Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


In the comments, in reference to You Do Not Own Their Courage, it was stated:
We never claimed to own it...but too many on the other side doubted it existed, and those of us who said it did have difficulty not saying, "I told you so."
But Bush never said we should invade Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people. We never heard great speeches on freedom, democracy and giving the people in Iraq the chance to vote. What we were told was Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, that we knew he was working on nuclear weapons, that he was giving these weapons to the terrorists, that if we didn't strike immediately we might see a mushroom cloud on American soil. Heck, and before that we were told the vote to authorize war was a vote to get weapon inspectors back in Iraq so we might be able to avoid war.

If this war was all about freeing some people on the other side of the world from a dictator and giving those people a chance to vote, great. Then why Iraq? Why not, say, the continent of Africa? Or one of dozens of other dictatorships around the world. Hell, why not Cuba? That would be popular in Florida. Don't tell us you "told us so", you said no such thing. This is rewriting history. In case any one forgets, real history shows there were no weapons of mass destruction and no Al Qaeda links.
I'd be interested to see the evidence of "lying", aside from statements proved wrong later. Lying involves an intent to deceive and a knowledge that the statement is not true. If I change my mind and become an evolutionist, was I lying when I said evolution isn't true? Or was I just making the best call based upon the info I had?
There's actually a fun little site where you can search a database for conservative lies. (I'm sure there's one for liberal lies out there somewhere, but I didn't look for one.) Select the person and the topic and out pops a bunch of lies and the conflicting truth, almost always with links to the transcripts and news stories.

I'll post a few quotes at the end, but really, the details hardly matter. We all know we can cherry pick quotes from politicians, compare those quotes to some news source and make them look like liars. I bet most of us realize virtually all of them lie from time to time, or at least stretch the truth as they see convenient. I'm an extremely honest person, but sometimes I'll read something I wrote and notice it implies something I really didn't mean to imply. So while these quotes are good examples of lying, they really don't tell the big picture and why I think "lie" is the correct word to use about the lead-up to war.

Even the staunchest hawk must realize the Bush administration was in full sales mode before the war. They went to great lengths and great depths to justify the upcoming war to congress and the American people while at the same time claiming that war wasn't inevitable and could still be avoided. Every shred of evidence, no matter how unsupported, no matter how many in the intelligence community thought it meaningless, was waved in front of us as proof of the need for war. Now, you may think such a full court press was necessary and justified, but please don't call it honest, and you may think those that spun all this information were doing it with the best of intentions, but please don't think they were looking for a fair debate of all the available data. They spun absolutely everything to sell this unpopular war -- and it was unpopular until the day we fired the first shot and everyone rallied around the troops -- and honesty was not their biggest concern. When it suit them, they lied.

And the gutless Democrats rolled over. And the so called "liberal media" ate it up. This was before Air America and before I knew about blogs. Back then I could only find two voices in all of TV Land, two talking heads that actually questioned the president: Jon Stewart and Wesley Clark. Everyone else, everyone just played along unquestioningly.

Anyway, here are some quotes of what I would call lies. Perhaps some people have a loser definition of honesty than I have, but I call them lies:
Topic:  Weapons of Mass Destruction

Speaker:  Rice, Condoleezza - National Security Advisor

Date:  9/10/2002

“We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.” [Source: Telegraph]

“We have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.” - Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, 10/2/03

Reference  Reference  
Topic:  Weapons of Mass Destruction

Speaker:  Rice, Condoleezza - National Security Advisor

Date:  9/8/2002

"[The tubes] are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." [Source: CNN]

"Ms. Rice's staff had been told [in 2001] that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons…The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets." - New York Times, 10/3/04

Reference  Reference  
Topic:  Weapons of Mass Destruction

Speaker:  Bush, George - President

Date:  10/7/2002

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States." [Source: White House Web site]

According to The Washington Post, Robert Boyd, the U.S. Air Force's senior intelligence analyst, has concluded that evidence uncovered in Iraq confirms the Air Force's prewar assessment that Iraq had been developing unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to fly reconnaissance missions, not to deliver WMDs. - Washington Post, 9/27/03

