Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Changing Media

Buh-bye Blogger: I'm
now found at dohiyimir
dot typepad dot com

I'm moving early. The re-design is pretty much done, and I'm tired of Haloscan loopiness. So please change your bookmarks and blogrolls to reflect the new URL:!

I even have my first "offical" post up: a brief bit on blogs, democracy, and the media.


Poor, Poor Us

I was going to try to do a Shorter Brooks, but couldn't boil down his latest inanity in any way that would do today's addled column justice. I don't have the time to do a proper fisking, either. Just go read it to peer into the depths of intellectual dishonesty, cognitive dissonance, and self-pity.

I will, however, note my favorite line:

We went into Iraq with what, in retrospect, seems like a childish fantasy.

So many things wrong with just that one sentence...



Here's the latest tally of Kerry contributions: 13 donations for a total of $750 and an average of $57.69. Thanks, all! Anybody else want to kick in?

If you really still shudder at the idea of giving Kerry money (I understand all too well), then please consider giving to the Democratic National Committee to help the Party in general, or Dean's grassroots organization, Democracy for America.


PS--I'm still not a Democrat.

[Update: if the above aren't progressive/liberal enough for you, give to MoveOn. If the above aren't conservative enough for you, uh...] 

Monday, May 10, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Bernie Backs Kerry

Apparently our lone Congressperson, Bernie Sanders, somewhat surprisingly is going to work his ass off to get Kerry elected:

Not only am I going to vote for John Kerry, I am going to run around this country and do everything I can to dissuade people from voting for Ralph Nader. The likelihood is, this election will come down to a relatively few votes. Some of the polls already indicate Nader at 5, 6, 7 percent -- it's the margin of difference allowing Bush to be ahead of Kerry.

I consider four more years of Bush a potential horror show for this country, where actions will be taken that literally will be irreversible in terms of the courts, in terms of the movement or the privatization of Social Security, Medicare, the Veterans' Administration, and public education.

So I am going to do everything that I can, while I have differences with John Kerry, to make sure that he is elected.

(Courtesy The Carpetbagger, via Patridiot Watch)


[Update: Doh! I forgot to remind you to give some turkee to Kerry.] 

Evening Photoblogging

New additions to the photo album:

Something caught Cairo's eye on our daily trek to the mailbox.

No, this isn't what she saw. Can anyone ID this flower? I have no clue, and Stef planted them so long ago she's forgotten what it is.


Bush's Hangover


I have made a career of taking bungee jumps in my election calls. Sometimes I haven't had a helmet and I have gotten a little scratched. But here is my jump for 2004: John Kerry will win the election.

Have you recovered from the shock? Is this guy nuts? Kerry's performance of late has hardly been inspiring and polls show that most Americans have no sense of where he really stands on the key issues that matter most to them. Regardless, I still think that he will win.

Still too soon, but it's a nice thought, isn't it?


[Update: New USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll shows Kerry leading Bush among registered voters 50-44. Oh, and Bush's approval rating is his lowest ever: 46%.] 

Bye, Bye Rummy

Today President Bush told the world that Rummy's doing a "superb job". He then broke into song:

In ev'rything I do,
My sincerity shows thro'
I looked you in the eye,
Don't even have to try,
It's automatic!
I'm sincere!

So it looks like Bush is sticking by his man for now.

Fat lot of good it will do, but you might consider signing Kerry's petition demanding Rummy's resignation. And while you're at it, give Kerry some turkee--it's been a while since DM readers have donated, and I'm sure John has noticed.


Rummy's Hangover


This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential -- even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.

Q: What do you call it when the "best SecDef ever" is fired?
A: A very good start.


[Update: found the direct link to the ArmyTimes editorial.] 

Still Here

I'm still planning on the official move to TypePad on the 14th. There are still some things to tweak, and I want to explore some other hosting options before I take the plunge for real. But things are in motion--here's a picture hosted on the new photo album:

Finally saw a male rose-breasted grosbeak yesterday! Two, actually.


Sunday, May 09, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.


Nope, I haven't moved sites officially yet, but while Blogger was down this evening I posted a long thing about how we blew it in Iraq, and a picture to bring some cheer...




Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I'm going through

Change is afoot at Dohiyi Mir: catch a sneak preview of the new blog and new photo album. Still in the tweaking stages, so feedback is encouraged. Official launch expected on 5/14.


Nancy Backs Embryo Research


Former first lady Nancy Reagan endorsed human embryonic research Saturday night at a star-studded fund-raiser.

Such research is generally opposed by political conservatives and many anti-abortion groups because it involves the destruction of days-old human embryos. President Bush signed an executive order in 2001 limiting research to existing embryonic stem cell lines.

However, Reagan and others believe the use of stem cells taken from embryos could lead to cures for such illnesses as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, which afflicts Reagan's husband, former President Ronald Reagan.

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him," she said. "Because of this I'm determined to do whatever I can to save other families from this pain. I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this."




People ought to get off his case and let him do his job. - Dick Cheney on Donald Rumsfeld

I guess Rummy ain't going anywhere...


