May 31, 2005


Is there anything more frightening than leaving your pet at the vet for "observation"? Tigger's 12 and has a touch of arthritis, or so the vet said three weeks ago. This morning she couldn't make her back legs work.

Now they've called to say there's some kind of neurological problem with her hips.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)

Should impeachment be considered?

On May 6 I wrote about a memo (now being called The Downing Street Memo) which surfaced during the recent UK elections. It indicated that the Bush Administration intended to invade Iraq as early as Spring 2002, even if the justification for that action included slanting and/or falsifying intelligence. Now a coalition has been created to collect further information and to persuade the House of Representatives to begin an inquiry into the allegations contained within that memo. What particular questions should be asked? Well:

The question must now be asked, with the release of the Downing Street Memo, whether the President has committed impeachable offenses. Is it a High Crime to engage in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for taking the nation into war? Is it a High Crime to manipulate intelligence so as to allege falsely a national security threat posed to the United States as a means of trying to justify a war against another nation based on "preemptive" purposes? Is it a High Crime to commit a felony via the submission of an official report to the United States Congress falsifying the reasons for launching military action?


If the evidence revealed by the Downing Street Memo is true, then the President’s submission of his March 18, 2003 letter and report to the United States Congress would violate federal criminal law, including: the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, which makes it a felony "to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose..."; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress.

Who are these guys? "is a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war." Check it out. If you're interested, join the Big Brass Alliance and add your voice.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

How did Memorial Day begin?

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans - the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) - established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared it should be May 30. It is believed the date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered on the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and other Washington officials presided. After speeches, children from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Arlington, like all cemeteries, is a somber place, but of all the historic sites in Washington, it may be the most beautiful. I've been there a few times (most memorably the JFK burial), and it's a hard place to forget. If you're ever in the area, it ought to be on your list of places to see.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

Perchance to dream

I was watching the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS this evening, and I saw that Colin Powell was in the audience. I couldn't help wondering if he felt any regrets about his testimony to the UN as he heard stories like these. Then I wondered if President Bush was watching, and I imagined a news story I'd love to see:

President Resigns, Cites "Remorse"
Cheney Also Quits, Hastert Becomes President

Washington -- Tonight, George W. Bush announced via press release that he was resigning as President of the United States. The release stated that he had been watching Memorial Day events and was suddenly overcome with grief. It stated that his faith had been "badly shaken" by the heartbreaking stories he'd heard from widows of veterans, and that he recognized that the entire Iraq invasion had been a "misadventure." The release went on to say that Vice President Cheney was also resigning, as he recognized that he'd been the principal architect of the war.

The full text of the press release was unavailable at press time. More to follow.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

May 29, 2005

Enough already

Anyone been to a major league baseball game this year? I see that the Yankees (at least for Sunday Night Baseball games) are still trotting out a tenor to sing "God Bless America" at the seventh-inning stretch. I haven't noticed that being done in other games I've watched on TV this year, so I'm curious if other ballparks are still doing it, or have they reverted to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game?"

I think it's served its purpose, and we should go back to celebrating hot dogs and cracker jack. Kate Smith was the only one who could sing it well, and anyway, if there's a God, wouldn't he or she have better things to do?

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)

May 28, 2005


I love this. CJR Daily interviewed Tim Golden, who wrote the Afghanistan abuse stories (Part 1, Part 2) in the NYT last week. In the course of it, the interviewer asks about the timing of the articles so closely following the Newsweek kerfuffle:

A few conservative bloggers and pundits have questioned the timing of the series. Glen Reynolds (Instapundit) went as far as suggesting that The New York Times was trying to avert attention from the Newsweek ordeal by running it. What would you say to these critics?

TG: I am reluctant to respond to people who call themselves by names like "Instapundit."


Posted by Linkmeister at 02:53 PM | Comments (2)

This ain't even penny stocks!

This story has been floating around for a while, but it's just now hit the NYT. A Republican fundraiser in Ohio somehow convinced the state's Workers' Compensation Fund to invest $50 million bucks in rare coins, and now some $13 million has gone missing. Putting aside the guy's innocence or guilt for a moment, what in the world was the manager of that fund thinking? As a fiduciary, your job is to ensure the funds in your control are safe and hopefully increasing. Why in the name of Warren Buffett would you invest in a hard asset like coins, which don't earn a dime (sorry) until or unless they're sold? The claim is the coins were bought as a hedge against the vicissitudes of stock and bond ownership. Excuse me? You don't diversify into a non-income producing asset when your funds' income is needed to pay out claims.

"I just can't imagine collectible rare coins being used as an investment," said Gregory Krohm, executive director of a trade association for government agencies that administer workers' compensation programs. "It's hard to make a market for them."

