Why Now?
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
  It's the Big Dog's Fault
Quiddity noticed Max Boot trying to spread the blame for Iraq with an "abridged" Clinton quote.

Yes, the Big Dog was annoyed with Saddam in December of 1998, and as a result he ordered Operation Desert Fox which punished Saddam for failing to cooperate with weapons inspections and finished off Saddam's WMD programs, at least according to those who went looking for WMDs after the invasion.

If people were really upset with Saddam's WMD program, why haven't they been condemning the Reagan administration for providing him with the chemicals and biological samples he used to create the programs. Ask Rumsfeld about it, he was Reagan's representative to Saddam when these decisions were made.

If you were paying attention you would note that Saddam is being tried for an atrocity unrelated to WMDs, so he will be convicted and executed to prevent any testimony about potentially embarrassing American complicity in the WMD programs.


  The "Holiday" Spirit
Wanda has a great rant on the meaning of Christmas which is at variance with what Jeff at Speedkill has found to be O'Reilly's meaning of Christmas.

This leads me to my seasonal rant about the inappropriateness of the gifts that the Three Magi brought with them. On the surface it might seem that gold, frankincense, and myrrh were valuable and wonderful gifts, but let's have a reality check.

You have a young family with a new child in a stable because of a lack of suitable housing. Nothing these guys schlepped into Bethlehem affected that problem, but they caused another problem.

Why were Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem? To pay taxes. When you are in the process of paying taxes do you really want strangers to hand you valuable imported gifts? Does anyone think that Roman tax guys were less suspicious than the IRS? Where does a poor Jewish carpenter get gold and chunks of imported tree sap used in incense and perfumes?

If they had dropped by with an amphora of a decent red, some diapers, and a car seat for the donkey, they would have been "wise men". The stuff they brought made them look like "wise guys" involved in a smuggling operation.


Great, now I'm getting "phishing" e-mail from Brazil in Portuguese. This is a serious waste of bandwidth, as it is highly unlikely I would have an account in a Brazilian bank. We need a central clearing house for this garbage, rather than having to forward these things to "abuse" sites at individual banks.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005
  It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Officially November 30th is the last day of the hurricane season, but with tropical storm Epsilon popping up today as tropical storm Delta came ashore in Morocco, it doesn't look like everyone received the memo.


  Fear and Loathing
Showing once again his inability to face people, the Shrubbery held a speech on immigration reform before an array of customs, immigration and border patrol officers at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.

Davis-Monthan is best known as the graveyard for old aircraft. You can see the rows, upon rows of aircraft from the Interstate as you drive by.

Again, he speaks on a military facility before a pre-selected audience. We have a shortage of people along the border, but dozens got time off to show up in uniform to act as a backdrop while the President of the United States compared their job to bass fishing.

I'm probably a bit uptight about this, but I don't think it is appropriate to call our current policy "catch and release".

If an undocumented individual is picked up, if they are determined to be Mexican, and if they waive a hearing, they are immediately transported back to Mexican control. If they are not Mexican, they are detained until they go through the deportation process.

If someone had improved our relations with the Mexican government, as they indicated they would, the system would probably be more effective. As things stand, the Mexican government has no reason to assist the current administration.

Of course, if the businesses that recruit undocumented workers faced real penalties, for example if certain large retailers were discouraged from using undocumented workers when building new Supercenters, and the government contractors hired to work in New Orleans lost their contracts for running buses down to Texas to bring back undocumented workers, things might improve.

The problem with building a fence from the Pacific to the Gulf, is that the contractors will probably hire undocumented workers to build it, and the smugglers will pay for unauthorized "gates" to be installed.

As for the "jobs that Americans don't want", how about paying a living wage for those jobs, something that doesn't require living in a canyon or tent, and Americans might want the jobs.


Monday, November 28, 2005
  A Righteous Rant
A lot of people have noted the legal troubles of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the member of Congress for the 50th district of California. A number have expressed some sympathy for him and commended him for standing up, pleading guilty, and resigning from Congress.

I was living in San Diego when he first ran for Congress and his campaign was " I'm an ace, so you have to vote for me." Over the years he has used his status as a combat veteran to attack anyone who disagreed with him, and to justify his pronouncements on all things military.

He sat on committees and subcommittees important to the defense of this country and he sold his influence to the highest bidder. He was so blatant about it that pleading guilty was his only option. He left behind a paper trail of deeds and registrations for real estate and a Rolls Royce that are hard to hide.

I'm not sure about the status of his military retirement after being convicted of a felony, but I feel certain that it will have no effect on either his Social Security benefits or his Congressional pension. While he has lost $2.5 million in ill-gotten gains, neither he nor his family will be living in poverty.

I have no sympathy for Cunningham, and wouldn't object to his being staked out on a fire ant bed for what he did. He directed contracts to the people who paid him. He didn't care about the quality of the products and services that those people provided to the military, all he cared about was buying a mansion, a Rolls, living on a yacht, and throwing a big party for his daughter's graduation.

If some enlisted-type dies as a result of the bad equipment that the friends of "Duke" sold to the Pentagon, that's not as important as driving a flashy car and having a Rancho Santa Fe address.

I expect this kind of crap from the Tom DeLays and Dick Cheneys who avoided the military, but Cunningham was a combat veteran and should have known how important those contracts were for the troops.

As an aside, if he had really cared about his constituents he could have resigned earlier so the election to fill his seat could have been held at the same time as the special election for the San Diego mayor and Arnold's initiatives. He was no less guilty in October than he is today.


Sunday, November 27, 2005
  The Fog of War
I have always respected Senator Warner so it was a bit distressing to learn what he was proposing in his appearance on Meet The Press:
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recalled that during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often went on the radio in "fireside chats" to explain to the nation in detail the conduct of the war in Europe and Asia.

"I think it would be to Bush's advantage," said Warner, who served in the Navy during the war. "It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have, about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public," he said.
The Senator misses the point that people have realized that the Shrubbery lies: he lied to get his war and he lies to continue it. FDR was a much better speaker with a much better message, and was speaking about a war that was forced upon the country, not a choice made by a cabal of zealots living in an alternate universe.

The Shrubbery only speaks in controlled environments to ensure he doesn't have to deal with the real world. Lately he has only been speaking at military facilities, because he is guaranteed a crowd that will be polite and respectful. He doesn't understand what is going on, so he certainly can't explain it.

When the Senator goes on to say that he has been assured that there is no problem with maintaining the current troop levels in Iraq because General Pace has told him that the Pentagon will do it by retraining existing units to fill the requirements, I'm forced to believe that Senator Warner hasn't been paying attention. The military has been doing this for some time, and they are running out of options.

Some units are facing a third deployment, the equipment is wearing out, recruitment is down, and we aren't dealing with the veterans in an honorable fashion. We can't continue and anyone who has been paying attention knows it.


Saturday, November 26, 2005
  It Was Forty Years Ago Today...
NPR marks the 40th anniversary of the actions by Arlo Guthrie on which Alice's Restaurant is based.

And, yes, he really was barred from entering the military and excluded from the draft based on a conviction for littering.


  This Is Not Vietnam
The Peter of Lone Tree post at Blonde Sense about US incursions into Syria to stop the infiltration of enemy forces across the border is nothing like the incursions into Cambodia to stop the infiltration of enemy forces.

This isn't anything like Vietnam, so move along, because there is going to be no Christmas bombing campaign. This is totally different. No similarity at all.


