Monday, May 22, 2006

Program Note

It's not like this news will break hearts all over America, but I'll be cutting back to two columns per week for a while. This is partly because of other pending projects, and partly because the issues I'm tracking are becoming so complex that writing about them requires quite a bit of research to get the "latest" information and square it with what's been said or done before.

It's also becoming more and more difficult to sort out fact from "sanctioned leaks" in the big media, particularly with Alberto Gonzales' recent statements about prosecuting reporters for revealing "classified" information and tapping their lines to identify their sources. We've reached a point where information attributed to any "anonymous government source" is susect of being propaganda deliberately channeled through the outlets of our supposed "watch dogs."

Further, the information environment will become even noisier as the November elections approach. As much as possible, I'll be avoiding discussion of specific races, but as I often say (perhaps too often) there's really no such thing as a separation between foreign policy, domestic policy, and electoral politics, and that may be truer now than ever.

In 1997, the neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) proclaimed that foreign and defense policy under President Clinton was "adrift." Almost a decade later, America's foreign and defense policy have run amok, thanks to key PNAC members of the Bush administration like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Lewis Libby, and Zalmay Khalilzad.

No measure of future success in Afghanistan and Iraq can make up for their ill-conceived and tragically incompetent execution to date. Our so-called "diplomatic" efforts with Iran are doomed to failure. Our insistence that Iran give up their claims of a right to enrich uranium is a sort of "reverse Godfather" approach: we're making them an offer they can't accept. Our standing in the world has taken a drastic nosedive since young Mister Bush took office, and the effectiveness of our military, diplomatic, and economic power has diminished alarmingly.

No amount of deck chair shifting in the administration will reverse this trend. The only way to check the Bush machine's pursuit of absolute power and insistence on continuing to pursue failed policies and strategies is for we the people to restore our constitutional system of checks and balances by taking away the GOP's control of Congress.


  1. "...or else we'd have a Congress full of bloggers and movie stars."

    Left wing bloggers and movie stars didn't create the situation this country is in now. I'm neither a left wing blogger nor a movie star. Stop discrediting them, and me by inference by associating me with them.

    I've deleted this post of yours, and will delete all further posts from you like it.

  2. Ah.... a deleted post. I was curious why you were commenting on yourself, my friend.

    And not to unlock the cage and let the the three-horned snarkosuarus loose, but I thought we already HAD a Congress full of movie stars and such like prima donnas.

  3. Jeff - if you don't want me to post on your blog, all you have to do is ask me and I'll stop posting.

    You don't have to stoop to deleting posts that aren't in agreement with you. And you criticize the admin for having an echo chamber? Looks like you want to set one up yourself.

  4. Meribeth7:04 AM

    Jeff, I may not comment everyday, but I do stop in and read your comments every morning. I guess I have a booster along with my morning coffee.

    One thing I appreciate, and trust, is your depth of research. Yes, you express your opinion, but you reference that which your opinion is based. In other words you back up what you say...which is highly unusual in this day and age.

    I am going to miss your more frequent posts...but if you are busy and are really digging into something, go for it. I certainly can wait.

    I just wish I could help you dig. Let me know if I can.

  5. Meribeth,

    Thanks for the nice words. I have a couple other writing projects I need to pursue, plus some rather large house projects I have to get to while the weather's nice.

    Thanks also for the offer to help dig. I think the problem, at this point, is that there's so much to dig through to arrive at a "truth" or "fact" that it's largely a matter of taking a good hard look at the source. When I think a source is questionable but the item in question rings true, I go off and hunt for other sources. However, it's so difficult these days to tell, even in the really big mainstream sources, whether one is seeing an independent source or simply the same source being echoed. Last week's story on the Iran uranium discovery was one of those. The more I dug into it, the more it looked like everybody sourced either AP or Reuters, and those two services' stories looked so similar it appeared the same person had written them.

    And that story, IMO, was a big deal, because the headlines and the deeper stories revealed two rather different things.

    As you said, my stuff is not "news," it's op-ed. But I don't buy the line that says it's okay to distort or make up facts to support opinions, and I know more than just a few big time columnists who do exactly that. I hope to avoid it whenever possible, and I've dumped quite a few pieces I thought were rather good because I wasn't sure about the validity of the main assumption.

