Friday, April 30, 2004

Drudge On C-SPAN

I've said it before - he's definitely a gangster - hard-core right winger, but he is so incredibly right about a lot of things.

This segment is an entire hour and it's very revealing. Drudge is very much a libertarian on some very important issues - which means he wants the government out of his business. Wow. Good stuff.

After watching this clip you might get an idea about how extreme lefties can still read The Drudge Report. He's totally irreverent to all the people that one is not supposed to be irreverent towards. He's got this massive underdog persona thing - identifies with the underdog, etc. This really baffles me, because if you root for the underdog then you should be rooting for the Democrats, for the underprivileged, etc. - not the uber-rich Republicans who run all three branches of government, most major media outlets, etc.

U.S. Terrorizing Prisoners of War

Well, we don't know if it was US mercs or US soldiers, but they told this guy if he fell off the box he'd be electrocuted. This is by far and away the least disturbing of the photos. Check here for more reasons not to support this war, nor any war. And the pictures, I'm sure, show only part of the story.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

U.S. Gets Big Win In Dominating Performance Over Mexico

Yup yup. The US seemed to dominate the fast-paced game, and went up 1-0 with less than a minute remaining in injury time. Awesome!

I think the US team just wanted it more tonight. All of the US players know that their positions are not guaranteed until the official roster for the World Cup is named, and even then they'd better stay sharp if they hope to start. The good attitude on the part of the players shows in at least a couple of quotes after the game:

Bobby Convey, usually a forward, on whether he's happy to be playing out of position, at left back:

Yeah, I gotta be. I’m on the field and that’s where I’m going to be. I’m fine playing there. I just have to keep proving myself.

Chevrolet Man of the Match, Landon Donovan, on whether this game makes up for the poor performance against Haiti:

None of these games are really that important. They are important from a personal standpoint, because you want to perform for Bruce, but the real games are coming up.

From Bruce Arena:

The players are the ones who won the game. We have good players. They don’t get enough credit. We’ve demonstrated that perhaps in this region we are the team to beat.


Sinclair Broadcasting Group Refuses To Air Nightline's Soldier Tribute

Check the Eschaton. Looks like SGBI turned off most of their public email addresses. We'll just have to go with their 'digital tv' email address:

Sender:Peter Smith
Subject:Complaint: Refusal to air soldier tribute is despicable...

Ted Koppel's Nightline, scheduled to air Friday night, will pay tribute to American soldiers killed in action in the past few months. Americans are not aware of the horrors of any war, and especially ignorant of this Iraq war which has been sanitized of all its inhumanity by major media outlets with the help of companies like Sinclair. By pulling this episode of Nightline from the air you are doing a disservice to the men and women of our armed forces who can no longer speak for themselves. They gave their lives for any number of reasons, but at least one of those reasons was to guarantee a healthy and safe democracy here in America. Keeping from the American people the true cost of this war is un-American on several levels - not the least of which is that censorship greatly weakens a democracy. A healthy democracy depends on an informed public citizenry. It is encumbent upon Sinclair to begin to live up to the reputation of integrity that it wishes to espouse.

Please honor the American soldiers who have fallen by putting this week's Nightline back on the air.

Filmfest DC (2004)

Looks like there are some really cool films showing at this year's Filmfest. Too bad I just realized it was going on - almost over. Updates when I've seen something!


Saw Ana y los otros (Ana and the others). Purty good. Ana goes off to live in the big bad city only to return to the hick town where she grew up. When asked how long she's visiting for, she'll only commit to 'a few days.' She does a lot of deep contemplating about what she really wants from life, and a lot of thinking about her former boyfriend. Was the big city everything it was supposed to be? The end of the movie is a bit freaky - which I liked. Unpredictability has to be one of the best aspects of indie-flick culture.

I imagine that this 'coming home' ceremony is played out by countless individuals all over the globe. In the US, many kids go out of town for college and return home. They're either glad to be back in the safety of their hometown of they're frightened by how small and unimaginative a place it is. Being able to watch someone else go through the experience is interesting.

The scenery - what is apparently Argentina - is cool.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

What Every Person Should Know About War

This book is not out yet, but I'll be sure to pick it up when it is released. Seems to be what I've been looking for - a real down-home description of battle on the front lines - not the sanitized version we get on tv. Chris Hedges mentioned it during his panel discussion the other day.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Yet More Hatemongering To Address

Atrios tells us about yet another racist Boston DJ. Man, where do they find these people? I wrote to most of the advertisers - those that has an email address:

Sender:Peter Smith
Subject:Complaint: Swift punishment of Severin requested...,,,,,,,,,,,,,

It is not appropriate to make fun of killing people - be they Americans or not. The hateful rhetoric that Mr. Severin choose to espouse ('kill all Muslims') will only further divide our country, thus weakening our country's ability to achieve our foreign policy goals.

Mr. Severin should be severely reprimanded for his hateful rhetoric, if not fired outright. I have contacted all of your advertisers to express my outrage. Mr. Severin's comments are neither enlightened nor patriotic. Advertisers would rightly consider it their patriotic duty to employ only the services of radio stations which do not engage in hate speech.

Thank you.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

Unhappy Birthday Party for IMF & World Bank

Saturday's World Bank/IMF protest in DC was a day ahead of the massive March for Women's Lives protest. It was overshadowed, but I still saw quite a few (100?) straggling protesters on the streets of downtown at 5 pm or so. The important thing to realize as a citizen of the United States is that your tax money goes to propping up these institutions, so you should figure out what the heck they're all about. Most network tv only talks about the 'radical and violent protesters', but they don't talk about the radical and violent policies of the World Bank and the IMF.

The job of these institutions, as far as I know, is to promote global trade, a healthy global economy, healthier economies of all countries (presumably to promote democracy and capitalism and decrease extremism and terrorism and communism), and to decrease world poverty. Why, then, would these two institutions hold all of their meetings in secret? Sounds a little odd, don't you think? If you need answers, read The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast. You'll finally realize why these kids/protesters are so pissed-off.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (2004)

Wow. Saw this awesome panel on BookTV today. They were covering the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Thank God for CSPAN (and all its related entities). Unreal. From the BookTV website, we have:

Saturday, April 24

Panel: The Seduction of War

Anthony Swofford, "Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles"
Chris Hedges, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning"
James Hillman, "A Terrible Love of War"
Leo Braudy, "From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity"
Samantha Power, "'A Problem from Hell': America and the Age of Genocide"—Moderator

I'll start by saying that Anthony Swofford's book, "Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles", must be awesome. I still haven't read it, but some of the stories he tells are just unreal. He says he used to be a scrawny little kid - now's he's a monster (he is) - and part of his book details the changes in his psyche as the Marines are transforming him into a superior killing machine. Awesome stuff.

