Filtered news 2/26

"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions
are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on.
We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."
- - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003,

THE moral issue of our lives Sixteen million Americans live in "," defined as individuals making less than $5,080 annually and families of four making less than $9,903. Yeah, 16,000,000. Naturally, the Bush Administration is on the case: it has proposed to stop collecting the data. By the way, the World Bank estimates that approximately 1.3 billion people make less than $1 a day and another 1.6 billion make $1-$2 per day.

If you're making a list, here's another for the Top 10: 200,000: Number of , including approximately 500-1,000 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And this is NOT A Maryland lawmaker has proposed legislation to ban the “.” Said delegate LeRoy E. Myers, “I think it’s a pretty serious problem. You have body parts hanging from the hitches of cars. We’ve crossed a line.” His bill would prohibit motorists from displaying anything resembling or depicting “anatomically correct” or “less than completely and opaquely covered” human or animal genitals. Crushing poverty, homeless vets, tuck nutz -- what's your priority issue?

GOP sacrificed wounded vets for Bush's ego On NBC’s Meet the Press today, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) argued that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not conduct oversight of the treatment at military facilities in recent years because “they did not want to embarrass the President.” As the new chairman of the committee, Levin said he will be visiting Walter Reed this week and holding a . Levin decried the deplorable conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “Where we need a surge is not in Iraq. We need a surge of concern for our troops, for the veterans, for the injured, for the wounded, for the families of those who have lost loved ones. That’s the surge of concern and that’s the surge that we need,” Levin said. In its cover story, “,” Newsweek reports that the government is struggling to care for an increasing number of injured soldiers. Newsweek’s investigation of the VA system “paints a grim portrait of an overloaded bureaucracy cluttered with red tape; veterans having to wait weeks or months for mental-health care and other appointments; families sliding into debt as VA case managers study disability claims over many months, and the seriously wounded requiring help from outside experts just to understand the VA’s arcane system of rights and benefits.”

Owww! The stupidity -- it burns! I read this post on the - the right-wing answer to the Wikipedia - and I thought, surely this is a gag. There can't be people who really believe that the Bible talks about unicorns, right? (as they say). If you'll excuse me, I need to go lie down now.

Obama was right I agree with Andrew Sullivan: it's now clear that . And Obama was right for the right reason: he asked some very penetrating questions about the likely aftermath of an invasion. As an Illinois State Senator, he knew about the risk of civil strife among Iraq's Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds. And this is the guy the press is trying to tag as too ignorant of foreign affairs to run for President? Try again.

Corrupt to the core "The reason our mission in Iraq has proven to be so disastrous and corrupt is very simple -- the advocates and architects of that war are completely corrupt, inept, and deceitful." The words are . And though many others have said the same thing in slightly different words, it bears repeating again and again. The corruption and ineptitude aren't unfortunate add-ons to the effort. They're at the heart of it. It's a stain like original sin. And the same goes for the democratizing element of the mission. Even among critics of the war, it's often accepted as granted that a key aim of this effort was democratization -- only that it was botched, like so much else, or that the aim of democracy, in a crunch, plays second fiddle to other priorities. Not true. The key architects of the policy don't believe in democracy or the rule of law. The whole invasion was based on contrary principles. And the aim can't be achieved because those anti-democratic principles are written into the DNA of the occupation, even as secondary figures have and continue to labor to build democracy in the country.

What liberal media? and is Rudy Catholic? I think the AP should be ashamed of itself for . Ed Kilgore, however, raises a much better question about the religious status of the GOP field: ?

After all, the man has been married three times. His first marriage of 14 years was annulled on grounds of a rather tardy discovery that he was married to his second cousin. I'm assuming this annullment was blessed by the Church. So his second marriage was technically his first. But what about his third? Did he somehow get a second annullment? Or was either his second or third (performed by none other than Mayor Bloomberg) marriage just a civil ceremony unblessed by the Church, which means Rudy was self-excommunicated by openly living in sin and/or pretending to be remarried?

Also: What ever happened to this communion business? All these Bishops went around condemning John Kerry for his pro-choice views, but shouldn't Giuliani be in the same boat?

Next they'll be writing blogs! Chimpanzees in Senegal.

