Thursday, October 27, 2005

"I'm mad as hell. . ."

Network dates back almost 30 years ago. It was satire at the time, but I saw it again a few months ago and it seemed like prophesy.

"We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true. But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube. You eat like the tube. You even think like the tube. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion."

Hung out to dry

At last the long National Nightmare is over and done with. Miers, as it turns out, isn't as hopelessly lame as I thought. She wisely saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to withdraw from consideration for the Supreme Court nomination. Would that Bush had such judgement.

I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House - disclosures that would undermine a President's ability to receive candid counsel.

So exactly what part of the above lame excuse did they not know about before they nominated her?

This blog says it best:

It's not news that Bush seems genetically incapable of accepting the blame for anything. But because of his own precedent-setting incompetence, a loyal aide and a good person was hung out to dry needlessly. An accomplished woman will be remembered as "that failed, unqualified joke of a nominee." And at the end of it all this president lacks the cojones to stand in front of a microphone and take the blame. Instead, we get a shameful red herring about access to internal documents. This is cowardice, not leadership. And at this point, it's utterly unsurprising.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Aeon Flux

This kind of thing is always arguable, but Charleze Theron is a pretty hot looking woman. Amazing face I actually sculpted in clay once from pictures when I didn't have access to my actual model. I came pretty close to a likeness and in doing so came to appreciate what perfect classical facial features she has. She's got some other nice features as well as talent. The girl can act. Monster, was evidence of that

Aeon Flux was a pretty neat Sci-Fi video that ran on MTV back in the day. Way ahead of it's time and fairly trippy. Anyway, somebody put Charleze in black tights and dark hair so she could do this movie, out December 2nd.

Why is this man smiling?

HOUSTON - U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Thursday turned himself in at the Harris County sheriff's bonding office, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and released on bond on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.
"He posted $10,000 bond and they have left the bonding office," Lt. John Martin with the sheriff's department said.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Oh, God, make her stop

Please, make her stop. Miers keeps getting quoted saying the most bizarre things:

I was with him on Sept. 11th, 2001,' she said in June. 'The nation witnessed a resolute, determined, strong leader who swiftly responded to the challenges our country faced. . . . I believe I can say for all of us here, never were we so proud to be Americans, and never were we so proud of a president and first lady.

Ia!! Ia!! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Harriet Miers R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Ia!! Ia!!!

The envelope, please

The Fitzgerald thing is driving me nuts.

There are so many tantalizing bits of speculation floating around, the majority of which are probably wrong, but the ones that almost gives me goosebumps is:
almost all of the members of the White House Iraq Group have been questioned by Fitzgerald. "The team, which included senior national security officials, was created in August 2002 to 'educate the public' about the risk posed by weapons of mass destruction on Iraq.

"Evidence is building that the probe conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, has extended beyond the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name to include questioning about the administration's handling of pre-Iraq war intelligence."

Top of the list of all things Festus has done to piss me off hopping mad was the manipulation of intelligence to sell us into going to war with Iraq. Largely because I fell for it lock, stock and barrel, but partly because it's sorta dangerous to have a president making up sh*t to justify doing whatever he wants.

But possibly even better than going into the whole stovepiped intel thing is the suggestion that before Festus leaves the White House:
Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband, and Wilson "said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

"If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then- President Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time."

Oh, my, God. The poetic justice of it all. Can you say "politics of destruction"?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Accidental honesty

Condi Rice has accidentially said something truthful. Too bad she didn't know it at the time.

The fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al Qaeda . . . Or we could take a bolder approach, which is to say we could go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism that was produced there and that meant a different kind of Middle East. And there is no-one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Husein still in power. . .

Let's rephrase that, shall we? The key phrase is "Or we could. . ." That means "we knew we could have gone after al Qaeda, but we chose not to. We decided instead to attempt regime change in defiance of the UN Security Council, valid intelligence of Iraqi WMD's as well as ongoing WMD inspections, and with no competent planning of what we would do once Hussein was taken out."

Without saying it, Condi is admitting that there was no direct connection between 9/11 and the Iraq War, in spite of the 'mushroom cloud" scare tactics they led with in the runup to the war and stuck with for so many months following. They simply saw the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to alter the politics of the Middle East. They sure did that, didn't they. . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mediocre minds think alike

David Brooks of the NYT found some of Miers' scrawlings and sniped the following snarks.

Can Harriet Miers write a lucid Court decision?

If she has difficulty writing and communicating her positions on important judicial decisions, she won't be perceived as a force of her own but rather as a stooge of the President, even after he has left office.

In the early 90's, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called ''President's Opinion'' for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian.

"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."

"We must end collective acceptance of inappropriate conduct and increase education in professionalism."

"When consensus of diverse leadership can be achieved on issues of importance, the greatest impact can be achieved."

"An organization must also implement programs to fulfill strategies established through its goals and mission. Methods for evaluation of these strategies are a necessity. With the framework of mission, goals, strategies, programs, and methods for evaluation in place, a meaningful budgeting process can begin."

I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. She presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.

George Will said it best,

If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a (Supreme Court) justice, Miers' name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's magic

For years now I've been scratching my head every time I plugged my cordless shaver into it's charger and without any electrical contact whatsoever the damn thing recharges. I recall wondering if I'd get shocked if the thing was wet when I placed it in it's base. How do you get electricity from one thing to another without wires?

