Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When's This Stitch Going to Pop Loose?

Retired Marine General Paul Van Riper has added his voice to those openly calling for Rummy's dismissal. For those keeping score that's number eight now! Even the Decider must be feeling the pressure. And of course, without Rumsfield, the planned nuclear war on Iran becomes far less likely! So let's hope that humanity and reason may yet prevail.
Why do I hear thunder when I think that?

For A Human Being, Press 1

For people tired of wading through endless menus and interminable computerized systems in order to get their credit card statements or talk to a loan officer, here are instructions for bypassing 108 automated phone systems of all kinds. Happy dialing.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

From The Old News Department

This just in, yet again: the administration lied us knowingly into Iraq. 'Facts' which supported their plans were promoted despite being known to be false and dissenting voices were shelved and ignored. It was not a case of the administration being misled by bad intelligence; they knew precisely what they were doing when they misled us. Once again, our current fiasco wasn't brought about because they just didn't know any better.

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Deeper and Deeper

The Brooks Brothers riots were of course not the only direct hand this administration's had in undermining democratic process. Witness the concerted effort to keep New Hampshire Democrats away from the polls in 2002, which has been traced back to the White House itself. And just look at who's up to his eyeballs in the scandal!

As Democrats prowl through evidence in a growing phone-jamming scandal in New Hampshire, what should pop up but DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee.

Every time you think you've reached the limit - that there's no depth to which this man will not sink - he manages to surprise you yet again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Signs Point to Rove Indictment

According at least to some MSNBC bobblehead. However, he does make the point that Rove is for the first time named as a subject of the investigation, and the grand jury did hear evidence against him on Wednesday.


Whether Bush's Brain is about to be lobotomized or not, once the great unraveling begins the administration will crumble all at once. It would be interesting to watch - from a neighboring planet, perhaps.

I Wonder Why She's Frowning

Could it be that she's been given a ticket, too?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.

Look Who's Next In Line

Well, it's not Rummy, but still the cracks in the White House foundation are widening:

Joshua B. Bolten, the new White House chief of staff, has raised the possibility of moving Harriet E. Miers from her job as President Bush's counsel as part of a continuing shake-up of the West Wing, an influential Republican with close ties to Mr. Bolten said Thursday.

First she was qualified for the Supreme Court, and now she's not even up to working for this monkey's circus. Sooner or later, though, they'll run short of sacrificial lambs and will be forced to start offering up juicier oblations.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Scottie Gets Beamed Up

And Karl gets a slap on the wrist. With Karl Rove's foreign policy role taken over by the Brooks Brothers rioter, and Scottie sent home to spend more time lying to his family, the administration herd is being thinned considerably. It's anyone's guess as to who'll be next.

Dare we hope?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Quantum Shortcut

One of the more interesting nanoscale systems which rely on quantum tunneling can be found in every cell of the human body: enzymes speed reactions by transferring protons to or from their reactants by a mechanism that has been described in the April 14 issue of Science. The curious and more technically inclined are directed to this paper(.PDF) from 2002.

Up Is Down, Left Is Right

And Valerie Plame wasn't covert, according to the tired administration fallacy the New York Sun is flogging. TPM Muckraker's Justin Rood has more:

Every graf of the three-page doc was marked "Secret," including the one that mentions Valerie Plame. The Sun comes to the up-is-down conclusion that her identity, therefore, wasn't a secret.

The Sun further quotes Mr. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin - a man whose job I in no way envy:

"The fact that the whole memo was marked this way further substantiates that nobody involved in discussions of her or her role in sending Mr. Wilson had the slightest inkling she was in classified status."

Mr. Luskin will have to be a very highly-skilled attorney - and he'll need a line of bullshit a mile wide - if he intends to continue with this defense.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Money For Nothing

And isn't it a lovely thing? Mister Cheney's tax return(.PDF) is a matter of public record. And this year, thanks to all those dead folk in New Orleans, Crashcart's made out like a bandit:

It appears that the VP is a major beneficiary of the Hurricane Katrina tax relief act. In particular, he claimed $6.8 million of charitable deductions, which is 77% of his AGI -- well in excess of the 50% limitation that would have applied absent the Katrina legislation.

It's all in a good cause, right? Well, if your idea of 'charity' is lining your own pockets - wait, that does sound like this crowd, doesn't it?

Despite the importance of the Katrina legislation to his tax return, it looks like none of the charitable contributions actually went to Katrina-related charities (the press release lists the 3 charitable recipients, all of which were designated in the original 2001 gift agreement).

Cargo Cult Science

Richard Feynman compares mysticism, pedagogy, criminology, and advertising to "Cargo Cult Science", in order to illustrate an important habit of thought for the intellectually honest:

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

When It Happens Again, Someone Will Say 'Noone Could Have Predicted'

And some weisenheimer will point out this:

New Orleans's levees do not meet the standards that the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires for its flood protection program, federal officials said yesterday — and they added that the problem would take as much as $6 billion to fix.

FEMA's managing to waste $1 billion and perhaps much more in New Orleans, costs have gone so far north that large areas are going to have to remain unprotected, and still key lessons have not been learned. A review panel of civil engineers is calling for a comprehensive re-examination of New Orleans's levy system, and the Army Corps of Engineers's procedures for assessment and improvements.

The review panel, which the Corps formed to analyze the work of its own investigation of the levee failures, was responding to a March 10 report by the investigators. The report found that the designers of the levees and floodwalls had not anticipated that floodwaters might push the floodwall away from the soil base, allowing water to course down into the gap and push the structure aside.

A 1988 report by the Corps showed that such a chain of events was possible. That and other studies, apparently, "never triggered an assessment of the impact that such a gap would have on the stability of the existing levee and floodwall system," the panel of engineers said.

The Corps investigators' report said a second factor in the 17th Street Canal failure was soft soils behind the levee that did not withstand the push from within the canal.

So just like last time - we saw it coming.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And Now, The Despair

This commentary on the state of the media vis-a-vis our upcoming disaster in Iran comes courtesy of Billmon:

Even by the corrupt and debased standards of our times, this is a remarkable thing. The U.S. government is planning aggressive nuclear war (the neocons can give it whatever doublespeak name they like, but it is what it is); those plans have been described in some detail in a major magazine and on the front page of the Washington Post; the most the President of the United States is willing to say about it is that the reports are "speculative" (which is not a synonym for "untrue") and yet as I write these words the lead story on the CNN web site is:

ABC pushes online TV envelope

ABC is going to offer online streams of some of its most popular television shows, including "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," for free the day after they first air on broadcast TV.

It appears our long national journey towards complete idiocy is over. We've arrived.

And They Knew They Were Lying, Too

There will always remain a certain number of people determined to believe that the administration meant well in Iraq, but was deceived by faulty intelligence.

Likely they won't read this article:

...A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Brown Note

Or, a news brief with much the same effect: disgraced former FEMA director Michael Brown has met with St. Bernard Parish councilmembers in his new role as head of an independent disaster management consulting business. What role they have in mind for him to play in the rebuilding we don't know, but let's not rule out the "auxiliary sandbag" idea.

Of course, he's also skilled at finding other people to blame - which may really be what attracted the council's notice.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Is This What It Will Take?

We should have known he was in this up to his little beady eyes in 2003, when he made such a point of how much he hated leaks. Scooter Libby has testified that Bush authorized the leaking of classified information:

US President George W Bush authorised the leak of secret intelligence to a newspaper to help defend the Iraq war, a former White House aide has said.

Of course, this still isn't what will send this administration over the falls. Firstly, it's a 'he-said, he-said': Mr. Libby -said- Crashcart -said- Bush -said- it was okay. They can bloviate and spin and deny and stall until pigs buy plane tickets.

Secondly, though, the idea of accountability's gained a certain intrinsic irony in the last six years. Remember that when Scooter also implicated Dick Cheney, nothing at all happened. Hell, Crashcart shot a guy and nothing came of it. New Orleans drowned, 2000+ unarmored American troops came home in body bags - and let's not forget that Osama guy - and still nothing happens.

And some folks have the gall to call Bill Clinton 'slick'.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Help, I'm Being Oppressed!

"... but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." -- the Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI Clause 3

Godlessgeeks offers a brief collection of examples of states which violate the above-quoted clause and openly practice religiously-motivated discrimination. Neither Pat Robertson nor Jesse Jackson appears eager to redress any of these errors, oddly enough...

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court." -- Arkansas State Constitution, Article 19 Section 1 ("Miscellaneous Provisions")

"...nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come." -- Maryland's Declaration of Rights, Article 36(.PDF)

"No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state." --Mississippi State Constitution. Article 14 ("General Provisions"), Section 265

"The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God." -- North Carolina's State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8

"No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth." -- Pennsylvania's State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4

"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state." -- Tennessee's State Constitution, Article 9 Section 2(.PDF)

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." -- Texas' State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4

This is all especially ironic given last December's 2-day conference regarding America's "War on Christians", where Tristan Emmanuel offered his opinion:

"It doesn't rise to the level of persecution that we would see in China or North Korea..." - where Christians are put to death - "... But let's not pretend that it's okay."

The Rev. Robert M. Franklin offers a more reasonable view:

"This is a skirmish over religious pluralism, and the inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position...

Then and Now

"We don't know how close he is today, but a Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon is a grave, grave threat to America and our friends and allies." -- Dubya, November 12, 2002

"There are a number of terrorist states pursuing weapons of mass destruction -- Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, just to name a few -- but no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." -- Rummy, September 19, 2002

"We have now been there for some two months and been covering [Iraq] in ever wider sweeps and we haven't found any smoking guns." -- Hans Blix, January 9, 2003

Next verse same as the first:

"Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world." -- Dubya, January 16, 2006

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran." -- Dubya again, March 16, 2006

"If you're impervious to the lessons you've just come out of you're brain-dead." -- Condi, March 31, 2006

"We have time on our side in this case. Iran can't have a bomb ready in the next five years," Blix was quoted as saying." -- Hans Blix again, April 3, 2006

Those who cannot learn from history - will always have a place in this administration. But you'd think we could at least learn who to listen to!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Army Bans Privately Obtained Armor

At first I took this for an April Fool's article, but the dateline's a day late: The Army that failed to protect its soldiers has forbidden them from protecting themselves. The PR debacle of soldiers's families scraping together the price of a bulletproof vest to send to their servicemen overseas has been dealt with.

The Army's predicating their move on concerns for quality assurance, but reading between the lines it's also a cost-cutting measure:

... last October, after months of pressure from families and members of Congress, the military began a reimbursement program for soldiers who purchased their own protective equipment.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Lying in International Politics

John Mearsheimer, one of the current leaders of the Realist school of thought on international relations, has some interesting views on the use of deceit in managing populations and manipulating allied nations. From his address at the American Political Science Association's 2004 annual meeting:

Elites fear-monger because they believe that their public (or their political system) is incapable of dealing effectively with threats to national security, and therefore the people must be lied to so that they do the right thing. The underlying assumption is that the people do not know what is best for their country. In effect, the masses are asses, while the leaders are wise and prescient. Fear-mongering is anti-democratic at its core and it is also a pure top-down form of behavior.

Mr. Mearsheimer has been an outspoken critic(.PDF) of the Iraq War.