Tuesday, August 31, 2004

More making shit up

Turns out the big busted terrorist cell in Detroit was probably... not.

The Justice Department has asked a judge to throw out the convictions of a suspected terror cell in Detroit because of prosecutorial misconduct, reversing course in a case the Bush administration once hailed as a major victory in the war on terrorism, legal sources said Tuesday.

The department told U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen that it supports the Detroit defendants’ request for a new trial and would no longer pursue charges of material support of terrorism. That means the defendants at most would only face fraud charges at a new trial, the legal sources said.

The department’s decision came after a months-long independent investigation uncovered several pieces of evidence that prosecutors failed to turn over to defense lawyers before the trial last year and exposed deep disputes within the government over the course of the case and the quality of the prosecution’s evidence.

Feeling safer yet?

Lying has no consequences

Man, if you're a republican, you can apparently just make shit up. Check out Josh Marshall for details.

Let's all try it - did you know that Dubya giggles like a girl when Unca Dick spanks him?

Sounds Librul to me

From today's WashPost:

The government of Saudi Arabia is drawing on a multibillion-dollar oil windfall to place hundreds of thousands of young Saudis in jobs traditionally held by foreigners, betting that greater economic opportunities in the kingdom will counter the rising Islamic militancy challenging the royal family.

Does George know his buddy-country is acting like such a sissy-pants? The truly manly action would be to wait until the young Saudis actually, like, became so discouraged and disgruntled that they joined an insurgent gang, so one could exterminate them and then beat one's chest and roar.

Time for the two-minute hate, citizens

The genial big-tenters of the GOP can always be counted on for a waggish bit of humor:

Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.

Morton Blackwell, a prominent Virginia delegate, has been handing out the heart-covered bandages to delegates, who've worn them on their chins, cheeks, the backs of their hands and other places.

Here's Morton Blackwell's online bio... I don't see any military service in the mix, do you? Given his age, that makes him yet another GOP chickenhawk, I think.

I certainly don't recall democrats passing out little quaking, pants-shitting bobbleheads of Bush during their convention - you know, the ones that come with a little plane for flying from military base to hidey-hole on 9/11 - but you can always count on the GOP to find some hate-obilia to peddle to their faithful.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bush vs Clinton vs Bush

From DailyKos:

In case Bush's speechwriters are having a hard time getting a grip on his record, here are some stats to help frame it:

Change, real median household income (2003 adjusted dollars)

Bush II: -$1,535
Clinton: +$5,489
Bush I: -$1,314

Change, number in poverty

Bush II: +4,280,000
Clinton: -6,433,000
Bush I: +6,269,000

Plus, for every Bush in the White House, you get one war. George P. can forget my vote.


Billionaires for Bush.

Well, call me a heathen

From the TNR Republican Convention blog:

Soon after Hagel spoke, the acting state Republican chair--an African-American man in a white cowboy hat named Leon Mosley--urged his delegates, "Let's remember what's paramount in our life: God ... This is the GOP: God's Official Party." At that, the room burst into sustained applause. Behold, the Republican base.

Looks like it's going to be a Houston-style hate-fest again...

Active Duty Military as convention delegates?

From the GOP's own convention website:

About 15 percent of the 4,800-plus delegates and alternates to the convention in New York are veterans, organizers said Monday. An additional 3 percent are active military personnel.

Hmm. Then there's this, direct from DoD:

4.1.2. A member on active duty shall not: Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others. Be a candidate for, hold, or exercise the functions of civil office except as authorized in paragraphs 4.2. and 4.3., below. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).

A delegate is hardly a 'spectator'... So WTF??

the Myth of Productivity

Interesting op-ed in today's LATimes:

Politicians and CEOs like to boast about the productivity of American workers. But here's the dirty little secret: U.S. productivity is No. 1 in the world when productivity is measured as gross domestic product per worker, but our lead vanishes when productivity is measured as GDP per hour worked, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, whose members are the world's 30 most developed nations.

Productivity per hour is higher in France, with the U.S. at about the same level as other advanced European economies. As it turns out, the U.S. "productivity advantage" is just another way of saying that we work more hours than workers in any other industrialized country except South Korea. Is that something to brag about?


Conventional economic theory argues that Americans prefer the higher income gained from working extra hours, while Europeans prefer more family time and leisure. This truth may hold supreme among economists (and business reporters), but study after sociological study contradicts it. Sociologists have long documented that many Americans (men especially) want more family or leisure time and would be willing to sacrifice up to a quarter of their salaries in return.

Much more at link.

Le Mot Juste Du Jour

From Leonard Pitts Jr. who writes:

Having George W. Bush question your military record must feel not unlike having Anna Nicole Smith question your intelligence. Surely, there is a weightless moment of disbelief, a struggle with a level of gall that just does not compute.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Iraq: Vietnam or Viagra?

I think it was David Broder who suggested that boomers were going to be rehashing the arguments of the 1960s well into their dotage. And it appears that he's right. The surprising thing to me, though, is the number of people re-fighting the Vietnam War as a war we should have won - that is, that it was the Pinko Commie Fags protesting the war that lost the war for us.

This is perplexing to me mainly because it ought to be clear, after the period of time that has passed, that Vietnam was indeed a purely optional war; that the causi belli was flat-out wrong. The argument that we had to 'fight them over there' to keep from having to fight them here is apparently a keeper, though, and has been dusted off and re-used quite recently.

In any event, we did not prevail in Vietnam, and the world is not a global communist hegemony today, which pretty much shoots down the dispute right there. None the less, belligerents still call war protesters 'traitors' for challenging our purpose in Vietnam and lessening our 'will to win'. The question needs to be asked - if winning clearly wasn't needed for our national safety, what's the whining about?

Could it be that those who can't let it go feel that our national manhood has somehow been diminished by Vietnam? Suddenly the Iraqi incursion takes on new meaning; perhaps certain chickenhawks, notable for eschewing actual combat themselves, felt that winning an optional war would restore them to adequacy again.

Unfortunately, the lessons of the Cold War don't appear to have conveyed; then the enemy was 'communism', an ideology. Now the enemy is Islamic Fundamentalism (not 'terrorists', which only describes a technique), also an ideology. Rather than fighting an ideology with (duh!) ideas, which is proven to work, we chose the one SECULAR dictatorship in the area to prove our national manhood on.

I leave it as an exercise to the student to explain Abu Ghraib.

Doc, it hurts when I do this...

"Then don't do that."

Yes, the government's response to data that shows that students at charter schools do worse on standardized tests than students at public schools is... to stop collecting data on charter schools. One official is quoted: "There is nothing sinister or untoward about this."

You don't like the answer, stop asking the question. I guess it is true: Ignorance is Bliss.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Nice Guys...

This article has more on the investigation at the Pentagon, including:

That analyst, Larry Franklin, works for Feith's deputy, William Luti, and served as an important - albeit low-profile - advisor on Iran issues to Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Franklin, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who lives in West Virginia, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Investigators are said to be looking at whether Franklin acted with authorization from his superiors, one official said.


Franklin's name surfaced in news reports last year when it became known that he and another Pentagon Middle East specialist, Harold Rhode, met in late 2001 with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms merchant who played a role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said publicly last year that nothing came of the meeting, which reportedly was brokered by former National Security Council official Michael Ledeen.

Ledeen is famously quoted as suggesting: " Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Book Rec

With Vietnam on everyone's minds, I thought I'd recommend a recent read of an older ('88) book; The Healer's War, by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. The author is better known for her rather 'lite' fantasies about contemporary fairy godmothers, but this book is a significant departure for her. Drawing on her experiences as an army nurse in Vietnam, she tells a 'realistic-fantasy' tale of a similar nurse, also deployed to Vietnam. Evocative of M*A*S*H and China Beach without the slapstick, nurse Kitty wonders what she's doing there, questions her nursing and military vocation, and contends with military bureaucracy at its most maddeningly idiotic. Sympathetic to the Vietnamese who are also treated at the army hospital, she is bequeathed an ancient amulet by an elderly holy man. She discovers that wearing the amulet allows her to see people's 'auras', which both causes her to doubt her sanity and becomes a useful source of information. When the martinet that takes over the hospital orders all the 'gooks' to be released, cured or not, she wangles a helicopter flight from an old boyfriend for herself and a young Vietnamese amputee, meaning to get the boy to some people who will take care of him. Of course the helicopter is shot down, killing the pilot and navigator, and Kitty and young Aun find themselves lost in the jungle, unsure who to trust and how to find their way to safety. A very gripping read, and recommended especially for everyone too young to remember Vietnam.

This book won the Nebula award from the Science Fiction Writers of America in '89.


Go read Josh Marshall right now.

Rudy needs reminding

From today's WashPost, Rudy Guliani says of Bush:

"During the worst day of my life, the worst days of my life, President Bush stood by us," Giuliani said in his introduction.

Maybe it was the worst day of your life, Rudy. It was probably the worst day of many people's lives. But don't forget; it was the luckiest day of Bush's life.

Meanwhile, back in the here and now...

The number of Americans living in poverty or lacking health insurance rose for the third straight year in 2003, the Census Bureau announced yesterday, reflecting a job market that failed to match otherwise strong economic growth.


As expected, the number of people without health insurance grew last year, to 45 million -- an increase to 15.6 percent from 15.2 percent. White adults, primarily in the South, accounted for most of the increase. The proportion of people receiving health insurance through an employer fell to 60.4 percent, the lowest level in a decade, from 61.3 percent.

More at link.

How long until the first RNC talking points start circulating blaming this on the Clinton Administration?

Vietnam resonances

Read this lengthy article in the LA Weekly about soldiers relocating to Canada to avoid Iraq. Excerpt:

...A poll last year by Stars and Stripes, the semiofficial armed-forces newspaper, reported that 31 percent of responding soldiers in Iraq thought the war there was of little or no value. Considering also that many of those currently serving in Iraq are being kept there on extended tours of duty, it’s likely some of them may decide to go AWOL once they’re finally allowed back stateside.

Meanwhile, the first waves of Iraq War veterans have begun returning home — and some of them are deeply disillusioned. Early this summer, Michael Hoffman, a 25-year-old former Marine, founded Iraq Veterans Against the War — a group of some two dozen service members whose name speaks for itself. “We were given three reasons for this war: weapons of mass destruction, Saddam’s support of terror and Iraqi democracy,” says Hoffman, who fought with an artillery unit in the initial invasion. “All three have fallen through. Eventually you start to put two and two together, and you realize that you’re there for oil and companies like Halliburton. People are starting to figure it out. There will inevitably be more deserters. We’re set on the same course as Vietnam if this continues.”

Jeremy Hinzman has the last word: “But if I’m going to commit to killing people, there had better be a good reason. Not for the right of someone to drive an SUV with cheap gas.”

Thanks to tech98 on Bartcop for the link.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

So THAT's how they make the best-seller list

Go check out JuliusBlog for the inside story on how conservative smear-tomes get good sales figures.


As for those bogus orders, Sheila Burns, owner of Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, Ore. Said she has been getting daily phone calls for two weeks from people ordering multiple copies of Unfit and Michael Moore is a Big Fat Idiot. Unfortunately, the people ordering these books have been leaving fake names and disconnected phone numbers. After being stuck with several orders of a dozen copies of the Regan title, the store has begun calling back phone numbers and asking for a credit card for multiple-copy orders of both books.

Tina sasses her elders

From today's WashPost:

Bob Dole's nasty swipe at John Kerry's war wounds this week made you understand why Viagra has been losing market share to Cialis. The sight of that bitter old face piling on to protest that Kerry did not bleed enough is instant detumescence.

The worst thing about the Swift boat moment has been the steady march of aggrieved sexagenarians across our TV screens, banging the hollow drums of their pasts. They were heroes once and young, but look what politics has wrought: Gabby, flabby John O'Neill, the author of "Unfit for Command"; shifty George Elliott; Van Odell with his sorrowful Wyatt Earp mustache; now-you-see-him-now-you-don't Bush campaign worker Ken Cordier. As the vets talk and talk on the cable shows, the inevitable black-and-white blowup in the background of the young Kerry's big, melancholy chin and soulful eyes gives reproachful testimony to better selves buried in the watery past of Vietnam.

More at link.

Vietnam was not a nice war

Incredibly, I'm hearing people on a number of 'mixed' boards outraging over Kerry's congressional testimony in '71 because they believe there were no US atrocities in Vietnam. I can only hope that these posters are... youthful. If they grew up in the 60s-70s, they ought to know better, and if they don't, it's because they don't want to hear it.

Read James Glaser's column, Sad To Say, Kerry Spoke the Truth


The sad thing is that Kerry was telling the truth. While the vast majority of veterans behaved honorably, there were still thousands and thousands who did not. Even if only ½ of 1% committed a crime, that could add up to 45,000 bad American soldiers and Marines.

Just maybe the men offended by Kerry’s testimony never saw any combat or they were the ones committing the crimes and are feeling guilty. It has been widely reported that between one and three million innocent Vietnamese civilians were killed in the war. Somebody did that killing and that is a crime.


Some sick Americans just liked to kill gooks. "The only good gook is a dead gook." I saw guys with collections of ears and fingers. They were pretty strange and scary. Lots of guys were strung out on smack and who knows what they would do to get more.


Kerry was telling the truth and some Americans cannot handle the truth.

Jim Glaser, a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is JamesGlaser.org

Given that what took place at Abu Ghraib was so much less gruesome than what was documented to have taken place in Vietnam, I considered the public outrage at the prison photos to be a sign that we had grown as a people. Apparently it was just a sign of a nation's memory-loss.

Yet another Bay Hap River veteran weighs in to challenge O'Neil's memory of events here. While in profound disagreement with Kerry's anti-war activities after the war, and planning to vote for Bush, Lambert, who was on Thurlow's boat, and earned his own bronze star for pulling Thurlow out of the water challenges Thurlow's account that the boats were not under fire.

How many times are these guys going to be refuted before they are discredited? How long is the media going to continue to pretend that offering up two sides means they're being 'fair', regardless of credibility?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Are Democrats spoiled?

Something that's been bothering me since before the DNC convention, and I was finally able to articulate it after Kerry appeared on the Daily Show last night. Of course there was the requisite number of fawning posts on the liberal boards about how wonderful it was, and there was also the now-apparently-required 'I hate to be a spoilsport' posts which say, in short, 'it's too bad Kerry isn't more exciting.'

Which leads me to my epiphany. Has Bill Clinton spoiled us for Other Men?

I mean, consider, if you will, the pre-presidential bios of Clinton and Kerry. Nothing against Bill, you understand, I love the Big Dog and always will, but he had a fairly skimpy resume. Rhodes scholar, check, law professor, check, war protester, small state governor... nothing in there to indicate exactly what the man was made of. Oh, we know now that he was the greatest politician of a generation or possibly a century, and that he combined that with a vast and expanding curiosity about literally everything, and an understanding of policy that Bush can't even comprehend he lacks. But when he was first running for Prez... he was a personable governor of a rather insignificant state (sorry, Arkansas).

Kerry, on the other hand, while not a Rhodes Scholar, has a pretty impressive resume as a young man. While ambivalent about the morality of the Vietnam War, he volunteered anyway, served admirably, and on his return, enlightened the US and the world to the true costs. People too young to remember the sixties and seventies may not know this, but it's pretty universally acknowledged that the protests against the war were instrumental in ending it. And Kerry's Vietnam Veterans Against the War were a powerful force in that cause.

So before he was thirty, Kerry already had been through the fires and out the other side. Another almost thirty years of service to the nation followed. And yet staunch Democrats whine...

I'm fed up with it. It's like, you've gotten into trouble in some small town, have a mean-ass sheriff ready to lock you up and throw away the key, and in walks Atticus Finch to bail you out. And you're bitching because you wanted Elvis. Sigh.

I don't get it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Ancient Recipe

Okay, I was busy all day and didn't get to blogging; I hope you found plenty to keep you occupied at Josh's or Atrios' or Kos etc... To make it up to you, I'm going to share an ancient family recipe I just invented last night:

Auntie Arachnae's HomeMade Ben-Gay

To one-two teaspoons of emu oil, add 5-10 drops of white camphor essential oil. Stir it all up and then apply to wherever (within reason) you ache.

White camphor contains menthol; if you've ever tried one of those pain-patch things you wear, you'll notice that the active ingredient (the ONLY active ingredient) is menthol. And one package of five of those puppies is almost $6.00 at my local grocery. Save your money and make your own. My version is a lot less smelly that the commercial preparations, although it is somewhat pungent. Still, white camphor is an anti-inflammatory, and emu oil is thought to have some anti-inflammatory properties itself (although I believe this hasn't been verified in labs). Emu oil also helps the camphor penetrate better than non-animal oils, although vegans can no doubt get some of the same effects using almond or jojoba oil. Emu oil absorbs into the skin better than the vegetable oils, and makes your skin feel wonderfully soft and smooth.

This has proved very effective (in my one-day trial) on computer-related aches, such as 'mouse-hand' and 'tennis-elbow' (which I think needs to be renamed 'keyboard elbow'), and even had some beneficial effects on my old-lady knees.

I'm going to try substituting peppermint oil for the white camphor next; peppermint also contains menthol and has been used as a pain-killer for centuries. If you want to try it, don't waste your money on the peppermint extracts in the grocery stores - those are 99% alcohol with a few drops of peppermint oil; get the pure essential oil for not much more and get a hundred times the active ingredients.

As always, when using essential oils, test for allergic reactions, and don't use pure essential oils straight from the bottle on your skin; except for a very few exceptions (like lavender oil), they must be diluted.

Separated at birth?

Check out the similarities between the live guy and the iconic representation behind him...

Thanks to Bartcoppers Samela and Antidolt for the heads-up.

Monday, August 23, 2004

How the Bums Crumble

Now this from Oregon:

A group of about a dozen Clackamas County veterans rallied on the steps of the coutny courthouse Monday afternoon calling for the resignation of a prosecutor who appeared in a controversial television ad criticizing Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam War service.

Alfred French, 58, a senior deputy district attorney, appeared in the recent ad by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth and said: "I served with John Kerry. . . . He is lying about his record." French also signed a legal affadavit attesting to the claim.

But French, in an interview with The Oregonian newspaper last week, said he was relying on the accounts of three other veterans when he said Kerry lied.


"Mr. French signed an affidavidt defaming John Kerry's military service and then he admitted that he had no first hand knowledge of what he swore to," Stewart said. "To lie in a sworn affidavit goes beyond political smear, it is cause for this assistant district attorney to resign, and resign now."

Before recording the ad, French did indeed sign an affidavit that said: "I am able to swear, as I do hereby swear, that all facts and statements contained in this affidavit are true and correct and within my personal knowledge and belief."

Moreo at link (registration required)

Wonder where Mr. French got his law degree... Bob Jones U?

Shaaaadowy Grooooups Redux

So today Bush again refuses to disassociate himself from the lies being propagated by the smear-boat boys, and once again denounces '527s', the Shaaaadowy Groooups he loves to demonize. It's clear that he's suddenly against 527s because the ones on his side are less effective than the ones that want him out. But other than the smear-boat boys and move-on.org, who falls into this sinister category of Shaaaadowy Groooup?

Well, let's see.. there's Emily's List, and the College Republican National Committee... the Sierra Club and the League of Conservative Voters... the National Association of Realtors and the United Auto Workers.. oh look - here's Newt's Own GOPAC!

These are the people that Bush believe shouldn't be allowed to buy media ads. I wonder if Newt knows?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Need to Believe

One thing that's been fascinating me about the whole smear-boat vets story is reading the comments-boards and observing the extremes to which the Bush and vet supporters will go to allow themselves to continue to believe the tales these guys are spinning. It's a need to believe that I haven't seen since... well, the Vietnam Era. Whether or not these guys are working directly or indirectly for the Bush campaign, their primary motive is not anything Kerry did or didn't do 'in country', but his anti-war activities after his service. And it's clearly what's behind the Need to Believe of their supporters.

After Clinton, an unabashed protester of the Vietnam War, had been elected twice, I took that to mean that the nation had gotten over the divide of those days; I was apparently mistaken. How to account for its continuing to resonate as an issue?

I draw your attention to the fate of Staff Sgt. Joseph Darby, the soldier who blew the whistle on the abuses then ongoing at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. It is almost universally acknowledged that what he did was both morally right, and very courageous. Nonetheless, as I point out below (August 16), his family is living in protective custody because he and they have received death threats for his actions.

This sounds to me as though it's coming from the very same psychological place as the ongoing animus against Kerry. It's an 'our boys' (and now girls) 'can do no wrong' point of view; if they're serving in the military, they are by definition blameless of anything they might do while 'defending our American way of life'. That Our Side can (and do) commit atrocities is beside the point. And anyone pointing out the flaws in our own system or society are defacto traitors and hate America.

'Our Side can do no wrong' is very closely related to 'I can do no wrong'; to admit that we collectively can screw up is to admit that one can screw up.

Is it any wonder, then, that people who are uncomfortable with the concept that they can err are drawn to a candidate who famously, when asked "if he could think of any mistake he’d made since September 11, a tongue-tied Bush couldn’t think of one."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

"Report for your mental health screening, citizen" redux

Like an AIDS epidemic, fascism is creeping across the face of Illinois. Ridiculous, you say?

Consider this single instance: the Illinois General Assembly this past spring passed new legislation requiring compulsory mental health screening for children and pregnant women. Governor Blagojevich signed the bill into law.

You didn’t know about it? The media didn’t tell you? That’s all part of the program folks. The legislature is a sneaky bunch; they like to slip these kinds of measures through before anyone finds out about them.

This law requires children through the age of 18 to be tested for mental health needs. The same goes for pregnant women. The legislation appears to be an outgrowth of President Bush’s plan to have mental health screenings–mandatory of course–for every American. I hope he starts with himself, that would be most interesting.

More at link.

Interesting approach; chattel... um, I mean pregnant women and children first.


Overheard on the comments-line at Kevin Drum's blog: "Is the Supreme Court still considered a swing state this year?"

the grapes are unusually sour this year...

The Portland campaign rally for Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry may have set an Oregon record for sheer size, attracting the biggest gathering in memory for a political candidate.


Republicans downplayed the significance of the crowd size, attributing it as much to celebrities onstage as to Kerry's star power.

More at link.

Okay, you can go away now.

I hope that after the Chicago Tribune's publishing of William B. Rood's refutation of the smear-vets, they finally go away. It's been an ongoing disgrace that these lunatics have been given the national podium for as long as they have been.

Friday, August 20, 2004

More on the NYT story

If you haven't read the lengthy NYT story on the Smear Boat Vets, you really should.

Here's an interesting paragraph:

Several veterans insist that Mr. Kerry wrote his own reports, pointing to the initials K. J. W. on one of the reports and saying they are Mr. Kerry's. "What's the W for, I cannot answer," said Larry Thurlow, who said his boat was 50 to 60 yards from Mr. Kerry's. Mr. Kerry's middle initial is F, and a Navy official said the initials refer to the person who had received the report at headquarters, not the author.

Yeah, a guy whose initial are JFK always initials his reports backwards and throws in an additional letter... to confuse the enemy, I suppose. Are these guys totally losing it or what?

Then there's this perplexing para:

Mr. Elliott, who recommended Mr. Kerry for the Silver Star, had signed one affidavit saying Mr. Kerry "was not forthright" in the statements that had led to the award. Two weeks ago, The Boston Globe quoted him as saying that he felt he should not have signed the affidavit. He then signed a second affidavit that reaffirmed his first, which the Swift Boat Veterans gave to reporters. Mr. Elliott has refused to speak publicly since then.

Seriously, has anyone seen Elliott lately? I've got this hideous feeling that he's been locked up somewhere, maybe with duct-tape over his mouth to keep him from further refuting these guys. You'll notice HE wasn't the one that gave the affidavit to reporters. I hope someone's checked on this - he may need a SWAT-team rescue.

If you should doubt this group is crazy enough to hold hostages, I point out that they're not too crazy to declare that KJW=JFK...

Shaaaadowy Groooooups!

Booga booga!

Read Dan Fromkin's White House Briefing today; scroll down to "No Swift Denunciation" (hey, Dan - how 'bout some interior links?) and count the number of times Scott McClellan uses the new buzzword "shadowy groups".

The intent is clear - the admin has decided that since the Smear Vet group is drawing so much negative attention, they can use that to smear, if you will, other groups who are funded by similar types of donations, whether or not the other 'shadowy groups' are involved in promulgating falsehoods and calling it 'truth'. The obvious target of this implied smear is MoveOn.org, who in the best tradition of evil genius masterminds the world over, announce their intentions via their website.

To be fair, it's even a bit much to continue to call the Smear Vet group 'shadowy', after the New York Times exercised an ancient and little-used art called 'journalism' and exposed their connections to the Bush family, Karl Rove and a plethora of other Texas Republicans.

Man, this whole tale of bogusness and hypocrisy has my sarcasm-needle pinned in the red.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Great visual metaphor...

Graphical representation of the entire Bush campaign and administration:

From the Portland Tribune, via Orcinus.

My caption: Back to the Protest Camps, Citizen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Interesting developments

Thanks to Atrios for pointing out that the Wen Ho Lee civil lawsuit against the federal government is reaching an interesting phase, with contempt charges possibly facing six journalists who apparently pimped the government's 'case' against Lee in their stories.

NEW YORK Media attorneys are not hopeful about Wednesday morning's scheduled hearing in the Wen Ho Lee case, in which up to six reporters are expected to be held in contempt of court for failing to testify about confidential sources. "We are worried," said George Freeman, assistant general counsel for The New York Times. "The judge's prior ruling isn't the most optimistic."


The hearing takes on even more significance due to its timing -- just days after a string of subpoenas were issued in the Valerie Plame investigation. In that case, three subpoenas seeking testimony and records from the Times have been issued, while The Washington Post has received one subpoena compelling reporter Walter Pincus to testify in that case. Time magazine reporter Michael Cooper also faces jail time in this case.

Stories here and here.


It's a curious effect, but when I spent much of the day in Photoshop and Dreamweaver, it seems that I have trouble finding 'blogworthy' stories. Not that I don't read the news; just that it isn't resonating. And it's not as though I'm making such incredibly interesting pages - they're nice in their own way, naturally, or I wouldn't be making them...

Anyway, if you wonder what I've been working on, click here or here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Big Tent?

Nice to know the Reps have made room for the Deranged Racist element... link.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Oooh, I bet Bruce is sorry now!

Upset with Bruce Springsteen's effort to oust President Bush from the White House, the New York Conservative Party's candidate for the U.S. Senate is launching a "Boycott the Boss" television commercial.

Heh. More at link.

This is sickening

Family of Iraq Abuse Whistleblower Threatened

Relatives of the U.S. soldier who sounded the alarm about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison said on Monday the family was living in protective custody because of death threats against them.

Reservist military police officer Staff Sgt. Joseph Darby alerted U.S. Army investigators about the abuse by fellow soldiers of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, a move his wife says has angered people in their community in western Maryland.

"People were mean, saying he was a walking dead man, he was walking around with a bull's eye on his head. It was scary," said Bernadette Darby from Corriganville, Maryland.

Yeah, what's the matter with that guy, anyway? Ratting on our good ol' boys and girls just because they wanna have a little fun?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Bad sign for Bush

The Iowa Electronic Market, which trades in candidate 'futures', and has been 'selling' shares of Bush for over 50 throughout, is now trading even. Uh-oh... (heh).

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Fear isn't working!

Whoops! Karl Rove's Ultimate Weapon is ceasing to function! What will the Rovester do??

A new study reveals a surprising twist on the conventional wisdom about November's presidential election: While political pundits seem to agree that news of terrorist threats and other dangers from abroad is good news for President Bush's re-election bid, the opposite might be true.

Michigan State University political science professors Darren W. Davis and Brian D. Silver say their study found that the more worried people are about the possibility of another terrorist attack, the more likely they are to vote for John Kerry. The research will be presented at a meeting of political scientists in Chicago next month.

Right after 9/11, a lot of frightened Americans rushed to put an Invincible Hero Halo on Bush. I was beginning to fear that they would never notice the emperor's essential nakedness; this study restores my faith in our native pragmatism.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Colin Powell meets Colin Powell

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, meets Colin Powell, cat of the year.

The prize-winning cat, a copper-eyed Bombay born in the Brookfield, Conn., home of Sharyn and Sig Hauck, on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, responded with a hesitant purr, and had nothing further to offer reporters, on the record or otherwise.

Story here: link. Requires registration, alas, but includes a great pic of Powell holding Powell.

No-registration-required story (before the event) is here, and includes this great quote:

Asked why Powell would interrupt his day of dealing with foreign potentates for a feline visitor, the US official said: "If you had a cat named after you that won the Cat Fanciers' Association cat of the year - I mean that doesn't happen every day. This is recognizing a cat of outstanding ability."

Actually it recognizes a cat of outstanding beauty - cat shows are all about 'conformation', not skills. But he is a very lovely cat.

Julia Child dead at 91

Oh, nooooo! She was my pick for CIA chief! Link

Christmas in Cambodia

Latest bushista spin: Kerry isn't qualified to be President because he wasn't in Cambodia on Christmas '68?? Man, we're really reaching the bottom of the barrel. Anyway, here's the guy who wrote Kerry's biography (with access to his wartime journals) on the subject:

"On Christmas Eve he was near Cambodia; he was around 50 miles from the Cambodian border. There's no indictment of Kerry to be made, but he was mistaken about Christmas in Cambodia," said Douglas Brinkley, who has unique access to the candidate's wartime journals.

But Mr Brinkley rejected accusations that the senator had never been to Cambodia, insisting he was telling the truth about running undisclosed "black" missions there at the height of the war.

He said: "Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys." The missions were not armed attacks on Cambodia, said Mr Brinkley, who did not include the clandestine missions in his wartime biography of Mr Kerry, Tour of Duty.

"He was a ferry master, a drop-off guy, but it was dangerous as hell. Kerry carries a hat he was given by one CIA operative. In a part of his journals which I didn't use he writes about discussions with CIA guys he was dropping off."

The Swifties claim: All the living commanders in Kerry's chain of command . . . indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialled had he gone to Cambodia.

Well, turns out these guys were out of the loop. Perhaps they weren't considered trustworthy enough to undertake clandestine missions? Now they're all hurt and angry because they didn't get the cool jobs? What whiners. It's one thing to be kind of limp and pathetic - it's another whole Level of Magnitude to get a whole book out of it.

If Kerry was in Cambodia in Jan-Feb, and transposed his story to Christmas for Additional Poignancy, this clearly disqualifies him for high office. *snort*

You want further dissection of the Smear-Boat Vets claims? Balta has the goods.

Porter's Blue Dress

You've probably heard that Porter Goss isn't very interested in investigating who outed Valerie Plame, which I'm sure endears him to the agency he's been nominated to lead. Give him a blue dress and some DNA, he says, and he'll investigate. Whadda Wag.

So Dorothy from the Chaff gives him the blue dress, and some suggestions...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Naval gazing at the Post

Howard Kurtz has a lengthy story in today's Post suggesting that the Post downplayed stories that questioned the administration's march to war. I suggest you read it all, but here are some highlights:

An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times. [moi: at times??]

"The paper was not front-paging stuff," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"


Michael Massing, a New York Review of Books contributor and author of the forthcoming book "Now They Tell Us," on the press and Iraq, said: "In covering the run-up to the war, The Post did better than most other news organizations, featuring a number of solid articles about the Bush administration's policies. But on the key issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the paper was generally napping along with everyone else. It gave readers little hint of the doubts that a number of intelligence analysts had about the administration's claims regarding Iraq's arsenal."


Given The Post's reputation for helping topple the Nixon administration, some of those involved in the prewar coverage felt compelled to say the paper's shortcomings did not reflect any reticence about taking on the Bush White House. Priest noted, however, that skeptical stories usually triggered hate mail "questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists.

Well, there you have it, folks - the Post admits that their coverage is driven by fear. Fear of appearing unpatriotic to the spittle-spraying jingoists. Saddest quote, from Liz Spayd, the assistant managing editor for national news: "Do I wish we would have had more and pushed harder and deeper into questions of whether they possessed weapons of mass destruction? Absolutely," she said. "Do I feel we owe our readers an apology? I don't think so."

Think again.

Can you say Flip-Flop?

(I knew you could.)

Guess what? Now the government is preparing a deal to release the guy that was soooo dangerous that even allowing him to talk to a lawyer would imperil the realm:

The U.S. government, which has held Yaser Esam Hamdi incommunicado in a Navy brig for two years without charges, much of the time without a lawyer, indicated yesterday that it is nearing a deal that would free him altogether.

The government is negotiating with Hamdi's lawyers about "terms and conditions acceptable to both parties that would allow Mr. Hamdi to be released from . . . custody," according to documents filed in federal court in Norfolk. The legal papers, submitted jointly by federal prosecutors and Hamdi's attorneys, asked the court to stay all proceedings for 21 days while negotiations continue.

Terms of the release are still being hammered out but, according to people familiar with the situation, are likely to include that Hamdi renounce his U.S. citizenship, move to Saudi Arabia and accept some travel restrictions, as well as some monitoring by Saudi officials. In addition, he may have to agree not to sue the federal government over whether his civil rights were violated.

Right. You sign this paper that says you agree not to sue us and we'll let you out of prison. Don't sign it? okay, then it's an indefinite stay in the brig for you. I would sure like to hear from a civil rights lawyer on this; it seems to me that he could sign it and then later sue them anyway, claiming he signed under duress. Indefinite detention may not be torture, but it sure qualifies as a threat to one's life and liberty.

One presumes that there's at least a lucrative book contract in his future...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Why sneer at the French?

You ask me, they've got the right idea about many things. "While German, Italian and French workers enjoy, on average, more than 40 days of vacation a year, the average American has to make do with just two weeks." Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard University, wonders why.

Interesting reading:

Twenty-five years ago, this gap between U.S. and European working hours didn't exist. Between 1979 and 1999, the average American working year lengthened by 50 hours, or nearly 4%. But the average German working year shrank 12%. The same was true elsewhere in Europe.


But I see another possible explanation — one that owes a debt to the German sociologist Max Weber's famous essay on "The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," written a century ago.

Weber believed he had identified a link between the rise of Protestantism (and especially Calvinism) and the development of "the spirit of capitalism." I would like to propose a modern version of Weber's theory, namely "The Atheist Sloth Ethic and the Spirit of Collectivism."

You see, the most remarkable thing about the transatlantic divergence in working patterns is that it has coincided almost exactly with a comparable divergence in religiosity, both in terms of observance and belief.

So who would you rather emulate? The nose-to-grindstone (when it's not in other people's business) ethic of John Calvin? Or the angst-filled lethargy of Sartre? Hard call? Mais non!

Ooh, Harsh!

The LATimes on Keyes:

Then there is affirmative action. Keyes, as a principled conservative, is vigorously against any form of racial favoritism. He will be glad to know, therefore, that race had nothing to do with his selection as the Republican Senate candidate. In fact there were two finalists in this latest round of pick-the-loser-to-Obama, and by an even more remarkable coincidence, both of them are black. "These two were selected because of their strengths, not because of their color," a member of the Republican State Central Committee told CNN. "Voters are smarter than that. That clearly wasn't the intent."

We are often called upon to wonder whether politicians are cynical or stupid. The Illinois Republican leaders, in their case, have made that choice unnecessary.

Harsh... but true.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Busy today

I didn't even get a chance to read the papers! *GASP!* Just FYI - I do have a fulltime job; most days I can sneak in some reading/writing time. Some days I can't. Today was one of those days.

Restoring our National Honor

Listen to Ike, now... he's got the recipe. That's Ike Turner...

Thanks to mykej at Bartcop for the hilarious link.

More late-breaking news

BADGERS Threaten Stonehedge!!

Determined digging by badgers living near Stonehenge's 5,000-year old circle of megaliths is damaging ancient archaeological artefacts and human remains.

Sole-source contract, no doubt.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Resting Comfortably

Koko has an owie:

Koko, the famous talking gorilla from Woodside who can communicate through sign language, had surgery for more than two hours on Sunday to heal a toothache, according to Stanford spokeswoman Sarah Sherwood.


Doctors gathered in Koko's "apartment" and crowded around the gorilla, who asked a woman wearing red to come closer. The woman politely offered Koko a business card, which the gorilla ate.

Her exact words: "Kinda chewy"...

Read the whole article; interestingly, she has a 1000-word vocabulary, which wags note is double that of our Leader. Go on, ask him to define Sovereignty...

More Plame

All kinds of cross-talk all over the blogosphere tonight about the sanctity of Journalistic Source Protection. Ordinarily I would agree - one of the main purposes of the Don't-Tell code is to protect whistleblowers from a vengeful government, and insure the future supply of other juicy leaks. But when the protected source is the Vengeful Government, then the only excuse for protecting your source is ... well, protecting your access. And access to members of the Bush Administration is only going to be a valuable commodity for another four months or so. So come on, guys - tell all. Or at least give hints... is the ultimate traceback of the info to a sneering pottymouth? Just nod... I'll know.

what took so long?

Court Holds Reporter in Contempt in Leak Case

A reporter is being held in contempt of court and faces possible jail time, and another was earlier threatened by a federal judge with the same fate, after they refused to answer questions from a special prosecutor investigating whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of a covert CIA officer last year.

Newly-released court orders show U.S. District Court Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan two weeks ago ordered Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Tim Russert of NBC to appear before a grand jury and tell whether they knew that White House sources provided the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media.

Of course, if the government really wanted to know who outed Plame, they could have done this, oh... say a year ago?

Yet another question: why don't they just subpoena Novak.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

An idea whose time has come?

Heh. The guys at Blah3 have the right idea.

Irony Award

Josh Marshall on the recent arrest warrants issued on Ahmed and Salem Chalabi:

Salem, of course, remains head of the war crimes tribunal charged with trying Saddam Hussein and other leaders of the former regime. But the tribunal covers crimes committed under the former regime, not the present one. So perhaps there's no conflict.

Sigh. Just... *sigh*

From the Oregonian: " Through the scope on his sniper rifle, an Oregon Army National Guard soldier witnessed what appeared to be prisoner abuse June 29 at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. Oregon soldiers responded, disarming the Iraqi policemen and giving first aid to the detainees. They were later ordered to stand down, handing the prisoners back over to the Iraqi officials."

Story here.

Well, THAT explains it...

I was wondering why my inbox was so ... empty!

Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, said Tuesday that it is taking legal action against dozens of online pharmacies and spammers it claims are selling illegal versions of anti-impotence drug Viagra.

Pfizer is a rare non-tech company to take on purveyors of unsolicited e-mail. But spam experts say the move is necessary to stem the sale of fake Viagra and appease consumers who think Pfizer is behind junk e-mail.

The company sued five Web sites for trademark infringement and filed dozens of legal proceedings to seize domain names of sites it says sell fake Viagra. The lawsuits seek to put an immediate end to the sites and unspecified damages.

More at link. Um... Go, Pfizer.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Our Intell in Action

Great letter to the editor in the LATimes on Wednesday that puts our 'experts' to shame:

There is a curious detail at the end of "Top Al Qaeda Suspect Caught in Pakistan" (July 30) that does not give me great confidence in the intelligence agencies of our country. According to the story, the suspect, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian from Zanzibar, has a number of aliases, among them Foopie or Fupi. Your article states, " 'We have no idea where that name came from,' said one former counter-terrorism official who has spent years investigating Ghailani."

In fact, the online wanted poster for this man gives his height as 5-foot-3 or 5-foot-4, indicating that he is short. The Kiswahili word for short is "fupi," thus this particular alias simply means Shorty. You would think that an intelligence agent "who has spent years investigating Ghailani" might have been able to figure this out for himself, wouldn't you?

Edward A. Alpers

Burning sources

You've really got to ask yourself how seriously the admin takes the whole terrorist/WMD issue... first they wrecked the career/network of one of our country's WMD experts and now they've outed our mole in al Qaeda. Makes you wonder what the real goal is here, doesn't it? Perpetual war, maybe?

DailyKos is all over this, btw.

Friday, August 06, 2004

It's my blog's BIRTHDAY!

Three months old today. Isn't she the cuuuuutest li'l blog? [Makes idiotic kootchy-koo noises]

Yet another Must See Graphic

Head on over to Kevin Drum's for a telling picture of the employment picture. The Bush 'toast-o-meter' is 'extra-crispy', heh.

Must see graphic

Race right over to JuliusBlog - he's plotted the incidence of 'terrorist alerts' against the famous chart of Bush approval numbers. Hint: the entire month of October is going to be one long 'beeeeeeep' from the Emergency Broadcast System.

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable

From today's WashPost, yet another in the never-ending series of totally clueless explanations of why the Boy-King draws so much ire:

Anyone who hobnobs with progressives knows by now that a fair proportion of these bright and articulate Americans hate George W. Bush. They abhor him. The embrace of Bush hatred has even appeared in otherwise sober journals of opinion such as the New Republic. Why? How is it that so many thoughtful people hold a belief that is surprising -- and troubling -- to the vast majority of Americans?


My argument was that presidential hatred developed not from actions the president took while in office but from images of the president as a young adult. The president represented critical cultural divisions of a previous generation, divisions that were never fully healed. ...

Bush's administration is free of scandals. [emphasis mine] He has not eliminated federal programs, not even the National Endowment for the Arts. The retreats have been strategic and slight. Not to say that Democrats should agree with "W" -- but hate him?

Once again emotional juice bubbles from the springs of the past. This loathing derives from Bush's seeming life of ease. If Bill Clinton was a Zelig, present at every influential moment, George W. Bush is Forrest Gump. He has led a charmed life, in which mediocrity, error and failure have had no consequences other than to produce success. An indifferent student, Bush attended both Yale and Harvard, escaped service in Vietnam, escaped disgrace despite drunken driving, failed as an oil magnate only to be promoted to head the Texas Rangers baseball team and, lacking political experience, became governor of Texas. His family and mentors paved the way for this untalented scion of privilege. Bush was the frat boy who never grew up.

Helloooo? Paging Doctor Need-a-clue. Bush still is the frat boy who never grew up. He still refused to admit he's ever made a mistake, and he's still got people covering for him, as his ever-lengthening series of boneheaded disasters mires the nation further in the mud.

And "free of scandals"? Had you been completely off the grid for the past four years? Abu Ghraib? WMDs? Valerie Plame? Cheney-burton? Saudi influence?

Can you possibly accept that someone even you call an 'untalented scion of privilege' deserves the contempt he's receiving from anyone who's been paying attention?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Too much truth serum?

Remarks by Bush today:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

A girlie-girl moment

You'all are going to have to excuse me but...

Ralph Fiennes, who played memorable evil guys in "Red Dragon" and "Schindler's List," has signed on to portray the wicked warlock Voldemort in the next "Harry Potter" movie, Warner Bros. announced Wednesday.

More at link.


Hey, it's my blog, I can squeal if I want to.

Hidden prisoners

Military intelligence officials at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq ordered military police soldiers to keep several detainees hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross, leaving a coded message on cell doors to indicate which detainees the visitors were not allowed to see or interview, according to court testimony here Wednesday.


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said he authorized keeping one soldier off the official rolls under unusual circumstances, but members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have expressed concern that the practice was more widespread than that.

More at link.

Hmm. People are noticing that we haven't seen Rumfeld lately. Perhaps we should alert the International Red Cross?

One rule for Us, another rule for Them

Federal investigators concluded that Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) divulged classified intercepted messages to the media when he was on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to sources familiar with the probe.

Specifically, Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron confirmed to FBI investigators that Shelby verbally divulged the information to him during a June 19, 2002, interview, minutes after Shelby's committee had been given the information in a classified briefing, according to the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the case.

Where are all the people calling for Shelby's scalp? They ought to be in practice; they were just outraging all over Berger a few weeks ago...

More at link.

Like father, like son

Looks like Bush Jr. is displaying some of the patrician cluelessness that got his dad into electoral-college trouble.

Kerry Detours to Visit Town Skipped by Bush

CUBA CITY, Wis. -- Who knows? Given the closeness of the election in the swing state of Wisconsin, it might all come down to what happened here in the City of Presidents.

First, a few months ago, President Bush blew right on by, his bus rumbling down Main Street at 40 miles an hour without stopping, done and gone in a wave and a blink. Then, this Tuesday evening, right at suppertime and before the big lightning storm, here came John F. Kerry, zigzagging his Believe in America bus caravan several miles off route on the road from Beloit to Dubuque just so he could stop at the place that Bush slighted.


It was on May 7 that Bush came, and briefly saw, but didn't conquer. Word had reached Cuba City a few days earlier that the presidential bus caravan would pass through Cuba City on its way out of Dubuque and up through western Wisconsin. The city buzzed with anticipation. Schools were let out for the day and kids were bused in all the way from Dickeyville. A thousand schoolchildren lined the sidewalks near the corner of Main and Clay. Two funerals were postponed so that they wouldn't get in the way. A huge cutout of Bush was placed near the caboose. Chief Atkinson called in reinforcements from the Grant County sheriff's office and had the local fire department volunteers remove any possible hazards from Main Street.

"We were all ready," Atkinson said. "And Bush didn't stop."

Reg Weber, sausage manufacturer, says of Kerry, "All he had to do was stop and he got my vote. He recognizes the little people."

I'm sure Bush recognizes the little people too... when he needs someone to carry his golf-clubs, for instance.

Bandar tries...

You got to give the guy an E for Effort at least...

Saudis spearhead attempt to dampen oil prices

The world's largest oil producers intervened on Wednesday to try to cool oil prices, as Opec reassured customers it could raise output and Saudi Arabia, its biggest member, turned on the taps at two new fields ahead of schedule.

From the Financial-Times.

Compare, contrast

Okay, compare this pic to the ones posted below:

Look at those people! Sitting in chairs, at the same level as the candidate! Not penned up behind a fence! Do they think they're just as good as he is or something?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Point-of-view is soooo important

The pic they want you to see:

The pic they don't want you to see:

Looks like there's a whole... what, twenty people there? In the cattle pen?

Everyone's a critic

Heh. My hero, the manly General, reviews Michelle Malkin's latest book. Go read.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Joke du Jour

CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog

In the interest of national security, President Bush has been asked to stop posting entries on his three-month-old personal web log, acting CIA director John E. McLaughlin said Monday.

According to McLaughlin, several recent entries on PrezGeorgeW. typepad.com have compromised military operations, while other posts may have seriously undercut the PR efforts of White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

Follow the link for more, much more.

DOJ flip-flop

First they told the librarians they had to destroy documents, then they backed off. What documents, you ask?

The topics addressed in the named documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation.
Read all about it here.

How's your mental health?

I'm hearing a bit of noise on the alternative health sites (among others) about this article in the British Medical Journal:

Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness

A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions," according to a March 2004 progress report entitled New Freedom Initiative (www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom/toc-2004.html). While some praise the plan's goals, others say it protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.


The commission also recommended "Linkage [of screening] with treatment and supports" including "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions." The commission commended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."


But the Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, sparked off controversy when Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General, revealed that key officials with influence over the medication plan in his state received money and perks from drug companies with a stake in the medication algorithm (15 May, p1153). He was sacked this week for speaking to the BMJ and the New York Times.

The most complete followup to this story I can find appears to be by Josef Hasslberger; you can find it here.

From what I can find on the 'New Freedom Initiative', their goals seem laudable - increasing people with disabilities' access to jobs and home-ownership, and so forth. That said, in John Ashcroft's America, 'Report to your Mental Health Screening, citizen' takes on an ugly ugly tone.

If you believe the formulation that goes 'only Nixon could go to China' and 'only Clinton could reform the welfare system' (that is, you need strong anti-commie creds to make the overture visit to a communist country, etc), then I think the obverse is probably true. That is, a hypothetical President McGovern could not go to China, etc. In which case, I think we're pretty safe from State-Mandated Psychiatric Evaluations. I suspect even this White House is rethinking the issue. After all, what DO they do when the American public says "Fine. You go first."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Registered versus Likely

ABCNews is making much of the fact that Kerry, while receiving a 'convention bounce' among registered voters, didn't get much of one among 'likely' voters. They define likely voters thusly: "Likely voters are defined by factors such as intention to vote and past voting behavior." I'll be very curious to find out, after the election, how many 'rarely vote' voters come out this year.

Projection, some?

Man, where's a shrink when you need one? First, this article in the NYTimes:

President Bush's campaign plans to use the normally quiet month of August for a vigorous drive to undercut John Kerry by turning attention away from his record in Vietnam to what the campaign described as an undistinguished and left-leaning record in the Senate.

Mr. Bush's advisers plan to cap the month at the Republican convention in New York, which they said would feature Mr. Kerry as an object of humor and calculated derision.

Josh Marshall has already weighed in on this, to wit:
The more discussion-worthy point, however, is the use of humor as a political weapon -- mockery, derision, diminishment.

Republicans are very good at this. And it can be a tool that is deceptively difficult to respond to or combat. Effective mockery is 'sticky', hard to shake off, hard to parry. And it appeals to people's appetite for fun and humor.

But it's not as clear to me that this is going to be particularly effective this year. Remember when Bush Senior tried to mock Clinton/Gore, calling them 'far-out, man' and 'Ozone-man' and other epithets? The actual result was to make the Elder Bush look like an out-of-touch patrician who can't even master the argot.

And it's a sign of a totally out-of-touch campaign not to realize how easy it is to return mock for mock. I mean, this is a candidate that one website features in side-by-side pictures of chimps. You really don't launch an attack with a pellet gun against an enemy with howitzers...

This isn't the pot calling the kettle black - this is the pot calling the cereal bowl black.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Important Breaking Local News!

Proof that Leesburg, Virginia is a HOTBED of important events: Kitten Driven To Jaguar.

Just a friendly chat?

Secretary of State Colin Powell recently testified before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of CIA covert officer Valerie Plame, NEWSWEEK has learned. Powell's appearance on July 16 is the latest sign the probe being conducted by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is highly active and broader than has been publicly known. Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame's identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak.
Apparently Powell isn't a 'target' of the investigation... so... Who's that leave?

More at link.

Oopsie. Our bad...

Okay, one of our big reasons for invading and conquering Iraq is that they were in league with Al Qaeda, right? Cheney continues to INSIST on the relationship, all evidence to the contrary. Turns out our lead-pipe-cinch evidence was one guy, captured in Pakistan in November '01 and subjected to who-knows-what interrogation techniques. Well, guess what? Now he takes it back. Didn't mean it. Was just saying... oops.

See link.

Of course, that he might be lying now is as probably was that he was lying then. Still, wouldn't it be preferable to have more than one possibly-tortured source for something as important as a raison d'etre to invade another country?