A Happy Image

Cairo and her friend, Chocolate Dog1, greet each other as we head out to get the mail. Yes, CD is wearing a bandage and a sock. Anyway, they had fun sniffing butts and chasing each other.


1 - No, we don't know the names of most of her friends--if we did at one point, we've forgotten them. Thus, descriptive nicknames like Chocolate and Neighbor Dog



Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

We are involved in what Boyd called a moral conflict. In fact, I believe we have already lost. We could not win it by torturing prisoners. We could not win it by killing more of "them" than they kill of us. We could not win by lying about our reasons for this war. That is not how you win moral conflicts.

I'm glad some senior military leadership is experiencing an ephiphany about the tactical/strategic dichotomy we face in Iraq. I hope they, and eventually all commanders and the American people, realize very soon that the only thing left to do is make the best of a terrible situation and choose the least bad option.

I keep hearing folks say "failure is not an option". Sorry, but it's not a choice any more. The United States has failed to balance the evil of war with a positive outcome in Iraq. The only question now is how do we deal with our failure.

We missed our window of opportunity to make things right through BushCo's incompetence, arrogance, and lack of planning. I have argued time and again that our troops simply must leave Iraq. I more firmly believe that now than I did last year.


Chechnya: Lopping Off Heads Redux

I have a brief post up at Open Source Politics about today's assassination of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov.


Saturday, May 08, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Out To Breakfast

Took some pics on our meandering way back from breakfast this morning...

These old heaps on VT-128 catch our eye every time we pass by. This time we stopped.

There's some new logging going on a couple miles down the road.

They might be clearing for a new house, or just selling off some lumber. Whatever the reason, they're making a mess.

Looks complicated to operate!

No logging here.


The Story Of Little George

Tom Burka has the story:

When George was little, his father put him in charge of the garden in the back yard.

"Now, George, the gardeners are going to make this garden nice. All you have to do is make sure that they do a good job."

"Yes, Daddy," said George.

George had some other things to do, so he put his dog in charge of the gardeners.

When the gardeners came, they burned down the toolshed, destroyed the garden, trampled the yard, and demolished the neighbor's house.

When George's father came back, he was stunned.

"How did this happen?" he asked George.

Read George's response...



BBWW is celebrating 6 months in the blogoverse! Go congratulate Mustang Bobby.

Apropos of nothing, I'm going to be overhauling DM in the coming weeks as part of a relaunch celebrating my one year blogoversary in June. I appreciate the feedback I've gotten over the past several months, and I hope to make the site more functional, easier to read, etc.



Stef's glasses on her nightstand with today's morning light sneaking past the window blinds.


Shorter David Brooks

B-b-but we're noble and our cause is just!


Depending On The General Spirit Of The People


The war in Iraq has become also a war of images. This week, we were troubled by pictures of tortured Iraqi prisoners. Last week, it was photographs of American soldiers who have given their lives there.

On Friday a week ago on NIGHTLINE, Ted Koppel read the names of the dead and showed their photographs. But their faces and names were blacked out on ABC stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair accused Koppel of "…doing nothing more than making a political statement."
[I]t's their right. Freedom of the press, it has been famously said, is guaranteed only to those who own one.

That's just the point. These media giants can be within their rights even while doing wrong. It's the system, dear Brutus, the system...a cartel, in effect, of big companies and big government scratching each other's back.
Nowadays, these mega-media conglomerates relieve government of the need for censorship by doing it themselves. So we're reminded once again that journalism's best moments have come not when journalists make common cause with the state but stand fearlessly independent of it. A free press remains everything to a free society.

Thank goodness for blogs.


[Update: Tom Curley, the AP's President and CEO, also gets it. Read the whole thing. Thanks to praktike over at Eschaton.] 

Friday, May 07, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

I Am Enamour'd Of Growing Outdoors

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass:

The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the
           house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog ;
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-
           spread wings ;
I see in them and myself the same old law.

A chickadee perches amongst new leaves this afternoon. It brings me cheer.


Some Good News From Iraq

The Poison Kitchen: Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked.


Speaking Of Rummy

Time to lighten the mood: we have a winner in the latest Rummy Caption Contest! Here's the picture:

As usual, it was a tough choice. The honorable mentions:
The Honorable Mentions and really everybody did an excellent job. And without further ado, the $10 Amazon gift cert goes to:

So, Master Rumsfeld, is this how the Fist of the West Side is done?

You have much to learn, Grasshopper...

(: Tom :)

Congratulations! Thanks to everybody for entering, and for you continued readership.


PS--What will we do if Rummy resigns/gets fired? We'll need a new patsy for caption contests. 

Godwin's Law Has Been Suspended

2001 State Dept. report on Human Rights Practices in Iraq:

The authorities routinely used arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged detention, and incommunicado detention, and continued to deny citizens the basic right to due process...Special security courts have jurisdiction in all cases involving espionage and treason, peaceful political dissent, smuggling, currency exchange violations, and drug trafficking. According to the Special Rapporteur and other sources, military officers or civil servants with no legal training head these tribunals, which hear cases in secret. Authorities often hold defendants incommunicado and do not permit contact with lawyers...

