Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An Anti-Choice Victory

That was proper.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with anti-abortion groups in a 20-year-old lawsuit by ruling on Tuesday that federal law did not cover the physical violence by protesters cited in the shutdown of health clinics.

The ruling marked the third top court decision in the cases that began in 1986, when anti-abortion groups were sued by the National Organization for Women and others for their tactics, including violent demonstrations to block access to clinics where abortions were performed.

The reason is simple:

physical violence unrelated to robbery or extortion falls outside of the scope of the federal law, known as the Hobbs Act

One of those pesky little details in the law, a loop hole.


The Curfew Has Been Lifted

And the car bombs have started to go off.

At least 35 people have been killed and scores injured by four bomb blasts in Baghdad, a day after a curfew to stop escalating violence was lifted.

This is the 'normal' violence in Baghdad, it there is no escalation into massive reprisals they may be through the worst of this period of the civil war.

2 British soldiers have been killed, and the US has lost another one.


Talk About A Death Count Explosion

Over the last few days of civil unrest in Iraq, the causality reports coming from the army and other sources kept mentioning that there were a couple of hundred dead.

Today the number has changed, now reports indicate that over 1,300 killed.

As many as 1,300 people could have died in the wave of sectarian violence that swept Iraq following the bombing of a gold-domed shrine in Samarra, it was reported today.


Most of the dead had been shot, knifed or garroted, often with their hands tied execution-style behind their backs, the report said.

It added that the blood-caked bodies of hundreds of men lay unclaimed outside the morgue as distraught families searched for missing relatives yesterday.

These people have been killed by death squads; Picked up, tortured and executed. This is a Civil War that will be fought in a very unconventional manner. As long as the US has forces in the theater there is little chance of a more traditional war starting. That means is instead of combatants being the primary target, the general population will be targeted, by all sides. The end result for the people of Iraq is this will continue for a long time.

For those who have a lean toward history, and to give a sense of scale to these numbers, the first battle of Bull Run, the first major combat of the US Civil War, killed about 850 people.


Monday, February 27, 2006

The Republican Culture Of Corruption - Ga

Abramoff's efforts may have exposed another Republican who was more than happy to accept Jack's gifts, and vote for his projects.

This time it is Rep. John Linder.

following his trip to Puerto Rico, he supported all island measures Abramoff was lobbying on that came to a House vote.

The fact that these trips appear to have changed his votes is interesting, but that may be legal. Where he may run into trouble is Rep. Lindler (R-Ga.) never bother to report either trip in papers filed with the house. That is a violation of House rules.


Wow, 8th Grade

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!


Just How Destabilizing

Would a bankrupt Palestinian Authority be?

International envoy James Wolfensohn has warned Middle East mediators that the Palestinian Authority is in danger of financial collapse within two weeks


Without the money from Israel, the Palestinian Authority will not be able to pay wages, which could have a destablizing effect on the region

Israel has cut off funds, The US has cut off funds (and Sec, Rice has been busy encouraging others to do the same). All in the name of Middle East stability.

Just think about how peaceful and stable a population will be after it's wages, goods and services are cut off because of international actions. Just think about how this will make them love the US and Israel. This will assure a blooming of love and mutual respect between estranged populations through out the middle east.

See, isn't democracy wonderful.


Pulling Out All The Stops

In the effort to discredit those who have been pointing out the illegal and unethical behavior of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tx), some of Tom's friends in DC had the IRS audit a non profit.

WASHINGTON : The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas nonprofit group that was critical of campaign spending by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay's political allies in the House.

The lawmaker, House Ways and Means Committee member Sam Johnson, R-Plano, was responding to a complaint about the Austin-based group, Texans for Public Justice, from Barnaby Zall, a Washington lawyer close to DeLay and his fundraising apparatus

This sounds like a return of Richard Nixon to DC.

In the end the audit found no violations. As a result of the audit, the group starting looking into the basis for why an audit was performed.

But the circumstances behind the effort, uncovered by the group's director and founder, Craig McDonald, using the Freedom of Information Act, prompted him to allege that the audit was an abuse of the IRS' mandate. He said there was no evidence of wrongdoing in the complaints.

That is the key, there was a request for an audit, there were accusations of wrong doing, but there was never any evidence presented that would indicate any violations. Still the IRS did do an audit.

Are politically inspired whispers all that is required to trigger an audit? If so, I have a long list of groups who the IRS could visit, starting with Rick Santorum's Charity, Operation Good Neighbor.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

What Is Driving The Civil War?

There is little doubt that the insurgents, mostly Sunni, are a major factor in the US's failure to establish a stable Iraq. The random bombings, and attacks on targets, military, civilian and infrastructure, assure at least some level of instability.

But it appears that an extra catalyst is the behavior of the government itself.

Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed every month in Baghdad alone by death squads working from the Ministry of the Interior, the United Nations' outgoing human rights chief in Iraq has revealed.

John Pace, who left Baghdad two weeks ago, told The Independent on Sunday that up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior.

One point that should startle those who get their news from US outlets is just how long this has been going on.

He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution.

The US media has only paid slight attention to this aspect of the civil war in Iraq, and only in the last couple of weeks. This is important, since as long as the civil war was seen as being a one sided affair, with just the most radical of the Sunni involved, there is a reasonable expectation that moderates will put their faith in the government. When it becomes clear that aspects of the government are involved in trying to kill you, your family, your friends, you are far less likely to remain supportive of the government.

So while political and religious leaders call for calm, it is the people who have to accept this call. As long as the government is operating or allowing death squads to operate, there is little chance that the Sunni population will turn their back on the Sunni insurgents. As long as the Shia militias continue to exist, as long as the Ministry of the Interior continues to run death squads, torture centers and use summary execution as a tool of policing, the average Sunni will not turn their back on their radical insurgents.

As long as these dynamics remain in place we will have a civil war in Iraq.


Peace Is A Good Thing

You Are a Peacemaker Soul

You strive to please others and compromise anyway you can.
War or conflict bothers you, and you would do anything to keep the peace.
You are a good mediator and a true negotiator.
Sometimes you do too much, trying so hard to make people happy.

While you keep the peace, you tend to be secretly judgmental.
You lose respect for people who don't like to both give and take.
On the flip side, you've got a graet sense of humor and wit.
You're always dimplomatic and able to give good advice.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul, Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Even With The Lockdown

Sectarian violence continues in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 21 people were killed Saturday in Iraq, including nearly a dozen members of a family believed to be Shiite, as authorities imposed an extended curfew to prevent sectarian violence from spiraling into civil war.

