Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Taunt or Desire
WICHITA (AP) — More than two decades have passed since a serial killer terrorized Wichita, strangling or stabbing seven victims and bragging about it to the media.

Police hadn't heard a peep from the killer in 25 years — until now.

On March 19, a letter arrived at The Wichita Eagle with information on an unsolved 1986 killing, a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her slain body.

The letter sent to the Eagle was the first clue that the 1986 killing of Vicki Wegerle might have been at the hands of BTK, an acronym the killer used for "bind, torture and kill."

Six of BTK's victims were strangled; one was stabbed to death. Four were members of one family — two children and their parents. Letters claiming responsibility for the slayings were sent to The Wichita Eagle and KAKE-TV.
Is this a taunt or has the killer gotten sloppy in his desire to be caught and punished? If sending the letter was meant as a further slight then it's likely that no fingerprints or DNA will be isolated from the current letter. However, renewed attention will likely result in analyses of the letters sent during his killing spree in the 70s and 80s and it is not probable that he would have thought to avoid licking the stamps and/or envelopes at that time. If the evidence has been preserved, there is a good chance that the killer's DNA profile will be obtained from one or more items of evidence. There's also a reasonable probability that in the interim he has been arrested for a crime for which his DNA profile was entered into the CODIS (CObined DNA Index System) offender database. Regardless of his motivation, taunt or guilt, his freedom may soon be at an end.

Wanna Play Ball Scarecrowotty?
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan:

Q Just one thing. You just said, we would not be in this situation if Senate Democrats had not blocked the energy policy in May, 2001. Prove that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Senate Democrats are the ones that had been holding up, through their procedural moves, holding up the Senate moving forward. The House moved forward, and they moved forward quickly --

Q But how would that --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and so the Senate Democrats are the ones who are holding this up through procedural moves. You know that there's a very close balance in the Senate. You're very aware of that. And there are procedural moves that they can use. Some Senate Democrats didn't even show up to vote on this energy policy last summer, I might point out.

Q But how would passing the President's energy bill in May of 2001, have changed OPEC's mind in March of 2004?

MR. McCLELLAN: It would of -- what it would have done, it would have helped reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy; it would have increased domestic exploration and production; it would have expanded conservation; it would have increased energy efficiency. We need to take all those steps. That's why I said, we need a comprehensive plan. It would have also provided us a modern electric grid, as well, to address the electricity crisis that we faced last year.

Q When we talked about President Bush testifying before the 9/11 Commission last week, with you, and the length of time, you never mentioned the possibility of the Vice President testifying with him at the same time. This does seem to be recent shift that they would testify together.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't get into discussions that we have on an ongoing basis with the Chairman and Vice Chairman. Our Counsel's Office stays in close contact with the Chairman and Vice Chairman and commission on an ongoing basis to make sure that we're doing everything we can to help them move forward on their important work. So they've been in discussion with the Chairman -- our Counsel's Office has been in discussion with the Chairman and Vice Chairman for quite sometime on these issues in terms of the President's and the Vice President's meetings. And we always work in a way to make sure we are helpful to the commission so that they can get their work done.

Q For the two of them to testify together?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's -- we came to an agreement and that's where the discussions ended up.

Q And in terms of getting the information to the commission in a timely fashion, as important as that is, it seems that if the President testifies for an hour or two, which is what we talked about, and if the Vice President were to testify for an hour or two, we're only talking about a difference of two or three hours in the commission getting its information. So what difference does that make?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're talking about a sitting President and Vice President of the United States, as well. And this is -- this is a good way to help them get the information they need to do their job. And they -- and the commission, I might point out, unanimously welcomed the decision.

Q If they have different recollections, wouldn't it be more helpful to the commission to hear from them separately?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think this is a game of 'gotcha.' This is about making sure that they have the information they need to do their job. And that's the spirit in which we're working. They already have much of the information they need. This is a way for them to sit down with the President and Vice President and learn additional insights into how they go about piecing all this information together. And this is a good way to do it.
Q One more thing about the 9/11 Commission. In that same paragraph of Mr. Gonzalez's letter saying the President and Vice President will be able to testify together, it also stipulates that only one staff member on the commission, itself, could actually take notes. Why that stipulation?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think that's unusual. I think if you look back at all the meetings and interviews that have occurred with administration officials, I don't think there's anything unusual about that. All 10 members of the commission will be present, if they all show up, and be able to ask whatever questions they want. And the President and Vice President look forward to answering all of their questions.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Just when you think they might actually demand some answers ("prove it") ... not that Scotty answered what the significance was in terms of efficiency for Edgar and Mortimer to testify together either but it was entertaining nonetheless.

The Calvary
With presidential candidates coming out swinging and Democrats' anger at Republican President Bush at fever pitch, Air America began broadcasting in six major U.S. markets.

Franken directed repeated jabs at Bush, including this reference to the 2.2 million jobs lost since he took office, as well as economic woes when his father was president:

'Put him and his father together, that's seven years of being president, without creating one new net job. If they had been president since the beginning of the country, we'd all be hunter-gatherers,' Franken said.
Tune into Air America Radio here.

I didn't get a chance to tune in today - anybody want to share first impressions?

Winning Hearts and Minds in Iraq
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - A vengeful crowd of cheering Iraqis dragged the burned and mutilated bodies of four American contractors through the streets of Falluja Wednesday after killing them in a vehicle ambush.

In a separate attack, five American soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb was detonated beside their armored vehicle convoy west of Baghdad, the U.S. army said.

The White House vowed the United States would stay the course in Iraq despite another bloody day.

The Falluja violence began when guerrillas attacked two four-wheel-drive vehicles on a main road. A crowd set the vehicles ablaze and dragged the bodies through the streets of the town 32 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Jimmy Breslin thinks that Condi Rice could use a history lesson about appearing in public and under oath before a congressional committee as an active National Security Advisor. He goes on to 'educate' her by providing an excerpt of NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski's testimony in 1980. In reviewing this excerpt, as well as some of the current 9/11 commission transcripts, I think a more salient point to be made is how little is revealed between the evasion and rhetoric of the 'witnesses'. If commission members don't sufficiently detail and pinpoint their questions, the result is no different than listening to 'Scotty' twist and dance at a press gaggle. Based on the focus and priorities of the current commission, we are left wondering if there is any point to this exercise.

The Nation:
With much of the questioning at the 9/11 hearings dominated by Clarke's charges, many issues went unaddressed or barely mentioned. Tenet was not asked about the CIA's failure to tell the FBI about two of the 9/11 hijackers it had tracked to the United States. If the FBI--which had an informant who was in touch with the two men--had been provided that information, it may have been able to locate the two hijackers-to-be and place them under surveillance. Who knows where that might have led? (The commission says it will examine this screw-up in a future hearing.) In fact, Tenet, who was responsible for a massive intelligence failure, was not challenged by the commissioners. Why had the in telligence community not focused on the reports dating back to the mid-1990s that noted Al Qaeda and other terrorists were interested in using airliners as weapons and crashing them into such targets as the White House, the CIA headquarters, the Pentagon, and nuclear reactors? Tenet was not pressed on this.

Former Representative Timothy Roemer, a Democrat, did raise a related issue with Tenet. He referred to an important section of the 9/11 report produced by the Congressional intelligence committees, which revealed that the intelligence community in August 2001 had warned 'senior government officials' that bin Laden had been looking to mount attacks in the United States, that Al Qaeda had apparently developed cells in the United States, that bin Laden was considering hijackings, and that some bin Laden supporters in America were planning attacks with explosives. In this report, the intelligence committees hinted--quite strongly--that this warning had been conveyed to Bush in a Presidential Daily Brief he had received on August 6, 2001. But the White House had not allowed the intelligence committees to review this PDB, and in previous public statements Rice had indicated this PDB had merely contained routine historical information on bin Laden. (The 9/11 commission was only allowed to send representatives to read and summarize the PDBs, including this one.)

Roemer laid out this background and asked Tenet why the intelligence community in the summer of 2001--when the dramatic rise in 'chatter' was suggesting that Al Qaeda was about to strike--had focused only on the possibility of an attack overseas, not one at home. But by the time Roemer explained all this, his allotted minutes were nearly expired. Tenet ducked the question; the subject was dropped. And the possibility that Rice had mischaracterized the August 6, 2001, PDB was not explored. Nor was Bush's reaction to a warning that said bin Laden was aiming to hit a target in the United States. (The commission promises this, too, will be examined in a coming hearing.)[Nitpicker emphasis]

Which Balloon
Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, 'This isn't America; the government did not invent intelligence material nor exaggerate the description of the threat to justify their attack.'

So even in Israel, George Bush's America has become a byword for deception and abuse of power. And the administration's reaction to Richard Clarke's 'Against All Enemies' provides more evidence of something rotten in the state of our government."
This administration's reliance on smear tactics is unprecedented in modern U.S. politics — even compared with Nixon's. Even more disturbing is its readiness to abuse power — to use its control of the government to intimidate potential critics.

To be fair, Senator Bill Frist's suggestion that Mr. Clarke might be charged with perjury may have been his own idea. But his move reminded everyone of the White House's reaction to revelations by the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: an immediate investigation into whether he had revealed classified information. The alacrity with which this investigation was opened was, of course, in sharp contrast with the administration's evident lack of interest in finding out who leaked the identity of the C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame to Bob Novak.
Where will it end? In his new book, "Worse Than Watergate," John Dean, of Watergate fame, says, "I've been watching all the elements fall into place for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take the air out of democracy."[Nitpicker emphasis]
Another book; this time from someone with authority on political corruption and evil ...'tumblin.

First, it was Sir Peter, now Alistair is gone as well.

"'night, gents."

Breeding al Queda
All the suspects were Britons and were arrested as part of an operation targeting alleged international terrorist activity, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke said.

Press Association, the British news agency, said all eight were of Pakistani descent, but police would not comment on that.
[Nitpicker emphasis]

White House to Let Rice Testify Lie in Public
Oh, wait - I guess she's been allowed to do that all along.

Monday, March 29, 2004

...The poundin' of the drum
The pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead
But don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor
But don't forget to say 'grace'
And tell me
Over and over and over and over again my friend
You don't believe we're on the Eve of Destruction
No, No you don't believe we're on the Eve of Destruction

-written by P.F. Sloan; performed by Barry McGuire, and the The Turtles

Bush's Forward Vision
In the 1660s, England's Lord Clarendon was in the habit of sending prisoners to remote islands and military garrisons in order to put them out of reach of the due process protections afforded by English courts. For these misdeeds, Clarendon was impeached, and in 1679 Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act which made it illegal to ship prisoners away to deprive them of their rights.

It appears the Bush administration never got that memo.

According to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by a group of military lawyers who have been assigned as defense counsel for prisoners held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Clarendon's effort to evade habeas corpus is the closest and most recent precedent to what the Bush administration is doing in Guantanamo today.

'So far as (we are) aware, the American government has never before consciously created a trial process, courtroom, and other accoutrements of judicial process outside the battlefield and housed them all in an area calculated to divest civilian jurisdiction,' the attorneys wrote.

And the number one reason you can tell if you're a hacker...

Sobriety Test
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German woman's joy at the recovery of her missing handbag quickly turned to sorrow after she sped drunk to the police station to fetch it and had her driver's license confiscated, authorities said Thursday.

"She was so happy to hear about the bag she jumped straight into the car and came down to get it," said a spokesman for police in the western town of Mettmann. "The thing is, we saw her coming. She'd had a lot to drink."

The 38-year-old parked in front of the police station but failed to hide the fact she was inebriated from officers.
Sometimes procrastination is a good thing.

To Testify or Not To Testify

This seems to be the question as of late and some suggest that at this juncture Condiliar really has no choice. In reality, we can all imagine how her testimony might go anyway. If you're having difficulty perhaps Brad DeLong can help.

Now, At a Recruiter (or download site) Near You

The Marines may want a few good men, but the Army is looking for a few good gamers. Yes, in the latest form of government propaganda, the U.S. Army is pushing action (nonviolent I'm sure) video games to lure our youngsters to recruiters.
America?s Army is one of the five most popular PC action games played online. It provides players with the most authentic military experience available, from exploring the development of Soldiers in individual and collective training to their deployment in simulated missions in the War on Terror.

America's Army: Special Forces is the follow-up to America's Army: Operations, which was released on July 4, 2002.

In America's Army: Special Forces, players attempt to earn Green Beret status by completing individual and collective training missions drawn from the Special Forces Assignment and Selection (SFAS) process.

Players who complete the SFAS process have the opportunity to take on elite Special Forces roles and are qualified to play in multiplayer missions with units ranging from the elite 82d Airborne Division to the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Includes the complete game America's Army: Operations.

Authentic U.S. Army experience - Realistic depiction of the values, units, equipment and career opportunities that make the Army the world's premier land force -continually updated to incorporate new occupations, units, technologies and adventures.

Realistic roles -Including Weapons Specialist (18B), Intelligence (18F), Engineer (18C), Communications (18E) and Combat Medic (18D).

Challenging Green Beret training -Complete training missions drawn from the SFAS process at Fort Bragg. Successfully complete SFAS and advance to Special Forces Qualification Course (Q-Course) missions to explore new Special Forces roles.

Intense Special Forces action -Intense Special Forces action -Experience multiplayer missions in simulated combat environments. Take part in missions that span the capabilities of a Special Forces detachment, including unconventional warfare, direct action, surveillance and reconnaissance and Combat Search and Rescue.

Detailed Special Forces equipment and military hardware -Building on the equipment available in America's Army: Operations, America's Army: Special Forces adds the M4 Carbine featuring the Picatinny rail mod system for attaching laser-aiming devices and sighting systems; the MP5SD6 Remington 870 shotgun for forced entry; the AT4, a shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket and the BDM, a shoulder-fired bunker demolition munition.

Accurate Soldier behavior -Players are bound by the laws of land warfare, Army values (honor, duty and integrity) and realistic rules of engagement as they navigate challenges in teamwork-based multiplayer force vs. force operations. Mission accomplishment standings are evaluated based on team effort and adherence to a set of values and norms of conduct.
Too cool. I wonder what 'rating' these games have been given. G.I. Joe for the new millennium.

The More They Resist, The More They Refuse ...

Doesn't their constant intimation that they have nothing to hide, look more and more like this or this? It certainly sounds like this.

Paul in PA agrees.{scroll down}

So, apparently does Charles Wesley

While another thinks the comparison unfair to the former president.

It's unfortunate that Sam wasn't as prescient as Howard S. Thompson has been.

We can only hope that like Dick's gang, they too will tumble.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Unborn Victims of Violence Act Heads to President Bush

Some headlines you just can't pass up.

Round and Around

I'm getting kind of sick of the whole Richard Clarke debate. He's not alone in his charges and the administration's own public statements and documentation at the time are consistent with his assertions. Suburban Guerilla has a little fact checking on Condi's latest lies this evening [from the Center for American Progress].

Orcinus has a post about a particularly brutal hate crime perpetrated on a gay man purportedly because he posted an image of George W. Bush as Grand Dragon at a KKK rally.

Jimmy on the Provost of Room Assignments
Condoleezza Rice, the sweetheart of the halls of the White House, listened to Clarke tell her how dangerous al-Qaida was. She answered that his office staff was too large. She said that Clarke's position should be downgraded. He would have meetings with deputies and nobody higher. And months went by and nothing was done about bin Laden.

Reading this in Clarke's book, and listening to him at the hearing in Washington on Wednesday, I was struck with the sameness in the story about her. Condoleezza Rice always is introduced as a former provost of Stanford University. You can't get anything to sound much better. Provost! She must be in charge of science you can't even imagine. Economics! Graphs and formulas. Ancient literature. Anything ancient. If it is impossible to understand, she knows it.

