Saturday, December 03, 2005
Moscow OKs Missile Sale in $1 Billion Deal with Iran
December 3, 2005
MOSCOW, RUSSIA -- Russia has agreed to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Iran as part of a $1 billion arms deal that would significantly increase Moscow's military cooperation with Tehran, Russian news media reported Friday. The announcement of the sale coincided with a visit to Moscow by Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, who said in a radio interview that the U.S. had asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to explain the deal, reported by the newspaper Vedomosti and the Interfax news agency.
The missiles, known by the NATO designation SA-15 Gauntlet, are deployed on tracked vehicles and designed to strike aircraft or cruise missiles flying at altitudes up to 20,000 feet at a range of 7 miles, according to the Federation of American Scientists' Web site. Vedomosti, citing two unidentified sources, said Russia would sell 29 missile systems to Iran and that the weapons would complicate a potential air strike by the U.S. or Israel on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Russia is helping to build.
Isn't it amazing how often we kill the "No. 2" guy or "Number 3?" It is al-Qaeda whack-a-mole! "I just whacked No. 2! Wait, I just whacked No. 3! I got No. 2 again!"
By the way, I have a pretty good idea who the "official" was that that sourced this story:
Besides, even suggesting that al-Qaeda has anything like an organizational structure:
merely shows a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the beast.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Jesus is doing the secret sign of my college fraternity! (if I told you which one, I would have to kill you!)
I had no idea Jesus was a bro!
Voting Rights Finding On Map Pushed by DeLay Was Overruled
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.
The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.
John Ashcroft's Justice Department overruled the staff attorneys in favor of Tom Delay?
Thankfully, Bill O'Reilly has come to save the day. He took a break from defending the unjustly accused Bestester Presimident Ev-Uh! to make sure that Christmas Ornaments still got their due. See, FoxNews has an online store, and for a while they were advertising a heathen "Happy Holidays" ornament, designed to spread cheer to whoever received it, regardless of their religious background. But then Baby Jesus cried, and no one wanted that, so they changed it to a Christmas Ornament, and all was recovered, and the Lord spake unto Bill O' Reilly "Thank you, because without you, thousands of families who are gathered to mourn their loved ones who've died because of lies would be forced to see the words "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", and then the terrorists would have won."
* - Where the hell have these people been for, well, my entire life? I've been seeing Happy Holidays stuff as long as I can remember. Did they just notice?
Loree, obviously a deep thinker, complained in a letter to the Chicago Tribune that the big bad liberals are picking on Christmas. How could they do such a terrible thing? [First in the interest of full disclosure, be advised that I celebrate Christmas and, aside from crowded malls and commercial overkill, love the holiday]
Loree, using remarkably bad grammar, describes a frightening scene in which "recent malicious attempts by various anti-Christian or so-called civil liberties groups are proposing Christmas as offensive, and want all mention of it removed." I didn't realize that "recent malicious attempts" are capable of "proposing Christmas," but that is neither here nor there. But I do have just one quick question, Loree. Who are these "anti-Christian or so-called civil liberties groups?" When have they described Christmas as "offensive" and how do they propose to have "all mention of it removed?"
This great scholar goes on to describe how, "with pressure from these organizations, some businesses have given in to these demands and are now refusing to mention Christmas, and have replaced it with other titles and references to a seasonal holiday."
Oh the humanity......oh wait. One quick thing, Loree. The operative word here is BUSINESSES. These are presumably rational, competitive, profit-driven entities. They can't be "pressured" into saying "Happy Holidays," "Joyous Quaanza" or "Geez, Loree, that is the stupidest letter I've ever read" unless it BENEFITS THE BOTTOM LINE. If you don't like how you are greeted or how the store is decorated, SHOP SOMEWHERE ELSE.
She adds "why would any business want to mindfully neglect this large population, which is the major purchaser at this time of year, and, in effect, be intolerant of their customers’ celebration, which has led them to their stores?" See above. If it was hurting their sales, THEY WOULDN'T DO IT.
