The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.

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Marc Herold,
Grand Seigneur, University of New Hampshire

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Morally Blind

Resident crackpot Derrick Z. Jackson lies (or is it 'conveniently forgetting key facts'?) in order to portray President Bush as the rightful heir to Adolf Hitler.

Bush's blind leadership

By Derrick Z. Jackson | May 26, 2004

IN NEED OF blind obedience as he stays the course in Iraq, President Bush went to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., on Monday. Rows of military officers, with not a hint of dissent, clapped like choir boys as Bush said, "The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom."

This is the same Bush who chose to see between 4,000 and 11,000 Iraqi civilians die, according to human rights groups, in an invasion and occupation based on nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Bush said he will stay the course for an Iraq that "protects basic rights," even as a stream of photos exposing prison camp abuse by American soldiers is released. (emphasis added - Ed.)

Naturally, Jackson is unable or unwilling to draw certain distinctions - in war, civilian casualties, while tragic, are inevitable and to an extent unavoidable. Comparisons of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan to previous wars are never, ever made. In this war, 'insurgents, 'resistance fighters' and the like are routinely portrayed as 'civilians' by the press (I'll expand on this theme momentarily) even though the terrorist M.O. is to blend into the civilian population in order to avoid detection and use women and children as 'human shields', largely revoking any claims they have (or the press makes on their behalf) to Geneva Convention protections. Also unmentioned is Saddam's terror machine, responsible for, at a bare minimum, 300,000 civilian deaths that would still be occuring if President Bush didn't have the spine to tell the United Nations (united against us, anyway) that we were going to enforce those resolutions against the Hussein regime with or without their 'help'. It is often difficult to determine if Jackson is naive / stupid or just morally bankrupt, if indeed there's any discernible difference.

Does the Globe editorial employ editors or fact checkers? Suppose I'll don that role for a minute:

WASHINGTON - Comprehensive testing has confirmed the presence of the chemical weapon sarin in the remains of a roadside bomb discovered this month in Baghdad, a defense official said Tuesday.

This has been the conventional wisdom for almost a full week now, and this confirmation seems to have been disclosed in enough time for Jackson to have been aware of this. I'm also aware that this admission whould pretty much destroy the entire column's premise, so Jackson ignores it in order to continue the smear of President Bush.

Another symptom of the crackpot mindset is to uncritically accept foreign sourced reporting and ignore reports from people who were actually on the scene because those people are in the U.S. military. To swallow whole a rehashed claim made a few years earlier in Afghanistan and ignore evidence as presented by our military simply reeks of anti-American bias. It should be noted that this incident does involve legitimate civilian deaths, stupidly standing next to an antiaircraft gun in a war zone, which is precisely why the story is used again, this time by the Iraqis.

Bush said, "A free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America." At the rate we are going, it will be any wonder if we will have any friends left in Iraq by the time it is "free."

Nice hyperbole, isn't it? Although some will consider this tasteless, it's necessary in order to refute statements that reek of stupidity. Using the numbers supplied by Jackson, and assuming a Iraqi population of 23 million and no new births, Iraqi citizens will still be around in 2,000 years.

Last week, 40 people died in a US military airstrike on a house. The White House said that it was a safe house for terrorists. Residents who lived nearby said it was the site of a wedding party.

When I first saw this story I commented on it with a reasonable doubt of skepticism, allowing for the fact that there may have indeed been a wedding party. A full week later there is overwhelming evidence that this was a terrorist operation and Jackson still insists that this was a 'wedding party'.

A Reuters story (No bias here, either - Ed.) from the site of the airstrike said, "Standing over 3-year-old Kholoud al-Mohammed, who held a cookie in her hand and cried, Mamdouh Harajee listed off the names of the dead from a complex web of relatives who attended.

Terrorists often use their families as human shields; it's a tactic used by the Palestinians for decades now to avoid being targeted by Hellfire missiles by the IDF, something else Jackson either doesn't know (but should) or chooses to ignore to advance his partisan attack.

" 'She lost her mother and father. Another family of eight lost six members. Another family lost four,' he said as he looked down on the bandaged child. `It was just a wedding.' "

'Just a wedding'. Fifteen miles from the Syrian border. Along a known terrorist smuggling route. With uniquely Arab party favors:

In a briefing for reporters, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the items found included rifles and batteries rigged in a way that suggested they were intended to be used to detonate bombs. A building on the site of the attack, he said, appeared to have been used as a dormitory, with 300 sets of bedding and as many as 100 sets of prepackaged Iraqi clothing.

That clothing would be for Syrian jihadi's to better blend in with the local population while they made their way to the better vacation resorts of Iraq, like Fallujah.

The top American military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said: "There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration. There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."