    In any case, thanks for the encouragement and for supporting P&S.


  6. Seven of Six10:03 AM

    Damn Scott, a little sensitive?
    I do believe it's Jeff's blog, and a fine blog it is.
    You know a lot of Lawyers comment over at 'the Left Coaster' where I hang a lot. Your welcome to try the waters, beware though, I've been witness to some folks coming away with a little less ass.
    Oh, that happened here, never mind!

  7. Watching Alberto Gonzales' pronouncements re prosecuting reporters yesterday, I had to wonder if he's considering Robert Novak as the first to be so tried.
    973 days to go.


  8. I'd guess Novak's pardon has already been drafted, if not signed.

    I'd guess that about a lot of people.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Seven:

    I had a comment about the left Coaster and Bush pardons, but Herr Huber got to it I guess. You'd better read this one fast...

  11. "movie stars"

    Like Arnold or Reagan?

  12. Or John Wayne, Scott?

    "Herr Huber" isn't asking you to leave. He's telling you to, until such time as you stop trying to hijack the forum with tricks from the Karl Rove playbook.

  13. Navywife:

    I'm not sure how much good Arnold is doing. Reagan at least had some experience other than being an actor by the time he became President.

    I don't think John Wayne ever held public office, did he? I thought he turned both parties down when approached. Smart guy.

    As for the Karl Rove playbook, you tell me who's using that, someone who posts and is happy to read any and all other thoughts on a subject, or someone who rather than replying substantively to a differing view uses ad homs (like "talking points" or "karl rove's play book") and, eventually, resorts to simply removing the differing view all together?

  14. William Bollinger3:29 PM

    Sorry to say this, but I think you are overreacting a bit. Scott does disagree, and has pulled some stunts, but if this is the worst "troll" this website ever sees, you'll be damned lucky. I can't tell what's been said after you delete a post, but I haven't seen anything posted that deserves these attacks.

  15. "Attacks?" How do you define an attack?

    And how do you define "overreacting?"

    I've witnessed this particular individual's tecniques for a long time before I started this blog. I know his pattern, and when I say he uses Rovewellian techniques, or whatever term he objects to, I know what I'm talking about.

    I won't let him or anyone else use this forum to echo conservative think tank talking points, nor will I let him or anyone else bog the forum down in endless attempts to refute them.

    I'm sorry, William, but I don't think you get the point of what this particular troll is up to.

  16. William Bollinger4:43 PM

    By attacks and overreacting, I mean deleting posts.

    Could be that you're right and I don't get it. I don't always agree with Scott, but he is always willing to discuss his points, instead of shouting and ignoring, and he has backed off when presented with a sound argument. If he's pushing right wing talking points, they're too subtle for me. Most of the other sites I go to have plenty of blatant, shout-and-ignore, never-concede type right wingers, and it may take a sledge hammer to get through to me anymore.

    It's your site though, so you make the rules. Even Scott will have to agree with that.

  17. Thank you, William. I appreciate it. I don't think I'd know a GOP talking point if I heard it, since I don't frequent sites that might have them. I just think for myself, and if and conclusion I draw happens to favor the right, then so be it. If it is later shown to be wrong, then that's fine too. Either way, they're still my own thoughts. Who has the time to waste posting other people's thoughts on blogs? And why would you even if you had the time?

    Thanks, again.

  18. Meribeth7:37 AM

    I do believe that Scott does form his own opinions for the most part. And sometimes he even brings out a point that I may agree with. He has opinions and that is fine, but it IS Jeff's blog and he can handle it as he sees fit, and I totally support him in doing that.

    As far as "talking points" and "Rove playbook," I can understand and totally agree with Jeff. Many times, during a presentation of an arguement or even a simple point, Scott tends to put the reader/Jeff on the defensive immediately. Statements such as "it appears that you are ____," and making inferences as to the persons history that may have brought them to their initial comment.

    This may be a "lawyer" way of discussion, but it is certainly Rove and the puppets that follow his direction. In either case, Rove/lawyer, it sucks. It is natural to want to protect oneself from attack, in innuendo and snide comments...hence, taking the focus off the initial issue. Cheap trick.

    You would not want me on your jury, Scott.

  19. William Bollinger10:31 AM

    Unfortunately Scott, there are far too many who have "the time to waste posting other people's thoughts on blogs". As I've mentioned before, I see them all over at other blogs. As to why they do it, I'd guess that for a lot, they have very few original thoughts of their own, and prefer to let Faux Nooz spoon feed some to them. For others, it pushes their agenda, so who cares if it's true. I've even heard suggestions that think tanks are paid to troll, as another form of misinformation, and to disrupt real communications. That's one of the reasons I come here. People seem more able to actually discuss while disagreeing.

    Have a chat with the fellow who calls himself Iggy Dude at, or phuknjrk at, or any of the other numerous trolls out there. They will help you develop an appreciation for Scott's debate style.

  20. Meribeth11:06 AM

    LOL William I have seen this type, many times! You do have a point. And they turn up at the most amazing sites. Knitting blog? People can turn snarky and ugly over any provication and many times I think that they do it just to get a reaction. Which, at my age, I would rather save my spleen for something more worth my effort. I avoid this because it does no good other than to fan the discontent in an already divided country. This is a country that I love dearly, and to see it responding and fighting with falsehood, innuendo and going to any lengths to put others on the defensive is counter productive.

    I could very well be over sensitive to Rovespeak and the like. But you know, I am really tired of it. I know that Scott's fashion of arguement is not "that bad." But it does piss me off when the snarky comments and attempts to put others on the defensive. It takes away from the issue at hand. It can also be insulting to the person who is receiving the attention. And don't we have enough of that going on right now for God's sake?

    Scott has asked questions such as "do you by any chance have a socialist bockground?..." What does that have to do with things? I know that Scott does not like being called a Repub. because he is not...yet he pulls that same stunt over and over.

    I apprecialte the work that Jeff does. I also respect the time and effort he puts into it. If someone has an issue with his opinion, fine! State your counter, site your references, and why you counter. Leave out the red herrings and the name calling and the innuendo. It is beneath Jeff and it is beneath Scott.

    I would much rather learn and consider other sides and add to it if I have anything to offer. I learn, think and consider better without the snark.

  21. Meribeth:

    I don't do jury trials (no doubt with good reason). I think part of the problem is people reading too much into a comment. Another consequence of a lawyerly style (particularly that of a patent lawyer like me) is that one has to be very specific in choice of words. I virtually never intend to imply something that I haven't outright said (I can't say it never happens, but almost never is accurate I think). So I'm sometimes mystified with responses I get that don't seem to be directed to what I said but at inferences I wasn't making. But I do always present my own opinions, and I'm glad you seem to think so as well.

    But we're getting far afield. As you said, Jeff can run his blog how he likes. For right now, it appears I'm allowed to post so long as I don't use Karl Rove's playbook (which I never do). If Jeff doesn't want me to post at all, then I won't post at all.

    As for putting people on the defensive, I admit this is probably an inherent aspect of how lawyers conduct business, and since I spend a good portion of my day writing arguments I can see how such things might bleed over into blog posts. So if you notice that, Meribeth (assuming my continued posting) feel free to point it out. I'd be grateful, in honesty. But at the same time, 99 times out of 100, if it takes an inference rather than something I specifically said to reach that point, then you're probably reading more into my words than I intended.

    I'll try not to make any more off-topic posts. If nothing else, this disagreement has steered things away from the political discussions, which are the reasons we're all here in the first place.

  22. Hi Meribeth - just saw your post. Actually, a good example I guess of my intent being one thing and the inference being another. When I asked about the socialist background, I was being serious. It wasn't a jab, and I tried to make that clear. The only reason I asked is because the person I was asking reminded me a good deal of a close friend of mine who is socialist. It would have been interesting to me to find out that this person was a socialist because I could see how viewpoints overlap. Conversely, it was interesting to me to find out this person was not a socialist, because it goes to show how many of our viewpoints can overlap even though we share vastly differing philosophies. It wasn't meant to make anyone defensive or to demean anyone (I have nothing personal against socialists).

