Friday, July 30, 2004
Thursday, July 29, 2004
[+/-] Bush's drugs are good for you too!
[+/-] Bush Retreats Into Private, Paranoid World
White House aides say the West Wing has been overtaken by a "siege mentality," where phone calls and emails are monitored and everyone is under suspicion for "disloyalty to the crown."
One long-time GOP political consultant who asked not to be identified says he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush.
"We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes," he says sadly. "That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country."
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
[+/-] Military endorses Kerry; Osama endorses Bush
In case you missed it, Osama supports Bush.
[+/-] You only experience what you value
In other words, events with million-to-one odds happen 295 times a day in America. (Similar logic is explained in the book Debunked! ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience.)
The mathematics behind this reasoning, when combined with the tendency toward confirmation bias explain a lot about religious behavior. If humans have a tendency to experience only what they value in the first place, then a poor understanding of mathematics (specifically probabilty and statistics) leads to ascribing meaning to meaningless events. This might explain why the most educated among us are not religious.
[+/-] Kerry continues to lead in electoral votes
Thursday, July 15, 2004
[+/-] Boys sodomized at Abu Ghraib
"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."
Streaming video of the speech is here. Hersh starts at about 1:07:50.
Sickening, chilling, frightening. Still think it's just fraternity hazing, Rush?
[+/-] The Republican't Mentality
[+/-] CAPPS II Program Shelved
Sometimes such announcements are used to merely distract the public from controversial programs before they are submerged into deeper obscurity. Since CAPPS II requires passenger cooperation, however, perhaps it is not too early to cheer for the program's passing.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
[+/-] Quantum cryptography network debuts
Quantum cryptography schemes allow a pair of correspondents to securely exchange a key that will unlock a scrambled message. The schemes call for transferring each bit of information using a single photon. The systems are potentially very secure because the quantum state of a particle cannot be observed without altering it. If the random string of bits that make up the key have been observed, it will be obvious to the sender and receiver and the key can be discarded.
Quantum cryptography has the potential to guarantee perfectly secure communications, but until now all of the prototype systems have been point-to-point links rather than networks that share connections. "Any node in the network can act as a relay," said Chip Elliott, a principal scientist at BBN Technologies. The researchers will soon move one of the network nodes across town to link Boston University into the network, said Elliott.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
[+/-] Latest poll of battleground states shows Kerry in significant lead
Notably, all three of the states in which Bush leads are well within the poll's margin of error, while Kerry's lead is in the clear in half of the twelve states he leads.
[+/-] Red Cross Accuses Bush of Hiding Detainees
"We have access to people detained by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, but in our understanding there are people that are detained outside these places for which we haven't received notification or access," said Antonella Notari, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Notari said suspects reported as arrested by the FBI on its Web site, or identified in media reports, are unaccounted for: "Some of these people who have been reported to be arrested never showed up in any of the places of detention run by the U.S. where we visit"
The Bush Administration has not officially responded to a Red Cross demand for notification of all detainees, including those held in undisclosed locations, she said.
[+/-] Meet the next Secretary of the Army
Harvey is vice chairman of Duratek, which specializes in the handling and disposing of radioactive materials. Duratek, which reported sales of $286 million last year, has contracts with both the US Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, which is itself one of the nation's top defense contractors. Carlyle owns about 23 percent of the company and appointed Harvey to Duratek's board in 1998.
Can you say "Doctor Evil?" I thought you could. However, here is something that will cheer you up: Chris Ullman, a spokesman for the Carlyle Group, said he's confident that Harvey, if appointed Army secretary, won't show any special favors to former business partners.
Ha ha ha! Hee hee ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!
Sorry, that's just hysterically funny.
Monday, July 12, 2004
[+/-] 'Wow, there [are] a lot of nude people here.'
US News is reporting that the most compelling evidence of what happened is contained in a report completed in March by General Taguba. The magazine has obtained all 106 classified annexes to the report, and the several thousand pages of material provide the most comprehensive view yet of what went wrong at Abu Ghraib and in the Army's management of the teeming prison system in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled.
