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Friday, May 07, 2004
20 million Americans think Rush Limbaugh is sane.
Do you?
"...I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?"

Now, don't you feel like a dopey dittohead for letting a little outbreak of prisoner sadism bug you?..."

I guess nobody loses their job...
for incompetence in Tony Blair's world either:
Tony Blair yesterday provoked a fresh political row over the role of the intelligence agencies by appointing John Scarlett, the official responsible for the widely disputed Iraqi weapons dossier, as the new head of MI6.

His appointment is likely to cause unease in the intelligence community, where officers have recently expressed concern that Mr Scarlett allowed himself to step over the red line dividing their profession from politicians in the run-up to the Iraq war.

The move was immediately denounced by the Conservative leadership as "inappropriate", particularly since Lord Butler's review into the handling of intelligence on Iraq's alleged stock of weapons of mass destruction - none of which has been found - has yet to publish its findings.
Does anybody else find it odd in the UK, it is the Conservatives who are critical of handling of the Iraq war run-up. I think I could count on one hand the number of prominent American conservatives who dared question BushCo's incompetence on the same issues.

(But certainly much of Blair's own Labor is opposed his position as well...)

Ah yes, the inmates are in charge of the asylum. (Thanks to TheaLogie for the tip)

And on the same note, check out Josh Marshall's revelation that the man in charge of the Defense Intel division that handles military interogation at Iraqi prisons appears to be none other than Lt. Gen William "I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol" Boykin.

Why does this not surprise me?
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Why is W apologizing...
to the King of Jordan? I was not aware that His Royal Highness was in jail, let alone tortured by American Soldiers. Wow... the things you learn.
At least it's a start.
Too bad they put the wrong name on the cover,though.
The Calculus of Teen Pregnancy

A few months back a FDA Panel overwhelmingly recommended making "day after" birth control available without a prescription. Mind you this is *not* RU-486, the abortion pill. This is simply two double doses of the regular birth control pill. It can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex.

This potententially could prevent tens of thousands... make that hundreds of thousands of unintended pregnancies and prevent tens of thousands of abortions a year!

But the wing-nut right has flexed its collective muscle and forced the FDA to reject the idea of "Plan B". Undoubtedly they believe that access to birth control will promote teen sex. I've got news for them. A large percentage of teens already have sex. This has been true for... well.... as long as there have been teenagers. Granted the percentages change... but they are are always there. And birth control has become more availabe and pregnancy rates have gone down. hmmmm.

Forcing girls to see a doctor after a condom fails will not prevent them from having sex... but the delay (longer than 72 hours) may lead to an abortion or a baby.
The Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) was under intense political pressure from both sides on whether to lift the prescription requirement for emergency contraception. Conservatives argued doing so could encourage unsafe sex. Proponents said easier access to the pills could prevent thousands of abortions and the FDA's own scientific advisers had overwhelmingly backed the change.
Within the FDA, the decision was mixed. An internal agency memo, obtained by The Associated Press, suggests medical reviewers backed nonprescription sales of Barr's brand, called Plan B, but were overruled by senior officials.
The FDA has left some wiggle room by claiming they can revisit this decision if Barr Laboratories, the drug's manufacturer, provides data for Plan B and girls younger than 16. IMHO, this is simply a bid to delay the decision and gauge the reaction of the public.

I'm sure the Bush administration is trying to figure out which position will win more votes. The last thing they care about are the lives of the women involved and their potential offspring.

[edited for clarity]
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
What have we become?
Nothing good can come of this. It just gets worse and worse.
But if the cause be not good,
... the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp'd off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place'- some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it; who to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

King Henry V
Act IV, Scene I
Via Josh Marshall.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Financial Aid for Kindergarteners

It sounds silly... but it's real. Our 4 year old will be attending Kindergarten in the fall, and due to the fact that the local public grade school is on the state "Watch List" we are exploring private education.

Because the tuition is insanely high at the one decent private school within a 1/2 hour drive, we are applying for financial aid. And it is just killing me that the forms I am presently filling out are far more detailed than anything I filled out for my college years. Hell, they want to know more than the IRS does.

These folks want to know how much we spent of vactaions, music lessons, the actual cost of health insurance and co-pays, every penny we have in the world, how much we expect to pay in additional childcare next year, how much our house is insured for, etc... You would think a copy of our taxes would do.... but no..... So now I've spent the better part of 4 hours trying to fill out the forms. What an evening!

Deny reality. Refuse to learn from mistakes.
Refuse to even acknowledge the possibility of mistakes. Sounds like a great strategery for winning the War On Terra™. So now we get this surreal pair of quotes:
" recent congressional testimony about heroin flow out of Afghanistan, Drug Enforcement Administration head Karen Tandy spoke only of "potential links" and "possible relationships" between Afghan traffickers and terrorists. Drug agents in Central Asia say they're baffled by Tandy's hedging.

"The connection is absolutely obvious to us," said Col. Alexander Kondratiyev, a senior Russian officer who has served with border guards in Tajikistan for nearly a decade. "Drugs, weapons, ammunition, terrorism, more drugs, more terrorism - it's a closed circle."..."
Drug agents baffled by Administration hedging? Haven't they been paying attention for the last three years? Acknowedging the problem of exploding Afghan heroin production and its connection with terrorist finances would mean that this White House made a mistake--even after being warned about this exact scenario--and as we all know, this W.H. never makes mistakes. Just ask George.
Monday, May 03, 2004
Why doesn't this give me a warm fuzzy feeling?

E-Voting Oversight Overwhelms U.S. Agency


Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. - As alarm mounts over the integrity of the ATM-like voting machines 50 million Americans will use in the November election, a new federal agency has begun scrutinizing how to safeguard electronic polling from fraud, hackers and faulty software.

But the tiny U.S. Election Assistance Commission says it is so woefully underfunded that it can't be expected to forestall widespread voting machine problems, which would cast doubt on the election's integrity.
And of course they won't even have scratched the surface by this November....

At least California has de-Diebold-ized.
Well. That didn't take long, did it?
The US has decided to put Fallujah in the hands of someone who pays more attention to the script:
"...Their initial choice, who outraged victims of Saddam's regime because of past service in his feared Republican Guard, said he was stepping aside, leaving command of the new Falluja Brigade to former intelligence officer Mohammed Latif.

Latif was said by U.S. military and Iraqi officials to have anti-Saddam credentials...The Marines are hoping the new Falluja Brigade, predominantly made up of former members of Saddam's military, will crush 2,000 rebels and root out perhaps 200 foreign militants..."
So a local ex-Saddam supporter was removed due to "outrage"; replaced by a former intelligence officer with "anti-Saddam" credentials.

How does one get to be in the Iraqi intelligence service while being "anti-Saddam"? For that matter, how does one stay alive in pre-invasion Iraq while being "anti-Saddam"? Who wants to bet me money that this new guy will nod in vigorous agreement when asked about the presence of "foreign fighters" in Fallujah?

Maybe this guy knows what he's talking about.
All through the course of the Fallujah violence, we've heard that "foreign fighters" are responsible for the intensity of the fighting there. The implication is that without these "outside agitators" (al Qaeda, no doubt), we wouldn't be having all of this trouble. The peaceable,US-loving Iraqis would never treat their liberators this way without "terrorist" agents provocateurs.

Then we invite General Jasim Mohamed Saleh, formerly of Saddam Hussein's army, to help us with this difficult situation, but he doesn't know his lines:
"...Only two days after U.S. forces entrusted General Jasim Mohamed Saleh with restoring order in Falluja, the former member of Saddam's feared Republican Guard dismissed U.S. insistence over the presence of foreign fighters in the city.

"There are no foreign fighters in Falluja," Saleh told Reuters in his home town, which was loyal to Saddam..."
Of course this has had no impact on the official US line. What would a military professional in his own hometown know about who was fighting there? We need to be a little more honest with ourselves about stuff like this or we will continue to be suprised by fatal, violent outbreaks over and over again.

If only they would listen....

John Kerry should challenge Junior to debates with the following line:
"I've challenged George Bush to weekly debates, mano a mano, and he's refused. Now, I understand the president doesn't like to face tough questions all by himself. So, if he needs to bring Dick Cheney with him that's ok by me."
via Digby


Warren Buffett (news - web sites), the world's second-wealthiest man, said some businesses in his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. holding company were starting to feel the pinch of inflation as energy and commodity prices rise.
As a chef who receives all his ingredients and products via truck... inflation is really here. Our wholesale prices aren't just creeping up. Several product lines have jumped 10% or more.

And guess what... we're passing these increases on. This isn't a temporary blip.

In the past, when gas prices spiked, there was reason to believe that price increases were temporary. Many of our wholesalers added "fuel surcharges" for the few months that gas prices were high. Only one purveyor is trying that this time. All the rest are simply raising prices.

So.... is this economy strong enough to handle a little inflation and rising interest rates? God, I hope so.

It's too bad that our fiscal and economic policies for the past 3 years have been so incompetent that we no longer have a safety valve. If the economy hiccups, we can't lower interest rates... or increase Federal spending... or temporarily slash taxes... or anything else that would traditionally spark the economy. The piggy bank is empty. Thanks George!


On Meet the Press former ambassador Joe Wilson spoke about his book and he revealed a few facts I had not previously heard about the crimes committed against his CIA agent wife and the smear campaign against him.
  • Robert Novak was actually telling people (supposedly complete strangers on the street) about Valerie Plame's identity before he wrote his infamous column. Are those conversations protected under the First Amendment? Revealing classified information in that fashion is a crime.
  • The White House ordered an intelligence work-up on him and his wife *four months before* he wrote the NYT's op-ed that called the Niger/Uranium connection in the State of the Union address a lie. (He had just given an interview on CNN which the White House didn't like.) This work up, which contained all the info about Valerie Plame was circulated throughout the political apparatus of the White House and supposedly shared with some journalists. This would explain why I listened to Rush Limbaugh read a National Review column stating that Plame's secret identity was common knowledge in Washington circles... The White House had told them!!!

Most of these points are visited in Wilson's interview with Joe Conason. But there is one particular answer that Wilson gave in regards to the fact that the GOP smear machine has tried to paint him as a lefty Democrat. Wilson and his family have been Republican's for years but:
If you're fiscally responsible, [the present form of the GOP] is not your party. If you believe in a moderate foreign policy characterized by alliances, free trade and the ability to operate in an international environment, this is not your party. If you believe in limited federal government, this is not your party. If you believe that the government should stay out of your bedroom, this is very definitely not your party. In fact, I would argue that unless you believe in the American imperium, imposed on the world by force, or unless you believe in the literal interpretation of the Book of Revelations, this is not your party.
Strong stuff!
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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