August 31, 2005


Poverty is increasing in this country. In fact it’s been going up every year of the Bush Presidency. Now I know we liberal communist types have often complained that Bush is picking on the poor and doing the least for the least-off among us, but now we have actual numerical proof:

Even with a robust economy that was adding jobs last year, the number of Americans who fell into poverty rose to 37 million -up 1.1 million from 2003- according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure.

The Census Bureau also said household income remained flat, and that the number of people without health insurance edged up by about 800,000 to 45.8 million people.

What good is a “robust economy” if the number of people in poverty increase? Oh for the Clinton years. Big tide. All Boats. Lots of lifting.

August 30, 2005

Work the Problem

We here at Craigorina Chant do not believe in a passive approach to the world. So nature just kicked your ass. Got to do something about it. We work the problem. On the immediate help side please check out this list of charities to help with the aftermath. Lend a hand.

Now I know people say that "Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it." But public policy really can do something about hurricanes and the damage they cause. Case in point: this Chis Mooney article from May that outlined the steps that could have been taken to prevent what just happened to New Orleans.

Second, think twice about where we are rebuilding. Does it really make sense to build stuff right in the same place where the next hurricane is coming? Do we want to spring for rebuilding $$$ every three years? The very last class I took in my Master's program was disaster planning for cities and the short version of that class was Don't build where the disaster is going to strike. For the longer version you either have to do the program or hire me as your consultant.

Finally, we have to think about global warming. Will global warming fuel more Katrinas? Time has a mixed report:

So is global warming making the problem worse? Superficially, the numbers say yes, or at least they seem to if you live in the U.S. From 1995 to 1999, a record 33 hurricanes struck the Atlantic basin, and that doesn't include 1992's horrific Hurricane Andrew, which clawed its way across south Florida in 1992, causing $27 billion dollars worth of damage. More-frequent hurricanes are part of most global warming models, and as mean temperatures rise worldwide, it's hard not to make a connection between the two. But hurricane-scale storms occur all over the world, and in some places including the North Indian ocean and the region near Australia—the number has actually fallen. Even in the U.S., the period from 1991 to 1994 was a time of record hurricane quietude, with the dramatic exception of Andrew.

The important thing to keep in mind is that we have a real impact on what happens. We are not helpless in the face of nature or unable to affect the world. So we need to talk about what we are going to do.

Hurricane Report

Craigorian Chant's New Orleans bureau chief and Senior Meteorologist Yanina has filed the following report live from the hurricane zone:

This is your New Orleans correspondent reporting in on Hurricane Katrina. To tell you the truth, I'm not in New Orleans at the moment, I'm in kentucky, heading towards some family members in Cincinnati. We were going to ride out the storm (we felt pretty safe in our apt. on the 7th flr) but I am so thankful that Mayor Ray Nagin made it mandatory to get the hell out, the first time a mayor has claimed authority to do this in metro New Orleans. And of course, since I have a vested interest, I've paid close attention to the news and photos of the city. Now although the doomsday scenario for New Orleans did not happen, there is still CATASTROPHIC damage to all of Southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines. Water is 12 ft. or higher in certain parts of New Orleans and nearly every building is sustaining anywhere from mild damage to total devastation. I am so nervous about my apartment and I have no idea when we will be allowed to go back into the city... likely no less than several days, possibly much longer. But I just thought you might want to know that I am OK... and desperately hoping that I have not lost all my possessions.

This is Yanina, reporting from Kentucky... out.

August 29, 2005

He Only Grows Stronger

A great story in TAP on how Pat Robertson's death threat has actually strengthens Hugo Chavez. Robertson has given Chavez a perfect foil to play against and get the attention off his own misdeeds:

The biggest benefit for Chávez is that once again, no one will hear about the erosion of civil liberties generally and freedom of the press in particular under his rule. Chávez and his compliant congress and judiciary have quietly strengthened laws barring "disrespectful" or "offensive" references to public officials or institutions. First was the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, enacted in December; in March, the legislature enacted reforms to the country's penal code that consolidated the exemption from public criticism of a special class of people: high government officials.

Bush (and anyone connected to Bush) is wildly unpopular in most of the know world. They should hug Chavez, not attack him. Bush should start embracing the most hateful dictators. They would instantly lose support. Throw in a State visit and a photo with the dictator, and Bush could trigger popular uprisings all over the place.

August 28, 2005

Putting the Con In Constitution

I really can't get a good read on what is up with the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution. Some say its done:

Sheik Humam Hammoudi, a Shiite and chairman of the drafting committee, said 5 million copies of the constitution will be circulated nationwide in food allotments each Iraqi family receives monthly from the government. Unlike the January elections, Iraqis will not be allowed to vote outside the country because of the difficulty in applying the three-province veto.

Others seem not quit ready to sign off:

Sunni negotiators delivered their rejection in a joint statement shortly after the draft was submitted to parliament. They branded the final version as "illegitimate" and asked the Arab League, the United Nations and "international organizations" to intervene against the document.

Intervention is unlikely, however, and no further amendments to the draft are possible under the law, said a legal expert on the drafting committee, Hussein Addab.

This is not the clear victory that the Bush team was looking for to stop the bleeding. In the past they have been able to use one-time events like the Jan election or the capture of Saddam to halt or even reverse the steady drip, drip of bad news. But it is a real open question as to the ratification of this new Constitution.

Although Sunnis account for only 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 27 million people, they still can derail the constitution in the referendum due to a concession made to the Kurds in the 2004 interim constitution. If two-thirds of voters in any three provinces reject the charter, the constitution will be defeated. Sunnis have the majority in at least four provinces.

Defeat of the constitution would force new elections for a parliament that would begin the drafting process from scratch. If the constitution is approved, elections for a fully constitutional parliament will be in December.

I think its time to start putting some polls in the field. Is the Constitution going to pass?

Big Trouble in the Big Easy

Katrina is now a catagory five hurrican. The scale goes to five. It is on track to hit New Orleans directly. The city in under a manditory evacuation order. The reports are now using words like "doomsday scenario" and "catastrophic." The storm is also going to hammer US oil operations, so everybody is going to feel pain from Katrina. Nothing left to do but brace yourselves.

August 27, 2005

Here Comes Trouble

The problem with always being up on the news is that I find new things to worry about. In this case its Hurricane Katrina (kind of a pretty name for something about to wreck your house) which is now gaining strength and bearing down on Louisiana or Mississippi. The added fun it that this bitch could hit New Orleans, whose One million souls, including at least one very dear friend, lies 12 feet under sea level. Like I said, something new to worry about.

August 26, 2005

Wes Clark for Something

Good God I wish Wes Clark was something right now. Sec Defense, Sec State, National Security Advisor, something. Clark is a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, ran for President in 04, got beat and would have made a great hire in a Kerry administration. Tough break there. To see what the road not traveled would look like check out Clark's proposal for Iraq:

Unfortunately, the Administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track. Its scattershot diplomacy in the region – threatening some of Iraq's neighbors with a variety of economic and diplomatic measures and allusions to further military action, expounding aims in the region that sound grandiose, and to many of those who live there, naïve and even somewhat imperialistic, failing to reinforce the US efforts with more culturally and linguistically capable regional allies, and turning away other assistance which might have made US leadership less obtrusive – have been ill-advised and counterproductive. The diplomatic failure magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of US strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists, the surprisingly resilient support of the insurgency, and the underlying political difficulties of bringing together representative Iraqi elements
On the political side, the timeline for the agreements on the Constitution are less important than the substance. It is up to American leadership to help engineer a compromise that will avoid the "red lines" of the respective factions and leave in place a state that both we and the neighbors can support. So, no Kurdish vote on independence; a restricted role for Islam, and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias.
The growing chorus of voices demanding a pull-out should seriously alarm the Bush Administration. For President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam – failing to craft a realistic and effective policy, and in its place, simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve alone isn't enough to mend a flawed approach. If the Administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that the Administration bring our troops home.

If we can't do it right we have to get out. And Bush isn't doing it right.

August 25, 2005

A Real Comment on Society

And now a word about the comments. I welcome comments and encourage all of my readers to put in their 2 cents and read what others have to say by clicking on comments. My thoughts are usually the best, but still some worthy things are written. That said,


I mean it. I have enough to deal with in my life without the Secret Service kicking my door in. Don't do that. Joking or not, do not do that.

In other comments news, WingNut has an interesting phenomenon in her comments section - Spam Comments. They look like real posts that say stuff like "That's an interesting post" and then link to a page trying to sell you something. Something for the Craigorian Chant Tech staff to look at. How did they do that? Do you think someone did it manually or could you do something like that with a bot?

UPDATE: Ack The spam-bots have struck this very post. Was it talk of comments that attracted then or was cause I linked to an infected blog? Unsafe linking leads to trouble.

August 24, 2005

Oh Boy

So in Iraq it appears that the give and take between groups over the Constitution is now being conducted with guns.

