Chris's Rants

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Da-yam!

Whoa! Larisa Alexandrovna is one pissed off woman!
Odd, we knew about hurricanes, especially those of us who went through four of them last year in a three week run. We knew. Scientists knew. So did and the city of New Orleans via its mayor who repeatedly asked for government funding. In fact, every rational person on the planet knows that the top priority of a good leader is 'the people', not his frat house pals!

Tax cuts to the top-already-grossly-rich 2% of the nation over the duties to the other 98% of the people, is unpardonable!

We have to sit and watch the myriad of horrors inflicted on us and on others on behalf of us: Dick simulates, Bush tans, Laura reads, twins go shopping, Lynn writes trite tales of love, and a psychotic Rummy tortures, rapes, and murders in our name.

That about cover it? Not quite.

Mr. Bush, go Cheney yourself!

And Mr. Cheney, take your war games, your Rummy, Rove, Condi, Hadley, Libby, and especially your over priced and frozen over wife, and shove them up your Ashcroft.

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Destroying FEMA

From yesterday's WaPo -- Destroying FEMA:
In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why the Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness? Given our country's long record of natural disasters, how much sense does this make?

What follows is an obituary for what was once considered the preeminent example of a federal agency doing good for the American public in times of trouble, such as the present.

[...]

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.

FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture. That's because the focus of the national effort remains terrorism, even if the Department of Homeland Security still talks about "all-hazards preparedness." Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves, making do with the "homeland security" mission. Our "all-hazards" approaches have been decimated by the administration's preoccupation with terrorism.

To be sure, America may well be hit by another major terrorist attack, and we must be prepared for such an event. But I can guarantee you that hurricanes like the one that ripped into Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday, along with tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, windstorms, mudslides, power outages, fires and perhaps a pandemic flu will have to be dealt with on a weekly and daily basis throughout this country. They are coming for sure, sooner or later, even as we are, to an unconscionable degree, weakening our ability to respond to them.
See, here's what I don't get. What difference is there between a natural disaster, such as that unfolding in the gulf states, and a terror attack which could result in devastation and loss of life, etc as we have in New Orleans today? After all, isn't BushCo constantly warning against the prospect of terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapon?

So, Cheney Bush puts all his eggs in one basket, and dismantles one of the few government agencies that does really good work? Does that even begin to make sense to you? I know I am confused.

What seems clear though is that despite the fact that the prospect of a hurricane hitting New Orleans being one of the top disaster planning scenarios (until BushCo), that the federal government seemed woefully unprepared. Further, the policies of this administration are going to come back to haunt them big-time. The cutting of funding for the Army Corps of Engineers work on the levees, the reprioritization of FEMA's disaster preparedness work, and the gutting of our nation's National Guard to pursue Bush's folly in Iraq... all will be placed into stark contrast with the Rove machine's marketing messages about Bush being so manly-man strong on terrorism, etc.

It is clear that the BushCo policies have weakened us considerably, both at home and abroad. Yet, despite the fact that this administration has pissed on just about every other country on the planet, and pissed on the UN by sending that cretin Bolton to be our ambassador, the other countries of the world are responding to our tragedy with gracious offers of assistance.

What amazes me though, is that to date none of the offers have been accepted. GHWB would have already sent thank-you letters to each of the nations that offered assistance, even if he chose to decline it (I may not have liked his policies, but he was a gentleman and he knew foriegn policy... he just hadn't the first clue when it came to domestic policy). Dubya was too busy clearing brush on his "ranch" to even notice that there was a problem of unprecedented proportions in the state next door.

Bush said tonight that the recovery would take years. Sorry asshole, that simply isn't an acceptable answer. No amount of expectations management is going to get you a pass on this one.

I feel saddest for the victims in all this... because BushCo will forget about them as soon as the disaster fades from the front pages and 24/7 coverage on cable when some new pretty white girl goes missing.

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Empty Nest

It's official. My wife and I are empty nesters, unless you count the critters.

I dropped my daughter, and all her worldly possessions (well, the ones she chose to bring with her anyway), off at college this morning.

The place was a zoo, but we managed to unload everything and move her in in under an hour and a half. She has a nice room at the end of the hall, so she has 3 sets of windows instead of just one. Great ventilation, considering there's no A/C in the dorms.

Of course, nothing much has really changed. I don't think we saw her more than once or twice since graduation:-)

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We're fighting them over there...

... so we don't have to fight them here?

From today's WaPo -- Strain of Iraq War Means the Relief Burden Will Have to Be Shared (emphasis mine):
National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops -- most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001.

[...]

"This is the biggest disaster we've ever had, so we're going to need more aircraft than we've got," said Col. Bradly S. MacNealy, the Mississippi Army National Guard's aviation officer. Mississippi has had to borrow from Arkansas UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fitted with hoists, using them together with the Coast Guard to pluck to safety several dozen people stranded by floodwaters, he said.
Question for you Mr. President... had this been a terrorist attack instead of a natural disaster, would we be prepared to deal with it? Somehow, I think not. It should be clear to anyone with two brain cells to rub together, that the war in Iraq has in fact not made us safer here at home. Quite the opposite.
Recruiting and retention problems are worsening the strain on Guard forces in hurricane-ravaged states. Alabama's Army National Guard has a strength of 11,000 troops -- or 78 percent of the authorized number. "We're just losing too many out the back door," Arnold said.
Maybe Karl should change the talking point to: "We're fighting them over there, so we can't fight them over here".

Worst. administration. ever. period.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

404

Bush Error 404 - Bush Not Found In Crawford ROFLMAO!

1 Comments:

  • Thanks so much for linking to my Bush 404 page!

    Mad Kane
    http://www.madkane.com
    http://www.madkane.com/notable.html (Notables Blog)

    By Blogger Mad Kane, at August 31, 2005 1:04 PM  

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When the levee breaks

When the levee breaks - Kansas Joe McCoy
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break
And all these people have no place to stay
I am pretty certain that the lyrics to this song, which I have on my iPod (as covered by Led Zepplin), will serve as a vivid reminder of the devastation in N'awlins wrought by Katrina following the breach in the levee separating the waters of Lake Pontchatrain from the city.

Though I've been there only three times, New Orleans is probably my favorite U.S. city. Great food, great music.

It's hard to imagine a city of a half a million people just vacant.
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose
I hope that last line is not prophetic, though I suspect that "The Blues" will have an entirely different meaning for many of the city's residents than it had before yesterday.

2 Comments:

  • That same song came to mind for me when I was watching the footage of the devastation.That song was originally written by an early Blues artist who went by the name"Memphis Minnie"back in 1929.She was originally from Louisiana.She later moved to Miss. then Tenn.The Mississippi river and the Delta have flooded many times over the years but not like this.It would be fitting for this song to be redone to raise funds to help these people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 11, 2005 2:30 AM  

  • Actually, it was written by Kansas Joe McCoy, but performed by Memphis Minnie with Kansas Joe accompanying her (check the iTunes link in the post).

    I like the idea of a cover to raise money.

    By Blogger Chris, at September 11, 2005 6:04 AM  

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PowerPoint: Killer App?

PowerPoint: Killer App?:
Like all forms of torture, though, PowerPoint degrades its practitioners as well as its victims. Yes, boring slides were plentiful in the pre-PowerPoint era -- remember the overhead projector? Yes, it can help the intellectually inept organize their thoughts. But the seductive availability of PowerPoint and the built-in drive to reduce all subjects to a series of short-handed bullet points eliminates nuances and enables, even encourages, the absence of serious thinking.
Amen! <grin/>

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Times-Picayune blog

This is so sad. Apparently, after surviving the brunt of the storm, the 17th street levee was breached, flooding the city park area adjacent to the Fair Grounds (where the Jazz Fest is held).

The stories relayed in this blog are simply terrifying. The hard part to imagine is that the conditions in Slidel, Gulfport and Biloxi are in fact much, much, much worse.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Arianna rips the NYT editorial board a new one

Arianna rips the increasingly irrelevant NYT editorial board a new one:
Give me a break. This is about none of these things. It is about Judith Miller. And about what role she played in the smearing of a whistleblower. And before we hang the future of the freedom of the press and the vitality of the First Amendment on her, it would be helpful to know whether she was simply an observer of that smearing or an active participant. It would also be interesting to hear from the Times why it has deviated from its own ethical guidelines, which make it clear that the paper’s policy does not permit the granting of anonymity to confidential sources ‘as cover for a personal or partisan attack’. That would certainly seem to include the commission of a felony. But I could be missing something.
I was going to comment on this as well, but Arianna said it all for me. What does Judy have on these guys? Pics of them in women's undies? Seiously...

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Live-blogging Katrina

Times Picayune is live-blogging Katrina from NOLA. She's down to a strong category 4, but I'm afraid that that won't help much.

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Nothing to see here.... move along

Halliburton Contract Critic Loses Her Job (emphasis mine):
A high-level contracting official who has been a vocal critic of the Pentagon's decision to give Halliburton Co. a multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract for work in Iraq, was removed from her job by the Army Corps of Engineers, effective Saturday.

[...]

Greenhouse complained internally about that contract. Last fall she started giving interviews to national publications. And in June she testified before a Democrat-sponsored Capitol Hill event on contracting in Iraq.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, Greenhouse said at the Democratic forum.

She said the independence of the Corps' contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. "I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong."

Greenhouse has been the Army Corps' top procurement official since 1997. Then-commander Gen. Joe N. Ballard has said he wanted Greenhouse -- a black woman -- to provide a jolt to the clubby, old-boys' network that had long dominated the contracting process at the Corps.

Since then, Greenhouse has developed a reputation among those in both government and industry as being a stickler for the rules. To her critics, she's a foot-dragging, inflexible bureaucrat. To her supporters, she's been a staunch defender of the taxpayers' dime.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Greenhouse objected to a decision to give a five-year, no-bid contract to KBR for putting out the oil fires that Pentagon officials believed retreating Iraqi troops would set as the United States invaded. KBR had earlier been hired to write the plans for how that work would be conducted.

When the time came to award the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, the terms stipulated that the contractor had to have knowledge of KBR's plan. KBR was the only contractor deemed eligible. Normally, contractors that prepare cost estimates and plans are excluded from bidding on the work that arises from those plans.
Of course, Cheney had nothing to do with this. If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Ms. Greenhouse called "foul" when Cheney and his cronies effectively violated the pentagon's procedures, and for that she has been persecuted ever since.

Don't you find it amazing, all these people with consistently stellar reviews who all of a sudden run up against the Bushies and are fired for poor job performance or who quit and take their complaints into the public forum and are labeled "disgruntled" former employees?

Welcome to the ethics-free administration.

As for the WaPo and the rest of the MSM that have buried this story (WaPo on page A11), how about showing a little more spine. This is wrong and you know it.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

WCG Reaches 15,000 Years of Run Time!

15,000 Years of Run Time!:
This weekend we crossed another significant milestone. In the nine months since we launched, we have collectively provided 15,000 years of run time, or unused cycles, to World Community Grid.

This achievement has brought the Human Proteome Folding project toward 82% completion. Without your incredible contribution, the Human Proteome Folding project, and all the promise it holds for scientists, could not have been possible.

Already, more than 85,000 people have registered on World Community Grid, and we thank every one of you.
That's quite an achievement. I've added my spare cycles to the cause.
Totals:
Total Run Time (y:d:h:m:s) (Rank) 0:038:00:30:45 (#31,970)
Points Generated (Rank) 24,470 (#30,322)
Results Returned (Rank) 90 (#30,836)
Averages:
Avg. Run Time Per Calendar Day (y:d:h:m:s) 0:000:22:35:57
Avg. Run Time Per Result (y:d:h:m:s) 0:000:10:09:25
Avg. Points Per Hour of Run Time 26.77537
Avg. Points Per Calendar Day 605.10000
Avg. Points Per Result 271.95506
Avg. Results Per Calendar Day 2.22500
As has the IBM team which has contributed over 77 years thus far:
Totals:
Members (Rank) 880 (#2)
Current Members 832
Retired Members 48
Total Run Time (y:d:h:m:s) (Rank) 77:108:10:22:09 (#9)
Points Generated (Rank) 17,848,754 (#9)
Results Returned (Rank) 74,843 (#9)
Averages:
Avg. Run Time Per Calendar Day (y:d:h:m:s) 0:099:08:14:01
There are actually quite a few IBM affiliated teams that have collectively contributed roughly 2,100 years of runtime to the project. That's quite impressive.

It's not too late to join. Come on in, the water's fine.

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The new OIF headstones

The Herald's Morin knocks one out of the park with today's editorial cartoon. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny as hell.

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Brilliant!

Reading David Brooks today, I was reminded of the Guinness commercial, where one of the owners comes up with the idea to sell their ale in a bottle. "Brilliant!" the other exclaims. Then, the first guy follows that up with his second idea, sell the bottles in a six-pack. "Brilliant!" exclaims the other.

Here's what Brooks has for us in today's column (emphasis mine):
Andrew Krepinevich is a careful, scholarly man. A graduate of West Point and a retired lieutenant colonel, his book, "The Army and Vietnam," is a classic on how to fight counterinsurgency warfare.

Over the past year or so he's been asking his friends and former colleagues in the military a few simple questions: Which of the several known strategies for fighting insurgents are you guys employing in Iraq? What metrics are you using to measure your progress?

The answers have been disturbing. There is no clear strategy. There are no clear metrics.
Well, duh! Thanks, David, for bringing this remarkable news to our attention.
Krepinevich has now published an essay in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, "How to Win in Iraq," in which he proposes a strategy.
What's that you say? A strategy? Brilliant!
strat·e·gy n. pl. strat·e·gies
    1. The science and art of using all the forces of a nation to execute approved plans as effectively as possible during peace or war.
    2. The science and art of military command as applied to the overall planning and conduct of large-scale combat operations.
  1. A plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal. See Synonyms at plan.
  2. The art or skill of using stratagems in endeavors such as politics and business.
As an aside, I got a chuckle from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary definition right below the above:
Main Entry: strat·e·gy
Pronunciation: 'strat-&-jE
Function: noun
Inflected Form: plural -gies
: an adaptation or complex of adaptations (as of behavior, metabolism, or structure) that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving evolutionary success
Here's the adaptation that I came up with for Rumsfeld:

strategy - A plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal, that serves or appears to serve an important function in achieving military success

But, I digress... back to Brooks's column (emphasis mine).
The article is already a phenomenon among the people running this war, generating discussion in the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the American Embassy in Baghdad and the office of the vice president.
A phenomenon?

phenomenon - An unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel.

Oooh, look! A strategy! I've never seen one of those before. Look how it shines!

Sigh... let's continue our exploration of Brooks's column:
Krepinevich's proposal is hardly new. He's merely describing a classic counterinsurgency strategy, which was used, among other places, in Malaya by the British in the 1950's. The same approach was pushed by Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt in a Washington Post essay back on Oct. 26, 2003; by Kenneth Pollack in Senate testimony this July 18; and by dozens of midlevel Army and Marine Corps officers in Iraq.
Yes, you see... instead of listening to people who have studied the art and history of war all their adult lives (people who just might know a thing or two about the subject) the neocons in Rumsfeld's OSP, and Rumsfled himself thought that they knew better and dismissed the military leadership's (and the State Dept's for that matter) carefully developed plans and recommendations out of hand.

At that point, most of the military leadership went into "yes, sir!" mode and deferred to whatever Rumsfeld and his OSPers said was the plan. Even when it became clear that their on-the-ground commanders needed more troops or more/better equipment (think body armor and heavily armored Hummers), they made sure that those requests never saw Rumsfeld's desk. They didn't want to be the next Shinseki.

Rumsfeld's management style all but ensured that he would not receive any critical thinking from his military leadership.

If Bush wasn't such a coward himself, and if he had even half a brain, he would have fired Rumsfeld when it became clear that his leadership just wasn't getting the job done. But, noooo! He's resolute. He's going to stick by his man through thick or thin.

Let's continue with Brooks. He continues his column with a brief explanation of the Krepinevich proposal. Then he follows that with the following (again, emphasis mine):
If you ask U.S. officials why they haven't adopted this strategy, they say they have. But if that were true the road to the airport in Baghdad wouldn't be a death trap. It would be within the primary oil spot.

The fact is, the U.S. didn't adopt this blindingly obvious strategy because it violates some of the key Rumsfeldian notions about how the U.S. military should operate in the 21st century.

First, it requires a heavy troop presence, not a light, lean force. Second, it doesn't play to our strengths, which are technological superiority, mobility and firepower. It acknowledges that while we go with our strengths, the insurgents exploit our weakness: the lack of usable intelligence.

[...]

If President Bush is going to rebuild support for the war, he's going to have to explain specifically how it can be won, and for that he needs a strategy.

It's not hard to find. It's right there in Andy Krepinevich's essay, and in the annals of history.
Here's why this will never happen, and why we might as well just pack up and bring the troops home -- Bush won't admit that he has made a mistake because that would mean that Daddy was right all along. His massive Oedipus complex is what is preventing us from finding a way of either winning, or at least not losing as badly as is likely to be the case after 3 more years (and more before we finally extracate ourselves from this mess under some adult supervision) of pouring money, that could easily be put to far better use, and lives into this bottomless pit.

Even if this strategy is adopted, it will require something that no politician in Washington is willing to back: a draft. There simply aren't half a million troops to deploy. We're tapped out and America's youth are not signing up in droves -- they have "other priorities".

So, thanks David for the enlightening column... unfortunately, it is completely beside the point. Not only is there a need of a strategy, but there is need of a rationale that will motivate the country to support sending 350,000 more of our children off to their untimely death. Beyond a strategy, the country needs a reason. Why?

As Cindy Sheehan asks: "What noble cause"?

Is it the establishment of an Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq? Somehow, I don't think that's going to cut the mustard with the bible-thumpers.

Is it to divest Iraqi women of the rights that they had gained over the past 50 years? For all of Saddam's brutality, Iraq was actually quite progressive in that regard before we invaded. The prospects for Iraqi women look pretty bleak given the direction that the drafting of the Iraqi constitution is headed. That would certainly please some of the misogenists in our own country, but fortunately, they are still in a minority.

Bush will roll out the tried and true "link Iraq to 9/11" again and again, ad nauseum. It's always worked before! Sadly, there are still about 36% of Americans who still believe that fantasy, because they'll believe anything that Dear Leader tells them. Fortunately, with each passing day, there are fewer and fewer of these poor deluded souls. As the cognitive dissonance grows, either their heads explode or they finally come to their senses and realize that maybe, just maybe, they've been lied to all this time.

1 Comments:

  • That's half the reason to bug out immediately. The other half is Dream Team theory. In 1992 when the U.S. sent NBA players to the Olympics, the team mopped up against an over-matched world. Only 12 years later, though, the world caught up.

    Strategically-speaking, the longer you stick around, the more time you allow your opponent to bring his game up to your level. And the insurgency enjoys home court advantage ...

    By Anonymous Mike Meehan, at August 29, 2005 3:33 PM  

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Friday, August 26, 2005

But, I don't LIKE spam!

Wow, that didn't take long... My previous post was spammed in seconds of its posting.

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Digby rocks

Digby on the definition of insanity:
I think this is where we separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls. If, after all you've seen these last five years you still believe that the Bush administration can be given the benefit of the doubt, that they will do the right thing, change course, follow sage advice, reevaluate their strategy, bow to the facts on the ground --- then you have the same disease the Bush administration has. As Ben Franklin said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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That giant sucking sound you hear...

... is the sound of Dubya's approval ratings: Bush Approval Rating Continues to Drop. That's three polls this week at 40% or lower.

Note also, that the Gallup poll reports that 62% polled are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today. With gas prices rising daily, that figure is only bound to get worse as the cost of everything goes up to offset the increased cost of transportation and production.

I'm still waiting for that terror alert, but I guess that Dubya's too busy vacationing to worry his little head about such mundane things as the majority of Americans telling him that he and his policies suck and that things in Mess-o-potamia are not going well either.

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Your ethics-free administration

Once again, the ethics-free Bush administration out-does itself.

Think Progress -- BREAKING: “Independent” Ethicist Defending Roberts Actually A Pentagon Consultant (emphasis theirs):
In April, Judge John Roberts “heard arguments about the Bush administration’s policy [on military commissions in Guantanamo] as he was discussing a Supreme Court appointment in private conversations with the White House.” On July 15, “when Judge Roberts met with President Bush for the job-clinching interview, he joined a ruling in favor of the defendants, who included Mr. Bush.”

In an article that has recieved considerable attention by the media, Stephen Gillers, David J. Luban, and Steven Lubet – three respected legal ethicists – argue that Roberts conduct was unethical. They noted “[f]ederal law deems public trust in the courts so critical that it requires judges to step aside if their ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’ even if the judge is completely impartial as a matter of fact.”

To rebut their claims the papers are quick to turn to another legal scholar, Professor Ronald Rotunda who argues that Roberts did nothing wrong. Here’s what they don’t tell you: until very recently Ronald Rotunda was employed as a military advisor to the Department of Defense on military commissions – the exact subject of the case in controversy.
These people have no shame.

However, what's worse is that the press's continued incompetence is what is hurting us the most. As the TP post goes on to say that the NYT, WaPo, Newsday and FoxNews didn't bother to mention this additional conflict of interest in defense of a conflict of interest claim! It's enough to make one want to scream.

Look, I really don't care that Roberts is a conservative. I expected nothing less from the Bush administration. He's replacing a conservative on most issues (except womens rights) anyway.

However, when the administration seems to have given the nomination to the Supremes to someone before whom they had an important (to them) active case... with the case being decided on the very day that Roberts had the clinching interview... sorry, but there is but one conclusion that you can draw from that given this administration's track record.

Worst. administration. ever.

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And Justice for All

Former Nixon WH Counsel of Watergate fame, John Dean asks: Was Pat Robertson's Call For Assassination Of A Foreign Leader A Crime?.

Gosh, I certainly hope so. It would be sweet irony given the blatant violation of Christian doctrine of his statement. There's also plenty of irony that Dean calls out related to Robertson's "strict constructionist" position with regards to the courts and the interpretation of the relevant statutes that he identifies.

The American Taliban: Robertson, Dobson, Perkins and Fallwell (not to mention the already fallen Baker and Swaggart) are nothing but sophisticated hucksters with TV shows on cable. They are no more "Christian" or "men of faith" than my sneaker. They use religion as a tool to control the weak-minded and easily influenced. Heck, Robertson ran for President for crying out loud. Anyone who thinks for a minute that he isn't just a politician is a fool. Half his show is dedicated to Republican (the extreemist Evangelical right-wing flavor) policy wonkery... the juxtaposition of the religious and the political on these shows makes it clear that they are merely tools of the Republican establishment.

But enough ranting. Here are some of the highlights of the Dean article (emphasis mine):
On Monday, August 22, the Chairman of the Christian Broadcast Network, Marion 'Pat' Robertson, proclaimed, on his 700 Club television show, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be murdered.

More specifically, Robertson said, 'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination,' referring to the American policy since the Presidency of Gerald Ford against assassination of foreign leaders, 'but if he [Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.'

[...]

Robertson found himself in the middle of a media firestorm. He initially denied he'd called for Chavez to be killed, and claimed he'd been misinterpreted, but in an age of digital recording, Robertson could not flip-flop his way out of his own statement. He said what he said.

By Wednesday, Robertson was backing down:

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out,'" Robertson claimed on his Wednesday show. "'Take him out' could be a number of things including kidnapping."

No one bought that explanation, either. So Robertson quietly posted a half apology on his website. It is only a half apology because it is clear he really does not mean to apologize, but rather, still seeks to rationalize and justify his dastardly comment.

From the moment I heard Robertson's remark, on the radio, I thought of the federal criminal statutes prohibiting such threats. Do they apply?

For me, the answer is yes. Indeed, had these comments been made by a Dan Rather, a Bill Moyers, or Jesse Jackson, it is not difficult to imagine some conservative prosecutor taking a passing look at these laws - as, say, Pat Robertson might read them -- and saying, "Let's prosecute."

[...]

Still, since the applicability of this misdemeanor statute is debatable, I will focus on the felony statute instead.

The Federal Threat Statute: Fines and Prison For Threats to Kidnap or Injure

It is a federal felony to use instruments of interstate or foreign commerce to threaten other people. The statute is clear, and simple. Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 875(c), states: "Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." (Emphases added.)

The interstate or foreign commerce element is plainly satisfied by Robertson's statements. Robertson's 700 Club is listed as broadcasting in thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia, not to mention ABC Family Channel satellites which cover not only the United States but several foreign countries as well. In addition, the program was sent around the world via the Internet.

