Friday, February 29, 2008

Falling slowly, eyes that know me, and I can't go back

(Full disclosure: I'm not an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member, but I am a member of what used to be called National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, now just referred to as the Recording Academy. Whatever.)

Film music can be pretty unique. Or it can be the lowest common denominator drivel, pounded out by jaded, calculating writers. Too often Oscar winning songs fall into the latter category. And with 3 truly awful songs nominated from "Enchanted" and a generic faux-gospel tune from "August Rush", it looked like that might happen happen. Not having seen any of the 3 films represented by the Best Song category, Pam & I looked at each other as they played the songs during the Oscars and said "Man, this is the best they could do?"

But then they did the song from "Once" called "Falling Slowly", and we both knew this was the one. And thankfully the Academy did the right thing. By not rewarding the hackery of Alan Mencken, Stephen Schwartz, and Disney, the Academy lifted up that small song from that small movie and rewarded unique and lovely songwriting.

Here are Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performing "Falling Slowly" on Letterman last November:

One third-degree mortally wounded, gloomy, gloomy way

Karzai Only Controls 1/3 of Afghanistan

February 28, 2008; 2:23 AM

WASHINGTON -- More than six years after the U.S. invaded to establish a stable central regime in Afghanistan, the Kabul government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country, the top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday.

National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the resurgent Taliban controls 10 percent to 11 percent of the country and Karzai's government controls 30 percent to 31 percent. The majority of Afghanistan's population and territory remains under local tribal control, he said.
In 2007, insurgency-related violence killed more than 6,500 people, including 222 foreign troops. Last year was the deadliest yet since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Officials estimate that up to 40 percent of proceeds from Afghanistan's drug trade _ an amount worth tens of millions of dollars _ is used to fund the insurgency.
And in related news:
Fresh cheap heroin headed for New England

Feb 28, 2008

The booming poppy harvest in Afghanistan could soon become New England's heroin problem.
Ahh, the Bush policy of the 'free market' at work.[/snark]

Bush et al were so desperate to invade Iraq that after 6 1/2 years of war in Afghanistan they only manage to control 3 times more area than the Taliban does. And somehow heroin keeps entering our country regardless of the DHS and their 900,000 people on the 'Terrer Watch List.'

Just a quick question: What terrifies you more; The reality of your child being exposed to cheaper heroin or the fantasy of a 'ticking time bomb' somewhere in America?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I am the slime oozin' out from your TV set

I guess one could hardly expect the departure of Karl Rove from the Bush machine to mark any departure from his slimey, skewed take on issues. In an appearance on Hannity and Colmes the other night, Karl showed off his skill as a spin-meister and overall sack of shit as he held the BushCo party line on the Iraq war and twisting Barack Obama's words into meanings that obviously weren't there.

In one segment Rove attempted to show how Obama's clear denunciation of Louis Farrakhan's anti-semetic statements and views wasn't "really" a denunciation because he didn't go far enough by merely saying he denounced him instead of that he "disavowed" him. I'm sure Obama would sigh at the same word games he accused Senator Clinton of using on the same subject and would use a similar reply of "But if the word 'disavow' Karl Rove feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point. And I would disavow and denounce," as the audience would laugh at Karl's pettiness.

Another point where it seemed Karl was stretching things was:
ROVE: Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin - - an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel.
COLMES: Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pin? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn't about a pin? That is his point of view.
ROVE: Alan, I didn't say that. What he said was that people -- he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not -- in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pin. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels.
COLMES: I didn't get that from what he said. What I got --
ROVE: Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism -- quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin.
COLMES: He wasn't questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war.
ROVE: No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I'm not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was.

Wow, he sure worked hard at twisting that one, didn't he? For me (and probably everyone else with a brain) it is obvious that Obama wasn't saying that people who put on flag lapel pins are not patriotic. He simply was saying - correctly - that being patriotic to this country is more than just the gesture of wearing a pin on a lapel. Or waving a flag. Or singing "I'm Proud to be an American", for that matter. It's getting involved in the issues that effect our country. It's not just blindly saying "America - love it or leave it" and letting the government do whatever it wants without question. It's realizing that democracy means debate and discussion over the right course the country should be taking. To just put a flag pin on a lapel and then say "well, I did my part" isn't the true meaning of patriotism. But I guess it is in the Rove vision of the current government where secrecy rules the day and the less questions asked about what BushCo is up to behind closed doors, the better.

Then there was his response to the videotape of Barack's response to John McCain:
MCCAIN: I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws -- after the American troops are withdrawn, then he would send military troops back if al Qaeda established a base in Iraq. I have some news; al Qaeda is in Iraq.
OBAMA: I have some news for John McCain. And that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.
COLMES: That was Barack Obama and John McCain gearing for what many are expecting to be a general election dog fight. We now continue with former Bush adviser Karl Rove. Does Obama not have a point? Iraq is now invaded by al Qaeda because the borders were porous. We didn't protect the borders when we went in there. And the al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same that was in Afghanistan, but re-branded itself that way to align itself with that al Qaeda?
ROVE: Alan, you are wrong. Al Qaeda in Iraq was organized by Zarqawi, one of the top deputies of Osama bin Laden, who was sent from Afghanistan in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban to Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq pledges its allegiance to Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri his number two. And the operational control, day to day, is in Iraq, but the strategic control and the big decisions are by their top leadership. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. They came there because they understand the importance of defeating the west in Iraq and stopping the formation of a Democratic Iraq that would be an ally in the war on terror.
COLMES: It has been reported that they took that name because they wanted the association. But also, how did they get in there? Did we not do a good enough job protecting the borders to allow al Qaeda to invade or get into the country after we went and did an occupation?
ROVE: It has very porous borders. As you know, at least two of the borders with Syria and Iran are borders with enemies, or adversaries of the United States, who are encouraging the threat to the United States in Iraq. Now you can be critical of the ability of the Iraqis and the Americans and our coalition partners to secure the border, but that adds to the necessity of us defeating al Qaeda in Iraq, not add to the argument that Senator Obama was making, which was, as long as al Qaeda is there, get out.
COLMES: As long as you are bringing that up, let me just ask you, McCain said the other day, he has to defend the war and the Bush policies to get elected. How is that going to sit with the American people who pretty much don't agree with that?
ROVE: The question is do the American people want to win or do they want to lose?
Oh yes. It's as simple as that. Just keep throwing billions and billions of dollars into Iraq and victory is assured. Though it would seem that "victory" is in the eye of the beholder, and in the eyes of this administration it has more to do with self interest than what the Iraqi people may or may not want. All we have to do is keep using general buzzwords like "freedom" and "support the troops" and "war on terror" and stay away from talking about how Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, had no WMDs, and how poorly things were handled after the fall of Saddam. No one thought about guarding against looting or even guarding massive stockpiles of ammunition (of which the insurgents are still using against our troops, thank you very much), and the borders were left unprotected which is what allowed in the stampede of outside insurgents. Rove points to the border as being porous, but all those folks didn't come rolling on into Iraq until AFTER we invaded, so if it was porous, it was our poor planning that made it so.
The game they all play is to attack others for being against fixing the mess in Iraq and bypassing talking about how this administration MADE it a mess in the first place.
To me, the whole Iraq fiasco is like someone setting a house on fire and when someone else speaks out against that they counter with "My god, man, this house is on FIRE! We have to stay to put it out. Are you in favor of it burning down?" Completely sidestepping the point that the only reason that house is on fire is because that someone set it on fire in the first place.
And in the case of Iraq, Bush/Rove/Cheney/Ashcroft et al foolishly put the match to it, and left the collective fingers of America burned as a result.

