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Give Doubt a Chance [With Reaction]

[Allen Stairs, a philosophy professor, posted this interesting comment after reading the Doubt story:

'Pardon me for talking the talk of my profession (I teach philosophy at U. of Md), but I've thought for a long time that the administration is "epistemologically challenged." Joel Achenbach has spelled out what that amounts to lucidly. I'd like to add one more bit to his diagnosis of the prevailing intellectual malaise. The world (and not just the administration) has too many PITGOATs. That's "People In The Grip Of A Theory." Pitgoats have big ideas and clear principles. And they apply them from the top down, no matter how badly they fit the real world and no matter how much evidence needs to be ignored or mangled along the way. There are Pitgoats on the left and pitgoats on the right (it's about equally implausible that unfettered capitalism is the cause of all our troubles as that it's their total cure) pitgoat believers and pitgoat atheists. (Richard Dawkins and the late Jerry Falwell strike me as equally pitgoatly).

'Only a pitgoat would think that all the world's woes are caused by pitgoats. But it's an interesting exercise to sit down and make a list: how many examples can you find of screw-ups, strife and outright tragedy that stem from someone's stubborn allegiance to a big idea or a grand theory?'

And now this from Daveb99:

'Sometimes it seems that the lizard brains have taken over America. Solutions to complex political problems must be concise enough to fit on a bumper sticker. Presidential candidates are asked to raise their hands if they believe in evolution. Mitt Romney looks Presidential and Fred Thompson played a President on TV and in a movie--thus, to millions of voters, both are qualified. According to Chris Matthews, women like George W. Bush because he looks sexy in a flight suit. Honestly, what have we become?'

And here's Jeff-for-Progress:

'A couple of quibbles with Joel's otherwise fine piece. The first was raised by Joe6, about Socrates lack of democratic values. I would say that you can either view Socrates from two perspectives like the Straussian's who say "the ends justify the means," something akin to Plato's Republic or that the means, the Socratic method-- "the means justifies the ends" in a democracy, the primacy of a democratic means to make policy through a national conversation. This is similar to the argument that Gore makes in "The Assault on Reason."

'The second quibble touches on Achenbach's view that such discussions be absent emotion, when I believe his chief concern is the absence of fear, decision by the amygdala, the fight or flight portion of the brain that renders otherwise intelligent people subject to authoritarian followship and puffs up people filled with certainty like Gingrich into authoritarian leadership-- what John Dean calls a double authoritarian and which Jean Lipman-Blumen writes about in "The Allure of Toxic Leaders."

'I agree that this type of emotion-- fear to stampede people into authoritarian followship is certainly not what we need at this day and age when terrorist acts occur and are exploited by politicians for political gain. Rove attempted to use the fear generated by 9/11 to build a permanent Republican majority. Giuliani is harping on this one note to overcome his lack of international and other experience on the national level.

'Having said this there is a positive role that emotion plays in developing wisdom and this is something that a poet like Shakespeare gets in his greatest plays-- Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.']

[Our own ScienceTim posted this late at night, reacting to the excised portion of the piece:

'I cannot endorse a complete abandonment of Argument from Authority, nor a complete abandonment of Disqualifier by Identity. The advance of science depends on these things, tempered by wisdom and experience. I frankly don't have time to explore every axiom, proposition, and bit of received wisdom on which my own work depends. So, I accept a lot of "facts" which are given to me -- for example, within the annual presentation of fudnamental physical constants that is published in Physics Today -- because they are logically consistent with each other, they are shared in common with a lot of other scientists so that we can speak in common terms, and because I accept that the metrologists at NIST know their poop. Oh, and because so far I have not encountered any persuasive evidence that these "facts" are in error at a level that is of significance to me.

'And Disqualifier by Identity? If an individual has established a track record of misleading me and abusing my trust -- perhaps a long record of little things, perhaps a one-time record in a matter of great significance -- I have to assume that even those things that this person tells me that are factually true may have been carefully chosen or presented or edited or misinterpreted in a way that is aimed to manipulate me into an unwise decision. It happens in science, it happens in commerce, it happens in politics (well, duh)....'We need to evaluate torrents of data every moment of every day. We would be totally paralyzed if we did not have some means of rapidly sorting information into categories such as important/not important; reproductively significant/not reproductively significant; likely to kill me/not likely to kill me. The initial categorization is not the end of the mental analysis in most cases, but it radically minimizes the range of all-possible-things-that-I-could-think-of that are necessary for me to ponder. If I find that my categorization and analysis fails to describe or effectively interpret my data, I may end up by revising my initial determinations, but that failure is still a valid part of the analysis.'...]

[I have to go to the Outlook story conference shortly and will try to report about what we discussed, without, of course, tipping off The Competition.]

[My article in today's Outlook section.]

Here's who we need in Washington: Socrates. The Greek fella. We need him not because of what he knew, but

because of what he knew he didn't know, which was pretty much everything. He was one of the all-time great doubters. Listen to Loyal Rue, a professor of science and religion at Luther College, describe him:

"He would say things like, 'How do you know that? What's the evidence for that? What do you really mean when you say that? Here's the implication of that claim. Here's the danger you get into if you try to generalize that claim and apply it to everyone.' "

Give Doubt a Chance: This could be a rallying cry for our troubled times.

Doubt has been all but outlawed in contemporary Washington. Doubt is viewed as weakness. You are expected to hold onto your beliefs even in a hurricane of contradictory data. Believing in something that's not true is considered a sign of character.

The president sets the tone: He told Bob Woodward that he relies on "gut instinct" and said, "I'm not a textbook player. I'm a gut player." Blogger Glenn Greenwald's new book, "A Tragic Legacy," opens with something Bush told journalists last September: "I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions." The smart bet: He'll become more convinced yet. He's not the type to slap his forehead and say, " What a bonehead I am!"

Then there's Dick Cheney, a one-man branch of government who, we can safely estimate, second-guesses himself as often as he re-roofs his house.

The certainty-mongering of the Bush administration has created an opening for political opponents. Al Gore's latest book criticizes Bush for his "seeming immunity to doubt." He has found a market for books with "Truth" and "Reason" in the title. Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, declares that Democrats are an "evidence-based" party. Of course, Gore and Clinton radiate a fair amount of certainty themselves. Politics isn't for equivocators. At the elite level, there's pressure to prove oneself the surest and smartest person in the room. Think of former House speaker Newt Gingrich: In your mind, you see him emitting certainties with the air of a man who is delighted (but not surprised) to be right once again.

And now even the doubters have become overly certain. Look at all the atheism books on the bestseller lists. In "God Is Not Great," Christopher Hitchens writes, "The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species." But it's hard to think of a public intellectual more certain of himself than Hitch. (Carl Sagan was certainly no believer, but he once told me, "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know.")

But in an age of warring certainties, of dogmas gone ballistic, uncertainty is viewed as the shaky prelude to going wobbly. Confidence is what citizens look for in their leaders and, increasingly, in their pundits. The pros know that John Wayne never said, "On the other hand . . . " It's dangerous to change or modify a position. The worst thing you can say about a politician today is that "he was for it before he was against it."

Washington is full of alpha males (some of them female) who would no sooner express doubt than join a knitting circle. Their mantra is "Failure is not an option." But perhaps we might suggest (meekly) that sometimes failure needs to be an option -- which is to say, you ought to have a Plan B in case your initial indubitable judgment turns out wrong.

We need to rehabilitate doubt and uncertainty and recognize them as tools for cutting through mushy notions and wishful thinking. We need to stop elevating decisiveness over intelligence in the list of political virtues. We need leaders who think more like scientists, who know that knowledge is provisional, that today's orthodoxy might be invalidated tomorrow. We need to learn how to think again.

Jerome Kagan, professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard, says we've valued ultra-confident leaders since time immemorial. "The public is uncertain," he notes, "and they look to their leaders for certainty, for confidence. De Gaulle, Churchill, Roosevelt: In times of crisis, you want a person who appears to you to know exactly what he is doing. That's not recent or American. That's human."

But we should probably doubt our own talent for discerning competence from a distance. Princeton psychology professor Alexander Todorov has shown that we will reach a decision on whether someone looks competent in just one-tenth of a second. In another study co-authored by Todorov, test subjects looked at photographs of senatorial candidates. (If the subjects recognized any of the candidates, they were bumped from the study.) They had one second to reach a conclusion about which candidate was more competent. For the 2004 senatorial races, this snap judgment correctly predicted the outcomes of 69 percent of the races.

So sometimes we pick a guy because, at first glance, we like the cut of his jib. (Even when we're not exactly sure what a jib is.)

All of us -- citizens and senators and shopkeepers and scholars -- need to review the principles of "critical thinking." In 1990, psychologists Carole Wade and Carol Tavris listed eight elements of critical thinking:

1. Ask questions; be willing to wonder.

2. Define your problem correctly.

3. Examine the evidence.

4. Analyze assumptions and biases.

5. Avoid emotional reasoning.

6. Don't oversimplify.

7. Consider other interpretations.

8. Tolerate uncertainty.

This would get you instantly fired from many jobs in Washington. Asking questions is a time-waster in a culture that demands instant answers. Defining your problem correctly, examining evidence and contemplating biases can be extremely inconvenient. The media marketplace favors absolutism and hysteria.

But doubt, when properly managed, pays rewards. It gives you more information. It helps you create coalitions, which is necessary in a society designed to be coalition-based. And doubt prepares you for those inevitable moments when what you hoped was true turns out to be false.

Have there ever been leaders who were comfortable with uncertainty and doubt? George Washington, who was always the first to cite his lack of qualifications for a job (Continental Army commander, president), said in his farewell address that he did the best he could with a "very fallible judgment." No one today would dare say such a thing.

Other leaders also come to mind, some more politically talented than others: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who before D-Day wrote a statement taking the blame for the invasion's failure; Bob Dole, always more of a pragmatist than an ideologue; and Bill Clinton, who could talk through eight sides of every issue, often until his listeners passed out from information overload.

But these are particularly polarized times, and we're in a war (or three), and no one has much patience for a lot of maybe-this, maybe-that stuff. If you want to become president, you probably should act as though you've never had a doubt in your life. Rudy Giuliani said the other day, "You face bullies and tyrants and terrorists with strength, not weakness." And strength means you don't sit around requesting more data.

This was driven home in the first Democratic debate, when Barack Obama was asked what kind of military action he'd take if the United States were attacked again by terrorists. His answer was criticized as weak. He began by saying he'd check on the emergency response to the attack itself. Then:

"The second thing is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, (a) to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there, and (b) to find out: Do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network? But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast."

Way too deliberative. Correct answer: I'd start killing lots of bad guys. (Better yet: Make pocketa-pocketa sound effects while pantomiming the machine-gunning of the enemy.)

Professor Rue reports that in Renaissance England, political jesters were allowed to poke fun at the alleged wisdom of the king, injecting a little doubt into the royal court. (Think Leno and Letterman and Stewart, live from the Oval Office.) In the medieval church, a devil's advocate would participate in the debate over whether a certain person deserved sainthood. And in ancient Rome, the victorious general returning from battle would have a slave trotting by his side -- a reminder, Rue says, that the general was a mere mortal.

"Doubt motivates inquiry, but it is also a source of humility," Rue says.

So as a nation will we rehabilitate doubt? Will we suddenly pivot toward greater tolerance of uncertainty?

I doubt it.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 1, 2007; 7:39 AM ET
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Joel, you've quoted too many people this morning. It gives the impression that you read too much, which (in a politician) is scary, at least in the US. In September 2001, it was Tony Blair who provided the thoughtful speeches, invoking Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey."

My old pre-Amazon habit of buying sale books from Oxford led me to have a copy of Loyal Rue's "By the Grace of Guile: The Role of Deception in Natural History and Human Affairs." It's probably badly out of date by now, since recent research on western scrub-jays shows they're constantly trying to hide food from one another, but a guy who could write a book by that title over a decade ago has to be on the ball.

I can't even begin to remember the author, but I think there's a recent book on military leadership, pointing out that excessive optimism is the norm.

On the side, one James M. Taylor of the Heartland Institute (evidently a tobacco-lobby outfit) bashed Al Gore for alleged "lies" about global warming. He cited actual scientific papers. But there's a vast difference between lying and representing rather rapidly-changing scientific literature. No matter, anyway. Mr. Taylor's out to argue that the world's getting cooler.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 1, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I doubt that I am first to post.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 1, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Very fallible judgment. Hey, I've got one of those! The problem with certainty is that it blinds one to evidence that one must see and deal with to be successful.

TBG, I loved Doonesbury this week. I've said it before: when the literature of the current time is judged for posterity, Trudeau will be at the top. The man is genius. One of the reasons is his incredible ability to see and puncture PC certainty on every side.

Posted by: Slyness | July 1, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

As I may have posited before in this here forum, "true" religious faith (i.e., that for which one shall not immediately be stoned (as in literal stones thrown at one, rather than standing around saying "cool" or "groovy")) requires an *absolute* belief.

And for that, let there be no, um, doubt, one cannot always be certain. Because absolutism requires an itty-bitty (Pentagon word, I have no doubt) modicum of reality. The less reality one has creeping in, the more certain we are. Yeah, well.

I must admit that I am overloaded with fatigue about this so-called administration. I have a picture of my niece some 34 or so years ago just beginning to walk in my apartment in Ann Arbor, MI. In the background is Sam Ervin conducting the Watergate hearings. Yes, indeedy, fellow bloggers, I was glued to the set, read everything in sight and couldn't get enough of it. Today, I'm just too inexorably pi$$ed off at what they've done to my country -- *our* country. To imagine that they might rot in hell is simply not punishment enough for me.

And I got absolutely no doubt about that.

On that note, enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 1, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Someone should tattoo those eight elements of critical thinking on Uncurious George's forehead as a reminder to all who interact with him.

(Don't worry, he spends enough time looking in the mirror that he'll probably notice them himself, eventually.)

Another excellent post, Joel. Great way to start my Sunday.

Posted by: randyman | July 1, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

agreed, randyman...

Great Post.

One thing to point out is that "things change." Joel makes a great point about Obama. What our nation really needs is an analytical thinker who gets true information (not engineered BS that is stove-piped right past the knowledgeable analyists that we pay dearly) and who can see when things change in either fact or perception that warrants a new direction or Plan B.

What we do have is a group in control who have really developed strong PR skills. It is somehow more valuable to appear to be right than to be right.

Yesterday's post about Bush's massive courage was also telling. You need huge amounts of courage to stand up to the outcry for better judgment.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | July 1, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle!

I have doubted my own assessments of the VP as that phrase that shan't be mentioned and Bush as an illiterate twit. Is there a prize for being a doubter extraordinaire?

Cassandra-Hope you feel better than I felt yesterday. Today is already much better for me.

TBG-Unfortunately letting the 85yo cleaning lady go is part of the budget gap closing strategy. We've tried for 6 months to ease her into a dignified retirement, like Viking Robert Smith leaving at the top of his game, but apparently she's not gathering the inference.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 1, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I really like this column. The mark of a truly sophisticated mind is the ability to tolerate the possibility that all the truths he or she holds dear are, in fact, wrong.

Now this is, of course, a pretty tall order. I would just be happy if everyone who, when told that there is only a 20% chance of rain come Saturday, do not automatically mean that it is okay to go on a picnic. I want people to take the time to ask, well, what if this happens to be the one-out-of five times when it *does* rain.

Is that too much to ask?

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 1, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

One problem is that doubters are said to be paralyzed. I will think on that further.

Dolphin has reminded me to forge ahead in my great solitary thought-experiment (solitary in that I know no great internet thinkers personally, so I plod along alone here): peer-to-peer networks. No for-profit servers at all. Just RF and volunteerism. Tokyo has been pointed out as a place P2P could work now. Fast email, etc. So many nodes.

P2P in Kansas takes a lot more work.

Posted by: Jumper | July 1, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

frosti... I'm sorry I made that joke now. Please forgive me?

I have always believed that the smartest thing someone can say is "I don't know." I've thought back and realize that my husband (the smartest person I know) often tells the kids that when they ask a question. Then he finds out, or they find out together.

Remember how irritating it used to be to have your mom or dad say "look it up!"

Well now thanks to Google it takes about a minute to find out even the most-obscure fact. You always have to be careful that you're getting correct info, but that's all part of the learning process.

Of course, now that I think of it, maybe my husband isn't the smartest person I know... or maybe my kids are just coming up with really hard questions.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

TBG- Don't be sorry. It is funny in a perverse, "How did we get to this screwed up point?" way.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 1, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I doubt I will get to all of these, but it's a fine list, no doubt about it.

Posted by: Jumper | July 1, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Joel: Have there ever been leaders who were comfortable with uncertainty and doubt? George Washington, who was always the first to cite his lack of qualifications for a job (Continental Army commander, president), said in his farewell address that he did the best he could with a "very fallible judgment." No one today would dare say such a thing.

