Friday, March 31, 2006

science 2, religion 0

Sorry, you don't have a prayer of getting better thru the prayer of strangers...

And contrary to the propaganda promulgated by the holier-than-thou religious right, condom use DOES help reduce HIV incidence, and India is a good example. It might be politically and religiously inconvenient for the crowd that wants to inflict their narrow-minded interpretations of the Bible (which surprisingly says nothing about condoms or abortion or the Republican Party...), but as the red-headed girl on "The Kids in the Hall" used to say, "It's a fact."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

a note from willy the whale?

From today's Post:
Federal ocean scientists said yesterday they were unable to determine whether Navy sonar caused a mass stranding of whales on the North Carolina shore last year.
In classic Bushist/military style, they use the absence of 100% incontrivertible hard proof of damage done to whales by sonar to mean, no need for action and no blame for US Navy sonar in the mass beaching.

What would constitute adequate proof? Maybe a signed suicide note by Willy the Whale saying "aargh, this sonar is killing me! I can't take the pain any more, so I intend to beach myself to get away from the sonar. Sincerely, Willy the Whale."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

paranoid ... like foxes

Somehow I wasn't invited, but there was apparently a conference about the war on Christians in Washington yesterday. Yes, that's right -- "war on Christians." If you hadn't noticed, we apparently live in a country where our tolerance for abortion and other things equates to anti-Christian hatred. Who better to quote than holier-than-thou Texan exterminator Tom DeLay:
We are after all a society that abides abortion on demand, that has killed millions of innocent children, that degrades the institution of marriage and often treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition. Seen from this perspective, of course there is a war on Christianity.
Wowzie. Hey, DeLay, we are also a society that tolerates eating beef, observes Christian religious holidays but no others, and treats Buddhism like some second-rate superstition. Seen from this perspective, of course there is a war on Buddhism. Right?

Another absurd statement by Michael Horowitz of the rightist Hudson Institute -- he said Christians are "the Jews of the 21st century." What the bejeezus is he smoking? I haven't seen any pogroms against Christians in America, no mass executions, no political or economic disenfranchisement, no guys wearing brown with stupid little brush mustaches going around and accusing Christians of having lost the last war for us. What an absurd, insulting comparison.

And another interesting little tidbit -- the organizer, right-wing radiomeister Rick Scarborough said Tom DeLay's current legal woes aren't because he's corrupt or evil or created enemies by his political strongarming, but because he's CHRISTIAN.

Now, not all Christians are buying this line. Robert Franklin, a Church of God in Christ minister called the "...inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position." Well said.

Are these people just plain paranoid? The rank and file may well be, especially since they keep telling each other they are under siege, and their religious bosses repeat the charge. But I doubt their LEADERS are. For them, it's just a crass political ploy to lay claim to the mantle of victimhood and deflect attention from Republican corruption, venality, wealth-worship, and incompetence to the alleged ungodliness of the so-called enemies of Christianity.

Wrapping himself in the red, white, and blue cross, DeLay said "Sides are being chosen, and the future of man hangs in the balance! The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will. . . . It is for us then to do as our heroes have always done and put our faith in the perfect redeeming love of Jesus Christ."

Cries of victimhood and equating political or religious differences with warfare are always handy when trying to increase power and influence. And if you say it enough, you'll believe it -- reportedly 3/4 of evangelicals think they're under siege, and half feel they are looked down upon by others because of their beliefs. Paranoia, in the service of a far-right theocratic political agenda.

It is easy to make fun of these people. But I fear them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

another service reservations can offer

One response to South Dakota's absurdly and provocatively restrictive anti-abortion law? The President of the Oglala Sioux tribe said she would start a Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation! Take that, stupid legislature.

Monday, March 27, 2006

a new kind of drug testing?

I'm not a fan of the "war on drugs", and the anti-drug crusaders are really getting down into the muck. In more news from Fairfax County, the Feds have asked the home county of George Mason University (and others in the region) to participate in a program to test sewage for cocaine!

The de facto White House Office of National Drug Control Policy wants to use this to see if it can help get a better grip on levels of illegal drug use. I guess you can't complain about individual privacy being violated with this. But knowing THIS "we interpret the laws however we want" administration, they will say that gaining permission to test Fairfax County sewers for cocaine gives them the right to test all the INPUTS to the sewer system, and based on that they are allowed to come around and test individuals as they take a whiz into Fairfax County toilets!

george mason?

No, I didn't have George Mason making it to the Final Four. But I'm glad they made it. Let's see, a Final Four with no Big East, no Big 10, no ACC teams (hell, no Big 10 team even made the Sweet Sixteen). So when will Billy Packer admit he was WRONG in saying the number 9 team in the Big East deserved the at-large slot over a good Colonial Athletic Association team that failed to win its tournament? Or for that matter, instead of one of the three Missouri Valley Conference teams that got at-large bids (two MVC teams in Sweet Sixteen, vs zero for Big Ten...)? Heck, Hofstra (also from the CAA) deserved a bid, too. Unlike Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, or Connecticutt, they beat GMU -- twice.

