Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Fred Kaplan:
Two recent signs suggest not only that postwar Iraq is going badly but that top Bush officials, finally, know it
I really enjoyed Bill Maher last night. It was great to see him back on the air again. He interviewed Sen. Bob Graham and I was impressed how Bob held his own in that tough arena. He even got in a few zingers himself. Pundits are predicting that he would make a strong vice-presidential candidate even if he does come out on top in the Democratic donkey race. A Dean-Graham ticket would certainly have my whole-hearted support.

Something that Sen. Graham said that I found quite interesting is that there is tacit agreement with the Saudi regime that the US will provide for the defensive needs of the Saudi kingdom. In return they have agreed to make sure that the oil spigot stays open.

It could be compared to a deadly embrace. We dare not leave the Saudi family to hang in the wind for fear of catastrophically disrupting the world economy. They dare not move to limit oil supplies too much or we might remove our support of their regime. By the same token the Saudis in the early days made an agreement with the Wahhabi clerics to support their claim to the ascendant position in the Islamic world in return for the clerics blessing of the Saudi family as the legitimate rulers of Arabia. The Saudi rulers are now caught between all these competing interests. They are obligated to fund Wahhabi charities and madrassas lest the clerics turn on them and they are obligated to pump oil for the world's economy lest the US turns on them. Interesting times for the Saudis these days indeed.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Remember the blue dog artwork of George Rodrigue? The dog pops up in all kinds of strange places. I happen to own a blue heeler. And he insists on being in the same room I am so he follows me around the house just to plop down and go to sleep. When he is not asleep he tracks me with just that expression that Rodrigue gives his dogs.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Daniel Gross points out why the deficits will remain even if the economy grows.

"Don't believe it. The Bush administration has been woefully off-base when it comes to projecting federal revenues and expenditures. Even if economic growth meets its expectations, the recovery in federal revenues won't. They have changed the rules too much. "

Thursday, July 17, 2003

So where does the deficit come from? It ain't the war. It ain't domestic programs. It's the tax giveaway to the rich! Don't you forget it.
What he said. Edward Kennedy says all the things I'm thinking about the Iraq situation.
Tim Noah and the Bush Lie, part 2. Ari proves to be incompetent because he just happened to have a truthful moment.
Tenet fingers the White House Aide Behind Uranium Claim:

"Earlier today, Mr. Durbin said on ABC's 'Good Morning America' that Mr. Tenet, in an closed appearance before the intelligence panel on Wednesday, named the official responsible for pushing for the line about uranium in the speech. But Mr. Durbin said he could not disclose that person's identity. 'It should come from the president,' he said."

Watching now to see how the W is going to dodge this one.
This is another case in which evolution is proven to be a fact not a theory. But more than that it can be used as a research tool.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Arianna on George's little yellow lie.:
"The bottom line is: This canard had been thoroughly discredited many, many times over, but the administration fanatics so badly wanted it to be true they just refused to let it die the death it deserved. The yellowcake lie was like one of those slasher movie psychos that refuse to stay buried no matter how many times you smash a hatchet into their skull."

Friday, July 11, 2003

How the White House creatively lies via statistics. The thought of four more years of this makes me physically sick.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The respected UN organization, the WMO on the recent weather worldwide:

"It is possible that 2003 will be the hottest year ever recorded. The 10 hottest years in the 143-year-old global temperature record have now all been since 1990, with the three hottest being 1998, 2002 and 2001.

The unstable world of climate change has long been a prediction. Now, the WMO says, it is a reality."

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Watch out. It seems the right-wing spin/scare tactic on the Lawrence v Texas decision is that by acknowledging a right to privacy in matters sexual that the door is opened for child molestors and rapists to use that right as a defense. In order for that scare tactic to work the courts would have to do more than cut down a sodomy law. They would have to strike rape and age-of-consent laws down as well. I am sure the courts can make a distinction between acts that have victims and acts that don't.
I've been reading Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion on Lawrence v. Texas. His logic is quite good and I can say nothing against it. Basically, he lays out what the reasonable and logical consequences of the decision are and then rails about them. Personally I think that is a miserable way to construct law. It's like a spoiled child that can't make the case for getting what he wants and just throws a tantrum instead.

Scalia is right in that the Lawrence decision puts a reversal to the Bowers decision after only a mere 17 years. He is right in that one would hope that the Court would not be that inconstant. But the fact that he can not face is that Bowers was a flawed decision and it needed to be set right. In Bowers the court ruled that the states had the right to forbid certain sexual acts among consenting adults. In Lawrence the Supreme Court faced a natural consequence of the Bowers decision and found that it was objectionable. This demonstrated the flaws in the Bowel decision that Scalia simply refuses to accept. He posits that there may be consequences of the Lawrence decision that will be equally unpalatable.

Let's see what those might be and judge for ourselves.

” State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding. "

It is reasonable to me that these state laws are absurd and they should be called into question. It's about time. The majority opinion describes this as an "emerging awareness".

Scalia argues that the only rights that are protected by the 14th amendment are those that have a long tradition in this country. It took an amendment to eliminate slavery. I think only an amendment would convince Scalia that discrimination based on sexual orientation should be eliminated. Maybe he's right. Basically he is saying that we have always discriminated against homosexuals and lacking explicit language in the constitution otherwise we should be allowed to continue such discrimination. [Common decency is not a consideration unless you happen to agree with him on what that constitutes that decency.]

Scalia complains that the Lawrence decision means the end of the legislation of morality. Personally I hope that he is right about that. The legislation of morality has always been repugnant to me.

Scalia rightly points out that the Lawrence decision makes laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples at risk. He succumbs to the irrational fear that same-sex marriage will somehow bring some imagined harm to opposite-sex marriage. Just because you believe it don't make it so, Tony. Give us some evidence, please. He even tries to put words in Justice O'Connor's mouth by twisting her assurance that traditional marriage is a legitimate state interest into a equivocation on her part. In Scalia code-talk "preserving the traditional institution of marriage" means moral disapproval of same-sex couples. But I think Sandra is not into that kind of code-talk and simply means what she says. Traditional marriage has nothing to fear from any relaxation of homosexual discrimination.

It's clear that Scalia thinks that homophobics are in the majority in this nation and until they are defeated at the polls and old, generally ignored, portions of the penal code are actively purged of discrimination the Supreme Court should stay out of this fight. Somehow I don't think he would be so passive if he were bucking traditional prejudice instead of preserving it.

In fact it may turn out that Scalia is more correct than the framers of the majority opinion that this decision bring same-sex marriage closer to a reality in this country. This case may be like the one in Canada in which the court was "backed-in" to accepting same-sex marriage because that's where the logic of their decisions led them. May such logic prevail here as well.

I think the majority actually tried to soft-pedal the probable consequences of the decision while Scalia (much to his chagrin) actually has them right.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bush Administration: "Science? We don' need no stinkin' science!":

The mutual incomprehension and distrust between the Pentagon and the Clinton White House, especially in its early years, led to such debacles as Somalia and the clash over allowing gays to serve openly in the military. The Bush administration's dismissiveness toward scientists could also have serious consequences, from delaying vital new medical therapies to eroding America's general lead in science. The Clinton administration quickly felt the sting of the military's hostility and worked to repair the relationship. It's not clear, however, that the Bush administration cares to reach out to scientists--or even knows it has a problem.


Ignoring expert opinion on matters of science may never cause the administration the kind of political grief it is now suffering over its WMD Iraq policy. But neither is it some benign bit of anti-elitist bias. American government has a history of investing in the capabilities and trusting the judgments of its scientific community--a legacy that has brought us sustained economic progress and unquestioned scientific leadership within the global intellectual community. For the short-term political profits that come with looking like an elite-dismissing friend of the everyman, the Bush administration has put that proud, dynamic history at real risk.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The backscatter X-ray method delivers a detailed image in a walk-through scanner. This image appears to be better than those produced in the scanners in the movie "Total Recall". The only problem is that we are going to have to become much less sensitive about our bodies if they are to be used. Basically this thing is pretty close to what one would see if all passengers stripped down to their hair follicles at the checkpoints. The scanner is much faster though.

This also parallels my proposed solution for suicide bombers, an on-the-beach dress code throughout the country. Hard to hide much of a bomb in a thong.