••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

day 987

this is a choice?!

in pennsylvania, seniors have 52 different medicare prescription drug plans to choose from.

when will gops learn all that folk want is to choose their own doctors and drug stores and get full coverage on everything?

when will gops learn that too many choices is no choice at all?

cut & walk!

right, don't cut and run. too much "hurry" can lead to serious errors—as we've seen since we went into iraq without taking enough time to make sure we were right to invade and had the army we needed.

frankly, we behaved as if we were panicked.

well, the best way to stop a crowd stampede is that parade marshals toward whom the crowd is running should raise their hands and shout "walk!"

now we know our invasion was misguided and poorly planned—not to mention illegal—and there's only one way to rectify that: in a nice orderly fashion, let's get the hell out!

you're doin' a heckuva job, bushy!

but either we withdraw according to our own timeline, or—when we finally pull out—it'll look like we were driven out.

and we will pull out someday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

day 986

flush caption

finally saw a closed caption typo that made sense and—were it correct—would support the gop claim to be the "party of ideas."

cnn's international newscast today said prez bush will make some speeches meant to "flesh out his thinking" on iraq.

but the closed caption said "flush out his thinking...."

now there's an idea!

chipping away at the v

sen ted stevens (r-ak) held a hearing on "decency" today. i have little doubt nearly all his colleagues envied him.

the US senate has to be the most prudish and puritanical legislative body in the western world. i still recall the judiciary committee's reaction to anita hill's testimony: hushed, shocked, and stunned.

it will come as no surprise that the pretext for much of the fuss is to protect children. that's the reason congress mandated putting v-chips in tv sets and programming them to use a hollywood-type rating system instead of something adults could use too.

about 2 out of 3 tv-owning households have no kids, but we all have to pay for a v-chip when we buy a tv, so why can't we set them to weed out whatever content we don't like?

say i have no problem with sexuality, nudity, or strong language but prefer to avoid violent shows—or any other combination. the v-chip could've been set to do more content-specific screening, but congress chose to follow jack valente's recommended ratings instead.

that's representative government?

hurry! hurry! buy! buy! buy!

images of friday's shoppers running into stores, knocking each other down, fighting over goods, and getting "wrestled to the ground" by security guards, appeared on tv news over the weekend too often to avoid.

last night some of them showed up on the daily show too.

i don't know why i didn't think of writing about it sooner. maybe i felt too much revulsion.

no wonder i hate shopping.

so this is how we get flu


thanx capt fogg

Sunday, November 27, 2005

2nd coming plus

capt fogg posted these quotes from yeats and jefferson.

here's the rest of yeats' second coming.

day 984

savvy 3, no savvy 403

these are the only members of the house of representatives that voted for immediate US troop withdrawal from iraq:

McKinney, Cynthia; Georgia, 4th
Serrano, Jose E.; New York, 16th
Wexler, Robert; Florida, 19th

all are dems, of course.

but most dems thought the bill was a "political stunt."

they should've voted for it anyway.

now pro-war demonstrators hold signs saying "403-3," as if the vote outcome means they've won overwhelming support for the war.

iraq body count

this tabulation of civilian deaths is based (according to the website) on "comprehensive analysis" of media reports, not surveys.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

983 days

GI iraq deaths link

who'da thunk it?

i think everything is evolutionary.
roger ailes, foxnews chair, 10/11/05

subjectivity?

caught a few snatches of media panel on c-span early this morning, including this (sorry i don't know who said it) tidbit:
people are more offended by errors of interpretation than by errors of fact.

man, i hope it's true.

i know i've made a few factual errors, but i'm pretty sure my interpretation's right.

that's because—obviously biased tho i be—i try to stay as objective as i can.

Friday, November 25, 2005

new ball game

and what balls! and then some! and more!

rotting surplus

in mid-september i urged the world food program to rethink their plan to cut aid to niger after the harvest.

if only they'd heeded this blog they would've saved thousands of young children from lethal starvation.

it's not wholly their fault: their resources are limited—thanks to rich nations with miserly hearts.

earth's 400 billionaires own assets equal to the national incomes of countries with 45% of world population, but 1.7 billion live on less than $1 a day can buy in the US.

half of g w bush's tax cut goes to folk with annual incomes over $1M, and more than half of humans are undernourished or starving.

the planet grows enough to feed all, yet profit-motivated gringos would rather undersell local farmers in mexican markets than ship food to hungry africans.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

missing link found

ok, it's not news, but it's news to me, because i just found out.

also, it's not a fossil. it's in dna.

but let me give you the background first:

apes have 24 pairs of dna chromosomes in their cells. humans have 23 pairs.

somebody realized that if we descended from apes, we must have a chromosome that is two ape chromosomes fused.

well, the human genome project found it. inside human chromosome #2 is a discontinuity formed of two fused telomeres, which are the nonfunctional structures on the ends of chromosomes.

so it's literally a link. amazing, eh?

happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ted rall cartoon link

junk chemistry

michael behe, lehigh u biochem prof, author of darwin's black box, and star witness in favor of "intelligent" design [ID] at the dover pa monkey trial, appeared on washington journal yesterday morning.