  The Hyper-Patriotic Order of ChickenHawks


A yellow ribbon with brown edges indicating that they listen to bad pop songs, and what would happen if they had to serve. The bronzed base metal medallion has a bas-relief of a mouthy cartoon character with delusions of grandeur. The members are awarded the white feather device for each armed conflict they advocated for while avoiding service.


Members of the order tend to wear these on their lapels rather than the miniature ribbon pin


  A Weekend Rant
This was triggered by a djhlights at Exit Stage Left post on a Kirk Vonnegut interview and a Bob Geiger at Yellow Dog Blog post on those attacking Jack Murtha.

Both Vonnegut and Murtha are combat veterans whose view of war is colored by that experience. Their experience does not mean they cannot be criticized, nor does it mean that they are automatically right, but it damn sure means they have a right to be heard on the subject without having their courage or patriotism questioned.

This is not a new phenomenon, during the Civil War William Tecumseh Sherman noted:
It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.
Those attacking veterans approve of the Quintus Horatius Flaccus [Horace] phrase Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori [It is sweet and proper to die for your country], decrying the conclusion of Wilfred Owen's poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est that is "The Big Lie".

Wilfred Owen was a British officer in World War I who was awarded the Military Cross, and died a week before the armistice.

General George Patton, "Old Blood and Guts" didn't think much of Horace's view:
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
The world would be a better place if those who advocate war were required to back up their calls with their bodies. I'm sure one of these "survivor" shows would be happy to pay for an island somewhere for these jingoistic people to demonstrate how wars should be conducted.


Friday, November 25, 2005
  A New Level of Hell
I'm proposing a new level of hell for whoever designs Christmas lights, and a lower level for the pervert who thinks they should put a "blinker" on the string.

Three hours messing around with one single decoration and cramps in my hands from swapping bulbs to check them.


  Friday Cat Blogging Duo[Kevin Drum]


Friday Cat Blogging

Move, Sox, the angle is a little off.

[Editor: A helpful demonstration by Dot.]

Samantha and Tabitha


  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

Sox Chills Out

Friday Cat Blogging

Wow! What a Rush!

[Editor: Sox is ready to leap into action...or not. Standard flash problem with his pupils and his L-Tryptophan level has spiked.]

Friday Ark


Wednesday, November 23, 2005
  Happy Thanksgiving
TurkeyMy view of Thanksgiving was skewed by my Father's attitude. Having grown up on a poultry farm, he viewed the holiday as the culmination of weeks of work "processing" dozens of turkeys to be frozen and readying a few dozen more for fresh delivery. We generally ate ham when he was alive.

Having been on my Grandfather's farm at this time of year I can understand my Dad's attitude: our meal was subject to interruption by people picking up a fresh turkey at the last minute. A sale is a sale when you are business for yourself.

Tomorrow I will be at my Mother's for a turkey, which I'm picking up from a local supermarket already cooked. My older brother and his wife are here, so it will be busier than normal.

Enjoy your meal and try to forget about the world's problems for a day: they'll still be there on Friday.

[Tropical Storm Δ Delta is too far away to worry about.]


Tuesday, November 22, 2005
  What Do Democrats Believe?
From the web site of Paul Hackett running for Senator in Ohio:
"I'm a Democrat and proud of it...we are the party that wants to keep government out of the private lives of Americans and focus the government's energy and power on creating a strong economy and a balanced budget...I don't need Washington and its career politicians to tell me how to worship my God or to dictate to my wife the decisions she makes with her doctor anymore than I need Washington to tell my neighbors what they can do in the privacy of their own home or how many and what types of guns I can keep in my gun safe."

"But I do need Washington to wisely manage our military might and our economic budget so that my neighbors and I can safely provide for our families."
Mr. Hackett is the first Marine Congresscritter Jean Schmidt attacked for being less patriotic and courageous that she is.


  It Could Be Worse
I did a lot of work for developers when I lived in San Diego and listened to their complaints about all of the roadblocks that interfered with ability to "rape" the landscape and build their "cracker box" houses. [As listening was billable time, I didn't object to their rants. Some of their complaints were actually reasonable, but that didn't make the profits earned on their "products" less obscene.]

I can imagine the reaction of some of those people if faced with the circumstances described in this Times [the real one in London] story: Fairies stop developers' bulldozers in their tracks
Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000.


The Planning Inspectorate has no specific guidelines on fairies but a spokesman said: "Planning guidance states that local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when a developer applies for planning permission." Mr Salter said: "We had to redesign the entire thing from scratch."
That's right, the entire up-scale housing development was redesigned to accommodate the "fairies".


  No Sense of Humour
A lot of people in Britain are upset with the program, Bring Your Husband To Heel, and have written to complain.

Apparently it doesn't occur to them that a show that copies the format of many of the popular programs about training pets, and uses this model to offer help to "wives" with problem "husbands" might be satire.

I haven't seen this show, but having seen some the British shows on teaching pet obedience, I wasn't always sure the "serious" pet shows weren't a bit "Pythonesque".


It was late morning and I was on my way to a chemistry class. I had stopped for a drink of water when the news came over the speakers in the classrooms.

For those who weren't alive at the time: remember what you felt on September 11, 2001 for a taste of November 22, 1963. It was a massive change for the worldview of my generation and it marked the beginning of a period of disruption and decline in the civility of American society. Arthur had died and Camelot fell.

At his inauguration John Kennedy made the point: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

The colors of my world will never be as bright as they were on November 21, 1963.


Monday, November 21, 2005
  A Year?
CandleAccording to the calendar I've been doing this for a year, so this is my first blogiversary™ [Talk Left] in blogtopia™ [skippy the bush kangaroo].

During that span I've managed to put out 966 articles, including Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum], and about 2,000 people a month drop by to see what has annoyed me enough to write about, a big group apparently interested in hurricanes.

If what I do annoys you, after cursing me, you can blame Andante at Collective Sigh and Steve Bates at Yellow Doggerel Democrat for making me think I should do this rather than clogging up their comments, which I continue to do in any case.

I started to relieve the pressure of the last election, just as many started to get involved a year prior to it. Blogging is much preferred to yelling at the members of the Religious Reich who surround me in one of the reddest counties of an extremely red segment of the South.

The local puppy trainer is considered a member of the "liberal media", which is amazing considering that the main Sunday opinion piece is usually written by a member of the Cato Institute and the paper is owned by a libertarian company.

You find more "fish" on cars and business signs than in the bayou anymore, but the local "Christians" still feel oppressed. Every time a large business goes out of business you know the building will become a "church" in time, the result of a schism in one of the other "churches". There are eight pages for churches in the local Yellow Pages, and a separate "Christian" business directory so you can be sure that the guy who unplugs your drain is "saved". I'm not sure what the difference would be between "Pagan" and "Christian" carpet cleaning, but some people apparently don't want to take the chance.

I have no reason to think that things are going to get better any time soon, so I'll probably continue.


Sunday, November 20, 2005
  Perhaps There's A Problem
An Arab League conference in Cairo designed to bring the various sectarian groups in Iraq together to plan a later conference in Iraq was interrupted when Shi'ites and Kurds walked out. The delegates were a bit miffed when an Iraqi Christian called them US lackeys and dismissed the entire process in Iraq as illegitimate.

The Saudis stepped in and paid made everyone apologize and promise to play nice.

Iraq is an artificial construct that was held together by force. The US invasion removed that force and the "nation" is breaking up just like Yugoslavia after the death of Tito. The Kurds in the North and Shi'ia in the South will have oil wealth, but there is no source of wealth for the Sunnis in the middle. Having been associated with the regime of Saddam, the Sunnis doubt that they can have a comfortable existence when they are dependent on "the kindness of strangers".

