Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today's Not So Good News From Iraq

The attacks on US forces are still getting widespread support among the Iraqi Population.

47 percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on American forces, but there were large differences among ethnic and religious groups. Among Sunni Muslims, 88 percent said they approved of the attacks. That approval was found among 41 percent of Shiite Muslims and 16 percent of Kurds.

And if Sistani were to ever encourage attacks on the US troops, the support for attacks in the Shiite population would double.


George Clooney Had A Good Morning

He picked up three Oscar nominations today.

George Clooney picked up three nominations: as supporting actor for his role as a steadfast CIA undercover agent in “Syriana” and best director and co-writer for his Edward R. Murrow tale “Good Night, and Good Luck.”


The Complex Issue Of Supplying Aid To Terrorist


The complex issue Of supplying aid To democratic proto-nations that are now led by a political party that is tied to a terrorist group.

The need of aid to the Palestinian government is well established, and it's delivery is considered essential to the stability of the region. One of the major reasons Hamas has been able to take power war the perceived failure of Fatah to deliver this aid to the people. Without the aid, the situation in the middle east has the real potential to get much worse, very fast.

But, if do continue to send aid, you are sending aid to terrorist, the very same terrorist we have sworn to destroy.

So, we will try to create a system of sticks and carrots that lead Hamas to a more peaceful stand.

In a communique at the end of its meeting, the quartet said: "It is inevitable that future assistance to any new government would be reviewed by donors against that government's commitment to the principles of non violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map."

It is a poor option, but the only one that the western powers have. It is funny how reality can destroy the plans of those who think they can just ignore it.


Another Legend Has Passed On

Coretta Scott King has died at the age of 78.


Monday, January 30, 2006

A Bird Flu Death, In Iraq

This may be a bit of a disaster. With the country in it's current state there is little reason to think that Iraq or the US can effectually contain it. One bit of good fortune is this case occurred in the Kurdish north, the most stable area of the country.

If (and when) it moves further south, it will be uncontrollable. The current instability of the nation assures it.

As many as 12 cases may be being treated in Sulaimaniya Iraq.


The President and The Queen

An oldie but a goodie

George Bush is visiting the Queen of England.

He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people."

Bush frowns. "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to answer an intelligence riddle. The Queen pushes a button on her intercom. "Please send The Prime Minister in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room. "Your Majesty..."

The Queen smiles. "Answer me this, please, Tony. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Blair answers, "That would be me!"

"Yes! Very good!" says the Queen.

Back at the White House, Bush calls in his vice president, Dick Cheney.

"Dick, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says the vice president. "Let me get back to you on that one." Dick Cheney goes to his advisers and asks every one, but none can give him an answer. Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the next stall.

Dick shouts, "Colin! Can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!"

Dick Cheney smiles. "Thanks!"

Cheney goes back to the Oval Office and asks to speak with Bush. "Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin Powell."

Bush gets up, stomps over to Dick Cheney, and angrily yells into his face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"


Another Sign That Things Are Just Not Right

Every once and a while I just don't feel well. This doesn't mean that I feel sick, it is nothing that drastic, I just don't feel well. This feeling kinda flies under my awareness, it can be a slight ache, or a little queasiness, maybe just a creeping feeling of ick. Sometimes it passes, but all to often it means that very soon I will be really sick.

For 3+ years the economy has felt that way to me. The numbers tend to look OK, there isn't any one thing to point at and say that's it, but still it just doesn't feel well. I see friends who a few years ago were doing well, now struggling a little. A few more people adding second or third jobs. Talk about vacations is less frequent, talk about job concerns is more common.

And now just more information that, while not meaning we are sick, sure tell me we are not well.

As a nation, we now have a negative savings rate.

pushing the savings rate for all of 2005 into negative territory at minus 0.5 percent. That was the lowest annual savings rate since a decline of 1.5 percent in 1933, a year in which the country was struggling to cope with the Great Depression.

The rich get richer, The debt grows, and Bush still wants to give huge tax breaks to the very rich of this nation.

No wonder it just doesn't feel well.


Injured ABC Crew Headed To Germany

Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, both injured by an IED in Iraq, have been evacuated to Germany for medical treatment.

They had been traveling as embedded reporters with the 4th ID, but on this trip they were in a convoy of both Iraqi and US forces. It appears they were trying to develop a 'good news' story about the development of the Iraq force, when they were injured.

It was a propaganda mission.

Bob Woodruff was in Baghdad for ABC reporting the good news that the Bush administration complains is ignored by the news media, and he ended up as a glaring illustration of the bad news.


Enron Trial Starting

Jeff Skilling, and Bush's buddy, Ken Lay's trial is slated to start today with jury selection.

The Enron failure pulled back a curtain, and exposed systemic fraud and creative financing at hundreds, maybe thousands of companies. It triggered the reevaluation of books that may have played a part in other corporate failures, and has led to review of how big business does business.

One area that has still not gotten a lot of notice. How the actions of Ken Lay and all the other criminal executives have effected those who worked for them.

Jan. 30, 2006 When Charlie Prestwood retired to his small rural home north of Houston, after 33 years of working in a power plant, he knew exactly what he had in his nest egg.

"1,310,570 dollars and some few cents. That was my life savings," Prestwood said.

Today that nest egg is gone. Like thousands of other former Enron employees, he is still struggling to recover from his loss. He says at his age, 67, he won't live long enough to ever recoup that money.

Mr. Prestwood may be an extreme case, but there are many more who were effected.

It will be interesting to follow this case. He used a shell game, and a staff of accounts, and complacent auditors, to rake in millions. If he had used a gun, or blackmail, there is little doubt of what his fate may be, what will be the result of using business methods for this kind of theft.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Talk About Running On A Single Issue.

It appears Cindy Sheehan is considering a run for office.

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who set up camp near President Bush's Texas ranch last summer, said Saturday she is considering running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein to protest what she called the California lawmaker's support for the war in Iraq.

It's a free country (for a little while more any way), but I think if she does this it will actually reduce her credibility.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Iraqi's And Brits Are Not Playing Nice

It appears that the trust in the one area where a little once existed may be gone.

Basra's governor has threatened to suspend dealings with UK forces unless five police officers being held as suspected insurgents are released. The men were arrested on Tuesday in a British-led operation following an increase in roadside bombings.

Lets face it, the civil war has started, and peace keepers are not real welcome.


20 Years Ago

The Challenger, and it crew met their fate. One of the tragic milestones in the exploration of our universe.

While Christa McAuliffe is the name most associated with this mission, one of South Carolina's finest, Ron McNair, was also lost that day.



The Populist
You scored 60% individualism, 36% fatalism, 40% hierarchy, and 52% egalitarianism!
You adhere to both the Individualist and Egalitarian cultures. You oppose rules and customs that tell people what they can and can't do, and believe that everyone should be treated equally.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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Link: The Scientific Cultural Theory Test written by Stentor on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday's Collection Of Post Of Interest

Click over and give them a read.

The lies of Stop the ACLU about one case are dissected at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Badtux, the Snarky Penguin, see a message that all of America needs to embrace.

Want to know when it is science? At The Questionable Authority, there a very good primer about the 'science' of Not so Intelligent design.

Pam's House Blend examines just how extreme and silly some of our domestic spying has become.

Fiscal stupidity, Rob's Blog knows it when he sees it.


How Could Hamas Win?

And win big.

What few people outside the middle east consider is that Hamas is a two headed monster. It is a terrorist group that does blow up people and things. But it has another head.

That side of Hamas got stuff done for the people. They provide college scholarships, they run schools, they provide health care, they act as a safety net for families who have lost loved ones in their war against Israel. They are already doing the work that the old government was unable to do.

So while Fatah is seen as corrupt and unable to deliver the services of government, Hamas is seen as already doing what the people want.

But that doesn't explain the landslide in their favor. A friend has proposed a reason why Hamas got 60% and not 40% support.

The population has been further radicalized by a number of factors. The slow pace and one sided nature of the peace plan with Israel, the rise of Islamic extremism, and the ever growing hatred of the west and the US driven by the invasion of Iraq all have added a few percentage points into the Hamas political camp.

In effect, the US policies in the middle east, combined with the corrupt and inept leadership of the Fatah party, have led the people of Palestine to elect a terrorist group to lead them.

It will be very interesting to see what effect this has on the elections in Israel.


The Cover-up Starts

Now this could be about his Domestic Spying program, or his failed mine safety policies, but this time it is the hurricane Katarine response that Bush is refusing to cooperate in investigating.

Bush has declined to turn over documents that a Republican led senate committee wants.

Just like his failure in the Fall of 2001, it is clear that his administration was advised of the risk, and failed to respond. After the event, it is also clear that the response was inept and deeply flawed.

None of this information should contain state secrets or information about national security. There is no reason, other than to hide administration failures, to refuse to distribute the requested files, but still this cover-up was to be expected.

This white house is very good at hiding material that will display their true nature. It could be spying in the US, failure at security and safety, or cutting deals and accepting hundreds of thousands from crooks, the facts will be hidden at all cost.


The Alito Filibuster

Is being considered by a few democrats, led by John Kerry. The fact that Kerry, and not Reid or another democrat in a leadership position is leading this effort, is a clear indicator that there is not enough support for this step.

If he had one or two pro choice Republicans it would be interesting. This thin blue line will not stop Alito.

But, in a long term view, this may be a blessing for the Democrats. Polls indicated that Americans would not support Alito if he would vote to end Roe. He was never pinned down on this issue, but it is clear that Roe is done. The end effect is, when Roe is destroyed, and the public wants Roe (as it clearly does) it will give Democrats another political hammer to use against republicans. The reality is that is still years away, 2008 at the earliest, most likely 2010 or 12.

Unfortunately, the damage in the interim could do profound harm to the society, and will do profound harm to some of those who are directly effected.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

You Can Keep Saying It

But is doesn't mean you are not lying.

"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary," Bush told a White House news conference.

And, if he bothered to get a warrant it would be. Since he lacks a warrant it is a crime, and the reason is clearly outlined here.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

See, all the good stuff is here. We have unreasonable searches, warrants, and probable cause all in one easy to read portion. Mr. President, your actions are illegal and your efforts to defend them are disgusting.

Or do you think the constitution doesn't apply any more?


$53,000,000.00 A Day

That is the loss GM claimed for their 4th Quarter. Over $2,000,000.00 million dollars an hour, about $37,000.00 a minute for over 3 months.

And that is nothing compared to what we, as a nation, are spending every second in Iraq.

As I said earlier, just another US industry that has started it's death spiral.


Truth In Cartoons

An administration of pure incompetence


A Bit Of A Surprise

It appears that Hamas, a terrorist group according to the US, has won the Palestinian elections, and will be forming the new government.

I expected them to do well, maybe 40% of the seats, but it appears that they either are the largest minority block, or have won outright. It now puts the US in a position of having to deal with a government that is led by a political organization that we have declared to be terrorist.

This is also a very good example of how different the perception of what a terrorist is within various populations. We declare them terrorist, but it is clear that a significant number of Palestinians consider them something much closer to freedom fighters.

But, what's in a name? Just more fun in the ever changing middle east.