LL: It seems today that the presidential candidates have been winnowed by the time of the general election to those with the largest war chests. Most of us end up voting for that candidate with the fullest war chest, those that overflow with bucks. Who are these people making contributions? How beholden are the top-tier two candidates to these corporations and the men (or families) who own them? Did George Washington have a war chest?

As far as Washington citing his lack of qualifications, he was simply being disingenuous. Washington learned his lessons well under Braddock at the Battle of Monongahela, used the element of surprise when crossing the Delaware and fought braveley against Hessian mercenaries the next day at Trenton, and established American superiority at the colonial victory at Saratoga less than 12 months after Trenton. Was Washington beholden to special interests? Who are the modern-day Minutemen?

If the public cannot tolerate doubt these days, then I believe corporate American tolerates it even less so. And where and when there is uncertainty, there is ample opportunity for business--just ask Halliburton and the manufacturers of arms--or duct tape, as examples.

Joel: Way too deliberative. Correct answer: I'd start killing lots of bad guys. (Better yet: Make pocketa-pocketa sound effects while while pantomiming the machine-gunning of the enemy.)

LL: Well, there is the pocketa-pocketa method, that the United States has certainly implemented. But there are also more subtle ways to eliminate those foreign leaders who don't toe the American line: coups--against Mossadegh of Iran, Qasim of Iraq, Arbenz of Venezuela, and Lumumba of the Congo. Or would it be more illuminating if I expanded the list and broke it down by continent?

[Joel, the passage about snap judgments based on appearance(s) reminds me of Zebrowitz's book "Reading Faces." Which reminds me never to judge a book by its cover art, illustrations, or lack of them--tattered or gilded. It's what's between the covers that counts.]

Posted by: Loomis | July 1, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Great story here...

Fated to Be Friends
One defied orders to leave the other behind to die; decades later, the rescuer saw his patient in traffic: 2 chance encounters sparked a lifelong 2-member fraternity

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

What with JA's piece, and the Lynne Olson piece (Outlook Sausage), Dub might want to take a look at some of Benny Franklin's writings.

"...For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others."

Another BF quote, perhaps more suited to Dub..."We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."

Posted by: LostInThought | July 1, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Isn't resolving doubt, albeit temporarily as other facts are ascertained, just another form of the scientific method of reasoning? Ya bring in the hypotheses, swirl them around with the facts at hand, see what sifts out, see what stays in, put on shelf until another wave of hypotheses and swirly (and/or squirrelly) facts come into your lab (it helps if your lab has just had a run and is too tired to interfere) -- you take the shelved results of the last experiment, see how it stands up to what just flew into your mind and do it all again.

I mean, I ask you, how cool is it to pop some balloons of smug complacency and even frightened acquiescence (you know, to keep those who march in the night away from your particular door) -- doubters, at least those I know, *always* question authority and are never paralyzed. If no one does it, then we are all truly paralyzed.

Besides, rants are good for the immune system. I mean they are, right? Right?


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 1, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

LL...back then, candidates didn't 'run' for office, they 'stood' for it. Campaigning was seen to be ungentlemanly. Even so, Geo Washington shelled out for 160 gallons of rum, beer and hard cider on election day (Va House of Burgesses). There's more than one way to skin a cat.

The beginnings of campaigning for office as we know it today didn't come into play until the 1830s, and real campaign finance laws didn't come about until 1974, as a result of Watergate.

My geekness is showing.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 1, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

>One problem is that doubters are said to be paralyzed. I will think on that further.

Having doubts about a course of action doesn't imply paralysis unless the people involved have no cajones. You can proceed aggressively and may have to be even more aggressive to deal with the questionable issue.

Acknowledging doubts does strongly suggest the benefits of having a backup plan, and some checkpoints along the way to know when to switch to it.

I saved my company from a major mistake last year, but I literally had to tell management they might as well put all their money on a horse and to put the crack pipe down or we'd lose a major contract and end up on the front page of the NY Times.

I figured I'd probably get fired either way, so what the he11.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I got a big raise for telling them to put the crack pipe down.

Now here's an issue of some small doubt: It's the French Grand Prix today. Do I go with straight champagne or can I have a Mimosa?

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

It's not the doubters that cause the problems. It's those criticizing them.

I'd say this is about doubt.
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Posted by: Jumper | July 1, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Lost in Thought:
LL...back then, candidates didn't 'run' for office, they 'stood' for it. Campaigning was seen to be ungentlemanly.

LL. I know. *smiling* But there was a movement to make Washington an Imperial President. Wiser heads prevailed.

(John Dean writing on the U.S. Supreme Court and Bush's Imperial Presidency: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s The Imperial Presidency gave the term its currency. He traces its growth from George Washington to Richard Nixon, showing how a presidency never contemplated by the founders has evolved. As a basis for their authority, presidents typically cited their role as commander-in-chief -- an undefined constitutional term -- and "inherited powers" other presidents had used before them.)

Lost in Thought: The beginnings of campaigning for office as we know it today didn't come into play until the 1830s.

LL: True--although I would have to do a look-up on the election of 1830. Perhaps you can elaborate? Consider, though, the machinations that Norman Buel Judd, chairman of the Republican State Committee of Illinois undertook, a bit later, in 1860, for Abraham Lincoln.

Posted by: Loomis | July 1, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I would add to Error's "put down the crack pipe" that once a course of action is demonstrated to be folly that "put down the shovel and back away from the hole" should be said more often. In fact, a predetermined time to put down the shovel should be considered before the course of action proves disastrous. This may be what Cheney and Bush eschew as doubt, most of the rest of us call it contingency planning.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 1, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"In fact, a predetermined time to put down the shovel should be considered before the course of action proves disastrous. This may be what Cheney and Bush eschew as doubt, most of the rest of us call it contingency planning."

You're right... putting down the shovel should be considered part of the course of action.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I posted my comment on the last kit, early this morning. I will add, however, that one has to remember the circumstances surrounding some of the action taken by the present administration. And I am not in any way justifying any of this, just calling it to your attention.

If I remember correctly, most people were looking for a courageous leader, a strong man, if you will, because of 9/11. Why else would we be talking about Rudy as president if that was not the case. People were very scared. We had 9/11, the arsenic thing, and all those colored warnings, you know, the yellow, the red, and the list goes on. The country was paralyzed. It seems every one was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I stayed glued to the television set for any and all information. People wanted to be protected, and they were willing to give up whatever they had to give up for that to happen. Personally, I've never believed that any one person could protect me or give me the illusion of protection. One is just as likely to run into the bad stuff when stepping out the door in the morning as waiting for the next terrorist attack. Sometime the necessity of stepping outside does not have to be. Anywhere.

Ivansmom, I hope I can impose on you to answer a question for me in your area of expertise? We're getting rain every evening now too.

I have the week off, but it will not seem that way if the g-girl is here all week. Grandma loves her so much, but she is a handful and more. I think she is lonesome so much of the time. She loves to play with other kids, no kids here.

Most people don't necessarily vote for someone because of their intelligence. I think it is more their biases(?). People probably lean more toward the person that holds the same beliefs they do, or they think they do. How can one tell? Politicians, some, are notorious liars. And we can't leave out those secret words and signs given to let some of us know exactly where a candidate is coming from.

I'm sure some of you remember that political ad that Jesse Helms did showing the black hand and the white hand. Went over big time. So many of his contributors came from other states.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, never saw that ad. But then, I'm just happy Jesse Helms does not represent any state I live in.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 1, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

This is hopeful news, though:
Obama is getting contributions from lots of small donors, which I view as a good thing, if they don't get discouraged before the election in 2008.

I think a lot of folks still believe that Republicans will lower taxes, spend less, and be stronger against crime and terrorism. Even if that's demonstrated not to be true. Republicans have a great PR machine, especially when it comes to appealing to racists without actually saying that. But maybe after these disastrous years of Republican rule, people will see the light. Of course, it would help if the Democrats would get their act together.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 1, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. We have a 20% chance it won't rain again today, and it is hard to not take that as "it will rain". In August, of course, we'll all be sure it means "no rain".

In the judicial business doubt is pretty much a professional qualification. If you already know how a case should be decided before you've heard the facts and seen the applicable law, then you're not deciding the individual case. You're just ruling based on what you already "know". That isn't the way the law is supposed to work. And yes, I know there are examples otherwise. As far as I'm concerned they prove the rule: a good judge is one who admits and even relies on what she doesn't know. People get mad when they ask a judge, "how would you rule on this or that case" and the judge says, "I don't know, I haven't heard all the evidence." That is the right answer.

Cassandra, if I can I'll be glad to answer a question.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 1, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse


The apartment complex I live in is getting ready to put up cameras. This complex falls under HUD, and is a low-rent housing complex. I'm pretty sure they can do what they want with their property, but don't the tenants have some leadway in what they do with the film. And I mean how they use this film? They cite all the good reasons for putting up cameras, and I don't really have a problem with it, I'm just know that in putting up the cameras, the tenants will lose what little privacy they now have, and I want to know how far can they go with this within legal guidelines. Can they at some point turn around and bite us with this?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I doubt
With the mighty Noodle
Will ever duplicate
This wonderful Boodle.

Cassandra, if the cameras are viewing truly public spaces, there's not much in the way of privacy expectations. If they aim the cameras at people's windows, though...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 1, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I can't answer your whole question off the top of my head. The apartment complex can certainly put up security cameras in the public areas, including stairwells, etc., and these may well take pictures of individual apartment doors. As far as the uses for the film, I expect there are some restrictions on it and I'm sure they are outlined in some federal regulation. HUD complexes can legally refuse to rent to, or evict, drug dealers for instance (and I think their families as well). They can probably use the pictures to see who is coming and going and whether they are banned from the apartments, etc. However, I don't think they can have unlimited use of the film to invade people's privacy. I'll ask around. There may be other lawyers on the Boodle who can weigh in as well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 1, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This morning I found a religious tract on my windowshield challenging the notion of doubt as a virtue. It contained a phrase suggesting that those who doubted the particular religious interpretation being advocated would be damned to "lakes of fire and the jeers of the righteous."

Look, I can accept the notion of being cast into a fire by a vengeful god. It's the idea that the righteous would be cheering their approval that gives me pause.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 1, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The cameras I believe will pick up our entry to the apartments. So the complex will have pictures of folks coming and going from the different apartments. In fact, there were a couple of guys here some weeks ago doing the logistics for placing the cameras, and they went to each apartment entrance. I just want to know is there a limit on the use of the film or can they play God and the tenants fall down and worship them for a roof over our heads.

RD, many people cite judgements for those that dont believe as a scare tactic to get people to confess Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Some use goodness and compassion as reasons to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour. The Bible describes both scenarios, yet the choice is up to each individual. We get to choose life or death. God created man as a rational creature, and gave him free will. Belief will get you there. The choice is entirely yours.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - I don't know about the use of security cameras in public housing specifically, but have had occasion to find out a little about their use in schools and other public areas. I often videotape my classes, have taught in schools with cameras in the halls and cafeteria, and many school systems equip all their buses with mounts for video cameras but then rotate the actual cameras so that kids don't know which buses have cameras and which don't.

My understanding is that if the camera does not record sound and is in a public space where there is no expectation of privacy the building/vehicle owner is free to put up cameras and either monitor them live or save recordings. The sound prohibition is so as not to run afoul of anti-wiretapping rules by being able to hear a whispered phone conversation for instance. If tapes are kept, and the custodian then wants to use them for a commercial purpose (like selling pictures to the tabloids)then state law would probably govern.

My concerns as a resident would be:
1. How is the video going to be monitored? Live monitoring is great if it means someone is going to take action to prevent crime. The stockpiling of tapes/dvr isn't of much use if all they're going to do is look at them after a crime is committed. Don't give me just another feel good measure, give me real security!
2. If recordings are stored, for how long and by whom? Should I ever gain great fame and fortune I want to be able to control my image and not have that night I was yelling at Frostdottir sold to the highest bidder when I win my mother of the century award.
3. Are these regular video cameras or do they have some enhancement like infrared capabilities that violate my expectation of privacy? I expect you to be able to see me coming down the hall, but not know that I have under my coat a heating pad taped to my sore back.

Personally, I would just ask for a copy of the written policy governing the cameras and ask who is responsible for making sure the policy is followed. There's not much you can do to insure the policy is a good one, or that it is actually followed, but asking questions sheds that old disinfectant called sunshine.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 1, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for doubting, but if you want to take it to the extreme...

Welcome to Pyrrhonism 101.

From WikiPee, the most easily accessible and corruptible source of knowledge on the planet:

"Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century AD. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BC, although the relationship between the philosophy of the school and of the historical figure is murky. Pyrrhonism became influential during the past few centuries when the modern scientific worldview was born.

Whereas 'academic' skepticism, with as its most famous adherent Carneades, claims that "Nothing can be known, not even this", Pyrrhonian skeptics withhold any assent with regard to non-evident propositions and remain in a state of perpetual inquiry. According to them, even the statement that nothing can be known is dogmatic.

For example, Pyrrhonians might assert that a lack of proof cannot constitute disproof, and that a lack of belief is vastly different from a state of active disbelief. Rather than disbelieving psychic powers, for instance, based on the lack of evidence of such things, Pyrrhonians recognize that we cannot be certain that new evidence won't turn up in the future, and so they intentionally remain tentative and continue their inquiry. Pyrrhonians also question accepted knowledge, and view dogmatism as a disease of the mind."


I actually wrote a paper a few years back that dealt with this. Here's a quick excerpt:

"According to [David] Hume [an 18th century philosopher], this method [of thinking] would have a detrimental - or more likely, fatal - effect on any person brave enough (or foolish enough) to practice it:

'All discourse, all action would immediately cease; and men remain in a total lethargy, till the necessities of nature, unsatisfied, put an end to their miserable existence.' (ECHU 119)

In other words, anyone who would attempt to live by this philosophy would be paralyzed by his inability to accept anything as real. When this practitioner's stomach begins growling because it is empty, instead of eating, the practitioner would question whether he actually had a stomach, whether his doubtable stomach was truly empty, and finally, whether food (the existence of which would in turn be doubtable) is actually necessary to quiet his stomach - or even necessary to maintain his bodily existence. This practitioner would most likely die of starvation before even completing his line of sceptical questioning. Using this approach, all is questioned and all answers are distrusted or rejected outright, therefore no Matter of Fact can be knowable."

Posted by: martooni | July 1, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Loved this Outlook piece and the comments today, though I was only able to scan them earlier.

I'm just settling in and able to really consider them.

I hope everyone's enjoying as beautiful a day as those of us in the DC area are.

As a side note, I am a little disappointed that Joel could write this piece without invoking Werner Heisenberg (perhaps he did, and that ended up on the cutting room floor like Ron Suskind.). Or Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, and Copenhagen.

More later.


Posted by: bc | July 1, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Should have added to my 5:05, there's some of *my* geekiness showing.


Posted by: bc | July 1, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

There has always been a difference between being impatient with uncertainty vs being downright proud of our ignorance. We have unfortunately crossed that line.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel, loved the kit. I told a friend this week that I can't stop doubting myself because I'll stop learning and growing.

I have yet to finish back-boodling.

Martooni, take care of yourself in whatever way you can. Stay close to people who love you.

Question for Dooley: Is Ica the place where it does not rain, where they grow the irrigated asparagus? Take some pictures for me, please.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, thank you so much. I want to do something, and your suggestion sounds really good. The cameras are probably a good thing, but I'm sort of squeamish about one looking in my door twenty-four seven. I work with children that may come from trouble homes or whose parents are into I don't know what. I don't want to get caught up in anything trying to help someone. Most folks that know me, know where I live. That can be good or that can be bad. I don't turn children away or their parents. And I don't deal with children without their parents, so you can see my problem. I don't inquire as to what the parents do, I really don't want to get into that. I did make these facts known before I moved in.

The Director of the complex has a list of folks that are not allowed on the properties. She has not updated this list, and some of those are dead. I understand the rules, many of them keep us safe. I don't have a problem with them. Just don't want to get caught up in something that I don't really do. Does that make sense?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

EF said that doubters have no cajones. Those are drawers, as in where you store your socks or your silverware. Cojones is the right word.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, forgot to say thank you.

I meant to ask, does doubt apply to religion too?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a story to share that I know the Boodle will understand. I just need to get this out...

My husband and I will have been married ten years by the end of the summer. This morning we were talking about it and decided to look up some people and places we knew back when we first got married. What we found was this regarding the rabbi.

I am disappointed, but not just disappointed. I feel this detracts from my memories. I wish I had never found out, but you can't undo knowledge like that.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh... a bea c... that's terrible. I can see why you feel how you feel, but think of these things...

1. This has nothing to do with your wonderful memories of 10 years ago.

2. He sounds like a troubled, remorseful person. He didn't try to make excuses; that sounds like he understands exactly what he did was wrong and is probably really a good person who did something bad.