[...]

If you have not seen the Robertson threat, view it yourself and decide. Robertson's manner, his choice to return to the subject repeatedly in his discourse, and the seriousness with which he stated the threat, all strike me as leading strongly to the conclusion that this was a true threat. Only media pressure partially backed him off. And his "apology" is anything but a retraction.

Will Robertson be investigated or prosecuted by federal authorities? Will he be called before Congress? Will the President, or the Secretary of State, publicly chastise Robertson? Are those three silly questions about a man who controls millions of Republican votes from Christian conservatives?
Frankly, I think he's been given a pass by the MSM because they fear that Evangelicals will cry "persecution" again and mount a boycot. In fact, I think that the reason that the Republican and Democratic establishment's reaction to his statement has been so tepid is because they too are afraid of the consequences.

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RAMP

Today, IBM and Ford Motor Company jointly released (under royalty free terms) the second revision of the profile formerly known as the IBM Basic B2B Profile. We had received lots of feedback from both our customers and industry analysts that the name was somewhat misleading, because the profile had relevance beyond b2b exchanges.

The renamed profile is now called the Reliable Asynchronous Messaging Profile, or RAMP for short.

I've written an article that describes the profile and outlines the changes made.

As I have previously noted, we invite the Web services community to participate in the development of the profile by joining the discussion group. All that's necessary to do so is to sign the feedback agreement.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pedal faster

WSJ.com - Poll Shows Bush Approval Ratings Sink to Lowest Point in Presidency:
President Bush's job approval ratings are at their lowest point of his presidency as only 40% of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of his job performance and 58% have a negative opinion, according to a Harris Interactive poll.

This is a decline from just two months ago in June when the president's ratings were 45% positive and 55% negative. Much of this decline can be tied to the public's opinion on important issues. The war in Iraq has climbed to the top of a list of issues Americans say it's most important for the U.S. to address and the economy is now viewed as the second most important issue, according to the poll.

At the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney's approval ratings slipped to 35% from 38% in June, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's approval ratings dropped to 40% from 42%. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the only cabinet member whose approval ratings rose, to 57% from 52% in June.
This is fairly consistent with the recent ARG poll.

The thing I don't get is all the buzz about the prospect of Cheney running in 2008 (and wouldn't that be a violation of the 25th amendment anyway? A president can only serve two terms). His approval rating is at 35%. He is as likable as a rabid doberman. All anyone would have to do to run against him is air the dozens and dozens of clips of him on, FoxNews Sunday, MTP and FTN spewing his most outrageous claims such as: "we know with certainty that Saddam has reconstituted his nuclear program" and "the insurgency is in its last throes".

I don't think that even Diebold could help get him elected.

Also, what's with Condi's approval rating of 57%? Is it because she supposedly looks hot in black leather? Is it the space between her incisors? She is as culpable as the rest of the war criminals.

Hey Dubya, how's that vacation going?

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President Bush's Loss of Faith

Today's NYT editorial -- President Bush's Loss of Faith (emphasis mine):
It took President Bush a long time to break his summer vacation and acknowledge the pain that the families of fallen soldiers are feeling as the death toll in Iraq continues to climb. When he did, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Utah this week, he said exactly the wrong thing. In an address that repeatedly invoked Sept. 11 - the day that terrorists who had no discernible connection whatsoever to Iraq attacked targets on American soil - Mr. Bush offered a new reason for staying the course: to keep faith with the men and women who have already died in the war.

'We owe them something,' Mr. Bush said. 'We will finish the task that they gave their lives for.' It was, as the mother of one fallen National Guardsman said, an argument that 'makes no sense.' No one wants young men and women to die just because others have already made the ultimate sacrifice. The families of the dead do not want that, any more than they want to see more soldiers die because politicians cannot bear to admit that they sent American forces to war by mistake.

Most Americans believed that their country had invaded Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but we know now that those weapons did not exist. If we had all known then what we know now, the invasion would have been stopped by a popular outcry, no matter what other motives the president and his advisers may have had.
Well, exactly. Nice that the NYT editorial board is finally coming around to its senses. The mother of the fallen National Guardsman is exactly right, it "makes no sense". We are in this senseless war now because of past "mistakes" made by this administration (if you believe for a moment that the so-called "flawed intelligence" was really to blame, and not that this administration intentionally mislead the nation by promoting the few bits of unreliable yet explosive intelligence that they could find). Now, we are mired in Mess-o-potamia with no exit strategy other than "stay the course" because Dubya can't own up to ever having made a mistake?! He's using the 1,864 dead U.S. soldiers as rationale for "staying the course"?

As John Kerry said during last year's campaign, "How do you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake?". Well, now we know... you make them feel guilty about those who have died before them rather than pissed off at the ones who are actually responsible for their untimely deaths.

MoDo chimes in today with a similar observation (emphasis mine):
"We owe them something," he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion). "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for."

What twisted logic: with no W.M.D., no link to 9/11 and no democracy, now we have to keep killing people and have our kids killed because so many of our kids have been killed already? Talk about a vicious circle: the killing keeps justifying itself.
Twisted logic, indeed.

Frankly though, until the MSM starts to get a little more strident in refuting every one of Subliminal Man's Bush's matra-like invocations of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in every speech he makes on Iraq, it will continue to resonate with the remaining 40% of Americans who still think that Bush's sh*t doesn't stink.

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This is just plain wrong

Today's WaPo reports on a story that I briefly mentioned previously about Uighur's being held in dention at Gitmo despite being cleared of being "enemy combatants. When I had first heard the story on NPR (I think), the Boston lawyer who was representing two Uighurs only mentioned the two. Now, the WaPo reports that there are 15 in this Kafkaesque predicament:
In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.">Chinese Detainees Are Men Without a Country: "In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.
Fifteen men, who did nothing wrong, who were not terrorists (I emphasis were, since they would have every reason to have had a change of heart after being held for over two years in conditions that would be considered criminal if applied to a dog in this country) who have been cleared of charges were a) not told that they had been cleared and b) are still being held against their will.

There is no excuse for this abuse of power. The administration's empty concern that they would be tortured if returned to China is no excuse. If the administration is so concerned about that, and if the administration is one governed by the rule of law, they should have been granted poilitical asylum, not detained under the same conditions as those whom the administration still consider "terrorists".

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Get with the program

I was checking my blog's browser stats. 24% Firefox... exellent!



But, what's with all you IE6.0 users? <grin/> Even the Dept. of Homeland Security thinks you should switch.

Get Firefox!

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Intelligent Falling

The Onion | Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory:
KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held 'theory of gravity' is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.
ROFLMAO!

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Monday, August 22, 2005

New lows, even for Dubya

American Research group has released a new poll:
George W. Bush's overall job approval ratings have dropped from a month ago even as Americans who approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president are turning more optimistic about their personal financial situations according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 33% approve and 62% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 38% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 56% disapprove, and 36% approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 60% disapprove.
Now, that's just gotta hurt.

I'm expecting a terror alert any moment now.

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Lie to me

Juan Cole responds to the recent administration claims of Iranian support of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq:
Anna Badkhen of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has reported from southern Iraq, examines the claims by US officials that Iran is sending bombs to Iraq to be used in the Sunni guerrilla insurgency.

The claim, by Rumsfeld and others, is so ridiculous that the proper response is to fall down laughing and to get off some kicks amidst the hilarity.
The problem is that this is no laughing matter; it is deadly serious.

Quoting from the referenced article (emphasis mine):
Rumsfeld called the smuggling "a problem for the coalition forces ... a problem for the international community, and ultimately ... a problem for Iran. "

British military commanders in Iraq and Iraqi officials are skeptical of the claims. Royal Marines Maj. Gen. Jim Dutton, commander of multinational forces in southeastern Iraq, said there was no proof that the weapons came from Iran, adding that there was "a lot of speculation" and "not many facts" about Iranian involvement with the insurgency.

Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, said the reports were "very much exaggerated," and Iran's defense minister, Ali Shamkhani, last week denied his country's "alleged involvement in bomb explosions."

