Thursday, April 28, 2005
Don't Push the Red Button
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Bush's Mandate and Texas' gay bigotry
When the wedding, guys? (Don't give me a hard time, I understand the message this photo communicates to the Arab world.)
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
In Iraq, things not so quiet after all
The most senior officer in the US armed forces, General Richard Myers, says Iraqi insurgents have lost none of their capacity to stage attacks.Excuse me, Mr Rumsfeld, did you notice the recent article from the London Daily Telegraph:
The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff said there were 50 to 60 attacks a day, the same level as one year ago.
General Myers said: "I think their capacity stays about the same. And where they are right now is where they were almost a year ago."
BBC's Adam Brookes at the Pentagon said it was clear that the optimism, euphoria even, that gripped America's military leadership after the success of the Iraqi elections in January, has now dissipated.
Donald Rumsfeld: "The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis."
Iraqi army and police units are deserting their posts after the recent escalation in insurgent attacks, according to reports from around the country yesterday.
Also, US 'came close' to Zarqawi catch
US forces recently came close to capturing Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq.
"We were close," Gen Richard Myers told a news conference. "I think in general the intelligence is getting better. Having said that, we still don't have Zarqawi"
Slowly, People start to see Bush's deception
Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
in late May 2003...31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004.
Moreover, the public preception of Bush and his Iraqi follies is going from bad to worse.
54% disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve.
53% now believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was "not worth it."
Bush's Townhall Meetings: Not for everyone
The US Secret Service is intensifying its investigation into whether a Republican volunteer committed the federal crime of impersonating a federal agent while forcibly removing three people from one of President Bush's public Social Security events.This is beginning to sound like thought crime to me. These people, along with others, are being threatened with arrest for actions they might take. Let's assume everyone is checked to rule out weapons and the like and there is no real threat of bodily harm. Then at worst there might be a brief disturbance. And moreover, then the folks can be arrested for actions they did willingly engage in. Instead, the Bush traveling circus uses misdirection and deception to shelter their fearful leader from any visible display of decent:
Alex Young, 25, Karen Bauer, 38, and Leslie Weise, 39, say they were forced out even though they never verbally protested or displayed anti-Bush shirts or signs. The White House has not disputed this account.
The three are self-described progressives who arrived at the Denver event with a "No more blood for oil" bumper sticker on their car and thoughts of protesting.
This wouldn't be much to report if it was a single incident. Or if only the work of a few overzealous GOP operatives.
When they were entering, they were pulled them aside and told to wait for the Secret Service, Young said. A few minutes later, a man who refused to identify himself warned they would be arrested if they staged any protests. They were allowed to take the seats, only to be forced out without explanation about 20 minutes later. The man, whom Young described as about 30 and muscular with close-cropped hair, again refused to provide his name or affiliation. A local Secret Service agent told a lawyer representing the three they were targeted because of the bumper sticker.
In Fargo, N.D., earlier this year, a local newspaper reported more than 40 residents were put on a list of people who should not be let in the door...
Several people reported similar treatment at other Social Security rallies, as well as during the 2004 presidential campaign, when the Bush team reportedly required some people to sign forms endorsing Bush to get into the events and removed dissenters.
The Justice Department recently moved to dismiss a case filed by the ACLU on behalf of two West Virginia residents arrested last year after refusing to remove anti-Bush shirts at a Bush campaign event at the state capitol. The ACLU is investigating other incidents to determine if it can show a pattern of silencing critics in unlawful ways.
"The incidents occurred in so many locations it's hard to believe individuals in each local area are coincidentally making the same decision," said Christopher Hansen of the ACLU Foundation in New York.
Absolutely, Positively, No WMDs in Iraqi
Why the Fuck Did We Go War?
From the AP, U.S. Weapons Inspector Finishes Iraq Work:
In his final word, the CIA's top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has "gone as far as feasible" and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.
"After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted," wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall.
Well, did all this war and destruction at least keep us safe? Seems this is not the case
The addenda conclude that Saddam's programs created a pool of experts now available to develop and produce weapons and many will be seeking work. While most will probably turn to the "benign civil sector," the danger remains that "hostile foreign governments, terrorists or insurgents may seek Iraqi expertise."
"Because a single individual can advance certain WMD activities, it remains an important concern," one addendum said.
Monday, April 25, 2005
And I want a hybrid car too
The lure of the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars helped drive healthy sales of electric and alternative-powered vehicles last year, according to new data that shows the hybrid market has grown by 960 percent since 2000. New hybrid vehicle registrations totaled 83,153 in 2004, an 81 percent increase over the year before.