Thank you, Mr. Krohm.

When the six (so far) audits and investigations are complete this may destroy or at least severely damage the Ohio Republican party. After the kind of election they ran in November 2004, that's an outcome devoutly to be wished for.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (3)

May 27, 2005

Media manipulation

Here are a couple of columns discussing the Bush Administration's manipulation of the press. One is from Terry Neal in the WaPo a few days ago; the other is from Eric Alterman in the Nation. Reading those, one might get the feeling we should just sit around and wait for the barbarians.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005

Lost, the Season Finale

I find it unconscionable that the Lost producers left us with no answers, more questions, and not one but several cliffhangers to puzzle over until the new season begins. Where does that shaft lead (I have visions of the film version of Journey to the Center of the Earth)? What's the deal with kidnaping the kid, and who were those guys? Will the now-shipwrecked rafters survive in the water? What about what the proprietors of the Lost Wiki call "Lostzilla?" And the polar bear? The numbers, the numbers...

Infuriated, I am. Is it September yet?

Update: In comments, Pix points us towards this review. Poking around that website, it's apparent the author writes fanfiction; certainly his/her review reveals a knowledge of the craft.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:55 PM | Comments (4)

No, I haven't seen the movie yet

Store Wars.

(from Solonor.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2005

The real population bomb

Now here's a provocative idea:

Taken together, the analyses in this study suggest a recent founding of the New World Amerind-speaking peoples by a small population of effective size near 70, followed by population growth in the New World.


Obviously it's possible; theoretically all you need to establish a population is one breeding pair and an environment which allows that pair and its progeny to survive, but it kind of flies in the face of my idea of a large migration from Asia across a land bridge to North America.

Wait, there's more. The study suggests that the entire population of Asia at the time of the migration was roughly 9,000.

9,000. has a summary of the article. If you want all the nifty tables, though, you'll have to go the main one.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:24 AM | Comments (4)

May 24, 2005

Dem bones, dem bones

Ok, I am still unsure about the filibuster compromise, despite (or perhaps because of) all the material I've read today. So I'll tell a small story instead.

Sunday we celebrated birthdays for both my brother-in-law and his eldest daughter (who also graduates from HS later this week). The menu of choice was pizza and strawberry pie, and the television on view was "Extreme Makeover Home Edition (not my choice).

Tigger was in seventh heaven. She loves my brother-in-law because he roughhouses with her even more than I do, and she also knows that when the family is over she is assured of getting at least one Milk-Bone. Sunday night, however, she was distracted by the soupbone she'd gotten earlier in the day.

So we were watching TV, chatting, and eating, and I saw the beast at the door, wanting to come in from the dark. I walked across the room, opened the screen door, and went back and sat down. I looked up a minute or so later, and there in the middle of the floor was a large black object. Yup. The dog had brought her bone inside and carefully laid it down where she couldn't lose it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)

Nuclear clock stops (for now)

Like Kevin Drum, I'm not sure what to make of this compromise that averts the nuclear option on filibusters for now. On the face of it, Democrats agreed to let up-or-down votes happen for three nominees, none of whom are shining lights of jurisprudence. That seems like a loss. But the reaction from the religious right is such (Gary Bauer calls it a sellout; James Dobson calls it a complete bailout and betrayal) that it may be a victory at least in the Pyrrhic sense. If you want to see the document, here's Page 1, and here's Page 2. If you like hyperbole, Crooks and Liars has a slew of quotes from all sides.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)

May 23, 2005


Yeah, right.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:09 PM | Comments (2)

The Circle Game

No, not the Joni Mitchell song, although I remember it fondly. There are an increasing number of these blog roundups, as I'm sure you've all noticed. One I particular like is The Skeptic's Circle, which aims to be "the place where we praise science and reason, and smirk and mock the gullible and credulous."

Budget lots of time; each item is good.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2005

Saturday Dogblogging

The Huntress.JPG

Suspicious, always suspicious.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2005

CPB, again

Here's another story about Tomlinson and the CPB, this time from the WaPo. There isn't much that's new, except this interesting tidbit: "Service on the CPB board is effectively a voluntary position, with board members' compensation capped at $10,000 a year. Records show that Tomlinson earned $6,112 last year."

It does point out (again) that this guy wears two hats. He's also chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, each of which is a government-sponsored and pro-Administration outlet. In fact, the Board's mission, as stated on its website, is as follows:

The BBG is the new home of all U.S. government and government-sponsored international broadcasting services. The mission of U.S. international broadcasting is to promote the open communication of information and ideas, in support of democracy, and the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information, worldwide.