on the surface, his arguments sound sensible.

referring to the "enormous complexity in the cell" he said
we start with that and we say what's the best explanation for this elegant and sophisticated machinery that we find in life? and in our experience, whenever we see such sophistication and such functional integrity, we have always found it to be the result of purposeful design.
then he spoke about falsification, which is an essential element of a scientific theory:
intelligent design...can be falsified: ...if it could be shown that some sophisticated molecular machine such as we find in the cell could be produced by random mutation and natural selection, then that would show that intelligence was not necessary to produce it. so all one has to do is for a scientist to go into his lab and show that darwin's mechanism—random mutation and natural selection—can do what has been claimed for it. ...on the other hand...it's real difficult to falsify the darwin claim that random mutation and natural selection can account for the complexity that we've found in life....
let me take that last quote first because i can handle it so quickly. all i have to do is move the word "not": change "could be produced by random mutation and natural selection" to "could not be produced by..." and "intelligence was not necessary" to "intelligence was necessary."

in other words, he's saying "all one has to do" to falsify ID is prove evolution. if he can do that, so can i, the other way round.

as for the first argument, i say: bullshit! you've never, in your alleged "experience" seen "such sophistication and such functional integrity" except in living things. the most complex machine humans ever made comes nowhere near the complexity of dna. you say it must be designed? i say only billions of years of randomness can account for it.

and if you really think randomness can't produce complexity, how do you explain snowflakes? how do you explain fractals found in noise? haven't you ever played minesweeper?

[previous entertaining & enlightening posts on this topic: 7/29, 8/10, 8/30, 8/31, 9/1, 10/1, 11/10, 11/14]

btw, darwin's great-great-grandson, matthew chapman, came on the show after behe. one of the many interesting ideas he threw out was that most complex inventions are designed by teams, not by one person. monotheists who find ID comforting: take note!

the rummy you have

today i caught just a few snatches of a refutation of don rumsfeld's "you go to war with the army you have."

i don't know the speaker's name, but cnn identified him as a medal of honor winner.

i also don't have an exact quote, but i know you've waited a long time for it, so here's the gist:
no. when you're attacked you fight with the army you have. going into an elective war you take your time and assemble everything you need.

go odom

william odom, retired 3-star general and director of the national security agency for 3 years, was on mclaughlin group sunday. he countered what he considers the 9 main arguments for staying in iraq:

STAY
withdrawal=civil war
world against withdrawal
withdrawal emboldens insurgency
withdrawal creates terror haven
withdrawal invites iran's influence
withdrawal spreads unrest
withdrawal=more sunni/shiite clashes
iraq's police & military unprepared
withdrawal dishonors troops

LEAVE
civil war here
withdrawal gains world support
occupation emboldens insurgency
iraq now terror training ground
occupation invites iran's influence
occupation spreads unrest
occupation=more sunni/shiite clashes
unpreparedness not problem; disloyalty is problem
withdrawal honors troops

gourmand dick

sith lord cheney, in one of his lighter moods, says our pulling out of iraq won't "satisfy the appetite of the terrorists."

i don't know why he wants to satisfy their appetite. but it's not the real issue anyway. what we should ask is, hasn't he had enough bad apple pie to satisfy his appetite yet?

my guess is it's too jaded.

Monday, November 21, 2005

con phobe tomes

Peter Schweizer, Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy

Richard Miniter, Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror

one of the great advantages of c-span2's book tv is that listening to writers talk about their latest work—mostly at promotional events—gives you not only good information but also a chance to sift chaff out of wheat so you don't have to waste much time or any money to learn a book isn't what its title says it is.

sometimes the main title misleads, like richard miniter's disinformation, sometimes it's the subtitle, as in peter schweizer's use of the phrase "liberal hypocrisy."

schweizer takes on a bunch of lefties he considers liberal, including noam chomsky, ted kennedy, michael moore, ralph nader, george soros, and barbra streisand, at least some of whom are actually too far left to call merely "liberal." much of their "hypocrisy" consists of investing their wealth and protecting it with trusts—just like cons—rather than paying higher taxes. schweizer apparently thinks that contradicts their belief that the rich should be more heavily taxed and corporations should be more stringently regulated.

schweizer obviously thinks taking advantage of existing tax breaks conflicts with advocating a law change to take away loopholes, but not even libs are expected to pay more than the law requires. being liberal doesn't mean you have to accept voluntary poverty, but there's no reason to believe rich libs wouldn't pay higher taxes if they had to. the difference between libs and cons is cons don't want the law to make the rich pay more taxes.

i'd assumed miniter's book was on the topic of disinformation, but it's not. the title seems to be nothing more than a catchy attention-getter. the real title is the subtitle, because the book exposes what miniter believes to be "media myths that undermine the war on terror" such as the comparison of iraq to vietnam and the idea that bin laden is on dialysis.

the latter may or may not be disinformation. i know nothing of the terror leader's medical condition nor of the source of the story.

the source is what causes a lie to be disinformation. if al qaeda spread it to make bin laden harder to catch, then it's disinformation. if the US spread it to encourage hunters, it's still disinformation. but if it's just gossip that originated without strategic intent, it's only a rumor.