Supplying Smoking Guns to the Mushroom Cloud Crowd

Is our politicians learning? Uhhh, no!
US Defense Chief in India to Push Arms Sales, Military Ties

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates plunged into one of the world’s hottest arms market Tuesday, saying rapidly expanding US-Indian defence ties were in both countries’ interests.

His arrival coincided with news that India successfully tested its first nuclear capable missile from a submerged platform, completing its goal of developing air, land and sea-based ballistic missiles.
“India is the world’s largest democracy. It is in our interest to develop this relationship, just as it is in India’s,” he told reporters in New Delhi after strolling the grounds of the tomb of 16th century Mughal emperor Humayun.
He also expressed hope for completion of a US-Indian civil nuclear technology agreement that has been held up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s communist allies, but said that was not part of his talks here.

Gates flew in from Indonesia, where he also pledged strong US support for arms sales to the Indonesian military and its emergence as a power in southeast Asia.
India traditionally has relied on Russia as its primary military supplier but is now diversifying as the country modernises its military with an eye to China’s parallel drive to develop a military capable of projecting power in the region.
So Bushco & Gates want to sell arms to Indonesia, (the world's 4th most populous country, and had their first free elections in 2004), and to India, (a country with full nuclear capability and close communist ties.)

America sold arms to afghanistan to defeat the USSR, America sold arms to Iran to defeat Iraq, America sold arms to Iraq to defeat Iran.

Is anyone else detecting a trend?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Them Changes

Buddy Miles

R.I.P., Buddy Miles.

Damn, I'm going to miss that voice and those fatback drums. Godspeed you, brother.

SteveAudio: I saw Buddy a few times in the '60s, one time backing up some flashy guitarist named Hendrix at the 2nd Newport Pop Festival, held oddly enough at the long-gone Devonshire Downs Race Track in Northridge, CA. Buddy could play him some drums. Thanks for entertaining us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm a bad, bad man!

Here's my interpretation of the high points of last night's Clinton-Obama debate:

If the government in Iraq tells us to get all the troops out now, and giant spiders suddenly spring forth from the Iraq desert, and rain clouds open up and start dropping poisonous acid rain, and the Earth suddenly starts spinning off-axis, and our troops are crying and very sad, what will you do?

Tim, that's a lot of hypotheticals.

. . .

Sen. Obama, a guy you know likes a bad guy. Do you accept his support?

1st Amendment says I can's censor him, and I have nothing to do with the dude. What's wrong with you?

Russert would be kicked off a middle school newspaper for idiocy like that, which makes him perfect for CNN.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nobody does it better

I think the Democratic Underground has covered just about all of it (from number 6 addressing Ralph Nader):
Sit back and watch Bush spend eight years shredding the Constitution, voiding decades-old international treaties, illegally invading other countries, wiretapping American citizens without a warrant, politicizing the Department of Justice, appointing radical conservative Supreme Court justices, whipping the religious right into an apocalyptic frenzy, sinking the economy into recession, robbing working Americans to pay for generous tax cuts for millionaires and generally destroying America's reputation around the world.
More of the top 10 worst conservatives for this week.


crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

The paper holds their folded faces to the floor, And every day the paper boy brings more.

I knew this was just wrong the first time I read it:
Bombers 'not willing martyrs'

Photos of two women who attacked Baghdad pet markets show signs of Down syndrome, U.S. officials say.

February 3, 2008
The photographs showed the lifeless faces of two dark-haired women with oblique eye fissures, a wide gap between the eyes and a flat nose bridge -- characteristics consistent with Down syndrome.

and then I read:
February 20 2008 Iraq to round up homeless, mentally ill, to prevent bombings
believe it or not I hate being right about wrongs:
US: Bombers Didn't Have Down Syndrome

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

The Profits That Bush Honors ... or ...The Wrath of Kahn

Inside the world of war profiteers
From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.

Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East.
The Pentagon has outsourced crucial troop support jobs while slashing the number of government contract watchdogs.
Last week, the Army pledged to add 1,400 positions to its contracting command.

Former KBR procurement manager Stephen Seamans, who was wearing a wire strapped on by a Rock Island agent, wondered aloud whether to return $65,000 in kickbacks he got from his two companions, executives from the Saudi conglomerate Tamimi Global Co.

One of the men, Tamimi operations director Shabbir Khan, urged him to hide the money by concocting phony business records.
October 2002, five months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Khan threw a birthday party for Seamans at a Tamimi "party house" near the Kuwait base known as Camp Arifjan. Khan "provided Seamans with a prostitute as a present," Rock Island prosecutors wrote in court papers. Driving Seamans back to his quarters, Khan offered kickbacks that would total $130,000.
In April 2003, as American troops poured into Iraq, Seamans gave Khan inside information that enabled Tamimi to secure a $2 million KBR subcontract to establish a mess hall at a Baghdad palace. Seamans submitted change orders that inflated that subcontract to $7.4 million.
By July 2005, Tamimi had secured some 30 KBR troop feeding subcontracts worth $793.5 million, records show. Khan continued to negotiate Iraq war subcontracts for Tamimi until shortly before he was arrested in Rock Island in March 2006.
"If you ever gave Tamimi a hard time, you'd get a call," former KBR subcontract manager Harry DeWolf told the Tribune.

When subcontracts came up for renegotiation, DeWolf said, companies like Tamimi "would say, 'Fine, we're going to pull out all of our people and equipment.' They really had KBR and the government over the barrel."

February 21, 2008 Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war's largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.
Full disclosure: I rearranged a few of the paragraphs in the article to make a timeline. I recommend you read the whole article.

I'll wait ...

... hmm, hmm da, de da, da, dada, da duh, da, de dah ...

good, you're back! And in related news:
Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR's 4th quarter profits up 65%

Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. said Tuesday fourth-quarter profit rose 65 percent, lifted by contributions from natural-gas projects, work in Iraq and a tax benefit related to a 2006 asset sale.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Pentagonal Politics

Bump and Update:
Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, said Tuesday he has no reason to doubt Barack Obama's recent account by an Army captain that a rifle platoon in Afghanistan didn't have enough soldiers or weapons.
Original post:
During the Texas Democratic debate
Barack Obama [said] the war in Iraq, which he opposes, has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.
"You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," Obama said. "Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq,"

"And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.
Now Obama's point is so obviously true you just know the wrongwingers will swiftboat tiny details to make it seem as if the whole thing was made up.

And the AP article quoted above, which complained about Obama not giving the captain's name, is true to form by not even bothering to quote anyone:
"A platoon does not have to consist of 39, but can have between 16 to 40 soldiers, according to standard Army unit organization. It is also commanded by a lieutenant and not a captain."
ABC's Jake Tapper talked to Obama's source, and after noting the wrongwing sites and their swiftboating, wrote
I called the Obama campaign this morning to chat about this story, and was put in touch with the Army captain in question.

He told me his story, which I found quite credible, though for obvious reasons he asked that I not mention his name or certain identifying information.

Short answer: He backs up Obama's story.

The longer answer is worth telling, though.
It's worth reading the rest, and in an odd way, so are the comments.

Even the Pentagon got involved in the pushback:
Pentagon doubts Obama account of equipment problem

"I find that account pretty hard to imagine," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

"Despite the stress that we readily acknowledge on the force, one of the things that we do is make sure that all of our units and service members that are going into harm's way are properly trained, equipped and with the leadership to be successful," he said.
OK, the wrongwingers are relying on Swiftboat 101, attack a tiny detail and ignore the truth of the point: the war in Iraq has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.

But the Pentagon attacked the truth of the point. And that's just hypocritical.

Soldiers, officers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, generals, governors of states that needed their National Guard to respond to natural disasters, all have made Obama's same point.

Examples: 18/09/2003 Troops shortage may force US to quit Balkans
4/22/2004 Troop buildup in Iraq exposes critical shortages
1/30/2007 Boosting U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500 would create major logistical hurdles for the Army and Marine Corps
3/30/2007 The military is so short of equipment that it will take years after the war in Iraq ends to bring it up to authorized levels, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs told a House subcommittee Thursday.

Families have to hold bake sales for body armor.
There were ammunition shortages.
During the conduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003, there were several reports of ammunition shortages experienced by combat units.
Even police departments are short of ammo due to the war.

Our military is stretched so thin it has had to hire more contractors to work in Iraq than they have soldiers.

Our troops were improperly equipped for the invasion.
Our troops were improperly equipped for the occupation.
Our troops were improperly taken care of mentally and physically if they returned home.

But of course none of that matters because Barack Obama said an Army captain told him a rifle platoon should have 39 members.

To paraphrase former SecDef Rumsfeld, you go to war because of the politicians you have, not the politicians you wish you had.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, February 25, 2008

Censorship in Alabama

From Harper's Magazine:
CBS aired its long-awaited feature on the prosecution and imprisonment of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman this evening at 7:00. In a stunning move of censorship, the transmission was blocked across the northern third of Alabama by CBS affiliate WHNT, which is owned by interests of the Bass Family. Those who were in the zone of censorship or who missed it, can catch the whole segment here.
They're not even trying to hide it anymore.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Will you guide me now for I can't see a reason

Right-wing bloggers often display a surprising lack of irony, lack of sense of self, when they criticize the Left:
Try as I might, I found it hard to rant and rail against liberals for their incredibly stupid, delibertately dishonest caterwauling about interrupting the Tom Lantos memorial service with a procedural motion on FISA when it was the Speaker’s admitted fault that the motion was unavoidable under the rules and that a scheduling snafu had occurred to boot.

Did that stop the “Republicans polticize the dead” crowd from throwing a tantrum worthy of any two year old? Of course not. And to make the criticism ascend to the level of sublime irony, it seems our lefty friends forget that Google has gone public and is actually making a little money now. If I typed in the name “Paul Wellstone” and added “Memorial Service” to the search, you would come across a story so profoundly disturbing that you would be forgiven for wretching while reading it.

. . . There have been other examples of the left using dead people like political clubs. Accusing the GOP of doing so when a simple reading of the rules would have given the lie to that meme propelled the left wingosphere beyond contempt and into the stratosphere of malicious mischief.

Well, that’s too many words wasted on this Right-wing pundit, but I wanted you to see and feel the depths of his idiocy.

First, the alleged debauchery of the Wellstone memorial has been thoroughly debunked; this guy wasn’t there, he merely believed Hannity, Limbaugh, et al.

But more importantly, regarding "politicizing the dead", I give you: Reagan:
Lifeguard, athlete, movie star, governor, president -- there wasn't much that Ronald
Reagan did not do in his lifetime.


Romney said Reagan in 2006:
The day after the midterm elections, Gov. Mitt Romney, reflecting on the GOP's punishing losses, issued a clarion call to conservatives: "We must return to the common-sense Reagan Republican ideals."

Three days later, at a State House Veterans Day ceremony, Romney invoked the former president again, saying, "As Ronald Reagan once said, 'I have seen four wars during my lifetime and none of them began because America was too strong."'

McCain said Reagan:
So when John McCain said, after his victory in South Carolina, that he was a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution and is running for president "not to be something, but to do something" he was making clear that on a range of issues -- from defending the nation to reducing the size of government -- he would bring a new vitality to the Reagan revolution.

Thompson said Reagan:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday said he’s more of a Reagan Republican than former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.).

Huckabee said Reagan:
“I appreciate his conversion, but some of us were with Ronald Reagan in the early years,” Huckabee said.

It’s Reagan TV: All Reagan, All The Time.

Look, the McCain link above, from the delusional R. Emmett Tyrrell's American Spectator, shows what a farce the Reagan idolatry is. Read this:
Many conservatives fail to understand that Reagan's tax cuts had two objectives -- to promote economic recovery, of course, but also to "starve the beast," by reducing the funds available for government growth. Although Reagan did in fact successfully cut domestic discretionary spending, later Republican presidents and congressional majorities spoiled the brand that Reagan had created for his party. They did it, however, over the strong objections of John McCain, who has been the most consistent advocate in Congress for Reagan's original vision of a smaller and less intrusive government.

The Reagan coalition is still out there, a majority of Americans -- Republicans, Democrats, and Independents -- who believe that the size of government and its role in the economy should be reduced.

Yeah, except that most Americans believe that government can solve problems, without generating massive cash infusions to the private sector to go into Donald Trump's and Halliburton's checking account.

And that tax cuts you yearn for? Reagan had no real part in that:
Reagan's people shoved his program through the Congress during the early Reagan years. James A. Baker, David Stockman and other Reaganites ran roughshod over Tip O'Neill and the divided Democrats in the House and Senate, and won every critical vote. This is because of the GOP majority in the Senate and the GOP-"Boll Weevil" (or "Dixiecrat") coalition in the House. Phil Gramm was a House Democrat at the time, and he even sponsored the most important Reagan budgets.

