Saturday, January 31, 2004

The Washington Post - Timely Reporting When You Need It Most

It's a blustery winter January morning here in DC, so I strap the Timbs up, get out the puffy coat and alla that, and head out for the Metro. On the way I see our beloved local/wanna-be-respected newspaper, The Washington Post. My eyes are directed to the headline, then the sub-headline...and then my eyes squint up, my forehead furrows, and my head turns awkwardly to the side like a dog who is just baffled by whatever it is you are trying to communicate to him.

Water in D.C. Exceeds EPA Lead Limit. Random Tests Last Summer Found High Level in 4,000 Home Throughout City. Water in D.C. Exceeds blah blah blah. Random Tests Last Summer Found High blah blah blah. Random Test Last Summer... Last Summer?! Last f***in' summer?!! The article begins:

Tap water in thousands of District houses has recently tested above the federal limit for lead contamination, a new phenomenon that has baffled the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and forced the agency to begin replacing service pipes.

Recently? Recently, mother-f****r?! Let me come down there to the Post and recently put a foot up your ass, recently. So, it looks like the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority waited three months to start letting residents know about the contamination, and then the Washington Post waited three months to let the rest of D.C. know about it. Nice.

Find a pdf of the front page here.

UPDATE: High-ranking manager who reported lead problems to EPA fired... More...

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Dominate. Intimidate. Control.

OK, I'll admit it, James Bovard is my hero. He just penned another scathing critique of the TSA in Reason magazine. I'll leave you with just a taste. It's brutal, but they deserve it.

Here’s a more sobering measure of the agency’s effectiveness: The New York Daily News celebrated the first anniversary of 9/11 by sending two reporters around the country, taking 14 flights on six airlines, and passing through 11 major airports during Labor Day weekend 2002. The reporters carried box cutters, razors, knives, and pepper spray in their luggage. They took their contraband through the checkpoints at all four of the airports used by the hijackers on 9/11. "Not a single airport security checkpoint spotted or confiscated any of the dangerous items, all of which have been banned from airports and planes by federal authorities," the paper revealed. The reporters were selected for hand searches several times, but even then nothing was found. There were more security personnel and searches than a year before, "but it amounted to nothing more than a big show."

Warlock Saves GI Lives

Flipped on the C-SPAN tonight and caught a glimpse of a House Armed Services Committee meeting that apparently took place today.

General Peter J. Schoomaker, United States Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, was being questioned by Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi. Taylor seemed to be going pretty tough on Schoomaker - saying things like [not necessarily verbatim]:

...well, is it because that information is classified or is it because you don't want the American people to know [what this information is that might make the Army look bad]...

So, right away, my interest was piqued. When this particular line of questioning was done, I left my TV and headed over to the web to get see the home page of the House Armed Services Committee. Right away I was struck by how partisan the page was - it seemed to read like a Bush propaganda tool because links like that shown in the image in this post, "Success Stories: Building Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan". Calling Iraq and Afghanistan a success at this stage is like calling me a successful cook because I am currently able to boil some Ramen noodles in the microwave. Some part of the claim could be technically true, but in reality, it is just misleading. I was a bit surprised, but not overly surprised, to see the propagandizing - but I thought it was tasteless. I mean, I expect it from the Pentagon, but the HASC? C'mon. The HASC should be a place of solemn seriousness where old white guys are determining how much each of our soldiers is worth in monetary terms (literally), not a place to pimp Bush's Reelection Campaign.

Back to the original topic. Congressman Taylor was questioning General Schoomaker about the use of an electronic signal jamming device that can be used to temporarily disable IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices - i.e. homemade bombs) - thus saving the lives (and arms and legs) of GIs. Apparently, Taylor had visited Iraq and his Humvee was equipped with this jamming equipment, but of course, the vehicles of our soldiers are not - or, a very small percentage of their vehicles are. Taylor said that every one of the soldiers from his state that he tracked - and who knows which ones he decided to 'track' - was a victim of an IED. Dead or wounded, every single GI from his state that he was tracking was a victim of an IED, and to him, it seemed that every one of them need not have been victims if the Army had done its job properly and planned for the use of IEDs like it should have. That was the 'behind the lines' meaning of the conversation, as I took it, and that was why the Schoomaker was actually taking B.S. from Taylor, I figure.

I did some Googling and found an article from The Chicago Tribune:

Some U.S. military vehicles in Iraq are using a system known as Warlock, which blocks radio frequencies that set off remote-controlled explosives. On Dec. 29, the Warlock's manufacturer, EDO Corp., announced that the Army has agreed to spend $27 million for at least 1,000 additional units to be shipped in 2004.

The Warlock system consists of a suitcase-size device with an antenna that essentially provides a protective bubble around vehicles as they travel, William Walkowiak, head of EDO investor relations, said in an interview from New York.

The new batch of Warlocks, which will be stripped-down versions tailored to specific dangers in Iraq, was added to a fast-track purchase of military equipment under the $87 billion appropriation for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Electronic jamming technology was believed to have thwarted a recent attempt in Pakistan to blow up the limousine of a key U.S. ally, President Pervez Musharraf.

So, Schoomaker refused to discuss, in the public hearing today, how few of our Humvees and other vehicles in Iraq were actually equipped with these Warlock systems - thus, the contentious exchange I quoted at top of this post. He did offer to discuss it 'somewhere else' or something like that.

Did you notice that Musharraf line above? Further searching turned up a more detailed story from the AP about that attempted assassination of Musharraf. Apparently, his convoy had this jamming equipment, thus enabling him to cross a wired bridge safely. The bridge blew with 500 pounds of dynamite about 30 seconds after his convoy passed.

EDO Corp. has apparently received a contract to hurriedly produce and ship a bunch of these Warlock systems (which are updated versions of a product called Shortstop Electronic Protection System - SEPS), but I don't know numbers and timelines. Let's really light a fire under their asses. Man, first the wrong color uniforms, then no Kevlar, now no jamming equipment. Sh*t.

Go to it. Senate Armed Services Committee. House Armed Services Committee.

One last note - a bit of intellectual honesty on my part - not always the easiest thing to do. You might have noticed that the appropriations (dinero, greenbacks, Benjamins) for these Warlock devices was set aside in that gargantuan $87 Billion 'emergency funding bill' or whatever The White House called it back in the day. Well, a certain Senator from Massachusettes actually voted 'nay' on that bill after voting 'yes' to go to war with Iraq. I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that Rove is gonna hammer this one like a roids-aided Sammy Sosa waiting on a fastball down the middle. "Kerry Responsible for the Death and Disfigurement of GIs" reads the headline. Niiiiice. Anyone got some Vaseline? Think Kerry's gonna want all he can get.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

ReDefeat Bush

I've been seeing these folks around at local (DC) commy-type events. Their purpose, according to their website:

Our purpose is to conduct an Internet-enabled voter registration drive that will secure one million new Democratic voters in battleground states. Our activities are financed through the sale of merchandise from our online store. Please purchase buttons, bumper stickers, lawn signs, T-shirts, condoms, and novelties for yourself and all of your Democratic friends, family, and colleagues.

Sounds good to me. I'll have to make sure I buy a bumper sticker or something at my next event.

get your war on

There is a funky comic strip-type thing called get your war on that has to be the funniest take on the absurdity of George Bush's foreign policy I've seen yet. It's unbelievably crude and unbelievably in your face. The main characters are office professionals in their cubicled environment - all seem to be about 32 years old. What is so crazy is their almost complete lack of facial and body expression as they describe, in very powerful terms, using 'hip-hop' language, the latest horrors of the Bush Administration's 'global war on terror'. Maybe this 'expressionlessness' is the strip's author's way of telling us how desensitized we've become to the horrors of war and violence.

Here is just one of my many favorites:

Seems like there's a new strip about every week or so, and apparently it appears in Rolling Stone magazine. There's also a print edition of the strip.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Bloggers to Take On Traditional Media?

