Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pub Quiz 1-31-06

1) In the Year 2525, 10 points
2) South of Torrey, Utah, 11 points
3) Double Match- Chinese Zodiac24 points
4) Bizarro World 16 points
5) DOC- Man or Mouse? 10 points
6) Pictures 15 points
7) General Knowledge 24 ponits


Purple Monkey Dishwasher managed a fourth place finish with just two members.

Bipartisan Culture of Corruption?

Here's a listing of the political establishmentarians currently indicted or named in plea agreements.

Current rankings?

1. Republicans (77%)
2. Italian Mafiosi (14%)
3. Democrats (9%)

Old News

Empirical proof that Republicans are unreasonable.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Axis of Couric

This was the scene two days ago on the Today show as Professor Katie Couric grilled Chairman Yeeow! on the Republican money-for-laws scandal:

COURIC: Hey, wait a second. Democrats took — Democrats took money from Abramoff too, Mr. Dean.

DEAN: That is absolutely false. That did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time.

COURIC: Let me just tell you — According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Abramoff and his associates gave $3 million to Republicans and $1.5 million to Democrats, including Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid.

DEAN: Not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. We can show you the FEC reports, we’d be very happy to do it. There’s a lot of stuff in the press that the Republican National Committee’s been spinning that this is a bipartisan scandal. It is a Republican-financed scandal. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff ever went to any Democrat, not one dime.

COURIC: Well, we’ll obviously have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers at a later date. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Dean, Governor Dean, thanks so much for talking with us.

And clarify they did! Yesterday morning, Professor Lauer interviewed Dr. Russert:

LAUER: Katie pressed him [Howard Dean] on that and we did some research. We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and found out that technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct. But here’s what we found. That 66 percent of the money in this situation went to Republicans, but 34 percent of the money — not from Abramoff, but from his associates and clients — went to Democrats. So, can Democrats wash their hands of this?

RUSSERT: No, they will say it is a primarily a Republican scandal because the personal money of Abramoff went only to Republicans. But Matt, the issue is broad and wide. Democrats also understand that they accept trips from lobbyists and meals and so forth, and that’s why in order to reform all this, it has to be a bipartisan approach. But Democrats get raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that Katie Couric is too stupid to understand the nature of this scandal, but Russert and Lauer too? Saying that 34% of the money "in this situation" went from "associates of Abramoff" to Democrats is FOX-league obfuscation.

"[I]n this situation" and "associates of Abramoff" are euphemisms for Indian tribes who were allegedly defrauded by Abramoff and his true associates; Indian tribes that had always contributed money to legislators from their home states; Indian tribes that, once they began to do business with Abramoff, were directed by him to decrease their contributions to Democrats and increase contributions to Republicans. This is a simple money-for-laws scandal, and no Democrats are implicated. The only way that this is a bipartisan scandal is if the incendiary charge is that politicians take money from special interests. Though this probably should be a scandal, that's not what we're talking about here.

So why are Lauer and Russert carrying water for Republicans? Russert is feeling the heat from attention to his ethical lapses and bizarre behavior surrounding the Scooter Libby story, and has been doing an increasingly poor job of hiding his bias lately, so no big news there. I can only conclude that Lauer feels some sort of fraternal sympathy towards his dimwitted co-anchor, so bias may not be the culprit. Still, the "forced objectivity" model ("Tornado a killer, but trailer park residents culpable too") of the cowardly American journalistic profession is ultimately to blame.


I invite those of you opposed to judicial activism and the imperial presidency to join me in urging our fine senators from the Great State of Illinois to support the filibuster (should the opportunity arise) and vote no on cloture.

Senator Richard Durbin
Washington: 202-224-2152
Chicago: 312-353-4952

Senator Barack Obama
Washington: 202-224-2854
Chicago: 312-886-3506

If you've stumbled upon this from another Great State, go here to find your senators' contact info.

UPDATE: When I called Durbin's office to urge the senator to vote against cloture should the Alito confirmation come to a filibuster, the young poli-sci major who took my call said: "Wait, so you want the filibuster or you don't want it?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The banners of failure have failed!

As you've probably noticed I've been messing with the header. Opinions? A more readable font color perhaps?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pub Quiz 1-24-06

The rounds:
1) Big Mac Attack 11 points
2) The Thompsons 13 points
3) Match- 1960s Movies 10 points
4) Bizarro World 16 points
5) DOC- Yoga or Kama Sutra (link may not be safe for work) 10 points
6) Pictures 16 points
7) General Knowledge 24 points

UPDATE: Smellin of Troy managed a third place finish with only 3 team members.

Poor Work Performance Blamed on Internet

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — About 20 percent of government staff in one Malaysian state use the Internet for personal activities including downloading pornography, music and games, the national news agency reported Tuesday.

This was one of the main causes of poor work performance in Johor state, Bernama said quoting a top state official, Norsiah Harun, adding that large file downloads also considerably slowed the state government's computer system.

Norsiah said the government viewed the matter seriously and would enforce the relevant regulations soon. She reminded all department heads to be firm in tackling the problem and to remind their staff of their responsibilities, Bernama said.

"Government staff are also reminded not to take too long during morning and afternoon breaks," she said.


Biggest optimists: Afghanis and Iraqis

Iraqis and Afghans are among the most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.

Hugo Chavez vs. Frank Kruesi

There is an excellent piece in the current issue of the Chicago Reader on how CTA President Frank Kruesi rejected Venezuela's offer of discounted fuel. (Here's the link, but it's to a .pdf of the current issue - my excerpts below are my own transcription.)

