Friday, October 31, 2003

Auroral Displays While the Sun Plays

Unless you've been locked up somewhere you know that there have been several "sun storms," or Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) this week. With these kinds of events, there is always a worry that these high-speed clouds of charged particles can do real damage to spacecraft, satellites and power grids on earth. So far that hasn't happened to any degree great enough to warrant news coverage. But those aren't the only effects from CMEs.

Last night, with the weather here, near Rochester, NY absolutely clear and cool, I went outside to watch for the most visible effect of solar storms. The aurora (Borealis in my case, Australis if you're from south of the Equator). I've seen the aurora on occasion; in Maine, while flying in the California Desert, in Korea. But it was never like last night.

The show was short lived, peaking at around 7:45 EST, but spectacular. Along the northern horizon was a broad band of pale greenish-white light. Above that were several large areas glowing bright red. And, the most beautiful part of the show, there were streamers of pale, ghostly white that stretched from just above the horizon and met just south of the zenith. As far "south" as I live, there were even large glowing red areas in the sky to the south. It was a luminous - and numinous - spectacle.

It's rare for us to have such a clear and relatively warm night at this time of the year. That such a night occurred just in time to see such a fine display of physics and the beauty of nature was fortuitous, indeed.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Fill In the Everglades - Quick!

If there is one thing that conservatives continually surprise me on it's the environment. But this latest goes way beyond surprise... I'm not even sure I could classify this one...

Only in the conservative up-is-down Bizarro World would the following headline make sense: WETLANDS POLLUTE, SAYS STUDY OKAYED BY EPA.

I'm not kidding. The study was contracted by a group of south west Florida developers (surprised?) and basically says that developers can get "credit for improving water quality by replacing natural wetlands with golf courses and other developments."

aWol's EPA approved the study which is so flawed that "Bruce Boler, a former state water quality specialist, resigned after three years with EPA. In his resignation, Boler cited the stance taken by the EPA Regional Administrator Jimmie Palmer that “EPA would not oppose state positions, so if a state had no water quality problems with a project then neither would EPA.” The state of Florida has already signed off on the Harper Report."

Link via Altercation.

Truth Will Out

Via Hesiod:

Claim vs. Fact: Presidential Press Conference, 10/28/03

Here's a sample - it's a great read:


CLAIM: “Credibility comes when you say something is going to happen and then it does happen…You are not credible if you issue resolutions and then nothing happens.” [Source: President Bush, 10/28/03]

FACT: Bush said about his first tax cut that “Tax relief will create new jobs” and the economy proceeded to shed almost 3 million jobs. He said about his second tax cut that “tax relief means new jobs for Americans” and the economy continued to shed jobs. He said about the war in Iraq in May that “major combat operations have ended” and yet more troops have died since that statement than during the war. [Source: President Bush, 4/16/01, 9/5/03 and 5/1/03]

Study Confirms the Obvious

Well, this may be obvious to just about anyone who doesn't get their news from Faux News, it is, apparently big news in the rest of the SCLM. From MSNBC's web site:

The headline: Study: Bush backers land Iraq deals

The lead graf:
Companies awarded $8 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan have been major campaign donors to President Bush, and their executives have had important political and military connections, according to a study released Thursday.
The money graf (pun fully intended):
The Center’s analysis of contractor political donations showed:
* The top 10 contractors contributed $11 million to national political parties, candidates and political action committees since 1990.
* Fourteen of the companies won contracts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Those companies, combined, have given more than $23 million in political contributions since 1990.
* Most contractors, their political action committees and their employees have contributed just under $49 million to national political campaigns and parties since that year.
* In the same time period, contractor donations to Republican Party committees outpaced contributions to the Democrats, $12.7 million to $7.1 million.
I continue to be un-surprised at anything this administration does. Disgusted, yes. Surprised, no.

And just how is it that these SCJ (So-called Journalists) are just now getting around to this? Do your goddamn jobs!

I Am Atrios!

Seems Atrios, over at Eschaton is having a bit of legal problems over a very simple post about Donald Luskin (supposed Paul Krugman Stalker). He's gotten a letter from an attorney asking that teh post and all comments be removed and apparently Blogspot has or will be served a subpoena to reveal Atrios' true identity. I won't go into all the details, you can read them on Atrios' blog, but this is just harrassment, pure and simple.

Go read the post linked to above, as well as the comments. Then you'll see why you should put this up on your blog "I Am Atrios!"

Body Attachment

If ever there were a single subject that highlights the need for some form of universal health care, it is the practice of "body attachment." It goes by different names in different states and areas, but basically it is the procedure whereby hospitals request the arrest of people who have missed one or more court hearings on the payment of past due medical debts.

The practice is considered so awful that none of the largest credit providers will use it: Sears & Roebuck, Ford Motor Credit Co., etc. I would have less sympathy for someone arrested for skipping out on payment for a lawn mower or a new car. But there is a fundamental difference between consumer debt and medical debt. As one patient advocate puts it: "If it is a car or a vacuum cleaner, they will simply repossess it. What do you want them to do? Give the heart valve back?"

I discovered this issue in a rather sympathetic piece in - of all places - The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Again, while this practice by hospitals is worrying - especially when practiced, apparently, by many non-profit hospitals - it is only a symptom of a wider, more insidious problem: the growing ranks of those without health insurance. And because large health organizations can negotiate lower service fees for their members, the 43 million people without insurance are charged much higher prices for services, exacerbating an already horrible situation.

There are lots of places to read about the benefits of a single payer health system. Google the term. You'll also find lots of arguments against. The arguments against often have to do with the cost - which I believe will be manageable. There are studies showing that reduced duplication of just administrative costs could actually save the overall American health care system billions of dollars per year.

Where I believe arguments against universal/single payer health systems fail is on moral grounds. Our country is the richest, most powerful state to ever have existed. We are rich - in every sense you can use that word - beyond compare. And we refuse - it's not that we are unable - we refuse to care for those who have less than we do.


Two words have been used to scare people away from universal health care. The first word of this duo is an old boogey-man of a word; fear of which was fueled by what was once the Soviet Union. The second word is just along for the ride - but when used together with the first is made to seem somehow evil. Many conservatives cannot even see these two words together without crying out in disgust and horror. What are those words? Socialized Medicine.

You can argue semantics forever without getting to the bottom of why those words are so freighted with bad meaning. I would say that there is a difference between a single payer system in a democracy and "dictionary" socialized medicine. Others would say they are the same. However you argue the meaning of a couple of words, in the end it comes down to an argument about the value of healthy citizens. People who don't have to worry that a trip to the hospital will cause them to lose everything they have are more productive, less likely to have other health problems.

