Friday, December 29, 2006

Guest host again

While Susie over at Suburban Guerrilla is off working on the campaign of Philadelphia mayoral candidate Tom Knox, Maya and I will be holding down the fort for her during the next few months. I'll be cross-posting a lot, but some stuff I will post only here, some only there, depending on relevance, my mood, etc. So swing by both here and there and have a look around.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas

(War is Over).

Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy holiday season.


James Brown, 73.


Saturday, December 16, 2006


The incompetence of this administration is utterly mind-boggling. Even England is just releasing anyone returned there from Gitmo.

The United States does not systematically track what happens to detainees once they leave Guantanamo, the U.S. State Department says. [What benefit would there be to keeping track of people the Pentagon calls "the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth"? -- Dr. S]

Defense lawyers and human rights groups say they know of no centralized database, although one group is attempting to compile one.

When the Pentagon announces a detainee has been moved from Guantanamo, it gives his nationality but not his name, making it difficult to track the roughly 360 men released since the detention center opened in January 2002. The Pentagon says detainees have been sent to 26 countries.

But through interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals — one in Kuwait, one in Spain — initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.
So there is no record of anyone who was detained at Guantanamo being convicted of anything. But that's no reason to give up hope. After all, if you indiscriminately sweep up enough people, the law of averages dictates that sooner or later, you'll accidentally find someone you're looking for. And the Bush administration continues to hold about 420 people at Gitmo without charges. One of them is bound to be guilty of something, right?

It's not possible that of the hundreds and hundreds of people held prisoner there and at secret CIA prisons around the world by the Bush administration, not one person is guilty of what they're accused of (but not charged with).

Is it?

Even the Iraqis, amid a state of utter horror and chaos in their country, were able to convict Saddam Hussein. And in five years, the Bush administration hasn't secured one conviction against an actual terrorist.

Boo hoo

Sometimes, people get what they deserve.

New announcer boys

Jerry Trupiano to be replaced on Sox radio by Dave O'Brien of ESPN and Glenn Geffner, a former Padres radio announcer who was the Sox media relations director in 2005. Joe Castiglione, however, will be back.


'Pen pals

Sox acqire Brendan Donnelly from the Angels for rookie left-hander Phil Seibel and sign free agent lefty J.C. Romero.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Feeling safer yet?

Considering that the color-coded threat advisory system is something that "quite a few people worked on, labored over for months and months," I guess we should be happy that it took only five years to introduce a plan for rail security.

Rejection by proxy

How to create the political cover that will allow you to go on TV at Christmas in January and reject your father's unwelcome offer of help:

First, get a subordinate to publicly reject key ISG recommendations while you are still "reviewing" policy. (If this weren't theater, don't you think Condi's statement, made while Bush was still considering all options, would paint him into a corner?) Then get her to test language you could use in describing your fake policy shift, such as "expansive" and "a departure."

No, not that kind of departure. That's not happening until 2009, at the soonest. That way George can claim to himself and others that he didn't surrender. And isn't the psyche of one rich Yale legacy more important than the lives of thousands of American troops and Iraqi civilians?

With this press conference, the rejection of the recommendation to engage Iran and Syria in talks is Condi's, not Bush's. And it allows Bush to go on TV (whenever he gets around to it) and say, "On the advice of my advisers..."

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Sox sign Matsuzaka. Six years, $52 million.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For sale: Lead

How fucking stupid.

Seven items sold in Capitol Hill gift shops have been removed after it was discovered that they contained high and “potentially lethal” levels of lead, according to a report released yesterday by House Government Reform Committee Democrats.

The products were removed from store shelves a month ago when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) notified gift shops that preliminary reports showed that some products had unsafe lead levels.

“These items contained enough lead to seriously harm children who handle, mouth, or ingest them. Their presence in Capitol gift shops is an unnecessary risk to children,” the report says.

Capitol bracelets and eagle pendants, as well as a Capitol dome pin, Capitol charm and souvenir spoon all contained high levels of lead, the report said. In all, 13 items were tested. One $4.95 silver-plated bracelet contained 38 percent lead, a potentially lethal amount, the report says.
On the plus side, it appears that Barack Obama has finally done something in Congress.

Policy review

The impression we’re supposed to get from Bush's very high-profile Iraq policy review is that Bush is listening to a wide range of brutally honest opinions as he reviews his Iraq strategy, whatever that happens to be.

The reality is that the administration is building a case for rejecting ISG recommendations, at least the ones that call for action that could be interpreted as admitting failure.

The Washington Post story on Bush’s meeting with experts starts by pointing out that Bush is hearing a “blunt and dismal assessment of his handling of Iraq.” We, in turn, are supposed to be satisfied that Bush finally is being told uncomfortable, inconvenient truths.