Hamas has done very well, winning 76 of the 132 seats. Fatah, share has fallen to 43 seats.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Earth II?

Well, not really. OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, is about 5 times as massive as the Earth, it's star is only about 20% as strong as our sun, and it's temperature is estimated to be about -364F.

So it's not that Earth like, but it is, in mass, the closest we have found so far.


The New War On Poverty

In South Carolina it is simply a war on the poor.

"The poorest fifth of households in South Carolina spend 7.9 percent of their income on state and local taxes, while the very richest spend just 5.5 percent of their income on state and local taxes."

And just think, the new tax proposals will do even more to help the rich, damage the middle class, and screw the poor.


Alito Has The Votes

With 50 Republicans and 1 Democrat on the record as planning to approve Alito, he had the votes to be confirmed.

But, not enough votes to break a filibuster, should the Democrats consider trying to block him in this manner.

Since the current crop of Democrats seldom have the stomach for a bloody fight, Alito will be approved, and civil liberties will soon start to erode under a court that is very out of balance.


After A Trial Separation

Disney and Pixar and joining forces, for only $7,400,000,000.00. It seems like a good mix, simply because Disney let itself get left behind in the evolution of animation.


Anyone Else Feel Like Saying I Told You So?

A new Pentagon funded study has found that the Army is, in fact, stretched to the breaking point. The second paragraph of the story says two important things.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency.

To put into plain language, unless we change the path we are on, we have lost this war. This is something that you will not hear anyone in the administration or the Army say in public. That is why the second half of this paragraph is interesting. We are being told that the situation in Iraq has evolved to the point that we can start to come home, this other reason can not be found anywhere.

He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

We will start to pull troop levels down because there are elections in 9 months, and because the Army is unable to sustain this level of deployment, but we will be told it is because the situation is improving. Just more spin and dishonesty coming from a group who used these tools to get us into this war.

Many of those opposed the war in Iraq are not anti-war, they were anti-this war. Before the first shots were fired it was clear to me that the risks far outweighed the benefits, that Saddam presented no real threat to this country, a that our chance of success in the long term was almost nil.

Those pushing for the war tried to scare us with mushroom clouds, germ spraying ultra lights, and sarin gas coming from the air conditioner. They promised greetings with roses, a cost under twenty billion dollars, and a jolly good romp in the sand for the lads in green.

Reality verses fantasy, and we see what believing in fantasy had brought us.

Rumsfeld has slithered out from under his rock to assure us that, "the force is not broken.". Of course, this is coming from one of those who were spinning such wonderful lies about what a threat Iraq was, and how they people would welcome us with open arms, so there is no reason to questions his veracity.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More Not So Good News From Iraq

From the with friends like these files; Moqtada Sadr, an upstart shia cleric, has informed his people that if Iran (the long time enemy of Iraq) is attacked, he will use his militia to help fight those who started the attack.

Just what we need when trying to force Iran to discontinue it's nuclear research, an armed force ready to attack our rear if we do try any military response.

Saddams's trial is again delayed. It appears that some of the scheduled witnesses were out of the country on pilgrimage.

At this rate Saddam will die of old age before they find him guilty and get to kill him.

And the US lost 4 more troopers today, two Army, two marine.


Get A Freaking warrant

Bush is busy trying to spin his spying on Americans, now by trying to rename the effort a 'terrorist surveillance program'. He again claims that targeted and limited. That doesn't change the fact that it also involved spying on Americans, and the fact that it is targeted and limited means getting warrants should be very easy.

New names, new excuses, but the same reality; Bush ordered the spying on Americans without warrants and outside the law. All the pretty perfume he tries to pour on the mess now can not cover the stench emanating from the pile of stuff he has created.


A Good Review Of The Canadian Election

Can be found at the Green Knight.


The Penalty For Murder?

Well, if you are Lewis Welshofer Jr, and you tortured an Iraqi to death, you get; a reprimand, a fine of $6,000.00 and 60 days restriction to work home and church.


Monday, January 23, 2006

US Air Force General Trotted Out

To try to spin the justifications for breaking the law and spying on US citizens.

He addresses many points, claims this is targeted, and limited, and may have prevented the World Trade Center Attacks.

great, fine, wonderful, just get a freaking warrant.

President Bush has also tried to spin this same lie, that we are only listening to Al Qaeda phone calls. If that is the case, go get the freaking FISA warrant. You, as officers in the military, as president of the nation, are not above the law. The FISA warrant is so easy to get, request have only been turned down 5 times, out of the tens of thousands (hundreds?) of requests, that failure to do this is inexcusable. FISA warrants can even be requested 3 days after the wire tapping was done. The whole process was established so that you have to actually try to break the law.

There is no excuse for spying without warrants. There is no reason to break the law, unless you are trying to establish yourself as above the law.

That is sure what it looks like George is trying to do.

and General Hayden, even if you do produce evidence of pending activity on the part of terror groups, why do you think this President will do anything. When he was advised only weeks prior to 9/11 that an attack was the goal of Bin Laden, you do remember what this administration did.


And when, after the attack, investigators wanted to see what the administration saw, you do remember how the they responded.

By trying to hide the truth.

Quit making excuses, and get the freaking warrant. It is a little unsettling to see so many people who are leading our country acting so cavalier about being criminals.


Mike Fair Is Noticed At Panda's Thumb

This is a real good review on his efforts to force Not so intelligent Design into South Carolina's schools.

Lets hope that the people of S.C, who want their children to get a credible education, notice and shut this foolishness down prior to its doing real harm to our kids.


The Death Spiral Has Started

and another US industry prepares to die.

