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Saturday, February 14, 2004

Idle hands at Justice 

So, Mr. Ashcroft... now that your Department of Justice has all but wrapped up the domestic side of the war on terror, you have all these agents and lawyers just sitting around. They're bored and they need work. What will you have them do?

Ah, of course... hunt down the people who keep ordinary Americans awake at night. Steroid peddlers and pornographers.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has quietly installed an outspoken anti-pornography advocate in a senior position in its criminal division, as part of an effort to jump-start obscenity prosecutions...

Taylor, who in recent years has headed a conservative advocacy group fighting for tougher regulation of the Internet, has been given the title of "senior counsel" within the criminal division at Justice, with a focus principally on federal adult obscenity issues...

The department has made other moves recently to shore up its anti-porn effort, including assigning for the first time in years a team of FBI agents to focus exclusively on adult-obscenity cases.

In his fiscal 2005 budget proposal released this month, President Bush sought increased spending to fight obscenity; it was one of the few spending increases — besides for anti-terrorist efforts — in the otherwise austere proposal.
Yep, gotta take care of what's important--the base, that is.

Like the steroids thing, I wonder if there is some huge cry for help coming from the people of this country... If there are many Americans who feel their way of life threatened by pornography, so much that they don't mind law-enforcement resources being diverted from domestic terror concerns, drug trafficking, consumer fraud, and the like.

Don't we have more important things to worry about?
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Friday, February 13, 2004

No love in Saudi 

Saudi Arabia's fatwa committee has decreed that Valentine's Day is a non-Muslim celebration that must be banned.

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's religious authorities have ordered Muslims to shun the "pagan" holiday of Valentine's Day so as not to incur God's wrath, the local al-Riyadh newspaper said Friday.

"It is a pagan Christian holiday and Muslims who believe in God and Judgment Day should not celebrate or acknowledge it or congratulate (people on it). It is a duty to shun it to avoid God's anger and punishment," said an edict issued by Saudi Arabia's fatwa committee published in the Arabic-language daily.
They did something similar around New Year's, banning it for the same reason.

Things like banning non-Muslim holidays are the result of a very strict interpretation of the concept of bid'a, or innovation. Innovation, in this sense, is creating something new that is not specifically allowed by God in the Qur'an. This leads to a rigid state of affairs in which Islam cannot change, because Islam is the final word of God. Any change would, in this view, render it something other than Islam.

As a result, people like the Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia see Islam less as a religion and more as a way of life. One in which all things come from the Qur'an, and in which change or reform is heresy against God's will.

Banning Valentine's Day is a small thing, but it's indicative of a larger resistance to change, especially to innovations from the West. And that, right there, is one of the main reasons why their society is stagnating while the modern world is passing them by.
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You want the UN, you got it 

U.N. Official Back U.S. on Iraq Voting

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.N. official sided with the United States in its dispute with Iraq's powerful Shiite Muslim clergy over elections, saying Friday it would be hard to organize a vote before the June 30 deadline to hand power to the Iraqis.
Take that, Ayatollah Sistani. So sorry.

Don't get me wrong... as influential as Sistani is, the Coalition Provisional Authority must work with him. His words can go a long way toward determining the success or failure of democracy in Iraq, because a lot of Iraqis follow his lead. But there's such a thing as compromise, and hopefully Sistani is learning a little bit about it now.
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Hydrogen reactor 

A while back, I linked to a Slashdot article about the Army investigating hydrogen fuel cells for use in vehicles such as tanks, and another Wired article about hydrogen fuel in general.

At the time, I wrote,

Among the roadblocks is figuring out a way to produce hydrogen that doesn't use hydrocarbons.
Or some other kind of power, such as nuclear. But what it boils down to is that some form of pollution will be produced in the making of the hydrogen. Whether it's air pollution, or nuclear waste (which is always a thorny issue), something we don't want will be a byproduct of hydrogen production.

Well, today CNN and others reported on the development of a reactor that uses ethanol to make hydrogen, at the University of Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars...

Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.

The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.

"This points to a way to make renewable hydrogen that may be economical and available," said Lanny Schmidt, a chemical engineer who led the study. The work was outlined in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
This is certainly a step in the right direction. I'm convinced that hydrogen is coming, and whoever can get out in front (read: ADM) is going to make a killing as hydrogen rises and fossil fuels fall. The oil companies will be a natural fit into the hydrogen system as well, simply by virtue of already having the distribution infrastructure in place.

This ethanol-based reactor is not the final answer on clean power, of course. The ethanol comes from corn, and it takes a hell of a lot of diesel to power the tractors, harvesters, etc. needed to grow corn. So we're not there yet, but today's news is a positive step toward cleaner fuel, and hence, cleaner air. One day, perhaps, the machines needed to produce corn, and the equipment needed to turn it into ethanol and from there into hydrogen, not to mention the trucks and trains that transport all of those things, will themselves run on hydrogen power. I don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine such a system.

And as an added benefit, the development and widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells would reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil. OPEC can't be very happy today...
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Hearts and minds 

AP:

CAIRO, Egypt - Even before its first broadcast, a satellite television station financed by the U.S. government and directed at Arab viewers is drawing fire in the Middle East as an American attempt to destroy Islamic values and brainwash the young.
And that kind of mindset is exactly why this station was created.

Here in Maine, I get a French-language channel with French, Belgian, Swiss, and Canadian programming. I get the CBC. I wish I got BBC America. When I lived in California I got several Mexican channels (although I don't speak Spanish so they weren't of much use) and some international channel that showed news broadcasts from all over the world.

Funny, but I never felt like they were attempts to destroy American values or brainwash me. In fact, I greatly enjoy the different perspective those foreign channels bring to my view of world events. The TV doesn't force me to believe whatever opinion is presented. Unfortunately, most of the target audience of this new station, Arabs, have lived in societies in which propaganda is literally all there is. Why shouldn't they expect a new station to be more of the same, especially when it's from a country they've been brainwashed to despise and distrust?

Which plays the larger role here? Fear of America, based on ignorance of what it is? Or an inferiority complex, by which Muslims feel that their society and values are too weak to withstand a mere television station?
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Self-parody 

SLAUGHTERVILLE, Okla. - Residents of this central Oklahoma community have a beef over an animal rights group's attempt to raise awareness of animal abuse.

Slaughterville administrator Marsha Blair received a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, urging the town to change its name from Slaughterville to Veggieville.
I... hold on.

Okay, now that I've mostly stopped laughing... I've often wondered if PETA is really a front organization meant to discredit animal rights supporters. Nobody could do a better job than they're doing on their own.
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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Jefferson in Arabic 

Juan Cole has thought up a great way to get American ideas of democracy and liberty to the Arab world, unfiltered. And he's willing to do the legwork to make it happen.
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Great Satan 

...Not. The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran seems kind of fond of America, and even that unilateral, warmongering, Muslim-oppressing President of ours, in this open letter to him.

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the Iranian Student Movement and the Iranian Diaspora around the World, especially our oppressed countrymen, we extend our sincerest appreciation for your leadership and efforts to promote long term peace and democratic rule in the World. We also want to use this opportunity to express, once again, our deepest gratitude for your consistent and open support of our people in their quest for true freedom and democracy.
But, but... nobody wants our help! They don't want us promoting "peace" and "democracy" because they know it's all about oil, right? Apparently they didn't get the memo, because they just keep on heaping praise:

We believe that as with the American defeat of Nazism, Communism, Baathism and Talibanism, America will help to defeat the Islamic Fascists who have no place in a civilized world. Peace, democracy, true freedom, and equitable opportunities and living conditions for all Iranians and Middle Easterners, in general, can be attained, through total defeat of the of Islamic Fascism in Iran.
What? Islamic Fascism isn't a right-wing extremist invention? You mean it actually exists and people don't want to live under it? Actual Muslims like Bush and believe in his support for democracy?

The New York Times never told me that!

(Hat tip: AllahPundit)
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Blue Angel for sale 

CNN just ran a story about someone selling a former Blue Angels F/A-18A Hornet on eBay. I'm open to donations so I can make a winning bid. $1.05 million is a heck of a bargain! Heh.
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Steroids, bad! 

It seemed kind of out of place when the use of steroids in professional sports came up in the State of the Union address. Now that John Ashcroft is putting the full weight of the Department of Justice behind the issue, complete with a live televised press conference going on right now, it just seems silly.

I don't think anyone is going to argue in favor of athletes using steroids, and nobody is going to deny the harm they can do to users. But there are more important law-enforcement matters facing this country, and the resources of the DoJ and FBI would better serve the national interest by, for instance, investigating terrorist supporters and looking for sleeper cells. Just a thought.

UPDATE: Apparently the attention was sparked by an investigation of BALCO Laboratories, a track coach, and a trainer. A federal grand jury handed out four indictments today. I still don't think this is a huge, weighty issue that requires the involvement of the Attorney General and the President. It's not like this kind of thing is a surprise to anyone, or something many people care deeply about.
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Help us, Kofi, you're our only hope 

The Democrats of Belfast, Maine have asked the United Nations to monitor the 2004 presidential election. You can't make this stuff up.
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JFK's infidelity 

No, not that JFK, this one.

Let the spinning commence!

UPDATE: The Command Post has a story about Kerry's conduct in Vietnam. If one of these stories ends up being true, especially this Vietnam thing, John Kerry will be in serious trouble. If both are true, he's done. Deanie babies, the dream ain't over yet...

UPDATE 2: Drudge quoted Wesley Clark as saying that Kerry's campaign would "implode" over the affair... but now he's endorsing Kerry? Something doesn't fit. Treat the Drudge thing as suspect unless more information comes out.

MORE: Kos confirms that Clark has been talking about this for a while.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Mutiny 

A cheerful DU'er thinks it would be swell if the military revolted.

Does anyone here think (especially those who have been in the forces) believe or think that it is possible for those poor bastards who are dying in Iraq so Halliburton can make money, will one day say to Bush "F... you and your orders. Im going home" If that happened it would be simply incredible and that certainly would put an end to bushie slime pit
...And the end of civilian control of the military, enshrined in the Constitution. Oh yeah, grand idea. Moron.

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Bush National Guard service 

Kevin Drum and I are on opposite sides of the "Bush AWOL" issue, but I have to commend him for his tireless work. Go look... he's blurring the line between blogging and investigative journalism. He's chasing down primary sources, doing original reporting, and compiling a lot of information. The CalPundit is on a roll and you should check it out. Just pay no mind to some of his commenters... they're not his fault.
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Sweet 

Programmer Sets Up Mask For File-Sharers

Wyatt Wasicek was so outraged by the recording industry's legal assault on users of free music-downloading sites that he decided to ride to the rescue. He created a program called AnonX that masks the Internet address of people who use file-sharing programs such as Kazaa.

Available for $5.95 per month, AnonX sets up a virtual private network, or VPN, between a user's computer and the company's computers. The AnonX computers act as proxies, and actually do the Web surfing for the subscriber.

In theory, no one outside of AnonX can see the subscriber's Internet address — including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has forced Internet service providers to turn over subscriber information as part of its campaign to sue hundreds of individual song downloaders, including children.
How long until someone releases a free app that does this?
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Letter from Bush's fellow ANG pilot 

Colonel William Campenni (Retired) sets the record straight better than I can about how things work in the military, plus he actually flew with Bush in the Guard.

But what does he know...
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Welcome 

Welcome aboard, Carnival of the Vanities readers. Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to kick up your feet and stay a while...

Thanks also to Kathy Kinsley and MommaBear for putting together a great Carnival this week! If you didn't arrive here from the Carnival, you need to click on the link above and expand your blog horizons. Lots of good stuff there.
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Men in skirts 

Why does my internal voice sound like Michael Palin when I read this?