Today I read of a new gadget that promises to erase the gang of wall warts I have installed to charge up my cell phone and iPod, which I do daily, and learned that it does it's magic by something called inductive coupling which involves a current inducing another current with magnetism. Or something like that.

Imagine the possibilities. Charging your tv remote, laptop, cellphone, digital camera, iPod and every other damn thing manufacturers insist we have a distinct, non-compatible AC brick for, by simply placing them on your coffee table, which is discretly plugged into the wall.

These guys are geniuses, it's gonna be a gangbuster product, too bad the company is private. I can't wait.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


A local nonprofit agency, the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, gave Alaska Airlines a $500,000 grant to paint the jet. The money came out of about $29 million in federal funding U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska and his congressional colleagues have appropriated to the marketing board, created in 2003, to promote and enhance the value of Alaska seafood. The senator's son, state Sen. Ben Stevens, is chairman of the agency's board of directors.

Why not take a moment to email the good senator. . .

More of the Same

From CJR Daily

President Bush's speech yesterday to the National Endowment for Democracy was billed as a major foreign policy pronouncement on the state of the "War on Terror." But it didn't seem to contain much new. The war was framed as it has been for the past four years as a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. The only slight change was that evil was a bit more fleshed-out this time, referred to as "evil Islamic radicalism," "militant Jihadism," and "Islamo-fascism."

There was, however, one piece of breaking news: Bush's announcement that "the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States." Also, "we've stopped at least five more al Qaeda attempts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country."

The Bush administration has never given any details about specific successes in this front of the War on Terror. This was the first time any foiled plans had been mentioned, and it was a pretty dramatic statement on the surface.

Wow, ten serious al Qaeda terrorists plots diverted, that's good news ain't it? But there's more. . .

But only the Los Angeles Times went the full distance here, finding a way to include some important context for this list. In the process, it shed some serious doubt on the significance of these supposed terror-deterring achievements.

"Several senior law enforcement officials" quoted throughout the Times story "questioned whether many of the incidents on the list constituted an imminent threat to public safety and said that authorities had not disrupted any operational terrorist plot within the United States since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

On Padilla, the Times' anonymous senior federal law enforcement officials say there isn't "any evidence of co-conspirators inside the U.S. or other indication that the plot had developed into any kind of operational plan." And as far as the other two planned domestic attacks, these same officials say that, at least the second wave attacks, "apparently never rose to the level of a coordinated plan. The Sept. 11 commission report said that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed ... became 'too busy' to complete the planning for subsequent strikes and that the plots did not progress beyond theoretical stages."

A federal counter-terrorism official added, "I don't think we ever resolved these." These were all plots that were "on the boards, but they never got anywhere," he said. Another federal counter-terrorism expert stated, "Everyone is allowed to count in their own way."

Freedom fries, my ass

I fart in your general direction

Thats a line from Monty Python's The Holy Grail, a rather pithy sentiment and one I'm sure the Nobel Prize committe had in mind to Festus when they gave the 2005 Nobel Peace prize to the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei.

ElBaradei and Festus are old pals, go way back to the UN inspections of Saddam Husein's imaginary weapons of mass destructions. ElBaradei keep trying to point out that Iraq wasn't a viable threat to the US or even the world at large but Festus knew better. Many investigations since have bourne out the fact that Festus was absolutely wrong. Being a bad sport about such things Festus tried to have ElBaradei ousted from the IAEA just a few months ago. Tsk, tsk, tsk. . .

The award was a vindication of a man and an agency long at odds with President Bush and his administration over how to confront Iraq and Iran. It could strengthen the agency's position as conflicts loom over preventing Iran from obtaining fuel it could use for nuclear weapons and disarming North Korea.

For most of the last year, the Bush administration had tried to block Dr. ElBaradei from assuming a third term as chief of the agency, a part of the United Nations, arguing that he would not be strong enough to face down Iran and the covert nuclear weapons program it is suspected of having. But the United States had no support from any of its allies, and ultimately had to withdraw its objections to Dr. ElBaradei's reappointment.

More recently, Dr. ElBaradei has resisted Western pressure to ask the United Nations Security Council to consider sanctions against Iran for its past breaches of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, preferring to coax Iran into compliance.

"It is suspicious," Dr. ElBaradei said in an interview earlier this year, "but I try to explain to my friends in the Bush administration that suspicions are different than conclusive evidence."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why not the best?

I happened to have been listening when Festus announced his choice for the Supreme Court Justice seat. It was somewhat embarrasing that Festus had to dig so deep in Miers resume that he was reduced to dredging up the fact that she served on the Dallas City Council as well as the Texas Lottery Commission. Damn, the suspense is killing me, just how many boxes of Girl Scout cookies does she sell a year?

With the number of sitting Circuit Judges available it's amazing that Festus picks someone who has never been a judge to serve on the nations highest court for the rest of her life. It's testimony to Festus's isolation that he can only think of someone who has been in his bubble with him for the last 5 years to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

But it gets worse, Miers was once quoted as saying that Festus "was the most brilliant man she had ever met." Dunno whether to laugh or cry. . .