Saturday, September 30, 2006

olbermann, clinton, 9/11, cowardice

Another outstanding commentary from the last mainstream journalist not cowed by, or in the thrall of, the right-wing media (how long before MSNBC fires him, I wonder?). Keith Olbermann calls out the rightwingers who are now trying to paint Bill Clinton as responsible for 9/11 because he was distracted by Monica Lewinsky.

Olbermann notes that (1) as Clinton said on Fox last weekend, at least Clinton tried; the Bushies ignored terrorism before 9/11 because it was a Clinton priority so clearly was NOT a Republican one; (2) when Clinton bombed Bin Laden's camp in 1998 it was REPUBLICANS who accused him of trying to divert attention from his blue dress problem -- now they retroactively say he should have done more; and (3) who was it that generated the Lewinsky mess anyway? It was that Torquemada Ken Starr, Congressional Republicans, and the right-wing media feeding frenzy led by Fox News, that's who. And now the Bushies, with their Fox News surrogates leading the way, who are trying to lay this all on Clinton.

As Olbermann said, a textbook definition of cowardice.

another gop perv

You know, for being the self-proclaimed party of values, the Republicans do a pretty good job of showing themselves to be racist, corrupt, cheating no good so-and-soes. And another one has quit. Congressman Foley, dude, surely you know better than to send creepy emails to sixteen-year-old boys?

Guess he didn't.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

things democracies really shouldn't do

There are a few things that I think most people would agree in the abstract that a legitimate democracy that consistently holds itself out as an example to the world probably should not do. But they are being done in the name of the American people.

Torture seems like a good place to start. (Yeah, I know the Bush legal team claims waterboarding isn't torture. But the Nazis thought it was pretty effective. It doesn't have to leave physical scars to be torture.) A bunch of retired US generals and admirals -- not exactly a bunch of softies -- are speaking out against torture. Not only is it WRONG, it is less effective at getting accurate information than other methods. But the de facto Bush administration insists on weakening our legal and moral opposition to torture.

It also seems to me that locking people up indefinitely without trial is a very, oh I don't know, Argentine-military-dictatorship kind of practice. But the White House is getting that authority from its Republican allies in Congress by essentially extending the "battlefield" to cover any place. "Battlefield" is an incredible misnomer when applied to the fight against terrorism since now this draft bill would extend the "battlefield" to wherever a terrorist happens to be. In other words, the government will have the power to lock up anybody they want (because they don't need to prove he's a terrorist) for as long as they want (the duration of the "war"), without interference from anybody else. Senator Arlen Spector accurately called this an unconstitutional suspension of habeas corpus. Guess there is at least one part of Lincoln's heritage Bush wants to preserve; but Lincoln at least was responding to a state of massive rebellion, which clearly is not a valid excuse today.

Isn't throwing members of the press into prison without charges a classic act of a repressive regime? Yet the US government is doing that, as Bob Herbert notes in his column, in Iraq. We are talking about cameramen working for CBS and the Associated Press being thrown in the slammer for months without a shred of evidence and without even the semblence of due process (and some have been tortured, too). Hell, at least the Soviet Union would put on a show trial to spread a veneer of legality over its political decisions to imprison the enemies of the revolution. It's enough to make you wonder whether those journalists killed during the first phase of the war (i.e., before Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished") really were targeted.

Also in a democracy I think most people would agree that allowing police and intelligence agencies to spy on people domestically without a warrant gives the central government too much power. But we're getting ready to do that too here in George W. Bush's America. The argument that sometimes the authorities just can't wait for a warrant is specious since the secret court has only rejected a handful of requests over the past decades AND allows the government to get a RETROACTIVE warrant if time is really short. It's like this Adminstration just wants to do this to prove it can, like a spoiled brat.

Unfortunately, this spoiled brat isn't a snot-nosed ten-year-old. It's the most powerful government on the planet, extending its power further and further at the expense of its citizens, in the name of protecting them. And in the process, the Bush regime is dirtying our country's good name.

