What We Have Here Is Failure To Communicate

I should have seen this one coming.

A couple of weeks ago, a comment of mine was deleted at Blogs For Bush. Some commenter was allowing how the Democrats had brought down Trent Lott, and I hastened to correct him - the knife in Trent Lott's back had the White House's fingerprints all over it. So snip, snip, snip went the B4B scissors.

Today I see that an poster has highlighted Kerrey's canard that Clinton didn't respond to the Cole bombing in October 2000. I typed up a witty response and hit "Submit". Here's what I got back:

Their loss.

We're Losing Control of Baghdad? Supply Lines Endangered?

Juan Cole

The US suffered 6 more combat deaths on Wednesday and Thursday. In a CNN interview retired General Barry MacCaffrey said that the task of the US is to regain control of Baghdad and restore its lines of communication in the South. He gave away a great deal. One may conclude that a) the US has lost control of Baghdad and b) the US communications and supply lines in the South have been cut. That is, a year after the fall of Saddam, the US faces the task of reconquering the country.
Ye gods.

Write Down April 10th, 2004 - BushCo Stands Exposed

The New York Times

Bush Was Warned of Possible Attack in U.S., Official Says


Published: April 10, 2004

WASHINGTON, April 9 — President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday.

The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001. A report by a joint Congressional committee last year alluded to a "closely held intelligence report" that month about the threat of an attack by Al Qaeda, and the official confirmed an account by The Associated Press on Friday saying that the report was in fact part of the president's briefing in Crawford.
UPDATE: Here's what I think happened. The Bush Administration had said that the August 6th PDB would be released, perhaps even in a day. On Friday, they hedged on that, saying that it might be next week sometime.

So the 9/11 Commission kicked them to the curb, with major leaks about some specifics in the PDB.

Who's scheduled to be on the Sunday talk shows this week? Tim Russert's got John McCain, and that's unlikely to change. Face the Nation has Senators Pat Roberts and Joseph Biden, and Stephanopoulos has Richard Perle and Rand Beers. Chris Wallace will be trying to ram a gag into Richard Ben-Venista over on Fox - that should be worth watching.

But McCain will be a must-see here.

What's My Line?

the friday five

1. What do you do for a living?

I'm an actor looking for a day gig.

2. What do you like most about your job?

That I get paid to do it.

3. What do you like least about your job?

No health insurance.

4. When you have a bad day at work it's usually because...

I've isolated and become non-communicative.

5. What other career(s) are you interested in?

Screenwriting and directing.

Clinton Appears Before 9/11 Commission


And he didn't need to hold Gore's hand while he was there.

Clinton met for nearly four hours with the 10-member bipartisan panel in a closed-door session shortly after the conclusion of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's public testimony, broadcast live on national television.

Commissioners described Clinton's testimony as frank and informative. (Take that, Condi! -BB)

Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska and now a member of the commission, said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America" he believes Clinton should have been more aggressive in going after al-Qaida following the ship attack.

"I think he did have enough proof to take action," Kerrey said. "That's a difference of opinion."

A person familiar with the session said Clinton told the commission he did not order retaliatory military strikes after the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 because he could not get "a clear, firm judgment of responsibility" from U.S. intelligence before he left office the following January.

It wasn't until after the Bush administration took power that U.S. intelligence concluded al-Qaida had sponsored the attack on the ship in the harbor at Aden, Yemen. Some commissioners have been critical of the decision not to launch a retaliatory military strike.
Clinton could have attacked without the final word on responisibility...and Republicans would have howled October Surprise louder than a migrane on Sunday morning. Another example of how the bitter politics of the Arkansas Project and Grover Norquist continue to contribute to the real harm of this country.

