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:: Friday, July 18, 2003 ::

Brave Republicans

Now this is just pathetic:
A House committee on Friday approved a $50 billion pension bill that would allow Americans to put more tax-deferred income into personal retirement accounts, but only after the Republican chairman summoned police in the midst of a Democratic boycott and protests over the way the measure was being handled.
It's even better than that. From watching CSPAN, it turns out that the brave Republicans are claiming that they were physically threatened by the Democrat, with the other GOP committee members claiming they would have called the police too.

And here's the fun part: These 10 brave Republicans were afraid of a 71 year old man. That's right. 71 year old Stark was the only Democrat in the room, and somehow he was so terrifying and out of order that the GOP felt it necessary to summon the police.

Just when I think it can't get any more damn juvenile....

:: Morat 12:49 PM :: ::

Dean and Electability

MyDD: More on TEDM & Dean
And this is the most important thing missed by Judis & DR in their electability equation-- that Dean is attracting people to politics that usually occasionally, or not at all, vote, much less, participate in the process.
DR is right, these are mostly white, affluent people. But you'll find at the meetups that 50% of them are independents, most of them involved in politics for the first time, new voters. I don't know how large a block the white working class and culturally conservative voters are that DR correctly sees as traditionally essential to a Democratic win at the Presidential level, but I would guess they shrink in comparison to the large numbers of those 50% of Americans who don't vote, but belong to the 50 million Cultural Creatives that are being attracted to Dean's campaign. Of course, these new voters belong to the emerging majority that would be Democrat-- if they vote.
That's a big if. Certainly Gephardt showed no know-how or leadership during the 2002 mid-terms in motivating them to vote. Kerry? Not to date. What Dean is doing is shifting the voter-turnout paradigm. This will have to be proved in the caucuses, primaries, and general, before it's a proven key to electability, but that's the case.
I think this is a key point about Dean, and is probably the central point of his campaign, in terms of electability.

More than any other candidate, Republican, Democrat, or other, Dean appears to be energizing a group normally noted for not voting. It's a pretty trivial observation to note that if we repeated the 2000 breakdown, exactly, but the Dem candidate convinced 1% of the country who didn't turn out to show up and vote for him, that we'd have a Democrat if office now.

But I also think that this appeal has to be demonstrated. And, more than anywhere, the primaries are the best place to show it. Significant numbers of first-time primary voters turning out for Dean would be fairly solid proof, and a heavy point in his favor.
:: Morat 12:08 PM :: ::

Personal Attacks

Drudging Up Personal Details
"Some folks in the White House were apparently hopping mad when ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman did a story on Tuesday's 'World News Tonight' about the plummeting morale of U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq.
So angry, in fact, that the next day, a White House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that Kofman is not only openly gay, he's Canadian.
It appears that the level of despair at the White House has reached some sort of critical mass.

Not only are they resorting to the lowest form of personal attacks (not exactly an unusual tactic in politics) but they're such lame personal attacks. He's gay? And Canadian? What next? He's a noted communist?

At this rate, the White House will be chanting "I'm rubber and you're glue" by the end of the week.
:: Morat 9:58 AM :: ::

Tens of Thousands Will Lose College Aid, Report Says

Tens of Thousands Will Lose College Aid, Report Says
The first report to document the impact of the government's new formula for financial aid has found that it will reduce the nation's largest grant program by $270 million and bar 84,000 college students from receiving any award at all.
The report, by the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress, does not calculate the full effect of the changes, since it does not consider the further cuts in student awards that will probably occur once the new formula is applied to billions of dollars in state awards and university grants.
What's there to say that hasn't been said?

Maybe Dick Cheney can use part of his tax cut to send a few dozen kids to college. If he's willing to do that, I'm willing to use all of my tax cut to maybe send a couple of kids to a museum. I think I have enough for that.

If it's a cheap museum.
:: Morat 9:46 AM :: ::

Conspiracy Theories

Hesiod blogged (like many others) on Bush's odd certainty that WMDs will be found.
Liberal Oasis gets the conspiracy theory juices flowing, and wonders whether or not the Bush administration is getting desperate enough to plant WMD 'evidence' in Iraq.

He concludes that isn't likely [they'd have done it by now], but they will exaggerated any 'evidence' they do find.

I actually disagree.

The probability that they will plant actual WMD's is slim and none.

