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Monday, August 27, 2007

Alberto Gonzalez resigns: comments on horrible newspaper reporting.

Alberto Gonzalez, Attorney General and chief fox in charge of the henhouse, resigned today. A man firmly committed to prevarication, destruction of the bill of rights, and the general diminution of the stature of the United States.

Comments regarding newspaper reporting.

The Washington Post (online, 2007/08/27) has a picture with this caption:
"Gonzales's resignation marks loss of Bush loyalist at a time when president's support is lagging."
Gee, is that what is important? Washington Post article on the firing, the end of the fourth paragraph:
Although Bush consistently expressed confidence in Gonzales, arguing that his longtime Texas ally was being targeted by Democrats for political reasons, the attorney general's support in Congress had withered after a series of run-ins.
Gee, Bush's claim gets earlier print before some of the actual statements describing his actual behavior:
His testimony on issues such as a federal wiretap program required follow-up explanations and was contradicted by documents or the statements of other federal officials. At hearings on the U.S. attorney firings, Gonzales frequently said he could not remember details about key events -- frustrating members of Congress who felt he was trying to minimize his role in what they regarded as politically motivated dismissals. Some suggested that the nation's top law enforcement official had committed perjury.
Documents contradicted his testimony? Don't go out on a limb and actually declare that he lied. No. This is the problem with newspaper reporting. No reporting of facts. Bush's rebuttal (solely opinion, no facts there) gets earlier press than the facts. And the facts are reported as equivalent or even subjugate to opinions. Even in this paragraph, requiring follow-up explanations, gets earlier play than that he lied.

Newspapers are part of the problem, not part of the solution at this point in time. This inability to report straight facts caused many of the problems of the last 8 years. Probably it even contributed to us getting into the Iraq war. The claims of liberal bias in the news industry sure ring hollow deconstructing this online (2007/08/27) article from the Washington Post.

In contrast, the New York Post online (2007/08/27) (I couldn't load the Washington Times for some reason), had a relatively less loaded and more accurate article on the resignation:
August 27, 2007 -- Alberto Gonzales, the nation's first Hispanic attorney general, announced his resignation Monday -- ending a nasty, monthslong standoff over his honesty and competence at the helm of the Justice Department.

Republicans and Democrats alike had demanded his resignation over the botched handling of FBI terror investigations and the firings of U.S. attorneys, but President Bush had defiantly stood by his Texas friend until accepting his resignation Friday.

The NY Post uses words like `nasty', `botched', `defiantly'. Sure are loaded, but seem loaded in a more accurate description of the situation.

The NY Times online (2007/08/27) had this opening phrase:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by accusations of perjury before Congress
Poor Alberto, his tenure was marred. Hope the people doing that marring did not use indelible ink. The NY Times, only in the 6th-7th paragraphs reports

Mr. Bush repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had stonewalled or misled a congressional inquiry. “We’re watching a political exercise,” Mr. Bush said. “I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong.”

More text and higher placement presenting Mr. Bush's defense. No hint that `increased scrutiny' and `whether he testified truthfully' might be for cause. But `We're watching a political exercise.' presented clearly in plain text to denigrate any negative reaction to Gonzalez's behavior.

Liberal press? I think not.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

public health, war and the bill of rights

Nice comment from Rick Ayers over at the HuffPo. Makes the point that the military trains people (recruits) to kill people (the bad guys).

Public Health policy would say make love not war. Heal thy neighbor, don't kill her or him. Public Health and War are usually not good bedfellows. WWII may be an exception, but it isn't an easy decision to attempt to tally up the dead and wounded and decide whether there will be more pain and death on this course of action versus another course of action.

Regrettably, the current administration is not concerned about public health. Generally their policies support large corporations making money, their friends raking in money, and regular people (read poor, and middle class) do not need health care. Health care is a privilege, not a right. Unfortunately, we need to put that into the bill of rights.

The right to health care needs to be enshrined in the constitution.

A proposed amendment to the constitution:

Section 1. The federal government shall provide for the health and health care of all persons within its borders, for citizens outside of its borders and for members of the armed forces of the United States of America. Health care shall be equally available to all regardless of age, gender, wealth, race or any other characteristic distinguishing human beings.

Section 2. The federal government shall be authorized to institute laws to enforce and enable said health care. A health care administration will be brought into being to allocate funds to the health care of all.

