Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

More Christianistanity

Can we, based on the worthless jackasses in the top picture, now say that the entire Right is composed of diversity-hating, first-responder-hating, and freedom-hating morons–much in the way the entire Left is held to account whenever ANSWER does something stupid? No, you say? Well then quit blaming “Liberals” when Chomsky says something goofy. In the meantime, the answer to my original question is yes.


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Jesse has a great series of posts on those who would like to see this country become a theocracy–Christianists(*). It starts here with a Phillis Schlafly smackdown, but keep scrolling up to see more. Why do they insist on defying the Constitution? Are they Enemies of Freedom?


(*) I believe Dave Neiwert coined this phrase as an amalgam of Christian and Fundamentalist.

P.S. While at Pandagon, be sure to check out Jesse’s play-by-play recounting of his thoughts while watching DC 9/11: Time Of Crisis, Showtime’s Bush puff-piece “docudrama that traces the nine days after the terrorist attacks on America of September 11, 2001, a week and a half that challenged…”

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I got a hit today from someone Googling this:

economy’s budget deficit graphs that do not start at 0 and have good artwork to deceive the public

I wonder who the Googler thinks is likely to issue misleading deficit graphs?

In Lying Liars, Al Franken has two graphs that illustrate the point about scaling graphs in a misleading fashion. I’ll add an update with the page number this evening, or someone can do it for me in the comments.


UPDATE: It’s on p. 174 of Lying Liars.

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Bush Tax Cut Jobs Scoreboard

Mike at The 18½ Minute Gap has a nice graph showing the jobs promised by Bush and the jobs delivered, with the former category consisting of positive numbers and the latter consisting of only negative numbers so far. The predictions are plotted through 12/04 while the results only go through 8/03. If the eventual results for 9/03 thorugh 10/04 look at all like Bush’s results to date, the 2004 Democratic nominee just might be the favorite.


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Subliminal Programming, or “Strategic Ambiguity”?

No one should underestimate the power of the Bush administration’s subtle but persistent efforts for the past two years to link Iraq to 9/11:

The Washington Post: Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they thought it at least likely that Hussein was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the latest Washington Post poll. That impression, which exists despite the fact that the hijackers were mostly Saudi nationals acting for al Qaeda, is broadly shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

How did they do this? They never overtly stated that there was a connection, but they used two other techniques:

a) continually putting the words “Iraq” or “Saddam” and “9/11” in the same sentence – they appeared in the same sentence 11 times during the 2003 State of the Union address, for example.

b) putting together facts that lead to the desired (though incorrect) conclusion. Here’s an example from a Bush speech on Oct 7, 2002 (quoted in a nice piece about the use of this technique more generally by Spinsanity):

”We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.”

Obviously the techniques work: you don’t have to explicitly tell people what conclusion to draw (because you would get called a liar, given that it’s an incorrect conclusion), but rather simply put things together in a way that most reasonable people would draw the incorrect conclusion you’re hoping for. Spinsanity calls this technique “strategic ambiguity.” I’d say that’s a generous way of putting it.


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More Freeway Signs

Reader Scarlet Pimpernel continues to find intersting signs Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles. Here’s one:

For I-5 travelers who, like Scarlet but unlike me, are fluent in Latin and familiar with the works of Wilfred Owen, there’s also a sign on the fence of Camp Pendleton that reads, “Dulce et Decorum est por Halliburton Mori” (“it is sweet and honorqable (or ‘decorus’) to die for Halliburton”).


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Bush Brings Back Big Government

I wonder how many conservative Republican voters appreciate the irony of this:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The era of big government, if it ever went away, has returned full-throttle under President Bush, who came to office championing “conservative ideas” as an alternative.

A report released on Friday by the Brookings Institution think tank and New York University said the “true size” of the federal work force — which includes employees for federal contractors and grant recipients — grew by more than one million, to 12.1 million, from October 1999 to October 2002.

The increase was linked to the war on terrorism that Bush launched after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, as well as to growth at the Department of Health and Human Services and other domestic agencies, the report said.

The growth represents a roughly 75 percent rebound from federal work force declines linked to the post-Cold War “peace dividend,” which helped enable former President Bill Clinton to declare in 1996 that “the era of big government is over.”

I can hear some die-hard Texas Republicans saying “Damn, I hated those liberals and their small governments. I’m glad we’ve got a good old-fashioned big-government conservative running things.”


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Democrats Debate, and Gephardt does a little historical revision

There were several decent Bush-bashing moments during the Democratic debate last night. One of my favorites was this one, as quoted in the Washington Post:

“This president is a miserable failure,” Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) said. “It’s incomprehensible to me that we would wind up in this situation without a plan and without international cooperation to get it done.”

Okay, I’m not a Gephardt fan, but I genuinely liked the line “This President is a miserable failure.”

HOWEVER, did anyone else who heard Gephardt say that line find themselves shouting at the radio (tv, or computer): “Then why the hell did you jump on Bush’s bandwagon about Iraq last fall, totally cutting the legs out from under Daschle and the other Democrats that were considering putting up some principled resistance!?!”

Seriously, Daschle and other Democrats were undecided about the Iraq resolution, and were considering asking Bush some tough questions. But in early October 2002, Gephardt and Lieberman both unexpectedly (to other Dems) showed up in the Rose Garden with Bush, saying very publicly that they supported him 100%, and that they would do everything in their power to get Bush’s resolution passed quickly. That action completely undermined the building determination among Dems on the hill to ask some serious questions about the Iraq resolution and Bush’s proposed handling of the Iraq situation. The rest is history.

Lieberman has at least been consistent since then. Yet Gephardt now is acting totally outraged by the way Bush has conducted things in Iraq, saying that he’s had a “miserable” foreign policy – when HE (Gephardt) was one of Bush’s enablers-in-chief last fall.


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