Religious Reich not done yet Check out this New York Times story on a recent meeting of the scary-Christian Right *:

The conservative concern may also be an ominous sign for the Republican Party about the morale of a core element of its political base. Conservatives warn that the 2008 election could shape up like 1996, when conservatives faced a lesser-of-two evils choice between a Republican they distrusted, former Senator Bob Dole, and a Democrat they disdained, President Bill Clinton. Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family later said in a speech to the council that he voted for a conservative third-party candidate that year rather than pull a lever for Mr. Dole.

Little Ricky Santorum got a warm welcome, though. Yes, yes, the ever-quotable Grover Norquist was there as well:

Mr. Norquist said he remained open to any of the three candidates who spoke to the council or to Mr. Romney. He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex. "It's called secondary virginity," Mr. Norquist said. "It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians."

It makes for great copy, but it ain't gonna happen. John McCain has all but offered to eat a baby on live television. It hasn't done him any good. There's just too much bad blood with the frontrunners, and the second tier...well, God bless the second tier. They're going to need it. Well, maybe the unicorns will keep them all warm at night.

*Anything founded by Tim LaHaye is scary.

Do apologies matter anymore? is being taken as evidence of the take-no-prisoners zealotry of the NRA, and I suppose it is. But it's evidence of something else too: the utter futility of the apology in modern day America. The guy in question, Jim Zumbo, has been a gun advocate for decades. Last week he wrote a single ill-considered blog post, and after a flurry of complaints he followed it up 36 hours later with the most abject apology imaginable. His blog has since been taken down, but trust me on this: he told his readers that it had been late and he was tired; that he had written in ignorance; that what he said was stupid; that he apologized; and that he was going to make an effort to learn more about the subject in question (AR platforms for hunting). He practically got down on his knees and begged forgiveness. As usual these days, it did no good. The slavering hordes were unappeased and he's now out of a job, has lost his sponsorships and his TV show, and might as well move to a desert island to live out the rest of his years now. He's a pariah. There are, obviously, some apologies that are meaningless and shouldn't be accepted. But this wasn't one of them. Zumbo was plainly sincere and was plainly apologizing for a hastily written remark that didn't reflect his long history of gun advocacy. All it did was make his critics madder. The moral of this story is: don't ever bother apologizing. It won't do you any good.

No brainer Senate to .

"How to Use Weasel Words to Imply Things on the Front Page of The New York Times That You Know You Cannot Support With Facts" by Adam Nagorney, :

But when it came to tallying the final score on the most intense engagement so far in the 2008 presidential race, even Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, seemed to acknowledge that he may have been outmaneuvered.

Take out the weasel words "seemed to" and "may have" and it reads:

"But when it came to tallying the final score on the most intense engagement so far in the 2008 presidential race, even Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, acknowledged nothing at all, including the entire premise of this piece."

Remember, when you read the words "seemed to" -- Hamlet: "Seems, Madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems' " -- you can be pretty sure the writer is just making s**t up.

Try it at home:

"But when it came to tallying the final score on the most intense engagement so far in the 2008 presidential race, even Mr. Nagorney, the political reporter from The New York Times, seemed to acknowledge that he may have been Anna Nicole Smith's half-space alien love child ..."

Just as true ...

(Oh and I'm buying dinner at eatery of your choice if you can make a credible case about just what the hell this has to do with who would make a better president ...)

Tell it to the hand Haaretz reports that Condoleezza Rice has told the Israelis to

When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don't even think about it.....Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has so far adopted the strict American position not to respond to the Syrian feelers. On the other hand, at the Foreign Ministry and within the defense establishment, there is a greater degree of openness to the offers, and the overall view is that the door should not be closed entirely to the Syrians. Similarly, many believe that the Syrian offers should be tested for their sincerity.

Nope. Can't have that. Apparently the Bush administration view is not that making concessions would be too big a reward for Syria's bad behavior. It's not even that talks would be too big a reward. Nor is it that talks with the Israelis -- no Americans involved! -- would be too big a reward. No, the American position is that even exploratory talks would be a bridge too far. Stick that in your hookah and smoke it.

However, in more positive news, Haaretz also reports that 10,000 tons of apples will be delivered to Syria from the Golan Heights. What this has to do with the rest of the story I couldn't tell you.

Then and now....

While diplomatic maneuvering continues over Turkish bases and a new United Nations resolution, inside Iraq, U.N. arms inspectors are privately complaining about the quality of U.S. intelligence and accusing the United States of sending them on wild-goose chases....So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage."

Diplomats [in Vienna] say most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran...."Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong," a senior diplomat at the IAEA said. Another official here described the agency's intelligence stream as "very cold now" because "so little panned out."

Noted without comment.

Yes, it's true: armed men are coming into Iraq from Iran.

Damn. is impressive:

Barack Obama excited at least 15,000 people at Auditorium Shores on Friday with vows to unify the United States behind high hopes for change, including bringing U.S. combat troops home from Iraq by March 2008.

Organizers say 20-22,000, but even the 15,000 mark is pretty darn impressive. No one else in the field, not even Hillary, is competing with those numbers.

At this point four years ago, us Dean people were ecstatic over Dean drawing 3,000 in Austin, and that was considered huge at the time, much bigger than what anyone else could manage. 15,000 is mind-boggling.

Obama's ability to draw a crowd is . And as long as Obama continues to as he so richly deserves, the crowds should continue to grow.

A bigot is a bigot is a bigot is a... I'm no fan of Mitt Romney, or for that matter of politicized Mormonism as it operates in Utah. But I see absolutely no excuse for running . Do you think Rudy Giuliani's mobbed-up father is going to get similar treatment? This is pure religious bigotry, and it stinks.

FOX funnies , who is upset about this 60 Minutes report on . Apparently he never saw .

Bush's next war has already begun Appearing on CNN’s Late Edition to discuss his new article, “,” Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh warned that the Bush administration is “very far along” in its plans for a war with Iran.

Among the other highlights from the interview:

– Hersh said U.S. special forces and intelligence operatives have been conducting a lot of “very aggressive” activities inside Iran on the border of Iraq.

– Inside the military, they are planning “a 24 hour package” — that is, a plan to operationalize a strike on Iran within 24 hours of Bush’s order.

– Noting Bush’s steadfast refusal to talk with Iran, Hersh said, “Maybe we just have to really listen to what he is saying. And I don’t know what can stop him because he is president.”

US funds going to al Qaeda New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the “single most explosive” element of his involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.

Hersh says the U.S. has been “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight” for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to “stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.” Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of “three Sunni jihadist groups” who are “connected to al Qaeda” but “want to take on Hezbollah.”

Hersh summed up his scoop in stark terms: “We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11.”

Ewwwww..... We're learning more about , formerly the Justice Department's top environmental official whose boyfriend, former Interior Department official and lobbyist Steven Griles, is caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In an otherwise soft-pedaled story, her hometown quotes Wooldridge as claiming that "when I was growing up I used to castrate sheep with my teeth." Oh, my. I didn't realize that was how it was done.

Corruption watch Lawmakers have continued to take trips paid for by outside groups since the House voted last month to restrict who can pay for such travel. “House travel records show that since Jan. 5 have accepted airfare, meals and lodging from special interests, including groups that employ lobbyists.”

Unions in space! Battlestar: Galactica is pretty clumsy and rushed (the dudes who write this show seem to have lost track of the multi-episode arc concept or any notion of episode-to-episode consistency) but I like to think of it as a sign of the times that for the first time I remember someone put together an episode of television that was just about . . . why unions are awesome and the human race needs them. Let's pass that , eh.

Small world “The Rev. Al Sharpton, the prominent civil rights activist, is descended from a slave owned by relatives of the late senator and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond, a genealogical study released Sunday reported.” Sharpton said the news was “.”

Simile contest: Dick Cheney attacking someone's judgment is like ____________

Fill in the blank! Impress your friends! It makes a great party game. My initial thought: Dick Cheney attacking someone's judgment is like Medusa attacking someone's appearance. Bonus points if the analogy highlights extra ridiculousness. For example: "Dick Cheney attacking someone's judgment is like the South African apartheid government attacking someone's racial sensitivity." When the moronic MSM asks, "Are you really comparing Cheney to the purveyors of apartheid?", you can respond, "Well, Cheney supported the apartheid government consistently during his time in the House; he even voted against calling for Mandela's release. Another example of perverse Cheney judgment."

Escalation update: “U.S. troops, Iraqi soldiers and officials, and Baghdad residents say the plan is hampered because security forces cannot identify, let alone apprehend, the elusive perpetrators of the violence. … said Staff Sgt. Joseph Lopez.’”

Cheney is the definition of failure Reader DB on Cheney ...

Why doesn't a prominent Democrat come out and basically repeat your post on Cheney? Why can't a Democrat on a Sunday morning talk show scream, "Cheney is a moron! He has no idea what the hell he is doing. He is an outright disaster. He should resign effective immediately and the country will be a lot better off." There really is no downside to this (of course the press may disapprove of the lack of civility but they'll get over it) if whoever says it stands by it and all the other Dems back them up. Cheney is incredibly unpopular, his policies suck and he is so far removed from reality he is a parody. The only reason he remains afloat is because he is a bully. Well it is about time someone called the bully's bluff.

So true.

Maybe not precisely those words that DB advises. But pretty damn close. In the sometimes hothouse world of blogging we go off on tears and lose sight of the fact that not everyone believes what we see as obvious. But Dick Cheney's an exceptional case. He stands on his own unique ground of ridiculousness. And because of that he's not simply a bully but a glass bully. Outside of the very hard right wing of American politics, pretty much everyone now sees that Dick Cheney is a screw-up and a moron of historic proportions. If you know more of the ins and outs of the administration's history you know that the hugest blunders were Cheney policies and the policies which weren't totally stupid were ones he fought tooth and nail. The best place to see the change even among DC establishment journalists, who used to revere him (Broder probably still does, but I think he's emeritus now) are in the set piece interviews. Each one is now followed by a Kabuki journo debrief in which half-smiling/half-awkward-looking reporters pick apart which statements seem incorrect, which are outright lies and which seem to come from a guy who's simply lost his mind.

He's the crazy uncle of American politics at this point.

You don't even have to be snide. Treat him like the joke that he is and a look of recognition and agreement will come over most people's faces.

Very cool new site debuting: . All the info behind each bill in Congress.

Bill Richardson's dark side ....A few things, of course, I do know and are serious: a history, for example, not only of womanizing but of . (Not only of females: "He hugs, pokes, jabs and tickles. If he sees a man with a bald pate, he rubs it. Looking to start a conversation, he might lean forward and head-butt someone -- male or female. Bored on an airplane flight? He'll lick his finger and smudge an aide's glasses." The full article conveys the sense of a pol whose old-school style of back-slapping bonhomie turned sociopathic long ago.) But say, Bill Clinton-style, Richardson could make the case that he's put all that behind him, or at least that such personal issues shouldn't rule out his candidacy. Is he, on the substantive merits, worthy of serious consideration by liberals?

How's that surge working out? We saw are about a suicide bomber killing more than 30 people near a college in Baghdad. But you can't get a sense of the mind-numbing insanity of the situation until you read written by one of the Iraqis on McClatchy Newspaper's staff in Baghdad, presumably before today's bombing, who fears constantly for his daughter, a college student, who like her classmates is a sitting duck during midterm exams.

Jon Stewart on the Coalition of the Leaving

Note to Dems: Quit whining So Vice President Cheney is of Speaker Pelosi, saying the Democrats' preferred policy would "validate the al-Qaeda strategy." I don't know how many times this needs to be said: stop complaining that he's questioning anybody's patriotism. Or Pelosi's judgment. Or any of it. I know it's a dicey phrase, especially when it's being employed against a woman. But I think explanatory value outweighs other sensitivities. This is a perfect example of the GOP's . Cheney criticize; Dems, Pelosi, whoever says it's unfair.

The point of the whole exercise is not the underlying issue of Pelosi but what the exchange is supposed to demonstrate about both players -- that Cheney is strong (he hits) and Pelosi is weak (she complains when attacked.)

Why complain about anything Dick Cheney says? The man is simply too big a fool to hold any job of responsibility in the national government. Think of his history of failure, terrible judgment, reckless endangerment of the country. It's hard to imagine that there's anyone in this country not under active federal surveillance who has done more to advance the al Qaeda agenda than Dick Cheney.

I know that seems like hyperbole or a throwaway line. But it's actually very true. Is America stronger now than it was before the Cheney era? Does al Qaeda have more fertile ground for proselytizing or less? Are we in a stronger or weaker position vis a vis Iran? Just one you may have missed of late. A recent poll shows that since 2002 the percentage of Arabs who say their primary identity is as Muslims rather than as Arabs or members of their specific nationality has almost doubled -- now it's at 45%. That's in just four years.

It's true. So say it. Don't whine. Don't complain. The idea that Dick Cheney is telling anyone what helps or harms al Qaeda is comic. Bleak comedy, but comic nonetheless. Say so.

Our top stories tonight:

  1. Anna Nicole Smith is still dead.
  1. Britney Spears is still bald.
  1. And Dick Cheney is still a traitor.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

George Bush Sr.: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."

Wow. Just ... wow. From the in London:

US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack

Some of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

"There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran," a source with close ties to British intelligence said. "There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible."

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. "All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

"There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations."

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented.

: Cheney plays Good Cop, Bad Cop with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The bad cop? The Democratic Congress.

The supremely incompetent VP OK, it seems we need more updates on why Dick Cheney is too dangerously incompetent to have in any position of authority, let alone the vice presidency. You'll see for instance that this morning Cheney showed up in Islamabad President Musharraf that al Qaeda is "regrouping" along the Pakistani border. Musharraf must be a little confused since, didn't we sign off on the armistice his government signed with the jihadists and their protectors just a few months ago?

More to the point, last week Cheney claimed that Nancy Pelosi's position on Iraq would validate al Qaeda since al Qaeda's goal in Iraq is to show that our will can be broken. Reed Hundt that it's far more likely that al Qaeda's goal is to bait us into ridiculous and unwinnable wars that will sap our military strength and financial power.

Now, as it happens, in response to Reed's post, commenter Tom Hilton this passage from the James Fallows wrote last year in which he wrote ...

Documents captured after 9/11 showed that bin Laden hoped to provoke the United States into an invasion and occupation that would entail all the complications that have arisen in Iraq. His only error was to think that the place where Americans would get stuck would be Afghanistan.

Bin Laden also hoped that such an entrapment would drain the United States financially. Many al-Qaeda documents refer to the importance of sapping American economic strength as a step toward reducing America’s ability to throw its weight around in the Middle East.

In other words, the actual intelligence we have about what al Qaeda wants -- not the usual stuff Dick Cheney makes up or gets from Ahmed Chalabi or his butler or whoever -- suggests we're playing right into their hands.

How many American deaths is this goof responsible for? And who in this country has done more to advance the al Qaeda agenda and make the US more vulnerable to attack?

In the "been there, done that" category comes news today about the faulty intelligence the U.S. has been providing to the IAEA about Iran's nuclear program. From the :

Although international concern is growing about Iran's nuclear program and its regional ambitions, diplomats here say most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran.

The officials said the CIA and other Western spy services had provided sensitive information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency at least since 2002, when Iran's long-secret nuclear program was exposed. But none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic Republic was developing illicit weapons.

"Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong," a senior diplomat at the IAEA said. Another official here described the agency's intelligence stream as "very cold now" because "so little panned out."

Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

"The exception that proves the rule." there are at least two possible ways in which modern day usage has corrupted the original meaning of the phrase:

It has often been suggested in reference works that prove here is really being used in the sense of "test" (as it does in terms like "proving ground")....It is said that the real idea behind the saying is that the presence of what looks like an exception tests whether a rule is really valid or not.

....[But] it's not a false sense of proof that causes the problem, but exception....The true origin of the phrase lies in a medieval Latin legal principle: exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis, which may be translated as "the exception confirms the rule in the cases not excepted"....A sign on a museum door which says "Entry free today" leads to the implication that entry is not free on other days.

This is good stuff for us pedant types. I've always bought into the "proving ground" explanation myself, but the second explanation really does sound more plausible. This is the first time I've heard it.

But here's a question: how did the phrase get corrupted in the first place? I think it must satisfy a deep human desire to avoid admitting error. After all, its current usage is so obviously absurd (an exception to a rule proves the rule is true?) that it wouldn't manage to stick around unless it satisfied some highly desirable rhetorical market niche. And it does: even in the face of indisputable evidence of error ("Actually, George Bush was shorter than John Kerry and he won anyway") it provides a snappy comeback ("He's the exception that proves the rule!") that leaves your average know-it-all windbag gasping ("Huh?"). Victory is yours! Nonsensical or not, that makes it a pretty handy handy phrase to have around, doesn't it?

But isn't ignorance bliss? -

A federal judge in Boston has dismissed a suit by two families who wanted to stop a Massachusetts town and its public school system from teaching their children about gay marriage, court documents show.

The families last year filed the suit asserting that the reading of a gay-themed book and handing out to elementary school students of other children's books that discussed homosexuality without first notifying parents was a violation of their religious rights.

Federal Judge Mark Wolf ruled on Friday that public schools are "entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy." (emphasis added)

"Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation," he said.

Those damn activist judges!

Published

February 27, 2007 - 7:47am

Author

randomness