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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Monday, 2 February 2004

Topic: Bush

The natives are getting restless!

Let's see here... this fellow says Bush, when he took us to war, "oozed a smugness bred of incuriousness and an airy dismissal of dissent. He knew what he knew with such fiery certainty that even now he seems incapable of facing reality. He's like a kid who refuses to accept the fact that there is no Santa Claus."

Really now! It's another comment on Bush's establishing a commission to find out why he was fooled so badly by the spooks and spies. He's going to appoint the commissioners soon - Lord Hutton and Dennis Miller? Hey, how many suspects get to pick their own jury? Cool. The man has brass balls.

Worth a read:

Blame, Blindness . . .
Richard Cohen, The Washington Post, Tuesday, February 3, 2004; Page A19

And it ends with this:
But any truth commission worth its name would have to look beyond the government. It would be instructive to examine the yahoo mood that came over much of the nation once Bush decided to go to war. The decision -- its urgency -- seemed to come out of nowhere. Yet most of America fell into line, and in certain segments of the media, the Murdoch press above all, dissent was ridiculed. On Fox TV, France was called a member of the "axis of weasels" and antiwar demonstrators in Davos were disparaged as "knuckleheads." Colorful stuff, but wrong, irresponsible and craven.

I do not take myself off the hook. The mood got to me, too. And while I kept insisting that the Bush administration was exaggerating the case for war, was in too much of a hurry and was incapable of assembling a true coalition, I nevertheless went along with the program.

There is much cause for concern here. A consensus -- based on false facts, outright lies and exaggerated fears -- took over the nation. We didn't go on a bender, as we did after Pearl Harbor, and incarcerate a particular ethnic group, but we did go to war when we plainly did not have to. More than 500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis have died for a mistake. Peace has not been brought to the Middle East and America is not only no safer than it was, it may well be in even greater danger. This was no mere failure of intelligence. This was a failure of character.

Why? No newspaper column could provide all the answers. But we were clearly unnerved by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent -- and now mostly overlooked -- anthrax attacks, which disproportionately affected the news media. Saddam Hussein provided us with a nifty and useful personification of evil -- not to mention spurious links to al Qaeda. He was something familiar, Hitler and Stalin all over again. There was an understandable urge to settle some scores. Finally, though, there was smugness -- the sort of American exceptionalism that so rankles non-Americans. No one better exemplified that than Bush himself. He proclaimed a divine right to unilateralism, oozed a smugness bred of incuriousness and an airy dismissal of dissent. He knew what he knew with such fiery certainty that even now he seems incapable of facing reality. He's like a kid who refuses to accept the fact that there is no Santa Claus.

By all means, proceed with the independent commission. A huge mistake has been made, and we need to know why. But if for a moment we think that it was the CIA alone that took us to war, then we will have learned nothing from what happened. That would be the gravest intelligence failure of them all.
Oh yeah, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an editorial yesterday with the headline 'Whoops' doesn't work for wars - so I guess a few folks are getting a bit grumpy about things.

But a deeply frightened and angry population will still reelect (or elect) Bush by a landslide.

We're a forgiving people, even if a bit too smug for the French.

Too smug for the French? Now there's a switch! Oh, the irony!

And you will also note the Post item mentions that it "would be instructive to examine the yahoo mood that came over much of the nation." The use of "Yahoo" is curious. The term was first used by Jonathan Swift in Book Four of Gulliver's Travels - you could look it up. Read it carefully. But I have mentioned Swift far too often here.

Posted by Alan at 21:55 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2004 22:08 PST home

Topic: The Culture

Ah, a recent book I might need to read... on the importance of being dubious.

Check this out!

The Great Doubters and Their Legacy From Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
Jennifer Michael Hecht. HarperSanFrancisco. 551 pages $27.95

Reviewed in The Washington Post by Denis Dutton, Sunday, February 1, 2004; (Page BW04) - click here for the review. The Post tells me this Denis Dutton teaches philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He is a founder of the New Zealand Skeptics.

Yes, you can insert your New Zealand jokes here, regarding sheep or Peter Jackson and his hobbit movies filmed there. Yes, that's where the lesbian homoerotic "Xena: Princess Warrior" was filmed too. A country founded by Congregationalists. What a place.

