Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Friday, April 30, 2004
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Not A Sign O' The Times

Something on a construction vehicle near Lowell, MA, caught my eye today:

Don't be a flirt
Lift up the skirt

I wonder if that's why roadwork costs so much--the harassment lawsuits must be expensive.


The Truth Will Out

Byrd yesterday:

The White House argues time and again that Iraq is the "central front" on the war on terrorism. But instead of keeping murderous al Qaeda terrorists on the run, the invasion of Iraq has stoked the fires of terrorism against the United States and our allies. Najaf is smoldering. Fallujah is burning. And there is no exit is in sight. What has been accomplished, Mr. President?

Al Qaeda has morphed into a hydra-headed beast, no longer dependent on Osama bin Laden. The Administration has flippantly claimed that it is better to tie down terrorists in Iraq than to battle them in our homeland. Mr. President, with hundreds of thousands of American troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and a worldwide campaign of terrorism gathering steam, who is tying down whom?

Indeed, our attack on Iraq has given Islamic militants a common cause and has fertilized the field for new recruits. The failures by the United States to secure the peace in Iraq has virtually guaranteed al Qaeda a fertile field of new recruits ready to sacrifice their lives to fight the American infidels. These extremists openly call for "jihad", swear allegiance to bin Laden, and refer to the September 11 murderers as the "magnificent 19." According to intelligence sources, hundreds of young Muslims are answering terror recruitment calls with a resounding "yes."

Amidst all this, the American people are asking themselves one central question: Have we been made more safe by the President's war in Iraq? Do we sleep more soundly in our beds now that Saddam Hussein is captured? Or, instead, are we starting to fully comprehend and regret the fury which has been unleashed by the unprovoked attack on Iraq?

Deaths and casualties of Iraqi civilians are in the thousands, but an actual number cannot be obtained. Is it any wonder that Iraqis see us, not as liberators, but as crusaders and conquerors?


Thursday, April 29, 2004
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Yes, I Still Blog

Just haven't had time this week. Light at the end of the tunnel...


Monday, April 26, 2004
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Find Your Happy Place

Exhausting day of class, and it's rainy out, so I wanted a little cheer:

On Saturday, one of the maples in the backyard was showing some real signs of spring. Click on the image for a full size pic (just noticed it's a bit large).


Karen Hughes: Back In The Saddle

Not content to imply that pro-choice people are terrorists, Karen Hughes now is attacking John Kerry for what he said about Vietnam over 30 years ago:

One of President Bush's closest confidants challenged Sen. John Kerry on Sunday to further explain comments he made in 1971 that he participated in "atrocities" in Vietnam.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has since said that he regrets using such language.

"I wish we knew a little bit more about that," Karen Hughes, the former White House communications director, said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"Did he think he did commit them or not? And who else did? And what was he really saying? Was he totally exaggerating? Was he making it up? I think the press ought to follow some line of inquiry about that."

I see a new heroic Bush ad in the works: "I chose not to go to Vietnam because I didn't want to take part in atrocities committed by my opponent." Welcome back, Karen.


Sunday, April 25, 2004
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Two Countries Separated By The Same Language

CNN: Iraq oil exports resume after raid

BBC: Raid disrupts Iraqi oil exports

CNN focuses on the fact that a small oil terminal reopened. The Beeb starts off noting that the main terminal is still shut down, a fact completely ignored by the other story. Hmm.

Both articles do observe that the attack that shut down the Basra facilities and reportedly killed two US sailors were similar to what happened to the USS Cole back in 2000. Nice to see the war has made the world safer for our navy.


Time To Fly Away

Heading back down to Marlboro today and I still have a few things to do, so I'm a bit harried. Here's a picture rich with symbolism for me:

A red-winged blackbird chases away a red-tailed hawk over our back yard.

Stef was sitting on the couch in the living room yesterday evening and saw a couple of hawks circling around. I quickly grabbed my camera and ran outside and took several shots before the birds disappeared. Unfortunately, I'd been playing with shutter speeds earlier and I forgot to select the appropriate settings.




I respect former Cardinal Pat Tillman's decision to join the Rangers after 9/11. He put his money where his mouth was, as it were. Not knowing anything really about his service or how he died in Afghanistan last week, I would still agree that he was a heroic figure.

Yet I'm troubled by all this hero talk. Sports Illustrated's Peter King said yesterday, "I think 100 years from now, children in schools across the country will be reading about a hero named Pat Tillman." I'm sorry, but that seems more than a bit over the top.

Does walking away from a $3.6M contract to join the military make him more of a hero than someone who enlisted to escape poverty, someone who essentially had fewer options than Tillman? And with all the GOP attempts to denigrate John Kerry, who volunteered to serve in Vietnam and was awarded 3 Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and Silver Star, what does the word "hero" really mean?


Saturday, April 24, 2004
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A Rather Blustery Day

Hum, dum, dum, dee, dee, dum
Hum, dum, dum
Oh the wind is lashing lusterly
And the trees are thrashing thrusterly
And the leaves are rustling gusterly
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today
It seems that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubteadly
Looks like a rather blustery day today


Poll Watch

I don't follow or blog about polls much, mostly because it's early and also because people like Kos already do. But I have been interested in the presidential race lately because it is so close (if the polling data is to be believed). Fox has it 43-42 for Bush, Rasmussen pegs it even at 45 each, and Zogby says Kerry has a 47-44 edge. An amazingly tight race, it would appear.

I think what's more telling than all these national polls, however, is an analysis of the Electoral College situation. According to the Moonie Times/UPI:

An analysis of statewide presidential polls published Friday by The Hotline shows Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., ahead in the electoral college.

The Hotline's study of reputable statewide polls conducted since January 1, 2004, has Kerry holding an overall lead in 13 states containing 204 electoral votes. President George W. Bush is currently leading in 16 states and has a total of 174 electoral votes out of the 270 necessary for election.

In states where either candidate leads by more than the poll's margin of error, Kerry is ahead in seven states with a total of 123 electoral votes while Bush leads in eight states with a total of 86 electoral votes.

Again, it's wicked early and Bush's huge warchest combined with external factors can certainly derail Kerry, but this seems to show a slightly less-tight race in our guy's favor.

No matter what, it's hard to imagine that a sitting President with $180 million in the bank is not showing greater strength. I guess that's why he has to go negative out of the gate--it's not like Bush has a positive record to run on.


[Update: edited a bit to clean things up.] 

Friday, April 23, 2004
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Fly Me To The Moon

The moon, Venus, and a very faint Mars (below and to the left of Luna) from the backyard tonight. If I'd been more motivated, I would've gone to the meadow for a cleaner shot.


Home For A Moment

Saw a couple moose on I-89 just south of Warner, NH, on my way home. My weekend plans: do laundry, get a haircut, then head back to Marlboro, MA, to start the fun all over again. Oh, and blog a little.


Pity The Pentagon


A Web site [linky] published dozens of photographs of American war dead arriving at the nation's largest military mortuary, prompting the Pentagon to order an information clampdown Thursday.

The photographs were released last week to First Amendment activist Russ Kick, who had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to receive the images.

Air Force officials initially denied the request but decided to release the photos after Kick appealed their decision.

After Kick posted more than 350 photographs on his Web site, the Defense Department barred the further release of the photographs to media outlets.

"They're not happy with the release of the photos," Dover Air Force base spokesman Col. Jon Anderson said.

I feel so sorry for the Pentagon. It's got to be hard on Rummy et al when the real cost of our war is revealed.

Oh, and the person who took this photo was fired by her military contractor employer. God bless America and all her freedoms that They hate us for...


Thursday, April 22, 2004
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Thursday Bug Blogging

Not blogging bugs me:

A crappy picture of a moth on the door to the training facility this evening.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004
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Oh god, the irony is killing me:

As a valued member of the President's team, you are receiving a special preview of a new Bush-Cheney television ad that will begin running all over the country.

The new ad highlights John Kerry's habit of taking both sides on just about every issue. As more Americans hear John Kerry change his positions, the clearer the choice becomes between Kerry's doublespeak and President Bush's principled, steady leadership that moves our nation forward.

To view the ad, please go here:

I just don't know where to begin...


Tuesday, April 20, 2004
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Tuesday Rodent Blogging

I have a great group of students, which means our discussions are animated and long. Oy, they're killing me. All I can muster tonight:

Just before I left home Sunday: first time I'd caught a chipper at the deck feeder this season. He was as stunned as I was.


Monday, April 19, 2004
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Flag-draped coffins are secured inside a cargo plane on April 7 at Kuwait International Airport. Military and civilian crews take great care with the remains of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. Soldiers form an honor guard and say a prayer as, almost nightly, coffins are loaded for the trip home.
(via Atrios)

Over 700 of these coffins, and we're no safer. Bastards.


Sunday, April 18, 2004
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Hurry Put Your Troubles In A Suitcase

Heading back out on the road, but I had time for a quick snap with my Nikon 70-300mm telephoto lens1 this morning:

First cardinal I've seen this season!


1 - The lens was relatively cheap, as far as these things go, and is a fine toy. However, I'm likely going to return it and eventually get a Vibration Reduction lens (this or this). 

Saturday, April 17, 2004
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Sounds Of Spring

The peepers are out tonight!


Picard To La Forge...


US firm Vocera has created a wireless voice communicator just like they use in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Similar to the TV series, all you do to contact someone is press the talk button on the lapel badge, say their name, and you will be put through.

The gadget is proving popular in hospitals to make it easier for nurses to find and get advice from doctors.

NTodd want.



According to Lunaville, we are averaging 45.86 wounded troops per day in April. That's 5 times higher than the average over the course of the war, March to March, and 3 times higher than last October, which was the worst reported individual month1.

Fortunately, no troops have been reported killed in the last couple days. Hopefully that trend can continue, and I hope our captured soldiers will be okay.


1 - Unclear how many were wounded at the start of the war, since March to August totals are lumped together. 

Stupid Republican Tricks


(AP Wire) The Democratic National Committee announced today the Lemming will be added as the new logo for rank and file Democrats. The Jackass logo will continue to be used by Senator Ted Kennedy, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, Terry McAuliffe, Al Franken, Michael Moore, numerous Californians such as Rob Reiner and members of the Hollywood Entertainment Industry, as they more closely resemble Jackasses. A special logo has been proposed for John Kerry but Mr. Kerry has not decided whether or not to accept. The logo, if approved, will be an IHOP Waffle.

Received this at my blog e-mail from a spoofed address: The actual sender appears to be in Tyler, TX., of course, doesn't belong to the Associated Press (they're, but Audio Precision, an audio testing and measurement company in Beaverton, OR.

Anyhoo, I find it completely hysterical that sombody thinks Democrats are lemmings. Those folks don't follow their party lock step because they don't have worry about being lied to, or bribed and threatened by their own people. That said, I have seen many Dems support Bush policies for a few years, but no more I hope.

I also find it funny that the sender has it in for Hillary so much he (assumption here) can't even be bothered to spell her name right. Gotta love that blind Clinton hatred. And they're still trying to label Kerry a waffler, when we all know Bush is the bestest at the flip flop game.

Anybody else get this spam? I'm too busy to parody it, but does somebody wanna try? I see something involving cockroaches and Tom DeLay, for starters...


Friday, April 16, 2004
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I Love Candles

New blog in the blogroll: Candleblog. Faithful reader and filmmaker, Bill S (and friends), has joined the blogosphere!


A Taste Of Spring

There might still be snow in patches on the lawn, but the crocuses have popped up in some spots.


Word For The Day

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: 2fungible
Function: adjective
Etymology: New Latin fungibilis, from Latin fungi to perform -- more at FUNCTION
1 : being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation

Now let's use our word in a sentence. Rummy, take it away:

Oh, come on. [Our troops] are fungible.

Sorry, that's not quite right. Our troops' families likely don't view their loved ones as interchangeable. Maybe he was just saying that American blood can be replaced with oil? That wouldn't be correct usage either, but you never know with Rummy...


[Update: I just checked the Kerry blog, and they took a similar tack. GMTA.] 

Thursday, April 15, 2004
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Some Of My Best Friends Are...

What annoyed me more than not being able to dial out from my hotel yesterday was this snippet from Bush's PC on Tuesday:

Some of the debate really center around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that. I reject that, because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and, if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

As my friend who brought this quotation to my attention said:

Who is he referencing? Nazis? So he is rejecting the notion that "brown skinned" people can't govern themselves. That's very big of him...What's next? Is he going to reject the notion that "white skinned" people can't jump?1

Despite Bush's inanity, 46% of our fellow Americans would vote for Bush if the election were held today2. Oy.


1 - I'd just like to observe that this "white skinned" person can still grab the rim, despite my being in dreadful shape. My outside shot has gone to hell, however.

2 - Rasmussen notes: Roughly half the survey interviews were completed before the President's Press Conference on Tuesday night...Tomorrow's sample will include two days since the Press Conference and provide a more solid indication of whether there is any real movement. I'll be interested in the results. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
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Speaking Of Samuel Adams

So I'm in Newton, Mass, just outside of Beantown. Doing a day-long class here tomorrow, then stopping off in Manchester, NH, for the same class Thursday. Ugh.

Anywayz, blogging very light the next couple days. In the meantime, here's Sam helping me pack:

Well, maybe he's not all that helpful. He sure does like trying to fit in the pockets of my garment bag...



I keep reading variations on the idea that somehow a rebellion isn't legitimate, or at least can't be successful, if only a minority of people participate. That's odd to me because the American Revolution itself, oft held high as the prime example of good and just rebellion, hardly had popular support. Only an estimated one-third of the colonists in favor of breaking away from Britain.

That's why this comment from Bush yesterday caught my attention:

I believe -- strongly believe that by far, the vast majority of Iraqis want there to be a peaceful country and a free country. And so the Iraq people are on the side of the transition to a peaceful country. We just can't let a few people -- and I say "a few" -- listen, there was enough to cause harm, but a few, relative to the rest of the people -- you just can't let a small percentage of the Iraqi people decide the fate of everybody, and that's what you're seeing.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not drawing a moral equivalence between our Revolution and the Iraqi resistance. It's just that I hear this refrain of "most Iraqis want" from many quarters, and it strikes me as naive to think that somehow this has any real meaning. As one of our own revolutionaries, Samuel Adams, observed:

[I]t does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.