Monday, September 25, 2006

about that anthrax

I knew the FBI was still looking for whoever sent those anthrax-filled letters through the mail back in the fall of 2001, but I'm surprised to find out how WRONG the FBI has been about its assumptions. It was NOT "weaponized" so the universe of people competent to have created those letter bio-bombs is much larger. The strain of anthrax ("Ames") is NOT as limited in distribution as the FBI thought, again broadening the range of possible perps.

Not a very impressive performance by the FBI. I'll agree with Senator Grassley: "I'm concerned that the FBI may have spent too much time focusing [on] one theory of what happened and too little effort on the other possibilities."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

recruiting for terrorists and (not) influencing people

The lead in today's Washington Post summarizes the problem quite nicely:
The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.
Yes folks, an April National Intelligence Estimate confirms the obvious -- invading Islamic Arab countries makes Muslim Arabs like the US less and less, and makes them more and more likely to want to do nasty things in return. I remember Egyptian President-for-Life Hosni Mubarek in early 2003 saying that a US invasion of Iraq would create a hundred Bin Ladens. Congratulations, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and the rest, for attacking a country ruled by an unsavory but NOT terror-supporting regime and simultaneously failing to catch the REAL #1 terrorist - guy by the name of Bin Laden - and breeding new terrorists as a bonus.

Speaking of not influencing people (at least not positively) with our cowboy foreign policy, what struck me during tinpot tyrant Hugo Chavez's absurd speech at the UN last week was the fact that it was received with applause and laughs. He actually struck a chord with the gathered ministers and ambassadors when in his cartoonish, over-the-top language he criticized the de facto Bush Administration's interventionism and bellicosity.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

pizza drivers of the world, unite. you have nothing to lose but your tips.

Eleven drivers at a Domino's in Florida have formed a union. Good luck to the American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers -- unions in the US are pretty weak, legal protections are weak, and the fact is, it's pretty easy to replace pizza drivers.

But I love the reason that union organizer (who will no doubt soon be slandered with false allegations of mafia links) Jim Pohle gives for choosing to deliver pizzas for a living: he likes to sleep late, smoke on the job and listen to the radio.

Now those sound like the working conditions for me!

bin laden dead?

A French newspaper reports that Saudi officials believe Osama Bin Laden died of typhoid last month. You might remember Bin Laden, he was in Afghanistan and his minions pulled off the 9/11 attacks. Once upon a time, de facto President Bush said he was wanted dead or alive. He wasn't in Iraq, he hated the secular nationalist Saddam Hussein and didn't cooperate with him, and he didn't have access to nuclear bombs.

But it would be nice if he were dead, since the US missed a chance a few years ago at Bora Bora, with Bush/Cheney instead sending troops to attack Iraq, which you will recall wasn't involved in 9/11 and also didn't have nukes nor chemical nor biological weapons. Not to mention the fact that despite warnings from President Clinton and others, Bush/Cheney ignored Bin Laden for eight months until it was too late.

false assurances for colorado voters

A Denver judge said the Colorado secretary of state had broken the law by "failing to come up with minimum security standards for the machines." Judge Manzanares also said that the secretary of state's office "had done an 'abysmal' job documenting which tests were performed on the machines and should not have allowed computer manufacturers to vouch for the security of their own products." However, the judge decided to allow Colorado to use the voting machines because there was so little time before the election.

The response of the Colorado secretary of state Gigi Dennis: "I want to assure the voters that the machines are safe, their votes are secure, that they need to feel confident about their vote, and I encourage them to vote in November."

The machines are by the four major voting machine manufacturers, Diebold, Hart, ES&S and Sequoia. Plaintiffs trying to stop their use pointed out how vulnerable they are to tampering.

If I lived in Colorado, Dennis' statements wouldn't inspire much confidence that my vote, and those of other Colorado voters, would be recorded and counted accurately.

But what the hell, it's only an election, how important can it be in a democracy to count the votes right?