Reference  Reference  Reference
Topic:  Iraq - Pre-Invasion

Speaker:  Bush, George - President

Date:  10/22/2003

"I made it clear that a [diplomatic] process had gone on way before I made the decision to use military force.” [Source: White House Web site]

According to Bush’s State Department Director of Policy and Planning Richard Haas, the decision to go to war had been made by July of 2002 – 8 months before the invasion.  When asked whether there was a particular moment when he realized war in Iraq was definite, Haas said, “The moment was the first week of July (2002), when I had a meeting with Condi…She said, essentially, that that decision's been made, don't waste your breath.” - New Yorker, 3/31/03

Time reported in May (2002) that in late March of 2002 Vice President Dick Cheney told Senators “The question was no longer if the U.S. would attack Iraq...The only question was when." - Time, 5/6/02
Reference  Reference  
Topic:  Iraq - Pre-Invasion

Speaker:  Rice, Condoleezza - National Security Advisor

Date:  4/18/2004

"Resources were not taken from Afghanistan" [Source: CBS Face the Nation transcript]

"In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.
The CIA, meanwhile, was stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan. When the White House raised a new priority, it took specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered." - USA Today, 3/28/04

Reference  Reference  
Topic:  Iraq - Al Qaeda Links

Speaker:  Rice, Condoleezza - National Security Advisor

Date:  9/7/2003

"And there was an Ansar al-Islam, which appears also to try to be operating in Iraq. So yes, the al Qaeda link was there." [Source: Fox News Sunday transcript]

Ansar al-Islam was based in the Kurdish area of Iraq beyond Saddam Hussein's control. - Waxman Report

Reference   Reference  
That previous one is among my 'favorite' ever. Ansar al-Islam was in a the northern no-fly zone, quasi under U.S. control. Much of the link to Al Qaeda was due to Abu Musab Zarqawi. Bush had the opportunity to take out Zarqawi, but choose not to do so. In a very real way, there is a stronger case to be made for an American/Al Qaeda relationship than any with Iraq. (Not really, of course, but it gives you an idea of how sketchy the information was, yet it was promoted as solid fact.)
Topic:  Iraq - Al Qaeda Links

Speaker:  Cheney, Dick - Vice President

Date:  10/9/2003

"[Hussein] also had an established relationship to al Qaeda, providing training to al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons, gases and making conventional bombs." [Source: Boston Globe]

"The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track Al Qaeda told reporters that his team had found no evidence linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.” - NY Times, 6/27/03

"Nearly a year after U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq, no evidence has turned up to verify allegations of Saddam's links with al-Qaida, and several key parts of the administration's case have either proved false or seem increasingly doubtful. Senior U.S. officials now say there never was any evidence that Saddam's secular police state and Osama bin Laden's Islamic terrorism network were in league." - Knight-Ridder, 3/02/04

And for good measure, something slightly more recent...
Topic:  Iraq - Al Qaeda Links

Speaker:  Cheney, Dick - Vice President

Date:  10/5/2004

"The senator's got his fact wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." [Source: Debate transcript]

"I think it's not surprising that people make that connection [between Saddam and 9/11]." - Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03

"[It's] been pretty well confirmed, that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack." - Vice President Cheney, 12/9/01

"Now [in Iraq] we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03
Reference  Reference  Reference

Lunchtime Listening


General Wesley Clark

[ Listen ]

In his book, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire (Public Affairs), new in paperback, four-star General Clark explores what he sees as mistakes that were made in the war in Iraq, from faulty pre-war planning to failure to fight hard enough for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi civilian population. Moreover, he questions whether attacking Iraq was essential for American security and stresses that a new approach to winning the peace in Iraq is urgently needed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

You Do Not Own Their Courage

This is worth repeating verbatim, from Charles Pierce via Atrios.
You do not own their courage.

The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line in order to justify the dereliction of a kept press. They did not stand in line to make right the wrongs born out of laziness, cowardice, and the easy acceptance of casual lying. They did not stand in line for anyone's grand designs. They did not stand in line to play pawns in anyone's great game, so you don't own their courage, you guys in the PNAC gallery.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to provide American dilettantes with easy rhetorical weapons, so you don't own their courage, Glenn Reynolds, with your cornpone McCarran act out of the bowels of a great university that deserves a helluva lot better than your sorry hide. They did not stand in line to be the instruments of tawdry vilification and triumphal hooting from bloghound commandos. They did not stand in line to become useful cudgels for cheap American political thuggery, so you don't own their courage, Freeper Nation.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.