Anyway, it is clear Dutton is aroused:
Psychologists know there are some self-ascriptions for which human beings are eternal suckers. The vast majority of people think they have a better-than-average sense of humor. Most of us fancy we are better drivers than others. And we almost all flatter ourselves that we are independent thinkers who don't accept others' claims without good proof. We see gullibility everywhere around us but never find it in ourselves. We are skeptics.

Jennifer Michael Hecht's historical survey of doubt shows how fallible this self-image is: Skeptical thinking is in fact so rare a trait one wonders how it got started at all.
Good point!

Apparently Hecht starts out with the pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece the guys that came up with odd conclusions: Thales thought everything was made of water; Anaximenes chose air. But Hecht likes them because of their "desire to find explanations that did not depend on the authority of a priestly class, sacred texts or mythological traditions."

Yep, rebels. Just like Jesus.

Say what?
We don't owe our modern skepticism just to the Greeks, however. Job and Ecclesiastes have an important place in the history of doubt, and so, incidentally, Hecht argues, does Jesus, both for the episode in Gethsemane and for his despairing last words on the cross. Her story progresses through Cicero, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius and Sextus Empiricus in Rome. A separate chapter treats the Buddha and skepticism as it developed in Asia. Hinduism, she shows, was developing a skeptical tradition at the same time the Greeks were having their first doubts about religion.
Okay. I'll grant her Buddha, and the rest. But the Jesus idea doesn't match what I hear from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Then it seems Hecht does a review of woman skeptics - from Hypatia, torn to pieces by a Christian mob in 415 AD - to Emily Dickinson and the fearless Margaret Sanger.

But here's Dutton's serious caveat regarding this Hecht book -
... the views of some of the doubters she praises became ossified into belief systems in need of more doubt. Sigmund Freud's critique of religion gets him onto Hecht's heroes list, and she also praises communism for the extent to which it provided a focused criticism of religion. Too bad she does not also describe how both Marx and Freud ended up creating dogmas that demanded a religious degree of faith from adherents. Freud may have claimed that a healthy, mature psyche needs to embrace disbelief, but he wasn't about to apply that principle to his own theories.
Yep, sometimes rebels get popular, then worshiped, then deified, then there's a problem. The same thing happens in music. Rebellious rock-and-roll get so popular it becomes mainstream, and then you hear it in commercials for mass-produced Japanese cars, or commercials for savings banks.

But much of the book seems to be about religious skepticism, not automobile sales. So what kind of skepticism is useful today?

I may be true that these days the power and prestige once vested in religion now belong to science. Dutton points out that Montaigne thought that disagreements among scientists showed that science was as much a cultural construction as religion, and ought therefore to be treated with skepticism. That makes sense to me.

If so, how does one deal with scientific disputes, like those about global warming?
What does Hecht's book tell us about how to resolve such an issue? Going by the examples she has amassed, we should openly question authority. But which authority? The well-qualified, pro-Kyoto climatologists who blame warming on CO2, or their well-qualified critics? They all have PhDs and teach at major universities. A vote of scientists is little help, since we know scientific majorities have been wrong in the past. But so have scientific minorities.
Yep, a problem.

Trust your instincts?

Dutton thinks so:
So if a sober, reliable friend tells you with apparent sincerity that he's been taken aboard a flying saucer, you have a choice: Either accept that flying saucers are real, or accept that your friend is less reliable than you thought. Rationality, Hume thought, demands that we choose the lesser of the two miracles. In most cases, this would have us questioning our sources, from the Old Testament to the National Enquirer to our friends, rather than throwing out what we know about the laws of nature or the likelihood of extraterrestrial visitations.
Ah yes. Consider the source. Always good advice.

Dutton does say it is clear from Hecht's history that religions have a knack for drawing vast, cosmic conclusions from scattered and marginal evidence, such as the dreams of seers or reports from ancient, uncorroborated texts. Religious believers form in-groups of people who think alike and validate one another's beliefs. Many believers are suckers for prophets of doom and are prone to witch-hunting to persecute apostates. Their passionate convictions mix weak facts with strong emotions. And through it all, each believer, no matter how fanatical, is certain of being an independent thinker.

Aren't we all?

Dutton claims Marxism used elements from this pattern, as have minor belief systems such as homeopathy and Freudianism. You can see aspects of it among political true believers from both left and right. Today, environmentalism is his pick as "the best candidate for a belief system needing dollops of the kind of doubt formerly applied to religion. Like most traditional religions, environmentalism can do a power of good. But watch out for the dodgy data and the hysterical insistence that, unless we repent and change our ways, we and our children are doomed."