Some of the other panelists have some very interesting things to say, also. I know Samantha Power, the moderator, is now being trumpeted as one of the top intelligensia voices in America today. The other panelists, one a reporter were also very valuable. The reporter had a very interesting point. He noted how, when he was following a particular war - within the battle zone - he and his war-reporting colleagues would actually feel sort of depressed when the war ended. Despite the horrifcs they'd witnessed up close, they could not wait to get to the next war zone. He said he knew, when he was in the middle of the war zone, he knew that there was no place on earth he'd rather be b/c he knew that he was, right then and there, living his life to its fullest, at its highest possible value. He was so fevered for war that he would have gladly given his life for the chance to report on the war because, while there, he felt so extremely alive. As soon as he left the war zone and got over the intoxication of war, he felt how shallow and stupid was his enchantment with it all. It was pretty awesome how he just laid it all out there - the truth - that as vulgar and horrific as he and many of his correspondent associates felt war was - they couldn't help themselves - they had to be there - they were drawn to it.

Will post link to CSPAN as soon as it's available...

UPDATE: Got it!

Also, I saw another panel at this festival which was not quite as awesome, but still very interesting (and fun):

Sunday, April 25

Panel: From Negro to African American: Is There a Limit to Identity Politics?

A link to this panel is here. This panel was cool because it covered the very serious topic of identity/race politics, and the panel did it with a good amount of humor.

On a side note, I love it how black intellectuals can drop the $5 words with the best of 'em, but they can also bring their language down to 'street' whenever they're talking to laymen. Awesome! Reminds me of the newest black pol on the scene - Barack Obama (pronounced like Osama). The now semi-famous stump speech to the blue-collar crowd: My name is Obama, not yo-mama!

March For Women's Lives

Wow. That was an incredible sight. LOTS of people. Loud. Raucous. Boisterous. Lively. Colorful. Cheerful. Empowering. Proactive. Challenging. Defiant. Inspiring.

First, a little picture action:

I've been to some demonstrations before, but this one was crazy. CSPAN showed some of it live, but I'm not sure when they started. I don't know if they caught only the tail end of it, when it didn't show on tv the massive numbers of people I saw out there. Supposed to be on again tonight at 2 am - prime time! Maybe I'll try to record that mess.

Definitely fun watching the pro-life, church people fight it out with the pro-choice people. Lots of pictures of mutilated fetuses out there. Lots of cops. Lots of celebs. Lots of Kerry signs. Lots of cameras.

All in all, a pretty massive display of power.

The whole pro-choice/pro-life debate is really about women's rights - that is, the larger issue of women's rights - not just whether or not women have the right to choose to have an abortion or not. That may seem obvious to some, but it wasn't obvious to me until I actually read something about it. I still can't articulate well, but the bottom line is this: Women, by the very nature of the fact that they coudl produce children, could be forced into a life of submissiveness, even near-slavery. If a woman was raped, for instance, she would have to take care of her child, which wouldn't leave time to work, which meant she was dependent on the government or a man to provide for her. Thus, she became beholden to either the government or a man to provide for her livelihood and the livelihood of her child - she gave up nearly all her rights as a free person. If she became dependent on a man, she surely couldn't cross that man in any way because she needed his financial assistance to live. If she chose, instead, to become beholden to the government, she'd have to follow all the government's rules, and more or less be confined to a life of near-poverty for the entirety of her future. Having a child could affect your life in myriad other ways. For instance, having a child that you have to raise by yourself would prevent you not only from not having a job, but from having a career. Shouldn't we all be entitled to have a career? To be able to work hard at some job and have the chance to move up in the world through dedicated hard work? Should women have to sacrifice their right to have a career because they have the ability to have children? By focusing our efforts on only the abortion issue, we miss the bigger issue - women's rights.

What could a possible solution to the abortion issue be, given that the country is so polarized on either side of the issue? Well, by focusing on the bigger issues of women's rights, I think we could make serious progress. For instance, I think we could drastically reduce the abortion rate in our country (currently, about 1.3 million abortions per year) by guaranteeing health and day care for all children in the United States from birth until such time as the mother and/or parents are able to provide care, or until that child is independent (i.e. 18 years old). By providing such case, would-be mothers would no longer be faced with the options of (i) giving their child up for adoption, (ii) having an abortion, (iii) or having and keeping the baby and essentially giving up their lives for the next 18 years. Is cutting the abortion rate in half something religious fundamentalists would consider worthwhile? Or would they still demand fully outlawing abortion? How many mothers would take the new option of having a baby now that they would be guaranteed health care and day care for the child until the child is 18? I like it.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Israel Knew About 9/11 Beforehand

I just read a scary article by Justin Raimondo at It suggests that Israel, through its spy agency Mossad, knew all about the 9/11 hijacking plot beforehand and didn't relate that information to the United States government. Why? Because Israel wanted the US to experience a true terror attack, to be able to really sympathize with the Israeli fight against terrorism. Through a horrific terror attack, Israel would be able to link its fate to that of the United States - the world's sole hyperpower. Israel was looking for a even-more free hand to kill and oppress the Palestinians. Israel (and neocons running White House foreign policy) saw 9/11 as a gateway to a global war - against Muslims.

I recently became more convinced that a global conflagration between Christians and Muslims is what the Bush Administration and its neocon advisers are looking for with the 'debacle' in Iraq, so none of this sounds too far-fetched. Scary stuff. What to do?

Start by reading the article and all of the articles it links to. Then think about all the 'nonsense' you heard about there being no Israelis in the World Trade Center buildings the morning of September 11, 2001. This is deep conspiracy theory stuff, but the truth is the truth.

How did I miss all of these articles in 2002? I guess I just wasn't paying enough attention. Shoot!

Arianna Layeth the Smack Down!

I think this whole blog thing is really rubbing off on Arianna Huffington. She's written some pretty harsh stuff before, but this article is brutal. Here's a little taste:

In Dante's "Inferno," deceivers are sentenced to have their souls encased in flames, hypocrites are forced to wear a cloak weighted with lead, and those who use their powers of persuasion for insidious ends are doomed to suffer a continual fever so intense that their body sizzles and smokes like a steak tossed on a George Foreman grill. Maybe Satan will give Powell a three-afflictions-for-the-price-of-one deal.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Richard Perle Makes Appearance On Same Panel As Juan Cole

Some things are just not right. The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has been having hearings this week with 'experts' to figure out what the heck is going on in Iraq and how to rectify the situation. After a last-minute scratch, Richard Perle, a.k.a. The Prince of Darkness, was asked to testify. I object to this on several grounds, but I think Juan Cole points them out better than I could.

Cole's remarks were tough, which was good. Inject some reality into this whole Iraq debate. His own post about the Perle experience is here, and his pre-written testimony is here.

Anyways, I called and left a message for the Committee's Majority Leader, Dick Lugar, and dropped an email to the Committee's Minority Leader, Joe Biden. Lugar doesn't seem to have an email address.

[Note: I assume that's Dick Lugar is the Majority Leader of this committee since Frist (GOP) is Senate Majority Leader. I thought the Senate was split 50/50, so how does the GOP get the majority? We'll figure that out another day.]

