Street Journal Online sees the sentiment differently. The old and the new Europe are apparently getting together again. The Financial Times reports that
UK and France to unveil defence initiative Britain and France hope to unveil ambitious defence plans for Europe when Tony Blair, UK prime minister, and Jacques Chirac, French president, hold their summit on Tuesday in the French coastal resort of Le Touquet.
-- Paul HelgesenHi, today is
Any post for the foreseeable future will be essentially just t-e-s-t-i-n-g the Blogger methodology.