Blog Archive

Monday, June 30, 2003
Some new stuff on Benedict@Large. You've probably already seen the "Recommend Benedict@Large to friends" button, and I will admit, this is simply shameless self promotion. Ignore the crass comercialism and recommend me. I need all the help I can get.

You've probably also noticed my new Google search. To be quite honest, the search of my site sucks, although I suspect that is more of a Blog*Spot problem than a Google one.

But while I twiddled my thumbs waiting for a response to my BLOGGER problems (still waiting), I found some other good stuff for my left column.

Directly below my Googel search, you'll find "Word of the Day" and an entry below for whatever word you'd like to see a definition of. This is provided by, and I am really impressed by it. You can opt for a definition or go to their thesaurus or even go to a full internet search of you word. Whichever you chose, the answers are comprehensive, and you have the ability once there to swap to another option. And if you like this, has a download where you can put it right on your Intenet Explorer toolbar. Yeah, maybe this sounds a bit boring, but these folks really do quite a good job, and it is worth your time to just check them out.

I've also added "Quote of the Day", which is actually four quotes per day. I spent some time browsing around this site, and had a fun time. But what I found really fun is that if you click on the author of a quote that you like, you get all of his (her) quotes that these folks have. In fact, that quote on the top of my page right now came from them in just this fashion. I very much like quotes, in fact. They reassure me that I am not the first one who ever felt this way.

I've actually got some more that I am thinking of adding, but there is one more that I have added already. When you get to that "site statistics" are at the bottom of my left column, you can now click on it and get there. Mostly for me, but if you want to see how I am doing, click on the "Site Meter" logo when you get there. They've got probably two dozen different ways to view my stats, and in fact, it was thru them that I found that Common Voice (see below) had linked to me.

To the person who linked to Benedict@Large for information on Democrats also receiving Westar donations: I admire your Yahoo search attempts. Clearly, if there is the same on the other side, it would serve to mute much of the current crtiticism of Mr. DeLay. But the search as you have entered it will not be effective, as evidenced by the fact that you found me in it.

What you need to do instead is go to PoliticalMoneyLine and enter Westar into their own access to the federal data bases concerning campaign financing. If Westar executives followed the law, every contribution made by them will appear in your search.

But you have hardly started to scratch the surface yet. You will then need to determine which are Democrats and which are Rebulblicans. You will then need to note the dates on contributions to Democrats, and then you will have to go into Thomas to find out just the start of correlations between contributions and favorable legislation regarding the contributor.

All of this means that you have your work cut out for you if you want to show DeLay as anything but a criminal. But you must understand. All of this reseach has already been done on DeLay, and he is guilty as sin. To his credit, he does not come cheap, but he sells federal law to whomever will pay his price.

Sunday, June 29, 2003
I've not yet written on the "gag order" being placed on NGOs (non-governmental organizations ... i.e., relief workers) in Iraq, but it seems that this order applies not only to NGOs, but to anyone and everyone working to rebuild Iraq. Via the Tennessean comes this story from federal appellate judge Gilbert S. Merritt of Nashville, who is in Iraq to help rebuild Iraq's judicial system:
In my opinion, this is a clear violation of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which says that our government may not impose any law, regulation or directive ''abridging the freedom of speech.'' The First Amendment covers any attempt by our government to control the speech of a civilian citizen of the United States, with only a few exceptions.
The excuse for this action by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)?
Speaking To The Media: To insure the effective co-ordination of the CPA's message, any plan for a member of the CPA to talk to the media should first be coordinated [read: censored] with the Directorate of Strategic Communication.
Just what the CPA's "message" is however is a mystery. But with the Bush boys at the helm, one can certainly be forgiven for thinking that it will shift and slither as their current political urgencies require.

From the NGO side comes a response by John Bunzl of the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO) website. (Which of course begs the question: What the hell is "Simultaneous Policy"?)

John's idea is that it is natural when the established government in any situation (i.e., post-war Iraq) objects to the influence of NGOs. That their objection comes from the fact that the NGOs exist outside of the political process, and therefore lack the legitimacy of that process. His solution is that the NGOs enter that process by offering their votes to any side that will allow them to conduct their business without restraint. On the surface, it seems like a nice idea. Except of course when you go beyond the detail.

In essence, he is saying a) the activity of this or that NGO is important enough to turn him into a single-issue voter, and b) he'll vote for whomever so long as they promise to leave him alone. This is the same frame of mind that generated the famous quote: "First they came for the xxx, but I was not an xxx, ..." The thing that he is missing is that this is the first administration that has sought this level of control (i.e., that this is an abnormal position). And what is abnormal about it is that it seeks total control --- absolute power. We can say, well it is only seeking absolute control in a theater of war, so what is wrong with that? But then we see the "with us or against us" attitude that has led to punishments of France, Germany, Mexico, etc. and then we must think Oh, absolute control in all matters of foreign policy. But then we look at Wolfie's effort to create a new TIPS-style data base, a concept that was resoundingly rejected by the American people but which is being implemented anyways, and we must think, Well, there's some paranoia on the domestic front also. And then we think of Patriot I and now Patriot II, and suddenly we must admit that they are seeking total control over domestic policy also and indeed over the hearts and minds of every single person. And then we realize how abnormal this is: total control with bullets to back up every aspect of this. This is called totalitarianism. And Mr. Bunzl is saying that this is fine, so long as the totalitarianism does not extend to his NGO. Well, isn't that nice of him!

I'm trying to hack along and figure out what I can and cannot do with the new BLOGGER editor. Clearly, longer posts are out for the time being. I have still not figured out whether the "Invalid HTML Tag" edits I've been recieving are simply due to long posts, or whether they are in fact outright mistakes in the editor. One reader suggests that they are outright mistakes, at least of a transient nature.

Anyways, I will be posting, but in a quite tentative fashion as I go about trying to figure out what these limitations are. Don't expect to see any 500-1,000 word posts from me until I do. These typically take me 4-8 hours (and more), and I'm simply not going to be doing that until I feel confident that I can actually post them. It's simply too much work to have to throw away.

The official results are now in: The Common Voice headline I got yesterday gathered a whole 10 hits on my site. As you can see below, no one left a comment here, and no one commented on the remarks I left at Common Voice. In fact, no one has left a comment a Common Voice since I left mine almost 24 hours ago. As I suggested, Common Voice simply does not get the traffic necessary to influence a MoveOn primary.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Welcome, visitors from The Common Voice.
For your convenience, I have re-posted the article you are looking for below. No need for you to go searching for it. If you wish to post comments to this article, simply click on the comments tag at the bottom of it.

the wyeth wire reports finding evidence of freepers attempting to sabotage the MoveOn primary this coming Tuesday. The attempt is at least in part the brainchild of Jimmy Moore on the right wing Common Voice website. His plan is to enlist fellow Reblublicans to join MoveOn and then cast a vote for Al Sharpton, hoping to force that organization to then have to endorse Mr. Sharpton's candidacy.

The amount of new people that would be needed to influence the MoveOn primary in this fashion would be staggering, and therefore quite easily detectable. Remember, MoveOn already has one poll from several weeks back that it can use to compare results. Any massive swing from this first poll would be certain enough evidence of tampering, and they would then probably have to roll back on any new memberships from that date.

But I have some other comments about this. The first I might call "delusions of grandeur". MoveOn is well over a million strong. Does this idiot actually think that he can get more than a half million freepers on board to carry this out? Do he think he even gets a half million visitors? Not even close. He has a single advertisement on his page and a "beg spot" for additional ones. With a half million visitors, he wouldn't have to beg for ads. Advertisers would be begging him. And he also wouldn't need his "please donate" spot on his page either. The fact of the matter is that guy would be lucky if he could even get 1% of the people he would need to pull this off, and half of them would probably forget to even vote when it was time. He's trying to appear "with it", but he's simply blowing wind.

My other comment is in regard to morality, because it was guys like this who puff-puffed about bring morality back to the White House. This is morality? This low-life has gotten on-line and announced to the world that he is organizing a vote tampering campaign. Now the MoveOn election is hardly a legal election, so it is not that he would be breaking any laws with this. But the fact remains that he is openly exposing himself as approving of vote tampering. It is quite clearly a morally acceptable practice to him. Moral, my ass. This guy is slime from the bottom side of a rock. He is simply slime with a computer.

Friday, June 27, 2003
BIG POST ERROR, POST ID 105675899942949411

NOTE: If anyone has any ideas on what is going on with this new BLOGGER editor, I would certainly appreciate some suggestions. I've listed a detailed description of all of the errors I've received in the COMMENTS section for this post, along with what I've tried to do to correct them. Needless to say, these errors are not mine, but rather reside in what certainly is a quite poorly tested BLOGGER editor.

~ The Management

Obviously, these folks are not paying attention to my requests for their assistance.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
The errors in the new Blog*Spot editor are far more severe than I first reported. Lacking an ability to use the "class" command, I relocated my coding to a local "style" command. No dice. It seems that even the style command is rejected. I re-programmed even that trying to get my post out to you. Then the Blog*Spot editor said that it didn't recognize the "target" command, which is what I use to make links open in a new window. Everything I am using is standard HTML, and has been for years. Nothing is new. I have articles that I want to post, but they are preventing me from doing so. I have written three complaints already to them, but until this editor is rolled back out, I am almost helpless to post. They are in effect asking me to totally compromise my site and how it works. In my mind, they are asking me to make my site worthless. And let me add this: What I have said so far is only those problems that directly compromise my own publishing. The additional errors that are abundent in this new version are of a fashion that are not easily correctable. Whomever Blog*Spot assigned to this task was simply not up to it, and is clearly being overpaid. Worse yet is that person's boss. If this is an example of the work conducted under his leadership, then he needs to be fired outright. There are simply no excuses for a boss in the computer programming industry who has no concepts of the basics. If it doesn't work, don't install it. And if he has no concept of what it takes to determine that, then he has no business being in the business to begin with.
Big Time Problems: Blog*Spot has just imposed a new posting editor on us, and
the thing has more holes in it than Albert Hall. This will cause me problems.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
   Professor Leo Strauss
From the Chicago Tribune: How an academic came to dominate foreign policy

Ron Grossman remembers Leo Strauss well from his own days at the University of Chicago, and finds little of Strauss to be applicable to contemporary policymaking. One thing that perhaps is, however, is Strauss' belief in the hidden message that can only be found by reading between the lines. Kind of like an ability to see things that aren't there ... like weapons of mass destruction.

  "Either You're With Us, Or You're Against Us"
  • Iraqi's in the city of Hillah are being asked to sign loyalty oaths to the Coalition Provisional Authority if they want to get a job. Only one problem. It seems a lot of them think that the oath would violate their religion. The workers have suggested a compomise wording, but the authority isn't having it, claiming that there is just a bunch of troublemakers behind the effort. I might suggest that someone from the authority read up on the Muslim religion a bit, because this is a reasonable interpretation of it. -- But I find it funny, ... We've hardly been there two months, and already the Iraqi's are starting to unionize!

  • While it's not exactly a loyalty oath, but the administration is getting pretty hostile towards the NGOs (humanitarian relief agancies) in Iraq for not saying nice enough things about the U.S., and is threatening to end contracts with groups that do not jump in line. And of course that bit about these groups being independent monitors in situations like these? Forget that. No more taking to the media. In fact, the media is also being told not to talk to the NGOs. The source of this bit of moronism? The American Enterprise Institute, who clearly believes that the absence of news means nothing is wrong. It remains to be seen whether or not the NGOs will go along.
How long do you think it will be before the rest of us are asked to sign loyalty oaths?
  The Burgeoning Police State:  

   What Bill of Rights?
From the Jimmy Breslin (Newsday): A Fate Sealed Under Secrecy

I am thinking that it could be time for me to begin thinking about leaving this news business. It is not mine anymore. Let me tell you why.
It struck me as odd last week when John Ashcroft annonced that some terrorist had pled guilty to planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, but I really didn't know why. Jimmy Breslin's figured it out for me: Since when does our government lock an American citizen up in communicado for three months with no public charges and then try and sentence him to an undisclosed sentence in a hidden court? And why doesn't the media even offer a whisper of protest?

And now we have a Peoria man, locked up on criminal charges for a year and a half suddenly losing his day in court when the Justice Department decides to declare him an enemy combatant. It took them a year and a half to figure that out? Something stinks in Peroria and it smells like Ashcroft.

   Little Ashcrofts Everywhere
From The Progressive: Enforced Conformity

Who needs Ashcroft when you've got neighbors and co-workers ready to beat you down for failing to bow at the alter of war? Matthew Rothschild takes a look at the new wave of McCarthyism sweeping the country.

   Legislation For Sale
It never ceases to amaze me that people are so cynical they want
to tie money to issues, money to bills, money to amendments.

~Tom DeLay, in reference to the Westar bribe

Remember that little bru-ha-ha last month with the Texas legislature and redistricting? Seems that Tom DeLay is more than "boss" of the effort. He's supplying the capital by putting a $1.5 million squeeze on companies all over the country, getting them to donate to (among other things) a Texas redistricting PAC that they don't even know. DeLay claims innocence, but it sure looks like he's selling federal legislation for quite specific donation amounts.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
The most watched presidential candidacy announcement in history
Howard Dean: The Great American Restoration

Dean: 5,000 supporters listen to 'The Great American Restoration'
5,000 people gathered in downtown Burlington
to hear Howard Dean announce his candidacy.

Dean's speech, of course, is above. If you'd like to comment on it, there is a blog commenting feature linked to that page. There are also additional photos.
     Breaking News  
TUESDAY, 12:30 PM EDT - This could be the end of Tony Blair. Already under heavy attack in Parliment over the missing WMDs, BBC is now reporting the death of six British soldiers in two attacks against them. A total of 25 of attacks in the last 24 hours occurred against Allied forces, with three American soldiers reported as seriously injured. Oil shipments, which were scheduled to resume on Friday, have been slowed due to an inability to fully protect a 600 mile pipeline from sabotage.

As of the presstime of this report, the British deaths are still not being widely reported in the mainstream American media, although a poll conducted by ABCNews suggests that American public unease is growing about U.S. casualties in Iraq.

  All Quiet on the Western Front:  

Bear with me on this: There is a point to it all. More than eight separate stories, there is a larger story being told by all of them together; a story of something gone terribly wrong:

   An endeavor which was not understood
From the Observer (UK): US General Condemns Iraq Failures

One of the most experienced and respected figures in a generation of American warfare and peacekeeping yesterday accused the US administration of 'failing to prepare for the consequences of victory' in Iraq.

At the end of a week that saw a war of attrition develop against the US military, General William Nash told The Observer that the US had 'lost its window of opportunity' after felling Saddam Hussein's regime and was embarking on a long-term expenditure of people and dollars for which it had not planned.

   Utter Contempt
From AmericaHeldHostile: Shame on You Mr. Secretary

Even for a man to whom the words glib, self absorbed, arrogant and duplicitous appear to be perceived as complimentary; Friday, June 20's performance at a nationally broadcast Pentagon news conference marked a new low for Donald Rumsfeld. By comparing the deaths of American service personnel with the murder rate of Washington, D.C. the Secretary has shown himself to have a degree of callousness that defies description.

   "Tell him to come spend a night ..."
From Robert Novak: Hard times ahead for U.S. Army

Two trenchant quotations were repeated through Army corridors of the Pentagon last week--one by an enlisted infantryman enduring hardships of occupation duty in Iraq and the other by a four-star general leaving the service after 38 years. Each was clearly unhappy with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Taken together, their comments signaled hard times ahead for the U.S. Army.

   "Support the troops - it's not our fault."
From the Augusta Chronicle: Soldier speaks against war

"A lot of soldiers have returned from this war with the idea that this war was unnecessary."

~ Staff Sgt. Bradley E. Owens

From the Evening Standard (London): 'I just pulled the trigger'

At first glance they appear to be the archetypal Band Of Brothers of Hollywood myth, brave and honest men united in common purpose.

But a closer look at these American GIs, sweltering in the heat of an unwelcoming Iraq, reveals the glazed eyes and limp expressions of those who have witnessed a war they do not understand and have begun to resent. By their own admission these American soldiers have killed civilians without hesitation, shot wounded fighters and left others to die in agony.

   Night Patrol
From Newhouse News Service:

A Night With the U.S. Army on Patrol in Baghdad's Slums
Before the night is over these 12 American troopers -- on occupation duty that stretches months behind them and months yet ahead -- will seize illegal automatic weapons, arrange a ride home for two drunken Iraqis out past curfew, and see a man die.

   A Tale of Two Soldiers
From Charley Reese: A Sad Story

If the Iraqi witness is telling the truth, this was not a drive-by shooting, as the American military described it. Nor was it an organized attack by a supporter of Saddam Hussein. It appears to be just an Iraqi man who got ticked off when he saw an Iraqi woman being abused by a foreign soldier.

   The Dead Zone
From William Rivers Pitt: Slaughtergate

"Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, "You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein." I said, "But-I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?" And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had-Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection."

~ General Wesley Clark on 'Meet the Press'

The End
  The Campaign Trail  

   The Invertebrate Party
Cheri Delbrocco is MAD AS HELL about squishy soft 'Democrats'
Have you heard about the newest political party? You probably saw them, and mistook them for someone else. They are called The Invertebrates. Their symbol is the jellyfish. Dozens of Democrats, especially the leadership, have defected to the Invertebrate Party. Their “I sorta kinda disagree with W” squishiness has made possible the triumph of the fanatical. Their opposition to the agressive rightwing is so spineless, so timid, and so lacking in confidence, it can only be described as cowardly.
And that's just to start with!

   From John Edwards: On Rewarding Work And Creating Opportunity

While I'm not a major fan of Edwards (vice president?), I thought this speech by him was particularly good. Essentially, he portrays himself here as pro-capitalism by attacking Bush as anti-capitalism:

... the true cost of the administration’s approach isn’t what they’ve done with our money, it’s what they want to do to our way of life. Their economic vision has one goal: to get rid of taxes on unearned income and shift the tax burden onto people who work. This crowd wants a world where the only people who have to pay taxes are the ones who do the work.

Make no mistake: this is the most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy and shrink the winner's circle.

Since I've long felt of Bush that he is anti-capitalism (though my list of reasons are more specific than Edwards gets here), I liked the approach. Perhap the entire party would do we by picking up on this theme.

[ALSO: Slate offers a worthwhile review of this speech in "The Proletarian Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".]

   Dean Announces
From the Christian Science Monitor: Outsider Dean fires up left
After months on stump, the outspoken Democrat announces presidential bid.

OK, it's not like no one knew that Dean was going to run for the presidency, but now it's official. The Monitor takes a look at how his dark horse campaign has come this far, and the Baltimore Sun examines Dean's "internet connection" in greater detail in "Dean gets big boost from Net".

   Selling the Presidency:

   From Geov Parrish: Building a bigger trough

Bush 2004 promises to be the single greatest exercise
in public corruption in the history of politics

George Bush is planning on raising $200 million for his 2004 campaign, and he's planning on spending all of it before the Republican Convention on a primary in which he is unopposed. Why? So he can qualify for federal matching funds. He wants to fleece $70 million of our tax money (matching funds) for the two-month general campaign to boot.

Here we go. It's payback time. ... What it adds up to is corruption on a scale that dwarfs that of any third rate third world kleptocrat in terms of the looting of the public treasury. ...

But look at the sums being raised, and ask the obvious question: who else, in this economy, has any money? The net result of Bush's public looting, abetted by a Republican Congress, is a society where the extremely wealthy think of government as an enormous feeding trough, and the rest of us just try not to think of it at all.

   A New York Times editorial: The $2,000 Campaign Aperitif

There's nothing like having a few friends over for a cocktail or two," President Bush told more than 1,200 Republicans who paid $2,000 apiece last week to begin what will be a record-breaking binge of Republican money-raising. The president's gratitude went over well with the Washington crowd, who ponied up $3.5 million. Even more, it underlined the extraordinary gilded age of fat-cat politicking that has befallen the nation with the intersection of Bush tax cuts favoring the affluent — $1.7 trillion worth and counting — and the start of the president's phantom primary campaign season.

   From Bob Herbert: The Money Magnet

It's a great time to be George W. Bush.

The president will waltz into Manhattan today for another $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser, the latest stop on his fabulously successful dining-for-dollars tour. These are fun events at which the fat cats throw millions of dollars at the president to reinforce their already impenetrable ring of influence around the national government.

   From Reuters: Bush, Cheney Add $5.65 Million to Campaign Fund in a single day.

It was a good day Monday for the Bush campaign. A quick dinner in New York during which George pledged to continue the agenda of "compassionate conservatism" netted him $4 million, while Dick (working a little harder) made stops in Richmond, Virginia and Hopkinton, Massachusetts to pick up an additional $1.65 million.

Warning to George: I wouldn't be planning on using that "compassionate conservatism" crap in public again if I were you.

   Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?
From The Onion: GOP Reports Record Second Quarter Profits

Right: Republican Party board members wave their quarterly dividend checks.

WASHINGTON, DC—At a stockholders meeting Monday, the Republican Party announced record profits for the second quarter of 2003, exceeding analysts' expectations by more than 20 cents per share.

The gain marks the GOP's third consecutive profitable quarter, and puts the party on track for its best 12-month cycle since 1991, the year of the first Gulf War. ...more

   Hillary in 2004?
From WorkingForChange: Hating Hill

Why not, suggests Will Durst. In fact, why not every four years? What's his reasoning?

Because the Republicans and their designated AM blow holes hate the former First Lady so much, they lose all vestige of reason. Which, to be honest, is fun to watch. Their blood pressure rises dangerously, eyes all bugging out like nuclear-radiated mutated toads.
Well, if you put it that way, Will, I kind of like the idea myself.
   NBC and Russert in bed with the White House
During NBC's "Meet the Press" interview with Howard Dean this Sunday, Tim Russert opens with a brief discussion of the arrest of Dean's son (naturally). Immediately following that, Russert turns to politics:
Russert: This is what you said last month about the Bush tax cut and I’ll show you and our viewers. “It has become clear what this president is attempting to do and why we must repeal the entire package of tax cuts.” The Department of Treasury, we consulted and asked them: What effect would that have across America? And this is what they said. A married couple with two children making $40,000 a year, under the Bush plan, would pay $45 in taxes. Repealing them, under the Dean plan, if you will, would pay $1,978, a tax increase of over 4,000 percent. A married couple over 65 making $40,000 and claiming their Social Security, under Bush would pay $675 in taxes. You’re suggesting close to $1,400, a 107 percent tax increase. Can you honestly go across the country and say, “I’m going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent,” and be elected?

Dean: Well, first of all, were those figures from the Treasury Department, did you say, or CBO?

Russert: Treasury Department.

Dean: I don’t believe them. This administration has not been candid about the impacts of this tax cut. A few months ago they had the deficit coming in at $290 billion. It’s at $400 billion. The administration simply has not been forthcoming and factual about the impact of their tax cuts.

Nothing bad so far. Russert quotes some Treasury Department figures, and Dean says he doesn't trust the figures because of where they came from. In fact, reports the Washington Post ("Bush Cites the Cost Of Tax-Cut Repeal"), the figures come from a seven-page analysis by the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis. Still nothing wrong until we go a little further in the Post article:
The research was prepared at the request of "Meet the Press," NBC and Bush officials said.
Well, isn't that interesting? Russert doesn't even have to write his first question for Dean. He gets it straight from the White House!

Hey, Tim! Why don't you just join Bush's campaign staff and have done with it?

Monday, June 23, 2003
It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 percent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty of about where they are.
Hans Blix, today at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting
Benedict Enterprises: For immediate release:
    Simply Science: Grass: An Optical Illusion    
"Grass not greener" declares Spinoza

In a breakthrough heralded as the greatest advance in optical science since the discovery of the Doppler effect, Benedict announced yesterday during a press conference that he had at last established conclusive proof that the grass is not greener on the other side of the road.

"It's an optical illusion. The diffraction patterns of light simply change over distance," Benedict has concluded, "and all of these changes favor green."

His discovery flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which has long claimed that the grass is indeed greener on the other side of the street. "I can't stress enough the significance of this," Benedict said during the question and answer session following the announcement. "Here we all are trying to keep up with the Jones' next door, and what we're trying to keep up with doesn't even exist!"

Benedict, who has been mentioned as a possible Nobel finalist for his previous work on aging and evolution, dismissed speculations on this. "None of my work has anything to do with honors or awards," he answered. "I'm simply here trying to help humanity." It is anticipated however that this breakthrough will solidify Benedict's potential as a finalist, and could actually be the straw that places him over the top.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
  The assault on labor  
There has always been a tension between labor and capital, and in this country, the Democrats have traditionally favored labor while the Repiblicans have traditionally favored capital. But both understood that there had to be a balance struck between the two, and merely disagreed as to where that balance was.

With the takeover of the Republican Party by extremists however, that concept of balance has been removed from the table. It is now "open season" on worker rights and protections.

   More hours; less pay:
From Joe Robinson: Washington to Nation: Drop Dead on the Job

House Republicans have vowed to continue fighting for a bill, brazenly titled the "Family-Time Flexibility Act," that has about as much to do with families as a Vegas strip joint, yanking more parents for longer hours away from the home, and the Department of Labor has issued a proposal for new wage and hour regulations that would radically alter the definition of the term "salaried employee," a move likely to dramatically increase the ranks of workers who are not paid for overtime. All of this in the face of mounting evidence that excessive work hours can significantly sjorten a human's life.

Don't like it? Drop dead.

   Minimum Wage? Minimum Respect.
From Ellen Goodman: Scorn for the Working Poor

It used to be that people had little respect for people on welfare. Why wouldn't they just get a job like everyone else?

Well, with the successes of welfare-to-work programs, many of them now do have jobs. Only one trouble, as Ellen Goodman points out: They still get no respect. "Lucky duckies", all of them.

   The assault on unions:
From the Rick Fantasia and Kim Voss:
Bush Administration's Low-intensity War Against Labour
There was unanimous and universal praise for those (unionised) ordinary people of the United States who had died doing their jobs on 11 September 2001. And then the Bush administration returned to its policy of stripping workers of their rights and de-unionising whole zones of employment. ... In Bush's current budget, funds have been dramatically increased for auditing and investigating unions while funds for enforcing health and safety laws, child-labour regulations, and violations of the minimum wage have been cut.

   A candidate speaks:
From Howard Dean: On the road to fiscal crisis
For years, Republicans have sought to reduce or eliminate funding for popular social initiatives, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the American people repeatedly have rejected their efforts. Now, led by President Bush, the radical wing of the Republican Party has found a new way to reach its goal of fundamentally altering the role of the federal government ...

The economic plans put forth by President Bush and the Republican Party are an attack on the values that Americans overwhelmingly support, such as the importance of strong public education, affordable health care, a healthy environment and a financially sound Social Security. ...

Deliberately creating such an economic climate is not only irresponsible, it is immoral.

Benedict@Large endorses Howard Dean
in the MoveOn primary

As you are likely aware, this Tuesday will be conducting a first-of-its-kind "internet primary" for Democratic presidential contenders. As stake, should any candidate poll greater than 50%, is an endorsement by MoveOn, and with it, their proven ability to raise substantial sums of money for that candidate. Benedict@Large endorses Howard Dean in the MoveOn primary.

You will have certainly noticed that I have paired this endoursement with both a Dean statement and and articles regarding the Bush administration's policies toward labor. Thei was not an accident. Howard Dean understands these very issues, and understands that the value of labor and the value of capital must be brought together in order to find any resonable outcome. But there are many other reasons for this endorsement:

    Howard Dean is electable, and with the current administration in power, this is an over-riding necessity. Several candidates (Kucinich, Mosley-Brown, and Sharpton) simply are not, and therefore must be set aside, regardless of their contributions to the debate.

  • Suggestions that Dean has no foreigh policy experience are irrelevent. American's clearly prefer electing governors (Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II) to the Presidency over electing Congressmen. Dean was also quick to recognize the administration's rush to war as being based solely on perverted evidence, and singularly opposed the war from the outset.

  • The Democratic Leadership Council has come out against Dean. As anyone who follows this blog knows, I am rabidly against the DLC and what it stands for. (More on this below.) Futhermore, George Will trivialized Dean this morning using essential the same words used by the DLC. I can think of no better endorsement for Dean and against the DLC than for George Will to parrot the scorn of the DLC towards Dean, and no greater sign of Dean's electability. The opposition is running scared.

  • Of "electable" candidates beyond Dean, Edwards and Graham both have substatial ties to the DLC, and Lieberman is their darling. Gephardt, though a DLC founding member, has come under criticism from them of late for offering a plan for universal healthcare, something that the DLC bitterly opposes and refers to as "the pander virus". While this attack raised him in my opinion, he has far too long a trail of supporting DLC positions.

Several other personal points bear mention, if only as after-thoughts:
  1. I find it very curious that the DLC has targeted Dean as a liberal. He simply is not. What the DLC is in effect saying is that they are targeting Dean, not because he is one, but rather because of his early popularity among them. They are saying that we are allowed to vote Democratic, but we are not allowed to the table where the agenda is set. Excuse me, DLC, but I hardly need your permission to vote for a Democrat, and if that is all you are offering me, you are offering me nothing.

  2. While I believe it to be critical to defeat Bush, if Lieberman is the opposition candidate, I will simply stay home on election day, because this will mean that progessives have already lost and are no longer a part of the Democratic Party. Should that occur, I would advise all progressives to strongly consider the Greens as a place to rebuild.
But: Whatever you think of my arguments or whomever you support, it is still important for you to vote. If we do not have your vote, we simply cannot hear your voice.
  DLC Watch:  
The DLC sings its siren songs to the spell-bound DNC.

   Like Bush, the DLC dismisses potential allies
From the Los Angeles Times: Centrists Losing Ground in Democratic Tug of War
The once-influential movement is taking heat
for its criticism of liberal presidential candidates.
Now the DLC finds itself under fire from a range of Democrats for a blistering attack it issued last month on two of the most liberal 2004 candidates — Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Dean has shot back, accusing the DLC of blurring the differences between Democrats and Republicans. ...

"It is divisive and does not help us one iota in raising a dime or doing anything that is moderately productive," said an advisor to one of the contenders the DLC has not criticized.

   Like Bush, the DLC works to misstate facts
From Common Dreams: The DNC Stoops To Push-Polling and Vote-Selling
So Why Is McAuliffe Still On the Job?

Tne DLC-enraptured DNC seeks to pervert party sentiments by slanting polls and selling the opportunity to participate in them. You can play with us, they say, but could you slip us a few dollars first?

   The First Casualty
From the New Republic: The Selling of the Iraq War

If you want a history of the intelligence run-up to the war, this is perhaps the best you will find. No, this is not just another list of who claimed what and when. In fact, it pretty much leaves that off. These are the dirty deatails of what went on behind the scenes for the year and a half before then. Definitely worthwhile reading.

  You call this an empire?  
We have entered the "New American Century", we are told; a century of America and Americans at the top of the food chain; a century of American empire.
em•pire (em•pir) n.
1. a group of countries ruled by a single supreme authority. 2. supreme political power. 3. a large commercial organization controlled by one person of one group empire building, the process of deliberately aquiring extra territory, authority, etc.
Source: Oxford American Dictionary
So why don't I suddenly feel part of an "empire"?

   Really, it was supposed to be easy
From the Chicago Tribune: Faltering plans raise questions about empire

The tone is changing. Ahghanistan is falling apart as we have begun to negotiate(?) with Taliban warlords. Iraq stubbornly refuses to behave (as if it ever had). "Old Europe" continues to challenge our hubris as well as our sanity. But it was all supposed to be so easy.

This is empire?

   Buddy, can you lend me a dime?
From Jeffrey Sommers (ZNet): Dollar Crisis and American Empire

It doesn't take a degree in calculus to know that when you buy stuff with other folks' money, eventually they will ask to be paid back. What if you don't have a dime when they do?

   Welcome to reality
From the Black CoMMentator: The Pirates' Blunt, Useless Instrument
                  The Iraq occupation cannot possibly succeed

The Bush men looked out upon the expanses of Iraq and saw the perfect staging ground for a glorious, global offensive that would lead, inexorably, to a New American Century. We had, after all, rebuilt both Germany and Japan after we had conquored them. It would surely be the same this time.

The same this time except for what we forgot: History.

the wyeth wire reports finding evidence of freepers attempting to sabotage the MoveOn primary this coming Tuesday. The attempt is at least in part the brainchild of Jimmy Moore on the right wing Common Voice website. His plan is to enlist fellow Reblublicans to join MoveOn and then cast a vote for Al Sharpton, hoping to force that organization to then have to endorse Mr. Sharpton's candidacy.

The amount of new people that would be needed to influence the MoveOn primary in this fashion would be staggering, and therefore quite easily detectable. Remember, MoveOn already has one poll from several weeks back that it can use to compare results. Any massive swing from this first poll would be certain enough evidence of tampering, and they would then probably have to roll back on any new memberships from that date.

But I have some other comments about this. The first I might call "delusions of grandeur". MoveOn is well over a million strong. Does this idiot actually think that he can get more than a half million freepers on board to carry this out? Do he think he even gets a half million visitors? Not even close. He has a single advertisement on his page and a "beg spot" for additional ones. With a half million visitors, he wouldn't have to beg for ads. Advertisers would be begging him. And he also wouldn't need his "please donate" spot on his page either. The fact of the matter is that guy would be lucky if he could even get 1% of the people he would need to pull this off, and half of them would probably forget to even vote when it was time. He's trying to appear "with it", but he's simply blowing wind.

My other comment is in regard to morality, because it was guys like this who puff-puffed about bring morality back to the White House. This is morality? This low-life has gotten on-line and announced to the world that he is organizing a vote tampering campaign. Now the MoveOn election is hardly a legal election, so it is not that he would be breaking any laws with this. But the fact remains that he is openly exposing himself as approving of vote tampering. It is quite clearly a morally acceptable practice to him. Moral, my ass. This guy is slime from the bottom side of a rock. He is simply slime with a computer.

Saturday, June 21, 2003
   Talking the talk;
         Not walking the walk
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Christian conservatives disturbingly slow to assist those they don't like

Last week, dozens of evangelical Christian leaders traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby in favor President Bush's plan to allocate $15 billion to fight AIDS. That's nice, but where were they for the first 25 years of the AIDS epidemic?

At last we learn where George Bush was during his year-long AWOL from the
Texas Air National Guard. Seems that he was in Vietnam! Don't believe me?
Quote/Unquote: Alan Fleischer, father of White House press secretary Ari Fleischer
I guess if Ari had to rebel, being a Republican is
better than being on drugs, but not by much.

   Quid Pro Quo for Dummies
From the DNC: Westar: Anatomy of a Quid Pro Quo

A brief rundown of Tom DeLay's attempt to fleece Westar Energy for campaign contributions for himself and his cronies. The provision that Westar requested was inserted into legislation, but was later withdrawn when the Westar e-mails became public.

NOTE: Links to PDFs of the actual Westar documents are available on this page. They are amazing in their detail, and suggestions from Delay's office that he was not involved are simply not credible. So where is Ashcroft?

The Neo-Con Biographies
How very nice. A newspaper that is actually
compiling a series of stories on notable NeoCons:

Ascendancy In The George W. Bush Administration
Elliott AbramsPaul Wolfowitz
Paul BremerRichard Perle
Michael Ledeen & Robert Kagan
John Bolton & Stephen Bryen
Lewis Libby & Norman Podhoretz
Douglas Feith & William Kristol
Friday, June 20, 2003
Just a sidebar from me: I don't much mention the Iraq situation anymore, but while I've been away, I've had lots of chance to think about it. I assume that our military is at least trying to get the number of our own correct as well as the number of newly-dead Iraqis. In a sense, it does not matter whether they are or are not trying to do so. All that matters is that it is on almost a daily basis we hear of newly-dead people, and most often that includes one or more of ours. And it matters more that we are getting absolutely nothing as to the injured on either side.

War is not a place where people just die. Would that it be such. War is also a place where people get hurt, and people can get hurt in all sorts of degrees. I am reminded here of that Iraqi boy here who lost both of his hands and both of his feet and all of his family. From what I have read, he is being adopted by an American family. A wonderful outcome for sure, but he is still without his hands and feet. And I cannot help but feel outrage about this.

The fact of the matter is that, while we are being told about our almost every day death of an American soldier, nowhere are we being told about all of the injured among our troops. As if this doesn't matter. Except that it does.

How many of our own were injured? How badly? Can they be soldiers again? Can they ever even work again? No answers. As if this does not make a difference. The dead are dead, but no answers about the futures of those of ours who were injured.

This is a sickening outrage. Yes, we do need to know of every soldier's death, but we also need to know of the disabling injuries that others of them suffer. We need to know so that we can judge whether or not we want our troops there. And we are not being told.

I am not offering any radical ideas here. I am simply asking for a true accounting so that the American people can make their decision as to whether or not we should be in Iraq. This is not a decsion for "I know all" politicians to make. And it is not a decision for a dumbed-down American public to make. It is a decision that only a fully-informed public can make; the exact type of public that Michael Poewer just determined that we do not deserve.

   USA Today: MoveOn.con rigging the vote:
Net presidential primary facing allegations of vote-rigging

You'll need to read this article carefully. Apparently, some of the Democratic contenders were a bit surprised that their supporters who registered with (because those candidates asked them to) also recieved e-mails from other candidates asking for their support. And so now come conplaints from those contenders that MoveOn is biased. As evidence of this, one contender has pointed out that a MoveOn employee got a couple of weeks of paid leave to work on behalf of one of the candidates.

I've been a "member" (whatever that means) of MoveOn for about six moths now, and so I am familiar with what they have done in this regard. Several weeks back, they sent e-mails to all of their members asking them to select (in order) their top three Democratic contenders, stateing fully in that e-mail that the top three contenders would get top billing in future MoveOn activities. This was not a fact hidden from any of the Democratic hopefulls, as evidenced by the fact that many asked their own supporters to register with MoveOn. That was the way it was supposed to work, and that was the way it did. The top poling Dem (Dean) would have his e-mail sent first, followed by the second (Kerry) and third (Kucinich) at two day intervals. I received all of them. They were all well written and they all asked for financial help. Just what you would expect.

But because of these complaints (which caused no candidate to withdraw from the MoveOn primary), the Gannett-owned USA Today now features a title of vote rigging, thereby entering itself in a pro-active campaign of dismissing MoveOn.

MoveOn will not be so easily dismssed however. They have a quite established track record of being able to generate a million and more in contributions overnight. They are indeed a prize to be won, and since their appeal has largely been to web-connected progressives, is it any wonder that their audience would vote progressive and would vote for web-connected candidates?

And the fact of the matter is that even if MoveOn has a bias, it doesn't make any difference. It is hardly more than an e-mail community, albite a large on. But you can contribute or not, and no one will dun you if you do not. You can opt out of their e-mails on every one they send. No one is twisting anyone's arm just because they receive e-mails from MoveOn. Yet this is exactly what the radical right cannot stand: The very fact that millions of Americans, when well-organized, can vote with their wallets as a group against tyranny.

   Jesus with a riding crop
       ...and a rainbow flag

Goodness, NO! What is the world to do now that those "against us" Canadians have decided to legalize homosexual unions? Mark Morford takes his typical disrespectful look at all of the turmoil this is causing among our "hordes of quivering GOP lawmakers and vast throngs of proudly homophobic right-wing Christian Americans".

By the way, you can also get Mark in your in-box three times a week. Always screwed up; sometimes even funny.

Charley Reese tears into the "Road Map To Nowhere":
The president's "road map to peace," which is blowing up in his face even as I write this, was riddled with defects to begin with. It does not recognize the basic facts of the conflict. It ignores the rule of law. It turns normal human behavior upside down. ...

Sharon will render President Bush a pathetic, foolish and ridiculous figure for the entire world to see, a man allegedly the leader of the free world who in fact acts like a puppet on a string held by Sharon. Bush's only chance to salvage his reputation will be to stand up to Sharon and the Israeli lobby.

I personally don't think he has the guts to do it, but we shall see. Ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is the only way the president can hope to win his war on terrorism. We shall see just how much he values American national security.

... "turns normal human behavior upside down." This seems to be true of so much of this debate. Think of it. Israel (Sharon) won't talk peace until the violence ends. Pardon me, but the absense of violence is peace. It may not be the peace you'd like, but it is still peace. But Sharon will not speak of peace until he already has it. There is a name for that. It is called "unconditional surrender".

And then there is the matter of who is giving whom money? Last time I checked, it was the U.S. giving Israel billions every year. So why can't Bush attach some strings? It's not like Sharon has anywhere else to go. Same for the Christian Right. What are they going to do? Vote for Howard Dean? And the corporatists? Vote for Al Franken?

The fact of the matter is that Bush's power base is stuck with him no matter what he does with Israel. Which means that he is free to act totally in the interest of American security. Free to act as the most powerful man in the world. Unless of course, he is not up to the job.

Where is the 9/11 report, Mr. President?

Sally Regenhard, left, and Monica Gabrielle, whose son and husband, respectively, died in the World Trade Center attacks, attend a public hearing on the attacks before a joint House-Senate Intelligence Committees hearing in September 2002.
Sally Regenhard, left, and Monica Gabrielle, whose son and husband, respectively, died in the World Trade Center attacks, attend a public hearing on the attacks before a joint House-Senate Intelligence Committees hearing in September 2002.

 Let he who is without sin cast the first stone:  All those damned kids stealing music over the internet? Well, they should just have their computer's fried! So thought Orrin Hatch before it was discovered that his own website used prirated software. To his credit, Hatch took steps to bring his site into compliance with licensing terms for the software once the error was noted, but that still leaves the problem of Continental Airlines, another un-licensed user of the same software.
Note: Sorry about my recent absence. An injury prevented me from being able to work for any significant period of time at my computer. While I am not yet 100%, at least I am back to functioning.
  Untethered to Reality:  
Just how is there supposed to be any hope, when a quick look around shows us a society content with illusions.

   From the New York Times: Saddam's Bombs? We'll Find Them

Kenneth Pollack is a former NSC member during the Clinton administration and not a regular contributor to the New York Times, but his three-page editorial there would certainly make you believe their editors think he has something important to say. So let's take a look at some of his points:

  • The Bush administration didn't "make up" any intelligence.
  • If they slanted intelligence, it was not to justify the merits of the war, but meerly its timing.
  • Saddam didn't deploy any WMDs because he didn't really believe Bush would actually attack.
  • Saddam didn't actually keep any WMDs in stock, but merely had the "WMD trailers" available to produce them on demand. ("In truth, this was always the most likely scenario.")
  • There are probably 22 more trailers still out there. Where are they? Syria? Iran? Jordan? ... Osama bin Laden and his confederates?)
Does the Times really think this guy's head is screwed on straight?

   From the Washington Post: Untethered to Reality

Michael Kinsley, on the other hand, wants to know why we are even bothering to look for the WMDs anymore. If it's to stop others from getting them, we already know that others are closer to having them than Saddam was, and if it's to settle a point about whether bad intelligence was pushed, we already know that it was.

But that doesn't matter, says Kinsley, citing polls that show most Americans, in a moment of Peter Pan optimims, are "sure" already that WMDs have been found or will be, or simply don't care:

Are there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Sure there are -
- in every sense that matters, reality not being one of them.
As disturbing as Kinsey's point is, it's hard to argue with. My problem with this editorial however is that he seems, if not resigned to this fact, unsure of what to do about it. So am I, to be sure, but at least I am sure that something has to be done about it.

   From the Daily Mirror: You're not paranoid, George

Speaking of poles, a recent BBC pole on "greatest Americans" placed Homer Simpson ahead of George Bush. It's not paranoia, George. People really do hate you.

   From Greg Palast: The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney

So why do grown men believe in WMD trailers and Peter Pan poles? Perhaps for the same reason that they believed Cynthia McKinney “practically accused the President of murder!” Because someone told them she said it, even though she never did.

In yet another great addition to Greg Palast's investigative journalism, he goes off looking for the source of the infamous statement that cost McKinney her re-election bid, but fails to find any trace of it. What he does find however is a bunch of financial connections between Canada, Africa, gold, and a former U.S. President. That and a Congresswoman who simply asked the wrong questions about them.

   From Arianna Huffington: WMDs and the Psychology of Fanaticism
         Why let the facts get in the way of a perfectly good war?

At last, someone with "wheels" has had the stones to say what I've been saying about these people for two years: That the White House is driven by folks with pathological manias, and trying to hide that under the cover of the Bible doesn't make it not true. Follow along as Arianna Huffington takes a tour through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders with the guidance of a few psychiatrists.

   From Harper's Magazine: Jesus Plus Nothing      MUST READING ! 
     Undercover among America's secret theocrats

So what does this fanaticism look like from the inside? Jeffrey Sharlet got an up close and personal look when he spent several weeks with "the Family" at Ivanwald.

You may have recently heard about and article from Harper's Magazine that created quite a ruckus. This is it. An 11-page look inside an "invisible" association of powerful "born again" movers and shakers in the world of politics. But this look may scare you: This is a cult, and it's members come to Ivanwald "to learn how to rule the world."

   From the Washington Post: Delusional on the Deficit

Ernest F. Hollings, a Democratic senator from South Carolina, attacks the Washington Post for continually burying articles on the burgeoning national debt, citing a number of recent "big deficit" stories that were relegated to Pages A4 and A8.

The goal of the departed Office of Management and Budget director was to keep any news that could hurt President Bush's reelection prospects off the front page, and The Post willingly aided and abetted him. In fact, when Daniels left two weeks ago to run for governor of Indiana, he told The Post that the government is "fiscally in fine shape." Good grief! During his 29-month tenure, he turned a so-called $5.6 trillion, 10-year budget surplus into a $4 trillion deficit -- a mere $10 trillion downswing in just two years. If this is good fiscal policy, thank heavens Daniels is gone.
Acknowledging the Senator's concern, the Post dutifully printed this article ... on Page A27!
Monday, June 16, 2003
   Another day; another war
From Reuters: Lugar: U.S. Troops May Have to Go After Hamas

Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seems to think we may have to send our military into Israel. As peacekeepers, or maybe "to root out the terrorism that is at the heart of the problem."

This is insanity. Just how is our army supposed to do what the quite well-equiped and trained Israeli army has failed for years to do? Can anyone actually believe that Hamas is going to like us any better than the Israelis? That even more firepower will do anything but kill more people? Only in Bush country could such fictions be believed.

   Underestimating the enemy
From the Washington Post: Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror

Last August, Rand Beers began his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. Seven months later, the 35 year civil servant simply quit and joined Kerry campaign for President.

Mr. Beers has a lot to say about counterterrorism operations in the United States, and not much of it is good.

   Did we really have to call it "Floodgate"?
From William Safire: Regulate the F.C.C.

Safire reviews Who's Who in the effort to roll back the FCC decision.

   Your DLC in action
From the Washington Post: Democrats Court Business Owners

It's business as usual in the fundraising arm of the Democratic Party. Ask the businessman what legislation he wants and tally up the contributions. So much for the people's party.

   $1 for you; $22 for me
From the St. Petersburg Times: DeLay's cynical game

Tom DeLay is willing to compromise on restoring the $3.5-billion tax credit for the working poor that the Senate passed and Bush is willing to sign. He'll go along with it if he gets an additional $77 billion tax cut for the rich.

What a guy!

   LA Times Interviews:
The Los Angeles Times provides a list of eight questions to four of the Democratic Preseidential hopefuls:

John Kerry

Richard Gephardt

Howard Dean

John Edwards

By far the best (and shortest) single answer came from Howard Dean to the question: What will be America's greatest foreign policy challenge in the next 20 years? His answer? Undoing the damage to international relations caused by the Bush administration's recklessness.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
   Beam me down, Scotty
From the Topeka Capital-Journal: Unanswered questions -- Find the truth
   A full investigation of whether we went to war on false pretenses should begin now

This is quite encouraging. I've been trying to track where in the country newspapers are calling for this investigation, and this is the first I've seem coming out of the heartland:

The credibility of the United States and Great Britain -- or at least Blair --is being destroyed as these discrepancies keep surfacing. We need to do whatever is necessary to get to the truth as quickly as possible.

We just went to war based on weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida. If we were mistaken, a lot of people need to be held accountable -- from the president on down.

   Beam me up, Scotty
From the New York Times: Democrats Split on Challenging Iraq Arms Hunt

This is quite disturbing: There are actually Democrats out there (including Presidential hopefuls John Kerry, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman) who are hesitant on the "missing WMDs" issue. Their thinking is supposedly, "What if the WMDs do show up? Won't we look silly then?"

Of course, this is nonsense. The question to be posed is not whether there is anything there or not. The question regards quite specific affirmations made by the president and members of his staff that have already shown themselves to be totally false. Affirmations that were used before the world and the American people to sell the necessity of a war.

But these particular holdouts really shouldn't be a surprise. They are after all the darlings of the Democratic Leadership Council, and probably checked in with those folks first.

News Flash:  Nothing Happened Yesterday!

Oh, there was the Bill Keller editorial, "The Boys Who Cried Wolfowitz". That wouldn't have been much, except for the fact that it suggests that the editorial board of the New York Times needs another "regime change" just two weeks after their last one. I mean, they couldn't have even read this thing!

My reply to the New York Times:

Did you folks even read this editorial ("The Boys Who Cried Wolfowitz") before you published it? It says that it is a good thing that we went into this war because of distorted information because the war was the right thing to do (the end justifies the means), and then says it is a bad thing to go to war on distorted information because then no one will believe us again when we need them to (the end does not justify the means).

Please, either it is proper to distort intelligence or it is not proper to distort intelligence. It cannot be both. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Bill Keller is claiming otherwise.

And of course, the newly freed Iraqis are still exercising their freedom at our soldiers there (and our soldiers are still not amused), but you already knew that.

 In older news:

Help save Condi Rice!
See if you can find
the missing WMDs!

Click Me!
Today's Threat Level to Condi: Yellow

   From the William Rivers Pitt: The Dog Ate My WMDs
After several years teaching high school, I've heard all the excuses. I didn't get my homework done because my computer crashed, because my project partner didn't do their part, because I feel sick, because I left it on the bus, because I had a dance recital, because I was abducted by aliens and viciously probed. Houdini doesn't have as many tricks. No one on earth is more inventive than a high school sophomore backed into a corner and faced with a zero on an assignment.
No one, that is, except George W. Bush.

   The "arc of instability"
From Jim Lobe: Pentagon Dreams of Playing 'GloboCop'

An interesting look at Rummy's plans for reorganizing the military for the needs of the 21st Century.

T his article uses the term "arc of instability", and I went chasing a PDF I once had (disk crash), but could not find it. What I did find (".mil" websites) was this constant phrase of (in its various forms) of "reorganizing the military for the needs of the 21st Century". This is puff pastry. Didn't the military in 1980 need to transform to the needs of the 1990's? In the 1860's, did they not have to transform to the 1870's. But somehow with Rummy at the controls, radical transformation is required because the century changed from 19 to 20? As if we had fallen a century (a millenium?) behind. This is nothing more than an advertsing gimmick. Yes, yes, it is a new century and we must adopt radical changes. When in reality, all that changed was that the clock struck midnight on day.

Rummy wants to use this puff as his justification for radically transforming the military into his own tool that supports his own agenda for the future. There is nothing "new century" about this at all. If you agree with Rummy's agenda, you'll likely agree with his changes. But if you don't, then you must understand that Rummy is changing your military into a force that you do not want to see used.

   Posturing for another war
From the CATO Institute: Korea: Ominous removal of America's 'tripwire'

The totally conservative CATO Institute is suggesting that the repositioning of our troops in South Korea away from the DMZ is a ratcheting up rather than a ratcheting down of hosility. And they have quite a reason for thinking that this is so

I'm waiting to regain a link on this, but the North Korean military has built itself since the end of the Korean War based on the assumption that the U.S. was its sole probable attacker. They have gun implacements inside of mountains that are not trivial targets and can quite easily shell Seoul. That our troops are redeploying to south of Seoul is simply taking them out of the line of fire if we wanted to attack North Korea.

   "Un"-depleted Uranium?
From Heather Wokusch: America's shameful legacy of radioactive weaponry

Tests are showing that Afghanies in areas of high bombardment there are displaying quite high levels of radiation in their bodies. Only one problem. It's not from depleated uranium. So what kind is it? (Lot's of links in this article if you are interested in this subject.)

Let me take it one step further than this article, however. The administration wants to develop tactical (battlefield) nuclear weapons. Perhaps we have them already?

Of course, nothing happened yesterday. Move along folks. There's nothing to see here.
Friday, June 13, 2003
   Waxman to Condi: Fess Up, Bitch
From Rep. Henry Waxman: Forged Evidence

Henry Waxman has followed up his letter to President Bush (on why known bad intelligence was used in the State of the Union Address) with a similar letter to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Waxman's problem is with the bogus letter suggesting that Saddam was trying to purchase uranium from Niger.

This is getting to be quite a show. First of all, Waxman is saying that he is not asking for a justification for the war iteslf, but simply for an explanation as to how this letter got embedded the a Presidential speech. Second, every time the administration tries to offer something, he pulls up something else to refute it.

In this latest letter to Condi, he specifically attacks statements she made on two Sunday morning news shows. Now I happened to watch both of those interviews, and they were quite interesting. Mostly, Condi was her calm self, but on both shows, when she was specifically questioned on this, there was a quite noticable and continuous quiver in her voice as she replied. Now I am not saying that she knows more than she is telling, but there is something about this isssue that has her quite afraid.

Of course, there is a deeper question to all of this, and that is: Who forged the letter to begin with? Let's speculate from what we know:

There's just no way that the CIA did this. The errors are too major for them to have made. But the forger clearly had to know something about both the political climate in Niger and the fact that they produced uranium. These are not things that your average person would be aware of. This would probably make it someone who was on the outside of the intelligence community, but just barely. "On the outside looking in" would be a fair characterization. But that person would also have to have access to a list of government officials from Niger, only that list would have to be at least ten years old! Now who would fit this description? Only two that I know of: Dick Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense 10 years ago, and his assistant at that time, Paul Wolfowitz. Given that Cheney's office asked for this letter to be looked into, that probably leaves him out. Given that Wolfowitz was perhaps the most vocal supporter of going all the way to Baghdad during Gulf War I and was advocating Gulf War II a mere two days after the 9/11 attack, that definitely puts him in.

This issue definitely bears watching. Someone's head may have to roll for this. Given that both Condi and Powell were on the Sunday talk show circuit, I suspect that they are at the top of the list, and this may indeed be the reason for Condi's nervousness. But given the smell on this, I don't think either of them are the right person. But the pressure might just get one of them talking.

NOTE: Seven publications on this subject by Henry Waxman are available in PDF format at Government Committee on Reform - Minority Office.

   An Issue With "Legs"
At last, we've got an issue that the press is not ignoring. While it would be nice to add the missing biochems to this, Waxman's approach of eliminating war justification is a brilliant stroke that allows the press easy access to the story. A sampling of articles, all from today's newspapers:

   A New York Times Editorial: The Vanishing Uranium

President Bush cannot be pleased to know that his State of the Union address last January included an ominous report about Iraq that turns out to have been based on forged documents. The incident is an embarrassment for Mr. Bush and for the nation, and he should now be leaning on his aides to explain how they let fabricated information about Iraq's nuclear weapons program slip into his speech. The answer might help explain whether Washington deliberately distorted intelligence to rally the nation for the war against Iraq.
   From Nicholas D. Kristof: White House in Denial
Ms. Rice acknowledged that the president's information turned out to be "not credible," but insisted that the White House hadn't realized this until after Mr. Bush had cited it in his State of the Union address.

And now an administration official tells The Washington Post that Mr. Cheney's office first learned of its role in the episode by reading that column of mine. Hmm. I have an offer for Mr. Cheney: I'll tell you everything I know about your activities, if you'll tell me all you know.

   From the Contra Costa Times: CIA officer: Bush ignored warnings
A senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 -- 10 months before Bush's nationally televised speech -- that an agency source who had traveled to Niger could not confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country.

Despite the CIA's misgivings, Bush said in his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa."

   From the Toronto Globe & Mail: CIA says it made Iraq doubts clear to White House
The CIA shared with other U.S. agencies its doubts about prewar reports - later proven false - that Iraq sought uranium from Niger, a senior intelligence official says.

The CIA passed the information along anyway, and the reports made it into U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address.
The Washington Post, quoting unidentified U.S. officials, reported Thursday that the CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies.

The U.S. intelligence official, however, said the CIA's doubts were made known to other federal agencies through various internal communications, starting more than a year before the war began.