It turns that as provost she was in charge of assigning lecture halls. If they were for decent conservative visiting lecturers they were given good places. Some cheap liberal had to speak on the other side of the school, with one foot in the bay. I know a scientist who is on the staff out there and he brought out Paul Glimscher from NYU to lecture. Rice found him to be a dastardly New York liberal and they couldn't get a place for three days.

She is now in the White House squalling that Clarke is a liar. But she wont make a public appearance in front of the 9/11 committee. She says she preserves the confidentiality of the White House - while she goes on every television station. And there is no precedent stopping presidential advisers from testifying in front of a committee. Just in recent times, you had Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sandy Berger, John Podesta and Charles Ruff appear.

Bush promised the 9/ll committee complete cooperation and assistance in getting past the separation of powers. His celebrated assistant, Rice, refuses to come. She made one appearance behind closed doors. She now says she would make another, but keep the door closed. She likes a set pattern for her appearances, a television interview in which she speaks and smiles and the announcer says thank you. She is not made for a back and forth on a public stage with somebody like Richard Ben-Veniste of the 9/11 committee.

Ben-Veniste was pretty exciting as a prosecutor in the Watergate case. I don't think he was being entirely light hearted when on Wednesday, he asked only one question of a witness and then turned to another member and said, 'You can have all my time, if I can have yours with Condoleezza Rice.'

She sure heard that. And she acts as if she has something to hide. She has at least a couple of things that people want to talk to her about in public.

And watch how far away she stays from Ben-Veniste.
I think her former assignment was more in keeping with her estimable talents.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Braver Still

Now I'm messing with margins, where will it end?

Template Change

I've been sittin' in here at Nitpicker since November and have made little changes. First, because although Terry told me to feel free and make it my home, I haven't felt either the need or the sense of ownership to make changes. Second, I am no HTML guru, and worry that any changes I make to the template will result in total Nitpicker annihilation. Okay, so at this juncture maybe it's more the second point. At any rate, you will note the added rainbow bar above to illustrate support for gay marriage here at Nitpicker. The code can be found by following the link and I discovered it through Musing's musings. So, go forth and spread support for equal rights.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Too Tired
Had one of those meetings tonight. You know, the one that should have lasted one hour tops but went on for nearly three. Of course then my friend and I had to retire to a local establishment for much needed anesthesia. I'm almost competely recovered from the disasterous meeting but have zero energy for blogging tonight. So visit the blogroll but make sure you don't miss:


Suburban Guerrilla

Musing's musings [although I don't know about the new colors]

Crooked Timber

Opinions You Should Have


Not in any particular order, just some 'consistent quality' personal favorites. 'night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Luxury of Protest
...Yet, as I was driving around Baghdad on March 20, the eerie quiet felt like a sign of something else: that symbolic anniversaries are an unaffordable luxury when the war they are supposed to be marking is still being waged. Several demonstrations were planned for the 20th in Baghdad but were cancelled at the last minute, a response to three days of rapid-fire attacks on Iraqi and foreign civilians.

On March 19, an anti-occupation march designed as a show of unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims was much smaller than organizers had hoped, and no wonder: Less than three weeks ago, 70 people were killed in a horrific attack on the same Shia mosque where demonstrators were meant to gather. To underscore the threat, U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer chose the day of the planned protests to predict that more such major attacks were likely 'when you have masses of Shia together.' Those who dared to show up despite the warnings glanced around nervously, while men armed with Kalashnikovs lined the streets and rooftops, looking for signs of trouble.

It's worth remembering that just two months ago, the mood here was distinctly less tentative. In January, more than 100,000 Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad and Basra to reject the U.S. plan to appoint an interim government through a complicated system of regional caucuses, and to demand direct elections instead. Under intense pressure, Mr. Bremer was forced to scrap the caucus plan entirely. For a brief moment, it looked as if U.S. President George W. Bush's empty talk of bringing democracy to Iraq might just become a reality, not because the occupiers were serious about giving Iraqis self-determination, but because Iraqis seemed determined to seize that power despite their occupiers' best efforts.

Now, after a month of terror and steady assertions from 'experts' that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, much of that boldness has retreated. Which is precisely why they call it terrorism: It sends people from the streets into their homes, replacing courage with fear, self-reliance with dependency.

There are rare exceptions, such as the recent Spanish elections, when populations seem to collectively decide to try something else— to respond to horror with defiance. But more often than not, terrorism simply terrorizes.

But if terrorism sows fear, an obvious point, the obvious question is: Who benefits most from the spreading fear in Iraq? According to President Bush, the winners are faceless evildoers bent on undermining Iraq's future democracy. "They understand that a free Iraq will be a devastating setback to their ambitions of tyranny over the Middle East," he explained on the anniversary. According to Mr. Bremer, that means that the attacks will likely continue as the June 30 handover approaches.

It's a nice theory, but it's not the one gaining currency on the streets of Baghdad. Just 20 minutes after the devastating bombing of the Mount Lebanon hotel last Wednesday, the rumours began to fly: It was the Americans, the Pentagon, the CIA, the British. If these conspiracy theories have traction, maybe it's because the occupying forces have so brazenly taken advantage of the attacks to do precisely what they accuse foreign terrorists of doing: interfering with the prospect of genuine democracy in Iraq.

Bush's Terror Hysteria


Why Must The Show Must Go On
WASHINGTON - Democrats on Capitol Hill continued to press the White House Tuesday to allow Condoleezza Rice to testify before an independent commission looking into how the Bush and Clinton administrations handled the growing threat of al-Qaida before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
What's the point? When lying's like breathing, what difference does their appearance make? When the head of the commission goes in thinking that the Administration has nothing to hide ...

70's Lasagna
MIAMI (AP) -- A 5-year-old boy took a bag of marijuana to school and was sprinkling it over a friend's lasagna like oregano when a monitor intervened, police said.

The lasagna was confiscated before the other boy had a chance to eat it Monday in the cafeteria at Gratigny Elementary School.

Police said it was unclear whether the kindergartner even knew what he was carrying, although he tried to hide the bag when the monitor approached.
Wow, and I thought we started young.

Going Up?
In an elegant bit of nanoscale engineering, chemists at the University of California at Los Angeles have designed and built what must be the world's tiniest elevator, a molecular platform on three legs that can be raised or lowered on command.

The device, created by J.Fraser Stoddart, a professor of organic chemistry, and colleagues, is about two and a half nanometers high, and the platform moves less than a nanometer up and down. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about a 25-millionth of an inch.

Although the elevator is more complex and organized than other so-called molecular machines, Stoddart said the work, which is described in the current issue of the journal Science, was only an 'extremely incremental' step toward developing useful molecular-scale devices that might, for example, function as drug-delivery systems. The elevator or something like it, he said, might someday serve as a valve, opening and closing a tiny cavity to allow a few drug molecules to reach a cell.

Showing Respect
MADRID, Spain World leaders dressed in black joined Spanish royalty and families of the 190 victims of Madrid's train bombings at a state funeral Wednesday for those killed in the nation's worst terrorist attack.
Although showing a sign of respect for the Spanish people is not something that Bush, the morally-challenged, fascist born-again mentally-deficient imp could comprehend, his absence from the state funeral was a great symbol of honor and respect -no matter if it was unintended.

Extra! Extra!
NEW YORK (AFP) - A US business group that monitors federal spending took out a full-page advert in The New York Times, likening President George W. Bush to a corrupt chief executive officer who has forfeited public trust.

Timed to coincide with the weekend anniversary of the US-led war against Iraq, the advertisement -- paid for by Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities -- said Bush's case for invasion 'was built entirely out of falsehoods.'

Highlighting the cost of the war in terms of hundreds of US casualties and tens of billions of dollars, the ad said the 'state-sponsored deception' underpinning the conflict dwarfed the damage caused by the series of corporate scandals that recently rocked Wall Street.

'It's past time for finger pointing,' it said.

'It's time for someone in this government to step forward and take personal responsibility for the deadly deceptions used to mislead this great nation into war.

