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:: Friday, August 22, 2003 ::

Weekend Reading

Anyone looking for a good book to read? I figured I'd just list a few that I'd either recommend or personally want to read. I'll be nice and tell you which is which. I think that's enough for now. Two of the books I can personally vouch for as excellent reading, and the other two are on my "must have" list (and by all reviews, are also excellent and well worth the time and money).
:: Morat 4:02 PM :: ::

Et tu, Australia?

Australia 'twisted Iraq intelligence'
A former senior Australian intelligence analyst has accused Canberra of exaggerating the case for going to war in Iraq, on the first day of an official inquiry.
The Australian parliamentary inquiry is examining the intelligence used by Prime Minister John Howard to justify sending more than 2,000 Australian troops to Iraq.
As in Britain and the United States, there has been public concern in Australia over whether intelligence information, especially that relating to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), was manipulated.
Andrew Wilkie, who resigned in March in protest at the war in Iraq, told the inquiry that the government had distorted intelligence information to suit its political purposes.
'Sometimes the exaggeration was so great, it was clear dishonesty,' he told the inquiry.
So, let's see...Not only was Bush lying, so was Blair and Howard? I'm just wondering whose bright idea this was in the first place. Did Bush twist Blair's arm, then the both of them twist Howard's? Whose idea was it to invade first, get intel later?

I find it hard to believe Australia, Britian, and American just happened to be led by people who were happy to distort intelligence to promote an invasion that was not terribly popular at home. And I wonder, when politicians in countries that aren't being run by single party start feeling the heat, who will they blame? (Link via Matt Yglesias)
:: Morat 3:47 PM :: ::

MoveOn.org's "Defend Democracy" Campaign

MoveOn's Defend Democracy Campaign (aimed at helping the Texas 11 prevent redistricting, and bring the GOP's most blatant power grab into the public eye) has managed to raise 795,000 of their goal of one million. If you've got a few spare dollars, throw them their way.
:: Morat 3:20 PM :: ::

Fox Blocked In Suit Against Al Franken Book

Via Atrios a piece of good news:
Fox Blocked In Suit Against Al Franken Book
A federal judge on Friday denied Fox News Channel's request for an injunction to block liberal humorist Al Franken's new book, whose title mocks the Fox slogan 'fair and balanced.' U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said

Fox's claim was 'wholly without merit, both factually and legally.' The network had argued Franken's book -- 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' -- could trick some consumers into believing the book is associated with Fox.
Keeping with the seriousness and mature discourse in Fox's own suit, I have this to say: HA-HA! Morons! And I say that as an utterly fair and balanced blogger.

More seriously, I find Franken's response to be utterly fitting:
He also said he was grateful for the publicity generated by the suit. Publisher Penguin Group added 50,000 copies to the original run of 270,000 after Fox filed suit, and rolled out the book Thursday instead of its planned September release date.

"In addition to thanking my own lawyers," Franken said, "I'd like to thank Fox's lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I've ever seen in my life." On Friday, the book was listed at No. 2 on Amazon.com's bestseller list, behind "The South Beach Diet."
I'd imagine that Fox's own stupidity made Fraken 50,000 or more. Good job, Fox!
:: Morat 3:10 PM :: ::

Bush announces sky blue, environment to "get the shaft"

Draft of Air Rule Is Said to Exempt Many Old Plants
After more than two years of internal deliberation and intense pressure from industry, the Bush administration has settled on a regulation that would allow thousands of older power plants, oil refineries and industrial units to make extensive upgrades without having to install new anti-pollution devices, according to those involved in the deliberations.
The new rule, a draft of which was made available to The New York Times by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, would constitute a sweeping and cost-saving victory for industries, exempting thousands of indus trial plants and refineries from part of the Clean Air Act. The acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency could sign the new rule as soon as next week, administration officials have told utility representatives.
The exemption would let industrial plants continue to emit hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere and could save the companies millions, if not billions, of dollars in pollution equipment costs, even if they increase the amounts of pollutants they emit.
Between that and the almost fetish-like use of the word "voluntary" in Bush's Global Climate Change Policy Book, I have come to the sobering realization that, to Bush, the environment is "that thing with trees and stuff that can make my friends lots of money and sicken children!"