Only after the huge Reagan recession -- made worse by utterly failed Reagan "Voodoo Economics" - did Democrats regain some control in Congress. They halted some Reagan initiatives, but couldn't do much on their own. That was a time of gridlock.

Six years into Reagan's presidency, Democrats retook the Senate, and began to reverse some of Reagan's horrendous policies. By that time, Reaganomics had "accomplished" quite a bit: doubled the national debt, caused the S&L crisis, and nearly wrecked the financial system.

So politicize the dead, who didn't do what you claimed they did, and worship at their altar.

Seems like a new religion has been founded.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gassing the poor and the helpless

No, not Saddam, George Bush:

Hope, Arkansas (AHN) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that there were high levels of formaldehyde in travel trailers and mobile homes that were used by victims of hurricane Katrina and Rita as emergency housing.

FEMA officials said that the residents of these trailers will be transferred as quickly as possible into hotels and apartments because exposing them to formaldehyde makes them sick. They said that transferring them will be beneficial for those who already have symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as the children, elderly persons or occupants.

Formaldehyde is a gas at room temperature. When exposed to this, it can cause burning eyes and/or nose, coughing and difficulty breathing. It is also shown to be carcinogenic - causing nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer and possibly leukemia also.

CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding said that higher temperatures may cause formaldehyde levels to go up. She also added that the high levels were found in December and January and that the people should be relocated before summer.

Heckovajob, Georgie!

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Exit, stage right

Bait Talk Expressed

By now you've all read the stories about John McCain being in bed with the same lobbyists he supposedly condemns.

There's been a lot of analysis, a lot of fainting couch, hand wringing from the MSM standard republican outlets, (e.g. why, oh, why would anyone ever report on sex scandals), a lot of the story behind the story reporting, but I have yet to see anything as good as my friend and co-blogger Bill Arnett wrote on VidiotSpeak:
GOP collective sigh, "Oh, well. At least it was with a woman."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's all part of my rock 'n' roll fantasy, It's all part of my rock 'n' roll dream

A belated note: Scot Halpin passed away February 9th. Who you say? Exactly, The Who's drummer ... for 15 minutes.

Unfortunately the best article about Scot is behind a subscription only firewall of the newspaper in the small town that Scot called home from 1995 until his death.

Here are some excerpts from the article sent to me:
Gig with The Who was a footnote in a life well-lived
By Mike Leonard [...]
February 17, 2008

Most people who met or became friends with Scot Halpin never knew that he occupied an amazing little place in rock 'n' roll history.

They knew the tall, gentle Halpin as an artist, an illustrator and the bass player for various local musical ensembles
, including Carlyn Lindsey and SnakeDoctor.
Rolling Stone magazine named Halpin as its "Pick-up Player of the Year" after he came up out of the audience at a show in late 1973 and filled in for the band's incapacitated drummer, Keith Moon.
A Bloomington resident since 1995, Halpin died recently at age 54 of an inoperable brain tumor. He had already been diagnosed with the tumor, but did not mention it, when interviewed for this column in 2006.
The drummer and artist would go on to meet his wife, Robin, in a painting class in 1978. Together, they would work in graphic art and design while keeping a hand in music and the management of a nightclub. By the time the couple relocated to Bloomington, Scot had switched from drums to bass as his primary instrument.
A few months later, Halpin suffered an on-stage seizure so violent he dislocated both of his shoulders. It was then he learned of his brain tumor.

He continued to play music, however, and his friend, musical collaborator and woodworker Jerry Farnsworth, helped him modify a bass guitar into a super-lightweight instrument that he could play with the help of a harness that kept his shoulders in place.
From another city he lived in:
Halpin was composer in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and played with and composed for several bands. He also illustrated children’s books and donated artwork to various fundraising events.
And the surviving members of The Who also noted his untimely death.

I never met Scot, but to me he's the epitome of a good musician: He could step in and play with the best. He didn't brag about his gift. He participated in and added to whatever community he lived in.

In short, he did good work and good works. I aspire to the same.

Rest in peace Scot.

And I said no no no

Habits are so hard to break. Like ignoring the wishes of the people and forcing them to accept someone they didn't vote for.

Think Progress:
Despite the defeat of President Pervez Musharraf’s party in the Pakistani parliamentary elections, the Bush administration is still trying to “construct a coalition that will keep Mr. Musharraf in power as president.” Officials admit that Musharraf “remains the administration’s preferred Pakistani leader.”

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's president will not step down as head of state and intends to serve out his five-year term, his spokesman said, despite a sweeping victory by his opponents in an election that President Bush on Wednesday judged to be fair.

But with the vote count nearly complete, two opposition parties have won enough seats to form a new government, though they will likely fall short of the two-thirds needed to impeach the president.

The result is seen as a major political setback for Musharraf, a key ally of Washington in fighting Taliban and al-Qaida, whose popularity has plummeted over the past year. The victors were secular political parties; Islamic hard-liners fared badly.

Bush, the Pakistani leader's chief foreign backer, declared Wednesday that the elections were a "victory in the war on terror."

"There were elections held that have been judged as being fair, and the people have spoken," Bush said in Ghana during his current trip to Africa.

Let me interrupt the article to point out the supportive threat ... statement Georgie makes:
"It's now time for the newly elected folks to show up and form their government," Bush said. "The question then is 'Will they be friends of the United States?' I certainly hope so.
You called Osama and his band of merry men 'folks', too, George. Just saying...

So Pakistan tries to figure out what to do next:
As the fallout from Pakistan's general elections comes into focus, one enormous question mark has emerged: who will be included in the new government? Some major domestic political players have made hasty, if strategic, retreats from the government-making process and have adopted policies of wait and see.

Meanwhile, Washington has moved to mend bridges between embattled President Pervez Musharraf and the opposition camps in order to preserve its interests in the regional "war on terror". Analysts believe that if Islamabad is gripped by further political turmoil, and if Musharraf exits the corridors of power, the US-led operation could flounder.

"We shall prefer to sit in the opposition and would rather provide support for the issues of national interest instead of making any bid to be a part of any set-up," Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, secretary general of the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q), told Asia Times Online. "I think there are a lot of issues where any future set-up needs our support, especially in the 'war on terror', and we would provide our support while sitting in the opposition benches."
Most Pakistanis view this vote as a denial of American might:
Washington officially applauded the election process in Pakistan, which it termed transparent, among other praises. At the same time, however, the US has grave concerns that the vulnerability of a new government, or its unwillingness to cooperate with the US, could spell doom for the "war on terror".

"I suggest that political parties should demand that until Musharraf's resignation they would not take the oath in the parliament. Because, if they take the oath, it means they legitimize Musharraf's presidency," said retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who has recently played a major role in organizing Pakistani veterans' groups to demand retired general Musharraf's resignation.

