Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Now Here's a Cheery Thought ...

Scientists speculate that the 'pregnant' San Andreas Fault could be ready to deliver.
Scary beauty surrounds Cameron Barrows. He works in lush groves of fan palms that erupt like mirages from moonscape terrain. Hot springs bubble beneath them. Sand dunes drift nearby.

"It's an amazing place," said Barrows, director of the Coachella Valley Preserve east of Palm Springs. The 20,000-acre sanctuary owes its splendors to the San Andreas fault, the frightening part of the bargain.

Many scientists say the Coachella Valley is where the 750-mile San Andreas seems most prone for an epic earthquake, a monster that would be enormously more powerful than the recent temblors in San Simeon, Calif., and Bam, Iran.


As the possible generator of the feared Big One, the San Andreas once dominated the quake worries of Californians. But that was before "subsidiary faults" in locales such as Loma Prieta and, especially, Northridge reordered popular anxieties. They flattened buildings and buckled interstates while the San Andreas remained relatively quiet, as it has since the great San Francisco quake of 1906.

Now, with the 10th anniversary of the Northridge temblor approaching, and after much study of those second-tier faults, scientists again are highlighting the San Andreas as the rupture without rival — a slumbering beast napping on borrowed time.

"The primary fault in California — the big dog — is the San Andreas, and it's important for people to remember that," said Doug Yule, a geologist at Cal State Northridge, which was badly damaged in the Jan. 17, 1994, disaster. "The San Andreas will produce the largest earthquakes."

Yule and his colleagues have dug trenches along the southern section of the fault to carbon-date its buried fissures in hopes of determining just how "pregnant" it is. Their best guess: The San Andreas, from the Salton Sea to San Bernardino, is at term.


The San Andreas last slipped in the region 191 years ago. That is 40 years beyond the average interval for the southern segment, based on estimates that stretch back 12 centuries.


The observatory — it's a widely cast installation of sensors, not a building — will collect data from points along the San Andreas and through the Cascadia subduction zone to Canada.

The subduction zone is where the North American and Juan de Fuca plates meet. Subduction quakes are vastly more violent — magnitude 9s are possible — but far less frequent than those on the San Andreas.

Such events occur in subduction zones once or twice every 1,000 years; the most recent on the Cascadia was in 1700.

Uhrhammer said the observatory would help scientists determine where the San Andreas might be lurching toward a 1906-strength quake.

He doesn't expect a repeat in the Bay Area anytime soon.

On the northern San Andreas, "it could well be another century or so before you get another 1906 event," Uhrhammer said.

The outlook is not as reassuring down south.

Yule, the Cal State Northridge geologist, has found evidence in his paleoseismic trench that a massive quake could be in store for the Coachella Valley — and north into San Bernardino and beyond.

But like all fault excavators, he notes, "We just don't know."



Peachy. So, does this equate to a yellow or an orange alert? On that note, have a happy and safe New Year. 'til next year ...

More on Airport Security

A second dead stowaway was found in wheel well of passenger jet at JFK airport. Two guys in one week! Two men, one believed to have 'boarded' in Nigeria and the other in Jamaica, separately thought that this was a good idea -scary. How does one even manage to get inside the wheel well of a jet? Let's hope it's considerably easier than I imagine, because they must have done it while the plane was sitting on the tarmac (at least there's been no indication in the reports thus far that these were maintenance/baggage handlers or otherwise employed by airline industry). Talk about security breaches - maybe someone was trying to board with a goldfish, keeping security personnel otherwise occupied.
Do You Feel Safe Yet?

First almanacs, now this. I pity you if you don't feel secure now.

I can see the headlines now: Terrorist Boards Plane While TSA Detains Fighting Fish.

Via
En Banc

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


So, Mick Jagger in now Sir Mick but Eric Clapton only gets a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)? What's up with that? Will he later be promoted to knight? [Honors are in descending order: knighthood, commander (CBE), officer (OBE) and member (MBE); only knighthood yields a title]

Different Ways to Spend $87 Billion

We could have purchased 87 of these. At least we could get some nice pictures out of the deal.

A difficult choice to be sure, but there's a straw poll over at Georgemustgo that asks the burning question ... Of all of the things the unelectable did this year, what pissed you off the most?

Economic Recovery

ABC News reported this evening that holiday sales increased by 5% over last year. The most significant changes were seen in large ticket items from high-end vendors. Hmmm. I guess the Bush Tax cut did work. I'm sure it will be tricklin' down at any time now.

There's Heinous and then ...


The 37-year-old Effie Goodson had tried to convince family and friends that she was going to have a baby. The best way to do that? Shoot a pregnant woman and slice the unborn child from her womb.
Goodson was detained by police on Dec. 23 after she brought a dead, six-month-old fetus to a hospital in Holdenville, in southeast Oklahoma, and claimed she was the mother.

Hospital authorities determined that Goodson did not give birth and called law enforcement officials, who then took her into custody, Hughes County Sheriff Houston Yeager said.

"She had a fetus with her claiming it belonged to her," said Yeager.
Goodson is suspected of killing Simpson with a gunshot in the head and then using a knife to remove the six-month-old fetus in Simpson's womb, police said.

Simpson's body was found last Friday by a hunter in a remote field about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

While we're on the topic of my skepticism, has anyone seen him lately? It would appear that he's being kept under wraps among the faithful. An re-election strategy? See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Evil Doesn't exist? Or do they think that absence will make the heart grow fonder and his approval ratings may improve with decreased exposure?

TooLittle. Too Late?

Heir Ashcroft steps aside.

Don't get too excited; he's only recusing himself from the Plame investigation. While somewhat late and certainly not the requested independent prosecutor, it's a step in the right direction which is more than can be said of any of his other moves. So, why is it that I find myself wondering about his motivations? Anyone?

If you haven't already...

Make sure you take the time to fill out the American Family Association's gay marriage poll. The AFA's home web site says they'll be presenting the results to Congress. Considering the fact that the poll seems to be getting away from them, we might want to send a few e-mails, too, asking them when they plan to honor that promise.

Update: By the way, why do all these "traditional values" people hate the traditional, American way of life?

Tony Perkins, who just recently became president of the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, said the formation of the coalition was mandated by the out-of-control actions of one group which is trying to legalize same-sex unions. He claims the push for homosexual marriage is not coming from the American people or from their elected representatives -- but from what he calls "the Black Plague."

"From the Pledge of Allegiance to the Ten Commandments to the Do-Not-Call campaign -- and now to the very institution of marriage -- un-elected judges in black robes are not only ruling against the wishes of the American people, they are overturning laws passed by the elected representatives of those people," Perkins said.

In other words, Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana congressman who once swore to "defend the Constitution," now thinks that a significant portion of it ought to be abolished. Namely, he's pissed about Article III, which reads, in part:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; -- to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; -- to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; -- to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; -- to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; -- between Citizens of different States; -- between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Apparently, the framers of the constitution left out the part where right wing, self-proclaimed defenders of morality get to veto the courts.

Monday, December 29, 2003



I was going to post rant about political polls today. I was gathering data from polls, both recent and historical. I was compiling information from Gallup, Harris and published articles on the importance of, and mechanisms for, obtaining a random sampling, as well as, locating studies on post-publication effects on public opinion. I stopped.

Perhaps, I would have made a convincing case that technology (in the form of callerID, etc.) restored an inherent bias in phone surveys (the inability to reach a random representative cross-section of potential voters) that had originally been the result of unlisted phone numbers.

Or maybe, I would have been able to make a case that, like news headlines, repetitious polls yield a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy with regard to public opinion. But as I said, that is what I was going to post.

It was a question of time and priorities and for today, both were spent on this ...

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has frequented this blog, that I am a Clark supporter. I could enumerate the many reasons why that's the case but you're not likely interested in my reasons (I mean, you don’t even know me why should you care what I think?) and others
(South Knox Bubba here, Mark A. R. Kleiman here and Andrew Sabl here) have done it more eloquently than I could, anyway.

Andrew Sabl’s piece is an essay that he wrote on how he “Became a Clark Supporter”. Unlike me, for whom Clark’s candidacy resulted in immediate euphoria, Mr. Sabl admits it was not a natural process for him. An excellent piece and perhaps a good place for skeptics to begin.

We all bring our own biases and priorities into our candidate selection and none of us will find that elusive candidate who agrees with our position 100% of the time. Positions are less important than the measure of the man himself, his character, his intelligence and how he got where he is today. No, I don't agree with all of the general's positions either but what is the significance in the context of electing a president?

For example, General Clark admits to having voted for Ronald Reagan. While I can’t conceive of a legitimate reason for doing so, I am willing to concede that, for a general, supporting a candidate that vows to increase defense spending does make sense. I also concede that, brace yourselves, I have voted for Republicans (albeit not for president at this juncture). So, he voted for Reagan and Bush Senior. Would my 'ideal' candidate have voted for those men? No, but I don't let that blind me to his other qualities, and I never lose sight of the end goal -electing a leader for our country. Too many lost sight in 2000.

Playwright (Angels in America)Tony Kushner reminds us of what this process is and isn't in this
interview, where he responds to the question of whether the Democratic Party can effectively oppose Bush:
I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies.

Money should be thrown at that candidate. And if Ralph Nader runs -- if the Green Party makes the terrible mistake of running a presidential candidate -- don't give him your vote. Listen, here's the thing about politics: It's not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.
Failing to ‘get this’ is, in large part, how we got Bush the last time. There are times to make a statement, and other times, when your statement (and more) will be lost. Ask Green Party supporters if they still believe Gore=Bush?

So, how much does it matter how Clark voted in previous elections? That he’s a recently registered-Democrat? To me -not at all. I never voted for Bill Clinton (no, I didn’t vote for Bush Senior or Dole. If you must know, I wrote in Jimmy Carter -but that’s a whole post in itself). However, I voted, knowing Mr. Clinton didn’t need my vote to win – I could afford idealism.

General Clark also stated he would support a ‘flag burning’ constitutional amendment. He didn’t state he would propose one, nor is that a function of the office, but I can’t tell you how strongly I would oppose such an amendment.

I believe that the strength of our flag as a symbol is precisely why it should always remain a tool for freedom of expression. Yet, I can allow that a soldier, like General Clark, who took that flag into battle, might have a different perspective.

A divisive issue? It seems so (based on media coverage, candidate response etc.). A reason to reject Clark as a candidate? Hardly.

In my assessment of the man, his actions and his words, I believe that although he supports such an amendment, his conviction for the right of freedom of expression would outweigh any personal preference – this is not a 'my way or the highway' leader.

I am admittedly selfish in my promotion of this man as the Democratic nominee. I want to be able to afford idealism on November 2, 2004. If General Clark is on the ballot, I will be able to vote for the man I actually want as President; a candidate that I am excited about. It’s been a long time –how ‘bout you?

Take some time to make your own assessment. Not because General Clark needs to be President, but because we need him to be.

Read or listen to his words, not those processed by pundits or the press (or even bloggers for that matter). Listening to Wes Clark’s responses to ‘unscreened’ questions from voters is likely what sealed it for me. Any candidate can deliver a clever, articulate response to anticipated questions but it’s the unexpected questions which yield the more revealing responses.

I have categorized the links below by type of information and topic in an effort to make it easy for you to access the information that may be important to you.

The early primaries are less than a month away and, unfortunately, it takes a great deal of money to get the message out. So, whether you reach the same conclusion I have or if you are undecided at this point but are willing and able to contribute to the Wes Clark campaign, you will find a ‘donate’ button above the blogroll at the right.

If, you’re among several million of us, who can’t afford to make a monetary contribution at this time, there are other ways to contribute. See the links below or visit
Clark for President. In the meantime, share with friends.

The following links to information and material have been supplied by my hand and any errors are mine. This compilation is not a product of the Clark Campaign and/or its campaign staff though some of the links will direct you to information on the Official Campaign Website.



IN HIS OWN WORDS

AUDIO

Interview NH Public Radio 11/05/03

Interview NPR Morning Edition 12/02/03 here or directly here

Reaction to Saddam Hussein's Capture
Note: This is rather scratchy audio -conference call from the Hague ~30 minutes

VIDEO

Senate Hearing U.S. Policy in Iraq 09/23/02
Note: This is via CSPAN. General Clark's testimony was taken on 9/23/02 and appears at about 20 minutes and 50 seconds into the video. This is long before Bush invaded Iraq and the General is making the same statements then that he is now. You be the judge if his position has 'waffled'.

Clark Announces Candidacy in Little Rock, AR 09/17/03

DePauw University in IN 09/23/03

New England College in NH 09/26/03

Here in the Heartland Presidential Forum in IA 10/06/03
Note: This is 1 1/2 hours but an excellent format. Senator Harkin has sponsored this for many years, for every candidate.

Hunter College in NYC 10/19/03

Presidential Candidate Forum on Women's Issues, Washington, DC 11/06/03
All candidates. Now close your eyes and imagine this as a Republican candidate forum - sorry couldn't resist.

Town Hall Meeting Exeter, NH 12/06/03

Briefing on Milosevic Testimony, Concord NH 12/17/03

Pancake Breakfast Nashua, NH 12/20/03


His Books

Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire, and

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat.



Biographical Data

Text

General
Military Career Highlights
Military Career Timeline
Documents
Awards

Video Note: This is produced by/for Clark for President

American Son

POLICIES, POSITIONS, STRATEGIES

Text
Note: Page with these and other links can be found here or viewed individually

GENERAL OVERVIEW

100 Year Vision for America

ECONOMY & JOBS

Remarks on the Economy, NH 10/22/03
Issue Statement: Economic Vision
Speech: Job Creation, NYC 9/24/03
Issue Statement: Restarting the American Jobs Engine
Issue Statement: Manufacturing Security Plan
Issue Statement: Rural and Farm Security Plan
Issue Statement: Standing Up for American Workers

EDUCATION

Issue Statement: Invest in the Education of America’s Future
Issue Statement: Universal Preschool Plan
Issue Statement: Universal College Grant Plan
Remarks on Higher Education, NH 12/10/03

HEALTH CARE

Issue Statement: Plan for Health Care for American Families
Remarks on Health Care, NH 10/28/03
Issue Statement: Prescription Drug Plan for Seniors
Issue Statement: Global Aids Security Strategy
Issue Statement: Domestic Aids Security Strategy

ENVIRONMENT

Issue Statement: Protecting the Environment
Issue Statement: Clean Air Plan

NATIONAL SECURITY

Issue Statement: A Real Plan for Success in Iraq
Remarks: Outline Success Strategy in Iraq, SC 11/06/03
Issue Statement: Ossam bin Laden/Al Qaeda Strategy
Remarks on Al Qaeda, NH 11/12/03
Issue Statement: Ten Pledges on National Security
Remarks on Restoring America’s Alliances, NYC, 11/20/03
Article: Throw Full Weight of Washington Behind Middle East Process

OTHER TOPICAL POLICY STATEMENTS/SPEECH TRANSCRIPTS
here

MANY WAYS TO PARTICIPATE:

Contribute

Become a Clark Recruiter

Join a Clark Meet-Up

Sign Up for e-mail Updates

Sign Up for Wes Points

Find Events in Your Area

Tell a Friend About the Campaign

Visit the Official Clark Campaign Blog

Start Your Own Clark Community Blog

Join the Clark Corps Volunteers

Download and Distribute Materials

I hope you found this useful; regular blogging returns Tuesday.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


While we were out eating, drinking, being merry, tricksy or otherwise disengaged ...

On December 22, results of tests on a cow which was slaughtered on the 9th of December, revealed the first case of Mad Cow disease in the U.S. The Agriculture Department continues to track the cow's origin and the distribution of the meat from the slaughtered animal. U.S. officials announced that they believe the cow originated in Alberta, Canada while Canadian officials suggest that disclosure was premature.

Christmas flights between Paris and L.A. were canceled due to possible terrorist attacks though there appears to be a difference of opinion as to the evidence or likelihood of planned attacks as the French Find No Terror Tie to Six Flights

I'm just wondering, on a scale from 0-5 (with zero being the evidence of WMDs in Iraq and 5 being the evidence that George W. Bush is a miserable failure), how strong the evidence was in this instance?

Tom over at
Opinions You Should Have 'reports' that the U.S is upset that the French released airline passengers without probable cause - it's a great post, go enjoy it.

We (anyone who thinks The Administration's gutting of environmental protections has gone too far) did get a Christmas present, from the District Court in DC this time, as they suspend some of Bush's Clean Air Act changes.