i think miniter just disagrees with the iraq/vietnam example. he objects by citing a list of differences between the two countries and between the two wars. he wouldn't like the iraq war called "bush's vietnam."

of course, iraq is quite different from vietnam, and the wars are very different, and most analogies are false, but there are significant similarities, and the phrase "bush's vietnam" conveys a truth prosaic literalists might never grasp.

thank you, ted kennedy.

gm lays off

general motors will "downsize" thousands of workers onto the unemployment rolls. the company blames loss of market share, primarily to japanese imports.

it was a long time in the making. as i said october 2:
years ago, detroit bigwigs convinced auto workers they'd lose jobs if the US stopped making gas guzzlers. now the roads are full of imports, gm and ford are struggling, and chrysler is german.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

powell prevaricates

colin powell, on charlie rose the other night, still says all our intel agencies agreed iraq had wmd.

come on, man! your own asst sec for intel and research (INR) told you those aluminum tubes had no nuke value, yet you used them as "evidence" in your UN speech because you couldn't prove a threat without them.

then, when it became obvious dick and don dominated georgie boy and their strategy sucked, you stayed on long enough to get him another 4 years.

your credibility is shot, buddy, so quit making excuses.

cnn: "disturbing" images from n korea?

i don't know what's going on with cnn.

on i think 3 consecutive days they've run a short video clip of what's said to be a public execution of 3 men in north korea.

before it starts we get warned it might be "disturbing."

after it starts a voiceover says the men's crime was "making contact with the outside world."

(that sounded strange, because not too long ago i saw a tv report about south koreans visiting relatives in the north for the first time.)

then words appeared onscreen saying the men had trafficked women across the border into china.

that's "making contact with the outside world"?

if there was an execution, you couldn't prove it by me. i saw some tiny images so far from the camera that i had no idea what was happening, let alone what was so "disturbing."

flop caption

this morning on c-span2 a member of a book tv discussion panel used the phrase "follow-up question."

the closed caption said "flop question."

Friday, November 18, 2005

wmd fallout

one of the worst effects about the world finding out we went to war on a lie is that we won't get believed on other vital matters.

welcome aboard, edwards!

even as the gop attack against rep jack murtha (d-pa) shifts into high gear, ex-sen (d-nc) and vp candidate john edwards has come out against the war and said he was wrong to vote to allow it.

that's for the best, but i still want to stress that the dems will make a serious error if their next presidential nominee supported the force authorization resolution in 2002.

anybody who swallowed the bush wmd scare tactic didn't think it thru fully when it mattered most. if they had, they would've realized the real value of wmd is as a deterrent against invasion, so it's highly unlikely saddam would've kept it secret if he had them.

the bushers now claim wmd wasn't the only justification for war, but it obviously was their main argument, both to congress and to the UN: until shortly before the invasion they kept saying they just wanted to disarm iraq, not change its regime.

of course, if that were true, why didn't they let the UN inspectors finish their work?

you have to be pretty naïve to believe they didn't seek regime change all along, but why do they have to be so manipulative about it? couldn't they just openly brand saddam a criminal and say they wanted him to step down and stand trial for his crimes?

that should've been US policy from 1991 on, and it should've been the stated goal of international sanctions and augmented by diplomatic and legal efforts.

but i guess politicians have trouble being straightforward about anything.

guard deaths

cnn reports analysis of the first 2000 US deaths in iraq shows national guard account for 17% in the first 12 months, about 22% from march 2004 to march '05, and approximately 40% after that—overall, about 25%.

a third of all deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices—IEDs.

the 1000th day of the war is in about a month, so the overall average death rate has risen above 2 per day.

hugo v us

hugo chavez called g w bush an assassin and mass murderer.

the state department responded that chavez is undermining democracy by trying to amass power to himself.

question: are we simply offering constructive criticism?

bush admin attempts to bring down chavez appear to belie that possibility.

more and more, not just in venezuela but thruout latin america, chavez is seen as a hero taking on goliath but continuing to show enmity only toward our government, not the american people, as venezuela is still a major supplier of oil to the US.

why do the bushers choose to play the villain? even if we win, we lose, because success in destroying chavez makes us look even more monstrous.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

$100 laptop!

over 60% of americans use the internet, and 33% of europeans, but only 3% of africans.

that's about to change.

a laptop costing $100 will soon be sold in poor countries. it looks like a cheap plastic toy but reportedly can do almost everything expensive computers do.

so when can i buy one?

ak terror, pt 2

i never imagined i'd defend sen ted stevens (r-ak) on anything, but, when he introduced oil company CEOs to his committee without swearing them in, he reminded them that lying to congress carries the same penalty whether they take an oath or not.

so, dems, get over it. don't get bogged down over a meaningless ritual. i mean, what does "so help you god" mean, anyway? if you've got proof those guys lied about meeting with cheney, indict them.

good night, ted; hello, comedy

ted koppel's timing is still impeccable. he couldn't've picked a better time to retire.

it was a great run while it lasted, but it really is the end of an era and time to move on, especially with steve colbert in the same time slot.

green but not tea

do you know if there's such a thing as yellow-green color blindness? and can you have it in just one eye?

