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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Iraq, coming unglued!

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/20/2004 11:41:00 AM

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I suspect it was inevitable but it appears to be happening, Iraq is coming unglued. Violence Breaks Out All Over Baghdad. This is in addition to the violence in Mosul and the rest of the Sunni Triangle since the US stormed Falluja and is also in response to the raid on a Sunni Mosque yesterday.
AP, BAGHDAD, Iraq - Baghdad exploded in violence Saturday, as insurgents attacked a U.S. patrol and a police station, assassinated four government employees and detonated several bombs. One American soldier was killed and nine were wounded during clashes that also left three Iraqi troops and a police officer dead.
Some of the heaviest violence came in Azamiyah, a largely Sunni Arab district of Baghdad where a day earlier U.S. troops raided the capitol's main Sunni mosque. Shops were in flames, and a U.S. Humvee burned, with the body of what appeared to be its driver inside.
Jazz's post on a blog from Baghdad gives us a pretty good idea of how bad things are in that city, but much of the Sunni area in Iraq is the same.
U.S. forces and insurgents also battled in the Sunni Triangle city of Ramadi, where clashes have been seen almost daily. Nine Iraqis were killed and five wounded in Saturday's fighting, hospital officials said.


In northern Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces uncovered four decapitated bodies as they continued a campaign to crush militants who rose up last week. American and Iraqi forces detained 30 suspected guerrillas overnight in Mosul, the U.S. military said Saturday.
Tom Englehardt has a good piece in Mother Jones today on root causes of the Iraqi violence that is worth a read. It is going to be increasingly difficult for the administration and Faux news to spin Iraq as the chaos continues to mount.


Fix the Vote

posted by Jazz at 11/20/2004 08:16:00 AM

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Right off the bat, a lot of conservatives will be sent scurrying away by the mention of Nicholas Kristof. In this morning's Times, however, he has a spot on analysis of serious problems that exist in our electoral process. Before you flee in disgust, he's not claiming or even talking about any sort of fraud or "stealing" of elections by either party. The far more serious problem he tackles is the non-competitive nature of so many state and federal elections which has resulted in an unprecedented level of invulnerable incumbents and uncontested races. And rather than just complaining, he offers a few possible solutions which are worth a look. First, the problem.

"In Arkansas, 75 percent of state legislative races this year were uncontested by either the Republicans or by the Democrats. The same was true of 73 percent of the seats in Florida, 70 percent in South Carolina, 62 percent in New Mexico.

And Congressional races were an embarrassment. Only seven incumbents in the House of Representatives lost their seats this month. Four of those were in Texas, where the Republican Legislature gerrymandered Democrats out of their seats.

Granted, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races are often still competitive. But, increasingly, to be elected to the House once is to be elected for life. As David Broder of The Washington Post put it, the House is becoming like the British House of Lords."

That much is obvious, but Kristof goes further and proposes three answers to this quandary.

1. Have nonpartisan experts draw up boundaries for Congressional districts after each census.

2. Eliminate the Electoral College, so that the president is chosen by popular vote.

3. Funnel campaign donations through a blind trust.

He expands on each quite a bit, so read the full version. He offers interesting possibilities, but some of these are more viable than others. The first suggestion addresses one of the biggest problems, but simply saying the magic words "nonpartisan experts" doesn't make it a reality. Where will these "nonpartisans" be found in such a highly divided, partisan nation? The power to set and alter congressional district boundaries is an awesome one. Giving that kind of power to any group of people is going to open them up to attempts at influence.

We have come far enough in both our advances in technology and, to some degree, our confidence in it, that we are allowing the use of computers more and more into our government and electoral process. Surely it is not unreasonable to picture a computer model that could employ census data to draw evenly distributed districts of uniform shape where uneven state borders did not make it impossible. While I think that many things need to be left in the control of the states, this is a federal issue which affects everyone, and I think such a system should be mandated for all of the country. The process can be repeated after every census and remove the partisan trickery that is poisoning the system now.

Kristof's second point, unfortunately veers off course. Anyone who reads my ramblings regularly knows that I completely favor the abandonment of the electoral college, but that does nothing to solve the problem under discussion. We are not in danger of an endlessly incumbent president because they are constitutionally restricted to, at most, two and a half terms. Term limits are an excellent idea, but I believe they fall under the previously mentioned area of states' rights. A national movement should begin again to get all fifty states on board with the idea of uniform term limits for both the Senate and the House. This doesn't solve the problem without the fair and impartial districting discussed in the first point, but it at least keeps fresh blood coming into the system and forces new candidates to address the needs of their constituents in a contested election.

The last suggestion, that of forcing campaign donations to go through a blind trust, is one of those ideas that "looks good on paper" but seems weak in practice. It's not going to take a rocket scientist to figure out what has happened when a large potential donor meets with you and then suddenly a lot of funds show up in your blind trust. I also believe that campaign donations are a valid expression of free speech, and messing about with the process like this would be a loss, not a gain.

Reposted at The Left Right Debate.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Winning the Hearts and Minds

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 05:07:00 PM

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In an effort to bring everyone together for a unified, democratic Iraq, today we apparently raided a Sunni Mosque on their holy day as people were leaving services. Several were dead and another 40 detained. No weapons or explosives or other dangerous items were recovered, but our troops did manage to recover "a computer and books, including a Quran." This prompted some predictable responses in the blogosphere.

Steve Gillard gives some wry commentary, saying "Yes, storming a mosque after Friday prayers is ....genius."


Over at Captain's Quarters, it's no surprise that the Bush fanatics feel that attacking Muslims while they attend mass on Friday is "a welcome development."

Here's the part that Capt. Ed doesn't get and never will. The end goal, if you are to ever believe anything that the Bush administration says, is to establish a stable democracy in Iraq. Right? This Ameri-centric, anti-Muslim attitude is going to get more troops on our side killed. Muslim society is extremely different to start with. Then, you need to look at the type of soil that the roots of democracy are able to make a start in. Iraq is severely lacking in this area.

Democracies start in countries with a large, productive, well educated middle class that sees itself as a solid force against outside influences and stands together. They also tend to be highly secular and rebel against religious rules holding them in virtual chains.

The Sunni folks are already deeply suspicious of any "election" that will just allow a Shiite majority to elect their own into power. The Kurds are just waiting for us to leave so they can have their own state. The one thing these people have in common, which already puts a potential democracy in jeopardy, is their faith in their respective clerics. When the Americans go in and bust up a church meeting on their holy day, you drive people away from the polls and give them even more of an excuse to just wait until the Americans leave to start their civil war.

