Ungodly Politics

"Announcing your plans is a good way to hear god laugh." - Al Swearingen

Friday, April 30, 2004  

I don't often talk about things like sports, but I'm an NBA fan. In particular, a San Antonio Spurs fan. And there's been a lot of complaining about how bad the playoffs are this year. I was just musing about it, and this post resulted.

Here's the problem: David Stern, Marketing GeniusTM decided to extend the first round to 7 games.

This had several effects, all of them bad. First, it virtually eliminates the possibility of an upset. Over seven games, the best team is virtually always going to win. Little things like Lakers/Kings last year are anomalies, the best team almost always wins in seven.

Second, Stern decided to stretch out the first round to maximise television revenue by putting more games on weekends. This means that the first round could, if it goes seven games, last 18 days. That's just insane. Right now, if any series goes 7 games, we'll have the bizarre scenario of a second round series going on at the same time as a first round series' game 2.

Third, it eliminates upsets. Yeah, this is a big deal, so I'll mention it twice. This is what makes the NFL playoffs so much fun, and what makes the NCAA tourney so fun. It's one game, win or go home. In the NBA (and MLB), the best team is going to win.

Another problem is that bad teams hang around too long. This is mostly a problem in the lEastern Conference, where teams like Boston and New York were inflicted on us for a full four games, instead of three.

Here's another problem: Psychology, both for fans and teams. For teams, a five game series meant the road team only had to take one of the first two on the road, then hold home court. That's not too hard to think you can do, just one real upset. But now, you have to win one on the road, then THREE at home. That's a lot harder.

For fans, it's harder to get into the playoffs when there's such a long break between games. For instance, Minnesota played Game 1 on 18 April. They played Game 2 on 21 April. Why in the world did they have that long a break? San Antonio played their first two games in three days. That's reasonable. Four, for a homestand, is pathetic.

The reason for the delay? Higher seeded teams were more stretched out so they'd be playing the majority of their games on weekends. Minnesota didn't play Game Three until April 24. So, that's one week to play three games. Game Five of that series is tonight, 12 days later. The regular season is more packed than that. Game Six is planned for Sundays. Most playoff series go six games. Seems obvious what they're planning, right?

Finally, we're facing the problem of rust in the second round. This is what leads to college bowl games' being so underwhelming; take a few weeks off, then come back and play a hugely important game? Makes no sense.

San Antonio will have been off for a week when they finally play the Lakers on Sunday. Had that series gone seven games, it would have been two weeks. That's another ridiculous scheduling cockup that Indiana may be facing if the Miami/New Orleans series goes seven. Indiana finished off Boston on the 25th. Miami/New Orleans may not finish until May 4th, meaning the next round for this bracket may not start until the 7th or 8th.

The playoffs, sadly, really don't start until the second round anymore. Now's when we start seeing some great matchups. So far, we've got Detroit vs New Jersey, which should be a blast. I can't wait to see Kenyon Martin up against the Wallaces.

The other bracket in the East is likely to be bad, though. Indiana should tear through whoever comes out of the New Orleans/Miami matchup.

The West has two great series starting, though. Sacramento/Minnesota is intriguing. This is the T'Wolves' first foray into the second round, while Sacramento has been through a lot of wars with LA in the past, so they've got experience on their side.

And, of course, we have the classic LA/San Antonio matchup in the other bracket. Now that should be some good basketball.

With the first round constantly giving us such bad matchups, the case for extending it just doesn't hold. More games won't mean more money if the ratings are so low that advertisers won't pay much in the future.

posted by lazarus | 12:22 | |

Thursday, April 29, 2004  

AP Wire | 04/29/2004 | Pledge Omission Brings Rare Reprimand: " In an unusual public reprimand, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi chastised Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington on Thursday for omitting the words 'under God' while leading the House in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
'All House Democrats expect the Pledge of Allegiance to be delivered as it is written with the phrase 'under God' and with respect for the pledge,' said Pelosi, adding that she summoned McDermott to her office on Wednesday to express her displeasure privately.
It is unusual for the leader of a political party to publicly chastise a member of their own rank-and-file, but Pelosi spoke bluntly. 'What I am saying to you is, I completely disagree with that presentation. I have made my view and the view of the House Democrats known to Congressman McDermott, and I don't think you will ever see again a presentation on the floor that will exclude the words 'under God,' the California Democrat said.
Lawmakers take turns leading members of the House in the pledge at the beginning of each floor session, and Tuesday was McDermott's turn.
Several hours after he did so, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, stood on the floor and accused McDermott of 'embarrassing the House and disparaging the majority of Americans who share the values expressed in the pledge.'
'He and those like him stand more for the liberal left than they do for our friends and neighbors,' Sessions said. McDermott, serving his eighth term from the Seattle area, has a solid liberal voting record.
McDermott's spokesman, Mike DeCesare, said the lawmaker had made a mistake. He said the 67-year-old congressman learned the pledge without the phrase 'under God."

The big argument against removing "under God" from the pledge is that nobody is being forced to say it; one can choose not to say the words "under God."

If a sitting US Congressman doesn't have freedom of speech enough to leave out those two words without being publically reprimanded, what choice does a child have?

This is disgusting. Pelosi must go.

posted by lazarus | 18:04 | |

Four Treasury agents track bin Laden and Saddam money, while 21 work Castro:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists told Congress that at the end of last year it had just four full-time employees dedicated to investigating Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's wealth while nearly two dozen were working on Cuban embargo violations."
Well, at least we know where the priorities for this administration are...

posted by lazarus | 02:14 | |

Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

"Iranian clerics have warned the US that a military assault on two holy cities in Iraq would unleash the wrath of Shia Muslims. Their warning was echoed by President Mohammed Khatami, who said it would be 'suicide' for the coalition to attack Najaf and Kerbala, still encircled by US forces."

And away we go....

CNN.com - Coalition issues Najaf ultimatum - Apr 26, 2004: "Top coalition officials Monday issued an ultimatum to Iraqi insurgents in Najaf, warning them to immediately remove stockpiles of weapons from holy sites or face military action.
'Weapons are being stockpiled in mosques, shrines, and schools. This explosive situation cannot be tolerated by those who seek a peaceful resolution to this crisis,' Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said.
About 2,500 U.S. troops are poised outside the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, where an uprising led by anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began three weeks ago.
U.S. helicopter gunships attacked Mehdi Army positions in the Najaf area in an effort to contain those forces Monday, a Coalition Provisional Authority source in Baghdad said."

posted by lazarus | 00:25 | |

Monday, April 26, 2004  

New Iraqi Flag Meets With Public Disapproval (washingtonpost.com): "BAGHDAD, April 26 -- It was supposed to be the perfect symbol for a new and unified Iraq: an Islamic crescent on a field of pure white, with two blue stripes representing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and a third yellow stripe to symbolize the country's Kurdish minority.
But the new national flag, presented Monday after an artistic competition sponsored by the Iraqi Governing Council, appears to have met with widespread public disapproval here -- in part because of its design and in part because of the increasing unpopularity of the U.S.-appointed council.
In interviews in several Baghdad neighborhoods, a variety of residents expressed strong negative reactions to the flag, which was reproduced in most daily newspapers. In particular, people objected to the pale blue color of the crescent and stripes, saying it was identical to the dominant color in the flag of Israel, a Jewish state.
'When I saw it in the newspaper, I felt very sad,' said Muthana Khalil, 50, a supermarket owner in Saadoun, a commercial area in central Baghdad. 'The flags of other Arab countries are red and green and black. Why did they put in these colors that are the same as Israel? Why was the public opinion not consulted?'
Other residents objected to the removal of the phrase, 'God is greatest,' which adorned the previous national flag, and said there was no need for a new one until national elections are held next January and a new constitution is written. "
A graphic demonstration of why the Iraqis have major problems with us, and why the people in charge of Iraq right now are idiots. These must be the same people who came up with "Operation Infinite Justice" and use of the word "crusade" in the region.

The Iraqi flag is it is today:

The flag of Israel:

The new Iraqi flag:

posted by lazarus | 16:48 | |

Yahoo! News - U.S. Troops Enter Najaf, Pressure Militia

And the idiots in our government apparently aren't paying attention to reality. This comes three days after Iranian clerics...warned the US that a military assault on two holy cities in Iraq would unleash the wrath of Shia Muslims."

This is lunacy. It's like attacking Mecca. Is it possible the Bush administration actually wants a Shiite uprising across the Middle East? Because everything they're doing seems calculated to start one.

Indeed, every single decision the Bush administration has made has been as wrong as possible. That seems highly unlikely, so I have to believe they actually want these uprisings.

One other question: does all this seem an appropriate response to having four mercenaries killed and mutilated? After all, we've only lost hundreds of actual real American soldiers, thanks to Bush's failed policies.

posted by lazarus | 05:10 | |

Friday, April 23, 2004  

Okay, it's about time these idiots in our government paid attention to reality instead of their neocon fantasies.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Keep out of Najaf, Iran warns US: "Iranian clerics have warned the US that a military assault on two holy cities in Iraq would unleash the wrath of Shia Muslims.
Their warning was echoed by President Mohammed Khatami, who said it would be 'suicide' for the coalition to attack Najaf and Kerbala, still encircled by US forces.
It would 'mobilise emotions among the world's Shia against the Americans', he added in a statement reported by Tehran newspapers. 'I do not think they will make such a mistake, because if they did they would be caught up in a storm.'
Three senior clerics used stronger language, saying they would issue fatwas (religious rulings) if the pilgrimage sites remained encircled.
'The US should know that the holy city of Najaf is the capital for all the world's Shias and that if the occupiers do not end the encirclement they will be confronted by all Shias,' Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani said, according to the newspaper Hamshahri. "

posted by lazarus | 09:54 | |

Yahoo! News - Denmark's Defense Minister Resigning: "Danish Defense Minister Svend Aage Jensby said Friday he was resigning after lawmakers questioned pre-war intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction. "

Wow, a government official taking responsibility for something. Remarkable.

posted by lazarus | 09:11 | |

Yahoo! News - Cardinal: No Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - In remarks that could influence the U.S. presidential race, a top Vatican (news - web sites) cardinal said on Friday that a Catholic politician who unambiguously supports abortion should be denied communion at Mass.

The cardinal spoke amid a debate in the United States over whether Democrat John Kerry (news - web sites) should be denied communion, which Catholics believe is the body of Christ, because he supports abortion rights.

At a news conference presenting a Vatican document restating standing rules about the celebration of Mass, Cardinal Francis Arnize was reminded of the Kerry case and asked if a priest should refuse communion to a politician who is unambiguously pro-abortion.

It will be interesting to watch the hard core Christian Conservative Protestants Tree-Hugging the Catholics over this one. The Good Cardinal further imperils his church's charitable status...

Arinze, a Nigerian who is head of the Vatican department that establishes regulations on the way the sacraments should be practiced, spoke at a news conference presenting the Vatican document which itself is likely to charge debate on Kerry.

The 70-page document makes no specific reference to politicians but turns the screws on practices that have become common in some local churches, such as joint communion services with non-Catholic Christians.

The section on communion which could apply to Kerry says: "The Church's custom shows that it is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth and that anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession... ."

posted by RogueTrooper | 07:29 | |

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power

To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.
The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters: homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that the "screaming and near fist fights" began.

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.

Bush's support for sharing "terrorist containment" policy was wildly seen as a pitch for the democratically inclined Jewish vote. However, I believe that it was a sop to the religiously insane as George Monbiot so eloquently concludes...

So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of the current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men". They batter down the doors of the White House as soon as its support for Israel wavers: when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian fundamentalists, and never mentioned the matter again.

The electoral calculation, crazy as it appears, works like this. Governments stand or fall on domestic issues. For 85% of the US electorate, the Middle East is a foreign issue, and therefore of secondary interest when they enter the polling booth. For 15% of the electorate, the Middle East is not just a domestic matter, it's a personal one: if the president fails to start a conflagration there, his core voters don't get to sit at the right hand of God. Bush, in other words, stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli aggression than he stands to lose by restraining it. He would be mad to listen to these people. He would also be mad not to.

posted by RogueTrooper | 06:43 | |

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US wants British to move north into heart of Iraq fighting:

"The Ministry of Defence is resisting US pressure on Britain to extend its sphere of military influence in Iraq to some of the most violent parts of the country, including the capital Baghdad.
Britain is being leant on by the US military, although no formal request has been issued, to provide a new headquarters unit in south-central Iraq to replace Spanish troops being pulled out by the new Madrid government. That would take British troops into the troubled town of Najaf, where the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is holed up.
Some British military figures have also been told that UK forces may be asked to undertake a hearts and minds operation inside Baghdad, currently an exclusively US sphere of influence. "

The question is not whether this will happen but how long can the British government deflect pressure from the Bush Administration. If more of the "Coalition of the Willing" remove their troops from harms way expect this pressure to become an administration public clamour. Public consent for deploying British troops currently hangs by a thread. Deploying British troops in Iraq's most dangerous areas, with the resulting butcher's bill, could swing British public opinion in the "Spanish" direction.

posted by RogueTrooper | 05:58 | |

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Does a foetus have more rights than its mother?

Hundreds of thousands of American women are expected to converge on Washington DC this Sunday for a march the organisers claim will be the biggest in the history of women's rights - The March For Women's Lives.
Banners will call for the protection in law of a woman's right to abortion, which George Bush and his chums on the Christian right have energetically been trying to erode. The right to abortion is an issue that attracts a large consensus across different groups of women, and Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston are just some of its high-profile supporters. Heavyweight liberal groups such as the National Organisation of Women and the American Civil Liberties Union will be marching alongside small local groups.

The battle between the pro-choice and anti-abortionist lobbies is well known, but another row about the foetus has been less well publicised: state prosecutors are telling American women exactly what they can and can't do when they are pregnant - and those who disobey are ending up in jail.

And the real skinny...

"The South Carolina case was never about protecting children," says Paltrow. "It was all about punishing the women."

While US law increasingly treats foetuses as cherished royalty, it is a different story once they take their first breath. "The US has a phenomenal disregard for the well-being of families. Almost every problem is seen as one of personal responsibility rather than social or community responsibility," says Paltrow.

"Eleven million children have no health insurance and 25% of them are living below the poverty line. Foetal rights are being used as weapons of maternal destruction. Women have achieved rights in the US but now these rights are hanging by a thread."

posted by RogueTrooper | 03:41 | |

Thursday, April 22, 2004  

Digby over at the american street has a great essay up comparing and contrasting Bush's and Kerry's military fitness evaluations.

Valuable work when somehow having to defend a man with three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star against an AWOL druggie. I'm still perplexed and frustrated that supposedly pro-military people can even consider Bush.

Of course, I'm perplexed and frustrated than anybody could consider voting for Bush, given his record.

posted by lazarus | 01:28 | |

Woman loses her job over coffins photo

"A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle Times.
Silicio was let go yesterday for violating U.S. government and company regulations, said William Silva, president of Maytag Aircraft, the contractor that employed Silicio at Kuwait International Airport."
While I understand that rules are rules, and that protecting the privacy of shipping contents, etc., is critical, we all owe this woman for revealing to the world the truth about the casualties of this war.

Next, we need someone to sneak a camera into Walter Reed and reveal how many of our "wounded" are actually missing limbs. Just saying "wounded" doesn't pass on the impact of what's happening to our young men over there.

Oh, I forgot to mention:
"Maytag also fired David Landry, a co-worker who recently wed Silicio."

posted by lazarus | 01:11 | |

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

My blog code got messed up sometime over the last few days, which explains the lack of posts, etc. My tracking info, archives, everything just disappeared. I'm trying to salvage it now. Any help would be appreciated.

On edit: I've got it mostly corrected, but if anyone knows why my archives aren't showing up, I'd appreciate some insight.

posted by lazarus | 10:56 | |

Saturday, April 17, 2004  

Reuters AlertNet - One dead, 6 wounded in Kosovo, UN police trade fire

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia and Montenegro, April 17 (Reuters) - An American policewoman with the United Nations force in Kosovo was killed on Saturday and four U.S. policewomen were badly wounded in a shootout, said to be with Jordanian police, after a dispute about Iraq, a hospital official said.

A male American officer and an Austrian policeman were also wounded in the shooting at the U.N. compound in the city of Mitrovica, said Milan Ivanovic, deputy head of the Serbian hospital in Mitrovica.

Unconfirmed reports spoke of a total of five dead and 14 wounded in the incident, alleged to have been sparked by a dispute over Iraq between American and Jordanian colleagues.

Worrying Times.

posted by RogueTrooper | 10:35 | |

God Save The Queen

Did you know that Great Britain's current reigning Monarch is incorrectly titled? When Liz ascended to the thrown she took the title of Elizabeth the Second. Now, the sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed what is amiss: During the reign of the "first" Queen Elizabeth there was no Great Britain. At this time Scotland was an independent country ( first by the beheaded Mary and latterly by her son James who was the sixth of that name to rule Scotland.

The Union of the Crowns did not take place until the death of the "Virgin Queen" ( Eliz 1 ) and the ascension of James the Sixth to the Joined Crown of Great Britain. He became the First of Great Britain but the bible he commissioned used his Scottish title. The point of this: You cannot be the second when there is no first.

The latter day Liz decided to take the name Elizabeth 2. There were protests in Scotland when it was found out that she was to take a title that had some unpleasant historical implications for the Scots. The English Crown has prior form for claiming dominion over lands they do not rule: For hundreds of years they claimed to be the rulers of France as well as Scotland when both those lands had monarchs of their own.

She is Queen Elizabeth anything else is, at best, fantasy land and, at worst, treason.

posted by RogueTrooper | 08:51 | |

Nader Claims A Draft Is Imminent

WASHINGTON - Ralph Nader's independent presidential campaign sent an Internet "Message to America's Students" warning that a draft may take place if the war goes on.

"The Pentagon is quietly recruiting new members to fill local draft boards, as the machinery for drafting a new generation of young Americans is being quietly put into place," Nader said. "Young Americans need to know that a train is coming, and it could run over their generation."

I have quite a few issues with the egocentric Ralph Nader. However, I am in complete agreement with the old fool on this issue. As leader of the Green Party, Ralph Nader was a very poor environmentalist. However, as a consumer advocate his is without peer.

There are, currently, insufficient soldiers to meet America's global military commitments. This insufficiency is particularly acute due to the large number of troops currently stationed in Iraq. Worse, these numbers are way below what is actually required and above what can be safely allocated. Even with a change at the top there may be few foreign powers willing to send troops to Iraq. The only countries suitable for this task are democracies and as this Iraq War is universally unpopular amongst the voters of these democracies none of them are prepared to put their troops in harms way. However, if Chris Patton is correct they may not have a choice. Hopefully, they will have the wit to demand Bush's head on a platter before they have to capitulate.

With the Army of One, thanks to the incompetence of the Bush Administration, is no longer the career choice it once was the US is faced with two choices: Capitulation and withdrawal; or the draft. Both of these choices are political suicide for the George W. Bush. In fighting a War of Whim George W. Bush has imperiled the Republic.

posted by RogueTrooper | 08:15 | |

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Blair refused offer of get-out clause on Iraq:

Tony Blair rejected George Bush's offer of keeping British troops out of Iraq, it emerged yesterday, as the two leaders mounted a united front on the year-long campaign.
The US president welcomed his closest ally to the White House on a day when an impressively sourced book by the Watergate journalist Bob Woodward laid bare damaging revelations of their conduct in the run-up to the war.

In the book, Plan of Attack, Mr Woodward writes that Mr Bush offered Mr Blair the option of keeping British troops out of the war because he was so concerned that the government might fall. Mr Blair rejected the offer.

I find it very difficult to ascribe this amount of nobility to George W. Bush. His MO is that of implied threat and coercion, not the Queensbury Rules. I seem to remember that there was a gaggle of the most hard-core neo-cons who opposed Britain's involvement in the ( most recent ) attack on Iraq. You may remember this bon mot from Don Rumsfeld just before hostilities began in ernest. It was not just because they are American First cultural supremacist that caused them to distrust the involvement of Perfidious Albion in their pet war; They found themselves in the position where they could not invade Iran without the permission of the British government.

A British government, with close ties to the government of Iran, was never going to let that happen. Marked down to occupy the southern part of Iraq, the main invasion route into Iran, the neo-cons found themselves in the position of realising they had just swallowed a poisoned pill.

I would guess that George was only representing certain administration "interests" to the British Prime Minister. Tony Blair refused these blandishments for a good reason. War with Iran, on top of a disastrous war with Iraq, would have been the final folly. However this nobility is hardly likely to be recognised back in the UK. Tony has lots of enemies at home, and the most worrying does not come from the left. Step forward Gordon Brown.

posted by RogueTrooper | 07:25 | |

Friday, April 16, 2004  

On A Mission From God
Last night I was watching the ITV ( Britain's oldest commercial TV station ) nightly news. One of their reporters had managed to get an interview with three heavily armed Iraqi "Contractors". The three "civilian contractors" were walking to "work" and the interview went thus...

Lanky English Reporter Guy: "So you off to do a job?"
Short Stocky American Packing Heat: "Eh!?"
L.E.R.G: "What are your thoughts about the mission you are about to go on?"
S.S.A.P.H.: "Nope, this mission is perfectly safe."
L.E.R.G: "What makes you think the mission is safe?"
S.S.A.P.H: "Because I believe in GOD"

At this point L.E.R.G. cannot keep the incredulity from his voice...

Incredulous L.E.R.G: "Why do you think God is going to keep you safe?"
"Righteous" S.S.A.P.H ( straight to camera ): "I guess I am just raised different (sic)".

Now, Great Britain is the most secular nation in the world and this may have been what prompted the reporters incredulity. No doubt he fed into every of the contractors prejudices about foreigners and "media elites" with that comment.
However, when the British press interview somebody from Her Majesty's forces about going into action the squaddie ( or Jasper ) will say that they are going to do "their job" and, when questioned about their feelings the reply is "it's my job". God has no place in the thinking of your average British soldier.
The Contractors were carrying MP5 ( an automatic weapon ) which means that the prohibition on contractors carrying anything other than pistols has obviously been lifted. A worrying development considering their inability to rationally judge the dangers around them.

posted by RogueTrooper | 08:40 | |

Wednesday, April 14, 2004  

The Australian: Iraqi 'beaten to death' by US troops [April 14, 2004]

AN Iraqi has died of his wounds after US troops beat him with truncheons because he refused to remove a picture of wanted Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr from his car, police said today.

The motorist was stopped late yesterday by US troops conducting search operations on a street in the centre of the central city of Kut, Lieutenant Mohamad Abdel Abbas said.

After the man refused to remove Sadr's picture from his car, the soldiers forced
him out of the vehicle and started beating him with truncheons, he said.

I am not sure how this is being covered in the Arabic press but I can only expect the worst.

posted by RogueTrooper | 08:53 | |

Here's an interesting paragraph from Bush's "press conference" last night:

"One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we're asking questions, is, can you ever win the war on terror? Of course, you can. That's why it's important for us to spread freedom throughout the Middle East. Free societies are hopeful societies. A hopeful society is one more likely to be able to deal with the frustrations of those who are willing to commit suicide in order to represent a false ideology. A free society is a society in which somebody is more likely to be able to make a living. A free society is a society in which someone is more likely to be able to raise their child in a comfortable environment, and see to it that that child gets an education."
"False ideology"? Is there any way to interpret this other than he's calling Islam a false ideology, again?

posted by lazarus | 08:42 | |

Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

LIHOP, MIHOP or Emmanuel Goldstein

posted by RogueTrooper | 12:55 | |

Mail and Guardian Online: Half the Iraqis killed were civilians: "Half the Iraqis killed in the United States offensive in the town of Fallujah were women, children and elderly people, a mediator said on Tuesday, but US officials insisted they take all precautions to avoid non-combatants.

Fouda Rawi, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party that is spearheading efforts to negotiate a ceasefire in the city west of Baghdad, quoted hospital sources as saying more than 600 Iraqis had been killed and 1 250 wounded.

'Among those killed were 160 women, 141 children and many elderly,' he said, providing the first precise figures on the number of civilian deaths from the nearly week-long offensive."

According to my calculations, that means that a mercenary is now equal to just over 35 children. So long as they're Iraqi children.

posted by lazarus | 08:12 | |

I'm starting to think that Iraq is not our Viet Nam. It isn't even our West Bank.

It's our Afghanistan. Yeah, I know we're in Afghanistan, I'm talking about the other empire that decided to move in there.

The USSR was shown to be a paper tiger in Afghanistan, just as we are in Iraq. So far, our intel has been shown to be faulty, when people used to think we knew everything that happened. And now our military is no longer looking invincible.

Thanks, George.

posted by lazarus | 06:27 | |

First the troops are running out of ammo, now food and water? Yeah, this whole privatisation thing has been a great idea so far.Halliburton Suspends Some Iraq Supply Convoys:

"Halliburton Co. has suspended some convoys delivering supplies to the military in Iraq due to escalating violence, U.S. Army and company officials said Monday, raising the danger of shortfalls in food, fuel and water supplies if the situation continues."

posted by lazarus | 05:48 | |

Friday, April 09, 2004  

From MSNBC comes a disturbing story, with reports from injured soldiers in the field. In particular, I found this alarming and infuriating.

Cpl. Richard Stayskal, a 22-year-old Marine from San Jose, Calif., arrived in Landstuhl Tuesday after being wounded by automatic weapon fire in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. “I just kind of froze, my body clenched in the fetal position. I fell to the ground," Stayskal said. Stayskal, a sniper, had been deployed to Ramadi to hunt down a "mad bomber," the unit's name for a man who had been seen planting roadside bombs targeted at U.S. and coalition forces.

With little warning, a group of 15 armed Iraqis descended on the lightly armed unit. The bullet that hit Stayskal ricocheted off his shoulder, through his lung and exited from his back. It came within inches of his heart and major arteries.

Countering the insurgency, Stayskal said, has been difficult for Marines on the ground. In his case, his unit was chronically short of ammunition, and his support unit got pinned down at the same time across town. The two units couldn't help each other. "They weren't giving us nearly enough ammunition for the situations out there. Everyone was running out. Everyone was grabbing each other's ammunition."
Chronically short of ammo? How does this happen? This report from The Seattle Times way back in January explains it.
"The U.S. military's only plant making small-arms ammunition is running at near capacity, 4 million rounds a day, and the United States still is forced to look overseas and to the recreational industry for ammunition for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and those training to deploy there soon.
Gen. Paul Kern, commander of the Army Materiel Command, said Friday that giving those units priority ensured they had enough small-arms ammunition. 'Everyone else will have to pay the price' and wait for it, he said. "
Yes, General, I think some people are, indeed, paying the price.

posted by lazarus | 14:41 | |

Condi is a liar. Can we get her for perjury, since Clarke fell through?

Claim vs. Fact: Rice's Q&A Testimony Before the 9/11 Commission - Center for American Progress

"CLAIM: 'One of the problems was there was really nothing that look like was going to happen inside the United States...Almost all of the reports focused on al-Qaida activities outside the United States, especially in the Middle East and North Africa...We did not have...threat information that was in any way specific enough to suggest something was coming in the United States.' [responding to Gorelick]
FACT: Page 204 of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 noted that 'In May 2001, the intelligence community obtained a report that Bin Laden supporters were planning to infiltrate the United States' to 'carry out a terrorist operation using high explosives.' The report 'was included in an intelligence report for senior government officials in August [2001].' In the same month, the Pentagon 'acquired and shared with other elements of the Intelligence Community information suggesting that seven persons associated with Bin Laden had departed various locations for Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.' [Sources: Joint Congressional Report, 12/02]"

posted by lazarus | 01:46 | |

Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

Salon.com News | Powell cautions Kennedy on Iraq remarks

Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to be more careful in criticizing the war in Iraq after the Massachusetts Democrat called the conflict "George Bush's Vietnam.''

Kennedy "should be a little more restrained and careful in his comments because we are at war,'' Powell said Tuesday on Fox News Radio's "Tony Snow Show.''
Meantime, Bush is taking a week off at the "ranch" in Crawford (actually, closer to Waco).

Yeah, we're at war, all right.

posted by lazarus | 13:29 | |

Yahoo! News - U.S. Terrorism Policy Spawns Steady Staff Exodus

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism.

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

Some also left because they felt President Bush had sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the "war on terror," former counterterrorism officials said.
But Richard Clarke is a liar, because Condi said so. That's the same Condi who's been in charge of Iraq for the past six months. How are things going over there, Condi?

posted by lazarus | 13:10 | |

They are People Too
From Baghdad Burning

Falloojeh has been cut off from the rest of Iraq for the last three days. It's terrible. They've been bombing it constantly and there are dozens dead. Yesterday they said that the only functioning hospital in the city was hit by the Americans and there's no where to take the wounded except a meager clinic that can hold up to 10 patients at a time. There are over a hundred wounded and dying and there's nowhere to bury the dead because the Americans control the area surrounding the only graveyard in Falloojeh; the bodies are beginning to decompose in the April heat. The troops won't let anyone out of Falloojeh and they won't let anyone into it either- the people are going to go hungry in a matter of days because most of the fresh produce is brought from outside of the city. We've been trying to call a friend who lives there for three days and we can't contact him.

This is supposed to be 'retaliation' for what happened last week with the American contractors- if they were indeed contractors. Whoever they were, it was gruesome and wrong. I feel for their families. Was I surprised? Hardly. This is an occupation and for those of you've enough to actually believe Chalabi and the Bush administration when they said the troops were going to be 'greeted with flowers and candy' then I can only wish that God will, in the future, grant you wisdom.

This is crazy. This is supposed to be punishment for violence but it's only going to result in more bloodshed on both sides, people are outraged everywhere- Sunnis and Shi'a alike. This constant bombing is only going to make things worse for everyone. Why do Americans think that people in Baghdad or the south or north aren't going care what happens in Falloojeh or Ramadi or Nassriyah or Najaf? Would Americans in New York disregard bombing and killing in California?

We were all Americans that day.

And now Muqtada Al-Sadr's people are also fighting it out in parts of Baghdad and the south. If the situation weren't so frightening, it would almost be amusing to see Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom describe Al-Sadr as an 'extremist' and a 'threat'. Muqtada Al-Sadr is no better and no worse than several extremists we have sitting on the Governing Council. He's just as willing to ingratiate himself to Bremer as Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom. The only difference is that he wasn't given the opportunity, so now he's a revolutionary. Apparently, someone didn't give Bremer the memo about how when you pander to one extremist, you have to pander to them all. Hearing Abdul Aziz Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom claim that Al-Sadr is a threat to security and stability brings about visions of the teapot and the kettle.

Now there's an arrest warrant with his name on it, although the Minister of Justice was on tv claiming he knew nothing about the arrest warrant, etc. He basically said that he was washing his hands of any move against Muqtada Al-Sadr. Don't get me wrong- I'd love to see Muqtada behind bars, but it will only cause more chaos and rage. It's much too late for that... he has been cultivating support for too long. It's like a contest now between the prominent Shia clerics. The people are dissatisfied- especially in the south. The clerics who weren't given due consideration and a position on the Governing Council, are now looking for influence and support through the people. You can either be a good little cleric and get along with Bremer (but have a lot of dissatisfied people *not* supporting you) or you can be a firebrand cleric and rally the masses...

From Where is Raed...

Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort of timing is that it: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers.

God help us but George W. Bush is a fool of a man.

posted by RogueTrooper | 10:41 | |

On Wolf Blitzer's whorefest last night, Al Franken got a chance to beat up on Michael Graham. While he did a fine job, I thought he missed a beautiful opportunity to finish this rightwing talking point off before it gets started. Here's the setup, and the RW talking point.

"SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: How do we reestablish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share? And how can we possibly expect President Bush to do that? He's the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam. And this country needs a new president.


BLITZER: Explosive words, Michael. What do you say?

GRAHAM: It's absolutely outrageous.

First of all, I love hearing the favorite senator of the United States distillery association on any topic whatsoever. But when I hear a member of his end of the party use Vietnam, what I understand -- and Al Franken can perhaps clarify this -- I understand him stay saying that it's an immoral war that we cannot win. I reject that on behalf of the troops on both sides.

I wish he would say that standing in front of the one of the rape rooms we closed down about the immorality part. And, as far as we can't win, I have no doubt that our troops can win this war. Our troops have been winning wars like this for years. And they have the tools. They have the ability. This is -- I cannot think of a statement more designed to undercut the troops in the field than calling this a Vietnam. He dropped the V word on our troops. And I'm outraged by it."
Al went into a discussion about how Kennedy used Viet Nam as a "quagmire", etc., but the point has passed on and the insult has been framed. We have to slam the insult back at them:

RESPONSE: How dare you say that! Are you insulting our veterans from Viet Nam, telling them they couldn't win the war, that they were too incompetent to win? What kind of talk is that?

The biggest problem in Viet Nam is the biggest problem today: The lack of leadership in Washington. Political leadership lost us the war then, and it's losing us the war, and our reputation around the world, today.

That's the response to make.

posted by lazarus | 10:22 | |

Tuesday, April 06, 2004  

Herald Sun: Baghdad Sunnis, Shi'ites unite [07apr04]

Sunni and Shi'ite residents of two Baghdad suburbs, once fierce enemies, said overnight they had put their differences aside to unite in their fight to oust the US occupying force from Iraq.
"All of Iraq is behind Moqtada al-Sadr, we are but one body, one people," declared Sheikh Raed al-Kazami, in charge of the radical Shi'ite cleric's offices at a mosque in the Shi'ite neighbourhood of Kazimiya, west of the Iraqi capital. He spoke following three days of fierce clashes between militiamen loyal to Sadr that left at least 57 people dead and 236 wounded.
Al-Kazami said residents of the Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiya, a stone's throw from Kazimiya, had offered their support, as had residents from Ramadi and Fallujah, west of Baghdad, as well as residents of the northern city of Mosul.
The Muslim cleric, surrounded by armed bodyguards, said some Sunnis had even offered to join Sadr's militia.
Hey, Bush is a uniter, not a divider. Never forget that.

posted by lazarus | 15:18 | |

'To arrest Sadr, you have to kill all Iraqis'

Well, this doesn't sound good at all. Got an exit strategy floating around, George? Condi? Donnie? Anybody?

"Softly, Sheikh Abed Al Jabbar Al Khusai cooed to his faithful, 'come, come.'
About 150 members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia stopped pumping their AK-47's in the air. They turned and gathered around Khusai as he repeated a reporter's question.
The Americans say they will capture or kill al-Sadr, the sheikh told them. 'What's your response?'
Theirs was more a roar than a response: 'We will die that he may live!'
Khusai, wrapped in the black cape of a religious leader, clasped his hands and smiled. 'To arrest Sadr, you will have to kill all the Iraqi people,' he said.
The Coalition Provisional Authority has labeled al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric called 'sayed' or master by his followers, an outlaw, and he is accused of fomenting the deadly riots in Iraq this week.
Al-Sadr has a daunting base of support. Local sheikhs, or spiritual leaders, that are faithful to Sadr have a powerful influence over many Shiites, Khusai said.
'They love us because we are with them,' he added. Khusai said he has stood by his men while U.S. attack helicopters targeted rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun wielding militants.
Still considered an upstart by older Shiite leaders, Sadr is building up his forces throughout central and southern Iraq. He issues orders from his base in Najaf through fax messages, the Internet, mobile phones and leaflets in preparation for what his deputies say could be full-scale uprising.
While some Shiite leaders have called for the Mahdi Army to cease fire, al-Sadr's forces have earned some unlikely admirers. Wahabi militants, traditional enemies of Shiite Muslims here, have offered the Mahdi Army 'weapons and men to fight the occupiers,' said Khusai.
Americans, concluded Khusai, surveying his gunmen, "don't understand what loyalty to an imam means.""

posted by lazarus | 15:11 | |

Via Kos:Cheney Tax Plan From ’86 Would Have Raised Gas Prices

In October 1986, when Dick Cheney was the lone congressman from energy-rich Wyoming, he introduced legislation to create a new import tax that would have caused the price of oil, and ultimately the price of gasoline paid by drivers, to soar by billions of dollars per year.

"Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States," Mr. Cheney, who is now vice president, said shortly after introducing the legislation.

Oil prices had plunged to $15 from nearly $40 a barrel in the early 1980's, as Saudi Arabia flooded world markets, and Mr. Cheney argued the tax was needed to stabilize oil-state economies devastated as a result. But other lawmakers, including some Republicans, criticized the Cheney plan and similar proposals as "snake oil" that would throw 400,000 Americans out of work. They also said then, as President Bush does now, that higher taxes would stall the economy.
Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

posted by lazarus | 13:13 | |

Private Guards Repel Attack on U.S. Headquarters (washingtonpost.com) A few things struck me about this story.

First, when did these guys become "commandos" instead of contractors? What's the deal with that?

"An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident."

Yeah, right. What, these guys are all Arnold and Bruce Willis?

And, apparently, Blackwater sent in its own helicopters to resupply the "commandos" with ammo and medevac a wounded Marine.

About that wounded Marine....

Here's the biggest issue I have with the story:

In Sunday's fighting, Shiite militia forces barraged the Blackwater commandos, four MPs and a Marine gunner with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 fire for hours before U.S. Special Forces troops arrived.

But a few grafs later...
A Defense Department spokesman said that there were no military reports about the opening hours of the siege on CPA headquarters in Najaf because there were no military personnel on the scene.
That would be except for the four MPs and the Marine gunner, right? Or do they not count?

posted by lazarus | 12:41 | |

Monday, April 05, 2004  

As things go to hell in Iraq, let's not forget who's in charge as of October, 2003:

"President Bush is giving his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the authority to manage postwar Iraq and the rebuilding of Afghanistan."

posted by lazarus | 12:49 | |

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US offensive to 'pacify' Falluja: "The US command has vowed to 'pacify' Falluja, where four civilian contractors were killed on Wednesday. "

Yeah, we've heard of "pacification operations" before. That always works out well, doesn't it?

They've only "sealed off the town" because they're will to kill anyone who's trying to leave. Doesn't take too tight a cordon if you're shooting to kill, instead of just stopping, does it?

posted by lazarus | 12:37 | |

I've written my own views on why the music industry is going broke, but the NY Times just published an article with A Heretical View of File Sharing. Apparently, it's not that bad after all. According to this study, file sharing doesn't affect music sales at all.

I'd have to add that the last six albums I bought were affected by file sharing in this way: five I bought because I was able to download and listen to them first, to see if the rest of the album was worthwhile. The sixth I heard on a free digital music channel on my digital cable (NOT radio, mind you) and I promptly ran out and bought it that night.

So, free non-radio music led directly to my purchasing CDs. Imagine that.

posted by lazarus | 10:33 | |

Oh, and because I missed the tempest about Kos' comments, I'll add my two cents in: I support his right to make his statement. I understand why he made his statement, and I think the right-wing side of the blogosphere is being hypocritical in the extreme in their reaction to his statement.

The reaction of some on the left to it is shameful. He has nothing to apologise for.

posted by lazarus | 01:45 | |

Okay, time to come out of the closet, so to speak. I'm a Survivor junkie. Have been since Season Two, and I've since gotten tapes of the first season and watched that three times. I'm a serious fan of the show, and have just gotten an article published over on Reality News Online. This is purely an ego link, but if you're a Survivor fan, you may enjoy it. Besides, it's my first article printed anywhere but here, so I'm excited.

posted by lazarus | 01:11 | |

Sunday, April 04, 2004  

I don't make a practise of posting entire news stories, but this one is so important, and so short, I felt it worth making an exception. Oh, and I'm back from the evil illness, of which the less said, the better.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | War on Iraq 'has helped' Bin Laden: "The Sunni triangle in Iraq has become a base from which Islamic jihadists can train and test their cadre, senior officials at the CIA and the US state department have conceded.
Speaking to the Washington Post, officials also admitted that the war on Iraq had widened the constituency for Osama bin Laden's brand of anti-Americanism among Islamic militants.
The insurgency in Iraq had, the sources said, created 'a new Rolodex of fellow jihadists and people with whom they can work in the [Persian] Gulf in the future'.
While the attacks in Afghanistan have made the al-Qaida network less effective, Islamic organisations in areas such as north Africa and south-east Asia, which previously focused on changing their national leadership, have redirected their ire towards the US, sources told the newspaper.
It quoted what it called a senior intelligence source saying the jihadists 'have been caught by bin Laden's vision, and poisoned by it ... they will now look at the US, Israel and the Saudis as targets'.
This private view was partly confirmed at a House international relations subcommittee by the state department coordinator on counter-terrorism, J Cofer Black, who said bin Laden's 'virulent anti-American rhetoric ... has been picked up by a number of Islamic extremist movements which exist around the globe'.
As a result, Mr Black said, this 'greatly complicates our task in stamping out al-Qaida and poses a threat in its own right for the foreseeable future'.
Al-Qaida had always consisted of a loose coalition of independently operating, like-minded cells. But whereas in the past they went to groups to offer them training and financing, those groups were now coming to them."
Imagine that. War in Iraq has hurt the war on terror. But Richard Clarke is a liar, and a bad guy.

But now al Qaeda has volunteers lining up to join the fight against the US.

Feel safer yet?

posted by lazarus | 21:15 | |

Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
More corroboration of Richard Clarke's testimony. Bring up the role of a foreign leader can be a little tricky but it will be interesting to see how Condi deals with this curve ball

President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.

It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.

It would seem that war did not find the arsenal after all.

As late as 9 September, Short's diary records, when Blair went to a summit with Bush and Cheney at Camp David in order to discuss final details, 'T[ony] B[lair] gave me assurances when I asked for Iraq to be discussed at Cabinet that no decision [had been] made and [was] not imminent.' Later that day she learnt from the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, that Blair had asked to make 20,000 British troops available in the Gulf. She still believed her Prime Minister's assurances, but wrote that, if had she not done so, she would 'almost certainly' have resigned from the Government. At that juncture her resignation would have dealt Blair a very damaging blow.

But if Blair was misleading his own Government and party, he appears to have done the same thing to Bush and Cheney. At the Camp David meeting, Cheney was still resisting taking the case against Saddam and his alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN.

According to both Meyer and the senior Cheney official, Blair helped win his argument by saying that he could be toppled from power at the Labour Party conference later that month if Bush did not take his advice. The party constitution makes clear that this would have been impossible and senior party figures agree that, at that juncture, it was not a politically realistic statement.

posted by RogueTrooper | 11:10 | |

Kos is in a spot of bother
From MyDD

There was a planned migration from server to server for Daily Kos, it was supposed to happen a few days ago, but didn't occur till last night. Daily Kos is back up now, and Markos plans to respond to John Kerry, and and the recent developments.
As for my take, it's almost as if Dick Bell's Kerry PR blog is trying to have a Sista Soulja moment with the netroots. Problem is, we were never sista's to begin with. I met with Kerry's CTO Sanford Dickert & Cameron Barrett a few days ago in DC, where Sanford layed out their 'vision' of Kerry's internet campaign. All I have to say is, you can't build a vision if you are blind to the roots.

What Kerry's Dick Bell has done is bend to the will of radical fringe right of the blogosphere (the one's who will use deaths in Iraq for their own partisan gain). The rightwing blogosphere is right this moment undergoing a coordinated email campaign to every part of the Democratic establishment, beating them into a submissive dismissal of Daily Kos, because of one offhand comment made, which Kos had already retracted. First the advertisers, then John Kerry. What's next, the DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC blogroll? You think the wingnuts will be satisfied then? No, they'll just go after the next link, and the next blogger.

Matt Stoller, over at BOPNes, has quite an interesting view

It's an interesting question he raises, about the responsibility advertisers have to monitor the content of the sites on which they advertise. This also includes linking; how responsible is a site for linking to another site which posts questionable content? These aren't new questions, but with the blogosphere writing down conversations that didn't use to get written down, they take on new meaning. Had Markos made this comment among friends, or in a speech, or even on talk radio, it's unlikely that anyone would have noticed. But with everyday discussions among friends subject to such intense public scrutiny, the question of context is amplified, because more and more free conversation is open to exploitation.

Intersting times for Blogistan. Is this a dangerous threat to free speach and Democratic fundraising or is this a coming of age for a new media>

Or, just a bit of both.

posted by RogueTrooper | 10:47 | |

Hack the Planet
It would seem that some direct action may be making some difference with Georgia's move to electronic voting.

Report from Georgia on Voter Verified Paper Ballot, and the bill in the Georgia House

Today was an interesting day. As expected, the Chairman (Powell) of the committee cancelled the hearing this morning as we all arrived. Then they made a fatal mistake - they recessed from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM.

This was fatal because we cornered members of the house, dragged them into the meeting room, and demonstrated on laptops how to hack an election. We even used the Cobb County, Georgia (CORRECTED) file we found on the Diebold FTP site to do the demo.

They were stunned. The look of "oh, SHIT" on their faces as we changed Max Cleland's votes to -3,000 was priceless. The display of astonishment as we deleted entries from the audit log, while explaining that this was a "Cathy Cox policy and procedure" which protected the system was laughable.

Every member of the house who saw the demo pledged to bring the bill to the floor for a vote and to support it. Many promised to force the Chairman into putting the bill to a vote.

We have one more legislative day to get this bill passed. We'll be down there tomorrow demonstrating Hack-A-Vote to the members we missed....."

posted by RogueTrooper | 10:43 | |

Friday, April 02, 2004  

Democratic office target of crimesI arise from my sickbed to blog this seriously disturbing news:

"SCOTTSDALE - Scottsdale Democratic Party officials feel targeted after a computer hard drive with donors' information and mailing list was stolen last month and the office was vandalized Wednesday.

"The fact that we've had two in the last three weeks is very, very suspicious," said Leon Chusid, District 8 treasurer, headquartered at 8350 E. McDonald Drive. "And it's also very terrifying."

The only thing taken in the first incident was a computer's hard drive with information about precinct committee members, mailing lists and fund-raising. "
Anybody know where G Gordon Liddy is these days?

By hilarious coincidence, the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party is named Tom Liddy. You can't make this stuff up. Well, you can, but why bother when the Republicans are doing it for you?

posted by lazarus | 11:04 | |

What Revolution are you?

What revolution are You?
Made by altern_active

posted by RogueTrooper | 08:23 | |

I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message
George W. Bush has just spent 41.8 million dollars on televison advertising. Which, even to a spoiled rich kid is quite a bit of coin. And with John Kerry ahead 3 points and 5 points , respectivly it would seem that he did not get much bang for his buck. And why would that be? Well, Richard Clarke is still standing; and George W. Bush has taken a hit on his national security numbers. The drop in the number is by no means huge but it is an ersosion of Bush's only electoral advantage.

Richard Clarke is showing himself to be on one of America's true adepts at political maneouvering and has , thus far, managed to stay a couple of steps ahead of the "good news" from the Whitehouse. This Adminstration may has finally come across somebody who, with both excellent positional play and a bludgeoning uppercut, has more talent at being a baddass than they do.

Meanwhile John Kerry raised $43 million dollars. Just in time to rebut Mr. Bush's recent ad buy.

posted by RogueTrooper | 07:13 | |

Notes from an earlier Character assassination
It would seem that the Valerie Plame affair is still getting the "full treatment" from the Bush Administration.

WASHINGTON, April 1; Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.

In looking at violations beyond the original focus of the inquiry, which centered on a rarely used statute that makes it a felony to disclose the identity of an undercover intelligence officer intentionally, prosecutors have widened the range of conduct under scrutiny and for the first time raised the possibility of bringing charges peripheral to the leak itself.

The expansion of the inquiry's scope comes at a time when prosecutors, after a hiatus of about a month, appear to be preparing to seek additional testimony before a federal grand jury, lawyers with clients in the case said. It is not clear whether the renewed grand jury activity represents a concluding session or a prelude to an indictment.

The broadened scope is a potentially significant development that represents exactly what allies of the Bush White House feared when Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the case last December and turned it over to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago.

The administration's attack on Valerie Plame was a little unusual in that, instead of dropping the trial's of Job on the administration's critic, they went after his missus. Joe Wilson mentioned that the administration's claims that Niger Urnanium\Saddam connection were rubbish and Mrs. Wilson ( ne Plame ) got the "good news".

This would have been pretty standard mendacity on the Administration's behalf were it not for the fact that Valerie Plame headed up the CIA's NBC ( Nuclear, Biological & Chemical ) munitions tracking operation. In naming Plame, the traitor in the Whitehouse blew her cover and her network. I am not sure why it is considered wise, in a period of heightened conflict, to cripple America ability to defend itself against mega-death attack.

Richard Nixon said that nobody hates like Barbara Bush. It would seem that thirty odd years later nobody does revenge like her eldest son. The Bush's are a thin skinned bunch but do they have had a lot of experience developing effective coping mechanisms. God Help us all when they are done with their revenge.

posted by RogueTrooper | 06:37 | |

posted by RogueTrooper | 06:18 | |

Jesus seems to be getting us
It would seem that Laz, ever a follower of the best fashions, has also become a little unwell. I will be taking up the slack for the next couple of days. As I am still slightly winged expect a few cartoons and lots of block quotations from articles.

posted by RogueTrooper | 05:50 | |
religious, scientific and skeptic links
political blogs and links