Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

A New Move For The New Year

Our Bloggers Chess match has resumed, with Rook/Guy initiating the classic Ruy Lopez opening. Check out his New Year's Day post one day early. And somebody please tell me what I should do next!


Happy New Year!

Unclear how much blogging I'll be getting in over the next 48 hours. Check back obsessively, just in case I post something amazing.

Thanks very much for your readership in 2003 (well, the half I was blogging). Be safe and happy tonight, and I'll see you in 2004!


[Update: December was quite busy and a nice way to cap off the year:

Over 8500 visits this month! If only my retirement portfolio had a similar growth curve...]

The End Is Nigh


President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

The manifesto is contained in a new book [An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror] by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in Washington.
The book demands that any talks with North Korea require the complete and immediate abandonment of its nuclear programme.

As North Korea will probably refuse such terms, the book urges a Cuba-style military blockade and overt preparations for war, including the rapid pullback of US forces from the inter-Korean border so that they move out of range of North Korean artillery.

Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime in North Korea, the authors write.

The authoritarian rule of Syria's leader, Bashar Assad, should also be ended, encouraged by shutting oil supplies from Iraq, seizing arms he buys from Iran, and raids into Syria to hunt terrorists.

(via Atrios)

I'm sure Bush, reckless as he is, will swallow this manifesto hook, line, and mushroom cloud. Dean, on the other hand, rejects such dangerous ideas in favor of a more rational foreign policy. Once the public gets a look at the neocons' magical thinking approach to the world and Dean's vision grounded in reality, I'm optimistic that he will defeat the warmongers.


Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

It's Not Vietnam, It's Colombia

Of course I don't mean Iraq, but Afghanistan:

Two years after the U.S. dropped its first bombs over Afghanistan in President Bush’s global war against terrorism, the Taliban are reportedly regrouping in the lawless tribal region straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border...

In addition to the resurgence of the Taliban, Afghanistan has resumed harvesting massive amounts of opium and now accounts for 77 percent of global opium production according to the latest annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Twenty-eight out of 32 provinces in Afghanistan now produce the drug crop, up from 18 provinces in 1999. Cultivation has spread outside the traditional eastern and southern producing areas. The 3,600 tons of opium produced in Afghanistan last year was processed into 360 tons of heroin. The total revenues of poppy farmers and traffickers amounted to more than half of Afghanistan's gross domestic product of $4.4 billion. Drug money now finances local warlords and terrorists, possibly including the resurgent Taliban.

In military terms, the Taliban pose no significant threat to the 10,000 American troops based in and around Kabul. Their guerilla attacks have served only to scare away civilian aid workers and to limit foreigners to the environs of Kabul and other large cities. There is no chance that the Taliban will re-establish themselves as the rulers of any significant part of Afghanistan any time soon. But the absence of effective government and the persistence of security problems mean that an Islamist underground in Afghanistan will not be easily eliminated. The Taliban could continue to make Afghanistan ungovernable and could be serious wreckers of the planned process to build an Afghan democracy when elections are held as scheduled in 2004. Drug money would be another destabilizing factor in those elections. Afghanistan may never have been a candidate to become a new Vietnam, but it is clearly on its way to becoming a central Asian Colombia.

Thanks, Bush Doctrine!


On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're Bush's Dog

Kynn over at Shock and Awe provides the hed* and brings First Dog Barney's official blog to our attention:

I went looking in some of Daddy's old stuff.

I found a little plastic baggie! It was between the pages of that big thick book that Daddy has, but never seems ot read. I heard Mommy call it a "bye bull."

I carefully took the baggie from between the pages. There was something inside! It was a white powder.

I tore the baggie open and sniffed. Sniff sniff sniff! Hey! This is fun! Sniff sniff sniff!

Soon I had white powder all over my face!

A great dog's-eye view of life in the WH.


* Homage to the classic New Yorker cartoon.

[Update: I'm casting a vote for Barney in this week's Showcase at TTLB, if only because he's calling out Kasey the Howard Dean dog.] 

2004 Predictions

NRO has looked into its crystal ball and published predictions for 2004. Many contain some variation on the "Bush will win in a landslide" theme, along with a lot of other inanity. But why should overpaid pundits be the only ones who get to make completely wrong predictions? I'm getting in the game with my inaugural list:
You read it all here first. Any other predictions from my faithful readers?


Monday, December 29, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

But What About The Other Stuff?


The Arab dailies Asharq Al-Awsat and Al-Hayat reported Monday that Dr. Iyad Allawi told them in interviews the former Iraqi leader admitted he invested stolen Iraqi money -- which the Iraqi Governing Council estimates at $40 billion -- in Switzerland, Japan and Germany, among others, under fictitious company names.

Allawi also told the papers that Saddam is giving the "names of people who know the location of hidden arsenals used in terrorist attacks against coalition forces and the Governing Council."

Allawi is quoted saying, "Saddam Hussein's trial would not be public since he could name countries and persons whom he gave money."

Hmm...what three little letters are missing? That's right: WMD.

Well, I'd take anything coming from the IGC with a grain of salt, anyway. I'm still not entirely convinced Saddam knows much of anything about the insurgency (despite the fact that I think there was a planned guerrilla campaign). And it's interesting that Allawi says Saddam's trial would not be public. Might we also learn something about US complicity when Saddam gassed his own people?


Rocky Howard Picture Show

"That man has no neck!"


Why I'm Not A Democrat: Reasons #217 and #218

#217 from Atrios:

#218 is related, and is also from Atrios. He has a post and comment thread that really annoyed me. It's about Dean's recent statements, which are similar to what he's said in the past, about how he can't command his followers to line up and enthusiastically support another Dem candidate. Many people over at Eschaton are up in arms over that observation. I don't have time to go into it now, so just check out the thread and lemme know what you think.

Bottom-line for me: Dean is right, and all the hand-wringing is part of why I don't like parties in the first place. I'm suspicious of any group that espouses a pure faith.


Sunday, December 28, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

I Think This Is Good


Israel announced Sunday it will evacuate four settlement outposts in the West Bank and ease restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza.
The Israeli Defense Ministry said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed an order Sunday to evacuate four outposts in the West Bank -- Bat Eyin, Havat Shaked, Hazon David and Ginot Arieh.

I might be mistaken, but I think this is the farthest Israel has gone toward dismantling settlements. I think Sharon had made noise about doing this before, but backed down using Palestinian violence as an excuse. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to look for sources confirming or denying that recollection right now.


My Back Hurts

The 0.6 HP NTodd snow thrower isn't working so well. I hope I didn't burn out my back shoveling the few hundred cubic feet of heavy snow in front of my garage bay. Maybe if I had no back at all...

...seems to work for Sam.

And in the interest of equal time, here's some video of Cairo engaged in one of her favorite endeavors: ripping apart the stuffing from a freshly-gutted hedgehog. At least I feel better than that poor toy!



Stef and I watched the new Battlestar Galactica last night (Dad Tivoed it for us), and I just re-watched it tonight. Wow.

I thought they did a great job paying homage to the original series, excellent job updating and expanding the vision and story. I think they even made things more realistic--still had sound in space, which always annoys me, but a lot of nice attention to detail regarding how ships in space might function, and the use of projectiles instead of energy weapons is a nice touch and even made things more dramatic.

I also dig the female Starbuck and Boomer, and even #6. Hoo yeah.


Marked Card

Over at alicublog there's a nice deconstruction of Orson Scott Card's laughable assertion that he's a Democrat:

[W]hat have we got? A guy who claims to be a Democrat, but whose main expressed belief is that Democrats are evil traitors for whom decent people should never vote.

(via StoutDemBlog.)

Why do I care what an SF writer thinks about politics? What bugs the crap out of me about Card is that he seems to claim he's a Dem just so he can sound "fair and balanced" as he takes a contrarian position against "his" party. His real purpose strikes me as merely giving wingers the opportunity to say "See, even a Democrat thinks XYZ."

