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:: Friday, September 17, 2004 ::

Understanding.

I've been slowly coming to the conclusion that I no longer really understand conservatives, at least the sort running the GOP.

Now my father, I understand. He's an old-school style conservative. Not terribly religious, mainly all he wants is lower taxes and less government. He worked for 35 years in a job with a good amount of OSHA oversight -- something he complained about ceaselessly -- but even with that, if you press him, he'll admit they were a necessary evil, keeping a lid of employee stupidity and the employer oversights.

I don't agree with him on, say, Bush's tax cuts and whether they've really saved him money. But I can see where he's coming from, I can understand why he feels the way he does, and I can at least have a rational conversation about it. We don't agree, but we accept the same fundamental reality.

I understand conservatives like that. I understand the more libertarian conservatives as well. I -- obviously -- think they range from "wrong" to "really wrong" to "laughably wrong" on a variety of subjects, but I can track their viewpoint from step to step and even though I disagree, I understand it.

What I don't get, what I don't understand at all, are the conservatives running the GOP right now. Which is strange, because I've grown up around them. I live in Texas, after all, and it's Texas-style conservatism that's ascendant in the GOP. But I don't understand them at all.

I get bits and pieces, but they never add up. They don't make sense. It's not a matter of "disagreement", like I have with my father or the libertarians I know, but a matter of "Their minds make jumps I can't follow".

I don't get is Texas Republicans. Their political ideology is so warped, so hard to follow, that at times I wonder if it's just an invention to let them act like assholes without repercussion. While I seriously doubt that's true (I'm more likely to accept that they simply parrot conservative lines in order to gain power, which is used to reward friends and thus gain more power, etc...) I'm kind of left at an impasse.

With my father, with the libertarians I know, which my wife's parents....we're at least arguing about the same facts. We might disagree with what they mean, but we're accepting the same basic reality.

I look at George Bush, I look at Tom Delay, and I look at Dick Cheney....and I don't know what world they're looking at. Apparently one where Saddam Hussein planned 9/11, had hordes of nuclear weapons, where Blix was thrown out of Iraq and where we haven't lost vast swathes of Iraq to insurgents.

I can't have a conversation with people like that. We don't accept the same reality. Where do we even start?
:: Morat 11:55 AM :: ::

U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's Future

Denial....:
The intelligence estimate, the first on Iraq since October 2002, was prepared by the National Intelligence Council and was approved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under John E. McLaughlin, the acting director of central intelligence. Such estimates can be requested by the White House or Congress, but this one was initiated by the intelligence council under George J. Tenet, who stepped down as director of central intelligence on July 9, the government officials said.

As described by the officials, the pessimistic tone of the new estimate stands in contrast to recent statements by Bush administration officials, including comments on Wednesday by Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, who asserted that progress was being made.

'You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done,' Mr. McClellan said at a news briefing. 'And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future.'
I don't know what world George Bush is living in, but it ain't the realworld. There is nothing peaceful about Iraq. In fact, it's so violent that the US military has ceded vast swathes of Iraq to the insurgents, and can't even claim security in the Green Zone.

Now, comparing that objective reality with McCellan's statements leaves me with a rather painful choice: Either the President is seriously deluded, and surrounded by people who are either also deluded or who actively shield him from reality....or he's a bald-faced liar whose contempt for the American people knows no bounds.

I think Bush's lies are starting to hit their expiration point. Simply put, the facts on the ground have a very anti-Bush bias. And Daddy isn't going to be able to fix it for him this time.
:: Morat 9:28 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, September 16, 2004 ::

Democrat Kerry Slams Bush's 'Excuse Presidency'

Ouch:
"His is the excuse presidency -- never wrong, never responsible, never to blame ... no, it's not our fault; no, there's nothing wrong; no, we can't do better; no, we haven't made a single mistake," Kerry said.
[...]
'We know the truth,' he said. 'Nearly every choice has made it worse. You can even say that George Bush is proud of the fact that not even failure can cause him to change his mind.'
Has to sting....
:: Morat 11:56 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 ::

Killian Memos

Tim Noah on Slate feels the Killian memos are probably a forgery, or at least not something CBS should have relied on. But he closes with this, which sums up the entire reason I tend to think they aren't forgeries, or -- if they are forgeries -- retyped from original documents.
Which brings us to a larger point. The documents were entirely consistent with everything that's already been established about President Bush's National Guard service. We know strings were pulled on his behalf to get in. We know that, for whatever reason, he wouldn't take a required physical. We know that Bush agitated for a transfer to Alabama, and that for a period of six months there exists no evidence that he ever showed up. None of this makes Bush a bad person -- except insofar as he feels free to question, or permits others on his campaign to question, the manhood and patriotism of his opponent, John Kerry. 60 Minutes may have inadvertently framed the president, but in doing so it framed an already guilty man.
Why would anyone bother to forge them? Where's the motive? It doesn't advance the story, doesn't say anything new, doesn't even make any new accusations, doesn't do anything.

What's the point?

Update: Okay, now the Dallas Morning News (registration required, so just visit Josh Marshall here) is saying the documents are fake but "reflect real documents that once existed". So, correct me if I'm wrong, they're fake documents...but apparently someone faked documents that were copies of real documents that presumeably don't exist anymore?

Yep. Weirdest forgery ever.

Update the Second: I feel rather bad for CBS who -- unless they have something darn impressive in reserve -- is about to get raked over the coals. Not that they don't deserve it, but I can understand how they got tripped up. They have memos from a source they trust. They verify the signature, they get mixed responses on the memo itself. However, they get multiple people stating the contents of the memo are accurate descriptions of Killian's thoughts at the time.

So you've verified the contents, your expert says the signature is probably valid, but you can't validate the memo itself, because you're working with copies, not originals. You trust your source....I can understand why they went with it. They had solid sources to content, and who would expect someone to create a fake copy of real memos? Still a major screw-up, though. Had they been honest, and clearly noted they had sourced the contents as "accurate represenations of Killian's viewpoint" (Hodges, Killian's secretary and a few others vouch for that) and mentioned that because they were working with copies they couldn't claim these were the actual memos in question...well, they might have avoided the beating they're about to get.

Unless, as I said, they're still holding a few cards. They staked a lot on this and shown no signs of backpedaling, and it's hard to imagine they'd risk their credibility without more cause. Political campaigns might bluff on a bad hand, but news organizations? That'd be a first.
:: Morat 11:05 AM :: ::

Bush's Records Keep Trickling Out

Bush's Records Keep Trickling Out:
'The records have now been fully released.'

That was White House press secretary Scott McClellan talking about records of President Bush's Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard. Unfortunately for McClellan, he said that on Feb. 10 -- before two more waves of records were released. In July, the Pentagon, citing an 'inadvertent oversight,' released records that it had previously labeled destroyed. And in recent days, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe have obtained still more records.
[...]
Now there is some grumbling among Bush loyalists about Bartlett's handling of the Guard records; they say he may have drawn extra attention to the matter by sitting on the most recent batch of documents before releasing them publicly. And the newly released documents have refuted two claims Bartlett made in 1999: that Bush was appropriately released from his Texas unit because it had phased out the F-102 jets that he flew, and that Bush transferred to a reserve unit in Boston. The F-102s were still being flown by Bush's unit when he departed, and Bush never signed up with a Boston area unit.
You know, the funny thing is, this only has potential to damage Bush because of the SBVT's smears. After all, if Bush hadn't stood by while political hacks smeared a decorated veteran, Bush's own less-than-stellar service wouldn't be an issue.

But when Mr. War President allows a soldier's service -- during a time of war -- to be disparaged, and spends his days talking about supporting the troops, well....it's suddenly relevant how he behaved before the spotlight was on him.

The truest essence of your character is what you do when no one is watching.
:: Morat 9:30 AM :: ::

$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda

I thought all you fiscal conservatives out there might find this interesting.
"The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.
A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.
Now, I've heard Norquist's "starve the baby" theory, but I'd like to point out that even if Bush were trying this -- a big if -- you still have to pay the bill first. The government doesn't get to write off debts.

So which is it? Big insolvent government or big solvent government? At least with the latter, you're getting something for your money.

I know you've been told all your life about the "Tax and spend" Democrats. How about instead of clutching at old sayings, you open your eyes and see what the Republicans have become?
:: Morat 9:11 AM :: ::

:: Monday, September 13, 2004 ::

What's the deal with Dan Rather?

About the only thing I took from the Killian memo thing is that -- for reasons unknown -- the LGF crowd and their ilk seems to really hate Dan Rather.

Why? Did he rape and kill Rush Limbaugh's mother or something?
:: Morat 2:49 PM :: ::

MSNBC - It's Worse Than You Think

Yep. It's all calm seas and smooth sailing in Iraq. Mission Accomplished indeed:
It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August?the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a 'phase two' insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting?a step up to phase three.

Another ominous sign is the growing number of towns that U.S. troops simply avoid. A senior Defense official objects to calling them 'no-go areas.' 'We could go into them any time we wanted,' he argues. The preferred term is 'insurgent enclaves.' They're spreading. Counterinsurgency experts call it the 'inkblot strategy': take control of several towns or villages and expand outward until the areas merge. The first city lost to the insurgents was Fallujah, in April. Now the list includes the Sunni Triangle cities of Ar Ramadi, Baqubah and Samarra, where power shifted back and forth between the insurgents and American-backed leaders last week. 'There is no security force there [in Fallujah], no local government,' says a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad. 'We would get attacked constantly. Forget about it.'
It's rather obvious we don't control large sections of Iraq. So, given that, how do we propose to have free and fair elections? Simple answer: We're not. Strongman or rigged process or just getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as the election is over. We broke it, but I doubt Bush plans to fix it. I doubt Kerry plans to either, for that matter. Bush has a history of complete and abject failure. Unfortunately for the Iraqis -- and us -- this time he made one so big that not even his Daddy can bail him out.
:: Morat 9:41 AM :: ::

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