5/31/2003

I was talking to some people over the various revelations about WMD and such over the past two days, and it's interesting to hear their points of view. They are intelligent and reasonably well informed. But what was interesting is that they really didn't seem to care all that much. Several were of the opinion that we're moving into a different age. Given the state of communications, everyone all over the world - regardless of their wealth - can see how the upper crust lives. So you have a vast population living pretty much in poverty or worse, and a small percentage living the high life. It used to be that the unlucky could live in blissful ignorance of how the lucky few lived. This is no longer the case. And it was the opinion of several of my acquaintances that they weren't just going to sit back and do nothing about it. Resources - especially water - are getting scarcer and scarcer and that's going to lead inevitably to war. So it was more resignation to the inevitableness of the whole thing. It mattered little what the actual reasons for the war were. It is clearly going to be a matter of us or them. A few also suggested that perhaps a pandemic could arise which could take care of the situation for us. And so it goes. People seem to be pretty pessimistic about the whole future - at least from the small sample I've taken. It's all going to hell in a hand basket and it's just going to get worse. Wars are inevitable, and they've just begun. Depressing, ain't it?
Well, it would appear that there are some questions regarding the mobile bio weapons labs. I was hoping that some independent experts would start to pipe in once the information about them became publicly available. From Slate, we learn there's quite a few questions from those who should know.
One biologist, looking at CIA-released photographs of a trailer, noted that the pipes feeding into the chamber appear to have threaded or bolt-flange joints, which he says would cause leaks—both from the inside and to the outside. The former might contaminate the bioproduction, the latter might kill the bioworkers. Another biologist said he would like to know whether the trailer has a thermal-control meter that could keep the chamber to within one or two degrees of body temperature; if there is such a meter, the trailer might have been used to grow toxins; if there isn't, it couldn't possibly have been.
So it'll be interesting to see how this all works out. I'll still keep an open mind, but unless some questions get answered regarding this, it doesn't look good for the Administration's case at this point. Then there's the alleged meeting between Colin Powell and Tony Snow, the transcript of which has been leaked. If this turns out to be true, it'll be a very interesting piece of the puzzle. But I have to ask. If this is the case, then why was Powell going along with the charade? Oh well. Only he knows the answer to that one. One thing I think we can be sure of, though, is that what all this really amounts to will be grist for the NeoCon pummeling of Powell. It'll just be portrayed as a failure of character on Powell's part, proving how stupid they were to listen to the man. After all, if they didn't go the UN route in the first place, they would have been able to go to war far earlier and would have caught Saddam red-handed with the WMD. But I have to wonder about this argument. The idea is that somehow the war was so quick that it caught Saddam by surprise. Yet he seemed to have more than enough time to either get the WMD out of the country and/or destroy them and/or hide them. I just can't make that one make sense at all. Given that we can pretty much diagnose skin conditions from orbit and we have had constant surveillance of the country with "Bob" only knows what kind of technology, it would only mean that our intelligence agencies are complete morons for letting these actions slip by. But then, blaming the intelligence agencies seems to be pretty much standard operating procedure these days. And then there is Tony Blair's declaration that Iraq weapons secrets will be publicized. What's interesting about this is the way the story has been taken up by the Right wing and other war supporters. From reading the comments around the web about the article, they are just assuming that Blair and Bush already have a bunch of secret evidence and they're just waiting for the right moment to spring it on the world. The theory is that Bush is letting everyone - i.e. the Democrats - take as much rope as they want and then he's going to spring the trap, tighten the noose around them and let them hang themselves. But this is really a lot of hopeful wishing I think. Blair didn't actually say that he had secret evidence, rather that they were going to compile evidence over the next few months and then make it public.
"Over the coming weeks and months we will assemble this evidence and then we will give it to people," he said. "I have no doubt whatever that the evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will be there."
Considering how much bitching those on the Right have been doing over the Wolfowitz quote, it's surprising to see them miss this obvious point. But hey. Human nature, right? In any event, it'll be darn interesting to see what the Sunday talk shows reveal. I wonder if any of the Administration will be trotted out to do damage control. Seeing as how theres all this major activity going on next week - G8 summit, middle east summit, etc. - I don't think anyone should really have the time available to appear on them. Regardless, it will be fun to see how all this is spun - on both sides. Given that a significant portion of the US citizenry believes that we've already found WMD, it's interesting that they still care about finding them. After all, it seems that the vast majority of Americans believe Saddam moved the WMD into another country... Seems like they've got everything in hand, doesn't it? And I know the point has been made before, but it's it damning proof that our media has completely failed in it's mission if there is a huge population of Americans that believe facts that either haven't been proved, or have been proven false. Liberal or not, the media obviously isn't doing their job to inform. But then, their job isn't to inform, it's to entertain. And whatever the market wants, the market gets. Yi. Reality has completely left the building.
Bush: 'We Found' Banned Weapons
"You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons," Bush said in an interview before leaving today on a seven-day trip to Europe and the Middle East. "They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. "And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," Bush said. "But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."
Well, I guess that settles that question.
Started reading Darwin's Cathedral. The evolution of the group is something I've been fascinated ever since I read Dawkin's The Selfish Gene. Growing up where and when and with whom I did, libertarian was pretty much the natural outcome for a young outcast who endured years of daily interaction in a fundamentalist Christian school. Individualism is just the most statistically likely outcome. Well, that or a life of crime. Turns out that fundamentalist Christian schools are also a dumping ground for problem children who's parents are at their wits end trying desperately to get their future felon to behave. Me, having excellent parents despite the Christian school thing, I took the road of the nerd rather than the hoodlum. In any event, The Selfish Gene was always a favorite in the libertarian justification litany. See? Our genes are this way. It's the natural order of life. When everyone looks out for themselves, everything just works out. The unseen hand will guide us all into free market utopia. I never really bought into all that jazz, as something always seemed wrong with it. I remember when the Ayn Rand meme went through the group of people I hung around with during college. I picked up a copy of Atlas Shrugged and I was immediately struck by something that has always seemed to be akin to cognitive dissonance. To me, the bad characters were the one's who were really selfish. Not the great individualists who were the heroes. I mean, I understood the basic idea of the philosophy, but it always struck me as a bit Orwellian to have the twisted logic of "those who say they are selfless are really selfish and those who are really selfish are really selfless". It just made no sense to me. The problem, of course, is caused by the use of the world "Selfish" as a symbol for two very different concepts. But they insist on worshiping the selfish thing, and it creates no end of confusion and heated debate. Why on earth they just didn't make up another word, or use a word which would make more sense, I can only guess. In any event, the notion always seemed silly to me, and seemed even sillier when genetics were being used to justify it. Many years later I was listening to an interview with Richard Dawkins on that commie liberal NPR. His book, Unweaving the Rainbow, had just come out and he was making the rounds on the circuits. Naturally, the subject of his previous book came up. I can't remember exactly what he said, but what caught my attention was his explanation of how his book had been misinterpreted. Things evolve in concert with their environment - a cooperation, if you will. And the environment of a gene is really just a whole bunch of other genes. To talk about the evolution of a single gene outside of its environment was just ludicrous. Which kind of summed up my feelings about libertarianism. Along the way, I picked up a wonderful quote which summarizes it more eloquently with "It's wise to remember that with one insignificant exception, the universe is entirely composed of others". Anyways, Dawkins was eventually asked about Religion and such in the interview. What he said about it really intrigued me. He said that children will believe anything an adult tells them up to a certain age. This was a good evolutionary trait, as it allowed us to quickly transmit ideas and socially condition the young. However, it also provided a mechanism to propagate completely erroneous belief systems. What happens is that you have adults who believe things and they don't know why they believe them. They just do. Even if it conflicts with everything else they know. According to this viewpoint, Religion was just a self replicating meme that we can't really unstick unless we have several successive generations purging the meme. And I think there's a lot of people who would agree with this model. It provides a rationalization for those who can't conceive of why people believe the things they do. But believing in Evolution requires one to come up with an explanation for why things are here. Nature is pretty frugal. Nothing seems to survive long if it doesn't have some use. And one thing that is pretty clear is that Religion has been around since before we started using tools. Organized religion and it's cousins tribalism and nationalism ....................................... So the book looks to be a good read. Like all things on the edge of our current understanding, there's no doubt that the book is filled with errors and problems. But it should be interesting none-the-less.
Woke up this morning and took out an ad for Atrios, jr on Eschaton. Thought that he/she would appreciate the irony. I was wrong. Oh well. I've always been pathetically lousy at these kind of games. Pretty much any kind of game, really. Likely something to do with everyone in my family being ultracompetive. In any event, I converted that ad to point to the Disinformation web site. Converted mine to one for the Center for Cooperative Research - a great site, by the way. No doubt he/she will pummel and gloat, but that's the breaks. The younger generation is obviously way too much for an old tired dog like me. Rock on, jr.

5/30/2003

The Missing Piece in the 2002-03 Supreme Court Term: The Forgotten Fourth Amendment, and Why It Will Matter Greatly in the War on Terror Yi. There is no end to this bad news. It's like the sword of Damocles.

