Sunday August 31, 2003
Microsoft admits: it costs money to run an IM network
I finally get some vindication. Years ago, when Yahoo and Microsoft and others were pressuring AOL to open up their service to other clients, my response was "Why should AOL handle the backend service for Microsoft and Yahoo? Why can't they run their own services?" Because that's exactly what would have happened. AOL would have had to invest in more servers to handle the increased load from alternate apps, and Microsoft and Yahoo would have reaped the rewards. Yet AOL came out looking like the big bad monopolist in the end.
Now Microsoft has this to say, in response to companies like Trillian using their own clients to access Microsoft's IM service:
"'Running an (IM) network is expensive,' said Lisa Gurry, group product manager for MSN at Microsoft. 'We can't sustain multiple other people's businesses, particularly if they charge for certain versions of their software. We're introducing licensing processes for third parties like Trillian.'"
The switch2dean website has been launched, with videos similar to the Apple switch campaign. These videos were done by the Dean Media Team creative network -- a network of advertising and other creative professionals pooling their time and resources to counter the Rove media team (the press).
I don't think that the other candidates (or America for that matter) realizes the scope of the Dean grassroots campaign. But after the latest poll results in New Hampshire, I think they're starting to get an inkling that something's going on.
Sad to say, but I'm still not sold on Dean. Nonetheless, it's impossible to avoid the fact that he has an extensive grassroots network already in place, and it could be a formidable thing come election time.
Saturday August 30, 2003
Murder rate in Baghdad soars
Reader Peter Jung writes in with this horrifying bit of news from Baghdad. "Baghdad's murder rate eclipses that of other major cities. New York, whose former police chief Bernard Kerik is tasked with revamping the Iraqi police force, last year recorded around 48 homicides per month, barely more than the daily murder rate in Baghdad." The CPA's restoration of order to Baghdad has been so negligent that "(a)rmed gangs of looters roam the streets, killing those who stand in their way. Revenge killings are also common as people settle old scores in the knowledge that murders are likely to go unpunished."
On a single Thursday in Baghdad, "(t)he bodies of some 35 Iraqis who met violent or suspicious deaths passed through Baghdad's Institute of Forensic Medicine". As Peter points out, that's a murder rate of nearly 13,000 a year, for one city, population 5 million. The US murder rate was 16,000 a year.
Autonomous Iraq? Or newest American province?
Via Eschaton I see that billmon has noticed something interesting about the new CPA website. The Coalition Provisional Authority's new website labels itself, in its header image, the "Coalition Provincial Authority". First definition of province, again from billmon: "province n. 1. A territory governed as an administrative or political unit of a country or empire." He also notes that on their "Iraqi Ministries" page, The Electricity and Public Works sections of the site are "under construction".
To continue plugging billmon's website, he notes that Salam Pax's family home was raided the other night, and an American soldier liberated his dad's whiskey.
UPDATE: I have added a new banner to the right navbar.
Friday August 29, 2003
Brit Hume's cover-fire for the administration
From Buzzflash, we have the news that Fox News' Brit Hume is saying this:
Two hundred and seventy seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that, statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California…which is roughly the same geographical size. The most recent statistics indicate California has more than 2,300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means they are incurring about 1.7, including illness and accidents, each day.
Apparently the new, appropriate measure of a state's murder rate is based on the number of murders per square yard. Intriguing.
But that's not what he's saying. He decides to judge the murder rate based on the number of murders per day. But doesn't population play a role in this statistic? Not in Brit's mind, apparently.
According to the State of California, the current population is about 34,488,000. (State of California, Department of Finance, California Current Population Survey
Report: March 2002 Data. Sacramento, California, June 2003.)
So, based on the population data and Brit's statistic of 2,300 homicides/year, we get .0667 murders per 1000 Californians per year.
Now, let's compare that to Iraq. Currently there are approximately 145,000 soldiers in Iraq, and the death toll (combat and accidental and other) is 282.
(The article cited above doesn't have the breakdown of the death toll into combat vs. accidental/other, so it won't be useful later on. Instead, I'm going to use these #s from the site antiwar.com, the only place I've been able to find this breakdown. Its total is 279 between March 20th and August 28th, with 181 killed in combat-related incidents. If anyone disputes these numbers, and can provide statistics deemed more reliable, feel free to let me know.)
So, using the number of 279 total dead since the beginning of the war, that ends up being 1.92 deaths per 1000 soldiers in Iraq so far.
According to Brit's piece, the soldiers have been in Iraq for 160 days, but actually it's 152, counting from March 20th until August 28th, the date of the 279 number from Antiwar.com. Assuming the population of soldiers in Iraq doesn't change over the next year (it's not going to grow, according to the White House, and I doubt it's going to shrink, so I think that's a fair estimate), if the deaths continue at the same rate, we can expect 670 deaths by next March 20th, for a total of 4.62 deaths per 1000 soldiers in Iraq.
But what about judging just combat fatalities vs. the California murder rate? The combat fatalities so far are 1.25 per 1000 soldiers, and after a full year we can expect approximately 435 combat deaths, for an annual rate of 3 per 1000 soldiers. The numbers still don't look good, if you do the comparison against the California murder rate.
But the point of all of this is not to show that it's safer to live in California than it is to be a U.S. soldier in Iraq. Anyone with common sense knows this already. The point is that apparently the Right has become so desperate for positive news that they have started to resort to mind-numbingly absurd comparisons and statistics in order to paint a rosy picture of the ever-deepening quagmire. Iraq is a major disaster. The Right needs to come to grips with this fact before we can ever move forward with new strategies for overcoming this crisis.
Thursday August 28, 2003
Tuesday August 26, 2003
Wilson accuses Karl Rove
Remember Ambassador Wilson, who went to Niger -- before the war -- regarding the Iraq/uranium question, found it to be B.S., and came back and reported it? Remember how Bob Novak was subsequently told by someone in the White House that Ambassador Wilson's wife was a CIA agent (essentially blowing her cover -- an illegal act), in a possible effort to intimidate anyone else from falling out of step with the administration? Here's what Ambassador Wilson had to say:
I don't think we're going to let this drop. At the end of the day it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words.
Is it a big deal that a former ambassador is fingering the President's chief adviser in the (alleged) outing of his (alleged) CIA-agent wife? Signs point to yes.
Thanks to reader Gaius Publius for the heads-up regarding this. You can read a full account of the situation and its legal implications at the Mark Kleiman blog.
Bush 'Compassion' Agenda: An '04 Liability?
"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.
Mr. Wallis said Mr. Bush had told him as president-elect that "I don't understand how poor people think," and appealed to him for help by calling himself "a white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Now, Mr. Wallis said, "his policy has not come even close to matching his words."
44%; 1, and a grim fact; GAO skewers administration; $500 billion
With Bush's re-elect number at 44%, no comment from the pundits goes by without trying to place this miserable number "in context": that the 44% is matched up against an unknown opponent instead of a specific one. This is the first time I've ever heard this "context" excuse applied -- another sign that the Bush press corpse (yes, that's "corpse") is hard at work propping up their flaccid candidate.
Another soldier has died in Iraq, bringing the "postwar" body count in line with the "wartime" bodycount.
In the GAO's final report on the Bush/Cheney Energy Task Force and Oil Drilling Cooperative, they let loose on the cabal who were conspiring against the American populace. "Administration officials did not account for much of the money spent on the task force and could not remember whether anyone took official notes during the 10 Cabinet-level meetings the group held in 2001, the investigators said." ... "According to the GAO report, administration officials said no outside groups attended the 10 meetings in Cheney's ceremonial office in the White House complex. 'However, no party provided us with any documentary evidence to support or negate this assertion,' the GAO said. 'Agency officials could not recollect whether official rosters or minutes were kept at the meetings.' Cheney's office turned over 77 pages of documents relating to money spent on the task force, but all were either irrelevant or useless, the GAO said."
A CBO budget forecast to be released this week is expected to pet the budget deficit for the year beginning Oct. 1st at around $500 billion (not including the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq).
Saturday August 23, 2003
3; 2; 1; our friend Chalabi; scum floating to the surface: hate and fascism and its transmitters
Three British soldiers were killed today in Basra; on Thursday, two American soldiers were killed in Iraq, and in Afghanistan on Wednesday evening one American soldier was killed. I think we need to get over this whole "quagmire" nomenclature. It's quagmires. Quagmires. It's spiralling out of control, and we're either going to get significant military help from abroad, or a draft.
It seems our amico Ahmad Chalabi has gone on the record saying that he was informed on August 14th that "a large-scale act would take place ... against a soft target, such as Iraqi political parties or other parties, including the UN". The article is interesting, and not a little inflammatory. It goes into an interesting theory as to why the UN mission in Baghdad was bombed: the author feels that it might have been reprisal for the sanctions on Iraq that are cited as cause for nearly half a million deaths of children in Iraq due to preventable diseases.
Finally, via David Neiwert's blog Orcinus, a link to an article at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report on how extreme Rightist ideologies from racist and fascist organizations get mainstreamed by what I'll call "filter" groups that take the content and repurpose it for general consumption. In the list of filter organizations: AEI and the Scaife Foundations.
Friday August 22, 2003
American fascism; beat Bush from the grave; four moms stand up
Henry Wallace was asked by the New York Times the following questions: "What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?" His answer to the Times is fascinating, and it resonates as much today as it surely did when it was written in 1944. "The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."
A Wisconsin woman's obituary calls for memorials in her honor to be given to organizations working to oust Bush from office. "She thought he was a liar," Baron's daughter, Maureen Bettilyon, said. "I think his personality, just standing there with that smirk on his face, and acting like he's this holy Christian, that's what really got her."
Gail Sheehy has a great article in the NY Observer on four women from NJ who lost their husbands on 9/11, who have been pushing against the administration to come clean about the 9/11 tragedy. "Kristen and the three other housewives who also lost their husbands in the attack on the World Trade Center started out knowing virtually nothing about how their government worked. For the last 20 months they have clipped and Googled, rallied and lobbied, charmed and intimidated top officials all the way to the White House. In the process, they have made themselves arguably the most effective force in dancing around the obstacle course by which the administration continues to block a transparent investigation of what went wrong with the country’s defenses on Sept. 11 and what we should be doing about it."
Thursday August 21, 2003
So how long are the administration and the press going to pretend that all is simply hunky-dory in Afghanistan? Will the Taliban have to pull off a bombing like the one that just occurred in Baghdad before we Americans will even think about Afghanistan again? According to this important article at Salon.com by John Sifton, 80 people have died in the last week, yet it hasn't caused a blip on the radar. We currently have only *9,000* soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, and an equally inadequate number of coalition forces. The situation is far from under control, and all it ends up being is a second front in a larger guerrilla war -- one that is looking more and more like Vietnam, only with less ground cover.
Tuesday August 19, 2003
Via Josh Marshall, a link to the CBS News site, with video from inside the hotel housing the UN mission in Baghdad -- video taken during the blast. This requires a broadband connection, and Real Video, and a stomach strong enough to bear the weight of our collective culpability in this horrible nightmare.
From Josh's entry: "There's a shocking -- really shocking -- and surreal video of the moment of the bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad at the CBSNews website. (The link is near the top of the CBSNews site. The caption reads: 'CBS News camera captures explosion, aftermath.') The feed begins with a garden variety UN briefing. Suddenly, there's a terrible racket, everything goes black, and the racket is replaced by confused screams and shouts from someone trying to take control of the situation."