The lack of cultural understanding among the people running this war is horrifying.

Semi-Carnival of Poetry

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 04:33:00 PM

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From the timeless wisdom of William Butler Yeats. The more I think about Iraq, the more my favorite poem of all time comes to mind.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of "Spiritus Mundi"
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

If you would like to contribute some weekend poetry of your choice, send it along and we'll sew it all together into one post.

Some Shel Silverstein from Georg.

Why I'm liberal

posted by georg at 11/19/2004 02:01:00 PM

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Perhaps I read too much Shel Silverstein as a child.

Listen to the musn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts,
The impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

Arafat is still Dead

posted by The One True Tami at 11/19/2004 01:15:00 PM

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French to release Arafat medical records
"Making the records public could curb some of the speculation in the Arab world that the late Palestinian leader was poisoned by Israel."
Funny, I hadn't heard that rumor at all! I only heard the one where the US poisoned him so that we could re-energize the peace process. Which is some quality black humor, right there.

The Future of War

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 01:11:00 PM

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Over at MEJ, I put in a piece about an offering today from James Wolcott. This quote alone should be enough to whet your apetite to go on the ensuing link chase to both Wolcott's essay, and the source upon which it was based.

So thick is the euphoria and triumphalism post November 2nd that I wonder if most of our media, never mind the bovine American public, have any inkling of how ghastily Iraq is going down the drain, and taking the American military with it. We've been so bombarded with "Failure is not an option" that few are willing to assert, as van Creveld and Lind do, that failure may not be an option but it damn well may be the outcome, and quicker than anyone contemplates.

- James Wolcott

A Bright Side to Everything

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 12:22:00 PM

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Or at least it seems like Ron can always find one. This had me laughing, while contemplating a very serious and dangerous situation.

"If four more years of Bush seems intolerable cheer up; because of the Bush administration's failure in Afghanistan you should be able to stay stoned the entire four years."

Note: I don't take that as an endorsement of casual drug use, but it was still pretty damned funny. Read more.



Winning all the battles and losing the war

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/19/2004 11:32:00 AM

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Hamza Hendawi of the Associated Press has an analysis of the situation in Iraq that has resulted from the storming of Fallaju. In addition to jeopardizing the legitimacy of the elections still scheduled for January it has opened riffs between the various social and religious groups within Iraq and not accomplished the military goals of stopping the insurgency.
The recapture of Fallujah has not broken the insurgents' will to fight and may not pay the big dividend U.S. planners had hoped - to improve security enough to hold national elections in Sunni Muslim areas of central Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi assessments.

Instead, the battle for control of the Sunni city 40 miles west of Baghdad has sharpened divisions among Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups, fueled anti-American sentiment and stoked the 18-month-old Sunni insurgency.

Those grim assessments, expressed privately by some U.S. military officials and by some private experts on Iraq, raise doubts as to whether the January election will produce a government with sufficient legitimacy, especially in the eyes of the country's powerful Sunni Muslim minority.
While the Sunnis threaten to boycott the elections the Shiite community insists they go forward. At the same time, the Kurds see their hope of a federalist government that preserves their system of self-rule in the north fading under a Shiite dominated central government. The storming of Falluja has not stopped the insurgents and has resulted in conditions that may result in civil war.

Juan Cole also does a good job of covering this topic this morning.


Yet Another Guest Blogger

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 11:23:00 AM

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Yes, that's right. In my never ending quest to find other people willing to do my work for me so that eventually I can just sit in sedintary pleasure, getting rich off of the windfall profits of this blog while doing nothing, Running Scared is pleased to announce the arrival of yet another unpaid author. Please join me in welcoming The One True Tami to our merry band. In addition to being a gifted author, the originator of the phrase "filled with cheesy goodness" and the inventor of Teflon, Tami is also a Jersey Girl. So watch your backs.... if you give her too much lip in the comments section, you may wind up finding out where Jimmy Hoffa is buried... the hard way.

Everyone is always curious about what bloggers look like in real life, so I'm including a recent photo she sent me from her last trip to Europe.




For a well known diety, she's always getting lost. Welcome aboard.

Iraqi Blogroll

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 08:22:00 AM

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If you check out the blogrolls in the right side column you will see that I have split out an entire new section specifically for blogs coming from inside of Iraq. I've added quite a few that weren't there previously. As with my normal U.S. based blogroll, I try to add voices from both sides of the fence. There are Iraqi bloggers in ther who definitely support the United States, there are some who bitterly oppose the invasion, and others who mostly just sound like they are trying to survive. (That probably applies to all of them.)

Take a look. You'll find out more from these folks than you will from any mainstream media outlet.

Wanted: Translator Application

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 07:50:00 AM

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Does anyone know of an online tool that can translate Farsi to English? Specifically, something that could translate this site?

Friday Pet Blogging: blah blah blah

posted by Jazz at 11/19/2004 05:56:00 AM

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Before we get to it, be sure to stop by The Modulator for lots of animal photos each Friday. And this week, the Carnival of Cats is supposed to be at Leslie's Omnibus, but I couldn't find a post there about it to link to diretly. Sorry, Leslie.

This Friday finds Colin (left) and Pepe facing off in a wool cage match for the best spot on the couch in the den. The fight promoter was unavailable for comment. (Click on image for full size picture.)




Update: There's another cool cat picture up at NYC Babylon. Go give her some love. She recently discovered a "lump" in a bad place and is braving the medical system to get it seen to. As always, sending prayers or just good, positive vibes for others will make you feel better yourself.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Another Blogger from Iraq

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/18/2004 09:41:00 PM

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Raed in the Middle is another blogger from Iraq. This one is unique because it is mostly pictures.

Moose Bullish on DeLay

posted by Jazz at 11/18/2004 03:29:00 PM

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Earlier today, I put up a brief bit on how Tom DeLay seems to be able to fashion the rules in the House of Representatives to suit himself. As usual, the Bull Moose does a better job of it.

Only a few short years ago, the brave souls in the House Republican caucus led by the same Mr. DeLay claimed to be the great defenders of the "rule of law" as they pursued impeachment against Clinton. Mr. DeLay, along with his Inspector Javert, Judge Starr, hounded the POTUS to ensure that we remained under the rule of law and not men. But this is the age of rule by the cronies.

The Moose is tempted to suggest that Mr. DeLay is a stain on the soul of the elephant.