If you actually take a look at the political forces at work in Iraq it is not encouraging:

This is a country whose secular minority largely overlaps with the ethnically distinct and geographically concentrated Kurds. Kurdish political leaders feel that it's worth making a great deal of compromises about how Iraq should be governed in exchange for the right to govern themselves as they see fit. Consequently, outside of Kurdistan, public opinion seems to be strongly Islamist. Indeed, the single most important political leader in the country is the country's chief Shiite cleric. There are various good things you can say about the Grand Ayatollah, but as you'll see here he clearly has retrograde views on a variety of key social issues. The political party of the prime minister (al-Dawa) is a socially conservative Islamist party. Its main coalition partner, SCIRI, is a more socially conservative, more Islamist party. The most powerful opposition movements in the country are a super-violent Islamism-inflected Sunni insurgency and the frankly anti-democratic, Khomeinist movement of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Keep in mind that these are the guys who are working on the Constitution, These are not the insurgents. These are the guys that our guys are protecting. That our guys are fighting and bleeding for. Oh Boy.

Write a Blog, Lose Your Job

I guess us civillian types don't have to worry. Yet:

Jeff Howe may have expected to be drummed out of the Army for being gay; after all, he had made a conscious decision to keep his sexual identity secret in order to serve in the military. But he probably didn’t expect that blogging would cost him his job.

Howe, who was serving as a specialist with the 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery, part of a brigade currently attached to the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, says he was kicked out of the service last month in reprisal for posting the photo of a destroyed vehicle on his blog. According to Howe, he was halfway through his second deployment to Iraq when he was informed that he was being separated from the service for violating the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits servicemen and women from being openly gay.

The final irony:

Howe said he had made a conscious decision to stay closeted in order to enlist, post-September 11, at the age of 30. Ironically, he was due to leave the Army in November 2004, but was “stop-lossed” (involuntarily retained) before his unit rotated back to Iraq.

“I had my papers in my hand to get out, and starting to out-process,” he said. “And I was told, ‘The Army cannot live without you, Jeff Howe.’”

August 23, 2005

Top This

One of the problems with being Pat Robertson is you have to keep saying more and more outrageous stuff. He has to maintains right-wing religious nut status. In the latest he has called for the assassination of Venezuela's President:

He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.

Robertson has said some whoppers before, but this one has the added spice of an international incident. Venezuela is crying foul and the White House is distancing itself as far as it can.

Pat Robertson: The one-man international incident.

Update: Robertson tries and explain himself and fails:

Robertson said that his remarks about Chavez were taken out of context and that he never called for the killing of the Latin American leader.

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him.

That has got to be the lamest explination ever. When I was 5 and all the cookies went missing I was able to come up with at better line that this. "Take Him Out" does mean assasination?

August 22, 2005

The First Draft of History

Or is that the first draft is history? The Iraqis get the draft Constitution done right before the (second) deadline, but then declare that three more days are needed to work out small details like, How the Government will be Organized. Does it worry anybody that the Iraq Constitutional convention is actually much, much worse than I am about hitting deadlines? I mean in the end even I get my stuff done in time. And I don't have the motivation of possible Civil War if I don't pull it out.

So buckle down people, drink your coffee, and try not to completely strip women of all civil rights. It would be a shame if 1868 US soldiers died to create an Islamic Republic.

How Low...

...Can he go?

Bush job approval ratings now stand at just 36% with 58% disapprove. New rule: no one is allowed to use the words "Bush" and "popular" together in the same sentence. Every again. Also does anybody know a hardcore Republican who changed his/her mine lately. Because 36% approval means some very solid GOP supporters have switched. So do you think its one thing or just all the Stuff (Iraq, Sheehan, Rove) building up?

August 21, 2005

Going Out With Style

I think one of the problems of being Hunter S Thompson is that you always had to top yourself. Well Hunter had just one final act and he made the most of it:

With a deafening boom, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky amid fireworks late Saturday as relatives and a star-studded crowd bid an irreverent farewell to the founder of "gonzo journalism".

As the ashes erupted from a tower, red, white, blue and green fireworks lit up the sky over Thompson's home near Aspen.

"I'll always remember where I was when Hunter was blown into the heavens," said Thompson's neighbor, Rita Sherman, who watched the spectacle from the deck of her house.

August 20, 2005

David Ignatius Ruins My Morning

So I read this crap from David Ignatius and it has pissed me off and totally ruined my relaxed Saturday morning vibe:

Rather than lead a responsible examination of America's strategy for Iraq, they (Democrats) have handed off the debate to a distraught mother who is grieving for her lost son. Rather than address the nation's long-term fiscal problems, they have decided to play politics and let President Bush squirm on the hook of his unpopular plan to create private Social Security accounts.

Sandy Sheehan is not setting the strategy for the Iraq war for anybody, let alone the Democratic Party. All she is doing is asking a single, unanswerable, devastating question: What is the "noble cause" that her son died for?

There is this guy called The President of United States. He started this war and right its his job to find a way to end it. Bush just loves being commander-in-Chief. Well, its a real job, not just a title. The democrats job as the oppostition is to point out everything that he is doing wrong. When the Democrat's create a "responsible examination" of the Iraq war (See Kerry Campaign, et al) they get their heads beat in being called pro-terrorist, anti-American, and anti-solder. So why should democrat's offer policies on Iraq that can be attacked and give Bush cover, when it is very clear to anyone with eyes that Bush will not take any outside ideas under consideration?