Other experts point out that it is unlikely that Iran would be fueling an insurgency that is led primarily by Sunnis -- traditional opponents of Shiites -- and also one that is killing numerous Iraqi Shiites as well as U. S. and Iraqi security forces.
After listening to the CNN special, 'Dead Wrong:' Inside an Intelligence Meltdown on XM radio last night driving home from Boston, I can only say that the parallels are striking. The administration is once again, "fixing the facts around the policy". We are being marketed pure speculation as fact. Today's claims of the administration are no more believable than Cheney's statement of fact on MTP in the lead-up to the war in Iraq: "we know with certainty that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear program".

To say that the administration learned anything from the numerous "investigations" into the failed intelligence, and its supposed mistakes in the lead-up to the war in Iraq given this latest line of BS eminating from the highest eschelons of the Bush administration, would require one to believe that they actually made any mistakes.

Unfortunately, they carried out their plan with precision.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Politicians Have Little to Offer To Ease Anguish of Gas Prices

From Friday's WaPo, Jim VandeHei provides us with Politicians Have Little to Offer To Ease Anguish of Gas Prices. I noted the following:
"I wish I could say there is a quick fix, but there is not," said Rep. Bob Beauprez, a Colorado Republican who is expected to face a tough reelection campaign next year. "Everybody is feeling the pinch."
Bullsh*t. The oil companies and their executives aren't feeling the pinch by any stretch of the imagination.

Here's another:
The obvious benefit to consumers is the savings resulting from better gas mileage. But Ben Lieberman, an energy expert at the Heritage Foundation, noted: 'People aren't going to drive their SUV off a cliff, and run out and buy a more economical vehicle.' He added: 'You are talking about something that would take a decade or more to have an effect.' Others say it would take less time, but still years.
Sorry, but this is simply more bullsh*t. If the congress and the administration really wanted to be serious about reducing our dependency on foriegn oil, they could change the current situation in a heartbeat by providing incentives for people to trade-in their low-mileage SUVs for hybrids and/or higher-mileage sedans in conjunction with a "sin" tax on purchase and ownership of low-mileage light truck or SUVs. Exemptions could be made for those whose livings required ownership of a light truck, such as construction, farming, etc..

What is missing from the public discourse on the price of oil is any discussion from the "bully pulpit" (or the media for that matter) of the need of a little personal and corporate sacrifice in the name of national interest. Ridding the nation's highways and byways of Hummers (8-10 mpg), Suburbans and Expeditions (low teens if they are lucky) would go a long ways to reducing demand, which would in turn provide some relief in prices and give the nation a little breathing room to further reduce our dependency on oil through other, alternative means.

President Cheney Bush and the energy lobbyist Republican-controlled congress exercised the epitome of irresponsibility by approving an energy bill that did nothing to either raise the CAFE standards, and/or eliminate the light truck exemption that has helped fuel the increased market for SUVs. It should come as no surprise that the reason for the resistance to removing the exemption is that the auto manufacturers receive a higher margin on these beasts than they do on other models. Hence, they and the oil companies, that benefit from the resulting increased pressures on demand, lobby hard to dissuade your representatives from doing the right thing.

It's all a matter of priorities. We're wasting billions on a war in Iraq that is serving an undefined objective (sorry, but "spreading freedom and democracy to the middle east" or "taking the fight to the terrorists over there, so we don't have to face them here" are only the PR slogans mission du jour; I'm not buying), killing our troops at a rate of 3-4/day and steadily weakening our nation's capacity to defend itself against a real threat). That money could be put to much better, and less deadly, use both to defend our nation against terrorist threats, as well as to help wean ourselves from the raison d'être for this war in the first place; control of the world's dwindling oil reserves.

Want to preserve the tax cuts for the rich? Then predicate their reduced tax rate on the purchase of a fuel-cell powered automobile and 'residential' hydrogen generation plant. That ought to kick-start the hydrogen economy nicely given that the tax cuts mostly benefit those in the top 1% income earners (about 1,000,000 households). They could easily afford the extra expense that would be largely off-set by reduced taxes.

There may not be anything that our politicians can do to reduce the price at the pump tomorrow or next week, but there is plenty that can be done now that would go a long way to reducing the price we pay next summer and the summer after that, when the situation will only be worse.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hell hath no fury...

... like a Gold Star mom scorned -- Cindy Sheehan: Hypocrites and Liars:
I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMDs or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the U.S. military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.

Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called 'fair and balanced' mainstream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it by telling any truth of their own. Now they have to twist, distort, lie, and scrutinize anything I have ever said when they never scrutinize anything that George Bush said or is saying.
Ain't it the truth.

Frank Rich has more in this Sunday's column, The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan:
True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a "crackpot" by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real."

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor (a failure that persists today, eight months after he spoke up). If we focus on Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent W.M.D.'s.

The hope this time was that we'd change the subject to Cindy Sheehan's "wacko" rhetoric and the opportunistic left-wing groups that have attached themselves to her like barnacles. That way we would forget about her dead son. But if much of the 24/7 media has taken the bait, much of the public has not.
Rich makes some good points (as usual) but I think missed one important point. Cindy Sheehan has nothing to lose. She's already lost everything that meant anything to her, her son. Bush, on the other hand, has everything to lose. While the Rove smear-machine is in full whirlitzer mode, and none of it is sticking because she is fighting back (unlike Kerry, who tried to ride out the August storm for too long) by calling them on their lies.

What's worse for the Swift Boaters is that she is not alone. Rove can't Swift Boat (which is now a verb) all of the Gold Star mom's that have joined Cindy in her vigil in Crawford, or in the satelite Camp Casey's around the country, there are simply too many of them. Besides, he's a little too preoccupied these days with troubles of his own.

Dubya could have nipped this in the bud right at the start by walking out to his gate and inviting her in to hear her out, but it is too late for that now. Why didn't he do it? Ask yourself why he had his minions screen attendees at his "Town Hall" rallys. He can't handle criticism face to face. He's a coward.

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Catch me if you can (part II)


I've continued my rapid ascent in ranking since my previous update on my participation in the WCG:
Totals:
Total Run Time (y:d:h:m:s) (Rank) 0:024:16:24:00 (#39,374)
Points Generated (Rank) 15,684 (#37,881)
Results Returned (Rank) 55 (#38,393)
Averages:
Avg. Run Time Per Calendar Day (y:d:h:m:s) 0:000:18:30:45
Avg. Run Time Per Result (y:d:h:m:s) 0:000:10:46:15
Avg. Points Per Hour of Run Time 26.47535
Avg. Points Per Calendar Day 490.12500
Avg. Points Per Result 285.16364
Avg. Results Per Calendar Day 1.71875
Turns out, I am in the top 2,400 members in terms of points generated/day and in the top 2,600 members for total runtime/day based on yesterday's results (1,004 points and 0:001:13:08:38 runtime) which should ensure a continued rapid ascent, for a while at least. Note that my averages are skewed low because I added the second device after a couple of weeks experience (without issues) with my first. It will be a while, though, before I crash the 5,000 barrier as I am currently 119,142 points shy of the 5,000th ranked member.

Since I first posted on the WCG, the number of devices connected has grown by nearly 10,000 to 134,221 and the number of aggregate years runtime generated has swelled by more than 1,000 years, rapidly approaching 15,000 years. All that in less than a month's time!

My experience to date has been problem-free with the exception that my laptop is a little warmer when I first pick it up in the morning. I've noticed no performance degredation what-so-ever. Given that the extra cycles are going to a good cause, if you haven't already joined, I would encourage you to do so.

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Enabling Danger (part one)

Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow, writes about the implications of the Able Danger story in this must-read post (emphasis mine):
Did Able Danger exist? And, if so, where is the chart that supposedly identifies Atta?

If the Able Danger chart exists, I think our government and its intelligence agencies had best locate it. It would seem that the chart might hold the names of other terrorists bent on murdering Americans. Why would such a chart go missing? Why wouldn’t our intelligence agencies want to utilize the wealth of information contained in that chart? In other words, shouldn’t we want to follow up on the other names listed on the chart? I know I would feel a lot better if I knew as a fact that every name on the chart was investigated, wouldn’t you? Or, if we do have the chart, I wonder if any of the other names on the Able Danger chart match any of the individuals’ identities in Gitmo? Why hasn’t anyone in our government given an accounting of where this chart is and whether the information held within the chart has been properly capitalized upon? Where is the urgency to locate this valuable document that contains another approximately 200 terrorists’ names? (As an aside, I find our entire government’s handling of this issue extremely uncomfortable. If the chart did not exist, then a clear, emphatic statement should have been issued by each entity: the Pentagon, the 9/11 Commission, and the Administration. Think about it. If you genuinely know that something never existed, then you can flatly deny its existence. Unless, it turns up, and then you're on the record denying its existence. It seems to me, that the deafening silence and hedging comments made by all those involved—comments along the lines of "well, if it turns out the chart exists, then…"— are very suspicious and quite disturbing. Its like nobody wants to get caught lying to the American public, but yet, nobody wants to confirm the Able Danger chart’s existence because the implications of the existence of such a chart is so damning. So now we have all of our government leaders and experts clamming up and acting like a bunch of potential criminal teenage boys in Aruba.)