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., the world's third- biggest automaker, will close 14 manufacturing facilities and eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs by 2012 after three straight quarters of North American losses.

The closings will include assembly plants in Atlanta, St. Louis and Wixom, Michigan, and two unidentified plants by 2008, the company said in a statement today on PR Newswire. The cuts were announced as part of the ``Way Forward'' plan, Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr.'s second restructuring in four years.

This is a cause for create concern, I am not sure Wal-Mart needs 30,000 new greeters. I hope McDonalds is able to find positions for those Wal-Mart can't. It does leave one to wonder if, within the next decade, any worker in this nation will actually be able to afford a Ford (or any new car).


Today's News About Iraq

So far no mass killings.

All the deaths we have seen mentioned today are, two Airmen killed by a IED, and a suicide bomber at the Iranian Embassy killing a few more Iraqis, both police and civilians.

Saddam's show trial is schedule to restart, and a new judge will be in charge, the old one wanted out. He isn't the only one wanting out. It appears that the educated elite of Iraq have decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and are leaving in waves.

In other Iraq related justice news, Chief warrant officer Lewis Welshofer has been found guilty in the death of Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush. It appears that this case may have met the definition of torture established by the Bush administration. Of course by the definition that the administration wants to use, if he had not died of the torture, it wouldn't have been torture, just aggressive questioning. The US standard of behavior has been at a level in conflict with both our laws, and treaty obligations. Unfortunately, our elected leaders don't care about obeying the law or keeping our word.

Just another day in paradise, over 1,000 days have passed and hundreds, maybe thousands more to go.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Getting Closer To Getting It Right

Deborah Howell, the Washington Post, corrected and defended a column she had written.

Her mistake was allowing the story to appear to echo the Republican talking points that try to leave the impression that the Abramoff affair was a bipartisan event. What is entertaining is, in her clarification, she still tries to let some of this spin stay in place.

I wrote that he gave campaign money to both parties and their members of Congress. He didn't. I should have said he directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.

Here in lies her defense of the sloppy work. Jack's clients have given money to both parties. (but remember, not Jack himself, he only gave money to Republicans)

Abramoff's Indian clients contributed money to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004.

So for every Democrat that got money two Republicans got money. This is her defense of her story, but here she again leaves out important information. Only among Jack Ambrmoff's tribal cleints do we see this trend in favoring the Republicans in giving.

The breakouts of donations that I have seen show that among the vast majority of tribal groups, the giving has always been heavily Democratic. This fact makes sense, but is never mentioned by Howell. Historically the Democrats have been the party that has gotten the majority of tribal votes, and been most willing to work on their issues. To fail to note this striking change in donation patterns, along with not clearly pointing out the truth about Jack (that he only gave to Republicans) just make it appear that Mrs. Howell is simply spinning the Republican party line.

Her work started a fire storm, as it should have. It was sloppy and appears to be partisan. Two things you don't like to see in news reporting.


The Whale Didn't Make It

Not a real surprise, but still disappointing.


OK, But Who Is He.

Your results:
You are Iron Man
Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test


Saturday, January 21, 2006

More Bird Flu Indonesia

Two children have died.

Two Indonesian children died of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the World Health Organization has confirmed according to health officials. The deaths of the 13-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother bring the total number of bird flu fatalities in Indonesia to 14.


Neo-Con Gets 12 years for spying

Lawrence Franklin, a neo-con in the Defense Department, has been given a 12 and a half year sentence in jail for passing top secret information to Israel.

A former Pentagon analyst who gave classified information to an Israeli diplomat and two members of a pro-Israel lobbying group was sentenced Friday to more than 12 years in prison.

Lawrence A. Franklin, 59, a policy analyst whose expertise included Iraq and Iran, pleaded guilty in October to three felony counts in exchange for having three other counts dropped.

Another great Republican American.


United To Leave Bankruptcy

After 3 years restructuring, United will soon exit chapter 11. Leaving behind thousands of employees, living wages, 100 planes, and it's retirement pensions.

Another proud chapter in American business.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Some Good Reads For Friday

Drop in and give them a read.

How powerful can art be? Daily Kos has put up a post on how one movie can effect one human being.

More lies have been spotted, and Bob Geiger looks at some of the ones told by Alberto Gonzales.

Over at Sacraments Wholesale it's Deja vu, all over again

Another facist trait from the right has been spoted at Blondsense.


You Don't See This Every Day

He is swiming around Downtown London. This is creating quite a stir, and giving the News Networks (and me) something to report other than real news. Overall a nice destracion, unfortunatly these events tend to not end well for the whale.




ID Is coming To SC

Despite it's dismembering in the Dover case, the South Carolina Theocrats can't resist the lure of Not so intelligent Design.

Mike Fair (R-State Sen SC) is leading this charge. He has even arranged for experts on this 'science' to speak to an EOC subcommittee, but what is real interesting is he tried to keep their names secret.

This is idiotic move, and it's timing makes it even more ironic. Today there is a story in the Vatican newspaper denouncing intelligent design.
The author, Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, laid out the scientific rationale for Darwin's theory of evolution, saying that in the scientific world, biological evolution "represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth."

He lamented that certain American "creationists" had brought the debate back to the "dogmatic" 1800s, and said their arguments weren't science but ideology.

The Catholic church understands, the world scientific bodies understand, only the dogmatic theocrats seem to be confused, and this is unfortunately very predictable.


Election Results Might Be Positive.

But it is a very big might.

The Shiite party, The United Iraqi Alliance, failed to get enough seats to establish the government on their own, and will have to form a coalition to rule.

This could be very good news, since it will force them to deal with other political groups and should temper their efforts to screw the Sunnis. The trouble is, the two Kurdish parties won 58 seats.