"We're not transvestites, homosexuals or cross-dressers," David Johnson told the New York Times for Sunday editions. "We don't want you to call us Jean or Sally. We're men. Men who want the right to wear a skirt."
(Hat tip: On the Third Hand)
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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Media, DNC clueless about military 

Yeah, yeah, I know. Big surprise there. But this whole thing about Bush's National Guard service is really driving the point home for me. As a Reservist, I'm struck by how much of the current controversy stems from a simple misunderstanding of the military and the Reserves/National Guard. This Reuters article illustrates my point nicely.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush was absent for long periods of his final two years of National Guard duty but met service requirements, according to new records cited by the White House in an effort to refute accusations he shirked Vietnam War-era military obligations.
Hmm. Long periods of absence. Doesn't sound good for Bush. But I want to know more about these absences...

The documents show long gaps in Bush's Guard service, from May through late October 1972, and mid-January through early April 1973.

Bush spent part of the fall of 1972 working on a political campaign in Alabama, but he performed "equivalent duty" while out of Texas, McClellan said.
"Equivalent duty" is apparently an older term that is no longer used, but the principle is alive and well in today's Guard and Reserve. Drills do not have to be done on the scheduled weekend. If someone has other things going on, they can request to reschedule their drills to another time. They can be done anytime--on weekends, weekdays, one drill at a time, or ten. I've known people who have missed considerable amounts of time and either front-loaded their drills to fulfill their requirement ahead of time, or made them up later. Missing a few months is not the norm, but it's not unknown either. Obviously, approval from the chain of command is needed to deviate from the scheduled drills, but unless there's a major unit event, approval is generally easy to get. In my reserve job, I recommend approval on several such requests every month.

Okay, so that should cover the critics who think that missing time is missing time, period, and that must mean Bush was AWOL. Now I move on to another misunderstanding, this time of a single word:

The Democratic Party said in a statement, "There is still no evidence that George W. Bush showed up for duty as ordered while in Alabama." It noted an evaluation report from superiors in Texas said Bush had not been "observed" from April 1972 to May 1973.
The Democratic Party needs to run this stuff past their military veterans before they make fools of themselves. "Not observed" is a specific type of evaluation. It means that an individual was either a) Present for fewer than 90 days before the annual report was due, b) Not directly supervised by a superior who could evaluate performance, for instance at a training school, or c) Not present for enough time for the reporting senior to write an accurate evaluation. For every single day of my active duty time, I was accounted for, and yet I received six "Not Observed" reports. Some cover the time I was in my initial post-commissioning training, others cover temporary assignments, and a couple are Not Observed because I reported to a new command less than 90 days before my annual evaluation was due. Those six reports hardly mean I was nowhere to be found.

I assure you, if a military officer, active or Guard/Reserve, were to shirk his or her duties, the report would definitely not be "Not Observed." It would be a "Regular" report filled with bad marks and derogatory comments.

I think it's time for the critics to educate themselves, and learn a little about the military. Otherwise they look like fools to people like me who know the difference between "rescheduled" and "AWOL," and who know that "not observed" does not mean "absent."

UPDATE: The NYT editorial board doesn't get it either.

The payroll records show that he was paid for many days of duty in the first four months of 1972, when he was in Texas, but then went more than six months without being paid, virtually the entire time he was working on the Senate campaign in Alabama. That presumably means he never reported for duty during that period.
Sigh... And if he didn't, so what? He made up the time later. It happens all the time and it's perfectly kosher! Someone in my unit is about to miss 4 months of duty and has permission to do so! Why is this so damn hard for people to understand???

Has ANYONE thought to talk to someone in the Guard or Reserve? If they do, they might learn the things I'm talking about here.