Additionally, some questions have been raised about the ability of DIA to label or "identify" Atta as an al Qaeda operative as early as 2000. To me, it would seem logical that DIA was able to do so, after all, in 2000 Atta was living in Hamburg, Germany and having regular contacts with other known al Qaeda operatives namely Ramzi Binalshibh, Said Bahaji, Zakariya Essabar, Muhammed Zammar, Mounir Motassadeq, Abdelghani Mzoudi, and Mamoun Darkazanli. We know that the German government had Atta’s cell—the Hamburg cell—under surveillance and we also know that our CIA was conducting parallel surveillance during the same time period. Information surrounding the Hamburg cell and the surveillance is documented throughout the German trials of Mzoudi and Mottasedeq—two of the al Qaeda operatives that were prosecuted for their ties to the 9/11 attacks but eventually released after the United States refused to cooperate with the German courts by sharing intelligence evidence linking the men to the 9/11 plot. (Both men are walking the streets of Germany today as free men because our government refused to share evidence linking them to the 9/11 plot—something that frustrates many of the 9/11 families since we have yet to hold one terrorist accountable for the 9/11 attacks.) The surveillance of the Hamburg cell is also mentioned in overseas news reports from both London and Germany. One account even goes so far as to say that the CIA attempted to "flip" one of Atta’s comrades (Darkazanli) into being an informant for the CIA. Clearly, by December 2000, the CIA knew at least that Atta was a person of interest, so why should it seem so hard for the agency and others in our government to understand how DIA was able to do so, too?

Surveillance of the Hijackers—the proof.

The speed by which our government was able to accumulate such a vast amount of information immediately following the 9/11 attacks (in less than 24 hours) is the most persuasive proof that our government had the hijackers under its surveillance. FBI agents descended upon the very flight schools (out of the thousands of flight schools in our country) that the hijackers attended within two hours of the attacks. They were seen removing files from the flight schools buildings. Furthermore, photos of the hijackers and details about their activities in the final days before the attacks were also immediately presented to the American people. I mean you are talking about an intelligence apparatus that according to official accounts was completely in the dark about the plotting and planning of the 9/11 attacks. They — our intelligence agencies — knew nothing about the operatives living in this country—the operatives that were fully imbedded and openly training in our flight schools, partaking in practice flights across this country, receiving wire transfers from al Qaeda sources, and repeatedly traveling in and out of this country to visit other terrorists and terrorist facilities. Yet, for a group of agencies caught completely flat-footed on the day of 9/11, they certainly were able to get their act together at a time when most—if not all-- of this nation’s citizens were brought to their knees.

Additionally, when one carefully reads the 9/11 chronology and information provided in the public record, it becomes increasingly clear that the CIA’s repeated failure to share information with the FBI about two of the 9/11 hijackers—al Mihdhar and al Hazmi-- was purposeful. There exists at least seven instances between January 2000 and September 11th, 2001, that the CIA withheld vital information from the FBI about these two hijackers who were inside this country training for the attacks. Once, twice, maybe even three times could be considered merely careless oversights. But at least seven documented times? To me, that suggests something else. (To read about these instances, I suggest you read 9/11 materials relating to the "watchlisting issue" involving al Mihdhar and al Hazmi which is a story so detailed, that it deserves its own lengthy blog.)

The 9/11 Commission

At a bare minimum, the 9/11 Commission is not being honest with the American people. First, the Commission feigned total ignorance about Able Danger. Then, they admitted that they remembered hearing something about it. Next, they acknowledged that they were briefed about the program but found a discrepancy in the dates provided by the Able Danger informant, and therefore decided that the information was irrelevant to their investigation. Convenient excuses. But, wrong. Because, I happen to be one of the 9/11 widows that received personal commitments from each of the 9/11 Commissioners that they would track down every lead, and turn over every rock so as to provide the most thorough and definitive account of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. Last week’s revelations about Able Danger prove that the Commission has not been above-board with their investigation. Nor has their investigation been anywhere near exhaustive.

Now, legally speaking, the 9/11 Commissioners were mandated to provide a full accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. If the Able Danger operation and its accompanying information turn out to be true, then necessarily each Commissioner has broken the law in that they failed to fulfill their legislative mandate in providing a full and just accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. However, if we also come to learn that Atta’s or any of the other hijackers names were mentioned in the Able Danger chart, I think this nation will have bigger problems to deal with than accusing the 9/11 Commission of not following their mandate in providing a full accounting to the American people. As with most things in life, only time will tell.
Seriously, you need to read the whole post. Frankly, she's right. There has never been a credible explanation as to how we were able to know, with such certainty, who the 9/11 hijackers were so damned quickly.

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Stories in America

Here's a fascinating site: Stories In America whose description reads:
Journalist Rose Aguilar leaves the liberal bubble of San Francisco to bring you personal stories from people living in states that overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush for President.
Here's an excerpt from one of her latest entries, entitled Conversations at the Gas Pump (emphasis mine):
Mary Fowler, 54, Housekeeper

Why do you think gas prices are so high?

From what I've read, they say it's because of the Iraq war. I've also read about alternatives to gas and even automobiles that use alternatives, but for some reason, the big oil companies bought up the patents for that, so it's not just the Iraq war and it's not President Bush's fault. He gets blamed for everything, but it's not his fault. It's just greed from other people. I feel like the president is doing everything he can to help.

Like what?

For one thing, he is protecting our country by being in Iraq. We can't pull out too soon because they'll think we're chicken and they'll try to attack us again. We can't pull out until they're able to fend for themselves. Those who are strong are supposed to help those who are weak. We are strong and we're that way for a reason. We've always been peacemakers. As long as we keep the peace, we'll be blessed.

So you believe we're acting as peacemakers in Iraq?

Yes and we're protecting the innocent. Muslims want to rule the world. They want to take over the whole world. That's their evil purpose.

Do you know any Muslims?

I've ministered to them. A few lived in my apartment building and they invited us over for dinner. I went with a Christian guy. They were nice. The food was nice. At the end, we said, 'Can we pray for you?' And they said yes, if we can pray for you. We prayed for the peace of god. Most of them are very harsh. There's no tenderness or love.

Do a lot of Muslims live in this area? Have you met any others besides the ones who invited you over for dinner?

Most of them live in Tulsa.

Why do you think we're in Iraq? People say we're freeing the Iraqis one minute and then change their opinion and say they're horrible people.

Soldiers over there say we don't get half the news. There's so much good going on. The majority of the people appreciate the help. The majority, not the weirdos who are deceived.

Where do you get your information about the war?

The Bible and the 700 Club. I also listen to preachers who know what's going on. Pat Robertson.


What do you like about Bush?

He's a praying man of god. He's a family man and he does care. He gets blamed for everything. If this country would turn back to god, things would get better. You can't go on killing babies and allowing homosexual stuff to stay. We do love the people, but we don't love their actions.

Do you think talking about homosexuality does anything to improve healthcare or poverty?

I guess for me I've always had to trust the lord for the next job, which is usually housecleaning. If you have your eyes on him, he'll take care of you. The government can't help us.

Do you always vote?

Yes, I volunteered for the Republican Party and I enjoyed it very much.

Have you always been Republican?

When I first registered, I was a Democrat. Just from studying in school, I thought that's what I wanted to be because I believed in government for the people, by the people and of the people. But after I was saved, I realized the Republican beliefs are me so I switched and I'm glad I did.
Can't you just feel the cognitive dissonance? Muslims are evil, yet the only Muslim people she's met personally were very nice, even invited her over to dinner and prayed with her. Muslims are evil, want to take over the world. We're in Iraq to free them.

She gets her news about Iraq from the authority, the Bible and Pat Robertson (I guess because he's reading it directly from God's own TelePrompTer). He "knows what's going on" over there. I guess I never realized that the Bible was being constantly updated with current events in Iraq.

Here's another interesting post:
How does it make you feel when you hear politicians talk about veterans?

Dennis Hammons: They need to put their money where their mouth is. They're liars. Look at their voting records. If they supported our troops, Iraqi war veterans that come back with missing legs wouldn't have to wait six months to get an appointment. Until that's taken care of, they're lying. You don't send people to war without taking care of their injuries. These politicians don't think about it like that. If it was their sons, what would they think? Also, here's something else that gets no attention. If you're a disabled veteran, you're not getting a job. I put diabled veteran on my job applications and couldn't get a job. As soon as I put veteran and left off disabled, I got a job. I know personally, I'm not letting my kids join the military and have their lives destroyed.
She spoke to two disabled vets who have basically been screwed. Tells a very different story about how the administration "supports our troops". Sure, Rove and company will use the slogan, but its nothing but empty rhetoric. I'd like to see a poll taken of disabled Iraq war vets, asking them if they felt that they have been treated fairly and were receiving the support that they need from the Pentagon. My guess would be that Rummy would not want the public (or congress) see the results of that poll.

We tend only to hear the stories that the Pentagon wants us to hear, like the one about the chopper pilot who lost his leg but chose to remain in the service and fly again (with a specially tricked out chopper for handicapped pilots). Makes you want to enlist yourself, doesn't it... because essentially, that's what the story was meant to be, a recruiting tool. It's propaganda. They won't tell you about the thousands and thousands of guys and gals returning from Iraq with PTSD -- who aren't getting any help, or have to fight tooth and nail to get the treatment they deserve (the Pentagon is even going as far as to require that all who have been granted disability for PTSD have to prove it all over again).

This AP story reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Thirty percent of U.S. troops returning from the Iraq war have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home, the Army's surgeon general said Thursday.

The problems include anxiety, depression, nightmares, anger and an inability to concentrate, said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley and other military medical officials. A smaller number of troops, often with more severe symptoms, were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a serious mental illness.

The 30 percent figure is in contrast to the 3 percent to 5 percent diagnosed with a significant mental health issue immediately after they leave the war theater, according to Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a military psychiatrist on Kiley's staff. A study of troops who were still in the combat zone in 2004 found 13 percent experienced significant mental health problems.

[...]

Military medical officials, however, cautioned against people reading their data as suggesting the war had driven so many soldiers over the edge. Instead, they characterized the anxiety and stress as normal reactions to combat, seeing dead and mutilated bodies, and feeling helpless to stop a violent situation.
Does your head hurt as much as mine from the cognitive dissonance of that last statement?! It's not the war. Instead, its the reaction to combat, the visions of dead, mutilated bodies and the feeling of helplessness.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Yup, he's just a regular guy

The Daily Pick: Congratulations President Bush: You Broke the Record!!!:
Heartfelt congratulations to President Bush, who on Friday August 19th breaks Ronald Reagan's all-time record for most vacation days. The old record was 335 days, though Reagan took his sweet time of eight years to accomplish this feat. President Bush did it in nearly half the time. And with another two weeks of vaction on tap, he's obviously not content with simply breaking the record, he's going to smoke that record right out of the hole.

Great going, President Bush! We knew you could do it!
Yessiree! He's just a regular guy, alright. After all, almost everyone gets 10 2/3 week's of vacation a year, don't they? Of course, he'd remind us that it is "hard work" and that "he needs to get on with his life" so he can "make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy". I'd have to say that judging by his track record of abysmal decision-making, his strategy isn't exactly working.

Hey Dubya, how's that war in Iraq going? Any luck finding Osama? Oh, that's right, you don't think much about him any longer. He's been marginalized.

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Before you jump to conclusions, suggest you RTFS

Mark Baker with yet another rant about the supposed absence of a formal binding to the SOAP binding framework in the WS-Addressing CR:
Now, off in SOAP/HTTP land, we have a set of properties of the default binding which are required in order to construct a SOAP/HTTP message. Amoungst these properties are ImmediateDestination - 'where the envelope is to be sent' - and then either Action or Web-Method (or both - who knows?!) which define the - you guessed it - 'the action that is requested be done'. So, you'd think that WS-Addressing would have to define how to populate those properties from a WS-A infoset, ideally as a function of things like wsa:To and wsa:Action. AFAICT, it doesn't.
Uhm... Mark, I would suggest that next time, before you jump to (inaccurate) conclusions that you RTFS. In fact, the WS-Addressing SOAP Binding spec does define a binding/mapping of the WS-Addressing properties to the SOAP1.2 binding framework feature for the http://www.w3.org/2003/05/soap/features/action/Action property. It does the same for SOAP1.1's SOAPAction.

As for the http://www.w3.org/2003/05/soap/mep/ImmediateDestination property, where in the SOAP1.2 spec does it say that that property must come from the SOAP infoset? Also, as others have pointed out, who says that the ImmediateDestination has to have anything to do with the ultimate receiver (which would be the closest thing to wsa:To but which is not referenced in the SOAP binding framework)?

Nice try, Mark. Better luck next time.

4 Comments:

  • "who says that the ImmediateDestination has to have anything to do with the ultimate receiver"

    You might want to try that RTFS thing yourself, Chris - the SOAP spec does when it describes the value of the ImmediateDestination property;

    "An identifier (URI) that denotes the responding SOAP node"

    -- http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/REC-soap12-part2-20030624/#tabreqcon

    By Blogger Mark, at August 19, 2005 12:06 PM  

  • There's also this definition: "The identifier of the immediate destination of an outbound message." I believe that the definition to which you refer is possibly the odd man out and should have been replaced with the above but was not caught on the final review. I take ImmediateDestination to mean the destination to which the message is first sent. Given that a SOAP message path may have intermediaries, that address may be very different that that of the ultimate receiver. Note that that term is not used in this context.

    By Blogger Chris, at August 19, 2005 12:12 PM  

  • This is all part of the request/response MEP, don't forget, so there has to be a means to identify the thing providing the response. If ImmediateDestination were for addressing the next hop, then you'd need another property for targetting the responding node. So either that's a rather glaring omission, or my interpretation is the correct one.

    By Blogger Mark, at August 19, 2005 1:01 PM  

  • Moreover, if ImmediateDestination is for the next hop, then how would a SOAP/HTTP intermediary such as a firewall be handled? In such a case, the SOAP/HTTP client could open a TCP connection to the firewall at its IP address & port, and then send the message with Request-URI/ImmediateDestination set to the ultimate destination, perhaps a SOAP node offering a stock quote service. That's consistent with both the SOAP & HTTP specs.

    On the other hand, putting the ultimate destination URI in wsa:To, and setting ImmediateDestination to target the firewall, is incompatible with HTTP and with existing HTTP firewalls. It's also incompatible with existing SOAP/HTTP firewalls, since none of them know about wsa:To.

    By Blogger Mark, at August 19, 2005 2:19 PM  

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Nothing to see here, move along...

Today's WaPo reports Prewar Memo Warned of Gaps in Iraq Plans:
One month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, three State Department bureau chiefs warned of 'serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance' in a secret memorandum prepared for a superior.

The State Department officials, who had been discussing the issues with top military officers at the Central Command, noted that the military was reluctant 'to take on 'policing' roles' in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The three officials warned that 'a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally.'

[...]

A senior State Department official said yesterday that the memo provided no new information. "This isn't a new story," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of department rules. "There's been no shortage of revisiting of decisions made and actions taken."
Actually, in today's press gaggle, Larry DiRita said that it was "old news". Which is somewhat true, but largely disingenuous. There was this previous story about the Pentagon's post-war planning by Knight Ridder in October 2004 that was largely ignored at the time:
Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.
What was NOT known at the time was that, as reported in the WaPo today, the State Department was issuing shrill warnings to the Pentagon and the administration that they were about to step in deep doo doo because they hadn't adequately planned for the post-invasion threats to security and stability.

It is also old news that there were internecine battles between Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon, that Rumsfeld threw out the carefully crafted post-war plans developed at State, and that he disregarded the warnings of his top generals (Shinseki) because he thought he knew better.

What is clear now is that the State department was right. It has been amply borne out by the facts on the ground that Rumsfeld and his neocon cohorts in the OSP got nearly everything completely wrong and that has left us in the situation we face today.

