Saturday, January 31, 2004

An incredible article from Steven Vincent inFrontPage, a right wing site that I generally don't frequent (via Nathan Newman).

Becoming a Feminist in Baghdad
By Steven Vincent | January 12, 2004

...privately, "women's lib" always made me feel defensive and I sought to avoid the topic if I could. Besides, as a freelance journalist, I wondered: where, exactly, were the advantages I enjoyed as a member of the oppressive patriarchy?

Then I went to Iraq. During my five weeks "in country" this fall, I witnessed a social, political and humanitarian disaster consume Iraqi women. Frightened by rampant crime, bullied by religious fundamentalism, pressured by increasing tribalism, they are losing their rights and freedoms before the eyes of the world. It's an unnerving spectacle, like watching people fall prey to a police state-but in Iraq's case, the despotism consists not of storm troopers and fuehrers, but customs, traditions and beliefs that command the hearts and minds of millions of people, including their victims. post-9-11 interest in Afghanistan's Taliban introduced me to anti-feminist Islamic law, or shari'a. But what I hadn't considered was the centrality of women's rights in the war against Islamofascism. It seems obvious now: if America democratizes Iraq, we will gain a huge victory against our enemies. But democracy is unthinkable without the emancipation of Iraqi women. As Abdul Mashtak, a director of the Baghdad-based National Association for Human Rights, told me, "Women are our most underdeveloped resource. If Iraq is to create a new society, women must be equal partners with men."

I didn't grasp Mashtak's point right away. Instead, I watched women walk in searing Baghdad heat wrapped in black robes, read that the female illiteracy rate is skyrocketing, with 35 percent of girls now dropping out of school...

Once you link women's rights with the country's democratization, it's a short step to connecting the issue with freedom throughout the entire Middle East-and, by extension, victory in the war against terror. In this context, cultural mores take on enormous significance: no longer an exotic foreign custom, hejab now appears as fundamentalist's weapon that oppresses women and retards the spread of democracy. Even more unacceptable are "honor killings"- the tradition of murdering females who have somehow disgraced their families. (I am writing this essay in Amman, Jordan, where a 22 year-old man just received a suspended one-year prison sentence for brutally killing his sister because she persisted in leaving home without parental permission.) In short, what befalls Middle Eastern women affects the security of America.

Oddly enough, I'm feeling isolated in my neo-con feminism. I'm sure I'll sooner hear NOW President Kim Gandy discuss Michael Waltrip's chances in the Daytona 500 than Rumsfeld & Co. denounce honor killings or shari'a. Not only because the right maintains a reflexive opposition to feminism, but, more importantly, Shi'a Muslims represent some 65 percent of Iraq's population. As Ahmed Darwish al-Kinani-head of the Baghdad-based Islamic Iraqi Movement, told me, "Islam is specific on men's authority: man leads and woman follows. Under shari'a women are treated like precious gems in a jewel box." When I asked the cleric what would happen if Iraq's new constitution violated shari'a by endorsing women's rights, al-Kinani looked unhappy. "Then there could be violence." Will the White House push gender equality and risk alienating a crucial component of Iraqi society? I doubt it...

Leftists are of little help, either. Although they denounce Middle Eastern sexism, they rarely posit the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq as pro-feminist. Instead, they profess a multiculturalism that renders them incapable of criticizing foreign customs...

The Jobless Recovery (

The Washington Post is getting to be a little bit like the Wall Street Journal; ok on newsgathering, but so reactionary in the editorial page that you really have to wonder-- with the WSJ, at least they forthrightly wear their conservative mantle, whereas WaPo is still seen, wrongly, as a liberal newspaper:

Firms have to create jobs they never had before, which takes longer than re-creating old ones. As a result, the new structural nature of unemployment means that job creation lags in the early stages of a recovery.

Mr. Bush should not be blamed for this, though his irresponsible fiscal policy harms business confidence and therefore job creation. But the bigger question is whether jobless recoveries are a bad thing. They are, after all, the flip side of good news. There is less cyclical unemployment these days, so recessions are milder; fewer jobs are being created now because fewer jobs were destroyed during the downturn*

*This is simply not true. 2.4 million jobs lost since 2000, versus less than 100,000 new jobs since the ostensible recovery started in 2003.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Let them Eat Economic Expansion:

WaPo:Record Number to Run Out of Unemployment Benefits (

A record-high 375,000 jobless workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance this month and an estimated 2 million workers will find themselves in the same predicament during the first half of the year, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

...Congress voted in 2002 to give unemployed workers an additional 13 weeks of benefits and extended the program twice. But it expired just before Christmas. Congressional Republicans said another extension wasn't necessary because the economy was gaining strength and job growth was near at hand.| Md. vote machines flawed, consultant says

Md. vote machines flawed, consultant says

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Tom Stuckey

Jan. 30, 2004 | ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Computers that Maryland voters will use in the March primary contain "vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious individuals," according to programmers who tested the equipment.

Hackers could easily compromise 16,000 touch-screen computers in precincts statewide, Michael Wertheimer of RABA Technologies told a state legislative committee on Thursday.

RABA's report, which focused on hardware, is the latest study by computer scientists to conclude that electronic systems pose significant security risks.

Dozens of states are rushing to replace punch-card and lever systems with modern voting equipment to qualify for federal matching funds through the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

Maryland is spending $55.6 million to move toward an entirely electronic system that does not provide traditional paper ballots that could be used in case of a recount.

A team assembled by Columbia-based RABA conducted an exercise Jan. 19 to simulate an attack on Maryland's touch-screens, built by North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold Inc.

Members found that individual machines could be disabled by jamming a voter card into a terminal or lifting it up and pulling out wires. The team guessed passwords on the cards that were needed to access the machines, and found the passwords were contained in the source code of the computers.

The team also said the computer server that tabulates election results did not have security updates from Microsoft Corp. Team members were able to break into the server remotely via dial-up modem.

Wertheimer said he was surprised that each of Maryland's machines has two identical locks, which could be opened by any one of the 32,000 keys. The report also stated it was easy to pick the locks.

Bob Urosevich, president of Diebold Election Systems, focused on the positive aspects of the report, which stated that major software changes were "not needed" before the March primary.

The RABA report confirms "the accuracy and security of Maryland's voting procedures and our voting systems as they exist today," Urosevich said in a statement. "With that said ... there will always be room for improvement and refinement."

RABA recommended liberal use of tamper tape, including inside and outside two locked boxes on each machine. The tape would show if someone had broken into, or attempted to break into, a machine. RABA also suggested each voting machine have a different password.

Linda Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, said it would be too risky to install 16,000 different passwords by March 2 and make sure election judges had the right passwords. Lamone told legislators that poll workers had already made some of RABA's recommendations, including tamper tape on the machines.

"They are going to look like someone who has duct tape wrapped around them," Lamone said.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Saturday, January 24, 2004

They now have a t-shirt(I think.).
"Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction" Anyway, it's time to put a bunch of unlikely links together again, and see if it has any effect on my site visits("hits").
One, Two, Three:

1. David Kay prevaricating a bit, but he concedes that stockpiles of bio and chemical weapons probably never existed.

2. "Colin Powell says it is an "open question" whether stocks of weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq and conceded it was possible Saddam Hussein had none."

3. I'm waiting for Bush to spin this-- you know he has to say something, probably soon. Something probably pretty obscenely bald-faced. Maybe he'll "concede" that there wasn't "any difference" whether there were WMDs because it was so important to remove Saddam from power. So important to him, that is-- but I imagine he'll leave that part out.

Friday, January 23, 2004

from Salon's interview with Larry C. Johnson,"The CIA revolt against the White House":

Accountability is also a problem within these huge bureaucracies. Here's one quick example: The individual at CIA who was blamed for the wrong targeting information that led to the attack on the Chinese embassy in the former Yugoslav Republic several years back [NATO air strikes mistakenly hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999], was actually the same person who raised concerns that the targeting information was wrong. But that analyst's senior managers ignored him.

...Salon: But why does the intelligence community appear increasingly to be in open revolt against the White House? If the political pressures are nothing new, why the unprecedented degree of protest?