The offer was part of a recent effort by Venezuela to share a fraction of its oil wealth with the poor in the US. Putting aside the question of whether Hugo Chavez is just looking to embarass President Bush, $15 million worth of free gasoline isn't chump change. It represents a little less than a third of the CTA's escalating annual fuel budget, and it comes at a time when the agency desperately needs all the cash it can get - the CTA is nearly bankrupt, as Kreusi repeatedly reminds riders.

To those blog readers who do not take CTA or aren't familiar with recent events, they have hiked fares and threatened to cut service due to budget woes; the Illinois assembly bailed them out late last year, but it was like pulling teeth getting that money. So yeah, $15 million worth of free gas would be rather welcome.

The Venezuelans approached local politicians - Alderman Billy Ocasio and US Rep. Luis Guttierrez - and made the offer. These guys set up a meeting, and invited Kruesi along. Kruesi blew it off. Later, Kruesi met with Ocasio and another alderman and discussed the offer:

Ocasio: "Frank said, 'That's a very generous offer, but I don't want to get involved in foreign policy.'" According to Ocasio, Kruesi felt that if CTA took Venezuela's money, it would anger congressional Republicans and Bush Admin officials, who might retaliate by cutting Chicago's federal transportation funds. ... But Ocasio researched the matter and discovered that the Bush administation had not opposed Citgo's offer to other cities. ...

Kruesi continued the resist, even when presented with ample evidence that he needn't worry about such things. In fact, many legislators are furious with him for turning this down, since they know he'll be coming to them for more money the next time there's a budget crunch.

"I don't want to start the new Year with a fight," says Gutierrez, "but we got $15 million on the table for a transit company that's raising fares and Kruesi's saying no? We got to fight."

As if Kruesi's recalcitrance isn't bad enough, he's not even keeping his own people in on it. Observe:

In a letter to Venezuela's consul general, CTA President Carole Brown wrote: "I was intrigued to learn from media reports about your interest in helping to reduce the impact of high fuel costs on CTA customers. ... I would be interested in learning more about your thoughts on ways to help ease the burden these higher costs place on the CTA and its customers. I look forward to hearing from you."

"Could this be possible?" says Guttierez. "Did the president of the board really learn about the offer by reading the papers? Did Frank keep the board in the dark?"

Kruesi has since changed his tune and the offer is apparently still in the works.

The whole article is worth a read. I wonder if Kruesi learned his lesson - I doubt it. The good news is that Ocasio and Guttierrez have, and will now go directly to the Board instead of wasting time with Frank.

Dispatch from the Department of Irony

According to one study of health code violations at grocery stores the least safe grocery is.... Safeway .

Granted this is a Dateline puff piece, so take it with the appropriate (large) grain of salt. Just so this post isn't total fluff here's a related safety link which might stop you from going to your favorite resaurant.

Monday, January 23, 2006


From a Wall Street Journal report of Bush's speech to a friendly crowd at Kansas State University:

Mr. Bush received a hero's welcome, with long standing ovations and loud applause as he defended his most controversial positions. There was a noisy crowd of a couple hundred sign-waving anti-war protesters outside the arena where Mr. Bush appeared. "Wage war, not peace!" they chanted to a drumbeat.

"Wage war, not peace"? Either the editors let that one slip, or those are some confused protesters.

Earlier today I saw a yahoo headline that said something to the effect of "Bush to reply to unfiltered questions" - basically implying that it was announced he would take questions not previously screened by his minions. But when I clicked on the link, there was only a summary of today's KSU event. Further research got me nowhere. Can anyone confirm or disconfirm this significant new development?

"I'm mindful of your civil liberties and so I had all kinds of lawyers review the process," Mr. Bush told some 9,000 students, soldiers and dignitaries in the audience.

Sounds like he's more mindful of defending his own ass against legal challenges.

And speaking of book clubs...

Here's my contribution to next month's stack o' reading

New Republic article on the terrorist mindset

Reason Article on why Repubs can't cut spending

I e-mailed everybody a Word document which combines both articles for easy printing.

Osama's Book Club

Going under the radar has provided Osama all the time in the world to catch up on his reading, aside from making sporadic audio tapes. For the year 2006, Americans should read...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An unexpected endorsement from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has resulted in a huge jump in sales for a book by a critic of U.S. foreign policy.

William Blum's "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" was ranked 209,000 on Amazon.com's sales list before bin Laden mentioned it in an audiotape released on Thursday. By Friday, the book was No. 30 on the Amazon.com list.

Bin Laden said al Qaeda group was preparing more attacks in the United States but also told Americans, "It is useful for you to read the book 'The Rogue State.'"

"I was quite surprised and even shocked and amused when I found out what he'd said," Blum said on Friday in an interview with Reuters Television in his Washington apartment.

"I was glad. I knew it would help the book's sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from.

"If he shares with me a deep dislike for the certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views and I'm not turned off by that."

Blum said some friends and family members were afraid the bin Laden endorsement might endanger him but he said there had been no threats and he was not concerned.

Blum's 320-page book, which was published in 2000, begins with a chapter titled "Why Do Terrorists Keep Picking on the United States." The first sentence says, "Washington's war on terrorism is as doomed to failure as its war on drugs has been."

Other chapters in "The Rogue State" are titled "America's Gift to the World -- the Afghan Terrorist Alumni," "The U.S. Versus the World at the United Nations" and "How the CIA Sent Nelson Mandela to Prison for 28 Years."