3. Don't let this get in the way of celebrating those wonderful 10 years.

Posted by: TBG | July 1, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

a bea c, that is a sad story. It was bad to steal the money, but he told what he did with the money, and that made it worse. A used car salesman sounds like a good job for him.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

a bea c- I hope you will be able to laugh one day, but I know you'll look at your wedding pictures differently for a while. The magistrate who married Mr. F and I was indicted days after our courthouse wedding for fraud. A few years ago we learned via google that our witnesses, at the time the most stable long married couple we knew, have since divorced. But here we are these many years later, still going strong. (Frostdottir claims we're like "obsessed teenagers." Takes one to know one, I say.) If nothing else you can use your story to warn potential Bridezillas that no amount of money or whining can make the weddubg perfect-the marriage is the important part.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 1, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

She'll feed us now, or suffer continued hijacking of the keyboard. wddubg indeed.

Posted by: frostcat#1 | July 1, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

EF post plus AbeaC post combine into two over-the-top images.

Drawers of one kind are for flatware or socks: cajones!

Drawers of another type MIGHT contain cojones.

Off to swim. I hope I do not burst out laughing under water. That would not be good.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 1, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

tehehehe, Joel said knitting.

Posted by: dr | July 1, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

CP - I thought of you this afternoon when we were perusing the discount book store.(No Achenbach titles, by the way.) There was a book called "chicks with stick" about th joys of knitting.

It's like some kind of cult.

Cassandra - my concern was the implication that one of the rewards for being a believer was to see nonbelievers suffer. I have a higher opinion of believers than that.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 1, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

>Cojones is the right word.

a bea c thanks for the spelling correction. but what I actually said was not that doubters have none, just that people who slip into paralysis due to doubt have none.

You have to take some course of action. Nothing is ever certain.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 1, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

My husband got rid of his cajones and installed estantes instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

hello my achenfriends! i made it back to l.a. last night. two weeks of running around the east coast (pa-nj-nyc-nj-up-state-ny-dc-pa). i am very grateful to have had the opportunity (twice!) to hang out with my imaginary friends. i no longer doubt your existence. sufficient evidence to the contrary.

friday night i got to take my folks out to dinner. their 40th is next weekend. as we were driving home after dinner and we were remarking on the fireflies (one of the things i miss in la), they reminded me of a childhood incident. they had gone out for their anniversary, and my sister and i (instigated by me, i confess) decided to make their evening even more special. we thought they'd enjoy drifting off to sleep to the twinkling stars ... of fireflies in their bedroom. except, this didn't work out too well. 'cause fireflies really only fly around when it's dusk-ish, and they don't seem to perform on cue when they are confined to the indoors. the result was that mom and dad spent a good bit of time that night catching the bugs that were all over their walls and mercifully releasing the critters outside.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 1, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

re: Mantas & their kids in Okinawa:

As an 11- or 12-year-old kid, I was snorkeling along the reef somwhere near Nishihara (a cheap bus and/or taxi ride for a young man on summer vacation with some allowance and lawn-mowing money in his pocket, back in 1972-73... the days of 360 yen-to-the-dollar), and had the terrifying and exhilarating experience of seeing a full-grown manta sweep near me, and a juvenile (about my own size) actually brush against me. A week or so earlier, a small hammerhead shark (about 2.5 - 3 feet long) had swum up beside me, tracked me for a few moments, then gone elsewhere.

Great memories, glad I survived!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten and Ivansmom-- video without sound can still run afoul of anti-wiretapping rules if sign language conversations are recorded, or lipreading is done.

In fact, I believe the CIA routinely employs videotape screeners with lipreading skills to attempt to identify any key phrases. Apparently they never saw the Marlee Matlin episode of Seinfeld.

But it bugs me; everywhere I go is videotaped. Sometimes they notify people of that, sometimes not. If people truly had the will to follow antiwiretapping rules, they'd make sure that surveillance video has a limited number of frames a second, so it would not be possible to read a signed conversation exactly.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 1, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - I'd think that you'd appreciate the fact that someone is tracking all of the things that you can't hear! In case it's ever handy for you to know, I mean.


Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Great piece, Joel. Unfortunately, your conclusion probably is correct. That is, it's doubtful that people, any more than the leaders they choose, will be inclined to value evidence of thoughtful doubt in candidates. Humans usually are more comfortable with someone who shares the same worldview. We impute to them sometimes- undeserved wisdom and gain confidence in them solely on the basis of their likeness to us. May our side be right, but our side, right or wrong.

Posted by: kindathinker | July 1, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, surely (No, I'm NOT calling you "Shirley!!) you don't doubt that EVERYTHING is being audiotaped?

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

kindathinker - Unfortunately, as those of us who take up this space learned long ago, Achenbach is EXACTLY the sort of judgmental, pontificating, know-nothing fossil about which he pretends to rail.

"George Washington was the greatest!" "Scientific exploration of unknowable things is the best path forward!" "Lots of meat is good food for men!"

I have to laugh!!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want anyone videotaping the door to my living place. They'd know who visits and how often. Yes, it is a public place, but still, I wouldn't want anyone keeping tabs of that. They'd also know my routines pretty accurately, when I take out my trash, when I leave, when I bring home groceries. There has to be a way of keeping track of who's there without taking in every door.

BTW, I now have a Second Life. Interesting. We should start a Boodle Island there.

I ended up there because so many of the people in Atlanta kept saying it was a great professional development tool for educators. I did meet one guy there this morning who gave me information about an open source conference coming up soon, but that's it.

Posted by: a bea c | July 1, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Umm.. well, OK. JA's probably right about all of those things. : )

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

What's the reason the anti-Pyrrhonians give for eating dinner?

Posted by: Jumper | July 1, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

mostly - yes, wouldn't it be lovely if the Dems got their act together? I am a little worried....

frosti - made me laugh! This has been a most beautiful day here in humidity, huge puffy clouds drifting across a blue, blue sky. So, we opened our windows very early and the only problem with that is when I'm left wondering exactly what the neighbors heard when the plugged up toilet was discovered and the 16 year old decided to speak disrespectfully at just the wrong moment? Something tells me that the neighbors don't think the hubby and I are Ozzie and Harriet!

I really dated myself there, didn't I?

Joel's column was a treat.

Posted by: Kim | July 1, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Kim - In theory, it was great when the "Pilgrims" of Plymouth and the "Puritans" of Massachusetts Bay got together for a common cause, given that both colonies were experiencing some distress. In practice, it didn't work out so well.

What I suspect will work out well is when Bill Richardson & John McCain (both having realized that they aren't going to be the eventual nominee) join forces to push a reasonable agenda.

I may not live to see it, but I think it's gonna work well whenever it happens.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Bob...hubby doesn't agree with me, but can you say..."dream team?"

Posted by: Kim | July 1, 2007 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe 20 yrs ago, we got some NASA-Space Shuttle projects for artificial intelligence. One was to prototype natural language interfaces to computer systems -- talk into speech recognition system, or type, but the user wouldn't be required to know a specific query language like SQL, or wouldn't be expected to use it properly. This is a bit of a fool's errand (if you can't explain exactly what you want, why should the computer take you seriously?), but can be valuable as we see in the ability of search engines to find things we didn't even know we were looking for. We hired someone from the linguistics department at the local world-famous university to work on this. She would get questions from the engineers she was trying to help concerning technical engineering details, about which she knew nothing, and should have replied, "I don't know." The engineers would understand that -- what would a linguist know about inertial measurement units or software defect reports? But after years of dealing with students who were expecting information and wisdom from their lecturers, she would always have something to say, no matter how vague or incorrect it was, and no matter how long it took her to say it. Eventually we got the message the engineers preferred that someone else should take her place.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 1, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse


Point taken!


Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey. It barely rained today. Just a smidgen.

Cassandra, frostbitten's idea was great - ask for a written copy of the policy and who'll be enforcing it. Also, that might be a good time to remind the Director of your situation: that you are working with kids who may have families with dubious or even unsavory connections, and that you don't have anything to do with them except for their kids. You might ask her to notify you if any of the parents that may come to your door turn up on her list; that way you can offer to make arrangements to see the children somewhere else. You might even follow up with a letter about that. This way the Director is reminded of your situation, you are on record, and with any luck you won't be caught up in something you aren't really involved in.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 1, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

a bea c

That was my point also. Someone watching the door. They know who comes in, who goes out. When you buy groceries, everything, if it takes place in that door. I know we're videotaped so much of the time, but I guess that is the price we pay for security, of a sort.

Sorry about your memories, a bea c.

Time for bed. The g-girl has wore me out, totally. And guess what? She's not sleepy.

RD, scripture states that sinner will be the first dealt with at the judgement, so that saints get a chance to see those that persecuted and killed them. Those that deny the remedy (Jesus Christ) will make up the first line.

Have a good night, and pleasant dreams.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 1, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - As we're both well aware, the Scripture states a lot of things, not always completely self-consistently.


I have to chuckle a bit at the self-congratulatory back-patting that the PGA is giving itself here:

I mean, c'mon. Tiger Woods (poor Tiger! Only three wins, and six top-ten finishes this year, with about five million in prize money, and not a Major title to be found) IS the PGA at the moment! If Tiger mentioned tonight that he had always loved playing putt-putt with his dad in Atlantic City, and that he'd be willing to host a 4th of July Miniature Golf Championship, but only if the Cyclone was gilded in solid gold, you can bet your butt that the PGA would have goldsmiths at work by midnight tonight, and by Tuesday at least half of the pro tour professionals would have honed up their putt-putt skills and have arranged for last-minute accommodations in or around New Jersey!


Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

A bea c, that is a terrible thing to add to your memories, I remember reading about it.

Like Ivansmom's profession, doubt is a professional qualification in IT. As is the ability to laugh at anything. I hope this doesn't offend you, but, for me, looking at my husband and saying, "Well, it was his *discretionary* fund," would help me feel better about it.

There's so much we can't control. All we can control is how we lets it affect us.

Posted by: dbG | July 1, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, I have a neighbor who is a true jerk (along with his mom and many of his friends).

Last night, they set off an hour's worth of firecrackers in his backyard. Big ones, the kind you'd see at a fairground. Our houses are all close together, the yards are small, I could see and hear remains bouncing off my roof and the roofs of my other neighbor. I think I'm still breathing the afteraffects today.

I'm sure this is illegal, and I have called the cops on them for other things in the past. But I'm also sure you know how well jerks take to having the cops called. My hope is they don't have enough money to repeat this on the 4th. If they do, I will call the cops then.

Suggestions? Normally I'd go and talk this out, but I don't want their Rottweiler sicced on me.

Posted by: dbG | July 1, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

dbG, this is an issue for your local fire department. Look in the phone book for the local fire marshal or the fire prevention bureau. They should be happy to help you.

Posted by: Slyness | July 1, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Slyness!

I'll do that.

Posted by: dbG | July 1, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Let us know how it works out, too! I always like to know the end of the story!

Posted by: Slyness | July 1, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Will do. Just spoke with the haz mat office, who gave me the code office's number, I left a message.

Not that I'll be home if they come over, but my neighbor on the other side is long-retired and sees *everything* that happens on the block. I'll get a blow-by-blow description.

Posted by: dbG | July 1, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

As a guy who's lived in close-knit suburbs during nearly all of my life (never really a rural kinda guy, although I certainly spent plenty of time at the homes of relatives who were actual rural farming folks; never really an inner-city urban kinda guy, although I've spent a number of stints visiting and/or living there briefly), I've been fascinated to watch the attitudes toward fireworks change over the years. Same kinda neighborhoods, same kinda fireworks, same kinda dangers, extremely different coping techniques. Fascinating!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

bc, I agree that Joel's article needed to be more pointy (esp. Heisenberg). I had never done this before but I posted directly to the comment thread to the article. Wow, to be around such pretention and doo-doo heads at one time was too much for me.

Oliphant on cooking Cheney for dinner:

For the first time in my life I can say, you go, Dick Lugar!

Posted by: bill everything | July 1, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

bill e. - I also commented on the article, then reported myself for a copyright/plagiarism violation. How do you think that will play out? Will I be banned from further comment, do you suppose?

Posted by: Bob S. | July 1, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., as long as you don't dis the New Guy I think you are ok.

Posted by: bill everything | July 1, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Joel suggests that "We need leaders who think more like scientists, who know that knowledge is provisional,"

I find it quite interesting that we humans prefer certainty, when at the universe's most basic levels, uncertainty suffuses everything.

Many of you are familiar with Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics, where all measurements and characteristics of a system are described by probability distributions with associated standard deviations. In English, it means that you or I or any Observer of a given particle or system subject to quantum mechanical laws cannot describe that particle or system absolutely precisely in terms of all its characteristics at any single point in time. The more precisely you know any given characteristic such as position or momentum, the less precisely you can measure or "know" the other characteristics of that particle or system.

(I'm going to leave out the Observer effects and particle/wave dualities and such for the moment, to keep this from being too philosiphotechnogeeky)

That is, you or I or the smartest person in the world cannot be certain of everything having to do with a single subatomic particle (this, of course is why they call it the Uncertainty Principle). We can calculate probabilities for all of these teeny-tiny characteristics and events, leaving us with a probabilistic view of those little foundations of the universe rather than a deterministic one. So we have this universe built out of all of these Uncertainties and probabilities and wave functions of observation and reality (leading to a famous exchange between Einstein, "...God does not throw dice," and Bohr, "Einstein, don't tell God what to do.").

Granted, quantum mechanics does not scale up very well, and people and money and bullets are not photons or fermions or Higgs bosons, nor are politics, human belief systems, psychology, and law the Standard Models for cosmology or particle physics.

As I've said many times, we humans are notoriously unreliable Observers to begin with, and there's so much of Everything we see that we just don't understand. Heck, we can't even explain ourselves most of the time, much less things like dark energy or gravity or why there aren't WMDs in Iraq.

But for me, there's enough fundamental Uncertainty for me to have some doubt about almost Everything.

Curiously, one thing I have little doubt about is love. Love *always* leaves a mark.


Posted by: bc | July 2, 2007 12:00 AM | Report abuse

bill everything, I typically steer clear of the article comments, but I did look over there. Er, I like it better over here, though I did note that a few Boodlers did make comments.

a bea c, I'm sorry to hear that about the rabbi under the circumstances. But as others pointed out, it does not change anything between you and your husband, does it?

Saw this quote from an article by Rob Stein regarding research showing stress as a biological trigger for weight gain:

"Scientists reported yesterday that they have uncovered a biological switch by which stress can promote obesity, a discovery that could help explain the world's growing weight problem and lead to new ways to melt flab and manipulate fat for cosmetic purposes.

In a series of experiments on mice, researchers showed that the neurochemical pathway they identified promotes fat growth in chronically stressed animals that eat the equivalent of a junk-food diet.

The international team also showed that blocking those signals can prevent fat accumulation and shrink fat deposits and that stimulating the pathway can strategically create new deposits -- possibly offering new ways to remove fat as well as to mold youthful faces, firmer buttocks and bigger breasts.

'It's very exciting,' said Zofia Zukowska of Georgetown University's Department of Physiology and Biophysics, who led the research, published online by the journal Nature Medicine."

Perhaps I shouldn't have laughed at that, but I did.

Read the rest of the article here:


Posted by: bc | July 2, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

dbG, I know exactly how you feel. I live in a predominantly muslim area. Fireworks start 1 week into fasting month and don't stop until 1 month after hari raya aidilfitri. I've got dirt rain down on roof all the time. That kind of fireworks is illegal. Police? They don't want to deal with it 'cuz almost every house in the area does it.

If I live in a predominantly ethnic Chinese or Indian area, it would be fireworks for 2 weeks during Chinese new year (Jan/Feb) period and probably 2 weeks during Deepavali (Oct/Nov) time. If I live near indigenous people, it would be 1 month during Gawai festival (May/Jun). There's no escape.

My dogs are all stressed out during that period, thereby stressing me out. There are no caves I could move into around here so my only choice is to move further into the jungle. But I not a fan mosquitoes with legs 10 times the size of their bodies, leeches, snakes, scary looking ants etc. Sigh.

Posted by: rain forest | July 2, 2007 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. I'm so up. Been up for awhile. Fingers moving funny this morning. It is Monday. For some, not a good day. Either because they have the biggest hangover on record or there's the job, the one you don't want to go to. I hope neither option is yours my dear friends.

I slept heavy. Have you ever done that? Just too tired. Feels like I could do it again, but I won't indulge. Have to try and get to that laundry room.

Bob S, I believe the Scriptures. As for any inconsistency, I feel it may be my lack. I don't always understand what I read. That's is quite true here, as in other things. I'm willing to admit that. Don't feel I lose anything by saying that, but am aware that may not be everybody's thinking. I figured out a long time ago I am not perfect. I don't know everything, not even close. Not real sure about this "Cassandra person" either. She seems to be okay, but don't look too hard. I suspect there are many flaws and shortcomings. She tries to take it one day at the time, moving forward, one step at the time.

Martooni, hope your life is going in the direction you want. And I hope your want is what it needs to be.

Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, and all.*waving*

Fireworks! Being deaf at this time can be a blessing, as long as I stay indoors. I like fireworks, but only those that are supervised, as in a show.

Ivansmom, thanks for the information, and thanks to you, frostbitten. I will try it, and see how it goes.

Have a great day, and a great holiday too. I'm off, got to call my sister this morning, and have her stop by before work. Talk to one of my grandsons for a little bit last night. Time to get the coffee.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. Peace.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 4:38 AM | Report abuse


Yer gonna hurt yerself with all that pointy stuff so late at night... *L*

dbG, I think Slyness can back me up on this -- the fire department's in a better position to handle "anonymous" complaints, since they can act on the evidence themselves.

*almost properly caffeinated Grover waves as I wait for NukeSpawn to awaken and accompany me to work*


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 2, 2007 4:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cassandra!!! *extra Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 2, 2007 4:42 AM | Report abuse


If I ask the Director to notify me about parents that come to my door that may be on her list, it seems I set myself up for her to look at my door. Is that the case? If anything does come up, by my own request I could be hung? I understand that this is a way to clear me if anything does come up, but it also seems to set me up to be looked at perhaps more than I would be? Would this not be a form of admission? I will ask for a written notice of what this entails, and I think the other tenants need to have this information also. We had a meeting about this, and only a few people showed up(less than ten), and they did not really understand the other side of this coin. I have a feeling this will offer some security, but in the wrong hands it could bite with a vengence.

Just asking. It seems a little complicated to me, and Lord knows, I don't know.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 4:55 AM | Report abuse

What's up, Scotty? I should have known you would be around here somewhere. Hope your morning is good. I see you are doing the waving thing this morning so all is good I suspect. *waving* Mine is a little slow this morning, the fingers don't want to work this morning.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 4:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, drinking coffee. That seems to clear out some corners, not many, but some.

I don't understand why we don't have more comments on this kit. It is certainly an interesting subject. I suspect some people may not want to hear it. I mean, gee whiz, pointy heads going around talking about doubt. We cannot have that. There should be "umbrage" here and more, umbrage. I mean someone should get insulted to the highest. Any suggestion that there is a subject on the Achenblog that we are in doubt about. It just is not so. Tell me it isn't so. There isn't a kit alive or dead that we can't come up with more pointy head comments. And RD, you don't get off just because you're down there soaking up sun and hopefully, fun, at the beach. We're looking for you to fill up your quota no matter where you are. And that certainly goes for the rest of you. It is a subject that one and all can talk about. I'm sure many of you have had that moment, that time, when doubt seems to be the only thing you knew. Be brave, my friends, tell us about it. We know you have it, so out with it. You are among friends, we can take it. Doubt is right up there with your most embarrassing moment. I'll bet that word, the one with the "e" is not spelled correctly.

You see how the coffee just jumps in there and fire those neurons or whatever is in the brain, right up. I'm not saying it's a good up, but it's up.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 5:23 AM | Report abuse

SCC : 10 times their body lengths

Posted by: rain forest | July 2, 2007 5:39 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps I should start first.

My most doubtful moment.

My most doubtful moment begins every morning when I open my eyes. It is a new day, and I don't know what to expect. I hope it is all good, but don't have a certainty on that. I say my prayers, and thank God for Him and for His Son, Jesus. And then I come here. And every morning, or whatever the hour is, I say "good morning, friends." And every day I do it with doubt. I realize that I am putting myself out. I am opening up to people I have never seen in real life. I am leaving a bit of myself here, and perhaps some may be offended and not receptive. Some may be warm and loving, and accepting of me, yet it is still riffed with doubt and unknowns. I am not among my equals in life work or even knowledge. Yet I consider myself very much a equal because of my humanity, still there is doubt. One would think that it gets better over time, it does not. For me, every morning is like the beginning, doubt on the horizon. Yet I continue, I face the doubt, and face the offended. And embrace the loving and accepting. I am just a country person with no real feel for the city or its way of life. Yet I make this step, and I make each morning or day, and I look forward to this, this doubt. I will possess it and make it mine, doubt and all.

Time to go. Have to meet the sister. Have a great day, my friends. And know that prayers have been said and you were included.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Happy Monday, all! Hey, Cassandra, you are quite the philosopher this morning.

Quite right, Snuke. The fire department's code enforcement folks should be able to deal with any issue without saying who called. If dbG's inspectors are like ours, they will be busy this week.

Now, the kit. Great leaders have humility and the ability to see, understand, and incorporate other points of view in their vision of reality. As bc said, none of us has the complete understanding of total reality. If our leaders are to do what is right (regardless of popularity), they must be able to see rightly and make informed decisions on all the information they had. That's the problem with the neocons; they edit out too much reality because it doesn't fit well in their vision. It's the worst possible mistake, especially in politics.

Herein lies the genius of The Man in Joel's basement. Washington wasn't interested in wielding power for its own sake; he wanted to make life better for all the people in the American colonies, and he saw that breaking with England was the only way that could happen. There was a great deal of luck in his success, but he set himself up to be lucky by his character and his actions.

BTW, great article in the current Smithsonian about the southern campaign of the American Revolution and the success of Nathanael Green. Now there's a story of how good strategy brings luck and success.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone.

Yes, whatever the Rabbi did doesn't change the great relationship I have with my husband. And, the Rabbi himself is in part to thank. He spent lots of time with us during our first year of marriage, when we were having a terrible time getting used to sharing home and finances. Unlike most couples I know, we never lived together before getting married.

And it is humorous that he used his discretionary funds to fund his indiscretions.

I watched Casino Royale over the weekend. Probably the last person on the planet to do so. All I can say is Daniel Craig is just beautiful. Well, that, and the movie kept me on the edge of my seat. I'll watch it again today before sending it back.

Posted by: a bea c | July 2, 2007 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good advice, all!

a bea c, thanks for not taking umbrage. . . being human is the best and worst of us!

Posted by: dbG | July 2, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

> uncertainty suffuses everything.

As a great man once said "The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

Then he said "Let it roll baby, roll !"

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse


But that was after he woke up this morning and got hisself a beer.


And yes, Cassandra, caffeine is a good thing this early.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 2, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

"All night long"

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 2, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

You've gotta admit, this article about a family obsessed with raising show dogs has one great headline...

Dog Willing, They'll Win It

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to the dog article...

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Very well reported piece by Peter Baker on Bush:

"No modern president has experienced such a sustained rejection by the American public."

And Hiatt weighs in, too. What's left of the Bush presidency? [Checking calendar to see how many days left.]

FYI, I'm going to try to annotate the Outlook piece a little -- look for that 10-ish today. And then at 11:30 we have the weekly meeting to plan the next section -- I'll try to relate some data from that.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 2, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Time to post the link to the Backwards Bush clock:

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

> Love *always* leaves a mark.

Would that be carpet burn?

Or were you thinking "hickie"?

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Wow, what a lovely day. 3 days off and so much to do. I am sure some time will be spent at the river, perhaps involving some wormies.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 2, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

good morning. up early - still on east coast time, which is convenient, since i start a job today. yes, gone are my free-wheeling grad student days. except i still have to finish that long paper thingy. i doubt i will enjoy the next few months. or whether i'll have much time to boodle.

i really like the kit. i didn't feel like commenting on it when i read it because i get so angry thinking about the current administration, and i've ranted many times before. i think that hubris has turned into a calculated pr strategy of projecting decisiveness and admitting no mistakes. i'm ok with a strong leader approaching that role with a measure of certitude and decisiveness - after going through a thorough process of fact-finding and analysis. and realizing that you can never be 100% sure.

it's probably even good when a lot of the sensitive debates remain behind closed doors. what we have around arbusto, though, is lack of internal debate - way to many yes men (and women). we know now more than ever that the cabinet members who did not make it into the second term were the ones challenging the modus operandi. so the certitude factor relates to bush (and cheney) personally, the internal culture of the administration, and the manner of relating policy and decisions to the public. bleh.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | July 2, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

My only other thought on this topic is that it seems way easier to criticize others for not tolerating doubt than it is to criticize ourselves. I guess that's because we view an advocacy of doubt in other people as a sneaky way to get them to admit that they are wrong.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 2, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Nice pointyheaded comment on uncertainty from bc, and practical ones from Cassandra. My biggest area of doubt, of course, revolves around parenting, since Ivansdad & I are making it up as we go along. So far we seem to be doing okay, judging from the results, but every day offers new opportunities for uncertaintly. I'm also often open to discussion about professional conclusions; what may seem obvious to me is, astoundingly, not always obvious to everyone following my reasoning. At that point I'd better look again. Of course, sometimes I look again and decide those people are just wrong. Doesn't always mean I'm right, though.

Cassandra, you raise a good point about setting yourself up. You might ask whether the manager will notify residents generally when a banned person comes on the property, or even if you could see that list of names in advance -- so you could help the manager, of course.

When I was a little girl and our area was even more rural, we had a family fireworks display every Fourth. Despite that I'm not a "local" fireworks fan. When I was a kid our neighbor's roof was set on fire by a stray bottle rocket. That was before we had a fire station or hydrant. They managed to save the structure.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 2, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

From the Peter Baker piece that Joel linked to:

For all the setbacks, he [President G.W. Bush] remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.

There's a well-reported piece in today's NYT about the "network effect" of genes.

The issue is: If units of the genome, such as junk DNA, as recently reported, are not inert and can impact the workings of other genes, can discrete genes be patented, especially, as is now becoming clearer, that genes work in concert. For example, as reported in the article, scientists recently decoded the genetic structures of one of the most virulent forms of malaria and found that it may involve interactions among as many as 500 genes.

The "network effect." Perhaps this phrase should gain greater currency in our vocabulary? When the United States launches an extremly questionable "pre-emptive" war, perhaps Bush and his circle of advisers should consider the "network effect"--not only on us and our international standing--given the false premises on which the war was begun, but on those who are targeted by the bombs, the violence, the widespread destruction, and by occupying armies?

Baker's piece reported that Bush is meeting with intellectuals and a British historian is mentioned. I was reading a passage this weekend that mentioned very briefly that British historian Toynbee predicted that the conflict of this century would not be against the Communists, but Christians against Muslims. Does anyone know hisorian Toynbee intimately enough to cite the source or passage of Toynbee's that delves into this? Was he truly that prescient?

Thanks for the heads up about the Smithsonian article, Slyness, about Nathanael Greene. Now to find it at the library.

Joel has certainly done his master's, or masters' bidding, with his Kit on Friday. We got it all--the Supremes, a story on Iran, Bush being compared to another world leader, and Joel's article about doubt. Not that this is all to the bad.

I remember an exercise I did with a class during my Teacher Corps days. The students had to read an article about volcanoes. I tested them on their knowledge before they ever set eyes on the material--a pre-test. Of course, they got poor scores. Then the junior high kids read the piece and were tested again. Their reading comprehension and retention of the information were high, as reflected in their test scores. Tickling their curiosity, and subsequently holding their feet to the fire, was a good thing.

How many of us would have made the comparison of Bush to Neville Chamberlain? Gordon Brown certainly has had his hands full during his first 72 or so hours in office. Interesting tidbit about the location of the first bomb near the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London and the hypothesis that the bomb was laid there because Islamist (fanatics?) see women who drink and carouse in these types of nightspots as promiscuous. Also, the knighting of Salman Rushdie playing into the hypothesis. Has anyone read "Satanic Verses"?

I wonder with whom Brown will be compared? Brown isn't Mr. Hollywood and I find myself liking that and his serious posture before the television cameras. I question the wisdom of making Tony Balir, an architect of the Iraq war, a Middle East peace envoy. The appointment seems like a contradiction in terms--and the Middle East hardly seems like northern Ireland. Is accepting the slot all about Blair polishing up his legacy?

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Enjoy the Smithsonian article, Linda. One of my goals in life is to take the time to follow Cornwallis' route from Charleston to Yorktown. I've been to several of the battle sites, but I'd love to do them in order. The first members of my mother's family in this area fought in the Revolution, so I have a personal interest.

My thought about the incidents in London and Glasgow is that either the terrorists are getting more and more stupid about what they do, or the police are getting much better. I hope both are true, but neither makes Gordon Brown's life easier. I wish him well.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

martooni, the mark obviously depends on the love.

Cassandra, who does not wake up with some doubt in their mind about *something*?

You're not alone, you're human just like the rest of us.


Posted by: bc | July 2, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

NYT's reporting this morning hints at fanatical Kurds (not Sunni, not al Qaeda really involved in these incidents over the last handful of days in Britain or not?):

The detainee arrested over the weekend in Staffordshire was a medical doctor of Iranian-Kurdish descent, according to two people with knowledge of the police inquiry.

One of those people, and a BBC report, identified him as Mohammed Asha, 26, and a newspaper, The Sun, said he worked at North Staffordshire hospital near the Midlands town of Newcastle-under-Lyme, where the police searched a house on Sunday. ...

British intelligence agencies had warned the government last April that terrorist attacks might be initiated by Iranian Kurds to coincide with the end of Prime Minister Tony Blair's term of office, according to a person who saw the warning. Mr. Blair handed power to Mr. Brown last Wednesday.

The government has not confirmed that report, and it is unclear precisely *why* Iranian Kurds would be aggrieved. But a radical Kurdish group, Ansar al-Islam, was largely driven out of northern Iraq four years ago when American and British forces overthrew Saddam Hussein, and it has since found a haven in Iran, security officials have said.

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

On the way home I realized my post to LiT was a bit off, and meant log on all weekend but kep getting distracted. All caught up on the kit and boodles. Thanks bc for setting the record straight, I've got an order in at Amazon for the book, thanks for that too.

I'm full of doubts. So full in fact that I sometimes doubt my doubts. That's why I'm so confused all the time. That's my excuse for misinterpreting LiT last Friday.

And can't think of anything special about today, but I'll get an early start on tomorrow: the start of Dog Days.

And to LTL-CA, glad your trip was a success. The weather around isn't like that all summer. Some days it's worse.

Posted by: omni | July 2, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Joel skunked the Competition. Didn't see any other pieces on Doubt over the weekend!

Meanwhile, a patio-building project left a pile of leftover dirt (sand, actually, this being Florida). The simplest way to deal with it seemed to be a retaining wall, to create a well-drained raised bed. So late on Sunday I finished the project by installing a couple of Yucca filamentosa, which are native as far north as Washington (city, not state) and have nice, soft leaves--a yucca that can be cuddled. Also two Florida beargrass plants, which are a bit yucca-ish. I suspect their long, slender leaves may have been useful for basketry, like the related Southwestern plant, sacahuista.

Today's US presidency has been described as a job that doesn't allow time for reflection, so it's best to hand it over to someone with fixed opinions; Reagan would thus be an excellent President, while Clinton should have paralyzed the government by his propensity to "talk through eight sides of every issue, often until his listeners passed out from information overload." My gosh, an articulate ruminator. Dangerous! Unfit!

One British editorial cartoonist (Telegraph?)had Brown as a bear, walking backwards into his first audience with the Queen because Tony told him to.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 2, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Morning everyone! I hope all my fellow canukistanians had a good Canadoodle day! New position here is real laid back. I haven't done a single thing thus far today... other than boodle skimming.

Nice outlook piece by the way boss.

Posted by: Kerric | July 2, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I haven't had time to annotate the Doubt story but I did add to the top of the kit some of the feedback.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 2, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

PITGOATS. Allen Stairs might get a phone call from the Competition.

The Stalin and Mao regimes seem to have been Pitgoaty. The Maoists, in particular, came up with enthusiasms: turning cooking pots into steel, rice so thick, you could walk on top of the ready-to-harvest plants. So underlings reported huge harvests to the overlings, who demonstrated China's great success to the world through exports. Meanwhile, something like 35 million farmers starved (info foggily remembered from "Hungry Ghosts" by Conquest).

Nineteenth-century infantry charges seem to have worked the same way. If a charge didn't work, it was for lack of sufficient enthusiasm.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 2, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Pitgoat is a GREAT word.

My theory as to why many atheists are pitgoats: the alternative is incredibly frustrating.

Take a pitgoat Christian and a pitgoat atheist: If the Christian is right, the atheist may very well spend Eternity in the Fires of That Very Bad Place With All Of His/Her Best Friends and Lawyers, trapped in an unending "I told you so".

If, on the other hand, the Christian is wrong and there is only decomposition after this life, he or she will never know about it.

Any atheist who allows himself any doubt about the veracity of his position is forced to realize that he will only ever know the truth if he is wrong, and the Christian will only ever know the truth if he is right. And the one thing atheists want more than anything is to be able to say, "SEE? I *told* you!" and by definition, that can never, ever, happen.

If I believed in God, I'd think she was playing a pretty clever little joke on me.

Posted by: byoolin | July 2, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think the Universe would be the most incredible waste of space if we only get to ride it once.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Still confused apparently:

meant log=> meant to log
And the book purchased is the one bc mentioned, not the one LiT mentioned.