A:Put it this way, with this White House, I see an outright pattern of bullying: Gen. Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff, warned that the U.S. was going to need several hundred thousand troops in Iraq, and he's attacked for that, and basically told that he doesn't know what he's talking about -- and he's fired essentially a year before he's out of that job. When it's time for him to retire, not a single senior representative of the Department of Defense or White House leadership is there for his retirement. Then there was Thomas White, the secretary of the Army who was forced out. There was a senior CIA analyst by the name of Fulton Armstrong who was attacked, using leaks to the press, which alleged that he was disloyal and somehow under the influence of the Cuban government. There was a prosecutor [ousted from] the Department of Justice who had warned that John Walker Lindh's father had hired a lawyer and that [the DOJ] needed to consider the Miranda rights.

So what we've seen is a repeated pattern across different agencies, all with the apparent sanction of the White House, of going after anybody who's a critic, or who's seen as not being in tune with the administration's message. When people raise legitimate issues that may not be consistent with existing policy, instead of conducting a fair intellectual assessment of those issues, those people are attacked and their character is impugned.
The Weh Weh Game:

"In the middle of the 19th Century our Chinese Immigrants brought the number oracle game of Weh Weh with them to Trinidad and Tobago. In the 1930s this gambling game was run illegally in downtown Port of Spain. The 'banker' had to pick different spots each day ( a street corner, a bar or shop) from where his 'runners' picked up the bets from the gamblers..."

more here: Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Child-Play Weh
I thought this was a joke, like that ridiculous poem:Remarks by the President to the Press Pool

Remarks by the President to the Press Pool
Nothin' Fancy Cafe
Roswell, New Mexico

11:25 A.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: I need some ribs.

Q Mr. President, how are you?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm hungry and I'm going to order some ribs.

Q What would you like?

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think I'd like.

Q Sir, on homeland security, critics would say you simply haven't spent enough to keep the country secure.

THE PRESIDENT: My job is to secure the homeland and that's exactly what we're going to do. But I'm here to take somebody's order. That would be you, Stretch -- what would you like? Put some of your high-priced money right here to try to help the local economy. You get paid a lot of money, you ought to be buying some food here. It's part of how the economy grows. You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?

Q Right behind you, whatever you order.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm ordering ribs. David, do you need a rib?

Q But Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: Stretch, thank you, this is not a press conference. This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food?

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. What would you like?

Q Ribs.

THE PRESIDENT: Ribs? Good. Let's order up some ribs.

Q What do you think of the democratic field, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: See, his job is to ask questions, he thinks my job is to answer every question he asks. I'm here to help this restaurant by buying some food. Terry, would you like something?

Q An answer.

Q Can we buy some questions?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously these people -- they make a lot of money and they're not going to spend much. I'm not saying they're overpaid, they're just not spending any money.

Q Do you think it's all going to come down to national security, sir, this election?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things David does, he asks a lot of questions, and they're good, generally.

END 11:29 A.M. MST

thanks to Skimble.
The San Diego Union-Tribune article reads: Dean's Iowa speech lives despite candidate's efforts to move on I've been out of the loop for a few days, just going to school and work-- so this is "that speech".

Monday, January 19, 2004

Avedon Carol wrote to upbraid me(in a nice way) about my failure to note the original source of this post
from the 16th. (, which it now points to.)

You probably already know that Kerry won Iowa, Edwards did surprisingly well, and Dean and Gephardt didn't do so hot. Does this change everything? Maybe, because right after NH we have Arizona, South Carolina and Oklahoma, states where southerners Clark and Edwards could do well.

As I've written before, I still don't know who to vote for(even though I thought it was going to be all over by the time the Texas primary rolled around with Dean the nominee-- now it actually looks like the race might still be going on "Super Tuesday".) I was leaning just a bit towards Gephardt, but it looks like it could be over for him now.

I think Dean is for real, and I don't think he's a fringe-dwelling left-winger who's "out of touch" with what most Americans want-- I think the mainstream media has simply been lazy again, buying the bill of goods the GOP(and the so-called "Club for Growth") have been selling. What, just because he supports civil unions? But the meme appears to have gelled, and he will have to do some upstream swimming against it, no doubt "angrily". I think the anger meme could be used to his advantage though, as an indicator of authenticity.

I'd like to know if Clark is "for real"-- in other words, are his policy statements reflections of what he believes, or just the results of his putting his finger in the wind, with the help of DLC advisors? I have no such concern with say, Gephardt or Kucinich, although neither appears to have a chance at this point.. (Yes, even about Kucinich's conversion from a pro-life stance-- I'm willing to take his word on it that he gradually changed his mind. But again, it's academic.)

I don't think we'll nominate a candidate who favors broad-based overhaul of our health system.. At least not this time. Maybe, it will require an enron/global crossing type debacle with a major for-profit US healthcare hospital chain before the political climate here allows it. I hope not, but I can see it happening.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Perhaps Dean Should've Been Talking About Edwards...

When he called Clark "a republican in sheep's clothing."

I've been poking around the democratic candidates' web sites, and I found this doozie*, at Edwards's site. It seems he wants to lay off ten percent of federal employees exclusive of the military and homeland security. I don't know how many people that is; I looked here:
Bureau of Labor Statistics Data but couldn't find the number.

Still, I imagine that we're talking about thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people whom Edwards has summarily deemed unnecessary (I found this under "healthcare fact sheet"-- I couldn't find it anywhere else at the site.).

Edwards does deserve credit for having run one of the more positive campaigns thus far, not having taken the kind of pot-shots that Kerry or Gephardt, for example, have taken at Dean. (And if we were talking about, say, George W. Bush-- he'd probably "pay" for it simply by either 1. not paying for it, like No Child Left Behind, or 2. Borrowing more money under the auspices of his Stealth Plan to Wreck Social Security...)

Nevertheless--although I still don't know whom I'll vote for when the Texas primary rolls around, but I cannot imagine voting for Edwards based on this.

verbiage as of 18 Jan 2004, 10pm Central Time:

While Edwards asks for responsibility from parents, he also believes government must be responsible. His plan will cover approximately 21 million Americans at a cost of about $53 billion per year. His cost-cutting measures will reduce federal health spending by roughly 3%, or $17 billion per year in wasted spending. He fully pays for his plan, and achieves deficit reduction, through savings steps he has already outlined. These include the following:

*Eliminating Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans;
*Cutting the federal workforce outside defense and homeland security by 10%; and
*Eliminating a range of subsidies for banks, life-insurers, millionaire farmers, and others.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Tom Schaller at Kos says:

Sat Jan 17th, 2004 at 17:17:38 GMT

"It's morning in Iowa and, hopefully, these caucuses are the first step toward a new morning in America that begins on January 20, 2005.
You know, for all the "nine dwarves" trash talk by Republicans (and certain gutless, always-off-the-record Beltway Democrats), this field really has a lot to offer. In talking to Dems, I find that many wish they could somehow create a Lee Majors-esque, composite uber-candidate. You know what I'm talking about: Kerry's Vietnam service plus Clark's Balkan experience plus Gephardt's national domestic record plus Dean's gubernatorial fiscal discipline -- with a dash of Sharpton's quick wit, Graham's folksy twang, Braun's infectious smile and Kucinich's fiery intensity thrown in for good measure. (Sorry, but I'm at a loss to find anything bionic about Lieberman worth contributing to the mix.)"

Friday, January 16, 2004

According to BabyNames.Com, the most popular names for newborns in 2003 were dorkier and more nauseatingly affected than ever: well, that's not exactly what they said, but I'm interpreting...

top 3 boy's names:


and for girls:

ok, so girls nos. 2 and 3 are normal-- but Madison? Cringe if you know what's good for you. The boys will have years of getting beat up in school by Jeffs and Brads, and will come to resent their parents immensely.
by way of the excellent Avedon Carol,

Greenspan on the Titanic

"Ordinary Savers Drown, Not Us!

You have to listen to what they say when they are live on TV because the really important things they say are never repeated in the later bulletins.

So it was today, when Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve spoke to his Central Bankers hosts in Berlin.

And when you listen to what they have to say, you have to understand the implications of what they are saying, the underlying meaning. (Rayelan is right - this is where the chocolate is hidden.)...

During a Q&A following his speech, Greenspan was asked about the dangers of an economic crash, the collapse of currencies and the risks of collapses in the banking sector in the modern deregulated world economy. This was in context of concerns about the weak dollar and the burgeoning US current account deficit.

Casual and relaxed, almost in slow motion, Greenspan explained how deregulation had allowed the formation of a complex deriviatives sector in which risks to banks could be spread across borders and to pension funds and insurers. "Not one bank has collapsed under this deregulated system," he gloated from the bridge, hands firmly on the wheel as he peered with his watery eyes at the darkness.

He explained just how the risks had been farmed out to pension funds and insurance funds. They had taken the brunt, not the banks.

