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Quote of the Night
John Stewart addressing the graduating class of the College of William and Mary:
Don't aim low. Not everybody can walk around in an alcoholic haze, then wake up at 40 and decide to be president.
I'll Go Real Slooooooooww
There has been a spate of reports
that the UN has "found" WMDs in scrap yards around the Middle East and Europe.
The not-so-bright Righties (Yes, you Matt Drudge) have suggested that these are the vaunted and mysterious arsenal that was used to justify the whole invasion of Iraq by the US.
BZZZZT! Wrong Answer.
The noted items being "discovered" in metal recycling centers are from Saddam's known weapons. Many of them still have the UN inspection tags on them. They were looted and sold for scrap.
There is a big story here, though. It's rather scandalous but looting stories were "so last year" in the eyes of our SCLMedia.
You see, once we were in control of the country, the job of securing the known weapons and nuclear sites as well as the borders of Iraq fell upon the US military. While some of this illegal exporting took place before and during the war, much of it happened immediately afterwards during the lawless weeks that followed the
cheers and flowers thrown at our feet
securing of the oil ministry and other important sites.
So if you're wondering how an Al Samoud missile engine ends up in a junkyard in the Netherlands you can blame the wonderful post war planning by the present administration.
Exactly who is it running for President?
tipped me off to this. Here's Ronald Reagan's er, I mean GW Bush's campaign web site
Pay no attention to that incumbent behind the curtain...Ha!
I will personally send a case of beer (or diet soda) to the first mainstream journalist or Op-Ed board who uses the words "War Crimes" in regards to the authorization of "interogation techniques" by Rummy, Unkle Dick or Junior.
Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wouldn't a restraining order do?
Will Baker, a roadside flower salesman with a history of annoying elected officials at public meetings, was sentenced to six months in jail Monday for his behavior at three Tacoma City Council meetings last year.
Baker, who acted as his own attorney, argued that his First Amendment right of free speech had been violated. He reportedly called the judge and prosecutor liars, repeatedly brought up issues he was told weren't allowed, and tried to intimidate the chief witness - Mayor Bill Baarsma - by alternately glowering at him and laughing at him during the approximately five hours Baarsma spent on the witness stand.
"His behavior was the same in court as it was in the council chambers," said Baarsma, who was the presiding officer at several City Council meetings where Baker was led away in handcuffs after he refused to stop speaking.
Baker, 41, was immediately taken from the court to jail to start serving his sentence. Heslop denied his request to report to jail at a later date and a subsequent request for a couple of hours to "put his affairs in order."
6 months for glowering? Jeebus H Crisco! Burglars and car thieves get less. Assault usually brings a shorter term.
This judge takes himself WAAAAYYYY too seriously. He obviously likes to "teach people lessons". Maybe there is a job at the Department of Justice for him.
Somethin' Ain't Right Here!
The local museum of Modern Art, Mass MoCA, has had one of its exhibit removed
because of the threat of bio-terrorism.
Now I'm not one to worry about black helicopters or anything like that, it really bothers me when an artist whose exhibit on genetically modified food contains "simple biology equipment" is being considered for indictment under the Patriot Act and the FBI is swooping in and confiscating his ensemble's museum installation.
On June 15 a federal grand jury will consider bioterrorism charges against Steve Kurtz, a Buffalo, N.Y. university professor who was working on an exhibit for Mass MoCA and belongs to the internationally acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble. The exhibit included the use of simple biology equipment, such as Petri dishes.
An FBI agent from Buffalo handed subpoenas to two of four ensemble artists, Beatriz da Costa and Steve Barnes, on May 30 outside the Holiday Inn in North Adams while the duo was in town for the opening of Mass MoCA's latest season, said Nato Thompson, associate curator. Both da Costa and Barnes are scheduled to testify.
Because materials intended for the art project were seized, an empty space and a sign explaining the situation stand in Mass MoCA where the exhibit would have been.
Early on the morning of May 11, Kurtz woke up to find wife, Hope, 45, dead of an apparent cardiac arrest, and called 911. Police arriving on the scene became alarmed when they found biological materials, according to the Associated Press.
Agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force then cordoned off and searched Kurtz's home.
Although Kurtz maintains the material was art intended for Mass MoCA, the materials police found -- one of Kurtz's colleagues said it included lab equipment used for DNA extraction and amplification, as well as three types of bacteria -- were enough to trigger fears of bioterrorism.
Crews in protective suits spent two days removing materials from Kurtz's home, testing for ricin, anthrax and plague.
Da Costa told the Associated Press that the bacteria Kurtz was using in his exhibit included E. coli, bacillus globigii and serratia, which she said were "completely harmless" and commonly used in research.
Although [Kurtz's] house was closed for two days, the New York Commissioner of Health opened the home after that time, based on preliminary reports, said Moskal.
So, the tests came back clean enough to allow Kurtz's house to be occupied again, but they still want to charge him with bio-terror. I've got news for the FBI, I've potentially got e coli growing on the ground beef in my fridge.
Unless there is a *major* piece of the puzzle missing here, we have the Patriot Act being abused to shut up a lefty creative type who expresses his opinion through art.
We really are living in the Twilight Zone, aren't we?
If Paula Jones could sue Bill Clinton...
could an Iraqi sue W?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Americans can sue foreign governments over looted art, stolen property and war crimes dating to the 1930s, a victory for an elderly California woman trying to get back $150 million worth of paintings stolen by the Nazis more than 65 years ago.
I was just offered a weekly column in the local paper. Cool. Unfortunately it will take much of my 2 am blogging time to write.
I need a job that requires less than 60 hours a week!
The Path Not Taken
Recently I was chatting with my wife and the subject of military service came up. And while I never served, at a few specific times during my adult life I seriously contemplated enlisting.
One of those times was a few days after 9/11.
In those dark and scary days we were sitting on pins and needles wondering when and where the next attack would from. No one knew if the threat was a massive force of underground cells ready to pounce on all of America's shopping malls and skyscrapers as soon as we turned our backs.
It was in this mind set that I recall talking to my wife about enlisting because I have a very specific skill set that institutions like the Military need. I can plan menus, order food, cook it well and feed groups of up to several thousand at a time in a fairly efficient manner. It seemed reasonable that such skill might be required if there was a huge military mobilization.
Fortunately al Qaida turned out to be much smaller and less embedded than we had feared. And our military was pretty efficient in almost crushing them before we confused their mission with Chalabi's secret agenda.
But why does this matter now?
Because the biggest opportunity lost in those days following the attacks on NYC and the Pentagon was the chance to bring and *keep* the country together. The Congress was willing to pass legislation that the Executive branch claim to need without much thought. Regardless of what you think of the Patriot Act its passage was an amazing show of bipartisanship. The authorization to go after the terrorists with the full military force of the US is another example.
The world offered us anything we needed in the way of diplomatic, military and most significantly moral support.
So WTF happened?
My first inkling that the administration and certain conservatives saw this unrivaled unity as an opportunity to ram an agenda down our throats was the unbelievable way that they were fawning over President Bush's performance in the days and weeks after 9/11. He was called Churchillian. We were told that there were unnamed Democrats who were "relieved" that Al Gore had lost the election. We were told lies about Air Force One being a specific target. There were lots of little things that made me wonder if the partisanship had really stopped, or if Karl Rove was being opportunistic.
Then the legislative fight began. Bush and the GOP were willing to scrap the new airport safety bill because the future employees might unionize. And don't forget the tax cuts.
When a few voices on the Democratic side of the aisle suggested that cutting taxes for the second time in a year for the uber-wealthy might not be in the country's best interest, they were labeled as treacherous. Not just by the GOP, mind you, but by the press as well. How dare a legislator express an economic opinion that differed from Dear Leader's vision!
Of course the biggest wedge that separated the true American patriots from us traitors was Iraq. The press all but ignored the 50% of the country that opposed the war prior to its onset. (I was actually a very reluctant supporter who thought that we were rushing in waaaayy too fast.) But those on the left who voiced that Operation Iraqi Freedom was misguided or folly were roundly criticized as enemies of freedom or worse.
Recently those who called the Iraqi prison abuse scandal an outrageous betrayal of American values were labeled as abbetters of Saddam and Osama by right wing pundits and politicians. Senator Inhofe's asinine comment that he "is outraged by the outrage" of the "humanitarian do-gooders" is the classic example.
Now here we are almost 3 years after 9/11 and one year after the Iraq invasion. My, how things have changed.
Our allies are wary and tired of us. Our enemies are emboldened by this administration's recklessness. Our soldiers are at greater risk than ever and wondering how, why and when they will be pulling out of Iraq. The military as a whole has been stretched to a breaking point revealing weaknesses that I'm sure Kim Jong Il has noticed. Islamic Jihadists are reportedly having more success recruiting martyrs and soldiers than ever before. And we've cried wolf so often, that our National Alert System has turned into a joke. If a real danger were to arise, we'd be in trouble.
The press seemed to wake up around the time of the 9/11 Commission hearings and Richard Clark's revelations about the incoherence of Bush's terror policy. Once the 4th Estate started covering some of these shortcomings, the mushy middle of the American electorate actually wisened up to what some have been saying for 3 1/2 years: That this administration is motivated only by the political perceptions of their actions. The only principle that matters is will any action gain or cost votes at the ballot box.
Four years ago the country was torn. We had an outgoing popular President in severe partisan turmoil and two political parties that seemed more interested in beating each other up than building up a political structure that provided a vision and leadership. One of the common themes in the 2000 election was the question of which candidate could heal these wounds most effectively. Its tragic, but we are far worse off in this respect now than we were at the end of the stained blue dress impeachment fiasco
So my ultimate point.... They could have had me and many more like me. I was ready to sacrifice on behalf of my country. (Not necessarily in the military, but in any way needed) I wanted to be used for the good of the nation.
I wanted the President to ask me to serve a greater cause and forget the past two decades of poltical wrangling. Instead I was called a traitor because I said I didn't need a tax cut.
And so it begins
... and at the NYTimes
, no less. Then again Nagourney is a major league script writer:
From the shores of Normandy to President Bush's campaign offices outside Washington, Mr. Bush and his political advisers embraced the legacy of Ronald Reagan on Sunday, suggesting that even in death, Mr. Reagan had one more campaign in him — this one at the side of Mr. Bush.
Mr. Kerry's campaign canceled five days of events, in what aides described as both a gesture of respect to Mr. Reagan and a bow to the reality that the world would not be paying much attention to Mr. Kerry this week.
Soon we will find out that Barbara Bush and the Gipper were knocking boots in '45.
Myth # 2
Atrios and friends do a very effective job of debunking the myth that Reagan was the most popular modern American President.
I found this
while I was busy debunking Reagan myths at Eschaton. It's 10 years old, which actually helps its credibility since it was written prior to the right-wing jihad of the late '90s:
Forty years of arms competition, so the argument goes, brought the Soviet economy to the brink of collapse. The Vatican's Secretary of State, Agostino Cardinal Casaroli, said, "Ronald Reagan obligated the Soviet Union to increase its military spending to the limits of insupportability." When the Soviet Union could no longer afford the competition, its leaders decided to end the Cold War. A modified version of this argument holds that the American military buildup simply worsened the Soviet economic quandary; it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Neither the strong nor the weak version of the proposition that American defense spending bankrupted the Soviet economy and forced an end to the Cold War is sustained by the evidence.
The Soviet Union's defense spending did not rise or fall in response to American military expenditures. Revised estimates by the Central Intelligence Agency indicate that Soviet expenditures on defense remained more or less constant throughout the 1980s. Neither the military buildup under Jimmy Carter and Reagan nor SDI had any real impact on gross spending levels in the USSR. At most SDI shifted the marginal allocation of defense rubles as some funds were allotted for developing countermeasures to ballistic defense.
If American defense spending had bankrupted the Soviet economy, forcing an end to the Cold War, Soviet defense spending should have declined as East-West relations improved. CIA estimates show that it remained relatively constant as a proportion of the Soviet gross national product during the 1980s, including Gorbachev's first four years in office. Soviet defense spending was not reduced until 1989 and did not decline nearly as rapidly as the overall economy.