There is little doubt that the Kurds will gladly cut a deal as a partner in a coalition government that will care little about the Sunni. The deal will be simple and direct, leave us alone in the 3 northern provinces, and we will let you do what you want with the rest of the nation.

and that is not a recipe for a peaceful Iraq.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Mission To Pluto Is Launched

And now the decade long wait for it's arrival begins.


Bin Laden Speaks

Or at least, someone is claiming it is him.

CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

So this raises (if this is him) two questions. Is he so damaged that he needs a truce, this would be great news, and why is he still running around free. It took us less time to capture and occupy Germany, Japan and Italy than it has taken us to track down this one man.



22 more killed.

BAGHDAD, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Iraqi insurgents killed at least 22 people in two simultaneous bomb blasts in central Baghdad on Thursday, challenging a security clampdown on the capital ahead of the release of the results of last month's elections.


Republican Culture Of Corruption - Ca/DC

This one paragraph explains what is wrong with the whole system.

One day after a New York investment group raised $110,000 for Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, the House passed a defense spending bill that preserved $160 million for a Navy project critical to the firm. The man who protected the Navy money? Lewis.

There is a chance that Rep. Lewis (R-Ca) may have been interested in protecting this project without the $110,000.00 contribution. There is a chance that Cerberus Capital Management (A NY, not a California company) would want to contribute money to a California based Representative. But to think that a quid-pro-quo may not be involved is very naive.

Yesterday the Republicans introduced a 'reform' plan that had loophole the size of Wyoming, that would have allowed the current system to continue. Today the Democrats have released their ideas. It will be interesting to see of they are any more interested in real reform.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Bloody Day In Iraq

It has been relatively quiet for almost a week, but the killing has started again. Car-bombs and gunmen have killed dozens today.

Relative is the key word, Iraq was quiet by current Iraqi standards, but was still a very deadly and dangerous place. It is just that people were not being killed at the rate that attracted the media's notice.

One act that has gotten some notice if that an American reporter was kidnapped. The kidnappers have now laid down their terms, release the female Iraqi prisoners, or Jill Carroll dies.

In an interesting bit of timing, the Iraq's ministry of justice announced that six of the eight women being held by coalition forces in Iraq have been released early.


When Is Lobbyist Reform, Not Really Reform

When it is designed by Republicans.

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world at an interest group's expense and eat on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she also must hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly OK.

The Republicans enjoy their culture of corruption, so they designed reforms that assure it will continue. This is just more evidence that they approve of the criminal activity. Despite the flood of corruption, in congress there are currently zero investigations into any of these acts.

As long as they are the majority party, overt corruption and pay to play will be the way business is done in D.C.


Japan Following American business Practices

The Tokyo stock market had to close early after being hit by a massive stock sell off. This happened as a result of a criminal investigation of Livedoor, a high tech start up in Japan.

Panic trading spurred by a widening criminal investigation of a popular Internet startup forced the Tokyo Stock Exchange to shut down 20 minutes early Wednesday as share prices plunged for a second day.

It was the first time trading had to end early because the markets computers couldn't handle a surge of transactions. The benchmark for the Tokyo exchange slid 2.9 percent Wednesday. The Nikkei 225 index dropped 464.77 points

The Tyco, Worldcom, Enron business model appears to have fans in Japan.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hurray For The ACLU

The are suing both the NSA and Bush over the domestic spying they have been involved in.

NEW YORK - Civil liberties groups filed lawsuits in two cities Tuesday seeking to block President Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program, arguing the electronic surveillance of American citizens was unconstitutional.

The U.S. District Court lawsuits were filed in New York by the Center for Constitutional Rights and in Detroit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

I can't say I support all of the actions they take, but I can say I do fully support their mission.


A Victory For individual Rights

The Oregon assisted suicide law as been upheld in a 6-3 vote. Not suprizingly, Roberts voted against this.

While the Bush administration viewed this as blocking the governments right to regulate Doctors (or at least that was their argument), this is really about an individual having the right to do with their own body as they desire.

That is a freedom, liberty, right that no person of sound mind should ever have restricted.


The Indentured Servitude Act Of 2005

Better known as the new bankruptcy law, has had little impact in the number of people who have to file bankruptcy.

A toughened bankruptcy law requiring debtors to seek credit counseling is doing to little to curb the number of consumers filing for bankruptcy

It makes one wonder why.

While the new law, which took effect late last year, requires debtors to seek counseling in hopes that it will steer them toward repayment plans instead of bankruptcy court, counseling agencies said most debtors are too far in financial trouble to qualify for a debt-management plan.

No kidding, that is exactly why they are talking about bankruptcy. For the vast majority of people this is not a step taken lightly, but out of desperation. By an overwhelming majority, families are driven in bankruptcy not by unfettered spending on dinners out, and new gadgets, but by lost jobs, medical disasters, natural disasters or other calamities outside the control of the family, and counseling does nothing to help in these case.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Another Bird Flu Death

A 12 yearold in Turkey.

ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- A 12-year-old girl who died Sunday has tested positive for the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu, health officials said, bringing Turkey's death toll from the virus to four and the number of its human cases to 20.

The only good news is that it appears that the mortality rate is declining, but with such a small sample it is impossible to tell.


Another Helicopter Down

This time in the Baghdad area.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. helicopter went down north of Baghdad on Monday, a U.S. military official said.

The official said the helicopter usually has a two-person crew and was being used by the U.S. Army's Task Force Iron Horse.

And in Afghanistan, suicide bomber kills 27.


Republican Culture Of Corruption - Ohio/DC

Another Republican who has ethics issues (may be facing jail time) has stepped back from his chairmanship.