Good Friday Ten

The first ten songs randomly played by iTunes today:

  1. Us and Them - Pink Floyd
  2. The Breaking of the Fellowship - Howard Shore
  3. The Great Gig In the Sky - Pink Floyd
  4. I Close My Eyes and Count To Ten - Dusty Springfield
  5. Walking On Broken Glass - Annie Lennox
  6. Gethsemane - Peter Gabriel
  7. Shock The Monkey - Peter Gabriel
  8. Right Next Door - Robert Clay
  9. Division Bell - Pink Floyd
  10. Soon All Will Know - Wynton Marsalis
A list worthy of Good Friday: brokenness, division, guilt, and a wakeup call. I swear it was random...well, I accidentally clicked on the Annie Lennox song in the middle of the Great Gig in The Sky. When I tried to go back, the Dusty Springfield song popped up instead.

So, that's the first ten songs almost entirely played at random by iTunes today.

UPDATE: I left iTunes on random, and guess what? The Great Gig in the Sky came up again! So here's the list that might have been...
  1. Us and Them - Pink Floyd
  2. The Breaking of the Fellowship - Howard Shore
  3. The Great Gig In the Sky - Pink Floyd
  4. The Boy From New York City - Manhattan Transfer
  5. Desert Rose - Sting
  6. Death Letter - Cassandra Wilson
  7. Baby Come Home To Me - Manhattan Transfer
  8. Birdland - Weather Report
  9. Loneliness - Annie Lennox
  10. It Don't Mean A Thing - Duke Ellington
This appears to be the soundtrack to a new Hollywood movie:

War kills a young boy's parents, and his grandmother, unable to care for him, sends him to an orphanage. Growing up there, he discovers an incredible singing talent that propels him to stardom. Then he meets the love of his life - a beautiful shy girl from an immigrant family. As they grow closer together, a letter arrives from the old country - she is betrothed, and the marriage can now take place. The boy arranges an elopement, but he only finds that she's left the country. He plunges into a doo-wop despair. His manager tell him he needs to take his act on the road - and books a tour of the girl's country. The girl, lonely for her own family, sees a poster of his tour and slips out to attend. Her husband-to-be pursues, but the boy gives him triple the dowry-price. The boy and girl are married and live happily ever after.

Okay, so it's not a really good movie: what do you expect from a randomized song list?

The Difference Between The Millenium Plot and the 9/11 Attack


Orcinus has a flawless post on Condi Rice's downgrading of the Clinton Administration's foiling of the Millenium plots. Yes, it's true that the customs agent who nabbed the initial suspect was just doing her normal job under no kind of alert. But it's what happened next that's the difference. The Clinton Administration was already holding the high alert meetings when the customs arrest came up the pike. Clarke and others immediately focused on this arrest and quickly unearthed the rest of the plot in time to do something about it.

Whereas the agent in Phoenix just doing his job wrote a memo about suspicious parties taking flight lesson that sat around. And the information about al-Qaeda agents already in the United States sat around. And the information about Zacarias Moussaoui sat around. If the Bush Adminstration had held the same type of high alert meetings because of the chatter, the lucky breaks could have foiled the entire 9/11 attacks.

But worrying about al-Qaeda was just so Clinton.

Presidential Daily Briefings Have Been Declassified Before

Salon.com > The President's Daily Brief Coverup

Actually, ten President's Daily Briefs are in the public domain, officially declassified by the U.S. government. (Note 4) The CIA established the PDB under that name in 1964, and PDBs from the Johnson administration began to be declassified in 1985, during the tenure of President Reagan. The ten declassified PDBs contain such extraordinarily sensitive items as this one on Egypt: "Nasir, in a speech to the nation on Saturday, outlined a 'program of action' to bring about political reform. We doubt that it will amount to much." That's the whole item. Another supersensitive entry concerns the head of state of Indonesia: "Despite Sukarno's long-standing kidney ailment, for which he delays proper treatment, he has seemed quite chipper lately." Three lines of the item are blacked out since they refer to the sources of intelligence, perhaps Indonesian assets of the CIA, or communications intercepts, or maybe just the British ambassador. One of the PDBs is even published in the latest volume of the distinguished State Department documentary series, Foreign Relations of the United States.
So what's the big deal? Release the August 6, 2001 PDB already.

Unless there's something really revealing in that PDB:
Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside The United States

Once upon a time there was a bad man named Osama bin Laden. He hated America major-league bad. He still does!

We keep hearing that he's sent some of his mean friends to attack us. This would be major-league bad if they weren't such wusses!

Remember when the World Trade Center was bombed? That was them! Stupid Bill Clinton.

One time we heard that they were planning to hijack planes. I wonder what they would do with planes? It would probably be real bad. They're terrible pilots.

Do you want us to keep our eyes peeled for any new information on bin Laden and his meanies? Mark one: Yes or No
The truth will out.

May The Circle Be Unbroken

Talking Points MemoUndersecretary of Defense Doug Feith hands out the Iraqi reconstruction contracts...

...Feith's law partner Marc Zell started a company that lobbies for the contracts for companies that want a piece of the action...

...Marc's partner in the lobbying company is Ahmed Chalabi's nephew, Salem...

...Salem is also in charge of setting up the court that will try Saddam Hussein.

Right wingers will revel in the idea of Saddam being tried by the man who's now making money hand over fist in Iraq. The rest of us will remember Mike Royko fondly.

Religious Support of Evolution Taught In Schools?

News from Agape Press

A Seattle-based think tank is expressing outrage over an effort to promote "religious Darwinism" in public schools.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and the University of California Museum of Paleontology have spent nearly half-a-million dollars in federal money to create a website to help teachers better teach the theory of evolution. Part of that website, called "Understanding Evolution," encourages teachers to explicitly use religion to endorse evolution.

Dr. John West with the Discovery Institute is hopeful the government will investigate the function and funding of the website because, in his opinion, it is unconstitutional.
Are you allowed to call what the Discovery Institute does "thinking"? It's a really slick website, but they get their news from the Washington Times, WorldNetDaily.com, and American Spectator. They're advocating Intelligent Design, which is Creationism all dressed up for the Science Fair. Such logic lets them think that the Understanding Evolution website is advocating a "religious Darwinism", whatever in Hades that is.

What's their beef?
"It's one thing to teach the science of evolution, but to use tax funds to encourage teachers to use religion to endorse evolution? This website actually contains a link to 16 pages of theological statements endorsing evolution, including one from the United Church of Christ."
A link. It actually contains a link.

On the actual website itself, religion comes up very rarely:
2. Student Discomfort

Discomfort with evolution may not stem from a disagreement with science, but from the belief that evolution is incompatible with religious faith. Help students to understand that evolution, like all of science, seeks to explain natural things through natural causes. We are not challenging their religious beliefs, nor are we asking them to “believe” in evolution, but simply to learn about it.

However, no matter what we do or say, some students will not accept the idea of an old Earth and the relatedness of living things. The most fruitful approach with all students is to make information available to them and to allow them to assemble their own understanding of how the world works.

3. Student Challenges
Suppose that students object to having to learn about evolution. Just respond appropriately and continue teaching. Here are four things to keep in mind:

Be very clear on the nature, content, and expectations of science classes.

Teachers and curricula should follow established guidelines, frameworks, and standards that reflect the best current knowledge and consensus of the scientific community.

“Belief” is not part of science. We do not ask students to believe in science; we expect them to learn its ideas and methods.

Students are not required to accept evolution, but they do need to learn what it is and how it functions as a scientific explanation.

Student Roadblocks
There's nothing objectionable here at all. The students are free to form or keep their own ideas on the subject.

