Observations on the world today.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A Truly Useful Right-winger 

Election Projection - 2004 Edition

This page lists the site master's current projection for the election based on current poll tracking. Presently, he expects the following results:
Electoral Votes: Bush 211, Kerry 327
Popular Vote: Bush 45.48%, Kerry 52.69%
Here is the curent state-by-state map:

I love seeing any map where Ohio is colored blue. Thanks Scott.




This is hysterical. I found this on Blogs for Bush.

Blogs for Bush: Police Union Endorses Kerry... Why?
John Kerry has received an endorsement from the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO)– which backed Bush in the 2000 election. What does this mean? Not much really, because Interestingly enough, this same union also endorsed Bill Clinton back in 1992 and 1996.
Umm, so in other words they have a history of supporting the guy who gets the job.
Take that for what its worth.
Thanks, I will.
John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act and is now against it.
Well, that's not exactly true, but so what? Most Americans were for the Patriot Act and have begun to see it as flawed legislation. Even in Republican strong-hold Alaska. Look, here's the deal, Matt, Bush has lost the full-on support of the Police and the NRA all in the same week. I can't believe I have to explain this to a republican, but supporting the police is about more than creating bureaucracy and hating criminals. It's about job security and respect for the sacrifices made. It's about honoring commitments and standing for what you say you stand for. Token gestures are not going to do it, and the policeman's union gets that.



Friday, May 14, 2004

The Usual Suspect 

CNN Transcript:
O'BRIEN: Well, let me ask you this. You've had a chance to really listen to this tape and get a sense who might be responsible, just by deciphering, say, accents. And certainly, there in the Arab world, they're very attuned to that. And given the fact of who this may or may not be, does that have some effect on how it is being played?

NASR: Yes, and if you listen to these voices that we're hearing on Arab networks, Iraqis are condemning this execution. And they're saying these are foreigners. These are not Iraqis. They do not represent us and so forth.

Now, of course, the original claim was that Zarqawi is the actual man who performed this execution. Our experts listened to the accent, as you said, and they determined the accent is not Jordanian...

O'BRIEN: He is a Jordanian who is working supposedly, allegedly, at the behest of al Qaeda in Iraq. So go ahead.

NASR: Right, he is very close to bin Laden, and works, you're right, as an agent of al Qaeda in Iraq. Now, the accent is not Jordanian so that takes the Jordanian element out of the story immediately.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, now one final thought here. You did a very careful translation of your own, of the statement. And in it, you see no reference to al Qaeda. And yet the official U.S. government translation does. Explain how that happened.

NASR: Oh, I find it very interesting, because out of the blue, there is a mention of al Qaeda on the U.S. government translation. It says: "Does al Qaeda need any further excuses?" Any speaker of the Arabic language is going to notice a difference between the word al Qaeda, which means "the base," and al qaed, which means "the one sitting, doing nothing."
The first thing I noticed when this story broke was that the government was saying al Qaeda right off the bat. However, according to the story, the killers had said that they had offered to trade Berg for some Abu Ghraib prisoners, and I didn't think that sounded like an al Qaeda tactic. I also noticed that when the Iraqi ambassador-to-be was on Wolf Blitzer the other day, she said that the voice on the tape did not sound like Zarqawi. But here is an observation that I don't think anyone has made. According to US intelligence:
May 2002 Zarqawi traveled to Iraq. He had his leg amputated and had a prosthetic limb to replace it.
Now, I haven't seen the video. I understand that it is all over the Internet, but I don't want to see it. However, I have a relative with a prosthetic leg. You can tell whenever he moves that he has a false limb. He has to compensate for it all the time. Is there any evidence of a prosthesis in the video? It doesn't seem like it in the still pictures.



Fashions by Rummie 



Thursday, May 13, 2004

Real Horror Show 

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: New photos: 'What we saw is appalling'
Pence has called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to release all the photos and videos. He said nothing he saw Wednesday changed his view that making them public now would be better than having them leak "in drips and drabs. The slow release over time would be much more harmful to the U.S. reputation in the world and dangerous to our troops."
I couldn't agree more. But beyond that, even if the pictures are kept under lock-and-key. Even if we never get to actually see them, isn't the idea of what might be on them just as bad or worse?

There is a scene in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in which a policeman's ear is cut off. Tarantino shot the scene two ways and test screened both approaches. In one scene, the audience watched as the policeman's ear was hacked off. In another, the camera pans away just as the knife is placed to the cop's ear and we hear the officer's anguished screams. This is how the scene appears in the final version. We know what happened, but imagining it makes it more memorable, more horrific, and more effective.