  23. Meribeth8:11 AM

    Scott, the example that I used came to mind because I know how testy (justifiably so) you get when someone assumes or *infers* that you belong to one party or another. Can't we agree that very few people in the world subscribes to one doctrine 100% and to pidgeon hole is counterproductive? I can see why you may ask, but I also find it placing a label.

    And I do keep in mind your legal background. I also respect it..exp. IP, because that is a true can of worms from what I have seen. And you do have a point..I may be a bit to sensitive to it, yet it does come off snarky. I will politely point it out to you...and I am sure you will do the same for me.

  24. Thanks Meribeth, I appreciate your candor. I think it is true that very few people subscribe to a single doctrine (though there are some Kool-Aid drinkers out there), but a lot of people react as though one subscribes to a doctrine if one disagrees with them. For example, I used to post a lot at the Sean Hannity forums (and I can't stand that git Hannity), and since I said things against Bush I was a raging liberal and Democrat. In other forums around the net, I'm a raging Republican apparently ;) Not everyone sees that people need not be in one camp or the other. It is in the human nature to compartmentalize, and people want to call you a Republican or a Democrat.

    I'd be happy to join a political party if you can find one for me. Here are the requirements:

    1) I'm pro-choice
    2) I'm against the death penalty
    3) I favor legalization of most drugs
    4) I'm opposed to paternalistic laws like seatbelt and helmet laws
    5) I'm a strong supporter of the 4th amendment
    6) I'm a strong supporter of the 1st amendment
    7) I generally favor LOWER taxes and lower government interference
    8) I think the 2nd amendment provides an individual with a right to arm himself
    9) I think physician-assisted suicide should be legal
    10) I think we need to stay in Iraq until we've done all we can to repair the damage there
    11) I think the removal of Saddam could have been justified on humanitarian grounds (I do not think these are the grounds the Admin used)
    12) I favor environmental standards, higher CAFE standards, etc.
    13) I think we ought to drill in ANWR and offshore to lessen reliance on foreign oil
    14) I think we ought to vigorously pursue other energies because #13 won't help us for long
    15) I favor stem cell research
    16) I'm against things like cigarette bans in bars and restaurants, thinking it should be up to the owner of a private business
    17) I believe in large part in State's rights and separation of powers
    18) I think the Supreme Court probably ruled correctly in Bush v. Gore, though I didn't particularly like the result...

    anyway, I don't want to belabor the point further, but if you can find a political party for me, I'd be happy to know about it :)

  25. William Bollinger1:52 PM

    I'd suggest Libertarians, but they ain't what they used to be. There's a site called (Warning - used to be called Libertarians for Dean)that seems to be trying to create a Libertarian-Democratic Party. I used to go there a lot, but don't have time anymore.

  26. William:

    There are some things I like about Libertarians, but others where I think they go too far. For example, I think we need social welfare programs in this country. A single, 19 year old mother, with limited means, needs a safety net for herself and her kids. Libertarians are too quick to eliminate all of that sort of thing, without think through the practical consequences. Philosophically, I can agree with a lot of what they have to say, but they have a hard time separating theory from practice.

    I'll take a look at the freedom democrats.

  27. I am, as I generally have been my entire adult life, not interested in being part of any political party. I rather like being part of that hard-to-define political entity known as the "swing vote." In many ways, being a "swinger" gives one a certain political leverage one wouldn't have otherwise. It's a balance of power thing, in the larger political sense. At the national level, no one will win an election without swaying those who have no party loyalty or affiliation.

  28. William Bollinger5:18 PM

    I agree, and also find their policies against public education wrong.

    I've suggested looking at these programs from a return-on-investment point of view. If a government funded anti-whatever program can prevent the need to spend more later on preventing or correcting that whatever, then it's a good program.

    I'd also like to think this President's deficit spending has caused some of them to re-think "starve the beast" too.

    Either you're in an open primary state, or are missing out on an important part of voting. Each cycle, I pick a party moving the direction I want to see things go, then make sure to vote in the primary to try to keep it on that track. Other than that, I'd stay independent too.

  29. Meribeth9:36 AM

    Scott, I really had a good laugh. I agree with you on all your points except ANWR and the 2000 election.

    So that put me, and others here, who are swingers. Yet, when I look at the history of my vote it comes up Dem. But bottom line, I guess I am a mutt, aka independent.