«  July 2005  |   Main   |  September 2005  »

»  August 31, 2005


The City That Care Bush Forgot:

President Bush looks out the window of Air Force One inspecting damage from Hurricane Katrina while flying over New Orleans en route back to the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Even if you don't think George W. Bush deserves blame for cutting federal funds allocated to reinforce and repair levees that may or may not have prevented the inundation of New Orleans, how does his response pre- and post-disaster measure up?

What if, for instance, there had been no storm but instead rumors of a terrorist plot to blow holes into New Orleans levees had reached the ears of federal officials last weekend? Would the terror alert level have been elevated? Is that all the administration would have done? Would Bush have hunkered down on his ranch, gone back to Washington, or continued his campaign against Social Security? Would that have been an appropriate response to the imminent devastation of a city of one-and-a-half million people, the possible deaths of hundreds or thousands of people, and the economic nightmare to follow? The greater New Orleans area had a civilian work force of over 600,000; anything that was a threat to the livelihoods of that many people should have been of some concern.

Then, in the face of an actual disaster, he wasn't exactly quick to leap into action. He's spent two days trying to tie his Iraq war onto the coattails of World War II and to foist off his dead dog of a Social Security plan, when the destruction of New Orleans, Biloxi, and much of the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana coastal regions is going to be exceeded on his watch as an economic catastrophe only by the Iraq war.

If anyone's wondering what to expect when terrorists strike the US again, your answer's in the photos above and below.

President Bush pauses after having a look from the window of Air Force One of the damage to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. AP Photo/Susan Walsh


What the...?  

Memory of New Orleans:

We haven't had the opportunity to do nearly as much traveling as we'd have liked to over the years, so I try to make the most of it when I have to go somewhere for a conference and combine it with some tourism. One of the places that was on Barbara's list for a long while was New Orleans.

Neither of us had ever been to the South (apart from a fly-though of the Atlanta airport and a 16-hour speaking stopover I made in Huntsville a few years back). I'd been promising a family member in Tallahassee a visit for years. Plans kept falling through, though, until Macromedia scheduled its yearly conference in New Orleans for just after Halloween last year.

Finally, things started to fall into place. I planned flights into Tallahassee, a convertible rental to New Orleans, and — in our typical fashion — looked for a condo or other accommodations where we could cook meals.

I found a nice, inexpensive apartment near the French Quarter, but the rental agency had trouble getting hold of the owners. I let that situation go on for a little longer than I should have, but eventually gave up and booked a more hotel-like room with kitchenette.

Then, in September, Hurricane Ivan formed and headed for the Gulf Coast. Concerns that the levees would be breached by the storm surge if Ivan hit New Orleans directly were voiced by New Orleans emergency manager Walter Maestri, who was said by The Washington Post to have 10,000 body bags ready in case a major hurricane ever hits New Orleans. Ivan's eye veered east of the city, doing its worst in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi instead. The hotel I'd picked was under renovation at the time, however, and the booking agency sent me a message in early October that emergency work in the areas affected by the story was affecting non-essential construction work, so the hotel wouldn't reopen until after the conference. So I took what I could find at the last minute, which ended up being a room in a renovated coffee warehouse on Tchoupitoulas with windows onto the hallway.

That said, the trip was remarkable. After spending time with my cousin and her family, we drove along the Florida Panhandle coast into increasing signs of Ivan's work. When we hit the overpasses of I110 in Pensacola, we could see blue tarps on the roof of nearly every house. The medians of the streets had debris, appliances, and garbage piled high as people cleaned out their water-damaged houses.

That was behind us by the time we got to New Orleans, which had survived another close call. And despite late October temperatures near 90 degrees that even New Orleaneans were complaining about, we had a fantastic time. We sat and watched the river traffic, we spent hours exploring Metarie Cemetery and riding the trolleys, walking through the French Quarter, and people-watching.

On Saturday, the night before Halloween, we wandered through the Quarter and ended up at a bar called The Abbey, where we offered space at our booth to a couple as the place — fairly small — began to fill up. It being the French Quarter and the day before Halloween, she was dressed as a nurse and he was dressed as Harry Potter. We got to talking, then Andrew and Monique invited us home for dinner the next afternoon, before they took their daughter to the zoo. Andrew had forty pounds of shrimp for a broil and fry, he did up some onion rings, it was fantastic. That gesture and meal will be my memory of the city and people of New Orleans.