I'm not a big fan of the Democratic Party (or any party), as faithful readers know, but I hate to see someone who is so clearly not a Dem say that he is. The combination of that "wolf in sheep's clothing" BS with Card's heavy reliance on strawmen and red herrings in his oft-quoted political writing is making me develop a healthy dislike of the man.


Screwing The Pooch, American Style


Strike up a conversation and the cabbies will most likely tell you what seems to have become the conventional wisdom today: not even Saddam Hussein could have screwed up this badly.

Yup, the reconstruction of Iraq proceeds according to plan. Or maybe according to the genius of our non-plan. Eh, what's the difference?

One might ask the same question about comparing Iraq and Vietnam. Robert Kaiser does a good job of answering that in today's WaPo:

"History doesn't repeat itself, at best it rhymes," Mark Twain is credited with saying. This is a wise warning. A close examination of Iraq and Vietnam quickly makes clear the limits of any analogy. There are just too many differences to justify putting these two entanglements in the same category.

But it's easy to find the rhymes...Sometimes the rhymes ring like chimes. For example:
  • Official optimism.

  • American isolation on the ground.

  • American isolation in the world.

  • The primacy of American political considerations.

Vietnam undermined the U.S. economy, nearly destroyed the U.S. Army and contributed to a generation or more of public cynicism and distrust of government. There are no grounds today for predicting consequences as grave from the war in Iraq. Indeed, a successful outcome, including a new democratic Iraq, remains possible. But the rhymes should give us pause.

This hits exactly the right note. I, for one, never have claimed Iraq and Vietnam are identical, yet I find the analogy between the conflicts to be generally instructive. Just as our own tragic chapter in Vietnam's history was presaged by France's quagmire, previous interventions can inform us with regard to our involvement in Iraq. Many proponents of the war in Iraq desperately try to dash any comparison to Vietnam, with objections ranging from the fairly reasonable (e.g., the Iraqi resistance ain't the Viet Cong) to laughable strawmen (e.g., Iraq doesn't have any jungles). All of these really miss the wider lessons of Vietnam: an indigenous force will ultimately always defeat an occupier; not even a superpower can win a war in isolation; lying to gain support for a war is a dangerous propositon.

Of course, all analogies break down at some point. Take the appeasement argument that led LBJ to increase our involvement in Southeast Asia. Johnson felt we needed to stand up to North Vietnam, lest we reward the commies for their aggression. As Jeffrey Record observes in a Air War College paper:

[T]he differences between Hitler's Germany of the 1930s and 1940s and Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam of the 1960s were so profound as to make Munich an enemy of sound judgment by the United States on Vietnam.

Munich has been invoked regarding Iraq many times by the pro-war camp, ignoring the myriad differences between Hitler and Hussein just as they ignored the obvious differences between Hitler and Ho. Not surprising, given the binary worldview that only saw inaction or war as the two options in dealing with Saddam. Casting successful containment of Iraq as "appeasement" came naturally to them.

No matter what analogy you prefer, the tragedy in Iraq continues: Iraq blasts kill 2 U.S. soldiers, 2 Iraqi children. Since Saddam Hussein was captured, A couple dozen coalition troops have been killed, and who knows how many civilians.

And lest we forget our other botched exercise in nation building: Suicide bomber kills 5 in Kabul. Only a superpower like America has the ability to invade and screw up two countries simultaneously.

I have no idea how our two quagmires will turn out, but I know this: we need to stop sticking our feet into them. Howard Dean might fall into the same traps, and will definitely create rhymes of his own, but I'm very optimistic that his foreign policy will be more reasonable than Bush's, and will offer us the best chance to avoid such pitfalls because it won't be so reckless.


[Update: I've made a few edits to fix a couple formatting things or other stuff that annoyed me.] 

Sunday Reading

Check these out:

* Over at Collective Sigh, andante has found her Rep in a deck of GOP Playing Cards.

* At Open Source Politics, Joe Taylor tells us about Hunger and How to End It.

* edwardpig is skeptical of The Ownership Society that Bush will be pushing.

* Peter at Kick the Leftist tells us about Progress in Iraq.

* At BBWW, Mustang Bobby tells us why the GOP is really afraid of Dean.

* Scout of And Then... describes the latest Bush shell game.

* "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" sayeth Lambert at corrente.

* Steve Gilliard says it's time to take the gloves off.

* Allen Brill offers a Christmas Apology at The Right Christians.

Yup, still too lazy to provide editorial comments. Busy^3.


''U.S. Power Decides Iraq's Economic Future''


In the end, the Bush administration's decision to limit the contract bidding is important since it signifies the further erosion of current norms of world order and international law. In fact, the war began in much the same manner: foreign countries such as France and Russia that already had contracts in Iraq were told by the Bush administration that their contracts wouldn't be honored by the new U.S.-controlled Iraqi government unless these countries supported a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a U.S. invasion.

This establishes a dangerous precedent: if a state is powerful enough, it can invade another, install a puppet government -- whether interim or permanent -- and then decide that country's economic future and structure. Indeed, Wolfowitz admitted as much, asserting, "Limited competition for prime contracts will encourage the expansion of international cooperation in Iraq and in future efforts."

Wolfowitz's statements not only acted as an attempt to dangle an economic carrot in front of the world's eyes, but also foreshadowed possible U.S. interventions in the future that would be undertaken using similar methods, without the involvement of the United Nations or other international bodies.

In the Bush Doctrine we trust, all others pay cash.


Blogging Resumes Soon

Okay, got the damn weather station PC working, and I'll get to some blogging soon. It's going to be light over the next several days because I need to: dig out my garage (damn nationwide snow thrower shortage), finish my damn book project (I got an extension), hang out with a couple important boys (nephews of a friend of mine from way back), spend New Year's with my best friends from college (and their spouses), and celebrate Stef's birthday (she already got an early vaporware present: a promise of an iPod, which we tried to buy at Circuit City yesterday only to discover there's a nationwide shortage). Whew!


Saturday, December 27, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


I just spent a couple hours troubleshooting an old computer that I use for a weather station--I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say, things are not working as expected, so now I'm just surly and have no interest in blogging.


Throwing Snow

Stef and I are going to get a snow thrower today, if we can find one. Home Despot only has really small ones or big 11 HP models in stock--all the midranges are gone. Given the size of the snow berm in front of my garage bay right now, that might be required. Anyway, we're going to enjoy a beautiful day and get a little shopping in as well. Back in a few hours.


Friday, December 26, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Agnew Lives

Okay, Atrios and Kos already have covered this, but...:

President Bush's campaign has settled on a plan to run against Howard Dean that would portray him as reckless, angry and pessimistic...

Yeah, that seems like a winning strategery. As I noted over at Eschaton, here are some words from Dean's recent foreign policy speech:

I believe that, with new leadership, and strengthened partnerships, America can turn around the situation in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. I believe we can defeat terrorism and advance peace and progress. I believe these things because I believe in America's promise. I believe in our capacity to come together as a people, and to act in the world with confidence, guided by our highest aspirations.

Does that sound like the words of a nattering nabob of negativism? Given the great damage Bush has wrought, this strikes me as the height of optimism.


Cat Blogging Coincidentally On Friday

As faithful readers know, I cat blog whenever I damn well feel like it, so I don't owe Kevin Drum any royalties for FCB.

Christmas Day Truce is now over, and Saffron defends her favorite haunt: my laptop case.

The soon-to-be-emasculated Sam quickly became distracted with some ribbon over by the dining room table.


[Update: special dog blogging addition:

This is for Jesse (and I guess Jeff, too, amongst others).]

Peace And Protest

Just got word of a new peace website set up by Mike Palecek in an e-mail:

Mike Palecek is an Iowa author, former federal prisoner for peace, seminarian, and newspaper reporter. He was the Iowa Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. House, 5th District, 2000 election.

Check it out!


Blogroll Addition

Our very own tinheart has a blog, Green Voicemail, and you must read it.