As far as Social Security goes, why should liberals save Bush from his own bad policies. Bush made private accounts the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. Liberals opposed that agenda. Liberals are winning. Why shouldn't "Bush squirm on the hook of his unpopular plan" The opposition is supposed to oppose. That's what they do. David Ignatius seems to think the oppositions job is to save the Administration from it own bad policies. That's not our job. We don't end policy debates. We win them.

More: Matthew Yglesias makes the point that the Dems have plenty of policy ideas if you just spent five seconds to find then. Up yours two times David Ignatius.

August 19, 2005


Which do you think does more damage to American life Pot or Meth?

Anyone who says pot should post in the comments section, where Tyler and Laura will then take turns beating you for stupidity. This is just one of those duh questions. And like many duh questions, its one the Bush administration gets wrong:

More than two decades after it was launched in response to the spread of crack cocaine -- and in the midst of a brand-new wave of methamphetamine use sweeping the country -- the government crackdown has shifted from hard drugs to marijuana. Pot now accounts for nearly half of drug arrests nationwide -- up from barely a quarter of all busts a decade ago. Spurred by a Supreme Court decision in June affirming the right of federal agents to crack down on medical marijuana,

The Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a series of high-profile raids against pot clinics in California, and police in New York, Memphis and Philadelphia have been waging major offensives against pot smokers that are racking up thousands of arrests.
"Americans will be disappointed to learn that the War on Drugs is not what they thought it was," says Mitch Earleywine, associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. "Many of us grew up supporting this war, thinking it would imprison high-level traffickers of hard drugs and keep cocaine and heroin off the streets. Instead, law enforcement officers devote precious hours on hundreds of thousands of arrests for possession of a little marijuana."

Since taking over as drug czar, Walters has launched an extraordinary effort to depict marijuana as an addictive "gateway" to other, more powerful drugs. "Marijuana use, especially during the teen years, can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide and schizophrenia," he declared in May. Trying to capitalize on fears of terrorism, Walters has linked drugs to terror, running a much-derided series of television ads suggesting that the money marijuana users spend on pot winds up funding terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

Find me one cop who thinks pot is a bigger problem then meth or one news headline that reads "Town destroyed by Pot" and then we will talk.

The war on pot diverts money and manpower from fighting far more harmful drugs. While the feds target pot smokers, a burgeoning meth epidemic is swamping rural communities, especially in the West and the Great Plains. Nearly half of state and local law-enforcement agencies identify meth as their greatest drug threat -- compared with only one in eight for marijuana -- and more than 1 million Americans use the highly addictive drug, which is linked to violent crime, explosions and fires at meth labs, severe health problems, and child and family abuse. In 2003, drug agents busted a staggering 10,182 meth labs, and the fight against meth is straining the resources of local police and sheriffs in small towns. But the White House has proposed slashing federal aid for rural narcotics teams by half. "If those cuts go through, they're going to totally wipe us out," says Lt. Steve Dalton, leader of a drug task force in southwest Missouri.

A lot of small town and rural voters went for Bush in a big way. Wonder how they feel about that now.

August 18, 2005

Blogging Makes You Smart

Just more proof that I, your humble correspondent, am better and smarter than you because I am a blogger.

This blog post I found from Political Animal claims that blogging will make you smarter. Highlight:

5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.

Research using the Lemelson-MIT Invention index found that invention is best fostered in solitude (66%); yet other research has shown the beneficial effects of brainstorming with a community of intellectual peers. So blogging may combine the best of "working by yourself" and "working with other people." Bloggers have solitary time to plan their posts, but they can also receive rapid feedback on their ideas. The responses may open up entirely new avenues of thought as posts circulate and garner comments.

Blogs combining the best of social interaction and nerdy solitary thinking stuff. No wonder I'm so cool.

Lions and Elephants, Oh My

This is different:

If a group of prominent ecologists have their way, lions and elephants could someday be roaming the Great Plains of North America.

The rapid extinction of dozens of large mammal species in North America -- perhaps due to a combination of climate change and overhunting -- triggered a landslide of changes to the environmental landscape. Relocating large animals to vast ecological parks and private reserves would begin to repair the damage, proponents say, while offering new ecotourism opportunities to a withering region.

Now is this one of those so clever its massively stupid ideas or is the thought of going on safari right here in the USA going to win people over.

August 17, 2005

Its a Gas

So how about the price of gas? Keeps going up. I thought that after the war oil would be free. Some guys on the radio were asking this question:

How expensive does gas have to get to change your lifestyle?

What will it take for someone to really change their life. Drive less, carpool, get a smaller car and so on. Three bucks? Four? Five?

What will it take, and how different will we be, when gas gets that expensive?

August 16, 2005


Chris sends me a great blog link I want to share. Its called 365 and a wake up and its written by a soldier in Iraq. The guy is a poet and philospher and overall just an amazing read.

Check it out:

365 and a Wake Up

August 15, 2005

Watching, Waiting.

Don't you just hate when world events don't unfold in a timely manner, thus keeping you from offering timely comentary into the global impact of said events.

The Iraqi Constitution is being delayed, seems that there are some rather sticky issues to be worked out still. Like will Iraq become an Islamic Theocracy? Small details. Wait and see.

Gaza pull out underway, marked by what is termed "some violence" which means no one has died yet. Its going to take all week to get this done and it remains to be seen if every will survive. The survival of the current Israeli government is also an open question.

This all means a lot. As soon as I figure it out, you, my loyal readers will be the first to know.

August 14, 2005

Who Tells Bush?

Frank Rich declares the Iraq War over. The only thing left is will anybody tell Bush:

LIKE the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

The pentagon has been gone off the reservation, with the General in Iraq, Casey talking about withdrawing troops and a move to try and rename the "War on Terror."

Mr. Bush's top war strategists, starting with Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, have of late tried to rebrand the war in Iraq as what the defense secretary calls "a global struggle against violent extremism." A struggle is what you have with your landlord. When the war's uber-managers start using euphemisms for a conflict this lethal, it's a clear sign that the battle to keep the Iraq war afloat with the American public is lost.

We also have the classic "senior official" quote in the Washington Post massively lowering expectations in Iraq:

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.
But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.

The question is, will anybody tell Bush? Do we really need to tell him? Or will the Pentagon and the rest of his administration just let him prattle on about "Freedom is on the march" and "Stay the Course" as they pull troops out and try and salvage something from this entire fiasco. Time will tell.

August 13, 2005

Quote of the Day

You know, it’s really none of my business. I’m not fighting. I’m not in the Army. I’m not in any of the armed forces. I’m not Donald Rumsfeld. And I’m certainly not in Iraq—an Iraqi person who has to deal with all the bulls—t in my country. I’m not Afghani. I wouldn’t know what that reality is like, to sit in your home and to have soldiers raiding your house because they think your kid is a spy. And explosions happening at your kids’ schools. I don’t know if I could have a real educated opinion about it all. I just think it’s f—ked up, whatever’s happening over there.

Jessica Alba

August 12, 2005

Friday Must Read

Your must read assignment today is this excellent Rolling Stone story:

Four Amendments & a Funeral

It is a great inside look at Congress at work. In short:

"Nobody knows how this place is run," says Rep. Bernie Sanders. "If they did, they'd go nuts."

August 11, 2005

Follow Up...

You can't compare Native American Tribe names/references to deragotory descriptions of other groups. No organization would ever name their team the "San Francisco Faggots", the "Houston Honkies", or the "New York N*****s." Not because these organizations are sensitive and considerate, but because groups aggregated under these terms have no virtue, honor, courage, etc. that is important as a metaphor or symbol of a sports team.

Conversely, a tribe name, though possibly offensive to some, does invoke some spirit of courage, power, etc. that sports teams want to be associated with. College and Pro sports teams named themselves after Native American tribes to tie themselves to the warrior past of these tribes.

Its kind of pathetic, but after we wiped out the plains indians, and white Americans were safe, we started turning them into heros. Nonetheless, referencing Native American culture as a mascot/nickname is meant as a tribute, regardless of what its denigrated into today. Like Craig said, is the name Seminole in itself offensive? Maybe, maybe not depending on your views. But everyone would agree racial slurs for blacks and homosexulas are offensive--and also--meaningless with respect to symbols sports teams want to be associated with. So its comparing apples and oranges.

Here's a question: Lets say the Oakland Radiers were reanmed the Oakland Zulus and the San Diego Chargers were renamed the San Diego Highlanders. The Zulus had a weird looking black man with a spear and reed shield dancing around his sideline and the Highlanders had a weird looking half naked painted Scotsman with a sword dancing around his sideline. There were never any Higlanders or Zulus in America. So would any of this be offensive?? (Being a decendant of one of these groups doesn't count because they're in a different geographic region).

Messing With Mom

Lots and Lots of Attention is now focused on Cindy Sheehan, a woman from Vacaville who lost a son in Iraq, is camped out at Crawford, demanding answers, getting lots of press, and generally putting a crimp in Bush's vacation.

Naturally she needs to be crushed, for the good of both Republic and the conservative movement. So take some quotes, rip them out of context and presto Cindy Sheehan "changed her story on Bush"? Check out MediaMatters for a look at how the whole right-wing press operation works. It is a finely honed machine.

There is just one problem with this machine. It is attacking a Woman who lost a son in the Iraq War! There are things that will not stand. You just don't mess with Mom.

August 10, 2005

Fighting Irish? Yes. Fighting Illini?...No.

Many of you have probably now read about the NCAA's decision to ban offensive mascots/nicknames of schools at all NCAA championship events.

So you can have a crazy indian mascot during the regular season, but not at an NCAA sponsored championship? Whatever. I guess this is the NCAA's attempt to pressure all these schools with offensive references to remove them permenantely.

Anyway, I have a solution. Instead of using names associated with darker skined groups that have been victimized, these colleges should institute names associated with light skined groups that have been victimized. The logic is that white people are fair game for such things. For example: the NCAA's Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the NBA's Boston Celtics, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings (yes, vikings were other vikings). The NCAA is targeting 18 schools. Here are my picks for the names these schools should use:

  • Alcorn State University Guals
  • Central Michigan University Saxsons
  • Catawba College Caereni
  • Florida State University Franks
  • Midwestern State University Mionians
  • University of Utah Allemanni
  • Indiana University-Pennsylvania Picts
  • Carthage College Slavs
  • Bradley University Balts
  • Arkansas State University Anglos
  • Chowan College Scythians
  • University of Illinois-Champaign Hittites
  • University of Louisiana-Monroe Amorites
  • McMurry University Mitanni
  • Mississippi College Kassites
  • Newberry College Dorians
  • University of North Dakota Acheans
  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University Sarmatians
Some of these groups did victimize other groups for sure. But they were in turn vicitimized eventually. So I think the Native American tribes swap for the European tribes is a good trade. The only difference is the pigmentation of the victims, that makes it alright.

Just Some City Politics

You think you have trouble in your City's politics, let's check out Baghdad's:

Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."

The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq's capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri.

Now, US forces just let this happen? An armed Islamic militia just took over Baghdad and the US is OK with that? Just what are we going to end up with here?

August 9, 2005

Running for a Good Reason

My friend Emily, while overall a tremendous person, has some strange habits. She actually runs long distances with no one chasing her or anything. Personally, I feel that if God had wanted me to travel long distances under my own power, he wouldn't have given me a car. But Emily is putting her strange habits to work on a good cause. Here she is:

In 2001, I lost my grandfather to leukemia. I had lost someone important in my life and for the first time, leukemia had devastated me in a very personal way. I have joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training (TNT), and I need your support. Several of my colleagues at Stantec Consulting are joining me in training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco, on October 23, 2005. I have committed to raise $1,900 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of my participation in the Nike Women's Half Marathon. At least 75% of this money goes directly towards funding for research, patient aid, and community service programs. Please support me in this effort by visiting my webpage and sponsoring my half marathon.

All donations are 100% tax deductible and any amount is greatly appreciated.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is one of the world's leading research organizations dedicated to finding a cure for Leukemia and its related cancers (Lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and Myeloma). Each year, over 100,000 Americans will contract, and more than 50,000 will die, from Leukemia or its related diseases this year, making it the 4th major cause of death. It is especially devastating to the lives of children. While the survival rate for children has increased dramatically over the years, it has remained unchanged for adults who suffer from this disease.Each team has specific honorees, with ranges of ages and stages of illness.

I am participating in memory of my Grandpa Ben, Aunt Sally, childhood friend Scott Strobel, and in honor of Imani of Sacramento. Imani was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in January of 2001, just 12 days before her 9th birthday. Currently, at the age of 13, she is in full remission. With 8 surgeries and 5 blood transfusions behind her, she completed her chemotherapy treatments February of last year!

So get over there and pitch in. Go right now.

Worst. Pork. Ever.

A lot of pork isn't really wasteful spending, it's just Federal government goodies that aren't located in your Congressional District. Somebody has to get the military base and calling it pork just means that you're bitter that their congress critter is smarter than yours. Even things like 1.6 million for bike trails in New Jersey or a Transit Center in St. Paul, MN may not be fair, but lots of people do bike in New Jersey and ride transit in St. Paul.

Then we have The Bridge. A 223 million dollar bridge in Alaska to connect an off-shore island with 50 people living on it to the mainland. A quarter billion dollars to serve fifty people. Why don't we just buy each islander a million dollar yacht, it would be cheaper. Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure just happens to be from Alaska. Don Young is the grand master of pork. I salute him. But this is pork of the worst kind. It is total and complete waste of resources in an age where we don't have resources to waste. Shame on you, Don Young R-Alaska. Shame.

Shuttle Lands Safely

OK, I can relax now. That was a fun couple of weeks, wasn't it?

August 8, 2005


Not a lot happening today, but a lot of things are coming soon. Heads up.

The shuttle's landing has been put off for a day, so I guess I'll put away my rabbit's foot for a little while.

Israel is going to be pulling out Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in one week. This is not the comprehensive peace that the region needs, but its a vital step. Putting a few thousand right-wing Jewish Settlers in with a couple of million Palestinians is madness. But the act is going to seriously strain Israel internally. Something to watch.

Also due on August 15 is the draft of Iraq Constitution. Writing an Iraq Constitution is like juggling chainsaws while sitting on a unicycle that's on a tite rope that's over a pool of sharks. In other words, it is hard. I'll sure it will turn out fine They are rushing to finish in time and everyone knows that being rushed leads to good results. Also, the rest of the Iraq War has gone so well, I'm sure this part will go a smooth as silk.

August 7, 2005

CIA Commander: We Let bin Laden Slip Away

Read all about it. I for one am reasured that the President was very firm and brave as he let Bin Laden get away. I'm sure he knew the difference between good and evil and articualted a clear vision of moral clarity as he let the Fricken Bad Guy Get Away.

August 6, 2005

No Heroes Here

There is a story in the NY Times today about the lack of real high-profile war heroes from the current unpleasantness.

Many in the military are disheartened by the absence of an instantly recognizable war hero today, a deficiency with a complex cause: public opinion on the Iraq war is split, and drawing attention to it risks fueling opposition; the military is more reluctant than it was in the last century to promote the individual over the group; and the war itself is different, with fewer big battles and more and messier engagements involving smaller units of Americans. Then, too, there is a celebrity culture that seems skewed more to the victim than to the hero.

Collectively, say military historians, war correspondents and retired senior officers, the country seems to have concluded that war heroes pack a political punch that requires caution. They have become not just symbols of bravery but also reminders of the war's thorniest questions. "No one wants to call the attention of the public to bloodletting and heroism and the horrifying character of combat," said Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina. "What situation can be imagined that would promote the war and not remind people of its ambivalence?"

Of course, any modern war hero will be subjected to the standard celebrity treatment, which will pretty much take the shine off of anybody.

Mr. Mead said that "the cult of celebrity has cheapened fame." He added, "What's a war hero to do? Go on 'Oprah'?"

August 5, 2005

Standards of Victory

While we are whacking right-wingers, lets some spend some time on Ann Coulter, harpy par excellence. I came across this gem. Bill O'Reilly and Ann are debating Iraq. And she leads off with this:

COULTER: If things have been going worse why isn't the elite Republican Guard massing outside Manhattan right now?

That's Ann Coulter's standard of victory. If Iraqi troops are invading the mainland US, then maybe things might not be going well. Anything short of that is a huge victory.

Novak Meltdown

I actually saw this live. I was only half paying attention at the time and didn't really get it. Robert Novak, the prince of darkness himself, outer of CIA agents, was doing the standard sparing with everybody's favorite ugly Cajun commentator, when he called Carville a bad word, ripped off his mike and left the set. Video here.

So Novak is off CNN now. Could not happen to a nicer guy.

August 4, 2005

Dying for the Truth

Marines aren't the only ones dying in Iraq this week. An independent jouralist named Steven Vincent was killed in Basra Tuesday. He was documenting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in southern Iraq most recently in the NY Times:

As has been widely reported of late, Basran politics (and everyday life) is increasingly coming under the control of Shiite religious groups, from the relatively mainstream Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to the bellicose followers of the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Recruited from the same population of undereducated, underemployed men who swell these organizations' ranks, many of Basra's rank-and-file police officers maintain dual loyalties to mosque and state.

In May, the city's police chief told a British newspaper that half of his 7,000-man force was affiliated with religious parties. This may have been an optimistic estimate: one young Iraqi officer told me that "75 percent of the policemen I know are with Moktada al-Sadr - he is a great man." And unfortunately, the British seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

It is widely speculated that he was targeted for the work he was doing. The man was outside the protected Green Zone and not embedded with the military. He was working the streets trying to bring the truth home. At least 66 journalists and media support workers killed have been killed and 29 journalists kidnapped in Iraq. They are dying so that we will know what is happening. Vincent had a blog called In the Red Zone. This is from his last post, talking about an American Captain working on the reconstruction:

Not for the first time, I felt I was living in a Graham Greene novel, this about a U.S. soldier--call it The Naive American--who finds what works so well in Power Point presentations has unpredictable results when applied to realities of Iraq. Or is that the story of our whole attempt to liberate this nation?

August 3, 2005

Tacky Bush Jokes

Q: How many telemarketers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Wouldn't a more relevant question be "How many pounds of cocaine has Bush snorted?"

- - - -

A doctor, a lawyer, and an accountant all die and go to heaven on the same day. When they get to the Pearly Gates, they are greeted by St. Peter. St. Peter says, "Scott McClellan is a lying sack of shit and I'd tell him so myself if he weren't going straight to hell when he dies."

- - - -

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?

A: I'm not sure, but if the answer is "A cure for Parkinson's disease," then Bush will try to stop scientists from breeding them. Because he likes it when people get Parkinson's.

More Here. If you don't like them, blame Chris. He found them.

Good Day Bad Day

Good: The old NASA operation of banging on the Shuttle with a wrench seems to have worked just fine.

Bad: 14 Marines died today in Iraq today. That's 1821 total for those of you keeping score.

Good: A baby Panda. Ahhh.

Bad: Famine in Niger.

Good: Dems score are real moral victory in the Ohio 2nd special election.

Koreans produce worldÂ’s first cloned dog. Um, good news or bad news? Not sure.

August 2, 2005

Comic Horror

Via Tapped please check out the most horrifying comic book concept ever:

America's future has become an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism. Beginning with the Gore Presidency, the government has become increasingly dominated by liberal extremists. In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sites on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. On one dark day, in 2006, many conservative voices went forever silent at the hands of terrorist assassins. Those which survived joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization calledThe Freedom of Information League, aka F.O.I.L. The F.O.I.L. Organization is forced underground by the "Coulter Laws" of 2007; these hate speech legislations have made right-wing talk shows, and conservative-slanted media, illegal. ... Rupert Murdoch's decision to defy the "Coulter Laws" hate speech legislations, has bankrupted News Corporation. George Soros has bought all of News Corps assets and changed its name to Liberty International Broadcasting. LIBÂ's networks have flourished and circle the globe with a series of satellites beaming liberal & U.N. propaganda worldwide. The New York City faction of F.O.I.L. is lead by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a bio mechanical engineer affectionately nicknamed "Oscar." F.O.I.L. is soon to be joined by a young man named Reagan McGee.

I'm guessing Sean Hannity's power involves a massive blast of hot air that renders his victims ignorant and stupid. I'm really not sure if this is a parody or a frightening look into the dark corners of the modern conservative mind. The web site gives no sign that they are joking. They really think this. Good Grief.

Note on Bolton

Just a bit more on Bolton. Yes it is kind of sneaky but its not illegal. All Presidents use recess appointments, but usually for things like the Ambassador to Luxemburg or the Vice Assitant Deputy Co-Cousul in the Commerce department. But UN Ambassador is the highest profile diplomatic post short the Secretary of State. This is rather a big deal. As to the fallout, we will have to wait and see. The problem with diplomats is that they are well, diplomatic. So the signs of John Bolton screwing us will be more sutle like an eary troop withdrawl by our allies or less UN aid money to Iraq or other things like that.


Very interesting point made by Abu Aardvark, a good blog to read to see what goes on in the Arab world and media. He is talking about the death of the King:

Ugh. I'm feeling a bit ill. Today is not a good day for the Arab media. Interestingly enough, the "independent" TV station al-Arabiya (which has the King as the first, second, third, and fourth story this morning) received thousands of messages of condolence for the passing of King Fahd. Kind of odd for an independent station, huh? And then they ran a story congratulating themselves for receiving all those messages... even odder! Not that the other Arab TV stations are much better... one columnist in al-Quds al-Arabi describes the Arab TV coverage as a procession of wailing infants. The same columnist noticed that LBC TV had the exact same Shaykh reading the exact same Quranic verses as on Saudi TV...

Thank the gods for al-Jazeera, today. Their lead: "Intense security arrangements for the funeral of King Fahd." They do have some stories noting the world's mourning, but it's treated as a news story, not as a Reaganesque burlesque. The death of John Garang in the Sudan - which has already led to fierce rioting, and which could potentially bring about the collapse of the hard-won peace accord - continues to receive equal billing. Same thing in al-Quds al-Arabi: Fahd's death is covered, but the Sudan gets top billing.

The real important thing about al-Jazeera is that it is an independent media operation. It isn't owned by the government like all these other Arab News operations are. al-Jazeera has come in for its share of critisism, but if we really want democratic reforms we need an independent Arab media and an independent Arab media is going to very criticial of the US government. Thats the trade off in all of this and one that the Bush Administration just will not face.

August 1, 2005

News and Views

Lots happening this day.

The King of Saudi Arabia is dead. The problem is under Saudi law the thrones passes to the king's eldest brother, not his son. So unlike say, Jordan, where there is a chance of at least getting some younger, fresher leadership. We replace one 80-something in failing health with a new 80-something in failing health. Fricking Kings.

Bush appointed Bolton As U.N. Ambassador without Senate approval, which he can do when the Senate is out of session. Congrates we now have a guy who hates the UN and is a jerk to boot, as our Ambassador to the UN. Wonderful.