Wednesday, December 31, 2003

weh weh weh...

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I'm going out of town tomorrow-- and I anticpate that I will have little or no access to the web until January 2nd.
Too-dl-oo fer now.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Canada deems P2P downloading legal

well, it's a step in the right direction, although I can't help but be struck by the irony of how this echoes American efforts to legalize buying pharmaceutical drugs from Canada: the US congress doesn't want to bargain w drug manufacturers for lower prices, but is set to look the other way if Americans take advantage of another country's efforts to bargain w drug companies. Likewise, in Canada it's ok to download music from elsewhere(such as from the US, where most P2P activity originates), just not ok to upload it...

courtesy Follow Me Here.
A Net of Control
Unthinkable: How the Internet could become a tool of corporate and government power, based on updates now in the works...

By Steven Levy
Newsweek InternationalIssues 2004 - Picture, if you will, an information infrastructure that encourages censorship, surveillance and suppression of the creative impulse. Where anonymity is outlawed and every penny spent is accounted for. Where the powers that be can smother subversive (or economically competitive) ideas in the cradle, and no one can publish even a laundry list without the imprimatur of Big Brother. Some prognosticators are saying that such a construct is nearly inevitable. And this infrastructure is none other than the former paradise of rebels and free-speechers: the Internet.

read the rest here.

thanks to Bill at "thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse"

The notorious Robert Novak says in the Chicago Sun-Times that billionaire George Soros is shrinking from Dean and beginning to look at Wesley Clark as a more viable candidate for the democrats to topple Bush. Soros has already pledged millions to various left-leaning 527 organizations, like
(thanks to "damfacrats")

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Ralph Nader rules out Green Party run:

Dec. 23, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate viewed by many Democrats as the spoiler of the 2000 election for taking votes away from Al Gore, has decided not to run on the Green Party ticket next year, a party spokesman said Tuesday.

Nader, who garnered nearly 3 percent of the national vote in the last presidential election, has not ruled out running for president as an independent and plans to make a decision by January...

The Green Party is debating whether to take a nominee on a full state-by-state campaign or to adopt a "safe state" strategy. Under that method, the party would mostly avoid states up for grabs, in order not to jeopardize the Democratic candidate's chances against President Bush.

Our intrepid movie reviewer has decided that he's going to post as NBB. I expressed my concerns that the National Biodiesel Board might get peeved, but to no avail. I don't know what's going to happen. Perhaps there will be more movie reviews, perhaps not. Perhaps I'll wake up with a fetid pile of vegetable matter in bed beside me...
For God's Sake, Tell Him No(Pt II):

Ralph "I think I wanna throw another election to th' republicans" Nader has his website up, here:

Nader 2004 Presidential Exploratory Committee

If the RIAA can browse your hard drive to see if you have copyrighted material, is there a way of finding out how many Republicans will write to Nader to egg him on? If you're a technical type and have any practical thoughts about the question, feel free to e-mail me, and l may post them here. Likewise, you may want to tell Nader-- after all, he must care about how many people might be writing to him encouraging him to run who might doing so in bad faith, people who don't give a damn about workers's rights or the enviroment, and just want to see George W. Bush relect-, er, elected, in 2004. Right? But either way, write him and encourage him to not run. Please.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

NBB says:
from the stack of vids I got from work:
1.Herzog's & Kinski's Nosferatu. One of the soundtrack items sounded pretty cool, but inappropriate for the time setting. The film itself is okay, with Kinski doing a Max Schrek impersonation. Isabelle Adjiani's Lucy, and a slim Bruno Ganz is Harker. I recall Siskel praising the film back in his and
Ebert's PBS days.

2.Y Tu Mama Tambien. cumming of age story about two young wastrels and an older woman who takes them to school. It's reminiscent of Jules et Jim, Summer of '42, and Last Tango in Paris. I like it for the most part, save a concluding bit that cuts the film off at the knees. I won't say what it is, if you plan on seeing it.

3. Kiss Me Stupid. with Dean Martin, Ray Walston, and Kim Novak, Billy Wilder directed .For the first time I've seen a Wilder clunker. Martin plays himself, stuck in Climax, NV with Walston, a piano teacher/aspiring songwriter and possessive hubby. Cliff Ormond's a gas pump jockey and Walston's writing
partner. The two want to show their work to Martin, so Ormond disables the
former's car. Walston fears Martin will put the moves on his wife, so he fakes an argument and sends her home to her mother. Novak's a waitress from the local girlie dive Ormond hires to play Walston's wife for the evening, so Martin can get his chick fix and possibly buy some songs as a result. Novak affects a raspy, sultry tone, which made me think the part may have been intended for Monroe (the picture came out in '64). Walston finds he can't put Novak through it, so he kicks Martin out. Walston's wife returns while the "party" is going on, and troops off to the girlie dive to get soused. Martin, kicked out, goes to the dive, and scores with Mrs W, not knowing said fact, of course. Walston scores with Novak. In the morning, Mrs W gives Novak Martin's payment, enabling Novak to leave town. Mrs W goes back to Ray. Martin buys one song, none the wiser.
The whole rat pack thing died after Ocean's, as far as I'm concerned. The credits roll as the each cast member walks past, symbolic of a final walk off to me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

via LinkMachineGo: neo-maxi zoom linky

BBC Reporters Log On Saddam's Capture ... John Simpson: 'Saddam's capture is an extraordinary melodrama. Ad Dawr, where he was caught, was where he was born, where his appalling stepfather used to humiliate him and beat him. It was a place that he hated. One of his confidantes told me that when he drove past it he would turn his face away, he wouldn't look at it. To be caught there, with a pistol in his possession, yet not kill himself or defend himself, is a remarkable end to an extraordinary life.'

Monday, December 15, 2003

And Smiling Isn't Necessarily Smirking, Either: :
"BUSH: 'Good riddance. The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein. And I find it very interesting that when the heat got on you dug yourself a hole and you crawled in it. And our brave troops, combined with good intelligence, found you. And you'll be brought to justice, something you did not afford the people you brutalized in your own country.'
And what was the first part of the question?
QUESTION: I know you scoffed at the idea of a negotiation.
BUSH: Oh, yes, yes. How do you know I scoffed at it? Laughing does not mean scoffing.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

An excellent piece in the Boston Phoenix about Koppel's behavior in the debates. One item:

Afterward, as the C-SPAN camera panned the spin room, it caught Kerry schmoozing up CNN's Tucker Carlson and another guy. Kerry was telling them that the most important difference between him and Dean is that Dean wants to repeal the middle-class tax cuts of the Bush years.

Why didn't you talk about that? chirped Carlson.

"We spent all our time talking about polls," Kerry responded with a weary smile. He gave the other guy a playful pat on the cheek and walked away.

via Cursor.Org

notes that

Except for those hypermanaged photo opportunities, the Bushies truly have zero sense of symbolism: "US eyes Hussein palace for embassy" (Boston Globe).

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Kucinich wins endorsement, kiss from date

Dec. 11, 2003 | CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A much-watched first date for presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich ended with kisses on the cheek and an endorsement.

"Gina, we'll talk," Kucinich told Gina Marie Santore after the two had breakfast Thursday with a gaggle of reporters and photographers nearby. A political Web site,, chose the New Jersey woman over nearly 80 other contestants for a date with the twice-divorced Ohio congressman. He had joked recently about what he wanted in a potential first lady.

Kucinich, 57, told reporters Santore's endorsement was more significant than Al Gore's backing of front-runner Howard Dean "and based on actual discussion."

The two met Thursday morning in the lobby of a downtown hotel and later discussed health care, medical malpractice and prescription drugs over oatmeal at a restaurant.