Seriously, I realize Bush and South Park's Eric Cartman have similar views on the environment (anyone talking about it is, undoubtedly, a deranged pot-smoking 60s reject), but this is getting a little ridiculous. I realize that Bush's life (and the lives of most of his friends and campaign donors) is considerably different than average, and that many of the worries and concerns of us "lesser people" (like good schools and having jobs and stuff) don't apply...but surely he realizes he breathes the same air, right? I mean, does he think there's a magic "air pollution filter" that prevents noxious chemicals from wafting gently into his lungs?

:: Morat 3:02 PM :: ::

Judge Moore redux

Over at Pandragon I saw a rather interesting comment made about Moore, the 10 Commandments, and idolatry.
As rea notes, this is on the edge of idolatry. Someone asked a Buddhist monk once if Buddha wasn't an idol, and the monk picked up the Buddha and threw it in the fire. It might take work for a Christian (or Jew) to do that with a Bible.
Of the Christians I know (and they are overwhelmingly liberal, admittedly) not one would hesitate to throw a Bible into the fire to prove exactly this point. As it is in most religions, it is the message that is important.

Judge Moore is, to the best of my knowledge, perverting the most important messages of Christianity. He is sullying the most pristine part of Christianity for cheap political gain. At least, I hope he his. If he is honestly acting as he thinks Christianity requires him to, then I feel nothing but pity for him.

A man who epitomizes intolerance and bigotry is a man who has failed to internalize the lessons of Christianity, and has rejected the essence of his own religion. And there are few things sadder than someone who has given their lives in service to what is, in the end, a colossal misunderstanding.

Luckily, I think he's just a would-be theocrat with a huge streak of hypocrisy. And a moron.
:: Morat 12:59 PM :: ::

Fiscal Irresponsibility Friday

Today is "Flood the Zone" Friday over at Not Geniuses. They've got an excellent "how to" on letters to the editor, and some basic information for today's topic. So head on over and flood the zone.
Now, on to the meat. Tomorrow is Fiscal Irresponsibility Friday, so we're going to be highlighting the incredible fiscal mismanagement of the Bush Administration -- it's his record, we're merely publicizing it. You shouldn't try and get all the points below into your letter, just choose three or so, and just make sure it flows well.
Have fun!
:: Morat 12:41 PM :: ::

U.S.: Beggar and Chooser

Quite a few people have blogged on this today (I first saw it on Different Strings, who has a solid analysis). It appears that reality seems to be making a partial dent in the White House, but has yet to really sink in.
U.S. Solicits Help in Iraq -- to a Point
Although there has been a swell of support to send troops or money to help secure Iraq in the wake of Tuesday's bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, few governments want to be subject to the control of the U.S.-led occupation authority, and prewar fault lines seemed to be reappearing.

Pakistan's ambassador, Munir Akram, hinted diplomatically that the coalition should bolster its own force before asking other countries to make up the difference. Others were more blunt.

'It sends us the message, 'We don't need to spill more American blood, we need foreign blood,' ' one European diplomat said.

Asked how he would resolve the apparent conflict, Powell said, 'I don't think there is a problem.' He added that he believed that anyone sending their young men and women into harm's way would want them under competent military leadership provided by the U.S.
It appears that while the Bush administration might succeed in fooling the American public, the rest of the world is an entirely different matter.

I'm afraid that this is either an Administration pipe-dream, or an attempt to provide rhetorical cover (We asked the UN for help. Those arrogant bastards said no. It's the UN's fault American soldiers are bleeding in dying. The world refused to help us.) for the increasing mess in Iraq.

Nobody in the world wants to put their troops into the blender for George Bush's mess. The only reason it's even being considered is that people, both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, are dying because of this mess. If it wasn't for the innocent blood spilling across the sands, all we'd be getting is "We told you so!" from virtually every country in the world.

I'm sure George Bush has forgotten the "focus groups" he derided before the war. But while he might be able to shrug off, conveniently forget, or simply ignore hundreds of thousands of angry protestors...other nations won't. It is a difficult thing for politicians to send troops into a dangerous area. Their citizens frown upon (just like ours) wasting soldiers lives in needless combat. It's a far more difficult thing to send troops to aid a war you voted against, your citizens are solidly against, in which your country has nothing to gain...and a lot to lose.

