Saturday, February 28, 2004

Legal Question

Looks like we need to give the British soldiers more credit.:

"Britain's Army chiefs refused to go to war in Iraq amid fears over its legality just days before the British and American bombing campaign was launched"

Friday, February 27, 2004

Wrong-headed ruling

The Treasury Department has it wrong when it ruled that scientific papers falll under trade embargo restrictions.

Adler says that the law specifically exempts 'information and informational materials' from trade embargoes. The association is considering several options, including court action and legislation, to overturn the ruling. "We think that this is wrong as a matter of law and a matter of principle," he says.

Large Diamonds Made From Gas

Time to dump the DeBeers stock. Gem-sized artificial diamonds can be made in the lab in about a day. And they can be made so that they are 50% harder than the real thing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Gay Rights Information Taken Off Site

Official climate of discrimination begins.:
"A newly arrived Republican appointee has pulled references to sexual orientation discrimination off an agency Internet site where government employees can learn about their rights in the workplace."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Shape of Things to Come

In a special election a Democrat takes a Republican House seat. But wait! It gets better. The Republican campaigned almost exclusively on her support of the Bush agenda. The serves as a referendum on Bush and it was a slam-dunk.

Friday, February 13, 2004

The facade cracks

Republican Senators are starting to distance themselves from Bush by joining Democrats in investigating what the White House did with Iraq intelligence. Finally!

What Really Happened to George W. Bush in 1972

Raul Groom:

"The reason Bush got retirement credit and pay for service in 1972 despite the fact that his superiors on the military bases to which he was assigned never saw him is because he was not training at an Air Force Base but spending time in a community center with underprivileged children, working off his coke arrrest."

And Joshua Micah Marshall runs the transcript of Scott McClleland doing his damndest to dodge this very question. Looks like the real story on the shrub is about to break. Big Time.

Right wing media conveyer belt

from ABC's The Note:
"But we do want to highlight one textbook case of how the right cleverly uses the modern media conveyer belt to produce sound and fury about Democrats who they want to take down.

The sequencing is pretty basic: they start by handing something to one or more right-leaning Web sites.

That begets talk radio, which begets cable TV (usually FNC first), which begets a Washington Times story, which leads to other newspaper stories, and then, finally -- pay dirt -- network television coverage."

Why we can't trust the Ashcroft (in)Justice Department

Michelle Goldberg:
"In the early 1970s, after the exposure of COINTELPRO, a program of widespread FBI surveillance and sabotage of political dissidents, reforms were put in place to prevent the government from spying on political groups when there was no suspicion of criminal activity. But once again, protesters throughout America are being watched, often by police who are supposed to be investigating terrorism. Civil disobedience, seen during peaceful times as the honorable legacy of heroes like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., is being treated as terrorism's cousin, and the government claims to be justified in infiltrating any meeting where it's even discussed. "

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Five Tools of Politics

While Boot's template for gauging candidate skills has merit, his assessment of Bush's measure against it has some problems.

He takes the Florida non-recount as evidence of Bush's fire-in-the-belly. But there's a big difference between fire-in-the-belly and a prostituted Supreme Court.

He takes the Tim Russert appearance as evidence of his self-discipline. Tim was a pansy and Bush just kept parroting the same tired evasions. I guess it shows discipline of some sort but not of a sort to be admired in any way.

The bunkum stops here

A new book on doing combat with post-modern irrationality.

"One of the questions his book raises is where the battle lines should be drawn against the enemies of reason. Wheen allows that the gravest danger to our civilisation comes from religious totalitarianism, but while it finds its extremes in al-Qaeda, he exposes it, too, in the hierarchy of Western governments, and in populations that show an evaporation of empirical certainty. In 1993, for examples, a Gallup poll revealed only 11 per cent of Americans believed in evolution, and that 47 per cent maintained that God created human beings within the last 10,000 years. Even more alarming, perhaps, are the 2 per cent (3.7 million people) who claim that they have at one time in their lives been abducted by aliens. As one commentator pointed out, this should, if nothing else, signal a crisis for air-traffic control."

One uncomfortable possible conclusion to Wheen's argument is the notion that logic alone cannot satisfy us and that, further, its presence appears to give rise to an urgent hunger for the irrational, whether it be playing the lottery or believing in little green men. Around the edges of this book, therefore, lurks the unspoken suspicion that a rational world would be a duller one: the conmen and the hucksters have all the best stories. Wheen counters this by allying all his considerable wit and logic to the Enlightened cause: he is, in this respect, bullshit's enema number one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Monday, February 09, 2004

Drumm Beat

The Bush stained-dress moment has arrived. He did not fulfill his military obligation and slip away from the Guard. But the damning thing is that he thought he could lie about it and get away with it. Such things makes you wonder how many other things may yet be out there.


Kerry has some money problems.

Bush's difficult relationship with reality

"The punch line is that Bush accomplished exactly what he set out to do in this interview: He showed you how his mind works. Republicans used to observe derisively that Clinton had a difficult relationship with the truth. Bush has a difficult relationship with the truth, too. It's just a different—and perhaps more grave—kind of difficulty."

Why The Dean Bubble Popped

Contrary to the point of this article which says:
"Dean's campaign collapsed under the weight of a faulty business model: He counted on the same 'first mover' advantage as did legions of dot-com companies, figuring that big early wins would wrap up the nomination and generate millions of dollars in new contributions."

The model has proven to be correct. Only the first-mover happened to be Kerry. Dean's activism made the old-guard uneasy and they ran for the safer ground as soon as any of the other alternatives looked viable. It could have been any of the three. As noted below Kerry happened to have a fortuitous connection in Iowa and that's all she wrote.


Why do they let her publish this crap? (Good Googlebomb target)

How Kerry did it

Basically by having better contacts in Iowa that created a strong alternative to Dean at a crucial moment. It was a classic tipping point event in that media reporting had softened Dean's support in the ranks of old-guard Democrats and they cascaded to Kerry. In an Oriental sense he received the "mandate of heaven".

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The real point of Bush's AWOL problem

Daily Kos:
"Bush got into the Texas Guard pilot program despite abysmal test scores, during a time that there was a draft on for an overseas war, and he was able to bail out early on that because he wanted to go to b-school. Today, Bush issues stop-loss orders that keep Guardsmen like Corporal Smith -- who unlike Bush, serve in an overseas war -- in the service indefinitely. And unlike George Walker Bush, son of a Representative/Ambassador/RNC chair and grandson of a Senator, the Smiths of today's Guard don't get to make it all stop just because they want to kill time at business school.

That is an issue which will resonate with Americans. Bush has never played by the rules forced on the rest of us, and his b-school/Guard dealings highlight the imbalance of the playing field.


Captain Kangaroo passed away this week. His death will be a great loss to many. Quite a few of us grew up with Captain Kangaroo. I knew nothing of his background, only that his show was both entertaining, educational, and as kids, we looked forward to it with great anticipation.

Captain Kangaroo turned 76 in 2002 (DOB: 6/27/27), which is odd, because he's never looked a day under 76. It reminded me of the following story. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Some people have been offended that Lee Marvin is buried in a grave alongside 3 and 4-star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT.) and service (USMC). Nothing else.

Here's a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the
heck does he rate burial with these guys?

Well, following is the amazing answer: In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the Armed Forces, often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine hero. He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award...the Medal of Honor.

If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he also credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery. While a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Johnny Carson said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima.....and that during the course of that action you
earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded."

"Yeah, yeah.....I got shot square in the butt and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys gettin' shot hauling you down. But Johnny, at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever
knew... We both got the Cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look
cheap in comparison. The dumb guy actually stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me laying on my belly on the litter and said, "Where'd they get you Lee?" Well Bob...if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse! Johnny, I'm not lying... Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew...Bob Keesham, you and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."

On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quite. Mr. Rogers is another one of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S.Navy Seal, combat proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He always wore a long sleeve
sweater on the show to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps. A master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, he was able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. He hid that away and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm.

America's real heroes don't flaunt what they did, they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedom's that we all enjoy.

Amazing what we do not know about people.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

More civil rights attacks by our right-wing courts

When people complain about courts attempting to change the law, point out how they are changing it to stifle dissent.

A new emerging constituency

It seems that there another interest group making a stir, Muslims. (registration required)

The canard of "energy independence."

Steve Chapman:
"The sensible approach: billions for environmental protection, but not one cent for energy independence."

Real Scope of Bush Spending

From Reason:

"The numbers tell the story. The average annual real increases in domestic discretionary spending were 2.0 percent under Jimmy Carter, minus 1.3 percent in the Reagan years, 4.0 percent with George H.W. Bush, 2.5 percent in the Clinton years, and 8.2 percent with George W. Bush"

Are sex offenders terrorists?

Isn't this just the thing to expect of an administration and a judiciary that are intent on destroying civil liberties for everyone they don't like.

Weapons of mass dissembling


"The truth is that much of the intelligence community did not fail, but presented correct assessments and warnings that were overridden and suppressed. On virtually every single important claim the Bush administration made in its case for war, there was serious dissension. Discordant views -- not from individual analysts but from several intelligence agencies as a whole -- were kept from the public as momentum was built for a congressional vote on the war resolution."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

What the Deficit really means

And you will probably not see this in the media. You should be asking why.

"Apply this rule of thumb to honest forecasts of what Bush administration policies will do, and find that by 2014 deficit-induced lower investment and slower economic growth will leave America's GDP some $300 billion a year lower than it would have been otherwise. A lot of the benefits from what would otherwise have been higher investment "

The train has left the tracks.

Scooter Libby in the crosshairs

Why do all these investigations lead to Cheney's office? Because that's where the stink is.

Get Your Bush Docs Here

Ron Suskind posts the evidence online.

"This fishing expedition's just getting started!"

Kennewick Man is still with us

My old buddy from down the street gets his day in court.

Titanium Dioxide again

It's been propose for self-cleaning windows. Now it can be used in pollution-killing paint.

Justice marches on

Mass. high court rules for gay marriage:

"The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples -- rather than civil unions -- would be constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation's first same-sex marriages would take place in the state beginning in mid-May.

The court issued the opinion in response to a request from the state Senate about whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state benefits of marriage -- but not the title -- would meet constitutional muster."

Trimming the Fat

Before we make any cuts in domestic programs, there's lots of savings to be had in some totally wasteful military programs.

Trusting Scalia

Dahlia Lithwick:

"Justice Scalia should step aside in Duckgate, regardless of what's in his heart, because it's a terrible mistake—especially in a landmark case about cronyism and special influence—to allow the appearance of cronyism and special influence to taint what must be a completely fair decision. But it should remain Scalia's decision whether to do so or not. If he cannot be trusted to make it, he cannot be trusted to decide anything."

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Researchers Discover That A Virus Can Naturally Target And Kill Tumors

This looks really interesting.

'Turbulator' Technology Reduces Drag, Improve Swimmers' Time

It was the lapstrake construction of the viking longship that gave it more hull speed than other ships of its day. Now the same principle is proving itself in competition swimwear. Who knows? We may see some new America's Cup hull designs based on these discoveries.

Bogus Budgeting

The WAPO does a spirited takedown of the document the White House ingenuously calls a budget.

THE BUSH administration's 2005 budget is a masterpiece of disingenuous blame-shifting, dishonest budgeting and irresponsible governing. The administration mildly terms the $521 billion deficit forecast this year "a legitimate subject of concern," but asserts that it has the problem well in hand: The deficit, it assures the country, will be cut in half by 2009. This isn't credible -- and even if it were, it wouldn't be an adequate answer to a problem far more serious than this administration acknowledges.

Save this link

for an excellent counter to those who say the courts are changing law. It's true that courts are changing the laws. But it's the ideological right that are fly-specking the laws into their own peculiar interpretation.

Tax games

and a look at what real tax reform would be.

"What should be done? Perhaps daunted by deep knowledge of how the cheats work, Johnston is cautious. He considers, and then rejects, shifting to a consumption tax like the flat tax. Sensibly, he leans toward a leaner, meaner income tax, with higher top rates, few deferrals, a broad definition of income and reform of the alternative minimum tax. Add a stiff estate and gift tax to recover from the largest fortunes at death, treat capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, then cut or offset the payroll tax and you would have the elements of a fairer system."


It was the mic. But don't expect to hear much about it from the lazipundits.

The real unemployment rate...

is higher than it looks. Better numbers make for stronger arguments.

Kerry caught in damage-control lie.

Mickey Kaus sniffs out an example of Kerry, the politician, talking from both sides of his mouth. It may be habit-forming.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Letter to the Editor

Is this any way to elect a President?

Sometimes our media gets lazy. In the heated competition to generate some sort of story by deadline we get stories about the election process that treat it like a sports competition instead of a job interview for the single most powerful position in the nation (or arguably on the planet). Style and stampede-mentality momentum make up the material of the stories instead of informing the electorate of the specific qualifications of the candidates. That is left for voters who care enough to dig out for themselves. This situation has not served us well.

In the race for the last Republican nomination it was the Bush style that prevailed over the substance of John McCain. If I were a Republican, it would greatly sadden me to compare what the state of our nation today against what it would have been if McCain had been President for the past 3 years. Would the federal government be wallowing in such fiscal irresponsibility? Would our servicemen and women be engaged is such ill-considered military adventurism? Would the reelect numbers for an incumbent President be drifting lower and lower? Somehow I doubt not.

With the help of the lazier elements in the media the Democrats are perhaps facing a similar set of choices between style and substance. Four years from now will it have been wisdom to be stampeded into a choice based on style? In that time rest assured the glow from easy promises couched in language that seeks to appease everybody will have worn off. The stylistic fog will have cleared under the wintry blast of events just as it has for the Bush administration.

The challenge for us Democrats is more than winning the next election. We need to test our candidates for their long-term integrity if we wish to avoid the kind of embarrassment the Bush administration has become for the Republicans. It is going to take a long time to undo the damage that has been done and we have to think about who has the transparent fortitude to carry the commitment through two terms of office.

For Washington Democrats it is now decision time. Unfortunately it isn't going to be an easy decision since many of the candidates have a real potential to succeed in the first mission, defeating Bush. But who can take it to the next level and be a commanding candidate after taking the heat for 4 years? Who will we still find to be worthy of our trust after 4 years? Please take the time to decide for yourself and resist the temptation to join a media-induced stampede. This is a quality I see in Howard Dean to a greater degree than the other candidates and he is my choice for the next 8 years.