Archive for December, 2005

We Hit 2006

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, is was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

Ah, but if everybody started to write it, the genius Charles Dickens’ famous opening lines of Tales of Two Cities would look like “It was a dark and stormy night”, right?

I think in terems of “age of foolishness” and “age of wisdom” and a post about Science in Politics that I keep meaning to write, but can’t figure out a hook. Except to say:

“As this is written, American liberals have made scarcely a new proposal for reform in twenty years. It is not evident that they have any important new ideas. Reputations for liberalism or radicalism continue to depend almost exclusively on a desire to finish the unfinished social legislation of the New Deal.” — John Kenneth Galbrith, 1952

Which echoes a quote from a couple years ago about how the Democratic Party hasn’t had a single new idea since, say, the idea that we oughta land a man on the moon.

If he says so. Kind of. Sort of. It’s always been thus.

In the meantime, Onward and upward for Science and technology!

Stem cell research. EVOLUTION!!! alternative energy sources.

Terri Schiavo got nobody anywhere politically, did it?

I don’t know where I’m going here. The big Democratic victor of 2005, the new governor of Virginia, won by wrapping himself around Jesus. (Shrug). We march onward, though, in spite of ourselves.

We will get to the bottom of this, and throw huge parades in his/her honour.

Friday, December 30th, 2005

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating who disclosed a secret domestic eavesdropping operation approved by President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks, officials said on Friday.

“We are opening an investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of classified materials related to the NSA,” a Justice Department official said on condition of anonymity.

Why? To give the leaker a medal? To give him a parade? How are we going to honor him?

Earlier this month, Bush acknowledged the program and called its disclosure to The New York Times “a shameful act.” He said he presumed the Justice Department would investigate who leaked the National Security Agency eavesdropping operation to the newspaper.

A shameful act, eh?

“Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”

Why did Bush say that back on April 20, 2004 — if not to alleviate Americans’ concerns that constitutional guarantees may not be in place and evesdropping on American citizens is bad (A tact which he’s dithered on to the position that it is good, and hey! Look! At that April 20th occasion, he stood before a wall of slogans saying “Protection. Prevention. Enforcement.” Actually, why did Bush say this at all? It doesn’t make sense to me to voluntarily lie like that. The time a politician would lie would be when confronted with a question that demands an immediate answer, or if the question is imminent and on everybody’s mind at the shindig — as with Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky”. Bush Administration itself has set up a few safeguards to stop a quote like that from: he makes few press conferences, speaks before safe crowds, Scott McClellan is out of the loop on all matters for his daily silly routine, and he has gay prostitutes in his pool of questioners.

Hillary Clinton Unblogged

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

I note that these two books are 50% off, and thus essentially non-sellers, after several months at Borders:

Dick Morris? The man who sometime during Bush’s Great Plunge of 2005 recommended in his column (I believe in the New York Post, though I could be mistaken) that Bush should become the “Environmental President”. (That would be nice, but while Nixon could go to China, he couldn’t spearhead “good government” reforms.) Susan Estrich? Didn’t she manage the Michael Dukakis campaign? Why are these two people given a prime space within our political spheroid? (The answer is in part that Fox News keeps them alive because it fits their political agenda.)

Hillary Clinton has popped up a bit within the chattering classes, as we run into the 2008 election. Thus we get:

“She has the left in her back pocket,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac institute. “She doesn’t have to worry about catering to them. She has to worry about attracting centrist Democrats, the mainstream of the party.”

I’m a bit bemused. Yes? No? I don’t know. This looks to me like a statement made to set in stone. Or by saying it, you make it so (or make the perception be), because that suits the way the powers that be want it to… be.

Meanwhile, I and many bloggers bigger than I (and smaller than I, for that matter) will continue to rave against Hillary Clinton. I personally will not acknowledge her primary challenge — it smacks of a dead end —

I found The Nation’s glowering cover article on Hillary Clinton annoying. It came a couple months before their big “Line in the Sand — we will not support candidates who do not come out strongly against the war” cover. Good thing they got the Hillary Clinton article in before that issue — otherwise they would’ve looked pretty stupid, right? I guess Hillary Clinton is grandfathered in against that rule.


Teaching Math to LaRouchites

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

I send you back to the 2004 Washington Post piece, which if you have a few minutes you may want to read (or re-read as the case may be). But I will dwell on one small segment, the “Doubling of the Square” that LaRouchites apparently contemplate when they first attend a “LaRouche Cadre School” as to learn how to “think outside the box”.

LaRouche is preparing them to wage a new American revolution, Matthew Ogden, 21, says. He was a music student, studying bassoon at Indiana University, when planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Now, like Rouillard, he spends much of his time trying to persuade other young people to escape “the whatever generation, the culture of dullness” and become “historic individuals.”

Youth movement members attend LaRouche-sponsored classes where they learn how great figures of history such as Benjamin Franklin are similar to LaRouche. “You understand how they were operating in history and, even though they are dead, now you are actually carrying on their mission,” Ogden explains.

And they learn … um… mathematics? (Or supposedly relevant to LaRouchism Socratic dialouges.)

LaRouche, he says, challenges young people to ask the most important question: What is truth? “LaRouche and the youth movement have discovered a method where you can discover truth,” Hamler says.

What’s the method? “We have to double the square,” Hamler says, smiling.

LaRouche followers are big on doubling the square. Outside the room where LaRouche just spoke is a signboard marked with a square and the teasing question: “Can you double this square?” As Hamler leads a reporter through trying to double the square, a small crowd gathers. Young faces light up with encouraging smiles.

“This is from Plato; don’t worry,” Hamler says. “Let’s say you have a square with an area of one, what are your sides going to be? That’s right, one times one is one. Your area is one. Now, what I’m going to need you to do is double the area of the square. Physically, how could I produce a square with the area of two?”

A square where each side is two won’t do. Its area would be four. “Once you investigate things like this, what you automatically run into is what is called the paradox,” Hamler says. “You run into a problem that lies outside the way you are already thinking . . . You are going to have to think outside the way you were thinking to make this discovery, to make a breakthrough.”

You could draw a square where each side is the square root of two — but that number has an infinite decimal, with numerals stretching on forever. “How can you have a finite measurement?” Hamler asks. “How can you have a discrete side?”

So the problem can’t be solved?

“No, it’s doable,” Hamler’s friend chimes in. “There is a solution. But you are coming to see for yourself right now what happens when a system of thinking is, in itself, not adequate for the creation of something that you are looking for. When that’s the case, if you are not willing to change the way you are thinking about it, you are screwed.”

“That’s what the baby boomers are, screwed,” Hamler says.

Well, they at least know that doubling the sides of a square is quadrapling the area of the square, and that to produce a square with a measurement double the measurement of said square, the formula for the sides of the square are sqrt(2n) where n is the measurement of the side of the square. I apologize the square root of two has an infinite number of decimals (and that is the box that the LaRouchites have dug for themselves in not accepting such a thing), but for any practical purpose you round off after 2 decimal points, or for more advanced work, 5 decimal points… anything beyond that is just kind of gratuitous.

How that is supposed to bring me enlightenment or how this is supposed to blow my mind, I do not know. But now that I have let everybody in on the secret of “doubling squares”, there no longer is a need for anyone to attend the LaRouche cadre schools or to join the LaRouche Youth Movement.

slight update: Wow. Look who was interviewed on the “LaRouche Show”.

I’m talking, of course, about Lyndon LaRouche. And we’ll be joined later by a panel of LaRouche Youth Movement members who participated in the project with Mr. LaRouche: We’ll have on with us today, Cody Jones, Jason Ross, and Riana St. Classis.

So, we’ll begin by welcoming to The LaRouche Show, Lyndon LaRouche. How are you today, Lyn?

Uh. Huh. Lyndon LaRouche interviewed on the LaRouche Show, followed by a panel of the LaRouche Youth Movement. And perahps a musical interlude from the Lyndon LaRouche All-Star Band?

“Just so long as I’m the dictator”

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

FROST: So what in a sense, you’re saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

FROST: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they’re in an impossible position.

FROST: So, that in other words, really you were saying in that answer, really, between the burglary and murder, again, there’s no subtle way to say that there was murder of a dissenter in this country because I don’t know any evidence to that effect at all. But, the point is: just the dividing line, is that in fact, the dividing line is the president’s judgment?

NIXON: Yes, and the dividing line and, just so that one does not get the impression, that a president can run amok in this country and get away with it, we have to have in mind that a president has to come up before the electorate. We also have to have in mind, that a president has to get appropriations from the Congress. We have to have in mind, for example, that as far as the CIA’s covert operations are concerned, as far as the FBI’s covert operations are concerned, through the years, they have been disclosed on a very, very limited basis to trusted members of Congress. I don’t know whether it can be done today or not.

FROST: Pulling some of our discussions together, as it were; speaking of the Presidency and in an interrogatory filed with the Church Committee, you stated, quote, “It’s quite obvious that there are certain inherently government activities, which, if undertaken by the sovereign in protection of the interests of the nation’s security are lawful, but which if undertaken by private persons, are not.” What, at root, did you have in mind there?

NIXON: Well, what I, at root I had in mind I think was perhaps much better stated by Lincoln during the War between the States. Lincoln said, and I think I can remember the quote almost exactly, he said, “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation.”

Now that’s the kind of action I’m referring to. Of course in Lincoln’s case it was the survival of the Union in wartime, it’s the defense of the nation and, who knows, perhaps the survival of the nation.

Adolf Hitler spent years evading taxes and owed German authorities 405,000 Reichsmarks — equivalent to $8 million today — by the time his tax debts were forgiven soon after he took power, a researcher says.


Hitler’s troubles with the Munich tax office suddenly vanished shortly after he took power in 1933.

The infamous 1933 Enabling Act gave Hitler dictatorial powers but also helped him win his battles with the Munich tax office for good. The office first declared Hitler liberated from income tax in 1934 and in 1935 absolved him of his past tax debt of 405,494 Reichsmarks.

“That was the end of his tax problems,” Dubon said. “It was all legalized, more or less.”

Dubon said the head of the Munich tax office, Ludwig Mirre, excused Hitler from paying tax only after first formally writing to him to ask permission. An assistant to Hitler wrote back to Mirre: “Herr Hitler accepts your proposal.”

Mirre was promoted a month later to head of the German tax office and given a 41 percent pay rise.

“It’s all so ridiculous,” said Dubon. “But in a dictatorship everything the dictator does is correct.”

U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress by Hearst newspapers shows the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications approved over the first 22 years of the court’s operation.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered “substantive modifications” took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years — the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court’s history.

Well, someone has to stop the “Semi-Communistic ideology” of the Catholic Workers League. Right? (Nay. There are “suspicious radiation levels outside more than 100 predominantly Muslim-related sites in the greater Washington, D.C., area, as well as various sites in other cities.”

Christmas Games

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

We were playing a game, suggested by my 12 year old niece, which is where there is one fewer chair than person and you call out a “Anybody who [— —],please stand up.” At which point, everyone in the category runs for a different chair vacated by other person in the category.

My brother-in-law says “Whoever voted for Bush in the last election.” I’m not sure what this is getting at, as I am sure he knows that his parents didn’t vote for Bush, my brother and I didn’t vote for Bush, and the under-18 crowd of kids or the foreign exchange student did not vote for Bush, and I’m fairly sure he does not know who my parents voted for at all. (His parents are of a Union-type variety, and my mother thought she could get my brother and I off our seats by saying “Whoever was given a greeting of “Happy Festivus.” — which I think was supposed to suggest a sort of Bohemian culture. I might have said that “Well, when you start hearing it, it’s a sign that it’s passe”, but nevermind. I note Rick Emerson’s greeting of “The following post will not contain no, I repeat no obligatory, tiresome references to Festivus and/or Chrismukkah.”) My father and my sister exchanged places — they might have been sitting next to each other. My mother expressed that she did not remember who she voted for — a nice bit of repressed memory, and I imagine her at the polling place treating the election as a necessary scab that had to be removed — arms outstretched as she pulled the level as she looked away.

My brother-in-law is flummoxed and sighs. “That didn’t work out very well.” I utter, “Hey! I voted for the Libertarian!” My brother-in-law says, “Yeah, that sounds about right. I thought you might have.”

I’m… not sure what that is supposed to mean. (I assume he heard all the same things about Kerry and “I actually voted for the $80 Billion before I voted against it” — which was actually a statement that was not part of his crime-list, but can easily be construed onto it.)

At any rate, my sister laughs and says “Whoever does not know the name of the person they voted for–” To which I Snided “Badnarik!” And the game continued. Losing steam toward the end, but that’s the nature of these things.