Oh Nooooooooo

posted by Jazz at 11/18/2004 01:52:00 PM

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Big Left Outside's Al Giordano is going on a sabbatical from blogging. Come back soon, Al.

Carnival of Solutions is Back

posted by Jazz at 11/18/2004 01:52:00 PM

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Over at Pennywit, the next Carnival of Solutions is up. This week's topic deals with how to solve the problem of getting judicial nominees who are acceptable approved in a sharply divided congress. I will not be entering this one, as sadly I have no clue whatsoever of how this can be accomplished. If you have a better idea, go blog it and submit your entry to the carnival at Pennywit's blog.

DeLay Writes Rules to Serve DeLay

posted by Jazz at 11/18/2004 01:04:00 PM

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As Ron earlier warned us, the House of non-Representatives has officially changed their rules so that accused felons can retain House leadership positions. The accused felon in question is, of course, Tom DeLay. At some point, probably during the next term, we're going to see a rules change that says each Democrat only gets 3/5 of a vote. Just trust me on this. South Knox Bubba has an amusing take on this.

Next up: emergency legislation allowing the Vice President to continue serving from jail as work continues on a Constitutional amendment making membership in the Republican Party a felony defense.

The Left Coaster has some hilarious comments in a very long, but readworthy post, comparing GOP tactics to a game of "Calvinball."

< style="font-style: italic; color: rgb(204, 0, 0);">One of the more favorite aspects of this strip was Calvinball, a game in which you made up rules that were advantageous to you as you played. Based on what's going on, it seems that Calvinball taught the Republicans a lot.


Election Boycott in Iraq

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/18/2004 11:20:00 AM

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Juan Cole reports on the election boycott announced by forty-seven Iraqi poltical parties,
including many with a religious base, have announced that they will boycott the planned January elections. They met at the Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad under the auspices of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars and its allies among Sunni fundamentalists, but they were joined by 8 Shiite parties and one Christian one. The Iraqi Turkmen Front and the People's Union Party (Communist) also joined in the boycott.
It would appear the the storming of Fajulla has not made the January election anymore likely. He also reports that violence is increasing throughout the country.
Even with all the massive violence going on in the country, some 3,000 angry Iraqis demonstrated in front of the Green Zone on Wednesday, demanding the release of al-Hasani's followers. AP said, that Hassani's ' spokesman Maath al-Zargawi told The Associated Press . . . [that] the seven had been arrested from Ayatollah al-Hassani's offices in Karbala, Amarah, Shamiya, and Diwaniya . . . "We call on the coalition forces to free them," Zargawi said. He said the office did not know the reason for their arrests. '
See my post at MEJ on some disturbing intelligence from Falluja.

Bloggus Interruptus

posted by Jazz at 11/18/2004 10:24:00 AM

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Blogging will be a bit late today, and likely light. Sorting out some technical problems. Please check back later, and in the meantime go visit some of my wonderful friends (and enemies!) in my blogroll.

Cheers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bah Humbug!

posted by georg at 11/17/2004 04:07:00 PM

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Here is yet another rant about how early the Christmas crap comes out. One of my friends who feels lucky to have his retail job tells me his first display went up July 12 this year. And now, they have most of their decorations up. I have been watching Christmas commercial on every single channel now since before Halloween. And while looking at the on sale Back to School stuff, I noticed I was humming a Christmas carol, because it was being piped in the overhead music. I immediately stopped and yelled an expletive. What the heck are they doing to us?

I was really annoyed this weekend, when I had planned an event for people to travel to from all over NY and PA, and I did not know the street on which I had expected all of the travellers to drive was taken over by the city's annual Christmas Parade. Yes, the Christmas Parade! And I had not known about it until I heard all of the noise and wondered where all of my friends were. They were stuck in traffic wondering if our fair city has looked at a calendar.

Now, I don't mind shopping early for the holiday - in fact my shopping is done. So I don't mind getting some advertising suggesting what I ought to be buying for those near and dear to me. But there's so many unrealistic expectations created by advertising, that it fairly sets my blood to boiling. I do not expect ever to find a bow-wrapped car on my driveway, for instance. Nor will I ever buy every member of my family a cellular phone so we can talk as long as we like. Heck, some members of my family are barely on speaking terms except for holidays. The most recent ad that bothered me was the two kids roughly 8 and 6 admiring a toolbox that had to cost several hundred dollars. How the heck are they supposed to pay for it? That's right, they can't - but they'll look cute which may get Mom to consider it.

Too much advertising only rubs my nose into how much I hate the holidays. My family isn't religious. We don't bother going to church on Christmas (well, ok, my brother's family does, but we don't as a family. And that is the true Purpose of Christmas, or so most people should say. Go and celebrate the birth of the Christian saviour. I haven't seen a commercial yet where Jesus appears and tells you to go buy this-and-so, but I am confident it's just a matter of time. I call the holiday kissmoose. This is celebrated by a family reunion, and obligatory gifts, and we don't mind the pagan trappings of gorging ourselves and lighting a tree to guard the light in the dark of the year.

It's the obligation part that bothers me most. One doesn't have much choice but to make the journey to see one's family, assuming of course that one is lucky enough to be blessed with family. And I imagine all of these commercials must really bother those who do not have anyone to feel obliged to, or simply enjoy the company of. It's bad enough to have it all December long... but the more of the year spent gearing up for the enormous let down of not having the brand new car or shiny tool box or whatever thing you've been primed to expect by the advertisers... Who really needs it? Bah humbug.

It really just makes me wish I could afford TIVO or other method of never ever watching commercials again.

PETA will forever be the bane of my life

posted by Jazz at 11/17/2004 10:11:00 AM

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Direct from the AP, we have yet another heart warming tale of the wackos at PETA, proving once again that any cause, even the noble pursuit of animal rights, can be turned into a surreal laughing stock.

Touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternatives, animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish ? contrary to stereotype ? are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.

Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.

"No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. "Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."

The campaign is in its infancy and will face broad skepticism. Major groups such as the American Heart Association (news - web sites) recommend fish as part of a healthy diet; some academics say it is wrong to portray the intelligence and pain sensitivity of fish as comparable to mammals.

This doesn't require much of an explanation from me. These people lost their credibility so long ago that I don't think anyone remembers a time when they were taken seriously. Long time readers of Running Scared might remember when I was attacked by this group for supporting the preservation of old growth forests as being more important than some small sea bird. Some things never change. One of my fond memories of that week was Joe Territo reading of my little encounter and commenting, "Remember: animals are food, not clothing. Well, except cows... and sheep..."