This is why his neighbors didn't want Saddam removed after Gulf War I. Iran is the only winner, and everyone who understands the area knows it.


  Yeah, Right
On ABC's This Week Rumsfeld said that military commanders will determine when and how a pullout will occur.

Just like General Shinseki determined force requirements for the invasion.

We all know that the military is going to have to figure out how to draw down forces to boost Republican chances in the 2006 elections.

Jack Murtha is angry about going to the hospitals without being able to tell the casualties why they were wounded in Iraq and when the war will end. No one in this administration can answer Cindy Sheehan's question.


  Listen Up You Twit
"...the power of example means a lot more than the example of power."

William Jefferson Clinton speaking at the dedication of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky on November 19th, 2005.

Are you listening, George? That's how popular Presidents speak.

Also, if you are going to leave in a huff [or a minute and a huff], you should first find out which doors work. [What a maroon!]


  Happy Blogiversary[Talk Left]
Old White Lady at It's Morning Somewhere has made it through her first year in blogtopia™ [skippy the bush kangaroo].

Wander over and congratulate her, but avoid the Dante link, you really don't want to know.


Saturday, November 19, 2005
  But, We're The Good Guys
The United States demands that other countries provide witnesses to United Nations inspectors and investigators and allow the witnesses to be questioned in private, but when the UN asks for private visits with Guantanamo detainees, the Bush administration said no.

As the BBC reports the UN rejected Guantanamo visit offer, because the US refused to allow the private visits.

More and more the US is being compared to Iraq under Saddam, and from the point of view of an outsider, we are looking worse and worse.

Having already broken the unwritten rule about partisan attacks while speaking at military bases, the Shrubbery is now doing it while on a foreign trip. The man has absolutely no class, and is an embarrassment to the country. The only thing that would help his abysmal poll numbers would be to act "Presidential", but he has chosen to be a candidate in a non-existent campaign.


  Nothing To See, Move Along
It is a matter of sheer coincidence that the day a purported post by his hoppiness shows up announcing a Thanksgiving trip to Paris by the marsupial master of miniscule and spouse, the BBC reports that the Australians are beginning to market a line of products made from kangaroos, including possibly SKIPPY STEAK.



  Multiple Uses
John McKay has a post on the introduction of the cardboard box into Strong Museum's Toy Hall of Fame.

After reading about FEMA's pre-Christmas present to hurricane evacuees, an attempt to force them out of hotels, I think the refrigerator carton may become the new FEMA standard for housing.

While I can understand that it is much cheaper to live in a rental unit than a hotel, there are many fewer rental units available after the hurricanes, and the FEMA requirement that landlords have to accept amount of the FEMA voucher as the monthly rent doesn't correspond to reality. FEMA's estimate of the rental price for a market would seem to be on the low side and further restricts choices in an already tight housing market.

Cardboard cartons may well be in the future for many evacuees.


Culture Ghost has a post regarding a wish to be on O'Reilly's "Enemies List", which many may have read, but go back and look at the side-by-side pictures of Joe McCarthy and O'Reilly.

Maybe it's something the bile does to your features, a warning sign, like the garish colors on venomous reptiles.


There are a lot of comparisons around between the war in Iraq and Vietnam, but, at the command level, the mistakes are older.

Karen at Dark Bilious Vapors goes back to the Peninsula War of the early 19th century for Murdering Officers, an allusion to the Sharpe's Rifles series.

The Crimean War continued the tradition with The Charge of the Light Brigade, of which French General Pierre Bosquet said: "C'est magnifique, mais il n'est pas la guerre." [It's magnificent, but it isn't war.]

Ambrose Burnsides is a Civil War example of this type of officer at the The Battle of Fredericksburg, as was, uncharacteristically, Lee with Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.

But the concept reached its zenith in the Great War, which lead to many remarkable antiwar books, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque perhaps the best known.

The Battle of the Somme which was fought from July 1st until November 18th, 1916 resulted in 420,000 British casualties, 200,000 French casualties, and 500,000 German casualties and only altered the front line 12 kilometers. Approximately 20,000 British soldiers were killed on the first day alone, but General Haig continued to send waves of troops to be mown down by machine guns.

This is the probable setting for Stanley Kubrik's Paths of Glory in which the character, General Broulard says: "There are few things more fundamentally stimulating that watching another man die."

This administration is filled with Broulards, sacrificing the children of others to justify their obsessions and unwilling to admit their failures.


  Just A Thought
If the Republicans would really like to "support the troops", instead of asking a bunch of politicians if the US should withdraw immediately, why don't we sponsor a vote among the troops in Iraq?

We should be sure that those wearing the 18,000 body armor vests that have been recalled as defective are included in the vote.


Friday, November 18, 2005
  A Closed Noose
I said in A Closed Loop that it would be "my last mention of the existence of the group, unless an interesting set of court cases ensues", well that didn't take long.

Too bad they don't have anyone with legal training or an understanding of the Internet in the group...

[It is extremely difficult to type while laughing this hard.]


In a thinly veiled Republican stunt the leadership of the House has scheduled a vote on a measure that is supposed to embarrass Democrats in general and Representative "Jack" Murtha in particular:
Murtha offered a resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region. It also said the U.S. must pursue stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

But House Republicans planned to put to a vote - and reject - their own resolution that simply said: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
At some point in the future historians will wonder:

How the Busheviki can justify not killing or capturing Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi any of the three times he and his group were located in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq prior to the start of the war?

How they can justify not closing the trap on Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri when they were in Tora Bora?

How they can justify protecting the Mujahedin-e Khalq [MEK] when Iran is willing to swap Al Qaeda and Taliban captives for the MEK?

It isn't the end of this conflict that is going to make the Shrubbery the worst President in US history; it is the beginning and conduct of the war.

[And, as my Mother noted yesterday, an economy worse than Hoover, corruption worse than Harding, and less honor than Nixon.]


  Three Rounds, No Holds Barred
CBS News is reporting that the Vatican's chief astronomer says "intelligent design" isn't science.
The Reverend George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.
So, what we should do is schedule a debate between Father Coyne and Pat Robertson on the issue. Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice would be neutral ground. No written or recorded memory aids, and no voice amplification.


  Tropical Storm Gamma Lives
Because Momma Nature was sure everyone wanted another storm, she provides us with Tropical Storm Gamma off the coast of Belize.

The storm is predicted to follow the same general path as hurricane Wilma.


  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

Cluster of Cold Cats

Friday Cat Blogging

Turn up the blanket!

[Editor: Ringo, Dot, and Sox call a truce as a cold front moves through and drops temperatures to around 40°.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, November 17, 2005
  The Backlash Continues
So I'm messing around with the radio on and I hear on NPR's All Things Considered National security correspondent Jackie Northam actually reporting on the Shrubbery and Mole Rat's claim that Congress had the same intelligence that the White House had when they voted for the bill authorizing force to be used in Iraq if Saddam didn't comply with United Nation's Security Council resolutions [no, folks they did not vote on a declaration of war against Iraq, they voted to use force if Saddam did comply].

You can listen to the audio link at: White House Takes On Iraq Critics.

The short version: Congress didn't get all the intelligence, and what was missing were the intelligence reports that said that a lot of what they did get was bogus.

Just so no one thinks that NPR has decided to totally convert to reality, they followed this with a Barbara Bradley Hagerty piece on what a wonderful thing it would be for separation of church and state for Scalito to be confirmed as he would decide these issues exactly like Justice O'Connor, so he's really not as radical as people would think from his opinions, oh and he ruled in favor of Muslim police officers' beards, so he supports all religions and there's nothing to worry about.


Publius at Legal Fiction reports on This Year's Jingoism, the attempt regain control of the situation by the Shrubbery and the Mole Rat.

I think his analysis is valid and has resulted in a backlash from many people who might have remained silent.

Among one of the most respected Democratic officials on defense, Congressman John Murtha [D-PA], a retired Colonel in the Marine Reserves and a member of Congress for over 30 years, has had enough. He voted to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq, but he sees no point in continuing the operation.

From the CNN report:
"U.S. and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq," the senior lawmaker said. "It's time for a change in direction."

He said he believes all the forces could be redeployed over a six-month period.

Murtha, a former Marine Corps colonel and veteran of the Vietnam war, is the first senior lawmaker to call for an immediate withdrawal. Other critics of the war have asked President Bush to set up a timetable for withdrawal.


"I resent the fact that on Veterans Day, they criticized Democrats for criticizing them," Murtha said. "This [the war] is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it, and lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You've got to change the policy. That's what's going to help the American people. You need to change direction."
Murtha is respected on both sides of the aisle for his view on defense issues, and his open shift to opposing the war will provide cover for others, and hopefully some spine to Democrats.

[Update: My bad - I first noticed this at NTodd's place.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005
  A Closed Loop
The group formerly known by some as "Pajama Media" have finally decided to bring their concept on-line and a strange piece of cognitive dissonance it is.

Steve at The Modulator puts us on a path to The Talent Show where you find the door to the "rabbit hole".

They have decided to call themselves Open Source Media, which strongly conflicts with their privacy and use statement that attempts to copyright everything that exists in their world. They have even trademarked their initials. This is a bit odd as Open Source Media, Inc. is an established enterprise and might have something to say about that.

Their Universal Resource Locator is osm.org, which doesn't seem to show much confidence in their profit potential.

They apparently found out that osm.com belongs to Oregon Steel Mills,
opensource.com belongs to Red Hat, and opensourcemedia.com is the property of Zope Corporation.

Of course pajamamedia.com is also taken, but a few searches might have led them to a better name choice, one that is not so at odds with their concept.

I didn't link to them because they apparently don't want me to, so this will be my last mention of the existence of the group, unless an interesting set of court cases ensues.


  Spot On
Clif over at Ouside The Tent has what he considers the best Brooks quote ever, and I would certainly concur.

I would wonder how anyone who claims to have read Edmund Burke could support the Shrubbery. Burke supported freedom for the American colonies because of the actions of the British government, so how can Brooks the anti-democratic acts at home and imperialism abroad that characterize the current administration?

One must conclude that Brooks still dwells in the deep end of the pool of "ignorance".


  Saddie Passes
It is with deep sorrow that I note the passing of Saddie, the friend of Old White Lady, Cotton, and Sergeant Mango.

Dot, Sox, Ringo, and I extend our condolences to them.

This has been a sad week for those of us with feline friends.


  "Shake and Bake"
In the grim, black humor of the military "shake and bake" refers to alternating white phosphorus rounds [WP - "Willy Pete"] with high explosive rounds [HE - "Ham and Eggs"]. The WP forces the enemy out of their positions increasing the likelihood of their being killed by the HE.

The WP rounds are normally used to mark locations for air strikes, to provide illumination, or to generate smoke screens. Many would be familiar with the use of "tracer" rounds in machine guns to assist in aiming the weapon, especially when used against aircraft.

Ever since the battle of Falluja there have been reports from various source that the United States forces had used incendiary weapons in the battle. Many said that napalm or the reformulated MK 77 Mod 5 bombs were used in the city. Some of the reporting was based on the appearance of burns on the bodies of the dead from city.

After more than a year of denials the BBC now reports:
The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Falluja.

"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.

The US earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all.

Col Venable denied that the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - constituted a banned chemical weapon.

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.

Col Venable said a statement by the US state department that white phosphorus had not been used was based on "poor information".
I heard the interview with Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, US Army, Pentagon spokesman and certified obnoxious twit. Some of the BBC correspondents have the demeanor of a rabid pit bull when questioning people, for example, I'm sure that the Oxford English Dictionary has a picture of Jeremy Paxman in its entry on obnoxious, but the individual interviewing Venable was just trying to get a straight answer.

Venable spent the entire interview playing with definitions. Somewhat like a cat who has had an "accident" on a tile floor, Venable was "scratching" for cover. If Venable and other spokesweasels would really like to improve the image of the United States in the world community, they might try giving straight answers to questions. The "poor information" the State Department had was a Defense Department lie. The truth is a powerful weapon that the Pentagon might want to consider for inclusion in the American arsenal.


  When Did The Military Join The Republican Party?
Mustang Bobby has a Good Question.

The question is contained in a Josh Marshall post of a reader's e-mail:

"...When did it become appropriate for the Commander-in-Chief to go onto a military installation before a military crowd and denounce the opposition party?..."

Josh notes: "...it's also on the eve of a trip abroad."

Bobby picks up the point and posts about the speech the Shrubbery gave at Elmendorf AFB while flying to Asia for several meetings. In the speech to Air Force personnel he repeats his denunciation of Democrats.

Read the founding documents. Show me where in those documents there is any support for a President making blatantly political speeches to the military of the United States. Show me the references that say the military isn't required to be apolitical and non-partisan. Show the Department of Defense directives or articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that encourage partisan political activity by active duty members of the military.

I want some demonstration of anything in the traditions, customs, rules and/or regulations that would make anyone believe that partisan political activities are acceptable on the installations of any of the Armed Forces of the United States.

If you can't leave your political rhetoric outside the main gate, don't enter the installation.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005
  Christmas Traditions
While I realize that different groups have different traditions, one common understanding, firmly enforced by my Mother, is no Christmas decorations or music before Thanksgiving. She complains loudly when she encounters stores that start the process early as she feels it commercializes the season.

Fortunately she hasn't been able to get out and about since leaving the hospital or she would be thoroughly annoyed by locations that had Christmas merchandise on the shelves before Halloween.

One of those she would be "expelling from the temple" would be a certain terrorist sympathizer who already has Christmas decorations up and Christmas "gifts" available in a most commercial manner, while claiming to be a defender of the holiday.

Commercial exploitation does not a Christian make.


  The Need For A Liberal Arts Education
Norbizness brings his own inimitable style to the whole issue of habeas corpus and in the end displays one of the common threads of a liberal arts education, which does not require going to college, only the ability and willingness to read.

After he outlines the tortured labyrinthine logic by which Graham attempts to flush a millennia of legal precedent down the odious latrine of Guantánamo, he declares by quote the effort to be "Kafkaesque".

To those unfamiliar with his writings, I have often described Franz Kafka as Joseph Heller without the humor.

After the Shrubbery, the world will be ready for a Kafka revival. Even in translation from his native German, his descriptions of bureaucracies based on a short term of employment in an insurance company have never been surpassed.

It would be a publishing triumph: The Shrubbery by Franz Kafka, illustrations by Hieronymus Bosch.


  My Sympathies
NTodd, Stef, Cairo, and Sam have lost their friend, Saffron.

Dot, Sox, Ringo and I join with Bobby, Michael, and others in offering our condolences.

Friends are a gift of great worth and are sorely missed.


  Trust Me, I Lied
Everyone knows about Alito's letter to the Reagan administration when he was seeking a job saying that he was totally opposed to Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, "one man - one vote", etc.

Well, he met with Senator Feinstein today and indicated that those were just things he said to get a job, and he didn't really mean them.