2004 Amnesty International report on US detention policies:

Wazir Mohammad was held incommunicado. He was given no opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of his detention. He had no lawyer, no access to his family, and was not brought before any court, including the "competent tribunal" envisaged by the Geneva Conventions to determine prisoner status in time of war. He never met a delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross either. He was then put on a plane to Guantánamo Bay. He said that he was hooded and handcuffed for the 22-hour flight. When asked about toilet facilities during the flight, he refused to elaborate, saying that he could not talk of some of the things that happened on the plane.(19) Upon arrival at Guantánamo, Wazir Mohammad said that he and his fellow detainees were taken off the plane "like cargo, not people".

The Origins of Totalitarianism:

How important to the total-domination apparatus this complete disappearance of its victims is can be seen in those instances where, for one reason or another, the regime was confronted with the memory of survivors. During the war, one SS commandant made the terrible mistake of informing a French woman of her husband's death in a German concentration camp; this slip caused a small avalanche of orders and instructions to all camp commandants, warning them that under no circumstances was information ever to be given to the outside world. The point is that, as far as the French widow was concerned, her husband had supposedly ceased to live at the moment of his arrest, or rather had ceased ever to have lived.

But we're the good guys, right?


[Update: Wapo:

There were no rules, by her account, and little training. But the mission was clear. Spec. Sabrina Harman, a military police officer charged with abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, said she was assigned to break down prisoners for interrogation.

Guess the "blowing off steam" defense isn't cutting it, so we're falling back on "just following orders", eh? Nuremberg. My Lai. Abu Ghraib. Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.


Every Morning the War Gets Up from Sleep

From my book one of my favorite books, Iraqi Poetry Today:

Ah! Every morning the war gets up from sleep.
So I place it in a poem, make the poem into a boat, which I throw into the Tigris.

This is war, then.


Zen Chess

Rook makes a Zen-inspired move in our epic Bloggers Chess match. Might be time for me to dust off the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.


Is Our Republicans Learning?


A pro-military Democratic congressman's description of the war in Iraq as "unwinnable" unless changes are made sparked anger in House Republicans Thursday.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, in a news conference with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the problems in Iraq are due to a "lack of planning" by Pentagon chiefs and "the direction has got be changed or it is unwinnable."

Republicans seized on that word, ignoring Murtha's overall point: that more troops and equipment should be sent to Iraq.

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the majority leader, accused Murtha of participating in a "calculated and craven political stunt."

"The Democrats are quitting, calling the war unwinnable while we have our men and women and their families sacrificing every day" charged Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

A few things struck me about this story and the way it was reported:
Why is it that Republicans have such a hard time with reading comp? Maybe the private schools they went to should be declared "failing" and shut down?


Now That's An Apology


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday extended "my deepest apologies'' to Iraqi prisoners abused by U.S. military personnel and told Congress he accepts full responsibility for the shocking events.

"These events occurred on my watch. As Secretary of Defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility,'' Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

I didn't think the old goat had it in him. At least somebody's taking responsibility in this administration.


Manure In A Pile Of Ponies

288k jobs created last month. Good.

Other items also modestly improved: employment population ratio was up 0.1%; average duration of unemployment dropped from 20.1 weeks to 19.7; there were 159k fewer people working part-time for economic reasons. Good.

Now the manure in that pile of ponies (thanks, Commissar): the number of jobs created were fewer than last month, and fewer than the promised 320k/month; hours worked was stagnant; wages barely budged. Not good.

Overall, hopeful signs in this report. I know the wingers will chastise me for my lack of enthusiasm, but these numbers are nothing to crow about, especially after years of promises--for me this is more of the good feeling you get when you stop beating your head against the wall. That said, I'm happy to see positive job growth, and hope to see this trend continue.


Chipping Away

Cairo and I walked to the mailbox yesterday afternoon, as is our wont, and we saw lots of stuff, including a chipping sparrow.

Speaking of chipping, here's Cairo last weekend taking a break from making wood chips out of a log.


Thursday, May 06, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Caption Contest Reminder!

Even though I said midnight UTC today was the deadline for the current Rummy Caption Contest, it's still really not too late to enter for a chance to win a VALUABLE PRIZE. Winner announced tomorrow. Go now!


Meta Apology

Bush today:

I told [King Abdullah] I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families. I told him I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America. I assured him Americans, like me, didn't appreciate what we saw, that it made us sick to our stomachs. I also made it clear to His Majesty that the troops we have in Iraq, who are there for security and peace and freedom, are the finest of the fine, fantastic United States citizens, who represent the very best qualities of America: courage, love of freedom, compassion, and decency.

How nice of our Narcissist-in-Chief:

The essential feature of the narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy (DSM-IV™, 1994, p. 658)...Kantor (1992, pp. 203-204) describes the clinical characteristics of NPD as:

  • inordinate self-pride;

  • self-concern;

  • an exaggeration of the importance of one's experiences and feelings;

  • ideas of perfection;

  • a reluctance to accept blame or criticism;

  • absence of altruism although gestures may be made for the sake of appearance;

  • empathy deficit; and,

  • grandiosity.

Yes, Bush's meta apology is a sign of his real pathology. Hey, if Krauthammer can diagnose people from afar, so can I...


[Update: apparently Bush's crap passes as a real apology for the AP's Terence Hunt: President Bush, struggling to control a growing crisis, apologized Thursday for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers and called it "a stain on our country's honor." Puhleeze!] 

Grisly Arithmetic

I was arguing with somebody the other night about Iraq-Vietnam comparisons. Inevitably, wingers point out the literal differences between the two conflicts, as though we don't know there are differences and that the analogy requires them to be exactly the same to hold true. One of the most popular reasons they list for why Iraq is no Vietnam is the casualty level, so I decided to take a look more closely.

Of course, it doesn't take a lot of research to recognize that casualties in Vietnam were an order of magnitude higher than what we're incurring in Iraq. But one would expect our casualties to be fewer now, wouldn't we? I mean, we've been told that our military technology is a force multiplier, so we need fewer troops to do the job and all that. But whatever.

First, some raw data. Here's a chart I built comparing the first 14 months of each conflict1:

What leaps out at me is that during the initial combat phase in Iraq, we suffered more casualties than we did in Vietnam. Of course, things got rapidly worse in Vietnam, whereas our quick overthrow of Saddam's regime bought us a relative "lull" in fighting. One other scary thing: we've seen a dramatic upward trend in casualties in the last few months, and May shows no sign of the violence abating.

All told, there were 14,910 killed and wounded during the first 14 months of Vietnam, and 4852 total casualties2 during the same span in Iraq. Great, we've only lost about 1/3 the personnel we did in Vietnam. Wow, I guess the wingers are right that Iraq is totally not Vietnam. It sucks 1/3 less!

What it all comes down to is this: wingers seem to think there is a threshold that we must pass before we can compare Vietnam and Iraq, and before we can call this a quagmire. Okay, so when do we cross that line? Do we have to be knee deep in the Big Muddy (or Sandy) before we recognize we're bogged down? Will we know we're in trouble when we have 1000 dead?

I was asked to put a number on it myself (I'll note the person asking the question never provided his). I said 500. Mostly arbitrary, but I figured it was a round milestone number, and clearly indicated that we'd been a) in Iraq for a significant time, thus the conflict would not be a Six Week Wonder like GWI, and b) incurring low-level casualties on a continuing basis, indicating that we aren't making any progress in terms of security and stability. Given that Vietnam also started slowly, and when we hit 500 in Iraq we were beginning to trend upward, this sounded like a reasonable marker of quagmireness.

But more importantly, how many is too many? Is 11,552 acceptable? How about 18,937? Or 29,853? Roughly 30k is apparently how many the "mass public" would accept in Iraq, according to a 1999 survey. However, what's important to note is the study asked specifically how tolerant would Americans be of casualties in a conflict to rid Saddam of WMD. Further, it seems that "what is crucial for maintaining public support is not [the incursion of] casualties per se, but casualties in an inconclusive war, casualties that the public sees as being suffered indefinitely, for no clear, good, or achievable purpose." That is why support for the war has slid.3

Let's leave Vietnam for the moment. All the talk about Abu Ghraib has made me wonder about some other comparisons. Wingers are gnashing their teeth, wailing, "where were the liberals when Saddam was doing bad things?" Is that really the bar we've set for ourselves: that we do bad things, but not as much as Saddam did?

I think of the Iraqis we've killed in combat since March, 2003, and the new revelations of abuse, torture and murder at our hands and again wonder, how much is too much? Is 11,000 Iraqi civilians we killed in just over 1 year (not counting the 1300+ we killed in April alone) really that much better than the 300,000 Saddam killed in 25? Is our abuse better than Saddam's because we mean well?

Not only have we gone in and destabilized a region and pissed off the Arab world more than they already were, but we've done the very things the bad guys have done. Keeping score and saying we're an order of magnitude less evil is cold comfort. This time it's my fucking government that is to blame. Morally and pragmatically, if not strategically, this war is a disaster.

Why did we lose Vietnam? Wingers like to say hippies and politicians are to blame. I'd say it was our inability to match our words with our deeds: saying we are defending freedom sounds great, but the reality of abuse, death and destruction trumps any assertions we make. Why did we lose Iraq? The numbers aren't exactly the same as Vietnam, but as Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, at best it rhymes." We're singing the same sad song today that we did 40 years ago.


1 - I'm dating Vietnam as having started in March, 1965, when the first combat troops arrived (3,500 Marines, augmenting 25,000 advisors already in country). I think starting as early as 1961 is warranted, but I see most people put it somewhere between '64 and '66. Data sources: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, US National Archives & Records Administration, and Lunaville.

2 - This is assuming that Col. Hackworth is not correct when he says we're approaching 22,000 casualties. I've seen such high figures reported elsewhere, usually based on evacs or how many people have been treated at hospitals like Walter Reed, but I'm going to stick with the officially reported figures.

3 - That's interesting because support for Vietnam didn't start to really tank until late 1967.

[Update: made some minor edits.] 

Unhappy Campers

Wow, the latest Gallup poll is telling:
Oh my.


Morning Zen

I love mornings, especially the calm before-the-day-starts feeling as the birds start to wake up. As Cairo and I were taking out the trash/recycling, we paused to listen to the sounds of the red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, and other members of the avian chorus. We also took in the sights of the foggy world in the early morning light...

