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June 27, 2004

Michael Moore, Farenheit 9/11

From someone on a bulletin board:

"There sure is a lot of criticism of the movie here coming from people who haven't even seen it!!!"

So, must a person actually see the movie in order to validly make judgments about it?

I have not seen Farenheit 9/11, and I won't unless a far left liberal forks out the cash to purchase my ticket (I figure that it won't hurt for one crazy, Moore, to win a bit if another one loses for him to get it), but just as was the case for Bowling for Columbine I'm finding that there's a seemingly endless littany of people who are willing to disseminate the film into print for my review. Here's a great example:

The Review

For example, Moore states that since the end of the Gulf War Iraq never killed a single American. Well, that's the impression he wanted to give his viewers. Take a look at this exchange on MSNBC between Moore and Jake Tapper.

TAPPER: You declare in the film that Hussein's regime had never killed an American...

MOORE: That isn't what I said. Quote the movie directly.

TAPPER: What is the quote exactly?

MOORE: "Murdered." The government of Iraq did not commit a premeditated murder on an American citizen. I'd like you to point out one.

TAPPER: If the government of Iraq permitted a terrorist named Abu Nidal who is certainly responsible for killing Americans to have Iraq as a safe haven; if Saddam Hussein funded suicide bombers in Israel who did kill Americans; if the Iraqi police -- now this is not a murder but it's a plan to murder -- to assassinate President Bush which at the time merited airstrikes from President Clinton once that plot was discovered; does that not belie your claim that the Iraqi government never murdered an American or never had a hand in murdering an American?

MOORE: No, because nothing you just said is proof that the Iraqi government ever murdered an American citizen. And I am still waiting for you to present that proof.

Now, try as I might, I didn't see a single person in the theater holding an open legal dictionary, looking up the technical distinction between "killed" and "murdered." Moore doesn't go into any detail to point out this distinction to his audience, though it is obviously a big enough issue that he had decided on this semantic explanation beforehand.

See what I mean? Nowhere in the movie does he mention Abu Nidal, or the suicide bombers, or any of the other well-documented terrorist activities of Hussein's Iraq. The best argument he can make to downplay Saddam's threats is this pathetic killed/murdered semantic mumbo jumbo.

Personally, I find these printed discussions far more enlightening than the one-sided movie could ever be. If anyone mis-characterizes the movie, readers will take the author to task; you'll get both sides of the issue packed together into the crucible of reason where spin and nuance is burned off leaving only the facts and the truth behind. The "You can't say because you haven't even seen the film," argument is nothing but a cop-out used by those who recognize that their side of the argument crumbles under scrutiny. In such cases, it's easier for them to deny you the opportunity to argue than it is to debate your arguments. Remember that the next time the intellectually dishonest attempt to catch you in that trap.

PS: I found this paragraph from the link above to be hilarious:

After a while we were ushered into the theater. Seated to my left were two young men who couldn't have been more diametrically opposed to the two girls I stood behind in line. The boys smelled faintly of marijuana, most likely having indulged in the parking lot before coming into the theater. Both were Hispanic, and dressed in that sort of L.A. "gangsta chic" style that guarantees that they'll never find employment anywhere other than a car wash or the United States Postal Service.

"Yo man, that shit is so fucked up that I'm not getting to graduate and shit," said one to the other. "All these motherfuckers that like kissed the teachers' ass and shit are like graduating, but I'm totally fucked, you know?" Apparently the boys had just completed their senior year of high school, and while one was about to embark on a fun-filled career in the grocery-sacking industry, the other was being forced to repeat the 12th grade.

That's just about the most worthwhile example of people who complain about others "kissing ass" that I've ever encountered. Find a person who complains about others "kissing ass" and I'll show you clones of the two individuals mentioned above.

I'm going to be laughing about that for at least a week.

ps: Here's an excellent exposition on the half-truths found within Farenheit 9/11: Just the Facts on 'Farenheit 9/11'

Posted by Jeff at 12:37 PM | Comments (7)

June 26, 2004

Standards of Self Image

Part I:

I have a certain quality in my voice which I refer to as "Kermit". That name was chosen because Kermit the Frog has the same quality in his voice, except with him it is exaggerated into a comic stereotype.

John Denver also has that quality in his voice.

Recently, I've been taking some beginning guitar lessons and the first real song that they've given us to play is John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane. In order to get that tune into my head so that I can better understand how to play it, I've been listening to that song as performed by John Denver on a "best of" John Denver compilation CD.

The first thing that I've noticed about this song is the way that John Denver sings it. My emotional response to how he sings it was immediately: This sucks! His vocals seem to me to be just plain bad.

Now I've recently been told by someone, who was around at that time and should remember, that Leaving on a Jet Plane is the song that gave John Denver his initial burst of popularity. It would be his "one hit wonder" song, except that he had about a thousand hits afterwards.

And this got me thinking.

If it were me and I sounded like he did singing that song, I'd not have let anyone hear me sing! Yet, John Denver, comfortable in his own skin - or at least comfortable behind that voice - came right out with it, recorded it, and became a hit as a result of it, eventually having literally millions of fans worldwide.

Part II:

Yesterday, while driving home through a residential neighborhood, I saw a fellow standing out on his front sidewalk watering some flowers. The fellow was about 5 foot and 10 inches tall, he was wearing a pair of shorts and some flip flops, and had no shirt on. His legs were spindly right up past his glutes and to his waist where, suddenly, his skinny appearance ballooned into a gigantic beer bellied disgusting (I'd estimate) 240 pound pig. This guy standing out in front of his yard topless was an affront to all of nature, mankind, and to any god you might happen to believe in.

Yet this man, disgusting in his appearance, a virtual tribute to the shape of drigibles and blimps worldwide, was comfortable enough to walk out in front of the public and display himself in all of his glory, untroubled by the judgments of others. (I mean, fergodsakes, he didn't even feel the need to put a shirt on to protect unspecting women and children!)

Part III:

My question is, then, how does one resolve such things? It'd sure be nice to be able to see one's self not only subjectively, but objectively, or at the very least inter-subjectively. There are probably all sorts of ways in which we hold ourselves back from social successes (i.e., such as making millions playing guitar and singing, as did John Denver) by holding ourselves to higher standards than what other people in general might even consider great. Then again, too many of us are too comfortable with disgustingly low standards.

More thoughts to come along the lines of Johari's Window....

Posted by Jeff at 03:58 PM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2004

George Bush vs George Bush

There is nothing to the Kerry campaign. Nothing. Kerry himself means nothing - he could be any other candidate. George Bush is running against himself in this election. It's people who want to keep him vs those who want to boot him out.

The biggest problem the Democrats face in the upcoming election is their credibility on issues of national security. It's the one issue where a sizable bloc of voters perceive the biggest difference between the parties. On any other issue, the two parties could conceivably fight to a draw, but most voters--regardless of whether they ultimately plan on voting for President Bush--see him primarily as the national security candidate.

If the Democrats want to neutralize President Bush on this issue, they have to articulate a credible vision for dealing with terrorism. But even that will be difficult for the Democrats, because their criticisms of President Bush have no logical consistency. There is no underlying philosophy on which Democrats base their critiques of the Bush Administration; instead, their rhetoric is comprised of reflexive opposition to whatever President Bush does. If you want to test this assertion in the real world, try this: next time you run across a partisan Democrat, ask whether President Bush has done anything right. Odds are, the response will contain less than one item.

The inconsistencies of the Democratic arguments against President Bush make it impossible for them to put forth any alternate vision, because anything they propose will conflict with some of their previous criticisms.

The person who authored that stated it as if it matters. But it doesn't. Those who are not in favor of George Bush don't need the Democratic candidate to give a credible strategy for the war on terror, for Iraq, for the economy, not for anything. They're interested in one thing: Get rid of George Bush. Once that is accomplished, then they'll worry about other things. They don't need anyone to prove himself better than Bush, they just take that as a given: Anyone but Bush.

This election is for Bush to win, or Bush to lose. What the other side does, or doesn't do, is really meaningless.

Posted by Jeff at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

Conservative vs Liberal

A Harvard undergrad returns home on break. The conversation at the welcome home dinner inevitably turns to her schooling.

