June 30, 2005

Killer algae eater

(Click to enlarge)

Monday I got one of these to go into our fish tank. If you look closely at the enlarged photo, you'll see the back of the tank was starting to get an algae buildup. This guy has been in there for a couple of days, and the glass is absolutely clean. Amazing, but now I'm worried. Do we generate enough algae to keep him alive? He's also one of the most active fish I've ever seen; he continuously makes vertical passes up and down the tank. Now I have to figure out what sort of fish can live with him; his "sociability" seems to be fairly low, judging from that link. Neon tetras, maybe?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:55 AM | Comments (4)

June 29, 2005

War of the Worlds

Roxanne of Rox Populi has compiled a wondrous set of links pertaining to HG Wells' classic novel, none of which have anything to do with Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes.

I used to have a copy of the Mercury Theatre script; it was used as a text in a Social Psychology course I took. Among those links is a Real Audio recording of the show. The one you really should click if you don't visit any of the others is the one to cover art for all the various printings, from 1898 to present.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:47 PM | Comments (2)

A new word!

I am a nascent impeachmentist. (Scroll to questions 4 & 17.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:19 AM | Comments (3)

Bush speech: Go Forward, Move Ahead

From the NYT.

The questions now are how many more times over how many years he might have to deliver the same message of patience and resolve - and whether the American public, confronted with a mounting death toll, an open-ended military commitment, lack of support from allies and a growing price tag, will accept it.

There's an old song I remember:

How many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

--- Bob Dylan

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

June 28, 2005

Kanga-thon

Everybody go visit Skippy; he's on a hunt for a million hits by his third blogiversary, and he's within striking distance.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:20 PM | Comments (2)

Fun with Google

Here's some useful info: many of the most popular Google search tools, all on one page. Got your laptop with you on a road trip? Type weather Carlsbad NM. That will get you weather in the requested location. Want a phone number for Disney in California? Type phonebook: Disney CA.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Plumber wanted?

This qualifies as one of the weirder spam messages I've received:

Some of my clients are searching online for a reputable plumber. My job is to find one company to work with. I'd like to discuss an arrangement with your firm.

I seek one company to handle my clients' specific city-by-city or
nationwide needs.

Um, last I knew, phone directories were still useful for things other than doorstops. Who's ever heard of a national plumbing company, except maybe Roto-Rooter?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

Mudville

Misery is a 2-11 road trip.

Anybody seen any hitters anywhere?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2005

Yum

So is this overly cute, or just clever? Today's mail brought one of those advertising brochures we all get for local restaurants and stores, and on the back of the thing was an ad for an Italian restaurant called -- Riga Tony's.

(It suddenly occurs to me that although it is in fact Italian, it could equally be Latvian without changing the name.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:12 AM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2005

Bow to Google

Back here I wrote a tribute to teachers, including one in particular. Lo and behold, he Googled his name, found that post, and wrote me a note of thanks.

Do we really appreciate how amazing this whole "Internet" thing is?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:24 PM | Comments (2)

June 23, 2005

In the interest of science...

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Found over at Shelley's place.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)

What's your is mine

I'm no lawyer, but it sure seems to me that the Supreme Court decided incorrectly when it said that cities can take private property to give it to other private interests, even if the new private interests offer higher tax revenue to the city. Taking it for a road, a dam, or some other public use, Ok, but just on the hope that a developer will build a profitable enterprise which will pay more taxes? That just strikes me as wrong, and it also opens the gates for corruption. What's to prevent a developer from bribing city councils to vote his way?

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

June 22, 2005

SWM Seeks work

I need a new client or two. I do market research, provide background info on competition, investigate SEC reports, and subscribe to industry-specific newsletters and journals and pull pertinent data from them. Anybody know any startups who need that kind of work?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:33 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2005

Insularity

Back on December 3 of last year I wrote a little bit about Patrick Henry College, which is a non-denominational Christian college and de facto training ground for conservative pols and staff workers. The New Yorker has an article which goes into much more detail than did the one I'd read back then. This paragraph should tell you something:

Of the school’s sixty-one graduates through the class of 2004, two have jobs in the White House; six are on the staffs of conservative members of Congress; eight are in federal agencies; and one helps Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, and his wife, Karen, homeschool their six children. Two are at the F.B.I., and another worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq. Last year, the college began offering a major in strategic intelligence; the students learn the history of covert operations and take internships that allow them to graduate with a security clearance.