The blogging phenomenon is indeed that - and it is quickly gaining influence in the traditional media world. As with most internet movements, some people are quick to write off the legitimacy of anything so radical - shoot, sometimes it's the bloggers themselves - but I'm not convinced yet. One of the primary arguments that the Blogosphere (refers to all bloggers, collectively) will never be able to compete with 'Big Media' is that bloggers simply don't have the resources and breadth to cover live events - news - in the way traditional media does. I would argue that this plays to the Blogosphere's strengths - worldwide representation, ability to reports on events, live, from almost anywhere in the world - from the biggest events to the smallest. Already there are all sorts of ideas popping up in the blogging world - from news aggregator sites to blogs which accept input from more than one author. These institutions will take time to grow and mature, but one might eventually act as the Associated Press of the Blogosphere, one the UPI, etc.

Picking up on the concept of 'source reporting' - that is, bloggers having an actual presence at live events where things are happening, as opposed to just critiquing articles from the mainstream press, here is a small sampling of the types of source reporting (or live commentary) that the Blogosphere has been responsible for - some recent, some not:

It's not a brilliant list, I know, but the real-time/live blogging thing is picking up all the time. Sometimes the role is filled by real reporters, like Kerry Sipe covering the John Allen Muhammed trial. But even big media has limited resources - that's where bloggers can fill in.

For an interesting discussion on the emergence of the Blogosphere from some of its most prolific authors, listen to this Minnesota Public Radio broadcast.

Historical link to article in the USA Today that launched blogging into the mainstream consciousness (article is topheavy with right-wingers).

Reparations Lawsuit Dismissed

A Chicago court dismissed a slavery reparations case. It's not surprising, but there were a couple of things I didn't like about the way the whole thing went down. For instance, the Judge gave the following convoluted reasoning as part of his basis for dismissing the case:

But he [the Judge] said longstanding doctrine in matters involving political questions "bars the court from deciding the issue of slavery reparations, an issue that has been historically and constitutionally committed to the legislative and executive branches of our government."

What, exactly, does this mean, in English? That because the issue of slavery reparations in America is a political issue the Judge's court is 'barred' from deciding the issue? WTF? So, I guess the recent Miranda decision is not political either? C'mon judge - damn.

There's also this reason, which may be perfectly valid - and if it is perfectly valid, then I'd be perfectly pissed:

And he [the Judge] said the suit alleged no specific connection between the plaintiffs and the companies named as defendants.

Now, if the plaintiffs submitted this complaint without making a strong evidence-based cause/effect link, then how could they ever expect to win the case? Better, how could they expect it to not get thrown out immediately? The Judge has said that there was no link, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt at this point.

What, then, would be the point of filing a lawsuit of such shoddy quality? To gain some attention? Sure, I guess that could work. But why not put some effort into it - get some civil rights and other groups behind you - put some money into building a real case, and then take it to the courts? I mean, wouldn't that make a whole lot more sense? Obviously I don't understand this whole comingling of politics/law thing yet, because there are obviously some other dynamics going on here that I am wholly unaware of. Either that, or the judge got it wrong, or the plaintiffs and their lawyer are wasting my and everybody else's time.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Mystery Email from ''

I got this email tonight - looks like a little virus action:

Return-Path: <>
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 997FD6E4D2
for ; Tue, 27 Jan 2004 00:45:37 +0100 (MET)
Subject: Hello
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 16:45:34 -0700
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
Message-Id: <

The message contains Unicode characters and has been sent as a binary attachment.

There was an attachment called 'data.exe'. Someone is not liking the Bush/AWOL story?

Judith Brings the Mo'!

I'm gonna float a theory here - let's see which mainstream press organizations pick up on it. Dean wins big tomorrow in NH - say 7 or 8 percentage points - and it has everything to do with Mrs. Howard Dean. The press is eatin it up - can't get enough of that lady.

UPDATE: Ummm...I couldn't have been more wrong. I think Judith (Judy?) did help the cause, but Dean still got rocked in NH. Holy cow. Where to go from here?

Female GIs Report Rapes (By Fellow GI's)

I don't even know where to go with this, but it had to be mentioned.

The women, ranging from enlisted soldiers to officers, have reported poor medical treatment, lack of counseling and incomplete criminal investigations by military officials. Some say they were threatened with punishment after reporting assaults.

I mean, I knew that rape (male and female) was a part of regular wartime activities, but raping your fellow soldiers? Shouldn't that be, like, against the rules or something? And all of this in the wake of the Air Force Academy Rape Scandal. One would be inclined to think that our politicians would do something about this continuing tragedy, but we can only expect them to act if we pressure them do so. They do, after all, work for us, represent us, but they can't read our minds, so let them hear it.

Bush Says: Don't Hate

Seeking to lure the young 'Hip Hop' crowd to his message this fall, George W. Bush began practicing his 'street talk' in Little Rock, Arkansas today. Speaking about the capture of an alleged Al Qaeda opertive in Iraq recently:

"He was a killer. He was moving money and messages around South Asia and the Middle East to other al-Qaida leaders. He was a part of this network of haters that we're dismantling," Bush said.

And there you have him, folks, George "The Original O.G." Bush, and his message for the future leaders of tomorrow: Don't Hate.

Give Micah the Mic!

Yeah, you know, always lookin' out for those corny headlines that scream 'READ ME!', or in this case, read Joshua Micah Marshall. Today, Joshua has once again taken the opportunity to pimp his own work - the master of the mic and master of self-promotion, apparently. He's told us about an article he just finished that will be in tomorrow's New Yorker. I read it, and as Odd Todd would say, it's Good!

The title of the article is Power Rangers, Did the Bush Administration create a new American empire -- or weaken the old one? With the War on Iraq looming large in the political arena and presidential elections just around the corner, it's a timely and serious question. Joshua, the learned historical scholar-type, methodically dismantles the Neoconservative position on global dominance through use of force by pointing out how Neocons like Richard Perle fundamentally misunderstand the underpinning of America's dominance. Perle & co., Joshua notes, also fail to understand the role that the Cold War had in legitimizing America's power, and how things changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Very interesting article.

My favorite part of the article is the last half of the last line of the artilce - which I've bolded. Here's the setup - England has just defeated france in the Seven Years War - a.k.a. the French and Indian War. In its financially wounded state, England leans heavily on the American colonies to restore the Kingdom's economics:

The result was a dozen years of contention over taxes, which exploded into arguments over principle, and the loss of Britain’s most valuable imperial possessions. Britain believed that the reins of monarchical allegiance would keep its colonies secure; but when it pulled back on those reins, they fell apart. The truth is that, once Britain got to the point of holding on to its colonists by force, it had already all but lost them. Vengeful France, using its runner-up navy to such effect at Yorktown, merely provided the coup de grâce. Britain thought it was at its strongest. Yet by knocking out the rival that drove the colonies into its arms, and then changing the rules, Britain had actually become weaker.

Historical analogies are never perfect. America’s power is far too great to be easily or quickly dislodged. But there are lessons to be learned here, and not just about the French gift for making trouble for great nations at the apex of their power.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Charles Krauthammer: I Am Bereft

Yes, Chuck, you are bereft - of talent, intellectual honesty, good looks. But let us not waste time on the obvious. The country is searching for a new president, and our man, Howard Dean, had a bad day in Iowa last week, about which you have this to say in your column 'Paradise Lost':

I am bereft. I yield to no one -- not a single orange-cap-wearing, twentysomething vegan Deaniac -- in my disappointment over Howard Dean's Iowa debacle.

Sure, he was their hope. But he was mine too. Dean as Democratic nominee promised not just happiness but glory: a Republican landslide of biblical proportions...

Why, Chuck, would you attack a man who is 'lost'? Because he is obviously not lost - isn't that correct Chuck? In all your sarcasm you barely manage to hide your deep fear of a Howard Dean candidacy. Karl Rove knows this, which is why he included a couple of jabs at Dean in the President's State of the Union speech. You both know that money wins - always.

One more critique of your buffoonery before we depart, Chuck:

When the late-night comics call you "a hockey dad" (David Letterman) and "the Incredible Hulk" (Conan O'Brien) and "Mr. Rogers with rabies" (Jay Leno), you've got trouble. The most difficult thing to recover from in politics is ridicule.

Funny, I thought ridicule of politicians was fairly common. Maybe I'm confusing politicians with columnists?

Dean, The Comeback Kid II?

The Washington Post runs a story today with the headline 'N.H. Shifts to Other Neighbor: Kerry/Dean Loses Lead as January Voters Look Ahead to November'. Now, I'd say that's an accurate headline, if we're being strictly literal about things, but it seems to ignore dramatic recent movements in the polls, some of which have Dean at only a couple of points behind Kerry, (from KOS) with Dean rising rapidly and Kerry continuing an easy decline. The article was posted on January 24 and will be in today's (Sunday's) edition of the Post. So, maybe the right arictle, but it's about a week late.

Next, I can't get over this Dean phenomenon of raising money whenever things get tough. I don't know how many internet-based instruments the Dean camp has introduced to the internet-campaigning phenomenon, but it's got to be quite a few. Let's take just one that I think may be appriately linked to Dean's campaign - the rally-funding-differential-image. For each 'drive', an image on the Dean for America home page is updated each hour on the hour with the total number of contributors to the pledge and the total amount of money raised. Here's an example of the current 'drive' (full disclosure: of which I am a small part):

01/25/04 at 8 am   01/25/04 at 9 am   01/25/04 at 10 am   01/25/04 at 9 pm

The number of new donations is fairly small for the early hours, smaller than would be average, because of the day and time of day we're talking about - Sunday mornings are not known for being prime donation times, I gather. My guess is that historical analysis (hmmmm....) would show that business hours during the week would be highest, with possibly weekday nights doing best. The small numbers are the reason you don't see the 'fill level' - the red part of the bat - rising very much in the early hours. You can see the fill level move when you compare the 8 am level on the left to the 9 pm level on the right.

A couple of quick stats based on the numbers above. Looking at the 8 am numbers, we have an average donation of $54.68 - that is, the average donation for the entirety of the drive thus far. I've seen this number fluctuate between $50 and $70 before, but it's fairly stable as far as I can tell, around the $55 mark.

Doing some hourly breakdowns, between 8 and 9 am there were 121 new contributions for a total of $6,130.46, or $50.66 average donation. Between 9 am and 10 am there were 160 new donors contributions for a total of $9,287.23, or $58.04 average donation.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Legalized Torture? The Case of Maher Arar

You've probably heard of this case - Maher Arar, Canadian citizen, while changing planes in JFK airport in New York City, is spirited-off by the FBI and the Department of Justice to Syria, where he is tortured for one year and released.

Well, an enterprising ex-journo picked up this important story for some practice at her ex-profession. She's done a wonderful job and is gaining more attention for the story. Check out her, so far, 18-piece blog on the case of Maher Arar. It seems clear that Ashcroft once again broke all sorts of US and international laws and deported Arar - a Canadian citizen - to Syria - to be tortured to get any information he had on Al Qaeda. Of course, he didn't have any information. His assumed guilt was based on the fact that he knew a couple of guys who were terror suspects. He knew a couple of guys who were terror suspects.

Arar most probably did not even know his acquaintenances were terror suspects, but that is besides the point. Many in the US have been trying to legitimize torture - I still haven't figured that out, but Arar's case brings home the brutality of what being brown and Muslim can be like, and the brutality of torture, and the lawlessness of our own Department of Justice. Everything about this case is wrong. This is not fairness - this is not American.

Please check out Katherine's blog of Maher Arar's case and spread the word.

Friday, January 23, 2004

TalkingPointsMemo down...

Must be hectic up in NH! What to do when our favorite blog is blogo-dead? ( (01/23/04; 12.45 PM)

UPDATE: wow - that was quick. looks like we're back up again. (01/23/04; 12.50 PM)

UPDATE: maybe never down in the first place. Using the URL with the 'www' on front seems to have always worked, and the non-'www' URL still does not. Will it ever? Has it ever? Should it ever? Is it even supposed to be the same site?

UPDATE: oops - now the real site - '' - is definitely down, too.

UPDATE: well, my workplace has been having network issues today, so maybe that's what all this website-down stuff is today? no idea...didn't happen with other sites, like the ever-dependable Yahoo!. There were a few cases and brief time periods of not being able to reach Yahoo! and others, but never a regular HTTP error response page.

UPDATE: finally - confirmation from the source. The site actually was having some trouble, it seems.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

How naïve could I possibly be?!

You know, just when I think I'm really starting to get the hang of reading between the lines of Bush Administration policy, the rug gets pulled out from under me. So many times. I suck. Ok, now that I've checked myself and my incredible gullibility, let's talk nuts and bolts. I and many others dismissed Bush's new immigration policy as pandering to the Latino vote, but of course, there may be other implications - high tech workers may be affected as well - not just those poor undocumented saps down at the local drive-thru car wash. Doh! You mean...<gulp>...this pandering might Yeah, buddy, you.

But in a speech last week at the Cato Institute, an administration official indicated the program could extend to highly skilled positions as well. Margaret Spellings, assistant to the president for domestic policy, said details of the program have yet to be worked out. But she said the program will be "non-sector specific" and mentioned nurses and teachers as possible workers covered by the program.

Can you spell W-A-T-E-R-G-A-T-E?

One party spying on another? Undermining democracy? Hmmmm....sounds kinda familiar...

Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

Dean Supporters, Don't Give Up ... from Michael Moore

Michael Moore posts a quick letter on his website trying to lift despirited Howard Dean fans. I was a Dean supporter only in money, really, but it was still depressing to hear how Iowans voted for war-loving, Patriot-Acting Kerry. Give me a break. F*ck those f*ckin corn-growin' freaks! :D

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Event: 1/22, Politics and Prose, DC

Bush-lovers, you will not want to be around for this one:

KEVIN PHILLIPS, discusses and signs copies of American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Thu., 1/22, at 7 p.m. Free. (202) 364-1919.

UPDATE: This dude was good. Shorter presentation - abot 25 min I'd guess - another packed house at P&P - about 250 or so I guess. I actually got there 10 min before the event started and it was already packed up. Another standing-room-only event for the Bush-hatin crowd. Phillips was very Paul O'Neill-like. He was a life-long Republican-turned Independent. He was fairly harsh on all of the Bush's - 4 generations worth. He broke up his presentation into the three 'verticals' of the Bushs' influence - in order of increasing importance: 1) financial, 2) oil, 3) CIA/defense/military-industrial complex. He made a strong case that one or all of the Bushes were involved in all sorts of illicit activities, possible ties to Watergate, Bay of Pigs, Iran-Contra - you name it. Mentioned some stuff about how Yale was recruiting center for CIA - which would be why at least the last two Bushes went there - I don't remember about the others. The current president was born in Connecticut, apparently, but his folks moved to west Texas for oil-related schemes - as did many others from the Yale set. I was taken aback when he said that the evidence unearthed in the book was probably not enough to make a criminal case against any of the Bushes, and that most civil cases would be past their statute of limitations dates. That he would even link the words 'criminal' and 'Bush' was surprising to me - like I said, this guy is a Paul O'Neill type - very conservative looking and speaking. Also, Phillips essentially debunked the theory that one of the current President Bush's forefathers was a financier of the Nazis. There were real connections, Bush's bank was shut down in NYC, but no charges were filed, etc. Supposedly.

UPDATE: Found a CSPAN interview with Phillips here.

Event: 1/21, Politics and Prose, DC

Yep - this is a big one:

RON SUSKIND, discusses and signs copies of The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Wed., 1/21, at 7 p.m. Free. (202) 364-1919.

UPDATE: There was probably 250 or so people there. Suskind (pronounced like mankind) was very lively, entertaining - not at all what I expected for some reason. He dropped a few bombshells which the crowd hadn't yet heard about, and by the time it was over I was really interested to know how that doofus Mr. Bush lets The White House run around him. So, I plopped down $27! Ouch! And, as usual at P&P, the store became a madhouse after the speaker stopped taking questions. It's literally standing room only in the entire upper floor of the bookstore - so people are trying to get in line for an autograph, they're trying to get in line to buy a book, and they're trying desperately to get out the dang door! Someone over at P&P, please - and this won't take a degree in Logistics - please figure out a way to improve the situation post-speaker. Get some of those rope-a-dope things that the airports use to torture their victims in wait - call the Department of Homeland Hilarity (not that you'll get through) - they'll probably be able to help you out.

P.S. Just re-found this freaky Cafe Mozart German Deli. It's like a convenience store, deli, bar, and restaurant. It's very odd, but eclectic, and they serve these gargantuan glasses of beer for like $10. Can't be all bad.

US sailors wear out sex workers

There's a war-related headline for ya. I don't know how I stumbled across this article, but in light of my previous posting on the 'rising demand for engineers in the U.S.', I thought it might be worthy to showcase an article that actually had a clear message and actual supporting data.

Perth prostitutes were reeling from exhaustion following an influx of United States sailors stressed from a stint in a war zone, a well-known madam said today.

It's hard not to get the message. Loud and clear.

I had the good fortune to visit Perth and Freemantle a few years ago, for just a couple of days, and while I didn't see any prostitutes, I did meet a U.S. sailor and some locals whose tales would seem to lend credence to the accounts of this article. Perth was a very nice town - very San Diego-esque from what I remember. Freemantle seemed like a nice beach town, but I only saw it at night - muchos bars, which makes sense, I guess. Sailors, bars, etc.

I stayed in a small town called Subiaco (soo-bee-ah-koh), or Subi, for short. I visited the most outrageous beach I've ever been to, at Cottesloe (pic). I heard about a shark attack at Cottesloe - and you often hear about shark attacks in Oz - but this one is scary. I remember taking a walk/jog through a couple of the local parks and seeing really weird-looking fauna, the biggest snake I've ever seen in my life, and some fairly outrageous views of the skyline and other scenic views. Ummm...why am I in DC?

Demand For Engineers Rising Fast In U.S.

Yep, this is an actual headline. Why do I sound surprised? Oh, maybe because so many IT people are either unemployed or underemployed these days. I guess my point is, what could possibly be the point of this article? Its text is as confusing as its headline. Some of these pseudo-industry/trade/lobby/gubment-type groups are so shady. Somewhere in the mix of this article's mixed messages is a theme that the U.S. must train high tech workers here, at home, in the U.S., and then keep them here, to work, to make stuff, and something or other. Here is one theme-type passage:

If the U.S. is to maintain its global leadership, it must ramp up its science, mathematics and engineering training, these groups say.

OK - global leadership sounds good to me, I guess. Here's another:

"Having a well-trained and well-equipped science and engineering work force is the basis for our economic well-being," he [Joseph Miller, CTO at Corning, Inc.] said.

Ummm....ok. I don't know - it's a rehash of everything we know about the high tech industry in the U.S. for the past several years. It's everything and nothing at the same time - and the title of the article? Demand For Engineers Rising Fast In U.S. OK, since the overall message of the article is FUBAR, let's just start with the one assertion made by this dubious title. Where is the evidence of 'demand rising'?

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for science and engineering workers will increase three times faster than all job categories this decade. Eighty-six percent of those jobs - 2.2 million - will be in the computer field.

OK - now we're getting somewhere. Let's just say we take this statistical fact at face value and move on. But, as soon as we're ready to give the benefit of the doubt to the author of this awful piece, we read this:

Yet unemployment in engineering occupations rose in the third quarter of 2003, say BLS data. The unemployment rate was 6.7%, up from 6.4% in the second quarter and five times higher than it was in 2000.

Hmmmmmm. Well, what's one data point? Besides, there must be a reason for this obviously-faulty data point:

For starters, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) was wrong the last time it projected job demand for engineers. The BLS updates its job forecast every two years. The last time it made projections, "it was way off," said [George] McClure. "Their crystal ball isn't much better than the rest of ours."

Hmmmmmm. Way off. Crystal ball. Well, ok, whatever. Let's move on. We're not making much progress here. We don't know why the mis-prediction was mis-predicted, or how it was supposedly not mis-predicted this time. Nor do we know how other confusing tidbits of information strewn throughout the article - like the increasing fluidity of the high tech labor markets - might affect future mis-predictions. But, let's move on. I feel we're building a case for something here. Soon. I swear.

To be sure, these are still tough times in tech. Despite the recent increase in U.S. employment overall, the tech industry is still losing jobs - down 3.9% in November.

Doh! I'm trying to find a data point to support my article's title, damn it! All in all, a perfectly horrific article from the Investor's Business Daily. I'm fairly used to seeing the IT industry trade rags printing all sorts of rosy job forecast data to pimp the H1-B high tech worker/visa program, so this type of article is not surprising in its duplicity, but it is surprising in its inabilility to must a clear message. Is there an audience for this article? Who? Maybe it'll show up in someone's research report? Someone who used Lexis-Nexis to search all the titles of news articles in the past year for keywords 'demand, rising, engineers' so it can be thrown into some bogus research report for an IT lobby group? I don't know - sounds like a lot of effort to me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Vice-President Dick Cheney, In His Charge (oops!)

C'mon - I know you heard it too. Was listening to Peter Jennings just before the SOTU address - he's giving the 411 on everyone as the camera slowly pans the room. When he gets to Cheney, sitting there, smirking the evil smirk, shining a bit from his evil dome, Jennings says:

Vice-president Dick Cheney, in his charge. (eh-hem) chair.

Can you say...Freudian slip? We all know Cheney's been in charge since day one. Niiice.

Bush Changing World for the Better?

Not according to our Aussie friends:

Liberal Radio Gaining Ground

I thought it was all hype, but apparently liberal radio just happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan - and by none-other than Clear Channel! The Thom Hartmann Show will air opposite Rush Limbaugh - Clear Channel apparently has two stations in Grand Rapids. You can find archives here.

Suicide Solution at Walter Reed Medical Center

It seems the Pentagon and White House are up to their old tricks - under-reporting of injuries, deaths, etc. But I'd like to concetrate on another aspect of the under-reporting - that is, I want to consider the possible reasons why soldiers are going crazy in the field and upon returning to the States. Among the many reasons, I would posit, are:

  • Being lied to by George Bush and his cronies about the reasons we invaded Iraq in the first place. The mental anguish caused by being away from home and risking life and limb is tough enough, but add to that the anxiety of knowing that you were trying to serve your country - to be a true patriot - to make your country safer, but the real reason you were shipped across the Atlantic was to re-elect George Bush and to make Bush's friends and contributors extremely rich. You'd probably feel suckered, and there'd be nothing you could do about it. Not only that, but you'd probably begin to realize that you were actually making America less safe - at which point you'd begin to ask - why am I still here?

  • Stop-loss orders unexpectedly smash a soldier's hopes of returning home Stateside, and then tell him that not only will he/she not be going home, but he will probably not being going home for the foreseeable future. The year 2030 is the date listed on soldiers' stop-loss papers. It's the military's way of saying 'whenever we are done in Iraqistan.'

  • The highly volatile security situation in Iraqistan, knowing that you could be blown to bits at any second, must be mentally exhausting for soldiers - especially those stationed in the hot spots of the Sunni Triangle. Worse for some soldiers, they probably think about what it might be like living with no arms, or no legs, or some combination thereof. What if I get my face blown off?, they must wonder. Will my wife leave me?

  • The sense of hopelessness that a soldier might feel, combined with the awful brutality that (s)he would be subjected to on a daily basis (bombings, gun violence, violent raids, yelling and screaming to and from non-English speakers, immense mental stress from no trying to kill innocents while still protecting yourself and your buddies, human bodies - sometimes of children - torn to pieces), would eventually lead a soldier to break down. He would probably have to do one of two things: 1) Hold onto his humanity and go crazy, or 2) Become the monster that war is teaching him to become. This latter option means, in effect, to stop feeling guilty for brutalizing and killing innocents, for not being there for your buddy, for not seeing that IED before he was splattered by it, for not being able to stop his bleeding enough to save his life long enough until the field med unit could take over. Forget it all - war is war - it's the only way to survive mentally. A recent article from UPI reminds us how stressful war can actually be:

A soldier who served in Iraq apparently hung himself with a bedsheet last week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but the Pentagon did not count that death two days later when it announced "a very small increase" in the suicide rate from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Of course, I figure the suicide rate might be somewhat reduced in that some soldiers don't have the ability to off themselves. It'd be tough to hang yourself with no arms. It's unbelievable to me that Bush and his cronies have so easily been able to hide the military suicides in Iraq. I mean, whatever numbers they're providing - double it to get a better estimate. All those 'non-hostile fire' incidents you keep hearing about? Well, some are self-inflicted, non-hostile incidents. Some are to the head - for those who are too far gone, and some to the abdomen area - for those who just want a ticket home. Problem is, shooting yourself even in the relatively-safe abdomen area can be fatal, as seems to have been the case for this soldier. Sad. When will these sadist Americans supporting this or any other war figure out that war is not a picnic and it should be used as a last resort? I don't get it...

YOU Think Spam Sucks?

How would you like to receive email telling you to prepare for your husband's homecoming? Oops - you found out last week that your husband was killed in Iraqistan? Sorry.

Piche (the new widow) said there are constant reminders about the homecomings. She was inadvertently sent an e-mail that went out to the spouses in her husband's unit. She e-mailed back, asking to be taken off the list.

Yeah, attention to detail for the whole dead-spouses-probably-won't-need-a-homecoming-party would probably be a good idea. I thought we got that with our gargantuan military budget, which is almost as much as the rest of the worlds' militaries combined - the rest of the worlds' militaries combined. Here's a brief snapshot - figures for some countries are a year or two are out of date - which means a lot to the U.S. - because W took office and the Repugnicans took control of all three branches - but not so much for other countries not fighting the never-ending global war on brown, non-Christian people - I mean terrorists:

Selected CountriesMilitary Budget
United States399.1
Russia* 65.0
China* 47.0
Japan 42.6
United Kingdom 38.4
France 29.5
Germany 24.9
Saudi Arabia 21.3
Italy 19.4
India 15.6
South Korea 14.1
Brazil* 10.7
Taiwan* 10.7
Israel 10.6
Spain 8.4
Australia 7.6
Canada 7.6
Netherlands 6.6
Turkey 5.8
Mexico 5.9
Kuwait* 3.9
Ukraine 5.0
Iran* 4.8
Singapore 4.8
Sweden 4.5
Egypt* 4.4
Norway 3.8
Greece 3.5
Poland 3.5
Argentina* 3.3
United Arab Emirates* 3.1
Colombia* 2.9
Belgium 2.7
Pakistan* 2.6
Denmark 2.4
Vietnam 2.4
North Korea* 2.1
Czech Republic 1.6
Iraq* 1.4
Philippines 1.4
Portugal 1.3
Libya* 1.2
Hungary 1.1
Syria 1.0
Cuba* 0.8
Sudan* 0.6
Yugoslavia 0.7
Luxembourg 0.2

I Did NOT Have Sexual Relations With That Turkey!

My blog can be kind of depressing, so have a laugh:

Australia Started Iraq War?

Interesting article from down unda today.

Just days after the Iraq war officially ended, The Age reported (May 10) that Australian troops had fought the first battles, killing and capturing Iraqi soldiers a day before US President George Bush declared the invasion had begun.
What's the big deal, you say? Well, Bush gave Sadaam and his sons 48 hours to get out of dodge. On hour 16 of those 48 hours, the Aussies attacked, killed, and captured Iraqi soldiers - of course, illegally, but to add insult to injury, the Aussies hadn't even declared war on Iraq yet. Nor had the Americans. Consider it a smaller version of Pearl Harbor. Shoot, even Osama bin Laden warned the U.S. that he would attack America and 'kill the infidels' and all that stuff. I guess the Aussies and Americans couldn't be bothered to return the favor.

So much for international law. I guess if you're illegally invading another country it doesn't make much sense to announce your intentions. I mean, crimes against humanity are what they are - just make sure you win!

Dean is a Psycho!

I checked out Drudge, who, of course, had big, funny pictures up of the crazy Dean, but this time he actually had a point. I don't know if this recording is authentic, but it sure seemed like it to me. At the end of this little clip, Dean seems crazy. I mean, Norman Bates-type crazy. Too funny!

I got a link to the video of the Dean rant from the Washington Post. It looks a lot better, that is, less psycho, than it sounds. Part of the reason the clip on Drudge seems psycho is because drudge cut off the very calm few seconds before Dean's buildup, and he cut off Dean's laughing IMMEDIATELY AFTER Dean yelled 'Yahhh!'. It was a big celebratory meeting, and the 'Yahhhhh!' was a cross, it seems, between a 'Yes!' and a 'Yehaw!'. So, still a bit scary, but with the video it's much better. He's literally laughing as he finished his 'Yahh!', so it's not a psycho-type thing. So, as he's been explaining on the talk shows this morning, he was just having a bit of fun. Scary, though.

Holy Naïveté, Batman!

I was doing a little Baghdad Burning and saw a couple of interesting things. The first is something I'd heard before, but hadn't paid it too much attention - it was just another piece of bad news coming out of Baghdad. Iraq Governing Council (IGC) was considering changing Iraq's governing laws from Family Law to Shari'a Law - the decision would become known as Decision or Decree 137, apparently. Shari'a Law, of course, is the semi-technical term for Islamic Law - the law of Muslim-dominated, non-secular counties, based on the Koran. Places implementing Shari'a Law are really good for women and human rights and freedom of expression and all that - places like Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, etc. Anyways, big protests from womens' rights groups and others seem to have prevented the Decree from passing this past Friday - that's good news.

Now, while this is a rather bizarre development to even have such a decree considered, given the Administration's highly altruistic intentions for the Iraq Oil & Re-election War, you might be inclined to dismiss it as 'politics as usual', maybe just a little pushback from the IGC on the CPA, a little friendly power-play, but that might make you a bit....naïve. This guy Mr. Sistani, apparently the most powerful non-American in Iraq these days, is continuing to gain stregth, it seems, and continuing to flex his muscles. Mass demonstrations of 100,000+ people in Baghdad and Basra have worried the Americans and the Brits. I actually knew about the mass protests, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw next. Check out the website - if you can call it a site - of the Iraq Governing Council here. Not too shabby, I guess, but c'mon folks - this is the twenty-first century - surely we can do a little better than that. I mean, that looks like something I would have done, oh, ten years ago? Now, oblige me, if you will, by checking out the website of one Mr. Sistani. Ohhhhh, so you did catch the whole sleek pictures, interactive forms, and FIVE LANGUAGES thing. Good. Wasn't sure if you were going to catch that. Well, it just goes to show that even a well-meaning liberal can completely underestimate a non-Westerner. Thus, the title of this post.

This guy Sistani is pimping his point of view in FIVE LANGUAGES! So, one theory has it that the IGC was considering 137 to appease Sistani. Sistani is calling for full elections which would mostly likely mean a Shia-dominated government, which of course would mean an Islamic state. Bush/Bremer/CPA/IGC is now calling on the UN to provide cover for some type of hoax of a 'full election' that the Jackals hope Sistani will buy hook, line, and sinker. Ummmm...methinks they are being a tad naïve. But that's just me. And it's not like the neocons or others responsible for this war could ever be accused of being naïve about their points of view, but Kurt Vonnegut just might disagree.

p.s. I found the Robin quote here.

Monday, January 19, 2004

GOP interfering in Dem primaries?

Just a question. I think they meant to at least slow down Dean, and they have, but this blowout in Iowa is ridiculous. On what basis did the voters of Iowa decide to vote for...Kerry? Edwards? Huh?

UPDATE: I haven't actually gone out and looked for evidence of this kind of interference, but I am very aware that it happens all the time - on both sides - sometimes it's very organized, sometimes not. But just ran across an interesting tidbit while tearing through some articles. This one, about the Mary Matalin/James Carville, Republican/Democrat-type relationships, had this to say:

Hiram [a Democrat] quickly clarified that his wife's presence in the Gephardt camp doesn't mean that she'll be voting Democratic come November. Julianne, 57 and a real estate agent, is a staunch Republican, and has been throughout their 37-year marriage. " I guess they [the Republicans] want the weaker people to win the nomination so that they'll go up against the Republicans," said Hiram, with what sounded like a shrug.

So, question is, how many Republicans were in the Gephardt camp? And with that, how many Republicans and contributors are there in the Kerry camp? The Pretty-Boy camp?

UPDATE: I just ran across this link on a posting from bartcop. It's floating the theory that voter fraud, using electronic voting machines, which are not verifiable, played a part in the huge Iowa upset of Dean. I was an awfully big upset. I'm inclined to believe that this was not a case of voter fraud, but I'm sure that we will see rampant electronic voter fraud in the general election - starting with the Pentagon's vote-stealing machinations.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Another Classic Clip

The Daily Show keeps outdoing itself. This clip has George Andrews of the UC-Davis College Republicans getting interviewed by a hilarious Steven Colbert in his best John Stossel-type overly-dramatic-newsguy role. The official name of the clip is Daily Show: Helms - Right Out Of The Closet -- Don't be ashamed! Say it -- you're conservative and proud!. Apparently, the UC Davis College Republicans (who have since taken down their site), decided to host a 'Conservative Coming Out Day' during Gay Pride Week. Well, I suppose that lack of sensitivity earned George his smackdown.

Now, there are three really bizarre things about this video. First, George is not white. I just don't know if I'll ever understand a non-white Republican (e.g. JC Watts), unless you hold a grudge against the racist Democrats of old. If that's your deal - hey, I'm not gonna hate. The next odd thing about the video is what George says in his first two statements during of interview:

I am a conservative...People are afraid to come out and say that they're conservative on this campus 'cause it's easy to beat up on people, like, that are rich and stuff like that.
See anything odd in that? What does being rich have to do with being a Republican? Does George feel discriminated against because he's rich? Does he feel that his richness excludes him from the Democratic party, or somehow locks him into the Republican party? Is class warfare the only thing this youngster knows of politics in America? The last thing that gets me about this article is that George, other than having a Republican philosophy, which, honestly, I just don't get at all - is that he seems like a nice, decent guy. I mean, yes, he was either ignorant or mean-spirited or both in choosing to hold a conservative coming out day during gay pride week, but if it was more ignorance than mean-ness, wouldn't that save him from the 'a-hole' moniker? Sure, it depends, but this kid is just odd!

UPDATE: Here is the full RealMedia file for those without streaming capability.

Event: 1/19, Politics and Prose, DC

CHARLES LEWIS, discusses and signs copies of The Buying of the President, 2004: Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and His Democratic Challengers--and What They Expect in Return. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Mon., 1/19, at 7 p.m. Free. (202) 364-1919.

'Twas good stuff. 'Bout 100+ people there. Primary author, Charles Lewis, is the head of The Center for Public Integrity. The book looks like it's completely informative, and completely depressing.

MoveOn to Fund Liberal Radio Station?

No. It's just a thought. MoveOn is kinda like the Dean campaign - they just snap their fingers and people (like me) are throwing money at them. Now, if you told a bunch of liberal weenies that they could actually have a radio station committed to truth-telling to combat the Rush's of the world, how much money do you think the liberals would throw towards such a cause?

It's been said that Al Franken is going to be the host of the first liberal radio station, and I'm all for it, but I don't need some uber-cautious corporate weenies telling me how best to do a liberal talk radio show. I'd rather throw $50 in the pot and let MoveOn sort it out. With MoveOn, I know it'd be streamed over the Net, too.

Now I Get It - Here Is Why Pete Rose Needs to Stay Out of Baseball

I couldn't figure out how it could be 'bad for baseball' if Rose only ever bet for his team to win. From a Washington Post editorial:

As Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated notes, a manager betting on his own club in a particular game might be suspected of doing things to win that game -- using an overworked relief pitcher, for example -- that will hurt the team in the long run.
Makes sense to me. I was never in favor of putting him into the Hall, anyways.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Want to See Body Parts Flying?

Check out this video circulating the Net lately. It's apparently of a U.S. Army Apache Helicopter blasting into the land of virgins three Iraqis. Whether those Iraqis were rebels or posed a threat of any kind to the Apache or to any other U.S. interests - well, I leave that to the viewer to decide. I also leave it up to the viewer to decide which parts of the bodies are the ones being bandied about by those little 20 mm bomblets. Chunks of skull? A little elbow action? Maybe a foot?


A Drinking Club with a Running Problem

The Hash House Harriers are a great organization in that they are everywhere, they're a friendly lot, and they seem to be true to their principles, but dang, those people are just too crude for me. Maybe I just don't understand the culture of the Hashers, but I wish we had a similar club with slightly less debauchery. Hey, I'm all for gettin your swerve on, but as psycho-left liberal as I am, this Hashing scene is just not me.

One thing is for sure - Hashers are truely a unique kind of club. For an idea of what hashing is all about, check out one of the local DC clubs - The White House Hash House Harriers.

Growing Influence of Blogs

Most online versions of newspapers don't yet provide even the most rudimentary blog-like links in their articles. It doesn't seem like it'd be that difficult, right? And think how useful it'd be. It'd be, well, almost as useful as a blog. Well, I just noticed that an article from the New York Times, Washington Bureau, has started linking the words 'President Bush' to the Times' Bush Campaign 2004 page.

This blog-like linking behavior of the Times comes on the heals of a set of articles that continue to point to the growing popularity and influence of blogs. Daily KOS has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and other articles continue to make their way into the mainstream press, often still having to introduce exactly what a blog is. It sure would be a lot easier to explain what a blog is if a reader was able to click on a link and go to one of the top blogs out there - like Atrios for liberals or Instapundit for Republicans.

May not be much, but it's a start.

UPDATE: Another article, this one from the 'Health - AP' (??) - on the influence of blogs. What's up with Mr. GOP's slam against bloggers? My guess is he doesn't realize there are Instapundits in the blogosphere. Ignat.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Amtrak Sucks

I mean, flying sucks, but Amtrak sucks too. I ordered a ticket and had it express delivered (don't ask), but I didn't get a nifty tracking number for Fedex or whomever. I called Amtrak (mistake) and the person I spoke with was stunned that I was requesting a tracking number before delivery was even attempted.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Lack of Body Armour Cause of More Death

From CNN International:

Sergeant Steve Roberts, 33, was shot in the chest and killed in an attack in Iraq last March. His widow Samantha revealed Thursday that he left an audio diary in which he called supplies to soldiers a "joke."

If at least one story of a UK soldier getting killed due to lack of proper body armour made the headlines, I'm sure that there are many (hundreds, thousands?) of cases of U.S. soldiers going into battle unprepared and paying the consequences for it - sometimes the ultimate consequence.

Another equipment shortage article for the Brits to worry about. This one is only about an amputation due to lack of equipment - not as exciting as a 'death-by-lacking' story, but still, it will continue to add pressure on Hoon to resign.

Approaching 500...

The media loves big, round numbers. The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq is approaching the big five zero zero. What has Rove got up his sleeve? He definitely needs to drown out that day, and the day after. We'll need a pretty big story. What's it going to be?

I figure they can play out the Mars thing for at least a couple more weeks, but that's not big news anymore. And how many more headlines can you pull from this Mars ridiculousness anyway? I mean, let's take a look at recent headlines starting from January 14 and going backwards one day and one headline at a time:

  • Bush Outlines Plan for 2015 Moon Landing

  • Bush Plans Science Base on the Moon

  • Bush to Seek Unmanned Mission to Moon This Decade

  • Bush unveils deeper US-India space, nuclear cooperation

  • Officials: Bush Space Plan Not Too Costly

  • Bush Space Plan Envisions New Spacecraft

  • Bush Plans Science Base on the Moon

  • Bush Plans Major Space Announcement

Keep in mind that these are just single selections of the multiple stories that flew across the news wires on each day. 500 is right around the corner. What is Rove going to do?

UPDATE: I wanted to point out a couple of other details surrounding the logistics of any announcement about the 500th soldier killed in Iraq. First, Rove would have been smart enough to figure out that he needed all military casualties piped through a single exit point to be sprayed into the media outlets. Having this single point of outlet is crucial to being able to control exactly what information gets out, and often just as importantly, when that information gets out. I do not know what/where that outlet is - I suppose it goes through command headquarters out in Kuwait. The White House would have a very high level contact there who would be responsible for getting all initial field reports to the White House press people (McClellan, Rove) right away, accurate or not, and then would also be responsible for getting those folks any confirmed reports as soon as available.

Early access to this field information is crucial for Rove and McClellan to figure out a strategy of how to disseminate the information - when?, where?, what are the punchlines we're going to use?, what questions will be answer and how?, which questions will we not answer?, which questions will we shake off as 'absurb' and/or terrorist-sympathizing because they get too close to the truth. They'll anticipate all the questions they're going to receive from the press corps and they'll know the answers ahead of time. Once they are prepared they will disseminate only the bare essential information to Republican leaders - Frist and Delay - what happened? 500 dead. what do I say? Brave soldiers, freedom freedom freedom, terrorist terrorist, Iraqi people, progress progress progress, whatever.

Next stop on this pony express is underlings of Rove and McClellan phoning Robert Novak, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, and other press lackies to get them a good story for the next day's paper that will deflect attention from the 500th dead, and will paint a rosy picture for the future of the occupation, call into question the patriotism of any who pause to reflect on the sacrifice of our soldiers, etc.

Somewhere along the lines - and this is where I lose it - the editors of the major newspapers will be contacted - leaned on either implicitly or explicitly - to frame the story in a certain way - to not pay too much attention to the upcoming negative headline - to pay more attention and make the lead story of the next day's paper the positive story because that is the patriotic decision, etc. I need to find out who are the editors of the five majors and what their affiliation is. Who pays their salaries? Corporate contacts? Stock holdings? Other business interests?

UPDATE:It's been a day or two since we've had reports of more GI's killed in Iraq. The deaths don't always occur on a linear basis - you could go almost a week with no deaths, and then lose 16 in a helicopter crash. That is the tricky part about Rove's job - how to play the waiting game. You can only stretch a would-be headline out for so long. If you wait too long, the press will not want to play ball. You've got to have something that the press can at least pretend to believe is a story that is not more than a week old. You have to give the press an excuse. That is the point of U.S. propaganda coming out of Iraq, for instance. Bush believers need something to believe in - anything. So, you give it to them. No, our soldiers didn't fire on innocent, unarmed protesters who were trying to exercise their supposedly-newly acquired right to free speech - someone in the crowd fired first, and only then did U.S. soldiers open up on the crowd. Whatever. It doesn't matter if it's believable or not - the sheepy proles who want desperately to believe will believe whatever you put in front of them. Other gullible persons in the middle will have second thoughts. And, in a sense, we haven't been taught that we need to look twice at everything we see and read. Our teachers never told us that in grade school. They never told us the real story of Christopher Columbus - explorer/mass murdered. So, in a sense, it's no wonder that people don't question - they haven't been taught to do so.

So, back to the original point, timing. It's killing me to know what Rove is going to come up with. Maybe he feels a bit protected with a big football weekend coming up, but next weekend will be tough if we don't get 500 out of the way this weekend. No football next weekend - there's always an off week before the superbowl. Drama....

UPDATE:Report of five GI's killed. Does that put us over 500? Where's Rove's story?

UPDATE:It seems I couldn't have been more wrong about this 500 thing. Really. The press gave it next to zippo - and it really came in with a bang, too - three GI's killed by another roadside bomb. Nice. And then a little bomb outside the American base in Baghdad killed a few people. Conflicting reports on whether any Americans bit it. Odd. It was none, then three, then two, then none. Maybe it's just not good news before The State of the Union address. Check out some video here to get a feel for how outrageously massive this bombing was...

UPDATE:Were any US soldiers killed in the half-ton bomb attack or not? This article says two.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

America, Please Don't Hurt Us

Does an article like this even matter?

More South Koreans perceive the United States to be the greatest threat to their security than assign that role to North Korea. A recent survey by Seoul-based polling firm Research and Research indicates that 39 percent of Koreans view the United States as the greatest threat to Korea's security, with 58 percent of those in their 20s feeling this way. Of the total, 33 percent saw North Korea as the greatest threat.
Now, the article isn't talking about American invading South Korea, but it is talking about America invading North Korea, with North Korea subsequently retaliating against South Korea - specifically, Seoul. Scary.

Classic! SPAM me, please!

Apparently, Margaret Cho got slammed with a bunch of hate mail after Drudge posted an excerpt of her skit the other night from the Bush in 30 Seconds gala. As a response to the hatemail, Margaret's manager posted some of the most vitriolic emails on a political website - email addresses, names, everything! Dumbass bigots crack me up! :D

It's Wor-king....America gets a taste of her own medicine

From the BBC News:

An American Airlines pilot has been detained in Brazil after making an obscene gesture when photographed on arrival, Brazilian police have said.
I love this. More - more!

UPDATE: Ouch! Check out this article. $12,750!!! That's one heck of a fine!

Someone other than Dean or Clark for President?

C'mon. Seriously. Do you really think that Deaniacs or Clark's GI's would actually vote, much less rally behind, a softie like Gephardt? Who, by the way, is advising Kerry? Kerry for President? Are you serious? It really is unthinkable. Who, outside of Gephardt's campaign team, for instance, actually thinks that liberals like me would vote for him? Seriously. We would have a third party running, I guarantee it. It would be disastrous, of course, and Dubya would win, but at least we could lose with dignity.

This Democratic campaign is not just about winning the presidency - in a way, it's far more than that. Democrats need to find a voice - any voice. Clinton said it best - and nobody denies its truthfulness - and yet Democrats still don't care to recognize it. Better to be strong and wrong, than weak and right.

Carville's book captures the mood of the politically-oppressed in the U.S. today - Had Enough? : A Handbook for Fighting Back. Who cares if we win or not - it's not about that anymore - it's about saving face. Shoot - I'd compare the plight of liberal Americans to that of the Palestinians. We've lost, we are under control - that big, nazi-like Republican boot is forcefully planted in the center of our backs, pushing our faces into the dirt. We've lost nearly all of our self-respect, but we haven't given up hope yet. That is what this 2004 Democratic campaign is all about. Self-respect.

Gephardt and other career politicians like Kerry couldn't possibly hope to redeem the Party - the Party cannot be saved from within. Of this, I am sure.

The Real State of the Union

Joshua (why do I always want to say 'John' - is that supposed to be short for Joshua?) Marshall told us about The Real State of the Union event in DC. I stopped in at the only session I thought would be interesting:


James Fallows, Francis Fukuyama,Kenneth Pollack, Paul Glastris, and Martin Walker; Moderator: Kathryn Kross
Surprising to me was that all of the speakers were rather good. Well, at least they spoke clearly, and quickly - or at least not too slowly, which I think is the norm in these types of watch me, see me, hear me, I'm special events.

James Fallows, now the National Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, opened up - actually he was already speaking when I got there - couldn't have been more than five minutes past 11 am. On time - pretty cool. Unique, that's for sure. Anyhoo, he was good, and set the pace.

Francis Fukuyama, the next speaker, was good too. He's the Dean of Faculty at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. I figure any school with enough gumption to name themselves 'School of Advanced [fill-in-the-blank]' must be pretty good. I thought Fukuyama was interesting for a few reasons. One, he's not white/causasion/whatever - therefore, he doesn't fit the mold of old, stodgy, cracker-jack-white, egotistical, American professor of something-or-other-ology who has mostly contempt or pity for other cultures. Second, he's not female. I saw 'Francis' on the agenda handout and thought 'wow, a woman.' Should I have been surprised to see a female name on the agenda? [email] Third, he's associated with JHU - the old home of one Paul Wolfowitz. Actually, it looks like Fukuyama took over for Wolfy when 'the wolfman' decided to run off and start conquering galaxies. Curious if there's a personal relationship there. Fukuyama seemed pretty level-headed, so maybe not. Hmmmm.

Next was the infamous Kenneth Pollack. He, I suppose, was the headliner. He's the main reason I was curious to show up. He seemed relatively smart, and somehow seemed apologetic for the Administration, as usual, for the Iraq war, but was also more harsh than I expected him to be - calling for investigations and all sorts of liberal nonsense. I guess I really haven't figured out how otherwise reasonable, supposedly-intelligent people could have supported the Iraq War - the way the U.S. did it. I just don't get it - at all - so I just can't let go of this deep contempt I hold for everyone who supported the war. It is thus that I hold a special reserve of contempt for those who really pushed the Iraqi Oil agenda forward - Pollack did so with his book that so many pols then used as an excuse. Well, I couldn't help it, I mean, the book, the, it has this POWER over you... You'd think they were talking about the ring, man! So, in that way, it's not on Pollack that so many of our politicians either had no spine, no brains, were only interested in being re-relected (Hillary?), or some combo of these.

Martin Walker, the final speaker (I think! - what happened to Paul Glastris - was he that unremarkable?!), was a UK-type guy with neocon-type apologetic qualities for the Administration. I don't understand that. I think he was saying something along the lines of this was was all wrong, wrong, wrong, but it was the the right thing to do (to invade). Whatever.

So, Paul Glastris is apparently the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. Sorry, Paul - I don't remember thee. You might want to spice it up a bit next time. Maybe slip a couple of jokes in there somewhere.

I hardly remember what each of them was talking about. The room/building we were in, listed on the website as Senate Caucus Room Russell Senate Office Building; Constitution & Delaware Ave.; Washington, DC was marvelous...borderline spectacular. It was noisy, and I was celebrity searching. [Do all journalists look like Joe Conason?] Didn't see anyone I recognized, but it seemed like there was a row at the front for important people. I wouldn't recognize but a handful of congressfolks anyways.

There were no signs for where the shindig was going on, so after the compulsory anal probe at the entrance to the building, I wandered down one of the halls to see the office waiting area for 'The Honorable blah blah Warner'. Man - these guys are LIVIN'! Now I can see why Daschle is so willing to do whatever to keep his plush Senate office. I mean, I think I tend to the side of good principles, moral righteousness, etc., but put me up in one of these offices for a couple of days....and HOOOO-WEEEE boy, I'll start talkin' Texas quicker than hell could scorch a feather!

So, I'm looking for a transcript if you know where I can get one...or a video...which is a nice segway into the less impressive details of the gathering. First, it seemed like the events of the day were rolling - nonstop - no pee breaks - nada - just keep on keepin' on - or else. That sense of urgency can be nice, as opposed to a sense of we-have-the-rest-of-our-natural-born-lives-ness, but the event, for me, seemed rushed. Like swallowing water from a firehose.

There were a bunch of impeccably-dressed intern-types running around in dark suit/skirt things, dropping friendly smiles, asking for names for registration (Ashcroft-itis?), pushing folks into seats upon entering the Barmitvah-like speaking room, chattering in the back of the room or just outside it - I guess to add to the already undulating pitch of white noise competing with the panelists for the ears of the 250 (?) or so guests. The cameras at the back of the room - crimeny - how many were there - 15? Real cameras too - not the little, dinky, handhelds that don't make a racket when you change their VHS tape internals. Tellin' ya, the speakers were very good to speak as clearly as they did.

Oh, and this. This is hilarious. The WHOLE F*CKING TIME, off to the right side of the room, there was a staff of about four to six waiter-types clinging and clanging and jangling and whatever else. What in the H*LL were they doing, exactly? I swear, it went on for the entire time I was there, and it culminated in a brief announcement, just before the last speaker, that everyone was going to be 'eating at their chairs', and 'please wait until about 11.20 am to soothe your voracious appetite by cracking open those incredibly-loud platic-y containers - and filling your piehole with nonother than a....roast beef sandwich?' Roast beef or turkey, apparently. Well, someone was feigning shock horror at the choice of roast beef. Me, free is free. Always willing to help the mad cattle lobby get back to business.

So, the last speaker is on - and the guy with really bad breath to my right is laughing at the ridiculousness of this eating-in-place exercise - which makes me laugh - but I almost gagged when I caught a wiff of the noxious fumes emanation from the mouth of Mr. GO BRUSH YOUR GO*-DAMNED TEETH ONCE IN A WHILE, AND FLOSS TOO! I was forced to not-so-discreetly cast my face down and towards my left armpit (down...and to the left, down...and to the left) sucking away for life at some not-overly-funkified air to breath into my now-poisoned lungs (I've found the chemical weapons!). Wow, it was a mess. So, stomachs are growling. Plastic-enveloped sandwiches are being handed out in a not-so-silent fashion - 'Turkey or Roast Beef? Turkey? Roast Beef? I only have Roast Beef left. Wait, I can go get another.' Of course, there are only three aisles in the whole damn place - one on either side of the room, and one down the middle. The rows were, oh, about....25 people per. Take one plastic-y container, drool, pass it down, take one, drool, pass it down. Oh, the speaker - that's right - there's someone up there speaking. Cameras getting kicked and bumped, cameramen changing tapes, the stewardesses chatter-ing up a storm that would make Al Qaeda jealous on New Year's Eve, the girl behind me who is compelled to give to her cohort a brief synopsis of the entire Iraq conflict - current status, runup details, and historical context, because said cohort was evidently holed-up in a cave in Afghanistan for the past couple of years - the smirks of the panelists as they being to recognize the Falluja-like riot atmosphere descending upon the room - it was waaaaay too much for me.

I quickly formulated an exit strategy. The weather was milder today than that of previous days. I would cordone-off whichever type of sandwich it was my good fortune to snare, and put on a brave and patient face until I saw an opening - and then make a run for the border. The elements vs. Fallujah/DC - I'll take the elements. I don't know what event triggered my reaction, but my instincts told me 'NOW! NOW!' and I broke for the door, sandwich in hand. I went back in to grab a can of Coke off the table - and then bolted. I felt like all the stewardesses were looking at me, like Dude, you didn't want to eat next to smelly? Like, didn't they announce that we were eating 'in our seats'?

Did I mention how close together the seats were? Try, touching each other. I'm not kidding. And guess how much room there was from row to row - guess. Almost none. You could *not* pass someone in your row. We're not talking a tight squeeze like at the MCI Center, or any stadium/convention/arena-type complex - we're talking, NOT POSSIBLE. Fortunately I was only the second seat in, so only Smelly had to get up to allow me access to my seat. I'm curious how the eat-in-place thing went...I honestly can't imagine it. No trays, no place to put your drink, no rooms to move your arms to shuffle parts of dead animals into your piehole, halitosis-stricken people masticating all around you. Noooo, thanks.

The little lunchbox/plastic/sandwich-type thing they had was pretty dope, though, I have to admit. Good sandwich - a packet of mustard and mayo, an apple, a big chocolate-chip cookie, a napkin. Yep, no complaints on the food. I kinda wanted to go in and grab a few of those lunchbox-type meals to hand out to the homeless folks, but I didn't have the guts.

What else? Oh, questions from the audience. One lady from NOW or some similar organization gets up and asks one of the panel members about the situation for women in Iraq, and in particular, why or what or how, with respect to not enough women on the governing boards of Iraq. I can't keep track of all the congresses going on. What is there - the CPA, the INC, and IGC? Probably others, but one of them doesn't have enough women - like 3% or something she said. My first thought was, "let's try to fix America first, baby!" So, knowing that most Americans are ethnocentric even beyond their wildest dreams - even so-called liberals - I thought I'd check what the status of women in the U.S. Congress is. The Center for American Women and Politics says that in 2003, women held 13.6% of the 535 seats (the 108th U.S. Congress). That's 73 seats of the 435 in the House, and 14 of the 100 in the Senate. Now, my math turns out a little bit different [(73+14)/535 = 16.3%], but what's a couple of percentage points? That's interesting - I was guessing 5%, my co-worker guessed 30%. In any case, I don't even know what the Panel's answer was. I'm curious to know what they said. I'll tell ya what - being a woman in Iraqistan right now can't be much fun.

The best question came from...a CATO person?! I swear, the world has gone completely insane. Well, this is the Administration of upside-downism, so I guess it makes sense. I'm really worried that I agree with CATO on so many things these days. Seriously - this is scary. In any case, Charles Peña, said something to the effect I want to challenge the seemingly-forgone conclusion that staying to occupy Iraq is the best solution to our current predicament - hemorrhaging innocent lives, good will, money, etc. As one of the panelists just said, occupation is not something new for the U.S. - we've done it 17 or so times this century - and only three times did we achieve a clear success. So, what up? Something like that. Previously, one of the panelists had listed Japan, Germany, and I think South Korea as our only reconstruction successes. All 14 others (Guatemala, Haiti a couple of times, etc) were failures. The panelist argued that staying five-plus years doesn't guarantee success - in fact, it is almost a sure indication of a failed reconstruction. So, I thought Peña made a good point, and I don't remember who answered, but it was very dismissive in tone - something like 'well, blah blah blah, and how dare you even suggest, and blah blah blah, and we have to give it our best shot.' So much for debate.

And Pollack is part of Brookings. WTF?!