my father has what i always thought was red-green blindness, but he can't tell if bananas are ripe. i thought i'd escaped inheriting it, but just this morning i noticed when i close my right eye the yellows on my computer screen turn chartreuse.

unable to believe i'd been unaware of such a thing all my life, i looked one-eyed at some other yellow objects. they still looked yellow.

what's going on here?

joker in the deck

think of politics as a card game.

you already know about the race card. well, any issue can be meta4morphed into a card: gender, guns, environment, you name it.

no single issue ever wins an election by itself. it mostly comes down to playing more cards than the opponent, but skill can be decisive.

in 2000 bush played the god card by turning christ into a "political thinker or philosopher," and media types—stunned by his brazen declaration of faith—never even questioned whether either of those descriptions fit.

colin powell personified the race card, and his misguided sense of loyalty kept him in hand just long enough to score points with a few extra voters in one or two key states in 2004 before el busho abruptly discarded him.

condi rice is a wild card, pairing just enough race and gender to guilt-trip any white libs whose bleeding hearts lack hard-nose balance, fool any blacks who vote color before character, and trip up any feminists with similar indiscrimination.

dubya even played the enviro card in 2000 by calling for reduced carbon emissions. the day after he got sworn in he replayed that joker by canceling or rolling back 400 regulations and programs.

4 years later vp and mrs vader masterfully melded the gay and family cards to win a trick and the game with the most effective fake issue since the missile gap.

voters still haven't learned to spot knaves.

welcome aboard, murtha! (link)

l stan hubbard

last night south park revealed what scientologists actually believe.

o, i am sooo glad i never gave those weirdos any money.

btw, if you watch the episode, don't miss the final credits.

tch tch tch

woodward blows it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

creeping privatization

seniors: first, don't panic!

you don't need to rush your decision to sign on to the medicare prescription drug plan.

the government is trying to hurry you by making it more expensive if you don't sign up by 15 may 2006, but you still have 6 months to decide if it's cost-effective. use the time wisely.

there are unknowns: if your covered meds cost less than the program fees and deductible ($63.50 per month average, but plans vary), you'll spend more if you join, but that can change with time. it's certainly possible your medication requirements will grow. it's impossible to know for sure if in the long term you'll save or lose money by enrolling.

in addition, not all plans cover the same meds, so you need to research that, probably by checking with your pharmacist, since there are so many competing plans. the medicare website is getting slowed by high traffic for now, so if you've found another website that helps compare them, please post its url in "comments" below this post. (i accept anonymous comments. you don't need a blogger account.)

you need to maximize your chance of coming out ahead by making a realistic assessment of your health status, taking into account your medical history, the trend in your condition up to the present, plus diet and exercise.

if you're overweight, you probably need to cut down your sugar and fat intake, drink more water instead of most other drinks, and get more exercise.

if you don't exercise, you should. why not study yoga or taiji (t'ai chi)? both are low-impact and improve health and fitness, and you can do them at home, but they won't come to you: you have to make the effort to find a teacher (perhaps in classes at a local high school or senior center) and practice what you learn till you know it well enough to do it on your own.

take the time. it could be worth it. all you need is patience and effort.

wrong mind

i really don't understand why any administration in its right mind would fight so hard to stop congress from making torture totally illegal.

not only is it a treaty violation—and i don't mean the geneva conventions but a separate torture treaty that has nothing to do with whether victims are prisoners of war—but it damages our prestige among nations, gives our enemies a credible pretext for retaliatory violence, brutalizes not only the victim but the torturer, and is just plain wrong.

add the fact that information obtained by torture is unreliable—because the innocent know nothing and the guilty will almost always be prepared to lie—while legal interrogation methods more often get useful results, and it becomes incomprehensible that any competent official would defend it.

maybe the answer's in the question: they're not in their right minds.

bush's fall from grace has generated a hunker-in-the-bunker mentality so all-consuming that his loyalists have lost perspective and try to defend every bit of besieged turf, including the alleged power of the president to do anything he wants in wartime, even declare torture ok when "necessary."

the israelis tried something like that for a while. their courts ruled torture permissible in extreme situations to stop terrorism. after several years they revisited the issue and found suspects getting tortured almost as a rule rather than an exception, so they banned it completely.

they learned from their mistake. anybody can learn from their own mistakes, but you save time and trouble if you learn from somebody else's errors.

unfortunately, the bush folk seem to prefer to be guided by a very few exceptional examples when torture got useful results. not only don't they learn from other countries' mistakes, available evidence indicates they're unable to admit their own blunders.

as things keep going wrong and their world view unravels around them, it looks more and more as if their group head is having a group panic attack.

panic produces both flight and fight, so, as they self-destruct, get ready to duck.

