Scientists beg to differ

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 Relatives of Soldiers Killed in Iraq Mourn
Another sad story that except their family and friends, will for the most part fade into the nation's collective memeory of many tragedies caused by an unnecessary war war based on lies. Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker are already being used by the right as bloody tokens of of their self righteous hypocrisy. These soldiers were killed by terrorists that were able to occupy Iraq for one reason that should never be forgotten, George Bush's lies and incompetence at dealing with both terrorism and Iraq. It is unfortunate, with the deepest respect for his memory and sacrifice that Tucker and his family believed that he was in Iraq protecting America. As far as threats go Iraq was and is a more of a threat to itself and its own people then the United States. It is not and never could have been the "front" in the war on terror". There is no front when you're facing a transnational organization. THEY, the terrorists are simply out there. Seeing Iraq in terms of winning something there that will end Islamic terrorism is just an illusion or rather its a product that has been packaged and sold to the American public like a sick gag gift. Iraq has created more terrorists, more terrorism and drained our resources from tracking down terrorists and building diplomatic bridges to those that would much rather live in peace then constant fear. These two soldiers did not die for nothing; because of Bush's hubris and incompetence there are troops in Iraq and they have daily missions to complete and despite some pretty awful incidents the mass of those soldiers and marines have acted with honor and courage; everyday that Bush and his unhinged supporters insist on continuing on the same course that has caused so much unnecessary death and hardship for so many, is just another day that we risk losing some more good citizens not because the terrorists are winning, but because Bush and his right-wing echoes do not know how to win. Since they have insisted on winning something that they cannot define and following the same wrong headed strategy over and over again one can only assume that there is something deeply disturbed about these neocons, these pretend patriots. Something that if it is not madness is all too close to madness.
Like most American's of every political shade I supported going to Afghanistan after Bin Laden and while Bush and Company managed to blow that too ( too many bombs hitting too many women and children, plus letting Bin Laden get away) I was still willing to give Bush something like a pass. The kind of pass I'd give anyone. We're all human we all screw-up now and then, but if any country was ripe for nation building it was Afghanistan, a country that is relatively isolated from the hectic deep divisions of the middle-east, but in large part because Bush and his conservative cheerleaders wanted to move on to Iraq, Afghanistan was left as the poor stepchild and we continue to pay the price for that, Revived Taliban waging 'full-blown insurgency'

Four and a half years after they overthrew the Islamic militia that had controlled much of Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces have been forced to ramp up the battle to stabilize this impoverished, shattered country. More than 10,000 U.S., Canadian, British and Afghan government troops are scouring southern and eastern Afghanistan in a campaign called Operation Mountain Thrust.

Even before fighting heated up this spring, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, warned Congress that the insurgents "represent a greater threat" to the pro-U.S. government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai "than at any point since late 2001."

News like this should, in a rational world make even Bush supporters, largely the far right fringe at this point pause and wonder about the neocon crews tactical competence. We are now basically fighting the second war in Afghanistan because Bush couldn't get the first one right daisy cutter bombs and all.
If in 2000 or 2004 we put a two dozen high profile conservatives in a room and picked one at random what are the odds that a more incompetent pathological liar could have been chosen as president then G. W. Bush, The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light

One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics —

Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress,

No one that is concerned, genuinely concerned about terrorism and the loss of life can support these mad men. We're way beyond hyperbole in describing the cretins that run this country. I have these old fashioned ideals about political discourse as many Americans still do even in this age of Rovian character assassination, but how do you engage in rational discourse with mad men, and supporters that seem even more rabid. This post from Unclaimed Territory points out some of the problems we face, Why respond to Malkin?

As a quick example of the process of transmission, let's look at Malkin for a case in point. Michelle claims that conservatives "zealously police their own ranks" to guard against extremism. I already wrote a post about her apologetics for Coulter's extremism, but what about Malkin herself? Does she transmit extremist views? Yes, she does. As Alex Koppelman has noted, Malkin keeps in her blogroll VDare.com, an organization that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group with ties to white supremacism and which runs Malkin's syndicated columns.* The interesting thing about Koppelman's link is that he frames his post with a rant from Bill O'Reilly about how "far left" extremists are allowed on television to push their views but right-wing extremists like the KKK aren't, followed by O'Reilly bringing on Michelle Malkin who gives extremist views a

Hume's Ghost does a very nice job of explaining why the cultish likes of Malkin-Coulter-O'Reilly need to be confronted. It is not enough to leave comments on posts calling them names. For those that write blogs or send e-mails and faxes, you have to get at the grist of what they are spouting and say why and how it is wrong. If you're one of those people that is good at injecting a clever retort or humor into your rebuttal that's great, but just calling them hate mongers, which they are, is not enough.

This woman who has the nerve to assert that God endorses her politics alone has apparently never read Exodus 20:16: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." She asserts that "liberals" are "godless". Apparently, Jimmy Carter, possibly the most devout President in US history, didn't get the memo. She asserts that evolution is a "liberal" religion which has no evidence supporting it. Scientists beg to differ.

The party of puritanical hypocrites appears to be running on the adultery platform in 2008, The Good Husbands

Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report has an interesting piece in the latest issue of The Washington Monthly, noting that three of the top potential Republican candidates are admitted adulterers.

and a direct link to Steve, High Infidelity

Lurking just over the horizon are liabilities for three Republicans who have topped several national, independent polls for the GOP's favorite 2008 nominee: Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.

and in his joy, made bigger and bigger stitches

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Distribution map of the world's religions.
Considering their large land distribution it is interesting that the world hears so little cultural noise from the Eastern Orthodox and Buddhists.