George might get, if he was willing to cede some authority, troops from other countries. He he was willing to allow foreign companies to bid for reconstruction, he might get even more.

But George won't do either. Because while the reality of Iraq is slowly bashing down the walls of Bush's wishful thinking and personal ideology, the reality of the solution faces a far more difficult task. Allowing international authority and international involvement at all levels requires more than confronting George's ideology...it involves confronting George's campaign donors.

And if there's one thing I'm willing to bet on, it's that Hallibruton's bottom line is far more important to the White House than the life of one soldier a day.
:: Morat 12:00 PM :: ::

A new low for 'compassionate conservative'

Counterspin Central pointed this out.
Anti-cancer drugs cut by Medicare
Cancer doctors see a coordinated effort by the White House and Congress to siphon federal money from cancer treatment and use it for prescription drugs currently not covered by Medicare.
You know, every time I think the administration can't sink any lower, it does. I can see the informative brochure now:

"So you've got cancer. Once apon a time, back when the evil Democrats ruled the world, Medicare would have paid for the drugs necessary to save your life. But when the Republicans overthrew the corrupt Democrats, they installed a new, compassionate, agenda. And part of that compassion was to stop paying for the drugs that would save your life, and instead use that money to try to get more votes in 2004. Because let's face it, Mr. Cancer patient....you're probably going to die anyways. And even if you did get the drugs, and did live, there's a lot more seniors than there are surviving cancer patients on Medicare! Anyways, here's hoping that your community has one of those fundraisers or something!"

Is there nothing, nothing these people won't do for votes? Are there any limits, anywhere?


:: Morat 9:48 AM :: ::

Monument Huggers Arrested

The Likely Story has a post up about Judge Moore's antics in Alabama. I'm sure we're all familiar with Moore's fun with monuments, and his complete failure to understand basic Constitutional ideas. Still, an update is nice. Mainly, however, I just liked the term "monument huggers".
The Likely Story: Monument Huggers Arrested
The Alabama Supreme Court finally fessed up to some measure of responsibility and overruled their own Chief Justice Roy Moore, ordering him to remove the ten commandments monument from its public moorings (sorry ;) at the Alabama Judicial Building.
Meanwhile, about two dozen monument huggers were arrested after refusing to leave the site of the monument. The protesters were a colorful bunch. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as the monument was temporarily covered by plywood.

:: Morat 9:25 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, August 21, 2003 ::

More on Texas Redistricting

Different Strings has a good post up about Texas Redistricting. Among other things, she quotes heavily from an essay written by Texas Senator Ellis, which can be found at MoveOn's website. MoveOn itself is organizing to help the Texas 11 and ensure that national attention is focused on the GOP's blatant power grab.

This is important stuff, people, that goes far beyond the borders of Texas. Tom DeLay didn't just see a GOP majority and get a wild hair to do this. He's been trying to do this since the day Bush was elected. The only reason this didn't happen 2 years ago is because one Republican (Ratliff) had courage and integrity. He was chosen to act as Lt. Governor until the next election, and when asked by DeLay to remove the Senate's traditional 2/3rds rule, refused.

I might not agree with much of Ratliff's politics, but I do admire integrity and a sense of fair play.
:: Morat 10:12 AM :: ::

Saddam Cousin 'Chemical Ali' Caught in Iraq

Daily Kos points out this piece of good news. Saddam Cousin 'Chemical Ali' Caught in Iraq
Ali Hassan al-Majid, a feared cousin of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) nicknamed 'Chemical Ali' for his use of poison gas in attacks, has been captured by U.S. forces in Iraq (news - web sites), the U.S. military said on Thursday.
Of course, Kos also notes (as does the Yahoo article) that the British claim to have killed him and recovered his body months ago.

Still, we have him now. Which is good for the world, but probably pretty bad for Bush, since he's fast running out of excuses for his failure to find those 35,000 liters of Anthrax.
:: Morat 9:41 AM :: ::

Pithy goodness.

Tapped notes:
In short, it seems very clear that Lieberman's strategy of becoming the anti-Dean is backfiring spectacularly, and that the opposite of Dean is unpopular.
The rest of the post is fairly informative, but that line just stuck out.