"I've become an enlightened liberal," the English lit student declares proudly. The conversation then turns to her study habits, free time and the like.

Daughter: "Free time? What free time? I barely have time to eat. I'm working like a dog --- but I'm making dean's list!"

Father: "And how is your best friend Michelle doing?"

Daughter: "She works, but has different parties, I, uh mean, priorities. Her GPA is hitting rock bottom. She's pretty smart, but she was warned that if she doesn't clean up her act, then she'll be booted."

Father: "Now, you wouldn't want that. Why don't you go to the dean's office and offer to transfer some of your GPA to Michelle so you both can be equal?"

Daughter: "Why in the world would I do that!? I work hard. I push myself. I do what I must without any excuses. Michelle is capable. If she wanted to succeed like me, she would."

Father: "Are you sure that your English lit courses don't include a class in poli-sci? You've managed to succinctly articulate the differences between conservatives and liberals."

--Author unknown

Posted by Jeff at 08:44 AM | Comments (21)

June 24, 2004

Reagan's "Free Ride" in the Press

Some interesting things were mentioned on FOX's Grapevine this week. But, before reading it, remember that Ronald Reagan scored 49 states to 1 against Walter Mondale in the re-election:

Grapevine

Far From a Free Ride

The coverage of President Ronald Reagan after his death led some to recall him as "the Teflon president," who got a free ride in the press. But the Center for Media and Public Affairs, in a new study, finds that President Reagan received intensely negative coverage. The Center says it was two to one negative overall in his first year, with his policies doing even worse -- three to one negative. The Center also found Reagan's coverage more than 90 percent negative in his re-election year of 1984, while his Democratic challenger Walter Mondale's press was 56 percent positive. As for his second term, the Center found that Mikhail Gorbachev did much better in the U.S. press and that even as he was leaving office, Reagan's press was two to one negative.

Now THAT'S a crystal clear example of liberal media bias, where the media projects an unpopular political position in an attempt to influence the judgment of the population and, thank goodness, fails.

It also should give the Republicans a chance to breathe a sigh of relief about all of the negative attention being thrown at George Bush. It would seem to mean nothing. So remember to get out there and vote.

Posted by Jeff at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004

Quantum Democrats

Today's Day by Day is truly worthwhile.

I read that comic and got the minor joke: the likening of the lack of logic stereotypically projected upon women with Democratic party positions. Beyond that, though, the idea of comparing Democrats with physical quanta interested me, so I obediently typed the URI into my browser and hit the enter key and my browser was whisked away to a page of rather piognant posts. Just a few posts down I found the Quantum Democrats post and, within it, this little gem:

If the Democrats want to neutralize President Bush on this issue, they have to articulate a credible vision for dealing with terrorism. But even that will be difficult for the Democrats, because their criticisms of President Bush have no logical consistency. There is no underlying philosophy on which Democrats base their critiques of the Bush Administration; instead, their rhetoric is comprised of reflexive opposition to whatever President Bush does. If you want to test this assertion in the real world, try this: next time you run across a partisan Democrat, ask whether President Bush has done anything right. Odds are, the response will contain less than one item.

The inconsistencies of the Democratic arguments against President Bush make it impossible for them to put forth any alternate vision, because anything they propose will conflict with some of their previous criticisms. Even that they'll deny, though; they'll sweeten their waffles with the syrup of nuance, the word they use to cover up the fact that they're holding several completely contradictory stances simultaneously.

Man, does that ever say it all?!

It's a consequence of the "Anybody but Bush!" mentality. You can't take the stand that anyone would be better than President Bush if Bush is doing things right. But more importantly, the "Anybody but Bush!" crowd judges President Bush's actions and policies by their pre-determined hatred for him, rather than independently based upon how well the solution fits its target problem.

I wonder how significant this issue will be in the election. It seems to me that it certainly ought to be a major detriment to the Democratic causes. After all, the Bush haters aren't going anywhere. They're going to cheer and be pleased regardless of how ineffective and unconvincing the Democratic platform gets. All they need is President Bush to continue antagonizing the liberals. The Democrats, therefore, don't have to do anything right to get loving approval from their primary audience.