Monday, November 14, 2005

come a long way, baby

just heard dems called the "party of fiscal responsibility."

next somebody's gonna notice the gop long ago broke their 1994 "contract with america" that got them control of congress in the first place.

then maybe folk will start to catch on that the dems' domestic policy makes more sense, and—given the chance—their memory of vietnam would've led them to find a way to remove saddam without boots on the ground.

duhtelligence

duhtelligence

i'm getting tired of all the rationalizations used to excuse the bushers for going to war.

downing st proves they planned to "fix" intel as far back as july 2002.

and nobody points out the central question: since a secret deterrent is no deterrent, why would a leader threatened with invasion keep wmd secret if he actually has them?

you really believe not one neocon genius ever bothered to ask that?

no. they asked. and they knew. they knew damn well saddam had nothing. because if they really thought he had wmd, they wouldn't risk tens of thousands of american deaths by invading.

divine design

so, the new pope has come out for "intelligent" design—or whatever word he used instead of "design."

i suppose there's no point in repeating arguments.

if a scandal-weakened church really wants to start a crusade against modern science, how can i dissuade it?

i have only one word of caution for papa benedict: galileo.

there he goes again

There ought to be limits to freedom!—g w bush, 1999

i feel a little strange citing the same quote i used yesterday, but da prez is once again calling for a constitutional ban on flag "desecration."

his motive is clear: nearly all opponents of the amendment are dems, and bush's tanking popularity is sure to hurt his party, so he hopes to stir up enough imitation patriotism to keep the gop majority in congress after next year's election.

sounds like it calls for a samuel johnson quote, doesn't it? i don't think i'll give the usual one, tho. here are a few from the patriot:

• "...a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight."

• "A man sometimes starts up a patriot, only by disseminating discontent, and propagating reports of secret influence, of dangerous counsels, of violated rights, and encroaching usurpation. This practice is no certain note of patriotism. To instigate the populace with rage beyond the provocation, is to suspend publick happiness, if not to destroy it. He is no lover of his country, that unnecessarily disturbs its peace. Few errours and few faults of government, can justify an appeal to the rabble; who ought not to judge of what they cannot understand, and whose opinions are not propagated by reason, but caught by contagion."

• "The true lover of his country is ready to communicate his fears, and to sound the alarm, whenever he perceives the approach of mischief. But he sounds no alarm, when there is no enemy; he never terrifies his countrymen till he is terrified himself. The patriotism, therefore, may be justly doubted of him, who professes to be disturbed by incredibilities...."

• "A patriot is necessarily and invariably a lover of the people. But even this mark may sometimes deceive us.

"The people is a very heterogeneous and confused mass of the wealthy and the poor, the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad. Before we confer on a man, who caresses the people, the title of patriot, we must examine to what part of the people he directs his notice. It is proverbially said, that he who dissembles his own character, may be known by that of his companions. If the candidate of patriotism endeavours to infuse right opinions into the higher ranks, and, by their influence, to regulate the lower; if he consorts chiefly with the wise, the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous, his love of the people may be rational and honest. But if his first or principal application be to the indigent, who are always inflammable; to the weak, who are naturally suspicious; to the ignorant, who are easily misled; and to the profligate, who have no hope but from mischief and confusion; let his love of the people be no longer boasted. No man can reasonably be thought a lover of his country, for roasting an ox, or burning a boot, or attending the meeting at Mile-end, or registering his name in the lumber troop. He may, among the drunkards, be a hearty fellow, and, among sober handicraftmen, a free-spoken gentleman; but he must have some better distinction, before he is a patriot."


ok. it could use some cutting and rewriting and updating, but much of it fits dc to a t.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

bomb caption

wolf blitzer interviewed the jordanian ambassador, who said the captured suicide bomber whose vest failed to detonate will be tried in a jordanian court.

in the closed caption, the word "jordanian" became "jury danian."

con intel

whoever thinks we didn't get misled on iraq must've just awoken from a coma, and i can see why many dems say bush manipulated intelligence, but i doubt he did.

more likely he just ignored what didn't back his preconceptions, like these excerpts from an october 2002 national intelligence estimate not declassified and released to the public till 4 months after the march 2003 invasion:

State/INR Alternative View of Iraq's Nuclear Program

The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapons-related capabilities. The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result, INR is unable to predict when Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.

In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.

and

Annex A

INR's Alternative View: Iraq's Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes

Some of the specialized but dual-use items being sought are, by all indications, bound for Iraq's missile program. Other cases are ambiguous, such as that of a planned magnet-production line whose suitability for centrifuge operations remains unknown. Some efforts involve non-controlled industrial material and equipment—including a variety of machine tools—and are troubling because they would help establish the infrastructure for a renewed nuclear program. But such efforts (which began well before the inspectors departed) are not clearly linked to a nuclear end-use. Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.
(note that the 1998 departure of UN inspectors is the one mentioned, not that of 2003, which hadn't yet taken place.)

"intelligence" is an odd word. its latin root is a verb that means "perceive" or "understand," yet it is commonly used to mean "espionage" or "information collected via espionage."

policy makers rarely see "raw" intelligence. they receive the products of analysis.

when analysts disagree, policy makers need to weigh their arguments, not merely count the number of concurring and dissenting opinions and pronounce the majority to be a "consensus" while ignoring the dissent, as was done by the bush administration.

their oft-repeated defense has been that the intel was flawed, but the excerpts cited above clearly show good analysis existed yet was essentially dismissed by the white house.

if the resulting policy came from intelligence, it came without understanding.

junk religion

in case you swallow the con claim that "intelligent" design doesn't come from religion, note that pat robertson has warned the voters of dover pa that god might punish them for throwing out the school board members who support teaching the bogus "theory" in biology classes.

bush accuses

yes, on vets' day da prez accused us—his critics—of rewriting history.

it's not a new theme with him. recall when "revisionism" became his favorite word for a few days a while back?

well, guess what: i plead GUILTY!

writing IS rewriting.

and the reason you rewrite is to GET IT RIGHT!