But the Associated Press obtained a videotape it said was shot by the wedding cameraman, who was killed in the attack. The videotape, according to the AP, showed "fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered about the bombed out tent." The AP story said the tape captured the travel of "a dozen white pickup trucks speeding through the desert escorting the bridal car -- decorated with colorful ribbons. The bride wears a Western-style white bridal dress and veil."

On Monday, Kimmitt showed the press slides that he said indicated large amounts of illegal drugs, weapons, and materials to make bombs. "The activities that we saw happening on the ground were somewhat inconsistent with a wedding party," Kimmitt said. Furthermore, Kimmitt claimed, "we have no evidence of any children being killed on the ground." Continued...

-- But the AP actually interviews survivors, unlike the US government, which bombs them, waits for survivors to straggle into an office and then offers families an average of about $400 per dead Iraqi victim, compared to an average of $1.8 million being given to the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Relatives said at least 10 children died in the airstrike. The bride and groom were said to have been killed.

You get the picture by now; by making such claims of atrocities, and with 'unbiased' sources like Reuters and the Associated Press performing rote regurgitaion in spite of any evidence presented to them by the military, they succeed in terms of making the news event a 'he said / she said' stalemate. This anti-American sentiment dovetails nicely with a letter by a professor (no surprise meter needed - it's from the Air Force Academy, not UMass - Amherst) criticizing the war reporters:

I have long perceived a bias in the mainstream media and have for years been frustrated with its implications for our society and nation. The political slant inherent in modern journalism is fucking obvious no longer unexpected and is even tolerable when social and political issues are the topic of debate. When media bias begins to affect our national security, however, the threshold of acceptability is crossed. When media takes the side of our enemies because of political differences with our president, it's time to say ''enough is enough.''

Ted Miller, the author of the article, does acknowledge the media mantra of 'if it bleeds, it leads':

I am fully aware that sensationalism sells and that capturing scandal, mistakes, and death is your goal. Nevertheless I call on you - editors, producers, writers, reporters, anchors, and on-line media journalists – to take Michael Savage's lead and spend an afternoon in the library, archive, or micro-film room. Peruse the war coverage of the past and then ask yourself what is different about your own coverage. Once you recognize the shameful deterioration that has occurred since 1941, I call on you to re-assess your practices, your biases, and your patriotism. No doubt many of you will be offended that I have questioned your loyalty, but if you honestly weigh your handiwork against past journalism, you will question YOUR OWN patriotism. Consider this an integrity check. How many of you will pass?

Which is it, Derrick Jackson? Do you support free people and society or do you support terrorists and their enablers?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Stupid Or Full Of It?

Bob Kuttner, thirsting to score political points against the evil Republicans, either confuses cause and effect or conveniently ignores it to attack President Bush (the following emphasis mine - Ed.)

What Greenspan won't admit about deficit

By Robert Kuttner | May 12, 2004

ALAN GREENSPAN is a gold-plated hypocrite. Last week the Federal Reserve chairman, speaking at a conference in Chicago, warned that the endless federal deficits had become "a significant obstacle to long-term security because the budget deficit is not subject to correction by market forces." What does Greenspan think caused the deficit -- sunspots? He doesn't deign to say. But everyone else knows. While increased military spending is part of the story, the huge imbalances that rightly worry the Fed chairman are mainly the predictable result of President Bush's immense tax cuts.

Arthur Laffer wouldn't have made that prediction, Bob. That's not the reason the Congressional Budget Office is giving for the shrinkage in the deficit:

Smaller-than-expected tax refunds and rising individual tax receipts will pare back federal borrowing significantly for the first half of this year and could reduce the $521 billion deficit projected for the fiscal year by as much as $100 billion, Treasury and congressional budget officials said yesterday.

Since Bob's not in the habit of admitting his mistakes and distortions, I'll point out a few more:

The deficits are now projected at $400 billion this year and at comparably destructive levels for the indefinite future. The tax cuts are responsible for more than $3 trillion in long-term revenue losses over 10 years. And Greenspan hasn't even spoken out against the president's campaign to make the cuts permanent.

If tax receipts (at minimum, individual tax receipts; I can't find a link discussing corporate, estate & others) are rising, how can this be denying the government revenue?

Just imagine the outcry from Greenspan, Wall Street, and the Republican Party if these deficits had been the result of social spending rather than tax cuts for America's wealthiest. For half of the cost of the projected deficits -- $200 billion a year -- we could have universal, high-quality child care and health insurance for all Americans. Think of that.

In the mind of the paleoliberal, new and expanded government spending is simply beyond question, whereas spending on the military and the proven positive effects of tax cuts must be attacked in every other column. To me, this argument is simply unpersuasive.

But if some Democratic president had managed to persuade Congress to enact such a program, the right would be going nuts at the fiscal irresponsibility. Clearly the right's fiscal ethics are entirely situational.

Pot... Kettle... Black.

