Thursday, November 24, 2005

A bit of Kubla Khan

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree;
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.."
..That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."
--S.T. Coleridge

Quote of the Day

  • From Barcop
    "Some people bake their turkey, lot of people
    fry their turkey, some roast it. Dick Cheney
    plans to have the CIA torture his."
    --David Letterman,

  • Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Iraqi war straw men and neo cons

    From the Daou Report

    Ten Pro-War Fallacies

    Friday's hastily staged congressional vote on withdrawal from Iraq may have been designed to embarrass John Murtha, but the raucous session offered valuable insight into the various rationales for war and the tactics used to attack Democrats who oppose Bush's Iraq policy. A parade of House Republicans went after the Dems and laid out a surprisingly weak case for the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. Here, in my view, are ten of the leading pro-war fallacies...


    The typical framing is: "Democrats got the same intelligence and reached the same conclusion, so blaming Bush for misleading America is purely political." The argument is also presented in 'gotcha' form by people like Sean Hannity, who use a lengthy blind quote about the threat posed by Saddam that turns out to be from Bill Clinton, John Kerry or some other Democrat. The conclusion is that if Bush was lying, they must have been lying too.

    There is a false assumption underlying this argument, namely that Dems received the same intel as Bush (they didn't), but setting that aside, here are two reasons why this is a straw man:

    a) The issue is not whether people believed Saddam had WMD (many did), or whether there was any evidence that he had WMD (there was), it's the fact that Bush and his administration made an absolute, unconditional case with the evidence at hand, brooking no dissent and dismissing doubters inside and outside the government as cowardly or treasonous. That's what "manipulating the intelligence" and "misleading the public" refers to, the knowing exaggeration of the case for war (whether by cherry-picking intel or using defunct intel or by speaking about ambiguous intel in alarming absolutes). As I wrote in this post: "There we were, more than a decade after the first gulf war, two years after 9/11, and Saddam hadn’t attacked us, he hadn’t threatened to attack us. And then suddenly, he was the biggest threat to America. A threat that required a massive invasion. A bigger threat than Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Bin Laden. A HUGE, IMMEDIATE threat. It simply defied belief."

    b) In addition to the fear-mongering described above, the contention that Bush 'misled' the public is not simply about Saddam's WMD, but about the way the administration stormed ahead with their plans and invaded Iraq in the way they did, at the time they did, with the Pollyannaish visions they fed the world, all the while demonizing dissent and smearing their critics.

    In both (a) and (b), the crux of the issue is proportionality. Whether or not Bill Clinton or France or the U.N. believed Saddam was a threat, the administration's apocalyptic words and drastic actions (preemptively invading a sovereign nation) were decidedly out of proportion to the level and immediacy of the threat. THAT is the issue.


    This is often used as a counterpoint to the notion that Bush overhyped the rationale for war. It's a vacuous argument whose logic implies we should invade a half-dozen African countries as well as North Korea, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Every day that goes by that Bush allows these threats to "materialize," he is failing in his duties to protect the American public and should be impeached. And if the pushback is that North Korea and others are being dealt with diplomatically, isn't that exactly the approach this argument purports to refute?

    Furthermore, the war's opponents never claimed they'd prefer to "wait" for threats to materialize. This is another straw man. Nobody wants to wait for threats to materialize; they just want to deal with them differently.


    The Iraq War Resolution (IWR) debate has been flogged to death, so there's no need to fully resurrect it here. Suffice it to say that:

    a) Many elected Democrats did NOT vote in favor of the resolution. Not to mention the millions of rank and filers who marched down the streets of our cities and were largely ignored by the press and brushed off by Bush. So to say, generically, that Democrats "supported the war" or to imply that there was tepid resistance to it, is false.

    b) No matter how many people contest this point, a vote to give Bush authority WAS NOT a vote "for war." Bush also had the authority NOT to invade. Since Republicans are so fond of quoting John Kerry in support of the case for WMD, here are his words on the floor of the Senate the day of the Iraq War Resolution vote.

