Sunday, August 31, 2003
I just want to pass along a few links. The first is from Karen Kwiatkowski, a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel who writes "For Omar". Omar, it seems, was an Iraqi child who simply did not know how to stay out of the way of US munitions.

From Karen's article comes a link to Civilian War Deaths in Iraq. This is not an official count; indeed, the DoD won't touch anything like this with a ten foot pole. But as most of you are aware, Iraq Body Count would only accept for their baseline civilian deaths reported by more than a single mainstream news source. Clearly, the mainstream news was not present across all of Iraq during the war, and one must therefore expect an undercount from them. presents a letter from Dr. Mohammed Al-Obaidi of the Iraqi Freedom Party, who attempted a more formal count using on-site visits throughout non-Kurdish Iraq. Al-Obaidi reports a more realistic count of 37,137 civilians killed in the war.

Saturday, August 30, 2003
   Let's Talk About Israel
But not just yet ...

Something is going on here. Today's New York Times includes a very extensive article talking about Israeli/Zionist involvement in US foreign policy. In "How to Talk About Israel" (almost 5,000 words), Ian Buruma addresses the various political groups that support Israel's hardline approach to Palestine, reviews Israel's (quite interesting) political history as it evolves into American neoconservatism, and concludes with a call for rationalism:

It may well be that Israel's interests coincide with those of the United States for the moment, but this should not be a given, never to be examined or reassessed. ...

Americans are right to support Israel's right to exist in peace, but criticism of Israeli policies should not be stifled by Christian visions of Armageddon, right-wing zealotry or memories of the culture wars in Brooklyn. This would not be good for America, and it is certainly not good for the Jews.

Most telling sentences indeed.

This article is not going to inspire much applause from the "Zionist conspiracy" crowd; it is far too neutral, but its appearance in what is considered to be the American "newspaper of record" almost certainly is a signal (probably from the Bush administration) that some serious dialog regarding US/Israeli relations in regard to the Palestinian problem is about to commence, and that there may be elements of this dialog that are distinctly unsympathetic to hardline Jewish (and fundamentalist Christian) viewpoints.

The administration has every reason to need this at this time, and not simply because of the failings that are becoming obvious in their well-hyped "roadmap". The situation in Iraq, in spite of the many successes in some parts of that country, continues to be plagued by major setbacks in other parts, and it is these setbacks that continually are commanding the headlines. The administration (no dummies in policy execution at least) can almost certainly not fail to miss that there is an almost unseverable tie between the roadmap failure and the ongoing violence in Iraq: At a minimum, the silence of Iraqi citizens toward the violence there exists as those same people continue to watch their Palestinian "brothers and sisters" suffer from the overwhelming force of Israeli military occupation. It is not illogical for them, as they witness their own overwhelming military occupation by the US, to worry that they too are facing such an occupation. While it is arguable as to whether or not they actually do, this hardly matters. It is sufficient that only some of them think that this is the case.

The administration needs a success, and it is hardly coming from Iraq in the near term. Better to look elsewhere, and there is no better place to look than Palestine. A real success here would certainly grab headlines everywhere, and would serve to considerably lessen the impact of the negative media coming out of Iraq.

Can this be done? Certainly not without at least some realignment of the relationship between Israel and the US. Is this actually possible? Isn't this one of those "third rails" of American politics? Perhaps, but the real third rail for this administration is its own hide, and given the quite real chance that it may face defeat in 2004, you can expect them to not only ask Israel to take a step down on the ladder, but to also show them where that lower rung is. This article was not a fluke in our "newspaper of record".

If you would like to take part in the New York Times discussion forum on this article, you can find it here. If you are a hardline Zionist however, you will not find much sympathy in this forum.
Monday, August 25, 2003
   Whither Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Scott Ritter writes today (2003 August 25) in the New York Times: A Weapons Cache We'll Never See

Scott is concerned with the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate which was responsible before the war for the monitoring of all aspects of the UN Security Council resolutions dealing with weapons of mass destruction. If something ... anything ... happened that might be related to this, a record of it was to be kept here. Indeed, most if not all of Iraq's 12,500 page weapons declaration came from the archives held here.

Now it must be noted that the existance of the Monitoring Directorate was no secret; the first team of weapons inspectors had access to this site, and even the US used information culled from the inspections of this site in their case for Iraq's WMD. Perhaps for this reason, US troops secured this site for several weeks after the fall of Baghdad.

It is noteworthy then that at no time during our troops' presence there were any of the employees of this facility interviewed regarding the contents and procedures of the ministry, even though most of them continued to report to work. It is equally noteworthy that after several weeks, US troop abandoned the ministry, leaving it vulnerable to the massive looting of it that would follow. Now, as with the previous lootings we had witnessed, most of the equipment of the ministry wa stolen or destroyed. But more importantly, virtually all of the massive archives of the ministry were also destroyed.

It is hard to imagine that the looting of these archives was simply an oversite or an act of incompetence. Clearly the CIA and other US intel groups were well aware of the value of these archives to any subsequent search for weapons of mass destruction, and certainly they must have requested that these materials be secured. This is obvious if for no other reason than that this ministry was secured on the go-in while many others were ignored. How then to explain its subsequent abondonment and looting? Someone had to give this order.

Now, as some have suggested, the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate might simply have been a part of a larger spying and disinformation effort by Saddam regarding WMDs, and that the information contained there might had been little more than a large file of lies. But the point is that we have now lost any real ability to determine this in any sort of comprehensive manner.

It is not my point here to speculate as to who ordered this ministry to be abandoned and whether or not the order was deliberate. I would simply be guessing, and probably guessing badly. But it is important to note that former United Nations weapons inspector David Kay (now working for the US) will supposedly produce a massive case supporting the deception claim early in September. It is difficult however to see how the world community can give his claims much credence when perhaps the single most important data archive on this has been lost.

 Quick! Someone get the Defibrilator!   Seriously! Karl Rove must be having a heart attack just about now. Al Franken just did an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, and Lower just let him run. First, Al charges into Bill O'Reilly and the "Fair and Balanced" lawsuit and takes no prisoners. But Al hasn't even gotten started yet.

Next, Lauer says, "So, in the book, you're calling the President a liar?" Well, that's all it took. Franken reads the riot act. "Bush lies about going to war. Bush lies about the economy. Bush lies about this and that and the other thing, and Karl Rove actually runs the whole White House." On and on, and Matt is just sitting there with his jaw dropped (but smiling all the time). I had to pinch myself and shake my head to make sure I wasn't dreaming. This is NBC. This is the Today Show. This is the prime interview slot for the whole three hours, and Al Franken is sitiing there calmly tearing Bush a new butthole ... and no one is stopping him! I never thought I'd see the day.

Anyways, if you want, read a brief excerpt from the intro to "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" from Today's web site.

Saturday, August 23, 2003
  The Revenge of "Old Europe"  
   A Benedict@Large Editorial

The administration is boxed in. It needs help in Iraq, but other than token offerings by small countries, no one will help without a UN mandate. Fine. This sounds reasonable, and so it's back to the UN.

Not so fast. Those countries (i.e., "Old Europe") that "fooled" the administration into going back to the UN had something else in mind as they did: The mandate must not say that their own troops report to the US command. And why should they? That would mean that these countries would merely be supplying bodies with no chance to successfully influence the situation in Iraq.

This is a very big deal. If foreign troops do not report to the US command, they would have to report to a UN command, and of course, to be able to actually get anything done, the American command would in effect have to subordinate itself to that same UN command. Of course, the US is already on record a hundred times over saying the the UN is worse than useless and should never have any authority over US actions or troops. Indeed, the pre-emptive attack on Iraq was its most major statement of this belief.

To gain this mandate then, "Old Europe" is essntially insisting that the US first repudiate its stated view of the UN, and in doing so, effectively also repudiate its widely published philosophy of foreign policy. Aside from the "tail between its legs" symbolism of such an action, this will not be done for three reasons, each of which coincides with one of the main interest groups that drove this war:

  • The Neocon dream of Pax Americana would essentially be over, and the substantial Neocon contingient within the senior levels of the administration would have to be silenced. Their role as the driving force behind US foreign policy would also pretty much be ended.

  • Control of Iraqi oil and especially oil contracts would have to be relinquished. Given the scope and number of non-US oil development contracts in existence before the war, and in particular the number held by "Old Europe" oil development companies, this would be a crushing blow to US oil interests.

  • The Lukid interests, while greatly desiring the elimination of Saddam, have far more pressing problems with Syria (support for Hezbollah) and Iran (a potential regional nuclear competitor). UN control of Iraq would effectively end any of their dreams for a US-led military trifecta in the region.
The administration has thus found itself with only two viable choices, both of which (barring a sudden massive turnaround in the US economy) could very well lead to its defeat in 2004.
  1. Accept the "Old Europe" provisions for the UN mandate: This not only would make the administration appear weak in its traditional "strong suit" of foreign policy, but would also tarnish its image as being able to deliver with impunity whatever its contributors desire.

  2. Reject the "Old Europe" provisions for the UN mandate: This however would leave the administration open to an American public that is increasing viewing the invasion of Iraq as a mistake, a situation that can only get worse as more deaths of soldiers are reported and additional terrorist attacks occur in Iraq.
The administration, driven as it is by ego and ideology, will of course select the latter option, even though the former would likely be better for them in the longer term leading up to the 2004 election. Indeed, in an unrelated but totally consistent move, the administration's recent recess appointment of islamophobe Daniel Pipes to the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace demonstrates with ultimate clarity that this is an administration that is simply unwilling to learn from its mistakes.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Ouch! Don't cross James Wilson! Remember him? The guy we sent to Niger to check out the uranium claim? The guy whose wife got outted as a CIA operative?

Just when I thought this whole deal was losing steam, I find that it was just taking an August recess along with the President and Congress. Natasha of Pacific Views (formerly the watch) reports of attending a panel discussion hosted by Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) with Wilson as a panalist along with Admiral Bill Center, and Professor Brewster Denny. This is a must read for lots of reasons, but if you only go there for one reason, check out what Wilson has to say about Karl Rove. It's quite clear that Wilson believes it was Rove who outted his wife.

A little bit about myself: I'm female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war.
That's all you need to know. It's all that matters these days anyway.

Meet Riverbend, the newest blogger from Iraq.

I'm not posting much of late (other irons in the fire), but this is just too pathetic to pass up. Seems that one of the Texas "Democrats in exile" is Hispanic, and the far right wing Texas Republican majority is mocking him with ads that use cartoonish "Mexican" pronounciations. Sorry, but this is race baiting of the kind in which the far right has become quite proficient. This whole thing is disgusting, and just when you thought you'd seen the limit of how disgusting the far righters were, they paddle further off into the depths of hell.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
  The Ten Commandments & The Will to Power:  
It seems that Judge Roy Moore is back to grabbing a lot of headlines recently. Moore first made news as a county judge when he placed a wooden replica of the Ten Commandments over his judicial bench. Forced to remove it by a federal judgement, Moore parlayed his new-found fame and local notoriety into his election as Chief Justice of Alabama.

Of course, if a simply wooden plaque could reap such rewards for Joe, how much better might a 5,280 pound slab of granite be to advance his political ambitions, and so he secretly placed one inscribed with the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the State Supreme Court. "Blatant" state endorsement of a specific religion, says the federal ruling (a second one), and the rock must go or be accompanied by other symbols reflecting the origins of law. (The Supreme Court in fact has a statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, but it is there along side of a statue of Socrates and other symbols that bespeak of the origins of law.) But Black is having none of this.

And so now we have candlelight vigils and little old ladies in wheelchairs being crated off to jail ("I was handcuffed to God."), all for the advancement of Moore's career. No, no, no, the candleholders will say. Roy is standing on principle!

Hardly. The principle is that Citizen Roy Moore can place his 5,280 pound slab as he pleases, but Judge Roy Moore cannot. Roy Moore knows this. His candleholders don't. That he will not inform his candleholders of this is all the proof that any thinking person needs to know that Roy Moore will allow 73 year old ladies in wheelchairs to be handcuffed and sent to jail, so long as it serves his political ambitions.

The Ten Commandments indeed! Just one more Republican bigot trying to make his way to power on the coattails of God.

  The (Real) Ten Commandments  
Anyways, while all of this is going on, John Brand, who served as a Methodist minister for 19 years, is publishing a series on the Ten Commandments at YellowTimes which is worth a read if you are sometimes question the many contradictions in the Bible:
  1. The Ten Commandments #1-3
  2. The Ten Commandments #4
  3. The Ten Commandments #5-6
  4. The Ten Commandments #7
OK, he's only gotten up to the Seventh Commandment so far, which is a good reason to bookmark YellowTimes if you haven't yet. They only publish maybe a dozen or so articles a week, but all of it is top quality, and con't think it's focus is religion. Almost all original content, and if you read one of their articles elsewhere first, you didn't get it as early as the readers of YellowTimes did.
From Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis:
August 18, 2003

Dear friends,

I am writing to you from a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I and 10 of my colleagues in the Texas Senate have been forced to reside for the past 20 days. If we return to our homes, families, friends, and constituents, the Governor of Texas will have us arrested.

I know, it sounds more like a banana republic than the dignified democracy on which we have long prided ourselves. We are effectively exiled from the state due to our unalterable opposition to a Republican effort -- pushed by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, and led by Texas Governor Rick Perry -- that would rewrite the map of Texas Congressional districts in order to elect at least 5 more Republicans to Congress.

You may not have heard much about the current breakdown in Texas politics. The Republican power play in California has obscured the Republican power play in Texas that has forced my colleagues and me to leave the state.

Recognizing that public pressure is the only thing that can break the current stalemate, our friends at the Democratic National Committee and PAC have offered to support our efforts by sharing this email with you.

The Republican redistricting effort shatters the tradition of performing redistricting only once a decade immediately after the Census -- making redistricting a perpetual partisan process. It elevates partisan politics above minority voting rights, in contravention of the federal Voting Rights Act. It intends to decimate the Democratic Party in Texas, and lock in a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Republican efforts to force a vote on this issue by changing the rules of legislative procedure threaten to undermine the rule of law in Texas.

We do not take lightly our decision to leave the state. It was the only means left to us under the rules of procedure in Texas to block this injustice. We are fighting for our principles and beliefs, and we can win this fight with your support.


Rodney Ellis
Texas State Senator (Houston)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
   There we go!
All of a sudden, the UN who would not allow us to pass a resolution that left us in total control of Iraq is attacked in Iraq. Of course, there is no connection in all of this. It's simply those damned terrorists, none of which has yet claimed responsibility.

Why am I getting so tired of this? Why is this administration so dedicated to making me think conspiracy?

Why? Because this may not be another conspiracy that they have, but there is certainy a conspiracy somewhere in what they do. So what if it is not this?

So now I am confronted with a UN that couldn't decide to be a US lapdog like Tony Blair. I am confronted with what was apparently a direct attack on a sterling UN envoy. I am confronted by the fact that the attacker knew exactly where this envoy's office was, info that could only have come from the inside. I am confronted with this as I am asked to believe that an administration that just killed 30,000 Iraqis and 300 of our own sons and daughters would never kill a mere 20 UN people to get its way.


Saturday, August 09, 2003
  Hanging Chads? My Ass!  

 The real reason why Gore lost Florida: If you've not already read it, Greg Palast's new release of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" is a real eye opener. The first chapter of it was serialized on Working For Change, and if you think "hanging chads" were the big probelm in Florida, you haven't read this. Maybe some hanging chads and voter confusion misdirected Florida's electoral count, but this never would have even been an issue without the systematic disenfranchisement of perhaps one hundred thousand black voters who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. In other words, chads wouldn't have meant anything at all had every qualified voter in Florida been allowed at the polls.

And the "perps" on this? Jeb Bush and the new Florida U.S. representative, Katherine Harris. These two did everything in their power to reject the votes of blacks, and combined, they stole the opportunity for these 100,000 Afro-Americans (who were legally qualified) to vote. They have claimed that this was merely procedural errors, but Palast has the goods showing their efforts were an intense and well-directed effort by these criminals to use computers to disenfranchise the Florida black vote. Precisely directed errrors to steal the Florida ballot box inspite of the laws intended to prevent this.

If you still think that George Bush is President because of elderly dimentia or imperfect chads, this will change your mind. Neither of either would matter in the least if the degenerate vote stealers from the Rebublican Party had not first worked the unique "magic" that they ahd so well planned in advance.

Without further delay, the ten segments of "The Unreported Story of How They Fixed the Vote in Florida":

  1. Jim Crow in Cyberspace
  2. Silence of the Media Lambs
  3. A Black-List Burning for Bush
  4. Disappeared Voters
  5. From Planning to Execution to Inauguration
  6. McKinney Nails the Confession
  7. Voting Machine Apartheid
  8. Katherine Harris -- 'Twisted'
  9. The Katherine Harris Touch: Vote Rustling by Computer
  10. Jim Crow in Cyberspace: Stealing 2004
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
   Short Takes

   Arithmetic Deficit Disorder: As widely reported, this year's federal deficit is $455 billion. At least that is what it says on page 1 of the President's budget report. It says another thing on page 57. The real deficit is $698 billion.

   From Paul Krugman: Everything Is Political: Indeed it is, and it is across the board. From critical intellignce and financial information all the way down to the administartion's view of science, as this article from the Washington Monthly points out.

   In 1950, 40% of American jobs were in manufacturing. Today, only 10% are. Wal-Mart is the largest employer in 13 states. Per Fritz Hollings at his retirement announcement, "we don't make anything any more."

   From John Kerry: The only jobs George Bush has created are the nine candidacies for the Democratic presidential nomination.

   Just get over it: For the past two and a half years, a fairly consistent 38 percent of respondents in The New York Times/CBS News Poll have said that Mr. Bush was not legitimately elected president.

   Is yawning contagious? Apparently so, according to researchers. But the less you care about the people around you, the less likely you are to catch it. Obviously then, it is a liberal disease.

BINGO!   Make that five Letters to the Editor published, or at least a fifth letter on the way. The Denver Post has indictated that they plan to publish my letter to them (see below article), probably this coming Sunday. Why might you want to look for it there when you've already read it? Because it will have my real name on it (and no, it's not Benedict).

But to continue my previous discussion on this, another thing I do in my letter writing is to go back and review why a particular letter might have been accepted when others were not. In the case of this letter, I'm essentially trashing one of their own Op-Ed writers, and that is not a very good start. [Violation of my "smart ass" rule.] So it must have been something else, and the only other "else" is the fact I allowed that the study might perhaps be flawed. I think that allowed the "wiggle room" the editors needed to endorse the study without actually coming out and saying so.

That of course begs a second question: Did my own agreement with the study's conclusions get lost in my compromise? Not at all. Any acute reader will know immediately to dismiss my qualification of the study, because if I were actually ambivalent to the study's conclusions, I would have no motivation for writing the letter in the first place.

Do I actually support the study? Well, that is really a two-part question. I find that the study's conclusions agree with my experience, especially as it relates to some of the more extreme forms of conservatism found today. But of course, it is entirely possible for a study of this nature to produce correct conclusions even though its methods for producing such are invalid. I don't have a PhD in this area however, and so I am certainly unqualified to make that determination. That, I must leave to the scientists; the intended audience of this study, and where it should have stayed to begin with.

Monday, August 04, 2003
Just when I was needing a good laugh, along comes this:
It is after all:    Simply Science
        From UC/Berkeley:
"Researchers help define what makes a political conservative"

Just like I've been saying all along: A hallmark of today's conservatism is fear. Of course, that's just the UC/Berkely press release on it. If you actually want to read the study, you can get it here [7.3 MB, PDF, 25 minute download on dial-up], and also download the response to academic crticism [1.7 MB, PDF] of the study. But be forewarned, these boys are serious PhDs, and these are not exactly bedtime stories. They are certainly is not targeted at those without an ability to read serious research.

But let's get to some fun stuff on this (Google search the web and Google news), because conservatives who are not still changing their soiled panties over this are howling like banshees! How dare anyone cast us in this light (or as Ann Coulter would say, "Treason!") But here is the thing: Outside of a scant few, it is obvious that the objectors have not even read the study, but rather have simply confined themselves to reading what other have said when most of those others have not read the study either. As usual, the wing-nuts oject to the conclusion without listening to the analysis.

And it is easy to tell, by the way. Once you read a few, you'll notice that they all echo the same words of horror, and nothing beyond personal opinion appears that cannot be gotten by simply reading the UC/Berkely press release and perhaps a single other conservative howl. No discussion of (and ojection to) the methods of data collection and data refinement, the formulas used for analysis and their underlying theories, no nothing that has anything to do with a studied counter-argument. All fluff: no substance. Criticise the answer because you don't like it, but don't ever discuss the method and its potential flaws. In other words, shoot your mouth off when you have no idea of what you are taking about.

Consider for example: "Why liberals have fallen from grace". Nothing. Zero. Read the press release and half of your first Google link, and you know more than this jerk knew when he wrote his op-ed. But he certainly knew well enough to convey all liberals as having some mysterious but identical idea. And to that, I say "Bullshit!" To the Denver Post?

Regarding Ken Hamblin's "Why liberals have fallen from grace", it is quite clear that Mr. Hamblin's sources are simply other articles referring to this study, and that he has not actually read the study himself. In fact, a scan of the internet shows that almost no one commenting negatively in regard to this research has actually read it, that few have even bothered to download it (over 7 Megs), and that they are simply cribbing off of each other as they express their outrage ... to what others have said its conclusions are, when those others have also not read it.

The study itself (which I took the time to read) may well have flaws in its methodology, and these might well produce invalid results. But to simply say that one does not enjoy the conclusion and to criticize in an op-ed what one has not even attempted to read is an insult to any thinking person.

Or even this one, where the author has at least taken the time to make it appear that he has read it and somehow now also considers himself the expert: The “Conservatives Are Crazy” Study: Paid For by Taxpayers. My answer to the National Review?
I congratulate you. Most of the hostile reaction to the study "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition" has been written by people who clearly have not taken the time to read it. While you have not either, at least you have taken the time to attempt to hide that fact. In fact, with a bit of additional research, I found that there was hardly a sentence in your article that was not taken almost verbatim from other sources published before you. Some of your references were simply a bit harder to find.

But let us take a look at a few of your points:

  • Federal funding: You refer to the research into this as being performed by "congressional investigators", but in fact, this is somewhat misleading in that the investigators were all Republicans, most probably with an ax to grind. Indeed, the claim of these investigators demonstrates such bias by leaving an implication that every penny of $1.2 million in grants to these researchers was spent on this study. In fact, all of these grants were much wider in scope than this study, and it is almost certain that much of this funding was directed into areas outside of the scope of this study. But this is not a conclusion at which a casual reader of the Republican "investigation" would likely arrive, and this ambiguity is almost certainly intentional.

    It is also disingenuous to misportray the eventual destination of much of this money. It quite often subsidizes the tuition and expenses of graduate level students who would likely not otherwise be able to finance their participation in graduate programs for which they are clearly qualified. Again, most readers would never be aware of this fact, and so the $1.2 million figure is intentionally distorted for it's "shock and awe" value, when in reality, this distortion is simply "smoke and mirrors".

  • Hitler and Reagan: Did Reagan and Limbaugh ever refer to "a return to an idealized past and favored or condoned inequality in some form"? There is nothing controversial in this assertion. One might argue that neither actually favor inequality, but the sentence in question does not assert this; merely that in order to idealize the past, one must ignore the inequalities of it, and in doing so, one in effect condones them. It might further be argued that one cannot condone that of which one is not aware, but this is a mere technicality, as it would be belittling to the intelligence of both Reagan and Limbaugh to suggest that they were/are not aware of any past inequalities.

    Did Hitler and Mussolini ever argue for a return to an idealized past which also contained inequalities. Most certainly. So there is nothing controversial in this assertion either. And one must take care to note that the authors of this study never claimed that the idealized pasts of these four were identical or even remotely similar; simply that each had a vision of an idealized past. Certainly, it would be foolish to suggest that Reagan's ideal had any substantial similarities with that envisioned by Hitler, but the authors simply never make this claim.

    And so where is the controversy in this statement? In a phrase, it is simply not "politically correct" to ever mention Ronald Reagan and Adolph Hitler in the same sentence, regardless of whether or not the assertion is true. Indeed, we can well expect that future federal grant money for these four researchers will be sharply curtailed or eliminated, simply because they failed to observe this "necessary" political correctness.

  • The characteristics of conservatives: You, as most non-academic reviewers, have focused your objections almost totally on the list of psychological characteristics attributed to conservatives, declaring them to be outrageous in some fashion, and yet have totally overlooked the far more important claim that this study makes: that it is indeed valid to even attempt to assemble such a list, an assertation that is in no way universally shared throughout the academic community. Indeed, academic criticism of this study focuses on this larger claim in its objection to the study, and with good reason. If it is not valid to even attempt such a list, then any list generated by such an effort, regardless of the desirability of its components, is in effect useless. The refreshing thing about this alternate debate is of course that it is by its very nature apolitical. Simply scientists arguing among themselves as to which tools provide valuable insight and which do not.
So what are we to make of all of this? One thing seems clear: When an academic study is presented in an academic forum, it is presented there not as some sort of gospel truth for public consumption, but rather with a full expectation of studied academic criticism. Simply a part of a much wider scientific debate.

But what has happened instead is that the study's non-academic critics, most of whom have not only never read it but probably could not read it with understanding, have elevated the study's conclusions to a public forum that it was never addressed to. In effect, they have used bullhorns to publicize the very set of conclusions that they wish to silence; a set of conclusions that there would be no need to silence had the study's non-academic detractors simply avoided announcing them in the first place.

But perhaps there is a greater point to be made here. If someone uses the press to advance views you find unacceptable, write them and tell them so. No, chances are that your opposition will not be published. Indeed, for all of the letters I've written, I've only managed it four times, and even in that, my percentage is likely higher that most others. But to use that for an excuse for not doing so is identical to not voting because one vote doesn't make a difference. In both cases, the argument is simply wrong.

In the case of voting, you must understand that even a losing vote is well counted by the winner; one more voter he or she could not reach. In the case of letter writing, you have at least informed the recipient that you are keeping tabs on them, and that not everyone falls for ill-formed argument. If they are worth their salt, they will at least try to sharpen their arguments, and this would indeed be progress.

As for some guidelines to increase your chances of publication?

  • Keep it short. There is only so much space that editors have to fill with letters, and they like a diversity of both opinions and topics. If you do not keep it short and your letter is accepted, it will likely be edited, and having experienced such editing once, you cannot imagine how much even a simple edit can alter the tone you feel is critical to your point.

  • Some emotionalism is acceptable, but keep it to about 20% of what you write. While pure rants are sometimes accepted, most often they are paired with a better written and contrary opinion, and you've been published simply to look foolish.

  • Avoid conspiracy theories even if you have good material. Your letter will go out on the first cut regardless. This might not be fair, but it is the case. Remember, you are not writing to be a martyr; you are writing to be published.

  • Avoid being a smart ass. If you cannot, you'd better make sure that your content is powerful, and that all of your ducks are lined up. Otherwise, your letter will simply be dismissed.

  • It is a rare day when an editor will include your letter if he has published one from you in the last six moths or so. This simply doesn't fit into the diversity that most editors seek for this. While I have accomplished this once, your second letter better be too powerful for them to not publish. Write again, for sure, but don't expect this.
None of this will "save the day" for you, but all of it will put you more frequently into the catagory of "would have been published except for lack of room". An if you can consistantly place yourself here, eventually you will be published simply because your name has grown familiar to the editors as one that consistantly makes the second-to-the-last cut.

But get active and do some writing. Read other letters and see if you can figure out why they were. If you've never much tried, it may be difficult at first, but you will get better at it, and one day it will be your name below that letter. And trust me on this: The first time you see it there? You'll feel just like the cat's meow.

Sunday, August 03, 2003
   Update: CakeGate and the Neocons

The latest version of the CakeGate Timeline (8/3/2003 @ 12:20 AM) is out. Much to report, and here are some highlights:

  • The Afghanistan dates are now incorporated. These are the one's that I've said are so telling. If you see a footnote of (1) somewhere, that would be one of those entries.
  • Some dates regarding the "British dossier" are included. These turn the whole thing into a merry-go-round. The Brits did not even know about the Niger FAX when they released this, the CIA asked them before they did to delete their uranium claim, the SOTU speechwriters pretty much knew that the American uranium claim was quite soft, and so they referred the SOTU back to the British claim, not knowing that we had essentially rejected that claim months earlier. At best, this is sophmoric, and certainly not Presidential. But look to February 13, 2001 and my two footnotes for that date.
  • Look to my footnote for March 19, 2003, the day the war "officially" began. There is a very unsettling concept here, and that is that British troops were assigned the more northern route to Baghdad with the full knowledge beforehand that they would encounter far stiffer resistance and suffer more casualties as a result. Theirs, not ours, would die.
Some other stuff also, and I'm still 3 days behind a lot of good looking links.
Friday, August 01, 2003
  In the Mailbag  

     Just my answer:

To be honest, even with all of my following of the various 9/11 claims, and even though a few of them simply make more sense, I simply have not yet come to a firm conclusion of it as a planned event. Mind you of course that I am still open to that possibility, but what bothers me is that no case made for that has ever been cross-examined. This isn't a minor point. It is one thing to present a compelling case (which some have), but it is an entirely differ matter for that case to stand up to rigorous questioning. As I said, I'm still open on the issue.
But the truth of the matter (as my research is beginning to show) is that the truth of 9/11 may not even matter. There simply may be a sufficient enough case of criminal activity even without it. Now, I have not yet published my Afghanistan tie-ins, but when you get to view them, especially when tied to subsequent events, it is most difficult to not come to a conclusion.
That conclusion is this:
  • Afghanistan had almost nothing to do with bin Laden. Merely a convenient excuse.
  • Iraq had nothing at all to do with WMDs. Again, a convenient excuse.
We all pretty much knew a bunch of that to begin with, so what's the big deal? It was all about oil after all, wasn't it?
Well, yes and no. Yes, because oil was the commodity at stake. And no, because oil was not the commodity at stake. But how can both be true?
Oil was simply the medium. The real commodity was profits and who got them. What had happened (for a number of reasons) was that American oil companies (and by extension, suppliers such as Halliburton) had gotten locked out of both the Iraqi market and the Caspian Sea (Afghanistan) market. These are the 2nd and 3rd largest oil markets in the world, and there is evidence of late that Iraq may actually have more than today's number one, Saudi Arabia. Now, the Saudi market is fine (hence the missing 28 page in the 9/11 report), but to be locked out on the number two and number three markets?
But here is the real deal. We were not locked out of purchasing oil from these markets. We were simply locked out of the profits that purchases from these markets would generate. So we would have our oil, but we would not have our profits. And that is why it was not really about oil at all. It was and is about corporate profits. All of this will become a lot clearer to you when I next publish my timeline.
What has in effect happened here is that an oil baron has purchased (how else would you phrase it?) the most powerful military to ever exist, and through two wars, has used that military (and death) to rewrite contractual agreements more to the favor of American corporate interests. Others have expressed this sentiment before me, and while I have not ignored them, most of this has simply been expressed as some massive conspiracy. It is not. It is simply how very powerful people independently conduct business on a global scale. It is not a conspiracy, because these people indeed compete with each other for the "top dog" position. They do not care a whit if someone dies while their games play out. Whomever is most ruthless wins.
But let us lower this discussion down to the level where you and I live. Now, I don't have any real totals, but the figure 70,000 strikes me as a good ballpark estimate. Between Afghanistan and Iraq: 70,000 dead. Maybe it's 30 and maybe it's 100, but it makes no difference how you count. Whatever method you use, you will end up with one hell of a lot of people. Hardly Hitler, but Hitler hadn't much killed anyone during his first 2 1/2 years.
But what was Hitler's goal? To restore the supremacy of the German republic regardless of cost. To regain supremacy. And what is ours, as visualized by the Neocons of PNAC? Per their own publications, to maintain the supremacy of the American republic regardless of cost. Birds of a feather indeed.
But who is leading this charge? It's not Bush. It can't be, because he is incapable of envisioning anything with a scope of this magnitude. But another is not, and he in particular embodies the very soul of the American Empire and Pax Americana. The rest of them? They are all doing it simply because the actually believe in this pipe dream.
   Update: CakeGate and the Neocons

An interesting day on CakeGate. A bunch of minor "grabs" until I run into the Guardian. Well, lookie here! PDF links to the two "British dossiers" and to a third quite recent evaluation of them. Love those Brits. Right out in the open.

So I go thru all three. Hum? The Brits never saw the Niger FAXs until after their September dossier. Kind of makes it strange that we'd reference that report in the SOTU, when we knew their stuff was missing some big pieces. Check out the Guardian if you want links to these. You'll generally find them at the bottom of their articles.

Still, I'm on track for catching up (I never got to my good blogs on this yesterday) until I run into the final article I have to check (Scoop). Lot's of work to do already, mind you, but at least I'm finished my daily "collection" period.

Boom! I'm buried! The Scoop article has links up the butt, and the first one I click is an Afghanistan timeline, which I was looking for anyways. Well, it knocked my socks off (again). Cheney, Cheney, Cheney. He was actually only named once, but you could see him written all over it. And as soon as he gets into office (well, a little bit later), and out comes direct threats to the Taliban: Take our deal and accept a "carpet of gold", or reject it and accept a "carpet of bombs". Those exact words. Mind you, this is five months before 9/11.

And the deal? UNOCAL gets the pipeline, among (I'm sure) a few more provisions. It's important to note at this point that UNOCAL only wants the oil. Someone else gets to actually build the pipeline for them. Do you need me to tell you? Halliburton. And then a month later, some Pakistani official gets the word: Got to beat the snow. The US bombing will begin by mid-October. Mind you, we are still talking July here when this happens. 9/11 is not yet even thinkable by the average American.

Other than the fact that Cheney is an oil pig, there is not much to be proven here. But it gets me to thinking. I'm only thinking now, mind you. Not accusing anyone, but:

  • Did Osama know about October? He had four jets, but supposedly wanted more. Did he launch them early because he knew what was coming?

  • And another problem that has bothered me for a long time. We couldn't figure out about 9/11 beforehand, but within 24 hours knew the name of every participant? Maybe, but there is an element of absurdity about that concept. Is it possible that we simply snatched up a bunch of Saudis we knew to be in al Queda to justify the war that was already planned? If so, a most grievous error. We should have thrown in a few Iraqis to avoid the later linkage problem.
Just speculation, mind you, and perhaps off base.

But then, there is the problem of Hamid Karzai, who is now the CEO of Afghanistan Kabul. His job before this? He worked for UNOCAL. And of course, a year later when everyone is distracted by the ramp-up to Iraq, doesn't UNOCAL get 36% of the pipeline thru Afghanistan.

So here we are seven months after UNOCAL/Halliburton get their deal, and Karzai couldn't even control Kabul if American blood was not propping him up. Here we are seven months later trying to make deals with Afghani war lords and the remnants of the Taliban. Diplomacy, for sure, and a rare treat from this administration. Diplomacy, of course, required if UNOCAL and Halliburton are to get their pipeline done.

Anyways, the Afghanistan timeline led to and Iraq timeline, and here I am in the wee hours, and I still haven't finished processing my first link of the day. Go figure.

But all of this has left me very thirsty for links to Cheney's energy task force. I didn't keep any on what was just revealed, so those are fine, but I'm more interested on origianal dates when it all took place. I have a strong feeling that they will somehow lay nicely into my timeline.

And if you haven't guessed by now, the next update to the CakeGate Timeline will be a good while. But it will be a good one. Stay tuned.