Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener...
Idle ramblings of an intermittently philosophical nature... Apologies to Martin Gardner, whose The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener is one of the best books you've (probably) never read.

An Idle Thought...
What a misfortune, and injustice, for the University of Tennessee College of Law that [Glenn "InstaPundit"] Reynolds should now be their best-known faculty member.
--Brian Leiter, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin

About Me (the condensed version)
A member of the tail end of the boomers; a middle aged recovering lawyer turned professional computer geek. Native of St. Louis, Missouri, transplanted to Memphis, Tennessee. Avid reader, amateur philosopher, St. Louis Cardinals fan, one of the last Renaissance men.

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Frederick W. Benteen
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And in case you're interested, here's how many other 'net denizens need a life, or at least more compelling reading:

A blog worth reading:

Bloggus Caesari (Julius Caesar's Warblog)

Two blogs worth reading that I'll plug because the blogger is another Linux geek and a fellow Cardinals fan besides:

Frankly, I'd Rather Not

Other links of interest (to me, at least), in no particular order:

The Daily Howler
Bill Maher Blog
The Progressive
The O'Franken Factor
Majority Report Radio
The Gadflyer
Daily Kos
Steve Gilliard's Blog
Whiskey Bar
Just a Bump in the Beltway
The Village Gate (formerly The Right Christians)
Juan Cole *Informed Comment*
Christopher Orlet
The Online Gadfly
The Crisis Papers
Ted Rall Online
The Smirking Chimp
Talking Points Memo
Molly Ivins
This Modern World, By Tom Tomorrow
Tom the Dancing Bug, by Reuben Bolling
Bob the Angry Flower
Conservatively Incorrect, by Rack Jite
Media Whores Online
Butterflies and Wheels
The Leiter Reports
Nathan Newman
Brief Intelligence
Half the Sins of Mankind
The Swing State Project
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Missouri Liberal
different strings
Shock and Awe
Gotham City 13
Pen-Elayne on the Web
Empty Days
Censored Story of the Day
Roger's Profanisaurus
Rhonda & Jane present: 525 Reasons to Dump Bush
The Bush Scorecard of Evil
Sherman P. Wright's Moderate Weblog
Quaker in a Basement
World Phamous
NLSO Subic Bay (Navy unit alumni blog.)
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Bracing against the wind
Rants Vitriol and Spleen – JRI
Apostate's Weekly
Redbird Nation
Go Cardinals
The Cardinals' Birdhouse
The Birdhouse Minor League Report
The Cardinals Fan Site
St. Louis Cardinals Ultimate Fan Site
RedBird Central
Get Up, Baby!
Royalties and Cardinalate (an all-MO baseball blog)
Pro Sports Daily: St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals news
Rob Neyer's column
The Hardball Times
The Baseball Widow
Management by Baseball
The Nashville Files (RTB member in waiting?)
Madeleine Begun Kane's Notables Weblog
The Select Group of Toys
Pesky the Rat
I, Cringely
The Gripe Line Weblog, by Ed Foster
The Register
Evil Empire
Watching Microsoft Like a Hawk
Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil
Public Defender Dude
Punishment Theory
Savage Cruel Bigots
Treason Online
Hell for Halliburton
Hollywood Lost and Found
Popdex Citations

Rocky Top Brigade:

RTB Lounge
NationStates Region

A Little More to the Right
A Moveable Beast
A Smoky Mountain Journal
Beyond the Whispers
Big Stupid Tommy
Bjorn, Again
Bully Pulpit
Busy Mom
Celtic Grove
Classless Warfare Jane
Conservative Zone
Dagley Dagley Daily
Damn Art Diary
Damn Foreigner
Democratic Veteran
Doc B
Doug McDaniel
Drawing Dead
Elephant Rants
Filthy Hippy Speak
Frank Cagle
Free Speech News
Granny Rant
Growth Spurt
Guy Montag
Hypotheses Non Fingo
In a Mays
Inn of the Last Home
Jaded Journal
Johnson City Stories
Lay Lines
Lean Left
Les Jones
Loco Parentis
Long Pauses
Mike Hollihan
Mike Reed
Mind Warp
Missives Anonymous
Mr. Lawson
My Quiet Life
Newton's Kumquat
No Quarters
One Hand Clapping
Pathetic Earthlings
Philosophical Scrivener
Queen Medb's Castle
Rebel Yell
Rex Hammock
Rich Hailey
Road Warrior
Sick of Bush
South Knox Bubba
Southern Reporter
Straight White Guy
Team Rock
The Golden Calf
Up For Anything
Voluntarily in China
Wandering Hillbilly
William Burton
InstaPundit (link removed, because I think Reynolds is an idiot, and he doesn't need the linkage. If you really want to waste your time reading his drivel, you know where to find him.)
Adam Groves (MIA)
Fat Ass Politics (MIA)
Oz's Lion (MIA)
Rapmaster (MIA)
Rush Limbaughtomy (MIA)
Secret City Scene (MIA)
Twelfth Parsec (MIA)
Uncommon Sense (KIA)
Underground Man (MIA)
Xyon's Rambles (MIA)

Memphis Blogs not in the Rocky Top Brigade

Signifying Nothing
m e m p h i s . c o o l (Jon W. Sparks's personal blog)
Sparks on Memphis (Jon W. Sparks's CA blog)
Peggy Phillip
Tread lightly on the things of earth
Rachel and the City
Well, I think I'm funny
Voice of Golden Eagle
when you're 21, you're no fun

The League of Liberals:

Democratic Veteran
The Spy Game
Cosmic Iguana
People's Republic of Seabrook
Philosophical Scrivener
The Mahablog
WTF is it NOW?
blunted on reality
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time
All Facts and Opinions
Dubya's Daily Diary
ARMACT Action Alerts
Cup O' Joe
Grateful Dread on the Web
The Poison Kitchen
Indigo Ocean
The Felonious Elephant
Sick of Bush
Arms and the Man
Rick's Cafe Americain
A-Changin' Times(ACT)
Estimated Prophet
Gotham City 13
Officially Unofficial
The Gunther Concept
The Mudshark
Screaming Points
Ink from the Squid
Left Is Right
Byte Back
The Huck Upchuck
The Sesquipedalian
DeanLand - Dean Landsman's Weblog
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Wilson's Blogmanac
Ayn Clouter
Anarchy Xero

The Liberal Coalition

01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

An excellent point, here....
being made by Molly Ivins: All that effort for this report? From the column:

The most striking thing about this report is that none of its conclusions and none of its recommendations have anything to do with the contents of the USA PATRIOT Act, which was supposedly our government's response to 9/11. All the could-haves, would-haves and should-haves in the report are so far afield from the PATRIOT Act that it might as well be on another subject entirely.

Once again, as has often happened in our history, under the pressure of threat and fear, we have harmed our own liberties without any benefit to our safety.

Insufficient powers of law enforcement or surveillance are nowhere mentioned in the joint inquiry report as a problem before 9/11. Yet Attorney General John Ashcroft now proposes to expand surveillance powers even further with a second PATRIOT act. All over the country, local governments have passed resolutions opposing the PATRIOT Act, and three states have done so, including the very Republican Alaska.

According to the Bush precedent, someone should come invade us.
Heather Wokusch: Deceit, danger mark U.S. pursuit of new WMD

Illegal biological and nuclear weapons production is on the rise - in the United States.

Ignoring the internationally recognized Biological Weapons Convention, the U.S. Army has patented a grenade capable of delivering biological and chemical agents.

The irony wasn't lost on the watchdog group Sunshine Project, which observed, "Hans Blix might have an easier time finding illegal weapons if he were inspecting near Baltimore [at the Army's Edgewood Arsenal facility, where two of the inventors work] instead of Baghdad."

This needs to be read....
in conjunction with Professor Akerlof's comments to Der Spiegel, below. From The Self Made Pundit:

THE FAITH BASED PRESIDENCY: President Bush is on a faith-based roll.

Having successfully used his faith-based approach to lead America into war, Bush is now directing his awesome power of wishful thinking toward the economy.

Bush undoubtedly realizes (or at least has been told by Karl Rove) that he cannot ignore America’s lackluster economy without jeopardizing his hopes to actually be elected to the presidency in 2004. Unfortunately for America, the Bush administration’s idea of doing something about its dismal record on the economy is sending out a squad of cheerleading
[Cabinet] secretaries to tell states Bush narrowly lost in the 2000 presidential election that prosperity is just around the corner.


One of the defining characteristics of Bush’s presidency is his approach that if you believe in something strongly enough it becomes reality. This is the faith-based presidency.

You can find Bush taking this faith-based approach in practically every major decision of his administration.


Bush is using the same faith-based approach to the economy. Bush has wanted to drastically cut taxes – primarily for the wealthy – since the 2000 presidential campaign. At that time, Bush pushed for such tax cuts as the right thing to do since America had a strong economy and a sizable budget surplus. Even though the economy has done a 180 degree turn under Bush and the deficit is now exploding to record levels, Bush is still prescribing the same medicine of tax cuts for the wealthy.

While Bush and his crew now claim that tax cuts focused on the super rich will help the economy to recover, they are once again asserting something because they want it to be true, not because there is evidence to support it. If Bush really wanted to stimulate the economy, he would have proposed tax cuts for people who would spend the money this year, not tax cuts that have virtually no stimulative effect because they lower rates for the wealthy in future years.

Since Bush’s presidency is based on faith, it makes perfect sense that he is addressing America’s economic woes by sending out his squad of cheerleading secretaries. If the cheerleaders can convince voters to have faith in Bush’s economic stewardship – despite his disastrous economic record – Bush will have succeeded in turning his wishes into reality.

From the Hartford Advocate via The Smirking Chimp:
What really was the difference between the killing of Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay and a Mafia hit? Think about it: $15 million was paid to some tipster (the fine print actually reads "up to $15 million" -- I'd love to see the Rummy flunkie assigned to lowball that Iraqi lotto winner), and another $25 million sits on Saddam's head. That's $40 million of our money used for two hits on former business partners of the Bush family.
--Alan Bisbort

The more I read about computerized voting....
the more I distrust them. And the more I think that Max Cleland's defeat was really theft. Thom Hartmann has a good article at The Smirking Chimp on the subject.

From Ted Rall:
Bring the troops home

This isn't going to get better. We're stupid and mean occupiers, which only makes the Iraqis' seething resentment over our inability to restore water and electricity worse. More Iraqis will join resistance groups like the Revenge Army and Black Brigades. The attacks will continue, as well our inept attempts to quell dissent. Iraq will devolve into an Israel/Palestine-style spiral of attack, retaliation, retaliation, rinse, lather, repeat.

Pro-war or anti-war, most Americans think we're obligated to stick around until we've rebuilt Iraq. Get real! You have only to look at Afghanistan to see that we're never going to build schools, skyscrapers and superhighways in Iraq. We will never establish a democratic regime. Sooner or later, after the American public has quit caring and stopped paying attention and gotten sick of losing a soldier a day, we will withdraw. And when--not if--that happens, Iraq won't be any closer to democracy than it is today.

Why not admit that the invasion was a mistake now, before more people die in a meaningless war? Cut bait and bring home the troops. Sure, the French will mock us; we deserve it. Iraq may become a Shiite theocracy, but nothing--except a brand-new president with a new take on foreign policy--can stop that now. Disaster is inevitable.

It's infinitely better to take a few PR lumps in the international community than to keep feeding the fedayeen a fresh-faced youngster every day. Please, Mr. Bush: Bring the troops home.

I will confess that I'm not quite as pessimistic as Ted about a decent outcome in Iraq (notice I said "decent", I do believe that a "best case" outcome for the U.S. is well nigh impossible, and any really "desirable" outcome for the U.S. is pretty damned unlikely), but I think it's impossible for the U.S. to achieve it. Looks to me like the best thing to do is for the U.S. to withdraw while the U.N. takes over the peacekeeping/nationbuilding role. But that means that "our" oil most likely goes to other people (and after all, this really is a war over "our oil being under their sand"), and we can't mold Iraq into a pliant puppet state. But if we stay there, I don't see how we're going to avoid it turning into an Islamic theocracy, which is exactly what Dubya went there to avoid.

This just in: Bush lying again....
about the economy (I know, big news right?). Information Clearinghouse has printed an English translation of a Der Spiegel interview with George A. Akerlof, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a "Nobel" laureate in Economics. [Note: I use the scare quotes around the word "Nobel" because of my belief that the "The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel" is not a true Nobel Prize, since it was not endowed by the original bequest of Alfred Nobel. I also don't believe that economics, which is as much pseudoscience and bullshit as it is legitimate, should be dignified by being the subject of a prize with the prestige of the Nobel, but that's just my bias.]

From the interview:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: When campaigning for an even-larger tax cut earlier this year, Mr. Bush promised that it would create 1.4 million jobs. Was that reasonable?

Akerlof: The tax cut will have some positive impact on job creation, although, as I mentioned, there is very little bang for the buck. There are very negative long-term consequences. The administration, when speaking about the budget, has unrealistically failed to take into account a very large number of important items. As of March 2003, the CBO estimated that the surplus for the next decade would approximately reach one trillion dollars. But this projection assumes, among other questionable things, that spending until 2013 is going to be constant in real dollar terms. That has never been the case. And with the current tax cuts, a realistic estimate would be a deficit in excess of six trillion.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the government's just bad at doing the correct math?

Akerlof: There is a systematic reason. The government is not really telling the truth to the American people. Past administrations from the time of Alexander Hamilton have on the average run responsible budgetary policies. What we have here is a form of looting.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: If so, why's the President still popular?

Akerlof: For some reason the American people does not yet recognize the dire consequences of our government budgets. It's my hope that voters are going to see how irresponsible this policy is and are going to respond in 2004 and we're going to see a reversal.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What if that doesn't happen?

Akerlof: Future generations and even people in ten years are going to face massive public deficits and huge government debt. Then we have a choice. We can be like a very poor country with problems of threatening bankruptcy. Or we're going to have to cut back seriously on Medicare and Social Security. So the money that is going overwhelmingly to the wealthy is going to be paid by cutting services for the elderly. And people depend on those. It's only among the richest 40 percent that you begin to get households who have sizeable fractions of their own retirement income.

Some good came out of the Policy Analysis Market scheme:
Namely, the furor over it resulted in the resignation of John Poindexter, noted felon-who-got-off-on-a-pure-technicality.

Interesting juxtapositions department:
According to a (probably) very impeachable source, August 15 is:

National Relaxation Day (US),

National Failures Day (US, too), and

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary (Roman Catholic Church).

There has to be some deep, hidden meaning in this juxtaposition of "holidays". One of these days I'll figure it out.

From South Knox Bubba:
Back in March, when supposedly we were still frantically in diplomatic negotiations for a "this is our last warning" UN resolution against Iraq, it appears that University of Tennessee President John Shumaker was receiving emails from a Washington lawyer, inquiring if UT would be interested in partnering with the RAND Corporation in creating a teacher training institute and an international high school in "postwar Iraq".

Just more proof that the Bush administration had planned this war long before the start date, and was insincerely "negotiating" to avoid the invasion.


Like that's really surprising.

I expect the Tennessee flag here at the University to fly at half-staff today...
On my drive to work every morning, I pass the World Famous Sun Studio. This morning, as I passed Sun I noticed a couple news vans parked in front of the studio, with a couple camera crews apparently shooting their news babes (and they were; the Channel 5 news babe in particular was wearing a dark blue suit with a short skirt and a pair of gorgeous legs to die for) live for the morning news shows. Here's why: Sam Phillips, rock pioneer, dies at 80.

Sam Phillips, rock pioneer, dies at 80
Launched Sun, Elvis, Jerry Lee

By Michael Lollar
July 30, 2003

Sam Phillips, the man who turned Memphis into the birthplace of rock and roll as architect of Elvis Presley's earliest recordings, died Wednesday evening after an illness of several months.

A cause of death was not immediately available and funeral arrangements were pending early today for the founder of Sun Records.

"We're just trying to celebrate his life at this point. When he did it, it was considered a national disgrace,'' said son Knox Phillips of his father's legendary recordings of black and rock and roll musicians. "Now it's considered a national treasure. I don't think any other Memphian had any more effect on the world than Sam.''

Knox Phillips said his father fell ill Wednesday while watching a Chicago Cubs baseball game and was taken to St. Francis Hospital.

Phillips was 80, but even in his later years he remained a youthful presence whose company was sought by major musical acts visiting the city.

His later years also saw critical plaudits and honors for an unorthodox and controversial style that defined not only the rock and roll sound but rock and roll as a business.

His former wife, Becky Phillips, described him as inquisitive by nature.

"Sam wanted to learn anything about everything and to use his knowledge to make a difference," she said in a written statement. "As he grew older, he had a sincere desire to help resolve the prejudice the world reflected."

Phillips was what one of Elvis's Memphis Mafia members called "the Thomas Edison of rock and roll." Even before Elvis, he recorded Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston with the driving beat that came to be the hallmark of rock. It is now considered the first rock song, but it was eclipsed by Elvis and the pantheon of rockers, including Jerry Lee Lewis, that Phillips later introduced to the world.

Ironically, the rhythm and blues recordings that were the bedrock of Phillips's recording business influenced Presley and the entertainers that followed him to the corner of Union and Marshall.

When he recorded Elvis's version of That's All Right in 1954, Phillips started a chain reaction that turned Elvis into the world's most enduring superstar. An outrage to the '50s fans of Frank Sinatra and Doris Day, the raunchy music helped create the generation gap and went platinum all over again with the release of Elv1s's 30 No. 1 Hits last year.

Author Peter Guralnick, whose books include a definitive two-part biography of Presley, said Wednesday night Phillips was one of the world's great communicators with a "democratic vision."

"Against all the odds and societal strictures, he set up a studio that initially recorded nothing but blues and rhythm and blues," Guralnick said. "People who had no voice, he gave them a chance to be heard. The music he gave changed the world."

Becky Phillips said her husband ran the studio by a simple but revolutionary rule at a time when racial segregation was not just custom, but the law.

The doors were "open unconditionally - period. A person could be black, white, down on his luck, big or little," she said. "A person's color was determined by what was in his heart and soul . . . He wasn't afraid of telling the truth about talent. If you didn't have it, he never hesitated to tell you."

Before Elvis ever walked into Sun Studio, Phillips had recorded Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas and Little Junior Parker among others. After selling Elvis's contract to RCA for about $40,000 in 1954, Phillips went on to make stars of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich.

Originally of Florence, Ala., Phillips moved to Memphis in 1945 after working as a recording engineer in Nashville. He worked for WREC Radio, helping engineer broadcasts of big bands live from The Peabody .

On the side, he opened Memphis Recording Service, recording black artists and selling the cuts to record companies for distribution. Phillips started Sun in 1952.

Sun's role in blues music and introducing black bluesmen to the world would have put Sun on the map even without Elvis, says Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. But with Elvis and the rest of Sun's rockabilly cast, Phillips "is a massive part of the history of music. He got it before anybody," says Soden.

Seems to me that everyone in Memphis should get the day off to mourn.

Administration claims to the contrary....
an article in the WaPo today reports that Iraqi scientists aren't telling us what Bush says they would: where the evidence of the WMD development programs is.

Despite vigorous efforts, the U.S. government has been unsuccessful so far in finding key senior Iraqi scientists to support its prewar claims that former president Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive program to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to senior administration officials and members of Congress who have been briefed recently on the subject.

The sources said four senior scientists and more than a dozen at lower levels who worked for the Iraqi government have been interviewed by U.S. officials under the direction of the CIA. Some scientists have been arrested and held for months, others have made deals in return for information and at least one has agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq.

No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs.

In earlier speeches, Bush and his puppetmeisters have pointed to Saddam's duplicitous behavior: "Why is he acting like he's hiding something?" Well, seems to me that Dr. Susan Block (noted "sexologist") had something pertinent to say on that score:

So what if Saddam acted like he had something to hide? A lot of men do. Like I explained, almost a year ago in these pages, "Saddam is the kind of guy who brags he's got nine inches, then won't let you unzip his pants for fear you'll laugh at his actual four and a half (and he'd have to kill you for that)."

Just hope you don't get Judge Judy....
Linux Journal has a pretty good article on going to small claims court to enforce your right to a refund if you don't accept the Microsoft Windows license that comes with your PC (e.g., if you want to wipe Windows and install Linux....). Only authoritative for California, though (if that much).

Microsoft installing Linux...
in a test lab, and I'll wager any amount of money that their benchmarking will claim, when the dust clears, that Linux runs a poor second to MS-DOS 4.01. See Microsoft takes Linux for a test-drive for the gory details.

Was the "Policy Analysis Market" a bad thing?
James Surowiecki says "no" in an interesting Slate column, and I think he makes some interesting and possibly valid points. Possibly valid because I've considered some of them myself the past couple days: the uncanny accuracy of markets at assimilating information and all that. However, when you come down to it, the way the idea was floated wasn't exactly tactful, and that's probably what killed it in the end.

Though a thought strikes my mind. According to Surowiecki, if you go to the PAM webpage, you get a blank page. Not even a "404--Page Not Found" error. That indicates to me (if you haven't checked my vanity page, let me just mention that one of my professional duties is being a webmaster) that the site is still live (why else substitute a blank page? Why not just let the server default to the 404 page, or maybe a 403 ("You are not authorized"; if there's no index page and directory browsing on the server has been disabled) page?

Perhaps the Policy Analysis Market went underground? Which might not be a bad idea in and of itself. Just make it a private, intelligence community betting pool, rather than a more public activity. After all, the Administration seems to think that what we don't know won't hurt us anyway....

Here's the best article I've read yet on the Kobe Bryant case....
Primarily because it's not about the Kobe Bryant case: Rape Nuts

I should mention in passing that it's also the best article I've read yet on that case because it's the only one I've read from first to last word, but again that's because it's not about Kobe. Frankly, I'm totally indifferent to the NBA, and whether Kobe is convicted or acquitted is more or less irrelevant to me. If he did do it, of course he should be convicted and punished, and if he didn't do it he should go free. I don't have an opinion either way, though I do share Barry Crimmins's attitude that the only place this case really should be discussed in such great detail is in a courtroom.

Thought for the Day:
If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people smiling?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Great news
A Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll shows that only 47% of those polled would vote to re-elect Bush. This is, apparently, the first time that his poll numbers have dipped below the critical 50% point.

Josh Marshall, on the Valerie Plame "outing"
In case you haven't been paying attention, Valerie Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, the ex am-yellowcakebassador who performed the investigation of the Iraq-Niger-yellowcake documents for the CIA (at the request of Vice President Cheney's office). When Wilson took his story public in the New York Times, White House functionaries told columnist Robert Novak that Plame was a CIA operative working on issues of WMD proliferation.

Marshall, in The Hill, writes:

So far, the White House’s reaction has been awfully weaselly. When pressed, Scott McClellan told reporters: “I’m saying no one was certainly given any authority to do anything of that nature, and I’ve seen no evidence to suggest there’s any truth to it.”

Frankly, I think Novak’s column gives us plenty of evidence. But who cares whether Andy Card signed off on it or not. It never should have happened at all — not least of which because it probably violated federal law. No one at the White House should think it’s okay to use the privileged information vouchsafed to them for national security reasons to settle political scores. And, after all, I thought WMD proliferation was something were concerned about.

To date, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for investigations and any number of other senators have told reporters that some sort of inquiry is probably in order. But let’s be honest. We don’t really need any investigations, with all their depositions and fancy lawyers and public grandstanding. If the president wanted to, he could wrap this up with a few quick phone calls. So why doesn’t he?

A few years back, this town sped into paroxysms over claims that the Clinton White House had used FBI files to smear its critics. Even according to Ken Starr, those charges turned out to be baseless. This outrage, on the other hand, actually happened. And, when you think about it, that sort of makes it worse.

Marriage: Straight only or not?
Today's Daily Kos makes an interesting point. Not that Bush's announcement today was surprising, but it most certainly wasn't necessary:

There is no real legal justification for banning gay marriage which doesn't have a religious foundation. Given the realities of modern life, gay families will exist, legally sanctioned or not. Courts may well have to contort themselves to justify marriage between men and women exclusively.

Just because the idea of gay marriage is politically unpopular, doesn't mean one should actively promote banning it. If you had asked people in 1966 if interracial marriages should be permitted, many would have said no. Different cultures, people's biases, all kinds of sound arguments could be made. Morally bankrupt arguments, for sure, but sound.

There is a real political risk for the GOP here. The party doesn't need yet another reason to be called intolerant. Americans have always chosen fairness over bias, no matter how painful the process. Calling for a ban on gay marriage may cause a political backlash which is unpredictable. Who knows what Iraq War hero will declare their homosexuality and demand the right to marry? Or which Hollywood star will have a public gay marriage? The minute this issue becomes about people and not the idea of gay marriage, people will change their minds.

This is also gut check time for the Log Cabin Republicans and fellow travellers like Andy Sullivan. The GOP is pandering to the worst and most ignorant kind of bigotry as they take their money and support. So do they continue to support people who oppose their rights or do they go elsewhere?

The Bush political team is amazingly shortsighted. They go for the tactical gain while they miss the strategic downfall. Let the courts make the call, then go from there. I don't see any profit in pushing this and using loaded language to do so. Marriage is a state issue, letting the states and the courts decide it would be the safe political move. The EU will eventually permit it, Canada already does. Why take such a strong stand for such little potential gain?

Of course, atheist heathen that I am, my knickers aren't in a twist about the notion of gays getting married. The thing that does bother me is the blatant discrimination in terms of 1) denial of benefits to established gay couples (spousal type benefits from employment, such as participation in insurance plans or the ability to be named beneficiary of pension plan survivor's benefits, for example), and 2) denial of property succession (i.e., inheritance rights) to gay partners. Suits me fine if we let them call it "civil union" or "domestic partnership" if the straights are really so tight assed that they want to keep "marriage" and "matrimony" to themselves.

Why do we let the pundit corps get away with it?
Some incomparable musing from Bob Somerby in today's Daily Howler:

To all appearances, the press corps has dropped the 16 words—a weak example of alleged lying that took down a larger story. Condoleezza Rice has suffered real damage, and so, to a lesser extent, has George Bush. But the press corps’ examination was always half-hearted, and when Uday and Qusay gave it up in Mosul, the press corps took a hike on this story. They had always said that the story would die if the news from Iraq improved, and it didn’t take a lot of good news to drive this tale under the boards.

And that’s too bad, because the absurdity of the larger story will now go unexplored. Here are some things we’ve been asked to believe. Most of these oddities have gone unexplored and unremarked upon by the press:

1. The full 90 pages. We’re supposed to believe that Condi Rice didn’t read the full National Intelligence Estimate. The pundit corps—not great readers themselves—seemed unfazed by this startling claim.

2. Who knew? Much more implausibly, we’re supposed to believe that, because she didn’t read the full 90 pages, Rice didn’t know that the State Department had serious reservations about uranium-from-Africa. This is a truly amazing claim—a statement of massive incompetence. After all, even if Rice didn’t read the NIE, there were other ways to know what State thought. Months went by. Rice was still clueless.

3. Who forged? We’re supposed to ignore the oddest part of this story—the fact that the CIA and the State Department couldn’t see through those crudely forged documents. According to the Standard Account, the crudely forged documents were so crudely forged that the IAEA shot them down in two hours. And that was the hapless IAEA, whom the Admin just loves to disparage! But American intelligence received the docs in October 2002, and only learned that they were forged when the IAEA said so last March. Very few questions have been asked about this puzzling story.

4. Where was Condi? According to Rice—who never seems to know a thing—she didn’t know that the State Department had serious reservations about uranium-from-Africa. And she didn’t know that the CIA had similar reservations (whatever they were—see below). But she did know that about those Niger docs, and she knew that the documents seemed to show that Iraq was seeking major uranium. Despite that, we’re supposed to believe that she never had the documents checked, or asked about the examination. October turned into January, then into March, and she still didn’t know where the matter stood. Maybe these stories make sense to some. To us, they make no sense at all.

But none of this was being examined in the half-keistered 16-word flap. The press was constructing a Perfect Storm—bending and making up facts as was needed—and when Perfect Storms blow up Gotcha Gulch, real reporting often comes to an end. Why bother seeking out actual facts when you can invent the facts you need? Readers were handed a pleasing, simplified tale: Bush made a false statement about Niger. Meanwhile, much larger stories went unattended, unresearched, unexplored, undiscussed.

Well, that's a relief...
until they decide what they're going to cut instead. From MSNBC: Flip-flop on air marshal schedules.

And in a year from now we wonder why the Iraqis--and the rest of the world--don't trust us.
A little technical primer here: Basically there are two cell-phone protocols available: CDMA and GSM. Cell phones in the United States, for the most part, use CDMA (T-Mobile, which is basically Deutsche Telekom, is, IIRC the only US provider which uses GSM). The rest of the world uses GSM. For what it's worth, by the way, GSM is a much superior technology, which is one of the reasons why the rest of the world uses it.

That being the case, when it came time to rebuild the Iraqi mobile phone system, what protocol is the US pushing for its new client state? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

If you said GSM.... well, I like the way you think. You're a tech geek, like me. You want the superior technology, and the fact that it's compatible with the equipment that most of the rest of the world is using is yet another clear advantage. GSM is the obvious right choice. So right that only a fool or a Republican (excuse me, but I repeat myself) would decide otherwise.

Unfortunately, you don't think like a politician. Of course, we're pushing CDMA.

Where's the proof, dammit....
Bush gave a press conference today, and in it he said:

We know that Saddam Hussein produced and possessed chemical and biological weapons, and has used chemical weapons. We know that. He also spent years hiding his weapons of mass destruction programs from the world. We now have teams of investigators who are hard at work to uncover the truth.

We know that he produced, possessed and used those weapons? Well, yes, back when Dubya's daddy was in office, he did. In fact, we loved for him to use them then, since (as I recall) he was gassing Iranians so we didn't have to (or he was gassing Iranians so that we didn't have to shoot, bomb or nuke them).

The point is, if there were sufficient stocks of lethal (not merely "past their shelf life and leftover from when Saddam was our puppet") chem and bio weapons that were posing us a danger where are they? Why haven't we found them after what? Four months or more combing Iraq looking for them? If Saddam had them and destroyed them right before the invasion, there'd be evidence of that. But what have we found? Nothing. No chemical or biological weapons. No evidence of their destruction. No evidence of their having been sent elsewhere. Nothing. Nada. Nihil. Zip.

George, I learned the difference between truth and fantasy back before I went to kindergarten. How come you're having such trouble with the concept?

The other death tax....
Of course Bush is hot to repeal the estate tax (or "death tax" as he likes to call it). But what about these other death taxes? According to this story from the St. Louis Business Journal, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that funeral directors in the Show-me State can't charge sales taxes on burial vaults, though they can still charge them on caskets.

Of course, whenever I hear the words "death tax", I always get into a reverie where I imagine myself on my deathbed, about to expire, when a dark suited functionary from the IRS comes in and says, "I'm sorry, Mr. Cleavelin, but you won't be allowed to die until we receive your death tax payment." Ah, if only that were the case.... I'd achieve true immortality.

Penny wise, pound foolish?
I realize that Grover Norquist wants to shrink the government to the point where he can drown it in the bathtub, but will the American populace really stand for this: Air marshals pulled from key flights

From the article:

The decision to drop coverage on flights that many experts consider to be at the highest risk of attack apparently stems from a policy decision to rework schedules so that air marshals don’t have to incur the expense of staying overnight in hotels.


The move to pull air marshals from any flight requiring them to stay overnight is particularly disturbing to some because it coincides with a new high-level hijacking threat issued by the Department of Homeland Security. That warning memo says that “at least one of these attacks could be executed by the end of the summer,” according to a source familiar with the document.

After which, of course, expect the marshals to be back.

Though a disturbing thought keeps crossing my mind. Could the administration be skimping on security precisely so that a hijacking will happen? That would result in the panic level rising, then Bush takes "decisive action" (which no doubt will include more PATRIOT Act type incursions on civil liberties) while also goosing Bush's poll numbers. Or, at any rate, so might Bush's puppetmeisters "reason"...

On one hand, my rational brain tells me "Time to put more tinfoil in your cap, Len." But on the other hand, there's a part of my brain that's saying, "Hey, when they are out to get you, then paranoia is really good sense."

Thought for the Day:
People are more unwilling to give up the word "God" than to give up the idea for which the word has hitherto stood.
--Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The end is nowhere in sight....
As Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive points out: Hit Squad Delusions

Now that George Bush can parade around with the scalps of Uday and Qusay Hussein, Administration officials are speculating that the resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq will evaporate.

I doubt it.

That speculation is based on the assumption that the resistance was organized primarily by Saddam loyalists.

And while some of the opposition may have come from people who refused to get out of the Baath Party, most of it, I believe, represents an indigenous resistance movement that combines two other strains: Iraqi nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

If the Bushies think these strains will all of a sudden lose their potency, they're kidding themselves.

More SCO v. IBM
From NetworkWorld Fusion: SCO targets Linux users

My gut level reaction: SCO is looking to be bought out, or was hoping IBM would settle quickly. Since there's been no quick settlement/buyout, they're trying to spread FUD among Penguinistas in order to get them to pressure IBM to do something to settle up. Maybe more comments after I research in more detail.

Depressing. Simply depressing.
Beautiful young shock troops for Bush. (Premium content; requires either a subscription or viewing of a brief ad in order to acquire a "day pass".)

"As conservatives, we don't hate America," Erickson told his young audience. "The life of a liberal is hell. It is not possible to have a debate, a discussion, with someone who at their root, at their core, hates everything this country stands for but doesn't hate it enough to leave."

Erickson was followed by Jack Abramoff, a powerful right-wing lobbyist and former College Republican chairman, who exhorted the next generation to fight hard, lest "the ascension of evil, the bad guys, the Bolsheviks, the Democrats return."

That equation -- evil = communist = Democrats -- was nearly axiomatic at the convention. Ann Coulter's latest book, "Treason," which tarred virtually all Democrats as traitors, may have been denounced by conservative intellectuals, but its message has pervaded the party. Gene McDonald, who sold "No Muslims = No Terrorists" bumper stickers at the Conservative Political Action Conference in January, was doing a brisk trade in "Bring Back the Blacklist" T-shirts, mugs and mouse pads. Coulter herself remains wildly popular -- Parker Stephenson, chairman of Ohio College Republicans, calls her "one of my favorite conservative thinkers."


"The National Democrat [sic] party seems to have lost its marbles," said DeLay. "It's no longer a serious force in national debate. Its sole organizing principle is an irrational, all-encompassing roiling hatred of George W. Bush, because on every significant political issue since he came into office, he has beaten them like rented mules."

Um... and when Clinton was in office, the GOP's sole organizing principle seemed to be an irrational, all-encompassing roiling hatred of Bill Clinton. If anything, the Repugnicans have been teaching us something for eight years. Or, as seems equally likely, we're seeing an example of what psychologists call "projection".

To gauge how "out of touch" the Democrats are, DeLay instructed, "close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet." The crowd chuckled obligingly.

Bush landed the S-3 Viking? Yeah, riiiiiiiight....

But the cult of personality surrounding Bush bewildered a group of French student conservatives who'd come on a trip funded by right-wing think tanks. Jean Martinez, a dashing 24-year-old who'd organized an 87,000-strong counter-demonstration against the strikes that crippled Paris in June, admires American free-market dynamism and social mobility. Yet he looked askance at the great piles of Bush paraphernalia being hawked at the conference, saying: "This whole iconography ... we don't have this in France."

Alexandre Pesey, a 28-year-old French conservative writing a Ph.D. thesis on the conservative movement in America, England and Germany, admires Bush's honesty and was pleased with the reception his American comrades had given him. But "some are a bit simple," he mused. "You can find strange people with American-flag ties." The bellicose religiosity of the event, with group prayers before every meal, also puzzled him. "That we cannot understand," he says. "Religion is private."

The Frenchmen weren't the only conservatives put off by right-wing religious piety. "The thing ruining the Republican Party is the religious right," says Rosanne Ferruggia, a 19-year-old junior at George Washington University and the publisher of the GW Patriot, a conservative student newspaper. "I don't want Jerry Falwell out there speaking for me. The religious right people in College Republicans are not taken seriously.

"My family members are religious fanatics," says Ferruggia. "Two out of three of their pastors have been convicted of embezzlement." An agnostic, she doesn't oppose gay marriage and thinks Phyllis Schlafly is a "nut job." For Ferruggia and her friends, rancor rather than religion seems to fuel politics. They're ardent but not idealistic.


While Sibeni declared that Bill Clinton had been more dangerous to America than Osama bin Laden, Chen defended the ex-president's economic program. "Without him," Chen argued, "we would not have had globalization. He took a Republican idea, used it as a Democratic idea, and used it to become the most popular president of all time."

Chen seemed so mild and centrist that at one point I called him a closet Democrat. Taken aback, he replied: "How am I a closet Democrat? I'm racist, I love guns and I hate welfare."

He wasn't kidding. "I'm racist against anybody who doesn't work for a living," said Chen, whose family comes from Taiwan. "We're in Washington D.C. You can guess who that is." He's no fan of religion, but says he's less bothered about paying tax dollars to faith-based programs than to "crack whores who have eight kids because it's easier than working."

"I wish there could be racial equality," said Sibeni, who, while in high school, refused to attend Martin Luther King Day celebrations. "The number one reason there's racial inequality is because of hip-hop."

Interesting article in the New York Times technology section....
on estimating the cost of spam: Diverging Estimates of the Cost of Spam. Frankly, from my own experience, I think that the Chicken Littles tend to overstate the costs quite a bit. Hitting the delete key hasn't gotten too excessive, yet. But then again, I may lead a sheltered life.

An admission against interest?
Fred Kaplan: Baker to Baghdad? Fred seems to think that a couple of recent happenings on the Iraq front constitute an implicit admission by Bush that the occupation is going badly. And that may not be a bad thing

Two recent signs suggest not only that postwar Iraq is going badly but that top Bush officials, finally, know it's going badly.

The first sign came last week in a little-noticed article in Stars and Stripes, reporting that the 3rd Infantry Division will no longer accommodate embedded reporters—or, with few exceptions, reporters period.

Embedding was a brilliant PR gesture, designed to weave a bond of intimacy and dependency between war reporters and war fighters, but it could remain brilliant only as long as there was a good story to tell. All through Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was a good story indeed, and the embeds beamed it far, wide, and enthusiastically. (Remember CNN's Walter Rodgers, embedded with the 3rd I.D.'s 7th Cavalry, breathlessly telling viewers how "we" broke through the defenses and took the bridge?)

Now, however, the story has turned sour, to the point where two soldiers with the 3rd I.D., who had grown all too accustomed to talking freely with the press, publicly lambasted not just the brass but the political bosses—on network television, faces exposed, names on the record—in startlingly stark language.


The second, and more intriguing, sign was the news over the weekend that President Bush is asking James Baker, his father's old secretary of State, to go to Baghdad and help supervise Iraqi reconstruction. It is not known whether Baker will take the job—at this point, it's a little murky how definitively Bush made the offer—but, however it turns out, the story is quite stunning in at least two ways.

First, Baker is 73, living comfortably, and widely respected both as a diplomat and as a political operator (on the latter point, he could claim much credit for pulling Bush out of the Florida fires and thus helping install him in the White House). In other words, if Baker took this job—and Bush must have known this before thinking about offering it to him—it would not be as an underling to Paul Bremer, the current U.S. administrator, or even as someone who reports, as Bremer does, to Rumsfeld. He would take it only as (de facto, if not de jure) the man in charge.


The second interesting thing about Baker is that he is, and always has been, deeply opposed to the unilateralist views that currently dominate the Pentagon and the White House. Last August, Baker wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times, urging the president not to "go it alone" in confronting Iraq and to "reject the advice of those who counsel doing so." (Shortly after that piece—which was widely viewed as having been inspired, or at least approved, by Bush's father—the president did indeed take his case to the United Nations.) Just last April, at a speech before Toronto's corporate elite at the Empire Club of Canada, Baker talked of mending U.S. relations with the traditional allies and working more again with the United Nations.

The fact that Baker is being considered for the job might indicate that Bush finally realizes he can't secure and rebuild Iraq on his own, that allies are necessary. And who better to get those allies onboard than Baker, who got them onboard before?

And so we might soon see a great battle on the Potomac, a rematch of last year's grueling duel of Powell and the diplomats vs. Rumsfeld and the neo-cons. Only this time, with a Bush-backed Baker tipping the scales, the diplomats could win.

Thought for the Day:
I've known the president. I knew him when he was governor. And I believed him when he said he was going to be a compassionate conservative. I believed him when he said he was going to increase AmeriCorps. The only thing the president has kept his word on, as far as I can see, is he said he was going to invade Iraq. And he did, but he wasn't even able to be truthful about why.
--Howard Dean

Monday, July 28, 2003

This is too damn good not to blog
This arrived in my in-box just a few minutes ago. I wonder if I was highly recommended by my friend Dr. Mrs. Maryam Abacha?

Dear Sir,

My Name Is MUHAMMOD AL-BASHIR I Was The General Manager Of The Presidential Palace In Basra Untill The U.S And The British Army Invaded The Town Recently. I Am Not A Military Man But Was A Civilian Staff Of The Now Overthrown Government Of Saddam Hussein.

It Is On Record That When The British Soldiers Finally Subdued The Iraqi Army, I Personally Handed Over The Presidential Mansion To A Battalion Of The British Army, After Some Valuables In The Mansion Had Been Plundered And Looted By Some Fleeing Iraqi Soldiers.

During This Period, I Was Able To Recover Some Valuables Which I Kept Out Of The Reach Of Both The Fleeing Iraqi Soldiers And The In-Coming British And Their American Allies. These Valuables Included $19.8 Million (Nitheen Million, Eight Hundred Thousand United States Dollars), Some Gold And Other Precious Stones.

When It Became Obvious That I Was Going To Loose Everything Because Of The Raging War And The Need For Me To Run For Cover, I secretly siphoned the sum of $19.8 million USD (Nitheen Million, Eight Hundred Thousand United States Dollars)And Other Valuables out of Iraqi and deposited the money with a security firm that transports valuable goods and consignments through diplomatic means.

I am contacting you because I want you to go to the security company and claim the money on my behalf since I have declared that the consignment belong to my foreign business partner. You shall also be required to assist me in investment in your country and Help Me Get Out Of Iraq And As Well Secure A Permanent Residence Permit For Me In A Safe Country, Where I Can Live The Rest Of My Life.

I Want To Get Out Of Iraq Fast. My Passport And Driver's Licence Have Been Lost To The War. I Have No Telephone To Call Because All Telephone Services Have Been Cut. No Water, No Electricity Here. To Send This Mail, I Had To Go To A Hotel Where Foreigners Are Staying. I Also Managed To Survive Everyday Because Of The Kindness Of The British Soldiers Who Now Occupy The Presidential Mansion.

If I Am Able To Get This Help Urgently, I Will Like To Leave Iraq Quickly. And For Your Services, I expect you to declare what percentage of the total money you will take for your assistance.

When I receive your positive response I will let you  know where the security company is and the payment pin code to claim the money which is very important.

Please Contact Me Through The above Email, If You Are Willing To Help Me.

Alternative email address(

My Regards,

But where's the evidence?
For the last week, Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler has been doing yeoman service deconstructing "The Perfect Storm" of punditry surrounding the Niger-Iraq-yellowcake "story". As Bob correctly points out, Bush's SOTU assertion, "British intelligence has learned..." didn't reference the Iraq-Niger allegations specifically, and hasn't Tony Blair been claiming that there was other intelligence supporting the more general conclusion that Iraq was attempting to get uranium from Africa? Somerby, in his Howler today (referenced in the second link in this entry), suggests that the Congo and South Africa might well be the places where Iraq was trying to obtain uranium. And that's certainly plausible. But there's still something that bothers me about that.

The problem with it, as I see it, is that this is such an easy way out for the Administration that they should be all over it like a wet t-shirt. Why aren't they? Instead of taking the offensive, and asserting the existence of the alternative British intel sources (all the Faux News "pundits" would be happy to follow that lead, I'd bet), the White House just basically rolled over, said "Oh dear, those 16 words should never have found their way into the SOTU", and then proceeded to commence to assigning the blame (with the result that Tenet and Rice both look highly untenable right now....).

This failure of the Administration to use such an obvious counter-strategy suggests to me that there's no there there. That basically, there was no British intel, other than the Iraq-Niger forgeries, and this intelligence was sexed up to justify a war that had already been decided on.

I'm willing to keep my mind open. The evidence may yet show itself. But I'm not holding my breath.

Hmmmmmm.... maybe the "George 'Hitler' Bush comparisons aren't so far fetched
USN Democratic Veteran had this to say about our latest tactic:

We should all be ashamed. The war in Iraq has taken a turn that seems almost indefensible by any standards we as Americans know. We have started taking hostages. Family members of wanted Iraqi former government and military officials are being taken, a note left and we wait. I do not believe that this policy we developed in the field. It was developed in Berlin, most likely at Prinz-Albrecht-Str-8, the headquarters of the Gestapo. NO GODWINS LAW CRAP in the comments please. This is right out of the playbook of the Gestapo, the Kempei-Tai, STASI, and any other secret police organization of modern times.


Has the humiliation of the Iraqi conflict become so great for the 1600 Crew, that we are risking what little credibility we have left as Americans to stoop to this level? The attacks on our servicemen will continue with or without the support of former members of the Saddam regime being 'out there'. Remember, the Sunni and some Shi'a clerics want us gone, and want a free hand to build their secular Islamist state in Iraq. Any actions that the perceive as benefitting that cause they will support, likely for as long as it takes.

If there were ever a reason not trust the 1600 Crew, this is it. We're sowing the wind here...and we all know what the payoff for that is, right?

From The Australian
U.S. could have taken Saddam's sons alive. From the article:

THE United States could have captured Saddam Hussein's sons alive, a Syrian official said.

The official also hinted that killing the pair in a US military raid in Iraq might have been to cover up past US political dealings with the defunct regime .

Why am I not surprised?

I wouldn't believe this...
if it weren't Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo saying so, and even then I am still a little skeptical.

Anyway, according to Marshall (who cites the Associated Press), the Pentagon is developing a commodities-market style trading system which would basically allow "traders" to bet on political and economic events in the middle east--including things like terrorist incidents and assassinations. Says Marshall:

In the old days, all you could accomplish with mass-casualty terrorism was physical destruction, human suffering and death on a massive scale. Now, through effective market manipulation, you can achieve those ends and reap immense profits. Maybe even enough to fund the next terrorist attack.

Will there be derivatives?

Great news
Larry J. Sabato is a political scientist at the University of Virginia, and is far from liberal in his personal political leanings.

It's therefore interesting that his "crystal ball", where he's projecting the possible results of the 2004 race, shows that Bush would probably lose to Edwards, Gephardt, Graham or Lieberman, and probably win against Kerry.

it's way too early to be doing handsprings, cartwheels or back flips, but given that Larry Sabato is "conventional wisdom incarnate", to quote one description I've read (Today's Daily Kos, as a matter of fact, who I should credit for this news) and he gives a number of Democratic candidates a good chance to win even now shows how the prattling of some right-wing die-hards I know is not justified.

Bush tries to bullshit African Americans....
The LA Times reports that Bush spoke to the National Urban League convention, "portray[ing] himself as a compassionate leader who is striving to help minorities achieve greater parity in society."

Yep. The man definitely has problems distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Why is the U.N. giving in to the bully who wants to destroy it?
A piece at AlterNet (Operation Oily Immunity) notes: "The Bush/Cheney administration has moved quickly to ensure U.S. corporate control over Iraqi resources at least through the year 2007. The first part of the plan, created by the UN under U.S. pressure is the Development Fund for Iraq which is being controlled by the U.S. and advised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).... In May, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1483, which ended sanctions and endorsed the creation of Development Fund for Iraq, to be controlled by Paul Bremer and overseen by a board of accountants, including UN, World Bank, and IMF representatives. It endorsed the transfer of over $1 billion (of Iraqi oil money) from the Oil-for-Food program into the Development Fund. All proceeds from the sale of Iraqi oil and natural gas are also to be placed into the fund."

Why does the U.N. have no guts? Why don't they sit this one out completely until the U.S. comes crawling back begging the U.N. to take over.?Seems to me that point will be reached soon enough.

Another gem from the same article: "During the initial assault on Baghdad, soldiers set up forward bases named Camp Shell and Camp Exxon. Those soldiers knew the score, even if the Pentagon's talking points dismissed any ties between Iraqi oil and their blood."

When you squander the best wishes and support of the entire world...
that's one thing, I suppose. But when you squander the best wishes and support of some of your more fierce loyalists at home, well, you just have to wonder if Dubya is a neuron short of a functioning synapse. The Knight-Ridder papers are reporting that Bush's support among military retirees is waning, as a result of perceptions that Bush has failed to keep promises made to the retiree community.

From the article:

President Bush and his Republican Party are facing a political backlash from an unlikely group - retired veterans.

Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that "promises made to our veterans will be promises kept."

"He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions," said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. "I will vote non-Republican in a heart beat if it continues as is."

"I feel betrayed," said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas.

Many veterans say they will not vote for Bush or any Republican in 2004 and are considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. Others say they will sit out the election, angry with Bush and Republicans but unwilling to support Democrats, whom they say are no better at keeping promises to veterans. Some say they will still support Bush and his party despite their ire.


Veterans have two gripes.

One is a longstanding complaint that some disabled vets, in effect, have to pay their own disability benefits out of their retirement pay through a law they call the Disabled Veterans Tax.

Since 1891, anyone retiring after a full military career has had their retirement pay reduced dollar for dollar for any Veterans Administration checks they get for a permanent service-related disability. However, a veteran who served a two-or-four-year tour does not have a similar reduction in Social Security or private pension.

A majority of members of Congress, from both parties, wants to change the law. A House proposal by Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., has 345 co-sponsors.

But it would cost as much as $5 billion a year to expand payments to 670,000 disabled veterans, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier this month told lawmakers that the president would veto any bill including the change.


The second complaint is over medical care. After decades of promising free medical care for life to anyone who served for 20 years, the government in the 1990s abandoned the promise in favor of a new system called Tricare. The Tricare system provides medical care, but requires veterans to pay a deductible and does not cover dental, hearing or vision care.

A group of military retirees challenged the government in a class-action lawsuit, won a first round, then were seriously disappointed when Bush allowed the government to appeal. Government won the next legal round.

"I voted for the president because of the promises," said Floyd Sears, a retired Air Force master sergeant in Biloxi, Miss. "But as far as I can tell, he has done nothing. In fact, his actions have been detrimental to the veterans and retired veterans. I'm very disappointed about the broken promise on medical care."


Not all military retirees will vote against Republicans, of course. Some, like retired Air Force Lt. Col. Gene DiBartolo of Tampa, will vote for Bush again gladly.

Though he believes his fellow veterans have a just complaint, he said the government simply cannot "do everything."

As for Bush, he said, "he has restored honor and dignity to this nation ...

"It would take a lot more than this issue to dissuade me from my support of this man."

Near as I can tell, the anti-Bush sentiments are being voiced by retired enlisteds. Notice that the token pro-Bush sentiment was voiced by a retired officer. The good news there is that there are a lot more retired enlisteds than retired officers.

But you have to wonder what planet Col. DiBartolo is living on. Bush, he says, "has restored honor and dignity to this nation..." By lying to the people, by committing crimes against humanity (waging aggressive war, in violation of the Nuremberg accords), and by weasling out of admitting any responsibility for his mistakes (like the infamous "16 words"). That's restoring honor and dignity to the nation?

When in doubt, feed them the lie you know they've accepted....
Tim Harper of the Torono Star writes today that Wolfowitz is still pushing the discredited Iraq-Al Quaeda-9/11 link. So it seems that the Bush "what I want to be true is true" epistemology is accepted by the rest of the senior members of the Administration.

But on the other hand, significant numbers of Americans still believe (despite all the evidence) that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by Iraqis. So obviously the Administration figures that the safest strategy is to feed the American public the lies they know the public have accepted, anyway.

The Jackals of IT
Column in NetworkWorld Fusion by Mark Gibbs

And y'know, "jackals" is probably one of the nicer things I've heard a penguinista call SCO lately....

We knew it!!!!
From the Urban Legends meister at Hunting for Bambi is a hoax!!!

July 27, 2003
It's Official: 'Hunting for Bambi' a Hoax, Says Vegas Mayor
After weeks of lying to the media, Las Vegas promoter Michael Burdick finally came clean last Thursday, admitting to city officials that 'Hunting for Bambi' is a hoax and that his company, Real Men Outdoor Productions Inc., has never actually conducted 'hunting expeditions' in which wealthy male patrons stalked naked women with paintball guns. 'It was all staged,' Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman told the Associated Press last Thursday after grilling Burdick. 'The purported "Hunt for Bambi" was a scam. There were actors and actresses and there wasn't even the real shooting of paint balls.' The purpose of the scam was to sell videos, the mayor explained, the only business activity for which Burdick and his company are actually licensed.

What should Microsoft do with their piles of cash?
Says noted Microsoft shill David Coursey: Start from scratch, and give us a truly easy to use, secure OS.

Interesting concept. Though frankly, I'd rather see someone else develop the easy to use, secure OS of the future. Bill Gates and Steve Balmer have enough money as it is, dammit....

From the column:

I'm not saying that everyone should be ecstatic over the new MS operating system. But wouldn't it be nice if at least some decent-sized group really loved it? I mean, couldn't Microsoft create an operating system that users really like? They haven't done so yet.

And if Microsoft doesn't want to take me up on this suggestion--and perhaps hire me to implement it--perhaps the spare MS cash could be used, as some have suggested, to bail out the State of California, perhaps taking Silicon Valley as collateral. Or perhaps Microsoft could do a real community service: Buy Oracle and put Larry out to sea. For good.

From this week's "Ironic Times":

Kindergarten Evaluation: George W. Bush, 1951

George is one of the most delightful children we've ever met. And what a creative imagination! We're all certain George will be a terrific artist or writer, he is so inventive. However, he seems to be having trouble distinguishing between what he wishes would happen, and what has really happened. Of course, in the creative arts, this can be a lifelong source of inspiration. But we're a little worried that if George chooses a different path, it could lead to trouble. We suggest Mom and Dad try to gently explain the difference between what we wish would be true, and what is actually true!

Thought for the day:
I'm not a pessimist. I like to think of myself as an optimist, with a reality chaser.
--Bob Zany

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Your Iraq war glossary
Here's another one that's too good not to quote in its entirety. From The Toronto Star:

Terms of Engagement
Herewith, definitions to keep on top of current events

By Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun

It's very difficult keeping up with Mideast news due to the Orwellian newspeak coming from Washington.

So here's a handy list of key terms, translated into simple English.

# Liberation - Invasion.

# Coalition - The U.S. and British invaders, plus some troops from rent-a-nations like Romania and Poland. In the past, "the coalition" would have been called imperial forces and mercenary auxiliaries.

# Dictator - A ruler you don't like, or who does not cooperate.

# Statesman - A cooperative dictator.

# Stability - when things go the way Uncle Sam likes, ie., the status quo.

# Instability - when things don't go the way Unc Sam wants, ie., when trouble-makers try to change the status quo.

# Iraq reconstruction - a process whereby big firms that contribute to the president's re-election campaign obtain contracts to rebuild the damage caused by U.S. bombing.

# Freeing Iraq's oil assets - Washington's seizure and sale of Iraqi oil, which in no way can be compared to Cuba's seizure and sale of U.S.-owned property, a dastardly crime.

# Mideast democracy - regimes that hold rigged elections and obey Washington's orders.

# Free trade - pouring goods and services into the newly "liberated" country, and buying up its key industrial assets at fire-sale prices.

# Terrorism - violent acts by dangerous fanatics and malcontents who refuse to accept the downtrodden status assigned to them by Washington.

# Anti-terrorism - State terrorism.

# Uranium - a yellowish mineral from Niger that causes red faces in the White House.

# Iraq Administrator - A pro-consul or gaulieter, disguised as a minor suburban bureaucrat.

# Drones of death - Iraqi remotely piloted aircraft that the White House claimed were poised to fly off Iraqi ships lurking in the North Atlantic and shower fiendish germs on a sleeping America - which turn out to be two model airplanes, only one of which could fly. See "vans of death."

# Vans of death - Claimed by Washington to be Iraqi mobile germ warfare laboratories, but turn out, on inspection, to be British-supplied trucks for inflating weather balloons.

# Weapons of Mass Destruction - Nasty weapons, existing or non-existing, that the other side has. When your side has them, they become invisible.

# Torture - a foul act committed by your enemies. When your side does it, it's called intensive interrogation in Guantanamo.

# Homeland security - bolting the barn door after the horse has escaped by rounding up Muslims and denying them due process of law.

# French - Insubordinate ingrates and depraved chain-smokers who had the nerve to try to block the jolly little war in Iraq, and now sneer, "we told you so."

# Germans - Untrustworthy. Just when you order them to be warlike again, they go soft. Wait until they see the next dozen WWII epics from Hollywood.

# Canadians - A bunch of pot-smoking, pinko, wimp nancy boys who marry their best friends and refuse to obey orders from the Great White Father in Washington.

# Islam - An evil faith that promotes violence and hatred, as proven by the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, who learned about the agents of the devil while encountering them in motel rooms.

# Fox News - The Ministry of Truth.

# Al-Jazeera News - All the bad news we don't want to hear. See Fox News.

# Die-hards and Saddam loyalists - Any Iraqis opposing the invasion of their country.

# Traitors and friends of Saddam - Journalists who questioned the Bush Administration's lurid claims over Iraq's purported threat.

# Moderate - A Mideastern ruler who toes the line and makes nice to Israel.

# Peacekeepers - Troops from browbeaten or bribed vassal states sent to perform garrison duty in U.S.-occupied nations that the Pentagon wants to avoid, or lacks the troops to perform.

# New Iraqi government - An august body that leaps to its feet when a U.S. soldier enters the room, and has total authority over garbage collection and sewers.

# Saddam Hussein - A former close American ally who got too big for his britches. If not assassinated, may soon be needed again to run Iraq for Washington.

# Uday and Qusay - Yes, Saddam's boys were big-time delinquents, but Crazy Uday's biggest mistake was probably making fun of George W. Bush in his newspaper, calling the prez a draft-dodging wimp. Perhaps that's why he and Qusay got the multi, anti-tank missile treatment - Texas justice - rather than a nice show trial in Baghdad.

# Eye-Raq - A democracy-seeking Arab state that volunteered for mentoring and tutelage from Washington in exchange for helping out American drivers of SUV's.

Five soldiers die in 24 hours....
As noted in today's Daily Kos (cites in the article there).

How bad are things in Iraq? As Steve Gilliard notes:

When they attack you from inside a children's hospital you have a lot of problems.

Oprah Winfrey? OPRAH WINFREY? Greatest pop cultural icon of all?
What drugs were they taking when they decided that one?

Bush releases the report on Iraqi weapons development...
that he used to justify his conclusion that Iraq possessed nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. And it looks like it was all a put on. Dumbya may have believed it, but it doesn't seem to have added up.....

On a grander scale, some presidential advisors must believe that declassifying portions of the report also shows that the administration had ample reason to launch a preemptive war against Iraq, with or without the uranium allegation. Does the intelligence estimate really show that?

A close reading of the released document suggests two things: First, the administration clearly believed that Iraq had large caches of biological and chemical weapons and an active program to produce more. But the report, along with sources familiar with it, also makes clear that the evidence to support this belief was shockingly thin. Neither the released portions nor the full report substantiate the administration's view that Iraq represented an immediate threat to the United States or the region.


Yet, the National Intelligence Estimate provided all the ammunition the president needed. It clearly concluded that Hussein had actual weapons of mass destruction. Not only did the report assert that Iraq "probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons, and possibly as much as 500 metric tons" of chemical agents, much of it added in the last year, it also suggested that, if he was feeling sufficiently threatened, Hussein would not hesitate to launch "clandestine attacks" — probably biological — on U.S. soil.

The problem is that neither the released portion of the report nor, according to sources familiar with it, the full intelligence estimate gives credible backup for such allegations. There are no photographs of weapons sites, no substantiation of many allegations, no "proof" that would be of use to inspectors or targeters.


The intelligence agencies admit in the National Intelligence Estimate that they "lack[ed] specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs." Bush insiders committed to toppling Hussein merely saw such reservations as testimony to the success of Iraqi deception.

The real revelation in the released document is that a preemptive war was justified on very weak evidence. The Bush administration decided Hussein had to go, but it hid behind flimsy intelligence to pretend that the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction was a justification for war.

The most stable Windows ever.... Riiiiiiiiiiiiight!
The New York Times is reporting that Bill Gates is admitting it. There's still quite a way to go for Windows....

But despite a concerted effort to improve the reputation of its products for security and stability, Microsoft has been plagued by a series of embarrassing computer security flaws, including a new security hole in a program used to play video and audio files that it made public on Wednesday.

Mr. Gates acknowledged today that the company's error reporting service indicated that 5 percent of all Windows-based computers now crash more than twice each day.

Got one eye on VH1's 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons....
(Hey, it's background noise...) Actually, they're pissing me off a bit in confusing some actors with their iconic roles. For example, they list "Henry Winkler" as a pop culture icon. Granted, Henry's a good actor (probably quite underrated, actually), but it's Fonzie who's the icon, not Henry (and in fact, their snippet about Winkler was all about Fonzie, not about Winkler himself. Granted, there are a few actors who are iconic and who have played iconic roles (Eastwood and Inspector Harry Callahan come immediately to mind, and I'm sure there are a few more), but I really wish they'd keep the iconic character separate from the actor....

I've been neglecting the SCO v. IBM case reports that IBM may be starting to strike back against SCO, recently telling its sales force that SCO's claim of copyright infringement against Linux is undercut by the fact that SCO itself has shipped a Linux distribution. SCO, of course, counters that the mere act of making a Linux distribution available isn't the same as releasing the copyright in the Unix properties that SCO is claiming is there.

Possibly, but on the other hand, the balance of probablilty is that if there is any Unix code in Linux, SCO may be the reason it got there... Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely pointed this out in his "I, Cringely" column over on way back on June 5:

Where, then, did IBM get those Unix parts it is supposed to have stolen? They certainly didn't come from IBM's version of Unix, AIX, which bears little internal similarity to any other Unix. I think the parts may have come from SCO, itself.

Here is where institutional memory ought to come into play but doesn't seem to be. Remember that the motto of the combined Caldera and SCO was "Unifying Unix with Linux for Business." It is very possible that SCO's Linux team added UnixWare and OpenServer code to Linux. They then sent their Linux developers to SuSE when United Linux was formed. Soon after that, CEO Ransom Love departed. Now the SCO management is scouring the UnixWare, OpenServer and Linux code bases and says that they are finding cut-and-pasted code. Chances are that their former employees put it there.

Thought for the Day:
But these are just the kinds of idle thoughts I entertain during a movie like "Daredevil," which may have been what the Vatican had in mind when it issued that statement giving its limited approval of Harry Potter, as long as you don't start believing in him. Daredevil describes himself as a "guardian devil," and that means there are guardian angels, and that means God exists and, by a process of logical deduction, that Matt Murdock is a Catholic. Please address your correspondence to Rome.
--Roger Ebert

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Here's more Repugnican regard for state's rights
Looking for death in all the wrong places

Basically, Attorney General Asshole... uh, Ashcroft (don't bother to email--I lived in Missouri when John Asshole was our state auditor, state attorney general, governor, and U.S. Senator, so I know how much of an asshole he truly is, and you won't convince me I'm wrong in referring to him as such) is pushing the death penalty in a federal trial in Puerto Rico, notwithstanding that nobody wants it....

Another excellent analysis by William Rivers Pitt
Though the heavens fall

While no one is weeping over the deaths of these two brutes – the passing of Idi Amin this week along with Uday and Qusay has definitely lightened the planet’s load of unrepentant bastards – it is curious to note that, once again, things look brighter for Bush when bodies hit the floor.

It is a false dawn we see here, a hollow hope, a veneer of success stretched thinly over dark and deadly circumstances.

Many Americans believe the US military is capable of virtually anything. The orders are given, the troops are deployed, the battles are won, period. The facts, however, speak differently. The active-duty American military is composed of ten divisions, and each division is comprised of approximately 15,000-20,000 soldiers depending on the duty and the branch of service; an Infantry division will have more troopers than an Armored division, for example.

Four of those divisions are currently deployed in the Gulf region, along with tens of thousands of military personnel tasked to handle basic logistics. One full division stands ready in the no-man’s land between North and South Korea. Another 10,000 troops are deployed in Afghanistan. Another 5,000 are deployed in Bosnia and Kosovo. Add to this American troop deployments in Africa, Europe and the Pacific Rim, coupled with the troop presence on our home soil, and a clear picture begins to develop.

Simple mathematics reveal that our military is stretched to the breaking point. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki warned against burdening twelve divisions worth of duties on a ten-division Army in his retirement speech a month ago. The Bush administration should have listened to him, for the country is now more exposed to peril than it has been in generations. If a serious conflict should break out, say in North Korea, we are quite completely incapable of addressing it.


We forget, with all the noise, that inspectors could have done the job of confirming that Iraq was not a threat to American security. We forget, with all the noise, that over 220 American soldiers would still be alive if that sane and stable course of action had been allowed to continue to its now-foregone conclusion. We forget, with all the noise, that the US military is not in the miracle business, and cannot sustain its function when stretched far beyond its capabilities. We forget, amid new administration rationalizations that we are now seeking a “weapons program” in Iraq, that such a program could have been found by the inspectors, if indeed it exists, without all this death.

We forget, of course, that death is a growth stock for George W. Bush. Death gives him political cover to ramrod through his extremist policies. Death makes Americans fear to question him. Death makes for good television. In Iraq, death fills the coffers of corporations like Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton.

One would think that the death of American soldiers in Iraq would bode ill for Bush and his administration. Not so, counters apologist Rush Limbaugh:

"Folks, we're getting a daily death update out of Iraq, and we're hearing slogans like, ‘One a day,’ and ‘Our troops are being slaughtered,’ from the Democrats, as their willing accomplices in the press try to concoct this notion that the casualty rate over there is outrageous and intolerable. The following statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control website: On a daily basis, on average, 10 Americans die by drowning, and nine Americans die by fire in their homes. 14 Americans die by pedestrian accidents. 27 Americans die in falls. On average, 50 Americans a day are murdered. 118 die in auto accidents, and 25 people die from A.I.D.S. every day, on average. Yesterday, two Americans died in battle in Iraq."

In short, Rush would have us believe these dead American boys are no big deal.


An old Roman maxim states, “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” There is no justice in all this, and the heavens are falling. We are told that Bush speaks to God, that his armchair-to-armchair relationship with the Almighty gives him the direction both he and the nation needs. God better get on the ball here and give George some better directions.

Excellent brief for impeaching Bush, Cheney, et. al.
Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law makes an excellent case for impeaching many of the chief figures in the Administration, including Dumbya Bush himself.


With another Bush Family war of aggression against Iraq staring the American People, Congress and Republic in their face, on Tuesday 11 March 2003, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, which would have jurisdiction over any Bill of Impeachment, convened an emergency meeting of forty or more of his top advisors, most of whom were lawyers, to discuss and debate immediately putting into the House of Representatives Bills of Impeachment against President Bush Jr., Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Ashcroft in order to head off the impending war. Congressman Conyers kindly requested me and Ramsey Clark to come in to the meeting and argue the case for impeachment.


Suffice it to say that most of the "experts" there opposed impeachment on the grounds that it might hurt the Democratic Party get their presidential candidate elected in the year 2004. As a political independent, I did not argue that point--it was not for me to tell Democrats how to get their candidates elected. Rather, I argued the merits of impeaching Bush Jr., Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft under the United States Constitution, U.S. Federal Laws, U.S. Treaties and other International Agreements to which the United States was a contracting party. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution provides that Treaties "shall be the supreme Law of the Land." This so-called Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution also applies to International Executive Agreements concluded under the auspices of the U.S. President such as the 1945 Nuremberg Charter.

Congressman Conyers was so kind as to allow me the closing argument in the debate. Briefly put, the concluding point I chose to make was historical: The Athenians lost their Democracy. The Romans lost their Republic. And if we Americans did not act now we could lose our Republic! The United States of America is not immune to the laws of history!


In the run-up to his 1991 Gulf War, President Bush Sr. feared impeachment. Writing in his diary on 20 December 1990 about the impending war against Iraq, President Bush Sr recorded his fears of impeachment as follows: "But if it drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me." There are thus good grounds to believe that fear of impeachment compelled Bush Sr. to terminate the war early on 28 February 1991 with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein still in power, thus avoiding innumerable and horrendous casualties for Americans and even more so for Iraqis.

Thirteen years later, after President Bush Jr.'s invasion of Iraq, flush with "victory" and the arrogance of power, members of the Bush Jr. administration publicly threatened to attack Iran, Syria, and North Korea. In direct reaction to these threats, on 13 April 2003 former U.S. Secretary of State (under President Bush Sr., no less!) Lawrence Engleburger told the BBC:

     "If George Bush [Jnr] decided he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria and Iran after that
     he would last in office for about 15 minutes. In fact if President Bush were to try that now even I
     would think that he ought to be impeached. You can't get away with that sort of thing in this

Almost immediately after Eagleburger's BBC broadside against them, the Bush Jr. warmongers cooled their public rhetoric and threats against Iran and Syria--but not North Korea.


Certainly, if the U.S. House of Representatives can impeach President Clinton for sex and lying about sex, then a fortiori the House can, should, and must impeach President Bush Jr. for war, lying about war, and threatening more wars. We need one Member of Congress with the courage, integrity, and principles of the late and great Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas. Otherwise, the alternative will be an American Empire abroad, a U.S. Police State at home, and continuing wars of aggression to sustain them--along the lines of George Orwell's classic novel
1984 (1949). Despite all of the serious flaws of the United States government that this author has amply documented elsewhere during the past quarter century as a Professor of Law, the truth of the matter is that America is still the oldest Republic in the world today. We, the People of the United States, must fight to keep it that way! And for the good of all humanity, we must terminate America's Imperial Presidency and subject it to the Rule of Law.

Note: Professor Boyle provides footnotes documenting many of his quotes and claims. Do go read the original.

They're starting to fly the distress flags in Kennebunkport
According to Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos. Gilliard's reaction to reports that Dumbya and his puppetmeisters are contemplating calling in James W. Baker:


This is a joke, right? Poppy and the boys are so nervous that GW is blowing things that they're calling in the family fixer, Jim Baker?

They cannot repair a fundamentally flawed policy with Jim Baker. If he takes the job, which is no lock, he's going to be told the same thing everyone else is told "Bring in the UN". That's a non-negotiable demand on the part of the Europeans.

Besides that, to anyone who has watched the Bush family, this is a bad, bad thing. Baker is their last hope when things get messy. It is the sign that GW is officially over his head. Deep in the bowels of Kennebunkport, a decision has been made to intervene.

If it is was just a matter of bad administration or some errant guerillas, fine, call in the fixer. But it isn't:

Ali Abbas, whose sister is a nurse in the hospital, said he hated the Americans but did not support this attack. "We all agree that we need to fight the Americans," he said. "But did they really have to hit them in a children's hospital?"

Can Jim Baker change Mr. Abbas's mind about the occupation? Because if he can't, then the problem goes a wee bit beyond Bremer. Remember, he's talking about the deaths of three Americans protecting a children's hospital against looters. Not some Task Force 20 guys looking for Saddam. Three guys who's only role was to protect children so they can get medical care minus theft and rape. Yet, so far, not one cleric condems this attack. Iraqis seem indifferent that three American kids got killed protecting their children. Not one word of thanks or appreciation.

That's what needs to be fixed. If even clerics remain indifferent to such a pointless attack, the odds of getting support for an occupation grows dimmer each day.

First things second today, for a change: Thought for the Day:
This is my prediction for the future--whatever hasn't happened will happen and no one will be safe from it.
--J.B.S. Haldane

The geeks must want validation that they're important
According to Computerworld, IT inadequacies helped contribute to the 9/11 intelligence failure.

An antiquated IT infrastructure and cultural turf battles among the FBI and various intelligence agencies resulted in a lack of information sharing and analysis that in turn contributed to the national security community's failure to head off the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the results of a congressional investigation.
The 900-page report of the long-awaited joint inquiry by the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence into the 9/11 attacks was released today.

It found that despite the collection of a massive amount of intelligence and clues that a major terrorist operation against the U.S. was under way, significant deficiencies in IT and political battles between the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) over which agency should control the use and development of certain technologies allowed critical clues to be overlooked.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Some more musings on the war....
Andrew Greeley: Trapped in a quagmire, again.


The trouble with war is the unintended consequences. Consider August 1914. No one wanted a long war in which 15 million to 20 million people would die. The wars in Europe after the end of Napoleon's empire were all quickie conflicts. Two armies came together and fought a single battle. The winner of the battle was the winner of the war. Some territories were exchanged and everyone went home. The classic example was the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Emperor Napoleon III took on the Prussians at Sedan, was soundly defeated and surrendered. The Prussians went home with Alsace and Lorraine, the emperor abdicated, and that was that, except for the sanguinary uprising of the Paris commune.

In 1914, the Austrians wanted to teach the Serbs a lesson. The Russians wanted to protect their fellow Slavs. The Germans assumed they would roll through France just as they had in 1870. The Russians assumed they would overwhelm the Germans by sheer weight of numbers.

They were all wrong. The Serbs kept fighting for four more years. The Germans virtually destroyed the Russian army at the battle of the Masurian Lakes, a prelude to the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917. The Germans almost made it to Paris.


Human nature seems doomed to underestimate the consequences of war, to take for granted that it will be easy and short when in fact it often is not.

It is now reasonably clear that the American government had inadequate intelligence not only about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but about what would happen after the war was won. Although there were warnings about the number of troops necessary for occupation, the costs of the occupation and the reactions of the Iraqi people, these warnings were dismissed. The brilliant ''neocons'' in the Defense Department did not foresee the looting, the sabotage, the hostility to Americans. They did not anticipate the power of Shiite clerics. They did not expect that the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime would be able to mount a guerrilla war. They did not expect the Iraqis to cheer when American soldiers were killed. Apparently, they had never heard about the guerrilla war that ancestors of the Iraqis had fought against the British in the 1920s. In those days the Arabs were glad to be rid of the Turks, whom the British had driven out, but they didn't feel enough gratitude to enter quietly the British Empire. Yet men like Paul Wolfowitz thought the Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims would let the hated Americans set up a democratic--and pro-Israel--state.

This intelligence mistake cannot be blamed on the CIA or on 10 Downing Street.


So we will be trapped in the quagmire indefinitely as the president's approval rating plummets. What will the administration do? My guess is that it will turn mean--though that will only make matters worse. The soldiers from the 3rd Division who complained to ABC News are under threat of punishment. The ABC reporter is dismissed as a homosexual Canadian. These punitive actions are likely to be only the beginning. The ultimate unintended consequences could be a police state.

And a letter to Media Whores Online

Sure is interesting to watch Dubya and friends having to drag out a couple of dead bodies to prove to the world that they aren't lying. I wonder how they got into a position where most of the world won't take anything they say as the truth.

But now we get to watch the Saddam boys (Milly and Vanilly? or should we call them the Ungrateful Dead?) are kicking off their Iraqi tour. And to help off set the huge Iraqi reconstruction bill their manager, Donny Rumsfield, might try and get these boys reclassified as an Iraqi natural resources and take them on a world wide tour next month. For $20 bucks extra you'll be able to get your photo taken with them as you poke them with a stick (stick sold separately).

I thought this kind of post death display of 'outlaws' went out of fashion in the late 1800's when the sheriff would prop up the dead outlaws in public as a trophy/warning to others. But then again what do you expect from the 'Compassionate conservatives' that brought back other quaint traditions like the Crusades.


I love it when I'm ahead of the game....
In private emails and in mailing lists I've made some comparisons between Dubya Bush and Richard Nixon. Nice to see someone agrees.

Against the Grain: George W. Nixon

Bush's Fatal Mistake
Analysis by Michael Hammerschlag:

Blindly and thuggishly, Administration goons are still attempting to punish France and Germany, when the reality is.. they are going to punish us by denying our overextended military, peacekeeping troops. Even India said ‘no’ without UN oversight, why should they expose their troops to certain death in Bush’s Wanton War. Weekend Nat. Guard warriors yanked from their real task as Homeland Security are now sentenced to an unnecessary war without end, and their righteous rancor will increase exponentially. The steady attrition of US troops is increasing- my prediction is that Karl Rove will pull the plug by December, in order to save Bush’s plummeting reelection hopes. We will cut and run from Iraq, but another 200-350 Americans will die, and the devastated country will have another dictator. They know we have no patience. The peace was lost when we stupidly allowed Saddamites and criminals to loot and destroy every institution and installation, which we have no predilection or ability to repair. Incredibly, he radical neo-nuts had no plans for occupation: they assumed, like a Hollywood musical, that the sun would shine and the music swell and problems magically evaporate. And the oil windfall that many hoped was also crippled by looting and a dozen years of sanctions.

The giant sucking sound of lost jobs gets louder
This one is from The Smirking Chimp:

The recession is over.

So says the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of U.S. business cycles. It announced on July 17 that the recession that began March 2001 ended eight months later in November 2001.

The 2001 recession was one of the briefest since World War II, but the bureau also found that it was followed by one of the weakest recoveries. In the months that followed the end of the 2001 recession, the supposedly recovering economy grew at half the rate of previous upturns.

That might explain why there now are 9.3 million Americans that are jobless and why the U.S. unemployment rate is currently at 6.4 percent - the highest it has been in nearly a decade. In the 19 months since the end of the 2001 recession, more than 2 million jobs disappeared.


The U.S. economy would have to generate an average of 300,000 new jobs a month from now until the end of 2004 to create 5.5 million new jobs - that's the promised 1.4 million from the tax cuts and the 4.1 million that White House economists earlier this year predicted would be gained with or without the tax cuts.

Think it's going to happen? Probably not. When Bill Clinton was president, the U.S. economy gained an average of 239,000 jobs per month. Since Bush took office, jobs have disappeared at a rate of 69,000 a month.

It looks like almost a dead certainty that there will not be 5.5 million new jobs by December 2004. If you want some proof, check out the June 9 issue of Fortune. It details a dirty little secret in the American economy - how white collar workers are seeing their jobs outsourced to foreign countries.


Forester Research, a Massachusetts-based technology consultant, estimates that 3.3 million service jobs will move to countries such as Russia and China in addition to English-speaking countries such as India and the Philippines over the next 15 years. Information technology and financial services will be the two sectors that should see the most overseas outsourcing.

"The debate of at major financial services companies today is no longer whether to relocate some business functions but rather which ones and where," Andrea Brierce, managing director of the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told Fortune. "Any function that does not require face-to-face contact is now perceived as a candidate for offshore relocation."

This is a frightening prospect for every person who thinks the U.S. economy can grow its way out of recession. Traditionally, white collar workers have gotten laid off when times are bad and get rehired when things pick up. Now, like their blue collar brethren, they're watching their jobs get shipped overseas and those jobs are likely not coming back.

It's equally frightening for people who still believe that a college degree or senior executive experience is protection against long-term unemployment. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 18.1 percent of the long-term unemployed in 2002 had college degrees and 20 percent were from the executive, professional and managerial category. This compares to 14 percent in 2000 for both segments.

The long-term trend of good, stable and well-paying jobs being replaced by not-so-good, unstable and lousy paying jobs is something that few folks are talking about. But it is a trend that all of the tax cuts in the world won't change.

This is looking like Dumbya's economic planning, too.
Daily Kos is reporting that apparently the troop rotation schedules for troops in Iraq are apparently based on the assumption that there will be an influx of foreign replacement troops, while the govennments in question have not committed to send them yet. That doesn't sound like A Good Thing to me....

No comment necessary
From South Knox Bubba:

The Daily Show

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who is at the center of the Niger uranium and blown CIA agent cover controversy, was on the Daily Show last night. He was, shall we say, not very complimentary of the Bush administration's handling of the affair.

At the end of the interview, Wilson handed Jon Stewart a letter he had received from "Re-Elect Bush/Cheney" signed by Dick Cheney, saying that he had been nominated as a team leader or something or other, and all it would cost to be awarded this prestigious honor was $1000. Hilarity ensured.

This is "justice" in Our Newly Secure Republic:
Anti-War Nuns Could Face Time in Prison

We don't have the resources or the wits to get Bin Laden, but by God we can throw a bunch of nuns in the slammer.

What a wonderful country.

More in honor of Kraftwerk's new album
From The Guardian: Desperately Seeking Kraftwerk

Few bands have ever seemed as rooted in their environment as Kraftwerk. While their German peers - Can, Faust, Tangerine Dream - muddied their cultural identity with a liberal dose of commune-dwelling, acid-munching hippy idealism, it's hard to see how Kraftwerk could have appeared more German without taking to the stage clad in lederhosen. While every one else was letting it all hang out, they sported suits, ties and short haircuts. Their sound was precise, efficient, emotionally cold and technologically advanced. It was music that had bagged the sun loungers while everyone else was still snoozing.

Occasionally, their image even led Kraftwerk into slightly sinister waters. In 1975, Ralf Hütter told one gobsmacked music journalist that "the German mentality" was "more advanced" than anyone else's and that German was "the mother language". The night before I leave, a telephone call comes from Kraftwerk's British press officer. Somehow, the band have got wind of my scheme. Ralf Hütter, it is intimated, will give me an interview on condition that I abandon any plans to go to Düsseldorf. This has rather the opposite effect from the one intended. Why are they so keen to keep me away from Düsseldorf? What am I going to find there? I think of Wolfgang Flür's memoir,
I Was A Robot. Less an autobiography than an extended treatise on Flür's virility, I Was A Robot paints Kraftwerk not as emotionless "man-machines", but shameless groupie hounds. Perhaps Düsseldorf is filled with evidence of their youthful indiscretions, populated by children who bear a startling resemblance to members of Kraftwerk. In the case of Schneider, who the late rock critic Lester Bangs once described as looking like a man who could push a button and blow up half the world without blinking, this is a disturbing thought indeed.


Next, we get sent a list of pre-interview conditions stringent enough to make your average Hollywood superstar baulk. Hütter will not discuss Kraftwerk's history, their KlingKlang studio or indeed anything other than the new album. This poses a problem, as nobody in England has actually heard the new album yet. You suspect the end result will bear an uncanny resemblance to Kraftwerk's most recent German interview, in which Hütter and a fearless correspondent from Der Spiegel spend two pages attempting to bore each other to death. Its gripping highlight comes when Hütter is forced to admit that computers are smaller nowadays than they were in the early 70s. We tactfully decline their kind offer and I head for Heathrow.


Indeed, the only solid information we have to hand is a series of hints to the whereabouts of KlingKlang studios, dropped in Pascal Bussy's
Kraftwerk: Man, Machine and Music. According to Bussy, KlingKlang is near the station, it is a "yellowish" building, it overlooks a cheap hotel and there is a Turkish grocers nearby. Dirk is confident - "we will find this!" - and leads the way to his car.

It quickly becomes apparent that you could never accuse Bussy of giving too much away. Every street adjacent to Düsseldorf station features a yellow-ish building, a Turkish grocers and a cheap hotel, frequently blessed with an appetising name such as Hotel Wurms. Every street also seems to feature a table dancing club, something called a Sexy-Kino and a lot of furtive-looking men. Perhaps realising that driving very slowly up and down the streets of Düsseldorf's red light district while staring out of the car window is liable to attract the attentions of the polizei, Dirk suggests we continue our quest on foot.


Over a glass of Altbier, a remarkable local brew that smells of bacon, we weigh up our options. We have failed to find KlingKlang. Record companies and music shops have proved no use. The largest decimal clock in the world aside, Düsseldorf itself has proved not to be the sort of futuristic technopolis that would inspire Kraftwerk's music, but a slightly dull German city where people like Robbie Williams. We have got nowhere.


I start to giggle, before a troubling thought strikes me. I have flown from England to Düsseldorf, made innumerable telephone calls, wandered around its streets for a day, illegally entered a building, and really annoyed one of the city's top photographers. And what is the sum total of knowledge gleaned from this experience? Have I gained any insight into the fascistic overtones of some of their early statements? Have I discovered the key to an appeal so vast that people will fill a venue just to see the band's former percussionist play live, a decade after his departure? Have I even found out whether or not the Düsseldorf accent is a Teutonic equivalent of Brummie? No.

My investigations have exclusively revealed that one of Kraftwerk's members owns a collapsible bike. Dirk appears at my rapidly-sagging shoulder. "I don't think we win the Pulitzer prize here, huh?" he says softly, a master of understatement.

Thought for the Day:
Northern Ireland is in a mess, Catholics against Protestants. Northern Ireland just goes to show, in a country without Blacks or Jews, white people will improvise.
--Jimmy Walker

Thursday, July 24, 2003

From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo
A good rundown on why the Iraq occupation didn't go as planned, occasioned by Paul Wolfowitz's concession yesterday that the assumptions underlying the Iraq occupation plans [What plans? Never looked to me like there were any plans.--LRC] were erroneous.

Marshall notes:

Give the Post article a good read, because it contains a lot of good information and a solid overview. But if you read it and other similar articles I think it's hard not to come to one conclusion: that on almost every one one of these key issues the predictions and preferred policies of the career/State/ CIA/uniformed military faction turned out to be far closer to the mark than the thinking that was coming out of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) -- the people who ended up in charge of shaping the actual policy.

Some neo-cons and advocates of the Pentagon civilians will argue that an almost equally significant problem was that the NSA, Condi Rice, never forced everyone to get on one page and agree on one policy. So what you had was different parts of the national security bureaucracy devising and pushing contrary policies right up till the last minute, and generally fighting wars with each other while they were supposed to be getting ready to fight a war against Iraq. And there's some measure of truth in this criticism.

The neos also make the argument that if it had been left to the career/State/ CIA/uniformed military faction we probably never would have invaded Iraq in the first place -- though that's not quite the argument ender it was a few months ago.

At the end of the day, though, it just doesn't cut it to say that no plan is perfect and that you never know quite what you'll find until you're actually in country. Because a lot of people did have a fairly good idea of what we'd find in the country, or at least a much better idea than the folks at OSD.

Unfortunately, those folks at OSD spent the last two years pummeling those other dudes into the ground.

Trustworthy computing my ass...
From CNet: Cracking Windows passwords in seconds

It appears that Windows uses a password encryption algorithm that is weak, weak, weak.... Now, be honest: are you really surprised by that?

Echoing Bob Somerby...
or maybe Bob's echoing them... Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting released a Media Advisory back on July 18, basically telling the media, "Stop obsessing over Iraq-Niger and start addressing the bigger issues of Bush's (lack of) credibility.

But are they taking the advice?

James Carville, speaking to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America:
In '44, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a 700-page plan for the occupation of Japan. That's what happens when you think ahead. What was the plan this time? Who read the important documents? Let's have an investigation. If we can spend $70 million to investigate the act of consensual sex, we can spend a few million to find out why we are involved in a war in Iraq.

My best buddy married a woman from Glasgow....
If they're all as sensible as Ruth Wishart, you can understand why.


It is in no sense to be an apologist for the leader of the Iraqi regime to wonder what ever happened to the accepted canons of international law. To enter a sovereign state which has not attacked you and pick off its leader, if not an act of terrorism is certainly not an act which would normally be regarded as militarily legitimate. Most of us are very sanguine about the fact that the former Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, is having the detail of his unsavoury reign laid before an international court.

The process serves several important purposes: it reminds the international community of the ways in which that administration was a stranger to justice and an accomplice to genocide, and it indicates that the arm of international law is long enough to bring to book any dictator who chooses to flaunt human rights. Sadly, there is no current shortage of other candidates for this particular dock. But in the context of Tuesday's events there would surely have been incalculable benefits in arresting and charging the Hussein family after the normal due process.


Eyewitness accounts of that Cuban complex
[the Guantanamo prison camp for "terrorists"] reveal it to be no more or less than a concentration camp, except that the conditions in terms of sensory deprivation are probably rather more appalling than that term normally implies. It contains men, and even boys, arbitrarily rounded up in the white-hot heat of American anger following the 9/11 outrage. Some of them may ultimately prove to have had first-hand involvement with terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

In other cases no compelling evidence will be available. Some, inevitably, will have been wrongfully arrested. Yet all, save those few released to Pakistan, have been held without trial for a year-and-a-half and face the prospect of a military tribunal behind closed doors with testimony from sources who may never be made public.

One of the many contradictions in the reasoning offered for this denial of natural justice, is that because these prisoners were not, in the accepted sense, soldiers, they do not deserve the protection afforded prisoners of war. Yet the people who will decide the fate of these designated non-combatants will be military lawyers answerable to the supreme commander in the person of the president.

We may gauge something of Mr Bush's grasp of the legal niceties by the fact that standing by the side of our prime minister last week he pronounced them all bad men. Guilty until proved guilty seems to be the new White House take on the judicial process. It is not enough for the government to ensure that these men will not face a penalty no longer available under British law. They should insist on nothing short of extradition and a trial conducted under the law of the land from which they originate. That is, after all, the American way. At least it is where American personnel are concerned.

Let us remember that one of the reasons given by America for opposing any international law court is that it did not want any of its own combatants or generals indicted under a system over which it had no control. Contrast that stance with its stated fears that it does not want Cuban detainees to face British justice in case the courts come up with an innocent verdict. Contrast that with the supreme commander publicly condemning their guilt before a legal shot has been fired.

George Bush is a very powerful man. He does not, as yet, run the UK legal system.

And in Boston...
Dan Kennedy of the Boston Phoenix makes some of the same points that Bob Somerby's email correspondents are making....

From the column:

If British intelligence proves a Nigerien connection, then what Bush said last January isn’t going to matter. No one is going to care whether CIA director George Tenet should have kept those words out of Bush’s speech — or, conversely, if he is being made the fall guy. The Democrats, terrified of being smeared as unpatriotic, and the mainstream media, hypersensitive to charges of liberal bias, will skulk away, lick their wounds, and cede the field once again to Bush. The moment will have been lost.

Yet the Niger story, though important, is actually a small piece of a much larger picture. What matters is that since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has engaged in a systematic campaign of deception aimed at building support for war in Congress, with the public, and among US allies.

That campaign has comprised phony and discredited evidence attempting to demonstrate ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda, unproved and disproved tales aimed at showing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and well-founded accusations of political pressure by the White House aimed at pushing intelligence agencies to interpret data so as to justify war.

The New York Times didn't draw the obvious conclusion...
but I won't let that stop me: Electronic voting machines are easily tampered with, therefore it would be the height of folly to start using those machines unless they provide an easily checked paper audit trail that we can use to contest election results.

Another Incomparable Daily Howler
The past few days, Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler has been taking a ration of undeserved crap from some of his readers over his analysis of the recent press coverage of "yellowcakegate". Basicallly, Bob makes an excellent case that the pundit corps has, for some reason, turned against Bush (about fscking time, in my humble opinion, though I will cheerfully concede my anti-Bush bias) and is now proceeding to do unto Bush what they did unto Gore for two years or more prior to the 2000 presidential election. Today's Howler does a masterful job of analyizing the situation and demonstrating why, in proceeding to do a quick "Gore-ing" of Bush over Iraq-Niger, the pundit corps is depriving us of our opportunity to be really informed.

From the Howler today:

A Wednesday e-mail helps define what we haven’t been getting. Why does uranium-from-Africa matter? Many mailers have expressed views like the one below. The quoted excerpt was preceded by a good deal of well-stated evidence:

    E-MAIL: When seen in this larger context, the State of the Union sentence referencing a British report that Iraq has tried
    to obtain uranium from Africa, while technically correct, was part of a much larger pattern of behavior in which the
    Administration exaggerated and/or cherry-picked available intelligence to support a position they had settled on in any
    case. It seems to me that there was an intent to deceive the public, trying to make us believe that the threat from Iraq
    was more serious and more imminent than it actually was.

Many mailers have stated this view—uranium-from-Africa is part of “a larger pattern,” they have said. And this may well be accurate. For example, this e-mailer says: “Many people whose opinion I trust (e.g., Joe Biden) have publicly claimed that the pre-war intelligence that the administration shared with the Congress was one-sided and overly-dramatic.”


Like our e-mailer, we have found Biden to be quite authoritative in his discussion of these matters. And he made a startling claim on this show. Was it true, what many in the Bush Admin said? Had the Iraqis reconstituted their nuclear capability? “There was no hard evidence of that, that I’ve ever seen, that I’ve seen,” Biden said.

We agree with our e-mailer’s spirit. There may well be a “larger pattern” here, the pattern which Biden seems to allege. But readers, there has been no investigation of that “larger pattern” as we drive the Niger road, and we always lose out in this way when the press corps creates Perfect Storms. In recent weeks, have you seen any real attempt to explore Biden’s claim? No, you haven’t, and no, you won’t. When the press corps creates a Perfect Storm, it gets to wallow in that one piece of trivia. Perfect Storms replace real probes. If you want to a real review of that larger pattern, you should walk off the Niger road too.

What does the Niger side road mean? It means what we told you just last week. It means that the press corps has made a global judgment—the Bush Admin misled on Iraq. (The press corps’ complicity in that effort will not be discussed, of course.) And having reached its global judgment, the press corps is ginning a pleasing example, designed to convince you of its global belief (and designed to entertain). But the focus on the Niger matter is taking the place of an actual study. Is Biden’s larger claim correct? Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t really know, and as the press corps entertains itself on the Niger side road, there’s little chance we will ever find out.

From Truthout
William Rivers Pitt: The Crime and the Coverup


The scandal axiom in Washington states that it is not the crime that destroys you, but the cover-up. Today in Washington you can hear terms like 'Iraqgate' and 'Weaponsgate' bandied about, but such obtuse labels do not provide an explanation for the profound movements that are taking place.

Clearly, there is a scandal brewing over the Iraq war and the Bush administration claims of Iraqi weapons arsenals that led to the shooting. Clearly, there is a cover-up taking place. Yet this instance, the crimes that have led to the cover-up are worse by orders of magnitude than the cover-up itself.

The simple fact is that America went to war in Iraq because George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and virtually every other public face within this administration vowed that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. America went to war because these people vowed that Iraq had direct connections to al Qaeda, and by inference to the attacks of September 11.


These public statements, augmented by hundreds more in the same vein, stoked fears within an already shellshocked American populace that Iraqi nuclear weapons and anthrax would come raining out of the sky at any moment, unless something was done. This same information was delivered in dire tones to Congress, which voted for war on Iraq based almost exclusively on the testimony of CIA Director George Tenet.

None of it was true. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 82 days since "hostilities ceased" on May 1, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 124 days since the shooting in Iraq officially started on March 19, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 230 days since the UNMOVIC weapons inspections began in Iraq in late November of 2002. No proof whatsoever of Iraqi connections to al Qaeda has been established.


The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in Iraq. The OSP was staffed by rank amateurs, civilians whose ideological pedigree suited Rumsfeld and his cabal of hawks. Though this group was on no government payroll and endured no Congressional oversight, their information and interpretations managed to prevail over the data being provided by the State Department and CIA. This group was able to accomplish this incredible feat due to devoted patronage from high-ranking ultra-conservatives within the administration, including Vice-President Cheney.


The main OSP source of data on Iraqi weapons, and on the manner in which the Iraqi people would greet their 'liberators,' was Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi was the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group seeking since 1997 the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chalabi had been hand-picked by Don Rumsfeld to be the leader of Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that he had been convicted in 1992 of 32 counts of bank fraud by a Jordanian court and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison. It apparently never occurred to Rumsfeld and the OSP that Chalabi had a lot of reasons to lie. It seems they were too enamored of the data he was providing, because that data fully justified the course of action they had been set upon since September 11, 2001.

Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq had connections to al Qaeda. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that the Iraqi people would rise up and embrace their American invaders. Chalabi's claims on this last matter are the main reason post-war Iraq is in complete chaos, because Rumsfeld assumed the logistics for repairing Iraq would be simple - The joyful Iraqis would do it for him.


I spoke last week with a woman named Jodie Evans, long-time peace activist and organizer of a group called the International Occupation Watch Center, or IOWC. The purpose of the IOWC is to stand as watchdogs in Iraq over the corporate contracts being doled out, and to view in person what is happening to the Iraqi people. "I think that if you were against the war, then you need to be there," said Evans, "because there is no one in Iraq who is for the Iraqi people, and the people know it. They know it."

Evans had just returned from Baghdad. Upon her arrival to the city, she saw the demonstrable chaos caused by the war, and by the abject failure to repair the country in the aftermath. "It was 120 degrees, it was dusty, the air had a haze that makes everything gray," said Evans. "The buildings you see on the road are bombed out. In some, you can see the fire coming up. In some, you only see the scaffolding of contorted metal. We got across our bridge and turned right onto the street we know so well, the one we've stayed on, and every building was either boarded up or bombed out, including the United Nations DP. It was all bombed in, the windows were black from the fire."

"Immediately after we arrived," said Evans, "we hear that it is not only worse than before the war. It is worse than during the war. People are upset, people are angry. There were lots of stories about how the Americans are doing this on purpose. A month after the '91 war, which was much worse than this one, everything was back and working. Now, the people live in this chaos they can't even imagine. People can't go outside. Women haven't left their homes. Lots of people haven't come back from Syria or Kuwait or wherever they fled to get away from the bombing, because life in Iraq is unlivable. There is 65% unemployment, and even the doctors and nurses and teachers who are going to work don't get paid, so there's no money."

Evans met a number of Americans in Iraq who are part of the 'rebuilding process.' One such person was in the Compound, a guarded palace that is now home to Bremer's office and staff along with a number of other groups. The overall organization is called the Iraqi Assistance Center, or IAC. The man Evans met was a professor of religion and political theory at a religious college in America. He explained that his job was to collect intelligence for Bremer.

"That professor I spoke to, the one doing intelligence for Bremer, I told him that I had spoken to countless Iraqis and all of them felt this chaos was happening on purpose," said Evans. "He basically said this was true, that chaos was good, and out of chaos comes order. So what the Iraqis were saying - that this madness was all on purpose - this intelligence guy didn't discredit. He said, 'If you keep them hungry, they'll do anything for us.'"

"I met the man who was hired to create a new civil government in Baghdad, to bring Baghdad back to order," said Evans. "His name was Gerald Lawson. I asked him what his background was that allowed him to get this job. He said he was in the Atlanta Police for 30 years. I asked how this gave him the ability to create a stable, civil government. He said he was a manager. I asked him what he knew about Iraqis. He knew nothing, and didn't care to know anything. He didn't know their history, their government, didn't speak a word of Arabic and didn't care to learn. This guy doesn't work for the American government, doesn't work for the State Department, and doesn't work for the CPA. He works for a corporation created by ex-Generals. Their job is to create the new Iraqi government structure."

"We met the man whose job is to make sure the hospitals have what they need," said Evans. "He is a veterinarian. We met a British guy who showed up at the Compound gates one day and said he was a volunteer who wanted to help. The next day he was named the head of rubbish control in Baghdad, which is a huge problem there because there is garbage all over the street. I asked him what he had been doing with his time. He said he'd been hanging out at Odai's palace playing with the lions and the cheetahs. I met the guy in charge of designing the airport, where major jumbo jets are supposed to land. He had never designed an airport before."

"Another man I spoke to associated with this process is named Don Munson," said Evans. "His job is civilian affairs policy. He said to me, 'We are replacing one dictatorship with another.' He's there for two years, and he works in the palace on the first floor."

"Remember," said Evans, "that the first thing America did was to fire 80,000 police officers. These guys weren't associated with the Hussein regime. That's like connecting a cop in LA to the Bush administration. All the people I've talked to over there, the ambassadors and others, said they warned Bremer not to do that. The cops knew who the criminals were, and 80,000 cops are gone. So now there are these little mafias that run neighborhoods. With no other work and no way to survive, people are going to become criminals. The borders are wide open - we didn't even get stopped when we came in - so everything is just flowing into Iraq."

"A friend of mine's husband is an ambassador," said Evans. "I asked him if this was normal operating procedure. He said that, basically, no one will work on this Iraq project who has any respect for their work or career, because it is so clearly a farce. He said that later we will go in after these guys have blown it, but right now with Bremer there it is a farce. Even the press is over there are just shaking their heads and asking, can anyone fail so badly? Can anybody make so many mistakes? You can't imagine they can be so dumb."

"One Iraqi woman I spoke to," said Evans, "said she feels like Iraq is a wounded animal, and everyone is coming in to take their piece of flesh."

A great non-rant today...
by South Knox Bubba: Those who ignore history


Why isn't the younger generation concerned about the future of America? Why are they giving in to the propaganda of fear?

Then I realized one of the problems. This generation wasn't born or was still in diapers and not politically aware during Viet Nam. This generation hasn't seen the images of body bags, the charred corpses of U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese children. They haven't been to the funeral of a friend or loved one who died for a war that was based on lies, from the Gulf of Tonkin beginning to the sorry end when Kissinger surrendered to the Viet Cong.

All they know about Viet Nam is what Rush Limbaugh tells them. War protestors and other traitors like Jane Fonda and their draft-dodging President tried to destroy America. Soldiers were spit on and called baby killers. It was all orchestrated by Communists. And they're trying to do it again, except this time it's Islamofacist terrorists and their objectively pro-Saddam anti-America cohorts.

Well, Generation X is going to have its little Viet Nam. In fact, it appears they are going to have a mini-series of death and destruction, made up of lots of little Viet Nams around the Middle East.

And they are going to find out it is very different from a Nintendo game or a Chuck Norris movie, or a "report from the front" by "embedded" Pentagon shills, minus the stench of rotting corpses and Veteran's Hospital wards filled with hollow shells of men without limbs and the screams of dying soldiers and the tears of their Mothers as they are presented their folded flags On Behalf of a Grateful Nation. And they are going to find out, sooner or later, that it was all for a lie. Again.

All of America was united to punish those responsible for 9/11. The evidence was, at least then, clear. The enemy, at least as we were convincingly told, was known. The purpose was just and the mission was clear.

The purpose of this latest episode in the Mini-Series of Death, however, is not so clear. Those of us who remember the nagging doubts and the REAL fear of what was happening don't like it. That does not make us traitors. Learning from experience comes with age. It's called wisdom. Those who cannot or will not respect that are traitors to fundamental American values.

Our generation has unfortunately seen this before. We've reported to the Draft Board. Some of us (thank God not me) were Selectively Serviced. We've watched as the Greatest Generation, who saved the world from a real threat, sent their sons off to die in the jungle for a lie. We've watched a corrupt, power drunk administration silence dissent. As the saying goes, we've been there, done that, and got the T-Shirt. Unfortunately, 50,000 of our generation got the T-Shirt with bullet holes. We remember. We will not forgive, and we will not forget.

From Hunter S. Thompson
From his "Hey Rube" ESPN column:

The downward spiral of Dumbness in America is about to hit a new low. You thought O.J. was bad? Wait until we get a taste of the K.B. [Kobe Bryant and the pending rape charge] scandal. It will be like a feeding frenzy and a long parade of cannibals.


When I went into the clinic last April 30, George Bush was about 50 points ahead of his closest Democratic opponent in next year's Presidential Election. When I finally escaped from the horrible place, less than three weeks late, Bush's job-approval ratings had been cut in half -- and even down into single digits, in some states -- and the Republican Party was panicked and on the run. It was a staggering reversal in a very short time, even shorter than it took for his equally crooked father to drop from 93 percent approval, down to as low as 43 percent and even 41 percent in the last doomed days of the first doomed Bush Administration. After that, he was Bill Clinton's punching bag.

Richard Nixon could tell us a lot about peaking too early. He was a master of it, because it beat him every time. He never learned and neither did Bush the Elder.

But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. By the summer of 2004, he might not even be living in the White House. Gone, gone, like the snows of yesteryear.

The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are
losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war Zone, our national Economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon's "war strategy" has failed miserably, nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by Mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg.

The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security, once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world.

The Stock Market will never come back, our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives.

The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it.

A new twist on the 419 scams:
Now, it seems the African officials and whatnot are hiring PIs to do their legwork for them:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am a Private Investigator based in Europe. A group of Government Officials from an African Country contacted me with a Proposal. I am to Make contact with you and state their offer, if your Interest is Genuine,you will be contacted for your Account details to which will be transferred the sum of $33,600,000.00 USD. (20% of which is yours). You are then required to forward the remaining balance (Minus the Interest, handling and tax clearance charges, which Will be offset by Us & Deducted from the transferred sum) to a nominated Bank account in the Cayman Islands. I don't think I need to spell out the importance of Secrecy in this Matter considering the amount involved.

Let me state clearly here that the account that you would be providing does not need to have funds in it; it is only needed to be active and be able to receive funds.

So, if I don't hear from you within three days I will assume you are not interested and will solicit for a new partner, but if you know you are interested let me know. List your phone & fax Numbers so we may communicate with you. This is important as we would Have to talk about the modalities of the transaction.

Waiting to hear from you,

doran sule

From today's Dr. Science Newsletter:
Dear Doctor Science,
Isn't "heaven" just another form of welfare?
-- Timon Tree from Houston, TX

Yes, but it's a better form of welfare than most recipients experience. Instead of a trailer park or a crowded tenement, you live in sterile condominiums on the edge of suburbia. In place of food stamps, you receive vouchers that enable you to eat for free at a shopping center cafeteria. Your caseworker has been replaced with a perky hospitality host, who acts like a member of the Love Boat crew. A graduate of some New Age positive thinking seminar, he is constantly spouting bland affirmations about your right to fulfillment and happiness. Chances are you'll end up strangling him, and be transferred to welfare hell, which is a lot like being on welfare right here on earth.

Thought for the Day
I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.
--Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Holy shit, Batman! There may be a God....
House votes 400-21 to block FCC rule

From the LA Times via BartCop:
"The Republican U.S. Senate impeaches the elected president. The Republican Supreme Court hands the presidency to an unelected candidate. Now a Republican congressman pays to unseat California's elected governor. If you've got Republicans, who needs elections?"
-- M Lipton, letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times

Another very interesting comment....
by Joe Klein, in Time: How Bush Misleads Himself:

Why has the uranium story puffed up so huge? It wouldn't have been a very big deal without the deepening crisis in Iraq. But it also has ballast because it clarifies an aspect of George W. Bush's essential character — specifically, the problem he has with telling the truth. I am not saying Bush is a liar. Lying is witting: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." This is weirder than that. The President seems to believe that wishing will make it so — and he is so stupendously incurious that he rarely makes an effort to find the truth of the matter. He misleads not only the nation but himself. Every worst-case Saddam scenario just had to be true, as did every best-case post-Saddam scenario. Bush's talent for self-deception extends to domestic and economic policy. He probably believes that he's a compassionate conservative, even though he has allowed every antipoverty program he favors to be eviscerated by Congress. This week's outrage is the crippling of AmeriCorps, which he had pledged to increase in size. He probably believes that his tax cuts for the wealthy will help reduce the mammoth $455 billion budget deficit (which doesn't include the cost of Iraq), even though Ronald Reagan found that the exact opposite was true and had to raise taxes twice to repair the damage done by his 1981 cuts. And Bush probably believed, as the sign said, that the "mission" had been "accomplished" in Iraq when he landed on the aircraft carrier costumed as a flyboy. He may even have believed that he was a flyboy.

But the country can no longer afford the President's self-delusions. He is entering the most crucial six months of his presidency. As a team of experts hired by the Pentagon reported last week: "The window for cooperation may close rapidly if they [the Iraqis] do not see progress." Which brings us back to the second part of the question the President didn't answer last week: Why is no one helping us in Iraq? A simple answer: Why on earth should they? The situation is a mess, in large part because of American arrogance. We insisted on doing the reconstruction on our own (only 13,000 of the 148,000 troops on the ground are British). It seems plain now that going it alone isn't working. Even Donald Rumsfeld came very close to admitting that on Meet the Press a few weeks ago. Asked if we should turn Iraq over to the United Nations, he said, "At some point, I think that--" and then he caught himself and said, "They're already playing an important role."

In fact, the current military situation is extremely dangerous, not just to the troops on the ground but to our national security in general. We are pinned down in Iraq and will be for years. We don't have the forces to meet another challenge — in North Korea, or Afghanistan, or anyplace else. We don't even have the forces necessary to relieve our tired troops in Iraq. Last week India made clear — as France and Germany have — that it won't help us without the U.N.'s imprimatur. And now there is serious talk within the White House about going back to the U.N. and asking for help.

Help will not come easily. "You can't have burden sharing without power sharing," a diplomat told me. The U.N. was humiliated, and its weapons inspectors denigrated, by the Bush Administration before the war. Some public groveling from the President may now be in order. Indeed, Bush also owes the American people a speech explaining just how difficult the situation is, how long it's likely to remain that way and how much it will cost. Last week he took "responsibility" for the war. Now he must take responsibility for the peace.

Very interesting comment....
in Media Whores Online:

Dear Esteemed Horse:

Let's see, during her homecoming yesterday Private Lynch thanked Sen. John Rockefeller, a Democrat, and Gov. Bob Wise, also a Democrat.

She thanked her boyfriend. She paid tribute to her fellow soldiers. She even thanked the Iraqi people who helped her survive.

There was one name that was glaringly omitted, however. That would be none other than her Commander-in-Chief.

Nicely done, soldier.

Best regards,
Ron Shapella
West Amwell Township, NJ

According to a UPI report....
which has just been released, the results of the congressional inquiry on 9/11 is to be released tomorrow. According to former Sen. Max Cleland, the report is going to show that there is no demonstrated connection between Al-Quaida and Iraq, and no evidence of any Iraqi connection to the 9/11 attack. According to Cleland: "The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."

Another (short) gem:
Jack Lessenberry, of the Detroit Metro Times, on Bush's lies:

What is a fact is that the president's men wanted this war, and if they thought claiming Saddam had killed Jon-Benet Ramsey would have rallied Americans to the cause, Bush would have said that too.

Another one to quote in entirety:

Robert Kuttner: Gone AWOL on Leadership

AFTER SEPT. 11, even George W. Bush's harshest critics credited him for leading. Lately, Bush has been doing the opposite.

What does it mean to lead? A real leader puts his own prestige on the line - to educate public opinion, to pursue necessary policies that are sometimes unpopular, and to take responsibility.

Lyndon Johnson took huge risks to redeem the promise of Emancipation and to lead America into a dubious war. He might have survived the bruises of the former were it not for the latter. But in both cases the policies were his own.

Richard Nixon, not America's most honorable president, took responsibility for controversial policies - opening to China, using temporary wage and price controls, attempting to convert welfare to a guaranteed annual income. He won some, lost some, and was reelected overwhelmingly in 1972. Bill Clinton put his presidency at risk to raise taxes on the rich and balance the budget, to end welfare as we knew it, and to get NAFTA enacted. When Clinton failed to get universal health insurance, he didn't blame Hillary.

Now, consider Bush.

He declared that he wants to expand Medicare to include (very) limited coverage of prescription drugs. His political Rasputin, Karl Rove, views this as a top priority to upstage a leading Democratic issue. The House Republicans want to use drug coverage as a wedge to begin privatizing Medicare. Senate Democrats consider that gimmick a deal breaker. A little presidential leadership is in order if Bush really wants a bill. Have you heard him say boo?

Remember the child tax credit? Under the latest tax cut, refund checks go out July 25. But not to some 6 million kids in families where the breadwinner pays payroll tax but no income tax, including many GIs serving in Iraq. Bush pledged to fix this lapse. The Senate voted, 94- 2, to make the change. But the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, says no way. Where is Bush on this one? Who is setting the agenda, Bush or DeLay?

How about Head Start? Candidate Bush pledged to expand it. The radical right wants to end Head Start as a federal entitlement and shift responsibility for the program to the states, where it can be converted to glorified day care (with for-profit and religious sponsors) rather than the effective child development program it has always been.

Last week DeLay temporarily postponed a floor vote because he faced defeat. Which side is Bush on? Finally, there are the famous 16 words in the State of the Union Address. That piece of deliberate deception was blamed on CIA Director George Tenet - except that Tenet had warned the president against relying on the bogus Niger-uranium report as long ago as last October.

It was New York's great mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, who famously said, ''When I make a mistake, it's a beaut.'' George Bush's equivalent is, ''When I make a mistake, it's Tenet's fault.'' (This habit seems to run in the Bush administration. When ground operations in Iraq bogged down, Defense Secretary Rumseld suddenly began describing the war blueprint as ''Tommy Franks's plan.'') Bush is becoming evader-in-chief. Even the electorate is starting to notice.

There is a rule that a column is about one thing. Excuse me for violating it, but I really wanted to write three different columns today, so here is a sampler of the other two:

Did you notice the groundswell of support in Congress for legalizing drug imports from Canada? This is an idiotic way to do the right thing. Drug prices are cheaper up north not because manufacturing costs are lower there but because the Canadian national health program controls drug company prices and profits.

Congress doesn't need a detour via Canada. It just needs to do the right thing directly. Regulate drug prices, and Americans will save not just money on their prescriptions but on needless shipping charges, too. No need to punish the local drugstore just because Congress lacks the nerve to do this reform properly.

Do you find it worrisome that the deficit is the biggest ever and interest rates the lowest in half a century - and the economy is still very soft? I do, and George Bush should. Were it not for the still-reverberating shocks from the deregulation orgy and the stock market bust, 5 percent mortgages and $500 billion deficits should be pushing the economy into the stratosphere. But not this time. Just imagine what a little imported inflation might do. This economy, and this presidency, are a lot shakier than they look.

And here's a gem...
From, via The Smirking Chimp:

1st Lt. George W. Bush, late of the Texas Air National Guard, assured us in the year leading up to the start of what became 'Operation Iraqi Freedom,' that perhaps only war could rid mankind of a corrupt, recklessly militaristic, and illegitimate regime that had bankrupted its people and taken away their hope. He demanded nothing less than Regime Change.

Who knew then he was talking about his own Administration? If the Democrats can just get their act together, freedom can finally be restored --- to America.

The Sons of Nixon, those same pious and infallible folks who brought us Watergate and Iran-Contra have smart bombed the Bush legacy, boldly snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory, and they did it all themselves.

They screwed the pooch, and must quickly find a scapegoat. It will be instructive to see how they manage to somehow blame all this on Mr. Clinton or Liberals or Hollywood or Satan. The Bush Spin Brigade is all over TV news today. They are getting shrill, and a little loud.

This one deserves quoting in full
A unilateral journey to nowhere
By Andrew Limburg, Independent Media TV

Independent Media TV – With each passing day we are watching the long awaited and much anticipated crash of the Bush Empire. The only concern now is, what will the out of control Neo-Cons do as they walk down the last steps of their Unilateral Journey.

After ignoring the United Nations, and public opinion in virtually every country in the world, the Bush Neo-Con Cabal of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Perle led the United States into Iraq. Ironically the only way out, requires them to get on their knees and go back to the governing body they tried to weaken and destroy.

Here are the reasons why they will have to crawl back to the United Nations.

The U.S. media has surprisingly, finally turned on Bush a little and reported on some of the things international and alternative news readers have known for months. That Bush sold the war to the American people based upon lies and selective use of intelligence.

Also, the war was sold to the so-called coalition with arm-twisting through US aid, promises of NATO membership, or desire to be one of the United States lap dogs. You’ll notice that the only other country with a significant presence in Iraq is England.

Everyone is well aware that our soldiers are being picked off daily. They have been pawns in this evil game of Neo-Con chess.

What many are unaware of is that the Administration knows that the situation is dwindling into a full-fledged Vietnam as tensions in Iraq continue to rise. The soldiers are unable to distinguish between those trying to kill them and average citizens. As basic services continue to be disrupted, the average persons’ patience is wearing thin. Not to mention the obvious frustration that comes into play, when being occupied by a country that invaded for inappropriate reasons.

Then there are the military "sweeps" that are intended to round up militants. This does nothing but breed a violent circle of events as the world has learned from the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. These sweeps always imprison, humiliate and kill the innocent as well as the militants, and this just feeds more violence.

Senators Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Chuck Nagel (R-Nebraska) returned from Iraq recently and they both reached the same conclusion. That the troops need some relief, and that the United States definitely needs assistance. Biden recommended we seek support from NATO.

So here is the quagmire in which Bush finds himself.

Because the U.S. Media has finally become more critical of the Bush Administration, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the numerous lies and deceit Bush used to sell the American people a war the world didn’t want. This has sent his public opinion polls plummeting.

France, Russia, Germany and India have all rejected requests from the Bush Administration to send over "peacekeeping" troops to Iraq, and/or money for reconstruction. They have all stated that they could not help without a U.N. mandate giving them authorization.

George Robertson, NATO's Secretary General, says NATO will provide no further help to the United States in Iraq - meaning that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's principal European members refuse to let the alliance do so.

As previously stated, the situation in Iraq is deteriorating into a Vietnam like struggle. Bush can’t just leave the U.S. soldiers in Iraq to get picked off one by one. Unfortunately for Bush, we don’t have enough properly trained troops to rotate others in. With the Iraqi frustration intensifying everyday and increasingly lower troop morale, the Bush Administration must act very soon.

Bush cannot re-instate the draft to give the troops relief. That would be political suicide, and definitely cause support for his Iraq policy to plummet.

Bush can’t just pull the troops out. That would leave Iraq in complete and utter chaos.

In addition, Bush can’t turn over the country to the Iraqis because he is using the sale of Iraqi oil to pay for the war, as our economy can not continue to sustain a nearly$4 billion monthly hit to pay for Iraqi reconstruction. Not to mention the hit Bush friends, Halliburton, Bechtel and others will take, losing the anticipated billions they are contracted to receive.

With no NATO help, no help from any major sources, Bush has no option but take his unilateral tail, and tuck it under his unilateral ass, and take a Unilateral Journey to the United Nations and pray they save him. If it weren’t for Iraqi lives, and the lives of soldiers, I believe the United Nations would tell him where else he could go.

Copyright 2003 Independent Media TV

Reprinted from Independent Media TV:

Are we spending our money wisely?
Peter Lee: Billion dollar corpses


Here's a mathematical perspective, assuming the war costs (just military, no rebuilding) reach $100 billion by year end.

Believe it or not, $100 billion is 14% of the discretionary Federal budget. If we split out the cost of turning Iraq into East St. Louis on the Euphrates, it's the second biggest discretionary item in the budget after Rumsfeld Nation aka the Department of Defense. The third biggest is Health and Human Services at $60 billion. Next comes Education at $50 billion. (Office of Management and Budget)

The beneficiaries of this largesse are those 24 million Iraqis. By the end of the year we will have spent $4000 per Iraqi bringing them the blessings of democracy--well, maybe the blessings of total war and an incompetent occupation.

This makes the Iraqis bigger per capita recipients of US discretionary spending than American citizens. We get about $2500 per capita. The cost of our Iraq adventure roughs out to $300 per capita or $1000 per household, leaving aside the intangible psychic benefits of styling ourselves the masters of Baghdad.

Do you think we're overpaying? The Iraqi per capita income prior to the war: $2400. Total Iraq GDP $58 billion. (CIA World Factbook 2002). We could have bought the country, or at least rented it for two years, for what we're paying to destroy it.

This colossal outpouring of money and violence on a tiny, impoverished country is only excusable if America was responding to a desperate threat to its safety and interests..

But the Iraq war is instead a $100 billion fraud perpetrated upon the American people.

Maybe Bush has another ace up his sleeve, and soon the news cycle will be dominated by the demise of Saddam Hussein. But I think now it will take more than a $100 billion corpse to sell America on this war.

As you might expect
NetworkWorld Fusion reports that Open Source advocates are dubious about the licensing scheme that the ever-generous SCO has announced for Linux users. Big surprise, eh?

Well, I approve of the numbers, anyway....
An admittedly unscientific poll on the same page as a Newsweek story on the "yellowcake" allegations shows that 73% of the respondents think that Bush knew that the Iraq uranium allegation in the State of the Union message was false, and that he bent the intelligence in order to bolster his case for going to war.

And I love this line from the above-cited Newsweek story:]

Incredibly, the Italian press, which doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory, appeared to have higher standards than the CIA. The Italian reporter, Elisabetta Burba, worked for Panorama, a weekly magazine owned by Italy’s conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. She went to Niger and checked out the documents but declined to use them because she feared they were bufala—fraudulent—and she would lose her job.

Probe expected in "outing" of CIA operative by Bush Administration
The story so far, in case you hadn't been paying attention: Ambassador Joseph Wilson was the man who was selected (either by, or at the request of, the CIA) to investigate the Saddam-Niger "yellowcake" allegation (an investigation initiated by the office of VP Cheney). Several weeks ago, as the brouhaha over the infamous "16 words" started to gather steam, Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed critical of the Administration, coming forward to identify himself as the (til that point) unidentified "former ambassador" who had conducted the investigation, and stating that he was certain (based on his knowledge on how such matters are handled) that VP Cheney had been informed as to the results of his investigation (that it was very unlikely that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium in Niger). Shortly thereafter, conservative columnist Robert Novak revealed that "two senior administration officials" told him that Wilson had been recommended for this mission to the CIA by Wilson's wife, Valerie Plume who (according to those "two senior administration officials") is an undercover CIA agent assigned to the CIA's department monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

By the way, in case you also hadn't heard, identifying undercover CIA assets is a federal felony.

Today Newsday reports that we can expect a congressional investigation of this incident. That's A Good Thing, I think. Of course, the commentators on the left have noted that this is just the kind of thing that the Bushies would do to attempt either to intimidate or to "punish" Ambassador Wilson for speaking out. The commentators on the right, it seems, are strangely silent.

Good Natured Ration o'Sh*t Department:
Anthony Rickey over at Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil is publicly (though very much tongue-in-cheekily) agonizing over an email accusation that he's sold his blog out to (by becoming an Amazon reseller).... so I'm going to give him a ration o'organic matter here, just to see if he occasionally drops by.


Thought for the Day:
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
--George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Meanwhile, while Uday and Qusay lie dead (maybe)...
Bin Laden is alive, well, and very much kicking, according to some Western intelligence agencies...

Bin Laden 'alive', 'recruiting'

From the article:

OSAMA bin Laden was probably still alive and al-Qaeda was recruiting new followers in Arab countries and Europe, Germany's foreign spy chief said today.

At the same time, Western spy agencies have noted an increase in worldwide communications among members of the terrorist network "in recent weeks and months", said August Hanning, head of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service.

"We see no all-clear signal at this time. Rather, we are seeing an increase in (terrorist) activities," Hanning said in a speech to a security conference in Berlin.


Al-Qaeda's ability to mobilise followers in Arab countries and Europe "remains relatively high," Hanning said, noting that mosques were often used to recruit in major European cities.

These included Hamburg, where three of the September 11 suicide hijackers lived undetected while plotting the attacks.

"We see that recruiting is going on," he said. "We have European centres that are still being used for recruiting today."

Are Saddam's sons dead? Does it really make a difference?
From Daily Kos: CENTCOM: Uday, Qusay killed


Update: CENTCOM is claiming the bodies are that of Qusay and Uday Hussein. Before you break out the champagne, let me point out a few things .

One, given the miserable state of US intelligence, a lot of proof, like verifiable DNA, will be needed to ensure that these are the brothers and not doubles.

Two: These guys were running for their lives. They weren't directing guerrilla operations. They were trying to hop the border or something. They, despite their henious nature, were not a direct threat to US forces. Yes, sending them to hell is not a bad thing, but it is less relevant than people will make it. They didn't control much, if anything, at this point.

Now, you have two martyrs for the Baathists, who died violently resisting US forces, who took four hours to kill them. These guys went out like freaking heroes. Now, if they had been caught napping, or eating a kebob, that would have made them look like the criminals they were. Now? They're going to be spun as heroes throughout the Arab world. Going down with guns blazing against an airborne unit is not a bad way to be remembered. You can bet within the month, drawings of their last gunfight will be all over walls throughout the Gulf. The commanders on the scene did what they thought was right, but if they really died in a gunfight, we've replaced two perverted killers with two Arab martyrs who would rather die than cower to the Americans.

Think it can't happen? Jesse James, who would probably be considered a war criminal today, is one of America's greatest heroes. People forget his brutal war record and his criminal career and remember his personal courage. We may well be shocked to see the kids of Gaza and Cairo with t-shirts lionizing Uday and Qusay, but we shouldn't be surprised to see it happen.

Three: The "Baathist" resistance doesn't need Saddam. There is enough anti-American feeling, based on our mass arrests and no visit policy, to get enough Iraqis to continue to kill Americans. This may well spark an increased tempo of attacks against Americans in revenge. Killing these guys doesn't ruin my day, but they're a distraction. Dead heroes can be defended better than living ones. Add in the legion of foreign volunteers and the war is more than likely to continue apace.

Four: OK, let's say we get Saddam as well. What happens next? Do Iraqis jump up and down and stop killing Americans? Or do they ask why we're still there once the threat's been eliminated.

Notice, you have not heard one word about Saddam from the Shia leadership. They don't worry about him coming back, or his influence or anything like that. It is not an issue for them. Why? Because they can prevent it if they have to. Saddam doesn't have an army or secret police any more. Man to man, they can stop him.

I hope Uday and Qusay roast in hell, but that does not mean they are relevant to the war we're fighting today. If the Shia were worried about Saddam, the bodies of dead Baathists would be hanging from the streetlamps of Basra and Najaf, and they are not. And if the Shia can let Baathists live, there has to be a reason.

Is this a joke? Or not?
From The Onion: Deficit Wracked Maryland Calls It Quits

Of course, it's from The Onion, so we know it's a joke. But it strikes a bit close to home; let's call it ha ha only serious.

And speaking of Dvorak's column....
I subscribe to a Ziff Davis email newsletter that points me to interesting content on their various websites. This notice:

Dvorak Grouses About AI, E-Mail

It must have been a bad week for John C. Dvorak. He's not just down on Artificial Intelligence, lambasting the failed promise of the Turing Test, but he thinks e-mail's gone to the dogs as well. There is a way out for e-mail, at least. Don't miss his four suggestions to coax e-mail back from the brink.

announced his rant about email (as well as his AI kvetch which I mentioned earlier). However, if you go to the column and count, you'll see that he lays out six suggestions for coaxing email back from the brink.

I recommend a proofreader.

Dvorak kvetches about the state of AI development
John C. Dvorak: Turing Test Dead End

Interesting commentary, though why one would want more human like chatbots is somewhat beyond my comprehension. I suppose it's for the entertainment value...

RIP NATO: Killed (murdered?) by the United States
From the International Herald Tribune: Bush policy risks terminal strain in NATO

From the article:

The Europeans simply no longer agree with the United States. They don't agree about the terrorist threat. They don't think Osama bin Laden is a global menace. They don't take Washington's view of rogue states. They don't agree about pre-emptive war, clash of civilizations, the demonization of Islam, or Pentagon domination of U.S. foreign policy.

Such views are interpreted in the United States as "anti-Americanism." The truth, as a leading (conservative) figure from ex-Communist "New Europe" said at one of these meetings, is that the Bush administration has turned America's friends into anti-Americans.

He said that throughout his political life he had been an admirer and defender of the United States against left-wing European critics, but now he has become what he calls a "new anti-American."

He defined new anti-Americans as "former anti-anti-Americans, now forced to become anti-American themselves." He said that in his own country, the U.S. ambassador behaves in the way the Soviet Union's ambassador did before 1989. This simply is unacceptable.

Washington and the U.S. policy community seem to have completely misunderstood what has happened. They blame the French, Germans and Belgians, and think they have explained the problem. They like to tell Europeans that Europe doesn't understand that 9/11 "changed everything" for the United States. They fail to realize that 9/11's aftermath has changed everything for Western Europe.

Neo-conservative officials from Washington who spoke at the conferences I attended celebrated American power and victory in Iraq, and demanded apologies from the Europeans for having failed to support the United States. They still were saying that if you didn't agree, you are "irrelevant."

Analysts from the universities and policy centers were too often implicitly condescending to their audiences, saying that Europe needed to "grow up" and face the terrorism threat (seemingly indifferent to or ignorant of the history of IRA, German and Italian Red Brigades, Basque ETA, PLO, and Algerian terrorist operations in Europe).

They talked about Venus and Mars ­ the Washington theory about passive, peace-obsessed Europeans, in need of realistic leadership from tough-minded Americans. The Europeans had heard it all before. This time they laughed, or walked out for a coffee.

However, they took the implications seriously. Every one of these discussions ended with the Europeans in a debate about what had to be done to put the so-called European common security and foreign policy on the road. Until now this has been a lackadaisical debate. Now, even the people from the most Atlanticist allied states, closest to the United States, shrug and say, "there's no choice."

Well meant appeals by American Atlanticists for U.S.-European reconciliation, such as the one issued a few weeks ago under the auspices of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, are politely received, but are irrelevant. We are past that point. That statement advised Europeans on what they should do to recapture America's confidence, and "make the U.S. feel welcome in Europe." It's the other way around. It's the Americans that have lost the Europeans' confidence. Unless the United States can recapture it, the alliance is finished.

A very thoughtfull piece in today's Boston Globe
James Carroll: Was the war necessary?


One sees the traditional just war ethic at work: A necessary war can involve the ''collateral damage'' of civilian deaths - tragic, but acceptable. But was the war necessary? That question defines the stakes in the dispute over the ways George Bush and Tony Blair misrepresented the prospect of Saddam Hussein with nuclear, biological, and chemical arms. When allied warplanes knowingly and repeatedly attacked targets that would kill significant numbers of civilians, only the urgent effort to prevent Hussein's mass-destructive and imminent aggression could have justified such carnage. But now the proffered rationale of necessity is being shown to have been false. The ''preventive war,'' as it turns out, prevented nothing.

At a press conference in Japan the day after David Kelly's body was found, Tony Blair was asked, ''Have you got blood on your hands, prime minister?'' Alas, there is an ocean of blood on the hands of Tony Blair and George Bush. Whether shown to be ''lying'' or not, they shunted aside the ambiguities and uncertainties that characterized the prewar intelligence assessments of Hussein's threat. And though, as I argued last week, there is a long tradition of leaders manipulating intelligence estimates for their own preset purposes, the act of war is in a special category. When disputed intelligence is the basis of war, then the leader's reading of that intelligence had better be proven true. Otherwise the just war argument from necessity fails.

No wonder the dispute won't die. The questions matter too much. No wonder polls are shifting away from Bush. Citizens of the United States do not like to think of themselves as wanton killers. No wonder American soldiers in Iraq are openly expressing doubts. A democracy's first requirement of military discipline is the army's belief in the moral necessity of its mission. No wonder, even, pressures of the dispute may have driven one man to kill himself. The issue is mortal: Was George Bush's new style ''preventive'' war just another war of aggression, after all?

Tony Blair was asked if he would resign, and at least one prominent Democrat hurled the word impeachment at the president. But the political consequences of this controversy begin to take second place to the moral, and even legal. The traditional ethic declares that a war of aggression is inherently unjust and that every civilian death caused by such a war is murder. More than 50 air raids, each with more than 30 Iraqi civilian fatalities, each expressly approved by Rumsfeld. Absolutely terrible tragedies, every one. And also - more evident by the day - every one a war crime.

I still insist: by the Nuremberg precedent, Bush should hang (literally, by the neck until dead) for his war crimes... and the rest of his administration should not go unpunished, either. But, alas there is no justice in the world, and the Smirking Chimp will smirk at us for what I fear will be the rest of a long, well padded life.


Harnessing the power of prayer for better ends
Bill Gallagher, in the Niagra Falls Reporter, does Pat Robertson one better: A SIMPLE PRAYER: PLEASE MAKE BUSH, CHENEY, RICE, ROVE, RUMSFELD RETIRE

Paul Krugman is in top form today
Who's Unpatriotic Now


Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight Ridder newspapers reported on intelligence officials who "charge that the administration squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary." One official accused the administration of pressuring analysts to "cook the intelligence books"; none of the dozen other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.

The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the concerns expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for postwar occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.

Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit.

And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."


But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here's Frank Gaffney Jr. in The National Post: "Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations, second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of America's armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged."

Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking intelligence to promote a war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden — who really did attack America — and Kim Jong Il — who really is building nukes.

Poll numbers looking better:
USA Today (McPaper): President's approval rating drops in poll

It is to be fervently hoped that "approval rating" will fast become a "disapproval rating". Already, people are trusting Bush less and less....

Tux encroaches into the Microsoft space (again)
Living Without Microsoft alerts us to an interesting development: Lycoris develops a Linux distribution for the Tablet PC platform.

Frankly, I can live without the Tablet PC formfactor, but for those who insist on the latest and greatest, now they have a choice.

Good news from Saturday's WaPo
Senate Votes to Deny Funding To Computer Surveillance Effort

Old news, true. But still good news, and thus worthy of a mention.

Oh dear, the Nigerian economy must have tanked.
Just got another email from my dear friend, Dr. Mrs. Maryam Abacha. Seems that she must have fallen on some bad times. Her latest offer is to share 20% of $24 million with me, which is significantly less capital than she had the last time she wrote me. I'd better jump on Dr. Mrs. Luisa Estrada's now very much more generous offer (40% of $25.5 million) immediately....

Scary... very scary
Daniel Gross, in his "Moneybox" column in Slate, lays down the case for the view that the Bush administration has pretty well doomed the Federal government to perpetual deficits:

When he announced the record $455 billion federal deficit last week, Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten reassured Americans that the red ink will evaporate as soon as the economy perks up. In the long term, Bolten insisted, rapid economic growth will generate the federal revenues needed to close the gap.

Bolten's faith in history is charming, but worrisome. His implication is that just as the '90s boom erased the deficit President Clinton inherited, so economic growth will eventually wipe out the deficit President Bush created.

But Bush's own policies make that very unlikely. Even if the economy rebounds, the tax revenue the federal government needs to balance the budget won't return.

The handwriting is on the wall....
unfortunately we have a President who doesn't read.

Fred Kaplan, in his War Stories column in Slate seems to be coming to pretty much the same conclusion that I have: the only way to salvage the mess in Iraq is to turn it over to the United Nations (I think pretty much unconditionally, I'm not sure I am reading Kaplan's take on that yet). From the column:

It is becoming increasingly clear that, at some point, the United Nations will have to take over the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. The only question is whether Kofi Annan ends up rushing in on his own terms to fill the gaps of a desperately overwhelmed American occupation force—or whether President Bush comes to his senses, realizes that the task is much harder than his advisers had predicted, and admits that he can't manage it by himself. If he reaches this conclusion in six months or a year, it will look like a mortifying retreat; if he does so much sooner, like now, he might still be able to look courageous and wise.

The chance of such a swift switch is remote. Secretary of State Colin Powell, meeting Wednesday with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, acknowledged that some nations "have expressed the desire for more of a mandate from the United Nations" and added, "I am in conversation with some ministers about this." But Powell is famously out of synch with the rest of this administration on the question of unilateralism versus multilateralism. And, notice, even he owned up to being merely "in conversation" with "some ministers," as opposed, say, to arranging action with pertinent U.N. agencies.


These much-noted embarrassments are but symptoms—logical corollaries—of the underlying problem, which is that Bush and his top advisers deluded themselves into presuming, against all historical precedent, that they could rebuild Iraq on their own in the first place.

One of the year's saddest official documents is the U.S. Agency for International Development's "Vision for Post-Conflict Iraq," a 13-page internal policy memo, dated Feb. 19, 2003 (leaked a few weeks later to the Wall Street Journal), that, read in retrospect, exposes the administration's full naiveté. In addition to the fine-tuned calculations of what percentage of electricity, water, health care, and other amenities will be restored within a few days, 60 days, and six months after the war ends, the memo contains this poignant decree: "The national government will be limited to assume national functions, such as defense and security, monetary and fiscal matters, justice, foreign affairs, and strategic interests such as oil and gas," while local assemblies will handle all other matters "in an open, transparent and accountable manner."

Should we laugh or cry at this noble plan to mate Jefferson with Hamilton on the democratic breeding grounds of the New Mesopotamia? The remarkable thing about the passage is that not a single noun or adjective turns out to have any bearing on the current reality. "National government," "defense," "security," "fiscal matters," "justice," "foreign affairs"—these concepts simply don't exist.


The assumptions of America's postwar policy have crumbled, so it should be no surprise that the policy is on the verge of crumbling, too. Leaving is not a real option; it would be a hideous thing—politically, strategically, and morally—to wreck a nation, install an interim "governing council," then split.

But staying, at least under the current arrangement, isn't much of an option either. We can't afford its price, in money or lives. The longer the United States remains the dominant face of armed authority, the more the Iraqis will associate us with the continuing chaos, and thus the greater the chance that, once they do form their own government, anti-Americanism will be the thickest of threads that hold it together.

A group of think-tank chiefs recently toured Iraq at the request of Bremer and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Their report, released yesterday, found that, while "the United States needs to be prepared to stay the course in Iraq for several years," it is in no shape to do so. The administrative authority in Baghdad "lacks the personnel, money and flexibility to be fully effective," and its officials are, by their own admission, "isolated and cut off from Iraqis."

Therefore, the report concludes, the United States "should reach out broadly to other countries," not only "to fill its staffing needs," but to form "a new coalition that involves various international actors, including from countries and organizations that took no part in the original war coalition."

Though the report doesn't venture into this realm, Bush will have to take some painful steps. The United States can no longer run the show; it's time to start sharing the decision-making powers. The United Nations seems the most logical forum, since it has experience with peacekeeping and postwar reconstruction; but if this medicine is too bitter, then a U.N. mandate and teams of advisers for some makeshift "new coalition"—perhaps involving members of NATO and the Arab League—is conceivable.

Yet other countries—substantial countries with large armies and hard currency—will only send troops if Bush gives them incentives to do so. Surely he and Dick Cheney, proud capitalists both, understand the role of capital in international relations. All the contracts for Iraqi development cannot keep going to Bechtel and Halliburton. German, Russian, and yes, even French firms must get a piece of the action. (French officials have been blatant about this aspect of their requirements, but that doesn't make satisfying them any less necessary.) It will not be pleasant to let the French profit while the House cafeteria still has freedom fries on its menu. But to refuse them a share of postwar revenue in exchange for sharing postwar risks would not only doom our own interests in the region, it would also convince conspiracy theorists everywhere—those who think Bush went to war for oil, contracts, and the pursuit of global conquest—that their cynicism was justified.

Fun with song lyrics....
From a discussion on the SKEPTIC email list.

Here's the lyrics to the Australian folk song, "Waltzing Matilda":

Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"
Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong:
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

Up rode a squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred;
Down came the troopers, one, two, three:
"Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong;
"You'll never catch me alive!" said he;
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"

* swagman: an intinerant farmhand, carrying his "swag" (his blankets) rolled into a cylinder
* billabong: a creek (normally with a pronounced "oxbow" bend)
* coolibah tree: a eucalypt (gum) tree )
* waited till his billy boiled: a billy is a tin can used to heat water over a campfire to make tea
* jumbuck: sheep
* tucker-bag: bag or box used to store food
* squatter: farmer/grazier who simply found good land and took possession; some became extremely rich
* trooper: policeman or soldier on horseback

And now, let the legislature have its hand at it:

Waltzing Matilda
(in accordance with the National Anthems Act of 1920 (as amended) Chapter 9, section 1:04, para 3/c, sub-para lI(ii))

During a previous time frame, a jocose rural itinerant resided temporarily al fresco, in the environs of a permanently adjusted watercourse,
Availing himself of the umbrageous qualities of an indigenous floral specimen, to wit Eucalyptus microtheca.
As he maintained a vigil and underwent an ongoing hiatus, in anticipation of the elevated temperature phase of his cylindrical liquid containment vessel, he vocalised euphoniously,
"You and I will engage in a terpsichorean episode in 3/ 4 time".

Enter a member of the species Ovis aries, intent on an oral irrigation experience,
Initiating, in the protagonist, the convulsive attainment of an upright posture, the forcible restraint of the mammalian livestock unit and the simultaneous exhibition of vocal and physiognomical risibility.
His audible exudations as he ensconced the ungulate within his mobile victual conservation facility, may be summarised as,
"Indulgence in rhythmical pedestrian activities is mandated"

At this juncture, the idyll was interrupted by the appearance of a member of the rural land-owning sector, in an appropriate equestrian mode,
Accompanied by a triumvirate of law–enforcement operatives, similarly non–pedestrian in locomotion.
"Confess the current location of the animated ovine, secreted in your comestible stowage module,
You will experience a physico–musical, one–on–one situation with us."

The indigent resumed his perpendicular posture, prior to launching his physical person into the fluid medium
"Incarceration whilst vital signs are in evidence is contra–indicated" was his riposte.
Habitues of the immediately adjacent spatial co–ordinates of the aforementioned riparian geological formation attest to certain audible phantasmic manifestations,
"Lyrical undulation in a bipartite context is indicated"

Thought for the Day:
Not that sophisticated, respectable religious thought is any better. Reading the work of religious academics is just as infuriating, as I watch them retreat from all substantive claims while saying God is still the ultimate cause behind it all. In the end, all that remains is metaphysical pontificating or a diffuse mysticism; a divinity which is merely differently ridiculous when compared to the fundamentalist Big Boss In The Sky
--Taner Edis

Monday, July 21, 2003

You just can't keep a booming business from expanding....
Well, the 419 scam has just spread to the Philippines. I just have to quote this one it its entirety (well, not in its entirety; Dr. Mrs. Luisa Estrada took the care to copy her email twice before sending it to me. I guess just in case it got garbled in the first half):

I will be greatful if you can pay attention to this mail and read carefully, I confidently believe you will assist in this transaction and that is why I have decided to involve you in this transaction, I am a woman of substance and of great importance to my nation and the society in general. I will not entertain any act of unseriousness from you in this transaction, you will take instructions from me at all time and for security reasons you will only communicate with me only through my email for now.

I am Dr. Mrs LUISA EJERCITO ESTRADA , the wife of Mr Joseph Estrada the former President of Philippine, located in the south east Asia. My husband was resently impeached from office by a backed uprising of mass demonstrators and the senate. During my husband's regime as president of Philippine Government, I realised US$25.5 millions of dollars from various contract projects I executed successfully. I had planed to invest this money in Real Estate and Industrial Production.
At the moment,I have moved the funds from the bank  with the help of a security company outside philippine to Europe awaiting awaiting clearance from the security company. I need your assistance to travel to Europe,secure the funds from the security company and transfer  the money to your bank account as the Beneficiary/my Proxy because I do not want the Philippine Government to trace and confiscate this fund, they have confiscated all our assets. This is the only money left for me and my family.

Now if you agree, I will offer you 40% of the total fund, and you must keep it very secret and confidential o.k. There is no risk involved, all I want from you is your corporation so that we can have a sucessful transaction as all modalities has been put in place. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pray and fast over it so that at the end we shall both celebrate.
Dr Mrs Luisa Estrada.

Notice that Dr. Mrs. Estrada is much more generous than my good friend Dr. Mrs. Maryam Abacha. While she doesn't have as much money as Maryam, notice she's offering me a lot bigger percentage of it. Maybe I'd better get an email out to her right away before she changes her mind? ;-)

A random email to


 The idea that anyone would find George W. Bush sexually attractive makes me literally, physically ill. George W. Bush's sexual appeal is comparable to month-old tuna salad that's been sitting in the Florida sun with bugs crawling through it.

 His murderous greed, his sociopathic selfishness, and his psychotic hypocrisy Is as sexually attractive as that swarm of mutated horned worms that came out from under Spock's coffin in Star Trek III.

 That fake Sak's Fifth Avenue flight suit with the double-stuffed crotch was the last straw.  Anyone who still has an ounce of admiration or respect for the wartime-deserting drunk should be locked up and have their brains sectioned. A cure for stupidity is desperately overdue.

 Meanwhile, our kids continue to die for no damn reason while Dumbo takes another vacation.

 Dian H

You gotta hand it to Bush
He seems hell bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

MSNBC: Anger at US makes some Iraqis regret Saddam's fall

Slogans hailing Saddam Hussein emblazon walls in the restive town of Falluja, where some Iraqis said on Friday they were so disgruntled with the U.S. military that they want their deposed leader to return.


''Saddam, for all his faults, was like the tent that protected us,'' said 14-year-old Mohammed Abbas. ''The Americans promised us security and a better life but now we feel violated. Life under Saddam was heaven compared to this.''


[T]here is palpable nostalgia for Saddam in a town where many have lost their old jobs in the government or the now-disbanded armed forces and security services.

''Nobody can help us but Saddam, and we want him back,'' said former soldier Ahmed Salem, who now ekes a living from carrying goods in his battered and rusty pickup truck.

''We had jobs, we didn't have to worry about going out at night. The only thing that is keeping us alive now is what Saddam left for us,'' he said.

Granted, as the article points out, such sentiments are "not universally held." But even those who are not longing for Saddam's return aren't exactly infatuated with us

''The situation we are in calls for calm,'' Sheikh Khaled Ahmed Saleh, preacher at Falluja's main mosque told some 800 worshippers at Friday prayers. ''We should not resist the Americans, nor should we support Saddam because both of them have only brought death and destruction to Iraq.''

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time...
but eventually your prevarication catches up with you.

According to a Time/CNN poll this month, a majority of respondents express doubts about Bush's trustworthiness. Only 47% of the respondents say that Bush is someone they can trust.

Maybe there's cause for hope.

Good news? Perhaps the Patriot Act is doomed?
At least three states (Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont) have passed anti-Patriot Act resolutions. And more evidence that the pendulum is starting to swing: The pendulum has reached its apex

What scares me, is that these bozos get briefed on these matters
From Daily Kos: Ignorance reigns, and both Hastert and Biden are showing their ignorance.

Read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:

It's not clear whether know-it-all moderator Tim Russert detected Hastert's gaffe. He clearly missed Biden's. Neither occasioned mainstream correction or comment, at least in the first response cycle.

Uranium is not plutonium. Yellowcake is not U235. A nation that has a barrel of yellowcake is not the same threat as a nation that has a ton of plutonium.

Until our leaders -- and their interlocutors -- begin to take hard facts more seriously, our national dialogue will remain incoherent and our collective response to emerging threats will remain dysfunctional.

Meanwhile ... Biden is from Pluto, Hastert is from Uranus, and our little planet is in a world o' hurt.

Surprise, surprise...NOT!!!
According to The Daily Kos, Bush, who had outpolled Arab Americans 58.5% to 22.5%, has pretty well lost that vote; "If the election where held today, they would support the Democrat 52% to 10%. Why is this important? Because it knocks Michigan out of contention for Bush."

They didn't play it up enough on ESPN last night....
Albert Pujols hit his 100th homer last night, and becomes the fourth player--the other three being Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner (114), Eddie Matthews (112) and Joe DiMaggio (107)--to hit 100 homers in his first three big league seasons. When you consider that the season's only half over, Albert's quite likely to overtake at least one of those players before the end of the season, and probably has a very good chance of overtaking them all.

But if you really want to be impressed, though, look Albert up in Baseball Reference... The boy is phenomenal, by any measure. On the Hall of Fame Standards test, Pujols has already scored 34 (the average Hall of Famer is about at 50), and in the Hall of Fame Monitor measure (where a score of 100 is a pretty good shot at making the Hall, and a score of 130 or more is pretty much a lock) he's scored at 44--in only his third big league season!!! (Really, only his second, since the statistics on that page don't count his performance this year.) Also impressive are his similarity scores.. looking at "most similar batters through age 22" (last season) 7 of the ten names on that list are in the Hall (DiMaggio, Medwick, Aaron, Musial, Foxx, Frank Robinson and Joe Kelley). Then take a look on the "most similar batters by age" (ages 21 and 22; the two seasons that complete stats are available for) there's only one name: Joe DiMaggio. And that ain't a bad player to be most similar to.

Maybe I'm just being a blithering idiot (I've been accused of it before), but I'm convinced: as long as Albert doesn't screw up royally or suffer a career ending injury soon, he's a very probable Hall of Famer.

No, Bush didn't lie....
Gabriel Ash: Arm the photon torpedoes!


In the last few weeks, these wretched corporate journalists, and their chasers in the Corpocratic Party, are finally getting the courage to whine that Bush dared to lie to them.

Shocking, Shocking!

Like a pack of wolves, our brave journalists and politicians are gregarious. They only attack in tight formation, and they never bite before checking left and right with their peers. But they are wrong. Bush never lied to them.

The problem isn't only that Bush has used "technically correct" but misleading statements. It is funny to see the man who promised to restore dignity to the White House defending himself with the equivalent of Clinton's "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." But that doesn't even scratch the surface of Bush's unreality.

Complaining of being lied to by Bush is like complaining of being deceived by an actor who falsely calls himself King Lear, or by a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat. The magician isn't deceiving us. We all understand that the rabbit wasn't really inside the hat. But we are fascinated by the showmanship involved in pulling the rabbit from nowhere as we watch.

Likewise, Bush's "lies" are so numerous and so egregious that they cease to be lies at all. Instead, they create a magical universe in which the "reality principle" is suspended. We are in a theater, watching the recitations of text that is patently unmoored, indeed absurd, like the story about the transatlantic drones, or the story about stimulating the economy with tax-cuts that will kick in after half a decade, or the story that GM food is a solution to world hunger, or practically any story that comes from the White House. Instead of being angry at the lies, we appreciate the virtuosity of the performance.

How to support the troops: a quick primer?
From Newsday: Lost in Iraq (and Washington): U.S. Troops

From the article:

So it turns out that the Bush administration's real definition of "Support Our Troops" is this:

Send the troops to war, promise them a quick return, then keep them in the dark, with no idea of when they can see their families again, if they survive a mission for which they have no training and no appetite - and while they're away, pinch pennies rather than increase their benefits.


Other countries won't send soldiers now to mop up what they saw as an unnecessary war. So the United States is stuck with the job, and it's difficult to rotate troops already stretched too far. The resulting uncertainty and the continuing guerrilla attacks are taking their toll.

Soldiers are writing their members of Congress. Quotes from the troops are becoming increasingly angry. One or two even suggested to the press that Rumsfeld resign. At home, families are frayed with worry and the burdens of single-parenting. Case in point: A colonel dispatched to meet with hundreds of 3rd Infantry Division spouses faced such hostility that he had to be escorted out of the room at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Even President George W. Bush is not immune from criticism. An editorial in the Army Times - the Army Times! - complained that the administration is squeezing the troops on such benefits as imminent-danger pay, family-separation allowance, and payments to families of those who die on active duty. The editorial's bottom line: "Money talks - and we all know what walks."

Molly Ivins is up to her usual (wonderful) sh*t...
From The Progressive: Who can beat President Goofus?


What ho, sports fans? Has this been a dandy spell for mind-boggling government, or what? Still no weapons of mass destruction, and every neocon in America is creating elaborate rationales for why it makes no difference whatever if we were lied to about this war.

Meanwhile, in a truly creative demonstration of their problem-solving abilities, White House staffers fixed the entire global warming problem by editing it out of a report on the environment. Way to go, team! Why pay attention to scientists when you can insert a study paid for by the American Petroleum Institute instead? That Karl Rove, just brilliant. As President Bush said on June 4, "I'm the master of low expectations." And he continues to prove it.

Now to provide some good cheer. We've got some talent here, people, and most of them compare well to President Doofus.

John Kerry is in the unfortunate position of being the frontrunner, which you would not wish on your worst enemy. My early take on Kerry was that he has gravitas--sumbitch about bent over double with gravitas--but that he has no Elvis. Minus-zero on the Elvis Scale was my first read. No point in nominating some good and worthy candidate, like Fritz Mondale or Michael Dukakis, if they got no Elvis.


Naturally, I've been leaning toward Howard Dean: He's at 2 percent in the polls and has the full weight of Vermont behind him. On a recent visit to Austin, Dean sounded alarmingly moderate, appealing to the centrist vote. Sheesh, what good is Dean if he doesn't pull the whole field to the left?

I like Dick Gephardt, I can't help it. I've always liked labor-liberals: I think they're plugged in to real people in a way these DLC Democrats can never fathom. We could get him new eyebrows. New eyebrows are easy compared to a charisma transplant. He made a serious health care proposal (not a terribly good one, but serious) and proposes to pay for it by repealing the Bush tax cuts. He may have no eyebrows but has balls.


Al Sharpton: Elvis! Wit! Doesn't have a chance so he can tell the truth. Naturally gets globs of rightwing media attention because they'd love for people to believe that Sharpton is the Democratic Party. Trouble with Sharpton (I'm a great believer in looking at the record) is that you can't trust him. Bad record. Very bad.

Representative Dennis Kucinich I naturally like, but consider a no-hoper. Can't elect a guy that short and skinny, not to mention vegetarian. Accuse me of cynicism in my old age, but I am interested in winning this one. Decent, kind, excellent: no Elvis, no hope.

Joe Lieberman does nothing for me. Republican lite.

The Shi'ite hits the fan....
Sorry. Couldn't resist that one.

Nonetheless, this story from the Boston Globe doesn't bode good for our occupation: Iraqi unrest grows; 2 soldiers killed

From the article:

In Najaf, more than 10,000 protesters converged on the US military's temporary base, demanding that the Americans withdraw from this southern city of about 900,000 people, a two-hour drive from Baghdad. The area has seen no attacks against US troops, and is home to those who suffered massive abuses under Hussein's 35-year rule.

''No, no Americans after today!'' chanted the Shi'ite demonstrators as they drew close to a solid line of about 30 US Marines. Others shouted: ''Americans and Jews, the army of Al-Mahdi is coming back!'' referring to a ninth-century cleric who Shi'ites believe will return in glory.

The protesters are followers of a popular Najaf cleric, Moqtada Al-Sadr, who told tens of thousands of worshipers here on Friday that he intended to form a Shi'ite army to confront the US soldiers. Sadr, 31, also condemned Iraq's week-old Governing Council as an American puppet group. Its 25 members were handpicked by the top US official in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III.

''America and the council are infidels,'' shouted the Shi'ite protesters, as they pushed forward toward the soldiers, appearing to seek a fight. The Shi'ite clerics leading the march pushed back against the crowd, imploring them to stay 20 feet back from the armed Marines.

The demonstration was called overnight after rumors whipped through Shi'ite communities that US forces had surrounded Sadr's home on Saturday. Thousands of protesters clogged Baghdad's streets on Saturday on a false rumor that Sadr was in US custody.

When war erupted four months ago, the US forces assumed they would be hailed as liberators by the Shi'ites of southern Iraq, more than by any other group. Tens of thousands of southern Shi'ites are believed to have been massacred by Hussein's forces after the 1991 Gulf War, when they attempted a mass revolt against the Sunni-dominated regime.

Yet Shi'ite clerics have been vocal in demanding a quick end to US occupation. Some say they are offended by the sight of Western soldiers massing in their holy Muslim cities. Others are eager to claim political power after decades of suppression.

The Shi'ite hostility has jolted many Americans in Iraq. One Sadr official sounded almost nostalgic for Hussein yesterday. ''The Americans came as liberators and then turned into occupiers,'' said Sheikh Abbas Al-Ruba'i, Sadr's spokesman, in Sadr's office here. Asked if life was better now, he said: ''It's not better with an occupation force.''

Hmmmmm... either we let them have what they want (an Islamic republic, which is the last thing we want), or we face (potentially) years of Iraqi guerilla warfare. As Ron Giedinghagen (my revered senior HS English teacher) used to say, "'twixt the Devil and the deep blue sea...."

Ah, the Intel Mac.... some dreams never die.
In case that doesn't quite compute for you, that's the notion, floated by a lot of folks that want some means to break away from the iron grip of Microsoft but neither have the money to blow on a Mac nor the desire/courage/technical cojones to deal with Linux, that Apple should port Mac OS X to Intel (and, I assume, AMD) hardware. Not exactly inconceivable; the roots of OS X are in the BSD line, and supposedly Mac is sponsoring a more-or-less open source version of OS X called "Darwin". Anyway, over on AnchorDesk today David "noted Microsoft shill but occasional Mac partisan" Coursey is touting the idea again: Why I want a Pentium Mac.

UPDATE: For what it's worth, someone on the ZDNet talkback forum transcribed and posted the Matt Deatherage MacWorld article which got Coursey thinking about a Pentium Mac again. For anyone who's interested, you can find it at this link: Matt Deatherage, "Pentium Envy"

Thought for the Day:
Here let me just observe the relevance of Creationism for the Evangelical apprehension of history. I think it is not accident that when one embraces both Creationism and Lindsey-style apocalyptic, one has drawn history close about oneself like a snug blanket. Neither the past nor the future is very long. Humanity thus seems to be center-stage for the whole duration of the play. Only the most radical fundamentalist sectarians still believe the earth revolves about the sun, but this curtailing of history on both ends serves the same end. The implications of Copernicus's revolution may be safely ignored: man is the center of things after all.
--Robert M. Price

Sunday, July 20, 2003

From Ed Foster's GripeLog blog:
Ten Commandments for Software Developers

Such a good idea that, alas, no software developers will ever folllow them.

Then again, maybe I spoke too soon....
Apparently, a hoax website making the claim that Metallica was suing another band for using their "branded" E, F chord progression apparently landed a number of suckers.....

Maybe there is hope....
This from's Urban Legends site: Increase in Net Skepticism:

Notable quote from Connie Chesner, who tracks Internet rumors and advises companies on coping with same: 'We have entered this skeptical age, and the longer people use the Internet and email, the more aware they become. Rumors and stories have hints of credibility but more people are starting to ask for the hard evidence and documentation. When a campy sounding story like a body in a hotel room appears, it may seem to be true but before people believe it, they want the evidence.' (Ottawa Citizen)

Interesting article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By way of background (for those of you not aware that St. Louis, Missouri is in fact the Center of the Universe, Paradise on the Mississippi, and The Only City on which All of God's Blessings Flow), Pope John Paul II has named Justin Rigali, current Archbishop of St. Louis, to succeed Anthony Joseph Cardinal Bevilacqua as Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Lay Catholics hope Rigali's successor will be man of the people

I found this interesting, though mildly amusing:

The Rev. Charles Bouchard, a Dominican friar in his 13th year as president of Aquinas Institute of Theology in midtown, knows that's how it works. Even so, he believes lay Catholics, deacons and priests should suggest what qualities and talents the archdiocese needs in its new leader.

"The church has changed so much in the last two years," he said. "The sexual misconduct crisis has put in us in a new position. Bishops will have to ask different questions than they have ever asked in the past."

Bouchard says parish leaders should hold forums for laypeople to examine the parish and archdiocese's needs in the next decade, he said. That should aid in identifying the talents required of a new archbishop.

Way back in the "good old days", Catholics in a diocese elected their bishops. Yes, that's right, the laypeople voted for who they wanted. And the system didn't seem to work too bad; it's how such luminaries as St. Ambrose and St. Augustine became bishops....

Another amusing thing, at least to me... this yearning for "a man of the people" seems to me as kinda damning Rigali with faint praise. Apparently, he wasn't much of one, or so I'd conclude, if the St. Louis Catholics are so yearning for a man of the people.

Bush to Europe: Drop dead! Europe to Bush: Drop dead!
(I hope y'all get the reference to a once famous pair of NY Post headlines....

M. N. Dean: In the end, a President must be held accountable

From the article:

In February, weeks before combat began, Gen. Eric K. Shineski - a man who would have known what he was talking about, given the fact that he had earlier commanded NATO's Bosnian peacekeeping force - told the Senate that to pacify and ultimately rebuild Iraq would require at least 200,000 troops. Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, disputed the figure at the time, and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the top neocon honcho, scoffed at it as "wildly inaccurate." Now Rumsfeld, with his Pentagon straining to sustain more than half the army in Iraq while maintaining other troop commitments in Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans, has asked other nations for help. Many governments have resisted his entreaties, including India's, from which the administration is seeking an entire division. And European countries, with the exception of Britain, have been weary all along of the United States' unilateralism. Effectively they are now saying: "Hey, we told you so."


In his testimony, [said the NYT] Mr Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild post-war Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible", but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr Wolfowitz said. He added that "many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help." (NYT Feb 28, 2003)

He seems to have been wrong on every count.

The Iraqi expatriates are seen to be worse than useless. Iraqi civilians, far from welcoming the Americans, now seem to regard them as targets of opportunity, and the nations which opposed the war are showing no interest in assuming any real share of the manpower or treasure needed to pacify Iraq.


At one stroke, the White House on Monday
[i.e., the date of the admission by the White House that the Iraq/Niger allegation should not have been included in the State of the Union address] destroyed any possibility that George Bush and Tony Blair could claim that they are honourable men, that they are honest and upright leaders of the people. The British tradition demands that Blair should resign; the American tradition demands that Bush should be impeached.

If they were officers in any European army a century ago, they would each have been locked in rooms by themselves with a notepad and a pistol.

Iraq just a smokescreen for Enron, for 9/11, and for our failure to get Bin Laden
Eric Margolis: Bush Deserves to be Impeached

From the column:

Bush's crusade against Iraq was designed to assuage Americans' fury and fear over 9/11 by making Saddam Hussein a whipping boy for the attack in which he had no part.

The jolly little wars against Afghanistan and Iraq were also designed to make Americans forget the Bush White House had been caught with its pants down by 9/11, and was asleep at the switch in the Enron financial disaster.

Who now remembers that Attorney General John Ashcroft actually cut spending on anti-terrorism before 9/11, or that Washington was giving millions to the Taliban until four months before 9/11?

How better to get Americans to support a war than by insinuating, as did Bush, that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, and claiming Saddam was about to attack the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction?

A pre-emptive attack on Iraq was urgent to save America, insisted Bush.

A weak-kneed Congress and credulous public went along with White House warmongering, while the spineless UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and UN arms inspector Hans Blix wriggled like jellyfish.

Most Democrats, including some presidential candidates, joined Bush's lynch mob.

It was not just the Niger canard.

A torrent of lies poured from the administration, all aimed at justifying a war of aggression, thwarting the UN Security Council, ending UN inspections in Iraq and grabbing Iraq's oil riches.

Virtually all administration claims about Iraq's weapons had been disproved by UN inspectors before Bush went to war.

Exposed as fakery are the "drones of death;" aluminum tubes for centrifuges; chemical munitions bunkers; mobile germ labs; hidden Scuds; links to al-Qaida and "poison camps;" Saddam's smallpox; Saddam's secret nuclear program.

And the biggest canard of all: Bush's absurd claims there was "no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," and that it "threatened all mankind."

Thanks to the shameful complicity of the U.S. media, which amplified White House propaganda, Americans were led to believe Iraq attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and was in league with al-Qaida.

Bush's faux war on terrorism was redirected, by clever White House spin, into a hugely popular campaign against Iraq.

The failure to kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was covered up by the rush to kill Saddam.

The litany of lies produced by the White House and its neo-con allies would be farcical were it not for the deaths of so many Americans and Iraqis.

Of course, all politicians lie.

But lying to get one's country into an unnecessary war is an outrage, and ought to be an impeachable offence.

Thought for the Day:
This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer--vertical and horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private, directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible, because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow men standing within earshot.


Our attorney general, John Ashcroft, is theoretically responsible for enforcing the separation of church and state. He violates his oath of office daily by getting down on his knees in his government office every morning and welcoming federal employees to join him in "voluntary" prayer on carpets paid for by the taxpayers.


Because our enemies are for the most part more enthusiastic about horizontal prayer than we are, and see absolutely no difference between church and state--indeed, want to make them the same--it is alarming to reflect that they may be having more success bringing us around to their point of view than we are at sticking to our own traditional American beliefs about freedom of religion. When Ashcroft and his enemies both begin their days with displays of their godliness, do we feel safer after they rise from their devotions?
--Roger Ebert, on the public school prayer debate

Saturday, July 19, 2003

And pretty soon it'll be a major....
COM 480 Ethnography of on-line role-playing games

An excerpt:

In lieu of a textbook, you are expected to purchase a copy of the Everquest Trilogy software (approximately $20 retail). You must also commit to a three-month subscription at the rate of $12.95 per month. Since the first month is free, the total expenditure for computer supplies is approximately $46.

And the best part of enrollment in this class? If you cut class to play Everquest, you're still studying.

Stumbled across this silly Quizilla quiz...
and I couldn't resist.

Threat rating: High. The Bush administration is
concerned that it may not get a second term.
Therefore, we are going to change the rules so
that each Democrat vote only counts as 0.2
votes because Democrat is a shorter word than

What threat to the Bush administration are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wonder if Bob Somerby would agree....
Robert Parry: Lying--a Bush family value

Somerby, in his incomparable pieces in The Daily Howler, has written at length about the "culture of lying" which surrounds George W. Bush. Apparently Dubya inherited the culture from his Daddy....

It's official!
More U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq in Gulf War II than were killed in the first one.

Some of the news I've been reading is that the casualty figures have been deliberately suppressed, and that in reality combat deaths are being passed off as non-combat related deaths. No matter now; even under the most conservative estimates Dumbya's war has killed more men than his Daddy's.

The Guardian calls it like it sees it....
but, of course, the Administration won't see it this way. The US needs allies - but is too proud to pay the price

From the article:

The US is in danger of moving from a unilateralism it freely chose to an isolation it neither desired nor expected. As the costs and difficulties of reconstructing Iraq come home to Washington, it looks as if America is going to be left to bear the burden without the major aid from its friends and allies, other than Britain, that it now desperately wants.

An over-confident administration had at first assumed it would not need much help from others in Iraq. They then concluded they did need it but that it would not be too difficult to drum up. Now they are realising they are unlikely, at least in the near future, to get soldiers and financial help from other countries in anything like the quantities they had hoped.

Nor is it clear that an American agreement to expand the role of the UN in Iraq, if it should be forthcoming, would necessarily open the aid gates. Some of the countries explaining their reluctance to contribute on the grounds that the UN is not sufficiently involved, may be doing so in the expectation that the Bush administration will never go far enough in that direction, and that their UN bluff, as it were, will never be called.


The disconnection between the American view of reality and that of other countries can be amazing. Reports speak of "calls" from congressional committees - shocked by rising estimates of occupation - for "more international sharing" of those costs. Such calls are made as if international help was available on tap whenever the US should choose to turn the faucet. There seems to be scant understanding, despite everything, of the way in which American resistance to cooperation with others, not only on Iraq, might induce in them a reluctance to cooperate with America.


[T]he attempt to internationalise the occupation force will continue as a comedy involving a cast of tiny contingents requiring so much American and British logistical and other help as to be hardly worth having. They may provide some politically useful diversity, but what the US thinks it needs now is not political cover but a lot of the military heavy-lifting to be done by others, so that some of their own men can go home. There are only about a dozen armies in the world which can provide such help and, at the moment, none of them are coming to the party.

We haven't run any SCO v. IBM news in a while....
NetworkWorldFusion tells us that SCO "is preparing a new Linux licensing program that it claims will allow users of the open-source operating system to run Linux without fear of litigation."

Big of them, ain't it?

And South Knox Bubba on the new black box voting machines:
From today's edition:

From the new touch screen black box voting machine software that was left on a public FTP server for anyone to download:

Public Sub count_this_vote(candidate As Object)
     Select Case
        Case "D"
           candidate.votes = candidate.votes + 1
        Case "R"
           candidate.votes = candidate.votes + 2
        Case Else
           candidate.votes = 0
     End Select
End Sub

The SKB Election Research Institute predicts a GOP landslide in 2004.

Go look at this one; the graphic alone is priceless...
From "South Knox Bubba": White House launches massive PR campaing[sic] of proof...

Thought for the Day:
I wish Hollywood made more movies like this one. But not necessarily ones with roman numerals after the title.
--Mark Ramsey [on the film "Barbershop"]

Friday, July 18, 2003

From today's BartCop

"The Wall Street Journal reported that women are sexually attracted to Bush. 'Hot? So hot!! That uniform!' said one New York mom. Said another: 'I mean, that swagger. George Bush in a pair of jeans is a treat to watch.'"
-- Roger D. Hodge, Harper's Weekly Review, May 20, 2003

When women were saying that about Clinton, Rush called them "Arousal Gappers," and said they weren't qualified to vote if they thought like that.

Of course, he's changed his tune now that Bush stuffed a roll of socks in his pants and dressed up in a pretend pilot costume. Clinton didn't have to dress up like a nine year-old to gain the respect of the whole world - which is something Bush can't do.

Depressing news, if true....
Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely isn't being very encouraging in his column at, today.

The relevant excerpt:

Another interesting story appeared this week in my inbox from New Zealand claiming that Diebold voting machines in the U.S. (Diebold apparently makes most of the voting machines used in the U.S.) have major security flaws that allow manipulation of elections. These flaws are not so much hackable as they are designed into the system for deliberate manipulation of election results, claim the authors. I have no idea whether this claim is true or not, though the authors provided vast amounts of supporting evidence including source code. What is interesting to me is not so much that this could happen, but that we haven't read about it in the mainstream press. I didn't even bother investigating the story because it was sent to every reporter the authors could find. I figured that before I could verify anything the story would be in the Washington Post, yet it isn't. It isn't anywhere other than on a few obscure web pages and right here. It seemed to me to be newsworthy even if all the Post and the New York Times and the other big boys simply chose to debunk the story, yet they haven't done that.

Hopefully, the story is false. You can learn more about it under the "I Like It" link on this page. If it is true, then it may well be the case that massive voter fraud has put many of the wrong candidates in office, meaning we aren't a nation of laws at all. Even more disturbing is the fact that the mainstream press doesn't appear to be interested, which is scary. You be the judge.

The more I think about this, the more I think this is a hoax...
Hunting for Bambi

See also the Hunting for Bambi website...

I'm pleased to say that the Urban Legends Reference Pages, while listing this officially as "undetermined", seems to agree with me that it is a hoax.

UPDATE Sunday night, 7/20 (7PM CDT): The Snopes website (Urban Legends Reference Pages) has now come to the conclusion that this story is a hoax, and is listing it as "false". I just noticed this going over my update email.

I love this:

Marv Glovinsky is a clinical psychologist. He says Hunting for Bambi is every man's fantasy come true. "You might think of all men as little boys who have never grown up, so they entertain their adolescent fantasies and they go through life being adolescents on the hunt."

Excuse me Marv.....I can be accused of having a rich and varied fantasy life, from adolescence on, and never once have I had the fantasy of hunting down a naked woman with a firearm. I guess that means I must be missing something.

Comedian Lewis Black once urged people to visit Las Vegas because, "For only the second time in history, we've built Sodom and Gomorrah, and everybody ought to go and see it before the Christian right finds out about it and fucks it up." I'm not sure I agree with Lewis, anymore; I don't think that Sodom or Gomorrah featured hunting naked women with paintballs.

Then again, it might have made some of those Quilogy paintball outings more interesting.

And we knew it was only a matter of time...
eWeek: Critical Flaw Leaves Windows Server 2003 Vulnerable

W: "What? Me worry? I'm rich....
and besides, I'll be dead long after the shit really hits the fan..."

Or at least, isn't that what he seems to be saying. From Paul Krugman's New York Times column of today:

Here's another sentence in George Bush's State of the Union address that wasn't true: "We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents and other generations."


The last defense of the budget deficit is that it helps a depressed economy — to which the answer is "yes, but." Yes, deficit spending stimulates demand — but tax cuts for the rich, which have dominated the administration's economic program, generate very little employment bang for the deficit buck. Of the 2.6 million jobs the economy has lost under the Bush administration, 2 million have been lost since the 2001 tax cut.

And yes, deficits are appropriate as a temporary measure when the economy is depressed — but these deficits aren't temporary.

All they wanted to know they learned in Kindergarten.
From AlterNet: Romper Room

An excerpt:

Remember, way back in December 2000, after the U.S. Supreme Court finally stole, er, ruled that George W. Bush would become the next President of the United States?

One of the primary themes to emerge – from the ornate hotel lobbies of Washington, from the mouths of AM talk radio hosts, from the new regime's sneering acolytes in cowboy hats and fur-trimmed coats – was that at last, finally, grown-ups would be running Washington, D.C. No more semen-stained dresses. No more fags in uniform and half-assed missile attacks. No more her. No more children running the world.


At least with Clinton you knew that the most powerful man in the world had reached adolescence, if not much beyond it. But all current evidence suggests that the world is now being run by 7-year-olds.

A most excellent analysis...
The Smirking Chimp brings us "Shallow Throat" advises Democrats to bring it on big-time, by Bernard Weiner, a really good analysis of why the Bush Administration is unravelling right now....From the piece:

[Shallow Throat said,] "But it's a larger issue, and here's where the Bush people are so vulnerable. Given that their bullyboy, in-your-face attitude had worked so well, in their hubris they really thought they could do and say anything and get away with it forever. So they told all sorts of whoppers about why Iraq supposedly was an 'imminent' danger to the U.S., and grossly manipulated non-existent facts to generate pro-war hysteria in time to meet the go-date for the bombing and invasion -- which, of course, had been set a half-year before. All of that was so blatant and obvious, it was no wonder millions of protesters took to the streets, and the European leaders and the U.N. would have nothing to do with the Bush Administration and even shouted at them in public."

"But," I said, "even though the Bushies always had gotten away with such behavior before, didn't they suspect that they might not get away with it this time, given the stakes involved?"

"The short answer is no. For people like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Perle and so on -- the true-believer zealots -- they'd been on such an unimpeded roll for so long, and with the conglomerate-owned mass-media covering their butts for them, why should it ever end? Oh, a few were aware that the approach was risky -- Colin Powell, for one, knew there was too much 'bullshit' intelligence, his word not mine, being passed off as fact -- but figured that after the invasion, the military might just find a whole lot of WMD to justify the war, and make the lies moot.

"But nothing was found, zilch, nada. Even the two trailers, which they claimed were proof of nefarious preparations for bio-chem warfare, turned out to be British-sold vehicles for making weather-balloon gas. And the stuff buried in the nuclear scientist's garden 12 years ago just confirmed that there was no serious atomic development in the works.

"Now, just in case some actual or planted WMD turns up in Iraq, it's vital that your Democrat and internet-writer friends need to quit focusing only on those offending 16 words and to move on to the larger point: Nothing that has been found to date, and probably nothing that will be found, lends any credence to the Bush theory -- elaborated in speech after speech for months before the State of the Union address -- that Iraq was an imminent threat to the U.S. or U.K. or their neighbors. Simply wasn't true.


"And, by the way, the Bush people are incompetents -- but that's another story."

"Don't just teasingly drop that in. I want to hear that story," I said.

"They're so locked into their ideological box that they don't receive the more complex, real-world information they need to make wise decisions. The White House aides follow their boss in their lack of curiosity about the world outside their little fiefdoms. Don't bother them with facts, their minds are made up, that sort of thing.

"So, for example, they ignored what actually was happenng inside Iraq and listened mostly to what the Iraqi exile leaders were telling them -- basically whatever they figured the Bushies wanted to hear -- and assumed it would all go down like Chalabi and his followers said. The result was that there were no firm plans for an occupation by arms after Saddam was defeated, since everyone would want to cooperate with the Americans, after first kissing their feet and throwing rose petals on their heads.

"And now these exiles, many of whom haven't the foggiest notion what's really happening inside the country, dominate the new Governing Council of Iraq. And the Americans are surprised that a great many Iraqis consider these Council members to be collaborators with the Americans. Every member was appointed by the occupying power -- terrified to permit Iraqis to vote for their own interim government.

"You can smell Vietnam all over Iraq. The U.S., too stupid and stubborn to admit it's made a bad mistake, not really understanding the layers of the culture in which they find themselves, is going to be bogged down there forever, fighting Iraqi guerrillas and calling for yes another 50,000 and then another 100,000 troops but we're winning the hearts and minds of the natives don't worry the boys will be home by Christmas now don't that sound familiar?"

"But they claim they're getting a number of nations to come help them out, so that the American troops can head back home?"

Shallow Throat gave me a look like I was a total dumbbell, then said: "Look, my friend. Before the war started, the Bush Administration humiliated and bullied countries that should have been, and could have been, their allies in the first place. But that would have meant sharing some power, and the Project for the New American Century ideologues that control military policy in the Bush Administration, who drew up the Iraq war doctrine and the strategy for 'benevolent global hegemony' -- yep, they really called it that -- could not permit any other country or international body to have a piece of the action.

"The unilateral cowboys went off and had their nice, quick little war, but now are paying a huge price in blood and treasure, and want the countries they'd insulted to come help them play occupier and hegemonist. No wonder few are signing up voluntarily, and almost nobody is sending large contingents of troops.

"Let's see which countries placate the Giant Elephant by sending a few troops, and which countries, like France and India, politely tell the U.S. to take a long walk on a short pier. And now that Bush and Blair are in the hot seat because of their gross lies to bamboozle their citizenry into supporting an unnecessary war, you can imagine that many countries will feel more emboldened to refuse the U.S. request for peacekeeping troops."


"Do you think that Bush&Co. can be defeated in 2004?"

"Sure, given some givens: That the 9/11 and WMD coverups continue to unravel. That the economy continues to tank as the deficits keep climbing to astronomical heights. That as popular social programs get cut (Head Start, Medicare, Social Security, pollution controls, etc.), and states keep going broke, with no funds to fix the bridges and the roads and the schools. That the American people grow tired of permanent war and body bags being shipped home. That someone discovers how to make the computer-voting software tamperproof and with verifiable paper trails. And on and on.

"The short answer is yes, because the Rove in-your-face approach works only as long as people are afraid of you; when they stand up and tell you to go to hell, the foundations holding up that deck of cards will topple and down will come baby, cradle and all. If they haven't resigned or been impeached by November of 2004, the Bush forces may well lose the election, provided, of course, that the Democrats put up someone who isn't afraid to speak truth to power but who also is able to mobilize not only the activist Democratic base but also can reach out to middle-class, middle-of-the-road type voters.

"If my Republican conservative friends and colleagues are examples -- just itching to feel secure but not with reckless crazies in charge -- the Democrat could win a fair election."

"Any final thoughts to pass on?" I asked.

"Just this: Like most bullies, the Bushies are insecure. Confront them with the facts, put them on the defensive, keep attacking their weak spots, don't let up, bring it on. You can win. And when you win, we all win -- the country, the nervous world, the Constitution. Now get to work."

And with that, Shallow Throat, from 10 feet out, flung a half-eaten sandwich into the dustbin, grinned, pulled the hat down, and sauntered out of the park. I found myself smiling, for the first time in a long time.

At least an independent investigation, fer Gawd's sake...
John Dean's FindLaw column is urging the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into Bush's WMD allegations.

Says Dean: So egregious and serious are Bush's misrepresentations that they appear to be a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the public. So arrogant and secretive is the Bush White House that only a special prosecutor can effectively answer and address these troubling matters. Since the Independent Counsel statute has expired, the burden is on President Bush to appoint a special prosecutor - and if he fails to do so, he should be held accountable by Congress and the public.

Remember who John W. Dean used to be White House Counsel for. I'd say he is an expert on arrogant and secretive White Houses....

From the South Africa Mail and Guardian
U.S. confused by Iraq's quiet war

The good news is that we're finally acknowledging we're in a guerrilla war. The bad news is that we still want to persist in our fantasy that it's just Baathist remnants loyal to Saddam Hussein. But as the Mail and Guardian piece points out:

These assertive analyses bear surprisingly little resemblance to the views of other sources, including US army commanders in the field, leading some to speculate that there is more spin than substance to them.

Ah, finally a chance to cite the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New commander calls Iraqi resistance a 'classical guerrilla-type campaign'

Well, the first step to recovery is to admit the problem....

How did our oil get under their sand, anyway?
Judicial Watch issued a press release today; apparently the Cheney Energy Task Force documents, for which Judicial Watch had to file a FOIA lawsuit, included maps and charts of Iraqi oil fields (as well as oil fields in Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

I do want to hear why the Cheney Task force was so interested in this....

Bush wants to hear from you!
But only if you support him. The Daily Kos links to a New York Times story that notes that you apparently have to click through a positively Byzantine set of pages off the White House Website in order to get an email through. From the NYT article:

Under a system deployed on the White House Web site for the first time last week, those who want to send a message to President Bush must now navigate as many as nine Web pages and fill out a detailed form that starts by asking whether the message sender supports White House policy or differs with it.

The White House, spinning like mad (probably the only exercise some of them get) calls it an enhancement to their communications process. But The God Of Web Usability, Jakob Nielsen had this to say:

"Over all, it's a very cumbersome process," said Jakob Nielsen, an authority on Web design who helps run a consulting group, Nielsen Norman Group, in Fremont, Calif. "It's probably designed deliberately to cut down on their e-mail." . . . Dr. Nielsen said he found a variety of shortcomings in the White House system, including what he called a deeply buried privacy policy and a lack of indicators marking one's progress in traversing each of the multiple Web page steps. He complained as well about a poorly designed approach to confirming that a message had actually been sent.

But what do you expect from an idiot who herds protesters into "First Amendment Zones" so he doesn't have to deal with them?

And I agree completely with Kos's comment:

Anyone want to venture where the "differing opinion" emails get deposited?

Yearning for immortality, of sorts....
This week's The Straight Dope addresses the earth-shaking question: Has anyone really gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

Quick answer: Yes, several times. Some lived, some died. But that's not all they did.... Read the column for the gory details.

No wonder I never made it in academia.
[T]he first rule of postmodernism: Make simple ideas complicated, and complicated ideas incomprehensible.

Pretty good article here in The National Post: They should know better: Humanities scholars spend lots of time reading, so why can't they write?

I wonder what the Church's answer will be now...
By now y'all have probably read one or more of the articles about how frequent masturbation (particularly while the subject is in his early twenties) seems to be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (said articles have been the buzz of several mail lists I'm subscribed to for several days now). I can see the scenes in the confessionals of the nation: "What, Father? You mean God wants me to risk getting cancer?" Or maybe the bedrooms of the nation: "Gee, mom... I really don't want to do it, but I don't want to get prostate cancer either!!!"

Thought for the Day:
If you really want to put a faith healer to the test, tell him you want a smaller shoe size.
--George Carlin

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I'm getting into a major Kraftwerk jones this year....
inspired by the imminent release of Tour de France '03 Soundtracks--their latest album release in about what? 15 years or so?

How about a Kraftwerk link in their honor? Thought for the Day: Kraftwerk, Group of the Century.

Thought for the Day:
Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever, for in no other endeavor does the consumer blame himself for product failure.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Yet another...
MS .Net Passport security bug.

My definition of "stupid": "anyone who trusts any sensitive information to .Net Passport."

As a Sybase Certified Professional, this interests me.
Sybase opens Linux center in New York

Today's Buzzword of the Day:
From today's BuzzWhack mailing:

DIGITAL DENIAL: The failure of a company or industry to accept that the Internet has changed the world and made its business model obsolete. Example: The recording industry, which is so desperate to maintain the status quo, has turned to suing its own customers.

Thought for the Day:
The postgame festivities had some minor delights, though. The constant images of sobbing, inconsolable batboys were a bit much, but then we got to see our old friend Mike Eisner, and what a treat that was. When historians try to pinpoint the moment that the T-shirt started to decline as a hipster fashion icon, they may well point to the Disney CEO's appearance on the winners' podium last night wearing a Mickey Mouse number under his blazer. If he'd happened to wear an artfully shredded pair of jeans, the fashion apocalypse would have been complete.
--Hugo Lindgren [ "Sports Nut", on Game 7 of the 2002 World Series]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Bush's New Reason for Invading Iraq:
Saddam wouldn't let weapons inspectors in! (Note: this is "premium content"; you need to at least view a short ad in order to see it. If it's any consolation, the ad (at least the one I saw) is for the ACLU, and is worth your time.)

Bush is either lying, or he's psychotic; I see no third option. And that's reason enough to remove him from office.

From the Baltimore Sun:
A gem from Steve Chapman:

Just three months ago, America was Master of the Universe, the unassailable superpower feared by all. Today, it resembles a substitute teacher on the last day before Christmas break -- harried, confused and facing more troublemakers than it can hope to control.

If this is true...
Iraq will be Bush's Vietnam. If not worse....

In a chilling interview with Newsday, a leader of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia describes the strategy that will challenge the new American empire.

The militia fighter, living on the run and known as Khaled, described the secret leadership structure and how the insurgents operate in five- and six-member cells. He says they are in it for the long run.

"We have many more people and we're a lot better organized than the Americans realize. We have been preparing for this kind of guerrilla war for a long time, and we are much more patient than the Americans. We have nowhere else to go."

Quote from Bill Gallagher's Niagra Falls Reporter column.

The intellectuals' war?
From Newsday: The Iraq war, or America betrayed

One day, this Iraq War will be thought of as the Intellectuals' War. That is, it was a war conceived of by people who possessed more books than common sense, let alone actual military experience.

Disregarding prudence, precedent and honesty, they went off - or, more precisely, sent others off - tilting at windmills in Iraq, chasing after illusions of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and false hope about Iraqi enthusiasm for Americanism, and hoping that reality would somehow catch up with their theory. The problem, of course, is that wars are more about bloodletting than book learning.

If this is "darn good"....
may the Lord protect us from "pretty lousy". This is from: The Smirking Chimp.

Let me see if I have this straight: It's been almost two years since Osama bin Laden, that a demonic apparition of a man, unleashed an attack of unprecedented scale and scope on people of the United States, and we are no closer to catching him than the day he did it. Nor do we know where his medieval state patron Mullah Omar made off to. In spite of these primary two enemies of the state still being on the lam, whereabouts unknown, we shifted gears and set our sights on a much more visible target; Saddam Hussein. After sending almost two hundred thousand heavily armed professional soldiers, we succeeded in destroying his regime, but once again the end result was that the bad guy slipped through our fingers. It now appears he and those two homicidal sons of his, are running a guerrilla style war against the United States from right under our noses. And on top of it all; we have no idea where any of the alleged vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons Hussein reportedly had ready to fire now are. If in fact, they ever even existed.

If this is President's Bush' idea of "darn good" intelligence, I would hate to see what his idea of "pretty lousy" intelligence is.

Rumsfeld speaks the truth (for a change)
Rumsfeld: "It may be a long, hot, and deadly summer" and we have no clue how long it's going to last....

Seems to me that the obvious solution is fairly simple. We admit that our invasion was a mistake, and we beg the UN to send peacekeeping forces in return for our complete withdrawal. But of course, the neocons and their puppet, Bush, aren't going to go for that. That means that we won't get our oil.

Which is, after all, the major reason we invaded in the first place.

Here's "compassionate conservatism" in action....
From The Progressive: Bush starting to turn the Head Start program over to the States. Of course, with just about all of the states being pretty much "bankrupt", we know that a lot of money will be spent keeping the newly decentralized Head Start program running, right? (Do I really need to flag the sarcasm?)

As Matthew Rosenberg points out:

Bush's meddling with the Head Start is a sin.

Study after study shows that kids in Head Start do better than other poor kids who don't have access to this great program.

Bush should leave well enough alone.

"I thought real life was a role playing game...." gave in and published a review of "Real Life"--the non-online MASSIVELY multi-player role playing game.

Thanks to Anthony Rickey of "Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil" for directing my attention to that one...

A sneak peek at Linux 2.6
The Wonderful World of Linux 2.6 Interesting look at the new iteration of the production kernel. I need to review this in depth, but a quick scope looks like some neat new functionality in the new kernel. Not that I'll be upgrading anytime soon (Mandrake 9.1 and KDE 3.1 are treating me just fine), but it'll probably be on one or more of my boxen in a year or two.

Thought for the Day:
Buying the right computer and getting it to work properly is no more complicated than building a nuclear reactor from wristwatch parts in a darkened room using only your teeth.
--Dave Barry

Monday, July 14, 2003

How the hell did I miss this?
In the "historically significant days" department: today is Bastille Day.....

Things may be a bit quiet for the next few days here...
Got lots to do at work, alas.

Thought for the Day:
Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe, and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he'll have to touch to be sure.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Thought for the Day:
"God is good," we were told over and over growing up, yet all we had to do was look around to see some not so good stuff. The single most prominent icon of my youth was the crucifix above the blackboard at the front of every classroom, and in those days, Cathoic crucifixes tended to be very realistic, down to every last nail, every last blood drop, the wide gash in Jesus' side. I mean, God let that happen to his son, and we were supposed to trust in his goodness?
--Dinty W. Moore

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Thought for the Day:
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.
--George Bernard Shaw

Friday, July 11, 2003

Scary.... simply scary....
This one from Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringley at PBS: Shooting ourselves in the foot

Read the whole thing. But an excerpt or two:

Whom do you trust? If you are a policeman, you trust the police. How much information is enough? When it comes to the electronic gathering of intelligence information, it appears that no amount of information is enough. These two concepts have collided in America with the result that creating the very capability of gathering electronic intelligence is putting all of us in greater danger. The supposed cure may be worse than the disease. Maybe -- and only maybe -- we know a little more about what the bad guys in our society are doing, but it is coming at what might be a horrible cost. And a big part of the problem is that if you are a policeman, you trust the police.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation administers the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was passed by Congress in 1994. CALEA was a response to advances in digital communications. It was a way for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to go beyond old-fashioned phone taps and listen in on mobile phone calls, pagers, the Internet and any other form of electronic messaging that might be used by enemies of the state. CALEA made the phone companies and pager companies and Internet companies responsible for building into their equipment the capability to tap all types of communications on the order of a judge or -- in the case of foreign surveillance -- of the U.S. Attorney General. Every telephone switch installed in the U.S. since 1995 is supposed to have this surveillance capability, paid for, by the way, with $500 million of your tax dollars. Not only can the authorities listen to your phone calls, they can follow those phone calls back upstream and listen to the phones from which calls were made. They can listen to what you say while you think you are on hold. This is scary stuff.

But not nearly as scary as the way CALEA's own internal security is handled. The typical CALEA installation on a Siemens ESWD or a Lucent 5E or a Nortel DMS 500 runs on a Sun workstation sitting in the machine room down at the phone company. The workstation is password protected, but it typically doesn't run Secure Solaris. It often does not lie behind a firewall. Heck, it usually doesn't even lie behind a door. It has a direct connection to the Internet because, believe it or not, that is how the wiretap data is collected and transmitted. And by just about any measure, that workstation doesn't meet federal standards for evidence integrity.

And it can be hacked.

And it has been.

Israeli companies, spies, and gangsters have hacked CALEA for fun and profit, as have the Russians and probably others, too. They have used our own system of electronic wiretaps to wiretap US, because you see that's the problem: CALEA works for anyone who knows how to run it. Not all smart programmers are Americans or wear white hats. We should know that by now. CALEA has probably given up as much information as it has gathered. Part of this is attributable to poor design and execution, part to pure laziness, part to the impossibility of keeping such a complex yet accessible system totally secure, and part because hey, they're cops, they're good guys. Give 'em a break. Have a donut.


Even if CALEA were secure, it would still be a danger because of its capability to do what are called "roving wiretaps." Old-fashioned wiretaps did just that, they tapped wires, but today's criminals and terrorists are mobile. They use throwaway cell phones and conference calls and 800 numbers to mask their communications so CALEA targets the criminal, not the phone line. This means that CALEA effectively taps every phone that is connected at any time to the roving subject. Phone conversations can be followed from line to line and each of those phone lines becomes, at least for a while, a target. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of numbers can get swept up and recorded whether it is a conversation with a lawyer, a priest, or a journalist.

That's what led me to this story. In the Lacie Peterson murder case in California, thousands of Scott Peterson's phone conversations were recorded using CALEA technology. Some of those conversations were between Peterson and his lawyer, some between Peterson and the press. None of them were with me. I have no idea whether Scott Peterson is guilty or innocent, and it doesn't matter at all to this column. What matters is that a few days ago 176 new phone conversations were "discovered."

How do you "discover" a recorded phone conversation in a totally automated system? If you can discover a conversation, then you can also lose one a la Rosemary Woods and the famous 17-minute gap in that Watergate tape. The whole system becomes suspect and subject to abuse.

And abuse does happen. In the late 1990s the Los Angeles Police Department conducted illegal wiretaps with CALEA technology involving thousands of phone lines and potentially hundreds of thousands of people at a time when the official annual report on wiretaps compiled by the Department of Justice said L.A. was conducting an average of around 100 wiretaps per year. Illegal convictions were obtained, property was illegally confiscated, civilian careers and lives were ruined, yet nobody was punished.


Your tax dollars at work.

Thought for the Day:
Galbraith's Law of Human Nature: Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Stop the presses!!! This just in!!!!!
Ok, ok. I know it's really not "just in" (my officemate just informed me that this is yesterday's news, actually), but I only received it just now.

Britney Spears admits: "I am not a virgin"

Surely you're wondering why all 4 networks, CNN and MSNBC aren't running that story every half hour. Or maybe they are; I don't bother to watch them.

All I can say is I won't take Britney seriously til she 'fesses up to having the boob job.

More from my friends in high places
I've written earlier here of my extensive (though entirely one way) correspondence with Dr. Mrs. Maryam Abacha, widow of the late former strongman of Nigeria, General Sanni Abacha. I was pleased this morning to receive an email from Maryam's son, Mohammed Abacha. Apparently Maryam must be telling her son great things about me, since he wants to cut me in on a deal to transfer even more money ($35 million US) than his mom has.

The one thing though: I really wish that I'd been living in Nigeria all these years. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Maryam has managed to up her working capital from about $5 million or so (in her first email) to about $25 million or so. Mohammed, on the other hand, has about $10 million more to move than his mom, and he's been in prison the past four years!!!

Raging capitalism; ya gotta love it.

Red Letter Days Department
From today's "Doctor Science" mailing: "Today is Don't Step on a Bee Day in Pennsylvania"

The publish problem under Mozilla was a temporary thing. I can publish my blog again from Mozilla. Hooray!

Thought for the Day:
From my close observation of writers...they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
--Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Weirder and weirder....
The Blogger problem seems to be a problem only under Mozilla (or at least, Mozilla 1.4b which I'm running right now). I can publish my posts under Internet Exploiter....

I'm hoping that this isn't a sign that the folks at Google and Blogger have become minions of the Great Satan of Redmond. I really would rather use Blogger under Mozilla (especially for posts on my Linux boxen at home), and if the publish function isn't going to work under Mozilla or Konqueror I'm going to be mightily pissed off.

More news flashes as they become available. :-)

If this passes...
I may be glad I moved out of Missouri....Anti-affirmative action drive may target Missouri

On the other hand, if it passes in Missouri it'd probably pass in Arkansas or Tennessee anyway, so what's the point, eh?

Interesting Lindows review:
At Linux Universe. Gives a pretty good appraisal of Lindows. However I found this interesting:

One of the icons on the KDE panel that I wasn't used to seeing was that of a life preserver. Clicking on it brought up a Lindows customized help menu with a list of various multimedia tutorials.

I wonder what distros the reviewer has used (I think in the review he mentions using SuSE); in Mandrake's execution of every version of KDE that I've seen (KDE 2.0 (I think), KDE 3, and KDE 3.1) they've had the life preserver icon in the quick launch area on the taskbar; clicking on that brings up the KDE help functions.

Hmmmm.... Blogger's gagging....
on the FTP process somehow. I can save posts but can't publish. Oh well, hope it clears out soon...

Thought for the Day
If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.
--George Carlin

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

From Bob Somerby....
in today's incomparable Daily Howler:

What ever became of the Washington press corps? Presumably, they've been victims of a mass kidnapping, replaced by look-alike cyborgs. Why do we say that? Because just a couple of years ago, the Washington press corps despised "exaggeration." Now, they run from the story of the Bush Admin's possible spinning of intelligence pre-Iraq.

Thank God at least one state AG still has balls....
Tony Steidler-Dennison reports that ZDNet is reporting that the Massachusetts Attorney General, one of the few AGs still trying to smack down the Beast of Redmond for its abuse of its monopoly, is looking into charges that Microsoft's attempts to squash Linux has been a violation of its consent decree. Ordinarily, I'd link to the ZDNet article itself, but Tony notes that the reportage there might not be the most unbiased you can find:

The article is also interesting because it shows what lazy Microsoft shills the folks at ZDNet really are. Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler is given two full paragraphs of a seven paragraph article to refute the potential charges and state Microsoft's position. The Attorney General of Massachussetts isn't quoted directly. Instead, reporter Declan McCullagh rips two sentence fragments from the court documents to represent the Massachussetts position. The other four-plus paragraphs provide well-trodden background with soft-sell links to related ZDNet stories.

What - the Massachussetts Attorney General wasn't available? No prominent open source folks answering their phones? Lazy, irresponsible reporting, plain and simple.

Well, those of us who read (or used to read) AnchorDesk and the blitherings of David "noted Microsoft shill" Coursey are aware that ZDNet knows who's buttering their bread....

We should all have such problems.
According to a report by Datamonitor, Microsoft is having cash flow problems. Unusual cash flow problems to be sure; Microsoft is trying to figure out what to do with all the cash it's sitting on. Right now, the betting is that they'll give a bunch of it away to shareholders. in a $10 billion dividend that may be the biggest corporate payout on record.

Sometimes, you've just got to think....
that a "news analyst" is something like a meteorologist who tells you that it rained last month. And maybe just about as useful.

According to, Sybase is no longer just a database company.

Duh! Can you say, "Keen grasp of the obvious"? I knew you could.

I hate to break the news to this guy (the story is credited to "Phil Howard, Bloor Research"), but Sybase was telling the students taking their vendor certified courses that very thing at least three years ago (as well I should know; I was teaching those very courses for Quilogy at the time). And that was very obvious since Sybase bought PowerSoft (which is a transaction which predates my own entry into the IT field over 5 years ago). And it's been getting more and more obvious ever since.

Phil must be a sociologist by training. You know sociologists. Those are the overeducated folks who spend about 6 months and at least a quarter million in grant money conducting surveys and publishing the results of their labors, which boil down to: "Almost all human beings enjoy sex in one form or another."

More on last weekend's "Defacer's Challenge"
Here's La Reg's take on it.

Annoyances about living in semi-rural Arkansas:
Something about pickup truck ads that you should have no problem getting right away: they are meant to convey their message that the trucks they're hawking are tough and rugged. "Chevy: Like a Rock." "Built Ford Tough." The poor sap who's stopping for a flagman in his GMC pickup, and gets the half ton of dirt dumped in the bed of his truck. You get the picture, right? SUV ads don't quite convey the same message, but you have to figure that any truck that's built for offroad action is at least as tough and rugged as a pickup.


About a mile or so from my home, on my way to and from work, I have to cross the main line of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway at a grade crossing. Not a really daunting task; I've discovered through trial and error that it's easiest to cross at about 35-40 mph. Faster, and your undercarriage gets jolted pretty bad; slower and you (the driver and passengers) get thrown around by the wheels going over the tracks as you cross.

Going over the tracks in my 1999 VW Jetta, I have no problem doing the crossing at 40 mph or so. Why is it that the redneck yahoos who drive these tough and rugged pickup trucks feel they have to come to a complete friggin' stop at the grade crossing, and then gingerly and oh-so-carefully drive each tire ever-so-slowly over the tracks, until (5 minutes later) they've finally crossed the tracks? Are they afraid that their tough and rugged pickups are going to fscking fall apart if they drive them over the tracks any faster?

If they want to practice this perversion in the privacy of a country road with nobody around for miles and miles, that'd be one thing. But why oh why do thest jerks always seem to be driving ahead of me on my way to work?


Thought for the Day:
Here's the other part of Hailstorm-type services that I don't get. I have cable, and when I don't pay my bill, they deny me TV shows. What if I don't pay my Microsoft bill? They have everything of mine: my contacts, calendar, documents, cellphone caller IDs, relationships... they have my business and my personal life. What if we have a dispute? How can I afford to argue with them?

It's not even like when you don't pay your rent and they put your furniture on the sidewalk. They *keep* your furniture. If it's my data, I want it in my house on something I own.

(Don't get the wrong idea; except for cable, I pay my bills. I know about the furniture thing from the movies.)
--Frank Willison

Monday, July 07, 2003

I hate to see St. Louis go down the tubes, but....
it's not like this wasn't to be expected when American bought TWA: Lambert passenger count perilously low

Of course, St. Louis was one of TWA's major hubs, but wasn't jack to American. American already has two major hubs (Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago) which very obviously aren't going to be downgraded, which leaves St. Louis to get the shaft.....

I don't envy Mayor Francis Slay, who I knew back when I was a kid (the Slay family were basically major players in St. Louis politics, and therefore major VIPs at Epiphany Parish).... It ain't easy to preside over the decline of an institution (Lambert, not St. Louis... though I do fear the decline of St. Louis might be next...)

That's funny....
According to Dr. Science's daily email, "Today is Blissfest in Missouri". Weird; I lived in Missouri what? Roughly 40 of my soon-to-be 46 years, and I never heard of "Blissfest" before....

Winblows-to-Linux Migration support:
One of the main excuses given for not migrating from Winblows to Linux is lack of application support (or rather, inability to determine what Linux based application(s) gives you the same functionality as your particular favored Winblows application(s). This page helps a bit, by providing a table of "equivalent" Linux apps for given Winblows apps.

Thought for the Day:
Thus if history had taught any one thing up to that time, it was never to use elephants in war. Don't ask me why Hamilcar did not see this. The Carthaginian elephants were trained to rush forward and trample the Romans, but only too frequently they would rush backward and trample the Carthaginians. If this happened to you, wouldn't you notice it? And wouldn't you do something about it?
--Will Cuppy

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Thought for the Day:
Hostility towards Microsoft is not difficult to find on the Net, and it blends two strains: resentful people who feel Microsoft is too powerful, and disdainful people who think it's tacky. This is all strongly reminiscent of the heyday of Communism and Socialism, when the bourgeoisie were hated from both ends: by the proles, because they had all the money, and by the intelligentsia, because of their tendency to spend it on lawn ornaments. Microsoft is the very embodiment of modern high-tech prosperity--it is, in a word, bourgeois--and so it attracts all of the same gripes.
--Neal Stephenson

Saturday, July 05, 2003

You gotta wonder what bozos we have in positions of power
Received the email update from Vmyths, and they mentioned an interesting phenomenon. Apparently there was a buzz about some "Defacers Challenge" to be "held" tomorrow (July 6, 2003). Let's take the story from the source:

A single source in the hacker underground announced "The Defacement Challenge" to be held on July 6, 2003. Unfortunately, one security services provider and today, the Department of Homeland Security have seized upon this marginal, fringe effort and given it far more publicity than it deservers. Attackers who deface websites have their own motivation for committing computer crime. Security professionals promoting a contest among these criminals only provides additional impetus for their actions and is counterproductive to a goal of reducing risks on the Internet.

TruSecure's IS/Recon has been monitoring the hacker underground for nearly ten years. This contest was invisible in the underground. No one cared. "Chatter" in the underground for the contest picked up only in the last 36 hours, after "responsible" security officials began promoting this contest. Those who are responsible for promoting security have instead contributed to increased risk for some web sites by drawing media attention to what would otherwise have been an insignificant, fringe effort, probably by one person.

Notice: It was The Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for hyping this all out of proportion. But then, what do you expect from the bastard creation of a cowardly, AWOL bastard who tells Iraqi guerillas to come and attack us?

Thought for the Day:
A reported fact states that murders of immediate family members account for nearly 25% of all murders committed. Think about that the next time you yell at your sister for taking too long in the bathroom.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Today is truly a red letter day....
The previous post, and this one have been published from my newest Linux box, namely my new laptop. The laptop came with Microshit Ecchs Pee home edition, and that made me shudder. Lived with it for a little while, but took the time, wiped the hard drive, and installed Mandrake 9.1 on the laptop. Sweet. Much, much sweeter than Echhs Pee.

Take that, Bill!!!


Thought for the Day:
They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety... deserve neither safety nor liberty.
--Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 03, 2003

More from the Orrin Hatch front:
From Hey, let's destroy some computers

From the article:

Ernie the attorney comments:

"So he is concerned on the one hand with people using "spyware" to take control over people's computers and with credit card theft. But, on the other hand (according to the Washington Post article) he thinks that people who violate copyright laws should have their computers broken to teach them a lesson.

"You know if I didn't know better I would think that our average member of Congress thinks that they can speak out of both sides of their mouth and no one will ever notice. "

MS-BS calls it "improbable headline of the moment":
Microsoft defends their security track record.

The New McCarthyism, alive and well
Thing is, I'd think that anyone who'd lived through the McCarthy era would be the last person who'd want to re-live it....

Enforced Conformity, by Matthew Rothschild

More music to my ears...
Consortium formed to base consumer electronics on Linux. From the article:

Sony, Royal Philips Electronics and Matsushita Electric Industrial, which makes the Panasonic brand, are among the founding members of the CE Linux Forum (CELF), which was announced Tuesday. Its goals include defining the technical requirements that will make Linux more suitable for use in consumer electronics products, and promoting wider use of the operating system in the consumer electronics industry, according to a joint statement..... The move appears as something of a blow to Microsoft, which has been promoting the use of its own software in DVD players, televisions and other electronics gear.

This may appear a blow to Microsoft and Gates, but it can't be unexpected. Note that first name there: Sony. It's not a secret in the tech world that Nobuyki Idei, Sony's CEO, detests Gates and Microsoft, and would do anything to knock them down to size.

He wrote a book about the road ahead, but it really is the road back.
--Nobuyki Idei [Sony CEO, on Bill Gates]

Hmmmmm.... should I be making a movie run?
The Tomatometer wasn't giving it a strong showing last I looked, but it appears that the recent Sinbad animated feature is animated on Linux hardware.... So maybe I ought to get out and support it.

Browser innovation is dead....
so sez Marc Andreessen. Andreessen, you may remember, is the UI-Urbana-Champaign student who helped develop Mosaic while at UIUC, then commercialized it as Netscape shortly thereafter, becoming one of the first dot com millionaires in the process.

Ya gotta love capitalism
U.S. anti-spam legislation would only make matters worse.

Fascinating site What's interesting is the statistical comparisons between nations. Puts some interesting perspectives on geographical information.

Hmmmmm... let me take a minute....
and try to wrap my brain around this: Thorina?

Wonder what Jack Kirby would have to say about this one....

Thought for the Day:
I didn't get a toy train like the other kids. I got a toy subway instead. You couldn't see anything, but every now and then you'd hear this rumbling noise go by.
--Steven Wright

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Here's hoping the FTC acts.....
Second security bug found in Microsoft's Passport since Microsoft entered into its consent decree with the FTC.

Making learning fun.....
for Linux sysadmins as well. Hey, y'know that's why Microsoft bundled Minesweeper and Solitaire with the earliest versions of Windows.

Interesting review...
at of the $199 Linux PCs. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure after reading this review that they're quite ready for prime time....

Thought for the day:
The various versions of Office have accumulated a truly mind-boggling record of security holes and built-in susceptibility to viruses and exploits. Let me repeat that: BUILT-IN susceptibility to viruses and exploits. There are people at Microsoft who worked hard to make Office as vulnerable as it is.
--Bob Crispin

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Bush probably lied about his death-penalty reviews....
Big surprise, right? What I'm learning about the man, I wouldn't believe him if he told me the sun was shining. He lies worse than a cop--worse than Nixon, I'm beginning to think. And who'da thought that was possible.

Anyway, if you need to vomit and don't have any ipecac handy, read The Texas Clemency Memos; if Bush's callous disregard for human life and his hypocrisy in calling himself "Christian" doesn't make you vomit, I don't know what will.

Also worth reading: John W. Dean's column on this topic at

Scalia, Thomas marginalized?
Talk about music to my ears! Death Penalty Die-Hards

Though I best liked Bob Somerby's put-down of Scalia from yesterday's Daily Howler:

By the way, does anyone tire of hearing the fiction that this strange man is a sage?

I'm proud to say that I've despised Antonin Scalia ever since he wrote a "My Turn" column for Newsweek back when he was on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In that column, he urged that Congress take away the Federal diversity jurisdiction. His reason for that: "I'm a high-and-mighty Federal judge! I shouldn't have to worry about trivial little matters of state law! My intellect is too refined to have to sully it with such lesser concerns."

Pathetic sniveling whiner. The only reason I don't want anyone to shoot the bastard is that it's not nearly as painful a death as he deserves. Alas, the logistics of setting up a large enough kettle of boiling oil and getting Scalia into it insures that it won't happen.

There is no justice.

The Linux for the rest of us?
JAMD: Your Neighbor's Distribution

I'm going to have to give this one a try; it just might be what I need to wipe Windows Echhs Pee off the laptop for good!

Frist takes a strong stand on gay rights.
Unfortunately, it's the wrong stand. In an ideal world, he'd piss off enough Tennesseeans that he'd be out of a job soon. Alas, I'm not holding my breath.

Senator Bill Frist Takes a Stand on Gay Rights

Someone talk to Ralph's psychiatrist....
and tell him that he needs to up Ralph's meds.

Nader considers White House run

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
--Douglas Adams

Why is this surprising? Human beings are remarkable for their disinclination to leard from their own experience; why should they worry about the experience of others?

Exhibit A: Ralph Nader

We can take pride as Americans....
that if George W. Bush wins (or again steals) the Presidency in 2004, we're going to have the best government money can buy. And believe me, it's going to be bought, paid for, and delivered. The bad news, from today's Daily Kos:

Bush fundraising "effortless"

Hmmmmmm..... Remember when citing Orwell or Huxley was just a cliche?
Technology Transmits Sensation of Touch Over Internet

Of course the article only mentions scientific, educational and medical uses for this "touch transmission" technology, but of course anyone who's read Brave New World knows where this is really headed.

Anyone want to go to the "feelies"?

Interesting New York Times headline:
A Safer System for Home PC's Feels Like Jail to Some Critics

The trouble being, of course, that you can trust Microsoft to be Microsoft. Since their "Trusted Computing" infrastructure can be used to lock out their competitors and to lock in their monopoly on the desktop, you can be absolutely certain that Microsoft will use their "Trusted Computing" infrastructure to protect their monopoly.

Thought for the Day:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, which is just long enough to be president of the United States.
--Spike Milligan

Damn! Spike was a prophet!