You might have noticed that there are no longer banner ads at DM. Acting on a suggestion from the Farmer, I wrote to BlogSpot tech support asking when their ordering system would be back online so I could upgrade to the Ad Free version. Their system is still down, and so they upgraded me for free. Cool!
What? Not a picture of Sam? Long-time readers might recall the days when I took pictures of other subjects. And here's a boring one, but I really liked what I saw out Sam's window this morning, with a light layer of snow and the play of shadows.
While I was vacuuming other parts of the house, Sam and Cairo beat a hasty retreat together to the bedroom. The family that's scared together, stays together.[Update: I should come clean and mention that I was a bad daddy, and left the vacuum running in the hall while I took this picture. Please don't report me...]
I've discovered one way to stop Sam from attacking me: wrap him in a blanket, which he proceeds to attack instead. Here he is, momentarily distracted.
Oddly, the candidate who has most gained from his opposition to the war, Dean, was the least vocal in the debate. Perhaps that was because Brokaw introduced the subject with Dean by discussing reports that Dean got out of the Vietnam draft by citing a bad back — an affliction that did not prevent Dean from leading an active life.
"You got a deferment," Brokaw said to Dean. "You took letters and an X-ray to your draft board because you had an unfused vertebrae in your back. But then you went skiing for the next year. Skied the moguls — I've skied the moguls. I know how tough they are on your back..."
It was a classic opportunity for the notoriously touchy Dean to lose his cool. But that didn't happen.
"Look, I did not serve in Vietnam," Dean answered. "I was given a deferment by the United States Government because they did not feel they wanted me in the Army. Dick Gephardt didn't serve in Vietnam. Joe Lieberman didn't serve in Vietnam. John Edwards didn't serve in Vietnam. None of us up here except for General Clark served in Vietnam, and Senator Kerry."
"I told the truth. I fulfilled my obligation. I took a physical. I failed the physical. If that makes this an issue, then so be it."
As Dean moved into an attack on other Democrats, particularly Kerry, for supporting the war in Iraq, the audience broke into applause.
After the debate, members of pollster Frank Luntz's television focus group judged Dean the winner...Perhaps the people were just reaffirming their previous support for Dean. Perhaps they sensed that Dean simply seemed bigger than his challengers. Whatever the case, at the end of an excruciating session, Dean was right where he was at the beginning: in the lead.
As always, I'm a little suspicious of NRO giving Dean high marks, but positive press is positive press. And York also happens to be correct.
I'm a little late getting to this, but here's what Rep. Jackson has to say about Howie:
Historically, the Confederate flag is a symbol of the Democratic Party. Today, however, Republicans can fly and wave it, but Democrats can't talk about it--and current Democrats don't know how to handle it.
As a result, the symbol Howard Dean used got in the way of his substance, but his substance was on point--and the point was that Southern whites and blacks together must focus on their common economic needs: jobs, good schools, affordable healthcare.
Howard Dean has a new Democratic Southern strategy.
Rather than repeating [the] stereotypical and condescending approach of appealing to whites in the South with a "balanced ticket" and "social conservatism," Howard Dean dares a new approach--to join whites and blacks around a common economic agenda of good schools and healthcare.
If Howard Dean wins the nomination around an economic agenda, and can effectively combat the certain Republican tactic of diversion--using social issues openly, and race more subtly, to sublimate economic concerns--then Democrats may once again be able to win in the South and pursue a progressive economic agenda for the benefit of all Americans.
That's Howard Dean's approach and his challenge. I support him because I think it's the right strategy politically, economically and morally.
A homemade videotape given to a French journalist showed...about a dozen men standing in an open field, several of them wearing checkered headscarves over their faces. A Black Hawk helicopter flew nearby at an altitude of about 350 feet, but appeared not to spot the men. Three cars were parked nearby.
One of the men raised a shoulder-fired missile, whose type could not be determined. The gunner aimed and launched the missile at an unseen target. Trailing white smoke, the missile initially climbed almost vertically, then executed a sharp right turn as it gathered speed.
The tape continued to roll, but showed the men scrambling to their cars. After a time, the camera was again pointed to the sky as the stricken airliner, trailing flames and smoke, descended toward the airport.
It's tough for know-it-alls to suck it up, admit they were wrong and confront the problems at hand. Not a particularly happy proposition, since guerrilla-fighting history isn't on our side. And putting down an insurgent movement is a strategy fraught with high risk in which the counterinsurgent needs the support of the people. Bombs and shells slamming down on the wrong targets will quickly feed an already-hot fire, producing still more recruits for the cause.
All of which the British learned the hard way in 1917, when they marched into the former Mesopotamia and soon found themselves knee-deep in an ugly occupation. By 1920, casualties by the thousands had mounted on both sides, and the Brits - looking to cut their losses but keep the juicy oil profits pumping â€“ took a pen to a map and created the new country of Iraq: Kurds in the north in Mosul, Sunnis in the center around Baghdad, and Shiites south in the vicinity of Basra. All three groups hated each other, but unfortunately for the Brits, they hated the occupiers and their appointed puppet rulers even more.
Loud blasts have echoed across Baghdad after dark and loudspeakers at the headquarters of the U.S.-led administration ordered personnel to take cover as an attack was under way.
"Attack. Take cover. This is not a test," the loudspeaker announcements said, as sirens wailed at the coalition compound in one of Saddam Hussein's former palace complexes on the west bank of the Tigris river in central Baghdad.
The other campaigns desperately look for a way to stop Howie, and the media desperately look for a story on the "growing clash" between Dean and Gep.
PS--Full transcript of tonight's Dem debate is available at WaPo.
¶ 10:58 PM
What Is It With The Germans?
Tommy Friedman and Jonah Goldberg might hate France, but I'm more worried about Deutschland:
A German man who confessed to killing and eating a man he met through a website for cannibals has been charged with murder, prosecutors have said.
The 41-year-old suspect, identified as Armin M, is alleged to have killed the 43-year-old victim in March 2001 in the town of Rotenburg in central Germany, after meeting him through the site.