The swing voters, on the other hand, that large contingent of undecideds, need convincing. They're not buying this "Anybody but Bush!" mentality. Meanwhile, the Bush administration keeps providing both consistent positions and consistant rationales for their positions. That seems like it'd tip the balance pretty significantly to me.

If President Bush loses, then, it must mean that he's enraged way too many voters.

Posted by Jeff at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2004

The "Bush Lied" Camp Takes it on the Chin

Bill Clinton: On whether BUSH was right to invade Iraq

Read the whole interview here

"You know, I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over. I don't believe he went in there for oil. We didn't go in there for imperialist or financial reasons. We went in there because he bought the Wolfowitz-Cheney analysis that the Iraqis would be better off, we could shake up the authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East, and our leverage to make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis would be increased.

At the moment the U.N. inspectors were kicked out in '98, this is the proper language: there were substantial quantities of botulinum and aflatoxin, as I recall, some bioagents, I believe there were those, and VX and ricin, chemical agents, unaccounted for. Keep in mind, that's all we ever had to work on. We also thought there were a few missiles, some warheads, and maybe a very limited amount of nuclear laboratory capacity.

After 9/11, let's be fair here, if you had been President, you'd think, Well, this fellow bin Laden just turned these three airplanes full of fuel into weapons of mass destruction, right? Arguably they were super-powerful chemical weapons. Think about it that way. So, you're sitting there as President, you're reeling in the aftermath of this, so, yeah, you want to go get bin Laden and do Afghanistan and all that. But you also have to say, Well, my first responsibility now is to try everything possible to make sure that this terrorist network and other terrorist networks cannot reach chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material. I've got to do that.

That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for. So I thought the President had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, "Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process."

You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks. I never really thought he'd [use them]. What I was far more worried about was that he'd sell this stuff or give it away. Same thing I've always been worried about North Korea's nuclear and missile capacity. I don't expect North Korea to bomb South Korea, because they know it would be the end of their country. But if you can't feed yourself, the temptation to sell this stuff is overwhelming. So that's why I thought Bush did the right thing to go back. When you're the President, and you're country has just been through what we had, you want everything to be accounted for."

 

I wonder how many of the "Bush lied" camp, most notably those in Howard Dean's "Deaniac" cult of followers, will publicly recant their previous position and apologize?

Any bets?

Posted by Jeff at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2004

News Bias

While I don't think that one can adequately judge a news organization by a single headline, I do think that one can sum over typical news headlines in any organization and get a feel for their bias.

Here's a nice shot of how bias influences a headline. Note that these headlines report on the same story, but the headlines for the stories can be interpreted in polarly opposite ways politically, particularly in terms of the coming election in this (apparenly) very politically divided United States:

Google News demonstrates political bias in headlines.
Image from Google News.

Here are the links to the actual stories:

Reuters: Bush Launched Iraq Invasion Too Soon, Clinton Says
News24: Clinton backs Bush on Iraq
Washington Post: Clinton Backs Bush on Iraq War But Questions Invasion's Timing

Posted by Jeff at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

Bill Clinton Continues Support for Iraq Invasion

Just two nights ago I speculated over some glasses of wine that, assuming President Bush is re-elected, Bill Clinton would show up in the media casting wide support for President Bush and the Iraq war following the election. My reasons were 1) that each time that I've witnessed Clinton saying anything about the Iraq war, he's done so in a way that has been highly defensive of President Bush, 2) Bill Clinton, having served as President for 8 years, knows that invading was the right thing to do (I'm showing my bias here; since in my judgment the war was and is right, I'd expect the recent president to see it this way), 3) Clinton has not exactly appeared to be in John Kerry's corner, and 4) Clinton knows that doing so would be good for the country and he cares enough to do it.

Another person at the table contributed a different rationale. He said that Clinton is very much at the left and part of the anti-war crowd, but that he wasn't supporting Kerry or the left because he knows that a Kerry win this November virtually eliminates a successful presidential bid for Hillary later on.

Coming from this person, however, this rationale really made sense. Notice that it portrays President Clinton as a person with no integrity, and instead portrays him as a person who goes with what most expediently will get him the most personally. This is how this fellow sees Clinton, so it was no surprise to get this reaction from him, an unabashed Clinton hater.

But, on to the issue: It seems that Clinton couldn't wait until after the election. He's started voicing support for the Iraq war already. Here's a few quotes from CNN:

Clinton defends successor's push for war

Former President Clinton has revealed that he continues to support President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq but chastised the administration over the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

"I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over," Clinton said in a Time magazine interview that will hit newsstands Monday, a day before the publication of his book "My Life."

Clinton, who was interviewed Thursday, said he did not believe that Bush went to war in Iraq over oil or for imperialist reasons but out of a genuine belief that large quantities of weapons of mass destruction remained unaccounted for.

Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."

So you make up your mind.

And on to one more issue: Did Bush lie?

So President Clinton doesn't think so. He says President Bush was right on the money and limits his criticism to having gone into Iraq w/out waiting for the U.N.

And Vladimir Putin says exactly the same thing.

I think it would be embarrassing to be a part of the "Bush lied" camp right about now.

Posted by Jeff at 12:36 PM | Comments (6)

June 19, 2004

The Economy: Bad News for John Kerry

A recent Pew Research Center report demonstrates that of all of the issues which Democrats want to hear about, the economy is the issue at the top of the list for John Kerry supporters. The economy tops the list for 36% of John Kerry supporters, followed by 23% who place the Iraq situation at the top. Health care and jobs/unemployment each are at the top for 7% of Kerry supporters, and education is at the top for 6% leaving just 21% for terrorism, gas prices/energy, foreign policy, taxes, morality/ethics, poverty/homeless, and elderly/medicare combined.

So if the economy is what is most important for John Kerry supporters, what do the latest readings of the economy mean to them?

Well, in Ohio, one of the important swing states, unemployment has taken a dip from 5.9% in April, to 4.9% in May, and now down to 4.7% this month.

Wisconsin, another important swing state, is also doing well, having added 41,000 new jobs since last year.

Washington State, which has an unfortunate jobless rate which is higher than the national average of 5.6% in May, dropped to 6.1% in May to continue a downward trend that began last fall.

Maine's unemployment rate, 4.9% in March, already below the national unemployment rate, dropped to just 4.3% in April.

Unemployment in Nevada fell to the lowest in nearly four years down to just 4.1%.

Democrats weren't amused when George Bush recently remarked to the National Federation of Independent Business about how about 1 million new jobs have been added to the economy. "We used to hear it said that America had a jobless recovery," quipped the President. "That term seems to have fallen out of use lately."

According to that same Pew Research Report, people who are likely to vote for John Kerry because he's not George Bush outnumber Kerry supporters who like Kerry, 3 to 2. By contrast, the pro-Bush George Bush supporters outnumber anti-Kerry Bush supporters by about 3 to 1. Kerry isn't well liked, the election seems to hang upon the population's approval/disapproval of George Bush, and the Democrat's number one issue, the economy, is in George Bush's corner. Add to that the effect of secondary issues, such as the "Bush lied" rhetoric favored by anti-Bush zealots, which has been dealt a devastating blow by Vladimir Putin yesterday confirming that, prior to the Iraq invasion, Russian agents had received information that Iraq's special forces were preparing terrorist attacks on the United States and on its military bases around the world, and you get America's large contingent of swing voters - who don't like to see their president of either party dragged through the muck - becoming less and less open to the anger of the far left.

What does this mean? Well, according to the same Pew Research Report, Americans are noticing, and 51% of Americans think that George Bush is going to win the election, verses only 35% who think that Kerry will come out on top.

Posted by Jeff at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2004

Press Going Too Easy on Bush

Well, the media thinks so according to the Pew Research Center.

But, before getting to that, here's some relevant information:

Real Clear Politics

Two weeks ago, the Pew Research Center published the latest study demonstrating that many more national news reporters identify themselves as "liberal" (34 percent) than "conservative" (7 percent).

While most (54 percent) consider themselves "moderate," even the "moderates" demonstrated that they had liberal attitudes on religion, gay rights and activist government.

 

Public Skeptical of Media?

The latest Gallup Poll indicates the public continues to be skeptical of the accuracy and fairness of the news media.

