Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunami death toll tops 135,000

As the Tsunami death toll tops 135,000 people I cannot but contrast the paramount need with the President's leisure time down in Texas. President Bush, just like he did after 9/11, is wasting an opportunity to draw the world together in an hour of need.

Think how much better it would be if President Bush cancelled his vacation and challenged Saudi Arabia to donate as much money to their Muslim brothers as the US, and called on NATO to deploy their military equipment to assist in the effort, and gave relief agencies free computing horsepower so they could keep up with on-line donations, and kept reminding other nations to do more, and talked to the American people every day about the ways they can help.

Imagine the potential for repair to our reputation abroad, and imagine the potential to instill hope in mankind that we can still love each other when the need is great (even if perhaps only then). Furthermore, this type of leadership might even prevent a few would-be terrorists from signing up with Osama's outfit.

I know a lot of doctors and when their pager sounds they answer the call even if they are on vacation. Here is a link to a group of doctors that will be involved in the relief effort:

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders)

Paul (a reader) posted this link to provide Christian's a place to communicate and donate towards the Tsunami relief effort:

Heart For Missions

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A steadily dropping dollar

While President Bush clings to tax proposals and policy largesse which benefit the well off like a life vest, the markets continue to respond to his dangerous fiscal recklessness by seeking refuge on another ship.

Dollar Drops to Record Low Against Euro

Why aren't more Democratic Congress people pointing out the folly of the enormous budget-busting tax package that President Bush wants to make permanent? Why not say, "Now that the war is dragging on we think it would be prudent to restore tax rates to solvent levels. We feel it is unwise to react to a pay-cut by going out on a spending spree, and since we can't stop spending on this protracted war we must restore the revenue. We believe the falling dollar is evidence that the markets are losing faith in America's fiscal discipline, and further that if the situation isn't corrected our debt will become more expensive and add to our debt problems."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ohio GOP Election Officials Ducking Subpoenas

Did John Kerry concede defeat too early?

If Ohio counts all of it's votes will election results change?

Should a Secretary of State, which has authority in an election, be allowed to chair a campaign too?

How long will Ohio's Secretary of State dodge his deposition?

Election Officials Ducking Subpoenas as Kerry Enters Fray in Ohio

Perhaps the fat lady isn't singing?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Toll From Tsunami Rises to More Than 51,000

The Washington Post is today reporting that the death toll from the Asian Tsunami has risen to more than 51,000. That is about twelve times the number of people lost on 9/11, and perhaps the size of a crowd at the Super Bowl.

For whom the bell tolls

As if that weren't bad enough the UN is warning that ground-water has been contaminated by the flooding and Cholera will likely kill thousands more unless aid is swift and sure.

If you wish to make a donation, here is a link to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies:

Asia - Earthquake and tsunamis

We are currently spending about 250 million dollars a day to wage war in Iraq. Wouldn't it be great if the planet used its armies to build and it's riches to feed?

Toto's revelation

Paul Krugman used a great axiom the other day, which I had never heard. He said, "Situations that can't go on forever don't". I'm paraphrasing, but you can hear the quote here, where you can also delight in one of our Dear Leader's best impersonations of a moron:

Paul Krugman on Social Security, the Decline of the Dollar and Healthcare

This story, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, might be evidence that investors are starting to loose faith in an economy that is piling on debt, incurring ever-larger trade defecits, foolishly maintaining the Bush budget-busting tax cuts, and spending like sailors on leave:

Further pressure on the dollar

There is a financial crisis lurking, but it isn't Social Security. That is just a curtain awaiting Toto's revelation. Bark Democrats. Bark.

Here we go again.

Whenever Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld opens his mouth lately bad things happen. For example, during his Christmas eve visit to the troops he said that flight 93 was shot down over Pennsylvania.

Here is what he said,

"I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten – indeed the word 'terrorized' is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be."

I wonder if he meant that the US military shot it down, or if he meant that terrorists shot it down, or if he was simply making more mistakes aloud. If he was misspeaking it seems an odd slip of the tongue, doesn't it?

Something other than that which he wanted to say?

ADDENDUM: A Pentagon spokesman said today, Tuesday the 28th, that Donald Rumsfeld misspoke. Here is a link to the details: Read more...

Monday, December 27, 2004

Bring them home

When you are 80 you learn not to mince words.

Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today and veteran of WWII, speaks bluntly in this editorial and calls on Americans to support our troops by bringing them home, and sooner rather than later:

Reflections at 80

When a veteran says if he were eligible for service in Iraq he'd do "all he could to avoid it" I find that an untidy narrative alongside proclamations to the contrary.

Disaster strikes Asia

Perhaps you, like me, just enjoyed a holiday spent with friends and family. Perhaps you, like me, took a moment to reflect about how fortune smiled upon you.

This mornings news made me feel all the more fortunate and all the more thankful. In the blink of an eye, following a 9.0 earthquake at sea near Sumatra, 23000+ people were killed by tsunami in Asia.

Asia toll tops 23,000

In this moment of disaster I am proud to see the world pull together and offer aid and assistance to the stricken. Humanity longs for brotherhood at a time like this and may those offering it live in peace.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas call and response

Christmas, 0000

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

- Saint Luke -

Christmas, 1924

"Peace upon earth!" was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We've got as far as poison-gas.

- Thomas Hardy -

Friday, December 24, 2004

Invigorating Ownership Society

While campaigning in Albuquerque on August 26th, 2004 President Bush said...

In changing times, if you own your own home, it can help provide stability. The home ownership rate is at an all-time high in America. We'll continue to pursue policies to encourage people to own their own home. There's nothing better than somebody opening that front door and saying, welcome to my house. Thank you for coming to my home. We understand in America that if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country.

Entire speech...

Today's economic news is that new home sales plunged in November to their lowest levels in a decade:

Story here...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush Social Security Plan Worries GOP

When it came to the Medicare prescription drug program, the Bush administration lied about it's costs(Up, up, and away), bullied an actuary into keeping silent (Richard S. Foster), and used a little extortion on the House floor (Nick Smith R-Mich) to get it passed.

Will the same bag of tricks work to turn grandma's Social Security pittance over to Enron?

It will if Republicans are stupid or in on the joke.

It will if Democrats aren't united, organized, and vocal.

Don't get fooled again...

President Bush doesn't exactly have the Midas touch. On the "War on Terror" front: Osama got away, Iraq is a quagmire, North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons, and Iran isn't playing nice. When it comes to his budget prowess: He took over a multi-trillion dollar surplus and his deficit spending, revenue-busting ways turned that into a chasm of debt.

This isn't the kind of person that I want meddling with grandma's rent money. His type of "fixing" is liable to scramble grandma's nest egg and serve it to Ken Lay types with a side order of pork.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Presidential Order Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques

A document released for the first time today [Monday December 20th] by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.


Here is a direct link to the records released in response to the "Torture FOIA Request" filed by the ACLU:

Torture Documents

Flat earthers in the schools

Anybody that has experienced insects adapting to pesticide has seen evolution in action. Why then, do the religious types continue to insist that evolution is a myth?

Open your eyes

I don't know about you, but when I break my leg I want a doctor and not a priest. You can send for the priest in my time of dying.

Doesn't the separation of scientific and religious disciplines keep people from worshiping technology? Wouldn't a blurring of the two lead to science-priests? Do we want that?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Pentagon: At Least 22 Killed in Mosul Attack

At least 22 people were killed and 50 wounded today (Tuesday) on a US/Iraqi base near Mosul. The Pentagon is saying that it doesn't know whether the KIA were US soldiers or Iraqi personnel at this point, but it does know that a dining hall was struck.

At Least 22 Killed in Mosul Attack

It seems ever more clear that we either need more troops in Iraq or we need to get out of Iraq. The current Bush plan to stay with inadequate force protection and no exit strategy is worse than either of these choices.

John McCain has been calling for more troops for a while and John Kerry has also, which means there is bipartisan support for expanding the size of the US military (as opposed to recruiting more weekend warriors). Since President Bush has little chance to secure the help of allies he bullied he might consider this life-saving option immediately.

ADDENDUM: The Boston Globe is reporting that 19 US soldiers died in today's attack, detals here

Rumsfeld cares

After prominent Republicans John McCain, Trent Lott, and Bill Kristol publicly expressed a lack of confidence in Donald Rumsfeld's abilities, President Bush made statements defending him as "caring" and "a good human being".

Donald Dearest

If you were a soldier would you rather have an SOB that provided you with armor, or a caring and good human being that didn't?

Monday, December 20, 2004

On intelligent design

Anyone that has spent time gawking open-mouthed at the contents of a glass jar in a circus freak show knows that the argument for intelligent design ignores compelling evidence which suggests that Darwin was correct. However, if you are one of those people that cannot be swayed even by a trip to Philadelphia's Mütter Museum, then you should follow the ideology of intelligent design to its' logical conclusion.

The ideology of intelligent design argues that since a watch is complicated, then it must have a creator, or watchmaker. It further argues that the watchmaker requires a maker, since he is complicated, and that maker is God.

If one accepts this wishful thinking as science, then one should naturally assume that since God is complicated then He must require a maker. Of course, any deity capable of creating God must be very complicated indeed, and therefore require a maker...

At some point you must either accept that there is a supreme watchmaker in the sky which requires no watchmaker, and therefore invalidate your original premise, or reject the ideology of intelligent design as self-delusional hokum.

Belief in God is a lot like feelings of love, and you should no more expect to quantify it with science then you should expect religion to put a man on Mars. That's why they call it "faith".

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Defense Secretary We Have

I am going to be on the road until Monday so I'll leave you with two good pieces of reading.

The first is an editorial in the Washington Post by Bill Kristol calling for Donald Rumsfed to spend more time with his family:

Please leave Donald

The second is an article written by Marshall Wittmann which offers a roadmap to Democrats:

Learn from history

Until Monday I bid you adieu (that's freedom for farewell).

Trade canyon

Republicans control the House.
Republicans control the Senate.
Republicans control most governorships.
The President of the United States is Republican.

And our trade gap widened by 9 percent in October to a record $55.5 billion dollars.

October's shortfall

You may have heard that a fool and his money are soon parted. If you entrust your money to a fool, the same rule applies.

US firms announce 104,530 job cuts in November

For the third month in a row job cuts exceeded 100,000. For a "strong economy" we sure do bleed a lot of jobs.

Labor let-down

I think it is interesting that many companies suggested the cuts were predicated on rising health-care costs and rising energy costs. Maybe we'd create jobs if we had universal healthcare? Maybe we'd create jobs if we worked on energy independence via stable renewable energy sources?

This can't bode well for the holiday shopping season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Recruiting woes

Hackworth writes on our recruiting woes.

You and what army?

Here is a report of a 70 year old man pulled out of his second retirement to go to Afghanistan:

Geezers going

Meanwhile, another suicide bomber killed a bunch more people in Baghdad, one day after a suicide bomber killed a bunch more people in Baghdad...

War's untidy decimation

Monday, December 13, 2004

McCain says he has 'no confidence' in secretary of defense

Senator John McCain said today (Monday) that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

He then tempered his straight talk by saying his comments were not a call for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation and that the President "can have the team that he wants around him". That seems like spin to me and it also seems like a failure to support the troops in the field. After all, if you have no confidence in Donald Rumsfeld and our troops are suffering because of it, how honorable is it to fail to seek Mr. Rumsfeld's departure?

You can't have it both ways, can you?

Resign Rummy

CIA officer asked to lie to justify Iraq invasion

A CIA employee has, for the first time in US history, filed a lawsuit against the CIA for asking him to falsify intelligene reports, and for then punishing him when he refused to do so.

The spy who wouldn't lie

While I find the notion of an ethical spy comical, perhaps men that have risked so much for the freedom we all enjoy really do take their commitment to the ideals of America to heart instead of for granted. Maybe they think about their own children and how they really do want them growing up in a land of liberty and justice for all. Maybe they can't look into those trusting little eyes and be anything less than a hero unto themselves.

I'll bet the Bush twins don't look to their daddy with trusting little eyes anymore; not if they're smart, anyway.

Seven US Marines die

The happy talk from the Bush administration gets jollier and jollier with images of "free elections" and "a free Iraq" dancing in their heads.

This is contrasted rather abrasively by reality on the ground as 7 US Marines died in combat in Anbar province and there was also a suicide bombing at the Green Zone gates:

Path of my urn

I am terribly worried about our forces in Iraq since they are led by a President that appears more focused on the state of steroids in baseball than developing an exit strategy for Iraq:

Clean up baseball, leave Iraq in shambles

When will we see an exit strategy?
When will we increase the size of our military?
What blunder is big enough to get Donald Rumsfailed "retired"?

Killing is against all religions that I know of, and rather unambiguously at that. Yet, when will our moral leaders walk the walk?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Nickled and Dimed warrior

Remember how audit after audit has shown Halliburton "lost track of" equipment, paper trails, and so on? If not, read this:

Halliburton hides

Remember any consequences?

I bring this up, because 27-year old Spc. Robert Loria served his country in Iraq. During one of his missions a "bomb" (or improvised explosive device, if you prefer) tore off one of his forearms and split his femur.

Then, after going through his rehab he was socked with a $2,000 dollar bill and has his last paycheck confiscated by the accountants at the DOD.

Merry Christmas from the Pentagon

The National Guard missed it's recruitment target for the first time in a decade. Perhaps it is because the ship run by Mr. Rumsfeld is tilting to one side?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Make your own Posted by Hello

Duck Donald

Poor Donald Rumsfeld.

It seems the small matter of MAKING SURE THE HUMVEES HAVE THE BATTLE ARMOR THEY NEED is not a matter of physics after all, but a matter of paperwork.

