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Saturday, April 24, 2004
Ever play chess?
Zontar from over at the Bartcop forum points out that winning by looking many moves ahead, winning by just not losing to overwhelming superior force, winning through patient, incremental steps, is something that has been embraced by chess strategists for centuries. Chess has been a very popular game in the Islamic world for a long time.

Today we see attacks on the oil facilities in Basra. There are also reports of attacks on oil field personnel in Nigeria today. Last week, gunmen in a boat were killed trying to attack an oil facility there. There is no reason to think that these incidents are all related.


King's knight to king's bishop four. Your move, George.

On a related note, Kos has a poster reporting that the boy king is going to make the decision as to whether we will massively retaliate against Fallujah for their extremely bad attitude and poor behavior lately. (Thanks to Atrios). As I've implied previously, massive retaliation has a poor track record as a civic behavior modification tool in Iraq. There are better ways to handle the Fallujah and al-Sadr problems. This would be a great time to enlist Sistani's assistance--of course, the US might have to give assurances to him regarding Iraqi self determination and sovereignty in order to encourage his cooperation.....

Oh. Never mind.
Sometimes I wonder....

The violence in Iraq is changing qualitatively.
And that's pretty worrisome.
"... insurgents struck a U.S. military base north of Baghdad with rockets, killing five American soldiers, while a rocket crashed into a crowded market in the Iraqi capital, killing at least six people..."
Coordinated, simultaneous attacks are becoming more common, as well as attacks against US bases. This is not the sign of an "insurgency" that is weakening, but rather one that is spreading. It appears that the hard line US response to the Fallujah contractor killing/mutilation and the al-Sadr problem is not having the desired effect--in fact, quite the opposite
Friday, April 23, 2004
They can't be photograped at Dover AFB.

Atrios is pissed...
and I can't blame him.

I've posted on the hypocritical victimhood of certain conservatives before. But I was not aware of Poppy Bush's idiotic bigotted remarks about aetheists. (See Atrios' site)

It's odd to me that the "liberal" Christian denominations have let religion in America become hijacked by political wing-nuts. It is a little publicized fact that donations and memberships in the Episcopalian Church were barely affected after the gay bishop brew-ha-ha. This is completely contrary to the impression that the media gave by showcasing those conservative Episcopalians who objected to the consecration of a gay man as a Bishop.

Most Christians, conservative and liberal alike, applaud when their church stands up for something they believe in. Or as often as not, they look to the church for guidance on difficult issues.

However I sometimes wonder if modern *liberal* religious leaders confuse pacifism with silence.

As one of Atrios' regular commentors says "WTFWJD?"
Stupid Smart People

At prestigious universities around the country, from flagship state colleges to the Ivy League, more and more students from upper-income families are edging out those from the middle class, according to university data.
More members of this year's freshman class at the University of Michigan have parents making at least $200,000 a year than have parents making less than the national median of about $53,000, according to a survey of Michigan students. At the most selective private universities across the country, more fathers of freshmen are doctors than are hourly workers, teachers, clergy members, farmers or members of the military combined.
This issue is not complicated. In the time of the baby boomers, higher education became the great equalizer. Almost all colleges, including the elite and highly selective breed, saw it as their mission to broaden access to education and the benefits that follow to those who had traditionally been shut out. This was accomplished through a variety of measures.

Schools reformed their selection criteria away from simple calculations of test scores, GPA and proper breeding to include many different measures of potential students. But times have changed and once again, wealth has shown itself to be a primary, and perhaps causal, indicator of a student's likelihood of admission to an elite school. The system has become gamed by private high school counselors and expensive test prep services like Sylvan.

I was witness to a counselor at a very exclusive high school telling the mother of a prospective student:

"If you tell us what college you would like [X] to attend, we can draw up a plan based upon their (the college's) admission requirements. And as long as he follows that plan, you can bet that he will get in."

This was in 1984.

In another incident, the mother of a friend called up the admissions department at the University of Michigan and bullied her daughter off the waiting list and into a slot by threatening to raise hell in the local media because "a black girl from [her daughter's high school] was accepted with lower grades and worse test scores".

This was in 1988.

The problem has only gotten worse.

The infamous "Greed is Good!" speech from the '80's movie Wall Street is no longer an admonition. It is gospel to much of America. Hence the idea that you are "buying your way in" is no longer socially unacceptable. And the trappings that come from being able to list such a school on a resume are priceless.

One of the dirty little secrets of college financial aid is that the wealthy kids pay for the poor kids. For this reason, among many others, colleges recruit rich kids as fervently as they *claim* to recruit a "diverse" student body. In the current formula you need one to have the other.

Solution: Maybe, just maybe... this will bring back the promise of equal access for all.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
What happens when...
you inject religion into places it doesn't belong?

You end up with asinine consequences like this:
Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.
Basically, Michigan's Right-to-Life crowd forced through a bill that would prevent doctors from being sued if they didn't perform, refer, or even mention abortion. BUT that would probably be unconstitutional, so they had to make the exemption a broad matter of "Religious Conscience."

So... if you "believe" that gays, or any group that is not protected by civil rights laws somehow offend your "conscience", you can tell them to take a hike. I wonder if a devout Muslim or Jewish Doctor could refuse to treat a "pork eaters" digestive problems?

Isn't it ironic that religious folk are protected by the same laws that they are trying to shit on?
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Reason #3549...
to not shop at Wal-Mart. (via Kevin Drum)
The HIV clinic where I work doesn't accept patients who have health insurance. We're 100% funded by the state and federal government, and we're in service for people who are absolutely indigent. People who have no other options - not Medicaid, not Medicare, not anything.

So imagine my surprise when someone came into my office today who has a full-time job. She works 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart. Like many of their employees, she can't afford their health insurance plan. Even if she could, they wouldn't cover her HIV care because it's a pre-existing condition. It isn't even about paying for the drugs, which are expensive - she qualifies for the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which picks up all of her prescriptions for her. Wal-Mart won't pay for office visits to an HIV specialist, and they won't pay for the blood tests she needs to monitor her condition.

So you, the federal taxpayer, will be paying for her medical care.
Read the whole thing. You'll think twice before giving the Waltons any of your hard earned money.
So you're walking along...
and you find a backpack containing $500,000 in cash. What do you do?

Dan and Jane Gerth called the cops.
Sheriff's officers then replaced the cash with rubber gloves, blankets, gas masks and other items from their patrol cars and staked out the spot where the backpack was found in a ditch.

Oroville-area resident David L. Taber Jr., 35, was arrested when he drove up and collected the backpack later that day, sheriff's officers said.
OK. So far it makes sense.
Sheriff Frank Rogers said investigators believe the money was part of an international drug transaction. Taber was charged with money-laundering.
If Taber is unable to prove legitimate ownership, the result could be an unprecedented legal test between the claims of the Gerths and drug detectives over ownership of the money, Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan said.
Say what? The Gerths are making a claim on the money? Well one would think that this would get laughed out of court, but...
Sloan and others said they don't know of any Washington court case that has decided whether the forfeiture law trumps the found-property law.

"It's not like this happens every day," Sloan said
Ummm guys... Drug money is drug money. You're going to lose.

So the moral of the story... When you find a 1/2 Million Bucks Cash sitting in the woods, don't call the cops. ;)
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
How to catch America's attention

There is no other way to describe Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee than as a shot across the bow of the Bush re-election campaign.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A senior Republican lawmaker said that deteriorating security in Iraq (news - web sites) may force the United States to reintroduce the military draft.

"There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future," Senator Chuck Hagel told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

The Nebraska Republican added that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata.

"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class," he observed.
Wow! If that is not an admonition of the Elite Ruling Chickenhawks, I don't know what it is.

The only way that Americans will ever support reviving the draft is if there is a real global crisis... say China starts to invade its neighbors or North Korea gears up to wipe out Los Angeles.

There is absolutely no way that the American populous will support a draft simply to reinforce a divisive, poorly planned occupation in Iraq.

This is definitely a not-so-veiled threat to the White House. 'Either you get your shit together in Iraq, or I will make sure that 90% of the soccer moms vote against you....'

...And from a Republican. Yikes!

[edited for typos]
If we outlaw guns...
only congressmen will have guns.
Indiana Republican Rep. John Hostettler, an avid hunter, mistakenly brought a 9-mm handgun to the Louisville, Kentucky, airport on Tuesday and was briefly detained, his press secretary said.
A Transportation Security Authority spokesman ... said the gun was intercepted from a carry-on bag and the police and FBI (news - web sites) were notified. An FBI spokesman would not confirm whether an investigation was under way.
Dumb Ass!

Also... Why does the article imply that the 9 mm handgun might be used for hunting? Hunting what?!?!?

Monday, April 19, 2004
It's a funny day in the blogosphere

David Neiwert points us to this little catch from a Pacific Northwest clothing manufactuer:
Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui.
Which translates:

"We are sorry our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."
I knew there was a reason I liked the Olympic Penninsula.
Thy name is Ted Olson.

What an ass. It's amazing that so many discredited wack-jobs are working in high level positions in the Bush Administration.
One to watch
Is it possible that the not-so-kosher Boeing tanker deal was actually pushed of the cliff by GOP opportunists? Maybe.

Few deny that there were some seriously stinky elements in the original lease deal between Boeing and the Air Force for 767 Airframe Tankers. It eventually forced the resignation of Boeing Chief Phil Condit.

But I began to wonder if there wasn't more to this story when I was listening to Rush Limbaugh blame Tom Daschle's wife for the deal. Daschle's wife Linda is a prominent Aerospce Lobbyist who counts Boeing among her clients. It must be noted that she ONLY lobbies in the House of Representatives.

Well, Ol' Rush was screaming that Daschle was trying to steal your and my hard earned money and line his pockets via his wife and this tanker deal.

Well, now we have allegations that much of the fodder for this smear may have come from Airbus. (Oh my God! They're French!!!) Les Blumenthal is generally a pretty reliable source for all things Boeing.

Could the GOP dirty-tricks machine really be spreading false information simply for political purposes?

Let me be clear. I do not claim to know whether we need the tankers or not. (This is a legitimate criticism raised by John McCain) But I do know, that if we do go on the market for such planes, they should be built in the US by an American company. National security matters should be kept at home as much as possible.

So why the f*** would the GOP sell out Boeing for Airbus? Thom/Linda Daschle? Campaign contributions? I really wonder what might be going on here.
This should bother you....
Study Suspects Thousands of False Convictions

Published: April 19, 2004

A comprehensive study of 328 criminal cases over the last 15 years in which the convicted person was exonerated suggests that there are thousands of innocent people in prison today.
Some 90 percent of false convictions in the rape cases involved misidentification by witnesses, very often across races. In particular, the study said black men made up a disproportionate number of exonerated rape defendants.
Interracial rapes are, moreover, uncommon. Rapes of white women by black men, for instance, represent less than 10 percent of all rapes, according to the Justice Department. But in half of the rape exonerations where racial data was available, black men were falsely convicted of raping white women.

"The most obvious explanation for this racial disparity is probably also the most powerful," the study says. "White Americans are much more likely to mistake one black person for another than to do the same for members of their own race."

On the other hand, the study found that the leading causes of wrongful convictions for murder were false confessions and perjury by co- defendants, informants, police officers or forensic scientists.

"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," - English jurist William Blackstone

Gun Funny of the Day
So, Dick Cheney tells the NRA members gun control is bad for America, but is apparently good enough for him. Excuse us, but we want some of what Cheney gets: you know, the treatment where the gun guys can't be in the same room with us while packing heat. If it's good enough for Cheney....
Sunday, April 18, 2004
A View From Within
Josh Marshal posts a disheartening letter from a friend who is a contractor in Iraq.

I have to assume that those civilian contractors who are over there believe, or at least believed, that things would be different. I don't want to remind them that many voices, including Poppy and others from his administration predicted this.
Excerpt from "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" by George Bush [Sr.] and Brent Scowcroft, Time (2 March 1998):
Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.
I hope that a miracle can happen. But somehow I think that this is going to get much worse before we figure out what-the-hell we are doing over there.
Just finished Clarke's book.
The press has focused on the book being about "What the Bush administration didn't do to prevent 9/11." The predictable response from the right has been "Well, Clinton was President for 8 years and he didn't prevent it either, so he's more at fault."

But that isn't what the book is about. What the book is about is much more supportive of Clinton and much more damning of Bush than the preceding silly argument:

1. The book is about Osama bin Laden, Al Quada and the CIA and FBI failure to identify him and his organization until 1996, even though he was involved in numerous terrorist acts before then, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The book is about the bureaucratic, institutional ineptitude and intransigence of these agencies, as well as the Pentagon, that resulted in this sad state of affairs.

2. The book is about the Clinton administration's recognition of terrorism as the next big threat to the US at the end of the Cold War, and their efforts to do something about it. The book documents the speeches Clinton made, the high priority he and Gore put on the topic, and the legislation and funding he introduced and mostly managed to pass into law. The book is about his efforts to kill bin Laden using both overt and covert methods; documenting the numerous memos and directives that were sent to the above mentioned agencies that made White house policy crystal clear: kill or capture bin Laden, and dismantle al Quada.

3. The book is about the incessant attacks from Clinton's political enemies-many of whom worked at the FBI, CIA and Pentagon, that made the job of fighting terrorism harder: the accusations of "wag the dog", the weakening of money laundering legislation, the blatant disregard for instructions that would maximize the chances of success in a covert operation, the constant lies about Clinton being "unwilling to use force" when in fact the opposite was true.

4. The book is about the Bush administration coming into office with a different set of priorities: China, ABM testing, withdrawal from treaties, Iraq. Terrorism didn't make the first tier. Clarke's frustration at his specialty being downgraded by the new administration is clear, but this only takes up a few pages of the book.

5. Clarke reserves his greatest outrage for what the Bush administration did after 9/11; to fixate on Iraq as the true culprit, while treating bin Laden and Al Quada as a minor, easily solved problem. The US went into Afghanistan with a woefully inadequate force that was heavily dependent on the local alliances for success: bin Laden's and Omar's escape was practically guaranteed. The main battle force was being reserved and prepared for Iraq. Bush was told repeatedly by multiple sources that Iraq was not involved with 9/11, but the focus remained there. Clarke is convinced that the US invasion of Iraq played directly into bin Laden's hands: we have created a reason for Jihad that millions of young muslim men will buy into. Three years ago, al Quada was a tough, but manageable problem. Today that problem has multiplied a thousand times due to our "pre-emptive" (oops) war with Iraq.

The book is about how US security from terror has been truly hosed by this fixated and irresponsible president, and how responsibility for every terrorist bomb that kills Americans in the years to come--and there will be many more than there would have been otherwise--can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush.
Victims of Liberals
Conservatives have long projected "victimhood" as a liberal vice. However, their delusional perception of their own "less than equal" status belies a weird hypocrisy.

One only needs to listen to Limbaugh's rants about conservatives being in the middle of a "war for the soul of America" and that we should "keep one liberal around in a museum just to remind us what kind of damage they can do." Hell, Hannity's newest book title and cover equates terrorists and despots with liberals as "evil".

If you buy their assertions at face value, you will see that there is an emotional element in modern conservatism that brings together the strange bedfellows of both the religio-wacko type and the pseudo-libertarians. That element is a hatred of liberals. (But don't you dare take away "their" benefits, like tax exempt religious corporations or our tax-payer funded telecommunications infrastructure.)

Kevin Drum has highlighted a couple of posts by Mark Kleiman that include an email from Brandeis Poly Sci Prof, Steve Teles. Teles basically echoes my theory. Kevin goes on to say that this theory cuts both ways and he is correct, but not completely. I honestly believe that liberals were not unified by a distaste of anything before the Iraq war. (and maybe Florida 2000) To equate both parties with such behavior is a very inaccurate comparison.

Of course there are large segments from each side of the spectrum who believe in core principles. But since 1988, when Poppy Bush's henchman, Lee Atwater, decided to demonize the "L Word" ("Liberal" for those of you who have short memories) it has been open season to blame everything from crime, to poor schools, to the stock market, to Osama Bin Laden, to Columbine, etc... on liberals and their alleged control on the reigns of power. (ahahahahhaha! That's too funny....)

Krugman wrote about this anathema a couple of years ago in regards to the Bush Administration's illogical roll back of certain benign Clinton environmental policies. His thesis was that they did it simply to throw red meat to those AM radio fans who wanted to stick a hot poker in the eyes of "tree huggers". IMHO, he was right.

There is a reason why the GOP's Southern Strategy has worked in both the South and much of the Heartland. This is it:

"They want to take away your way of life!"
"They want to impose their values!"
"They want to take away your land!
"They want homosexuals to indoctrinate your children!"

Such high minded discourse....... It sounds kinda' familiar.
Gorelick Can Defend Herself
And she does a damn fine job. (empahsis added)
First, I did not invent the "wall," which is not a wall but a set of procedures implementing a 1978 statute (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) and federal court decisions interpreting it. In a nutshell, that law, as the courts read it, said intelligence investigators could conduct electronic surveillance in the United States against foreign targets under a more lenient standard than is required in ordinary criminal cases, but only if the "primary purpose" of the surveillance were foreign intelligence rather than a criminal prosecution.

Second, according to the FISA Court of Review, it was the justice departments under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the 1980s that began to read the statute as limiting the department's ability to obtain FISA orders if it intended to bring a criminal prosecution. The practice of prohibiting prosecutors from directing intelligence investigations was first put in place in those years as well. Then, in July 1995, Attorney General Janet Reno issued written guidelines that spelled out the steps FBI intelligence agents and criminal investigators and prosecutors needed to follow when sharing information. The point was to preserve the ability of prosecutors to use information collected by intelligence agents.

Third, Mr. Ashcroft's own deputy attorney general, Larry Thompson, formally reaffirmed the 1995 guidelines in an Aug. 6, 2001, memo addressed to the FBI and the Justice Department. Ashcroft has charged that the guidelines hampered the department's ability to pursue terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in August 2001, but his own department had endorsed those guidelines at the pivotal time.

Fourth, the memo I wrote in March 1995 -- which concerns information-sharing in two particular cases, including the original World Trade Center bombing -- permits freer coordination between intelligence and criminal investigators than was subsequently permitted by the 1995 guidelines or the 2001 Thompson memo. The purpose of my memo was to resolve a problem presented to me: facilitating investigations on both the intelligence side and criminal side at the same time. My memo directed agents on both sides to share information -- and, in particular, directed one agent to work on both the criminal and intelligence investigations -- to ensure the flow of information "over the wall." We set up special procedures because of the extraordinary circumstances and the necessity to prevent a court from throwing out any conviction in those cases. Had my memo been in place in August 2001 -- when, as Ashcroft said, FBI officials rejected a criminal warrant of Moussaoui because they feared "breaching the wall" -- it would have allowed those agents to obtain a criminal warrant without fear of jeopardizing an intelligence investigation.

Fifth, nothing in the 1995 guidelines prevented the sharing of information between criminal and intelligence investigators. Indeed, the guidelines require that FBI foreign intelligence agents share information with criminal investigators and prosecutors whenever they uncover facts suggesting that a crime has been or may be committed. The guidelines did set forth procedures, but those procedures implemented court decisions and, as noted, were reaffirmed by the Ashcroft Justice Department.
Ashcroft is lowest sort of hypocrite... one who must attack others to deflect criticism of himself. Ashcroft needs to go. If not by the election of John Kerry, then maybe a Federal Prosecutor with a smidgen of integrity will indict the Son-of-a-bitch for the obvious perjury he committed before the Commission.
Ah yes, Limbaugh's (and others like him) rants have inspired more death threats.... I'm shocked.

This makes at least four such incidents that I can recall off the top of my head:
1) A crazed Limbaugh listener shoots at the Clinton Whitehouse with an Assault Weapon through the Pennsylvania Ave fence. He is subdued by a civilian passerby.

2) Timothy Mc Veigh lists Rush as one of his favorite shows.

3) Senator Thomas Daschle's family receives death threats at their home after Rush calls Daschle a traitor.

4) 9/11 commission member Jamie Gorelick has received threats since John Ashcroft selectively declassified a memo from 1995, authored by then Asst. Attorney General Gorelick meant to help clarify existing policy regarding the sharing of intelligence between the FBI and CIA.

In her defense, Gorelick notes: "This is not a basis for resignation [from the commission]," she said, noting that Ashcroft's own deputy ratified the [same exact god-damned] memorandum in August 2001. (empahsis mine:))

Aside from being a huge hypocite, Ashcroft should be tried for perjury in regards to other testimony he gave the commission... but that's another post.
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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