Reader Debi sent a link to this: "A Defense report urged intervention." From the article: "As Liberia's humanitarian crisis was approaching its peak this summer, the Pentagon quashed a report by its team of specialists calling for an immediate U.S. intervention to stop the fighting and permit the delivery of emergency aid. The Defense Department sent 31 military specialists to Liberia on July 7 to make recommendations for an 'appropriate level of intervention,' according to the mission statement in the report. The team completed its analysis and delivered it within 72 hours to Air Force One during President Bush's Africa trip that week. The team urged that the United States immediately deploy a 2,300-strong Marine Expeditionary Unit to stabilize the beleaguered country and protect civilians amid a vicious civil war, according to several U.S. officials familiar with the report."
To echo Debi's words, "So much for our 'humanitarian' motivations for engagement."
I'm at a loss to find ideological underpinnings to any of their foreign or domestic policies. Someone care to enlighten me?
Monday August 18, 2003
Therapy for waiters
The following is for those of you who have watched the reality/gameshow "The Restaurant." If you don't know what it is, suffice it to say that you get to see what a celebrity chef looks like with a bottle of Coors ensconced in his asshole and an American Express card clenched between his butt-cheeks.
If you watched the episode last night, and you are (or were at some point in your life) a waiter, line cook or other low-life position in the restaurant hierarchy, you probably had a great comeback to Rocco after his final kiss-off insults to three delinquent cooks. Unfortunately, since they were only cooks, they could only muster weak smiles and go skulking off.
Why? Why would anyone on the outside looking in react so strongly to Rocco? Because anyone who has worked in that situation probably started having flashbacks watching that show. If you've been a waiter and you ever had nightmares about being "in the weeds", you know what I'm talking about. In my nightmares, I've actually had customers die while waiting for their food. And anyone who has worked in this situation can probably understand very well the indifference of certain owners to the plight of their staff and customers. They have no idea how concerned the waiters are to put a good face on their restaurants. How utterly horrible they feel when they're not able to provide the service and respect that they feel their customers deserve, because the restaurant is so horribly managed. And how betrayed we feel when people like Rocco don't exhibit the same concern.
Here's my effort at a reply to Rocco and all of the miserable restauranteurs who might have some sort of misapprehension about their true place in the universe.
First a set-up. In this episode, three cooks are dealing with the consequences of a lie to the restaurant. They have come in and tendered their resignations, but didn't admit to the lie. Instead they stated that the restaurant isn't something that they wanted to be involved with. Rocco was insulted. Poor guy. He then makes them all stick around for a final insult. He says his peace and stomps off. Here's what the cooks could have said in reply, if they had some balls:
Do you want to know why we lied to you, you insufferable cretin!? We wanted to show you the same casual disregard that you have shown for your cooks, for your waiters, and for your customers! You flit around the restaurant like a golden twat, utterly unaware of the collapse going on around you. You are so self obsessed you're like a black hole! Like a vacuum! We just go around doing our jobs, trying to avoid having the life sucked out of us by your vampirish self-absorption! You're an anti-human! You're unhuman! How dare you attempt to talk down to us! That is the first interaction we've had with you since we started in this shithole! You don't get the right! You have to actually care about something first before you get the privilege of defending it!
Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. :-)
Saturday August 16, 2003
General Anthony Zinni comes out against the administration's policy in Iraq. "'I wish I was wrong. I don't feel good about it. I would rather be wrong,' Zinni says. Still, as evidence appears to mount against the White House, he adds, 'Whatever you take to the people, you should be accurate. If there is no imminent threat, if it's not true, then someone should be held accountable.' 'It's an obligation you have — in our history there have been too many times when generals didn't say what they thought,' he says. 'We all swear an oath to the Constitution. One of the things I thought I was defending was the right to dissent.'
Friday August 15, 2003
Note; Krugman; Kristof: drowning in superstition; it's an MS BLAST!; paycut for the boys; democracy's hard; turning tide?; 9/11 fallout
So much to catch up on, but a quick point. I've been trying to figure out why it is that I don't write as much of my own comment to these news items as I used to. I think it's simply that anything I could possibly add would be redundant: Bush lacks morals; he denies responsibility until it's stuffed down his throat; he's indifferent to others' suffering; his team of advisers is self-serving, corrupt, and power-hungry beyond any expectation; their domestic and foreign policy is essentially nothing more than a far-reaching effort to redo the entire psychology of the United States, turning us into fearful, incapacitated mob willing to allow even the most egregious behaviors in order to protect ourselves.
Some people can be newly outraged every day, and can write pages of text about the corruption, ineptitude, vileness of this President and his cadre of Christianists. But each new sleight of hand and criminal top-heavy reapportioning of our national wealth barely causes a ripple in my rising tide of outrage. I've been saying these things long enough and loud enough that I don't think I need to say them as often anymore. The news should speak for itself.
Krugman. Kristof. From the first: "For about 20 months the U.S. economy has been operating in a twilight zone: growing too fast to meet the classic definition of a recession, but too slowly to meet the usual criteria for economic recovery." From the second: "...Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28 percent)... Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral... America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians." If that's not a sign of our growing dementia, I don't know what is. "I don't even believe in your God -- but you say he birthed his son from a virgin? Yeah, that makes sense to me."
The world continues the suffer under the weight of Microsoft's incompetence. The MSBlast worm is still infecting about 2500 computers an hour, and variants have started appearing.
Pay cut for serving soldiers. Yes, you heard that right.
The Bush administration was told that democracy in Iraq might be an impossible dream. "US intelligence officials cautioned the National Security Council before the Iraq war that the American plan to build democracy on the ashes of Saddam Hussein's regime -- as a model for the rest of the region -- was so audacious that, in the words of one CIA report in March, it could ultimately prove 'impossible.'"
Is America becoming disenchanted with the Bush administration's domestic policy? Time for another war! "Americans are getting more pessimistic about the economy – 60 percent say it's bad, the highest number recorded in a CBS News poll in ten years – and a majority disapproves of the way President Bush is handling it."
Salon has a great piece on the environmental fallout of 9/11, and the EPAs willingness to gloss over and cover up the serious health risks. "One study published this month blames the Trade Center dust for the premature and underweight births of dozens of babies born since 9/11. Some doctors say the accumulating effect of long-term exposure to these contaminants could leave thousands of people with cancer, heart disease, lasting respiratory ailments or debilitating allergies."
Wednesday August 13, 2003
The story of the abd al-Kerim (apparently not Kawaz, as had been reported) family massacre that I posted about a few days ago has really had an affect on me. I've been looking for some followup news. The following are some excerpts from articles I've found.
From the Los Angeles Times:
After the firing on their car stopped, Hadeel said, her father and eight-year-old sister Marvet lay in the car for an hour without receiving medical attention. Soldiers eventually removed them from the vehicle and they died at a hospital. Her brother Haider, 18, and older sister, Oulah, 16, died at the scene.
Hadeel explained how before the tragedy, she had taken a liking to the Americans. She and her siblings would interrupt their video games to give the soldiers water when they patrolled in the heat near their house.
"And now this happens to us," said Hadeel, who escaped with scalp and arm wounds from flying glass.
After the firing began, Hadeel's mother, eight months pregnant, screamed for the soldiers to stop, apparently to no avail.
Hadeel's uncle, Jamal Khathem, said the killings were God's will and that his sister-in-law had no intention of seeking restitution from the Americans. Still, it has surprised him that no one from the US Government had come to their house to investigate the shooting, check on Hadeel's condition or apologise.
A coalition spokesman said it was up to victims to apply for restitution after allegedly wrongful-death incidents, as well as to provide proof, including photos of the scene and victims. But Khathem said nothing could make up for what occurred.
"What has happened, happened. What could they offer us that would bring our family back to life?" he asked. "All soldiers care about is fighting and defending themselves, not about the problems of people like us."
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
A coalition military spokesman here said the situation, which he called "serious," was under investigation, although family members and witnesses said yesterday that no U.S. officials had spoken with them.
Although the American death toll is counted meticulously, no one is sure how many civilian bystanders have been killed since major combat ended. There have been a number of well-publicized deaths similar to these. Some have involved Iraqis who did not stop at newly erected checkpoints that witnesses said were hard to see.
"Each of these incidents is a tragedy, and it would appear that the biggest challenge is at traffic-control points," Lt. Col. Guy Shields, the coalition military spokesman, said yesterday. "People just need to be very careful."
In front of Hadeel's grandparents' house yesterday - where the family had been visiting before the shooting - sat the old white Volkswagen, back seats soaked with blood, front and rear windshields pocked with bullet holes. On the wall nearby was a death notice saying the family members had been "killed by the aggression of the American coalition."
"Our children, they are being killed every day," said Nada Khalid, a cousin of Ali, whose charred body was pulled from the lead car.
Hadeel answered questions with remarkable composure until she was asked if she was angry at the Americans. She didn't respond for a full minute, and then she began sobbing. She couldn't continue.
"We will not take revenge," said Kadum, her uncle. "God will do it for us. Every one of the soldiers will have to answer to God."
Tuesday August 12, 2003
Howard Dean had 4000 people turn up at a rally in Philadelphia on Monday. Here are the pics.
Everyone's doing it! I have decided to lighten my weblog's complexion, and at the same time weigh its two sides most equally. It is now another Fair and Balanced weblog.
(BTW, this is in response to the Fox News suit of Al Franken)
A Reader's Letter to the Washington Post
On August 9 the Washington Post had an article about Bush's deceptions and mishandling of Iraq intelligence, and it was followed in the same edition by an editorial excoriating Gore for his snidensess in his speech to the moveon.org crowd -- the speech in which he discusses the deceptions of the Bush administration.
Reader Arthur Hancock sent me his response to the Washington Post's editorial, and has allowed me to publish it here.
In your sneering dismissal of Al Gore's speech (Mr. Gore's Blurred View 08/10/03) you opine:
"Mr. Gore has an umbrella explanation, albeit one that many Americans might find a tad insulting: 'The administration has developed a highly effective propaganda machine to embed in the public mind mythologies. . . . '"
"What isn't persuasive, or even very smart politically, is to pretend to have been fooled by what Mr. Gore breathlessly calls the Bush 'systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology.'"
Meanwhile, on page one of the very same Sunday Post (Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence 08/10/03) you report:
"new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied."
"The escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term "mushroom cloud" into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a task force assigned to 'educate the public' about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it."
If these are not perfect examples of manipulating facts in service to a totalistic ideology, and a highly effective propaganda machine attempting to embed in the public mind mythologies, then I'm Richard M. Nixon.
Someone has a blurred view here but I don't think it's Al Gore.
Monday August 11, 2003
Reader Nanobaka pointed out this horror story from Iraq. A family was torn to pieces by jittery American soldiers.
Anwaar Kawaz, 36, lost her husband and three of four children. "We kept shouting, 'We're a family! Don't shoot!' But no one listened. They kept shooting," she told The Associated Press. She's expecting another child this month.
The Kawaz family left the home of Anwaar's parents on Bilal Habashi Street at 9:15 p.m. for the 10-minute drive home. They had traveled only a half-mile when they reached the intersection where they said the American bullets took their terrible toll.
You need to read that article now. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
One thing I should say about the Howard Dean performance on MTP. He was right about one thing: the Treasury Department's numbers weren't to be trusted. They were in fact, utter bullshit. Here's Paul Krugman's assessment, and here is the Treasury Department's response to his criticism, along with his continued explanation as to why they are full of shit. Dean was basically at the receiving end of a GOP hatchet-job orchestrated by Tim Russert and the Bush administration. But he could have handled himself much, much better.
1; news burnout; Dean rehab; molly ivins x 2
One American soldier was killed and two wounded in a bomb attack in front of a police station in Baqouba, Iraq. In the same article, British troops contended with a second day of riots in Basra. But it's not news, anymore folks, because...
America is suffering from "news burnout." Lucky George. The American people are sick and tired of hearing about real substantial news like soldiers dying and veterans benefits getting sacked and the Bush administration telling the EPA to cook the books -- they would much rather bury their heads in Ahnold's man-breasts and wonder what it would be like to be raped by Kobe Bryant.
Joan Walsh changes her tune regarding Howard Dean. I still haven't yet. I saw him on Meet the Press folks, and yes, it was as bad as everyone said. He can be good when he's not in the hotseat, but when he is, he tends to get way too defensive for my tastes. For someone who is supposedly a straight-talker, he can be anything but. He has some time to get some coaching, but my fear is that he isn't -- he even was defensive and dodgey with Larry King, for crissakes.
My feeling is that practically all of the candidates, when up against George Bush in a debate, could clean his clock. Except for Howard Dean. He needs to prove me wrong. He also has a tenuous relationship with the press. If he doesn't get on board the love train with them soon, he's going to find himself on the receiving end of a Gore-ing.
Two good pieces from Molly Ivins. The first goes into detail about the Bush administration's daily deceptions. " Going through stacks of old newspaper articles, speeches, reports, studies and press releases at a high rate of speed left one overwhelming impression: deception ... government by deception." The second deals with "the downward path to the utter degradation of political discourse in this country" and the trashing of the critics of ultra-conservative William Pryor. "This is more than just, 'Boy, do their policies suck.' There's a creepy advance of something more menacing than bad policies. I keep thinking of Mussolini's definition of fascism: 'Fascism should more properly be called corporatism,' since it is the marriage of government and corporate power.' When was the last time we saw this administration do something that involved standing up to some corporate special interest in favor of the great majority of the people? "
Sunday August 10, 2003
6 more wounded; frustrations boiling; morale fading; EPA in the hotseat; décimer la dossier; Bushy Wonka; what to tell the children; fingering Blair
Ok, lots of stuff for you today...
First, two more soldiers were wounded in Iraq Sunday morning due to the explosion of an "improvised" device. In addition, four other soldiers were wounded in a RPG attack on their headquarters on Friday.
Frustrations boiled over in Basra, when 1000 angry residents attacked British troops over the lack of basic amenities. "Witnesses said that three British soldiers had been were injured by stones, and two young Iraqi boys were wounded in the melee. A British military spokesman denied any soldiers were hurt."
Wonder how the soldiers are feeling? Read on...
Two different views on the state of morale in Iraq, neither good. (I think it's important to note that this story fell out of favor in the mainstream press after the ""crackdown".) Stars and Stripes (via Atrios) has an interesting group of letters worth checking out. A number are of the "it's damn near treasonous questioning our President when we're at war" type, but there are a number that are still questioning the civilian leadership despite the crackdown. I think weather of 127 degrees in the shade would probably make me more candid, too. The next is an article in the Guardian about troop morale, and it ain't pretty. The article goes into the hundreds of emails from soldiers in Iraq that David Hackworth has been receiving at his website, the recent editorials critical of Bush policy in the Army Times, Veterans for Common Sense and the newly formed group "Military Families Speak Out". Now with the elevation of Arnold to Governor, it's as if Iraq never existed, isn't it? Arnold, Kobe, Laci -- Saddam WHOssein?
CBS News has a piece on an investigation of the EPA for manipulating environmental data (Did EPA Mislead Public After 9/11?). "An investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general has found that White House officials instructed the agency to be less alarming and more reassuring to the public in the first few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, The New York Times reports in its Saturday editions. The investigation specifically cites official statements about air quality after the collapse of the World Trade Center. " I smell a lawsuit!
The AP decimates Powell's speech to the UN, and his "thick intelligence file". "Six months after that Feb. 5 appearance, the file does look thin. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told U.S. senators last month the Bush administration actually had no 'dramatic new evidence' before ordering the Iraq invasion. 'We acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light through the prism of our experience on Sept. 11,' Rumsfeld said."
Katrina Vanden Heuvel on talking with your children about Bush mendacity. "Think about your values as they relate to this situation. What are your family's values about telling the truth? What would you do if your child lied to you and when you scolded him or her, he or she replied: 'I am not a fact-checker.' Or added, 'Isn't it time to move on?'"
Blair fingered by the BBC in the "hardening up" of the Iraq dossier. "A senior BBC journalist was told that Tony Blair was 'involved' in sending the September Iraq dossier back to the Joint Intelligence Committee to harden up its content. The source of the report is understood not to have been the late David Kelly."
Saturday August 09, 2003
Mobile Mass Hydrogen Production in Iraq! The Horror!
Iraqi Trailers Said to Make Hydrogen, Not Biological Arms. "Engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have come to believe that the most likely use for two mysterious trailers found in Iraq was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons rather than to make biological weapons, government officials say."
The British intelligence agencies have been saying that for months now, in addition to this interesting tidbit: they (the British) more than likely sold Iraq the technology to begin with.
The CIA is standing by their reasoning that a canvas-sided truck was being used for bio-weapon production. But there was no pressure on them to say that. None at all.
Friday August 08, 2003
"I spent $1.7 million to attack democracy, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt"
Thursday August 07, 2003
From Istoé Online, regarding the Ahnold documentary Carnival in Rio: "Rasga a fantasia em meio ŕ mulherada pelada – numa delas tenta embutir uma cenoura entre as nádegas fartas."
Translation, in my feeble Portuguese: "It (the film) cuts to a fantasy amidst a group of naked women -- he attempts to place a carrot between the ample buttocks of one of them."
Maybe someone else out there could translate it better...
I want him to win just so I can call him Governor Asscarrot. What that would be in German?
Two more soldiers killed, another wounded. It's getting harder to find news of US deaths in Iraq. "Two U.S. soldiers were killed and one was wounded, along with an Iraqi interpreter, in a gunbattle in Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Thursday."
Hide the carrot
Friends, GET THE FUCK OUT OF CALIFORNIA! If A.S. get elected I expect that the emigration wave from CA will be visible from space. At least it should be, for I don't know how many citizens would want to live with the sight of their testosterone-dripping Governor attempting to play hide the carrot (literally) between the ample buttocks of a Brazilian dancer.
Wednesday August 06, 2003
Microsoft, meet fine. Fine, Microsoft. "The European Commission said on Wednesday it intended to fine Microsoft for what it called continuing abuses of its dominant market position and force it to change the way it distributes its Media Player software."
Muffling the Left (via Village Voice). "Nonprofits that disagree with the president's own solutions, or go further and blame him for problems in the first place, have come to expect unpleasant consequences. Those might include audits of federal-funds spending and reviews of content, such as workshop literature."
More on Mel Gibson's father at David Neiwert's blog. "If Gibson's film is so mainstream, so innocent, so purely Catholic and free of anti-Semitic taint, then why are some of its most vociferous defenders the Adelaide Institute and the neo-Nazi National Alliance?"
Friday August 01, 2003
Bush the Menace
Back to Bizarro world, folks. Birds flying upside down, trains running backwards, cats chasing dogs...
Bush has blamed cable news (link via This Modern World) for instilling a sense of fear in the population in the months leading up to the Iraq war. As Jon Stewart would say...
Our President war-monger and his cadre of bellicose chickenhawks, who have for months toyed with the country's collective anxiety level with their absurd fear-and-doubt color scheme; who have told us to plastic-wrap ourselves up in our homes and hug our children for the long slog ahead of us against the evildoers who more and more seem to resemble anyone-not-us in the eyes of the Republicans; who have taken every opportunity to turn world opinion against us in order to isolate us further and make us feel less secure -- these monstrous fucks are daring to shift the blame for the warmongering to someone else?
It's just another example of how incredibly childish our current President is. He's standing in the kitchen, chocolate-chip cookie in his hand, his mouth smeared with chocolate, crumbs covering his suit, an empty cookie jar on the table, and he's pointing at the family dog.
Go run and play son, we need to find some adults to run the country now.