Fifty-eight percent of those questioned said the media were often inaccurate, while just 39 percent thought they get their facts straight.

On the question of bias, 60 percent thought the media were ideologically biased.

Of those, however, only 15 percent thought the media too conservative, while 45 percent thought them too liberal.

Thirty-six percent found the media just about right.

By the way, 48 percent of self-identified liberals thought the media just right, while 63 percent of conservatives thought the media too liberal, and 43 percent of moderates agreed.

So onto the news:

Bottom-Line Pressures Now Hurting Coverage, Say Journalists

Journalists are unhappy with the way things are going in their profession these days. Many give poor grades to the coverage offered by the types of media that serve most Americans: daily newspapers, local TV, network TV news and cable news outlets. In fact, despite recent scandals at the New York Times and USA Today, only national newspapers and the websites of national news organizations receive good performance grades from the journalistic ranks.

Roughly half of journalists at national media outlets (51%), and about as many from local media (46%), believe that journalism is going in the wrong direction, as significant majorities of journalists have come to believe that increased bottom line pressure is "seriously hurting" the quality of news coverage. This is the view of 66% of national news people and 57% of the local journalists questioned in this survey.

Now what is a "liberal bias", anyway?

What it isn't is a tendency to lie or report falsehoods. What bias is is a tendency to report stories which the news media wants to report, rather than stories which the population wants to read (or see, as the case may be).

For example:

Suppose that a large mall has been approved to be built in a previously untouched piece of (undesignated) wilderness. Suppose also that a very decisive majority of the population who will be using that mall are very excited about it; they're interested in what choices of shops are going to be avaliable, and they're very interested in what is expected to be a significant boon to their local economy.

Suppose, also, that the local newspaper is run by a collection of environmentalists that are not at all excited about the mall. Unlike the general population, all they see is a destruction of the forest, animal habitats being destroyed, and new garbage and pollution problems. Therefore, they keep reporting on these particular issues and give very limited and inadequate reporting on the facts about the economy and other issues which the population is looking for in the pages of the paper.

That is bias. Everything that the paper prints is (presumably) true, but nobody except those people at the paper care. For the population, it's as if they've picked up "Golfing Today" magazine and have found, instead of articles about golf, in depth articles about Sylvester Stallone movies.

Values and the Press

Journalists at national and local news organizations are notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues. Most national and local journalists, as well as a plurality of Americans (41%), describe themselves as political moderates. But news people, especially national journalists, are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public.

So now, according to the Pew Research Center, what we have is a bunch of liberal journalists complaining because the population is ending its willingness to pick up papers which do not report on the stories which interest our population. I find that both funny and encouraging. The liberal press are paying the price through their pocketbooks, and the fact that their livelihoods and their abilities to flourish are threatened.

That is positively heartwarming.

Posted by Jeff at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

An Inspiring Quote

From a ceremony in which President Clinton and Hillary are getting their portraits hung for posterity in the White House:

"I was thinking of, President and Mrs. Bush, on the way over here today, which ones of these pictures I liked the most, and in the darkest days, which ones helped me the most.

I like John Singer Sargent's portrait of Theodore Roosevelt over there. But there's one over in the Cabinet Room by a man named Laszlo of Theodore Roosevelt. I used to look at it all the time when I felt bad and I worried, "Was the war in Bosnia going to come out all right? Would the Kosovar refugees ever be able to go home?"

Because if you look at that picture, Theodore Roosevelt, who was known as our most macho, bully, self-confident president, you look at that picture and you see here's a human being who's scared to death and not sure it's going to come out all right. And he does the right thing, anyway. That's what I saw in that picture."
--Bill Clinton

Think of that the next time you're anxious and stressed over how something is going to turn out. Even the most lauded presidents have been less than confident that things are going to turn out as desired, insecure, and afraid, and have soldiered on, fueled by nothing but hope and the confidence that they're doing the right thing.

Posted by Jeff at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Are Democrats and Republicans the Same?

I've got a question here for you to ponder. First, the basis of the question:

You've probably seen the photos of protestors outside of Reagan's funeral. There were people there carrying signs that said, "REAGAN IN HELL!", and things of that nature. They weren't the only ones; there were people all across the country banding together, carrying signs, and protesting the respects paid to Ronald Reagan.

Now, with that context in mind, ask yourself: "Given what I feel that I know about the characters of Democrats and Republicans, hypothetically, if Bill Clinton were to die and similar funeral services were taking place, would Republicans all across the country be banding together and be carrying similar diminutive signs about President Clinton while loudly shouting protests?"

I'll give my answer: I don't think so. I think this question helps to define a significant difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats seem to carry around a sort of seething hate and anger within them which influences their interactions with others.

Now there also wackos out there that some people associate with the right wing. I'm talking about neo-Nazi skinhead racists, and those sort of people. But they aren't part of the right wing. These are not people who the bread and butter of the right wing accepts with open arms and says, "These are our people." Far from it. Instead, these people are associated with the right wing only because the left wing haters claim that they're right wing. These people are thrust upon the right wing by the left in order to defame the right; but the people on the right are saying, "Hey! We don't want them either!"

In contrast, these wackos on the left, these protestors out there carrying signs, Howard Dean and his hate group of Deaniacs calling Bush the worlds most dangerous terrorist and likening him to Adolf Hitler, and the nuts carrying the "REAGAN IN HELL!" signs, these people are embraced by the left.

Right?

Or have I missed an important subtlety somewhere?

More on the Democrats' response to the Reagan mourning.

Posted by Jeff at 01:20 PM | Comments (13)

June 12, 2004

Spending Other People's Money

What a strange world this is.

I saw an interview with Dick Gephardt when he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in which he was asked about his plan to raise taxes if he became president. The questioner pointed out that right now about 50% of the American population is paying 100% of the federal taxes (meaning that 50% of the population is paying nothing at all). Gephardt, who is certainly in a position to know such things, confirmed that 50% are paying 100% of the bills with a simple nod of his head.

Isn't it interesting that Americans live in a country where 50% of the population, who don't contribute anything, get to vote on how the other 50% of the population's money (at least some of it) is going to be spent (and not only that, but also get to vote on how much of the other half of the population's money is going to be spent)?

Is it possible that, perhaps, demonstrating the ability to make money and to increase personal wealth should be a pre-requisite to voting upon how that money should be spent? Or, at the very least, if a person is going to have some input in how the taxes are going to be spent (even by proxy, as it is in the United States through electing representatives to decide how to spend the dough), shouldn't the person at least have contributed something to the pot?

The first answer which, I'm sure, comes to most people's minds is likely to be: but that would mean that the poor don't get to vote!

Well, yeah.

But the answer to that is simple enough: If you want to vote, don't be poor. And talk about incentive, you either get a vote, or a hand-out, one or the other: choose.

Now if that strikes you as crass, that should immediately tell you that, in your heart of hearts, you don't really understand that each individual's wealth is up to him or her. Is it any wonder that the people in the lower 50% typically vote for the candidate who promises to tax the rich and provide government hand-outs?

Posted by Jeff at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

Rubbing Salt in the Political Wounds

Comedy Central has made a few Bush jokes as of late and I've discovered something: I have completely lost my sense of humor when it comes to Bush jokes. It's gone. Nothing there. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

I suppose that in the general case it's okay, positive even, to laugh at minor imperfections and foibles, but a minority of people have created a political climate such that there's a mean spiritedness to it. By and large, Bush jokes have become Bush bashing, rather than good natured ribbing and general fun. At that point, even the good natured ribbing takes on impolite overtones.

I can't help but notice that many Democrats are actually using over the top Bush bashing as a strategy. They are loudly rubbing salt into the wounds of those who oppose Bush's policies; take, for example, Gore's rant of a couple of weeks ago as a recent high profile example. These Democrats are deliberately trying, and trying very hard, to create a climate of "There is something wrong in America", or at least create that impression in the minds are hearts of the voters. Their hope, it seems to me, is that by creating a strong impression in the media that there is tremendous, even overwhelming, dissatisfaction in America, that America will be inclined to vote for change...of presidents.

I'm not convinced that'll happen, but it might.

