A Big Cigar

Congratulations to my brother and his beautiful wife on the birth today of their baby.

Back To the Bubble

Reporters Edward Walsh and Jeff Mapes in the Oregonian, just after the 2004 general election, in a font-page article (no longer available for free online) called “Voting In a Bubble”:

[subhed and the first line to the story]

Multnomah County has become an island of liberal Democrats that is quickly drifting away from the rest of the state and nation

The political gap between Multnomah County and the rest of Oregon has never been greater than it was in Tuesday’s election.

Mapes and Jeff Kosseff today on Sen. Gordon Smith’s voting record:

Though Smith votes in support of most Republican policies, his occasional swings to the Democratic side are tolerated by the Republican establishment, which understands Oregon’s increasingly Democratic voting pattern.

What is it we’re drifting away from again? The pat answer will be that 2004’s “island of liberal Democrats” is driving the 2007’s “increasingly Democratic voting pattern,” but one of the conclusions of the 2004 article was that the Democratic party was “still searching for a way to expand beyond its increasingly urban base.” Gordon Smith’s been doing his fence-straddling act for a long time now, not just the past seven months.

My own analysis at the time was a bit different, and I had my own maps showing county-by-county voting average deviations from state and national election results and a vote-weighted map of Oregon county deviations from state averages. Plus a couple of other posts at the time, about the arbitrary nature of county boundaries being used to analyze voting patterns and about an assertion that the ratio of urban and rural voters in Multnomah County has been constant for decades.

The other touch I liked in today’s article was the mention of Smith’s drawing “national attention” for calling John Kerry French-looking in calls he did for the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 (he also called Kerry a “socialist”). That was particularly funny because — as I pointed out in an August 2004 post titled “If it Matters to Oregonians, It’s in the LA Times” — that fact didn’t appear in the Oregonian until after it got national attention. Harry Esteve and Edward Walsh’s mention of the call in an article only noted that Smith participated in the call, not that he was saying “It’s not John Kerry’s fault that he looks French.” That item was reported by The Los Angeles Times because:

Some Republicans have referred jokingly to Kerry’s ability to speak French and his physical appearance, but rarely has the reference found its way onto the campaign trail.

Maybe it was unremarkable to Esteve and Walsh. Maybe their editors cut it.

It’s been almost three years since I sent a letter to Sen. Smith asking him to apologize to Franco-Americans like myself for his remarks about “looking French”. Never got an answer.


In response to a comment by Hillary Clinton’s communications director Howard Wolfson, Atrios said that “it’s wrong to suggest that, you know, most people thought that war wasn’t inevitable”, then points to Pollster.com, where the video of Wolfson is juxtaposed with data from November 2002 showing that 58% of the sample through that Bush had already decided to invade Iraq.

That should hardly have been news to anyone who presumably was paying attention to the situation, as you might expect a United States Senator to do.

I know everyone likes to laugh at Dennis Kucinich because he’s funny-looking, has a wife half his age and a foot taller, and sang “Sixteen Tons” on camera, but boy would I like to be able to go back into the record of one of the current crop of “serious” candidates for the Democratic nomination and find pre-Iraq statement like this one:

Kucinich: Time For Administration To Show its Evidence

Washington, Dec 19, 2002 – It is time for the Administration to end its war rhetoric and present evidence to justify their claims that Iraq has usable weapons of mass destruction, stated Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today.

Kucinich, Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations issued the following statement:

“Thus far, the Administration has failed to show any evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs to the U.S. Congress, to the inspectors at the United Nations (UN), or to the American people.
“Any information the Administration has that counters the Iraqi disclosure should be provided to the United Nations immediately. Iraq has made its disclosure and now is the appropriate time for the Administration to present its evidence.

“Any intelligence information that the Administration may have can only assist the United Nation Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in filling the ‘gaps and omissions’ that the Administration claims are in the Iraqi report to the UN. In doing so, the Administration can only assist the UN weapons inspectors disarm Iraq, which it claims it is committed to doing.

“If the Administration plans to preempt the UN weapons inspections process, and begin a war early next year, as recent news reports have indicated, then they owe it to the UN and the American people to present evidence to justify a war. Despite their recent increase in rhetoric and ‘war talk’, the fact remains that to this date they have not provided evidence for a war.”

Or this:

Kucinich: New Intelligence Reports Raises Substantial Questions Helps Growing Opposition To War In House

Washington, Oct 9, 2002 – A CIA letter, released yesterday, has raised serious and substantial questions about the rush to war Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) said, today, at a press conference. The letter, sent by CIA Director Tenet on Tuesday, states that unprovoked by the US, Iraq is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against the United States.

“With less than twenty-four to go before the vote, this report raises substantial questions,” stated Kucinich. “Less than twenty-four hours after the president addressed the nation, on Monday, the CIA communicated to the Senate information which is directly contradictory. You have to wonder whether the President is getting all the information he needs from his advisors.”

Yesterday, Kucinich, who has been leading opposition to the war in the House, released a whip count that stated that 100 Members of Congress will vote against the war resolution.

“These contradictions have raised questions in the minds of Members of Congress and stopped the momentum which the Administration has tried to build,” continued Kucinich. “I believe today, in light of these new findings, the number opposed to war will grow.”

Or this:

Statement of Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich on War Resolution

Washington, Oct 3, 2002 – This resolution gives authority to the President to act prior to and even without a UN resolution, and it authorizes the President to use US troops to enforce UN resolutions even without UN request for it. This is a violation of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which reserves the ability to authorize force for that purpose to the Security Council, alone.

This resolution is the same authorization that the President originally sought. Many members of Congress in both parties objected to previous language, which is still present in this resolution.

Further, the UN resolutions, which could be cited by the President to justify sending US troops to Iraq, go far beyond addressing weapons of mass destruction. These could include, at the President’s discretion, such “relevant” resolutions “regarding Iraq” including resolutions to enforce human rights and the recovery of Kuwaiti property.

While these changes are represented as a compromise or a new material development, the effects of this resolution are largely the same as the previous White House proposal.

In conclusion, this resolution does not represent a genuine multilateral approach to solving the conflict in Iraq. It authorizes a unilateral, go-it-alone military attack. Furthermore, it violates international law and U.S. obligations under the UN charter. Lastly, it does not put any reasonable limitations on the use of military force against Iraq. Rather, it gives the President broad discretion to send troops to Iraq.

Senator Clinton’s news release page for 2002 has nothing dealing with the Iraq AUMF.

Catapulting the Propaganda

From the Democratic CNN/YouTube presidential debates:

QUESTION: … would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

[HILLARY] CLINTON: Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.
I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse.

EDWARDS: Yes, and I think actually Senator Clinton’s right though. Before that meeting takes place, we need to do the work, the diplomacy, to make sure that that meeting’s not going to be used for propaganda purposes, will not be used to just beat down the United States of America in the world community.

The United States has the world’s largest media organizations: broadcast networks, cable networks, movie studios, magazines, and newspapers. And the Democratic candidates are worried about other countries winning some sort of propaganda war? Do they really consider the country so weak that someone else’s propaganda would outweigh facts? Any examples?

The Tell-Tale SWF

SWF. It seems simple enough to assume that it stands for “Shockwave Flash”, doesn’t it? Every now and then someone asks if it’s true, then someone else responds that it’s either “Small Web Format” or that it stands for nothing at all (what is the sound of s-w-f clapping?).

Recently, a discussion on the topic led to a question about whether other forms of Shockwave existed, like for xRes, Macromedia’s attempt at a Photoshop killer back in the mid-90s (you used to get a copy with every box of Director!) The answer, as I’ve said before, is “yes”.

There was an xRes server. It used the pyramidal storage scheme for the xRes image files to deliver cropped online multi-resolution images. You could specify the display image size, level of magnification, center of focus, etc., sort of like what Mapquest and Google Maps do with their aerial views.

Here’s Macrobe’s tech note:

Shockwave –

New Shockwave support enables users to dynamically publish and view streamed hi-res images on the Web without having to download the entire file. Web surfers can pan and zoom into embedded hi-resolution images for greater detail and interactivity.

As for whether SWF actually stands for “Shockwave Flash”, again I turn to the source, in the instructions for installing the Flash 9 plugin on Solaris (my emphasis):

4. Verify the installation by typing about:plugins in the location bar or by choosing Help > About Plugins. You should see Adobe Flash Player listed as “Shockwave Flash 9.0 “

Then take a look at a function from the AC_RunActiveContent.js file generated by Adobe Flash CS3, aka Flash 9, used to embed SWF files in pages and get around the EOLAS patent (and released just a couple of months ago):

function AC_FL_RunContent(){
    var ret = AC_GetArgs ( arguments, “.swf”, “movie”, “clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000”, “application/x-shockwave-flash”);
    AC_Generateobj(ret.objAttrs, ret.params, ret.embedAttrs);

This kind of thing can’t be dismissed as the persistent fallout of a decade-old marketing goof. Macromedia couldn’t (and now Adobe can’t) get rid of these types of references because they’re associated in operating systems with the SWF file extension (Mac OS X identifies the “Kind” of a SWF as “Shockwave Flash Movie”). Take it from the author of the Macromedia Press book on Flash 2 (that was me), it was in the technical specs of things as basic as the MIME type. It’s still in the technical specs because they can’t be modified without causing more trouble than it’s worth. The marketing people might have done their best to kill “Shockwave Flash”, but you can still hear its heart beating, beating under the floorboards.

You’d Like to Think So But It Doesn’t Always Work Out That Way

What they do is when there’s a bomb goes down, they grab some children and some women and pretend that the bomb hit the women and the children. And it seems to me that it’s up to all of us to try to tell the truth, to say what we know, to say what we don’t know, and recognize that we’re dealing with people that are perfectly willing to lie to the world to attempt to further their case. And to the extent people lie, ultimately, they are caught lying and they lose their credibility, and one would think it wouldn’t take very long for that to happen dealing with people like this.

The documentary Control Room used clips of this press “stakeout” of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld talking about civilian casualties during war. I happened to look it up and was sort of surprised to see that it was from 29 October 2001, and referred to Afghanistan, not Iraq. Sometimes it’s helpful to look back and verify just how far back the lying started; that’s just a month and a half after 9/11.

President Precedent

From the CNN/YouTube debates:

QUESTION: … This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton. The Arab states, Muslim nations, believe it’s women as being second-class citizens. If you’re president of the United States, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks, negotiations, or any other diplomatic relations? I feel that is a legitimate question.

CLINTON: … You know, when I was first lady, I was privileged to represent our country in 82 countries. I have met with many officials in Arabic and Muslim countries. I have met with kings and presidents and prime ministers and sheiks and tribal leaders.

And certainly, in the last years during my time in the Senate, I have had many high-level meetings with presidents and prime ministers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and many other countries.

I believe that other countries have had women presidents and women prime ministers. There are several serving now — in Germany, in Chile, in Liberia and elsewhere — and I have noticed that their compatriots on the world stage certainly take them seriously.

I’m not a Hillary fan, but she might have pointed out that two of the most prominent majority-Muslim countries — Indonesia and Pakistan — have already elected female heads of state (Megawati Sukarnoputri and Benazir Bhutto, respectively). Then again, given the charges of corruption in Bhutto’s case and the fact that both of them were the daughters of former heads of state, maybe not.

Say Hello to the Gravelcam


At least a couple of times during the few minutes allotted to former senator Mike Gravel during the CNN/YouTube debates this evening, a camera to his left pulled in tight for a cropped shot of him in mid-harangue.

I may just have missed it, but I don’t remember seeing any of the other candidates treated to the same kind of “up close and personal” shot where their face fills the screen in the same manner. I don’t expect (or want) Gravel to get the nomination, but I don’t think the networks should be singling out one candidate for a specific “effect”. Use the same camera angles for everyone. If one of them is going to be shown in an unflattering close-up, they all ought to be subjected to the same scrutiny.