Post NODWISH Blogaround


* Lawrence of Cyberia covers the latest insanity from the IDF regarding conscientious objectors: "The Worst Of Criminals".

* Steve Gilliard has more than A few words about gun control.

* Stradiotto commits Heresy!

* Rook has a conversation going about his prediction that the GOP convention is going to be ugly.

* The Politburo Diktat has an interesting suggestion for finding Osama bin Missing.


Christmas in Baghdad...

Baghdad Burning:

Explosions and bombing almost all day yesterday and deep into the night. At some points it gets hard to tell who is bombing who? Resistance or Americans? Tanks or mortars? Cluster bombs or IEDs? Nothing on the see the reports on CNN, Abu Dhabi, and Al-Arabia you'd think there was nothing going on in Baghdad beyond the usual thumps and thuds. Yesterday was *very* unusual. Embassies, mines, residential areas and the Green Zone… and the sirens. I hate the sirens. I can stand the explosions, the rattling windows, the slamming doors, the planes, the helicopters… but I feel like my heart is wailing when I hear the sirens.

The explosions haven't really put anyone in a very festive spirit...
This year, the Christmas service was early and many people didn't go because they either didn't have gasoline, or just didn't feel safe driving around Baghdad in the evening. Many of them also couldn't join their families because of the security situation. Abu Josef's family have aunts and uncles in a little village north of Mosul. Every year, the extended relatives come down and stay in their house for a week to celebrate Christmas and New Year. This year they've decided to stay in their village because it just isn't safe to leave their home and head for Baghdad.

At one point during the evening, the house was dark and there was no electricity. We sat, gathered around on the ground, eating date-balls and watching Abu Josef's dog chew on the lowest branch of the tree. The living room was lit by the warm light radiating from the kerosene heater and a few Christmas candles set on the coffee table. Abu Josef's phone suddenly rang shrilly and Abu Josef ran to pick it up. It was his brother in Toronto and it was the perfect Christmas gift because it was the first time Abu Josef got an overseas call since the war- we were all amazed.


Thursday, December 25, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Happy Tree Friends

OMG, this is some disgustingly funny animation (via Blah3). My wife says I'm a bad Quaker for enjoying stuff like this, but I call it catharsis.



My folks left a little while ago after a very nice dinner and gift exchange. The animals are all zonked, having spent an exciting day ripping paper to shreds and chasing ribbons. A couple inches of fresh snow with more white stuff falling (8 inches by tomorrow, we're told), wonderful NODWISH music on VPR, flickering candles, a warm house, a full belly...a good day. Time for some good liberal guilt for being so lucky.


An Orange Christmas

Our Merry Orange Alert on this Christian holiday reminded me of something that most Christian of all Christians, Ann Coulter, said about Muslims right after 9/11:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

And that reminded me of one of my favorite songs from South Park, Merry F'ing Christmas1 (lyrics, mp3):

I heard there is no Christmas,
In the silly Middle East...
No Trees, no Snow, no Santa Claus,
They have Different Religious beliefs...
They Believe in Muhammad,
And not in our Holiday...
And so every December,
I go to the Middle East and say...

Hey there Mr Muslim, Merry F'ing Christmas
Put down that book 'The Koran'
and hear some holiday wishes
In case you haven't noticed,
it's Jesus's Birthday
So get off your heathen Muslim Ass
And f'ing celebrate.

Oh, that always makes me laugh.2 Does that mean I'm a bad person? And bringing it all full circle, here's a story from last week's Onion:

On almost every corner in Iraq's capital city, carolers are singing, trees are being trimmed, and shoppers are rushing home with their packages—all under the watchful eye of U.S. troops dedicated to bringing the magic of Christmas to Iraq by force.

I must be a bad person, because this makes me laugh, too.3 A thought occurs: maybe Ann Coulter was just engaging in satire back in 2001? Hmm...


1 - Yes, I did some censoring. Guess which word.

2 - On a serious note, read this paper about addressing root causes.

3 - On another serious note, let's not forget that our soldiers are spending Christmas far from home: Troops kick off Christmas festivities in Saddam's former base. Come home soon.

[Update: realized I hadn't linked to Ann's article. Oversight corrected.] 

All I Want For NODWISH

A new preznit.

My folks gave me what I wanted for NODWISH: a donation to the Dean campaign.


PS--WaPo has a piece on web-based fundraising. Guess who gets most of the ink? 

X-mas Present From The Court: Cleaner Air


A federal appeals court on Wednesday at least temporarily blocked a Bush administration rule, due to take effect on Friday, that would have relaxed existing regulations and so allowed hundreds of aging power and industrial plants to make upgrades without installing modern pollution controls.

The order, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, indicates that the court has substantial doubt about the White House's claims that it has authority to modify the Clean Air Act by regulation and that its changes would not hurt the environment.
The ruling on Wednesday essentially places a burden on the administration to justify a regulatory change that it has been unable to accomplish through the legislative process...
When [the Clean Air Act] was enacted, it exempted from its requirements for modern, expensive pollution controls those plants that were already in operation. Lawmakers assumed that these "grandfathered" plants would be replaced over time by new ones.

Instead of building new plants, though, some utilities upgraded the existing ones, avoiding the costs of the emissions controls while adding to capacity, and to pollution.

In response, Congress modified the law, requiring that upgrades were to be considered "new sources" of pollution and thus subject to the control requirements. Industry subsequently objected that what environmentalists and government frequently considered upgrades were in fact nothing more than routine maintenance, which the requirements did not cover.

The battle has raged ever since...

Ah, the sweet smell of victory. Well, the battle ain't over yet, but we can breathe a bit easier this holiday. Have a merry...


Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Account Of A Visit From St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
except for Sam (and the mice in the basement)...

Blogging will be light tomorrow, as will be the traffic, I suspect. If you're celebrating X-mas (or even if you're not), have a safe and happy day.

And now I have to go to bed: Santa's almost here!



We made the annual pilgrimage to the light show at the old lady's house in Fairfax, about 6 miles from us (I should note that we pass by the house any time we go into town, and we try to stop to check out the display and chat with the folks). Her granddaughter gave us the tour this year, and as usual there were some new decorations added to the spectacle. Here's a sampling:

A panorama of the front yard. This is not the whole yard, but maybe only 30 feet less than the entire length.

An example of one of the windows on the house front. There are a total of 85 of these dolls throughout the display. Up from about 75 last year.

The Big Guy himself--a new addition since last year. He dances and sings "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I didn't take any video.

There's more in the backyard, but I didn't shoot any pics. It's an awesome mixture of the sacred and profane, er...secular, with a certain method to the zoning. Many of the decorations are animated, and some play music, so there's a soundtrack as you walk the paths around the path.

They started putting the decorations up in July this year. In past years tour buses have come to see the sight, and there's been TV coverage--this year things have been a little more low key. The lights are on until 10PM each night, and they'll be shut down this Sunday, when the chore of tearing everything down begins.


HaloScan Back Online

I'll be taking the BlogSpeak comments down shortly. In the meantime, use the HaloScan link (the first one, not the one that says "Temp Comments") to leave comments. I'll move the stuff left in BlogSpeak over to HS so it will be easier to follow the split threads.

BlogSpeak comments moved to HaloScan (it's ugly, but they're there for continuity). BlogSpeak has been removed.


Merry Christmas From Nader


Ralph Nader, whose 2000 campaign many Democrats believe cost former vice president Al Gore the presidency, has decided not to run for president next year as the candidate of the Green Party but is still contemplating a presidential race as an independent, a Nader associate said yesterday.

Well, one major victory in convincing Ralph "Ego" Nader not to run as a Green (I think the party itself wasn't too sure they wanted him). I doubt an indy run will be as scary, but I sure would like him to stay out altogether.

I hear tell the Greens are considering putting up a candidate in "safe states" only--not sure if that's a bright idea either, but maybe it will help them build their organization with minimal risk of helping elect Bush. I like that they're at least a) thinking about the larger ramifications of a Green candidate, and b) actually focusing on building the party slowly, rather than grabbing for the brass ring right away. Shows that maybe the party is maturing.


Christmas Movies

My favorite movies at NODWISH time:

1) The Snowman - One of my favorite songs of all time is Walking in the Air--oddly enough, not the movie version as much as the one from Christmas with the Pops (I also like George Wintson's).

2) A Christmas Story - While I never wanted an Official Red Ryder carbine action BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time, Ralphie's quest reminds me of my own myriad childhood Christmas obsessions.

3) It's a Wonderful Life - Donna Reed. Nuff said.

4) A Charlie Brown Christmas - Linus is my hero. Charlie Brown's pathetic tree, the true meaning of Christmas, and all that jazz.

5) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - I've always felt like I belonged on the Isle of Misfit Toys. "Eat, Papa, Eat!"

Watching these shows always puts me in the NODWISH spirit. What are your quintessential holiday movies?


[Update: I was lazy and just copied 5 BlogSpeak comments into a single post in HaloScan. Hopefully it's not too much a pain in the ass to read. And c'mon, people! What are your favorite NODWISH movies? What, are you, like, interacting with family or something? That reminds me, Stef wants me to vacuum--my folks are coming over tomorrow.] 


Comments seem to be only half working: you can read 'em, but not add your own thoughts. Sigh.


[Update: lots of folks have been complaining on the HS support forum, so maybe this will get fixed sometime before 2004. In the meantime, I'm going to try to set up a temp BlogSpeak comment section.] 

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Interesting WaPo-ABC Poll


Asked whether they would vote for Bush or an unnamed Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, 50 percent of those surveyed said Bush while 41 percent said the Democrat.
Asked to choose among the nine candidates for the Democratic nomination, 31 percent of registered Democrats said they favored Dean, up from 20 percent a week ago and 15 percent in October. No other Democrat reached double digits.
The Post-ABC poll suggests that Dean's recent surge has come disproportionately from Democrats who do not closely identify with their party. In mid-October, Dean claimed the support of one in six Democratic-leaning independents and an equal proportion of party rank and file. Today, he gets significantly more support from independent Democrats (35 percent) than he does from party faithful (26 percent).

As a candidate in the general election, Dean starts well behind Bush in the public's estimation. In an early test of strength, 55 percent of those surveyed said that if the election were held today, they would vote to reelect the president, and 37 percent said they would favor Dean. No other Democrat was tested against Bush in the Post-ABC poll.

A few interesting things:

1) Dean is polling about the same against Bush as he was for the past few months. Consistent, not losing any ground against the incumbent.

2) Dean is polling about the same as the unnamed Dem (MOE +/- 3%). Damn it, this is yet another poll that didn't match any other Dem against Bush. Regardless, Dean has been polling about the same as the other Dems in various polls, giving lie to the "unelectable" meme.

3) While lots of pundits focus on Dean's alleged weakness in foreign affairs, the most important issue for Dems is overwhelmingly the economy (51%), followed by health care and education (13%). Given other polling, I don't think that's too far from the American mainstream.

I'm also encouraged by the fact that Dean is motivating more independent Dems. Shows that he's striking a chord with people who will be very important in the general election. Really, extremely positive results for a challenger 11 months from the election. Still lots of work to do, so let's get to it!


Al Qaeda Targets Small Towns?


[N]ew intelligence indicated that bin Laden himself had approved the most recent plan for major attacks, along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, his deputy.

U.S. officials and terrorism experts said that while some of the potential targets might seem unusual, there was a method to al-Qaida's plot.

For example, the officials said, al-Qaida seems particularly interested in Tappahannock, Va., a tiny town of 2,016 people with no military base or major infrastructure. Such an attack would be intended to generate widespread fear that no one was safe, even in small rural towns, they said.

Since 9/11 I've often speculated about the efficacy of attacking a rural community in Vermont or other states*. I've always rejected the notion, maybe because I live in a small place and hope that will protect me, but I also wonder how much terror such an attack would really cause. The death toll and economic damage would be horrific, though it wouldn't be as significant as another attack on an urban center, so would that really terrorize Americans as much? I'm not so sure.

While the underlying principle of terrorism might be to demonstrate that anybody can be struck down at any time, anywhere, I think they would have to focus on places where they'd have the highest degree of success and impact. Crashing a plane into the tallest building in Burlington certainly isn't as devastating in any sense as destroying the WTC, no matter how you look at it, and I think more difficult to carry out--low return for higher work factor.

On the other hand, Tappahannock might not have a lot infrastructure or importance per se, but it is near places that do, in addition to being rural. A small town in VA, a couple hours from DC, might make an ideal target given its proximity to the seat of government, large airports, etc.

Alternately, all this "chatter" could just be bullshit. Certainly a cheap way to instill fear and make us waste resources without any risk to al Qaeda. Here's hoping...


* [Update: When I went to St. Louis for the first time back in '99, visiting some of Stef's relatives, we went to the Arch. While I was taking pics, I saw a TWA plane getting ready to land--looked like it was flying under the Arch--and I wondered what would happen if a terrorist crashed a plane into such a landmark. After I learned that the Arch was designed to withstand earthquakes and super high winds, I rejected the idea. Shows how prescient I am.] 


The hed is a direct quote from my wife, who brought this VPR story to my attention:

Wal-Mart has unveiled plans to build its largest store in the state. The facility will be located in Saint Albans town. Governor Jim Douglas says the proposal may be the first of several new Wal-Marts planned for Vermont.

The new store, which will be located just north of Saint Albans City, will be 35 percent larger than any other existing Wal-Mart in the state. Officials say the facility will employ roughly 400 people and about 300 of these jobs would be full-time positions.

400 jobs is significant in Vermont, accounting for 0.1% in our employment stats. Still, I have a hard time accepting that another Wal-Mart is our salvation, especially since many of the jobs we've lost are well-paid IBM positions. Wal-Mart also has a tendency to drive down wages in surrounding stores--we saw that when the first came to Williston, VT, several years ago--and destroy the character of our small towns. I really like Gov Douglas*, but I'm not happy about this news.


* Jim's a Republican, and I've voted for him when he's run for lower constitutional offices--I think he's generally a good steward. I did not vote for him last election, for fear of GOP-domination of the State, possibly threatening civil unions and our environmental protection laws, amongst other things. 


It was okay.


OSP Reading

3 posts at Open Source Politics you might be interested in:

* Was Saddam Actually Captured On December 13? - N. Todd Pritsky takes a look at the nuanced world reaction, particularly in the Middle East, to Saddam Hussein's capture on 13 December, 2003.

* Republican Plot Uncovered - Kenneth Quinnell discovers the secret Bush plan for domination of the White House.

* Judge Upholds Eliminating Snowmobiles in Yellowstone - When the Bush gang puts profits and cronyism before the environment, that's business as usual. But when a judge publicly nails the US Resident for it, that's news. Loren Webster has the story.

We're finally going to see ROTK in just a couple hours. Woohoo!


Body And Soul On The Quake

Jeanne on her fam's experience:

My daughter was a bit scared (first earthquake), but she got under the kitchen table and held onto the leg just like she learned in kindergarten. Her big brother tried to explain to her why there are earthquakes but I don't think she appreciated the part about California breaking off and falling into the ocean.

(hat tip to faithful reader, Steve Bates, in comments below)

Jeanne's family is OK.

I used to teach quite a bit in CA, and always wondered if there'd be a quake before I could get home to the more stable ground of Vermont. Never happened. I'll take snowstorms any day.


Monday, December 22, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Hack's Christmas Wish


As we enjoy our holidays in our comfortable homes, our over-committed defenders are stretched around the globe to the breaking point and beyond. This Christmas, almost half a million U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are defending freedom in places the average American can't even locate on a map...

It's a no-brainer that we should all support our warriors, who are paying such a high price on our behalf this year. But with that support comes the responsibility of thinking citizens to ask hard questions, such as:

Why are our forces defending other countries' borders while ours remain vulnerable? Why, for example, is our own homeland virtually undefended while we have almost 200,000 regular, Guard and Reserve troops securing Japan, South Korea and Germany - strong, prosperous counties that at this point would have no problem protecting themselves?

And how long can our badly stretched defense team continue carrying this senseless heavy burden? And what's going to happen next year in Iraq when 250,000 soldiers and Marines rotate in and out of that tar pit in one of the largest unit swaps in U.S. military history?

Hopefully, our Christmas 2004 stocking will be stuffed with a smarter, more rational redistribution of our most precious assets - our men and women in uniform.

What do I want for Christmas dinner next year? A lame duck. Then maybe we'll get a more rational foreign policy altogether.


The Bush Tax

I don't know why I never got around to posting about this Dean site, The Bush Tax:

[O]ur children and grandchildren will be paying the Bush Tax. Bush promised, "I came to this office to solve problems and not pass them on to future presidents and future generations." Yet as a direct consequence of his tax policy, over six years an American family of four will take on $52,000 more in its share of the national debt. That's the Bush Tax.

Some tax cut, eh?


Sharing A Moment

Cairo and Sam are getting along much better these days.
In fact, moments after this pic was taken, they fell asleep,


Al Qaeda Strikes CA

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge revealed today that the international terrorist organization, al Qaeda, has acquired a secret seismic weapon called Project Destiny. A day after Mr Ridge announced the US terror alert level had been raised to Orange, al Qaeda apparently has struck with this terrible new weapon, unleashing a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in central California*.

Speaking to reporters about the stunning development, President Bush cautioned people to not panic. "Everything is under control, and we're...uh, Secretary Ridge has my full confidence, my full expectation that he will prevent future attacks of this kind, of this nature." When asked about the threat that al Qaeda could stop the earth's inner core from rotating, thus causing the electromagnetic field to collapse and rendering most of our military technology useless, Mr Bush said, "They can do that?"

The Defense Department had apparently speculated about this very potential. A memo from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that was leaked to the press indicated that many in Pentagon saw this as an opportunity to develop special nuclear devices that would penetrate to the center of the earth and detonate, presumably reactivating the core and saving the world from total destruction. Mr Rumsfeld declined to comment on the memo, but a senior DoD official did say that not only has the military budgeted for developing this new brand of nukes, but it also is working on an American version of the seismic weapon, code named Project Big One.

In response to today's attack, Secretary Ridge raised the terror alert level to Blood Red and asked that Americans continue to go about their holiday shopping. "I think it's very, very important to send a message to the terrorists of goodwill and resolve," Ridge said.


* Sorry for making light of the quake, but I couldn't resist tackling the coincidence. I hope the initial reports of minimal damage and injuries hold true. Be well.

[Update: added a couple links, and the Ridge quote at the end.]

[Another update: looks like 2 people were killed by the quake. My sincere condolences.] 

I Have Some Christian Friends

The Corner's John Derbyshire:

Yesterday, off to a third-night-of-Hanukkah party given by some Jewish friends.

Do you really need to say "Jewish friends"? I know non-Jews might throw such a party, but does their religious affiliation matter in either case? Seems you could easily say "third-night-of-Hanukkah party given by some friends."

I guess it's not a big deal, but somehow that stuck in my craw. I mean, heck, Saturday night we went to a Christmas party thrown by some friends. Do you need any qualifiers about said friends to understand that we went to a party?

Oh, and this annoyed me too:

I came away wiser and more respectful, and vowing never to speak lightly of Hanukkah again. It's not just an excuse for Jews to party at Christmastime, it's a real festival with a serious message to it. And some TERRIFIC food.

I'm pleased he's now enlightened (pun intended) and no longer will dismiss somebody else's holiday. Wonder how John feels about things like Ramadan Eid Al-Fitr* and Kwanza. I'll be they have some TERRIFIC food, too. Oy.


* [Update: I probably should've said Eid, not Ramadan, given the next sentence. Or maybe using Ramadan as the example is more ironic?] 

The Unconquered Sun

Today will be 8 hours, 48 minutes long in our neck of the woods, and it only gets better from here. Happy Solstice!


Sunday, December 21, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Speaking Of Getting Married

Atrios brought this to my attention:

Terrence McNally, the playwright, and Thomas Joseph Kirdahy, a public-interest lawyer, affirmed their partnership last evening at the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover, Vt. Millicent B. Atkin, a justice of the peace for Dover, Vt., performed the civil union ceremony.

I know this ain't exactly the same as marriage, but I'm just damn glad I live in a state that was able to muster the will to pass civil unions given the political climate of the day, let alone the current environment.

Before passage, Vermonters were against even civil unions by more than a 2 to 1 margin (70% con, IIRC), and many towns had informal referenda, and there were lots of public hearings with all sorts of hand wringing. We got a flier in our mailbox telling us that if the bill passed, fags would flock to Vermont, bringing AIDS, turning our beaches into depraved places of nude frolic, and making our kids gay. One Rep gave a speech in the House telling us that God's wrath would literally come down upon our State. I do not exaggerate any of this.

In the face of intense opposition, the Legislature did the right thing and passed the civil unions bill, which did protect gay couples' civil rights at the state level, though it does nothing for them from the Fed POV. Gov Dean signed the law privately, which many decried. I have no problems with his decision--this was a divisive issue, and I see no value in his rubbing the victory in people's faces.

As it was, the GOP took control of the House as a result of the ensuing backlash--many GOP candidates campaigned on the issue and promised to repeal the abomination. In the wake of the CU law, the Take Back Vermont movement was born*. Fortunately the Dems held the Senate, effectively preventing any reversal, and Dean also won a very close three-way election, assailed on both the Right and Left.

The CU concept isn't perfect, and I know some people want universal marriage rights. I'm cool with gay marriage, but I'm also pragmatic about all this: if we can make progress and create an institution that does actually guarantee all the same civil rights as marriage, I don't give a rat's ass what we call it. I've been told I'm immoral for supporting gay rights, and I've also been condemned for being an incrementalist. Such is life in the middle--maybe that's why I admire Dean so much.

Apropos of nothing, my wife and I were married on this date by a local JP who conducts civil union ceremonies. We deliberately chose her because of that.

Anyway, congratulations and best wishes to McNally and Kirdahy. Hopefully some day people won't have to come to Vermont to celebrate their unions, and will enjoy their fundamental rights no matter where they live. I look forward to the day that this isn't news.


* [Update: I should note that the current owner of the domain is not associated with the original movement. We still see "Take Back Vermont" signs, usually in front of homes in Vermont's so-called Northeast Kingdom, where we have a camp (cottage or cabin to you folks outside of New England). The whole point of the movement was to "take back Vermont" from, uh...I'm not sure who exactly. Apparently bad people in Montpelier who ignore the will of The People, or something.] 

Peace On Earth

The menagerie peacefully shares a bit of tuna fish as a special Solstice treat*.


* The Winter Solstice is actually at 02:04 tomorrow, but none of us will be awake then. And yes, it is our "first second" anniversary: on the Winter Solstice, 12/21/2001, we were married in a private civil ceremony by a JP, with Cairo as our only witness. Our public wedding was 9/23/2002 (we celebrated our "second first" anniversary in September).

[Update: yes, Sam at 14 weeks is roughly the same size as Saffron, who we estimate is 16 years old. They both are about 5.5 lbs. Saffy was the runt of her litter and has always been scrawny.] 

Time Person Of The Year: The American Soldier

Concur 100%. Our troops were indeed the most newsworthy this year, and they deserve recognition and respect from all of us.


Wonder If DHS Will Hire Me?

The Department of Homeland Security clearly needs a webmaster who is on the ball. CNN:

The United States raised its terror threat level from yellow (elevated) to orange (high) on Sunday, citing a "substantial increase" in intelligence pointing to threats during the holidays season that are "perhaps greater now than at any point" since 9/11.

Yet this is what shows up on the DHS website:

So, Secretary Ridge, will you give me a job to keep your site updated?


[Update: Seriously, this is just a stupid, stupid system. I still don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do in response to the Orange level. Is this when I have to get out the plastic sheeting and duct tape? Should I turn in swarthy people to the local authorities? Dunno. Yesterday's Boondocks says it all for me:

What confuses me is that we're safer now that Saddam was captured, right? So why the elevation? What's that you say? We're not? Ah. so Howard Dean wasn't crazy afterall. And apparently most of us are on board with him:

Dean has said that while he applauds the U.S.' capture of Saddam, it will not make the U.S. any safer, and most voters agree. 85 percent of Democratic primary voters think the threat to the U.S. will either rise or stay just as it is following Saddam's capture -- a feeling shared by 78 percent of all voters nationwide.

Happy Holidays from the DOD and DHS.]

[Update, 12/22, sometime this afternoon the DHS finally updated their website:

Now I feel more secure.]

Brief Humor Blogaround

I found these posts to be excellent:

* The Politburo Diktat's Gandalf the Unilateral.

* Collective Sigh's "Axis of Evil" Mourns Libya's Loss.


Saturday, December 20, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Hopefully BushCo Won't Crack The Code

Frank Rich at the NYTimes gets it:

I am not a partisan of Dr. Dean or any other Democratic candidate. I don't know what will happen on Election Day 2004. But I do know this: the rise of Howard Dean is not your typical political Cinderella story. The constant comparisons made between him and George McGovern and Barry Goldwater — each of whom rode a wave of anger within his party to his doomed nomination — are facile...

The elusive piece of this phenomenon is cultural: the Internet. Rather than compare Dr. Dean to McGovern or Goldwater, it may make more sense to recall Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. It was not until F.D.R.'s fireside chats on radio in 1933 that a medium in mass use for years became a political force. J.F.K. did the same for television, not only by vanquishing the camera-challenged Richard Nixon during the 1960 debates but by replacing the Eisenhower White House's prerecorded TV news conferences (which could be cleaned up with editing) with live broadcasts. Until Kennedy proved otherwise, most of Washington's wise men thought, as The New York Times columnist James Reston wrote in 1961, that a spontaneous televised press conference was "the goofiest idea since the Hula Hoop."
[J]ust as anything can happen in politics, anything can happen on the Internet. The music industry thought tough talk, hard-knuckle litigation and lobbying Congress could stop the forces unleashed by Shawn Fanning, the teenager behind Napster. Today the record business is in meltdown, and more Americans use file-sharing software than voted for Mr. Bush in the last presidential election. The luckiest thing that could happen to the Dean campaign is that its opponents remain oblivious to recent digital history and keep focusing on analog analogies to McGovern and Goldwater instead.

(via corrente)

There's more to Dean than the Internet, of course, but the way his campaign has used the medium is nothing short of extraordinary. Or rather, it is extraordinary how the medium and the grassroots have enveloped his campaign, and Howie has been centered enough to allow that to happen instead of trying to lock down this phenomenon. As we Deanies like to say: Dean is the messenger. We are the message.

When you think about Seti@Home and all the other examples of distributed computing using the Internet, the Dean movement is nothing more than another application of the same idea: you slice off a bit of power from the central processing system (the campaign), empower the distributed processors (the people), and let them take a big job (getting Dean elected) and do small parts of it (convincing other voters) in parallel.

The title of Rich's article is "Napster Runs for President in '04". That's a great headline because the Dean campaign is also very much a peer-to-peer application. Just look at the letter writing activities at MeetUps that happen all over the country: regular people getting together across the nation to explain to people in Iowa why they like Dean. People are making connections with other people, engaging each other through an interactive combination of new and age-old technologies. It's the public square writ large.

Can this defeat Bush's $200,000,000? I believed it in July, and I'm even more convinced now. This is not a campaign, it is a growing movement that can be a powerful force for positive change in this country. As more people become aware that there are real alternatives to BushCo's destructive policies and politics, the more support this movement builds.

Anything can still happen between now and November 2004, and there's a real uphill climb for whoever the Democratic nominee is. But remember, anything can happen when people join forces. And anything can happen when you have a network as vast as Dean's.


Dean Interview In Newsweek

Nice interview by Jonathan Alter and Richard Wolffe:

Joe Lieberman says you're retreating from the agenda that Democrats have made advances on since 1992.
Bill Clinton was an extraordinary, exceptionally gifted president. I don't think anybody in this race has anything close to the talent Bill Clinton had. I don't think anybody in our generation will have that talent. The last person who had it in the White House was Franklin Roosevelt, in my view. But times are different. The country has moved further and further to the right. What we really need is somebody who is going to move it back to the center. That's what I'm going to try to do.


At Murdoch's Mercy


The Federal Communications Commission yesterday conditionally approved the News Corporation's acquisition of control of Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV subsidiary from General Motors.

The approval, by a vote of 3 to 2, removes the final obstacle to a $6.6 billion media megamerger that will combine the DirecTV satellite television service with News Corporation's Fox studios, pay television networks like Fox News and Speed, its Fox broadcast channel and 35 local stations. News Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, will become the only media conglomerate with such broad offerings and national reach. Time Warner also combines studios, cable and broadcast networks and cable systems, but it does not own local stations and its cable systems reach only certain parts of the country. The deal is expected to close within days.

Super. We're a DirecTV customer, and now Rupert Murdoch has even more control over what we can see. Although now that I think about it, I seem to be watching very little (American) TV lately--could it be because there's nothing on?


[Update: did some digging in the archives, and found this from 11/26:

Rupert Murdoch yesterday hailed a compromise between the White House and Senate Republicans on how many TV stations companies like his News Corp. could own.
The provision would allow a company to own local television stations reaching 39 percent of the nation's TV homes, a level just above what Fox parent News Corp. and CBS parent Viacom already own.

That would be lower than the 45-percent limit the Federal Communications Commission adopted in June but higher than the old 35-percent cap that negotiators for the House and Senate had agreed in conference to restore.

As I said back then: "It might only be 4%, but it's one more little attempt to chip away at our democracy." And that's just it: these teeny things accumulate to be a threat. Little demands submitted in installments to the vanquished.

I mentioned a couple things in comments that I'll bring to your attention here. First, something Howard Dean said on his appearance on Hardball a couple weeks ago:

I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
[I]f the state has an interest, which it does, in preserving democracy, then there has to be a limitation on how deeply the media companies can penetrate every single community. To the extent of even having two or three or four outlets in a single community, that kind of information control is not compatible with democracy.

And please read all of Bill Moyers' excellent Essay on the Media and Democracy:

I keep coming back to the subject of media conglomeration because it can take the oxygen out of democracy. The founders of this country believed a free and rambunctious press was essential to the protection of our freedoms. They couldn't envision the rise of giant megamedia conglomerates whose interests converge with state power to produce a conspiracy against the people. I think they would be aghast at how this union of media and government has produced the very kind of imperial power against which they rebelled...[T]his is the most important story of all, the one that determines what other stories get told - and how.

Unfettered access to information is the oxygen of democracy. I'd like to avoid asphyxiation, thank you.]

Friday, December 19, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Poker Night!

Last poker night of 2003. Your poker trivia for today, hand rankings for three card poker (from the FAQ):

straight flush = 48 combinations
trips = 52 combinations
straight = 720 combinations
flush = 1096 combinations
pair = 3744 combinations

I love three card hi/low, although last poker night I got screwed a couple times: somebody held trips when I had a straight, and another player had an inside straight and drew the middle card when I had a flush. Tonight I hope my luck is better. Until tomorrow...


[Update - 12/20, 230AM: I was up 7 bucks, down 3, and ended the long night exactly even after some adequate play and decent hands. We had 2 tables going again, which was cool. Slow drive home, but not too bad. A fox scurried across the road not too far ahead of me--no incident. Now I'm tired and wired.] 

Special "I Should Be Writing Security Material" Blogaround

I'm so far behind on my book project that I've taken an almost fatalistic view of it. Anyway, I'm feeling really spacey and not in any fit state to write coherent stuff about encrypting e-mail (which doesn't bode well for poker night), so here's a blogaround in honor of my lameness, submitted without editorial comments:

* The Fulcrum: The Wrights and Me

* BBWW: Church and State

* Stradiotto: The parable of the good liberal

* How to Save the World: THE BOYCOTT LIST

* Pacific Views: Bush's America

* Hunky Dory Carnivorous Puppy Tower: THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW...

* The Politburo Diktat: Dean's Separation Fence

Now, will somebody please write my chapter?


Speaking Of Sam

Here's a brief video (712K QuickTime) of Sam the Action Kitten behaving like a Democrat. No, it has nothing to do with the previous post.


Cat Blogging I Hope You'll Never See Here

A group of hungry cats began to eat their 86-year-old owner after she suffered an apparent stroke and couldn't get up for nearly a week, officials said Thursday.

Mae Lowrie, who lives with seven cats, was discovered unconscious and riddled with bite marks Wednesday night at her Panorama City apartment, Fire Department and hospital officials said.

She was listed in fair condition at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Kort.

"The cats were trying to survive in the conditions that they were in, faced with the outcome they had. They did what they had to do to survive,'' animal control Officer Ernesto Poblano told KABC-TV. "The cats were all emaciated, very, very emaciated.''
The cats, apparently without food for that time, also tried to eat Lowrie's small dog...

(via one of my favorite Atrios commenters, w00t)

Saffron is too picky probably to eat us, but Sam eats just about anything...[shudder]...I don't think Cairo would let him try to eat her, however.


Ethnic/Civil War Brewing In Iraq?

This is what I said on Sunday when Saddam was captured:

[What] of civil/ethnic violence? [Free] from the fear that Saddam will return, will tensions explode? If so, our troops would be caught in the middle of an ugly situation.

We're starting to see hints of this, as this KRT story from Weds indicates:

Saddam's capture seems to have heightened ethnic violence. Since the 1930s there have been clashes on the bridge over the Tigris River that separates Kadhimiya from Sunni-dominated Adhimiya. Residents from each neighborhood have crossed the bridge to cause trouble or defend perceived slights against their honor.

The day after Saddam's capture was announced, Shiites from Kadhimiya crossed the bridge and started dancing in the street in Adhimiya. Sunni residents in Adhimiya went out in the street to reply, and before the night was over, more than a dozen people were dead.

(via Juan Cole)

Further, here's what I read in Arabic News today:

One U.S. soldier was killed and other 4 wounded in different operations carried out by the Iraqi resistance yesterday, at a time when reciprocated assassination operations took place between the Sunni and the Shiite, and raised fears of revenge operations in various parts of Iraq between the supporters of the former regime and its opponents.

Gunmen killed the official in the Higher Council For the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Muhannad al-Hakim near his house in Baghdad on Wednesday evening, according to the spokesman for the council, Adel Abdul Mahdi...

Muhannad al-Hakim, who was the security official at the ministry of education, was hit by three bullets in his head in al-Baya quarters, when unidentified persons opened fire at him from a car which was running speedily near his house. Abdul Mahdi blamed the killing operation on "partisans of the former regime."

It seems a toxic brew: daily we're seeing 22 attacks on US troops, 3 attacks on the US-sponsored security apparatus, and revenge killings between ethnic groups. Forgive me for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about Saddam's capture, or Iraqi schoolkids getting pencils. All of that is good news, but hardly balances the ugly situation on the ground, and how much nastier it just might get.

I reiterate my call to get the hell out of Dodge and let the Iraqis and their Arab neighbors solve their problems. I am not, of course, advocating that we abandon Iraq; rather, I suggest our troops are inherently incapable of providing security and stability in this environment, and are only going to be caught in the middle of a growing maelstrom. Only 15% of Iraqis surveyed in November view our troops as liberators, down from 43% in April, and as this occupation drags on, I suspect these numbers will only grow smaller.

Bring our soldiers home, stop laying contracts on BushCo cronies, and give the Iraqis aid in rebuilding their country themselves. You know, the idea's crazy enough that it just might work.


Ooh, Pretty!

The Elephant's Trunk Nebula, taken by NASA's new Spitzer Space Telescope.

NASA announced the formal name of its newest space telescope today and released the first science pictures. The images support a promise that the orbiting observatory, now called the Spitzer Space Telescope, will provide top-notch science and entertainment on par the Hubble Space Telescope.
Initially called the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), the observatory is now named after the late Lyman Spitzer, Jr., who in the 1940s first proposed putting telescopes in space to overcome the limiting effects of Earth's atmosphere.
Spitzer, as the telescope is sure to be informally known, launched Aug. 25 and spent its first weeks in space undergoing instrument checkout...

The new photographs illustrate Spitzer's range of targets and capabilities. They provide fresh details of a nearby galaxy, a peek at star formation inside a corner of our own galaxy, an updated view of a planet-forming disk around a nearby star, and new details of a comet and a pair of asteroids. The telescope also discovered water for first time in a galaxy so far away that it is observed at a time when life was just developing on Earth, Spitzer scientists said.
The telescope gathers infrared light, an invisible form of electromagnetic radiation associated with heat. It allows astronomers to see through layers of dust, which block visible light, and detect heat emitted by deeply embedded dust around myriad cosmic objects.

So, this 'scope is like, way better than my 4.5" Newtonian. Cool.


Ayn's Now A Paleobiologist

Ayn Clouter:

They were the most terrible monsters ever known -- the DEMOSAURS. Long extinct, they were genetically recreated to be the star attractions at this new theme park, based on comments found on right wing web sites. Now they've broken free. Read about the danger we face from creatures such as the DEANRANOSAURUS, the CLENISAURUS, and the most deadly ones of all -- the HILLARAPTORS.

I disagree with her about the HILLARAPTORS: I think the DEANRANOSAURUS REXES are still the most deadly, but I've always liked them.


OSP Selections By Yours Truly

First, there's the ever-important chess match, with my second move. Yes, we're changing Open Source Politics, one chess move at a time.

There should also be a piece of mine on global reaction to Saddam's capture, particularly focusing on the Middle East--news, analysis and perspective you might not have seen amidst all the hoopla in the US. A glitch prevented it from getting published last night, but look for it maybe later today in the World View section.


Thursday, December 18, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Cabin Fever

This scene from our front yard illustrates why our power went out this AM. We only got about 4 or 5 inches of snow, but it was very wet and heavy, and bent almost all the trees over, and even thick branches on larger trees. Small wonder so many lines went down all over the area.

Maybe it's a little early for cabin fever to set in, but Sam was in rare form tonight. He started attacking Stef's leg in earnest, and she tried lifting it to discourage him. It didn't work.


I'm Not Sure How I Feel About This


He may have beaten Saddam Hussein, but President George W. Bush got clobbered by slinky socialite Paris Hilton when her television show got higher ratings than Bush's exclusive ABC interview Tuesday night.

Is Bush's stagecraft presidency now nothing more than another entertainment option? Is "reality TV" more real than the President? Should Bush choose Hilton for Veep instead of Cheney? That would really help his, standings in the polls.


I'm Suing Fox

Faithful reader timshel alerted me to this graphic, shown on Fox & Friends this morning:

I'll observe that I came up with the whole QE meets Saddam thing with my Queer Eye for the Deposed Guy on Sunday. Since Fox clearly is trying to blur the lines between their organization and mine, I'm getting the ball rolling for a lawsuit. If anybody wants to donate to the legal fund, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Some might say I'm just tilting at windmills here. And they'd be right. I'm taking this big risk and going up against this giant corporation because I believe in something extremely important: milking Fox dry. I might not win, but I'll be standing for a principle that made this country great. Thanks for your support.


[Update: restored the graphic. Thanks to Richard Silverstein for the headsup.] 

Back On The Air

WDHM was knocked offline at 540AM by a power phone outage caused by snow-laden trees taking out ower lines. As of 1203PM, electricity was restored and we're back on the air. Our phone was also knocked out apparently because the remote terminal that serves our area had no go juice. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging. Sorta. We have to get ready to go to my company NODWISH gathering. It's an afternoon/evening dealio, so I'll be back to my old tricks in a few hours. Alas, no review of LOTR: ROTK, since we ended up not going due to weather.

In the meantime, check out Guy's second move in our chess battle. The wily bastage is trying to pressure the center.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

Orson Scott Is A Card

I've seen Orson Scott Card's inane comments about Iraq and the Democrats floating around the blogosphere of late. A commenter named Kilroi is copying and pasting them over at blogAmY (scroll down to "But What Does It Mean, Really?" Amy, get permalinks.), for example. I was stunned to also find his words lovingly quoted by fellow Coalition member Chris at Tao of Dowingba. Please people, let's save a young mind, and help counteract the kool aid Chris might have accidentally ingested before it's too late!


Bush Soft On National Security


For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.
"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," [Chairman Thomas Kean] said. "This was not something that had to happen.

Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame. "

Can we finally nail the incompetent fools who ignored Clinton's warnings? Can we finally put to rest the notion that Bush is somehow strong on national security? Can the victims' families finally get closure and see justice is done?

On the political side, will we see Bush's "Saddam Bounce" become a "9/11 Freefall"? I'd say this trumps capturing an insignificant old man hiding in a hole (friendly reminder: Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11).

Before any winger complains about liberals "politicizing" that tragic day, let me further remind everybody that Bush evokes "the lessons of September the 11th, 2001" in answer to almost every question in his faux press conferences, and the GOP cynically chose New York City for its convention, mere days before the nation's painful anniversary. It is you who have politicized 9/11, using it to bludgeon your opponents, using it to question our patriotism, using it as an excuse to erode our civil liberties and wage war.

Your political games might just come back to haunt you. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.


Toot Toot

If I had a nickel for every visitor, I'd have $1250.05 more in the bank. Somebody clicking through from my friend Patrick Taylor's blog, The Poison Kitchen, was the 25,000th visitor to DM since June 14th. Welcome, and thanks to you and all the folks who have helped this site grow!


I Hope He's Joking

I'm a Dean backer, and I think he's got a real shot at winning the nomination and maybe the '04 election. But Ted Rall is either forgetting his sarcasm tags, or needs to put down the pipe:

What if the other Democratic candidates came together at a joint press conference to announce that they were dropping out of the race to endorse Dean? If nothing else, cash-starved states would love it--the average primary costs taxpayers $7 million. More to the point, it would save Dean roughly $75 million--enough to close the money gap with Bush.

A more ephemeral but bigger benefit would be the message that a unified Democratic party could send to the electorate.
The outcome of the Democratic primaries is now a foregone conclusion.
Just this once, let's pull the left together. We can go back to tearing each other apart in December '04. I promise.

How 'bout we cast a few votes first? Nothing is inevitable in a democracy, polls do not determine winners, and trading our franchise to save a few bucks is anathema to our republic.


Lots Of Work Left To Do


Among poll respondents interviewed Monday and Tuesday, 63 percent said they approved of Bush's job performance, while 34 percent disapproved. The approval rating is Bush's highest since June and is a significant gain over his rating of 50 percent a month ago.

By contrast, in a poll done Thursday to Saturday, before news of the capture broke, Bush's approval was 54 percent, with 43 percent expressing disapproval.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the most recent survey.
Dean...trails Bush head-to-head among registered voters.

Bush leads 60 percent to 37 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, the survey found. In polling directly before Saddam's capture, Bush was ahead of Dean 52 percent to 44 percent.

The new poll also showed retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, another Democratic hopeful, running better against the president than Dean. Bush is still ahead of Clark among registered voters, 56 percent to 40 percent, the survey said.

This is ugly, but I stand by my earlier analysis: short-term, Saddam provides a bounce for Bush; long-term, Dean and the Dems can take him on, especially once the general election campaign begins in earnest. It will be hard work beating an incumbent in this time of great trepidation, but certainly not impossible.


ROTK Eve Cat Blogging

Don't want to jinx it, but it does look like we might be able to catch ROTK tomorrow AM.Crap, I did jinx it. So we're watching Two Towers tonight, and I'm putzing around with some pics.

Sam watching the snow on Monday...

...and taking a brief break from kitten mode this morning.


TTLB Showcase Vote

Belief Seeking Understanding. And interesting mix: "Thoughts on the Bible, technology and higher education, not necessarily in that order." Check it out.


Flight Of The Turkey

Speaking at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, President Bush said, "This one for recalling a heroic event in the history of our nation and the history of the world."

Dressed in the historic flight suit worn by Wilbur on his inaugural flight, Mr Bush continued, "We remember one small machine, and we honor the giants who flew it." Immediately following his speech, the President was scheduled to fly a replica of the Wright's flying machine, which he painstakingly built over many months in the White House garage.

"I'm sure glad I didn't have to take this thing to Baghdad in the middle of the night," Bush quipped.


Argh, I Can't Wait!

Ebert liked Return of the King a lot. Alas, with holiday parties, my stupid running-behind book project, and other obligations, we're not going to be able to see it until next week. It's driving me nuts.


Your Move, Punk

The epic Blogger's Chess match against Rook (aka Guy Andrew Hall) continues with my stunning first move, along with a little clowning and a healthy dose of history and strategy. Check it out.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

The Eye Of Sauron Is On Me

More gummint snoops visiting:

Domain Name ? (United States Government)
IP Address 149.101.1.# (Various Registries)

I've had lots of DOD and other Fed types visit over the past 6 months, but I always get especially nervous when I see the DOJ pop up. No referring URL, either--have they bookmarked DM? Regardless, thanks for dropping by, Mr. Ashcroft. Watch out for those calico cats we have strategically placed around the neighborhood. I believe in security in depth...


Inky Visitors

If you've come here because of today's Philadelphia Inquirer article, my Queer Eye for the Deposed Guy post can be found below. Thanks for dropping by!


UCE: The Other White Meat

Okay, I can honestly name one thing I like about George W. Bush (which explains my 7% affinity for him in the thingy):

President Bush signed legislation Tuesday meant to stem the flood of unwanted e-mail pitches that irritate Internet users and drain the economy.

"Spam, or unsolicited e-mails, are annoying to consumers and costly to our economy," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said after Bush signed the bill. "This will help address the problems associated with the rapid growth and abuse of spam by establishing a framework of technological, administrative civil and criminal tools, and by providing consumers with options to reduce the volume of unwanted e-mail."

I hate "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (UCE, aka "spam"). I actually like the meat product.

And in related news, this meathead is in trouble for spamming:

Virginia authorities Thursday charged two Triangle men with the first-ever felony counts for flooding the world's e-mail in boxes with unwanted solicitations.

Jeremy D. Jaynes, 29, of Raleigh was arrested on four counts of using fraudulent means to transmit unwanted bulk e-mail, also known as spam, the Virginia attorney general said. Jaynes, ranked as the world's eighth-biggest spammer by a spam- monitoring group, was released from the Wake County jail Thursday afternoon after posting $100,000 bail.

Richard Rutowski of Cary was named a co-conspirator and charged with four identical felony counts, said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the attorney general. Officials issued a warrant for his arrest, Murtaugh said.

Virginia law enforcement, aided by Internet service providers including America Online, began investigating the men in August, a month after a tough antispamming law took effect in the state.

There are some other meat jokes screaming to be free, given the subjects of much of the spam I receive (but totally do not need); however tempting, I won't go there.


June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 April 2007


Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.

For more about me, go to You can also e-mail me at

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Dean is still the messenger.
We are still the message.

My goodness! Rummy loves
these fair and balanced blogs:

The Coalition

Cairo wonders when I'll be fair
and balanced and go throw sticks...

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