Is that what this administration wants these prison torture pictures to be? Memorable for what we were not shown but were forced to imagine?



General Mayhem 

The New York Times > Washington > General Took Guant?namo Rules to Iraq for Handling of Prisoners:
When Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller arrived in Iraq last August with a team of military police and intelligence specialists, the group was confronted by chaos.

In one prison yard, a detainee was being held in a scorching hot shipping container as punishment, one team member recalled. An important communications antenna stood broken and unrepaired. Prisoners walked around barefoot, with sores on their feet and signs of untreated illness. Garbage was everywhere.

Perhaps most important, with the insurgency raging in Iraq, there was no effective system at the prisons for wringing intelligence from the prisoners, officials said.

"They had no rules for interrogations," a military officer who traveled to Iraq with General Miller said. "People were escaping and getting shot. We tried to offer them some very basic recommendations."

According to information from a classified interview with the senior military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib prison, General Miller's recommendations prompted a shift in the interrogation and detention procedures there. Military intelligence officers were given greater authority in the prison, and military police guards were asked to help gather information about the detainees.

Whether those changes contributed to the abuse of prisoners that grew horrifically more serious last fall is now at the center of the widening prison scandal.
Wait. Hold up. Whether this contributed to the abuse? There was already abuse. They witnessed abuse, and their only problem was that the abuse they witnessed was ineffective for garnering information. "What you guys need here is some better abuse techniques."

I also found this paragraph telling.
His hard-charging attitude has also raised questions that go beyond interrogation methods. He was the official most responsible for pressing a case last year against a Muslim chaplain at the base, Capt. James J. Yee, that was initially billed as a major episode of espionage. In March, the military announced that it would drop all charges.
This comes after a series of paragraphs detailing how the pentagon considered Miller their golden-boy. And then there is this:
The Taguba report also highlighted General Miller's recommendation that commanders in Iraq form and train a prison guard force "subordinate to the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center (J.I.D.C.) Commander" that "sets the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees/detainees.
(Emphasis mine.) Gosh, I wonder how anybody could misread that to mean torture and exploit the prisoners?



Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well, Here's One For the Memoryhole 

In my most recent post, I linked to a Yahoo news story. That link now takes you to a different story, one less embarrassing for the administration.



Time to Go 

Yahoo! News - U.S.: Berg Had Been Advised to Leave Iraq:
Nick Berg, 26, of West Chester, Pa., was never under U.S. custody despite claims from his family, coalition spokesman Dan Senor said Wednesday.
I ain't buyin' this bill o' goods for one little minute. You want to talk disgusting? The government is now trying to say that Berg's murder was his own fault.

Impeach Bush now.

Up till this point, I have not been a proponent of pulling out of Iraq. I have felt that it was a mess of our own making and that we should stay to fix it. However, if this is the tactic that this administration is going to use, then they have no regard at all for the sanctity of life, whether it be Iraqi OR American. All they care about is their agenda.

The situation has been getting worse, and I have been patient in the hope that it was perhaps somehow salvageable. It is not. If we leave, there will be hard times for Iraq. It's true. But if we stay there will be times just as hard or harder. And terrorism globally will escalate.

Now I'm going to agree with those calling for our withdrawal, bring the Americans home. Bring them home, and impeach Bush today!



Veep Watch 

MyDD :: Kerry campaign leaks VP short-list
According to Bloomberg, Kerry has narrowed his VP list to a very safe, very predictable five:

Wesley Clark
John Edwards
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Tom Vilsack
Okay, so no Max Cleland. So now apparently, I have to redo my picks. I don't know enough about Tom Vilsack. He's the governor of Iowa and a former lawyer. He seems okay, and if he has any strength it is that he is generally unknown; which makes it harder to define and attack him. But I think it is better to have a power-player on the ticket. We don't need to spend a month introducing our VP candidate right now.

Bob Graham is too old. We criticized Reagan and Cheney for that. And Graham didn't perform well in the primaries either so he's out.

Same goes for Gephardt.

That leaves Edwards and Clarke. One thing that both Edwards and Clarke have going for them is that they are both southerners, which is good for a balanced ticket. But of the two, for second-banana, I prefer Clarke.

Clarke has been on the record saying that he was not running for Vice President, but he also left the door open when he said that he would do whatever he could to help the ticket. And he's a Washington outsider, which is okay for vice president.

Edwards has the opposite problem from Graham(pa) and Gephardt. He's maybe too green. Plus, we don't need two Washington insiders on the ticket. So from these five, I'm going with Clarke.

So, with no further ado, here is my revised cabinet suggestion list:

President John Kerry
VP Wes Clarke
National Security Advisor Max Cleland
Deputy to the National Security Advisor Rand Beers
Sec. of State Lt. General Claudia Kennedy
Chief of Staff Gary Hart
Sec. of Homeland Security Al Gore
Sec. of Defense Leon Fuerth
Deputy Secretary of Defense Joe Wilson
Co-Deputy Secretary of Defense Karen Kwiatkowski
Attorney General John Edwards
Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin
Surgeon General Howard Dean
EPA Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Fed Chair Paul Krugman

That was easy.



The Bad List 

I've been pushing the following list as a strong Kerry cabinet:

President John Kerry
VP Max Cleland
National Security Advisor Wes Clark
Deputy to the National Security Advisor Rand Beers
Sec. of State Lt. General Claudia Kennedy
Chief of Staff Gary Hart
Sec. of Homeland Security Al Gore
Sec. of Defense Leon Fuerth
Deputy Secretary of Defense Joe Wilson
Co-Deputy Secretary of Defense Karen Kwiatkowski
Attorney General John Edwards
Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin
Surgeon General Howard Dean
EPA Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Fed Chair Paul Krugman

But I got to thinking recently, what would be the worst possible cabinet Kerry could assemble? Here is what I came up with:

VP Joe Lieberman
National Security Advisor Dennis Kucinich
Sec. of State Colin Powell
Chief of Staff Ralph Nader
Sec. of Homeland Security Zell Miller
Sec. of Defense Alan Colmes
Attorney General Al Sharpton
Secretary of the Treasury Lyndon LaRouche
Press Secretary James Carville

What a horrible mess this would be. A beligerent press secretary, a Secretary of State who is moderate but has lost all credibility, a National Security Advisor who has no taste for or understanding of aggression, a Veep with his own bizzarre agenda, a DoD chief who isn't even respected by his own party, an Attorney General with a history of pontification, etc.

But you know what, as bad as that cabinet would be, it beats the crap out of this one:

President George W. Bush
Vice President Dick Cheney
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
Attorney General John Ashcroft
Press Secretary Scott McCleland

Shoot, now I need a bath.



Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The "Bully" Pulpit 

Intellectual Capital: Michael McGough / Tortured interpretation:
Revelations about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison understandably consumed the attention of Congress last week. But how is the scandal being viewed by members of the third branch of the federal government -- the judiciary?

Specifically, could lurid photographs of hooded and humiliated Iraqi prisoners undermine the administration's position with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is preparing rulings in two cases challenging the detention of "enemy combatants"? The possibility of such a ripple effect was the talk of the press room at the Supreme Court last week, and reportedly also worries the White House.
Hmm? Didn't I blog on this last week? Why, yes. Yes, I did. Finally, one of my original ideas catches on. Another example of how this idea is spreading is from this letter in the WaPo:
Oral argument in those cases, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Padilla v. Rumsfeld, ended about noon April 28.

As it happened, the justices asked Principal Deputy Solicitor General Paul D. Clement what in the law would check the executive branch from torturing prisoners. He responded that the government would honor its obligations under the "convention to prohibit torture and that sort of thing."
Now this differs from my tack in a significant way. The idea here seems to be to simply accuse the administration of perjury. Which, while true, won't be effective. My idea is for Kerry to turn this into a strategy displaying his leadership. As I said in my original post, Kerry should be saying this:
For now, all eyes are on Iraq. But as recently as last month, our courts were considering the question of habeus corpus concerning our detainees on Guantanimo Bay in Cuba. This administration has the opportunity to make not-a-symbolic-gesture, but a true show of good faith by granting our prisoners from Afghanistan a full and transparent trial before an international tribunal.
In other words, make the damned Supreme Court case moot. Force Bush through applied pressure to reverse his position on Gitmo.



Postcards From the Edge of the Fringe 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a protest that I'd stumbled upon the day that Bush appeared with Arlen Spector at the Convention Center. In that post I said in part:
Then suddenly, right in front of me, it was 1969 all over again. I saw a policeman grab a protester by the arm, and another protester jumped in and grabbed the first protester’s free arm and engaged in a human tug-of-war.

Now here’s the thing. When protesting, and agitating, at least have the strength of conviction to go to jail. It’s fine to lay down and be dead-weight so that you are not participating in your arrest. But resisting arrest and struggling is an actual crime separate and independent from free expression. It’s the stuff of bad Cops episodes.
I then quoted the article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describing the protest. The article said that the protesters were a group that protests all authority, and that one protester said that her friend Nina Trimbath had been arrested simply for asking why one of her friends had been arrested. To this, I said:
If these were the Ninjas I saw playing push-me-pull-you; no, she didn’t just ask why.

Kids, do us all a favor. Leave the protesting to the professionals.
As it happens, Miss Trimbath saw my comments and she wrote me about it. What follows is our correspondence to date.
Comments on the Blog:

Hi. This is Nina Trimbath, one of the women arrested at the protest in Pittsburgh. I stumbled on your page after I was looking for the news link to my arrest and I saw some things on your page and curiously set upon reading it.
My feelings were extremely hurt by your presumptuous language and lack of support for what had happened. You really have no idea about why we were there and who we are and why I was arrested. I am so hurt to see the things that you wrote. If you would like to know who I am, what had happened, and the amazing aftermath of the story.. I would be very open to an e-mail dialog.


My reply in the Comments:

Ms Trimbath,

I would be glad to have a dialog with you on this topic. I am interested to know what your side is. However, having just re-read my words, I don't see it as especially presumptive. Unless I am wrong to presume that the PG quoted your friends accurately. If you were not the young protester I witnessed pulling on an associate's free arm, then you weren't the one resisting arrest. However, since I used the word "if" in my essay, my observation was sufficiently couched.

The fact is that somebody was resisting arrest. And it is also a fact that it was reported that your group protests authority. Perhaps you can convince me that either of those is a worthwhile enterprise, but I doubt it.

Protest Bush to your heart's content, you'll get no criticism from me. But I cannot be supportive of a protest of authority for its own sake.

Anarchy is not a philosophy. It's a result of failed philosophy.
Continue reading Postcards From the Edge of the Fringe.



Monday, May 10, 2004

Libya's Americafication 

EU shock as Libya sentences six to death
Libya ties, which seemed last week to be blossoming suffered a major setback yesterday when a Libyan court sentenced five Bulgarian and one Palestinian aid worker to death, in spite of EU calls for their trial to be reviewed.

The EU has expressed its concern and outrage at the verdict. In a statement issued last night, Commission President Romano Prodi said he was deeply disappointed by the ruling.
Bush has been so eager to promote Libya's forward momentum as a gleaming example of his success that one would think that Libya has been remade in our mold. Well, the fact that they have disregard for European public opinion could offer support for that philosophy, I suppose.

Oh, and just why were these aid workers put on trial?
The six have been charged with deliberately infecting around 400 Libyan children with the HIV virus.
Scientific evidence to the contrary be damned! Bush must be so proud.



Could There Be Another Reason? 

Ohio Gay Marriage Initiative Roils Skeptics (washingtonpost.com):
Langdon said his only motivation in backing an amendment to the state constitution is to place the gay marriage ban out of reach of the courts. "I could care less whether this helps George Bush or not," said Langdon, who said he snubbed Bush in 2000 for Howard Phillips, the presidential candidate for the Christian conservative Constitution Party. "The reason we're pushing for a constitutional amendment is so we can take the issue out of the hands of a judiciary that we believe has gone completely haywire. . . . The reason I do what I do is to protect marriage."
The reason he does this is because he is an asshole.



Update on Sibel 

Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate | BaltimoreChronicle.com:
"If they were to do real investigations we would see several significant high level criminal prosecutions in this country. And that is something that they are not going to let out. And, believe me; they will do everything to cover this up."

-Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator
This is from one recent piece on Sibel Edmonds. I have made convincing the major media that this woman deserves to be heard my own personal project. So periodically, I Google her name for recent news stories of note. Here is another interesting snip from this interview:
JH: Are you allowed to say that it's the Saudis?

SE: I cannot name any country. And I would emphasize that it's plural. I understand the Saudis have been named because fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. However, the names of people from other countries, and semi-legit organizations from other countries, to this day, have not been made public.

JH: And the information that you have been gagged on has to do with that specifically.

SE: Correct. And specifically with that and their ties to people here in this country today.
And there is this from another interview:
SIBEL EDMONDS: Correct. The attorneys for Motley-Rice were arguing that they were only going to ask questions on information that has already been public. You know, on your show and in the newspapers, and also information given by the FBI to the Senate Judiciary Committees during unclassified meetings with them. However, now the FBI is saying that even that information is top secret and national security and it cannot be used even though the information is already public.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait a second, are they saying that they're asking for a further gag order that would prevent from you repeating what you have already said here, and in other places?

SIBEL EDMONDS: In a way that's what they are saying. They are saying any information that has already been public is still considered classified, and it should not have been public and the FBI should not have had this unclassified meeting with the senate discussing it, so regardless, that information cannot be used.
Welcome to Bizarro-land aka George Bush's America.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?