Gul was optimistic that the present vote against Musharraf and his allies was a vote against American domination of the region. He expressed hope that eventually mass support would push Islamabad to abandon all military operations in tribal areas.

"Americans cannot do anything if we stop the operations in tribal areas. If they stop military aid, they are welcome to do so. We don't need military aid. All we need is economic aid and they just cannot afford to stop it. Why? Because all NATO supply lines pass through Pakistan and if they stop economic aid, Pakistan can stop supply lines which would end their regional war on terror theater once and for all. This is the biggest crime of Musharraf - that he could not understand the strategic value of Pakistan in the region and could not exploit it," said Gul.
Amid all this, who is watching ... you know... the nukes? India is freaking out:

NEW DELHI (AFP) — India should be deeply concerned about the possibility of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists, a top official was reported as saying.

"The nature of the dangers which nuclear weapons pose has dramatically intensified with the growing risk that such weapons may be acquired by terrorists..." Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy Shyam Saran said on Monday

"The mounting concern over the likelihood that in a situation of chaos, Pakistan's nuclear assets may fall into the hands of jihadi elements... underscores how real this danger has become," Saran was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India at a lecture in New Delhi.


The United States and other Western countries have expressed mounting concern over the security of Islamabad's estimated 50 warheads, with Pakistani forces battling a growing insurgency by Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

So what will Musharraf do?:
The remaining question is what will happen to Musharraf. Among those who have come into personal contact with him, there is a sense that he will understand the depth of his current predicament.

"He is an intelligent man. He will know he is not in a position to dictate things," says Mahmood Shah, who helped coordinate Musharraf's policies in the tribal belt as former secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. "Even if he tries to cling to power, it will be very difficult," Mr. Shah continues.

The coming days or weeks will be a test of whether Musharraf's legendary survival instincts have their limits, say others. "He will first try to see if he has any future working with these political parties," says Ikram Sehgal, editor of Defence Journal. "If it is not tenable, he will lay out a plan to say good-bye."

"He knows very well that the Army will not support him" if he challenges the parliament, Mr. Sehgal adds.

Should Musharraf prove confrontational, however, Zardari has said he would not rule out impeachment. This is particularly bad news for Musharraf, since Zardari's PPP has generally been more tolerant of Musharraf than Sharif's PML-N, which has categorically refused to work with Musharraf, partly because Musharraf overthrew Sharif in his 1999 coup.

The process of impeachment is relatively simple, requiring only a two-thirds vote in the general assembly and the Senate. The Senate is still filled with Musharraf's allies, since it is not up for reelection until next year. But senators might be tempted to abandon Musharraf if his situation looks untenable. The Army, however, would be loath to see its former leader humiliated in such a way and could step in to convince Musharraf to go, if it came to that point, says Sehgal.
crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Around Blogtopia*

Happy blogiversary to Maru and all the crankpots at WTF is it now?!?

From Crooks & Liars we find out that
Pentagon balked at pleas from officers in field for safer vehicles
Iraqi troops got MRAPs; Americans waited

The MRAP was not new to the Pentagon. The technology had been developed in South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1970s, making it older than Kincaid and most of the other troops killed by homemade bombs. The Pentagon had tested MRAPs in 2000, purchased fewer than two dozen and sent some to Iraq. They were used primarily to protect explosive ordnance disposal teams, not to transport troops or to chase Iraqi insurgents.

Even as the Pentagon balked at buying MRAPs for U.S. troops, USA TODAY found that the military pushed to buy them for a different fighting force: the Iraqi army.
So the Pentagon has known since at least 2000 about these vehicles, refused to buy them for US troops, and one version costs about as much as an 'up-armored' humvee. Tell me again how bush et al support the troops?

VIA Talking Points Memo we learn that a US court shut down a whole website with a permanent injunction. Here's Wired's article about it:
Cayman Islands Bank Gets Wikileaks Taken Offline in U.S.

Wikileaks, the whistleblower site that recently leaked documents related to prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, was taken offline last week by its U.S. host after posting documents that implicate a Cayman Islands bank in money laundering and tax evasion activities.

In a pretty extraordinary ex-parte move, the Julius Baer Bank and Trust got Dynadot, the U.S. hosting company for Wikileaks, to agree not only to take down the Wikileaks site but also to "lock the domain name to prevent transfer of the domain name to a different domain registrar." A judge in the U.S. District Court for Northern California signed off on the stipulation between the two parties last week without giving Wikileaks a chance to address the issue in court.
Why would a US judge, (Jeffrey Steven White) rule for a Swiss company operating in the Caymans and order a US ISP to scrub their Domain Name Server(s) of the existence of this website?

And the judge, (Jeffrey Steven White), didn't rule that only the offending documents should be removed, he didn't say it was TRO while he resolved the litigation, he told the ISP to scrub their entire DNS as if the site had never existed.

Yeah Judge, good luck with that. Maybe next you can rule that the pee be taken out of a swimming pool.

But the scariest part is that Judge Jeffrey Steven White ordered the site to maintain records of anyone who had ever accessed the site.

You can still access the site thru their IP# and they also have mirrors worldwide.

Not to mention the 3rd party sites that have mirrored the Wikileaks site.

Here are some lowlights of the court's ruling.

The whole ruling can be viewed here (warning PDF.)

BTW, guess who appointed Judge Jeffrey S. White to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California?

Yep, that would be Bush.

SteveAudio: I agree with Happy Blogiversary to the crew at WTF is it now, great stuff!

*(y, wksctp!)

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

The Revolution Will Not Be A Podcast


The revolution will not be obtained by pounding back 4 Red Bulls and a breakfast burrito 12 minutes before work starts and hoping the buzz lasts until lunch.

The revolution will not be sung by Bob Geldof, Bono and Al Gore at 110 decibels 75 feet from the stage for 35 dollars a t-shirt, and $2.50 for the bottled water.

The revolution will not be pushed like a downer cow on a forklift into the mass consciousness meat grinder for mental mastication.

The revolution will not be strapped onto a shiny aluminum wing, and dropped upon a rapt citizenry greeting it as a liberator.

The revolution will not be brought to you by anyone who thinks they can put a dollar from your pocket into theirs from it.

The revolution will not be a battle of semiotics, semantics, semi-colons, and who stole which trite stump speech phrase from whom and when.

The revolution will not be handed to you by bank presidents, ex-presidents, or dead presidents as your birthright.

The revolution will not have a zesty catch phrase that will make it easy to 'go viral' on the populace, perhaps with the aid of a nifty jingle or a celebrity pitchman fresh from rehab looking to score.

The revolution will not help you to come to terms with all your traumatic past lives or right the wrongs of previously ignorant generations, but not necessarily those that may include your own bloodline of course.

The revolution will not be on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CPAC or anything else that people sit in front of and listen incuriously to other sitting people telling them what to think.

The revolution will not follow Britney Spears around until she does something zany to amuse you.

The revolution will not be downloaded for free and burned to a cheap CD-R as a way of 'sticking it to the man'.

The revolution will not leave a luscious taste in your mouth like cheap lead paint on a Chinese children's toy.

The revolution will not be supported by anyone who has a vested interest in the status quo, or who wants one just like it for Christmas.

The revolution will not be debated seriously by any pundit intent on playing the incessant game of three-card Monte for fun and profit that passes for political discourse in America.

The revolution is not guaranteed under the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

The revolution will not be emblazoned across a pair of jiggling chesticles or a deliciously curved rump in order to appeal to your lower nature, nor will it help you to find the ideal mate who is sensitive, caring, yet dynamite in the sack.

The revolution will not be offered as a bonus feature on a director's cut DVD, after the blooper reel.

The Revolution will not be a podcast.

The Revolution will be live.


'Respect to the originator'

Update: To everyone stopping by from Crooks & Liars, thanks! And please click on the "Home" link at the bottom to see what else we do around here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

All we have to do now is take these lies and make them true somehow

Bob "Prince of Darkness" Novakula never ceases to amaze. This time it's the evil trial lawyers who hate our freedoms and want Al-Qaeda to win:
The true reason for blocking the bill was Senate-passed retroactive immunity to protect from lawsuits private telecommunications firms asked to eavesdrop by the government. The nation's torts bar, vigorously pursuing such suits, has spent months lobbying hard against immunity.

The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party's most important financial base, would be more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the phone companies for giving individuals' personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant. Mike McConnell, the nonpartisan director of national intelligence, says delay in congressional action deters cooperation in detecting terrorism.

Look, you bastard, just stop it! First, McConnell is hardly nonpartisan. He goes on Fox to spout this crap:
On the February 17 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace again falsely suggested that the U.S. government will not be able to "monitor communications among terrorism suspects" now that the Protect America Act (PAA) has expired. Introducing an interview with Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, Wallace asserted: "A law which gives President Bush powers to monitor communications among terrorism suspects expired at midnight." Later in the program, Wallace told National Public Radio senior political correspondent and Fox News contributor Mara Liasson: "[A]t some point in the fall, [Republican presidential candidate] John McCain's gonna say when there was a question of whether or not you wanted to give us power to -- to listen in to Al Qaeda, the Democrats voted no."

And Bob, do you even bother to try and understand your own words:
. . . giving individuals' personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant . . .
As a law & order loving conservative, you'd think you'd have a problem with, you know, breaking the law. But as long as it's done for authoritarian Right-wing reasons, it's OK.

And this:
Amanda Carpenter, a columnist, has prepared a spreadsheet showing that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in the telecommunications suits have contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes. Of the 29 Democratic senators who voted against the FISA bill last Tuesday, 24 took money from the trial lawyers (as did two absent senators, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). Eric A. Isaacson of San Diego, one of the telecommunications plaintiffs' lawyers, contributed to the recent unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd, who led the Senate fight against the bill containing immunity.

Yeah, those damned trial lawyers, And their interest in the law, and stuff. I'm sure the Townhall columnist also prepared a spreadsheet showing the multi-national defense contracters who contribute to Right-wing politicians.

Bob, you disappoint. Your hackery is weak this time. I doubt that you even believe it, but you still have to say it. Like a third-rate actor mouthing lines from "Camelot" at a dinner theater in Visalia, you read your lines as written for you, regardless of how absurd they sound.

The reviews are in, Bob. Show's closing real soon, you'll be on a bus back to Podunk in no time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

When Bush tells you to go shopping

And you don't want to .... have the terrorists won?:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment fell sharply in early February to levels associated with previous recessions, dragged down by concerns a bleak economic outlook would raise the unemployment rate, a survey showed on Friday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers index of consumer sentiment dropped to 69.6, the lowest reading since February 1992, and below analysts' median forecast for a preliminary reading of 76.3.

The index was at 78.4 at the end of January.

"The sentiment index has only been this low during the recessions of the mid 1970s, the early 1980s and the early 1990s," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.


Pessimism was widespread among households of all incomes and age groups, with half the consumers surveyed expecting declines in real incomes and higher unemployment in the year ahead.

In addition, 86 percent of consumers believed the economy was in decline, the highest number since 1982. The current economic conditions index fell to 85.4 in early February, the lowest level since October 1992, and below a reading of 94.4 at the end of January.

(crossposted at Rants from the Rookery)

Friday, February 15, 2008

My kingdom corrupt with dissent, Your sins erupt by my intent

UPDATED for Correction*:
BAE: secret papers reveal threats from Saudi prince

Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday's high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.

The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.
The campaigners argued yesterday that when BAE failed at its first attempt to stop the case, it changed tactics. Having argued it should not be investigated in order to promote arms sales, it then recruited ministers and their Saudi associates to make the case that "national security" demanded the case be covered up.
Ahh, Bush's favorite 'ally' in the War On Terrer, Saudia Arabia, the country that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from, (BTW, zero came from Iraq or Iran), the country that provided the $$ for 9/11, the country that Osama Bin Laden came from, just happens to have received 1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), in a bribe from BAE. And then Saudia Arabia threatened Britain with more terrorist attacks if Britain prosecuted the bribes. So Britain's PM at the time, Tony Blair, (AKA Bush's lapdog), stopped the investigations.

Personally, I don't think it was the threat so much as Blair being one of the bribed. A billion dollars can buy a lot of politicians. Speaking of which:
Bush approves BAE Armor bid
Washington | June 23, 2007

THE Bush administration approved BAE's $US4.1 billion ($4.8 billion) takeover of Armor Holdings, ending speculation that the transaction could come under scrutiny in the wake of bribery allegations at the British defence company.

Armor, which makes armour for Humvees, said in regulatory filings that its takeover by BAE was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), the secretive inter-agency panel that vets deals on national security grounds, after a standard 30-day review.

In electing not to subject the deal to a further 45-day investigation, the Bush administration has sent a strong signal that it maintains a strong and trusting relationship with BAE, one of the largest US defence contractors.
The company is trusted by the Pentagon, people familiar with the group say, because its US assets are held by a separate US subsidiary that is overseen by an all-American board, including former congressman Lee Hamilton.
Gee, would that be the Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission?

The commission that gave a pass to the Saudi's involvement in 9/11?

Yep, that's the guy.

1.6+ billion dollars buys a lot. 4.1 BILLION DOLLARS buys even more.

*Correction: "just happens to have spent 1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), on bribing British politicians" was changed to "1,000,000,000 Pounds, (about 1.6 billion dollars at the time), in a bribe from BAE."

I sincerely regret the error.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Max And The Marginalized


Regular and occasional readers of my musings might infer from my music-related posts that I don't really dig a lot of new music ('new', meaning released in the last decade or so), although that's not necessarily true.

The reality is that there is so much music in the world that just barely catching up with the near-infinite back catalog available to thirsty ears (in addition to indulging oneself in old favorites) leaves precious little time for the future, especially a future perceived in explicitly corporate or predictably commercial terms.
Being somewhat cynical about the machinations of industry and the preponderance of mockingbirds that outweighs genuine talent, I hesitate to poison the well for those younger than myself who may find grandeur where I find studied derivativeness. Inculcating disappointment in the New Heroes is not what I'm about.

I'm also hesitant to wrap my extremely limited infamy like a burning tire around the neck of a young band by way of endorsement..."That sicko with the skeevy pictures says he likes them?" - Just what a burgeoning talent needs, that sort of anvil to the foot.

However, it is always a pleasure when one finds that they can reciprocate appreciation.
These stalwart fellows contacted me asking permission to use some of my works, and as is my wont I gave them a listen in return. I found a lot of things to like...Aggression, consciousness, stylistic depth, and prolific creativity.

Thus, I recommend to those with an interest...Max and The Marginalized.

'A few more bands like this, and our troubles will be over very quickly'


Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's torture, it's torture, it's torture

US judge steps in to torture row

In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, [Justice Scalia] said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.

"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.

"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game.

"How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"
Jeebus, I'm so sick of these morons and their fantasies about Jack Bauer. It is "extraordinary" for a justus of the US Supreme Court to try to justus-ify torture. We've signed treaties, we've passed laws, and regardless of what scaliawag sez, waterboarding is water torture.

"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime." Actually the 8th amendment says: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

INAL, but I don't see anything in the 8th that says only punishment for the guilty falls within its guidelines. It seems to me to also incorporate people just charged with a crime, (that 'excessive bail' terminology is the key.)

Besides the fact that when the CIA tortured suspects there was no ticking bomb! And they didn't torture them to find out about the future but about their past. And guess what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to after they water tortured him:
* The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City
* A failed "shoe bomber" operation
* The October 2002 attack in Kuwait
* The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia
* A plan for a "second wave" of attacks on major U.S. landmarks to be set in the spring or summer of 2002 after the 9/11 attacks, which includes more hijackings of commercial airlines and having them flown into various buildings in the U.S. including the Library Tower in Los Angeles , the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York
* Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and in Singapore
* A plan to blow up the Panama Canal
* Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter
* A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City
* A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks
* Plans to "destroy" Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London
* A planned attack on "many" nightclubs in Thailand
* A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets
* A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel
* Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002.
* Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia
* Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok
* Sending several "mujahideen" into Israel to survey "strategic targets" with the intention of attacking them
* The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya
* The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya
* Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea
* Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey
* Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them
* A plot to attack NATO's headquarters in Europe
* Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the "Bojinka Operation") to bomb 12 American passenger jets
* The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines.
* "Shared responsibility" for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II
* Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
* An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, "owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger"
* The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
BTW, he also shot Lincoln and both Kennedys. Confessions obtained thru torture are not trustworthy. It is impossible that KSM was involved in all those events.

"incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime" How interesting. The Gitmo detainees are incarcerated indefinitely. Without charges, without trials, except for these 6 detainees they're 'prosecuting' ... just in time for the election.

"courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions" Uhh no! Not if it would incriminate them, and I tend to think telling where you planted a bomb would be self-incriminating.

"how severe can the infliction of pain be?" Pain = torture. That's simple enough. There can be no infliction of pain.

Any questions?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Dedicated to the One I Love

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Pic from here

A Sailor's Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day Baby!

Happy Valentine's Day


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shower the people you love with love

Some time ago, the lovely and talented Darkblack, before he actually joined the team here, created a fantabulous graphic that we haven't used in a while. Today it springs forth:

From Think Progress:

Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.

The New York Times Times notes that “the White House has long said Mr. Bush will veto the bill, saying it ‘would prevent the president from taking the lawful actions necessary to protect Americans from attack in wartime.’”

After Bush vetoes the bill, McCain will again be confronted with a vote to either stand with President Bush or stand against torture. He indicated with his vote today where he will come down on that issue.

John McCain: He was against waterboarding before he was for it.

Bastard. McCain is our Douchbag of the Day.

Your time is gonna come

I started this humble blog on 9/11/04, thus I have never had to opportunity to support a candidate in a national primary until now. I've held back to see how things shake out, and I harbor no illusions that I will influence any of the millions thousands, dozen or so regular readers who visit here.

And since we added a vast array of talented co-bloggers, I have made no demands on them regarding supporting any candidate. If they want to, that's fine. Or not, also fine.

Pam & I definitely leaned toward Edwards. His views toward poverty, his apology for the Iraq AUMF vote, and other positions, all felt like the way to go. So we were sad when he dropped out. (Loved Kucinich, recognized his unelectablilty)

And while we both agree that we will support any Democrat (not you, Lieberman, siddown, shuddup) over any Republican candidate, our support now goes to Barack Obama.

Every Obama position isn't perfect except in re: Iraq. And clearly, Hillary is a smart, able politician, who comes down on the correct side of most issues. That said, it's about electability, (see: above). We need to elect a Democrat. Period.

There was a time when we both grudgingly felt St. John de StraightTalk was an honorable man. Sadly those days are gone forever. John, I'm really sorry that you were a POW during a war that I almost went to Canada to avoid. You were brave, and a hero.

But that's over now, and you've put on the robe and picked up the scepter of GWBush and his utterly failed Iraq adventure. And you've caved on virtually every issue that once made you a 'maverick'. You've shown yourself to be a craven hypocrite who only desires power and position, abandoning principles for politics.

And Huckabee? Nice man, sense of humor, completely wrong about most everything, and a budding theocrat who would sell the Constitution out to the Christionist movement. Might want to re-read the 1st Amendment and Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."


Anyway, we'll support virtually any Democrat against ANY Republican, but for now, our person is Barack Obama. Yes, Hillary won the CA primary, but still, Barack's our guy. And lest anyone think I'm anti-feminist, I've had 3 fairly major surgeries in the last 15 years. 2 of the 3 surgeons were women. 'Nuff said.

Oh, and Mark Kleiman: you knew we'd come around.

And, love the red signs. Screw the idea that Republicans are red, Democrats are blue.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And the one thing that is true is, I can always count on lyin' to you

Bush said regarding the election:
"Prosperity and peace are in the balance"
The bizarro world has become so bizarre that bush actually spoke the truth. Prosperity and peace are in the balance.

Before bush came into power we did have prosperity.

Bush inherited the largest budget surplus in history and turned it into the largest deficit.

Before bush came into power we did have peace.

9/11 didn't change everything. Bush changed everything. Bush started the warrantless wiretapping before 9/11. Bush wanted to overthrow Iraq before 9/11. Bush started trashing the US Constitution's separation of religion and politics as soon as he got power.

