Post No Bills
Welcome to the Me Show.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
 
  • Back from the holiday. Still busy for the next week or so, so blogs are likely to be sparse. I had a chance to watch some American TV news while I was down there. It was, well, unbelieveably stupid. The headlines: Some Guy Shot Some Other Guy, Thanksgiving Shoppers Attacking Each Other in Lineups, and Shark Bites Man. Oh, and of course, W's 'spontaneous' trip to Iraq. Speaking of which, we'll restart the blog with a satirical note:

    Purported Bush Tape Raises Fear of New Attacks.


    Hesiod has been talking a lot about Bush's visit - pointing out, for example, that it was almost certainly done in order to prevent him from being upstaged by Hilary's visit. Check it out. (Thanks to Modou for the above link.)
     

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2003
     
  • My word of the day is faineant, meaning "to idle" as a verb, or else "an idler or do-nothing" as a noun. So, it being American Thanksgiving, I'm heading south for a family get-together. Hence, I'm faineant this weekend and, in other words, the blog is on hiatus. So the homework assignment is: find the White House's too-bad-for-the-press act this weekend. On weekends like this, when Americans turn away from the News to focus on Mass Consumption or whatever, the Whitehouse always unveils (quietly) its worst policy changes, the things it should most feel ashamed of, or so the pattern has been in the past. If they stay true to form, there will be something unspeakable (and pretty much unspoken) in the works while we're all stuffing ourselves. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.
     

  • Tuesday, November 25, 2003
     
  • Eric Blumrich has announced that the draft is coming back, as we have suspected for a while, particularly given the recent moves to fill vacancies in the long-dormant draft boards. Now, two pieces of legislation, HR 163 and S89 are moving through the House and Senate respectively. The bills were in fact introduced back in January by Senator Hollings (D-SC) and Rep. Rangel (D-NY). It looks like both bills are currently in committee. The bills commit all citizens (men and women) to 2 years of military or civilian service if the President deems necessary. Eric Blumrich that the name used to refer to the bills, the "Universal National Service Act of 2003", suggests that there will be a vote on them this year. Though I dread the prospect and hate the fact that Bush et al.'s arrogance and selfishness may have made it necessary, the fact of the matter is, a draft may be the only way to solve the mess that is Iraq and, in fact, may (if honestly administered) be a much fairer way of choosing who should risk their lives. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this.
     

  •  
  • In Baghdad, people fire off their guns for weddings, funerals, sports victories and often for no reason at all, according to IWPR. "From July through September alone, 2,175 locals died from celebratory gunfire, according to Dr Faiq Amin Bakir, head of the local health authority's forensics department, which determines causes of death."
    Baghdadis say this trend is related to the war because there were few incidents of it under Saddam Hussein since private weapons were outlawed. But today, many households have guns and many men think nothing of shooting into their air.

    "We shoot on occasions of celebration to express our happiness," said a police officer, who did not want to be named, insisting that no one ever intends to hit anybody.

    After crushing the 1991 uprising, the former regime imposed a two-day curfew on Baghdad and went house-to-house to confiscate all unlicensed weapons. But in the run up to this latest conflict, they distributed guns to everyone to resist the coalition invasion.

    And in Tennesee? Pretty much the same:
    A bullet fired in the air during a Ku Klux Klan initiation ceremony came down and struck a participant in the head, critically injuring him, authorities said.
     

  •  
  • From the NYT:

    Military officials retracted a report today that two American soldiers had been slashed in their throats in an attack Sunday in the northern city of Mosul.

    A military official here, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the two soldiers had died of gunshot wounds to the head and that their bodies had been pulled by Iraqis from their car and robbed of their personal belongings.

    The military official said that contrary to some reports, the men had not been beaten by rocks or mutilated in any way.
     

  •  
  • Josh Marhsall, in his new column in The Hill, suggests a line for Democrats to use against Bush, one that can be conveniently dropped into a TV ad: "The president talks a good game on taking the fight to the terrorists. But after a good start in Afghanistan, he got bored with attacking al Qaeda and attacked Iraq instead."
     

  •  
  • There's a lot of blogage at the moment about this NYT article: Technological Dub Erases a Bush Flub for a Republican Ad. This is the world we're living in, folks.
     

  •  
  • Pandagon, oh pandagon... Sorry I missed this debate on CNN featuring Ann Coulter. Damn I wish I had TV sometimes. I also missed the democratic debate which, as Ezra pointed out featured this great line from Wesley Clark: "I am not attacking President Bush because he is attacking terrorists. I am attacking him because he is NOT attacking terrorists! He wants to attack states, not terrorists." Yuck - high-school conservative club rejects "liberal bias" in the classroom. And on the Medicare debacle, Jesse shows how the Canadian system is more free-market than the Republican's new prescription drug benefit plan.
     

  •  
  • Fascinating. The BBC director general has criticised American news networks for failing to provide balanced reporting on the war.

    Mr Dyke drew on research which found that of 840 experts interviewed on US news outlets during the war, only four were opposed to the conflict.

    “I have to tell you if that was true in Britain the BBC would have failed in its duty,” he said.

    “Telling people what they want to hear is not doing them any favours. It may not be comfortable to challenge governments or even popular opinion, but it’s what we are here to do.

    “We have a responsibility to broadcast a range of voices,” he said.

    He said there was an appetite for impartial news in the US, judging by the growth in demand there for BBC News.

    Here's the original speech these quotes are from. He talks a good bit about the role a publically funded broadcaster can play in a democracy and in a free market. And here's another speech he made in April on a similar subject.

    I'm not sure how many of you saw David Dimbleby's interview with Donald Rumsfeld shortly before the start of the war. It was a courteous yet tough interview but certainly no tougher than anything British politicians expect on Today or Newsnight.

    Donald Rumsfeld was not used to this kind of approach and his people told us afterwards they were shocked by the persistence of the interviewer. ... On American television today politicians don't face that sort of interrogation.

    For the health of our democracy, it's vital we don't follow the path of many American networks and lose the will to do this.
    This is really important stuff. (Link via Today in Iraq.)
     

  •  
  • We can alll breathe a little easier, for a little while. The Republican's evil energy bill is on hold at least until next year:
    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called it a "1,200-page monstrosity that is chock full of special interest giveaways" from subsidizing corn farmers by doubling the use of ethanol in gasoline to providing favorable financing to a shopping center that will contain a Hooters' restaurant.
     

  •  
  • Fake Meat News:
    Donkeys for Beef: "A gang of butchers and vets in Algeria has been charged with selling tons of donkey meat as beef during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when food prices rise sharply, state radio says." Boy for Dog: "Vietnamese drug addicts kidnapped a mute teenager, bundled him in a sack and sold him to a dog-meat eatery as a stray canine, state media said on Saturday."
     

  •  
  • The World's only albino gorilla, Snowflake, has died.
     

  • Monday, November 24, 2003
     
  • I'm sorry I missed this CBC report of reporters' untold stories from Iraq. I'm just starting to read through some of them, looks like some interesting stuff. Link is from Eschaton.
     

  •  
  • Ugly news via Pandagon: Iraqi teenagers dragged two bloodied U.S. soldiers from a wrecked vehicle and pummeled them with concrete blocks Sunday. (more...)
     

  • Sunday, November 23, 2003
     
  • On the heels of the Cost-co vs. Wal-Mart discussion of yesterday, Calpundit has an interesting post about Wal-Mart in which he makes these observations:
    Productivity gains have produced steadily more affordable products since the Industrial Revolution, but there have been other factors at work too. In the mid-20th century, thanks in part to vigorous unionization, American businesses steadily paid their workers more, thus creating a growing class of people who could afford the products they made. Wal-Mart, by contrast, pays their workers less, which allows them to cut prices and therefore makes their products affordable to more people.

    So which is the better and more sustainable model? Increasing the overall affordability of goods by creating a larger class of people who can afford them? Or increasing the overall affordability of goods by squeezing the blue collar workers who make them and thus lowering prices?

    Both models work, but one works by building up the working class and the other works by tearing it down. I'll take Door #1.
    (Original link via Counterspin)
     

  •  
  • Can you imagine the horror?
    When the recently deposed chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court said he'd be making an announcement about his future, there were some who wondered whether Roy Moore might already be thinking about the U.S. Senate or even the presidency. Instead, Moore announced he would be working for the passage of an amendment limiting the power of federal judges, and the Conservative Caucus launched a petition drive urging Bush to appoint Moore to the U.S. Supreme Court.
     

  •  
  • More from the Philosopraptor. I'd like to comment on this at some point, since, though eminently reasonable, it's more or less the opposite of my motivation for this blog. The emphasis is mine:
    I have a couple of friends who are pacifists, and I've learned something important from them despite the fact that I am convinced that pacifism in its extreme form is immoral. At any rate, according to my pacifist friends, pacifists believe roughly two things: (1) all violence is wrong and (2) one has an obligation to work to ramp down the ambient level of hostility in the world. Oddly, (1) gets all the attention, but (2) is the reasonable thesis. (1) is rather clearly false, since sometimes respect for persons and for human life requires the use of violence. If pacifism holds that it would be wrong to kill Mohammed Atta as he makes his way to the cockpit, then pacifism is false. But (2) is extremely reasonable, especially given the nature of human psychology. The trick is to work to avoid and diffuse hostility as soon as possible. The farther the conversation degenerates and the madder people get, the harder it is for them to return to reason. And, of course, once the fists (or the bullets) start flying, it's almost impossible to stop them until the people involved are dead or hurt, or until they wear themselves out. But even if we're just talking about words, the farther one progresses down that road, the harder it is to turn back.
     

  •  
  • Philosoraptor talking sense:
    One can reasonably hold that marriage is not the only route to human fulfillment without thinking that it is permissible to break solemn promises. In fact, it seems to me that the best way to increase our respect for marriage is to make it clear that it isn't for everyone, and that it should be entered into only after careful consideration. The best way to destroy the institution is to misrepresent it as the only morally permissible venue for love and sex. If you want to decrease the divorce rate, be honest with people about the nature of marriage, and be honest with them about the alternatives.
     

  •  
  • Read Letterman's Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About England. Add your entry to the Top Ten Things George W. Bush is Thankful For contest. Thank Skippy the Bush Kangaroo for the link.
     

  •  
  • A former Middle East specialist in the office of the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, headed by Douglas Feith says US Foreign Policy's been hijacked by the neocons:
    "What these people are doing now makes Iran-Contra [a Reagan administration national security scandal] look like amateur hour. . . it's worse than Iran-Contra, worse than what happened in Vietnam," said Karen Kwiatkowski, a former air force lieutenant-colonel.
    Update: Here's a bunch of articles by Kwiatkowski. She worked for four and a half years in the Pentagon.
     

  •  
  • Juan Cole has a good post on the ins-and-outs of the telecommunications business in Iraq. Here's the best bit:
    The Iraq telecom contracts have been handled in a very shady way from the beginning. Batelco, a great little Bahrain telecom company, put $5 mn. into Iraq in May and June and started offering mobile phone service on its own. After a few days, Paul Bremer closed it down, saying telecom companies would have to have licenses. Then it was announced that MCI Worldcom would get the contract. Worldcom is under indictment for fraud and by Federal rules shouldn't have been offered such a contract. Besides, it has no experience in wireless telecom.
     

  •  
  • A friend just sent me this:
    Son: Dad, I have to do a special report for school. Can I ask you a question?

    Father: Sure son, what's the question?

    Son: What is politics?

    Father: Well, lets take our home for example. I am the wage earner, so let's call me management. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we'll call her government. We take care of your needs, so let's call you the people. We'll call the Maid the working class and your baby brother we will call Future. Do you understand?

    Son: I'm not really sure, dad. I'll have to think about it.

    That night, awakened by his baby brother's crying, the boy went to see what was wrong. Discovering the baby had seriously soiled his Diaper; the boy went to his parent's room and found his mother sound asleep. He then went to the maid's room where, peeking through the keyhole, he saw his father in bed with the maid.

    The boy's knocking went totally unheard by his father and the maid, so the boy returned to his room and went back to bed.

    The next morning...

    Son: Dad, now I think I understand politics.

    Father: That's great son, explain it to me in your own words.

    Son: Well, dad, while management is screwing the working class the Government is sound asleep. The people are being completely ignored and
    the future is full of shit.
     

  • Saturday, November 22, 2003
     
  • The term homocide bomber has bugged me for a long time, but I had never bothered thinking about why. The other day, reading a Fox news story, I took a moment to reflect on the term and realized that anyone who uses a bomb to blow people up is a homicide bomber, using 'homocide bomber' to describe only people who blow themselves up in the process is stupid, redundant, and (at least as importantly) less informative than the real term, suicide bomber. Urban Dictionary explains that the term was "originally coined by Benjamin Netanyahu, to refer to a 'Suicide Bomber'. It has since been adopted by Fox News, because the Jesus worshipping loonies who watch their network love hearing Israeli propaganda." According to Stray Bulletins, Fox took their cue from George W. who started using the term in early April, 2002.
    Like dutiful robots, they immediately changed their own language to match Bush's. They too have decided to switch to the "homicide bomber" phrase. Fox News producer Dennis Murray tries to explain that the change is not due to it's rabid conservative slant, but because there was "growing unease about how accurate the [suicide bomber] term" was. Sure there was. If there's one thing that Fox News prizes above all else, it's accuracy. Well, accuracy and smug, condescending grins.
    Brian Fleming at Blogcritics notes that only a "stupid person would consider credible a news outlet that used the made-up, less-descriptive, purely political term 'homicide bomber' in a straight-news headline." And Juan Non-Volokh asks, "Would it make any sense to refer to a murderer as a 'homicide killer'? Should we have called the D.C. snipers the 'homicide snipers'?"
     

  •  
  • In local Montreal news, the transit folks are close to a deal and we've got limited bus service this weekend.
     

  •  
  • Blognews roundup: I've been preoccupied the last couple of days with work. Here are the stories that catch my eye. Via Eschaton, the Democrats succesfully delayed passage of Bush's Energy Bill in the Senate.
    Lawmakers from both parties condemned the proposal, developed mainly by pro-industry Republicans, for its $31 billion price tag, its subsidies for power companies, a plan to provide legal immunity to producers of a gasoline additive blamed for water pollution, and its failure to promote alternative energy savings plans like better fuel efficiency.
    Shorter Rush Limbaugh: "I'm rubber and you're glue - whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!"
    Democrats can't meet us in the arena of ideas, so they call names and make wild charges hoping something will stick. When these people talk about us, when they accuse us of bad behavior - guess what? They're telling us who they are. It's a beautiful thing, my friends. It's a new way of listening to liberals. When they start telling us what rotten SOBs we are, just remember: they're telling us who they are. They don't know who we are; they only think they do.
    (Via Uggabugga)

    Also via Uggabugga: President George W. Bush's administration is considering allowing low-level radioactive waste to be dumped at toxic waste sites and other facilities that currently aren't permitted to receive it. (more...)

    Hesiod is actually defending Bush because: "Evangelical Christian leaders expressed dismay yesterday over President Bush's statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same god, saying it had caused discomfort within his conservative religious base." (more...)

    Via Today in Iraq:
  • L. Paul Bremer fires 28,000 Iraqi teachers.

  • Bush’s War provides a boost to al-Qaeda.

  • Profiteers cash in at sold-out Pentagon contracts conference.
    'There is just so much money that we can tap into. It's just wonderful to have this opportunity,' one prospective bidder gushed to the Defense Department's director of procurement, Deidre Lee.
  • Kevin Drumm documents WorldNetDaily's plagiarism of a Newsweek article. He also points us to this article detailing the Bush fundraisers who stand to make billions from the Medicare and Energy bills.
    The energy bill provides billions of dollars in benefits to companies run by at least 22 executives and their spouses who have qualified as either "Pioneers" or "Rangers," as well as to the clients of at least 15 lobbyists and their spouses who have achieved similar status as fundraisers. At least 24 Rangers and Pioneers could benefit from the Medicare bill as executives of companies or lobbyists working for them, including eight who have clients affected by both bills.
     
    --posted by dalai @ 5:28 PM | |
    Friday, November 21, 2003
     
  • From a discussion at Calpundit about Canadian Maher Arar's deportation to and torture in Syria, this interesting, though highly debatable, analysis:
    George W. Bush has simply been too cheap to fight the war on terror the right way. We haven't spent the money to secure our ports, we haven't spent the money to actually rebuild Afghanistan, we haven't been willing to help the Palestinians build actual lives, we haven't been willing to actually try to curtail the money flowing from the Saudis to terrorists, we haven't been willing to compromise enough to get the rest of the world to stay on board with the war on Al Qaeda.

    The ONLY reason that there hasn't been a terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11 is John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is smart enough to know that Bush refused to do things the right way, so he simply only has one other option to protect American lives; shred the constitution. Round up immigrants spy on and interview Muslims at random, hold people without trial, and all the rest.

    John Ashcroft is not in a position to win the war on terror without shredding the constitution. The Bush Administration has put tax cuts, the war in Iraq, and helping out Israel and the Saudis ahead of those priorities. The only way that the Administration has left Ashcroft to do his job is to shred the constitution. Does that make it right? Of course not. But, no matter how bad Ashcroft may be (covering up the goddess of justice, yeesh), I still cannot pin the destruction of the constitution on him. I still put it on the man/overlord at the top. Ashcroft may be bad, but the real problem is the man at the top.

    And here's a link to the author's blog.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 5:56 AM | |
     
  • Before you read any more editorials, take a glance at Lying in Ponds.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 5:26 AM | |
     
  • Via Atrios and Counterspin, here's Richard Perle saying the war in Iraq is illegal:
    In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

    President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

    But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.
    ...
    Mr Perle's view is not the official one put forward by the White House. Its main argument has been that the invasion was justified under the UN charter, which guarantees the right of each state to self-defence, including pre-emptive self-defence. On the night bombing began, in March, Mr Bush reiterated America's "sovereign authority to use force" to defeat the threat from Baghdad.

    The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has questioned that justification, arguing that the security council would have to rule on whether the US and its allies were under imminent threat.

     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:21 AM | |
    Thursday, November 20, 2003
     
  • I have to believe that blowing stuff up in Turkey is not going to find much popular support there.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:40 PM | |
     
  • From Reuters: Man Dies After Winning Vodka-Drinking Contest
    MOSCOW (Reuters) - A vodka-drinking competition in a southern Russian town ended in tragedy with the winner dead and several runners-up in intensive care.

    'The competition lasted 30, perhaps 40 minutes and the winner downed three half-liter bottles. He was taken home by taxi but died within 20 minutes,' said Roman Popov, a prosecutor pursuing the case in the town of Volgodonsk.
    'Five contestants ended up in intensive care. Those not in hospital turned up the next day, ostensibly for another drink.'
    Popov said the director of the shop organizing this month's contest had been charged with manslaughter. He had offered 10 liters of vodka to the competitor drinking the most in the shortest time.
    Russians drink the equivalent of 15 liters of pure alcohol per head annually, one of the highest rates in the world. Some experts estimate one in seven Russians is an alcoholic.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:20 PM | |
     
  • Ohmigawd, I can't believe, I like totally missed World Toilet Day. (Via Me, Myself, and I.)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:57 AM | |
     
  • Al Franken might do a radio show on the liberal radio network, which expects to be broadcasting early next year. Does anyone else find it a little bizarre that radio is now the medium of choice for influencing public opinion? The effort is now being funded by a group headed by "a former adviser to the Democratic National Committee". Now, I obviously like the fact that liberals are going to try to counterbalance the pervasive and evil right-wing radio, but I'm afraid the network will be all too easy for the Republican-controlled media to dismiss as 'Democrat propaganda'. Long gone are the days of objective reporting, it would seem.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:49 AM | |
     
  • Hey! Check out this really stupid poll. No, I mean, really stupid.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:30 AM | |
    Wednesday, November 19, 2003
     
  • Also from A Rational Animal, a good job stringing together these three stories about the CIA's need for translators. The gist: The CIA's putting together a National Virtual Translation Center, a network of multilingual people to work as translators, to begin operations December 1. In a reversal of normal procedures, the material to be translated will be sent to the translators, and the translators will not have any special security clearance. They're looking for academics, university students, whoever:
    At least 300 non-government employees are expected soon to be working as center contractors, with most coming from universities, companies and private laboratories. [CIA Linguist Everette] Jordan is scouring the country for experts in fields including economics, politics, immunology and metallurgy who also know languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Bahasa Indonesian and Korean.

    Most of them will get a cursory background check and will not receive full security clearances. Those working at this level will not be given secret materials to translate, but they will do more humdrum work, such as translating transcripts of a Chinese biotechnology conference or texts on Iran's oil industry.

    The translators won't be informed of the context of the government's interest in the documents.

    The idea is to fill in the U.S. government's knowledge of societal trends in those countries, in the same way that the CIA spent years scrutinizing the Soviet bloc's politics and economics during the Cold War.
    Meanwhile:
    Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.

    Good one.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 7:35 PM | |
     
  • The oh-so-controversial Regans mini-series script (a pdf file) via A Rational Animal.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 7:22 PM | |
     
  • 500th coalition death since Bush's War began:
    Kyiv, November 18 (Interfax-Ukraine) - On Tuesday Captain Olexiy Bondarenko, translator from the Arabic language in the peacekeeping contingent of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Iraq, committed a suicide having shot himself in the head.
    Captain Bondarenko was drafted into the Ukrainian Armed Forces in August. Back in June, when the Ukrainian parliament voted to send troops to Iraq, the US Embassy in Kyiv said, "This is a significant step to support international efforts to secure Iraq's freedom and provide its people with an opportunity to determine their future themselves." Guess they helped this Ukrainian determine his future himself.

    (Link from Lunaville - check out Lunaville's Iraq Coalition Casualty Count)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 6:55 PM | |
     
  • Bloggers of the left unite: Marine's Girl fights back, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo documents it, Robert Ferriol discusses his encounter with the Bushlicking toads. Best Bushlicking toad quote of the day:
    Also, this is in response to K.B. Stone from Dallas, Texas, who thinks I am a snitch. In fact I was exercising my rights that I went to war on two occasions to protect for both he and I. Unfortunately radical liberals use every opportunity to bad mouth President Bush, the military and anyone else who gets in their way. Just go to Mr.Ferriol’s web site, DonFerrioli.com, and see for yourself. As for Hitler’s Third Reich, I spent five years in Germany. Most Germans are outstanding people, (but) they were taken in by Hitler with lies, distortions, hate and discontent. The same hate that radical liberals like you use toward out present government, the president and anyone who supports him. Who is a danger to American lives and freedom I dare ask?
    Does it even deserve a comment? Okay, just a quickie: Aside from the poor grammar, Mr. Toad (aka Joel Simpson), makes the peculiar attribution of Hitlerish "lies, distortions, hate and discontent" to the left of the political spectrum. Lies. Distortions. Hate. Well, okay, maybe we do have some discontent. What a nitwit.

    SIDENOTE: Need a new name for this blog. What about "Lies, Distortions, Hate, and Discontent"? Or maybe that's still not sufficiently descriptive...
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:50 PM | |
     
  • The Philosophraptor explains clearly why Wesley Clarks' (and W's and most congressmen's) position on flag burning is wrong.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:00 AM | |
     
  • Futures Market on Terroism Resurrected:
    The Policy Analysis Market in terrorism futures that created such a stir that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency dropped it like a hot potato in July is back. [...] But Net Exchange apparently has decided to launch PAM on its own next spring.

    In the months since its initial exposure, 'solid reporting has conveyed that PAM was never intended as a market in terror,' according to an announcement on www.policyanalysismarket.com. 'In addition, many individuals have expressed the wish that PAM be re-established beyond government involvement. PAM will open for trading in March 2004 free of government involvement.'

    By giving people a tool for investing in the likelihood of future events, 'PAM will gather the opinions of people from many countries and backgrounds, individuals who are deeply interested in the future of the Middle East,' the announcement noted.
    (source)

    There's not much on the policyanalysismarket.com website and the announcement referred to above appears to have been removed. Here's a New York Times editorial from July arguing that the original PAM was a 'good idea with bad press', and here's a similar piece from Slate. Even so, all things being equal, I would actually be more comfortable with this sort of thing nicely wrapped in governmental oversight - one thing the website does say is that no government money and no government agency are involved. Who are these people going to sell/give their information to? Frankly, I'm surprised at how little press this is getting, since it got so much back in July.

    (Sidenote: A search of DARPA's website reveals that the Total Information Awareness program, which the PAM was part of, has changed its name to Terrorism Information Awareness - I guess someone noticed the original name was really, really freaky. "Previously known as Total Information Awareness, this name created in some minds the impression that TIA was a system to be used for developing dossiers on U.S. citizens. That is not DoD's intent...." Here's the link.)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:37 AM | |
     
  • From Yahoo:
    The U.S. military's code name for a crackdown on resistance in Iraq was also used by the Nazis for an aborted operation to damage the Soviet power grid during World War II.
    Discussing the arrogance and ignorance that lies behind these kinds of blunders, Jesse at Pandagon says:
    [E]very time Bush makes a statement that a soldier's death is good news for America's interests, or we name an operation "Fuck A Muslim's Wife", we see the preferred direction of America's policy: action without regards for consequence. I think that may be the central issue of foreign policy debates in 2004 - who can best articulate an understanding of the consequences of American hegemony, and the best method of handling it in a responsible and safe manner.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:35 AM | |
    Tuesday, November 18, 2003
     
  • Demonstrating their eagerness to turn Iraq into the West Bank, the US military has started destroying suspected guerrillas' homes and, as part of what Pandagon has dubbed "Operation: My Dick is Bigger Than Yours", has clogged traffic in Tikrit for a couple of hours by driving hundreds of scary-looking tanks and fighting vehicles through town.
    At least 15 homes have been destroyed in Tikrit as part of what has been dubbed Operation Ivy Cyclone II, including four leveled on Sunday by tanks and Apache helicopters that allegedly belonged to suspects in the Nov. 7 downing of a Black Hawk helicopter that killed six Americans.

    Family members at one of the houses, in the village of al Haweda, said they were given five minutes to evacuate before soldiers opened fire. ...

    It was unclear whether the decision to destroy the houses was part of an overall strategy approved in Washington. White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to comment specifically, referring questions about the razings to the Defense Department, but he praised the military's efforts to get tough with Iraqi insurgents.

    On Monday, angry residents of al Haweda, where three of the destroyed homes were, said the tactic will spawn more guerrilla fighters and perhaps spark an Iraqi uprising similar to the Palestinian intifada in the West Bank and Gaza.

    "This is something Sharon would do," said 41-year-old farmer Jamel Shahab, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. "What's happening in Iraq is just like Palestine."

    (link from Today in Iraq)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:41 PM | |
     
  • Good news and bad news. Skip to below if you want your good news first.

    BAD News: Wesley Clark says he favours a flag-burning amendment. Kevin Drumm (implicitly and correctly) points out that that's stupid.
    Lawmakers have debated such an amendment almost annually since 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled that destroying the American flag amounted to protected free speech.

    In June, the Republican-controlled House approved a one-line change to the Constitution "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States" for the fifth time in eight years. The Senate never has passed the proposed amendment.

    Now for the GOOD News: I'd heard a rumor about this many months ago and just now got around to looking it up. Indeed it's true, George W. Bush has been spotted autographing US flags - a major contravention of flag etiquette. Patriots should get offended at this (and therefore vote Democrat). It's offensive on several levels, though it shouldn't be a crime.

    Here's an article discussing the history of the flag descration debate since June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress adopted it as the nation’s symbol. And here's a Salon article from 1999 which discusses the congressional politics of the amendment - basically, the House likes to vote in favour of it "often with the wink-wink knowledge that the more deliberative, statesmanlike Senate would either refuse to vote on the bill or would kill it." We read here in the Washington Post that the present White House also supports the amendment. So Bush is supporting a law which would turn his own bit of arrogrant gaucherie into the crime of 'flag desecration'. Unfortunately, as the Post points out, the amendment would really just help Bush further down the path to totalitarian dictatorship:
    The amendment, in practice, would be used to punish only unpopular political expression, expression that, though sometimes odious, is today unambiguously protected by American constitutional law -- as it should be.
    Right, so maybe this wasn't good news... but it really proves the appropriateness of the Idiot-son-of-an-Asshole moniker, eh?
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:02 PM | |
     
  • Chuckles. A Marine (a JAG by the sounds of it) has come to the aid of A Marine's Girl -- sounds like she might keep the site after all. Watching this process has been interesting. Word that she was shutting down spread fast in blogville, and riled a lot of people.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:19 PM | |
     
  • Some progress in Massachusetts: the state Supreme Court has ruled that the legislature has 180 days to resolve the following paradox. Under the present constitution the state cannot deny marriage to homosexual couples. Okay, so that's not a paradox unless you think, 'marriage' implies a heterosexual couple. Some folks in the Massachusetts assembly think it does and are therefore calling for a constitutional amendment, but some think it doesn't, so a fight is coming.
    Today's ruling is similar to a 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision, which led to the state Legislature's approval in 2000 of gay unions that give couples many of the same benefits of marriage. Courts in Hawaii and Alaska have also ruled that the states did not have a right to deny marriage to gay couples, but the decisions were followed by the adoption of constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:01 PM | |
     
  • Stupid FOX reporter looking for a story where there isn't one gets beaten over head with truth: Via Talking Points Memo comes this video clip of a FOX interview with Weslery Clark. It's a few minutes long so you might need a high speed connection. They may take the link down soon, so see it while you can.

    UPDATE: Via Calpundit, here's a link to the transcript.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 11:52 AM | |
    Monday, November 17, 2003
     
  • Conrad Black is retiring as CEO of Hollinger. Black and Hollinger have been in a lot of hotwater lately, because they recently "admitted filing inaccurate information to US regulators about payments to top executives." Meanwhile, in what looks like a separate issue, Hollinger is conducting an investigation into several of its own transactions, including a $2.5 million payment made by the company to Trireme Partners, a venture capital company where neocon ultra-hawk and Bush adviser Richard Perle is a managing partner. According to disinfopedia,
    Perle has close business ties with Conrad Black, chairman of Hollinger International Inc., which owns more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers in Canada, the United States, Britain, Israel and Australia. ... Perle uses these papers and others to trumpet his anti-Saddam sentiments and to tangle with political figures [who oppose] the Perle line on Iraq. ... Perle is a top executive of Hollinger Digital Inc., which is the media management and investment arm of Hollinger. Perle is listed on various corporate boards through his association with Hollinger.

    So, so dirty. So, so incestuous.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:18 AM | |
     
  • I debated whether to bother posting this, since the main point of this editorial is pretty self evident, namely that Britons and Americans who are anti-Bush are not necessarily anti-American (even if Tony Blair and the Republicans would like to paint them as such.)
    For proof that you can back the US even as you oppose Bush, look no further than the tens of millions of Americans who voted against him in 2000 (greater in number, lest we forget, than those who voted for him).

    Those Americans were not anti-American. They love their country, but they didn't like Bush or where he planned to take America.
    So you can be pro-US and anti-war at the same time, but:
    Not that suspicion of the current US administration is entirely down to the war.

    Long before it, Bush had earned serious, global unpopularity. When he tore up the Kyoto Accord on climate change he seemed to be telling the world to go to hell - if America wanted to pollute, then no bunch of foreigners was going to stop it.

    Bush defenders say that was not his fault: the US senate had already blocked Kyoto in Bill Clinton's day. But tone matters in politics and Bush's tone was that of an upright finger directed at the rest of the planet.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:34 AM | |
    Sunday, November 16, 2003
     
  • Writing about serial killer Gary Ridgway, who killed at least 48 people in Washington state, Benjamin Healy of Slate notes: "When asked by a psychologist after his capture to rate the degree of his own evil on a scale of 1 to 5, Ridgway scored himself a middling 3." On his own scorecard of evil, George W. continues to score high.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 8:45 PM | |
     
  • Once again: science, both good and bad: "A brain scan that can apparently root out racists has been developed by scientists."
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 7:51 PM | |
     
  • A picture of complexity.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 7:32 PM | |
     
  • Commenting on the fact that Saddam Hussein just released a new video, yankeedoodle asks: "Hey, Lieutenant AWOL, where is this guy? And where's Osama? What about that asshole who was sending all that anthrax through the US mail? Any luck with that traitor who compromised Valerie Plame? Could you find your own ass with both hands and a flashlight?"
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 6:31 PM | |
     
  • Sad News:
    Marine's Girl is deleting her blog for fear of potential consequences for her marine. This decision comes as a result of a decision by an overeager Bushlicker, Mstr. Gunnery/Sgt. KenDale Conover, USMC Retired, to report her to Marine Corps Central Command Hq. This comes on the heels of this article about intelligence analyst SGT. Robert Ferriol, who's been charged with making "Disloyal Statements" for talking about Bush policies in some letters to the The Item, a South Carolina paper. About a week ago, we read about Sergeant Jessica Macek, facing disciplinary action for speaking on the radio in a way which displeased Big Brother. I referred to that story here.

    Now, Marine's Girl has done nothing wrong - no classified information was posted, and the names of the Marine and his Girl were not revealed. In their Instant Message conversations (some of which were posted to the blog) - the Marine was careful not to say anything particularly critical of the war. Even so, given the current climate of intimidation, one can certainly appreciate Marine's Girl's choice. In her words:
    I'm sorry we live in such a world that people feel so compelled to silence any view that differs from their own. This country is very divided right now as a result of the actions of one who called himself a "uniter". I wish it were not this way but it is, perhaps next November will give us a change and some hope for the future.
    And in response to Sgt. Ferriol's fate, a reader of the Item writes:
    If Mr. Ferriol hadn't made it clear that it was the United States Marines he had been a member of, I would have thought the events leading up to him leaving the military had occurred in the Soviet Union.

    Since the Mr. Simpson, who wrote to Ferriol's superiors, has clearly checked his brain at the door to the temple of George Bush, it appears that such mindless obeisance to Republican authority is the watchword of the military establishment of today.

    Watch out, you all, the feds might come for you some day, too.
    Dark days, friends. I've really appreciated Marine's Girl's insights into the war. Guess I'll add this to my list of reasons to hate this evil man, his administration, and everything they stand for.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 5:49 AM | |
     
  • Yes, but did they apologize for sending the missionary?
    Villagers in Fiji's rugged mountain interior wept Thursday as they apologized to descendants of a British missionary killed and eaten by their ancestors more than 130 years ago.

    The inhabitants of the tiny settlement of Nubutautau and the descendants of the Reverend Thomas Baker were taking part in a complex reconciliation ritual, which the villagers hope will lift a curse they blame for an extended run of bad luck.

    Cannibals killed Baker in 1867 and ate him after a perceived slight against the then village chief, even boiling his leather boots with the local vegetable, bele, in an act which villagers say resulted in the curse.

    "The tears were from our hearts deep inside because we have waited for so long for this moment," village spokesman Tomasi Baravilala told Reuters. "That's our belief, we are Christians and today we will be set free from the curse."
    (source)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 5:08 AM | |
     
  • Two more downed helicopters:
    One Black Hawk slammed into the roof of a house in Mosul's Bab Sinjar neighborhood. The second hit a school building. Somehow, neither appears to have inflicted civilian casualties in the crowded residential area near the city center.

    A U.S. officer at the scene soon after the crashes said a rocket-propelled grenade had hit the tail rotor of one Black Hawk. Witnesses said it then collided with the second.

    "I was watching TV when I heard a large explosion," said local man Mohammad Badran. "I looked outside the window and saw two helicopters. One was flying low and was on fire. The other was higher up. The first one climbed and hit the higher one."
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:52 AM | |
     
  • Science is both good...
    Scientists from the United States have created a simple virus from scratch, assembling more than 5,000 DNA building blocks, which they say could eventually lead to genetically-modified organisms able to eat carbon dioxide and clean the environment.

    ...and bad:

    The idea provoked immediate opposition from environmental campaigners who branded it "very dangerous and a bit madcap" and warned that such organisms could run amok.

    [Genome maverick Craig Venter's] team has developed a new technique to assemble large pieces of DNA with relative ease and unprecedented speed. The technique, which will not be patented, allowed the complete genome of a small virus to be synthesised in just 14 days, the scientists revealed on Thursday.

    But the method equally makes it much simpler to manufacture a deadly virus for use as a bioweapon. The simple precursors needed would be impossible for governments to keep out of the hands of would-be biowarriors.

    (source) (other source)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:46 AM | |
     
  • Here in Canada (or as I like to think of it, 'Soviet Canuckistan') there's a lot of love for Queen Elizabeth. I'm not usually one of the ones feeling it. Today is different:
    “If London, around the Queen’s palace anyway, needs to look like the 51st state for a couple of days, then that’s what’s gonna happen.” This was the assured view last week of one US security official in Washington … and what the US wants, it is used to getting.
    (source)

    Queen Elizabeth has rejected a request from President George W. Bush's advisers to boost Buckingham Palace's defences against a terrorist attack during his state visit this week.
    (source)

    "They [the Americans] wanted blast- and bullet-proofed windows and curtains and some strengthening to the walls of the president's suite and other rooms at the palace where he would be spending time. The president's security men seem obsessed with the idea of an airborne attack on the palace," a royal official said.
    "Her majesty takes the view that no amount of strengthening of windows and walls could protect the president in such an eventuality and that the work would cause disruption and involve discarding original fixtures and fittings."
    (source)
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:24 AM | |
    Saturday, November 15, 2003
     
  • Calpundit and Counterspin have both pointed out this story about criticisms of Ariel Sharon's policies by four "former chiefs of Israel's powerful domestic security service," Shin Bet. Read the story, it's very powerful. These guys clearly know what they're talking about.
    "Terror is not thwarted with bombs or helicopters," said Shalom, who asked rhetorically: "Why does this increase terror? Because it is overt, because it carries an element of vindictiveness."

    Atrios at Counterspin also points ironically to another Washington Post story discussing the US military's new more aggressive strategies in Baghdad and Tikrit, Operations Iron Hammer and Ivy Cyclone respectively.

    Also from the first WaPo story:
    "I don't want to add more fuel to this," said a senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "These, of all people, should have known this is the worst time to conduct public debate on these issues."

    The official said creating the image that "Israel is falling apart at the seams" could prompt Palestinian organizations to "intensify terrorist activity."

    This is, of course, basically the same argument that Wolfowitz was using the other day to suggest that Americans need to re-elect Bush: Don't let them think we're not tough!

    On a related issue, Sergeant Jessica Macek of the National Guard is potentially facing disciplinary action after talking about the war on a radio station in Rockford, Illinois.
    "I believe it is in the forefront in the minds of many soldiers that we were lied to about the reasons for going to war," Macek told the radio audience.

    The bulk of Macek's criticism comes over what she said was a lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction. "We have been there for six months now, and we have not found any weapons," said Macek. "If there were weapons it seems we should have found them by now."

    Commenting on the same article a few days ago, A Marine's Girl said:
    She made the mistake of identifying herself and believing that she had a right to free speech. I'll repeat again, soldiers do not have a right to free speech even though they should. If you speak out Pro-Bush, Pro-War nothing will happen to you..it might even advance your career but if your message is the opposite you will be punished.

    Obviously, the theme here is freedom of speech and the normal functioning of democracy in wartime. Soldiers are a special case, perhaps, and need to be considered separately - I haven't done the considering, so I'm not sure whether I agree with Marine's Girl, but what seems clear to me is that there should be a measure of public debate about these things. Do we want a monolithic military, or do we think it better serves the interests of the state and the soldiers if they are permitted to speak publically about their work? What, if any, limitations should there be on that speech? Is complimenting a policy as serious as criticising it? There is a tradition in the US (if not a law, there should probably be a law) of military types not publically endorsing candidates in elections. It is a very good tradition - no military should have that much influence over civilian affairs. Especially in cases where elections will be held in whole or in part on the issue of a war, any position taken by the military can become an indirect endorsement of a candidate. The military is focussed on the strategy of winning and therefore insists on unanimous approval by the rank and file, but the military serves the public - so the real issue is how we want the armed forces to behave.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:01 PM | |
     
  • Via Counterspin, this FOX News update.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:02 PM | |
     
  • Andy drew my attention to this story about Wheaton, Illinois-based Wheaton College's recent decision to lift its ban on dancing. The ban had been in place since the Civil War. Wheaton's an 'interdenominational' Christian college where, apparently, all kinds of really boring people have been studying and throwing exceedingly tiresome parties since 1860. According to the article:
    It was not until the 1960s that the school lifted the rule prohibiting students from going to movies. For generations, students were barred from dancing -- on campus or off -- unless it was with members of the same sex or a square dance.

    The college profile mentions that the current undergraduate student body of 2,400 drab individuals is "51% female, 49% male; 14% are multicultural." Look - they made up a new gender! "Wheaton is one of 50 colleges in The National Review College Guide: America’s 50 Top Liberal Arts Schools.... "At Wheaton," the Guide reports, "classes are small, the professors actually teach, and the curriculum is informed with solid and well-articulated values." The school boasts an impressive Billy Graham Center, which includes Muslim Minsitries. What's that, you say? "Muslim Ministries helps equip believers to love and lead Muslim people to Jesus Christ." Now you know. The College's mission statement includes a statement of faith - reaffirmed annually by staff and faculty - which includes, inter alia, these two beliefs:
  • WE BELIEVE that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.

  • WE BELIEVE in the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting punishment of the lost, and the everlasting blessedness of the saved.

  • Even so, they do offer philosophy courses, which aim to provide the student with "some training in those critical thinking and communication skills necessary for a reasonable defense of your beliefs." But, God-fearing young scholars beware: "You may feel disturbed, threatened, or even tempted (!), by some of the ideas considered during the course of this semester." Here's the full scripture version of Wheaton College's 'Community Covenant', which happens to mention that Scripture condemns "homosexual behavior" --damn (oops!) - I thought maybe that was the third gender!

    Oh, and while we're on the subject of Wheatons...
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:26 AM | |
    Friday, November 14, 2003
     
  • Earl P. Holt III of St. Louis, Missouri is a white supremecist. And he has taken the time to lovingly express his views in response to this post by ArchPundit. Here's a link to pandagon's post which also includes the Holt letter as well as links to various articles by Holt and (in the comments field below) some addresses to send complaints to.

    OOPS: I'd left that pandagon link out by accident. I've added it in now.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 9:59 PM | |
     
  • The Chinese can't seem to stop feeding rat poison to their enemies, children, and pretty much anyone else.
    Dushuqiang (pronounced doo-shoo-CHIANG') is said to be 100 times deadlier than cyanide. Just 5 milligrams - a dusting - can kill a human being, and it remains widely available despite a ban dating to the mid-1990s.

    On Thursday, in the south-central province of Hunan, a man upset because his affair with a married woman was ending tried to poison her children, state media reported.

    One died, but not before he shared rat poison-laced popcorn and oranges with his young classmates, killing a second child and sickening 25 others. The man, Wei Entan, 26, tried to kill himself with poison but police stopped him, the Beijing Morning Post reported....

    In January, China executed Huang Hu, 29, a kindergarten owner in Guangdong province who sickened 70 children by mixing Dushuqiang into salt at a rival school's kitchen. The students and two teachers suffered spasms and vomiting. Reports said Huang blamed the rival school for the failure of his own kindergarten.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:32 PM | |
     
  • John McCain says, "When the United States announces a schedule for training and deploying Iraqi security officers, then announces the acceleration of that schedule, then accelerates it again, it sends a signal of desperation, not certitude." Josh Marshall advises: "Let's not fool ourselves. The calculus at the White House is being driven by an effort to ward off a potential political transition in the United States rather than an effort to lay the groundwork for one in Iraq." Meanwhile, "Two British men whose sons died in Iraq are opposing President Bush's plans to meet relatives of fallen soldiers when he visits Britain next week." So far as I know, Bush has yet to meet the families of US war dead. Instead he has banned journalists from video-taping the return of bodybags, which have been renamed (in another classic Orwellian move) "transfer tubes". Mob-boss, er, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi now says he tried to persuade Bush not to intervene in Iraq militarily:
    Berlusconi's statement came as a surprise because he has been a staunch ally of the US administration in the conflict and he is one of the few European leaders who has contributed troops to help rebuilding Iraq.
    Berlusconi did press for a UN resolution before the war but had not said publicly before that he tried to talk Bush out of the conflict. He did not elaborate.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:19 PM | |
     
  • Read about the FOX filibuster fenomenon at Eschaton.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 9:36 AM | |
     
  • Holy crap. I was pretty stunned by the gunloving right-wing nastiness discussed in my last post. But pandagon has got me beat - he's actually quoting from a right-wing Christian blogger who's fantasizing about murdering Democratic congressmen, senators, and left-of-the-extreme-right Supreme Court justices. What the hell is wrong with people?
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:06 AM | |
     
  • Kate helpfully pointed out this pile of poo. The link is to a discussion board at FreeRepublic.com ("A Conservative News Forum" - notice the ambiguous adjective) where someone posted this BBC article about the NRA's blacklist of celebrities who support gun control laws in the US. What's striking about it, the thing that makes our hatred bubble over, are the (at last count 36) asinine comments by NRA-loving gunnuts. Some choice quotes (I've left the original spelling intact - but I've left the authors' names out):
    Womder how many of these stars have head a weapon in the movies and blew some one way.
    Talk about hypocrisy, Oh I forgot liberals aren't hypocrites cause they don't have any morals.

    Evidence these people don't know the difference between movies and real-life. Should we trust them with guns?
    Wow, this story was done by the Boston Globe, World Net Daily, and others last week. I guess the BBC had to wait to "research" those articles.

    What the hell does that mean?
    No worries, I was really making a comment on how the BBC took a longer time reporting this and that a number of previous articles sounded very familiar to this one (if you know what I mean).

    No, we don't know what me you mean. You can't use "familiar" that way.
    I am glad you posted this, it makes me wonder (again) how many people at the BBC really work, copy, or make things up.

    OK, now I get it. You watch FOX Action News.
    The joke is on the BBC. Almost all of those people on that list have, at one time or the other, hired armed guards.
    They're really not against guns, just the idea that some of their fans might own some.

    There is just so much wrong with this, I can't even be bothered.
    Yeah, let those stars jump up there and add their names, give them a chance to make 100% of their profits from over seas enemy markets instead of the 75% they make now.

    Not everyone who lives overseas (one word) is your enemy, psycho.
    [Quoting from the BBC article:]the NRA says stars like Sean Connery......have all "lent their names and notoriety to anti-gun causes
    So guns are fine for Her Majesty's Secret Service but not for the average citizen. ....Very disappointing, Sean.

    Once again: movies = not real. Sean Connery = real. James Bond = not real. Secondly, yes, guns are okay when put in the hands of a few, highly trained professionals who are entrusted to look after things like law and order. Less so in the case of Wal*Mart shoppers. Oh, and something these trigger-happy nutjobs might want to consider is that the NRA's blacklist doesn't provide any information about the actual stand (other than that it is "anti-gun") their blacklisted celebrities actually take. The NRA wants to paint anyone who is in favour of any kind of restriction on guns at all as being "anti-gun". An assault-weapon ban is not the same thing as a ban on all guns is not the same thing as a legally-mandated safety lock. There are shades of difference within the anti-NRA crowd. But I'm sorry if I'm confusing you by implying the issue is more complicated than "with us, or against us".
    Just one more:
    [Quoting from the BBC article again:]When he was governor of Vermont, a state with a large number of hunters, Howard Dean said he opposed any form of gun control.
    He has modified that position and now says he supports the ban on assault weapons, along with all the other candidates.

    Who knows for sure what any politician believes, or if it really matters anyway. They are bought and sold whores singing the praises of the highest bidder.

    Unlike the NRA and Charleton Heston, right? They're just watching out for the individual liberties of trailerhome owners, right?
    Okay, so there's plenty more where that came from, but I want to say a few other things and this post is getting stupidly long (and I should really be working...) The folks on that discussion board who made these posts actually said a few things I liked. For instance, they objected to someone (I think it was Mel Gibson, though it's a little hard to tell) saying he liked to hit women. I have no idea if he actually said that, but kudos for thinking it's bad. Okay, that's actually just one thing I liked, but anyway, I was just starting to think, you know, isn't it interesting that we agree about some things and disagree about others when I saw this tagline at the end of one post: "Nurture terrorism in a neighborhood near you - donate to your local community mosque." Needless to say, my jaw dropped. If that isn't hate speech, I don't know what is. Is there anyone you can report shit like that too? Does it do any good?

    On a very different note (thankfully), I did a little research (a google search), because these bozos made a lot of anti-British comments as well, not just about the BBC, but about the British generally as, like: a people. I don't know why they pick on the British especially, maybe they just don't realize that virtually every civilized country in the world has much stronger gun laws than the US (oh: maybe this does mean everyone else is "the enemy"...) Anyway, it turns out, much to my chagrin, that in the last couple of years the UK crime rate has actually surpassed the US crime rate for all categories of crime except rape and murder. I read this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor (it's from 2000, maybe some more research is in order, but not right now...) and I learned the following:
    In all major crime categories except for murder and rape (where the figures are unreliable on both sides of the Atlantic), Britain now has higher crime rates. For robbery, assault, burglary, and auto theft, Britain is a worse place than the US. Even the gap in the murder rate has narrowed, falling from 10 times as many murders per head in the US as in Britain, to 6 times as many (due entirely to the fall in the US rate).

    Why has this happened? There are many theories, mostly concentrated on American-specific factors such as the role of guns in self-defense. But a recent study, by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics and Britain's Cambridge University, came up with a very interesting suggestion. Referring to serious and violent crimes, the report said: "An offender's risk of being caught, convicted, and incarcerated has been rising in the United States but falling in England."

    In other words, if you are a criminal you are more likely to get away with it in the UK than in the US, and the difference in likelihood is getting greater.

    This is an important conclusion. In some ways, it shows that the American incarceration experiment has worked - although the study also shows that length of sentence is unimportant, and harsh mandatory sentences for nonviolent, minor drug crimes strike me as bizarre. It also shows that British anticrime efforts that have veered off the road of custodial punishment have had a counterproductive effect.

    Isn't that interesting? The point here is: just as anti-gun stars will sometimes hire gun-armed bodyguards because they are living in a paid-for-by-the-NRA gunlover's paradise, criminals will (for the same reason) also carry guns to protect themselves - criminals aren't detered because you might have a gun, they just make sure they have one too - and so, that way, life gets a lot bloodier. On the other hand, having an effective police force that catches criminals and makes sure they get punished actually does do some good.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:22 AM | |
    Thursday, November 13, 2003
     
  • More from FOX at Juan Cole.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:12 AM | |
     
  • Here's an editorial - oops, I mean, news story, yeah - from FOX News channel. The headline: U.S. Forces Launch Operation Iron Hammer. I wish I had more time to make fun of this. Anyway, the article reads like PR copy for a shoot-em-up videogame. I hate war and everything about it, but I felt pumped up after reading about Operation Iron Hammer. It's not clear what Operation Iron Hammer is. It seems to be something like using intelligence about where militants are to go and attack them. I don't know why that would require a special 'Operation'. The article says something about US forces setting 'traps' for their enemies, but it's not clear what that means. Mostly the article just talks about soldiers shooting bad guys. It says there were four US strikes as part of Operation Iron Hammer, but three of them sound like the troops just got lucky, saw someone fire a mortar, and killed him. Here's a quote about the fourth attack:
    In the most dramatic action, about a dozen Bradley armored vehicles used 25mm cannons to destroy a warehouse used by anti-U.S. forces in southern Baghdad. A special forces AC-130 Spectre gunship also took part from the air, targeting the warehouse with precise fire.

    "The facility is a known meeting, planning, storage and rendezvous point for belligerent elements currently conducting attacks on coalition forces and infrastructure," the Pentagon (search) said in a statement from Washington. "The destruction of this structure will deny enemy forces any use of it in the future."

    Yeah. I like that last line especially: now that we blew up their building, they won't be able to use it - score 1 for the US of A. But, I wonder how many buildings there are in Baghdad. If there are lots of them, and not just one, than this might not be a very important victory. Or maybe there were enemies in the building when they destroyed it. That would be significant, but the FOX News article doesn't make it clear. So, maybe there weren't. I have two points here: 1. It sounds as if the stupidly-named Operation Iron Hammer might not be much of anything; 2. You can't tell if Operation Iron Hammer is something or not because FOX news is so incompetent and so intent on cheering on the war and its mongers.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:57 AM | |
     
  • There's been a little talk about reconstituting the draft in the US for a couple of weeks now. I mentioned it here. The military had posted a notice that it was looking for people to fill the draft boards - the little teams of people who get to say whether someone is fit for duty or not - and the fact of its obscurity (it has since been removed from the website entirely) made me wonder if there was something dirty about the whole thing. I mean, wouldn't it be convenient if you could fill the draft boards with friends so that (a) they wouldn't have to go to war, and (b) they could let their friends (who are probably also your friends) off the hook as well. On a discussion board at Calpundit responding to this post, a discussant posted an excerpt from a recent Salon article: "Local draft board volunteers, meanwhile, report that at training sessions last summer, they were unexpectedly asked to recommend people to fill some of the estimated 16 percent of board seats that are vacant nationwide." (I'll see if I can track down the links later, the Salon in question was from Nov. 3, 2003). All I'm saying is, you want to watch who gets that kind of power, especially when the people running the show are so goddamned corrupt.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:46 AM | |
    Wednesday, November 12, 2003
     
  • Josh Marshall brings up a brand new point: while the US spending all kinds of money (there was a figure a little while back during the $87 billion debate) on the (futile) search for WMD, apparently rather little is being done about the Iraqi scientists who, back when Iraq had real WMD programmes, worked on developing them. Josh says, "It would sort of be a bummer if they ended up putting that knowledge to work for al Qaida or the Syrians or anyone else for that matter."
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 8:03 PM | |
     
  • Via Today in Iraq, this report about rising support in Iraq, especially among teenagers, for the resistance fighters. It's disturbing stuff. Lots more good links at Today in Iraq, too.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:18 PM | |
     
  • Meanwhile, "The president of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council urged for a provisional government to be installed as soon as possible," as was done in Afghanistan. In recent days, "There have been media reports that the United States might abandon the council and establish a new structure to take over before elections are held." However, "The notion that we are about to throw the council to the wolves is exaggerated," a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But there is a need to put some energy into the political transition."
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:06 PM | |
     
  • Al-Qaida threatens more attacks: According to a Saudi weekly published in London, al-Majalla, 'al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks on al-Muhaya in Riyadh this past Saturday. It said in an e-mail message received by one of our correspondents in Dubai that the next strikes will be in the Gulf, America and Iraq'.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:05 PM | |
     
  • News from the corporate masters who rule over us:
    "The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, published in June, defines a 'McJob' as 'a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.'
    The fast-food giant's chief executive, Jim Cantalupo, called the definition a 'slap in the face' to the 12 million people who work in the restaurant industry, and demanded that Merriam-Webster dish up something more flattering.

    Sorry, wait a moment, Jim. It's the definition that's a slap in the face? What about the cheap-ass un-unionized toilet-scrubbing utterly degrading job? Oh, and news to you Jim: dictionaries don't make up words, they just record them.

    But the dictionary publisher said Tuesday that it 'stands by the accuracy and appropriateness' of its definition."

    'The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,' he said. 'We're getting the language into its final shape -- the shape it's going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we've finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We're destroying words -- scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won't contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.'

    --1984
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:48 PM | |
     
  • The CIA confirms:
    More Iraqis are losing faith in the U.S.-led coalition occupying their country and are increasingly likely to support insurgents fighting against it, a CIA report says. ... Increasingly aggressive tactics by U.S. forces, such as last weekend's "show of force" aerial raids and mortar attacks, could backfire by alienating more Iraqis, the CIA officials worry. ...
    Senator John McCain, a Republican, told a CBS television program on Wednesday that "time is not on our side." He characterized those recent attacks as "very intelligent moves that bad people are making."

    Why does their strategy always look smarter than ours? Oh, yeah.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:38 PM | |
     
  • Eric Blumrich comments on the partial-birth abortion ban.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:34 PM | |
     
  • Getting uglier all the time:
    "Insurgents bombed an Italian military police headquarters in the southern town of Nasiriyah Wednesday, killing at least 25 people."...The news jarred Italians, who have not experienced such a lethal attack since World War II. At the White House President Bush offered his sympathy, support and gratitude for Italy's role in the U.S. led Iraqi operation. "Today in Iraq, a member of NATO -- Italy -- lost some proud sons," Bush said. " . . . We appreciate their sacrifice," he said, adding, "I appreciate the steadfast leadership of Prime Minister [Silvio] Berlusconi, who refuses to yield in the face of terrorism." ...

    And at a roadblock in Fallujah, a restive city west of the capital, U.S. troops fired on a truck carrying live chickens Tuesday night, killing five civilians. "They went to bring chickens . . . and they came back at 9 or 10 at night and we were waiting for them," Khalid Khalifa Jumaily, whose two nephews were killed on the truck, told the news service. "The Americans fired on them." The U.S. military said it no immediate information on the shootings.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:26 PM | |
     
  • This has got to be the zenith of irony. Well done, but a little creepy.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:15 AM | |
    Tuesday, November 11, 2003
     
  • Two points: First, Aljazeera has a story on a recent report by "UK-based charity" Medact that says between 22,000 and 55,000 Iraqi civilians "died during the bombing of the country." It also discusses the worsening healthcare situation since the fall of Saddam - it was bad before, now it's disasterous.
    Second point, the report says "between 22,000 and 55,000", the opening paragraph to the Aljazeera story says "up to 55,000" and the headline of the story reads "US-Brit war killed 55,000 civilians". This is how facts become distorted and it is of course not limited to Arab media, it happens all the time in the West, in our press and in our political dialogue. I just happened to notice this particularly striking example.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 8:15 PM | |
     
  • Heeeeeere's Donny:
    "Rumsfeld said the troop-level question is 'one that I ask almost weekly and every single military leader in Iraq answers that question, 'Yes, we do have a sufficient number of U.S. forces.''

    'Needless to say, if at any moment the military commanders indicated that they need more U.S. troops, I would certainly recommend it to the president and we would increase the number of troops but the advice we're getting is just the opposite,' he said.

    Rumsfeld noted that the number of Iraqis serving in security forces is rising steadily and may soon exceed the number of U.S. troops on the ground.

    Asked if U.S. commanders might be sugarcoating their reports, the defense secretary insisted: 'What I want to hear is the truth. And I hope they're telling the truth and you believe they're telling the truth and if they're not, they're not serve [sic] their country very well because I have no bias one way or the other.'

    'I'm perfectly willing to recommend to the president we increase the number of forces if in fact, that is in the best interest of this country,' Rumsfeld said, adding that the numbers of new recruits and re-enlistments have been 'very positive' despite the rigors of war. "

    Impressively, the CBS News story these quotes are from doesn't mention that Rumsfeld spent most of his time before the war beating the no-more-troops-necessary message into the heads of his generals who, in their best efforts to serve their country and win the war they were being ordered to wage, were arguing to the contrary. Now, which of these three possibilities seems most likely: (a) the generals are "sugarcoating" their reports because Rumsfeld's bias is well-known to them; (b) Rumsfeld is lying about the advice he's getting; (c) this is all true and no more troops are needed?
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 7:09 PM | |
     
  • Via Counterspin and Anchorage Daily News:
    A Fairbanks man was arrested on accusations that he confronted anti-war protesters and kicked a puppy belonging to one of them. ...

    The group tried to ignore Atwood even as he aggressively stood in front of them, troopers wrote. He reportedly approached one protester who had a leashed puppy and kicked it, charging documents said.

    After that, Tinsley told Atwood that his behavior was unacceptable and Atwood shoved him, according to the affadavit. It said Atwood even confronted troopers and asked one of them, "What have you done for your country?"
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:34 PM | |
     
  • Good news: Andy sent me this link about the "central focus" of multi-Billionaire George Soros's life: ousting Bush.
    “America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,” Soros said. Then he smiled: “And I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.”
    Soros believes a “supremacist ideology” guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans.” It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (“The enemy is listening”): “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me,” he said in a soft Hungarian accent.

    His personal contributions to anti-Bush, pro-Democrat causes and candidates total $15.5 million.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 1:34 PM | |
     
  • Hehehe. Flag blunder embarrasses Pentagon.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:32 AM | |
     
  • Via the Great Satan Quarterly, I've come across this story about an ex-CIA man and his analysis of Bush's abuse of power.
    "The intelligence process is a bit like virginity," says Ray McGovern, who worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years. "Once you prostitute it, it's never the same. Your credibility never recovers.

    "Watching what has happened with Iraq over the past several months has been like watching your daughter being raped." ...

    Mr McGovern worked near the very top of his profession, giving direct advice to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon era and preparing the President's daily security brief for Ronald Reagan. Now he is co-founder of a group of former CIA employees called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or Vips for short. ...

    "Now we know that no other President of the United States has ever lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably ... The presumption now has to be that he's lying any time that he's saying anything."

    It will, Mr McGovern believes, take a change of president and a change of CIA director to even begin to repair the damage done by what he sees as an overt politicisation of the intelligence business. But even that may not be enough....


     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:28 AM | |
     
  • Check out this scary post at Juan Cole's site. I don't think I've seen this anywhere else, or not yet anyway.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 4:05 AM | |
     
  • Also via Nathan Newman, we get this story of Wal-Mart employees filing a class-action suit against their employer for making forcing them "to work off the clock and without breaks." This legal battle comes on the heels of the recent revelations that Wal-Mart hired hundreds of illegal immigrants. Newman also provides a link to this excellent commentary.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 3:57 AM | |
     
  • Canadian news: Before I begin, let me make it perfectly clear that although I don't support Quebec separatism, I certainly support Quebecois culture and I am totally willing to believe that French-speaking Canadians are disadvantaged in this country and I support measures taken to combat that. Now to the news. Ex-FLQer Raymond Villeneuve, who was recently convicted of criminal harrassment, is alledging that seven quebecois men who spray-painted separatist slogans on a building in Montreal are experiencing "exaggerated repression" as they go to trial. The website for his new Mouvement de liberation nationale du Quebec is here. While I don't want to make light of this guy and his friends' struggle for independence, I do want to point out that for 45 canadian bucks (+5 for shipping and handling) you can buy their funny-looking flag here. And here, you can read about the bus station restaurant that apparently doesn't have any french-speaking servers. And then there's this, which I would try to relay to you but, since it makes no sense whatsoever to me, I leave it up to you. It's about DeGaulle. Go figure.
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 2:31 AM | |
     
  • More from FOX Action News! Nathan Newman writes, "Fox Cable Network is threatening criminal charges against staff members for circulating an email listing staff salaries of everyone in the division. And what dark reason would justify seeking to enforce secrecy and suppress free expression? Profits of course:

    A former Fox executive noted that the revelation of staff salaries was likely to cause dissension in the ranks and predicted it would lead to a parade of executives looking to renegotiate their contracts.

    "If a senior vice president at one network finds out his counterpart at another network is making $30,000 more than he is, he's going to march into his boss's office to make up the difference. It will be a huge pain," the former executive said.
    Newman observes, "It gets harder and harder to seriously refer to Fox as being involved in 'journalism' in any meaningful sense; they betray every serious value of free expression and truth, from lawsuits to internal censorship."
     

  • --posted by dalai @ 12:38 AM | |



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