Monthly Archives: December 2006

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z Dec 20-29, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Things Change

One of the things I think we overlook in America is the tendencies of capitalism, to acquire more capital, is in and of itself morally and ethically neutral until there is a collision of interests. Basically the same things squirrels do with their nuts, and so that’s what most people here endeavor to do do with capital, acquire more, which they spend on stuff for wealth creation, as I suppose they do everywhere else that isn’t in a thousand mile radius of here. And this is just human nature, it’s what people do.

I’ve never meet two people who have ever agreed on what is right and wrong all the time either. Somewhere in the minds of every individual their religion or philosophy helps judge every conflict of interest to their own individual satisfaction, per the squirrels and capitalists above. Some people use self interest more than religion, philosophy, or the lack thereof, than others.

When it comes to politics I am observing a tendency to be quite a bit more towards the skeptical side during the months prior to an election, whence I revert to cynicism afterwards as things change from promise to reality. I tend to go off on elected people in ways that I don’t really think are conducive to opening a dialog with them, because they know I know they can’t deliver any campaign promise what they don’t get tribal approval in some sort of way, (so grifters and graft are going to move opinion in ways that religion and philosophies of public opinion can only pretend to,) and so I always have something to put them on the defensive with politically, just as many other people do to. New and improved better human being? Nah.

People are the most interesting thing in the world for observation, even if they are deadwood in someone else’s estimation, because they are for the most part, and conspicuous so online, revealing of human nature. That’s why a lot of presenters got in trouble during the election and use paper, my bad, because human nature can be so humorous if the common humanity of the butt of the joke is acknowledged by the butty. Snark is like that but different, what would Miss Debrorah say?, tone, oh no no, I said that, hmmm. Oh yeah she didn’t mean that either.

All this I think has a lot to do with the new Manufactured Media starting to say things like wanker, and intertubes and such. (I read intertubes in some comments the other day and it had spelunking written all over it.) That is one enduring characteristic of the American people, they all like to be cool, so there’s always a new fad. “From Chords to Condos”, ought to be a Neil Young song. Yep, get in the Winnebago and go work on the Indian Reservation when I retire, see Murica.

So now we will get a whole new Manufactured Media called big brother, because the network will want to know what your doing like the NSA, so they can snarf your ideas, and cop that peepers pleasure watching you pick at your nostril, just as much as the three letter boys of America, and that M1 MI 56 or whatever there mate, the other four English speaking countries call their spooks and snoops. Orwell’s television is a natural development for fads and control. Someday you may even see yourself on TV watching TV, citizen hero.

Before I go on tour however I will try to find at least ten nice things to say about all the people I’ve zinged over the years and work them into some unread tome discovered by evolved earthworms in the nuclear winter. We will be contributing to the future of life in unimaginable ways together.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Billmon

Gone but not forgotten

YELLOW RIVER

So long, boy, you can take my place
I got my papers, I got my pay
So pack my bags and I’ll be on my way, to Yellow River

Put my gun down, the war is won
Fill my glass high, the time has come
I’m goin’ back to the place that I love, Yellow River

Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my blood, it’s the place I love

Got no time for explanations, got no time to lose
Tomorrow night you’ll find me sleepin’ underneath the moon
And Yellow River

Cannon fire lingers in my mind
I’m so glad that I’m still alive
And I’ve been gone for such a long time, from Yellow River

I remember the nights were cool
I can still see the water pool
And I remember the girl that I knew, from Yellow River

Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my blood, it’s the place I love

Got no time for explanations, got no time to lose
Tomorrow night you’ll find me sleepin’ underneath the moon
And Yellow River

Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my mind and in my eyes
Yellow River, Yellow River, is in my blood, it’s the place I love

“A Hell of a Gamble”

I would suppose surprise is not part of the military planning.

Rather See the Whole Thing…”

Oh Oh Oh, Hairy Christmas

Xmas malware frenzy

Here comes hax a box
Here comes hax a box
Hax a box boxing day

May as read this on the redundancy of intertubes;

Taiwan earthquake shakes internet

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Most Overlooked Blog

Arms and influence –The political uses of violence, for good or bad.

Check out the Core topic links on the left. Who knows you might actually learn something.

Saddam bids a Goodnight

Full text: the Saddam Hussein ‘letter’

ht KPRC

Rather than update

Linkity link link link on the previous post.

The Hypocrisy of Pro-life Christianity

This post is still here, but since it is posted IMHO in the wrong fora, carries spiritual thinking in a political glass, and from my re-reading is directed at the wrong audience, This was the best compromise I could come up with. I apologize to the rank and file layman Christians, since what is written is very much not what you may be used to hearing. I unfortunately am not paid to teach what the Church pays priests et al to teach. I will indeed find the proper fora in the years to come, and God willing, I have yet to finished speaking to the enemy at the gates.

ne of the lost concepts of Christianity is that of the resurrection of the dead, which is a tenet of the Creeds, and which modern Christians recite almost every Sunday, and upon death they then magically separate their soul from the body and the soul floats away to heaven to do who knows what, all the while not noticing the contradiction between their speech of recitation and thoughts of the Pearly Gates. From these I am to draw spiritual guidance?

When the Apostles write of those sleeping in death, then we must take that as a literal understanding of early Church’s position, which follows from the Scriptures themselves;

Ecc 9:1-12 For all this I gave to heart, even to explain all this, that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. Whether love or hatred, man does not know all that is before them. All happens alike to all; one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him who sacrifices, and to him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who swears is as he that fears an oath.

This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event to all. Yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they are alive, and after that they go to those who died. For one who is chosen to be among all the living, there is hope. For a living dog is better than a dead lion.

For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything; nor do they have any more a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy has now perished; nor do they any longer have a part forever in all that is done under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God now is pleased with your works. Let your garments be white at every time; and let your head lack no ointment. Look on life with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which He gave you under the sun, all the days of your vanity. For that is your share in this life, and in your labor which you as a laborer do under the sun.

All that your hand finds to do, do it with your strength. For there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, there where you go. I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the mighty; nor even bread to the wise; nor even riches to the men of discernment; nor even favor to knowing men. For time and occurrence happen to them all. For man also does not know his time. As the fish that are taken in the evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the trap, like them are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.

I have highlighted a very important thing here. When you die, YOU cease to be. It is in the resurrection of the dead, those who have fallen asleep in death, that we can see the implications of the Divine name, the causative of “to be”.

The rub then, as I see it, is at what point does the fetus come to be an image of the living God? I do not know, and neither does anyone else either. Jeremiah wrote that from the time he was conceived he was known by God, so that the more conservative interpretation is given validity in Scripture.

One of the major weaknesses of using the Old Testament as a basis for Christian living is that it has already been proven to be an impossibility for man to conform completely with the commands. The other is that we are not under the Law covenant, but a new and better covenant, one of love. Given the proclivity of the wars amongst the Christians then one must also surmise that it is impossible to adhere to all the tenets of love as well.

If we as Christians cannot comply with our own commandments to love as we wished to be loved, then we cannot demand or insist that those who do not share our faith should conform to our demands. Remove the beam from your own eyes, then you will be able to more clearly how to remove the splinter from your neighbors eye.

If we are to insist that life is a right, then we cannot support wars, or executions, of any sort.

This is not the position of the Christian Churches, who follow Augustine’s Just War lies, and so they themselves, as judges of the non believers, judge their own selves as non believers, because they subvert the Commandments of God through Christ, so as to impose their laws on believers as well as nonbelievers and they become judges of laws not doers of law.

Given the history of the Church which very few Christians even know, much less the Scriptures, we stand condemned by the world of hypocrisy. Look around you for God’s sake!

The richest nation in the world filled with Christians proclaims its’ faith with its’ racism, poverty, exploitation and wars. If we are to condemn abortion then let us also condemn these other things that are the outworking of the flesh as well. If we are to remain silent on these others, then we should remain silent on abortion as well.

Until then, non believers will note our hypocrisy, and in our so doing, we are turning the non believers away from the Christ. Is it any wonder then that Jesus was found to be amongst the tax collectors, harlots and sinners of his day, and not those who were considered righteous by the world of his day? I would surmise that things have not changed one iota.

If one then believe in the resurrection and holds to life beginning at conception, then one must also hold out a hope for the resurrection of these ones also. If they are to be alive in the new age then they have not died at all, but are sleeping in death with all the others that have passed before, and will pass after them.

If we believe that there is an age to come, then this age is not the reality, and “where is your sting now death?” Do not become heated up at unrighteousness;

Col 3:1-7 If, then, you were raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is sitting at the right of God; Psa. 110:1 mind the things above, not the things on the earth. For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. Whenever Christ our life is revealed, then also you will be revealed with Him in glory.

Then put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry; on account of which things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience, among whom you also walked at one time, when you were living in these.

Well let’s start the top ten countdowns

The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006

10. Hackable Passports

This is a good start as is pointed out in the article, and the fix? Smash the chip with a hammer.

As Cory Doctorow points out, this is potentially a way to reap the benefits of RFID without paying the cost:

Up until now, the standard answer to privacy concerns with RFIDs is to just kill them — put your new US Passport in a microwave for a few minutes to nuke the chip. But with an RFID firewall, it might be possible to reap the benefits of RFID without the cost.

Of course there are firewalkers too, so YMMV.

Looking at Global Healthcare

The Challenge of Global Health

The fact that the world is now short well over four million health-care workers, moreover, is all too often ignored. As the populations of the developed countries are aging and coming to require ever more medical attention, they are sucking away local health talent from developing countries. Already, one out of five practicing physicians in the United States is foreign-trained, and a study recently published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that if current trends continue, by 2020 the United States could face a shortage of up to 800,000 nurses and 200,000 doctors…

One of the most overlooked problems with health care in America is the lack of an alternative dumping ground for the elderly and mentally challenged patient that family and friends to not wish to deal with during the holidays. ER Clogs. I used dumping ground because that is what has happened, and is happening.

Anyway this a long article worth the read for those who may wonder how money, like oxygen must be in the right proportions or it is a poison.

Boinking the Budget

Avoiding the Budgetary Bait and Switch

Medicare is the biggest worry, no disagreement there. But before we begin using the deficit as a reason to begin slashing valuable social programs, remember that we’ve had higher debt to GDP ratios in the past and survived. The worry is the future and very specifically, as noted above, Medicare payments are the biggest concern. Thus, getting our health care costs under control is an essential step in bringing the budget into balance.

Like the war, Medicare;

Yet these figures still understate the budgetary damage caused by the Bush administration because it leaves out changes in the budgetary status of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. …

Over the next 75 years, these two programs have an unfunded liability of $44 trillion — $15 trillion for Social Security and another $29 trillion for Medicare.

More Republican’t governmen.

Goodnight, Mr. President

My condolences to the family and friends of the 38th President.

The Culture war is BSers

The Culture War Is About the Authority of a Book

I do not ask this about “the Bible” as a whole because the one book that is regarded as having divine authority by believing Jews, Catholics, Protestants and Mormons, among others, is not the entire Bible, but the Torah. Religious Jews do not believe in the New Testament and generally confine divine revelation even within the Old Testament to the Torah and to verses where God is cited by the prophets, for example. But “Bible-believing” Christians and Jews do believe in the divinity of the Torah.

Apparently Mr. Prager is unfamiliar Islam, which also holds the Torah as revealed by Moses, (One of the anointed of God,) as being of Divine revelation. They also acknowledge Jesus as an anointed one of God.

For the Left, such beliefs are irrational, absurd and immoral.

You do not speak for me, or my friends, sir. One would hope that you might improve your understandings of the faiths, and failing to do that, American politics. If this is not new information for you to consider then, why do bear false witness? If you are a Christian why do promote division?

ht JM

Update: Digby has a few thoughts on these issues as well.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Not in Vain

This is about the third or fourth article that I’ve read that links the WTC and Iraqi death tolls which is about the same as comparing the WTC or War to end all wars in Iraq to any other events not linked in any way to each other, other than having occurred on the planet Earth, The only linkage is in Bush’s brain, they are two very different national security failures.

I am in that camp that does believe that no greater sacrifice can be made then that a man should give his life for his friends, and while it springs from Scripture and has a deeper implication, it is a universal feeling among the armed forces, American or otherwise.

I think one of the Presidents weaknesses is trying to make a philosophical point, without having an intellectual argument. It is an emotional appeal not a logical one. Unfortunately emotional appeals are very effective, when the general population wants to believe its’ leaders, and out of place when they do not. The war is George W. Bush’s vanity, as much as America’s of four years ago.

I would hope that the relatives of the casualties will take comfort in their losses and tribulations as did those of the family of the Christ, that these deaths are for a purpose greater than our own times and concerns. We cannot peer into the future to see the outworking of their sacrifices, the lessons we will have to learn. While the following was written years ago for an individual killed in the line of duty, the sentiment of myself, my family, and my political friends on the left, theAmerican people as I understand them, goes out to all those families who have suffered in solitude these much publicized deaths.

Kerry’s Salute

With the resolution of lightning
thundering through the night sky,
the vanguard of our nation
fuses valor to Semper Fi.

In the sculptured halls of courage
although no man stands alone
God grants few to be the cutting edge
that he strikes against the stone.

Today the scabbard hangs empty
another eagle has paid his pledge
while the high gloss polish of honor
is applied to the cutting edge.

Then, within the missing man formation,
where the cutting edge strikes the sky
an honor gaurd of Angels cut a path
to the Lord of Semper Fi.

May the Sovereign Lord Jehovah comfort you in your pain, and may you find solace in the fact that these brave souls are forever inshrined in our hearts and thoughts and prayers. May God bless you, and comfort you in these things we ask you to carry. I wish that I had been able to more, please forgive me.

Update: needed some editing

The Two Percenters

Report: DOD recovered $1.9 billion in fraud cases

RAF MILDENHALL, England — The Defense Criminal Investigative Service recently completed a record-setting year of recoveries as a result of scores of investigations worldwide.

The announcement of the record $1.9 billion returned to the government was published as part of the Department of Defense inspector general’s biannual report to Congress.

Why England?

Tenet Healthcare Corporation agreed to pay the government $900 million to settle allegations it filed false claims to Tricare, Medicare and other government health programs. The settlement was the largest filed in the 150-year history of the False Claims Act.”

Hmmmmm.

Bloggers standing in the gap?

Anonymous Liberal has an interesting observation on consumer laws and ignorant voters.

For reasons that I don’t understand, our mainstream journalists and media figures always seem to operate under the assumption that the average person is capable of sorting through all the political information they’re bombarded with and reaching an informed decision. This despite the fact that half of our laws are premised on the exact opposite assumption, i.e., that people are easily misinformed by those with an incentive to do so.

As I’ve observed before, when it comes to covering politics, journalists today are much more like play-by-play announcers than referees. They no longer see it as their job to step in and call fouls, i.e., to call a lie a lie. This is a pity because–for the reasons explained above–it is in the arena of politics where we are most in need of referees; it is in the arena of politics where the normal referees (government officials, judges, private litigants) cannot operate effectively.

Saddam Runs out of rope

Death sentence upheld for Saddam

Some Good News Too

Israeli PM Orders Checkpoints Dismantled

Israel’s prime minister on Monday ordered the military to dismantle more than two dozen of the West Bank checkpoints that have disrupted Palestinian travel, as part of a package of gestures Israel hopes will boost Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

After meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, top security officials agreed to remove 27 roadblocks of the hundreds that dot the West Bank, but did not say which would come down.

This really is good news for the Palestinian population, which like the population in America, is responsible for their individual feelings about government policies beyond their control, not the policy of those leaders.

It will be a cold day in July when that distinction is made in our own consciences, which is what the war mongers depend on.

Taking the Great Game over a cliff

The Great Game on a razor’s edge By M K Bhadrakumar

There is no denying that Uzbekistan is a key country in Central Asia. In the Soviet era, everyone from Josef Stalin down knew the axiom that Uzbekistan was the hub of the geopolitics of the region. True, the US put out several feelers to Tashkent through intermediaries for reconciliation, and lately even the European Union lent a hand, but Tashkent wouldn’t budge. The laceration of Uzbek national pride by the US over Andizhan opened such painful wounds that forgiveness may take much time coming and will extract sincere repentance on the part of Washington for its role in the Andizhan uprising. Meanwhile, the US has been left with no option but to watch Russian and Chinese influence in Tashkent expanding by leaps and bounds.

In a similar fashion, but in an even more fundamental sense, US diplomacy in Central Asia is seriously hobbled by Washington’s alienation from Iran. Ten years have gone by since the famous article by Zbigniew Brzezinski in Foreign Affairs magazine calling for unconditional abandonment of the US policy of containment of Iran. Brzezinski had brilliantly argued the case (which most US career diplomats assigned to the region then also believed) that for US regional diplomacy to be anywhere near optimal in the Caucasus, in the Caspian region and in Central Asia, it must befriend Tehran. But Washington’s mental block over Iran persists.

Meanwhile, the “Greater Central Asia” strategy unveiled by Washington last April with so much elan has already fizzled out. The strategy was avowedly intended to roll back Russian and Chinese influence in the region. Testifying before the US Congress that month, a senior State Department official said, “A lot of what we do here is to give the countries of the region the opportunities to make choices … and keep them from being bottled up between two great powers, Russia and China.”

Another Neocon disaster.

Slow Day in the Blogoshire

Murdoch to buy out Malone

In what is effectively one of the world’s largest ever share buybacks, News Corp will take back and cancel Mr Malone’s 16.3 per cent stake in the company, in return for ceding to Mr Malone’s Liberty Media control of its US satellite TV provider DirecTV.

Mr Murdoch, 75, is also throwing in $US550 million in cash and three US regional sports TV networks, the inclusion of which will cut the capital gains tax bill on the deal by billions of dollars.

The Simplistic Veiw

From the NY Times

Mr. Bush has shrugged off suggestions by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that he enlist the help of Iran and Syria in the effort to stabilize Iraq. Countering suggestions that he begin thinking of bringing troops home, he has engaged in deliberations over whether to send more. And he has adjusted the voters’ message away from Iraq, saying on Wednesday, “I thought the election said they want to see more bipartisan cooperation.”

Well of course,

“This is all background noise for the American people right now,” a senior administration official said. “Most people are going to wait and see exactly what the president’s going to say.”

Background noise is a nice way of saying racket. I will leave you to define racket.

Have the alarm clocks quit working in EST?

Think Progress points out that in 1999, Governor George W. Bush criticized then President Clinton for declining to set a withdrawal timetable for Kosovo, saying “Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

via Informed Comment

Happy Kawanza

May all of your cheetah’s have Cheeto’s. Ht DD

Monday, December 25, 2006

You are the lights of the World

“The Darkest Night”
1975 Space Songs Ltd.

The darkest night, can seem so bright
My love for you, will see me through
Into your eyes, I see your love return – to me

Though we’re apart, you’re in my heart
No need to cry – I will get by
By my side, my moonlight way is clear – to me

Though I’ve traveled down life’s highways
I’ve never been this way before
And now I see that love, can turn the key to any door

The darkest night, can seem so bright
My love for you, will see me through
Into your eyes, I see your love return – to me

Alvin Lee

And So This is Christmas…

Ht Juan Cole

Al-Zaman reports that “The Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad appeared almost deserted on Christmas Eve. Christian celebrations of Christmas were limited to private homes. Iraqi Christians had announced last week that they would suspend official celebration, out of solidarity with the tragedy of the Iraqi people.” Iraqi Christians, who had enjoyed relative freedom under the regime of Saddam Hussein, now face fear of attacks by powerful Islamic groups or Shiite militias. Few are making any use of the Christmas lights and decorations of yesteryear. There were some 600,000 Iraqi Christians in a population of 27 million, but some say the number is now less than 450,000. Thousands have been forced to flee to Syria.

I suppose that I should point out that very few of the most vocal proponents of this war are avowed atheists or agnostics. This tribulation of the Iraqi Christian population is the direct result of, and the responsibility of those who advocated this war.

Those who are not Christians perhaps wonder at the silence from those who are, and so I will inform you that it is with the utmost difficulty that I do not do so, drawing from the lesson of the Christ on the road to death when James and John wished to call down fire on the Samaritan village, ” I did not come to destroy the world, but to save it.”

To all the brothers and sisters then, I urge a turning away from the works of the flesh, lest your works are turned upon your own heads, and who will save your soul then, oh son of man? Because the hour of inspection is upon you now, I write these things to you, not that I might say that I have told you so, but that you might not say that I have not.

The Blood and the Water

Merry Christmas

For those seeking peace, seek the advantage of others over yourself. To what advantage to God has been all the hard work that He has done?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Call to Action


When: February 14, 2007


What: A Levitation of the Pentagon and Festival of Love and Lights


Where: From Homes and Bedrooms

update: I removed cyber for diverse reasons, obviously, one being the uncanny ability of some people to take the most inane things as seriously plausible, as per the first levitation.

This is Rich

3 Crises Face U.S., With Risky Options

A senior administration official acknowledged yesterday that diplomatic approaches taken by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on these three issues may have hit real roadblocks. “It doesn’t mean that you push aside what you have been doing,” he said, but that the administration at the same time will look for other ways to tackle the problems.

“A senior administration official” as in Dick Cheney’s office, which sent representatives along with Condi to make sure that the diplomatic approaches may have hit real roadblocks.