Taguba found, the report says, "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses." The place, the documents suggest, was bedlam. Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, the senior military intelligence officer in the prison, noted that in one 18-hour period he had had to deal with two soldiers abusing a prisoner, another soldier being sexually propositioned by an officer, and a third sick and vomiting in her room after drinking too much alcohol. He also worried, he testified, that "hookers" were living in some bunks.
[+/-] Al-Qaeda supports Bush
"it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
I don't know how I missed that one!
Of course, the Bush Cartel initially blocked US secret service investigations on terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban the delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid. And although Bush bombed the Taliban in 2001, he did allow most of al-Qaeda to escape at Tora Bora. And although Bush invaded Iraq, he also removed American troops from Saudi Arabia, just as Osama had demanded.
So I guess the support is mutual ;)
[+/-] Elections in a time of national crisis
It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence in great emergencies.Given the Bush Cartel's obsession with secrecy why is Newsweek being permitted to report this story? Can you say trial balloon? I thought you could.
On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized (sic), by a political war among themselves?
But the election was a necessity.
We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.
But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people's votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
[+/-] Discrimination is never right, even against nonbelievers
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act (S. 893), introduced in the Senate by Senator Santorum (R-PA) with bipartisan support, is now being pushed toward a vote. The bill would legally sanction discrimination and place the rights of some over the rights of others.
By altering Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the bill requires that employers show deference for the religious needs of their workers, unless it would result in "significant difficulty or expense." The bill's broad language places both Humanists and people of minority faiths at risk of being subjected to proselytizing from the dominant religious groups in the workplace. Rather than protecting individual rights and freedoms, the bill egregiously allows some people to force their ideas on others. The bill also seriously jeopardizes the wellbeing of American citizens. The broad language of the bill compromises health and safety by allowing healthcare workers to refuse to provide information and services related to family planning and HIV/AIDS treatment. Under the bill, police officers could also refuse to protect buildings if they had a moral objection to the tenant's activities--putting people like abortion clinic workers at risk.
Over the past 25 years, employees have brought an array of claims for employers to accommodate religious practices that would have resulted in harm to critical personal or civil rights. If WRFA had been law, the following rejected religious accommodation claims could have been decided differently:
- Police officer’s request to refuse to protect an abortion clinic,
- Another police officer’s request to abstain from arresting protestors blocking a clinic entrance,
- Social worker’s decision to use Bible readings, prayer, and the "casting out of demons" with inmates in a county prison, instead of providing the county’s required secular mental health counseling,
- State-employed visiting nurse’s decision to tell an AIDS patient and his partner that God "doesn’t like the homosexual lifestyle" and that they needed to pray for salvation,
- Delivery room nurse’s refusal to scrub for an emergency inducement of labor and an emergency caesarian section delivery on women who were in danger of bleeding to death,
- Two different male truck drivers and a male emergency medical technician request to avoid overnight work shifts with women because they could not sleep in the same quarters with women,
- Employee assistance counselor’s request to refuse to counsel unmarried or gay or lesbian employees on relationship issues,
- Hotel worker’s decision to spray a swastika on a mirror as a religious "good luck" symbol,
- Private sector employee’s request to uncover and display a KKK tattoo of a hooded figure standing in front of a burning cross,
- State-employed sign language interpreter’s request to proselytize and pray aloud for her assigned deaf mental health patients, and
- Retail employee’s request to begin most statements on the job with "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth."
These examples were all actual cases brought into federal court by employees claiming that their employers refused to provide a reasonable accommodation of their religious beliefs. Applying the existing Title VII reasonable accommodation standard, the courts rejected all of these claims. Congress has no assurance that courts would continue to reject all of these types of claims if WRFA becomes law.
The harm that WRFA could cause is completely avoidable. Congress can, and should, pass legislation tightly focused on strengthening the federal requirements imposed on employers to accommodate workplace scheduling changes for the observation of religious holidays and the wearing of religious clothing or a beard or hairstyle. These two areas of religious accommodation account for nearly three-fourths of all of the religious accommodation claims rejected by federal courts in published opinions during the past quarter-century. A narrowly tailored bill could address these problems for religious minorities without any of the harms that WRFA could cause.
It is important that Humanist voices are heard at this critical juncture. Please contact your Senators and encourage them to oppose the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) for the aforementioned reasons. You can reach them by calling the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121. The Senate website also lists the direct office lines and email addresses for every Senator.
Friday, July 09, 2004
[+/-] Donald Trump to W: You're fired!
[+/-] New Cases of Scientific Abuse by Administration Emerge
Today the Union of Concerned Scientists released new evidence that the Bush Administration continues to suppress and distort scientific knowledge and undermine scientific advisory panels in a manner that would make Stalin and Lysenko smile.
The new cases released by the Union of Concerned Scientists detail incidents of suppression and distortion of scientific knowledge on a range of policy issues. These new incidents have been corroborated through in-depth interviews and internal government documents, including some documents released through the Freedom of Information Act. Examples of scientific malfeasance include:
The number of scientists calling for an end to these practices and restoration of scientific integrity in federal policymaking now totals more than 4,000, including 48 Nobel laureates, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences. A number of these scientists have served in multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican't, underscoring the unprecedented nature of the Bush administration’s practices and demonstrating that the issues of scientific integrity transcend partisan politics.
Egregious disregard of scientific study, across several agencies, regarding the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining; Censorship and distortion of scientific analysis, and manipulation of the scientific process, across several issues and agencies in regard to the Endangered Species Act; Distortion of scientific knowledge in decisions about emergency contraception; and New evidence about the use of political litmus tests for scientific advisory panel appointees.
This cartoon would be funny, if it didn't cut so close to the bone.
[+/-] Three American citizens accused of running a fake prison in Kabul
Who the hell runs their own prison? Okay, maybe they are crazy, but where's the profit? Doesn't it make sense that they were paid to do this? Of course, the Bush Cartel is denying involvement.
Just a few more bad apples, right? I mean this isn't in America's national character or anything, right?
When will I again be proud to be an American?
Thursday, July 08, 2004
[+/-] New estimates on Iraqi resistance
Larger than who thought? CIA estimates ranged up to 50,000. Other US intelligence agencies warned Bush administration policymakers before the war in Iraq that there would be significant armed opposition.
The developing view of the insurgency contrasts with the commonly stated view in the Bush administration that the fighting is fueled by foreign warriors intent on creating an Islamic state: "We're not at the forefront of a jihadist war here," said a US military official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official and others told the AP that the guerrillas have enough popular support among nationalist Iraqis angered by the presence of US troops that they cannot be militarily defeated.
Any NeoCons reading this? I would love to hear your suggestions for fixing your mess....
[+/-] Aww... is your job too difficult, Mr. Bush?
Enron was Bush’s top career patron until last year, with executives and employees contributing over $600,000 to Bush’s campaigns. Mr. President, give that money back.
RNC Chairman and Enron lobbyist Ed Gillespie received $700,000 from Enron. Mr. Gillespie, give that money back.
Aww... is your job too difficult, Mr. Bush? Perhaps you should just step down.
[+/-] Bush wants Bin Laden captured during the Democratic Party Convention
Another source who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, says that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of [bin Laden] before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." According to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [bin Laden and his aides] were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Yeah, this sounds a bit like a lame conspiracy theory, but Pakistan has a history of assisting Republican't administrations. "In Pakistan, there has been a folk belief that, whenever there's a Republican administration in office, relations with Pakistan have been very good," says Khalid Hasan, a US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times. By contrast, there's also a "folk belief that the Democrats are always pro-India."