Oliver Wendell Loree continues with "These organizations with such agendas have a truly twisted idea of the Constitution when they want to hurt many who only wish to worship their religious beliefs. Isn’t this what our Constitution protects us against?"
I didn't realize one worshipped "religious beliefs," I thought you worshipped God, but that is another story for another time. The real question is how are you or anyone else "hurt" by any of this? And no, Loree, the constitution prevents the GOVERNMENT from interfering with or establishing a religion, not with what the kid behind the counter at Burger Barn says to you.
"How can Americans allow a few groups with a twisted sense of righteousness eliminate our freedom of religious worship with the audacity to claim it on constitutional grounds?"
I have a tasty Scooby Snack for you, Loree, if you can cite ONE WAY in which your "freedom of religious worship" has been infringed.
"Those who don’t believe in Christmas are not forced to do so, just as Christians or those of other faiths are not forced to acknowledge the atheistic winter solstice as a celebration."
"Christians should not be punished and nullified due to their numbers any more than any other group should be discriminated against."
Oh please, how are we "punished" or "nullified?"
"Businesses should not be pressured by groups that, in effect, want a religious day of celebration removed due to their intolerance."
Businesses are "pressured" every day to do this or that and the market presumes rational responses to these pressures. That is good old fashioned capitalism.
The first Americans came here so they could worship freely,
Actually, no, the first Americans came here in search of food and land from Asia thousands of years ago. If you are talking about the first EUROPEANS, the Spanish and in Florida and the English at Jamestown didn't care a whit about religious freedom. Our New England forebears certainly had an odd notion of religious freedom, where THEY were free to worship as THEY chose and others were free to be hanged.
"I find this entire attack on the Christmas holiday sinister in its intent—what meaningful effects could even be considered worthy of such an act of intolerance?"
Again, such beautiful writing, but how is there any "intolerance?"
And besides, even if you do celebrate Christmas, what is wrong with "Happy Holidays?" besides being inclusive, this is a festive SEASON. The bosses look the other way while we come in a little later and leave a little earlier, we meet family and friends, watch bad college football teams in meaningless bowl games. Bing Crosby said it, and wished that may the merry bells be ringin' HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you, so Loree,
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The strategy of the Bush administration in Iraq depends heavily on standing up battle-ready units of the new Iraqi army. The USA Today quotes experts on how unrealistic that plan is in the short to medium term. I have heard from contacts in Iraq that the soldiers in the new army often don't get their paychecks, and aren't properly equipped, and sometimes are reduced to selling their bullets on the black market. Guess who buys them?
The clincher is that the Trib also includes a nifty graphic in the print version showing how there are more than 212,000 "trained" Iraqi troops in place, and they source it to an impressive-sounding authority..The Multi-National Security Transition Command. They must be important. After all, they have a cool seal:
After weeks of exhaustive research (actually, one Google click), I found out who the "Multi-National Security Transition Command" is...the envelope please...the winner is...
Wow, what a stunner!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of [insert name of wasted life here] and his fallen comrades and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight, and complete their mission.
Oh please. The only way to honor those who died pointless deaths is to serve up more human sacrifice on the bloody altar of vainglorious foolishness. That is tragic and mindless and brutal and criminal.
I am reminded of a Union captain at the Civil War battle of Cold Harbor, in which the Federal troops faced withering fire from entrenched Confederate forces (one soldier said it was "not war, but murder). Witnessing the POINTLESS slaughter, Captain, T.E. Barker said that "I will not take my regiment in another such charge if Jesus Christ himself should order it!."
Jesus isn't giving any orders, and we should not make `another such charge.'
You reap what you sow, then and now....
Okay, so I know what they mean. The Lying Murdering Terrorist masquerading as a Human, otherwise known as President Duhbya, is trying, once again, to sell people on his unjust and evil war.