It is "old news" that Bush should have fired Rumsfeld long ago. However, it is equally clear that it is "old news" that Bush hasn't got the balls to fire Rumsfeld, Condi, Wolfowitz, Rove, or anyone else in his administration that has left us with this clusterf*** we call Mess-o-potamia.

The level of talk on the "internets" about a withdrawal from Iraq is increasing steadily. Today, Sen. Hagel (R-Neb) said:
"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.
It seems pretty clear to me that, as Frank Rich suggested, we are past the tipping point. Cindy Sheehan may not be getting the 24/7 coverage that Terri Shiavo got (she's got the 24/7 coverage of the BTK killer's sentencing with which to compete), but she isn't going away and she is being covered in the MSM, daily. The more the right-wing smear-meisters like Hannity, Limbaugh and convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy ratchet up their anti-Cindy rhetoric, the more you know that she has hit a nerve. However, only the die-hard fanatical dittoheads are swallowing the party line this time. Public opinion is rapidly deteriorating on Bush's approval rating and on his handling of the GWOT GSAVE GWOT and the war in Iraq.

Must be about time for another terror alert. Oops, check that... developing...

Update: check that... Cindy Sheehan did leave Crawford:
The grieving woman who started an antiwar demonstration near President Bush’s ranch nearly two weeks ago left the makeshift camp Thursday after her mother in California had a stroke.
Still, I believe that the movement she bagan will not fade away.

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David Ignatius is an Idiot

In his op-ed piece in the WaPo today, David Ignatius pens this dreck - 'Hard Slog' for Bush:
President Bush is saying the right thing about Iraq, which is that there is no easy fix for a war that his defense secretary correctly termed 'a long, hard slog.' But Bush is conveying this message in a detached way that upsets and angers growing numbers of Americans. The evaporation of political support at home is palpable. If the administration can't explain its war aims better, it may soon face a Vietnam-style tipping point.

First, let's look at what the president is doing right: At a time when anguished Americans are calling for a quick withdrawal from Iraq, Bush is telling them a painful truth.
Bullsh*t. The president has yet to level with the country. It isn't because he is communicating in a "detached way", he has simply repeated the same talking points he's been using all along: that "we're in a 'war on terror'", that "we're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here", and that "we're making progress" in training Iraqis to defend themselves, that "we're laying the foundations for peace and democracy".

The administration can't explain its war aims, because to do so would be the fastest path to impeachment as they are both immoral and illegal.
"Pulling the troops out [now] would send a terrible signal to the enemy," he said last Thursday in Crawford, Tex. And Bush was right to avoid confirming any big reduction in U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year. Such a bring-the-troops-home message might buy him a respite in the public opinion polls, but it would undermine a fragile Iraqi government at a crucial time.
This drivel fails to mention the fact that the reason that there is an insurgency is a direct result of our occupation. This nonsense is predicated on believing the administration's claims that the insurgency is fueled mostly by foreign terrorists sponsored by al Qaeda, which the pentagon admits is clearly not the case. The insurgency is fueled by Iraqis who do not want to be occupied and by former Baathist party members who want a return to power. If Bush hadn't ordered the Iraqi army to be disbanded, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now, having to train a new one from scratch. It's too late to put that genie back in the bottle. It takes years to develop a trained army from scratch, yet "we're making good progress" and the president is "pleased with the progress" we're making in training the Iraqi troops, despite the fact that at best, according to the Pentagon, there's 2,500 - 3,000 troops who could stand on their own without U.S. support.
Finally, I credit the spirit of realpolitik that undergirds the administration's upbeat talk. Last Sunday's story in The Post headlined "U.S. Lowers Sights on What Can Be Achieved in Iraq" mirrored what you hear privately from generals and senior officials. They know the war is going badly, and they have been crafting a strategy that puts more responsibility on Iraqis and less on U.S. troops. That doesn't mean an American withdrawal, but it does mean a lower U.S. profile, and a mission focused on training and advising Iraqi security forces.
Realpolitik?! You have got to be kidding me. The cognitive dissonance created by the disconnect between the rhetoric out of the White House and that from the military brass (as opposed to their political masters) in the Pentagon is enough to make one's head explode. The administration hasn't bought into the realpolitik at all. Bush is still safely ensconced in his fantasy world, where seldom is heard, a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.
I have no doubt that Bush grieves for every fallen soldier. But he undercuts his leadership role with his seeming insensitivity to Cindy Sheehan. Whatever her personal quirks, this grieving mother has become a symbol for the families who are paying the real cost of the war. Once she began her vigil in Crawford, a presidential listening mission would have seemed like a no-brainer -- except at this White House, which appears to regard any concession to a critic as a mistake. Bush reinforced this appearance of insensitivity in a comment Saturday that was quoted by Cox News Service. He said that while he wants to be "thoughtful and sensitive" to people who want to talk to him, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life."
More cluelessness, and the prerequisite smear of Cindy Sheehan. What an asshole. First off, Bush has demonstrated since day one, that he couldn't give a rats ass for our fallen soldiers. He hasn't attended a single funeral. Not one. Not even to honor the loss of twenty (20) troops to a single Ohio battalion, despite the fact that many of his die-hard supporters on the right including the editorial page of the WSJ urged him to do so. No, it was far more important that he "get on with his life" despite the fact that none of those twenty would be getting on with theirs. What a sociopath.
Ignatius closes with this incongruous statement (emphasis mine):
The measure of leadership isn't dealing with success but dealing with difficulty. Bush is now in that bitter cockpit. Somehow the president must find a way to level with the country and build support for a sustainable policy that puts more of the burden on Iraqis. A good start for Bush would be to come back to Washington early from Texas and start thinking how the nation as a whole can share in the sacrifices required by this long, hard slog.
Excuse me, but how the hell does that reconcile with the statement in the second paragraph that Bush is "telling a painful truth". American support for the president, his policies as regards Iraq and the war on terror is not at 34% because the first rancher has done a poor job of communicating. It is because they now realize that the premise for war was based on lies and deceit. This was a war of choice, not necessity. The tipping point is not something that the administration "will soon face", it has long since passed. 56% now believe that the administration lied about the threat posed by Saddam and Iraq, and lied about the (non-existant) connections with al Qaeda and 9/11. Seems to me that that is way beyond the tipping point.

At least Ignatius' column is counter-balanced by this one by Harold Meyerson:
Indeed, the Bush presidency is perilously close to one of the greatest, and surely the strangest, foreign and military policy failures in American history. We lost in Vietnam, to be sure, but Vietnam would have gone to the Communists whether or not we intervened. The dissolution of Iraq, however, should it proceed further, is the direct consequence of Bush's decision to intervene unilaterally and of the particular kind of occupation that he mandated. And that dissolution, we should recall, goes well beyond the political. Unemployment in Iraq exceeds 50 percent. Electrical power is on, in midsummer Baghdad, for four hours a day.

At great expense in resources and human life, we have substituted one living hell for another in Iraq. Things may yet turn out better than I fear they will. But right now there's a sickeningly good prospect that we will have set in motion a predictable chain of events culminating in the creation of both a sphere of terrorist activity and a sub-state allied with the mullahs of Iran.

Last week U.S. forces in Iraq discovered what looked to be a cache of chemical weapons, but determined that the arsenal had been assembled by the insurgent thugs who emerged after Hussein's fall. We have created the very dangers we intervened to prevent. Some policy. Some president.
The only way that Bush could possibly redeem himself at this point would be to address the American public, and the rest of the world for that matter, to apologize for leading the country into an unnecessary war of his choosing, admit that he f***ed up big-time in every aspect of his administration's post-invasion policies and return the country to adult supervision by both his and Cheney's resignation. Of course, that would never happen (and worse yet, we'd be stuck with Dennis Hastert as president... I'm sickened to even think of the prospect).

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

WTF?!

(Via MaxSpeak) A New (London) Low:
Those who believe in the adage 'when it rains, it pours' might take the tale of the plaintiffs in Kelo v. New London as a cue to buy two of every animal and a load of wood from Home Depot. The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It's a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

In some cases, their debt could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as it was in 2000 .
Someone please pinch me... I must be having a bad dream. They are charging back rent?! For property that they confiscated? That's pretty f***ed up. What's the matter with this country? Has everyone gone mad from the mercury emissions from the power plants?

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