Right now, we're up against a pretty damn irate, seemingly tireless minority. Not surprising there is a significant uprising, given that nobody wants to be occupied by another nation, no matter how benign. So forgive me when I take Iraqi opinion polls that show they love us with the proverbial grain of salt. I'm more interested in the reality on the ground, and it's not good. So where do we go from here?


Monday, April 12, 2004
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Monday Grassroots Blogging

A barn down the road from us still has their Howie sign up. Shot this over the weekend.

Howie had an op-ed in the NYTimes today:

Ralph Nader once said that your best teacher is your last mistake. Too many of us learned the consequences of not standing together four years ago. This November, we can elect a president who fights for average Americans. But we can achieve this goal only if we join together — and don't repeat our last mistake.

Damn straight. Let's stay focused, people:

A sign that stopped faithful reader Aaron K in his tracks. He simply had to e-mail this to me!


Full Circle In 12 Days

A year after we toppled Saddam's statue, we're right back where we started. During the first 12 days of April, 2004, 73 76 US troops have been killed in Iraq, equalling surpassing the total for the entire month of April, 2003. In fact, this is a greater American death toll than the first 12 days of the war, when we lost 65 troops in March, 2003.

Not to worry, though. Says Bush, "we're plenty tough and we'll remain tough." I'm guessing he has Psalm 3:6 in mind:

I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.

Good thing "coalition" troops are just fighting a small faction...


[Update: CNN is reporting 76 KIA this month [Update of the update: so's Lunaville. Now it's official.]. And AP is reporting 2 soldiers and 7 KBR employees are missing.] 

Sunday, April 11, 2004
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Easter Cat Blogging

When in Full Kitten Mode, Sam often uses furniture to launch himself at his targets.


Saturday, April 10, 2004
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Not a smoking gun, but the August 6th PDB (PDF of the actual doc) still makes me wonder why Bush didn't heighten our level of alertness:

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bringthe fighting to America."
AI Qaeda members — including same who are U.S. citizens — have resided in and traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains asupport structure that could aid attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar' Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

BushCo is right: there's nothing here saying that "al Qaeda is planning to hijack 4 US airliners to crash them into the WTC and DC targets in mid-September."1 Uh, I would never expect the intel to be that explicit. But as Quiddity noted over at uggabugga, it is possible to "shake the tree" and learn more, perhaps enough to prevent or at least mitigate the tragedy.

Bush recently said, "had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on September the 11th, we would have acted." Would you expect anything less from President Clinton? Or President Kerry? Of course you would act if you had intel that specific. The question he didn't answer that we are really asking is: what did you do to improve on the hair-raising intelligence you already had in your possession?

Condi testified that the PDB "was a historical memo, that it was not based on new threat information." That is a lie. There was reference to recent preparations in New York, as well as intel about plots as fresh as May of 2001. What's more, while "no one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon...into the World Trade Center using planes as missiles"2, does it really take that much imagination to notice that hijackings were in the works, especially when taken in conjunction with the chatter she said they received3, and then try to flesh out the information?

Yes, the intel was frustratingly vague, and it's easy for me to say things in hindsight. But damn, if I'd heard there were going to be hijackings and big attacks were going to happen soon, I would be lighting fires under everybody's asses to fill in the gaps and get the word out to the people in charge of our safety. And yet with this information in hand, "Secretary Mineta, the secretary of transportation, had no idea of the threat. The administrator of the F.A.A. responsible for security on our airlines had no idea. Yes, the attorney general was briefed, but there is no evidence of any activity by him about this."4

As I said a couple days ago, I don't know if we really could have stopped the 9/11 attacks. That's not actually the point. What's important to realize is that there's no way we can prevent something if we don't act. It seems pretty damn clear that the Bush administration didn't even try, despite being warned that incredibly bad things were imminent.

No wonder they didn't want people to see the PDB. It's not very specific, but it is very damning.


1 - From the WH "Fact Sheet": "Although the PDB referred to the possibility of hijackings, it did not discuss the possible use of planes as weapons."

2 - I'll leave aside the fact that many people did imagine using planes as missiles (including me and Tom Clancy and the Italians). I'll also ignore the specificity of her defense: "Gosh, who woulda thunk that said missiles would be used on the WTC and Pentagon? Yeah, maybe CIA HQ, or the Eiffel Tower or the Arch in St. Louis [ed. note: that one I thought of in '98 before I'd read "Debt of Honor"], but not those other places..."

3 - Quoth Condi: "Unbelievable news coming in weeks, said one. Big event. There will be a very, very, very, very big uproar. There will be attacks in the near future."

4 - This is Commissioner Gorelick speaking. Dr. Rice did not deny what Gorelick said.

[Update: even CNN's Bill "AEI" Schneider thinks this memo is bad:

I think it could be seriously damaging. What this says is, the White House knew what bin Laden was capable of planning, where he intended to do it, which was New York or Washington, D.C., how he was going to do it. There was only one thing missing, which was exactly when he was going to do it, which turns out to be September 11.

Critics and members of the commission will say, the White House should have been far more aggressive to prevent, what sounds from this memo, like an imminent strike, obviously years in the planning, but a real danger to the United States, particularly in New York and Washington. And they will, I think, make it a cause for very severe criticism.


['nother update: Kevin explicitly asks what I've implicitly pondered here: why didn't BushCo connect the dots?]

Note: I tried publishing this last night, but freaking Blogger was bloggered. Sigh. 

Every Sentiment Which Ennobles Human Nature

George Washington in his so-called Farewell Address:

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all...It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it...

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated...The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.


Breaking News!

Open Source Politics has an exclusive on the August 6th PDB...


America's Glory Is Not Dominion

Last October in a post for Open Source Politics, I quoted a Hoover Digest article by Niall Ferguson: partly about material things: guns, butter, men, money, oil. But it is also about morale. In a world characterized by the diffusion of most of the material elements of power, real power may therefore come to depend on having credibility and legitimacy. Faith cannot move mountains. But it can move men.

Power comes in many forms. Albert Camus knew that moral power was the most important mover in the world. The problem America faces today is that it holds military might in the highest esteem, ignoring its limitations. We seem to have traded our moral authority for arrogance.

As the situation in Iraq deteriorates and the comparisons to Vietnam begin to become more apt, I'm reminded of what Senator J. William Fulbright wrote in The Arrogance of Power in 1967:

The attitude above all others which I feel sure is no longer valid is the arrogance of power, the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue and major responsibilities with a universal mission. The dilemmas involved are preeminently American dilemmas, not because America has weaknesses that others do not have but because America is powerful as no nation has ever been before and the discrepancy between its power and the power of others appears to be increasing.
I do not question the power of our weapons and the efficiency of our logistics...Our handicap is well expressed in the pungent Chinese proverb: "In shallow waters dragons become the sport of shrimps."
If America has a service to perform in the world - and I believe it has - it is in large part the service of its own example. In our excessive involvement in the affairs of other countries, we are not only living off our assets and denying our own people the proper enjoyment of their resources; we are also denying the world the example of a free society enjoying its freedom to the fullest. This is regrettable indeed for a nation that aspires to teach democracy to other nations, because, as Burke said: "Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other."
[W]e have the opportunity to serve as an example of democracy to the world by the way in which we run our own society; America, in the words of John Quincy Adams, should be "the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all" but "the champion and vindicator only of her own."

If we can bring ourselves so to act, we will have overcome the dangers of the arrogance of power. It will involve, no doubt, the loss of certain glories, but that seems a price worth paying for the probable rewards, which are the happiness of America and the peace of the world.

Fulbright alludes to an Adams speech that inspired a post I wrote for OSP last September: In Search Of Monsters To Destroy. I still hope against hope that my conclusion will prove to be wrong:

In future history books, the war in Iraq will likely not be recognized as the cause of America’s decline; rather, it will be seen as a signal that our power was already waning, just as power has waned for all the empires that have preceded us.

Even in this season of rebirth, I don't have a lot of faith that we can reawaken our moral power, but I'll keep trying to do what I can.


Friday, April 09, 2004
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Friday Not Cat Blogging

CNN reports:

Archeologists say they have evidence that a bond between cats and humans was forged thousands of years before previously thought.

No pics of our cats, ancient or otherwise, today. Just a couple of less-than-ideal photos from this evening's walk in the meadow:

A rose-breasted nuthatch on the wire feeder on the white pine out back. This was as close as I could get, and the lighting ain't great, but I might as well post it...

Cairo engages in one of her favorite sports: digging. Since there's hardly any snow on the ground, dirt will have to do.


Pay No Attention To The PDB Behind The Curtain

One thing that has really bothered me about all this 9/11 stuff is that the administration just acts like it has something to hide. Maybe it's not fair, but that's what it feels like to me. So I'm glad they're finally going to declassify the now famous August 6th Presidential Daily Brief. Not that it will answer all the questions, but it's one more piece of the puzzle.

Bush has made 9/11 and the "war" on terror the centerpiece of his campaign: the "Safer, Stronger" ad being exhibit A, the GOP convention in NYC just before the anniversay being exhibit B. Yet he resisted the formation of the 9/11 commission, has stonewalled the panel every step of the way, attacked Richard Clarke's character to stifle his criticism, etc.

If Bush wants to use 9/11 as part of his campaign, that's fine with me. However, he's also got to accept responsibility for what led up to the attacks and acknowledge that there are legitimate disagreements on how to defend our nation from future incidents. Most importantly, the administration absolutely need to be much more transparent to the American people. You can't wrap yourself in 9/11 and then throw up barriers to our understanding this tragic event.


Thursday, April 08, 2004
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Le Hasard Ne Favorise Que Les Esprits Prepares

Clarke testifying before the 9/11 commission:

ROEMER: ...Was fighting Al Qaida a top priority for the Clinton administration from 1998 to the year 2001? How high a priority was it in that Clinton administration during that time period?

CLARKE: My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting Al Qaida, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority...

ROEMER: ...How high a priority was fighting Al Qaida in the Bush administration?

CLARKE: I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue. Well, president Bush himself says as much in his interview with Bob Woodward in the book Bush at War. He said, I didn't feel a sense of urgency...

Salon, Fighting stem cells, not terror cells:

For months prior to 9/11, Bush's counterterrorism chief could not get a meeting scheduled to brief the president about the mounting al-Qaida threat, despite the fact that, according to the one 9/11 commissioner who's had full access to the library of 2001 intelligence briefings, the growing terrorism warnings "would set your hair on fire." According to a 9/11 commission staff report, during those very same three months in 2001, the National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on communications around the world, reported 33 messages suggesting "a possibly imminent terrorist attack."

Yet during the summer of 2001, Bush's aides painted an image of an Oval Office bursting with outside experts queued up to discuss stem cells face-to-face with Bush in a process that seemed to stretch for weeks at a time.

Now let's contrast something: under Clinton's watch, once the threat of al Qaeda was realized it became a high priority, and we prevented the Millenium Plot; under Bush's watch, the threat of terror was less important to Bush than stem cell research, and the worst terrorist act in US history killed 3000 people.

Could 9/11 have been prevented? I honestly don't know, but as Pasteur said: Chance favors the prepared mind. Alas, our current president is so incurious that he doesn't even read the news. Hardly the habits of a prepared mind1.


1 - Want more proof? The day after receiving a brief entitled Bin Laden determined to attack inside United States, Bush went on vacation.

[Update: forgot to mention the August 6th PDB. Also edited for clarity.] 

Left Foot, Peg Foot Traveling On

A reader brought this Village Voice article to my attention:

Canada has a long tradition of providing safe haven for dissenting Americans: Loyalists during the War of Independence, refugees from the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, so-called "skedaddlers" deserting from Civil War battalions, and, most famously, some 60,000 men and women resisting the Vietnam War.

Unless there's a draft, no one expects a flood at the northern border nowadays. But the trickle could certainly swell. According to a U.S. Army survey released last week, 72 percent of soldiers report that morale in their unit is low or very low. Meanwhile, the suicide rate among service members is at an all-time high. From April through December last year, 23 killed themselves while on duty in Iraq or Kuwait; at least seven more did so after their return home.

Thousands are seeking less dire means of escape. Calls to G.I. Rights Hotline, which answers questions from recruits trying to leave the armed forces, shot up to 28,822 in 2003, from 17,267 in 2001. Meanwhile, though the Pentagon will not confirm figures, military attorneys, activists, and the European press have estimated that 600 to 1,700 soldiers have fled to avoid service in Iraq. Most are likely living underground in the U.S.—going AWOL, even for long periods, is a far less serious offense than actually applying for refugee status in another country—which clearly demonstrates the intent to desert.

Unsurprisingly, Quakers are figuring prominently in efforts to help conscientious objectors seek asylum in our neighbor to the north. I guess we have a thing for underground railroads.

Something one the asylum seekers profiled in the article said really struck me:

I could not simply claim that I was merely a victim of the times or that I was just following orders. Had I taken part in the occupation of Iraq, I would have been making myself complicit in a criminal enterprise.

Until recently, I never thought of COs in the military--my dad was an objector and did alternate service instead of joining the armed forces. As I've said before, I respect the choices our soldiers have made to serve our country in an honorable way. However, it's never too late to refuse to participate in an illegal war. I know I have had a number of visitors from the military over the past several months, and if you are considering applying for CO status, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors has some advice.


Light And Dark

A church in Essex, on my way home from volleyball last night. While I was getting my tripod set up, a gaggle of geese flew overhead: a ghostly V in the dim light.


All Your Lies Are Belong To Us

I couldn't listen to Condoliar Rice's testimony before the 9/11 panel today. I tried, but I've gotten to the point where I can't stand to listen to anybody from BushCo any more. It's stupid and irrational, yet what can I do? I'm sick of the failed policies, sick of the spin, and sick of the deceit that oozes from every pore of this administration.

If you are brave, you can check out what Condi said, or just read Neal Pollack's astute summary:

Lie, lie, distortion, half-truth, pander, manipulation, pseudo-intellectual bombast. Dodge, dodge, feint, lie, dodge, avoid, subject change, lie, slander, pretentious generalization, character assassination, bald-faced lie.

Oversimplification, undersimplification, condescension, insult, insult, lie, avoidance of responsibility, avoidance of question about avoiding responsibility, cheap political point, utter, malicious lie.

Grimace, slither, dodge, lie, deliberate misinterpretation of history, nonpartisan character disparagement, narrative designed by public-relations experts to create maximum “connection” with American public. Appearance of professionalism, resoluteness, capableness, preparedness. Major omission of lie to create partial truth. Lie for political convenience. Lie for partisan gain. Lie to protect the economic interests of an incredibly small number of people. Reception of flattery. Dispersal of flattery. Abuse of good will afforbed by ten people who are trying to gather evidence without partisan bias. Backhanded dismissal of all criticsism. Denial of any responsibility in orchestrating what will almost certainly become the most tragic and bloody war of this generation.

Rinse and repeat.

The long and the short of it seems to be "nothing could have prevented 9/11." That confuses me because we're told that Bush will make us safer, but in the end he still can't do anything to prevent another 9/11. So why exactly are we s'posed to vote for him?

Bush/Cheney '04: You have no chance to survive make your time.



A visitor from Dartmouth College just before 11AM today became my 50,000th visitor since June 14, 2003. Thanks so much to everybody for dropping by over the past several months. It's been quite a journey thus far...

Peace out,

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Game Over, Man

Well, we were missing our big gun John tonight, but we still managed to put up a good fight. We were really flat early on, had a horrid time serving, and lost the 1st Game 7-15. We kicked it up and returned the favor 15-7. Then we lost the epic tie-breaker 14-16. And now we've got 4 months until next season!


Find Your Happy Place

I haven't been in a good space today: prepping for a new class next week, writing a couple case studies for a customer, and reading the news from Iraq all really bummed me out. By all rights I should've gone for a bike ride since it was a gorgeous day, if a bit chilly, but I'm not quite ready to start the season yet. Instead, Cairo and I went for a brief car ride along one of my bike routes just to outrun the blahs for a little while. Hopefully people aren't sick of mountains and other scenes of bucolic splendor (I'm not):

Typical Vermont juxtaposition: a farm with ski slopes in the distance.

This is a farm I pass near the end of one of my favorite short bike loops. A 22 mile tour of small towns, dairy farms and rolling hills, with a 6.6 mile stretch at a 5% grade (more or less a Category 3 climb by Tour de France definition). I really need to get out there!


Boldly They Rode And Well

The Congressional Budget Office in a letter to Sen. Byrd, September 3, 2003:

CBO's analysis indicates that the active Army would be unable to sustain an occupation force of the present size beyond about March 2004 if it chose not to keep individual units deployed to Iraq for longer than one year without relief (an assumption consistent with DoD's current planning).
Under the Army's plan, units will remain in Iraq for no more than one year and will then be rotated out of the theater. Some units that are rotated out will be replaced with U.S. forces; some will be replaced with coalition forces; and some are not scheduled to be replaced at all. About half of the combat units in the Army's active component are now serving in Iraq. Since the majority of those units arrived in Iraq between February and April 2003, and many of the Army's other units are assigned to other commitments, the Army does not have enough active-component forces to simultaneously maintain the occupation at its current size, limit deployments to one year, and sustain all of its other commitments.

The AP reports today:

Some U.S. troops scheduled to leave Iraq soon might be kept there longer to deal with the surge in violence, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.
U.S. forces are in the midst of changes in Iraq, as troops who have stayed for a year are replaced by fresh forces. That gives the United States an advantage for now because there are more troops than there otherwise would be, Rumsfeld said.

"Taking advantage of that increase, we are managing the pace of redeployment to allow those seasoned troops ... to see the current situation through," Rumsfeld said.

The defense secretary refused to say how many troops would stay on in Iraq or how long they might stay.

Sen. Byrd on the Senate floor today:

As I watch events unfold in Iraq, I cannot help but be reminded of another battle at another place and another time that hurtled more than 600 soldiers into the maws of death because of a foolish decision on the part of their commander. The occasion was the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1864, during the Crimean War, a battle that was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Tennyson got it right -- someone had blundered. It is time we faced up to the fact that this President and his administration blundered as well when they took the nation into war with Iraq without compelling reason, without broad international or even regional support, and without a plan for dealing with the enormous post-war security and reconstruction challenges posed by Iraq. And it is our soldiers, our own 600 and more, who are paying the price for that blunder.
Now, after a year of continued strife in Iraq, comes word that the commander of forces in the region is seeking options to increase the number of U.S. troops on the ground if necessary. Surely I am not the only one who hears echoes of Vietnam in this development. Surely, the Administration recognizes that increasing the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will only suck us deeper into the maelstrom of violence that has become the hallmark of that unfortunate country.
It is staggeringly clear that the Administration did not understand the consequences of invading Iraq a year ago, and it is staggeringly clear that the Administration has no effective plan to cope with the aftermath of the war and the functional collapse of Iraq. It is time -- past time -- for the President to remedy that omission and to level with the American people about the magnitude of mistakes made and lessons learned. America needs a roadmap out of Iraq, one that is orderly and astute, else more of our men and women in uniform will follow the fate of Tennyson's doomed Light Brigade.


An Eye For An Eye

From a NYTimes photo gallery documenting the battle in Ramadi. This photo's caption: The bloodstained glasses of a U.S. marine were left behind.

Matt. 5:38-39:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.


Mission Accomplished

Riverbend reports from Baghdad:

Over the last three days, over 150 Iraqis have been killed by troops all over Iraq and it's maddening. At times I feel like a caged animal- there's so much frustration and anger. The only people still raving about 'liberation' are the Iraqis affiliated with the Governing Council and the Puppets, and even they are getting impatient with the mess.
And as I blog this, all the mosques, Sunni and Shi'a alike, are calling for Jihad...

Thanks, George.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


Before I knew that so many people had died in Iraq today, I was driving home from the doctor's with a bandaid on my arm and my camera in the passenger's seat...

One of the gravestones in Purmort Cemetery, tucked in the woods near the Lamoille River. Tiny graveyards such as this, with a couple dozen stones, are scattered all about Vermont and New England.

Fairfax, population 3765, our neighbor 5 miles WSW of us. I'll be biking this hill soon--my legs ache just thinking about it.

(Click on the pic for a larger version.)


Now I Get It

An anonymous (of course) AOL troll had posted this in comments:

My, Sweet Lord: When will Nate the Skate Newman quit swallowing copious amounts of jiz?

I dismissed it as the usual non sequitur rantings of a deluded mind. Well, apparently LGF is going after Nathan Newman now (via Atrios). God bless the wingersphere.


What's The Difference?

We intend to convince the Communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power. They are not easily convinced. In recent months they have greatly increased their fighting forces and their attacks and the number of incidents. I have asked the Commanding General, General [William C.] Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. We will meet his needs.

- Lyndon B. Johnson, July 28, 1965

There are some who feel like -- that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on.

- George W. Bush, July 2, 2003

As late as May, the Pentagon predicted that U.S. troop levels would fall to 30,000 by September.

- Time Magazine, Is The Army Stretched Too Thin, September 1, 2003

On Monday, a senior official with U.S. Central Command said that the return home of about 24,000 U.S. troops who were scheduled to leave in the next few weeks would be delayed as their replacements arrive. Central Command's responsibility includes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- USATODAY, Pentagon delays U.S. troops' trip home, April 5, 2004

Mr. Bush appeared eager on Monday to dispel any thought that the new wave of attacks on American forces, in which Shiites as well as Sunnis have now joined, would shake his resolve. "If they think that we're not sincere about staying the course, many people will not continue to take a risk toward — take the risk toward freedom and democracy," he told reporters.
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, has asked for contingency plans for increasing the number of troops in Iraq. No decision has been made to supplement the 134,000 troops now there, and White House officials said it was unclear whether such a move would help the situation.

- New York Times, Generals in Iraq Consider Options for More Troops, April 6, 2004

I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle. I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units. But I know them all, every one. I have seen them in thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every State in this Union - working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think that I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow. This is the most agonizing and the most painful duty of your President...I do not want to see all those hopes and all those dreams of so many people for so many years drowned in the wasteful ravages of cruel wars.

- Lyndon B. Johnson, July 28, 1965

Feels good.

- George W. Bush, March 19, 2003

We need a change. November can't come too soon.

- Edward M. Kennedy, April 5, 2004


Speaking Of Losing

In general, the media has focused like a laser beam on Iraq and has ignored our other quagmire in Afghanistan. Maybe it's because we don't like dwell on the agony of defeat:

The Bush Administration has consistently invoked Afghanistan as a success story—an example of the President’s determination. However, it is making this claim in the face of renewed warnings, from international organizations, from allies, and from within its own military—notably a Pentagon-commissioned report that was left in bureaucratic limbo when its conclusions proved negative—that the situation there is deteriorating rapidly.
In late 2002, the Defense Department’s office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (solic) asked retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, a leading military expert in unconventional warfare, to examine the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan, with an understanding that he would focus on Special Forces. As part of his research, Rothstein travelled to Afghanistan and interviewed many senior military officers, in both Special Forces and regular units. He also talked to dozens of junior Special Forces officers and enlisted men who fought there. His report was a devastating critique of the Administration’s strategy. He wrote that the bombing campaign was not the best way to hunt down Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership, and that there was a failure to translate early tactical successes into strategic victory. In fact, he wrote, the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all.

Well, at least we've learned from our mistakes, right?

Rothstein delivered his report in January. It was returned to him, with the message that he had to cut it drastically and soften his conclusions. He has heard nothing further...[Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense] Joseph Collins told me, "There may be a kernel of truth in there, but our experts found the study rambling and not terribly informative." In interviews, however, a number of past and present Bush Administration officials have endorsed Rothstein's key assertions. "It wasn't like he made it up," a former senior intelligence officer said. "The reason they're petrified is that it's true, and they didn't want to see it in writing."

Okay, let's stick to focusing on Iraq. Good thing the war there is going swimmingly...


Monday, April 05, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

V-Ball Tourney

Not a bad night! We beat the 6th seed (we're #7) 15-6, 15-3. That won us the right to play the 1st seed, who had a bye (and has 4 really big hitters). We lost the 1st game 9-15, but played pretty well. We also started the 2nd game strong, but ran out of gas quickly and ended up losing 4-15. I was very pleased with how I played, in particular a number of monster spikes. Yeeeaargh!

We play again on Wednesday (it's a double-elimination dealio). I feel good about our chances staying alive in the tourney, given how we played tonight.


Mankind's Dialogue Has Just Come To An End

In 1946, Albert Camus wrote a series of articles, Neither Victims Nor Executioners, asking humanity to reconsider violence as a solution to our problems. His words in the wake of our second world war seem appropriate today:

I once said that...I could no longer hold to any truth which might oblige me, directly or indirectly to demand a man's life.
We are asked to love or to hate such and such a country and such and such a people. But some of us feel too strongly our common humanity to make such a choice.
Modern nations are driven by powerful forces along the roads of power and domination. I will not say that these forces should be furthered or that they should be obstructed. They hardly need our help and, for the moment, they laugh at attempts to hinder them. They will, then, continue. But I will ask only this simple question: What if these forces wind up in a dead end, what if that logic of history on which so many now rely turns out to be a will o' the wisp?
All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice. After that, we can distinguish those who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked. Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless strugle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than that of the latter. But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.

Of course, Camus was a French commie, so I guess we can safely ignore his words. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition...


Higher, Faster, Stronger

Iraq might be spinning out of control, but at least the country's got a new Olympic logo:

Says Viceroy Bremer on this momentous occasion:

Sport can transcend everything.

The score board does not know democrats from monarchists, Christians from Muslims or Kurds from Arabs. The score board knows only one thing-- accomplishment.
The United States is proud of our contribution to the rebuilding of sport in Iraq. We are contributing $10 million to the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and I am very pleased to announce here today that we are contributing additional $3 million to the refurbishment of Al Sha'ab Olympic stadium.

Mission accomplished!


Spring In Vermont

Yes, those white splotches are snowflakes falling. The red-winged blackbird is wondering, "where the hell did 4 inches of snow come from?"

To answer the blackbird's question: It started last night. Cairo and I went outside for a little fun.

Another experiment with exposure settings.

While the background is too busy to make this a really effective shot, it demonstrates the potential of the continuous burst capability of the D70. This is a junco coming in for a landing at the deck feeder this morning.


I Am Not A CD, I Am An INTP

Over at Talk Left, I took umbrage at being called a "centrist Democrat". Jeralyn had indicated her displeasure about "liberal bloggers" who were critical of Kos--apparently she was only directing her wrath at people like Mark Kleiman, however. 'twas silly to think she might've meant a little blogon like me. Regardless, The Commissar has picked up the epithet and is calling me a "CD", and I want him to take it back or I'll get all pouty and start a massive campaign to get John Kerry to de-link him.

For the record:

* I am socially liberal (pro gay marriage, etc).

* I am fiscally conservative (deficit hawk, etc).

* I don't like parties (political or otherwise).

* I am most decidely NOT a Democrat (just ask Steve Bates).

* I vote for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Socialists, and occassionally Natural Law candidates (when the mood hits).

* Kos' "screw them" comment was insensitive and stupid.

* The wingersphere should get over it.


[Update: added a couple links and corrected a couple typos.] 

Sunday, April 04, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


I was looking for a Rummy quote for a comment over at Eschaton, and discovered I had overlooked a tidy Rummy poem in the DoD archives:

It's kind of untidy.
And one looks at the untidiness and says,
"Oh, my goodness, it's untidy!"
Well, my goodness, democracy's untidy.
Freedom is untidy.
Liberation is untidy.

I love that man.


It's Finally Happened

We've lost the Shia:

Three U.S. soldiers were killed and at least 10 wounded in an ambush in a Baghdad neighborhood Sunday, a senior coalition official told CNN.

The killings in the Shiite majority Sadr City came on a day that saw deadly clashes between protesters and coalition forces in the holy city of Najaf, fighting in Baghdad and a car bombing in Kirkuk.

It looks like 1 Salvadoran and 1 American killed in Najaf, along with up to 20 dead Iraqis, and over 100 wounded, including 10-20 "coalition" soldiers. 5 Iraqis wounded in the Kirkuk blast, and possibly some Americans. Yet everybody is arguing about Kos' poor choice of words.

[Update: the ever-valuable Juan Cole has more...]


All In A Sharp Step

More experimenting with aperture and shutter speed...

Cairo and I threw sticks in the school yard for a while in the rain this afternoon. And yes, that's still snow on the ground.


Spring Forward!

Today's one of my favorite days of the year: we get to set the clocks ahead an hour. Sure, we might be "losing" an hour of sleep today, but to me we're gaining an hour. In my world, the day is bounded by sunset, and having that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day really makes me happy.

So don't forget to reset your clocks and watches (unless you have atomic timepieces like I have), and check the batteries in your smoke detectors.


What Kos Said

Okay, I've been avoiding the story that's taking blogland by storm: Kos' intemperate, impolitic, inane "screw them" comment about the desecrated mercs in Fallujah1. Why? Because as I told somebody offline, I think the whole thing is a tempest in a teacup. But this thing is blowing up in the wingersphere, and I might as well weigh in at this point.

Kos had an emotional reaction to the news that 4 American "contractors" were killed and mutilated. Having lived in a nation that was torn asunder by war - in which American mercenaries reportedly were involved - his worldview is different than mine. Just as some Israelis might only see Palestinians as terrorists (or vice versa), Kos clearly has strong feelings about these private security/quasi-military folks working in Iraq2. He has dehumanized them to some extent.

His anger took over and he uttered his now infamous "screw them" line, saying he had no sympathy for these "soldiers of fortune". Certainly not sentiments I share, but understandable all the same. I saw what Kos wrote and dismissed it as a stupid rant not unlike what I'd seen from wingers about the UN bombing and other atrocities.

Unsurprisingly many folks on the Right, notably Instahack and LGF (rabid idiots to whom I refuse to link), began a campaign to villify Kos for his remarks. Somehow what he said is shown as proof that he - and by extension it would appear, the Left - hates America, wants us to fail in Iraq, and is in league with terrorists. Yeah, I'm painting with a broad brush, but if they can do it, why can't I?

If I'd said "screw them", it would've amounted to nothing. I'm a peon in the blogosphere (a "blogon"?), and while I might have gotten a few trolls who would bemoan my words, this thing would have gone nowhere. But we're talking about Kos, who has become a pretty big name in the blog world, and in real life to a certain extent. He gets to go to Unity Dinners and hang with John Kerry in the bathroom, raises a lot of money for the Dems, does political consulting, was getting air time on Air America (the new liberal talk radio network), etc.

In other words Kos was no longer just a blogger, but a player, however small, in the political arena. As Howard Dean learned, being passionate and shooting from the hip is a double-edged sword. That sort of energy and honesty is something people admire up to a point: once you start stepping on people's toes or offending their sensibilities, then you lose. Kos made a gross political blunder and is now paying a political price. He's losing advertisements from Dem candidates and the Kerry blog has de-linked him.

Kos probably could've mitigated this online lynching if he'd gracefully apologized. He did later explain where he was coming from, but he didn't acknowledge how his remarks could be hurtful or offensive. Figuratively, he had a "bring it on" attitude, which he literally put into words in a follow up post. Standing by your statements and principles is admirable, but not when it involves stupid throwaway comments. How about doing that with something meaningful like the dreadful policies that led to these Americans being in Iraq in the first place, or how we're going to effectively apply small wars tactics and doctrine3 in Fallujah, or something else constructive?

Regardless, it's not fair that Kos is being pilloried for what he said; there's a bit of hypocrisy on the Right surrounding all of this. I fully support his right to say what he wants on his blog or elsewhere, and think that the wingersphere needs to focus on truly important things instead of a silly blog post. However, you play with fire and you might get burned. Politics ain't fair, and Kos needs to realize he has a target on his back as one of the big guys, and he can't give the other side ammunition that they can use to damage his credibility, or our cause.


1 - I can't link to the original screed because dKos seems to be down. If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, you can piece things together at The Commissar's. A reasonable rightwing response to the brouhaha, presented here to be fair and balanced.

2 - I'll note that King George's use of mercenaries was one of the grievances listed in our Declaration of Independence: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

3 - The USMC's Small Wars manual has a lot of insight. For example, it notes "we will have to focus with greater resolution on such factors as cultural, ethnic, religious, societal, and economic microclimates that comprise the nation, region, or organization." I posit that we've failed to do so effectively, and that might've been a good place for Kos to focus: how did we create conditions in which the Sunnis felt it necessary to desecrate American bodies? Or something.

[Update: this whole silly affair has led Atrios to change some policies on his blog. And Jeralyn at Talk Left isn't very happy with liberal bloggers being critical of Kos. And here I was just last night telling The Commissar that I thought we liberals had more nuanced, non-binary worldviews. I stand corrected.] 

Tasty Treat

Rook's Queen munches on my pawn in Bloggers Chess. Damn his eyes!


Saturday, April 03, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


"Can you keep a secret? I lied to the UN about Iraq's WMD.


Fuzzy Math

Bush's radio address today:

This week we received powerful confirmation that America's economy is growing stronger. The Department of Labor reported that America added 308,000 jobs in March, the highest monthly job growth number since the spring of 2000. And since August, we've added over three-quarters of a million new jobs in America.

This week we received powerful confirmation that America's President thinks this will bail him out. As I said yesterday, adding 308k jobs is good news. But allow me once again to "look for the manure in a pile of ponies", as The Commissar likes to say.

First, please note that the President's own Council of Economic Advisors predicted that 320k jobs per month would be created each month through December, 20041. Now I'm no good at math, but 308,000 is less than 320,000, so we're still not reaching the bar the White House set back in February. Positive, much-needed growth, yes, but still shy of administration promises.

Second, let's connect the dots a bit. As I noted yesterday, the number of part time workers went up from 4.437M in February, to 4.733M2. That's an increase of 296,000. So that means only 12,000 full time jobs were created in March. Not a whole lot to crow about. That's especially true when you consider that part of the rise was due to 72,000 grocery workers returning to their jobs last month.

But okay, so we've added 759k since August. Let's accept that as a modestly good bit of news for the sake of argument and use August as our benchmark for considering where we are today.

Once again looking at part time employment, we see that in August there were 4.362M people working part time for economic reasons, and today there are 4.733M. That's a 370k change, so almost half of the gains we've enjoyed since August are not full time jobs with good salaries and benefits. Again, not much bragging rights there.

And what of the people who still, despite yesterday's good news, can't find work? Alas, those people have been unemployed longer on average than they were in August: 20.1 weeks now versus 19.6 weeks last summer. That's higher than any point during the Clinton adminstration. Too bad Bush and his GOP pals in Congress don't want to extend unemployment benefits for our fellow Americans.

As far as I'm concerned, Bush's "every thing is going great" attitude is not far removed from this week's Onion:

Responding to the nation's worst unemployment rate since the Hoover Administration, President Bush addressed the nation's 8.2 million unemployed workers in a televised speech Monday.

"The economy has been on the rebound for months, but 5.6 percent of you are still out of work," Bush said. "Come on, people: Get a job! Don't just sit there hoping that you'll win the lottery. Turn off that boob tube, get off that couch, and start pounding the pavement."
Continued Bush: "I heard McDonald's is hiring. What's wrong with that? Does your fancy degree say you can't work at a Mickey D's? You may not be doing exactly what you want, but at least you'll have the pride of knowing that you're earning your living."

Unfortunately, McD's is where a lot of people are ending up, which might explain why weekly wages are down. Speaking of which, the McD's across the street from my office not too long ago had a sign that said they were hiring, with starting wages up to 9 bucks an hour; now it's only 8 bucks. The Bush economic engine: 1 gear forward, 4 in reverse.


1 - That's a more recent benchmark than the 306k that was originally promised as a result of the Bush tax cuts.

2 - These are people who are part time for "economic reasons": they could not find full time work or their work schedules were reduced due to economic pressures. In other words, they are not working part time out of choice. 

More Photoblogging

Coupla more pics with the new toy. And yes, I'm keeping it. Duh.

The evening grosbeaks have returned! Male on the left, female in the feeder.

I experimented with shutter speeds last night, shooting rain lit by the garage floodlights. This is a 5 second shot.


The Toxic Texan

Lots of lefty bloggers are posting the latest cover of the Economist--no lefty rag--because it's deliciously unflattering to Dubya. I took a look inside and found that a lead article is also full of goodies...

GEORGE BUSH ran for president in 2000 promising to raise the tone of debate in Washington. He was not saying merely that he wouldn't have sex with interns. He was talking about basic honesty, promising to look facts in the face, not to spin (too much), not to make policy by opinion polls, and to give an honest accounting of his actions. He reiterated that position last month in an interview: “The American people [will] assess whether or not I made good calls...And the American people need to know they've got a president who sees the world the way it is.”

Yet the administration's reaction to accusations by Richard Clarke, its former counter-terrorism co-ordinator, raises doubts not only over its judgments but, still more, over whether and how the administration accounts for its decisions. When set in the context of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the ballooning budget deficit, this reaction raises profound questions about the administration's credibility, honesty and competence.
[T]he Clarke affair has a pattern: "never apologise, never explain."...The reason this pattern is disturbing is that all these features can be seen in the policy debates over both the war in Iraq and tax cuts—the policies on which Mr Bush deserves, above all else, to be judged.

In the end the article gets a bit squishy, noting that "worries about Mr Bush do not yet seem to be translating into potential votes for Mr Kerry. It is as if voters, faced with the president's lack of straight dealing, are concluding that truth may indeed be the first casualty of the war they want to win." However, the magazine apparently sent out an e-mail with the subject The Economist Reconsiders its Support of Bush: Toxic Texan's Flaws are Plain for All to See.

Are there enough lifeboats on the USS Karl Rove?


Friday, April 02, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Rainy Day

It's been raining all day, but Cairo and I went out for a little walk this afternoon.

The big white pine in our backyard.

Watch where you step: deer poop in the meadow!



I voted for McCain in the 2000 primary, and might've voted for him over Gore in the general, because he's not afraid to say stuff like this:

I believe my party has gone astray.

He calls 'em like he sees 'em.


Preliminary Good Job News

Are things looking up? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 308k jobs were created last month. That's a nice number, and even above what the Bush administration has promised (306k per month). Across the board the figures were positive (well, 'cept for manufacturing which was unchanged). In short, the preliminary numbers are good.

I'm pleased by the trend, but I still have concerns about a few things1:
And while the official unemployment rate remains "essentially unchanged" at 5.7% (actually up a tick from Feb, but what's the difference?), if you look at unemployment, marginal attachment and forced part time work, the rate has bounced back up from 9.6% in February to 9.9%. That's the same as January (Table A-12).

Apologies to the winger trolls who will chastise me for insufficient enthusiasm, or accuse me of looking for bad economic news to improve Kerry's chances in November, but I can't see one month of barely hitting BushCo's predicted job creation level being a lot to crow about when other significant numbers do not show positive trends. I wish Bush's tax cuts would work, but they don't appear to be having the promised impact. And I await the revised numbers next month to see if this good news endures.


1 - Historical comparisons from archived A table data. 

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Which Way To Canadaria?

A pair of Canada geese in a marshy area on my drive to the office.


Diebold Unwelcome In Vermont

The Vermont House today took one step closer to passing S.2021, "an act relating to voting machines" which includes this section:

No voting shall occur in any general election which does not use printed ballots.

When our ballots are counted, you can be sure who the electorate intended Vermont's 3 Electoral College votes to go for. I guess we Vermonters are just a bit smarter than Floridians...


1 - The committee on Local Government reported in favor of passage, and a third reading has been ordered. The Senate passed it on 2/19/2004.

[Update: the bill passed on 4/2/2004.]

[One other note: the law also says: The secretary of state shall provide for the security of voting machines at all times...The secretary of state may conduct a random post election audit of any polling place election results for a primary or general election within 30 days of the election.

Stunning Announcement

Reaching the lowest point in his three-and-a-half year ex-Presidency, Bill Clinton announced today that he is not running for office in the 2004 election. "I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President," Clinton stated somberly to a shocked dinner audience at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.

Acknowledging that since January 20, 2001, he has not implemented any successful policies to combat terrorism, reinvigorate the stagnant US economy, or address America's energy needs, Clinton said that his record of the past few years would not offer a compelling platform upon which to run. "I just haven't used my position the way I could have." After pausing to bite his lip he continued, "using the bully pulpit of the ex-Presidency, I should've tried harder to work with Congress to get meaningful legislation passed that would protect our economy, our environment, our energy independence and most importantly, our people."

Most pundits agree that Mr. Clinton's failures would negatively impact any chances he might have in November, so it is a wise political move to withdraw from the race now. Bob Novak notes, "Mr. Clinton is responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the dismal job market, and rising gas prices. How could he possibly hope to win with all that counting against him?" Consitutional scholar William Safire has a slightly different take, observing that "the 22nd Amendment might have something to do with Clinton's decision. But really, it's clear he's taking the fall now so his wife can run in 2008."

The White House had no immediate comment, but a senior Bush administration official, on condition of anonymity, exclaimed, "This is great. We've been campaigning against both Clinton and Kerry for a long time. Now that Big Dog is out of the race, we can focus solely on that Massachusetts liberal." 

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.

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My goodness! Rummy loves
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Cairo wonders when I'll be fair
and balanced and go throw sticks...

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