I still think a team should have to finish in the top half of its conference to get an at-large bid. George Mason, Wichita State, Gonzaga, Bradley, and others have shown that so-called mid-majors CAN compete especially when allowed to play the big boys on neutral or (in GMU's case vs. Wichita State and UConn) friendly courts.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

death to cell phones

I read Ben Stein every week, wondering whether I'll want to salute him or strangle him. Well, this week he's right on target. The airlines want to let people use cell phones on planes (for a fee), and Stein thinks that's a terrible idea.

He's right. I think the first case of cell-phone-use-induced passenger outrage will happen approximately 45 minutes after the first flight permitting cell phone use takes off. Can you imagine being stuck on a eight-hour flight to Paris and listening to some schmuck next to you drone on about his Incrediby Important Business, or even worse, his Incredibly Important Personal Life, for six hours? Somebody shoot me. Or better yet, shoot the cell phone.

the peasants are revolting

One of the fears of the Chinese Communist Party is rural unrest. They understand well the risk revolting peasants can pose to a Chinese regime, haven ridden into power themselves on the backs of the rural poor. This type of development is one reason for current dissatisfaction among Chinese farmers -- land taken away from them and sold to developers to build houses they can never hope to afford, or used to sell Hondas they can never hope to buy or even ride in... The farmers can't do anything about it, either -- farm land is one of the last vestiges of Communism in China and is owned by a collective, not by the people who work the fields. The government isn't doing anything to help them when they're kicked off the farm, and they can't even legally move to the big city to get a job without permission.

China's cities have changed remarkably over the past fifteen years, but there are still a billion people there wallowing in freakish misery.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

losing patience?

John McCain and Russ Feingold join the ranks of US officials telling the Iraqis the US is "losing patience" and urging them to form a unity government soon.

Isn't that also just a nifty signal to the insurgents that despite de facto President Bush's rhetoric, we are in fact getting ready to cut and run? Is the de facto Admnistration at the stage where it's looking for something positive so it can declare victory and bug out?

know your friends -- the russians are no friends

A Pentagon report indicating that the Russians passed military intelligence about our troop dispositions to Saddam during our invasion of Iraq doesn't really surprise me. Surely the Russians knew that giving Hussein that operational information was unlikely to change the final result -- Iraq's army was never going to defeat the US military forces. But I imagine what the Russians hoped WOULD happen was that, with more accurate information about US force deployments, the Republican Guard could at least administer a bloody nose or two to the invaders and embarrass us before going down.

Well, that didn't happen. We didn't embarrass ourselves until AFTER Iraq's armed forces were defeated, when we (and by "we", I mean the de facto Bush Administration politicos and the kool-aid drinking generals at the Pentagon, not dissenting professionals at CIA, State, and other places) revealed the fact that we had no idea about the true state of Iraq's WMD program, had no clue about what to expect in Iraq after Saddam's rule was ended, and had not even the faintest suspicion that Iraqis wouldn't treat us as liberators and shower us with rose petals and ululations of praise.

It doesn't really matter whether the information was given to Iraq on orders of the Kremlin or not. But this DOES reveal that while the Russians may not be the cold war ideological enemies of the United States any more, neither are they our friends. Bush famously said he had stared into Putin's eyes and seen his soul upon their first summit back in June of 2001. Well, obviously Bush misread Putin's soul as badly as he and his military aides misread Iraq. The Russians are not friends of the United States.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

soriano reconsiders

Well, it looks like Jim Bowden's Soriano gamble may have worked -- Alfonso volunteered to play left field yesterday. Let's hope he stays happy enough to hit like he's worth $10 million. Still gotta wonder though what the Nationals' chances will be of signing him after this year. I'd still rather have Wilkerson and pitching prospect Galarraga.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

beware of rain

Wow, a highrise in Lagos, Nigeria lost half of its top nine floors. The cause? Rain, I kid you not.

Good thing Nigeria isn't in an earthquake zone!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

unreality and untruths and 70 9/11s a year

Eugene Robinson puts it better than me in talking about the Cheney-Bush refusal to acknowledge reality in Iraq. He accuses them of living on a planet of unreality.

Robinson is right, but there is another element to this. Cheney-Bush and their acolytes also live on a planet constructed out of their own lies. They lie, lie, lie. Then they lie some more. They think if they lie enough about Iraq that eventually people will believe them that things are just nifty over there because the Big Lie has worked for them before.

One early example of course was over the Florida elections. Then Republicans' and Fox News' (but I repeat myself) lies about Saddam's alleged involvement in the attacks of September 11 were, along with their mistakes about Iraq's WMD capacity and lies about secular/nationalist Saddam's willingness to furnish such weapons to religious terrorists or to attack the US directly, were very effective in drumming up a pro-war frenzy that made it very difficult for sane people to oppose them (witness the backlash against Brent Scowcroft, who opposed the attack in an op-ed in August 2002).