»  August 30, 2005


Hard Work: George McGovern, from his 1972 presidential campaign commercial "Change":

McGOVERN: He's continuing the bombing not to get our men out of prison but to keep General Thieu in power. And that's a price I'm not willing to pay. Let me just add one thing. One of the great problems that we've had in the leadership of this country is that we have had too many people that were unwilling to change their mind when they got new evidence. They, they were afraid they'd lose face and so they wouldn't change. Now, I think we need a president who isn't afraid to say, "I'm gonna change my mind. I made a mistake." And sometimes you ought to be able to say to the people, "This is not going to be popular, but this is what we're gonna have to do to save our country."

You have to make those hard decisions.



More Hurricane Hilarity at NRO: Rich Lowry at NRO's "The Corner" defends Jonah Goldberg's stupid remarks about the people riding out Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome:

SUPERDOME [Rich Lowry] Personally, I thought the Jonah Superdome riff was funny and clearly was poking fun at the media frenzy around Katrina at a time when it seemed especially over-blown.
"Over-blown." Pretty funny. Of course, it's always funny when hurricanes blow ashore. What could possibly happen?


»  August 26, 2005


Matt Yglesias Plays With Dominos: Matt Yglesias (mentioned in another fantastic post by Digby) claims that Vietnam proved that the "domino theory" was correct. Perhaps he ought to get out his history books and brush up.

He hinges his post on the statement that "Pro-Soviet regimes took over not only South Vietnam, but Laos, Cambodia, and Burma."

Laos and Cambodia were both destabilized as a result of the lengthy Vietnam War.

Both American and Vietnamese forces entered landlocked Laos. It was ripe for picking off by the Chinese or the Vietnamese by the time the war in Vietnam ended. The Vietnamese nationalists had sponsored the Pathet Lao against the French colonial occupation since the 1950s.

Cambodia was so brutalized by its fate in the war that its monarchy fell to the Khmer Rouge, who were Chinese-influenced. The Vietnamese were able to extend their influence into that country by invading and installing their own regime.

Even after the devastation of forty years of war, Vietnam's population was several times larger than Cambodia or Laos combined, something that made it easier for them to dominate the other countries.

Myanmar/Burma was ruled from 1962 by a military dictator. He didn't leave power until 1988. Myanmar is still under military rule.

So what are we left with for the Southeast Asian domino theory? Two countries with small populations that neighbored Vietnam, were directly involved in the conflict, and whose governments were in disarray because of their involvement with the war, were invaded by their more populous neighbor. The third country in the example was ruled by the same person for 13 years before and 13 years after the fall of Saigon, and his former subordinates still run the country.

When you base a theory on faulty information, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. Or perhaps dominos.



Trent Lott on Bill Frist: In Sen Trent Lott's (R-MS) followup to his memoir Herding Cats: A Life in Politics, he discusses in detail his relationship with Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the man he mentored, who then took his position as Senate Majority Leader.


»  August 22, 2005


Yeeeah, Baby!: The International Game Developers Association announced something that should knock those of you one the fence about joining one way or the other in their latest email newsletter: the Sex SIG!

The Sex SIG will serve as a source for related industry news and will provide an online discussion forum and mailing list to promote developer interaction. The group is also working on several initiatives to fortify adult content representation, including conference lectures and white papers outlining responsible development practices and how to promote appropriate access to content.


What the...?  

Moog Music:

ARP 2600 synthesizer

A generation ago at Lane Community College, I took a class in electronic music during what the end of the pre-digital ega. Not being a particularly gifted musician and even less talented as a composer, I didn't contribute much to the world of synthrock. Like many others, however, I was intrigued by the sounds of synthesizers. My only contribution? A John Carpenter-inspired theme for the soundtrack of my parody script Escape from Eugene (in which Eugene, Oregon had been converted into an asylum by surrounding it with a forty foot rubber wall).

LCC provided us with an ARP 2600 -- a thing of patch cables and knobs that could emit some unearthly squeals -- but I remember that I wanted to be working on one of the real machines. One of the machines named for the man who was literally synonomous with the word synthesizer: Bob Moog.

Rest in peace, Mr. Moog.


