May 31, 2006


Is anyone else guiltily relieved that there's no "Lost" tonight? I need a rest!

My television watching has, for 15 years, been confined to news, sports, and the occasional movie/special. I have had no "appointment" TV that I couldn't painlessly miss. Over the past two seasons that's changed, and I almost (almost!) resent it. The time off will be good for me: I can reconnect with my inner goof-off on Wednesday nights between 8:00 - 9:00 HST.


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May 30, 2006

Blog push

Here's where I mindlessly plug somebody else's blog for no particular reason. NTodd wants to get to 419,067 visitors in time for his blog's third anniversary, and he's about 9,000 visitors short with two weeks to go. So go visit him.

Seriously, he's a wonderful photographer and a snarky writer. Both attributes should be encouraged.

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More on signing statements

Charles Savage of the Boston Globe first wrote about Bush and his signing statements (which essentially say that he'll follow the law he's signing only when he feels like it and only when it doesn't contradict something he wants to do) on April 30 of this year; now he's got a second article about them. He writes that they all come from Cheney's view of expanded presidential authority in the area of national security, which might make a little sense if you believed that Congress couldn't tie a President's hands (I don't believe that), but it wouldn't explain this:

In addition to the torture ban and oversight provisions of the Patriot Act, the laws Bush has claimed the authority to disobey include restrictions against US troops engaging in combat in Colombia, whistle-blower protections for government employees, and safeguards against political interference in taxpayer-funded research.

Scientific research? Whistle-blower protection? What's that got to do with national security?

Welcome to East Germany, with the NSA taking the role of the Stazi.

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May 29, 2006

Honor the dead with lies

Bush at Arlington today:

In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war. We have seen those costs in the war on terror we fight today. These grounds are the final resting place for more than 270 men and women who have given their lives in freedom's cause since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001.

What the hell was reluctant about your Iraq adventure, Mr. Bush? We now know that on that same September 11 your Secretary of Defense was plotting to expand retaliation beyond the terrorists who attacked us that morning.

Lies, lies and more lies. Mr. Bush, you dishonor veterans by speaking those words at the most hallowed cemetery in America.

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May 28, 2006

Sports update

Bonds does it. Danica doesn't.

So concludes today's sports report.

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The Luxor Express

If you've never travelled anywhere except in the "civilized" parts of Europe or the US, read Billmon's account of trying to catch a train from Cairo to Luxor. I've had the bank problems he describes, but never in a place where I couldn't communicate, couldn't read signs which might indicate where a financial institution was, and where I was flat out of cash.

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May 27, 2006

Press as enemy

Why do we insist on revisiting ancient history? Because the same garbage keeps happening over and over again. Because too many people -- journalists, activists, progressive leaders -- downplay the media's failings. Sure, they went overboard with Clinton, they say, but sex sells. But it wasn't just sex, and it wasn't just Clinton. Sure, they were a bit unfair to Al Gore, someone might concede, but he had it coming -- he was stiff and insincere. But it isn't just Al Gore. Sure, too many reporters may have been complicit in the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's smears of John Kerry, but he invited it by speaking openly and honestly about his service. Sure, Howard Dean's "scream" was overplayed, but he had it coming -- it was crazy! Sure, media elites fawn all over Bush, but he's just so likable! And John McCain, too. And Rudy Giuliani. They're all just so real and authentic.

At this point, you'd have to be blind to miss the pattern. Every prominent progressive leader who comes along is openly derided in the media as fake, dishonest, conniving, out-of-the-mainstream, and weak. We simply can't continue to chalk this up to shortcomings on the part of Democratic candidates or their staff and consultants. It's all too clear that this will happen regardless of who the candidate or leader is; regardless of who works for him or her. The smearing of Jack Murtha should prove that to anyone who still doubts it.

Meanwhile, any conservative who comes along is going to be praised for being strong and authentic and likable. Ask yourself: What prominent Republican is routinely portrayed in the media as a phony the way Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton are?

Who's saying those awful things about the 4th Estate? Jamison Foser, that's who. Read what else he's got to say about the David Broders, Chris Matthews, Tim Russerts and Jacob Weisbergs of the world.

Need I say that I agree with him?

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May 26, 2006

Taking the Long Way

Ok. About the new Dixie Chicks album (see below). First, despite the fuss about "Not Ready to Make Nice," the response to their ostracism by corporate country (meaning most of Nashville and all of Clear Channel radio), there are 13 other songs on the CD, and they're all interesting, some more than others. When I play it on the computer, both iTunes and RealPlayer insist that its category should be "country." Well, I disagree. It's more like early Eagles, or like Linda Ronstadt just after "Silver Threads and Golden Needles." It's as much pop rock as it is country. The harmonies are beautiful, and they've got an entire herd of backup singers (listen to "I Hope" and you'll think of the South African a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock or the Staple Singers). One thing I was surprised about: there's a lot more guitar than I anticipated. I guess when I've seen them on tv I've seen the songs where fiddle and banjo were featured. And somebody is playing one heck of a pedal steel on a lot of tracks.

About the single "Not Ready," Emily Robison says, "We wrote it for ourselves, for therapy. Whether or not other people think it was important enough to say, we think it was."

In Time magazine's review (sub. only) there's a wonderful line about the next-to-last song: "the album delivers a knockout, So Hard, the first pop song in memory about infertility (Maguire and Robison conceived by in vitro fertilization) and also the catchiest, most complicated love song on the record." The reviewer also says:

Whether the Dixie Chicks recover their sales luster or not, the choice of single has turned their album release into a referendum. Taking the Long Way's existence is designed to thumb its nose at country's intolerance for ideological hell raising, and buying it or cursing it reveals something about you and your politics--or at least your ability to put a grudge above your listening pleasure. And however you vote, it's tough to deny that by gambling their careers, three Texas women have the biggest balls in American music.

I like it.

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May 25, 2006

Birthday shopping

We have two family birthdays in the last week of May, so today was shopping day. As far as I know, neither they nor their wife/mother reads this, so I think I'm safe in saying that I got a recent slack key CD by Kapono Beamer and the Silva Anniversary comedy album from Frank DeLima, both for my brother-in-law. DeLima is a local comedian who does ethnic humor unflinchingly and with no targets left untouched; he's a riot.

Then I picked up an iPod Nano for Mom to give to my niece (1Gb; she'll just have to delete and download if she wants to vary her choices), and I got her 5 colorful tubes to slip over the widget.

While shopping I selfishly picked up the new Neil Young album "Living with War" and the new Dixie Chicks album "Taking the Long Way." It's interesting; I was shopping at the Navy Exchange, and I found multiple copies of both of these albums with no trouble. Apparently commerce trumps ideology as far as the military's store is concerned.

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Lost, Season 2, Finale

I'm thinking we're being toyed with here.

Spoilers below!

Arctic monitors with a hotline to Desmond's girlfriend? Michael and Walt sailing off on a bearing of 325 degrees? Henry Gale calls his crowd "the good guys?" Eko, Locke and Desmond maybe dead inside the hatch? Sayid, Jin and Sun on Desmond's boat sailing around the island?

Electromagnetic fields? When the producers showed everything blowing there at the end with the light and the sound, I'm willing to bet some one of them had seen the great Cold War film "Fail Safe." When that movie ended with an A-bomb going off over New York, it was depicted with a series of still shots of normal scenes around the city; we saw the same thing here.

Wasn't there an old TV show which came to an end with a "reveal" that the whole thing had been enacted inside a snow globe? If so, did you notice Sawyer's reference to it?

Now we have four or five months of waiting to find out what all that means? Tearing my hair out, I am!

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May 24, 2006

Dead bird in the middle of the yard

I noticed a dead bird in our yard today, so I thought I'd call the State Dep't. of Health to see what I should do about it. Ha. There are three pages of phone numbers. So I went to the 'Net instead. I found a site for dead bird collection, but guess what? DOH doesn't come get the bodies, you gotta take 'em to them. I checked the location page for the one nearest me, dutifully bagged up my bird and took it there.

It didn't inspire a lot of confidence. I walked in with this bag, and the kid behind the table took it, held it out at arm's length and walked away. Meanwhile somebody else got me a form to fill out (name, address, phone, dead or alive bird). But I didn't see how anyone was gonna connect that form to the bag with the bird. Maybe they only get one a day, so it isn't hard to put the two together, but what if they got hundreds?

When I called the collection site the guy at the end of the line said to put it in a ziploc bag. So I went out with a plastic supermarket shopping bag over one hand and an open ziploc bag in the other, picked it up with the shopping bag and placed it in the ziploc bag, sealed it, tossed it in the car and went off to deliver it. Using the shopping bag was the only precaution I took; I was wearing slippers.

I'm not too concerned about catching avian flu or West Nile from that brief and fairly well-covered encounter, but I do wonder what if anything those folks are gonna do with it. For all I know the kid took it out back and threw it in the dumpster.

I can hear it now: Somebody from DOH gets a report at the end of the month with my form attached as backup, and says, "Hey! You turned in a dead bird form, so where's the bird?"

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May 23, 2006

Phishing, graduate level

Now this is innovative. A phishing attempt couched as anti-phishing:

Message for existing BancorpSouth Customers : Phishing Scam Alert!

E-mail messages that look like they come from a financial institution that ask you to update or send them your personal information are “phishing” for you!
Because of this incident we decided to temporarily deactivate all accounts. You will need to re-enroll your BancorpSouth Online profile to gain access to your account.

To Gain Access, click here.

I'll give 'em points for creativity.

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Class warfare

Brad DeLong derides an NYT column in which John Tierney dismisses Al Gore's new film and suggests a carbon tax to solve America's overuse of gasoline. In a comment, "Anne" makes a very good point:

These last years we have watched as the tax system has slanted away from the wealthiest even as the wealthiest have soared in income and additional wealth. We have created a structural deficit with too little revenue through tax breaks to the wealthies, while borrowing to wage a needless war and occupation. The borrowed funds will in time come to be at the expense of the middle class. No matter, the cry is we must have $5 or $10 or whatever price gasoline for the sake of the tax forgiveness for the wealthiest to add to the burden of the middle class to bear the lunacy of Iraq. Yuch.

Yup. Let's tax the lower and middle classes out of existence while maintaining the tax cuts for the rich. They can afford to pay these carbon taxes, while we lesser lights cannot. Apparently an NYT opinion columnist either has or aspires to the same level of wealth that CEOs have.

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May 22, 2006


One of the major anti-immigration organizations is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). It's been around a long time; I've seen their ads in a lot of places and heard their spokespeople often. So who started the outfit? A Paul Ehrlich acolyte. If you were a teenager in the 1970s you might remember Ehrlich. He wrote The Population Bomb, an apocalyptic and highly popular book which postulated that the world was going to run out of food to feed its citizens by end of that decade. Obviously that didn't happen, but its premise infected a Michigan environmentalist named John Tanton.

"FAIR is a big problem," says Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigration activist who runs the Web site, "because its natural constituency is conservative nationalists, but its operatives are basically liberal and centrist and terrified by Pat Buchanan." In fact, in the early days of the organization, the leadership was scared of its own members. The board resisted setting up local chapters for fear of who might show up and kept a tight lid on FAIR’s stationery, afraid some member would get their hands on it and write something "demagogic" that would discredit the group.

Tanton recognized this situation was untenable. Notes from a 1982 FAIR board meeting report that Tanton was "very concerned that FAIR has acquired only 4,000 real members in three years, and believes it is time to change our methods." Crisscrossing the country, Tanton found little interest in his conservation-based arguments for reduced immigration, but kept hearing the same complaint. "'I tell you what pisses me off,'" Tanton recalls people saying. "'It’s going into a ballot box and finding a ballot in a language I can’t read.' So it became clear that the language question had a lot more emotional power than the immigration question."

Tanton tried to persuade FAIR to harness this "emotional power," but the board declined. So in 1983, Tanton sent out a fundraising letter on behalf of a new group he created called U.S. English. Typically, Tanton says, direct mail garners a contribution from around 1 percent of recipients. “The very first mailing we ever did for U.S. English got almost a 10 percent return," he says. "That’s unheard of." John Tanton had discovered the power of the culture war.

The success of U.S. English taught Tanton a crucial lesson. If the immigration restriction movement was to succeed, it would have to be rooted in an emotional appeal to those who felt that their country, their language, their very identity was under assault. "Feelings,"Tanton says in a tone reminiscent of Spock sharing some hard-won insight on human behavior, "trump facts."

They're not as obviously rabid as the Minutemen or some of the other groups (or even some of the House Republicans), but they're a vocal bunch.

Thanks to Digby for the heads-up to the article.

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I got the video blues

Via Avedon, here's a YouTube capture of a helluva supergroup playing "Layla." Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, The Rolling Stones (no Mick), Kenny Jones, Steve Winwood, Ray Cooper. Elapsed time: 6:45.

From the same video source, here's Clapton and band rehearsing "Crossroads" with Bob Dylan. Elapsed time: 4:17.

I admit I'm clueless as to who Kenny Jones and Ray Cooper are. Anybody care to enlighten me?

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May 21, 2006


I'm currently reading Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, by Margaret MacMillan. It's the story of the peace conference after WW I which gave us Iraq and Central Europe's borders, the Treaty of Versailles, and the short-lived League of Nations. I'm only about seven chapters into it, but I've seen an interesting parallel between then and now already.

We've been told that George W. Bush admires Woodrow Wilson as a champion of democracy, and I suppose that's not out of the question. But Wilson (according to MacMillan) was also viewed by his co-peacemakers as a single-minded man, particularly by some of the Brits. She quotes Robert Cecil, one of two British experts on the League, as follows:

"a trifle of a bully, and must be dealt with firmly though with the utmost courtesy and respect -- not a very easy combination to hit off."

It seems Mr. Bush also shares some of Wilson's less admirable characteristics.

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May 20, 2006


This morning has demonstrated that to dogs we humans are at their bark and call.

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May 19, 2006

Support your local blogger

No, no, not me. Solly has new broader channels of distribution for his CD. You can buy it online or you can buy it in "one of over 2400 retail stores in the U.S., Australia, France, Japan, the U.K., Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Italy and Mexico." That's thanks to CD Baby and a deal they've done with something called Super D One-Stop.

This is all another step towards world domination on Sol's part, but what the heck; he can't be any worse than the nitwit we've got in charge now, can he?

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May 18, 2006

Mass transit now

Dammit. Back here I grumbled about replacing a fuel injector for my '97 Geo Metro (with all of 44K on it); now the freakin' driver-side door lock is frozen in the locked position. The last time I had that side's window replaced I asked how much it would cost to replace the lock, since the auto-lock feature didn't work; the quoted price was roughly $300. I said no back then; guess I'll have to bite the bullet this time, unless I want to scramble across the passenger seat, clambering past the transmission shifter every time I get in and out of the car.

One damned thing after another.

Update: It pays to go to the same mechanic repeatedly. I took the car in. They took off the door panel, fiddled for a while, determined that there was nothing wrong with the lock, scraped off a rod, lubricated it, and tested it. Worked like a charm. Then they said, "You've spent a lot of money here; it should be fine now. No charge for this one." Wow!

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Lost, Season 2, "3 Seconds"

Eh. Suborned, blackmailed, whatever.

Spoilers below the break!

Michael's becoming less sympathetic as each episode unfolds (and I never was inclined to like him much). What kind of tests were the Others making Walt take? Why? Clearly they have a woman in charge, but in charge of what? Why do they want Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley? Where was Locke going and why wasn't he up the beach at the funeral? Eko still seems to be following his path from last week's episode, which would be OK if it were understandable. I think Jack was clearly surprised (moved?) at Sawyer's confession that Jack might be the closest thing to a friend Sawyer's got.

One of my biggest questions is: how come nobody (Jack!) has asked how Henry Gale managed to get free of his cell, get a gun, and shoot Ana Lucia, Libby and Michael?

And I'm very proud of Charlie.

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May 17, 2006

A complaint

Dear Procter & Gamble: I understand all about product extensions, but when I have to hunt all over the shelves to find the original brand of Crest in its regular paste format, I think you should reconsider.

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Ego ergo sum

The Truth Laid Bear has reconfigured the blogosphere ecosystem, with new and interesting graphics. If you're curious about your standing (I was. I'm a Flappy Bird.), check it out. Once you find your blog using the search, click the "details" link.

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May 16, 2006


One can crabmeat, drained (or use the imitation stuff; what with the sauce, you probably won't notice the difference)
One package McCormack or Knorr Hollandaise Sauce mix
One English muffin, split
Two eggs, beaten

Follow the directions on the sauce mix; use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water if you like your sauce thick
Whip the eggs and scramble them, toasting the muffins at the same time
Place the crabmeat onto the muffins
Pour the sauce over the muffins
Serve the eggs on the side

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May 15, 2006

Government by economics

Why is it that our government always focuses on the supply side of problems rather than the demand side? We see it in the drug war, where we try to interdict drugs at the borders. We see it on immigration, where some Republicans want to put fences up to keep people out. And we see it in our oil and gas problem, where we want to drill more.

None of that seems to work, so why not focus on demand? Try to reduce the appeal of drugs. Try to reduce the demand for cheap labor in the US while helping to improve the economies of the countries from which the immigrants come so they have no need to come here. And try to reduce the demand for gasoline by developing alternatives to the stuff.

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You're talkin' to who?

ABC reports that it's been warned that its reporters' phones are likely being tapped:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

Do I need to say anything about the implications this has for a free press? No, I thought not.

Update: The FBI admits it's doing this.

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May 14, 2006

Mother's Day 2006

I trust everyone called his or her mother today to wish her a Happy Mom's Day. I remember when I was a kid once or twice I'd ask "when is Kid's Day?" and be told "Every day is Kid's day." Looking back on it, I'd have to agree.

With that in mind, then, I trust everyone also wished his or her designated phone listener a Happy Snoopers Day.

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May 13, 2006

Best terrorist hunting trick ever

Today on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me Paula Poundstone suggested that the easiest way to find terrorists was to watch which citizens switched their phone service to QWEST.

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May 12, 2006

Reading material

Here's a kind of meta-review of recent books about the Bush Administration from the NYT. I own a couple and have read others; some have not yet been published. The Times reviewer's conclusion: most are critical, and only a couple are from the true believers (Fred Barnes and Ari Fleischer; what a surprise!).

The full list is below:

"The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq," by George Packer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2005)

"The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right," by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon (Times Books; 2005)

"Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq," by Larry Diamond (Times Books; 2005)

"The Right Man: An Inside Account of the Bush White House," by David Frum (Random House Trade Paperbacks; 2005)

"Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush," by Fred Barnes (Crown Forum; 2006)

"America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy," by Francis Fukuyama (Yale University Press; 2006)

"Against All Enemies:Inside America's War on Terror," by Richard A. Clarke (Free Press; 2004)

"State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration," by James Risen (Free Press; 2006)

"Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib," by Seymour M. Hersh (HarperCollins; 2004)

"Plan of Attack," by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster; 2004)

"My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope," by L. Paul Bremer III with Malcolm McConnell (Simon & Schuster; 2006)

"Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq"

by Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor (Pantheon; 2006)

"Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," by Bruce Bartlett

"The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill," by Ron Suskind (Simon & Schuster; 2004)

"The President’s Counselor: The Rise to Power of Alberto Gonzales," by Bill Minutaglio (Rayo; July 1, 2006)

"Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House"

by Ari Fleischer (William Morrow; 2005)

"The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast" by Douglas Brinkley (William Morrow; 2006)

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Fiercely protected, except when not

Bush, yesterday:

Bush said in his remarks Thursday that "the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval" and that "the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities."

Now George. We all know you've ignored getting court approvals before. When the NSA wiretapping scheme first surfaced in December your boys claimed that waiting for the FISA court to approve your wiretaps would take too long, so that little legal nicety was bypassed. Why should we believe you'd be more punctilious about getting that approval this time?

I repeat what I said back here: Article 2 of the five articles of impeachment against Nixon had to do with the unlawful wiretapping of American citizens. It should be resurrected and brought up to date.

I honestly do not understand how so many Republicans (Hatch, Cornyn, Sessions, I'm talkin' to you) can blithely blow off all the transgressions of this Administration. I can only conclude that the power their party currently holds is more important to them than their country is.

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May 11, 2006

"I can hear you"

satellite.jpgUSA Today:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime.

Ah, but there's nothing wrong with that, says President-for-Life GWB.

Making a hastily scheduled appearance in the White House, Mr. Bush did not directly address the collection of phone records, except to say that "new claims" had been raised about surveillance. He said all intelligence work was conducted "within the law" and that domestic conversations were not listened to without a court warrant.

"The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities," he said. "Our efforts are focused on Al Qaeda and their known associates."

Who knew there were tens of millions of Americans associated with Al-Qaeda?

The man has concluded that he's beyond the reach of law, no matter what he says about this being within it.

Update: By the way, we'll block any investigation (even by the Justice Department itself) of this process, simply by denying clearances.

An investigation by the Justice Department ethics office into the conduct of department lawyers who approved the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program has been closed because investigators were denied security clearances, according to a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday.

What country is this again?

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Lost, Season 2, "?"

Yes indeed, an appropriate title for this episode. It left me with more questions than answers (again). I was certain that Michael would have to murder Libby somehow,


but no need. She did try pretty hard to put the finger on him, though.

It's very odd that Eko and his brother would appear in Locke's dream; the rest of this episode was played fairly straight, it seemed to me.

The copyright date on the Dharma Foundation tape found in the second hatch was 1980. I wonder if that means anything. And there was another ad from the HansoFoundation, with a new website: (Clever misspelling, guys.)

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May 10, 2006

Ahmadinejad's letter

You know, if you take out the anti-Israel hostility found on pages 2-3, after reading this (pdf) I could see many parts of it appearing on the op/ed pages of an American newspaper from a Middle Eastern contributor. I particularly like this section, knowing how anti-science the Bush Administration is:

Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific R&D one of the basic rights of nations.
You are familiar with history. Aside from the Middle Ages, in what other point in history has scientific and technical progress been a crime? Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilised for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether? If such a supposition is true, then all scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. must be opposed.

Then there's this bit:

Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. What was the result? I have no doubt that telling lies is reprehensible in any culture, and you do not like to be lied to.

Well, except for that last phrase, he's got that right. Lies were indeed told. Mr. Bush doesn't like to be told the truth, though, when it conflicts with his preconceived notions.

It's an interesting letter. I'd recommend reading it.

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Self-centered? Us?

Yessiree Bob, I was elected to Congress to get re-elected! Do the country's business? Nah, that's so 18th century! From the Boston Globe:

The House and Senate agendas are packed with bills that, even supporters concede, have no chance of passing but that social and fiscal conservatives clamor for, like constitutional amendments banning flag-burning and gay marriage. By bringing them up, Republicans hope to inspire a constituency that has fractured in its support for President Bush and the party. They also hope to cast Democrats as obstructionists by drawing their plentiful "no" votes.
Is it any wonder Congress is not well-looked-upon? God forbid it should do something meaningful, like exercise oversight of various less-than-virtuous activities the Administration has undertaken (Guantanamo? Torture? War profiteering?). These clowns don't deserve to be re-elected as city councilmen, much less Congressfolk.

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May 09, 2006

Anything Dad can do, I can do better

From the NYT:

Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating hit another new low, 31 percent, tying the low point of his father, George H. W. Bush, in July 1992, four months before the elder Mr. Bush lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton. That is the third lowest approval rating of any president in 50 years; only Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter were viewed less favorably.

Just a little more of a drop, Dubya, and you'll have managed one more thing your Daddy didn't do!

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May 08, 2006

I too am annoyed

From the inbox:

I work with the Private Banking Division
At Berkeley Bank Limited, London.

Forgive my indignation if this message comes to you as a
surprise and may offend you for contacting you without
your prior consent and writing through this channel.

I got your contact from world wide communication database
We are conducting a standard process investigation in relation to matters involving a client who shares the same name as yours (Kessler)and also the circumstances surrounding investments made by this client at our bank.

You're forgiven, but I think you're misusing the word "indignation."

Oh, and for the record, you've misaddressed this as well; my name is not Kessler.

Other than that, I'll take this matter under advisement.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006


Please lose the reverential tone your announcers and broadcasters adopt when discussing Barry Bonds. While "innocent til proven guilty" is the law of the land, the preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that the man has, shall we say, artificially enhanced his natural-born ability to hit baseballs far and wide. Even though a reasonable doubt that he's done so could be dredged up if one were to grasp at straws, there's no need to perpetuate the idea that he magically became a home-run hitting machine at an age when most players' skills are diminishing rather than increasing.

Perhaps a little more objectivity is in order.

Yours faithfully in viewership,

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 06, 2006


Ace comb
Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
The next time you hear Ben Bernanke or any other member of the Fed tell you inflation is under control, tell him to go to Safeway and buy a new pocket comb.

That's an ACE comb in basic black; no frills, nothin' fancy. You've seen hundreds of 'em. Today's price? $1.59.
Posted by Linkmeister at 04:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2006

Four Dead in Ohio


Thirty-six years ago yesterday four students were shot dead by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State. I don't have precise memories of that day, but I certainly have memories of the trip back to Guam via Air Force transport jet a couple of weeks later. At the time, if you were a college student and your family was stationed overseas, you were allowed to fly space available to and from the college you were attending back to the place your parents lived. I was attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. At the end of the spring semester I flew to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Ca. north of San Francisco to wait for a seat on a plane to Guam. There were a lot of other college students doing the same thing; many of them had had their campuses shut down in the wake of the Kent State shootings.

Many many stories were told around cafeteria tables that weekend; what I remember is disbelief. You have to remember that we were all military kids, stuck on a military base, waiting for a military flight. We were collectively a lot less radicalized than the students who had been demonstrating against the presence of ROTC on their campuses, against the Vietnam War, and for free speech. Still, we were all shocked and subdued. The US military (the one we'd grown up around!) had fired on and killed kids just like us, for no more than making a loud statement of disapproval about US government policy. If you don't want to read Michener's contemporaneous book, read the three blog entries below for a sense of the events of that week. There may be a part 4 upcoming; if it shows up I'll post a link.

Updated with additional links

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Here's the story behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo:

On May 4th, 1970, John Filo was a young undergraduate working in the Kent State photo lab. He decided to take a break, and went outside to see students milling in the parking lot. Over the weekend, following the burning of the ROTC building, thousands of students had moved back and forth from the commons area near to the hill in front of Taylor Hall, demonstrating and calling to an end to the war in Vietnam. John decided to get his camera, and see if he could get an interesting picture. He saw one student waving a black flag on the hillside, with the National Guard in the background. He shot the photograph, and feeling that he now had recorded the moment, wandered to the parking lot, where a lot of the students had gathered. Suddenly, G company of the Ohio National Guard opened fire. John thought they were shooting blanks, and started to take pictures.

A second later, he saw Mary Vecchio crying over the body of one the students who had just been killed. He took the picture.

A few hours later, he started to transmit the pictures he had taken to the Associated Press from a small newspaper in Pennsylvania.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Goss out

Porter Goss is announcing his resignation from his post as Director of Central Intelligence on CNN right now.

Good. He's driven career people away, filled the place with former House staffers, and generally tried to make it another arm of the Bush White House rather than the independent agency it should be.

AP story here. Choice quote:

Said Goss: "I would like to report to you that the agency (CIA) is back on a very even keel and sailing well."

Right. That's why some of your top people have left the Agency and others have put principle above career by communicating with the press about actions they felt were possibly illegal.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 04, 2006

Lost, Season 2, "Two for the Road"

Well, that was a surprise.

If anyone comments, there may be spoilers, so don't read them unless you've seen it already.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006

Life sentence for Moussaoui

I think the jury made the right decision in the Moussaoui case. Seems to me the government didn't prove that he was directly involved in 9/11, and expressing a desire that Americans die isn't sufficient in my mind to put him to death. I'm sure the jury also had a few qualms about creating another martyr for radical Islam to rally round.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oh, neat

From Boing Boing, EcoGeek's wooden computer cases and peripherals.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Katrina revisited

Sports Illustrated's Peter King on New Orleans, which he visited last week:

I can't help but think that if this were Los Angeles or New York, that 500 percent more money -- and concern -- would have flooded into this place. And I can't help but think that if the idiots who let the levees down here go to seed had simply been doing their jobs, we'd never have been in this mess in the first place -- in New Orleans, at least. Other than former FEMA director Michael Brown, are you telling me that no others are paying for this with their jobs? Whatever happened to responsibility?

Am I ticked off? Damn right I'm ticked off. If you're breathing, you should be morally outraged. Katrina fatigue? Hah! More Katrina news! Give me more! Give it to me every day on the front page! Every day until Washington realizes there's a disaster here every bit as urgent as anything happening in this world today -- fighting terrorism, combating the nuclear threat in Iran. I'm not in any way a political animal, but all you have to be is an occasionally thinking American to be sickened by the conditions I saw.

And guess what? FEMA's closing its office there. Apparently New Orleans (which has a very small tax base at the moment) asked for help funding planners, but never got the cash. FEMA now says:

"It appears the mayor's office misunderstood the commitment made: While FEMA is committed to the long-term recovery of the Gulf Coast region, providing funding for planning does not fall under the federal guidelines of public assistance," Walker said.

You'd think that when a major American city was virtually leveled by a natural disaster the spitting matches over funding would fall by the wayside. In George Bush's government, that's not the case.

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

May 02, 2006

Outrage fatigue?

I'm trying to summon up outrage in order to write about it, but there are so many potential topics that I can't decide which one irks me most.

I think I'll just grumble about our weather not producing enough sunny days recently to fully heat the water flowing through our solar panel's pipes. Shaving with cold water reminds me of the Navy, specifically boot camp. That was the most unpleasant nine weeks of my life, not so much because it was physically demanding, but because I had had three years of living on my own before I went there, unlike my fellow-sufferers, and so it all seemed a little silly. March just so! Hold that (unloaded) rifle this way! Fold those boxer shorts in quarters! Place those clothes into your locker in this order!

The whole goal of boot camp is to break down individuality and build the concept of a group working as a unit. Maybe it succeeded in that goal professionally, but as far as personally goes, I've never spoken to any of the forty people in my company again and have no desire to do so. I don't even think about them, except when my shower's cold.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 01, 2006

Don't eat the immigrants!

You know, if all these nativist types really had the courage of their convictions, they'd swear off eating anything but corn, squash and beans. Those are about the only foods indigenous to North America. Every other item you find on an American menu was introduced from somewhere else. Tacos and burritos are obvious, as are curries and chow mein. But don't you dare eat a hamburger, a sandwich, or even chicken; none of those originated here. All those dishes were (gasp!) immigrants!

In conjunction with today's "Day without Immigrants," then, I propose we serve only creamed corn, puréed squash and beans (not Portuguese or refried, either!) to all those who don't quite understand the nature of immigration to this country.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Law and Irony

SusanG at Kos finds it ironic that GWB would declare today "Law Day USA" only one day after a story appears in the Boston Globe informing the reader that Bush has made 750 (!) explicit signing statements in which he says he'll ignore laws as written by Congress.

Glenn Greenwald has some thoughts about this complete disregard for the checks and balances written into the Constitution.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack