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Friday, August 29, 2003
Well, I Guess I'm In The Right Faith....
The Belief-o-Matic says I'm either a Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestant or a Unitarian Universalist. Hey...I am a Unitarian Universalist! And I used to be a Liberal Christain! This gol-darned thing works!
Hillary mulls bid?
No no no no no no no no no!
First off, Hillary, I love you and everything (not true, but go with me here), but you will never be President. Also, nice job, waiting to enter the race until it looked like Bush was vulnerable. Where were you six months ago?
No Hillary. No. No no no.
I'll still vote for you over Bush, though.
You just...don't...get it, do you, Bill?
Bill O'Reilly tries to intimidate yet another reporter over his pretend Peabody:
And while it's plausible that his slips were as innocent as O'Reilly now says they are, it's harder to understand why a man who boasts that his code of ethics requires him to never "distort anything or exclude anything" would have stopped short of explaining that he had nothing to do with the award in question.
Actually, he's lying. But that's a very diplomatic way of putting it, and I applaud you.
And the most mendacious President of the last twenty-two years is....
George W. Bush!
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Well, among them, Marc Racicot:
Among them, Racicot says former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean stated that Bush might suspend the 2004 election, called Bush "reckless" and "despicable," compared him to the Taliban and said Bush was trying to destroy Social Security, Medicare, public schools and public services.
No...that could never happen. Never!
Flood the Zone Friday
Thursday, August 28, 2003
He's an Indian Outlaw/Part Cherokee and Choctaw/His baby she's a Chippewa/She's a-one of a kind....
Toby Keith grows a brain:
Keith took a long pause to consider his words, and then added: "I was for Afghanistan, 100%. We got struck and the Taliban needed to be exterminated, but this war here, in Iraq, I didn't necessarily have it all worked out. It didn't work out for me. I know a tyrant is gone and all of that, but whether it was our duty to go do that, well, I haven't figured that out."
Ah, yes: the Dixie Chicks were horribly unpatriotic for criticizing the President. So said, well, Toby Keith. How long until we start boycotting?
David Kay of the Milky Way...er....
Josh Marshall on the forthcoming David Kay report:
Let's translate this: the Republican Guard's failure to use weapons of mass destruction might be explained by the fact that Saddam had shuttered his WMD programs until sanctions were lifted.
But of course, David Kay is not interested in the truth. He's interested in saving Bush's kiester. We'll see if this works.
There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See
Did Saddam trick the US into thinking he had Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein's suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.
So let's review. The neocons wanted war, and Ahmed Chalabi was giving them defectors who seemed to back the case for war. So the Bush administration focused on these defectors to the exclusion of any other evidence, and took us to war.
Maybe--maybe--this is a massive intelligence failure. That's a bit easier to swallow, on some level, than it being an outright lie by the Bushies. But more and more, it looks like we wanted to believe Saddam was an imminent threat so we could go to war. And wanting to go to war isn't a sufficient reason to do so.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Light Posting Today
Should be a light posting day, as I have the day off and will probably do stuff with my wife and daughter.
Just thought you'd like to know.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I'll be giving my review of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look At The Right soon. One word: funny. But one little cartoon from the book just has to be reproduced. (Disclaimer: text by Al Franken, illustration by Don Simpson. Used without permission as part of a review, and since I linked to Amazon, I imagine Dutton won't mind much, but I'll take it down if you want me to.)
The beauty of this is that the dirty story O'Reilly is telling Thomas comes from Bill O'Reilly's book Those Who Trespass. Really.
Go buy Franken's book if you haven't already.
Mich Berg: You may have the mojo, we've got the ball
Well, it's his metaphor, I just report it:
So it's third and five, and Bush knows he has to convert. A field goal is not an option.
Of course, Mitch, as any Vikings fan knows, if it's the Vikes third-and-five, needing a conversion to win, Daunte will throw a ball deep to Moss that will be deflected, and then, on the subsequent play, fumble. If the Vikes are on defense, Favre will pump once, twice, and throw over the top for a TD.
(I am a Vikings fan, but I've had my heart broken enough to get used to it.)
To take Mitch's metaphor further, though: the GOP may be third-and-five, just needing a first down, but that's not where they thought they'd be. They claimed before the war that they'd be up by three touchdowns at this point, with the starting quarterback out of the game resting up for the next tilt. The Dems were just supposed to lay down and die.
But we didn't. We're in there scrapping, and we're in the game, and the favored team--the GOP--is starting to show a little bit of fear. Yep, they've got the ball. But our defense is turning out to be pretty damn good.
Get Your Mojo Working Now, I'll Show You How....
Dwight Meredith expands on my earlier post:
It was not long ago that our Republican friends were assuring us that the war was the one and only issue that mattered for 2004. The war, the argument went, placed the Democrats against the views of the American people and assured Mr. Bush’s reelection.
Indeed. Things are not going to Karl's plan--and funny, but winning the war didn't make Bush invulnerable to criticism, did it? Huh. Strange how that happened.
Josh Marshall asks and answers the question. Short answer: because no moderate in the race is doing diddly squat.
And Then, There Are Times When I Remember Why I Voted For The Guy
Bill Clinton ripped into the GOP and the press at a conference in Aspen. Highlights:
Clinton kept referring to the media as...the "supine" media, pointing out that when Bush insulted Helen Thomas (who, by asking a rough question in the infamous prewar press conference had, Clinton said, "committed the sin of journalism"), no "young journalists" stood up and walked out.
Nice work, Slick Willie. Now, maybe some current officeholders can follow your lead.
We're Sending Iraq's Oil Where?
Oh yeah. Nothing says pro-Arab like shipping oil through Israel. The Iraqis will love this plan.
Opening line on life of this pipeline: Over/Under 1.23 Minutes.
God Help Me, I Agree With Bob Barr
At least up to a point:
Marriage is a quintessential state issue. The Defense of Marriage Act goes as far as is necessary in codifying the federal legal status and parameters of marriage. A constitutional amendment is both unnecessary and needlessly intrusive and punitive.
