Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Landslide on Telegraph Hill Forces Evacuations

The story.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Andrew Sullivan on Cheney and Iran

"If Cheney decides to bomb Iran without Congressional approval, then we're not just headed for a massive increase in violence in the Middle East and the U.S., we're also facing a constitutional crisis and a military revolt. Sane hands would never begin to countenance such a gambit. But Cheney's going down. And people who know they're doomed can do crazy things."

"Substance Over Image"

From today's Paul Krugman column:

Six years ago a man unsuited both by intellect and by temperament for high office somehow ended up running the country.

How did that happen? First, he got the Republican nomination by locking up the big money early.

Then, he got within chad-and-butterfly range of the White House because the public, enthusiastically encouraged by many in the news media, treated the presidential election like a high school popularity contest. The successful candidate received kid-gloves treatment — and a free pass on the fuzzy math of his policy proposals — because he seemed like a fun guy to hang out with, while the unsuccessful candidate was subjected to sniggering mockery over his clothing and his mannerisms.

Today, with thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead thanks to presidential folly, with Al Qaeda resurgent and Afghanistan on the brink, you’d think we would have learned a lesson. But the early signs aren’t encouraging. . . .

"What Hillary Should Have Known"

From Salon.

Florida's Senator Bob Graham did not vote for the resolution allowing President Bush to invade Iraq. Read his owns words. (He knew a lot.)

The American people needed to know these reservations [he had about the classified NIE], and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4 [2002], Tenet
presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.

From my advantaged position [as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001], I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth -- or even had an interest in knowing the truth.

On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.

I think Hillary was trying to have it both ways, and still is. Nonetheless, I'd gladly vote for her.

"Inconvenient Truth" Wins Oscar

From Associated Content:

Shortly after Mr. Gore won his award, Melissa Etheridge won for her song "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth. Upon accepting her Oscar, Etheridge shared: "mostly, I have to thank Al Gore-for inspiring us, inspiring me, showing us that caring about the earth is not Republican or Democrat, it's not red or blue, we are all green, this is our job now, we can become the greatest generation, the generation that changed, the generation that woke up, and did something, and changed."

"We need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue,'' Gore said.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Where Were You That Summer of 2001?"

In today's NYT, Frank Rich's article on Al Qaeda's comeback covers a lot of territory.

The intelligence and counterterrorism officials back [in the summer of 2001] were privately sounding urgent warnings like those in last week’s Times, culminating in the President’s Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” . . . But no one, from the White House on down, wanted to hear it.

The White House doesn’t want to hear it now, either. That’s why terrorism experts are trying to get its attention by going public, and not just through The Times. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A. bin Laden unit, told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann last week that the Taliban and Al Qaeda, having regrouped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, “are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States” . . . . Tony Blair is pulling troops out of Iraq not because Basra is calm enough to be entrusted to Iraqi forces . . . but to shift some British resources to the losing battle against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. . . .

The surge supporters who accuse the Iraq war’s critics of emboldening the enemy are trying to deflect attention from their own complicity in losing a bigger battle: the one against the enemy that actually did attack us on 9/11. Who lost Iraq? is but a distraction from the more damning question, Who is losing the war on terrorism?

The record so far suggests that this White House has done so twice. The first defeat, of course, began in early December 2001, when we lost Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora. The public would not learn about that failure until April 2002 (when it was uncovered by The Washington Post), but it’s revealing that the administration started its bait-and-switch trick to relocate the enemy in Iraq just as bin Laden slipped away. It was on Dec. 9, 2001, that Dick Cheney first floated the idea on “Meet the Press” that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. . . .

In the Scooter Libby trial, Mr. Cheney’s former communications aide, Catherine Martin, said that delivering a message on “Meet the Press” was “a tactic we often used.” No kidding. That mention of the nonexistent Prague meeting was the first of five times that the vice president would imply an Iraq-Qaeda collaboration on that NBC show before the war began in March 2003. This bogus innuendo was an essential tool for selling the war precisely because we had lost bin Laden in Afghanistan. If we could fight Al Qaeda by going to war in Iraq instead, the administration could claim it didn’t matter where bin Laden was. (Mr. Bush pointedly stopped mentioning him altogether in public.)

The president now says his government never hyped any 9/11-Iraq links. “Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq,” he said last August after finally conceding that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact everyone in the administration insinuated it constantly, including him. Mr. Bush told of “high-level” Iraq-Qaeda contacts “that go back a decade” in the same notorious October 2002 speech that gave us Saddam’s imminent mushroom clouds. So effective was this propaganda that by 2003 some 44 percent of Americans believed (incorrectly) that the 9/11 hijackers had been Iraqis; only 3 percent had seen an Iraq link right after 9/11.

Though the nonexistent connection was even more specious than the nonexistent nuclear W.M.D., Mr. Bush still leans on it today even while denying that he does so. He has to. His litanies that we are “on the offense” by pursuing the war in Iraq and “fighting terrorists over there, so that we don’t have to fight them here” depend on the premise that we went into that country in the first place to vanquish Al Qaeda and that it is still the “central front” in the war on terror. In January’s State of the Union address hawking the so-called surge, Mr. Bush did it again, warning that to leave Iraq “would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy.” . . .