You do not own their courage.
I want to be proven wrong about Iraq. I want the good stuff like last weekend's vote to outweigh all the bad stuff. But just as the existence of bad stuff doesn't probe the war wrong, the existence of good stuff doesn't prove the war correct.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Programming Languages

You'll have to be a computer geek to find these funny, but here is a quick summery of various computer languages with several goofy quotes.
I conclude that there are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiences.
APL, in which you can write a program to simulate shuffling a deck of cards and then dealing them out to several players in four characters, none of which appear on a standard keyboard.
It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.

BASIC is to computer languages what Roman numerals are to arithmetic.
C: A language that combines all the elegance and power of assembly language with all the readability and maintainability of assembly language.

... one of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.
C++: an octopus made by nailing extra legs onto a dog
The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense.
If you learn the "Forth way" "correctly", you will grok in fullness procedural programming, without getting hung up in the irrelevant incidentals of syntax.
Consistently separating words by spaces became a general custom about the tenth century A.D., and lasted until about 1957, when FORTRAN abandoned the practice.

If a variable is not declared, it is implicitly given a type based on its first letter (I to N being integers, the rest floats), which led to the famous story of losing a spacecraft.

The primary purpose of the DATA statement is to give names to constants; instead of referring to PI as 3.141592653589793 at every appearance, the variable PI can be given that value with a DATA statement and used instead of the longer form of the constant. This also simplifies modifying the program, should the value of PI change.
-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox computers
If you learn Lisp correctly, you can grok all programming styles with it: procedural, OO, predicate, functional, pure or full of side-effects. Recursion will be your friend, function references your allies, you will truly know what a closure is, and that an argument stack is actually a performance hack. You will see that the most elegant way to solve a problem is to create a custom language, solve the generic problem, and have your specific one fall out as a special case. You will learn to truly separate intent from the bare metal, and you will finally understand the two deepest secrets, which are really the same secret, which we tell all, but so few understand, that code and data are the same thing, but organize your data and your code will follow.
Python is executable pseudocode. Perl is executable line noise.
"How many Prolog programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?"

Lunchtime Reading

"Today's Fiscal Policy is Unsustainable," claims the newest GAO report
Simply put, our nation’s fiscal policy is on an unsustainable course. As long-term budget simulations by GAO, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and others show, over the long term we face a large and growing structural deficit due primarily to known demographic trends and rising health care costs. Continuing on this unsustainable fiscal path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately our national security. Our current path also will increasingly constrain our ability to address emerging and unexpected budgetary needs.
Privatization Private accounts Personal accounts transitional costs prepaying may be trillions of dollars nothing worth talking about.

Should Bush publicly stand up for the rights of Jordanians to criticize America? Matt thinks so.

Science Versus Norse Mythology

Ok, this is funny...

From Pharyngula, which also features the best gimmick on the net, Pirate Pharyngula. Arrr!

Monday, January 31, 2005

Dr. Dobson

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit and has entries on almost everything. As time goes by I've been amazed how many google searches end up at Wikipedia. Now the blogger who goes by the name Hammertime and I have had many conversations over the past month or two; we disagree on virtually everything, but we get along reasonably well because we've convinced each other our hearts are in the right place (even if he is a terribly misguided conservative enslaved to tradition, unable to see the value in loving, caring couples different than himself). Anyway, Hammertime is a big Dr. James Dobson fan so I thought I'd point out Dobson has a page over at Wikipedia he might want to edit. Here is what it says:
Dobson advocates the spanking of children from 15-18 months to eight years old. According to Dobson, "pain is a marvelous purifier." (Dare to Discipline, p.6) He argues that "it is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely." (Ibid., p.7.)

In The Strong-Willed Child (p.73), Dobson writes: "Some strong-willed children absolutely demand to be spanked, and their wishes should be granted." As for the magnitude of the spanking, he argues that "two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, 'You must obey me.'" (The Strong-Willed Child, pp. 53-4.)