Armor Holdings, the sole supplier of the protective plates, says it could boost Humvee armor output by 22% with no investment.

The only thing it needs, it seems, is a request from Mr. "the dog ate my homework" Rumsfeld.

Donald you might want to duck.

I hope the people involved in this bureaucratic quagmire sort it out before more troops are maimed for want of armor.


Rumsfeld follies

It has been a while since a really good Rumsfeldian sentence has surfaced, but this article highlights a beauty. Mr. Rumsfailed is being hounded for his "don't blame me blame physics" excuse, unable to escape pursuit even in India. When he gets his dander up his mouth usually makes poetic speech.

In this case, responding to a US soldier's questions about "hillbilly armor" he said, "I don't know what the facts are, but somebody certainly is going to sit down with him and find out what he knows and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know".

Rumsfeld Responds

How can the Secretary of defense get away with saying "I don't know what the facts are" when soldiers have been raising this issue publicly for three years? Doesn't that admission highlight rather glaring incompetence?

Whatever happened to boots on the ground?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Democrat's Da Vinci Code

Conventional wisdom says that "Common sense ain't all that common." Well, David Sirota has just written a masterpiece to bolster that rare commodity among Democrats.

Road to recovery

I shall say a prayer tonight that Democrats read and heed his advice. Brian Schweitzer did and it got him places in Montana.

Rumsfeld cornered

After 3 years our troops are "digging through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor their vehicles". Well, understandably, they're getting sick of it because their lives are on the line.

Recently a few brave soldiers brought Rumsfeld to task over it.

Give us armor!

The President should have brought Rumsfeld to task a long time ago.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry.

Snow won't go

On Monday the New York Times reported that:

"A definite decision has been made to replace Snow as soon as a successor is named, an adviser to the White House told the newspaper"

Tonight the AP is reporting that:

"Treasury Secretary John Snow, an aggressive champion of the administration's economic policies, accepted President Bush's offer Wednesday to remain in the Cabinet"

Snow staying

This same article says that Anthony Principi is resigning as Veteran Affairs Secretary, making him number 9 out of 15 in the cabinet to leave.

If the AP is right and the NYT is wrong that should be good news, since John Snow said recently that the budget defecit was his number one priority. Now, let's hope he acts on that priority competently.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Military dress and loyalty oaths

What kind of company do leaders that wear military uniforms keep?

Gadhafi wears one.
Castro wears one.
Yasser Arafat wore one.
Mao Tse-Tung wore one.
Saddam Hussein wore one.
Kim Jung Il wears one.
Mushareff wears one.

And, of course, there's this man

You can put a military uniform on a Ken doll and it is pretty meaningless. When you put one on a President it isn't. Beware loyalty oaths which mention blood.


I don't think I've been having enough fun lately. Here's an interesting story that you probably haven't heard about:

Australia's "The Courier-Mail" reported that many people saw UFOs above Darwin on Saturday December 6th:

Close encounters?

I thought nothing of this story until I saw today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, which is analyzing a photograph taken in Darwin Australia. It is interesting that NASA, Bad Astronomy, and Slashdot are all working on the puzzle:

What is it?

I'm sure those little green men will call off their War of the Worlds once they realize we ran out of flu shots, and for that we can thank the Bush administration.


Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about Iran:

Look up!

And the story of the beached whales:

Australian beached whales

That ought to be enough information to assemble a conspiracy theory to compete with the best of them. Any takers?

On storm clouds

Nightmares have a way of shocking you out of dreamland and bringing you back to reality. Apparently the folks at the Economist have done a little tossing and turning beneath their covers:

The cost of neglect

I wonder what they'll be writing once they discover that John Snow was sacked for publicly speaking out about deficit reduction.

And once they read this, they may never get back to a decent night's sleep:

Borrowing a couple trillion

Nor will warm milk help with this one:

Economy slows

The question now is, will they close their eyes to it and roll over.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Snow wonder he's leaving

I recently read an article in the Economist called, "A series of fortunate events" which said:

Far from dismissing deficits, America's economic policy-makers are suddenly talking about little else. On November 17th, John Snow, America's treasury secretary, argued in London that America's fiscal deficit was his "most pressing issue".

I had to shake my head, since the last treasury secretary to talk about deficit reduction was kicked out. I shook it again when it happened to John Snow today:

Goodbye Mr. Snow

I think the folks at the Economist are struggling so hard to find a silver lining they are creating their own reality. In this world, one either shows loyalty beyond reason or is shown the Whitehouse door.

Sometimes a storm cloud really brings a storm.

President Bush in Canada

Think about this statement:

Canada should join the US in a missile defense shield because to remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada.

Then read this article:

Applause that didn't come

A missile defense system would have been handy against 1950s-era Russia, but I don't know how it will help us pursue Osama and "smoke him out."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Is Torture American?

Molly Ivins asks the question, "Is torture American?" in this article. Hopefully there will be more and more articles about the way America is treating it's prisoners of war (and please don't call them "enemy combatants" since that is pure spin).

Molly makes the point that our soldiers are subject to the standards we use on others (which is what terrifies me about our abuses):

Is This American?

Rather than fire Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the chain of command responsible for torturing POWs at Guantanamo and at Abu Gharaib, President Bush congratulated Mr. Rumsfeld and nominated Mr. Gonzalez for the job of Attorney General.

Now it has come to light that the courts feel that it is fine to admit evidence acquired via torture in trial proceedings.

Is this American?

This is a disgrace and the largest moral failing of my generation. Why is it Americans seem to care more about Barry Bonds use of steroids than whether their country is torturing other human beings?

American's in WWII didn't treat the Nazi Germans this way, so why are we so morally infallible?


ADDENDUM: Remind yourself that Iraq never attacked us before looking at these new torture photos and tell me what your conscience thinks.

Mine screams

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Moore Bashing

One thing that Republicans do successfully is divide and conquer. A terrific example of that in use was the Spotted Owl controversy. By successfully keeping this controversy in the news Republicans got to pit environmentalists against unions while simultaneously hammering them both.

As strategy it was to be admired.

The new Republican strategy seems to be much more cunning and goes something like this. Let the DLC denigrate Michael Moore and MoveOn, while simultaneously hammering all three.

I am not sure how they got the DLC to do their dirty work for them, but I must tip my hat to their sinfully effective (I'll wager) strategy.

Here are some of the details:

Thanks for nothing

The DLC might do well to listen more and blame less, but it is time to stop finger-pointing and expand the tent just a few percentage points. When the odds are stacked against you it is a time to stick together.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Bull Moose

There is a blog called Bull Moose (More Moose, Less Bull) which I like to read. It is written by a former Republican disillusioned with his party and who has a fondness for Teddy Roosevelt.

This post is an amuzing presentation of scandalous hypocrisy among Christian Coalition stalwarts. Stories of gambling, prostitution, deceit, and graft by "the righteous ones" prevail throughout.

Welcome to the Monkey House

The Economic Bill of Rights

The more I think about Republicans the more I realize their goal is to destory (interesting slip) FDR's legacy. Democrats, in my opinion, can capitalize on their assault by reviving FDR's policies and speeches, but by modernizing them.

One interesting thing that FDR did, for instance, was to equate American's economic well-being with security. He felt, essentially, that a man that can't eat is neither free nor safe. A farmer that can't make a living from the sale of his goods is not secure.

After WWII FDR wanted to remake America with an Economic Bill of Rights, and here is what that looked like:

The Economic Bill of Rights

The best expression of this idea that I heard in 2004 was produced by Dennis Kucinich, when he called poverty a weapon of mass destruction. It was also present in his speeches about healthcare-induced poverty.

Here is an interview with Thomas Frank, author of "What's the matter with Kansas?", in which he talks about the Economic Bill of Rights briefly. It is an interesting article in which he also reduces the Democrat's message to two points, security and equality.

I'll have to study up on FDR because I think the past might unlock the future for progressives, and I hope we don't have to wait for the robber barons to collapse the banking system first.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Slave states equal Bush states

There was a map which made the rounds of the web and which speaks volumes, I think, about American unity. If you compare the pre civil-war slave states to states which voted for Bush you'll see much the same map.

Uncanny correlation

Does this mean we should divide America again and let the red states teach creationism in the schools, plant a bible in every courtroom, and fly the confederate flag?

Sometimes I feel like the folks who think faith in God and evolution are mutually exclusive live on another planet, anyway, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad. If listenting to them talk about New York City is any indication, maybe it might even be a win-win situation.

Perhaps the slogan could become, "United we divide, and divided we can stand each other"?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

BBC NEWS Iraq log

Here is a link to the BBC's Iraq log, which answers the question, "What is life like for ordinary Iraqis and others caught up in events?"

Iraq log

Three surprises for you

Here are three surprises for you:

1. The Pentagon wants 10 to 11 thousand more troops in Iraq.
2. Some soldiers will have to stay in Iraq longer.
3. Some troops will get to deploy to Iraq earlier.

Happy Holidays from the Pentagon

John Kerry's idea to increase the size of our armed forces by 40,000 to relieve the pressure on military families looks even better with hindsight.

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin