Monday, April 30, 2007

Why we love the interenet

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. - J.R.R. Tolkien


With all the grim news out there it's easy to forget just how cool the internets tubes really are.

I was reminded of the fact by an article and discussion at WashingtonPost.com about the possibility of genetic linkages between modern humans and homo neanderthalis.

Without going into the specifics of the science involved what strikes me most is just how much information is available to someone interested in virtually any subject no matter how arcane.

On any subject imaginable a simple Google query leads to thousands of articles containing links to thousands of other articles on virtually any subject.

And once you take that path it can lead to, virtually, anywhere.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Terror attacks up 29%

More statistical confirmation of stuff you already knew: It seems that not only is BushCorp™'s approach to the Global War on Terror, or what ever they call it these days, not only is not helping combat the incidence of terror attacks, it's actually making them worse, a lot worse. From McClatchy:


A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

[snip]

Based on data compiled by the U.S. intelligence community's National Counterterrorism Center, the report says there were 14,338 terrorist attacks last year, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005.

Forty-five percent of the attacks were in Iraq.


Bushies, of course, rather than seeing such carnage as confirmation of their abject failure, contend such numbers prove their contention that Iraq is, indeed, the central front of the war on terror.

Well, sure it is, now.

And for their brain dead base, perhaps that's enough.

Those of us possessing long term memories and the capacity for rational thought note that it's the US invasion that has made it so in Iraq.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bush official quits over callgirl probe

Heh, heh, heh. You said "probe".

Sorry, just channeling Beavis there for a sec'.

Anyway, in what continues as a pattern of weekly, if not daily Bush administration scandals, Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias has resigned after being interviewed in connection with an ongoing investigation into the activities of a prominent DC prostitution ring, er, escort service.


Tobias resigned after ABC News contacted him with questions about the escort service, the sources said. ABC News released a statement last night saying Tobias acknowledged Thursday that he had used the service to provide massages, not sex.


All together now: yeah, right.

According to ABC News, Tobias said he contacted the escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage" and that there had been "no sex" involved.
But did the "massage" have a happy ending? Inquiring minds want to know.

I can hardly wait for Dana Perino's spin on this one: "Hey, at least they were female escorts".

Which I suppose would pass for good news to Republicans these days.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Democratic debate: South Carolina

I've been busy, busy, busy, with the day job, and that's a good thing. However it does mean I tend to watch major events at 11:00 PM on dvr than live. So it was with the first Democratic presidential debate from South Carolina.

(New York Times debate transcript)

I've purposely avoided much commentary on the debate as to leave my first impressions as unspun as possible, and I'll be interested to see how others viewed the affair.

So, off the cuff, and in no discernible order, my thoughts...

First, and foremost, damn these folks are good, and so vastly superior to chimpy that I am tempted to wish for Adam Sandler's fast-forward remote. January 2009 can't come to soon.

Hillary wasn't smarmy. In fact when discussing specific policy issues she came off as nothing less than extremely competent.

Best response: wearing Republican antipathy as a badge of honor. I don't know how that would play with independents, but given the level of contempt with which Democrats view the current corporate-Christianist iteration of the GOP, that thought should play well with the base. It played well with me. She's still not my first choice, but she certainly didn't hurt herself.

Obama struck me as a bit flat, but I have to wonder, given the accounts of his soaring oratory, whether my expectations were a bit high. From reading press accounts one expects to hear Martin Luther King channeling Abraham Lincoln whenever he opens his mouth.

On the other hand he also didn't strike me as light on specifics (his main criticism to date). I wonder if his tendency to re-frame specific issues within their wider context (a good thing to my mind) tends to muddy his reactions among some viewers and the press.

Edwards won points in my book for not taking an obvious cheap swipe at Hillary, though he was mightily tempted by host Brian Williams. One hopes he would would be a little more willing to do so when debating Republicans.

He also has made great use of his time since 2004 to study issues and develop specific ideas on where the US should be going and the steps needed to get us there. He clearly seems the most wholly formed of the candidates.

Richardson also seemed to have some quite specific views on how best to deal with the challenges America faces, and though a little workmanlike, I've always been fond of the step 1, step 2, step 3 format for laying out policy objectives. It's a little dull, but it's also very clear.

Perhaps he was a little limited by the rapid-fire nature of the debate format, but I think Richardson still needs to find a way to use these opportunities to highlight the strongest overall resume among the field. He did manage to refer to his executive experience, but I think he needs to elucidate why that's so important, especially now given all the recent revelations as to how our MBA president is currently mis-managing the government.

Biden clearly gave the best response of the night by responding to Williams' question about his legendary loquacity and penchant for gaffes and whether he could provide sufficient focus for the American people to trust him with the presidency, answered with a simple "yes".

In fact it occurred to me, as it did with Kerry 3 years ago, that Biden would greatly benefit if his staff could arrange for a 30 second clock whenever the senator opens his mouth. Certainly his responses tonight, short and to the point, and clearly demonstrating his years of experience, were all the more impressive for their unaccustomed brevity.

Chris Dodd also was very strong on policy, though I found myself in agreement with most of his policy stances, I have to wonder, to be blunt, whether the country is really interested in electing another old white male as president this time around. I know how superficial that sounds, but there you go.

In times past I might have supported him as an older, mentor-type veep for a younger, more charismatic, though more inexperienced president. I suspect the results of the Bush/Cheney model have, however, poisoned that idea for some time to come.

Mike Gravel seemed to be working on sewing up the crotchety old man vote, which is too bad because I agree with his further left of center stances more than I do the more moderate front-runners.

But this is politics and presentation matters and coming off as the kind of guy who yells a kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk only plays into the "angry left" meme so well developed by the GOPers.

Dennis Kucinich seems to be solidifying his place as the Ralph Nader of the Democratic party: the guy you know is right about the issues, but who you also know will never be elected in this country in a million years.

Not surprisingly, Mrs. CaliBlogger, who is rather further left than yours truly liked him the most from a policy perspective.

My final thought for the moment is that while it was great to get the opportunity to hear from folks I never get to hear from, Dodd, Gravel, and Kucinich, and Biden greatly benefits from that 30 second clock thing, none of them (except maybe Biden) gave me an excuse to support them over the top tier candidates. And while it is early still, I find myself looking forward to smaller forums where the candidates can more fully explore the challenges this country faces after years of Republican corruption.

Bottom line though, I am now more than ever confidant that whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be worthy of my full support.

And that's a good feeling to have.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An elevator pitch on Iraq

An elevator pitch is a type of sales tool designed to present whatever you are selling, yourself, a product, an idea, in a clear concise manner, as during a happenstance elevator encounter.

Andrew Sullivan, as channeled by Kevin Drum, has an excellent and brief presentation as to why we should get out Iraq:


[W]e are "occupying a sovereign Muslim country indefinitely, against the wishes of a clear majority of Iraqis, [and Americans]," a project with little chance of success and considerable chance of creating ever more problems as long as it continues.

[snip]

So we should leave. Soon. Let the Shia and tribal leaders and the Kurds confront al Qaeda. It's about time they did. And they have as good a reason as we do and far better knowledge of the enemy and the terrain. Until they own this war against Islamist terror, it won't be won. And by continuing to stay, we postpone the day when they have to fight for their own country and their own religion — and win the war we cannot win for them.

Memorize these two brief paragraphs and you will forever be ready for any circumstance where a GOP talking point spouting wingnut besmogs the air with BushCorp™ inanities in your presence.

Paging Mr. Ed

With Bush continuing to threatening to veto the supplemental funding bill passed today by the senate because it suggests a timeline for troop withdrawal if the Iraqi government fails to meet the benchmarks Bush set for them when announcing his escalation surge back in January, I am reminded of a joke, alleged to have been a favorite of King Henry the 8th. To wit,

A condemned man petitions the King by stating: "Your majesty - if you spare my life for a year I will teach your horse to talk."

The King, anxious to converse with his horse, granted the request. As the prisoner was being led out of court one of the jailers asked him if he was insane.

"Not at all," replied the man. "Within a year I might die, or the King might die -or the horse might talk."


As the situation in Baghdad continues to worsen, and the Iraqi government fails to meet the requisite benchmarks, Bush and his enablers continue to ask for continued patience. Just one more Friedman unit, two tops, and the terrorists will just give up and go home (those who aren't home already anyway).

It strikes me a glaringly obvious that what the Bushies are really doing is this:

They're waiting for the horse to talk.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Corruption as the source of BushCorp woes

Once upon a time I believed that the Bush administration's greatest failing was its incompetence. (See Brown, Michael)

Recent discoveries have, however made clear that BushCorp's incompetence is a symptom, not the cause of its mis-management of government.

The real problem is the public corruption that has placed political operatives and "loyal Bushies" in positions all throughout the federal bureaucracy to the detriment of every department so afflicted. (See Goodling, Monica)

As I've said before, this is the natural result of an ideology that views government as "the problem, not the solution". If you don't believe that government can be a positive force, then nothing stops you form using it to accomplish narrow parochial aims.

Democratic leader Rahm Emmanuel gives an extensive outline of the way BushCorp has pillaged government to accomplish Republican party goals. If you can stomach it, his speech today to the Brookings Institution should be read in full, if you can stomach it. (H/t to Josh Marshall for posting the text).

The important point to take away from all this is that this sort of corruption is not merely a sin of the Bush administration, but is inherent in the ideology that stands at the core of Republican politics.

The Bush administration is just its logical extreme.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fox "News" viewers stupid

Well, to be fair, it's Fox "news" that makes them that way, you knew that of course, but now there's statistical evidence.

A new study based on a series of seven US polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war in Iraq.

[snip]

The frequency of Americans’ misperceptions varies significantly depending on their source of news. The percentage of respondents who had one or more of the three misperceptions listed above is shown below.

Variations in misperceptions according to news source cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the rate of misperceptions within demographic subgroups of each audience.

[snip]

While it would seem that misperceptions are derived from a failure to pay attention to the news, in fact, overall, those who pay greater attention to the news are no less likely to have misperceptions. Among those who primarily watch Fox, those who pay more attention are more likely to have misperceptions. Only those who mostly get their news from print media have fewer misperceptions as they pay more attention. [Emphasis mine-CK]


Fox "News", the more you watch, the stupider you get.

A sign of things to come

As the US continues to focus its efforts on military conquest and corporate protectionism, expect to see more headlines like these:

Toyota Tops Auto Industry as Sales Surpass GM

General Motors Corp., for 70 years the lead player in the global automotive industry, fell to second place during the first three months of this year when its sales slipped behind those of Japanese industrial giant Toyota Motor Corp.

Driven by sales of its popular Camry and fuel-efficient Prius hybrid, Toyota on Tuesday reported global sales of 2.35 million vehicles in the first quarter of 2007, about 90,000 more vehicles than the quarterly sales reported by GM late last week.


It might seem ridiculous to say so, but it strikes me as quite obvious that, unless something changes drastically, the US is beginning its slide into that junkheap of history where so many past empires now find themselves.

One thing frequently lost in all the myriad discussions about BushCorp cronyism and corruption is the acknowledgment that these practices are also common in US business, and have much the same result: incompetence.

In fact, out of all the lies Bush has told us, one thing has come true, his promise to run government the same way the US runs its business. For every Michael Brown or Alberto Gonzales in the US government, thousands of their soulmates in incompetence infest US business.

Too long have American businesses been shielded from their own mis-management by US economic power and the feeding-frenzied US consumer.

But as other nations develop the economic capacity to demand the goods and services that, since World War II have been too expensive for any but the citizens a a few industrialized nations to afford, American business is facing competition that jingoistic calls to "Buy American" can hardly ameliorate.

And while all the armchair capitalists out there spout the merits of unhindered capitalism and rugged individualism (while their lobbyists simultaneously beg for handouts in DC) and block every effort by workers to achieve a bit of security in the name of free enterprise, one might take a step back and wonder how Toyota has achieved such success. One paragraph struck me as particularly revealing:

With a philosophy that revolutionized modern assembly line management, and prided itself on a patrician, lifetime employment policy for workers, Toyota has been gaining on General Motors for decades. Alongside modest standards such as the Camry, it has added cache at the high end with its luxury Lexus brand. It also anticipated the market with the introduction of the Prius hybrid at a time when rising gas prices and environmental concerns began turning consumers away from the trucks and sport utility vehicles that had become a staple of GM's business.


Strange, a secure work environment for workers is an essential element of the success of the world's new number one automaker. That and the wisdom to adapt its offerings to an evolving world rather than stick with models being quickly outmoded by a changing energy environment.

So, will US automakers and policy makers adjust to the changing circumstances?

Don't count on it.

At the same time, Congress is debating new vehicle-efficiency standards that could put U.S. automakers at a further disadvantage. The U.S. auto industry has stifled such changes for more than two decades, but increased concern about global warming and the environment has led even industry-friendly lawmakers to agree that fuel-efficiency improvements are needed. [Emphasis mine-CK]


Amazing. The one thing that might make US automakers more competitive by responding to consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles is viewed as a negative.

Jeez.

Well, all I have to say is heckuva job GM.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Instant gratification and the internet

(First, my apologies, but this post has nothing to do with porn. Sorry.)

This morning as I was going through my usual routine of reading the news on-line, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes, Mrs. CaliBlogger was flipping through the cable-guide, looking for a Sunday afternoon movie to watch.

One movie she mentioned was Dark Horizons, which stars Vin Diesel.

Not being a particular fan she asked me if I was familiar with the film, which I'm not.

However I did vaguely recall that I'd read once that the movie was a sequel to another Vin Diesel movie I also hadn't seen at the time Dark Horizons was being advertised. A movie whose name I couldn't recall.

Now there was a time, not so long ago, when that would have ended the conversation. She would have gone back to channel flipping and I'd have gone back to whatever I was doing, and perhaps I'd think of the movie later, perhaps not.

But as you've no doubt guessed, this being the Internet age and all, that sort of situation has an entirely different ending.

A quick search of "Dark Horizon" yields the IMDB page where reading the reviews reveals the name of the movie in question. (Google it yourself if you're really interested).

What occurred to me is just how frequently this sort of thing happens to me, and just what a boon it is.

You see, once was, when a thought, "just on the tip of your tongue" as the saying goes, could be quite troublesome for me.

One case in point. Back in the (pre-Internet) dark ages I was talking with a friend about the Eagles, (and yes, this was in the eighties, so I might well have been a little stoned at the time) and I could not for the life of me recall the name of the guy who first joined the group for the Hotel California album.

The net result was that at 11 o'clock at night I found myself driving to Tower Records (RIP) which I knew stayed open 'til midnight, where I spent a half hour thumbing through the alphabetized record bins until I realized that just finding Hotel California would probably answer my question (did I mention that I was probably a little stoned?).

Anyway.

That is just the sort of episode I'll never experience again, and not just because I no longer smoke pot, but because of the Internet.

Frankly, nothing remains at the tip of my tongue for any longer than I take to Google it.

No song lyric remains indecipherable so long as I can remember the singer or the title, not even Blinded by the Light.

Now I wish I could say that having freed my neurons from pondering such trivia has improved my mental abilities, though frankly, I have no empirical evidence that this is the case.

But it certainly leaves my mind clearer for the important things in life.

Like blogging.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Major strategy change in Iraq ignored by major news outlets

I understand the focus on the Virginia Tech shootings, but still, shouldn't a major shift in policy regarding a place where such tragedies occur on a daily basis merit just a little coverage from the country's major news outlets?

Apparently not.

In an outstanding bit of reporting that has been virtually ignored by major news outlets, McClatchy Newspapers reporter Nancy A. Youssef has uncovered a major shift in US strategy in Iraq.

Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.


Remember BushCorp™'s oft repeated, and repeated, and repeated mantra that "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down"? Turns out, not so much.

The story should be read in full, but if you cut through the DoD bureaucratese, the message is this, training Iraqi Security Forces has succeeded only in supplying training to people whose first duty is to their tribes, not their Iraqi government paychecks. And claims to the contrary, the problem is not that the ISF has been "infiltrated" by insurgents. The problem is that in a civil war, the army reflects the divisions inherent in that civil war. No "infiltration" needed. That being the case, the only effective security forces are those supplied by the US.

With Shi'ite militias laying low because of Bush's much ballyhooed escalation surge, US security operations are being directed almost exclusively against Sunni targets.

In effect the Shi'ite dominated National government, Army, and militias are standing aside and letting US soldiers risk, and lose, their lives, fighting their civil war for them.

So here's US strategy:

One State Department official, who also asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, expressed the same sentiment in blunter terms. "Our strategy now is to basically hold on and wait for the Iraqis to do something," he said.


And since we're fighting this civil war for them, I expect the wait will be a very long one.

Privatizing education

Keep your eye on this developing story. Apparently Education Department officials responsible for implementing No Child Left Behind are involved in a complex web of conflicts of interest and cronyism. The Washington Post:


The disclosure came as a congressional hearing revealed how people implementing the $1 billion-a-year Reading First program made at least $1 million off textbooks and tests toward which the federal government steered states.


Read the story for details, but I believe the important thing to keep in mind is that the behavior displayed would be considered typical if the various contractual arrangements had been carried out in a business to business setting where doing business with one's friends is quite understandably common enough.

In private enterprise, the sort of cronyism seen here is sort of self-regulating, subject as it is to the forces of competition and shareholder demands. If your friends turn out to be incompetent the business pays the price and managers get fired.

But in government administered programs, especially in a government that, until Democrats took over congress, ignored its oversight responsibilities, such cronyism isn't subject to any market controls whatsoever.

I make this point to for those who have fallen for the Republican line that government would be better if it were run like business.

No it would not.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On the other hand

One of the curses (blessings?) of being a member of the reality-based community is that, rather than relying exclusively on a selection of truisms (of varying degrees of veracity) to filter my world view, I instead assimilate new information and, on occasion, find that I have been incorrect on some subject.

Now, were I a typical wingnut, when something happened to challenge my pre-existing beliefs I'd a)claim the new events were a fiction of the liberal media, or b)claim it's Bill Clinton's fault.

Alas, my notoriously (hey, it's in the header) firm grasp of the obvious allows me no such leeway.

Such is the case with my last post on the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

My thesis was that the actions of a lone madman do not serve as the best example of the nation's need for far more stringent gun laws, a thesis I still hold to true, at least from a logical standpoint. However, though not explicitly stated, that post was written to give a clear implication (as was, I admit, my intent) that proponents, like myself, of restrictions on firearms were wrongheaded when they use this case to propel their arguments (Tr. for Bushies: Catapult the propaganda).

That implication was flat wrong.

And what, pray tell, caused my change of mind?

Two things.

First, and a tremendous oversight for one as clear sighted as myself, but I come by it honestly, American politics is not dominated by persons as clear sighted as myself.

That is, emotions, or as Stephen Colbert would say, gut feelings, have a far greater impact on political decision making than many of us, especially on the lefty blogosphere, would care to admit.

But there you go.

That being the case, events such as this can serve as rallying cries, logical or not, for the greater cause. The right, of course, understands this viscerally. On the left, it has to be learned.

The second thing which causes me to favor a "Remember Virginia Tech!" rallying cry for gun control is the reaction of the right.

James Wolcott is, as usual, in fine fetter as he exposes the Cheetos crusted bravery of weenie right. And no, I'm not going to quote him, the fabulous Mr. W's musings should always be read in full.

I will, however, take special note of the execrable scribblings of NRO's John Derbyshire (check out Wolcott if you want a link, I refuse):

As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.


Would it be too unkind of me to express my hope that Mr. Derbyshire some time gets to test his theory?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Control and Virginia Tech

To be clear, I'm strongly in favor of stringent gun controls, up to and including an outright ban.

If second amendment fans want to carry firearms they should either join the national guard or limit themselves to the sort of muskets known to our founding fathers (see, I'm all about original intent).

None the less, the tragedy at Virginia Tech provides little reason for such a ban.

And to re-iterate, I believe such a ban would be beneficial, I just also believe that the actions of a deranged individual are not the strongest arguments in favor of such limitations.

As any number of news reports are now making abundantly clear, the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, was a very sick individual. And as seems equally obvious, the options for limiting the dangers such individuals pose are very few. The best, it seems to me, being early identification and better response to persons exhibiting signs of severe mental illness, including de-stigmatizing those who so suffer.

None-the-less, even the most progressive responses will be inadequate in some cases, and are we willing to lock up all this society's eccentrics on the off chance that one of them might go over the edge?

No, we must simply learn that one of the costs of living in a free society is a certain degree of insecurity.

And no society, even the most authoritarian, can entirely eliminate the threat posed by a madman.

True, guns are capable of inflicting massive damage with relatively little physical effort, one of the reasons I favor limiting their use to police and military. And true, if Cho's only available weapon had been a knife the amount of carnage would be considerably less.

But if his weapon of choice had been a drum of diesel fuel and some fertilizer, his car, something beyond my limited imagination?

In this case I have to agree with the pro-gun crowd. To paraphrase, and not to draw too fine a point about it, guns don't kill people, madmen do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Carbon Tax

It makes sense to me. But, as a proper skeptic, I have to believe there are downsides.

That being the case I ask, what are they?

Please read Steve Chapman's article first, then let me know, why shouldn't we do this?

[H/t to Andrew Sullivan]

[UPDATE: In comments Dan recommends checking out the Carbon Tax Center for additional information. I recommend it too -CK]

More on the "missing" White House email

Glenn Greenwald has an extensive rundown on the administration's long history of, shall we say, sloppy record-keeping (as opposed to an intentional effort to destroy evidence).

One great quote from attorney Anonymous Liberal:

As an attorney who deals with subpoenas and requests for electronic documents on a regular basis, I can tell you that if a private entity--particularly one subject to legally mandated record keeping requirements--were to inform government investigators seeking such documents that they had been "mishandled" and were now "lost," that entity would immediately find itself in a world of hurt and would be lucky if it survived the aftermath.

No amount of talking would be enough to convince the authorities that there was an innocent explanation for the missing documents. They would be absolutely convinced that the "mishandled" documents were intentionally destroyed in order to cover up wrongdoing.


Greenwald's account should be read in full, especially by those who might be tempted to give the White House the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq Parliament Bombing

You're no doubt already familiar with the story of the suicide bomber who penetrated into the cafeteria of Iraq's parliament.

But for a real feel for the events I strongly recommend Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Sudarsan Raghavan's harrowing first hand account, In an Instant, a Junkyard of Humanity. No excerpts here, sorry, you need to go read the story in full.

No, seriously, go read it, I'll wait.

.

.

.

.

OK.

Now I'd like to excerpt a quote from the transcript of Mr. Raghavan's live discussion (I strongly recommend you read that as well, but it's OK if you wait 'til after we're done here).

Arlington, Va.: Does this experience give you a better appreciation for what the citizens of Iraq have to put up with every day?

Sudarsan Raghavan: Hello Arlington,

Yes, it does. But only a sliver of their pain, their fears, and their loss. Take my experience and multiply it by a hundred times, and you'll know what Iraqis go through every day. They are truly among the world's most courageous and resilient people. I watched as dozens of Iraqis went back into the Parliament building after the bombing to save the wounded and bring out the dead.


Multiply it by a hundred times...every day.

Devastating, just devastating.

And as this illustration of the plight of the Iraqi people sinks in, it's only human to ask oneself, what can we do to help?

There is of course, as is plainly, painfully obvious, no easy answer.

Send in more troops?

I don't think so.

As we've just witnessed, no amount of security can be completely effective against this sort of attack, more soldiers can't help.

I suppose if we were willing commit sufficient troops to clear and hold every inch of Iraq, and disarm every Iraqi we might be able to root out every insurgent and terrorist. But how many US soldiers would that take, half a million? A full million? And how long do they stay in Iraq, forever?

Impossible without re-instating the draft, and therefore, impossible.

So what should we do? Juan Cole has a suggestion, announce we are leaving, then leave:

The key to preventing an intensified civil war is US withdrawal from the equation so as to force the parties to an accommodation. Therefore, the United States should announce its intention to withdraw its military forces from Iraq, which will bring Sunnis to the negotiating table and put pressure on Kurds and Shiites to seek a compromise with them. But a simple US departure would not be enough; the civil war must be negotiated to a settlement, on the model of the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Lebanon.

Talks require a negotiating partner. The first step in Iraq must therefore be holding provincial elections. In the first and only such elections, held in January 2005, the Sunni Arab parties declined to participate. Provincial governments in Sunni-majority provinces are thus uniformly unrepresentative, and sometimes in the hands of fundamentalist Shiites, as in Diyala. A newly elected provincial Sunni Arab political class could stand in for the guerrilla groups in talks, just as Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, did in Northern Ireland.


His article should, of course, be read in full to appreciate the nuances of his reasoning.

Others have their own ideas as well.

But regardless, the important point is that everyone, even to a degree, President Bush, recognizes that the eventual solution to Iraq will be political, not military.

The only question, then, is what course of action will best achieve that political solution?

"Missing" White House email

Co-incidence does not equal causation, or at least it doesn't have to.

Neither, however, does co-incidence eliminate causality.

Example: the fact that the White House has just discovered that it had "lost" thousands of emails which it is required to record may just happen to co-incide with congressional demands that it produce those emails.

My reaction is best summed up in those two unique positive words that miraculously combine to produce a negative.

Yeah, right.

But regardless the potential outcomes for the White House are not co-incidental.

As any IT person will tell you, emails that are merely "deleted" are far from irrecoverable, copies remain both on the sender's computer, the recipient's computer, and quite possibly on the computer used as the network server.

So, under normal circumstances all the emails should be recoverable.

But, as any IT person could also tell you, emails can be fully erased, IF you take special measures to eliminate them, measures beyond a simple monthly delete protocol.

So, either the White House email eventually will be recovered, or their senders AND recipients will have taken purposeful measures to fully erase them in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Neither outcome will paint a pretty picture.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Former BushCorp™ official Wolfowitz gives girlfriend enormous raise

You can take the boy out of BushCorp™, but you can't take BushCorp™ out of the boy.


World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz apologized today for his role in granting raises to a bank staffer with whom he was romantically involved, saying he should have stayed out of the matter.

Wolfowitz did not specify exactly what role he played. But his statement came on the same day the Web site of the Financial Times newspaper reported the existence of a memorandum that Wolfowitz wrote spelling out how the bank should handle the career of his romantic partner, Shaha Riza.

[snip]

Wolfowitz has been assailed in recent days by a barrage of questions about two large salary increases that were given to his girlfriend and colleague, Riza. Visibly agitated during a news conference today, he tacitly acknowledged playing a role in those increases.

Wolfowitz, President Bush's choice to head the World Bank, took over in 2005. Riza was transferred to the State Department shortly afterward, in accordance with conflict-of-interest rules. She is still paid by the bank and she has received raises that increased her pay to $193,590 from $132,660, according to the bank's employee association, which has said the raises violated bank rules that limit the size of pay increases.


Wolfowitz, former deputy to disgraced Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is best remembered for his role in "planning" the US' brilliant Iraq strategy, as well the spectacular lack of imagination which seems to characterize the admin's Iraq warhawks:

It is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army - hard to imagine.


Hard to imagine indeed.

Anyway.

As is apparent from today's news, Wolfowitz also demonstrates, in light of the emerging US Attorney scandal one of the other defining characteristics of BushCorp™, the use of bureaucratic power to reward one's friends, however inappropriately.

All of which provides more evidence for this exceedingly obvious observation about Bushies: If you believe government is the problem (except when it wages war) then why bother to even try for good government practices?

Bushies certainly don't.

God bless you Mr. Rosewater

Bad news, Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

Good news, Hunter Thompson now has someone worthy to raise a glass with.

I find myself unable to properly eulogize one of my favorite authors, but for the moment let me say:

RIP

Pooteeweet.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus is a rascist

I recall an incident from my childhood. My father grew up in Hawaii, and so as many transplants to the mainland do, he kept in close touch with other Hawaiian expats. As a result most of the celebrations I attended as a child (Hawaiians are GREAT for celebrations) were very large and very ethnically diverse, as are Hawaiians themselves.

At one of these celebrations, while running around with a bunch of the other kids (Hawaiians are also great for letting kids run around) my parents pulled me aside and asked me about a word I'd used towards another of the kids. They then told me that was a bad word and that I should never use it again.

The odd thing is that to this day I can't recall as an actual memory what the offensive word was. Though in retrospect I suspect, from my parent's tone and the context, that I had used the N word.

I bring this up because it strikes me that even in the most liberal and loving of communities, bad old ideas are passed on generationally and perhaps subconsciously. Unless that is, one's parents are quick to nip it in the bud (thank you mom and dad).

I bring this up because of the recent contretemps by Don Imus. And while the words in question were short of the N word, they were still patently offensive.

What interests me about this situation isn't this singular episode, but the fact that for Imus, and for those like him, such "slips of the tongue" are hardly isolated events.

And what interests me even more is that such people as well as their defenders seem to always use the same defense.

"X is really agood person, he didn't really mean anything by that shameless insulting racial slur." Or words to that effect.

Washington Post staff writer Lynne Duke takes a look at the psychology of such behavior.

Of his "hos" comment, Imus said pretty much the same thing yesterday on "Today." "It was comedy. It wasn't a malicious rant. I wasn't angry. I wasn't drunk. I wasn't stating some sort of philosophy. As I stated yesterday morning, I'm not a racist. And I've demonstrated that in my deeds and my works."

This is the classic appeal to the "authentic self," says Orlando Patterson, a Harvard University sociologist. In other words, trying to override bad behavior by pushing the notion that deep down you are a good person. It goes like this:

"You've just got to believe I'm a good person. You've got to believe me. I'm telling you and this is the truth."

"It's a kind of arrogance, if you ask me," says Patterson.

This lack of honesty, this denial, could be a reason this unfortunate phenomenon of bilious public language keeps happening again and again and again, Patterson said.

Most insidiously, the perpetrator (and his "honest" defenders) inevitably believes his own defense. It may be a kind of arrogance, but it's indeed, I believe, heartfelt.

My own analysis from the George "Macaca" Allen incident:

But I strongly suspect that Mr. Allen, his wife, friends, acquaintances would swear on their mother's graves that Mr. Allen doesn't have a rascist bone in his body. And they would (and I expect will) do so quite honestly, believing in the truth of their words.

But they would be wrong.

One of the main effects of the civil rights revolution has been to drive obvious rascism underground, especially among the educated, and very especially among politicians [and media personalities-CK]. And so, those pols muzzle themselves, falling back into a kind of code, a wink-wink, nudge-nudge that indicates to white audiences that a politician isn't referring to "our" kind of people. As Mr. Allen might put it "real (white) Americans". Chuckle, chuckle.

And the worst thing is, they do this unconsiously, not even admitting to themselves the rascist attitudes behind their words.

Try this syllogism on for size: Rascists are bad people. I am not a bad person. Therefore I am not a rascist.

The only way to stop such insidious behavior is to call it by its name.

So let us not mince words: George Allen is a rascist.

And so are millions of Americans.

And so is Don Imus.

Even if he won't admit it.

Even if we won't admit it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Emails are forever

I'll leave to others to decide whether Diamonds are Forever was the worst of Sean Connery's takes on the James Bond character, regardless it provides an entree to today's bit of wisdom, can even diamond outlast embarassing emails?

Case in point, in today's White House Watch, the invaluable Dan Froomkin provides an extensive analysis of what could be a potential goldmine (or minefield, depending on your perspective) of information about the doings of the Bush White House.

The slowly-unfolding disclosure that some White House aides use non-government e-mail servers to conduct official business may soon be reaching scandal proportions.

As John D. McKinnon writes in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "The widespread use of private email accounts by some top White House officials is sparking a congressional probe into the practice and whether it violates a post-Nixon law requiring that White House deliberations be documented.

"A top Democratic lawmaker says outside email accounts were used in an attempt to avoid scrutiny; the White House says their purpose was to avoid using government resources for political activities, although they were used to discuss the firing of U.S. attorneys."


A Tale of Two Laws

1)The Presidential Records Act was enacted in 1974 to prevent Richard Nixon from destroying White House Records in an attempt to cover his crooked ass, and requires presidents to preserve records of White House business.

2)The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, prohibits government officials from using government time and equipment for exclusively political ends.


The question is whether the Bush administration was using the prohibitions of the Hatch act as a way to avoid the document preservation requirements of the Presidential Records Act.

The White House is claiming that by using RNC provides hardware and email accounts they were merely trying to obey Hatch.

And, perhaps, in a more open and trustworthy administration we might be tempted at taking at their word.

BushCorp™, however, long ago lost the benefit of the doubt.

And in a White House where politics is policy the distinction seems irrelevent.

But regardless, this seems to be a case where the Bushies have been too clever for their own good.

Their only colorable claim for legitimately withholding information from Congress is that of their theory of executive privilege. But that privilege, even if it does apply here, certainly does not apply to White House correspondence using RNC email servers.

And since some Bush operatives, notably Karl Rove, are reported to have used the RNC systems for as much as 95% of their communications, it seems inevitable that some of those communications fall under the provisions of the Presidential Records Act and should be reviewable by congress.

If/when congress gets around to subpoenaing Rove et al.'s RNC emails the reading should be very interesting indeed.

Froomkin's analysis should be read in full.

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Gonzalesgate fallout

One of the most profound consequences of the scandal unfolding in the Attorney General's office is that it legitimately calls into question virtually any prosecution conducted in the last few years.

Especially when such a prosecution is summarily overturned.

hilzoy blogging at Obsidian Wings has the story.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

14,000 National Guardsmen to be fed to Iraq meat-grinder

Can we finally agree to stop calling Bush's escalation of the Iraq occupation a "surge"?

From Reuters:

The Pentagon has identified some 14,000 National Guard soldiers who may go to Iraq as part of planning for deployments stretching as far as 2010, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.


Also

On Monday, the Pentagon said it would send about 4,500 active duty troops to Iraq before they had spent even a year back at home. The Pentagon's goal for active-duty troops is two years at home for every one year deployed.


So, Bush is ripping 14,000 civilian soldiers away from their families and jobs for potential deployments through 2010 and is as well sending active duty troops back into war with less than half the time at home considered optimum by the military.

And, as this Washington Post article illustrates, these deployments have real consequences for real people and the towns they come from.

Yet Bush has the nerve to claim that Democrats are the ones endagering our soldiers' safety.

Incredible.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Scary story

(This post will likely make sense only to fans of the original written version of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, all others are excused.)

I was doing some fairly random surfing last night when I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry for The Fellowship of the Ring, specifically Peter Jackson's filmed version (the books have separate entries).

Now to be clear, though I've read and re-read The Lord of the Rings many, many times, I'm not a member of that group of Tolkien purists who turned up their collective noses at any filmed version of Tolkien's classic.

Indeed I was extremely pleased with PJ's version and count it a prized part of my DVD collection (extended version of course).

That being the case, imagine my horror when I read the Wiki account of the film that might have been.

Amongst their revisions, Sam, Merry and Pippin are caught eavesdropping and forced to go along with Frodo. Gandalf's account of his time at Orthanc was pulled out of flashback and Lothlórien was cut with Galadriel attending the Council of Elrond. Denethor, Boromir's father, also attends the Council, and other changes included having Arwen rescue Frodo, and the action sequence involving the Cave troll. Most significantly, there was an all new sequence. A Ringwraith kills Saruman and attacks Gandalf at Orthanc. Seeing this from the Seeing Seat, now at Emyn Muil rather than Amon Hen, Frodo puts on the Ring and draws him all the way to the Seat on his Fell beast. Frodo manages to save Sam and stabs the wraith in his heart.

Eeek!

And again, you have to be familiar with and a lover of the book to understand my shock at what might have been, but pardon me.

Eeeek!

OK, I'm better now.

As it happened the above mentioned bastardization never happened, and while I'll never be completely happy with all Jackson's choices (I hated and still hate when Frodo sends Sam away in Return of the King), still the final version serves as a cinematic achievement which does justice, in its own way, to Tolkien's remarkable storytelling.

And one final note, John Paul II may be on the fast track for canonization, and good for him. But if I had a say in it I'd nominate New Line Cinema executive Robert Shaye who, when presented with a two film deal, insisted that since the book was a trilogy, so should the movie.

The blessings of Eru upon you Bob.

Neo-con in a snit over return of British sailors

Sometimes the marine layer floats east from the Pacific making usually sunny SoCal look more like the great northwest. Such is the dull grey morning to which I woke up here in Pasadena.

On such days sometimes I have trouble getting my snark on sufficient to bless you with my words of wisdom.

But have no fear, your CaliBlogger's found his remedy. When struck with the bloggy blues, I need only read the latest bit of well-phrased idiocy from someone who is quickly becoming my favorite neo-con shill, Charles Krauthammer.

Today Chuckles is up in arms, like many a neo-con warmonger on this (for them) saddest of days, over the release of 15 British sailors detained by Iran for allegedly trespassing into Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

Apparently for Chuckles, the entire incident signals the fall (once again) of western civilization.

Iran has pulled off a tidy little success with its seizure and release of those 15 British sailors and marines: a pointed humiliation of Britain, with a bonus demonstration of Iran's intention to push back against coalition challenges to its assets in Iraq. All with total impunity. Further, it exposed the impotence of all those transnational institutions -- most prominently the European Union and the United Nations -- that pretend to maintain international order.


Of course what he's really upset about is that the Brits have let, what seems to him anyway, a clear casus belli slip through their fingers.

You can bet that if Charles was in charge and some Americans had been picked up in like fashion we wouldn't be engaging in all this pansy "quiet diplomacy". Nosiree, you can bet some sabres would be rattled, along with windowpanes in Tehran.

And sure, that might result in a shooting war, the deaths or continued captivity of the sailors themselves, as well as the deaths of American pilots and an untold number of Iranian civilians.

But hey, to the Krauthammers of the world, no price is too high to wipe that annoying smirk off Ahmadinejad's face.

As long as someone else is paying it that is.

A note on Walter (Mitt)y Romney

A mini-brouhaha is rippling through the blogosphere over Republican presidential Mitt Romney's attempts to gain street-cred with the gun-totin' crowd on the right.

When asked on Tuesday about his stance on guns, Mr. Romney, as he has more than once, portrayed himself as a sportsman, a “hunter pretty much all my life,” who strongly supported a right to bear arms.


But when truth-squaded Mr. Romney's claim seems a bit, well, overstated.

But on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Romney had in fact been hunting only twice: once during that summer when he was 15 and spending time at a relative’s ranch in Idaho, and again on the occasion last year, a quail shoot at a fenced-in game preserve in Georgia with major donors to the Republican Governors Association.


Quibbles aside about whether shooting caged birds after being trucked to their pre-determined location can be properly referred to as "hunting", the incident gives a small insight into Romney's character.

That he'll say anything to kiss up to potential right-wing supporters, regardless of how he really feels?

No, we knew that already from his flip-flops on abortion and rights for gays.

What we now know about Mitt Romney is that, while he doesn't truly enjoy killing small animals, he's willing to do so if it will help get him the Republican nomination.

Bill Richardson: still worth a look

It's no particular secret that, as much as I like Edwards and Obama (and keep a chair at my table open, in case Al Gore shows up) I believe New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson should not be discounted.

Aside from Mr. Gore, Mr. Richardson's credentials place him head and shoulders above the current field as far as relevent experience goes. And while Americans don't, nor do I believe they should, select their presidents on resume alone, still, when combined with respectable fund-raising, should give hints of a candidate's viability.

Kevin Drum would seem to agree:

[D]idn't Bill Richardson do awfully well? Sure, $6 million looks anemic compared to the three frontrunners, but in absolute terms that's pretty impressive, isn't it? If he keeps it up, he'll have a plenty big enough war chest to wage a serious campaign.

I don't have any big point to make here. It just seems like Richardson deserves a little more attention for raising that kind of money with virtually no name recognition.


$6 million is still an awfully large amount of money at this stage of the game. It was John Edwards who raised eyebrows in 2003 when he posted the then ridiculously large amount of $7.4 million in his opening bid in 2003.

Sure, it's not Hill's $26 million, or Obama's $25 million, but believe it or not $6 million will buy you lots of face time in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, the sites of the first three referendums.

It's now up to Governor Richardson as to whether he'll be able to make the most of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

US business aids Communist China's battles against worker's rights

Current mythology has it that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and despite questions about the factual basis for that claim, let us assume its essential truth. Certainly the global position of the US versus that of the Soviet Union, which is, after all, now relegated to the dustbin of history, could not be starker.

But what of the larger question of the struggle for hearts and minds between liberal, free-market democracies against authoritarian, centrally controlled economies?

What of the struggle between the US and China?

The current trade imbalance between the US and China, wherein we ship them boatloads of dollars in exchange for boatloads of cheap tubesocks and DVD players, is a source of several unpleasant, though hardly unforseen consequences. And the American people seem to be on the losing side.

I feel no need to run down the litany of woes this imbalance causes, but suffice it to say that to American workers, the greatest ill is the loss of jobs to Chinese imports made cheaper by the vastly lower wages paid to workers in China?

Would it surprise you then that US business takes advantage, not only of those lower wages, but is actively working to keep them low?

Harold Meyerson, writing for the Washington Post, notes a study (PDF) from Global Labor Strategies, "a U.S.-based nonprofit organization headed by longtime labor activists" that US businesses in China are doing exactly that, opposing some very modest liberalization of Chines labor law.

Mr. Meyerson:

The legislation wouldn't allow workers to form independent trade unions or grant them the right to strike -- this is, after all, a communist regime. It would, however, require employers to provide employees, either individually or collectively, with written contracts. It would allow employees to change jobs within their industries or get jobs in related industries in other regions; employers have hitherto been able to thwart this by invoking statutes on proprietary information. It would also require that companies bargain with worker representatives over health and safety conditions.

Written contracts? Allow workers to change jobs? To bargain over health and safety conditions?

Commies.

And true to their legacy as the planet's modern robber-barons:

[T]he American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the U.S.-China Business Council embarked on a major campaign to kill these tepid reforms. Last April, one month after the legislation was first floated, the chamber sent a 42-page document to the Chinese government on behalf of its 1,300 members -- including General Electric, Microsoft, Dell, Ford and dozens of other household brand names -- objecting to these minimal increases in worker power. In its public comments on the proposed law, GE declared that it strongly preferred "consultation" with workers to "securing worker representative approval" on a range of its labor practices.

Aside from the irony of a "communist" government serving at the beck and call of such capitalist governments, shouldn't US companies have any responsibility for propunding ploicies which harm the interests of millions of US citizens?

I'll leave you with Mr. Meyerson's conclusions:

  • First, about one-fourth of the global labor force is in China. Opposing steps toward the formation of unions there suppresses the wages of so many workers that its effect is felt worldwide.
  • Second, since authoritarian China remains an adversary of the United States and a backer of some genuinely dangerous authoritarian regimes, blocking even the most modest steps toward the development of a civil society and democratic rights there poses a threat to U.S. security interests.
  • Third, since the Bush administration champions the spread of democracy globally, why hasn't it taken America's leading corporations to task for retarding democracy's growth in China?
  • And fourth, since preserving our national security should require executives at companies such as GE to answer for their conduct, where's the House Un-American Activities Committee now that we really need it?
[Formatting mine-CK]

Even black humor is better than no humor at all

[H/t Marc Schulman at TMV]

Barbara Walters of Television’s 20/20 did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. From Ms. Walter’s vantage point, despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to walk even further back behind their husbands and are happy to maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, “Why do you now seem happy with the old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?”

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation, said, “Land Mines.”

MORAL OF THE STORY: BEHIND EVERY MAN IS A SMART WOMAN.

April 4 roundup

I've been having an extraordinarily busy time at the day job, (not to worry, busy=$), but it's put a severe crimp in my energy and time reserves.

However, several of today's events demand at least a few words before I toss myself in bed.

First off is the resolution of the Iran/Britain hostage situation. Though a blow to warbloggers across the US, the rest of us are glad to see that these lads (and one lass) will be going home safely, with no shots fired and no apparent harm to civilization as we know it. Point to note, Syria was an important element in the resolution of this affair, maybe we should talk to them sometime.

Speaking of which, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing just that. And while BushCorp insists on standing in a corner in a childish snit, it's important for the world to see that indeed some adults do still work in Washington and are able to carry on as adults, dealing with problems as they are.

And speaking of problems, Hillary Clinton's claim to "inevitability" is taking body blows of late, most importantly from Obama who not only has virtually matched her dollar for dollar in fundraising, but also enjoys twice as many donating supporters.

Not only that, but John Edwards, holds a statistically significant lead over Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. Also newsworthy, from the same report, the top three Democrats (Edwards, Clinton, Obama) fared better than the best Republican, Rudy Giuliani.

And just because it's emblematic of this presidency, video of Darth Cheney keeping a close eye on his puppet, apprentice to the darkside, president:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Presidential extortion

Read the whole article, but money quote here:

As far as I can tell, the only difference between what the President is trying to pull here and what goes on when the cops are staring down someone who has a gun to a hostage's head is the scale. The President is standing there, and his message comes down to this: "OK, Congress. Give me the money, no strings attached, or the troops get it." It's extortion by threat on a massive scale, and the military are the ones being threatened.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Your CaliBlogger's LTE published in the LA Times

Since I started blogging I don't write as many LTEs as I used to, saving my wit and wisdom for the extremely exclusive group that makes up my readership.

However, on occasion, I feel moved to share a bit with the wider world, out of pity for ignorance of course.

Anyway.

From the April 2, 2007 edition of the LA Times (second from the top):

Re "Endgame on Iraq," editorial, March 29

In your argument against the congressional timelines being set for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, you agree with Bush when he states: "It makes no sense for politicians in Washington, D.C., to be dictating arbitrary timelines for our military commanders in a war zone 6,000 miles away."

If you consider that statement valid because of the distance between the war zone and Washington, what account do you take of the distance between this administration and reality? One could well argue that distance is an expanse that exceeds mere miles.

Revisionist Democrats

Watching Joe Biden on Olbermann tonight. Is anyone besides me tired of the revisionist line people like Biden and Clinton use to justify their Iraq authorization votes?

That is: "Golly, when we authorized Bush to go to war against Iraq, we never really thought he'd use it to actually go to war with Iraq."

Puhleeze.

Anyone with the wit to read Doonesbury realized at the time that Bush was aching to go to war against Saddam.

To claim anything else at this point is to be as disingenuous, frankly, as a Republican.

"Dan Quayle in cowboy boots"

Yet another former Bushie returns to the reality-based world. Probably worth a read for the above quote alone.

Although you gotta love Gold's assessment of Cheney: "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Today in BushCorp™ hackery

Gosh, it's been practically hours since the last revelation about the corporate/Christianist hackery which passes for government at BushCorp™.

Well, time to get started again.

Today the Supreme Court slapped down the BushCorp™ version of the Environmental Protection Agency by ruling that it has a duty to regulate auto and other emissions that contribute to global warming.

Now, I know, I know, you're thinking, "but it's the EPA, what else would they do?"

Funny story, but if the Bush appointees currently running the agency had their way, the answer would be: nothing.

That's how it works with the Bushies.

Corporations don't like environmental regulations, it's like charging them for the rape of the earth, abhorrent idea! And the Bush variety of Christian, since they're about to be raptured up to heaven anyway, have no care for what shape we leave the earth in, it's only us sinners who'll be left behind after all.

So what do you do with an agency whose existence is antithetical to your 2 main constituencies? An agency you can't just shut down because of the political costs from the non-greedhead, non-insane portion of the voting public?

You appoint folks from the very industries the agency is meant to regulate and pay them to not do the stuff you don't want them to do, and that they and the industries to whom they'll return after their terms in office don't want them to do either.

And what about areas financed by the Federal government, but that don't have any regulatory power, how does a good Bushie eff those up?

Privatize, privatize, privatize.

Such is the case with our national museum, the Smithsonian.

Guided by corporate hack, the lately departed (from the job, not the earth) and unlamented Lawrence M. Small oversaw the "Disneyfication" of an institution which was once seen as the embodiment of the US' commitment to science and learning.

The questionable deals and values of the Business Ventures Unit that Small promoted have tainted and compromised the Smithsonian without generating any significant increases in income over the past seven years. An obsession with protecting congressional support and appropriations led to the censoring of exhibitions and the avoidance of "controversial" topics, while the desire to create a high-volume tourist destination meant that content was dumbed down and interpretive themes were oversimplified.


Go read the gory details, but the point is, to Bushies, science doesn't matter, objective reality doesn't matter. For them, if the truth is inconvenient, they ignore it, defund it, and airbrush it away.

Record fundraising

Blah, blah, blah Hillary, blah, Obama, blah, blah.

Sorry, but until they start publishing the identities of those to whom our prospective candidates have sold their souls, as well as the breakdowns on whether the dollars raised are for the general or the primary elections, and how much of those $s have already been spent, then I'll get interested.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

BREAKING: Iraq invasion hoax revealed

In a stunning revelation President Bush, along with the CEOs of the major media conglomerates, revealed today that the "War in Iraq" was entirely frabricated.

Grinning from ear to ear, the President announced to a stunned nation: "C'mon, I'm a uniter not a divider. Do you really think I'm stupid enough to invade a country whose only connection with al Qaeda was its enimity for Islamic fundamentalism?"

DoD officials announced that since capturing Osama bin Laden last Thursday they've had the truth under wraps, believing April 1st the most appropriate date to announce their massive sting operation.

While all the "news" was focused on the "disastrous" occupation of Iraq, massive US forces have been slowly, but thoroughly enveloping the Wajiristan region of Pakistan where bin Laden and his top lieutenants have been hiding out.

A blushing Dick Cheney admitted that implementing the ruse was his responsibility, "though no leader but George Bush could have pulled off the illusion of unrelenting fecklessness quite so convincingly."

According to Saddam Hussein, speaking from his Ft. Lauderdale condo, "Rummy and I have been planning this for years. When those photos of us shaking hands came out we were certain the jig was up. Fortunately Don was able to play up the 'insane and out of touch thing' he does so well."

In related news the administration announced that the half trillion dollars it had "spent" on the Iraq invasion would be used to establish a universal healthcare plan, and that the 3,200 American "dead" would soon be returning home from their vacations in Aruba.