Normally, we would expect the president’s receiving reliable, unsullied information to be standard operating procedure, but this administration has set the bar so low that we’re expected to throw Bush a parade when he listens to someone telling him the truth.

Remember how you applauded when your baby finally put food in her mouth instead of on her head?

This may be nitpicking, but the story says Bush “heard a blunt and dismal assessment.” One could argue that what is being referred to as dismal isn’t Bush’s handling of Iraq, but the assessment of his handling of Iraq. This is something that wouldn’t escape the notice of professional copy editors. At least it shouldn’t. This lack of clarity could have been resolved by printing what Bush was told about his handling of Iraq, perhaps quoting someone who was at the meeting. But that didn’t happen. In fact, the only other reference to Bush’s alleged brush with reality was that the military experts told Bush the situation in Iraq is “as dire as the study group had indicated.”

Just another subtle layer between us and seeing Bush dressed down or forced to admit failure, courtesy of the editors at the Washington Post, the paper that goes out of its way to avoid calling bush a liar. “By nature,” I suppose.

But we’re veering off course here. After all, this isn’t a critique of the Post story, it’s an indictment of the Bush administration’s policy-review charade.

So Bush was told the situation in Iraq is dire. Well, no shit. Bush didn’t need retired generals to tell him that; a reasonably well-informed 12-year-old could have provided that exact same analysis.

What’s going on at the White House is the same dangerous, destructive bullshit that’s been going on there for the last almost seven years: Bush once again is surrounding himself with people willing to tell him what he wants to hear. At this meeting, military experts and retired generals advised him against troop reductions and against engaging Iran and Syria in talks, neither of which he planned to do anyway. These “carefully choreographed” meetings, as the Post calls them, give Bush the cover he needs to justify doing what he planned to do all along: nothing.

At least nothing the ISG recommends. Those are Bush I’s friends, and there’s no way junior is going to let his father tell him what to do. Lots of children refuse to take their parents’ advice and have to learn things “the hard way.” But hundreds of thousands of lives usually aren’t hanging in the balance, and the impetuous youth who just has to make his own mistakes usually isn’t 60 years old.

Shifting the blame

The families of the Sago Mine victims aren't buying it.

The release of a report blaming lightning as the cause of last January's Sago Mine explosion has been delayed.

West Virginia state investigators are holding off on releasing the report about the blast that killed 12 miners "in deference to the requests and needs of the family members for additional information," said Gov. Joe Manchin.
Maybe the families were expecting additional information about the more than 200 citations [link] for safety violations that Sago received from the Mine Safety and Health Administration in 2005.

And that's from a Bush administration oversight body.

MSHA cited Sago 208 times for safety violations in 2005, but (Joe Pavlovich, former director of MSHA District 7 in Kentucky) said that's less relevant than the fact that 15 of the citations required the company to close parts of the mine or shut down equipment.

Mine inspectors usually allow companies to keep mining while they correct safety violations and only issue closure orders when they see "a high degree of negligence," he said. Companies typically aren't forced to close a section of a mine unless the companies have ignored previous citations for the same violation, he said.
But I'm sure those 208 safety violations didn't create a dangerous environment for the miners.

It was lightning. Got it? Lightning.

Worse and worse

Just another day in BushCo's war of choice.
Many of the 60 killed and 220 wounded by a suicide truck bomb blast in central Baghdad Tuesday morning were unemployed Iraqis lured toward the explosion by an offer of work, according to an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Meanwhile, in the other war...
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber blew himself up at the governor's compound in southern Helmand province on Tuesday, killing eight people, including two civilians, officials said.
Keep polishing that slogan, George.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Guest hosts

Susie over at Suburban Guerrilla is taking a much-needed break this week, so Maya and I are filling in for her. Some stuff I post here also will be posted there, depending on relevance to her audience and the mood I'm in. So check both places early and often. Drop whatever else you're doing. Quit your job if you have to. Just keep reading!


Gee, how could this possibly go wrong?

A state lawmaker wants to make sure no Texan is left out when it comes to hunting, even if the hunter is legally blind.

Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, has filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session that would allow legally blind hunters to use a laser sight, or lighted pointing instrument. The devices are forbidden for sighted hunters.

Blind hunters would also have to have a sighted hunter along with them, but they could hunt any game that sighted people can hunt in the same seasons and using the same weapons.

"This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great," Kuempel said.
After all, why should only sighted people get to sneak up on and kill defenseless animals to prove they're not pussies?


Your government at work.

When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.

Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way -- by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as "Iran and nuclear," three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.
I understand that they also asked Jeeves -- you know, due diligence and all -- but his lack of cooperation landed him in Gitmo.

