Friday, July 02, 2004

So long, and thanks...

Just two nights ago I saw the 1990 film "The Freshman" on HBO (a very funny film - look for it) and was reminded how wonderful an actor Marlon Brando is. A very large asshole, much of the time - but what an incredible actor.

Marlon Brando passed away yesterday, July 1, in L.A. He was 80. I'll miss him, big time.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Our High-toned Conservative Media

The right-wing is constantly accusing liberals of debasing political discourse, via hateful screeds, ad hominem attacks, and outright lies. But that's because what they expect liberals to be is their mirror-twins. What they're actually seeing is just their own reflections in the mirror.

Here's a stellar example of carefully considered conservative thought, from the op-ed page of the Moonie Washington Times:
One reason is that it's too blindingly obvious that Mr. Clinton's book should have been titled "My Lie." All of that stuff about Hillary being mad, making him sleep on the couch, going to marriage counselors for a year, yada yada, is all made up. They have had a pact for decades: He gets to fool around with women, and she gets to fool around with women (plus the occasional man like Vince Foster).
Yes, she's bisexual — I disclosed that in an infamous Strategic Investment column in January 1993, and Dick Morris publicly revealed it a few years ago. You knew that, right?
The good news is that "My Lie" is going to sink without a trace upon the November election. One reason is that women can swoon over Slick Willie but they sure can't over Hanoi John. Mr. Clinton plays the charmingly lovable rogue who can lie through his teeth and get away with it. There is nothing lovable about John Kerry — pompous, arrogant, stentorian, pretentious and so un-handsome he looks like a cross between Herman Munster and Gomer Pyle.
Ahh, dontcha love well-reasoned, insightful political analysis?

This is on the heels of Nicholas Kristof's column in yesterday's New York Times, where he sets the winger's claims that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster at the same level as Michael Moore's (and many other liberals) claims that Bush's justifications for war were lies. Sorry, Nick - but calling someone a liar is hardly the same as accusing him of being a murderer. A lack of nuance? Okay, there are spots where "lie" is arguable ... but rarely where the claims are demonstrably false. And many of the "lie" claims are, in fact, demonstrably accurate.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Conspiracy Theories R Us - Run-up to the October Surprise?

Contingency plans, in case the situation looks too good for Kerry as election day approaches:
The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.

Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns.

Full Sovereignty my ass

Financial Times via Atrios:
Iyad Akmush Kanum, 23, learnt the limits of sovereignty on Monday when US prosecutors refused to uphold an Iraqi judges' order acquitting him of attempted murder of coalition troops.

US prosecutors said that he was being returned to the controversial Abu Ghraib prison because under the Geneva Conventions they were not bound by Iraqi law.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"Millionaire Tax" - Big F'ing Whoop

So Governor McGreevey signed off on the bill raising the income tax, proceeds of which are to be used for what he (apparently without intending a joke) calls "property tax relief." I don't see any relief in the state collecting more income tax while the local taxing authorities continue to levy the same exorbitantly high property taxes. So what if the state sends out so-called rebate checks? It doesn't ease the tax burden on anyone - my monthly nut doesn't go down at all. If a homewowner is hard-pressed to pay their mortgage and carrying charges today, they'll be no less stressed tomorrow. It helps me not at all to get a once-a-year, not-very-large, "rebate" check. And never mind the likes of me ... if living-on-a-fixed-income seniors are being taxed out of their homes by rising municipal and school budgets, no check from Trenton is going to help them pay their tax bills.

If McGreevey, Codey, and company really want to ease the property-tax burden on us home-owners, they'll pass that new tax revenue directly to Boards of Education, City Councils, Township Committees, Trustees, and the rest of the several thousand local taxing authorities in New Jersey. Designate it as a direct offset against property taxes, so the rates can go down - giving us all relief, every month, when those mortgage/escrow bills are due.

I certainly won't tear up that check, Mr. Governor, but if you wanted to help stressed property owners, this ain't gonna do it.

BOE Strategic Planning - let YOUR opinion be heard

After their kick-off meetings of a couple weeks ago, the South Orange/Maplewood School District is in the midst of setting up committees to actually formulate their strategies for the medium/long term. They are very definitely seeking participation by the public.

If you are even half-way interested in what the school district is up to (and if you're a property-tax payer and NOT interested, shame on you), you really ought to sign up ... they really DO want community participation. After all, if the public doesn't buy in on the direction the school board plans to take the district, it will be well-nigh impossible to convince anyone that their tax burden is worth it.

Gov. McGreevey, Senate President Dick Codey et al. have to be shown that doing nothing (their preferred solution re: property taxes) is worse for them than adressing the issue head on. Until then, priority-setting is going to be VERY important for school boards who have to negotiate the pitfalls of deciding where they can get the most bang for the least buck. You might as well help them do that, by bringing your own needs and desires forward, and hearing what your neighbors' wants and needs are.

The best way to get involved is to go to the school district website, download the info/signup sheet, print it, fill out the form to volunteer, and fax it in to Asst. Superintenent James Corino. The deadline is tomorrow, so do it NOW.

Even Jesse recognizes the bad smell in the room

From The Washington Post via Atrios:
"I would not have voted for [President Bush's] tax cut, based on what I know. . . . There is no doubt that the people at the top who need a tax break the least will get the most benefit. . . . Too often presidents do things that don't end up helping the people they should be helping, and their staffs won't tell them their actions stink on ice."

-- Former senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), in a recent interview with Business North Carolina magazine.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Juan Cole on The Patriot Act
In his review of Fahrenheit 9/11, Juan Cole has some trenchant observations on the Patriot Act.
The interview with Michigan congressman John Conyers in which Conyers reveals that no one in Congress was allowed to read the Patriot Act before voting on it was breathtaking. I recently sat next to Conyers on a plane, and he explained to me that the final version of the bill, which had been very extensively changed, was delivered the night before the vote. He said it wasn't strange for a few minor changes to be made at such a late stage, but that it was his impression that virtually a new bill was dropped on the hapless Congress at the last moment. It is huge, and would have been impossible to read all the way through with attention under those circumstances.

The Patriot Act is so radical a departure from the American Civil Liberties tradition that if its most radical provisions are made permanent, as Bush desires, I think it would be legitimate to date from 2001 the Second American Republic. It is a much impoverished republic compared to the first, and ominously intertwined with Imperial themes. If Moore makes anyone angry about anything, I hope it is this.
That fits with what I've been thinking about the state of American democracy, sad to say. I haven't seen a Michael Moore film since "Roger and Me," and didn't care for "TV Nation," but if Moore can effectively make this point to enough people, his excesses may be worth it. I'm beginning to get psych'ed to go see "Fahrenheit 9/11" myself.

Two days early, Paul Bremer and the suits turned over the keys and skedaddled, leaving behind 160,000 uniformed soldiers and a "sovereign" country with no security, no infrastructure, and no government to speak of. We HAVE left Iraq a nice legacy - thousands of dead, millions of spent depleted-uranium shells, and a nice supply of newly minted terrorists.

With John Negroponte as our diplomatic presence in Baghdad, how long will it be before the newly empowered Baathists start forming death squads to keep the Shi'a in line?

Mission accomplished!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 pulling 'em in

Michael Moore may be a propagandist, and he certainly doesn't speak for all Americans, but he really seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist. And hit the motherlode.

'Fahrenheit 9/11' a No. 1 Hit Across America

Maureen Dowd on Mr. Big Time Vice
One thing you've got to say for Dick Cheney: No one will ever again dismiss the vice presidency as a pitcher of warm spit. Mr. Major League Potty Mouth has shown that, with obsequiousness to the president and obtuseness to the facts, a vice president can run the world. Right into the ground.
Go read...(free registration blah blah blah)

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