Since the job of the BBG is essentially overseeing US government broadcasting, it's a little difficult to see how the man could possibly turn off his pro-Administration duties in that job while trying to do the ostensibly neutral CPB one.

Media Matters has a few bones to pick with the Post's article, finding several contradictions within.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Well, it's not like we didn't know

On Arianna's new blog (which I kinda like for its diversity of voices, all the blogsnobs be damned) Catherine Crier tells of this terrifyingly straightforward quote from Pat Buchanan on Crier's TV show Wednesday night:

Buchanan: "Look, ten of the last twelve justices have been appointed by Republicans. Nixon gave us Blackmon, Gerry Ford gave us John Paul Stevens, Reagan gave us Kennedy and O’Connor, and (Bush Sr.) gave us David Souter..."

Crier: "Those aren’t good enough?"

Buchanan: "They have been failures. The battle is over the Supreme Court. (It) has become a judicial dictatorship in this country. It dictates racial policy on quotas, affirmative action. It tells us we must have abortion on demand. It’s now into gay rights. It has become a super legislature. Control of it is more important in the social culture war in America than control of Congress in the United States. That ultimately is what this is all about. The President has got to get those Supreme Court justices…and if that means breaking these ridiculous obstructionist filibusters, he ought to do it."

Crier adds some commentary which is worth reading. She doesn't like Buchanan's plan worth a damn.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2005

American Empire?

I don't like the implications of this:

The most creative analysis is a study that Rumsfeld requested last year from the elite Defense Science Board. Released in December and titled "Transition to and from Hostilities," (pdf) the study is a blueprint for changes across the government that would give the United States the nation-building capability it has too often lacked in Iraq.


At the State Department, there's a new Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization under director Carlos Pascual. It has just 40 people at this stage, but it's beginning to coordinate activities of the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA and the Agency for International Development, so that the chaotic mismanagement of the initial Iraq reconstruction effort isn't repeated.

From the report's Executive Summary:

U.S. military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq are unlikely to be the last such excursions. America’s armed forces are extremely capable of projecting force and achieving conventional military victory. Yet success in achieving U.S. political goals involves not only military success but also success in the stabilization and reconstruction operations that follow hostilities.

So the Bush Administration wants to set up a Colonial Office? It's anticipating a future need elsewhere? In North Korea or Iran, perhaps?

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:32 PM | Comments (3)


I didn't want to be stuck washing dishes while "Lost" was on last night, so I went down to the local food court and picked up some burgers from Carl's Jr. I gotta say, those are some juicy burgers, and who'd have thought a fast-food joint would offer fried zucchini slices with a good creamy dressing?

Has everybody seen Mark Fiore's cartoons?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2005

Must be some really good weed

This site is not a wholly-owned or rented subsidiary of AEI (heaven forbid), but Mr. Orenstein has written yet another blistering rebuttal of the Senate Republicans' and their allies' claims about the filibuster.

Now let us take up the assertion that we have had a two-century-plus tradition of giving presidents up-or-down votes on their judicial nominations. What are these people smoking? For more than 200 years, hundreds of judicial nominees at all levels had their nominations deep-sixed, buried, killed or asphyxiated by the Senate, either by one individual, a committee or a small group of Senators, before the nominations ever got anywhere near the floor. To be sure, most were not filibustered in the "Mr. Smith" sense, or in the modern and direct version. These judicial nominees were stabbed in the back, not in the chest.


Of the 154 nominations to the Supreme Court between 1789 and 2002, 34 were not confirmed. Of these, 11 were rejected by a vote of the full Senate. The remaining 23 were postponed, referred to a committee from which they never emerged, reported from committee but not acted on, or, in a few cases, withdrawn by the president when the going got tough. At least seven nominations were killed because of objections by home-state Senators. Five others were reported to the Judiciary Committee (which was created in 1816) and never made it out.

The trouble is, the Senate Republicans and their acolytes have gotten to the stage where facts are meaningless partisan bludgeons used against the chosen judicial nominees by the mean minority party. What are these people smoking, indeed.

Once again, via Tapped.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

We're a permanent majority

The only honest man I know of at the American Enterprise Institute is Norman Orenstein, and on May 4 he wrote this column for his employer. It's hard to believe that he'd be allowed to publish something which so clearly refutes the conventional wisdom his colleagues keep pushing about the nuclear option, but maybe he slid it down to the webmaster sub rosa.

The Senate is on the verge of meltdown over the nuclear option, an unprecedented step that would shatter 200 years of precedent over rules changes and open up a Pandora’s box of problems in the years ahead. The shaky bipartisanship that holds the Senate together--in a way that is virtually absent in the House--could be erased. Major policy problems could be caught up in the conflict. The Senate itself would never be the same.