Joe Gandelman has a much more extensive take on this than I. "Dear Bruce: Due to your new attempt at dietary PC you are now a member of The Moderate Voice's highly select Get A Life Club. We would not suggest a hook in your mouth (although duct tape might be a good idea) since you are certainly as intelligent as a cat, dog or a halibut."

I don't normally quote too much of Capt. Ed over at Captain's Quarters, but this one had me rolling in the aisles. "Trying to convince us that catfish are the equivalent of cats point to even more silliness in the future. Will we be regaled with advertising that exhorts us to stop using antibiotics because they're cruel to microbes?"

Read and enjoy.

Empty Nests and Ancient Eggs

posted by Jazz at 11/17/2004 10:00:00 AM

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I just guest blogged a piece at Middle Earth Journal about a truly wonderful column brought to us today by Pulitzer Prize winning author Leonard Pitts. (Permalinked in my right hand column.) It deals with the joys of a childless home and the mind boggling story of a 57 year old woman who just gave birth to twins. Check it out.

Where was Sistani???

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/17/2004 09:49:00 AM

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Over at MEJ last week we reported that River at Baghdad Burning was asking "Where is Sistani"?
Furthermore, where is Sistani? Why isn't he saying anything about the situation? When the South was being attacked, Sunni clerics everywhere decried the attacks. Where is Sistani now, when people are looking to him for some reaction? The silence is deafening.
Juan Cole reports that the Arab press has picked up that question.
Al-Hayat, Ja`far al-Ahmar: The battle of Fallujah uncovered some of the fissures, contradictions, and criticisms that had not been admitted by any local, Arab or regional party. The reaction to the American assault on Fallujah has been muted among Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other major Shiite clerics, leading to angry editorials in the Arabic press decrying "silence" and "collaboration with the Americans in implementing their crimes in Fallujah."
At he same time Sistani is trying to establish a Shiite power base. If the elections in January are boycotted by the Sunnis, as they have threatened, the Kurds may boycott as well to insure that a Shiite controlled government does not have the appearance of legitimacy. After years of oppression the main concern of the Shiite leaders is a big piece of the political pie. Can a religious civil war be too far away?


Dear Condi

posted by Jazz at 11/17/2004 08:52:00 AM

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The New York Times has some advice for Condi Rice as she steps into the role of Secretary of State, but not before they give a rather critical assessment of her qualifications.

As secretary of state, Ms. Rice is going to be first and foremost a loyal servant of Mr. Bush's agenda and worldview, and that does not bode well for those who were hoping for a more nuanced approach to American diplomacy. Much more worrisome is where the people around her and directly under her will be getting their marching orders. Stephen Hadley, who will become national security adviser after four years as Ms. Rice's loyal second, has ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, as do other officials who have been mentioned for possible top jobs at the State Department. If Ms. Rice surrounds herself with ideologues who adopt Mr. Cheney's my-way-or-the-highway attitude toward the rest of the world, she'll be undermining herself and the United States' national interests from Day 1.

Ms. Rice, a former academic, has no real background in managing a vast bureaucracy or in hands-on diplomacy. But she has other attributes that could serve her well in her new job. Unlike Colin Powell, Ms. Rice seems willing to travel constantly. That's a critical requirement for a secretary of state. Diplomacy is a world of formal positions and personal relationships - breakthroughs almost always occur when players at the highest level meet face to face. And when Ms. Rice negotiates in her new job, she will not only have an exalted title, but will also have all the power that comes from having the president's trust and attention.

These are some of the concerns that I have raised over this choice. The last thing Bush needs is another Yes (wo)Man heading up an extremely important post. But if he has to have one, he should at least have picked a person with some credentials in face-to-face diplomacy on the world stage. Condi comes from the closed off world of academia, and has been Bush's ever present shadow, constantly saying what he wanted to hear, rather than what he needed to know.

On to the advice:

The greatest service Ms. Rice could do for the nation, the world and the legacy of President Bush would be to focus her considerable energies on encouraging a permanent peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the real key to long-term stability in the Middle East, and opportunities to achieve it have opened up with the death of Yasir Arafat. If Mr. Bush could manage to do what Bill Clinton tried so hard to do, but failed, it could be an achievement that would overshadow many of the foreign policy disasters of the first term. And Ms. Rice would have proved beyond argument that she deserved the president's - and the nation's - trust because of qualities far more important than knee-jerk loyalty.

This raises two alarming questions. First, why does every Secretary of State have to make the Israel Palestine situation their "first priority?" With or without Arafat, these people are either going to work out their problems or they're going to blow each other up. My second concern is if it's even worth her trying. You may remember that Ms. Albright didn't have much luck there during her tenure as the first female head of the State Department, and it was widely whispered that one of the reasons was that the Israel and Palestine leaders don't do well dealing with women in these positions. Add that to Dr. Rice's obvious lack of hands on experience in diplomacy, and you have a recipe for failure.

If we must be saddled with Condi as the Secretary of State, perhaps she should just leave well enough alone and let the Middle East sort itself out. Time will tell.

Scramjet Hits Mach 10

posted by Jazz at 11/17/2004 07:48:00 AM

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This is pretty damned exciting. The x-43A has hit mach 10. In layman's terms, that's roughly 6,600 miles per hour.

The black X-43A, fastened to a larger, white booster rocket, was carried to 40,000 feet (13,157 meters) strapped to the right wing of a B-52, which took off from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. At a post-flight news conference Tuesday, mission managers said they had only begun to look at the data, but they believed the aircraft reached a speed of about 6,600 miles (10,621 kilometers) per hour, or about Mach 10.

For those of you not following science and technology news, this sort of plane, if made commercially viable, could take people from New York to LA in about thirty minutes. Here's a snapshot of the speed demon in action.



Put in a bid for me

posted by Jazz at 11/17/2004 07:24:00 AM

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So, is this the real Virgin Mary, crusted into a ten year old grilled cheese sandwich?




You can be the judge. eBay seemed to think that it was worth allowing an online auction for the petrified lunch item to continue. Current bid... 16,000 dollars. Yes, yes... you're laughing now. But when you show up in Heaven and see Bill Gates in line ahead of you, holding on to that sandwich for dear life, you may reconsider.

I found it amusing that some clever individual already registered the domain name virginmarycheesesandwich.com and put it up for sale. No takers yet, though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 03:02:00 PM

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Taken from our comments section in this post...