»  August 18, 2005


Dr. K Injects Himself Into the Debate: Via First Draft, an article on IrelandOnline has Henry Kissinger expressing concern about the division of public opinion over the Iraq War, comparing it to Vietnam. If anyone's qualified to make Vietnam War analogies, I guess you'd have to put Kissinger right up there.

What drew my attention was this quote:

If a radical government emerges in Baghdad or if any part of Iraq becomes what Afghanistan used to be, a training ground for terrorists, then this will be a catastrophe for the Islamic world and for Europe... reluctant as they may be to admit it, and eventually for us.
I'm trying to figure out what "reluctant ... to admit it" means. I thought Europe and the Islamic world were concerned before the war started that it would be a catastrophe. Isn't that why they were against it?


»  August 17, 2005


Doomed to Failure: For those of us with one foot (or maybe just a toe) in the gaming world, there's an interesting Morning Edition story today about John Romero and Daikatana, the game he did after Doom and id software. More evidence, though, of the jittery broadcasting climate: they bleeped the word "bitch" from one of the game's marketing slogans on the broadcast I heard.


»  August 16, 2005


Closing Up the Patient: My Iraq analogy for the day:

If you went to a doctor and he told you you needed surgery but the rest of the doctors in the hospital said they thought maybe they should run some more tests, then your doctor botched the surgery and told you later that maybe you didn't need the procedure after all, would trust him to handle the fix to the problem? Or even to define what the problem was?

People who think that now that the US has messed up Iraq (and who don't have some other reason for thinking the US should maintain a presence there) that we have to "fix" what we broke for the poor Iraqis are deluding themselves.

Congress is in Republican control for at least another seventeen months. It'll be three-and-a-half years before a Democrat could potentially move into the White House. Staying in Iraq means the same people who started the war there and who have mishandled the occupation for two-plus years will be in charge of

  • deciding what strategies to employ against the insurgency,
  • controlling reconstruction of water, sanitation, and power,
  • overseeing military supply contracts,
  • guiding the Iraqi government,
  • deciding what in Iraq is and isn't a threat to US security,
  • and maintaining the safety of the Iraqi people
just as they have been since March 2003. I suppose, if you think they've been doing a good job, you might be inclined to let them keep practicing. But apparently, people like Joe Biden and his ilk think that another seventeen months (at a minimum) of Bush in charge is a small price for the Iraqis and the military to pay in order for them to look strong.


»  August 15, 2005


The Poetry Menace: From the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader:

WUKY cancels radio program over offensive content

By Jamie Gumbrecht

A few weeks after The Boston Globe called The Writer’s Almanac radio program "a confection of poetry and history wrapped in the down comforter voice of producer and host Garrison Keillor," WUKY-91.3 FM canceled the daily featurette for offensive content.

* * *

Reaction to the cancellation has been minimal so far, Godell said. WUKY managers decided to stop carrying the Almanac after a recent spate of language advisories, although they were tracking the content for about a year, Godell said.

The warnings, issued by the program’s production company, came about Curse of the Cat Woman by Edward Field, which contained violent themes and the word "breast"; Thinking About the Past by Donald Justice, which also used the word "breast"; and Reunion by Amber Coverdale, which contained the phrase "get high." The poems were scheduled for broadcast between July 23 and Aug. 12.

* * *

Keillor, who will perform Feb. 21 at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, said in an e-mail that stations are within their rights to cancel the Almanac but he’s proud of the poems he reads. "There isn’t one of them I would hesitate to offer to any high school English class," Keillor wrote. "The fact that someone is troubled by hearing the word 'breast' is interesting, but what are we supposed to do with A Visit From St. Nicholas and the 'breast of the new fallen snow'? Should it become a shoulder or an elbow? I don’t think so."

I always knew there was something suspicious about poetry.



Could Joe Biden Answer Cindy Sheehan's Question?: The war in Iraq was predicated on protecting the US from attack by nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction. The mission statement on Cindy Sheehan's Meet with Cindy site states (emphasis added):

Our mission is to persuade President Bush to meet with Cindy Sheehan and answer her questions about why the war that took her son's life was started and why it is being continued.
I'm all for Ms. Sheehan's getting up in the nose of George W. Bush. I don't think he could answer her questions even if he deigned to meet with her.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Democrats--even some who can string more than three words together without resorting to that whipped-dog whine W affects when he's having trouble remembering how to end a sentence--who couldn't do that, either. This exchange is from Meet the Press yesterday, with guest host Andrea Mitchell talking to Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE):

MS. MITCHELL: Let me show you a recent poll of how the American people now view the situation in Iraq. The CNN-Gallup Poll says that only 34 percent now feel that it has made us safer. Fifty-seven percent feels it's made us less safer. The president in his radio speech yesterday said that we're fighting this war in Iraq as part of a global war on terror and we're fighting there so we don't have to fight them at home. Is the homeland safer because of the war in Iraq?

SEN. BIDEN: We're all better off Saddam is gone, but I--this is an example once again where the American people are brighter than their leaders, they're smarter than their leaders. They understand fully that what's happened is it has become a training ground. There's actually some evidence when I was there back in--Memorial Day that not only are these jihadists coming in and fighting and getting trained on the job, that they're also after being trained being exported to Europe and other parts of the world. So the fact of the matter is we have not become safer from terrorists as a consequence of this, but the irony is unless we now finish the job, we will be considerably less safe than we were before and that's why we must stay in order to try to put a government in place that has the capacity to, in fact, secure its own country.

Biden doesn't explain how "the homeland is safer because of the war in Iraq," a war that he supported. He doesn't explain how "We're all better off Saddam is gone," which just seems ludicrous given that we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars just to destabilize a broken-down Third World country. He evades the question and moves on to his "finish the job" speech.

I don't think Biden should be doing Bush's job for him explaining why the war was started--I don't really think he can. But so long as he and others in the Democratic leadership continue to say anything but an unequivocal "No" to the question Mitchell posed, they've got the same looming credibility problem on the war that Bush has. And that's not going to get any better by the 2006 elections.


»  August 14, 2005


My Vote Is Cast: The 2008 race is over, so far as I'm concerned.



Bush Must "Go On With Life": Hey, it's not my opinion, it's what actually came out of his mouth.

In a Cox News Service story by Ken Herman that I couldn't find anywhere but the Waco Tribune-Herald, W is quoted defending his decision not to meet with Cindy Sheehan:

Bush defends ignoring protest

By Ken Herman Cox News Service
Sunday, August 14, 2005

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush, noting that lots of people want to talk to the president and "it's also important for me to go on with my life," on Saturday defended his decision not to meet with the grieving mom of a soldier killed in Iraq.

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

The comments came prior to a bike ride on the ranch with journalists and aides. It also came as the crowd of protesters grew in support of Sheehan, the California mother who came here Aug. 6 demanding to talk to Bush about the death of her son Casey. Sheehan arrived earlier in the week with about a half dozen supporters. As of Saturday there were about 300 anti-war protestors and approximately 100 people supporting the Bush administration.

Sheehan is seeking a justification for the war, as well as her son's death.

"I don't want comfort from him," she said Friday. "I want answers. I want the truth."

You have to wonder what he's like when he's unbalanced.

There is more to the article at the link.


»  August 12, 2005


Safe As Houses IIa: The massive bomb that killed 14 Marine Reserve troops from Ohio earlier this month has made August 2005 — not even half over — the deadliest month so far for National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq.

Only a month ago,, the Pentagon officer in charge of National Guard forces — Lt. Gen. Steven Blum — held a breakfast meeting with defense reporters to tell them that media exaggeration of the dangers faced by Guardsmen was the reason recruiting goals weren't being met. He asserted that Iraq duty isn't that dangerous, saying "I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time."

As our comparison showed at the time, that statement could only be possible if the vehicular fatality rate for Guardsmen was at least three times higher than for the general population of the US, or 250% higher than that of a multi-year study of regular Army vehicle fatalities.


»  August 10, 2005


Bringing Back the Big Picture:

The Big Picture with A. Whitney Brown

I've been meaning to post this clip of an A. Whitney Brown "The Big Picture" segment from a 1986 Saturday Night Live for a while because:

  1. It's pretty funny.
  2. It shows in a startlingly clear contrast just how bad Dennis Miller always was as a comic.
  3. It makes a point about how hair plays an (if you'll pardon the phrase) overblown role in big-time success. The unfunny Miller, of course, has had several failed TV shows; A. Whitney Brown is — I believe — a writer for Air America Radio.
  4. It illustrates how nothing under the sun is really all that new. This piece aired almost 20 years ago, during the Iran-contra scandal, while the US was combatting the Nicaraguans who — we were told — were waiting to swarm over the borders of Texas, while we were supporting the Iranians who were supplying arms to Afghan freedom fighters/terrorists fighting the Soviets. Good times.
But I'm making sure to get it online now because of the general discussion by Mithras of the dearth of funny conservative bloggers (or, in my opinion, funny conservatives, period).



watchmechange In the Wall Street Journal: The watchmechange Shockwave 3D tool developed by Brian Robbins at Fuel and deployed for the Gap made it into the Wall Street Journal today.

The article takes a surprisingly prim tone about the piece, which features an animated 3D character doing a bump-and-grind clad in underwear, which would seemingly be no racier than the dancing baby of "Ally Macbeal" or Tom Cruise's long-ago dance in "Risky Business." Non-violent, no nudity, putting on clothing (and taking it off). You'd think watchmechange would be about as uncontroversial as it could possibly be. Maybe Brian's got some secret codes only the WSJ knows about.

Early reviews are mixed. Comments circulating on the Internet show that some people find it a great way to waste time at the office; others are uncomfortable watching it. "My immediate reaction is definitely negative," says Lauren Schmidt, a 28-year-old account director at a technology public-relations firm in New York City. While it won't stop her from buying the chain's clothes, she says, "I have always regarded Gap as more tactful than that."


»  August 9, 2005

What the...?  

Medical Confusion:

Thought for the day: Don't confuse your neurologist with your urologist.

Too bad I can't get paid for that one.


»  August 5, 2005


No Condom, No Fun Says Church: A Los Angeles Times story today tells the 11-year-old tale of a woman who had sex with a Catholic seminarian in Oregon and got pregnant. She sued the Archdiocese of Portland for child support, as the father was a church worker. The archdiocese's attorney filed a pleading in the name of then-Archbishop William Levada denying responsibility, claiming the mother had engaged "in unprotected intercourse ... when (she) should have known that could result in pregnancy." Pretty funny coming from the Catholic Church, no?

It gets better. The seminarian? He was ordained as a priest the same year that he agreed to pay $215/month in child support in exchange for the mother dropping the lawsuit and agreeing to confidentiality. Archbishop Levada? He's got Pope Benedict XVI's old job, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, upholding — among other things — the church's stance opposing contraception. The entire article is definitely worth a read.



The Origin of the Fight Them Over There Strategy: On 3 August 2005, author Gerald Posner (Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Secret Saudi-U.S. Connection) was a guest on Air America Radio's "Morning Sedition" program, where he talked to hosts Mark Riley and Marc Maron about Islamic extremists and terrorism.

One particularly interesting observation came after a question from Mark Riley about what benefit the Saudis get from not clamping down harder on the money hose. Essentially, said Posner, they prefer to fight them "over there" rather than at home.

Sounds like a strategy to me (my own transcript follows, you can listen to the whole interview by downloading the MP3 for that day's show from Air America Place's archive, this section begins at 1:38:19).

MARK RILEY: Now, Gerald Posner, we see on the one hand all that you've just talked about, uh, and about how the United States government will give the Saudi government, uh, a pass on some of these things, but on the other hand, we also see the Saudis funding, uh, uh, uh Wahabbist Islam, madrassas throughout the Middle East, in Africa, in southern Asia. How does the royal family benefit by allowing this kind of — because it's a very tightly-controlled society, my assumption is the royal family could cut this money off tomorrow if they wanted to — how do they benefit by, by walking this line between being friendly to the United States but also being eh, essentially friendly to jihadists?

GERALD POSNER: Yeah. You know, Mark, you ask such an interesting question because they have this real schizophrenic relationship when it comes to this extreme form of Islam. I, I write about this in, in Secrets because the problem for them is that they founded this country seventy years ago together, uh, with the founder of Wahabbi Islam. I mean, it was a joint partnership, so it's always been a country based on this extreme form of Islam to, uh, that really brings everything back to the fourteenth century, doesn't like technology, doesn't embrace the outside world. It's the basis for fundamentalism and terrorism, no question about it. But over time, the royal family's become more Westernized in many respects. It's been [in] this partnership with the West and that's why the real fundamentalists have turned against them.

But they believe — at the royal family level — that if they cut this money off, if they don't fund the madrassas, if they don't fund the hard-core Wahabbi Muslim clerics around the world in mosques, that they will have all of that form of Islam turn against them en masse and they will lose their power base in Saudi Arabia. Probably true.

So what they try to do is fund it outside of Saudi Arabia largely. They're funding the madrassas; the schools that teach the next generation of suicide bombers in Pakistan; they're sending money to America, to Britain, to southeast Asia, as you just said. And their view is, let it sort of grow around the world. Let's be good Wahabbists in sending the money out, but let's keep it outside of our borders.


»  August 4, 2005


The Credibility Gap: For all you numerologists and code fanatics out there, a reverse progression of the interior two letters of potential '08 Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Evan Bayh's (DLC-IN) surname:


It works the other way around, too, it's just more steps.

Apparently, despite the fact that the Bush administration has totally screwed up the fight against terrorism, hasn't gotten bin Laden, has let Afghanistan slide into a warlord-run heroin hothouse, and can't maintain order in Iraq after over two years of occupation by the most advanced fighting forces in the world, Bayh thinks that Democrats can't criticize him because they don't have any credibility. You have to wonder what would give us credibility in Bayh's eyes, if that doesn't. Even the left being right isn't enough for Evan.



Intelligent Design Proponents: Enemies of America: As you're probably well aware, President Bush has come out in support (again) of teaching intelligent design/creationism in schools. At least it sort of looks like he has; as he frequently is when off-script, he's so tongue-tied and spacy that he makes Spongebob Squarepants look almost serious by comparison. Here's the relevant portion of the roundtable transcript from 1 August 2005; I've italicized questions and bold-faced relevant portions of Bush's responses:

Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.

Q So we've got to give these groups --

THE PRESIDENT: Very interesting question, Hutch. (Laughter.)

It may just be me, but he seemed to be evading the "validity" question.

Personally, I'd like to see this question posed to more politicians, at every level of government from school boards on up. But I'd like to see another line of questioning followed, as well, about what advantage the interviewee sees instruction in ID/C giving American children competing in a global marketplace over children in countries like Japan, China, India, Russia, Germany, France, the UK, and Italy where they learn science in their science classes, not "debate".

I know many politicians are likely to soft-peddle any qualms they might have about ID/C in their urge to triangulate religious voters. But sometimes you have to tell people unpleasant truths. Intelligent design isn't science. Creationism isn't science. It belongs in church, not in biology class. And the people who are intent on introducing it into public school curricula are undermining three-quarters of a century of American scientific leadership in the world, something we used to be proud of. That last point can't be said often — or forcefully — enough.


»  August 1, 2005


Don't Believe Their Own Lying Eyes: Back in June, I wrote a letter to Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) about Karl Rove's comments to the New York Conservative Party dinner in which he said liberals wanted to endanger troops and give therapy to terrorists.

Today's post contained Sen. Smith's mostly pro forma remarks, but this caught my eye (emphasis mine):

I noted your specific concerns regarding comments allegedly made by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
The letter from Sen. Smith's office is dated 14 July. News reports from as far back as 23 June carried video of Rove saying exactly what news accounts reported. It sort of makes you wonder what it takes to crack the cocoon of lies the Republicans seem to have woven around themselves. And what's wriggling inside, waiting to hatch out.



Toth'd: A journalist (who shall remain nameless) once complained about a piece I wrote in which I included (without consent) their brief response to a letter I wrote, accusing me—me—of unethical behavior and saying I didn't understand just how unethical such behavior was, and telling me they had not realized they were on the record.

This was part of my response (heavily redacted to avoid identifying the journalist):

* * *

I do have an idea of how unethical posting your [type of correspondence] would be—if I was a journalist. However, I make no pretense of being one.... I don't do any reporting or break stories. I don't have sources—on or off the record.

But if a fact in a news story strikes me as wrong, I pluck it out for examination, sometimes doing research to determine whether numbers add up, references are correct, etc. ... If I write a letter and get something back, I might put those up. Rather than a journalist, think of me more as Lazlo Toth without the funny.

In any case, I try not to write anything in email or elsewhere that I'd be ashamed of.

* * *

The truth is, there are many precedents for publishing correspondence without consent. Apart from Don Novello (who's been doing the Lazlo Toth gag since the Nixon administration), there are simple pranksters like Sterling Huck, Ted Nancy, and Paul Rosa. Apart from Novello's politically-oriented work, that type of thing isn't my particular interest, but it's certainly something that's been a thriving subgenre of publishing for over three decades.