Posted by: omni | July 2, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Omni..Can you be any nicer? Geez Louise, I'm not that thin-skinned. (Not to be misunderstood: when push comes to shove, you want me on your side in the alley.) Besides, if it were a problem, we would hammer it out over a cheap burger. Of that I have no doubt.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 2, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, bc

Ivansmom, got the list, we all have it. Appreciate the advice.

Slyness, hope everything is okay with you.

Back from the laundry room. That is one long job.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

>I think the Universe would be the most incredible waste of space if we only get to ride it once.

Agreed. Remind me to come back as Paris Hilton next time.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Nineteenth-century infantry charges seem to have worked the same way. If a charge didn't work, it was for lack of sufficient enthusiasm."

You'll never see a better examination of this very idea than Kubrick's "Paths of Glory."

I'm an atheist and feel pretty comfortable about it. The aforementioned Socrates said that death is a continuation of consciousness or it is oblivion and neither one can be bad. One of the things that I have always found off-putting about Christianity is the idea that humans are the only creatures with souls. Now I'm fairly certain I don't have a soul- seen a lotta folks die, never saw a soul, never a difference from an animal's death- but if a soul can be defined as an air of spirituality and a capacity for devotion, then I refuse to believe that I have a soul and my dog Mick has none. Perhaps I'm a closet Bhuddist in the making. Nah, I'm too carnivorous.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 2, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

A little puzzle for our friends to the North who observe Canada Day on Monday when the first falls on a Sunday.

Posted by: omni | July 2, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Morning/Afternoon all, Joel you wrote a kit that speaks directly to me, I am sure of very little - I am feeling better about myself after reading the kit (I think).

Moved rocks for six hours yesterday still a long way to go but taking a break today and will get back to the job either tonight or tomorrow, (really need to work on the "holiday" concept). Canada Day was quiet here, just a work day around the house and fireworks at night.

Posted by: dmd | July 2, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

LiT, I didn't think any thing I posted would cause you to take umbrage (burnt or any other kind). It's just that I realized after I'd left that that bc and I talked about two heck I'm still a very confused person, let's just leave at that while go for a walk and get some tea.

Posted by: omni | July 2, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Been back-boodling and playing catch-up. Martooni, I loved your 8:57.

I thought Joel's piece was one of his best in quite a while, and agree that PITGOAT is a great term, and it will surely enter the lexicon, if not everywhere then certainly here on the Boodle.

I come at the question of doubt from a slightly different perspective than most of you. Ever since I was a wee cub reporter and journalism major way back in the dawn of pre-history, "doubt" went under the general name of "skepticism," and was always considered to be the newspaper reporter's best friend. So I've always tended to look upon "doubt" not as a problem but as a (very) useful tool. The reporter's other tool is curiosity, constantly asking "why things are" (hey, Joel, that would make a good name for a book). To me curiosity and skepticism go hand-in-hand as necessary components of a properly functioning intellect. I've long since come to the conclusion that "the enemy" isn't especially any one particular ideology, but ideology itself, any and all idealogy, whether under the name of religion, or secular/political theory (communism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, even "democracy," which hasn't worked real well in Iraq, Lebanon or for the Palestinians on the West Bank). A "little bit" of some of these things doesn't seem to be too bad if mixed in with some pragmatism, smome moderation, some tolerance, andsome common (or uncommon) sense. But it's when things start to get extreme and rigid that there starts to be problems. It has always seemed to me that "belief" per se was the problem, and doubt the anodyne. Or another way of putting it was that it's OK to believe something "a little bit," but just don't start believing in "it" (a theory, a religious doctrine, whatever) so much that the belief overwhelms common sense, reality-testing, etc.

Take the Peter Baker article about Bush and his "serenity," for example. The picture being painted is one of Bush being serene and confidant in the rightness of his position, etc., all of this sustained by his faith. This kind of commentary to most people is viewed as some sort of positive attribute (never mind all the politics). But to me, this kind of statment does nothing but trigger alarm bells. I don't think as a matter of policy that ANYBODY should ever be "serenely confidant" of their own position and rightness. I think there *always* ought to be some level of doubt, some questioning, some self-second-guessing. In Bush's case he does it in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, international ill will, alienation from his party, disasterous foreign policy, the scorn of the electorate, etc., etc. So much for "faith," dude.

But even if a president was wildly successful at some, I think that would be the time when doubt and skepticism should come into play. I am never more skepitical and apprehensive than when I've accomplished some honey-do chore and everything went exactly right and was easier than I had anticipated. Surely I MUST have done something wrong? Left out a part? Overlooked something? You need doubt and skepticism not just when things go wrong, but even more when they go right. (Bush doesn't have this latter problem.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

> "Remind me to come back as Paris Hilton next time."

I think I'd rather come back as Hugh Hefner.

Or Gene Simmons (pre-"Unmasked").

More proof there is no such thing as a straight line, only circles: just pulled this from the vault...

step one
author: martooni

a hole always seems
so much deeper
when looking up
from its bottom,
and helping hands
are hard to grasp
when yours are
so readily wrapped
around a shovel's
splintered handle.
so you dig
and dig
and dig
until the inevitable
of metal on stone
rings in your ears
and you sink
to your knees
cursing God
and his saints
and your own
damn luck
for getting you
into this mess
in the first place.
and you stand
to shake your fist
at the sky
and realize
you're not in it
so deep
after all,
and you find
to your
you're not

2 june, 2006

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... your post reminded me of a cartoon I saw in an old Playboy (I read it for the cartoons, not the articles) where a helicopter mechanic is standing there scratching his head and looking at a bolt (or was it a nut?). In the background is a helicopter blade still spinning in the air with no sign of the 'copter it was attached to.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

>a helicopter mechanic is standing there scratching his head

Reminds me of the time I met a heli mechanic in a local bar. He worked at the National Guard unit around the corner. When he told me what he did I expressed my admiration for choppers in general. (To say nothing of the Frosti's who fly them! Wowsers.)

He then went on to note that they do something like 4 hours of maintenance for every hour of flying to make sure them thar nuts and bolts stay attached, as does the rotor.

And then mentioned he was the one who got to test fly them.


Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

> "I met a heli mechanic in a local bar"

This does nothing for my fear of flying.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

martooni... that's incredibly beautiful.

You are my absolutely favorite poet. I love to go back and read the one about finding the picture of your mom and I cry each time I read it.

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I've been there with the bolt, too. Bet you have too, Martooni. And did you ever have that feeling after working on some project that the damned thing just went much too easily? That you musta done something wrong?

Forgot to wish happy Canuckistani Day to all you Haute Mainers. I heard the tailend of a piece on NPR radio over the weekend that was one of those polls that measure how ignorant people are--like how many Americans can't name the states, or know who Thomas Jefferson was, etc. Only this poll was about Canadians, and that only a third of them could name all the provinces and territories, and only 8 percent knew who the head of state was (answer: the Queen). So it was kinda comforting to know you Canucks are just as dumb as us Murikins. But happy Canada Day anyway. (Be happy to trade national leaders with you. And a first round draft pick, and two players to be named later.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: shoulda been a "to assuage" in there.

Always wanted to say "assuage", but never had the excuse. One was just handed to me and I blew it.

So it goes.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, for the first round draft picks it would have to be Obama, players named later - John Edwards and one TBA. It would be interesting to see Bush everyday having to answer to the politicians, not to mention the daily press scrum.

Re the quiz, think the Queen answer is misleading - points to who low a priority she now is, people just think the PM is head of state - as it should be. FYI new immigrants did significantly better on the quiz, native borns - not so much.

Posted by: dmd | July 2, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra... I thought of you today when I read this in the Washington Post Business section. It looks like something that could benefit you and your community work...

Case Foundation Seeks Help Online

The Case Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise created by former AOL chief Steve Case and his wife, Jean, is going online for help in choosing who deserves grants of up to $35,000 for community outreach projects.

Here's how the competition will work:

"Through the Make It Your Own Awards, the Case Foundation will search out great ideas from people who connect with others, choose what matters, and take action -- and let online voters determine the top grant recipients.

"Applications will be accepted online at"

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Kubrick had a small, but frightening infantry charge in Barry Lyndon. Good preparation for reading Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer, who emphasizes that an 18th century battle, even a smallish one, was traumatic for the participants. So now I have to find a DVD of "Paths of Glory." It was before my time, at least for movies.

It took the Chinese Communists a long time, but they did finally stop the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, but only after doing terrible damage to the country. I get the impression that even the treasures of the Forbidden City (whatever hadn't been spirited away to Taipei years earlier) might have been destroyed, but for intervention at the highest level.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 2, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

TBG... thanks. Tears, laughter, anger... emotional reactions are the currency poets prefer to be paid with.

Which explains why poets are typically found penniless at death, in sewage-filled ditches surrounded by angry creditors and alimoniless ex-wives.

Just ask Poe.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Paths of Glory" depicts the French army in WWI engaged in trench warfare (see also the more recent "A Very Long Engagement"). When an infantry assault fails to take a fortified German position known as the Ant Hill, the general in charge blames the grunts-surprise, surprise, it's never the planning, it's always the execution- and orders every tenth man tried for cowardice. Kirk Douglas plays the officer who led the attack and who defends the doomed men at court martial. Douglas was so impressed with this first experience with Kubrick that he got him the job directing "Spartacus."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 2, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... if a project goes "too easy", there are only two possible reasons:

1. You actually did it right. (As in the right tools, the right process, the right materials, you actually measured things, etc.)


2. You used a large enough hammer.

That's all I'm sayin'. Can't be giving out all my professional secrets, y'know.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Dave, no one ever faulted Pickett and his men for lack of enthusiasm at Gettysburg. In fact, very few Civil War battles were ever lost because one side of the other lacked enthusiasm. Most of the time it was just bad generalling on somebody's part, until near the end, when it just became a numbers game, and Grant knew he had the numbers.

The all-time premier book on infantry charges and to a lesser extent cavalry charges remains John Keegan's legendary, groundbreaking "The Face of Battle" (1976) (my esteem for Keegan knowns no bounds; he is my idol and I worship at his alter). Keegan is/was the first military hisorian to ask the question, what is a battle like for the poor average schmuck foot soldier? In "Face of Battle" he takes three well-known battles that were foungt on very nearly the same piece of ground, and explains what they were like for the participants. The first is Agincourt in 1415, Henry V's famous victory (and "band of brothers"/Crispin's Day speech; see the Kenneth Branagh movie) over the French cavalry. The second is Waterloo, a few miles away from the field at Agincourt, 400 years later, and then the Somme, 101 years after Waterloo and just down the road a piece.

The leading practioners of "enthusiasm" as the key to victory in an infantry or cavalry charge were the French, who elevated it to its highest military levels and gave it the doctrinal name of "elan" or "elan vital" (after Bergson, 1907). The French got their butts kicked by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War, a 6-month whuppin' Bismarck and von Moltke gave them. The French learned all the wrong lessons from that experience, and thought better morale was the answer (instead of, say, Krupp artillery). By 1914, "elan" of the French army was what was supposed to stop the Germans. You know how that went. French pride 0, Krupp artillery 2 (and we haven't even got to WWII yet, when Krupp artillery and tanks scored the Hat Trick). Once again the French learned the wrong lessons after WWI, and fell back on their strong suit, civil engineering, building a massive line of impregnable fortifications. The thing is, the impregnable got pregged. After WWII, they switched from fighting to obscure cinema.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Why am I reminded of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," and two-headed President Zaphod Beeblebrox, whose main talent for the job is that he is endlessly entertaining?

Posted by: DrBear | July 2, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

martooni you sound like a man well aquainted with the BFH protocol, aka take a big block of metal (lead, steel at least 50 lbs) place upon it some form of handle, then go to town. Also known as the motivator in mechanical districts.

Posted by: Kerric | July 2, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

> "After WWII, they switched from fighting to obscure cinema."

Which is *tres bon* (or is that bonne?), as this has allowed the lovely and precocious waif Audrey Tautou (of "Amelie") to grace this long-haired-overfed-leaping-stumbling gnome's television screen.

I'm not saying I'd leave Mrs. M and the Bean for her, but I doubt I would throw her out of bed for eating crackers (if ya know what I mean).

My kingdom for the ability to properly and seductively roll an "R"...

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Rolling an "R"...


Now I can't get "T-I-Double-Grrrrrr-R" out of my head.

I guess that's okay as long as I don't get attacked or otherwise bamboozled by any Woozles, Heffalumps or Jagulars this afternoon.

Can you imagine the police report?

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Kerric... if the BFH is anything like the BFG2000, I got two of them and use them regularly.

The laws of physics, when properly applied, *will* move mountains.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

>long-haired-overfed-leaping-stumbling gnome

Spill the wine, dig that girl!

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

oh. my. gawd.

It just hit me that if "BFH" were to be confused/mis-associated with "BPH", some Boodlers would be in very deep doo-doo, spouse-aly speaking.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

North Carolinians point out Pettigrew's role in the big attack. His units suffered terribly in the Gettysburg campaign, before and after the Pickett charge, and Pettigrew died. A building at UNC is named in his honor (he was a graduate).

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 2, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

> "Spill the wine, dig that girl!"

Dang. I always get that one backwards.

I'd also love to know how this scenario usually ends with me wearing a tutu and flippers, reciting Bukowski with a lampshade on my head.

Froomkin was right: "Put a Fork in Him"

He was merely misdirected as to who should be the target of the fork.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: should that have been "whom"?

Where the heck is Mudge when you need him?

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Dave, my dad lived in Pettigrew when he was at Carolina (1914-1918). I believe it now houses administrative offices.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Right here, Martooni. "Who" is fine.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

One reason I love the Boodle: Maginot Line references. Who could doubt they'd be able to resist a German invasion?

martooni, thanks for the tune cootie.

LiT & omni: no harm, no foul. Cheeseburgers, chicken wings and mashed potatoes all around.


Posted by: bc | July 2, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin psychoanalyzes Bush:

Peter Baker leads his piece with word that Bush has been summoning authors and philosophers to the White House -- "looking for answers," it is said, to such questions as: "What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?"

But to me [Froomkin], it sounds like Bush is looking not for answers -- but for rationalizations for his behavior. There is no sign of genuine introspection, no sign of acknowledgment of mistakes, no sign of any significant change of course. In a pattern familiar to anyone who has ever had a drinking problem, Bush appears to be engaged in a furious effort to persuade onlookers that he's fine -- even if he isn't.

In fact, one could even argue that Bush's search for "answers" from a parade of easily cowed visitors allows him to avoid a hard look at the one place he is most likely to find an explanation for his predicament: Within himself.

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Actually bc, I believe there was a foul in the third para of my first post today. Sorry Canada, I take it back.

I hereby sentence myself to hum O Canada my entire commute home.

Posted by: omni | July 2, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

a few random thoughts:

Soldiers who charge with elan make for a very dysfunctional citizenry after the war.

There is nothing wrong with having and using a BFH, as long as every problem doesn't present as a BF Nail. (Or the capability to soon be nails, or bring their nail like selves over here)

Interesting thoughts re: war as last resort in the latest issue of Parameters, the journal of the US Army War College.
Basic premise is that using war only as a "last resort" can be worse than pre-emption if the delay of action 1. makes things worse than battle would have or 2. makes the war unwinnable. "Last Resort and Preemption: Using Armed Force as a Moral and Penultimate Choice" by Eric Wester
Ironic that preemption is considered mostly in a Peace Enforcement Operation (PEO) context, applicable to Darfur presumably, not in the self inflicted goat rope context.

There is also an interesting, though to my mind too nebulous, piece titled
"A Social Network Approach to Understanding an Insurgency."

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank the FSM, Mudge is in the house (and I apparently chose the correct form of "who").

I should probably go out and buy some lottery tickets. Luck should be embraced and milked for all it's worth.

But now I'm wondering... if you "dig the wine" and "spill that girl", are there any legal implications (assuming she was breathing, fully clothed and otherwise unharmed when spilled)?

I'm also perplexed by other lyrics, particularly:

"S'cuse me, while I kiss this guy" (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was under the impression that Jimi didn't "swing" that way)

and then there's...

"Might as well face it, you're a dick with a glove." (which ties in nicely with the Post's recent series on the Vice President, but I'm thinking that wasn't Robert Palmer's intended message)

There are others, like "Play than funky/fordy music right/white boy", and "Wrapped up like a douche / Another rumour in the night" instead of "Revved up like a deuce / Another runner in the night"

For a full list:

Can't even trust your ears these days.

I'm thinking we need a new line of t-shirts that say "got doubt?".

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

... "According to Chris Matthews, women like George W. Bush because he looks sexy in a flight suit."

Uh, what does Chris Matthews know about women, anyway? 54% of women voting, voted for Al Gore in 2000.

Personally, if I liked how somebody looked in a flight suit, I wouldn't...
vote for him as president.

