Observations on the world today.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


Yahoo! News - Former President Ronald Reagan Dies at 93

First the obligatory sympathies. On the off chance that a member of the Reagan family should somehow stumble upon my little blog; I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathies and condolences. I'm sure that all of America is thinking of you in this, your time of loss.

Now, for the reason for this post. Earlier today, I heard a radio announcement that Reagan's death was imminent. In the piece, they suggested that it could be just a matter of weeks or months - not days or (as it turns out) hours. I have to confess, that upon hearing the announcement, my first thought was about how this would effect the politics of the election. If he died too close to the election - I thought - it could be disastrous. With sympathetic emotions still running high, the republicans could make a grand demonstration of their lost hero at their convention. And they could demonize any democrat who tried to interject some common sense by reminding everyone that this was the guy who had been responsible for the October surprise and the guns for hostages deal. Not to mention the Iran/Contra debacle.

And it would be of little use to note how the right had been so incensed over the Wellstone tribute. No, that wouldn't be appropriate comparison either.

Fortunately, Ronny had the good graces to go out when people are too busy planning their summer vacations to be too easily influenced by mourning rituals right now. After all, Ronny was sick and old, and he'd been suffering for a long time. And besides, Nancy already took the wind out of their sails by calling for stem cell research to help in the fight against the disease that killed her husband. That can be the way we counter their tributes come convention time. And you just know that there will be tributes come convention time.

It's perfect. Join in the tributes, and side with the widow. What could be better?



Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret? 

The New York Times > Washington > Cheney Reportedly Interviewed in Leak of C.I.A. Officer's Name
Vice President Dick Cheney was recently interviewed by federal prosecutors who asked whether he knew of anyone at the White House who had improperly disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer, people who have been involved in official discussions about the case said on Friday.

Mr. Cheney was also asked about conversations with senior aides, including his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, according to people officially informed about the case. In addition, those people said, Mr. Cheney was asked whether he knew of any concerted effort by White House aides to name the officer. It was not clear how Mr. Cheney responded to the prosecutors' questions.


It is not clear when or where Mr. Cheney was interviewed, but he was not questioned under oath and he has not been asked to appear before the grand jury, people officially informed about the case said. His willingness to answer questions was voluntary and apparently followed Mr. Bush's repeated instructions to aides to cooperate with the investigation.
So he wasn't under oath, and he won't be subpoenaed. Alrighty then.

So basically, they asked him if he had any secrets that he hasn't given up yet, and would he like to do so now. Why not subpoena him? Make him say anything that he has to say under penalty of perjury. Maybe he has no information at all, but so what! Maybe he has, and maybe he's lying, and maybe he should be compelled to give it up.

Sheesh! Why is this so hard?

Oh, yeah, and about this part:
The decision by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to seek private legal counsel is routine for high-level officials when they become involved, even tangentially, in legal issues unrelated to their official duties.
No, it isn't. And if they are involved, then it is related to their official duties. And if they are not involved, they only need the counsel if they are targets.



Friday, June 04, 2004

But Who Will Sell Me My Matchsticks if the Girl Gets a Job at Walmart? 

Yahoo! News - U.S. Employers Add 248,000 Jobs in May:
U.S. employers added almost a quarter million workers in May, extending a nine-month hiring spree and accommodating enough new jobseekers to hold the unemployment rate steady at 5.6 percent.
Some of those who dropped off the rosters earlier because they had stopped looking for work, have begun looking again. Now that people realize that Bush is on the way out, things are starting to look a little brighter.

Just imagine how rosey the picture will look once Bushis actually tossed out on his ear.



Lawyering Up 

Boston.com / News / Nation / Bush consults lawyer on investigation into CIA leak:
President Bush has consulted a lawyer in case he is called as a witness in the grand jury investigation into who in his administration leaked the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame to a columnist last summer, the White House said yesterday.
Oh oh.
Paul Rosenzweig, a former assistant in the office of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, said that people called to testify before a grand jury are almost always witnesses to an event rather than targets of the investigation.
So if Bush witnessed the felony and didn't report it...?
"There is nothing wrong with a person hiring a lawyer," Rosenzweig said. "We do it all the time. It's not generally considered a sign of fault, as anyone who has consulted a lawyer about a contract knows."
Now that's true. I know that I would never dream of entering into a contract with a grand jury without a lawyer present.




Wednesday, June 02, 2004

With Friends Like This... 

CNN.com - Reports: Chalabi tipped Iran about codes - Jun 2, 2004
CBS News initially reported Tuesday that Chalabi had told an Iranian intelligence official that the United States had cracked its codes, allowing U.S. agents to read Iran's secret communications.

Revealing such information would expose one of the United States' most important sources of information about Iran.

Following the broadcast report, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post followed with similar stories, all quoting anonymous U.S. intelligence officials.


American officials quoted in the news reports said Chalabi told the Baghdad chief of the Iranian spy service that the United States was reading its communications and that the Iranian spy described the conversation in a message to Tehran, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.

The New York Times account said Iranians in Tehran then sent a bogus message to Baghdad purportedly disclosing the location of an important weapons site, in an apparent attempt to test whether what they were hearing from Chalabi was true.

The idea was that if the United States was able to intercept such transmissions, Americans would react by going to the weapons site. They intercepted the message, according to the Times, but did not take the bait by going to the weapons site.

Chalabi reportedly told the Iranian he had he had gotten the information from an American who had been drunk.
On a side note, do you think Alan Jackson can tell us the difference in Iraq and Iran yet? After all, he watches CNN.



Mister Says Pick a Damn Pony! 

Look at these two headlines:

Bush says America safer after wars in Afghanistan, Iraq

Ashcroft warns of summer terror attack on major events

Ironically, I think both of them are full of crap.

On the surface, these seem to be two completely contradictory statements, only one of which can be true. However, ironic as it seems, I actually think BOTH statements are lies. Ashcroft, I am certain manufactured the terrorist threat warning to distract the press from their long overdue criticism of the president. Meanwhile, Bush's happy-face comments also seem dubious. How could we be safer? Al Qaeda recruitment is snowballing. They are attacking people all over the world. And the Bush/Iraq agenda is a failure. We aren't safer. Not by a long shot.



Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 

Austin computer programer wins Libertarian presidential nod North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News - Celebrations

I've got to say, the Libertarians made the democrat's Iowa caucus look like a love-fest.

Apparently, there was a battle royal between Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo with Nolan getting forced out in the second ballot. But what was surprising was that there was actually a third, virtually unknown candidate named Michael Badnarik, who - frankly - I didn't even know was running. And once Nolan was forced out in the second ballot, he threw all of his support to Badnarik who - as a result - won the nomination.

Wow, you Libertarians sure are a fun bunch. Too bad nobody cares.



...And His Sister is a Thespian! 

From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity (washingtonpost.com):
Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.
Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.
So what does it mean when you have nothing positive to say even about yourself, and almost everything you can say against your opponent is a demonstrable lie?



Monday, May 31, 2004

Lucky Schmucky 

I found a four-leaf clover in my backyard yesterday. Actually, it is the fourth four-leaf clover that I have found so far this spring. I find them all the time. Usually several a year. Often with more than four leaves. You know what that means don’t you?

It means that I should walk with my head up so that I can see where I’m going rather than where I am.

Thing is, I don’t believe in luck. Sure I find a lot of them, but all that it indicates to me is that I have a knack for spotting irregularities in patterns. Luck is an illusion of statistics and probability. Unfortunately for Bush, it may be all that he has left to rely on now. Maybe I should send him my clover.




Sunday, May 30, 2004

Am I Psychic? 

Last night, I wrote the following in an off-the-cuff comment:
Never once have I received an email telling me about how Cheney is still on the Halliburton payroll.
Today, we find this in a Time magazine article online:

TIME.com: The Paper Trail -- Jun. 07, 2004
Cheney is linked to his old firm in at least one other way. His recently filed 2003 financial-disclosure form reveals that Halliburton last year invoked an insurance policy to indemnify Cheney for what could be steep legal bills "arising from his service" at the company.
Does it count as being psychic when you foretell a future event that is this obvious? It's like claiming omniscience for forecasting that the sun will rise.



Quite a Hairy Pickle 

I received this email from my republican sister tonight:
Shortly after reading the following e-mail content, I happened to look at the label of a jar of Heinz sandwich slice pickles. Yep...."Made in Mexico" Check some of your Heinz products.

"Sen. John Kerry keeps talking about U.S. corporations leaving this country and setting up shop in foreign countries, taking thousands of jobs with them. He is right, because that has happened. However, he is trying to blame it on George W. Bush.

As far as I know, Bush has not moved one factory out of this country because he is not the owner of a single factory.

That cannot be said about Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Kerrys own 32 factories in Europe and 18 in Asia and the Pacific. In addition, their company, the Heinz Company, leases four factories in Europe and four in Asia. Also, they own 27 factories in North America, some of which are in Mexico and the Caribbean

I wonder how many hundreds of American workers lost their jobs when these plants relocated to foreign countries. I also wonder if the workers in Mexico and Asia are paid the same wages and benefits as workers in the United States.

Of course they're not. However, Kerry demands that other companies that relocate should pay the same benefits they did in the U.S. Why does he not demand this of the Heinz Company, since he is married to the owner?

If Kerry is elected, will he and his wife close all those foreign factories and bring all those jobs back to America? Of course they won't. They're making millions off that cheap labor.
I wrote back with the following:
This is the most ironic Kerry attack I have ever seen. First, John Kerry is not a Heinz, his wife was. Second, Teresa was a Heinz only by marriage. Third, neither she nor her husband have anything to do with the operation of the Heinz company. And fourth, the Heinz family is a republican family. They are huge contributers to the Bush campaign. Therefore, all of the criticism of them sending American jobs overseas is actually criticism of a republican Bush supporting family.

But, the irony really comes into play when you understand what most of this really is. The Heinz company has numerous American factories. Most of their overseas production is for overseas consumption. There is nothing wrong with that. And you are just as likely to find American made Heinz ketchup in Mexico as you are likely to find Mexican pickles in America. And Heinz actually pays it's Mexican labor very well. This simply misses the point of what the actual criticism of "outsourcing" is all about.

The problem with outsourcing is when an American job is lost simply because the labor is cheaper overseas, and for no other reason. In the case of the Heinz companies, part of the reason for having factories in Mexico is that the growing season for cucumbers is longer in Mexico and the vegetables have to be fresh when made into pickles for reasons of quality control. But still, there are busy Heinz factories in America. Several of them in fact.

Most Kerry supporters realize this and will not be swayed from voting for him because of this email-chain smear. All that it accomplishes is forcing the GOP supporting Heinz company and their American employees to loose some business from their erroneously offended republican customers.
I hope she sends it back along the trail. It had about 200 email addresses that it had been forwarded to along the chain.

Which brings up another point. I have received innumerable emails of this type over the past several years. Some criticizing Hillary or Bill Clinton. Some critical of the Red Cross or some other altruistic organization. And every time, when you research the claim, it turns out to be nothing more than an urban legend. Or worse - an intentional defamatory lie. But I have never received a similar letter critical of anything republican. Never once have I received an email telling me about how Cheney is still on the Halliburton payroll. Not once have I received a letter telling me that Jerry Falwell has a checkered past. Nobody has ever sent me an email alerting me to the possibility that George Bush was selected to be president at a meeting of the Bilderburgers. And if anyone ever did, I would fact check it before clicking "forward," and I doubt that I would even click then.

What sickness lurks in the conservative mind that compels them to do these things?



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