Let us put aside for now the puerile arguments over whether judicial filibusters are unprecedented: They clearly, flatly, are not. Instead, let’s look at the means used to achieve the goal of altering Senate procedures to block filibusters on judicial nominations.


To make this happen, the Senate will have to get around the clear rules and precedents, set and regularly reaffirmed over 200 years, that allow debate on questions of constitutional interpretation--debate which itself can be filibustered. It will have to do this in a peremptory fashion, ignoring or overruling the Parliamentarian. And it will establish, beyond question, a new precedent. Namely, that whatever the Senate rules say--regardless of the view held since the Senate’s beginnings that it is a continuing body with continuing rules and precedents--they can be ignored or reversed at any given moment on the whim of the current majority.

There have been times in the past when Senate leaders and presidents have been frustrated by inaction in the Senate and have contemplated action like this. Each time, the leaders and presidents drew back from the precipice. They knew that the short-term gain of breaking minority obstruction would come at the price of enormous long-term damage--turning a deliberative process into something akin to government by the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland."

As you can see, he thinks changing the filibuster rules is a terrible idea. For the record, so do I.

Via Tapped.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 17, 2005


Ah, yes. Tom Burka has the perfect riposte to the Newsweek story.

Bush To Retract War

Cites Protests, Poor Sourcing, Newsweek Debacle as Impetus

George W. Bush retracted the Iraq war today, saying that it had been based on information from an unreliable source and that the original premises for the war were wrong.

The poison pen doesn't stop there.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:52 AM | Comments (3)

Moyers on Tomlinson and the CPB

Bill Moyers spoke at the second National Conference on Media Reform a few days ago. It was his first opportunity to publicly address the goings-on at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here he is on the idiotic "on the one hand, on the other hand" journalism we see so much of:

Objectivity was not satisfied by two opposing people offering competing opinions, leaving the viewer to split the difference. I came to believe that objective journalism means describing the object being reported on, including the little fibs and fantasies, as well as the big lie of people in power.

In no way – in no way does this permit journalists to make accusations and allegations. It means, instead, making sure that your reporting and your conclusions can be nailed to the post with confirming evidence.

This is always hard to do, but it’s never been harder. Without a trace of irony, the powers that be have appropriated the Newspeak vernacular of George Orwell’s 1984. They give us a program vowing no child will be left behind, while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged children; they give us legislation cheerily calling for clear skies and healthy forests that give us neither, while turning over our public lands to the energy industry. In Orwell’s 1984 the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist, Winston, “Don’t you see? Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050 at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we’re having right now. The whole climate of thought,” he said, “will be different. In fact, there will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

Hear me: an unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.

Here he is on CPB:

I thought the current CPB board would like to hear and talk about the importance of standing up to political interference. I was wrong. They wouldn’t meet with me. I tried three times and failed three times, and it was all downhill after that. I was naive, I guess. I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman, Democrat or Republican, would cross the line from resisting White House pressure to carrying out for the White House. But that’s what Kenneth Tomlinson has been doing. On Fox News this week he denied he’s carrying out a White House mandate or that he’s ever had any conversation with any Bush administration official about PBS. But The New York Times reports that he enlisted Karl Rove to help kill a proposal that would have put on the CPB board people with experience in local radio and television.

It was also reported that on the recommendation of administration officials, he hired a White House flack -- I know the genre -- named Mary Catherine Andrews, as a senior staff member at CPB. While she was still reporting to Karl Rove at the White House, she set up CPB’s new ombudsman office and had a hand in hiring the two people who will fill it, one of them who once worked for Tomlinson, the other a very respected journalist. But this is an anomaly. A political organization can’t have an ombudsman. CPB is not a journalistic or newsgathering organization. PBS can have one. WGBH can have one. WNET can have one. But for a political organization to have two ombudsmen or one ombudsman or a dozen? I would like to give Mr. Tomlinson the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t.

The whole thing is worth reading. Twice. Then maybe you should forward the link to the heads of your local public radio and public television stations, asking them to stand firm against the new regime at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I know I'm going to.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2005

Multimedia shows

Without a paper calendar, how does a society measure time? This online exhibit at the Smithsonian shows how the Lakota Sioux did it.

Via Electrolite: What Blogs Are. This is a slideshow discussing content, the FCC and regulation of blogs; it's very informative.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2005

I hate call-in polls

Egad. The Discovery Channel had one of those awful call-in polls selecting the "100 Greatest Americans," and Kevin Drum and his commenters go off on it. I'm not gonna bother (it's being scorned quite well without me piling on), but if you want to be astonished/amused/disturbed, go look at it. Some of the more egregious choices: from Hollywood: Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks; from politics: both Bushes, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani and Barack Obama; from sports: Pat Tillman and Brett Favre.

It's nearly as awful for its omissions as it is for its inclusions. No Frank Lloyd Wright, no William Faulkner, no Dreiser, dos Passos, Harriett Beecher Stowe. No Louis Armstrong, no Duke Ellington, no Coltrane or Miles Davis.


Posted by Linkmeister at 09:10 AM | Comments (3)

May 14, 2005

Why filibuster?

Here's an excellent op/ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from a law professor who's also the immediate past president of the American Society of Law Teachers:

. . .the Senate, with its constitutional mandate to adopt internal rules of procedure, has employed rules and practices over the past 200 years intended to ensure that a dominant political party -- at times the Republicans, at other times the Democrats -- does not run roughshod over the minority party.

One such rule is the right of every senator to filibuster -- that is, the right to hold the Senate floor, talking hour after hour, day after day -- until a significant majority of senators (three-fifths or 60 members), not simply a bare majority, votes to cut him/her off (to invoke cloture). The purpose of the filibuster is to promote bipartisan compromise -- a bulwark against one-party rule, a conservative tool against the forces of extremism. Knowing that what goes around comes around, senators of both political parties have protected this right zealously.

By requiring a supermajority to end a filibuster, the views of a substantial minority cannot be blithely ignored. (And remember that the senators supporting a filibuster, though a minority, could well represent more than one-half of the population of the United States.)

That's really what the "nuclear option" is all about: elimination of the minority voice. If the minority has no voice in the elected body, then the United States as a republic is in serious danger. If your Senator is one of the Republicans on the fence (Susan Collins of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John Warner of Virginia, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Sununu of New Hampshire, as reported by ABC News), I urge you to express your opinion via fax or phone call this week.

Via TalkLeft.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005

New London to lose base?

I don't have a dog in the Base Realignment and Closure fights that are sure to come, but I'll be sorry if the Sub Base New London closes, since I learned to ride my first bicycle there. I do kinda wonder what the plan for the future of the whole submarine Navy might be, since that's the only base where sub training occurs.

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:01 PM | Comments (2)

Why SocSec bamboozlement isn't working

This cleverly titled Business Week article, "I Want My Safety Net", goes a good long way towards explaining why the Bush SocSec plan isn't striking too many chords with people like me. Combine it with the news that UAL just dumped $10B worth of pension obligations onto the back of the already deficit-ridden Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation and the idea of taking on risk in one's retirement planning has very little appeal.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

Hersh on Iraq

Sy Hersh was on Democracy Now Wednesday night, speaking mostly of Iraq. Here are a couple of excerpts.

Speaking of Bush:

He is strange in one way. You know, Wolfowitz, who is nothing, if not smart, would understand this, but Bush is truly a Trotskyite, a believer in permanent revolution. We have never had one as a president before. He wouldn't understand that, but Wolfowitz would. He truly is. And he's doing it -- what he thinks he has to do, the revolutions he has to create, without any information, without any -- without an ability to absorb information that's counter to what he wants to hear.

Speaking of Negroponte:

Negroponte is a true believer. He really supports this administration and Bush. He's totally on the team. Somebody said to me when he was named head of the overall intelligence apparatus by Bush, you know, we all joked that everybody who goes to the White House has to drink the Kool-Aid in order to get there. In other words, you only want to hear from people who believe what you’re -- there's no opposition, no dissent allowed. I mean, there's just no dissent allowed inside. Any dissent is not just honest dissent, it's being a traitor. And somebody said to me, well, he's going to mix the Kool-Aid. That's his job now as head of intelligence. He’s very nice, a very pleasant man, he’s very articulate. And I think what he has done in terms of setting up a covert, off-the-books apparatus and a hunter-killer team, that's what we have now. We’re taking down -- the idea is, I think it’s ungodly in a way, really, what he has done. The idea is right now in Iraq, the goal they have now is they want to go into the various major cities in the Sunni heartland, the four provinces of Iraq that are considered to be pro-Saddam or pro-Ba'athist, and which what 40% of the population reside, around Baghdad. The idea is to go to major cities. They did Fallujah, they're doing Ramadi right now, take it down, make the people of the Sunni heartland more afraid of the American/Iraqi Mukhabarat than they are of the resistance.

The Mukhabarat was Saddam's secret police. Hersh maintains that the new government has reconstituted it with United States blessing. There's plenty more, including Hersh's thoughts on why the King of Jordan would pardon our old friend Chalabi. Since it's a transcript, it's uneven, but it's well worth reading.

Via Corrente.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

The Wild Blue Yonder

Here's confirmation from the Chaplain (Captain Morton) at the US Air Force Academy that proselytization is going on there.

Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, the chief of chaplains for the entire Air Force, screened the R.S.V.P. (Respecting the Spiritual Values of all People) program in October, Captain Morton said, and afterward asked her, "Why is it that the Christians never win?" in response to some of the program's dramatizations of interactions between cadets of different religions.

She said: "It was obvious to us that he had missed the point of the entire presentation here. It wasn't about winning or losing, some kind of cosmic battle, it was about helping our folks at the Air Force Academy understand the wonders of the whole range of religious experiences."

In an interview on Wednesday, General Baldwin acknowledged making that comment and said he had objected because too many scenes in the original program had portrayed Christians at fault for excessive efforts at evangelizing.

"In every scenario, where cadet met cadet in the hall," he said, "every time it was the Christian who had to apologize and say, 'I'm sorry, I wasn't sensitive to your needs.' I said, that's not balanced, and the Christians will turn you off if every time they were the ones who made the mistake."

However, Captain Morton responded in an interview that it was "patently untrue" that all the segments portrayed Christians in error. She says that in most cases there was no religious identifier at all. "And I've got the film to prove it."

Why the hell is a taxpayer-supported institution, particularly one which is supposed to train US military officers, supporting evangelization in the Cadet Corps in the first place?

Update: The chaplain has been fired.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

I can see clearly now

As a result of this visit to the eye doc, I have new glasses. The world no longer looks as though it were covered in vaseline or cheesecloth; it's got sharp edges again. These are the widely-advertised Transition lenses, meaning they're Photogray and they're plastic. They are certainly more lightweight than the glass Photogray ones I've been wearing for seven years. On the other hand, I walked out of the office with dire warnings about how easily scratched they are, so I should be careful. We'll see.

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:06 PM | Comments (4)

Iraq? Oh, yeah, Iraq.

Answering my own question from below, here's a proud journalist. She spent ten months reporting in Iraq, and she's brought back a few lessons:

  • Many journalists in Iraq could not, or would not, check their nationality or their own perspective at the door.
  • Our behavior as journalists has taught us very little. Just as in the lead up to the war in Iraq, questioning our government's decisions and claims and what it seeks to achieve is criticized as unpatriotic.
  • To seek to understand and represent to an American audience the reasons behind the Iraqi opposition is practically treasonous.
  • The gatekeepers -- by which I mean the editors, publishers and business sides of the media -- don't want their paper or their outlet to reveal that compelling narrative of why anyone would oppose the presence of American troops on their soil.
  • What it's like to be afraid of your own country.
She concludes:
We still have the freedom in this country as individuals and as journalists to defend the rights enshrined in the Constitution, to defend the values that we as individuals still hold dear -- so why aren't we doing it? Are we scared? If we're scared, then who will be there to defend those rights and values when it is proposed that they be taken away?

I still believe in that country that I love so dearly, the place I think of when the words "freedom," "opportunity," "liberty," "justice" and "equality" are spoken on lips, but I want it to be a country I see, hear and feel every day, not one that lives in my imagination.

It's time we looked in the mirror and began to take responsibility for what our country looks like, what our country is and how it behaves, rather than acting like victims before we actually are.

Or do I need to start facing the reality that all I love and believe in is simply self-delusion?

This op/ed should be required reading in every newsroom in the country.

Via Atrios.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:26 AM | Comments (1)

Hello? Media? Anyone home?

Remember that memo that was published in the London Sunday Times ten days ago? Have you seen it mentioned in any major US newspaper or on any US television network? Are you wondering why it hasn't surfaced?

So is FAIR.

The New York Times (5/2/05) offered a passing mention, and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05) wrote an editorial about the memo and the Iraq War. A columnist for the Cox News Service (5/8/05) also mentioned the memo, as did Molly Ivins (, 5/10/05). Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that Post readers had complained about the lack of reporting on the memo, but offered no explanation for why the paper virtually ignored the story.

In a brief segment on hot topics in the blogosphere (5/6/05), CNN correspondent Jackie Schechner reported that the memo was receiving attention on various websites, where bloggers were "wondering why it's not getting more coverage in the U.S. media." But acknowledging the lack of coverage hasn't prompted much CNN coverage; the network mentioned the memo in two earlier stories regarding its impact on Blair's political campaign (5/1/05, 5/2/05), and on May 7, a short CNN item reported that 90 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the White House about the memo-- but neglected to mention the possible manipulation of intelligence that was mentioned in the memo and the Democrats' letter.

The article concludes "A May 8 New York Times news article asserted that 'critics who accused the Bush administration of improperly using political influence to shape intelligence assessments have, for the most part, failed to make the charge stick.' It's hard for charges to stick when major media are determined to ignore the evidence behind them. (My emphasis)

Ain't that the truth? What the hell is the matter with our so-proud press?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Identical, fraternal, and "vanishing?"