Bush unilaterally 'unsigned' treaties, specifically the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, the International Criminal Courts treaty and the Kyoto Emissions treaty.

Bush has repeatedly declared himself above the law by issuing more signing statements than all the presidents who came before him combined.

So if you want peace and prosperity vote for a Democrat, they suck less.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Headline of the Day

Ex-Florida prison boss: Drunken orgies tainted system
Gee, ya think!?

Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail

Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

After 18 months of research, RAND submitted a report in the summer of 2005 called “Rebuilding Iraq.” RAND researchers provided an unclassified version of the report along with a secret one, hoping that its publication would contribute to the public debate on how to prepare for future conflicts.
The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies.
The Defense Department led by Donald H. Rumsfeld was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.”

The State Department led by Colin L. Powell produced a voluminous study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of “uneven quality” and “did not constitute an actionable plan.”

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

The regulations that govern the Army’s relations with the Arroyo Center, the division of RAND that does research for the Army, stipulate that Army officials are to review reports in a timely fashion to ensure that classified information is not released. But the rules also note that the officials are not to “censor” analysis or prevent the dissemination of material critical of the Army.
The research was formally sponsored by Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, who was then the chief operations officer for the Army and now oversees Army forces in the Middle East, and Lt. Gen. David Melcher, who had responsibility for the Army’s development and works now on budget issues.
General Lovelace provided a statement through a spokesman at his headquarters in Kuwait.

“The RAND study simply did not deliver a product that could have assisted the Army in paving a clear way ahead; it lacked the perspective needed for future planning by the U.S. Army,” he said.

A Pentagon official who is familiar with the episode offered a different interpretation: Army officials were concerned that the report would strain relations with a powerful defense secretary and become caught up in the political debate over the war. “The Army leaders who were involved did not want to take the chance of increasing the friction with Secretary Rumsfeld,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to alienate senior military officials.
I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to why the unclassified report was hidden for 3 years.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Monday, February 11, 2008

We killed number 3! Number 7? 22! We are winning!

Pakistani forces kill one Taliban guy:

Islamabad, Pakistan (AHN) - The Pakistani military said government security forces shot and killed a key figure in the Taliban organization fighting Afghan and NATO forces and captured four others in an encounter Baluchistan province, southwestern Pakistan near the Afghan post Monday.

Lt. Col. Baseer Haider Malik said Mansoor Dadullah, brother of slain Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah and four others, were cornered in Qila SAifullah, Baluchistan town, province in Pakistan at around 10am local time.

Which proves that Musharraf is dealing with terrorism?:

But the second attack in eight months on Mr. Sherpao, 64, who was until recently his nation’s most senior law enforcement official, left him more frustrated and more outspoken about the failure of the government to respond aggressively to the rapidly spreading Taliban insurgency that is seeking to destabilize Pakistan.

The weakness of the Pakistani police and the army response to determined and religiously motivated Taliban fighters was allowing the insurgency to get stronger day by day, he said.

“The police are scared,” Mr. Sherpao said. “They don’t want to get involved.” The Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that could help in tracking down leads on suicide bombers, was “too stressed, fighting all over,” he said. The Pakistan Army has forces in the tribal areas where the militants have built their sanctuaries but the soldiers have remained in their headquarters. “They are not moving around,” he said. “That’s their strategy.”


In most cases, Mr. Sherpao said, the police have had a boilerplate approach to solving the suicide bombings. They have blamed them on Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of a new association of Taliban militia in the tribal areas, who has been cited by Washington as having links to Al Qaeda, and left it at that, Mr. Sherpao said. “Not one suicide bombing has been resolved,” he said. “They just link it to Baitullah Mehsud, and that’s all.”

The director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden, said last week that he believed terror networks directed by Mr. Mehsud were responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the opposition leader and former prime minister of Pakistan.

In a measure of the fast moving strength of the jihadists, Mr. Sherpao said the militants’ bases were no longer confined to North and South Waziristan, two districts inside the tribal area that have long been considered training grounds for suicide bombers.

The militants were now spread across the entire tribal region, including the district of Mohmand, which abuts the village of Sherpao and is close to Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province, he said.

Three months ago, Mohmand was free of the Taliban, Mr. Sherpao said. Now, he said, the district was being used as a base to strike at the area around his village, and the bigger town of Charsadda where Mr. Sherpao survived a suicide bomb attack at a political rally last April.

But in reality:
If victory is redefined as eliminating individual personalities rather than defeating a complex network or ideology, the bitter pill of failure can not only be sweetened but also showcased as a sweetmeat for citizens' consumption. This carefully crafted ruse of selling defeat as success begins with lionization of an al-Qaeda-affiliated leader through relentless coverage of his dreaded activities in the state-browbeaten media. The next step is to keep releasing stories that a hunt is on for the high-value target and that US/North Atlantic Treaty Organization intelligence is closing in on the star figure.

Since warfare is lethal, the likelihood of an operational commander being killed in combat is not far-fetched. After months or years of media buildup about the significance of a particular jihadi leader and the extent of havoc he has caused, when the subject does meet his maker, the event will be hailed by American spokespersons as a major milestone and feather in the cap for the "war on terror". The reality on the ground is likely that a replacement for the slain leader has already slipped into his new shoes, but Western media will be asked to raise a toast and self-congratulations will resound in Washington and London that they are one step closer to extinguishing the Islamist threat.
So Bush's attempt to show the War on Terror is being won by a secret court passing down the death sentence on some supposed 9/11 terrorists without addressing the cause, without a trial to educate and illuminate why such a sentence is needed and just, inflames people even further:

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said an announcement of the charges, which would be tried before a military tribunal, will be announced Monday.

Military prosecutors will ask for the death penalty for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, according to a second official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been announced.


The men would be tried in the military tribunal system that was set up by the administration shortly after the start of the counterterror war and has been widely criticized for it rules on legal representation for suspects, hearings behind closed doors and past allegations of inmate abuse at Guantanamo. Original rules allowed the military to exclude the defendant from his own trial, permitted statements made under torture, and forbade appeal to an independent court; but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the system in 2006 and a revised plan set up after Congress enacted a new law has included some additional rights.

Defense lawyers still criticize the system for it's secrecy.

The decision to seek the death penalty also is likely to draw criticism from within the international community. A number of countries, including U.S. allies, have said they would object to the use of capital punishment for their nationals held at Guantanamo.

Repeat until senseless: If you can kill all the terrorists, then you have won the War on Terror!

But the truth is more horrible: There can never be a war on a noun or a concept. Every time we kill someone, ten more terrorists are made. Killing the terrorists one by one by one is like trying to stop a flowing faucet by filling teacups of water. We need to address the source. Diplomacy is needed. Understanding is needed. Political and economic actions are needed. Education is needed. We will never stop the anger which creates terrorism until we address the wrongs done.

We cannot bomb our way to peace. We can only bomb ourselves to hell.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery.