Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harper's Weekly - 7/31/07

Iraqis took to the streets after the national soccer team beat Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the Asian Cup championship. At least four people were killed by “happy fire” in the midst of what were reported to be the largest spontaneous celebrations in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. “Sport brings us together while the heads of everything in Baghdad can't bring us together for five years,” said one reveler. “If the Iraqi football team ruled us, peace would spread in our home.” Each member of the Lions of the Two Rivers will receive $10,000 from the government, but a decision about whether to allot players their own 400-square-meter plots of land has been put off until September.1 2 3

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Britain of “colonial thinking” for demanding the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, who is suspected of murdering former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko,4 and Bulgarian medics who allegedly infected 426 Libyan children with HIV were pardoned and released by their home government. 5

Serbians awaiting a U.N. Security Council decision on Kosovar independence told reporters they no longer cared whether Serbia retained the disputed province. “Kosovo means absolutely nothing to me; I have never been there and I never will go there,” said 38-year-old anthropologist Jelena Simovic. “I am fed up with Kosovo. I just want to live normally.”6

A spokesman said that special international envoy Tony Blair would spend his first official trip to Israel, dubbed “Mission Impossible,” in “listening mode,”7 and an Israeli study concluding that hummus stimulates serotonin production bolstered sentiment that eating the popular chickpea dip could help Israelis and Palestinians reconcile.8

YouTube and CNN co-hosted a debate for the Democratic presidential candidates at The Citadel in South Carolina. After a YouTuber asked the candidates to say something they liked and something they disliked about the candidate to their left, John Edwards said that he approved of Hillary Clinton's record of national service, but perhaps not her salmon-colored jacket. Additional questions came from a Viking, a five-year-old, a snowman, and a man in a chicken costume.1

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney described Hillary Clinton's economic plan as “out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx”2 and letters written by Senator Clinton during her undergraduate years at Wellesley College were made public. One described her childhood sense of being the only person in the universe. “I'd play out in the patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms in front of our house,” wrote the 19-year-old Clinton, “and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras watching my every move.”3

A Washington, D.C., newspaper ranked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi number four on a list of the “50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill.” Other honorees included congressional aides, a Washington Redskins cheerleader, and a police officer.4
Dick Cheney's biographer revealed that the vice president once considered his future post a “cruddy job.”5

President George W. Bush delivered a speech intended as a “surge of facts” to refute claims that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is not connected to Osama bin Laden,1 and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified that no one in the Bush Administration had voiced objections to the NSA's wiretapping program. FBI director Robert Mueller testified that the surveillance program was “much discussed” by other officials, and Senate Judiciary chair Patrick Leahy of Vermont sent Mr. Gonzales a transcript of his testimony and asked him to “mark any changes you wish to make to correct, clarify or supplement your answers so that, consistent with your oath, they are the whole truth.”2

The publisher of Weekly World News announced that the publication would end its 28-year print run next month, 3 and a men-versus-machine poker match showed humans to be the superior bluffers.4

Law-enforcement agents issued decks of playing cards featuring missing-persons cases to Florida convicts,5 a prisoner in Ft. Lauderdale was convicted of indecent exposure for masturbating in his cell,6 and Wisconsin inmates brawled over Woody Allen's marriage to Sun Yi Previn.7

Two Wisconsinites who had locked a seven-year-old boy in his room while they watched a Green Bay Packers game were each sentenced to several months in jail. The couple claimed to have left the boy peanut butter and jelly, bread, and a bucket for a toilet. “What do you do?” the defense attorney asked the judge. “Maybe this coming football season,” he continued, “lock them in a room with a bucket and make them watch Bears games.”9

A blonde woman wearing only stilettos and a gold bracelet bought a pack of cigarettes at a German gas station before climbing back into the passenger seat of a waiting Ferrari.10

A 70-year-old British grandmother was convicted in the honor killing of her son's estranged wife,11 and a Rhode Island cat was reported to have received a wall plaque for his “compassionate hospice care” in predicting the deaths of two dozen residents of a nursing home. According to staff members, when Oscar curls up next to someone, that patient has less than four hours to live.12

Indonesian lawmakers discussed implanting microchip tracking devices in HIV patients,13 and scientists said that obesity can spread like a virus among friends.14

Fast-growing supermassive black holes fed like piranhas on cosmic gases,15 a panel found that NASA had allowed astronauts to fly drunk,16 and a crew member at the International Space Station tossed half a ton of garbage into orbit. “Jettison!” cried the astronaut. “Our spaceship earth is a beautiful place.”17

Monday, July 30, 2007

Al Gore's Live Earth pledge


1. To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

2. To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become "carbon neutral;"

3. To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2;

4. To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation;

5. To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

6. To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

7. To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

Maharishi spawn

Meditators predict Dow 17,000, near U.S. utopia
By Ayesha Rascoe Mon Jul 30, 2007

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks had a tough week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst one-week point drop in five years, but a group of meditators promise their good vibrations will send the index past 17,000 within a year.

A group called the Invincible America Assembly made that claim and more on Friday, insisting they have America's prosperity under control and their positive vibes will bring fewer hurricanes and better U.S.-North Korean relations.

Through group transcendental meditation the assembly -- which has 1,800 people meditating daily in Iowa since it was formed in July 2006 -- releases harmonious waves which benefit all aspects of U.S. life, spokesman Bob Roth told Reuters.

And the group's leader, John Hagelin, said when that number reaches 2,500 within the next 12 months, America will see a major drop in crime and the virtual elimination of all major social and political woes.

Asked what it would take to achieve world peace, Hagelin said such a utopia would need 8,000 meditators.

The group takes credit for, among other things: the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a record high of 14,022 last week, unemployment rates falling to a six-year low at 4.5 percent, and North Korea shutting down its nuclear reactor.

It operates two facilities in Iowa, where followers practice several hours of transcendental meditation each day.

"This is not praying for peace, this is not sending out positive thoughts for peace," Roth said. "This is diving deep into one's own consciousness."

Hagelin compared the Assembly's use of transcendental meditation to the invention of electricity and other advances.

"We have control over things we didn't have control over before. That's the progress of science," Hagelin said.

And while most people may be skeptical of the ability of meditation to bring such change, Roth said the Assembly was not going to try to change people's opinions.

"We're not trying to convince anyone of anything," Roth said. "We're just doing it."

Gonzalez protecting Cheney?

Several of the current administration deserve to be impeached, charged with treason, and shipped off to Gitmo. They make Bill Clinton's lying about a blowjob look like the tiniest of infractions.

From Mother Jones:

Cheney Big Brother?

Last week, increasingly beleaguered attorney general Alberto Gonzales exasperated Senators with another round of dubious testimony concerning everything from warrantless domestic surveillance to authorizing torture to US attorneys firings. But on one point, Gonzales' prevaricating may have been to protect his career benefactor Bush not from direct responsibility, but from something else. Gonzales refused to tell Senators who had ordered him to go to then ailing attorney general John Ashcroft's hospital bedside to try to coerce him to sign off on a domestic spying program that then acting attorney general James Comey had refused to reauthorize.

There are growing signs that Cheney was behind the whole incredible series of events that culminated with Gonzales and former chief of staff Andy Card being sent to a nearly comatose Ashcroft's bedside on March 2004 with an envelope with the orders to reauthorize the NSA domestic spying program. Former deputy attorney general James Comey had previously testified about the extraordinary scene at Aschroft's hospital bed.

Yesterday, Newsweek revealed that it was Cheney who briefed the "Gang of Eight" Congressional leaders on the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program the day of the controversial Gonzales Ashcroft hospital visit:

Late on the afternoon of March 10, 2004, eight congressional leaders filed into the White House Situation Room for an urgent briefing on one of the Bush administration's top secrets: a classified surveillance program that involved monitoring Americans' e-mails and phone calls without court warrants. Vice President Dick Cheney did most of the briefing. But as he explained the National Security Agency program, the lawmakers weren't fully grasping the dimensions of what he was saying.

Today, via TPM, a New York Times editorial says that it was Cheney who ordered Gonzales to Ashcroft's bedside.

Is "Fredo" Gonzales protecting Bush not from acknowledgement that he ordered the attempted end run around the acting attorney general on warrantless domestic spying, but rather from the revelation that he had turned over the keys on the issue to Cheney?

Word of the Day - Quisling

The Word of the Day for July 28 is:

quisling \KWIZ-ling\ noun

: one who commits treason : collaborator

Example sentence: The country is ruled by a puppet government composed of quislings.

See a map of "quisling " in the Visual Thesaurus.

Did you know? Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian army officer who in 1933 founded Norway's fascist party. In December 1939, he met with Adolf Hitler and urged him to occupy Norway. Following the German invasion of April 1940, Quisling served as a figurehead in the puppet government set up by the German occupation forces, and his linguistic fate was sealed. Before the end of 1940, "quisling" was being used generically in English to refer to any traitor. Winston Churchill, George Orwell, and H. G. Wells used it in their wartime writings. Quisling lived to see his name thus immortalized, but not much longer. He was executed for treason soon after the liberation of Norway in 1945.

Wipe your disk

Time was a re-formatting of your hard drive was a task to be avoided like the plague. It would take hours on the telephone with Tech Support. For some reason, Tech Support would practically jump to that conclusion: "You should scrub your hard drive."

Nowadays, a lot of computer companies give you a "Recovery" disk that you simply insert into your drive and, in the case of Toshiba at least, simply hold the "C" button down when booting.

Our three-year-old Toshiba (Windows) laptop has been on a steady decline lately. The "blue screen of death" was becoming a daily happening. Finally, after setting up my new Apple network, the Toshiba quit connecting wirelessly to the net at all. So, after backing up all the music and photos to an external hard drive, we decided to scrub the Toshiba's hard drive.

It was amazingly simple. Took about one hour. And, voila, after scrubbing, the Toshiba now connects instantly to the Apple network and stays there. The boot-up and shut-down sequence now takes under one minute, when it was taking up to 10 or 15. And the internet connection is faster than its ever been. It could always be faster (see the Krugman article below), but we'll take what we get for now. And now that we've wiped all the clutter we've accumulated after three years with the machine, the whole thing responds better. It's like we have a brand-new machine.

So, don't be afraid, citizen. Do a good backup, and wipe that disk.

Paul Krugman - An Immoral Philosophy

An Immoral Philosophy
Published: July 30, 2007
When a child is enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.
Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

But President Bush says that access to care is no problem — “After all, you just go to an emergency room” — and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he’s declared that he’ll veto any Schip expansion on “philosophical” grounds.

It must be about philosophy, because it surely isn’t about cost. One of the plans Mr. Bush opposes, the one approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate Finance Committee, would cost less over the next five years than we’ll spend in Iraq in the next four months. And it would be fully paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes.

The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage — a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children’s health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments.

So what kind of philosophy says that it’s O.K. to subsidize insurance companies, but not to provide health care to children?

Well, here’s what Mr. Bush said after explaining that emergency rooms provide all the health care you need: “They’re going to increase the number of folks eligible through Schip; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a — I wouldn’t call it a plot, just a strategy — to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care.”

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further “federalization” of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It’s not because he thinks the plans wouldn’t work. It’s because he’s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’t do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush’s philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it’s hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn’t. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan “in any form,” because “its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas.”

But it has taken the fight over children’s health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you’re afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.

And the public understands that. According to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans — including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans — support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program.

There is, it seems, more basic decency in the hearts of Americans than is dreamt of in Mr. Bush’s philosophy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Al Gore: The Next 44 Days

The Huffington Post
Al Gore: The Next 44 Days
Posted July 17, 2007 10:13 AM (EST)

The time has come to have a serious discussion about Al Gore and about whether or not you want him to run for president because let's be honest with each other, Al Gore doesn't have to run.

He can go forward and fight his fights from the outside in. He can run a different campaign and keep winning it. If you were Al Gore, you probably wouldn't run either. Do I think he would lose a lot of momentum if and when it's clear he isn't running for President? Hell yes. But he would still have plenty to do.

But I'm here to say: we need Al Gore.

Not from a "wouldn't it be great and make the perfect t.v. movie moment and we fade from hanging chads to confetti at The White House" but from a real deep need: this country needs Al Gore.

Al Gore thinks he is a lousy politician, he's right. He is. We need some lousy politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say. We need some lousy politicians who can't stop themselves from rolling their eyes when a member of the press asks a moronic question. We need someone who points out how stupid the captions are on t.v. shows. We need Al Gore.
Al Gore lost a race in 2000 that shouldn't have even been close. I love this about him as a potential candidate. We need someone who has run the race and lost because only someone who has lost can win in 2008. Why?

Someone who has lost will laugh when the consultants tell him what they want to charge. (20 million for six months work in the McCain campaign for example, that's what these people think is reasonable and those A-Holes will get jobs with someone else just you watch.)

Someone who has lost will stick to what they think. Someone who lost and left DC will look at DC and say hmm, I lived there? What was I thinking?

Besides I don't need another a candidate to learn from losing. Gore lost and learned. Kerry lost and someday will learn. I don't need Barack or Hillary or Edwards to learn from losing - I need someone who has lost to win by learning from a previous lost.

Furthermore, for a Democrat to win, and I truly believe this, we need to run an entirely different kind of race. When I see John Edwards's first tv commercial or read Mark Penn's strategy memo or see Barack's response to 'the troops not being funded,' I don't see anyone who has much of a clue.

How about a Presidential Campaign that is new media driven where the candidate actually gets new media? How about a Presidential Campaign that has a contribution limit of $500 per person? How about a Presidential Campaign that's about YouTube and bloggers and the soul of new media? Not just the bells and whistles of a souped up traditional campaign.

Hell, how about a campaign that isn't run by, for and about Washington and instead have one that is by, for and about the people?

Paging Al Gore.

We also need a Democratic candidate who publicly and loudly called the Iraq War a mistake right from the beginning. We need a candidate who didn't vote without reading the intelligence and is now trying to correct a mistake.

We need someone who was right from the start. Because let me tell you - if you think Iraq is a mess now, wait till the end of this year - and seriously, two of our three candidates voted for the war and the other, to be fair, wasn't on the stage at the time. Of course, then there's the guy who called it a disaster before it actually was one.

That would be Al Gore.

We need a Democratic candidate who has seen the worse the other side has to offer; who has seen how they fight and how they win. We need someone who understands the evil within the opposition. We need someone who is willing to bring a gun to the gunfight. Say Al Gore.

We need a Democratic candidate who understands how the issue of climate change is impacting our world from a security standpoint, from a poverty and education point, we need someone who can use signing statements for someone other than torture. Al Gore springs to mind.

And unfortunately so do two other things. The first is that Al Gore is not a candidate and has no plans to be a candidate as of today, July 17, 2007. I promise you that this is true. There are no plans, no secret committees, no planning sessions, nada, nothing.

However, the door is not completely shut because Al Gore likes to say something like "I don't know what I would have to see to change my mind but I would know it if I saw it."

Guess what? The only thing Al Gore needs to see is a mirror.

Because the only person who can stop Al Gore is Al Gore. And clearly, he needs a kick the ass on this one. Let me see if I can sum up my message.

Dear Al:

I get you have a great life, I saw you with Cameron Diaz at LiveEarth, I get it. I get you don't don't want to deal with the press, I saw Diane Sawyer soil herself on national tv in her interview with her. I get that answering the same stupid question is annoying.

I get that the other side plays dirty and they love to turn their machine against you and make fun of your energy bills. I get that the campaign trail is a shitty place and the food is bad and you're a long way away from your family. I get that you are making money and having fun and that it's great to work with smart people like Steve Jobs. I get that we ignored you in the 1970s and 1980s when you were right about global warming.

I get that you love your time with your family and your wife and your grandchildren.

I get that you're worried the support isn't real. That you will lose again. That it will be like December 2000 all over again. I get the fear. I get that you really really really don't want to run.

I get it. Really, I do. Guess what? I don't care.

Stand up. Let's get to work.


The recent poll out of New Hampshire, the first one to ask the question correctly, clearly shows the support for a Al Gore run is real.

If Al Gore enters the race in New Hampshire, he wins.

If Al Gore enters the race by October 15, he can run a four month campaign and win.

So Al Gore needs to look in the mirror. He needs to see that there is one candidate who can not only win The White House, but win the country back. Al Gore knows his history. In the early days of our country, our forefathers risked everything for this country. Our early leaders ran not for themselves but for their country. Al Gore knows this better than anyone, and Al Gore alone of all the potential candidates out there, needs to respect the history of your country and answer the call.

This then is the core issue. Because the only person who can stand up and get this thing moving is Al Gore. He has to stand up and say:

I am thinking about running.

He doesn't have to be sure. He doesn't have to commit. But nothing is going to happen until instead of saying 'no,' he says 'maybe.'

And he has to do this by September 1. Then he sets up an Exploratory Committee but guess what? His committee is really to explore whether to run or not. He can raise money and then by October 15th, he has to declare. But here's the thing. Money raised to the Exploratory Committee can be donated if not spent. So he could raise the money and say look, if I don't run, here are the ten charities I will give the money to after I pay the bills.

I will only accept donations up to $250 right now.

And if I run, I will accept another $250 from you. No more than $500 per person.

How much would he raise? Well, this has been a debate among the smarter people I know online and whole I certainly don't want to name names here are the numbers.

One prominent online strategist thinks $20 million in a month. Another thinks $30 million. And a lot of people think he could raise $40 million.

Here's how you get to $40 million.

300,000 give an average of $80 for $24,000,000.

64,000 higher end donors give $250 each.

But a funny thing happens if you're Al Gore - what do you need the money for? Television ads? Not sure you really need them. Mainstream media and the online world will carry your messages in a four month campaign.

High priced consultants? I think he learned that lesson too. He can use the money to travel, set up rallies that are free to attend, he can hold concerts like LiveEarth and make them general admission for $25.

He can barnstorm the country and speak to who he wants to, when he wants to. He doesn't have to make fundraising calls or do lots of events. He doesn't have to do tons of one on one interviews and meet the press, because the press will come meet him.

He has $20,000,000 to spend on travel, staff, and signs.

Can he raise $20,000,000? You tell me.

150,000 give an average of $80 for $12,000,000.

32,000 higher end donors give $250 each.

That's what will happen.

So there you have it.

Set up a committee and raise $20 million and worst case, $15 - $18 million gets donated to charity. Set up a committee and you only get $2,000,000 - well, it's still a good month raising money for charity. And people like me shut up.Set up a committee and see if everyone who is blathering like me will put their money where their mouth is. I will. I promise. Set up a committee and see what the polls really do when you're really in the race. Set up a committee and explore.

There can be a million draft Gore posts and a million people who write about him running. There can be a thousand emails sent and a million comments online. I have very smart top political friends who have sketched out fundraising plans. One of the smartest political people I know has a plan for Iowa, ready for the taking.

I know people in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, California, Washington State, they all call me and say "do you think there's a chance?" It's the number one question I get in the traditional press. It's the number one question I get online. And the answer to the question is to set up a committee. Guess who the only person who can answer that question?

Al Gore. And he now has just under 45 days to answer it.

Was Pat Tillman murdered?

I blame Bush. The entire Bush family is a pox on the butt of humanity. Bush has set an example of lying and deceit that runs from the top on down.

New Documents Shed Light On Tillman's Death
CBS News Interactive: Military 101

(AP) SAN FRANCISCO Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors -- whose names were blacked out -- said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.
The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:

-- In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

-- Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

-- The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

-- No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene -- no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.

In more than four hours of questioning by the Pentagon inspector general's office in December 2006, Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers' testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.

At one point, he said: "You've got me really scared about my brain right now. I'm really having a problem."

Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week."

Nothing is going to bring Pat back. It's about justice for Pat and justice for other soldiers. The nation has been deceived," she said.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.

"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.
Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.

Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.

The documents also shed new light on Tillman's last moments.

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."

Case dismissed

My wife was in a car accident about a month ago. No one was hurt at all, except for the cars needing some repair. Fortunately, we have auto insurance. Amazingly, the other guy had insurance too! Wow!!

The policeman that arrived on the scene wrote him a citation for hitting her, and wrote her a citation for crossing the double-white line while she was exiting the freeway. People cross the double-white lines all the time. You're not supposed to. He wasn't really sure that she HAD crossed it, and, of course, she denied that she had.

At the scene, the cop told her that he NEVER went to court, so all she would really have to do is show up and the judge would dismiss the case, since this cop never showed up. Ok. She figured she'd show up on July 26. It probably didn't hurt that she was wearing a low-cut blouse that day with her tits all high and perky. (Hey, at least he didn't shove her into his police car and rape her.)

Rather than just pay the fine, you can go to court to contest it. So yesterday she goes to court. Or tries to.

Before you get to court, you have to park. (This is Houston, after all. We don't put too much stock in mass transit 'round these parts.) Naturally, the lot by the court was full, so the overflow goes to private lots. She got charged $10 to park, a rather outrageous amount down hyar.

When she gets inside, the clerk could not find her name on the list. She had fingernails about six inches long. While she was looking, she kicked the cable under her computer and knocked out all the computers in her area. It takes 10 minutes to boot everyone back up.

Then she discovers, "Oh, your case was dismissed on July 10."

"Well, why wasn't I notified so that I wouldn't show up today?" my wife asked, reasonably.

"You're supposed to get a letter," said the clerk.

"I haven't gotten a letter," my wife replies.

So she didn't have to show up at all and pay $10 just to be told that she didn't need to show up. Ah, the bureaucracy.

Looking on the bright side, there will be no black mark on her driving record for this. The whole incident cost $10. Well, that, plus the insurance company hitting us for the $300 deductible to get the car fixed. And it's still in the shop, so we have a rental. Our insurance covers up to $25/day for a rental, but try and find a decent-sized car for $25/day. So, we're paying an extra $10/day for a mid-sized car.

So, $10 for the parking. $300 deductible. And $10/day for the rental, and we will have the car for about 30 days, so another $300.

But no one was hurt, so we can look on the bright side.

Don't cross the double-whites.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


It's the Merriam-Webster word of the day! Remind you of anyone?

monocracy \muh-NAH-kruh-see\ noun
: government by a single person

Example sentence: After years of subjugation, the citizens of the country rose up against the oppressive monocracy.

Did you know? In society's search for the best kind of government, the suffix "-cracy" (which means "form of government" and traces to the Greek "kratos," meaning "strength" or "power") has worn many hats. "Monocracy" pairs "-cracy" with a descendant of "monos," meaning "alone" or "single." The suffix also underlies other governmental terms including "democracy" ("government by the people"), "aristocracy" ("government by a small privileged class"), "theocracy" ("government by divine guidance"), "ochlocracy" ("government by the mob"), and "gerontocracy" ("rule by elders").

Sign up for the Word of the Day via the Web

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harper's Weekly - 7/24/07

psst! the links are active!

Executive power was transferred to Vice President Dick Cheney for two hours and five minutes while President George W. Bush underwent a routine colonoscopy. Spokesman Scott Stanzel announced that five small polyps had been removed, but “none appeared worrisome,” and the president was soon able to ride his bike.1 2

Prior to the procedure, Bush issued an order requiring the CIA to stop torturing its prisoners and to comply with the Geneva Conventions as the president interprets them, and also made clear that he would, by invoking executive privilege, refuse to allow the Justice Department to pursue any contempt charges that Congress might bring against his aides. “The next step,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman (D., Calif.), “would be just disbanding the Justice Department.”3 4 5

India's parliament elected Pratibha Patil as the country's first female president,6 and it was announced that the United States would have a woman as president on the next season of “24.”7

The Pentagon accused Senator Hillary Clinton of reinforcing “enemy propaganda” when she asked whether the Bush Administration had an exit plan for the Iraq war,8 and, despite an all-night debate, Democratic senators failed to invoke cloture and bring to vote a measure requiring the majority of U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. 9

In Baghdad two people died and 15 were wounded in the celebration following the Iraqi soccer team's 2–0 victory over Vietnam;. 10

the former King of Afghanistan died in Kabul.11

A steam pipe exploded near Grand Central Station and rained debris on midtown Manhattan,1 and tangled clumps of worms fell from the sky in Jennings, Louisiana.2

Former congressman Tom DeLay gave a speech about abortion to a gathering of college Republicans in Washington, D.C. “If we had those 40 million children that were killed over the last 30 years,” said DeLay, “we wouldn't need the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today.”3

Police recovered a seven-week-old boy from the middle of a road in Ohio, where his naked mother had placed him in order to appease Satan,4 and a newborn was found in a trashcan at a Denny's in Anaheim, California; a 17-year-old girl with blood dripping down her legs was discovered nearby, having just shared a meal with her family.5

IHOP, which serves more than 700 million pancakes each year, announced that it would buy Applebee's for $1.9 billion,6 7 and a new biofuel-recycling and -filling station capable of processing 5,000 gallons of cooking grease per day was about to open in Blair, Wisconsin. “America's obesity problem,” said a co-owner, “is our lifeblood.”8

Authorities estimated that 20 tons of meat are smuggled into Oslo, Norway, each week.9

In China, where flooding has killed hundreds of people this summer, the rampant Yangtze River had caused Dongting Lake to overflow, leading two billion rats to flee to the Hunan countryside, where there are few predators to reduce their numbers, as the snakes have been eaten by southerners and the owls have been used for medicine. Besieged farmers were poisoning the rats, beating them with hammers, and sending them, live, by truckload to restaurants in Guangzhou, where diners pay 136 yuan for a kilogram of ratmeat.10 11 12

A Beijing journalist was detained for fabricating a story about street vendors stuffing their dumplings with cardboard.13

Japan was gradually rearming itself. “Bombing,” said Col. Tatsuya Arima, “does not always mean offensive weapons.”1

The final book of the Harry Potter series, in which Hedwig dies, was released in the United States and sold 8.3 million copies within 24 hours,2 3 4 and in Britain a six-year-old boy hanged himself with a skipping rope.5

A man with a needle sticking out of his arm crashed his car into a Cincinnati, Ohio, drug treatment center,6 Nicole Richie let it be known that she dates only circumcised men,7 and Oprah Winfrey's dog died when it choked on a ball. 8

Recently filed court documents described how Henry T. Nicholas III, the billionaire founder of Broadcom, built a $30 million underground sex bunker in Laguna Hills, California, and stocked it with prostitutes flown in by private jet,9 and it was reported that during intercourse the owners of private submarines are sometimes troubled by peeking dolphins.10

A French geologist stated that a newly discovered underground lake in Darfur, which was expected to help bring peace to the water-starved region, likely dried up at least 5,000 years ago,11 and near Kakadu National Park in Australia, Jeffrey Lee, the last surviving Djok, was refusing to allow an estimated $5 billion in uranium to be mined from the Koongarra deposit, a “djang” or spiritual place where there lives a giant blue-tongued lizard that must never be disturbed, and where the rainbow serpent has entered the land. “I can go fishing and hunting,” said Lee. “That's all that matters to me.”12

Crazy world, eh?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Frank Rich - I Did Have Sexual Relations

Uh, yeah, prostitution IS STILL ILLEGAL, isn't it?

July 22, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
I Did Have Sexual Relations With That Woman

IT’S not just the resurgence of Al Qaeda that is taking us back full circle to the fateful first summer of the Bush presidency. It’s the hot sweat emanating from Washington. Once again the capital is titillated by a scandal featuring a member of Congress, a woman who is not his wife and a rumor of crime. Gary Condit, the former Democratic congressman from California, has passed the torch of below-the-Beltway sleaziness to David Vitter, an incumbent (as of Friday) Republican senator from Louisiana.

Mr. Vitter briefly faced the press to explain his “very serious sin,” accompanied by a wife who might double for the former Mrs. Jim McGreevey. He had no choice once snoops hired by the avenging pornographer Larry Flynt unearthed his number in the voluminous phone records of the so-called D.C. Madam, now the subject of a still-young criminal investigation. Newspapers back home also linked the senator to a defunct New Orleans brothel, a charge Mr. Vitter denies. That brothel’s former madam, while insisting he had been a client, was one of his few defenders last week. “Just because people visit a whorehouse doesn’t make them a bad person,” she helpfully told the Baton Rouge paper, The Advocate.

Mr. Vitter is not known for being so forgiving a soul when it comes to others’ transgressions. Even more than Mr. Condit, who once co-sponsored a bill calling for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, Mr. Vitter is a holier-than-thou family-values panderer. He recruited his preteen children for speaking roles in his campaign ads and, terrorism notwithstanding, declared that there is no “more important” issue facing America than altering the Constitution to defend marriage.

But hypocrisy is a hardy bipartisan perennial on Capitol Hill, and hardly news. This scandal may leave a more enduring imprint. It comes with a momentous pedigree. Mr. Vitter first went to Washington as a young congressman in 1999, to replace Robert Livingston, the Republican leader who had been anointed to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. Mr. Livingston’s seat had abruptly become vacant after none other than Mr. Flynt outed him for committing adultery. Since we now know that Mr. Gingrich was also practicing infidelity back then — while leading the Clinton impeachment crusade, no less — the Vitter scandal can be seen as the culmination of an inexorable sea change in his party.

And it is President Bush who will be left holding the bag in history. As the new National Intelligence Estimate confirms the failure of the war against Al Qaeda and each day of quagmire signals the failure of the war in Iraq, so the case of the fallen senator from the Big Easy can stand as an epitaph for a third lost war in our 43rd president’s legacy: the war against sex.

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush and his running mate made a point of promising to “set an example for our children” and to “uphold the honor and the dignity of the office.” They didn’t just mean that there would be no more extramarital sex in the White House. As a matter of public policy, abstinence was in; abortion rights, family planning and homosexuality were out. Mr. Bush’s Federal Communications Commission stood ready to punish the networks for four-letter words and wardrobe malfunctions. The surgeon general was forbidden to mention condoms or the morning-after pill.

To say that this ambitious program has fared no better than the creation of an Iraqi unity government is an understatement. The sole lasting benchmark to be met in the Bush White House’s antisex agenda was the elevation of anti-Roe judges to the federal bench. Otherwise, Sodom and Gomorrah are thrashing the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition day and night.

The one federal official caught on the D.C. Madam’s phone logs ahead of Mr. Vitter, Randall Tobias, was a Bush State Department official whose tasks had included enforcing a prostitution ban on countries receiving AIDS aid. Last month Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network succeeded in getting a federal court to throw out the F.C.C.’s “indecency” fines. Polls show unchanging majority support for abortion rights and growing support for legal recognition of same-sex unions exemplified by Mary Cheney’s.

Most amazing is the cultural makeover of Mr. Bush’s own party. The G.O.P. that began the century in the thrall of Rick Santorum, Bill Frist and George Allen has become the brand of Mark Foley and Mr. Vitter. Not a single Republican heavyweight showed up at Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Younger evangelical Christians, who may care more about protecting the environment than policing gay people, are up for political grabs.

Nowhere is this cultural revolution more visible — or more fun to watch — than in the G.O.P. campaign for the White House. Forty years late, the party establishment is finally having its own middle-aged version of the summer of love, and it’s a trip. The co-chairman of John McCain’s campaign in Florida has been charged with trying to solicit gay sex from a plainclothes police officer. Over at YouTube, viewers are flocking to a popular new mock-music video in which “Obama Girl” taunts her rival: “Giuliani Girl, you stop your fussin’/ At least Obama didn’t marry his cousin.”

As Margery Eagan, a columnist at The Boston Herald, has observed, even the front-runners’ wives are getting into the act, trying to one-up one another with displays of what she described as their “ample and aging” cleavage. The décolletage primary was kicked off early this year by the irrepressible Judith Giuliani, who posed for Harper’s Bazaar giving her husband a passionate kiss. “I’ve always liked strong, macho men,” she said. This was before we learned she had married two such men, not one, before catching the eye of America’s Mayor at Club Macanudo, an Upper East Side cigar bar, while he was still married to someone else.

Whatever the ultimate fate of Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, it is the straw that stirs the bubbling brew that is the post-Bush Republican Party. The idea that a thrice-married, pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights candidate is holding on as front-runner is understandably driving the G.O.P.’s increasingly marginalized cultural warriors insane. Not without reason do they fear that he is in the vanguard of a new Republican age of Addams-family values and moral relativism. Once a truculent law-and-order absolutist, Mr. Giuliani has even shrugged off the cocaine charges leveled against his departed South Carolina campaign chairman, the state treasurer Thomas Ravenel, as a “highly personal” matter.

The religious right’s own favorite sons, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, are no more likely to get the nomination than Ron Paul or, for that matter, RuPaul. The party’s faith-based oligarchs are getting frantic. Disregarding a warning from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said in March that he didn’t consider Fred Thompson a Christian, they desperately started fixating on the former Tennessee senator as their savior. When it was reported this month that Mr. Thompson had worked as a lobbyist for an abortion rights organization in the 1990s, they credulously bought his denials and his spokesman’s reassurance that “there’s no documents to prove it, no billing records.” Last week The New York Times found the billing records.

No one is stepping more boldly into this values vacuum than Mitt Romney. In contrast to Mr. Giuliani, the former Massachusetts governor has not only disowned his past as a social liberal but is also running as a paragon of moral rectitude. He is even embracing one of the more costly failed Bush sex initiatives, abstinence education, just as states are abandoning it for being ineffective. He never stops reminding voters that he is the only top-tier candidate still married to his first wife.

In a Web video strikingly reminiscent of the Vitter campaign ads, the entire multigenerational Romney brood gathers round to enact their wholesome Christmas festivities. Last week Mr. Romney unveiled a new commercial decrying American culture as “a cesspool of violence, and sex, and drugs, and indolence, and perversions.” Unlike Mr. Giuliani, you see, he gets along with his children, and unlike Mr. Thompson, he has never been in bed with the perverted Hollywood responsible for the likes of “Law & Order.”

There are those who argue Mr. Romney’s campaign is doomed because he is a Mormon, a religion some voters regard almost as suspiciously as Scientology, but two other problems may prove more threatening to his candidacy. The first is that in American public life piety always goeth before a fall. There had better not be any skeletons in his closet. Already Senator Brownback has accused Mr. Romney of pushing hard-core pornography because of his close association with (and large campaign contributions from) the Marriott family, whose hotel chain has prospered mightily from its X-rated video menu.

The other problem is more profound: Mr. Romney is swimming against a swift tide of history in both culture and politics. Just as the neocons had their moment in power in the Bush era and squandered it in Iraq, so the values crowd was handed its moment of ascendancy and imploded in debacles ranging from Terri Schiavo to Ted Haggard to David Vitter. By this point it’s safe to say that even some Republican primary voters are sick enough of their party’s preacher politicians that they’d consider hitting a cigar bar or two with Judith Giuliani.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Porno for Women

If you cannot read the text, click on each pic to make it bigger (and you may want to get your eyes checked).
P.S. I have no idea why some of these images won't open into a new window when you click on them. Some will. Obviously it must be another Blogger issue. You can still hold your cursor over them and save them to disk or send them in an email, if you are of a mind.

Marureen Dowd - Hey, W! Bin Laden Still Determined

July 18, 2007
Hey, W! Bin Laden (Still) Determined to Strike in U.S.

Oh, as it turns out, they’re not on the run.

And, oh yeah, they can fight us here even if we fight them there.

And oh, one more thing, after spending hundreds of billions and losing all those lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re more vulnerable to terrorists than ever.

And, um, you know that Dead-or-Alive stuff? We may be the ones who end up dead.

Squirming White House officials had to confront the fact yesterday that everything President Bush has been spouting the last six years about Al Qaeda being on the run, disrupted and weakened was just guff.

Last year, W. called his “personal friend” Gen. Pervez Musharraf “a strong defender of freedom.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be Al Qaeda’s freedom. The White House is pinning the blame on Pervez.

While the administration lavishes billions on Pakistan, including $750 million in a risible attempt to win “hearts and minds” in tribal areas where Al Qaeda leaders are hiding and training, President Musharraf has helped create a quiet mountain retreat, a veritable terrorism spa, for Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to refresh themselves and get back in shape.

The administration’s most thorough intelligence assessment since 9/11 is stark and dark. Two pages add up to one message: The Bushies blew it. Al Qaeda has exploded into a worldwide state of mind. Because of what’s going on with Iraq and Iran, Hezbollah may now “be more likely to consider” attacking us. Al Qaeda will try to “put operatives here” — (some news reports say a cell from Pakistan already is en route or has arrived) — and “acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material in attacks.”

(Democrats on cots are ineffectual, but Al Qaeda in caves gets the job done?)

After 9/11, W. stopped mentioning Osama’s name, calling him “just a person who’s now been marginalized,” and adding “I just don’t spend that much time on him.”

This week, as counterterrorism officials gathered at the White House to frantically brainstorm on covert and overt plans to capture Osama, the president may have regretted his perverse attempt to demote America’s most determined enemy.

W. began to mention Osama and Al Qaeda more recently, but only to assert: “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.” His conflation is contradicted by the fact that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, as the Sunni terrorist group in Iraq is known, did not exist before 9/11.

Fran Townsend, the president’s homeland security adviser, did her best to put a gloss on the dross but failed. She had to admit that the hands-off approach used by Mr. Musharraf with the tribal leaders in North Waziristan, which always looked like a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup, was a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup.

“It hasn’t worked for Pakistan,” she conceded. “It hasn’t worked for the United States.”

Just as we outsourced capturing Osama at Tora Bora to Afghans who had no motive to do it, we outsourced capturing Osama in Pakistan to Mr. Musharraf, who had no motive to do it.

Pressed by reporters on why we haven’t captured Osama, especially if he’s climbing around with a dialysis machine, Ms. Townsend sniffed that she wished “it were that easy.” It’s not easy to launch a trumped-up war to reshape the Middle East into a utopian string of democracies, but that didn’t stop W. from making that audacious gambit.

The Bushies, who once mocked Bill Clinton for doing only “pinprick” bombings on Al Qaeda, now say they can do nothing about Osama because they can’t “pinpoint” him, as Ms. Townsend put it. She assured reporters that they were “harassing” Al Qaeda, making it sound more like a tugging-on-pigtails strategy than a take-no-prisoners strategy.

We’ve had it up the wazir with Waziristan. Surely there are Army Rangers and Navy Seals who can make the trek, even if it’s a no-man’s land. If it were a movie, we’d trace the saline in Osama’s dialysis machine, target it with a laser and blow up the mountain.

W. swaggers about with his cowboy boots and gunslinger stance. But when talking about Waziristan last February, he explained that it was hard to round up the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders there because: “This is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.”

Yes, they shoot with real bullets up there, and they fly into buildings with real planes.

If W. were a real cowboy, instead of somebody who just plays one on TV, he would have cleaned up Dodge by now.