The commanding officer of the Alabama unit to which Mr. Bush was supposed to report long ago said that he had never seen him appear for duty...
Oh yes, General Turnipseed... Look, I have worn a Navy uniform for nearly eleven years, and six as an active duty officer. I am an officer of higher rank than Bush was, and I know that at no point in my career has any Admiral known who I was, let alone where I was. Generals don't spend much time keeping tabs on 1st Lieutenants.

...and Mr. Bush's superiors at the Texas unit to which he returned wrote in May 1973 that they could not write an annual evaluation of him because he had not been seen there during that year.
Because he was in Alabama! See above, where I talk about what "not observed" means. Good Lord, these people need to get a clue.

I'm not fired up because someone's attacking President Bush. He's my Commander in Chief, and that's all I really should say. My job description doesn't include fending off political attacks. But it infuriates me to see people basing arguments on things about which they do not have the tiniest bit of understanding. The problem is, so few people have the knowledge to interpret this story. From the news editor whose exposure to the military is limited to seeing a Humvee by the GW Bridge one time, to the Democratic party activist from Greenwich or Frisco, to the vast majority of everyday Americans who haven't spent a day in the military, most people lack the firsthand knowledge required to make sense of this whole thing.

And it isn't their fault. They simply don't know the inner workings of the military, just as they don't know the inner workings of economics, or for that matter of the Neverland Ranch. So they rely on headlines and sound bites to interpret the news for them, and they think they know the story as a result.

It's all they have, after all.
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Libya's WMD 

The Carnegie Endowment presents a "fact sheet," basically a timeline of developments in Libya's unconventional weapons programs, from the 1970s to the present dismantling of the programs. There's something conspicuously absent between these two sentences:

It signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1969, ratified it in 1975, and placed its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Association safeguards in 1980.

On 19 December 2003, Libya announced it would halt its unconventional weapons programs and eliminate any stockpiles of weapons under international verification and supervision.
There's a serious lack of context. How about "On 20 March 2003, American and British forces launched a military campaign to disarm and remove a dictator suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction?" Or maybe "13 December 2003, American forces apprehended former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?" Interesting how it was only six days later that Qaddafi suddenly decided to play nice... Hmm. Probably a coincidence.

The fact sheet also contains this tidbit:

Libya's decision was the culmination of nine months of secret negotiations between Libyan, US, and British officials. In March 2003, Musa Kussa, President Qaddafi's chief of intelligence, approached British M16 officials seeking to negotiate WMD disarmament in exchange for normalization of ties.
Well, let's see... counting nine months backward from 19 December 2003, that would be... gosh, right around 20 March. That's probably a coincidence too.
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Egads! Windows has security holes??? 

I think the wire services just recycle this same story every month or so. Just change the dates, add a couple of quotes from a Microsoft spokesperson and a "computer security expert," and you're all set. I like this bit, though:

Microsoft switched to a monthly cycle of releasing security updates in order to make it easier for system administrators to keep their software secure and up to date.
Can you imagine if your car had a safety recall every month? There's a solution here. Microsoft should try hiring some white-hat hackers to aggressively attack the Windows product in search of holes before rushing it to market. Just an idea.
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Homeland security 

This story about a Maine man living on the border with Quebec has been in the local news, and now Reuters has picked it up. Cross-Border Church Visit Costs Man $10,000

The essence of the story is that Richard Albert lives next door to the border station between Township 15 Range 15, one of the many unorganized territories in northern Maine, and the town of St.-Pamphile, Quebec. Like the other residents of the "town," Albert frequently crosses the border to St.-Pamphile, which is the nearest town where they can shop, fill up on gas, or go to church. Well, the border closes at certain hours, so after babysitting his neice and going to church across the border, he did as he and others have been doing for years,

...he just drove around the locked gate, as he had done every weekend since the gate appeared last May, following a tightening of border security.
He was caught on camera and fined $10,000.

By the way, I love the ironic juxtaposition of "he just drove around the locked gate" and "tightening of border security" in the same sentence.

