Sunday, May 30, 2004

Mission Accomplished

The bad guys chalk up another one...

"May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian security forces stormed a housing compound in the Persian Gulf city of Khobar, freeing hostages held by militants who were surrounded after a shooting spree yesterday, a U.S. embassy spokesman said.

The troops this morning rescued 25 hostages at the Oasis compound, a residential complex for foreign workers, Agence France- Presse reported. Nine of the captives were killed when they tried to escape during the night, the news service said, citing one of the former hostages.

The U.S. embassy in the capital, Riyadh, called on its nationals to leave the country. ``It's the bad guys that choose the time-table,'' embassy spokesman Bob Keith said.

The departure of foreigners would rob Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, of workers it relies on to provide technical and managerial expertise for its oil industry and other businesses."

... when do we get off the oil crack pipe?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The first step: admit you have a problem

Key neo-con takes the first step:

"Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted today what everyone has known for months: The United States underestimated the determination of Saddam Hussein and his intelligence service to resist the occupation in Iraq. Wolfowitz said, “I would say of all the things that were underestimated, the one that almost no one that I know of predicted was to properly estimate the resilience of the regime that had abused this country for 35 years.”
This is an extraordinarily important statement. Wolfowitz is one of the key American strategists. Until Wolfowitz-and by implication Rumsfeld-publicly acknowledged their miscalculation of the regime’s resilience, there was no possibility of a serious adjustment of strategy. That and the admission that the United States did not know how many troops would be required and for how long set the two poles in place for a strategic re-evaluation. Having been wrong about the enemy’s capabilities and intentions, prior strategic estimates are out the window. There is no valid forecast at this point. In the world of strategy, the lack of a forecast on something as basic as troop levels means there must be a comprehensive review. No one can argue any longer that what the United States is doing is working. That opens the door to the inevitable strategic re-evaluation.

While Wolfowitz’s statement finally opens the door to the future, we will permit ourselves one final look at the past. Wolfowitz said that almost no one he knew “properly” estimated the level of resistance. That is certainly true, if by “properly” you mean describing the nature of the guerrilla war"


Monday, May 24, 2004

Warnings ignored, says retired Marine

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned.

"I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

...I'd just like to ask Rummy, "How's that working for ya?"

And now I hear Gen Karpinski has been suspended. Got the word by email. BOHICA, baby

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Hook, Line, & Sinker ?

hooo, boy, anybody got a shot of this twerp sitting in the gallery for the State of the Union? -- musta been '03:

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.

An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."

The Defense Department this week halted payment of $340,000 a month to Chalabi's program. Chalabi had long been the favorite of the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Intelligence sources say Chalabi himself has passed on sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians.,0,7406020,print.story?coll=ny-top-span-headlines


"At a hearing on Capitol Hill, some Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee expressed puzzlement over the latest turn of events regarding Chalabi.

"We support our troops, and we support you gentlemen -- it's your civilian bosses in the Pentagon I'm increasingly worried about," Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said to Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and two other senior officers testifying before the panel. "This seems to be a substantial development in the war, when one of the most highly paid and trusted advisers may have deliberately misled our nation for months and years and some of our officials may have swallowed it hook, line and sinker."

Friday, May 21, 2004

As Cos tells it, we ain't learnt nuthin yet

The Washington Post

May 21, 2004

Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks at a Constitution Hall bash in Washington commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. To everyone's astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he said Monday night. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what?

"And they won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' ...

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he said. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't.' 'Where you is.' ... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. ... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

When Cosby finally concluded, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw came to the podium looking stone-faced. Shaw told the crowd that most people on welfare are not African-American, and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted.

... How's that working for ya?

Since credibility is so scarce on both sides

I'm suffering from sodium overdose with the grains of salt I have to consume. Seven enlisted soldiers thought it might be fun to fuck with the prisoners. Yeah, right. A wedding near the Syrian border was attacked ... or was it a terrorist waystation? A good analysis of the conflicting accounts:

Still, some reports are credible. I had coffee with a local reporter a couple of weeks ago. Her colleague recently back from Iraq had gotten word that their translator and his 4 year-old son had been assassinated in their home a few days after they left. The wife was not home, and has been evacuated to Europe.

We need to (1) train an Iraqi army and (2) get the hell out ASAP. (That first part is optional.)

Monday, May 17, 2004

How you can tell the terrorists are winning

Terrorists are Winning Dept (courtesy of This Is True) ...
#1 The Office of Foreign Assets
Control, the division of the U.S. Treasury Department that has been
tasked with tracking down and freezing the financial assets of
terrorists, has admitted it only has four full-time agents working on
the task. By comparison, it has 21 full-time agents investigating
violations of the U.S.'s economic embargo on Cuba. (AP)

#2 Girl Scout troops in Martin County, Fla.,
decided to have a Mother's Day "scavenger hunt" at the Treasure Coast
Square Mall. Fathers would accompany their daughters and go "window
shopping" for items on the hunt list, marking them off as they spotted
them, and then shop for a nice present for Mom when they were done. At
least 150 father/daughter pairs signed up, but mall management wouldn't
allow the hunt, citing "security" concerns in the post-9/11 world.
"Since Sept. 11, we have looked at our security procedures very
closely," said mall spokeswoman Rachelle Crain. First, "How do we know
they're Girl Scouts?" she said of the uniformed 5- to 18-year-old
girls. But, more importantly, "Our enhanced security prohibits us from
hosting events that allow participants to wander freely around the mall
area." (Stuart News)

Charities May Not Engage in Political Campaign Activities

Much as I would love to see a cardinal or two take one in the shorts for this, the chances of the IRS going after the Catholic Church (or at least after their profits) are just about zero unless Il Papa has Kerry excommunicated ...

Charities May Not Engage in Political Campaign Activities:

IR-2004-59, April 28, 2004
WASHINGTON пїЅ Charities should be careful that their efforts to educate voters comply with the Internal Revenue Code requirements concerning political campaign activities, the tax agency said today in a presidential election-year advisory.
Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Code that are exempt from federal income tax are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Charities, educational institutions and religious organizations, including churches, are among those that are tax-exempt under this code section.
These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fund raising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate. Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3).
Whether an organization is engaging in prohibited political campaign activity depends upon all the facts and circumstances in each case. For example, organizations may sponsor debates or forums to educate voters. If the debate or forum shows a preference for or against a certain candidate, however, it becomes a prohibited activity."

Friday, May 14, 2004

Republican Case for Kerry

Essentially the Republican Case for Kerry is three-fold:

1. FAITH-BASED FISCAL POLICY: Mountainous deficits extended over enough years eventually have long term consequences. Not only do interest rates rise, the payments on the national debt will rise to truly ruinous levels. (Granted this is a shared problem with Congress, but Bush has not shown the slightest understanding of economic fundamentals.)

2. FAITH-BASED FOREIGN POLICY: In two years we managed to piss away in less than two years the largest store of international goodwill ever gifted to a nation. Regardless of whether you see the Iraq War as a worthwhile endeavor, the willful disregard of dissenting voices in the Pentagon and the clear absence of thoughtful planning should tell you that a regime change is needed here.

3. ONE-PARTY RULE: Despite the surge of satisfaction at seeing the Dimmocreeps tossed out on their keisters, we're already seeing the effects of unrestrained GOP rule in terms of budgets (the GOP Congressional budget proposal provides an even bigger deficit than Bush's!), corporate welfare programs like the Medicare drug plan, congressional oversight of the executive branch (which admittedly has improved considerably of late), and court appointments -- given Four More Years, we'll have to deal with 3 more Scalia clones looking down from the bench for THIRTY MORE. That kind of imbalance is inherently dangerous to a pluralistic society.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

None dare speak its name

The prosecutor of the '93 WTC bombinb, Andy McCarthy observes it isn't a War on Terror. "Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a method...You cannot, and you do not, make war on a method. War is made on an identified — and identifiable — enemy.

In the here and now, that enemy is militant Islam"

Not just in Gaza but far beyond the reach of Hamas & Hezbollah, Muslim kids everywhere are being indoctrinated in this madness. McCarthy does not overstate the case when he says "a five-year-old Muslim boy has already gotten a sizable dose of the venom that is found in the madrassas and the Arabic media.

I can assure you that that five-year-old kid does not hate American foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. He does not hate the intractable nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What he hates is Jews. What he hates is Americans. It is in the water he drinks and the air he breathes."

And for whatever reasons, the danger is virtually ignored by our media. It will probably take something worse than 9-11 to wake us up.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Stan Goff: 'Hold on to your humanity: An open letter to GIs in Iraq'

From last November, worth another look ...

Stan Goff: 'Hold on to your humanity: An open letter to GIs in Iraq': "refuse illegal orders, and orders to abuse or attack civilians are illegal. Ordering you to keep silent about these crimes is also illegal.

I can tell you, without fear of legal consequence, that you are never under any obligation to hate Iraqis, you are never under any obligation to give yourself over to racism and nihilism and the thirst to kill for the sake of killing, and you are never under any obligation to let them drive out the last vestiges of your capacity to see and tell the truth to yourself and to the world. You do not owe them your souls."

Rose colored lenses at Merrill

What are these guys smoking?

"We think that policymakers will eventually boost the federal funds rate by 75 basis points to 1.75%. The moves are likely to come in increments of 25 basis points, in our view, and they will probably be "measured" (i.e., they won't occur at successive meetings).
Our work shows that the Fed under Chairman Alan Greenspan has not begun to raise rates until at least one million jobs have been created in a four-month span. The economy is now closing in fast on that metric; 708,000 net jobs were created in the February-April period. If the economy adds 300,000 or so jobs in May, the Fed could pull the tightening trigger at the June meeting and use Greenspan's semiannual testimony before Congress to explain the rate hike and to provide some hints about the future path of tightening.
The report for April showed healthy gains in employment, as well as increases in overall aggregate hours worked (0.3%) and earnings (0.3%). The increase of 288,000 in non-farm jobs for April followed upwardly revised readings of 337,000 for March (a revision of +29,000) and 83,000 (+37,000) for February. Because revisions tend to be pro-cyclical (i.e., if employment is rising, revisions are on the upside, and vice versa), the upward revisions support the case that the labor market is improving.
Because the funds rate tends to rise sharply during Fed tightening cycles, the yield curve tends to flatten. On average, there has been a 50% flattening in the slope of the yield curve (10-year — federal funds). The current spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and the funds rate is about 350 basis points. If an average cycle were to materialize, the slope would be cut to 175 basis points, implying that the 10-year note would end up yielding about 5.25%. "

... I'll put it on the line now: the Fed goes for at least double that meagre 3/4% and the 10-yr tops out over 6% in 2-3 years. Odds anyone?

Monday, May 10, 2004

And we're going to entrust our future to these clowns?

Diebold insider memos reveal the rot:

"Subject: RE: alteration of Audit Log in Access
From: "Ken Clark"
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 09:55:02 -0700
Importance: Normal
Its a tough question, and it has a lot to do with perception. Of course everyone knows
perception is reality.
Right now you can open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That
includes the audit log. This isn't anything new. ... Now, where the perception comes in is that its right now very *easy* to change the
contents. Double click the .mdb file. Even technical wizards at Metamor (or Ciber, or
whatever) can figure that one out."

... and this gem:

Fw: Battery Status & Charging---and too much bull!!
Subject: Fw: Battery Status & Charging---and too much bull!!
From: "Mike"
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 10:57:40 -0500
It does not matter whether we get anything certified or not, if we can't even get the foundation of Global stable.
This company is a mess! We should stop development on all new, and old products and concentrate on
making them stable instead of showing vaporware. Selling a new account will only load more crap on an
already over burdened entity.
Everyone is waiting for Diebold to come and save us. What do you think Diebold will say when they see what a
mess everything is, or more to the point what Global has not shown them, or maybe it will not matter at that time,
Every time I look at the support list there is another sales person or manager screaming we can't go forward
without having to fix this or to fix that. You are taxing the development team beyond what they can handle. This
is not there problem, it is yours.
Elections are not rocket science. Why is it so hard to get things right! I have never been at any other
company that has been so miss managed. I see blame being put on anything that moves.
Communication does not exist! All I here from upper management is "That’s fine, he or she will be removed".
Upper management seems to think they know what is going on. They are to caught up in to much politics, and to
much self importance, to even realize that there are employees watching them, waiting for some direction... We
have allot of bright people in Global, why is it so hard to get things right....
I just received a call from Ingrid, she says she is tired of getting calls from clients asking for help. No one at
Global is giving them the time of day. Ingrid is the only name I will use in this conversation. I have had calls from
other ex-employees stating the same thing.
We have a management team that is so redundant, it is pathetic, and yet we don't have enough employees to get
the work done. Wake up! We keep loosing good people, and yet management does not see this, or more to the
point, "just keep everything going, Diebold is coming and everything will be fine". Bull!!
My views are my views only. If you wish to fire me for speaking the truth, bring it on... or fix this crap. The
employees of this company are watching, waiting to see if you are the leaders that will keep them going, or the
pathetic fools that will drive this company into the ground. I believe Global has great products, great ideas, great
people, just get things right and we will be the best.

... How's that working for ya?

More Cons Getting Restless


Conservatives Restive About Bush Policies
Fresh Initiatives Sought On Iraq, Domestic Issues
By Dana Milbank and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, May 10, 2004
After three years of sweeping actions in both foreign and domestic affairs, the Bush administration is facing complaints from the conservative intelligentsia that it has lost its ability to produce fresh policies.

The centerpiece of President Bush's foreign policy -- the effort to transform Iraq into a peaceful democracy -- has been undermined by a deadly insurrection and broadcast photos of brutality by U.S. prison guards. On the domestic side, conservatives and former administration officials say the White House policy apparatus is moribund, with policies driven by political expediency or ideological pressure rather than by facts and expertise.

Conservatives have become unusually restive. Last Tuesday, columnist George F. Will sharply criticized the administration's Iraq policy, writing: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts." Two days earlier, Robert Kagan, a neoconservative supporter of the Iraq war, wrote: "All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now."

The complaints about Bush's Iraq policy are relatively new, but they are in some ways similar to long-standing criticism about Bush's domestic policies. In a book released earlier this year, former Bush Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill described Bush as "a blind man in a room full of deaf people" and said policymakers put politics before sound policy judgments.

Echoing a criticism leveled by former Bush aide John J. DiIulio Jr., who famously described "Mayberry Machiavellis" running the White House, O'Neill said "the biggest difference" between his time in government in the 1970s and in the Bush administration "is that our group was mostly about evidence and analysis, and Karl [Rove], Dick [Cheney], [Bush communications strategist] Karen [Hughes] and the gang seemed to be mostly about politics."

Michael Franc, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, said the criticism by O'Neill, Will and Kagan has a common thread: a concern that the administration is "using an old playbook" and not coming up with bold enough ideas, whether the subject is entitlement reform or pacifying Iraq. Conservative intellectuals "are saying, 'Don't do things half way,' " he said.

"It's the exhaustion of power," said a veteran of conservative think tanks who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Ideology has confronted reality, and ideology has bent. On the domestic side, it has bent in terms of the expansion of the government embodied in the Medicare prescription-drug law. On the foreign policy side, it has bent because of what has transpired in the last few weeks in Fallujah."

A Bush spokesman quarreled with that notion, saying there has been no let-up in Bush's policymaking. "We are marching ahead," said the spokesman, Trent Duffy, pointing to Bush's plans for community-college-based job training, space exploration and modernizing health records. "He's continuing to push the policies that have made the country better and stronger."

Part of the current perception of policy fatigue in the White House is a reflection of the political calendar: With a presidential election approaching, there is little possibility that the closely split Congress will enact serious legislation this year regardless of what the White House proposes. "It's a combination of how very challenging it is to move anything in the Senate these days, and it is an election year," said one former Bush aide, who like some of the conservatives interviewed for this article declined to be identified to avoid offending the White House.

But conservative policy experts and a number of former Bush administration officials say there are more systemic reasons for the policy sclerosis. For three years, the president pushed policies conceived during his 2000 campaign for the White House, but with most of those ideas either enacted or stalled, policymaking has run out of steam, they said.

Bush has also discouraged the sort of free-wheeling policy debates that characterized previous administrations, and he relies on a top-down management style that has little use for "wonks" in the federal bureaucracy. At the same time, many of the top domestic policy experts in the Bush White House have moved on to other jobs; in many cases they have been replaced by subordinates with much less experience in governing.

Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, said policy ideas typically bubble up from experts deep inside federal agencies, who put together working groups, draft white papers, sell their wares in the marketplace of ideas and hope White House officials act on their suggestions. In this case, ideas are hatched in the White House, for political or ideological reasons, then are thrust on the bureaucracy, "not for analysis, but for sale," Bartlett said.

The result is a White House that has become unimaginative with domestic policy and, in foreign policy, has struggled to develop new policies to adapt to changing circumstances in Iraq, according to several conservatives.

"In Iraq, you don't see the thinking, 'Things have not happened as we had planned. What do we do now?' " said David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, who last week organized a Cato forum entitled "The Triumph of the Hacks?"

Richard W. Rahn, a prominent Republican economist, excoriated the administration's telecommunications, antitrust and international economic policies in a Washington Times column April 30 along similar lines. "From the beginning of the Bush administration, sympathetic, experienced economists have warned its officials about the need to avoid some obvious mistakes," he wrote. "Unfortunately, these warnings have gone unheeded."

In an interview, Rahn said he has grown concerned over what he sees as "a lack of vision and policy consistency" in the Bush administration. "I mean, we knew where [President Ronald] Reagan was heading; at times there were deviations from the path, but we knew what it was all about," he said. In contrast, he said, now "there doesn't seem to be a clear policy vision."

Some attribute the policy lethargy to personnel changes, particularly on the domestic side. For example, three veterans of previous White Houses with lengthy experience in Washington have left their policymaking roles; their successors, though capable, have significantly less policymaking experience.

Joshua B. Bolten, the deputy chief of staff for policy, has been replaced by Harriet Miers, a Texas lawyer and former chairman of the Texas Lottery Commission. Jay Lefkowitz, director of the Domestic Policy Council, has been replaced by Kristen Silverberg, who was a young aide to Bolten. And Lawrence B. Lindsey was replaced as top economic adviser by investment banker Stephen Friedman.

Likewise, John Bridgeland, a former director of the Domestic Policy Council, was replaced as director of Bush's USA Freedom Corps initiative by Desiree Sayle, the former director of correspondence in the White House. And public-policy professor DiIulio was replaced as chief of Bush's "faith-based" initiative by Jim Towey, who had ties to the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Leading experts in welfare and health policy have left the White House and been replaced by less experienced hands.

"It would be fair to say the policy shop is less policy-oriented in its apparatus and more administratively managed," said a Republican with close ties to the White House.

In interviews, former officials of the current and three previous administrations described Bush's domestic policy team as unusually green -- particularly compared with Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove. At the Cato forum last week, former Bush speechwriter David Frum said Rove is "the top hack and the top wonk" in the White House.

"I don't think he should be the most important wonk in the White House," said Bruce Reed, former domestic policy chief to Bill Clinton and author of an article about how policy "wonks" had been bested by political "hacks" in the current White House. "Every White House takes on the enthusiasms and the interests of the president, and most of the time this president seems to take more joy in the politics than in the policy."

Defenders of the Bush policymaking apparatus agree that the volume of policymaking has diminished significantly from 2001 and 2002, when the White House was fighting for passage of policies developed during the presidential campaign, such as tax cuts and education accountability. But they say the cause is outside the administration.

Frum said much of the policy energy has been channeled into fighting terrorism at home and abroad because of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "On the most critical issue of our time, they have been bold, creative, and in some cases, they have shocked the intelligentsia with their assertiveness," he said.

Whatever the cause, conservatives say the remedy to policy malaise won't come until the election. Conservative strategist Jeffrey Bell said the big items on the policy agenda -- such as an overhaul of Social Security -- are necessarily on hold as Bush fights for reelection. "He's having to defend the forward motion he's already had," Bell said. "Reagan in '84 was the same way. People who thought Reagan's creative period was going to end after '83 were wrong. I think Bush will be the same way."

В© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Friday, May 07, 2004

The first one to say "Manhattan Project for Energy Independence" gets a million votes

"Oil is a resource in finite supply; no major oil fields have been found since 1976, and experts suspect that there are no more to find. Some analysts argue that world production is already at or near its peak, although most say that technological progress, which allows the further exploitation of known sources like the Canadian tar sands, will allow output to rise for another decade or two. But the date of the physical peak in production isn't the really crucial question.

The question, instead, is when the trend in oil prices will turn decisively upward. That upward turn is inevitable as a growing world economy confronts a resource in limited supply. But when will it happen? ...

During the 1980's, oil consumption dropped around the world as the delayed effects of the energy crisis led to the use of more fuel-efficient cars, better insulation in homes and so on. Although economic growth led to a gradual recovery, as late as 1993 world oil consumption was only slightly higher than it had been in 1979. In the United States, oil consumption didn't regain its 1979 level until 1997.

Since then, however, world demand has grown rapidly: the daily world consumption of oil is 12 million barrels higher than it was a decade ago, roughly equal to the combined production of Saudi Arabia and Iran. It turns out that America's love affair with gas guzzlers, shortsighted as it is, is not the main culprit: the big increases in demand have come from booming developing countries. China, in particular, still consumes only 8 percent of the world's oil but it accounted for 37 percent of the growth in world oil consumption over the last four years. ...

So what should we be doing? Here's a hint: We can neither drill nor conquer our way out of the problem. Whatever we do, oil prices are going up. What we have to do is adapt. " - Paul Krugman

Thursday, May 06, 2004

A jolly good republican time: rape, murder, and the ever-popular sexual humiliation

From Limbaugh, yesterday:

"This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?"

... can you imagine the vitriol that hypocritical sumbitch would be spewing if a Democrat were running things?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Hasta la Vista to $9 Billion

The news last fall:

"The wannabe governor has yet to deny that on May 17, 2001, at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles, he had consensual political intercourse with Enron chieftain Kenneth Lay. Also frolicking with Arnold and Ken was convicted stock swindler Mike Milken.

Now, thirty-four pages of internal Enron memoranda have just come through this reporter's fax machine tell all about the tryst between Maria's husband and the corporate con men. It turns out that Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9 billion in illicit profits they carried off.

Here's the story Arnold doesn't want you to hear. The biggest single threat to Ken Lay and the electricity lords is a private lawsuit filed last year under California's unique Civil Code provision 17200, the "Unfair Business Practices Act." This litigation, heading to trial now in Los Angeles, would make the power companies return the $9 billion they filched from California electricity and gas customers.

It takes real cojones to bring such a suit. Who's the plaintiff taking on the bad guys? Cruz Bustamante, Lieutenant Governor and reluctant leading candidate against Schwarzenegger.

Now follow the action. One month after Cruz brings suit, Enron's Lay calls an emergency secret meeting in L.A. of his political buck-buddies, including Arnold. Their plan, to undercut Davis (according to Enron memos) and "solve" the energy crisis -- that is, make the Bustamante legal threat go away.

How can that be done? Follow the trail with me.

While Bustamante's kicking Enron butt in court, the Davis Administration is simultaneously demanding that George Bush's energy regulators order the $9 billion refund. Don't hold your breath: Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is headed by a guy proposed by … Ken Lay."

... How's that working for ya so far? Now fast forward and, oh look! ... " it appears that Schwarzenegger’s staff is also operating under a veil of secrecy. On April 27, Schwarzenegger’s aides released a letter the governor wrote to Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, in which Schwarzenegger called for the state to return to a fully competitive, deregulated electricity market. A copy of the letter can be found at

In a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, April 28, to discuss the plan, one of Schwarzenegger’s aides (who instructed reporters that his name could not be used for attribution) was asked who advised Gov. Schwarzenegger on his energy plan.

The aide refused to disclose the names of the individuals the governor met with nor would he say how many meetings took place before Schwarzenegger formulated an energy policy. The aide would only say that the governor had “many, many” meetings with consumer groups, legislators and experts in the energy sector.

But officials with three of California’s most prominent consumer rights groups, all of whom spent the past four years at the forefront debate surrounding the state’s energy issues, said they never met with Gov. Schwarzenegger or anyone from his staff to discuss the governor’s future electricity plans for the state.

“We never met with him, never,” said Bob Finkelstein, the executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco based consumer. “Either somebody in (Schwarzenegger’s) office decided they knew what the consumer groups were going to say about his plan or the governor came to the conclusion that he didn’t care about consumers.”

Finkelstein said consumer groups are wary of Schwarzenegger’s energy plan because it calls for a complete return to retail competition, which was supposed to reduce electricity costs for consumers and businesses, but ended up costing the state as much as $70 billion due to a flawed design that allowed energy companies to manipulate the market.

“It’s almost 10 years to the day since we unleashed competition in California,” Finkelstein said. “If we do it again following the same pattern history will repeat itself and we can’t afford to do that again.”

From a former chief of Anesthesiology

My cousin writes "as one who has spent my life looking at the healthcare system from "inside" my views may be biased - but I truly blieve they are fairly clear on what the MAIN problem with our healthcare is. I have had the opportunity to sit on the board of a Liability Insurance Company and I have dealth with many "Third Party" companies who's stated goal is to provide "insurance" for the general public (ie, to spread the risk equally among a large number of people.)

I know that without a doubt the true goal of medical insurance companies is not to provide coverage for the health care costs of the general public (their policy holders.) It is rather to generate as large a profit for their share holders as possible - which means to pay out as little as possible for health care. I have first hand knowledge directly from the "horses mouth" that if their payouts exceed 15% annually they feel they have miscalculated and they adjust their premiums up and their payment schedule down. How else do the insurance companies live in tall steel and glass buildings on high dollar real estate and pay outrageous salaries and bonuses to their executives?
And of course - they are in bed with the government so that the rules and regulations which "control" their behavior work in their favor. The man on the street has little if any control over the operation of a health insurance companies policies and procedures. Certainly the medical community - widely viewed by the public as making a fortune from their sick patients - has no control over the insurance companies; in fact they are cut annually to the point that many medical services are now delivered by paramedical personell rather than by physicians as in the past - all in the name of cost cutting.

When money talks people listen. What money? Your money which is in the accounts of the insurance companies. Who does it talk to? The government. Who listens? The government - and they respond by protecting the insurance companies - not the individual who has an illness and generates the expenditure of health care dollars. That person is "the enemy." You and me !"

[rant ends] ... and beyond that, about all you can say is "we have the best government money can buy !"

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Vanishing Votes

On October 29, 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Hidden behind its apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil rights time bomb.

First, the purges. In the months leading up to the November 2000 presidential election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in coordination with Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local election supervisors to purge 57,700 voters from the registries, supposedly ex-cons not allowed to vote in Florida. At least 90.2 percent of those on this "scrub" list, targeted to lose their civil rights, are innocent. Notably, more than half--about 54 percent--are black or Hispanic. You can argue all night about the number ultimately purged, but there's no argument that this electoral racial pogrom ordered by Jeb Bush's operatives gave the White House to his older brother. HAVA not only blesses such purges, it requires all fifty states to implement a similar search-and-destroy mission against vulnerable voters. Specifically, every state must, by the 2004 election, imitate Florida's system of computerizing voter files. The law then empowers fifty secretaries of state--fifty Katherine Harrises--to purge these lists of "suspect" voters.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

how terrorism is seen by Islam

When a mother and four children shot dead in Gaza, it's an "heroic operation"

From Islam Online:

"Palestinian Fighters Kill Five Israeli Settlers

GAZA CITY, May 2 ( & News Agencies) - Five Israeli settlers were killed Sunday, May 2, and three soldiers injured in a Palestinian resistance attack on an Israeli settlement in occupied southern Gaza.

Two Palestinian fighters disguised as shepherds ambushed two cars of Israeli settlers near the Kissufim road, which leads to the major Gush Katif settlement bloc, witnesses told

The Palestinian resistance groups Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed the attack.

Earlier, media outlets said the operation was claimed Hamas’ armed wing Ezzudin Al-Qassam Brigades, which later denied responsibility, but praised the "heroic operation".

Oh, and let's not forget their mission statement:
"Our Mission:
To create a unique, global Islamic site on the Internet that provides services to Muslims and non-Muslims in several languages. To become a reference for everything that deals with Islam, its sciences, civilization and nation. To have credibility in content, distinction in design, and a sharp and balanced vision of humanity and current events. "

... How's that working for ya, Muslims?

The Kurds are to the rest of Iraq as Democrats are to Republicans (USATODAY poll)

holding absolutely opposite views of the US from the rest of Iraq, and if things run true to form, they'll get screwed again before this is over...

a. The U.S. is very serious about improving the economic lot of the Iraqis

B = Baghdad
Sh = Shi’ite areas
Su = Sunni areas
K = Kurdish areas
NK = Non-Kurdish areas

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 54 74 64 56 * 62
Agree 37 16 27 31 98 27

b. U.S. is very serious about establishing a democratic system in Iraq

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 50 74 56 54 * 58
Agree 37 14 30 30 98 28

c. U.S. will allow Iraqis to design their own political future as they see fit without direct u.s. influence

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 57 76 68 61 2 65
Agree 28 10 16 20 92 18

d. U.S. is completely serious about preserving the political and geographical unity of Iraq

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 51 72 61 53 1 59
Agree 33 10 20 29 96 23

e. If the U.S. were to pull out its troops any time soon, Iraq will fall into anarchy

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 44 41 56 43 5 50
Agree 41 43 29 34 92 33

f. A civil war will not happen in Iraq

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 24 23 24 29 21 25
Agree 58 56 64 44 66 57

g. The old regime has been smashed forever

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 5 5 3 7 1 6
Agree 86 89 91 78 98 85

h. The U.S. will not leave Iraq unless it is forced to do by force by the Iraqis

Total B Sh Su K NK
Disagree 28 16 18 14 88 19
Agree 55 69 63 58 7 62

The Fog of War Commercials

Kerry may have voted to drop weapon programs but Cheney was the stone killer assassin...

"The Bush team is trying to undermine Mr. Kerry's personal military record as a campaign asset by painting him as an opponent of a strong military. More specifically, the Republicans have accused Mr. Kerry of trying to kill the very weapons that are essential to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. At best, these charges are rather sloppy interpretations of complicated votes on military budgets. At worst, they are flat wrong. All are sad examples of the sort of election-year gimmickry that makes it hard for members of Congress to vote responsibly on military spending, lest they be denounced as opponents of a strong national defense.

The most glaring flaw in the Bush-Cheney assault is that the bulk of the votes for which Mr. Kerry is being castigated were cast in the early and mid-1990's, when there was a bipartisan consensus in Washington for slashing the huge Reagan-era military budgets to reflect the post-Soviet world. Mr. Cheney actually got the ball rolling by pushing through the biggest military spending cuts in a generation as defense secretary for the first President Bush. At the time, Mr. Cheney's aides liked to brag that, like Nixon going to China, the staunchly conservative Wyoming Republican had the necessary credibility to make those cuts.


In 1990, Mr. Cheney's first budget canceled, among other things, production of the M-1 tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle, and made big cuts in the F-18 fighter. That makes President Bush's newest commercial seem particularly cynical. It shows weapons disappearing from Iraq while actors in uniform watch in dismay, and an announcer accuses Mr. Kerry of trying to kill these very programs. The same commercial says Mr. Kerry "opposed" the B-2 stealth bomber, a relic of the cold war that was supposed to fly over Russia and blow up anything left after the missiles were fired. Mr. Kerry may have been less a fan of the B-2 than Mr. Cheney was, but the vice president cut production of that multibillion-dollar plane by 45 percent in his first year at the Pentagon."