Of course, I think DOMA was a particularly dumb law. That said, it's nice to see an anti-gay politician come out against the insanely dumb idea of a Constitutional amendment "protecting" heterosexual marriage--and a states'-rights politician staying true to that ethic even when the result of granting states freedom might result in laws he disagrees with.
Maybe I shouldn't regret my '94 Governor vote....
Former Gov. Arne Carlson (R-MN) injects some sanity into the partisan sniping between Gov. Pawlenty and AG Hatch:
Since both political parties seem to be involved, as well as office holders of both parties, it may be well for the attorney general, as the state's chief legal officer, to meet with the leadership of the House and Senate and agree to the creation of a bipartisan panel to review all these matters. It would be my hope that this panel would be chaired by a distinguished retired jurist with an inquisitive mind. At the same time, perhaps we can also examine some of the more trivial rules that limit or prohibit normal human contact.
Of course, why would Gov. Timmy or AG Mikey agree to this when they can simply lob grenades at each other?
Bring 'Em On
Of course, things would've been worse had our mission not already been accomplished, right Mr. President? I mean--the mission has been accomplished, right?
Monday, August 25, 2003
Thoughts and Prayers....
Mine are with TBogg.
I've gotta admit, I like Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) He's been an incisive critic of the Bushies, and given that he was, you know, a General and all, it's tough to say he's soft on the military and hates America.
There are signs that Clark is about to enter the race for the Democratic nomination, and if so, it will certainly intrigue me. I remain undecided, committed to the Democrat best able to beat Bush, whomever he or she may be. Clark may be the guy. (So may Dean or Kerry).
The person with the most to lose from a Clark candidacy is Dean--he's the clear frontrunner, and any alteration in the political calculus affects the frontrunner most. (Kerry is second--yes, he's a Medal of Honor winner, but Clark was a General, and likely the winner in the "Hates America Least" race). And Dean--who has proven to be an able politician--knows it:
On Sunday, Dean told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that -- if nominated by his party -- he would consider tapping retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark as a vice presidential running mate.
Dean/Clark '04? It would be a pretty formidable team. Clark would help balance Dean on defense--Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq, while becoming more and more mainstream, still can be used to argue that he hates the military. Who better to counter that impression than the guy who used to run NATO? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but both Dean and Clark have the potential to beat GDub. This should be fun.
Putting the Fun back in Fundamentalism
Kos notes rising fundamentalism in Iraq. Oh, goodie. Because, you know, those fundamentalist Muslims tend to be so reasonable and pro-American.
A new featurette here at the BOTM, where I issue a hearty thank-you to the Republican party for helping the Democrats.
Thanks, GOP! Thanks to your manipulation of California's recall law, you've managed to do the impossible--turn Gray Davis into a sympathetic character. And thanks to your inability to plan for actually getting the recall on the ballot, you've given a huge boost to Davis' Lt. Governor, Cruz Bustamante.
Let's review: Davis is enormously unpopular and dealing with a budget deficit that has no possible politically popular solution. The GOP recalls Davis. Given what recent polls are saying, the likely outcomes are:
1. Davis is recalled, removing the Right's favorite whipping boy in Cali. Bustamante is easily elected to replace him, installing a Latino in the statehouse with none of Davis' baggage.
2. Davis manages to avoid being recalled, thus giving him a back-from-the-dead story that could resurrect his moribund campaign.
3. Pigs fly.
4. Hell freezes over.
5. The Republicans unite behind Ahnuld.
So there you have it. Nice side benefit: this should kill Arnold's chances at running in, say, 2006. Indeed, given Schwarzenegger's flat-line numbers, it should kill his political career altogether. This has managed to unite Democrats and divide Republicans, and in the end, the Democrats will be the big winners.
"God may take mercy on their soul but I want their butts in jail." Indeed.
Friday, August 22, 2003
The Invincible George W. Bush
Okay, hypothetical: let's say that a President has 52% approval, is tied in a generic reelect poll with the opposition party, 43%-43%, and in a poll asking whether he should be reelected or not trailed "not" 43%-48%. Is this President popular?
Why sure he is, because he's George W. Bush!
This just continues Bush's inexorable downward slide, and it brings me to something I've been noticing lately.
Before the war, the righty blogs had all the mojo. Reading Insty or Lileks or Mitch Berg's site was fun, because they were so damn giddy. They knew they had the momentum, they knew the big issue of the day favored them, and they were joyous.
Meanwhile, the lefty blogs were either dispairing or furious or, in my case (and a few more notable cases, like TPM), circumspect. The left knew we were on the wrong side of the White House door, and while not all of us opposed the war outright, most all of us were leery, to say the least, at the way the war was sold and prosecuted.
Fast-forward six months, and look around. Kos is at the top of his game, Josh Marshall is witty as Hell, Pandagon has found his voice, Atrios rules, and...well, pretty much any lefty blog you stumble into is sweetness and light, while righty sites grumble about media coverage and why people don't see things like they do.
And I realize something:
We've got the mojo now.
We have the momentum, the it, the zing. The issues favor us. The Bush administration is failing all over the place.
That doesn't mean we're thrilled about it. The fact is, we're a pretty pissed-off group--angry about deaths in Iraq, failures in the economy, sprialling deficits. But we're righteously, vocally angry now. And we know the issues of the day favor us.
The righties know they're on the short end of it. Why else would they spend so much time complaining about how we don't know the "real" Iraq? Why would they spend so much time in classic bully mode, tearing down France and the UN when they're hurt an suffering? It's because the neocon wet dream of a happy Iraq full of duckies and bunnies and chirping birds hasn't come to fruition--and people are starting to realize that the raison d'etre of the war wasn't a reason at all.
We're winning, folks, and that's a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because it's always better to be in the lead than behind. If you'd asked the Atlanta Falcons in the '99 NFC Championship Game if they'd trade halftime scores with the Vikings, they would've taken the seven-point lead 1000 times out of 1000.
But it's a curse because the leader doesn't always win. The Falcons beat the Vikings, breaking my heart in the process. Remember, the neocons were riding high six months ago.
