Thursday, December 30, 2004

Even drug dealers are giving up on the dollar

How low can it go?
"For most products, losing international drug cartels and corrupt Third World dictators as customers would seem to be a desirable outcome. But these guys represent part of our long-standing and faithful base. If you think pundits are fretting about the slumping dollar now, just imagine what might happen if we start to lose the arms dealers."

Wampum: "Natural" disasters

Wampum talks about how indigineous peoples were able to avoid natural disasters by not being dumb enough to hang around full-time on the coast.

And it turns out that the tribes on the Adaman and Nicobar Islands have done just that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Special evolution

The DNA evidence seems to indicate that human brain evolution an extraordinary. When it got started it bestowed such enormous advantage that it became a major selective pressure. And perhaps it still is.


A potential Alzheimer's treatment may be only as far away as your spice rack.

Major advance made in transparent electronics

This looks like it might be a semiconductor materials revolution. Imagine having circuitry that is clear and flexible.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966

How many of us knew this was coming? And could just watch helplessly.

A Whitewashed Earthsea

I'm going to have to get caught up on my Ursula reading, cause the TV program doesn't measure up.

More on the Bush (hswib) strategy

You can afford to be a one-trick pony as long as the trick keeps working.
"The expected Social Security shortfall has been a perennial domestic concern in much the same way that Hussein's intransigence with arms inspectors was a perennial foreign-policy concern: From the White House to Congress to think tanks, policy makers worried about it, but presidents (including Bush) felt no immediate need to deal with it.

Then Bush decided to focus on it, and suddenly a long-term concern became intense and immediate.

Much as the Iraq war was preceded by speeches designed to show Hussein in the most threatening light, the Bush economic summit seemed designed to dominate a slow news week with the idea that failing to deal with Social Security now will hurt the national economy."
Oh, and the fact that we have a deficit problem brought on by relaxed taxation of the rich that is beginning to show up in the falling dollar is just not that important.


It looks like they are going to hold off on the new wave of dollar-busting tax giveaways so they can concentrate on the fine butchering of Social Security.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Asteroid Alert

It's a-comin'.
"An asteroid that has a small chance of hitting Earth in the year 2029 was upgraded to an unprecedented level of risk Friday, Dec. 24. Scientists still stress, however, that odds are further observations will show the space rock won't be on a collision course with the planet."

Merry Christmas from Mosul

In addition to our troops there are Iraqi civilians in Mosul struggling to have a normal life. But even in the midst of that struggle they take the time to wish their readers a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Save Social Security

As the Bush (hswib) administration begins a campaign to destroy Social Security, there is no organized force to stop them. This looks like a job for Joe Trippi's grass roots. Time for those far-flung DFA groups to roll-up their sleeves and get to work.

Don't drill there

A new Zogby poll says Majority of Americans Oppose Arctic Refuge Drilling".

Abuse of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Sadly, the evidence of abuse and torture of Gitmo detainees just isn't news with this administration. They believe they have a carte blanche to do just whatever they please.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The news from Mosul

As seen by the civilian non-combatants. Bomber gets delayed while setting bomb as a patrol passes. Then bomb and bomber explode while a schoolbus passes. The Stryker patrol dismounts and start shooting wildly. Schoolkids catch bullets.

And this is from someone who is generally sympathetic to the American cause. This just keeps getting uglier. It's too bad that this administration is not competent to make a factual assessment of the state of the war effort. If it's bad news they won't say so. If it's good news you can afford to believe them.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Basic Bush (hswib) Hypocrisy

And grown up people who should know better find the level of it to be surprising! Of course, LO is not surprised in the least.
Of course, it is Bush that has rightly said that the way to truly defeat radical Islamic terrorism is to bring about freedom in the Muslim world.

But those are mere words. In reality, Bush has been more than happy to myopically prop up dictators in the name of fighting terrorism.

So it is quite explicable that he would suppress a UN report that has the potential to advance Arab democracy.

It's high time that reporters and Dem politicians stop the charade that Bush's foreign policy doctrines have anything to do with the spread of freedom, and start calling him on his rank hypocrisy.

A program with a problem

Evidently I missed the fact that the recent missile defense test was a another bust. Fred Kaplan weighs in. But I'm confident that people who worry about growing Social Security benefits have no problem throwing more money at a system that would provide little added security...even if it did actually work.

What the Kerik story tells us about Bush (hswib)

Josh Marshall finds the insight from an article in the Times.
"It's a great example -- almost a morality play -- of one of the key flaws in the president's leadership. He gets clear first impressions and makes judgments based on instinct. And then there's almost no follow-up, no challenging instinct with the harsh light of facts. And certainly no accountability. More often than the not, or course, the instinct turns out to just be wrong. As with Iraq, and Putin's soul and now Kerik."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

American Cowardice

The reason our best and bravest are experiencing the horror that is Iraq is because American leaders are cowards. I am including leaders in both political parties in this grouping. As bad as that is, it appears that our cowardice will continue to bring insecurity and conflict as long as we let it guide us.

Real security comes from having a strong offense but in only using it where it is completely justified. Anything else brings insecurity. It's not the fact of our strength that provides security but the fear that we will use it if attacked. It's that fear that gives potential attackers pause. It is their fear that keeps us safe. The trick is to keep the shield of that fear in place.

But there also must be a carrot to go along with this stick if security is to be assured. Just as our ability to counter is important, a practice of reticence about loosing the dogs of war gives those who may be sitting on the fence a reason to choose the path of peace. If they are afraid that we may attack for spurious or illegitimate reasons they have little inducement to behave well.

This has been clearly demonstrated in our recent history. There was little opposition in the Muslim mainstream when we went after Al Qaeda and their friends the Taliban. We suffered the first blow and our justification was broadly supported. But when we pulled a preemptive invasion of Iraq, we proved to the rest of the world that we could no longer be trusted to behave with restraint. This has increased the distrust in the rest of the world and withered any inducements for them to play nice with us. As a result we are less secure, not more so.

Many US leaders displayed their cowardice when talk of a smoking gun mushroom cloud came out. Even if it were not as baseless as it patently was, a real mushroom cloud would have removed all legitimacy from our opposition and given it all to us. Only in that sort of environment, with the terrorists being pariahs throughout the world, would we have a decent chance of bringing the terrorism to an end. They would quickly find that there would genuinely be no place to hide.

As it is now, I truely expect that the terrorism threat will go on for at least another generation until more of the country comes to understand it.

We must also understand that those in power now don't have much of an incentive to end the war. As long as they can point to terror as a threat, they can justify their increase in power as a response to that threat. And that's what they really want, more power. Not security. Insecurity furthers their ultimate goal.

So paradoxically, if we are to have greater security, we need to learn to live at greater apparent risk. We need to be like the black belt who has great skill but uses it little. He lives a life of freedom, security, and peace because he is trusted to keep his devastating abilities in check and indeed only use them when every other effort at peace has failed. He can travel in what would otherwise be dangerous places because no one has anything to gain by provoking him and everything to lose. We need to be brave and suffer the first punch. Then make sure the counter punch is the last punch thrown.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Bad Group Think

Why decisions made by the Bush (hswib) White House are dumber than the people who work there.:
"I would suggest that if you toss into this mix a strong social imperative to demonstrate loyalty to the group, the polarization will likely be even worse. This is how we ended up with an Iraq policy that is much stupider than Paul Wolfowitz, or Don Rumsfeld, or Dick Cheney (none of whom is stupid at all). And it's how we're going to end up with domestic policies that are stupider than Karl Rove, Andy Card, and budget director Josh Bolton."
I'm really looking forward to this.

Interesting Precedent

This administration seems determined to do whatever it damn well pleases even when the Supreme Court has ruled against it. One would almost think that laws exist to benefit the powerful and may be simply disregarded if they become inconvenient. God save King George (hswib).

Born Suckers

Wall Street or Las Vegas, same difference. Only the house wins. The problem is that we are made that way.
"The reality, of course, is that only a tiny handful of people are dedicated and talented enough to overcome their DNA, confront the long odds, and come out ahead of the market averages, and they are as rare as world-class athletes. As for the rest of us, we may have fun trying (and this, in and of itself, is enough reason to play), but, alas, we are almost sure to lose."

Abbas calls for end of Palestinian uprising

This is a good sign. I have contended for a long time (since 2002) that the Palestinian cause would be more successful if it brought its pressure to bear non-violently.

A deep sea hydrocarbon factory

Fringe geologists have been positing for some time that there are sources of non-fossil "deep gas" in the earth. Now a mechanism has been discovered that creates methane in a non-biological process. If the process can be duplicated, we can synthesize methane and there may continue to be life after the fossel fuels run out. Or we may be able to tap the earth's crust more efficiently and get a virtually inexhaustible supply of gas.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Stem Cell Dodges

Some new techniques have been hypothesized that get around orthodox Catholic objections to embryonic stem cells. One is to make an embryo that can't survive. Another is to make an incomplete embryo to begin with. Hmmm.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Ezra gets it

The Christian Right is a throwback to the pre-Enlightenment era.
For the casually spiritual, the secular, the agnostic, it simply doesn't make sense that you'd legislate in accordance with an outdated book rather than cutting edge social science. But for those who truly believe, homosexuality isn't just unpleasant, but a stain on our world. Immorality is an affront to God. It doesn't matter what social science says or public policy students discover, you legislate based on morality, not results."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Auntie Pinko's advice

This columnist has some good points about future Democratic Party strategy.
we should spend the next couple of years doing two things:

* Identifying and prioritizing the qualities we really want in a leader; and

* Paying attention to Democratic elected officials nationwide, to see how well they live those qualities.

I say "qualities," rather than "positions" or "issues" quite deliberately. The Democratic Party embraces too broad a spectrum of beliefs and priorities about issues to ever achieve a consensus about a single individual based on her or his actions regarding a whole array of issues. Rather, what do a Democrat's actions tell us about their ability to lead, in many different contexts?

Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens

Ceci Connolly reports that there may be serious deficiencies in the federally-funded sex abstinence programs for kids. But scientific accuracy is not that high a priority with this administration.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


While my local congressman is pumping out one press release after another about the hundreds of millions of pork he has packed into the spending bill, National Science Foundation funding is severely cut.
"It's not clear whether this was simply a case where congressional leaders had to make room for pork by cutting budgets here and there, or an expression of the modern GOP's distaste for science and its adherents. But provided Democrats get their act together as an opposition party, this bill is really proving to be the gift that keeps on giving -- a mix of outrageous abuses of power, illustrations of the majority's inability to run Congress decently, and awful policy choices at the expense of the national interest."

More Evidence of Global Warming Confirmed

A controversial claim for global warming has been confirmed with more data.
A new interpretation for temperature data from satellites, published earlier this year, raised controversy when its authors claimed it eliminated doubt that, on average, the lower atmosphere is getting warmer as fast as the Earth's surface.

Now, in another study headed by the same researcher to be published Dec. 15 in the Journal of Climate, direct temperature data from other scientists has validated the satellite interpretation.
So, George, how much science is it going to take for you to come down on your polluter friends?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I am the enemy

As I consider the implications of a mindset takeover by the so-called religious right I feel compelled to announce that I stand in firm opposition. I think it is a potentially disastrous thing for our country and, because of our global influence, a potentially disastrous circumstance for the world at large.

First of all, I challenge the validity of their religions. I call them the "so-called" religious right because it is not genuinely religious at all. Fundamentalist generally hold that the purpose of life is to somehow earn enough merits or demerits to occupy heaven or hell in some speculation of the afterlife. I see it as a convenient formula by which some people exercise power and domination of others. It can even be an institutional thing. Religion can be a powerful influence because it requires an element of faith, of accepting as valid concepts that can not be proved or disproved. Once having broken the gullibility barrier it is far too easy for unscrupulous practitioners to the fantasies and speculations too far.

On the one hand I think it is admirable to have a vision of a better world and work to bring that vision into being. This is the kind of exercise of faith that pulls humans society forward and upward. I have no problem with that. In fact it is the kind of faith to which I aspire and hope.

But to the degree that the so-called religious folks look to a vision of a sinful and destroyed world of the future it bodes ill for the policies they would inflict upon the rest of us. They have cast away their hope for this earthly world and only find hope in the next one. They are little different than the fatalistic jihadist who finds it excusable to spread destruction in this world in order to achieve status in the next. When these kind of people are in power it is extremely bad news for civilization. They don't value human progress or human justice. They willingly become pawns for people seeking power for all kinds of reasons. Some are seeking the power to line their pockets, some to feed their own megalomania, and some have found that power is sufficient end in itself. But the so-called people of faith remain as a convenient power source to be harnessed by whomever can feed them the right line.

This is an old business. Much of the Old Testament is devoted to bringing people into line with religion and the fear of God as the tool. Calamities could be blamed by iniquities of which there is always a plentiful supply. Success stories could be constructed out of the distant past. And it's in the peril and judgement that the right-wing finds it's fountain of influence. While true Christianity speaks of love, forgiveness, and hope, this false Christianity harks back to the commandments and consequences of an intolerant God and is inviolable Law.

In the birthing of this country our founding fathers saw the carnage that had been wrought in their recent history when religion became allied with the state. Many of the colonists had come here to escape that deadly combination. The founders sought to avoid that evil by firmly basing our government on secular principles. And the secularism that has held forth a standard of objectivity in the policies of our country has served us all very well, even the religious-minded. Those who see our government as partner with religion do violence to our real history. I admit there has always been a tension there but this country's best moments come when we rise above sectarian concerns and act according to more universal secular ideals.

It's these secular ideals of justice-for-all, equal protection, and civic responsibility that trump sectarianism and bring us all together. It's our common ground of principles that make this country great not our wealth and not our submission to theology.

Even though I believe it is essential to guarantee religious freedom, I also believe that when religion threatens the founding secular principles of this country it borders on treason. This kind of excess needs to be vociferiously opposed and I intend to do so.

Sometimes the greatest danger to a country is genuinely from within.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The coming sh*t-storm

The country as a whole has a right to be suspicious of the right-wing so-called Christian fundamentalist influence on our foreign policy. We have to understand that these people have no interest in keeping the wheels on the wagon. They want the wheels to come off. They look to the second coming when civilization as we know it will end. They have little interest in solving the problems. If the world goes it the shitter it just confirms their belief system. These are not the people we want to have in powerful positions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

More Unraveling

The end game of the Great Unraveliny identified by Paul Krugman begins. As our fiscal policy clown show continues, the dollar begins its inevitable slide. I wonder where we will be a year from now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Moral Indictment

My favorite district attorney gives Congress a well-deserved tongue-lashing.
"There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.

The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt."

More Fuzzy Math

Enron collapsed. It's principals have been convicted. But this administration seems to want to use Enron-style accounting tricks as their model for government budgeting.
"Republican budget writers say they may have found a way to cut the federal deficit even if they borrow hundreds of billions more to overhaul the Social Security system: Don't count all that new borrowing.

As they lay the groundwork for what will probably be a controversial fight over Social Security, Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration are examining a number of accounting strategies that would allow the expensive transition to a partially privatized Social Security system without -- at least on paper -- expanding the country's record annual budget deficits. The strategies include, for example, moving the costs of Social Security reform 'off-budget' so they are not counted against the government's yearly shortfall."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Marriage Rights

Atrios reviews the list of rights unique to marriage that can't be covered other legal instruments. Ergo to deprive a class of people from those rights is to deny them equal protection under the law.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Welfare State, Republican-style

Daniel Gross talks about our out-of-control farm policy. Ag companies are having a banner year with lots of help from American taxpayers.

Oh, yoohoo! Rep. Hastings! Here's some spending cuts you can make. (Whoops forgot. These people are your biggest campaign contributors. Go figure.)
"The real annoyance in recent farm prosperity is that it only seems to have increased the burden of American taxpayers. Even as farm net income rose by half between 2002 and 2004, the volume of direct government payments (read: subsidies) paid to farmers rose by nearly the same amount, from $11 billion to $15.7 billion. If farmers are reaping such a green harvest, why are the rest of us subsidizing them so heavily?

The reason is that our demented farm policy has managed to get even worse recently. It's no surprise that this strangely market-distorting action has taken place in the last few years under a Republican Congress and a Republican president. Despite their self-identification as the party of entrepreneurial, competitive small business, the Bush crowd has shown itself to be a relentless advocate for non-entrepreneurial, competition-averse large businesses. Political geography also plays a role here. Many of the largest farm-goods producing states are red, and many of the largest farm-goods consuming states are blue. To a large degree, the 2002 farm bill, which is responsible for the current regime of subsidies, acts as a mechanism for transferring wealth from the people who earn lots of money in states like Connecticut and New Jersey to (mostly corporate) farmers in Kansas and Nebraska."