Soooooo, you lied to get that job, Sam, and we should believe what you are saying to get this one?


Monday, November 14, 2005
  Tropical Storm Gamma?
Come on, Guys, the Gulf is cooling, there are only two weeks left, how about a break.

This morning Bobby and Robert spotted the news of tropical depression 27 in the Caribbean Sea.

While it is currently being suppressed by wind shear, it is expected to become Tropical Storm Г [Gamma] by the end of the week and hit Central America, which is still recovering from Hurricane Beta.


  Exculpatory Evidence
All too often criminal convictions get thrown out because prosecutors "forgot" to provide the defense with exculpatory evidence that was gathered during the investigation.

Exculpatory evidence covers facts that tend to show that the defendant did not commit the crime, and conflict with the case the prosecutor presented to the jury. If the omission is egregious, the prosecutor could be in trouble for prosecutorial misconduct.

In Kevin Drum's article Manipulating Intelligence you will see a simple exposition of the "exculpatory evidence" that the Shrubbery hid from the world, when he decided to "prosecute" Saddam Hussein.

The only information that was declassified and presented to the public was information that supported the case for war. The "exculpatory evidence" was redacted and remained classified. Those who knew of its existence could not speak out without violating the law.

Those who criticized the intelligence that was used to support the war didn't know about all of the doubts the intelligence agencies had about that intelligence.

They lied by omission, and they continue to lie.


  Dumber Than Rocks
Via Susie and Laura we discover the naïeté of the Wall Street Journal: "...And we know for a fact that information wrung from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others has helped prevent further attacks on U.S. soil."

Sorry, but "we" know no such thing, we have been told that this is true by the same group that told us that Saddam had tons of WMDs and the ability to attack the United States with them.

If the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal is this gullible after all of the evidence of the past several years, one can understand why they missed all the accounting scandals and the less than stellar performance of their parent company's "Industrial Average" since they decided that George W. Bush was the man to lead the country to a stronger economy.

This is what happens when you put sandstone in a suit.


  Oh, Great
Thanks for the advanced warning guys.
Maintenance on Monday, November 14

We are planning a two hour outage this evening from 9p to 11p (PST). This is to complete the network maintenance we've been performing over the last several weeks.
– Jason G. [11/14/2005 10:27:00 AM]


Sunday, November 13, 2005
  At War With the Constitution
Mickey at 3 Old Men ruminates on the number of basic elements of the Constitution that seem to be under question recently. Why are we suddenly interested in altering the basic framework of our government?

In line with that, Kevin Drum notes the reluctance of our political leaders to act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and obtain declarations of war when it is necessary to use the military for extended periods. The Congress did not actually authorize the Iraq War if you read the bill that was passed, but it refused to hold the President to the limitations contained in the bill.

This leads back to my discussion on habeas corpus: if no war has been declared, where is the basis for suspending the writ?

Djhlights at Exit Stage Left talks about the example of Lincoln suspending the writ during the Civil War, which was the basis for ex parte Milligan. Even though Lincoln was dealing with a rebellion as required by the Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled that he overstepped the bounds in the case of Milligan.

How difficult is "innocent until proven guilty"? It makes no difference what you call the individual in detention, they have a right to due process, so long as it is available.

The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that those in current control of the government of the United States do not believe in the rule of law.


  Tsk, Tsk
First I would like to thank Mustang Bobby and Steve Bates for their valiant attempts to quell the spreading virus of skippy's deplorable Google bomb for terrorist sympathizer. I commend them for their attempts to raise the tenor of the conversation.

I suspected that George would join the "terrorist sympathizer" bandwagon as he was the originator of the infamous Miserable Failure effort.

Unfortunately Maru and Upyernoz feel that terrorist sympathizer is a justified label and come down with skippy.

More distressingly, Phinky at Ignorant Hussy not only supports the terrorist sympathizer meme, but thinks that a certain odious media conglomerate headed by a noisome Australian cane toad should be identified as an evil empire. While I don't disagree that many of its subsidiaries do seem to lack any commitment to reality or the concept of the truth, referring to this global spider's web of disinformation as an evil empire is not very polite. Consider for a moment, these people may not be evil, they could just be incredibly ignorant or, possibly, confused by physician prescribed medication.

If we continue with things like the terrorist sympathizer and evil empire campaigns, people will think that we are totally fed up with being abused by group of ignorant, disingenuous twits and fighting back. This might cause Senator "Blanche" Frist to have another attack of the vapors and feel really poorly, although, probably not a poorly as the young lady he jilted two weeks before a planned wedding.


  We Goofed
There are going to be a lot of embarrassed people around blogtopia™ [skippy the bush kangaroo], about their complaints regarding the Shrubbery's Veterans Day speech.

Via Jillian, the doyenne of dough, at skippy the bush kangaroo, if we thought it was such a terrible speech, why didn't we complain about it when he gave it at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6th, 2005.

Well, now we know that he needs more than a month to learn a new speech. It's possible that he wore the same suit to both events and it's the speech that was in the pocket.


  A Question For Readers
There was a discussion about something the Postal Service did after hurricane Ivan at the Pensacola Beach Blog. They mentioned that the trash baskets had been removed at the Beach post office because people were filling them discarded "junk mail".

That struck a cord because I had been in my local post office last week and noticed all of the trash cans were missing from the lobby.

So we are wondering if this is a local thing, or the Postal Service has removed the refuse containers to force you to take the bulk mail with you.

If you go the post office, leave a comment about your local area and the presence or absence of litter baskets.



Saturday, November 12, 2005
  A New Bouquet
Via the Swashblogger at Scaramouche, the newest Mark Fiore cartoon is available.

[Even though he is a Bay Area blogger, Scaramouche would never descend to the level of the terrorist sympathizer ploy.]


  This Is Just Wrong
His hoppiness, the marsupial master of miniscule, skippy, the bush kangaroo, is recommending people engage in the deplorable practice of creating a Google bomb linking the term, terrorist sympathizer, with a certain obnoxious twit who has suggested that terrorists blow up a monument to the heroic firefighters who battled the multiple conflagrations that occurred after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and continue to risk their lives.

Just because this total moron is unaware that members of the San Francisco Fire Department are currently deployed in war zones with their National Guard and Reserve units is no reason to include <a href="http://www.billoreilly.com/">terrorist sympathizer</a> in posts on your web site, or in comments on the sites of others.

No matter how much of a terrorist sympathizer you believe this individual to be because of his mindless spewing of hate directed towards American voters and members of the military currently at risk, this is not nice.


While most of those who are deemed the winners of the Great War observed Armistice / Remembrance / Veterans Day yesterday, in the German Catholic areas of Europe "the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" marks the beginning of Fasching or Karneval which ends on Fastnacht. This is the extended period of parties and celebrations that ends on Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras being a shortened form of the season.

It is hardly a coincidence that the armistice that ended the First World War was timed to begin 11 minutes prior to the beginning of this festive season that encompasses Christmas, New Years, and Shrove Tuesday celebrations.

München hardly has time to recover from Oktoberfest before Fasching begins.


  Deliver The Body
The writ of habeas corpus is rather simple, it is a court order to the state to produce an individual held in detention for a hearing on whether there exists a reason to continue holding that person.

It is mentioned in Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution as a power of Congress:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in causes of rebellion or invasion of the public safety may require it.
From a BBC Magazine article on the history of habeas corpus:
It is thought to have been common law by the time of Magna Carta [1215], which says in Article 39: "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him except upon the lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land."
The suspension of habeas corpus has been reviewed by the Supreme Court following the Civil War in ex parte Milligan (71 US 2 [1866]):
In this case, Lambden Milligan, for whom the case is named, was arrested in Indiana as a Confederate sympathizer. Indiana, like the rest of the United States, was part of a military district set up to help conduct the war. Milligan was tried by military commission and sentenced to die by hanging. After his conviction, Milligan petitioned the Circuit Court for habeas corpus, arguing that his arrest, trial, and conviction were all unconstitutional. What the Supreme Court had to decide, it said, was "Had [the military commission] the legal power and authority to try and punish [Milligan]?"

Resoundingly, the Court said no. The Court stated what is almost painfully obvious: "Martial law ... destroys every guarantee of the Constitution." The Court reminded the reader that such actions were taken by the King of Great Britain, which caused, in part, the Revolution. "Civil liberty and this kind of martial law cannot endure together; the antagonism is irreconcilable; and, in the conflict, one or the other must perish."

Did this mean that martial law could never be implemented? No, the Court said. The President can declare martial law when circumstances warrant it: When the civil authority cannot operate, then martial law is not only constitutional, but would be necessary: "If, in foreign invasion or civil war, the courts are actually closed, and it is impossible to administer criminal justice according to law, then, on the theatre of active military operations, where war really prevails, there is a necessity to furnish a substitute for the civil authority, thus overthrown, to preserve the safety of the army and society; and as no power is left but the military, it is allowed to govern by martial rule until the laws can have their free course. As necessity creates the rule, so it limits its duration; for, if this government is continued after the courts are reinstated, it is a gross usurpation of power. Martial rule can never exist where the courts are open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It is also confined to the locality of actual war."
What would make Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC], who is not only a lawyer, but a Colonel and JAG in the Air Force Reserve, believe there was a basis for suspending habeas corpus for a group that has been arbitrarily designated "enemy combatants" by the Executive? The whole point of the writ of habeas corpus is to make the Executive justify its action.

The attack on September 11th, 2001 did not shut down the courts, even in New York City. There has been no invasion of the United States, nor has a rebellion taken place.

If the Congress of the United States believes it should suspend the writ of habeas corpus, that debate should take place in the open and the action should be part of a separate bill, not hidden away in other legislation.

I have nothing but scorn for the five Democratic Senators [Kent Conrad ND, Ron Wyden OR, Joe Lieberman CT, Ben Nelson NE, and Mary Landrieu LA] who voted for this abomination. Dozens of people who were spirited to Guantanamo were released because there was nothing to charge them with, this after they had been declared "enemy combatants". Serving military JAGs have said that the system of military tribunals set up is not just or fair. You have handed a major victory to Osama bin Laden by your actions, you have surrendered to the terrorists.


  Sony Comes To Its Senses
Steve Bates has posted that Sony CDs will no longer be shipped with the "rootkit" software on them.

His post has a list of CDs known to have the software installed, but any CD that has an XCP sticker on it, or is from one of the record companies listed should be treated as suspect.

This is another example of corporations making people pay to be used in a corporate marketing and research program. Just because Microsoft does it, doesn't make it a good idea.


  Who Did It?
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, now calling itself Al Qaeda in Iraq, is claiming credit for the bombings in Amman, Jordan, but something is wrong. The authorities are saying that the bombers were Iraqis. Al-Zarqawi's group is notably non-Iraqi, the "foreign fighters" that the Pentagon talks about.

Dr. Cole has his suspicions about this for his reasons, which make sense.

In a Washington Post article about recent tension between Jordanians and Iraqi immigrants, it is noted that the February 28th bombing that killed 125 people in the Iraqi city of Hilla was carried out by a Jordanian, a probable member of Al-Zarqawi's group.

Revenge is an old tradition in the land around the two rivers. The bombers seem to have targeted a Jordanian wedding party that was taking place in one of the hotels. The Jordanian authorities have made significant penetrations into the Al-Zarqawi group, and have stopped a number of potential attacks.

It would be useful to know if the Amman bombers can be identified as Shi'ia, which would point to a revenge killing for Hilla.


Friday, November 11, 2005
  Friday Cat Blogging Dva[Kevin Drum]

It's A Tough Job

Friday Cat Blogging


[Editor: Bonus version because Ringo's Dad doesn't show up often. Hey, he's a tom cat, it's not a complex job.]

Friday Ark


  Tin Foil Hat Plot
Via The Modulator [and someone else I can't remember]¹, you can locate this MIT study: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets, which evaluates the effectiveness of this commonly mentioned defense against outside control - it may be a government plot!

[1. It was Liz at Blondesense.]


  Class Act
Not all Republicans hate veterans, and some of them are veterans. As this is a day after the Marines' 230th birthday and Veterans Day, you might want to have a look at one of our local veterans who was a Marine before he joined the Air Force, who has an airport named after him, and who kicked the US government's butt in court.

Class Act, is Colonel George "Bud" Day's organization. It is a small group, his law office backed by volunteers from Bob Hope Village, a retirement community for Air Force enlisted widows, but it has done big things.

If you go to the site, click through to find out what all of that stuff over the Colonel's left pocket is called.

[disclaimer: my Mother also volunteers at the office when her health permits.]


  Veterans Day
PoppyOn the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the guns fell silent. The Great War, The War to End All Wars, was over...for a couple of decades.

The red poppies of Flanders fields became a symbol of that war and the veterans that returned from it. Known as Remembrance Day in much of the world, the poppies will be in evidence. Remembrance Day observances have more in common with the American Memorial Day as day to honor those who have died in war.

First called Armistice Day in the United States, the name was changed to Veterans Day, and its purpose changed to honoring those who are serving, or have served in the military. The change was made to avoid a conflict with the existing Memorial Day observance that goes back to the Civil War era.

A heart felt salute to everyone who managed to survive basic training. We can hope that sooner, rather than later, there will be no need for another generation to put on uniforms.


  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

Bird's Eye View

Friday Cat Blogging

Get lost, Camera Boy.

[Editor: If you convert the picture to the gray scale that most animals have, you can see why hiding behind grass blades isn't as silly as we normally think.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, November 10, 2005
  Happy Birthday

United States Marine Corps

Marine Corps



  What Holiday?
These people are just apathetic and dysfunctional. Even a local mayor would know better than to make a change to veterans' access to government on the eve of Veterans Day.

Rep. Steve Buyer [R-IN], chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is a graduate of The Citadel, a Lieutenant Colonel and JAG in the Army Reserves, a veteran of Gulf War I, and he cancels a tradition of joint House/Senate meetings with veterans groups. When this practice was started "in G-d" hadn't made it into the Pledge of Allegiance, and there were 48 stars on the flag.

I can't imagine why he would think it would be better to have the same witnesses come to Washington for two separate meetings covering the same material. These organizations are non-profits and not exactly flush with cash. Washington DC is not an inexpensive destination and the national officers of the organization almost never live in the area.

Disabled American Veterans' response is typical of what all the veterans organizations think of this action.

First Jillian and then his hoppiness, skippy, at skippy the bush kangaroo leapt on this, having seen the blurb at Think Progress directing you to the main article at The Hill.

At this rate I expect a "No Pregnant Women in Motels" bill to be introduced on Christmas Eve.


  Thanks, Sony
The first "Trojan horse"/virus using the Rootkit on Sony's CD protection software is in "the wild", it has been detected in Britain.

If you have played Sony CDs on your computer lately you need to be extra careful.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005
This is a John le Carré story brought to the screen by Mel Brooks, along the lines of Tinker, Tailor, Sailor, Schmuck.

As a former Naval officer who was tortured while being held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, John McCain opposes any American use of torture. To ensure that all questionable practices are stopped he has added an amendment to an appropriations bill which received 90% support in the Senate.

In a reflexive reaction to anything that looks like Congressional oversight, the White House has threaten to veto the bill and Cheney has tried to get an exemption for the CIA to torture people even though Bush says we aren't doing it and have never authorized anyone to do it.

Cheney comes down and has a chat with Republicans Senators to convince them that they must exempt the CIA to permit them to use the methods that we aren't using.

This meeting is followed by an article in The Washington Post about the existence of secret prisons in Eastern European countries, countries like Poland and Romania, where methods we are reassured are not being used might have occurred.

[At this point there is a break during which Moe hits Larry on the head with a hammer after Curly dumped the can of paint on Moe's head when he is startled by Harpo's horn.]

Having slept for two years and showing no interest in how wars might have started, the dynamic duo of "Dennis the Demented" Hastert and "Barney" Frist leap into action, demanding an immediate joint investigation of the leak to The Washington Post, but Trent Lott slides up to a microphone, arches his eyebrows several times, removes his cigar and says it was a Republican in the conference room with a Cheney. Pandemonium ensues until the janitor waddles on to the stage in his derby and sweeps up the rubber chickens and feathers.

On a serious note, Atrios wonders if John McCain was lying in an interview on this matter. McCain is a former Naval officer and knows the rules on classified information: even if it is reported in open sources you do not confirm or deny classified information. McCain knows he has made himself a target by his amendment, and doesn't intend to give them a bigger target.

I would hazard a guess that someone thought that McCain talked to the Post and emerged from his burrow long enough to scare Lou and Bud, excuse me, Hastert and Frist to launch the investigation.

[credits: Clif, John McKay, Jack K., and Laura Rosen]


  Kansas Fires Up The Time Machine
While a Dover, Pennsylvania school board waits to find out how badly they are going to lose their case [having lost their jobs in yesterday's election], the Kansas state school board redefines science to permit the teaching of Creationism Intelligent Design [as well as astrology and alchemy]. I'm beginning to believe that Dorothy was wrong: she and Toto were in Kansas. I wonder if Hogwarts School has plans to open a satellite campus outside Topeka.

If these people think they are racking up points with the "Big Guy" by their efforts, they might want to review the "Big Ten". I would direct their attention specifically to the item about false witness.

As I try not to be totally negative, I will say that this change will be of benefit to students of the bio-sciences in other states vying for positions at universities and medical schools, having all of the competition from Kansas eliminated.

When Thomas Frank tried to explain What's the Matter with Kansas?, he neglected to mention they were waiting for the return of Zardoz.


The current leader for the Henny Youngman One-liner of the Year Award is: PSoTD.


  Texas Outlaws Marriage
Below is the text of the resolution that was placed on the ballot in the state of Texas yesterday:
H.J.R. No. 6

A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman.


SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:

Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 2. This state recognizes that through the designation of guardians, the appointment of agents, and the use of private contracts, persons may adequately and properly appoint guardians and arrange rights relating to hospital visitation, property, and the entitlement to proceeds of life insurance policies without the existence of any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 3. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 8, 2005. The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
As is the case with many laws, first terms are defined, then they are used. As "marriage" is defined as the "union of one man and one woman" the only arrangement that can be "identical ... to marriage" is the "union of one man and one woman", and "[t]his state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status" for it.

This was pointed out to the proponents, but they rejected the logic. I don't see how a judge can reject the logic, as it is the plain meaning of the text. A judge can only go so far with the "intent" of the drafters before he/she begins "legislating from the bench", and this was an amendment to the state constitution.

"Section 2" in this bill makes it plain that those who wrote it don't think that "marriage" is actually required, as there are existing contractual provisions that cover all of the "rights" associated with "marriage".

Anyone who thinks divorce lawyers won't be all over this are as ignorant as the people who wrote it, and those who voted for it.

Jack at The People's Republic of Seabrook arrives at the same conclusion as to the effect of this measure.


I have avoided writing about this, although I was aware of it from the first night because I read foreign news services.

The initial report was that this was a reaction to the death of two juveniles who had reportedly fled the police and hid in an electric substation. The boys were apparently accidentally electrocuted, but I couldn't swear to that because there has been no clear information as to what actually happened. You don't know if the boys were fleeing a crime scene, merely being chased as suspicious, or simply wandered into the station. You don't know for certain that they were electrocuted, although that seems to be implied.

Initial reports all talked about "Muslim immigrants", but the French officials talk about third generation "dark" people as "immigrants" while Northern European immigrants are never labeled that way. The bulk of those involved are the children and grandchildren of immigrants. They were born in France and educated in France. Most cannot speak any language except French and are not notably religious, as evinced by the lack of reaction to fatwas issued by prominent French imams to stop the demonstrations.

I have learned that the burning of cars has increased, but it has been a feature of weekends in many of these areas for a very long time. I would have thought that someone should have taken some action about cars being burned every weekend before now, but the French reaction has been to reduce the local police presence in many of these areas.

It took several days for the story about police officers being shot by rioters to be resolved as an attack by BB guns, not Uzis. Coke bottles of gasoline and cobblestones are a good deal more dangerous to my mind.

What you have in the end are the Watts riots. French citizens of a darker shade of skin color have discovered that, stated guarantees notwithstanding, if you are not of a pale complexion, you are not likely to find stable full-time employment. Without a full-time job you have only limited access to the benefits of the society.

The conservative government of France really kept this going when the Minister of the Interior decided to call the people involved "scum" and other epithets. That minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, is a part of the problem. The grandchildren of immigrants are really annoyed by the child of immigrants telling them that they are not French. Mr. Sarkozy is the child of a Hungarian immigrant father and a Greek mother. The fact that he is now the Interior Minister while they are still stuck in ugly, concrete housing blocks is proof to many of the discrimination.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has promised new programs for development in the affected areas, the same promises that are made every decade or so in France, but nothing really changes. He also announced curfews under a law passed as an attempt to control the uprisings in Algeria in the mid-1950s. The people in the communities have noticed the connection.

The French government is right when it says the problem is that these people haven't assimilated into French society, they haven't. However, the root of the problem is that French society has refused to allow them to assimilate.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005
  Happy Blogiversary[Talk Left]
Mark the second blogiversary of:

November 5th: Andante at Collective Sigh;

November 7th: Echidne of the Snakes;

November 8th: Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof;

November 9th: Outside the Tent.

Drop by to congratulate them and spike their site hits.



If you have a sense of humor and any interest in the new "Scopes Trial" in Dover, Pennsylvania, you should drop by Argento's Front Stoop, the blog of a York, Pennsylvania newspaper columnist.

Just the facts...well, maybe a little snark...okay, an East Coast Tbogg.


  Buy Dolls
First it was the Southern Baptist Convention's call for a boycott of the Mouse because of its less than Phelpsian attitude towards gays, and, oh yes, violence in its movies.

Then there was the tubby televangelist, Jerry Falwell, complaining about Teletubbies, because he felt that one of the "Tubbies" might not be androgynous.

James Dobson decided that children had to be protected from the message of tolerance coming from Spongebob Squarepants, because that was diverting them from the Christian message of "Love Thy Neighbor"...or something.

Having been made to look rather foolish by that, Dobson is now calling for people to boycott American Girl dolls because the company donates money to Girls Inc..

Formerly known as Girls Clubs, Girls Inc. has been around for over 140 years supporting programs for girls. Through a leap of logic available only to Dobson, they are abortion providers or Nazis or something "bad".

Personally, I have a hard time accepting advice about morality from someone who advocates beating dogs and children.

Jack writing at Ruminate This thinks people should buy American Girls dolls to annoy James Dobson. While that's a good reason, the historically-themed dolls are also liked by little girls, which is another good reason.


  dooH niboR
Allan Sloan of Newsweek explains the recommendations of the Shrubbery's "tax simplification" panel.


If there is any kind or type of election in your area, make the effort to haul yourself down to your local polling place and cast a ballot.

These "odd year" elections are important, because this is when they try to sneak things through on people. While some states, like Virginia, elect their governors on odd years, in most states this election will be about initiatives and propositions that aren't ready for the full light of day.

Remember: if you don't vote, you can't complain.

Update: Look, y'all are computer users, so if you can't immediately figure out the purpose of an initiative or proposition vote against it. Good ideas usually make sense. When in doubt, vote no. Not voting is a yes vote.


Monday, November 07, 2005
  A Passing Thought
How long does anyone think a pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for Viagra™ "for moral reasons" would stay employed?


  The Proof Of The Pudding Is In The Eating
Laura Rozen tells us: "The information gotten from Libi as the result of the torture the CIA facilitated has now been identified as total fabrications."

At Yellow Doggerel Democratic Steve Bates makes the point: "To the extent that torture elicits information, it elicits whatever the interrogator wants to hear."

And at No More Mister Nice Blog a different Steve draws the conclusion: "They didn't have al-Libi tortured to get the truth out of him; they had him tortured to get him to 'confirm' what they already 'knew.'"

Torture is used to make people say what you want them say. The KGB wasn't interested in information, they wanted a "confession". The North Koreans and North Vietnamese used the same techniques to provide grist for their propaganda mill.

Al-Libi wasn't asked if Saddam's government was linked to Al Qaeda, he was asked how they were linked and pressure was applied until he came up with a reasonable story.

For those who haven't been paying attention, there are a lot of prominent figures and families in the Islamic world who have ties to the Bin Laden family. Having terror suspects questioned, with or without torture, by authorities in an Islamic country could well lead to selective editing of the names of those individuals or families. This is not the way to conduct an effective investigation.

This "pudding" is half-baked and sour.


Sunday, November 06, 2005
  When Will They Ever Learn?
Torture doesn't work.

Apparently when you have the country lead by people who wouldn't consider inconveniencing themselves when the nation is at war by joining the military, you end up with people who can't believe that everyone else isn't going to give up their friends and country when tortured.

The fact that this administration continues to defend its desire to use torture, just shows that Helen Thomas isn't the only thing they are afraid of, as terrified as they are of her.

People keep talking about a "ticking bomb scenario". Our enemy doesn't use ticking bombs, they use people willing to commit suicide to kill Americans. Why would any rational person assume that someone willing to wear several pounds of explosives and blow themselves up with their victims is going to be impressed by torture?

If your purpose is to coerce a confession from the innocent, then torture is the technique of choice. If you would like to compile a list of totally worthless names, then torture is very effective. If you would like to prove that you can be just as vicious and lawless as any group of thugs on the planet: accept no substitute for torture.

Torture doesn't work. Torture violates treaties. Torture violates the Constitution. Torture violates US laws. Torture violates the moral teachings of the predominate religions of the United States. Torture is ineffective, unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral, so why is it still being discussed?


  The Next Big Thing for Fundies
Australian Broadcasting is reporting that an ancient church was found underneath an Israeli prison.
...excavations inside Megiddo prison in northern Israel have unearthed the remains of a structure that included a mosaic with inscriptions in Greek and murals of fish as well as an altar.
The significant part is that Megiddo is Hebrew for [insert sound of an ominous fanfare]: Armageddon.

No doubt Falwell et alii will be grabbing their dog-eared copies of Revelation and rushing to Israel to be the first, or last, to broadcast from the site of the Apocalypse.

[Update: CBS has an article on the find with a picture of one of the mosaics.]


  End Of An Era
If you have ever wondered about the genesis of all the jokes about using duct tape for everything, you have never seen The Red Green Show. The CBC reports that after a 15-year run Red Green says goodbye to Possum Lodge.

While it was never "great television", the Canadian show was an enjoyable way to spend some time on a weekend, along with the "Britcoms" on PBS.

Remember: "When all else fails, play dead."


  More Pork
Duncan Hunter [R-San Diego County] wants the Federal government to build a fence along the US-Mexican border from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast to stop illegal border crossing. He doesn't care about the cost, approximately $8 billion that we don't have, or the cost of patrolling it, he wants it built.

I think we should build it by fining individuals and businesses $1000 per head for every undocumented worker found in their employ. We can call it the "Duncan Hunter Fence Fee" and begin by sweeping San Diego county during the harvest and sweep through the northern Gulf coast in the areas hard hit by the hurricanes.

No need to detain the undocumented workers, as the real goal is money for Duncan's magic fence, which is going to solve all of the immigration problems.


  It's Called A Lie
Andante has a great visual at Collective Sigh to go along with Upyernoz's
post at Rubber Hose about Senator Frank Lautenberg's attempt to rename the Republican's "Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act 2005" to the "Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act".

What the Republicans are doing is cutting $35 billion from Medicare and food stamps funding, which would cut the deficit, except they are also including $70 billion in tax cuts. The net effect is to increase the deficit by $35 billion. Calling a bill that increases the deficit a "deficit reduction bill" is a lie.

Enron/Tyco accounting is not going to get the United States out of this Republican fiscal disaster. "Borrow and Spend" is the new Republican mantra for government.


Saturday, November 05, 2005
When I read that the Supreme Court would have a Catholic majority if Alito were approved, I decided to look at the background of the Court with Alito on it.

John Paul Stevens is the definite outsider: a Midwesterner with an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from Northwestern. He is the only garden variety "Protestant" on the Court.

Justice Ginsburg received her undergraduate degree from Cornell, and while she attended Harvard Law, she got her law degree from Columbia. She was on the DC Court of Appeals when appointed.

Justices Breyer and Souter started at Stanford and Harvard respectively, but they both then went to Magdalen College of Oxford University for second degrees before Harvard for their law degrees and were living in New England when appointed.

Undergraduate Degrees:
1 University of Chicago [Stevens]
1 Georgetown [Scalia]
1 Holy Cross [Thomas]
1 Cornell¹ [Ginsburg]
1 Princeton¹ [Alito]
2 Magdalen College of Oxford [Breyer & Souter]
2 Stanford [Breyer & Kennedy]
2 Harvard¹ [Souter & Roberts]

Law Degrees:
1 Northwestern [Stevens]
1 Columbia¹ [Ginsburg]
2 Yale¹ [Thomas & Alito]
5 Havard¹

Home on Appointment:
1 Midwest [7th Circuit - Stevens]
1 Far West [9th Circuit - Kennedy]
1 Middle Atlantic [3rd Circuit - Alito]
2 New England [1st Circuit - Breyer & Souter]
4 District of Columbia [DC Circuit]

The Supreme Court is becoming more inbred and closed. Is there no judge on the other Circuits worthy of elevation? Are there no worthy law schools outside of the Ivy League?

The loss of Justice O'Connor is the loss of a female view, the view of a Stanford law school graduate, the loss of a non-coastal Westerner, the loss of an experienced state court judge.

On the religion front the Court would have two Jews, an Episcopalian, a Protestant, and five Catholics. The religious beliefs of a Justice should have no impact on their decisions. It would be sad indeed, if that proves not to be true.

1. Ivy League.


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