Friday, August 25, 2006

NYT Agrees Again

Wanted: Scarier Intelligence - New York Times:
"All in all, this is a chilling reminder of what happened when intelligence analysts told Vice President Dick Cheney they could not prove that Iraq was building a nuclear weapon or had ties with Al Qaeda. He kept asking if they really meant it — until the C.I.A. took the hint."

Actually, anybody with half a brain can see that the Repuglicans are at it again, trying to increase the fear quotient so people will be frightened into voting the status quo instead of trying something new that could actually be tremendously better for everybody this November. I hope that America has come to its collective senses when it comes to political ploys like this and are sick and tired enough of it all to vote for a change this fall. If not, we may never get the chance to live freely and without fear again; not because of anything Al Qaeda or Iran or anyone else outside our borders can do, but because we voted away our rights and freedoms based on fear and farce propagated from within.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not Terror?

My Way News - Dutch Gov't: Incident Not Terror-Related:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The interrogation of 12 men who were removed from a Northwest Airlines flight after they aroused the suspicions of air marshals and crew produced no evidence of terrorism, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.

Flight NW0042 to Bombay, India, returned to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Wednesday escorted by Dutch fighter jets, and the 12 were questioned and arrested.

'So far there are no signs that this was a terrorist threat,' said ministry spokeswoman Judith Sluiter.

She declined to say why the men remained under arrest, and the investigation was continuing. Authorities have three days to bring the suspects to court or release them. They were held overnight at a detention center at the airport.

A U.S. government official said crew members and air marshals aboard the Northwest DC-10 bound for Bombay saw the passengers trying to use cell phones and passing them among themselves while the jet was taking off. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

'It was behavior that average passengers wouldn't do,' the official said.

India's CNN-IBN television news channel reported Thursday that all 12 men were Indian-born, although their current residence was not clear.
It's not terror-related, but we're not letting them go? Hmmm. So what is it?

It Gets Worse Anyway

WP: Bush shows pessimism on Iraq - Highlights -
But with midterm elections just 2 1/2 months away, Bush and his team are trying to turn the public debate away from whether the Iraq invasion has worked out to what would happen if U.S. troops were withdrawn, as some Democrats advocate. Using such terms as 'havoc' at Monday's news conference, Bush made no effort to suggest the situation in Iraq is improving. Instead, he argued: 'If you think it's bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself.'

Christopher F. Gelpi, a Duke University scholar whose research on public opinion in wartime has been influential in the White House, said Bush had little choice.

'He looks foolish and not credible if he says 'We're making progress in Iraq,' ' Gelpi said. 'I think he probably would like to make that argument, but because that's not credible given the facts on the ground, this is the fallback. . . . If the only thing you can say is 'Yes, it's bad, but it could be worse,' that really is a last-ditch argument.'
Of course, what the pResident fails to address is that staying there isn't making things any better, either. We can't win, so he wants to make sure the admission of loss is made by the next guy, not him. Putz!

Lamont Gaining Ground

My Way News:
"HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's lead over anti-war challenger Ned Lamont has narrowed to a razor-thin margin, two polls showed on Wednesday."

That's what happens when you ignore your constituents (and the blogosphere/netroots). At this point, it's within the margin of error of the polls. Lamont can win it, and we're pulling for him all the way. Go, Ned, go!

Thought Policing In Action

Evolution Major Vanishes From Approved Federal List - New York Times:
"Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students."

The Ed. Dept. says it was dropped off the list by mistake, but nothing else was dropped, and that makes for a very suspicious "coincidence" to accept. I think they were hoping nobody would notice except for the students who would have to chose some other major and might not know they should complain about the omission. Guess they weren't thinking about the colleges and professors who offer the major. Actually, I would guess they weren't "thinking" at all.

NYT Agrees With Cosmogenium

Losing Afghanistan - New York Times:
The democratically elected Karzai government is a big improvement over any of its recent predecessors. But it has not brought security, economic revival or effective governance to most of the country. That has left it vulnerable to complaints about blatant corruption, the pervasive power of warlords and drug lords, and escalating military pressure from a revived and resupplied Taliban.

Nearly five years after American military forces help topple a Taliban government that provided sanctuary and training camps to Osama bin Laden, there is no victory in the war for Afghanistan, due in significant measure to the Bush administration’s reckless haste to move on to Iraq and shortsighted stinting on economic reconstruction.
The situation in the Middle East makes me sick. The current administration here can't administrate itself out of a paper bag, let alone help other nations rid themselves of terror and corruption. We're losing the war on terror as well as the war for oil.
Americans are coming to see the war in Iraq as something apart from the war against 9/11-style terrorism — and a distraction from it. The war in Afghanistan has always been an essential part of that larger struggle. That makes it a war that America simply cannot afford to lose.


Phantom of the Options - New York Times:
Fiddling with the dates of stock options doesn’t sound that nefarious. And unlike in the Enron case, with its spectacular implosion and shattered retirement accounts, the victims are a lot less obvious.

But just because the victims are harder to spot doesn’t mean that secretly backdating or otherwise manipulating the timing of an options grant is a victimless crime. Rigging the timing of option grants hurts both the company and its shareholders, usually for the greater enrichment of top executives.
I have a conservative friend who thinks corporations should run the world (as if they don't all ready). This piece names just one of the reasons I disagree. They can't be trusted. They're not elected by the workers. They are motivated by greed and avarice. They break even their own rules. They cheat on taxes. They bribe government. Need I go on?

Heal, Pluto! Heal!

My Way News - Astronomers Say Pluto Is Not a Planet

Here We Go Again

Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.
Think this administration wouldn't make the same mistake (on purpose) twice? Think about it.
The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.

“We’re not in a court of law,” he said. “When they say there is ‘no evidence,’ you have to ask them what they mean, what is the meaning of the term ‘evidence’?”
So it would seem that the "errors" the intelligence community made in the run-up to the Iraq war are now causing the community to err on the side of caution when it comes to Iran? Yet somehow this is construed as being a reason to suspect Iran of more than the intelligence people are saying, of being a more dangerous enemy than appearances would show. But isn't that exactly what the administration said and did before the invasion of Iraq? They had to pressure the intelligence people to find "evidence" that supported their case for war and ignore the building evidence that Iraq posed no threat.
Many senior Bush administration officials have long been dismissive of the work of the intelligence agencies. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon set up an office led by Douglas J. Feith, the Defense Department’s third-ranking civilian official at the time, that sifted through raw intelligence to look for links between terrorist networks and governments like Iraq’s.
Now that the intelligence community has learned from their prior mistakes (getting burned by all sides in the process), they are telling the administration that there is no immediate threat from Iran based on what little evidence they have one way or another. Yet this is being cited by that same administration as reason to believe the opposite yet again! This is bizzarro-land wing-nut logic at its most insidious and dangerous level. The powers-that-be must be aware that they are going to lose their position come November unless they can present to the American people a stronger case for maintaining the status-quo, and yet another war, yet another stirring of the hornets' nest, may be their only way of managing this. This is the politics of fear at it's worst. We must not be manipulated like this again. They must be stopped, and as soon as possible!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kids Learn Better In Public Schools

Study of Test Scores Finds Charter Schools Lagging - New York Times:
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — Fourth graders in traditional public schools did significantly better in reading and math than comparable children attending charter schools, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Federal Education Department."

I don't have children, so this is more of a separation of church and state issue for me. Since the charter schools don't necessarily (or just don't) give better educational experiences, I can't even imagine a reason for using public funding to support them, let alone the First Amendment issue of separation. Here in New York, Governor Pataki and the Republican senate keep increasing funding to school "vouchers" over the protests of the Democratic house. If parents are using those vouchers to send their kids to charter schools, as most analysts say they are, they are ill-advised to do so. In any case, it should not be allowed under the Constitution. I don't know if anyone has challenged the voucher program here yet. Does anyone else know?

Bush Campaigns For Bigot

My Way News - Bush to Raise Cash for Allen

Another One Bites The Dust

My Way News:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski lost his bid for a second term on Tuesday, making him the first incumbent Alaska governor in 20 years to be unseated in his party's primary election.

Murkowski conceded the race to former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin about two hours after the polls closed and pledged to support her.

Palin, running a campaign that portrayed her as a reformer bucking the state's Republican establishment, will now face former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in November's general election.
Gonna' be a rough year for incumbents. All ready is! Notice that in this case, the challenger was portrayed "as a reformer bucking the state's Republican establishment." In other words, she was portrayed as a Democrat! Interesting strategy, that. Wonder how well that will work in November?

Hearts And Minds They Are A'Changing

Poll Shows a Shift in Opinion on Iraq War - New York Times:
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."

Even the pResident admitted once again that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Iraq was never and should never have been conjoined with Al Qaeda in the hearts and minds of the people, but the conservative media machine did just that in order to gain support for a war no thinking individual wanted. Bush is wrong. We did stir up a hornet's nest when we invaded Iraq. Most Americans know what to do when they are confronted by a nest of hornets. They get away from it as quickly as possible.

Nation Faltering

Nation Faltering, Afghans’ Leader Draws Criticism - New York Times:
The insurgency, along with the other issues, has brought an eruption of doubts about Mr. Karzai, who is widely viewed as having failed to attend to a range of problems. That has left more and more Afghans asking what the government is doing.

Corruption is so widespread, the government apparently so lethargic and the divide between rich and poor so gaping that Mr. Karzai is losing public support, warn officials like Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Amazing, isn't it, how easily the name of the country and its respective leader could be switched to, say, Iraq or maybe the U.S., and it would still seem to be accurate? For example:

The insurgency (in Iraq), along with the other issues, has brought an eruption of doubts about Mr. Bush, who is widely viewed as having failed to attend to a range of problems. That has left more and more Americans asking what the government is doing.

Corruption is so widespread, the government apparently so lethargic and the divide between rich and poor so gaping that Mr. Bush is losing public support....

See what I mean? Apparently we are spreading the BushCo brand of democracy to every country we invade and doing it so well it's having the same effect there as here. Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sisyphus Shrugged Does A Great Job

Sisyphus Shrugged

Of following the real issues concerning the Lamont-Leiberman and other races to watch. I heartily recommend this blog for those who want to stay informed and love to consider the details.

DK Knows The Message

Daily Kos: State of the Nation:
"Even conservatives (voters, not pundits who are paid to ignore the facts) know something's wrong in Washington. That's why the polls look the way they do. Running against a culture of corruption has limited value. Running against a culture of conservatism mixed with a track record of clear-cut incompetence and corruption is what the American people need to see from Democrats this fall."

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

CT US Senate: "Lieberman and Lamont Tied in Connecticut"


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