It should be said that the administration had been planning on attacking Iraq since before 9/11. (It had been part of the Neoconservative agenda for years, and, for Bush, a way to get revenge against "the guy who tried to kill my dad.") After the 9/11 attack, they then scrambled to link 9/11 to Iraq.

Dick Cheney Dangerous, Not "Delusional"

People keep saying he's "delusional." I don't think so.

According to the Neoconservative philosophy, lying to the populace is necessary in order to get them to go along with the designs of those in power, who supposedly know better than the people they govern (doesn't sound very American, does it). Even George Bush let on about this: Remember he said that if you keep telling the people the same thing (i.e., lie) over and over, they will eventually come to believe it. Apparently it worked. After lying to the people about a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, some people still believe it to this day. (And George Bush and Dick Cheney--especially--keep saying it, even after Bush himself admitted it wasn't so.) [SEE POST ABOVE.]

To say that Cheney is "delusional" I think lets him off the hook. He's not mentally ill. He's a contemptible lying elitist anti-democratic bastard who thinks everyone and everything is beneath him*. And he's done nothing but wreak bloody havoc on our country. He's not delusional, he's downright dangerous.

*including, judging by his own draft dodging during Vietnam, military service, which is perhaps why he has no qualms about sacrificing our soldiers in endless misadventures abroad. "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." And who didn't--and still doesn't--have other priorities than to be cannon fodder in a senseless war?

Friday, February 23, 2007

On Hating Gays

I thought this was excellent.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" Petering Out (Thank God)

From today's NYT ("As Clinton Runs, Some Old Foes Stay on Sideline") By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK:

Back when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was first lady, no one better embodied what she once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy” than Richard Mellon Scaife.

Mr. Scaife, reclusive heir to the Mellon banking fortune, spent more than $2 million investigating and publicizing accusations about the supposed involvement of Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in corrupt land deals, sexual affairs, drug running and murder. But now, as Mrs. Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Scaife’s checkbook is staying in his pocket.

Christopher Ruddy, who once worked full-time for Mr. Scaife investigating the Clintons and now runs a conservative online publication he co-owns with Mr. Scaife, said, “Both of us have had a rethinking.”

“Clinton wasn’t such a bad president,” Mr. Ruddy said. “In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today.” . . .

I guess six years of George Bush can change the perspective of even the crustiest of right-wingers.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Movie Nite

B. and I watched "Gone With the Wind." He'd never seen it and I hadn't seen it since I saw it for the first and only time at FSU. It's a classic movie. Watch it, if you haven't already. It's a powerful love story that has a lot to it.

It's a long movie, the longest I've ever seen (it even has an intermission and entr'acte, not to mention an overture). The CD contained the first part on one side and the second part on the other.

I never read the novel by Margaret Mitchell, upon which the movie was based. Some people dislike this book, claiming that it glorifies slavery. I didn't find that to be the case in the movie.

Perhaps the idea that masters and slaves had affectionate emotional bonds offends some people's modern political sensibilities. But I'm sure it's true that masters and slaves did have such bonds (look at Thomas Jefferson, for example, or watch "Rome"). At any rate, it's a very complicated issue and one, I think, not easily reducible to an oppressor/oppressed paradigm in which the only operative emotions are negative and destructive.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Drumbeat for War with Iran

My how those slides showing Iranian weapons found in Iraq look a lot like the phony presentation Colin Powell made at the U.N. before the U.S. invaded.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Homosexual Agenda - A Fantasy

I've begun posting this novel to its own blog. No fancy formatting. I'll have to go back later and add the italics. I decided to post it on a blog rather than a website -- it's easier for me.

By the way, I finished this piece a while back, before people even started talking about "freedom from religion." I'm reading through it one more time before posting it (but, as I've noticed while reading it online, I'm still not catching some mistakes). By the way, three asterisks (or daggers) denote subsection divisions, not omitted material.

"Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says"

(New York Times headline)

So what's the point? Shit happens when you invade another country.

Update: From Editor & Publisher (via Hullabaloo):

Today, in contrast to the Times' report, Dafna Linzer in The Washington Post simply notes, "Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said serial numbers and markings on some explosives used in Iraq indicate that the material came from Iran, but he offered no evidence."

"Is South Beach Growing Up?"

Restaurant review from the New York Times.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Bloggers helped me a lot when, to my horror, I watched as the mainstream media went about trashing Al Gore during the 2000 election cycle. I could hardly believe what I was reading and watching on TV.

I blame Al Gore's loss of the presidency on the MSM. Journalists had stopped doing their traditional job, which is to report. Instead, they were ganging up en masse on the Democratic candidate, weaving Republican talking points into their reportage (which Gore himself objected to). Till then, I'd always had at least a modicum of faith in the MSM.

(Nevertheless, Al Gore went to win the popular election. Now he's going to get an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, while George Bush is going down on record as the worst president in U.S. history.)

Something really wrong has happened in journalism: A widespread dereliction of journalists' responsibility to the public. "The Daily Howler" helped me understand that. And also "Media Whores Online" (which unfortunately no longer exists).

It's great to see people writing here with a conscience ("moral clarity"* ?) and a desire to get to the heart of matters. I think that's exactly what the founders had in mind when they preserved "the freedom of speech, or of the press" in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

* A Neoconservative term of art.

Friday, February 02, 2007