Of course, I'd have voted John Edwards, but that has NOTHING to do with how he'd look in a flight suit.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Maginot Line was that French were busy preparing for a Sumo match while Le Boches were practicing running the pick and roll. No contest.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 2, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing at your 3:44, Martooni. But like me you're getting old. I'm having my hearing checked on Thursday. I suggest you might wanna do the same. :-) (The late Robert Palmer might appreciate it, too.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Didn't they just go around the end?

Posted by: bh | July 2, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I suppose W might look good in a flight suit to some women. I'm thinking of those women who haven't actually seen very many men in flight suits and thus have no basis for comparison.

One thing my lifelong association with the military has given me is a very high standard for eye candy. W certainly would not pass the "crackers in bed test." Not that I think that needs to be a presidential qualifier, but it seems no worse than the "would I want to have a beer with him?" test.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

SCC-I should have given credit to Martooni for the crackers reference.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

frosti, I wouldn't want to have a beer with Arbusto, myself. How about you?

I don't drink beer; I wouldn't be interested in sharing a diet Coke, even.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Linda: I would appreciate a source reference for the attribution to Toynbee that the 21st century clash of civilizations would be between the West and Islam. I attended Toynbee's 1965 lectures at New College, Sarasota, and have just spent half a day perusing his 10 volume A Study of History (7000+ pages) with no success in making that connection. Toynbee, like Spengler, concluded that all civilizations eventually fail, but that the failure is primarily due to internal, rather than external forces. I think that the prolific nature of Toynbee's work lends itself to interpretations, somewhat akin to reading Nostradamus. PITGOATs read into out of context sections that which will support their own conclusions. Toynbee updated his study with a one volume version about 1972-73 and reconsidered issues such as newer political systems, nuclear weapons and environmental impacts, and offered a redemptive approach to avoiding his fatalistic theory of inevitable decline. I have a favorite anecdote about Toynbee from my '65 experience and may tell it one day when I have time and the boodle is in one of those self-imposed doldrums. I don't want to kill it now.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 2, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Loomis said or quoted or otherwise posted: "In a pattern familiar to anyone who has ever had a drinking problem, Bush appears to be engaged in a furious effort to persuade onlookers that he's fine -- even if he isn't."

Which would explain the frequency of my posts here today and why the most prudent/pragmatic thing for me to do would be to retreat to the nearest corner, sit firmly on my hands and be quiet.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Slyness-I do drink beer, but I like my company a little less ethically challenged.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

LOL, I'm with you on that one, frosti.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I've always been choosey about who I drink with, too. Arbusto doesn't make the cut.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Frosty... I'm with you on GWB and his failure to pass the "crackers in bed" test. But then I'm a heterosexual guy, so I'm not exactly the prime test subject.

But even if I were a flaming queen with Log Cabin tendencies and an insatiable itch for tough-talking Haliburton employees, I am unwavering (and unanimous) in my opinion that George W. Bush does absolutely nothing for me and would not be welcome in my bed, cracker crumbs, WMDs or no.

Sorry, George.

"Close, but no banana"?

Not even.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Fun day at Broadway at the Beach. Had a great lunch at Liberty's, known for it's microbrewery. The waitress was clearly from Eastern Europe. I fear I was but a single glass of Rocket's Red Ale from asking her to say "Moose and Squirrel."

My daughter discovered a store that sells "Webkinz." Although she is clearly at the upper age level for these stuffed animals that come with on-line avatars, events have conspired to maintain her delight with such things longer than many.

Sorry if none of this has to do with doubt, but it was a very good day, and you gotta hang onto those.

Now, it's time to drink my second glass of Ale for the day. After that I invariably require a short nap.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 2, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

martooni - I hope you are doing well. I keep imagining what it would be like not to have a built-in circuit breaker for alcohol. (For I am a notorious lightweight. After three drinks the stuff simply loses its charm for me.) Anyway, I know you are getting this a lot, but I am hopeful that hearing it again will help.

We're pulling for you my friend. We're pulling for you.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 2, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I think Arbusto would be a prime candidate for a snipe hunt. If we were to get Cheney in on it, we may be lucky enough to witness first-hand the simultaneous display/execution of two proverbs: two birds with one stone (or shotgun shell, as the case may be) *and* "what goes around, comes around".

The definition of "poetic justice" may need adjusted to accommodate the extra weight of its newfound significance under these circumstances, but I think it would be worth the effort.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, the Boodle is the perfect place for that definition to be adjusted.

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"asking her to say "Moose and Squirrel.'"

I'm ROTFLMAO, Padouk.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

The power of suggestion wins. After almost 3 weeks dry, the slyness and frosti remarks, "I don't drink beer, I do drink beer" reminded me that I have finished my current antibiotic regimen (for oral surgery) and I can drink beer again. When RD chimed in with ale, I thought, this must be a test for Martooni, so I became the surrogate fallback and went to the local convenience store for supplies. (How's that for ratiocination?) FYI Martooni, I was a classic alcoholic in my 30s, but unlike Bush, chose a self-control path that classified me as a controlled alcoholic - I eschew the hard stuff and limit my beer/wine intake to self-imposed time/place/quantity/circumstance and dryout regimens. I base that on Ben Franklin who said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." The controlled alcolism sthick doesn't work for everyone, and perhaps especially not poets. As Ciardi wrote: "How and why, poets die/ that a dismal tale./ Some take a spill on Guinea hill/ Some drown in ale."

Posted by: Shiloh | July 2, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I have succumbed to 13 yo daughter's constant requests to shop at the mall "alone" with her friends. But I am sitting in the middle of Fair Oaks Mall using my Treo to connect with the boodle. I'm not willing to drop her off and pick her up later. (At least she's using her own money--income from her very lucrative babysitting gigs.)

You'd think a mall in Fairfax County, Va., where nearly every Internet tube must pass, would have free WiFi, but alas it seems we are stuck here in the 20th Century.

martooni, my friend... if keeping you here blathering with the rest of us keeps you perched on that wagon for a while, then blather away. What's the excuse for the rest of us, I want to know?

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh... add me to the list of folks who would not want to sit down with GWB for a beer, a diet soda or a cup of anything. In fact, he's always been the kind of guy I go out of my way to avoid.

Crackers? He11 no. Not even cookies.

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm so old and unhip that earlier today on the home page I misread the headline "Manta Ray Dies" as "Martha Ray Dies."

So naturally I have no idea what "Moose and Squirrel" means. Explain?

And I had to twice go to the internet acronym page three times today because of you guys. That's why I try to keep quiet.

Martooni, hang in there!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 2, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

AP reports Bush has commuted sentence of Scooter Libby.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 2, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

>"asking her to say "Moose and Squirrel.'"

Sounds like a winner to me. But keep in mind my home network includes "Natasha", "Bullwinkle", "Boris" and my iPod is named "Fearless Leader".

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Bush has no shame.

Maggie... can you hear the words, "Moose and squirrel" in your head? Do you hear Natasha's voice, from Rocky & Bullwinkle?

My favorite pronunciation from an Eastern European waitress was at a Dairy Queen in Virginia Beach last year (well... "waitress" is stretching it a bit) who handed me my drink and said, "Here is your Mullato.") A good illustration why the Moo-latte is a very poorly named drink.

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Bush Spares Libby From Prison

The Associated Press
Monday, July 2, 2007; 5:47 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term on Monday, issuing an order that commutes his sentence.


All I can say is "son of a bi†ch."

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, EXACTLY!

When it comes to a 19 year old MAJOR eye candy hunk in fighting shape vs a guy old enough to be president... no comparsion.

Chris Matthews apparently needs to LOOK at the military more, if he thinks W sets any kind of bar for looks.

Semper Fi! (I have Marine cousins, myself).

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

>All I can say is "son of a bi†ch."

Maybe someday we can put them in jail together. God knows they deserve it.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Error in '08!

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

From Bush's statement...

"The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby's case is an appropriate exercise of this power."

Since when is the Constitution his friend?

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Um, Wilbrod, whaddaya mean, "old enough to be president"? You only have to be 35 to be president. One would like to think that a 35-year-old can out-perform a 19-year-old, even in regard to *that* function.

(Granted the "rinse-and-repeat" function might not be quite as good, but the, ah, wisdom, experience, and technique should more than make up for it.) (Plus, at 19, you don't know what the hell you're doing. You think you do, but you don't.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

>Error in '08!


Why thank ya, thank ya verrry much.

In my wildest dreams we find a way to put Barbara in with him.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't have said it better, Error and TBG. I knew it was going to happen, I still think it's shocking. How many times am I going to be shocked at the prevailing Republican motto - do as I say, not as I rule for us, another for everyone else....or whatever- something along those lines. From states rights when it suits them, recounts when it suits them, perjury when it suits them, judicial activism when it suits them, legislative obstruction when it suits them and on and on, the hypocrisy is astonishing. I'm certainly aware that the Democratic party can't be absolved of the occasional bouts of timely hypocrisy, but they've got nothing on the Republicans.

Posted by: Kim | July 2, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... I'll never be able to look at a shampoo bottle the same again.

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Backboodling... missed another Martooni special! (Thinking of the poem "footprints" right now.)

BFH= big fording hammer? Is that like a Giant Patriarchial Tool? (a Kzin reference BTW).

Error in '07! ('08 is too long).

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-we are talking eye candy, not something you actually want to bring home and house break.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I have a reply, but it'd get us all shut down and Joel fired in a heartbeat.

And fortunately, it's almost time to run for the bus.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I know about the 35 year-old thing. Looking-- not touching.

I was referring to eye candy quota... not ahem, crackers. There are some damn smoking 35 year-olds out there, but they ain't running for president.

I just couldn't remember how old W is-- but he ain't no 35 year old.

Heck, his twins would be robbing the cradle if they were chasing 19 year olds in flight suits.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, good point, Frosty. (I'm laughing at "house-break.")

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

commuting the sentence of a convicted republican: compassionate conservativism at work.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 2, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

My sentiments exactly, TBG (on the Libby non-sentence). My husband heard it first on the radio and he's fit to be tied. We need that no-confidence vote that parlimentarian governments have. Can we recall the Pres and VP? Can we resign in protest as citizens and form our own government? *Now*, can we impeach both of them?

Oh well, at least Richard Cohen's happy.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, Arbusto, Bill Clinton, and I were all born within 48 days of each other, and all approaching our 61st birthdays--Arbusto on Friday, Clinton on Aug. 19, and me 5 days later.

Maybe you can make something out of that; I sure can't.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"He (Bush} might as well (commute Libby's prison sentence) because he's (Bush's) as unpopular as he11 now."

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Good point from Loomispouse. What does it matter when your own party is distancing itself and you are more interested in what people in 2107 think of you than 2007?

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I like the headline on CNN's website:
Scooter Skates

Guess I'll go see what Lou Dobbs has to say about it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Really, Mudge? You certainly have packed 900 years of living in that almost 61...we love you for it, too!

Posted by: Slyness | July 2, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, heatstroke shortly after birth would explain a lot about W....

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Hypocrisy indeed, Kim...

Statement By Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)

Following is a statement from the Senate's closed deliberations on the articles of impeachment against President Clinton, excerpts of which senators were allowed to publish in the Congressional Record for Friday, February 12, 1999:

"Having found that President Clinton committed the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, my duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States made it clear that these offenses were high crimes and misdemeanors requiring his removal from office.

"There is no serious question that perjury and obstruction of justice are high crimes and misdemeanors. Blackstone's famous Commentaries--widely read by the framers of the Constitution--put perjury on equal footing with bribery as a crime against the state. Perjury was understood to be as serious as bribery, which is specifically mentioned in the Constitution as a ground for impeachment.

"Today, we punish perjury and obstruction of justice at least as severely as we punish bribery. Apparently, the seriousness of perjury and obstruction of justice has not diminished over time...

"I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail. Many senators have voted to remove federal judges guilty of perjury, and I have no doubt that the Senate would do so again. Those who by their votes today confer immunity on the President for the same crimes do violence to the core principle that we are all entitled to equal justice under law."


I wonder what former Senator Frist thinks of Bush's actions today. I hope he publicly condemns them. (Yeah... right!)

Posted by: TBG | July 2, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudgie -- you keep leaving me out -- I'm 10 days after Bill Clinton and 5 days after you. You do indeed pave the way for those of us turning 61. So, in three years, I'm considering having a "will you still need me, will you still feed me" party. Gotta strike while the iron is hot and while you can still strike anything at all.

Mostly lurking today. Equally pi$$ed off at the commutation, but at least he left the hefty fine and the two-year probation intact. I would *really* love to see Cheney as someone's girlfriend at Attica. I suppose a vibrant fantasy life must be good for the immune system, too.

BTW, martooni, I just *loved* your poem earlier. You are just dripping in writing talent. Continue to use that gift.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 2, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

On a lighter note, there was a post on Slashdot once about Cheney's Energy Task force I found particularly amusing.

To paraphrase, he said "Give me a big Die-Hard battery, a set of heavy-duty battery cables and ten minutes access to Dick Cheneys' nuts and I'LL tell you who was on the Energy Task Force.

So when the revolution comes, we may have that to look forward to.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks for the information, we certainly can use it. I mean the community organization and me.

And I agree with your other post.

I cannot believe that the President did that. How can one talk law and order when doing stuff like that. I mean he has to know his numbers aren't good, and the action he took today, I can't see them getting better. And I know he did not quote the Constitution in justifying that action.

I've had the feeling since Katrina that we are going to see results from these actions at some point in our society, and I'm adding this action right up there with Katrina. And oh, people, I just know we're not going to like when we see it again. Not one bit.

Scooter was probably going to sing like a bird in jail. He would have put meaning to the word "jail bird".

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, thanks for the gene link.

On brighter news-- just how did Argentavis magnificens manage to fly?

Don't cry for him, Argentina. You'd have been between a roc and a hard place had he snatched you up for a snack.

And the next time you wriggle out of a tight spot by your wits, thank your worm ancestor:

And the British are building killer wave generators. Trying to make a splash in research? Sure, right.

Feel the pointiness growing from pointless science...

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 2, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge, you've beaten me by two weeks and by hipness to the max. I think The New Guy is now doing the median thing and deciding that we must all get the axe. (See Lisa De Morales' column today.)

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 2, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Error... I have a feeling that Cheney might find that shock-rig a bit too enjoyable.

If you really want to mess with him, make him an extra on the Teletubbies show -- force him to play nice with bunnies, share his toys and give him big sloppy hugs and kisses every time he cusses or proclaims that Iraq was directly involved with 9/11.

If you really *really* want to mess with him (be prepared for Armageddon), hide his ballet shoes.

Posted by: martooni | July 2, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

If Scooter is on probation, does this mean that he won't go anywhere near Dick Cheney's office?

I'd sure like to get a quote from Patrick Fitzgerald about now. I suppose Fitz is having fits: "*$#@(^!)f*%$#*!!!" Also makes me tempted to run out and buy Murray Waas's book.

Shiloh, I didn't mean for you to go to all that work. Hopefully, Toynbee is on your own bookshelf and you didn't head to a library to peruse Toynbee's works.

The source:
After the show (a dalang, a traditional Javanese puppet show in the West Javanese mountain city of Bandung), the (university) students and I retired to a local coffee house. They explained to me that in the opinion of many Indonesians the United States was waging an anti-Islamic war. They informed me that back in the fifties the British historian Arnold Toynbee had predicted that the real war in the next century would not be between Communists and capitalists, but between Christians and Muslims.

John Perkin's 2007 "The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption" in the chapter "Lebanon: 'Stark Raving Mad'," p. 181.

I should consider the source of the writing or statement because in the previous paragraph the author really mangles--by superficially condensing--the history of the Crusades.

Toynbee elaborated:

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I can think of other phrases besides son of a b, but not in polite company. This is the trouble with being a lame duck and so low in the polls, he can do anything he wants without concern. I just pray that we can get through the next 567 days. When "S" came home he mentioned how Scooter is off the hook but that poor kid in GA, AL (can't remember) is still in jail for consensual Clinton-s$x with a fifteen year old after everyone but the prosecuter wanted to let him out. Some country we live in.

They had Joe Wilson on CNN and he called the administration corrupt and Scooter a traitor. Right on Joe.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

>with being a lame duck and so low in the polls, he can do anything he wants without concern

Actually it's probably the one thing he could do to make the #*&$)$ who supported him all this way happy.

That'll get him another .1 % in the polls, I'm sure.

'scuse me, I'm going to listen to some 60's protest songs. The right can complain about that decade all they want but at least those people had *something* in their drawers.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I'm wondering if we'll hear from Fitzgerald. As I am married to a prosecutor, I can honestly attest to the fact that most of the time, they are conscientious, hard working and impartial. There are many stories of prosecutors run amok and sunshine should be directed at them when they do. But I know a bunch of them and the ones that I know don't care about Democrats, Republicans or Wiccans in the grand jury. Just don't lie to them. When the FBI and PI's come calling and AUSA's ask questions in the grand jury, the thing to do is really very simple. Tell the truth.

I can't quite square the Republican talking points that I'm hearing all over the news with that principle.