In any case, Albert is appealing the fine, but in order to obey the law, residents of T15 R15 (as these places are noted on maps and highway signs) have to take a 200 mile detour to the nearest open border crossing, even if they just want to buy a loaf of bread a couple miles away in Quebec. And it's closed on Sunday, so they can forget about going to church.

Bangor Daily News:

The township's 12 residents banded together, saying more hours was a good start, but did not solve their problem. Their local churches, shops, grocery store and hospital, as well as many family and friends, all are located in Canada, and they have no legal way to get to them at night or on Sunday.
Fortunately, one of Maine's Senators, Susan Collins, is working to find a long-term solution. The residents already have special passes from the Canadian government to cross into Canada when the border is closed, and there's no reason the U.S. government can't do the same. It's about letting people live their lives. Somehow I don't think homeland security is served by keeping people away from what is essentially their own town. And since the locked gate can be so easily bypassed, as noted above, it's obvious that homeland security is not really the issue.

The government needs to give these people a break and let them be.
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Self-satire 

BBC:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has announced he has created a new ministry to deal with corruption.

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Hitler's WMDs 

Belmont Club has an excellent post about intelligence failures in WWII.
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Monday, February 09, 2004

Subpoenaed protesters update 

Over the weekend, I had two posts about the anti-war activists who have been called to testify to a grand jury, and whose records have been subpoenaed from Drake University. It seems I might have jumped the gun with my outrage:

The judge's subpoena, linked to a grand jury probe, seeks records relating to the Drake chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, including names of officers and the current location of offices. It also orders the university to turn over records about a Nov. 15 forum for anti-war activists.

The forum offered sessions on the war in Iraq and nonviolence training for those planning to participate in a protest the following day at the Iowa National Guard headquarters... (So say the attendees -ed.)

Authorities said a sheriff's deputy suffered a dislocated knee when he was kicked during the demonstration. Twelve protesters, including three who have been subpoenaed, were arrested. A fourth activist subpoenaed, Brian Terrell, was at the forum and the protest but was not arrested.
So... A group of people gathers together one day to discuss their protest, and the next day they get arrested and injure a cop. Sounds like fair game to me. I think it's reasonable for a court to find out if violence was part of the plan.

So unless something new comes to light, I'm withdrawing my concern for these activists.
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Mindblowing stupidity 

Donald Rumsfeld is trying to provoke terrorist attacks on America. Seriously. I read it at Democratic Underground. I'm probably beginning to sound like a broken record, but where do these people come from???

UPDATE: Here's the supposedly earth-shaking bit, from an October, 2002 article by William Arkin in the LA Times:

The board recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception.

Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at "stimulating reactions" among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to "quick-response" attacks by U.S. forces.
That DU poster has to read for context, because his comprehension is atrocious. There's nothing here to suggest that "there will be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large... Because these attacks will be instigated at the order of the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense." Hardly. This is all about conducting operations to spook terrorists overseas into exposing themselves so they can be eliminated. I would be outraged if this were not happening. But hey, DU has yet to meet a conspiracy theory it doesn't like, regardless of the level of stupidity required to believe it.
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Black anger over Michigan Democratic caucus 

How are they going to blame this one on the Republicans?

On Sunday, in the aftermath of Kerry's commanding Michigan win, some black leaders denounced the state Democratic Party for caucus site screwups Saturday that confused and kept away voters, and called on party cochairman Mark Brewer to resign...

The Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of the National Action Network Michigan chapter and a Sharpton supporter, led a coalition Sunday demanding Brewer's resignation. Sheffield said the group may go to court to overturn Saturday's results if Brewer doesn't quit.
Where have I heard this kind of thing before? Hmm...
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Terrorists losing faith 

Moving here from the post below:

Coalition forces have found a memo that appears to be addressed to Osama bin Laden from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Remember him? He's the terrorist leader that the administration, in the runup to the war, claimed was running a terrorist operation in Iraq. Gosh, I guess they were right.

I have some issues with the opening graf of the AP article linked above:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A letter seized from an al-Qaida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against America, raising questions about the Bush administration's contention that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.
I don't think it raises questions at all. That al Qaeda is having trouble recruiting Iraqis is an indicator of success in the war on terror. If anything could rally militants to holy war, it's the occupation of a Muslim land by the infidel Americans. But apparently, the show of strength is dampening the hopes of terrorists, leading them to realize that their campaign isn't working. It was taken as an article of faith by al Qaeda and its ilk that America was weak, that America would run from danger, and that as a result, terrorists could attack America with impunity. Things like Beirut, Somalia, the African embassy bombings, and the USS Cole attack emboldened terrorists into thinking America had no stomach for a fight. Now the al Qaeda leader in Iraq has this to say:

America, however, has no intention of leaving, no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes... We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases.
Smash is right. We're winning.
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Press accuracy 

Did I say "dishonest?"

I need a stronger word.

UPDATE: At least the AP actually read the memo.
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Hypocrisy 

What is missing and what cries out to be said is that neither one group nor the other from that difficult period of time has cornered the market on virtue or rectitude or love of country.

What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be refighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary...

We do not need to divide America over who served and how...

Certainly, those who went to Vietnam suffered greatly. I have argued for years, since I returned myself in 1969, that they do deserve special affection and gratitude for service. And, indeed, I think everything I have tried to do since then has been to fight for their rights and recognition.

But while those who served are owed special recognition, that recognition should not come at the expense of others; nor does it require that others be victimized or criticized or said to have settled for a lesser standard.
John Kerry, Feb. 27, 1992
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Bedfellows 

Democrats, take heart. Iran's hardliners, Yasser Arafat, and Hezbollah don't want Bush reelected either. I guess the administration is cramping their style, and they don't feel as free to practice terrorism and repression as long as Bush is around. Can't imagine what gives them that idea.

(Hat tip: Allah Is In The House)
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Imagine that 

US anti-spam law fails to bite.
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The labor market, it is a'changin' 

That's what the White House says in its annual economic report.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy should shed its jobless label this year with the creation of about 2.6 million new positions, the White House forecast on Monday.

If realized, the jobs turnaround could help President Bush's re-election prospects. Bush has faced withering fire from Democrats over the lack of new jobs.

In the annual Economic Report of the President, the White House said the number of workers on U.S. non-farm payrolls was likely to rise to an average to 132.7 million this year from a 2003 average it thought would come in at 130.1 million.
That's incredibly optimistic. Now, I'm no economist, and I don't have the data that led to this forecast, but it just sounds unlikely to me. (And if it's right, that's awesome.)

Either the White House is very confident that these new jobs are on the way, or counting on people to forget this forecast if it is not proven right. If it turns out to be right, the Democratic candidate for President will have an uphill climb, as his major issue will be taken off the table.
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News media in Iraq 

Rantingprofs has posted an email purportedly from an Army public affairs officer in Iraq who is a little critical of the news media's coverage of the country.

He charges that the news people have the major story lines figured out before they arrive, and merely work to fill in the details. That's lazy at best, dishonest at worst, and not the least bit surprising.

After reading this Lt's description of the sources the news media uses, I'm leaning heavily toward "dishonest" rather than "lazy."

Read the letter, and if you think Iraq coverage is accurate, have your eyes opened.
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Sunday, February 08, 2004

Anti-war activist subpoenas 

Kos has more. Among the things that raise red flags are the uncertain nature of the proceedings, and the fact that the testimony will be behind closed doors. Hopefully more information will be forthcoming, either to justify these actions or to put and end to them. It's always possible that an associate of these activists was involved in something illegal without their knowledge, and the grand jury wants to ask about it. But even if that's the case, something doesn't smell right when anti-war activists are subpoenaed by a terrorism task force.
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Dean's scream overplayed 

News flash: Cable news overplayed something. Believe it or not, it's true. CNN admitted that it overplayed Howard Dean's infamous post-Iowa scream. No doubt they'll start giving every story the amount of time it deserves. You know, like the Kobe Bryant thing.
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