Further on, in External Roadblocks, there's a link to the NCSE websites Resources page, which has a link to Statements from Religious Organizations. The United Church of Christ is on this page (under United Church Board For Homeland Ministries), as is the American Jewish Congress, the American Scientific Affiliation, the Center For Theology And The Natural Sciences, the Central Conference Of American Rabbis, the Episcopal Bishop Of Atlanta, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the General Convention Of The Episcopal Church, the Lexington Alliance Of Religious Leaders, the Lutheran World Federation, the Roman Catholic Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church Board For Homeland Ministries, United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church In The U.S.A.

Let's look at how the Understanding Evolution site links to the NSCE site:
2. Make use of available resources.

While debating creationist challenges is not our job, it would might be a good idea to be familiar with questions typically asked. Here are three useful resources:

Misconceptions—This provides a list of common misconceptions and potential responses if you choose to use them. What can be misconceptions for some may be posed as intentional challenges by others.

NCSE, the National Center for Science Education—Should the teaching of evolution be challenged in your school or district, information and advice are available.

Voices for Evolution—These concise statements, found on the NCSE website, come from science and education organizations and emphasize the status of evolution and its place in science.

Suggested Strategies
The Voices for Evolution is the link that the Discovery Institute thinkers are howling about. But the actual link to the 16 pages of documented religious openness to evolution is on that page. It's a link to a link, and the context is equipping teachers who are facing roadblocks in the course of their teaching. After all, as the site goes on to say, "There are some who would prefer that evolution not be part of our science curriculum, regardless of its veracity, and these people have developed organized efforts to discourage its teaching." The Discovery Institute is one branch of this organized effort.

Please note: the information isn't presented as a link to religious endorsements. It highlights the science and education professionals who also are quoted on a different link at the NCSE site. The religious endorsements are a bonus to any teacher that follows the link. It's a clever way of getting that information into the hands of science teachers without actually establishing religion.

This cleverness is what the Discovery Institute is seeking to capitalize on. What's happened is that somebody was sitting around the office, fuming at the Berkeley site, and happened to click on the Voices link. When they saw the additional unendorsed link at the NCSE website, their brains blew a fuse and they wrote up a press release to vent. They don't have a leg to stand on, demonstrating once again that creationism is a dysfunctional theory that lacks survival skills in the laboratory of scientific thought.

Schwarzenegger Wants Part-Time Lawmakers


To illustrate his point, Schwarzenegger borrowed from his acting days, saying filmmakers did their best work on tight deadlines.

"Give them a short period of time. Then good work gets done,'' he said. "That's when they start getting creative with things.''
File this under "I'd love dictatorship if I were the dictator."

A Dozen Marines Dead Today?

ABCNEWS.com : AP News Alert

And the injured list? Not available yet. This is what happens when you ignore the reasons behind the First Amendment.

Air White Liberal America

Alternative Press Review

Got this from Insty. The writer has a good point - that Air America, which I myself have enjoyed tremendously, is broadcasting a lot of white liberal viewpoints into mainly black liberal demographics. It's something that should be addressed.

FCTR: Bill Frist, Step Aside


The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), a non-profit, non-partisan consumer education and advocacy organization, urges an immediate Ethics Committee investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's personal and financial ties to the HCA hospital chain and to its subsidiary malpractice insurer Health Care Indemnity (HCI), with specific focus on the conflict of interest inherent in Frist's advocacy for recent legislation to limit hospital and malpractice insurer liability. We believe this conflict should disqualify Senator Frist from involvement in any legislation concerning liability limits benefiting hospitals and malpractice insurers, and can no longer be overlooked.

Majority Leader Frist's Senate financial disclosures reveal that he, and his wife and children, hold millions of dollars in HCA stock. Documents filed with the Senate Office of Public Records at the end of the year 2000 indicate that HCA stock worth at least $10,150,000, and up to $30,350,000 or more, was transferred into Frist family blind trusts in December, 2000. The trust agreements note that "the assets initially contributed by him [Frist] to this Trust are concentrated in the stock of HCA, the Healthcare Company," and reveal that trustees were specifically relieved "from any obligation the Trustee might otherwise have to diversify the investments." At least $1,125,000, and as much as $2,320,000, in HCA stock has been contributed to the trusts since December, 2000, while just under $625,000 has been sold. Despite the "blind" moniker for these trusts, these disclosures reveal to the public, and importantly to Frist himself, that the family's fortune rests upon the welfare of HCA. The "blind" trusts prohibit Frist from managing his investments, but they do not stop him from knowing what they consist of.