Now you know why it's simply now.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spilled milk

Click here for a modern civics lesson.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not surprising

Rumsfeld will spend the rest of his life defending his tenure as SecDef, but the fact that this trip had to be made in secrecy tells you everything you need to know.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a secret farewell trip to Iraq, a senior Pentagon official confirmed on Saturday.

Rumsfeld's trip, first reported by ABC News, was his 13th unannounced visit to the country. It came one day after he gave a farewell address at the Pentagon and nine days before he is replaced by Robert Gates.

No other details of Rumsfeld's trip or whether he was still in Iraq were immediately available.

Wow, 13 unannounced visits to Iraq. That could mean Don's last announced visit to Iraq was

We've been in Iraq longer than we were in World War II, and the invasion's architects still can't announce trips there in advance.

The day before his most recent clandestine pop-in, Don gave his farewell speech to personnel at the Pentagon, who have changed the date of their annual holiday party so it doesn't coincide with his departure. (Really, who will feel like partying the day Rumsfeld leaves the Pentagon for good?) While he was giving that address, a federal judge was listening to arguments in a civil suit that claims Rumsfeld authorized illegal interrogation tactics.

It satisfies my sense of justice to see that Rumsfeld's leaving under a cloud of shame and possible legal jeopardy, especially knowing that he's capable of this, part of the Bush administration's awkward display of mock compassion after Hurricane Katrina.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured a medical facility at New Orleans' international airport. He spoke and shook hands with military and rescue officials but walked right by a dozen refugees lying on stretchers just feet away from him, most of them extremely sick or handicapped.
What a shame that the American people are losing the services of such a dedicated public servant.

Much ado about nobody

The Dodgers are considering filing tampering charges against the Sox regarding J.D. Drew? They should be thanking Theo for taking the overrated stiff off their hands.

I think Drew is going to be a very expensive bust, for reasons I explained here, and I expect him to spend plenty of time on the DL. And I'm not alone in thinking he's going to be a disaster for the Sox.

According to a GM not involved in the Drew matter, the belief among GMs at the winter meetings was split regarding whether the Sox may have tampered.

“Actually, most GMs feel it was a stupid sign and they did the Dodgers a favor,” he said.
With any luck, the Dodgers will file a grievance and MLB will void Drew's contract with Boston and send him back to the Dodgers.

Hey, I can hope, can't I?

Stop the speculation

Let's put an end to the questions of whether Bush will accept the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. He won't.

Bush said, "There is one thing I'm not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." Does that sound like he's looking for a graceful exit from Iraq? Or any exit?

And what is that mission, anyway? Kill every terrorist in the world, so nobody remembers how to utilize the TACTIC of terrorism? Kill enough people that the Iraqis start loving the United States, beg us for some democracy at gunpoint, accept our values and beliefs, and build statues of George Bush, their liberator?

A statue would beat the shit out of Baghdad's tribute to poppy. Take that, old man.

Call me old fashioned, but I'm of the school that believes an Oedipal pissing contest is an insufficient reason for leaving our troops in harm's way.

But although the administration will reject the ISG's recommendations, it will pretend to consider them. After all, considering them is what adults would do.

White House advisers say Bush won't react in detail to the ISG report for several weeks, while he assesses it and awaits various internal government reports on the situation from his own advisers. Bush tells aides he doesn't want to "outsource" his role as commander in chief. Some Bush allies say this is a way to buy some time as the president tries to decide how to deal with rising pressure to alter his strategy in Iraq and hopes the critical media focus on the Iraq war will soften.
Translation: We will look for some face-saving opportunities that don't require us to do anything that could be intrepreted as admitting failure.

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons," says a former adviser to Bush the elder. "If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."
I was going to write essentially the following, but Josh saved me the trouble.

I'm not sure I've ever heard anything truer said on the whole sorry topic of this war. And it gets to the heart of the issue. He won't ever change course. Not because there's anyone who can't see that the present course is a catastrophe, but because changing course would cut the legs from under the collective denial of the president and his supporters. As bad as things get they can still pretend they're on the way to getting better. It's a long hard slog to January 2009 when it becomes someone else's fault. Once they pull the plug themselves, though, they admit it was all a disaster, that the whole presidency was, in Dick Gephardt's half forgotten phrase, "a miserable failure."

That is why we're in Iraq today. Get your head around it.
Bush is not pulling the troops out. His strategy is to do nothing until Iraq becomes someone else's problem. Because at this point, the strategy isn't about a U.S. victory in Iraq, it's about Bush's avoiding blame for failure.

30 percent

That means for every 10 people in this country, 7 think you suck.

'The most useless Congress in modern times'

Petty, rotten and corrupt to the end. You at least have to admire their consistency.

The 109th Congress stumbled toward an angry close early Saturday as the Republican majority used its last hours of power to try to enact broad tax and trade legislation while Democrats accused Republicans of saddling them with a fiscal mess to clean up when they take control next month.