I, rather, would like to read it with the second definition here:
v. pitched, pitch·ing, pitch·es
1. To throw, usually with careful aim. See Synonyms at throw.
2. To discard by throwing: pitched the can out the window.
as in, "Bush gets rid of his current war strategy, which has led to over 100,000 deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, with no end in sight and chaos in the Middle East, and replaces it with something developed by somebody who didn't shove their own head up their ass so far they could french kiss the ulcers in their stomach left over from years of self-abuse".
Of course, that would presume that he *had* a war strategy, and we all know that such a thing is second cousin to Harvey the Rabbit.
Asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld said that "obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility" beyond objecting. Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disagreed, saying that each and every U.S. soldier has an "absolute responsibility" to stop inhumane treatment if he or she sees it. Rumsfeld disagreed, saying, "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It's to report it." Pace fired back: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."
So, according to Rumsfeld, if a soldier walks into a room and sees an Iraqi with a car battery attached to his genitals and water dripping on his head, he's supposed to leave, let someone know, and that's it? This would be a difference between the soldiers, who by and large I respect incredibly, and men like Rumsfeld, who did everything they could to avoid serving the country, but have no qualms about sending others off to suffer and die in their place. The soldiers understand how damaging war is, even to those who are physically unhurt, and fight to keep some sense of morality in their lives. Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the chickenhawk yellow elephants see the soldiers as expendable, and anyone on the "other side" as even lower. That's not just wrong, that's inhuman. Not inhumane, inhuman - Rumsfeld, etc, forfeit their status as human beings, in my eyes.
Not to be outdone..... in Nepal a new incarnation of Buddha has been discovered.
"On the eve of a presidential policy speech on the future of U.S. forces in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters Tuesday that Iraqis soon would shoulder much of the future work for securing and rebuilding their country, which U.S. forces invaded in March 2003."
From the same edition, though, we have this:
Iraqi government officials failed Wednesday to deliver the promised results of an investigation into alleged torture at an Interior Ministry jail in Baghdad. U.S. and Iraqi forces discovered 173 malnourished Iraqi detainees when they went into the facility on Nov. 13. Some inmates showed signs of torture, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A U.S. general was so concerned with what he found that he took immediate control of the jail but the military has released few details about it since.
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
Makes you proud, doesn't it?
Rumsfeld's comments drew chuckles but had a serious side. "I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe." Nonetheless, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of "insurgent." He promised to look it up. Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term "insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."
Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term "insurgent." After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word `insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now." Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"
No, Don, that isn't it. How about "people we're killing for no reason????"
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
It appears that the Bushies are beginning to realize the equation of "
Just think, placing the power of the U.S. Air Force at the beck and call of Shi'a fundamentalists! What a great idea!
You can see their little minds at work here though. They are skittering around, like a poodle on linoleum, trying to salvage what they can of what was a ridiculous idea from the inception. The goal of this little misadventure was never WMD, and in many ways, it even wasn't regime change and money, although those were wonderful side benefits to the neocon mind. No, the goal was the Pax Americana,
Unfortunately, reality happened. The Shi'as weren't going to accept even one of their own as an American stooge, the Sunnis, whose numbers included most of Saddam's former officers, soldiers and operatives, have put up a deadly resistance and Pax Americana has turned into Pox Americana. So they need a way out, and they need it quickly. Notice how every time Condi has opened her mouth recently, another 10,000 "Iraqi troops" have been miraculously "trained" and "drawdown" is the word of the day.
Be afraid, be very very afraid.
You're back. If you're a Republican and still reading, go thank a teacher, and then congratulate yourself. You may hold the hope for the future of your party.
Now, a while ago, I disagreed with our fine correspondent over whether the future of America was as bleak as he suggested. In this response (what are these, the Federalist Papers or something?), I want to agree with the classification scheme, and elaborate some more.
Evil - This is truly the scariest group of people in the world. They act as villians in a Dickens novel or something, spending all of their effort to gain more for themselves, actively cruel, and willing to hide behind lie after lie in order to protect their narrow view of the world. There is hope here, however. Not that evil men will vanish, because there will always be evil, as long as there are those who value power above all else. The hope lies in that, as sometimes happens, evil people outreach their grasp, and are brought down. This week we have a shining example in the person of one Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a corrupt Republican (I know, it's redundant) from California, whose heart must have grown three sizes this week, because he turned himself in, and is now turning state's evidence against some of his co-conspirators. Since these people have no souls, once they're caught, they continue to think about how they can gain, and are willing to hurt anyone else (even their compatriots in crime) to do so. I've heard that there could be as many as 60 names coming out of the Abramoff scandal, for example, although we only know a handful so far. We may yet see Turd Blossom and DeLay and Frist hoisted by their own petards. We may not, since too many judges are in the grasp of the evil ones, but that's where the hope lies.
Greedy - The Libertarians are a funny group. In some ways, I would like to be a Libertarian. Philosophically, I respond very well to the ideas of Locke and Hume and Smith, and I'd love to live in a world where everyone was educated enough to make wise choices – to only spend money at businesses that gave good value and high quality, to vote for the person who was best qualified - and so on. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged and listened to Rush (no, not the obnoxious lying blowhard) and all that too. But I’ve also spent some time in the real world, the world where even educated people make stupid decisions, where soldiers coming back from war will spend the rest of their lives suffering from PTSD, where accidents will occur and pension funds will be raided and those who wish to do harm will do so and where those who work hard and try their whole lives to be good people still suffer and children will be born to drug addicts and corporations will ignore deadly practices because it saves a few billion dollars. And as much as I’d love government to operate on the Harm Principle, it’s just not realistic. Here’s an example that I give to those who tell me that we don’t need governmental regulation – consider a pharmaceutical company that develops a wonderful new drug that cures some horrible disease, but rushes it to production, because there’s no oversight, and they want to help as many people as they can as soon as possible (HA!). But they miss that some of those who take the drug will die, because they never tested it properly. And 10,000 people are dead in a month. The market will indeed correct itself, and that company will suffer huge financial losses – perhaps go under for good – but 10,000 people will still be dead. The Libertarian has to write those deaths off as losses that will just happen, but I’m not willing to.
The greedy throw anyone who isn't perfect in their model under the bus. A person with real compassion (read: a Liberal) supports programs that will help people get educated, so they have a better chance of getting that $16/hr job. They support low cost (or no cost) day care programs for those going to school and working low-wage jobs. They support proactive health care programs and coverage for everyone. etc, etc, etc.
And then you know what you do, if you really care about your fellow humans? You look at that "horrible" example of the single mom who won't go to school and won't work and just keeps having more kids and is on drugs and tells the aid people to just keep the checks coming and she doesn't plan on doing a damned thing to help - and you provide aid anyway. Not really for her sake (although we don't want her to starve), but unless something's done for her kids - get them in decent schools, get them life mentoring (cuz they sure aren't getting that at home), get them health care and food and clothes and whatever it takes, they won't have a chance.
Because that's really what this country is supposed to be about - everyone has a chance to succeed. Some people are born with that chance, and some need help, perhaps multiple times during their lives, to get it. And then we set a floor beneath which we won't let anyone go (unless they really choose to - ya wanna live by yourself in a shack in the mountains and never speak to anyone? bully for you), and we make that floor one we're all comfortable with - healthy enough food to make a good diet out of, shelter that has heat and air and is sturdy and mechanically sound, access to health care that focuses on catching things before they get bad, and most importantly, an education which opens minds and encourages dreams and treats everyone as if they have the potential to be great.
Will some squander their chance, through bad choices, or sloth, or whatever? Of course. Not everyone will be Bill Gates. But that floor's there for them too.