The email to Biden is below:

   Sender: Peter Smith
  Subject: Richard Perle testifies in front of Foreign Relations Comm.?

Mr. Biden,

Providing the 'Honorable' Richard Perle a platform to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week was a mistake. These meetings are too important to introduce to this important fact-finding process someone who is so bitterly partisan.

Mr. Perle has pushed for war against Iraq for more than ten years. Mr. Perle has no discernable expertise in the Middle East. He's never lived in an Arab country, nor does he speak any Arabic. And let's face it, there's only so much perspective one can pick up inside the echo chamber of the American Enterprise Institute. Further, Mr. Perle was forced to resign his post, under a veil of corruption, as head of the Defense Policy Board. On moral grounds alone, someone so closely tied to a corruption scandal involving the War on Iraq should not be testifying before a Committee whose mission it is to bring about bipartisan support to save the disastrous situation in Iraq. And as someone so closely tied to the Pentagon, neither can Mr. Perle be relied upon for non-partisan information. Last minute write-in or not, it was wholly inappropriate to have Mr. Perle testify before your committee. I hope that the results of your hearings will not be automatically impugned merely by the mention of Mr. Perle's appearance.

Also, these meetings - based on the transcripts of prepared notes alone - seem to be providing extremely valuable information (I am able to disregard Perle's ideological diatribes and factless prescriptions). I've no idea if they hearings, or their 'inquiry time' are closed, but if they can be opened to CSPAN and thus the general public, they should be. All Americans would welcome a chance to listen to true experts for a change. We want answers for Iraq and we want them now.

Thank you for the efforts.


Another Iraq Veteran Comes Home and Kills

If you aren't ready yet, then get ready for a continuing stream of this kind of stuff. I'd suggest reading a few anti-war books about what intense combat can do to your head.

I'm not at all surprised that this guy - or any other soldier returning from Iraq - could flip out. I imagine that a GI returning from a 1-year deployment in Iraq, having experienced mostly mid-level-intensity combat, would need at least 3 years to come down to a 'safe' level. That's three years of tapered 're-integration' with society. That must be a nightmare trying to come 'home'. Just the notion that 'home' is that place you left before your war experiences...ridiculous.

I hope someone does a documentary on what the scene is actually like in Iraq. I can hardly imagine how awful and brutal and disgusting some of the scenes would be. Maybe there already exists good documentaries of such conflicts...will research...

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Event: 04/21/04: The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership; Zbigniew Brzezinski

I've heard, on more than one occasion, that 'zeh-Big' is 'zeh-sh*t', so I'm gonna check him out. Zbigniew Brzezinski (Zeh-BIG-new Breh-ZIN-skee) is a cold war hardliner - he's smart, a team player, well-respected, worked for several presidents, and deplores Bush's foreign policy (profile).

Found the listing for this book tour event at the Washington City Paper's 'Arts & Events' page:

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, discusses and signs copies of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Library of Congress, Madison Building, Mumford Room, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Thu., 4/22, at 6:30 p.m. Free. (202) 707-3302.

UPDATE: Zbig was awesome. Funny. Insightful. Fair. Kept as non-partisan as possible in spite of the Bush Administration's horrificly assinine and lobsided policies. He repeated a bunch of stuff from the speech he gave earlier this year at the conference called New American Strategies for Security and Peace, sponsored by the Center for American Progress. READ THIS SPEECH! I'll repeat a couple of anecdotes/insights from his remarks today, some of which repeated what was said in his earlier speech, and add some unique aspects from this appearance:

Several points from Zbig's speech:

  • US foreign policy has been extremely successful for several decades (since WW II). The reason is because we've always had a balanced foreign policy based on bipartisan ideals of what national security meant.

  • Extremist foreign policy views of Bush Administration will be rejected at the ballot box.

  • Bush's rhetoric is dangerous. The 'you are either with us or against us' spiel was originally used by Stalin. This was a 'wow moment' for the audience.

  • Bush's invokation of 'God' in almost all of his decisions is dangerous. Specifically, Bush's reliance stricly on God to provide Bush all his foreign policy decisions is dangerous because it comes from 'within Bush' - meaning he's not consulting with anyone outside himself - meaning he is really not being influenced by people who really know what they're doing. This 'from within himself' got a few laughs from the audience, as did Zbig's several other rips on Bush's complete reliance on God to make Bush's decisions for him.

  • No European population majority 'likes' the US.

  • A significant percentage of Eurpeans (20+%?) answered 'yes' when asked the following question: Are you disappointed that Iraq didn't resist the American invasion more effectively? The reason Zbig thinks this is signficant is because it's not an insignificant number - say 2% or so, wich we might be able to write-off as an extremist position, but also because of what Zbig thinks the real meaning of this question is. Translated, he think's the question is really asking: Are you disappointed that more Americans weren't killed during the invasion?

  • Tells the 'de Gaulle' story. This is brutal. Zbig's point here is that America's power to persuade other counties - allies and foes alike, without really having to persuade them, is a great power that we have lost with the Bush Administration. This ties into the whole 'soft power' argument. Here's the text from his original speech earlier in the year:

    Ladies and gentlemen, forty years ago almost to the day an important Presidential emissary was sent abroad by a beleaguered President of the United States. The United States was facing the prospect of nuclear war. These were the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Several emissaries went to our principal allies. One of them was a tough-minded former Secretary of State, Dean Acheson whose mission was to brief President De Gaulle and to solicit French support in what could be a nuclear war involving not just the United States and the Soviet Union but the entire NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact.

    The former Secretary of State briefed the French President and then said to him at the end of the briefing, I would now like to show you the evidence, the photographs that we have of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The French President responded by saying, I do not wish to see the photographs. The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me. Please tell him that France stands with America.

    Would any foreign leader today react the same way to an American emissary who would go abroad and say that country X is armed with weapons of mass destruction which threaten the United States? There’s food for thought in that question.

  • The Afghan people helped the US fight in Afghanistan because they felt greatly indebted to the US for helping them get rid of the Russians 20 years ago. This same sympathy was not present in Iraq.

  • 19,000+ British soldiers and civilians were fighting in the First Afghan War. Only 1 made it back to safe-haven of still-English-controlled India. Right now, the US has 20,000 soldiers in Afghanistan - with no heavy armor. Think about it. (My limited research shows that of those 15,000+ people, only 3,000 or so were soldiers. They were cut off from their supplies and slowly massacred as they made their way back towards safety.)

Some stuff from the short Q&A session held after Zbig's remarks:

  • Q: [Think this came-out spontaneously. Either that, or I just don't remember the question!]

    A: Shortly after 9/11, Zbig had lunch with the UK foreign secretary (Jack Straw?). Zbig said we are going to have to deal with Iraq now. He stressed that he didn't think anything close to war would be necessary, but he did think the US would have to deal with Iraq. The foreign secretary for the UK said that we (US and UK) should not touch Iraq. The reason, then, that Tony Blair decided to back the US on the War in Iraq was a strategic decision that would strongly align the UK with the US. It was a way to guarantee the UK's security, and also regain some prominence they lost since the 'good old days' of their empire.