Anyway, why now? Pushing Musharraf to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal areas may be a good idea despite the risks. But, if that is the case, it was a good idea in 2002 and 2003.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
[+/-] Edwards versus Cheney
According to the poll, a Kerry-Edwards ticket gets support from 49 percent of registered voters, while President Bush and Vice President Cheney get 41 percent, and independent Ralph Nader and running mate Peter Camejo get 4 percent. In a two-way race, Kerry-Edwards leads Bush-Cheney, 54 percent to 43 percent. These results represent a boost for Kerry's campaign, compared with polls from a week ago showing that the race was essentially tied.
Comparing the two vice presidential candidates, when asked who would do a better job of running the country, 45 percent said Edwards, while 38 percent said Cheney. Moreover, when asked who is more optimistic about the future of the country, 49 percent said Edwards, while just 28 percent chose Cheney.
It's interesting that the poll shows that one of Edwards' perceived weaknesses -- his past work as a trial lawyer -- might not be a liability. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents said his trial-lawyer past wouldn't make a difference to their vote, while 14 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for him, and another 14 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for him. I never have felt this was as important as the RNC spinmeisters would have us believe. If Kerry-Edwards can spin this into a defender-of-David-versus-corporate-Goliath story, Bush and Cheney should just start packing their bags now. Besides, wasn't Lincoln a lawyer?
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
[+/-] Whom Does McCain Support?
Whom does McCain support? McCain did have praise for John Edwards when Edwards released his book "Four Trials":
In Four Trials, John Edwards has written movingly of people who were terribly wronged, and whom he helped seek some measure of justice with great skill, determination, and genuine compassion. He shows a perceptive appreciation in these accounts for the strength of his clients' character. And, in the loving portrait of his son, Wade, and the deeply touching account of his loss, John reveals the strength of his own character and gives the reader a look beyond a political biography into the heart of a good man.In related news, here is irrefutable proof that the New York Post is run by idiots.
-- Senator John McCain
Monday, July 05, 2004
[+/-] Kerry's message and VP
"We don't need a leader who'll be optimistic for America, we need one who'll be determined for it.... What's needed is an antidote to Bush's desperate-ploy optimism, a reminder of where our country actually is rather than where the commercials place it. The Hollywood model needed now is not the indomitable runt who eventually plays halfback, but the tough-as-nails soldier who refuses to give up and radiates can-do grit."The Economist this week has a simplistic breakdown of Kerry's VP potentials (subscription required). Personally I really like John Edwards, and he has been teriffic stumping for Kerry, but I think he'd be a poor VP choice: he cannot even bring along his own red state of North Carolina. Governor Mark Warner (D-VA) has a better chance of turning the Old Dominion blue, although that would be a first since LBJ. The most intriguing suggestion is former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Would Rubin's Wall Street credentials be enough to compensate for his lack of electoral experience? I bet he could at least pass the FCC Indececy Quiz, unlike Mr. Cheney.
Sunday, July 04, 2004
[+/-] Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About "Fahrenheit 9/11"
[+/-] Happy Independence Day
Since the selection of 2000, it has been apparent to many people more learned than me that the Bush cartel does not buy into the legitimacy of the democratic system. If that is true, what is to stop them from attempting to remain in power regardless of the outcome of the November election? Sound far-fetched? Perhaps, but the administration is making plans for it.
However, the recent awakening of pockets of the American people (even conservatives) to the drunk-with-bloodlust erosion of the Bill of Rights under Bush-43 gives me hope that one day I can teach my kids about the resilience of American democracy rather than its passage.
It is not yet too late: don't be afraid of your freedom. I know I plan to declare my independence while I still have it.
Friday, July 02, 2004
[+/-] Indicators of Democracy
"If sometime in the future American democracy ceased to exist, what would the historians write? Surely there would be warning signs that democracy was on its last legs... what would those signs be?"
She didn't have an answer, nor did I, but the question has been nagging me all year. So let's start a list of reasonable, measurable factors that would apply to the United States as well as any democratic country.
- If free and fair elections at a resonable frequency to ensure that the governed support the governors is the staple of democracy, then heading this list would be electoral disruption: elections which are not so free, fair or frequent.
- Supression of political parties and organizations that oppose the current regime.
- Suppression of civil liberties.
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