Friday, December 30, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Holy Crap. Harpers.org gives you a rundown on the week:
It was Christmas. The Senate, with Dick Cheney casting the
deciding vote, cut $40 billion in funding for foster care,
child support, and student loans. U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice asked Congress for $50 million to support
African troops in Darfur, but her request was rejected.
Americans had spent $18.48 billion on gift cards this
holiday season. The House voted to extend the Patriot Act
by five weeks. President George W. Bush called nine
U.S. servicemen and servicewomen and wished them a Merry
Christmas, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited
Iraq. It was revealed that undercover police in New York
City had infiltrated anti-war protests, street vigils, and
pro-bicycling rallies. At one march, police provoked
protesters--some of whom they later arrested--by staging a
fake arrest. The FBI was spying on Greenpeace, Catholic
Worker, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee,
and PETA. It was reported that the United States had,
without warrants or court orders, been monitoring
radiation levels at over 100 Muslim mosques, homes,
businesses, and other sites in the Washington, D.C.,
area. It was also reported that the NSA had, with
Presidential approval but without warrants, spied on much
more Internet and phone traffic than was previously
acknowledged. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said
that there was "absolutely nothing wrong" with President
Bush authorizing the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans.
A judge in Pennsylvania ruled that teaching Intelligent
Design in schools violated the constitutional separation
of church and state, while an appeals panel in Kentucky
ruled that a courthouse there could continue to display
the ten commandments because they are of "historical"
significance. "The First Amendment," wrote Circuit Judge
Richard Suhrheinrich, "does not demand a wall of
separation between church and state." The Supreme Court of
Canada ruled that swingers clubs do not harm
society. Montgomery County, Maryland, bought the original
Uncle Tom's cabin. Workers for the New York City Mass
Transit Authority went on strike for three days, and 4,000
London Tube workers voted to hold a 24-hour walkout on
December 31. Investigators in New York City were trying to
find out who stole Alistair Cooke's bones. Authorities in
Vienna, Austria, determined that people dressed as devils
can legally smack the rear ends of strangers on Christmas,
and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered that all
western music be banned from state-controlled radio and TV
stations. In South Africa a mugger running from security
guards fled into a tiger enclosure, where he was mauled to
death. The United States denied Saddam Hussein's claim
that he had been tortured while imprisoned. "I have been
beaten on every place of my body," said Hussein, "and the
signs are all over my body." It was discovered that bad
hay had led to the deaths of 900 goats in Saskatchewan.
A senior member of the International Olympic Committee
revealed that London probably only won the right to host
the Olympics in 2012 because of a voting error. Prebiotic
organic molecules--which are found in DNA--were discovered
in constellation Ophiuchus, 375 light-years from earth. The
Pope was worried that "intellectual and technical
achievements" were leading to "spiritual barrenness and
emptiness of heart." A study found that good dancers are
sexually attractive because they are more symmetrical. In
Hubbard, Ohio, a Santa clutched his chest and collapsed as
he appeared before 750 elementary schoolchildren, and in
Warren, Michigan, a 14-year-old boy raped a 12-year-old
girl in a church bathroom during a Christmas play. In
Lawrence, Kansas, three women quit their gym because there
was a Christmas tree decorated with plastic fetuses in its
lobby. A Missouri woman swallowed a cell phone to keep it
away from her boyfriend. New rings were found around
Uranus, and gay marriage became legal in the U.K. Elton
John married his partner David Furnish in Windsor, and two
gay druids who perform in amateur pantomime productions
were registered as legal partners in Wrexham. Scientists
in Switzerland found that taking didgeridoo lessons cuts
down on snoring, while scientists in Mauritius discovered
the bones of 20 dodos. In the Isle of Wight, England,
authorities were looking for Toga, a three-month-old
Jackass penguin that they believe was stolen so that it
could be given as a Christmas present. "Toga," said a zoo
manager, "is very, very vulnerable."
-- Paul Ford
Friday, December 23, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I've been really scrambling here lately trying to wrap up a few cases. I promise a good update or two on the AMAZING events in the news this week. right now, i'm just too tired.
more ASAP...i promise.
I think Bush may have admitted to an impeachable offense this week. not just things i think sound bad and i want to complain, but actual high crimes.
Friday, December 16, 2005
You've heard the refrain from the President and other GOP supporters. democrats in congress had the SAME intelligence the President had in making their decision on WMD and invading iraq. If there was a mistake made, it was a shared mistake.
Unless, you know, Bush had access to more info than he was letting everyone else see...you know, trying to hide things that would undermine his rationale for war. GOSH! if only someone had done a report to see if that happened. If only....
CRS Report - Congress as a Consumer of Intelligence Information
WHY LOOK! IT JUST POPPED UP HERE ON MY BLOG! a report! sometimes dreams DO come true....and sometimes soldiers fight and die because the President couldn't be bothered with the truth.
It's late and i don't have time for the commentary this deserves. The Patriot Act, passed after 9/11 has been one of the most destructive laws concerning our civil liberties since the alien and sedition acts. the law was to expire and was up for renewal this month. It looks like it may be defeated and we might have just a little of our freedom back. Senator Russ Feingold has put together a bipartisan group of Senators to oppose passage of the actas it currently stands.
[...] the senior Democrat on the issue, Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., told reporters that more than 40 votes exist to sustain a filibuster in a test vote Friday.Originally, when the act passed, Feingold was the only senator to vote against it.
Feingold finds himself with some unlikely allies, including the Christian Defense Coalition. Notably, the National Rifle Association has not endorsed the Patriot Act renewal that was personally negotiated by Vice President Dick Cheney. The NRA's non-position allows its Senate supporters to oppose renewing the law in its entirety.
"Folks, when we're dealing with civil liberties, you don't compromise them," said Sen. Larry Craig (news, bio, voting record), R-Idaho, an NRA board member.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Donald Rumsfeld was on PBS this weekend. he had this to say:
I was very careful. I never predicted any number of deaths or the cost or the length because I've looked at a lot of wars, and anyone who tries to do that is going to find themselves wrong, flat wrong ... I don't know anybody who had any reasonable expectations about the number or the length of the war or the cost of the war. I just don't - no one I know went out and said these are how those three metrics ought to be considered. And you can take it to the bank.
This is has always bothered me. not because i expect him to have a crystal ball, but because he's always claimed to have NO IDEA what the cost/time would be. really? NO IDEA? how did you get this job!? Well, i guess i over react. you know, above he said he's never even met anyone that'd hazard such a guess on the timeframe. Well, I bumped into a few. Hey Rummy, maybe you've met these guys:
Length of War:
Rumsfeld, 2/7/03: "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
Cheney, 3/16/03: "I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months"
Daniels, 12/30/02: "The administration's top budget official [Mitch Daniels] estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion... Mr. Daniels declined to explain how budget officials had reached the $50 billion to $60 billion range for war costs..." [New York Times, 12/31/02]
Q: If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?
Cheney: Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. [Meet the Press, 3/16/03]
He really ought to meet some of those people that work with him at the white house.
President Bush: The Vice President goes through I guess what all people in Washington go through at some time or another- there's massive speculation about whether he's running the government or not running the government....
Actually, no. All people in Washington do not go through that because most Presidents do their job in a manner that wouldn't lead the public to wonder "HEY! who's running the show anyway!?!"
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Monday, December 12, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
At 87, Wallace still tells it like it is - The Boston Globe: "At 87, Wallace still tells it like it is
By Suzanne C. Ryan, Globe Staff | December 8, 2005
Mike Wallace and his hard-hitting brand of journalism have been synonymous with ''60 Minutes' since CBS introduced the program in 1968. Now 87 years old, Wallace, who has interviewed everyone from Malcolm X to Johnny Carson, has written his second memoir. Wallace was in Brookline, his hometown, recently to talk about ''Between You and Me.' He managed to squeeze in trips to his old house on Osborne Road and to his elementary school, Edward Devotion, before answering a few questions.
Q: President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?
A: What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military. . . . The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?"
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
I read The Scribble everyday. It's probably the Best there is and what it does, often breaking NEW news into a wider read story. amazing feat for a cartoon. Friday's toon revealed a few tidbits. It seems that one screw up after another in Iraq and back home has left Bush more than a little shell shocked. He's been hurt that the war he thought was delivered to him wasn't the war he got, and he's paying the price for letting others do his homework for him. Evidently the relationship with Dick Cheney has gotten icy, with the VP taken out of t he loop on national security issues.
On top of that, His Mamma's mad that the people playing wet nurse to her boy did him wrong. the first mamma is eveidently on the warpath. it seems she's upset with the VP, Andy Card, and others over the public distaste for and mistrust of her son. She felt that many in the administration lead him astray. Of course this is par for the course with her son: no need for him to take responsiblity for his own actions, right?
Finally, this AMAZING little piece was evidently below the radar last week. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced in a press conference that U.S. soldiers were to report instances of Prisoner abuse by Iraqis, but Rummy emphasized that they weren't actually obligated to STOP the torture they saw. He was IMMEDIATELY contradicted by a US General who felt (evidently more than Rummy) that U.S. soldiers have a moral obligation to stop such business from happening in the first place.
GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it...And there is the difference between a dignified, moral soldier and a would be war planning schemer without the real character . I encourage you to read the links above. all are good and most are pretty short.
SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.
GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.
[The transcript does not indicate what kind of expression Sec. Rumsfeld wore upon learning that American soldiers witnessing abuse by Iraqis have to do more than file a report or dial 911 or send an alarmed email or make a mental note to do something later, or whatever it was that Rumsfeld had in mind. But the backtalk must have put the Secretary's knickers in a knot, because soon he went into a classic Rummy Rant.]
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, forget the press then. Anybody. We have an orientation that tends to make us think that everything is our responsibility and that we should be doing this. It is the Iraqis’ country, 28 million of them. They are perfectly capable of running that country. They're not going to run it the way you would or I would or the way we do here in this country, but they're going to run it. And to suggest that every single thing that needs to be done in this country -- "Oh, the infrastructure's imperfectly protected; the Americans should do that, you don't have enough people to do that." Nonsense. We shouldn't have enough people to do that. It's the Iraqis' infrastructure. They're the ones who are going to suffer if the infrastructure isn't protected. "The borders can't be protected." Well, we can't protect our own border.
Q: You make the point that --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a minute. Just a minute. Just a minute.
Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country, it's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves. There isn't an Iraqi that comes into this country and visits with me that doesn't say that. They know that. They know that they're the ones that are going to have to grab that country. And it's time.
Q: There's still a lot of training wheels on those bicycles.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure there are.
Q: And you always talk about that holding the bike. But, I mean, there -- it doesn't seem like the numbers --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think we've been passing over bases, we've been passing over real estate, we've been turning over responsibilities. I mean, what else can you do? Nothing happens at the same time in one fell swoop. This is hard stuff for them! It isn't going to be perfect. But by golly, the people who have been denigrating the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong! They've been wrong from the beginning!
[We are pleased to report that Gen. Pace did not turn to him and say, "Sir, you're living in a dreamworld."]
Have you heard that the wingnuts, especially at FoxNews, are UP IN ARMS over the lack of references to "Chistmas" instead of simply "Happy Holidays" and the like? I never thought the day would come where religious leaders would be upset that the secular world wasn't properly exploiting the birth of our lord and saviour for retail profits!
Religious conservatives have a cause this holiday season: the commercialization of Christmas. They're for it.
The American Family Association is leading a boycott of Target for not using the words 'Merry Christmas' in its advertising. (Target denies it has an anti-Merry-Christmas policy.) The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart in part over the way its Web site treated searches for 'Christmas.' Bill O'Reilly, the Fox anchor who last year started a 'Christmas Under Siege' campaign, has a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase 'Happy Holidays,' along with a poll that asks, 'Will you shop at stores that do not say 'Merry Christmas'?'
And another thing...if you EVER hear someone bitch about the use of the word/contraction Xmas because it 'takes the Christ out of Chirstmas', you tell that person that "X" is one of the oldest known symbols representing Christ...and if they love the baby Jesus SO LITTLE that they can't be bothered to learn these things, then they should just be ashamed of themselves! ;)
This week, the Governor of Louisiana--Kathleen Blanco--submitted over 100,000 documents from the time just before and just after Hurricane Katrina hit. The most upsetting were the series of letters between Blanco and the President just before and after the storm hit:
"I have determined that this incident will be of such severity and magnitude that effective response will be beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments and that supplementary federal assistance will be necessary," Blanco wrote.Kanye West got into a lot of heat for saying, after the storm, that President Bush doesn't care about black people. While that may not be true, I would like to know when 'can't be bothered' becomes 'doesn't care'.
Three days after the storm, Blanco wrote Bush asking that the 256th Louisiana National Guard Brigade be sent home from Iraq to help. The governor also asked for more generators, medicine, health care workers and mortuaries.
Five days later, Bush assistant Maggie Grant e-mailed Blanco aide Paine Gowen to say that the White House did not receive the letter.
"We found it on the governor's Web site but we need 'an original,' for our staff secretary to formally process the requests she is making," Grant wrote. "We are on the job but appreciate your help with a technical request. Tnx!"
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Click on this video. This is Representative John Murtha (D, PA) speaking after the President's big speech on 'how we're going to win in Iraq' this week. Its really worth watching. Murtha notes that Bush claims Iraq has 100,000 security forces ready for work. this is part of the "as they stand up, we'll stand down" mantra. The problem is that over 6 months ago, when the President spoke to the nation, he claimed that there were over 200,000 security forces.
The larger point is that much of the discussion we hear is not reality based. There is a big difference between Murtha's position and so many others that saying we should pull out of Iraq. Murtha was for the war. Now he's not, but the reason given is that if this administration refuses to conduct a war in a way that is: 1. honest with itself & 2. capable of success, then we have no reason to be there. This, is perhaps the ultimate stinging critique. you have a man, a soldier, that is FOR your war, but turned against it because he has utterly no faith in the administration's ability to run the war. THAT is about as bad as you can get in national security...When a hawk that ALSO wanted your war now seeks withdrawal because he thinks you are incapable of doing the job.
That is where we are at the end of 2005.
This article is about the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. it bathes Europe with warm tropical waters and does much to control the cycle and stability of world (particularly western) climate. it seems that the temperature of the Gulf Stream has declined by nearly 1/3 over the last 12 years. As it turns out, the melting of the Polar Ice Caps introduces colder water into the worlds oceans, changing the temperature. This can/does lead to more extreme and erratic weather with can be a real danger.