Thursday, September 30, 2004

Stemming the Tide

Juan Cole has received leaks that the White House is delaying arrests in the Valerie Plame and the Lawrence Franklin cases until after the election. Nothing of interest here. It's just politics. Move on along now.

Rolling Blunder

This article by Fred Kaplan explains in a long narrative exactly why the Bush administration in directly responsible for North Korea's potential nuclear weapons. The same ideology that led them to ignore Clarke's bin Laden warnings also led them to ignore the work that needed to be done to defuse North Korea's bomb-making capacity.

The Clinton administration was on the right track on both points. The Bush administration dropped the ball and should be held responsible for ignoring these real threats that have resulted in the foreign policy disaster we face today.

Russia set to ratify Kyoto protocol

Those lousy Russians are ahead of us again. If they ratify, the protocols go into effect and all the signatories must follow them. This really puts the heat on the US and Australia.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Kerry One-Liners

Some debate preparation that I found to be just special.
"Congress, myself included, voted to give the president permission to put the bullet in the gun.

We did not give him permission to shoot us in the foot."
With apologies to Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife.

Daily Kos Today

Has some quick hits.

A soldier speaks out. Iraq isn't becoming another Vietnam as much as it is becoming our Russian-style Afghanistan.
Because the current administration is more concerned with its image than it is with reality, it prefers symbolism to substance: soldiers are dying here and being maimed and crippled for life. It is tragic, indeed criminal that our elected public servants would so willingly sacrifice our nation's prestige and honor as well as the blood and treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional.

It is all the more ironic that this un-Constitutional mission is being performed by citizen soldiers such as myself who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the same oath that the commander in chief himself has sworn.

Turning up the heat. Military families speak out.

The DeLay sleaze factor. Are there any Republicans out there who are the least bit embarrassed about this?

Special Outsourcing

It's one thing to outsource American jobs but now they are trying to outsource torture.
The Republican leadership of Congress is attempting to legalize extraordinary rendition. "Extraordinary rendition" is the euphemism we use for sending terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture for interrogation. As one intelligence official described it in the Washington Post, "We don't kick the sh*t out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the sh*t out of them.”
Note that only suspected terrorists can get treated this way. God help you if they suspect wrong. But don't worry. We know that every single person we have arrested on suspicion of terrorism is guilty. That's why we have successfully tried and incarcerated so many of them so far.

Cheney distorts it again

From ABC's Noted Now:
Cheney on Kerry in Duluth, MN: "When asked if he, knowing everything he knows now, would he have voted the way he did then. He said yes. This morning Diane Sawyer interviewed him on 'Good Morning America' and asked the same question, 'knowing everything you know now would you have voted that way,' and he said no. He's changed his mind on many occasions."

# WHAT KERRY WAS ACTUALLY ASKED ON GMA TODAY: "Was the war in Iraq worth it?"

# WHAT KERRY REALLY SAID: "It was a mistake to do what he did," Kerry said to ABC's Diane Sawyer, referring to President Bush's decision to start the war. "But we have to succeed now that we've done what he's -- I mean look -- we have to succeed."
What does it say for the real case against Kerry when they have to twist it like this? Either they have a comprehension problem or they know they have to lie to make any points. Pretty sad, really.

Non-profit drug company

This is refreshing. Instead of wringing their hands about developing medications for small markets these folks are doing something about it. Drugs for orphan diseases don't get developed because of the lack of profit prospects. This company obtains the rights to promising drugs, gets the regulatory approvals, and sells them at cost.
The problem is the industry is so profitable, so these diseases don't make it onto the radar. The people who have these diseases are not in sight because they cannot pay. But we can benefit from the wealth of the industry, because they have such a huge R&D machine. They make so many more discoveries than they can possibly use.


It is always difficult to watch the basic hostage and ransom situation play out. Particularly when the goal is apparently nothing more than an attempt to use the life of a helpless person as a means to gain some publicity. The sad part of it all is that we unnecessarily allow ourselves to be victimized by it.

Let's take a look at the power distribution in the typical situation. The extortionist has complete power over the hostage. Whether they live, die, or suffer is completely in his hands. Even if all his demands are met, there is no way to assure that he won't kill the hostage anyway. (Actually it is probably safer for him to do so since it eliminates a witness.) The extortionist needs to give the illusion that he can be controlled in order to induce others to take the actions he is trying to achieve.
"I have your husband and I will kill him if I don't get a million dollars."

"When and where can we pick up the body?"

"You don't seem to understand. He's not dead yet but he will be if I don't get the money."

"For all I know I could give you the money and you would kill him anyway. So whether I do or not doesn't matter. Now where did you say you were going to leave the body and when will it be available?"

"Don't you love your husband and want him back?"

"Sure I do, but I'm not the one who is holding a gun to his head. Whatever happens to him is now ultimately your decision not mine. I have no power over you. I have no reason to believe that you would honor any agreement. You've got him, he's your problem. You have some other problems as well. There are people out there following clues and looking for you. They might get lucky and find you. If they do and you don't hurt anybody you'll most likely get to live. But if you try to fight them when they come you'll most likely get killed. Seems to me your best choice is to let my husband go and disappear now, if possible. If they find you, your best choice would be to release my husband unharmed and surrender peacably. Everything else is bad for you. You decide."
It astounds me that no one has taken that track with the Iraqi hostage takers. I wonder if the Breslan incident would have been less horrific if this approach had been used.

The same thing generally applies to folks who threaten suicide as a way to manipulate the people around them. If you make it clear that the only person who controls the trigger is them they lose their ability to manipulate. When the manipulation fails to happen there is no point to continuing to threaten.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A close election may be no election

With all the legal teams at the ready across the country and all naivety stripped away by the Bush v. Gore dustup, we can expect this election to go to the mats in every possible jurisdiction if it is at all close. I hope I'm wrong but if it does, the next president may have a shortened term because of getting a late start in it.

Sexy Voice Key To Large Sex Life

Research shows that having as sexy voice not only correlates with more partners but also correlates to a more symmetrical body shape. What's a deformed mutant like me to do!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Iowa's Got WMD!

Why is a Republican group pretending to be non-partisan? Maybe because our nation has grown so accustomed to this kind of thing there is simply no more outrage to be had.

Is CIA at war with Bush?

It's one thing to alienate allies by going to war without their support but according Bob Novak the Bushies have pissed off the CIA, as well. Sounds like Langley is starting to go Howard Beale on us.

If the debate were scripted...

These might be some good lines:
"'President Bush has been suggesting that I would be soft on terrorism, or that the terrorists want me to win. But what the president says is not true- my record tells the truth.

When President Bush was playing tee-ball in West Texas I was growing up on the front lines of the war against communism- in West Berlin, just a stone's throw from the wall.

When President Bush was working on a losing campaign in Alabama, I was coming under fire in the Mekong Delta as a Naval Officer in Vietnam.

When he was being investigated for securities fraud in the 80s, I was shutting down the world's largest sponsor of international terrorism- the Bank of Credit and Commerce International- despite opposition from many powerful politicians in Washington.

