Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Well, well, well!

I'm late checking the morning papers, but I don't see anything about Lieberman's call to support the war in The Washington Post or The New York Times. I guess that means the plane landed safely.

I wish I'd kept track of story placement on the Murtha call to abandon the war. Ah, wait. Here it is on page A01:

Hawkish Democrat Joins Call For Pullout
GOP Assails Murtha's Demand to Leave Iraq

(Via the indispensible PostWatch.)
I started it

I wrote Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review Online, last night, asking him why he thinks Marc Cooper hates him so much. He responded, "Who's Marc Cooper?" So I sent him the link, and here's his response today:

One of the interesting developments of appearing in the LA Times regularly is that I've activated a whole new constituency of people who don't like me. For example, I don't really know who Marc Cooper is. But a couple readers say he's normally a fairly open-minded liberal. Maybe. But not judging from this typical lefty yelling. Apparently Cooper thinks it's self-evident that I'm illiterate and historically ignorant -- and that I'm a "shout show clown."

Since Cooper's snideness is representative of a vast amount of blowback in recent weeks, let me just respond in brief. A) I haven't been on a "shout show" in years and I turn them down all the time. B) Illiterate? Try harder. C) Perhaps Cooper could try to explain why my argument was "ahistorical drivel"? Is he saying that the views of three of the 20th century's most esteemed liberal historians amounts to nothing? Does he believe it is so self-evident that I'm wrong it doesn't merit a thoughtful rebuttal? Was FDR completely honest in the run-up to World War II? About Lend-lease? Are his dittoing readers content with such substance free high-chair pounding?

I'm not exactly in a great position to throw stones about name-calling, but I do it less than I used to and I always try to do it in the context of an argument. Cooper should give that a try.
I found Cooper via Michael Totten, who said he was a liberal with whom one could reasonabley discuss politics. I don't read him very regularly, but he's always seemed pretty reasonable until I came across his rant against Goldberg, who I also think is pretty reasonable.

I didn't know Goldberg used to do "shout shows"--maybe he's calmed down since then. Anyway, I like Goldberg's use of "self-evident" in the above: "Does he believe it is so self-evident that I'm wrong it doesn't merit a thoughtful rebuttal?" Some write to persuade and some write to get something off their chest and get a "you tell him!" from the peanut gallery. Cooper's usually done the former. It's easy to slip into reading the latter when it's something you agree with. It takes a lot more effort to make your case in writing and only a little less effort to read it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Question

Posed by Fred Barnes on Special Report tonight: Will The New York Times and The Washington Post splash Senator Joe Lieberman's comments about the war all over their front pages the way they did Rep. John Murtha's?

Tune in tomorrow, folks!
She never calls

Ann Althouse hasn't posted in over a week, I think. And not only do I miss her, I'm a bit worried, which hardly seems right, since I don't actually know her. I found her posting recent pictures here though.

Limbs down

Another shot of the same trees limbs I posted earlier.
Gator

I've updated the post below, but here's what a Gator is.

Windy gusty day

Those winds blew down a couple of branches off our Bradford Pear. You can also see, that here in late November, our leaves are finally starting to change color.
Jourdanton

The Dallas Morning News picked up the story a few weeks ago and I meant to link it.
Name your price

I think the Cindy Sheehan story is mostly a sad one, which is why I've stayed out of it. But via a commenter at this site, we find that at $11,000 an hour per lecture, she is not anti-capitalist.
Expiration date 11/29/05

The John M. Olin foundation closes tomorrow forever:
What did the foundation do? After becoming its president in 1977, Mr. Simon called for the creation of a "counterintelligentsia" to balance what he saw as the liberal dominance of the universities, the news media, nonprofit organizations and government bureaucracies. The Olin Foundation and other right-leaning philanthropies - particularly the Bradley, Scaife and Smith Richardson Foundations - provided a pool of venture capital that helped build a network of research institutions, academic fellowships and highbrow journals for the conservative movement. If it is something of a cliché these days to suggest that conservatives are winning the war of ideas, much of the credit belongs to these grant makers.
I had never heard of it until earlier this year. But liberal dominance sounds about right to me. I learned all kinds of liberal pro-choice arguments in a philosophy class my sophomore year at The University of Texas. I believe we spent a good deal of time on it. One of the arguments compared a fetus to a thief who had broken into a woman's house even though she had put bars on her windows.

Anyway, speaking of abortion, I understand some of the math in Freakonomics is being challenged in regard to the decline in crime with the rise in the number of abortions. I'm going to read that book as soon as my friend Colleen remembers to loan it to me.

(Next day.) Why don't I just click post and forget about whatever else I had to say? Otherwise, this page will never be updated!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gusty day

The winds must be up to 45 miles per hour despite what the weatherman says. It's gray and dark and annoying outside. We're having roasted chicken for dinner--not one that I made, mind you. Grocery stores nowadays do all the work for you.

But for Thanksgiving I like to cook myself, so I volunteered to make the stuffing. I used a Better Homes and Garden recipe to satisfy old-fashioned tastes and I think I succeeded. It was just about one of the nicest, most relaxing holiday dinners I've enjoyed in a long time.

Dinner was served out at "the farm"--my husband's uncle's half section of land--with a newly built expansive home overlooking a large pond, swimming pool and trees in the Oklahoma red earth.

We took three of the young 'uns on a Gator ride through the woods only to get stuck in the muddy beach by the pond just before sunset. The half-mile trek back became an adventure story that spilled out their young mouths in breathless utterances to the amused and delighted ears of parents and grandparents.

It was all good healthy fun, but as my husband's reputation as a hot rod--partly earned, partly not-- follows him, he got a very stern reaction from Uncle for putting the children in danger. Alas, the only other adult witness who knew otherwise, I held my tongue as Uncle did not seem receptive to hear any defense. (I later drew attention to his family album from winter 1983--smiling waving children, including my husband, playing atop his frozen pond. I'm told they could hear the ice creaking.) We had not been driving fast and the children and I waited on the shoreline while Gene tried to get the vehicle out, only to get it more stuck. But the little car was somewhat more submerged by the end of all the trying. He must have thought the kids and I were in it the entire time.

We'll find out at the Fourth of July party if this incident will still be viewed through the prism of his hot-rod reputation.

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting essay on Iraq as the reverse-Vietnam, complete with cover-up only this time from the MSM instead of the military.
In Vietnam, the brass talked happy-talk, the press talked to grunts and reported that the war was going worse than we were told. But now it's Americans who are talking to
(Later...Much later.)

Well, I lost half my post, but it's just as well because it was mostly about something I knew little of. Perhaps I'll try again if time allows.

What I've been doing since I abandoned this post is the evening round up. Food--table; dishes--dishwasher; counters--wiped; children--played with; stories--read. The story tonight for the Divine Miss Em was Disney's princess stories--a book of three, including Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, condensed for young ears.

Each one ends with a version of this sentence: "Soon after, the two were married, and they lived happily ever after." I like the "soon after" part. How soon? Next week? The next day? Or the following year? There's a Barbie story called the Princess and the Pauper. The King falls in love with the Pauper and "soon after" a year touring Europe, she marries him. I think Maureen Dowd would approve. (Thanks W.Y.)

The older I get, the faster time compresses. It's now measured in semesters, holidays, the next big family event. Tomorrow Emma resumes pre-school after a week's break. Her spring semester begins in a month. What comes after Christmas, she wants to know? Oh--New Year's, Valentine's, your birthday, Easter, then summer. And soon after, I think to myself, you'll embark on your voyage into public education.

It's like pages out of a loose leaf flying away in a stiff breeze--I can't grab one, try as I might. So I take a deep breath, enjoy the moment, try to create a successful evening for her and when she goes to bed, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the rest of the evening with her father. Good night, reader.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Persona non-blogger

Likely very little posting in the frenzied rush to kick off the holidays. Tomorrow I create a vat of what I hope will be an inoffensive turkey stuffing, one that will remind each taster of how he used to eat it when he was a kid...

...and the roar of the motor tells me my husband's home and that means the show starts right now. Curtain is up at the dinner table and I'm on! See ya.
Going vegan?

Pat has discovered a new way to wrastle meatloaf and takes the reader to task:
The list of things you do not know about butter beans versus bay scallops quite frankly pisses me off.
Glad he's not at my Thanksgiving dinner table.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nominate me!

I had no idea how "unselective" the Nobel prize nomination process is.
Then four years ago, she said, she learned that Williams was alive and had been nominated for a Nobel Prize, and "it literally hit me like a ton of bricks."

"It literally almost destroyed my life because of my own anger," she said. "I was just flabbergasted. How could the man who co-founded the Crips be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. What in the world?"
Apparently almost any college professor can nominate a person for the award that is so important in the MSM. Eugene Volokh notes, "Naturally, many nominees have real merit; but that someone has been nominated by one of likely hundreds of thousands of potential nominees is little evidence of such merit." (Via Instapundit.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Let the eating commence!

[End weight loss] Happy Thanksgiving! [Resume weight gain.]
What?

There's such a thing as a neo-liberal? (Scroll up.)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Healthy snacks

Here are a few snacks to munch on while I'm a way.

Via Post Watch,where there is lots of wholesome, chewy goodness, Stephen Spruill shared a panel with two network producers in front of a group of marines:
Of particular concern was the way the 2,000th casualty overshadowed the passage of Iraq's constitution, which happened on the same day. One Marine just recently back from Iraq called the constitution "a major step toward us getting out of there," yet noted that the media coverage of the event had been astonishingly shallow. One fellow panelist, a producer for CBS News*, said that the 2,000th casualty was a very important story because it was important to know that these were our brothers and fathers that were sacrificing in Iraq. The room sort of exploded with hands in the air and marines arguing that the 2,000th casualty was a meaningless statistic and no different that the 1,999th or the first. Moreover, they argued that the bigger problem was the lack of balance — the good news was not reported with the bad. The CBS News producer agreed, but he and an NBC producer also argued, using an old standby, that it's not news if a plane lands at Kennedy airport safely — only if it crashes.
(My bold.) Couldn't they see it as a tyranny crashing, if they must use that metaphor? And actually at PostWatch, from Thursday, the irony of leaks at the Washington Post:
Glenn Kessler: I think it is outrageous that someone gave Yardley's comments [about Bob Woodward's knowledge of Valerie Plame's identity] to the New York Times. If this person had the courage of their convictions, he/she would have allowed themselves to be quoted on the record to The Times (why hide behind Yardley's private comments if you believe them to be correct?) and he/she should have no qualms about revealing themselves as the source.
PostWatch writes, "Tell it to the CIA, bub!" Come on--it's funny.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I knew this day would come...

...and I dreaded it, and that's why I've tried to avoid it. One of my favorite liberals has offended me. He's written an irritated post on the LA Time's hiring of Jonah Goldberg for their op-ed page. I don't read either of them regularly, though Goldberg more than Cooper, so I don't know why Cooper would say this,
I’m all for the Times having some conservative columnists — but they might have found one that can actually write and think. Or at least one of the two.
That's why bloggers should link back to previous posts! Cooper should have linked back to where he made the case that Goldberg is "shameless crap."

Anyway, I usually like Goldberg. I think he usually is pretty thoughtful. I think I can still check in on Cooper from time to time, though.
Librarian imprisoned

(Scroll down.) "Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, on the House floor:
Mr. Reyes Rodríguez is an opposition activist and independent librarian . . . His life is dedicated to the proposition that the men and women of Cuba must be free: free to learn, free to worship, free to elect their leaders, free to enjoy their inalienable human rights. Independent libraries in Cuba, such as the one operated by Mr. Reyes Rodríguez, provide the indispensable service of circulating truth at a time when the tyrannical regime provides only propaganda."
He's in for 25 years and his wife is getting threats from the government.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Use of torture

McCain's bill passes:

By an 84-14 vote, the Senate passed an amendment that would allow the roughly 500 detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to appeal convictions by military tribunals if they face the death penalty or at least 10 years in prison. The appeals would be heard in federal court. Detainees also would be allowed to appeal their designation as enemy combatants.

The proposal would allow the court review in place of the right to file habeas corpus petitions in federal courts, a right affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2004. The Bush administration has said the detainees have no right to appeal. Tuesday's vote set a middle ground.

The proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was attached to a defense bill that passed 98-0. The amendment asks President Bush to push Iraq to take over its own security and get U.S. troops home as soon as possible.

Another provision passed this month would ban cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners and establishes the Army Field Manual as the governmentwide guide for all interrogations. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the sponsor, was tortured during the more than five years he spent in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War.

This via Vodkapundit, who adds,
At this point, some well-meaning person might trot out the old "if there was a nuclear timebomb and we had a prisoner who knew something..." argument. A) That's unlikely as hell. B) Torture still might not get us any usefull information. C) If it somehow did, then there's probably not a DA who would indict our torturer, and there's certainly no jury that would convict.
Not sure I agree with him on point 'C.' Prosecutors indict for all kinds of political reasons.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Better to be respected than liked

What do those words mean to you? A few years back when I first started blogging, a liberal friend from New York liked discussing politics with me via email. He worried in one exchange that Europeans wouldn't like Americans if we went to war with Iraq. Being liked was not a good reason to go or not go to war, I thought, so I quickly shot off a one sentence reply: better to be respected than liked.

This upset him and he sent me an abusive 100-word essay on how I belonged in what he called the League of Fascists with Stalin, Hitler and Saddam. I'm not entirely sure what he gleaned from those six words that made me so evil. I get that people don't like war, they don't like change. They generally prefer the status quo even if that means threat to national security (which turned out perhaps not as great as we thought), genocide, lack of human rights, etc.

Jay Tea has an essay on John McCain's bill that would outlaw torture. One of McCain's reasons, writes Tea, is that it will make us a better liked nation.

I'm highly skeptical of that. Writes Tea,
Being "liked" is a worthless goal in foreign relations. As Winston Churchill said, nations don't have permanent friends or permanent enemies -- only permanent interests. We would be far better served to find those common interests and build our relationships in a sense of enlightened self-interest, rather than bonhommie and camaraderie and the "aren't we all just fine, upstanding fellows" sentiments.
I think he's probably correct. And I think among those common interests, would be a ban on torture, for instance, as agreed upon by interested nations in the Geneva Conventions.

But that won't ever stop torture, as evidenced by Abu Ghraib, which as Tea points out, was investigated, prosecuted and made public by the Army.

So what of al Qaeda? They didn't sign onto the Geneva Conventions. President Bush says the policy of his administration is to not use torture. Would a law banning torture just be superfluous, a public relations law to get Europe to like us?

Anyway, I thought my friend from New York was being really mean to me when he wrote those things, so I ceased communicating with him, feeling it was better to be respected than liked. And in that case, I was right. It does feel better.
The White House strikes back!

It's good to see the president defending his position against people using the I was brainwashed strategy about the Iraq war. Apparently, the White House is not going to take it anymore. I'm particularly impressed with their taking on the Washington Post. (Via Instapundit--just keep scrolling.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

If I'm not blogging I must be happy

If I'm not blogging than then [Ed.--Good grief!] I must be happily doing something else! Today it was a well-deserved three hours of uninterrupted Christmas shopping (by myself). Funny how things change. Before children I probably would have preferred some company, but these days I'll grab every moment I can.

I've just about finished for Emma and the little guy. There will of course be the mad rush on December 23 when the did-I-get-enough for them worries will emerge and push me to buy all kinds of useless bright-colored, dust-collecting plastic objects that I'll be cursing about come late January after picking them up for umpteenth million time. In fact, I'm mad already! All I do is pick junk up all day! Why, when I was my daughter's age--come closer, deary, so I don't have to shout--I had two stuffed animals to sleep with (actually neither were animals--one was a sun, the other an egg) and the same bucket of army men that my older brothers played with. My kids have an entire toy store in my house--one, some times two of each item.

Our little guy has his first diaper rash, and alas, he's not holding up well through it. I recall his sister withstanding all kinds of diaper rash torment and teething pain when she was still a baby with nary a whimper, but Super B., he fusses, cries, clings to the first parent that picks him up and refuses the other.

Emma is to be flower girl in her uncle's wedding three weeks from now. After thinking it over this summer, she's changed her mind and decided not to do it. Unfortunately, I told her, she has a no-cancellation clause in her contract after the dress has been bought. She still doesn't understand, but I have the paperwork with her giant backward 'E' on it, and I will call a lawyer if need be.

Besides, I told her, you'll be just like the flower girl in the book, "Barbie Loves Weddings." A look of understanding, recognition, excitement. She gets it now. And a few moments later, "Mom, I don't want to be flower girl."

If it weren't for some fifty cent clips, Gene would be finished replacing the brake pads on his car. As it stands, the fifty cent clips need to be special ordered and should arrive Tuesday. More pressing his luck with Vegas.

(Later.) Teacher's birthday card has been made, complete with a school photo; the children have had their fill of cartoons and my kitchen is bare of some morning essentials, so I'm off for a quick errand. Maybe a cup of coffee first. In any case, thanks for checking in on me. It's been a great weekend.

Update: I'm trying to use the photo feature, but it's not working. I'll try again later!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Under the gun

My husband's under the gun at work, so he's working late, hence I'm working full speed with the kids until 8:40 Central Standard Time, hence little blogging, but I'm terribly excited about a tool I just discovered via Just One Minute--LexisNexis Ala Carte! I have not even explored it yet, but he says,
for the low budget sleuth - registration is free, the searches are free, and the chance to hammer these people with their own words is priceless. And at $3 a download, it is the equivalent of two cups of coffee, but so much more fun.
Well, you know I don't like to pay retail! Excellent! I'll have mine with cream, no sugar.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Snack time

Screedblog is back (finally). Here's Lileks on his union newsletter:
But there’s always a spot of humor in the Parsons Corner: words we can no longer use. This month we have three. “Illegal aliens” is doubleplus ungood; the new term is “undocumented worker” or “undocumented resident.” Which slyly suggests that residency is the value that trumps legality. “Gyp” is forbidden, and I understand why; it’s derived from “gypsy,” and means “to cheat.” Fine. But now “codger” is forbidden, as an “offensive term referring to a senior citizen.”

Codger! “Offensive.” No word strikes more fear into the heart of modern journalists. “Offensive” could mean meetings and memos and warning notes and angry emails. Some journos love it; so I offend. Fine. It’s in the job description. Others fold up like a card table, horrified - but only if the offended person hails from a designated victim group; they don’t lose a lot of sleep if they’ve offended some nutball right-winger. That is merely a sign you’re doing something right.

The bad-word feature appears at the end of “Human Rights Watch,” a column that concerned itself with the horrid flaws in American society revealed by Hurricane Katrina. Here we learn another bad word that may lend offense:

“According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a refugee is a person seeking asylum in a foreign country in order to escape persecution. Perhaps that’s what the people of New Orleans looked like fleeing Hurricane Katrina, but many of them found the label to be highly offensive – yet journalists continued to use it even after this was pointed out.”

Jesus wept. My dictionary define a refugee as someone forced to leave his home because of war, persecution, or NATURAL DISASTER. But if you can imagine the sin here: some journalists used the accurate word even after it had been pointed out that some people found it highly offensive.

Fargin’ codgers.
Journalia is a crazy, crazy world. My guess is the aging baby boomer journalists take special offense to the word codger.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I've got a problem*

Via Powerline, I find this AP story:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House SpeakerDennis Hastertcirculated a letter Tuesday calling for a congressional investigation into the disclosure of alleged secret U.S. interrogation centers abroad.
Powerline is citing a Bill Bennett article pointing out the inconsistency of leak investigations, but I recall James Taranto making the same comments (scroll down) a few days ago.

My problem is the disclosure of secret interrogation centers is not new to me, but I don't know when or from whom I learned it. I'm sure I read about this months ago. Maybe it was just something similar, like other prisons. Let's hope the blogosphere will produce.

*Just one?

Update: Yes, Glenn. Thank The New York Times for yet another investigation. Another reason to be disappointed with Gail Collins.
Snack time

Here's a cool Lewis and Clark interactive map. (Via Gay Patriot.)
War on Terror--Discuss!

Does the unelected Fourth Estate have too much power*? Stephen Green thinks if we lose the War on Terror, we'll lose it because of the mainstream media.

Today, too many reporters report from the relative safety of Baghdad hotels. Their reports – and the public's understanding of the war – have suffered as a result. And too few of the original embeds remain reporting for duty. When reporters who don't see what going on write stories without context, they fail to steel the public for bad news and to put the good news in perspective.

It's fair to ask if the Iraq Campaign was a necessary component to the Terror War. It isn't fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam, when the two wars have nothing, zero, nada in common. It's fair to ask if our soldiers are dying in vain, or because of stupid policy, or because of inferior equipment. It's not fair to run headlines like "Battle Deaths Continue to Mount." No shit, Sherlock? A real story would be, "Battle Deaths Decline as Fallen Soldiers Miraculously Resurrected." It's fair to question Bush's policies. It's not fair to act as a conduit for enemy propaganda. It's fair to ask if Iraq is draining resources from our efforts in Afghanistan. It's not fair to complain that Afghanistan isn't perfect yet. It's fair to complain about indecencies at Abu Ghraib. It's not fair to virtually ignore atrocities committed by the other side everywhere else in Iraq.

But our media, aware of their power but ignorant as to its uses, would rather play "gotcha" than provide critical perspective.

(Snip)

Criticism isn't just necessary, it's a necessary good. But the MSM needs to relearn constructive criticism, and they need to remember which country defends their rights, and which group of people would gleefully slit their throats4.
Actually, Stephen, journalists are from the country Journalia (accent on the first a); should something happen to a journalist overseas, the National Association of Broadcasters dispatches an ambassador to plead for their citizen's safe return. What leverage the NAB has, I don't know, but then, I'm not from that country.

*Is it fair of me to make the MSM analogous to a branch of government and point out that they are unelected? After all, we can always elect to turn off the television, cancel our subscription and try to find news another way.

(Note: updated for better headline.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yes, thank you--I'm fine

Required reading:

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I think I'm one of these people. I am never more refreshed than after three or four hours alone with my thoughts. (Via Althouse)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

My father loved this country. He regretted helping the Sandinistas but he didn’t know any better.

Here's an excerpt from a letter from my friend living in Costa Rica. He recently toured Granada, Nicaragua:

At lunch, however, the conversation turned to Roberto [my friend's tourguide] sharing his personal memories of that time in the 80’s. He began talking about the upcoming elections and how on television there are ads about the Sandinistas that say, “Do you remember the 80’s? Do you want to go back?” He said his family was wealthy compared to others and his father had several farms, livestock and vehicles. He said he remembered when they lived in Magalpa in central Nicaragua, his father supported the Sandinistas with money and food. His father would go into the jungle at dark and deliver supplies to those he thought would liberate Nicaragua. He said that as quickly as the gunman appeared, they disappeared back into the jungle.

He said that one day he was traveling with his father in the North of Nicaragua and they were stopped by the Nicaraguan Army. He was eleven years old and the Captain asked how old he was. Roberto told him eleven, but the Captain didn’t believe him because he was taller than average. The soldier asked Roberto’s father for his papers. (His passport or cedula, which is like a drivers license or I.D.) His father said he didn’t have either one because he was only eleven. One of the sergeants walked over to Roberto and felt of his arms and shoulders and said, “You’re strong enough to carry a gun or bullets.” His father ordered Roberto into the vehicle and then got in himself and drove off. Roberto said he couldn’t believe how close he was to being taken for the Army. <>He said that the Army would come to the schools and gather up boys and leave. He said the boys mother’s would be waiting for them at home and instead of the boy showing up, someone else would be there with a note that said the boy had been taken to “camp”. Some of these boys were never seen again. Even today, there are thousands that have never been accounted for.

After the revolution and the Sandinistas gained power, they were running the country through fear and the want of money and power. Roberto’s father received a letter from a friend in the Sandinistas that was a list of people described as traitors and were to be executed on site. His fathers name was on this list. That very day, his father hired a truck that transports livestock to move the entire family to Managua in an attempt to escape. Roberto said as they drove they sat on the truck bed with livestock all around them, and watched people being shot and burned on the side of the road. He said some were still alive and being eaten by dogs.

Once in Managua, his father was able to get the entire family passports and papers so that they could flee to Miami. They were granted political asylum due to the fact that he was wanted and subject to execution. Years later when democracy ruled, his father returned the family to Nicaragua much to their dismay. As I looked at Roberto, his face was filled with sadness, pride and joy. He said, “My father loved this country. He regretted helping the Sandinistas but he didn’t know any better. In a way, he did help us get where we are now, but I don’t think he knew it would happen the way it did. Now we can say whatever we want, do whatever we want, and have whatever we want without fear of someone killing you.”

I asked Roberto if he thought it could ever happen again. He said, “No. Well I hope not. The kids of the Sandinistas are in their teens now and have been told how great things were under their reign. Propaganda is creeping back into the countryside.” After we finished lunch and were driving to the next tour site, he pointed out several red and black flags. He said those were Sandinista flags. The last time he pointed out a flag, I thought of the television ads. Hopefully, those that remember, outnumber those that forgot.

Before my friend sent me that letter, he asked me about the political situation in Nicaragua, and I sent him this summary of a NYT's article, that is now frustratingly behind the TimeSelect wall.
Anyway, by 1990, the Contras were in power, but President Aleman was corrupt
to the tune of millions of dollars. His VP, Bolanos, who ran on an anti-corruption
platform got him ousted around 2000.

The sandinistas still retain some power in parliament (I think), but also
they hold control of the judiciary. So they have Aleman, who was sentenced
to 20 years in prison, by the cajones. Out of prison after a mere 2 years, he has joined up w/ Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista who was ousted from power years ago. They have formed a coalition to oust current president Bolanos. The good news for
Bolanos is that the US passed CAFTA for central America. This should
increase his GDP 1.5% and his exports a whole bunch too. But out of 92
parliament members, Bolanos only has the loyalty of 8.

So. The US has cancelled visas of some of the Sandinista bigwigs, and is
threatening to withhold aid--$175 million, I think-- if the communists or the corrupt Aleman get elected. Or, I should write, "elected."
Interestingly, when I googled this topic, an "On This Day" report from 1984 popped up on the BBC website. It's the day Daniel Ortega was voted into office. British election officials said the vote was fair enough.

More: Here's an October 6 Knight Ridder article with more background.

Negotiations between Bolanos, the Sandinistas and Aleman supporters to resolve the two-year-old stand off broke down in April, when the president walked away from the table.

Since then, his foes have threatened to impeach him or strip him of his immunity from prosecution, partly as a tactic to force him back to the negotiating table. Congresswoman Maria Dolores Aleman, the daughter of Aleman and a leader of her father's party, also has publicly acknowledged that going after Bolanos would be tit for tat for his government's conviction of her father.

"Sadly, we are being forced to do things that we don't want to do," she said.

The Sandinistas control much of Nicaragua's judiciary, and the congress in alliance with Aleman's Liberals. Aleman's supporters say they would be willing to negotiate the constitutional reforms, something that Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega has refused to do.

Most Nicaraguan political analysts believe Bolanos will be allowed to serve out his term because an impeachment of the widely respected Bolanos would carry too high a political cost for Ortega.

Oh, come on!

Did Delay really say this? If so, that's pathetic. I'd sure like to see the actual quote, though.
In a speech to a group of conservative academics and policy experts, DeLay blamed the runaway spending of recent years on minority Democrats. When he took questions, the first came from a senior official at the American Conservative Union, who asked DeLay, "How large does the Republican majority in the House and Senate need to be before Republicans act like the fiscal conservative I thought we were?"
Mo MoDo

Howard Kurtz on Maureen Dowd:
It's the quintessential Dowd dilemma: wanting to be judged on her work, feeling that her private life is constantly being picked apart, and yet being savvy enough to mock the very thing she says drives her nuts.
I think if she didn't make her criticisms of people in her columns so personal, she'd have better luck keep her private life, well, private.

Friday, November 04, 2005

My lead foot

Or, when is a year not a year?

A year is not a year when you get a speeding ticket and opt for deferred disposition. You are then given a deferment of 90 days, in which time if you don't get another ticket and you pay your fine, the ticket will not go on your permanent record.

Made a left out of Starbucks (good grief all I need is a cellphone in my hand), kids in the back and Main Street is wide open in front of me. It's going to be a good day. Whoops! I appear to be over 50. Let me gently slow down...aaaaaaaaaand there's the cop. Oh and his partner has a radar gun. Great.

Should I just pull over here on Main Street? Traffic's getting thicker. I'll turn right on this side street and pull over where it's safer for both of us. (Stay calm. Channel Mom, channel Mom, channel Mom.) Hands on the wheel until he gets to the window. Hello, Officer. What? 55 in a 40? Oh, dear. Was it okay for me to stop here? I can stop as soon as I see your lights. I see. Okay, thank you. Questions? No, not really. You don't have to thank me for being courteous--you're just doing your job. Yes, you have a good day too.

Well, that really took the caffeine out of my latte, if you know what I mean. Have to explain this to my husband; hope he'll be understanding. He is! Hurray! Maybe I can get it deferred like the last one. Yes, it has been over a year since my last ticket.

Oh, no it hasn't says our trusty civil servant at the courthouse. She pulls out my file. (Egads--they have a file on me!) Well, I'm not sure if I want to pay it or sign up for defensive driving. I'll have to come back.

Dear, when did I get that ticket? I don't remember either. Spring '04 or 'o5? I remember I gave it to you as a Father's Day gift. Yes, if she says it hasn't been a year then I suppose she's right. I'll sign up for defensive driving.

I'd like to sign up for defensive driving, please. While you have my file out, could you by chance tell me when my last ticket was? June 20, 2004? Oh! Well then hasn't it been a year since my last ticket? Am I not eligible for deferred disposition? No? Oh, I see--the deferral is 90 days, but then your office has thirty more days to process the paperwork. All right then, how much do I owe you? Ninety-nine dollars, fine.

Buckle yourself in dear, we have one more errand--you know, I still don't get how I'm not eligible for deferral. Get out of the car, honey. I have to ask the lady something. And don't tease your brother.

Excuse me--I'm sorry to bother you, and I certainly want to adhere to the law, but since I got my ticket on October 24, isn't that four days past the 120 day deferral? It has nothing to do with the law--it's what the judge decides? What did the judge decide? Yes, I'll wait. Oh, I see. The judge decided that my deferrment ended on Nov. 1. Yes, thank you. That clears it up quite nicely.

Huh. Well, spending a day in defensive driving won't be too bad. It'll be nice to have a break from the kids.

Gee, that sounded pathetic!

Update: These 592 words were brought to your purely for the purpose of using that headline. I apologize if the body of the work does not stand up.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Kinda funny

On throwing oreos at a black Republican:
Throwing symbolic foods is now being endorsed as a legitimate tactic, so let's sieze the moment and run with it.

So, let's think about what kinds of foods would make appropriate projectiles against certain leftist groups.

* For a Greenpeace rally, throw watermelons at them. Or watermelon-flavored candies, if you don't want to risk hurting them.

* At a gay rights rally, I recommend Twinkies or fresh fruit.

There are plenty more to offend everyone.
Bloodmoney for a woman is half the bloodmoney for a man

The Religious Policeman takes us through the Saudi guide to women's rights. Long, amusing and sad.
"Simple Sambo"

Is race loyalty an important campaign issue?
Are you now or have you ever been a married woman?

Is sexual politics for Maureen Dowd what the army was for Senator McCarthy? Read this piece in Slate:

Is this dark view of sexual politics a little extreme? If it is, it shouldn't be surprising. Dowd pushes every statement to its most exaggerated form; her column occupies a space somewhere in between the other columns on the New York Times op-ed page and the political cartoons that sometimes run there. She is, at her best, a brilliant caricaturist of the political scene, turning each presidency into vivid farce. As a caricaturist, she has a fondness for punchy one-liners strung together, and for the one-sentence paragraph: "Survival of the fittest has been replaced by survival of the fakest"; "We had the Belle Epoque. Now we have the Botox Epoch"; and "As a species is it possible that men are ever so last century?" Her style evokes a brainier Candace Bushnell, whose oeuvre she frequently refers to, but it is given extra weightiness by her position at the Times.

Like the crude, sexist men she lampoons, Dowd is extremely fond of clever stereotyping. But this strategy is better-suited to satirizing a real person (say, President Bush) than it is to offering insights into the already cartoonish "war" between the sexes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

HRH The Prince of Wales

Charles comes to the U.S. on a mission. The U.S. it seems is much to confrontational with Islamic nations. Comments here and here.
Whoa!

I stumbled across a few liberal sites I used to read regularly and their take and tone on Iraq is 180 degrees well, much different from my current daily fixes. Refreshing Jolting.

Checking in on a CNN interview of a couple soldiers just back, NRO's Media Blog points me in the direction (lest I forget) of a CJR piece on the disproportionate number of stories of the 2000th soldier dead during Iraq's consitution vote.

Though there's no doubt that the unceasingly violent insurgency and intractable ethnic divisions are still the most important stories coming out of Iraq [Ed.--See I'm not so sure about that "no doubt" thing...], critics who wonder why more positive political developments aren't getting even close to the same coverage have a legitimate point. A cursory, unscientific Lexis-Nexus-based study that we quickly conducted indicates that at least last week, they had a point. In the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times there was just one story each about the constitution passing. Whereas the 2,000 deaths story inspired three to four stories and a couple op-eds and editorials per paper.

One doesn't need to be a right-wing crusader to acknowledge that the constitution story is a significant one. Turnout was about 63 percent, an increase from the January election when 58 percent turned out, and this time many more Sunnis participated. And, given the atmosphere of extreme violence, for an Iraqi to stand in line to vote is an extraordinarily brave act.
CJR then links the right-wing Media Research Center's study on news balance :

Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. More than half of all stories (848, or 61%) focused on negative topics or presented a pessimistic analysis of the situation, four times as many as featured U.S. or Iraqi achievements or offered an optimistic assessment (just 211 stories, or 15%).

News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about a fifth of all network stories (21%) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation. By August and September, positive stories had fallen to a measly seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.

It goes on, and of course we don't know their methods, etc., but still. Anyway, back to CJR's piece:

Our biggest caveat about MRC's numbers is this: Balance does not require reporting an equal number of good acts and bad acts if you are in an arena where bad acts prevail. If you think it does, then you are one who is willing to sacrifice truth at the altar of balance. That way lies the meaningless path to the kind of he-said/she-said journalism that tells readers little and gets to the bottom of nothing.

Her italics. I don't know that I trust her judgment. I don't know that the bad acts are prevailing over the good acts. I don't know that at all, and I'm suspicious of reporters who assume that the bad acts are prevailing because some have admitted to being too scared to leave their Baghdad hotel rooms*, quite defensively I might add. And the fact that the turnout in the election was higher than the turnout in the last election makes me think that perhaps the bad acts are not prevailing. It's tough to know from here.
And we do not agree with the MRC that there is some kind of conspiracy at work here, or even an inherent bias -- unless it be the bias for drama and narrative. As Young, of the Globe has noted, all reporters, not just the ones in Iraq, find it tempting to place unfolding news within the framework of one dominant narrative, one that doesn't usually make much room for nuance. For a long time now that narrative has been that Iraq is a quagmire. And there is usually very little to counter this perception, what with car bombs going off and American soldiers dying almost every day.
I don't think it's a conspiracy either, but a swarm--a swarm of like-minded individuals drawn to the same type of work and telling the same type of story.
But this is not the whole story. A parallel narrative has it that the process of democratization in Iraq, halting and stumbling though it may be, is not just important, but may turn out to be historic. The press should not relegate that narrative to second fiddle just because it doesn't mesh with the daily death and destruction that we've sadly come to expect from an Iraq given over to savagery.
Well, thank you for that. And nice use of the passive voice "given over to savagery." How did they give themselves over to savagery? What superpower pushed them to the brink? Anyway, she tried.

*There's an unhappy backstory here that begins when Mark Yost, an editorialist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press pleaded with colleagues to write some positive stories about Iraq, the stories he was getting via email from his soldier buddies. His Royal Highness, Managing Editor of Columbia Journalism Review Steve "salivating morons" Lovelady, had, among other things to say, this:
Amazing. Mark Yost, an [editorial page] editor at Knight Ridder, the ONE news outlet which has consistently exposed the lies at the heart of the Iraq invasion and the grim reality of the current occupation, turns on his colleagues.

I can’t wait to see how the KR Washington bureau and the KR Iraq
contingent reponds to this one!

There he is, guys. Go get him. You owe your readers no less.

It is clear that being extremely mean will get you well positioned at CJR. Alas, I'll never be hired. Things got really ugly on Poynter. Jeff Jarvis offered to moderate--he has a round up of links, but the sharks were circling. I wonder what happened to Yost.