WASHINGTON Jan 15, 2006 Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican implicated in a lobbying corruption investigation, said Sunday he will step aside temporarily as chairman of the House Administration Committee.

"Unfortunately it has become clear to me in recent days that the false allegations made against me have become a distraction to the important work of the House Republican Conference and the important work that remains ahead for the House Administration Committee," Ney said in a written statement.

They did a nice job spinning that denial of guilt into the statement, but I suspect Ney will be out of the house within the year.

Cunningham (R-Ca), DeLay (R-Tx), Libby (R-Administration) and Ney (R-Oh) have now had to take official actions as a result of their taint, and the investigations (yes that are at least 4 different crimes being investigated right now)continue.

Anyone notice a trend here, four different cases being investigated, four different criminal activities, yet all of the criminals appear to be from the same party; Republican.

Now that is a culture of corruption.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Top Judge Wants Out

He is citing personal reasons.

Rizgar Mohammed Amin submitted his resignation for "personal" reasons, the tribunal said, and not because of government pressure. It said the trial against Saddam and seven co-defendants would again convene on Jan. 24 as previously scheduled despite the uncertainties surrounding Amin.

I suspect the personal reason is a desire to not be killed, but it is just a guess.


The Trouble With The War On Terror

It is messy and requires a lot of good will, and we have used most of ours up when we invaded Iraq under false pretenses.

As example, we have again pissed off an Islamic ally. In our efforts to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, we killed eighteen civilians.

The weekend attack, believed to have been carried out by a CIA-operated unmanned drone aircrafts on Friday, left at least 18 people dead including women and children.

This, of course, has had political fallout.

Leaders of Pakistan's opposition Islamic alliance were preparing on Sunday to launch a fresh campaign against president Pervez Musharraf's government, as anti-US anger mounted in the wake of US airstrikes on a remote village in the north.

On Sunday, there were demonstrations in several towns and cities across the country as protestors vented their anger at the US. In Karachi, the southern port city, at least 10 thousand supporters of Islamic and mainstream parties joined hands in protest, in a rare expression of solidarity.

So not only do we not attack the right place or people, not only do we kill more innocent civilians, we also unite the radical Islamic and the mainstream political parties in the dislike for the US.

Another successful Bush operation.

Other groups define success in another manner.

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 14 -- Gunmen in the southern city of Kandahar on Saturday killed a former Taliban leader who had repudiated the extremist movement in recent years, siding instead with the U.S. presence and Afghanistan's move toward democracy.

Mohammed Khaksar, the Taliban's former intelligence chief, was shot in the chest, neck and head by two gunmen on a motorbike while he was carrying groceries home from a market around 4 p.m., according to his brother and the Kandahar police chief. He died instantly.

Just another day in our war on terror.



You scored as Pelagianism. You are a Pelagian. You reject ideas about man's fallen human nature and believe that as a result we are able to fully obey God. You are the first Briton to contribute significantly to Christian thought, but you're still excommunicated in 417.



Chalcedon compliant


























Are you a heretic?
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Readers Survey

Tim, at Crack the Bell, is running a readers survey. He has asked those who have stopped by here, to hop over there, and answer a few questions.

It's quick and painless, hop over and help out.


But, I Am Not That Fond Of Math

You scored as Mathematics. You should be a Math major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
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Kinda Cool

The Augustine Volcano is erupting for the third day.


People Who Hate Government Just

Do a crappy job of actually running government.

6 states have already felt like they had to step in to protect the elderly and ill who are finding only confusion and frustration in the Republican Drug Plan. A plan that was designed not to get drugs to those needing them, but assure fat profits for the drug company. A drug plan so flawed Bush had to lie about the cost (to the order of hundreds of billions of dollars) and twist arms just to get it passed.

But his Republican minions in the Congress did pass it, and now we have a drug plan that only the drug companies love. But what do you expect from a group of people who subscribe to Grover Norquist's view of government:

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."


Another Reason Iraq Was A Mistake

That mistake has radically reduced out options about Iran.

WASHINGTON : President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in their first meeting since her election, presented a united front Friday against an Iranian nuclear program that Bush called "a grave threat to the security of the world."


Bush praised Germany's cooperation but insisted that it was not yet time to talk about sanctions against Iran, a step that could reopen divisions between Washington and Berlin. Of the three European countries involved in negotiations with Tehran, Germany has been the least enthusiastic about joining the United States in pressuring Iran.

"I'm not going to prejudge what the United Nations Security Council should do," Bush said.

Our pressure over Iraq, our 'mistaken' intelligence, our arrogance toward 'old Europe' will not be forgotten. Now when we are faced with a much great threat we are far less able to meet it either diplomaticly or militarily.

Great work George.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Some Good Reading For A Friday

Click on over and check them out.

Over at Loaded Mouth, Kathy takes a look at the economy, and issues a warning; Don't Believe Everything You Read.

What happens if you put today's American population in the American colonies in 1775? Battux has one view of the result.

The Green Knight (and many others he links) has noticed the obvious lack of understanding of priorities in the US news.

Is a tradition of supporting 'the big guy' a positive or negative? Dean at Cross-Border Tag Team considers this

More Not So Good News From Iraq

It seems that this latest turning point (the elections) just means an increase, not a decrease in violence, at least according to the US military.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- More violence will engulf Iraq in the weeks ahead as the country's splintered politicians and religious groups struggle to form a government, the U.S. military predicted Thursday.

The warning followed a week marked by what U.S. Brig. Gen. Donald Alston described as "horrific attacks," amid deteriorating relations between Iraq's largest Shi'ite religious group and Sunni Arabs who make up the core of the opposition

Traditionally the phrase turning point was a positive, but we seem determined to redefine it. Maybe it is time to stop creating turning points in Iraq, and try to create some stability.

In addition, another helicopter has crashed, a guardsman has died from injured received Christmas eve, and Iraqi security forces are again shown to be unable or unwilling to do their job.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 12 -- On Nov. 22, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq handed over Saddam Hussein's most lavish palace compound to the safekeeping and control of the new Iraqi army and government, in a ceremony whose intended symbolism was as impossible to ignore as the military brass band.


But in the days after American forces and the Iraqi brass band pulled out of the circular palace drive on a bluff overlooking the Tigris River, local officials now say, looters moved in, ripping out doors, air conditioners, ceiling fans and light-switch plates from some of the compound's 136 palaces, leaving little more than plaster and dangling electric wires.

The culprits are some of the same Iraqi security forces and officials to whom Americans transferred control, police and the governor say.


Hi-Ho, Hi-HO Spending Like Drunk Sailors

We go.

Washington -- The White House acknowledged Thursday that the budget deficit would climb back above $400 billion this year, erasing the brief improvement last year and complicating President Bush's vow to cut the deficit in half by 2009.


Joel Kaplan, the White House deputy budget director, predicted that the government's shortfall would climb from $319 billion in 2005 to more than $400 billion in 2006, largely because of relief efforts tied to Hurricane Katrina.

That shortfall would be equal to about 3.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, a significantly higher share than last year and high for a country that is expected to experience its fifth straight year of economic growth.

It does make one wonder what the numbers would look like if Bush had not given millionaires hundreds of billions in tax breaks, if Bush has not chosen to invade Iraq (a war that he promised would cost no more that 25-50 Billion {some cost projections now run 2 TRILLION}), if we had real leadership in DC.

Instead we have run up almost 2 Trillion in debt in 5 years, and the fool thinks we are doing well. Welcome to Bush's America.

Gas prices drive up wholesale inflation


Bush Administration Still Running From

Judicial review.

The Bush administration took the unusual step yesterday of asking the Supreme Court to call off a landmark confrontation over the legality of military trials for terrorism suspects, arguing that a law enacted last month eliminates the court's ability to consider the issue.

In a 23-page brief, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said the justices should throw out an appeal by Yemeni national Salim Hamdan, an alleged driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden

It is stunning the lengths this administration will go to avoid having it's actions reviewed as to their legality. It is almost as if they know what the courts will rule.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Records Contain No Mention Of Alito

The records that started the Specter Kennedy spat yesterday have been looked at, and contain no mention of Alito.

Today, Specter said the records showed that Alito did not attend meetings in 1983 and 1984. ``He's not even mentioned in the minutes,'' the senator said.

``The files contain canceled checks for subscriptions to CAP's magazine, Prospect, but none from Judge Alito,'' Specter said. ``The files contain dozens of issues of CAP's magazines, but none of the articles was written by, quoted or mentioned Samuel Alito.''

No payment of dues, not mentioned at all. This, of course, leads to other questions. The first two that came to my mind are: Where are the rest of the records, or, Why did Alito lie on his resume.


What A Great Leader Our Army Has Created

When questioned about his actions, he takes the 5th.

WASHINGTON - Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, a central figure in the U.S. detainee-abuse scandal, this week invoked his right not to incriminate himself in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate captives at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The move by Miller -- who once supervised the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped set up operations at Abu Ghraib -- is the first time the general has indicated he might have information that could implicate him in wrongdoing, according to military lawyers.

What a fine example of leadership this man is.


Specter Caught In A Lie

Yesterday there was a bit of a dust up when Sen. Kennedy (D-Ma) was questioning Alito about his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a group that opposed minority and female admissions into Princeton.

Sen. Kennedy was asking about some documents, and asked that they be presented to the committee. The Chairman, Sen. Specter (R-Pa,) claimed he had no knowledge of the request, and when pressed on the Issue, basically accused Kennedy of lying about making the request, and failing to follow up properly if he did actually make the disputed request.

The was only one problem with this tack, Kennedy's office kept good records of the communication.

So, Specter was exposed in a lie, and the really exciting news that comes out of the days meetings is; Judge's wife cries. As expected, the distraction, not the news gets noticed.

Of course the standard practice of that party is to lie, just look at Alito's responses to the questions about CAP, and how the Republicans on the committee respond to his evasions.

That is why it s safe to say, Roe is dead, and god only knows what other civil right will die with it.


Feared Milestone Seen?

Scientist think that the Bird flu may have mutated so that it is easier to pass form birds to humans.

ISTANBUL -- Preliminary tests show that the strain of bird flu virus that has hit at least 15 people in Turkey has evolved in a way that could make it somewhat more hazardous to human beings, although it still lacks the capacity to be passed easily from person to person, international health officials said yesterday.

The next step in the evolutionary path may be direct person to person transmission.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More Not So Good News From Iraq

It appears the Shiia religious leadership plan on ignoring a promise given to the Sunni leaders to re-open the discussion on the final form of the constitution.

Last fall, as Sunni Arabs protested vehemently against the proposed constitution, the Shiite and Kurd leaders who dominated its drafting promised that a panel would be created which could recommend amendments during the four months following the formation of a new government.


The leader of Iraq's most powerful party indicated today that his group would block substantive changes to the country's new constitution.

I guess when you are given a mandate of 55% of the vote means you can break your word, and screw your enemies.


Just How Many Tips Are We Getting

Stolen from No More Mister Nice Blog


And as Iraqis see their own countrymen defending them against the terrorists and Saddamists, they're beginning to step forward with needed intelligence. General Casey reports that the number of tips from Iraqis has grown from 400 in the month of March of 2005 to over 4,700 last month....

--Bush speech, 1/10/06

In the week since national elections, police officers and Iraqi National Guardsmen said they have received more tips from the public, resulting in more arrests and greater effectiveness in their efforts to weaken the violent insurgency rocking the country.

--Washington Post, 2/7/05

U.S. and Iraqi officials insist they are getting more tips from Iraqis about insurgent activity since the Americans transferred sovereignty to an interim government last June.

--AP, 1/21/05

The U.S. military is reaping more high-quality intelligence tips from Iraqi prisoners than ever since it stopped using several coercive interrogation techniques after the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal in May, the American general in charge of Iraqi prisons said Monday.

--USA Today, 9/6/04

This leaves the question, if the number keep climbing, just how many tips per second are we now getting.

The list of claims of climbing tip counts now goes back over two and a half years


Bird Flue, 15 Sick In Turkey

and some people are starting to get very nervous.

the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation warned on Wednesday that bird flu could become endemic in Turkey and that the virus may be spreading despite all the measures taken so far to control it. The outbreak has spread rapidly across the country in the past few days from its source in an isolated village in the east, and has now reached the outskirts of Istanbul and Ankara.

The trouble is the flu is spread by wild birds into domestic flocks, and you just can't stop wild bird migration.

2 new deaths in China


Damn, I Just Am Not Creative Enough

Pet Rocks, Puka Shell Jewelry, Million Dollar Web Site, all very cheap to produce, and very profitable for a short period of time.

and it never occurs to me.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Another South Carolina Blogger

Don Black Jack, Shandon, Columbia S.C.


Roe Is Dead

Alito has said he respect precedent, and his position on Roe has changed in twenty years, but Daily Kos outlines, using his own words, the path Alito will follow to vote to overturn.

He did not clarify whether he still believes it but implicitly seemed to accept that when he argued that as a judge he would put his personal feelings aside and determine whether the doctrine of stare decisis compelled upholding Roe.

This makes it clear, Alito would vote to overturn Roe UNLESS the doctrine of stare decisis compelled otherwise.

As for stare decisis, Alito stated repeatedly that it "is not an inexorable command."

It seems clear that Alito will likely vote to overturn Roe if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court.


Good News In The Stem Cell Race

At least from a nationalist economic advantage point of view. The Korean scientist who claimed to have cloned humand for stem cell , Woo Suk Hwang, faked his work.

PROSECUTORS prepared to launch a criminal investigation into South Korea's disgraced king of cloning Woo Suk Hwang yesterday as an inquiry concluded he had faked almost all his groundbreaking data.

The veterinary scientist had achieved international scientific acclaim, nationwide celebrity status and millions of dollars in support from the South Korean Government when he claimed to have cloned human embryos and extracted embryonic stem (ES) cells from them.

Now, if we remove the absurd research restrictions we have in place, we again have a chance to take a position of world leadership in this field.


Alito Day Two Starting

The questioning will begin in ernest, and the Alito's tap dancing to avoid answering the questions will start.

There is little doubt that he is well prepared, since at least one of our S.C. Senators was involved in training him on how to not answer the questions.

Of course, this has led Geoff to ask a question: Sen. Graham, are you a "impartial evaluator" or a "partisan advocate".

Unfortunately, It is clear that the answer is he is just another Partisan.


Troop Numbers In The News

No, we are not talking about the withdraw of troops, but the number of troops we had in place early on.

It seems Beamer has published a new book, with loads of excuses as to how badly he screwed up Iraq. One of the statements he has made is that he wanted to triple the number of troops in Iraq. The White House, who has constantly claimed that all the local leaders had to do was ask for more, has confirmed this is true..

So if the White House position is all they have to do is ask, and Beamer did ask, why were more troops not delivered?

Well, it appears that since the military commanders didn't ask, Beamers opinion as the top US official didn't matter. Of course we all know why the local commanders didn't ask for more troops, they saw what happened when you did.

In April 2002, 14 months before Shinseki was due to retire, The Washington Post reported, quoting "Pentagon officials", that his replacement had already been selected. "In another unusual move, Rumsfeld has tapped Army Gen. John Keane, the No. 2 officer in the Army, to succeed the current chief of that service, Gen. Eric Shinseki, whose term runs out next year. Selecting a successor for the current chief so far in advance is highly unusual." This leak was seen by some as undercutting Shinseki's authority within the Army.

And the message was sent, don't ask for more troops, unless you want DC to pull the rug out from under you.


Welcome A New SC Blogger

Over at Not Very Bright


Monday, January 09, 2006

I Guess He Has To Go Free Now


DeLay, Changing Seats

His court case is marching on, and he lost another round today. That setback has not slowed him much, his drive for power and money appears to be as strong as ever. His latest actions make that fact very clear. He has been forced out of his leadership slot, but made sure his new position has not left him without power.

He is taking Duke Cunninghams's spot on the appropriations committee. Very fitting in this case, since DeLay has already been a recipient of gifts and cash from one of the same persons who made the Duke's stay in DC so profitable.

It does make one wonder if my Congressman is still one of Tom's big supporters, and Tim points out that he sure is.

He is one of the most effective and dedicated public servants I have ever had the opportunity to work with and I am honored to be his friend.

Joe Wilson's election to congress is proof that calling yourself Republican is the only standard the people in my district have. Joe has asked Tom DeLay, one of the most corrupt ellected official to ever disgrace DC, to attend his fund raisers. Wilson has accepted funds from him, contributed funds to him, and apparently approves of what for what Tom DeLay stands for.

Corruption at a scale not seen in DC since the Grant administration.