"It's hard to get really fired up about the middle of the road until someone tries to run you off of it."

- Ron Beasley, Middle Earth Journal

So true, Ron. I'm still smiling. :-)

More From Fallujah

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 01:40:00 PM

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It's time once again to go back and visit Jill, from Brilliant at Breakfast, who has a more comprehensive roundup of the Fallujah & Mosul situation, and the Marines executing prisoners stories than I was able to manage. Some of her observations...

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to sit in judgment on these guys. Many of them are on stop-loss orders, they haven't a clue why they're there or what on earth they're supposed to be doing. They're told that they're liberating the very people that they're told to kill; but that everyone they come across is "the enemy."

By the way, THIS is exactly the sort of thing John Kerry told Congress about back in 1971. Those guys too were losing their humanity in an unjust botch job of a war. He wanted it stopped. The Swift Boat Liars wanted to stay there and kill a few hundred thousand more people.

To quote the person I'm quoting.... "Jesus H. Christ." Some days the news nearly drives me to stop drinking.

Moderate Republicans are Cowards

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 01:29:00 PM

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If you're still despairing about the position of moderates in the GOP, it will be worth your time to read this post by Dennis over at The Moderate Republican. A short bit of it follows:

I'm going to be very frank: the Republican party was never hijacked by the Religious Right. They took it over fair and square, precinct by precinct. We moderates never really gave a damn for the party and never challenged them and then we whine about how right wing the party has become. Well, we never did a damn thing to stop them. And when it gets uncomfortable, we run like cowards instead of standing and fighting. If we believe that the GOP stands for values like equality and the environment, then why aren't we fighting for them? If we are so distressed that the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower has lost its way, why aren't we working to represent the values that they brought to this party? Why can't moderates exhibit the same kind of devotion, show the same commitment to their values as the far right does to theirs? Why can't we have the balls to stand up for our beliefs?

How was ancient Athens like the Bush administration?

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/16/2004 11:55:00 AM

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There is someone more long winded than Jazz, pessimist at The Left Coaster. Like Jazz he is usually worth the read and today's post is no exception, We Have All Been Here Before. I'm going to snip out a "small" piece below that pessimist got from Pull No Punches.com, but the entire post is worth a read.
In 431 BC, the Greek world went to war against Athens. Thucydides claims that the reason for war was the �growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused.� The Athenians were a proud people who had ultimate faith in their institutions. They saw themselves as a model upon which the whole Greek world should mold itself. �I would prefer ...that you fix your eyes everyday on the greatness of Athens as she really is,� stated Pericles, �and you shall fall in love with her.�
The problem for Athens was that the majority of city-states in the Greek world did not share the Athenian vision. To most of the city states, especially those within the Delian League, Athens was an arrogant, power-hungry entity that would do anything to keep and maintain power. Athens bullied members of the Delian League into providing cash for security.
The brutal actions of Athens toward the people of Lesbos and Melos sparked uprisings all over the empire. Although much of these were suppressed by Athens, this weakened the great democracy, eventually bringing a tragic defeat to the once mighty empire. Athens had to give up all colonies and the people were forced to stand by as the tattered remains of their glorious navy was put to the torch.
History has a way of repeating itself. I am afraid that we are setting a course for the same fate that Athens experienced in the 5th century B.C. And recent events in Fallujah have only helped clarify that idea in my mind.

While rereading Pericles� funeral oration from Book 2 of The Peloponnesian War, I could see George W. Bush, standing in front of a joint session of Congress or on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The locations may have changed, but much of the rhetoric is the same: we are great, the world envies us because we are free, the world wants to be like us, we don�t have to apologize for anything, we are the greatest idea to ever become a reality. Same basic ideas broken only by 2,500 years of history.

In Fallujah, we are battling insurgents who are rebelling against our empire. But we are not only killing insurgents, but women and children�entire families are being gunned down as they try to flee their burning city. We came to liberate them from Saddam, yet in the process of their �liberation� some 100,000 Iraqi civilians have now died. We are punishing the very people we are purportedly �liberating.�
History certainly does repeat itself if you let it.



No Child Indeed

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 11:28:00 AM

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No child left behind? The Bull Moose says, "Leave no incompetent Secretary of Defense behind" speaking in reference to Colin Powell's departure. Heed the wisdom of the moose.

"Well, he's dead now."

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 07:03:00 AM

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One of the dangers of "news on demand" in this age of technological revolutions and "embedded reporters" in war zones, is that we will occasionally wind up seeing things that many of us would probably prefer to avoid. Such was the case with this report out of Fallujah.

Before launching into this, I want to say that the old adage is very true - war is hell. And in war, many things happen which everyone, including the soldiers involved, would probably wish to avoid. Without knowing all of the details of the situation, both during the incident and leading up to it, we are in no position to judge these troops for their actions. However, with that said, this sort of live reporting is the type of thing which will continue to fuel the anger and violence of the Iraqi resistance fighters, and further damage the image of the American and British troops in Iraq. (Ooops... sorry. Didn't mean to forget those ten guys from Poland.)

The problem with this situation is that we have an American soldier, captured on film, looking down at a wounded and possibly unconscious Iraqi inside of a Mosque.

Four of the men appeared to have been shot again in Saturday's fighting, and one of them appeared to be dead, according to the pool report. In the video, a Marine was seen noticing that one of the men appeared to be breathing.

A Marine approached one of the men in the mosque saying, "He's [expletive] faking he's dead. He's faking he's [expletive] dead."

The Marine raised his rifle and fired into the apparently wounded man's head, at which point a companion said, "Well, he's dead now."

When told by the pool reporter that the men were among those wounded in Friday's firefight, the Marine who fired the shot said, "I didn't know, sir. I didn't know."

To give fair time to both sides of the coin, we have no idea what these men were going through before they arrived inside of the Mosque. They had doubtless been under heavy fire from the insurgents, literally battling for their lives. It's not beyond comprehension that some of them could come close to the breaking point in such circumstances and perform what might appear, to the outside eye, a vicious, violent act. There were other reports, detailed in that same article, of Iraqi insurgents using a white surrender flag to lure American troops into an ambush. That isn't the sort of thing that builds confidence and compassion in our troops on the front line.

This incident is being investigated, and hopefully a thorough job will be done with the full results widely promulgated to the people of Iraq. If we are ever to get ourselves out of the Iraq hole that George W. Bush dug for us and leave anything resembling a viable nation behind, we need the confidence and support of the Iraqi people. The continued discovery of incidents like this does nothing but destroy any good will we might be generating.

Cross Posted at The Left Right Debate.

Self Feeding Fires and the GOP

posted by Jazz at 11/16/2004 06:36:00 AM

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From my time in the military I can tell you that there is one type of fire that emergency service responders fear more than others. It's not a paper or wood fire, (Class "A") or a combustible liquid fuel fire, (Class "B") or even an electrical fire. (Class "C") It's a magnesium fire. For those not familiar, magnesium is a metal which can, under high enough temperatures and the right conditions, begin to burn, rather than melting. And it burns at such a temperature that it will melt down into or through anything it's sitting on.

The frightening part about magnesium fires isn't just the extreme high temperature, though. It's that the fire provides its own oxygen. You can't put it out even by cutting off its oxygen supply. It can burn underwater. That is why it is sometimes referred to as a "self feeding fire." It provides its own fuel, oxygen, and heat... the three legs of the "fire triangle" which are required to sustain flames.

The Republican party is on fire right now, too. And I don't mean that in the same sense as when a sportscaster says that the New York Jets are "on fire" after winning their first five games in a row. The GOP is burning itself up in the flames of a hard core right wing takeover. It began all the way back in the Reagan and Bush 41 era, though it was mostly smoldering until the second Clinton term. But by the time Bush 43 was running for office against Al Gore, it had erupted into a full blown immolation. Moderates were shouted down or evicted in many areas. Others were forced to toe a more conservative line in order to maintain favor in the party. By the time this election rolled around, we were seeing internal revolutions where hard core conservative groups were trying to unseat incumbent Republicans because they "weren't conservative enough." This very nearly took out Arlen Specter this year in his own primary.

And now, the fire begins to feed itself. As reported in CNN this morning, Bush is going to be allowed to, in essence, hand pick the successor to Ed Gillespie as the head of the Republican National Committee. If we'd been given the slightest chance, this would have been a great time for us to talk about the possibility of putting a moderate Republican voice in charge of the GOP over the next several years. It would have been a sign of maturity and the ability to face the reality of a constantly shifting national electorate. It would also have been a significant sign of good faith in moving towards healing the national political schism.

Instead, we will be given Bush's personal right hand man, Ken Mehimin. This will signal nothing short of a celebratory victory dance by the theocons, and a continued push to force any centrist, moderate voices out of the party. Unfortunately, this is going to come back to bite them in the butt in some areas... particularly the Northeast, where Republicans tend to be very moderate, pro-choice politicians out of necessity.

All I can say is, "burn, baby, burn." When is that centrist party forming up again?

Monday, November 15, 2004

From little credibility to none

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/15/2004 06:24:00 PM

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It is being reported that Condiliar Rice will be nominated to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. If this isn't the Peter Principle at work I don't know what is. She is without a doubt the most incompetent National Security Advisor in history but she had apparently not reached her level on maximum incompetence. She will have absolutely zero credibility in the capitols of the world.

Dust off the Tin Foil Hat

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/15/2004 02:16:00 PM

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I have avoided donning my tin foil hat when it comes to election fraud but Zogby pollster Colin Shea is making it difficult. It's easy to cast aside the theories from the left wing media and blogs but this report with lots of statistics is hard not to take seriously.
The facts as I see them now defy all logical explanations save one--massive and systematic vote fraud. We cannot accept the result of the 2004 presidential election as legitimate until these discrepancies are rigorously and completely explained. From the Valerie Plame case to the horrors of Abu Ghraib, George Bush has been reluctant to seek answers and assign accountability when it does not suit his purposes. But this is one time when no American should accept not getting a straight answer. Until then, George Bush is still, and will remain, the �Accidental President' of 2000. One of his many enduring and shameful legacies will be that of seizing power through two illegitimate elections conducted on his brother's watch, and engineering a fundamental corruption at the very heart of the greatest democracy the world has known. We must not permit this to happen again.
It's too late to turn this election around but "We must not permit this to happen again".


Confirmed Clickaholic

posted by Jazz at 11/15/2004 01:20:00 PM

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It' s now obvious that I've hit the bottom of a very deep, rocky well. I was over at Mr. Left's site, and I just clicked on a link which said, (and I couldn't make this up if I tried)...

"More on Cheney's Cock Here"

Posting will be up to the guest bloggers for a while, sorry. I have to run and wash my eyes out with sulfuric acid and cut off a few fingers.

Jazz's Evil Spreads Across the Landscape

posted by Jazz at 11/15/2004 01:10:00 PM

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From comments, e-mails and a hit counter, I know that a number of you subject yourselves to the horrors of reading this blog on a regular basis. Given my propensity for massive quantities of long winded posts, it's easy to imagine that you often find yourself ready to tear out your hair or jab a pencil in your eye. But I can also fully sympathize with a problem that most of these same people are facing.

"Jazz," you say, "there are still five or ten minutes out of my day when I've already read all of your pedantic drivel, both here and at Middle Earth Journal, and still have some time to waste in an utterly unproductive fashion. What am I to do?"

Well, fear not. Now you have yet another place to torment yourself with my inane ramblings. Some time ago I introduced you to an online political debate forum, (linked in my "must read" blogroll to the right) called The Left Right Debate. I was originally directed to it by one of Running Scared's most trusted sources, Joe Territo, who is an author there.

Now, in an act of highly questionable wisdom, the owners of Left Right Debate have turned over the keys to their site to yours truly, allowing me to freely corrupt their little corner of the blogosphere with my despicable moderate views. I launched an opening salvo at the right wingers today with an analysis of a recent TownHall column titled "Media Bashing the Media." Given my utter disdain for the extremes on both sides, I'll probably be attacking the lefties soon. So feel free to feed my ego and go check it out, along with all of the other left, right, and moderate authors there, hashing out the issues of the day.

On the Frontiers of Freedom in Iraq

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/15/2004 10:57:00 AM

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Jazz has a good post at MEJ this morning on the mess in the Sunni areas of Iraq. Juan Cole has some additional details and some history.
Most Americans do not realize that Fallujah is celebrated in Iraqi history and poetry for its defiance of the British in the Great Rebellion of 1920. The 1920 revolution against the British is key to modern Iraqi history. One of the guerrilla groups taking hostages named itself the "1920 Revolution Brigades." Western journalists who don't know Iraqi history have routinely mistranslated the name of this group.
Professor Cole points out the the Iraqis don't have enough security forces to maintain the peace and security and with the outbreaks in Mosul the Americans are streched thin.
"The most immediate concern for the interim government is manpower. Iraq has no more than eight battalions of the newly trained troops, whose main job is to occupy cities after U.S. forces defeat insurgents. Duty in Samarra and Fallujah, which have about a half million people between them, already was stretching that force thin. Adding duty in Mosul "means you're operating right out on the edge of what forces you have -- Iraqi forces," the U.S. official said.

American forces may be stretched thin as well. A battalion deployed outside Fallujah raced back to its Mosul base when insurgents struck, attacking in groups as large as 50 at a time, numbers not previously seen in the city, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings of Task Force Olympia, the brigade that in February replaced a much larger unit, the 101st Airborne Division."
There is a real danger that the Sunnis will boycott the election. This is making the Kurds nervous since without the Sunnis there will be nothing to keep the Shiites from taking complete control. That would be like having the Radical Christian Right take control of all four branches of the US government. Oh wait, that's happened!!!!!!

A Filtered Peek at Afghanistan

posted by Jazz at 11/15/2004 09:51:00 AM

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There are always accusations from hard core Bush supporters that the media doesn't pay enough attention to the good things that happen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obviously, a case can be made from the other side of the fence that the administration tries to whitewash the cavalcade of completely awful news coming out of these places, but for a moderate, it still seems fitting to look at what good news there is to be found.

Arthur Chrenkoff, for those not familiar, is a right winger from Australia who does an admirable job of rounding up such good news. In an article posted both at Opinion Journal and his own blog, Arthur provides a veritable laundry list of positive news items. It's worth taking a look, and could give you some hope for the citizens of Afghanistan. (At least some of them.) It's an extremely long piece, but I skimmed it and found a few items of note.

Showing 98.4 percent of the votes counted, the Web site of the UN-Afghan election commission said Karzai had 55.5 percent of the votes, 39 points ahead of his closest rival, former Education Minister Yunus Qanooni. An estimated 8.2 million ballots were cast in the historic vote Oct. 9, a turnout that U.S. and Afghan officials hailed as a nail in the coffin of the former ruling Taliban, whose threats to disrupt the election proved hollow.

(Note: It would be foolish to post that without commenting on the fact that there were widespread allegations of voter fraud, and a very vocal sub-set of the citizens who thought the winner was a hand picked "puppet" of America. But the fact that they still managed to have a country wide election is, to me, a heartening sign.)

Already, Afghan women are flexing their political muscle, demanding their own places of worship. Female singers are getting for the first time being broadcast on Afghan television. Afghan women also continue to rediscover freedoms long denied:

(Extremely good news for a country where the Taliban had pushed women back into a virtual position of slavery.)

The first colloquium of Afghan journalism professors began . . . Sunday October 17, at the Ministry of Higher Education in presence of representatives from all the existing Journalism Departments of Afghanistan- Kabul, Balkh, Herat and Khost. The purpose of the meeting is to outline the first Afghan Journalism Manual, which is expected to be published next year as an essential learning tool for students of journalism. . . . The manual will be published in Dari and Pashto and will include high-quality, updated and practical teaching methodology to replace existing Soviet-style material.

Let's hope that journalism in Afghanistan turns out to be more "free" than it has been in Iraq thus far. It may be a faint hope, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them. A real and unfettered freedom of the press is one of their greatest hopes for success.

One of America's favorite adopted sons continues to inspire people the world over: "The streets are covered with pensive images of the Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Afghan national hero. But inside the gyms, the governor of California is king. 'I studied Schwarzenegger's career carefully,' says Noorulhoda Sherzad, a dentistry student and the current holder of the Mr. Kabul title. 'He achieved everything he wanted. I have dreams, too,' he said."

Ok... that one was just a bit scary. In any event, give it a read. There are many more items in there - some kind of silly, some very positive, all spun with a decidedly "everything is fine and nobody is getting shot" spin, but still good news.

Small Schools vs. Big Sports

posted by Jazz at 11/15/2004 09:38:00 AM

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A rather disturbing op-ed piece came to us this morning from Bob Herbert. It tells the story of a small school in New York City and the possible football stadium being planned there. The bottom line to this is that there is one public school that has no gymnasium, so the students have to take gym class in the school lobby. This is because of budget shortfalls. At the same time, the mayor and the governor have been actively pushing to get a lot of taxpayer money put in place to buttress the construction of the new football stadium.

We learned from a page-one story in last Thursday's Times that pupils at Public School 63 in the South Bronx have to take their gym classes in the school's lobby. They don't have a gymnasium. Their teacher, Rose Gelrod, has marked a jogging path on the lobby floor. These makeshift classes, as reporter Susan Saulny informed us, "are regularly interrupted by foot traffic to bathrooms and deliveries to the cafeteria."

The very people who are crying poverty as they deny gyms and playgrounds to the city's schoolchildren - starting with the billionaire mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and the governor, George Pataki - are pulling out every stop in an effort to round up and hand over hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to their friend Woody so he can have the grandest, most luxurious, most expensive sports stadium the country has ever seen.


My take on this should be obvious. Come on, people. This is a stadium for THE JETS! Suck it up and deal. They need a new place to play.

Bill Clinton: Elvis?

posted by Jazz at 11/15/2004 09:36:00 AM

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The new Clinton Presidential Library is getting set to open. Some of his team and supporters are enthusiastic to a degree even beyond what you might normally expect.

"Bill Clinton is a rock star," said Skip Rutherford, head of Clinton's nonprofit foundation that built the $165 million library and continues his post-presidential AIDS-fighting and racial reconciliation initiatives. "He is Elvis."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Let the purge begin

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/14/2004 10:59:00 AM

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More shameless cross posting but his is important.

Atrios discusses this piece in Newsday on how all those "liberals" in the CIA who have the nerve to leak their actual intelligence findings are to be purged.
The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
Another example of the real danger of an administration that despises facts and the truth. The CIA is about to become just another arm of the White House spin machine. If your not really frightened you should be.
Also see Jazz's post yesterday

A Question of Belief

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 10:52:00 AM

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Do you believe in evolution? Hell no, says the Archpundit. You either accept the evidence of evolution and take it as a scientific fact, or you reject the evidence and dispute it as an incorrect theory. You believe in creationism... or not, as you choose. But you don't believe in evolution. That's like believing gravity. You can choose not to in that example, also, but such disbelievers are few and they all live on the first floor. Take a look at the linked article above. Very nice indeed.

Pop Tarts and Beer

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 06:18:00 AM

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No, this isn't the beginning of our new series of recipes. (Thank God!) It's just me, shamelessly double dipping again, and telling you that I have an entry on the process of studying odd consumer shopping habits over at Middle Earth Journal. Of course, now that I think of it, today is Sunday and football will be on television later. Maybe some Pop Tarts and beer might hit the spot after all.

Slapping Down the Infidels

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 05:14:00 AM

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In the Sunday Times, Maureen Dowd has a predictable, but still enjoyable, tirade against the hard religious right wing of the GOP.

You'd think the one good thing about merging church and state would be that politics would be suffused with glistening Christian sentiments like "love thy neighbor," "turn the other cheek," "good will toward men," "blessed be the peacemakers" and "judge not lest you be judged."

Yet somehow I'm not getting a peace, charity, tolerance and forgiveness vibe from the conservatives and evangelicals who claim to have put their prodigal son back in office.

I'm getting more the feel of a vengeful mob - revved up by rectitude - running around with torches and hatchets after heathens and pagans and infidels.


I'm fully aware that this was a tongue in cheek comparison, but I still feel the need to ask - why would anyone expect peace, love and compromise from an organized religion with a nearly 2,000 year history of warfare and violence? Compassion, forgiveness and charity are all well and good for this crowd, "in theory," when they are applied to the helpless, the hopeless and the downtrodden. However, there's a whole other section of the Old Testament reserved for how you deal with infidels, upstarts, and rockers of the proverbial moral majority boat.

More than a dozen crusades and the Spanish inquisition are good examples of the portion you can expect, should you stand in the way of conservative progress. A "vengeful mob, revved up by rectitude" you say? Once you are judged to be "part of the problem," I'd say that's about right.

CNN on Blogging Today

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 04:43:00 AM

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Apparently the Online News Association held a conference in Hollywood this weekend which featured quite a few bloggers. CNN covers the story, and can you guess who they chose to interview? Was it Atrios or Hindrocket? How about Jeralyn Merrit or Dean Esmay? Nope. You guessed it, sports fans. They interviewed Wonkette. *sigh*

Ana Marie Cox and others who maintain "blogs" were criticized after the November 2 presidential election for posting exit polls throughout the day -- a practice frowned upon in the mainstream media because the data could sway the outcome.

"To the extent to which they affect voter turnout is to the extent people believe them," Cox told the Online News Association conference in Hollywood. She added that blogs have made it more difficult for mainstream news organizations "to sit on a story."

Cox, whose gossip-packed and sometimes bawdy postings make her political blog among the most-viewed on the Web, said she did nothing wrong and had the right to give people information they wanted.

Wonkette really has turned into the Mary Carey of the blogosphere. I can't help but wonder at what point she's going to just start doing these interviews topless.

The article goes on to talk about the effect of bloggers on the MSM, with the usual references to the CBS Rathergate affair. It does close, however, with a couple of interesting comments from a journalism professor.

Mindy McAdams, a University of Florida journalism professor, applauded bloggers' efforts but urged them to adhere to ethical standards held by mainstream journalists.

"Our credibility is suffering with so many people rushing to publish things without checking them out," McAdams said after Cox's speech. "Blogging is really great. I like that more and more people have a voice. That's good ... But it doesn't give people who call themselves journalists an excuse to not check out the information."

The majority of hard news that I see getting posted on blogs is almost always either links to online versions of MSM sources, or transcripts of things coming from television news. It's fairly rare for bloggers to be doing original reporting on subjects that don't get picked up by the traditional media outlets. (Sooner or later.) Is this really that much of a problem today?

In Jersey, You Don't Just Steal Small Things

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 04:21:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

I've had some experience with things being stolen in my life, though thankfully nothing that entirely ruined me. As a teenager, somebody once stole the 8-track player out of my car. Later, while living in California, somebody stole my entire car, but it was recovered the next day, little worse for the experience. About ten years ago, living in New Jersey, some people actually stole a bird feeder out of our front yard.

Apparently I got off easy in Jersey. People there steal some much larger things... like this.




The 44-foot gasoline tanker was stolen in April from a parking lot in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

The FBI's Philadelphia division has released a photograph of a chrome-plated tanker similar to the one taken from TK Transport Terminal over the Easter weekend of April 10-11.

"We're asking the public to be on the lookout for a fuel tanker in a location inconsistent with where you'd typically see an oil or gasoline delivery," FBI spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.


My initial reaction to this story says a lot about how our lives have changed in this age of terrorism. If you had asked me three and a half years ago what happened to this truck, I would have had two initial guesses. First, somebody might have taken it to park out on a farm someplace and have a lifetime supply of free gasoline. Another possibility, particularly in the New York - New Jersey area, is that it might have been an insurance scam. People have regularly sold large pieces of machinery, equipment, vehicles, etc. "under the table" and then reported them stolen to collect the insurance money on the item.

The police had two different initial theories. One guess was that it was taken "for parts", which is certainly possible. The other, which didn't occur to me, was that it may have been taken to illegally dispose of toxic waste.

But this is 2004. The very first thing that came to my mind when I read that story and looked at that picture was, "Holy cow. That would make one hell of a big bomb."

Kind of sad, I think.

Reality Check

posted by Jazz at 11/14/2004 04:09:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Another snapshot from inside Iraq. This morning it comes from A Star from Mosul, which is hosted by a sixteen year old girl living in Mosul, Iraq. I'll give fair warning ahead of time. Some of this material is fairly gritty. Aunt Najma (not her real name) is currently dealing with the fact that one of her relatives recently lost their father-in-law to the fighting in Mosul. Here's one portion. (Eid is one of the major holidays in Iraq which just passed.)

So, I have more news about the accident of S's father-in-law death.

He wasn't going to the clinic as we thought. He went to buy some things for Eid on foot. In his way back, shooting started near him, he was standing near a shop and so the shop's owner asked him to come stay in the shop till it calms down a little. In his way to the shop, he was shot with two American bullets, one got in his leg and went out from the other side, the other hit his finger and went to the leg too. He bleeded too much, the shop's owner tried to get him a taxi, but there were a curfew and there are no cars. A man saw him and recognized him and dropped him at the hospital and went back to his family.


When his family got there, he was already dead. They say that he died in the car. The main cause if his death is that he was bleeding a lot and there were no cars to get him to a hospital immediately.


She posts fairly regularly, power and access allowing, and gives us a peek inside of the day to day life in Mosul. She doesn't seem to have an overly pro or anti-American stance. She just wants to survive.