But I'm getting away from the primary argument in favor of providing universal health care to all citizens. Because it is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Really? Iraq Threat Overstated?

I'm just flabbergasted.

Headlines catch up with reality. Finally.

While the Senate report will lay the majority of the blame at the feet of the CIA, at least they are getting closer to reality. I wonder what it would take to get a committee to consider looking into the Whitehouse's role in this? An act of Congress? No... never mind.

Things are Going Just Great!!

No really!

233 Attacks on US soldiers in just the last week!

They must really be getting desperate!

Lott - Lose Cannon

Trent Lott has finally advocated a course of action for Iraq that I'm sure all well heeled Rethugs can get behind. It's something I'm sure they've all been thinking anyway, and who better than the biggest ass in the party to "out" the real BushCo. strategy in Iraq?

From Atrios:

"Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."
That's right, that's no typo. "Mow the whole place down." Read the whole article here.

The rankingest (rankest?) Republican in the Senate basically said we may have to violate every tenet of civilized behavior if things don't start going better on the morning news. I thought Texan Rethugs were bad...

My Dog is Bigger Than Your Dog

General "Jerry" (Onward Christian Soldier) Boykin, took his worst tongue lashing from the administration yesterday. If you really take the harshest view of aWol's comments.

From the LA Times:

President Bush said Tuesday that controversial remarks by Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin about Muslims and Islam do not "reflect my point of view, or the view of this administration" — sharp language from an administration that tends to circle the wagons when a member is under attack.
"Sharp language", eh?

Boykin made many of his remarks before religious groups in uniform, a potential breach of The Uniform Code of Military Justice. But don't look for him to be seriously reprimanded; at worst he'll be found another high-level, but strictly military job to do. Most likely he'll stay right where he is. Continuing to spout his moronic, religious proclamations. Making the Middle East a safer place for our soldiers.

Corporate Excess?

Dennis Kozlowski, former Tycho executive now courtroom resident - and hopefully future jailhouse resident - has an image problem. Not that his looting of about $600 million from his former employer wasn't enough.

Videos released from his trial yesterday have made their way around the world via the internet; and you really should go find a copy and watch it. These are videos from a birthday party Mr. Kozlowski threw for his wife on the island of Sardinia. Now, I can understand having the cash to throw a nice party for your wife or significant other in a nice location. Really, I can. I'd love to be able to take my wife to Fiji for a birthday or anniversary.

Bit, if you've wondered what it is that differentiates the high and mighty of corporate fiefdoms from you and I, this video should clear things up. Oh, the cost of this little week-long soiree, attended by about 200 of the Kozlowski's closest friends and co-workers? $2 million.

From the Wall Street Journal(subscription required):

In a club in Sardinia lushly decorated in an ancient Roman theme, flaming urns erupted against the backdrop of a stage built in the shape of a temple. Women in scanty garb threw flower petals into a pool. A well-oiled, half-naked male model gyrated on a pedestal. Mr. Kozlowski was shown at the entrance hugging two young women dressed in Roman costumes, flanked by helmeted centurions in battle garb.
The first word that comes to mind for me is "shameless." But that doesn't seem to convey the indignation and revulsion I really feel.

The looting of Tycho resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs. Those who lost their jobs probably can't even afford to throw their kids a small birthday party in the back yard.

Of course the Wall Street Journal was appropriately solemn about this show of excess; they interviewed high-flying party planners who hoped the release of this video would be good for their business.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Why I'm Here - Another Entry...

I'm sort of new to the politically-minded world. In four years at the Military Academy and then ten years actually serving in the Army I remained aloof from politics. Because of the constitutionally mandated military subservience to civilian authority, many in the military were of the opinion that either it didn't matter who we voted for or that there was something vaguely unseemly about voting as a military member. I'm not saying that those feelings were more widespread than the group of officers and soldiers I knew, just that they did exist.

I started to become more interested in politics sometime during Clinton's second term. The attacks on Clinton as a person and as a president seemed starkly unfair and increasingly shrill. And the same people who made those attacks seemed intent on tarring whole segments of society with the same brush. At first it only disturbed me, but as the attacks increased, as they became more shrill, they made me angry. The 2000 election was the final straw in my political awakening. Bush's presidency has further driven my interest in getting involved. So far, this blog is my way of dealing with all of this. It lets me vent. It lets me find others who feel like I do - not just the (so far few) visitors, but because I visit other blogs and other sites to get ideas, to find other minds with similar thoughts.

Any way, this is just another entry explaining why I'm here, why I take the time to do this.

Monday, October 27, 2003

The Bush Recovery

Bob Herbert at the NYT lays out the dirty (not-so)secret behind the BushCo.'s economic turn around: It's great if you're already rich, not so otherwise.

A couple of key grafs towards the end:

"The Bush administration has made absolutely no secret of the fact that it is committed to the interests of the very wealthy. Leona Helmsley is supposed to have said that "only the little people pay taxes." The Bush crowd has turned that into a national fiat.

A cornerstone of post-Depression policy in this country has been a commitment to policies aimed at raising the standard of living of the poor and the middle class. That's over.

When it comes to jobs, taxes, education and middle-class entitlement programs like Social Security, the message from the Bush administration couldn't be clearer: You're on your own.
Herbert's been right on top of his form lately. Go read the entire piece.

A Weekend of Carnage

10 killed and at least 10 wounded by a car bomber at the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad.

1 U.S. Colonel killed, 15 wounded in a rocket barrage at the al Rashid Hotel.

27 killed at three separate car bombings at Iraqi police buildings.

3 U.S. Soldiers killed last night.

The "official" reaction?

"U.S. Gen. Hertling said Monday was "a great day for the Iraqi police" because security controls prevented the bombers from reaching their targets."
The departure of the situation from whatever plan BushCo. had in place before the war has grown to obscene porportions. The departure of the rhetoric coming from BushCo. from the truth is... well... what's more obscene than obscene?


From the NYT at 11:07 am EST:

"Iraq's police chief and deputy interior minister, Ahmad Ibrahim, said at a news conference that 34 people had been killed and 224 had been wounded in the attacks. He said 26 of the dead were civilians and 8 were police officers; 65 police officers and 159 civilians were wounded."

Post invasion planning? Forget about it. There was none.

Friday, October 24, 2003

al Qaeda - Saudis - Grover Norquist - Karl Rove - Bush

I'm in shock over this one... If this is true, Karl boy just may be on the outs. That is if your friendly neighborhood SCLM picks this up.

Go read the whole thing, but look at these paragraphs:

"But, who was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lobbyist. Newt Gingrich’s guy, the one the NRA calls on, head of American taxpayers. He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he’s the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute.

Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things. He got extreme right wing Muslim people to be the gatekeepers in the White House. That’s why moderate Americans couldn’t speak out after 9/11. Moderate Muslims couldn’t get into the White House because Norquist’s friends were blocking their access." Emphasis mine. - Ed.
I can barely write, I'm so appalled... I'm past surprised anymore.

Okay, I confess, I wouldn't be surprised if this were true. It just so fits in with everything else aWol and his boys have done. I'm still appalled.

Props to Atrios for this.

Wal*Mart - Again!

I've written a couple of time about Wal*Mart for assorted reasons, see here and here.

By now everyone's read about the raids on Wal*Mart stores last night and the subsequent arrest of over 300 undocumented workers employed by cleaning contractors. See a good, outsider article in today's Globe and Mail (Canada).

What the fallout from this will be is hard to say. If they have proof that management knew about the practice - and there is word that investigators have tapes of phone conversations that prove just that - then there is the potential for this to be a very big deal. One of Wal*Mart's points that they always try to get across is that they are an "all American" company providing low prices on items that low wage workers could not otherwise afford. However, it is well known that Wal*Mart, through large purchases from overseas - especially China - and volume purchases and lots of pressure on domestic suppliers - can keep prices low. Additionally, in the almighty pursuit of keeping costs low, Wal*Mart is notorious for busting unionizing efforts early and ruthlessly, paying it's workers as little as it can get away with and for having absolutely draconian benefits.

None of this is news, but perhaps, a little at a time, as its methods are publicized, perhaps Wal*Mart can be driven back into the little town in Arkansas from which it came.

Rupublicans Find the Answer to Looming Deficits

And that answer would be:

"House Republican leaders are nearing agreement on a bill to give nearly $60 billion in additional tax breaks to corporations, brushing aside Democratic complaints that the measure would deepen the federal budget deficit."
Couldn't you just see that one coming?

The House proposal would include giving breaks to those wonderful corporate citizens who make money out of country and bring those profits back into the U.S.

Just how did this bill come about?

"According to a new report by the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that scrutinizes campaign finance, companies in one or another of the coalitions lobbying over this issue contributed $753,000 to members of the Senate Finance Committee and $700,000 to members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the first half of 2003."
Surprised? I didn't think so.

Rummy Euchred?

That's probably a bit too hopeful, I know. But the NYT has a great article on how everyone's favorite SecDef is pissing off everyone Left and Right. The article also mentions our favorite AssSecDef, "Wolfie" Wolfowitz.

Basically the piece lays out how these two have apparently ticked off people on both sides of the aisle by their arrogance and "high handedness" and how members of congress are increasingly making their displeasure known to the White House.

Nothing would make me happier than to see these two neocon bastards ejected from the administration (except the ejection of the entire administration, but I'll be happy with what I can get...)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Why I Use a Mac

And why Apple doesn't need much advertising.

Stuff like this almost makes me want to gloat...

It's Official: GITMO is Illegal!

In Australia today, pResident aWol said (via NYT) that the prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were "...people who were picked up off a battlefield of war."

Does this mean that he's reversing long-standing policy that these folks were not prisoners of war?


Does this mean that they will now be treated in full accordance with the Geneva Convention on the rights of prisoners of war?


Does this mean that they will be allowed legal representation?

Don't be silly. Remember, aWol was making comments off the cuff - i.e. unscripted. He didn't really know what he was saying or the legal ramifications of his words. Look for "clarification" later today by his puppetmasters.

Bush's Beirut?

It seems impossible to me that the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut was 20 years ago, today. 1983 was the year I graduated from West Point and headed out into the Army. The bombing got all of us in the military thinking about where we were going, about our politicians' commitment to the wise use of the military and, of course, about force protection.

Although that event led directly to our withdrawal from Beirut, it seems that perhaps certain lessons weren't learned by the politicians. I wonder, like everyone on the left side of the blogosphere, whether aWol will attend ceremonies honoring the marines killed twenty years ago. But even more importantly, I wonder if - still - the lessons of Beirut have been forgotten.

There are more soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan than there were in Beirut and all of Lebanon in 1983, and there have been no single, large bombings targeted at U.S. soldiers, but the death toll so far there has been much higher. The fact that it's happening one or two deaths at a time doesn't change the basic question: is our government allowing the military to do all it can to protect our soldiers?

The situation is not strictly analogous, I know. But the concern is the same. Have we learned our history lessons? BushCo. seems incapable of learning any deep lessons from history; can they learn even the most basic?

As we see the memorials to our Marines today, contrast that to the caskets arriving one or two at a time at Dover Air Force Base (not that we are allowed to see even those anymore...). Once again our men and women in uniform are deployed in a place where the population has a deep distrust and hatred for American policies without - perhaps - the proper levels of force protection.

Will we learn our lessons this time?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Social Responsibility - Part 2

Jeanne, over at Body and Soul has a great post up today about the divided nature of the Republican Party. In it she makes a statement in which appears the phrase "the term "working poor" ought to be inconceivable." The post is great and so are the comments, but it was that phrase that caught my attention.

I can understand why there are poor people (I don't think a society as rich as ours should have "poor people" in the sense that phrase usually means, but that's another story). These are the people who have lost their jobs, or are too ill (physically or mentally) to work or are disabled. There should be social safety nets to ensure that being poor doesn't mean living on the street or doing without food or medical care, but that there will be a class of people termed poor is understandable. That we do so little to help this is not so understandable - again a different post.

What I can't understand is why it should be perfectly understandable when someone says "working poor."

That the phrase "working poor" can often mean someone or some family with multiple sources of income is a travesty. I know, I know... I can hear the conservatives saying something about "the power of the almighty market to value work." But what is the cost to all of us that there can exist, in our country - the richest, most powerful state to ever exist in history - people who, in the somewhat mangled words of Lewis Carroll, "must run as fast as they can just to get further behind."

I don't know how to change our society so that "working poor" becomes an oxymoron. If I knew, I sure wouldn't be sitting at my desk dashing out this entry during what should be my lunch break at work. I'm sure I could be ensconced in some "Think Tank" in D.C. advising the Democrats on policy (I'm quite sure the Repugs wouldn't be interested). I'm pretty sure it would have something to do with some form of "Living Wage" and single-payer medical care and a restructured (and loop-hole free) tax system. But what all those things should look like and how they would work... well, I just don't know.

But the fact that it's literally impossible to have an intelligent, informed conversation about this topic in our society (unless you're "preaching to the choir") is a shame and it will certainly continue to come around and bite all of us in the ass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Social Responsibility - Part 1

A recent post and link I followed from Boots & Sabers, a right-wing blog I follow raises some interesting points. Points that show just how callous conservatives are and just how far from their supposed "family values" they've fallen. The link leads to a post at The Spoons Experience and the post is about a federal program to supply free breakfast at school.

Most of the comments about the post are in the vein of asking why "we" should be responsible to feed "your" kid. It never fails to amaze me how in one breath conservatives are talking about family values and "faith-based" anything and then in the next breath slam social programs that take care of the needy among us.

Here's one of my comments:

"You guys are all around the answer in your posts, but nobody's quite hit it because you're somewhat blinded to it. Let's try this:

- Should most people be allowed to procreate without further education, instruction and licensing? No.
- Are some "parents" negligent, some criminally, for not feeding or otherwise taking care of their children? Yes.
- Should DCFS (or equivalent) be called in some cases where kids chronically come to school so hungry they cannot do their work? Yes.


- Are there parents out there who are
1) Not there in the morning when their kids leave for school because they are: selling crack, turning tricks, in jail, at work at Wal*Mart?
2) Out of work and truly unable to make ends meet with foodstamps and welfare?
3) Out of it because of drug or alcohol dependence?
4) Living in a car?
Answer: YES!

So then what? Are we as a nation - or even as individuals - so penurious, though so rich, that we would let these children go to school (where they must take umpteen standardized tests per year) so hungry that they cannot learn? Maybe not every school needs to feed every child, but how do you know which ones need the breakfast? Do you "means test" every child?

And what is the cost of feeding breakfast to children at school verses the later cost of those who will fail and/or drop out? Those costs are too hard to put into an easy spreadsheet so they are typically discounted.

Are we really so cheap?"
I want to do more about this soon... so watch this space.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Alabama - The New Low-Tax Model

I wrote about Alabama's Republican Governor trying to raise taxes to cover some already rather minimal spending requirements in his state and how the voters rejected the increase. Today, the results of that rejection are coming clearer.

A NYT editorial on the current and growing mess in Alabama - cuts in services and social safety-net programs - lays out in graphic detail the results of the current conservative vogue. The NYT calls the drive to shrink government revenues, i.e. taxes, (so that deficits increase so that Repugs can slash social and government programs) "starving the beast." And the specifics are frightening:

"A hundred and fifty fewer low-income AIDS patients will receive life-saving medicines from the state. Fifteen thousand low-income Alabamians may lose their hypertension drugs.

High Hopes, a program that offers after-school tutoring to students who fail the high school graduation exam, is being slashed. And up to 1,500 poor children and adults with Down syndrome, autism and other disabilities will not be able to attend a state-supported special-needs camp.


The court system is laying off 500 of 1,600 workers, from clerk's office employees to probation officers. The health department is losing investigators who track tuberculosis, and sharply reducing restaurant inspections."
And that is only the beginning:

"Next year agencies are bracing for a 56 percent hit. If the state cannot find more revenue — and Governor Riley is searching — it may be nearly impossible for basic services, including courts, prisons and police, to operate."
This is the future that the Republican party has in mind for all of us. Those who already have their money and their government contacts will be fine; in fact they'll do much better. The rest of us will have to fend for ourselves - with the poor completely abandoned.

All of the things that people want in a stable, just and peaceful society cost money. The only way to pay for those things is with tax revenues. Reduced revenues equals reduced services. Eventually, that includes things like Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare. Taking this to its logical end, it would also include things like prisons, schools, police departments and fire departments. Somehow people must be made to realize that taxes are not just a way for a government to take money out of their paychecks. Whoever can articulate this and can articulate a way to simplify tax law and close loopholes can make this a winning issue.

When you starve a "beast," you don't get to chose which parts of its body die. It all dies.

And what does that leave? It leaves the very rich in gated, fortified enclaves with everyone else outside in scenes that would likely be familiar to medieval peasants.

Friday, October 17, 2003

An Apple a Day...

I'm a recent Apple convert and like all converts I am sometimes fervent in my conversion. But in this case, I think the fervor is for good reason.

Apple products work. And I don't mean that in the way that someone would say, "yeah, my IBM works," or "sure, my Dell works." What I mean is that my iMac (the last of the slot loading, all-in-one machines) works - all the time. I've left it running for 4 months at a stretch, rebooting only when I installed the occasional software that requires it. It has never - not once - crashed. And the software works. In the same way. I've had to "force quit" an application maybe three or four times in the two and a half years I've been using my iMac. But OS X is so well thought out, so well written, that such an event has never caused the entire operating system to crash. And when I have force-quit an application, I just start it right back up and everything keeps working.

When I say I'm a recent convert, that doesn't mean I'm a new computer user. My first computer was a Tandy, running at 10Mhz with no hard drive and only 256K of RAM. That was in 1985. I use an IBM Thinkpad at work. And every day, when I come in and have to wait through the interminable boot up, I miss my Mac. I feel the same way all day...

Anyway... what got me started on this post is that Apple announced the (long anticipated) release of its iTunes software and its attendant on-line iTunes Music Store for Windows. I've used iTunes for a couple of years and I absolutely love it. It is slick, stable and "it works." I've used Apples Music Store as well and, like so many other things, Apple just got it right. It's easy to navigate around the site and find what you are looking for, and after setting up your purchasing information in a very secure setup, you can buy music with just one click. Sure, there are other music stores out there that cater to Windows users, but they will immediately be playing catch up to Apple.

And not only does iTunes work well, Apples MP3 player, the iPod, is an absolute "home run." It works with Windows, too. I don't have one, but it's on my very short list of "stuff" I'd like to get, and everything I've read about them, every opportunity I've had to play with one in a store, has impressed me. Apple's got about 30% of the MP3 player market and this will likely grow with the release of the Windows software. Even the lowest end model holds more music (or files - it can act as a Firewire removable drive) than all the other models out there combined; 10GB. That's right; 10 GIGABYTES.

So all you Windows users out there, go download iTunes. You will absolutely love it. And while you're waiting for the file to download, go look around Apple's site. Especially look at the screen shots of the updated OS X "Panther." If you can't admit that these two things don't at least make you think about switching, you're just fooling yourself!

Fervent? Yep. For good reason.

Congress and UN Slap Down Bush

Okay, slap down might be a little over the top, but it's damn close to the truth.

While aWol and Co. are crowing about their diplomatic victory in the UN, what they are not saying is that basically the UN had its way with them. No money. No troops. And kindly get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Some victory.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted 51-47 to make half of BushCo.'s $20B Iraq rebuilding funds a loan, repayable by the Iraqis. This has the potential to sink the entire appropriation in committee - or at least slow it down significantly.

It's a good thing that the UN voted through this resolution, especially as written. It gives international impetus to the Bush administration to speed up its transition of power to an Iraqi government. It also, I think, gives the UN some leverage in other areas as well; specifically on getting command of "coalition forces" under a coalition command and getting the Iraqi constitution written and approved sooner rather than later.

I don't think that the "loan" provision will ever fly. It will get shot down or modified in committee. But the statement is more important than the provision actually being implemented. I think it would be wrong to saddle the Iraqis with the bill for our audacity, they should be able to make a clean, unburdened start.

We will, of course, see how both of these things are handled by BushCo. in the next several days. Already administration officials are touting the UN resolution as a huge victory (as if they really care what comes out of such a "useless" and "irrelevant" body). And although the loan provision has made the news, so far there hasn't been much rumbling from the usual right-wing mouthpieces.

Is this further detritus falling from the facade of a crumbling administration?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Voting Machine Fraud?

Just a quick entry.

Check out this story (link via Altercation), it's been brewing on the back burner, ever since the idea of computerized voting machines was introduced. It seems, however, that the worst nightmares may have already occured in Georgia. But because of the contracts signed with voting machine companies (does Diebold ring a bell? "We'll deliver the votes to President Bush" is their company's motto), the state of Georgia cannot look at the software or the machines for security issues. And, worst of all, there is no paper trail for a recount.

Anyway, go check it out. This is so damned scary.

And sad, since, in general, I'm all in favor of automating things and making them simpler for people to use.

Chicago, Get a Grip!

Leave Steve Bartman alone.

I've always been somewhat bewildered by anyone who takes sports so seriously that they schedule their time around televised sporting events - or even live events.

I've played more sports than I can probably count. Some, like football (American, that is) and baseball, were limited to highschool and college (intramural). Others I've played for longer periods; tennis, golf, raquetball, soccer, etc. Still others I've played at various times and places; lacrosse, softball, handball, volleyball. So I'm not anti-sport. When I have enough time to sit in front of the television for the four-plus hours it can take to watch some football or baseball games, I'd rather use that time for constructive purposes: sometimes to actually go outside and play a sport, sometimes to do other things that I need or want to do.

But what could make what should be grown, rational people become so rabid about the outcome of a game played by a team on which they've never played, and/or a sport in which they've likely never played (beyond sandlot) that they would threaten a young fan for momentarily forgetting the world-wide import of the game he was watching and try to snag himself a souvenir? It's beyond me. Really.

Maybe its the face paint; some insidious chemical has worked its way into their brain. Perhaps its the beer. Or the $10 hotdogs (or whatever combination of arm and leg they are charging now).

I meet these fan(atic)s all the time. At work, out and about everywhere I go. I just want to grab them by the collar and yell at them, "It's a game!"

But I refrain. I know that in the fevered mind of a fan(atic), there can be no reasoning.

Halliburton: "Hauling Coal to Newcastle"

If you don't know the meaning of the quote above or its relevance to Halliburton, consider that during the heyday of coal as a fuel in England, Newcastle had the largest deposits of coal in the country. And, if you've read any number of stories today - this one, for example - about Halliburton overcharging the Iraq Provisional Authority for gasoline imported to Iraq, you'll understand the connection.

Spot market gasoline prices in the Gulf region are reported to be around $0.70/gallon. Halliburton's KBR subsidiary is selling it to the Provisional Authority for the equivalent of $1.62 - $1.70 per gallon. The P.A. then gets to sell it to Iraqis for $0.04 - $0.15 per gallon. Guess who foots the rest of the bill?

Check out the stories, then think about that $87 billion supplemental appropriations bill before congress, then imagine how much of that will flow to Halliburton. And just who is it that's at the far end of that flow of money? You know the answer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Transparent Pricing and American Jobs

I heard a very interesting report on NPR's Market Place last night. It had to do with "Transparent Pricing." But the reporter, Adam Hanft, had a new take on the term. You can hear the entire report here (scroll down - you'll need Real Audio).

In short, Hanft says that with true pricing transparency customers would be able to make more informed purchases - but not just about the content and place of manufacture, but also about the manufacturer's stand on important social issues like pollution, health care and retirement funding. Hanft says that a product's price tag should include details on the cost to the manufacturer not just of component parts, but of health care insurance, pollution prevention and other structural costs. Americans could then make truly informed decisions about which products to purchase.

Would you pay more if you knew a company didn't use sweatshop or poorly paid off-shore workers? Would you be willing to part with a few more dollars if you knew that the pension plan of the workers who made your product was well funded and secure, or that their health was well taken care of? If the answer to those questions are yes in the larger population, perhaps Wal*Mart wouldn't be quite so popular. Perhaps...

I might just do a little more research on this for later. Stand by.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 02-1624

Today, The Supremes will hear the case alleging that the Pledge of Allegience, as currently recited, violates the wall of separation between church and state. I think everyone knows the details around this case and the outbreak of wingnuttery it has caused on the right.

What is not always clear in discussions of this case are the bizarre twists and turns the Pledge has undergone in its history since about 1945. It was written and introduced to the public in a wave of patriotism that swept the US during and just after WWII. There had never been any kind of general pledge prior to that and especially not to the flag. The flag had always been held in high regard, but in a way similar to the flags of other countries. Once the the hot war of WWII cooled off, the Cold War with the "godless communists" began to heat up. It was this concern with communism that prompted congress to "amend" the pledge with " nation, under god..." where once it had just said " nation, indivisible..."

The issue here is, I think, plain to see and very explicable by the court. "Under god" is government tacitly saying that we are a nation under god. Some will argue that those who don't agree can remove themselves from the classroom, or that it is just an historical recognition of the founders' religiosity or a nod to tradition. But these are specious arguments. Like prayer in the classroom - or anywhere at school sanctioned events - those who's religions prevent them from claiming allegiance, or who's primary figure is something other than the "christian god" would rightly feel ostracized. Agnostics and atheists (Brights) would as well. And the tradition argument doesn't hold water either as it was inserted well after the original was penned. At any rate, all this twisting and spinning just results in proponents trying to have it both ways. It just doesn't work.

I have no special insights into how the Supremes will decide this case. I have been surprised too many times in the past to make predictions. However, past rulings on separation cases have generally upheld a rather strict wall of separation. I hope they continue this trend.

North Korea's Nukes

So aWol (and his neocon buddies) were so concerned that Iraq was developing, could develop, might want to develop nuclear weapons that we had to attack before we learned the hard way. Remember the "mushroom cloud" references?

Yet, despite the fact that analysts (and perhaps operatives, too) say that it is not likely that North Korea has reprocessed the 8,000 + spent fuel rods into weapons grade plutonium, BushCo. are oddly silent on the issue. In fact, some of the same administration hawks who were absolutely certain that the available intelligence showed Iraq was perilously close to having "the bomb," are being very cautious about the intelligence about North Korea.

Maybe they've learned a lesson in humility before incomplete intelligence. Maybe the neocon playbook never included the DPRK and they are at a loss as to what to do.

Whatever the reason, with aWol himself going to Bangkok next week for an Asian summit, you'd think the hawks would be beating the drums over this one. Yet they are strangely silent. Whether Kim Jong Il intends to build more bombs (or has built, some estimates are the latest round of reprocessing has given him up to eight weapons) or to sell weapons grade materials on the black market, this is very scary stuff.

North Korea should scare us all as Iraq never could. Not only is Kim a monomaniacal sociopath, but the million plus soldiers under his command are as fanatical as they come. There is no doubt that should Kim give the order, they would not only march on Seoul, but they would launch whatever nuclear or biological weapons they have.

BushCo has started to come around in some sense, they are at least making noises like they will talk with North Korea. But there are no concrete signs from this administration that they are taking this situation seriously, or, in fact, that they have any idea just what to do about it.

Out of Touch and Way Behind

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving so I have been away from the TV, away from the newspapers and, most importantly, away from the web. I've missed a couple of good stories, but the one with the most interest to me - and aparently, at least for now - to the press is the Army Astroturf fiasco.

Josh Marshal at Talking Points Memo and Hesiod over at Counterspin Central are doing a great job of bringing all the threads together on this one. It apparently involves a very similar - and in many cases exact copy - letter being sent to multiple newspapers around the country, signed by different soldiers. The last update is that a Battalion Commander has taken the responsibility for writing the letter and getting some of his soldiers to sign it to get the "real story" to the press.

I think the comments I left at Counterspin give my position on this very well:


Like any large corporation, the military is very strict on what kinds of communications get sent to outside agencies - especially the press. No battalion commander I ever knew had the authority to release letters or any other communications to the press without the involvement of at least the post Public Affairs office. And that office is under the direct control of the post commander - typically a two star general.

And for anything that would potentially get wider dissemination that the local rag, the post commander would have to go to the Corps Public Affairs... and on up the chain.

No matter what get said on this by that leiutenant colonel or other spin meisters, this has got the finger prints of Dept. of Defense if not higher.
While I can appreciate soldiers wanting to get their side of the story out, this smacks of Defense Department propaganda. And coming as it does on the heels of BushCo.'s announcement that they are going to actively "get the story out" on their successes in Iraq, it can't help but put all these soldiers in the position of being dupes, pawns in Rummy's PR campaign. They work too hard, and put themselves in too much danger without this kind of help.

It's disgusting and I hope that the real perps are exposed.

Friday, October 10, 2003

GREAT Krugman - And Last NYT Reference Today

The New York Times is my refuge from the conservatism I endure in a big corporation, which begins every day by reading the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, here's Paul Krugman:

All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush administration's critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion of that administration's policies. For there is no way to be both honest and polite about what has happened in these past three years.
The rest is even better. Others in the blogosphere have said it long before me, but this guy writes some of the best, most reasoned progressive viewpoints.

Quote of the Day

Again from the NYT:

Mr. Wilson said Mr. Bush "certainly seems far less certain about finding the leaker than he is about finding Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein."
That's Mr. Wilson as in Mr. Joe Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame. And it's just friggin' hilarious!

This was, of course in response to aWol's proclamation that he just wasn't sure that the FBI would ever find who leaked the fact that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative. What a farce.

Hey, look, over there! It's Kobe! (Dupes.)

Red Cross on GITMO

This is interesting... in the NYT today:

A senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that the holding of more than 600 detainees here was unacceptable because they were being held for open-ended terms without proper legal process.


Mr. Girod's comments departed from the usual reluctance of the International Red Cross to issue public criticism.


Under longstanding procedures, the committee agrees that in exchange for access it will not generally publicize its findings but rather take complaints or criticisms to the government in charge in the hope that they can be addressed. Only when the Red Cross decides that its views are not being heeded does it publicize its concerns.
Full details at the Red Cross web site.

This, more than anything, graphically shows what is happening to our country - to our constitution - under the neocon influence. GITMO is an absolute abomination.

And yet, as you'll hear over and over again from so many: "Where is the outrage?"

Arnold and Enron

It's been widely reported that The Gropenator Elect held "secret" meetings with Enron officials - including Ken Lay - during the California energy crisis. Now we learn this:

California, the first state to pull the plug on electricity deregulation, may now be the first to hop back on the deregulation bandwagon under new Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Thursday, October 09, 2003

A Pound of (New) Twenties, Please

Today, the new $20 bill goes into circulation. It is not the typical green we've all grown up with. It has several different, relatively subtle colors, some foil hot stamping as well as some very sophisticated anti-counterfeiting devices. It's a change - huge according to some.

I like them.

My wife is Canadian and I've grown used to the different colors of Canadian currency and their $1 and $2 coins (Looney and Tooney). The very different colors of their bills means that you'll never give a cashier a $20 when you meant to hand over a $1 - we've all done it, then you look at the cashier like they have three heads when they start handing back all that change (or not).

Anyway, for now, the US twenty is the only "greenback" that'll be sporting new colors. Other bills are supposed to follow soon and I hope that the Treasury follows the Canadian model of giving each denominatin a different hue.

Any one out there who doesn't like the new bills can just send them to me. Thanks.

Texas - Again

To answer my question from below: Yes, Rethuglicans from Texas ARE assholes.

Calpundit lays out the reason why the Rethugs are the way they are - despite protestations from some moderates that they're really not so bad. The problem is the Texas Republican Party and its platform and the way that platform - and Texas Rethugs - has infested the wider Republican Party platform like Houston swamp full of roaches. And for those of you who think he's making this up, go read the actual document.

If you're not frightened of the Republican intentions on our country and our constitution, you will be after you read Cal's entry.

More on this later...

Right to Die - Redux

My post below was about Florida, now this from Wisconsin.

The measure, known as the "conscience clause" bill, also seeks to protect doctors and others from professional and legal repercussions for refusing to grant a patient's or family's wishes to withhold food and water for terminally ill patients. (via Boots and Sabers)
Because, of course, only conservatives can tell you when and how to die. This bill also says that doctors cannot be held liable for refusing to perform abortions or for refusing to do just about anything that has to do with fetal tissue.

The next thing you know we'll be seeing the "chastity belt bill" being introduced - my guess would be Texas.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Ground Control to Major... Chin?

It seems that our sometime friend, sometime adversary China may launch an astronaut into space around mid-October. They claim that their space program is entirely home-grown, although even a quick glance at the equipment shows it to be a collection of Soviet/Russian knockoffs.

But my real point is that I hope this inspires our vision-less citizens and politicians to revive our own floundering space program. NASA has gone begging since right after Apollo 11 got back from the moon. Sure, I've read the history, I know that the major impetus behind the "moon race" was the Cold War. But really, has there ever been a time when our nation was so alive, so focused?

We should go to Mars.

Sure, the moon is closer. It has known deposits of commercially useful minerals, it would make a great scientific outpost for astronomy, hell, it may even have water hidden in perpetually dark craters. What it lacks is a challenge great enough to recreate that sense of adventure that everyone else - who thought it really was a race to the moon - had. Mars is far enough away to require some real engineering leaps. Mars is far enough away to challenge the imagination. The mission is difficult enough - and costly enough - to require true international cooperation. Not the half-assed attempts being made with the International Space Station.

Unfortunately I know of nobody in government right now with the imagination, the multi-national popularity, the sheer chutzpah to pull it off. Bush doesn't even read his own news, can he really be expected to have absorbed the historical lessons of the 60s and 70s when he was busy drinking, snorting and going aWol?

Where is a leader with such vision?

...Then You'll be Treated Like Mexicans

Okay, can we finally just admit that Rethuglicans from Texas are just ASSHOLES?

BTW: I'm of Mexican descent... this really torches my ass.

BTW2: This includes aWol and his band of merry men - whether Texan or not.

BTW3: This really ought to result in somebody's head on a pike.

Right to Die

Jeb Bush continues the Repug conceit that only they know who should die and when.

For the second time this year, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida is seeking to sway a contentious case involving an incapacitated person, this time trying to keep a brain-damaged woman alive against her husband's wishes.

Mr. Bush's decision to file a friend-of-the-court brief on Tuesday came days after his attorney general, Charles Crist, declined to get involved in the case.
Conservatives continue to interfere in the rights of those who wish to die with dignity and of women who would maintain control of their bodies. And yet, completely without irony, they will demand that the government put to death criminals regardless that they cannot guarantee that an innocent person will not be killed. To say nothing of the barbarism of the act itself.

Conservatives demand that government stay out of their lives, but they sure do want to meddle in everyone else's.

Hell Has Frozen Over

If it's not completely frozen over, it must surely be pretty damned chilly down there this morning.

And it's my sincerest hope that the lowest, coldest level of Dante's Inferno is reserved for those who would vote to install Schwartzenegger as governor of the 7th largest economy in the world.

The Gropenor Elect, in his "victory speech," still couldn't come up with a single, detailed position on any issue. My mother has some great sayings - which I should write down for posterity (and hilarity) - one of which was "be careful what you wish for; you just might get it." Another was "people get what they deserve, in the end."

And so it is, I think, for California. They were gullible enough to believe a conservative millionaire businessman had their best interests in mind when he started this whole mess. They were so sheep-like that they could be led to the point where they could be stupid enough to vote for an action film movie star who has never elucidated a single detailed plan on any of the hugely important issues facing California.

If the world ended today, it wouldn't surprise me.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

One Vial Does Not a Weapons Program Make

I know it's horribly mangled, but apropos, nonetheless.

Millions of dollars and months later, the Kay report reveals...
wait for it
One vial of reference bugs.

And BushCo. is convinced that this is all the proof we need. (Except of course, they'd like another $600M to keep looking.)

The Rethugs take us all for fools.

Unfortunately, by the reaction all of this dissembling gotten from the press and the public, they are right.

California Dreamin'

I lived in California twice; for about 3 years each time. Army pay wasn't really conducive to participating in lots of aspects of the good life out there, but it was a great place to live anyway. Fort Ord, the base where I was stationed doesn't exist anymore; it was closed as part of the "peace dividend" that has somehow disappeared. But it was located just outside of Monterey - perhaps the most beautiful town in America.

Anyway, that's all just to say that I understand the passion that Californians have for their state and their way of life.

What I don't think anyone understands, including Californians, is their politics. The fractious mix of conservative big business, radical student bodies and cities (Berkeley being the prime example) and a mix of immigrants not seen anywhere else in the U.S. except perhaps New York City makes for an incredible melange of interests. Given what politicians have become, that means that any successful office-holder must understand this mix and shape their messages to appeal to the broadest array - all in an attempt to gain a majority of the votes. Or to keep from being recalled.

Today's the day this diverse mix of voters goes to the polls to decide whether to recall Gray Davis and if so, who to install in his stead. Everyone knows the Repug machinations that lead to this point - and for sure Davis' personality and his bad luck at governing during the worst depression in decades has not helped. Everyone also knows all the stories behind the Republican front runner 'Ahnold.' The groping and womanizing and the complete lack of contrition or even acknowledgement on his part. That's all history now. The polls are open.

What will happen? Despite lots of prognosticating in the polls and the press, I don't think anyone can really say. Having lived there and now living on the East Coast I could claim to have some special insight into how this will all turn out. Forget about it. Nothing would surprise me.

I have my hopes. I hope that the recall is rejected. I hope that Schwartzenegger goes down in flames amid a flurry of law suits and further claims. But no matter what happens, I just can't be surprised at what Californians will do to themselves.

And like any train wreck, I just can't look away.

Monday, October 06, 2003

"A Wall*Mart Kind of Hell"

Ever feel like you needed a shower after being in a Wall*Mart?

I thought it was just me!

The Spiral Downward? (re-edited)

I was kind of out of the news loop this weekend so I was surprised this morning to hear about the Israeli strike into Syria on NPR.

I've only read a single article - in the Wall Street Journal - about this, so I'm not up to speed on the details. I do know, however, that it seems things are hinging on what we do in the UN as far as condemning the attack. As always John Negroponte has orders to make sure that any resolution includes condemnation of the attacks against Israel.

The opinion I do have is based upon my long-time feelings about Sharon's actions over the past several years. I think that "targeted assassinations," destroying suicide bombers' families' homes, continued expansion of settlements in the occupied territories and construction of "the wall" are just not working. Each of these actions only foments and increases the resentment which the Palestinians feel towards Israel (and hence the U.S.) and fuels further violence.

Now before anyone think me an anti-semite; I also feel that the Palestinians, and especially Arafat, have done nothing to make their methods "palatable." And those methods, regardless of the mismatch in military power between the Palestinians and Isreal, taint the cause.

And neither side seems willing to back away from the cycle.

This is what happens when societies that are basically stuck in the middle ages - with family and tribal bonds are closer than national bonds and blood vengeance still an accepted part of dealing with crises - have modern weapons and are given nation-state status. In a sort of grand, technological way, you have to include Israel in that description. Each transgression results in calls for "revenge" from the "aggrieved" side. And from this point in history, no one can say which episode started the whole thing - this time around.

My recommendation (not that anyone would take it, or even care...): A massive U.N. peacekeeping force should "occupy" all of Israel and Palestine. This force must include - or, in fact, be primarily composed of - representatives of the Arab world. And they must force the issue. Key leaders on both sides must be rounded up - by force if necessary - and locked into a room. For as long as it takes.

The situation is too explosive for half measures.

Too bad nobody's listening to me.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Fox's Faux Facts

You just knew it was so, but go check out the poll results posted by Atrios about where people who believe false things get their news.


Must Reads for Friday

Two Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times today that should be read (actually, one is a re-read...):

The first is "The Legacy of Blackhawk Down." A great, first-hand account of the background activities of the story most of us know from the soldiers' point of view. Kenneth Cain - who was a young U.N. human rights officer in Mogudishu lays out some lessons that weren't learned about how to do nation building. A great read.

The second is a reprint of Joe Wilson's July 6th piece laying out the facts about the Iraq-Niger yellowcake hoax - and his belief that his facts were twisted in Bush's SOTU. For those who missed it the first time, or who haven't gone back to read it again; take the time. Get the facts - including that he worked under both Repugs and Dems in the past and appears to be anything but a partisan hack.

And in a way, these two are linked. Because we didn't learn from some past experiences - or didn't learn well - the war that we got into because Wilson's findings were ignored has left us with a nation building job that we really don't understand how to do.

One of my favorite, if overused, quotes is "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Why Clark?

If you've read my previous posts on Wes Clark here and here, you know that I've come around to liking him and supporting him. In fact, I need to get something up in my links over there...

Anyway, Josh over at Talking Points Memo posted an interview with Clark. It confirms the sense I got from Clark. He really lays out some impressive progressive ideas sharpened through a lense of a soldier's life - which is not ever easy, either physically, emotionally or economically.

Go read the interview. Think it over. You'll be impressed.

Sleight of Hand?

These two grafs from the Wall Street Journal (no link because you need a subscription) may indicate how the White House intends to defuse the current mess over Plame-gate:

"The Justice Department probe into who leaked an intelligence officer's identity reaches beyond the White House, but remains focused on possible government sources rather than their media contacts.

Justice Department officials plan to notify employees of the Defense and State departments to preserve any documents relating to the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and the Central Intelligence Agency already has been asked to do so, officials said.

By widening the investigation, Justice is likely hoping to redirect public and press attention from the White House - specifically from Shrub and Rove.

This may be an easier way to get through this than the North Korea angle (see last post).

Bush Too Busy to Notice North Korea Making WMD

While the Bush administration was busy "sexing up" the intel on Iraq's weapons programs and retaliating against Joe Wilson for not supporting those claims, Kim Jong Il was busy reprocessing 8,000 nuclear fuel rods into high-grade uranium.

Now while the CIA has been saying North Korea is likely to have one or two nuclear warheads, the Wall Street Journal is saying that "some U.S. analysts" (probably not Valerie Plame - but I wonder if this is more Team B boys) believe NK has up to six warheads. These same analysts believe that may be enough for Pyongyang to either test a warhead or sell one. Neither of which would do a lot to lower tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

NK says that they must build these weapons because of the "aggressive stance of the U.S." Maybe one of the few countries in the world who would actually be wrong to make such a statement. For all their bullying in the Middle East, BushCo. has been eerily silent on NK nukes.

Watch for this to become the next crisis. While this is serious, I wouldn't put it past BushCo. to use this as a distraction from the CIA leak crisis.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


Sure it's too soon to celebrate - this whole gathering storm over revealing a CIA operative's name could just blow over. But thinking about it...well I took a moment to wonder about a future that included something nasty for BushCo. over this.

Karl Rove's head on a pike outside the CIA headquarters at Langley. It would have to be a really large, sturdy pike to hold up that great pumpkin of a noggin', but still... Oh, and Joe Wilson should get to plant it!

"We want...a Shrubbery!" A group of CIA operatives (with those little black rectangles over their eyes, of course) dressed as The Knights Who Say "Ni!" calling for Shrub's head on a platter...

There were others, but none that I'd really want to share...

"Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge..."

Comments Are Back!

Blogspeak seems to be back up and running this morning!

Comment away!!

Treason Defined Downward

It's not surprising, but in a way, still shocking nonetheless...

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, so no link) this morning is calling the entire Wilsongate scandal a "kerfuffle."

Here's a sample graph:

"This is the context in which Mr. Novak was told that Mr. Wilson had been hired at the recommendation of his wife, a CIA employee. This is hardly blowing a state secret but is something the public had a right to know. When an intelligence operative essentially claims that a U.S. President sent American soldiers off to die for a lie, certainly that operative's own motives and history ought to be on the table. In any event, Mrs. Wilson was not an agent in the field but is ensconced at Langley headquarters. It remains far from clear that any law was violated.

See how the Bush apologists are just not interested, or try to deflect attention away from the real crime. No, to these guys, it's the bigger shame that someone who didn't toe the BushCo. line was used to dig around in this story. If only they had used someone more "dependable," friendlier to the administration...

And of course if she were "ensconced at Langley," then Wilson's wife couldn't possible have been doing anything important or actually running an operation with operatives in the field. The Rethugs are pounding the "she was just an analyst" angle with this.

What I'd like to see in the Justice Department's investigation would be the number of field operatives or important contacts who were compromised with this leak and how many of them were jailed or killed because of it. Unfortunately I think that someone a little more independent of BushCo will be needed to find that. Can you say special prosecutor?

Oh, and one more interesting quote that shows that there may be just a tinge of panic setting in:

"At least we can be thankful that Democrats buried the independent counsel statute during the Clinton years. "Leak" investigations are notoriously fruitless in any case and typically a waste of Justice Department resources. It's especially amusing to see the media whose lifeblood is leaks feigning outrage. "

But the interest is there in the press at long last. I wonder just how long the White House spinmeisters can keep the lid on this one.