We must guard against hubris. I don't think that's going to be hard to do. If the ego hasn't been kicked out of the Democrats in the last four years, it never will be. We have to scrap and fight like the future of the world depends on how we do--because it does. We must never stop working, never stop trying, never stop doing.
But we have the advantage, my friends. If we move together, for once, we can leverage that advantage into victory in 2004, and whether the person being cheered is Howard Dean or Wesley Clark or Dennis Kucinich, I'll be cheering loud and proud.
This is our moment, my friends. If we let this one slip away, we'll regret it forever. Let's win.
Requiem for a Foe
As I watch the desperate rear-guard fight of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to keep his enormous ediface of the Ten Commandments in place, I feel an emotion I am unaccustomed to feeling about these folks: sorrow.
Sorrow because this is so clearly the end of this fight. The Christian Conservatives have been fighting to keep the Ten Commandments in the public sphere for years, and they are about to lose, absolutely.
This is no longer an issue of states' rights; the Alabama Supreme Court--Moore's own court--voted 8-1 to move the statue in obeyance of the Federal Court's order. Moore is a lone holdout, asserting his personal right to religious freedom, the only right he can seriously note. His court wants the statue out. His state's government wants the statue out. Only Moore and a loyal cadre of supporters wants to keep the statue, and they will inevitably lose. It may take arrests, but the statue is coming down.
I could run through all the tired cliches that those of us on the Religious Liberty side of the culture war trot out: Moore's right to religious expression in his personal life has not been abridged, obedience to the law is demanded of jurists, the Ten Commandments are not acceptable in a secular sense so long as the First Commandment begins "I am the Lord your God," and so on, and so forth. But the fact is, today we have won. The people who support Justice Moore are about to get a harsh object lesson of the power of the Federal government and the First Amendment. And they will not like it.
So today, I want to win politely.
To Justice Moore's supporters: I commend you on your faith, though it differs from mine. Faith is a wonderful thing, capable of accomplishing great things. I challenge you to use your faith to make our nation a better place.
Worship as you will. Tout the Ten Commandments in your church. Get involved politically--no, really. I mean it. Our nation is best served when a number of people of different backgrounds and beliefs are involved.
You won't, and can't, win this one. That's life. Nobody has destroyed your right to worship God, though. Tonight, I'll pray for you. I don't know if prayers from a Unitarian count in your book, but I'm going to anyhow. You have fought with honor, and I salute you.
Flood The Zone Friday!
Go get 'em!
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Maybe we're wrong. Nah.
The Conservatives would never do what we evil liberals would do, and hijack the other side's machinery for their own goals, right?
Absolutely not. Never would happen.
The internet is forever, folks.
Flood The Zone Fridays
Not Geniuses want to stand toe to toe and duke it out with the Bush website. Good for them:
And every Friday, we want to use those tools to write letters and make calls highlighting a different part of the Bush disaster. This Friday will be fiscal irresponsibility day -- where we blanket the media with calls and letters about Bush's absurd fiscal policies. We're even going to get you the info, for instance, behold the Bush Record (if you're not a Dean supporter, just ignore the stuff about Dean).
This is a nice addition to the liberals' toolbox, especially when the Bush website is putting together some very nice interactive tools. Hey, if you're going to fight, let's fight. Take 'em bring!
UPDATE: And it isn't childish to do this. It's democracy in action. I know, conservatives would love to believe that anyone organizing in response to Fearless Leader is just throwing a tantrum, but come on--you're now angry at liberals for writing letters to newspapers and calling people? What can we do--simply stare straight ahead? Vote for Bush, or barring that, Bush? What's okay for us to do? Tell me, and I'll tell you to go fuck your head.
Up is Down! War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery!
Terrorist Bombings Are Good!
The sensless destruction of UN headquarters in Baghdad demonstrates just how desperate the Ba'athist underground has become. For as long as the Ba'athist remnants held fast to their strategy of assassinating American soldiers, they could plausibly represent themselves as rebels against a foreign occupation.
That's right, when terrorist blow up buildings, it really proves that they're weak, and they're losing. Heck, no need to step up attacks, we've won already! Just like when al-Qaieda blew up the World Trade Center....
Um, wait, no....
Uh, it's like the latest bombings in Israel....
Um...trust me on this, okay?
It's enough to make Josh Marshall really funny:
To be a policy, as opposed to a theological position, there must be some potential results that would show the policy was not working. The proponents of the policy should be able to say ahead of time that if this or that result happens, the policy has failed.
"The paradoxically positive mass-casualty terrorism event theory."
U.S. Representative Bill Janlow (R-SD) was speeding when he ran a stop sign, struck, and killed a motorcyclist, Randolph Scott of Hardwick, Minnesota.
Alcohol was not involved in the accident.
Janklow, who was widely seen as the Bush administration's pick to challenge Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2004, now is fighting for his political life as prosecutors weigh whether to charge the former Governor with felony second-degree manslaughter.
The accident occured about twenty-five miles northeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Now, some have suggested that Janklow may have to resign as a result of this incident. I doubt it. I realize that many are not familiar with the topography of flyoverland, but 25 miles northeast of Sioux Falls means that this occurred right on the Minnesota border, where there is...well...absolutely nothing. It's not uncommon for drivers in that neck of the woods to drive in a careless manner, on the assumption that there won't be anyone else on the road. It's a simple matter of playing the odds--when you're on a back road late at night, the odds are good that you can just blow through that stop sign and nobody will be there. Heck, you probably have done it more than a few times and gotten away with it.
This is not to trivialize or minimize the magnitude of this incident. Janklow is almost certainly done as a contender for Senate, and may well end up choosing not to face reelection. But until and unless Janklow is convicted of a felony, it is almost certain that he'll be able to stay in office. Indeed, I'm sure there are more than a few South Dakotans who view this as an accident--tragic, yes, but simply that. This will not force Janklow out.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
The Dividend Tax Cut Is Working...Not
The big dividend tax cut is working...well, about as well as the other Bush tax cuts:
In the weeks since Congress slashed the tax on dividends to 15 percent, stocks that pay dividends have fared worse than their brethren who stubbornly refuse to share their earnings with shareholders. According to Standard & Poor's, between the beginning of June and mid-August shares of dividend-paying members of the S&P 500 rose 2.5 percent, while shares of nonpayers rose 3.9 percent. And the goose provided by dividends—2.174 percent annually for payers—doesn't come close to making up the difference.
Hwah? I can't believe that this didn't turn out the way GDub suggested it would. I mean...he wouldn't lie to us, would he?
Oh yeah, that's right...he would.
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), you magnificent bastard, I salute you. By actually putting pressure on the RIAA, rather than roll over and let them scratch your belly and give you a few million bucks, you've managed to force them to state, on the record, that they won't go after low-use file traders, but rather, that they intend to target the big boys. Now don't let up--keep the threat of hearings on! My God, man, you keep doing this and you may just win my vote in '08 (it's a long shot, but so far, you're one out of one hundred Senators who seems to actually have their brain engaged on this issue). Good job.
Mission No Longer Accomplished!
Dana Milbank reports that Fearless Leader is no longer claiming that combat operations in Iraq are over:
In an interview with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service given on Thursday and released by the White House yesterday, Bush interrupted the questioner when asked about his announcement on May 1 of, as the journalist put it, "the end of combat operations."
Alas, poor George. Because we all remember his speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, where GDub said, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country." Even today, the White House Website touts Shrub's May 1 speech with the headline "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended."
But, you know, it depends on what the meaning of "ended" is.
It gets better, though. In the same interview, Bush commented on troops in that other country...tip of my tongue...you know, the one where that one guy who bombed those buildings lived...oh yeah, Afghanistan:
"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," [Bush] said. "And they're there to provide security and they're there to provide reconstruction help. But both those functions are being gradually replaced by other troops. Germany, for example, is now providing the troops for ISAF [International Security Assistance Force], which is the security force for Afghanistan, under NATO control. In other words, more and more coalition forces and friends are beginning to carry a lot of the burden in Afghanistan."
Unfortunately, those 10,000 US troops represent the largest number of troops stationed in Afghanistan since the war began--up from a December 2001 figure of approximately 3,000 troops, and 5,000 at the end of hostilities in Afghanistan.
Now, don't get me wrong: I would actually like to see more troops in Afghanistan. It might prevent things like the Taliban regouping and killing people. But it's a bit disconcerting to have the President--who presumably should know these things--
Jesse beat me to the punch by noting Insty's post on the UN bombing in Iraq:
EXPLOSION AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS IN BAGHDAD: Hmm. The problem is that everyone in Iraq, both pro- and anti-Saddam, has a reason to dislike the U.N., which makes assigning responsibility tricky. Put this together with the mortar attack on (presumably pro-Saddam) Iraqi prisoners the other day and it almost makes me wonder if there's a third force at work here. Follow the link for updates as they come in -- The Command Post is all over this story.
That's right Glenn, when the Iraqis attack the UN, it's because of the UN's inability to keep Saddam from causing environmental devastation in his quest to obliterate the Marsh Arabs (which, incidentally, the US was in position to prevent as well). Or, barring that, something else the UN did made the Iraqis mad. Certainly, the Iraqi attacks are explicable.
When the Iraqis attack us, it's just small pockets of Saddam loyalists who hate freedom.
Of course, the conservatives are showing the usual sensitivity towards the nine dead UN officials who were, by the way, helping the US rebuild Iraq.
It is obvious to me that Matthew Yglesias is an idiotarian.
I know, I know, idiotarian means "liberal", but it's the best word to describe this relentlessly inane post:
MY IDEOLOGY: For those of you who care to know, I'm an Obvioust. It means exactly what it says.
I won't bother refuting these--some are true, some are false, all are dull. I will say that I find it interesting that it's "obvious" the Dems have no chance in '04 when Bush's reelect is sub-50%. That's not exactly lights-out. Bush isn't a true conservative, but that's worse than actually being a true conservative--our nation's defecit would be in better shape, for one.
What I object to most, though, is the smug, "I'm right and you're wrong" tone of the post. It's what drives me nuts when lefties have bumper stickers that say "If You're Not Outraged You're Not Paying Attention!" That smug, self-satisfied, if-you-don't-agree-with-me-you're-an-idiot mentality that 'wingers on both sides so often fall into. It's obvious to me that when someone argues their positions on issues of the day are obviously true, they haven't thought more than two seconds about the positions they take. Obviously.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Mitch Berg is skewering Al Franken and City Pages. Not sure why, but heck, I'll be supporting his right to skewer if anyone sues him.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Blackout, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brittany Murphy, and featuring Sean William Scott as "Ziggy"
Kos brings it back to reality with his thoughts on the horrible, destructive blackout of ought three. His point, in a nutshell: hey, I grew up in El Salvador during a freakin' civil war, and you want to bitch because the power has been out for two whole days?
I myself found the whole world-coming-off-its-axis reporting of the blackout to be so...frickin'...typical. First off, a question: did you see any shots of Cleveland? Ottawa? Toronto? Albany? No, you did not. What did you see? New York City. Why? Because if it happens to the people of New York City, it's a lot more important than if it happens to anyone else. If the blackout had hit, say, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Omaha, Denver, and every other major metropolitan area east of Phoenix and west of Philadelphia, the coverage would've been something like this:
A bunch of people are without power due to some sort of problem. Back to you, Steve.
Never mind that the good people of Cleveland were without water for a couple of days (a problem far more serious than lack of power)--this was all about NYC, and the hard-knock life of those that live there.
Second--for Jebus' sake, it was a power outage. I'm as rabid a technophile as there is, and I've managed to survive power outages of over twenty-four hours before. Fun? No...well actually, yeah, for a while. In '99, a friend and I were reduced to playing a Trivial Pursuit drinking game when our plans to watch Spice World on video were dashed by a thunderstorm. (I'm not kidding.) And guess what? We lit some candles, drank some beer, and went to sleep. (I probably would've enjoyed the evening more had I been with my future wife, and not my friend...but that's life.)
Point is, it's not like there was a tsunami that wiped out the eastern seaboard. It's not like this was 9/11 redux. This was a big power outage. Should we look at why it happened, and try to prevent the problems in the future? Well, of course. But beyond that, let's take a deep breath and get our frickin' bearings back.
Oh, and one other thing: before people start lambasting the French for being wimps when 3,000 of them die from a very real, very devastating heatwave, let's remember that plucky American can-do spirit of the blackout of ought three, when we as a nation came together to whine about not being able to play our DVDs for twenty-four whole hours. And then, let's shut the Hell up.
Flight One, now boarding for Pandemonium. Flight One, now boarding for Pandemonium.
Idi Amin is dead.
The line to dance on his grave starts in Uganda and stretches 'round the world. Good riddance.
Meanwhile, in 1974, Richard Nixon was lying to the American people....
I'll be the first to admit that the lefties have had some dumb ideas about energy (liberal opposition to nuclear power, for example, has made it difficult to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses), but does it really make sense for the National Review Online to go after Paul Ehrlich for things he wrote in 1974? I wasn't even born when these books were first written--and I'm damn near thirty. If you want to criticize liberals, why don't you google the crazy anti-trade left? I'm sure they've got something dumb to say. Going after Ehrlich is like me saying I'm going to rip up that stooge Barry Goldwater for things he said during the '64 campaign. (I never would, of course; I actually admire Goldwater. But still....)
As The Worm Turns
Sorry posting has been light, my PC has been hit by the Blaster Worm, which is causing my PC to reboot approximately every two minutes whenever I connect to the internet--which, needless to say, limits my blogging time at home. (I'm posting this on a break from work at the local library). Hope to get everything fixed tonight, but we'll see.
Note to hackers: very cute, going after Microsoft. There's something nobody's ever thought of before. You must be very proud.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Do you believe in miracles? Yes!
1980 was a bad year for America. The Iranians held Americans hostage, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, and President Carter was not exactly making Americans feel better.
In the midst of this, in Lake Placid, NY, a plucky band of American hockey players was playing the Soviet national team in the semifinals of the olympic games, in what was sure to be a blowout. Just a couple weeks before, the same Soviet squad had embarassed the Americans, 10-2, in Madison Square Garden.
But as we all know, this game was different. This time, the Americans came out on fire, and the Soviets were back on their heels. When the Soviet coach pulled his goaltender after the second period--in a tie game, no less--there was little doubt: the Americans owned this game.
As the crowd chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!" for the first time anywhere, the Americans held on through ten minutes for a 4-3 victory, a victory that culminated in Al Michaels' chilling "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" call. And for a brief shining moment, everything was okay. There was a bit of pride in America again.
The Americans went on to win the gold that year, defeating Finland to cap one of the most, if not the most, stunning upsets in the history of sport. For America, it was a special moment.
For Minnesota, though, it was a little more special. A number of Minnesotans headlined the squad, including the great Neal Broten. A number of members of the 1979 NCAA champion University of Minnesota team were on the ice for Team USA. And of course, the coach was the incomparable former Gophers coach Herb Brooks, a motivator nonpareil, who took a squad of kids up against a Red Army squad that had been playing together for over a decade, that hadn't lost an olympic game since 1968, and won.
Yesterday, Herb Brooks--former coach of the Gophers, North Stars, Penguins, Rangers, Devils, the French national team (in 1988) and Team USA (in 1980 and 2002)--died when his car rolled over. He was coming back to the Twin Cities from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, southbound on Interstate 35W.
Herb Brooks was a legend, but more than that, he was a good man with a passion for his sport. Many have noted that he was as willing to discuss peewee hockey as pro, as interested in the Minnesota State High School League as the NHL. He led his nation's team to a silver medal in 2002, and the most unlikely of golds in 1980. He was one of the finest coaches--and ambassadors of the game--in the history of hockey.
Herb Brooks was sixty-six years old. He will be missed.
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against the Texas GOP in their ongoing fight to redistrict.
Fair and Balanced
FOX News is suing Al Franken over his new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Penguin, 2003). Why? Because he uses the term "Fair and Balanced" a term FOX says only applies to them. Also, his cover apes the look of some Bill O'Reilly books.
There's a word to describe what Franken has done:
par·o·dy ('par-&-dE) n. 1 : a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule 2 : a feeble or ridiculous imitation
That's right, FOX: Al Franken is parodying you! And leave aside all the trademark issues and such, parodies are protected speech. What is Franken parodying? Well, obviously, FOX's insane claim that they are, in fact, "fair and balanced."
So to show our solidarity with Mr. Franken, a number of blogs--from Eschaton to Pandagon to little ol' me are declaring that we, too, are "Fair and Balanced." Heck, I think I could prove in court that I am, in fact, more fair and balanced than FOX. And I look forward to trying.
One last thing: this is further proof of Fecke's Second Law: Attempts to censor material equal money in the pocket of the censored (cf. The Last Temptation of Christ, et. al.). (The First Law, of course, is "If you dig a hole and fill it with water, people will throw money in it.") Al Franken's book has jumped from #52 to #20 on Amazon. Thanks, FOX!
Friday, August 08, 2003
Frank Gaffney's Big Lie
Those nasty Democrats are lying about our Heroic Leader and his *ahem* questionable handle on the truth in the run-up to war in Iraq.
So says Frank W. Gaffney of FOX News.
As Horation Saenz might say, "Reeeeeealy?"
It's Fisking Time!
Adolf Hitler once observed that it was easier to convince people of a "big lie" repeated often enough than it was to deceive them with a lot of small ones.
Okay, first off: Jebus, we're two sentences in, and already this article is in flagrant violation of Godwin's Law (As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one....More precisely, the subsequent value of the thread is zero. It may be continued anyway - some people will put great effort into explaining why the analogy between Nazis and whatever is annoying them is, on this occasion, fully justified and illuminating. And other people will patiently explain why it isn't and why such comparisons are demeaning to those involved in either event. ) If Bush=Hitler is wrong, so is Gore=Hitler and Dean=Hitler.
And come on, The Big Lie again? That's so 1982.
It is ironic that the big lie now being disseminated with increasing frequency from Democratic political podiums across the country is that George W. Bush is a liar. Specifically, the charge is that he dissembled, misled, prevaricated and even lied about the justification for going to war with Iraq earlier this year.
He also hid the ball, changed the subject, and feigned confusion.
Just yesterday, variations on this theme were pronounced by two prominent Democratic partisans -- the party's 2000 standard-bearer, former Vice President Al Gore and a leading contender to become its next nominee, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
Well, let's look at Gore's charges, via Pandagon:
(1) Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001, so a good way to respond to that attack would be to invade his country and forcibly remove him from power.
Got it? Gore is complaining that Bush was ramping up the threat, creating an appearance of imminent danger when the danger from Saddam was apparently considerably less.
Let's go back to Frank.
President Bush did not lie to the American people about the reasons that prompted him to believe liberating Iraq was a necessary step. Rather, he and his subordinates laid out a compelling case on the basis of what was known at the time -- and, in those areas where we could not be absolutely certain of the facts, what were the best and most prudent judgments available.
Oh really? You mean, we looked at all the data, and didn't, say, ignore CIA officials who questioned how much of a threat Saddam was, right? We didn't put pressure on the CIA to go along with the Iraq=al Qaieda bit, right?
Specifically, the Bush administration told the American people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- a view formally espoused, by the way, by the United Nations, bipartisan majorities in Congress and by then-Vice President Al Gore's superior, President Bill Clinton. The precise whereabouts of those weapons today is still under active investigation by a forensic team led by one of the best experts in the field, David Kay. It may be some time before they are unearthed, perhaps literally, from the sands of Iraq (as have been Saddam's air force and components of his nuclear centrifuge program).
Again, it's wonderful to see that the right wing now believes that Bill Clinton was a great, visionary foreign policy President.
Yes, lots of people thought Saddam had WMDs. But nobody save Bush wanted to go to war over them. Why? Because many people thought that the threat from whatever WMDs Hussein once had were greatly diminished--that anything left over from before the sanctions regime was probably too damaged to repair, and that Saddam did not have the capability to really ramp up production.
Everybody knows that Saddam has had Weapons of Mass Destruction in the past. That wasn't the point. The point is that the Bush administration was saying the Iraqis could use the weapons at any moment--now! Within forty-five minutes! Look out--Iraqi warhead! They weren't saying that the weapons were buried underground, where it would take days, if not weeks, to ready them. It was about an imminent threat, not a theoretical one.
The likelihood that such weapons will be found in due course has prompted few of the president's critics -- even those who contend he misled us about the quality of these weapons and/or their availability for use -- to declare they aren't there.
Well, nothing's been proven. And I wouldn't be shocked to find out that there are a few chemical warheads here and there, maybe one or two labs working on bioterror--although the odds on the latter are lengthening daily. But even if we find a dozen chemical warheads, that doesn't mean that Saddam had anything like the offensive capability that the Bush administration claimed.
A particularly egregious example of the big lie is the endlessly repeated contention that President Bush misled the American people in his State of the Union address. In fact, what he said on that occasion was true. There was abundant reason to believe that Saddam Hussein was bent on rebuilding his nuclear weapons program; Iraq was scouring the world for technology, expertise and materials to do just that.
Again: Bill Clinton did not believe that oral sex was sex. Therefore, when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," what he was saying was technically true.
What we know about Bush's statement is that the CIA explicitly warned him that the evidence for the statement was highly suspect--and that the British intelligence was no more solid. You can say that Bush was saying something technically true, but that just means it was a lie.
As for the assertion that Bush needed to consider the Niger uranium thing--well, sure. Maybe the intelligence was enough to think about and ponder. But nobody's saying he couldn't use it in his deliberations. We're saying that it was questionable information that our own intelligence personnel discounted. That's not being honest in anyone's book.
The President was also correct in characterizing Saddam's regime as one with long-standing ties to international terrorist organizations. This was similarly a matter of record, as reflected in Iraq's status as an official "state-sponsor of terror" under successive American administrations. Abu Nidal lived for years in Baghdad; Yasser Arafat, his and other Palestinian terror organizations and the families of their suicide bombers garnered millions of dollars in support from Saddam; and individuals and groups linked to al Qaeda were known to have operated from Iraqi territory.
Abu Nidal, if memory serves, was part of Hamas. (Correct me if I'm wrong). Yasser Arafat is part of the PLO. Saddam gave away millions to suicide bombers, sure, but they were part of the intefadah, not al-Qaieda. And while members of al-Qaieda may have operated from Iraqi territory, they also operate out of Saudi Arabia--a country whose government has real, demonstrable ties to al-Qaieda.
Interestingly, a U.S.federal judge who has been working for the past few months in Iraq told Al Gore's hometown paper, The Tennessean, recently that -- on the basis of his own investigation into the matter -- he was convinced Saddam actually had direct ties as well to Usama bin Laden's organization.
Well--a U.S. federal judge told the Tennesseean that there's an Iraq-al-Qaieda link? Well, that's good enough for me! And it's Al Gore's hometown paper, too. How embarrassing for him!
The truth is that, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush felt obliged to prevent a known state-sponsor of terror with access to weapons of mass destruction and an oft-stated desire to exact revenge against this country from acting on that desire, through cut-outs or otherwise, with instruments capable of causing incalculable damage to this country.
Well, the instruments found so far are capable of causing prety calculable damage: Attack x Zero=Zero. Zero damage.
As for this being the truth, well it is, as best we can tell. Bush wanted the war, and believed for all his heart that the neocon intelligence he was being fed was true. Unfortunately, he didn't listen to anyone else who thought it might not be exactly true.
As to the question of what would come as and after Iraq was liberated, no one could say for certain. But those who speculated that large numbers of Iraqis would welcome the end of Saddam Hussein's despotic rule and that foreign governments would help in the reconstruction of Iraq have not been wrong. Indeed, it is a gross distortion to suggest otherwise, simply because some of those who benefitted from the ancien [sic] regime remain loyal to it and a number of countries are withholding assistance to the Iraqi people in the hopes of blackmailing the United States into acceding to a preeminent U.N. role in post-war Iraq.
At this point, I think the United States would welcome a preeminent UN role in post-war Iraq, but we haven't had any takers. At all.
As for the argument that many Iraqis are happy that Saddam is out, I say: well, duh. Of course they are. Saddam was a brutal tyrant and we're all glad to see the back of him. That, however, has never been a justification for war. Besides, there are obviously sufficient numbers of angry Iraqis to kill a number of U.S. troops--as many since the fall of Saddam's statue as before.
In short, far from lying about Iraq, President Bush has done an admirable job not only of characterizing what was at stake, but in acting accordingly. The partisan motives of those who must discredit his wartime leadership if they are to have any chance of removing him from office are clear. But it is they who are guilty of serial distortion and misrepresentation -- yes, a big lie -- about Iraq, not this President.
This is becoming a meme--that the only reason Democrats are criticizing the President is for political gain. It was repeated by the President himself today.
But the fact is, a number of significant questions have been raised about what information Americans were given in the run-up to the war. My problem is not that Saddam is gone. I'm glad he's gone. And in the end, the number of American troops who died to rid Iraq of him will be more than balanced by the number of Iraqis alive because he's gone--provided we do a good job of ensuring stability in post-war Iraq.
But there can be no doubt that the administration shaded the truth about Iraq, at the very least. They told us that Iraq had significant stores of WMDs; Iraq did not. They told us that Iraq was working closely with bin Laden; they were not. They told us that Iraq was going to give terrorists WMDs; the CIA indicated that this was likely only if Iraq was attacked and Saddam's regime was crumbling (which could be where the missing WMDs are--in which case the war has made us less safe). And they told us that Iraq was trying to procure unrefined uranium from Nigeria; this is unlikely, as Iraq probably already had a significant amount of unrefined uranium--and besides, unrefined uranium does you zero good if you can't refine it. Of course, that last point has been all but proven false.
So did the Bush administration mislead America? Well, I report, you decide, but I'd have to say yes, Mr. Gaffney. And that's not politics talking. The truth will out--it did with Clinton, and it is with Bush. And that statement is literally true.
I don't usually beg for money, but what they hey. I'm just an average guy with a two-bit blog. I'm not a law professor or a former editor of The New Republic. I'm just a guy working hard and noting my stale, rehashed thoughts on the world for an audience of tens.
So I'm here today to ask you to support the site, if you feel like it. I'm not asking for hundreds. Just a few bucks dropped in my Amazon Tip Jar, or if you'd rather get something for your money, buy something in my cafe press store--hey, I've got Ann Coulter is a Vapid Idiot and Bill O'Reilly is a Moron t-shirts, sweatshirts, and baby gear!
And if nothing else, just drop a comment telling me what you like about the blog, and what I can do better. I'm not just writing this for myself--it's part of it, sure, but not the whole thing. Anyhow, thanks for listening--we now return you to continued rants about George Bush.
RonK notes the polls over at Kos' site. Here's the summary:
Pew Research Center Poll 2,528 adults, polled 7/14-8/15
Margin of Error: +/- 2%
Bush Job Approval
Bush Generic Re-Elect
(Sub-Sample of 1,866 Voters, MOE +/- 2.5%)
Notes: Bush's Approve/Disapprove margin is the lowest of his term, pre- or post-9/11. It is lower than the +17% approval of 9/5/2001. In the generic re-elect, Bush is in positive territory--which is better than his all-time worst showing of -4 in a Quinnipiac University poll just before the Iraq War. Still, as I noted then, it's a big flashing warning light when the generic re-elect falls below fifty percent, and Bush's lead is within the margin of error.
Of course, I blame the biased liberal media. Or possibly Bush's many screw-ups. I will say it right here, right now: the 2004 Presidential election will be close, and I'm going to go out on a limb--the Democratic nominee will win.
So the hijackers of Flight 93 may have crashed the plane deliberately rather than let the rebelling passengers sieze control of the airplane and possibly bring them to justice.
To which I say: so what?
Does this matter? I suppose it tells us a little of what was going on, but in the end, whether the passengers actually siezed control of the plane or merely forced the hijackers' hands, it doesn't matter. By rebelling against the agressors, the men and women of Flight 93 saved lives. Period. That plane was not bound for Pennsylvania farmland. It was bound for the eastern seaboard, probably Washington, and it was aimed at scores more people. The actions of the passengers of Flight 93 saved untold lives, and they are heroes. All this information tells us is that the preceding sentence is true.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Kos Is Right
It's time to Dump Gray, even if it means a potential Democratic loss in California. Go. Read.
Monday, August 04, 2003
Dean Leads in Iowa
According to a new Des Moines Register poll helpfully analyzed by Kos. The lead--23% for Dean, 21% for Gephardt, 14% for Kerry, 10% for Lieberman, with the balance undecided/other--is hardly rock-solid. But Gephardt has to win Iowa convincingly to remain viable, while a Dean victory in the Midwest would be damaging to Kerry in the Battle of New Englanders.
Of course, Iowa rarely means anything conclusive--but it is an interesting early show of strength for Dean, and tends to lock him in as the clear front-runner at this point--indeed, even a strong second in Iowa would make him the man to beat.
Democrats Hate GDub
It's true. While the GOP touts how wonderful this presidency is, Democrats are as angry at Bush as the Republicans ever were at Clinton.
My personal disdain for the Bush presidency has driven me back to the Democratic party--and I can't imagine I'm alone. As Terry McAullife (or someone posing as him--because this person makes sense!) said, "It's George Bush who will serve as the biggest unifying force for our party." Amen.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
I haven't commented on the whole BBC/Tony Blair flap because, well, I just plain don't care. But still, I had to chuckle and wonder what all the warbloggers will think of the new MORI poll that shows more people trust the BBC than Tony Blair, and not by a narrow margin, either. The margin is 59%-41%, a huge gap.
Again, I don't care. I just think it's funny.
Terror is Terror is Terror
The Earth Liberation Front should be treated like any other terror group. The radical environmental group torched a San Diego condo complex, an action that cost millions of dollars and endangered countless people's safety. Of course, the ELF knows better than the rest of us; they're fighting sprawl, right?
They're thugs. Hooligans. Idiots of the first rank, who substitute their judgement of what is meet and proper for the judgement of society. They dress up their vandalism in pretty slogans, and hide behind a veil of secrecy.
They're a terror organization. Like al-Qaieda or the IRA. That they haven't killed anyone directly--yet--is of no matter. They should be pursued like any other terror organization, and their organization must be brought to an end.
Christopher Hitchens Just Can't Write
Okay, he can. But he writes the dumbest things--for example, he's claiming that Bob Hope wasn't funny.
Why not? Well, as best as I can tell, his jokes weren't edgy enough. Now, I'll admit, I love edgy humor, but Hope was an entertainer and humorist for about seventy years; I should be so unfunny.
Week two of Dot...dot...dot....and I'm still going strong, baby!...Is it me, or is Norm Coleman suddenly looking like a good Senator? Somebody needs to hit me quick, before I start going back to my 1997-era infatuation. (But he brought hockey back to Saint Paul! And...and Lawson! And he's so smooth! And...well....okay, I've snapped out of it.)...The Vikings keep claiming they're going to be good this year, but given everything since the 2001 NFC Championship game, I'm gonna see what happens when the season starts....The Twins are 4 1/2 back, and time's a-wastin'. And you can't lose by seven to the frickin' Tigers and be a contender...I still don't know who I support for President, but mark my words, this is going to be a race between Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt...and Dean will win it....
A year ago today was supposed to be the day my daughter was born. It wasn't. She made us wait a full week, and even then didn't come out willingly. (I'll tell the story next week--it's a good one.) But that means a year ago I was waiting with baited breath, sure that I was going to be a father any minute. Well, it was worth the wait...I still haven't read the new Harry Potter book. I'd buy it, but my Mom has a copy that my dad's halfway through, and I just can't see spending money on it when I can borrow it in a few weeks. All this means one thing: I'm getting older an less impulsive. Trust me, that's a good thing....
Gov. Jesse Ventura's portrait will be hung at the capitol soon. Word is that it's a pretty normal painting. Too bad--I was hoping for Peter Max-style psychadelia. At least we can assume he won't be sporting a U of M letter jacket a la Gov. Arne Carlson (R-MN). And thank God for that....The weather is beautiful in Minnesota, but it can't possibly last; winter is coming. We know it. August is just a cruel reminder of how nice summer can be....
I need new scotch, but can't afford it. If anyone wants to send me a bottle of Lagavulin or Macallan, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for shipping info....Ben Stone has a new blog, Hoy Puhloy, that's worth checking out....And that's it for this week. Talk soon!
Norm Used Napster!
Okay, points off for Clintonian backpeddaling, but the Junior Senator admitted that he has downloaded songs from Napster in the past, and he continued to pressure the RIAA in a Washington Post interview.
Yes, "'I must confess, I downloaded Napster, and then Napster was found to be the wrong thing. I stopped,'" sounds a lot like "I didn't inhale," but so what? In an era when most Senators know as much about computers as warp field theory and many are quick to find ways to back the music industry, Coleman has demonstrated an actual understanding of the nuances of this issue, and has rightfully questioned RIAA tactics. Yes, he opposes illegal file sharing, but he also has noted that it's important not to criminalize 11-year-olds.
Kudos to Coleman for taking the lead on this issue. It would be easy for him to sit back and take the RIAA party line on this one--everyone from Conyers to Hatch has--but instead he did what a Senator is supposed to do: look into issues that affect the public trust and do something about it. I have my issues with Norm, mainly dealing with his character (short explanation: Norm Coleman and Bill Clinton have quite a bit in common), but this is twice he's done the right thing on a critical issue, the other being ANWAR. Good job, Norm.
(And as a Democrat-ish guy, Mark Dayton, would you like to take any sort of similar lead on an issue? Any issue? I voted for Dancin' Jim Gibson [IP-MN] for Senate in '00, and you have hardly locked up my vote for '06. Do something!)
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Hey, it was only $900
Richard Perle took money to appear on foreign news shows. He doesn't even deny it. But hey, the article's in The Nation, so it doesn't count.
Saddam Hussein is an Idiot
At least, if you believe this Associated Press story. According to the story, Hussein was acting as if he had WMD in order to use the threat as a deterrent--when the WMD program had already been shuttered.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A close aide to Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion.
I could note that some other leaders surround themselves with yes-men and loyalists, but of course, that would be hitting below the belt.
This does show a miscalculation by Saddam of epic proportions, and may at least partially explain why the Bush administration screwed up so thoroughly on the issue of WMD. Of course, the Bush administration might have considered this a possiblility--but that didn't agree with the standard line of the day.
One thing this article does prove: Saddam was no evil genius. Anyone with a scintilla of a clue knew that if Saddam had thrown open his doors in November and said, "Hey, look, no WMDs! None at all! Here's where we disposed of them! Look!", that the U.S. would simply have been unable to invade--there would have been no political will at home and no support abroad. So Saddam was thrown out of office for trying to appear dangerous.
Yes, I can credit the Junior Senator from the great state of Minnesota when he warrants it. Norm Coleman (R-MN) sent a shot across the bow of the RIAA on Thursday, requesting copies of the 900 subpoenas the RIAA has served since it began its crackdown on individual users, and expressing concern about possible abuses by the RIAA.
Coleman, chair of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, wrote, "Surely it was not Congress' intent when it passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to short-circuit due process protections, relegate a U.S. District Court to providing 'rubber stamp' subpoenas, enable the music industry to collect information about consumers with little or no restrictions, and place numerous average consumers at risk of bankruptcy."
Amen to that, Nahm. Memo to the RIAA: when the Republicans are starting to turn on you, you may want to rethink your strategy. And, by the way, memo to the Democrats: which one of you is going to have Sen. Coleman's back on this one?