If that wasn’t bad enough the article ends with;

Including Iraq, they have four real crises,” he said. “But they have less leverage and less capability and less credibility to deal with any in a diplomatic way.”

Oh well.

The Surge Is a Tsunami

I never claimed to be a foreign affairs expert, or political one for that matter, and I think there is some advantage to being a minor historian of no note, so I’m really going out on the limb here.

Given the developments with Saudi Arabia, and pointed out;

“Israel’s worst-kept diplomatic secret became public knowledge this week when its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told his Cabinet that he was against taking up a dramatic new Syrian offer for peace talks — because doing so would undermine President Bush.” Forward

At the same time rumor runs in Washington that Bandar bin Sultan and Elliot Abrams are busy constructing a web of alliance and money that will seek to undermine Iranian allies wherever they are found.

Weapons have been landed from Israeli ships on the Lebanese coast for the purpose of arming the enemies of Hizbullah.

I would conclude that we are going to witness a wider war escalation than what the definition of surge has entailed.

In my column on the Iraq Study Group, I neglected to mention the most objectionable aspect of the Baker-Hamilton report [.pdf], and that is the suggestion that it might be a good idea to inject a “surge” of U.S. troops to secure Baghdad and stabilize a regime that seems about to fall. The ISG averred that, although they rejected proposals to double U.S. forces,

“We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.”

What I read here is a reformation of Bush Sr.’s coalition, which W will get credit for.

Given the UN vote, I’d say adios Iran as we once knew it. It fits all our ME allies needs, and it will resurge the domestic neoconservatives in a big way. I’d love to think it would remain an American only operation as it would be a lot simpler to define it simply as what has gone on before, but I think this thing is probably come to head, and like all wars, were it goes nobody knows.

This is what I think may unfold.

And there are three outcomes, one it really is Biblical, (see Daniel,) two the whole thing goes nuclear and ten thousand years from now the descendants of the Bushmen discover the roots of their myths about lost civilizations, and debates about the existence PZ Meyers. Three I am gratefully wrong about the other two.

More fun than a barrel of monkees

Christy has this at Firedoglake.

Bob Geiger has the Saturday funnies. For my money, it doesn’t get much better than the Ann Telnaes at the top of the stack…and then it does get better the further you read. We must all have some good editorial cartoon karma built up this week. (Do NOT miss the Dwane Powell one.)

If you’ll bookmark the site I won’t have to link it in the next revision.

M. I. C. K. E. Y. M.O.U.S.E

A.B.C.

via A T R I O S

Update: This post is in no way meant to be offend friends or fans of Walt Disney, opiates, the Cartoon, astronomy, or any Incorporated news aggravators, aggregaters, parents and step children thereof, etc.

How I Won The Election for the Democrats and Changed the Face of America

I’d like to think that I’m the only person left in the world that still uses WordPro since it would make me unique, an individual that had grown beyond WordStar, but not so far as to not have latent emotional feelings that Microsoft is somehow the, “evil empire out to destroy the net,” as an old Netware User’s shirt once proclaimed, in the on going operating system wars that were going on at the time in both the mainframe/mini and PC worlds. Now , the evil empire has googely eyes everywhere and no one really seems to care, so long as someone else is ripped up or narced out by it’s data bases. I have a T-shirt with a googley eyed old wheezer ogling my crotch that says “google it, I’m sure it’s still there”, but I doubt I’ll take it commercial and watch it get hacked up. Anyway if anyone is also running WordPro let me know, I’ll reinstall Linux and run it in WINE.

Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’m just another wrench in the works, and more inclined to point out shortcomings in other people than actually address any of my own, not because I wouldn’t if I were aware of them, but like most people I’m a better talker than listener. As the observant have observed my personality doesn’t lend itself any better to business success than it seems to do for my interpersonal relationships either, but I’m working on it.(Finding the right business of course, not the adjustments others would prefer.)

The folks who rely on popularity are really good listeners, so politicians and such are always aware of we peps in the hinterlands of unknown gnomes and what we are saying. One of the interesting things about demographics is that there is a pattern in small towns showing a large drop in population of people eighteen and older, so one without to much trouble can figure out they’ve left and gone to the city, which puts the seven degrees of separation into the eternal rumor and innuendo machine. So some of us are known gnomes of a less than known gnomes path.

As for the title, I read the ideas and opinions of the people and businesses that are linked on the left, and many who are not, but will be, as this site is racing diligently to get out version 4.0 before dKos, and will include links to just about the entire internet.

Friday, December 22, 2006

DoJ Doh!

Outrage over US snub on Bashir case

THE US Attorney-General rebuffed a request from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, to grant Indonesian police access to the terrorism mastermind Hambali, who could have been a key witness against the radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Because we care,

Mr Keelty did get an agreement from Alberto Gonzales for Indonesian police to submit written questions to Hambali through US interrogators. However, the responses were not usable in the Bashir trial because Indonesian police could not be present when answers were given, according to Indonesian security sources.

The US’s failure to grant access to Hambali will outrage families of victims of the attacks. The US embassy in Canberra said yesterday it could not respond to the concerns or explain why access to Hambali was denied.

Republican’t Governmen at work.

Whizzzzzzzzz Bang

ASIO enlisted to join search for stolen army rockets

ASIO has been called in to help the Defence Force urgently review its security amid fears criminals have obtained shoulder-fired 66-millimetre rocket launchers from the army.

The army will stop distributing the rocket launchers, except for use in specifically authorised operations.

Well that’s certainly reassuring, meanwhile back at the armory,

In 1998 a joint police and army inquiry code-named Taskforce Majorca was conducted amid concerns that rocket launchers were among Defence Force weapons that could not be accounted for.

Bad news travels slow where people are upside down eh, blokes? Anyway,

The NSW Middle East Crime Squad is still trying to find eight of nine missing anti-armour weapons, which are similar to rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The one weapon recovered in a $50,000 NSW police buy-back from a member of the family of Sydney criminal Adnan “Eddie” Darwiche is now being forensically tested by federal police.

For fingerprints and such?

The Federal Opposition spokesman on homeland security, Arch Bevis, told the Herald last night that while he welcomed the Government announcement, important questions remained unanswered. “When did senior officers and the minister first become aware that high-powered weapons were unaccounted for or stolen?” Mr Bevis asked. “The prospect that terrorists could get their hands on these sorts of weapons represents a major threat to public safety.”

Last year the Australian Audit Office criticised poor record keeping in relation to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Defence equipment.

In 2004 the Federal Government admitted there was an investigation into missing military plastic explosives and ammunition.

Well, there you have it.

Oh the Humanity!

Middle Ground

Ezra explores the decline and fall of the blogoshire as Marduk telegraphs with Time Magazine the surrounding of third Earth.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Church Committee Report

Is over here now.

It really is a readable document.

This is Cool

Library of Congress Launches RSS Feeds

These feeds join four existing RSS feeds from the U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress on current copyright related legislation; announcements, rules, proposed rules and other notices published in the Federal Register; NewsNet (alerts on hearings, deadlines for comments, new and proposed regulations and new publications); and updates to the Copyright Web site at http://www.copyright.gov.

The Library will launch additional feeds in specific content and subject matter areas in the coming months. All new RSS feeds will be available from key content pages within the Library’s extensive Web site, as well as from a central RSS Web page at http://www.loc.gov/rss/.

If you know what I mean.

Only in America

WASHINGTON – President Clinton’s national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency’s internal watchdog said Wednesday.

The report was issued more than a year after Sandy Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removing the documents.

via Progressive Review

Speed of Light Now 5.8 kilometres per second

Japanese scientists cage light

Scientists have used silicon crystals to trap light and slow it down to the lowest speed ever recorded in the material. The breakthrough is a step towards light-based storage for quantum computers.

Researchers at Japanese telco NTT used man-made photonic crystals, which contain nanoscale holes, to achieve the feat. The cavity which controlled the light was less than ten millionths of a metre long.

Good for computing, but there goes the universe.

Marines Charged in Haditha Slayings

US marines face Iraq murder case

Two US marines have been charged with murdering Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year, defence lawyers say.

The Consummate Billmon

An Iraq Retrospective

If blogs in general, or this blog in particular, have ever served a useful purpose, it should have been then — when the consensus had overwhelmingly embraced a policy doomed to catastrophic failure, and mainstream dissent had been cowed almost into silence. But, of course, there were too few of us and our voices weren’t nearly loud enough to make a difference. Certainly not compared to the power and majesty of the corporate media.

If I sometimes seem bitter to the point of blind rage at reporters like Tom Ricks or columists like David Ignatius, who now recite the ignorant mistakes and outright crimes that led us into this hellhole, it’s because they couldn’t see them while they were being committed — or, if they did see them, kept silent.

I think I’ve found a place to park until the BBC comes on TV.

A Note to George Will

AlterNet: When Bonesmen Fight

There is a big disjunct between what I, as a singular blogologist do, and and say a what a non productive citizen such as yourself, does with our time that God has given us on this green earth.

I suppose my meager skills at writing and punctuation are on equal with your abilities to lay out and frame a house from the ground up, which were the tables turned I would encourage you along as you muddled through your “Time-Life” book with assists from Norm Abrams as you cobbled together something approximating a professional job, rather than pointing out that like most professional somethings you need to keep your day job, an aside which you may have already discovered isn’t to effective with some of us in the blogosphere, whom as you have noted may be punching holes in your logical, pompous articles even as we speak.

I think the last paragraph of this excerpt is especially poignant to your problem;

I still stand for participatory democracy, the original 1962 vision of the SDS, which grew from our generation’s experience in organizing among the excluded, from the Deep South to the Peace Corps. Students in those days were drafted for war, but considered too immature to vote. Southern blacks and Mexican immigrants could be sharecroppers in the fields, but not equal citizens in the ballot box. For us, democracy meant who had the most votes, not who controlled the most money. It meant the free flow of information, not suffocation under corporate advertising and media.

We have always wanted more than the right to choose between two candidates already vetted by the establishment. We wanted a more direct voice in the decisions that affected our lives. We wanted a democracy of participation, not a democracy regulated by secret societies. We wanted all the closets emptied.

We are a more open and democratic country as a result of the Sixties and earlier generations of radicals. We owe the Abolitionists, not merely Abraham Lincoln, for the end of slavery, the suffragettes for the right to vote, the populists for regulation of Wall Street, the industrial strikers for collective bargaining, the environmentalists for cleaner air and water. In this election, the anti-war and global justice movements have helped shape the agenda over Iraq and trade. And the gay-lesbian community is turning marriage into civil disobedience.

Yet, it remains the peculiar character of America’s elite to absorb reform from below while remaining atop the pyramids of power. When a majority of Americans still feel inferior to Ivy League candidates, or identify vicariously with their dramas, we do not live in a democracy psychologically. That must eventually change. Closeted dynasties should have no moral legitimacy in a democracy – which is why they have become increasingly secret.

True, it was noted by Mr. Hayden a couple of years ago, so it is in fact,”nothing to say, merely to add,” which pretty much sums up your work, and that that I am doing here.

But then, that is the point, sir. The differences between you and Thomas Paine are also quite remarkable I would note, as his genius did not lead to anything profitable to himself so much as to you. Thomas Paine will long be remembered, as will bloggers, but you sir are destined to be worse than forgotten, but ignored, because your work is all about you, and that is the why Time’s award fits you to a T.

I would be remiss not to

Happy Holiday

Who else would even think to find something like this?

It has been brought to my attention that the Pastafarians celebrate the winter solstice with a holiday that they call, simply, Holiday.

So, just to make Bill O’Reilly blow a few more fuses: Happy Holiday! And may His noodly appendage touch your heart. Ramen!

– Badtux the not-Pastafarian Penguin

So, Holiday is too a Holiday neener neener.

Farming the Food We Eat

Federal Subsidies Turn Farms Into Big Business

The WaPo has some interesting farm stats in their story, (and George Will noticed last weeks news,);

The very policies touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms are instead helping to accelerate their demise, economists, analysts and farmers say. That’s because owners of large farms receive the largest share of government subsidies. They often use the money to acquire more land, pushing aside small and medium-size farms as well as young farmers starting out.

Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies. And their share of federal payments is growing — more than doubling over the past decade for the biggest farms.

Just some stats;

Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies.

….

Nevertheless, just last year the government paid out about $15 billion in income support or price guarantees, which increasingly are going to the largest farms — those with annual sales of $500,000 or more. Between 1989 and 2003, the share of federal payments for those farms jumped from 13 percent to 32 percent while the share going to small and medium-size farms — those with $250,000 or less in sales — dropped from 63 percent to 43 percent.

Anyway it is a lot less depressing than Iraq, which is more than I can say about George.

The Acts of Gog

via Juan Cole

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that half of Baghdad was without electricity on Tuesday. The report says that some districts, such as Bayya`, have been in the dark for days. The Ministry of Electricity has not given any explanation for the lack of service, and it isn’t clear what the cause is (though sabotage by guerrillas is high on the list.) The low in Baghdad today was 42 degrees Fahrenheit (5 C.), and Sunday the low will be 35 (1 C.). Not having electricity in such temperatures is not comfortable, and for some (the young, sick or elderly) could actually be dangerous.

Yeah, that and poor water, sanitation, food. Gasoline?

Does, “Reality Check” sound about right?

More Neocon blowback

Indonesia overturns terror conviction in Bali bombings

via The Houston Chronicle

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia overturned a terror conviction today against the militant Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who served 2 1/2 years for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Bashir has always denied any wrongdoing, but admits having known several Southeast Asian militants in the 1980s and 1990s who went to Afghanistan and trained there at al-Qaida-run camps.

Since his release, he has preached in towns across the country, espousing fiercely anti-American and anti-Jewish views and promoting his campaign to transform Indonesia’s secular state into an Islamic one.

(Emphasis mine)

This seems to be part of pattern which, apart from Mr. Bashir’s guilt or innocence, inflames the war on terror as much as blowing up families. That is why it cannot succeed militarily, or from a criminal justice perspective of s.w.a.t. teams. It is hard to impossible to PR wrongful imprisonment with abuse, or flattening towns without rhyme or reason.

Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune

Who’d be a Lennonist?

After he had taken up residence in the Dakota building with a specially-chilled room full of fur coats and a personal astrologer, what remained of all this? In the end, only a hopelessly vague and distinctly narcissistic rag-bag of platitudes, recurrently summed up in the claim that – oh yes – all he was saying was give peace a chance, whatever that means. He became, I suppose, the focus of a myth that warmed the hearts of a generation who turned out to be less a mass of revolutionaries than a bumper crop of small businesspeople (as Charles Shaar Murray once pointed out, “the line from hippie to yuppie is not nearly as convoluted as some people would like to believe”).

As with all biographical pieces the box cannot even contain the humanity, much less the human.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Little Help on the Left, Please

Hullabaloo

Dear Santa

by digby

Last year I asked my readers to put a little change in the kitty if they had it to spare and many of you did. It was a wonderful affirmation of what I do and I’m still basking in its glow. Well, it’s that time of the year again, and while we are all counting our blessings and fighting the war on Christmas and freedom, I’m here once again, stocking in hand, to ask that if you have your credit card out and it isn’t maxed, you might send a little Christmas cheer my way once again.

Well, I’m not familiar with Digby’s work habits, but he does good work.

No, Sean, only you guys

Over at Cosmic Variance The Real World
Sean asks;

I figure we can’t be the only people who talk this way. Professional actors or musicians (I’m guessing, and would love to hear confirmation/refutation) might think of themselves as being distinct from “the real world,” as might people serving in the military, or working in politics.

Seriously this is an interesting post too;

What We Know, and Don’t, and Why

Today, of course, we’re dealing with an analogous problem, given that 25% of the universe is apparently some kind of dark matter that doesn’t fit into the Standard Model of particle physics, and 70% is some kind of dark energy that is even more mysterious. Modified gravity might be at work here as well, and I talked about the prospects.

Which brings us back to the Pioneers, Still off Course, Like W’s, ‘cept different.

“Shrink that Army Down Mr. Rumsfeld.” Oh, Yeah and let’s invade Iraq.

This opinion will probably fly in the face of those who hold that it is the Democrats that shrank the Army and Marines.

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2006: Blitzer Show Interview- 19 December 2006

BLITZER: Because Rumsfeld opposed?

LANG: Yes, I think that’s right, essentially.

BLITZER: His notion when he came in, the U.S. can do a lot of this supposedly on the cheap with a smaller, meaner military machine. You don’t need the overwhelming strength that Colin Powell and other commanders thought was required?

LANG: Secretary Rumsfeld’s idea of how big the army and the Marine Corps need to be, especially the army, was very, very small and very reliant on light forces and fancy weapons, things like this. As a matter of fact, he’s been planning to build the army down even farther after the current warfare stops.

And this kind of theory with regard to war has been pretty much disproven in Iraq where you need a lot of people, you know, a lot of weapons and tanks, you need all these things. You don’t want to have a fair fight, ever, you always want it to be an unfair fight in your favor.

Of course you are still free to move around the ranch, just don’t shoot anyone in the face.

I got your number

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

I also hear that this is kicking up some controversy within Brookings itself. So maybe some of the friends on the inside there can drop me a line and let me know what they’re hearing.
— Josh Marshall

From the ‘Lectric Law Library’s stacks
Marijuana
America’s #1 Cash Crop

Which in no way implies that Mr. Kagan is a dirty hippy, but it would make it a lot easier to understand if he were a farmer of sorts and di the QA,

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EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z 12/17/06 – 12/24/06 archive

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Call to Action


When: February 14, 2007


What: A Levitation of the Pentagon and Festival of Love and Lights


Where: From Homes and Bedrooms

update: I removed cyber for diverse reasons, obviously, one being the uncanny ability of some people to take the most inane things as seriously plausible, as per the first levitation.

This is Rich

3 Crises Face U.S., With Risky Options

A senior administration official acknowledged yesterday that diplomatic approaches taken by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on these three issues may have hit real roadblocks. “It doesn’t mean that you push aside what you have been doing,” he said, but that the administration at the same time will look for other ways to tackle the problems.

“A senior administration official” as in Dick Cheney’s office, which sent representatives along with Condi to make sure that the diplomatic approaches may have hit real roadblocks.

If that wasn’t bad enough the article ends with;

Including Iraq, they have four real crises,” he said. “But they have less leverage and less capability and less credibility to deal with any in a diplomatic way.”

Oh well.

The Surge Is a Tsunami

I never claimed to be a foreign affairs expert, or political one for that matter, and I think there is some advantage to being a minor historian of no note, so I’m really going out on the limb here.

Given the developments with Saudi Arabia, and pointed out;

“Israel’s worst-kept diplomatic secret became public knowledge this week when its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told his Cabinet that he was against taking up a dramatic new Syrian offer for peace talks — because doing so would undermine President Bush.” Forward

At the same time rumor runs in Washington that Bandar bin Sultan and Elliot Abrams are busy constructing a web of alliance and money that will seek to undermine Iranian allies wherever they are found.

Weapons have been landed from Israeli ships on the Lebanese coast for the purpose of arming the enemies of Hizbullah.

I would conclude that we are going to witness a wider war escalation than what the definition of surge has entailed.

In my column on the Iraq Study Group, I neglected to mention the most objectionable aspect of the Baker-Hamilton report [.pdf], and that is the suggestion that it might be a good idea to inject a “surge” of U.S. troops to secure Baghdad and stabilize a regime that seems about to fall. The ISG averred that, although they rejected proposals to double U.S. forces,

“We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.”

What I read here is a reformation of Bush Sr.’s coalition, which W will get credit for.

Given the UN vote, I’d say adios Iran as we once knew it. It fits all our ME allies needs, and it will resurge the domestic neoconservatives in a big way. I’d love to think it would remain an American only operation as it would be a lot simpler to define it simply as what has gone on before, but I think this thing is probably come to head, and like all wars, were it goes nobody knows.

This is what I think may unfold.

And there are three outcomes, one it really is Biblical, (see Daniel,) two the whole thing goes nuclear and ten thousand years from now the descendants of the Bushmen discover the roots of their myths about lost civilizations, and debates about the existence PZ Meyers. Three I am gratefully wrong about the other two.

More fun than a barrel of monkees

Christy has this at Firedoglake.

Bob Geiger has the Saturday funnies. For my money, it doesn’t get much better than the Ann Telnaes at the top of the stack…and then it does get better the further you read. We must all have some good editorial cartoon karma built up this week. (Do NOT miss the Dwane Powell one.)

If you’ll bookmark the site I won’t have to link it in the next revision.

M. I. C. K. E. Y. M.O.U.S.E

A.B.C.

via A T R I O S

Update: This post is in no way meant to be offend friends or fans of Walt Disney, opiates, the Cartoon, astronomy, or any Incorporated news aggravators, aggregaters, parents and step children thereof, etc.

How I Won The Election for the Democrats and Changed the Face of America

I’d like to think that I’m the only person left in the world that still uses WordPro since it would make me unique, an individual that had grown beyond WordStar, but not so far as to not have latent emotional feelings that Microsoft is somehow the, “evil empire out to destroy the net,” as an old Netware User’s shirt once proclaimed, in the on going operating system wars that were going on at the time in both the mainframe/mini and PC worlds. Now , the evil empire has googely eyes everywhere and no one really seems to care, so long as someone else is ripped up or narced out by it’s data bases. I have a T-shirt with a googley eyed old wheezer ogling my crotch that says “google it, I’m sure it’s still there”, but I doubt I’ll take it commercial and watch it get hacked up. Anyway if anyone is also running WordPro let me know, I’ll reinstall Linux and run it in WINE.

Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’m just another wrench in the works, and more inclined to point out shortcomings in other people than actually address any of my own, not because I wouldn’t if I were aware of them, but like most people I’m a better talker than listener. As the observant have observed my personality doesn’t lend itself any better to business success than it seems to do for my interpersonal relationships either, but I’m working on it.(Finding the right business of course, not the adjustments others would prefer.)

The folks who rely on popularity are really good listeners, so politicians and such are always aware of we peps in the hinterlands of unknown gnomes and what we are saying. One of the interesting things about demographics is that there is a pattern in small towns showing a large drop in population of people eighteen and older, so one without to much trouble can figure out they’ve left and gone to the city, which puts the seven degrees of separation into the eternal rumor and innuendo machine. So some of us are known gnomes of a less than known gnomes path.

As for the title, I read the ideas and opinions of the people and businesses that are linked on the left, and many who are not, but will be, as this site is racing diligently to get out version 4.0 before dKos, and will include links to just about the entire internet.

Friday, December 22, 2006

DoJ Doh!

Outrage over US snub on Bashir case

THE US Attorney-General rebuffed a request from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, to grant Indonesian police access to the terrorism mastermind Hambali, who could have been a key witness against the radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Because we care,

Mr Keelty did get an agreement from Alberto Gonzales for Indonesian police to submit written questions to Hambali through US interrogators. However, the responses were not usable in the Bashir trial because Indonesian police could not be present when answers were given, according to Indonesian security sources.

The US’s failure to grant access to Hambali will outrage families of victims of the attacks. The US embassy in Canberra said yesterday it could not respond to the concerns or explain why access to Hambali was denied.

Republican’t Governmen at work.

Whizzzzzzzzz Bang

ASIO enlisted to join search for stolen army rockets

ASIO has been called in to help the Defence Force urgently review its security amid fears criminals have obtained shoulder-fired 66-millimetre rocket launchers from the army.

The army will stop distributing the rocket launchers, except for use in specifically authorised operations.

Well that’s certainly reassuring, meanwhile back at the armory,

In 1998 a joint police and army inquiry code-named Taskforce Majorca was conducted amid concerns that rocket launchers were among Defence Force weapons that could not be accounted for.

Bad news travels slow where people are upside down eh, blokes? Anyway,

The NSW Middle East Crime Squad is still trying to find eight of nine missing anti-armour weapons, which are similar to rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The one weapon recovered in a $50,000 NSW police buy-back from a member of the family of Sydney criminal Adnan “Eddie” Darwiche is now being forensically tested by federal police.

For fingerprints and such?

The Federal Opposition spokesman on homeland security, Arch Bevis, told the Herald last night that while he welcomed the Government announcement, important questions remained unanswered. “When did senior officers and the minister first become aware that high-powered weapons were unaccounted for or stolen?” Mr Bevis asked. “The prospect that terrorists could get their hands on these sorts of weapons represents a major threat to public safety.”

Last year the Australian Audit Office criticised poor record keeping in relation to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Defence equipment.

In 2004 the Federal Government admitted there was an investigation into missing military plastic explosives and ammunition.

Well, there you have it.

Oh the Humanity!

Middle Ground

Ezra explores the decline and fall of the blogoshire as Marduk telegraphs with Time Magazine the surrounding of third Earth.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Church Committee Report

Is over here now.

It really is a readable document.

This is Cool

Library of Congress Launches RSS Feeds

These feeds join four existing RSS feeds from the U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress on current copyright related legislation; announcements, rules, proposed rules and other notices published in the Federal Register; NewsNet (alerts on hearings, deadlines for comments, new and proposed regulations and new publications); and updates to the Copyright Web site at http://www.copyright.gov.

The Library will launch additional feeds in specific content and subject matter areas in the coming months. All new RSS feeds will be available from key content pages within the Library’s extensive Web site, as well as from a central RSS Web page at http://www.loc.gov/rss/.

If you know what I mean.

Only in America

WASHINGTON – President Clinton’s national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency’s internal watchdog said Wednesday.

The report was issued more than a year after Sandy Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removing the documents.

via Progressive Review

Speed of Light Now 5.8 kilometres per second

Japanese scientists cage light

Scientists have used silicon crystals to trap light and slow it down to the lowest speed ever recorded in the material. The breakthrough is a step towards light-based storage for quantum computers.

Researchers at Japanese telco NTT used man-made photonic crystals, which contain nanoscale holes, to achieve the feat. The cavity which controlled the light was less than ten millionths of a metre long.

Good for computing, but there goes the universe.

Marines Charged in Haditha Slayings

US marines face Iraq murder case

Two US marines have been charged with murdering Iraqi civilians in Haditha last year, defence lawyers say.

The Consummate Billmon

An Iraq Retrospective

If blogs in general, or this blog in particular, have ever served a useful purpose, it should have been then — when the consensus had overwhelmingly embraced a policy doomed to catastrophic failure, and mainstream dissent had been cowed almost into silence. But, of course, there were too few of us and our voices weren’t nearly loud enough to make a difference. Certainly not compared to the power and majesty of the corporate media.

If I sometimes seem bitter to the point of blind rage at reporters like Tom Ricks or columists like David Ignatius, who now recite the ignorant mistakes and outright crimes that led us into this hellhole, it’s because they couldn’t see them while they were being committed — or, if they did see them, kept silent.

I think I’ve found a place to park until the BBC comes on TV.

A Note to George Will

AlterNet: When Bonesmen Fight

There is a big disjunct between what I, as a singular blogologist do, and and say a what a non productive citizen such as yourself, does with our time that God has given us on this green earth.

I suppose my meager skills at writing and punctuation are on equal with your abilities to lay out and frame a house from the ground up, which were the tables turned I would encourage you along as you muddled through your “Time-Life” book with assists from Norm Abrams as you cobbled together something approximating a professional job, rather than pointing out that like most professional somethings you need to keep your day job, an aside which you may have already discovered isn’t to effective with some of us in the blogosphere, whom as you have noted may be punching holes in your logical, pompous articles even as we speak.

I think the last paragraph of this excerpt is especially poignant to your problem;

I still stand for participatory democracy, the original 1962 vision of the SDS, which grew from our generation’s experience in organizing among the excluded, from the Deep South to the Peace Corps. Students in those days were drafted for war, but considered too immature to vote. Southern blacks and Mexican immigrants could be sharecroppers in the fields, but not equal citizens in the ballot box. For us, democracy meant who had the most votes, not who controlled the most money. It meant the free flow of information, not suffocation under corporate advertising and media.

We have always wanted more than the right to choose between two candidates already vetted by the establishment. We wanted a more direct voice in the decisions that affected our lives. We wanted a democracy of participation, not a democracy regulated by secret societies. We wanted all the closets emptied.

We are a more open and democratic country as a result of the Sixties and earlier generations of radicals. We owe the Abolitionists, not merely Abraham Lincoln, for the end of slavery, the suffragettes for the right to vote, the populists for regulation of Wall Street, the industrial strikers for collective bargaining, the environmentalists for cleaner air and water. In this election, the anti-war and global justice movements have helped shape the agenda over Iraq and trade. And the gay-lesbian community is turning marriage into civil disobedience.

Yet, it remains the peculiar character of America’s elite to absorb reform from below while remaining atop the pyramids of power. When a majority of Americans still feel inferior to Ivy League candidates, or identify vicariously with their dramas, we do not live in a democracy psychologically. That must eventually change. Closeted dynasties should have no moral legitimacy in a democracy – which is why they have become increasingly secret.

True, it was noted by Mr. Hayden a couple of years ago, so it is in fact,”nothing to say, merely to add,” which pretty much sums up your work, and that that I am doing here.

But then, that is the point, sir. The differences between you and Thomas Paine are also quite remarkable I would note, as his genius did not lead to anything profitable to himself so much as to you. Thomas Paine will long be remembered, as will bloggers, but you sir are destined to be worse than forgotten, but ignored, because your work is all about you, and that is the why Time’s award fits you to a T.

I would be remiss not to

Happy Holiday

Who else would even think to find something like this?

It has been brought to my attention that the Pastafarians celebrate the winter solstice with a holiday that they call, simply, Holiday.

So, just to make Bill O’Reilly blow a few more fuses: Happy Holiday! And may His noodly appendage touch your heart. Ramen!

– Badtux the not-Pastafarian Penguin

So, Holiday is too a Holiday neener neener.

Farming the Food We Eat

Federal Subsidies Turn Farms Into Big Business

The WaPo has some interesting farm stats in their story, (and George Will noticed last weeks news,);

The very policies touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms are instead helping to accelerate their demise, economists, analysts and farmers say. That’s because owners of large farms receive the largest share of government subsidies. They often use the money to acquire more land, pushing aside small and medium-size farms as well as young farmers starting out.

Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies. And their share of federal payments is growing — more than doubling over the past decade for the biggest farms.

Just some stats;

Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies.

….

Nevertheless, just last year the government paid out about $15 billion in income support or price guarantees, which increasingly are going to the largest farms — those with annual sales of $500,000 or more. Between 1989 and 2003, the share of federal payments for those farms jumped from 13 percent to 32 percent while the share going to small and medium-size farms — those with $250,000 or less in sales — dropped from 63 percent to 43 percent.

Anyway it is a lot less depressing than Iraq, which is more than I can say about George.

The Acts of Gog

via Juan Cole

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that half of Baghdad was without electricity on Tuesday. The report says that some districts, such as Bayya`, have been in the dark for days. The Ministry of Electricity has not given any explanation for the lack of service, and it isn’t clear what the cause is (though sabotage by guerrillas is high on the list.) The low in Baghdad today was 42 degrees Fahrenheit (5 C.), and Sunday the low will be 35 (1 C.). Not having electricity in such temperatures is not comfortable, and for some (the young, sick or elderly) could actually be dangerous.

Yeah, that and poor water, sanitation, food. Gasoline?

Does, “Reality Check” sound about right?

More Neocon blowback

Indonesia overturns terror conviction in Bali bombings

via The Houston Chronicle

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia overturned a terror conviction today against the militant Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who served 2 1/2 years for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Bashir has always denied any wrongdoing, but admits having known several Southeast Asian militants in the 1980s and 1990s who went to Afghanistan and trained there at al-Qaida-run camps.

Since his release, he has preached in towns across the country, espousing fiercely anti-American and anti-Jewish views and promoting his campaign to transform Indonesia’s secular state into an Islamic one.

(Emphasis mine)

This seems to be part of pattern which, apart from Mr. Bashir’s guilt or innocence, inflames the war on terror as much as blowing up families. That is why it cannot succeed militarily, or from a criminal justice perspective of s.w.a.t. teams. It is hard to impossible to PR wrongful imprisonment with abuse, or flattening towns without rhyme or reason.

Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune

Who’d be a Lennonist?

After he had taken up residence in the Dakota building with a specially-chilled room full of fur coats and a personal astrologer, what remained of all this? In the end, only a hopelessly vague and distinctly narcissistic rag-bag of platitudes, recurrently summed up in the claim that – oh yes – all he was saying was give peace a chance, whatever that means. He became, I suppose, the focus of a myth that warmed the hearts of a generation who turned out to be less a mass of revolutionaries than a bumper crop of small businesspeople (as Charles Shaar Murray once pointed out, “the line from hippie to yuppie is not nearly as convoluted as some people would like to believe”).

As with all biographical pieces the box cannot even contain the humanity, much less the human.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Little Help on the Left, Please

Hullabaloo

Dear Santa

by digby

Last year I asked my readers to put a little change in the kitty if they had it to spare and many of you did. It was a wonderful affirmation of what I do and I’m still basking in its glow. Well, it’s that time of the year again, and while we are all counting our blessings and fighting the war on Christmas and freedom, I’m here once again, stocking in hand, to ask that if you have your credit card out and it isn’t maxed, you might send a little Christmas cheer my way once again.

Well, I’m not familiar with Digby’s work habits, but he does good work.

No, Sean, only you guys

Over at Cosmic Variance The Real World
Sean asks;

I figure we can’t be the only people who talk this way. Professional actors or musicians (I’m guessing, and would love to hear confirmation/refutation) might think of themselves as being distinct from “the real world,” as might people serving in the military, or working in politics.

Seriously this is an interesting post too;

What We Know, and Don’t, and Why

Today, of course, we’re dealing with an analogous problem, given that 25% of the universe is apparently some kind of dark matter that doesn’t fit into the Standard Model of particle physics, and 70% is some kind of dark energy that is even more mysterious. Modified gravity might be at work here as well, and I talked about the prospects.

Which brings us back to the Pioneers, Still off Course, Like W’s, ‘cept different.

“Shrink that Army Down Mr. Rumsfeld.” Oh, Yeah and let’s invade Iraq.

This opinion will probably fly in the face of those who hold that it is the Democrats that shrank the Army and Marines.

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2006: Blitzer Show Interview- 19 December 2006

BLITZER: Because Rumsfeld opposed?

LANG: Yes, I think that’s right, essentially.

BLITZER: His notion when he came in, the U.S. can do a lot of this supposedly on the cheap with a smaller, meaner military machine. You don’t need the overwhelming strength that Colin Powell and other commanders thought was required?

LANG: Secretary Rumsfeld’s idea of how big the army and the Marine Corps need to be, especially the army, was very, very small and very reliant on light forces and fancy weapons, things like this. As a matter of fact, he’s been planning to build the army down even farther after the current warfare stops.

And this kind of theory with regard to war has been pretty much disproven in Iraq where you need a lot of people, you know, a lot of weapons and tanks, you need all these things. You don’t want to have a fair fight, ever, you always want it to be an unfair fight in your favor.

Of course you are still free to move around the ranch, just don’t shoot anyone in the face.

I got your number

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

I also hear that this is kicking up some controversy within Brookings itself. So maybe some of the friends on the inside there can drop me a line and let me know what they’re hearing.
— Josh Marshall

From the ‘Lectric Law Library’s stacks
Marijuana
America’s #1 Cash Crop

Which in no way implies that Mr. Kagan is a dirty hippy, but it would make it a lot easier to understand if he were a farmer of sorts and di the QA,

Why what ever do you mean?

Auditory Eavesdropping

In the information age, surveillance isn’t just for the police. Marketers want to watch you, too: what you do, where you go, what you buy. Integrated Media Measurement, Inc. wants to know what you watch and what you listen to — wherever you are.

They do this by turning traditional ratings collection on its head. Instead of a Neilsen-like system, which monitors individual televisions in an effort to figure out who’s watching, IMMI measures individual people and tries to figure out what they’re watching (or listening to). They do this through specially designed cell phones that automatically eavesdrop on what’s going on in the room they’re in:

I would imagine that all this can be put under your tinfoil and baked into all sorts of things, but just in case anyone is really that nosy I’ll hang new curtains in the “office” so you can see if I’m picking my nose, otherwise I’ll be peeing on the wall outside, same as usual, for the normal non intrusive types of surveillancers out there who like to sneak around for the networks and such.

Reality Dump

via War and Peace

Retreat from Empiricism: On Ron Suskind’s Scoop

by Jay Rosen

Not only is it a small world…

Obviously I am trying new stuff.

Blog this Pogo stick Tom

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Back then — before he pleaded guilty to defrauding banks in a deal to buy a casino cruise line — Abramoff was a top rainmaker at Greenberg Traurig’s Washington office and liked to be generous at this time of year, at least to those who could help him. He compiled a list of 45 people to whom his staff was supposed to send gifts such as a Baccarat crystal bowl and a platinum Tiffany clock.

Snip

Three members of Congress and one staff member were among his intended gift recipients, according to the list. Three of them received a more lavish item than House ethics rules allowed, if Abramoff’s assistants followed his instructions.

Then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was listed as the intended recipient of a $250 box of Godiva chocolates; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) was to receive a $100 gift basket from Harry and David; and Susan Hirschmann, DeLay’s chief of staff, was to get a Godiva box worth $100. Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) was to get a less valuable gift: some Jerry Seinfeld CDs.

One can only imagine the bloggity connectivity that Tom can bring, and the connect the dottism of neo conservatism as it weaves the tails of chocolates, and lincoln log cabin Republicanism corrupting the media with liberal doses of pre-emptive marital sex, Iraq, deficits, and political polorization, which one presumes he and the two percent of his ilk did not engage in, either before or after they were in Congress in congress, with or without pages, they being bloggers and such. No wonder Miss America weeps.

Defense Secretary Arrives in Baghdad

Robert M. Gates said he expected to “learn a lot” in his first talks with U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials since taking office, regarding the fact that he had no body armor on arriving in Iraq.

Loo Water in Rubicon

Napoleon in the White House
Iraq is Bush’s Waterloo – will it be America’s, too?

There are degrees of calamity, and the one about to be inflicted on us by our Napoleon in the White House is worse than it has to be. There is no way to avoid the consequences of having invaded Iraq in the first place: the breakup of the Iraqi state, the rising influence of Iran, the civil war and horrific loss of life. There is, however, an opportunity to minimize our losses and those of the long-suffering Iraqi people, and that is by minimizing our troop presence rather than increasing it.

However, when it comes to our deluded leaders, who see themselves as world-historical figures, no price is too high to pay for their legacy as conquering heroes. They will see their vision of the world confirmed even if it leads to our utter ruination. If the military is breaking, the people are rebelling, and the country is sliding into bankruptcy, then that’s a small price to pay for fulfilling our role as the supreme arbiter of world affairs – isn’t it? The direr the consequences, the more the neocons see their own struggle as a heroic endeavor undertaken against overwhelming odds. In the end, it isn’t about American interests, or the future of the Middle East – it’s all about them, and their rotten place in history.

Whadda ya want for nothin’? A rubber biscuit?

Update: May as well pinch this too;

You can’t have this kind of war. There just aren’t enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets.

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

It was in silence shatterring

before darkness broke the light,
the first shard split the first heart
and the witness turned away
cornered, dreaming dreams of heaven.

(Updated this also)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Universal Philosophical Refutation

That’s what you say.

The Silence Before the Storm

One of the more troubling aspects of the war to end all wars in Iraq, is it is designed to ignite just the sort of conflagration in the Middle East that no one but a prophet wannabe wishes to see. (See UBL, Pat Robertson, W)

I think this is exactly what UBL wants, W. is too stubborn to learn, (It is an old and foolish king who has become so wise as to not learn anymore,), and Americans to proud to face, or enamored with their own celebrity to see, that their enemies have been studying them for years.

Advantage goes to dirty effing hippies who at least understands the king, amongst other things.

The Yellow Submarine Report

The Carroll County One

Discusses certain discrepancies in the treatment of dirty bomb terrorists Padilla and Demetrius “Van” Crocker.

Members of the notorious Detroit Sleeper Cell were convicted after one of their members made a video tape of a vacation to Disneyland — a tape the FBI considered preparation for an attack. The convictions were later overturned, but not before the government had held several press conferences on how they had protected us from the hazard of bad camera work.

Even more publicity went to those crafty karate school members who were arrested in Florida after they tried to recruit an FBI agent into their schemes. Schemes which never went beyond the talking stage. And the Lackawanna Six… we’re not sure what they did, but they earned media immortality.

So imagine how much publicity there would be if the government were to catch and convict a would-be bomber who was known to belong to a terrorist organization, who idolized the mastermind behind a previous terrorist attack in the US, and who plotted to use chemical weapons or a dirty bomb to kill thousands. A terrorist who plotted attacks on a federal courthouse and even on Washington D. C. If we were to catch someone like that there would be… there would be…. (sound of crickets chirping)

Sad but true.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

The Washington Note’s sting continues to burn;

White House Flounders on Flynt Leverett Charge

Which springs from Steve’s post

;

Flynt Leverett Blasts White House National Security Council Censorship

In an unprecedented case, the White House National Security Council staff has insinuated itself into a “secrets-clearing” process normally overseen by the CIA Publications Review Board which screens the written work of former government officials to make sure that state secrets don’t find their way into the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, or in other of the nation’s leading papers, journals, and books.

and provoked Juan Cole’s ire, as noted here this morning.

But by the time the Neoconservative cabal in the Bush administration got Bush to appoint him to the National Security Council, there had been so much turn-over in Congress that, one member told me, “no one remembered who Abrams was.”

A final word on Time’s You, “No huggin’ no kissin'” (for Brian)

Now that the blogosphere has become “legite” will our intercourse with the MSM be better, and take on a whole new meaning? I mean are they looking for a long term relationship, and how do they propose to support our snark so we aren’t liable to lawsuits, hmm. I’m not reading any MSM after midnight on weekend and 10P on school nights.

(Look out boys, they’re trying to surround us again!)

There ain’t no money on death row

via HNN, An FBI Heads Up on Crime Statistics, you…you

In 1996, Harvard and Berkeley published separate studies that examined income inequality in all 50 states. (3) According to Bruce Kennedy, the lead researcher of the Harvard study, “The size of the gap between the wealthy and less well-off, as distinct from the absolute standard of living enjoyed by the poor, appears to be related to mortality.” (4) Both studies found that states with higher income inequality have all the following social problems:

* Higher death rates for all age groups.
* Higher rates of homicide.
* Higher rates of violent crime.
* Higher costs per person for police protection.
* Higher rates of incarceration.
* Higher rates of unemployment.
* A higher percentage of people receiving income assistance and food stamps.
* More high-school dropouts.
* Less state funds spent per person on education.
* Fewer books per person in the schools.
* Poorer educational performance, including worse reading skills, worse math skills.
* Higher infant mortality rates.
* Higher heart disease.
* Higher cancer rates.
* A greater percentage of people without medical insurance.
* A greater proportion of babies born with low birth weight.
* A greater proportion of the population unable to work because of disabilities.
* A higher proportion of the population using tobacco.
* A higher proportion of the population being sedentary (inactive).
* Higher costs per-person for medical care.