Note: "Greenspan on the Titanic" from Rumor Mill News.
(see link above.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I might as well admit I'm frustrated. 2, 3 hits a day...Maybe a confluence of unlikely links will help me generate more traffic.
Wabi Sabi: "dang it bobby quit the benihana talk."
I was leaning towards Gephardt, but now I just don't know. TodayGephardt said Dean can't be trusted.

Jan. 14, 2004 | NEVADA, Iowa (AP) -- Rep. Dick Gephardt on Wednesday called chief rival Howard Dean a "fair-weather friend of the American worker" whose promises can't be trusted and motives must be questioned.

"To me, there is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction. I believe in standing for something," the Missouri lawmaker said a speech that heightened his criticism of the Democratic presidential front-runner

Gephardt is right of course, to criticize Dean for flip-flopping on NAFTA, and I don't see an exact quote in the AP story saying Dean "can't be trusted" or "is untrustworthy". Maybe his actual words were more moderate, and it's the press embellishing-- but I'm very concerned about the democrats tearing themselves apart at this point, striking all sorts of sour notes to be regurgitated by the 200 million dollar Bush Rove Smear Machine in the fall, probably against Dean. We don't need that.
No, not the Yankee's Paul O'Neill-- I just wanted to distract you like  the republicans would.
O'Neill backpedals:

the CNN headline reads: 'Frenzy' distorted war plans account

"People are trying to make a case that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration," O'Neill said.

"Actually, there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be regime change in Iraq."

The idea that Bush "came into office with a predisposition to invade Iraq, I think, is a total misunderstanding of the situation," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.

Bush administration officials have noted that U.S. policy dating from the Clinton administration was to seek "regime change" in Iraq, although it focused on funding and training Iraqi opposition groups rather than using military force

Well, to be fair, they did threaten to investigate him, and the former treasury secretary is probably keenly aware of the magnitude of the legal bills so many amassed in the wake of the Whitewater investigation. Still--

1.You blink, and a moment later O'Neill and Rumsfeld are reading off the same notes. They got to him, Mugsy.

2. O'Neill is shocked-- shocked, that his attempt to stir controversy to sell his book has resulted in people attaching meaning to what he was implying. After all, there's our friend context. Allways fall back on that. And if that doesn't work--

3. Blame Clinton. It was his fault for setting the groundwork for toppling Saddam Hussein. I mean, if you don't like toppling. If toppling's still o.k. with you, we can reassess later. It's all good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Kevin Drum at Calpundit links to the 2000 Texas Republican Party Platform.

I think it's interesting that George W. Bush's GOP wanted, in 2000, to repeal the War Powers Act, noting that

" A perpetual state of national emergency allows unrestricted growth of government. The Party charges the president to cancel the state of national emergency and charges Congress to repeal the War Powers Act and to declare an end to the previously declared states of emergency. "

They're also bullish on creationism, want to dissolve the ATF(!), and want to abolish the federal reserve and put the U.S. back on the gold standard. Yes, these are grown men and women.


Saturday, January 10, 2004

Damfy(?) at Damfacrats has a dandy ten item list he(?) calls "ten motives for amnesty stunt". I found these two particularly interesting:

4. Make Bush pundits look objective by allowing them to criticize Bush about something. All year long we will hear, "[You can believe me because] I don't just attack Democrats, I don't kiss the Executive Branch's feet, why, I spoke out strongly when the Commander-in-Chief wanted to let those illegals stay."

5. Document immigrants so DHS can efficiently deport them when some hysteria arrives.

time will tell-- although if I had cable I'd bet I could already tell you about no. 4. News | O'Neill: U.S. planned war in January '01 Paul O'Neill, as you probably know was the treasury secretary that Bush canned in December of 2002 when he criticized Bush's then-proposed 2nd round of tax cuts. What I want to know is, why didn't he say anything last year? Was he concerned that if he warns us about Bush his book deal might be jeopardized?
I said moo.

(see below.)
Colorado Luis, who I mentioned earlier this week, is quite an entertaining fellow. He posts here on the State Quarters, of all things. I agree with him that the Wisconsin quarter is amusing. I think it should say "eat cheese or die."

Friday, January 09, 2004

image of  world map

Thursday, January 08, 2004

David Hackworth's site is Soldiers for the Truth. They link to this item at the Washington Post regarding casualties, "Faces of the Fallen."

Colorado Luis and Luz Paz both point to this Boston Globe Op-ed piece, "US stays blind to Iraqi casualties":

This is the most disgusting and least discussed aspect of President Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq. In the early days of his war Bush said, "The citizens of Iraq are coming to know what kind of people we have sent to liberate them. American forces and our allies are treating innocent civilians with kindness."

No one could possibly know the truth or lie of that statement, since the mantra of the military from Tommy Franks down to his spokespeople was, "We don't do body counts." The most bald-faced expansion on that policy was given in April by Brigadier General Vincent Brooks of Central Command. "In all cases, we inflict a considerable amount of destruction on whatever force comes into contact with us," Brooks said. "It just is not worth trying to characterize by numbers. Frankly, if we are going to be honorable by the warfare, we are not out there trying to count up bodies."

You cannot be any more frank than that. The very people we claim to liberate are not worth the honor of counting.

...Medact, the British affiliate of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, this week published a report that estimates the number of Iraqi civilian deaths during the invasion to range from 5,708 to 7,356. The report estimates that the number of civilian deaths after May 1, when Bush declared an end to major combat operations, ranges from 2,049 to 2,209.

Another study released last month by the Project on Defense Alternatives, based in Cambridge, estimated that the number of Iraqi civilian deaths in the first month of the war to be between 3,200 and 4,300. In June, the Associated Press estimated the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the invasion to be 3,250. The AP report said, "hundreds, possibly thousands of victims in the largest cities and most intense battles aren't reflected in the total."

Luis also notes this report from retired Colonel David Hackworth[broken link]:

Even I – and I deal with that beleaguered land seven days a week – was staggered when a Pentagon source gave me a copy of a Nov. 30 dispatch showing that since George W. Bush unleashed the dogs of war, our armed forces have taken 14,000 casualties in Iraq – about the number of warriors in a line tank division. We have the equivalent of five combat divisions plus support for a total of about 135,000 troops deployed in the Iraqi theater of operations, which means we’ve lost the equivalent of a fighting division since March. At least 10 percent of the total number of Joes and Jills available to the theater commander to fight or support the occupation effort have been evacuated back to the USA! Lt. Col. Scott D. Ross of the U.S. military's Transportation Command told me that as of Dec. 23, his outfit had evacuated 3,255 battle-injured casualties and 18,717 non-battle injuries. Of the battle casualties, 473 died and 3,255 were wounded by hostile fire.
And, in a companion piece of sorts, to the previous post:
Yahoo News - Levi's Closes Last Two U.S. Sewing Plants

By T.A. BADGER, AP Business Writer

SAN ANTONIO - Levi Strauss & Co., the California Gold Rush outfitter whose blue jeans are a globally recognized symbol of America, closed its last two U.S. sewing plants Thursday.

About 800 workers at the 26-year-old San Antonio plants lost their jobs in the move, which was announced last September...
Jeanne at Body and Soul has a really nice post about epiphany and Befana the Christmas witch, who I've never heard of before.
In today'sLiberalOasis post, "The Failing Latino Panderfest Continues", LO's Bill Scher discusses yesterday's immigration proposal and suggests that it will be a failure in its bald-faced, pathetic attempt to woo latino voters to the GOP ranks in November. I suspect that's true, as far as it goes, but I also wonder if such proposals aren't geared more towards the business community, especially in the border states.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

from Wired News: Bush Grabs New Power for FBI:

While the nation was distracted last month by images of Saddam Hussein's spider hole and dental exam, President George W. Bush quietly signed into law a new bill that gives the FBI increased surveillance powers and dramatically expands the reach of the USA Patriot Act.

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge.

Under the law, the FBI does not need to seek a court order to access such records, nor does it need to prove just cause.

Previously, under the Patriot Act, the FBI had to submit subpoena requests to a federal judge.

reported by Kim Zetter.

thanks to

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Bush memo to bureaucrats: don't forget to be scummy--
from today's Houston Chronicle:
Government tells employers how to avoid paying OT

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year.

The department's advice comes even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

Among the options for employers: cut workers' hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

The department says it is merely listing well-known choices available to employers, even under current law.

"We're not saying anybody should do any of this," said Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank.

No, of course you aren't.

via Cursor.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Possibly a bit harsh, but amusing nontheless:

Neal Starkman of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer discusses Bush's popularity:

The answer, I'm afraid, is the factor that dare not speak its name. It's the factor that no one talks about. The pollsters don't ask it, the media don't report it, the voters don't discuss it. I, however, will blare out its name so that at last people can address the issue and perhaps adopt strategies to overcome it. It's the 'Stupid factor,' the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright. It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think."

thanks to "eye on the left"

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Are You A(have we been) NeoCon(ned?)?

another dandy internet quiz, this time from
the Christian Science Monitor.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

from yesterday's Salon article by Robert Scheer, "The monster we helped create":

...were the trial of Saddam to be held by an impartial world court, it would prove an embarrassing two-edged sword for the White House, calling into question the motives of U.S. foreign policy. If there were a complete investigation into those who aided and abetted Saddam's crimes against humanity, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State George Shultz would probably end up as material witnesses.

It was Rumsfeld and Shultz who told Saddam and his emissaries that U.S. statements generally condemning the use of chemical weapons would not interfere with relations between secular Iraq and the Reagan administration, which took Iraq off the terrorist-nations list and embraced Saddam as a bulwark against fundamentalist Iran. Ironically, the U.S supported Iraq when it possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and invaded it when it didn't.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Blixa cringes... the sincerity shtick:

Blixa, at Warble Augur is an interesting and relatively new conservo-blogger. (Found via Micah Holmquist.)
(No connection to Blixa Bargeld, as far as I can tell...)

On December 19, apropo of Dubya's interview with Diane Sawyer (the one in which he said "what's the difference" when asked about WMDs and Sawyer responded by being taken aback and a bit flustered, but with no real follow-up), Blixa writes:

A Bush supporter and warble-augur such as myself has a problem: the man cannot speak well at all. This naturally helps his critics and raises obstacles for his supporters.

Further compounding the problem is that it's difficult to even begin to defend a man's words (even were I so inclined) if you don't know what they are. And how can I know what Bush's answers were to Diane Sawyer when even reading them, let alone listening to them, makes me cringe?

Oddly, it doesn't seem to affect my political support for his Presidency or his actions in any way. This confounds people because in the (scant) circles in which I move, it is just accepted that a President at the very minimum ought to be eloquent, silver-tongued, and possessed of great debating skill. Indeed, at times it seems as if it is primarily Bush's lack of such traits, and not his actual policy per se, which so raises the ire of the intelligentsia. Moreover, it is taken as a given that political debates and policy positions are subject to verbal proofs and analysis; if Bush's words to Diane Sawyer about the Iraq war are clumsy or don't add up, then it therefore follows that the Iraq war was wrong, QED. Why don't people see that??

How can such a man, of so little rhetorical skill, be President? It threatens the vision of meritocracy which was implicitly promised to all the bright kids in their school years, years of gold stars and four-point-ohs. Indeed the more I think about it, the easier it is to understand how for such a man to be President can cause certain people great pain, and why this pain translates into a kind of hatred which appears, at times, pathological. Bush's very existence in the Oval Office shatters a fairy tale.

First, it is refreshing to see a right wing blogger acknowledge the difficulty many of us have with the dubya lexicon. Nevertheless there are several things that give me pause here, not the least of which is "it is taken as a given that political debates and policy positions are subject to verbal proofs and analysis", and the implicit suggestion that there's something wrong with wanting policy positions that hold up to the scrutiny of "verbal proofs and analysis."(?!)

Never mind, for now, the fact that Blixa glides past the meritocratic question and fails to acknowledge that many resent the fact that GW Bush is an undeserving underachiever with a pedigree and connections that have gotten him to where he is today. What I dislike about the president's verbal clumsiness is not the clumsiness itself (as I recognize that it is possible to think and understand things clearly yet be a poor verbal communicator-- and although I think the president is hostile to intellectualism I don't think he's stupid), but the fact that he uses his clumsiness in making arguments as a sort of sincerity "shtick", meta-communicating the underlying argument that his presumptive sincerity trumps logical argument, that if you don't appreciate that he's more sincere than his detractors and you're not on his side, then you must be one of those mean, unpatriotic no-goodniks who prefer godless logic. Come to think of it, at a certain level he is pretty slick...