'And that someone must be George W. Bush.'[Nitpicker emphasis]
These guys are or were CEOs, so they speak with some authority.

Not While You're in the Neighborhood
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The new Hamas leader in Gaza said Wednesday the militant group had no plans to attack U.S. targets, while another top official in the organization said it has targeted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for death.
I'm mean that would be 'suicide' - we'd never do that.

Tom Burka explains why Condi can't testify before the 9/11 Commission

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

If you had any doubts, Fred Kaplan over at Slate tells us precisely why Clarke's accusations are more than merely credible.

Truth Be Damned: Do You See a Pattern Here?

Krugman weighs in.
It's important, when you read the inevitable attempts to impugn the character of the latest whistle-blower, to realize just how risky it is to reveal awkward truths about the Bush administration. When Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress that postwar Iraq would require a large occupation force, that was the end of his military career. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV revealed that the 2003 State of the Union speech contained information known to be false, someone in the White House destroyed his wife's career by revealing that she was a C.I.A. operative. And we now know that Richard Foster, the Medicare system's chief actuary, was threatened with dismissal if he revealed to Congress the likely cost of the administration's prescription drug plan.

The latest insider to come forth, of course, is Richard Clarke, George Bush's former counterterrorism czar and the author of the just-published 'Against All Enemies.'
Of course, Bush officials have to attack Mr. Clarke's character because there is plenty of independent evidence confirming the thrust of his charges.
Still, the administration would like you to think that Mr. Clarke had base motives in writing his book. But given the hawks' dominance of the best-seller lists until last fall, it's unlikely that he wrote it for the money. Given the assumption by most political pundits, until very recently, that Mr. Bush was guaranteed re-election, it's unlikely that he wrote it in the hopes of getting a political job. And given the Bush administration's penchant for punishing its critics, he must have known that he was taking a huge personal risk.

So why did he write it? How about this: Maybe he just wanted the public to know the truth.
It's amazing how many disgruntled, 'out of the loop' former members of this single-term administration are out there.


Where has this guy been?
There comes a time when the truth must trump party loyalty. And surely, when it comes to President Bush's initially disengaged and then dramatically misguided response to international terrorism, that time has now come for Republican members of Congress.
I don't know about you, but I'm not holding my breath.

Trust Me
Let me admit: My view is that Scalia should stay out of any case involving the political interests of this administration. Here, after all, is the man who played such a central role in putting Bush and Cheney into office through that abominable Bush v. Gore decision. How can the kingmaker be expected to offer a fair judgment on the king and his handpicked deputy?
This is a scandal. Because of ideological connivance across the branches of our political system, we are abandoning the checks and balances that make our government work. Scalia put aside his own long-standing convictions on issues involving states' rights and equal protection to find a way to put Bush and Cheney in office. Now he says we shouldn't worry that he is friendly with the guy whose case he is deciding in the middle of another election campaign.

Citing past rulings, Scalia wrote in his apologia that his "recusal would be required if, by reason of the actions described above, my 'impartiality might reasonably be questioned.' " True, Scalia's impartiality can't be questioned. It can't even be imagined. The justice's memo makes clear that he's in the wrong line of work.[Nitpicker emphasis]

The Preznit's Criminal Defense

Bush and his cohorts attack Clarke and claim innocence without offering any 'proof', much like a criminal defendant. To be sure, just like criminal a defendant, he (they) needn't offer proof of innocence nor does he (they) have to testify before the 9/11 commission. It remains to be seen, however, whether like most defendants who offer no proof and refuse to testify he'll they'll) be found 'guilty' in the court of public opinion and the electorate.

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has strongly criticised George Bush and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war to oust Saddam Hussein based on 'lies or misinterpretations'. The 2002 Nobel peace prize winner said Mr Blair had allowed his better judgement to be swayed by Mr Bush's desire to finish a war that his father had started.

More criticism from another partisan hack I suppose.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Lack of Imagination
December 1994 -Air France Flight 8969...During the intense standoff, authorities learned that the aircraft was laden with more than twenty sticks of dynamite and the GIA planned to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris, blowing it up.

September 2001-Planes as Weapons? inconceivable...This was followed by Condoleeza Rice, who repeated the spin: 'I don't think that anyone could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center.'

March 22, 2004 -Train security in this country is being increased. On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced plans aimed to prevent the kind of attack that occurred in Spain.
Just a thought ... would it be too much to ask that our terrorism experts think outside the box? If I'm in the CIA or FBI or another agency and am in any way involved in assessing/preventing terrorist threat(s) I might spend some time trying to conceive of every possible way in which a terrorist act could be affected. Run risk and probability assessments, etc. Why is it that the terrorists apparently have more imagination? Can't be ETA or al Queda if it's not consistent with their M.O. Planes had been used as weapons; trains have been targets. Geesh, they can't even imagine modes that have already been used. Hey, but we're at 'Burt' level - feelin' safer yet?

FDA: Antidepressants May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Warning: consumption may result in suicide.
Hey, I'm not makin' this up.

WSJ: News to Them
WASHINGTON --Shortly after a passenger jet crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers raced back to the military headquarters from a meeting on Capitol Hill. The four-star general, acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that day, went directly to the Pentagon's command center. With smoke spreading into the cavernous room, he ordered the officer in charge, Maj. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, to raise the military's alert status to Defcon III, the highest state of readiness since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

That account is based on interviews with Gen. Winfield and a former White House official. In the months after Sept. 11, President Bush had a different public explanation about who put the military on high alert. The president said publicly at least twice that he gave the order. During a town-hall meeting in Orlando on Dec. 4, 2001, Mr. Bush said that after the attacks, 'one of the first acts I did was to put our military on alert.'

As that suggests, despite intense attention paid to Sept. 11, public understanding of that day -- how government officials responded, what went smoothly and what didn't -- remains shrouded in confusion and misunderstanding. The independent commission appointed to study the terror strikes has said it considers piecing together a minute-by-minute picture of that day's events crucial to its task of deciding whether the country needs to take further steps to prepare for potential future crises.
On top of things as usual.

Spain Soft on Terror?
MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish investigators questioned Arab suspects about Madrid train bombings in court on Monday and police arrested four others in trying to break open a plot that killed 202 people and may be linked to al Qaeda.

Fourteen men are now being held in the simultaneous bombing of four commuter trains in the Spanish capital on March 11. Most of the suspects are Moroccans allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
I wish they'd stop appeasing terrorists.

Shorter Condi Rice on Today

If I talk very quickly and forcefully, not allowing Matt Lauer to interrupt me, I can convince Americans that Clinton and his administration, including Richard Clark are to blame, without actually denying our fixation on Iraq. On the other hand, it's quite telling that when asked if Sharon had called Bush in advance of the assassination of Ahmed Yassin, her answer was simply "No" - a first to the best of my recollection. The form of denial is telling.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

Temper, Temper Temperance
MANAMA (Reuters) - Some 100 Bahraini Islamists shouting 'God is Greatest' stormed a French restaurant serving alcohol in the pro-Western Gulf Arab state and threatened diners with knives, witnesses said on Thursday.

One diner managed to wrest a knife away from the Islamists and stabbed one with it, causing him severe injuries, a witness said.

They said the assailants, opposed to the consumption of alcohol banned by Islam, also threw gasoline bombs at customers' cars parked outside the restaurant near the capital Manama late on Wednesday, damaging nine vehicles.

'Abound 100 young men, shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), came to the restaurant carrying knives and shouted at the customers: Why do you drink?,' Jahanshah Bakhtiar, owner of La Terrasse Restaurant, told Reuters.

'They were acting as if they had the right ideas and people should obey them,' he said, adding that there were about 40 customers in the restaurant.
It's a good thing the bar didn't have a ban on smoking - you wouldn't want to piss these guys off.

Double Whammy
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- A 60-year-old man was struck by a slow-moving train as he walked home from work, and then a car slammed into the ambulance that was to take him to the hospital. The man escaped both accidents with minor injuries.
I don't think you want to be on a golf course with this guy if a storm is within a 1000 mile radius.

It would appear Stephen Hadley (see March Madness post below) isn't the only one having difficulty defending Bush's Iraq Policy

Settlin' Old Scorestories
Not content with digging up Billy the Kid's mother to settle a debate over the outlaw's fate, now local sheriffs want to exhume the remains under the Kid's gravestone. And since New Mexico's governor appointed a lawyer to represent the Old West outlaw, one of the petitioners seeking the exhumation of Billy the Kid is ... Billy the Kid.

The petition, filed in New Mexico's 10th District Court last Thursday, opens the latest chapter in a 123-year-old mystery: Who's buried in Billy the Kid's grave?"
The sheriffs started the legal action last November by petitioning a judge for the exhumation of Catherine Antrim, the mother. The judge put that case on hold until August ? but signaled that it didn't make much sense to take a sample of the mother's DNA unless other remains were sampled as well.

That's why De Baca County Sheriff Gary Graves, Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan and his assistant, Steve Sederwall, filed last week's petition for the Kid's exhumation. The three officials were joined by Bill Robins III and David Sandoval, attorneys appointed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to represent the Kid's interests.
One would think that Bill Richardson might have more pressing issues.

March Madness and 'The Day That Changed Everything'
Midway through the first half, as Xavier fell behind, 23-13 , Matta took Chalmers aside during a timeout and told him to relax. 'They were keying on him early, and I talked to him about being patient, that his shots would come,' Matta said.

Chalmers responded by scoring 12 of the Musketeers' last 20 points of the half and guiding them to a 34-33 halftime lead. Finn created a surge of momentum by heaving in a halfcourt shot at the horn.
Chalmers again epitomized the fall and rise of Xavier this season, scoring a career-high 31 points and rallying the Musketeers from a 10-point first-half deficit. Chalmers sank 11 of 13 shots, Dedrick Finn scored 22 points and the freshman Justin Doellman added 12 as Xavier, seeded seventh, defeated Mississippi State by hitting 68 percent of its 3-point attempts (13 of 19).

"I don't know if anybody in the country could have beaten Xavier today," Mississippi State Coach Rick Stansbury said. "When you come out and have your starters shoot the way they did, you have no chance." [Nitpicker emphasis]
What, you might ask does the Xavier v. Mississippi State ball game have to do with 9/11? Well, Dedrick Finn was unable to make his recruitment trip to Missisippi State in September of 2001 because of the grounding of all flights in the aftermath of 9/11 (guess he didn't have any Saudi or Bush connections) -he signed with Xavier and, the rest, as they say, is history. On a related note I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the commercials that aired during the games since Thursday. Particularly those that were divided between Army recruitment and the 60 minutes 'teaser'. You know, the teaser that asks, "Who says that Bush dropped the ball in the war on terror? Why, one of his own former advisors." Almost subliminal -repeated over and over and over again throughout the games to an audience not paying direct attention and many of whom would not likely watch 60 minutes. The best unpaid advertising the Kerry campaign could have received, except, of course, for the 60 minutes broadcast itself, where Clarke was brilliant. It's always difficult to tell from a teaser, how hardhitting an entire piece may be (e.g., the stong lead-in for former Treasury Secretary O'Nell's interview relative to his wishy-washy performance). Clark was not only believable, articulate and strong in the interview but his view was totally consistent with Bush's own words (as shown) about not being able to separate al Queda from Iraq and Saddam. Furthermore, Stephen Hadley (National Security council) was incredible in his effort to defend Bush. Per usual for this Administration, as they cannot denie the charges (because of course, as usual, they're true), Hadley states "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the pResident ever took place". He is somewhat taken aback when Ms. Stahl informs him that they did some investigating and have not just one but two corroborating sources, one of whom was a witness to the conversation. Can you say ...tumblin'?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Duck, Duck, Judicial Quack

Fat Tony the Scumbag Scalia says I sat on Bush v. Gore, I see no reason to recuse my fat ass from the Cheney Case

Bush Wants Kerry to Identify Supporters So He Can Invade Them

Excerpt from Mad Guerilla Brigade Via Uggabugga
WASHINGTON, DC (MGB) - President Bush challenged Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Tuesday to identify who he is talking about when he claims that some foreign leaders privately support him over Bush.

'You don't just walk around letting your mouth write checks your ass can't cash,' Bush said from the Oval Office this morning. 'I'd like to know what foreign leaders think Kerry would do a better job than me, I'll be on them like a west Texas dust storm. I got about a 50 gallon drum of whoop ass left over from Iraq, that I've been dying to dump all over somebody. I'm a mushroom cloud layin' motherfucker, motherfucker...literally.'

Insiders say the invasion of Iraq came shortly after the Bush Administration learned of Saddam's personal blog and his intention to back Kerry in the primaries. The blog,, never came to fruition thanks to the quick work of the Bush team but insiders say the world impact would have been enormous.
Go enjoy the whole thang.

Krugman tells us who is weak on terror, while Jimmy Breslin says Bush may see the whites of those Irish Eyes this June but they'll likely not be smilin'.

What They Don't Talk About
Mental-health survey briefing canceled
A briefing on the results of a mental health survey of troops in Iraq was abruptly canceled Monday because military officials said they did not want bad news to come out on the eve of the anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, congressional sources said.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Via Army Times
WASHINGTON - National park superintendents are being told to cut back on services— possibly even closing smaller, historic sites a couple days a week or shutter visitor centers on federal holidays — without letting on they are making cuts.
"He suggested that if you feel you must inform the public ... not to directly indicate that 'this is a cut' in comparison to last year's operation," she continued. "We all agreed to use the terminology of 'service level adjustment' due to fiscal constraints as a means of describing what actions we are taking."[Nitpicker emphasis]
Transparent democracy; don't ya' just love it.

We still sort of, maybe have Osama's sidekick, or some 'high-level target', surrounded on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Top of the ... well, I guess it's no longer mornin'. I hope you all had a grand St. Paddy's Day.

What Kind of a Sick Mind ...
A 41-year-old woman who snapped pictures rather than help a hanging child down from his jury-rigged noose was found guilty of child neglect in a Broward courtroom Wednesday.

Jurors took a little more than an hour and were near deadlock halfway through their deliberations, causing one juror to request to be taken off the panel. That request was denied and the jurors returned their guilty verdict without commenting.

As a small 15-year-old youth was hanging by a woven black leather belt four years ago, Sandra Trotter snapped photos but didn't try to save him. He was still alive.

Jurors viewed copies of those photos, visual documents in a criminal trial that may further stain Florida's juvenile justice system as it copes with continuing fallout from a youth's death in a Miami-Dade lockup.

Trotter was a counselor at a shelter for runaways and troubled youths, the Lippman Center in Oakland Park.

''Time's passing, time's passing. That child is still hanging there,'' prosecutor Dennis Siegel told jurors during opening statements. ``She chose not to help that child, but instead chose to take not one, not two, not three, but instead four Polaroid photos of a hanging child.''

Anthony Dumas, 15, was taken down by a police officer. He died four months later in a hospital bed.
Neglect. She was found guilty of neglect.

Considerate Would-be Assassins
Cape Town - A man is dead and two others are being interrogated after a foiled attack on former president Nelson Mandela's Cape Town home.
Senior superintendent Selby Bokaba said three attackers approached the house in Forestry Road about 17:00.

"A black man, an Indian and a coloured man walked toward the gate. They asked to speak to Archbishop Desmond Tutu."

Bokaba said the guard explained that Tutu didn't live there, but that it was Mandela's house.

The men insisted on talking to Mandela.

They claimed they had information about people who planned to disrupt next month's elections, which they wanted to pass on to him. The guard said he would call his commander.

Two of the men walked back to their vehicle. The third followed them to the car, but then turned around and walked back to the guard's hut.

Shot dead

"He took out an R-4 assault rifle, cocked it and pointed it at the guard. Before he could pull the trigger, police opened fire and shot him dead," said Bokaba.

Meanwhile, the other two suspects tried to flee in a red Uno with the registration number CA 270 579.

Private security guards who work in the area said just then another team of the national protection unit had turned into the street where Mandela lived. They stopped the Uno and arrested the two men.
Via Truthout

Hey, at least they attempted to make sure they had the right place.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A college student with apparent connections to a radical environmentalist group was ordered held without bail Wednesday to face federal charges he firebombed 125 sport utility vehicles.
You're an environmentalist and you choose to make a statement be destroying all these SUVs in a manner that results in tremendous chemical and air pollution. All right, then.

The Result of Shoddy Science
Richard Allen Williams spent 14 months in jail accused of 10 murders at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, Mo., only to be freed after authorities decided that incriminating lab tests were faulty.
On June 3, 2002, prosecutors filed charges against Williams, accusing him of injecting the muscle relaxant to paralyze his victims so they could not breathe. He was arrested the same day.

All the victims died on the hospital's Ward 4E, and all while Williams was on duty. The charges capped nearly 10 years of investigation into more than 40 deaths.

Then, 14 months after the charges were brought, Crane announced that he had received a new report from Ballard, saying the chemical succinylmonocholine could have entered the tissue samples from some unknown source.
Williams' attorneys, Maurice Graham and Morry Cole, say in the suit that National Medical and Ballard failed to test their methodology, leading to repeated "false positives."

In addition, the suit says that the defendants failed to realize that their method did not take into account "background" levels of succinylmonocholine. That failure could have been avoided if they had used "accepted and customary professional care," the suit says.
Any valid scientific method should employ internal controls to allow for quantification of a substance and determination if the levels are significantly above what would normally be seen. Without additional information one can't say that normal presence of low levels of this substance necessarily negates the findings (e.g., most of us have blood glucose levels in 'normal' ranges while diabetics may be identified by levels significantly over those levels hence significantly; large quantities could still be evidence of the 'introduction' of the compound). Personally, call me a skeptic but my belief in coincidence doesn't extend to 40 deaths on the same ward with the same staff in attendence. The science is shoddy nonetheless. So, either an innocent man was wrongly incarcerated for 14 months and may receive multimillion dollar compensation or a guilty man is let free and potentially rewarded with millions. The result of shoddy science is never good.

What a Difference

NEW YORK (AP) A woman apparently collapsed and died while giving her 3-year-old son a bath , and the boy then drowned in the tub, police said Wednesday.

Rosilyn Hines, 51, had been bathing her son, Robbie, in the bathtub of their apartment in Queens, police said.

According to a police report, Robbie was found face down in the tub and Hines was slumped over nearby. She apparently had tried to grab a towel rack for support and pulled it off the wall, the report said.
A 3-year-old boy drowned in a bathtub, probably after his mother suffered a fatal heart attack in their Queens home and fell on top of him, law enforcement sources said yesterday.
Ah, accuracy in reporting. While it's clear from the second report that the tragic accidental death of a child was due to the natural death of the mother, the first report has us wondering why a 3 year-old who would be perfectly capable of getting out of a bathtub would be found drowned in the tub.

Preznit Rejected
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Wednesday rebuffed an appeal from President Bush to stand by the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq (news - web sites), which he described as a 'fiasco.'

'I will listen to Mr Bush but my position is very clear and very firm,' Zapatero told Onda Cero radio. 'The occupation is a fiasco. There have been almost more deaths after the war than during the war.'
But Zapatero insisted his stance on Iraq was not a reaction to the rush-hour train attacks, but rather a point of principle.

"Fighting terrorism with bombs, with operations of 'shock and awe', with missiles, that does not combat terrorism it only generates more radicalism," the 43-year-old Socialist leader said.

"The way to fight terrorism is with the rule of law, with international legislation, with intelligence services," he said. "This is what the international community should be talking about."
I think the pResident should have to list the names of foreign leaders who wish to see him reelected. Can you be tough on terrorism and against the Iraqi invasion? Unlike the Administration, others don't have difficulty separating Iraq from the war on terror -as one has very little, if anything, to do with the other.

Leaving Las Vegas - Ohio Sniper Nabbed
The man suspected in two dozen sniper shootings that have terrorized motorists along Ohio highways was arrested at a Las Vegas motel early Wednesday, authorities said.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, was taken into custody near the Stardust casino two days after he was named as a suspect in the Columbus-area shootings, said Las Vegas police Lt. Christopher Van Cleef.

'We got him in custody without incident,' Van Cleef said.

Police were told of McCoy's whereabouts by a person who recognized him from media reports, Van Cleef said. Las Vegas police said they staked out McCoy's motel and arrested him after he identified himself.
Guess the America's Most Wanted strategy worked.

A Miserable Failure On So Many Levels
Spain's support of the Iraq War didn't protect it from international terrorism. Why should anyone believe that regime change in Baghdad has made any other nation safer?

The March 11 attack is the starkest proof yet that the so-called Bush Doctrine -- concocted to justify the invasion of Iraq -- has precious little to do with the worldwide campaign against organized terrorism.
It forces one to question America's priorities since Sept. 11, 2001. What has the Bush Doctrine -- by which America reserves the right to attack any sovereign nation if doing so is perceived to be in our national-security interest -- done to address the threat of terrorism?
The Bush Doctrine is largely toothless in either case. Preemptively attacking sovereign nations isn't likely to crush a terrorist organization that skulks in the shadows; that would be about as practical as bombing a city to kill its roaches.

Nor does preemptive war hold much promise against WMDs. There will be times when a tactical strike on a suspected weapons facility would be appropriate, but preemptive general war would more likely compel the target nation to use WMDs as a last resort. The world is lucky that Saddam Hussein had nothing to launch when we attacked.
The world certainly is better off without Hussein, but the March 11 attack casts doubt on whether the world is any safer.[Nitpicker emphasis]
As the questions get asked ...tumblin'

If You're Not With Us... You're Off The Air
The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and the economy aren't winning issues for Bush. But a manufactured culture war about how raunchy America is has become a hot button.

And it makes Stern an easy target.

"That's how the whole thing started," Stern said. "I mistakenly opened my mouth about my political views that didn't agree with [those of] the president of Clear Channel."

That would be John Hogan, head of the company that is the largest owner of radio properties in the United States, with thousands of stations across the country.

When Stern became critical of Bush in the aftermath of the Janet Jackson incident, it didn't sit well with Hogan or the owners of Clear Channel, the Mays family, who are also major Bush supporters.

So, when Clear Channel was fined a record amount last month for the sins of another shock jock, Bubba the Love Sponge of Tampa, the company showed how seriously it took its penance and adherence to the "new standards." In a preemptive move, Clear Channel pulled Stern's income-producing show off the air in the six cities in which it aired the program. (Infinity continues to broadcast the program on many other radio stations.)

"There's only one thing you can do," said Stern. "Remember me in November when you're in the voting booth. I'm asking you to do me one favor. Vote against Bush. That's it."

Can Stern become that powerful a force to sway an electorate? In the era of Arnold Schwarzenegger and disgruntled electorates, if I were Bush, I wouldn't want to test it.
Test it. Please test it. Make our day.

Another 'Shooting'
When three Interstate 80 commuters reported that they had been in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle Tuesday morning in Solano County, authorities closed the freeway, summoned a SWAT team and had media helicopters zero in on the suspect's license plate.

Law officers arrested Rickey Roy Badgley, 51, almost two hours later after a standoff, only to discover he was targeting motorists with a video camera fitted with a high-powered lens, not a rifle fitted with a high-powered scope. They released him late Tuesday afternoon.

Irreverent George Weighs In On Indecency
'What I always remind people is, radio and television and ? as it happens ? newspapers and magazines too, are advertising media. ... When you have commercialism involved you have the kind of fear that advertisers are very afraid of offending some potential customer. They don't want to lose a sale. So they have this need to inspect and clean up and watch the content in order not to hurt their own sales. It's based on success at the cash register.