The correlation between income inequality and mortality rates for all ages was significant. (Berkeley found a correlation of 0.62, with P — the chance that the correlation could be zero accidentally — being less than 0.001; Harvard found a correlation of 0.54, with P less than 0.05.) (5)

Both studies found that each state’s average or median income did not predict its mortality rate. But inequality turned out to be a significant predictor, and remained so even after accounting for such possible confounding factors as smoking and drinking rates, household size and household income. The last one is especially important, because it means that the death rate is correlated not only to absolute poverty, but relative poverty as well.

via Liberal Resurgence

I doubt things have changed much as far as the cause of crime goes, or who is doing what, etc., etc., etc.

Title via Dead Man Walking the movie.

Feast YOUr Racing Eyeballs On This

Tbogg on HNN?!!

Red Light Debut for Exoctic Metamaterial via /.

Light waves consist of alternating electric and magnetic fields that interact with materials as they travel, or propagate. This interaction determines a property of the material called its refractive index, which is a measure of the behaviour of light as it passes through the material. The refractive index describes the way the light waves bend when they enter and leave the material and the speed at which they propagate.

The refractive index of normal materials is always positive – 1.0003 in air, about 1.5 in ordinary glass, 2.1 in zircon, and 2.4 in diamond. In the mid-1990s, however, John Pendry of Imperial College London realised that it was possible to construct artificial materials in which the refractive index could be negative.

Less heat, more light.

Let’s all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born

Enough About You

While the mainstream media were having lunch, members of the audience made other plans. They scattered and are still on the move, part of a massive migration. The dynamic driving it? It’s all about you. Me. And all the various forms of the First Person Singular.

Americans have decided the most important person in their lives is … them, and our culture is now built upon that idea. It’s the User-Generated Generation.

Now I am not a journalist, but I know Americans didn’t decide who Time’s Pep of the year is or isn’t. (Which might give some indication to the falling ratings of MSM news,) but in the spirit of things I’ll fix the title, “Let’s all (all the various forms of the First Person Singular.)get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your (all the various forms of the First Person Singular.) mother was born” so as to include all the yous of yous guys and maybe even double you you too. That would be “W” in newspeak for brevity between advertisements.

And all this?!! It came from here at the Register of all places.

Even more improbably, Time claims that “you control the Information Age”. This, on the day that news broke of an identity theft involving more than 100 million Americans, and as citizens challenge the pervasive state monitoring by the unholy hairball of telecomms companies and state agencies.

Is this so, oh Elliot?

Juan’s a little hot;

That does it. Elliot Abrams must go. Elliot Abrams is a felon. He was involved in stealing Pentagon weapons from US stockpiles, selling them to the Ayatollah Khomeini, and then stealing the Iranian funds so garnered to give to far-right Central American death squads, and then lying about all this to Congress. The Congress in the Constitution controls the budget. The Congress had cut off money to the rightwing death squads supported by Reagan and henchmen like Abrams. This elaborate criminal conspiracy inside the White House was the Right’s response. They shredded the Constitution (and ever since have been calling their critics “unpatriotic.”)

In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of lying to Congress under oath. Without the plea deal, he was facing felony charges, since what he did was in fact a felony.

Congress pledged that Abrams would never work at a high level in government again. But by the time the Neoconservative cabal in the Bush administration got Bush to appoint him to the National Security Council, there had been so much turn-over in Congress that, one member told me, “no one remembered who Abrams was.”

The scandal that just won’t die.

Oh Well

Written by peter green.

I cant help about the shape Im in
I cant sing, I aint pretty and my legs are thin
But dont ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to

Oh well

Now, when I talked to God I knew hed understand
He said, stick by my side and Ill be your guiding hand
But dont ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to

Oh well

This is a post for all the bored bloggers
and the authors who want to try,
don’t give up until the final knife is slipped
you’ll never know why until you try.

This is a post for all the next big thing seekers
thinking that life might pass them by
the only thing you’ve missed is inside your head
set it free before you die.

This is a post for my blog readers
something to sing received on the fly
I know there really isn’t very much to sing about
I suppose that’s what makes ya’ll drop by.

So Long Analytics

So much for Google’s Analytics. Apologies to all for the inconvienience.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Let’s Be Blunt About the “Surge”

You have to surge with what’s left of the Army you’ve got, but the rip tide is what is going to carry it out.

The State of the Army

The Regular Army (active force) is going to break, split wide open from stress and grief and family loneliness. There are not enough units to rotate in and out of the war in any way that human flesh can bear indefinitely. We have to have more brigades of regular soldiers to carry the burden. Rumsfeld’s snotty remark about going to war withe army you have rather than the one you would prefer is now revealed as more than boorish. It is the description of approaching disaster, a disaster which will take decades to repair in the fabric of the Army to say nothing of the wreckage of our place in the world.

All of this for; Stalingrad on the Tigris?

Now, I’ll wage Pat Lang and I are about as far apart politically and culturally as two Americans are apt to be, and I am aware of his historic role in American affairs, but I think he is on the money here. In doing what is best for our troops, and our nation, we share the hope that it is what is best for our world.

Those of us on this side of the water have the leisure of fluffing through the priorities of importance and impact of this and that institution or person, which those we send into harms way, and those whom we sanitize as collateral damage do not.

Dreams are goals without plans or purpose, and it is time for the nightmare to end.

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z 12/10/06 – 12/17/06 archive

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Crime Is the State

via War and Peace, and a big year end thank you to Laura Rozen for making me read WaPo articles when I really, really, really was disinclined to do so.

‘National interest’ halts arms corruption inquiry

A major criminal investigation into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and its executives was stopped in its tracks yesterday when the prime minister claimed it would endanger Britain’s security if the inquiry was allowed to continue.

US Prepares To Invade Iraq Yet Again

Bush ready to send more troops to Iraq
Pentagon to move 3,500 troops to Kuwait
Options Weighed for Surge in G.I.’s to Stabilize Iraq

The Urge to ‘Surge’ — It has to be resisted

Third times the charm?

Friday, December 15, 2006

You read ’em, I’ll write ’em

If you could air mail me a letter
and tell me all those things,
that you’ve been seeing so much better,
since you got elected golden wings.

Now I’m not expecting any angels
to purify the throne,
maybe just mow back the tangles
and curb your dogs at your own homes.

Chorus

Well, sometimes things just turn out as expected
I wouldn’t really want it any other way
So just don’t feel dejected
when tomorrow’s not today.

Now if I only had a guitar
with more than just one string
I’d put it all together like a big star,
then I’d only have to learn how to sing.

Well they say it snowed in Kentucky,
but no one seems to really care,
and if no one gets offended I’ll be lucky
and go spend some time visiting over there.

Chorus

Well, sometimes things just turn out as expected
I wouldn’t really want it any other way
So just don’t feel dejected
when tomorrow’s not today.

The Final Hurrah on the “MSM”

Having gone around and around with lawyers on the net I have no inclination to go through a debate about the definition of is, or, or, or objectivity, which, as with all terms English, can expand to mean whatever any group of lawyers decide it could mean at any given moment in time. It’s the legal equivalence of observing a particle or measuring it’s wave, but it is always logical according to all the lawyers in the vicinity of the debate, especially if a layman is present, or apt to be present, and so therefore in need of wherefores, and concurring opinions and comportments.

Journalists are a lot like lawyers too. One of the basic lessons of, “Where There’s a Will, There’s an A.”, is that the ol’ prof is a human being just like the student. Students tend to be a little more optimistic about the ol’ prof’s humanity to overcome his duty and responsibility for their perceived good, but they learn. You can paint with a broad brush and be a lot wrong about a lot of people, or zero in on a single error by any individual and be wrong about too, or you can read an individuals work long enough to know that they are really are just whores.

One of the problems with the visual media is the ease of manipulating it to fit a view point. It is a lot easier for most people to blow off the editorial pages of the printed press, than it is that of radio and television since the former is less fashionable amongst the illiterate.

The point of this post, was to highlight the conservative weighting in Thunk Tanks consulted and representatives appearing on television as opposed to that of liberal institutions and representatives is not a new, post 911 development. One of the reasons CNN succeeded was because the big three had tanked.

As a final breaking my arm to pat my back, I can remember when, 50,000! people! are! online! now!, was internet news, and so some old things just need to be repeated until the information reaches a critical mass.

Happy Hanukkah,

Without nog or marijuanukkah,

…In the whole enterprise of revealed religion, the Jews are the grown-ups, looking down tolerantly (at best) on the children’s games of the Gentiles.

In another generation this was so obvious as to provide material for a stock joke (“So young, and already Jewish?”). What makes the Christmas season so stressful for Jewish children is that they have the misfortune to be both Jewish and children, at a moment when the entire Gentile world is given over to a child’s view of things. The Christmas spirit, however, is almost, but not quite Christian; if we look more deeply into the Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, we find Puritan virtues obscured by Dickens’ slanderous portrait.

In the person of the Christ child, Christendom embraces the world as newly created and full of promise, in all its innocence and hope. I use the term “Christendom” rather than “Christianity”, for the subject of Christianity is Christ crucified, for whom the infant in the manger is only foreshadowing. Easter, not Christmas, is the center of the Church calendar. Christmas lends itself to pagan syncretism more than any other Christian festival, not only because of the accessories (Yule, tree, holly and so forth), but because it is not Christ’s birth, but rather his death, that constitutes his self-revelation.

No Christian sect ever banned Easter, but the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1659 did in fact ban Christmas, imposing fines on whomever did not turn up for work on Christmas Day. The Puritan leader Increase Mather inveighed,

The generality of Christmas-keepers observe that festival after such a manner as is highly dishonorable to the name of Christ. How few are there comparatively that spend those holidays (as they are called) after an holy manner. But they are consumed in Compotations, in Interludes, in playing at Cards, in Revellings, in excess of Wine, in mad Mirth …

Puritan distaste for “Christmas spirit”, by the way, is why Dickens’ Scrooge bears the Christian name “Ebenezer”, an Old Testament reference that reveals a dissenting Protestant background, and the sort of Christian asceticism that would eschew Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Spengler.

General Says Army Will Need To Grow More Cocaine

Like this is news.

So they can fight more wars, so they can have bigger armies, so they can grow more cocaine…

Reminds me if another “war'”s campaign.

I don’t doubt the General is expressing a genuine concern, but the logic of the warrior is counter productive to peace sometimes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Look Back, a Way Forward

A Way Forward, a Look Back
by By Robert Parry at least leaves one hopefully optimistic here. Good read via Antiwar.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Looking Back: Liberal Media Bias in 1995

Update: This is from Steve Kangas’s Liberal Resurgence web site. My bad.

Myth: The U.S. has a liberal media.

Fact: The media are being increasingly monopolized by parent corporations with pro-corporate or conservative agendas.

Summary

The U.S. media are rapidly being monopolized by a dwindling number of parent corporations, all of whom have conservative economic agendas. The media are also critically dependent upon corporations for advertising. As a result, the news almost completely ignores corporate crime, as well as pro-labor and pro-consumer issues. Surveys of journalists show that the majority were personally liberal in the 1980s, but today they are centrists, with more conservatives than liberals on economic issues. However, no study has proven that they give their personal bias to the news. On the other hand, the political spectrum of pundits — who do engage in noisy editorializing — leans heavily to the right. The most extreme example of this is talk radio, where liberals are almost nonexistent. The Fairness Doctrine was designed to prevent one-sided bias in the media by requiring broadcasters to air opposing views. It once enjoyed the broad support of both liberals and conservatives. But now that the media have become increasingly owned and controlled by corporations, conservatives defiantly oppose the Fairness Doctrine. This is probably the best proof that the media’s bias is conservative, not liberal.

Argument

Conservatives often promote the myth that the U.S. media are liberal. This myth serves several purposes: it raises public skepticism about liberal news stories, hides conservative bias when it appears, and goads the media to the right. GOP strategist William Kristol also reveals another reason: “I admit it: the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.” (1)

In unguarded moments, however, even far-right figures like Pat Buchanan come clean: “The truth is, I’ve gotten fairer, more comprehensive coverage of my ideas than I ever imagined I would receive.” He further conceded: “I’ve gotten balanced coverage and broad coverage — all we could have asked… For heaven sakes, we kid about the liberal media, but every Republican on earth does that.” (2)

So what’s the real story? The fact is that conservatives have powerful friends in the media: the corporations that own them, and the corporations that pay for their advertising. These giant firms have been increasingly successful in bending the media’s message to suit their self-interests, which include a conservative and pro-corporate agenda. Studies show that the media are eerily silent on the issues most important to workers, consumers and other citizens adversely affected by corporate behavior. Conservatives respond to these charges with (old) polls showing that most journalists are personally liberal, but these polls are outdated. New polls show the majority of journalists are centrists. And of those who are not centrists, there are more conservatives than liberals on economic issues. We’ll explore more of this question below.

The Media Monopoly

Easily the most famous book on media trends in the last 15 years is Ben Bagdikian’s 1983 book, The Media Monopoly. In it, he predicted that deregulation under President Reagan would allow media ownership to concentrate in fewer and fewer corporate hands. This, in turn, would result in a more pro-corporate media. Ridiculed as “alarmist” when it first came out, it has since been praised as a classic for the accuracy of its predictions. “I derive no pleasure from having been correct,” writes the former dean of American journalism in his most recent edition. (3)

To be specific, the number one trend within the media today is that they are rapidly being monopolized by large corporations. Technically, the term “monopoly” is incorrect when describing today’s media — what we actually have is a shrinking media oligopoly. Most scholars use the term “media monopoly” only because that’s the direction the media are headed. This essay will also use the term “media monopoly” to denote the direction, rather than the current status, of the media.

The dangers of a media monopoly

Before reviewing the statistical evidence of the media monopoly, which is undisputed even by the media themselves, we should make certain of its dangers.

The incentives for buying media organizations have long been obvious to Wall Street, which has seen vicious competition break out to capture the remaining media markets. These incentives were articulated in 1986 by Christopher Shaw, a Wall Street expert who has handled over 120 media mergers. Shaw told investors that media buy-outs would give them two things: “profitability” and “influence.” (4)

There is nothing inherently wrong with either profitability or influence, of course — it’s just that in a monopoly, they would be abused. Consider the abuse of profits. All the usual market failures would be present in a media monopoly: the captive market, the rise in prices, the drop in quality, and the exploitation of consumers.

But significantly more troubling is the monopolization of influence. If one person controls all information, there are no opposing viewpoints so essential to keeping public and scientific debate honest. We profoundly condemn the monopoly of information by the state, as exemplified by Joseph Goebbels’ “Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment.” But this danger is no less evident if a single business takes over the control of all information in society. Then all information would come from a corporate point of view, silencing the voices of workers, consumers and other citizens who are affected by corporate behavior. Democracy is based on the assumption that opposing viewpoints can be heard. If corporations could somehow eliminate or control populist debate, then we will not have a true democracy.

The potential for abuse by corporate owners is obvious. Just one example was General Electric’s earlier buyout of NBC News. General Electric is the 10th largest company in the United States. It is a major Defense contractor and an international player on the world market. It is sensitive to the needs of its clients, who come from all sectors of the economy. It is also a fact that GE has suffered many a scandal throughout its history. During the Great Depression, it cut the life of its light bulbs by one-third to drive up profits. It was convicted of an illegal agreement with a German arms company during World War II. It has been convicted of fraud, fixing bids, conspiracy and tax evasion. (5) In all these cases, control of a major media outlet would have given it undue influence, whether in the market or before Congress or the courts.

Furthermore, GE has played an active role in conservative politics. Shortly after the company acquired NBC, a GE executive announced that NBC should start a political action committee to contribute money to strengthen the company’s influence in Washington. Failure to cooperate, the executive said, would raise questions about the employees’ “dedication to the company.” (6) Later the President of NBC News clarified that its news employees would be exempt from contributing, but this hardly removes the larger conflict of interest.

It should not be surprising that these parent companies, like most big businesses and all Defense contractors, are extremely conservative. They have agendas: they desire lower taxes, fewer lawsuits from the public, fewer environmental restraints, better public relations (a euphemism for less public exposure to scandals), higher profits and more effective lobbying power in Washington. Controlling public opinion would give them all these things. Ironically, it would not be necessary for a single winner to emerge from the take-over wars. Shaw maintains that by the year 2000, all U.S. media will be in the hands of six giant corporations. Most business analysts agree with him. (7) One can safely assume that they will all have the same business and political agenda.

The statistical evidence of a media monopoly

That said, let’s review the evidence of a media monopoly. Ownership of all forms of media (newspapers, magazines, radio shows, network television, cable, journals, books, movies, videos and cassettes) are quickly being consolidated under a few corporations. In all, the number of dominant corporations who control any form of media has shrunk from 46 in 1981 to exactly half in 1992: 23. At the end of World War II, 80 percent of all newspapers were privately owned. Today, that figure is its exact opposite: 80 percent of all newspapers are owned by corporate chains. From 1960 to today, the number of corporations which own newspapers fell from 27 to 14. (Gannett Company, which publishes USA Today, is the largest, with 87 other daily newspapers.) From 1981 to 1988, the number of corporations who owned magazines fell from 20 to a mere three. Television news is dominated by four major networks, who control up to three-fourths of the audience share. (8)

One of the most obvious signs of this trend is that cities are becoming “one-newspaper towns.” One of the persons most responsible for buying out competing newspapers is Rupert Murdoch, who says that his worldwide strategy is acquisition and takeovers. (9) Another is Allen Neuharth, chairman of Gannett Company, who told a group of Wall Street investors that “No Gannett newspaper has any direct competition.” (10)

Since the 1992 edition of The Media Monopoly, media mergers of unprecedented scale have continued unabated — but there’s no discussion of the dangers involved, or the controversy it should represent. Disney has since bought ABC, Westinghouse has bought CBS, and Time-Warner has bought Turner Broadcasting System. Congress cleared out the remaining obstacles for still more media mergers by passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Headlines in the media blared about the bill’s attempt to censor pornography on the Internet, but otherwise remained completely silent about its deregulation of anti-trust laws for the media. For this bit of censorship, the Telecom Act was voted the number one censored story of 1995 by Project Censored.

The cable industry offers a perfect snapshot of media monopolization and all its dangers. After the cable television industry was deregulated in 1984, prices soared, quality of programming plummeted, and cable systems began selling their channels in indivisible blocs that prevented subscribers from voting with their dollars. From 1986 to 1990, the cost of basic service rose 56 percent — twice the rate of inflation. (11) The problem? Growing monopolization, at several levels. There are now 11,000 cable systems across the nation, almost all of them exercising a local monopoly over their municipal region. They in turn are controlled by a handful of national companies. By far the most dominant is the phenomenally expanding TCI, which is a gatekeeper over national programming. Its owner, John Malone, owns all or part of 25 national or regional cable channels, including Turner Broadcasting. (12) Because there is little or no competition, cable programmers search for the cheapest shows to produce. Quality of programming has sunk to network TV levels. It seems that each year, Congress passes yet another cable deregulation bill. Every single one has been touted to “open competition” and “benefit the consumer.” But the concentration of power in the cable industry keeps getting worse, not better.

Another source of pro-corporate bias: advertising

Owning and monopolizing the media is only one way that corporations introduce a pro-corporate bias into the media. An equally pervasive one is advertising.

Most media depend on the sale of corporate advertisements to stay alive. Without advertisements, a medium would have to charge its customers a higher up-front price for its product. But that would kill its circulation, since competitors would offer up-front prices that were considerably lower or even free. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The consumer actually pays a higher price for the advertiser’s products, which then go to the media.

Advertising has been criticized on many grounds: it is inefficient, wastes time and resources, is terribly unpleasant, stifles free market competition, helps sustains long-term advantages to giant corporations, and makes people buy products for psychological reasons instead of economic ones like cost, quality and demand. Entire essays could be written on each of these shortcomings, but what we will address is how advertising injects a pro-corporate bias into the media.

The media generally cannot run stories that offend corporations, because sponsors will threaten to pull their advertising dollars. In 1980, the liberal staff at Mother Jones debated over whether or not to publish a series of articles linking cigarettes to cancer. The editors knew that the tobacco industry would punish them by canceling their lucrative advertising contracts, which the young, struggling magazine desperately needed. Mother Jones stuck to its principles and printed the articles anyway; and, just as expected, the tobacco companies angrily pulled their ads.

And whereas a parent corporation like GE has a particular set of interests that NBC would never report against, advertisers have general interests that reporters would never tilt against either. A publisher never knows who the next advertiser might be; therefore it’s good policy not to write offensive things about any corporation, or even corporate culture in general. No news organization could attract advertisers if it persistently attacked the corporate agenda.