Stupid - This is the group where we have some hope of making things better. The evil may go to jail, the greedy may one day need Social Security and Medicare and discover the value of sharing, but the stupid can learn. They’re not being taught right now, not in enough places by enough people with enough resources, but therein lies the potential for a better world. We may live in America the Stupid, but most of the stupid people out there aren’t incapable of learning – just ignorant of how to learn. Perhaps it’s because I’m a teacher, but I think that pretty much everyone can learn a little more than they think they can, if given the tools. The Evil and the Greedy don’t want this, of course – they know that the dumber the rest of us are, the easier it is to tell us what to do.
But this is where I fight, because these are the people who can change. Maybe not BubbaJoeJimBobBubba, with his confederate flag and his indiscriminate use of racial slurs and the What Would Jeff Gordon Do? bumper stickers, but his kids. We need to develop a national will not just to throw standards at education, but to really make it better. To make it so that the kids born in the New Trier school district and kids born in the middle of nowhere, population Uncle Daddy and Aunt Sister, and kids born to a crack whore and a gangbanger have the same opportunities to learn. To make teaching a profession that’s rewarding financially as well as personally. To look not for the lowest possible level of “acceptable” work, but to push every child to do as well as they can.
Someday, if we can figure out how to do that, things will change.
Monday, November 28, 2005
The U.S. may stage as many "elections" as it cares to, but these charades are nothing more than the above porcine cosmetic. The result is not democracy, but rather a curious mismash of an Islamic republic awkwardly blended with a U.S. military occupation.
We have the perverse spectacle of Iraq's former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, complaining that human rights abuses by some in the new government are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein. ""People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," he said. Mix that in with the blending of Sunni resistance and "terror," and you have a disaster that no number of purple fingers can hide.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
(Chicago Tribune) A number of college athletes, including several football players at Top 25 schools, are living in apartments set aside for the poorest Americans.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" explores the subject Sunday.
The investigation found some of the most successful college programs have players living in subsidized housing, including Nebraska and Virginia Tech--which has 19 players living in a federally-subsidized complex in Blacksburg to house needy people.
As first brought to light by the Des Moines Register, dozens of full-scholarship Hawkeyes players, who received money for housing, paid little or no rent. Among them was offensive lineman Brian Ferentz, the son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who was found to be living in an apartment subsidized by taxpayers.
should be in
New Mexico Governor Comes Clean on MLB Draft Record
(AP) - Gov. Bill Richardson is coming clean on his draft record--the baseball draft, that is, admitting that his claim to have been a pick of the Kansas City A's in 1966 was untrue. For nearly four decades, Richardson, often mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, has maintained he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.
The claim was included in a brief biography released when Richardson successfully ran for Congress in 1982. A White House news release in 1997 mentioned it when he was about to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported it as fact over the years. But an investigation by the Albuquerque Journal found no record of Richardson being drafted by the A's, who have since moved to Oakland, or any other team.
Informed by the newspaper of its findings, the governor acknowledged the error in a story in Thursday's editions. "After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter ... I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's," he said. Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos declined to comment when reached by the AP on Thursday.
Richardson, a right-handed pitcher who played at Tufts University, said he was actively scouted by several major league teams in the 1960s. He insisted his name appeared on "a draft list of some kind" created by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He named team scouts, whom he said told him that he "would or could" be drafted. The scouts have since died. Richardson later developed arm trouble, eliminating any possible pro career.
In the summer of 1967, he played for the amateur Cape Cod League's Cotuit (Mass.) Kettleers. The words "Drafted by K.C." appear next to his name on a faded team program, the Journal reported. "When I saw that program in 1967, I was convinced I was drafted," Richardson said. "And it stayed with me all these years."
Then-general manager Arnold Mycock said the biographical information was supplied by players or their college coaches. On a biographical sheet Richardson completed for Tufts in his junior year, he wrote, "Drafted by Kansas City (1966), LA (1968)." He said he wrote those words because he believed they were true.
"I never tried to embellish this," he said. "I never tried to mask it." Richardson, elected governor in 2002, is seeking a second term next year.