  • Q: If we didn't import 50% of our oil, would we (the US) still pay so much attention to the Middle East?
    A: If my aunt had whiskers, she'd be my uncle. Our dependence on Middle Eastern oil is the reality, unfortunately.

This gathering was held at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act

The O'Franken Factor Blog has a link to the website of Congressman Rush Holt (NJ, D-12th), who has introduced H.R. 2239 to the House. Please drop a quick email to your representative and let him/her know that a paper trail is important!

My representative to the Congress is Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton:

Hello Ms. Norton,

Please support The Voter Confidence And Increased Accessibility Act of 2003.

Over the past few months I have become aware of the significant vulnerabilities of computerized voting systems with regards to hacking, voting system 'bugs', systems failures, and the general lack of accountability being provided by the proponents of computerized voting. There is mounting evidence that computerized voting systems are not yet secure and are not yet ready for 'prime time' on several different levels ( Companies such as Diebold should not be trusted with my vote as they have proven their lack of commitment to secure voting and their ability and willingness to cover-up their systems' flaws. Other voting systems have not yet been tested sufficiently.

The 2000 elections debacle had nations around the world calling on America to begin using UN voting oversight. Aside from calling into the question the legitimacy of our government, this was a major international embarrassment for the country. Now that America has taken up the role of 'spreading democracy across the globe', I should hope that we will also take up the role of demonstrating a functional democracy on the homeland - one that can only exist by demonstrating fair, open, and accountable elections. This issue of verified voting *should* be bipartisan as every member of Congress should be interested in making sure their constituents votes are counted accurately - regardless of their party affiliation.

There may be no more important bill this year.

Thank you.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Agreement or Not?

So there's a new pseudo-agreement today between US forces and the local clerics of Fallujah - which means there's really no agreement yet at all - just an agreement to try to get an agreement. The clerics may not have sufficient control over the resistance fighters to get them to lay down their weapons. [Remember: Sadr is in Najaf, not Fallujah.]

But check out this passage from first story quoted above:

In the statement, the Americans agreed to allow better access to hospitals and graveyards and ease the movement of "official ambulances" throughout checkpoints. Marines have said gunmen have been using ambulances to move.

I'd actually just heard this on TV, and was like 'huh?'. It reminded me of something I'd read earlier today, which I can't find right now, but it was a blog report from a British humanitarian aid who was shot at by a US sniper every time (s)he tried to run across the street to the hospital. Now, maybe you are inclined to believe that 100% of the injured in this civilian city are resistance fighters (not even US forces claim 100%), but if you have a healthy mistrust of your government (you should), then you'll know otherwise. The US's collective punishment arrangement has to be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. Of course, it is immoral to punish a civilian population for a country's military actions. That's why armies aren't supposed to attack civilians. That's what supposed to happen - in theory, anyways. How many civilians are suffering and dying from lack of access to the hospitals? How many civilians inside the hospital are suffering and dying as a result of supplies not being able to get through?

Now, as for the resistance fighters giving up their heavy weapons...I guess, if one were inclined to smoke very large and potent crack rocks for 24 hours straight, then one might be inclined to believe in the possibility that this 'disarmament' could actually occur. I haven't been down with the crack rock lately - so I'm inclined to believe that this is yet another pseudo-success headline from the US to give the US public the impression that things are still going swell in Iraq, and that the US is exercising all possible diplomatic avenues before flattening the town - resistance fighters and terrorists and civilians alike. Wish they could have done that before invading, but hey, nobody's perfect...

In yet another show of weakness by the US military, the US has backed-off a pledge to 'kill or capture' those responsible for the attacks on the four US military contractors - leaving that task to the local clerics - a job I'm sure they would work very hard at.

End of the day - Bush & Co. don't want too many more US deaths this month, so they're holding off on the full-scale invasion of the city. If the US military continues the starvation of the city for another couple of weeks, they're hoping that the resistance fighters will be significantly weakened. I don't doubt that their bodies will be weakended, but Iraqis and Muslims everywhere will cheer their heroic fight to the death against the superior US military - the world's lone superpower. Arabs and Muslims everywhere are already hearing the stories of the valiant freedom-fighters from Fallujah and Najaf. The starvation of the city of Fallujah by US forces just looks like barbarism - it is. The events of Fallujah and Najaf will probably serve to lift Iraqis to new heights of anti-Americanism, and will propel many of them over the ledge from resistance sympathizer to resistance fighter.

UPDATE: Found that 'British humanitarian aid' story about how the US has cut off access to the hospitals. Here's a brief clip:

People have been under bombardment for the last eight days. A lot of people are trapped in their houses still - despite the ceasefire - without food, without water and terrified to leave. Food and medical aid is now arriving but the problem is getting the aid around the city. A lot of it is delivered to the mosque, but then getting it to the hospitals, past the American snipers, is proving to be impossible.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Anti-Iraqi Forces Firing On...US Marines?

From the, we find that Centcom is getting shifty with the language again:

April 19, 2004
Release Number: 04-04-18



CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - Anti-Iraq forces took up military positions in a mosque and a nearby building in Fallujah April 18.

Anti-Iraqi forces occupying a building adjacent to a mosque attacked the crew of an M1-A1 tank. The crew returned fire with the tank's main gun, destroying the structure and killing one enemy who was armed with a rocket-propelled grenade. Multiple secondary explosions were observed.

Language - as we've noted previously - is very important. The specific terminology that one chooses to deploy is one of the primary skills of propganda-making. I just thought this case was particularly ridiculous. If an anti-Iraqi fighter is actually fighting a US Marine, then an anti-US fighter would actually be Iraqi? It's hilarious! Of course, the Bushies were making the case that anyone fighting the US in Iraq is actually fighting against Iraqis' best interests, but of course, it's confusing as heck - which is why they shouldn't have said it that way in the first place.

This situation reminds me of when the Bush Administration first trotted-out the homicide bomber term, instead of using the alternate suicide bomber (who killed 'x' number of people). The obvious problem here is that 'homicide bomber' takes away the fact that the suicide bomber was willing to give his life to make a political change - so either the suicide bomber was really dedicated, or he was extremely desperate. We want to know if people are desperate to attack us so we can prevent them from getting desperate. This reasoning is why we went into Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government and loose a capitalist democracy that would give young Muslim children other options than joining a madarassas - an Islamic school that can teach a profound hate of America.

Georgia Passes Laws Limiting Protests

OK folks, this is scary.

Organizers of protests like Randall's "G-8 Carnival" must put up refundable deposits equal to the city's estimated cost for clean up and police protection. Demonstrations may only last 2 hours, 30 minutes. Signs and banners may not be carried on sticks that might be brandished as weapons. And the signs may not be larger than 2-by-3 feet.

This is an outrage. But more than that - this is scary. Welcome to the police state, my friends. We have to do something. Join the ACLU if you haven't done so already. Contact the Brunswick, GA government. Contact the other cooperating governments.

And if you're not sure why all those 'crazy tree-hugging kids' keep going beserko every time the WTO has a summit meeting - it's time to get yourself edumacated. I used to think that the protesters were just a bunch of psychos - and then I read The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. This is probably the most important book of the last ten years. Read it. It'll help you gain a serious mistrust of your government and all its agencies - one of which is the WTO.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

US Support for Israel Has To Stop

Israel has a mighty grip on US foreign policy. The assassination today of a top Hamas leader by Israel presumably came with US approval - as does everything that Israel does. The reason for the assassination? Well, it is consistent with Sharon's goal of executing Hamas's entire leadership. But the reason for that, I'm guessing, is that Israel thinks they can humiliate the Palestinians to the point where the Palestinians just stop fighting back altogether. Think of the rat-in-the-cage pychology experiment where the rat is shocked with electricity if it stands in certain parts of its cage. Gradually, more and more of the cage becomes electrified until there is nowhere the mouse can go without being shocked. So, what does the mouse do? He gives up. He sits in a corner of the cage, taking the painful electrical shocks, resigned to his fate. The mouse's will is broken.

Does the same work for humans? Maybe. We had that little slavery thing here in the US for quite a while, but those stubborn slaves just kept finding a way to rise up against their owners. Why couldn't they just be content? white people would wonder. I like to chalk it up, in part, to that awesome power of the human spirit. Every human will find a way to have dignity - somehow - some way - eventually - if at all possible.

One of the many reasons slavery started to not work in America is because smart US presidents started to realize that for America to continue having such a grand old time in imperial adventures, we needed some righteousness on our side - we had to demostrate that we had respect for basic human and civil rights. Soft power - it's called - something the Bush Administration knows nothing about. International pressure on the US to 'right itself' with respect to human right/slavery helped cause the US to allow slaves more freedom - at least in name. Similarly, I'm hoping the US public and the rest of the world eventually realizes that it's not right to treat the Palestinians like vermin. Hitler did a very good job of demonizing the Jews. Now, the Jewish neocons running the White House are demonizing Iraqis - having already successfully demonized the Palestinians.

I don't know if any big-name Jews in America (Al Franken, you listening?) will have the courage to say enough is enough - it's time for a 50/50 American approach to Israeli/Palestinian relations. Howard Dean's wife is Jewish and when Dean said the US needed such a policy he was roundly blasted by all sorts of talking heads on both sides of the aisle. Being Jewish and/or hating Arabs and Muslims - is a strictly non-partisan affair, apparently. That was about the gutsiest remark by any politician that I can remember. I don't know a lot of poli-speak, but still, I know Dean's remark will stand out for a long time. The Jewish lobby is huge, and the Jewish vote is more than enough to turn an election. Courageous Jews, here, in America, should speak up - even if it earns them the 'self-hating Jew' label. The rest of us need to do our best to earn the 'anti-Semite' label - by speaking up, also. A neutral policy is what most of the Israeli population wants anyway. Their government just won't deliver - and the Sharon's Likud government is good at painting the Palestinians as monsters. Sharon taught the neocons in the White House how to capitalize on that whole fear/hatred thing.

Stirring up anger in the Arab streets works for the neocons in the White House because the neocons want total war. Justin Raimondo over at pointed out to us that World War IV is not a just a potential side effect of our Iraqi adventure - it is exactly what the neocons are looking for. What would be the goal of total war in the Middle East? A greater Israel, I guess - a greater Jewish holy land. Kind of like, America II - except this one is in the Middle East - and more...Jewish and/or Christian, I suppose. Less Muslim. Think modern day Crusades. Between the US and Israel, we'll occupy all or part of the Middle East, with its vast mineral wealth. Imperialism at its finest.

Everyone a Terrorist...

In our previous post we point out how much fun war could be - especially when it came to the taking of prisoners. In yet another post we talked about the language of war and the necessity of demonizing one's enemy to rally public support. Now we have the response of the occupation force to the capture and detaining of a US soldier:

“We will do everything possible to ensure his safe return,” (Central Command spokesman, Marine Capt. Bruce) Frame said. “However, we will not negotiate with any terrorists or anti-coalition forces.”

The first thing that should jump out at us from this statement is everything possible versus we will not negotiate. Where I come from, that's called a first class contradiction. It shows the Coalition's lack of sincerity.

The guys who took the prisoner/hostage are certainly anti-coalition forces - whether they are terrorists or not, no US-based news agency would know at this point - or would not readily admit to knowing if these guys were not, in fact, terrorists. This happens to be a very qualified statement from the Coalition - you'll see a lot less of it from all the Republican talking heads. The Coalition spokesman - since what he says will be published by the international press - has to be a bit more careful about demonizing the enemy so as to not be so obvious. The Coalition can count on the American press, and subsequently the American public, to lap it up, but the rest of the world will not be so uncritical.

[Remember: A terrorist, by definition, is one who kills (non-military) innocents to gain a political objective. That definitely precludes these Iraqis from the 'terrorist' label. I would argue that Coalition forces fit much more comfortably into the 'terrorist' category - since they've killed about 10,000+ innocents since invading Iraq - in part for political purposes. The 'enemy' terrorists have killed less than 1,000. Of course, if we're talking in general terms, then anyone carrying a gun is a terrorist. War is stupid. How people glorify it is truly beyond me.]

By saying that the Coalition will not negotiate with anti-coalition forces - what exactly do they hope to gain? I would guess that they don't want to encourage the taking of prisoners - which makes sense - but who would want to encourage the taking of prisoners? Let's makes sure we latch onto that - prisoners are taken during a war by the opposing army. Hostages are taken by some armed group - and the hostages are civilians. Which definition fits here? The other side is not quite an army - more probably a militia - which is a small army, I guess. But the person being held is not a civilian, he's US military. Hostage fits more with the 'terrorist' selling point - so the Coalition is sticking with it where possible.

The we will not negotiate talk is just rhetoric - psy-ops. The 'we are tougher than you' machismo means nothing - it's just Bush campaigning - the Coalition is bargaining behind the scenes right now for this guy's return. A fresh-faced white boy from Iowa plastered all over the television is certainly not good for Bush's re-election chances. It shows the insanity and unfairness of all wars - but especially this war. The killing of the US soldier would only help Bush & Co. demonize the Iraqis more - and the militants are probably savvy enough to recognize that, so they'll just keep holding him and releasing tapes to al Jazeera for the world press to eat up. Eventually that stuff will make its way to US airwaves - and Bush & Co. will worry, and act.

Count on al Jazeera to not publish the Coalition propaganda so readily.

Political Apathy or Hubris?

New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici lost his wallet in a trip to Albuquerque last month. Whoever got ahold of his wallet went to town on his credit cards to the tune of $800. Here is what the Senator had to say about it:

"Geez, you thought everyone knew me," Domenici said.

Now, I don't know what type of crack one would need to be smoking to believe that 'regular people' actually know the names of their state representatives, but this quote by Domenici shows one of two things: 1) Complete lack of touch with reality, or 2) Complete self-centeredness. Or, perhaps, a good dose of both.

Brutal, Unspeakable Scum

Those seem to be the words of John McCain today. I guess the first step in any war is to demonize the enemy. You have to use over-the-top descriptive words to relay the 'fact' that 'the enemy' is not human, they're lower than animals, they're vermin, they're.....scum. That is the first lesson of Extermination 101, my friends. The US troops already don't give a crap anymore about Iraqis - who could blame them? - and it's obvious that Iraqis despise our troops.

Let the extermination begin!

Friday, April 16, 2004

Bake Sale for Democracy

Zoe For Kerry
MoveOn has organized a nationwide bakesale to get Bush out of office. Check out this page here to find a bakesale near you.

Think I'm gonna head over to this one:

K9sforKerry2004 Bake Sale (26 baker(s)/helper(s))

224 7th St. SE (in front of Doolittle's Chateau-Animaux)
Washington, DC

K9sforKerry2004 is a growing group of canines who are supporting their owners in their efforts to elect John Kerry as the next President of the United States. We believe that Bushes are best for peeing on and we hope that every dog, regardless of breed will be a yellow dog democrat. We'll be selling treats for dogs and humans at our sale. Check out our website at
Doolittle's Chateau Animaux is located right in front of Eastern Market at 224 7th St. SE. Hope to see you there! Bring your owners and get them to shop!

Saturday, April 17, 09:00 AM


US Soldier Held Hostage

War is so much fun! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

How "NewsHour" Changed History just did a piece on a factual error during the April 7 NewsHour which has yet to be corrected. NewsHour is a great source of non-propaganda, so we need to do our part to keep it honest, especially during these trying times. The transcript and audio/video archives are available here. I know, nice. The exchange in question occurs at 5:35 into the stream.

Here is my email to NewsHour:

   Sender: Peter Smith

  Subject: Re: Wednesday, April 7, 2004 (Iraq: What Now?)



First, I wanted to complement PBS/NewsHour on a fantastic show and a phenomenally useful website. The website is just top notch - archives, transcripts, audio/video feeds, unbelievable!

Second, I recently read an article at by Norman Solomon entitled 'How the "NewsHour" Changed History' ( It tells us of a factual error in an exchange between Jim Lehrer and retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner. The exchange has Mr. Lehrer submitting 'for the record' what seems to be a factually false statement - that al-Sadr's newspaper was 'calling for violence' against US forces, when in fact the only 'facts' supporting this assertion were from CPA spokesmen who claimed that al-Sadr's newspaper was 'inciting violence'. I'm not a lawyer, but there is a big difference - in fact and 'reality on the ground' - between using very incendiary language and directly calling for attacks. In the US, for instance, the former might be protected by the 1st Amendment - the latter would probably get one sent to prison.

Since so many of us depend on NewsHour to cut through government spin I think it would be very valuable and wise for NewsHour to issue a correction of this misstatement by Jim Lehrer.

Thank you for your attention, congratulations on a job well done, and please keep up the good work!


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Blogging Going Mainstream

That is, mainstream newspapers like the WaPo are actually picking up on the awesome linking power of the web. Check out this arcticle. WaPo used to only link Presidential candidates Bush and Kerry in their articles. Looks like they're taking it to a whole new level now.

Conflicts of Interest on the 9/11 Commission

   Sender: Peter Smith
  Subject: Conflicts of Interest on the 9/11 Commission

I appreciate the coverage of Gorelick's conflict of interest on the 9/11 Commission
(, but I would also like to see an
article on the more-significant conflict of interest regarding Executive Director of the Commission, Philip D. Zelikow. Zelikow, who served on the Bush transition team, wrote a memo advising Condi Rice how to reorganize the NSA (

Thank you.



From the Agonist:

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Italian Hostage Killed

Wow. Italian 'security guard' killed in Iraq. Italy says they're staying. What does Italy have to do with this if this guy wasn't even an Italian soldier? He was an Italian citizen, yes, but he chose to risk his life for money, and maybe something else.

I don't know exactly what this unlucky fellow did for the Americans, but being a civilian contractor - some would say mercenary - has its disadvantages. The advantages, of course, are many. One, stratospheric pay. Two, if you don't like the assignment, you don't have to go and you only risk losing your job - not prison. The biggest downside I can think of is that any mercenaries captured by 'the enemy' - whomever that happens to be - may not be afforded prisoner of war rights under the Geneva Conventions. Actually the definition of mercenary is complicated, and who knows if this guy fit the definition?

The definition goes something like this:

mercenary - adj.
1. Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.

2. Hired for service in a foreign army.

The Geneva Convention definition goes something like this:

  1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

  2. A mercenary is any person who:

    • is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

    • does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

    • is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private

    • gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

    • is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

    • is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

    • has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

I'll just say this: Mercenaries are bad for everybody involved - except the politicians. Non-resident civilians who are not aid workers/reporters/etc. should not be in a war zone. If, however, a civilian not in one of the aforementioned categories does decide to enter into that war zone, then he/she does so at their own risk.

al Jazeera: In The Middle Of It

Riverbend has a post describing, among other things, what a true embedded reporter does:

There has been a lot of criticism about the way Al-Arabia and Al-Jazeera were covering the riots and fighting in Falloojeh and the south this last week. Some American spokesman for the military was ranting about the "spread of anti-Americanism" through networks like the abovementioned.

Actually, both networks did a phenomenal job of covering the attacks on Falloojeh and the southern provinces. Al-Jazeera had their reporter literally embedded in the middle of the chaos- and I don't mean the lame embedded western journalists type of thing they had going at the beginning of the war (you know- embedded in the Green Zone and embedded in Kuwait, etc.). Ahmed Mansur, I believe his name was, was actually standing there, in the middle of the bombing, shouting to be heard over the F-16s and helicopters blasting away at houses and buildings. It brought back the days of 'shock and awe'...

That's some gutsy sh*t...

Arthur Liu: Republican

Drudge has a headline up today - 'AIR AMERICA 'BOUNCES CHECK'; LIBERAL RADIO NET TAKEN OFF AIR IN LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO AFTER ONLY TWO WEEKS'. They've definitely been 'bounced' from Chicago and LA, but the reasons are circumspect. They've filed for a temporary injunction - and some other good stuff - in New York, but I decided to do a little research.

For a radio station owner to pull a dick move like this, you'd really have to have good reason. A bounced check, even if true, would not be a good enough reason. Why not give Air America Radio an ultimatum? Pay now or tomorrow you're off! Or a little warning: Tomorrow, you've off, period, money or no money. I'm no genius, but I'm starting to think that a Repbulican big wig got to Liu. Remembering that the GOP currently owns the FCC, they could threaten to watch Liu's programs very closely if he didn't comply with their wishes. And isn't the timing auspicious? Right before Franken goes on the air to slam Bush's much-hyped press conference. Interesting, indeed.

So I started to do some research on the company who owns the radio stations. The owning company, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, is owned by one Arthur Liu. Arthur apparently made contributions in the 2000 election cycle to Republican Rick Lazio and two donations to the American Broadcasters Association. Now, the payoff to Lazio may have been just that - with no idealogical bent - just greed, but we need to find out.

Contributions of Arthur Liu during 2000 election cycle:

Lazio, Rick A

National Assn of Broadcasters

National Assn of Broadcasters

I'm sure the courts will have something to say very soon. As Drudge says, developing...

UPDATE: Looks to me like AAR really effed up on this one. They stopped payment on some checks because they thought that the other party broke a contract. I asked my bank about this several years ago when I was having a dispute of my own. They said stopping payment on a check was illegal once it was tendered as payment - i.e. not stolen, etc. AAR claims their money was stolen, but I don't buy it.

Sophomoric. Idiotic. Horrific. You try to work it out with the other party. If it doesn't work you go to court. Simple. You don't stop payment. AAR may win some damages from the other party, and will probably be restored to the air shortly, but so what? They got kicked off the air in a couple of major markets. AAR now looks like a bunch of whiny little kids - in the same league with O'Leilly, Rush, and Hannity. Great.

Bush: Self-Described Alcoholic

Every wonder why Bush seems like such a dunce? This article points to some science which shows the damage that heavy drinking can do. Bush drank heavily until his 40th birthday. Now he is President of the United States of America - and in my mind - is completely unfit to serve in that role based on his lack of 'bandwidth'. He is simply in over his head.

The Camel's Nose

Juan Cole has a great take on the US convincing of Iran (yes, that Iran) to conduct negotiations on our behalf with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf. The analogy really cracks me up! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

More Iraq Info

Juan Cole is interviewed (audio) by Amy Gross on Fresh Air.

A bunch of the Brookings Institute boys got together to talk Iraq (video). Brookings still has some decent analysts - like Michael O'Hanlon. This conference/shindig thing is just very informative.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosts Brandeis University Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies Chair, Yitzhak Nakash, to speak (video) on the future of the Shiites and the U.S. in Iraq. This dude speaks a little slowly for my taste, but like the Brookings shindig, this one is really informative too.

Noticed Brandeis has a Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies Program. Need to research these programs a bit more as they seem interesting.

p.s. How amazingly, stupendously, outrageously fantastic is CSPAN. Holy cow. And NPR.

UPDATE: Ivo Daalder, in the Brookings Institute panel above, dispels the myth that turning Iraq over to NATO will solve all of our problems. Ivo tells us that Nato only has 80,000 deployable troops. Once we deduct from that 80,000 the NATO troops that already deployed in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq, we are left with 5 to 10 thousands troops. The next part is Ivo's quote (minute: 31):

So anybody who's out there telling you let's turn this over to NATO so we can have more smoking the same thing that the Administration is smoking.


BBC America: the office

This show is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. I rarely get to catch an episode, but it's so worth it if you get a chance. Hadn't seen it in a while, but noticed the lead actor of the sitcom, Ricky Gervais, was on Fresh Air recently. Dude also writes and directs it - not bad.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Rice May Know Russian History, But Not American History

One thing from Condi that sounded a little off (bold mine):

The really difficult thing for all of us, and I'm sure for those who came before us as well as for those of us who are here, is that the structural and systematic changes that needed to be made -- not on July 5th or not on June 25th or not on January 1st -- those structures and those changes needed to be made a long time ago so that the country was in fact hardened against the kind of threat that we faced on September 11.

The problem was that for a country that had not been attacked on its territory in a major way in almost 200 years, there were a lot of structural impediments to those kinds of attacks.

Here are some dates to consider:

Current Year: 2004
200 Years Ago: 1804
63 Years Ago: 1941

UPDATE: I forgot to include Oklahoma City (6 years before 9/11/01). Condi is either incredibly incompetent, or a liar - or both.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Bush Loves Our Soldiers

Especially our POW's.

Shaolin Soccer

Stopped reading Slate a while ago because it became so right-wing, but once in a while they still have some non-political stuff. This movie review seems a good intro to what seems to me a very interesting/funny flick.

UPDATE: This was the funniest movie I saw in a long time. It was hilarious - straight up. Find where it's playing near you.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Barcelona Bans Bullfighting

I've always been a borderline animal rights-type person, so this is really good news as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Those Pesky Non-Violent Christians...

A Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram reader responds to the publishing of graphic photos from the Falluja attacks:

"I'm a nonviolent, Christian woman," one reader said. "A mother of four. Wouldn't hurt a flea. But I say, get every American out of there and every coalition person and then bomb the whole friggin' town."

Turn the other cheek?

Dumbass Americans

Georgia Tech is in the NCAA Men's Basketball Finals, and their star player is 7' 1" Luke Schenscher. Luke is originally from a small town in Australia. Check out what he had to say about fellow students' interest in him - college students, that is - at a supposedly reputable college:

"I would have people ask me, 'Did you learn to speak English over there or after you came here,' " he said. "I'm not kidding. Or they'd ask, 'Ever been for a ride in a kangaroo pouch?' "

Did you learn to speak English over there? WTF?!

A New Level Of Hate

Was checking out the cover of The Washington Post today and read a disturbing line in the caption of the main picture on the front page:

A Salvadoran soldier was executed when militiamen forced a live grenade into his mouth.

Welcome to war, friends...

White House Stonewalling of 9/11 Commission Hurts US National Security

It's been 2 1/2 years since 9/11 and we still don't know how 9/11 was allowed to occur, which obviously precludes us from being better able to fend off another 9/11. Bush fought against the creation of the Commission, fought against providing timely access to information the Commission sought - forcing the Commission to request a two-month extension, which Bush then fought against. Bush fought against allowing Rice to testify, fought against releasing Clinton's documents to the Commission, and is fighting truth-finding by Bush doing a joint appearance with Cheney in front of the Commission. These are just some of the things the Bush Administration has done to prevent the 9/11 Commission from getting it's work done in a timely and effective manner - and that directly weakens US national security by preventing us from learning from the Commission's results.

Someone needs to call the White House on this...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Get Out Of Jail Free Card: God

Does this acquittal scare anyone else? I'm not sure I understand all of the evidence, but this lady just got acquitted by reason of insanity after she said she was just following God's orders. She killed two of her three sons and permanently injured her third child by slamming big stones down on them in her back yard.

What exactly does this verdict mean? Does she no longer believe in God? Did she ever? Did she just believe a little too much that particular day?

Must be nice to be white...

Why Poor People Go To Jail

TalkLeft has a good post on the pathetic state of public defense in Washington State. You know, 'if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you'-type stuff? Well, Washington State, like many other states, uses a contract payment system for defense of indigent clients. So the defense attorney gets $50 to defend an alleged shoplifter, or $50 to defend an alleged murdered. Sounds about right, doesn't it?

Apart from the inherent cost difference in being able to effectively defend someone for shoplifting vs. murder - because of the seriousness of the crime (we're not idealists) - there is the even-more troublesome aspect of an attorney with a fixed fee to defend a case. If you are going to make only $50 to defend a case, are you inclined to appeal that case when you'll essentially be volunteering your time to do so? Are you inclined to accept a plea offer or are you willing to go to trial? A per-hour contract system could work, but per-case? That's absurd...

Bush Administration Covered Up Kentucky Spill

No way. I don't believe it.

The former head of a federal mine safety school alleges that Bush administration appointees halted an investigation of a coal mine sludge spill that polluted about 100 miles of creeks and rivers along the Kentucky-West Virginia state line.

Another administration official gets demoted - another administration official outs the Prez. Is anyone else starting to sense a pattern?


Someone please tell me this isn't true.

At least two followers of Shiite Muslim radical leader Moqtada Sadr have been killed after throwing themselves in front of US tanks during a demonstration in central Baghdad.

If this is true, we're all Israelis now.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Why MLS Still Sucks

Most of the fields are too small. Specifically, they're too narrow.

DC United just opened up against San Jose Earthquakes and what Washington-area fans were treated to was a soccer game in which grown-ups appeared to be playing like a bunch of 5-year olds. Mob soccer. It's where all the little kiddies - or, in this case, adults (exception for the 14-year old Adu) - just put their heads down and follow the soccer ball wherever it goes on the field. Imagine a swarm of bees following around a cup of golden honey.

Most MLS soccer fields are played on NFL football fields. NFL football fields are about 53 yards wide - soccer fields should be at least 70 yards wide, at a minimum. Watch an MLS soccer game in a converted NFL football field and you'll see that anytime the ball goes out of bounds the player throwing the ball in, or taking a corner kick, is starting his run from up against an advertising board or from a non-grass surface. In short, there's just no room in these NFL-style stadiums to widen the fields any more.

The DC United soccer field is RFK Stadium - a football field - home of the Washington Redskins. Here are some measurements, in yards, including the dimensions of the most famous soccer field in the world - Old Trafford, home of Manchester United (the New York Yankees of soccer):

NFL Football: 120 x 53 (+ 1 ft)
FIFA-recommendation: 115 x 75
Old Trafford: 116 x 76
RFK: 110 x 72

Now, a couple of yards may not seem like a whole lot, but it makes a big difference. The bigger the field, the more players have to spread out. The difference in area (square yards) that needs to be covered between the FIFA recommended-field size and the RFK Stadium soccer field size is 705 square yards - that's 6,345 square feet for you city dwellers. That's a big difference, and it changes the game dramatically.

The sub-par field dimensions in the US are the dirty little secret of MLS. MLS has taken steps to correct the problem with the addition of a couple of soccer-only stadiums, like the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA, but we have a long way to go. Bigger fields will yield more quality play immediately.

Liberal TV Deal Dead?

It is according to Drudge, but with high-profile, uber-rich liberals like George Soros out there, why should it be so difficult to find a few investors to create a left-leaning cable television station? Seriously.

Satellite to Test Einstein Predictions

I can't say I understand the experiment, but it sure sounds cool.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Fox News: Full-time Bush Ad?

The thought just crossed my mind tonight when I heard that the Repugs had filed a lawsuit with the FEC to get rid of MoveOn. I don't know the details, but I can't imagine that Fox News shows aren't breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of the FEC rules/laws concerning political advertising. Is 'advertising' a short, 30-second piece, by defnition? Or, can it be a slightly more subtle 1-hour piece?

Just a thought...

Drudge Report

I've mentioned before that I think Drudge is a bit of a gangster because of his unfair attacks, but he is, as best I can tell, the least unfair of all the right-wing hacks out there. Actually, I've yet to come across a right-winger who doesn't lie and distort information outright to make their points. And Drudge certainly does do this, but he manages to gain some credibility because of the stories he links to, which are often very unflattering for the White House. And Drudge doesn't have to pretend to be a news site like Fox. Check out this instant's sample:

  • 'Steamy Stuff': FCC Concern Over Daytime Soap Operas...

  • Scientists Predict Major SoCal Quake Within Five Months

  • 'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with airplanes'...


  • UPDATE: Condom Label Changes Spark Debate...

  • U.S. now regards terror threat to Olympics as military challenge...

  • INVASION: Google Inc.'s free e-mail service: The company plans to read the messages!

  • Bored Boy Behind President Gets Nationwide Attention...

  • Magazine Recalls Issue After Faulty Recipe Hurts Readers...

  • 129,617 SCANNED IN FIRST WEEK (ref to Richard Clarke's book)


  • John Belushi Gets Star on Walk of Fame...

We usually get a good dose of pictures of all sorts of stuff. We get the first information on breaking stories. We get a (too-)heavy dose of moralism - which is not all bad imho. And we get a couple of other things where Drudge actually falls on the correct side of the issues: 1) Privacy and 2) Media Consolidation.

Oh yeah, his radio show can be hilarious.

Frog Marching

Many of us have been waiting to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of The White House in handcuffs. We'd take anyone, really, but Karl Rove would be a double-plus good one to nab. According to TPM, Rove has already admitted to criminal wrongdoing because either he thought he was a lawyer himself, or he got some bad legal advice. I'm going with the former because I believe his ego could allow him to do this.

On another note, I like the idea that a top blogger may be able to feed reporters good questions to ask the Administration. It may never actually happen, but at least I like to think that the possibility exists. TPM is really good at this stuff - usually just being very subtle about it - because no one likes to be told what to do, especially a spoiled brat of a White House correspondent. Today, however, he's a little more explicit:

(A Note to White House gaggleers: This is a spoon feed, folks. Just last week the White House argued that the separation-of-powers bar on testimony applied to questions of policy not appearances tied to scandal or congressional investigations into wrongdoing. This clearly falls right into that category. It's wrapped in a bow. Why not ask?)

(Italics not mine).

A 'gaggleer' is a White House correspondent. We really need a dictionary of liberal blog terms...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Soft Power

Joseph Nye of the JFK School of Government at Harvard has an article on the concept of 'soft power' and how the US has failed to use it to fight terrorism. He also has a book on the topic.

Soft power is the ability to get what we want by attracting others rather than by threatening or paying them. It is based on our culture, our political ideals and our policies.

I've previously pointed out a Josh Marshall article for the New Yorker that touches on soft power issues. If you haven't read it yet, do so now.

US: 1 Poland: 0

US Soccer finally got a win in Europe, with DaMarcus Beasley showing up a big way in the 26th minute.

Beasley's an exciting player to watch because he's got serious wheels. In the words of Simeon Rice, dude can straight float. Well done, DaMarcus.

Props also to Josh Wolff and Conor Casey for setting up the opportunity.

Cherry Blossoms Abound

Kinda soft, I know, but...