So the lockdown will continue, and there is even now talk of deploying tanks into the streets to help keep the peace. With every hour that the revenge attacks continue to occur, the odds of a full blown open civil war go up.

And our nations hopes for departure, as defined by George Bush (They stand up so we can stand down) have taken another hit.

The performance of Iraq's security forces is also under scrutiny. The coalition has long portrayed the new Iraqi Army as a viable future alternative to US and British troops, but its behaviour since Wednesday has raised questions.

Why did it take almost 12 hours to set up checkpoints after the morning bomb attack? Why were bands of militiamen in lorries and pickups allowed to move freely about the city, killing Sunnis? Why were some Iraqi soldiers seen cheering on the death squads?
{emphasis mine}

In a moment of classic irony, today the pentagon is reporting improvement in the combat ability of the Iraqi army.


Rep. Harris (R-Fl.) and Rep.Goode (R-Va.)

According to reports they have been named by Michale Wade as receiving about $80,000.00 in illegal contributions.

The defense contractor who bribed ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (D) says he directed $80K in illegal campaign contributions to two members of Congress. In exchange for the campaign cash, a staffer for one of the members inserted a $9M provision that benefited MZM into an approps bill.

Not bad, an $80,000.00 investment results in a $9,000,000.00 return. The sad part, while the actions of Wade are clearly illegal, there is a reasonable chance that the actions of Harris and Goode are perfectly legal, immoral, disgusting, nation destroying, but legal.

Skippy had this to say about the current state of affairs within the republican party.

finally, a republican sex scandal even the msm can understand

abramoff was the pimp; foreign interests like russia's energy companies and the government of malaysia were the johns; the republicans in congress and aWol were the whores.

Only in this case, Cunningham, Harris, and Goode didn't need the pimp to make the sale.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Stuff Worth Reading

If you have a little time, click on over and check them out.

The curious manner in which some people end up on the no fly list is the focus of this No More Mr. Nice Blog Post.

Over at Panda's Thumb, a look at Ohio's actions to keep Intelligent Design out of the schools.

A Bill Moyers editorial is displayed at Seeing The Forest, a must read.


Iraq Appears To Be Calming Down

I guess that happens when ban daytime movement in four of the largest provinces, including Baghdad.

state television announced a curfew banning foot and vehicle traffic until 4 p.m. today in four central provinces, including predominantly Sunni areas.

You do have to wonder how long the Iraqi government can lock down the central part of the country, and what will happen once free movement is again allowed.

Another Shi'ia Holy Site Attacked

This time it was The tomb of Salman Pak.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Gunmen fired two rockets at a tomb sacred for Shiites south of Baghdad causing damage but no casualties, a Shiite official said.

The tomb of Salman Pak, also known as Salman al-Farisi, was attacked after sunset with two rockets

This sounds like a copy cat attack, or an attack seeking to avenge the attacks on Sunni sites and clergy that were carried out to avenge the attack on the Askariya mosque. It doesn't sound like a follow up of the initial attack, but I suspect there is a follow up coming soon.

Another UPDATE

The lockdown is extended another 24 hours.


The Corruption Is Actually Stunning

I just looked at the Guardian AP feed and saw this.

Ex-Aides to Ohio Gov. Plead No Contest.

These men got unreported 'loans' from Coin kingpin, Bush pioneer and Champaign leader Tom Noe.

The we see Contractor to Plead Guilty in Bribe Scheme.

This is one of the defense contractors that got millions of government dollard by bribing Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Ca.) to have him secure them defense contracts.

Then I open an e-mail referring me to this little gem, the Republican National Committee has spent $2,800,000.00 defending Jim Tobin in his vote tampering case.

A trifectia of corruption, all involving Republicans.


A Bad Day In The Philippines

There is a lot of general unrest, the president fears a coup, and has now declared a state of emergency.

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency after security forces thwarted what they said was a plot to overthrow her.

Clashes erupted as riot police used water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters defying a ban on rallying at a shrine to the 1986 "people power" uprising that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, The Associated Press reported.

This is real test for one of our Asian allies, and in an area where stability is a real concern. Islamic extremist exists in some areas of that nation, and instability will allow them more freedom to operate and expand.

Just another thing that we can't do much more than watch, wait and worry about.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

More US Dead In Iraq

Aside from the one hundred or more Iraqis killed in sectarian militia driven violence, seven US servicemen have also died.

A second bombing in Iraq has raised the total of Americans killed Wednesday to seven.


The Lying Nature Of Republicans

This is very telling.

When Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) was speaking to a small group of core supporters in the bustling berg of St. George Utah he has this to say about the nature of Saddam Hussein ties to terrorist. From the St. George Spectrum:

"And, more importantly, we've stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida,"
"Well, I shouldn't say nobody. Nobody with brains."

There is only one little flaw with this statement, it isn't in any way true. As any number of official reports, from the 9-11 commission on down have noted, there were no operational ties between Saddam and Bin Laden. In fact they were far closer to being rivals that allies.

Yet, Sen. Hatch is still feeding them comfortable lie. Lies they want to hear, and lies he wants to tell. It makes them all feel better about being wrong. It is a mask, covering their error, and error that has led to the killing tens to hundreds of thousands of people and spending of trillions of dollars.

But when Sen. Hatch is confronted about his statements, he lies about his first lie.

"Saddam clearly had a long history of supporting terrorists, but I was not talking about any formal link between Saddam and al-Qaida before the war, Instead, I pointed out that the current insurgency in Iraq includes al-Qaida, under the leadership of al-Zarqawi, along with former elements of Saddam's regime."

That is not only a lie, but a stupid and easily demonstrated lie.

All this just shows the desire of the Republicans to hold true to the initial lie, that Saddam presented a real threat, that mushroom clouds would be the result of not invading, that democrats are wrong in wanting an international resolution and not opting for the cowboy approach of George Bush.

History has proven them wrong, but if they can just hold on the lies, the ones about the ties to Bin Laden, the ones about weapons of mass destruction, even it is just between themselves, well maybe thay can pretend that Iraq was a good decision after all.


Well, I Guess It Worked

Who ever ordered the blowing up the Golden Mosque had to know it would inflame the population, so it's safe to assume that whoever they are they are very happy.

A major Sunni Arab bloc Thursday suspended talks with Shiite and Kurdish parties on a new government after scores of Sunni mosques were attacked and dozens of bodies found in a wave of reprisal violence following the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine.

Violence continued Thursday with an attack on a Sunni mosque in Baqouba, where eight Iraqi soldiers were killed in a bombing and nearly a dozen people were wounded.

Faced with the grim prospect of sectarian war, the government extended the curfew in Baghdad and Salaheddin province for two days in the wake of Wednesday's attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra.

This is bad news on so many levels, I just don't know where to start.

In the last few days we have gotten official confirmation that covert Iraqi government death squads are rounding up, killing, or arresting and torturing sunni Arabs. Now a key religious symbol to the Shi'ia has been destroyed, sparking overt violence against the sunni population.

And we get to play referee.

Over at Baghdad Burning this commentary can be found.

No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.

Hat tip to bending the third rail


Now that Congress And The White House

Have both put out reports outlining why the government failed so badly in the Katrina response, I wonder if they will actually start to do anything about the ongoing failures in the recovery.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Son Participated In One Of The Trials

When he was an infant, his Dr. asked if he could be included one of the studies of this product.

A new vaccine to prevent rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children, should be given to all babies, a panel of scientists says. That brings to 15 the number of diseases for which vaccines are recommended.

As was explained to us, rotavirus is very common, and the course of the illness can run from mild to life threatening. In our case those little drops did an outstanding job, not one drop of pedalite has ever passed his lips.


Attacking Symbols

Will fan the flames of hate much more than blowing up people.

And in Iraq, that is today's target.

An insurgent attack on one of Iraq's holiest Shi'ite Muslim shrines on Wednesday is almost certain to deepen divisions in a country ravaged by sectarian bloodshed and could nudge it closer to civil war, analysts said.

The Golden Mosque in Samarra is one of four major shrines in Iraq which are deeply revered by Shi'ite Muslims worldwide.

There have been attacks at other mosques across Iraq today, this is obviously a new tactic being rolled out to send a message.

Only, who is sending it, and why.

The obvious guilty party would be the Sunni forces, but since this can only inflame the Shi'ite population, you have to question it's wisdom if they did it.

In any event, it is just more fuel for the civil war.


Everyone Else Is Talking About It

So I guess I should.

It seems that many people are questioning the wisdom of allowing a firm based in the UAE to operate ports in NY, New Orleans and Baltimore. The British multinational that was running these ports has been purchased by a multinational firm headquartered in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates was one of only three nations that recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan. It is reported that they have been less than corporative in the efforts to tie up terrorist groups monies. The were where some of the 9-11 funds were transferred to the terrorist, and have participated in the illegal trade of nuclear technologies.

Many, even members of Bush's own party, think this deal must be stopped.

I think they may be right, but do wonder if the 'owner' of the company operating the ports really matter that much.

What I have found more interesting is the way the administration was blindsided by this. It again shows one bias that he has. This is a big rich firm, friends of mine have dealing with them, it is owned by very rich people, so there isn't any issue.

This is further evidenced by the lack of awareness of the sensitivity of this issue. According to the White House this was unanimously approved, after a rigorous review, by the Committee on foreign Investments. Since the port operator will also be involved in the shipping of supplies for the Armed forces, they were also deeply involved in this final approval. If this is the case, why did both Donald Rumsfeld and Peter Pace claim to have no advance notice and no information about the sale.

Could another bout of cronieism be exposing yet another White House lie.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Discovery Institute Disingenuousness Noted

When Mike Fair needed help in trying to get neo-creaionism into South Carolina's schools he called the Discovery Institute. This is a group who is promoting the idea of Intelligent Design (ID), the concept that all that we can not yet explain in evolutionary biology is because God did it.

They supplied Mr. Fair with a couple of people to pretend they were experts on evolution and speak to the EOC about why the new standards that would allow ID into the classroom were a good idea. Mr. Fair joined with Mr. Bob Staton, who is running as a Republican for the position of SC Superintendent of Education , and crafted some new language for the biology standards to serve as his Trojan horse in this battle. This is the same method that had been used in a number of other states, and is a calling card of the Discovery Institute.

Who is the Discovery Institute? They are the engine behind the drive for ID across the nation. They have been involved in Ohio, and California, Kansas and Dover Pa. The are active nation wide in the effort to make sure our science is religiously correct.

The make grand claims about their scientific efforts, and those who are working with them. One of the tools they have been trying to use is a petition signed by 514 'scientist and engineers'. They feature it regularly and it is often referenced in press releases.

The NY Times has taken a look at this petition and it turns out to be even less impressive than it first appeared.

Of those who have signed only a few over 100 are actually involved in sciences that touch on evolution. Many of those who signed, when questioned, admitted it was their faith, not science, that led them to sign. While many who did sign are respected in science, few are respected in sciences dealing with evolutionary theory. This is like asking a Nobel laureate in literature for an experts opinion on a brain tumor.

Like everything else that come up when ID is involved, when you looked at it closely you find scientific distortion or religion at it's base. They are driven by an agenda, not to find scientific truth, but to defend their religious truth from various scientific discoveries.

And this group is the driving force behind Mike Fair and Bob Staton efforts to define what sciences are taught to the students of SC.

What is the statement the DI is having these scientist sign on to, and what does it mean? Dispatches from the culture war explaines.


Bird Flu Impacting More Of Europe

Hungary and Croatia have both confirmed that the H5N1 virus has been found in their bird population and now even in London steps are being taken.

The Tower of London, home to Britain's Crown Jewels, has decided to keep its ravens indoors to protect them from the threat of bird flu.


To Darn Funny

When the latest budget came down the track, it included a major cut in funding for the energy department. Specifically, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory had it funding cut, resulting in the layoff of about 30 people.

Well, a miracle has occurred. Just hours prior to the president's visit to push his latest dead end idea, the administration has suddenly found the funds so the announced layoffs won't happen.

That is until everyone has forgotten the visit, thne it is an even money bet if the money will still be available, or of the layoffs will again be announced.

This is just about a photo op, not a real desire to properlly fund needed research.


Abortion On The Docket

The Supreme Court Will Look at late term abortions.

This law was struck down not once, but three times in three different circuits.

Since O'Connor was the tie breaking vote in the last time this issue came up, it is a safe bet that this medical option is now lost.


Monday, February 20, 2006

India Jumping On Bird Flu

It appears that the Bird Flu has hit the India hard, with one death already suspected, and dozens being tested. India is fighting back with door to door inspections, and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of birds.


The Question Has To Be Asked.

If the Bush White House is sure that the warrantless domestic spying they have done is legal and proper, why are they working so hard to avoid an investigation?

Is it just habit, or a true desire to hide their actions.


Talk About An Idle Threat

The US ambassador to Iraq is warning the politicians that they better start to play nice, or we might take our ball and go home.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned Iraqi politicians Monday they risk a loss of American support if they do not establish a genuine national unity government, saying the United States will not invest its resources in institutions run by sectarians.

Since polls in Iraq indicate that a significant portion of the population wants us out, and since the Shiia, who now control the security forces, and have Iran backing them, would love the chance to confront the Sunni's directly, and since the Kurds love the instability in the south since it gives the time to establish their own land in the north unnoticed; I think this little bit of advice could just encourage the various parties to stay further apart.

They all appear to want an armed conflict to settle the final details.

and to prove that Iraq is still Iraq, the bombings are starting to make a come back.

at least 24 people, including an American soldier, were killed by bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Welcome to the civil war Bush created.


I Don't Like This Law

But if anyone was going to get tagged by it, I am glad it was David Irving.

David Irving appeared in an Austrian court yesterday at the start of his trial for denying the Holocaust, saying his views had changed since he made his remarks 17 years ago.

If found guilty he faces up to 10 years in prison. Handcuffed and wearing a blue business suit, Irving, 67, appeared calm when he told reporters before the formal proceedings began: "I am not a Holocaust denier. My views have changed.

I am sure he views changed about the same time he realized he was facing ten years in jail.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bush's war on Democracy

Many of the President's international initiatives are driven by a proclaimed desire to spread democracy. One thing that he and his administration appears to not have considered is, what happens when we don't like who is democratically elected.

Democracy in the Palestinian Territory has resulted in a terrorist group being put in charge of the country. Now both Israel and the US have to deal with a group we have spent years denouncing. Sec. Rice is not only talking about the US discontinuing aid to the Palestinian Authority, but warning Arab states that they better not fund them either.

We are in a war of words with Venezuela, because of their leader Chevaz. A man elected twice by margins greater than Bush. Despite the fact he was elected and confirmed democratically, we don't like his economic ideas, so we denounce him.

With Iraq we see an Islamic party winning the election. This party will end up much more closely aligned with and Iran than the west. An Iran we denounce, despite the fact that it is much more a democracy than our friends in the area, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwaiti and any number of other non democratic but west friendly nations.

So, now not only do we have a war on Poverty, a war on Drugs, a war on Terror, but a war on Democracy (if that democracy doesn't happen to walk in lock step with the current administration).


Homeland Security

Who new this was part fo the job.

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - Montgomery County is retraining its homeland security officers after two of them marched in to a public library last week and announced that viewing Internet pornography was forbidden.

Homeland security can now double as our morality police. This just might be a very positive step. When the theocrats do take charge, the can just take the homeland security forces and turn them into the religious police.

Just tweak a few provision in the patriot act and all we will be both secure and moral.


GOP At It Again

They are again asking for church directories, to develop mailing list from.

RALEIGH - Some N.C. church leaders have asked their members to ignore a request made this week by the state Republican Party for copies of church directories that the GOP wants to use in voter registration efforts.

A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, which covers 46 counties, said the group does not share parishioners' contact information with anyone.


Is It All About The Power?

Your results:
You are Will Riker

Will Riker
Jean-Luc Picard
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Geordi LaForge
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Scott
Mr. Sulu
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Deanna Troi
At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test


Friday, February 17, 2006

A Few Posts For your Friday Enjoyment

Over at the Big Brass Blog, a quick look at the Chertoff testimony and 11,000 mobile homes. I told you he should be fired.

Ed is exposing Intelligent Designs's verbal Trojan horse over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

The amazing recurrences of the It's not my fault theme is noted by Orcinus

And speaking of Trojan horses, Sacraments Wholesale looks at the verbal Trojan horse that South Carolina's Rep. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) is trying to use, critical analysis.


Just Average?

You Are 90% "Average American"

You are average because you donate to charity.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.


Now This Is To Darn Funny

"Did man and dinosaurs live together?" Carter asks. A timid yes comes from the students.

"How do we know that to be true?" Carter says. There's a long pause.

"What day did God create dinosaurs on?" he continues.

"Six," says a chorus of voices.

"What day did God create man on?"


"Did man and dinosaurs live together?"

"Yes," the students say.

Mission accomplished for Carter

Welcome aboard a 'Biblically Correct Tour' of the National Center of Atmospheric Research.

guides claiming that evolutionist thinking supports racism and abortion. This happened on a recent NCAR tour


"My contention is evolution kills people," Jack said in an interview. "It's not that evolutionists don't have morality, it's that evolution can offer no morality.

These are the types of people who are pushing 'Not so intelligent Design' and other so called 'Christian' programs for public schools. When science conflicts with their faith based views, well the science is wrong and must be buried or distorted, their faith is beyond question. The scientist are lying because they hate God (or mankind, or 'Christian), the facts are false, the test are wrong, it is all a lie.

And, backed only by their personal faith, they want to decide how our children are educated.


Oversight, We Don't Need No Stinking Oversight

The Republican controlled congress is again abdicating is responsibility to act as a check and balance to the Executive branch.

GOP senators, White House block domestic spying probe

Senate Republicans blocked a proposed investigation of President Bush's domestic spying operation Thursday as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had reached an agreement with the White House to pursue legislation establishing clearer rules for the controversial program.

It can be spying on the citizen's of the US, or appointing unqualified political hacks to FEMA, there is no act that this Republican administration can take that our Republican congress can not ignore or excuse.

And just think back, this is the same group that spent millions of dollars investigating the Clinton's Christmas card mailing list.

Hypicritical and inept, the definition of far to many of the Republicans in the House and Senate.


What A Difference Twenty Years Makes

At least for some.

The concept of Global Warming first got wide spread notice in the early to mid eighties. The idea was still new and the science raw. People were interested, but not sold on the idea. The pro business forces of the world denounced it as a crack pot idea developed by scientist with nothing better to do. They spent millions or billions to disprove this idea. They worked hard to spread confusion and encourage a do nothing agenda.

Over the last 20 years, the conversation has shifted. It has become more difficult to denounce the event as not occurring, so now the pro business groups focus of trying to raise doubt about the cause, and keep the agenda at lets do nothing and keep researching.

But for many the questions that may have existed about Global Warming back when Reagan blamed it on the trees has evolved into a real understanding, respect and now some fear.

researchers using satellite data and other observations have made an alarming discovery: The rate at which it is shrinking has suddenly begun to accelerate.

It more than doubled between 1996-2005, due mostly to glaciers sliding more quickly into the ocean. Greenland is now adding a volume of water to the North Atlantic every two years that is about equal to the total in Lake Erie.

The finding is significant because it suggests that current estimates of Greenland's contribution to rising sea levels may be far too low.

But, the official position of our government is, let do nothing, it doesn't exist, and if it does it isn't a man made situation. With DC's elevation being only 10 feet above sea level, maybe as their feet get wet, some of our politicians will finally take notice.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Shiite Death Squad Caught In The Act

They were Iraqi Police.

The probe comes after a US general revealed the arrest of 22 policemen allegedly on a mission to kill a Sunni.

"We have found one of the death squads. They are part of the police force," US Maj Gen Joseph Peterson said. Sunnis have long accused Iraqi forces of operating death squads - but the claims have never been substantiated.

Just more evidence that we are in the middle of a civil war, and again our side is using death squads to terrorize the population.


It Is fascinating The Powers Dick And George Claim

Powers that most people thought were closely held and regulated, are, under this administration, secretly used by King George and Prince Dick for political gain.

"There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president but also includes the vice president," Mr. Cheney said in an interview on Fox News.

He said he had participated in decisions to declassify information, but he declined to say whether he had ever declassified information on his own.

What is not mentioned here is that these declassifications occurred so that the administration could selectively leak information in a politically beneficial manner.

I also wonder what power can the President not grant via an executive order? The power to arrest and imprison a US citizen without court oversight, done. The power to spy on US citizen's without warrants, done. The power to ignore the law at will?

King George and Prince Dick have created the ultimate ruling system, for the ruler. They get to make up and change the rules as they go along, and no one has the will, authority or power to stop them. They are not just above the law, they claim to be the law.

Nice work if you can get it.


Easy To Understand

A Hat Tip to Bob's Links and Rants

It Isn't Only Republicans

There is one Democrat in hot water, Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), is being looked at for accepting bribes to help along business deals. His case sounds typical, an ex-aid turned lobbyist making deals to help out the few at the expense of the many.

If he is guilty, like the many Republicans that are under investigation, he must go.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Intelligent Design Just Isn't Science

The ongoing battle to force Not so Intelligent Design into South Carolina's science classrooms is headed back to the Department of Education after the EOC voted 10-2 to add language to the Biology standards that would allow the teaching of Intelligent Design.

Fortunately, the Department of Education is the group that makes the final determination on the issue, the EOC point of view is just advisory (and political). Unfortunately, one of the persons who drafted the language that the EOC endorsed is Bob Staton, who is a Republican running for State Superintendent of Education.

It is clear that this is just another effort to force a fundamentalist Christian religious perspective into the public schools. Rep. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) is the big propionate of Not so Intelligent Design, going so far as to pay to fly in two Discovery Institute approved 'experts' to testify on this issue. He is arguing that "We've worked hard at coming up with some balance". The trouble is.

Science is not about balance.

Science is about proven truth and tested theories, and when you look at the history of the creationism movement (now the Intelligent Design movement) it is clear that creationism was not and Intelligent Design is not science. The Chicago Tribune has a good article that looks at how science that is being done right now, science that is only a few years old, is destroying the Not so Intelligent Design thesis.

ID tends to argue that some aspects of biology are so complex that they could not have evolved. These features had to have been custom designed by a higher being (this could be God, or Space Aliens, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Only 10 years ago they pointed to the Eye, the tails of sperm, blood clotting and immune system evolution as proof of ID.

Well in the last decade scientist who have been studying evolution got to the point where they could start to study these varied areas. Guess what, Those systems, once considered so "irreducibly complex" as to defy understanding are now starting to be understood.


This understanding is not coming in an effort to discredit ID, but simply as a matter of course in the ongoing study of the theory of evolution.

This is where it becomes clear the ID is not science. If Intelligent Design was the scientific principal in place, there would be no effort to study this. The question has been resolved, God (or Space Aliens or the Flying Spaghetti Monster) did it. Not so Intelligent Design is actually an anti-science, encouraging students to not ask questions.

And the Republicans in South Carolina think it should be taught to our students.

I guess it is getting close to the time to warm up the lawyers who took on the Dover case. As a concerned parent of two children who could be impacted, this faux science can not be allowed into our schools.


Absolutely Amazing

At one point yesterday 4 of the 5 most viewed stories in the Washington Post were about the Cheney hunting accident. Today, 4 days after the event, 3 new stories are in the top 5.

I know the post is a 'hometown' paper and if focuses on the local industry. But it is also an international paper and it is amazing that so many people care so much about a hunting accident.

Today we see an op-ed about how this represents the arrogance of power (they are right), how Tuesday mornings jokes about wearing orange ended after the public report of the heart attack, and anger and concern over the VP's continued silence.

This whole affair still feels overblown, and where everyone is focused seems a little off.

Here is a distilled version. The VP went hunting. He and friends were shooting farm raised birds, placed into the fields only after they were ready to hunt. There have been media reports that there was drinking involved. This is normal, hunters drink while hunting. When they were out the VP shot someone when trying to hit a bird. The police were not allowed access to the VP until the next day, the world was not told of the event till the next day, and when the news was released, everyone tired to blame the guy that got shot.

Is this more important than the new Abu Ghraib photos, more important than the new Bird Flu cases in Europe?, Iraq's civil war, Iran's nuclear dreams or the Katrina report?

Based on what people are reading about it is.

Cheney has been forced to come forward and address the event. It is nice to see that he is taking the courageous route in doing this. He will appear on Fox news, the official state controled media of the Republican party.


Ohio Backs Away From Intelligent Design

The Pro 'Not so Intelligent Design' language in the Ohio's biology standards has been withdrawn. Ohio tired to work in the idea of critically analyzing evolution into it's science standards, exactly what Mike Fair and Bob Staton are promoting in South Carolina.

But after seeing the results of the Dover case (both legal and political) and hearing about the ridicule the model lesson plan got from educators and the scientific community, the Board of Education closed the intelligent Design loophole.

Lets pray that Mike Fair, Bob Stanton and the other South Carolina creationist can see the end result of those who have been down this path before, and let this die.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Abu Ghraib, Again

The Australian TV show, SBS's Dateline, is planning on airing 60 previously unseen photos from Abu Ghraib.

MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.


Some of the photos are similar to those published in 2004, others are different. They include photographs of six corpses, although the circumstances of their deaths are not clear. There are also pictures of what appear to be burns and wounds from shotgun pellets.

The American shaming continues.


Bird Flu Now In Austria, Italy and Greece

No human cases yet, but it is in the wild bird population.

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has been confirmed in swans in Austria.
Austria's health authorities said the cases in two dead wild swans were the first to be found in the country.


It Is Not This Big A Deal

The VP broke a couple of minor hunting laws while participating in a canned hunt, accidentally shot a hunting partner, was very slow in letting the world know what happened, and appeared to try to blame the person he shot.

Since no one died, it is far more comic than tragic, and really isn't much of a story, but:

It seems like it is the lead on about every news web page, 72 hours after it happened. Even on the Washington Post pages, of the top five stories, four reference the Cheney incident. One looks at how this played with the late night talk show, CNN also did this story; An editorial, how can it take that long for the news to come out; A look at the White House actions and another editorial that sees this as an analogy about the way this administration operates overall.

In the end, it is just a stupid hunting accident. They happen all the freaking time, and if it shows anything, it shows that it can happen to anyone.

If this much attention had been given to the flaws in the Patriot act, or the truth in the Downing Street memos, or the lies that led to war, I would be thrilled. Instead four of the top five stories are about one rich hunter shooting another rich hunter instead of the farm grown quail he was aiming at. It just shows you what the people really care about.


Hackett Forced Out

Paul Hackett, a straight talking Iraqi war vet, who was planning on running for the US Senate seat of Mike DeWine (R-Oh) has announced he will not run, and may get out of politics all together.

Mr. Hackett said Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race, had pushed him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent.


He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

Paul was the 'everyman' candidate that America needs, and now he is stepping aside. A very sad moment for those who want real change in how our political system is operating.

Just more evidence that while the Democrats in DC don't like the way things in DC are being run, they want to make sure that when the Republicans are tossed out, they, and not outsiders, get to take over.

And that is only slightly better than the current crop of corrupt Republicans now running our nation.

Lynne at Bending The Third Rail has posted the notice Paul sent his supporters.


Monday, February 13, 2006

A Tenth Alabama Church Burns

And now a theory that a couple buddies are responsible. So, there is a little progress on the who, the why is still a total unknown.

Now, how long will it be till some knuckle draggers here is SC start to copy this behavior.


Over 4 Years Ago We Captured Afghanistan

For the most part we have ignored it since we decided to attack Iraq, but Afghanistan has been liberated for over 4 years now.

Today, four more US troops have been killed. The promises to rebuild and help develop this nation were just lip service. Aid had been promised and not delivered, and the resistance there is now copying tactics being used in Iraq. Once the US and NATO forces depart, you can bet that the war lords, drug king pins, and religious wack jobs will again find a way to control this nation.

The tragedy is, this nation could have been the democratic example that we wanted to hold up the rest of the middle east. The population was beyond war weary, and if they had seen real progress at making their life's better, a new hope may have been found.

But, we had other nations to bomb, and could not be bothered to properly defeat the old government and it's supporters, or properly support the new government.


53 Felony Counts, Up To 175 Years

One result of the Republican Culture Of Corruption.

Thomas W. Noe, the coin dealer and prominent Republican contributor whose $50 million state coin investment sparked one of the biggest state government scandals in Ohio history, was indicted today on 53 felonies.

Just another Bush pioneer, one time Republican Party county chairman, who criminal activity has at last been exposed.


Old News, But Patrick Sure Nailed This One

The Bush Administration is the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

The US Vice-President shot and wounded Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire lawyer from Austin, at a ranch in South Texas.

He was reported to have been hit in the face, chest and neck but was "alert and doing fine" in hospital yesterday after Mr Cheney's visit.

This is a classic non story, tragically funny, but of no real importance. This fact makes you wonder why it took a day to become public, and why would the VP's office have not released this information.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ibrahim Jafari, Prime Minister

Jafari has been selected to continue in his roll as Prime Minister in Iraq.

The Shia bloc set to lead Iraq's first full-term government has picked PM Ibrahim Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister in the new cabinet. Mr Jaafari won by one vote over Vice-President Adel Abdel Mahdi.

I guess the outstanding job he has done to date was just to good to ignore.


How To Not Win The Hearts And Minds

At least it isn't US troops this time

Details emerged last night of a shocking video which appears to show a group of British soldiers brutally beating and kicking defenceless Iraqi teenagers in an army compound.

The footage is said to show eight soldiers pulling four teenagers off the street following a riot and dragging them into their army base, before beating them with batons, as well as punching and kicking them.

The saddest part, this is no longer surprising.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Not All Republicans Are Racist

But it sure looks like all the racist are Republicans.

One piece of advice that I was given when I was young; You are known by the company you keep.

What does that say about the republicans who profess that they are not racist.


Sharon Has Emergency Surgery

A four hour operation to remove some of his intestines.

The Israeli prime minister's condition was good after part of his intestines was removed, the aide said. Hadassah Hospital said he was returned to the intensive care unit. Before the surgery, doctors said Sharon's life was in danger.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Sharon's medical condition.

Sharon's illness and Hamas's election victory has created unprecedented confusion in the Israel, Palestine arena. I doubt anyone has any idea what will happen over the next few months.


You Have To Wonder

How long can a nation keep shipping it wealth overseas, then pay interest borrowing it back, before it all collapses.

The United States racked up a record-high trade deficit with the rest of the world in 2005, setting off a political firestorm that's being felt from Washington to Beijing, roiling U.S. manufacturers and organized labor, and prompting Congress to consider new laws to rein in the losses.

The administration actually supports this and our congress lacks both the wisdom and courage to do anything. This means we can all watch in morbid fascination until the final collapse occurs.


Friday, February 10, 2006

A Few Post Of Interest For Your Friday

The Slacktivist takes a look at the abominable shellfish or Why some Christians hate gays but love bacon.

What is involved in the Guantanamo Bay forced feeding? The reality and images are sharp and clear for the Rude Pundit (warning, it's rude, adult language)

I am a Christian too has a very important list of health care 'fun facts' .