The probability that someone in Langley is hard at work churning out phony WMD 'documentation' is pretty high.
I can't say I agree with either of them. Don't get me wrong. I'm not naive enough to say that a desperate Administration wouldn't try. I have no idea if the Bush Administration is desperate or unethical enough to try to plant either documentation or actual weapons. (That they have no qualms about outright lying and extreme exaggeration is well documented. Think "mobile trailers").

I'm just pointing out that if you're going to plant evidence, you don't start by angering both the CIA and your troops in the field.

Conspiracies rarely exist because, as a rule, humans are pretty bad at keeping secrets. I'm not sure the Bushies could, even if they wanted to, manage to plant either weapons or documentation without someone spilling it to the press. I'm virtually certain that, especially given the rushed nature of things, that even if they got away with planting them, it wouldn't stand up to public scrutiny.

Who knows? They might try. People have done stupider things, for far less reason.
:: Morat 8:58 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, July 17, 2003 ::

Well, isn't this a kick in the teeth.

Via Riba Rambles, we have this lovely bit of information. Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts".
Well, that certainly doesn't look pretty, does it?

Bad timing there. One of the hazards of stonewalling, is that all the secrets tend to come out at once. The existence of similar documents for Saudi Arabia and the UAE make the revelation a bit less disturbing, as it becomes possible that the Energy Task Force was just being...thorough.

Thorough enough to chart the oil supplies of a country under heavy UN sanctions, and highlight who is interested in exploiting Iraqi Oil. Oil that, under the US policy at the time, was off limits...Bush went into office tough on Saddam.

Offhand, though, as bad as this looks (and it's certainly going to be fodder for elements in Iraq that already distrust us), I don't think this is going to go anywhere. It's well known that Cheney, when he worked for Hallibruton, was lobbying to have the Iraqi sanctions dropped. So a continuing interest in exploiting Iraqi oil isn't that much of a surprise.

I would think, however, that just to avoid the appearance of impropriety, that Cheney and Bush would want to stop stonewalling on the rest of the Energy Task Force documents.

Because as it stands, it certainly makes you wonder if Cheney decided that there was an easier way than convincing the UN or the public to support lowering the sanctions.

The problem is, I'm not entirely certain Cheney is willing to do what needs to be done here, and disclose the Energy Task Force documents and lay this nasty suspicion to rest.
:: Morat 8:50 PM :: ::

Who did Tenet Finger?

According to Josh Marshall (and via the Nelson Report), a man named Joseph Roberts. But wait! It gets better....according to the Nelson Report, fingering Roberts is really fingering Condi Rice.
...but no career professional could have had such impact on the decision-making process if he didn't receive the backing of his political masters. Tenet, who came to the CIA from Capitol Hill, thus knew exactly what he was doing when he threw Joseph's name out to the Senators yesterday.

4. As Tenet obviously intended, even Republicans are now asking tough questions about the role of National Security advisor Condi Rice, and, in particular, her deputy, Steve Hadley…the two senior political appointees who's approval of Joseph's actions were essential, observers agree.
It appears that Tenet has tipped even the GOP controlled Congress into considering hearings. (Don't get me wrong. Democrat, Republican...there's going to be a circle the wagon effect regardless. Ain't no party pure.).

These hearings, IIRC, are due to start in September. Tenet has, in the last week managed to prod a GOP-controlled Congress into holding hearings on a GOP Administration's potential misuse of power, implicated one of the more powerful movers-and-shakers in the White House, and ensured that the White House is stuck answering awkward questions in a very bright media glare for the next two or three months. Minimum.

I'd say that, if there is a war being waged over the true role of the CIA in politics, that Tenet just got the upper hand.
:: Morat 7:47 PM :: ::

Inconvenient Facts

Inconvenient Facts . . .
Gingrich notes that on April 28, Bush told a group of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Mich., 'I have confidence in the future of a free Iraq. The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government.' Then the Newtster continues:
'Contrast that vision with a recent classified report by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research titled 'Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes,' which was leaked in March 2003 to the Los Angeles Times. As reported by that newspaper, the document stated that 'liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve [in Iraq]. . . . Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.' ' Gingrich goes on to list other Foggy Bottom low points, and concludes: 'Can anyone imagine a State Department more out of sync with Bush's views and objectives?'
It's okay if you want to go back and read that again. Gingrich has just criticized an intelligence assessment of what Iraq is for being out of sync with Bush's views on what Iraq should be. Those of us who've called for investigations of whether the administration slanted its intelligence should be abashed. What's to investigate? Here's a member of the administration's Defense Policy Board who argues in print that the very purpose of intelligence is to confirm the president's vision of a proper planet. In the mind of Newt Gingrich, where synapses must misfire at close to the speed of light, the descriptive and the normative are as one.
I found Hellblazer's summation to be spot on: Faith based reality indeed.
:: Morat 12:19 PM :: ::