Is it safe? Trifecta

While rummaging around Cryptome, I came across a really disturbing article. Really disturbing - well, to me at least. U.S. 'negation' policy in space raises concerns abroad
Beginning next year, NRO will be in charge of the new Offensive Counter-Space program, which will come up with plans to specifically deny the use of near-Earth space to other nations, said Teets. The program will include two components: the Counter Communication System, designed to disrupt other nations' communication networks from space; and the Counter Surveillance Reconnaissance System, formed to prevent other countries from using advanced intelligence-gathering technology in air or space. "Negation implies treating allies poorly," Robert Lawson, senior policy adviser for nonproliferation in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, said at a Toronto conference in late March. "It implies treaty busting." Hints of such a policy showed up in the Rumsfeld Commission report of January 2001, which warned of a "space Pearl Harbor" if the United States did not dominate low-earth, geosynchronous and polar orbital planes, as well as all launch facilities and ground stations, to exploit space for battlefield advantage.
So, the next time you're wondering why it is this Administration is pushing so hard for an Anti Ballistic Missile system that doesn't even work yet, just remember this. It's a heck of a lot easier to knock down a single rocket putting another country's spy satellites into orbit than it is to knock down many incoming nuclear ballistic missiles. Yes, the ABM system will not provide any meaningful protection from incoming nuclear bombs. It will, however, provide an excellent platform for dominating low earth orbit. Again, bait and switch. Get everyone to argue about the idiocy of an ABM system and how it won't make us any safer. The real goal, however, is completely absent from discussion in a clueless media. It's crystal clear that this is their real strategy. Don't worry, our valiant Fourth Estate won't figure it out until it's way, way too late to do anything about it.

What a Tangled Web We Weave

Opened up my email this morning and I was greeted by the morning intelligence brief by StratFor. It just has to be read to be believed. Reproducing it in full because there's no link, and it's a pay site anyway. Take a gander.
STRATFOR'S MORNING INTELLIGENCE BRIEF U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, in a Vanity Fair interview, said the public justification for the invasion of Iraq was not primarily based on the fear of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Wolfowitz was quoted as saying, "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." Of lesser importance but explosive nevertheless was a BBC report that the British had deliberately exaggerated the presence of WMD in Iraq. The two stories, emerging on the same day, inevitably combined to create a shock in the international system. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld scrambled, later in the day, reasserting in a radio interview the original administration position. Wolfowitz's admission is an argument that Stratfor has made from the beginning: The United States invaded Iraq for strategic reasons -- to exert power against surrounding Islamic countries -- and used the issue of weapons of mass destruction to build an international coalition. The invasion would have taken place had no weapons of mass destruction existed. Wolfowitz's statement is no surprise to us at all. What is a surprise is that all of this is leaking out now, let alone while the United States is in a confrontation with Iran over the same issue and U.S. President George W. Bush is preparing to visit the Middle East. Wolfowitz's statement could have been simply a mistake. He has had many hours to deny making the statement but hasn't, leading us to conclude that it is true. It might have been simply a slip, letting the cat out of the bag, but Wolfowitz is not prone to making slips on this order of magnitude. A second explanation is that the administration is grappling with the fact that it has failed to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and has decided that the best strategy is to simply admit that the war's purpose was strategic, not about weapons of mass destruction. A third reason is that brutal bureaucratic infighting has broken out inside the Bush administration now, centered around the failure to discover WMD. Wolfowitz, feeling pressure over the issue, decided his strongest move was to go public with the truth, putting his critics on the defensive as naïve. As you can see by the many reasons listed, we really don't have any good theories. The idea of a planned leak is hard to believe. The idea of an accident of this magnitude is equally hard. We guess that leaves us with savage infighting, but this bit of savagery would hurt the administration as a whole and doesn't leave Wolfowitz looking too good either, to say the least. It always seemed to us that the cover story was not as effective as the real reason, but the administration seemed to believe that the international community and the American public would be more likely to rally around the WMD argument rather than the strategic one. Having given that as the prime answer, the administration found it difficult to switch gears in the middle. It has always seemed likely to us that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction, even if that was far from the primary reason for invasion. The reason for our view is simply this: If Hussein had no weapons and none under development, why did he behave as he did with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix? Why not let the scientists leave the country so they could discuss the nonexistence of nuclear weapons. Why not produce records of the destruction of WMD? Why not videotape the destruction process? Hussein was facing a war that he could not win where the public justification was false. Why deny the existence of WMD and then behave in a way that supported the plausibility of the Anglo-American position? Wolfowitz, in the end, did not say that Iraq didn't have WMD. What he said was that this was not the primary reason for going to war. However, combined with the British leak and the increasingly embarrassing failure to find WMD in Iraq, a serious firestorm is brewing. This will not occur only in U.S. politics, although the Democrats will be all over this. It also will change the tone of the G8 meeting this weekend. Most important, it undermines the credibility of U.S. charges against Iran and, at a time when U.S. forces are facing increased resistance in Iraq, it strengthens the position of the Baathist opposition, who can now portray themselves as the victims of U.S. duplicity. Wolfowitz's statement strikes us as generally true, although his explanation about withdrawing U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia as the prime goal is woefully insufficient. Why he felt a compulsion to tell the truth is more difficult to understand. Perhaps it is a trial balloon by the administration for explaining the failure to find WMD. If there is no firestorm, it becomes the postwar rationale. If there is a firestorm, Wolfowitz looks for an exciting new career. Bottom line: In the past 24 hours we have the report from CBS that the attempt to kill Hussein on the first day hit a building without a bunker in it; an intensifying set of claims that the hostage rescue was staged; Wolfowitz's interview; and the BBC report. The administration has started hemorrhaging credibility. It normally controls perception, and it has suddenly lost control. Very odd.
Well, no, not really. The fact that they've maintained control this long is the odd thing. I think they have finally overloaded their incredibly centralized system. Iraq is a complete madhouse, the economy is in the crapper, they have to start campaigning and then there's the whole middle east peace thing. Oh, and there's always Kim-boy over in N. Korea. Not to mention the Texas redistricting Fiasco. If Colin Powell really is as honorable as we all thought, and he really did just get duped by Rummy's "scraps of intelligence" (combined with his overwhelming sense of duty, as a soldier) then the phrase "brutal bureaucratic infighting" is a woefully adequate understatement. Right after Baghdad fell, the Right descended on Powell like a pack of jackals. Remember Gingrich's comments at the AEI? Remember the DOD pretty much saying that they should be running the State Dept? Well, you can bet your left eyetooth that they do. And just another thing. The "If Hussein had no weapons and none under development, why did he behave as he did with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix?" argument is getting pretty lame. There are tons and tons of reasons why. For example, he's just insane and put a higher value on Iraqi honor than he did cooperating with Blix. And then there's the little fact that StratFor themselves puts out "The invasion would have taken place had no weapons of mass destruction existed." So, if you're going to be invaded regardless of whether you have WMD or not, why the hell would you cooperate with the inspectors? It makes perfect sense to continue to drag your heels and be passive aggressive about the entire process. If nothing else, it buys you time and it just might work - after all, it had in the past. I mean, come on guys. You're intelligence analysts. It doesn't take much training at all to come up with half a dozen reasons why he would be doing this. Grow up. And then there's the interesting fact that Saddam is still alive. What if Saddam is really just making the US look like fools. He gives all the impressions to this Administration that he has WMD, leading them about like a donkey reaching for the carrot on the stick. He knows the US is going to invade anyways, so he becomes a rope manufacturer. He keeps giving them the rope and even offers to tie the noose. Then when the invasion happens, he slips out to an undisclosed location, knowing that they will find absolutely nothing. Then, when all the shit starts coming down around them, they're credibility is destroyed, and they are left with a huge bag of shit. As StratFor says, "it strengthens the position of the Baathist opposition, who can now portray themselves as the victims of U.S. duplicity." Then, when the US inevitably grows weary of the resulting quagmire, his party can possibly regain control, and then Saddam can return to set up shop again as the mighty victor against the US snake. After all, this is precisely what appears to be happening in Afghanistan, isn't it? You know, with the Taliban regrouping and starting to make inroads back into power? And then there's the reconstituted Al Qaeda phoenix, reborn from the ashes of the last year. I mean, really. How much are they paying these guys to not have a clue? Like I said. If everyone thought that we were going to lose face and credibility by not going to war when we had blustered and positioned hundreds of thousands of troops, just think how much damage this pack of jokers has done to the US. Far better to be thought a fool than to do something foolish and remove all doubt. All I can say is thanks to all you war supporters out there. You've done such a royal job of screwing the pooch that I can hardly believe it. Am I happy? No frickin' way. We're all going to have to pay for this insanity. All of us. And it's going to cost us a shit load of money, time, and yes, lives. Thanks.

5/29/2003

Iraqi Labs `Proof' of Banned Weapons, Fleischer Says Keep saying it Ari. Over and over and over. C'mon, I know you can do it.
``What else would those biological trucks have been for?'' Fleischer told reporters in Washington. ``There is now proof positive that he had these biological mobile trucks for the purpose of producing biological weapons.''
Uh, no. You don't understand how the whole proof thing works. You guys were already convinced, so saying that you're all convinced is a meaningless tautology. You see, you have to convince us. Well, not actually the vast majority of Americans, as they've lost interest long ago. Nope, you have to convince the rest of the world, where the power of your Third Stage Guild Navigator doesn't work all that well. Better start another war. Or get the spooks you've been using as a scapegoat lately to plant the WMDs. 'Cause you're making us all look like a bunch of complete dupes. I dedicate this song to Ari and his pack of Guild Navigators
People Talk by Talking..... I'm tired of the stories that you always tell Shakespeare couldn't tell a story that well You're the largest liar that was ever created You and Pinnocio are probably related That's a Lie....Hey, that's me playing harmonica You're a liar...Yeah, and I wrote this song too Lie, Lie, Lie, That's a Lie...Really I did, LL Cool Jay was over my house You're a liar...He heard me humming it. He said "Hey, that sounds good!" You lie about the things you've lied about You even lied to your aunt when you went down South You lied and a bodybuilder kicked your butt If you was in Egypt, you'd lie to King Tut That's a Lie...Just one glass of wine with dinner, officer You're a liar...Ahh, L.A., what a great place Lie, Lie, Lie, That's a Lie...No mom, I'm not on drugs You're a liar....Of course I love you My father said now son never tattle, never lie But I think he should have followed some of his own advice, I thought I'd own the world when I turned 21 Well, that's the last line 'cause now the song is done That's a Lie...Overbudget? Us??! You're a liar...Hey, we should have lunch! Lie, Lie, Lie, That's a Lie...It won't hurt, believe me You're a liar...I won't cum in your mouth That's a Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie! Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie! Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie! Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie! That's a Lie.......
Rumsfeld rejects Iraq WMD doubts Damn that dog pulling the curtain aside. Combined with Wolfie's inopportune revelations and the UK dossier fiasco... well, I think that Toto might actually have pulled the curtain away just enough to really get the Great Oz worried. They're going to start upping the amplitude and the special effects. But it's going to get harder and harder. The Iraqis aren't following the liberation script and are being a major pain in the ass. Pretty soon now, Perle is going to say something idiotic as well. Then Cheney will have to be unfrozen and trotted out like a CEO on a PR campaign. Wait a minute. Not "like". He is a CEO and every time he speaks it is a PR campaign. I used to work for a company who's CEO I always imagined as Bozo the clown. He'd show up at a client's site and climb up on the table with his big red wig and obscenely large shoes and then start to tap dance. The client would be dumbfounded - just sitting there with their collective jaws dropped on the floor in horror. He'd take this as "I knocked 'em dead - another great sales job" and then come home to torture his employees by regaling us of the successful meeting. Kind of like Cheney. Except he's the stern hobo clown, not Bozo. Anyways, listen to this
In his latest remarks he says the reason they have not been found up until now is because the government of Saddam Hussein had worked so hard to hide them. It is not because they are not there he says - the US believed they were there.
At issue is why they thought they were there. The British understand this. If you claim that you have proof positive of WMD and then you can't find those WMD you were so sure... Well, then it's obvious that you weren't nearly as sure as you thought you were. The entire thing was a sham. A Tiffin fantasy that Wolfie already admitted was just a bureaucratic compromise they thought would sell. They may be British, but they ain't stupid - unlike Americans. But it is cool to see them sweat. Maybe they are far more overloaded than they let on. Rather than engage in schadenfreude, I'll only say that the most terrifying thing of all is if really turns out that these guys are complete jokers who are way out of their league in reality. If they start to fail, then there is a whole lot of shit that is going to go down. Remember everyone saying that we'd severely cripple US credibility and such if we backed down over the war, seeing as we had blustered so much over and moved all those troops n' such? Well, just think how frickin' cool it's going to be when the entire facade that these idiots are basing everything on comes crashing down? Think we were going to lose a lot of face and credibility over not going to war? I can hardly wait... Gee, we'll have waged a clearly stupid preemptive war, shredded a shit load of international treaties, eviscerated a lot of international alliances, spent a shit load of money, got hundreds of coalition soldiers killed, and to top it off we've inherited our own personal Palestine (or a damn good facsimile). "Bob" knows we have to stay in there and clean up that mess, and only he knows how long that's going to take. After all, this fabulous brain trust that brought us this whole thing doesn't seem to have a plan as to how they're going to rebuild Iraq. These Iraqis aren't following their scripted version of reality, and it appears that Iraqis just don't give a flying fuck what the Great Oz commands. They have the nerve to have their own agenda and that's just not in the plan at all. Guess what Rummy? You'd better have a shitload of evidence planted that is a heck of a lot better than 3 rusty trailers with fermentation units in them. It's just not going to wash. And you can huff and puff and whine all you want, but unless someone starts seeing something tangible and not just the "scraps" of evidence that convince you and your band of merry men that they had WMD, British political heads are going to start rolling. Yea, the American public could care less, and it's not like you're going to lose the next election here on this issue. But overseas, they're going to start asking a lot of questions. And Tony Blair doesn't seem to have his own Great Oz to warp reality like ours does. They could care less what we all say or think. They have their own politics, and at the end of the day, the US doesn't mean jack when it comes to the British politicians going after each other's throats. Laugh while you can monkey boys. You may well end up screwing us over far more royally than any commie liberal of your darkest nightmares ever could.
I was pondering the stinky loaf that John Derbyshire squeezed out yesterday. His basic premise is that since public sector workers benefit the most by a bloated government, they should be disenfranchised - i.e., they should not be allowed to vote. So I wondered how Herr Derbyshire's theory would apply to the private sector. After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If your a stock holder, the last thing you want is a bloated company - nor bloated salaries for the employees. So here's the deal. Any stockholder who is currently an employee of the company, or in some way paid by the company - such as board members - should logically be prevented from voting on corporate issues. Makes perfect sense doesn't it? I mean, considering that CEO salaries have skyrocketed far faster than any runaway government program, and considering all the Fortune 50 implosions in the last year alone, I think that we could really do some good by implementing Herr Derbyshire's thesis. Don't worry. Just kidding.
Jimm has a great post over at his blog ForFreedomCentury as to what is really at stake in the FCC vote that is literally days away. I just can't help but have a small grin on my face, though. This whole media concentration crap is something that Noam Chomsky has been pointing out for literally decades. Granted that Chomsky has a lot of problems and issues. So do I. So does every human on the planet that ever lived and ever will live. Well, I guess the only exception is the Right, who are always correct and have absolutely no issues what so ever. But say what you want about Chomsky. He was dead right about the media and the manufacture of consent. Too bad everyone spent so much time deriding him and whining themselves about his style and his other faults instead of actually taking what they could from Chomsky and trying to head this off when it was much, much easier. Oh well, you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone. Pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Go read Jimm. He's a heck of a lot better at this than I am...
Historic Mars lander 'did find life'
Dr Gil Levin, a former mission scientist, says he now has the evidence to prove it, just days before the US and Europe send new expeditions to the Red Planet.
So we're not alone.
Know you've probably seen it but this is getting to be ridiculous. U.N. dossier on Iraq weapons 'unreliable'
An unidentified expert in Britain's intelligence network told the BBC the 50-page document contained unreliable information and was "transformed" on instructions from Blair's office in the week before its release last September, to make it "sexier." "The classic example," the BBC quoted the intelligence officer as saying, "was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use (by Iraq) within 45 minutes." In the dossier, Blair had warned that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could activate a chemical and biological arsenal in that time -- a suggestion that became a pillar of Britain's rationale for going to war alongside the United States against Baghdad. "That information was not contained in the original draft" that had been prepared for the prime minister, he said. "It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable."
Now let me see. What was it that Colin Powell said about this before the UN - before the entire world?
"I would call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed... which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities."
Again I say (to the wind) that there is a damn good reason to have a doctrine against preemptive war. It is precisely this kind of crap - dressing it up to make it sexier - that is inevitable in all of these "affairs". It is precisely that people are willing to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt that they can get away with this kind of crap.

Is it safe? Part Deux

Riot Chases Troops Out of Iraqi Town
In the third straight day of Iraqi violence against the U.S. military occupation of the country, residents enraged over house-to-house searches in this western town ransacked the police station, stoned U.S. armored military vehicles and set police cars on fire Wednesday. With a large, uncontrolled mob still roaming the streets as dusk fell, it was impossible to determine exactly what triggered the riot, but in a series of chaotic interviews laced with anti-American rage and threats of vengeance, residents said the problems began when police assisted the U.S. troops in searching local homes for weapons. As night fell, there was no sign of either the police or U.S. forces in the town, and plumes of pitch-black smoke billowed into the air as the remains of two police cars burned along a main street. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The Pentagon said it was aware of anti-American disturbances in several cities Wednesday, including Hit. Already this week, ambushes carried out in Hadithah, Baghdad and Fallouja have left four U.S. soldiers dead and 15 others wounded.
Again. Everyone laughed it off when we squeaked by in the war with Iraq. Because we had deep enough pockets to bribe the Republican Guards protecting Baghdad, Rummy's scripting of the Millennium Games didn't result in an unabashed quagmire of the actually war itself. However, as we are now all painfully aware, the war may be short but the aftermath is forever. The same pattern we saw with the Millennium Games, which is also the exact same pattern shown by the economic disaster known as the Administration's tax cuts, is also the exact same pattern we are now witnessing with the occupation of Iraq. Remember how we were supposed to be greeted as liberators? Well, except for a few dozen people pulling statues down in scripted affairs, there has been non-stop looting, rioting in Iraq. We're now on our second "administration" in Iraq, after the first one headed by James Garner screwed the pooch royally. We were told that Iraq was going to be unleashed in a libertarian love fest of free market capitalism which would flower into a liberal democracy. I know it's silly to ask, but why on earth does anyone believe anything these people say? They game the system by scripting the simulations, suppressing reports that show the opposite of what they are purporting. They suppress any investigation that might show us what a complete bunch of idiots they are. And everyone just seems to be okay with this. Amazing. It truly is an Orwellian world we live in. But I'm sure glad we're safe. Hey, hand me that drill. Yea. The rusty one. I'm going for that molar in the back.

Is it safe?

Blair faces revolt as US admits doubts Glad there's at least one democratic country who actually holds their leaders to a standard that's somewhere above sea level.
"Saying that they can't find the weapons, and they may never find the weapons, blows an enormous gaping hole through the case for war that was made on both sides of the Atlantic," Mr Cook told Chan nel 4 News last night. "That has to be investigated - a [Commons] select committee is one way of pursuing it."
Guaranteed. You will never hear any US media, nor any US representative utter these words.
British officials insisted there was no contradiction between the prime minister and Mr Rumsfeld because London and Washington agree on two key issues: that Iraq had banned weapons when the UN security council agreed resolution 1441 last November and that Iraq failed to comply with the resolution. This explanation did not wash with Mr Cook who said that Mr Rumsfeld's remarks proved that his own warning on the eve of war - that Iraq did not pose a serious threat - was true. Mr Cook told Radio 4: "Plainly it did not have such weapons or they would have found them by now." Saying that Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, should have been allowed to carry on with his work, Mr Cook mocked Mr Blair's claims about the Iraqi threat. "We were told Saddam had weapons ready for use within 45 minutes. It's now 45 days since the war finished and we still have not found anything ... We could have avoided this war."
And that is really the point. The whole theory of this preemptive war is that we could not wait. We couldn't wait another day, another minute, another second. We had to do it now before they used these weapons on us. I've been thinking about this psychology a lot lately. And it's pretty obvious to me that this Administration and pretty much the majority of the US population is nothing more than a bunch of fraidy cats. They are so scared of all the shadows out there that they must do everything they possibly can to make themselves feel safe. It's like it's a bad version of The Marathon Man. This Administration seems like the lunatic Nazi who's out to finally get his diamonds. And the rest of the world is like Dustin Hoffman's character. We're all being drilled in a tortuous attempt to prove what cannot be proved because the very premise is false. Face it. There is no way to be completely safe. None. The world is a scary place and it's our job to make it safer for the next generation. And what we have done is screw the pooch royally. We've pretty much drilled the teeth of the very people we need to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, not to mention the very people we need cooperation from to catch the very real bad people. It's a lunatic strategy that proves that those who are behind this are just frightened little men (and women) who are so scared of all the bogeymen out there that they are willing to torture, maim, destroy and completely dominate the rest of the world to make themselves feel safer. Guess what? It doesn't work that way. Never has, never will. Idiots.

5/28/2003

Protest mars Oliver North's appearance at fund-raiser
"Here these people say they are Christian and they support a man who funded today's terrorists and those who were running drugs to our kids," said Rev. Don Thompson, founder of Coalition of Concerned Patriots, a 30-member activist group.
Would that more people of deep religious convictions would show some of these same convictions and stand up and be counted against this kind of crap.
Oceania is at war with Afghanistan Iraq Syria Iran. Oceania has always been at war with Afghanistan Iraq Syria Iran.
The Phoenix Program
Created by the CIA in Saigon in 1967, Phoenix was a program aimed at "neutralizing"—through assassination, kidnapping, and systematic torture—the civilian infrastructure that supported the Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam. It was a terrifying "final solution" that violated the Geneva Conventions and traditional American ideas of human morality. (For a full introduction to Phoenix, see below.) While researching the Phoenix Program for my book on the subject, I conducted over a hundred interviews and collected boxes full of documents from individuals, as well as from the State Department and Department of Defense. The most important documents provided by any one individual came from retired CIA officer Nelson Brickham, the man most responsibile for the creation of the Phoenix Program. Luckily for history, Brickham kept copies of the documents he wrote while with the CIA; otherwise, there would be no documentary evidence of how Phoenix was actually created. During the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975, the CIA destroyed most of the documents it had about its assassination program, and none of what it kept at Langley headquarters can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. This is no accident, for Phoenix is the model for the equally terrifying US homeland security aparatus.
All I can say is Yi. Oh, and thank "Bob" for The Memory Hole.
Added Mobile Weapons Labs and WMD warheads to the scoreboard. Just to be consitent.
Pentagon was warned over policing Iraq
Robert Perito, a former diplomat who had designed a similar police mission in Haiti nine years ago, put together a detailed plan on how to deal with postwar lawlessness, warning that regular troops, trained to shoot to kill or retreat, were not right for the job. He wrote a report for the United States Institute for Peace and briefed the defence policy board, a Pentagon advisory panel, in February. He said the board had appeared to agree with his conclusions but no action was taken. "The need for specialised forces was widely anticipated, but they have only just got there and are going to be just in Baghdad," he said. "The damage has already been incalculable. The bombing campaign was conducted in such a way by the air force to meticulously preserve key government facilities, cultural sites, hospitals and other civilian buildings. But as soon as the conflict ended, those facilities were destroyed by looters." Similar warnings and recommendations were made by experts at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Atlantic Council, and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The Council on Foreign Relations study was overseen by a Republican former defence secretary and member of the defence policy board, James Schlesinger. It was presented to White House officials but its recommendation, that a police force be sent alongside the combat force was not acted on.
I can still hear this gem with Wolfowitz and General Pace on Meet The Press
MR. RUSSERT: General Pace, let me show you an article from Reuters a short time ago. This is the Army's top general -- repeated his estimate that a postwar occupying force in Iraq could be as large as several hundred thousand troops -- a number disputed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki told a House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations the military could only estimate what forces might be needed after any invasion of Iraq. It could be as high as several hundred thousand. He's consistent. GEN. PACE: Well, I think what he is -- the main phrase there was "could only estimate." And we don't know what the postwar Iraq is going to look like. It will be the conditions at that time that will describe how many forces, how many coalition forces are needed. The bottom line is that after we defeat the armed forces of Iraq that we will want to and need to provide stability throughout that country. It will take a certain size force. We don't know what size force. But it will be those forces that will stabilize the environment, allow the government to begin to rebuild, and allow the Iraqi people to select the kind of government that they want. MR. WOLFOWITZ: Tim, the important message to the Iraqis and to everybody in that region is that we do not come as a new colonial power, we do not come as an army of occupation. We come as an army of liberation, and we want to see the Iraqis running their own affairs as soon as they can. MR. RUSSERT: But it is a nation of 23 million people. And if General Shinseki believes it's going to take a force of 200,000 American troops, he should keep on saying that, shouldn't he? GEN. PACE: All of our leaders should give our best military advice whenever we are asked it. But you have, for example, in Afghanistan, a country that is larger, has maybe three or four million more people than are currently in Iraq, and the U.S. coalition force there is around 10,000. So to try to equate millions of people on the ground with how many forces are needed truly is not the right exercise. What you need to determine is what missions need to be accomplished, and then how many forces do you need to do that to give the Iraqi people a chance to rebuild their own army, get their own police force up, get their own government working, so we in fact can leave as quickly as possible. MR. RUSSERT: But in Afghanistan the only secure place is actually Kabul. The rest of the country is being treated in a very chaotic fashion. Are you concerned that unless we have a significantly large American presence in Iraq we could be creating another Afghanistan, which would be a haven for terrorists to come to Iraq rather than Afghanistan to kill Americans? GEN. PACE: Actually, in Afghanistan the only part that is really insecure is the part in the southeast border area. Most of the rest of Afghanistan is fairly well secure, and is in fact rebuilding. I am very proud of what we have been able to do in Afghanistan as a coalition, and I am very proud of the progress that is being made in Afghanistan. In Iraq, as I've said, we will need whatever size force is required to help them establish a stability to rebuild their institutions, so we can turn over to the Iraqi people their own country, let them build their own government, and let them become a partner in the world community.
Woops.
DR Congo going to hell in a handbasket.
Over the past four years, Congo's war has claimed more lives than any other. The International Rescue Committee, an American aid agency, says that by the middle of last year, 2.5m people had died because of the war in eastern Congo alone. Some were shot or hacked to death; many more succumbed to starvation or disease as nine national armies and a shifting throng of rebel groups pillaged their country. By now, the death toll is probably over 3m, although this is the roughest of estimates. As one UN worker puts it: “Congo is so green, you don't even see the graves.”
Three million people dead. What's the approximation on the number of people killed either directly by Saddam's brutal rule, or indirectly due to substandard living conditions and illness and such? Don't know the estimate, but I really, really doubt that there has been anywhere close to three million people killed in Iraq. So why isn't this getting a lot of air play? Certainly, there's nothing the US can really directly do. After all, we have that whole Iraq thing going on. But what about leadership in the international community to get something - anything - done about this dreadful situation? Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but regardless of what we personally lost or gained by completely trashing international relations and institutions over the Iraq war, the people who really ended up losing are people like those trapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Remember Kosovo? Of course you do. After all, the Right wingers have been constituently throwing it in the face of the anti-war crowd since the fall of Iraq. Remember how they were saying that no one was doing anything, and that the UN had failed to act and all that? Well, the whole darn scenario is playing out again. It's an incredibly tough situation where it's completely unclear how to deal with this crap. What's needed is clear leadership and a skillful diplomatic effort to solve this problem before it becomes a complete catastrophe. But given our international relations of late, I think that unlike Kosovo, the US isn't going to be doing any leading in this area. Another interesting fact about the situation is that this all started with another tragedy that no one in the international community - including the US - did anything about. Rwanda. Remember them? Of course you do. After all, the Right wingers have been periodically using Rwanda as another example of how pathetic the UN is at doing anything. Oh well. Guess we're just going to spend all our time looking for the other essential pieces to the Iraqi mobile bio weapons labs. Don't you think that the situation in DR Congo deserves at least this much attention from the brain trust of this Administration? How about the effort to get the Tax Cut passed. Think these people deserve at least that much attention?
Western powers seem barely to have noticed the catastrophe. This is partly because, unlike the Middle East, Congo has no strategic importance. But it is also because it is two-thirds the size of Western Europe, thickly-forested, incredibly dangerous and has hardly any paved roads or working telephones. Simply finding out what is happening in Congo is a challenge, as your correspondent discovered while accompanying militiamen on patrol by the shore of Lake Kivu last week, when he was forced to hide in a bush to avoid 200 hostile Rwandan soldiers passing by.
Yep, these people are doubly cursed. They're not living anywhere we have an "interest" and it isn't easy to get around. I am calling my representatives, though. The problem is simply not going to go away by itself. Pay me now or pay me later.
Intelligence report: mobile labs are the strongest evidence yet of Iraqi biological weapons Well, we'll see.
''BW (Biological weapon) agent production is the only consistent, logical purpose for these vehicles,'' the report says.
I think I'll wait for international, independent verification on that point. I wanted to actually read the report referred to in the article above,so I can draw my own conclusion. But guess what? You get a 404 Not Found when you attempt to get the report. But not to be deterred by cheap cinematic tricks, I changed the spaces in the URL to underscores and Viola! The report appeared. Click here to find the report the article above is referring to. It's interesting to read the actual report.
Coalition experts on fermentation and systems engineering examined the trailer found in late April and have been unable to identify any legitimate industrial use—such as water purification, mobile medical laboratory, vaccine or pharmaceutical production—that would justify the effort and expense of a mobile production capability. We have investigated what other industrial processes may require such equipment—a fermentor, refrigeration, and a gas capture system—and agree with the experts that BW agent production is the only consistent, logical purpose for these vehicles.
It will be interesting to have this verified by independent experts. But let's assume that this is a legitimate mobile bio weapon factory find. The question is then, was this sufficient reason to go to war? If all this does turn out to be true, the mighty Wurlitzer will take this as complete evidence for the correctness of the WMD justification for the preemptive war. "See? We have mobile fermenters that have no other explanation than biological weapons production. It's been a year and a half, and we haven't found the other pieces necessary to actually have a complete mobile bioweapons facility, but we're confident they will be found." I predict that will be completely sufficient for the American populace. But I'm still going to be asking about the 30,000 warheads, thousands of liters of Anthrax and Botulinum, and hundreds of tons of chemical weapons. Certainly all the nuclear claims made by this administration are laughably false. Then there's the means to deliver this and actual threaten the US. Namely, terrorist connections. On that front, we're still batting 0. Not that anyone is noticing or anything. I think that just a mere finger hold is all that the Great Oz actually needs to keep enough of the American populace satisfied. Certainly all of the media will be satisfied. After all, when you wage a preemptive war you don't want to hear anything that might make you believe you were lied to in its justification. Throwing good money after bad is a sadly predictable human reaction to things they are psychologically invested in, as Bill Bennet knows all too well. We'll have to see after independent experts have weighed in on the issue.
David Frum is a moron. Toady. Bootlicker. Tank wipe.
But there is a difference between union violence and those other forms of violence – which is that the potential for violence inheres in the most basic dynamic of what unions do. A strike is a very powerful weapon if the striking workers cannot easily be replaced. But it is close to useless if the workers who withdraw their labor can be replaced by other workers willing and able to do the same jobs for less pay. The only way to make the strike weapon effective is to deter and debar those alternative workers from accepting the striking workers’ jobs – and violence has historically been an essential tactic. And that is why, when a bomb goes off after a year of labor disputes, the disputing union seems like a very plausible suspect.
Looks like the Krugman Truth Squad is adding visual aids for their intellectually challenged readers. I just noticed that they have a picture of Paul Krugman on the graphic with the Sodium Pentathol kid. And that picture of the Dapper Don has always struck me as a bit odd. Kind of a subliminal promise to the reader that he'll stroke your ego long time, I guess. Eeewwwww.
Disenfranchise the Public Sector Herr Derbyshire is taking the gloves off this time. Can't wait for Busy, Busy, Busy's shorter version of this stinky loaf. I love it when everyone starts talking about the right to vote and who should get it. I was raised on Robert Heinlein and his wiley libertarian ways. Tip of the hat to Herr Derbyshire. Got to love someone who just comes right out and says what they're thinking. Makes it easier to tag the lunatics for tracking in the wild.
"You are like a stream of bat's piss" You shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark*. Granted, I'm slow. Rock on, Jr. Have fun with it. ___________________________ *Monty Python

5/27/2003

Something I wish all the supporters of the war with Iraq would read. I've railed on PNAC and such at quite some length. This is written by someone far more eloquent than I. Take a gander - again. And then tell me that they "mean well".
J. McIntyre over at RealClear Politics talks about the importance of finding WMD. He's one of the few right wing bloggers I link to because even though I disagree with him on almost every issue, he's not insane. He's reasoned and generally interesting - if wrong. But that's what debate is all about. Today he's railing against the NY Post's Sunday lead editorial No WMD's? So What? It's refreshing to see someone on the Right actually give a damn about actually finding the suckers, rather than just flit about with the various re-justifications that are now in style. Still, I got to wonder what McIntyre thinks about the level of threat that we were led to believe existed. Granted, no one really knows what we'll find in the future, but at this point I think everyone is pretty well accepting of the fact that the threat posed by Saddam was laughable at best. And still it was used as the reason we had to invade Iraq. McIntyre is still convinced that we're going to find them. Everyone is still convinced we're going to find them. Except, of course, the majority of the press who are now saying that it doesn't matter if we find them. There's a bit of a thread running through all this self denial, though, exemplified by the Post's editorial
If credible evidence emerges showing that Bush intentionally lied about Saddam's WMDs, that's a problem. (And we'll eat our hats.) If so, Bush's credibility would be shot. Not to mention America's.
But I have to wonder about all this. What exactly would "credible evidence" of Bush intentionally lying about Saddam's WMD look like? After all, before the war, those in favor of the war were deriding the inspectors for not finding the weapons they knew were there. I won't bore you with the litany, but clearly we were told that Iraq had all sorts of evil things - drones capable of attacking the US with biological and chemical weapons. 30,000 warheads ready to be delivered within 45 minutes. A whole lot of really scarry stuff. Now it turns out there's jack. A spate of stories over the last week has pretty much shown that the US is giving up on actively searching for WMD now, and is now combing through all the intelligence information they "liberated" during the capture of Iraq. Given that we have Dr. Germ and all the other really scarry bogeymen that we were frightened with, one would think that we would have a lot of information as to what was going on, and where. What's interesting - to me at least - about all this, is the incredible similarity the whole WMD thing has to the various "End of the World" cults that have peppered our history. There are still cults which have predicted the end of the world multiple times now. Some as high as 10 to 20 times. I can't find the name of the cult now, but there has been one in the US which has been regularly predicting the end of the world for decades - if not over a hundred years. The interesting question is why, when the world doesn't end, don't the members of the cult just leave in disgust or worse? This is a pretty interesting psychological issue. After all, when the prediction is made that the end of the world will be at Date/Time X, and then X passes and the world just continues on, one would think that everyone in the cult would just realize they were all bamboozled and move on to more productive belief systems. Instead, it seems the opposite occurs. In a weird twist, people who've investigated these cult members find that their faith is actually strengthened by these events which to everyone else prove that they're just a pack of lunatics. And so it is with the WMD Tiffin phantasms we were prodded to war with. McIntyre is correct to be pushing the fact that evidence of WMD does matter, but what's strange is that he doesn't have any metrics for what would have constituted a threat of the significance we were led to believe. I mean, we're just not finding anything at all. Nothing. The Three Mobile labs that the NY Post was touting as "a possible start of a stream of evidence" have turned up absolutely nothing. Although it hasn't been reported at all, our local news station here in the SF Bay Area reported last Saturday night that there isn't even a whiff of WMD - biological or chemical - in these mobile labs. Nothing. They keep bringing up the fact that these labs were cleaned with an unknown chemical which might have removed all traces of WMD production - an obvious attempt to keep the door wide open in everyone's mind. Oh well. I think it's pretty funny to see everyone so sure of something without even a hint of what metric they will use to judge the evidence. And the longer this takes, the higher the probability is that we simply won't care anymore. Bush has got all his scapegoats set up and ready to fall on their swords - i.e. the intelligence agencies. And since they have completely clamped the lid securely shut on any evidence that might point to the contrary, I'm pretty sure those Genies will stay bottled up until way after the 2004 election. But it is pretty odd. For all the talk from the Right for verifiable, provable and a cost based philosophy, they are mighty slack with the whole going to war based on imminent danger of WMD thing. And like a member of the various end of the world cults, it will only make their faith stronger when we finally determine that we were indeed fooled by this administration. After all, Iran is looking to be the next lucky contestant, and all the intelligence being used to justify that action - however it turns out - is looking just as laughable as the forged Nigerian documents that our President used to frighten us regarding Iraq. And when that starts happening, the facts on the ground will overwhelm the absence of facts regarding Iraq. And things will be moving ahead so fast that no one will bother to remember how we started this all off in the first place. Kind of makes you proud to be an American.
Well, back to pathetic loser blogging. I see that Atrios jr. has shown us all how it's done by enlightening us with the earth shattering news that CalPundit, Josh Marshall and Bob Harris are intelligent, informative bloggers. In other rather scarry news, my morning Stratfor intelligence briefing is about the two US soldiers killed in two attacks on US convoys.
These are serious events. An opposition clearly has been organized and now is capable of carrying out attacks on U.S. forces. These are not militarily significant at this point, since they do not affect the ability of the United States to occupy Iraq. But they do have substantial political implications. At this moment, the trend line on the U.S. occupation is downward. The perception -- and to some extent the reality -- of the situation is that Washington has not gained control of the situation in Iraq, that improvements have been slow in coming. The attacks, which must be assumed to be coordinated, indicates that there are forces still operational in Iraq that can reverse what progress there has been.
Hmmm. In scouring my news feeds, no one is reporting anything much on this angle in the stories about the two deaths. Over at that commie site, Iraqwar.ru, they have a sobering piece on the rising number of coalition casualties.
When the US military public relations agents staged the show with toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Paradise Square the total number of officially acknowledged coalition fatalities in the operation "Iraqi Freedom" stood at 148. Since then another 120 coalition troops, including 52 US and 62 Spanish soldiers, lost their lives in the war that's, according to the British and US leadership, is out of its active combat stage.
So that means we've almost lost as many people after we "won" the war (in quotes because it's not officially declared over yet) as we did during active hostilities. Now that the opposition - whomever they are - is organized, that number is going to rise significantly. Strange how you don't hear any "gee, you were right about the quagmire of Iraq occupation". Especially given the spate of articles over the last couple of days essentially saying just that.
US sends in extra troops to quell unrest
further 20,000 US troops are to be deployed in Iraq amid growing concerns that there are insufficient forces to bring law and order to the country after the American-led invasion
Ex-Iraqi Officers Threaten Protests, Suicide Attacks
"If our demands are not respected, next Monday will mark the date of the break between the Iraqi army and people on one side and the occupiers on the other," he said in reference to US-led coalition troops. "All soldiers and their families will protest peacefully in Baghdad and other towns on Monday from 10 am (0600 GMT)." The protesting band of officers carried banners saying "Better to have the throat slit than revenues confiscated. The Iraqi army demands its rights!", and "The Iraqi army is the army of the people and the nation!" "Death, death so Iraq can live!" they chanted.
Baghdad Is Asking, Where Are the Police? Unfulfilled Promises Leave Iraqis Bewildered
People are confused that U.S. military forces, assumed to be all-powerful, have delivered little. They are unsettled by the lawlessness that has encouraged religious forces to step into the breach and vigilantes to dole out their own brand of justice. They are bitter at the promises -- yet unfulfilled -- of a better life that would follow the war. To many of its residents, Baghdad is a capital both liberated and occupied, but most of all just bewildered. "The price was expensive," said Qassam Alsabti, an artist sipping tea at his Baghdad art gallery. "We all have conflicting feelings -- joy and grief. I see people happy they are freed from what once hung over them. But when you look at Baghdad, from up high, you see the efforts of 100 years wiped out in a month. We knew we had to pay a price, but not in this ugly way."
Top Religious Leader Calls on Iraqis to Resist Occupation
But hey, why only focus on the negatives in Iraq? After all, we won the war and had a wonderfully sober Memorial day while under Terrorist Threat Level Orange - just to keep us all reminded that we're much safer after the Iraq war. I give the Administration another four weeks before it starts completely losing interest in Iraq. After all, the problems with Iran are heating up. This is a really strange one, as Iran and Al Qaeda are not exactly friends. But then again, neither was Saddam and Al Qaeda. But seeing as how we still have yet to find even a whiff of WMD, nor have we found any terrorists links AT ALL... Well, it's not surprising that we're going after Iran based on another complete lie. It's like Deja Vu all over again. The pattern is pretty much identical. Make a baseless claim and then start pummeling the enemy with it. Iran, after all, isn't really the nicest of countries. It's ruled by fundamental religious nuts, and actually does support terrorism against Israel. So, if it were to disappear or have a regime change, you really wouldn't find a lot of people outside of Hammas that would shed too many tears. So the press, in its desperate drive to expose the truth, is talking about the talk. No analysis of the claims the Administration is saying. Listening to NPR talk about it this morning, it was pretty much the same as the build up to the Iraq war. No discussion about how the Taliban had a campaign against Shi'ite Muslims. No analysis of the rifts between the various factions of Moslems out there. It's kind of like discussions where Christianity is referred to only as a homogenous belief system, ignoring the bitter rivalries between the various factions. Anyone who's been to a Baptist church and raised the issue of baptizing infants knows precisely what kind of deep and bitter divisions occur amongst even the "civilized" Christians. Oh well. As far as I can tell, there really isn't much of a discussion going on in Congress as to the wisdom of instigating a regime change in Iran. I heard Biden say "slow down" on the talk shows Sunday, but considering that Biden's influence over this administration is just a bit greater than my ability to influence them, it's just a laughable quote opportunity for the media to lambaste the Democrats with. Speaking of lambasting the Democrats, can someone please tell me how we became the Communist party? I've heard this quite a bit now, echoing back through various sources. What the heck are we doing that's pushing for communism? I understand that a lot of this comes from the Limbaugh megaphone, but I'm even hearing formerly intelligent acquaintances parrot this back to me. This tar and feathering operation on the Right is really getting effective. Amazing. Well, that's it for this pathetic loser post. Off to further fun and adventure.

5/25/2003

Eschaton, jr. takes me to task for advertising on Eschaton.
Oh, and obviously, this goes for those of you who actually pay to advertise your blog on Eschaton. Are you kidding me? This is pathetic... You're actually paying for a link on another blogger's site? Here's the rundown of the current offenders of this "look at me!" phenomenon: Marduck's Babylonian Musings, Meme Cauldron, Where's the Soap?, and the Liquid List.
I'm hurt. Truly. Hmmm... What's more pathetic? Having a pathetic loser blog like mine, or kicking a pathetic loser blog like mine in the nuts?
Snapped a nice picture of the beast viewed as mounted in the vacuum chamber. click on the picture for a larger image In the picture, you can see the cage in the bottom half of the vacuum chamber. The top of the spherical chamber is just barely visible at the top of the picture, hanging from the hoist I just put in for this purpose. Heck of a lot easier to manipulate the system alone with this setup now. The high voltage feedthrough is the big white insulator on the bottom left of the picture. I still don't have the feedthrough connected to the cage, so I still can't do any testing. The fitting is pretty tight and I need to do some head scratching as to how to make the electrical connection. But I wanted to do a pressure test anyway, to see if I had any virtual leaks in the insulation supports. After much tightening on the five zillion bolts on the chamber, I got down to 2 x 10-6 Torr after about 1/2 hour of pumping. I'm going to have to replace all the Viton seals I have with copper seals... That'll be fun. The feeling had just returned to my fingers after installing the Viton seals... Closer. Getting closer. If you want to bore yourself with more details, click here.
Iraq Weapons Hunters Drop Outdated Leads Those leads were so twentieth century, dude.
In the war's early days, American officers said they expected to find such huge stockpiles of unconventional weapons that their main concern was whether they had enough people to destroy the materials. "It never occurred to anyone, not even for 10 seconds, that we wouldn't find any," said Capt. David Norris, who heads Mobile Exploitation Team Charlie.
Well, isn't that why you don't launch preemptive wars? Gee, you might be just being duped.
"The frustration level is increasing as we keep getting constant negative results," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, 42, who spent years in the Special Forces before joining the Pentagon.
Well, I don't know why. I mean, it's not like anyone back here in the US actually cares if you find any. Ask around. They're willing to give you two years to find even a whiff before they're going to start bitchin'. And even then, I think that's just being generous. They're just trying to give the impression that they actually give a shit... I give it another 2 weeks before the whole issue completely drops off the agenda at all.
The original teams weren't designed to carry out the kind of detective work that U.N. inspectors mastered over their years in Iraq, mostly because military planners were convinced such weapons would be easily found once Saddam was gone.
But you won't hear a frickin' peep from anyone screaming this from the roof tops just 5 months ago say they might have been wrong. Hmmm... Let's see. I have this Time Magazine I've been keeping around for just such an occasion. It's the December 23, 2002 edition. Kind of a Christmas present from Mortimer B. Zuckerman - editor-in-chief of Time Magazine. In the editorial by Herr Zuckerman entitled Put-up or shut-up time, he clearly states that the entire reason for the then impending war with Iraq was the entire WMD issue. Quoting JFK, Morti ended with
Forty years ago, President Kennedy observed that "we no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons constitute maximum peril." JFK acted. Today, the truth he enunciated is magnified a thousandfold, and it is to the great credit of President Bush that he recognizes it and is responding with the same courage and fortitude.
I guess now, we'll have a similar quote from Bush for the history books: "we no longer live in a world where only the actual possession of weapons constitute maximum peril". Just having people with the intelligence and knowledge to build them, should they acquire essential and blockaded technology, is enough to take the bastards out.
Frist Says Republicans Want To Make Bush's Tax Cuts Permanent Who'd have guessed? So I guess the 330 Billion is really over 800 Billion after all. Likely far higher.
Asked whether the tax cuts should be extended, Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat running for president, said, ``Well, it depends on where the economy is at the time.'' ``It depends which taxes,'' he said on Fox. ``There are some middle-class tax cuts that naturally you'd like to keep in place. There's other tax cuts that I think are extremely wasteful.''
Sorry. Liberal ceasefire or not. Liberman is just Republican-lite. If the choice in 2004 is between GW and GW-lite, I can guarantee the result. I'm not saying there has to be a hard left, but JHCORFC! There at least has to be something remotely resembling a choice.
Hamas: Cease-fire is a viable option Wow. Maybe there really is hope for something to actually work after all.

5/24/2003

Paul Wolfowitz and Frank Langella. Separated at birth? First time I saw Wolfie on Meet The Press, I thought he was Frank Langella on acid.
Shorter Paul Wolfowitz: I am become death, the destroyer of worlds
UK troops may go to DR Congo Thank "Bob" someone is paying attention.
Bush is on brink of decision whether to launch fresh military action – this time against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Hey, it's DEBKA. So make sure you have plenty of salt on hand when you read it. Just some Saturday entertainment for y'all.
A virus like SARS is found in animals Finally some 'splaining about SARS.
A virus virtually identical to the one believed to cause SARS in humans has been found in a catlike, tree-dwelling animal whose meat is a delicacy in southern China and in two other species, scientists here and at the World Health Organization in Geneva said Friday.
So that kind of upends the SARS from outer space theory. But I can't help but notice that this discovery comes literally right on the heels of someone claiming that it must have come from outer space. Almost like someone was upset by it. "I'll show that wacko"... "Bob" moves in mysterious ways, I guess.

5/23/2003

Blix casts doubt on WMDs
The chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said he was starting to suspect Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction in advance of the war on Iraq, a German newspaper reported today. "I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there possibly were none," Mr Blix told the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.
But... But... If Saddam had no weapons, then he must have been the stupidest person on earth, right? I mean, what earthly reason would Saddam have for not unequivocally cooperating with the UN inspection regime?
If that were the case, he said, Iraq's evasive behaviour in recent years could be due to Saddam Hussein's fixation with Iraqi honour and a wish to dictate the conditions under which people could enter the country. "For that reason, he said 'no' in many situations and gave the impression he was hiding something," he said.
Which apparently is an explanation that the entire US media, as well as the entire Congressional representatives of the US, as well as the entire Senate, as well as the majority of the US population apparently can't even begin to comprehend. I'm not saying that this is the explanation. All I'm saying is that it is a plausible explanation for why he didn't cooperate. It's what Bloefeld would do. James Bond would have to kill him before he submitted to the same inspection regime. But apparently everyone in the US - or the majority, which is all that matters - can't possibly think of any other explanation. He must have had them.
Mr Blix pointed to statements by Lt Gen Amer al-Saadi, who officials say led Iraq's unconventional weapons programmes and surrendered to US-led forces last month. "The fact that al-Saadi surrendered and said there were no weapons of mass destruction has led to me to ask myself whether there actually were any," Mr Blix told the paper. "I don't see why he would still be afraid of the regime, and other leading figures have said the same."
Hey, remember back when GW Bush said "Tariq doesn't know how to tell the truth"? And then what seemed like the very next day, there was a tape of Saddam - apparently alive and living in Baghdad under the coalition's nose? Remember one of the things that the "eight of spades" was supposed to be lying about was whether or not Saddam was alive? Face it. These guys have been subjected to every modern interrogation technique known. Given our treatment of the Gitmo prisoners, and those prisoners that definitely died under torture in Afghanistan, these Iraqi prisoners have likely been tortured as well. They're either fanatical monks trained like David Caradine in the Kung Fu television series with mind control techniques seen only in myth... Or we've all been handed a big bag of shit. At some point, Occam's razor has got to kick in. Which is more unlikely to believe? That he was a super villain worthy of James Bond, or we were all played like a cheap violin. What a bunch of aqua maroons. Okay, gotta get back to the mill stone. Another couple of hours and I get some shut eye...
Quotes like this keep me laughing down here on the 8th level.
Let's see: Clinton presided over a recession-free eight-year presidency. He used the first budget cycle of what looked for a while as if it would be a de facto Gingrich presidency to begin the process of destroying Gingrich's credibility, turning Newt and his mighty Contract with America into national jokes. But he's the bumbler. Meanwhile, Bush is Top Gun: he drives the economy off a cliff, but he does it on time.
As my Russian friends consistently point out, the one thing a population admires and misses about the old dictatorship is that they got the trains to run on time. Sooner or later, the Iraqis are going to be remembering that as evil as Saddam was, he got the trains to run on time. Maybe we were starving, but the substandard food rations showed up on time. And as everything collapses in America, we'll look back fondly because Bush got things done on a schedule. mental hygiene 4
Radio ID chips may track banknotes I actually am working with these RF ID thingies. The hilarious thing about this, is that with this inclusion, they will now be able to track how money flows in the system. You get cash from your ATM, and it notes which bills you were issued. You spend them, and that's now noted. Good bye anonymous cash.
Bush 'is on brink of catastrophe' Ya think? Gee, if I were a betting man like Bennet, I don't think I'd be betting the milk money on it. I mean, yea, it is all going to go to hell in a hand basket - nicely done up with a ribbon - but I doubt that Bush is going to get any blame for it.
THE most senior Republican authority on foreign relations in Congress has warned President Bush that the United States is on the brink of catastrophe in Iraq. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Washington was in danger of creating “an incubator for terrorist cells and activity” unless it increased the scope and cost of its reconstruction efforts. He said that more troops, billions more dollars and a longer commitment were needed if the US were not to throw away the peace.
Wait a minute. Isn't that precisely what the anti-war crowd was saying before the war? Remember? We were all laughed at and derided in the mainstream press? Heck, even Josh thought this wasn't going to be an issue - but he was "worried".
“I want to see evidence that the Administration is in this for the long haul to create a stable, democratic Iraq, and to acknowledge that this will place a significant burden on the American people,” Mr Lugar said. He referred to estimates that the reconstruction of Iraq may cost $100 billion, compared to the $2.5 billion approved by Congress so far.
Well, evidence requires that you actually have some inkling of what it is you're actually measuring. Some metric to use to judge your performance. And given the fact that the only measurement so far is the size of GW's codpiece, I can't really say that we're going to have an accurate accounting. Sure glad we're stirring the terrorist pot while our states languish in record deficits. Sure glad that 100 BILLION Is going to those Iraqis, and not to those bloated Democratic states. Wait. Even Andrew Sullivan points out that it isn't the Democrat's fault at all. In fact, Democratic controlled states' budgets have grown less than Republicans! Imagine that. But we'll just keep pulling the wool over our eyes. We're in it up to our necks now. And if there's one thing that is crystal clear from observing human behavior, it's now a matter of pride. We can't possibly think we did the wrong thing. We're going to ride out this black hole until we see what's on the other side. YEEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAWWWWW!
The head ignores the feet Gotta love it when the Economist weighs in on the obvious.
IN STATE capitals across America, there is only one story in town: the disaster facing state budgets. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states face revenue shortfalls totalling $21.5 billion this fiscal year, which ends in June—23% more than they thought in November. Barely a day goes by but local newspapers report a new cut in services. Back in Washington, the administration seems about as concerned as it would be by a budget deficit in France. In his original proposal for next year's federal budget, President Bush asked Congress for no extra aid to the states (though the deal struck in Congress this week would provide $20 billion, at the Senate's suggestion). Worse, the administration has piled new obligations on state and local governments without providing the money for them. For example, this week's raising of the national terror alert to “orange” will require states to spend more on security. The administration also insists on election reform—a state responsibility—and costly “vulnerability assessments” of water systems, without providing the cash.
All I can say is laugh while you can, monkey boys. Laugh while you can.
Feedback could warm climate fast
Now the Hadley team balances the books with a new holistic climate model - dubbed the Earth systems approach. "We can recreate twentieth-century climate and still have a strong positive feedback in the future," says the team's leader, Chris Jones. "You need to look at more than just greenhouse gases." One of the most significant factors in models of climate warming is future production of sulphates. These atmospheric pollutants, released in huge amounts by the burning of coal and oil in the twentieth century, actually cool the planet by reflecting sunlight. So as sulphate emissions fall due to clean-air regulations warming will actually increase. "It looks like [Jones' team is] about right," says Sarmiento. But he warns that modelling the importance of the feedback from stored carbon from oceans and forests of the future is a tricky business. "There is a lot of uncertainty associated with this stuff".
Yea, that uncertainty thing. What I find just completely and absolutely astounding is that the Bush Administration - and all the Right wing lackeys and toadies out there - require "absolute proof" about climate change before they're willing to even lift a finger to do anything about it. But weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Heck. All we need is some forged documents and some specious arguments containing the Al Qaeda bogeyman and we're willing to drop 200 BILLION dollars in one year alone - "Bob" only knows how much in the next few years. All I can say is that everyone must be a real pack of idiots. Willing to go to war at the drop of a hat over fraudulent and down right laughable evidence. Not willing to lift a finger to prevent or mitigate a global catastrophe. You guys sure have your priorities straight. And you're so consistent!
Sars 'from the stars' Okay, all you who thought my Alien Colonialist explanation of events was wacky, well... Just take a gander at this gem. (heh)
In a letter to The Lancet, the scientists, led by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of Britain's Cardiff University, say the Sars coronavirus is so unlike other viruses that an extra-terrestrial origin is logical. However, a number of Sars experts believe the theory itself seems to have come from another planet. The idea that Sars comes from the stars relates to a theory called panspermia. This says that life itself evolved somewhere out in the cosmos, and is carried from one planet to another on comets. Professor Wickramasinghe, who is a leading panspermia enthusiast, says the Sars coronavirus is so unusual that it could not have arisen on Earth. "The particular genetic sequences of this Sars virus appears to be dramatically different from all the other known coronaviruses; and that has suggested an independent evolution of that virus to be required."
Personally, I don't think SARS came from another planet, but since the actual fact that the SARS virus is dramatically different from all other known coronaviruses, I think that some 'splaining has to be done. While I strongly suspect that SARS is just something we didn't know about, there's a major difficulty in explaining how 35 base pairs mutated in such a short time. But like why we went to war over WMD Tiffin phantasms, and why on earth we're not holding our government accountable for it... Well, these things will just be swept under the rug with the 2001 Anthrax case and other such things as the use of Homeland Security Office to track down Texas democrats. Geesh! Well, the whip is a flickin', and I got's to pour some cement. Luckily I can do these posts over my PDA down here in hell. Again, their infrastructure down here is quite impressive. Blue tooth, 3G cell networks. The works. Ouch. That means I gotta go.
So, I'm reporting live from the 8th circle of hell. As you can expect, it's been a "hell" of a week. Lots of moaning and gnashing of teeth. The lead lined cape I was issued was a bit uncomfortable at first, but it kind of grows on you. I'm digging sewers down here. Just about putting the finishing touches on the latest civil works project down here. Apparently, there's a lot of shit going to come down the pike, and they needed to expand the capacity for handling it. Amazing how efficient Hell is run. You'd think with the high percentage of civil servants that this wouldn't be the case, but geesh. I guess the after life has a way of increasing your focus. In any event, back on the surface, it looks like the week was pretty much as I expected. More revelations that should have turned into a major scandal, with the press just yawning and taking some time to beat up on Sydney Blumenthal. Probably the most depressing thing I heard all week was the meme "Bush was FDR and WMD was our Pearl Harbor" poking its nose up to see the light of day. As amazing as it is to believe, people are actually starting to suggest that Bush is a greater hero because he used the hopped up WMD evidence to tip American opinion into going into this Just War. Demons were high fiving down here when they heard that, I can tell you. I even saw this kind of slither by on a Josh Marshall post (yes, they do have DSL down here in Hell. And it's pretty "damn" efficient, I might add).
Regular readers of this site will know I have very mixed feelings about Iraq and still find the arguments for having dealt with it militarily quite compelling.
Now when I read that, it was on the break from digging a 600 foot long pit in ossified human waste. Still, as disgusting as this job is, Josh's position still strikes me as completely odd. Certainly I've followed Josh throughout the build up to the war and through it, and I can't really tell what exactly he thinks we accomplished there. They have no WMD - which everyone down here on the 8th level is just laughing about, I can tell ya - that's clear. Not only that, but their military was a mouldy cardboard cutout of an army. We lost, what? A hundred or so US and British soldiers in the war? And half of those from friendly fire incidents? Antiseptic. Well, of course the civilian casualties aren't counted up yet. The way the government is dealing with that, I doubt they ever will. So, we had a regime with scant to no connections to any terrorists - other than an aged Palestinian terrorist - with absolutely no WMD's or even the capacity to make them. The country is in the middle of a stinking desert, and their military didn't even have the capability to threaten its neighbors, much less the US. And to put the cherry on this ridiculously high shit sundae, we find that Saddam - the evil, evil guy - is still alive and kicking. Again, what the heck did we do this for? Maybe Josh Marshall will be good enough to explain it to me. After all, I'm not a history buff and maybe there's something that escaped my notice in the non-stop torrent of fraudulent reasons being revealed over the past six weeks. Even though we have excellent cable services and high speed internet connections down here in Malebolge, perhaps some nuanced bit of hope escaped my fevered searches. I guess I'll just have to wait, as Josh doesn't answer my email requesting an explanation from him. And I can't find any buried in any of his posts or other writings. But this is a common theme amongst just about everyone I talk to lately. Strangely enough, Hell has excellent Cell Phone infrastructure, so I also able to keep in touch with various people I use to judge the direction of the wind. Everyone had the same story.
I'm still waiting for the results that will convince me that this was a good idea, and I expect not to be able to tell for at least a couple of years. If we can get a Palestinian state and a vaguely democratic government in Iraq in 2 years, I'll be very pleased by the results.
All I can say is "Wow!". Who knew the American people were so patient? So trusting? But that's the way it is when you have absolutely no standards of measurement to base progress on. As much as the Right loves to jump all over Liberals for things like "HEAD START" for being a waste of money because it isn't even doing what it was supposed to do - according to tests - and as much as the Right wants to make sure that no student gets advanced to the next grade unless they pass a test... Well, I can't find anyone who is willing to lay down a line to measure what the heck we're accomplishing in Iraq. Not Josh, not anyone. The goal posts don't even exist. It's all being made up as we totter about, doing our business. But hey! We got the tax cut passed! Dick Cheney was dragged out of his undisclosed location and cast the deciding vote - twice! Amazing to see the big Dick swinging that vote of his like he used to in 2001. Only half of what the Prez wanted. But what the heck? The whole bill is an elaborate construction of smoke and mirrors anyway. The only reason it is only 350 Billion dollars is because they "sunset" the very tax cuts that they're providing. And since the Right has already stated that they're going to make these cuts permanent... Well, I just got to ask how honest these Senators who were sticking to 350 Billion on principle really are. After all, all the sunset provisions of the first tax cut have now either been eliminated, or will in the next few months. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors. And down here in the eighth level of hell, you see a lot of that, too. So we enter a new enlightened age here in America. We seem to have perfected the "lying to yourself" mode of political operation. It used to be that the political lies were really small and for the most part, innocuous. Yea, there was a lot of pork in the budget, but at least people were working. Things were getting done. Money is the oil of politics, after all. But now it seems we're running the entire system on the political equivalent of Slick 50. Nothing sticks to anything these days, and the money is running through the system faster than a Nun's first curry. Yi! Yesterday I heard some Republican Yokel on CrossFire tell us that the reason that our first responders haven't gotten any money for their homeland security responsibilities is because they haven't filled out the right forms! You see? It's all really just a paperwork problem. If these guys hadn't been sitting on their asses for the past 20 months, they would have gotten their precious communication systems and funding for all the myriad of other things they need to do to keep us safe. Geesh. Paperwork. Morons. Well, my break is just about up here. I have to swig down the last of my mocha - yes, they have Starbucks down here, too. The Baristas are a bit odd looking, but the coffee is very good. The foreman of the crew is flicking his pain whip again, which means we have five minutes. I tell ya. As painful as it is down here doing this work, all I got to say is it seems better than living up there where y'all are. At least down here, there is no self-lying. Smoke and mirrors, sure. But everything is a smoke and mirror, so there's very little to fool yourself with. Everything is a lie. Up there, well... All you're all doing is lying to yourselves. And I got to tell you, it's hilarious. Oh well, back to work. Got to finish this before the slew of shit y'all are creating up there comes barreling through the pike down here. We're on a schedule, you know.