Oh heck, we're all doomed anyway. But I doubt that.

Posted by Alan at 19:23 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Sunday, 1 February 2004

Topic: Photos

No entries today.
Or maybe not until late in the day.
I'm working on the parent magazine Just Above Sunset right now.
Visit your local newsstand.
This is mine.

Posted by Alan at 13:07 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 31 January 2004

Topic: Bush

Why George Should Call Lord Hutton and See If Hutton is Free Next Week

As I mentioned earlier, that David Kay fellow has testified that there actually seem to be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there probably hadn't been any for many years, and poor, innocent George Bush was misled by our intelligence folks - Tenet at the CIA and the like - and got suckered because he was so trusting.

It's not his fault! The poor guy trusted the wrong people.

How then, do you suppose the "intelligence community" - the spooks and spies - are going to react?

John le Carre, the British fellow who writes all that espionage fiction (and a former spy who's presumably in touch with his old colleagues) says this in his latest novel Absolute Friends: "The Iraq war was a criminal and immoral conspiracy. It was an old Colonial war dressed up as a crusade for Western life and liberty, and it was launched by a clique of war-hungry Judaeo-Christian geopolitical fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America's post-Nine Eleven psychopathy."

But he's just being grumpy. Perhaps.

A few days ago Lord Hutton found that Tony Blair hadn't misled the British people by "sexing up" the intelligence available on Iraq. Must have been those awful spy guys, and the BBC not being supportive enough of the government's position.

I suspect the Bush Administration, which doesn't want such an inquiry - or so they have said so far - if faced with pressure to give into an investigation of some sort, will, no doubt, ask if Lord Hutton is available. Hutton would help out, of course.

Hutton would again find that the Bush administration was just doing its best, and was being picked apart by the mean, awful press (except for Fox News). I mean, why can't the press recognize its place as an arm of those in power?

Well, to be fair, CBS is coming around, refusing to air the political advertisement during the Super Bowl. They'll give up the money. Won't touch it. Good little boys, they are.

But I digress. Shall we have an inquiry about the war we had - the war to remove threats that it seems we rather overestimated? I think the idea was that we were all going to die if we didn't act immediately - and the French, Germans, Chinese, Russians and most of the UN didn't "get it."

So we goofed. Shall we blame the spooks and spies?

You might want to read this:

Tinker, Tailor, Jurist, Spy
When it came to acting on intelligence about Iraq, there were none so blind as those who would not see
Christopher Dickey, NEWSWEEK (web only), January 30, 2004

Here's his take:
So the spooks are supposed to fall on their swords. In Washington and London, it's the spies who are taking the heat for all that wildly misleading stuff shoveled out of the White House and Downing Street stables about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But, you know, it's not just bad intelligence that got us into Iraq, it's bad judgment about the consequences of invading and occupying such a place. And for that the Bush and Blair administrations have no excuses.
And he goes on to concede that it was never a secret that Saddam was a genocidal megalomaniac who wanted WMD. The trick was always to balance the risks he posed against the risks of deposing him.

Well. get did get a little off track there. And maybe that's the real problem. We perhaps could not have really known about the weapons (maybe), but we should have know about the costs.
The current Bush administration simply, and willfully, ignored that aftermath problem, and that's the real reason for the mess we're in now. ... Millions of dollars were spent by the State Department's Future of Iraq Project in 2002, laying out just about all the post-invasion needs and difficulties. But during its plunge into Iraq, the Bush administration not only tossed away those findings, it excluded from the upper levels of the first transition team just about anyone who'd taken part in the State Department's studies.

"It was ideological," says an administration official who watched this spectacle from up close. "These guys convinced themselves this would be a one-week war, we'd be out of there by August, democracy would be in full bloom, [the Pentagon's favored exile leader Ahmed] Chalabi would recognize Israel and they'd all live happily ever after." If you were off message you were on the outs. "Anyone who disagreed with them didn't just have a different opinion," says this official, "they were considered wrong to the point of being evil."
Well, sure. No one likes a naysayer, a grouch who always looks at the negative side of things. Who needs defeatists?

I guess we did.