He then carved up and froze portions of the man's flesh, later eating some of it, prosecutors allege.
The crime was apparently carried out with the victim's full consent, however state prosecutor Hans-Manfred Jung told French news agency AFP that the victim's supposed "death wish" did not change the fact that the killer had wanted to commit murder.
Obligatory joke: apparently the victim went well with a nice Chianti.
PS--For the record, I'm drinking a Zin. Or so the Germans would have you believe.
¶ 10:11 PM
Sorry, More FEC
Battery's fully charged and I've got a 64 meg card, so what do you expect? Only family-oriented feline exploitation curiosa, of course.
Sam likes to use us for shelter, much like Saffron likes to use us as furniture.
My wife is so talented: she can entertain two animals at once. Three, if you count distracting Sam long enough so Saffron can nap.
Thankfully, Sam is pretty self-winding and will attack himself if none of our limbs are available.
Finally calming down...
...a little head rub always helps (well, unless he's getting into kitten mode and spins to attack).
Cairo likes to hoard her toys like a dragon hoards treasure. But really, she just wants Daddy to go play. I'm such a sucker...
I sometimes refer to evolutionary psychology both here (witness the "counter-dominant" label in the upper right) and on other blogs. Thus I found this article at Slate to be very interesting:
[E]volution didn't design us to read Us, but it did knit and purl our neural matter into patterns guiding many of the behaviors that guarantee humankind's survival, evolutionary psychologists tell us. Those patterns still skulk in our unconscious minds, inciting us to eat fatty food, recklessly eyeball the neighborhood for sex partners, collect gossip, and battle others for a place in the pecking order. "Our modern skulls house a stone age mind," as science writer William Allman once axiomized it, and capitalizing on the human ape's basest instincts is what moves 6 million copies of the Star, Us, and People each week. Whether you read them or not, the celebrity magazines help determine the content of newspaper gossip columns, celebrity TV programs (Entertainment Tonight; Access Hollywood), late-night talk shows, and the unavoidable office chatter about Jen, Reese, Britney, Ben, Ethan, and Brad.
I don't have really anything of substance to say except to remind my readers that we have brains of many layers, and the very ancient layer(s) still can influence great control over our lives. Puts things into perspective when you consider we still have to fight millions of years of evolution as we try to stop war, prejudice and other silly things. It will require great patience as we struggle to overcome our reptilian forebears' legacy. That's why I'm an incrementalist, even when it comes to issues I feel the most passionate about.
Oy. Leave it to NTodd to take a semi-fluffy piece on Jennifer Aniston and turn it into a comment on the human condition. Note to self: no more drinking and blogging.
* In honor of Daschle's appearance yesterday on MTP, and his support of the bogus energy bill, I bring your attention to this post from Opinions That You Should Have on Saturday: Daschle To Filibuster Self. Someday we'll have real oppo leadership, but not while Tom's in charge.
A fire at a university dormitory in Moscow has killed at least 28 people, many of them foreign students.
The fire broke out in the middle of the night, when most of the students inside the five-story dormitory were asleep.
[F]ires are increasingly common in many older, Soviet-era buildings, because of a lack of funds for proper maintenance and safety equipment. As a result, Russia has a high rate of deaths from fire.
I spent 3 months in Moscow in 1990, and lived in an obschyezhitiye* on Profsoyuznaya ulitsa (Trade Union street) while I attended the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (I learned nothing about steel or alloys, just Russian). The building had 10 stories, IIRC, and I lived on the 5th floor.
Even back then the place was pretty decrepit. For example, our room lacked hot water for almost the entire summer, as the pipes that fed our column of rooms, for lack of a better expression, were broken. My 3 roomies and I would shower next door, where the hot (or more correctly, lukewarm) water mostly worked. Overall it was a pretty rundown building, but what dorm is a palace? While I never worried about it, I didn't ever quite feel like it was the safest building in the world.
Anyway, it's scary to think what might have happened to me and my friends had a fire occurred. The Soviets, and today the Russians, don't have the same dedication to safety that we do here in the US. While we obviously will always have our share of accidents and disasters, I think about how much worse things would be if we didn't have a government that creates and enforces building codes and other protective measures. An argument for not getting on the "deregulate everything" bandwagon BushCo and friends love so much.
* I guess more of a hostel than a dorm per se, with mostly students but some non-students as well. And please forgive the poor transliteration.
¶ 1:58 PM
A Leno appearance...is seen as a chance for shtick -- a place where John F. Kerry sharpened his man-of-the-people chops by riding a motorcycle onstage on Nov. 11. A Kerry adviser says that the Harley spin was the Leno writers' idea and that the show wanted Kerry on for Veterans Day, all good for his campaign message.
But the visit proved that Leno can be devastating, too. Because Kerry, it turned out, was the second-billed guest, following a cigar-chomping, trash-talking puppet named Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. And the dog, voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, delivered a sharper critique of Kerry than any rival is likely to muster. His humor tends to center on dog waste, and this time he compared it to the Kerry campaign's momentum.
If things go poorly for Kerry, that could become the campaign's defining moment, said Matthew T. Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. "Michael Dukakis had the tank picture," Felling said, "and Kerry's going to have Triumph."
Leno should be given particular pause these days, Felling said, since he gave Arnold Schwarzenegger such glowing treatment at the start and finish of his gubernatorial bid.
Triumph, it turns out, had a riff on that one, too. "The Terminator can take over the show, but John Kerry, a war veteran, has to follow a freaking dog puppet?" he said on the Leno show. "What's going on in America?"
Why is a freaking dog puppet offering more insightful commentary than anybody else in America?
Speaking of which, if you haven't heard Triumph's Fresh Air interview (thanks faithful reader, Bill Simmon), you should check it out, especially if you like jokes about dog poop*. Triumph does an extremely funny bit on Terry's interview of Bill O'Lielly.
* All weekend during the film shoot, the director of photography and I were falling into Triumph's voice and talking about poop. I'll bet that happens on Spielberg's sets a lot, too.
¶ 12:18 PM
I've been doing a little blogkeeping this AM. I just added the first series of links to my new Photos site (found in the Poems/Photos top nav menu). Also note that yesterday I created a Haiku site and a Rummy Poetry site (consolidated in the top nav).
I also replaced Neal Pollack with Juan Cole in the Main Blogroll for now. Obviously they're quite different, but I've found I turn to Informed Comment quite a bit for news and analysis, so it's a main blog.
I'm considering ways to further clean up the blogroll madness. I am thinking about making the Main Blogroll more of a listing of "big names" sites I read regularly, and changing the name accordingly. So I'd take out the blogs that are run by friends/faithful readers of DM and consolidate my "co-conspirators" roll.
I am also planning on moving the "co-conspirators" roll into the top nav, although that has its drawbacks, to wit: that list is also becoming a bit unwieldy, those blogs would lose a little visibility, and we also lose the "recently updated" highlight feature. But I need to do something to clean stuff up a bit. Thoughts?
Guildenstern: What's the first thing you remember?
Rosencrantz: [thinks] No, it's no good. It was a long time ago.
Guildenstern: No, you don't take my meaning. What's the first thing you remember after all the things you've forgotten?
Rosencrantz: Oh, I see... I've forgotten the question.
My experience in today's film shoot was similar to that of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: my existence lasted for all of about a minute, and in that time I typed phantom documents on a computer, answered a phantom phone call, and feigned a conversation with a woman across the front desk. My receptionist character had no memory of anything before people started walking down the hallway by my desk, and once the primary characters moved behind a closed office door, I ceased to exist.
This weekend was tiring and a lot of fun, interleaved with the sheer boredom of inactivity alternating with that of repetition. As always, it was very cool to be involved behind the scenes. The shoot went really well, and I'm excited to see the final product--I think it will have success at the various indy festivals next year.
And now I'm very sleepy. I have the entire week off for T-day, and endeavor to blog more effectively than I have of late. And I really need to finish up my security book chapters--I'm way behind.
We've been doing run throughs of the movie for a while, and will begin actual shooting soon. Excuse me while I get into my role as the receptionist. This is going to tax my skills because I'm not really good at using the phone system or anything, so I really am going to need to kick my acting up a notch.
Increased international recognition of a forced famine that killed up to 10 million Ukrainians brought bittersweet relief Saturday to elderly survivors marking the 70th anniversary of a dark chapter in the history of Soviet communism.
Gathering at a cathedral in the now independent Ukraine, survivors recalled their desperation during a famine historians say was provoked by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin as part of his campaign to force peasants to give up their land and join collective farms.
Two weeks ago, some 30 countries signed a joint statement to commemorate the memory of the millions of men, women and children who suffered because of the "cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime in the former Soviet Union." The U.N. statement became the first, significant international recognition of the famine, which was denied by the Soviets for decades.
I'm very glad the world is beginning to recognize the suffering my people suffered.
Between the tsarist pogroms, Stalin's atrocities, and the SS, my family members who did not have the foresight to leave Russia in 1913 were eliminated. And you know what? I still wouldn't have supported a US invasion of the Soviet Union to stop the genocide any more than I support our war to topple the Iraqi who tried to emulate Stalin.
If 2004 gets Diebolded, expect a velvet revolution just like we've seen in Georgia this weekend:
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has resigned after meeting the opposition and Russia's foreign minister, the president's spokesman told CNN.
CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty, who is in Tblisi, said: "It was an amazing moment here when news came through. It was electrifying, deafening."
Fireworks went off and tens of thousands of protesters, who have gathered outside parliament buildings during the past 24 hours, waved flags and sang.
They blamed Shevardnadze for a corrupt regime and extreme poverty.
The resignation comes after two weeks of protests complaining at November 2 elections, which the opposition and election observers said were rigged.
Our template for next year, Mr. Bush. You have been warned. Oh wait, his "objective staff" probably will filter this. Nevermind...
You might have noticed that I've reorganized the top nav a little. The menus were getting a little unwieldy, and something needed to be done. Anyway, more tinkering to come over the next few weeks. Feedback welcome.
This is why civilians rule this country, and the military follows orders. General Tommy Franks opines (thanks to Anarchy Xero for the heads up):
Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that "the worst thing that could happen" is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.
If that happens, Franks said, "... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."
Franks then offered "in a practical sense" what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.
"It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world - it may be in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."
The general went on to discuss his suspicion that al Qaeda is planning to corrupt our precious bodily fluids to undermine our liberty. "I first became aware of it during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence," he said. "I can assure you it has not recurred. Women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, but I do deny them my essence."
General Franks concluded the interview by observing that the world will never be at peace because he aims to make it so.
Hey, you, with the blog! Open Source Politics is a growing organization and we're looking for new people to join our team:
Now that we've sorted through some of our initial growing pains, Open Source Politics is looking for few more good sources. Is that you? It could be, if you have what it takes. Here's a short list of qualifications:
* Your political orientation is progressive.
* You like to write about current events, political theory, economics, health of people or ecology, legal rights or events, or other topics relevant to OSP.
* You can write well without requiring much proofreading for errors in grammar, spelling, and composition.
* You are willing to commit to a minimum level of participation of at least one article or post a month.
* You are a team player, and will pitch in behind the scenes as needed (with the occasional extra article, idea for improving OSP, or other contribution).
* You want to help defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 election.
Depending on the response to this, we may or may not be able to accept all applicants, but we will consider and respond to every applicant. If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
* Your name
* The web address for your blog
* Links to two to four posts that you feel represent what you can bring to OSP
* Any other talents or abilities that you have that might be useful (proofreading, graphics creation or editing, HTML/CSS/RSS/etc., leadership, unique perspective, or whatever you think might be useful)
* The section(s) in which you're interested in writing for and the posting schedule to which you're willing to commit
* Any other information that you feel would be useful for us to consider
We look forward to hearing from you!
Interested? I hope so. And let me put in a little plug: as manager of the Knowledge section, I'm in desperate need of authors. If you have an interest in education, IT, or anything possibly, arguably, remotely related to the subject of "knowledge", please apply.
Yeah, it's "not a scientific poll", and maybe it was freeped, but all the same it's a frightening thought to think that MJ was this week's top story in anybody's mind. The distraction campaign appears to be working. And to think I miss the days of Laci Peterson...
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads, according to interviews and a confidential bureau memorandum.
The memorandum, which the bureau sent to local law enforcement agencies last month in advance of antiwar demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have sometimes used "training camps" to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas.
God knows we can't suffer the huge threat of an organized, well-funded anti-war movement poses. And we certainly don't want the protesters to be able to protect themselves from attacks like we sawinMiami.
Those ominous-sounding "training camps" are clearly dangerous as well. Jeebus.
The Quakers have been running such training forever. To ensure that demos don't devolve into riots, there are all sorts of civil disobedience training events to teach people how to stay calm and non-violent in the face of provocation from the police, counter-protesters, etc, so the message remains the focus, not any incidents that the media might use to deflect attention from legitimate grievances. Generally the training involves role play (from all sides) so people know what it will be like going into a protest, making it easier to act appropriately.
The FBI's actions are chilling and give lie to the idea that a police state can't happen here.
File under: 9/11 changed everything. Cross-reference: Stalin is laughing in hell.
Here's some info about the indy film my friends are shooting this weekend, according of faithful reader Bill Simmon:
The film is called "The Perfect Goodnight Kiss." It is being made three different times by three different filmmakers. I myself (a straight man) will be directing the lesbian version of the film, San Francisco-based filmmaker, Alex Woolfson (a gay man), will direct the straight version, and Burlington filmmaker, Alexis Holloway (a straight woman), will direct the gay-male version. Same script--three different perspectives.
The Perfect Goodnight Kiss is shooting throughout November and December and should be completed and ready to premiere by the end of January 2004. It will be submitted to film festivals throughout next year with an eye on the bigger festivals in the fall (Sundance, etc.). Executives at Miramax Films and the Independent Feature Project have already expressed interest in seeing the film.
They need about 6 grand total to get this puppy done. If you've got any spare change (after donating to Howard Dean's campaign), please consider supporting indy film and send the filmmakers a few bucks. Use the following handy dandy support levels as a guide:
Now that iraq is a new state of america when can we get a new flag? I have an idea for the new flag when the stars are not stars anymore but tiny pictures of george bush because he is the one who saved this country when he killed osama bin laden and saddam hussein.
(thanks to fellow League member And Then... for the headsup)
I am so hoping this is parody. But these days, it's so hard to be sure.
tenacious fog clings
to the hills, a grey curtain
hides the world from view.
the shroud parts slightly,
dark shapes emerge from the woods:
turkeys in the field.
¶ 10:13 AM
Now that I'm no longer distracted by teaching, I can direct my attention to other duties, including the exercise of my franchise. Thus, I cast my vote for the TTLB New Blog Showcase: fellow League of Liberals member Anarchy Xero - Winding the Iraq Deathwatch.
I love voting. Let the clarion call of freedom ring out. Or something.
But right now, I'm just an extra. My local indy film friends are at my office shooting a new short this weekend, and I'm hanging out with them. Should be a fun couple days! I'll post periodic reports as warranted. Right now, I'm pretty much a 5th wheel, so will be blogging in the background.
Look for me in my world famous bit part at Sundance...
The latest series of attacks in Iraq has continued with deadly bombings on two police stations and a missile attack on a transport plane, the U.S. military said.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt is probably right when he said of yesterday's attacks:
"They're trying to break our will. They're trying to seize the headlines ... but they're militarily insignificant."
Unfortunately, the General and the US is missing the forest for the trees. BushCo and the DoD has been using the "militarily insignificant" thing for months. Only trouble is they seem to be getting more significant as time goes on, both in terms of its toll on our military and also the perceptions of the Iraqi and American people.
[T]he main task for our leaders is to cut the spin and deal with the G's [guerrillas]: a lethal mix of street gangs, Islamic crazies, Arab mujaheddins and hardened criminals released from Iraqi prisons by Saddam, all stirred on perhaps by the Mustached Monster and certainly by many of his crew, who lost their cushy deal when our warriors put them out of the repression biz.
The way to do this is, of course, to win the people. As Mao proved long ago, the people are the supportive water and the G's are the fish. Disappear the water and the fish will flop around on parched riverbanks, easy pickings for a barbecue.
We diverted the water from our troops to the guerrillas long ago.
As I suspected I would, I did indeed have a losing night, but not too bad. Played decently, had some very good hands, but mostly somebody else had something slightly better. Two hands in particular cost me 11 bucks. In the end, I was 6 bucks down for the night.
What a blast. 11 people showed up (a record), and we had 2 tables going. All in all, several hours of sheer entertainment for 6 dollars--can't beat it.
Happy homecoming, now off to poker. I have a feeling it's going to be a bad night for me, but it will be fun since we've got a big crowd and I've been jonesing since I missed last poker night. Back to blogging tomorrow...
United States support for the mujahideen in the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s is well documented. What is not so well understood is the US support for these same mujahideen in the struggle between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs, a move that helped globalize the jihadi movement, and that is now having ramifications in Turkey.
Yup. This is echoes what I've been saying for quite some time. We see the same pattern over and over again when we muck around in other countries' affairs: bad, unintended consequences. CIA-sponsored Iranian coup in 1953 -> Islamic revolution in 1979. Use religion to motivate fighters we support -> global terror.
All actions have consequences, of course, and we do need to act in the global community. However, violent actions always have violent consequences. We must eschew violence as a means, and our guiding principles must include non-interference. The more we tinker, the less secure we really are.
Robert Fisk in today's Independent (link to free full version at MyAntiwar.org):
We have a habit of thinking that the bombers don't understand the outside world. If they are "against democracy", they wouldn't understand us, would they? But they do. They knew exactly what they were doing when they attacked the Australians in Bali - they knew the Iraqi invasion was unpopular in Australia, that Howard might ultimately be blamed. They knew the invasion was unpopular in Italy. So Italy would be punished for Berlusconi's hubris.
They knew, too, of the demonstrations that awaited George Bush in London. So why not distract attention from the whole panjandrum by assaulting Britain in Turkey. Who would care about Bush's visit to Sedgefield when Britons are lying dead in the grounds of their consulate in Istanbul? Just so in Iraq. The Iraqi insurgents are well aware of George Bush's falling opinion polls in the United States. They know how desperate he is to extract himself from Iraq before next year's presidential elections. Thus are they increasing their assaults on American forces and their Iraqi supporters, provoking the US army to ever more ferocious retaliation?
We have a kind of fatal incomprehension about those against whom we have gone to war; that they are living in caves, cut off from reality, striking blindly - "desperately" as Mr Bush would have us believe - as they realise that the free world is resolved to destroy them. Just now, I suspect they are resolved to destroy Mr. Bush - politically if not physically. Mr Blair too. In a war in which we go all out to crush the leadership of our antagonists, we can only expect them to adopt the same policy.
But we go on misunderstanding. Take those tiresome speeches by Osama bin Laden. When his audio-tapes are aired, we journalists always take the same line. Is it really him? Is he alive? That becomes our only story. But the Arab response is quite different. They know it's him. And they listen to what he says. So should we.
Leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist network have franchised their organization's brand of synchronized, devastating violence to homegrown terrorist groups across the world, posing a formidable new challenge to counterterrorism forces, according to intelligence analysts and experts in the United States, Europe and the Arab world.
And here the Tommy Friedmans of the world thought McDonald's was going to win the war for us. Please, can we start dealing with root causes now?
We can't imagine that there's any other way to secure America than to support Bush's $87B boondoggle and keep US troops in Iraq, so we don't think Howard can be Commander-in-Chief because he opposes this approach.
Faithful reader Steve Bates shares his thoughts on the Howard Dean appearance he attended in Houston the other day. One snippet from Steve's very thorough, thoughtful post:
My political impressions are confirmed: Dean is not a liberal, but he is a solid, classic Democrat, of what the late great Sen. Wellstone would have called the "Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party."
Now go read the rest of what the YDD has to say. What are you still doing here? Go!
"Howard Dean, speaking with reporters Tuesday afternoon following a campaign appearance in Bedford, N.H., expressed relief that the 30-year wait for answers about what happened to his brother might finally be over. As he has since the disappearance of his brother, Dean was wearing a belt buckle that belonged to Charles Dean as he spoke. "'This has been a long and emotional journey for my mother, Jim, Bill and me,' Dean said. 'We greet this news with mixed emotions but are gratified that we may now be approaching closure to this painful episode in our lives.' "Dean, in a soon-to-be released autobiography, called the capture and death of his brother 'the most traumatic events of my life.'"
I wonder if the remains would have been found if Dean wasn't running for president.
I seriously doubt that finding Charlie has anything to do with Dean's candidacy. As the AP observed when the news first broke about Charlie's remains, the group charged with locating all missing Americans (Joint Task Force-Full Accounting) was created in 1992. In fact, Dean visited the suspected site last year when he was Governor, and pushed for an excavation.
More importantly, the Dean family has suffered for three decades not knowing what happened to Charlie. They are finally getting a chance for closure, and Kurtz has the audacity to question the discovery of Charlie's remains? Fucking insensitive hack.
George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), 1669:
For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests' or magistrates'; for it is God's ordinance and not man's; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord's work, and we are but witnesses.
Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.
"I disagree with the Supreme Judicial Court. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to make that expressly clear. Of course, we must provide basic civil rights and appropriate benefits to nontraditional couples, but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman."
Don't like the results? Change the rules! Damn you for thinking about tinkering with the constitution to create a definition of marriage. That's not what our framing documents are for, you bigoted bonehead (or is it boneheaded bigot?).
Boone County officials are searching for an answer to the computer glitch that spewed out impossible numbers and interrupted an otherwise uneventful election process Tuesday.
The breakdown came as an eager crowd watched computer-generated vote totals being projected onto a wall of the Boone County Courthouse rotunda.
"I about had a heart attack," said County Clerk Lisa Garofolo. "I'm assuming the glitch was in the software."
A lengthy collaboration between the county's information technology director and advisers from the MicroVote software producer fixed the problem. But before that, computer readings of stored voting machine data showed far more votes than registered voters.
"It was like 144,000 votes cast," said Garofolo, whose corrected accounting showed just 5,352 ballots from a pool of less than 19,000 registered voters. "Believe me, there was nobody more shook up than I was."
Anyway, just thought I'd mention it given our discussions this weekend.
The Quakers in action against the proposed National Museum of the United States Army. This is a short article about a fight to protect our way of worship, and you'll get a nice vignette about our style. If you want to know more about us, you can also go to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (my Meeting) website.
So a few glasses of Shiraz later, and a nice warm bath with some lavender oil to recover the from chilly, rainy walk from dinner, and I am ready to pronounce the winners of the Beatnik Joe Caption Contest.
But first, since I am a philosopher, a little about the selection process. In earlier contests, I have employed the services of my faithful dog, Cairo. Alas, I am stuck in the garden spot of Marlboro, MA, right now and cannot avail myself of her services. Thus I rely on the random firing of synapses in my brain, scrambled by the introduction of alcohol, plus a fair bit of quantum mechanics.
As a reminder, the picture in question was this:
As a further reminder, I conduct these contests with all due respect to the office of President of the United States. The current officeholder, on the other hand, I give no respect1.
With a couple dozen fine entries, this was an incredibly hard decision. But I eventually made the choices and take full responsibility for the outcome2; there are 3 prizes for the inaugural Beatnik Joe Caption Contest, awarded thus:
1) The $7.00 Amazon gift certificate goes to:
Hey! Look over here!
Forget all those dead soldiers...
We've got three new schools!
2) The 1st runner-up $5.00 certificate goes to:
Meet my friend Harvey.
He's my closest advisor
3) The 2nd runner-up $5.00 cert goes to:
lea-p (I need your e-mail address!)
"Mona Lisa, Mo
na Lisa, men have named you."
he crooned, noisomely.
Honorable mention: Charles 2 (dude, the haiku was great, as was your enthusiasm); emal (I love the Hokey Pokey!); Diane (almost our first 2-time winner, with that extremely funny Bremer bit).
And as always, you all are winners. Jeebus, it was so hard to fight against my liberal tendency to expand the winner's circle, but my inner-Republican said no.
Anywayz, I hope you all enjoyed playing, reading each other's entries, and just dissing the powers that be. If it was as unproductive as I'd intended, that will make Beatnik Joe3 very happy.
1 - On my trip down to Marlboro, I saw somebody putting up a big banner near Purmort, NH (I-89, Exit 16): "Proven Leadership: Vote Bush/Cheney 2004." I almost had a car accident.
2 - In contrast to our Buck-passer-in-Chief.
3 - BTW, screw you, Beatnik Joe.
[Update: here are the entries from the Honorable Mentions, which I felt should also get special attention:
* Charles 2:
All these men are mine
cannon fodder, one and all
wives and children wail.
Put your left hand in.
Take your left hand out. You do
the Hokey Pokey...
* Diane: Bremer photo Reinforcements from
Japan? We welcome them. But
they are a bit short.
Nice trip to Mass: blue skies, low 30s in Vermont, upper 40s once I got to NH.
No blogging tonight. I'm having some issues with my dialup service, so I'm doing this long distance until I resolve things tomorrow AM. Thanks to everybody for stopping by despite the drought. Don't forget you still have about 6 hours to enter the caption contest for a chance to win valuable prizes. I'll announce the winner tomorrow PM.
The aptly-named Rook and I will be engaging in a battle of wits over at Open Source Politics in the coming weeks: Blogger's Chess. You'll be able to follow the game in the Knowledge section, and we'll even make it a valuable learning experience. More details to come.
Also note that blogging here will be light this week, with a little in the early AM and a little more after the dinner hour. I'm teaching Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Through Datacomm in MA, so I'll be a bit pre-occupied. Anyway, please keep visiting, and talk amongst yourselves!
Only 26.5 hours left to get your entry in for the Beatnik Joe Caption Contest. There are 21 entries so far competing for a total of 17 bucks in prizes. Don't miss out! Enter today and I'll be your best friend.
You must enter the
Beatnik Joe Caption Contest:
If not, I will cry.
Wow, Tommy Friedman actually makes sense and is happily residing in the real world for a change. Read what he has to say about the Geneva Accord and the insane Likud/Sharon reaction. Next week I expect him to be back to his old tricks slamming the French while mentioning he was on a layover in Kuala Lumpur on his way to an interview in Lhasa.
Received this alert from the Electronic Frontier Foundation today:
Two student activists and an Internet Service Provider (ISP) will ask a federal district court judge on Monday to stop the ongoing legal harassment of them and others in a case involving disclosure of flaws in electronic voting machines. The nonprofit ISP Online Policy Group (OPG) and two Swarthmore college students seek to prevent electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold Systems, Inc., from issuing further legal threats against ISPs in an attempt to squelch publication of the embarrassing information.
Date: Monday, November 17, 2003
Time: 9:00am PST (press conference in front of courthouse after hearing)
Location: Federal Courthouse, 280 South 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95113 (near W. San Carlos St.)
Courtroom: Judge Jeremy Fogel, Courtroom 3, 5th Floor
Case: Online Policy Group v. Diebold (Case Number C-03-04913JF)
I've been avoiding this story here because there's been such good coverage elsewhere in the blogworld. However, as 2004 approaches, I'm getting more and more concerned. And I have to tell you that as a security professional, I am really amazed by the situation.
As I understand it, there is no mechanism for a paper trail to backup these electronic voting machines. Now think about the business world for a moment. Talk to any CEO and they'll tell you that their mission-critical data absolutely has to be backed up. Data is the lifeblood of their companies. What could more mission-critical in a democracy than the votes people cast?
Let's face it: computers are not 100% reliable. We must have a way to verify or reconstruct a voter's intention, and if the ballot somehow "disappears" into the abyss of computer memory, we cannot go back unless there is a mechanism to print out the ballot upon voting. I think it's unconscionable that Diebold is being allowed to distribute machines without this most fundamental disaster recovery mechanism.
As always, you can go to Black Box Voting for the latest scoop on the evil secrets Diebold doesn't want you to know. The site also has information about activism and how we can work to make sure next November we don't get Diebolded.
In a comment thread over at Eschaton yesterday, I addressed a couple of things the "you break it, you bought it" crowd had to say about staying the course in Iraq. I figured "what the hell?" and am sharing the bad analogies I came up with.
My response to the "we have an obligation to fix what we broke" folks:
If my car isn't broken and I take it to a mechanic so that he can 'fix' it and he breaks it instead, isn't it his responsiblity to, at the very least, get it in running condition so I can drive home?
I bought a builder's home many years ago. He had a plumber friend of his do the plumbing. The ceiling over my kitchen started showing signs of a water leak, and I called the plumber, who "fixed" the problem. The leak came back. He "fixed" it again. I eventually had a general contractor friend of mine check into it. He eventually fixed the problem for real.
Moral: you don't have the same incompetent asshat plumber keep fucking up your plumbing. All it does is mess up your kitchen and cost you money.
In other words, I think the US needs to turn over Iraq to people who might be less incompetent than we are. Quite frankly, I don't know if there are any plumbers who can fix what we've done, but we clearly aren't up to the task, and are really only making things worse. Which leads me to my response to the "we can't leave now, there will be civil war/Taliban/other bad things" crowd:
[I]f we stay, it's more than likely that we'll enjoy the same result. Check out the CSIS report I mentioned, and note the polling data BushCo likes to ignore that indicates most Iraqis (at least the Shia) want an Iranian-style theocracy. Fact is, we leave and bad shit happens, or we stay and bad (or even worse) shit happens. Imagine our troops being caught in a civil war.
Since everybody loves bad analogies, lemme give you one. Say you're in the Bennington Pottery store in Burlington, and you accidentally knock over a big pot and it breaks. The store has a "you break it, you bought it" policy, so you give 'em your plastic and they charge you for the broken pot. They don't make you work in the shop for the next decade.
We broke Iraq, so we have to put in some skin. But let's limit it to financial aid and get our people the hell out of Dodge before more die, and more kill innocent Iraqis.
Light-hearted analogy aside, we need to think of the larger ramifications of staying in a country where we are not wanted. We are creating more opportunity for al Qaeda to recruit new terrorists, we are continuing to turn Arab and Muslim opinion against the US, and we are still alienating our allies. Our presence in Iraq is doing absolutely nothing to achieve our strategic aims (i.e., domestic security), and only harming our short- and long-term interests.
Using analogies is a dreadful way to argue, but people put a lot of stock into them so I try to counter them best I can. Anywayz, I'm curious what DM readers think about why we should or shouldn't stay in Iraq now that we're there. Any good analogies or counter-analogies?
[Update: Slight tangent. I don't know how I forgot to mention this, but Dave Pollard at How to Save the World has an interesting, perspective-shifting thought experiment and discussion about the Iraqi occupation.]
¶ 1:30 PM
More Kitty Porn For The Farmer
When I'm not out shooting documentaries, I like to relax with a little kitty porn, just like the Farmer. Heh.
Stef is buried under Saffron, pinned in by Cairo, and Sam threatens to pile on as well in this dreadfully lit photo.
Sam has been fascinated by the snow flying outside the window.
Getting closer. Saffron is becoming more resigned to having Sam around, but she still has suitable contempt for him.
Thankfully, Cairo has been extremely tolerant of Sam's attacks on her tail. I didn't really intend to take this shot; rather, I wanted a nice peaceful pic of dog and kitten. Sam had other plans.
Living dangerously can tucker any kitten out. The new favorite spot for both felines: my computer bag.
Iraq will have a new transitional government with full sovereign powers by the end of June 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council said today, and will have a constitution and a permanent, democratically elected government by the end of 2005.
The statement followed a meeting with the U.S.-backed coalition's civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer, who recently met with President Bush. He returned to Baghdad with new proposals for the council aimed at speeding up the transfer of authority to Iraqis.
The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority will dissolve at that time, council authorities said in Saturday's news conference, and "the state of occupation will end."
Well, I guess they sorta listened to me.
File under: declare victory and go home. Cross reference: secret plan to end the war.
PS--I'm taking bets on whether Chalabi (pictured below, happy man on the left) will be the strongman referred to by the CSIS:
* BBWW takes us on a trip back to 1968. Or maybe not.
* Rubber Hose tells us about some important changes to Federal labor law in the the Kennedy-Miller bill.
* Taking a page from the ever successful DM playbook, Happy Furry Puppy Story Time is running a caption contest. Winner apparently gets a puppy. Geesh, some people will do anything for a little attention (see below).
* Body and Soul civilly discusses civility. You know, the shit that conservatives want us to have, but refuse to engage in themselves?
* AF&O delivers the real speech Bush should've given on Veteran's Day.
*Cosmic Iguana noticed that Der Gropenator is following Bush's plan to spend more time on vacation than governing.
* Democratic Veteran has a suggestion for some weekend fun at Andrew Sullivan's expense.
Q Can you envision pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq before Saddam Hussein is found?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We will stay until the job is done. And the job is for Iraq to be free and peaceful. A free and peaceful Iraq will have historic consequences. And we'll find Saddam Hussein. The goal is for a free and peaceful Iraq. And by being strong and determined, we will achieve that objective.
From the Center for Strategic and International Studies (PDF):
Even under the best case scenario...the US will have to leave an Iraq that is far from stable in political and economic terms, and where massive internal forces will still be at work that will lead to at least some crises after the US departs. No other society with anything like the challenges Iraq will face has moved smoothly and easily towards progress and success. In fact, it seems almost certain that the leadership Iraq has on the day the US transfers sovereignty will not survive for more than few years at most unless a new strong man emerges.
Put differently, the US cannot hope to achieve victory in the form of creating some shining example that will fully transform Iraq, much less transform the Middle East. This was at best a noble neoconservative fantasy. More practically, it has always been a rather silly one.
Keep in mind that this is not coming from some wacko Lefty crackpots, but the folks Rummy himself sent to Iraq back in July. They've been frank in their assessments over the past few months, and what they say has always been spot on and really proven the anti-war crowd right. I honestly wish we'd been wrong.
PS--When I read stuff like this, it makes me think that what I wrote the other day is more and more correct.
[Update: fixed bad link in the postscript. Thanks to faithful reader Steve for catching my error.]
¶ 1:49 PM
Emma over at Notes on the Atrocities has a proposal for a nifty project:
I envision American Consensus to be a discussion with Americans. I'd like to hear from people across the country and from all different backgrounds. Initially, I thought about going out and doing the documentary myself, but this has a number of downsides. The biggest is that I wouldn't have the time or money to interview a truly broad range of Americans. But I also don't have access to many Americans. So then I wondered: why not see if I could get filmmakers from around the country to interview people in their communities?
(Link via corrente. Apparently the Farmer is on an Ashcroftian crusade against my kitty porn. Heh.)
So if you're into filming stuff, or have a filmy coating on your eyeball, check out what Emma has to say.
Thank you for the e-mail you sent concerning our CNN anchor(s). This auto reply is your notification that we have received it...
The message was in response to an angry e-mail I'd sent them regarding an interview Kyra Phillips had done with the doctor for Ali Hamza, the Iraqi boy who had his arms blown off, was badly burned, and lost most of his family during US bombing:
AL-NAJADA: Actually, today he was in good condition after the operation and started speaking with a journalist and answering all their questions. The thing which he was -- they asking about -- the journalists, especially the broadcasting, what the message he wants to reflect from the war. He said, first of all, thank you for the attention they're giving to him, but he hopes nobody from the children in the war they will suffer like what he suffer. ...
PHILLIPS: Doctor, does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the meaning? Does he understand it?
My recollection was that Phillips acted flabbergasted that Ali hoped nobody else had to suffer as he did. I also recall that she'd made some remark that the US invasion was for his good, but it doesn't appear in the transcript--unclear if it was scrubbed, or I just picked up on the subtext from seeing her expressions, etc. Anyway, I wrote to CNN right after the interview...in April. Glad they got my message.
Sen. Reid during his filibuster protest on Monday (PDF):
Looking around the desert, I noticed [rabbits] didn't eat cactus, or I thought they didn't eat cactus. They didn't eat desert cactus. They ate my cactus. We planted a bunch of cactus. I can't imagine how they can do it, but they eat some cactus--not all of them. I don't know the names of the cactus they don't eat. Some of the names I know. They don't eat the cholla. They don't eat the beaver tails. They don't eat a plant that is not native to Searchlight, Ocotilla from Arizona, a long stringy plant with stems that go up very high. They don't eat those.
So I have replanted my house several times. They are good, these rabbits.
[Update: we now have audio of the stunning historical speech, courtesy of faithful reader, Stradiotto.]
A while later, Sen. Roberts asked this probing question (PDF):
Did you ever solve the problem with the rabbits with regard to the cactus they would eat or wouldn't eat? And I was wondering if you thought about just basically desert rocks? They have some beautiful rocks out there and I doubt seriously if the rabbits would have eaten the rocks.
* Freedom...Up! - I share some of my experiences from Lithuania in 1990, when the nation was in the midst of a non-violent revolution to gain independence from the Soviet Union. Turns out, all people have the right and capacity to free themselves.
* To Love America - Who loves America? Conservatives would have you believe that only they do - that liberals hate America and everything it stands for. Kenneth Quinnell sets the record straight. Given what I saw over at TTLB the other day (e.g., "Liberals aren't stupid, they just hate America and the freedom she represents."), this is a must read.
The drive home from work today was what I call a "Star Trek experience": it's pitch black, the snow is flying, and the way it gets lit by my headlights makes it look the the ST:TNG effects when the Enterprise is going at warp speeds. It's cool to look at, but disorienting when you're trying to get home!
Not so bad near Burlington, but once I got closer to home, up at our elevation the roads were already pretty gross. We aren't going to get clobbered like Buffalo, but we expect 6 to 10 inches by tomorrow morning, and high winds. Whee!
Beatnik Joe over at TTLB complained the other day that my photo caption contests aren't productive. No duh. Thus, from now on all caption contests will be in his honor. Please join me in the inaugural Beatnik Joe Caption Contest.
Nothing up my sleeve:
Tax cuts, a few wars, and poof!
Since I need to make make this event as unproductive as possible to honor Beatnik Joe, I'm throwing a few twists into the game. The rules:
1) It's a hybrid caption contest and haiku contest, as you might have guessed, so your caption must be in the 5-7-5 haiku form.
2) You can either use the photo I've chosen, or you can go find a funnier one to captionize. Include the image location along with your entry in the comments (if you need help with that, lemme know). The subject must be George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, or L. Paul Bremer III.
3) Deadline is midnight UTC this Sunday.
Prizes: $7.00 Amazon gift certificate for first place, and 2 runner-ups will receive $5.00 certificates. Please provide your e-mail address in comments, or e-mail it to me if you have privacy concerns.
Alabama's judicial ethics panel removed Chief Justice Roy Moore from office Thursday for defying a federal judge's order to move a stone Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.
The nine-member Court of the Judiciary issued its unanimous decision after a one-day trial Wednesday. The panel, which includes judges, lawyers and non-lawyers, could have reprimanded Moore, continued his suspension or cleared him.
Moore said he was not surprised by the decision, which he called a step toward "prohibiting the public worship of God."
No, dipwad, it's a step away from theocracy. Go ahead and worship your god any way you want, just don't use your position as a servant of the State to shove it down people's throats. In other words: fulfill your constitutional (US and State) obligations.
[Update: Mustang Bobby over at BBWW compares Chief Justice Bonehead Moore and Sir Thomas More.]
¶ 2:49 PM
File Under: Waaah!
So by now you've probably heard that the Senate is in the midst of a 30 hour talkathon staged by the GOP to highlight the Dems' blocking of four Bush nominees for the bench. That's four (4) nominees. Not 50, such as the number of Clinton nominees the majority party (uh, that would be the GOP) blocked. A mere 2+2 (but these days, maybe that equals 5?). Boo freaking hoo.
Of course this all means the Dems are racist, obstructionist, and just plain not nice. How dare the opposition party fulfill their duty to oppose? Don't they know that too much democracy is dangerous? It's clear that the Democratic Party can only offer protests, pessimism and political hate speech. Poopyheads.
What really burns me is that the GOP, party of petulant children, is ignoring the needs of real American children. Ted Kennedy echoes my thoughts:
Thirty hours on judges?" said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, at the Democrats' late-night rally. "There are 13 million hungry children in America tonight but Republicans don't have time to debate that."
A lot of commentators in the blogosphere, myself included, have been saying we've got ourselves a one party state. Well, my tongue has firmly been planted in cheek, but it does seem that the GOP really believes it. It's gratifying to see that maybe the Democrats don't.
[Update: League member AND THEN... has an excellent take on Frist's slumber party. This is also a TTLB Showcase entry, so vote for it!]