Anyhow, Robinson notes what Iraq's interim PM said on BBC Sunday:
Here is reality: The Bush administration's handpicked interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, told the BBC on Sunday, "We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is. Iraq is in the middle of a crisis. Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet, but we are moving towards this point. . . . We are in a terrible civil conflict now."
Let's say it's 50 people a day. Over a year, that is over 18,000 people. If Iraq had the same population as the United States and suffered proportional losses every day, that would be over 200,000 people a year. In other words, more casualties in a week EVERY WEEK OF THE YEAR than the US suffered on September 11. I think that might qualify as a civil war, don't you?

But again, Shotgun Cheney on Meet the Press Sunday said there WAS no civil war and that his statement almost a year ago that the insurgency was in its "last throes" -- were "basically accurate and reflect reality."

So, is Cheney deluded, lying, or both? I say both.


Busybody parents are screaming at their children's elementary school teachers over grades, incessantly text-messaging their kids during the school day, and trying to micromanage their little darlings' college experience. What to do about them? Confiscate their cell phones? Partially lobotomize them to make them calm down a little? Maybe shoot one or two of them on national TV to set an example?

This is the sort of parent that ends up raising spoiled brats that become young adults who drive over three-day-old newspapers in the driveway because they're too stupid to read them, too dumb to realize they could just cancel the friggin' subscription and save a few bucks since they ain't reading them anyway, and too lazy to pick the damn things up.

what a soriano situation

And now the Soriano situation comes to a head. Back from the World Baseball Classic, Alfonso was slotted to play left field and refused to take the field. Look for him to be suspended if he refuses to play LF on Wednesday. Hooray, the Nationals get to win a point of principle.

What a mess. This must be Jim Bowden's biggest screwup ever. He should have been suspicious when Texas refused to let him speak to Soriano before making the trade, especially since it was widely known that a couple of years back the RANGERS tried to get Soriano to go to the outfield and he refused then. Even I knew that. How do you make that deal if there is any question at all about the guy's willingness to play outfield?

So the Nationals are out Brad Wilkerson, Termel Sledge, and a prospect pitcher. Meanwhile, they have two second basemen and their rotation is a shambles. Sure could use Tomo Ohka, traded because he and Frank Robinson had a little tiff. I hope like hell the Nationals get a new owner soon so he can fire Bowden and Robinson and at least stop the bleeding.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

happy anniversary, iraq war, oh and about that torture

And as we consider what three years of the Iraq War has wrought, let us remember what our de facto leader George W. "No Vietnam War for me, thanks Dad" Bush said in October 2003
Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers.
I guess that might have been technically correct, in the sense that Iraq was (maybe) free of rape rooms and torture chambers RUN BY IRAQIS. Instead, in a perverse form of outsourcing, responsibility for conducting torture was granted to the United States military and intelligence agencies.

And today in the New York Times, more details about how our people are torturing and abusing Iraqis in our name, in and out of Abu Ghraib, before and after those photos first came to light. This particular article is about a Special Operations unit and how it treated prisoners at a detention center. As the writers point out, it helps prove that the Pentagon and White House are lying when they allege that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were done by a few enlisted, reservist bad apples, avoiding any damage to the careers of officers and regular Army, let alone spooks.

A few inspiring passages from this long and unpleasant article:
In early 2004, an 18-year-old man suspected of selling cars to members of the Zarqawi terrorist network was seized with his entire family at their home in Baghdad. Task force soldiers beat him repeatedly with a rifle butt and punched him in the head and kidneys...
One Defense Department specialist recalled seeing pink blotches on detainees' clothing as well as red welts on their bodies, marks he learned later were inflicted by soldiers who used detainees as targets and called themselves the High Five Paintball Club.
In January 2004, the task force captured the son of one of Mr. Hussein's bodyguards in Tikrit. The man told Army investigators that he was forced to strip and that he was punched in the spine until he fainted, put in front of an air-conditioner while cold water was poured on him and kicked in the stomach until he vomited.
The next day, Admiral Jacoby wrote a two-page memo to Mr. Cambone, under secretary of defense for intelligence. In it, he described a series of complaints, including a May 2004 incident in which a D.I.A. interrogator said he witnessed task force soldiers punch a detainee hard enough to require medical help. The D.I.A. officer took photos of the injuries, but a supervisor confiscated them, the memo said.
The torture and abuse was so bad that the FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency (not exactly a bunch of bleeding hearts) reported them and the DIA even withdrew their personnel from this Special Ops detention camp.

Torture is un-American.

march madness and march bitterness

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams was bitching and moaning about the fact that the NCAA selection committee ONLY gave 26 out of 34 at-large slots to the six power conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, Big East, SEC), passing up programs like Cincinnati and Maryland that had only fair seasons in favor of no-account minor conference at-large patsies like Wichita (beat Tennessee) and George Mason (beat Michigan State) and Bradley (beat Kansas). Williams made the ultimate non sequiteur in his passionate defense of the merits of picking the #9 team in the bloated Big East over the Colonial Athletic or Missouri Valley #2 or #3 teams, saying "The problem is, coaches in the major conferences get fired for not making the tournament."

Oh boo hoo, that's just ridiculous. I didn't realize the NCAA tournament was supposed to be some sort of social security arrangement for overpaid basketball coaches at the big schools. And besides, don't the mid-major coaches (oh, and players, sometimes in big-name college basketball where the sportscasters make it sound like Mike K or Roy Williams are on the court making all the shots, we forget about the players) also deserve a shot at the limelight -- and for the coaches, a chance to get fat contract with a desperate power conference program who just fired their guy for finishing 15-14?

