Friday, November 17, 2006

Much ado about……what?

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It never ceases to amaze me how the MSM will lunge into the tiniest of crevices to try to show the Democrats as hopelessly divided, inept, corrupt, and unethical, while they seem not to even notice the other side of the aisle as it slips into any number of Dante's inner circles. Even the New York Times trips over their own hyperbole on this one. One exception, Keith Olbermann, has it right:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Evolution in reverse

A report in the October 2006 issue of Journal of Marketing provides evidence that human beings are no longer are capable of making rational food choices.

The study authors report that simply by labeling a food “unhealthy,” consumers will rate it more highly in taste tests than the identical item if it’s labeled “healthy.” It seems that for most people, a total disconnect has developed between food and the purpose it serves. What a perplexing notion, in the face of our superior intellectual acuity.

Most notably:
“The authors obtain these effects both among consumers who report that they believe that healthiness and tastiness are negatively correlated and, to a lesser degree, among those who do not report such a belief.”
This could not be an instinctive failing, but must arise from what we are taught, and it suggests that perhaps the worst thing our parents can do during our upbringing, nutritionally speaking, is to encourage us to eat any particular foodstuff that we’re resisting, on the grounds that it’s good for us…

My party and welcome to it!

The New York Times has a wonderful interactive graphic that allows the viewer to see the quantitative shift that has taken place in any given Congressional district, by moving the cursor over the district’s geographical location, as was done below for Kentucky’s 6th District:

(modified from the original)

Of note is that more than 81% of all directional shifts among all districts moved toward the Democratic side of the divide…

Restore veterans’ benefits NOW

On this Veteran’s Day, I suggest that instead of displaying stupid yellow car magnets and other modes of make-believe support of our troops, that we as Americans, and the Democrats we’ve just elected to office, instead do something that’s actually meaningful: give something back to those who have survived our mideast follies. Provide meaningful educational support, and decent medical care, and a leg up with home purchasing. In short, pay them what they’re owed, while also rebuilding the ranks of the middle class.

It is unforgivable that those made most vulnerable through our misguided foreign adventures return to so little, when compared to veterans of other wars, and that so many end up flailing both economically and emotionally, a clear demonstration that for all the lip service we give to “supporting the troops,” we really just don’t give a damn.

If we believe that we can no longer “afford” to provide such benefits, we should understand that we can no longer “afford” to have a military, and we should also make every living recipient of such “largesse” of yore pay us back, with interest, for the benefits that were provided to them. Because make no mistake: many of those past GI Bill recipients are the very same folks as those who are responsible for gutting the benefits for today’s veterans. And if our veterans of today are undeserving, then so are our veterans of yesterday.

The GI Bill benefits had a huge role in the creation of America’s middle class, and the simultaneous demise of both is more than mere coincidence. Restoring meaningful benefits to all veterans should be high on the Democratic agenda, because our veterans need help, and because it’s the right thing to do. Give something back.

“Bright, sunny day” in “Purple America”

For a graphic view of the sea change that occurred in this week’s Congressional elections, here is a collage of three of Robert Vanderhei’s “Purple America” maps:

Although his choice of red, purple, blue match our notion of “red state” v. “blue state,” with a message of coming-together-purple, here is a simple Photoshop inversion that shifts to a blue-yellow dichotomy and provides a clearer view of the change we have just witnessed:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rumsfeld and his war crimes

Finally, some of the principals will be called to account for directing the tortures that have been done in our name:

“New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany’s top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers…

“Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.”


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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Are we there yet?

Is this “civil war” yet?

It appears we’re well into the region of “chaos” and since it’s at the extreme polar opposite of “peace” I can only conclude that “chaos” = “civil war.”

Now what?

It does seem that the graphic chaos presented on the Powerpoint slide itself is probably a reflection of our ability to extricate ourselves from this debacle:

The concluding sentence is nearly lost in the font-ridden mess, but it deserves some attention:
“Urban areas experiencing ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaigns to consolidate control…violence at all-time high, spreading geographically.”
Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld blathers on (Oct. 1, 2006):
“ ‘You can look at the things that are on the plus side. You can look at the things that are on the minus side,’ [Rumsfeld] said.

“But he indicated that, while ‘one robin does not a spring make,’ he was able to draw some encouragement from recent developments in Baghdad. ‘I guess it’s probably close to a month of effort now with the increased forces, that progress is being made and that the numbers of killings are down and the number of assassinations are down and the violence is down,’ he said.”
The reality:

“Rumsfeld minimized the importance of recent polls showing a majority of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq, and cited the volatility of polling data. “What’s important is what’s right. What’s important is what makes sense,’ the secretary said. ‘And over time, the American people find their way to right decisions.’ ”
Hopefully we’ll see some of those “right decisions” being made this Tuesday…

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What’s wrong with this picture?

From today’s Washington Post:
“The [U.S.] government…asserts that the detainees’ [interrogation] experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public.”
and yet:
“The government argues that once rules are set for the new military commissions, the high-value detainees will have military lawyers and ‘unprecedented’ rights to challenge charges against them in that venue.”
Do they have no sense of the absurdity? If they are truly arguing that national security needs make impossible any disclosure of the treatment detainees have received at our hands, they are also saying that the detainees can never be released from custody. Therefore, no purpose is to be had in going forth with any sort of court proceeding, “military commission” or otherwise, because clearly the outcome has already been ordained. Clearly, the detainees will be held until they’re dead, because otherwise, who knows what “state secrets” they might divulge?

I also find it interesting that the government functionaries tasked with spouting these absurdities are usually females, apparently because the press tends to be gentler with them. Do Kathleen Blomquist, the “Justice Department spokeswoman,” and Marilyn A. Dorn, a “CIA Information Review Officer” honestly believe the talking points they are spewing forth? That our “interrogation techniques” are so precious that they must be protected at any cost, including the prevention of any meaningful legal defense being provided to our prisoners?

We are watching as our legal system descends into territory normally held by such paragons of liberty and due process as Muammar al-Gaddafi and it is hideous to behold.