Dobson directly connects parental authority to social authority: "By learning to yield to the loving authority...of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life -- his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers." (The Strong-Willed Child, p. 235.)

He frequently portrays the child as the natural enemy of the parent and emphasizes that it is necessary to punish the child to uphold parental authority. "When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively." (Dare to Discipline, p. 36.)

In The Strong-Willed Child, Dobson draws a strong analogy between child rearing and dog rearing. He tells a story in which the family dog refuses to leave his resting place on the lid of the toilet seat. According to Dobson, a "vicious fight" between him and the dog resulted in which he "fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt [sic]." He concludes that "just as surely as a dog will occasionally challenge the authority of his leaders, so will a little child--only more so." (emphasis Dobson)

To deal with crying, Dobson recommends: "Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears."

Anti-spanking groups have criticized Dobson's views as highly simplistic and dangerous to children.
Other than family.org itself, I believe all the links are to anti-Dobson sites. I have no idea if these quotes are accurate, in context or genuine examples Dobson's view on raising children. If Hammertime or anyone else wants to write a rebuttal, I'll link to it and quote it here.

UPDATE: Hammertime's rebuttal:
As I am at work, D2D is not with me, so I stopped by the library...it doesn't even have a page 6 with text on it. Or a page 7 with text, for that matter. I read the first two chapters and couldn't find those, either. I'll check my edition at home, which is updated.

The last comment has no reference - likely another fake.

I have read "The Strong Willed Child" and would not characterize it as ever portraying the child as the enemy of the parent, ever. Nor does "win decisively" mean "hit the child". An example is when my child argues about a restriction, I increase it. The child is not spanked, and he loses, and therefore learns that continued resistance to authority has negative consequences. Perhaps you think I should teach him to argue until he is blue in the face - insted I provide him with a known boundary that he tends to not cross.

He does get to voice his opinion on the issue, once. When he has said his piece, we acknowledge it and make the final decision

Free Market, Free Trade, Free Thought

Robert Wright at the NY Times articulates what I've been thinking for a long time, but could never quite put my finger on well enough to describe. Basically, Bush doesn't have faith in the power of free markets, free trade and democracy. He talks about it, but he thinks it is something that must be delivered by the might of the sword, a gift from the powerful elite to the little people.
Critics on the left and right warned against grounding foreign policy in such naïve optimism (a world without tyrants?) and such unbounded faith.

But the problem with the speech is actually the opposite. Mr. Bush has too little hope, and too little faith. He underestimates the impetus behind freedom and so doesn't see how powerfully it imparts a "visible direction" to history. This lack of faith helps explain some of his biggest foreign policy failures and suggests that there are more to come.

Oddly, the underlying problem is that this Republican president doesn't appreciate free markets. Mr. Bush doesn't see how capitalism helps drive history toward freedom via an algorithm that for all we know is divinely designed and is in any event awesomely elegant. Namely: Capitalism's pre-eminence as a wealth generator means that every tyrant has to either embrace free markets or fall slowly into economic oblivion; but for markets to work, citizens need access to information technology and the freedom to use it - and that means having political power.
Give history some guidance, but resist the flattering delusion that you're its pilot. Don't take military and economic weapons off the table, but appreciate how sparingly you can use them when the architect of history is on your side. Have a little faith.
Digby chimes in with:
There was a time, lo these many years ago (back in the 90's) when most people understood that globalization was a huge transition with lots of unintended consequences we need to be aware of and deal with, but it was inevitable and also held out a huge promise of progress for freedom, liberty and deomcracy and all that gooey good stuff our Preznit loves to talk about. The thinking went that capitalism held the keys to liberation and that while we were embarking on a somewhat unknown track, we had faith that our economic and political systems would win out as long as we were engaged.

Then along came 9/11 and "changed everything." The PNAC neocon crowd, who had always dissented from that argument, held sway with their belief that the US had to expand its influence through the use of hard power and force the gooey good stuff because otherwise it wouldn't happen.

They did not understand that it's our "idea" that is the compelling thing, not our awesome military and economic might, which exists not to spread freedom but to protect it. They have faith in their own ideology and their own power, but they have no faith in what this country stands for. Their reliance on things like torture bears that out. That is the fundamental error.
For a free trade liberal like myself the frustration with Bush has almost been unbearable. This Project put together to insure a New American Century, in my opinion, is insuring the opposite. For those that don't know about PNAC, here is the web site. Here is the Statement of Principles written by the group back in 1997; see if you recognize any of the members. Here is the letter on Iraq they sent to Clinton back in 1998; see how much 9/11 "changed everything" in their world view. Not much.

Basically, these guys are a bunch of paranoid cowards who think the world is gonna get'um unless they shoot first. To them, 9/11 confirmed their worst nightmares. But they have no faith in ordinary people, only the all powerful state, which is why they just can't get their minds around the fact 9/11 was caused by a few fanatics unconnected to any state power. It also explains why they don't trust the power of open markets and free trade to promote liberty and bring down tyrants. American conservatives usually believe in all this stuff, after all it is largely the liberal American heritage of the Enlightenment they are conserving. Perhaps this is the difference between a conservative and a neoconservative.

Election Goes On the 'Benefit' side

I opposed the invasion of Iraq for the most heartless of reasons; when looking at the costs and benefits of the war I thought the costs greatly outweighed the benefits. So far I believe history shows me correct, Bin Laden is now a hero in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the Middle East is less stable, our military has been decimated (we have virtually no ability to respond right now), our strong power has demonstrated its weakness and our soft power largely dissipated into the wind.

But make no mistake, when comparing the costs and benifits, a free and democratic Iraq weighed heavily on the 'benefit' side of the ledger. Of course, we don't have that yet, but yesterday's election was a fantastic step in that direction. Best of all, it gives us one last honeymoon period to get the people of Iraq back on our side; let's hope Bush uses this honeymoon to the utmost advantage, not in this country but in theirs.

I've wanted Bush to prove me wrong about Iraq and so far he has failed in spades. But most of the 'costs' have already been paid, let's see if we can start filling out that 'benefit' side.

The Problem With Blogging

Me: Lately I've been looking into the evolution versus creation debate, it's kind of interesting....

Friend: Yea, I know...

Me: Oh, yea, of course you do...

Evolution Of New Species Witnessed; Proves Creationism

I've often heard creationists say no one has seen one species arise from another. I've always assumed this was technically true because the fossil record only shows points on a graph, while there will always be at least a little bit of guess work connecting the dots. I imagine it is nearly impossible to differentiate between a direct ancestor and, say, a great aunt.

However, it turns out there are at least two directly observed cases where one species evolved into another right in front of our eyes:
  1. A laboratory population of Nereis acuminata evolved to a new species unable to breed with the parent species.
  2. A natural population of bird-biting Culex pipiens mosquitoes trapped in a London tunnel evolved into a rat and human biting species, unable to breed with the parent species.
Now that first link is to the Defender's Guide, an evolutionist site, but the second is a link to Answers In Genesis, a young Earth creationist site. Why does a creationist site promote this directly observed example of evolution in action? It is because they believe the world is only a few thousand years old and, more to the point, they believe in the literal story of Noah's flood. However, they did the math and realized there wasn't enough room on the ark to save two of each species. That's a problem, so it would seem. But they realized the Bible doesn't say Noah collected two of each species, it says he collected two of each kind. How do they get from kind to species? You guest it, evolution! For example, "an original dog/wolf kind on Noah’s Ark [gives] rise to wolves, dingoes, coyotes, etc."

No, really. I'm not making this up. That's what it says. Go click on the link yourself, if you don't believe me.

UPDATE: From the comments:
If we are going to be selective in our quoting (which we both do!), we should be less obvious. The link you use for the evidence of evolution (actually evidence of speciation) has a link to the very Answers in Genesis you quote - which states clearly that "Evolution hasn't made any new species" is a BAD argument to attempt to use.
Sorry if I left the wrong impression. Yes, AIG says the species argument is a BAD argument and shouldn't be use. However, I still hear it from time to time, like from Paul over at Wizbang! The AIG argument is based on "loss of information", which I'll write about some time in the future.

Is This Real?

I assume this is special effects; if not, I'm impressed.