Friday, June 30, 2006
A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact misleading, since the argument actually presented by the opponent has not been refuted.
President George W. Bush accused some Democrats on Wednesday of wanting to "wave the white flag of surrender" on Iraq, and vowed that American forces would stay until the mission was complete.
Speaking just over four months before an election in which Democrats hope to wrest control of Congress from Bush's Republicans, the president took a swipe at those Democrats who are pushing for a timetable for troop withdrawal.
Increasing public disapproval of the Iraq war, in which over 2,500 U.S. military personnel have died, has contributed to low popularity ratings for Bush.
"We will complete the mission and I will make my judgments as to the troop levels necessary to achieve victory, not based upon political polls or focus groups, but based upon the measured judgment of our commanders on the ground," Bush said at a fund-raiser for Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri.
"Make no mistake about it, there is a group in the opposition party who are willing to retreat before the mission is done," Bush said. "They are willing to wave the white flag of surrender and if they succeed the United States will be worse off, and the world will be worse off."
Thursday, June 29, 2006
A fractured Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states are free to redraw congressional districts at a time of their choosing, largely blessing Tom DeLay's bitterly contested handiwork in Texas and the gains it gave national Republicans.
With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy playing the role of majority maker, the court ruled the 2003 Texas plan violated the rights of Hispanics in the area around Laredo and ordered a lower court to review that part of the case.
But the justices imposed no timetable, and it was not clear whether Democrats would be able to win any changes in the Republican-drafted plan before the November elections.
Additionally, the justices rejected a claim that Texas Republicans had violated the rights of black voters by breaking up a congressional district in the area around Fort Worth.
And they ruled more broadly that the Constitution does not bar states from redrawing political lines when one party or the other senses an advantage.
``With respect to a mid-decade redistricting to change districts drawn earlier in conformance with a decennial census, the Constitution and Congress state no explicit prohibition,'' Kennedy wrote.
The question that will ultimately be asked is not whether the Times did the right thing in revealing to the American people the details of Bush-authorized spying programs--by any measure, the newspaper was right to do what it did and history will provide more than enough vindication.
The ultimate question is this: When the White House, its allies in Congress and its echo chamber in the right-wing media attempted to intimidate mainstream outlets into keeping secret the details of invasions of privacy authrorized by an out-of-control executive branch, did responsible members of Congress move to check and balance and irresponsible president?
Monday, June 26, 2006
I am George Walker Bush, son of the former president of the United States of America, George Herbert Walker Bush, and currently serving as President of the United States of America. This letter might surprise you because we have not met neither in person nor by correspondence. I came to know of you in my search for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential business transaction, which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money to an account requiring maximum confidence.
I am writing you in absolute confidence primarily to seek your assistance in acquiring oil funds that are presently trapped in the Republic of Iraq. My partners and I solicit your assistance in completing a transaction begun by my father, who has long been actively engaged in the extraction of petroleum in the United States of America, and bravely served his country as Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
In the decade of the nineteen-eighties, my father, then Vice President of the United States of America, sought to work with the good offices of the President of the Republic of Iraq to regain lost oil revenue sources in the neighboring Islamic Republic of Iran. This unsuccessful venture was soon followed by a falling-out with his Iraqi partner, who sought to acquire additional oil revenue sources in the neighboring Emirate of Kuwait, a wholly-owned U.S.-British subsidiary.
My father re-secured the petroleum assets of Kuwait in 1991 at a cost of sixty-one billion U.S. dollars ($61,000,000,000). Out of that cost, thirty-six billion dollars ($36,000,000,000) were supplied by his partners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies, and sixteen billion dollars ($16,000,000,000) by German and Japanese partners. But my father's former Iraqi business partner remained in control of the Republic of Iraq and its petroleum reserves.
My family is calling for your urgent assistance in funding the removal of the President of the Republic of Iraq and acquiring the petroleum assets of his country, as compensation for the costs of removing him from power.
Unfortunately, our partners from 1991 are not willing to shoulder the burden of this new venture, which in its upcoming phase may cost the sum of 100 billion to 200 billion dollars ($100,000,000,000 - $200,000,000,000), both in the initial acquisition and in long-term management.
Without the funds from our 1991 partners, we would not be able to acquire the oil revenue trapped within Iraq. That is why my family and our colleagues are urgently seeking your gracious assistance. Our distinguished colleagues in this business transaction, include the sitting Vice President of the United States of America, Richard Cheney, who is an original partner in the Iraq venture as the former head of Halliburton company, and Condoleeza Rice, whose professional dedication to the venture was demonstrated in the naming of a Chevron oil tanker after her.
I would beseech you to transfer a sum equaling ten to twenty-five percent (10-25%) of your yearly income to our account to aid in this important venture. The Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America will function as our trusted intermediary. I propose that you make this transfer annualy, before the fifteenth (15th) of the month of April.
I know that a transaction of this magnitude would make anyone apprehensive and worried. But I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. A bold step taken shall not be regretted, I assure you. Please do be informed that this business transaction is 100% legal. If you do not wish to cooperate in this transaction, please contact our intermediary representatives to further discuss the matter. I pray that you understand our plight. My family and our colleagues will be forever grateful. Please reply in strict confidence to the contact numbers below.
Sincerely with warm regards,
George Walker Bush
Thursday, June 22, 2006
As Donald Kennedy, editor in chief of Science magazine, said of the subject: "Consensus as strong as the one that has developed around this topic is rare in science." Global warming is real. It is happening beyond the explanation of natural cycles; it is happening because of human contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. We are heading into an era of unprecedented climate change, the effects of which will be unlike anything our civilization has ever seen.
A campaign of disinformation has befallen us, striving to discredit the science and to give the illusion that there is still serious disagreement among scientists about global warming. The Bush-Cheney administration has been the primary source.
As Senate Democrats debate two proposals regarding U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, news outlets have gone out of their way to frame the Democratic differences over how soon to redeploy forces as politically favorable for the Republicans.
For instance, ABCNews.com's The Note declared on June 21 that Democrats are purportedly "on the precipice of making Iraq a 2006 political winner for the Republican Party."
But if the media are right that Republicans stand to gain politically from this debate, it is only because the media have already pronounced them the winners, thereby helping to bring about the result that they are predicting.
If rather, the media discussed below were to simply report relevant information -- that the backers of the two Democratic proposals are united in their belief that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, that this position is shared by a majority of Americans, that the war supported by Republicans is deeply unpopular with the American public, and that the GOP's alternative plan appears to involve remaining in Iraq indefinitely, but no less than three years -- then their assessment of the political winners and losers in this debate would necessarily be very different.