Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Forward Forum

According to Van Creveld Bush is a war criminal.

An Autumn of War

I had read a couple of articles of his in the past that dealt pretty narrowly with classics, and found them interesting. But I'm well into "An Autumn of War" now, and I just want to make two quick observations:

1. This book is pretty much a "Binary Thought Manifesto" for our age. For binary thinkers, there is only black and white, right and wrong, etc., which is why their battle cry MUST be "They hate who we are, not what we do"; If a binary-thinker were to acknowledge that the US had wronged Muslims in any way, he would be forced by his binary worldview to acknowledge that they had an absolute right to rain death and destruction down upon the US (the same absolute right we have to rain death and destruction down on them for wronging us), which they couldn't possibly have because we're great people and we live here. Suggesting that it's a mixture of who we are, who they are, and what we, they, and others have done to them that explains the current situation, simply doesn't compute.

2. This is connected with 1., but has more to do with a problem of logic than with the values that entail a binary outlook. Note the definitiveness of the proclamation that it's who we are, not what we do, that has caused the terrorists to attack us. It's as if the principle of "action, reaction" applied everywhere in the world but in international relations. Whatever it was that we've done in the past (and specific instances from the history of US-Middle East relations are scarce-to-non-existent in Hanson) couldn't possibly have upset the Muslims as much as the freedoms we possess. However, when it comes to a show of weakness in Saigon setting the stage for a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the pull out of the Marines from Lebanon leading to an increase in hostage taking, or the impotent firing of cruise missiles inviting an attack on the WTC, then "action, reaction" makes a startling comeback, and you're a fool if you couldn't connect the dots in the first place.

The "Rapture" Fiasco

Unger goes for the throat in his expose on the fundies and their End of Days dreams. Enjoy.

The REAL difference between Europeans and Americans

Issue of 2005-11-28Posted 2005-11-21

In the nineteen-fifties and sixties, it was a commonplace that Americans would soon devote their lives to leisure, not work. The number of hours the average American worked had fallen by almost twenty-five per cent between 1900 and 1950, and pundits saw no reason for the trend to stop. By the end of the twentieth century, the futurist Herman Kahn prophesied in 1967, Americans would enjoy thirteen weeks of vacation and a four-day work week. The challenge, it seemed, would be figuring out what to do with all our free time.

Kahn was wrong. Today, Americans work about as many hours each year as they did in 1970, and, instead of thirteen weeks of vacation, the average American now gets four (and that includes holidays). But there is a place that has got considerably closer to the leisure society of the futurists’ dreams—Western Europe. The French work twenty-eight per cent fewer hours per person than Americans, and the Germans put in twenty-five per cent fewer hours. Compared with Europeans, a higher percentage of American adults work, they work more hours per week, and they work more weeks per year.

One obvious result of this is that America is richer than Europe. In terms of productivity—that is, how much a worker produces in an hour—there’s little difference between the U.S., France, and Germany. But since more people work in America, and since they work so many more hours, Americans create more wealth. In effect, Americans trade their productivity for more money, while Europeans trade it for more leisure. Folk wisdom suggests that the reason for this difference is cultural, which, depending on your perspective, means either that Europeans are ambitionless café-dwellers or that Americans are Puritan grinds with no taste for the finer things in life. But, while culture undoubtedly matters, not that long ago it was the Europeans who worked harder; in 1970, for instance, the French worked ten per cent more hours than Americans.

So what changed? The Nobel Prize-winning economist Edward C. Prescott has pointed to sharp increases in Europe’s tax rates since 1970—higher taxes give workers less of an incentive to work extra hours. But taxes aren’t high enough to explain Europeans’ new taste for free time. A more plausible explanation was put forward recently by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote: European labor unions are far more powerful and European labor markets are far more tightly regulated than their American counterparts. In the seventies, Europe, like the U.S., was hit by high oil prices, high inflation, and slowing productivity. In response, labor unions fought for a reduced work week with no reduction in wages, and greater job protection. When it was hard to get wage increases, the unions pushed for more vacation time instead. Governments responded to political pressure by plumping for leisure, too; in France in the eighties, for instance, a succession of laws increased mandatory vacation time and limited employers’ ability to use overtime.

The difference in work habits between Europeans and Americans, in other words, isn’t a matter of European workers’ individually deciding they’d rather spend a few extra hours every week at the movies; it’s a case of collectively determined contracts and regulations. There is a good deal to be said for this approach—most Americans, after all, are happy that the forty-hour week is written into law—but it has its costs. Even if you want to work more, it’s hard to do so: try getting anything done in Paris during August. And reducing the amount of work employees do makes it more expensive to employ people, which contributes to Europe’s high unemployment rate.

The embrace of leisure affects the job situation in Europe in other ways, too. Because Americans spend more hours at the office than Europeans, they spend fewer hours on tasks in the home: things like cooking, cleaning, and child care. This is especially true of American women, who, according to a study by the economists Richard Freeman and Ronald Schettkat, spend ten fewer hours a week on household jobs than European women do. Instead of doing these jobs themselves, Americans pay other people to do them. For instance, Americans spend about the same percentage of their income stocking up on food at home as the French and the Germans do, but they spend roughly twice as much in restaurants as the French, and almost three times as much as the Germans. Not surprisingly, many more Americans than Europeans work in the restaurant business. The same is true of child care.

In the American model, then, you work more hours and use the money you make to pay for the things you can’t do because you’re working, and this creates a demand for service jobs that wouldn’t otherwise exist. In Europe, those jobs don’t exist in anything like the same numbers; employment in services in Europe is fifteen per cent below what it is in the U.S. Service jobs are precisely the jobs that young people and women (two categories of Europeans who are severely underemployed) find it easiest to get, the jobs that immigrants here thrive on but that are often not available to immigrants in France. There are many explanations for the estimated forty-per-cent unemployment rate in the banlieues that have been the site of recent riots, but part of the problem is that voluntary leisure for some Europeans has helped lead to involuntary leisure for others. The less work that gets done, the less work there is to do. Helping some people get off the labor treadmill can keep many people from ever getting on the treadmill at all.

— James Surowiecki

We Bailed

In lieu of suffering another humiliating defeat at the hands of some wankers from DePaul, and in light of our small turnout (Germanicu$ and sexy retard again being the sole contenders), Team [insert clever Simpsons reference here] declined to participate in pub quiz last night. I was feeling under the weather, and when we learned the first category would be quesitons regarding late British footballer George Best, we knew we were sunk. Trivially speaking, Best is the Johnny Cash of European sport - I'm sure there's plenty to know about him, but it is a giant dark spot in my trivia universe.

Maybe next week. Or is book club next week? Two birds with one stone: Maybe we can trash this lame Victor Davis Hanson book at the Globe Pub.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pub Quiz Time!

Tonights Categories

1) Best of the Best 11 points
2) In the Year 2525 10 points
3) Match- Quoteable Quotes 12 points
4) Bizarro World 16 points
5) Dead or Canadian- Astaire or Grant 10 points
6) Picture Round 15 points
7) General Knowledge 26 points

The Salvador Option

Classic. The sub-head of this Newsweek article is "The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq."

Here's my favorite part:

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

Let's put aside for a moment the horrific moral implications of this "new" policy approach, which will inevitably lead to the massacre of peaceful, politically active civilians. The fact is, the only thing death squads are successful at is terrorizing civil society, and galvanizing opposition. Salvadoran death squads did not succeed in "quelling" the insurgency--their methods, combined with radical economic injustice, were largely responsible for its rapid growth throughout the 80s. In 1989, after a solid decade of the "Salvadoran Option," the FMLN launched an offensive on the capital that shocked US advisors and Salvadoran elites, proved conclusively that the civil war had been fought to a stalemate, and showed that a military victory over the rebels was impossible. A negotiated settlement followed about one year later.

The fact that this administration is completely bereft of original ideas is not surprising, but even a Bush-hater like me is astounded that, after mining history for strategies to dig themselves out of this hole, the best they can come up with is an approach whose failure is not only glaring, unarguable, and cruel, but which failed within such recent memory as the 1980s.

Darwin is God

Ok, seriously, who is going to take the bull by it's evolved horns and tell these "Believers" God didn't form them in his likeness, they aren't special, Bush is Satan, and God is Iraqi? Holy fuck.

From today's "The Poor Man"

But he’s cutting and running resolutely!

Good news! We’re finally fucking leaving:

Brace yourself for a mind-bog of sheer cynicism. The discombobulation begins Wednesday, when President George W. Bush is expected to proclaim, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, that the Iraqi security forces—which only a few months ago were said to have just one battalion capable of fighting on its own—have suddenly made uncanny progress in combat readiness. Expect soon after (if not during the speech itself) the thing that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have, just this month, denounced as near-treason—a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.

And so it appears (assuming the forecasts about the speech are true) that the White House is as cynical about this war as its cynical critics have charged it with being. For several months now, many of these critics have predicted that, once the Iraqis passed their constitution and elected a new government, President Bush would declare his mission complete and begin to pull out—this, despite his public pledge to “stay the course” until the insurgents were defeated.

This theory explains Bush’s insistence that the Iraqis draft and ratify the constitution on schedule—even though the rush resulted in a seriously flawed document that’s more likely to fracture the country than to unite it. For if the pullout can get under way in the opening weeks of 2006, then the war might be nullified as an issue by the time of our own elections.

Politics is a cynical business. Clinton was always criticized (by the media) for doing whatever the polls dictated, and while people didn’t exactly love him for it, they sure liked him. Worst President Ever, of course, makes a great point of not caring about what the polls say - a posture that polls very well - but Texas isn’t big enough to hold the focus group-approved prop ranch it would take to overcome the reality of the situation in Iraq - a reality that has unimpeachable Hero of Democracy and Our Man In Baghdad (Who Isn’t Named Ahmed), Iyad Allawi, proclaiming the US to be a worse human rights abuser than Saddam, and the semi-democratically elected leaders of Iraq telling us to leave and declaring attacks on US soldiers “legitimate”. So the war is unpopular, the war is destroying our military, the people we came to liberate hate us, and so, and not a moment too soon, we are about to declare victory and leave. Yes, it is a cynical flip-flop. (Pity the jingos!) It’s also the right move, if overdue. Worst President Ever would do well to do a bit more following, because this whole “leading” thing isn’t really his strong suit.

This is relatively good news for the US, because it lets us begin our disentanglement from this obscenely costly and pointless war. The bed is still as shit-en as ever, of course, but perhaps this might air out the room a bit. I suspect it’s not especially good for Iraqis, particularly Sunni Iraqis, who will now be subject to the tender mercies of American bomb strikes controlled by Shiite and Kurdish troops. But it is really, really, really unreservedly excellent news if you are a hard-line Iranian ayatollah, because now that the Great Satan and Saddam have knocked each other out, the Revolution can finally spread westward to the oil fields of Iraq. And that’ll buy a whole bunch of Pakistani nuclear scientists.

October recruiting numbers

The military met or exceeded nearly all of its recruiting goals for the month of October. See the breakdown here. In addition, retention rates of current military are still historically high.

I'm guessing tomorrow's New York Times won't have a banner headline above the fold announcing this. It would contradict the story line that the war is becoming more unpopular and unsustainable. Can't have that.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bunch of Commies!

Nobody wants to work for this guy!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

American Style Democracy at Work!

Ex-PM: Abuse as bad as Saddam era

LONDON, England -- Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein if not worse, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has said.

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam's time and worse," Allawi said in an interview published in Britain on Sunday.

"It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told The Observer newspaper. "People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things."

Allawi's comments come as Hussein's trial is set to resume Monday in Baghdad. Hussein's lawyers are expected to seek another delay in the proceedings. (Full story)

The remarks also follow the discovery of an Iraqi government facility holding 170 prisoners, including some showing signs of torture. (Full story)

"We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi, who was Iraq's first prime minister of the post-Saddam Hussein era.

Allawi, a secular Shiite and former Baathist, is standing in parliamentary elections scheduled for December 15. He failed to win January's election, which brought current Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, an Islamist Shiite, to power.

"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations," Allawi said. "We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.

"The Ministry of the Interior is at the heart of the matter," Allawi said. "I am not blaming the minister himself, but the rank and file are behind the secret dungeons and some of the executions that are taking place."

Allawi warned that if no action was taken, "the disease infecting (the ministry) will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government."

In a news conference this month, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr defended the prison facility, saying it held "the most criminal terrorists" and that "nobody was beheaded or killed."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Are we really losing???

An interesting article by Max Boot in the LA times. I think I believe the people who are there more than anybody else. Here is the text:

Iraq's a lost cause? Ask the real experts
WHEN IT COMES to the future of Iraq, there is a deep disconnect between those who have firsthand knowledge of the situation — Iraqis and U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq — and those whose impressions are shaped by doomsday press coverage and the imperatives of domestic politics.

A large majority of the American public is convinced that the liberation of Iraq was a mistake, while a smaller but growing number thinks that we are losing and that we need to pull out soon. Those sentiments are echoed by finger-in-the-wind politicians, including many — such as John Kerry, Harry Reid, John Edwards, John Murtha and Bill Clinton — who supported the invasion.

Yet in a survey last month from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, 47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.

American soldiers are also much more optimistic than American civilians. The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations just released a survey of American elites that found that 64% of military officers are confident that we will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The comparable figures for journalists and academics are 33% and 27%, respectively. Even more impressive than the Pew poll is the evidence of how our service members are voting with their feet. Although both the Army and the Marine Corps are having trouble attracting fresh recruits — no surprise, given the state of public opinion regarding Iraq — reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations. Veterans are expressing their confidence in the war effort by signing up to continue fighting.