Evidence of pro-corporate bias in the media

Obviously, parent corporations and advertising sponsors have the ability and incentive to twist journalists’ arms, but do they actually? The answer is both yes and no. Media owners and advertisers are generally prevented from interfering in the editor’s office because of 75 years of improving journalist ethics. Back in the 1920s, the blatant manipulation of the news by owners resulted in “Yellow Journalism” and the sort of corruption so brilliantly captured by the movie Citizen Kane. But that does not mean that owners today still do not exert influence over their editors. Ben Bagdikian writes that owners let the editors operate freely until a story arises that affects the company’s interest. Then one of two forms of influence will be exerted. It may be a direct order, as when the Chairman of General Electric called the President of NBC News after the 1987 stock market crash and told him not to use words in their reporting that would adversely affect GE stock. (13) (The NBC News president claimed he did not pass on the order.)

Or it may be an unspoken agreement. Editors and writers know what their employer’s interests are, and they protect them without being told. Why? Either to demonstrate their dedication to the company, thus protecting their future promotions, or simply because they fear being fired. Unfortunately, it is a frequent practice for owners to fire journalists who, knowingly or not, write against their particular interests. Just one of many examples is the owner of the Dallas Morning News, who fired Earl Golz for writing a story about an imminent bank failure that outraged the owners of the Abilene National Bank. Golz’ story proved true — the bank crashed a few weeks later — but Golz’ was not rehired. (14) To be sure, other journalists witnessing his fate would practice self-censorship whenever it came to protecting their owner’s interests.

Whether owners interfere explicitly or implicitly in the newsroom, evidence of it continually surfaces. Here are just a few examples:

* During the debate on health care reform, the New York Times ran stories persistently in favor of managed competition, a program which would have been profitable to major health care corporations. Other proposals for reform, like the Canadian single-payer program, were criticized or ignored. Reason: four members of the Times board of directors are also directors of major insurance companies, and two are directors of pharmaceutical companies. (15)
* Victor Neufeld, the executive producer of ABC’s top-rated news show 20/20, repeatedly rejected several promising stories on nuclear power hazards. Reason: His wife is a prominent spokesman for the nuclear and chemical industries. (16)
* Walter Annenberg, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, used his paper to attack a candidate who opposed action that would have benefited the stockholders of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Reason: he was the single largest stockholder. (17)
* Rupert Murdoch’s Post endorsed President Carter in the crucial New York Presidential primary, contributing to his victory. Reason: two days earlier, Murdoch had lunch with Carter, convincing him to lean on the Export-Import Bank of the United States to give him a taxpayer-subsidized loan of $290 million. The bank had previously rejected the loan. (18)
* A four-month study by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) analyzed how the New York Times and Washington Post covered NAFTA. Of the experts quoted in their articles, pro-NAFTA outnumbered anti-NAFTA sources by three to one. Not a single labor union representative was quoted. Reason: these newspapers’ boards of directors are drawn from big business. (19)
* Journalist Elizabeth Whelan asked ten major women’s magazines to run a series of articles on the rise of smoking-related diseases in women; all ten magazines refused. Reason: “I frequently wrote on health topics for women’s magazines,” says Whelan, “and have been told repeatedly by editors to stay away from the subject of tobacco.” (20)

The above stories are anecdotal, but they show specifically how editors and advertisers interfere with the objectivity of the media. Now let’s look at broader statistics. All feature the same theme: the power of editorial selection. Editors play a crucial role in deciding which stories get covered and which ones don’t. This is an important tool for shaping and influencing the nation’s debate. Due to the abuse of this power, three giant trends have grown within the media as big business continues to monopolize it:

The first is that pro-labor stories are almost completely absent, even though blue-collar workers make up the vast majority of this nation’s work force, and indeed the news media’s audience. The majority of stories should include the conditions they work under, the challenges they face, the wages they earn and the hazards that maim and kill them. But the media is curiously silent on nearly all these natural topics. In 1989, researcher John Tasini studied ABC, NBC and CBS for a year to see how much coverage was devoted to workers’ issues, including the minimum wage, workplace safety and child care. He found it amounted to a dismal 2.3 percent of all coverage. In fact, all three networks carried only 13 minutes of coverage on workplace safety for the entire year! The worst offender was NBC Nightly News, who devoted a total of 40 seconds to worker safety. This is not surprising, since its parent corporation, GE, has an appalling work safety record. (21) Elsewhere, a Los Angeles Times poll found that 53 percent of the nation’s newspaper editors were pro-management, but only 8 percent were pro-labor. (22) The pro-corporate bias of our media is one of the most important reasons for the decline of labor unions in this country.

The second trend is the increasingly conservative selection of experts to be quoted in the news. Think tanks are ideal places to find such “experts.” (True academics have a low opinion of think tanks, which are simply propaganda outlets for the giant corporate foundations that pour millions of dollars into them.) Think tanks are highly partisan, and the quality of their work is mediocre at best. Why? They lack the checks and balances which keep academia honest, such as peer review, the scientific conference and independence of funding. Unfortunately, it has been a growing trend in journalism to rely on think tanks more than academia. That’s because think tanks have conducted an aggressive campaign to become media friendly, packaging their findings in nice sound-bites and faxed press releases. This is in stark contrast to academics, who have little interest, expertise, funding or organization to conduct mass media relations. And this is not to mention that corporate-owned media organizations are encouraged to gather their facts from corporate-funded think tanks.

So, how many times do journalists quote conservative think tanks over liberal ones? The media watchdog FAIR conducted a Nexus search of major newspapers, radio and TV transcripts for 1995, and came up with the following answer:

Total Number of Think Tank Citations in Major Newspapers, Radio
and TV transcripts: (23)

Conservative 7792
Centrist 6361
Progressive 1152

Although there are far more conservative think tanks than liberal ones in the first place, reporters could easily balance the facts if they wanted to simply by consulting academics at universities.

The third trend is that when news organizations cover corruption in Washington, it is always politicians who get the blame, and never corporations. This is one reason why Americans hate politics, why voter anger has been rising over the last 20 years, why the people’s trust in Congress has reached its lowest point in half a century. But this one-sided anger is illogical. The politicians are getting the money from somewhere. Big business, of course, need not fear being exposed as the ones donating the money and requesting the shady favors in the first place; after all, a watchdog doesn’t bite its master. It is interesting to note that when President Clinton became embroiled in a campaign contribution scandal on the eve of his re-election, the corporate media made sure to choose a foreign corporate lobbyist to blame.

To be sure, if Westinghouse were to get caught laundering millions in drug money, CBS News would report the story in a straightforward fashion. But otherwise, the searchlight is directed away from business and onto politicians. Even once liberal news magazines like 60 Minutes, which proudly took on corporate criminals in the 70s, has considerably toned down its approach towards the Fortune 500 today, and concentrates on everyone else.

The personal biases of journalists

The claim that the U.S. has a “liberal media” began with a book called The Media Elite, by S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman and Linda Lichter. Their 1980 survey of journalists revealed that journalists were indeed much more liberal than the rest of America, a point which no one disputed. However, the authors then went on to make a second claim: that these liberal journalists inserted their own personal bias into the news. This second claim has not withstood academic scrutiny. (Click on the following link to see why.)

However, that debate is archaic today, because new studies show that today’s journalists are more centrist than anything else. However, those who are not centrists identify themselves more frequently as conservatives on economic issues, and more frequently as liberals on social issues.

The following study was conducted by David Croteau of Virginia Commonwealth University. (24) He targeted Washington bureau chiefs and Washington-based journalists who cover national politics and/or economic policy. His questionnaires went to 78 national news organizations, with an emphasis on the following 14:

1. ABC News /ABC Radio
2. Associated Press /AP Broadcast News
3. Bloomberg News
4. CNN
5. Knight-Ridder Newspapers/Tribune Information Services
6. Los Angeles Times
7. NBC News
8. New York Times
9. Reuters America, Inc.
10. Time
11. USA Today/USA Weekend
12. Wall Street Journal
13. Washington Post
14. Washington Times

The 141 journalists and bureau chiefs who responded were an excellent cross-section of the target group as a whole. When their positions on political issues were tallied up, this was the result:

Q#22. On social issues, how would you characterize your political orientation? Q#23. On economic issues, how would you characterize your political orientation?
Left 30% Left 11%
Center 57% Center 64%
Right 9% Right 19%
Other 5% Other 5%

What caused journalists to shift over the last 15 years from liberal attitudes to centrist ones, even conservative ones on economic issues?

One answer, of course, is that the media’s parent corporations began hiring less liberal journalists. But another answer has to be the exploding salaries of celebrity journalists. It is a common observation in political science that receiving a higher income tends to make a person more economically conservative.

Between 1980 and 1995, the salaries of celebrity journalists sky-rocketed. In 1995, Diane Sawyer made $8 million; Ted Koppel, $5 million; David Brinkley, $1 million; George Will, $1.5 million; Cokie Roberts, $700,000. (25) These salaries place them in America’s richest 1 percent (actually, the top one-twentieth of the top 1 percent). Keep in mind that the top 1 percent saw their wealth explode during the 80s, eventually coming to own 40 percent of America’s wealth. These celebrity journalists live and work in centers of power like Washington D.C and New York City, where they rub elbows with the nation’s political and business elite.

Says PBS producer Stephen Talbot:

“There’s an Our Town quality to official Washington — a very small, incestuous world of politicians and press who are now almost interchangeable. The press was once known as ink-stained wretches. But in their tuxedos and evening gowns at an event like the White House Correspondents Dinner, they resemble nothing more than the politicians they cover.” (26)

Newsweek columnist Jonathon Alter concedes:

“I’m a part of this so-called overclass — and so are my bosses and many of my colleagues at Newsweek and elsewhere in the national media. There’s no point in denying it.” (27)

And all evidence shows that celebrity journalists identify with the various elites they cover. Recently, ABC weathered a scandal (due to lack of coverage, naturally) in which its journalists were criticized for accepting huge speaking fees before big business groups. It turns out that corporate lobbyists cultivate “friendships” not only with politicians, but TV journalists as well. They were paying Cokie Roberts, David Brinkley and Sam Donaldson between $20,000 and $35,000 per 40-minute speech. David Gergen collected over $700,000 from speaker fees in one 16-month period alone. In general, the speeches have been very friendly to big business, and that is why lobbyists were willing to pay such huge honoraria. In a 1992 speech, for example, David Brinkley described Bill Clinton’s tax increase on the rich as a “sick, stupid joke.” (This was even before he called Clinton “boring” on the eve of his 1996 reelection.) In July, 1994, ABC finally advised its journalists to stop accepting speaker fees from corporations and lobbying groups. The decision was immediately protested by Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, David Brinkley, Brit Hume and others. (28)

The ironic thing is that Cokie Roberts is a Democrat, as are many of her colleagues. Again, this underscores the fact that inside the Beltway, a “liberal” is often no more than a moderate conservative.

Does personal bias result in media bias?

Granted, journalists have their own personal viewpoints, ranging from liberal to conservative. But what does that really mean? Very little, it turns out.

The idea that the media’s message can be boiled down to the personal biases of individual journalists is profoundly and absurdly reductionist. The media is composed of individuals, yes, but it is also composed of institutions, organizational structures, traditions, rules, social and economic forces, and interest groups applying pressure. And all these things affect the media’s message in profound ways.

For example, consider the rule of balanced sources. Under normal circumstances, journalists get both sides of the story. This is a basic rule of thumb that every journalist knows, and is taught in every Journalism 101 class. It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative; it is widely considered unethical to present only one side of the story. The only time that this ethic seems to break down is when a conflict of interest arises between journalists and the corporations that pay their paychecks.

But this ethic doesn’t stop corporations from “legitimately” biasing the media towards conservatism. All they have to do is hire pundits who are mostly conservatives themselves. Pundits enjoy a unique role in the media, in that they are expected to be biased. In fact, the more outrageous their opinions, the better. Whereas a reporter must stick to the facts and report both sides, pundits are free to interpret them any way they want. What this means is that criticism of reporters for their alleged liberal bias is actually misplaced. It is really the political spectrum of pundits that we should worry about.

Unfortunately, there are far more conservative pundits than progressive ones:

Conservative pundits: Pat Buchanan, Fred Barnes, John McLaughlin, David Gergen, Robert Novak, William F. Buckley, Jr., George Will, William Safire, Cal Thomas, Jonathon Alter, Joe Klein, Robert J. Samuelson, James Kilpatrick, Rush Limbaugh, and hundreds of other conservative radio talk-show hosts.

Centrists (self-described): Sam Donaldson, Mark Shields, Michael Kinsley, Morton Kondrake, Al Hunt, Jack Germond, Hodding Carter.

Progressive pundits: Jim Hightower (cancelled), Barbara Eirenreich, Molly Ivins.

Conservatives freely admit to this bias themselves. Here’s Adam Myerson, editor of the Heritage Foundation’s Policy Review:

“[Pundit] journalism today is very different from what it was 10 to 20 years ago. Today, op-ed pages are dominated by conservatives… We have a tremendous amount of conservative opinion, but this creates a problem for those who are interested in a career in journalism after college… If Bill Buckley were to come out of Yale today, nobody would pay much attention to him. He would not be that unusual… because there are probably hundreds of people with those ideas [and] they have already got syndicated columns.” (29)

In fact, no one can deny the extreme right-wing bias of the pundit spectrum after listening to talk radio. Conservatives have captured an entire media arm and devoted it almost exclusively to corporate and conservative propaganda. Liberal talk-show hosts are almost non-existent. Conservatives blame this on the low ratings of liberal talk show hosts, but this is a curious argument, since liberals form the largest political school of thought in America. The fact is that corporate owners simply do not promote liberal talk show hosts. When ABC first hired Rush Limbaugh, they spent millions promoting him, ghost-writing his books and arranging appearances on Nightline, The McNeil/Lehrer News Hour and even Phil Donahue. No liberal talk show host has received anything even remotely resembling this kind of promotion. It’s just another way that corporations ensure the conservative slant of the media.

The Fairness Doctrine

The United States once had a law which attempted to balance viewpoints in radio and television: the Fairness Doctrine. Created by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, this law required broadcasters to cover controversial issues with some opposing views. It required neither the internal balancing of programs, nor for equal time, nor for all opinions to be heard. It merely prevented broadcasters from airing relentless, one-sided propaganda.

An example of the Fairness Doctrine in action was the ABC movie The Day After. This anti-nuclear war movie angered many conservatives like Henry Kissinger, who believe that the willingness to use nuclear weapons is actually a deterrence to war. However, Kissinger got a chance to respond to the movie on national television, for Nightline followed the movie with a group discussion that included Kissinger and other conservative pundits. The reason why ABC was so even-handed, presenting both a liberal and conservative viewpoint on nuclear war, was because the Fairness Doctrine required them to.

Another example was controversial state ballot measures. The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to air both viewpoints of any initiative. It is interesting to note that since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed in 1987, studies show that the media’s treatment of many initiatives has been heavily one-sided. (30)

Why the Fairness Doctrine? Why not just let the market produce what it wants? The market works fine in the case of print media, because almost anyone can afford to print something, even if it’s just a flyer. However, this is not the case for radio and television. In the 1920s, the airwaves were unregulated, and became so overcrowded with signals that they jammed each other. The Federal Communication Commission therefore started issueing licenses for broadcasters to use certain radio frequencies. Because the spectrum is so limited, however, there can only be a limited number of broadcasters. Diversity of opinion cannot be achieved by adding more stations, but only by creating it within stations. This is the rationale for the Fairness Doctrine.

Up until the late 1980s, the Fairness Doctrine enjoyed broad popular support, ranging from the left-wing ACLU to the right-wing National Rifle Association and Accuracy In Media. In 1987, Congress considered a bill that would inscribe the Fairness Doctrine in federal law. It passed with overwhelming support in the House (3 to 1) and the Senate (nearly 2 to 1). Even such far-right legislators as Newt Gingrich and Jesse Helms voted in favor of it. (31)

Unfortunately, Reagan vetoed the law, and then went a step further: his FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine completely. Reagan had staffed the FCC with corporate media types who were bent on deregulating the media at all costs, and were thus hostile to the Fairness Doctrine. It was the equivalent of letting the fox guard the chicken coop. Shortly afterwards, Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives were free to take over AM talk radio, without fear of giving equal time to liberals.

Interestingly, media corporations have fought all subsequent attempts by Congress to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine — a sure sign that they have an incentive to avoid balanced coverage. Rush Limbaugh has gone so far as to slander it the “Hush Rush Law.” (In fact, Rush would not be silenced, nor even forced to internally balance his program.) Today, conservatives have done a complete 180 on the Fairness Doctrine: their one-time support has turned into angry opposition.

This speaks volumes about the true bias of the media. It also shows conservative media criticism to be highly incoherent. If the media were truly as liberal as they claim, they would jump at the chance to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, for it would give them a voice they didn’t have before. The fact that they oppose it so vigorously proves that they know when they have a good thing, and don’t want to give it up.

A solution: public media

The manipulation of the media by the interests that control it proves the need for major reform. There are a number of good suggestions, but by far the best is expanding public media. This is media supported neither by advertisements nor parent corporations, but by the taxpayers themselves. With only the American people to answer to, public journalists are free to investigate businesses as aggressively as they do government. In fact, journalists in public media should be elected, just as politicians are elected. The media prides itself on being the “Fourth Estate” or “fourth branch of government.” We should recognize this fact by making it true.

Of course, the private media would be free to continue operating as before. The creation of a truly public media would be just one more player on the block — but a player that has no secret agenda and is more responsible to the people.

Europe has a much stronger tradition of public media than the U.S., and it has worked superbly for them. In the U.S., our experiment with public media is limited to National Public Radio and National Public Television — both underfunded, both under severe attack by the Republican party. With the GOP threatening to cut off its funding, NPR has recently backed off its criticism of corporations. It should also be noted that our “public” media depends rather heavily on corporate donations. This is a mistake. Progressives argue that the U.S. should strengthen its public media, and institute reforms that insulate it from all political and economic influence. And only then will we have a media that truly operates “without fear or favor.”

Related Essay: ABC and the rise of Rush Limbaugh

Return to Overview

Endnotes:

1. Both quoted by Norman Solomon, “Politics: What is Disinformation?” San Francisco Bay Guardian, August 8, 1996.

2. Ibid.

3. Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984 [1992]) p. ix.

4. Bagdikian, p. 11, quoting The Executive Enterprise Briefing Book (New York City), October 20-21, 1986.

5. Bagdikian, p. 209, citing Jerry de Muth, “GE: Profile of a Corporation,” Dissent, July/August 1967, pp. 502ff.

6. Bagdikian, p. 209, quoting The New York Times, December 10, 1986, p. I.

7. Bagdikian, pp. 5-6.

8. Bagdikian, pp. 17-26.

9. Bagdikian, p. 4.

10. Bagdikian, p. 67.

11. Study by the federal General Accounting Office, cited in “Cost of Cable Service Up 56%,” Washington Post, July 19, 1991.

12. Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, Through the Media Looking Glass: Decoding Bias and Blather in the News (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995), p. 3.

13. Bagdikian, p. xvii.

14. Bagdikian, p. 37, citing The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 1982, p. 17.

15. Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, Through the Media Looking Glass, (Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1995), pp. 78-82.

16. Cohen, p. 66.

17. Bagdikian, pp. 41-2, citing John Cooney, The Annenbergs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982), pp. 292-5.

18. Bagdikian, p. 41, citing The Washington Post, May 13, 1980, p. A7.

19. Cohen, p. 235.

20. Bagdikian, p. 172.

21. Cohen, p. 125.

22. Cohen, p. 124.

23. Nexis search conducted by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Here is a more complete chart:

Media References to Major Think-Tanks in 1995

Think Tank /Political Orientation / References

Heritage Foundation / conservative / 2268
Brookings Institution / centrist / 2192
American Enterprise Institute / conservative / 1297
Cato Institute / conservative-libertarian / 1163
RAND Corporation / center-right / 795
Urban Institute / center-left / 749
Council on Foreign Relations / centrist / 747
Center for Strategic and International Studies / conservative / 612
Hoover Institution / conservative / 570
Progress and Freedom Foundation / conservative / 570
Carnegie Endowment / centrist / 517
Freedom Forum / centrist / 496
Progressive Policy Institute / centrist / 455
Institute for International Economics / centrist / 410
Economic Policy Institute / progressive / 399
Hudson Institute / conservative / 354
Competitive Enterprise Institute / conservative / 298
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies / progressive / 255
Manhattan Institute / conservative / 254
Reason Foundation conservative/libertarian / 229
Worldwatch Institute / progressive / 201
International Institute for Strategic Studies / conservative / 177
Institute for Policy Studies / progressive / 161
Center for Defense Information / progressive / 136

24. David Croteau, “Examining the ‘Liberal Media’ Claim: Journalists’ Views on Politics, Economic Policy and Media Coverage,” (Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, June 1998). A copy of this report can be found online at http://www.fair.org/reports/journalist-survey.html.

25. Cohen, pp. 6-8.

26. “Why Americans Hate the Press,” Frontline, XV/October 1996.

27. Jonathon Alter, “Cop-Out on Class,” Newsweek, July 31, 1995, p. 49.

28. Cohen, pp. 6-8.

29. Adam Myerson, editor of the Heritage Foundation’s Policy Review, Newslink, 11/88.

30. Jeff Cohen, “The ‘Hush Rush’ Hoax: Limbaugh on the Fairness Doctrine,” EXTRA! (11-12/94)

31. Ibid.

The Mid East Map

The New Middle East Cold War: Saudi/Israel/Lebanon versus Iran/Syria/Iraq/Hizbullah

One of Juan Coles best posts.

You say goodbye

Nice site

Time for the Geminid meteor show

It’s prime time for holiday meteor show

It’s hard to imagine anything more bone-chilling than lying on the ground in mid-December for several hours at night. But if you’re willing to bundle up, the reliable Geminid meteor shower is due to reach its peak late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

As Gemini is beginning to climb the eastern sky just after darkness falls, there is a fair chance of seeing some “Earth-grazing” meteors. Earthgrazers are long, bright shooting stars that streak overhead from a point near to even just below the horizon. Such meteors are so distinctive because they follow long paths nearly parallel to our atmosphere.

By around 9 p.m., Gemini will have climbed more than one-third of the way up from the horizon. Meteor sightings should begin to increase noticeably thereafter. By around 2 a.m., Gemini will stand high overhead.

Bunkle Up and take your girl.

Now we’re headed into the twilight zone

Bush v. The Two Majorities Robert Dreyfuss

President George W. Bush, who is being shadowed these days, and rather ominously, by a suddenly revived Vice President Cheney, confronts two hostile majorities opposed to his Iraq policy. The first is American, growing in power, that demands a U.S. withdrawal from the Iraqi quagmire. The second, also growing, is even more potent: It is the Iraqi majority that wants a quick end to the U.S. occupation of their country.

If, indeed, President Bush is determined to flout both of those majorities in pursuit of a phantasmagorical notion of “victory” in Iraq, then the future is grim beyond all measure. The latest news from Iraq—namely, that Bush and Ambassador Khalilzad are trying to micromanage the creation of yet another pro-American coalition government to replace the current regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki—is a sign that the president is truly lost in a fantasy land. The president is making policy for an Iraq that exists only in his imagination, even as conditions in the real Iraq, the one here on this planet, deteriorate ever faster.

Given that Khalilzad is an original PNAC signator I would imagine that whatever was in their little pumpkin heads back then is still rolling around in there with the seeds and rot we have come to familiar with.

I’m not sure how this would tie in to Josh’s post, but given the nature of war, etc., your guess is as good as anyone elses.

Why You Read Blogs

Viewpoint: The Virtual Ummah

This one of those articles you really have to read if you want to have any clue whatsoever of the fears underlying modern conservative thinking. These observations are chock full of prospects that could develop into the worst case scenario that is driving the conservatives ideology, and hence the buzz in the mainstream media outlets.

You have to use your own mind however to observe that these developments are not the exclusive the property of any single religion or ideology. That is the antidote to the fear. It only becomes a propaganda war when fear is the only motivation for thinking about the future, but I digress.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Ghost of Barney Fife @ DHS

The Square Root of Terrorist Intent

I’ve already written about the DHS’s database of top terrorist targets and how dumb it is. Important sites are not on the list, and unimportant ones are. The reason is pork, of course; states get security money based on this list, so every state wants to make sure they have enough sites on it. And over the past five years, states with Republican congressmen got more money than states without.

Here’s another article on this general topic, centering around an obscure quantity: the square root of terrorist intent:

The Department of Homeland Security is the home of many mysteries. There is, of course, the color-coded system for gauging the threat of an attack. And there is the department database of national assets to protect against a terrorist threat, which includes Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo in Woodville, Ala., and the Apple and Pork Festival in Clinton, Ill.

And now Jim O’Brien, the director of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security in Clark County, Nev., has discovered another hard-to-fathom DHS notion: a mathematical value purporting to represent the square root of terrorist intent. The figure appears deep in the mind-numbingly complex risk-assessment formulas that the department used in 2006 to decide the likelihood that a place is or will become a terrorist target — an all-important estimate outside the Beltway, because greater slices of the federal anti-terrorism pie go to the locations with the highest scores. Overall, the department awarded $711 million in high-risk urban counterterrorism grants last year.

Hey Baby, Que Paso?

Texas Comptroller reports undocumented immigrants good for economy

The report titled “Undocumented Immigrants In Texas: A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy” found that ““the absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.”

ht Tom Paine

HELP WANTED: Blog writer

Tom DeLay: I Don’t Write My Own Blog Oh, Reeeeaally??

During an appearance last night on MSNBC, DeLay was asked about the mechanics of writing for his new blog. “Well, I’m not a very good writer,” DeLay acknowledged. “I have the ideas, and I have somebody else put the words together.”

ht TPMmuckraker

Updated:Tom DeLay: Blame Americans First

Here’s another major Republican name who blames Americans first for the problems in Iraq — and will explain why. Tom DeLay, appearing on Hannity and Colmes last night to promote his new on-and-off blog, took square aim at the real culprits for problems in the war in Iraq. “It’s the fault of the liberals and the media and the Democrats, that from the very beginning have tried to undermine the will of the American people to fight this,” DeLay said.

After Alan Colmes, in a moment of bravery, reminded DeLay that Democrats were out of power during the course of this war, DeLay nevertheless set out to explain in detail just how the problems in Iraq are the fault of liberals and other war critics. “It has nothing to do with power,” DeLay said. “It has everything to do with perception, Alan, and you know it as well as I do.”

I suppose he means the perception that the Republicans controlled the government and had the big microphones, and yet somehow the facts got in the way, presumably from those, “liberals and other war critics.”, that had neither political or mass media communication power did all that? Incredible, what’s next, the incredible shrinking budget surplus? Oh yeah, you did that.

Caesar Wept at Alexander’s Statue, The WaPo at His

Truth And Consequences

This is becoming a new theme in ruling class circles these days. Events have proven these people to be asses so they are hiding behind the fiction that if humanity manages to survive and Iraq progresses to something better than it is today, then they will have been proven right. David Ignatius popularized this convenient theory with his seminal column entitled: “Iraq Can Survive This” from July of 2005, in which he posited that even if it devolved into a civil war that lasts thirty years, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the odds are that someday it will turn into a peaceful nation, right?

Pessimists increasingly argue that Iraq may be going the way of Lebanon in the 1970s. I hope that isn’t so, and that Iraq avoids civil war. But people should realize that even Lebanonization wouldn’t be the end of the story. The Lebanese turned to sectarian militias when their army and police couldn’t provide security. But through more than 15 years of civil war, Lebanon continued to have a president, a prime minister, a parliament and an army. The country was on ice, in effect, while the sectarian battles raged. The national identity survived, and it came roaring back this spring in the Cedar Revolution that drove out Syrian troops.

What happens in Iraq will depend on Iraqi decisions. One of those is whether the Iraqi people continue to want U.S. help in rebuilding their country. For now, America’s job is to keep training an Iraqi army and keep supporting an Iraqi government — even when those institutions sometimes seem to be illusions. Iraq is in torment, but the Lebanon example suggests that with patient help, its institutions can survive this nightmare.

Given all that’s been written by and about the Post’s editorial by Flathead Fred the Wanker Extrodinaire, I’m beginning to wonder why anyone reads their editorials anymore anyway. It’s almost as if there is some sort of “reaction” to the slings and arrows of certitude when they are relayed around the bloglobe to wind up sticking painfully back in said editorial/columnist/commentator/”I Am A Conservative”/Rational on ABC’s GMA FOX commentator’s, rear end, as their marching off to Pretoria failed to secure anything resembling a passable marching song, or be remotely attached to the facts on the ground after these four long years.

Had they not placed their heads strategically in their editorial orifices it is doubtful that they would have hit a bone with their slings and arrows of wisdom and redoubts, and as such they live on to write another day, justifying their own existence with the illusions of their grand purposes of no avail, and the whither and why of their enemies. What sad, little people.

How IT IS

Knocking Opportunity by William S. Lind

Sen. McCain almost got it right. The Iraq Study Group report is not a recipe for defeat, but an acknowledgment of defeat. Therein lies its value, and its function. It offers the Bush administration the bipartisan fig leaf it needs to cover its defeat in Iraq and our inevitable withdrawal.

McCain is a poser.

One member of the study group, former Democratic Congressman Leon Panetta, was quoted in the Sunday, Dec. 10 Washington Post as saying, “I think the feeling was, how do you rescue this administration from the grip of ideology and force it to face the real world?”

Yeah, it’s the blow back man.

Ethics panel rebukes McDermott

Bwahahahahahah Serious people.

The War on Christmas Trees

Christmas trees going back up at Sea-Tac

At least Bill and Glen are spared being torn between their love of Christmas and all things Jewish. Idolatry is saved!

The War on Christmas, in Iraq

But, I never claimed to be a journalist, only a Christian.

Monday, December 11, 2006

True Blue Libertarian

How the ‘true blue’ political maverick gave the senate to the donkeys

The US Senate shifted the same way, but by only one seat. Six of seven tight Senate races went to the Democrats, including Montana. In that state, Republican incumbent Senator Conrad Burns was defeated by Democrat Jon Tester. The winning margin was only 2,565 votes (0.6 per cent).

But there was a third name on the ballot – Stan Jones – the Libertarian Party candidate. Jones received 10,324 votes (2.6 per cent). This was far beyond Tester’s winning margin. It is generally regarded by political pundits that if Jones had not run, most of his votes would have gone to Burns. Burns would have won re-election. The Senate would have numbered 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Vice president Dick Cheney would have wielded the critical, deciding, tie-breaking vote, and the Senate would have stayed Republican instead of Democrat.

What will be very interesting to fans of this column is that Stan Jones also suffers from argyria. Argyria is a weird body condition caused by the ingestion of silver. It can be acquired through breathing in silver dust, silver compounds, or taking some silver-laden folk medicines. Argyria is from the Greek argyros meaning “silver”. It was once common among silver miners, but is relatively rare today.

The most dramatic effect of argyria is that the skin and sometimes the eyes turn blue or bluish-grey. Most odd of all, once the effect occurs, it is permanent and irreversible.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ah, The Glow of Four Suns In The Middle East

Gulf states announce nuclear plan

Six oil-rich Gulf nations have said they are considering seeking nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Officials from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also urged a peaceful settlement to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The six Arab states said they were exploring the possibility of creating a shared nuclear programme.

They stressed their right to nuclear energy and emphasised that any programme would be peaceful.

Now, where have I heard that?, and is this an escalation of the danger to mankind’s existence, or a big bluff like the asteroid thing?

Why Things Are the Way Things Are

Did Rahm Emanuel lie about his knowledge of Mark Foley? Yes.

It’s possible that the Democratic takeover of Congress can result in genuine and meaningful — and desperately-needed — change for our country. But it’s also possible that it could result in nothing notable, that it will produce only the most marginal and politically risk-free actions, all justified by the need not to do anything too “extreme” due to a fear of harming their 2008 electoral prospects.

Now given that we have an House Intelligence Committee Chairman diligently studying the difference between a Sunni and Shia Islam, petulance galore over the gore of Iraq and the Gore of a cooler Earth tone, along comes a politically wise and ethically challenged Representative to divert attention away from the new way forward through Tehran.

Meanwhile the Brits are very publicly procuring Tridents, and while it might flatter, I doubt it is for Steve Bell’s and my glee. So Boris is hearing the faint reminder of the bellicosity that was once Great Britain the Empire, which long ago folded itself into the commonwealth of American protectorates.

Winging It

One of the best times for writing is when everyone is home and safe and busy sleeping or leaving me alone in diverse fashions to do so, like now. So I am just going to wing it for awhile.

I’m glad some sort of spirituality has returned to lift my “soul”, because it really is like seeing snow flakes in the sleet in South Texas, which used to be a more rare occasion it seems to memory. Of course that memory was duly impaired, but I can think of maybe five or ten times that snow flakes flickered through sleet in the last thirty years, but the time before this it snowed on Christmas Eve so hope sprang eternal for all of five minutes. Besides it aggravates the hell out of a lot of my lefty compadres, so that gives me a little sick pleasure.

I am hopeful that I am decompressing from the two dimensions of political caterwauling in time for the Holiday depression, as I have never experienced a two dimensional depression and I am not really inclined to start doing so now. I like the Instadimensional kind of depression so I have an outside chance of being right about something going wrong. It doesn’t really matter after all, it’s the ideology that counts.

Astute readers will notice that I used Holiday, instead of Christmas, suspecting I suppose, that I am launching into a tirade about the tirades on the war on X-Mas, (saving electrons there Bill, you and I know I meant Christmas.) I’m glad FOX saved Christmas for us, (Doh,) though, so I could do this. Nope, X-Mas is saved for the Japanese who know how to shop.

There is one drawback to everyone else having enough sense to sleep through the morning is I am not able to bring all three televisions into the same room and take a picture of them with their three different logos on screen with Hamilton and Baker being interviewed, for our Russian friends still nostalgic for the old Soviet style television.

Someday television will do a reality show, where people like Trent Lott understand that the Iraqi people have no framework in their lives to implement the sound American advice to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

When You See the Southern Cross for the First Time

1Sa 5:1 And the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. And the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon, and set it near Dagon.

And the men of Ashdod rose early on the next day. And, behold! Dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of Jehovah! And they took Dagon and put it back in its place. And they rose early in the morning on the next day; and, behold! Dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of Jehovah, and the head of Dagon, and the two palms of its hands, were cut off at the threshold. Only the flat part had been left to him.

On account of this the priests of Dagon, and all those coming into the house of Dagon, do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod until this day.

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z 12/3/06 – 12/10/06 archive

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Through the Browser Darkly(Twice)

Since IE 7 was available I looked at the blog and changed it up a little to look better for ya’ll I hope. Again,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Queen’s English ain’t what it used to be

Queen’s English ‘no longer so posh’

THE Queen’s famous cut-glass accent, the Queen’s English, is now sounding less upper-class, a scientific analysis of her Christmas broadcasts has found.

Researchers have analysed each of her messages to the Commonwealth since her 1952 accession using digital technology to track the shift in her pronunciation from the aristocratic Upper Received to the less plummy Standard Received.

HT Foreign Policy’s New Blog

Staying the Course is a Course of Course

Stay the Course (Chorus,)

The ISG had one chance (not a big chance, I admit, but a chance) to force a policy change. That was to clearly, and in no uncertain terms, advocate the policy that a strong majority of Americans want – a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. They failed to do that, and now they’re going to wonder why The Decider is filing their recommendations in the circular filing cabinet:

Unless of course that course is lead by a horse
of course, in which case consider the source.
(repeat Chorus as necessary)

Of Course! Of Course! Spoke the source of the horse
in a backhanded way to spur it on its’ course of course.
(repeat Chorus as necessary)

Fits and Starts

We Can’t Wait for 2008

The irony is that all the negative outcomes they list – “a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy” – are the consequences of the war the U.S. government initiated. It created a power vacuum when it destroyed the Ba’athist regime. It inflicted great human suffering by, first, imposing draconian sanctions, then bombing great portions of Iraq into a pile of rubble. The Anglo-American occupation is the cause of region-wide destabilization now proceeding at a rapid pace, and al-Qaeda is already celebrating its victory – which was won the moment George W. Bush gave the command to invade. As for eventually being “required” to return – this is only true if we accept the interventionist premise the commissioners all share, which assumes that no region of the world can long exist without American meddling.

In spite of its flaws, however, the Baker commission report is a giant leap forward in more ways than one: to begin with, it breaks the long-standing taboo against talking to the Iranians and the Syrians. Secondly, it links the question of Palestine to the broader issue of maintaining peace in the Middle East, and, not only that, it also acknowledges the centrality of the Palestinian problem. Our Israel-centric policy in the region has ruled out dealing with either of these aged sore spots: the great value of the Baker-Hamilton report is that it reasserts the necessity of pursuing American interests, as opposed to purely Israeli interests. As such, what John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt call “the Lobby” is already screaming bloody murder at this aspect of the report – and it’s music to my ears.

More on the Liberal-Libertarian Convergence

Finding a Home

Brad Lindsey penned an interesting look at the chances for a fusion between liberals and libertarians. The piece is actually a pretty sober analysis, but there are insurmountable differences between the two, as Kevin Drum points out. Lindsey’s argument in particular should be read in full.

I do believe that, in its purest form, Libertarianism is incompatible with either party. Putting aside the huge differences any Libertarian would have with Bush’s policies concerning international affairs, a social Libertarian would be unable to support the GOP, what with the rise of the theocrats within it and the party’s recent proclivities towards a controlling government abandoning civil liberties. An economic Libertarian cannot support gun control, a progressive tax policy or national health care. The real question is whether an individual Libertarian can relent in either area, and if so, which is more important to that Libertarian.

Six Facts not Noted

What the media aren’t telling you about the Iraq Study Group report

Pentagon’s underreporting of violence in Iraq

Lack of knowledge regarding insurgency and militias

Shift of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan

Lack of Arabic speakers

U.S. considering extending National Guard and Army reserves deployments

Spending on Iraq war is subject to little scrutiny

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ISG – Iraqi Sorta Gurus

One of the more difficult aspects of dealing with a new Congress trying to re-establish its’ credibility and an Executive with no such inclination is drawing the line between sincere efforts and the same old bait and switch, which the new Congress is wanting to have both ways, and an Executive that considers deception the beginning and end of domestic politics and policy.

It may be a defining moment in our history when an independent panel decides that they need to issue a seventy nine point thesis by nailing it to a sitting President’s arse. It is only a matter of degree removed from the hubris that lead to the invasion of Iraq in the first place.

Nothing in politics happens by accident, so the report and Tony Pip in Stockings showing up at W’s desk at the same time is a little auspicious I would think, unless of course the Brit just wanted to show off the new neck tie style of bold stripe running diagonally the other way, which was also an uncalled for development coming unbidden at Christmas time.

I suppose it has become habitual with the Brits to come to America for Christmas, Tridents and ill prepared for wars. They like Wilsonian intervention more than our military industrial complex since it involves no work on their part. AntiSocial Security for old Motherlands.

Maybe someday there will be a pre-emptive blogger war and all us old geezers can sit around in our shorts issuing uncalled for retorts to future generations not only about their habitual inability to understand the past, but their habitual inability of leaving it all behind as well.

Aussie Give the Eagle the Bird

We spurn US on new Iraq role

AUSTRALIA has turned down a request from the Bush administration to “embed” Australian army troops with Iraqi units as the US-led coalition moves to recast its military presence in the war-torn country.

The outgoing US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, first raised the issue of increased Australian involvement in training Iraqi forces with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson several months ago.

The Pentagon’s proposal would involve placing small numbers of Australian soldiers in Iraqi units in a training role to help lift their overall operational capability.

Australia’s 750-strong military presence already includes several dozen personnel embedded in the US-led coalition headquarters but no troops formally assigned to Iraqi units.

Will it take one. or two aircraft to take the entire Aussie contingent out of Iraq?

A Note to Serious People

I couldn’t help but notice the ISG’s call for unity and common purpose amongst the American people, which one must conclude is an appeal to the sixty percent of da wee da peeple who didn’t vote, as the opinions of the other forty were pretty clear. Thanks for the primer though.

As I recall, the call for bi-partisanship went out almost as soon as the elections were over, and of course the losers decided that was also a fine idea in two months, so we are pretty much stuck where we were before all the hard work of lifting sheet rock, (sorry work has different definitions in different places in America,) your asses out of retirement to slobber into microphones about everything everyone already knew anyway.

I know I may sound like I’m being rough on the ISG, but then we can only imagine the laughter behind the Oval office walls. I can only think of it as my, “refusal to mourn a father’s breakdown, by sire, of a failure in Washington.”, moment.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I’ve Seen all Good People Turn Their Heads Each Day…

IO in the US? Legitimate or not?

This oped piece, written by the Iraq command’s chief information officer can only be seen as propaganda. It was placed on the neocon compliant editorial page of one of the leading American newspapers. The intended audience is obviously the American electorate. This is domestic propaganda conducted by the armed forces on behalf of the policy of a particular political party and administration. It is propaganda directed at the American people by a man in the uniform of the United States Army. The American people revere their Army.

In the Court of the Crimson King

The dance of the puppets
The rusted chains of prison moons
Are shattered by the sun.
I walk a road, horizons change
The tournaments begun.
The purple piper plays his tune,
The choir softly sing;
Three lullabies in an ancient tongue,
For the court of the crimson king.

The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams.
I wait outside the pilgrims door
With insufficient schemes.
The black queen chants
The funeral march,
The cracked brass bells will ring;
To summon back the fire witch
To the court of the crimson king.

The gardener plants an evergreen
Whilst trampling on a flower.
I chase the wind of a prism ship
To taste the sweet and sour.
The pattern juggler lifts his hand;
The orchestra begin.
As slowly turns the grinding wheel
In the court of the crimson king.

On soft gray mornings widows cry
The wise men share a joke;
I run to grasp divining signs
To satisfy the hoax.
The yellow jester does not play
But gentle pulls the strings
And smiles as the puppets dance
In the court of the crimson king.

(A little fiddling going on here too.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bloggin’ in the morning, bloggin’ in the evening…

Johnson rep reveals blogging

GREAT FALLS – Bowen Greenwood, spokesman for Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson, has acknowledged that he is the conservative blogger known as NeoMadison, the Great Falls Tribune reported Saturday.

The newspaper quoted a Nov. 15 posting on the What’s Right in Montana blog in which Greenwood wrote: “For the past month or so, there’ve been some folks who like to post about my real-world identity here and on other blogs. … The partisan hack in me hates to see liberals having fun, so I figured I’d just take the game away.”

Yes, we are all important now.

The online response to Greenwood’s announcement came quickly.

“Hey, I know your mother, a good, sensible, liberal woman. Does she know you hold these Neanderthalic knee-jerk political opinions?” demanded a poster dubbed “anonymous.”

He works for Geico also too?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Really??? Check.

I’m not to sure that an administration that hounded Sen Shelby for leaking is all of a wondrous sudden, having Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff leaking about Iraq’s PM so as to become a public face to be better accepted on television when the leaked Rumsfeld Styrofoam snowflake leaked. So what or why these two canards?

I suppose the administration’s competence level ought to rise with the resignation of Mr. Bolt on from the post that he was to be shortly fired from at the UN. I guess no one’s going to shed any tears for this end of the PNAC signatories, who will be rehabbed and rerun by television so as to give Col. North or JEB a running mate to extol on the, “Weep for me, Argentina,” networks in 2008 or 2012. Oh, if only Madonna had made her fame and coffee table book before the Christian Coalition signed on to the Republican Party.

I am really beginning to understand the US MSM’s concern with the secretive cabal in Moscow rolling back democratic, capitalistic reforms in Russia, as they are threatening the cabal in Washington’s race to the bottom of half those barrels. Of course all the dark horse canidates and front runners are all forming exploratory committees for President, so we don’t need to pester the journalists to look into the decline of open government in America. After all, the rubber chicken circus and bread are the necessary staple of a stable democracy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Have You Called Your Mother?

Big Brother Knows

It is also worth remembering — because it seems to have disappeared almost completely from our public memory — that USA Today revealed earlier this year that the NSA continues to compile comprehensive records of every telephone number which every person inside the U.S. calls, every telephone number from which they receive calls, and the duration of the calls. We hear about these things, express a day or so of outrage, and then proceed with docility to accept it:

The Next Scandal

The House of Death

The US media have virtually ignored this story. The Observer is the first newspaper to have spoken to Janet Padilla, and this is the first narrative account to appear in print. The story turns on one extraordinary fact: playing a central role in the House of Death was a US government informant, Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, known as Lalo, who was paid more than $220,000 (£110,000) by US law enforcement bodies to work as a spy inside the Juarez cartel. In August 2003 Lalo bought the quicklime used to dissolve the flesh of the first victim, Mexican lawyer Fernando Reyes, and then helped to kill him; he recorded the murder secretly with a bug supplied by his handlers – agents from the Immigration and Customs Executive (Ice), part of the Department of Homeland Security. That first killing threw the Ice staff in El Paso into a panic. Their informant had helped to commit first-degree murder, and they feared they would have to end his contract and abort the operations for which he was being used. But the Department of Justice told them to proceed.

Too Hot to Handle?

Why the Republicans Lost in 2006

US government approves dotcom contract

For one, the revised contract now allows the US government to decide what happens with the internet’s most important properties based on what it, and it alone, decides is in the “public interest”. But more fundamentally, the USG will decide on the dotcom contract in 2012 – three years after it should have ended its control of the internet’s overseeing organisation ICANN and allowed it to become an autonomous international body.

What that means in reality is that even if the US government sticks to its promises this time around and releases ICANN from its grip in 2009, it will still retain control over who owns the internet’s most important property – the dotcom registry. That news is likely to infuriate international governments already annoyed at what they see as US government duplicity. It also raises the worrying possibility that the USG will go back on its word a second time and insist on retaining oversight of ICANN when its “Joint Project Agreement” with ICANN ends in three years’ time.

Always just a little too slick, baby.

Oh Yeah

I’m updating the blog again.

Because of the Power of Kos

No Pandering Here

I’ve Been Thinking About Our Fortunes

and I’ve decided that we;re really not to blame…

Denialists Dig In

There is a mood on the right at this moment that is not entirely rational. They are lashing out at the people who can rescue them from the folly of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld policy in Iraq. They are viciously attacking those who have had the temerity to expain why they lost the last election. And they are throwing the vilest of epithets at James Baker. Please. This is not 1991. They are as graceless in defeat now as they were hubristic in premature victory three years ago. Or to put it more precisely, they are exactly what National Review accuses the Baker-Hamilton Commission of being: “driven by their own internal dynamics rather than by any connection to the real world.”

Because the love that’s deep inside us now
Is still the same.

HT DK @TPM

EZSmirkzz 3.4.Z 11/26/06 – 12/3/06 archive

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Refresher

October 1, 2002

Summary of NIE Conclusions – After the document is completed, two different versions will be released. An abridged declassified version is posted on the CIA’s website for the public, while the classified version is disseminated within the administration and to Congress (see (8:00pm) October 1, 2002). The two versions portray the threat posed by Saddam Hussein very differently. The classified version of the NIE on Iraq provides a far less alarmist view of the threat allegedly posed by Iraq than that which is presented in the public version of the document. According to US intelligence and congressional sources who read the classified document, the intelligence estimate contains “cautionary language about Iraq’s connections with al-Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al-Qaeda members about the ties.” And notably, the second paragraph of the “key judgment” section states that the estimate lacks “specific information” on Iraq’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Though the document does say that Iraq probably has chemical and biological weapons, it also says that US intelligence analysts believe that Saddam Hussein would only launch an attack against the US if he felt a US invasion was inevitable. The intelligence estimate also concludes that Saddam would only provide terrorists with chemical or biological agents for use against the United States as a last resort in order to “exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” The NIE also concludes that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. The public version of the report contains language that is far less qualified and nuanced than the classified version. [Washington Post, 6/22/2003; Agence France-Presse, 11/30/2003; Central Intelligence Agency, 10/1/2002 pdf file Sources: US intelligence and congressional sources, Stuart Cohen]

which segues into;

October 7, 2002

In a televised speech, Bush presents the administration’s case that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a threat to the security of the nation and insists that regime change would improve lifes for Iraqis. “Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq. The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan’s citizens improved after the Taliban.”

Talking points of the speech?

Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons

Saddam Hussein ordered his nuclear program to continue in 1998

Iraq is developing drones that could deploy chemical and biological weapons

Saddam Hussein could give terrorists weapons of mass destruction

Iraq rebuilding facilities associated with production of biological and chemical weapons

Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases

A very senior al-Qaeda leader received medical treatment in Baghdad

Bush claims: “Some al-Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.” The allegation refers to Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who is the founder of al-Tawhid, an organization whose aim is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. No evidence ever surfaces to suggest that the group works with al-Qaeda.

The irony of that last statement should not escape us today.

Edit: Added links

Update: I took down my comment, written in anger.

For those of us who smoke

Puffing on Polonium

WHEN the former K.G.B. agent Alexander V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210 last week, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. Exactly how it gets into tobacco is not entirely understood, but uranium “daughter products” naturally present in soils seem to be selectively absorbed by the tobacco plant, where they decay into radioactive polonium. High-phosphate fertilizers may worsen the problem, since uranium tends to associate with phosphates. In 1975, Philip Morris scientists wondered whether the secret to tobacco growers’ longevity in the Caucasus might be that farmers there avoided phosphate fertilizers.

The Needle and the Damage Done

Afghanistan Opium Crop Sets Record

Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year — for a total of 5,644 metric tons — the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.

I’m, sure this isn’t as important as Lohan and Speirs, but it ought to be up there with a Scientology wedding.

Oh, you mean in Iraq?

Corruption: the ‘second insurgency’ costing $4bn a year

Mr Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir), cites Iraqi figures showing that the “virtual pandemic” of corruption costs the country $4bn (£2.02bn) a year, and some of that money goes straight to the Iraqi government’s enemies. A US government report has concluded that oil smuggling abetted by corrupt Iraqi officials is netting insurgents $100m a year, helping to make them financially self-sustaining.

“Corruption is the second insurgency, and I use that metaphor to underline the seriousness of this issue,” Mr Bowen said. “The deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, told Sigir this summer that it threatens the state. That speaks for itself.”

So much for watching the BoA.

…when the US military handed out the guns it noted the serial numbers of only about 10,000 out of a total of 370,000 US-funded weapons, contrary to defense department regulations.

I’m sure we’ll hear nothing but outrage from the right over this report.

Does anyone else remember when it was part of the debate to convince the right that the government could actually be a positive force in the lives of men? Now the government can do no wrong, so we must subject ourselves to cavity searches at the regional airports if we wish to fly, fund ill conceived wars filled with graft and corruption that pollutes two national capitals.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two Class Acts

Marvin Kalb on State of Journalism reminds me that I still don’t know what political party Brian Lamb belongs to, although I have watched him intermittently for decades, nor Mr. Kalb.

Marvin Kalb, host of the Kalb Report, addresses the current state of journalism during this National Press Club event. Speaking to fellow journalists, he discusses the role of new technologies, the war on terror and government pressures, among other issues. Kalb recently received the 2006 Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club.
12/1/2006: WASHINGTON, DC: 1 hr.

The other act was; National Security Law Conference Address by Rep. Harman (D-CA)

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intellilgence, delivered a luncheon keynote address at the National Security Law Conference.
12/1/2006: WASHINGTON, DC: 40 min.

Mz Harmon gave an excellent update on the intel committee appointments, and her leaving of that committee, with dignity and respect, both for the leadership of the House, and her detractors. Personally I wished she had stayed, but I understand her desire to leave as well. I think she would have been a better advocate for her positions from Intelligence, but look forward to the debates.

I’m not really sure what weight the Democratic leadership puts on the blogosphere, but it must be listening at least as well as the, “Whine and who moved the cheese?” Opinionators of DC, etc.

I think Mr. Kalb is right about another thing too, there is a big difference between an “I Think…,” statement, from the Rush and Sean opinions as facts, facts as fungible school of information, and what the actual reporters are actually reporting.

Journalism right now is a thankless task because no one really wants the unvarnished truth. I may not like the way a TV news show selects and presents its’ journalism, but I still tend to believe the reporting I see on television, or read in the newspapers. But once burned twice shy, and so I go online and verify, because some really sharp people have noticed the hackzery Mr. Kalb was referring to.

Kenneth Starr Goes back to Washington DC

Supreme Court takes ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court stepped into a dispute over free speech Friday involving a suspended high school student and his banner that proclaimed “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.”

The justices agreed to hear the appeal by the Juneau, Alaska, school board and principal Deborah Morse of a lower court ruling that allowed the student’s civil rights lawsuit to proceed. The school board hired former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr to argue its case to the high court.

Oh Bong Along Starr and the Supremes, reunited for this one time event!

Yellow Submarine Republican Report As the Straw Man Churns

Josh has;

Over at National Review’s The Corner, Stanley Kurtz has responded to a post of mine in which I critiqued an earlier post of his. I must say that on the second try Kurtz has managed to make an argument even weaker than the first.

On the first go at it, Kurtz argued that the problem for President Bush was that the American people simply aren’t willing to pay the cost of Bush’s war in blood, money and years. I called that blaming the American people for Bush’s disaster.

With the second try, Kurtz carts out a new culprit: the Democrats. While acknowledging the administration’s tactical missteps along the way, Kurtz now argues that the real villains in this whole sorry mess are dovish Democrats. As he says …

From Marshall’s posts, you’d think that all Democrats were Iraq hawks–comfortable with the idea of the Iraq war itself, so long as the war involved more troops, or only against the war because of prudent calculations about troop requirements. In fact, a huge chunk of the Democratic Party was against the Iraq war from the start, and would have opposed it even if–no, especially if–they thought that war could be won … The dovish inclination of the Democratic base has acted as a major constraint on our policy in Iraq.

What appears to be the fault of the Iraqi/American people has finally been narrowed down to the dovish base of the Democratic party, representing a huge 20% of the party that might align with the antiwar Right in a coalition making up 15% of the American people, slowed down the war juggernaut’s effort with mere facts,( shot from the bowels of Delphi’s forums and the blogoshere,) which the neocons had failed to do in their manufactured specifications for reality, all due to the apparent inability of the hapless Democratic base of dovishness to find a shower and a barbershop.

Bush Foreign Policy – How Deep is the Failure?

The debate now is really over how deeply flawed Bush foreign policy is. Is Bush failure primarily about Iraq or is it rooted more deeply in philosophy and grand strategy? And if the failure is about philosophy and grand strategy, is this an indictment only of neo-conservative ideas or of liberal internationalism itself?

Given the effort to rewrite now by the neocons, I would imagine that history will show that it was really a religion, by gawd!

Before You DC Boys leave for the Bar,

Don’t blame the war lobby

Myrtle did it.

Apologies to: My wife, family, friends, passerby’s, and everyone else who doesn’t whistle at work.

For using rather Foul language, without the rather, in my first post today. I will fix it directly.

Oh yeah, to Glen Beck Too. (Sorry Glen, bolds the best I can do. (That linkity link thingy.))

Update2 Never mind Glen, different post.

Chuck does Iraq

This Is Realism?

What do people think we’ve been doing for the past five years? True, the president’s rhetoric has a tendency to go soaringly Wilsonian, e.g. the banishing-tyranny stuff in his second inaugural address. But our policies of democratization in Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon have been deeply rooted in the most concrete of American interests.

f we really had been in the grip of “idealism,” we’d be deep in Chad and Burma and Darfur. We are not. We are instead trying to sustain fragile democracies in three strategically important countries — Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon — that form the geographic parentheses around the principal threat to Western interests in the region, the Syria-Iran axis.

We are trying to bring democracy to Iraq in particular because a pro-Western government enjoying legitimacy and popular support would have been the most enduring means of securing our interests there. Deposing Saddam & Sons was essential because they posed a permanent strategic threat to the region and to U.S. interests. But their successor — the popularly elected Maliki government — has failed.

The cause of that failure is rooted in an Iraqi political culture that makes it as yet impossible for enough of the political leadership to act with a sense of national consciousness. We should nonetheless make a last effort to change the composition of the government and assemble a new one composed of those — Kurds, moderate Sunnis, secular Shiites and some of the religious Shiites — who might be capable of reaching a grand political settlement.

Everything I highlighted in bold discusses “our” need for a “democratic” Iraq, while the italics show the true colors of Mr. Krauthammer’s “democracy” and the heedless to the bloodshed his “new and improved” democracy will impose upon the Iraqi people.

The United States should be giving Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a clear ultimatum: If he does not come up with a political solution in two months or cede power to a new coalition that will, the United States will abandon the Green Zone; retire to its bases; move much of its personnel to Kurdistan, where we are welcome and safe; and let the civil war take its course

Who reads this guy regularly any more, beside Glen Beck?

Sick Puppies in DC

Oh if Only I had had more faith and other “news” from the wisemen of the neocon press having had their come to Jesus moment in Babylon now wish to blame the American people for having noticed the American elites were wrong about everything Iraq, and now are whining because some of us knew it 20 years ago.

Some how the whole issue doesn’t stack up as anything worth discussing, except the mentally deranged columnists at the Washinghands Post have decided that some of us are not their “sort” of people either, having discovered that most Americans will lie to get a free beer, they should not even dare point fingers at George Will or Charles Krauthammer for being erudite stooges of the ever succinct George W. Bush, and so rushed in with the fools where angels had dare to tread.

I have, for the most part, gotten over the fact that when the run up to the war began most of you were for it, and more than likely reading the Post, as was I, so I just assume most people made it past the editorial pages, or into the back pages of section A. No big deal, the deed is done.

The only thing that I can come up with is that the blogosphere made such a dent in their readership during the elections and mostly marginalized the expert pundidiots that they have decided it is not their sort of people who oppose their ilk with counter culture irregularity, telling the MSM and President all those things in all those ways on blogs, and see!, just look,!, it’s infecting the Democratic Party itself.

The Washington Post wouldn’t say shit if it had a mouthful of it, but it will shovel it for mass consumption for an illegal, immoral war, because that is what their “civility” is all about. They don’t talk about “their kind,” hitting on pages, or US soldiers abusing prisoners of war, because their higher moral standards demand patriotic resistance to dissent, and an abdication of their own humanity that their enablers might dehumanize all of their perceived enemies.

Good Job! Georgie!
Good Job! Chuck!

Unfortunately, you will have to wash the blood of Iraq off your hands somewhere else, I wouldn’t give you sweat if you were dying of thirst.

Update:Fixed spelling, mostly, although I overstruck some shit too. 3:29PM

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Riders on the Storm

I couldn’t help but think this morning, (yeah, yeah,) as I was sitting outside smoking a cigarette waiting for the coffee to brew, about the cold front approaching me as I sat without shirt, shoes and service contemplating God, and the diverse thoughts that always come unbidden into ones mind, almost as logical as the thoughts one has just before falling asleep aren’t. I have already encompassed the universe in my feeble thoughts.

Now for coffee and reality, whence I once again understand all things of and from God, and nothing of mankind. Having thus established my folly, I go in pursuit of a good joke to share, as “This is a day that Jehovah has made and We will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t enough to know these things, one must also not let on to those who do not.

Be peaceable today with all men, so long as it is up to you. That which the world has lost, today, may be restored from within.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Worthless Government Bonds!

Do Federal Bonds Have Any Value?

Thanks Dean! Since Sloan began his discussion with the 1983 Reagan reforms, let’s remind him that the reason why the payroll contribution was increased so much was to build up a Social Security Trust Fund reserve to pre-fund as it were the retirement benefits of the baby boomers. We’ve been over this many times and I’m sure Mr. Sloan gets the point. So what is he really trying to say? That the Reagan and Bush43 General Fund deficits have made all Federal bonds worthless? If he really believes that, I’m be glad to take them off his hands for a few pennies on the dollar. Email me Allan – and we can cut a deal!

PGL is looking to cash in on Social Security reform.

While More on October New Home Sales from Calculated Risk;

One of the most reliable economic leading indicators is New Home Sales.

New Home sales were falling prior to every recession of the last 35 years, with the exception of the business investment led recession of 2001. This should raise concerns about a possible consumer led recession in the months ahead.

You heard it here at last.

How Big is “Go Big”?

Given that every rationale for the war in Iraq has been debunked as a straw man for the next straw man until the last straw man was left strewed and strewn about the last alley in blogistan, why did we really go to war with Iraq? Or is one to assume this is a historical question too nuanced to be pertinent to the debate of how we develop and implement an exit strategy on the fly?

I have yet to hear the reason for leaving Afghanistan and attacking Iraq that has held water in any measurable way at all from the US Government. Without that key piece of information one cannot establish the motivation for going to war with Iraq at that particular time. PNAC was a rationale for a policy that neocons advocated loud and clear, and of course there was the hue and cry over the clear involvement of the Likudites and AIPAC, which must have been a diversion because it is such an obvious ploy. Who put what bugs in whose ears of those who authored the PNAC paper?

Otherwise our political leadership is insane, and one could expect Bush to put together a massive Sunni Arab co-alition to restore order to Shia Iraq while the Americans box Muqtada al Sadr to sleep on the way to Tehran.

Being, generally, hopefully optimistic until I get out of bed in the morning, and remember all the neat projects at the DoD, like using terrorist acts to expose certain elements to either popular support or outrage which would lead to a situation where the United States and what ever Three Stooges are necessary, respond to the newly created instability with an overwhelming military response, ala Colin Powell’s doctrine, this time on Iran and possibly Syria.

I can see how re-carving the Middle East in America’s and its’ Arab allies image might be conducive to world peace until the rumps of Persia and Syria rise yet again in the wheel of fertile ascents, say in five hundred years, along the rivers of Nimrod’s blood.

Update: Changed load to loud

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

From the Top

These are out of context, but rare, interviews with Dick Cheney inwhich we move from Iran to Iraq with the PLA in between and other diverse observable aspects of the interviews such as aggressive questioning by Tony Snow and Brit Hume, so you know it’s old and you know all in all, shows Dick still is.

January 27, 2002

The Vice President Appears on Fox News Sunday

HUME: Speaking of Colin Powell, we now know from newspaper reports, the Washington Times in particular on Saturday, that there is a discussion within the administration about the proper way to treat the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.

Secretary Powell apparently has recommended that before they be designated as POWs or not that their cases be dealt with by a tribunal and that they at all times be declared by us to be governed by, and our treatment of them governed by, the Geneva Convention, as best we can understand it.

What about that?

CHENEY: The actual issue’s different than that. We’re all in agreement–Colin, me, Don Rumsfeld–that these are not lawful combatants, they’re not prisoners of law.

There is a legal issue involved as to whether they should be treated within the confines of the Geneva Convention, which does have a section that deals with unlawful combatants, or whether they should be dealt with outside the Geneva Convention.

There’s another school of thought that says the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorist attacks. It was set up to deal with a war between sovereign states. It’s got provisions for dealing with civil war. But in a case where you have non-state actors out to kill civilians, then there’s a serious question whether or not the Geneva Convention even applies.

The bottom line is that legal issue is being debated between the lawyers. It’ll go to the president. He’ll make a decision.

The detainees are being treated humanely. But they are not lawful combatants. These are the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans, innocent Americans, if they can, and they are perfectly prepared to die in the effort.

And they need to be detained, treated very cautiously, so that our people are not at risk. And they also probably have information that we need to prosecute the war on terrorism.

So, they’re being treated appropriately in Guantanamo Bay, but there is this legal issue that’s going to get resolved.

HUME: What is the down side of going along with Secretary Powell’s advice on this?

CHENEY: Well, the Justice Department had other advice. Counsel’s office of the White House had other advice. It’s a dispute among lawyers about statutes, international agreements, international law, how we should treat what is now–you know, this is a new area we’ve embarked upon. We’ve not before been in the business of detaining large numbers of terrorists.

And we’ve got an ongoing war going here. And so their fate, how we deal with them appropriately, how we maintain our commitment to our values as a free and open society, how we extend to them humane treatment but at the same time deal with them the way they need to be dealt with…

SNOW: There’s no part of the difference with the Geneva Convention says all they have to do is give name, rank, serial number, birth date and what we want is a lot more information than that, so there are certain restrictions of the Geneva Convention.

CHENEY: Sure, that’s one issue.

(snip)

HUME: Just one quick question on the implications for U.S. policy with Iran, given their–what you believe is their evident role in arms to the Palestinians. Do we now–does that put Iran on the list of countries we’ve got to deal with in the war on terror?

CHENEY: Well, they’ve been there right along. The fact of the matter is, Iran has been one of the foremost sponsors of state terrorism in recent years for a very long time. And so clearly, when we attempt to deal with the worldwide terrorism problem, we’ve got to find some way to encourage Iran to change their behavior.

SNOW: Mr. Vice President, thanks for joining us.

CHENEY: Thank you, gentlemen.

January 27, 2002

The Vice President Appears on ABC’s This Week

ROBERTS: But…

CHENEY: … the principle, and you and…

ROBERTS: … there is politics.

CHENEY: There are politics, and you and I have been in town a long time. I’ve probably been here longer than you, 34 years, anyway. I won’t debate that. But during…

ROBERTS: I’d have to give you my age, which is how long I’ve been here.

CHENEY: All right. But in 34 years, I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job. We saw it in the War Powers Act. We saw it in the Budget Anti-Impoundment Act. We’ve seen it in cases like this before, where it’s demanded that presidents cough up and compromise on important principles.

ROBERTS: And they always do.

CHENEY: Exactly, and that’s wrong.

ROBERTS: So in the end, it always comes out anyway, so why…

CHENEY: It’s wrong. And–well, but the…

ROBERTS: … go through this agony?

CHENEY: Because the net result of that is to weaken the presidency and the vice presidency.

And one of the things that I feel an obligation, and I know the president does too, because we talked about it, is to pass on our offices in better shape than we found them to our successors. We are weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last 30 to 35 years.

DONALDSON: John Walker Lindh, the American who fought with the Taliban, came to a hearing in Alexandria this past week to hear the charges against him, not to plea or to have a bail bond hearing, that’ll come later.

But his lawyer clearly set up the idea that when he signed a waiver of his desire to have a lawyer and his full knowledge that anything he said would be used against him, he really wasn’t of sound mind, and it was really coercion.

Here’s a little of what James Brosnahan said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROSNAHAN: He began requesting a lawyer almost immediately, which would have been December 2 or 3. For 54 days, he was held incommunicado.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DONALDSON: He was held incommunicado while being questioned. Lawyer have a point?

CHENEY: Well, I don’t know the specifics, obviously, of what transpired in Afghanistan. We do know that he was captured with the Taliban, that he was at Mazar-i-Sharif, where prisoners rioted and staged a major battle, where U.S. personnel were killed, Mike Spann, who worked for the CIA, and he was captured within that context.

I think he has been treated appropriately up till now. The question of his fate is now a legal matter. It’s going to be adjudicated in court. He’ll be allowed to exercise his rights as an American citizen. I’m sure he’ll be treated fairly and appropriately.

What the outcome will be, I don’t know. It’s really a matter that I can’t get into and shouldn’t get into. We’ll have to wait and see what the…

DONALDSON: Let me ask you…

CHENEY: … the court (inaudible)…

DONALDSON: … about something you just said. Judging from e-mails and all of the evidence you can see, there are many, many Americans who say, This man is a traitor, and he is not entitled, he’s not entitled to the safeguards that a normal American citizen would be entitled to in a court. How would you respond to that?

CHENEY: I would disagree. I don’t like what he did, or is alleged to have done, shall we say. But the fact of the matter is, he’s an American citizen and he’s entitled to be treated in accordance with our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and he will be.

DONALDSON: Then why aren’t the prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere entitled to be treated under the Geneva Convention? It’s not just their humane treatment. I think there have been several groups go down there that have reported that they are not being mistreated.

CHENEY: They are being treated humanely.

DONALDSON: Humanely. But that they should under the Geneva Convention. There’s a story that the secretary of state is really arguing this point.

CHENEY: Well, it’s an interesting issue, Sam. Everybody in the administration, including my good friend Colin Powell, agree these are not POWs in the conventional sense, prisoners of war, that they are…

DONALDSON: Why not?

DONALDSON: … they are–they’re unlawful combatants. They don’t meet the requirement of the laws of war. They target civilians. That’s a violation of the laws of war. They don’t war uniforms, they don’t come in as representatives of the army of a state and satisfy the requirements that are in the Geneva Convention.

Geneva Convention applies specifically to war between states. There are provisions in there that apply to civil wars. But there’s a real question about whether or not the Geneva Convention, as a convention, can be interpreted to apply to the new situation we’re faced with, where we’ve got terrorist attacks on the United States aimed at killing…

DONALDSON: Will you continue to…

CHENEY: … (inaudible)…

DONALDSON: … discuss whether they should have these rights, even if you do not call them prisoners of war?

CHENEY: No, I–the legal question is, there is a category under the Geneva Convention for unlawful combatants, and one argument, the State Department argument, is, they ought to be treated within the Geneva Convention but under that convention deemed unlawful combatants, and therefore not–they don’t extend to the rights of a prisoner of war.

The other argument is, the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply in the case of terrorism, and that leads you down a different track from a legal standpoint.

The ultimate result is, they will be treated humanely, but they are not going to be accorded the treatment you would accord, for example, the Iraqis that we captured in the Gulf War, who were treated–a prisoner of war, for example, has to give only name, rank, and serial number.

These are bad people. I mean, they’ve already been screened before they get to Guantanamo. They may will have information about future terrorist attacks against the United States. We need that information, we need to be able to interrogate them and extract from them whatever information they have.

And those–so there are very good reasons why they’re being treated…

DONALDSON: I’m now stealing prodigious amounts of time from our next section…

CHENEY: All right.

DONALDSON: … but I have to ask you one final question…

Eisenhower Executive Office Building
January 28, 2002

Interview of the Vice President by Campbell Brown, NBC News

11:00 A.M. EST

Q You’re a realist, though. You do know that there is a political cost here. Is the principle worth that political cost?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I took an oath when I took — when I was sworn in to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. You have an obligation, I believe, in these offices to defend the office against the unlawful or unconstitutional or unreasonable encroachment by the other branches of government.

The way the Constitution is set up specifically provides for separation of powers. And to create a precedent where future vice presidents, for example, would be in a situation where anytime they meet with somebody, they have to call Henry Waxman and tell them who they met with, what the subject was that was discussed, giving him notes of the meetings that were taken — now, the Congressman does not have the constitutional right to insist that the President or the Vice President provide him with that information, any more than I can demand of the Congressman, look, you’ve got to tell me everybody you talked to before you cast that vote. That’s silly. That’s not the way the government works.

We sit down, we get advice from any source we want. We, in the end, make decisions, and those decisions get embodied in legislation we recommended, or in this case, in a 177-page report which is not secret, we printed thousands of copies of it, distributed it all over town. Go evaluate the report.

Enron didn’t get any special deals. Nobody got any special deals. What we did was to give our best judgment. You can argue with it, you can debate it, you can say you like it or don’t like it, but you can’t attack it by saying, well, we’re suspicious.

Q Have you and the President talked about Enron?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. Well, we’ve talked about the study, about our task force.

Q What can you tell us about those discussions?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nothing. I never talk about my conversations with the President.

Q But have you talked about this issue, the fact that —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. Of course, we’ve discussed the question of the energy report and my role in it as Vice President. And he feels as strongly as I do the importance of protecting and preserving the principles that are part and parcel of the constitutional authority of the President and the Vice President of the United States.

I cannot do my job if I can’t be — if I’m not able to deal with people in confidence. If people can’t come to me and tell me what they really think, if they can’t come and offer advice or argument without knowing that the next day it’s going to be on the front page of The Washington Post, or I’m going to call some congressman and say, okay, these people were in, this is what they said, then there’s just no way for this job, this office to function under those circumstances.

(snip)

Q Much was made over the weekend about a possible split among the administration’s foreign policy team about the detainees, the status of the detainees in Cuba. Has the administration met to discuss this?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We frequently — we meet almost daily with respect to the National Security Council and/or the principals — that’s the NSC without the President being there. I never discuss what’s on the agenda of those meetings. We’re obviously involved generally in addressing the war on terror and conducting the war on terror, but those meetings are and need to be classified.

Q But the foreign policy team, in particular, is looking at this issue and there’s obviously disagreement over the status of those detainees and how it should be handled.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I disagree with that. I think there are important questions the President has to resolve, important legal issues with respect to the Geneva Convention and how it may or may not apply in this particular instance. There’s no disagreement on the detainees. We all agree they’re not lawful combatants. We all agree that they will be treated humanely. All of that’s true. There are important other policy considerations that are being deliberated in the interagency. But, as I say, those deliberations are classified.

Q The State of the Union. The President gives his State of the Union address tomorrow. How have the priorities changed from one year ago?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, clearly, the events of September 11th have shifted the focus very much. I mean, a year ago we were focused very much on the tax bill, which we got done; we were focused on education reform, which we got done. Now, after September 11th, were in the midst of a war, we’re involved in a war on terror. It’s gone very well in Afghanistan, but that’s only the beginning. We’ve got terror cells in 65 or 70 countries around the world that we need to wrap up. So that conflict will continue for some considerable period of time. That colors everything else we do.

We’re also in a position now where we need to do much more than we ever had before with respect to securing the homeland — that is to say, making us invulnerable to attack, doing everything we can to head off and disrupt efforts to kill Americans. And that effort is underway, too.

Final point, I think, that is different today than what it was a year ago, of course, is we’re in a recession. We didn’t have — we thought we were in the beginning of a recession last year. We said as much before the inaugural. But now we’ve actually experienced, we’ve had two, maybe three quarters of negative real growth. And we think it’s vital to get the economy back on track, to provide jobs for Americans. And that will be an important part of the President’s focus, as well.

Q A year ago, though, this was a country that was enjoying — an administration that was enjoying a massive surplus. We are now looking at massive deficits —

(Nice subject transition on Dick’s part here,)

February 15, 2002
Ritz Carlton
Washington, DC

Remarks by the Vice President to the Council on Foreign Relations

12:30 P.M. EST

MODERATOR: One last very brief question, please, over here.

Q I’m surprised that nobody’s asked you about Iraq. And there seems to be a growing —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am, too. (Laughter.)

Q There seems to be a growing consensus, not only in the administration but throughout the city here, that the time is coming that we will take on Iraq. But that consensus really doesn’t extend to our allies in Europe or in the Arab world. First of all, does that trouble you? And what can the administration do to build greater international support for a more aggressive policy?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Iraq is clearly — again, as the President pointed out in his State of the Union speech — very much of concern. And not only do they have a robust set of programs to develop their own weapons of mass destruction, this is a place that has used it. You know, Saddam used chemical agents on the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War, and on his own people when he used them against the Kurds in times past. And we know he drove the inspectors out three years ago, and we know he has been actively and aggressively doing everything he can to enhance his capabilities.

He has, in the past, had some dealings with terrorists, clearly. Abu Nidal for a long time operated out of Baghdad. And so if you were to put together a list of states, given our concern of weapons of mass destruction, states that have supported terrorists in the past or have links and ties, clearly that’s got to be one we focus on.

The prospects of how we deal with sort of what comes next is where we’re going from here in terms of the overall war on terror. And several things, I guess — an important point to keep in mind is that it is a multi-faceted approach. And some of it will be visible and public, as when we went into Afghanistan to take out the Taliban. Other aspects of it may never see the light of day, probably shouldn’t. You’re clearly going to have to deal in the shadows to some extent in some of these areas.

And in the pursuit of our objectives, the President has made it clear that this will be a priority, that we will use all the means at our disposal — meaning military, diplomatic, intelligence, et cetera — to address these concerns. And I would hope that any nation out there that finds itself contemplating dealing with those organizations or developing that kind of capability will think twice about whether or not they want to face the possible wrath of the United States, and the kind of threat that that would represent.

So, you know, we don’t talk about prospective future actions. But I think if aggressive action is required, I would anticipate that there will be the appropriate support for that, both from the American people and the international community.

MODERATOR: One of the council’s few enduring virtues is to end meetings on time. It is an honor for any American organization, a great honor, to have the Vice President of the United States. It’s also a great honor to have just Dick Cheney. (Applaus

Pat Lang and Firedoglake Diss Rags, Old Bags

War Drums at Washpo

Based on this editorial as “capstone” for many other recent pronouncements, I judge the editorial page of the Washington Post to be a neocon rag.

Pat Lang

Well Is It Or Isn’t It?

Graham’s role in shaping the paper’s pro-war ediorial stance has largely been overlooked. But rather than put Hiatt’s tit in the well-deseved wringer once again, let’s take a look at the political leanings of the man he largely speaks for:

There will probably be a some sort of haggling over rights to the “Bag in the Rag,” game and other spin offs such as “Howell or Howl, poem or fiction?”

It’s the World I Know

They lied their way into Iraq. Now they are trying to lie their way out

For those who lied their way into this war are now trying to lie their way out of it. Franco-German diplomatic obstruction, Arab indifference, media bias, UN weakness, Syrian and Iranian meddling, women in niqabs and old men with placards – all have been or surely will be blamed for the coalition’s defeat. As one American columnist pointed out last week, we wait for Bush and Blair to conduct an interview with Fox News entitled If We Did It, in which they spell out how they would have bungled this war if, indeed, they had done so.

So, just as Britain allegedly invaded for the good of the Iraqis, the timing of their departure will be conducted with them in mind. The fact that – according to the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett – it will coincide with Blair leaving office in spring is entirely fortuitous.

More insidious is the manner in which the Democrats, who are about to take over the US Congress, have framed their arguments for withdrawal. Last Saturday the newly elected House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, suggested that the Americans would pull out because the Iraqis were too disorganised and self-obsessed. “In the days ahead, the Iraqis must make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for their future,” he said. “And the Iraqis must know: our commitment, while great, is not unending.”

Bush blames al-Qaida for Iraq violence

The US president, George Bush, today denied that Iraq was descending into civil war and said al-Qaida was behind the violence sweeping the country.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Same old story, same old song and dance,

What Greenwald says.

I have been going through the archives I built leading up to the war to end all Congressional oversight of executive power under the bogus arguments of national security and the greater war on terrorism, democracy and republicanism, which the media powers to be have dubya’d the “War with Iraq.”

Certain things stick out about Sept and Oct of 2002, mostly pure political ballyhooing from the neoconpoops about the UN needing to do this or that the Bush Administrations way or they would be irrelevant;

“This is a chance for the United Nations to show some backbone and resolve,” Bush said during a Camp David appearance with an ally, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “But make no mistake about it: If we have to deal with the problem, we’ll deal with it.

“Saddam Hussein has defied the United Nations 16 times,” Bush said as he stood next to Berlusconi, each wearing a jacket but no tie. “Not once, not twice — 16 times he has defied the U.N. The U.N. has told him after the Gulf War what to do, what the world expected, and 16 times he’s defied it. And enough is enough. The U.N. will either be able to function as a peacekeeping body as we head into the 21st century, or it will be irrelevant. And that’s what we’re about to find out.”

or the Congress, especially Tom Daschele’s Senate Democrats, needing to act before the elections so they could become irrelevant;

White House officials said the U.N. must act within weeks to satisfy Bush, and must force dramatic and immediate concessions from Hussein. Vice President Cheney set a high bar for Hussein in an interview broadcast yesterday, declaring that it will not “be enough here to simply invite inspectors back in.”

Cheney, appearing on CNN’s “Novak, Hunt & Shields” in an interview taped Friday afternoon at his residence, pointed to intelligence reports that Hussein has built “significant additional capability” to his arsenal since inspections four years ago. “He’s going to have to produce it, and he’s going to have to destroy it,” Cheney said.

The military brass has voiced internal resistance to invading Iraq, largely because of concerns about the strain of a long occupation. Cheney signaled a potentially important concession by saying the administration might increase force size in the budget to be proposed in February. The Army, which has had heavy deployments in the Balkans for seven years, would likely be the biggest beneficiary of additions to the ranks. “I don’t think we’ve reached that conclusion yet,” Cheney said.

White House officials said that even as the U.N. debate continues, Bush will increase pressure on Congress to support formally the use of military force against Iraq. Bush said in the address that he welcomes congressional hearings about Hussein.

“Congress must make it unmistakably clear that when it comes to confronting the growing danger posed by Iraq’s efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction, the status quo is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Cheney said that waiting to hold the debate until next year, which some Democrats have suggested because of November’s elections, “would be a very foolish idea.”

(“http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A18742-2002Sep14?language=printer”)

adios Tom.

I spent more than a couple of hours going through reporting back then and it is an interesting topic all on its’ own. There is actually some very good, concise reporting, often relegated to the back pages of the once, all influential W Post and NY Times.

Not only were so many of us political novices right about the facts as presented by the War Party, we were also right about the political manipulation of the American media by the Administration, and consternation at how to inform the media, ( which I firmly believe, within the context of the times and the unity of the American people in a desire to protect ourselves from attack, really wanted to believe the President of the United States,) over the right wing onslaught against the liberal MSM, that they were being duped for pure political gamesmanship.

Now, as Mr. Greenwald has pointed out, the same political manipulators are trying to cover their tracks. I’ve got news for you boys and girls too.

The fact that the center and right have concluded that this may be the best option for proceeding forward in the governance of America in both foreign and domestic policy may indicate a dangerous underestimation of the American left, and perhaps the necessity of drinking another beer and thinking about it some more. A willingness to work with the major factions of the Democratic Party does not equal a willingness to be sold out by the same political tools that sold out four years ago.

Now that you can count on.

Update: HT ESChaton

Update 1+1: Sheesh

On victory in Iraq: “[V]ictory will mean displaying for the world the evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and the horrors and torture of a generation of abuse by this dictator and then rebuilding the country with a multi-national coalition, and the emergence of an indigenous, transparent, moderate, democratic regime in Iraq run by the people of Iraq for them. I think that that will be a marvelous victory.” (CNN, Larry King Live, 3/19/03)

On the NSA domestic surveillance program: “I believe the program is essential to US national security and that disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities. . . . Due to its sensitive nature, I have been barred from discussing any aspect of this program. . . .[However] I am deeply concerned by reports that this program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda[.]” (Harman press release, 12/21/05)

I mean this stuff is just laying around people!

The Real McCain ain’t the Real McCoy

Do we need another T.R.?

Liberals and conservatives alike fail to truly reflect his views, McCain writes, because “neither emphasizes the obligations of a free people to the nation.”

The “Nothing wrong with me, everyone else is screwed up,” McCain.

HT TPMCafe

US College Campuses Still Hot Beds of Inactivity

Meanwhile back at the ranch;

What is the Mission? Or, Russian Roulette

Senator Chuck Hagel’s argument for withdrawal is powerful, but it focuses on the botched character of the American enterprise in Iraq and the monetary expense and cost to our military force structure. Those are important arguments, but could be countered by the White House as insufficiently urgent to require a withdrawal.

That is why I think it is important to keep the focus on the question of the US purpose in occupying the Sunni Arab regions of Iraq. Every time you hear someone say that we have to keep the troops in Iraq, press that person to explain what the mission is exactly and how and when it will be accomplished.

And if all of this should have a reason,
we would be the last to know.

HT Atrios

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Observations and Duties

Never discuss politics or religion in bed.

It is probably time to clean the car port since the cats no longer walk along the stuff perched against the wall looking for lizards, due to the precarious nature of the hasty stacking of, “what’s this doing in the house?”, accumulations, which my neighbors think I store outside for the sole purpose of dragging down real estate values. Lax and Offend liberalism at rest.

Anyway, light posting today because the youngest of the family ought to get to plug in the Christmas lights, which means I have to move a bunch of stuff out of the attic to the carport to get to the Christmas stuff, and hence the cats will be caught between curiosity and necessity, which is always entertaining.

Smile

The Continuing Woody Guthrification of Bob Dylan

by emptypockets

Doonesbury, circa 1985:

Mark Slackmeyer: “It’s three o’clock in the morning, and do you know where the children of the sixties are? Do you care? Dr. Dan Asher does, and as the baby boom’s Boswell, he’s back to give us the latest on everyone’s favorite generation!”[…]

Doctor Dan: “You see, Mark, a truly cohesive generation only comes along once or twice a century. That’s why the boomers will be tracked for the rest of their lives. This generation is like a great comet, blazing through the firmament, carrying with it a dream as boundless as the universe itself!”

MS: “Whew… How will we know when it’s over?”

DD: “‘Esquire’ will run a piece on the hot new funeral homes.”

… and Bob Dylan will be turned into a Broadway musical.

Boswell?

Baby Boom Relatively Clueless in Technological Explosion

Experts Concerned as Ballot Problems Persist

OK, from the top. Look into the computer code. Computer code tells a computer what to do and how to do it. These problems aren’t occurring in a corner.

After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Oh. Never mind. HT DK