Posted by: Kim | July 2, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I guess might makes right. It is kind of sad in a way. It's maddening, and sad too. We know one person happy about all of this. Scooter Libby.

Error, I had a bunch of those records from the sixties. The 45's and the albums, I love that music. Somebody cleaned me out when I moved. I forgot them, and went back, too late.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

A thousand pardons (sorry, poor choice of figure of speech) to firstimer and maggie d for omitting them from the birthday honors list.

Somebody esplain to me why the History Channel currently is running a show on Star Wars and George Lucas's subtext? Well, thank god there's still some quality television on the major network channels. Let's see, there's "Age of Love" (write-up description: "Mark meets the second group of women vying for his attentions, and they enjoy a pool party; each group of women learns of the other's existence at the elimination round") on NBC, and ABC has "Wife Swap," which I won't even begin to describe. Fortunately, the "E" Channel has "The 25 Most Memorable Swimsuit Moments."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-you should consider watching the "encore presentation" of Army Wives on Lifetime.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, Keith Olbermann has been excellent tonight re: the commutation. He just named Bush the Worst Person in the World. I do love Keith.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm OK with Scooter staying out of jail. In the great scheme of things, he's done relatively little harm to the Republic.

Bush (for whom I voted for President both times, I feel honor-bound to remind y'all) really, really pisses me off pretty regularly. I'm quite looking forward to seeing him, and most of those around him, gone away from the halls of power.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

So, Bob...we have YOU to blame?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

You're okay with Scooter staying out of jail?

I think that is an awful statement considering that most folks when they commit a crime have to go to jail. And the harm he's caused I would not describe as little.

Ivansmom, your thoughts on the pardon?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

the fault is in our gens.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 2, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

We really do live in two "United States of America".

And one judical system for the one, and another for what's left.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - Thankfully, most people who commit a crime do NOT have to go to jail, at least not for very long. We don't have nearly enough jail space, let alone enough qualified jailers. Look at it this way: While the wages of sin are death, most sinners get a few chances before the wages are collected.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

'mudge - (ruefully) Yup, I'm at least partly to blame. Aaah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Bob, what possessed you to vote for him the second time? Most people don't go to jail the first time? The ones who don't probably have the $ for a good lawyer.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Tsunami generators might be nice, but the real money would be in better surfing-wave machines for water parks, not to mention artificial surfing reefs to improve beaches. None in the US yet, but Bournemouth, England is getting one.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps that is the case in your neighborhood, Bob, but not where I live. Most of the folks that look like me do go to jail. Not all, but most.

And I noticed you quoted some scripture, and I'll remind you that those that work for the government have to meet a tougher criteria than the common man. And especially those closest to the leader.

I think most people believed that this was going to happen, but it will not set right with some people, and there is a higher authority. So much of the time people act as if there is not. That's usually where the trouble starts. They think no one sees them.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneaks - Go to any urban courthouse with mostly poor, mostly non-white defendants, and count for yourself. Most convicted criminals, no matter how poor or non-white, do very little jail time.

As to the second Bush vote, I still ponder that from time to time. Basically, it came down to the fact that something about John Kerry creeps me out. Not a very good answer, I'll certainly concede.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. Totally 'ing unbelievable! (Just got in from dinner and saw the news, now I'll back-Boodle).

Posted by: dbG | July 2, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

' something about John Kerry creeps me out'

And nothing about Bush did the same?

I've never understood the people who say that Bush is likeable. To me he comes across as insincere and shallow. The type who would glad hand you one minute and totally forget your face the next.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - Well, you must live in a part of the country with well-funded jails! In most of the U.S., there's no space for most criminals, so fines, probation, community service, and various forms of administrative torture are used extensively. Not out of some generous spirit of forgiveness - just budgetary considerations.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I still can't believe it. Maybe he thought the numbers couldn't go down any lower.

We now live in a country where Paris Hilton goes to jail and Scooter skates.

Posted by: dbG | July 2, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

'sneaks - You'll notice that I've made no attempt to defend my votes! :-(

Cassandra - You'll notice that I've made no attempt to address the disparity between jail time served by poor/non-white defendants and others. I was just addressing the specific remark you made, to wit: "I think that is an awful statement considering that most folks when they commit a crime have to go to jail." With the follow-up: "Most of the folks that look like me do go to jail. Not all, but most."

Trust me on this - If what you've said is factually correct, then you live in a glorious wonderland of jail funding!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra - Or an awful hellhole of worse-than-usual rates of serious crime!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think the unreasonably long sentence given to Scooter will give Arbusto enough cover to weather the storm (geez, on the list of things Arbusto has screwed up, this one is going to have to fight against many FUBARs to move to the top of the charts).

The Scooter-roo is still convicted of a felony, unless overturned on appeal. He still has to pay a not insubstantial fine. More importantly, Ivansmom, help me here, but I would assume a felony will cause him to lose his law license.

He will no doubt go into "consulting" and earn enough to keep his family from living in the streets. But his political career is, basically, over.

It is understandable to want the current administration to suffer but I don't really care if the knife is cut deep enough into the sacrifical lamb to kill it.

Posted by: bill everything | July 2, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, I believe the US has spent billions recently on funding prisons. Many small, rural towns welcome prisons as an industry, now that the farmers and factories are gone. I take your point, though. Although just this afternoon I got to witness one of my young neighbors get confronted by many cops with guns drawn, as he got hauled away on a domestic dispute.

What irks me are former administration officials like Christie Todd Whitman. She resigned, supposedly to spend more time with her family, when she was really upset with Cheney subverting the Clean Air Act. Why the devil didn't she say so - maybe then people would have had more of a bad feeling about Bush in 2004. I still can't believe he won that election. Ratzenfratzen voters...

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Bob, they have them sleeping in the aisle. It doesn't matter, they throw them in there, and yes, they are crowded, but it doesn't really matter. What's changed? Their interest is not to make them comfortable anyway. Some of them by the time they
stand before a judge have already served their time.

And I would really like to know why you voted for Bush, if I'm not being too personal? That excuse about Kerry creeping you out won't fly. There's a load hanging on that.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say, my first thought with the Libby commutation was "What, on Monday and so early in the news cycle? What happened today that required this diversion of our attention?"

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Didn't mean to beat on you Bob, I'm feeling very out of sorts over the whole Libby thing.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, I was thinking something close to that myself.

Posted by: dbG | July 2, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I'm going to bed. I am tired. Just plain old tired. Have a good evening. And whatever your reasons were, and are, they are yours.

Good night, boodle. Pleasant dreams.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, Scotter will lose his license and his political career is "over." Just like Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy's careers were over and they suffered. (Both should have been hanged as traitors, IMHO.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 2, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, Scotter will lose his license and his political career is "over." Just like Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy's careers were over and they suffered. (Both should have been hanged as traitors, IMHO.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 2, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

What happened was the Appeals Court ruled that Scooter couldn't remain free while waiting for his appeal. Wouldn't want him to spend even one night in prison, now would we? Maybe he'd have a nervous breakdown or something. Unfortunately, it's within the Prez's power and no one can overrule him. It's maddening not to be able to do anything about this - and it's testing my non-violent principles, let me tell ya!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Too much sugar tonight, Bob S?

Posted by: CC | July 2, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I laughed at your last post about Libby and Ollie North. That is certainly putting it blunt and to the point.

I'm out of here.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 2, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

The Scooter sentence was well within guidelines. His 'defense fund' will pay the fine and all his well connected friends will be sure he is very gainfully employed, law license or not. I'm thinking some nice lobbying job or maybe a cushy position at Halliburton. He'll make millions.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 2, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW, the White House website makes no mention of the commutation, that's how proud they must be. I sent my reaction to Bush and Cheney, but carefully worded so I won't get hauled away (I hope). I hope they're getting flooded with email and phone calls. What a bunch of arrogant jerks.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many e-mails it would take to constitute a DNS attack. Not suggesting, just asking. Well...maybe I am suggesting.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 2, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

bill everything writes:
He still has to pay a not insubstantial fine.

...first trial to emerge from the three-year, $1.5 million, CIA/Leak probe may be an uphill battle for Patrick Fitzgerald, ... (cost to tax-payers, probably a low-ball figure given the date of the article)

Frank Rich, NYT, March 11, 2007

Mr. Libby's novel was called "The Apprentice." His memoir could be titled "The Accomplice." Its first chapter would open in August 2002, when he and a small cadre of administration officials including Karl Rove formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a secret task force to sell the Iraq war to the American people. ...

Mary Matalin, the former Cheney flack who served with Mr. Libby on WHIG and is now on the board of his legal defense fund (*its full list of donors is unknown*), has been especially vocal. "Scooter didn't do anything," she said. "And his personal record and service are impeccable." What Mr. Libby did -- fabricating nuclear threats at WHIG and then lying under oath when he feared that sordid Pandora's box might be pried open by the Wilson case -- was despicable. Had there been no WHIG or other White House operation for drumming up fictional rationales for war, there would have been no bogus uranium from Africa in a presidential speech, no leak to commit perjury about, no amputees to shut away in filthy rooms at Walter Reed. (Lest we forget.)

bill everything, I suspect that Libby is not going to be too hard-pressed to come up with the quarter mil. And would you lawerly tpes mind explaining what "probation" means?

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm laughing now!!! OK, OK, just for you, Cassandra (although I've probably gone over this before, late at night) -

I was in Del Rio, TX when Bush ran for the office of governor in 1994. I saw him as the lightweight idiot son of an ex-President, and voted for Ann Richards, who I met briefly after her governorship ended, and over whom I shed a few actual tears not too long ago.

When in office while I was still present (up until 1997), Bush seemed to be a reasonably competent and effective governor, to the extent that I was paying attention. (Bear in mind that Texas was going to be a temporary home for me, so I didn't really immerse myself in local politics.) On several issues that I did notice, he ended up making approximately the same decisions that I thought that I might make. He seemed to be able to distance himself from the radical right, had reasonable approaches to immigration issues, etc, etc.

Skip to 2000 -

I liked Bill Clinton, although he'd done a few things to convince me that he & those around him thought that the rules didn't really apply to them as long their intentions were pure. (If I only knew then...) When it came time to choose between Gore & Bush, I was genuinely torn. I considered them both honorable. I certainly considered Gore to be a much sharper individual, with whom I shared much in the way of intellectual curiosity. Bush, on the other hand, I recalled as a guy who had been much better than I expected as TX governor. (Note to self for the future - "Exceeding low expectations isn't the same as being good!")

Skip to 2004 -

I somehow convinced myself that some of the Bush posturing over the previous couple of years had been electoral politicking, and that he still was basically a pragmatist. And Kerry repeatedly reaffirmed my belief that he was genuinely a condescending elitist. And I say this as a guy who gets a head start on most of the population in the IQ department, and has been known to display a little condescension of his own.

Anyway, given those two choices, at that moment in time, I narrowly tipped toward Bush. I wish I hadn't.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Today's commutation the exception, rather than the rule, from the NYT:

"The garden-variety pardon is a forgiveness," said Margaret Colgate Love, the pardon lawyer at the Justice Department for most of the 1990s. "It does not expunge or seal a conviction, but it provides relief from the collateral legal consequences of a conviction."

Commutations, by contrast, only make the punishment milder. Governors sometimes commute death sentences to life in prison, for instance.

The Constitution gives the president the "power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." The provision is generally understood to grant complete discretion where federal crimes are involved.

According to Justice Department standards, "requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence," and they are generally not granted to those appealing their convictions. Cooperation with prosecutors is usually considered a factor in granting such requests.

With just minor exceptions, Ms. Love said, "I can't think of a recent commutation that was granted before at least some prison time was served."

Posted by: Loomis | July 2, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I am going to give you the opportunity (sorry it's been done before) to make me look stupid.

Consistent with the PITGOAT theme of the Kit (I am actually using something in the Kit in my ramblings!); here is not only why I think Scooter's lengthy sentence gives Bush cover, but why I think it was wrong.

I am assuming the jury was 100% correct in determining Scooter committed perjury. Lied to a federal prosecutor. Bad, bad, bad.

Anytime, anyone on the right hand side of the aisle tries to invoke Bill Clinton by comparison and his "lack of truthfulness" eyeballs roll back into the other side's head. "Good gravy, the guy was just lying about a marital 'indiscretion.'" Nothing to do with the running of our nation. Geez, though, it was under oath in a deposition. (Please let's not fuss over what "is" means) I agree, however, that it was not worthy of impeachment.

Scooter Libby also lied. I know this Plame thing is complicated but am I not correct that it is likely he was protecting Angler, who did not need protecting because it was known that someone else (Armitage) had already leaked her identity. This isn't Watergate; nothing suggests that he was in on some grand conspiracy.

Rather, isn't it more likely that he just exhibited the, albeit wrong in this case but, often honorable trait of loyalty to his boss in a misguided effort to protect him?

(a) President lies under oath in deposition, doesn't have to leave office;

(b) VP chief of staff lies to prosecutor, under mistaken impression he has to cover for boss, sentenced to 2-1/2 years?

Can't buy it.

Posted by: bill everything | July 2, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

But bill e., I think Clinton should have resigned. But just because he got *away* with it, that means nobody should go down for lying to federal prosecutors?

Posted by: Kim | July 2, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Heading to bed. Do want to point out that I did not intend my reference to PITGOATs to imply that I think any posted comments expressing outrage at the commutation suffered from that; just making the usual sarcastic self-depricating comment.

Posted by: bill everything | July 2, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Kim - I also never meant to imply that I was somehow applauding the pardon/commutation/benediction/whatever it was. I was merely making the observation that I could sleep at night without additional terror brought on by the knowledge that Scooter is roaming free. Somehow, I suspect that I (and the Republic) will survive. There are many more dangerous folks who've been set free, who I'm pretty sure that we'll be hearing from again.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Kim, saw your post. No. Clinton should not have resigned. If it had been his first term, the voters could, and maybe should, have thrown him out on his heinie in the next election as being untrustworthy.

Impeachment, unless we want to move to another political model, should be reserved for the most serious matters like Watergate that threaten the integrity of our political system. He lied under oath but it did not seriously affect our political system. (I suppose if you showed me a study that showed that perjury became rampant after Clinton lied then I might be convinced otherwise). To expect him to have resigned because he felt bad about lying is not politically realistic.

Rather, my point is that, given the relative results of significant fabrications by both parties, I thought the trial judge imputed bad intent on Libby when it may be that he stumbled and erred, succumbing to a natural human emotion. We will never know, but he perjured himself to protect someone who we have no knowledge committed any crime.

Yeah, I know the administration is evil but, PITGOATs now!

Posted by: bill everything | July 2, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I think we officially became a banana republic during the 2000 election, Brooks Bros. riot and all, so I guess it doesn't make much difference now.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 2, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

And while I know that she's already gone to bed, and I also know that she probably didn't intend to get into a long discussion about jail conditions, I'll leave this for Cassandra to consider:

The fact that they're stacking them up in the aisles in your town is the norm, not the exception. Even AFTER doing that, most jurisdictions find that most convictions result in no (or very little) additional jail time, because they have to reserve the space for the most dangerous offenders. Not only do I have some sympathy for Paris Hilton (not much, but a touch. Her distress was real, I think.) but I've got quite a bit for the sheriff, who has to consider the additional time, money, and space that housing a famous non-violent offender will cost. From the point of view of serving the greater good of the community, I strongly suspect that he made the correct decision by sending her silly ass home.

I'll consider myself corrected when Pac-Man Jones admits (and demonstrates) that he's mended his ways because he was moved by the tribulations suffered by Paris Hilton.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it doesn't need to be a hard-case like P-man Jones. If and when any previously-convicted criminal publicly admits that they've changed their habits because of the terrible punishment meted out to Paris Hilton, then I will consider that the sheriff's decision was definitely wrong, and society was definitely served better by the whole in-and-out-and-in-and-out circus.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

OK, OK, even that last bit was tongue-in-cheek. Actually, I DO think that society was served well by the judge forcefully pointing out to the sheriff that changes to sentencing decisions are not to be made without consulting the judge, even (and perhaps most especially) when the cons are non-violent, well-known, expensive-to-maintain pains in the ass.

Posted by: Bob S. | July 2, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Patrick Fitzgerald's reaction to Bush's "excessive" reasoning:

"We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as "excessive." The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing."

I like Patrick Fitzgerald (even though I hear he's a Republican!). Wonder how Judy Miller feels about this?

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 2, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I wholeheartedly agree that the judge was operating within the applicable sentencing guidelines, and had every reason to feel that no attempt at unusual leniency would be justified or applauded.

Still, Scooter Libby's incarceration (or lack thereof) distresses me very little. It's quite possible that I'll eventually be brought to justice for past matters that will result in more jail time than he was facing.

(Hmm... it may be time to change my boodlename...)

Posted by: Bob S. | July 3, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

As a spokesman for a previous 'boodler who may have revealed more than was intended, I've been asked to pass on to you that he/she/it/they have had sufficient excitement tonight. Konbanwa & Sayonara!