Toyota is on track to double Prius sales again this year. The company sold 22,880 Prius cars in the first three months of the year, more than double the number it sold in the first three months of 2004, according to Autodata Corp. Toyota has said it plans to produce 100,000 Prius cars for the North American market this year.
Miller said hybrids could make up 30 to 35 percent of the U.S. market by 2015 as long as automakers remain committed to producing them and market to people who are passionate about driving them. While some analysts believe there’s a limit to the number of consumers who will pay more for a hybrid, Miller said the cost of hybrids eventually will come down.
“Some people are thinking there’s absolutely no reason that all vehicles shouldn’t be hybrid. The technology is there.”
Friday, April 22, 2005
Former US Ambassador: Bolton not so truthful
Bolton gave [a speech] in South Korea in the summer of 2003, in which he said, "For many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare."
When asked about the hard-line speech, Bolton said Ambassador Thomas Hubbard had approved it.
"I can tell you what our ambassador to South Korea, Tom Hubbard, said after the speech. He said, "Thanks a lot for that speech, John. It'll help us a lot out here.'"
Ambassador Hubbard told CBS News that he specifically objected to the tone of the speech and actually found it unhelpful in dealing with North Korea.
"I told the committee that if you're basing your vote on his (Bolton's) assertion that I approved his speech, that is not true," Hubbard said.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Not that GWBush would contradict himself
First; George W. Bush, 4/20/05:
"If someone doesn’t pay his or her debts the rest of society is left paying for them."Amount added to the federal debt during the George W. Bush presidency:
Second; In 2000, then-Gov. George W. Bush:
“The president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price"Fast-forward to April 2004. Saudi Arabia led the fight within OPEC to cut production to keep prices high. President Bush
as president he would “convince them to open up the spigot to increase the supply.”
“refused to lean on the oil cartel” and refused to even “personally lobby OPEC leaders to change their minds.”
Sen Kerry, God and the GOP
"I am sick and tired of a bunch of people trying to tell me that God wants a bunch of conservative judges on the court and that's why we have to change the rules of the United States Senate.
"I am sick and tired of (them saying) they somehow have a better understanding of Christianity, of the Judeo-Christian ethic, of values. We're talking about values? You show me where in the New Testament Jesus ever talked about the value of having taxes and taking money from poor people to give to the rich people in this country."
The Catholic church he grew up with "was a church of universality and understanding and true freedom of conscience" and that there was never this kind of "imposition of values" into politics.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
R. Crumb, Fame, Hitler and TV
He said that as a disaffected young man, if he had not had the outlet of drawing, he probably would have ended up sketching his lurid, big-bottomed female characters "on some prison wall or in a lunatic asylum someplace, or I'd be dead."Famous people with new memoirs they want to sell need to have dinner with famous art critics. For example, art critic Robert Hughes, who interviewed Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, in the late 1970's.
"Now I'm better," he said, adding that "getting famous helped."
Mr. Hughes told about an exchange in which Speer said that architecture was certainly one way to unite a people, but that if the Nazis had had television, there would have been no stopping them.
Mr. Crumb, finishing his plate of baked chicken, beamed. "Oh, that's great," he said. "It's true."
Monday, April 18, 2005
Bush Admin stops publishing Terrorism report
The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.Previous reports: "Patterns of Global Terrorism"
...current and former officials charged that Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.
"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert.
Rep. Waxman, D-Calif.: "This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."
...statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center...reported 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004. That compared with 175 such incidents in 2003, the highest number in two decades. The statistics didn't include attacks on American troops in Iraq.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
GW Bush is a Slime Mold Beetle
Agathidium bushi Miller and Wheeler;
TYPE LOCALITY: United States, Virginia, Lee Co., Cumberland Gap National Park near Skylight Cave.
DESCRIPTION: Body moderately large, rounded, robust, strongly contractile. Head, pronotum, and elytra yellow-red; Head broad, dorsal surface flattened.
Female not examined.
ETYMOLOGY: This species is named in honor of G.W. Bush (Crawford, TX), President of the United States.
Agathidium cheneyi Miller and Wheeler;
TYPE LOCALITY: Mexico, Chiapas, Yerbabuena Preserve.
DESCRIPTION: Body moderately small, broad, robust, rounded, strongly contractile.
Female not examined.
ETYMOLOGY: This species is named in honor of R.B. Cheney (Casper, WY), Vice-President of the United States.
Agathidium rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler;
TYPE LOCALITY: Mexico, Hidalgo.
DESCRIPTION: Body moderately small, broad, robust, rounded, strongly contractile.
Female not examined.
ETYMOLOGY: Named after D. Rumsfeld (Taos, NM), Secretary of Defense of the United States.