If deficits are caused by tax cuts for corporations and the rich, well, this is a manageable problem that can be solved by reduced social spending. But if deficits result from spending, Wall Street and the right would have us believe the economy is about to collapse.

Indeed, if the gold medal for hypocrisy goes to Greenspan, Wall Street deficit hawks get the silver medal. Remember the Concord Coalition -- that bipartisan group of worthies concerned about federal deficits? It's still there, and a few of its members are actually principled conservatives. You just don't hear as much from it when the deficits are Bush's.

Bob obviously hasn't checked their website recently. Look at this, or this, or any of the rest of the articles. To assert the Concord Coalition is sitting on its hands because a Republican's in office reeks of hypocrisy and ignorance as well as contrary to fact.

The one recent president, of course, who took deficits seriously was Bill Clinton.

... a period where there was divided government (Democrat in the Executive branch, Republicans in the House and Senate from 1994 to 2000), which generally leads to slower expansions of federal spending because of this division. The elimination of the deficit was done solely for this reason and we see Bob's old friend, the 'highly partisan' Concord Coalition, in the mix of things.

Presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II have all been all fiscally reckless. Yet somehow the conservative press would have us believe that it's Democrats who have to live down a reputation of being deficit-happy.

President Reagan won the Cold War. Bush I was dealing with its aftereffects. Clinton gave us the 'peace dividend' and via radical Muslim terrorism Bush II had to take said dividend back. The fact is Republicans will use deficits if it helps in matters of national defense where Democrats want to expand the size and scope of the federal government for its own sake.

Other notable situational ethicists who get bronze awards for hypocrisy are deficit hawks in the administration. The White House economic policy czar, Steve Friedman, was a prominent investment banker and one of Wall Street's leading critics of fiscal imprudence. Now that he's on the inside, we haven't heard so much as a bleat from him. If he's advising Bush to resist tax cutting for the larger good of the economy, he certainly is having no effect. One wonders how Friedman can look in the mirror.

I dunno, maybe Friedman agrees with the President? Is Bob aware that we're at war with Islamofascists?

Likewise Greg Mankiw, the Harvard economist whose best-selling textbook warns that prolonged deficits will raise interest rates and slow economic growth. It is a tradition that eminent economists punch their career tickets by doing a prestigious stint at the Council of Economic Advisers, which Mankiw chairs for Bush. But at what cost?

Donald Luskin once again shoots down the eternal myth of the Democrats that 'deficits cause interest rates to rise'.

It would be one thing if Mankiw were a pure technocrat who stayed in the back rooms and crunched numbers. But Mankiw's appointment is a political one, and part of his job is to go out front and vouch for an administration and policies that he knows are deplorable.

If Mankiw is that embittered, he ought to resign.

What gets lost is the fact that taxing and spending involve political choices. One path involves slightly higher tax rates on America's most privileged (Like Teresa Heinz Kerry? - Ed.) in order to pay for decent public services. The other path allows the deserving rich, such as the children of the wealthiest 2 percent of families, to forgo taxation at the expense of needed social outlay. This is the real national choice that is cynically obscured by the running up of endless deficits.

It's hard to tax 'the rich' when they're determined to shelter it from taxation in the first place. This argument from Bob actually supports the case for further tax cuts - If the after tax rates of return on tax-exempt investments are greater than those of taxable ones, and any investment manager advising the ketchup heiress would surely point out, then a lowering of tax rates to a certain point would cause a shift in investment strategy from tax exempt investments to taxable ones in order to maximize their after tax rates of return. Partisan hacks like Kuttner are too blinded by their loathing and hatred of President Bush to make this basic distinction.
Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

Why I Don't Subscribe To The Boston Globe

Here's a huge blow to the credibility of the local subsidiary to the New York Times:

The Tunisian site described the photos as the "unedited" versions of actual events and Albasrah ran the photos under the heading "The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos," indicating they had received the photos via e-mail.

A WND investigation has revealed that most of the photos are taken from the American pornographic website "Iraq Babes," and the Hungarian site, "Sex in War," which is linked to by the American site. Both websites are linked to by violent pornography sites and both describe Iraqi women -- played by "actresses" -- in vulgar terms.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Daschle On Political Discourse

Senator Tom Daschle bemoans the recent tone of political discourse:

"Demonizing those with whom we disagree politically does not serve the interests of democracy. It does not resolve differences."

But it's within bounds to contribute to political differences:

"He (Daschle - Ed.) said Democrats don't need appropriations bills and don't need judges as much as the White House does," says a GOP staffer Â? and that was that. After the meeting, Daschle told reporters he told the president the Republicans' appropriations strategy simply would not work. "There is no connection [between the appropriations bills and judges]," he said. "I told that again to the president this morning....There isn't any leverage on appropriations bills."

Free advertisementt for the former statement, scant mention of the latter. No media bias?