Friday, September 22, 2006

more on our crooked electronic elections

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who wrote about irregularities in the 2004 election in Ohio, returns to Rolling Stone with a long piece about other problems with American elections using computer voting. Votes counted six times, or not counted at all. Companies being given carte blanche to run the election AND to supervise themselves by corrupt, incurious, and/or overworked local election officials. The midnight installation by Diebold of "patches" on voting machines in heavily Democratic districts in Georgia -- but not in other areas of the state. Now maybe I'm paranoid, but in Georgia in 2004 the Democratic candidate for governor and Democratic Senator had comfortable leads in polls six days before the election (Roy Barnes led the governor's race by 11 percent), and both went down to defeat.

I'm for capitalism and making a profit as much as the next guy, but let me suggest that maybe organizing and running elections shouldn't be a for-profit activity. And we shouldn't rely on computers to count our votes when they are so unreliable and prone to crashes and interference.

$13 million a day and $3 billion

The Forbes 400 list is out again, and what struck me was the two guys from Google each making $13 million a day over the past two years. Not bad money at all.

Forbes naturally celebrates the list as proof that capitalism works. Well, it does but the rewards remain pretty unequally distributed. And remember that top tax rates for the wealthies (well, at least for those in the US) have declined significantly over the past 40 years, so the even-richer of today get to keep even higher shares.

One of the guys on the list, Richard Branson, has committed an expected $3 billion of profits over the next decade to researching alternative energies and fighting climate change.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

paper, paper!

Post columnist Marc Fisher joins the ranks calling for paper ballots. Fisher summarizes things well here:

What Diebold and the politicians who brought us electronic voting don't get is that elections are an inappropriate forum in which to test new technology. Voting is about trust; the goal is to use the least-complicated technology so it is transparent and accessible to all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

fall elections -- predictions of problems

Call me naive, but one of the things it seems to me that in a democracy you would want voting systems to actually WORK before trying to use them. We'll see whether the pattern of "computer problems" is suspiciously partisan this November. I hope it's just incompetence showing its head again (Palm Beach) and not something worse.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

bush still pushing for torture

De facto President Bush has taken the offensive against his political opponents who do not want to make torture (whatever Bush calls it, that's what he means) legal -- those well-known radical Commie-pinko-terrorist-sympathizing-child-molesting REPUBLICANS, John McCain, John Warner, Lindsey Graham, and now Susan Collins.

But the threat to stop the CIA's interrogation program is empty. Frankly, I don't expect the torture to stop before January 2009 even if the Senate version of this bill passes, because this Administration will still interpret it creatively in its own way. "Organ failure" is a pretty damn high standard for torture. So if I held lit cigarettes against your chest and smashed your knees with a baseball bat, it would hurt like hell, but presumably NOT as bad as "organ failure," so that would not count as torture.

All this being done in the name of Americans and civilization.

Friday, September 15, 2006

a strike against torture

Congratulations* to the Senate Armed Forces Committee for taking a stand against torture and against trials where the defendants cannot see the evidence being presented against them. It makes me sick that this is even a question in the United States. John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham (hardly a bunch of bleeding hearts) along with Susan Collins defied their party's leader and de facto Torturer-in-Chief on this one, as did all the Democrats on the committee.

McCain -- who is after all the only current US senator to have been the victim of torture -- has it exactly right. Even apart from being completely at odds with what our country should stand for, torture is ineffective AND is not only incredibly damaging to our image, is also degrading and demoralizing for our American intelligence and military personnel involved. Except for the ones who actually LIKE torturing, who should never be allowed anywhere near a prisoner nor in a position of authority.

It's also scandalous that the White House forced a bunch of military lawyers to send a letter basically renouncing their earlier opposition against show trials where defendants cannot see the evidence against them.

*I wrote this on Friday AM but for some reason it never appeared.** I didn't realize that Bush had actually gone to the Hill to lobby Republicans to support his "context-sensitive" permissable-torture bill. Wilson went to Europe to make peace. Eisenhower went to Korea to see what the state of the war there was. Bush went to the Capitol to expound on the merits of torture. Wow.