"And yet, they're very inconsistent_ on that Super Bowl broadcast of Janet Jackson's there was also a commercial about a 4-hour erection. A lot of people were saying about Janet Jackson, 'How do I explain to my kids? We're a little family, we watched it together ...' And, well, what did you say about the other thing? These are convenient targets."

He also thinks President Bush is trying to placate right-wing voters.
It was almost as many years ago that a high school friend gave me two tickets (front row seats) to see George Carlin in concert. It wasn't until we arrrived at the theatre that we discovered Kenny Rankin was going to be the 'warm-up'. We loved that 'string man' and he gave such a wonderful performance we didn't care if George ever came on stage. But then George came on and I have to say, in all these years, my jaw has never been in so much exquisite pain - I have never laughed that hard. Today, I still remember many of his routines. He pondered the more important questions of life, such as why is it that mothers are so dramatic? Kids were never merely going to get hurt, say break a leg, but rather "get down from there or you'll break your neck", "You could put someone's eye out with that stick". I still recall the period of time when everything had been declared a potential carcinogen and Red Dye No. 3 had been taken off the market. George, as a spokesman for the FDA, announced a new study showed that "saliva, when swallowed in small quantities, over a long time period, can cause cancer." Funny man.

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

CNN asks:
Should John Kerry identify the foreign leaders who he says want President Bush defeated? Tell them what you think.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

So Many Questions, So Little Time
George W. Bush's most memorable day as President was Sept. 14, 2001, when he stood in the rubble of the World Trade Center, holding a bullhorn in one hand, his other arm slung over the shoulder of a veteran fire fighter from central casting.
It is the memory the Republicans want you to carry into the voting booth. It is why the Republican Convention will be held in New York City this year. And it may also be why the White House has been so reluctant to cooperate with the independent commission investigating the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It is easy to cast blame in hindsight. Even if Bush had been obsessed with the terrorist threat, 9/11 might not have been prevented. But the PResident's apparent lack of rigor—his incuriosity about an enemy that had attacked American targets overseas and had attempted an attack at home—raises a basic question about the nature and competence of this Administration. And that is not a question the Republicans want you to take to the polls in November.[Nitpicker emphasis]
We must not let the Repugnicans dictate this debate.

Sniper ID'd but Not Caught
Police on Monday >identified a suspect in the two dozen random, sniper-style attacks along central Ohio highways and asked for the public's help in apprehending him.

The suspect, Charles McCoy, Jr., was described as white, 28 years old, and the owner of a dark green Chevrolet Geo Metro with a black hood, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said.

The car, with Ohio license plate number CGV 7387, matches the description of a vehicle spotted by witnesses parked on highway overpasses, where the sniper is thought to have fired shots at passing cars.

'I don't know if he's still local (in the area). What I'm saying is, we have no reason to believe he has left the area,' Chief Deputy Steve Martin told reporters.

Martin would not say how investigators identified McCoy as a suspect, but said he should be considered 'armed and dangerous,' adding police believed he recently purchased another gun.

'The key issue for us is to locate this guy. When we do, we'll tell you more,' he said.
I guess this is the America's Most Wanted strategy for catching the guy -hope it works.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Are We Safer Now?

Evidently a new function for employees of the Department of Homeland Security is to ...
keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.
Via Musing's musings; Here's the Time's article.

Can this be legal? Forgive me - dumb question.

Hesiod over at Counterspin Central has a good pointer for Kerry on what his reaction should be in response to the New Spanish Prime Minister's position on Iraq.

Update: Not Only AWOL But Unreliable

David Neiwert at Orcinus has the scoop.

Simple Compliance
Vice President Dick Cheney said Americans deserved to know what Kerry was telling the unidentified foreign leaders to purportedly attract their support.

At a fund-raiser in Phoenix, Cheney noted that Kerry had told a heckler who demanded identities of the foreign leaders: ''That's none of your business.''

''But it is our business when a candidate for president claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders,'' Cheney said at the fund-raiser for Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz. ''At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to them that makes them so supportive of his candidacy.''[Nitpicker emphaisis]
I have to agree with Dickhead here. This should be easy enough ... I told them, Hi, I'm John Kerry, and I'm running for President of the United States.

It's for Your Own Good
The Herald's recent report that police officers are monitoring the activities of hip-hop stars and their associates is stirring up chilling memories for black Americans and music historians.
"There's a whole history of all kinds of horrible actions between the police and specifically young black males, and also a broader community,'' DeCurtis said. ``Anything that seems like it's not being done exactly on the book is cause for concern.''

Miami and Miami Beach police argue that one of their goals is to protect the artists. Several high-profile rappers have died violently over the years.

''What would law enforcement be if we closed our eyes?'' Miami Beach Assistant Police Chief Charles Press said. ``Our job is to know as much about things that could hurt innocent people.''

The police have not solved the murders of Tupac Shakur, the Notorious BIG and Jam Master Jay. And today's activities raise parallels to the FBI's Cointelpro tactics against black activists in the '60s and '70s.

'I don't believe for a moment, given my life, when I'm told that `we're focusing on a bunch of black people and really that's OK,' because I've never seen that work well,'' said hip-hop journalist and historian Harry Allen. ``I don't feel safer for this.''[Nitpicker emphasis]
How is that violation of our constitutional rights is always in our best interest.

It's Catching
Last November, the Bush administration and congressional GOP leadership did some extraordinary arm-twisting to pass a Medicare prescription-drug plan that President Bush wanted as a centerpiece of his re-election. Republican conservatives were particularly reluctant to pass the bill, given its $400 billion price tag over the next 10 years at a time when the deficit is soaring.
Two months after the critical vote in Congress, the White House finally admitted the truth, after a fashion. It announced that it was shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that the actual cost of the Medicare bill had zoomed to $534 billion.

"That really is a shocker," Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the anti-deficit Concord Coalition, said at the time. "It's a huge change. If a number like this had been floating around the Capitol last fall, it never would have passed."


What we have here is government by willful deception, a scandal compounded by the fact that ethical public servants were actually intimidated into not doing their jobs. And unfortunately, it is only part of a pattern of such behavior.

Three weeks before the crucial congressional vote committing this country to war against Iraq in 2002, the Bush administration had learned that North Korea had restarted its nuclear weapons program, a fact that dramatically altered the nation's strategic situation. With that news, the possibility of a military conflict on the Korean peninsula rose sharply.

Members of Congress needed that information if they were to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities wisely; with that knowledge, they might have been less likely to commit our troops to Iraq, where roughly half of the Army is now deployed. But the administration chose to keep Congress in the dark about the information until after the Iraq vote had been cast.

Again, in the days leading up to the war vote, administration officials told Congress it had no idea what a war would cost. When Lawrence Lindsey, then head of the White House's National Economic Council, let it slip that it would probably cost somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion -- far higher than unofficial estimates by the Pentagon at the time, and in the end pretty accurate -- it led to his dismissal.

Even now, the administration is playing the game again by refusing to include the cost of occupying Iraq in the 2005 budget it has submitted to Congress, a ploy that keeps the projected 2005 deficit artificially low. That budget takes effect Oct. 1, yet the White House says it won't release its request for additional money until January, long after people have cast their ballots.

Apparently, the White House finds the specter of well-informed voters pretty frightening.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Yeah, we're a spectre to be reckoned with, baby. As more journalists write ... tumblin'.

Ari's Got a New Corner
In this city of politics and power, influence is everything. And if the White House and Capitol Hill are two of the main points of this nexus, K Street is a third.

It is on K Street, of course, that many of the lobbyists and political consultants make their home. And while you'll be lucky to find it mentioned in any guide-book - despite the recent eponymous television drama produced by heart-throb George Clooney - there are few places in the Western world that wield as much influence as this east/west throughfare.

Remember when Howard Dean, the one-time Democratic front-runner, used to rail against the influence of Washington lobbyists? Remember when he used to complain of how lobbyists were buying up politicians on Capitol Hill? He meant the folk on K Street. K Street should not be taken literally. These days lobbyists have their offices all over the city and the term has become shorthand for the industry as a whole.