Santore, 34, of Maple Shade, N.J., called herself a lifelong Democrat. She said she works as a confidential aide to the Camden County sheriff in southern New Jersey and lives with her boyfriend. Kucinich attracted her attention, she said, because she found his views "intoxicating."

My ISP recently started using to filter my e-mail (I hadn't asked them to) and as an upshot of this, many newsletters that I normally get haven't been coming through. The "spam alert instead sends me an e-mail(!) describing the intercepted missive , at which point you can reply to the e-mail that you want to receive said e-mail message, or ignore it and it will supress that sender afterwards. Seems like a lot of bother to me. What's also interesting is that the spam alert also rates your alleged spam, on a spam scale, which seems to go from zero to a hundred in likelyhood that your e-mail is indeed spam.

My bulletins from The Nation get a score of twenty, whereas the one from Common Cause is apparently a tad peskier, meriting a 22. I get e-mail from the Gephardt campaign, which gets a 37, and from Kerry, who is slightly spammier at 40. I'm tempted to get on all the dem candidates e-mail lists to see how the software rates them, but I also want to tell myself I have better things to do, even though I don't.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

This was the first of the debates I watched most of the way through. We still have nine candidates, which is a lot, but each one lacks something. Earlier Tuesday night I had dinner with two friends, one mostly apolitical and the other a mostly staunch republican. The latter told me that she felt that republicans were lacking in candidates with charisma when compared with the dems, citing Bill Clinton. I wished I could see that charisma in one of the field of nine tonight, but apart from Al Sharpton's penchant for crowd-rousing zingers, I really couldn't. And Sharpton's Saturday Night Live stint notwithstanding, his divisive past makes him not ready for prime time. (As far as I know, he has never disowned his anti-Semitic rhetoric from days gone by.)

Dean is getting better, more polished-- but his comment towards the end that spending over an hour talking about terrorism in a roughly two hour debate is too much may come back to haunt him, context notwithstanding.

Edwards is if anything too polished, and not in a good way. I lost count of how often he derided the rest for being career politicians, and poised himself, by contrast, as an Outsider Who Can Get Things Done. I'm surprised he never tugged at imaginary suspenders and said that he wasn't a big-city lawyer.

Kerry resorted to an anecdote about an ordinary person he knew personally, someone who was laid off and got another job for substantially less money. Even if they're sincerely affected by stories they hear from regular folks, even if they hear them first hand, politicians should never, never tell these stories in debates or on the stump about Joe or Betty Smith from Winnetonka-wherever because they just come across as phonies when they do. I felt bad for Kerry, because he seems like a decent and very able fellow, and I can't help but think he'd be the front-runner in a pre-tv election where his patrician mien wouldn't be a factor with voters who'd just read about him or hear him on the radio. It's too late for cursing in Rolling Stone to help him seem cool.

I have this sense of Gephardt that if you took all the candidates' policy proposals and polled most ordinary people about the various platforms A, B, C, etc without telling them about party affiliation or the individual espousing them, his positions and initiatives would strike more people as being more sensible than any of the others, but there's no spark. Gephardt talked about worker retraining and an international minimum wage, which just sounded wonkish coming from him. Now if Clinton talked about these things...

I like Kucinich too, but the blithe deludedness of him saying he'd start replacing our troops in Iraq with UN peacekeepers in 90 days from his inauguration marks him as just another liberal who's weak on defense and foreign policy. (Sharpton also suggested it would be comparatively easy to withdraw from Iraq, without being so specific.) I did like it when Kucinich upbraided Ted Koppel for going on and on about Gore's Dean endorsement, as that seemed to occupy at least the first 15 minutes of the debate. I'd like to vote for a democrat like Kucinich or Mosely-Braun who unambiguously favors a single-payer federal health-care plan, but the first successful democrat to do so will have to talk about how we're going to pay for it as we transition to it and what's going to happen to the equity investors(including millions of retirees) have tied up in health-care stocks. That candidate hasn't shown up yet.

Clark, Lieberman, and to a lesser degree Kerry and Gephardt were the only ones who sounded like grown-ups when asked about how they'll get us out of Iraq. Dean held up Afghanistan as a model of democracy for Iraq(!?), which made me wonder about him. Rival warlords ruling 90 plus percent of the country with a figurehead president who was chosen by the Americans and gets to stay alive as long as he promises not to enforce any authority outside Kabul and stay in his palace most of the time? Democracy? Deliver us from the lunk-headed feel-good progressives who want us to cut and run in Iraq without re-establishing the rule of law and public safety that ordinary Iraqis had until we pre-emptively attacked them because of all those darn WMDs..
Joshua Marshall writes:

Department of intra-administration coordination, subdivision of one hand knowing what the other's doing ...

As we noted yesterday, Bush family fixer James A. Baker has been given the task of cajoling states that are owed money by Iraq into either forgiving or generously restructuring Iraq's debts.

Near the top of that list of state creditors are France, Germany and Russia.

Now we hear that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has just signed a directive barring French, German and Russian companies from competing for the $18.6 billion of Iraqi reconstruction contracts for "the protection of the essential security interests of the United States."


Luckily, Baker and Wolfowitz are such close pals and ideological soul-mates. So I'm sure they'll be able to work it out.

Such close pals? I've made mistakes before in detecting sarcasm before, but even I can see this one. Marshall goes on to point out that either this means that Bush wants, somewhat implausibly, to help strengthen Iraq's bargaining position vis a vis their debts to Russia, France and Germany, or he just wants to stick it to the Europeans again. I would've liked to see one of the dem candidates mention this in tonight's debate in New Hamphshire. I suppose one of them may have, as I missed a bit in the middle.

More on the debates later.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Gore is about to endorse Dean for the Democratic nomination. What motivated him to do this? Salon's Joe Conason seems to think that this act epitomizesa shift in Gore's views that has occurred since 2000, possibly caused in part by the experience of the post election debacle and the venomous vehemence of the right wing Bush machine. I believe this is true, but I recognize that it may also help position Gore better, as the progressive candidate, to challenge presumptive 2008 nominee Hillary Clinton should Dean fall short in the general election. It's difficult not to have mixed emotions-- I'd like to see Gore run and win again (and also get to occupy the oval office this time), but I still wonder about Dean's viability in 11/04.

Monday, December 08, 2003

NBB writes in:

If it's Dean, then it'll be Nixon vs McGovern redux.

Shattered Glass: neat and tidy, All the Prez's Men lite. I didn't know that the average age of TNR staff was 26 back then, which makes me wonder if Peretz was attempting to reflect Clintonian staff youthfulness, but then I
recall reading TNR pieces criticizing same. The movie focuses on the political half; arts doesn't even exist in it. Leon Wieseltier merits a mention too, but he'd probably wax rhetorical then, chewing scenery like he does paper. Peretz is shown making staff circle all the commas in one issue to
make a point about said item. Michael Kelly argues with him, and wins the day. Kelly's canning's covered, but not the suspected reason, namely, Peretz's Gore connection.

In hindsight, Glass's pieces did seem outlandish, especially the one on the young conservatives and the anti D.A.R.E. article, as well as the one on Greenspan.

Wonder if someone will do a film on Blair and the Times, or Dwight Macdonald battling the Partisan Review crew? ("You goddamned Trotskyites!")
A definite yawner: George Gilder's purchase of the American Spectator and the subsequent emphasis on broadband and tech stocks, climaxing with the bubble's bust.

Bart, shouldn't that be All the Peretz's Men? Haw haw haw...

Sunday, December 07, 2003

While we're on the subject of the reasons we should be happy the constitution is difficult to ammend readily, Jeralyn Merritt writes here about the inadvisability of the so-called Victims' Rights Amendment.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

the non dean dem candidates are just spinning their wheels at this point. kerry might as well be kucinich, and the best clark can hope for is th veep slot.
David Neiwert at Orcinus has an excellent post about
the increase in the rhetoric of violence among conservative ideologues. I'm reminded of how Bill O'Reilly told his listeners that if we were in the old west he would've gunned down Al Franken for calling him a liar.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Questioning Bush Reaches Men's Magazines

There are Esquire and GQ, of course, but there also seemingly dozens of poor man's Esquires out there-- you've seen them, with various deshabile starlets and models on the covers-- don't pretend you haven't. One of them, Razor magazine, has an
article by James Carville(!), "Quagmire" in this month's issue. They also have an article on the church of Scientology which looks like it might be interesting. Anyway, If skewering dubya is now fair game for this demographic, that can't be bad thing. Unfortunately the on-line bit is only a teaser for the entire print article...
For Goodness Sake, Tell Him NO!

Nader raising money for possible campaign

Dec. 2, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ralph Nader has not yet decided whether to make another run for the White House, but he's authorized a new exploratory committee to raise money for a potential bid.

The Nader 2004 Presidential Exploratory Committee was formed in late October as part of the consumer activist's effort to gauge support for a run, said Theresa Amato, a committee director.

for that matter, tell the greens no. Admittedly it's hard to be hopeful they'll listen-- and harder still to plumb the depths of self-delusion that people are capable of. They actually have a link at their site asking "who spoiled the 2000 election?" In which they blame the post election debacle on Al Gore, the democrats in the senate, and well, the constitution. Then they editorialize for a bit about how we should have instant runoff voting. For my part, I'm tired of this conceit, which I here bandied about from time to time. The constitution is hard to change-- as it should be-- and our basic way of electing a president wont be changing any time in the forseeable future. So we live in a real world where the Green Party is the part of the problem, and not any part of the solution, which is recognizing that voting for the Greens at the presidential level means effectively voting for the Republicans. The goons who say they're "voting their conscience" are simply perverse. Are they saying they're happy to throw elections to George Bush and the gop because their conscience tells them to? How does a vote that helps bring George Bush to power, or to a second term, bring us any closer to universal health care, a cleaner enviroment, or fair trade and labor laws?
december is national use fewer keystrokes month;
pass it on.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

from today's Asia Times:

Oil on the flames of civilizational war

"The coming millennium will go down in world history as a struggle between Orient and Occident, between the church and Islam, between the Germanic peoples and the Arabs," proclaimed Franz Rosenzweig in 1920. These ominous words appear in a collection of the German-Jewish theologian's writings about Islam, published in Berlin earlier this year. It is the most dangerous book I have read in a generation, for Rosenzweig (1886-1929) considered Islam a pagan "parody", "caricature" and "plagiarism" of Christianity and Judaism.

"Why publish a book of Rosenzweig's writings on Islam now? Doesn't that pour oil onto the fire in which the Western world sees the lands of Islam as a feared and despised enemy?" asks the book's co-editor Gesine Palmer, a theologian associated with the German Evangelical Church. A fair question: for good or ill, the Rosenzweig revival is a hallmark of civilizational war.

By coincidence, the neo-conservative icon Leo Strauss was a Rosenzweig protege, having spent 1922-1925 at the latter's Frankfurt Lehrhaus for Jewish education. Later Strauss rejected Rosenzweig in favor of what he called classical political rationalism...

Monday, December 01, 2003

U.S. soldier reprimanded for marriage:

Dec. 1, 2003 | PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- An American soldier has been reprimanded and will be discharged for taking a break from a foot patrol in Baghdad to marry an Iraqi woman, his lawyer said Monday.

Sgt. Sean Blackwell, 27, is being punished for divulging the time and location of the patrol to his bride and the Iraqi judge who married them, his attorney said. The Florida National Guardsman avoided a possible court-martial for dereliction of duty and disobeying orders.

Blackwell received a written reprimand in advance of the discharge, attorney Richard Alvoid said.

"The more they punish him, the more negative publicity the military likely will receive," he said. "He is guilty of falling in love."