We are aware that this committee once before considered the issue of whether Senator Frist faced a conflict while voting on general health care legislation. However, Senator Frist's current involvement in the medical malpractice debate rises beyond the level of general concern for health issues to specific advocacy for his family's company.

New Site from The Right Christians

The Village Gate

Brand new forum for religious progressives. Check it out...

Here I Am in South Park

South Park Studios: Games: Create a Character

FactCheck.org Slams Kerry Unfairly


A Kerry ad has Bush saying that sending jobs overseas "makes sense." But Bush didn't say that.

The quote is actually from Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. The Kerry campaign claims Bush signed the report containing those words, but that's wrong, too.

Some Bush administration officials do indeed defend the practice of contracting for white-collar services overseas as one aspect of free trade, which they say creates jobs in the US.  Textbook economics supports that notion. But the Kerry ad goes too far when it makes the President seem to be rooting for the loss of US jobs using words he never used.
Bill Hobbs calls this another one of Kerry's "lies". But the report is issued by Bush's Administration, and it's common usage to say that Bush did something that someone in his adminstration actually did. Bush does it himself, all the time.

Bush signs a summary report at the beginning of the long paper, and that gives his approval to the entire document. And to the point, it's the policy of this administration that outsourcing jobs is expected and welcome. If Bush isn't willing to take the responsibility for what his administration says, then why did he hire them in the first place?

A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics

The Smirking Chimp > Chronicle Review

Schmitt argued that liberals, properly speaking, can never be political. Liberals tend to be optimistic about human nature, whereas "all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil." Liberals believe in the possibility of neutral rules that can mediate between conflicting positions, but to Schmitt there is no such neutrality, since any rule -- even an ostensibly fair one -- merely represents the victory of one political faction over another. (If that formulation sounds like Stanley Fish when he persistently argues that there is no such thing as principle, that only testifies to the ways in which Schmitt's ideas pervade the contemporary intellectual zeitgeist.) Liberals insist that there exists something called society independent of the state, but Schmitt believed that pluralism is an illusion because no real state would ever allow other forces, like the family or the church, to contest its power. Liberals, in a word, are uncomfortable around power, and, because they are, they criticize politics more than they engage in it.

No wonder that Schmitt admired thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, who treated politics without illusions. Leaders inspired by them, in no way in thrall to the individualism of liberal thought, are willing to recognize that sometimes politics involves the sacrifice of life. They are better at fighting wars than liberals because they dispense with such notions as the common good or the interests of all humanity. ("Humanity," Schmitt wrote in a typically terse formulation that is brilliant if you admire it and chilling if you do not, "cannot wage war because it has no enemy.") Conservatives are not bothered by injustice because they recognize that politics means maximizing your side's advantages, not giving them away. If unity can be achieved only by repressing dissent, even at risk of violating the rule of law, that is how conservatives will achieve it.

In short, the most important lesson Schmitt teaches is that the differences between liberals and conservatives are not just over the policies they advocate but also over the meaning of politics itself. Schmitt's German version of conservatism, which shared so much with Nazism, has no direct links with American thought. Yet residues of his ideas can nonetheless be detected in the ways in which conservatives today fight for their objectives.
More thoughts later, but this for now: Humanity does have an enemy.


Why The First Amendment Works, Part Two

7 U.S. Soldiers Killed, 24 Wounded in Baghdad (washingtonpost.com)

Who were they fighting? The followers of the fellow whose printing press Bremer shut down.