With minutes to spare before a midnight deadline on Friday, Congress approved a stop-gap measure to keep money flowing to federal agencies at current or reduced levels through Feb. 15, because this Congress has not passed regular annual spending bills.

The failure to dispose of the most basic Congressional work sparked recriminations over who was to blame as leaders of the House Appropriations Committee lashed out at the Senate. Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat on the spending panel, called the temporary financing “a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times.”

As a result of the spending impasse, Democrats will be forced to deal with the leftover money issues as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.

“It is not just that they turned out the lights — they took the light bulb,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who will join the Democratic leadership in the next Congress.
Member of the 109th Congress, this is your legacy. This is why.

Good riddance.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Former Giants SS Jose Uribe killed in car crash in the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Get the lead in


The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.

Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.

A preliminary staff review released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week acknowledged the possibility of dropping the health standards for lead air pollution. The agency says revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant.
Changed circumstances? Is lead not a neurotoxin anymore or something?

No, wait, I checked. With the EPA. It still is:

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
The AP story offers an example of the kind of things people say when you dilute sound public policy with bullshit politics.

Bill Wehrum, who heads the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said the agency is "committed to continuing to significantly reduce lead emissions in this country. That's what we're trying to figure out."
So the agency that's considering dropping the health standards for lead air pollution is committed to significantly reducing lead emissions. Being that dropping those standards will have the opposite effect of the agency's stated goal, I can only assume that what the EPA is "trying to figure out" is how to reduce lead emissions while keeping the asses of the administration's campaign donors sufficiently slathered with saliva.

Hmm, that is a tough one.

If it's one or the other, I don't think I need to tell you which this administration will choose.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bush knew

How often do I get to type that?

It seems recent reports of incivility during a meeting between Bush and Sen.-elect Jim Webb were — what's the word? Oh yeah, wrong.

Oh, there was plenty of incivility, just the complete opposite of what was reported.

At a recent White House reception, President Bush asked Sen.-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), “How’s your boy?” referring to Webb’s son Jimmy, who is serving in Iraq. Webb answered, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” to which Bush responded, “That’s not what I asked you.” Webb then replied, “That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President.”

The right wing has been attacking Webb for his reaction to Bush’s question.


But according to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Bush was told that Webb’s son had a recent brush with death in Iraq and was warned to be “extra sensitive” when talking to the Sen.-elect. ThinkProgress yesterday spoke with Moran’s office and confirmed the congressman’s statement, first reported by hcc in VA:

Not only did Bush know about it, he was specifically briefed on the incident before meeting with Webb, and was cautioned to be extra sensitive in speaking with Webb about his son.
I wonder if George Will is planning another column about the exchange, you know, after writing this:

Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.
Egg, meet face.

But George Will's purporting to have sources inside the minds of Bush and Webb isn't the issue here. The real issue is what kind of human being is roaming the halls of the White House four and a half days a week? Webb ought to be congratulated for keeping his cool.

Still, it does bother me that journalists apparently don't ask questions anymore.

Monday, December 04, 2006


That's Vice President Dick Cheney, pardners, looking all manly and traditional values-y, and NOTHING, I repeat, nothing, like some 5-deferment-taking pussy from the Vietnam era, in the 2007 RNC calendar.

I viewed the rest of the images that loyal wingnuts can gaze at conservatively each month, but noted a few unfortunate omissions. For instance, where's this picture?

That was the end of major combat operations in Iraq, a defining moment of the Bush presidency. How could it be left out? And what about this one?

It's President Bush, applying his deft touch to the world of international relations. How can any patriotic American see that picture and not beam with pride?

And I got to thinkin': Why doesn't the calendar include all Republicans? You know, big tent and all that. Why leave so much greatness uncelebrated?

For example, who could forget this guy?

Or the Duke-stir?

I mean, you have 12 months. Why not make room for Bob Ney and Tom Noe? Hey, why not make it a 16-month calendar and include David Safavian?

The summer months beg for some vacation photos. You know, heartwarming images of Republicans at play, like this:

So what if Cheney shot him in the face in February? Harry Whittington is Mr. June.

But this may be one of my favorite vacation photos.

After all, vacation is about casting your cares aside and just HAVING FUN, and if you can smile while an entire major American city is drowning, then you really get what it means to be on vacation.

And let's not forget the holidays, that magical time of year when our homes are visited by that guy we all know so well (but none of us have actually met), with gifts for all the girls, boys and re-election campaigns.

I don't see a menorah, but the White House claims that 'ol Jack came around only for Hanukkah receptions, and that's good enough for me.

And where the fuck are Rummy and Wolfie? I mean, who -- besides Bush -- better personifies the defining event of Bush's legacy? And what about Condi?

I'd hate to think it was a black thing.