The nutritional value of a Bush speech is available at The Green Knight.

Bush's budget is Immoral, Un-Biblical and Anti-American, the details are at Sacraments Wholesale.


Just More Evidence

The truth was twisted or ignored to get us into the war in Iraq.

A former CIA official who coordinated United States intelligence on the Middle East has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war

Something I have been saying since the run up the war started.

Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq".


intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

Corruption and incompetence, the two traits the define the Bush years in DC.


Coverups Blown?

Two stories today appear to indicate that a couple of White House cover-ups may be falling apart.

After Katrina the administration talked about how 'everyone' thought New Orleans had 'dodged a bullet', going as far to claim it was a major newspaper headline (it was not). They claimed that the true situation was unknown.

They lied, and despite the efforts by Bush to prevent this, the facts are coming out.

Senate Democrats investigating FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina say they have documented nearly 30 instances in which federal and local government officials gave early reports on Aug. 29 that levees had broken and that New Orleans was flooding, including one report at 8:30 a.m. the day of the storm.

And the Plame cover up has taken a major hit. It appears that Libby has testified that his 'bosses' approved he leaking of a a high-level intelligence report. This makes the idea of the leaking of the name of a covert CIA agent much more believable.

The disclosure in a legal document written by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald demonstrates one way in which Cheney was involved in responding to public allegations by Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, that the administration had exaggerated questionable intelligence to justify war with Iraq.

Mr. Libby was a very senior person in the White House, his bosses were, the Vice President and the President and maybe Karl Rove. If they approved leaking material for political gain once, why not twice.

It is coming clear that when the President denounced the treasonous outing of a covert CIA agent, and assured us that the person responsible would be identified and punished, he was lying.

This is something that most clear thinking people already suspected, and as more time passes, and more evidence comes out, it will become clear to all.


Brown To Tell All?

It seems his request for legal support from the administration has been ignored, so Michael 'Brownie' Brown will be talking to congress.

On Friday, Mr. Brown, the former FEMA director, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He is expected to confirm that he notified the White House on that Monday, the day the hurricane hit, that the levee had given way, the city was flooding and his crews were overwhelmed.

This makes the Tuesday behavior of the President (playing his gitar on the porch while people drowned in New Orleans) and the chief of Homeland Security even more curious. It is also a clear indicator why the white house has been less than helpful in this investigation (dare we say coverup?)


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Domestic Spying

Bush's spying without warrants is still getting noticed inside and outside of DC. I have to give credit here, the Bush administration is doing a nice job of spinning this criminal activity, and now, when the question is framed around terror, it is getting a reasonable level of popular support.

By 54%-43%, the public believes it is generally right for the government to monitor communications of Americans suspected of having terrorist ties

The trouble with that question is a follow up is required: Is it proper for them to do this without a proper FISA warrant.

That is where the crime occurred. Everyone I know not only thinks the government should monitor in these cases, but demands it. We just want the proper steps to be followed, and it is clear that Bush has made the decision to ignore the rules. This fact is starting to make even some hardcore Bush supporters a little nervous.

So, now Bush's people will start to provide a little information about this spying on Americans to a few people in congress. They will keep this limited in scope and scale, only telling a select few a little about the program. There is still no clear indication that they will start to follow the FISA rules, and get warrants prior to bugging our phones and computers.

This is a half measure designed to allow them to continue spying while letting others think they are following the law. Lets pray that those we have serving us in DC are to smart to be tricked into allowing this to continue.


American To Remove Torture Chambers

Well, they are removing the aft galley from their M-80s.

American Airlines, which no longer serves hot meals in the coach section on U.S. flights, will replace two galleys on about half its airplanes with seats to add as much as $34 million a year in revenue.

American, the world's largest airline, will start taking the kitchen areas out of coach sections of its 327 MD-80 aircraft in September. The change will make room for four seats per plane

So, now they can not longer torture the flying public with what is supposed to be a hot meal.

Since the airline is not mentioning an improvement in the pitch of the seats, don't' expect this to do anything about the stress positions the airlines like to keep you in for hours at a time.


Mike Fair's Science Standards

Don't appear to please many real educators and scientist.

Seven of eight educators surveyed by The State newspaper found little value in the Greenville Republican's proposal.


looks to me like a rather feeble attempt either at muddying the water, or perhaps at satisfying religious parents.


It appears to me that (Fair's proposal) is set up as an entry for 'intelligent design' and that has no place in a science course, except to debunk it as actual science.


completely unacceptable. Moreover, it is an example of ignorance informed by shibboleths from the 'intelligent design' movement and some of its predecessors, such as 'creation science'.


The set of standards are obviously designed to allow creationism to get a nose under the tent of science classes.

Just more evidence that it is his religious demands, and not a desire to actually teach that is driving Mr. Fair's proposals, but anyone who lives in South Carolina should know that about Mike Fair by now.


The Republican War On Science

Is exposed again, this time it is evident by what is happening at NASA. It appears that some of King Georges's religious police working in the NASA public affairs office have been very aggressive in blocking distribution of research they don't approve of, or spin data to make it appear less relevant.

This case is more entertaining than most. One of the faithful, George Deutsch, know for his efforts to create suspicion about ideas he disapproved of, has resigned. It appears that he fudged his resume.

So, at NASA, the Bush Administration placed a College dropout in a position where he could modify and control the release of scientific information researched and written by PHDs.

Only in George Bush's America.

Hat tip to World o' Crap.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What Wonders Exist

An amazing lost world has been discovered in the Foja Mountains on West Papua.

The lost world largely untouched by humans that was recently unearthed on West Papua may be the last such find on Earth, an expedition scientist says.

His comments follow the discovery of a world teeming with new species, giant flowers and rare wildlife showing no fear of humans.

Lets just hope that some thought is given on how to protect this amazing find from the poachers of all types who are now racing there to get a new trophy.

The Washington Post has a great slide show.


What An Amazing Fresh Start

The new House Majority Leader apparently has taken home finding tips from ex_Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Ca). Rep. John Boehner (R-Oh) is renting his Washington apartment from a high profile lobbyist.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who was elected House majority leader last week, is renting his Capitol Hill apartment from a veteran lobbyist whose clients have direct stakes in legislation Boehner has co-written and that he has overseen as chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

This is the man Republicans elected to clean up the ethics and corruption in the party. The fact that he was considered the best choice confirms just how bad thing are within in the Republican party.