Slip Sliding Away and Taking Lives in the Process are:


Mud


Snow

And

Earth

I have to believe that when international response (from friend an foe alike) is overwhelming in crises such as the earthquake in Iran, that nonviolent intervention could have worked in Iraq as well.


In other news ...


Prosecutors have been assigned to the
Plame Investigation

There's been a significant increase in suicide among U.S. troops

Violence continues as the
pace of US casualties increases in Iraq and

a
suicide bomber is successful in Afghanistan.

This, even though we all know, "The world is a safer place under my rule leadership", as the unelectable one states.

I guess the Brits aren't buying it either as they plan to
place sky marshals on some planes.

You're also not alone if you think Bush is the author of
a dark chapter for America.


Cheney, the dick, whines about the press coverage of The Administration and accuses them of failing to check the facts. Helen Thomas (I've always rather liked Helen) writes that Cheney should check his own 'facts'.


SARS rears its ugly head again in China where a Suspected SARS Patient is Quarantined.

If you're like me, you have difficulty comprehending the idea of being a suicide bomber, but I guess it's somewhat rational if you believe that, as such a martyr, you'll go to a better place. On the other hand, this Sicilian is just plain nuts! No pun intended.

Great Britain struggles with the death penalty; it may be going to the
dogs.

Monday, December 22, 2003


We'll Have an Orange Christmas without Him


Blog-lite here at Nitpicker the remainder of the week. Saw LOTR:ROTK this evening and it was excellent. Have a wonderful holiday and be careful; who knows what evil may be lurking. We don't go from yellow to orange for nothing.

Do You Feel His Pain?

Rush, the pompous, pill-popping-Limbaugh paid "substantial" blackmail to a former maid before she told law enforcement and a tabloid newspaper about his addiction to prescription painkillers, his attorney told a judge Monday.
Attorney Roy Black said Limbaugh could not complain to authorities about the maid's demand for $4 million because they would use the information against him as if he were some common peasant, and that the maid and her husband "bled him dry" before going public anyway.
I'd better be careful, I wouldn't want my tears to short the keyboard.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Oh my God!

Bush administration asks his personal court (aka the Supremes) to support allegiance to under god.
The appeals court decision was roundly criticized by federal officials at the time. Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to ''spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag'' and the House of Representatives voted, 400-7 with 15 members voting present, to condemn the decision.
Nevermind, that in it's original version 'under god' was nowhere to be found, who is removing any right to pledge allegiance to the flag?

Libya Lays Off

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, after secret negotiations with the United States and Britain, agreed to halt his nation's drive to develop nuclear and chemical weapons and the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Someone should tell him, it doesn't matter - ask Saddam.
..."Colonel Gadhafi's commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful," said Bush.

Recalling the war in Iraq, Bush said other nations should recognize that weapons of mass destruction "do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences."
And the beat goes on ...




WMDs and Alice's Restaurant Massacre

I know, nothing new here except that for the first time (that I've seen) a major (at least somewhat - the Boston Globe) media source is reporting the 'third possibility'. For months, the anchors, reporters and pundits went on ad nauseam about whether the faulty premise of the Iraq Invasion was the result of bad intelligence gathering or exaggeration of the intelligence by the administration, as if those were the exclusive possibilities. All the while I was reminded of Arlo Guthrie's situation after having been caught litterin' StockBridge, Massachusetts, by Officer Obie.
"Obie said we had to pick-up the garbage and also had to go down at speak to him at the police officers' station. And so we got in the VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the police officers' station. Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was that he coulda give us a medal for bein' so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely and we didn't expect it. And the other thing was, that he coulda bawled us out and told us never to be seen driving garbage around the vicinity again which is what we expected. But when we got to the police officers' station, there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon and we was both immediately arrested, handcuffed, and I said Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on. He said, Shut up, kid and get in the back of the patrol car. And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the quote scene of the crime unquote".
So, with regard to WMDs, the third possibility, not counted upon by the media, is that the administration didn't exaggerate but consciously lied to the Senate, to the UN and to the American people as, finally, acknowledged in Still no mass weapons, no ties to 9/11, no truth
THE INVASION was still a lie. The capture of Saddam Hussein changes nothing about that. There were too many forked tongues in the road to his lair. The way we removed the dictator, we became a global dictatorship.

No major reason for the war has been proven. The deadly WMDs became weapons of mysterious disappearance. In August 2002, Vice President Cheney said: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

In the 48-hour warning to Saddam on March 17, 2003, Bush said, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. . . . The terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other."

On March 30, a week and a half after the start of the invasion, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld boasted about the weapons of mass destruction, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat."

Nine months later, no chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction have been found.

There were the administration's attempts to tie Saddam to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. They worked so well that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed Saddam was "personally involved" in the attacks. On March 21, two days after announcing the invasion, Bush wrote a letter to congressional leaders in which he said: "The use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001."
...
Bush scared Americans with fears of an Iraq armed with nuclear weapons. In his State of the Union address last January, Bush said: "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That claim had been discredited months earlier by many US intelligence sources. Bush used it anyway.

Bush was so successful in putting mortal fear into Americans that there never was a pause to wonder if this was carnage without cause. We could not wait for United Nations weapons inspectors to finish their job. We could not wait for diplomats to try a last appeal. As with the environment and arms control, there was no attempt to listen to the world at all. There is a thin line between arrogance and shame. Because we are the preeminent power in the world, we assumed that our arrogance would not shame us.

Bush told the world we were going to secure America and liberate Iraqis at the same time. With no weapons of mass destruction, with no nuclear weapons, and with no tie to 9/11, Saddam's capture could not possibly have been worth the lives of 455 US and 80 European soldiers. With no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons, and no tie to 9/11, it could not possibly been worth the lives of 7,600 to 45,000 Iraqi soldiers. With no rationale for the invasion, you could consider this a massacre.
...
With no weapons, no ties, and no truth, the capture of Saddam was merely the most massive and irresponsible police raid in modern times. We broke in without a search warrant. Civilian deaths constituted justifiable homicide. America was again above the law. We have taught the next generation that many wrongs equal a right. In arrogance, we boasted, "We got him!" The shame is that we feel none for how we got him. The capture of this dictator, driven by the poison of lies, turned America itself into a dictator.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


Clarification or Backing Down

The chairman of a federal commission looking into the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday that mistakes over many years left the United States vulnerable to such an attack, but he resisted pinning blame on either of the last two presidential teams.
"We have no evidence that anybody high in the Clinton administration or the Bush administration did anything wrong," chairman Thomas Kean said in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" taped for airing Thursday night.

...
Kean sought to clarify remarks attributed to him in a CBS News report that aired Wednesday.

In the CBS interview, Kean said the commission's report, due May 27, will detail "what wasn't done and what should have be done" to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He added, "There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed."

CBS reported that Kean's comments constituted "pointing fingers inside the (Bush) administration and laying blame."

...
But Kean said in Thursday's interview that he did not mean to suggest that certain federal officials should have been fired after Sept. 11. He said he was commenting on obvious mistakes that were made, such as letting terrorists into the country and letting dangerous items onto planes.
Indeed. Based on his initial statement, it would appear that if he was on the job, they would have been fired before September 11th (would not be in the position they were in at that time). I didn't post or comment on the first report because I suspected a retraction or correction would be forthcoming. It was too good to be true that an Bush-appointed Republican would come forward like this, the question is, did he really misspeak? We'll only know for sure if all of the necessary/requested information is subpoenaed and obtained. In the interim, watch Nightline, it's easier to squirm on paper than it is in front of the camera.

There are Vouchers, and Then There are Vouchers

Quididity over at uggabugga has the perfect solution for opponents of the morning-after pill ...

If sexual behavior bothers the conservatives, then regulate sexual behavior, not the ancillary components related to sex. On the highways, we regulate speeding. We don't require that the car's engine sieze up at 90 MPH. Conservatives should instead:
  • Consider a voucher program for sex. You get 10 vouchers each year (unless married) and turn one in each time you have sex. Penalty for a no-voucher encounter: $100.

  • Or simply outlaw sex before marriage.

  • Institute a Hotline so that people can report unlawful sexual activity.
  • That sort of thing. If conservatives really believe that letting people choose for themselves leads to "irresponsible sexual behavior", then by all means propose limiting that behavior, and shun the inefficient method of banning a morning-after pill.

    Given conservatives' penchant for vouchers, it seems an appropriate solution don't you think?