When President Bush got a sweetheart deal on a baseball team I was pushing for an investigation of those Republican politicians who sold weapons to a sworn enemy of the United States- the government of Iran.

When President Bush was making Texas the most polluted state in America, I was voting for more than 4 trillion dollars in expanded defense funding.

When this president opposed a 9/11 commission and a Department of Homeland Security I was successfully fighting to get those institutions put into place. And now that we have virtually no protection of our chemical plants, when 98% of the containers shipping into our ports- including those from Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Sudan- are completely uninspected, when 1100 soldiers have died in a war that has served as the greatest recruiting tool al Qaida ever had, when the Taliban has started making gains in Afghanistan, when an anti-American government in Sudan has slaughtered 2 million Christians as our government looks on, when North Korea is testing nukes while the inspectors told us BEFORE the War in Iraq that there were no weapons there- President Bush is 'resolutely' leading us down the same failed path while I am offering hope for the future.

You can listen to soundbites or you can read between the lines- no terrorist would ever want this old sailor in the Oval Office.'"
This business of putting words in Kerry's mouth is fun.

Damage Control

Dwight Meredith analyzes why Bush would "absolutely" do the flight suit stunt again. As weird as that answer may seem to be, any other answer to the question would have been much worse for him.
"When Mr. Bush answered that he 'absolutely' would have done it again, he is able to stick to the story that 'mission accomplished' referred only to the mission of the crew of Lincoln and not to the war as a whole. He can spin his stunt as a way of rewarding and supporting the troops. If 'mission accomplished' is confined to a discrete mission of the men and women of the Lincoln, no difficult follow up questions arise.

If he answered 'no,' even a semi-competent interviewer would want to know 'why not?' The negative answer would require an examination of the Iraq situation Mr. Bush expected, the reality of the situation as it actually exists, and the reasons for the differences. That is one conversation that Mr. Bush does not want to have in front of the American people.

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog thinks that Mr. Bush's answer may be his 'political death warrant. I think that the fall out from having to answer the follow up questions from a 'no' answer would be far worse for Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush's answer of 'absolutely' was a form of damage control. "

A characterization of the man

E. L Doctorow:
"He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel."

Hot Debate tips

from David Sirota.

Election Problems

In contrast to the upbeat assessments by the administration, the situation on the ground sounds different.
"The key thing is that the UN election people and their NGO helpers are all in Baghdad because it's too dangerous to travel around the country. But elections are by their nature a decentralized process, taking place in every city and town (well, except for Falluja, Ramadi, Samarra, etc.) throughout the country. You can't really do this work properly while sitting in the Green Zone. And in a little-known fact, these elections won't be monitored by international observers so they'll almost certainly be fraudulent no matter how the Sunni Triangle situation gets resolved. And even if they somehow are free and fair, there still won't be any monitors so there'll be no proof that they're free and fair if folks who aren't happy with the results want to complain about them.

The whole thing is going to be a farce on so many levels that, in fact, I'm a bit puzzled by the level of concern that some folks in town are raising about specific elements of the election plan. You could solve every single problem I've heard discussed in the major media and you still wouldn't be anywhere near a credible vote. And there's simply no way at this point to whip things into anything even vaguely resembling acceptable shape."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Flip-flop ads are dead in the water

Balta says it best.
In 2002, John Kerry said that his vote was doing exactly what George W. Bush said it was doing; telling the world America speaks with one voice, but that war was not inevitable. John Kerry said that he believed Mr. Bush when Mr. Bush said that the war vote was to authorize the President a strong hand to force Saddam to accept inspections, and we reserved the right to act unilaterally if a clear threat did emerge. Hence, even in 2002, he was fully agreeing with the statement from 1997.

John Kerry also said he would be among the first to speak out if George W. Bush did not work to convince our allies to support us or fully exhaust all of the options. His whole speech was basically saying he was going to trust the President because the President promised to do the right thing, but he did throw that caveat in there, saying that if the President proved to be untrustworthy, he would speak out.
and furthermore...
The real question, however is this one: which would you rather have in the White House...the person who deceived the Congress into thinking they weren't voting for a certain war, or the man who was naive in believing that the President of the United States was a trustworthy man.

Given that about 80% of the nation before the war believed the latter part, I find it impossible to say that the man naive enough to trust the President would be a worse leader than the actual untrustworthy President himself.

You know what John Kerry represents? He represents the huge chunk of America that was not skeptical enough of this President in 2002. He represents the people who believed that the President was an honorable man and deserved our trust. He represents the people who said that the President wouldn't possibly lie about something as important as war, and that if he said it was necessary he must be right. That is John Kerry's Iraq record, and if you wish to condemn John Kerry's Iraq war vote, you must first condemn the man who John Kerry trusted to be honest.

A fear of flying

Another baseless story with no merit that portrays the leader of the free world as a jet pilot who lost his ability to bring his plane in.

Fliers know that landing is the hardest part of flying and when the skills are not up to snuff, landing is where it shows it. That's why Naval pilots have a high level of respect (landing on a pitching deck in the dark). My father had a friend who was excellent in acrobatic tactics at his WWII flight training. But he washed out because he couldn't master landing.

Political Reasons

Why hasn't Iraq been a resounding success? Political Reasons.
Before the war, we passed up a chance to take out terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi — for political reasons. We invaded with too few troops — for political reasons. We lowballed the cost of the war — for political reasons. We ignored the UN and then turned around and pleaded for their help — for political reasons. Then we installed Iyad Allawi as president behind the UN's back — for political reasons.

And just recently we've learned that the Marines were yo-yoed in and out of Fallujah — for political reasons. The president has bizarrely dismissed his own intelligence agencies' analysis of Iraq as "guessing" — for political reasons. He's ignored the advice of his own generals about troop requirements for the upcoming elections — for political reasons. And assaults on Baathist enclaves have been postponed until December — for fairly obvious political reasons.

And Thursday's press conference was just scary. It's no longer clear if George Bush is merely a cynical, calculating politician — which would be bad enough — or if he actually believes all the happy talk about Iraq that his speechwriters produce for him. Increasingly, though, it seems like the latter: he genuinely doesn't have a clue about what's going on. What's more, his staff is keeping him in a sort of Nixonian bubble, afraid to tell him the truth and afraid to take any positive action for fear that it might affect the election.

al Qaeda's Candidate

Yahoo News:
"The statement said it supported U.S. President George W. Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader 'more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom.'

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

'Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation.'"
And the Guardian.

Update: Daily Kos links to Conason about this very issue.

The shame of Hamdi

I don't think the quality of American democratic practices look the least bit attractive to the Arab world when our leaders don't realize that bypassing them is a really, really bad idea.

Campaign Funding Loophole

You have to give the Bushies points for being clever at finding loopholes. They have found a loophole you could drive a truck through that allows the RNC to directly fund half the costs of Bush campaign ads. Look for the Dems to follow suit shortly.

The regulation of campaign funding may be a lost cause. I think the best we can do is full disclosure across the board. When a candidate is bought you will at least know who owns him.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bush's Tax Increases

Brad DeLong nails it:
"You see, George W. Bush *talks* about the importance of balanced budgets but does not *act*. Bush appears to know that he needs to talk about the importance of a balanced budget. But Bush appears not to know that it is important to balance the budget. Bush shows no sign of knowing that a reduction in current taxes coupled with a spending increase is not a tax cut, but is instead a tax shift and a tax *increase*--an increase in average taxes over the long run coupled with a shift in taxes from the present to the future.

Bush appears not to know that the overall tax increase bigger spending has set in motion will have bad supply-side effects on growth. He does not appear to know that the tax shift will have further (and in all likelihood much larger) destructive effects on growth: the borrowing to bridge the gap between the present taxes not collected and the future taxes collected would crowd-out capital formation and reduce productivity; the fact that the higher future taxes that will be levied one way or another (through the inflation tax, if all else fails) are uncertain makes investment for the future much more risky, and further diminishes investment and productivity."
This something that the Democrats need to pick up on. When spending exceeds revenue, taxes are going up eventually. Don't let them fool people into thinking otherwise. And there is even a sharper point to this. Who benefits from the money in this "stealth" tax increase? It hasn't been the little guys.

Allawi before Congress

For the sake of the citizens of Iraq and the safety of our forces it would be nice if what Allawi said were true. It will make it that much easier for us to disengage from Iraq. But there are other indicators (like the National Intelligence Estimate) that such a rosy picture is disregarding some unpleasant facts. For Allawi himself it will be interesting to see to what degree his people see him as an American puppet instead of a genuine Iraqi leader. Until the stabilization effort becomes more an international effort, this will be a big political mark against Allawi for the home crowd.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The story that didn't run

CBS was all set to run the story of the forged Niger yellow-cake documents when it got bumped by the Killian memos.
“This is like living in a Kafka novel,” said Joshua Micah Marshall, a Washington Monthly contributing writer and a Web blogger who had been collaborating with “60 Minutes” producers on the uranium story. “Here we had a very important, well-reported story about forged documents that helped lead the country to war. And then it gets bumped by another story that relied on forged documents.”

Putting it in Perspective

What if all the things going on in Iraq were happening in America? Would it be appropriate to say that "freedom and democracy are just around the corner?"

A Letter from Michael Moore

Simply a must read.

TSA Incompetence

This should fill us with confidence. Islamic moderate,Cat Stevens, on the terrorist watch list.
"I don't know about you folks but I sure feel a lot safer when our government goes out of its way to piss on one of the world's leading advocates of peaceful, moderate Islam. "

Stoned Slackers Rule

O'Reilly calls them stoned slackers but the National Annenberg Election Survey says:
Polling conducted between July 15 and September 19 among 19,013 adults showed that on a six-item political knowledge test people who did not watch any late-night comedy programs in the past week answered 2.62 items correctly, while viewers of Letterman answered 2.91, viewers of Leno answered 2.95, and viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart answered 3.59 items correctly. That meant there was a difference of 16 percentage points between Daily Show viewers and people who did not watch any late-night programming.

Peter Jennings and ABC

Now there's another reason for the right-wing to dislike Peter and ABC NEWS. Mr. Jennings may be setting at least a minimum standard for media coverage of the presidential campaign. Blatant lies will be called out. [It took Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to show them how it's done.] And that's good news.
Because if Bush can't lie unfettered, then he’ll lose his main weapon to drive up Kerry's negatives and paint him as soft on foreign policy.

Really Now

What does it say about the judgment of a leader who thinks protesters are threats to his personal security? Given that the Secret Service is kept busy looking for harmless protesters a person who actually wanted to do harm need only disguise himself as one of the faithful. This has parallels with the war on terra. Finding and capturing the real threats is difficult, so let's go after the easy targets instead. It doesn't matter if you really do the job. It only matters if you look like you are doing the job.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Less Safe

I was asked if I believed Kerry's assertion that Bush's Iraq has made America less safe from terrorism. I said yes. Here's why.

When the focus was on Afghanistan and the Taliban we enjoyed unprecendented world-wide support in our efforts. And not only our military efforts but in our more clandestine efforts to locate terrorist cells associated with Al-Qaeda. I don't know this for a fact but it makes sense to me that even Muslim countries that are not normally disposed to be helpful to the U.S. saw their way clear to temper their resistance. Based on the military successes in Afghanistan the apparent power of U.S. in the Middle East was at its zenith. We were in an excellent position to apply judicious force where appropriate or exercise influence in less overt ways. At that point we had the best opportunity to both bring a permanent end to Al-Qaeda and perhaps bring about some real reform in an area that had once been the home to our biggest threat. I'm talking about Afghanistan here.

But once Bush set his face toward Iraq, our safety from terrorism began to go downhill. The true war on terrorism can rarely be fought with fancy weapons platforms. The true war needs people and information. To win the war you must isolate the terrorists from their means of movement and support. And once they are isolated you can tighten the noose and take them out. I think the right is hoping that this is what is going on despite all the attention being grabbed by events in Iraq. But I find that to be less likely rather than more likely. Our resources are not infinite and it strains credulity that the suction of attention and resources in Iraq is not diminshing in some way the true war on terrorism.

To be honest, I was surprised that we were as successful as we were in Afghanistan. It is a country with serious adverse terrain. You can not appreciate the steepness and ruggedness of the mountains in that area of the world unless you've seen them and I have. The people who live there take great pride in their ferocity. Establishing a peaceful, law-abiding society there is the challenge of the century.

Instead the Bush administration took a gamble on Iraq. If that gamble had been successful Bush would have been unbeatable in this election and the U.S. would have had truly enormous influence in the Middle East and throughout the world. But the inside straight didn't get filled on the river. The Bush administration lost the pot and we are paying in American lives. We are also paying in lost influence and increased animosity. With every civilian we kill we turn an Iraqi family against Americans for life. From those civilians a growing number of guerilla recruits are created. This will not stop until we stop the killing.

Meanwhile the key players in Al-Qaeda are still in play. On the one hand they are diminished by their losses in Afghanistan and the reduction of support from such states as Saudi Arabia. But on the other hand they are gaining more and more willing followers with each passing hour. It is certain that at some point they are going to have a successful operation on American soil. And that is what makes America less safe.

In order to believe that America is more safe you have to believe that Iraq was really a bigger threat than it turned out to be. You have to believe that ranks of terrorists were being supported there. You have to believe that the missing leaders of Al-Qaeda have somehow been magically neutralized. You have to believe that post-war Iraq is getting more and more settled and more and more peaceful. I don't find these beliefs to be well-founded at all. The American news reports are bad and independent reports are worse. Only American and a few Iraqi officials are reporting that things are getting better and the numbers they use in those reports are quickly discredited.

We will just have to see if the facts match up with the beliefs.

Update: I'm not the only one that's skeptical about Iraq. Yglesias lists others that are as well. He finds few that match the belief system of the administration.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Novak: Quick exit from Iraq is likely

This sounds terrible. But once Bush wins the election what's to stop him from making an even bigger mess in Iraq? We know that he will say whatever it takes to get elected but he will feel no obligation to keep his word once he has nothing to lose. That's the really scary thing with a 2nd-term, lame-duck president. He doesn't even have to pretend that he cares.

Grim Prospect

If we were to follow McCain's suggestion to brutally conquer places like Fallujah, Iraq could become our Chechnya. It may already be headed that way.

Another reason to vote for Kerry

As if it were needed. Link:
"A leader who's determined, for domestic political purposes, to insist that everything is okay simply won't be able to impress upon world opinion the necessity of doing something to stabilize the country. And a leader who keeps insisting that everything is okay, contradicting everyone who's looked at the matter impartially, is only going to see his credibility worsen and worsen. And fundamentally that lack of credibility will destroy -- and has been destroying -- any attempt by the current administration to secure international cooperation on Iraq or any other issue. The United States is the most powerful actor in world affairs, but no leader in his right mind would make himself a junior partner in a cooperative venture with a president who can't be trusted to tell the truth or to follow through competently on his undertakings."

An old adage

It's an adage that something "too good to be true" probably isn't. CBS has embarrasingly had to learn the lesson again.
"It was unclear last night if Mr. Burkett had told Mr. Rather that he had been misled about the documents' provenance or that he had been the one who did the misleading."
Truth is its own defence. And there is plenty of truth laying around that is being ignored by the current administration that the rest of us can pick up and use to bring it down. I'm glad the Killian memo issues were pursued with such vigor since it sets a clear standard for both sides. And under that standard we need to be sure that we are armed and ready to oppose those who have only imaginary weapons.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bush, Guard days

Just a reminder about the lost story in all the hoopla about typewriters,
"Yet looking at the already available public records, they raise as many questions as they answer about Bush and his surrogates' accounts of his service -- because from his Alabama transfer to his missed physical to his substitute service to his 'inactive status' to his honorable discharge, it was as if Air Force and Guard regulations simply did not apply to Lt. Bush. He seemed to become a ghostlike figure, doing -- or not doing -- whatever he pleased, unsupervised and unrated by his commanders. One serious question is whether some of Bush's superiors may have played an active role in hiding Bush's shoddy record -- pressured perhaps by powerful politicians -- by crediting him with crucial makeup training days that appear dubious in nature."
The article is the decent run-down of the questions. The important question, however, isn't his Guard history but rather, what is he doing about the cover-up that has been in place since the day he first ran for public office?


It's just a rumor so far but one of Kerry's crewmembers Jim Rassman may be visiting our fair city this weekend. (Probably just an airport bounce)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Boot Blasts Bush Administration

One of the more respected heads in the conservative camp criticizes the Bush Administration for dropping the war on terror to fight a war in Iraq instead.

John Kerry's Moral Advantage on Iraq

DU articles tend usually toward the shrill, but Doug Snider makes a sober case for why Kerry can succeed in Iraq and Bush can only continue to fail.

Bush lets down his Guard

The man has no shame. Saletan:
But these Guard troops aren't being sent to fight the people who attacked the United States in September 2001. They're being sent to—and locked in—Iraq. Some 40,000 members of the Guard are in Iraq today—six times the number of guardsmen sent to Vietnam. Already, more Guard troops have died in Iraq than in Vietnam.

What does Iraq have to do with the "national emergency" declared by Bush in 2001? Nothing. The 9/11 commission found "no evidence" of "a collaborative operational relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaida. Four days ago, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell reaffirmed, "I have no indication that there was a direct connection between the terrorists who perpetrated these crimes against us on the 11th of September, 2001, and the Iraqi regime."

In short, Bush has pulled Guard troops away from their homeland security duties to fight and die in a war unrelated to the service for which they enlisted. A guardsman who did less than he signed up for is coercing other guardsmen to do more than they signed up for.

Missile Defense Charade

Before 9/11 the Bush administration took its eyes off the Bin Laden threat that Clinton had been working against and focus on the crackpot NMD idea. It was a bad idea then and it remains a bad idea today. It's only redeeming characteristic is that its money could help out with the deficit problem.

The Truth About Big Pharma

Drug prices have been explained by the need for the industry to have money for future drug developments. But marketing does not develop new drugs.
Angell disputes the industry’s reputation as an “engine of innovation,” arguing that the top U.S. drug makers spend 2.5 times as much on marketing and administration as they do on research. At least a third of the drugs marketed by industry leaders were discovered by universities or small biotech companies, writes Angell, but they’re sold to the public at inflated prices. She cites Taxol, the cancer drug discovered by the National Institutes of Health, but sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $20,000 a year, reportedly 20 times the manufacturing cost. The company agreed to pay the NIH only 0.5 percent in royalties for the drug.

W means Wrong

Bush was wrong about WMD in Iraq. Given the questionable reliability of the evidence, the administration bet the lives of our servicemen and Iraqi civilians on his decision. He also bet his job. Well, he lost the bet. We need to make sure he pays with that job. His days of having his powerful friends bail him must come to an end.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Kitty Under Pressure

James Wolcott:
"They grill her on sources, their authenticity, whether she spoke to that person directly or relied on hearsay. And in the interviews I've seen, Kelley has been cucumber-cool and composed, going up to the brink of the available evidence and no further, refusing to back down from her claims of Dubya's drug use, and more than holding her own.

The hypocrisy of the cable newsers reeks to low hell.

For years they've been hyping and peddling every variety of fishy speculation and brazen assertion about the Clintons, Vince Foster, Monica, Gary Condit-Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, this rape case, that abduction case; they've rolled out the ratty carpet for every Swift Boat slob; and now, now, they decide to get loftily anal."

Bush's Parallel Universe: Health Care

Lies and damned lies:
"But there's the problem: It took the Bush-Cheney campaign two paragraphs to completely mischaracterize Sen. Kerry's health plan, and about 800 words to refute the lies. In health care, as in other dimensions of Mr. Bush's parallel universe, the incumbent is relying on the simplicity and consistency that systematic dishonesty makes possible."

National Intelligence Estimate

We are in deep yogurt in Iraq. Kerry is going to inherit a problem far worse than a little, stinkin' recession.

Monday, September 13, 2004

What happens when you take a new look

Researchers in Taiwan have come up with a new hull design for reducing wave resistance as well as the amount of wash kicked up. It looks like the oddest thing but it works. The key idea is to get the waves generated by different parts of the boat to interfere with each other. Odd enough to be both intriguing and effective.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Daily Kos : Why vote for Kerry

Part 1.
"We not only need a better President, we need a better group of policy wonk hires who can get the job done, from finding Osama to getting us better health care. Doesn't seem like such a difficult concept to understand."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Knowing your enemy

Juan Cole:
"Although the United States and its Pakistani ally have captured significant numbers of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a whole new generation of angry young Muslim men has been produced. Al-Qaeda has moved from being a concrete cell-based terrorist organization to being an ideal and a model, for small local groups in Casablanca, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and elsewhere.

The US is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the US has of its."

New Meme on Bush

Even members of the Cato Institute! find they have been poorly served by the Bush administration.

Operation Ignore

Al Franken reminds us of the administration's ideology-based incompetence that led to one dropped ball after another leading up to 9/11. They were Wrong. The Clinton people were right. And we have been suffering under that incompetence ever since. We needed a regime change 3 years ago.

Friday, September 10, 2004

FBI obstructionism

Sometimes you have to wonder if these guys are on our side anymore. It looks like they have become stooges for the Saudis, courtesy of the kingdom's very bestest friend.

The Dishonesty Thing

This has nothing to do with the Air National Guard. It's Krugman, again.
"'Overstating the 2004 deficit,' the center wrote, 'could allow the president to announce significant 'progress' on the deficit in late October - shortly before Election Day - when the Treasury Department announces the final figures.'

Was this a wild accusation from a liberal think tank? No, it's conventional wisdom among experts. Two months ago Stanley Collender, a respected nonpartisan analyst, warned: 'At some point over the next few weeks, the Office of Management and Budget will release the administration's midsession budget review and try to convince everyone the federal deficit is falling. Don't believe them.'

He went on to echo the center's analysis. The administration's standard procedure, he said, is to initially issue an unrealistically high deficit forecast, which is 'politically motivated or just plain bad.' Then, when the actual number comes in below the forecast, officials declare that the deficit is falling, even though it's higher than the previous year's deficit.

Goldman Sachs says the same. Last month one of its analysts wrote that 'the Office of Management and Budget has perfected the art of underpromising and overperforming in terms of its near-term budget deficit forecasts. This creates the impression that the deficit is narrowing when, in fact, it will be up sharply.'

In other words, many reputable analysts think that the Bush administration routinely fakes even its short-term budget forecasts for the purposes of political spin. And the fakery in its long-term forecasts is much worse."


It should be noted that the forgery-theorists really don't have to come up with good, definitive evidence that the Killian memos are indeed forgeries. They only need to create a sufficiently plausible story-line that keeps the faithful in the herd. It's not really that difficult since they already believe that Kerry faked his way into military decorations, that Saddam actually had WMD and was able to hide them, that making rich people richer and the rest of us poorer is good for the country, that pursuing war in Iraq will protect us from terrorists, and (for many) that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. This election may be decided by the few of the "faithful" who begin to see beyond the house of cards and take advantage of the secret ballot and vote contrary to what their close associates would find acceptable.

Form 180

Kerry has been criticized in conservative circles for not signing off on a full release of his military records, the Form 180. Here I have a quote that indicates that Bush hasn't either.

As The Washington Times reported on August 18:

At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said he couldn't say specifically whether Mr. Bush signed Standard Form 180, but the president did request and release his own military records in February. "I don't believe he signed any form, but he did authorize making his military records available publicly," Mr. McClellan said. "We have released all the records, and reporters were allowed to look at his medical records as well."

Bad Offense

William Saletan has some good lines about how many people feel concerning the present administration.
The attacks of 9/11 presented the United States with a grave new challenge. Bush picked up this football and started running with it—toward Iraq. But Iraq wasn't among the states closely linked to 9/11 or al-Qaida. Nor did it have the weapons of mass destruction Bush advertised. We've spent more than 1,000 American lives and close to $200 billion running the wrong way.
"But what if there's more than one enemy? What if the enemy we're 'fighting back' at isn't the one that struck or threatened us? What if the president turns away from the team that was trying to score on us, and he starts heading for another team that's sitting in the stands, behind our own end zone? What if his 'offense' is losing yards with every stride?

That's the lesson of three years of investigations. The 9/11 commission has found 'no evidence' of 'a collaborative operational relationship' between Iraq and al-Qaida. Bush's handpicked chief weapons inspector, David Kay, says there 'were no large stockpiles of WMD.' What has this diversion done for the war on terror? A year ago, U.S. intelligence officials told reporters that 'as much as half of the intelligence and special forces assets in Afghanistan and Pakistan were diverted to support the war in Iraq.' While we've been bogged down in Iraq, Iran has revved up its own nuclear program, and North Korea has acquired the fuel for as many as eight nukes.

Bush screwed up. He picked the wrong target. He's been running the wrong way."

Breathing, mental problems common among Ground Zero workers

The Ground Zero work was rough on people both mentally and physically. In whatever degree officials inappropriately minimized the physical danger, they need to be called to account.

Skewed poll questions helped shape American bias against Saddam

When the polls reported that Americans tended to connect Saddam with 9/11, the polls were wrong. It was a case in which the nature of the questions gave a skewed result.
"It appears that rather than becoming duped, as the popular account has it, the American public has gradually grown more critical of the idea that Hussein had a hand in 9/11,'' the researchers wrote. ''Rather than showing a gullible public blindly accepting the rationales offered by an administration bent on war, our analysis reveals a self-correcting public that has grown ever more doubtful of Hussein's culpability since the 9/11 attacks."
That helped the Bush administration play to that erroneous concept by giving the appearance that more people were with them than actually were. And this restores my hope that Americans can see through the smoke and mirrors better than it appeared at first.

It is also a cautionary tale for the pollsters of today. To the degree they want the actual truth, they need to be very careful how they ask their questions. And it gives support to poll critics who have reason to question poll results.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Recovery

Kash has some nice clear graphs that characterize the current recovery and compares it to 4 other recent recoveries. It's a sluggard in GDP and industrial production and a real anomaly in employment. The question is, why? Kash will be making the case that the blame can be laid to administration policies. We'll check back later to see if his arguments hold water.

Films To See Before You Vote

Link. Historical perspectives and the common good.

The Security of Truth

Kevin Drum points out the same characteristic of truth I have mentioned before.
"This story is a perfect demonstration of the difference between the Swift Boat controversy and the National Guard controversy. Both are tales from long ago and both are related to Vietnam, but the documentary evidence in the two cases is like night and day. In the Swift Boat case, practically every new piece of documentary evidence indicates that Kerry's accusers are lying. Conversely, in the National Guard case, practically every new piece of documentary evidence provides additional confirmation that the charges against Bush are true."


Personally I don't think that dwelling on George's AWOL Guard duty is all that relevant to the election. Particularly when the failures of the administration have to do with the loss of life and damage to our economy today and in the future.

An honorable discharge

From Media Matters for America:
"Perhaps more striking is how often serious questions of misconduct have been flat-out ignored. John Allen Muhammad, convicted last November for his participation in the D.C. sniper shootings, served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1978-1985, where he faced two summary courts-martial. In 1983, he was charged with striking an officer, stealing a tape measure, and going AWOL. Sentenced to seven days in the brig, he received an honorable discharge in 1985."

A diagnosis

Timothy Noah characterizes the administration's behavior in clinical terms.
"A common theme is the theoretician's contempt for empiricism. But how did George W. Bush, of all people, end up getting conned by a bunch of eggheads? Typically, it's intellectuals, not party-hearty Dekes, who are most susceptible to grand untested theories. It was a reasonable worry, for example, with Bush's 2000 opponent, Al Gore. Bush, who not only lacks intellectual curiosity but seems to hold in contempt those who possess it, does not belong to the risk group for willed agnosia. One would have expected Dubya to growl at his advisers, 'Enough of this hifalutin' talk. Tell me how we're going to solve the problem at hand.' But on the evidence, whenever Bush attempts this (as in the quote from the Suskind book, above), it comes out a mere feint, easily quieted by the enunciation of one of the words his PR superstructure uses to define his presidency: 'steadfast,' 'entrepreneur,' 'forceful,' or whatnot. This suggests that, although not easily conned by intellectuals, Bush is easily cowed by them. He is intimidated out of trusting his own Texas-bred common sense. So rather than willed agnosia, a better diagnosis for Bush is probably hysterical agnosia brought on by exposure to deep thinkers. No wonder he hates them as a class."
The cowed part is certainly consistent with previously noted cowardly behavior.

Twenty-one bad things

Neocons dead wrong again and again. But not a one of them has been held accountable for their incompetence.
"These must be strange days to be a neoconservative: caught between exultant hope and wild terror; utterly discredited, yet still securely in power; proven totally wrong on Iraq, yet still determined to believe against all odds that one more wild throw of the dice will recoup all."
But the perception that the neocons -- including Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith -- have been routed, or are in retreat, could not be further from the truth. They are as firmly in control of the levers of real power in the government as they were in the yearlong, synchronized buildup to their war in Iraq. Not a single National Security Council or Pentagon official who eagerly rode the bandwagon for the war has been fired. Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and aide John Hannah continue to enjoy the full confidence of the vice president.

Dog shoots Florida man

Never give up!

Men Are From Earth, and So Are Women

Bad studies and bad interpretation of statistics has greatly exaggerated the perceived behavioral differences in the genders. In fact, the degree of overlap between them makes the differences in the mean values basically insignificant.
"Obviously the difference rhetoric can create harm for both men and women. Men are taught to believe that they are deficient in caring and empathy, while women are led to believe that they are inherently unsuited for competition, leadership, and technological professions. Given how little empirical support exists for essentialist ideas, it's crucial that professors broaden the dialogue, challenging the conventional wisdom and encouraging their students to do so as well."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

When John Kerry Was a Lawyer

Reference Link debunking the Bush "Willie Horton" ad.

Brief History of Cheney

This is a must-read from the Rolling Stone of all places. Cheney has been a curse for everyone he has worked for. His plans for foreign policy are nothing more than a strategy for world domination. And he has accumulated a bunch of like-minded colleagues whom he uses to further his strategy.
"They were like cancer cells," says retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked on the Defense Department's Near East and South Asia desk during the buildup to the Iraq war. "They didn't care about the truth. They had an agenda. I'd never seen anything like it. They deformed everything."
Hits the nail pretty much on the head as well as clarifies things we have been seeing in this administration.

Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom

This is the Wired article about an aggressive nuclear power campaign. Home-grown pebble-bed technology in small standardized units. The future of nuclear power may be in China.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Unemployment Figures

Chris Bowers has a brief rundown on the smoke that is being passed off as data in the unemployment debate. The upshot is that the rate that best measures the human impact bottomed at 7% just before 2001. During that year it rose to 9.5%. Since it has been as high as 10.2% in 2003 and has come back down to 9.5% in 2004.
"Democrats and Republicans alike need to come clean about how unemployment is measured in this country. They need to come clean not for the sake of the country, but for their own sake. You can't fool people when it comes to this stuff. However, if you are willing to delude yourself into believing things are really much better than they are, you might be surprised when the angry millions who you have moved out of poverty or into a job purely by abstraction kick your sorry ass out of office on election day. "

The right way to recovery

Dittoing Yglesias at The American Prospect, progress?
Gradually, by the 1970s and 1980s, southern political leaders, and even many business leaders, woke up to the fact that deliberately maintaining a low standard of living wasn't worth the paltry payoff in low-wage textile jobs. And slowly but surely, a consensus developed that decent education and adequate public services were positive, not negative, factors in long-term economic development. The states that pursued this "high road" strategy--especially North Carolina and Georgia--tended to prosper. The states that stayed on the low road--especially Mississippi and Alabama--didn't.

That's why it is so profoundly depressing to see the theory of economic development that my home region finally began to abandon over the last few decades now being embraced by the national government as the way for America to successfully compete in a global economy.

One simple question

"How many times have you been arrested, Mr. President?"

Advice to the Beltway whiners

From the Liberal Oasis:
"For the last time (this year) Establishment people: this is all-out combat, and we have one leader.

You have a problem with the campaign, then tell it to the campaign.

Telling the media is for your ego. Not for the cause. Not for the country.

There are 56 days left. Get your damn game faces on, and get behind the big guy."

Jimmy Carter to Zell Miller

Talk about righteous outrage...

Unintended Consequences, again

Bush's accelerated depreciation may be hurting employment rather than helping if companies use it to buy systems that enhance productivity.
The rub is that such products, production and installation of which isn't particularly labor-intensive, are expressly designed to allow companies to operate with fewer—rather than more—employees. These productivity-enhancing solutions are supposed to pay for their expensive selves over time through reduced labor costs (read: fewer workers).

In theory, greater productivity is supposed to free up more resources for companies to invest, grow, and hire. But for the past few years, U.S. companies have proved to be remarkably shrewd about doing more with fewer—or the same number of—workers. And the temporary accelerated depreciation rule may have given companies an extra financial incentive to invest in these productivity boosters precisely at the time the administration was hoping they'd be creating new jobs.

Did first Americans come from ... Australia?



That massive Halliburton contract in Iraq is in trouble. There's nothing like an election year to get people to really mind their P's-and-Q's.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Top 25 Censored Stories

These are good.

Sen. Bob Graham Book Bombshell

Proof of 9/11 Cover-Up
It's been a good weekend.
Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.

Update: Link to the Salon article on Graham's book.

Ha Ha! Fooled ya! Every child gets left behind

The No Child Left Behind program is rigged against all public schools.
Kevin Drum:
"I suspect that a lot of people who supported the worthier goals of NCLB simply didn't realize they were getting snookered: the fact is that the Bush administration wants to see lots of public schools labeled as failures. It's basically a long-term plan to erode the public's faith in public schools and thereby increase support for private schools and vouchers.

This is part of a pattern from conservatives, who realize that their domestic agenda is actually pretty unpopular and can be passed only if people don't realize what they're getting. NCLB is an example of this kind of stealth legislation, and both last year's Medicare bill and this year's 'ownership society' are additional examples. In the end, though, NCLB may turn out to have been too clever by half, as parents rebel against being labeled failures instead of meekly accepting the verdict of the federal government."

Hello, Kitty

The new Kitty Kelly book may keep the dark campaign off its feed for a while. If all her sources don't beat feet for Denial-ville it could be fatal. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Comparing Speeches

It's telling to compare the Bush acceptance speech to Clinton's. One has an extensive list of solid accomplishments. The other,...well, not so much. Why should we give this guy a second chance?

Kerry Kids

Watching the Kerry kids at a Youth Forum at Virginia Commonwealth University. Softball questions granted but these kids are sharp and articulate. To heck with John, let's give these kid a shot at government.

A Future Wall

Ben Barnes visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall and had a pang of conscience as he read the names of those who died. He came to regret terribly that he had enabled the children of the privileged to blithely escape the danger so others with little or no social status died in their place.

I wonder if Bush & Co. will ever develop sufficient moral character to face such a wall with regret. 1000 American men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters sacrificed on the alter of their hubris in an unnecessary war. Perhaps everyone doesn't see it that way now but I am confident they will.

I remember all the spin that came from the official sources about how we were always winning that war and causing the communists terrible losses. And I remember the soldiers (my friends and but-for-the-grace-of-God-and-a-high-lottery-number yours truly) who fought coming home damaged and suffering from the terrible things they had witnessed and even participated in. The truth on the ground was much different that what we read in the newspapers. This war will prove no different.

Kerry understands this intimately. Bush, as he is on so much else, is clueless.

Dirty laundry

Bob Graham book speaks of a coverup of a Bush to Saudi to 9/11 terrorist link. This should be interesting.
Also here.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Culture War

This may be no news but there is a genuine culture war being waged in our country that has striking similarities to the conflict between Islamic fundamentalism and secularism that exists is most if not all predominantly-Muslim countries. I caught just a snippet of discussion on public radio among a commentator, a fundamentalist Christian public official, and a more liberal public official.

The fundamentalist was making the point that not only did his religious persuasion require him to adhere to a particular code of behavior it also required him to strive to bring the whole civic and social structure to adhere to that code. In his view the code was morally superior to the laws and practices as they stand now and it was his moral and religious duty to move society up to that superior plane. Such activism has in fact been the source of great social advancement of the common good in the history of this nation. When abolitionists began speaking, agitating, and demonstrating against slavery they were a small but energetic minority. They were also a great threat to the social structure of the time and had no want for opposition and criticism. In the end a bloody and destructive civil war was fought in large part as a result of their activism. Now we all agree that slavery was a bad thing and that the country and its citizens are better off without it.

Today folks in a similar fashion are coming into conflict over homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and abortion rights. They hold that their code bans homosexuality and sees an embryo as a full-fledged human being. And they believe their code to be morally superior to current laws and practices and as such they have an obligation to bring society "up" to that standard.

The crux of it all is how much of a real right do they have to impose their view on society at large. Is their right equal to that of the abolitionists or even the civil rights advocates of later years?

In a liberal or pluralistic world view one expects ideas to compete on their merit in the social marketplace. Eventually a consensus is achieved that is more correct or a reasonable compromise. The liberal view expects the fundamentalist to work and make his case.

That's all fine and good. But the fundamentalist does not see it that way. He sees the marketplace of ideas as an unfortunate secular circumstance. His job is to game or otherwise subvert that marketplace in such a way that his ideas are adopted and everyone toes the line. After all, his ideas are superior and there isn't any real need to examine them. He knows they are superior because some omniscient authority has told him so. Because of his belief he is obligated to toe the line of his code and it would obviously be a better world if everyone else did so as well. Anyone who exercises their freedom to be different is not a moral equal but someone who has chosen a lesser moral path. In their zeal to coopt the marketplace, the fundamentalists can be adept at "playing the game" and can have every appearance of seeking a fair intellectual competition. But when sufficiently challenged with objective evidence that refutes their position, they show that they "would rather fight than switch" (the allusion to an old cigarette commercial probably dates me).

The fact of the matter is that our society is not well-served at all when the marketplace of ideas is subverted by anyone. The preservation of that marketplace must be a higher priority than anyone's pet view, no matter how right and true that view may be. We have to make sure first and foremost that the market remains a fair market for all ideas, good and bad. And then we need to trust that the most pragmatic idea is the one than emerges.

While I have picked on the fundamentalists here (because today I see them as the clear-and-present danger), radicals can be just as dangerous to society when they seek to subvert the intellectual marketplace.

Here's the deal. The fundamentalist has the advantage of being able to completely focus his energies on the advancement of his point of view. He gains nothing by keeping the market free and open. In fact, a case could be made that a closed market in opposition to him is better than an open one. He just needs to commandeer the rudder to change the direction. The liberal must strive to keep the market open and advance his pet ideas. So whatever seemingly unbounded energies the fundamentalist muster to subvert the market, the liberals must find it within themselves to fight all the harder. For the true fundamentalist, the end justifies the means. No amount of intellectual dishonesty is too much as long as it advances the cause of the "righteous". Basically we have to fact-check like mad because no one eles will. And we have to be vocal when the rhetoric exceeds the objective evidence.

The days of easy complacency are gone for the foreseeable future. Perhaps after a generation of work we may get a rest.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Cold Fusion

It's not a lost cause. Something is happening there but we don't understand it very well.

Vulnerability of US power grid identified

Our power companies now know what to fix.
"According to the model, a loss of only 4 percent of the 10,287 transmission substations results in a 60 percent loss of connectivity. During a cascading failure, in which the high-load substations fail in sequence, the model shows that the loss of only 2 percent of the nodes causes a catastrophic failure of the entire system.

The authors point out that this vulnerability is an inherent part of the existing system. If the power grid were highly redundant, however, the loss of a small number of nodes should not cause power loss because the system reroutes through alternative paths. Possible remediation schemes include increased redundancy focused on key substations and transmission lines, or more distributed generation, which would decrease the load on these key points. ''Future additions to the system should consider the effect of the new nodes on relieving strain on key nodes,'' Albert says. ''From this model, we know how defects can propagate through the system, we have identified parts of the system that need to be improved because they are not redundant, and we can show which substations need to be protected from failure in order to avoid widespread system failure. These are considerations that could help guide energy policy decisions.''"

Human ancestors quickly found their feet

A CT scan of a six-million-year-old thighbone shows hominds were walking upright before they had big brains.

Portable nuclear power plants

I'm not so sure this is a really good idea for developing countries. But small, self-contained, minimal-maintenance nukes may not be a bad thing in developed countries. Especially as a means to decrease the use of fossil fuels. A collection of them could even do a better job of load-following that current power plants can not.

Reactors work best if they are left at full power for extended periods or shut off. You either have 1000 megawatts or nothing. With a reactor farm you could have a broad range of power levels to choose from.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Setting the Record Straight, Again

Courtesy of Fred Kaplan
This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and implied that Kerry voted against those weapons. By the same logic, they could have claimed that Kerry voted to disband the entire U.S. armed forces; but that would have raised suspicions and thus compelled more reporters to read the document more closely.

What makes this dishonesty not merely a lie, but a damned lie, is that back when Kerry cast these votes, Dick Cheney—who was the secretary of defense for George W. Bush's father—was truly slashing the military budget.
I've been criticized for taking liberal-sourced reports at face value too much. But when this is the standard for press releases coming straight from the RNC no less, liberal sources seem in comparison like an excellent sources of good information.

Make them look ridiculous

I just had a (rare) cool idea! The best way to destroy and disrupt a mean slur is to make fun of it for its cluelessness. I shooting off a note right now to the Kerry campaign advising them to start making and selling spitball kits. Perhaps use the line, "When it comes to defending the country, John Kerry is dead serious. But when it comes to defending against Republican slurs, spitballs do the job."

Saletan vs Miller

In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.

Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics.

Are you prepared to become one of those countries?

Tick tick tick

Debt debt debt:
"Since one person's debt is another person's asset, the vast expansion of American debt in recent years theoretically could have been accompanied by an equivalent rise in American assets. But the U.S. is blessed with open and vibrant capital markets. With Americans simply refusing to save, the government has increasingly sold its debt to the central banks of our trading partners like Japan and China. To a large degree, then, the debts of American taxpayers are now the assets of Asian governments. If the U.S. Department of the Treasury simply becomes a funnel through which American tax dollars flow to foreign central banks, President Bush's ownership society could become more of an Asian phenomenon than an American one.

But don't expect to hear much about deficits or debt tomorrow night, or any time this week. Like the phrase 'Democracy in Iraq,' the words have simply evaporated from the Republican vocabulary."


What the Sept 3 Jobs Report may mean for the campaign. This could be exciting.

Philly considers wireless Internet for all

Many small communities across the country have already established WiFi with transmitters on their water towers. Now there soon may be WiFi in Philly.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Meanwhile, back in Florida

Everyone is making preparations and evacuating or hunkering down awaiting the arrival of a 100-year storm, Frances. No one is paying much attention to the RNC. The fate of Japan was once decided by a "divine wind" that destroyed an invading Chinese fleet. Divine Wind translates as "kama-kazi". Maybe it will help decide the fate of the US.

George W. Bush's missing year

The story Mary Jacoby tells is a sad one. It was a time of tumult for young George. And sad as that may have been, sadder still was the cover-up. Especially for the old friends who found themselves frozen out as an expedient to the family's ambition.

A basic component of 12-step and other recovery programs is to make an inventory of the wrongs one has done to people and to make direct amends for those wrongs wherever possible. It's too bad George W didn't come forward when he began his political life and say,

"I was young and foolish once and I caused lots of trouble for lots of people. I abused my commitment to military service and I am not proud of that. I dedicate a portion of the rest of my life to making amends to those people I have hurt."

Not only would he have been able to get that troubled past behind him politically but he would have genuinely demonstrated the kind of character that the image makers have attributed to him. It's too bad. It's just really too bad. Now, after attaining the country's highest office, that troubled past and all the baggage the subsequent coverup has accumulated over the years is rising up to reclaim him and his associates like the cursed House of Usher.

House of Feith

Juan Cole hints that Wolfowitz, Feith, and Perle may make the perp list because some past counter-intelligence probes involving them were dropped without resolution.

Swift Boats and Double Standards

Ginsberg responds.

My take on it is that Ginsberg's response is a proper one. No coordination should mean no coordination. Unfortunately Mr. Bush's sympathizers have a tougher case to prove. It's much easier for groups to be critical of a sitting president and his policies independent of any political campaign. But a negative ad directed at Kerry owes its very existence to the fact that a campaign is underway. The deck is stacked against the incumbent in this regard.

Another factor is the content of the messages. The SBVT ads contradict long standing official records. Extraordinary claims call for extraordinary proof. Generally the claims made by the most effective anti-Bush ads are matters of public record mixed with a specific interpretation of that record. The controversial veracity of the SBVT claims leads naturally enough to the credibility of the people making the claims and the motives behind the claims. It turns out there are plenty of reasons to question that credibility and that leads back to a coherence with the goals of the campaign.

SBVT claims aside, the interpretation of those claims strains credulity. If Kerry was a fraud as a hero how could he possibly have hoped to be taken seriously as a critic against the war? He never shied away from using the events in Vietnam as a touchstone for his political life. No one is alleging that his records were sanitized or that he received special treatment.

So please, Mr. Ginsberg, release your hounds on the 527 of your choice and bring it on. The best way to get high-quality free speech, whatever the source, is to put it all under the same magnifying glass.

On a related topic:
The SBVT are continuing with more ads about the VVAW activities. My prediction is that they are going to hang themselves with their own rope. They are going to bring focus to the genesis of Kerry, the fiesty and fearless public servant. Kerry didn't get into office based on family connections. He got there the hard way, he earned it. And earned the respect of his constituents as well. This is the real danger of the 527s to a candidate, that they damage the campaign with their unbridled zeal.

Reference, reporter mailing list

In comments.

Unintended Consequences

The SBVT story got to somebody.
"I didn't live through Vietnam. I didn't even live through the aftermath. Hell, I was still a child when the issue of Vietnam Veterans' rights began to fade from the national debate. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, despite their ill intentions, forced me (and my generation) to focus on a war that we would otherwise never have considered. They have forced me to deal with Vietnam as more than just a textbook example of a war gone wrong, and by turning attention to John Kerry's activities both during and after his service in Vietnam, they have fostered respect in still-young hearts that were otherwise luke-warm towards the man.

They have reminded millions of draft-age Americans that John Kerry served his country in a foreign war that need not have been fought. They have shown them that John Kerry can recognize the difference between a war of necessity and a war of opportunity. And most importantly, they have let these millions of draft-age Americans know that John Kerry will not ask any of them to be the last one to die for a mistake."

Columbus swift boat vet angry about letter

How many of the SBV have been drafted ...again? And poorly used...again.

Pro-Life's dark side

In today's world, unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women a year. In common with many right-wing policies, the pro-life agenda has a strong faith-based component, ie., if abortions are illegal, women will stop having them. But in the real world women still seek out abortions even in jurisdictions where it is a crime. And many of them die as a result. If abortions become illegal in this country I sure hope pro-life proponents are prepared to take responsibility for the toll it will exact on the most-vulnerable women in our society.

Adam and His Eves

Studies of mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome show that our female common ancestor is twice as far back in time as our common male ancestor.
Now here's where things may get a little sticky for the "one-man-one-woman-is-traditional-and-natural" camp. The explanation the Arizona scientists favor for their results is polygyny--two or more women having children with a single man. To understand why, imagine an island with 1,000 women and 1,000 men, all married in monogamous pairs, just as their parents did, and their grandparents, and so on back to the days of the first settlers on the island. Let's say that if you trace back the Y chromosomes in the men, you'd find a common ancestor 2,000 years ago. Now imagine that the 1,000 women are all bearing children again, but this time only 100 men are the fathers. You'd expect that the ancestor of this smaller group of men lived much more recently than the common ancestor of all 1,000 men.

Scientists have proposed that humans have a history of polygyny before (our sperm, for example, looks like the sperm of polygynous apes and monkeys, for example). But with these new DNA results, the Arizona researchers have made a powerful case that polygyny has been common for tens of thousands of years across the Old World. It's possible that polygyny was an open institution for much of that time, or that secret trysts made it a reality that few would acknowledge. What's much less possible is that monogamy has been the status quo for 50,000 years.

People are perfectly entitled to disagree over what sort of marriage is best for children or society. But if you want to bring nature or tradition into the argument, you'd better be sure you know what nature and tradition have to say on the subject.