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Democrat wins in Montana

What's his formula? A sportsman friendly gun policy, finding the common ground of hunters and environmentalists, standing for local small business against out-of-state corporations, pointing out how Republicans had beggared the state while lining their own pockets, and by not taking any guff from anybody.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Deciding What's Salient About Gonzales

Froomkin summarizes the takes on the Gonzales nomination. But what I want to know is whether the Spirit of Justice will get to bare her breasts on national TV again.

And Phillip Carter questions his competence.
...the point remains that the White House's new nominee to head the Justice Department turned in work that would have barely earned a passing grade in law school, let alone satisfy the requirements of a job in which life and death were at stake. Perhaps more important, these early memos from Texas revealed Gonzales' startling willingness to sacrifice rigorous legal analysis to achieve pre-ordained policy results at the drop of a Stetson.
As White House counsel, Gonzales played a key role in pushing the administration to brand the Geneva Conventions "obsolete" and "quaint" and to unilaterally declare them inapplicable to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Gonzales played a key role in the decision to use Guantanamo Bay as a global detention facility because it was believed to be outside the reach of U.S. courts and the rule of law. (The Supreme Court held otherwise in Rasul v. Bush in June 2004.)

Potential Cure for Diabetes

It is inexpensive and works in mice. Diabetes is essentially an autoimmune disease in which white blood cells start attacking and killing the islet cells. A cheap, off-patent drug can be used to kill the errant white cells. And it seems that new islet cells are generated by the spleen and migrate into the pancreas and set up shop. Human trials are in the near future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It's the Wealth, Stupid

Via Tim Dunlop. Rick Perlstein finds the real root of the Bush win.
On his blog Polysigh, my favorite political scientist, Phil Klinkner, ran a simple exercise. Multiplying the turnout among a certain group by the percent who went for Bush yields a number electoral statisticians call "performance." Among heavy churchgoers, Bush's performance last time was 25 percent (turnout, 42 percent; percentage of vote, 59 percent). This time out it was also 25 percent—no change. Slightly lower turnout (41 percent), slightly higher rate of vote (61 percent).

Where did the lion's share of the extra votes come from that gave George Bush his mighty, mighty mandate of 51 percent? "Two of those points," Klinkner said when reached by phone, "came solely from people making over a 100 grand." The people who won the election for him—his only significant improvement over his performance four years ago—were rich people, voting for more right-wing class warfare.

Their portion of the electorate went from 15 percent in 2000 to 18 percent this year. Support for Bush among them went from 54 percent to 58 percent. "It made me think about that scene in Fahrenheit 9/11," says Klinkner, the one where Bush joked at a white-tie gala about the "haves" and the "have-mores": "Some people call you the elite," Bush said. "I call you my base."

So they proved to be. The two issues he mentioned in his post-election press conference had nothing to do with succoring God-fearing folk; instead he mentioned only "reforming" the tax code, and "strengthening" Social Security—issues of particular concern for the haves and the have-mores.
Glad we got that settled.

The Other Christian Values

Here are the kind of Christian values with which I can identify. My hero, Jim Wallis, has a word.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The options in Iraq

William R. Polk as a guest on Juan Cole. It's a well-done analysis. Three options: really ugly, pretty darn ugly, and exit with grace. The latter requires going public with the stated intention of leaving at the earliest possible and turning over the policing to a UN Peacekeeping force. Guerilla activity has historically died off when the occupier has admitted defeat and turned the country over to the indigenous population (Algeria, Ireland, Vietnam, et al). "Staying the course" is the worst possible scenario.

Moving Target watch

Bush (hswib) stated deficit goal: "cut in half in 5 years." Analysts are looking at that. Fiscal deficit for fiscal 2004 was $413 billion. By that standard the goal would be a deficit of $207 billion for fiscal 2009. But the White House says that they are committing to half of an earlier projected deficit for 2004 of $521 billion. By this standard the goal for fiscal 2009 should be a deficit of $261 billion. For those into long-term bets, there's your spread.


Given the current state of affairs politically, now may be the time to profit from the great mass of true believers out there. If one had wagered against the success of any of the administration policies or gambits in recent years one could have made a tidy bit of cash. There is no reason to expect that systemized failure to turn around in the future. Furthermore there apparently is a fertile field of folks who remain true believers despite all the contrarian evidence. This presents a unique opportunity to profit from them. It would have been a simple thing to take a wager against the Bush (hswib) jobs bill actually achieving the success it predicted. Not only would one have made some money but the loser be led to see that his faith may have been misplaced. Since this administration has a pattern of redefining success when the real numbers come in, the performance measurement by which the bet is settled would have to be clearly spelled out beforehand. What do you think?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Going Forward

Liberal Oasis suggests that we recapture the government by going into "Government in Exile" mode. We need to articulate a clear vision of what a Democratic government would do differently. LO suggests a unifying principle to hang our hats on.
"Belief in the ability of a representative, responsive and accountable government to address certain community problems and protect personal freedoms."

A Most Informative Red-Blue Map

America is more purple than the what you see on the TV news graphics. Even in red states there are some profoundly blue areas and vice versa.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I originally started this blog to give vent to my frustrations with the policies of this country under the Republican administration. As I have matured in my understanding I learned that just giving voice to my concerns doesn't amount to more than a bucket of warm spit. Regardless of the depth of my personal feelings and convictions they are no more significant in this world than the next person who never devoted more than 5 seconds thinking about it. It does no good to just become more and more shrill. In the end none of the message penetrates into the heads of the clueless and uncaring.

I greatly fear that the pinnacle of American moral culture is now behind us. The train wreck will continue undeterred as far as we can project into the future. Rational reason has failed. As repulsive as it may seem, all that is left is the cruelest of object lessons lived out in real suffering and mayhem. All the bad things that our shrillness has projected lay in store for our country and our world. Just as our most pessimistic imaginations have been exceeded in the past four years we can only envision that pessimism will continue to be eclipsed by real events. One can only hope that the complete and utter depravity of the right wing becomes apparent even to the most casual observer. Now it's those casual observers who are truly calling the shots in this country.

The moral compass of America is no more. Newspeak is the language of the future. Only the coming unmitigated disaster can hope to return us to our senses.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Anecdotal Trend Reading

I was encouraged today when a colleague who is generally a Republican voter told me that he is so upset with Bush (hswib) and his cast of enablers that not only is he going to vote for Kerry, he is also going to vote a straight Democratic ticket. He wants to run the bum out of town and the horse that he rode in on.

Head in Sand Department

It's time to pull our heads out.
The most comprehensive international assessment of Arctic climate change has concluded that Earth's upper latitudes are experiencing unprecedented increases in temperature, glacial melting and weather pattern changes, with most of those changes attributable to the human generation of greenhouse gases from automobiles, power plants and other sources.

The 144-page report is the work of a coalition of eight nations that have Arctic territories -- including the United States, which has hosted and financed the coalition's secretariat at the University of Alaska.

The findings, which reflect four years of study, confirm earlier evidence that the Arctic is warming far more quickly than the earth overall, with temperature increases in some northern regions exceeding by tenfold the average 1 degree Fahrenheit increase experienced on Earth in the past 100 years.
Or we could just send the report back for more study until we get the answer the administration wants like we did with all those intelligence reports on Iraq. Wouldn't want to reduce greenhouse gases on a whim or anything. Someone's profits might go down.

Bush (hswib) stem cell lines are dead ends

All the stem cell lines permitted by the Bush policy are contaminated dead ends.
But because Bush-approved research is limited to the older lines, federally-funded scientists cannot take advantage of newer stem cells grown on alternative scaffoldings.

This “significantly” limits the value of the federally-funded research, says Snyder. “It renders [the government-approved cells] incredibly suspect. All work should be done with fresh lines,” he says.
New stem cell lines could be developed from embryoes that are just headed for the dumpster otherwise. Ethical dilemma: toss it in the garbage or use it to improve medical research? That's a tough one all right.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Long View

I caught Douglas Brinkley in an interview on C-Span today talking about John Kerry. He came across as a truly legitimate historian whose primary interest was getting the facts right regardless of where the chips fall. And despite the criticisms and distortions that have been made about Tour of Duty, the record of Kerry's heroism and leadership in the face of combat remains a solid one. Furthermore that record is completely consistent with everything John has done since. In total it is a worthy record of a worthy man.

Florida 2000 Fallout

I think it is fair to say that as a consequence of the Florida 2000 results, voters this year are more determined than ever to overcome all obstacles to cast their ballots.
"People stood outside for an hour, in the blazing sun, then inside for another four hours as the line snaked around the library, slowly inching forward. It made Disneyland look like speed-walking. Some waited 6 hours. To cast one vote. And EVERYBODY felt that it was crucial, that their vote was important, and that they were important."
Granted that Florida voters may be more motivated that voters in other states, but 6 hours to cast a ballot? That is serious. If the rest of the country experiences just half of that kind of enthusiasm, not only will Kerry's White House bid be secure but big changes could be in order for Congress as well.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Springsteen on Kerry

The Boss had this to say,
"As a songwriter, I've written about America for thirty years. Tryin' to write about who we are, what we stand for, what we fight for…

"And he's shown starting as a young man, that by facing America's hard truths, both the good and the bad, that that's where we find a deeper patriotism. That's where we find a more complete view of who we are. That's where we find a more authentic experience as citizens. And that's where we find the power that is embedded only in truth, to make our world a better and safer place…

"That's why I'm here today, to stand alongside Senator Kerry and to tell you that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting. And together we can move America towards her deepest ideals…."

Yet another grudging endorsement

Via Brad DeLong. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post:
I do not write the headlines for my columns. Someone else does. But if I were to write the headline for this one, it would be 'Impeach George Bush.'... Not since the Spanish-American War has the United States gone off to war so casually, so half-cocked and so ineptly. The sinking of the Maine, the casus belli for that dustup, has been replaced by missing weapons of mass destruction, and the Hearst and Pulitzer presses are now talk radio and Fox News Channel. Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Still, though, we mourn the dead, look away from the wounded and maimed, and wonder what it was all about. We embarked, truly and regrettably, on a crusade.

Yet from Bush comes not a bleep of regret, not to mention apology. It is all 'steady as she goes' -- although we have lost our bearings and we no longer know our destination. (Don't tell me it's a democratic Middle East.) If the man were commanding a ship, he would be relieved of command. If he were the CEO of some big company, the board would offer him a golden parachute -- and force him to jump. But in government, it's the people who make those decisions. We get our chance on Tuesday.

Brad adds:
Yes, it is true. RICHARD COHEN IS SHRILL NOW!!! It took him a long time to get here--a long time to join the reality-based community. But welcome."

Kerry endorsement from across the aisle

Via Daily Kos. GOP former Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire:
"As someone who worked with you daily for 12 years as a United States Senator, I am acutely conscious of the fact that we disagree on many important issues. Despite our differences, you have always been willing to engage in constructive debate in an effort to forge sound public policy.

I deeply respect your commitment to our nation and your patriotism which, I believe, was forged when you-like I-proudly wore the uniform of the United States Navy in Viet Nam...

Because of the courage and character you demonstrated in Vietnam, I believe you when you say that you'll do a better job than President Bush to win the peace in Iraq, as well as to win the war against terrorism.

President Bush has failed to restrain federal spending, sending our deficit spinning into the stratosphere. I well remember that you were one of a handful of Democrats who crossed the aisle to forge a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to balance the federal budget [...]

John, for each of these reasons I believe President Bush has failed our country and my party. Accordingly, I want you to know that when I go into the booth next Tuesday I am going to cast my vote for you. So will my wife, Mary Jo, and all three of my children: Jason, Bobby and Jenny.

Moreover, I will do all that I can to encourage my friends in New Hampshire and Florida to join me in supporting you."

More Chalabi Effect

Digby points out that one reason al-Qaqaa was ignored was another screwup caused by relying on Iraqi exiles. Big mistake. Big, big mistake.

Explosives in Perspective

In an interview with Aaron Brown, David Kay makes an alarming point that can be translated into the amount of explosives now available to the insurgents.:
"Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the US has in its entire inventory."
Think about it. Two-thirds of the entire US inventory. Doing a controlled detonation of that much explosive over a reasonable time could have local environmental consequences. And regardless of how much we may have destroyed since the invasion, the insurgency is sure to have enough for years to come.

The Bush (hswib) wire

After the election hoopla is all over it will be interesting to hear about what was really behind the Bush (hswib) bulge. One NASA photo analyst thinks he may have a clue.
For the past week, while at home, using his own computers, and off the clock at Caltech and NASA, Nelson has been analyzing images of the president's back during the debates. A professional physicist and photo analyst for more than 30 years, he speaks earnestly and thoughtfully about his subject. "I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate," he says. "This is not about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cruise ship assisted living

One study says that it makes sense to put Grandma on a long cruise.
Living on a cruise ship is a feasible and cost-effective option to assisted living facilities, and the services offered on a cruise ship parallel -- even surpass -- what is provided in senior care facilities, according to a study in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. ''Offering many amenities, such as three meals a day with escorts to meals, physicians on site and housekeeping/laundry services, cruise ship could be considered a floating assisted living facility,'' said Lee Lindquist, M.D., instructor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
FuturePundit weighs in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rude Kerry Creds

The Rude One lays out some Kerry credentials that show what a real hero is made of. [colorful language alert]
Kerry vs. Nixon
Kerry vs. Reagan
Kerry vs. Bush corp.
Won every time.

Bubble World

Dwight Meredith takes a look at why the right wing seems to be so disconnected from reality. He takes his answer from Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
It's hard to see that as anything but willful self-delusion. Deep in their hearts, many Bush supporters have to know that the pre-war case for invading Iraq has collapsed, leaving us with a looming disaster. But they don't dare to admit that fact, not to themselves, not to others and certainly not to a pollster on the telephone.

They know where that would lead. They know that once they let that little bit of reality penetrate their bubble, they would be forced to confront the even more daunting fact that they had been fooled and misled by the president, a man in whom they placed so much faith. That's particularly difficult for voters who see politics as an extension of the culture war, and Bush as their champion.

Admitting the truth about him seems like disloyalty.

And so, they do what they must.
For the sake of the future of the country this bubble, as well as whatever similar bubble is on the left, needs to be burst.

More Reaping

In his book Soros talks about how overreacting to terrorists tends to play into their hands. A commentary on the admittedly wildly partisan Democratic Underground does put it into words rather well.:
"I tell you what, George. No matter what Zarqawi might have been doing right now if you hadn't started the Iraq war, he wouldn't be doing it with 800,000 pounds of Saddam Hussein's dynamite.

This is what just drives you mad if you listen to it for too long. 'If we left Saddam in power, terrorists might have gotten weapons from Saddam Hussein and used them against us!' Cheney chortles, when asked for the millionth time to explain why in God's name we started this war. Might have? Well then, thank God that instead of living with the remote possibility we went out there and made it inevitable. By going to war the way he did, Bush ensured that Al Qaeda would inherit Saddam Hussein's arsenal. We're goddamn lucky he didn't have any weapons of mass destruction."

And Hitchens vs. Hitchens

Despite claims to the contrary, he must be undecided. Or maybe just serially-decided.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


The LO has a take on the al-Qaqaa flap. Regardless of the actual history of the explosives in question the actions of the IAEA seem to indicate that they wish to be rid of Bush as well.

Hitchens vs. the CIA

An angry VP and a cowed CIA director. Via Kevin Drum Hitchens argues that Saddam and Zarqawi had lots going on. But the CIA begs to differ. The VP isn't happy.
Cheney reacted with fury, screaming at the briefer that CIA was trying to get John Kerry elected by contradicting the president's stance that Saddam had supported terrorism and therefore needed to be overthrown. The hapless briefer was shaken by the vice president's outburst, and the incident was reported back to Goss, who indicated that he was reluctant to confront the vice president's staff regarding it.
Perhaps the Company, after being poorly used by the White House, is giving its endorsement to regime change.

Kerry Creds

Was watching a C-Span presentation on the congressional record of John Kerry. Cocaine-Contra, BCCI, the Clarence Thomas nomination, all good stuff. In all of them he showed the grit of pursuing the truth despite adversity and opposition. And in the end his dedication to sticking to the investigations when others would have folded exposed the evil-doers. The interesting thing is that the a slice of the evil was in the hands of Republicans in each case. Reagan and Bush the father in one case, Bush and other high-rolling oilmen in the next, and Clarence in the third.

John has a record of accomplishments. Bush's (hswib) record is a string of failures including the failure of this presidency.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Another Kerry credential

(free day pass required) Independent but cagey.
"Behind it all was Kerry, who combined a prosecutor's sense for sniffing out criminality and a politician's instinct for pushing the limits. The Kerry whom I met during this period was a complex man who balanced a rebellious idealism with a determination not to burn his bridges to the political establishment.

The Reagan administration did everything it could to thwart Kerry's investigation, including attempting to discredit witnesses, stonewalling the Senate when it requested evidence and assigning the CIA to monitor Kerry's probe. But it couldn't stop Kerry and his investigators from discovering the explosive truth: that the Contra war was permeated with drug traffickers who gave the Contras money, weapons and equipment in exchange for help in smuggling cocaine into the United States. Even more damningly, Kerry found that U.S. government agencies knew about the Contra-drug connection, but turned a blind eye to the evidence in order to avoid undermining a top Reagan-Bush foreign policy initiative."
Kerry has proven that he can get to the truth in the face of adversity. The other guy seems to want to hide the truth in the face of adversity.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A new American export

Hooters opens first restaurant in China

How's John doing? Ashcroft that is.

He managed to get a raid executed on a FICTION WRITER. Do you feel safer now? Or not?
"It is the lack of common sense that has me so scared for this country --- this underreaction to real threats and the overreaction to non-threats. We can't seem to strike any balance anywhere and it's getting us further and further into trouble.

I am very curiuus as to who President Kerry will appoint as AG. It's going to be a hell of a job trying to straighten out the unholy mess that Ashcroft has made of the place."

Tri-City Herald Endores Kerry!

I, among other Kerry supporters, reminded the Herald of the criteria they invoked when they supported Bush last time. By that same criteria they find they must endorse Kerry this time.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I'm with Brad

Maybe it's time for John Snow to resign.

Statement of Principles

From the Project for a New American Century
American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.

We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital -- both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements -- built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation's ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead.

We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.

Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.
Agree or Disagree? and why?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Soon to be Feithless

Perhaps the next administration official to fall on his sword as a plausible scapegoat will be Douglas Feith.
"The broad outlines of the role played by Feith as a champion of the view that Iraq and Al Qaeda were closely linked have been disclosed previously. The view, a staple of the Bush administration's public statements before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, has since been discredited by the Sept. 11 commission, which concluded that Iraq and Al Qaeda had 'no close collaborative relationship.'

Bush administration officials have defended Feith's prewar efforts as reflecting a legitimate effort to develop an alternative analysis of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But the report by Levin includes new details showing that Feith's accounts to the White House and Congress through early 2004 deviated from the intelligence agencies' assessments to a degree that the Pentagon official did not acknowledge."
Or not.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Read His Lips -- and Smirk

An expert on non-verbal communication analyzes the non-verbal presidential campaignk.
"Over the course of the debates, the President's body language was inappropriate when faced with harsh criticism from Kerry or tough questions from moderators or town-hall meeting participants.

'He'd show fear on his face,' says Hill. 'His eyebrows go up and he gets 'bug eyes' -- his eyes go wide for a moment.' When challenged, the Pres sometimes lapsed into an upside-down smile, which, Hill says, reflects 'a combination of anger, disgust, and sadness.'"
In all fairness, Kerry came in for some criticism as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Somewhere out there...

there's a better idea. "Canada recovered from the same recession with higher job growth and its surplus intact by using more modest tax cuts targeted at the middle-class."


Just in case anyone gives a rip, Bush was terminated from the Air National Guard with (some sort of) prejudice.

The Reserve Mutiny

Phillip Carter takes a look at how today's reservists are similar to draftees of yore.
But the unfortunate truth is that today's Guard and reserve units are being thrown into the fight in ways similar to conscript-based units of past generations. Reservists today get mobilized, trained on the most basic tasks of war, and then shipped to Iraq in a matter of weeks. Today, just as in World War II and Korea, we are throwing unprepared units into battle with the hope that they survive and gel as a team in the ultimate Darwinian environment. The reservists in Iraq lack the training, equipment, leadership, and resources to do their job. And their morale proves it; surveys conducted under the Army's auspices last year showed a marked difference between the attitudes of active-duty soldiers and Marines, and of reservists like those in the 343rd.

There remain a number of salient differences between today's soldiers and the draftees of the World War II and Vietnam generations. Unlike conscripts, today's reservists are volunteers, and they have gone through the rigors of boot camp. But from an operational perspective, some of those differences have been slowly ground away by the exigencies of the mission in Iraq. Consequently, reservists today are acting in ways that look startlingly like conscripts of yesterday. The reservists in the 343rd made a conscious choice between the risk of court-martial and the risk of a combat mission, based on their gut feelings about their equipment, training, leadership, and likelihood of survival. Professional soldiers face such risks every day, and yet they persevere because they have faith in their units, leaders, training, and equipment. The reservists of the 343rd Quartermaster Company appear to have run out of faith, perhaps because the Army—which treated them as disposable—never gave them enough reason to have it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Major Address today

Gore speaks:
"Gore touched on many topics, but saved his sharpest critique for Bush's Iraq policies. He said evidence from the 9/11 commission and other reports shows the invasion of Iraq was Bush's first choice rather than his last.

Worst of all, Gore said, was that Bush and his Cabinet purposely created the false impression that Saddam Hussein was linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network and that the Iraqi leader was somehow to blame for the September 11, 2001, attacks -- a notion that 70 percent of the public once believed, according to polls.

'This was not an unfortunate misreading of the available evidence, causing a mistaken linkage between Iraq and al-Qaida,' Gore said. 'This was something else -- a willful choice to make a specific linkage whether evidence existed or not.'

The Republican National Committee dismissed Gore's criticism, saying, 'each time he speaks, Al Gore, like John Kerry, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to protect America's homeland and win the war on terror.'"
You be the judge.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Blackhorse Regiment deploys

The word is that the Army is stretch so thin, drastic measures are in order.
deploying the OPFOR is like eating your seed corn. This unit is responsible for training other units and raising their level of expertise and combat readiness. The 11th ACR is being replaced by a National Guard unit. That's like replacing the Dodgers with a high school baseball team. Sure, they can both play baseball and wear the uniform — but one is a whole lot more proficient and experienced at its job. The OPFOR has a reputation as a tough enemy, and that's a good thing because it forces units training at the NTC to become better themselves. By replacing this unit with National Guard troops, the Army has hurt its ability to produce good units for Iraq in the future. Suffice to say, National Guard and active units that go through Fort Irwin aren't going to get the same tough experience they would have with the Blackhorse regiment as OPFOR — and that means they'll be less ready for combat when they get to Iraq. This is a desperation measure, and I think the Army will come to regret it.

A Rational Fear?

Alright. I'll jump on board and link this one too. Matthew Yglesias voices the fear that keeps us energized and awake at night.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Freudian slip?

What Bush (hswib) actually said:
"Bush sought to counter suggestions that there will be a military draft if he's re-elected, but the president almost blew his line.

He said that, after a debate with Kerry, 'I made it very plain. We will not have an all-volunteer army.' The crowd fell silent. 'WE WILL have an all-volunteer army,' Bush said, quickly catching himself. 'Let me restate that. We will not have a draft.'"
But if Kerry had said that, there is no doubt the Bush (hswib) stump speech would be repeating ad nauseum the line: "Kerry said, 'We will not have an all-volunteer army.'" Remember, this kind of stuff is the only ammunition they have.

FCC Wars

Just in case there was any doubt that the FCC might actually have some independent integrity, Michael Powell makes sure we know that the commission has been owned by the administration. Powell pretends that the FCC has been asked to bar the Sinclair-sponsored propaganda. The truth is that he has been asked to investigate. Former FCC chair Reed Hundt lays out the issue:
But no one has asked the FCC to bar Sinclair from showing the program. There are only two issues for the FCC and only two requests to Chairman Powell.

The issues are: if Sinclair shows this anti-Kerry propaganda (which can be downloaded from Internet, lest anyone question the characterization), then (1) should it also give a free hour to pro-Kerry content selected by any authentic progressive organization, and (2) will Sinclair face at least the prospect after the fact of a review of its fulfillment of its public interest duties.

And the two requests are: (1) will the Chairman of the FCC remind Sinclair and other broadcasters by word and deed that they have public interest obligations, and (2) will the Chairman of the FCC investigate now, before the propaganda airs, whether Sinclair has a duty to give an hour to pro-Kerry content selected by any progressive organization?

Chairman Powell instead pretends that he has been asked to bar the showing of the propaganda -- which no one has asked him to do. His remarks are so far off the point, and he is so intelligent, that one must conclude that he knows what he is doing and intends the result -- tacit and plain encouragement of the use of the Sinclair airwaves to pursue a smear campaign. No broadcast group in the history of America has ever committed an hour to smearing a presidential candidate, and no FCC chairman before this one would have reacted with equanimity to this radical step down in broadcasting ethics.

By the way, this FCC Chairman had no trouble issuing volumes of commentary about the obligation of broadcasters not to air indecent material during hours when children are in the audience. As important as that obligation is to many people, no less important to our democracy is the ability to conduct an election without the bombardment from the airwaves of station-sponsored propaganda.

Friday, October 15, 2004


ABC News checked out what the uninterested witnesses had to say about the Swift Boat allegations and found that they have indeed been lies all along. Furthermore they found that they had been approached before back in March. The SBV liars had the evidence to the contrary and promulgated their lies anyway.

This does two things. Most importantly it should confirm in everyone's mind the kind of character that John Kerry has in the face of danger and death. Less importantly it shows the dearth of integrity in the opposition. If they can reduce their opponent by being silent in the face of lies they have no compunction about doing so. Because, truth be told, they have little else with which to oppose at all.

Update: It seems I have reached too far. Kevin Drum has the correct story that a reporter not associated with the SBV visited the village in March. Doesn't change my opinion of the SBV though.

Karl Rove in a Corner

One doesn't have to speculate much about the the kind of thing of which Karl Rove is capable. Josh Green points out some telling history.

Truth Standard

William Saletan lands on what I think is the most central issue of this campaign and this presidency.
When Bush replied last night that he refuses to pass this "truth standard," there's really no other way to interpret his position. He's saying that he doesn't have to show you any evidence, because evidence is the sort of thing a Frenchman would ask for.

I know I've been hard on the president lately. I'd like to say something nice about him. I'd like to be "fair and balanced." But my first responsibility as a reporter is to the truth. When one candidate tells half the truth, and the other says the truth doesn't matter, it becomes irresponsible for me or any other journalist not to report that by that standard—the standard of respecting the truth standard—one candidate is head and shoulders above the other.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Passion Differential

The Boot muses about why the post-debate online polls have turned out so dismal for Bush (hswib). He thinks it may be the passion differential, Bush (hswib) is more strongly hated than he is loved. But given the apparent passion that I see among Bush (hswib) supporters I find that hard to believe. Trippi may have it right in that there is an unpolled constituency out there who are strongly pro-Kerry and who will make their presence felt on election day. If that is the case I don't think either party will know how to act.

Bad Tax Cut! Bad Tax Cut!

Hie thee hence. The Big Picture opines that the cut in the dividend tax moves money away from job creation. The could be a Kerry opportunity to get a quick economic fix in place next year.
"The new dividend tax rule has created an incentive for corporations to transfer working capital outside of the firm, and into the hands of shareholders. That has reduced the pool of capital that otherwise would be used to build new plants, make more capital improvements, and yes, hire new workers.

Even worse, my calculations show that more than half of all dividend-paying stocks are held in nontaxable accounts -- pension funds, endowments, foreign investors, and retirement accounts. So these increased dividend payouts simply sit in these tax-advantaged accounts, in some cases, for decades, and there is no multiplier effect, because the money is neither spent nor reinvested in the broader economy. So instead of stimulating the economy, these monies lay fallow.'"

The shame of it all

When Kerry points out that homosexuality is not a choice and implies that Mary Cheney doesn't see it as choice, Mary's mother calls it a cheap and tawdry trick. Basically this says that even despite familial affection Cheney feels shameful about the truth of her daughter. I saw this same idea being voiced by the MSNBC pundits last night and it took me a while to get what they were complaining about. What we see here is that the uninformed bigotry in this country is deep and pervasive.

As Josh Marshall put it:
"If one of Cheney's children was, God forbid, paraplegic and Kerry referred to him or her in the context of a question about people with disabilities, would there be a problem?"

For me it's all the more reason to fight on for genuine equality on sexual-orientation. Just like the knee-jerk racism that surrounded me in my youth growing up in Texas, this bigotry is going to die hard. We will need to pass clear-cut laws and have clear-cut consequences for overt discrimination. Yes, we will have to force people to put bigotry on the shelf. And we should recognize that it will remain with us until this generation passes.

Oh and by the way, where was Lynne's outrage when Alan Keyes called her daughter a "selfish hedonist"?

Update: And Atrios further illuminates.

Debate Analyses

Grand Slam by William Saletan.
I wasn't surprised when the instant polls showed Kerry winning the debate handily. I bet Bush wasn't, either. All night long he looked like a pitcher who knew his stuff wasn't working and was stuck out there, alone on the mound in front of millions of people, with no idea what to do next. Now he's given up four runs and the lead. But he's still got the home field. And he's got half an inning—the bottom of the ninth—to turn things around.

Tom Curry does his best to rehabilitate the Bush (hswib) performance. But he has to do it with what Bush (hswib) should have said instead of what actually came out of his mouth.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Voter Registration Hijinks

All the news that's fit to print (and some that probably isn't) on the various Republican-connected voter registration frauds. (from Kos)

The October Surprise Preview

We have hidden prisoners in Jordan. Watch for an Al Qaeda biggie to be appear out of the cake. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Pro-life, Pro-Kerry

Amy Sullivan is Pro-life and Pro-Kerry. She explains why.
Because the real solution to reducing unnecessary abortions in this country doesn't lie in banning specific abortion procedures or sending doctors to jail. It also won't be helped by marshalling all of our political resources to fight parental notification laws that strike most American voters as sensible (Bush highlighted them for a reason in his answer to the same question). Instead, abortion rates drop when unwanted pregnancies decrease, whether through better sex education (that includes, but goes beyond, abstinence promotion) or insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Bush immediately mocked Kerry's nuanced answer—"I'm trying to decipher that"—and it has been roundly criticized in the press for sounding tortured. But the reality is that the feelings of most Americans regarding abortion are tortured. It's easy to stake out a post as a pro-choice or anti-abortion extremist; it's much harder to articulate a desire to respect unborn life and protect women. I suspect, however, that Kerry's answer—particularly the reference to the influence of his Catholic faith—plays better with swing voters than with political reporters precisely because it reflects a genuine attempt to grapple with a difficult issue.

More Taxes for the Rich

Daniel Gross explains the seeming paradox of the super-rich supporting the candidate who will raise their taxes. When you truly have enough money other things become more important than making more money. Go figure.
"The specter of plutocrats spending millions of their own hard-earned dollars to elect somebody who wants to raise their taxes is mystifying to the materialists at the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Club for Growth, who think that man is a purely economic being who lives and dies by marginal tax rates alone. But to many people who have made f***-you money, taxes are a byproduct of wealth, not an obstacle to its creation. It's hard to find anybody who has made $1 billion, or $100 million, or even $50 million complaining about high marginal tax rates. Of all the luxuries massive wealth affords, one of the nicest is not having to worry about tax policy."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Sinclair - Bush money trail

Talk about the usual suspects!
Sinclair and Enron

Digby's take

and Raw Story.

TAPPED finds VisionAir

Soldiers Once ... And Young

The horrors that are going to feed the next generation of war stories are beginning to bubble up to popular awareness. Those of us with some years under our belts have seen it before. War is ugly and cruel. Those undertake it lightly do so at great peril to innocent lives. And those who don't grasp this fact have no business pretending to be commander-in-chief.

Then there's this attributed to Seymour Hersh.

8 Lies to Look For

In the next debate. Courtesy of the indomitable Krugman. He finishes with this analysis:
"Mr. Kerry sometimes uses verbal shorthand that offers nitpickers things to complain about. He talks of 1.6 million lost jobs; that's the private-sector loss, partly offset by increased government employment. But the job record is indeed awful. He talks of the $200 billion cost of the Iraq war; actual spending is only $120 billion so far. But nobody doubts that the war will cost at least another $80 billion. The point is that Mr. Kerry can, at most, be accused of using loose language; the thrust of his statements is correct.

Mr. Bush's statements, on the other hand, are fundamentally dishonest. He is insisting that black is white, and that failure is success. Journalists who play it safe by spending equal time exposing his lies and parsing Mr. Kerry's choice of words are betraying their readers."

Another un-endorsement

Someone found 650 foreign affairs specialists who don't like the Bush (hswib) foreign policy.

Economists against Bush

The dismal science polls a dismal opinion.

A Bush (hswib) war at home

Folks in the CIA are working for regime change
Bill Harlow, the former CIA spokesman who left with the former director George Tenet in July, acknowledged that there had been leaks from within the agency. "The intelligence community has been made the scapegoat for all the failings over Iraq," he said. "It deserves some of the blame, but not all of it. People are chafing at that, and that's the background to these leaks."
And former counter-terrorism head, Vince Cannistraro:
"These have been an extraordinary four years for the CIA and the political pressure to come up with the right results has been enormous, particularly from Vice-President Cheney.

"I'm afraid that the agency is guilty of bending over backwards to please the administration. George Tenet was desperate to give them what they wanted and that was a complete disaster."
and the Journal:
With the simmering rows breaking out in public, the Wall Street Journal declared in an editorial that the administration was now fighting two insurgencies: one in Iraq and one at the CIA.

Employment Situation: Much worse than it looks . . .

We need to be pointing this out. The standard unemployment statistic does not include those who have given up looking. Unfortunately the guesses on how many that is are just that, guesses.

Forced conservation

This article about plutonium contamination in North Sea shellfish makes me wonder if a possible tactic to reduce fishing pressure might be to contaminate the species in question to a degree that hits regulatory limits but in fact does no harm to the species or the food chain. (Assuming such a level exists)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Military Suspends Firm Accused of Overbilling in Iraq

There seems to be plenty of reports about screwups in Iraq. Where are the reports about clear achievements that indicate some success? Where in Iraq is life approaching some sort of normalcy?

How Bush (hswib) Stays Green

For some folks "politics" is seen as license to twist and spin and cherry-pick items to make whatever point you want to make. Here we have Bush (hswib) trying to make a general point that air quality has improved on his watch. It could be argued that the statistics he quotes are in-spite-of rather than because-of his policies. But it's an incomplete story. Greenhouse gases have continued to go up and some think that they should be included in air quality statistics.

Be that as it may, it causes me to ponder what the distortion index on issues in general can tell us. All candidates do this to some degree. The gentlest method is to conveniently omit what contraindications are present for one's desired point. At the other extreme there is gross lifting of statements or actions out of context in order to mislead the public about an opponent. The only reason I can think of to resort to this tactic is because one has no competent case against the opponent undistorted position.

I think it would be helpful for the voters if the media were to attempt to assess which candidates are doing the most egregious quantity and quality of distortion. Regardless of the issue involved it would give voters an evaluation of how strong each candidate felt about their own position. Any candidate that shows a consistent pattern of using distortion to get applause lines can be assumed to know that his own position has little true merit. I'll be returning this idea with some frequency I think.

Update: Kevin Drum has the same idea only he takes it to the point of a cool numeric score. Check it out.

Boggles the mind

That this guy can be doing so well in the polls. I truly hope that it isn't a measure of the intellectual quality of the American electorate. His positions simple don't make sense.
"The defensible position for Bush would have been to argue that we had no way of knowing whether sanctions were working before we invaded. But instead he's resorted to this preposterous idea that because Saddam was trying to evade the sanctions, somehow that was evidence that the sanctions weren't working. Somehow the fact that Saddam has no weapons and no stockpiles was evidence that sanctions weren't working."

?? Prosecution rests. Sanctions were working. Iraq war completely unnecessary. How will we apologize to the "last man to die for a mistake?"

For Marines, Iraq a frustrating fight

Many soldiers aren't happy with their mission in Iraq. For some its a diversion from the legitimate fight with Al Qaeda. For some it's a frustration of wanting to help Iraqis and being seen as unwelcome invaders. For some it's the disconnect between what is being reported in Iraq and what they see with their own eyes.
"Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: 'We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?'"

Integral Fast Reactors: Source of Safe, Abundant, Non-Polluting Power

Would you buy a nuclear reactor that only needed to have fuel shipped in once in its 70-year lifetime? That produces a low volume of plutonium-free wastes that decay in 500 years instead of 10,000 years? That was highly-proliferation resistant? That could turn our existing inventory of spent fuel into power? This could be a sure-fire road to genuine energy independence.

Hydrogen Power for All Cars In America

It started out as a link to a report that analyzed how many nuclear reactors it would take to generate enough hydrogen to power the cars in the US. Turns out the conservative high-end estimate is about 1000. There are a number of real factors that could work to bring this number down maybe to as few as 250. Of course, that many nuclear reactors are politically unpalatable regardless of any sort of technical or economic feasability. However, in the comments to the article some fine folks pointed to the existence of a type of reactor design that consumes practically all the fissile material that goes into it. Today's commercial reactors typically consume maybe 5% of the fissile material with the rest left as rather nasty waste. More on the design in the next post.

Researchers use light to detect minute traces of explosives

TNT and other explosives fluoresce at unique point in the electromagnetic spectrum when illuminated by a laser. We are not far from being able to remotely detect minute traces of explosives. Not only handy in the home security trade but could even be useful for such things as land mine detection.

Recognize this?

((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))

You should. It's the mathematical representation of Murphy's Law. In the calculation, five factors have to be assessed: urgency (U), complexity (C), importance (I), skill (S) and frequency (F), and each given a score between one and nine. A sixth, aggravation (A), was set at 0.7 by the experts after their poll.
"The lesson from this is that, to cut the seemingly unbeatable Murphy's Law gremlins down to size, you need to change one of the elements in the equation.

"So, if you haven't got the skill to do something important, leave it alone. If something is urgent or complex, find a simple way to do it. If something going wrong will particularly aggravate you, make certain you know how to do it."

But he added a note of caution: "There is, of course, a Sod's Law factor to the equation. If you judge your ratings wrongly, you might become too optimistic - and calamity will strike."

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Rove Factor

Just a reminder fellow Kerry-heads. Count on Karl Rove to be cooking up an October surprise. He is capable of truly monstrous stuff and we should be ready to jump on anything that smacks of a last-minute Rovian smear.

Friday, October 08, 2004

More Talking Points

Matt Miller (no relation) has such an excellent set of lines for Kerry that I simply must post them in their entirety. A key distinction made is between a war of our choosing and one thrust upon us. While the Bush (hswib) administration vainly tries to characterize Iraq as the latter the truth is that it's the former. And with that truth all the excuses evaporate from before our eyes. Here's the stuff:
"There are terrible ways to do a good thing," Kerry should begin, regarding Saddam.

"At every step on Iraq, George Bush has made choices that have made us less secure and more isolated. And the truth is that there can be no possible excuse for these mistakes and misjudgments - because Iraq was a war fought at a time of our own choosing.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, our judgment of George Bush's performance might be different. There might have been no time to court our allies and to build the kind of genuine coalition that George H.W. Bush assembled for the first Gulf War - a coalition that bore 90 percent of the cost of that conflict.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there is no excuse for these diplomatic failures. Why didn't George Bush fly to Paris or Berlin, and make major speeches in those capitals, knowing how dramatically world opinion stood against us? Then at least we could have said we respected our longtime allies enough to try to persuade them of our course. Now instead we stand diminished and isolated, viewed with reason as arrogant, trigger-happy and untrustworthy.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no time to worry about plans to stabilize the country in its aftermath.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there can be no possible excuse for failing to make adequate plans. We know Colin Powell told the president what was always obvious about Iraq: 'You break it, you own it.' Yet George Bush ignored his military advisors when they told him more troops were needed. He ignored his own government's plans for bringing order to the inevitable postwar chaos. Indeed, no one can point to a single meeting or memo in which this president thought seriously about how to manage the occupation of this country. Every day coffins come home that bear witness to this failure.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no way to consider how, at the same time, we could make sure rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea did not acquire nuclear weapons.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there can be no excuse for failing to balance the risks of nuclear proliferation in these dictatorships with the chance that a prolonged insurgency in Iraq would place everything else beyond this White House's capacity to cope. Yet now we know North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear stockpile, and Iran is at the brink.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no time to make sure that America's homeland was as secure as it needs to be.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, how can anyone excuse that fact that more than three years after 9/11, only one in 50 of the cargo ships that come into our ports are inspected ... that frontline firefighters and public health officials have been cheated of the federal money they were promised ... the list goes on.

"Add it up, and the price of George Bush's mismanagement in Iraq is too frighteningly high to risk for another four years.

"There is the cost to America's credibility - for who will believe us next time we say a rogue state has dangerous weapons and the world must act?

"There is the cost in treasure: $200 billion and mounting ... more than 30 times the cost of the first Gulf War. And these were knowable costs that a top Bush advisor was fired for uttering publicly before we invaded ... costs about which this president deceived us in order to pass big tax cuts for the wealthy at a time of war.

"There is the cost of other dangers that have been allowed to fester - in Iran and North Korea, in Russia, and in Afghanistan, which we have once more abandoned to the warlords in order to focus on Iraq.

"There is the cost of not securing our ports and streets and power plants from attack. And there is the cost of taking our focus away from al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden - the author of 9/11 - whose terror movement continues to spread like a cancer while we stumble without leadership respected enough to bring the world to our side to finish the job in Iraq.

"I do not believe George Bush had bad intentions when he chose to conduct this war in this fashion. But good intentions are the excuses children offer - they do not suffice for a president.

"So yes, there are terrible ways to do a good thing. And because George Bush has mismanaged, misjudged and misled on Iraq, we are less safe.

"These few years after 9/11 would have been challenging times for any leader, so we ought not judge George Bush harshly for his efforts beyond rendering this one judgment: It is time for him to go. I will be the first American ready to give President Bush the gold watch for good intentions, and to thank him, in the end, for deposing Saddam. But it is time now to let serious people come in and clean up the global mess this president has created through historic failures of judgment, neglect and mismanagement.

"I say to George Bush: You have squandered America's credibility, America's authority and America's reputation. We are less secure as a result. You cannot possibly recoup these losses. I will."
Hear, Hear!

Good to be in DC!

It's JibJab time!

Factchecking the Bush (hswib) tax cuts

That progressive rag, Reason , runs some numbers that quantizes the impact of the Bush (hswib) tax cut for the biggest slice of taxpayers. If you are making $50,000 a year it helps. Of course the more you make the more it helps.

Some new links on the sidebar

For truth about our veep we have Halliburton Watch.

A newby blog I put together for issues in my congressional district, WA 4th CD Blog.

And a simply outrageous blog that channels the ghost of Dennis Miller past,The Rude Pundit.

Matt Yglesias, who makes incomparable contributions at The American Prospect, has his own personal blog, Matthew Yglesias.

File this one away

The special insight of a sanitation worker:"I know, too, that sanitation workers will learn to read a neighborhood more closely than the most sophisticated sociologist just by observing what it discards, but no one will care about their insights. " This seems like something street cops and even Homeland Security should track. It seems that some good studies could come up with garbage characteristics that might flag impending trouble. And no problematic wiretap regulations to worry about.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Closed, For Business

The Boston Globe has a series of articles about the unprecedented influence lobbyists now have with the Republican Congress.

The Morning After

Already Al Giordano is thinking of where we will be after the Kerry victory:
"A Kerry victory must not become another national sleeping pill, but, rather, a turning up of the volume on the American alarm clock so that it rings daily at the hours set from every home, farm, workplace, school and neighborhood: may the horns of revelry blow, and may we wake each day into battle to reclaim our country and, with our fellow and sister humans abroad, our world.

Kerry, presuming he will take his oath of office on January 20, 2005, will be - from my perspective as one who knows him - an essentially good man in an essentially bad situation. Not even from the official apex of the Empire can he, alone, change the course of history or pull back from wars. The task will not be only his, but also ours, not merely to push him according to traditional political tactics (lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, forming organizations, and the rest of those ineffective choices offered by Power's menu), but also to create, from below, the societal conditions under which he can - indeed, must - act against entrenched and mega-powerful interests, which, for Lieutenant Kerry, can only mean mobilizing the multitudes to awaken and fight."

The Buck stops

Remember this as a clear statement of administration priorities.
“The president told me that de-Baathification comes before the immediate needs of the Iraqi people.” --Paul Bremer
Now there's someone who really knows what they're doing.

Great Unraveling indeed

Krugman has as excellent book with that title. Its focus, naturally enough, is on the Bush (hswib) economic policies. But the unraveling is beginning to apply to the Iraqi invasion rationale. As Mark Kleiman notes:
The practically relevant question is whether Bush, Cheney, and their handlers can induce the mass media, and through them the public, to enter into a looking-glass world in which arguments are proven by facts that refute their premises. If so, they may achieve re-election.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the mass media is beginning to become aware of how it has been abused at the hands of this administration. And that's a good thing. But will it do so soon enough? If it doesn't, the next 4 years are difficult to contemplate.

Equal Time

What does it mean when the White House intentionally misleads the media by telling it that there is going to be a major policy speech when instead it is nothing more than a standard stump speech? The media was tricked into carrying it in its entirety. You have to wonder what sort of imbedded dishonesty would lead them to do that.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Business school professors against Bush (hswib)

MaxSpeak has an open letter from various heavy-hitting business professors that takes Bush (hswib) to task over his fiscal policies.

That pesky $200 billion number and other factchecks

Kerry used it and Edwards used it. Here's where it comes from:
Edwards, for his part, asserted that the war in Iraq has cost $200 billion "and counting," an assertion that Cheney called him on. Cheney said the government has "allocated" $120 billion. As of Sept. 30, the government has spent about $120 billion, and it has allocated — or plans to spend — $174 billion. The tab should run as high as $200 billion in the next year once other expected supplemental spending is added.
So instead of the 200 number, the Kerry campaign should be using a 120-spent and 174-allocated double number. Or in other words 120 spent so far with a total of 294 planned for. The 200 number falls inside that so it is legitimate but in going to a single quotable number it allows the Bush (hswib) campaign a means to refute it.

Cheney's contention on tax-cut-affected small businesses is bogus.
Cheney said Kerry's tax-cut rollback would hit 900,000 small businesses. This is misleading. Under Cheney's definition, a small business is any taxpayer who includes some income from a small business investment, partnership, limited liability corporation or trust. By that definition, every partner at a huge accounting firm or at the largest law firm would represent small businesses. According to IRS data, a tiny fraction of small business "S-corporations" earn enough profits to be in the top two tax brackets. Most are in the bottom two brackets.
They both have done some stretching of the facts to "sex them up". I really wish the Kerry-Edwards campaign would hold the line on veracity a little better. When you dabble in that mud wallow it tends to dampen your powder when you are taking shots at the other party's mendacity. That is their major weakness and we can't let them get a pass on it. The credibility gap cuts both ways.

But big kudos to the press for getting the factchecking out there. We need more of it if we want to get the truth from our officials whatever party they are from.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Debate Blogging

In the comments

Lead levels misrepresented in U.S. cities

This had to come out eventually. When the Bush (hswib) administration allowed EPA enforcement to slack off, lead levels in municipal water went above the guidelines. To keep the public from learning about this you allow testing and reporting to also lapse. Now that's what I call a job well done. These guys really deserve 4 more years in office. NOT.

Of Lice And Men

Theories of ancient human migration and interaction can be confirmed by studying of all things the genetics of the head louse.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Global Test

The Saletan version.
The test isn't moral. It's factual. What you and the Frenchman share is the evidence of your senses. The global test is the measurement of the president's assertions against the real world, the world you and I can see.

Defendant DeLay

Finally there seems to be some action on the Nick Smith/Tom DeLay bribery question. DeLay says Smith pushed for the grease but DeLay's staff talked about the possibility before the DeLay/Smith meeting. It looks more like DeLay's idea than Smith's. Given the reluctance for the Ethics Committee to do much of anything except for the most egregious cases it will be interesting to see if the DeLay case rises to that level in their eyes.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Diagnosis by Debate

In the light of Bush's (hswib) poor performance, Brad DeLong has an interesting analysis of what future performances could mean.
"There appear to be four possible theories to explain Bush's deterioration--both long run (since 1994) and short run (since 2000):

1. George Lakoff's theory: it's deliberate--these daya George W. Bush wants to sound more like John Wayne.
2. Kate O'Beirne's theory: George W. Bush is out of practice, because nobody has dared contradict him to his face for four years.
3. The 'worried man' theory: George W. Bush knows he has messed up badly, and is scared, and it shows.
4. The 'organic brain damage' theory: something is going badly wrong inside George W. Bush's brain--perhaps the result of lots of substance abuse in his youth.

A quick bounce-back next debate would be evidence in favor of (1) or (2). A similar extremely poor performance would be evidence in favor of (3) or (4)."