S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

There's a great letter to the editor in the Op-Ed section of yesterday's New York Times:

To the Editor:

The issue raised in "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" (Week in Review, June 22) is a distinction without a difference.

Exaggerating and lying are both strategies for the purpose of manipulation. Both, when exposed, lead to reduced credibility; and both contribute to feelings of cynicism and powerlessness.

If manipulated by an exaggeration or by a lie, one feels equally deceived.

It does not make the costs of a pre-emptive war more acceptable to know that it might have been justified to the American public by an exaggeration rather than a lie.

To even have a discussion on whether a president exaggerated or lied concerning war suggests that something is dreadfully wrong with current standards of leadership and the creation of public policy.
Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., June 22, 2003

Sharp points Signor Hackenburg!

How about another? Why not?!

To the Editor:

Re "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" (Week in Review, June 22):

Critics of President Bush err when they focus on weapons of mass destruction. The real lie is about the "imminent threat" to our country. That was the stated justification for the hurry to war.
Castle Rock, Colo., June 22, 2003
Now that's compelling, I'll come back to that when I'm less tired...

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The last portrayal of a "Hispanic" on t.v. that I have seen was made on "South Park." The "Hispanic" character in question was Eric Cartman's right hand, aka Jennifer Lopez (and then the 'real' cartoony Jennifer Lopez showed up, and the crap hit the fan).

Anyway, Hispanics are being ignored, as usual, and the media is just helping America to be forgetful about the other, other half:

Hispanic characters received only 3 percent of screen time in fall 2002 programs on the six major networks, according to the study by the University of California, Los Angeles. Hispanics make up 13.5 percent of the U.S. population.

Whites received 81 percent of screen time and blacks 15 percent, the study said - both disproportionate to their population.

As I said, typical.

I noticed that some Democratic congressional presidential candidate (it was either Gephardt or Kerry, can't remember) was asked a question about the Hispanic population at the Jesse Jackson Presidential Forum, and he just dodged it completely with some nonsense like "uhh, I think the Hispanic community are beginning to see themselves as normal Americans, and I think that their concerns are exactly the same as everbody elses."

I'll find the transcript for that, or I'll just watch it on C-Span again...

Anyway, I just remember thinking to myself, well, yes AND no. Issues like immigration policy, affirmative action, welfare, food stamps and head start, drop out rates, unfair imprisonment and other social issues uniquely and especially affect Hispanics. Hispanics drop out of school at astronomical rates. It is more likely for married Hispanic couples to live below the (bottom) poverty line than it is for married couples of any other ethnic standing.

One thing that is starting to confront us about the Democratic field (Dean's bad Meet the Press gig, and the other answer evidence this) is that even though they're a smart and accomplished bunch, they need to develop the issue depth necessary to answer questions directly.


I admit it, the guy did a poor job on Meet the Press last Sunday, I mean he really embarassed himself, but few were watching. Nonetheless, he has a vision, and he isn't confused, like John Kerry, who voted for the theory of preemption, and now says he was deceived.

Don't be deceived again John Kerry...

Howard Dean's speech was interesting. He is a progressive, but he's also trying to be a little less intimidating to the "swing voters," you know, suburbia. I noticed that Dr. Dean did not even mention Iraq by name once (although he did mention "preemption"); the New York Times moticed too.

Dean, apparently, has some politically savvy people in his company. I do not think we're goign to see him mention Iraq voluntarily anymore, rather, he'll talk about the Doctrine of Preemption, and preventative war as a concept.

To me, the turn that is most interesting is the constituency he's speaking for now. Dr. Dean is now embracing the forgotten people, the cynics and ex-voters, the people too busy and too pissed off to worry about government politics anymore. He seems to be aiming young; as a Dean supporter, I'm rather young myself.

I would think that the Dean Campaign would need to put forward a huge registration and voter education drive to pull this off, because non-voters, young peeps, and ex-voters are harder to reach via traditional political territory (ie ads on Meet the Press, and speeches on C-Span).

If Dean's campaign has the cajones to do what it takes to land this constituency in their own camp, they need to lighten up Dean's image a little and make him a bit rowdier. They have to use the internet (as they're doing now with good success), alternative magazines (MAXIM maybe?), MTV, Comedy Central and similar outlets to get in contact with these people who could vote for him.

We'll see soon enough exactly how unconventional the Dean Campaign wants to get. One thing is certain though, they cannot win this one on Bush's turf.

Monday, June 23, 2003

There have been few people in the history of political punditry who were destined to be more wrong than George F. Will. Nonetheless I read his hack work every now and then, and I must admit that my disagreements with him have not transformed into all out hatred of everything he embodies simply because he is an unusually honest conservative. All emphasis added...

And overshadowing the military achievement is the failure -- so far -- to find, or explain the absence of, weapons of mass destruction that were the necessary and sufficient justification for pre-emptive war. The doctrine of pre-emption -- the core of the president's foreign policy -- is in jeopardy.

To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But pre-emption presupposes the ability to know things -- to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.

Some say the war was justified even if WMDs are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is "better off" without Saddam.

Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny -- on to Burma? -- it is unacceptable to argue that Saddam's mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for pre-emptive war.

But unless America's foreign policy is New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow, feeling good about the consequences of an action does not obviate the need to assess the original rationale for the action. Until WMDs are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent explaining to be done.

How is it that George F. Will, conservative as he is, can concede all of these points, and I hear the rightwing nuts on T.V., radio, I see the pundits in the papers and the net all defending this war, even though it has no plausible justification?

Why shouldn't people be uppity? Furious George didn't even want to go to the U.N. to begin with! They gave the U.N. 110 days to find the weapons, this is time in between resolution 1441 and the night the war began.

They have had over 80 days to find these weapons, on day 110, we should demand regime change in Washington if this administration does not find any of these WMDs.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Teacher, friend, and genius Michael Musillami is out with a new record. I urge you to support this music, it is good, alternative, peaceful and fulfilling.

This music is challenging, and comes from musicians and a musical tradition that epitomizes American art and talent.


Ladies and Gentlemen. NOBODY will beat Bob Graham in Florida, nobody in the history of the world can beat Bob Graham in Florida (save Jesus, and that would be close).

Senator Bob Graham sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and he's privy to the intelligence information that President Bush receives. Bob Graham knows what's in the 9/11 report. He knows that Bush would bear part of the blame for 9/11.

He has gone on hundreds of "work days" in which he has worked full days as a janitor, a garbage man, a store clerk and several other blue collar positions. Senator Bob Graham is a solid, upright man who can turn Florida from a 50D-50R state into a 55D-45R state.



The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, ready to make it impossible for Sen. Bob Graham to enter Democratic presidential primaries while keeping his options open for Senate re-election, may consider further limitations on him.

Before it adjourns next week, the Legislature is expected to move the May 7 deadline for the Senate primary to early March -- prior to the California and Florida presidential primaries. If the Democratic nominee is not determined by then, Graham would have to make an early decision on whether to abandon his presidential ambitions or leave the Senate.

However, it appears Graham could run simultaneously for vice president and senator (as Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut did in 2000). The Legislature may consider prohibiting that possibility.

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