In 2002 the president's chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey made the mistake of giving congressional testimony that the Iraq operation might actually cost $100 billion to $200 billion - and at a time Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was talking something under $50 billion. Lindsey was soon out of a job. (And curiously there was word going around that Bush hated him anyway because Lindsey was so overweight - and Bush has no patience for folks with no self-discipline - so Bush wanted him out anyway.)

In February 2003, one year ago, a few weeks before the war, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki was asked at a Senate hearing how many troops he thought would be necessary to pacify Iraq after the war.

And what did the fool say?
"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."
What was this guy thinking?

As Dickey summarizes:
Perfectly reasonable, perfectly predictable, perfectly responsible - but not the kind of thing the Bush administration wanted to hear at all. General Shinseki, whose uniform, ribbons and stars testified to his expertise, was publicly rebuked by the Pentagon's civilian No. 2 , Paul Wolfowitz. The suit knew better. Such estimates, said Wolfowitz, were wildly "off the mark," and a figure of 100,000 was closer to the Pentagon's expectations.
Hey, Paul Wolfowitz studied under Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago and worked for the Rand Corporation. Who are you going to trust - him, or the general?

Well, we're at about 130,00 troops now. And things are just fine. Except for the borders being a bit porous, and the problem that even now Baghdad is without electricity for hours at a time, and the problem that our guys are dying every day with the roadside bombs and exploding pick-up trucks. And it's costing a billion a week. And we're saying no matter what our guys will have to be there for another three or four years. The suicide rate for our troops there is a but worrisome, yes, and moral is not helped by recent "stop-loss" orders meaning one cannot leave the military just yet - no matter what your papers say. And no Iraqis seem to be able to agree on any kind of government, and then there's the local ninety-percent unemployment rate. But not bad? Depends on whether you're a negative, defeatist sourpuss.

Was any of this predictable? Heck, who likes negative predictions?

So. If there has to be an inquiry about all this, should Bush call on Lord Hutton?

Hutton's report finds no fault with the Blair government in this case. Blair and his colleagues acted in good faith when they issued their we're-all-forty-five-minutes-from-death report on the evil weapons of mass destruction poised to end the good life in England's green and pleasant land. And as for what came after the war to get rid of these weapons? How could he have know?

So, George, blame the "intelligence community" for providing false information, and the other agencies for not saying how tough it was going to be once we took over control of Iraq. Who'd have thought that?

You say the problem is more and more folks are beginning to figure out you guys hyped the treat - in spite of warnings that a good part of the information was unsubstantiated, if not totally bogus? And folks can find out there is actual evidence you were given detailed explanations of what the post-war mess might be, and you laughed at the reports.

Yeah, you we're just being positive. A positive attitude is good.

But you'd better call Lord Hutton.

Posted by Alan at 14:49 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 30 January 2004

Topic: In these times...

At the end of an odd week one wonders if this age will produce another Jonathan Swift - or NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED, OR WISH YOU HAD MISSED

As the week ends some things have been bothering me. My friend in Paris, Ric, tells me I'm getting a bit angry. Maybe so. I suspect my tone is changing. Do I need to toss a nod to the other side? No. Enough is enough. Angry will do.

As I mentioned previously, my graduate work was on the satires of Jonathan Swift. His attitude must have rubbed off on me. But he was "ironically reasonable" more than he was angry - or the irony masked the deep anger.

Well, being ironically reasonable, and not directly angry, was fine for Swift. He dealt with the dumb-as-a-post Queen Anne. And with Robert Walpole, not a nice man, but one with a veneer of civility, however thin.

The current crew in power? They do not deserve the irony any longer. Bah. And humbug.

Swift got pissed at the fact children were starving in Ireland, and with the Wood's Coinage issue. Were Swift alive today?

He'd look at David Kay's testimony to congress on the problem with there being no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That has a generated lot of coverage and comment. The Kay fellow is saying there be no weapons of mass destruction (oops, my bad) and poor, innocent Bush was misled by our intelligence folks - Tenet at the CIA and the like - and got suckered because he was so trusting. It's not his fault! The poor guy trusted the wrong people.

This is absolute bullshit.

Here is an extensive chronology of how the Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that SAID its case for war was weak - see this - all sources available publicly. They told him. It's on record.

Ah, but Bush doesn't read much. He's proud of that.

So he probably really didn't know they were telling him a lot of the information ranged from questionable to flatly bogus. Yeah, someone might have told him, of course.

Oh well.

They'd have long ago impeached Clinton seven times over for this kind of crap.

Bush gets a pass because the common man likes him - he's inarticulate and mean-spirited and a bully. The electorate loves that - he's the living embodiment of Bart Simpson and Nelson Muntz blended together, but you have to watch the Simpsons to get that reference. The guy alternates between the diplomatic/political equivalent of saying "Eat my shorts!" and "Ha, Ha." A limited range of discourse....

Or as Paul Krugman put in the New York Times Friday:
Surely even supporters of the Iraq war must be dismayed by the administration's reaction to David Kay's recent statements. Iraq, he now admits, didn't have W.M.D., or even active programs to produce such weapons. Those much-ridiculed U.N. inspectors were right. (But Hans Blix appears to have gone down the memory hole. On Tuesday Mr. Bush declared that the war was justified -- under U.N. Resolution 1441, no less -- because Saddam "did not let us in.")

So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush -- and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry.

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure intelligence failure. I don't buy it: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and former officials warned of politicized intelligence during the war buildup. (Yes, the Hutton report gave Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people -- including a majority of the British public, according to polls -- regard that report as a whitewash.)

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged - and nobody is being held accountable. But that's standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely punished for telling inconvenient truths. And administration officials have consistently sought to freeze out, undermine or intimidate anyone who might try to check up on their performance.
Huh? Would these guys really "freeze out, undermine or intimidate" folks who disagree. Oh yeah, Joe Wilson's wife and all that.

And of course the commission investigating what might have gone wrong that allowed the September 11 attacks to happen has asked for two more months to wrap up their work. The administration is vigorously opposing that. Nothing to see here folks, move on, move on.... No one to blame, really.

Investigate how we got the weapons in Iraq thing all wrong? The administration says that's not really necessary. We we just mistaken - duped by the CIA and those spy folks. Nothing to see here folks, move on, move on....

Shall we be angry then, or ironic?


And then there is another item with which Swift would have fun, another oops-not-quite-so...

Medicare Drug Benefit Plan to Far Exceed Cost Estimate
The revised $534-billion price tag is expected to renew debate over the landmark legislation.
Vicki Kemper, The Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2004
WASHINGTON - The Medicare overhaul that gave a prescription drug benefit to seniors will cost at least $134 billion more than the $400-billion price tag President Bush and Congress agreed to last year, administration officials and congressional aides said Thursday.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the revised estimate was the product of calculations completed after Bush signed the measure into law last month.

Liberals and conservatives who opposed the bill during debates in Congress are likely to renew their arguments in light of the higher cost.

Conservatives said that the legislation, even at $400 billion over 10 years, was too expensive in an era of rising deficits.

Liberals said the bill gave too much money to private corporations, in part because of a provision for payments to insurance companies to encourage them to offer affordable policies to seniors.

The bill passed the Senate largely along party lines.
No kidding.

Oops, fooled again.


And Swift would get this:

Pentagon seeks big hike for missile defense in $401 billion budget request
Pauline Jelinek, ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4:36 p.m. January 30, 2004
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is seeking a big increase in spending for missile defense next year, setting the program on course to have a bare-bones system in place by the end of this year and up to 30 interceptors on land and at sea by the end of 2005.

The money is part of a proposed $401.7 billion Pentagon budget that doesn't include money for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials last year went back to Congress for $87 billion beyond their budget to fund those missions, and documents obtained by The Associated Press show they expect to have to ask for money beyond this new budget as well.

The documents say they don't expect to do that until calendar year 2005, after November's presidential election.
The only problem is it doesn't work. Not one test has been successful.

Build it anyway? See Gulliver's Travels, Book Three.


And Dean Swift was always working to shame the powers that be into doing something for the poor and demoralized and exploited folks. So what would he say to this?

Record Number to Run Out of Unemployment Benefits
Kirstin Downey, The Washington Post, Friday, January 30, 2004; Page A05
A record-high 375,000 jobless workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance this month and an estimated 2 million workers will find themselves in the same predicament during the first half of the year, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The report from the center, a liberal research and policy group, found that in the first six months of the year, about 5,800 jobless workers in the District of Columbia, 20,200 in Maryland and 29,600 in Virginia will run out of unemployment benefits unless they find new jobs or get additional government help.