Like Dean or hate Dean, think he's electable or another McGovern, you can't deny that he's popular with a big chunk of the rank-and-file. And, in my opinion at least, he's pretty popular with a good chunk of the independent middle.
:: Morat 9:34 AM :: ::

Now there's a side effect!

If this is actually true, I want some. According to this (and the blogger I got it from, Duck Season, seems certain it's a legit side effect.) Apparently, when some patients take clomipramine, they tend to have orgasms when they yawn.

The author notes that the occurrence of this side effect may be higher than estimated, because patients may be unwilling to discuss the experience. I'd imagine there's another subset who are pretty happy with that side effect, and don't want to switch drugs...

:: Morat 9:25 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 ::

Texas Foolishness

I'm rerunning a post from back in June. With the recent claims floating around, this might come in handy. Since blogger is so annoying about permalinks, I just reproduced it for you:

Let's talk a bit about motive. Specifically, why is Perry taking another swing at DeLay's redistricting scheme? For once, the answer is right there in the article. It's just that reporters don't seem to notice.
Susan Weddington, chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party, pointed out in a news release that 56 percent of the state's voters last year cast ballots for GOP congressional candidates and, therefore, it makes sense to have a map that would end the Democrats' edge. Republicans hold every statewide elective office and have majorities in both state houses.
Do you see it? It's right there in black and white. It's why Karl Rove is pushing this, it's why Tom DeLay is pushing this (although it's possible DeLay is just doing it because he's Tom DeLay. A scorpion and the frog affair) and it's why Perry is pushing this.

It's why the GOP is acting desperate. It's right there, in black and white. All you need is one tiny bit of information. This bit. Which is a breakdown, by US Congressional district of voting in Texas during 2002. I've got a nice table here of some of the more interesting results. The current breakdown in the House is 17 Democrats, 15 Republicans. Tom DeLay's plan (what he thinks is "fair" given Texas' partisan breakdown) is 20 GOP, 12 Democrat.

In 6 of the 17 districts, a Democrat was elected to the House despite the district voting for the GOP candidates for Senator, Governor and Lt. Governor. What would cause that? Unelectable GOP Candidates. Texas didn't send more Democrats to Congress because of gerrymandered districts, as DeLay and Perry would have you believe, but because the GOP candidates running in 6 House districts were such poor candidates that voters chose a Democrat instead...despite showing a clear preference for GOP politicians. Check the table. They're showing swings of up to twenty percent. How bad does your candidate have to be to lose twenty percent?

Tom DeLay and Karl Rove aren't just trying to get more Republicans in Congress. They're trying to rig Texas so that even the worst, the most unpopular GOP candidates can win.

Why? Because the GOP has a growing problem with unelectable candidates. Look at California's last election. Rove handpicked an electable, moderate Republican who should have been able to wipe the floor with Davis. And what happened? He lost in the primaries to an extremist and unelectable candidate.

The GOP's far right wing is apparently getting tired of empty promises and political calculation, and is starting to push candidates they can trust to enact their agenda. No more running to the right, only to move to the middle. They want candidates who will stay on the far right all the time. The only problem is the very extremism that wins them primaries kills them in the election. Independents won't vote for them. Even moderate Republicans are often scared off.

And so they lose elections. Which brings us to DeLay's and Rove's problem. They need a way to elect these extremists. Tom , because he's one of them himself and Rove, because the GOP base is getting antsy and appeasing them is absolutely critical to continued GOP control.

Which brings us to Tom's plan. In order to elect GOP extremists, you need heavily GOP districts. 60% isn't going to cut it, because 10 to 15% of that 60% simply can't be counted on to vote "the right way" for the more extreme candidates, and you can bet the other 40% is going to be voting Democratic out of sheer terror.

They're already losing Republican districts because their base is nominating more and more unelectable candidates. And so, in true Rove fashion, the solution isn't to nominate electable candidates, but to bend and break the rules to force those candidates in. Even if the majority of the populace is against it. It's all about power. Getting it, but more important this time, holding on.

:: Morat 2:49 PM :: ::

Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science

Via Brad DeLong we have The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science:
1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
It's a useful list (there is a lot more detail in the article on each sign), and pretty much exactly what my High School physics teacher called the core tenets of his BS Detector. Which was, of course, pretty much ripped straight from Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark. Which is, by the way, heartily recommended. If you haven't read it, you're really missing out.
:: Morat 1:27 PM :: ::

Bush Diagnosed With Attention-To-Deficit Disorder

How I love The Onion:
Bush Diagnosed With Attention-To-Deficit Disorder
WASHINGTON, DC—Pointing to massive war-time tax cuts, physicians from the Congressional Budget Office diagnosed President Bush with attention-to-deficit disorder Tuesday. 'The president exhibits all the symptoms of ATDD: impulsiveness, restlessness, inability to focus on mounting U.S. debt likely to reach $400 billion by the year's end,' Dr. Terrence Spellman said. 'Failing to address his affliction could lead to serious long-term fiscal health problems for future generations of Americans.' To treat the president's ATDD, Spellman prescribed Ritalin and an introductory course in high-school economics.
Perfection!
:: Morat 12:48 PM :: ::

Desperation and Terrorism

Matthew Yglesias points to a few bloggers and journalists claiming the UN attacks were signs of "desperation" and thus was a good sign. (Click the link if you want the examples).

My thoughts? Of course they're desperate. Terrorists are, by nature, desperate. So are the Iraqi guerrillas, for that matter. They're facing a numerically superior foe (it's possible there are 130,000 active Iraqi guerrillas and imported terrorists. I doubt it's true at the moment, though) with a gigantic technological edge.

We have superior equipment, training, and techniques. We have Blackhawk helicopters, tanks, APCs, firm supply lines, secure communications. We trashed the entire Iraqi army in a matter of weeks.

They have AK47s, RPGs, mortars, and homemade bombs. And desperation. As in "they're desperate to have us leave". As in "they'll do anything to get us out of their country". Or, in the case of Al Qaeda, "they're desperate to hurt the US".

Fourth generation warfare is the definition of desperation. Nobody would resort to asymmetrical tactics if they had equivalent numbers or equipment. Every tactic undertaken by Iraqi guerrillas, renegade Ba'athists, or terrorist groups is going to be "desperate".

Drawing the conclusion that this act somehow signals the end of resistance is, at best, premature.
:: Morat 12:13 PM :: ::

And now Ohio

It's time, my friends. I've officially had enough.
Deciding Where to Draw the Lines
Ohio Republicans may take a cue from state legislators in Texas and Colorado and tinker with the lines that shape their congressional districts.
Ohio Democrats emerged unscathed from redistricting after the 2000 census when district lines were redrawn to reflect changes in population -- even though the GOP controlled the entire process. The reason? Republicans did not want to anger Rep. Sherrod Brown (D), who threatened to run against Gov. Bob Taft if his district was changed.
I've gotten sick of this mess. First it was Florida. I didn't exactly forgive it, but I let it slide. After all, it was entirely unprecedented and while there were dirty tricks aplenty (and mostly to completely on one side), I figured "That's just politics". When the stakes are high, things get that way.

Then came Congress. It started with little things. Hatch's changes to the Judiciary Committee rules, for instance. But I let that slide, though I was quite sarcastic about it. Because, frankly, it's Orrin Hatch and the GOP and I'm a shrill partisan who thinks they're all a bunch of corrupt hypocrites anyways.

Then came Texas and redistricting. And I was pissed as hell. Because at the very least, in Texas, we used to avoid all that game playing. But now we have an idiot Governor calling session after session, while the Lt. Governor changes whatever rules got in their way in the last session. All so that Tom DeLay can have districts so heavily Republican that even the loser candidates they ran last cycle could win. (When you lose 5 districts that are all 60% or more GOP, your candidates suck.) And I was angry, but it's Texas, and I used to live in Tom's district. I'm used to stuff like that. And besides, all in all the Democrats were holding their own, and making the Governor and the Lt. Governor look like patsies and fools.

Of course, there was Colorado, where the GOP was redistricting there as well. But I was preoccupied with Texas, and just got marginally annoyed.

And then came California. The Republicans lost the Governor's race only because they found the one man in all of California less popular than Davis. So they decided that it was mulligan time, and wanted a "do-over".

All of this has been building up and pissing me off more and more.

And now comes Ohio, where Republicans want to redistrict because they didn't gerrymander it enough the first time.

Conservatives damn near wet themselves with fear, worrying about Clinton's "black helicopters" and "body counts". And yet their own party is systematically dismantling the very instruments of democracy, the very tools that allow the people to control the government...and not the other way around. They're rejoicing as Rove and Bush pull stunts that, where they the brainchild of a Democrat, would have them screaming in a fit of righteous indignation.

Don't they have any shame? Any sense of decency? Any sense of history? Of Democracy? Of fair play? Are there no limits to their ambitions, their desires, their thirst for power and control? Is there not one prominent Republican willing to stand up to the actions of his own party? To draw the line somewhere?

Maybe there is no one in the GOP willing to draw the line. But I am. The GOP has stepped over the fine line between partisan disagreement and war. Not war between the Republicans and the Democrats, but war between the Republicans and Democracy.

Before now, I considered the GOP a threat to my way of thinking, to my beliefs and ideology. Since they felt the same way about me, that's fair enough. I thought their ideas were dangerous and would hurt the country, the economy, and our standing in the world. I thought, for the most part, they were pigheaded and foolish. And I'm sure they felt the same about me and my ideas.

But now, it's gone beyond partisan disagreement. At this point, I don't care what their agenda is. Their ideology is immaterial. It's their tactics that have filled me with disgust, with fear, and with a deep certainty that democracy itself is under fire.
:: Morat 9:10 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, August 19, 2003 ::

Flooding the Bush Zone

Not Geniuses had a very interesting idea. They took one look at Bush's very slick website and web-tools designed to allow quick grass-roots (or, more honestly, "astroturf") responses and decided it was a great idea. Rather than develop their own, they noted that the tools already exist. Why not use them? So they proposed using Bush's web-tools against him.
Matt Singer and I originally conceived of this as a project for the DDF, but we quickly realized this wasn't candidate specific -- this is for every lefty in America. So here is what we propose. We want to get a coalition together -- every influential and non-influential lefty site with the ability to direct readers and members over to the Bush action tools. And every Friday, we want to use those tools to write letters and make calls highlighting a different part of the Bush disaster. This Friday will be fiscal irresponsibility day -- where we blanket the media with calls and letters about Bush's absurd fiscal policies. We're even going to get you the info, for instance, behold the Bush Record (if you're not a Dean supporter, just ignore the stuff about Dean).
I'm in. Sounds like a lot of fun, and I've got down time at work on Fridays anyways. Who's with me?
:: Morat 8:05 PM :: ::

Iraq UN HQ car-bombed

Statesman.com:
A suicide truck bomb ripped through the hotel housing the U.N. headquarters on Tuesday, U.S. officials said. At least 15 people were killed and 40 wounded, including the chief U.N. official in Iraq, who was trapped in the rubble, U.N. officials said.
Some reports said the truck carrying the explosives drove into the lobby of the Canal Hotel, where the U.N. was based, before exploding, a senior defense official at the Pentagon said on condition of anonymity.
A U.N. official in New York said at least 13 people killed and 40 wounded, according to preliminary report. A U.N. worker in Baghdad, Tharer al-Tikriti, said that he had counted 15 white body bags taken from the collapsed building, where about 300 people worked.
No one, currently, has any idea which group (how of the zillion possibilities) did this, or why they chose the UN building.

But a few conclusions can be drawn from this, nonetheless. First and foremost, it's becoming readily apparent that the US is incapable of providing security in Iraq. If we can't keep the UN headquarters safe, we can't keep anything safe. A thought that should worry our soldiers. It should worry our commanders, as I'm guessing that your average guerilla or terrorist would rather kill one general than a hundred soldiers.

I know it worries me. We don't have the troops or the plan to pull this off. And I really doubt either is going to change. Iraq is a bad place to be, and I've nothing but sympathy for the 140,000 or so troops we've got running around in Iraq. It's bad enough to try to secure a country littered with literally millions of AK47s and RPGs...doing it with a giant target on your back is worse.

UPDATE: A little checking showed that, other than a big concrete wall, the UN had rejected US security, because they didn't want a heavy US presence. I'm sure this fact will cause glee in the hearts of certain bloggers, but I think the overall point remains fairly valid. A cement truck full of explosives isn't a thing to be taken lightly...

:: Morat 2:35 PM :: ::

Bush, Revisionist Historian

Regular politicians are content merely to lie and distort their past statements. George W. Bush has gone past these mere "spin-masters" into a brand new realm. George Bush is trying to go back and change history....The Likely Story notes:
Holy historical revisionism Batman! The WH has changed the title of the Lincoln speech posthumously. The WaPo article gives the title as 'combat operations' and now the WH gives it 'major combat operations'. Never fear, google has the play by play. How telling that the only folks supporting the WH version are the freepers. Hilarious. I don't know why the WH is so concerned over the word 'major' as it is absolutely evident that both 'major combat operations' and 'combat operations' have not ended. Bush loses either way.
I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that George Bush believes we're stupid enough to fall for this...or the fact that he might be right.
:: Morat 2:33 PM :: ::

August ARG numbers

Daily Kos points out the latest Daily Kos: August ARG numbers
The big winner is obviously Dean. Gephardt is even keel, and is currently in place for an important third-place finish in the state.

We talk about the expectations game, and the NH expectations are currently as follow: NH conclusively decides the Kerry/Dean battle. Whoever wins will represent the party's left wing, whoever finishes second is out. The third place finisher gets a huge momentum boost heading into the Feb. 3 primaries (SC, OK, DE, AZ, and NM).

Based on those CW expectations, these poll results are disastrous for both Kerry and Lieberman, not to mention Edwards.
Dean jumped 9 points in the last month, while Kerry fell four...leaving Dean with a 7 point lead. Lieberman started dropping about the time the polls started reflecting issues and stoped reflected name recognition.

Kos is right, this is horrid for Kerry. New Hampshire is a "must have" state for him, and I don't see him having much of a chance.

As for Lieberman, I'm not sure why he's still in this race. I realize New Hampshire isn't a state he was heavily banking on, but the man is polling at 4%. The only person NH voters dislike more than Lieberman is Sharpton. That's not exactly a good sign for a man who, 3 years ago, had the VP slot.

I'm trying to decide if I should start a betting pool on when Joe finally takes the hint and goes back to his Senatorial career.
:: Morat 11:05 AM :: ::

The value of cynicism.

Matthew Yglesias gets surprised. Not so much by Atrios' cynicism regarding the likely reaction by conservative bloggers to the car bombing of a UN building in Iraq.

Actually, I'm not sure what's funny about [UN headquarters getting blown up], but I'm sure Instahack and Bill Quick will find the humor there somewhere...
But to the fact that yes, indeed, Instapundit did in respond as Atrios predicted.
Hmm. The problem is that everyone in Iraq, both pro- and anti-Saddam, has a reason to dislike the U.N., which makes assigning responsibility tricky. [...] Maybe the bomb was planted by environmentalists, angry at the U.N.'s complicity in ecological devastation under Saddam: [...]
It's not like Atrios' prediction was a giant stretch by any means. Glenn's reactions to anything involving the UN or Iraq are about as predictable as you can get...
:: Morat 10:30 AM :: ::

More on Franken

Tom Spencer pointed out this post (written by an actual trademark attorney) Anonymous Blogger
To show "tarnishment," the attorneys throw in as much pejorative language as they can at the defendant. It's almost a requirement of the claim, but the point is to paint a picture of the "tarnisher," and establish how he/she/it is generally perceived in the relevant areas, rather than just that the plaintiff doesn't like the defendant, or that they're perceived in a particular way by a limited segment of the population. In building their case against Franken, Fox's attorneys repeatedly draw from the same well and fail miserably at showing how he actually tarnishes their mark.
...
Thus, Fox News is basing a substantive amount of its complaint on the remarks of an opinion writer who writes for a paper of very limited distribution and submits his articles for no pay to sites that are apparently desperate for contributions.

The rest of Fox's complaint fails to cite any of its allegations about Franken and, from all the passive-voice wishy-washiness, sounds petty and suspect.

I should add that the Complaint isn't the full argument. It's mainly to put the defendant on notice of what's coming down the road. Fox News probably has more to add, but it's very strange, if there is more to add, to use the same, unkown guy for most of the comments about the defendant. First, you would want to use different sources, and second, you'd want to use bigger names, like writers from the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.
Apparently, all that insulting language was an attempt to show that Franken was desperate for attention and popularity, lacked talent or appeal in his own right, and was thus using the Fox trademark in an attempt to leverage (and, by association tarnish) Fox's popularity.

And since this is Fox news we're talking about, of course their entire source for this claim would be an unpaid commentator in a minor newspaper.

Even better, if you look up the actual trademarks, you find that "Fair & Balanced" is a Fox trademark for broadcast media. Not books. Poor Fox. They can't even get a lawsuit right. All of this to satisfy O'Reilly's thirst for revenge.

:: Morat 10:11 AM :: ::

:: Monday, August 18, 2003 ::

The Texas GOP: Are they really that dumb?

Apparently, yes. Radio ad featuring accent upsetting Dems, Valleyites
Local Democratic leaders are upset about a new radio spot that is running on at least one area radio station attacking State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
Hinojosa is among the 11 Democrat senators holed up in and Albuquerque, N.M., hotel to break quorum in the State Senate and prevent passage of a congressional redistricting plan that would slice up Rio Grande Valley congressional representation.
The ad, paid for by the Texas Republican Party, questions Hinojosa’s voting record.
But it’s not necessarily the words in the ad that have Democrats so steamed. While the ad might mislead listeners about Hinojosa’s voting record, local leaders are questioning the method of delivery.
The radio spot features two unidentified actors — one female, the other an older male — speaking in cartoonish, thickly Mexican-accented English.
“That’s the mentality that the Republicans have of our part of the state,” said Juan Maldonado, chairman of the statewide Tejano Democrats organization. “They think we’re still sleeping under a cactus with a big sombrero and don’t know how to speak English.”
Republican state chair Susan Weddington refused to take calls from The Monitor. A reporter was referred to Trey Dippo of the party’s communication department.
“I haven’t heard it,” Dippo said. “I know this is a Republican party ad, but let me talk to our political director and I will get back to you by 12 noon, how’s that?”
He did not call back, and no other return call from the Republican Party was received.
Now this, my friends, is an absolutely wonderful idea. I mean, let's face it, if you want to court the Hispanic vote, you need to start by insulting them. In unrelated news, the Texas GOP proposed building a "Thousand Mile Fence of Friendship, complete with anti-immigrant machine guns" as a key plank in their quest for great Hispanic support. (Link via The Burnt Orange Report)

:: Morat 10:54 AM :: ::

:: Sunday, August 17, 2003 ::

More on Idiot Comments about heatwaves.

Over at different strings, thorswitch talks about acclimatization.
I am a notoriously bad driver (don't worry - I've been homebound for about 5 years now, so no one's at any risk from me). I mention this because when I lived in Seattle, my friends all knew just how bad of a driver I am, but they also knew I came from Kansas. They also knew that in Kansas we have snow. Whether the streets were bone dry or if it had been raining, my friends would not let me anywhere NEAR the wheel of the car. It was strictly off limits to me. Put even the lightest dusting of frost on the ground, however, and they were BEGGING me to drive, because 'You know how to drive in snow!'
Of course, what they failed to comprehend is that there's another difference between Kansas and Seattle - Seattle has hills. Hills, snow and bad driving tend not to mix very well.
Even after I pointed this out to them, however, they STILL wanted me to drive.
Personally, I just wanted to add that, indeed, hills and snow don't mix.

There's a family friend of ours who lives in the more mountainous regions of New Mexico. He hadn't live there more than a year or so, but is a good driver. We went to visit, and had a breakdown about 40 miles from his home. We arranged to have the car fixed and called him to see if he'd drive down to get us. Turns out he couldn't. Despite having a winter's worth of experience driving in the snowy mountains, he'd manage to (fully sober and wide awake) lose control at 20 miles an hour and smash up his Explorer on a tree at the base of a hill.

All weather has it's hidden dangers. People familiar with it prepare. They have snow chains, or tornado shelters, or the right supplies to hurricane-proof their home. And they have, as most Europeans don't, air conditioning to deal with 100+ days.


:: Morat 9:03 AM :: ::

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