Posted by: Don F. | July 3, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Linda: thank you for the reference. Perkins appears to be a shaman clutching at the straws clutched by others. Suggesting that Toynbee envisioned a Christian:Muslim confrontation through a he said-they said-he said citation is a specious kind of reportage and a simplistic distortion of what Toynbee actually said in too, too many words. From a casual perspective I suspect that Perkins in a PITGOAT at the trough of conspiracy marketing. Indirectly reducing Toynbee to an unsubstantiated soundbite is evidence of shallow thinking Your reference to Perkins' condensation of the crusades in on point and perceptive.

Toynbee's own words say it best:

"...this book differs widely from the original version in the ten volumes published between 1934 and 1954, and, for the same reasons, the present version in its turn is bound to be put out of date by the continuing flow of events and increase of knowledge. Neither history nor any other human activity can be definitive so long as the human race continues to exist. This book will have served its purpose if it helps its readers to take a comprehensive view of the formidable but fascinating flux of human affairs."

-Arnold Toynbee, June 1972
Foreword, A Study of History

On a personal note, I dusted off my old copy of Toynbee to research your inquiry, but much prefer the readability of my Durant volumes and the condensation of Wells' "Outline" to the tedious erudition of Toynbee.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 3, 2007 3:58 AM | Report abuse

bill everything ... you needed some serious sleep when you wrote that. I refer you to Tim's comments, among them, the ability to tell what is important and what is unimportant. You also compared this Scooter and Rove issue (we now know that he was also involved and about to be indicted) to Watergate and poo-poo'ed this affair as being trivial.

My goodness, bill, do you know what Watergate was all about????? Compare that to what the lies and obstruction was all about in the Scooter/Rove/Cheney et al was about.

Finally, go to and watch what David Schuster says to Tucker Carlson (who's own father was on Scooter's defense team) when the oft (as also by you) stated error in fact that Scooter wasn't directly involved in the leak was stated by Tucker.

bill, listen carefully... Schuster states what has been uncovered, but not totally exposed in the trial... Cheney was directing this whole thing.

And finally, to Tim's point on a different subject, the reason that this all took place was a battle over the truth about the foundation arguments for a war that has cost possibly upwards of 2 to 300,000 lives, maybe more.

Bill, if you don't think that anyone should go to jail over this, that really (and I mean it) is fine by me. BUT, what I hate to see is anyone of us Americans be so diluded to not know what has happened to this country and, indeed, to the stability of the world and the well-being of its inhabitants.

To quote Bush 41 who was head of the CIA: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."

But there was this ...

Updated: 8:24 a.m. ET July 19, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration." His statement represented a shift from a previous comment, when he said that he would fire anyone shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of a CIA officer.

Bill, in a town where the standing joke is that "Giuliani has been married more times that Romney has gone hunting," you can't really be serious that you think that Clinon's "IT" problem compares in any way to making a personal attack on someone who was trying to set the record straight, first through face-to-face meetings with the principles and then in a public forum.

Posted by: Casper | July 3, 2007 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Morning, friends. Up and haven't had the coffee yet. It's on the way.

Bob S, got your comment. I can't add a thing to it. I will leave it as I found it. I slept pretty good, hope you did too.

I wonder what kind of breaking news will we get today. Yesterday's news was Scooter, what will the day bring? Do we have any more sentences to commute?

You know a population can absorb only so many blackeyes to justice, and then things start to get dicey. I wonder if we are any where near that threshold?

Morning, Mudge, Slyness, and where are you Scotty? What's up, every one? *waving*

The g-girl is still knocked out. That's good. When she gets up, all bets are off.

Talk to my dad last night on the phone, he's good.

Well have to get started on the day. Time to hit the shower. Hope your day is good, my friends.

I'm pretty sure some folks are counting down the days until the election, I'm not. I cannot remember a Republican administration where I did not hold my breath until they were out of office. I mean it's just that way. You never know what will happen next, and so much of knowing is not good. It certainly keeps one praying, and that is always good. And the reason I'm not counting, it just seems to make it worse. One gets hung up on the numbers. They don't move fast enough. I wonder if there is someone else in this country that feels that way. I'm slightly ashamed, but it is what it is.

Do you think there was any doubt for the President about commuting Scooter's sentence? I mean just a little bit? And this morning, is he thinking about it at all? Will it interfere with that breakfast he's eating or the coffee he's drinking. Is it still front and center, or has he pushed it in the back? Does he talk about it, justifying his action? I wonder how does he feel this morning in his body, his spirit? Did he pray over it? Is it a feel good decision? Will Scooter call the President and thank him? Will Scooter think the President is his guardian angel? Is there someone that can ask the President some of these questions?

Got to go.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. Peace.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 3, 2007 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Elitist? If I don't get accused of elitism once a year or so, I need to open my mouth more often. If "elite" means I think people who can read think better than people who WON'T read, okay, I'm an elitist, what am I supposed to do with the accusation, cry? Boo, hoo. I am an elitist.

Posted by: Jumper | July 3, 2007 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, are you looking for something from the Just Us Dept? As someone pointed out publicly, you can get 5 years for copying a DVD.

Posted by: Casper | July 3, 2007 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Morning Cassandra, everyone! *catchup Grover waves*

All I can say about commuting is that the only way that word should be associated with Scooter involves a honest day's work (which is probably a foreign concept to him anyway).


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! Scooter's commutation reminds that we all have special interests even if we don't deserve to be tarred wtih the "special interest group" label. Mr. F is most disgusted with the cavalier attitude toward classified information that is leading to the "it's classified if I say it is, it's declassified if it suits my political purposes" bent of the prez and VP. In a profession where careers can end abruptly over an office safe being left open overnight, he observes that if they had to be vetted through the normal process, no one in the white house would continue to hold a top secret clearance.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 3, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey, frostbitten! Nice to hear that from Mr. F...

That was my point above. sort of. Much of Watergate had to do with Nixon's keen interest in finding leakers within the government. This current administration, as Mr. F points out, uses (or used) their information as if they could play it like cards in the PR hand.

Posted by: Casper | July 3, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Casper-after years of seeing real progress toward things being classified only as much as needed for national security, it is sad to see the bad old days of classification to hide embarrassment or make political gains return.

Beverly Sills died, sigh. I'm not much of an opera fan, but what I do know and enjoy is all because of her.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 3, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, all. I'm laughing my butt off at the lede story about how poor Arbusto made that lonely decision to commute Scooter's sentence pretty much by his lonesome, and without consulting the Justice Dept./Gonzo. I can see poor George in my mind's eye as he tosses and turns during sleepless nights as he wrestles with the decision, up in the wee hours pacing the darkened halls of the White House as he ponders what to do (rumors that Secret Service agents saw him "skipping," and actually heard him giggling have been vigorously denied), bereft as he was of the wise legal counsel of his close friend and the nation's chief law enforcement officer. Also vigorously denied was the rumor that Bush asked Gonzalez what to do, but Gonzalez, incorrectly believing that he might be under oath, claimed he never heard of Scooter Libby and had nothing to do with his conviction, whoever he was. The WH also denied that Gonzalez later changed his mind and said yes, he was aware of who Scooter Libby was (in a very generic sort of way), but that his aides handled the conviction, and would be reprimanded accordingly. "No, no," that's not the issue," Bush denied saying. "I want to know whether I should pardon him or commute his sentence." "Jeezy-peezy, beats the hell out of me, boss," Gonzalez denied replying. "You know all that stuff makes my head hurt. But they say commuting saves gas and parking costs are outa sight in this town, so if he wants to commute go ahead and let him." White House aides denied Bush walked away from the encounter with renewed respect for the Attorney General.

In other news, Vice President Dick Cheney today accidentally shot...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

...Beverly Sills.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 3, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

If only she'd lived another 90,132 years. Then the obit could have said, "Beverly Sills, 90210".

But that's a *really* long way to go for a pun.

Posted by: byoolin | July 3, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Beverly Sills should have a long and loving obit in the NY Times, not to mention the Post. She was very, very busy until she staged an orderly withdrawal from her public life, not long ago.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 3, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

was that Borowitz impersonating Curmudgeon???

Well done mudge.

Let the Dog Days begin, might as well get em over with

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Here you are DoC


Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and bh is absolutely correct in that the Germans simply went around. Through Belgium and the Netherlands. The Maginot Line did not fail; it did exactly what it was designed to do: Protect the eastern border, forcing any invading force to face its amassed army on the Belgian border. Unfortunately the German army was superior to the French in every way.

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm not done boodle-hogging yet, for Maggie O'D

From left to right, Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, and Fearless Leader.

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

And for the record, if memory serves, it was Boris who said 'Moose and Squirrel'. Natasha's main catchphrase was dollink (darling in a thick Pottsylvanian accent (mock Russian))

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse


Had to shout that one, as he's all the way down South in Florida. Ya think he heard me.

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Six posts in a row (now seven?) barely keeping the boodle alive. Someone help me out here. Ask me a question, I know everytink

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

The dog days, omni? Siriusly?

Posted by: Shiloh | July 3, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Mudge writes:
the lede story about how poor Arbusto made that lonely decision to commute Scooter's sentence pretty much by his lonesome

NYT reports last night/today:
Mr. Libby had close allies in the White House. The president's new counselor, Ed Gillespie [who replaced former inner circle counselor Dan Bartlett], who started at the White House just four days ago, played a role in Mr. Libby's legal defense fund. Asked if he had spoken to Mr. Bush personally about Mr. Libby, he said, "I'm not going to go into any internal discussions."

Also feel that I should clarify this on the Boodle since I mentioned yesterday the early reporting by the NYT of the latest car bombs in London and Glasgow Airport incident that alleged one of the leaders of these attacks was a Kurdish Iraqi. From today's NYT:

Contrary to earlier reports identifying him as an Iranian Kurd, Dr. Mohammed Asha was said by a Jordanian official to be a Jordanian of Palestinian descent.

Law enforcement officials in the United States and Britain said Monday that intelligence agencies investigating the failed attacks had so far discovered no direct link to personnel of Al Qaeda or training camps. [although I keep hearing television reporting that mentions the al Qaeda link, especially local reporting. Lizard brain newsreaders, these local anchor people. "Officials don't yet know what individuals or group(s) may be behind these attacks" would be a better bit of reporting.]

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday that "the nature of the threat that we are dealing with is Al Qaeda and people who are related to Al Qaeda."

But a British security official who spoke on condition of anonymity under government rules said that Mr. Brown, in office for only days, was probably "describing the ideology" of Islamic fundamentalism and that it was "far too early" to speak of a direct link to Qaeda personnel.

Posted by: Loomis | July 3, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

>And for the record, if memory serves, it was Boris who said 'Moose and Squirrel'.

omni, I believe Natasha said it more than once also. But please don't make me load up the LaserDisc version to verify that.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 3, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

After wasting hours on end laughing at misheard lyrics, I clicked on the news tab and sobered up. I am so angry!!! I couldn't even post anything last night.

In the fall of 2004, I emailed my rabbi with a question. Should I ask forgiveness on Yom Kipur for wishing someone dead, not wishing to kill, but hoping for a fulminating heart attack. One death could save thousands of soldiers, maybe.

During naturalization proceedings, under oath, I answered that I had never advocated the overthrow of the government, and I never would. But wishing someone dead is not overthrowing the government. The government would go on. Then my rabbi pointed out who'd be in charge if my wish came true. His suggestion was to turn my anger into action and work at a local level to drive global change. I can't work any harder at it, and I'm not seeing any change, local or otherwise. This is very disheartening.

Sorry for rambling on so.

Now I'll go check the Bush countdown clock...

Posted by: a bea c | July 3, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 rubles."

This mangling of a line of dialogue from a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" episode, involving a football game and a portable record player, courtesy of the cavernous, echoinng expanse of trivia between my ears.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

One of the things I find scary about the commutation of Scooter's sentence is that I am sure Bush feels he is doing the right thing. This is a subtlety that I think is sometimes lost. I honestly believe that in this, and nearly all the decisions he has made, he is acting in good conscience. I do not think he is secretly cackling over his nastiness. And I think this explains his lack of professed doubt. For who among us expresses doubt over actions that we know in our hearts to be righteous?

Before you descend, let me stress that I think that nearly every significant decision Bush has made has been tragically wrong. But I honestly believe he does not think this. He isn't being disingenuous and deceitful, I think he really believes that what he has done is the best thing for America. At least as he defines it.

And to me this is what is so troubling and scary. We like to think that our villains are aware of their villainy. For vengeful wrath against sinners mandates that the sinners are aware of their evil. That is, to me evil is defined as knowingly turning aware from that which is right. But what if someone is not aware? What if someone is just tragically and horribly wrong? Do we still string that person up?

And, even more troubling, if people of good conscience can still see the world in a way that seems so mistaken, and not be aware of the fact, what guarantee do we have that we are not mistaken? That what *our* gut (or heart) tells is the truth?

The answer, of course, is to follow the advice on critical thinking contained in Joel's blog. Which, to come full circle before heading out to the beach, is why I think this particular piece is one of the most important things he has ever written.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 3, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

You're probably right Error, I do remember they shared a lot of their catchphrases, such as: 'Shuddup you mouth'.

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

RD, I hadn't thought about that. It also explains those who vote for Bush, that 20% or so of the population who still think he's doing a good job. They probably share that point of view.

Or they are incredibly stupid.

Posted by: a bea c | July 3, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

>What if someone is just tragically and horribly wrong? Do we still string that person up?

Depends on local customs. Some places still prefer firing squad.

We had no problem stringing up Saddam Hussein. How do we know he didn't feel the same way about his actions?

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 3, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

EF has a GREAT point. How many other heads of state has the US taken out without considering their point of view? I can come up with a few examples. Heck, even Hitler thought he was doing the world a big favor. Maybe there is a mental health factor involved.

Posted by: a bea c | July 3, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

This kit has me stuck on a fractured tune cootie, with apologies to John Lennon: "All we are saying, is give doubt a chance." I envision it as the theme song for the global warming naysayers watching the 07/07/07 Live Earth concert broadcast.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 3, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

This is the place to cue the comment about the banality of evil. While some villains are instantly recognizable, most evil people look and act pretty much normally. You gotta get into the actions to see the evil.

Posted by: Slyness | July 3, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

June Foray

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Joel can undo the cootie damage by heralding the concert with a "give earth a chance" kit.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 3, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

RD... I see your point and I agree somewhat. But I do think that some of the more self-serving decisions Bush has made he's made knowing they were wrong, but justified them by either skirting the law or only following the letter of the law, not the meaning behind it.

A lot of his friends have made a LOT of money through his policies.

Or else he's just plain stupid enough to believe the people around him are are serving THEIR own interests when they advise him that something is OK to do--or right to do.

Then I think he shoves it to the back of his brain and forgets about it.

My dad used to say a man who sleeps well at night must have a clean conscience. My sister used to counter with, "or a poor memory."

Posted by: TBG | July 3, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh, my darlin;, oh, my darlin'; oh, my darlin'...

Bush's refrain:

Oh my Scooter, oh my Scooter,
Oh my Scooter, leniency?
You be lost and gone forever (well, 30 months),
Dreadful sorry y'all, clemency.

Cheney's stanza:

I'm so lonely, lost without him,
Wish I'd had a fishing line,
Which I might have cast about him,
Bush bit the hook, Scooter's now fine.

Fitzgerald's concluding bars:

Listen, fellers--and gals, heed the warning
Of this tragic tale of mine,
Hours of meticulous prosecution,
Libby shoulda served *some* jail time.

He was a stonewaller, a stonewaller
on the stand, this crafty Libby guy.
Bush caved to his right-wing base:
Scooter waves ol' Sing-Sing "bye-bye."

Posted by: Loomis | July 3, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Lovely, Loomis, and Mudge too.

I agree with RD that Bush sincerely believes his actions are correct, and that he is mistaken.

I am not at all surprised that Bush chose to commute Libby's sentence after learning he had to report to prison. It is a canny political move, in that Libby stays out of prison but his conviction is intact -- FOR NOW. I absolutely believe that, assuming Libby loses his appeal, Bush will grant him a full pardon before he leaves office. This would restore Libby's law license, assuming he still needs it.

And by the way, state and federal prison overcrowding aside, most people would and do go to jail, even if only briefly. The greatest overcrowding is in the state system, which continues nationwide to find room for increasing numbers of felons. Most community sentencing options are reserved for less important felons -- the ones who commit crimes garnering prison sentences tend to go there. Also, even with electronic monitoring and community sentencing, many people serve at least a small amount of jail time. The feds, comparatively speaking, have more room and there would be no problem finding a bed for Libby.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 3, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Yes Shiloh, Siriusly:

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

NEW KIT!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 3, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, there's a new kit

Posted by: omni | July 3, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I'm not clear why Richard Dawkins is classed as a pitgoat, he's really an ultra-skeptic.

Posted by: RichardB | September 3, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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