    Blasted from Both Coasts

    Two influential U.S. courts dealt a double blow to the Bush administration's anti-terror policies on Thursday by ruling the government was violating the civil rights of so-called "enemy combatants" held in a South Carolina navy prison and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Okay, in truth, neither decision will have any immediate impact as both will likely (the Guantanamo case certainly) be decided by Rehnquist and the Supremes. But just knowing the Ninth and Second Circuit Courts are out there checking the unbalanced power of the current administration is comforting. Besides, it really has to irritate the unelectable one and that's got to be worth something.
    A thousand words

    Remember, this is a photo of Bush in a newspaper that unfailingly shills for him.

    Please put suggestions for his thought balloon in comments.
    I'll buy that

    You are 42% geek
    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.


    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!


    Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!


    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.


    Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

    Demagogue v. Instigator

    Oh man. This should be fun.

    It seems that the Lying Liar is at it again. He's been trying to convince people that his book is outselling Franken's books "all over the place" and is poised to overtake Hillary's book.

    "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"

    We had yet another ridiculous snowstorm yesterday [and over the weekend] here in New York. Whenever that happens, chaos ensues, children are frightened, adults wail and gnash their teeth.

    In the midst of it all, about 600 people turned out to see me at Costco on Long Island. I was signing copies of Who's Looking Out for You? These folks obviously were looking out for me as well as being real troopers.

    While I was signing it, a Costco manager handed me a sheet of paper with sales figures. As you know, we are in a fight with Hillary Clinton for bestselling non-fiction book of the year. Since September, in Costcos across the country, Who's Looking Out for You? has sold 96,000. Hillary's book has sold less than 9,000 copies. Ninety-six thousand. Nine thousand.

    We've got a real shot at overtaking Mrs. Clinton. We have two weeks to do it. Ridiculous? Only if you're rooting for her.

    So, OK, let's say that O'Reilly's outselling Clinton in the category of people who go shopping for books at Costco. But, you might ask, how's Billy doing with other readers? Is he really competing with Hillary for best-selling book of the year? Well, that's what O'Reilly said on the Today Show.

    LAUER: Number one on the best seller list. You have bumped past Al Franken's book. Is there a little ecstasy in that for you?

    Mr. O'REILLY: We've outsold that guy all over the place. We're running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year. That's who we want to beat, and that's why I'm here talking with you. It's a delightful experience on the TODAY show as always.

    As No More Mister Nice Blog pointed out, Publisher's Lunch wasn't buying his b.s..

    Without resorting to name-calling, those are claims that stand in sharp contrast to, say, a glance at recent Nielsen Bookscan lists. Unless "outsold that guy all over the place" actually means "have sold about half as many units." By those same charts, Clinton has outsold O'Reilly by a little less than three to one.

    So then Drudge gets into the act, actually publishing lst week's list on his web site.

    1. South Beach Diet, Agatston: 2,304,608 [units scanned]

    2. Purpose Driven Life, Warren: 1,507,902

    3. Living History, Clinton: 1,084,520

    4. Ultimate Weight Solution: McGraw: 836,043

    5. Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken: 674,024

    6. Who's Looking Out for You?, O'Reilly: 430,407

    And now O'Reilly, according to Drudge, is going apeshit!

    HOST UNHINGED AFTER SALES FIGURES REVEALED; CALLS DRUDGE 'THREAT TO DEMOCRACY'

    TalkerAuthor Bill O'Reilly lashed out against this space during his popular FOXNEWS O'REILLY FACTOR Wednesday night -- just hours after closely guarded book sales figures were splashed over the internet.

    Sales figures show how, contrary to his claims, O'Reilly lags far behind rivals Al Franken and Sen. Hillary Clinton for nonfiction props!

    MORE

    Responding to an exclusive yearender DRUDGE dispatch, which presented NIELSEN's Top 20 BOOKSCAN list of 2003 sales, O'Reilly called the DRUDGE REPORT a "threat to democracy."

    "I mean you can't believe a word Matt Drudge says," O'Reilly told the cameras. "Now you've got the Matt Drudges of the world and these other people, Michael Moore and all of these crazies, all right, no responsibility... that is a threat to democracy, I think." O'Reilly warned: "They'll just spin it and twist it and take it out of proportion every which way."

    MORE...

    "There is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge," O'Reilly charged on the IMUS in the MORNING radio show.

    "I just want to tell everybody that Matt Drudge is smoking crack - right now, in South Miami Beach on Washington Avenue... And the authorities should know it."

    Wow. Someone calls you out for being an obvious, blatant, lying sack of crap and what do you do? You call for his death! Funny, O'Reilly said he had a problem with that kind of talk.

    I see things on the Internet about me. They have Internet sites that say "kill Bill O'Reilly." Kill him. All right? And then they say, "Oh, it's a parody, you know. It's satire." But you can say and do whatever you want.

    Apparently, shame really is dead. As Atrios says, pass the popcorn.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2003


    Nothing has ...

    particularly caught either my interest or my ire this day. I know, a judge has said that John Hinckley will be allowed unsupervised visits with mommy and daddy and I'm quite certain that Mr. Rove wishes that the unelectable one hadn't been allowed an unsupervised visit with Ms. Sawyer but, on the whole, an uninteresting day.

    I would suggest, however, that you click on over to moveon.org because the voting has begun for the 'Bush in 30 Seconds' political ads.

    There are some very creative ads, and if you register, you can view and rate them. They are rated from 1-5 (5 best) in the following four categories:

    1) Overall Impact: educational, informational, persuasive

    2) Originality: concept, ideas, format

    3) Memorable Content and Delivery

    4) Clear Message

    At first I thought how can one be persuasive if your message isn't clear. Silly me, obfuscation is obviously quite persuasive if you follow the polls.

    Anyway, I digress. However, I do think there are two things that could have been done to improve this rating process. The first being the addition of a fifth rating category - redeemable. Since many, if not most, entrants are amateurs, the impact and clarity categories may have been negatively affected by their inexperience and/or lack of flashy tech tools. However, with minor editing/formatting changes these highly creative ads could be transformed into more powerful ones.

    Secondly, I think the submissions should have been divided into two classes, single-issue/limited audience versus multiple-issue ads. There you have it; go see what you think.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2003


    Undermining the SanctimonySanctity of Marriage

    pResident Bush said Tuesday that he could support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

    I'm shocked.
    The Massachusetts Supreme Court last month struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it is unconstitutional and giving state lawmakers six months to craft a way for gay couples to wed.

    Bush has condemned the ruling before, citing his support for a federal definition of marriage as a solely man-woman union. On Tuesday, he criticized it as "a very activist court in making the decision it made."

    "The court, I thought, overreached its bounds as a court," Bush said. "It did the job of the Legislature."
    So, it's the job of the Legislature to determine the constitutionality of a given law? Gosh, if that were the case you'd think maybe they'd deal with it while they were writing it in the first place.
    ...

    Previously, though Bush has said he would support whatever is "legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage," he and his advisers have shied away from specifically endorsing a constitutional amendment asserting that definition.

    But on Tuesday, the president waded deeper into the topic, saying state rulings such as the one in Massachusetts and a couple of other states "undermine the sanctity of marriage" and could mean that "we may need a constitutional amendment."

    "If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that," he said. "The position of this administration is that whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state or at the state level."
    First of all, I'm a little perplexed regarding: 1) why defending the sanctity of marriage would be legally necessary in the first place and 2) the distinction between embraced "by the state" and "at the state level". However, the latter is immaterial I guess since any state-embraced "legal arrangements" that counter the strictly man/woman definition would presumably be nullified by a federal amendment. I do agree with one thing, I think a constitutional amendment may be necessary, one that requires presidential candidates to have a triple-digit I.Q. Intolerant?


    Plan B? We'll See


    Emergency contraception - the morning-after pill- should be available without a prescription, on pharmacy shelves next to the aspirin and cough medicine, government advisers said Tuesday.
    The nation's largest gynecologists group had urged the move, saying it would greatly increase women's ability to get the pills in time to prevent pregnancy: within 72 hours of rape, contraceptive failure or just not using birth control.

    Used widely, emergency contraception could cut in half the nation's 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in turn prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions, proponents told scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration.
    Or as some will no doubt say, merely change the mechanism of abortion.
    ...

    The FDA isn't bound by its advisers' recommendations but usually follows them.

    Commissioner Mark McClellan said Tuesday that the FDA would make a final decision on the morning-after pill in "a matter of months."

    Asked whether political considerations would be taken into account, McClellan said, "We have a lot of information coming in. It's very much a science-based process."
    Although sold by prescription since 1998, we shall see whether politics or science rule the day insofar as their over-the-counter availability. The favorable vote on the advisory panel was 23-4.

    If the unelectable is Going to Win, We Must Catch the precious
    Four days after Saddam Hussein's capture, the White House vowed Tuesday to find another most-wanted fugitive -terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

    We're continuing to pursue other leaders within that al Qaeda terrorist network, including Osama bin Laden. I think he can fully expect that he will be brought to justice by this administration," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
    ...

    In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll taken this month, 50 percent of Americans said they would not consider the war in Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism to be successful unless bin Laden is captured.
    ...
    In recent months, Taliban and al Qaeda rebels have been increasingly bold in their assaults, raiding police stations, killing aid workers and confronting U.S. troops in growing numbers.

    Many of the attacks have taken place in the south and east, near the border with Pakistan.

    Afghan and Western officials have long complained that the insurgents have found haven in Pakistan, crossing the border to launch attacks.

    "Operation Avalanche," involving between 2,000 and 11,500 troops, began two weeks ago and is the largest ground operation yet in Afghanistan, a military spokesman said.

    Coalition intelligence sources say there are persistent reports that Taliban leader Mullah
    Mohammed Omar is in western Afghanistan, particularly in the Kandahar region, once a stronghold of the Taliban.
    The pResident say, "There's a time for politics ..." The question is, was there ever a time in this administration that was anything but politics? Operation Avalanche? Guess that they're into recycling operation names as well as administrations. Either that or al Queda is one nasty child porn ring.

    Monday, December 15, 2003


    The pResident's Press Conference

    In Terry's earlier post he links to this and understandably asks if any of us need to "scrub our brains"[one yessiree Bob here] or if it's just him. I cite not the brain-numbing image, but the questions posed after Bush's statements and ask does anyone wonder why these people aren't just put on the White House payroll or is it just me?

    Rehnquist and the Supremes Going to Bat Again?

    The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide whether Vice President Dick Cheney must release White House papers about the energy policy task force he headed two years ago.
    The high court agreed to hear an appeal from Cheney, who is resisting a federal judge's order to produce documents about White House contacts with the energy industry in 2001.

    Cheney's Justice Department lawyers say he is immune to the court order on grounds of a constitutional separation of powers.

    The environmentalist Sierra Club and Judicial Watch government watchdog group sued in 2001 to find out the names and positions of members of the energy task force led by the vice president that year.

    They allege that Cheney, a former energy company executive, drafted energy policy by consulting industry executives including Enron Corp.'s Ken Lay, making them effective members of his task force while leaving environmentalists on the outside.

    Cheney was chief executive of energy and construction company Halliburton Co. from 1995 to 2000. His 2001 energy task force produced a policy paper calling for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program.

    Cheney has acknowledged meeting Lay, whose company collapsed in late 2001, but his lawyers say the task force was comprised of government officials, not corporate chieftains.

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in spring 2004, with a decision due by the end of June.

    Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said the administration was pleased the Supreme Court took the case, saying the issues involved were "critical" to the effective functioning of the president and vice president.
    Imagine that, the administration being pleased the Supremes took the case. Predictions anyone?

    Breaux Bows out

    Sen. John Breaux, a leading Democratic centrist and dealmaker who often votes with the Republicans, announced Monday he will not run for a fourth term next year.
    Breaux, 59, becomes the fifth Southern Democrat in the Senate to step down in 2004, further compounding the party's difficulties in its struggle to retake control of the chamber. His departure creates a wide-open race in Louisiana.
    ...

    Four other Southern Democrats in the Senate have announced plans to retire in states where President Bush figures to run strongly next year: Bob Graham of Florida; John Edwards of North Carolina, Ernest Hollings of South Carolina and Zell Miller of Georgia.

    Breaux was the youngest member of Congress when he was elected to the House in 1972 at the age of 28. He won his Senate seat in 1986.

    His departure is expected to prompt two members of the state's congressional delegation to jump into the Senate race, Reps. Chris John, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican. Both said they would announce their intentions later.

    Republicans have not won a Louisiana Senate seat since Reconstruction.
    Let's keep it that way but I seem to recall the gargantuan effort put forth by the Bush squad to defeat Mary Landrieu in the last election. Hopefully the LA Democrats will be prepared and the seat will not be lost. Other than that, with Breaux's votes recently, from Anwar to Medicare it's difficult to view his departure as a loss to Democrats. Maybe that's his new career, he'll be a Republican advisor or perhaps we'll see him in Bush's cabinet if we don't manage to defeat the unelectable, impeachable one.
    Now I'm going to have to scrub my brain

    ...to get this image out of my head.

    I told Laura, of course, and pretty much went to bed early Saturday night. And Condi woke me at 5:15 in the morning, which was okay this time. (Laughter.) Just don't do it again. (Laughter.)

    But she said that the Jerry Bremer had just called her and there was -- they were prepared to say this was Saddam Hussein, in which case we got dressed and hustled over to the Oval Office to start making calls.

    Is it just me?

    Sunday, December 14, 2003


    Saddam Captured, Democracy Likely Within the Week

    Want a little levity with that capture?

    See Tom, for an Opinion You Should Have.

    Democratic Candidates Respond to News of Saddam's Capture

    via TalkLeft


    Wes Clark managed to favorably 'plug' all the Democratic candidates, while making the point (that Dean should have made [see earlier post]) that Saddam's capture doesn't negate the administration's faulty judgments and actions.
    "Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, another strident critic of Bush's war policy, told reporters he still stands by past statements opposing the war. 'This was not a necessary war,' he said. 'All candidates want the U.S. mission in Iraq to succeed, and I don't want to see another American soldier injured there. But success in Iraq does not change the judgments of an administration that took us into war. I don't think that the capture of Saddam Hussein in any way invalidates those concerns."

    It's clear the man's a miserable failure, whether he remains unelectable, may be determined, but is he impeachable?

    Como se dice unelectable en Espanol?

    From the Horse's Mouth

    (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein denied during the initial interrogation after his capture that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, Time magazine reported on Sunday.
    Citing a U.S. intelligence official in Iraq, the report said that when asked if his government had such weapons Saddam replied: "No, of course not. The U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us."

    The news magazine reported that the official, who read a transcript of the interrogation of the former Iraqi president, said the interrogator asked: "If you had no weapons of mass destruction, then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?"

    Saddam's reply: "We didn't want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy."
    That's the trouble with capturing him alive, eh boys?

    OsamaSaddam Captured with his WMDs

    (Reuters) U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit in a major coup for Washington's beleaguered occupation force in Iraq.
    Grubby, bearded and "very disorientated," the 66-year-old fallen dictator was dug out by troops from a cramped hiding pit during a raid on a farm at Ad-Dawr late Saturday, U.S. Major-General Ray Odierno told a news conference in Tikrit.

    "He was just caught like a rat," Odierno said Sunday in one of Saddam's grandiose palaces nearby on the Tigris river. Saddam once seemed almost to believe his own claims of invincibility and urged his troops to go down fighting the invaders. But though he had a pistol, not a shot was fired.
    To no one's surprise, the media failed to point out that the end (capturing Hussein) does not justify the means (deceiving the American people and executing an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation). However, in a statement this morning, Howard Dean, looking particularly defeated, also failed to avail himself of an opportunity to state that while Saddam's capture is certainly a good thing is does not detract from his message.[ABC TV News; no link to statement available at this time]

    The death of another American soldier brings the total to 452. In the pResident's address this morning he still spoke of "the direct threat to Americans", still intimating a 9/11 connection. Has anything really changed?

    Friday, December 12, 2003


    Third Anniversary

    It was three years ago today that these people decided to take the matter of our presidential election into their hands. It was also on that day (much to the chagrin of my spouse) that I purchased a U.S. flag and proceeded to display it, half-staff and upside-down (to demonstrate both mourning and distress) from our second-story balcony.

    Not in My Neighborhood

    We Americans are noted for our difficulties, as a whole, in dealing with death. The latest front discussed here in No welcome mat for crematories, addresses the placement of crematories.

    Now We Know Why the Worm's a slo-1; It's Smashed

    Researchers found a gene responsible for drunkenness in worms after plying thousands of the tiny creatures with booze, a discovery that could boost the fight against alcoholism.
    The experiment was conducted by University of California, San Francisco researchers and was to be published Friday in the science journal Cell.

    Because it is believed that alcohol affects all animals similarly, humans, like worms, may also possess a single gene responsible for drunkenness.

    "Our end goal is to find a way to cure alcoholism and drug abuse," Dr. Steven McIntire said. "We hope to develop effective therapeutics to improve the ability of people to stop drinking."

    After six years of work on the project, McIntire can now spot a soused worm about as well as a highway patrol trooper can spot a drunken driver.
    Well, if the right-wing Republicans decide to squelch this research by cutting funding (after all, it's a person's choice to be an alcoholic - oops getting a little too close for comfort with this one, perhaps), at least he can have a fall-back position with the CHP.
    ...

    The drunken worms moved slower and more awkwardly than sober ones, and laid fewer eggs. Teetotaler worms form a neat S shape to power propulsion while the bodies of drunken worms were straighter and less active.

    Researchers found that the sober worms had the same mutated gene that appears to make them immune to alcohol's intoxicating effects.

    The natural job of the gene they found is to help slow brain transmissions. Alcohol increases the gene's activity, which slows down brain activity even more. But if the gene is disabled, as it was in the mutant worms, the brain never gets the chance to slow down.
    Although not stated in this article, the research was performed on a tiny (almost microscopic), cute (as nematodes go) worm, C. elegans. The "C" stands for Caenorhabditis but that doesn't sound as nice as 'see-L-agains' so we'll stick with that. The affected gene is slo-1 (hence the posting title) and encodes a channel protein, equivalent to one found in the human brain, known as the BK channel. The 'B' in this case is for 'Big' and the 'K' for 'Potassium' (check your periodic table, I know you have it handy). And where was this research performed you might ask...at UCSF's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, of course. If you're interested, a more complete, yet layperson-directed article appears in UCSF Today, here.


    A blast from the past

    If you haven't been listening to Nina Totenberg's series commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education this week, then go here and listen. It's very good.

    One part really set the bells ringing, though. During a conference, Justice Robert Jackson made the point that this was something that should have happened already, but that Congress had failed to act, which forced the Supreme Court to force their hand.

    This is a political question. I don't know how to justify the abolition of segregation as a judicial act. If we have to decide this question, then representative government has failed. The problem is to make a judicial basis for a congenial, political conclusion.

    In the end, though, Jackson realized that it was up to the court to push the government toward the right way. It is doubtful that even the most vehement enemies of so-called "judicial activism" would argue that this wasn't the right decision. At least not today. At least not openly.

    What really got to me, though, was how there are echoes of this concern in "Fat Tony" Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, although Scalia seems to believe that the "people" are always correct, even when they're oppressing a minority group.

    Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best. That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts. But persuading one’s fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one’s views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts–or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them–than I would forbid it to do so. What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new “constitutional right” by a Court that is impatient of democratic change. It is indeed true that “later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” ante, at 18; and when that happens, later generations can repeal those laws. But it is the premise of our system that those judgments are to be made by the people, and not imposed by a governing caste that knows best.

    You see, "Fat Tony" would have just asked blacks to wait patiently until the south decided to give them the rights that they should have had anyway. Just think: Maybe they'd still have only about 50 more years to wait.

    Update: Let's not forget, though, that Scalia's love for the vox populi is direct proportion to the degree that they want what he wants. When he disagrees, he has no problem correcting their fuzzy thinking.

    Thursday, December 11, 2003


    Two Things via TalkLeft ...

    A Senior Correspondent for Time Magazine, Michael Weisskoph, lost a hand in Iraq today when he tossed a grenade out of the humvee he was riding in with Time photographer James Nachwey and two US soldiers. See the article here

    And ...

    Not only is he a miserable failure, but George W. Bush is also unelectable.

    Gene Sperling, of theCenter for American Progress, reponds to an Op-Ed Piece in the Wall Street Journal by Office of Management and Budget Director, Joshua Bolton on the administration's fiscal policy.


    This is a point-counterpoint piece. Here are some highlights ...
    OMB Director Bolton: From the left, the are blamed for driving the federal budget into deficit.”

    The critique of the administration’s deficit exploding policies . A number of independent organizations including the Committee for Economic Development, the Concord Coalition, and Goldman Sachs, along with individual voices like those of former Republican Commerce Secretary Peter J. Peterson and a group of 10 Nobel Prize winning economists have harshly criticized the long-term fiscal damage done by the President’s tax cuts.

    ...
    OMB Director Bolton: “[T]he president's tax cuts have been critical to his priority of strengthening the economy and creating jobs. Perhaps the best timed in American history, these tax cuts deserve much credit for today's brightening economic picture: the highest quarterly growth in 20 years (8.2 percent), which, though unlikely to remain as high, is a harbinger of sustained growth to come”

    • Last time we checked, President Bush has been president since January 20, 2001. Like an 0-9 football coach heading into the last couple of games of his season, this administration wants to take credit for a single quarter of growth in 2003, rather that acknowledge that in both 2001 and 2002 they missed significant opportunities to pass short-term, high bang-for-the-buck stimulus that could have jumpstarted the economy far earlier.
    He tackles the creating jobs fallacy later in the piece in outlining the other disastrous aspects of the Administration's policies.






    Bush, the miserable failure, Defends Policy on Awarding Contracts to Rebuild Iraq

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 — President Bush defended his policy on Iraq's reconstruction today, even though it puts him in the awkward position of asking France, Germany and Russia to forgive Iraq's debts despite being excluded from $18 billion in rebuilding projects.

    Hey boys, it's all about sacrifice; yours, the Iraqis, the 'coalition' forces, the American citizens - you're all in the same boat. Well, really it's about you being with my administration, and well, none of you were, so f*** ya' all. Oh, by the way, since you're getting screwed anyway, how 'bout forgetting the debt Iraq owes you, okay? Now that would be a step in the right direction in showing your support for our little regime here - see what I mean?

    "Men and women from our country proudly wear a uniform, risk their life, to free Iraq," Mr. Bush said. "Men and women from other countries, in a broad coalition, risk their lives to free Iraq. And the expenditure of U.S. dollars will reflect the fact that U.S. troops and others risk their life."
    Okay, just so we're clear on the logic here: 1) men and women from our country are risking theirs lives so the Halliburton CEOs get a nice Christmas bonus, and 2) the expenditures reflect exactly what? If I'm not mistaken there are companies from countries who have provided troops that are not part of the 'lucky 63' and visa-versa.
    Mr. Bush, in a brief exchange with reporters at his last Cabinet meeting of the year, tried to put the best face on an uncomfortable situation, declaring that "we want to work with all countries" toward a free and peaceful Iraq.
    We really want to work with the Frogs, Krauts and Commies but you know they just won't play along. All we're trying to do is ensure freedom and independence of everyone, well, unless of course you're in Taiwan but you know that's um a different uh agenda. Anyway, let's talk.

    Halliburton May Have Overcharged in Iraq

    There goes that liberal media again, only reporting the negative news. May? A little strong don't you think? Isn't this old news. Maybe they're going for the Administration's strategy...if first the suckers don't fall for it, just keep repeating it. Hey, it seems to work for them.

    A Pentagon audit of Halliburton, the oil services firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has found evidence the company may have overcharged for fuel it brought into Iraq from Kuwait, military sources said on Thursday.

    Oh, a Pentagon audit, now the 'may' is becoming clear. Is this like a warning shot over the bow - get your stories together?
    The sources told Reuters that Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root, which got a no-bid U.S. government contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry in March, had been notified of the evidence by the Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).

    So far the company has clocked up $2 billion in business from the March contract.


    Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall denied the allegations and said she was confident the company would be able to stand up to any audit of its work in Iraq.


    "KBR has acted in full accordance with its fiduciary and contractual responsibilities under the contract," she said.
    [translation]What can I say, we got a great deal.


    If only someone would've smacked Limbaugh around a bit...

    World O'Crap reports that Bill O'Reilly doesn't have any sympathy for Whitney Houston, who was abused by her husband. Why? Because she uses drugs.

    Nitpicker's reported before on O'Reilly's double standard for drug users, but this is the best example yet. In his mind, Whitney Houston is somehow fair game for physical abuse because she's an evil druggie, but when a loudmouthed conservative prick gets bad press for being a druggie, even reporting the facts is despicable. He even dragged up Jimmy (J.J.) Walker to defend him.

    O'REILLY: In the "personal story" segment tonight, Rush Limbaugh returned to the radio today after a stint in drug rehab. Here's a short part of what he said.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There are people who are saying that I am a hypocrite as I was using drugs, yet I was telling people to lead a moral life and do the right thing. OK. If what I was saying to do was the right thing, about whatever subject, does the fact that I may not have been doing it myself mean that it's not right to do?

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    O'REILLY: All right. Joining us now from Las Vegas, comedian Jimmy J.J. Walker, who has been sticking up for Mr. Limbaugh. Wow. You know, I -- when I saw your name and that you're a Rush Limbaugh supporter, I was kind of surprised. How did you get to that place?

    JIMMY WALKER, COMEDIAN ACTOR: Well, I think that a lot of people don't realize Rush is a guy that anybody, to me, who has any thinking ability or any common sense, realizes everything Rush says is not right or out to use a term, but he has a lot of good ideas. And he has affected policy in this country tremendously in the last two or three presidential elections.

    As you know, his name is always brought up. And people always use him as a point of reference. Now with this little downfall, for just a little bump in the road, people are coming out like pariahs against Limbaugh. You see this in ESPN, where Rush was not even dealing with policy. He was more dealing with NFL and their affirmative action policy. And like dogs, they ran away from Rush Limbaugh.

    O'REILLY: Oh, sure. I mean, you know, we're in the middle of a culture war here. So any of the opposition, you know, any conservatives, or even on the other side conservatives will get liberals. But are you a conservative, Mr. Walker? Are you a Republican?

    WALKER: I think -- you know, I think I would be in the Limbaugh camp. If that's conservative, OK. I think of it as the right way to think...

    O'REILLY: ...(T)he reason your point is well taken is because the elite media, which controls a lot of the communication flow and all of it before the Fox News channel came out, allows the smear merchants much more exposure than the other side.

    Poor Rush.

    Maybe next time we should be so mean. Instead of reporting things, maybe someone should just kick his ass. Tell him O'Reilly sent you.
    Supporting the (right) troops

    I found this disturbing video over at tbogg and I must say that I am disgusted. The Marine who fired these shots and the highest ranking Marine on the scene should both be court-martialed, according to FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, Chapter 4, Sec. II, Para. a, which states this about the wounded and sick:

    They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict in whose power they may be, without any adverse distinction founded on sex, race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or any other similar criteria Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated, subjected to torture or to biological experiments; they shall not wilfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be created.

    To add to this nauseating spectacle, a Marine captain and chief warrant officer attempt to defend the shooting of an injured man who was clearly no longer a threat. Disgusting. Why is it that an Army first sergeant has to set them straight, writing:

    I too, am recently returned from seven months in Iraq, with a Division Cavalry unit. I see nothing to defend in that video and am glad that you have archived it so that others can see it. As a scout with over twenty years in the Army, mostly in combat units, I would say that what is captured on the video appears to be murder and in violation of the Law of Land Warfare.

    This is not how warriors behave but how thugs operate. If the Iraqi man was indeed laying in ambush or setting an IED, then it is entirely appropriate to shoot him and to shoot him until he is no longer a threat. Once he ceased combat operations however, it became the soldiers' job to treat him and give him the same aid they would have one of our wounded soldiers receive.

    That's how the Law of Land Warfare works.

    To use him as a target and appear so joyful about it demonstrates that murder occurred and not combat operations. That is not a reflection of how callous all the soldiers are or what is encouraged or allowed in units. That unit has a problem. Any commander that glosses over that incident is neglecting his duty.

    In the opening days of the war, our medics treated many Iraqi casualties, sometimes heroically. That's what you do. Its the law. I have no love lost for Iraqis, especially after watching the ones so happy to get a handout dance so gleefully in soldier's blood.

    Our troops killed plenty, engaging in combat actions. My instructions to soldiers on missions almost always included the words - "if at anytime you feel threatened, shoot, shoot first and shoot center mass." But at no time were any of our soldiers instructed, allowed or countenanced to murder an injured person, be he combatant or not. I took pride that my commander insisted we "keep our mean faces on. We are not here to make friends" but also insisted on the humane treatment, even recommending our PA for an award solely for working heroically on an Iraqi casualty.

    This man had attempted to engage our forces, was shot and shot bad and eventually died. No one was happy that a human died. We understood that if we are to expect to be treated a certain way upon injury or capture, then we must treat the enemy the same way. That's what warriors do.

    Hooah, first sergeant.

    I have known many Marines in my time and I know them as honorable men and women. I know that it must turn their stomachs as well to see this kind of disgusting display.

    Update: It gets worse. I just noticed that the Marine captain who attempts to defend this murder works for the Marine Training and Education Command, whose responsiblity it is to teach the Law of Land Warfare (among other things). In fact, here's the lesson overview for the law on the TECOM website, which says:

    While some people today still think that war is a free-for-all and that anything goes, this is no longer true. Although man continues to be the force behind the weapons, there now exists certain limiting rules to which most countries have agreed to follow. It is the policy of the Marine Corps to conduct operations in accordance with the existing laws of warfare.
    (Ahem!)

    The Koufax Awards, founded by Blogger Emeritus Dwight Meredith, have returned.

    Now, while I don't think that it's kosher to nominate yourself in a category, I would like to mention that Nitpicker did have a long-running series about how columnists on the right were lying about Wes Clark. Is it the "best series"? I don't know. It is, however, the only category, in my opinion, in which Nitpicker should qualify.

    Remember:

    George Will embarrasses himself again
    Will's lie still stinking up the place, Day 11
    George Will lie still out there, Day 12
    Adjust Fire!
    George Will's Lie, Chapter V: In which Nitpicker loses faith
    Perhaps you should read very slowly, Bill
    George Will argues what the meaning of "is no" is
    Goddammit!
    The Next Lie About Clark
    David Frum: Liar or Idiot?
    William Safire: I want to "Gore" Clark, too!
    Goddammit! Revisited
    Ratko Mladic and Doubting Thomas
    Now Clark's getting it from the left
    Sadly, No! tracks down the truth about Clark and Haitian immigrants
    Weekly Standard says George Will is full of shit
    Spinner One is on the attack

    Wednesday, December 10, 2003


    Democratic Primary Forum[you could hardly call it a debate]
    : Koppel Massages Dean; Goads Others. No One Bites ... except perhaps, Dean.

    Koppel starts the evening by massaging Dean, commenting on what an extraordinary day he's had with the endorsement, how well he's doing in the polls, how much money he raised and then asks them all to respond to the following question:

    Raise your hand if you believe Gov. Dean can beat George Bush?
    [audience laughs, claps. Only Dean raises his hand, laughs]

    This is my typed transcript of the candidates' response to this question(couldn't find one online) and any errors are mine. Senator Kerry's and Representative Gephart's responses are partial but the salient features are there and their responses were rather bland receiving no audience response.
    Koppel: [to Dean], Don't look at me, look at those eight...

    Dean: Well, you kind of put them on the spot...

    Koppel:That's the idea ..tell me Senator Kerry, Why didn't you raise your hand? [audience laughs, claps again]
    Dean knows he's safe, in reality, each of the candidates is only 'on the spot' in that there appears to be an unwritten agreement among all the candidates that this topic will not be broached.
    Kerry: States because he believes in his own candidacy and some polls showing he can beat Bush says by the way, he was surprised by the endorsement. Joe Lieberman had shown such extraordinary loyalty in delaying his own campaign [applause] it surprised me. I think I speak for every candidate up here when I say this race is not over until all of the votes have been cast and counted [applause whistles]. Goes on to state why he's running and talks of Bush's ineptitude. [cut-off by Koppel]

    Gephardt: I'm sure that all of us think we have the best chance to beat George Bush but we're united in wanting to replace George Bush with a much better president. This President has let us down [applause]. Goes on to state he has more experience, right values -fighting for middle class values, etc. Thinks he can beat George Bush in states ya' gotta beat George Bush. [cut-off by Koppel].

    Koppel: Senator Lieberman, You got a bit of a shot in the solar plexis today you had to be surprised by it, disappointed by it, but the fact of the matter is, someone needs to win the primaries, the caucuses and ultimately the democratic nomination before they can hope to win the Presidency against George Bush -have your chances received a bad shock today?

    Lieberman: Ted, I think in some unpredicted, unexpected, unpredicted way, my chances have increased today. I can tell you our phones have been ringing of the hook at campaign headquarters today. I've been stopped in the airport by people angry about what happened.

    I was raised to face adversity in one way, double my determination. To continue to fight for what is right for the future of our party and our country. And I'll tell you why I didn't raise my hand in response to that question. This campaign for the Democratic nomination is fundamentally a referendum within our party about whether we're going to build on the Clinton transformation in our party in 1992 that reassured people that we were strong on defense, that we were fiscally responsible, we cared about values, we were interested in cutting taxes for the middle class and working with business to create jobs. Howard Dean, [pause] and now Al Gore I guess, are on the wrong side of each of those issues. I'm ready to fight for the future of the party I love and fight for the future of this country because we're only going to defeat George Bush if we have an independent-minded center out ... [cut-off by Koppel]

    Koppel: Rev Sharpton, you were raising your hand before, in response to which part of what happened?

    Sharpton: I think we, all of us have an opportunity to beat Bush if we do not break and chase away from our party, the people that we're going to have to mobilize to come out. What I started hearing today is dangerous, that's why I didn't raise my hand. Al Gore went to NY today, he should have noticed that Tamini? Hall is not there today, bossism is not in this party. [audience applauds] To talk about people ought not run and that people ought get out of this race is bossism. That belongs in the other party. We waited four years after some of us were disenfranchised, some of us in Duvall? County couldn't vote so we could express ourselves and we're not going to have any big names come in now and tell us the field should be limited and we can't be heard [applause; hoots, whistles]. The Republicans shut us up four years ago; Al Gore or no Democrat should shut us up today. Let the people decide on the nominee. Bossism shouldn't happen. I know Governor Dean and Al Gore love the internet but w-w-w-bossism doesn't work on my computer. [applause;whistles etc.]


    Koppel: Ambassador, rather pointedly Al Gore went to Harlem, with Governor Dean to make the announce of his endorsement, the implication being he can transfer some of the allegiance he has within African American community to Governor Dean, do you buy that?

    Mosley-Braun: You know Ted, Paul Simon died today, he was a friend, a mentor and a giant of an American who was beloved in all communities [Ted interjects to clarify talking about Senator Simon from Illinois]. Paul Simon was a model for the kind of direction democrats should take at this time, to turn toward each other not against each other as we take on the real challenge of getting George Bush out of the WhiteHouse and getting the country back on track [applause]. In fact, I just spoke with Paul on Sunday because he endorsed Dean in Iowa, he went to great lengths to explain to me that he liked you [to Dean] but he loved me and it didn't mean he was detracting from his endorsement of my candidacy at all. And we talked about this race and the importance of caring about people and having a government that works for people, showed compassion for people and holds up our standing as Americans in the rest of the world. [Koppel cut] Just to say in short, I think it's important, in memory of Paul Simon and all of the Democrats that looking to us for leadership, that we turn toward each other, not against each other [applause] and take on the real enemy?.

    Koppel: Senator Edwards, what I was trying to get at with Ambassador Braun was whether loyalty can in any way be transferred by an endorsement from one politician to another politician?

    Edwards: Well, I have this kind of curious notion that I think actually most voters in America make their own decisions about who they believe should be the president of the United States. I don't think you can tell them what to do. The one thing I'm absolutely certain of, having now spent a lot of time here in the state of NH, you sure can't tell the people of NH what to do [applause] that's one thing I'm certain of and the other thing I'm certain of, we're not going to have a coronation, the Republicans have coronations. We have campaigns, we have elections and that exactly what's going to happen in this particular case. I think there is a fundamental decision that has to be made by voters here in NH and all across the country, in order to change the problems in Washington, in order to have real reform. Do you want someone who has spent most of their life, most of their adult life in politics? Because there's a lot of people on this stage who represent that, I have not, I am very much an outsider. I have spent most of my life fighting against the powerful special interests that keep you from having your interests represented, that keep you from getting the democracy you deserve. That's what this election fundamentally is about. [cut-off by Koppel]

    Koppel: General Clark , you're relatively new to the process it is rumored however you are a favored candidate by the Clinton family. If Senator. Clinton or President Clinton would offer you their endorsement would you take it?

    Clark: Well, you know, I really have never even thought of that...

    Koppel: Oh, sure, you have.

    Clark: No, I haven't because, just to quote another former Democratic leader, I think elections are about the people, not about the powerful. I think there was a man named Al Gore that once said that. And so to me this is about going out to the American people, listening to them; talking about ideas. There's a very important election coming up and it's not going to be decided by endorsements. This is an election that's going to be about national security, it's going to be about facing down George Bush in his failure to perform his duty satisfactorily as Commander-in-Chief , his failure to keep the American people safe. From 9/11, his taking us into a war without any justification, after 9/11.[applause] I am the only candidate on the stage who can take that fight to George Bush and I intend to do it. That American flag doesn't belong to John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay and George W Bush, and I for one, am very tired of seeing him pose in front of our soldiers and sailors and claim the mantel of fair heroism after he ordered them into combat unnecessarily. [-cut-off by Koppel/applause, hoots, whistles]

    Koppel: Congressman Kucinich, I remember you from when you were the boy-Mayor from Cleveland. You've been at this for a very long time. I'd like to hear your thoughts on what endorsements like this mean or don't mean. When you hear some of your colleagues here, I get a little bit of sense of sour grapes here, that if anyone else on this stage had gotten Al Gore's endorsement, he would have been happy to have it - what do you think?

    Kucinich: Well, I can't say I was really counting on it [applause, laughter] but let me say Ted, that some of the best talent in American politics is on this stage right now [applause] and with all due respect to you, Ted Koppel, who've I admired over the years, greatly...

    Koppel: There's a zinger coming now ...

    Kucinich: Yes. To begin this kind of a forum with a question about an endorsement, no matter by who, I think actually trivializes the issues that are before us [applause, hoots etc.] For example, at this moment there are 130,000 troops in Iraq, I'd like to hear you ask during this event what's the plan for getting out. The war is not over. I have a plan that's on my website at kucinich.us to get the US out of Iraq - I want to talk about that tonight and I hope that we have a substantive discussion tonight and that we're not going to spend the night talking about endorsements.[applause, hoots, whistles]

    Koppel: Governor Dean, What is it that makes me think that while there are eight people up here that aren't crazy about that endorsement, and think it trivializes politics, that you probably don't.

    Dean: Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, John Edwards was right, the people will decide, not Al Gore or anyone else. Secondly, I'm going to give an invitation that I've not yet given, but I'm going to do it now. If you guys are upset about Al Gore's endorsement, attack me, don't attack Al Gore. He worked too hard in 2000 to lose that election, when he really didn't lose the election since he got 500,000 votes more than George Bush and I don't think he deserves to be attacked by anybody up here. [mild applause] He's not a fraud?, He's a fundamentally decent human being. We share a lot of values. We both believe this earth is in an environmental crisis because of what George Bush is doing, we both believe that middle class people in America ought to be able to send their kids to college and get some help. We both believe that 3 million jobs lost is 3 million too many and under the Clinton-Gore record we had a whole lot better economy than we do right now. We both believe that the Bush tax cuts are grossly irresponsible and they ought to be reversed, we both believe that the war in Iraq was put forward on the American people unjustly because we were not told the truth about why we were there. And I think Al Gore deserves credit for being a kind of moral leader in this country that we have lost in the last election.
    Okay then. A few things ... Did Gore endorse Dean or are 'both believers' going to be running mates? No, that wouldn't be right, Dean acknowledges Edwards for being correct about basically what was said by all - looking for another southern Democrat anyone? Where, does all this venom come from? I don't think the responses of any of the candidates could be construed as an attack on Gore that should evoke this kind of response. Perhaps, it was scripted in anticipation of attacks that didn't come, and like someone else we're familiar with, Dean has difficulty deviating from the script. However, we do know from the 2000 election, Al Gore does have difficulty defending himself so I'm sure he's grateful. I have the same question I've had since the beginning - what is the attraction? Silver spoon, snide mouth, bogus Vietnam evasion - don't we already have that?

    Dennis Kucinich, won the day in this forum. He got even greater applause when later in the discussions he criticized the media (Koppel) for the direction that it takes the political conversation. Only four of the nine candidates received applause at the end of the responses in this segment; Dean wasn't one of them.

    If you want to view the discussion, go here for the link.