But some of the biggest names are still there on the boulevard once known as 'Gucci gulch' because of its well-heeled employees and expense-account restaurants. One of the latest big names to join the lobbying industry is Ari Fleischer, former spokesman for George W Bush. The man who went to unnatural lengths to avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question is setting up a communications consultancy.

Apparently, he charges $30,000 (£17,000) a month and demands a two-year contract for advising clients 'how to think through their various activities'. It is a nice little earner since it's a job he handles between writing his memoirs and giving speeches at thousands of dollars a turn.

There is still talk about reducing K Street's influence. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee apparent, said that if elected he would sign an order to bar former government officials from becoming lobbyists for five years.[Nitpicker emphasisi]
And I thought he wanted to spend time with the family. Take a deep breath Scotty, maybe it will be worth it after all.

Bubble-GumTrade Concessions
SINGAPORE - As of Thursday, people chewing gum in Singapore will no longer be arrested -as long as they're blowing bubbles obtained with a doctor's prescription.

The southeast Asian city-state is backing down slightly on its 12-year ban of the import, manufacture and use of chewing gum, by allowing the sale of "therapeutic" brands.

Those include Nicorette, the nicotine substitute used by smokers trying to quit, and certain types of sugar-free gum recommended by dentists and oral surgeons.

The clause was negotiated as part of a free-trade agreement with the United States, which is still lobbying for other kinds of chewing gum to be allowed.

Undergound Railroad
Anyone who has boarded an Amtrak train since Sept. 11, 2001, must wonder how long the delusion can last. How easy it is to waltz into a teeming station 10 minutes before departure, pull your ticket from a machine and glide onto the train without any inspection of your ID or your bags. Your shoes are of no interest to anyone. It's as if Amtrak has been exempted from modernity, and all the fuzzy charm of taking the train remains untouched by time.
What makes trains useful is what makes them devilishly hard to secure: many doors, high volumes of passengers and thousands of miles of lonely tracks. "I hear people saying it is virtually impossible to make public transport in the U.S. secure," says a former government railway official. "That's wrong. It is impossible."
What, if any, effect the terrorist attack in Madrid has on train travel in the U.S. remains to be seen. However, an attack on a train in the US would likely be the downfall of Amtrack.

It's Madness

A No. 1 Seed?

I'm in agreement with Packer on this one - you have to look at more than just regular season undefeated status, the strength of their schedule didn't argue for a number one seeding. Prove us wrong Martelli.

We're Outta Here, Amigo
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's incoming leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero indicated on Monday he would pull his troops out of the 'disastrous' occupation of Iraq in a major swing from his predecessor's pro-American foreign policy.

The European Union, concerned by growing signs that Thursday's Madrid train bombings may have been carried out by Islamist militants, called emergency counter-terrorism talks.
Show of hands ...who would have liked to have been a 'fly on the wall' when the pResident called to 'congratulate' Zapatero -we thought pretzels were a problem for him.

Catchin' up

This was stupid; this is why.

Do I think Kerry is fabricating the foreign support? Of course not and neither does the Administration. But we all know those foreign leaders are not at liberty to come out with a public declaration of support. Look at how Germany, France and Canada were penalized for not supporting the warmonger's Iraqi invasion -imagine the repercussions if they publicly stated they'd love to see him ousted. Should the disintegration of relations with our allies be an issue for the presidential campaign? It is a valid issue and one on which the unelectable is most certainly vulnerable. However, there are other viable mechanisms for making this argument such as recent surveys that demonstrate Bush is less than favorably viewed in other countries. Intead Kerry has a claim out there for which he cannot offer support -stupid.

One down. Who's Next? Him, or him, or him?

Ethical dilemma?

The quality of U.S. Intelligence.

Show Us the Money Evidence, eh?
Canadian officials say they challenged the U.S. to share secret intelligence showing that the Baghdad regime had dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war, but Washington failed to deliver, thus cementing the Chrétien government's resolve to stay out of the conflict.

Washington's refusal to share raw intelligence with its close ally seemed puzzling at the time, one senior official said. But a year later, the reason now seems clear: 'They didn't have any evidence.'[Nitpicker emphasis]
This, from CBS - wow.

Same Song, Different Verse
Weapons experts outside the Pentagon have argued that there is no imminent threat that would justify the program's huge expenditures, up $1.2 billion from the previous year, and the deployment of a system whose capabilities are unknown. Some critics say they see only one thing on the horizon that could be driving such a breakneck schedule: a presidential election season.[Nitpicker emphasis]
All of the 'investigation' reports aren't due 'til after the election but deployment of a nonfunctional weapons system - that's time-critical.

Rumsfeld and FBI Officials Raid Crime Scene for 'souvenirs'.

French General says, We were that close.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Three Strikes
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan


Q Scott, is the White House going to dump Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: From what?

Q The perspective nomination?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, in terms of personnel announcements, you know I never speculate on those. We are moving forward to appoint the Assistant Secretary for -- at the Department of Commerce who would be responsible for the manufacturing and services sector.

Q Is his name Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been no final decision made at this point. If you'll recall, this was a position that was just established January 23rd of this year when the President signed into law the legislation creating that position at the Department of Commerce.

Q What is the status of Mr. Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q What is the status of Mr. Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to speculate on personnel announcements just other than to say that in terms of the Assistant Secretary position at the Department of Commerce, we are moving forward quickly to fill that position.


Q What is his participation going to be in the ground breaking ceremony since he's not giving any remarks? He's just going to -- just watch?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's attending -- yes, he's attending -- he's attending the ceremony.

Q No remarks?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he will not be making remarks.

Q Scott, the President has come under criticism from families of the -- of 9/11 for not being as cooperative as he should with the commission and for using images in his ad. Is this going to be a little awkward for him to be there today?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think this is a day to pay tribute to those who tragically lost their lives on September 11th. He is the -- the President is there to pay tribute to those who lost their lives. September 11th is a day that this President never forgets. And that's what this day is about. It's about honoring and paying tribute to the victims of September the 11th. And this President believes one of the best ways to honor those who tragically lost their lives is to make sure we do everything in our power to prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again.

And I would like to just point out that there are many families that have expressed a different view from what you brought up a minute ago.

Q There will be protestors there, and so it's become part of the political debate right now. And does this make it, again, uncomfortable at this point in time to go there with the visit -- has this become hard?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're talking about the President of the United States paying tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11th. September 11th was a day that changed the world we live in. And September 11th is the reason we are a nation at war. And this President will never forget that day.

Q Who are these families who have expressed a different view? Have they written letters? Who are you talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are a number of comments I've seen in the press. There's been a statement put out by a number of families.


Q Scott, one other question. Mr. Greenspan, this morning, before a House Education Committee, endorsed an extension of unemployment benefits. The administration has been opposed to that so far. Is the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't -- I think that -- let me correct the premise of your question. Where has anyone ever said -- made such a statement?

Q Well, do you endorse what Mr. Greenspan said?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is going to be talking about our economy today. The President is optimistic about the direction our economy is moving. And the best thing we can do for those who are looking for work and cannot find a job is to continue taking steps that create as robust an environment as possible for job creation. You heard the President talk yesterday about how we are an economy in transition. And you heard him talk about the trade adjustment assistance we have provided. You heard him talk about the job training resources that we have provided. And you heard him talk about the importance of acting on his 21st century initiative to make sure workers have the skills to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

Obviously, we've always said that -- in terms of the question that you asked -- that we will continue to work with Congress on those issues. But I think that the best way to help those who are out of work is to create an environment for robust job creation. So we've added jobs now for six straight months. The unemployment rate is below the average of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. We've seen a sharp decline in the unemployment rate. But this President recognizes there's more to do and that's why he's continuing to advocate the policies he talked about yesterday.

Q So what about Mr. Greenspan's comments on supporting extension of jobless benefits?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've expressed our view.
It days like these I bet Scotty wishes he could be 'beamed up'