    "In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

    "If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent''--threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

    "Prime Minister Tony Blair has recognized a similar need to distinguish how we approach this. He has said that he believes we should move in concert with allies, and he has promised his own party that he will not do so otherwise. The administration may not be in the habit of building coalitions, but that is what they need to do. And it is what can be done. If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed.

    "Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances."

    Not exactly an endorsement of Bush's approach or a vote "for war." And a good retort to those who argue that Democrats are "rewriting history."


    To borrow Samuel Johnson's immortal words, this argument, like (false) patriotism, is the "last refuge of scoundrels." Implying that opposing views are treasonous is the surest way to stifle dissent.

    And it's a cheap way to avoid confronting hard questions. Such as: Does anyone seriously believe that Bush's course of action in Iraq has intimidated or deterred the enemy? Doesn't the fact that the insurgency is as strong as ever "embolden" the enemy?

    The sobering truth is that there are dozens of recent events and actions that 'embolden the enemy' far more than advocating a disciplined, phased redeployment. Torture of detainees, the use of white phosphorus as an offensive weapon, the curtailing of civil liberties at home, the shameful abandonment of American citizens in the aftermath of Katrina, the cynical outing of CIA agents, the smearing of war critics as traitors, these are far more encouraging to America's enemies. If we are truly engaged in a clash of civilizations, an epic battle against "Islamofascism," then our enemies are far more interested in the destruction of those things that are quintessentially American and that give us the moral high ground (freedom of speech, adherence to international law, upholding ethical norms and standards, respect for human rights, etc.) than strategic redeployment in Iraq.


    If I learned anything from living in Beirut, it's that predicting the outcome of sectarian divisions in the Middle East is a fool's game. The shifting alliances, the internal pressures, the regional influences, make it next to impossible to say whether or not the removal of American forces would further destabilize Iraq.

    It's also grimly amusing that we're expected to believe the prognostications of the very people who told us we'd be greeted as liberators.

    For every foreign policy expert who says that Iraq will be worse off without U.S. troops, there's another who will tell you the exact opposite is true. In the absence of any sound predictive capabilities, the endgame should be based on the opening: i.e. the sooner you end something that started out wrong and has had terrible consequences, the better.

    For those who counter with the Pottery Barn rule (we broke it we should fix it), the question is: What's the statute of limitations on that rule? What if we can't fix what's broken in Iraq? Is there a point at which we acknowledge we can't fix it and stop trying? Is our attempt to 'fix' Iraq breaking it even further? Also, are there other things we've broken that we're obliged to fix before we try to fix Iraq? Is there a reason our limited resources should go to fixing Iraq and not saving poor, sick, and hungry children in America?

    Go now and read the rest.

    Play: Who will he bomb next

    Hey, my finger's on the button Bucko!

    Bombing Fool

    Memo: Bush wanted Aljazeera bombed

    US President George Bush planned to bomb Arab broadcaster Aljazeera, British newspaper the Daily Mirror has reported, citing a Downing Street memo marked top secret.

    The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals that Blair talked Bush out of launching a military strike on the station, unnamed sources told the daily.

    The transcript of the pair's talks during Blair's 16 April 2004 visit to Washington allegedly shows Bush wanted to attack the satellite channel's headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

    Blair allegedly feared such a strike, in the capital of Qatar, a key Western ally in the Gulf, would spark revenge attacks.

    Bombing Fool

    Thousands Protest

    Undercover protests
    Twenty Thousand Gather at the Gates of Fort Benning
    to Shut Down the SOA
    by Chris Lugo

    On the morning after a record crowd of 16,000 (Columbus Police estimate) attended Saturday’s rally at the gates of Ft. Benning to protest the School of the Americas\Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, an early morning crowd waited with anticipation for an even larger turnout expected at the annual vigil and civil disobedience. About 100 members of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans for Peace marched in chanting an antiwar cadence to open the ceremonies. They were followed by a group from a Buddhist dojo that had been walking from Atlanta to Ft. Benning since Nov. 12.

    At 8:45am the crowds began swelling as the musicians collective opened the day with a round of "No mas No more!" welcoming the protesters, many of whom were bundled up to stay warm on a coolish fall day in central Georgia. The crowd was welcomed by SOA Watch Staff and presented with a list of non-violence guidlines.

    Around 10:00am the crowd was entertained by the Indigo Girls and heard the words of Iraqi war Veteran Rev. Charles McKenzia of RAINBOW/PUSH, SOA Watch Rounder Father Roy Bourgeois and former prisoner Sister Diane Pinchot. It was announced that the crowd size was estimated to be 20,000. Also speaking was Patricia Roberts, mother of Jamaal Addison, first soldier from Georgia killed in Iraq and Sister Helen Prejean.
    Undercover protests

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Kentucky Theater and Hootie

    Saw Hootie and the Blowfish at the Kentucky Theater last night. The Kentucky
    Theater is the old Theater in downtown Lexington KY. Great place for a concert! Small, seats maybe 1,500~2,000. I've liked H&tBF since their first(I think)cd, "Cracked Rear View". I haven't bought any of their music since but Ellen
    bought me their latest, "Looking for Lucky" a few months ago and I've been
    listening to it fairly often. A few weeks ago I saw they were coming to
    the Kentucky. I had to put the tickets on a credit card for the four of us but
    hey it's Hootie at the Kentucky! Can't be to bad so I shelled out the bucks.
    My opinions- the cd's good i'll give it a 3-1/2(= good)on my 5 scale, the show
    was excellent Just REALLY LOUD!
    A good opening by Patrick Davis
    Ellen bought Brittany one of his cds and he signed it for her.
    Great show! They cranked up the volume for Hootie's act, I think my
    hearing is still off and it's not that good to begin with. One of
    the best things was watching people going from fairly straight
    during the opening act and with each beer getting wilder
    and wilder. Dancing in the aisles, screaming, the couple right in
    front of us towards the end of the show were dancing and feeling each
    other up with my daughters right behind them. One guy was just
    strolling down the aisle at first getting he and his buds beers by
    the end he was dancing up it then dancing back down.
    Anyway good show good band, very tight.

    "..saw another fella talking on the TV show
    trying to tell me how to live, and just how I should vote
    says he believes in the sanctity of life,100,000 died
    tell me are you sanctified
    we're all looking for redemption
    but is it for our souls
    you without sin, pickup that stone
    you without sin, pickup that stone
    he's turning it over,to the other side
    turning it over because he can't hide..."
    --The Killing Stone, (from Looking For Lucky)

    Rush Limbaugh milks our troops

    crooks and liars

    Same ol' Rush

    Rush Limbaugh tries to milk the troops
    Talk about lowering the bar. Have you seen this "Adopt a Soldier" program
    Rush has started? You would figure that a program targeted for our troops
    would actually help them in some small way. Maybe the money would go to
    some equipment, supplies or anything the troops could actually use over
    in Iraq that will help them survive. Here's what they get for 49.95:
    "Support our men and women in uniform by giving a subscription to Rush
    24/7 and the Limbaugh Letter to a member of the US Armed Forces. He or
    she will receive unfettered access to Rush 24/7 online as well as
    every big, colorful issue of The Limbaugh Letter "
    Rush is charging 49.95 for a solider to receive his radio broadcast
    and newsletter. Have you ever seen a creepier operation?
    Same ol' Rush

    Found at:

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    "We do not torture"?

    "Well, I guess that settles that. ''We do not torture,'' Bush said Monday.
    Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib.
    Never mind all those torture stories from Guantánamo Bay.
    Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture.
    Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture.
    Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.
    ''We do not torture,'' said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't
    believe Bush, who can you believe?
    --Leonard Pitts Jr.,
    Thanks to

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    One of my Favorites

    One of my favorites this poem runs through my head at times
    especially this time of year. Here 'tis in it's entirety
    Tears Idle Tears

    TEARS, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
    Tears from the depth of some divine despair
    Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
    In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
    And thinking of the days that are no more.

    Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
    That brings our friends up from the underworld,
    Sad as the last which reddens over one
    That sinks with all we love below the verge;
    So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

    Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
    The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
    To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
    The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
    So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

    Dear as remembered kisses after death,
    And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
    On lips that are for others; deep as love,
    Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
    O Death in Life, the days that are no more
    --Alfred Lord Tennyson

    Pillars of creation

    Just gorgeous. Makes me feel small. Everything humankind has seen, done and
    known seems a speck in the cosmos.

    Unto us the Machine is born

    An interesting article by Kevin Kelly
    in today's The Age:

    By 2015 the internet as we know it will be dead, killed by a globe-spanning artificial consciousness, writes founding Wired editor Kevin Kelly.

    THE web continues to evolve from an entity ruled by mass media and mass audiences to one ruled by messy media and messy participation. How far can this frenzy of creativity go? Encouraged by web-enabled sales, 175,000 books were published and more than 30,000 music albums were released in the US last year. At the same time, 14 million blogs were launched worldwide.
    All these numbers are escalating. A simple extrapolation suggests that in the near future everyone alive will (on average) write a song, author a book, make a video, craft a weblog, and code a program. This idea is less outrageous than the notion 150 years ago that some day everyone would write a letter or take a photograph.
    What happens when the data flow is asymmetrical - but in favour of creators? What happens when everyone is uploading far more than they download? If everyone is busy making, altering, mixing and mashing, who will have time to sit back and veg out? Who will be a consumer?
    No one. And that's just fine. A world in which production outpaces consumption should not be sustainable; that's a lesson from economics 101. But online, where many ideas that don't work in theory succeed in practice, the audience increasingly doesn't matter. What matters is the network of social creation, the community of collaborative interaction that futurist Alvin Toffler called prosumption. As with blogging and BitTorrent, prosumers produce and consume at once. The producers are the audience, the act of making is the act of watching, and every link is both a point of departure and a destination.

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Jimmy Carter speaks out in todays LA Times

    This isn't the real America
    By Jimmy Carter, JIMMY CARTER was the 39th president of the United States. His newest book is "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis," published this month by Simon & Schuster.

    IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

    These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

    Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

    At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

    20 Amazing Facts About US voting

    From Falala in the Crooks and Liars comments:
    Via Suburban Guerilla:

    20 Amazing Facts About
    Voting in the USA

    Did you know....
    1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S. evo...2804landes.html

    2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry. 04.htm evo...2804landes.html

    3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

    http:// evo...2804landes.html

    4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." 2...ain632436.shtml S=1647886

    5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines. 03_200.html evo...04fitrakis.html

    6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee. hagel.aspx 000896.php

    7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates. b3689130.htm storie...ew_hagel27.html

    8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes. about.html evo...2804landes.html

    9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters. 05.htm pfindex.html

    10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail. 05.htm default.htm

    11. Diebold is based in Ohio. default.htm

    12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as consultants and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states. ...5,61640,00.html 301469.shtml

    13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for programming the optical scanning software now used in most of the United States. S00191.htm Hackt...voteFAQ.htm#how 8.pdf

    14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years. Hackt...voteFAQ.htm#how 8.pdf

    15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio. 2638.html editions...loc_elexoh.html

    16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here: 0,26...5,63298,00.html

    17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail. 2...ain632436.shtml

    18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates. ...5,65757,00.html Elec...esBushIsOut.htm S00227.htm

    19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother. 7628725.htm 2004Oct29.html

    20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation. Elec...esBushIsOut.htm gov...1,97614,00.html
    http:// 30.htm 110904.html

    Defining "Intelligent Design"

    I came across the perfect explanation of Intelligent

    "The proof of something's existence that we cannot

    explain is explained by fabricating an explanation."

    --American Politics Journal,

    This about sums it up.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Here goes nothing

    Here goes my short(?)record. I've never been very good at diaries, journals or any of that but there are things that I need to do to keep me occupied especially though the winter. If this does the same as my usual winter video game then it will have done it's purpose. Who knows someone else may actually see it to. It will be what interests me, politics, the Liberal version, science, books, music, art and anything else i come up with. Here I'll be sometimes.
    Greetings if you make it. Peace

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