Now, it could be that the Iraqi public and the U.S. armed forces are delusional. Maybe things really are on an irreversible downward slope. But before reaching such an apocalyptic conclusion, stop to consider why so many with firsthand experience have more hope than those without any.

FOR STARTERS, one can point to two successful elections this year, on Jan. 30 and Oct. 15, in which the majority of Iraqis braved insurgent threats to vote. The constitutional referendum in October was particularly significant because it marked the first wholesale engagement of Sunnis in the political process. Since then, Sunni political parties have made clear their determination to also participate in the Dec. 15 parliamentary election. This is big news. The most disaffected group in Iraq is starting to realize that it must achieve its objectives through ballots, not bullets.

There are also positive economic indicators that receive little or no coverage in the Western media. For all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy, the Brookings Institution reports that per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war. Thanks primarily to the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% next year. According to Brookings' Iraq index, there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five times more telephone subscribers and 32 times more Internet users.

The growth of the independent media — a prerequisite of liberal democracy — is even more inspiring. Before 2003 there was not a single independent media outlet in Iraq. Today, Brookings reports, there are 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations and more than 100 newspapers.

But aren't bombs still going off at an alarming rate? Of course. It's almost impossible to stop a few thousand fanatics who are willing to commit suicide to slaughter others.

Yet there is hope on the security front. Since the Jan. 30 election, not a single Iraqi unit has crumbled in battle, according to Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who until September was in charge of their training. Iraqi soldiers are showing impressive determination in fighting the terrorists, notwithstanding the terrible casualties they have taken. Their increasing success is evident on "Route Irish," from Baghdad International Airport. Once the most dangerous road in Iraq, it is now one of the safest. The last coalition fatality there that was a result of enemy action occurred in March.

This is not meant to suggest that everything is wonderful in Iraq. The situation remains grim in many respects. But the most disheartening indicator of all is simply the American public's loss of confidence in the war effort. Abu Musab Zarqawi may be losing on the Arab street (his own family has disowned him), but he's winning on Main Street. And, as the Vietnam War showed, defeatism on the home front can become self-fulfilling.

And the winner is...

....some other team! Sexy Retard and I made it to Pub Quiz last night and got waxed. A distant seventh, if memory serves. The topics were once again rigged in favor of Johnny Cash fanatics. SexyRetard and I made several "educated guesses," but we didn't stand a chance. Maybe it's because we strayed from the formula: instead of choosing a Simpsons-inspired name, we went for MAXIMUM OFFENCE, which struck us as funny AND true.

Just like Jesus.

We came up with the perfect team name halfway through, and we should consider it for future teams: Biggus Dickus. I suppose this might not be very funny to someone who hasn't seen the Monty Python movie LIFE OF BRIAN, but it would certainly get our opponents' attention.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

They Hate Us Because of Our Freedoms

Madness of war memo
By Kevin Maguire And Andy Lines

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.

A source said last night: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush.

"He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

"There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do - and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."

A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious".

But another source declared: "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men."

Yesterday former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the two leaders' conversation. He said: "It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions.

"I hope the Prime Minister insists this memo be published. It gives an insight into the mindset of those who were the architects of war."

Bush disclosed his plan to target al-Jazeera, a civilian station with a huge Mid-East following, at a White House face-to-face with Mr Blair on April 16 last year.

At the time, the US was launching an all-out assault on insurgents in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

Al-Jazeera infuriated Washington and London by reporting from behind rebel lines and broadcasting pictures of dead soldiers, private contractors and Iraqi victims.

The station, watched by millions, has also been used by bin Laden and al-Qaeda to broadcast atrocities and to threaten the West.

Al-Jazeera's HQ is in the business district of Qatar's capital, Doha.

Its single-storey buildings would have made an easy target for bombers. As it is sited away from residential areas, and more than 10 miles from the US's desert base in Qatar, there would have been no danger of "collateral damage".

Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists.

To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors.

In 2001 the station's Kabul office was knocked out by two "smart" bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad centre.

The memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP Tony Clarke.

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh, 49, is accused under the Official Secrets Act of passing it to Leo O'Connor, 42, who used to work for Mr Clarke. Both are bailed to appear at Bow Street court next week.

Mr Clarke, who lost at the election, returned the memo to No 10.

He said Mr O'Connor had behaved "perfectly correctly".

Neither Mr O'Connor or Mr Keogh were available. No 10 did not comment.

Monday, November 21, 2005

That wacky speculating Marx!

"English stocks... are springing up like mushrooms this year... forced up to a quite unreasonable level and then, for most part, collapse. In this way, I have made over 400 pounds... [Speculating] makes small demands on one's time, and it's worthwhile running some risk in order to relieve the enemy of his money."

- Karl Marx (German Social Philosopher and Revolutionary, 1818-1883, in an 1864 letter to his uncle)

Gen. George Casey: Treacherous, Traitorous, Treasonable Traitor

Defining Our Terms

In our discussion of the CPB, S-tard had suggested that the number of times the descriptor "far-right" had been used on a talk show might be a good indicator of its bias; I dissented, saying that if the far left were in power, we might hear that term mentioned much more often. I was obviously suggesting that the far-right is currently in power, and S-tard took me to task:

""OK, then, define for me "far right" and then define for me "just conservative, but not far right," so we can evaluate that claim."

This would be a good--maybe necessary--project for the KKRB to embark on. In politics, most people assiduously avoid self-identifying as "extremists," or even far-left or far-right. Many conservatives claim that "far-right" can only be apt when applied to a variety of militant fascist groups, with no intellectual influence on mainstream conservatism (in other words, not Rick Santorum). As a liberal, I associate "far-left" with the likes of the Bader-Meinhoff gang, bizarre maoist groups, or the occasional unreconstructed stalinists who try to infiltrate unions or student organizations (that is, not Hillary Clinton).

Can we, as a group, create a mutually acceptable standard for categorizing mainstream political tendencies? The hurling of epithets will continue because it's politically expedient to use them, but inside our group, wouldn't such a system be a valuable tool for making our discussions clearer and more meaningful?


The Holy Roman Empire was formally dissolved in 1806! Oh happy day! Is there anything so satisfying in a game of Trivial Pursuit as flaunting your superior knowledge of European history in the face of a European challenger (or, in this case, team mate)? No, I don't think there is.

The War Today

I think this article by Ralph Peters is a pretty good summary of where we stand today in the war (for those of you who really believe we are at war).

I am not quite as cynical about the motives as Peters, but I think he is dead on about the impact of the current debate and the potential consequences.

Update: Per request, here is the text of the entire article.

November 21, 2005 -- QUIT. It's that simple. There are plenty of more complex ways to lose a war, but none as reliable as just giving up.
Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.

Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq — and the region — if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.

Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game.

Forget that our combat veterans are re-enlisting at remarkable rates — knowing they'll have to leave their families and go back to war again. Ignore the progress on the ground, the squeezing of the insurgency's last strongholds into the badlands on the Syrian border. Blow off the successive Iraqi elections and the astonishing cooperation we've seen between age-old enemies as they struggle to form a decent government.

Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies — that's what Americans do.

While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.

Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment — and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points. After all, those dead American soldiers and Marines don't matter — they didn't go to Ivy League schools. (Besides, most would've voted Republican had they lived.)

America's security? Hah! As long as the upcoming elections show Democratic gains, let the terrorist threat explode. So what if hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners might die in a regional war? So what if violent fundamentalism gets a shot of steroids? So what if we make Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the most successful Arab of the past 500 years?

For God's sake, don't talk about democracy in the Middle East. After all, democracy wasn't much fun for the Dems in 2000 or 2004. Why support it overseas, when it's been so disappointing at home?

Human rights? Oh, dear. Human rights are for rich white people who live in Malibu. Unless you can use the issue to whack Republicans. Otherwise, brown, black or yellow people can die by the millions. Dean, Reid & Pelosi, LLC, won't say, "Boo!"

You've got to understand, my fellow citizens: None of this matters. And you don't matter, either. All that matters is scoring political points. Let the world burn. Let the massacres run on. Let the terrorists acquire WMD. Just give the Bush administration a big black eye and we'll call that a win.

The irresponsibility of the Democrats on Capitol Hill is breathtaking. (How can an honorable man such as Joe Lieberman stay in that party?) Not one of the critics of our efforts in Iraq — not one — has described his or her vision for Iraq and the Middle East in the wake of a troop withdrawal. Not one has offered any analysis of what the terrorists would gain and what they might do. Not one has shown respect for our war dead by arguing that we must put aside our partisan differences and win.

There's plenty I don't like about the Bush administration. Its domestic policies disgust me, and the Bushies got plenty wrong in Iraq. But at least they'll fight. The Dems are ready to betray our troops, our allies and our country's future security for a few House seats.

Surrender is never a winning strategy.

Yes, we've been told lies about Iraq — by Dems and their media groupies. About conditions on the ground. About our troops. About what's at stake. About the consequences of running away from the great struggle of our time. About the continuing threat from terrorism. And about the consequences for you and your family.

What do the Democrats fear? An American success in Iraq. They need us to fail, and they're going to make us fail, no matter the cost. They need to declare defeat before the 2006 mid-term elections and ensure a real debacle before 2008 — a bloody mess they'll blame on Bush, even though they made it themselves.

We won't even talk about the effect quitting while we're winning in Iraq might have on the go-to-war calculations of other powers that might want to challenge us in the future. Let's just be good Democrats and prove that Osama bin Laden was right all along: Americans have no stomach for a fight.

As for the 2,000-plus dead American troops about whom the lefties are so awfully concerned? As soon as we abandon Iraq, they'll forget about our casualties quicker than an amnesiac forgets how much small-change he had in his pocket.

If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.

And they won't all be conservatives.

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It's time for another...

Deep Thoughts by Alan Keyes

I would want to renounce the idea that we have the right to interfere, in an aggressive way, with the affairs of other [nations]. I think we can play a constructive role in trying to bring about diplomatic solutions in different parts of the world, but I do not believe that when our ideas are rejected, we should resort to war in order to force people to accept a deal that's dictated on our terms.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Final thought on the Chickenhawk thread :

Thursday, November 17, 2005

For our next reading selection...

...can't we all just get along?

I guess the 9/11 report lied also

Despite the belief that the war in Iraq was about oil, the reality is much more complex. One of the issues was the links between Iraq and Al Qaeda (but not 9/11 directly). Byron York has an interesting post.

"So I started hacking away at my tackle."

Why I cut my tackle: rugby fan

November 15, 2005
A RUGBY fan who cut out his testicles with wire cutters to mark a Wales victory is at a loss to explain why he did it. Geoffrey Huish, 31, performed the impromptu self-surgery in February when his beloved Wales beat world champion England.
After performing the deed, Mr Huish put his severed anatomy in a bag and took them to his local social club to show fellow fans.
He collapsed with blood loss and was rushed to hospital but surgeons could not reattach his missing parts.He was put in a psychiatric ward but has no history of mental illness and was at a loss to explain why he did it. "I'd told my pal Gethin Probert before the game that Wales didn't stand a chance," Mr Huish said.

"It wasn't a bet but I said I'd cut my balls off if we won.
"I listened to the game on the radio at home by myself.
"After the match I got up for a pee and saw the cutters in the bathroom.
"Gethin had left them after repairing the chain on my toilet.
"I remembered what I'd said and thought he had left them for me.
"I thought 'Oh no, I haven't got to do anything like that have I' and then I thought 'You can do it'.
"So I started hacking away at my tackle.
"It took about 10 minutes and there was quite a bit of pain but I just kept going.
"The cutters were blunt so I had to keep snipping."
After picking his testicles from the toilet bowl, he went to the social club.
"I went in and shouted out 'I've done it!'," Mr Huish said.
"I took my balls out and passed them in the bag to a friend.
"Some people then laid me on the floor."
Mr Huish continues to see a psychiatrist.
"I think about what happened every day and still haven't come up with a good reason why," he said.
"I'd had a lot going on and felt a bit down.
"I can't have kids now but still want a family - maybe I'll adopt."

If this is your average sports fan, maybe this guy has a point after all.

First, Brazil had no sense of humor about The Simpsons

Now Kazakhstan has a bug up its butt about faux-Kazakh Borat.
full story

Still my favorite national indignation had to be when Quebec called Triumph the Insult comic dog "racist"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Illogical Chickenhawk Argument

One of the favorite arguments of people debating someone who supports the war in Iraq is to ask with all sincerity, "If you believe in the war so much, why don't you join the army." This is a completely vacuous and illogical argument.

As citizens, we pay taxes to support the government to do many things we as individuals can’t do ourselves, such as protect the country, fund schools, clean up after disasters, keep farm prices artificially high, or subsidize left wing propaganda in the name of balance (think PBS).

To follow the logic of the chickenhawk argument, I want to know why everyone who thinks FEMA should help the people of New Orleans hasn’t quit there job and gone to New Orleans to build houses? Why haven’t everyone who wants better education flocked to the nearest inner city school to read to the children? If you believe in farm subsidies, why aren’t you on your hands and knees in a cornfield in Nebraska pulling weeds?

The answer, you pay taxes so the government can provide for the common good. An individual does not have to be willing to quit a job and change their lives to make their support of any particular policy valid.


I've had enough overheated rhetoric for one day. Now lets all pet the cyber-doe. Awwwww!

More Lies Exposed

This one is for HurtLeg, enjoy.

Sorry, looks like the link isn't working. I'm still rusty with the blogging, here is the article I was referring to.

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 16, 2005; A01

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. "The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force," Lautenberg said.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the document. She said that the courts have upheld "the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality."

The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.

Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. "We met in the Executive Office Building, if I remember correctly," he said.

A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the chief executive, James J. Mulva, had been unaware that Conoco officials met with task force staff when he testified at the hearing. The spokesman said that Mulva was chief executive of Phillips in 2001 before the merger and that nobody from Phillips met with the task force.

Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive Lee R. Raymond's statement in the hearing. In a brief phone interview, former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the White House document, denied the meeting took place. "That must be inaccurate and I don't have any comment beyond that," said Rouse, now retired.

Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but they often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives did not meet with the task force but confirmed that it sent President Bush recommendations in a letter.

The person familiar with the task force's work, who requested anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force's executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.

According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff members on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, they met with Archie Dunham, who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document, task force staff members met with Conoco official Huffman and two officials from the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and Alby Modiano.

On April 17, task force staff members met with Royal Dutch/Shell Group's chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven Miller and two others. On March 22, staff members met with BP regional president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies and company employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives: "Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001?" When there was no response, Lautenberg added: "The meeting . . . "

"No," said Raymond.

"No," said Chevron Chairman David J. O'Reilly.

"We did not, no," Mulva said.

"To be honest, I don't know," said BP America chief executive Ross Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. "I wasn't here then."

"But your company was here," Lautenberg replied.

"Yes," Pillari said.

Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since earlier this year, answered last. "Not to my knowledge," he said.

Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

National Security, National Interest

I had to wipe away a tear when I read on about how 40 Shia Turkomans marked the end of Ramadan by praying at a shrine previously forbidden to them by Saddam. Good for them! If it wasn't for our invasion, they'd be praying at home or in a parking lot or something.

iraqthemodel didn't do much for me - it's kinda confusing - but reading that The Rat Of Clubs is dead made me feel that justice is being served against the monstrous Saddam regime.

The "optimism" mkchicago cites and would presumably like us to share is a little harder to muster when reading iraqnow, which instills pessimism off the bat with their tagline: "All your bias are belong to us." [sic]. I'm not sure how railing against editorials is part of the "good news" coming out of Iraq, but I agree with the blog's author when he says about Iraqi villagers complaining about being burned alive by white phosphorous used by US troops: "Don't like it? Don't be an enemy combatant. Or even let them operate in your neighborhood." Damn straight! They should post little "NO ENEMY COMBATANTS, PLEASE" signs in their windows, or install anti-terrorist bumps in their roads (like speed bumps, but explosive). If they don't, that's their own damn fault.

So despite a few moments of skepticism, I was ready to come around to the idea that things are going great. Then I happened upon this. Yaaah! Shrine prayings, dead Baathists, and screeds against lazy Iraqi civilians - these things are all good things, and I could even be persuaded that they marginally increase our national security, and are in our national interest. But at such a price?

At what point does the cost benefit analysis kick in for supporters of this war? Is there any dollar amount that would make the shrine praying benefits of our invasion seem a little... expensive?

Where's the good news on Iraq?

I believe some variation on this question was asked at yesterday's meeting. Let me suggest the following resources :
iraqnow : They did a nice partial Fisk of the NYT op-ed that IowaHerbman posted yesterday. I linked to it on the comments to that post.
The aptly named goodnewsfromthefront
There are dozens more. Just follow the links on these sites. If you do, you will notice that they do not shy away from talking about explosions, ethnic conflicts and day to day difficulties of living in Iraq. However, I think you will also find (at least based on my brief review) a generally optimistic tone.

Speaking of PBS...

"The CPB board announced it would establish a series of new guidelines to provide more accountability. " And all it took was a right-wing ideologue handing out airtime to his neocon cronies. Funny, I thought it was the conservatives who put such a premium on accountability.

Report Finds Tomlinson Broke Law Involving PBS
November 16, 2005; Page A6

WASHINGTON -- The former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting violated federal law and internal ethical guidelines by improperly interfering with programming to include more shows featuring conservatives and by using "political tests" in hiring decisions, according to CPB's inspector general.

The review said former CPB Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson threatened to withhold funds from the Public Broadcasting Service unless it provided more balanced programming by running more shows that featured conservatives. Investigators in the inspector general's office also said they had found evidence suggesting Mr. Tomlinson "violated his fiduciary responsibilities" in programming decisions, singling out his activities leading to the creation of "The Journal Editorial Report," a current-events program featuring members of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Tomlinson resigned this month after the CPB board received a closed-door briefing on the report, which was released yesterday.... In a written response to the report, Mr. Tomlinson said he was "disappointed, but not surprised" by the report, and said all his actions were open, lawful and only taken after consultation with CPB's general counsel and board. He said any suggestion that he had violated his fiduciary duties or federal law "is malicious and irresponsible."

[Actually, Ken, a 67-page report from the Inspector General is more than just a "suggestion." You're busted, you're out, quit whining.]

Congress created CPB in 1967 to dole out federal money to local, noncommercial television and radio stations. CPB, which distributes federal funds to PBS to develop TV programming, was meant to be nonpartisan, protecting public broadcasting from political influences. Mr. Tomlinson broke those rules, CPB investigators concluded, by introducing politics to both hiring and programming decisions.

[hear that, Ken? "CONCLUDED." Not "suggested."]

In the review, investigators pointed to Mr. Tomlinson's encouragement of PBS to create "The Journal Editorial Report" in 2002, which was designed to provide some counterbalance to PBS's then-Friday-night lineup, which was anchored by "NOW with Bill Moyers," a news program some viewers considered liberal-leaning.

Mr. Tomlinson pressed PBS to add the show, investigators said, even though he "had been dealing directly" with Paul Gigot, editor of the Journal's editorial page and a former PBS commentator, and "advised him about strategies for getting his own show." Mr. Tomlinson's suggestions on "The Journal Editorial Report" format, which included longer-form segments featuring remote reporting, led to a $4.1 million price tag for the first season, which was picked up entirely by CPB, the report said. CPB staff questioned the show's high costs, which were out of scale with other shows, the report said.

CPB distributes federal money to fund original radio and TV programming, but it is designed to be separated from all decisions about content. Recipients of funding, such as PBS, make such decisions, and may initiate talks to create programs.


Dow Jones said it has decided not to produce a third season of the editorial report and informed PBS of its decision two weeks ago, "entirely independent of the inspector general's report, which we are seeing for the first time today."...the final program will be broadcast the weekend of Dec. 2.

[Bummer, actually - I just caught an episode the other day on WYCC and rather enjoyed it. They went around the table and asked whether the panelists thought a particular news item was "tony" or "tacky", playing off their Weekend Journal column of the same name. Their choice of news items, not to mention their evaluation of where it fit on the tony/tacky scale, has always mystified and entertained me, and I was looking forward to seeing Paul Gigot and Ann Coulter clear it up.]

The CPB board announced it would establish a series of new guidelines to provide more accountability. Ms. Harrison said in a statement that the changes would be "good news for the long-term health and well-being of public broadcasting."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Britian's Retreat

What does this guy think? HMMM, anyway, thought this would be rather apropos after tonight's discussion. When will the US return? Support the troops, bring 'em home right MK? Or will we continue our zionist aggression?

Troops may start to leave Iraq in May

Ewen MacAskill, Richard Norton-Taylor and Julian Borger
Wednesday November 16, 2005
The Guardian

The government is aiming to begin a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq as early as the middle of next year, the Guardian has learned. Work on an exit strategy is at an advanced stage and there will be a significant change of approach by the government after the Iraq election on December 15.

With the first proper election in Iraq completed, Tony Blair and George Bush will be able to claim they have introduced democracy, making it easier for ministers and officials to begin talking openly about withdrawal.

Instead of the government mantra about "staying until asked by the Iraqis to leave", ministers and officials will make it clear that Britain is determined to leave next year if the insurgency allows. Initial discussions between the British and Iraqi governments about a timetable have already taken place. Full negotiations are scheduled to start as soon as possible after a new Iraqi government is formed.

A joint statement from the Iraqi and British governments is to be published, setting out plans for handover of responsibility to the Iraqi army. Britain has about 8,500 soldiers in Iraq. The British intention is to have a phased withdrawal, province by province, with Maysan, north of Basra, likely to be first. The British government insists it will not go without the US. Although US forces are under daily attack, there are parts of its sector quiet enough to allow for handovers too.

British military commanders and defence officials confirmed yesterday that a significant number of troops could be withdrawn from Iraq next spring. They point to May when a new British brigade is due to replace the one which recently took over control of south-eastern Iraq.

Next May is also the month when around 4,000 British troops will be deployed to Afghanistan to take over the international peacekeeping force and replace US troops in the hostile south of the country.

Though military chiefs have told John Reid, the defence secretary, that Britain's Afghan commitment does not depend on a rundown of British troops in Iraq, there is no doubt the beginning of a withdrawal would help the overstretched army.

Mr Blair discussed the exit strategy on Monday with Adel Adbul Mahdi, the Iraqi vice-president who is likely to become prime minister after the election.

A British official said 3,000 could be withdrawn from Iraq without affecting the operational efficiency of the force.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, said at the weekend that all British troops could be out by the end of next year. Mr Reid was more cautious, suggesting that withdrawal could begin "by the end of next year".

Defence officials say the exit plan is based on extremely complex mix of political and security judgments. "There will be a balance between an operational risk and a political risk," one said. Political pressure might lead to a quick rundown which could compromise the safety of both Iraqi forces and the remaining British troops, officials say.

But British defence officials are also deeply concerned about the danger of a "dependency culture" developing in Iraq. "Only by pushing the case will you get real reform [of the Iraqi security forces]. And they may then stand on their own two feet. It is a complex judgment," said an official.

Impatience with the war also took new political shape in the US, where the Senate demanded that the Bush administration come up with a clearer strategy for ending the occupation. Senate Republicans rejected a Democratic call for a timetable for withdrawal, but passed a bill of their own that requires the White House to deliver comprehensive quarterly reports to Congress on progress towards US disengagement, and calls for Iraqi forces to take the lead in fighting the insurgency by next year.

A poll by Gallup, CNN and USA Today yesterday found that six in 10 Americans now think "it was not worth going to war in Iraq".

Indo Jew Bowl VI

I wish I could take credit for the post title, but it is actually
a real event . Ya gotta love diversity Chicago (Skokie) style.
The official web site

Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials

November 15, 2005

To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.
Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.
It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.

Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.
Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.
It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.
The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise.
The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to Prague by Mohamed Atta, a report that was disputed before the war and came from an unreliable drunk. The other was that Iraq trained Qaeda members in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Before the war, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that this was a deliberate fabrication by an informer.
Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence. That is true only in the very narrow way the Republicans on the committee insisted on defining pressure: as direct pressure from senior officials to change intelligence. Instead, the Bush administration made what it wanted to hear crystal clear and kept sending reports back to be redone until it got those answers.
Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A. ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years at the agency.
Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Prague meeting as a fact when even the most supportive analysts considered it highly dubious. The administration has still not acknowledged that tales of Iraq coaching Al Qaeda on chemical warfare were considered false, even at the time they were circulated.
Mr. Cheney was not alone. Remember Condoleezza Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" comment? And Secretary of State Colin Powell in January 2003, when the rich and powerful met in Davos, Switzerland, and he said, "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?" Mr. Powell ought to have known the report on "special equipment"' - the aluminum tubes - was false. And the uranium story was four years old.

The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.
Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Quantum Leap Bomber

I don't know what's more disturbing: The latest terrorist attack in Jordan or the fact that the 35 year old woman whose bomb failed to go off bears a resembelance to middle aged Dean Stockwell in drag. Speaking of drag, she also looks a lot like that guy from Dragnet.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Where is PBS????

I think the government subsidized PBS TV network should pick up Arrested Development. This would head off the mass suicides of “the greatest tragedy to befall mankind, ever.” I think this is the least the American taxpayer could do.

Where else do highly acclaimed shows the 12 people watch get broadcast?

RIP Arrested Development


Apparently FOX in its infinite wisdom has seen fit to cancel one of the best shows on TV Arrested Development
I can honestly say without any fear of exaggeration that this is the greatest tragedy to befall mankind, ever.

On the bright side Fox still has at least one show that appeals to fans of smart comedies.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

December Book Suggestions

For aesthetic reasons of not wanting to clutter the home page, I set up a second page (see the permanent link on the right of this page) for all our suggestions. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pub quiz 2 nite

the categories are:
1) Today in History 11 points
2) Aztecs 10 pts
3) DOUBLE Match- Canadian Provinces and Flags 26 pts
4) Bizarro World 16 points
5) Dead or Canadian- Halen or Hagar? 10 points
6) Picture Round 16 points
7) General Knowledge 22 points

For those who wish to study:
1)today in history 1
,today in history 2
3)canuck flags
5)van hagar

UPDATE: The Inanimate Carbon Rods placed second

Friday, November 04, 2005

Spontaneous Pop Quiz #1

What is this? I'm looking for a proper name, not a general description. First correct answer wins ... well, nothing really. (Amusing, clueless guessing is highly encouraged.)

After falling to 7th place at pub quiz I think that the Stupid Sexy Hells Satans Mit Iodine need a little sharpening up.

ANSWER: Floyd of Rosedale which is awarded anually to the winner of the IOWA/MINNESOTA football game.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forget Dirty Bombs

Apparantly Al Qaeda can take us down with raccoon crap

Islip's controllers, finding work areas fouled, guide airport's jets from the ground using emergency plan

November 2, 2005 A marauding animal - most likely a raccoon - left feces on crucial equipment in the control tower of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip early yesterday, forcing air traffic controllers to guide planes from the ground in an emergency procedure that hasn't been used in decades.The airport remained open and there were no delays. But controllers spent 2 1/2 hours landing planes and clearing them for takeoff with only a partial view of the runway, using battery-powered backup communication devices. At 6 a.m., a controller who was opening the tower for the morning discovered animal feces on the handset, keyboard and monitor of his position, said Jim Wecht, the union representative for controllers at the tower, which closes at midnight."
"The coffee pot was overturned; there was garbage all over the place," he said.

Shortly after 7 a.m., Wecht made the decision to close the tower until it could be properly cleaned. The controllers headed to the firehouse and followed emergency procedures for guiding aircraft.

"We could only see 20 percent of the field," Wecht said, "but it was better than closing the airport." One controller remained in the tower until the others could get situated in the firehouse.

By 9:34 a.m., maintenance crews from the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration had cleaned up the tower and the staff returned.

Animal control crews from the Town of Islip came in yesterday afternoon and set three traps, hoping to catch the animal overnight. The tower is owned by the town and leased by the FAA.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said it appears the animal got in through a shaft that carries cables from the ground to the tower cab just above the sixth floor.

Controllers said they noticed problems in the building, which is separate from the airport terminal, on Sunday, when debris was found in the fourth-floor break room where a window had been left open because of problems with the heating system.

"We thought it was a bird," said one controller who works in the tower. On Monday, it appeared an animal had gotten into a box of condiments including ketchup packages in the break room. But it was yesterday morning's find of feces that forced the controllers to decide to abandon the tower. Wecht said the procedure hadn't been used in more than 30 years.

Wecht said the union has complained about the condition of the tower, which was built in 1962, for years.

"We had buckets on the floor during the recent rains," he said.

Meanwhile, he was hopeful the perpetrator of the vandalism would be in a trap by this morning. "We leave at midnight," he said. "They'll catch him when no one's around.",0,3044650.story?coll=ny-top-headlines&track=mostemailedlink

Political Flamewar Photoshop

Photoshop a political flamewar: Use only Magic The Gathering cards.
More great entries at: Shamelesly stolen from:

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


From Today's Counterpunch, where Alex and Jeff have a few choice words for the Dems:

November 2, 2005

Not as Crazy as Scalia, But Just as Bad
Holy Alito!

Let's hear it for Protestant fundamentalists (American variety) yet again. Was there ever a more pragmatic bunch? After centuries of howling No Popery and denouncing the Whore of Rome, they're now trying to give us a US Supreme Court that will, in the probable event of Alito's confirmation, boast no fewer than five Roman Catholics, a clear majority: in order of arrival on the bench: Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts and, most likely, Alito.

You can see why the conservative Christians don't trust Protestants when it comes to matters of Choice or any of their other cherished issues. The two Protestants on the Supreme Court are the Justices they hate most: a liberal Republican, John Paul Stevens and a libertarian, David Souter.

So Alito comes to us more or less from the same mold as Roberts: a tightly-wound Catholic in his mid-fifties, educated at an Ivy League school, seasoned in the Reagan Justice Department, specifically in the office of the Solicitor General, meaning that both Roberts and Alito were part of the core legal team pressing Reagan's counter-revolution against civil rights laws. They both ended up on the federal appeals court.

One difference is that after his stint in the Solicitor General's office, Alito had sufficiently impressed the Reaganites to get appointed US Attorney for New Jersey, where he sharpened his claws as a federal prosecutor.

There's been sedate talk in the mainstream press about Alito's legal caution, his sense of fairness, his steady temperament, his understated humor, his respect for the law as the executive instrument of fairness in American society. How anyone can come to this bizarre conclusion passes our understanding. Alito's record, from inside the prosecutor's office, his justice department briefs and in his judicial opinions, displays a rancid right-winger whose views fume with prejudice against the weak and the poor.

Some samples of the "even-handed", "legally cautious" Alito:

In 1986, Alito helped write a opinion that employers could legally fire AIDS victims because of a "fear of contagion, whether reasonable or not." Alito honed a new edge to the notion of strict constructionism by arguing that the employers were justified in so doing because discrimination based on insufficient medical knowledge was not prohibited by federal laws protecting the disabled.

In other words, irrational popular hysteria (that for example you could get AIDS from touching a door knob also touched by an AIDS victim) was in Alito's view an entirely sound basis for breaching legal protections. Years later Alito was still defending this position, saying that the tide of science may have subverted the hysteria but nonetheless it hadn't shaken "our belief in the rightness of our opinion".

Somewhat in the same vein, in 2001 Alito wrote a majority Appeals court opinion striking down a public school policy prohibiting harassment against gay students. Alito bluffly tore down the policy, saying it interfered with the First Amendment rights of other students to engage in "simple acts of teasing and name calling".

In 2003, when Alito was serving on what the Washington Post bizarrely describes as "the left-leaning" Third Circuit, he actually managed to outflank Judge Michael Chertoff from the right. Chertoff, (now director of Homeland Security and noted defender of torture and of holding so-called enemy combatants, without access to attorneys or judicial review) wrote a majority opinion in Doe v. Groody ruling that a search warrant should be confined only to the person named on that warrant.

Alito brushed such pettifogging notions aside, arguing for the minority opinion that the cops (in this case in Schuykill county, PA) would be severely hampered if they had to interpret any search warrant in its written terms, rather than having the power to infer that such warrants gave police the power to search anyone else with the misfortune to be in the vicinity. In the case under consideration, the Schuykill police had strip-searched not only the suspect but also a mother and her 10-year-old daughter who lived in the same house.

Also in 2003 Alito wrote a majority opinion approving the conditions for probation laid down by the state of Delaware on a man who had pled guilty to possession of child pornography, said conditions being his agreement to undergo random polygraph tests.

It's a prime function of the so-called "left-leaning" Third Circuit to attend to the interests of big business, massed in its Delaware corporate enclave. Here Alito joined Roberts in his deference to the Money Power, slashing away at the ability of stockholders to launch class action suits, or employees to litigate against racist treatment.

In all, Judge Alito has issued 700 opinions, most of them on business/labor issues. All of these have been, in the opinion of the US Chamber of Commerce, home runs for the Business Team.

In 2001 Alito wrote a majority opinion striking down an EPA order mandating that the W.R.Grace Company clean up drinking water that its fertilizer plant had poisoned in Lansing, Michigan. Alito said the EPA lacked a rational basis for imposing such a costly burden on the company.

In a 1997 Appeals Court dissent Alito argued that a black housekeeping manager from Marriott, who claimed she'd been passed over for promotion for racial reasons, had no standing. To allow her to sue, Alito, wrote, was to allow " disgruntled employees to impose the cost of trial on employers who, although they have not acted with the intent to discriminate, may have treated their employees unfairly."

There's no doubt that Alito is vehemently opposed to any woman's right to choose. As his 90-year old mother Rose snapped at reporters the day Bush nominated him, "Of course he's against abortion.

Alito's 1991 Appeals Court minority opinion on abortion has been widely publicized, and rightly so. The issue before the Appeals Court was the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania law saying that a woman had to inform her spouse of an impending abortion.

The actual case concerned a woman terrified that her abusive partner would beat her up if she so informed him. Alito's arguments were rejected by US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who staked out her own ground with a tart dismissal: "The state may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children."

Liberals now girding themselves for a showdown over the nomination have an inconvenient skeleton to deal with. When New Jersey's two Democratic senators -- Bradley and Lautenberg -- glowingly ("an accomplished and distinguished lawyer") presented Alito to their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary committee in April 1990, the room hummed with good vibrations.

Kennedy warmly praised President George H.W. Bush's nominee, and said he was "sure" Alito would be a successful judge. Though they had his record in the Solicitor General's office and as US Attorney before them the committee only asked Alito four questions, before voting to confirm. One of these piercing interrogatories went to Alito's 4-year old son, coyly (this was Kennedy) asking whether the lad thought his father was judicial timber.

The Democrats claim they're going to battle Alito down to the wire, but the recent Roberts nomination casts a shadow over this pledge. Senator Leahy of Vermont, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, voted for Roberts and so did that hero of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Feingold of Wisconsin.

So if any effective undermining of Alito's nomination is to take place, it will probably come from Republican moderates, the political grouping that has no appetite for a knock-down fight on abortion. Bush needs just such a showdown, to give him a stronger political profile amid his current woes. The Democrats have Choice as almost their sole remaining issue and money raiser. But the Republican moderates who have to face the voters in the mid-term elections next year, know that this issue could mean the difference between victory and defeat. A majority of the American people have no desire to abolish a woman's right to choose.

For all you "strict constructionists" out there, how does the Doe v. Groody decision square with a literalist interpretation of the 4th Amendment? To wit: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now, you may think it's good policy, but let's talk "strict constructionism" here, and the Inviolability of the Original Will of the Founders.

"Strict constructionism" is nothing more than a Republican talking point.

Amazon, Shamazon

Some nerd friends and I used to amuse ourselves by writing BS reviews of books we had never read on Amazon. The following is one I wrote in 1999:

Confessions of a Eurocommunist:The reform of Francois Furet, September 22, 1999

Reviewer: A reader

What do Saint-Simon, Szyszko, Reyes, Schafer, and Marx all have in common? According to "The Passing of an Illusion," by Francois Furet, they were all the annointed prophets of the deadly cult of socialism (the deceitfully benign "nom de plume" of communism), which proved itself hostile to the most basic notions of individuality and freedom. These men provided the idealogical cornerstone for the bloody reign of Lenin and Stalin, and fueled the egoism and violence of dozens of more minor dictators and rebels throughout the last half of the Twentieth Century. Who better to expose the truth that our history books will not reveal than a former priest of the Red Religion? As a young man, Furet, a Jewish Creole of Haitian descent, was constantly excluded from social interactions by his French bourgeois peers for no other reason than his heritage. Understandably then, it was the revolutionary writings of the Polish Szyszko and the Belgian Schafer (famous for their simultaneous calls for the liberation of all nations subjugated by the European colonial powers)which first attracted Furet. As he matured, Reyes' ephemeral "Notes on a Libido Theory of Value" became more to Furet's liking, and his political activities in support of a "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" in France grew ever more intense. Thirty years later, and after a story of conversion that absolutely MUST BE READ TO BE BELIEVED, Francois Furet has returned to the world of the rational, and brings to us as his offering of penitence this ecyclopedic survey of the diabolical philosophy of communism in Europe. This book should be mandatory reading for every student and amator of political science in America, where the marxian discipline--sadly--rages on in the halls of some of our greatest centers of learning.

I haven't looked at it in years, and was amused to see that "44 of 53 people found the following review helpful."

Adverb Abuse

The Morning News has compiled an amusing assortment of one-star reviews of classic books. Among my favorites:

Gravity's Rainbow: “When one contrasts Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with this book, it’s like comparing an Olympic sprinter with an obese man running for the bus with a hot dog in one hand and a soda in the other.”

The Great Gatsby: “It grieves me deeply that we Americans should take as our classic a book that is no more than a lengthy description of the doings of fops.”

The Sound and The Fury: “This book is like an ungrateful girlfriend. You do your best to understand her and get nothing back in return.”

and finally, The Lord of The Rings: “The book is not readable because of the overuse of adverbs.” Amen to that, I say verily.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Homophones are funny

Or maybe I mean homonyms. Either way, someone clearly had fun writing this:

According to Nutt, Dick to replace Johnson against the Cocks

According to coach Houston Nutt, freshman Casey Dick will replace Robert Johnson at quarterback this weekend against South Carolina. Dick passed Johnson and Alex Mortensen on the quarterback depth chart during the Hogs' week off. Expect a mass exodus of quarterbacks from Arkansas following this season. If Dick plays well expect Mort, Johnson and Cole Barthel to leave the program. Arkansas has Mitch Mustain one of the top high school QBs in the country coming next season.

Cronies, Inc.

You'd think (any one of) the (many) lessons of the bungled Federal response to Katrina would have rubbed off on someone, anyone higher up. They are making so many bonehead plays lately, one wonders whether Cheney and Rove are actually letting Bush run things.

Is this man even remotely qualified to do anything, except be appointed by Bush?


Bush Names FDIC's Powell As Head of Katrina Relief

WASHINGTON -- Donald Powell, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has been assigned to oversee the federal government's disaster recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, the Bush administration announced Tuesday.

Mr. Powell, a wealthy contributor to President Bush's presidential campaign, will be in charge of the long-term plans to rebuild the states hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the late summer. The sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the first and most damaging of the two, particularly has been widely criticized.

Mr. Powell will be the administration's point person for dealing with Congress, state and local governments, and private businesses on the hurricane relief efforts. He eventually will replace Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who has been the day-to-day top federal coordinator for Katrina recovery.

"Don has the leadership, ideas and optimism that the residents of the Gulf Coast Region deserve," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement announcing Mr. Powell's role.

Before becoming FDIC chairman in August 2001, Mr. Powell was president and chief executive officer of First National Bank in Amarillo, Texas, and chairman of the board of regents for the Texas A&M University System -- an earlier Bush appointment.

Some in Congress have been pushing for the appointment of a "czar" to oversee reconstruction efforts along the Gulf Coast, which are already shaping up to be the largest and most expensive in American history. Congress has so far provided $62 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery efforts, of which about $40 billion has yet to be spent.


Bar Trivia?

My e-mail has been down the last few days, and I'm wondering who's doing bar trivia tonight. Jill and I are up for it.