Friday, December 31, 2004

Converting PDF's

If you need a text file, email the .pdf to
For HTML, use
To convert a URL, copy the link into the simple form here.

*You can assume that anything you send to adobe in any of these ways can be screened, monitored, or read by somebody.

It's Your Money

Myths about taxation in America, deflated.

A Uniter, Not A Divider, part 2

Bush cements neocon control of the country by disposing of the last of his father's 'moderates'.

The Appearance of Impropriety, part 1

G.O.P. to Make Ethics Inquiries Harder to Begin

In the wake of back-to-back ethics slaps at the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, House Republicans are preparing to make it more difficult to initiate ethics investigations and could remove the Republican chairman who presided over the admonishments of Mr. DeLay last fall.

'Turning the Corner', part 1

Who Let This Guy In?

David Levin, the acting Attorney General with Ashcroft out, acting before his new boss Alberto Gonzales can be ensconced, has reversed and repudiated Gonzales's controversial 'torture memo'.
'There is no exception under the statute permitting torture to be used for a "good reason." Thus, a defendant's motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute.'

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Uniter, Not A Divider, part 1

Bush to Re-Appoint Rejected Nominees | Metafilter
Of about 200 Bush appointees, only about 10 have been blocked - the most radical on the list. That's what minority parties are supposed to do, after all, and I don't begrudge them their role. I'm frankly glad they're trying to screen the outright demagogues from being confirmed, and I would hope the Repulicans would do the same, if the tables were turned.

The Dems have blocked FAR fewer Bush appointees than the Republicans did during the Clinton years, at the same time in Clinton's presidency. The Republicans are just getting greedy and thuggish, and the judiciary, and eventually the rest of us will all suffer for it, in the long run.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A pair of astronomy quizzes.

Media Follies, Part 3

U.N. official slams U.S. as 'stingy' over aid.'
... or not.
(U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland) ...referred to 'wealthy states' and 'donor states,' but at no time did he single out the United States. In fact, when a reporter asked Egeland to name the countries he believed to be "stingy," he pointedly declined to do so...

"It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. "Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."

And then there's the "UN" oil for food scandal!
Or, you know, there isn't.

But the simple and largely unreported fact is that there is no UN oil-for-food scandal. What we know from a number of sources, including an oft-cited GAO report [PDF], is that there was a Ba’ath Party oil-for-food swindle, in which Iraqi officials extracted ‘overcharges’ and kickbacks from big multinationals, then laundered the loot through a number of foreign banks. And then there’s a rumor that some UN officials were involved.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Bah, Humbug!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Media Follies, part 2

The World Turned Upside Down: Reporting 2004
It will likely stand as one of the great ironies of 2004 that after all of the scandals, lies, cover-ups, investigations, Congressional inquiries, illegal detentions and general mayhem that has marked this year, the only people being threatened with jail time in connection with the Bush administration's malfeasance are journalists.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Media Follies, part 1

The most overhyped and underreported stories of 2004, with reader responses.

And all the things we'd like to forget, that happened in 2004.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Second and Third Matrix Movies

Tor: An anonymous Internet communication system

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Your traffic is safer when you use Tor, because communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers, called onion routers. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several servers that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it's going.

PhysicsWeb - News - Highlights of the year (December 2004)

Physics highlights, in 10 categories.

A Few Bad Apples, part 3

The Australian: FBI email embroils Bush in jail abuse
...the American Civil Liberties Union released copies of a two-page FBI email dated May 22 that refers repeatedly to an executive order signed by Mr Bush which, according to the ACLU statement, "states the President directly authorised interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and sensory deprivation through the use of hoods"...

The "Steward of the Land", part 3

What political capital gets spent on:
The long-awaited rules relax longstanding provisions on environmental reviews and the protection of wildlife on 191 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They also cut back on requirements for public participation in forest planning decisions.

A Few Bad Apples, part 2

War Crimes (
THE HORRIFIC abuses by American interrogators and guards at the Abu Ghraib prison and at other facilities maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced, in part, to policy decisions and public statements of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

An inadequate response
SECRETARY OF Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld read a statement yesterday to Congress taking responsibility for the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, and he was right to do so. But Mr. Rumsfeld did not accept the fundamental nature of the problem..

Closer to the truth
TWO NEW OFFICIAL reports on the treatment of foreign prisoners have dragged the Bush administration and Pentagon brass a couple of steps closer to facing the truth..

A failure of accountability
... Though there is strong evidence of faulty and even criminal behavior by senior military commanders and members of President Bush's cabinet in the handling of foreign detainees, neither Congress nor the justice system is taking adequate steps to hold those officials accountable...

Don't blame me!
(Donald Rumsfield) "I don't think anyone would say that the intelligence left anyone with the impression that you'd be in the degree of insurgency you're in today."

Social Security, part 2

From Seeing The Forest:
Social Security runs a huge surplus, which is put into government bonds. In the 2000 election Al Gore said this money should be kept in a "lockbox," to pay back the bonds when Social Security needs it. Instead Bush said this surplus was "your money" and gave it out as tax cuts for the rich.

That tax cut WAS "your money" and it was supposed to be in safe keeping until you needed it for your retirement. Instead Bush and his cronies got their hands on it.

In 2018 Social Security stops running a surplus and needs that money to pay YOU or your parents. Bush doesn't have it because it went to tax cuts for the rich, and says that because of this Social Security is "in crisis." So we need to cut benefits, etc. But saying this 2018 problem is because of Social Security is like blaming the bank when you don't have enough to pay your mortgage payment this month, and insisting that the bank lay off employees so they won't need your money.

Jesse Jackson used to say, "get the money FROM where the money WENT."

Spread the word. Watch your backs. - How neurons work

Life, the Universe and Everything

Social Security, part 1

Basic Facts on Social Security and Proposed Benefit Cuts/Privatization, by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Even the mainstream media is catching on.
But that hasn't stopped the conservative media from trying to cover the truth.

Tort Reform, part 1

Nation's Largest Medical Malpractice Insurer Declares Caps on Damages Don't Work.
Bush's medical tort reform has already failed in Texas.

Myths about America's 'litigious' society, debunked.

Whose interests are being served here?

(Robert Nordelli, CEO of Home Depot) ...was one of several Republican donors at the conference. The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group that tracks campaign spenders, found that conference participants donated nearly $195,000 to various Republican candidates or causes in recent years, including $40,000 to Bush.

Since 1999, at least three customers and five workers have been killed in accidents in the stores.
In 2002, the number of Occupational Safety & Health Administration violations at Home Depot jumped 45 percent over 2001.

Class Warfare, part 1

A new study from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition reveals that the working poor cannot afford even the most modest apartment - let alone a home.
A two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden — the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual Out of Reach report. That's nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

A useful site for throwaway registrations. - fight spam!
Any mail sent to is publicly readable at
They have a useful filter, too. So you can read all the mail can be quite interesting) or see just mails sent to

Culture Wars, part 4

Banning books by foreign dissidents: keeping America safe.
If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war.

A Few Bad Apples, part 1

US Special Forces working with the CIA threatened Defense Intelligence Agency employees not to report abuse they witnessed.

The 'Steward of the Land", part 2

Dead in the water: how we are killing the sea.

The Rule of Law, part 1

Ten Things President Bush Doesn't Want You To Know About Scalia and Thomas.

From the op-ed pages.

An illuminative exchange from an underground Vancouver newspaper's letters to the editor section.

A resource for the psychonaut.

Culture Wars, part 3

So this is what a culture of life looks like...
Exhibit A: US Forces have been actively eliminating civilians in Iraq who've attempted to count the casualties they inflict.

Exhibit B: The next logical step after okaying torture flights of 'detainees' to Jordan and Saudi Arabia for interrogation: Evidence obtained by torture is now admissable. **note: nonworking link. Contents survive in comments. An illuminative excerpt: "Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence..."

Exhibit C: New York City's Administration for Children's Services, in a bid to make Florida's Department of Children's Services look competent and compassionate, has been using the minority, HIV+ orphans in its charge as captive Guinea pigs to test the toxicity of experimental drugs. Infants as young as three months have been force-fed double dosages of experimental medications, in an effort to find out just how much is 'safe'. Foster parents who object are accused of abuse and have their children taken away.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Iraq fundamentals, part 4

A few things about the 'intelligence' commisioned by Bush to justify the war
Denial and Deception
The Lie Factory
How Pair's Finding on Terror Led to Clash on Shaping Intelligence.
Disinfopedia entry for the Office of Special Plans.
Iraqi War Intelligence report by

Iraq fundamentals, part 3

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
A snippit from the 9-11 commission's report. The overview is that Iraq and Al-Qaeda had only "anecdotal" connections--in other words, SH and members of Al-Qaeda had met, but nothing important came of their meeting. Translation: Iraq and Al-Qaeda have no legitimate ties to each other.

President Bush had wondered immediately after the attack [on September 11] whether Saddam Hussein's regime might have had a hand in it.....

Clarke has written that on the evening of September 12, President Bush told him and some of his staff to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11. "See if Sad-dam did this," Clarke recalls the President telling them. "See if he's linked in any way."(60)....

Responding to a presidential tasking, Clarke's office sent a memo to Rice on September 18, titled "Survey of Intelligence Information on Any Iraq Involvement in the September 11 Attacks." Rice's chief staffer on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, concurred in its conclusion that only some anecdotal evidence linked Iraq to al Qaeda. The memo found no "compelling case" that Iraq had either planned or perpetrated the attacks...

Iraq fundamentals, part 2

My Bookmarks

(see comments)

Iraq fundamentals, part 1

Official statements on Iraq
Note : this link no longer functions. A partial list survives in the comments.
Unraveling the U.S. war lies
Bogus Reasons for War.
10 Appalling Lies we were told about Iraq.
The cost of war.
Bush's shifting rationale for war.

Ahmed Chalabi, part 1

Because 2004 is 20 years too late.

SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society
More useful links. It's funny because it's true. It's not even remotely funny - because it's true.

An Examination of the 2004 Elections

Election 2004 Irregularities - Florida (part 1)

The inevitable 'State of the Blogosphere' article

Blog Box - Democratic Underground
Some useful links here.

And for more general interest, the now-defunct blogging ecosystem, and its successor.

Election 2004 Irregularities - Ohio (part 1)

Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in Ohio (

Ohio voter suppression. (Contains video links)

Commentary from Paul Waldman and another video link.

Rep. John Conyers plans to object to the counting of the Ohio Electors from the 2004 Presidential election when Congress convenes to ratify those votes on January 6th.
Rep. Conyers and the other House members involved do not believe the electors have been lawfully certified. They believe that there has been too much illegal activity on the part of Blackwell, other election officials, and Republican operatives on the ground and therefore, as stated in the letter, the electors were not "lawfully certified" under state law.

Election 2004 Irregularities, part 1

Settlement in Twin Towers insurance case, and perspective

Wampum: Not Worth It To Lie To You
$4.6 billion to $7 billion settlement: not one company is adversely affected. Everyone's end-of-year balances are in nice black ink.
$4.2 billion in annual malpractice costs: screaming end of the world.

The 'Steward of the Land', part 1

Medical Journals and civilian casualties in Iraq

Wampum: You go to war with the army you have

What the Dems need to do, part 2

Culture Wars, part 2

Direction For The Democrats, part 1

The Culture Wars, part 1