Well, that doesn't sound too bad, does it? Kids go to college, get jobs in Washington, what's the harm? But then there's this about the curriculum:

Still, when students enroll at Patrick Henry, they sign a ten-part statement of faith, agreeing that, among other things, Hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity." The curriculum for the first two years follows a "Christian Classical" model -— basically, Western Civ from a Biblical perspective. Students read Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, Locke, Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Beckett. They also study Euclidean geometry and biology; the school uses a standard science textbook, but the professor, Jennifer Gruenke, who also has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, tells students that the earth was created in a week.

I kinda wonder what these kids are gonna be like when they get out into the real world and discover that, unlike the people they've been hanging out with for four years, there's a lot of diversity of opinion floating around. 'Course, if they go to work on a Republican Congressional staff or at Heritage, AEI or one of the others, maybe they won't have to encounter any of that. Pity.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Lies and the lying liars...

I was gonna write about our friend Ken Tomlinson, his attempts to politicize CPB, PBS and NPR and the new information which has just come to light, but Media Matters beat me to it.

...newly released email messages prove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), "extensively consulted a White House official shortly before she joined the corporation about creating an ombudsman's office." This new evidence directly contradicts Tomlinson's repeated denials that he had any contact with White House officials regarding public broadcasting.

Read 'em both. Then help me with this question: I can't decide whether lying is a prerequisite for working with Bush and his people, or whether working with them causes one to lie. What do you think?

Update: The guy Tomlinson used to "monitor" Now with Bill Moyers turns out to be less than objective; he's a former employee of something called the National Journalism Center.

Until last year, Mr. Mann worked at the National Journalism Center, which for the last few years has been run by the Young America's Foundation. The foundation describes itself on its Web site as "the principal outreach organization of the conservative movement" and as being committed to the ideas of "individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise and traditional values."

So rather than find a neutral observer of the Moyers program, Tomlinson turns to someone likely to have a partisan bias. But there's no agenda here, right?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:52 PM | Comments (4)

Promotion through screwup

In yet another example of failing upward (see Wolfowitz, Bolton, Rice et. al.) here's an interesting news item: General Ricardo Sanchez is up for promotion.

From a March ACLU press release:

...a memo sent by Lt. Gen Sanchez flatly contradicts sworn testimony given by him before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which he denied authorizing highly coercive interrogation methods.

[snip]

The ACLU obtained a physical copy of the memorandum, however, under an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and released a hard copy on Tuesday.

The memorandum, dated September 14, 2003, was signed by Lt. Gen. Sanchez and laid out specific interrogation techniques, modeled on those used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for use by coalition forces in Iraq. These include sleep "management," the inducement of fear at two levels of severity, loud music and sensory agitation, and the use of canine units to "exploit [the] Arab fear of dogs."

During sworn testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. Gen. Sanchez flatly denied approving any such techniques in Iraq, and said that a news article reporting otherwise was false.

As far as I can tell, no investigation of the perjury charge has ever been undertaken.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Father's Day

A pithy parental remark I won't forget:

"You do what you think best; I'm sure you'll do the right thing."

Thanks, Dad, I try.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:44 PM | Comments (4)

June 18, 2005

Retread at the NYT

Oh, for cryin' out loud. Tierney hasn't even been at the NYT for two months, and already he's writing that familiar conservative column about how men are portrayed on television? Recycling this material? Look at the date of the second article. Any plagiarism here? Or did he and the author of that one just get together and discuss what to write?

I just did a google search for "bumbling fathers on tv" (sans quotes) and got 29,000 hits. Here's one. Here's another. Here's a third. Here's probably the most notorious of them all: Kim du Toit's screed of November 3, 2003.

Notice anything about these articles? Right. With the exception of MSNBC, they're all from a conservative viewpoint. This has been a talking point for a long time for that crowd. Men are portrayed as wusses on tv, and it's got to stop!

Of course, the subtext of all these is that it was all much better in the Fifties when Ward Cleaver went off to work every day, June stayed home to clean and cook, and why can't we go back to that?

I wonder if any of these authors has ever asked his mother whether she'd like to go back to that.

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

June 17, 2005

The NABA defense

It was to be expected that one-half of the universe would immediately seize upon Senator Durbin's use of the words "Nazi", "Soviet gulag" and "Pol Pot" at the close of his statement cited below in attempts to discredit what he said. Fred Clark of Slacktivist has a response to that half.

Not As Bad As. The NABA defense is, for what it’s worth, arithmetically accurate. The American prison camps in Guantanamo, Bagram, Afghanistan and elsewhere are, in fact, not as vast or as brutal as Stalin’s gulags. The American camps are also Not As Bad As the contemporary torture facilities that the U.S. occasionally subcontracts in places like Uzbekistan.

But such comparisons are beside the point. The threshhold has been crossed and conventional arithmetic no longer applies. The only relevant and meaningful comparison is between those regimes that countenance torture and those that do not. Once a nation crosses that line any difference between it and other torture regimes is inconsequential in comparison to the difference between it and those nations which have refused to cross that threshhold.

The NABA defense correctly insists that Guantanamo is different in degree from Stalin’s gulag. It is different in degree, but not in kind. And that difference of kind is the only difference that matters. America has entered the wrong category. We have crossed a threshhold.

He's absolutely correct. It's like the old joke about the guy who propositions a woman, offering her a million bucks to sleep with him; if she says maybe, he then offers $50. She responds indignantly "What kind of woman do you think I am?" and he says "We've established that. Now we're haggling over price."

The threshold has been crossed.

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

June 16, 2005

Fawlty Towers

Reagan memorably called America a shining city on the hill. It's being pulled down bit-by-bit, stone by stone. Only the foundation is left, and it's cracking (pdf).

This is what Senator Durbin (D-IL) said on the floor of the US Senate yesterday:

To win the war on terrorism, we must remain true to the principles upon which our country was founded. This Administration’s detention and interrogation policies are placing our troops at risk and making it harder to combat terrorism.

[snip]

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:


On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

This is not the America I grew up in, nor is it one I can be proud of, and the blame lies solely with the current Administration. Yes, we were attacked by maniacs. Yes, they continue to target us. But somehow we managed to go through nearly four years of holding prisoners during World War II without contravening the Geneva Conventions or their predecessors, and the Bush Administration could have done things differently now. I think the policymakers were bent on revenge for 9/11 and didn't care much how the world saw us. We are now reaping what they sowed.

Document via TalkLeft.

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

June 15, 2005

Into the West

If you used to live in the West but no longer do, go at once to see South Knox Bubba's travelogue. He and wife and dog(s?) have been driving from Tennessee to California and back, and he's got photos that make me wish I still lived there (and yes, I know I live in photographer's heaven out here). Here's a recap of all his various blog posts from places as varied as Salt Lake City, Monterey, and Barstow. I am green with envy at that travel. Almost every vacation I've taken since 1987 has been a road trip of some sort, but none were as ambitious as the one he's on.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

Slice and dice

As I was checking receipts v. statement yesterday for my affinity VISA card, I discovered there were a few blank checks in the envelope, which I could instantly use to purchase anything at the usual "low" interest rate. I always shred these things, so I wondered: Who else owns and uses a shredder? I never saw one of these things until 12 years ago or thereabouts; now I have to own one to protect my identity.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:57 AM | Comments (7)

June 13, 2005

Ideology trumps common sense

It takes a consultant to fight malaria. Mosquito nets? Nah, advertising.

...the United States' foreign aid agency is spending 95 percent of the money on consultants and less than 5 percent on mosquito nets, drugs and insecticide spraying to fight the disease.

[snip]

In his testimony before the subcommittee, Dr. Attaran cited an example of what he considered wastefulness: NetMark, a $65 million, seven-year program for "social marketing" of mosquito nets in Africa.

Instead of giving away goods that prevent disease, like mosquito nets, condoms or rehydrating salts, social marketers buy advertising, conduct public education campaigns and create brands, hoping to promote the goods at low prices in the commercial marketplace. The social marketers maintain that poor people value goods more when they pay for them instead of getting them free, and that small entrepreneurs can benefit from the sales. (My emphasis)

I'm not suggesting there's cronyism involved here, because I don't know who runs the social marketing companies. Nonetheless, it seems kinda dumb to force free-market ideas onto countries where the average daily income may be $5 a day or less. We've got people in the US who split pills in half to make them last twice as long because they can't afford to buy them as often as they should, and the average income here is one helluva lot higher than in sub-Saharan Africa or South America.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2005

Patriotism

Rather than "My country right or wrong," here's "My country, when wrong, should be righted."

We have been born into an astonishing country, with astonishing values. And it is our job, as citizens, to help keep [it] alive in whatever small way we can, because, like any inheritance, it can be squandered. And the only thing that will keep it intact is if we, who have been lucky enough to inherit it, try to keep faith with those who bequeathed it to us, and do our best to preserve and enhance it for those who come after us.

Would that I could write so eloquently. Print the whole thing and paste it on your refrigerator. Better yet, print it and mail it or e-mail it to your Congresscritters as a reminder of what they're supposed to be doing in Washington.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:51 PM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2005

Trackbacks temporarily off

I'm tired of the spam, and it's playing havoc with my host. Thus, until we get Spam Lookup installed (it's still in Beta, it appears), I'm turning them off. If you want to ping me, please notify me via E-mail (address under the Linkmeister button on the left).

Update: Never mind. Dumb on my part. I can turn 'em off from this date forward, but there are 1,400 entries which still have them enabled, and I'm not willing to go back and uncheck the box for each of them.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:54 PM | Comments (3)

June 10, 2005

So many books, etc.

Damn. If you want a list of history must-reads as compiled by volunteers, you could do a lot worse than read the suggestions in these comments at Josh Marshall's new TPM Café. Happily for me, I've read about 20% of them, so my budget won't be completely shattered.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

Broadcast News, Public Edition

Our boy Tomlinson of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Broadcast Board of Governors seems to think his mouth is to be used as an insertion point for his foot:

"I have worked in four administrations, and this is the first time there has been no attempt from the White House, the National Security Council, or the State Department to interfere with the programming broadcast by our professional journalists."

Tomlinson's assertion is directly contradicted by rebuttals in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs by Ungar and an anonymous VoA staffer. The staffer notes that over the past several years, some VoA television scripts have been "subject to an unusual level of personal scrutiny and revision by VOA Director Jackson, and before him by former director Robert Reilly, to ensure that they reflected administration views and did not accentuate negatives, but positives in the 'war on terrorism.'"

Here's an upcoming CJR article about VOA, and here's a preview of the Foreign Affairs article.

And here's a story about a leading candidate for the chairman's job at CPB: She just happens to be a former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Nope, there's no attempt to politicize the public airwaves. Move along now.

Update: If politicizing those airwaves is getting you unfavorable ink, you could always stop the funding. I don't think it will happen, but the House wants to try.

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

June 09, 2005

A personal anecdote

Here's a new credit card debt consolidation tactic: "I left you a message and I'm surprised you haven't called me back." Not bad. Instill guilt into the heartless potential customer. I wonder if it works in any measurable way.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

The best Congress money can buy

Discussing corruption in Washington, Elizabeth Drew writes this:

The Republican purge of K Street is a more thorough, ruthless, vindictive, and effective attack on Democratic lobbyists and other Democrats who represent businesses and other organizations than anything Washington has seen before. The Republicans don't simply want to take care of their friends and former aides by getting them high-paying jobs: they want the lobbyists they helped place in these jobs and other corporate representatives to arrange lavish trips for themselves and their wives; to invite them to watch sports events from skyboxes; and, most important, to provide a steady flow of campaign contributions. The former aides become part of their previous employers' power networks. Republican leaders also want to have like-minded people on K Street who can further their ideological goals by helping to formulate their legislative programs, get them passed, and generally circulate their ideas. When I suggested to Grover Norquist, the influential right-wing leader and the leading enforcer of the K Street Project outside Congress, that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, "We don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist Republicans on K Street."

[snip]

In one instance well known among lobbyists, the Ohio Republican Michael Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put pressure on the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual fund companies, to fire its top lobbyist, a Democrat, and hire a Republican to replace her. According to a Washington Post story on February 15, 2003, six sources, both Democratic and Republican, said that members of Oxley's staff told the institute that a pending congressional investigation of mutual fund companies "might ease up if the mutual fund trade group complies with their wishes." It apparently didn't matter to them that House ethics rules prohibit congressmen or their staff "from bestowing benefits on the basis of the recipient's status as a supporter or contributor, or partisan affiliation." A Republican now holds the top job at the Investment Company Institute.

Take note that Mr. Oxley is one-half of the Sarbanes-Oxley tandem which wrote the rules which even now are under attack as too harsh. Based on his behavior as cited above, I wonder what his motives were for cosponsoring the legislation? To soften the rules as much as possible?

If you're already cynical, go read it. If you're an idealist, maybe you shouldn't. Jimmy Stewart wouldn't recognize this Congress.

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

June 08, 2005

A Question for GM

So if you cut the number of employees by 25K, does that mean you have to offer fewer employee discounts? The ones you're now offering to every customer?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)

Same old Mil-Ind Complex

You thought that $500 toilet seat from 20-30 years ago was bad?

"We're No. 1 in the world in military capabilities," said David M. Walker, who runs the Government Accountability Office, the budget overseer for Congress. "But on the business side, the Defense Department gets a D - giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they were a business, they wouldn't be in business."

I'll say. When a C-130 cargo plane costs an inflation-adjusted 500 percent more than it did when it was first built...

All of this is part of generals fighting the last war (yes, that hoary old cliché is still valid). Bigger heavier weapons won't cut it in these counterinsurgency wars we seem to be fighting.

"Today, the United States is spending $500 million apiece for stealth bombers," the group wrote in a 1989 article that appeared in a professional military journal. "A terrorist stealth bomber is a car with a bomb in the trunk--a car that looks like every other car."

Sometimes the Pentagon refuses to learn a damned thing, even when its own people try to teach it. The group mentioned above is composed of several active and retired Army and Marine officers who've been trying for 16 years to explain that tanks, Hummers, and Bradleys are not the right tools for non-conventional warfare. The article is frightening. (It's the Chicago Tribune; I've had no trouble getting to the story, but if you do, try BugMeNot.)

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

June 07, 2005

Listen to us, dammit!

Given the Bush Administration's attitude toward science, I suspect this will go unheeded, but it may put some public pressure on.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences joined 10 other national science academies today in calling on world leaders, particularly those of the G8 countries meeting next month in Scotland, to acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing, to address its causes, and to prepare for its consequences. Sufficient scientific understanding of climate change exists for all nations to identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reductions in net global greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The statement echoes the findings and recommendations of several previous reports by the U.S. National Academies.

News story here.

National Academies statement here.

Addendum: Chris Mooney has written a new book cleverly titled The Republican War On Science which may usefully expand on the topic.

Federal science agencies, once fiercely independent under both Republican and Democratic presidents, are increasingly staffed by political appointees and fringe theorists who know industry lobbyists and evangelical activists far better than they know the science.

This is not unique to the Bush administration, but it is largely a Republican phenomenon, born of a conservative dislike of environmental, health, and safety regulation, and at the extremes, of evolution and legalized abortion. In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney ties together the disparate strands of the attack on science into a compelling and frightening account of our government's increasing unwillingness to distinguish between legitimate research and ideologically driven pseudoscience.

It's available for pre-ordering prior to the publication date in late August/early September.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Beyond amazing

The Charlie Wedemeyer story is the most amazing medical tale I think I've ever heard, and it just keeps going on. Wedemeyer has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS. The average lifespan for a victim of the disease is between two and five years, yet Wedemeyer has been living and surviving with it for 29 years. He was born in Hawai'i, was a football standout in high school, and was a receiver for Michigan State in 1966. He went on to teach math and coach football at Los Gatos High School in California. Then in 1976 he began showing symptoms of the disease and was given only one year to live. He's still alive, all these years later. Sometimes you just shake your head in wonder.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:07 PM | Comments (1)

Theocracy rising

Defenders of Christianity have defeated several amendments offered by Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY attempting to force the Air Force Academy to submit a plan to ensure religious tolerance at the institution. (userid & password: nickels) This comes after news broke that the Academy was espousing Christianity over other religions.

Several Republican lawmakers are using the controversy as an opportunity to air the view that it is Christians whose constitutional free-speech rights are being suppressed in the military. At a recent Armed Services Committee hearing, Rep. John Hostetler, an Indiana Republican, derided the "mythical wall of church-state separation" as he argued that Israel's amendment "would bring the ACLU" and "the very silliness that's been present on... several courts of justice over the last 50 years" into the United States military. Israel's measure, he added, would "quash the religious expression of millions of service personnel."

[snip]

...Republicans remain dead set against any public airing of the Air Force Academy allegations, judging from the May 18 hearing of the Armed Services Committee, at which Israel's measure was killed.

At the hearing, Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, suggested that, contrary to what Israel was reporting about the Air Force Academy, the problem in the military was that some evangelical Christians feel they are "not being promoted" because of their faith, and Christian chaplains say they are not being allowed to conduct prayers referring to Jesus.

[snip]

Israel described the May 18 hearing as "a deeply disturbing event."

"The Republicans [on the Armed Services Committee] just jumped on me," Israel told the Forward. "The people who were coerced were represented as the problem. The people who coerced were represented as the victims."

Rep. Robert Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat on the committee, backed up Israel's account. "It was stunning how this quickly morphed into a discussion of how those of the dominant religion felt they couldn't express their religious views because of political correctness," he said. "It's not a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of constitutional law."

You know, twenty or thirty years ago there was a concern that the Armed Forces might be politicized. It now seems to me that the bigger concern might be that it's evangelized. If I were still a churchgoer, this behavior would cause me to reconsider.

(Hat tip to Skippy.)

Update: Apparently this has spread to Camp Anaconda in Iraq. Here's a letter to Stars and Stripes griping about proselytizing in the freaking mess hall there (scroll to "DFACS not for religion").

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

June 05, 2005

Even if I lived in NYC I couldn't go

I love theater, and watching the Tonys made me wonder how much a ticket would cost, so I went to Broadway.com to see. (Lance wrote about this recently). I thought I'd like to see Spamalot, but it appears to be sold out, even on Wednesday nights. So I thought I'd try Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Fine; I can get a seat on Wednesday the 15th for the paltry sum of $91.25 plus an $18 service charge. That means a single ticket would cost me $109.25.* Hmm. I heard Edward Albee on the News Hour Friday night; he said the first production of that play cost something under $100 thousand back in the early 1950s. The current edition cost $40 million or so.

Who can afford Broadway anymore?

*Yeah, yeah, I know there are discounters, but still.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)

Nobody gets in the way of my war!

In the body of this story detailing more slimy behavior by John Bolton towards a diplomat (the species he'd have to work with if confirmed as UN Ambassador, lest we forget), the Downing Street Memo makes an appearance:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war. (My emphasis)

[snip]

Bolton has been criticized for supposed bullying of junior U.S. officials and for efforts to get them fired. Bustani, a senior official under the U.N. umbrella, says Bolton used a threatening tone with him and "tried to order me around."

The Iraq connection to the OPCW affair comes as fresh evidence surfaces that the Bush administration was intent from early on to pursue military and not diplomatic action against Saddam Hussein's regime.

An official British document, disclosed last month, said Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in April 2002 to join in an eventual U.S. attack on Iraq. Two weeks later, Bustani was ousted, with British help.

So Bolton was actively helping to obstruct any inspections in Iraq which might have shown that there were no WMD. The Bush Administration brooked no opposition to its plan to invade.

A cancer on the Presidency, indeed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2005

Watergate revisited

Like a lot of people, I lived through Watergate. I was 21 when the burglary took place (June 17, 1972), just finishing up Navy basic training in San Diego. At the time, boot camp was 9 weeks of isolation: no television, no radio, no newspapers. The only knowledge the 45-50 people in my company got of the outside world was a single newspaper vending machine on the sidewalk outside the mess hall. Seeing the headline of the San Diego paper through the machine's window was how I learned of the assassination attempt on George Wallace on May 15, 1972. We were shut off from the outside world.

After "graduating" from boot camp I went on to attend 14 weeks of training school, also in San Diego. The Watergate break-in probably didn't make the San Diego paper at all that summer; if it did I didn't know it. In November Nixon was re-elected and I headed off for Japan and two years of active duty. All through 1973 things were happening: Liddy and McCord were convicted, Haldeman and Ehrlichman resigned, and the Senate hearings began. Unfortunately, my only English news sources were the Stars and Stripes newspaper and the Armed Forces Radio Television Service. Neither of those was censored by the military, as far as I know, but neither spent a lot of time or newsprint covering all that was going on.

In August, 1974, Nixon resigned. I had three months left on my tour of active duty. When I got out in November, I went back to school for a semester and then left to take a job on Kwajalein. While on Kwaj I had a lot of time on my hands and a bit of money to spend. I spent some of it on books about Watergate, since I hadn't really understood it completely while I was in the Navy. I feel like I know a fair bit about it, which is why I'm so amused by the bleatings of the Nixon loyalists now. Here's Liddy talking about the newly-revealed Deep Throat: he "violated the ethics of the law enforcement profession," he said to CNN. Gordon Liddy talking about ethics? He's the guy who planned the burglary! Then there's Pat Buchanan: "And so his motivation, I think, is not good. His deeds are dishonorable, if not criminal. And I don‘t know what he thought he was doing for his country." Well, Pat, lemme tell you. He thought Richard Nixon was obstructing justice, which is a crime. And who was he going to go to? Here's an exchange I heard on The News Hour:

BEN BRADLEE: So I'm not absolutely sure, but my feeling is that Mark Felt thought that something was rotten and a crime was being committed and he wanted to do something about it. He couldn't very well go to his boss, who was L. Patrick Gray at that time.

JIM LEHRER: Who was then the new head of the FBI --

BEN BRADLEE: The acting head of the FBI.

JIM LEHRER: Acting head of the FBI.

BEN BRADLEE: He was throwing documents off the bridge in the Potomac River. He couldn't very well go to the attorney general, who was en route to jail.

And in addition, the hearings didn't start till May of 1973, which was also the month that a special prosecutor named Archibald Cox was named to investigate. So who was Felt supposed to go see?

He did a good and important thing, and he had no real choice but to go to the press. So attaboy, W. Mark Felt.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:56 PM | Comments (4)

June 03, 2005

Stop the War

One of the major reasons the American public turned against the Vietnam War was the seemingly never-ending flow of coffins which kept coming back to CONUS. Can someone explain to me why no enterprising reporter/photographer team from one of the Philadelphia papers has camped out at Dover AFB to test the White House policy forbidding news coverage of caskets arriving there?

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:21 PM | Comments (1)

Shingles ain't just on roofs

A new shingles vaccine shows promise. As a former chicken pox victim with the scars to prove it (they're small and virtually unnoticeable except to me), this is good news. The virus which causes chicken pox sits idle for 50 years or so and then bursts out to cause shingles, and that's one painful disease. I hope this works, and if you've ever had the pox, you should hope so too.

It is estimated that more than one million people develop shingles in the United States each year, with both the prevalence and severity of the disease rising as people age. About half the cases each year are in people over 60, so widespread use of the vaccine in that age group could prevent 250,000 cases a year, said Dr. Oxman, an infectious disease specialist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California, San Diego.

The vaccine may be approved by February.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (5)

June 02, 2005

Free!

Tigger got an early release on a promise of good behavior. The doc thinks it may have been a slipped disc, but admits he's not real sure. Whatever, we and she are both glad she's home and moving well.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:30 PM | Comments (3)

June 01, 2005

Hubris (or is it hypocrisy?)

I have to thank Frank Rich for pointing this out. He was on Fresh Air this afternoon and mentioned that Armstrong Williams (yes, the guy who took $240K from the Bush Administration to flack for No Child Left Behind) went off on Ted Koppel and Nightline when the show announced last year that it intended to broadcast the names and faces of all the fallen soldiers up till that point in the Iraq war. Given what we know now about Williams, I find this particularly amusing:

Pitched as a tribute, the episode is little more than a crass attempt to cash in during May sweeps, while stoking anti-war sentiment. "Sweeps week" is the period during which networks set their advertising rates for the year based on viewership shares. By coming up big during "sweeps," "Nightline" figured to honor hundreds of fallen soldiers and make lots of money.

Happily, at least one major broadcaster has refused to air the show. Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns 62 TV stations, has ordered its eight ABC affiliates to drop the episode. In a released statement, Sinclair denounced the Nightline episode as part of a "political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

A crass attempt to cash in? From a guy on the DOE's payroll, taking checks to push one of its policies?

That's just too rich (pun intended).

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:11 PM | Comments (1)

Pooch update

She's walking again, slowly. Whatever it was seems to be wearing off. The doc doesn't seem to know what it might have been. The bad news is that he wants to keep her till Saturday, because he wants to check her reaction to an arthritis pill he had prescribed last month. I gave it to her for three days and then stopped, because she was turning into a quivering mass after taking it. He's never seen that effect before, so he wants to test it.

Can dogs give informed consent?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:58 PM | Comments (4)