Interesting story from The Jerusalem Post, US rejected Iranian overtures in 2003

Officials in US President George W. Bush's administration turned down a 2003 Iranian offer to begin talks with the US, recognize Israel, and end support of Palestinian terror organizations, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The proposal, which arrived via fax along with a letter of authentication by a Swiss ambassador, was ignored. Reports have circulated in the past that Iran had extended its hand to the US, but the document itself was only recently obtained by the Post – reportedly from Iranian sources – and confirmed as genuine by both American and Iranian officials.

And this last bit from a conservative that now holds the office once held by Thomas Jefferson. A lesson in how history is full of irony,

"What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who when Teheran faxed its proposal was serving as Bush's national security adviser. "Now it is Iran and the international community, and Iran has to answer to the international community. I think that's the strongest possible position to be in," Rice said.

Is Rice saying that the international community wasn't concerned about Iran three years ago. Or is she saying that the United States is too weak to deal with Iran on its own. Obviously when you have conservatives extremists dealing with the world with their candy colored wing tipped notions of how the world works that creates a huge obstacle to getting anything constructive done, but just as big an obstacle is their deep and unabiding incompetence. Then there is the propaganda snowball that they feel they must roll over everyone and the ensuing bitterness when they see that not everyone is buying.

3 U.S. Soldiers Accused of Murder and Death Threat

All three soldiers, assigned to the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, were placed in pretrial confinement in Iraq last Thursday to await hearings to determine whether they will face courts-martial, officials said.

The charge sheets list 12 separate instances in which the suspects threatened a specific private first class with death if he assisted investigators.

The charge sheets quote the suspects as saying, " 'I will kill you if you tell anyone,' or words to that effect," and " 'You better not talk or I will kill you,' or words to that effect."

Military officials said over the weekend that the allegations of wrongdoing were brought to light by an enlisted soldier.

Bad apples and good apples still adds up to tragedy. One of the reasons, and there are many, that this latest apparent war crime is tragic is because it serves as an excuse for the other side to act even more brutally and reject mercy, US vows to search for kidnapped soldiers, al-Qaeda claims abduction

'Over 8,000 US military and Iraqi army and police are working together, conducting an intensive search operation to determine the status of these soldiers. We are using every means at our disposal,' Major General William Caldwell said in a press statement.

Caldwell said the US army is stepping up intelligence and surveillance efforts and is conducting extensive raids in search of the two soldiers, during which three suspected insurgents were killed and 34 detainees held.

No telling what hell these guys are going through and their fate may well have been sealed regardless of Haditha or the alleged killings by the three members of the Airbourne, but incidents like those give the enemy the upper hand in terms of the psychological war. When the Haditha story broke Rep. John Murtha said that one of the consequences of these long and frequent deployments was the stress that it puts the soldiers and marines. So the trail of responsibility always leads back to the same place, Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney. Pro war or anti-war, once boots were placed on the ground in Iraq we owed those troops the best leadership that America has. Its obvious to all but the right-wing fringe that the current leadership has failed our armed forces and our country.

He laid the bread near him, sewed on, and in his joy, made bigger and bigger stitches. In the meantime the smell of the sweet jam ascended so to the wall, where the flies were sitting in great numbers, that they were attracted and descended on it in hosts. “Hola! who invited you?” said the little tailor and drove the unbidden guests away. The flies, however, who understood no German, would not be turned away, but came back again in ever-increasing companies.

from The Valiant Little Tailor by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

0f course, the working-classes should be represented

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I'm a little late with this story as June 16 was the 102nd Bloomsday, THE INJUSTICE COLLECTOR Is James Joyce’s grandson suppressing scholarship?

Over the years, the relationship between Stephen Joyce and the Joyceans has gone from awkwardly symbiotic to plainly dysfunctional. In 1988, he took offense at the epilogue to Brenda Maddox’s “Nora,” a biography of Joyce’s wife, which described the decades that Joyce’s schizophrenic daughter, Lucia, spent in a mental asylum. Although the book had already been printed in galleys, Maddox, fearing a legal battle, offered to delete the section; the agreement she signed with Stephen also enjoined her descendants from publishing the material. Shortly afterward, at a Bloomsday symposium in Venice, Stephen announced that he had destroyed all the letters that his aunt Lucia had written to him and his wife. He added that he had done the same with postcards and a telegram sent to Lucia by Samuel Beckett, with whom she had pursued a relationship in the late nineteen-twenties.

“I have not destroyed any papers or letters in my grandfather’s hand, yet,” Stephen wrote at the time. But in the early nineties he persuaded the National Library of Ireland to give him some Joyce family correspondence that was scheduled to be unsealed. Scholars worry that these documents, too, have been destroyed. He has blocked or discouraged countless public readings of “Ulysses,” and once tried unsuccessfully to halt a Web audiocast of the book.

Amazing article and lets just say that Stephen is not exactly pro Commons when it comes to copyright law. I thought the original twenty-eight years was plenty of time to make personal profit, but as it is now, anything with a traditional copyright will likely not become available without restriction in your lifetime. And this is sad, I had thought that Ireland had considered Joyce a source of pride,

And then there were the Irish. If he ever had the energy, he said, he would write a book on “the shitty treatment my grandmother and grandfather got from their country of origin.” Nora had contemplated reburying Joyce’s body on native soil—he had been buried in Zurich during the Second World War—but Irish officials rebuffed the idea. Worse, when Joyce died, Ireland did not send a representative to his funeral. Stephen had been almost nine, and he saw the family’s dismay. “I will never forgive that,” he said.

I sympathize to some degree, and I mean only some with Stephen Joyce's antipathy toward those that would dissect his grandfather's work down to the bone, sometimes infusing it more with their own flights of imagination that what the work actually was intended to mean, but Stephen should understand that whether it is allowed now or later, whatever analysis the academic world or avid fans of Joyce's work want to do will be done. You can't stop people from discussing literary work, interpreting it or misinterpreting it. Maybe Stephen should realize that the more they're discussing his grandfather's work the more that work becomes part of our culture. I would think that a more fitting tribute to his grandfather.

Why people did what they did or didn't do in history is sometimes open to interpretation, but what they did is sometimes so well documented that interpreting certain events or twisting them to one's ideological ends just makes you look less then bright; Tony Snow is fitting right in with the right-wing conservative's weekly attempts to twist history.Bush's Abuse of History, Snow's Battle of Bilge

SNOW: "The president understands people's impatience — not impatience but how a war can wear on a nation. He understands that. If somebody had taken a poll in the Battle of the Bulge, I dare say people would have said, wow, my goodness, what are we doing here?

Tony would best serve the nation by "dare say" something that resembles the truth,

So let me get this straight. The NYT editorial says, "This state of affairs calls not merely for watchfulness on the part of the allies but also for the recovery of the general control of strategy as soon as possible."

So Tony Snow thinks a poll would have shown that the US public was shaking in its booties at the Battle of the Bulge? He thinks the New York liberal press was calling for an abandonment of the war? What a steaming crock!

I dare say that Tony and George bite their toe nails and its the toughest job that've ever tackled and they probably can't do that right either.

AP Enterprise: 9/11 Thefts Not Prosecuted

A disaster relief company that took supplies that were supposed to go to Sept. 11 rescuers at the World Trade Center escaped punishment after the government discovered its own employees had stolen artifacts from ground zero, once-secret federal documents show.

Kieger Enterprises (KEI) of Lino Lakes, Minn., managed a Long Island warehouse for the government that was filled with supplies donated by Americans for the rescue workers.

The FBI developed evidence from whistleblowers that the company had dispatched trucks to the warehouse and loaded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated bottled water, clothes, tools and generators to be moved to Minnesota in a plot to sell some for profit, the records show.

Dan L'Allier, a Kieger supervisor at the time, told The Associated Press he witnessed 45 tons of the New York loot being unloaded in Minnesota at his company's headquarters. He and a colleague, Chris Christopherson, complained to a company executive but were ordered to keep quiet.

They went instead to the FBI. The two whistleblowers eventually lost their jobs, received death threats and were blackballed in the disaster relief industry. But they remained convinced their sacrifice was worth it to make sure justice was done.

Let's see a company steals, isn't prosecuted for that, and the people that reported the crimes received death threats and are blackballed. Gosh, who or what kind of people would do such things. People with values? People that are patriots? People that care about their country? People with high moral standards? No, the conservative culture of corruption and cowardice. Edward Kieger of Kieger Enterprises is listed on Political Money Line as a Republican Party contributor. Maybe Ed and company thought that stealing those supplies had something to do with the Battle of the Bulge. That may sound ridiculous to the average person, but then the average American doesn't think like a conservative. I wouldn't suggest trying to think like a conservative, the ritual from what I understand involves killing quite a few brain cells, lots of kool-aid, and some kind of deal with the underworld. Or maybe it just seems like that's the case.

"It is because Colgan's a working — man you say that? What's the difference between a good honest bricklayer and a publican — eh? Hasn't the working-man as good a right to be in the Corporation as anyone else — ay, and a better right than those shoneens that are always hat in hand before any fellow with a handle to his name? Isn't that so, Mat?" said Mr. Hynes, addressing Mr. O'Connor.

"I think you're right," said Mr. O'Connor.

"One man is a plain honest man with no hunker-sliding about him. He goes in to represent the labour classes. This fellow you're working for only wants to get some job or other."

"0f course, the working-classes should be represented," said the old man.

"The working-man," said Mr. Hynes, "gets all kicks and no halfpence. But it's labour produces everything. The workingman is not looking for fat jobs for his sons and nephews and cousins. The working-man is not going to drag the honour of Dublin in the mud to please a German monarch."

from Ivy Day In The Committee Room by James Joyce

And there’s still a helluva lotta people out there who wanna believe …

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Bruce Schneier has a way of shaking things up when it comes to the conventional wisdom on national security, TALES FROM THE CRYPT(OGRAPHER)

What's wrong with this enormous aggregation of data?
It's very troubling, because it goes to the heart of liberty and individuality. The right to do things while not being watched is very fundamental to humanity, whether we sing in the shower or have private conversations with friends. If we are constantly under gaze, we can't experiment as human beings. When we know we're being watched, our lives are altered, even if we're doing nothing wrong … Amazon.com can collect my data—actually, I like it when they present me with books I might want to buy—and we gladly trade data for convenience. What we don't like is when we lose control over it, when it goes into the hands of data brokers and is used for things we're not aware of.

What's the biggest threat to our privacy?
The confluence of corporate and government interests. Right now, data that is illegal for the government to collect, they buy from corporations. And data that corporations can't possibly get, they buy from the government. So there's this confluence. And it's not because someone is being malicious. It's because that's where technology is leading us. Corporations are not public charities. They will do whatever will make them the most profit that's legal.

I'm just impressed with how down to earth and practical the guy is. There is an inherent amount of BS in every facet of an increasingly complex society it is probably in our best interests to put a premium on people that are able to break through some of the smoke and mirrors.

It is probably far past time that the so-called "conservative" party declare themselves for what they are. They are not patriots, they are ultra-nationalists. They are anything but conservative, they are the radical right fringe. While the christianists only make up about 24 percent of the radical right, Wall St. right-wingers have formed an unholy alliance with them and are thus enablers of a movement that resembles the Taliban more then the Minutemen. That a few people are rejecting the label "patriot" is testament to the success that the ultra-nationalists have had in giving patriotism a bad name. I still think of myself as a patriot, but I have to admit to a general irritation at those that have wrapped their garbage in the flag ( Bush, Malkin, O'Reilly, Coulter, Dobson, etc.) and then tap it down with their bible. On the perverse ideological scale there isn't much difference between them and the worse authoritarian movements of the last 100 years. The last Republican president we had was Dwight Eisenhower. He actually believed in small government, in compassionate effective government. Look behind the curtain on every domestic issue and there is a right-winger that wants big government intruding into the most personal aspects of your life. On every foreign policy issue the fringe right demands every American's lock step obedience; if you dare exercise your first amendment rights you are a traitor ( It seems that a rational person would see lying a nation into war as treachery). That deeply dangerous rigidity of thought resembles nothing even close to American values. If these people reject America's core values how can they call themselves patriots. If moderate minded Americans stepped back and let the right-wingers of the modern Republican Party have their way there would be nothing left of America, there would be just another authoritarian state doomed to failure. For a party that fully embraces Armageddon and its inherent nihilism that assertion probably doesn't bother them in the least since in their view we're all doomed anyway.

I link to this with reservations. I fall in the habit like many of calling non-extremists Muslims moderates. Inherent in all organized religions is an element of the non-rational. As such people that are very religious may never be truly moderate in their thinking. On the other hand many spiritual people are committed to helping others and are generally non-violent. Seeing the current state of the world those that are making some attempt to reach out to "moderate" Muslims should be welcomed and encouraged if only for pragmatic reasons. At least pragmatic for those of us not on the far right fringe, the fringe that seems addicted to the porn of war. U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground

They say that Islam must be rescued from extremists who selectively cite Islamic scripture to justify terrorism. Though Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir do not denounce particular scholars or schools of thought, their students say the two are challenging the influence of Islam's more reactionary sects, like Wahhabism and Salafism, which has been spread to American mosques and schools by clerics trained in Saudi Arabia. Where Wahhabism and Salafism are often intolerant of other religions — even of other streams within Islam — Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir teach that Islam is open to a diversity of interpretations honed by centuries of scholars.

Mr. Yusuf told the audience in Houston to

"That's not Islam,

He asked the audience to pray for the victims of kidnappers in Iraq, saying that kidnapping is just as bad as American bombings in which the military dismisses the civilians killed as "collateral damage."

HAIG
You've never been a greater example to
the country than you are now, sir, but
… but you need to get out more, sir,
and talk to the people. No one I know
feels … close to you.

Nixon looks at him, moved by his concern.

NIXON
I was never the buddy-buddy type, Al.
You know, "Oh I couldn't sleep last
night, I was thinking of my mother who
beat me" — all that kind of crap, you
know the psychoanalysis bag … My
mother … The more I'd spill my guts,
the more they'd hate me. I'd be what
… pathetic! If I'd bugged out of
Vietnam when they wanted, do you think
Watergate would've ever happened? You
think the Establishment would've given
a shit about a third-rate burglary?
But did I? Quit? Did I pull out?

He stares, waits.

HAIG
No, sir, you did not.

NIXON
Damn right. And there's still a
helluva lotta people out there who
wanna believe … That's the point,
isn't it? They wanna believe in the
President.

from the screenplay NIXON By STEPHEN J. RIVELE, CHRISTOPHER WILKINSON AND OLIVER STONE

And I’ll keep kicking the crap till it’s gone

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Yea OK, there is some speculation or rather thinking out loud here, The Zarqawi docs… seriously, now.. Nothing wrong with speculation or at least that is the impression I get from the right, ranging from The Weekly Standard to the Op-Ed page of The WSJ. It is all too often the case that the fringe conservative right's speculation today becomes urban legend tomorrow. So when Mr Aardvark speculates that all may not be well as far as the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi documents cache, he may not be completely wrong. After all Bush and Crew did play around with the wording on the National Intelligence Estimate and that is not speculation, that is a liberal bias for the facts. Aardvark points us to this piece in WaPo, Maliki Aide Who Discussed Amnesty Leaves Job

The authenticity of the document, which closely echoes accounts of insurgent strategy offered by Iraq's Shiite political leaders, could not be independently verified. It was written in a style different from typical statements issued by al-Qaeda in Iraq, which refer to Shiites as "rejectionists" or "dogs" and to U.S. forces as "crusaders."

It may turn out that most of the documents found have yielded some real actionable intelligence and even if they do not I would still mark it up to a psych-ops victory for all the parties involved from the CIA, Army, etc. Good for them for getting a bad guy and throwing a little scare into Al-Queda.

For those that would like more options, join the Pirate Party

With a name like The Existentialist Cowboy for your blog you run the chance of not living up to high expectations, but Len manages very well in this post about Bush and the dumping down of America's moral center, How America lost its moral authority throughout the world

I am frankly surprised that Bush maintained the pretense when he has since arrogated unto himself the power to define terrorists. "Terrorists" are what Bush says they are. Bush is the judge and jury. Detainees are never charged and, by Bushs' own words, "suspects" are caused to be "…no longer a problem". Others are "terrorists" not because they are "terrorists" but because Bush —the decider —says they are. Some may be combatants. Some may be "evil doers". Others may be innocent. No matter. Bush —the all powerful decider —has thrown them all in the same wire cage, the same suicide factory.

No one thinks that known terrorists should be set free, the disturbing part is that we don't know which of the detainees at Gitmo are innocents that have been caught just being in the wrong place at the wrong time or are truly enemy combatants. Since Bush's supporters have a knee jerk habit of accusing anyone that questions the decider-in-chief's decisions of being pro terrorist it is little wonder that many Americans are questioning whether Bush and conservatives, our current ministers of power, are rational enough to decide who is a terrorist and who isn't. ( Paige calls NEA 'terrorist organization'). There is that mindset that thinks along the lines that anyone arrested/taken into custody must have done something wrong, combined with a blind faith in Bush's infallibility, and maybe the inability to feel compassion for some nameless faceless guy in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, or some other prison speaks to a moral vacuum in America. A cadre of political partisans that is all too willing to give into their most base instincts for reasons that cannot be justified in terms of humanity or strategy.

I don't know quite how to describe this site, an interesting mix of parody, music and a grab bag of assorted goings-on, DailySonic

I'm much better off, the way things are
Much much better off, better by far
So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on
And I'll keep kicking the crap till it's gone
If you keep on killing, you could get me to settle
And as soon as I settle, I bet I'll be
Able to move on
How can I fight, when we're on the same side
How can I fight beside you
So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on
Ans I'll keep on kicking the crap will it's gone
If you keep on killing, you could get me to settle
And as soon as I settle, I bet I'll be
Able to move on
lyrics from The Way Things Are by Fiona Apple

The bitterness, the folly and the pain

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Another day another conservative cover-up, Follow the Money — If You Can …

Remember that $9 billion that somehow got “lost” in Iraq? Boxes of cash were shipped from the Federal Reserve to Iraq, where a former Coalition Provisional Authority official testified that our guys were playing football with blocks of $100 bills and an investigator described the atmosphere as “a free-fraud zone.” The U.S. government was supposed to follow up on that somewhat dismaying discovery with an audit — but that has now been nixed by President George W. Bush, who recently issued a presidential “finding” that heads off an investigation at the pass:

Congressional Pay .vs. Federal Minimum Wage

– The current minimum wage of $5.15, is the lowest minimum wage since 1949 (In 2005 Dollars)
– The highest ever minimum wage was $8.85 /hr in 1968 (2005 dollars)
-In the 20 year period between 1961 and 1981, U.S. workers making minimum wage made an average of $7.76 / hr (2005 dollars). During the past 11 years, since the Republican “Contract with America” began, U.S. workers making the minimum wage made an average of $5.58 / hr (2005 dollars)

This is just a snip, there is quite a bit more with analysis and charts at the link.

Less Housing for Residents of Average Pay, Report Says

The number of New York City apartments considered affordable to hundreds of thousands of moderate-income households — with incomes like those of starting firefighters and police officers — plunged by 17 percent between 2002 and 2005, according to a new report by researchers at New York University.

The report, to be released today, for the first time puts hard numbers on a cost squeeze that has intensified with the real estate boom. The researchers found that the number of apartments affordable to households earning about $32,000 a year, or 80 percent of the median household income in the city, has dropped by 205,000 in just three years.

Senate Rejects Call for Iraq Withdrawal

House Republicans depicted the conflict in Iraq as part of a worldwide war against terror and "radical Islam."

This is a dangerous delusional narrative that conservatives continue to sell. The war in Iraq has done nothing to bring down the number of Islamic terrorists in the world. By continuing to make that argument conservative risk a majority of Americans putting the pieces together and realizing that if Iraq was the front of the so-called terror war and Bush couldn't win it in four years with America's vast military power that would mean that Bush is a total failure at fighting terror. There were no terrorist in Iraq before Bush invaded. They poured in after the invasion. The insurgents make up the bulk of the military opposition in Iraq. Conservatives can't decide who the enemy is so they've decided to create some monster that is just out there and if you're not yelling the sky is falling along with the stiff backed chorus you're against America,

"Many — but not all — on the other side of the aisle lack the will to win," said Representative Charlie Norwood, a Georgia Republican. "The American people need to know precisely who they are." He added, "It is time to stand up and vote. Is it Al Qaeda, or is it America?"

Why is he conflating the war in Iraq with Al-Qaeda. We know that Al-Qaeda came into Iraq after the invasion because Bush and Rummy didn't use enough troops to seal the borders, but even now they only make up a minority of the oppostion forces,

The numbers vary wildly and cannot be authenticated accurately but one point must be reiterated: the number of foreign militants represents a small percentage —

A related point is that the expansion of the American "war on terror," particularly the invasion and occupation of Iraq, radicalized a large segment of Iraqi society and Arab public opinion and played directly into the hands of Al Qaeda and other militants. "Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," U.S. Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2005.

This was written before Zarqawi's death and we've since heard about the documents that suggest that Al-Qeada feels that it is losing the battle in Iraq. Norwood, Bush and the conservative movement has created history's biggest cluster fuck: they merge Iraq and Al-Qaeda into one monster, instead of concentrating on Al-Qaeda they make a side trip into Iraq, they don't use enough troops to keep out foreign fighters, Al-Qaeda enters Iraq because of the invasion killing Americans and Iraqis, this further merges Iraq and Al-Qaeda into the psyche of America, we've destabilized the region, Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups are still thriving. If we are losing its not because a few Democrats have dared to shake their heads in disgust about how conservatives have turned bungled into an art form, its because conservatives have been a combination of incompetent, blind and arrogant. Where we had a problem with terrorism before, conservatives have magnified the problem by declaring war on an inflatable doll of terrorism; they keep blowing it up by way of a deep ineptitude making it bigger and bigger. Conservatives are clinging desperately to Iraq because that seems to be the only thing they understand. There are easily imagined sides with our troops on one side and everybody else on the other. Bush and conservatives have said that this is not like a conventional war and its not, but they keep trying to fight it as though it were. More then once over the last few years I've read Bush supporters on the far right sites talk about bombing Iraq into dust. We could do that and terrorism would still be out there. Its like saying that there are gangs in America and we decide that Detroit is the worse place for gangs and bomb Detroit into rubble, we'd still have gangs. Conservatives have taken this strange scatter shot approach to terrorism where what is needed is a plan that is more focused and effective. Sure some terrorists have been killed, but we're not getting the kind of return we should be getting considering the amount of lives and tax dollars that have been spent. (update from WaPo today, Terrorist Attacks Rose Sharply in 2005, State Dept. Says

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials yesterday.

Although only half of the incidents resulted in loss of life, more than 14,600 noncombatants were killed, a majority of them in Iraq alone and 80 percent in the Near East and South Asia. American nonmilitary deaths totaled 56.

The figures were compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and released with the annual State Department Country Reports on Terrorism.

Unlike those of previous years, the 2005 report included a "strategic assessment" of the war on terrorism, which concluded that while "al-Qaeda is not the organization it was four years ago," the group was "adaptive and resilient . . . and important members of its core cadre remained alive and were adjusting to our operational tempo."

"Overall," the 262-page report said, "we are still in the first phase of a potentially long war. The enemy's proven ability to adapt means we will probably go through several more cycles of action/reaction before the war's outcome is no longer in doubt. It is likely that we will face a resilient enemy for years to come."

The assessment was somewhat more grim than those offered by the White House in recent months. Although the struggle against global terrorism is far from over, President Bush said in a February speech at the Naval Academy that "we're winning."

With 70% percent of terroists attacks outside of Iraq that would mean that Iraq has not turned out to be the flypaper that would occupy all the terrorists and that Iraq is hardly the "front" in the battle against terrorism.

His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why,
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

from Abraham Lincoln walks at Midnight by Vachel Lindsay

He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun

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I ended up posting for most of last week about terrorism and perspective. Perspective is difficult to define in comparison to something that can be analyized and quantitated into a nice value. If I was interested in selling perspective to the fringe right which makes up the bulk of the conservative movement it would be a daunting task considering that it is a movement that has no problem on a daily basis of rejecting rational empirical thought. In this post at Kuro5hin, Terrorism? I don't care… the writer starts off with an unfortunately titled post, but does make some good points,

According to the Commission for Global Road Safety about 1.2 million people are killed and 50 million injured every year in traffic accidents (source).
Natural disasters took 241,400 human lives in 2004 alone (source).
And although the numbers are declining cancer still caused appr. 563,700 deaths in the US alone in 2004 (source).

Compare these figures to the alleged world-wide 2,929 terror-induced deaths since in the 5 years since 9/11, a number provided by the Bush-administration itself (source).

Though acts of terrorism are spectacular and get an amazing amount of media-coverage they actually have very little real impact compared to other factors. It's just not very likely to ever affected by an act of terrorism, let alone be killed in it.

I think that he may have been better off in using crime statistics since that would have been a more direct comparison of one set of human sourced threats versus another set. Nevertheless, as far as our day to day lives are concerned health, safety, and crime issues are more of a threat to your life and your families then al-Queda. That is in no way to say that al-Queda isn't dangerous and the threat from Islamic fundamentalists isn't serious, only that they are one among many threats that face America and the rest of the world. The first or second comment at Kuro5hin is supposed to be a rebuttal, but clearly fails to make the case that we should all be in an absolute panic. First the poster's alias is My Other Account Is A Heterosexual and refers us to a web site which as I click over to has an ad that reads " Could America become an Islamic Theocracy?", a rabid homophobe that links to a site that swears America is on the verge of collapse into Islamic authoritarian rule. Other Account sites 5000, rather then 2,929 terror induced deaths. Even if we take him at his word, that still means that terror from jihadists is 0.89 percent of the deaths caused by cancer and 0.42 of the deaths caused by traffic accidents. The first reaction of Bush supporters and those that are buying into the paranoia is to accuse people that are trying to point out terrorism is one serious threat among many is to accuse us of being complacent about terrorism. On the contrary terrorism is a deadly and serious challenge to civil society. The impact of terrorism doesn't just effect us in terms of lost lives, but also impacts the economy and and our attitudes toward each other. One doesn't have to visit right-wing conservative sites very often to see the extent to which they hate anyone that disagrees with their extreme world view, we are a divided society because of several issues and the way to fight terrorism and the war in Iraq have become two of the biggest reasons. To a large extent Bush and his supporters are playing right into the hands of the Mulim extremists by overreacting. By conflating Iraq with terrorism and by invading Iraq, conservatives have created a place to practice terror tactics for the next generation of terrorists; they've diverted resources away from fighting terror that is mostly non-state sponsored, and with incidents like Abu Graib and Haditha given the real jihadists grist for their propaganda mill. Over the course of the last five years many jihadists have been captured or killed, but Bush and his policies have made no headway at all in actually scaling back the number of terrorists or winning over moderate Arab Muslims. Those moderates haven't thrown in their lot with the extreme, but they are not helping us as much as they could because they feel, rightly or not that war has been declared on them too. If they're reading comments like those by Other Account or looking at web sites like he pointed to, it is little wonder the entire Arab Muslim world feels threatened. Muslims could use some liberalizing, but it is faily obvious at this point that conservatives are not the ones that can be trusted to accomplish that. Considering the history of the last two thousand years I don't know that either Muslims or Christians as a whole can make the claim that they have in all cases been rational and peaceful. Terrorism didn't start on 9-11 and is not a behavior that is exclusive to some Arab Muslims. It may take a few years, probably a generation before a combination of things will happen; one is that the Arab Muslim world will be caught up in the winds of modernity because of cultural drift, just the way that western society has ( Fundamentalist christians in America should be able to identify with fundamentalists Muslims, both have declared war against modernity). Then there is the economic incentives for Arab Muslims to be part of the world economy ( see what Iran is seeking with its talks with the west). Until then we'd be much better off as thinking of jihadists as a criminal gang, a world crime problem rather then some massive boogieman that is a threat to western civilization.

– According to Wikipedia the core of al-Queda is about 20,000 and about 100,000 militants have recieved training. Some perspective: I live near a county in the south that has about 500,000 people and in a study I saw a few years ago it was estimated that about 125,000 owned a gun. I own two. So that county alone could give any attempt by jihadists to create a theocracy a heck of a hard time. We toss the term around casually, but paranoia is increibily dangerous. It distorts people's thinking and creates hostilty. It can direct societies wealth and energy into a black hole.

Just in case a stray reader may not have seen it yet, Why Unions? Labor 101 and In Search of Solidarity, Ht to Tapped for the links.

There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is tom open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.

from Sophistication a story from Winesburg,Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

I don’t kick them out of their homes like you jerks who work in the bank

lawslips.jpg
Paleo Old masters

No one is ever going to put a name to this face. Its owner lived before writing, agriculture, or towns existed, before there were states that kept records, and long before a Greek man named Herodotus decided to write something called "history". The only reason we can be sure the people who painted in caves during the Ice Age were as human as we are – that is, they used their brains in the same way we do – is that they made art. No other animal makes art. And now the earliest art has a human face – literally.

The eye is a bold horizontal slash that connects to a downward diagonal apparently signifying a nose; below is a thinner line suggesting a mouth. These features are drawn in black on a face-shaped rocky mass in a cave near Angoulême in western France; discovered in February, the image has only now been made public after scientific testing by French archaeologists that has apparently convinced them of its authenticity and age – they claim the drawings in it were done 27,000 years ago, which makes the Vilhonneur grotto one of the oldest sites of rock art in the world, predated only by Chauvet in the Ardèche (32,410 years old) and some of the paintings at Cosquer in Bouches-du-Rhône (28,370 years old).

No other animal has members of its species try so hard to shift reality. Conservatives have done remarkabily well in in shifting public perceptions and priorities away from those things that really matter. So much so that people actually vote for policies that are not in their best interests or those of the country. On the contrary many people vote for protection against the boogie man, their imagined fears and prejudices. The images we have now are more sophiticated, but the thoughts they evoke are just as primitive. Ideals remain just that, higher aspirations that conservatives warn are elitist. The common good is to be deminished. Any benefit that goes to so many lessens the exclusivity of the I got mine mentality and if you didn't get yours, then mine increases in percieved value. The art of propaganda is the conservative legacy. 27,000 years from now no one will be able to dig it up and find out how things went terribily wrong.

Conservatives rejoyce this week as yet another cowardly comrade slipped the noose, Karl Rove Escapes Prosecution

Bush administration (and Rove) advocates will spin this news as vindication for the mastermind of George W. Bush's presidential campaigns. But there is no need for baseless speculation to conclude that Rove was involved in the leak and that the White House misled the public about his participation and broke a pledge to fire anyone who had leaked information about Valerie Wilson, the CIA officer married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration.

Here is what is known about Rove and the leak.

On July 9, 2003–three days after Joe Wilson published a New York Times op-ed piece disclosing that he had been sent to Niger by the CIA to check out the allegation that Iraq had been seeking to purchase uranium there and had reported back that such a transaction was highly unlikely–Rove confirmed to columnist Robert Novak that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. By this point in time, the White House–particularly Dick Cheney's office and Scooter Libby–had been gathering information on Wilson, his wife, and his trip for weeks. (In May and June, stories had appeared in the media quoting an unnamed ambassador who had gone to Niger and found nothing to substantiate the uranium-buying charge, which Bush had alleged in his 2003 State of the Union address.) And when Rove spoke to Novak–who had first heard about Valerie Wilson from another administration official–the White House was engaged in an effort to discredit Wilson. Cheney and others believed that if Wilson's mission to Niger could be depicted as a junket or boondoggle arranged by Wilson's wife, Wilson and his findings would be undermined. Spending a week in one of the poorest countries in the world for no pay would hardly qualify as a junket, but the White House was trying to use whatever they could.

Two days after Rove spoke to Novak and gave the columnist the confirmation he needed to proceed with a piece that would out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA officer working on weapons of mass destruction, Rove spoke to Matt Cooper of Time. According to an email Cooper wrote immediately after this conversation, Rove told him that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had sent Wilson to Niger. This conversation occurred three days before the Novak article appeared.

So Rove spoke to two reporters about Valerie Wilson. Her employment status at the CIA was classified. Rove was not merely gossiping, he was disseminating secret information, whether he realized it or not.

Which begs the question, why does Rove still have a security clearance, What about that security clearance?

As DeLay Leaves, Shoddy Culture Lingers

GITTES

What's that, pal?

OTHER CUSTOMER
(indicating paper)
Nothing — you got a hell of a
way to make a living.

GITTES
— Oh? What do. you do to make
ends meet?

OTHER CUSTOMER
Mortgage Department, First National Bank.

Gittes laughs.

GITTES
Tell me, how many people a week
do you foreclose on?

OTHER CUSTOMER
We don't publish a record in the
paper, I can tell you that.

GITTES
Neither do I.

OTHER CUSTOMER
No, you have a press agent do it.

GITTES
Barney, who is this bimbo? He a
regular customer?

BARNEY
Take it easy, Jake.

GITTES
Look, pal — I make an honest
living. People don't come to
me unless they're miserable and
I help 'em out of a bad situation.
I don't kick them out of their
homes like you jerks who work in
the bank.
from the screenplay CHINATOWN by Robert Towne

Most boys have seasons of wishing they could die gloriously instead of just being grocery clerks and going on with their humdrum lives

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Bush said. “It is worth it to help Iraq succeed. It is worth it to have a democracy in the Middle East.''

“The best way to win this war against an insurgency is to stand up a unity government which is capable of defending itself, but also providing tangible benefits to the people,'' Bush said, standing outside a cabin at the secluded, wooded presidential retreat with his national security team and members of his Cabinet.

“Ultimately, the Iraqi people are going to have to make up their mind. Do they want to live in terror, or do they want to live in peace?'' he said.

Now in its fourth year, the war also was an issue Monday on Capitol Hill.

Why should America or the world take seriously anything said by a man who's singular achievement in life has never been to sacrifice or work for anything. "Worth"? You have to have values to decide what worth is. While it may be heresy to say it, did anyone bother asking the Iraqi people almost four years ago if they were willing to sacrifice so many dead fathers, mothers and children so Bush could have his little experiment with democracy. Bush and his supporters have simply created another Palestinian like territory, a never ending land of on going conflict. While Bush is sitting back on his fake ranch, collecting his retirement and free healthcare courtesy the American working class, our lives and our taxes will be paying for his delusions for years. Iraq will survive in one form or another, maybe even some kind of illiberal democracy, not because of Bush, but because people get sick and tired of death.

As much as I hate providing a link to Fox, Documenting Saddam's Link to Terror in which Ray Robison, a Bush supporter with an agenda and not an expert in Arabic is going to reveal the knid of breathless shrill conservative newsmaxi truth about Saddam once and for all. Besides his obvious bias problems he also has credibility issues, here,

The Times reporter notes that "the anthrax document that intrigued Mr. Robison, the Alabama blogger, does not seem to prove much. It is a message from the Quds Army, a regional militia created by Mr. Hussein, to Iraqi military intelligence that passes on reports picked up by troops, possibly from the radio, since the information is labeled "open source" and "impaired broadcast."

All true. But I noticed something else. The English translation does indeed say "impaired broadcast," but the Arabic original says "itha'a sawa."

Which could mean "impaired broadcast", I suppose, but also sounds an awful lot like… Radio Sawa. Which is, of course, the name of the American government run Arabic language radio station which began broadcasting in 2002. Which could, hilariously enough, mean that the al-Quds Division document was actually reporting propaganda picked up from an American radio station. Which an enthusiastic conservative blogger then, in turn, embraced as evidence. In a word, blowback!

and then there are problems with the documents themselves, Iraqi document release revisited and here, Iraqi document on WMD on trucks crossing the Iraqi border

"The evil American authority stepped up their accusation of Iraq for the possibility of hiding chemical agents or biological labs on moveable trucks and trailers or inside containers. The American authorities are planning on bringing such trucks and containers into Iraq across the boarders [sic] or the boarder [sic] of the self ruled areas or smuggling areas to provide it to the weapon inspectors to be used against Iraq in order to launch their wicked invading [sic] against our precious country."

Funny that Saddam's paranoid fears and fantasies are the an odd mirror image of the Fox/newsmax/right-wing blogs tin foil theory about Saddam smuggling all his supposed WMD into Syria. The excerpt would also suggest that if the wacko actually had the WMD he wouldn't be so concerned about Americans planting them.

People from the part of Northern Ohio in which Winesburg lies will remember old Windpeter by his unusual and tragic death. He got drunk one evening in town and started to drive home to Unionville along the railroad tracks. Henry Brattenburg, the butcher, who lived out that way, stopped him at the edge of the town and told him he was sure to meet the down train but Windpeter slashed at him with his whip and drove on. When the train struck and killed him and his two horses a farmer and his wife who were driving home along a nearby road saw the accident. They said that old Windpeter stood up on the seat of his wagon, raving and swearing at the onrushing locomotive, and that he fairly screamed with delight when the team, maddened by his incessant slashing at them, rushed straight ahead to certain death. Boys like young George Willard and Seth Richmond will remember the incident quite vividly because, although everyone in our town said that the old man would go straight to hell and that the community was better off without him, they had a secret conviction that he knew what he was doing and admired his foolish courage. Most boys have seasons of wishing they could die gloriously instead of just being grocery clerks and going on with their humdrum lives.

from The Untold Lie by Sherwood Anderson