Blum's other books include "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II," "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire" and "West Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Political Memoir."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My article for next month.

This is from Ravi Zacharias and is explicitly preachy. I don't think he has a rapture index, but it's likely to be offensive anyway. See you all next month!


Friday, January 20, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Does anyone else see a creepy physical resemblence between Serbian-American Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich...

...and Canadian-born bisexual porn star Peter North?

Closer to Midnight

Someone should alert the Atomic Scientists that their clock needs updating:

In a speech aimed at defending France's €3bn-a-year (£2bn) nuclear arms programme, the president said the country's nuclear strike force was "not aimed at dissuading fanatical terrorists", but states who used "terrorist means" or "weapons of mass destruction" against France.

Then again, if the Atomic Scientists are listening to Ted Turner, they'd have set it ahead already:

While urging unilateral nuclear disarmament to a Kansas State University audience on Monday, Turner declared: "You have to question ... the president on a lot of decisions he's made. He might just think launching those weapons would be a good thing to do. ... He thought Iraq was."

Meanwhile, Osama's little speech yesterday certainly seemed to hint that he's got a bomb atomique:

"...Only metal breaks metal, and our situation, thank God, is only getting better and better, while your situation is the opposite of that."

Personally, I think we should accept Osama's offer for a truce. As he says, "There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America who have supported Bush's election campaign." The man may be a murderous, diabetic lunatic, but he speaks the truth.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Urban Dictionary

Kodos can be so many things!


"A vote for very bad things, and unemployment, and hair boutiques for bourgeois super-smart mokeys who will take over the world, and monkey strip bars where baboons shake their blue asses to Guns and Roses."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Proof is in the Pudding

Rights Group Says U.S. Abuse Deliberate
AP Diplomatic Writer
Published January 18, 2006, 11:37 AM CST

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has a deliberate strategy of abusing terror suspects during interrogations, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in its annual report on the treatment of people in more than 70 countries. The human rights group based its conclusions mostly on statements by senior administration officials in the past year, and said President Bush's reassurances that the United States does not torture suspects were deceptive and rang hollow. "In 2005 it became disturbingly clear that the abuse of detainees had become a deliberate, central part of the Bush administration's strategy of interrogating terrorist suspects," the report said. On a trip to Europe last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told foreign leaders that cruel and degrading interrogation methods were forbidden for all U.S. personnel at home and abroad. She provided little detail, however, about which practices were banned and other specifics. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday he had only seen news accounts of the report, but he rejected its conclusions. "It appears to be based more on a political agenda than facts," he said. "The United States does more than any country in the world to advance freedom and promote human rights. ...The focus should be more on those who are violating human rights and denying people their human rights." In a separate report, the organization strongly criticized three insurgent groups in Iraq -- al-Qaida, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army -- for targeting civilians with car bombs and suicide bombers in mosques, markets, bus stations. However, the group said the abuses "took place in the context of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the ensuing military occupation that resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths and sparked the emergence of insurgent groups." Human Rights Watch has criticized the Bush administration's war against terrorism before, registering concern that abuses in the name of fighting terrorism were unjustified and counterproductive. In other reports, the group has protested that the Bush administration's promotion of democracy was applied narrowly and missed allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, that were due criticism. The latest report taking aim at the Bush administration said that the president's repeated assurances that U.S. interrogators do not torture prisoners studiously avoid mentioning that international law prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners. The report said that Alberto Gonzales -- while still the nominee to become attorney general -- claimed in Senate testimony in January 2005 the power to use cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as long as the prisoner was a non-American held outside the United States. "Other governments obviously subject detainees to such treatment or worse, but they do so clandestinely," the report said. "The Bush administration is the only government in the world known to claim this power openly, as a matter of official policy, and to pretend that it is lawful." Last fall, Gonzales submitted documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying "it is the policy of the administration to abide by" the relevant portion of the torture treaty overseas, "even if such compliance is not legally required." In December, Bush bowed to congressional and international pressure and signed legislation sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to forbid harsh treatment of detainees. He did so after initially threatening to veto such legislation, and after Vice President Dick Cheney unsuccessfully lobbied legislators to kill the measure or at least exempt the Central Intelligence Agency. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in an interview that he was concerned that, in a statement Bush issued when signing the bill, the president suggested he retains "commander in chief authority" to order abusive interrogations. The report said that CIA Director Porter Goss last March justified an age-old torture technique called water-boarding, in which the victim believes he is about to drown. Last August, in Senate testimony, Timothy Flanigan, a former deputy White House counsel, would not rule out mock executions, the report said. Evidence shows that abusive interrogation was a conscious policy choice by senior U.S. government officials and cannot be reduced to the misdeeds of a few low-ranking soldiers, the report said. The report claimed abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at detention centers elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report said Britain was threatening to send suspects to countries likely to torture them. Both the United States and Britain are claiming the practice, known as rendition, can be justified if the receiving country promises not to abuse the suspects. Canada, meanwhile, was criticized as trying to dilute a newly drafted U.N. treaty to outlaw the practice of countries' detaining people secretly and without acknowledgment. Many countries, including Uzbekistan, Russia and China, use the "war on terrorism" to attack political opponents as Islamic terrorists, the report said.
Copyright © 2006, The Associated Press

Lemonjello is not a popular name

Here's the interactive chart of the top 1000 baby names by year.

Hillary Clinton: Minion of Satan

The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."

Let's forget for a moment that the substance of what she's saying about the way Congress is now run is basically right on, and that I agree that the Bush administration is one of the worst in American history.

That said, what's up with the language? Is a plantation really the best metaphor for a situation in which "nobody with a contrary view has... a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard"? (one wonders if she bounced the phrase off her husband, "America's first African American president," before including it.) Of course it isn't, and what an insult to the memory of the slaves to claim that it is. By those lax standards of comparison, why not compare Congress to the Gulag Archipelago, Auschwitz, or a white slavery compound in Dubai? Because using the word "plantation" in front of a black audience is Hillary Clinton's quid pro quo to African Americans and certain elements of the white left in exchange for their support for her presidential bid. Quite a bargain for Hillary and the ad consultant wing of the Democratic Party! Particularly when you consider that that's all her supporters are going to get from a hypothetical Clinton II White House. No significant changes in labor laws, trade agreements, or health care (maybe another horrendous, incomprehensible insurance industry welfare plan) are likely to come down the pike, so just be content with her firebrand language and the fact that the wingnuts spit blood whenever they hear her name.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Idiot Factor

Law enforcement imitates art - or at least, TV:

Q: Are car chases more common in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the nation? If so, why?

A: Someone drives away from the cops in Los Angeles County about fifteen times a day—much more often than anywhere else in the country. There are several reasons for the prevalence of “pursuits.” First, L.A. has a strong car culture. Its residents spend so much time in their cars that they’re like second homes, and nobody likes to be told what to do in his own home. Second, the county has some twenty-two thousand miles of highways and streets, and this gives a suspect the illusion of endless escape routes. Third, local police forces have been much quicker to initiate pursuits than many municipal forces. (In Baltimore, for instance, pursuits have been banned for decades.) And then there is Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca’s theory: “We have more idiots here than anywhere else.”

Victor Davis Hanson Innoculates Us Against The Inevitable

VDH, writing on NRO, gives us the 411 on what to expect from the Al-Democratsa Martyrs Brigade once we light those Iranian suckers up:

Politically, the administration would have to vie with CNN’s daily live feeds of collateral damage that might entail killed Iranian girls and boys, maimed innocents, and street-side reporters who thrust microphones into stretchers of civilian dead. The Europeans’ and American Left’s slurs of empire and hegemony would only grow.

We remember the “quagmire” hysteria that followed week three in Afghanistan, and the sandstorm “pause” that prompted cries that we had lost Iraq. All that would be child’s play compared to an Iranian war, as retired generals and investigative reporters haggled every night on cable news over how many reactor sites were still left to go. So take for granted that we would be saturated by day four of the bombing with al Jazeera’s harangues, perhaps a downed and blindfolded pilot or two paraded on television, some gruesome footage of arms and legs in Tehran’s streets, and the usual Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer outtakes.

VDH is surely in constant, grueling pain as the weight of his own gravitas crushes relentlessly against his fragile mortal skeleton. Still, the threat he discusses is (finally!) a real one, and he makes some good points:

Economically, we should factor in the real possibility that Iranian oil might be off the global market, and prepare — we have been here before with the Iranian embargo of 1979 — for colossal gasoline price hikes. This should also be a reminder that Ahmadinejad, Saddam, Hugo Chavez, and an ascendant and increasingly undemocratic Putin all had in common both petrodollar largess and desperate Western, Chinese, and Indian importers willing to overlook almost anything to slake their thirst. Unless we develop an energy policy that collapses the global oil price, for the next half-century expect every few years something far creepier than the Saudi Royals and Col. Moammar Gadhafi to threaten the world order.

(Ironically, the only energy policy that could possibly collapse the "global oil price" would probably be a war and its price shocks, which would drastically increase the price of oil in the mid-term and hopefully lead to the development of non-petroleum based fuel technologies in the long-term.)

Faced with the horrifying possibility that (more) religious zealots might soon have access to nuclear weapons, what is the proper response? Hanson breaks with his neocon brethren here by making no allusions whatsoever to the overtime production of candy and red carpets in the targeted country, and you have to credit him for his honesty on that count. My issue with VDH and his ilk is not so much their prescriptions, but rather the fairly obvious fact that most of them don't know anything about the Middle East. It's unfashionable among Bush supporters to make this claim--what with the administration's emphasis on a goofy neo-Marxist idea of historical destiny (page 7) to light their way in international affairs--but it really is better to go into an undertaking when you know what the hell you're doing.

In this situation, for example, I could be persuaded that it's going to take military action to avoid a nuclear-armed Iran. The problem is that I couldn't be easily persuaded of it by the Bush administration because I know they don't take facts into consideration as much as "gut instincts" or fairytale wishes about turning the Middle East into a western-style democracy. I really am disturbed that a situation which might require a military solution will have to be dealt with by an administration that has screwed up military matters so seriously and repeatedly, and shows no signs of an ability to take good advice when it's offered to them.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Anti-Feminist Defending

Mark Levin, in his lame little NRO blog:

Over at Amazon.com, my dear friend Kate O’Bierne has become an obvious target of an organized campaign by so-called feminists to degrade the rating of her book – Women Who Make the World Worse : And How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports – by posting absurd personal attacks as reviews. Clearly most of those posting reviews haven’t read Kate’s book.
Read them yourself. And she has already received nearly 300 reviews, a remarkably high number in such a short period of time. Hence, the clear indication of an organized campaign to trash the book. I wish Amazon had a better way to rate a book than this.

By "better," I assume he means filtered of their obstreperous left-wing slant. Given the democratic nature of the reviews, where anyone can write whatever the hell they want (recall a particularly well-wrought whopper by one of our own), Mark Levin may as well just give up the sour grapes and get busy shifting the balance of power back to his side, by posting reviews of Michael Moore books.

Must admit, the sarcasm dripping from this leadoff review elicited a chuckle:

I found many truths in Mrs. O'Beirne's book, truths so self-evident that I have to wonder why no one has stated them until now. For instance, how could anyone argue with her assertion that feminists exploit female war casualties to "advance the feminist agenda of androgyny and abortion." Even I have to admit that every time I hear that another woman has been sacrificed in our glorious Iraq adventure, I'm tempted to tell my wife, Ofjoshua, to throw on a pair of jeans, head for the nearest women's health clinic, and help them slaughter a whole passel of blastocyst-Americans.

ZING!!! Claims of "Absurd personal attack" notwithstanding, I, like 4422 of 4517 people (as of this writing), found that review extremely helpful.

Friday, January 13, 2006

That's Nobody's Business But The Turks'

Yet another reason that Turkey should, under no circumstances, be admitted to the EU. Here's another. While I applaud Turkish secularists' efforts to reign in Islam as a social force in their country, the lack of respect for due process and human rights shown by those same secularists is appalling. Am I off base here? Any thoughts on the carrot and the stick? Besides being just a cover for something they were happy to do anyway, I always thought the Reaganite strategy of "constructive engagement" with Apartheid South Africa completely lacked any mechanism by which such engagement could provide any source of pressure. The issue with Turkey and the EU seems similar to me.

The most stressfull job is...

Air traffic conroller? Policeman? Teacher? Electrical Lineman?

How about Librarian ?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The media blames Bush for everything!

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

Duplicity 101:

President Bush issued a stark warning to Democrats on Tuesday about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference between "honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."

In some of his most combative language yet directed at his critics, Mr. Bush said Americans should insist on a debate "that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."

"There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate, and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas," he said.

Right, got it. The uniting, bipartisan, compassionate President has decided to finally spend that hard-earned political capital by embiggening the debate on Iraq, which has been so irresponsibly conducted by those on the other side. Does anyone actually listen to this guy and think he's not full of shit?

Today, in front of 425 members of the V.F.W., Mr. Bush received standing ovations.

Oh, right - hand-picked audiences. 425 cheering veterans can't be wrong! If your reception at the Council on Foreign Relations was a bit tepid, just stick to the VFW.

The GOP has made it clear that their speciality is not vision, policy, or implementation - their speciality is working day and night to destroy their political opposition. The K Street Project is a fine example. The Administration shock troops make no bones about attacking critics of the war with impunity (witness the full-court press on Rep. Murtha) - but then they have the balls to call for a more "responsible" debate.

Wait - here's the best part.

In discussing Iraqi politics, Mr. Bush directly addressed Sunni Arabs, a minority in the new government, saying, "Compromise and consensus and power-sharing are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy. ...A country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny."

Lecturing the Sunnis on compromise and power-sharing, while actively pursuing a scorched earth policy against your domestic opposition. Now that's Chutzpah[tm].

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Beautiful! Senator John "them judges were just askin' teh git shot" Cornyn refers to Alito twice as Scalito!! Is it possible that Democrats are finally catching up to Republicans in their ability to insidiously twist language for their own political objectives?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


US forces attack award winning journalist .

Chuck Norris responds to Germanicus

In response to Germanicus' December 1 post (scroll to bottom) Chuck issued the following:


I'm aware of the made up declarations about me that have recently begun to appear on the Internet and in emails as "Chuck Norris facts." I've seen some of them. Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. Being more a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It's quite surprising. I do know that boys will be boys, and I neither take offense nor take these things too seriously. Who knows, maybe these made up one-liners will prompt young people to seek out the real facts as found in my recent autobiographical book, "Against All Odds?" They may even be interested enough to check out my novels set in the Old West, "The Justice Riders," released this month. I'm very proud of these literary efforts.
~ Chuck Norris

MK, Meet Your New Boss

There's something remarkably satisfying about knowing that soon, Mark's salary may be partially subsidized by Hugo Chavez's dirty, dirty diesel fuel!!!


Win or lose we got $75 worth of food to consume.

1) Battlefield Earth 10 points
2) Brought to you by the letter L 10 points
3) Double Match- The Quick Brown Fox 18 points
4) Bizarro World 16 points
5) Dead or Canadian- Electric Company or Sesame Street? 10 points
6) Pictures 16 points
7) General Knowledge 20 points

UPDATE: The Financial Panthers blew the lead in the last round and got second.

Questions now posted

Monday, January 09, 2006

That's a two with twelve zeroes

Cost of Iraq war could top $2 trillion: study

Again, that's $2,000,000,000,000.

The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion, far above the White House's pre-war projections, when long-term costs such as lifetime health care for thousands of wounded U.S. soldiers are included.

Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes included in their study disability payments for the 16,000 wounded U.S. soldiers, about 20 percent of whom suffer serious brain or spinal injuries. ...

Before the invasion, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be "an affordable endeavor" and rejected an estimate by then-White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey of total Iraq war costs at $100 billion to $200 billion as "very, very high."

Hmm... is this paragraph the "liberal media bias" at work?

Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 and has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, and Bilmes based their projections partly on past wars and included the economic cost of higher oil prices, a bigger U.S. budget deficit and greater global insecurity caused by the Iraq war.

Well, if you quote liberal economists, I guess that makes you a liberal media source. (At least according to this study, right?) Look out, Kos - here comes Reuters!

They said a portion of the rise in oil prices -- about 20 percent of the $25 a barrel gain in oil prices since the war began -- could be attributed directly to the conflict and that this had already cost the United States about $25 billion.

"Americans are, in a sense, poorer by that amount," they said, describing that estimate as conservative.

Some have said that the rise in oil prices is solely attributable to Iraq, and that is ignorant poppycock. Oil prices have gone up for several reasons. Demand is increasing, production is about maxxed out, it was an overdue correction, hurricanes hit the Gulf of Mexico, etc. But there's no doubt that the situation in Iraq has contributed to supply and price volatility. Stiglitz's 20% sounds about right to me.

Two Trillion Dollars might seem like a daunting number to get one's head around. I am reminded of the old saw (attributable to a former Illinois Senator, I believe): a million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Unforeseen costs include recruiting to replenish a military drained by multiple tours of duty, slower long-term U.S. economic growth and health-care bills for treating long-term mental illness suffered by war veterans.

They said about 30 percent of U.S. troops had developed mental-health problems within three to four months of returning from Iraq as of July 2005, citing Army statistics.

It's two thousand thousand million. And a bunch of war-addled vets, not to mention the dead ones. Sure it was worth it?

If only...

Which war the bigger mistake?

Hello infidels and shahids,

For those against the war in Iraq, which has been the bigger mistake: Vietnam, or Iraq? Why?

For those in favor of the war with Iraq, I ask if we should have gone to war in Vietnam? Your thoughts, please?

"Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

It will be fascinating to watch the media attempt to cover (or not) this incredibly delicate balancing act between China's sound financial policy and its social darwinian struggle for world domination.

China signals reserves switch away from dollar
By Geoff Dyer in Shanghai and Andrew Balls in Washington
Published: January 5 2006 20:13 | Last updated: January 6 2006 02:43

China indicated on Thursday it could begin to diversify its rapidly growing foreign exchange reserves away from the US dollar and government bonds – a potential shift with significant implications for global financial and commodity markets.

Economists estimate that more that 70 per cent of the reserves are invested in US dollar assets, which has helped to sustain the recent large US deficits. If China were to stop acquiring such a large proportion of dollars with its reserves – currently accumulating at about $15bn (€12.4bn) a month – it could put heavy downward pressure on the greenback.

In a brief statement on its website, the government's foreign exchange regulator said one of its targets for 2006 was to “improve the operation and management of foreign exchange reserves and to actively explore more effective ways to utilise reserve assets”.

It went on: “[The objective is] to improve the currency structure and asset structure of our foreign exchange reserves, and to continue to expand the investment area of reserves.

“We want to ensure that the use of foreign exchange reserves supports a national strategy, an open economy and the macro-economic adjustment."

The announcement came from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe). It gave no more details about whether this meant a big shift in the investment strategy
for Chinese reserves, which according to local press reports reached nearly $800bn at the end of last year and are expected by economists to near $1,000bn this year.

The regulator also said it would end quotas on the amount of foreign currency Chinese companies can acquire to invest in overseas assets, a decision that removes a bureaucratic hurdle facing companies that plan to make international acquisitions.

The statement comes at a time of growing debate in China on how the reserves are invested Some economists have called on Beijing to use the funds to finance infrastructure investment and clean up state-owned companies, or to invest in higher-yielding assets rather than financing US borrowing.

However, according to Stephen Green, economist for Standard Chartered in Shanghai, although the language was “vague”, Thursday's statement was the first time Safe has publicly indicated a shift away from dollar assets.

“It is a subtle but clear signal that they are interested in moving away from the US dollar into other currencies, and are interested in setting up some kind of strategic commodity fund, maybe just for oil, but maybe for other commodities,” he said.

The Group of Seven leading industrialised economies has repeatedly called for an adjustment in global trade imbalances, including a rise in the renminbi. The US has expressed frustration that China has not allowed its currency to rise significantly after last July’s 2 per cent revaluation. That saw China move from a dollar peg to managing its currency against a basket of currencies, potentially allowing the renminbi to rise against the dollar.

John Snow, US Treasury secretary, speaking earlier on Thursday, repeated his call for China to allow the renminbi to rise against the dollar. “The trade deficit is influenced by lots of things, differential growth rates, differential savings rates and investment rates and so on. But clearly, getting the [Chinese currency] more appropriately valued will be helpful to the global adjustment process,” he said.

However, some economists believe it would be a mistake for China to shift its reserves into domestic investment or other asset classes.

© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2006. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks
of the Financial Times.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What Would Hegel Say?

My Lai War Hero Hugh Thompson Dies
By VOA News
07 January 2006

An American soldier honored for protecting Vietnamese civilians from
U.S. troops in the infamous My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war
has died.

Hugh Thompson was 62. He succumbed to cancer Friday.

As an Army helicopter pilot in 1968, Mr. Thompson saw the bodies of
women and children lying outside the village of My Lai. When he
realized that US troops were shooting civilians, he landed his
helicopter in the line of fire and ordered his two crew members to
train their guns on the Americans.

Mr. Thompson threatened to shoot the U.S. troops if they did not
stop, helping end one of the worst atrocities of the war.

His role in what became known as the My Lai massacre of hundreds of
civilians was not widely known until years later. In 1998, Mr.
Thompson and his crew were awarded the Soldier's Medal for their

Friday, January 06, 2006

And in this corner...

Professor Cole (GO BLUE!) has posted an audio link to an interview Warren Olney did with him, Anthony Cordesman and our own Victor Davis Hanson. It's about 1/3 of the way down the page.

UPDATE: Apparently you need Real Player {TM} to hear it. Depending on how long it is, maybe I could burn it at home and we could listen to it on the 16th before we talk about how good abortion is for America.

He Who Hesitates Is Lost

After I read Hurtleg's post from Cap'n Crunch about Kos being too stupid to know that Patrick Henry was himself a pants-wetting chickenhawk, I went to Wikipedia, that authoritative compendium of knowledge assembled by a bunch of anonymous strangers whose scholarly credentials I know nothing about, and looked up Patrick Henry's service record. There I read that early on in the Revolutionary War Henry had led a militia that attacked some disputed gunpowder depot (or something) that was controlled by the Red Coats. I considered firing back at Hurtleg with this fact, until I realized that that the language was kind of cagey, and that there was no necessary temporal or causal linkage implied by a sentence like "Henry had led a militia that attacked some disputed gunpowder depot." (I think this is called "The Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle" in logic, but I'm not sure about that). In fact, it could be as meaningless and deceptive as saying that "During the Vietnam War, George Bush was a pilot in the National Guard, many of whose brave and intelligent members sarificed their lives in the conflict." You see what I mean? So Patrick Henry commanded that militia; does that automatically mean that he was there during that raid, or that he was a commander in anything but name only? It's hard to know, since I know nothing about the structure of that militia.

But today over at rogerailes.com, Roger rogers Cap'n Crunch with that selfsame Wikipedia article, as well as a few other links that suggest that Henry did indeed lead the raid, but that actual combat proved unnecessary due to the superlative negotiating skills Henry displayed upon reaching the depot.

I'm not sure whether the justifiers and defenders of chickenhawkery will now concede they were wrong about Henry, but I'm pretty sure that, if Henry were on the other side of the fight today, they'd be holding his ass in Guantanamo as an enemy combatant for coming within five miles of a powder depot on horseback with his sabre raised to the heavens.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Silly Chickenhawk

This is an old post from Political Animal, but with the continued controversy on this site about whether the administration did or didn't lie us into war, I think it might be useful to have it here for reference.

MANIPULATING INTELLIGENCE....Did the Bush administration mislead the country during the runup to the Iraq war? It's true that they turned out to be wrong about a great many things, but that doesn't answer the question. It merely begs it. Were they sincerely wrong, or did they intentionally manipulate the intelligence they presented to the public in order to mask known weaknesses in their case?

The case for manipulation is pretty strong. It relies on several things, but I think the most important of them has been the discovery that the administration deliberately suppressed dissenting views on some of the most important pieces of evidence that they used to bolster their case for war. For future reference, here's a list of seven key dissents about administration claims, all of which were circulated before the war but kept under wraps until after the war:

1.The Claim: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda prisoner captured in 2001, was the source of intelligence that Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons. This information was used extensively by Colin Powell in his February 2003 speech to the UN.

What We Know Now: As early as February 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency circulated a report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, saying that it was "likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers." Link. This assessment was hidden from the public until after the war. Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, says "We never heard about" the DIA assessment prior to Powell's UN speech. Link.

2.The Claim: An Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball" was the source of reporting that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of mobile biowarfare labs. Curveball's claims of mobile bio labs were repeated by many administration figures during the runup to war.

What We Know Now: The German intelligence officials who handled Curveball told the CIA that he was not "psychologically stable" and that his allegations of mobile bio labs were second hand and unverified. Link. The only American agent to actually meet with Curveball before the war warned that he appeared to be an alcoholic and was unreliable. However, his superior in the CIA told him it was best to keep quiet about this: "Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn't say, and the powers that be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about." Link. This dissent was not made public until 2004, in a response to the SSCI report that was written by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Link.

3.The Claim: Iraq had purchased thousands of aluminum tubes to act as centrifuges for the creation of bomb grade uranium. Dick Cheney said they were "irrefutable evidence" of an Iraqi nuclear program and George Bush cited them in his 2003 State of the Union address.

What We Know Now: Centrifuge experts at the Oak Ridge Office of the Department of Energy had concluded long before the war that the tubes were unsuitable for centrifuge work and were probably meant for use in artillery rockets. The State Department concurred. Link. Both of these dissents were omitted from the CIA's declassified National Intelligence Estimate, released on October 4, 2002. Link. They were subsequently made public after the war, on July 18, 2003. Link.

4.The Claim: Saddam Hussein attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa as part of his attempt to reconstitute his nuclear program. President Bush cited this publicly in his 2003 State of the Union address.

What We Know Now: The primary piece of evidence for this claim was a document showing that Iraq had signed a contract to buy yellowcake from Niger. However, the CIA specifically told the White House in October 2002 that the "reporting was weak" and that they disagreed with the British about the reliability of this intelligence. Link. At the same time, the State Department wrote that the documents were "completely implausible." Link.

Three months later, in January 2003, Alan Foley, head of the CIA's counterproliferation effort, tried to persuade the White House not to include the claim in the SOTU because the information wasn't solid enough, but was overruled. Link. Five weeks later, the documents were conclusively shown to be forgeries. Link. In July 2003, after the war had ended, CIA Director George Tenet admitted publicly that that the claim should never have been made. Link.

5.The Claim: Saddam Hussein was developing long range aerial drones capable of attacking the continental United States with chemical or biological weapons. President Bush made this claim in a speech in October 2002 and Colin Powell repeated it during his speech to the UN in February 2003.

What We Know Now: The Iraqi drones had nowhere near the range to reach the United States, and Air Force experts also doubted that they were designed to deliver WMD. However, their dissent was left out of the October 2002 NIE and wasn't made public until July 2003. Link.

6.The Claim: Administration officials repeatedly suggested that Saddam Hussein had substantial connections to al-Qaeda. Even after the war, George Bush said, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." Dick Cheney said the evidence of a relationship was "overwhelming."

What We Know Now: As early as September 21, 2001, President Bush was told by the CIA that there was "scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda." In fact, according to Murray Waas, "Bush was told during the briefing that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime." Link.

7.The Claim: Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, an Iraqi defector, told the CIA that he had secretly helped Saddam Hussein's men bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. After this information was passed to the New York Times by Ahmed Chalabi, it was cited in "A Decade of Deception and Defiance" as evidence of Iraq's continued WMD programs.

What We Know Now: Al-Haideri told his story while strapped to a polygraph. He failed. The CIA knew from the start that he had made up the entire account, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa. Link.

This is not a comprehensive list, so feel free to add other specific examples of suppressed intelligence in comments.

One final word on this: the issue here is not who was right and who was wrong, or even whether the overall weight of the evidence was sufficient to justify the war. It would have been perfectly reasonable for the White House to present all the evidence pro and con and then use that evidence to make the strongest possible case for war. But that's not what they did. Instead, they suppressed any evidence that might have thrown doubt on their arguments, making it impossible for the public to evaluate what they were saying. In fact, by abusing the classification process to keep these dissents secret, they even made it impossible for senators who knew the truth to say anything about it in public.

This is not the way to market a war. It's certainly not the way to market a war that requires long term support from citizens in a democracy. But that's how they marketed it anyway.

I like this post because it gets to the heart of the definition of a chickenhawk that most of us opponents of this administration have in mind when discussing the Iraq war (rather than the caricatured strawman "No one who hasn't served in the military has a right to advocate war" argument proffered by Hurtleg & Comrades). In this context, a chickenhawk is someone like Five Deferments (who had better things to do) or Lucianne's Baby Boy (whose family couldn't do without the income), who are ferocious advocates of wars of choice, but who, paradoxically, don't really appear to take war all that seriously. We're obviously not saying that Five Deferments and President Champagne Unit should leave the White House and enlist, and I don't think I'd feel much safer with Private Goldberg over in Iraq either. Is every war supporter who hasn't served a chickenhawk? No. Do some lefties seem to imply that they are? Sure. Still, it's perfectly legitimate to ask Five Deferments why his "other things to do" when America was fighting her Most Dangerous Enemy in History were more important than everyone else's "other things to do" now that we're fighting the Most Dangerous Enemy in History again.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Longhorn fans rejoice!!! The long national nightmare is over after 35 years without a national championship. Texas defeated THE BEST TEAM EVER 41-38. (Question, does that make UT the best ever? Just wondering).

PS. I would like to point out that if the UT kicker had not missed a PAT and a short field goal my prediction would have been dead on.

Hook 'em Horns!!!!!!

The end times are near...

The rapture index is at 151 and counting! My favorite move in the index is #33, the "beast government" factor : "The possibility of the EU reforming into a smaller group of core nations has updated this category." Does this mean it went down?

Seriously, though, making fun of religious fundamentalists' wacky ideas about the imminent end times is all fun and games, until the apocalypse comes. And it's not funny at all when you have groups actively hastening the end times, and tons of legislators beholden to these wackos.

We're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half of the members of Congress are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian-right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who before his recent retirement quoted from the biblical Book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land."

Is this just alarmist fear mongering - another freaky lobbying group, and our legislators pay them lip service because they are are financially beholden to them? Or is this a malignant and malicious influence on our legislative process?

I go with the former. As influential as these end-timers may be, I think they are best ignored. They won't go away, but they feed off attention, and would only grow stronger if we try and destroy them.

Just like the terrorists.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Silly Chickenhawk Argument (cont.)

Kos has still been holding on to the Chickenhawk argument as a way of attacking the war. His latetest post holds Patrick "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" Henry up as a hero (something we can all agree on).

Capt. Ed has a great post debunking this stupid argument.

One problem, It turns out that Henry never served in the Revolution -- and even when given a commission and a command, he declined to serve:

1775 August 26: Although Henry had no military experience, he was elected colonel of the First Virginia Regiment and commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia.
1776 February 28: Henry resigned his military appointment.

Wow -- who knew that Kos would celebrate such a chickenhawk!

Of course, that slur would be ludicrous to use on Patrick Henry. Instead of picking up a gun and commanding an army, Henry relied on his better skills and went into politics and rhetoric to fight for freedom. He urged the armed uprising as one of the leading pundits of his age, from his seat in the Virginia Assembly and as governor of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. His proclamation for liberty or death did not mean that he intended on grabbing his pistol and run out into the nearest battle he could find. It did mean that he made liberty, freedom, and democracy his life's work -- and in doing so, he helped form the basis of the mandate of Americans to throw off the British monarchy and engage in the world's greatest experiment in self-rule. His contribution to American freedom is no less honorable for his refusal to serve in the Revolutionary Army, and no less important


Bush and Co. are pulling the plug!

1-3-06 No quiz tonight

Apparantly Chief O'Neill's hasn't been running their pub quiz since September, so unless anybody knows of another Tuesday quiz, Team (Insert Clever Simpson's Reference Here) will not be meeting tonight. As a consolation here's a history trivia question. (Answer below left, or click on link for more readable version).

Who invaded Spain in the Eighth Century ?