**Aha, now it HAS appeared, with the Friday AM date-stamp! The Internet is a strange place.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

broder again wrong on lieberman

In his column about recent primary results (where Democrats and Republicans made "prudent" choices), David Broder again mischaracterizes Joe Lieberman's primary loss. Broder said other results in Democratic primary makes "suspect" the idea that Ned Hanlon represents a new model for the party.

There was nothing "new" about Connecticut Democrats rejecting Lieberman. It was less about Hanlon, and more about deciding they really didn't want a so-called Democrat who keeps cozying up to the (Republican) President, supporting the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, criticizing fellow Democrats, and accusing them of being soft on terrorism (sounds like Karl Rove). With primary voters unhappy about Lieberman already, the main thing Hanlon brought was the money to establish himself as a credible opponent. Hardly a new model.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11 anniversary comments

Richard Cohen will make people angry with this column, but he's right: Bin Laden has won a victory. The US is mired in Afghanistan AND Iraq. If the de facto Administration hadn't decided -- on false and wrong premises -- to go into Iraq, we might have been in better shape in Afghanistan. Instead, we have two places where we have failed to achieve our goals.

De facto VP Cheney still took advantage of the day to again make the false analogy between now in Iraq and the 1930s in Europe, saying "We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics."

As we remember that terrible day, realize this: practically all the goodwill the world showed us that day has been squandered because of an Administration that seized on that excuse and, grotesquely over-reacting exactly as the terrorists hoped we would, subsequently invaded Iraq, approved torture and indefinite detention and arrests without warrants, decided to spy on Americans without warrants, and the rest of it. All that, and they haven't captured Bin Laden. What a record.

Monday, September 11, 2006

consistency, cheney-style

Glad to see the de facto Vice President isn't letting things get him down. Despite admitting the insurgency in Iraq wasn't in its last throes, Cheney continues to stick to his guns. He still equates withdrawal from Iraq as conceding to terrorists. He says knowing what we know today -- no WMD -- he would still have gone into Iraq. He still insists that Iraq was sponsoring international terrorism and "hosted" Al-Zarqawi. Remember, he was living in the Kurdish areas and Saddam regarded him as an enemy.

Consistency is the hobgoblin of a foolish mind. Cheney's consistency in the face of all that has happened since Mr. Bush's War began (or even since 9/11) rises to the level of insane, not foolish. Maybe Charles Krauthammer, who has accused Al Gore of going off his meds, would like to diagnose the VP for us all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

dreading the anniversary

The fifth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 are almost upon us and I dread it. I dread hearing de facto President George W. Bush speak and telling us how he has made us safer but we need to torture and lock people up and shred the Constitution to make us safer, in the process perhaps fatally undermining the way of life he says is under attack. I agree with James Fallows' essay in The Atlantic -- we should declare victory over Al Qaeda and move on to other challenges.

The White House is telling us Bush's September 11 speech won't be political. Don't you believe it, these guys have politicized the terrorism issue so thoroughly that they have nothing else to run on. Which is why the Repugnicans are ramping up their opposition research against Democratic candidates for Congress, "opposition reseach" being the polite term for digging up dirt (making it up when necessary) to slander them.

Even apart from the painful knowledge of how the Bushites have desecrated the memories of those killed on that day by using it as a spurious excuse to attack Iraq, diminish civil liberties (Fallows is right -- terrorists can't hurt us nearly as much as our (over)reaction to terrorist attacks can), and steal a second term. Oh, and I believe we've now had more Americans killed in Iraq (which was, remember, not connected in any way to 9/11) than were killed on that terrible September day.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

ABC revising its revisionism?

Bill Clinton and others are rightly peeved about the changes the producers and writers of ABC's upcoming 9/11 dramatization, "The Path to 9/11." If you haven't heard, it basically revises history (that's academic talk for "lies") to make the Clinton Administration appear incompetent -- in other words, its version of history could be seen as shifting blame from the de facto Bush Administration (which ignored the Clintonistas' warnings in January 2001) to Slick Willy, who was too busy dealing with Monica Lewinsky to stop Bin Laden.

Even the star of the movie, Harvey Keitel, is pissed. He said, "It turned out not all the facts were correct. You can't put things together, compress them, and then distort the reality. ... You cannot cross the line from conflation of events to a distortion of the event."

Keitel is naive. He wants to hold Hollywood to a higher standard than the Republican Party! Anyhow, ABC is reportedly revising things at the last minute. Be interesting to see how it comes out at the end.

But to be fair, the movie isn't just making up facts about the Democrats. It also implies that that a Washington Post story let Bin Laden know that the US was monitoring his phone calls and that he'd quit using satellite phones. ABC has apparently already decided to drop that particular distortion.
I'm sure the GOP is delighted that this dramatization is coming out just in time for the Congressional election campaign. Wonder if Karl Rove is a producer?

so, why exactly are we in iraq?

Today the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report finding that despite the de facto Administration's implications and outright assertions (Cheney above all), there were NO links between Saddam's Iraq and Osama Bin Laden. In fact, Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as a threat. Saddam has said (in his captivity) if he had wanted to align with an enemy of the United States, he would have allied with North Korea or China -- not Al Qaeda. Hell, he even tried to CAPTURE Al-Zarqawi, he wasn't sheltering him.

The only thing surprising about this finding is that the Republicans let it be released. Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe sided with the Democrats to agree to this conclusion, putting honesty ahead of partisanship.

The report also shed light on our intelligence screwups before we invaded. Remember how we said Saddam had WMD, and Iraq was hiding them? This report confirmed again that we were wrong and wrong. And wrong. Basically, under pressure from political figures in the Administration (Yes, Dick Cheney chief among them -- remember his visits to the CIA to meet with analysts. No pressure there, I'm sure.), our intelligence types were too quick to believe the bullshit being peddled by Chalabi and his Iraq National Congress exiles. Who, come to think of it, being exiled were maybe not in the best position to know what was going on in Iraq...

So the Senate Intelligence committee reconfirms: Iraq was NOT linked to 9/11 or international terrorism, and Iraq had no WMD.

One more thing to keep in mind when assessing the honesty and competence of this Administration.

Friday, September 08, 2006

disbelieving the disbelievers

It only takes a couple of minutes of reading through Vaguely Logical to learn that I am not a big fan of the de facto Bush Administration. They are the most incompetent, deceptive, ideological, power-grabbing, and unpleasant a bunch of characters to ever disgrace the White House (and yes, I considered the Nixon and Harding administrations).

But I cannot believe what the disbelievers (including at least one former Bush Administration official!) claim: that the Bushies had some role in the attacks of September 11.

No, they didn't "let it happen on purpose" (and for that matter, neither did FDR with Pearl Harbor). No, they didn't "make it happen on purpose." No, British intelligence and Mossad were NOT involved. If you think the Bush Administration could keep such a massive plot a secret, you grossly overestimate the ability of the government to keep secrets -- especially one like this would be, involving the slaughter of nearly 3000 innocents. And where, pray tell, are the hundreds of people on the four planes if there were no planes involved?

As for why Bush just sat there listening to the Florida schoolkids read that children's book that morning after Andrew Card told him what had happened -- simple. He was stunned. Partying fratboy George W. Bush, who has had everything in his life handed to him on a silver platter, sat there, stunned by the thought that being President might be harder than he thought. It was the natural reaction of an incompetent realizing he has been thrust into a position beyond his modest abilities.

Yes, the Bush Administration has used 9/11 egregiously to partisan advantage, to scare Americans into supporting their anti-democratic policies, to defeat patriots like Max Cleland, and to justify an immoral, absurd, and self-defeating war in Iraq. And I agree they were insouciant to a fault in the months before 9/11, pooh-poohing warnings from the outgoing Clintonistas and from their own terrorism experts.

But they didn't blow up the World Trade Centers or bomb the Pentagon, and they didn't knowingly stand by while others did their dirty work.

so why DO we need secret prisons overseas if they are legitimate?

Writing about de facto President Bush's speech where he admitted we had secret prisons overseas, Eugene Robinson asked "If the secret prisons where U.S. agents interrogated "high-value" terrorism suspects with "alternative" techniques are so legitimate and legal, if they're so fully consistent with American values and traditions, then why are they overseas?" today in a column I wish I'd written. An excerpt (but read the whole thing):
Why not hold the suspects, say, in one of the many super-secure facilities in and around Washington? They would be much more accessible to the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and any other agency that wanted a crack at them. And since al-Qaeda is already determined to attack the United States, why even risk creating potential problems for loyal overseas allies? Why not interrogate America's deadliest enemies on American soil?

Since the president didn't address this question, I'll try. The only reason that makes any sense to me is that the Decider wanted to put his secret prisons beyond the reach of U.S. courts. I think the president and his lawyers knew from the beginning that detaining suspects indefinitely and wringing information out of them with methods that international agreements define as torture -- "an alternative set of procedures" was the president's delicate euphemism -- wouldn't amuse even the most law-and-order federal judge.
Robinson also noted that keeping the prisons secret was to protect the host governments (Poland? Rumania?) from being embarrassed and from avoiding harsh denunciation and probably mass demonstrations from their own publics.

Robinson also pointed out what the President for some reason failed to note:
Those 14 most-wanted terrorists who were kept in the secret prisons? As far as we know, not a single one was captured in Iraq.

some good news from iraq

Maybe I've been a bit harsh on Mr. Bush's War, and too quick to say there was no good news out of Iraq. So in the spirit of fairness, I'm pleased today to announce that one sector of Iraq's economy is absolutely booming. Business opportunities are exploding -- in fact, the potential market in Baghdad alone tripled in August. And we expect growth to rocket for the forseeable future in this service where Baghdad's people are dying to be served.

The sector? Mortician services. You see, over 1500 people were taken to Baghdad's morgue in August after being killed in acts of violence, almost triple the figure for August 2005, and 100 times greater than August 2002, when only 15 people were killed by gunfire. If anything, this UNDERSTATES the economic potential here because many people killed in gunfire and bombings are taken to hospitals rather than the morgue and aren't included in the official figures. And now Baghdad's municipal government is considering building two new morgues. So jump in now while the market is hot.

In any case, these updated numbers refute the comment by Maj. Gen. William Caldwell that violence in Baghdad was down by 46% for August. That was accurate, except for the parts that were completely wrong.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

meet the new campaign slogan, same as the old campaign slogan

Once again de facto President Bush has unveiled the Republican's campaign strategy. They will say "Boo" at us more and more loudly until we wet our pants and vote for the authoritarian I mean tough Republicans who will surely protect us from Bin Laden and the other scaries out there.

Never mind that it was a Democratic administration that foiled the Millennium plot in 1999/2000. Never mind it was this very same Republican administration that snoozed throughout early 2001 despite warnings from the outgoing Clintonistas and their own terrorism experts at the FBI and elsewhere that warned about an impending attack. Never mind that Iraq is NOT the place to "defeat" terrorists, but is in fact the place where we are breeding MORE anti-American terrorists in a place that -- repeat after me -- HAD NO CONNECTION TO THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11.

Of course, they are resorting to this because they have nothing else to offer. A reputation for competence? Definitively shredded by Katrina. Economic management? Check out our bigger-than-ever trade and budget deficits. They got NOTHING to run on but fear. Nothing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

another number two

Yet another "#2" for Al Qaeda has been arrested in Iraq, some guy called Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saeidi. However, other insurgents in Iraq said that Saeidi was not that important.

Enough "#2" and "#3" Al Qaeda types have been arrested to fill RFK Stadium. But the de facto Administration isn't being deceptive, oh no. See, Al Qaeda has a very flat organizational structure, which if you depicted it schematically, would look like a pancake with a strawberry on top in the middle. Bin Laden (remember him? He was once wanted dead or alive?) is the strawberry, and is the #1. Everybody else is tied for #2.

And if any of them were really good targets, wouldn't you think we might prosecute one of them, just for kicks? Despite arrests and indefinite detentions, terrorism prosecutions are DECLINING. One reason is that most of the schmucks we've arrested weren't dangerous. Another reason might be that the ones who genuinely ARE terrorists have all been tortured (so have the innocent) so any evidence they've admitted probably can't be used in a US court. Yet another reason not to torture, as if we should need any beyond this basic one -- we are Americans, and Americans should hold ourselves to a higher moral standard than Stalin and Pol Pot.

Oh, and as always, don't make the mistake of confusing "Al Qaeda in Iraq" with the Al Qaeda that perpetrated the atrocities of September 11, 2001. As Bush himself somewhat irritably said at his recent press conference, there WAS NO CONNECTION between Iraq and 9/11.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

vulnerable gop house majority

Political observers are increasingly convinced that the Democrats have a very good shot at gaining a majority in the House of Representatives this fall.

On the face of it, that makes sense. The GOP is saddled with an unpopular President. The Speaker of the House is an uninspiring cypher. Real House leader Tom DeLay had to resign under the increasing weight of his personal corruption. Congress has repeatedly failed to do even the basics, like passing budgets, and has fought a class war on behalf of the haves vs the have-nots with their tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the rest.

But I will believe it when I see it. First, I imagine there will be more terror alerts and trumped-up arrests and plots, which may make some difference although the undeserved Republican lead on handling national security has been reduced by 3/4s over 2004.

And second is outright electoral fraud. Let's watch the exit polls in districts where the race is expected to be close. If all the exit polls in close races are wrong in exactly the same way -- that is, the official count gives the Republicans more votes than the exit polls -- then we'll know the fix is in. Again.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

oops, we lost again

The US men's drought in international basketball continues -- beaten on Friday by Greece. This was no fluke -- the Greeks, 2005 European champions, are good and played well.

Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon I think assesses the situation pretty well. The US isn't losing because they aren't sending good players (hey, this team included stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony). US teams lose because we STILL don't respect the opponent, STILL don't believe that a bunch of foreigners can win at OUR game.

And as Wilbon said, there is a bit of a "white men can't jump" attitude that contributes to our teams' complacency. But the other strong basketball countries in the world -- say Greece, Yugoslavia, and Argentine, just to pick a few that have knocked us out of tournaments over the past few years, not to mention other strong teams like Lithuania and Germany -- don't believe that absurd urban legend.

but it's not a civil war

The Pentagon is pessimistic about the rising violence in Iraq. Over 3000 Iraqis are dying violently every month, attacks are up over 50% recently from the not-exactly-peaceful earlier levels. But it's not a civil war, right? 'Course not. Just the death throes of the anti-US forces, now in their 18th month, right VP Cheney?

hear, hear, rocky

An excellent summary of the deceptiveness, malice, and incompetence of the de facto Bush Administration in a speech by the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson.

Gosh, I remember the days when we used to criticize torturers, not promote them and honor them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

it's a start, maybe

California has passed legislation mandating a 25% cut in carbon emissions by 2020. It's a start -- the biggest commitment made in the US to cut emissions, by the second biggest economy in North America.

Bush's top environmental advisor (that's like being the social director at a concentration camp) welcomed this as a "complement" to the Federal government's programs to reduce greenhouse gas INTENSITY by 18% by 2012. Intensity is tons of emissions per unit of GDP. In other words, if the economy grew by 18% between now and 2012 (a reasonable goal), and intensity were cut by 18%, we would in real terms have ZERO reduction in tons of greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere. Cutting intensity is a cynical move to act as if they are doing something, while not doing a damn thing.

Nero fiddles, and Rome runs the risk of being submerged.