The jobless recovery has become an issue in this presidential election year, and the report shows the jobless benefits will run out for large numbers of workers in several key states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.

While the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent in December, down from 6.3 percent in June, businesses added only 1,000 jobs that month. The country has lost more than 2.8 million manufacturing jobs in a steady erosion over the past 41 months.

Congress voted in 2002 to give unemployed workers an additional 13 weeks of benefits and extended the program twice. But it expired just before Christmas. Congressional Republicans said another extension wasn't necessary because the economy was gaining strength and job growth was near at hand.
Yeah, so nearly three million folks are supposed to feel good that something or other is near at hand.

Hey, it isn't near at hand. Wake up.

And can this all be fixed?

Republicans fight Bush budget plan
Lawmakers say Bush's plan will mean painful cuts and will barely dent the deficit.
Reuters, January 29, 2004: 3:44 PM EST
WASHINGTON - President Bush's plans to sharply limit some federal spending next year will barely dent the deficit but could mean painful cuts in programs ranging from veterans' health to medical research, Republican lawmakers who oversee the spending process warned Thursday.

Bush will send his fiscal 2005 budget to Congress Monday. In it, he will propose limiting the growth in federal discretionary spending outside of defense and homeland security to about 0.5 percent - far less than the rate of inflation.
Oh yeah, lower taxes mean lower revenues, and not much money for keeping things going as they were.


Then what would a good satirist do with this from Georgia?

The state's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time." (according to CNN)

And according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia has a new high school history curriculum proposal too. In the proposed changes, teachers will spend two or three weeks discussing the foundation of our country, with the remaining time devoted to studying events from 1876 to the present. Yep, no discussion of the Civil War; that topic is off limits. In a course entitled "American History," students will not study that. There is no mention of Fort Sumter, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee or anything else associated with those years.

Geez, when I lived in North Carolina the kids were taught about "the late unpleasantness between the states." It wasn't a "civil war" really - but it happened.

No, it's hard to make this into satire. It stands by itself and needs no embellishment.


And you might want to read a few opinions from Townhall - the site that gathers essays from thinkers on the right, every single day.

Try these out.

The other America
Rich Lowry, January 29, 2004

The argument? In reality, there are two Americas: one hardworking, married, and paying taxes; and one lazy, having illegitimate babies, and in need of a kick in the ass so it will stop making us taxpayers support it.
Poverty in America is primarily a cultural phenomenon, driven by a shattered work ethic and sexual irresponsibility.

... According to the Heritage Foundation's welfare expert Robert Rector, the typical poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work annually, or about 16 hours a week. This number holds in good economic times and bad, because it is a factor of attitudes toward work rather than the availability of jobs. If the amount of work in these households were equivalent to one adult working 40 hours a week, roughly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of poverty.

... The problem is not, as liberals argue, low wages. If you are only working 16 hours a week, you will pretty much be poor unless you're a TV anchor. Raising the minimum wage isn't going to help someone working so few hours. It is the amount of work that matters. If a single mother works full time at the minimum wage -- factoring in such income supplements as the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps -- she will not be poor.
Heard it before. Click on the link for the whole thing.

Oh, and this:

Emmett Tyrrell, January 29, 2004
The argument? Palm Beach County is oppressing Rush Limbaugh, and nobody cares, and yes, the Founding Fathers would be outraged!
...The harassment of Limbaugh provides another unlovely glimpse into the workings of the liberal elites. From the days of FDR, they have used the law to persecute political opponents. FDR used the IRS and FBI against such an array of opponents from former Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, to publishers Moses Annenberg and Col. Robert R. McCormick, to labor leader John L. Lewis. All were innocent. Limbaugh is in good company.

... it is repulsive to see the rest of the press sitting quietly by. That Limbaugh, a first offender and recovering addict to pain killers rather than street drugs, is being unfairly harassed is clear to anyone but a political zealot. Conceivably, his harassment will end in court appearances and even a jail term. Will that please his opponents? "We got Limbaugh on an OxyContin charge." It might be a first.

Yeah, I'm paying too much attention to the news and what people say about how things should be.

I think I'll pull down Swift's Tale of a Tub and read the "Digression on Madness" again.

Posted by Alan at 18:25 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2004 21:10 PST home

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