The other day I mentioned "chimeras," thinking of werewolves and centaurs. Turns out that humans can harbor two types of blood; it's a condition called chimerism. One of the ways chimerism can occur is through blood cells from a "vanishing twin."

20 to 30 percent of pregnancies that start out as twins end up as single babies, with one twin being absorbed by the mother during the first trimester.

Others researchers have found that in some cases, before the twin is absorbed, some of its cells enter the body of the other fetus and remain there for life. The cells can include bone marrow stem cells, the progenitors of blood cells.

Another route to chimerism is through the cells that routinely pass from a mother to fetus and remain there for life.

It's being discussed within the context of the cyclist Tyler Hamilton's recent two-year racing ban by the US Anti-Doping Agency. Interesting stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2005

Healthcare in America

At some point (soon, I hope) we are going to have to go to a universal health care system. We can't keep up this idiocy.

From 2000 to 2004, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the number of Medicaid recipients grew by one-third. This growth coincides with the erosion of employer-sponsored health benefits. As employers have cut back coverage and raised premiums, private insurance has become less available and less affordable to low-wage workers.

I read that GM has to incorporate ~$1,500 per car in order to cover health care for its employees and retirees. It's no wonder the company keeps trying to get out from under. At the same time, people need health care insurance. Have I mentioned that I'm currently paying $289 per month for a 50% co-pay plan for all tests and x-rays, and a separate $29 per month for dental insurance? This cannot go on.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

You go, Mom!


Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)

May 07, 2005

Well, this is an improvement

I wandered up to the local cable TV company's place yesterday, old box and remote in hand. I got a replacement that's HD-capable. After much hooha and a phone call to the service tech, it seems to be working properly, although there are a couple of bugs. Is there a manual for the new box? Why, no. There's an eight-page manual telling you how to run the Setup Wizard. What happens if said Setup Wizard doesn't work? Well, that's why I called the service tech. After fifteen minutes on hold, I finally got a guy who knew what he was doing, but he couldn't understand why the Wiz wouldn't work; thus we have a "sometime between 0800-1630" visit scheduled ten days from now. Wiring/cabling diagrams? Ha! Go online to see the website (which advice I had to give myself, since even that wasn't forthcoming when I picked up the box).

This trend of not supplying printed manuals really annoys me.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:13 PM | Comments (4)

May 06, 2005

Lies all around

We've heard very little about this memo over here, but in the UK it was one of the principal causes for Tony Blair's Labor Party's significant losses in the elections this week (yes, Labor still has a majority, but it looks like they lost 100 seats). The reason? Mistrust of Tony Blair. What caused the UK electorate to decide they no longer trusted him?

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.


The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide) (All bold-face items my emphasis)

Take a look at that date. July 2002. That's long before Powell went to the UN, but it fits well with Andy Card's memorable quote from September of that year: "'From a marketing point of view,' said Andrew H. Card, Jr., the White House chief of staff on the rollout this week of the campaign for a war with Iraq, 'you don't introduce new products in August.'" -- New York Times, September 7, 2002.

This is documented evidence that the President of the United States planned to go to war long before he presented his case to Congress, all the while piously saying he'd wait for the UN inspectors to do their work. If only there were a Democratic House, this might be cause for Articles of Impeachment.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2005

What he said

Ok, I found something to have an opinion about today: this puts the Robertsons, Dobsons, Falwells and the rest in their proper place. This can't be discounted as coming from some lousy atheist or agnostic, either; the author is certainly a practicing Christian and possibly a minister or deacon or something of that nature.

In many times and in many places, Christians have faced persecution because of their faith.

The United States in the early 21st century is not such a time and place. Right now, as you read this, people are suffering imprisonment, disenfranchisement and physical harm because they are Christians. None of these people live in the United States.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)


Here's a time-waster for you: The Fashionable Dictionary. A sample:
Bad, toxic entity, that foolish people use when they ought to use their inner voice, or angels, or intuition, or a gut feeling, or their hearts, or the I Ching.

1. An inconvenient discipline that tends to undermine our most cherished beliefs.
2. A tiny cabal of powerful people who ignore what the majority of humanity believe.
3. A civil religion.

Geeky tricks: How do I control what Windows does at Startup?

You may start hearing the word "chimera" a lot, once stem cell research gets off the ground. So what is it? Think centaurs and werewolves.

When you wrap a package and use scissors on the ribbon, why does it curl?

Opinionated content may resume tomorrow.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:38 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2005

Murder at Calumet Farms


Remember Alydar and Affirmed fighting it out in the 1978 Triple Crown races? Affirmed won all three, mostly by a nose. They were great races, and the loser deserved better than this (via Skippy):

Alydar, Pratt said in his Houston testimony, had to have been killed. He speculated that someone had tied the end of a rope around Alydar's leg and attached the other end of the rope to a truck that could easily have been driven into the stallion barn. The truck then took off, pulling Alydar's leg from underneath him until it snapped.

If that's true, a multi-million dollar insurance policy was behind it. This story has elements of Dick Francis; white collar crime, bribery, violence, and an aging owner of a famous horse-racing farm. If you like a mystery with characters sorely lacking in any redeeming value (except to the Texas banking industry), this is your yarn.

Photo via RacehorseBook.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:09 PM | Comments (4)

May 03, 2005

Arise, ye office workers!

I heard this on Sound and Spirit Sunday. The topic was "Work," and there were some coal-diggin' track-layin' songs, but then this turned up:

WHITE COLLAR HOLLER, by Nigel Russell, Stan Rogers et al

Well, I rise up every morning at a quarter to eight
Some woman who's my wife tells me not to be late
I kiss the kids goodbye, I can't remember their names
And week after week, it's always the same
And it's Ho, boys, can't you code it, and program it right
Nothing ever happens in the life of mine
I'm hauling up the data on the Xerox line
Then it's code in the data, give the keyboard a punch
Then cross-correlate and break for some lunch
Correlate, tabulate, process and screen
Program, printout, regress to the mean
Then it's home again, eat again, watch some TV
Make love to my woman at ten-fifty-three
I dream the same dream when I'm sleeping at night
I'm soaring over hills like an eagle in flight
Someday I'm gonna give up all the buttons and things
I'll punch that time clock till it can't ring
Burn up my necktie and set myself free
Cause no'one's gonna fold, bend or mutilate me.

From LyricSpy.

For an encore, play Johnny Paycheck's Take This Job and Shove It.

But first sing a round of Happy Birthday to Pete Seeger.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2005

Don't blink or you'll miss it

A year ago I went to the ophthalmologist for an eye exam, since I hadn't had one since I got the bifocals back in 1998. After looking through the goggly things, he said that the prescription I had was fine. I could spend $300 for a new pair of glasses, but my eyesight had changed so little that he didn't recommend it. Fine with me.

Come November I went to have my driver's license renewed and was unable to read the numbers in that little kaleidoscopic whatsit well enough, so my license restricts me to cars with right-side mirrors. Ok, I haven't seen a car without those in fifteen years; fine.

But over the past two or three weeks I've noticed that I'm having trouble reading letters clearly through the top half of the glasses (the distance part of the bifocal), so I called the eye clinic today and asked for an appointment. The sooner the better, I said.

"How's 8:45 tomorrow morning?"

Do they keep records for shortest time between the request and the scheduled appointment?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:01 PM | Comments (3)

The War on PBS, Part II

Damn! This clown at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is even more radical than I previously thought. Not only has he appointed "ombudsmen" to oversee the "balance" PBS has, he's hired a former Bush White House lackey to set up those offices.

In March, after she had been hired by the corporation but was still at the White House as director of the Office of Global Communications, Mary Catherine Andrews helped draft the office's guiding principles, set up a Web page and prepare a news release about the appointment of the new ombudsmen, officials said.

Ms. Andrews said she undertook the work at the instruction of top officials at the corporation. "I was careful not to work on this project during office hours during my last days at the White House," she said.

Mr. Tomlinson has also occasionally worked with other White House officials on public broadcasting issues. Last year he enlisted the presidential adviser Karl Rove to help kill a legislative proposal that would change the composition of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's board by requiring the president to fill about half the seats with people who had experience in local radio and television. The proposal was dropped after Mr. Rove and the White House criticized it.

Well now. The reason for Rove and pals not liking that legislative proposal seems obvious: it would preclude them politicizing the Board. Seems like they've succeeded in doing just that.

I have no suggestions for what we can do about this, except get the link to the CPB ombudsmen in your bookmarks; you may have a great need for it in the future.

Via Suburban Guerrilla

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 01, 2005

New television, same content

We got a deal ($549 plus free stand!) on this 27" Sony HDTV, and we hooked it up yesterday. The picture (even before we get the HD Tuner from the cable company) is phenomenal, which I conclude is because the 16:9 aspect ratio is so much better than the 4:3 ratio we've seen forever. The stand is good, but what's better is that it's meant for a corner, so we were able to move it back further, thus reducing the angle I used to have when watching from my chair.

Regrettably, the content of the programming hasn't improved nearly as much as the technical quality of the set.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)