People keep saying that the next election will be a very close race. I just don't get that feeling. I get the distinct impression that it's going to be a lopsided vote, perhaps even a landslide, but who it will favor is not exactly clear. I do think that the Democratic exacerbating of tensions will play a major part in whatever the result is. That strategy has just as much of a chance of backfiring on the Democrats, as a large portion of the voters will see the root cause of the dissatisfaction as being the Democrats' own stirring of the pot; they are likely to attribute whatever dissatisfaction that they feel with the Democrats' relentless overbearing complaining and posturing, rather than with what the Democrats complain about.

We shall see.

Posted by Jeff at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

XHTML <object> tag, not <applet> tag

I have been absolutely pulling my hair out trying to get a java applet to both validate and run under XHTML 1.1. The java applet is a panorama applet which I can get to work and validate in Mozilla, but does not work in Internet Explorer. The code I am using (and which I think is right) is the following:

<object codebase="java" classid="panorama.class" height="196" width="460" >
<param name="panorama" value="http://www.veiled-chameleon.com/images/hikes/grandeur-peak/grandeur-peak-full-circle.jpg" />
<!--[if !IE]> Mozilla/Netscape and its brethren -->
<object codebase="java" classid="java:panorama.class" height="196" width="460" >
<param name="panorama" value="http://www.veiled-chameleon.com/images/hikes/grandeur-peak/grandeur-peak-full-circle.jpg" />
</object>
<!-- <![endif]-->
</object>

Here is some information about the panorama java applet.

If any of you are able to make this work, I'd appreciate a comment.

Thanks!

Note: xhtml 1.1 java object tag applet tag internet explorer mozilla validates

Update:

Even though there is a "codebase" attribute associated with the "object" tag, it apparently doesn't do the same thing as the "codebase" attribute of the "applet" tag. Instead the codebase equivalent of the applet's tag is a "param" tag embedded between the "object" tags:

<param name="codebase" value="java" />

And there's more. Here's the final code I'm using:

<object classid="clsid:8AD9C840-044E-11D1-B3E9-00805F499D93" height="196" width="460" >
<param name="codebase" value="java" />;
<param name="code" value="panorama" />;
<param name="panorama" value="http://www.veiled-chameleon.com/images/hikes/grandeur-peak/grandeur-peak-full-circle.jpg" />;
<!--[if !IE]> -->;
<object codebase="java" classid="java:panorama.class" height="196" width="460" >;
<param name="panorama" value="http://www.veiled-chameleon.com/images/hikes/grandeur-peak/grandeur-peak-full-circle.jpg" />;
</object>
<!-- <![endif]-->
</object>

Solved, then. It's amazing that the documentation for this sort of thing is so difficult to find (non-existent?). I'd love to know what that classid="clsid:8AD9C840-044E-11D1-B3E9-00805F499D93" is all about.

Posted by Jeff at 10:16 PM | Comments (6)

June 06, 2004

New site up, Day 2

There's only a few things left to do at this point:

1) Get all of the weblog pages into the style format of the rest of the site, and
2) Get the hiking section up and going.

This second part is proving to be annoying, in that I'm having to learn many ins-and-outs of using The Gimp. I am attempting to put together several photos which form a 360_deg circumference of the view from the top of a peak, and I didn't plan on doing this when I took the photos. It just isn't working well.

I'm guessing that there are advanced techniques to keep in mind when it comes to taking photos for this purpose, such as:

1) Consistent exposure. (Maybe not using auto-exposure? Or perhaps auto-exposure is essential, because some photos may be facing the sun and some not? I just don't know.)
2) Always using a tripod (seems obvious).
3) Having a camera which displays whether the camera is level or not.
4) Other things?

Should anyone happen to be an expert on any of this, I'd appreciate a note.

Thanks.

Posted by Jeff at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2004

One Day At A Time

I have just deleted my entire weblog. It was just too all over the place with no central type of theme to hold it together.

Originally, this site was here as a showcase for my pet veiled chameleon, which died after a bout of unfertilized pregnancy (see caresheet). Now, although I'm pondering bringing in a new veiled-chameleon, I'm turning the site into a personal site of sorts, a development site for what I'm learning in I.T.

So, off we go.

ps: R.I.P. Ronald Reagan. You did a lot of good for the world.

Posted by Jeff at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

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