One of the many webs out in our meadow this morning. Alas, at this resolution, you can't really see the teeny droplets of moisture collected on the strands.


Starry Eyed Friedman

Tommy is so cute when he gets all optimistic. He's right, Rummy should resign, but I don't hold out hope that this or anything else BushCo does will do all that much to restore our moral authority in the community of nations. We lost that long ago, and it's going to take a long time to get it back.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Bush: US Will Withdraw From Iraq

Bush speaking to Arab TV today:

Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country. And we will help them rid Iraq of these killers.

A bold suggestion from our steady leader. I expect our troops to come home any day now...


Not Sadistic Dog Blogging

Since the cat thing didn't go over so well, how about a happy dog?

Cairo's friend, Neighbor Dog, wags his tail beyond the stone fence.


Sadistic Cat Blogging

A student showed me this advert a couple weeks ago. It hit Mark Morford's radar screen today:


No, wait. I mean sick. Sick and wrong and pure distasteful vileness and what is the world coming to.

And genius. And hilarious.

Viral marketing. Sinister as hell. It's when an ad company creates a twisted little promotion specifically designed to bypass the mainstream and penetrate the subculture and be spread by word of mouth and word of e-mail, and everyone forwards it on to their friends and family and says oh my God you've got to see this hilarious video oh my God it's so funny/sick/horrible/twisted oh my God click here now.



Goodbye Blue Sky

It's a grey, dreary day today.

Here's a happy cloud from last weekend. What does it look like to you?


A Great Victory For American Workers


The Republican-controlled Senate voted yesterday to block new Labor Department rules that critics said would deny overtime pay to millions of white-collar workers, handing an embarrassing rebuff to the Bush administration on a politically sensitive jobs issue.

The Senate voted 52 to 47 to scrap the new rules despite recent changes to address earlier criticism, an intense lobbying campaign by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao and a last-ditch GOP effort to avert defeat by proposing a long list of jobs for which overtime pay could not be eliminated.

Although the GOP's concessions were approved unanimously, they did not satisfy five moderate Republicans who broke ranks to vote with nearly all Democrats in favor of keeping the administration from cutting anyone's overtime pay.

But I'm sure the bastards at BushCo will try again. Last July, the House voted to let them go ahead with killing OT for upwards of 8 million workers (the DoL claimed "at least 644,000"). Fortunately, in September the Senate gave the House and BushCo a smackdown. I'm ever thankful for the Senatorial saucer...


[Update: the roll call vote wasn't available when I first posted. The "moderate Rs" were: Campbell, Chafee, Murkowski, Snowe and Specter. The usual suspects, I guess. The only Dem to vote no? Miller, of course.] 

Not A Caption Contest

Bush will speak to Arab TV: "Calm down, already!"

Don't forget, you still have two days to enter the Rummy caption contest for a chance to win a VALUABLE PRIZE!


Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Perpetual Energy

Sam the Action Kitten this evening:

As regular readers know, Sam's favorite toy his is Amazing Technicolor Dream Fish. He usually starts slowly, just poking at it.

Then he'll start picking up the fish...

...and batting his prey around.

But he especially likes to flip the toy...

...often quite high and far (note the upper left corner of the pic)!

Sorry, but I had to post these...


Bush Rally In Michigan

Edited for clarity:

THE PRESIDENT: Lie about being on a bus tour.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Blahblahblah, stronger, safer, better, we will win on November the 2nd.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT: We've had a fabulous day today. Vote for me so Laura can be First Lady for four more years.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: 9/11. We're kicking terrorist ass.


THE PRESIDENT: Our military rocks.


THE PRESIDENT: Lie about not passing problems on to future Presidents.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: I'm running against an experienced United States Senator.


THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry flip-flopping.


THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry's campaign being full of bitterness and outbursts instead of calm debate.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry and taxes.


THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry and spending and taxes.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Empty talk about jobs and economic isolationism won't get anybody hired. But here's some anyway.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: We kicked Saddam's ass.


THE PRESIDENT: September the 11th, 2001. I'm taking names and kicking asses.


THE PRESIDENT: America kicks ass.


THE PRESIDENT: Here's a nice lie: Kerry will only defend America if other countries [France] agree.


THE PRESIDENT: Lie about Kerry voting against ammunition and supplies and body armor for our troops.


THE PRESIDENT: September the 11th. Our military kicks ass.

AUDIENCE: Bush! Bush! Bush!

THE PRESIDENT: I won't come right out and say it, but abortionists are terrorists and activist judges like fags. Remember when I stood on the WTC rubble? That was cool.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: America rocks.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!


The Fetishists Are In Charge


A number of people, including Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, think that the Bush administration shunned early elections, which might have given legitimacy to a transitional government, so it could impose economic policies that no elected Iraqi government would have approved. Indeed, over the past year the Coalition Provisional Authority has slashed tariffs, flattened taxes and thrown Iraqi industry wide open to foreign investors — reinforcing the sense of many Iraqis that we came as occupiers, not liberators.

But it's the reliance on private contractors to carry out tasks usually performed by government workers that has really come back to haunt us.

Conservatives make a fetish out of privatization of government functions; after the 2002 elections, George Bush announced plans to privatize up to 850,000 federal jobs. At home, wary of a public backlash, he has moved slowly on that goal. But in Iraq, where there is little public or Congressional oversight, the administration has privatized everything in sight.
You may ask whether our leaders' drive to privatize reflects a sincere conservative ideology, or a desire to enrich their friends. Probably both. But before Iraq, privatization that rewarded campaign contributors was a politically smart move, even if it was a net loss for the taxpayers.

In Iraq, however, reality does matter. And thanks to the ideologues who dictated our policy over the past year, reality looks pretty grim.


It Is Spring, Right?

On Sunday it was really windy. Today, it's snowing...

Apparently it was breezy enough this weekend to blow a robin's egg out of the nest. Note that there is no snow on the ground in the picture. Sigh.


Monday, May 03, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

A Tradition Revived

Garth Brooks: C'mon, man, let's step outside.
Rummy: You wouldn't hit an impotent old guy with glasses now, would you?

The caption contest is back. 1 prize: 10 bucks from Amazon. Submit your entries in comments by Thursday, Midnight UTC.


I Gotta Get Me A New Agent

So I was reading about how David Brock is starting a site called Media Matters that will keep an eye on the winger media. Then I find the blogosphere's own ODub will be joining the team. Congrats on joining a cool, important project!

Someday I'll get an offer to blog professionally. Someday.


Less Brutal Than Saddam


If the United States invaded Iraq to liberate its people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, recent reports of "systematic" inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners only underscore that the very nature of occupation of one country by another is such that it invariably leads to acts that dehumanize the occupied people in the name of security. The outcome: intense and incessant hostility, resentment, and anger of the occupied toward the occupiers.

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh has written a gruesome account of gross and systematic abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Gharib prison. The ultimate irony is that, during the rule of Saddam, Abu Gharib became a symbol of brutality. Once it could not find weapons of mass destruction to justify its invasion of Iraq, the administration of US President George W Bush claimed that the liberation of Iraqis from the most inhumane rule of a dictator was a good enough reason for taking military action against that country. Now reports of the US military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners in that notorious prison threaten to deprive the United States of even that wobbly claim.

The seeds of prisoner abuse were sown in the very act of invasion and occupation of a country, especially when it was done without the moral authority of the international community. By going into Iraq without the sanction of the United Nations - the sole symbol of international legitimacy - the occupation forces became the target of Iraqi anger, particularly by not only remaining there indefinitely, but also by promising to transform Iraq into the image of their own society. Any expectation of overwhelming cooperation from the Iraqi populace was unrealistic. The manifestation of Iraqi anger through acts of resistance and insurgency was bound to create an equally brutal response from the occupying forces.
The Arab world has been saturated with the reports and pictures of the dehumanization of Iraqi prisoners. Admittedly, there is no comparison between the brutality of the Saddam regime and the reports of abuse of prisoners in occupied Iraq. However, as one dispatch in the latest issue of Newsweek aptly notes: "No one would liken US abuses to Saddam's techniques, which included the most sadistic forms of torture and murder. But then, being more humane than Saddam isn't much to brag about."

Yay, we suck less! Go team!


A Cat's Life

Sam wakes up after a nap on his favorite step.


Sunday, May 02, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Mars, Bitch!

Commenter lil' John reminded me of Dave Chappelle's "Black President" bit on Comedy Central ("Mars, bitch!") in the Mars thread below. If you haven't seen it, you must (RealAudio).


[Update: oops, looks like the Comedy Central video doesn't have the whole thing. Try this AVI (you'll need a DIVX codec).] 

Anyone For Chess?

Finally: my latest Bloggers Chess move is posted.


Anyone For Tennis?

"C'mon, Daddy, let's go play!"


Relax, Celebrate The Quagmire

Richard Perle in McPaper on May 2, 2003:

[The war] ended quickly1 with few civilian casualties2 and with little damage to Iraq's cities, towns or infrastructure3. It ended without the Arab world rising up against us4, as the war's critics feared, without the quagmire they predicted5, without the heavy losses in house-to-house fighting6 they warned us to expect.
In full retreat, the war's opponents have now taken up new defensive positions7: "Yes, it was a military victory, but you haven't found Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction." Or, "Yes, we destroyed Saddam's regime, but now other dictators will try even harder to develop weapons of mass destruction to make sure they will not fall to some future American preemptive strike."

We will find Saddam's well-hidden chemical and biological weapons programs8, but only when people who know come forward and tell us where to look. While Saddam was in power, even a hint about his concealment and deception was a death sentence, often by unimaginable torture against whole families. Saddam had four years to hide things. We have had a few weeks to find them. Patience--and some help from free Iraqis--will be rewarded.

The idea that our victory over Saddam will drive other dictators to develop chemical and biological weapons misses the key point: They are already doing so9. That's why we may someday need to preempt rather than wait until we are attacked10
Iraqis are freer today11 and we are safer12. Relax and enjoy it13.

Ah, would it were still the heady days of May, 2003.


1 - Newsflash: with "coalition" troops still dying daily, and 137,000 US military personnel still in Iraq, it is clear the war isn't over.

2 - Upwards of 11,000 civilians have been killed according to Iraq Body Count. Also:

[A] count by The Associated Press found that around 1,361 Iraqis were killed from April 1 to April 30 [2004] - 10 times the figure of at least 136 U.S. troops who died during the same period.

The Iraqi tally was compiled from daily records of violence reported by AP based on statements issued by the U.S. military, Iraqi police and local hospitals. The count includes civilians, insurgents and members of the Iraqi security forces, though a detailed breakdown was not possible.

3 - Council on Foreign Relations:

Preliminary estimates by the World Bank indicate that the Iraqi economy suffered in 2003, with GDP declining to $480 to $630 per capita. The decline was largely related to the drop in oil production caused by the war—Iraq has the world’s second largest proven oil reserves, and most of the government’s revenues traditionally come from oil. Widespread electricity outages also hobbled many businesses. Other factors hurting businesses included post-war looting, increased crime, the ongoing insurgency, and damage directly caused by fighting.


The government has spent less than $2.8 billion of the $18.4 billion that Congress provided half a year ago for rebuilding Iraq, despite the cries of urgency that accompanied President Bush's request for the money.

4 - The Arab world still hated us back in March. Could this be the tipping point?

Graphic pictures showing the apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British soldiers in Iraq have sparked anger among Muslims across the world...

5 - When exactly does a quagmire begin? Regardless, Col. Daniel Smith (Ret.) agrees:

Yes, Iraq is not a quagmire. But at a time when U.S. budget deficits of $401 billion this year and $480 billion for 2004 are forecast, Iraq looms as an ever-expanding funnel into which human lives, human talent, and monetary resources are being poured, never to be recovered. That, by any measure, defines a veritable black hole.

BTW, 51% of Americans believe Iraq is likely to turn into another Vietnam.

6 - I'm sure Perle doesn't consider over 140 dead "heavy losses", but April 2004 was indeed the cruelest month, and we were pushed out of Iraqi cities like Fallujah:

Gunmen waved their weapons in Fallujah's streets and outside car windows Saturday, cheering what they called a victory as U.S. forces pulled back. But the Marines insisted they weren't going far and that a new Iraqi force taking the front line will root out die-hard insurgents
Scores of Iraqis gathered in the streets Saturday morning, some flashing "V" for victory signs and raising the Iraqi flag. Motorists drove through the streets, shouting "Islam, it's your day!" and "We redeem Islam with our blood!"

A senior U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Marine command was not alarmed by the gleeful reaction in the city, the Washington Post reported. Of more significance, the official said, is whether the militiamen will succeed in restoring security to a level sufficient enough for U.S. troops to enter the city without being attacked.

7 - Is there such a thing as pre-emptive projection?

8 - UNMOVIC: No evidence of either current or recent development or production of proscribed munitions was uncovered. David Kay: I don't think they existed...[A] combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them.

9 - Perle misses the point: they are already doing so because we have a hegemonic military presence throughout the world (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Korean Peninsula) and have shown we are willing to invade any country to get what we want (e.g., apprehend former strongman allies like Noriega and Saddam).

10 - Pre-emption requires an imminent threat, which we know Iraq wasn't. What we engaged in was preventive, and based on bad intel and lies, so it was really nothing more than gussied up aggressive warfare. We have rightly condemned and renounced this instrument of policy since the end of WWII, and continued talk of invading other sovereign nations only threatens world peace and stability.

11 - Are they? I guess they have freedom of speech, except when their papers publish something we don't like. They definitely have freedom to worship the way they want today, although if they choose to establish an Islamic theocracy, we'll veto that. Given current economic conditions, it appears that they don't have freedom from want, and the disastrous security situation means they don't have freedom from fear. They still haven't gotten to select their own government. We've given them reason to believe that we're no better than Saddam, and that we should leave their country. Yet we won't leave until we decide to--that hardly sounds like they're free.

12 - I didn't believe this crap last year, and I don't believe it now. After thousands of lives and billions of dollars, I want proof, not assertions.

13 - What was it we're supposed to enjoy? I've quite forgotten. 

Saturday, May 01, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

9/11 Couldn't Have Been Prevented


Esteemed members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, good afternoon. As National Security Advisor, my job is to coordinate the efforts of America's intelligence and defense agencies and report directly to the president. I was, and continue to be, in a unique position to understand the threats and dangers our nation faces. It is with utmost confidence and sincerity that I assure each and every one of you that there was no way the federal government could have prevented the horrific events of Sept. 11 without accruing an enormous amount of overtime.

No wonder the Bush administration wants to get rid of OT benefits for millions of Americans--they've learned the lessons of September the 11th, 2001, and it's all part of the "war" on terror.


We're Going To WallyWorld!

Our ADD preznit at work:

Like his father's proposal to go to Mars, President George W. Bush's grand space exploration vision appears to be on the verge of being scuttled well before launch. Despite its goal of refocusing NASA, the vision's potential to inspire dreams and garner new funds is largely evaporating.
When announced, Bush's long-term plan to "extend a human presence across our solar system" excited advocates of human spaceflight, who saw Mars in particular as an invigorating target for astronauts who have spent the past 30 years going in circles. That insider euphoria hasn't spread to the masses.

Surveys show the bulk of the public is as nonplussed over the prospect of going to Mars as it is about returning to the Moon. Apathy for human spaceflight has made bold strides over the past three decades. Go if you like, the public seems to say, just do it within your budget.

The responsibility for the rapidly fading vision rests with the lack of leadership afforded NASA by the Bush Administration. It's as if Dad said the family is going to Disneyland, then he went back to work and left them all wondering when and how.

I sense another inspiring primetime speech by Bush soon:

I think you're all fucked in the head. We're ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fucking fun we'll need plastic surgeory to remove our godamn smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of you're assholes! I gotta be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!

I just hope the park's not closed when we get there...


Mini Blogaround

Something this bad boy hasn't done in a long time:

You Know We'll Have A Good Time Then

Making up for lost time...

The crocuses are gone, and the hyacinth has sprung up to take their place.

I believe this is a white-crowned sparrow out in the meadow.

Sam has been very curious about "outside", so I let him poke around on the deck a little this afternoon.

The chippers are a bit frisky today.

Okay, no more photoblogging today.


Oregon Votes

Faithful reader, and contributor at Candleblog, Spine casts his ballot by mail in Oregon:

I sure do love to vote. But after all the drama of the presidential primary campaign, after all those candidates, I'm left with three unexciting choices on Oregon's ballot: John Kerry, Lyndon LaRouche, and Dennis Kucinich. I don't care for these choices. It will be time soon enough to vote for Kerry, and I'll do so eagerly. Today, though, I'm voting for the guy I truly believe in...

As Spine does his civic duty, I'll continue to do my blog duty. But first, some time in outside with the dog...


We Should Be Nice To Europe


The new 25-member European Union has heralded its historic expansion with celebrations across the new bloc.

The 15 old members welcomed in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia at midnight.
With a population of 455m, the EU now is the world's biggest trading bloc.

First they want their own GPS, now their Union is bigger than ours. Is there a new sheriff in town?



Cairo on the couch while I was packing last Sunday. Not sure if she was sad I was leaving, or upset by the news from Iraq.


Denial: It's Not Just A River In Punditland

Bush's radio address today:

Electricity is now more widely available [in Iraq] than before the war.

Reality check:
What else did Dubya say?

Iraq's oil infrastructure is being rebuilt, with the Iraqi oil industry already producing about 2.5 million barrels per day.

Reality check:
But surely there's real good news?

On June 30th, a sovereign Iraqi interim government will take office.

Reality check (from Aunty Beeb):
Oh wait...the schools, the schools!


Denial: Apparently It's A River In Iraq

The lovely and talented Mona Charen:

"They are the images of war the Bush Administration doesn't want the American public or anyone to see. But a Web site is showing hundreds of flag-draped caskets arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Official Bush Administration and Defense Department policy forbids such photographs, saying they are disrespectful of the dead. Critics say the policy hides truth from the public, and they got the photos released under the Freedom of Information Act." So spoke Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News on April 22.

The word "hundreds" is exaggerated. There have actually been about 126 American combat deaths in April. That very tendency to overstate goes far toward explaining the Pentagon and Bush Administration's embrace of the no pictures policy in the first place.

Uh, Mona, there are 288 photos. While some appear to be different views of the same scene, there are clearly multiple caskets in each shot, so "hundreds of caskets" is not an exaggeration. And bringing up the total in April is a red herring because, of course, that's not the only month in which our 743 troops (i.e., "hundreds") have died, nor is there any indication that the photos in question are just from April.

But Mona's right: we shouldn't "overstate" how many people have died. Nor should we honor the hundreds of fallen in any way that is not officially sanctioned by the keepers of the Holy Flame of Heroism. If the Army Times wants to have a tribute to each of our military dead, that's one thing, but if Ted Koppel wants to do something, clearly it's political and anti-American.

Besides, why should we cry about hundreds of dead troops when thousands of Americans die in traffic accidents in the US every year1? Can't we focus on the positive stuff in Iraq, like how we've rid the country of torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves? Oh wait...the schools, the schools!


1 - This footnote is for The Commissar. According to the DOT, 43,220 people died on our roads in 2003. With a 2003 population of just under 291 million, that's a rate of 14.86 per 100,000 people. 743 deaths out of roughly 137 thousand troops in Iraq (according to Brookings' Iraq Index) is a rate of 542.33 per 100,000. Our military personnel are almost 40 times more likely to die in Iraq than we are in our cars.

[Update: fixed some numbers.]

['nother update: it occurred to me that even if we only looked at the 140 Americans who died in April, that would still be considered "hundreds". In fact, Merriam-Webster says:

Main Entry: hun·dred
2 hundreds plural a : the numbers 100 to 999 b : a great number <hundreds of times>


A Ray Of Sunshine

A bluebird in the meadow on a hazy May Day morning...


Mission Accomplished

A trip down memory lane:

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

One year and 600 dead American soldiers later, we're begging a former general in Saddam's Republican Guard to restore order in Fallujah.


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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