In all fairness, I will include a quote from Wheeler in this CNN article:
"We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular."I guess once you have the respect and admiration of university entomologists, you can rest assured your place in history is secure. Who wouldn't want to be forever associated with american slime-mold beetles. For these guys, it just may be one the best honors history grants them. I am sure this is wondering about the obvious, but I wonder how the slime-mold beetles feel about this honor?
Monday, April 11, 2005
GOP eat their own...
Rep. Shays, R-Conn: "Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election. My party is going to have to decide whether we are going to continue to make excuses for Tom to the detriment of Republicans seeking election."
The majority leader was admonished three times last year by the House ethics committee. The panel has been in limbo since March, when its five Democrats balked at adopting Republican-developed rules.
Shays, a moderate who has battled the GOP leadership on a number of issues, said efforts by House Republicans to change ethics rules to protect DeLay only make the party look bad.
Updated: From CQ, via DCCC:
Sen Chafee, R-R.I: "We've got to uphold the highest standards of legality and ethics. You can't have your leader under a cloud. It makes it difficult to run."
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Politicizing Schiavo didn't help the GOP
In [a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll], most Americans disapprove of the efforts by President Bush and Congress to draw federal courts into the dispute over treatment of the brain-damaged Florida woman.
Question Agree Disagree Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are “trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans” on moral values. 55% 40% Democrats, who sharply expanded government since the Depression, aren't trying to interfere on moral issues. 53% 40% Disapprove of Bush's handling of the Schiavo case. 53% 34% Disapprove of Congress' handling of the Schiavo case. 76% 20% The “religious right” has too much influence in the Bush administration. 39% 18%
On the last question, of the religious right” has too much influence in the Bush administration,
That's a change from when the question was asked in CBS News/New York Times polls taken from 2001 to 2003. Then, approximately equal numbers said conservative Christians had too much and too little influence.
Iraq made peace offers to US before invasion
From the archives of the Guardian Unlimited: Saddam's desperate offers to stave off war
Friday November 7, 2003
In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq's Ba'athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks...
From the archives of the New York Times, via CommonDreams: Iraq Said to Have Tried to Reach Last-Minute Deal to Avert War
November 6, 2003
...an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.
Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.
[General Habbush's chief of foreign intelligence operations] Mr Obeidi...urged [Lebanese-American businessman] Mr Hage to tell his Washington contacts Iraq was ready to talk about anything, including oil concessions, the Middle East peace process, and banned weapons. The Iraqi official said the "Americans could send 2,000 FBI agents to look wherever they wanted", according to Mr Hage.
A week later Mr Hage travelled to Baghdad and talked to Gen Habbush himself. The general repeated the invitation to allow Americans to search for weapons and added an offer to hand over a suspected terrorist, Abdul Rahman Yasin, who had been convicted in the US for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre. The regime would hold elections within two years
Meanwhile, I don't the Iraqis are all together happy we did invade.
From the AP: Thousands Protest on Baghdad Anniversary
Tens of thousands of Shiites marked the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad with a protest against the American military presence at the square where Iraqis and U.S. troops toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein two years ago.
"This huge gathering shows that the Iraqi people have the strength and faith to protect their country and liberate it from the occupiers," said Ahmed Abed, a 26-year-old who sells spare car parts.
In Rome, Bush Booed and Clinton Cheered
Many Italians still angry over killing of security official in IraqNote: "When Europeans whistle at sporting events, they are signaling disapproval -- or, even derision."
When the ]resident Bush's face appeared on giant screen TVs showing the ceremony, many in the crowd outside St. Peter's Square booed and whistled.
Bush stayed out of public view on Thursday, meeting privately with Italian leaders and U.S. Catholic leaders in town for the funeral.
From the New York Times: A Lovely Day for a Stroll: Bill Clinton in His Element
Clearly unwilling to spend a beautiful day in Rome cooped up in his hotel, he went for a midday stroll...Mr. Clinton was clearly reveling in the fact that shoppers, tourists having lunch at outdoor cafes and Italian business people walking to meetings all stopped to greet him...Along the streets, people starting yelling "Bill, Bill, Bill," and a few shouted "U.S.A.!" One shopkeeper raced out with a photograph of Mr. Clinton on a past visit...by the time Mr. Clinton made it out of the back streets and into the open square, a mob of hundreds developed.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
GOP Sen counsel: "Schiavo is a great poltical issue"
From WashPost: Author Of Schiavo Memo Steps Forward
The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo...
[Martinez] said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)...
..."I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid."
But how is he being stupid? For passing the memo to a Dem? Or for thinking that using Mrs. Schiavo for political gain was a good idea. Again I say it: idiots.
It would be unfair to paint the whole GOP with this memo (but fun). On the other hand, Sen Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said
he believed that the memo originated with the GOP because it is "totally consistent" with how the Republicans have operated for the past four years. "They just shouldn't lose their memos."What we are seeing the hubris circulating at the top levels. They are forgetting to "mind the sheep." And those, Sen Martinez et. al., that have been sweeped along in the rush to power, don't even understand what's going on. When holding a piece of paper in his hands in the Senate Building, he doesn't read it before he passes it to the opposition.
Sen Lautenberg (D-N.J.):
"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper."
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Bush or Chimp, ask the Belgium Police
Belgian trainers helping police to understand body language have caused a controversy by likening George Bush's facial expressions to a chimpanzee's.
Larger version (178K)
Now availible on a T-Shirt!
Bush worst 2nd-term President Ever (so far)
Here are the approval ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup in the March following their re-election:
Truman 1949 57% +12 Eisenhower 1957 65% +20 Johnson 1965 69% +24 Nixon 1973 57% +12 Reagan 1985 56% +11 Clinton 1997 59% +14 Bush 2005 45%
Sen Cornyn condoning violence againt Judges?
I make clear I object to some of the decisionmaking process occurring at the U.S. Supreme Court today and now. So far as the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people, it has led to increasing divisiveness and bitterness of our confirmation fights that is a very current problem this body faces. It has generated a lack of respect for judges generally. Why should people respect a judge for making a policy decision born out of an ideological conviction any more than they would respect or deny themselves the opportunity to disagree if that decision were made by an elected representative? The difference is they can throw the rascal out and we are sometimes perceived as the rascal if they do not like the decisions made, but they cannot vote against a judge, because judges are not elected. They serve for a lifetime on the Federal bench.
I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country--certainly nothing new; we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that has been on the news. I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds and builds to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification, but that is a concern I have that I wanted to share.
And on the same day: HONORING POPE JOHN PAUL II -- (Senate - April 04, 2005, Page: S3123). Why include this? In the above comments, Sen Cornyn attacks the SCOTUS for banning the execution of minors. If I recall correctly, the Pope sided with the Supreme Court on this matter.
I am troubled when I read decisions such as Roper v. Simmons...And the United States Supreme Court, on March 1, 2005, held that Christopher Simmons or any other person in the United States of America who is under the age of 18 who commits such a heinous and premeditated and calculated murder cannot be given the death penalty because it violates the U.S. Constitution. Page: S3126The Senator quotes the late Pope and affirms his agreement:
"O God almighty and merciful, he who sows discord cannot understand You. He who loves violence cannot welcome You. Watch over us in our painful condition, tried by the brutal acts of terrorism and death. Comfort Your children and open our hearts to hope that in our time, we again may know serenity and peace." I can only add my own amen to that prayer. Page: S3123
Living will, with beer clause
I, _________ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and
body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.
If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a
cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't ever get better. When
such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who aren't in a permanent coma.
Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case.
I don't care how many fundamentalist votes they're trying to scrounge for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else's life and leave me alone to die in peace.
I couldn't care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don't know these people, and I certainly haven't authorized them to preach and crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own business, too.
If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Protecting Judges from DeLay
Friday, April 01, 2005
DeLay threatening Fed Judges?
Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. (March 31, 2005)
From the office of Sen Ted Kennedy:
Mr. DeLay's comments today were irresponsible and reprehensible...But at a time when emotions are running high, Mr. DeLay needs to make clear that he is not advocating violence against anyone. People in this case have already had their lives threatened. In just the past few weeks, judges and their families in this country have been brutally murdered...It is time...not for more inflammatory rhetoric, and responsible national leaders should understand that and stop this exploitation.
(March 31, 2005)
From the office of Sen Frank Lautenberg:
(all emphasis mine)
Dear Rep. DeLay,
I was stunned to read the threatening comments you made yesterday against Federal judges and our nation's courts of law in general...
As you are surely aware, the family of Federal Judge Joan H. Lefkow of Illinois was recently murdered in their home. And at the state level, Judge Rowland W. Barnes and others in his courtroom were gunned down in Georgia.
You should be aware that your comments yesterday may violate a Federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. §115 (a)(1)(B)...
Threats against specific Federal judges are not only a serious crime, but also beneath a Member of Congress...
Federal judges, as well as state and local judges in our nation, are honorable public servants who make difficult decisions every day. You owe them -- and all Americans -- an apology for your reckless statements.
(April 1, 2005)
Update: Vice Pres Dick Cheney is quoted as, New York Post
Cheney said he backed efforts to help save Terri Schiavo's life, but strongly disagreed with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who wants retribution against judges who blocked restoration of her feeding tube.
"I don't think that's appropriate . . . There's a reason why judges get lifetime appointments," he said.
(April 2, 2005)