College basketball is already sufficiently weighted in favor of the big schools, with TV exposure and the rest of it. Give strong mid-majors like George Mason and Wichita that stumble in their conference tournament a chance. And for that matter, Hofstra deserved a slot in the NCAAs more than Seton Hall.

But in one way I could agree to something that would let Williams have a guaranteed shot at the tournament every year -- open it to ALL division one schools, the way states run their high school tournaments. You could seed the top 30 or so schools and let the other 290 or so play to get to the final 64, thrown together at random (maybe by region to cut down on travel a bit). It would extend the tournament by a week, let CBS or whoever show a lot more games regionally, and give everybody a long shot at a little glory.

Maryland did get a consolation prize this year for their mediocre 19-11 regular season -- a home game against mid-major Manhattan. And they lost. Maybe MANHATTAN deserved the NCAA bid more than Maryland.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

now THIS is a long war

The creators of South Park have pledged a million-year-war against Scientology after raving-lunatic-Scientologist (perhaps that is redundant), L.-Ron-Hubbard-worshipping, Oprah-scaring, Katie-Holmes-kidnapping-and- allegedly-impregnating, underwear-dancing, in-the-closet-remaining actor Tom Cruise pressured Paramount (owned by Viacom which owns the Comedy Channel) got Comedy Channel to pull a scheduled (and much hyped) re-run of the irreverent and HILARIOUS episode of South Park that brutally skewered Scientology.

A million year struggle? Now THAT is a long war.

bad boys

Wow, glad to hear that the White House will discipline two Secret Service agents who masqueraded as Fox News reporters during a recent visit by de facto President Bush to the Katrina Zone.

They were doing it as prep for the visit. That's just not right, to pose as journalists from conservative, ideological news organizations like that to protect the President. The Secret Service should leave THAT particular role to gay male prostitutes.

consorting with terrorists

It's such a very sad shame. Seems that Sinn Fein leader/IRA apologist/terrorist emeritus Gerry Adams missed his St. Patrick's Day appointment in Buffalo because he was delayed getting on a plane in Washington and missed the flight.

What was he doing in Washington? ATTENDING AN EVENT AT THE WHITE HOUSE. The habit of American Presidents -- Clinton AND Bush -- of hosting Gerry Adams marks the depth of hypocrisy. And the tendency of Irish-Americans to lionize him, and to fund the IRA, sickens me.

How would we react if the British government invited Osama Bin Laden to London to commemorate Ramadan?

Friday, March 17, 2006

talk iraq with iran

Direct talks with Iran can't hurt. There were overtures from Iran after 9/11, and in 2002 Bush spurned them, starting with his stupid Axis of Evil State of the Union Address, undermining moderates in Iran and helping lead to the election of the current hardline Israel-baiting idiot, Ahmadinejad. So I dunno what progress we can make and how far our interests in Iraq (the putative topic for talks) coincide, but talking can't hurt. Assuming it isn't some neo-con plot to talk and manufacture a failure to justify an attack on Iran...

Thursday, March 16, 2006


The bluenose theocrat moralists at the FCC are busy again, slamming fines against various networks for naughty words and lewd themes. Biggest fine was $3.6 million (total) against CBS and a bunch of affiliates for airing an episode of "Without A Trace" that featured a teen orgy. I happened to see that episode -- it aired at 10:00, it wasn't that bad and the message certainly wasn't that afterschool group sex was a good idea.

It's absurd, it's reactionary. Shows depicting murder and violence are OK and are on all the time, but no dirty words or teen sex (without nudity), please.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

inequality and all that

Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein has a good column today on how relatively modest steps could be taken to reduce inequality in wealth (that is, help the poor) in this rich country without ruining capitalism or making us into France or anything like that. He's right. No matter how we doll it up with bullshit about rising tides lifting boats and the rich making jobs for all us little people if they can just keep all of their money, it is a moral choice (dare I say, an unChristian choice?) when we refuse to redistribute a little bit of money to those less fortunate. And it is a moral choice when we DO choose to redistribute money to the rich through anti-Robin-Hood style tax cuts for the upper brackets...

Because there are plenty of people out their who ain't getting rich in the modern Republican banana-republic we call the US of A. Like these people, who make on average less than $7 an hour sewing uniforms for our armed forces...

chip of the beast

Some religious nuts complain that UPC codes (you know, those bar codes on the bottom of your box of Frosted Flakes) are some sort of mark of the beast. But implanted ID chips with your medical records contained on them sound closer to the mark.

I clearly see the medical utility. If you're unconscious when you arrive at the hospital, a scan could establish your identity and flag any conditions or allergies you have -- that's useful. But this system looks like it has few security features, making it vulnerable to identity theft by the use of hand-held scanners or hacking into the computer database where the info is stored.

It's ironic, the opposition many on the left and right have to any idea of the federal government issuing a national ID card is much greater than concerns about leaving extremely sensitive personal information in the hands of commercial interests who buy and sell data about you as a commodity and have little responsibility or liability should the information be wrong or fall into the wrong hands. I think I'll pass on the medical chip.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

iraq and iran


Plans for Vietnamization I mean Iraqification are under way. Instead of body counts, de facto President Bush gives numbers on the square miles of Iraq "controlled" by the so-called Iraqi government. Pretty meaningless given no Iraqi military unit can even cook its own meals without US support.

Bush finished his speech waving a letter from the mother of a soldier who was killed, asking that the job be finished so her son won't have died in vain. How about a promise to troops STILL alive not to be killed in vain? "We will finish what we started in Iraq."? Would that be the dissolution of the country into three quarreling states, and the rule of sympathetic-to-Iran theocrats in Baghdad?

A few quotes, with some unsaid details added:

"We have a comprehensive strategy for victory in Iraq." (But we can't tell you what it is, because it is too embarrassing and relies on alien intervention and other deus ex machinas.)
"Iraqi security forces turned in a strong performance." (In a volleyball match against US Marines.)
"This is real progress." (Fewer than 100 people were killed yesterday, woohoo.)
"The terrorists are losing on the field of battle." (Every time a suicide bomber strikes, at least one terrorist dies.)


Meanwhile, next door in Iran, human rights activists and others are worried that the big idea being hatched by Bush and his Secretary of State Condi Rice for destabilizing the Iranian regime might result in a harsh crackdown on pro-reform, pro-democracy elements in Iran. A couple of Iranians were just arrested for attending a human rights conference. A quote from Iranian human rights activist Emad Baghi: "We are under pressure here both from hard-liners in the judiciary and that stupid George Bush. When he says he wants to promote democracy in Iran, he gives money to these outside groups and we're in here suffering."

Maybe one day the Bushies will learn one fairly basic fact: that overt American interference in the internal affairs of other countries will not necessarily be met with glee and joy by the people of that country.

Monday, March 13, 2006

and iran so far away

Lots of new emphasis on Iran. New office and jobs watching Iran at the State Department, and new jobs watching Iran at the US embassy in UAE.

De facto Secretary of State Rice says to Congress, "We do not have a problem with the Iranian people. We want the Iranian people to be free. Our problem is with the Iranian regime."

Is another attempt at regime change in the offing? Are these people stupid enough to STILL believe their own propaganda that the people of Country X will greet us as liberators? Are they going to do something more than sanctions against Iran?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

warning on china's environment from an unusual source

An interesting short article from China -- the head of its State Environmental Protection Administration said at a news conference that China's rapid economic growth has the country on verge of an environmental disaster.

Others have sounded the same warning -- but it is significant that this time it comes from a senior Communist Party official, at a news conference on the fringes of the Chinese assembly's annual session. He is worried about poisoned rivers, air, and soil. If you've ever been to Beijing at the wrong time, you know what he's talking about -- you can't even see the ground from the air when coming in for landing.

As the Chinese leaders are well aware, the first signs of cracks in the Soviet system happened when the Politburo allowed pro-environment NGOs to form. This modest beginning in permissable dissent, complaining about what everybody could see with their own eyes, helped create the conditions for glasnost and all that came after. The Communist Party of China won't want to repeat that mistake.

But the environmental problems there are too great to ignore. Again, Russia is a sobering example. It's population now is in free-fall, declining by over 700,000 people in 2005 alone, with environmental factors (along with depression, alcoholism, and emigration) playing a significant part in the dropping birth-rates and rising mortality rates. Environmental degradation at some former Soviet sites is terrible -- places that may be more unhealthy to live than Chernobyl are still occupied by people in Russia, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere.

China wants to forge its own path, but China and other countries would be wise to avoid the mistakes of the Soviet Union, not to mention the western industrialized nations. Environmental protection has up-front costs. Failing to take steps to protect the environment has much greater costs.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

ding-dong, milosevic's dead

Ex-Serbian president and all-round thuggish bastard Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell. Good riddance, it's just a shame he snuffed it before he could have received the conviction for war crimes he so richly deserved. The federation that was once Yugoslavia was clearly on shaky grounds after Tito's death. When the petty nationalist Milosevic rose to power in Serbia, he gave it the push that led to thousands of deaths and massive destruction. I hope his grave is well-marked, so Bosnians and others can dance on it.

somebody talk some sense into michelman, quick

I hope somebody visits ex-NARAL President Kate Michelman soon and gently explains the huge errors in her thinking, if she is serious about running as an independent in the Pennsylvania Senate election this fall. Michelman says leading Democrat candidate Bob Casey is a nice guy, but criticizes him for not being pro-choice.

Fair enough. But SURELY Michelman has noticed that Casey is not running for Senate in a vacuum, but is trying to oust one of the leading Papist-Theocrats in the Republican Party, Rick "Death to Abortionists and Death to Evolutionists and I'm not too keen about gays either" Santorum? And surely Michelman has noticed that getting Casey into the Senate brings the Democrats that much closer to control of the Senate where they could try to stop truly horrific judges like Roberts and Alito from being appointed to our courts?

Look, I'm strongly pro-choice. But responsible pro-choice activists need to look at the entire range of issues. Casey isn't great on abortion, and I don't like that. But ye gods, he's better than Santorum on most issues that are important to women. And the race this fall could be close.

We don't need no stinking Naders. Michelman, stay off the ballot.

claude allen isn't a real republican

It's scandalous that Claude Allen, former domestic policy advisor to de facto President Bush, is accused of defrauding department stores by essentially shoplifting items and getting refunds for them. Absolutely scandalous, no real born-again Christian Republican would stoop to such acts.

It is an affront to REAL Republicans like Jack Abramoff and Ken Lay and Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, who steal or loot or accept as bribes for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS (if not hundreds of millions) of dollars at a time. It's an affront to REAL Republicans like Shotgun Cheney, who direct BILLIONS of dollars in contracts to companies like Halliburton (and Halliburton is STILL paying Cheney), without bothering with the hassle of competing against other firms, or having to offer full disclosure on how they spend the taxpayers' money.

Really, Claude Allen -- you were around the Republican elite long enough to know that $5000 in faked refunds isn't worth the candle. Couldn't you have just done the usual Republican thing and set up some sort of scam charity and forced people to give money to your charitable foundation (which would naturally pay you and your friends and relatives a generous salary for minimal work) if they want your ear and to take advantage of your access? Clearly, Allen has a lot to learn about being a Republican operative.

Friday, March 10, 2006

all going according to plan in iraq, i'm sure

Our plan for civil war in Iraq, according to our esteemed de facto Defense Secretary:
The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the . . . Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to.
That's what Rummy told the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, when discussing exactly what the hell we plan to do if (IF?) Iraq REALLY gets bad.

Sounds like a bold and confident plan. Rummy & General Abizaid said the key is to form a unified Iraqi government that includes the main Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish groups. That sounds so easy, good luck with that.

Now wasn't it about three years ago that Buckshot Cheney and Rummy and Baby Bush said we'd be greeted as liberators by the Iraqi people? (Heck, they way they were talking, I thought the biggest threat would be the risk that rose petals would jam tank treads and cause our liberator-infantrymen to slip.) Wasn't it over a year ago when Cheney said the insurgency was in its final throes and soon our troops in Iraq could all go to Disney World? Almost three years ago when Baby Bush landed in strutting Tom-Cruise-in-Top-Gun mode on that carrier with the big "Mission Accomplished" sign (which of course the White House had nothing to do with) and declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq? And now our loftiest goal is to hope there isn't a civil war and to rely on Iraqi security forces to deal with it if they can.

Not only have NONE of those predictions (not to mention the prediction that we would find weapons of mass destruction, remember them?) been realized, but now Gen. Abizaid says sectarian violence is an even MORE serious problem than the insurgency. Actually, they are more or less the same thing. Insurgents have been largely Sunni who don't want to live in a Shiite/Kurd dominated Iraq. Sectarian violence is Shiite vs Sunni.

Aren't things just going swimmingly? Three more years.

dynastic politics in the home of dynasties

Can you believe it? In Egypt, there is a whole raft of second-generation sons-of-politicians waiting to take over. A veritable pseudo-elected aristocracy of elitists with a sense of entitlement, the son of President for Ever Hosni Mubarak prominent among them.

Clearly in a true democracy, people are selected and elected based on their qualifications and their philosophies and their ability to convey their views to the people, not just because they happen to have a prominent father or brother or sister or husband or something like that. A healthy democracy avoids family dynasties and looks for fresh blood. We've seen such penny ante "elected" dynasties in tinpot dictatorships masquerading as republics in places like North Korea, Syria, and Haiti, and Egypt is obviously on the same rotten path.

For example, here in the United States the number of politicians who have relied on the family name and connections to get ahead has been limited to only ... umm, errrr, oops.... (scratching head)

Never mind.

shame on THE george washington university

Incredible. A kid checks into the university hospital saying he's depressed and thinking of suicide, and the university KICKS HIM OUT FOR VIOLATING RULES OF STUDENT CONDUCT? Wow, that is harsh.

His vilation of the rules of conduct -- "endangering behavior" -- was nothing more than saying "I'm depressed and think a lot about suicide". Not just harsh, that is inhumane. I guess The (they insist on the stupid capitalized "The", just like "The Ohio State University" and "The Leland Stanford Junior University") George Washington University thought if they could kick the student out before he offed himself they could try to avoid liability.

I agree caring for suicidal college students is tough, they are somewhere between child and adult so the legal status is awkward. But to kick a kid out for this is absolutely unconscionable. And for the record, the student has transferred to the University of Maryland, hasn't committed suicide, and is on track to graduate early.

The GWU should be ashamed of itself.

that dubai port deal, again

Broder and Ignatius and the Post editorialists all miss an important point in talking about the bad precedent the rejection of the Dubai Port World deal. Part of the reason Congress and a lot of Americans opposed the Dubai Port deal is because the de facto Bush Administration have been yelling "BOO! BOO! THERE'S AN ARAB TERRORIST STANDING RIGHT BEHIND YOU WITH A NUCLEAR BOMB AND A VIAL OF SMALLPOX" at frequent politically-convenient times for the past four-and-a-half years.

Is it any wonder Americans are paranoid about Arabs???? The angst about having an Arab company run New York and other ports was a Pavlovian response that rebounded against the Administration, and through no fault of their own, against DPW and the UAE. And Broder & Posties, you can't blame just Chuck Schumer and the Democrats for that -- plenty of REPUBLICANS (NY Congressman King, for one early example) were right there with Schumer in publicly opposing the Dubai deal. That House committee vote was 62-2! I do agree that stoking the fires lit by the Bush-Cheney crowd may not be wise in the long run. But it is wrong just to blame the Democrats (who do not, you may have noticed, actually control Congress) for the Dubai debacle.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

it's nice to see them learning the lessons of american democracy

Oh ye of little faith who don't believe our beloved de facto President Bush when he says Iraq can learn American-style democracy. Here is proof that Iraq's government is beginning to learn how to conduct itself like an Bush-style democracy -- it is giving us bald-faced lies.

Apparently the Iraqi puppet government is covering up the body counts of execution-style killings being done in Iraq by Shiites against Sunnis. Congratulations, progress is being made. Next step -- tax cuts for the rich.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ban bonds

This book coming out about Barry Bonds' steroid use looks pretty damning. Looks to me like baseball has as much evidence against Bonds as they did against Pete Rose for gambling. Baseball should ban Bonds. Let Aaron keep the home run record, don't let some 'roid-bloated freak capture it. And while we're at it, let's restore Maris' single-season home run record, too.

climate change hair on fire moments increasing

Even mainstream media columnists are beginning to realize there are potentially major problems facing us on climate change. David Ignatius is right, we need to act quickly. You know my concerns if you read this blog regularly. I truly worry that future generations will curse the name of the United States and George W Bush over this issue, far more than over things like torture and invading Iraq. So does Ignatius:
Usually, America's political antics are forgivable, but not on this issue. As evidence grows that human activity is accelerating dangerous changes in the world's climate, the Bush administration's excuses for inaction are running out. History will not forgive political leaders who failed to act on this issue, and neither should voters.
There may be one last excuse that the scoundrels will seek as their last refuge against taking action that might cost oil companies part of their profits: "oops, it's too late so there's nothing we can do about it now." Watch, they'll be saying that as people go fishing over downtown Miami.

ban on gay marriage impeded justice

From the Enron trial, a good legal reason for making gay marriage legal!

Later, Fastow talked about another deal in which his partnerships temporarily purchased a wind farm from Enron. Fastow and his business partner, Michael J. Kopper, transferred the assets to Kopper's domestic partner, William D. Dodson, avoiding disclosure that would have been required if the men had been legally married. The ruse amused Skilling, Fastow said.

"He got a little laugh, that there was this hole, hole if you will, in the law."
See, if we had legal gay marriage, Enron couldn't have exploited this loophole. 'Course, there are about a bazillion more they would've used anyway...

maybe baseball is here to stay...

I've been careful about being too optimistic, but now that the DC City Council and MLB have both approved a stadium deal and lease, I'm now upgrading my condition from "in agony" to "guardedly not-quite-optimistic." Things could happen. For example, an ancient Indian burial ground could be found where second base is supposed to go to delay construction, or the Department of Homeland Security could decide that concentrating 41,000 people within site of the Capitol is an unconscionable security risk and decide the stadium would be better built somewhere not quite so close, say Delaware.

Now all that needs to be resolved is picking a sucker willing to cough up a few hundred million dollars for the franchise. Call me a fool, but I think this should happen pretty quickly.

And THEN the new owner and MLB will have to resolve the whole question of whether the Nationals/MLB have exclusive marketing rights to the name "Nationals" or not. Bygone Sports, an Ohio sports apparel manufacturer, was granted the right to copyright the name "Washington Nationals" by the US Patent and Trademark Office in February. Bygone is also trying to register the names of other former baseball teams like the Homestead Grays of Negro League fame. I don't like what Bygone is doing, claiming rights to names that rightfully should be either in the public domain or owned by MLB, but if it forces a name change, that'd be OK with me -- I'm not wild about "Nationals" anyway...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

$50,000 per inch?

It must be tough to go through life being really short, and I don't blame parents of very short children for worrying about it. But a hormone treatment for such kids ends up costing $100,000 dollars over five years and only adds two inches or so to their height.

Really, 5'2 vs 5'0 -- doesn't seem like it would be that big a difference in the kid's self-esteem, or the way he/she will be seen by others. It's a waste of money, and a course of daily injections over five years seems to me would REINFORCE the message that your kid's shortness is somehow wrong, making the kid feel even WORSE about having to look up at his/her peers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

not ready for hurricane season

You know, flood walls "substantially weaker" than before Katrina hit probably won't help much should another hurricane hit New Orleans. Levees are only as good as their weakest link. The Army Corps of Engineers denies it is cutting corners and says all will be fine, as good as before Katrina hit (which really wasn't quite good enough, was it?). But a Louisiana team and a panel from the National Science Foundation say that substandard materials are being uses. On NBC News tonight, they also touched on the fact that some flood walls that survived Katrina but may have been weakened still haven't been inspected.

The Corps says all is on schedule, but it looks like a bandaid designed to meet a political promise rather than a comprehensive revision and repair of the levee system.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

the 18% vice president

De facto vice president/farm-raised-small-bird-killer-in-chief Dick Cheney's latest poll numbers show him with an 18% popularity rating. Eighteen percent. The Post article points out that makes Darth Cheney less popular than OJ Simpson after his trial. Less popular than Joe Stalin is with Russians. But a little bit more popular than Paris Hilton, so that's all right.

Cheney's puppet I mean putative boss' numbers aren't much better, after another crap week revealed more of their stupidity and cupidity. Bush is in Jimmy Carter territory. Unfortunately, this is after Bush's re-selection (thank you, Diebold and Ohio!) so it doesn't do much good for America unless it helps sweep out some of the more odious elements of the House and Senate in 2006, and prevents another beetle-browed conservative theocrat oilman type from succeeding Bush in 2008.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

u.s. close to dictatorship?

Some politician predicts de facto President Bush could be impeached, and complains that we are close to dictatorship.

Some disgruntled left-wing Pelosi Democrat? Out-of-work Tom Daschle? Rob Reiner?

Nope. Conservative/libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Paul is one of Bush's harshest critics, pounding him from the right for Bush's foreign policy adventurism and cut-taxes-and-spend-even-more domestic politics. Not to mention Bush's ever-growing power grabs...

blackberry blackmail

The Canadian manufacturers of the Blackberry have given in and agreed to cough up over $600 million to resolve a dispute over the patent.

It's total bullshit. I'm NOT a Blackberry user -- I wouldn't have one if you paid me, and people who are proud of being at their bosses' beck-and-call 24/7 because of this nasty little device are equal parts full of themselves and self-deluded. However, it's completely bogus that a company that submits a vague idea -- in this case, for a wireless email device -- and gets a patent for it without EVER attempting to actually build the device, and in fact doesn't even address the technical and software challenges in making such a thing, gets to hold the Blackberry manufacturers hostage. The winning company, NTP, is nothing but a parasite.

This is another good example of how our patent system needs an overhaul, badly. Amazon's one-click shopping is another bad patent, in this case for a business method. One kid even patented the technique for riding a swing -- put up to it by his lawyer dad, who just wanted to demonstrate the absurdity of our current patent system.

Friday, March 03, 2006

hell on earth, part 2

I might have been premature in calling Randolph, Utah hell on earth. Dominos pizza magnate and Torquemada wanna-be Tom Monaghan wants to build a little fundamentalist-Catholic theocracy in Florida.

Monghan wants to have Ave Maria, Florida to be a town where no abortions can be had, where dirty magazines will be barred from the stores, and where you can't buy condoms or other kinds of birth control in the stores. Seems his plan is to sell houses but to only lease commercial space, with restrictions on un-Catholic activities. Oh, and when deciding whom to vote for in 2008, remember that Governor Jeb Bush was present at the groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month and thinks the idea is just nifty.

Surely Monaghan is forgetting a few ideas. He'll need bookstores that don't sell books that deny papal infallibility or anything else that doesn't square with Monaghan's extremely conservative view of Catholicism. He'll doubtless want shops that sell rods no thicker than the thumb with which men can beat their wives, as suggested in the Bible. And maybe a nice fish-and-loaves shop instead of McDonalds...

Various groups already plan to sue to stop Monaghan's plans. But if he were to succeed, Ave Maria, Florida would indeed be a little patch of intolerant hell on earth -- or at least, Purgatory.

love those hours

Well, apparently Ambassador Pam Willeford's husband was along on the infamous Cheney-Whittington hunting trip, so maybe that kills the affair rumor.

On the other hand, what a great job -- 21 weeks of vacation in just over two years while being an Ambassador? Willeford is CLEARLY on the same work schedule as the President. Sign me up!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

they don't all have casino wealth

It's kind of pathetic that Native American tribes have to now lobby to counter the new image that all of them are rolling in casino riches. I've visited reservations in South Dakota and New Mexico, and it clearly isn't the case. I've seen the situation described by Chester Carl and not just on Navajo reservations.
Chester Carl , chairman of NAIHC and executive director of the Navajo Housing Authority, and tribal housing leaders yesterday talked about overcrowded living conditions, substandard housing, lack of adequate heating and clean water, and isolated conditions.
And the de facto Bush administration wants to zero-out funding for the National American Indian Housing Council. Clearly, American Indians need to find some oil to get any traction with this administration.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

tape shows bushies were briefed on katrina in advance...

Secret video footage just released prove that days before Katrina hit the coast, de facto President Bush and his master of disaster Chertoff were briefed that "the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers." The ever-incurious Bush didn't ask one question during the briefing.

So adding to incompetence in the case of Katrina you can add the offense of lying, an offense that comes quickly and naturally to this Administration. Remember, Bush and Chertoff both said at different times that "nobody expected the levees to break." Added to scads of media reporting over the years on just that possibility is this videotaped briefing proving they are stupid or liars.