Irony and Reason

Reason Online had a fun little article discussing Hitchens journey from the left to the right. While reading it, I was struck with a strange sense of irony. Radical Check
All the ingredients of the left's antiwar discourse are found in that clumsy phrase: the invalid heaping together of George W. Bush's administration with previous administrations that did indeed cultivate ties with Saddam; the flimsy allegation that it was the US that starved and suffocated the Iraq people, when it was the Baath regime that did so by abusing an oil-for-food system administered by the UN; the fake identification with Iraqi humiliation, as if three decades of maltreatment by the Tikritis was anything but humiliating; and the hypocritical insult against Saddam, inserted to disguise the fact that the passage is really directed at the US.

It is to Hitchens' credit that he broke with the left before engaging in the verbal gymnastics of his former comrades. His story, however, is a microcosm of a greater problem faced by Western radical intellectuals: An inability to define what radicalism truly means today and to confuse it all too often with anti-Americanism.
This, in an article devoted to discussing how ideology is an obstacle to reason.

I am a proud member of the antiwar left. I've been involved in plenty of discussions with other members of the antiwar left. And yet...the above statement doesn't even come close to describing me, or those I've spoken most often too.

Yet this entire piece is supported on the single assumption that the above is somehow descriptive of the left as a whole! The largest single element of the antiwar's discourse, the fact that this was an unnecessary war, fought without allies and without world support, is simply missing from the article. What else is missing from this article? The fact that we entered into this war based on false intelligence and false premises? Falsehoods that the UN inspectors were busily exposing, until our rush to war cut short their job. The fact that no real planning was done for the occupation? The worries that, once we were there, we would face an armed and angry populace? The worries that, in the end, we would end up in a ruined country, with no plan for reconstruction?

None of those worries, those reasons, are in this article. Despite the fact that each of them has been borne out by reality.

Yet I'm the one blinded by ideology? I'm not the one who has to close his eyes to the guerilla war we're not fighting, to the lies and deceptions being exposed daily, to the simple fact that nothing we were told about Iraq by the hawks has been true.

All the hawks have is old, old graves. Well, here's a shocker...I might have supported a war designed to stop that. Designed to right that wrong. But that wasn't the war that was pushed. If it was, things would be running a bit smoother in Iraq....and accusations about Nigerian uranium wouldn't be front page news.

But I'm the one blinded by ideology?

Here's some advice for Michael Young. Remove the beam from your own eye. Then you can come speak to me about the mote in mine.
:: Morat 12:06 PM :: ::

Tenet Says Official Wanted Iraq Claim

Tenet Says Official Wanted Iraq Claim
Director George Tenet told members of Congress a White House official insisted that President Bush's State of the Union address include an assertion about Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s nuclear intentions that had not been verified, a Senate Intelligence Committee member said Thursday.
Well, that's the right question. After all, as it's more or less public record that Tenet had been griping about the uranium claims for months, obviously someone was pushing to use the claim.

After all, when the director of the CIA says "This isn't something we can really say", then it's going to take someone with real pull to keep getting it inserted into speeches. The uranium claim was, after all, a matter of intelligence. There's not a lot of people who have the pull to keep playing tag with Tenet over this.

Rice, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rove, Rumsfeld, maybe Perle, and Bush are the ones that spring to mind. And Wolfowitz and Perle would have needed the help of one of the others. Those are about the only people with sufficient pull to override Tenet.

Personally, I'm not sure what Tenet's goals are here. But then again, Washington politics have always been fairly murky to me. Perhaps he's just dragging this out, so as to cause maximum damage to whomever he named.

Indeed, I'm wondering if Tenet spit out a name as a response to Novak's little column on Wilson's wife. If I was director of the CIA, and someone had just burned one of my people, I'd hit back too.

I'm beginning to suspect that there is an underground war going on, between the CIA and the White House. I'd imagine it started when the CIA began feeling ignored in favor of Wolfowitz's B Team, and escalated into a full-fledged conflict when the White House fingered Tenet for the WMD failures in Iraq.

If so, then Novak's story about Wilson's wife is the equivalent of a direct nuclear strike....which means that whomever Tenet fingered is high indeed.
:: Morat 11:42 AM :: ::

Kleiman on the CIA/Wilson Story

I find myself in full agreement with Mark Kleiman
But this latest -- if true, which we, or at least I, don't know -- would involve a completely different magnitude of villainy. Deliberately outing one of your own spies as an act of political revenge would be a truly unforgivable deed, and one that wouldn't become any more forgivable if tomorrow MI5 produced an invoice for 300 tons of yellowcake with Saddam Hussein's signature and thumbprint on it as the recipient.
I don't have any wish to believe this is true. And I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of George Bush or anyone in his Administration.

Up until this story broke, I would have put nothing beneath them. However, when I read this accusation.....well, it turns out I honestly do believe there are depths to which no American would sink. I'm not a fan of George Bush's. But deep down, I can't bring myself to believe this. That he, or even the thoroughly political Rove, would so much as consider this.

But like Mark, I'm stuck on the horns of a dilemma. Someone told Novak this. Someone, somewhere, interjected politics into a place it had no business....

At best, it was a remarkably low blow, ruining the career of a woman who had nothing to do with any of this, all as a "warning". I'm sure that Wilson would have preferred a horse's head, eh?

At worst, someone blew the cover of a CIA agent involved in, according to the White House, the most important and delicate job the CIA has....and everyone responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Update: You can find a bit more in Time. Thanks to Tom Spencer for the links.
:: Morat 9:07 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 ::

Capital Games

Capital Games
Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security--and break the law--in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?
It sure looks that way, if conservative journalist Bob Novak can be trusted.
Soon after Wilson disclosed his trip in the media and made the White House look bad. the payback came. Novak's July 14, 2003, column presented the back-story on Wilson's mission and contained the following sentences: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" the allegation.

Wilson caused problems for the White House, and his wife was outed as an undercover CIA officer. Wilson says, "I will not answer questions about my wife. This is about me and less so about my wife. It has always been about the facts underpinning the President's statement in the state of the union speech."
I saw this on Calpundit. This is a very, very, very serious allegation.

At the very least, this needs to be looked into to clear the Bush Administration. I have a hard time believing that even this White House would stoop to such petty...and thoroughly illegal...revenge.

:: Morat 7:18 PM :: ::

Credit Card Conservatives

In the comments here, someone using the name Tacitus (no idea if it's the real one or not) used the phrase "credit card conservatives" to describe the current "cut and spend" GOP.

Anyone know where that phrase originated? Because it's genius, and kudos to Tacitus or whomever coined it.

:: Morat 2:18 PM :: ::

Now that's guts

The Miami Herald has a piece on John Bolton's abruptly canceled testimony on Syria:
In a new dispute over interpreting intelligence data, the CIA and other agencies objected vigorously to a Bush administration assessment of the threat of Syria's weapons of mass destruction that was to be presented Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
After the objections, the planned testimony by Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, a leading administration hawk, was delayed until September.
U.S. officials told Knight Ridder that Bolton was prepared to tell members of a House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria's development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region.
I'm starting to buy "deluded" over "stupid" as an explanation of Bush and the neocons actions in the Middle East.

I'm not certain it's possible for adults to be stupid enough to try using the same lie in the middle of a massive scandal over the first time they tried that line. I'm not sure people can be that stupid and manage to dress themselves.

So I'm beginning to think that they're deluded. That they have decided that the fantasy world in their skulls is more correct than the "real world" and any contradictory data can be ignored.

The Bush administration has done some really gutsy stuff, stuff that defies popular political wisdom...and even managed to pull it off. But this is leaps and bounds beyond that. On the bright side, there are at least enough sane adults in power to cancel Bolton's testimony.....

So, at the moment, it appears the fruitcakes just have "undue influence". Had Bolton gone ahead and testified, despite the CIA report, then we'd have proof positive that the inmates were running the asylum.
:: Morat 11:55 AM :: ::

Mommy? Where does the deficit come from?

Angry Bear goes through the effort to crunch the numbers and find out. Go check out the details (and he's got the source material if you want to dig all the way down) but it appears that the vast majority of the deficit has George W. Bush's (and the GOP's) name on it. "Recession" and "terrorism" simply don't have the effect the GOP wants to claim. This is the fiscal responsibility of the GOP. 450 billion in the hole...and growing.

:: Morat 11:34 AM :: ::

...Or More Lies From The Usual Suspects?

...Or More Lies From The Usual Suspects? (washingtonpost.com)
"Once again a mysterious criminal stalks the nation's capital. First there was the mystery sniper. Then there was the mystery arsonist. Now there is the mystery ventriloquist. The media are in a frenzy of speculation and leakage. Senators are calling for hearings. All of Washington demands an answer: Who was the arch-fiend who told a lie in President Bush's State of the Union speech? No investigation has plumbed such depths of the unknown since O.J. Simpson's hunt for the real killer of his ex-wife. Whodunit? Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a candlestick? Condoleezza Rice in the Situation Room with a bottle of Wite-Out and a felt-tipped pen?"
Tom Spencer pointed this out. Too funny.

And it makes a much needed point. Either Bush lied in his State of the Union, or someone in his Administration used him to lie to the American public.

You'd think that, if the latter, Bush would be angry and determined to find, and fire, the miscreant responsible. That's how every boss, manager, and CEO I've ever heard of works. Yet Bush doesn't seem to care.

Which means, fellow Americans, that either our President is a liar...or a man who cares nothing for the truth, and doesn't mind being used to tell lies. Even lies that get people killed.

Neither is a particularly Presidential trait.
:: Morat 11:26 AM :: ::

Shades of Dementia

President Defends Allegation On Iraq
Bush said the CIA's doubts about the charge -- that Iraq sought to buy 'yellowcake' uranium ore in Africa -- were 'subsequent' to the Jan. 28 State of the Union speech in which Bush made the allegation. Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein 'a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in.'
Bush's position was at odds with those of his own aides, who acknowledged over the weekend that the CIA raised doubts that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger more than four months before Bush's speech.
The president's assertion that the war began because Iraq did not admit inspectors appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective.
"Appeared to contradict"? It flat out did contradict. I mean, unless the entire inspection process was a UN ruse, inspectors entered Iraq several months before the war, got more cooperation than at any point in the prior decade (if not total cooperation) and stayed until the very eve of invasion.

What the hell is wrong with America when the President can stand up and say things that are, at best, severely retarded? My 8 year old cousin, with no interest in current events or world affairs, wouldn't make that statement.

What's it say about America when our President makes statements so absurd that children can see through them?

I once knew a girl who acted exactly that way. She had a particularly strong internal reality. Faced with a contradiction between the "Real world" and the one in her head, she went with her internal fantasies every time. She had a habit of rewriting history. She was constantly revising her past, even her present. If you spoke or acted in a way inconsistent with the reality she wanted, she'd simply remember you acting and speaking differently.

And nothing could change her mind. It's not a pleasant thought to be wondering if your President is merely deluded, or horribly uninformed. Neither choice really sits well.
:: Morat 8:59 AM :: ::

An interesting possibility

Joshua Marshall had an interesting thought about why the Nigerian information (caveated as it was) made it into the NIE. Perhaps the information was included because the NIE was put together at the request of Senate Democrats prior to their vote for a war resolution.
As Pollack's notes -- and virtually everyone else says off the record -- the CIA was under intense pressure to produce, well, let's say, good stuff -- material that was, to use Pollack's words, 'sufficiently alarmist.' I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that that pressure would have been at its greatest when it came time to producing intelligence assessments and dossiers for members of congress who were going to vote on the Iraq war resolution.
An interesting thought.
:: Morat 8:51 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 ::

In Honor of Tacitus

Iraq's First Political Body Begins Work
Al-Hawza al-Ilmiyah, Iraq's highest Shiite Muslim seat of learning based in the southern city of Najaf, handed out leaflets Monday calling on followers to protest, and several Shiite mosques made similar pleas at Monday evening prayers.
Criticism of the council and Iraq's U.S. and British occupiers also came from abroad. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa issued a statement Sunday saying that had the new council been elected, 'it would have gained much power and credibility.'
The governing council, which was announced Sunday, will have real political muscle with the power to name ministers and approve the 2004 budget. But final control of Iraq rests with L. Paul Bremer — the U.S. administrator of Iraq and a major architect of the council.
Now that the new Iraqi council has met, I felt I would once again address optimism and pragmatism in Iraq.

In short: I'm both optimistic and pessimistic. Optimistic in that the council is more than just symbolic, and that if the council is truly representative of the average Iraqi, there's a good chance that our reasoning for not holding elections might be accepted. For awhile.

I remain fairly pessimistic on how long that will be. I fully expect, within a matter of a month or two, for Bremer to overrule the council on some matter important to the Iraqis. Whether or not Bremer will be correct to do so is immaterial. Perception is all. The explosion outside the meeting, the protests about the legitimacy of the council and the death of another American soldier make me suspect that this council, and Bremer, are going to have to bend over backwards to prove that the Iraqis have real power.

I expect that this council will garner us some good will, so long as we're actually allowing the Iraqis input into their own government, and making a good faith effort to turn power over. However, I also expect that we won't be making that good faith effort, and that any steps in that direction will be forced out of us. In essence, I fully expect this to self-destruct. Either the council will make decisions we don't like (regardless of our reasons), or the average Iraqi will quickly start to consider them US stooges.

As I've mentioned before, I'd like to be wrong about this. So, to all you hawks out there, keep an eye on it. Don't let me be right about this. Make sure that Bremer, that Bush, doesn't screw this one up, okay?
:: Morat 4:16 PM :: ::

Computer Woes Update

After much fiddling, I believe the problem lies in the USB mouse. If the USB mouse (which was already acting fiddly. Windows lost and found that thing all the time) is connected when the computer powers up, it'll hang.

If the mouse isn't plugged in, it boots fine. And then you can hot-plug the USB mouse in, and everything runs just dandy.

So I plugged in another USB mouse (it goes into the keyboard) and it booted fine. Only thing I can think of is that there was a short in the mouse (which would explain the constantly dropping connection) that siphoned just enough power to cause the boot to fail.

Any comments? :)
:: Morat 3:57 PM :: ::

Perry could call another session on redistricting

Dewhurst: Perry could call another session on redistricting
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Tuesday that he expects Gov. Rick Perry will call another special legislative session to address congressional redistricting if a plan is not approved this session.
Perry, speaking to reporters earlier, would not confirm that he would call lawmakers back to the Capitol to redraw congressional districts if they fail to adopt a plan, but he left the option open.
'Oh, I never rule it out,' Perry said.
Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said Perry told him he would call another session but Dewhurst also said he believes lawmakers should solve the issue now
I got this via Off The Kuff, and I can't say I understand it at all.

There aren't a lot of people in Texas in favor of redistricting. Most people oppose it, and most fence sitters view it as a waste of money. There simply isn't any real support for this. Even the Senate Republicans are coming out and denouncing it.

It's a dead issue. More importantly, it's an unpopular dead issue when the general consensus is that Texas has expensive and pressing problems already.

It's gotten to the point where I'm honestly wondering if DeLay is blackmailing Perry. All calling another session does is make Perry look worse. I can't see a political upside at all.

:: Morat 12:28 PM :: ::

U.S., N. Korea Drifting Toward War, Perry Warns

U.S., N. Korea Drifting Toward War, Perry Warns
Former defense secretary William Perry warned that the United States and North Korea are drifting toward war, perhaps as early as this year, in an increasingly dangerous standoff that also could result in terrorists being able to purchase a North Korean nuclear device and plant it in a U.S. city.
'I think we are losing control' of the situation, said Perry, who believes North Korea soon will have enough nuclear warheads to begin exploding them in tests and exporting them to terrorists and other U.S. adversaries. 'The nuclear program now underway in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities,' he said in an interview.
Perry added that he reached his conclusions after extensive conversations with senior Bush administration officials, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and senior officials in China.
After weeks of debate, President Bush and his senior foreign policy advisers this week are expected to meet to resolve the administration's next step in the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programs. Officials have discussed how sharply to ratchet up the pressure, and how to react to a series of possible North Korean provocations, including nuclear tests.
There isn't a whole lot we can do at this point. We don't have an army (it's pretty much bogged down in Iraq, and we're down to critical levels of many of our more effective toys). We don't have any real leverage, as North Korea is pretty much persona non grata. And it's not like we've got any international support or aid, as we jumped up and down on all the institutions and allies that would come in handy right about now.

I'm guessing we're going to have to pay the Danegeld....
:: Morat 11:52 AM :: ::

Volvo - Safety Concept Car

Volvo - Concept Lab I've got to agree with the eight or nine people that sent this to me. Too cool.

There's no telling if all these ideas will pan out, but some of them (blindspot sensors and transparent beams to reduce blindspots) should be easy enough to incorporate into modern cars and provide an obvious benefit.

:: Morat 11:37 AM :: ::

Blue Slip Hypocrisy

Four judicial nominees to get hearings despite 'blue slips'
The Senate Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings for four of President Bush's judicial nominees from Michigan despite staunch objections from their home-state senators.
Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both Michigan Democrats, oppose the nominees to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Normally, that would prevent the nominees from getting a hearing.
Just when you thought the hypocrisy couldn't get any more obvious....

If bipartisanship, if holding to the same rules for both parties, is "date rape" as Norquist noted, it's pretty obvious which side is stocking up on rohypnol and practicing the line "I thought 'No' meant 'Yes'!".
:: Morat 11:25 AM :: ::

Fiscal Responsibility

The GOP controls it all. The House, the Senate, the Presidency....and he who has the power, takes the blame. Look at this. Look at it. That deficit isn't the unavoidable result of war, or of recession. Hard times can hammer an economy, but not like that.

No, that's what fiscal insanity looks like. That's what you get when children, not adults, are minding the store. There's no one to blame but the GOP for this. And it doesn't even cover the 50 or more billion we're going to spend in Iraq this year.

It's crunch time, my friends. To all of you out there who claim to be "fiscal conservatives", to all of you who talk about voting your wallets, to all of you who supported Perot....to anyone who dared use the phrase "tax and spend" democrat....

This is what the GOP has done to the budget. This is what they call 'fiscal responsibility'. It's time to put up or shut up. The GOP has forfeited the right to call themselves fiscal conservatives. They've forfeited the right to your vote. Vote for whom you will. But don't pretend that you're voting out of any sense of fiscal sanity. (Thanks to Atrios for the image)

:: Morat 10:09 AM :: ::

PC Problems

My wife's computer just headed south, so I thought I'd appeal to the vast computer knowledge floating around the internet.

Symptoms wise: It won't POST. You hit the power, the HP splash screen appears and that's it. No BIOS stuff at all. No checking RAM, no checking hardware, no beep codes, nothing.

All the drives light up, the hard drive spins up, and the floppy drive activates...but it won't boot off of any of them. As best I can tell, all the activity on the computer is the default "we have power, but we're not hooked to anything" behavior.

I was informed that it might be the BIOS battery (which was odd, as I thought that just held state...but at three dollars for a replacement, I went ahead and picked one up). I'll know tonight if that fixes it.

This isn't the first time this happened. The computer locked up about a week ago, and then I couldn't get it to power back up. After futzing with it, I was about to give up when I noticed the power cable wasn't seated firmly in the wall. I plugged it in better, and the computer started. Ran fine for a week, until my wife shut it down. So I'm guessing it was just a coincidence.

So, any suggestions? Thoughts? Ideas?

UPDATE: Just a few more facts. The computer hasn't been moved recently, other than minor shuffling around to get at cables. The fan seems to work fine, I haven't heard any heat alarms. There was some dust in the intakes, but I yanked that out...and if it was a heat problem, the thing would boot once it cooled down.
:: Morat 9:07 AM :: ::

:: Monday, July 14, 2003 ::

Positive News

In comments (relating to my last post) there was a question relating to the difference between optimism and failing to not "positive news". So I thought I'd clarify, as my position was pretty rambling.

Specifically, was the establishment of this new council "positive news"? Or would considering it that way be "optimism"?

I consider that assessment "optimism". Why? Because I have absolutely no idea, and from what I can gather no one does, exactly how much (or little) power this council has. Is it a good idea? Beats me, as I don't know how legitimate it is.

Judging by the history of our occupation, this is a powerless council, whose members were handpicked by Bremer and not the Iraqis at large. That sort of large scale screw-up seems to be the defining standard for the occupation.

I'm certainly not going to trumpet it as good news until such time as it is. Whether or not this is "good news" ultimately boils down to how much control, to how much power, this council actually has.

If it has enough, it will reassure the Iraqi populace and help lay to rest fears of American empire. If it is a powerless group of handpicked exiles, then the formation of this council will make things worse than they already were.

But neither the Bush Administration, nor the pro-war camp, has had such a successful war as to merit by automatic optimism. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Bush Administration's entire war effort, from the first shot until the formation of this council, seems geared to do nothing else but earn the unending cynicism of any observer.

If this council proves to be legitimate, and if this council proves to have actual authority, and if the council actually lays to rest Iraqi fears and resistance, then I will concede this is positive news. But cynicism and skepticism have served me well the past six months. I'm not jettisoning them now because the hawks need to feel good about themselves.

Neither the Iraq War nor the Iraq Occupation are "tests" of the anti-war crowd. The successes and failures of each lie solely on the hawks. And, as I said before, because failures in this arena are counted in lost lives and spilled blood, I'm saddened to note that the failures far outweigh the successes.

In other words, asking me to call this council as "positive news" is as best premature. At worst, it's a hopelessly naive optimism.
:: Morat 1:41 PM :: ::

Iraq and high emotions

Tacitus writes, concerning the formation of an Iraqi council:
UPDATE 2: I think this development is going to become a Rorschach test for opponents of the war. If you're among them, I would assume general goodwill, human decency and, if you're American or British, patriotic feeling would impel you to want to see a successful occupation. Reactions to this news, as exemplified in this Calpundit thread, belie that assumption. There are apparently plenty of people who stalwartly refuse to believe that good news could come from Iraq, or that the occupation could be an agent of that good news. Instead, we get efforts to paint the representatives from Dawa, the Communist party, and most ludicrously, the leader of the Badr Brigades as 'quislings.'
The same old story: reach conclusion, alter facts to fit. Pathetic.
What the fuck? Tacitus, I like you. You're a needed viewpoint, one I take care to read. I don't want to read solely confirming viewpoints. That sort of thing leads to rather nasty traps, as we can all admit.

However, I think you're pretty far off base here. You might have a point for the occasional individual, but trying to extrapolate to all "opponents of the war" is ludicrous. Not to mention pretty damn insulting. Yeah, Tacitus. I'd like the occupation to go well. You know why? Because we're stuck there. STUCK. I didn't want to go to war in the first place because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that once we were in Iraq, we were in for the long haul.

No matter how nasty it got, no matter how much we were hated, once we were in I felt we were morally compelled to stay.

Sort of a "You break it, you buy it" deal. My biggest problem concerning the war was a very firm belief that the Bush administration was lying their way into it. Not so much to the public at large (although that appears to be the case) but to themselves as well.

It didn't take a genius to realize, months and months before the war, that the "plan" for Iraqi occupation was Chalabi. And it didn't take a genius to realize that was a plan doomed to failure.

So, Tacitus, I opposed this war because I suspected that I was being lied too, and damn well knew that no one was making any realistic plans for the aftermath.

And I've damn well been proven right. Iraq is a mess. Basic water, basic electricity, basic sanitation....these things haven't been fully repaired in the months since the end of the war.

And here you come along and bitch we're not sufficiently optimistic? What do we have to be optimistic about, Tacitus? Every pessimistic and gloomy assessment about the aftermath of the war has come true. Pretty much everything that could be screwed up, was screwed up. We're occupying an increasingly hostile nation, one whose basic services we can't seem to provide, and you want me to be optimistic about the formation of a fairly powerless council?

Fuck optimism. Optimism was what got us into this damn mess in the first place. Had people at State and Defense been more realistic, and less optimistic, then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Sorry, Tacitus. Optimism is earned. This isn't any sort of damn test for us "anti-war people". It's a test for the "pro-war people".

You got us into this mess. You got us into this mess over our objections, and you have so far managed to screw it up badly. And then you try to come along and bitch that we're not supportive enough?

Sorry, Tacitus. This is your test. Your trial. You pushed for it, you argued for it, and now you're stuck with it. You wanted this mess, you've got it. Now it's your job to get it right.

Yeah, we're pessimistic. Yeah, we expect bad news. You know why? Because we've been right so far. There weren't any smoking guns, there was massive looting of archaeological treasures, and there is a growing resistance to our occupation.

So don't blame us because you guys have screwed the pooch on every major decision since Bush's landing on that aircraft carrier. You'll get "optimism and good will" when you damn well earn it.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to expect the Bush administration to continue to screw up Iraq, and continue to hope to God I'm wrong.

This occupation isn't our test, Tacitus. It's yours. It's the ultimate acid test for all you hawks and your dreams of easy empire.

And we're paying the price, in blood and pain, for your failure. So don't talk to me of tests.

This is your damn war. This is your damn failure. And because the price for your failure is being paid in blood, I'm spending my every waking moment praying I'm wrong about how Iraq is going. But so far, I haven't seen a damn thing to indicate I should be "optimistic".
:: Morat 10:58 AM :: ::

Blogging today

Blogging might be a bit lax today. I'm not entirely sure how much I'll be able to do today. The various drugs I have pumping into my system make me a bit drowsy, and I have actual work to do on top of that. Between those two things, I'm hard pressed to care enough about anything to blog.

Hopefully I'll wake up around lunchtime. But for right now, outrage is too much effort...and all my favorite blogs seem to have it in spades. It's nice to see that at least some of the issues that I've been griping about are starting to hit the public consciousness.
:: Morat 9:20 AM :: ::

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