Section 3. Health care is construed to be what is affordable and available; this amendment shall not be construed to mean the impossible.

What do you think?

Monday, February 19, 2007

House Resolutions and Demagoguery

Listening briefly to CNN panel discussion on the house vote on disapproval of the increase in troops in Iraq. Discussion was tolerable, but the interesting part was the Washington Times correspondent, mouthing the conservative party line that the democrats were 'micromanaging' the war effort. She was very clear, and repetitive, and gave absolutely no evidence for her statement. defines micromanage as " To direct or control in a detailed, often meddlesome manner." I'm sure Republicans in power consider this meddlesome, but I don't see the detail necessary to rise to the level of micromanaging.

The second sentence of the text of House concurrent resolution #63 (if I read the bill source correctly)
"Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq ."

This is not micromanagement. Calling it micromanagement is demagoguery.

Interestingly, when looking up definitions of demagogue, ads for Ann Coulter's columns come up a lot. Coincidence?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Shaving is blood sport. The Romans had it all wrong. They should have set those gladiators up with a bowl of cold water and a dull razor and had them shave. If more than 1 gladiator survived, then the one with the least blood lost win.

logging in is impossible

Every time I am away from this for a few days, I find it impossible to log in. Eventually I manage to get to a screen that gives me an email to reset my password. But boy is this painful to get there.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Teach or be Taught

If we stop learning, we're dead.

Among the best ways to learn something is to teach it.

Those who can, do, those who can't teach. George Bernard Shaw.
One of the more stupider things ever said in life.

Teaching is a noble calling, up there with call waiting and the call of the wild.

Teaching is a noble calling. Tell Lord Gloucester that I'll be with him in a second.

Idle thoughts on teaching

With apologies to Samuel Johnson:

Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to teach in a few hours, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Idle thoughts on language and ripping

If the verb rip now means to burning your songs to CD, then is ripping him a new one now a nice (if possibly still illegal) thing to do to your friend?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Hate on the basis of race CREED color or sex

It occurs to me in this new year that hate is still with us. There is discrimination, wide spread in the United States. Hatred and fear of people because of their different color or looks is rampant. Sex discrimination is common, even as we try so hard to eliminate it.

Religious discrimination seems to cut many ways. Some religions see the absence of promotion of their own religion or the absence of allowance to put up their specific shrines in public places as discrimination. To my mind, as an atheist, religious neutrality needs to be maintained by the state. These impositions of other peoples religions on everyone, or an assumption that everyone is happy with these impositions is incorrect.

The worst and most apparent hatred in current society seems to be reserved for neither race, religion, or gender. The worst hatreds in current society are based on political preference. As a liberal, it seems to me that Republicans have made it a major focus of their advertising to cast aspersions on liberalism and liberals.

Listen to Anne Coulter spew hatred. She has called for the death of Supreme Court Justice Stevens. "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media." Some joke. Parts of the titles of two of her books: Treason: Liberal Treachery and Godless: The Church of Liberalism. Clear smear and lies. As if religious people couldn't be liberal? This stuff hardly deserves a response. But Coulter is all over the news. News organizations support this sort of hate?

It is permissible in some Republican circles to explain that members of the opposite party are treasonous. The Bush administration has specialized in describing any one who disagrees with them (democrat or not) as traitors and supporters of terrorism. Any disagreement gets you a 'soft on terrorism', 'soft on crime', 'wimp' label.

The crime here is in the rampant lying, hate and distortion. Hatred and incitement to hatred of someone because of their politics should be just as immoral as hatred or discrimination because of race, gender, or religion.

It's one thing to say that wanting to reduce troop levels in Iraq would cause events X, Y and Z. It's another to respond with attacks on the person doing the proposing.

I guess then, calling the president stupid probably shouldn't be done. Rather, one must explain why the president's policies lead to poor outcomes. Huge budget deficits, massive deaths in Iraq from fighting (is this even a war?) How framing the Iraq situation as a war that can be won or lost is an incorrect dichotomy. Military triumph where our superior firepower caused the ending of hostilities would not be a triumph. But that is the definition of winning the war. Quote winning unquote would lead to an economic bleeding of the US money until we left. Then the fighting in Iraq would resume. And it would be up to who to stop that?