...something bush wouldn't know about.

bush confuses

There ought to be limits to freedom!—g w bush, 1999

the theme of the speech supposedly was "a strategy for victory."

i'm tempted to say "it's about time!"

but it's long past time.

the misleader who still hasn't admitted his strategy failure and blamed—but never took responsibility for—first a "failure of diplomacy," as if diplomacy itself had somehow caused failure, then a "failure of intelligence," when it wasn't intelligence at all but dumbass distorted analysis, NOW says if we criticize the reason he went to war we give aid and comfort to the enemy.

that comes awfully close to the constitution's definition of treason.

in other words, this president, who has caused unnecessary suffering and death of untold thousands and thereby handed bin laden and zarqawi a deckful of poster children to recruit new terrorists, now implies that we who try to bring out the truth are pretty much the same as traitors to our country.

george bush has morphed into ann coulter.

but if he thinks we'll take it lying down, he's looking in the wrong rearview mirror.

report our goops

the slogan "support our troops" was used as a bludgeon to intimidate congress to pay for the war.

if gops really wanted to support troops, they wouldn't send them to kill and die in a fraudulent and illegal cause.

it was never support for troops. it was support for war.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

anwr lives to fight another day (link)

proof bush lies

in case you've never seen it before, this is from 14 july 2003:

The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful.

as you can see in the white house transcript, as soon as he uttered that bald-faced lie, pinoke broke up the news briefing before kofi annan—who stood at his side—had any chance to contradict him.

tearjerker

in the name of deficit reduction:

• medicaid cuts, for seniors' home care and for children—forcing states to cut aid or take a loss

• food stamp cuts—which affect not just the poor but military families, whose medical care already got cut guess when: march 2003, the same month we went to war

• school lunch cuts

• student loan cuts

• foster care cuts

• ....

oh, btw, folk with incomes over $200k get $70B in tax cuts, supposedly to stimulate the economy—as in "a rising tide lifts all boats."

all this "compassion" from cons gets ya all choked up, don't it? maybe what raises the tide is tears.

one o' these days, gotta get me a boat....

amman bombs

3 american chain hotels, multiple synchronized explosions—no need to tell you what that means.

iraq used to be a little bigger than california, but it's expanding. before long it could engulf the world.

natural election

8 incumbent supporters of "intelligent" design got voted off the dover pa school board tuesday.

no word yet on what happens to the lawsuit.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

cold peace

16 years after the cold war supposedly ended, the world still has 27k nukes, and the atomic scientists' doomsday clock once again stands at 7 minutes to midnight.

dicks head

don't know why no apostrophe. guess i got a funny map.

lies on indian ocean in somalia near kenya line, about 100 mi S of equator.

local name ras chiamboni.

what say, after conviction we send him there?

got pirates off coast.

oughta feel right at home.

prewar poem: bs/bm

BIG STICK
BIG MOUTH

u publicly display religion
but shun path o righteousness

u claim traditional values
yet bend truth n bind justice

u use calm reason
2 justify mayhem

u call urself compassionate
n prepare 2 slaughter children

th@ what ur favorite
philosopher wd do?

congress gave u discretion 4 war
but u speak n act w/o discretion

tell me who's accountable
if 1000s die
but u still find no proof?
or ur crusade
leads 2 armageddon?

ur apologists say
protest foe's atrocities
not ur war

but foe don't lead us
nor claim 2 represent us
nor act in our name

u do


23 feb 2003

Monday, November 07, 2005

look what's been on the web 3 years already...

...and i just found it!

french fruits

high unemployment + police brutality = 9 nights of paris riots + a handful more cities the 10th night + 300 cities the 11th night + ?

fujimori busted! (link)

need to know update

just a bit more legal info for your cheney impeachment evidence file:

CLASSIFIED NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION

PART 4 SAFEGUARDING

Sec. 4.1. Definitions. For purposes of this order: (a) "Safeguarding" means measures and controls that are prescribed to protect classified information.

(b) "Access" means the ability or opportunity to gain knowledge of classified information.

(c) "Need-to-know" means a determination made by an authorized holder of classified information that a prospective recipient requires access to specific classified information in order to perform or assist in a lawful and authorized governmental function.

depolarization

a few years ago i stumbled on a chat site that i long since lost track of and don't recall its name. the profile section asked how members stood on a long list of issues. two possible answers were pro-life and pro-choice. out of curiosity i took a look at a bunch of profiles to see how those two compared. surprisingly many—perhaps a majority—had checked both.

strictly speaking that's impossible. one position is that abortion should be illegal, the other that it shouldn't.

apparently a lot of users either didn't know those definitions or didn't accept them.

i can see that. in general, i don't think abortion's a good thing, because all life is precious, but i don't want the law to take away women's liberty. if a woman decides she doesn't want to carry her pregnancy to term, it's her body, so why does government have any legitimate power to force her to deliver?

many pro-lifers cloud the issue with emotion-charged abstractions. they always call a pregnant woman a mother. an embryo or fetus is always a baby or child, sometimes but not always preceded by "unborn." they insist the unborn have the same right to life as the born, maybe even a greater right, because they're defenseless, so abortion is murder.

i don't want to rush thru this analysis or oversimplify it. the controversy clearly is one of the greatest in american history. i'll take it a little at a time.

feel free to comment.

1 bird, 2 stones

i notice bush is pursuing a separate trade agreement with panama.

i guess he doesn't want to waste the trip.

flood captions

so i'm watching book tv yesterday morning on c-span2, right? and robert kaplan is talking about his book imperial grunts: the american military on the ground, and i've got the closed captions on like i usually do, you know?

and he talks a little about environment and says "two-thirds of china lives on flood plains," right?

and the closed caption says "two-thirds of china lives below sea level."

huh?

i might've never noticed it, but i've known for a long time that some of the worst disasters in history have been floods in china. in 1642 one caused 300k deaths; 1887: 900k; 1911: 100k; 1931: 3.7M; 1939: 200k; and a bunch more with deaths in the thousands or hundreds. some may have been in areas below sea level, like when rebels broke a seawall in 1642, but the two with the highest death tolls were river floods. maybe that's why it got my attention.

building on flood plains is a serious problem in this country too. the frequent floods of the passaic river in north jersey wouldn't do much harm at all if municipalities didn't permit so much flood plain development.

i keep the closed captions on in case i mishear something. trouble is i often notice the typists don't hear much better than i do. folk don't always speak clearly enough, i guess.

but this time the typist typed something that wasn't said, and i did hear it.

it's not a one-time thing. most of the time i forget about it before i sit down to write. it just stuck in my memory this time.

what did the president know and when did he know it? dept.

bush says "we do not torture."

heard it with my own ears.

he really doesn't read, does he?

below the belt

gop nj gubernatorial candidate doug forrester ran an attack ad that quoted dem opponent jon corzine's ex-wife.

when it comes to character, there's no juicy tidbit more telling than the fact that forrester hired the outfit that put together the swiftvets' smarmy smear of john kerry.

when it comes to getting votes, nobody will stoop as low as a gop.

Friday, November 04, 2005

buy parties & chip

it is truly awe-inspiring to listen on c-span to the senate indian affairs committee as it meticulously details the byzantine money trails to, from, and around jack abramoff and michael scanlon, who funneled indian tribe payments thru a variety of companies and associations to support the bush agenda and ralph reed's christian coalition while enriching themselves and concealing the politically explosive fact that the ultimate source of the funds was casino revenues.

the elephant in the room so politely but pointedly ignored by john mccain (r-az), byron dorgan (d-nd), &c, is the connection of abramoff and scanlon to house hammer tom delay (r-tx), already under texas indictment on unrelated(?) charges of political money laundering and conspiracy.

(hint! hint!)


argentina would be a lovely place to stay if one decided not to come home, wouldn't it?

and one can play "gaucho" there. (it's like "cowboy" with a different hat.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

quake survivors urgently need warm tents before winter! (link)

time moths

alan greenspan says the economic effects of the 3 hurricanes will be "temporary."

500k+ newly-unemployed workers bow down and thank him for his sage cold comfort.

greenspan smiles wisely/kindly and goes back to checking his diamond-studded retirement portfolio, knowing everything else is "temporary."

we shoulda known somethin' was up when he said he didn't live in texas

we started hearing dick cheney called "most powerful vice president in history" round the same time laura bush started to get called "most beloved first lady ever." i think it was 20 jan 2001.

sure, we'd already heard about halliburton, but we had no idea...!

halliburton in iraq was yet to come.

halliburton post-katrina was yet to come.

"no doubt" about wmd was yet to come.

outing a cia agent to scooter libby was yet to come.

impeachment for conspiracy is still yet to come.

are we sure somebody didn't get "powerful" mixed up with "corrupt"?

HI YO STRANGELOVE

silver buckin smartbomb tween knees
white 10-gallon ranger beret in hand
crusader jackrabbit
masked multinational vigilante
secretary tonto at his side
brings apocalyptic vengeance
rides mother o battles valkyrie wind
into baghdarok harmegiddo sunset

chip off ol block: slim w pickins


19 feb 2003

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

hurry

da prez wants the senate to vote on the alito confirmation before the end of the year.

i wrote on something similar earlier. it's a sales technique called "putting hurry into it." it's usually done by offering a lower price if you buy now.

recall how the bush admin tried to pressure the iraqis to finish writing their constitution on schedule when they said they needed more time, or how the gops forced a congressional vote on the iraq war authorization before the 2002 election. a number of dems who were up for reelection undoubtedly feared to vote against the resolution. the iraqis wisely kept working past the deadline. (i can't say i agree with the result, but that's not the issue here.)

i always get suspicious when somebody tries to get me to make up my mind fast.

lock & laugh

bill frist (r-tn) was hilarious when he felt so offended that harry reid (d-nv) invoked rule 21 to force the senate into closed session.

frist said he should've been given the consideration of being informed ahead of time.

reid responded quite accurately that if he'd told frist, the gops would've blocked it.

frist is outraged by a procedural trick that ran its course in little more than 3 hours, but not by more than a year's failure of the intelligence committee to fulfil its commitment to finish investigating lies that got us into an illegal, immoral, unnecessary war that's cost over 2k american lives in less than 3 years so far—with no end in sight—and aids the terrorist cause, possibly for generations.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

shut out

this afternoon the dems forced the senate into closed session for 3+ hours to discuss why the intelligence committee, after more than a year, has not yet completed a promised 2nd part of its report on pre-war iraq intelligence.

the committee chair, pat roberts (r-ks), has said it was delayed by the 2004 election, which, somebody must have noticed, was exactly 52 weeks ago.

this is the same intelligence committee that issued a statement containing two still-repeated lies about former ambassador joe wilson: (1) that wilson claimed vp dick cheney sent him to niger, and (2) that wilson was actually sent by his wife, valerie.

backtrack

wow! for a guy who comes across in person as so thoughtful and reasonable, sam alito sure picked up a lot of baggage in 15 years on the bench.

his opposition to a "partial-birth" abortion ban actually makes him relatively moderate on abortion, in spite of voting the other way on spousal notification.

but he's also got a muddy record on civil rights, search & seizure, assault weapons, and a bunch of other stuff.

trick or treat?

remember bush's medicare prescription drug plan? the one the aarp went to bat for? the one congress stayed up all night extending the 15-minute vote so tom delay could twist arms till it passed? the one whose price tag mushroomed way beyond what congress got told and then expanded a second time to near $1 trillion?

yeah. that's the one.

the comptroller general says we can't afford it.

surprise!

the latest tax reform snow job

bush's tax panel submitted its recommendations today. the plan would cut form 1040 to less than half its present length, eliminate the alternative minimum tax, and limit home mortgage interest deductions to a little over $400k.

(if i understood what they were saying, it's also got some trickle-down bs: it would cut the top corporate rate to 30% and shift that part of the tax burden away from big business and onto individuals, which supply-siders think would stimulate investment and thus create jobs. what nonsense! businesses don't invest in capital assets because of tax cuts: they invest in response to demand!)

it's a reform, but it's not fundamental change, and certainly not the kind of change i'd like to see.

one of these days i hope i'll get around to posting my progressive flat tax plan, which would not only radically simplify taxes but exempt approximately 60% of income earners from federal income tax—the bottom 60%, of course!—and automatically balance the budget except if and when congress wanted to use deficit spending to boost the economy.

no cigar

well, i was right, but i was wrong.

da prez asked for $7B to prepare for a possible flu pandemic, but it won't be the diversion i thought it would be, because the alito nomination has filled that slot.

flu will have to settle for diverting us from "scalito."

english gardening

so prince charles talks to plants.

so what?! so do i!

i've heard it's good for plants if you talk to them.

and if it's not true, can it hurt?

need to know

pat fitzgerald must not know much about handling classified materials. i guess US attorneys don't have much use for national security documents.

if he'd ever been given security clearance—even at the lowest level—he would've read something that said he wasn't to read any classified info unless he had a need to know it, and if he had any classified info, he wasn't to disclose it to anybody—no matter how high that person's clearance—unless that person had a need to know.

you see where i'm going with this?

even the vice president of the united states could not learn joe wilson's wife worked for the cia without seeking and finding clearly labeled secret materials or being told by someone who had access to those materials. and unless the vice president of the united states had a need to know, he should not have read or been given those materials. and once he had such info, he shouldn't have repeated it to anyone who had no need to know—not even if it was the most trusted member of his staff.

without a need to know, reading or disclosing classified info is a federal felony, and everyone with clearance knows it.

you see what i'm saying?

open e-mail to: howard dean

why do you let wolf blitzer push you around, governor?

when he asserted there's nothing wrong with dick cheney telling scooter libby about valery wilson—"is there?"—why didn't you say "come on, wolf. you're not that naive, are you? the vice president of the united states disclosed classified information to his chief of staff. do you think he was just glad to see him?"

as the old saying doesn't go: if it waddles like a conspiracy and it quacks like a conspiracy, it ain't a hippopotamus.

open e-mail to: charles schumer

subj: phobic disorder

you went too far, senator. when you spoke of the genesis of conservative opposition to judicial activism, you gave up too much when you conceded liberal judges have "made law" from the bench.

just take a look at the decisions that started the con revolt against "activism." they're not about "making" law. they're about interpreting law.

they're about racial segregation, religious displays on public property, school prayer, and abortion.

laws or official acts were declared unconstitutional in those cases because they were unconstitutional.

the movement to stop such decisions comes from the anxiety they produce in folk who've been conditioned to associate them with something threatening.

that conditioning comes from a marketing campaign, senator, and it's about time we all recognized it.

ronald reagan was the most effective salesman in the "marketplace of ideas" in the last 50 years, and quite a few members of his party are pretty good at it too.