Bird Flu, Bird Flu, everywhere

In Iraq, they suspect a third death due to Bird Flu, this time in southern Iraq.

There are reports of new outbreaks of the Flu in northern China. While Hong Kong is banning home raising of chickens.

And for the first time, a case in reported in Africa.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Have A Theory

My theory is:

One of the reasons people are willing to give Not so Intelligent Design space in the classroom is they don't understand the word theory, in it's scientific context.

With any mystery, puzzle or project, people will come up with a theory of what, why or how something happened. Conspiracy theory's abound about almost any controversy. Oliver Stone got to make a movie acting out his own theory about who killed Kennedy.

Every one has a theory about something, and many are just plain nutty.

So, when someone hears an attack on the Theory of Evolution, it is easy to accept. After all, it is just a theory.

In science, a Theory is far more that just an idea.

There is a very high threshold that must be met for a theory to be born. It has to be not just an idea, but an idea that has been tested, observed, tested again and again observed then tested again. Only when you have created a body of work where you can make predictions, and then test those predictions, and the predictions are validated by the test results are you getting close to developing a valid scientific theory.

So the little word we casually use to define our wackiest of ideas is, in scientific word, a term deserving great respect.

That is the disconnect. Outside the scientific world theories are proposed and disposed without much thought. If we can entertain the millions of theories of the murder of President Kennedy, why can't we do the same in science, not understanding (or remembering) that there is a huge difference in what that one little word means.

So maybe I don't have a theory, lets call it a hypothesis.

I also think that science needs to take back the word theory, and make sure people understand that a theory really is.


The Cartoon Riots Continue

Afghanistan seems to be the hot country today, with four killed in riots.

I still find it amazing that cartoons first published 6 months ago are inciting riots now.

These events have allowed some in the US to further portray Muslims and Islam as violent, intolerant and dangerous. They seem to think that this type of grotesque overreaction to an insult is a systemic character flaw that we in the US are blessed to not be cursed with. I guess they have not seen this.

Saying the nation's symbol "deserves more respect than the protest message of some liberal hippie," a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced a bill legalizing the use of force to stop someone from desecrating the American flag.

So this wingnut wants to make it legal to beat someone up who is disposing of their own property in a manner of their own choice. That is just as absurd as rioting because someone drew and published an insulting cartoon.


The Presidents Mouthpeice

From the LA Times

WHAT A DIFFERENCE eight years makes. In 1998, then-Atty. Gen. Janet Reno was repeatedly battered by Congress for showing insufficient independence from President Clinton (by naming only seven independent counsels instead of nine to investigate his administration). Republicans in one House committee issued Reno a rare contempt citation for refusing to cough up internal memos, while U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman opined that she was "in effect acting as the president's counsel under the false guise of representing the United States."

In 2006, the independent counsel law is gone, many Republicans have rediscovered the joys of White House secrecy, and the attorney general not only acts like the president's counsel, he was the president's counsel for four critical years. So it should come as no great surprise that Alberto R. Gonzales sounded more like a White House spokesman on Monday than the country's chief law enforcement officer. But that doesn't make the attorney general's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens any less disappointing.

Gonzales's appearance went as expected. He tapdanced around the truth, and avoided answering any question of substance. One exchange that I did find interesting simply because it does show how far the republicans are willing to go.

FEINSTEIN: Can the president suspend, in secret or otherwise, the application of Section 503 of the National Security Act, which states that no covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media? In other words, can he engage in otherwise illegal propaganda?

GONZALES: Senator, this will probably be my response to all of your questions of these kind of hypotheticals. Questions as to whether or not can Congress pass a statute that is in tension with the President's constitutional authority? Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible.

Sen Feinstine asks a yes or no question, and he spins away from it. This question was not about terrorism, or security, but political use of the security systems. A question that should be easy to answer in the negative

and he refuses.

It sure makes Paul Craig Roberts Monday piece more interesting. It is clear that not everyone on the right is willing to drink this kool-aid.

Hat tip to No More Mr. Nice Blog


Bush Budget Insanity

He cuts Medicare, and what looks like almost every other domestic service program. He doesn't include the cost of the Iraq war, the Afghan war and Gulf coast reconstruction, and adds $100,000,000,000.00 to the deficit.

Even member of his own party have denounce this as a bad joke.

One advantage of this budget is it give us a chance to look at actions compared to words. Bush talked about wanting to train thousands of new math and science teachers. He talked about the importance of these skills in developing our nation and economy.

Nice talk, good ideas, noble goals,

He then cut funding for the education department by about 25%.

All that nice talk, without backing it up in action, just proves them to be more lies.


Monday, February 06, 2006

What Do You Have At The Junction Of These

Two Stories.

First, we see that the Bush Administration is claiming that Bush has the right to order the killing of persons in the US.

the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States.

Please note, these are suspects, not persons who have been proven guilty, or are in the process of committing a crime. In addition, it appears that it would not matter if the person was a US citizen or not. This is in addition to powers he has already tried to claim. These include the ability to imprison a US citizen, without access to lawyers, or courts, for as long as he wants.

Since the term terrorist can be case to be very inclusive, (some on the right have hinted Cindy Sheehan and others in the anti-war movement are terrorist) this is a just another very broad power the President is trying to claim.

And then I see this little bit. KBR (part of Haliburton) has won a contract to build immigrant detention centers. At first blush it isn't very interesting, just more federal payolla for the well connected company, then you spot this little detail (emphasis added).

KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.

I can see the need for quick housing solutions for illegal immigrants, and the ability to quickly deliver housing in times of disasters is clearly needed. The greater question lies in the third unnamed new programs.

What are these new programs that may result in a sudden need for a rapid increase in detention space? Is it time to get very woried?

Hat tip to the First Church of the NeoCon, and Brilliant at Breakfast.

Gonzales Gets A Second Chance

To lie to congress. To add a little humor to this charade, Sen. Specter(R-Pa), who has gone on record questioning the legality of Bush' domestic spying program, has now refused a Democtatic request to swear in Gonzales. He is allowing him to testify while not under oath.

I guess this way another perjury charge can not be laid at the door of the Bush administration.

And while Gonzales makes his sales pitch, we find that the spying is very ineffective.

officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.

They are snooping into call between friends, business meetings, lovers, in the hopes of maybe finding someone who is even a little suspicious.